Tyranny as art

George Will, in an insightful column on Russia’s invasion of Georgia, Russia’s Power Play, makes the best comment I have seen on the opening ceremonies of the Olympics:

For only the third time in 72 years (Berlin 1936, Moscow 1980), the Games are being hosted by a tyrannical regime, the mind of which was displayed in the opening ceremonies featuring thousands of drummers, each face contorted with the same grotesquely frozen grin. It was a tableau of the miniaturization of the individual and the subordination of individuality to the collective. Not since the Nazi’s 1934 Nuremberg rally, which Leni Riefenstahl turned into the film “Triumph of the Will,” has tyranny been so brazenly tarted up as art.

Harold Meyerson offers a reading of the event, which he thinks will be turning point, with the world turning away from American-style democracy in favor of Chinese-style omnipotent and benevolent authoritarianism:

If ever there was a display of affable collectivism, it was filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s opening ceremonies, which in their reduction of humans to a mass precision abstraction seemed to derive in equal measure from Busby Berkeley and Leni Riefenstahl. (Much of Berlin’s 1936 Olympics, we should recall, was choreographed by Riefenstahl to fit the fascist aesthetics of her film “Olympiad.”) The subject of Zhang’s ceremonies was a celebration of Chinese achievement and power, at all times stressing China’s harmonious relations with the rest of the world. Its masterstroke, however, wasn’t its brilliant design but the decision, during the parade of the athletes, to have Chinese flag-bearer Yao Ming accompanied by an adorable 9-year-old boy who survived the recent catastrophic earthquake that killed many of his classmates, and who returned, after he had extricated himself from the rubble, to save two of his classmates. When asked why he went back, the NBC broadcaster told us, the boy said that he was a hall monitor and that it was his job to take care of his schoolmates.

That answer may tell us more than we want to know. He could have gone back because his friends were still inside. Instead, he went back because he was a responsible little part of a well-ordered hierarchy. For all we know, he might well have gone back even if he weren’t a hall monitor, but his answer — whether spontaneously his own or one that some responsible grown-up concocted for him — works brilliantly as an advertisement for an authoritarian power bent on convincing the world that its social and political model is as benign as any democracy’s.

What Russia did last Friday was appalling, but it ultimately poses no systematic challenge to the world’s democracies. What China did last Friday was entrancing, but its cuddly capitalist-Leninism, already much beloved by our major banks and corporations for its low-wage efficiency, poses a genuine economic challenge to the messier, unsynchronized workings of democracies. A nation that can assemble 2,000 perfectly synchronized drummers has clearly staked its claim as the world’s assembly line.

China has found how tyranny and economic prosperity can go together. If China really is the nation of the 21st century, what the USA was in the 20th, that kind of authoritarianism really may be the wave of the near future. Dictatorships really can be more efficient than Democracies in “getting things done,” which is what even Americans now want from their government. We are not sure what we want done and we citizens do not want to be bothered with figuring it out, preferring to leave that to the experts and to state power. Greek democracy was abandoned; the Roman republic gave way to Emperor. Couldn’t that happen with us too?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • David

    Babel was the collectivist attempt to become like God. We have seen and will see it attempted over and over in history, but with limited success. The sad thing is the carnage and destruction that takes place during this imposed idolatry.

  • David

    Babel was the collectivist attempt to become like God. We have seen and will see it attempted over and over in history, but with limited success. The sad thing is the carnage and destruction that takes place during this imposed idolatry.

  • http://www.pluckedchicken.net Jesse Jacobsen

    It is already begun. That was an important point in Jonah Goldberg’s book, which you’d mentioned when it came out.

  • http://www.pluckedchicken.net Jesse Jacobsen

    It is already begun. That was an important point in Jonah Goldberg’s book, which you’d mentioned when it came out.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    A brilliant observation on a political blog:
    ‘I think the lesson here is that the Russians do a better job of learning from history.’
    I would also say they and the Chinese do a better job of not caring where history comes down on them. They don’t wring their hands–certainly not in public–and they don’t allow alternative ideologies a foothold on the debate.
    I’m not for a closed society by any stretch. But one that whistles in the wind–and so many of them silly songs–and one that takes seriously ideology-driven agenda over a national-interest agenda, and can’t tell the difference between the two, is pretty much on the decline.
    It’s fiddling–or whistling–while the world turns.
    Americans still struggle against each other, while the other powers say, ‘I’ll take that and that and that…’
    But, by golly, we know a racist comment when we hear one.
    Black hole, indeed.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    A brilliant observation on a political blog:
    ‘I think the lesson here is that the Russians do a better job of learning from history.’
    I would also say they and the Chinese do a better job of not caring where history comes down on them. They don’t wring their hands–certainly not in public–and they don’t allow alternative ideologies a foothold on the debate.
    I’m not for a closed society by any stretch. But one that whistles in the wind–and so many of them silly songs–and one that takes seriously ideology-driven agenda over a national-interest agenda, and can’t tell the difference between the two, is pretty much on the decline.
    It’s fiddling–or whistling–while the world turns.
    Americans still struggle against each other, while the other powers say, ‘I’ll take that and that and that…’
    But, by golly, we know a racist comment when we hear one.
    Black hole, indeed.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    In the commentary over the women’s gymnastics team competition last night it was revealed that China hand picks children for athletic competition at the age of three. The girls on their “team” don’t see their parents but once a year.

    Sick. But if it works?

    In the men’s team competition the coach said he would throw himself off of one of China’s skyscrapers if the team didn’t win gold. I wonder if Chinese government officials would have held him to that promise.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    In the commentary over the women’s gymnastics team competition last night it was revealed that China hand picks children for athletic competition at the age of three. The girls on their “team” don’t see their parents but once a year.

    Sick. But if it works?

    In the men’s team competition the coach said he would throw himself off of one of China’s skyscrapers if the team didn’t win gold. I wonder if Chinese government officials would have held him to that promise.

  • Rev. Bob

    I know this might take things a bit off topic, but I am a little confused by the comment about the little boy who went back to save his friends because he was the hall monitor. The author seems to say his motives for going back were not very good since he wasn’t trying to save his friends but because it was his job to do so (I could be misreading it, granted).

    Wouldn’t this be an excellent example of vocation? A boy who puts his own personal interests aside because his station in life that day was hall monitor, thus he had the responsibility to watch out for his classmates and did so any cost? I see how this is a nice “commercial” for the Chinese government and quite manipulative, but regardless, that is a pretty good hall monitor!

  • Rev. Bob

    I know this might take things a bit off topic, but I am a little confused by the comment about the little boy who went back to save his friends because he was the hall monitor. The author seems to say his motives for going back were not very good since he wasn’t trying to save his friends but because it was his job to do so (I could be misreading it, granted).

    Wouldn’t this be an excellent example of vocation? A boy who puts his own personal interests aside because his station in life that day was hall monitor, thus he had the responsibility to watch out for his classmates and did so any cost? I see how this is a nice “commercial” for the Chinese government and quite manipulative, but regardless, that is a pretty good hall monitor!

  • Susan aka organshoes

    There’s also the vocation of friend. Fellow man, and all that.
    Even a soldier performs an act of heroism and sacrifice, not because ‘it’s my job’ but because ‘those were my buddies.’

  • Susan aka organshoes

    There’s also the vocation of friend. Fellow man, and all that.
    Even a soldier performs an act of heroism and sacrifice, not because ‘it’s my job’ but because ‘those were my buddies.’

  • Don S

    America is declining, it would appear, but it is not because of Chinese dominance. We are declining because of our refusal to love and fear God, and to acknowledge the freedoms and liberties granted to us by God as individuals, and enumerated in our own Constitution. Secular humanism and relativistic morality is what is destroying us.

    China is the Japan of the ’80′s. Demographics caught up with Japan and they are soon to catch up with China. You cannot kill more than half of your babies and survive long-term as a society. The replacement rate for Chinese couples is less than 0.5 (maximum of one child per couple). Who is going to run the economy and support all of the elderly? How will China sustain economic growth? How many workers will they have to import, and from where will they come?

    If you Google “China” and “population”, there is an animation on the IIASA website which illustrates the gradient of Chinese population by age between 1950 and 2050. It is very graphic. At current rates, the largest age segment in China in 2050 will be ages 60-64. You will also note that its population is at its prime right now, which is why their economy is growing so well. In the short term, the productive age group is dominant, and they have a relatively small youth population to support. But that will soon change most dramatically.

    We don’t need to fear China, at least in the long term. We need to fear ourselves, and our own refusal to love, honor, and obey the God who has blessed our country so abundantly.

  • Don S

    America is declining, it would appear, but it is not because of Chinese dominance. We are declining because of our refusal to love and fear God, and to acknowledge the freedoms and liberties granted to us by God as individuals, and enumerated in our own Constitution. Secular humanism and relativistic morality is what is destroying us.

    China is the Japan of the ’80′s. Demographics caught up with Japan and they are soon to catch up with China. You cannot kill more than half of your babies and survive long-term as a society. The replacement rate for Chinese couples is less than 0.5 (maximum of one child per couple). Who is going to run the economy and support all of the elderly? How will China sustain economic growth? How many workers will they have to import, and from where will they come?

    If you Google “China” and “population”, there is an animation on the IIASA website which illustrates the gradient of Chinese population by age between 1950 and 2050. It is very graphic. At current rates, the largest age segment in China in 2050 will be ages 60-64. You will also note that its population is at its prime right now, which is why their economy is growing so well. In the short term, the productive age group is dominant, and they have a relatively small youth population to support. But that will soon change most dramatically.

    We don’t need to fear China, at least in the long term. We need to fear ourselves, and our own refusal to love, honor, and obey the God who has blessed our country so abundantly.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don S (@7), if it is true that America is “declining because of our refusal to love and fear God, and to acknowledge the freedoms and liberties granted to us by God as individuals, and enumerated in our own Constitution” and that “secular humanism and relativistic morality is what is destroying us,” then why is China doing so well at the moment?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don S (@7), if it is true that America is “declining because of our refusal to love and fear God, and to acknowledge the freedoms and liberties granted to us by God as individuals, and enumerated in our own Constitution” and that “secular humanism and relativistic morality is what is destroying us,” then why is China doing so well at the moment?

  • Susan aka organshoes

    tODD: It’s telling that you say, and is as Don S pointed out, only ‘for the moment’.
    I don’t for one minute believe we’re a Christian nation, but I do think we used to be a God-fearing one, driven by that fear (respect) to individual restraints we no longer answer to. Or at least, we’re less inclined to answer to restraint, or to see restraint as a good thing, or as anything but an imposition, and arbitrary at that. (I’m talking about individuals, not government.)
    The opposite of God-fearing might well be, in our case, self-indulging. I think that’s demonstrable.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    tODD: It’s telling that you say, and is as Don S pointed out, only ‘for the moment’.
    I don’t for one minute believe we’re a Christian nation, but I do think we used to be a God-fearing one, driven by that fear (respect) to individual restraints we no longer answer to. Or at least, we’re less inclined to answer to restraint, or to see restraint as a good thing, or as anything but an imposition, and arbitrary at that. (I’m talking about individuals, not government.)
    The opposite of God-fearing might well be, in our case, self-indulging. I think that’s demonstrable.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Susan (@9), speculation about what might happen to China in the future, you didn’t actually answer the question. Or, rather, you seem to have taken what Don said (@7) and changed America’s problem from being “our refusal to love and fear God, and to acknowledge the freedoms and liberties granted to us by God as individuals” and “secular humanism and relativistic morality” to merely “self-indulging”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Susan (@9), speculation about what might happen to China in the future, you didn’t actually answer the question. Or, rather, you seem to have taken what Don said (@7) and changed America’s problem from being “our refusal to love and fear God, and to acknowledge the freedoms and liberties granted to us by God as individuals” and “secular humanism and relativistic morality” to merely “self-indulging”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Whoops. Should read “speculation about what might happen to China in the future aside

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Whoops. Should read “speculation about what might happen to China in the future aside

  • Manxman

    The thing that I came away with from the opening ceremony of the Olympics is that tremendous power and beauty can result from unity and discipline. This is a lesson that our nation, which is overdosing on a toxic concept of “freedom” and individuality, needs to take to heart. I don’t worry about the Chinese authoritarinism and state-controlled capitalism – I worry about the moral and spiritual poverty of America which will make it impossible to compete with a people like the Chinese.

  • Manxman

    The thing that I came away with from the opening ceremony of the Olympics is that tremendous power and beauty can result from unity and discipline. This is a lesson that our nation, which is overdosing on a toxic concept of “freedom” and individuality, needs to take to heart. I don’t worry about the Chinese authoritarinism and state-controlled capitalism – I worry about the moral and spiritual poverty of America which will make it impossible to compete with a people like the Chinese.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Manxman, are you saying (@12) that China is morally and spiritually rich?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Manxman, are you saying (@12) that China is morally and spiritually rich?

  • Pr. Schroeder

    Why is China becoming powerful and wealthy? Why did Assyria and Babylon become powerful and wealthy? Why did they do so well? The only answer I can understand somewhat: it is the judgement and grace of God. After all, He is the Lord of all nations.

  • Pr. Schroeder

    Why is China becoming powerful and wealthy? Why did Assyria and Babylon become powerful and wealthy? Why did they do so well? The only answer I can understand somewhat: it is the judgement and grace of God. After all, He is the Lord of all nations.

  • Eric

    “Greek democracy was abandoned; the Roman republic gave way to Emperor. Couldn’t that happen with us too?”

    If our religious freedoms and 2nd Amendment rights are infringed upon, it very well could happen to us!

    As for me, I’m sticking with my religion and guns. Those are the two biggest enemies of tyranny that I know of. Besides, there is no presidential candidate who would belittle those things, is there?

  • Eric

    “Greek democracy was abandoned; the Roman republic gave way to Emperor. Couldn’t that happen with us too?”

    If our religious freedoms and 2nd Amendment rights are infringed upon, it very well could happen to us!

    As for me, I’m sticking with my religion and guns. Those are the two biggest enemies of tyranny that I know of. Besides, there is no presidential candidate who would belittle those things, is there?

  • Don S

    tODD, China is “doing so well at the moment” for the reason I stated in my post. Demographics strongly favor China temporarily, because the population bulge in that country is currently in the productive economic years (ages 30 – 50, or thereabouts). Additionally, there is a relatively small population of children, because of the one birth policy. Since children are, in reality, a temporary economic drag on an economy (they consume vast resources, especially education, but don’t produce things of value economically), this is also a temporary boost to the Chinese economy.

    Now, just because China is doing well economically (still a very small fraction of per capita U.S. economic output, by the way, to keep things in perspective), doesn’t mean it is “doing well”. Neither you nor I would thrive as Chinese citizens, for example. We have a living faith in God, and we both enjoy speaking out on issues of the day. We’d probably be cell mates in some Chinese prison. Most importantly, as I previously mentioned, the Chinese policy is to murder all babies in excess of one in a family. Hardly “doing well”, that.

  • Don S

    tODD, China is “doing so well at the moment” for the reason I stated in my post. Demographics strongly favor China temporarily, because the population bulge in that country is currently in the productive economic years (ages 30 – 50, or thereabouts). Additionally, there is a relatively small population of children, because of the one birth policy. Since children are, in reality, a temporary economic drag on an economy (they consume vast resources, especially education, but don’t produce things of value economically), this is also a temporary boost to the Chinese economy.

    Now, just because China is doing well economically (still a very small fraction of per capita U.S. economic output, by the way, to keep things in perspective), doesn’t mean it is “doing well”. Neither you nor I would thrive as Chinese citizens, for example. We have a living faith in God, and we both enjoy speaking out on issues of the day. We’d probably be cell mates in some Chinese prison. Most importantly, as I previously mentioned, the Chinese policy is to murder all babies in excess of one in a family. Hardly “doing well”, that.

  • allen

    Regarding China’s state-controlled capitalism – that’s a contradiction in terms, of course. Capitalism has to be unleashed to function properly. There will come a time when the committees will have to privatize their holdings or else watch their international neighbors surge ahead. The Russian experience would seem to indicate that some sort of Cosa Nostra style arrangement is in the cards. We’ll see.

  • allen

    Regarding China’s state-controlled capitalism – that’s a contradiction in terms, of course. Capitalism has to be unleashed to function properly. There will come a time when the committees will have to privatize their holdings or else watch their international neighbors surge ahead. The Russian experience would seem to indicate that some sort of Cosa Nostra style arrangement is in the cards. We’ll see.

  • Anon

    We must recapture and teach Christian social teaching; that the bottom line is not the sumum bonum, that profit, while valid and necessary, is neither more important than persons, nor is it the primary purpose of work, nor is it the measure of holpenness (or weal-th or shalom) and of course, the doctrine of vocations, which ties all of this together.

    Too many times (once would have been too many) I have heard Christians arguing that the bottom line is *the* goal and measure of an oikumenae (economy really does mean more than monetarism). No matter the human cost. Such is the impact of Darwinism and uncritical reading of our conservative cobelligerants (not allies!) in our political attempts to restore the Republic and preserve our liberty.

    But a man’s wealth does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (though there does seem to be a cover charge to life).

    The doctrine of vocations teaches us that the purpose of our gifts is to bless others, not primarily to make money for ourselves – the vocations of others then in turn minister to us. And of course, the oxen are not to be muzzled while they are treading out the grain, the ancient boundary stones are not to be moved, and one may not take the upper grindstone in surety for a debt. All of this argues for what I call microcapitalism, what Chesterton called distributism, and Jefferson and some southern thinkers have called agrarianism (though it is by no means limited in application to rural areas).

    If we only look at the bottom line we may well be willing to engage in human sacrifice to Mammon. But that is not an option for Christians. Most people sense that it is wrong, but have no coherent basis for resisting it. We do, and we ought to teach it.

    Do I really need to go into the problems moral, theological and practical with State socialism/communism?

    ===

    Bryan, they appear to have read their Plato. Though I’m not sure that their gymnasts are as much past that age of 3 as they ought to be by treaty. Baby fat is normally gone by 15. . .

    Don if our own State of Oregon can tell people that they have a duty to die for the good of society, why should we think that the Red Guards Terrorist Organization will not tell the elderly the same thing in 20 years?

    tODD, by what *measure* is Mainland China doing well? Is that measure worthy of exaltation?

  • Anon

    We must recapture and teach Christian social teaching; that the bottom line is not the sumum bonum, that profit, while valid and necessary, is neither more important than persons, nor is it the primary purpose of work, nor is it the measure of holpenness (or weal-th or shalom) and of course, the doctrine of vocations, which ties all of this together.

    Too many times (once would have been too many) I have heard Christians arguing that the bottom line is *the* goal and measure of an oikumenae (economy really does mean more than monetarism). No matter the human cost. Such is the impact of Darwinism and uncritical reading of our conservative cobelligerants (not allies!) in our political attempts to restore the Republic and preserve our liberty.

    But a man’s wealth does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (though there does seem to be a cover charge to life).

    The doctrine of vocations teaches us that the purpose of our gifts is to bless others, not primarily to make money for ourselves – the vocations of others then in turn minister to us. And of course, the oxen are not to be muzzled while they are treading out the grain, the ancient boundary stones are not to be moved, and one may not take the upper grindstone in surety for a debt. All of this argues for what I call microcapitalism, what Chesterton called distributism, and Jefferson and some southern thinkers have called agrarianism (though it is by no means limited in application to rural areas).

    If we only look at the bottom line we may well be willing to engage in human sacrifice to Mammon. But that is not an option for Christians. Most people sense that it is wrong, but have no coherent basis for resisting it. We do, and we ought to teach it.

    Do I really need to go into the problems moral, theological and practical with State socialism/communism?

    ===

    Bryan, they appear to have read their Plato. Though I’m not sure that their gymnasts are as much past that age of 3 as they ought to be by treaty. Baby fat is normally gone by 15. . .

    Don if our own State of Oregon can tell people that they have a duty to die for the good of society, why should we think that the Red Guards Terrorist Organization will not tell the elderly the same thing in 20 years?

    tODD, by what *measure* is Mainland China doing well? Is that measure worthy of exaltation?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon, if that is your real name, you asked (@18), “by what measure is Mainland China doing well?” I’m not sure. You’d have to ask those earlier on to whom I was replying.

    Veith himself refers to world influence when he says about “the world turning away from American-style democracy in favor of Chinese-style omnipotent and benevolent authoritarianism,” and later refers to China’s “economic prosperity” and efficiency. Harold Meyerson, whom Veith quoted, referred to “Chinese achievement and power.” Don himself referred (@7) to “Chinese dominance”, also calling China “the Japan of the ’80’s”, an apparent reference to economic prowess.

    I’m not sure if I know what “measure” any of these people were using when they made those statements.

    As to your notion that “Oregon can tell people that they have a duty to die for the good of society”, that is such a ridiculous mischaracterization of the (admittedly wrong) law. Are you trying to spark discussion or just say wildly fanciful things?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon, if that is your real name, you asked (@18), “by what measure is Mainland China doing well?” I’m not sure. You’d have to ask those earlier on to whom I was replying.

    Veith himself refers to world influence when he says about “the world turning away from American-style democracy in favor of Chinese-style omnipotent and benevolent authoritarianism,” and later refers to China’s “economic prosperity” and efficiency. Harold Meyerson, whom Veith quoted, referred to “Chinese achievement and power.” Don himself referred (@7) to “Chinese dominance”, also calling China “the Japan of the ’80’s”, an apparent reference to economic prowess.

    I’m not sure if I know what “measure” any of these people were using when they made those statements.

    As to your notion that “Oregon can tell people that they have a duty to die for the good of society”, that is such a ridiculous mischaracterization of the (admittedly wrong) law. Are you trying to spark discussion or just say wildly fanciful things?

  • Anon

    tODD, since Oregon has sent such letters to its citizens who are in need of grave medical attention, I do not consider my statement to be fanciful.

  • Anon

    tODD, since Oregon has sent such letters to its citizens who are in need of grave medical attention, I do not consider my statement to be fanciful.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon (@20), that is a rather poor reading of this article.

    She wasn’t denied medical attention, she had been and still is receiving money from the Oregon Health Plan for her cancer. She was denied coverage for a particular drug that was deemed unlikely to substantively help her (not to mention expensive). However, the OHP does cover palliative care such as hospice (and, unfortunately, including doctor-assisted suicide).

    It is not clear what the letter actually said in this regard — no article appears to actually quote that segment of the letter.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon (@20), that is a rather poor reading of this article.

    She wasn’t denied medical attention, she had been and still is receiving money from the Oregon Health Plan for her cancer. She was denied coverage for a particular drug that was deemed unlikely to substantively help her (not to mention expensive). However, the OHP does cover palliative care such as hospice (and, unfortunately, including doctor-assisted suicide).

    It is not clear what the letter actually said in this regard — no article appears to actually quote that segment of the letter.

  • Don S

    The sad thing to me is that private insurance plans are demonized by the media and liberals for denying particular drugs or treatments to certain patients because they are experimental, unlikely to be effective, expensive, etc. The cry is that we need universal health care so that people can get the care they need and won’t be effectively killed by unfeeling profit-driven health plans. Then, we get government health care, and they do exactly the same thing. However, when the government does it, DMV-style, there is no recourse. Mr./Ms. Bureaucrat said you must die, so die you will.

    I’m not saying that health plans shouldn’t have the right to ration care to some extent. We aren’t entitled to every possible treatment, whether or not it has been proven effective and regardless of cost. However, since government does everything by fiat, rather than contract, there is far less recourse for the patient when an improper decision is made.

    Are we sufficiently off topic now? Government health care is tyrannical, but I’m not sure it could be categorized as art.

  • Don S

    The sad thing to me is that private insurance plans are demonized by the media and liberals for denying particular drugs or treatments to certain patients because they are experimental, unlikely to be effective, expensive, etc. The cry is that we need universal health care so that people can get the care they need and won’t be effectively killed by unfeeling profit-driven health plans. Then, we get government health care, and they do exactly the same thing. However, when the government does it, DMV-style, there is no recourse. Mr./Ms. Bureaucrat said you must die, so die you will.

    I’m not saying that health plans shouldn’t have the right to ration care to some extent. We aren’t entitled to every possible treatment, whether or not it has been proven effective and regardless of cost. However, since government does everything by fiat, rather than contract, there is far less recourse for the patient when an improper decision is made.

    Are we sufficiently off topic now? Government health care is tyrannical, but I’m not sure it could be categorized as art.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@22), you realize that the Oregon Health Plan is for low-income people, right? Without it, she would have likely received no care, not better care. Private health plans would not have helped this lady. And of course there is recourse if the government denies you: you can pay for it yourself. There will always be that option. For the wealthy.

    Also, you didn’t complain about being off-topic when you were discussing Presidents’ middle names on the “Russia goes to war” entry. If Veith wants to ban off-topic comments, that’s fine, but it seems that conversations on this blog are like that, especially after a day or so.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@22), you realize that the Oregon Health Plan is for low-income people, right? Without it, she would have likely received no care, not better care. Private health plans would not have helped this lady. And of course there is recourse if the government denies you: you can pay for it yourself. There will always be that option. For the wealthy.

    Also, you didn’t complain about being off-topic when you were discussing Presidents’ middle names on the “Russia goes to war” entry. If Veith wants to ban off-topic comments, that’s fine, but it seems that conversations on this blog are like that, especially after a day or so.

  • Don S

    tODD,

    I was speaking of my own hijacking of the thread by venturing into health care. Not accusing anyone else, or stating it was wrong.

    But don’t you find it odd that it’s fine for public health plans to do the very thing that private plans are demonized for? Those on private plans always have the option to pay for their own care as well.

    Of course, with the institution of universal health care are often regulations prohibiting self-funded care, as you no doubt know. So that option is not always available in a universal care environment.

  • Don S

    tODD,

    I was speaking of my own hijacking of the thread by venturing into health care. Not accusing anyone else, or stating it was wrong.

    But don’t you find it odd that it’s fine for public health plans to do the very thing that private plans are demonized for? Those on private plans always have the option to pay for their own care as well.

    Of course, with the institution of universal health care are often regulations prohibiting self-funded care, as you no doubt know. So that option is not always available in a universal care environment.

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  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@24), I’m not sure exactly why people are “demonizing” private plans because I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Can you give me an example? I’m sure some people decrying private plans have a very good reason, while others probably don’t.

    But no, I don’t necessarily find it odd, because private and public health plans probably have different goals in mind. Private health plans ultimately exist to make money from their customers. Public ones arguably exist to not lose money, and also to care for certain segments of the population within limits. In both cases, there will be anecdotes — real, probably quite sad, but anecdotes all the same — of someone being denied coverage for some reason or other. The question is: are the anecdotes similar?

    In this case, a woman has received care from the public health plan, but was denied a particular type of care, because it was too ineffective and/or too expensive. Perhaps those who demonize private plans cite examples where a much more effective or less expensive treatment was denied. I can’t know, since I’m not sure which demonizers you’re thinking of.

    “With the institution of universal health care are often regulations prohibiting self-funded care.” Care to make a table of countries offering “universal health care” and point out which ones prohibit self-funded care? Does that argument even apply in this Oregon case? (No, it doesn’t, except that the woman appears to have been too poor to afford her own care) Does it apply to some hypothetical future universal health care in America? Only if you’re opposed to the idea in the first place and want to imagine the worst take on it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@24), I’m not sure exactly why people are “demonizing” private plans because I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Can you give me an example? I’m sure some people decrying private plans have a very good reason, while others probably don’t.

    But no, I don’t necessarily find it odd, because private and public health plans probably have different goals in mind. Private health plans ultimately exist to make money from their customers. Public ones arguably exist to not lose money, and also to care for certain segments of the population within limits. In both cases, there will be anecdotes — real, probably quite sad, but anecdotes all the same — of someone being denied coverage for some reason or other. The question is: are the anecdotes similar?

    In this case, a woman has received care from the public health plan, but was denied a particular type of care, because it was too ineffective and/or too expensive. Perhaps those who demonize private plans cite examples where a much more effective or less expensive treatment was denied. I can’t know, since I’m not sure which demonizers you’re thinking of.

    “With the institution of universal health care are often regulations prohibiting self-funded care.” Care to make a table of countries offering “universal health care” and point out which ones prohibit self-funded care? Does that argument even apply in this Oregon case? (No, it doesn’t, except that the woman appears to have been too poor to afford her own care) Does it apply to some hypothetical future universal health care in America? Only if you’re opposed to the idea in the first place and want to imagine the worst take on it.

  • Anon

    Todd, how do you know which article I wrote? This has in fact occurred a number of times on record. It appears to be policy.

    The context was, of course, what the Chicoms might do about their (non-Party member) elderly in the future.

  • Anon

    Todd, how do you know which article I wrote? This has in fact occurred a number of times on record. It appears to be policy.

    The context was, of course, what the Chicoms might do about their (non-Party member) elderly in the future.

  • Anon

    that should be ‘read’, not wrote.

  • Anon

    that should be ‘read’, not wrote.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon (@27), since you failed to point me to one, I had to go searching for an article on the topic you were talking about. Every article I found ultimately sourced the article I referred to. If you read a different one, now would be the time to refer to it, rather than merely getting upset about my having to guess.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon (@27), since you failed to point me to one, I had to go searching for an article on the topic you were talking about. Every article I found ultimately sourced the article I referred to. If you read a different one, now would be the time to refer to it, rather than merely getting upset about my having to guess.


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