Exhibit #90209934823209

…in the endless panoply of evidence in the “Our Ruling Class is Loathsome” sweepstakes:

Amber Alert page is down. Presidential golf course still open.

Essential services, doncha know.

The most ridiculous part, to me, is that people are choosing sides about who is the Bad Guy and not recognizing that there are no good guys here. We are ruled by reckless fools with no interest in the common good.

  • Maggie Goff

    You are speaking truth.

  • Dale

    “The most ridiculous part, to me, is that people are choosing sides about
    who is the Bad Guy and not recognizing that there are no good guys
    here.”

    Heh, a recent study shows that Americans often have a partisan understanding of events, and will claim incorrect facts based upon their political affiliation. However, if offered a small cash reward for answering correctly on a survey, the partisan divide largely disappears. That is to say, if bribed, people will answer honestly.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/03/if-you-pay-them-money-partisans-will-tell-you-the-truth/

    If the study results are correct, then it seems likely that Americans know that both sides are being irresponsible, but a desire to cheer for their team and boo at the other side keeps many from admitting it.

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      Ugh. This is so depressing.

    • Rachel

      I agree. I have a friend of mine who is very sure that this is all Obama’s fault and that he is doing this on purpose so that he can declare martial law and declare this a dictatorship or something. Argh! Its both sides that’s doing this. Not just Obama.

  • wlinden
    • quasimodo

      perhaps you have fallen for it … I’m not sure, really. The government site (.gov) is down. The commercial site (.com) is up

    • Katie in FL

      Mark Shea said the Amber Alert page is down, not the entire system. The Federal govt.’s page http://www.amberalert.gov is down.

      However, the Federal govt. has decided to keep open the page: http://www.letsmove.gov/. That’s the First Lady’s special project, so as long as no fruits and vegetables go missing, this page should stay open as well.

  • Stu

    One good thing that maybe could come out of this is the notion that we don’t need to fund the government via huge omnibus bills that allow politicians to hide from accountability. I kind of like the notion of many smaller appropriation bills being passed for the “must haves” and then actually debating on the “should and could haves”.

    • jroberts548

      I don’t see that as a good thing. It means the more visible, retail functions of the government get funded, while less visible things don’t – e.g., we’ll get relatively more funding for parks than for the NIH or the NWS. I’d rather take my chances not having parks than not having tornado alerts.

      • Stu

        I don’t believe that would be the case at all. In fact, quite the opposite.

        • jroberts548

          Congress right now is providing roughly $0 of funding to both the National Park Service and to the National Institutes of Health. Maybe your facebook friends are much less stupid than mine, but I’ve seen infinitely more outrage over parks being shut down than over the NIH.

          Parks are visible. Every congressman wants to go home and tell his constituents about all the money that some park brings into the district. Voters can understand what a park is. How many congressman can explain to their constituents how important some piece of medical research is? How many voters can understand that?

          This is what we’ve already seen during the shutdown. Congress refused to fund the government, but then found money to pay the troops, because their constituents can understand troops not having money, and they think they understand what the military does. But civilian employees of the military? What do they do? We don’t need to fund them, until it turns out that not authorizing them means some priests might get arrested, and then congress does.

          Passing things one at a time like that means congress will fund things that they can talk to voters about and that voters will understand over things that are no less fundamental but aren’t readily visible to low information voters.

          ETA: It also means that instead of shutting down everything once every 17 years, we’ll shut down some things at random all the time.

          • Stu

            The House passed a bill to fund NIH. Ball is in the Senate’s court.

            The omnibus spending model ensures waste. It’s exactly how things are hidden from the low-information voter. Start voting on these things individually, and people will support the right stuff which includes both parks and NIH.

            • jroberts548

              The House voted to fund the NIH till December 15. That’s just stupid. Should the NIH be shut down every 75 days?

              A 75 day funding measure isn’t an attempt at funding anything. It’s a nakedly political attempt to blame senate democrats for not funding the NIH. Faced with such a stupid and bad faith offer, senate democrats reacted as any sane person would.

              • Stu

                No, I don’t like CRs either but that mindset too is a product of trying to pass these huge omnibus bill that are too big to succeed.

                You said that you care about NIH funding. I suppose in your mind you would rather turn down some funding if you can’t get it all at once. I’d rather fund it now and help who we can.

                • jroberts548

                  If we’re going to fund the NIH, we should fund the NIH. We shouldn’t pass 75 day bills that are almost guaranteed to result in another shutdown 75 days in the future.

                  Either the deadline is a formality, and congress will renew it anyway, or it’s a real threat. If the former, why insist on such a short-term funding measure? If the latter, what is the GOP going to ask for for the next 75 days?

                  I don’t see how that’s something that should be treated as a real offer. It’s something, like pork spending, that works because low-information voters exist.

                  • Stu

                    So you don’t want any funding?

                    • jroberts548

                      Not for only 75 days.

                    • Stu

                      Then you really don’t care about NIH funding. You care about the budget fight.

                    • jroberts548

                      How long do medical research projects last? What do you think the NIH can start and either finish or suspend when they’re shut down again in 75 days? Is there any benefit at all to being funded and shut down for short, random intervals of time?

                    • Stu

                      So nothing is better than something? Do you really look good walking around without a nose?

                      Indeed, I’m not a fan of CRs. I have said as much. But at a time of crisis in the budget process, a process that is clearly broken, I say we should fund something like NIH any way we can all while working for better solution.

                      But the “solution” is clearly not Big Government Omnibus spending. It’s a bad model and at this point that should be obvious.

                    • jroberts548

                      No sane, honest, reasonable person thinks that it makes sense, as a matter of substantial policy, to shut down the NIH for a week, fund the NIH for 75 days, then shut it down again, then fund it for 75 days, etc. That’s just stupid. The NIH funding bill isn’t about funding the NIH. It’s nakedly about blame shifting.

                      In this case, nothing is indeed better than something. Shutting down and funding the NIH at random intervals for no discernible reason is worse than having no NIH at all, to the extent that researchers who would otherwise do something more productive with their time have their time wasted by congress.

                    • Stu

                      I got it. You don’t want to fund NIH and you would rather have no NIH unless you get your way. Got it.

                      I’d rather work for a solution and that will take compromise.

                    • jroberts548

                      Do you really, honestly, think shutting down the NIH every 75 days makes sense? That that’s a reasonable, honest, good faith offer that makes sense?

                      I wouldn’t rather have no NIH than not get my way. I would rather have no NIH than have one that opens and shuts at random intervals, since research requires long periods of time, and spending money stopping and starting the NIH is wasteful; if we can’t keep it open, we’d be better off not funding it.

                      ETA: Alternatively, if congress isn’t willing to shut it down again, why would they only offer to fund it for 75 days after shutting it down?

                    • Stu

                      Have I not repeatedly stated that I am not a fan of CRs?

                      Crisis situations often require sub-optimized responses. I say take what we can now and work for a better solution. Nowhere have I advocated that the government run on 75 day increments as a matter of course. That’s your template.

                      I simply have pointed out that breaking down omnibus spending bills could be a good byproduct of this which has nothing to do with CRs.

                    • jroberts548

                      It’s not my template. It’s the house of representatives’ template, which is offering 75 day increments with occasional shutdowns for random durations as a replacement for omnibus spending bills. That is the byproduct that is actually happening.

                      Why? Because low-information voters are dumb and plentiful. A functioning system of small appropriations, rather than one large budget, won’t happen as long people think they can get away with b.s. like a 75 day CR.

                    • Stu

                      No.
                      They are offering CRs which has become commonplace since the last time that an actual budget was passed on time (1996).

                      What this is showing, aside from the suboptimized use of CRs, is that the government can be funded one segment at a time via smaller bills (that ideally would run the FY) instead of passing everything at once which clearly doesn’t work.

                    • jroberts548

                      Why fund something for a whole fiscal year? If you’re willing to shut something down every other month, why give away your bargaining power? Letting the House win here ensures that we’ll never see something funded for a full fiscal year.

                    • Stu

                      That’s been happening since 1996.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      They think that once conversation starts, they can come to a deal to do the rest of the year within the next 75 days. The conversation isn’t happening because both Reid and Obama are fighting against negotiations.

                    • jroberts548

                      They’ve spend two and a half years on the conversation.

                      The Republicans offered a 46 day continuing resolution, in exchange for delaying Obamacare by one year. That’s not an effort to negotiate. That’s an effort to extract more concessions in 46 days. The Democrats treated the only way an honest, sane person would, which surprised, as I typically expect Democrats to be neither.

                      The GOP offer is so ridiculously one-sided that I don’t believe they ever intended not to shut down the government. They have no desire to start a conversation. The only thing they’re offering the democrats is a functioning government, which isn’t even a partisan interest. You can trade Obamacare for, e.g., tax increases or environmental regulations – that’s the sort of political horsetrading our system is set up for. You can’t trade one party’s policy goals (repealing Obamacare) for what’s in both party’s interests (not shutting down the government). You definitely can’t do that for only FORTYSIX days, at the end of which, the Republicans are gonna have some other whacky demands.

                    • Stu

                      Delaying the individual mandate for a year is “whacky?” We already delayed if businesses. Why not the people too?

                    • jroberts548

                      Delaying it for a year in exchange for a 46 day cr is whacky. Whacky is the nicest and least vulgar way it can be described.

                    • Stu

                      The entire budget process has been “whacky” for decades. Couple that with the fact that we are running out of fiscal wiggle room and you get stop-gap measures until hopefully the fundamentals are dealt with in some real way.

                      We are out of the “business as usual” phase of government spending.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      Ram a major entitlement through without GOP votes and this is what you get, resistance until you backfill in their say. The two parties healthcare reform paths were and remain very far apart. We are late to the socialized medicine party. We have already distorted and stunted the market with the CPT/WPS pricing procedure. We aren’t going to get decades of slow rot like the EU got.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      So you think that the kid that has 2 months left of chemo treatments that are caught up in the NIH issue should be just out of luck.

                      I don’t find that to be very acceptable.

                      We are, at this point, in harm reduction mode because we have so much extra money floating around that a nasty crash is a foregone concluseion. We are going to have something of a hard landing. The sooner we fix our budget, the lower the casualties will be. Your strategy increases casualties. I hope you change to something else.

                    • jroberts548

                      So you think shutting down chemo treatments randomly is acceptable?

                      A 75 day funding bill, from a party that’s demonstrated they have no compunction against shutting it down again, is worth nothing at all. No honest, reasonable adult would view funding something as vital as medical research in random intervals with random periods of being shut down as sensible.

                      ETA: Are you seriously taking the position that the GOP shut down is a good thing because we need more government-funded healthcare for that kid who needs 2 months of chemo? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

                    • Stu

                      It’s not random. You want to portray this as if they are spinning a wheel and picking a number. Not the case. As with all CRs, they pick a date in the future and work towards solving the problem by then. That’s been SOP for passing the budget for almost 20 years now.

                      But by all means, deny a child chemo to make your point.

                    • jroberts548

                      What’s the budget problem with the NIH? What problem exists now and will be fixed in 75 days?

                      There is none. There is no NIH budget related dispute. What there is is a group of whackjob congressmen using the NIH and the whole rest of the government for leverage to obtain God only knows what.

                      Also, and I let this slide when I was dealing with TMLutas because he was too wrong to correct on all points, but since you’re at least not literally a moron, the NIH is a research agency. Its clinical operations are continuing through the shutdown, as the Anti-Deficiency Act excepts government operations necessary to protect property and human life. So no one’s chemo is being denied because of the NIH being shut down. What is being prevented is future research into how we should treat cancer. This research requires work in greater than 75 day intervals. Randomization is important in research, but not in research funding.

                    • Stu

                      The “problem” is that it is all wrapped up in an omnibus spending approach. Thus the practice of “punting” 75 days until it can all be worked out in some seemingly masterful grand strategy. Which is why….I would like to see smaller portions of the budget voted on their own accord which ultimately could avoid what you are decrying.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      If you don’t want to restrain yourself and be civil email me and you can both let our hair down and get a bit of stress relief in. In short I am not kidding you that a short bill reduces harm because that is exactly what it does. Some actual, real people would get help with the bill. I gave you an example case. If you say that they count for nothing and your political strategy trumps their lives then you go right ahead and own that.

                      A reasonable alternative would be to pass the extension but amended for the full year. Reid and the Democrats could do that but are not and you are blind to it.

                    • jroberts548

                      The nih’s clinical operations are continuing. You didn’t give an example.

              • enness

                Any sane Democrat would see that they could use it to their own advantage when they get in power. I’m not convinced.

          • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

            The NIH funding bill is passed and sitting on Harry Reid’s desk. It could be signed today but for Reid’s insistence on keeping his hostages all together.

            • jroberts548

              The NIH funding bill is a seventy-five day bill. Why wouldn’t Republicans shut it down again on December 15?

              • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                Wrong question, what is it going to take to get us onto a sustainable pathway so the country doesn’t collapse? Both parties need to have a strategy to avoid the economy seizing up. So far the GOP is the only party to publish one. Until the Democrats publish one, all they can honorably do is to play political blame games and ameliorate the points they hate about the only plan in town.

  • http://blog.goliard.us/ Blog Goliard

    Harry Reid’s “Why would we want to do that?” remark was a wonderful example of our ruling class’ contempt for those they supposedly serve. And it’s absolutely a bipartisan contempt.

  • Dan C

    The markets haven’t budged either- which means Wall Street doesn’t care.

    The piece that Wall Street counts on is the provision of back pay to keep that money in the economy.

    I am all for shutting more services down. We have been extremely generous with “necessary” services.

    Let’s start shutting down military expenses. Social Security. Medicare. That is really shutting down the government.

  • jroberts548

    This is a case where there is very clearly a bad guy and a good guy, which is exceedingly rare in US politics.

    The Republicans in the House offered a 46 day continuing resolution in exchange for a one year delay on Obamacare. If they had won, what do you think the GOP would do in 46 days? Make another offer to fund the government for 46 more days, in exchange for something else Republicans want. If the House’s offer was accepted, we’d never be than 46 days from a government shutdown. The Democrats in Congress responded to the House’s bad faith offer the only way a sane person could.

    As for what’s left open or closed: Congress has passed laws forbidding certain things from being open or not. Some parts of the DOD, including, apparently, golf courses, are allowed to stay open under Congress’ decision to continue military funding during the shutdown. Non-emergency services, that aren’t otherwise funded (essential / non-essential is not the legal standard) that don’t protect human life or property have to shut down. The executive branch doesn’t have much discretion here.

    And if you are going to tell me that the President could leave some government function open, you should be able to point to what gives him the authority to do it.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

      The current trajectory of spending leads to a hard crash of the government, starving, cold people, and significant excess death when the economy seizes up. The GOP has a solution to fixing that problem. The Democrats do not, but they do know they don’t like the GOP’s solution and so fight against it.

      Yes, there are good guys and bad guys here, but you have the roles reversed because you’re thinking about fairness in process and the elites taking turns at running things and I’m thinking about the excess deaths we’re baking into our economy come around 2037 when the economy seizes up.

      • jroberts548

        The budget for FY 2014 is already $110,000,000,000 LOWER than the Republicans asked for. This has nothing whatsoever to do with GOP efforts to reign in deficit spending.

        In fact, the Republicans are promising to pay federal employees for not working, and asking to restore the tax subsidy for medical devices, which will (slightly) raise the deficit. If this was about spending, why are the Republicans trying to raise the deficit by creating a tax subsidy and paying people not to work?

        What budget-related demands related to the shutdown are Republicans making, and how, concretely, will they avert disaster in 2037? The only way I see them averting disaster in 2037 is by refusing to raise the debt ceiling and causing disaster in 2013.

        • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

          There is no medical device tax subsidy. I can’t find an article talking about medical device tax subsidy.

          As for 2037 the video moment I was referring to is below. Since then, nothing substantive has changed except Geithner retired.
          http://youtu.be/h_f20ZDBj5k

          • wlinden

            What is the difference between the medical device tax (which is definitely real, despite manufactured rumors about what it will actually do) and a “medical device tax subsidy”? And what does the medical device tax have to do with Republicans?

            • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

              Medical device tax subsidies make the manufacture and sales of medical devices cheaper, encouraging more investment in the field (which is what subsidies do). Medical device taxes increase the cost to manufacture and sell and thus reduce the amount of money going into the field. The US is a leader in medical device manufacturing but this tax is something of a threat to that leadership and will lead to certain marginal cases relocating elsewhere or deciding not to produce at all. The margin on some of these products is very thin.

          • jroberts548

            Prior to the ppaca, medical devices were untaxed. That’s a tax subsidy. Under the ppaca, they’re taxed.

            • wlinden

              Failure to tax is a “subsidy”? And I suppose not robbing someone is a “gift”.

              • jroberts548

                If medical devices are bought with pre tax money, and everything else is bought with after tax money, that’s a subsidy. It has the same market distorting effects has just passing out money.

                • wlinden

                  So by your logic, there should be a federal tax on EVERYTHING, because anything that is not taxed will be “subsidized”.

                  • jroberts548

                    Yep. Failure to tax enough things (employer paid health insurane premiums, medical expenses past 7.5%) is why we have such a terrible healthcare system in the first place.

                    I don’t think the ppaca does a great, or even a good, job of fixing it, but at least it party corrects some of our terrible tax subsidies.

                    • wlinden

                      There’s no federal tax on movies! There’s no federal tax on cars! There’s no license fee for television sets! How can anyone defend all these TAX SUBSIDIES!

                    • jroberts548

                      Those tax subsidies, in states where movies, etc are subsidized, are utterly indefensible. Since the federal government can’t fix state tax subsidies directly, I would have only minimal objection to a federal movie tax.

                      Do you legitimately not understand that tax subsidies exist? For instance, if your employer buys you health insurance, he does so with pre-tax dollars, that aren’t included in your income, but your employer gets to deduct. There’s no difference, economically, between that and the government just handing your employer money for buying you health insurance. This inflates the price of health insurance. Alternatively, interest on government bonds isn’t taxed. This allows governments to pay a lower interest rate than private bond-sellers, and the after-tax income for the bond-holder stays the same. How things are taxed or not taxed have real economic consequences and change how people structure their transactions. If the tax system incentivizes inefficiency, we get more inefficiency.

                      Here, we have a federal excise tax partially correcting other federal tax subsidies and state tax subsidies. Is this ideal? Not at all. In a better world, there’d be no tax subsidies on healthcare at the state or federal level. But when an industry that’s funded heavily by tax subsidies gets hit with an excise tax, I’m not going to feel bad for them, because they’re living off the government teat anyway, and the excise tax is at least a small, crude step towards fixing the problem.

                    • wlinden

                      Your posts on this blog are not taxed. Clearly, you are getting a TAX SUBSIDY!

                    • jroberts548

                      If you don’t understand what tax subsidies are, you shouldn’t participate in conversations about tax policy.

                      And posts on a blog aren’t income. The income used to pay for the cost of my computer, electricity, and internet is/was taxed, so I’m not receiving a tax subsidy. If computers weren’t subject to sales tax, or if I could take a deduction for internet or electricity, that would be a tax subsidy. Then the government would be encouraging me to spend money there, rather than in possibly more productive ways.

                    • wlinden

                      You keep resisting your own logic, which is the “need” for taxing EVERYTHING. Or does that mean only things/people you don’t like?

                      If NOT taxing something is a “subsidy”, then not killing someone is a “resurrection”.

                    • jroberts548

                      If you have a tax on income, but you exclude certain things from income, that’s a tax subsidy. Let’s say A and B both earn $100,000 / year, and that there’s a flat 30% income tax. A gets $90,000 salary, plus a $10,000 health insurance policy from his employer. B gets $100,000, and then buys an identical $10,000 health insurance policy from the insurer. A pays 30% of $90,000, or $27,000. B pays 30% of $100,000, or $30,000. They both earned the same amount of money. They both spent the same amount of money of health insurance. But A has $3,000 more dollars at the end of the year than B. They’re exactly identically situated. But A gets a tax subsidy of $3,000.

                      Likewise, there are sales tax subsidies. Let’s say A and B have $50 to spend. A buys $50 worth of vegetables. B buys $50 worth of video games. A, in many states, will pay no or very little sales tax. B, in nearly all states, will pay a lot of sales tax. They both spent $50. But A gets more for his $50 than B does. That’s a tax subsidy.

                      There may or may not be good reasons for tax subsidies (like encouraging the poor to buy spinach instead of Skyrim), and the market distorting effect may be minimal (e.g., most states’ tax subsidies on groceries seem pretty minimal), or great (excise taxes on alcohol have significant market distorting effects, even just in terms of what gets distributed where). But in terms of how people behave on the market, and how government spending is effected, there’s no difference whatsoever between the government not taxing a few things selectively and the government just handing you money for a few things selectively. If it wouldn’t be worth it for the government to just hand people money, it’s not worth it to subsidize through the tax system.

            • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

              You are grossly misstating the facts of the matter. I’m going to assume that you’re doing this by accident. The medical device tax IRS FAQ page is here:
              http://www.irs.gov/uac/Medical-Device-Excise-Tax:-Frequently-Asked-Questions

              The tax is an excise tax. There is no general excise tax at the federal level that medical devices used to be exempt from. If there were, the situation would have been a tax subsidy. It would have been special treatment not generally available.

              Instead what is happening is that medical devices are being taxed more than breath mints so anybody who has the choice to invest money in breath mints or a simple medical device like a cotton swab on a stick will be incented the amount of the tax to stay away from medical devices and invest in breath mints instead. This has pernicious effects.

              • jroberts548

                Yes and no.

                Medical devices were and are deductible under the medical expenses deduction. They’re paid for chiefly with pre-tax employer paid health insurance premiums. They’re not subject to sales tax in most states. The federal government can’t fix the state sales tax subsidy, and won’t fix the insurer paid health insurance premium tax subsidy. The medical device excise tax is a crude remedy for other tax subsidies that are passed on to medical devices.

                I’d rather see an end to pre-tax employer-paid health insurance premiums, but an excise tax on the devices that that pre-tax money buys is a step in the right direction.

                I’ll grant that it’s not ideal though, and the medical device excise tax is still smaller than the tax subsidies that are used to fund healthcare.

                • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                  What an unexpected turn, you promoting the theory that the medical excise tax is an attempt at social justice for allowing too many prostheses and bandages to get into the hands of those who can just barely afford them. I wouldn’t have thought that someone would have the gall to applaud that on a Catholic forum.

                  Live and learn.

                  On the tax issue, I’d rather get rid of employer paid health insurance entirely as it reduces labor mobility and puts people in the really bad situation of having to suck up to the boss in order to keep health care when a family member is chronically ill.

                  Health insurance started being offered that way as a dodge against socialist style wage controls during the Roosevelt years. It was an imperfect kludge then and has since lost any justification to keep on existing but nobody’s figured out how to transition to something better.

                  • jroberts548

                    At the society wide level, tax subsidies for healthcare result in less care, not more.

                    Not taxing devices encourages higher prices on medical devices; i.e., if I’m a hospital, I’ll try to bill ou for things that are tax subsidized, rather than for things that aren’t. Or is it a coincidence that saline solution, needles, etc. are all vastly more expensive here than overseas? Is it a coincidence that we lead the world in only two healthcare metrics: cost per person and imaging devices per capita. Every aspect of our healthcare system includes tax subsidies that ensure more expensive care for fewer people.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      What you tax, you get less of and what you subsidize, you get more of. This is basic economics. It doesn’t stop working because it is healthcare. I suggest you speak to a hospital medical biller sometime to set you straight. Hospital care is more expensive here because they have to pay for a great deal of free care via the emergency room and pass those costs on to all paying patients.

                      In independent centers that do not have to carry those costs, an MRI might cost $500. In a hospital that same image scan might cost $3000. Prices vary widely and due to copyright concerns, prices are not widely available.

                    • jroberts548

                      “What you tax you get less of . . .” And? Where did I suggest that that principle doesn’t work in healthcare?

                      The result of our tax subsidies for healthcare spending is more healthcare spending, leaving us with a system that is more expensive and less efficient than any other healthcare system on the planet, with or without Obamacare. The “what you tax you get less of . . .” principle still works, and it does have the effect of promoting healthcare spending, in the form of employer paid insurance premiums and the most overpriced medical devices in the world. That, and not bandages and prostheses “in the hands of those who can barely afford them” is what our system subsidizes.

                      And in what world does it make sense to subsidize people who can’t afford health insurance through a tax subsidy on medical devices? Wouldn’t it make infinitely more sense for the government to just pay for poor people’s health insurance?

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      You are picking a poor baseline that promotes misunderstanding. The natural order of things is that economic activities are not taxed. That makes both taxation and tax subsidy actions that can be easily tracked and associated with distortions to the market.

                      So no, I do not accept your premise. We have a godawful mix of taxation and subsidy in healthcare and accepting non-standard definitions of what is normal is not helpful.

                      The world generally takes advantage of the fact that once you’ve gotten through product development and regulatory approval in the US, adding their country as a market for the pharmaceutical product or medical device makes sense if they price control to a reasonable percentage over the marginal cost of production, a much lower figure. The medical companies go along with this so long as their R&D is covered by US consumers. When the system breaks down, such as cross border shipping of meds from Canada to the US, it is instructive to notice what happens. Pfizer saw a line was crossed and too many of their products were being transhipped back to the US eating up their US profits to an unacceptable degree. They then threatened to limit shipments to expected demand in Canada and basically said that if that happened and Canada decided to still export their stuff out, that Canada would have to do without.

                      It’s a nasty situation but not one that is solved by the US joining the rest of the world in screwing over the market. The transition path to a sustainable system that you are outlining has a high excess casualty price over other alternatives. Do I need to outline how your preferred policy alternative is going to get people killed or can you connect the dots yourself?

                    • jroberts548

                      1. “The natural order of things is that economic activities are not taxed.” What wardrobe do I use to join you in your world? If you have a government, that government taxes economic activity. I’m pretty sure even Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund taxed economic activity.

                      2. Why should we set up a tax system where US tax payers subsidize drug/device R&D in return for more more expensive drugs here, greater pharmaceutical company profits, and cheaper drugs in the rest of the world? If that’s something we want to do, wouldn’t it be vastly more efficient (to say nothing of being more socially equitable) for the government to just hand money to Pfizer and buy drugs for the poor and foreigners? If US taxpayers really want to subsidize Pfizer, we should at least get something for it.

                      3. What gets people killed is the most expensive, least efficient healthcare system in the world. My most preferred policy alternative is single-payer. My second most preferred policy alternative is getting rid of all the subsidies and letting the market do what it does. Will people die? Yes. They may even be different people than the ones our system currently kills. However, it will probably kill fewer people than our system with or without Obamacare, and the ones it saves will likely be saved more cheaply, allowing more lives to be saved. Any policy in a nation of 300 million people is going to kill somebody. A cheaper, more efficient free market system will definitely kill people, but so will any other healthcare system. The question is what system kills the fewest people, both due to lapses in the healthcare system and due to changes in the amount of money available outside the healthcare system.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      Governments get funds using all sorts of methods. Some of these fund raising methods are linked to economic activity. Others are not linked to economic activity. You could, for example, raise all your funds via a head tax, a wealth tax, property tax, or any number of other taxes that are not taxes on economic activity.

                      income, sales, and excise taxes are very common but they aren’t mandatory and are in no sense the natural order of things. Some tax is necessary to fund government but that does not mean a particular tax must be passed or that it is a tax subsidy whenever some economic activity is not taxed.

                      The US did not set up a tax system to subsidize drug company R&D. The rest of the world imposed price controls secure in the knowledge that somebody else was going to be the sucker to pay for it. The proper remedy is not to be the last straw on the camel’s back but to pursue this through the WTO.

                      Single payer is not sustainable. All the 1st world single payer systems are struggling to stay solvent. The single payer systems in poorer countries are in even worse shape.

                      Nobody currently does free market medicine, not even the US. If we did, it would be a lot better than what we have now.

                    • wlinden

                      “The natural state of affairs”

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Maz9ddxEQnM

    • enness

      “If the House’s offer was accepted, we’d never be than 46 days from a government shutdown.”
      I don’t see how that follows. We’re talking about humans, not programmed robots.

  • bueler

    Both sides dont do it.

    The Repubs are asking that the Dems enact Romney’s platform or else they will not fund the govt and will not raise the debt ceiling. Romney lost. So because they lost the election, they will blow up everything.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

      I’m pretty sure that Ted Cruz and the rest of the Tea Party caucus in the Congress are not from the same wing of the party as Romney and it is their own platform that they would prefer to see enacted.

      The plain fact is that we are well on our way to an unsustainable financial situation. This needs to be fixed and there is no appetite for a named piece of legislation to get everybody on record and fix this permanently. As a result, those who are serious about avoiding a nasty financial future are engaging in brinksmanship in order to try, piecemeal, to put together enough cuts so we don’t crash hard. This takes a lot of crises to manage small cuts each time.

  • ck

    “Romney lost. So because they lost the election, they will blow up everything.”

    Uh, the House was designed to have the check and balance in its funding power so that if a mistake is rammed through the government, the people have a chance to rectify the mistake by not funding it.

  • wlinden

    When Reagan vetoed the budget, “liberals” shrieked “He shut down the government!”
    When Clinton vetoed the budget, “liberals” shrieked “The Republicans shut down the government!”

    You will have to excuse me if I can not respect this exhibition of the foolish consistency which is hobgoblin of small minds. We are dealing with people who would insist that two and two was five if a Republican said it was four.

  • AquinasMan

    A-MEN

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    That paranoid idea that all major world leaders are actually bipedal sentient lizards seems less and less ridiculous every day.

    • wlinden

      And how do we know YOU are not a Reptiloid, hmmm?

      • Mark S. (not for Shea)

        I’ve never been tempted to eat a cricket.

        • Colin Gormley

          How do WE know that though….

    • Stu

      You shouldn’t speak about things with which you have not knowledge.

      You have been warned.

      ~Stulliminati


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