Family Feud politics

One reason for the current non-debate over health care reform is that the Republicans and Democrats are playing different games. Democrats, and President Barack Obama especially, are playing Jeopardy. Republicans are playing Family Feud.

For those who haven't wasted as much time as I have watching TV game shows, let me briefly explain how these shows work.

Jeopardy is a fairly straightforward quiz show. It's one twist is that host Alex Trebek supplies "answers" for which contestants must provide the "question." Instead of asking something like "What is the capital of Australia?" Trebek instead says something like, "This city is Australia's capital." And instead of answering "Canberra," contestants are supposed to phrase their responses in the form of a question — "What is Canberra?" Apart from this semantic quirk, the game works just like any other trivia quiz show. Give the correct answers (in the form of the correct "questions") and you win. Jeopardy is a test of general knowledge and arcana. The more you know, the better you'll do. Facts matter in Jeopardy.

Familyfeud Facts do not matter in Family Feud. That game show — which pits teams of five family members against other family teams — isn't about getting the right answer, but about guessing the most popular response. Where Jeopardy's questions and answers come from an almanac or an encyclopedia, Family Feud's responses come from surveys and polls. "One hundred people surveyed," the host says, over and over, "the top five answers are on the board." The questions on Family Feud don't require knowledge or a grasp of information, but rather the ability to guess what answers were most popular with those "hundred people surveyed."

Usually, the Family Feud producers do a good job tailoring their questions to this subjective format. "Name something that might be found in a glove compartment," or "Name a popular animal at the zoo." Such questions don't have right and wrong answers, per se, just common or uncommon answers. But sometimes the producers trespass into more objective realms, offering questions that actually do have right and wrong answers. And on Family Feud, insisting on the right answer can get you into trouble, because those "hundred people surveyed" often seem to be an ill-informed bunch of morons.

When Alex Trebek asks you about the capital of Australia, you'd better say "Canberra" or you're going to lose. When Richard Dawson or his successors ask that question on Family Feud, you'd better be prepared to answer "Sydney" or "Melbourne" or "Vienna," because those hundred people surveyed may have never seen a map.

At the recent health care reform "summit," Republican leaders made it clear that they're not interested in playing Jeopardy. That would be a losing proposition against President Ken Jennings. Obama was eager to show that he really does have the right answers — cost containment, near-universal coverage, lower premiums, better quality care, deficit reduction. All of that is well covered in the plan he's pushing and any attempt to challenge him on the facts would be doomed.

So the GOP has decided to play a different game — to switch from Jeopardy to Family Feud. That way it's not about the facts, or about what works, or about the actual effect of actual policies on actual people. In the subjective guessing-game of Family Feud, none of that matters. Family Feud is all about perceptions — about what those hundred people surveyed think or guess or dimly remember having heard something about.

And the Republican Party — with tons of financial support from their allies in the health insurance lobby — have been working very hard for many years now to make sure that those hundred people surveyed have a distorted, confused and mostly ass-backwards perception of the facts.

This is how you play Family Feud politics:

Step One: Redefine the facts. If a policy works, claim it doesn't. If it will lower premiums, say it will raise them. If it would reduce the deficit, claim it will bankrupt the country. Obfuscate. Distract. Confuse. Lie. Lie some more. Throw random nonsense at the wall — death panels! — and see if any of it sticks. Don't be troubled by contradiction or worried about consistency. It's perfectly fine to simultaneously propose eliminating Medicare while posing as its defender. That's absurd and confusing, but confusion is the whole point here. Confusion is good. If those hundred people surveyed aren't completely confused, then you haven't succeeded in rigging the game.

Step Two: Poll, poll and poll. Hire Frank Luntz. Poll some more. This is all you can afford care about. Family Feud politics isn't about ideology, principle, values, good government, effectiveness, solutions, reality, facts, science or truth. It's about perception and the shaping of that perception by any means necessary. Obsessively polling and recalibrating the message and then re-polling is the only way to be sure that you're shaping perception in a winning way. Keep this up until the polls show that the confusion and disinformation sown in Step One have taken root among the hundred people surveyed.

Step Three: Cite the polling data. Call it that: polling data. The word "data" there makes it sound kind of like you give a damn about facts or reality or truth-telling. You don't — you mustn't if you intend to win this game — but you need to sound like you do. Argue that the polling data proves that the right answer is unpopular and therefore wrong. Argue that the facts are contrary to the will of the people. Argue that it would be undemocratic, tyrannical even, to insist on the right answer when the majority clearly disagrees. If you do this properly, you can congratulate yourself for being a champion of the very people you're screwing over and even get some of them to thank you for robbing them blind.

It isn't pretty. Or moral. But what did you expect from a game in which there's no such thing as the right answer?

  • indifferent children

    > I think he does more harm than good because of his journalistic dishonesty.
    I have done some informal fact-checking on Moore, especially looking at claims that sound “outlandish”. His track-record on factual issues is really very good.
    > Moore’s style is less abstract than say Paul Krugman’s style but it is still based on facts.
    You’re right that he shows facts, but showing is different that telling. He also interviewed actual people in those systems, who talked about their emotions. He had a doctor saying (paraphrased), “I would rather work in a system where everyone gets the care that they need, even if it means that I make less money.”, and American expats in France saying (paraphrased), “I feel incredibly lucky to live in a society with these protections.”

  • Parisienne

    On choice…
    The fact that the Government is paying for healthcare doesn’t necessarily mean that you have no choice about the doctor you see. Here in France, the way the system works is that all medical professionals are all self-employed. You pay upfront and then get the money refunded (in the old days by sending in a form, nowadays you just hand over a card). The Social Security pays 70% and then you take out insurance for the rest, which is fairly inexpensive – well, extremely inexpensive compared to the States… (Incidentally, it strikes me that the obvious proof that it is cheaper for the State to provide healthcare than the private sector is that the US is spending considerably more per head of population than we pinko commie countries in Europe and for worse outcomes?) The Government sets the levels up to which it is prepared to refund – some doctors charge more, for which you will either have to pay yourself or take out more expensive insurance. Personally I’m quite happy to go to a doctor charging the Government-approved rates. You get excellent care for it.
    Anyway, the upshot of this is that you can choose any doctor you like. In fact, when you first move to France, it’s a bit baffling to find one. The main routes are: ask your friends/neighbours etc. to recommend a good one or consult the yellow pages. You have complete choice to choose any doctor or clinic you like, and provided that their fees are within the agreed limits for social security it’ll all be paid for. However, this is one of those countries-where-they-don’t-speak-English so it doesn’t get on the radar.
    (A couple of exceptions – you are expected to name a “médecin traitant” who is your regular doctor and keeps all your notes etc. You are free to go to see another one, but you will be refunded at a lower rate. Nonetheless you can change your médecin traitant at will and without giving a reason. Also if you need to see a specialist, you need a referral from a GP or the Social Security/insurance won’t pay. But nonetheless, yes, I do feel very, very grateful to live in France. Truth is, OMGThe Greatest Health Care in the World!!!! is actually over here in Froggie-land, or at least it was last time that the WHO made statistics on it, vive la République…)

  • Tricksterson awaiting his just and rightful slaughter.

    max: instead of vicious attacks why not provide yur own facts and tell us why the ones presented here are wrong.

  • Lee Ratner

    The meme that in countries with “socialized medicine” is a very old one on the American right. It at least goes back to the early sixties during the fight against medicare. The right distributed a ridiculous recorded speech by Ronald Reagan where he explained that socialized medince would mean the government would control everything and eventually lead to a society where people get their jobs assigned to them by the government rather than picking their own jobs.
    Like Tonio, I think this comes from their authoritarian mindset. Since they believe that its the job of the government to maintain order, they can’t imagine a government healthcare system where a civil servant does not micromanage every aspect of care. Its simply not plausible to them that under “socialized medicine”, people choose their own doctors and doctors and patients decide what the best care is.

  • http://lightupmy.wordpress.com Jessica

    The otherwise excellent insurance that I have pays nothing for birth control or abortion
    Or GRS. Because men who want to be women are just weird and we’re not ZOMG using tax dollars for pervs to get cosmetic surgery.

  • Andrew Glasgow

    The meme that in countries with “socialized medicine” is a very old one on the American right.

    The meme that what in countries with “socialized medicine”? Do they accidentally the whole thing?

  • Pius Thicknesse

    @Andrew Glasgow:
    XD I needed a little amusement at work today.

  • The welfare queen

    i absolutely can’t stand stuff like this “oh no, the republicans aren’t playing fair!” this isn’t a high school debate, you can’t just throw up your hands in frustration because you’re opponents don’t follow the same rules you do. “but we’re just so goshdarned smart and ‘fact-based’ and playing three dimensional chess and those dang republicans come in here and wreck our fun and take control of the country for a decade” grow a spine for christs sake

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    We’re TRYING, Queen. The problem is that our Conrgesscritters seem to be under the delusion that passive resistance is an effective technique, when all it does is cause the GOP to stop kicking and start stomping.

  • http://funwithrage.livejournal.com Izzy

    TWQ: Um, we have, and we did, and what the fuck do you want, exactly? Most people here–at least the ones who are U.S. citizens–vote Democrat, sign petitions, etc. Most of us lack the time, ability, or inclination to run for office ourselves. There’s a limited amount that we can do. Having done it, I’m not seeing the problem with venting on a sympathetic forum because our opponents are pulling some sweep-the-leg-Johnny bullshit.
    Also: grow a concept of proper grammar, for “christs” sake. Fucking lead-paint-eating little trollweasel.

  • Emcee

    And once again, Izzy beats me to the punch, and says it much more elequently than I could ever hope to. And being a placator personality, I probably would have rambled on, trying to seem less insulting…when I was actually thinking what you said….

  • http://funwithrage.livejournal.com Izzy

    Emcee: Thanks!
    I admittedly am a giant bitch. But I figure that if someone doesn’t care enough to even attempt to follow the rules of the language we’re using, I don’t need to care enough to be civil to them. (And if TWQ actually doesn’t speak English as a first language, my apologies, but certain things–”dang” and “goshdarn” and the general sentence structure–make me think less that he or she is an ESL speaker and more that he or she is lazy dickscum.)

  • indifferent children

    > “oh no, the republicans aren’t playing fair!” this isn’t a high school debate
    I think you misunderstand the nature of this conversation. This is not just a “no fair!” whine-fest. We are actually discussing why our message and our approaches are failing to find traction with a larger share of the public. Witness the discussion about what happens when liberals like Michael Moore try emotional, rather than just logical, appeals.
    I don’t think that any of us in this forum are the movers-and-shakers of the progressive movement, but by learning from our failures and identifying more effective approaches, maybe we can improve. We already have a superior product; now we need superior marketing.

  • Jeff

    I don’t know who the Jeff from Mar 10, 2010 at 12:57 PM is but he isn’t me (as should be pretty obvious). I hope he picks a different name if he’s going to stick around.
    [[But this time, we have hijacked a discussion that starts with a bunch of name-calling blather and turned it into a calm, relatively well-reasoned discussion]]
    Damn. I had just worked up a nice head of steam!
    ===============
    [[I really can't decide if Republican politicians are just acting the way they do because they just want power and money from generous corporate donors or if they really believe the nonsense that comes out of their mouths.]]
    If they really believed it, they would give up their Federal health care. So, no, they don’t believe it.
    ======================
    [[It's easy enough to find lying Repuplicans, to be sure. Far too easy. There are probably a fair number of Democrat liars as well.]]
    100% of the Republicans in Congress are liars and hypocrites. Not all the Democrats are (and then there’s Joe LIEberman).
    ====================
    [[that taste difference is practically unrecognisable on the human flavour spectrum.]]
    Pepsi is considerably sweeter than Coke. The difference is very recognizable.
    ==================
    [[The last time I visited my DMV, they had clerks working at all ten counters, and there was a big-ass monitor and an electronic voice to let you know when your ticket was up.]]
    We have one of those and it still took my fiance an hour to renew her registration. Then I did mine on-line in about 5 minutes!

  • Robyrt

    I am personally not thrilled about “doctors and patients deciding what care is best for them” being an ultimate goal. Price controls are what all the cool kids are doing these days, and the US system in particular is largely unable to make cost-effective decisions about who needs what. The strong bias in favor of expensive, marginally better procedures for everyone can be countered by a socialist “No”, or a free-market “It’ll cost you $ridiculous_sum”, but it must be countered or we’re never going to fix the problem.

  • Robyrt

    @Parisienne: Mexico provides health care very cheaply, largely through the private sector. The quality is probably unacceptable in the US, but it exists.

  • http://lightupmy.wordpress.com Jessica

    lazy dickscum
    I know someone who had that once. He had to use some 409 and a brillo pad on his, ohhhhhh, you said dickscum. Never mind. ;-)

  • hapax

    I don’t know who the Jeff from Mar 10, 2010 at 12:57 PM is but he isn’t me (as should be pretty obvious). I hope he picks a different name if he’s going to stick around
    Er. I *had* assumed it was you, and was pretty startled at the line of argument you seemed to be following. I mean, you and I don’t agree on lots and lots, but we usually differ differently, if you follow my drift.
    And now I feel stupid, because when I devote three brain cells to thinking about it, it’s pretty obvious that the prose style was not at all the same.
    So, um. Sorry?

  • Tonio

    I really can’t decide if Republican politicians are just acting the way they do because they just want power and money from generous corporate donors or if they really believe the nonsense that comes out of their mouths.

    I wouldn’t limit that to Republicans. I’ve heard the theory that the Stupak group’s opposition is merely a proxy move by insurance company donors trying to kill reform.

  • Jeff — insist on the real thing!

    [[So, um. Sorry?]]
    No problem.

  • Lori

    Several people have spoken with approval about the proposal’s put forward by Representative Paul Ryan, and others have been writing about it so I decided to read his “Roadmap for America’s Future”. Having read it and the Tax Policy Center’s evaluation all I can say is um, no!
    Ryan’s proposal raises taxes on approximately 60% of tax payers, cuts tax rates for the very rich (a perennial Conservative favorite) and require huge spending cuts which are left unspecified. His proposed freeze on nonsecurity discretionary spending is just the same old, same old GOP party line. Anyone can call for a spending freeze. The real issue is how you make that work because it means cutting programs. He has nothing to say about how that should be done or who should carry the burden of the cuts. I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out how that’s likely to play out.
    Worse, Ryan claims the his proposal is fiscally responsible and will eliminate the deficit, but if Paul Krugman is correct, and as near as I can tell he is, that’s simply not true. All those spiffy charts and graphs his supporters have been running to show that it is are based in large part on the fact that Ryan asked the Congressional Budget Office to score his proposals for spending cuts, but didn’t ask them to score his tax proposals. His tax proposals would significantly reduce federal revenue, so that’s a problem. In fact in most circumstances that would be referred to as cheating. So again, no.

  • Will Wildman

    [[that taste difference is practically unrecognisable on the human flavour spectrum.]]
    Jeff: Pepsi is considerably sweeter than Coke. The difference is very recognizable.

    My point about ‘human flavour spectrum’ is that we’re talking about a sense that has a range of sufficiently differentiated reactions to distinguish between sushi and popcorn and broccoli whiskey and steak and watermelon gelati and hummus and humus and bratwurst and cat fur and latex and postage-stamp-glue and tandoori-anything. And on that n-dimensional spectrum, I’d argue that Coke and Pepsi are pretty much right up next to each other.
    Not that I disagree that Pepsi is sweeter. That’s why it’s for infidels.

  • Will Wildman

    Missed an ‘and’, which I suspect is going to result in people asking WTF ‘broccoli whiskey’ is. I don’t know. I encourage others to experiment, for science.
    Also: glad to hear that was a Skrull and not Our Jeff.
    What’s the HTML tag for strikethrough? The obvious ones aren’t working for me.

  • MercuryBlue

    I think it’s <strike>…testing: say something, anything (anything but that)…yeah, that’s it.

  • Pius Thicknesse

    This is a test of the strike system.
    Anyway, re Coke and Pepsi.
    Y’all should know Canadian Coke is different from USian Coke, and for this reason Canadian Coke and Pepsi ARE almost indistinguishable.
    (American Coke, in fact, has a VERY unpleasant aftertaste and American Pepsi isn’t much better. I end up drinking 7-Up or Sprite in the States when I need a soft drink. Or a lager.)

  • Launcifer

    Pepsi is considerably sweeter than Coke. The difference is very recognizable.

    Well, we obviously got shafted, this side of the Puddle. Coke is like drinking sugar solution with a bit of fizz, whereas I’m fairly sure that we don’t get Pepsi, just carbonated molasses, or something.
    So we got screwed on soft drinks and stout? Figures.
    *wanders off, muttering*

  • Jeff

    [[And on that n-dimensional spectrum, I'd argue that Coke and Pepsi are pretty much right up next to each other.]]
    On that scale, Coke and Cherry Coke are indistinguishable, as are Coke and Diet Coke. But there’s a definite difference for all of those.
    One big reason why New Coke failed was that it was too sweet — it threw off drinks like rum and Coke. (A fair number of people figured that if they were going to be drinking “might-as-well-be-Pepsi” in a red can, they misght as well drink Pepsi in a blue can. Coke brought back “Coke Classic”, which is now just marketed as “Coke” — let’s forget that other drink, shall we? — and regained the market share they lost.)
    =======================
    [[What's the HTML tag for strikethrough? The obvious ones aren't working for me.]]
    I use [s]this is striked out[/s] (with angle brackets, obviously).

  • http://lightupmy.wordpress.com Jessica

    for strikethroughs, you can also just put your angle brackets around a letter “s” and the standard slash and letter to close the tag.

  • Jeff

    Ha ha, Jessica, beat you! Neener, neener, neener!! :-P

  • Shay Guy

    My political science class on Wednesday made me wonder how these issues would be affected if somehow, miraculously, Congress switched to a proportional representation system.

  • Daughter

    Lori, what’s wrong with the idea of the tontine? I don’t think it’s sufficient as a means of reform, but absent a universal healthcare system, it’s certainly a better way to get young, healthy adults to buy into an insurance plan than penalizing them.

  • Daughter

    Re: preventive medicine. Isn’t part of the plan with health care reform to increase the use of evidence-based medicine? I am thinking of the recent brouhaha when it was announced that annual mammograms women under 50 who aren’t at high risk for breast cancer are counter-productive, and several Republicans hollering that that was proof of the fact that government would begin to ration health care.
    A focus on using evidence to ensure better preventive care and necessary preventive medicine seems to me a good and ultimately cost-saving thing. I’ll give a personal example of less than ideal preventive care: ever since my first gynecological exam at age 18, I have had doctors tell me to do monthly breat self-exams. And numerous times, I have asked, “What am I supposed to be feeling for? Breast tissue is somewhat lumpy to begin with, so how am I supposed to distinguish normal lumps from abnormal ones?”
    The only doctor who ever answered the question basically said, “If you do the self-exam every month, you’ll get used to your own lumps and recognize when something shouldn’t be there.”
    And then, about a month ago, I read an article in a magazine that finally answered the question. Normal breast tissue lumps are soft and move easily. A cancerous lump will be hard and won’t “give” when you press it.
    Now, how hard would it have been for a doctor to tell me this, and why has it taken 20+ years and reading a magazine to find out this answer?

  • Bennett Standeven

    LaGal: Robyrt, but how would that work? I’m pretty sure the bill doesn’t require the actuarial tables to assume men could somehow become pregnant and give birth. Unless you mean the bill just says ignore ALL actuarial tables for EVERYTHING? Which would never work, because then we’d all be billed as though we were emphysematic, diabetic, heart-diseased, 80-somethings with AIDS and three kinds of cancer
    Actually, yes, I thought that was the idea (ie, insurance companies can’t charge more for people with preexisting conditions, for the elderly, etc).

  • Ryan

    Strange, I always thought that Coca was sweeter than Pepsi. Not that I like either of them…

  • Pius Thicknesse

    Lori, what’s wrong with the idea of the tontine? I don’t think it’s sufficient as a means of reform, but absent a universal healthcare system, it’s certainly a better way to get young, healthy adults to buy into an insurance plan than penalizing them.

    The concept of the tontine, at all, reads to me like a disaster waiting to happen. There’s a reason why it was made illegal over a hundred years ago, and that involves asking yourself what you would do if you and a hundred other people all kicked in, say, a hundred bucks each into a pot and all you had to do was wait till everybody was distracted to steal it.
    Now any decent person would not steal the money, but all it takes is one person to get a nefarious idea and game’s over.

  • Daughter

    Pius, thanks, I see your point. But that still raises a question for me: what are the other options, absent a single-payer system, for getting the young and healthy to buy health insurance? An article I read recently talked about how some residents in Massachusetts (where I lived until two years ago) are choosing to forgo insurance and pay the fine on their taxes, because they still can’t afford insurance (b/c they make too much to qualify for subsidies) and the fine is less than the insurance would be.

  • Lori

    Lori, what’s wrong with the idea of the tontine? I don’t think it’s sufficient as a means of reform, but absent a universal healthcare system, it’s certainly a better way to get young, healthy adults to buy into an insurance plan than penalizing them.

    They’re trying to get young people to spend a significant portion of their income on insurance they don’t believe they need badly enough to justify the financial sacrifice the premiums would entail. As a means of doing that indeterminate pay out years in the future isn’t a very strong incentive, especially since you have limited control over whether or not you’ll be able to collect and no control at all over how much you’ll collect. As such it’s unlikely to be effective at getting a significantly greater proportion of young people to buy insurance.
    By the time you factor in the cost of administering the tontine your net gain isn’t likely to be worth the problems the tonitne would create. Mostly importantly that it actually sets up perverse incentives—the classic problem with tontines. Used as a plot device in books & movies they incentivize members to bump each other off. In the case of health care it creates an incentive not to seek medical attention, especially as people get closer to their pay off date.
    And of course it could also incetivize people to try to make others in their cohort ill or injured enough to have to use their insurance, thus dropping out of the tontine and creating a larger pay out for the last wo/man standing. As someone more clever than I pointed out this is less a serious proposal for fixing a problem with health care than it is a Carl Hiassen plot

  • Lori

    But that still raises a question for me: what are the other options, absent a single-payer system, for getting the young and healthy to buy health insurance? An article I read recently talked about how some residents in Massachusetts (where I lived until two years ago) are choosing to forgo insurance and pay the fine on their taxes, because they still can’t afford insurance (b/c they make too much to qualify for subsidies) and the fine is less than the insurance would be.

    I think this is a case where the answer’s in the question—the issue is cost. If we want people to buy insurance we have to make it affordable first, not make a lot of pie in the sky promises about giving money back later.
    Based on my memories of my 20′s and the 20-somethings that I know now, young people aren’t going without insurance because they think it’s no big deal to be uninsured. They’re doing it because the cost is such a high percentage of their income that paying it would involve huge sacrifices. Given that statistically they’re not going to need major health care they make the (quite rational) decision to forgo it. If the premiums where less expensive more people would buy at least a basic policy.

  • Bennett Standeven

    I was going to comment on “indifferent children”‘s argument that people with insurance are more likely to get preventative care than people without, but it occurred to me that I’d better look at the current state of the health care bill first. Then I found this:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_health_care_overhaul

    House Democratic leaders Thursday abandoned a long struggle to strike a compromise on abortion in their ranks, gambling that they can secure the support for President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care legislation with showdown votes looming as early as next week.
    In doing so, they are [...] hoping they can find enough support from other wavering Democrats to pass legislation that only cleared the House by five votes in an earlier incarnation.
    With Senate Democrats no longer able to block Republican filibusters, the strategy calls for House Democrats to embrace a health bill the Senate passed in December, despite their numerous objections. Democratic senators in turn would promise to make a limited number of changes under “budget reconciliation” rules, which bar filibusters.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t budget reconciliation rules require that the changes involve the budget? If so, how can they do anything to remove the abortion provisions from the Senate bill?
    Oh, I see, they’re just leaving that part of the Senate bill as is. Hmph.

    Republican and Democratic lawmakers quarreled Thursday over whether Obama must sign the Senate bill into law before Congress can make the changes, which Democrats see as crucial to making the overall package more politically palatable. Republicans plan to pounce on Democrats the instant the Senate bill becomes law, and House and Senate parliamentarians eventually may have to determine the allowable sequence of legislative actions.

    Huh? How can they change a bill after it’s been signed? That strikes me as unconstitutional. [I also don't see why it would "make the overall package more politically palatable"; are they expecting the conservative Democrats to go back on their word and vote against the reconciliation reforms?]

  • Bennett Standeven

    Ah, http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-03-11-health-care_N.htm?csp=34&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+usatoday-NewsTopStories+(News+-+Top+Stories) has a much better version of the article.
    Now my question is, what motive does the Senate have to go along with the House’s preferred amendment? After all, no matter what they do, their own version will still be signed into law.

  • Mark Z.

    Lori: If the premiums where less expensive more people would buy at least a basic policy.
    And there’s the Catch-22: the premiums can’t be less expensive because the 20-somethings aren’t just risk-spreading among themselves but also subsidizing coverage for 70-somethings dying of emphysema, which is why “we want” more of them to buy insurance. The point of bringing them into the system is precisely to be able to charge them far more than their actuarial risk. In theory, this will work to their advantage when they’re dying of emphysema in fifty years, but today’s 20-somethings mostly aren’t smoking two packs a day while working in a coal mine downwind of a steel mill.
    The advantage of a single-payer system over forcing 20-somethings to buy insurance is that the income tax scales with income, and so the people we massively overcharge to subsidize everyone else are the very rich, who (by definition) can afford it.

  • ako

    Based on my memories of my 20′s and the 20-somethings that I know now, young people aren’t going without insurance because they think it’s no big deal to be uninsured. They’re doing it because the cost is such a high percentage of their income that paying it would involve huge sacrifices. Given that statistically they’re not going to need major health care they make the (quite rational) decision to forgo it. If the premiums where less expensive more people would buy at least a basic policy.
    Very much this. My uninsured stretch happened during a year of unemployment and part-time temp work, and little risk of major medical problems. It wasn’t fun, and made questions like “Did I strain my ankle or sprain it or what?” and “How many weeks can you have a cough without needing medical care?” unusually worrying (it was only a strain, and the cough eventually went away). If I’d been able to find a policy that wouldn’t have taken up half or more of my income, I’d have been all over that. And when I got a job that paid well enough for me to afford insurance and things like food and clothing (and going to movies, taking vacations, nice dinners out, etc.), I signed up for the best insurance I could get, with automatic deductions for premiums so I don’t have to worry about forgetting to pay. Because I quite like having insurance, although I’m tempted to stop the health savings account, as it seems to be dumping money down a black hole (if it was allowed to accumulate indefinitely, on the other hand, it’d be a good deal).

  • Lee Ratner

    Shay Guy: I don’t think that its so much about proportional representation as its about the Presidential system. In parliamentary system, the executive always controls the majority vote in the legislature, at least theoretically. This makes party loyalty more important in parliamentary systems because the executive expects to count on his or her proposals and policies getting passed. The majority party knows that if they fight to much with the executive than they loose power. Presidential systems are different. The party in control of the executive may not necessarily be in control of the legislature in presidential systems. This makes confrontations between the executive and legislature more expected. This means that politicians feel less bound to their party and more able to go out on their own on pet issues. One of the key strategies of the Republican party was that they have managed to get Parliamentary like discipline.

  • Jeff

    [[Now any decent person would not steal the money, but all it takes is one person to get a nefarious idea and game's over.]]
    The money is usually held where none of the group can get at it, like a bank. If you read mysteries from the 40′s, the more common crime is for one or more members to knock off the others.
    [[this is less a serious proposal for fixing a problem with health care than it is a Carl Hiassen plot]]
    More Agatha Christie or Ngo Marsh than Hiassen. The plot has been used in a couple of American mysteries, but the tontine was much more popular in Europe.
    ============================
    [[today's 20-somethings mostly aren't smoking two packs a day]]
    I wonder why today’s 20=-somethings, who grew up with “cigarettes will KILL you” ads all their life are smoking at all. Anyone in or near that age care to comment?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a6452705970c Ruby

    Jeff: I wonder why today’s 20=-somethings, who grew up with “cigarettes will KILL you” ads all their life are smoking at all. Anyone in or near that age care to comment?
    Well, I’m just a bit out of that age range myself, but I will volunteer that it is a fallacy that only today’s young people are/were aware of the dangers of smoking. My grandfather, who smoked for about fifty years and died of lung cancer, started smoking when he was about 13, and was quite candid that he knew full well that cigarettes were bad for him. But, he was out in the working world, and the “grown-up” men he worked with smoked, and offered him cigarettes as a friendly gesture. “Peer pressure” of a sort, if you will.

  • ako

    Anyone in or near that age care to comment?
    The usual range of reasons, I expect. Peer pressure. Rebellion. Stress. Mental health issues (people with mental health issues are far more likely to smoke). The general difficulty of giving up pleasure now for health later (which also accounts for a lot in terms of eating habits, alcohol consumption, and sexual practices). The allure of the forbidden. Thinking you’re just trying it or experimenting and waking up one day with a full-on addiction. Lacking access to good information. Probably the same reasons as why people ten or twenty years older started.
    Getting good information out there raises the percentage of people who make good health decisions, but it’s never going to be one hundred percent successful. You don’t even get one-hundred-percent success in getting people to wash their hands, and walking around with dirty hands doesn’t give you a buzz.

  • Bennett Standeven

    I wrote:

    Now my question is, what motive does the Senate have to go along with the House’s preferred amendment? After all, no matter what they do, their own version will still be signed into law.

    I forgot, the Senate only needs a majority under this setup, not a supermajority. So they can afford to ignore the right-wing Democrats who are guaranteed to vote against the amendments. The real question is, will the House go for the reforms the Senate wants?

  • http://lightupmy.wordpress.com Jessica

    I wonder why today’s 20=-somethings, who grew up with “cigarettes will KILL you” ads all their life are smoking at all. Anyone in or near that age care to comment?
    Television and movies glamorized it for me. And smoking pot.
    Seriously? I started smoking when I worked at Disneyland. I was out with some guys after work, and one of them handed me a cigarette. I smoked the whole time I worked there, had a few friends that smoked and once you get hooked, you’re bumming them off your friends, etc. I smoked for about 10 years, and quit, more or less cold turkey, but I will still smoke on occasion, usually at clubs or bars.

  • The welfare queen

    here’s an article that can explain what i’m trying to say better than i can
    http://exiledonline.com/were-so-doomed-paul-krugman-briefly-demonstrates-why-liberals-are-stuck-in-general-custers-army/

  • http://jamoche.livejournal.com jamoche

    I don’t even watch 24, but that adorable gecko is still only offering car coverage.
    The gecko does not offer collision coverage on cars over 10 years old. Not realising that such a thing was possible, I switched to them in college, and promptly got in an accident. Yes, my car was just over the limit.


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