Thursday, August 20, 2009

Response to the open letter from Dr. Stephen Fraser to Sen. Evan Bayh

Another of my friends, Gary Aguilar, has given me permission to share another rebuttal response to more propaganda. A letter has been circulated, ostensibly from "Dr. Stephen Fraser." Gary offers this point-by-point rebuttal, with links. Enjoy, and circulate broadly!
Dear Merk et al,

I read with interest the first pdf attachment you sent, "HealthCareLtr09.pdf." Then I googled up the on-line bill it was criticizing to check the validity of the assertions of the self-described "patriotic American," "Dr. Stephen Fraser," in his letter to Sen. Bayh. So are "Dr. Fraser's" criticisms valid?

No, they're not..

Let's take them, one by one.

#1. "Dr. Fraser" says, "Page 22 of the HC Bill: Mandates that the Govt will audit books of all employers that self insure!!" (sic).

Go to the bill itself, at: http://docs.house.gov/edlabor/AAHCA-BillText-071409.pdf. There, you'll find it says no such thing. What it does say on the pages circa 22 is that the govt. will inspect entities that "self insure" to determine whether they're financially solvent. It makes sense for the feds to check, too. For if an employer opts out of any and all plans, saying it will cover all its employee health care costs itself, but lacks the wherewithal to do so, workers may be harmed. So it's not unreasonable for the govt., and workers, to know beforehand.

#2 "Dr. Fraser" says: "Page 30, Sec 123 of HC bill - THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get." (sic).

What page 30 actually says is that a Health Benefits Advisory Committee will be established to "recommend covered benefits and essential, enhanced and premium plans." This is standard practice.. Such committees determine coverage in all private plans now. The idea being that just because you'd like Blue Cross or Medicare to pay for your cosmetic surgery isn't sufficient reason for it/them to do so. [I know from my own experience that patients often have unreasonable expectation of what insurers should cover.]

How about the business of that "GOVT COMMITTEE?" The bill says there will be no more than 27 members, all appointed, except for the Surgeon General. Of the 27, 18 will be picked from the outside - that is, they can't be either federal employees or officers. The other 8 will be federal employees/officers who are appointed by the President. Among the non-feds, MUST BE physician providers and representatives of labor and consumer groups, etc. These representatives are far more inclusive of the medically needy public than the panels used by private insurance companies are today.

# 3. "Dr. Fraser" says, "Page 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill: YOU HEALTH CARE IS RATIONED!

Check page 29 and it says no such thing.

But if rationing is such a bad thing, why do we allow it here in America already? I donate time at San Francisco General where care for the poor is already quite rationed in that the wait lists for services are far, far longer than they are for the poor in virtually all other First World countries. The wait lists in Canada, which is often criticized, is often no longer than wait lists here for private patients. Perhaps not for MRI scans, for which patients may wait in Canada a little longer, but surgical wait times are not much different. (The next available slot on my private surgery schedule is in about a month.)

And America is the ONLY first world country in which its own doctors go on medical missions to serve the poor - WITHIN THE BORDER OF THEIR OWN COUNTRY! "60 Minutes" did a great expose of this - poor American folk - many of them white and apparently most U.S. citizens - assembling before dawn in remote locations to get health care they can't afford.

#4. "Dr. Fraser" says: "Page 42 of HS Bill: The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your HC Benefits for you. You have no choice!"

Nothing of the sort appears anywhere on page 42. Nor, from what I've heard from my AMA rep, is such a policy written anywhere in the bill. All insurers determine what benefits they'll cover under the plan, and many private insurers immorally change the rules after the fact these days, bankrupting policy holders who undergo treatment that they arbitrarily decide they won't cover.

The #1 cause of personal bankruptcy in America is unaffordable health care costs, usually after unexpected, costly illnesses. This situation exists NOWHERE else in the world. Nowhere.

#5. "Dr. Fraser" says: "Page 50 Section 152 in the HC bill: HC will be provided to ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise."

You won't find that anywhere on page 50.

There are 4 more attachments which I won't review because I have no more reason to suppose they'll be any more credible than I have to believe Sarah Palin's imbecilities - boosted by the John Birch Society (in the "New American") - about Obama's plans for "death panels."

I have no idea who this "Dr. Fraser" is. But I'd bet that, if he really exists at all and isn't instead just a phony shill for some wealthy conservative, Republican PR machine, he's probably been fed these lies and is just passing them along to others to accomplish what the right wing ALWAYS tries to do: Scare the Shit out of people. Well, shame on "Dr. Fraser!" The obvious goal here it to keep the money pouring into the coffers of the often corrupt, unethical and immoral insurance companies and hospital corporations.

The McClatchy news outlet - which was the ONLY mainstream U.S. news outlet (known then as Knight Ridder) to really warn its readers BEFORE the Iraq War that Bush & Co. were greatly exaggerating the threat Saddam posed - just put out a fascinating piece detailing who's behind the "Dr. Frasers" of the world. It's entitled, "Who's behind the attacks on a health care overhaul?" http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/73765.html?story_link=email_msg

As usual, it's conservative, Republican, right-wing liars and manipulators, among them the notorious Rick Scott, Scott, for anyone who cares to check, "left his job as CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospitals during a federal Medicare fraud probe in 1997 that led to a historic $1.7 billion settlement." So the captain of the "Fraud Ship Columbia/HCA" that bilked America of even more than the $1.7 billion they settled for - Rick Scott - is Mary Mark et al's ally in this "freedom fight."

And people wonder why conservative Republicans can't get no respect!

I welcome rejoinders. Perhaps someone will read through all the other attachments and find that, somewhere, he's finally found something worth bitching about. If so, I'd love to hear it!

Gary
Thanks, Gary, for being such a true patriot. (Gary was so Republican in his youth he was a member of the John Birch Society. People really can, and sometimes do, change.)

24 Comments:

Blogger Dawn Meredith said...

Great article Gary. Thanks for sharing, Lisa.
Hard to believe he was ever a Republican. I have a friend like this too, actually he's a friend of my college best friend, and we only know each other by email. He was Republican and knew zip about conspiracy up til two years ago, now he reads every book or site I recommend. So yes, people CAN change. Just have to be open to the truth.
Thanks for ALL you do, Gary. You,too, Lisa. See you in Dallas.
Dawn

11:31 AM  
Blogger I Hate Political Chain Mail said...

I responded to this in great detail as well. Here is the link: http://ihatechainmail.blogspot.com/2009/08/response-to-dr-stephen-e-fraser-letter.html

I had to give up steam around page 500 I believe.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Gary Zimmer said...

Reply to someone having sent me the Stephen Fraser letter:

Hello*****I find it amazing that we can bail out companies liked AIG, granting their already rich executives millions in bonus money, and then have the recipients of this money turn around and call a Health Plan designed to insure the masses providing that bonus money and those bailouts, 'socialism'.

Socialism is what it may be and if it is, let us walk proudly as we allow women, children, the elderly (and let's not forget the middle class folks that can be bankrupted by a single illness) an opportunity to get from our health care system the same care that many Americans now have to go to foreign countries to get. Maybe you haven't heard that we have citizens using their life savings, and sometimes borrowing money to travel to countries not nearly as rich as this one to obtain health care.

This lack of health insurance for Americans is not new! What did the Bush administration (pick one) do to resolve the lack of health care in this rich country? Where does the money come from to pay millions and millions tp corporate executives year after year, while they make decisions that require that they be paid even more in bailout money? Where does that money come from? Much of it comes from (consumers) who cannot afford health insurance!

Why haven't the Republicans addressed this problem instead of creating obstacles in the path of what is easily read as 'the right thing to do'?

This bill may not be perfect and it may require adjustments but it is an effort to 'do the right thing'.

I would find it really interesting to evaluate the wealth of those Republicans and Democrats who are against health care of any kind. They are out front in the attempt to defeat this legislation. I doubt that any of them could be described any other way than 'wealthy' and if you probed deep within, you would find 'greed' rampant throughout their system and the well concealed 'fear' that the poor people will come and take it all away from them...then their are the other 'rich' like the Kennedys and our own Senator Cantwell...who are willing to share a bit and want security for all...not just the few.

Wouldn't it be great....I wish Dr. Fraser well but he is being misled by the kid down the block. What is his name...O'Reilly I think...and his corpulent little drug using buddy, both newly rich and 'afeared' of the little people...maybe justifiably???

Maybe we should ask Ken DeLay what he would do?

Gary Zimmer

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary, I think you should look at the bigger picture. Socialism has never worked without a single despot or an ironfisted ruler(s), and even then it doesn't work; USSR, China, Cuba, N. Korea etc are not models we should look towards and want to emulate. In fact those are models that we should be disgusted by. Where entire populations are mistreated, poor and lack any opportunity for betterment in their own countries. While universal health care is a noble goal, it is an illusion and a dream to call the current bill a success or something that will better our nation.

The reason America has been so prosperous and so powerful is not because of large government handouts but rather because of limited government and opportunity. Those on the lowest rung of society have every opportunity to better themselves should they choose to do so. And I wouldn't believe you otherwise because I've seen countless stories of people rising to fortune through their own willpower and desire.

Your claims about republicans lying, scaremongering whatever it is you want to call it are silly. The democrats are doing the same thing in order to try and ram this bill, cap & trade, or any other social welfare bill through congress. I would not argue that there are problems in our country but I find it troubling that this bill is seen as a solution.

It is a political game. Look at Massachusets, which has a similar system to the one being considered. Is it really successful with some of the highest premiums in the country, bringing a state government towards bankruptcy and not even covering everyone in the state?

"Give a man a fish; feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish; feed him for a lifetime" A bit cheesy certainly, but the question remains, why are we better off making people dependent on government? Why are we not focused on helping people learn, grow and feed themselves independently? That is much more fulfilling and rewarding than forcing a populace to accept a flawed, political, and encroaching bill for the sake of "it's the right thing to do".

http://fee.org/library/books/i-pencil-2/

Please read the above short essay. It is not directly related to healthcare but is something I hope you will all find interesting. It is the reason that socialism or communism do not work. For all of capitalism's flaws, there is not a system throughout history that has provided for so many, or that has created so much prosperity and advancement for the betterment of the population. Look at any of the modern wonoders, Cars, TVs, Laptops etc. these are products of innovation, capitalism and most of all freedom.
http://www.bdt.com/pages/Peikoff.html

I realize this isn't a world class essay, I wish I had more time to spend composing it, but unfortunately I don't. Hope you enjoyed.

3:07 PM  
Blogger longball said...

I am an American living in Germany. I kills me when I see how the right uses the word "socialism" to try and scare Americans into thinking the communism is coming! Doctors in Germany earn a fortune. The only thing the government can do is determine what they can charge for services. The German health care systems allows for you to be privately insured or federally. If you are privately insured, as I am, you pay double for your service from the same doctor. Which explains why my coverage is double. Why am I privately insured? Simple, i am self employeed, no choice. Believe me, there is as much capitalism going on in a socialist country as anywhere in the U.S. One thing we do have, hold any investment for 1 year, you pay no tax on the money you make. Still scared of socialism? Of yeah, and the government does not tell you what you can do with the money you make. Which is take it to america and buy buy buy with the weak dollar.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Gary Zimmer said...

Anonymous---you fully misinterpreted what my point was. I was not suggesting that we convert to socialism. The point of what I wrote follows:

This lack of health insurance for Americans is not new! What did the Bush administration (pick one) do to resolve the lack of health care in this rich country? Where does the money come from to pay millions and millions tp corporate executives year after year, while they make decisions that require that they be paid even more in bailout money? Where does that money come from? Much of it comes from (consumers) who cannot afford health insurance!

The fact is that you and other Republicans (I think Ayn Rand started it with 'Atlas Shrugged') really do not care what happens to those you consider the 'unwashed masses'...one immediately remembers the line....'let them eat cake'......your reply has ample truth when you state that our wealthy society is the result of the capitalistic potential of wealth...no one disputes profit as motivation however, the gathering of unexpected wealth i.e. Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh...creates the worst kind of conservative...the kind who does not believe he deserves his riches and is afraid that the 'little people' of society will come and take it back...our wonderful pseudo humanitarian Bob Hope made all those trips to war zones attempting to do his part to support those (sons of the poor and the middle class) who offered themselves as cannon fodder so that he could remain rich...replicated several times over by newly rich John Wayne, Bing Crosby, Ronald Reagan just to name a few..Sinatra was flexible...first a Kennedy man...and then when the big bucks hit...a Reagan guy....it isn't hard to come up with the answers if one takes the time to look...and, of course, you know that socialism does work....Scandinavian countries prove it beyond doubt...but one must eliminate or at least harness 'greed'...harangue finished...

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should not confuse Ayn Rand with Marie Antoinette (often credited with that quote). Ayn Rand's message was one of the individual, an individual's rights and freedom. Our constitution guarantees us the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Outside of that scope, we are guaranteed nothing, myself included, because you cannot be guaranteed anything that is a cost to someone else. That is no different than slavery in theory.

Firstly, what is the number of uninsured that legitimately cannot afford insurance and do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare? I'll call it 20 million, a bit high, but I'll give that to you. Those 20 million make up about 6% of the population. Do we really need a 2,000 page bill to completely transform the entire health care industry in order for those 6% to get insurance? No, that's crazy, it'd be cheaper to just buy them insurance in the market place right now! Is it really the duty of our government to run an enormous insolvant insurance company? No, that is not a right guaranteed by the constitution nor does it make business sense. It is a political gimmick to get reelected and pretend that they care about other people. Medicare and Medicaid are projected to be insolvant in the near future, we've got 50 states in the US as experiments and we choose to model a national system on the states that are functioning the worst? I'm sorry but I do not consider giant annual budget deficits and enormous amount of debt (or IOU's in California's case) whilst still having the highest premiums and not even covering 100% of the pop.(i.e. Mass). This bill cannot possibly be about lowering costs and putting America on a path of fiscal responsibility simply because it does neither of those things.

I'll continue with some more questions; what is the reason that insurance is currently so expensive and rising? Lack of competition? Well, certainly, but why? Because companies cannot compete across state lines? Some states enforce "community rating" and "guaranteed issue" which raise costs and drive out many companies that cannot profitably compete? Some states decide what must be included in coverage, which more often than not will raise the cost(more benefits => cost goes up)?

So what are the alternatives for health care? How can we make our system better? Well, there are a lot of different ideas. There are a lot of ways that that 6% can get coverage without the government spending $1 trillion and reorganizing healthcare for the entire nation. But we only see one option being discussed because you, my liberal friends, are not actually interested in a debate about bettering the people. You are interested in imposing an ideology, you don't believe that we the population can take care of ourselves, you dream of a utopia that does not exist. Rather than encourage and create opportunities for the poor to become wealthy themselves, you'd rather control the rich and give their money to the poor, calling yourself a servant of the poor, while becoming rich yourself.

Wealth is not a zero sum game. There is opportunity aplenty for those in lower classes to better themselves, and that is all you can be guaranteed.

As far as Scandinavia proving socialsim works, you're talking about countries with entirely homogeneous populations, and fewer people than than New York City alone. Not quite apples to apples, and there is convincing evidence of things changing.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Longball, "any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods" - Merriam Webster's definition of socialism. The health bill in discussion, by definition, is socialism. It is a collective governmental program that will take ownership of our medical industry. That's the definition, not a scare tactic. And as far as the 0% capital gains tax after a year in Germany, that's awesome. I would support that, but your friend Obama plans to raise cap gains. And I don't believe I ever said there wasn't capitalism in Europe, there is of course, but there's also a good reason that Europe as a whole produces about the same as the US, while having 80 million more people; it is also the same reason 10%-14% unemployment in Europe is normal.

What are your goals? Is it so narrow minded as to say "we acheived universal healthcare!" even if it ruins the state financially and provides lower quality coverage and care for everyone? Have you even looked at other options? I'm all for reforming the system, but we are not in a crisis that merits passing this bill in secret against the public will and this is not the only solution.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous - what opportunity does a poor kid have whose parents can't afford to send him to college, if they're even still alive and not desperately in need of the kid's immediate income? Seriously, it's this kind of inhuman response that drove people away from the Republican party.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Gary Zimmer said...

I'll take your issues one at a time. I'm quoting from a source that is headlined "Get out your credit cards for new health care plan". The headline hints that it is negative regarding the health plan meaning that the writer(s) tend to be on your side. Well, not necessarily, but probably.

Your estimate of 20 million uninusred at the present time is slightly askew. I'm quoting "As many as 24 million people would remain uninsured in 2019, many of them otherwise eligible Americans who still can't afford the premiums." It seems likely that there are more than 20 million presently if the pundits predict an even greater number ten years from now. I'm not going to address more of the health reform issues that you raise because your 6% estimate is incorrect and self serving. Once again, I have to ask what Bush presidency (remember, 'pick one') made even a token attempt to correct the problem. So, if this legislation is flawed (time will tell) then look over your shoulder at the ineptitude of father and son, the latter will go down in history as the worst Chief Executive of this country and he took great strides to achieve that desultory hole in the ground somewhere in East Texas I believe.

Anonymous, you needn't give me a lesson on Ayn Rand or the quote ("Let them eat cake.") I'm fully aware of Rand's philosophy and the ultimate demise of Marie Antoinette.

You cannot be guaranteed anything 'that is a cost to someone else'? That is an interesting position and embodies the substance of our ample area of disagreement. We are fighting a war in a country that 'belongs to someone else'. We would not be there fighting that war if we did not believe that winning it would guarantee us something. And, Anonymous, if we are so 'right' about that war, why are other countries not yoked in tandem with us to win that war?

Even where capitalism is embraced around the world, our aggression is condemned. And there has never been a time in history when great and small numbers of people were not guaranteed 'gain' at the cost of someone else.

I believe most of the wealthy became that way 'at the cost of someone else'...that isn't necessarily a bad thing. But share, damnit, share...give back...as Bill Gates does, as thousands of others do...profit at the expense of the people, and then take care of them because, yes because, without them and without compassion and 'guaranteeing that they will benefit because of accumulated wealth' those little people will take it all away and chaos will reign.

Your quote: "Rather than encourage and create opportunities for the poor to become wealthy themselves, you'd rather control the rich and give their money to the poor, calling yourself a servant of the poor, while becoming rich yourself." Simple gobbledygook...except for one point...I would not give all of the money of the rich to the poor, just some of it. I am disdainful of 'greed'...and if you were a true humanitarian, you also would resent 'raw greed'...In my state a short time back, those inheriting up to $2 million dollars (emphasis on 'inheriting', in other words Anonymous, they didn't earn it) were allowed to keep that 2 million without being taxed on it. They tried to get a bill passed that would exempt all of the inheritance including the 2 million from 'any' tax...raw greed and rampant throughout society.

Yes opportunity abounds, tell that to the elderly that lose their homes due to one illness...you need to look within....you structure an argument to agree with your preconceived ideas...there is a simple explanation for our society and it is titled 'caves' and you will find it here; http://gamblewriter.webs.com/caves.htm

We will never agree but, as in the Duke, Reagan, Hope and Crosby…I question if you are nouveau- riche and, like they were, insecure in your ability to keep your new found wealth….?? However, I am not a bitter soul. Though not anywhere close to wealthy, I have enjoyed great wealth in all aspects of my life! I wish you the same!

Gary Zimmer

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous and Gary, inhumane is not correct in the least bit. I have no second thoughts at all about giving back what I can, and I do. That's why charities exist. That's a main function of most Churches. I even go so far as to volunteer my time with these charity and church programs. But the main difference between these charities and the government is that the charities try to lift people up. The give you a crutch and the confidence to go out and make yourself, whilst the government is an endless cycle of handouts, bailouts, you name it, all in the name of "caring". These create dependancy on the government and perpetuate a cycle of poverty and a lack of skills to better yourself.

I'm a little more cynical than to believe that this bill is for the sake of the people. And I think if you took a close look, you'd agree that this is not a good plan to follow. I look at states that have a similar system, Massachussets, New York, Cali, and they are or are going broke, people are leaving the states in droves and the governments are seriously mismanaged (that's what happens when they get too big, corruption and mismanagement). I am not arguing that we should keep the system as is, and never have, but why on God's green earth can't we discuss all options or all different ideas? If this is so great why can't it pass on it's own merit? Why does Harry Reid have to cut deals in secret? I thought this was an open debate? This bill does not create "choice" or "competition" and you are drinking the Kool-aid if you think it does. There are a lot of market based ideas that would cost nothing for the government and could do just as much. Why are we so focused on a 2,000 page government takeover? Dependancy on the government, my friends. That's what politicians want. And I am by no means a conspiracy theorist.

As far as the number of uninsured, Obama uses 30mm in his speeches. I deducted 10mm people as my estimate of those that can afford insurance but choose not to buy it.

http://article.nationalreview.com/print/?q=NTQxNjQ0YzJjMThlMmJmNzFiZmY4MDI2Yjc2MzNkOWQ=

I suspect you'll find something wrong in the above site, but it is a little more scientific than I was and presents some good ideas.

And to your point "what opportunity does a poor kid have whose parents can't afford to send him to college, if they're even still alive and not desperately in need of the kid's immediate income?" I will grant you that this is a difficult situation. I am in fact only the second generation of my family to go to college, and I am blessed for that chance no question. But, there are also many scholarships, grants, state programs and many small affordable colleges that are within reach. My father worked through high school, I worked through high school, it's certainly attainable though not easy.

Gary, the rich did not get there by screwing someone else. Bill Gates didn't screw you and I by creating Windows. Warren Buffett didn't get to where he is by keeping us down. If you're alluding to competition, then of course, the world is competitive.

I'm not a kool-aid drinking Bush follower. I don't know why you insist on injecting Bush or the war. I don't love war, nor do I want to stay in the Middle East forever. War is not a "right" guaranteed us nor really even comparable to what I was saying. I'd be the happiest man around if war were eradicated from existence, but it's not.

I don't profess to be a great debator or orator. I can certainly be a bit sporadic in my thoughts, but inhumane is flat wrong. Our definitions of "help" greatly differ. I'd rather help someone succeed themselves than just give them a check every month. I'd rather expand freedom and ingenuity than governmental control. Charities, churches, etc. there are all sorts of people who voluntarily donate their time. I think you misjudge America greatly and it's a shame, we are not a "stupid" country (as Bill Maher would like to say). Certainly some need more encouragement or more of a crutch, but we are all capable human beings.

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary, I do enjoy wealth in all of my life and I am glad you do as well. I wish all the best. Below is something I just googled up discussing the zero sum theory. It's well written and an interesting piece.

http://www.promethea.org/Misc_Compositions/PrometheanCapitalism/Zero-Sum.html

7:00 AM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

That piece re Capitalism not being a zero-sum game is only partially correct. It's not a zero-sum game. But it's a NEARLY zero-sum game, and that distinction is very important, and totally ignored by the linked piece. There is only, at any given time, so much money in the world. There's a measure for tracking money supply. If someone is getting very wealthy, inevitably, someone is getting poorer, even as the overall money supply grows. And as the money supply grows, the value of that poor's money drops dramatically.

It's an interesting argument, but doesn't work in real life.

And there has been a stealing from the poorer countries in ways not immediately visible. When the US/CIA installed dictators in third world countries, one of the first casualties was education, thus robbing future generations in that country from achieving the kind of wealth first-world citizens enjoy, thanks to their education.

I wish those who think the free market is so great would go live in societies that have a free market, and see how corruption and mobs rule the day. Government has an important balancing role to play. The solution is never more or less government. It's always BETTER government.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous--Though I disagree with your viewpoints, I believe they are those of an honest man. So far, so good....

Please answer this one question. If Social Security was a bill being debated and was before the Senate for consideration, would you be in favor of it?

Thanks!

Gary Zimmer (did you read the 'caves' piece?)

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Gary Zimmer said...

The last post was not from 'Anonymous'...it should have read 'Gary Zimmer'....

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Gary, I did read the caves piece. Interesting, though frankly a foreign concept to me. I know a few wealthy people, but I've never really seen or noticed that kind of behavior or attitude. Everyone I know would respect Clark's working hard and would reward it. I think you may be too focused on the inheritance itself. Inheriting money from your parent's or family's hard work isn't the evil, it's what you do with it. Do you become a productive member of society and use that wealth to create jobs, products etc. or do you squander it and become a drain on everyone? That would be more what I focused on.

And Lisa, in fact that was not ignored, the main point of the article was about the subjectivity of wealth. Dollars or physical monies are only a piece. Even so, Bill Gates doesn't have $50 billion dollars sitting under his mattress. He uses that money to invest, give away to charity, or keep in the bank. All three of those things create wealth for others as much as for him. Investment creates companies, jobs, products. The bank doesn't just keep your money in its vault, they take that money and make loans. And charity is obvious.

And related to that, the money supply; it has in fact constantly increased over the past century (longer really), the monetary base has increased nearly 200% in the past two years alone! And while inflation can be a serious worry, as long as productivity and innovation continue to increase along with the supply year over year, it isn't something we should fret about.

And I couldn't agree more about better government (I also think less is better, but I'm sure you guessed that!) Government certainly has a role to play in a free market economy I wouldn't argue that at all (I'm not an anarchist!). Although I don't know where you got the corruption and mob rule idea. It is extraordinarily naive to think government is any less corrupt or "mob rulish" than private citizens ($600bn in medicare fraud or what did we hear?? Rangel? DeLay? Murtha? and that is an extraordinarily short list). Sadly there are bad and dishonest people everywhere, under any system. But when you've got an enormous government, there's a lot more opportunity for those types to abuse power and unfortunately they are not held accountable for their actions. These bad people are also a large part in why well intentioned socialist programs go wrong in practice. They are why the USSR failed, and why Russia has a poor population controlled by politically connected oligarchs(Mob rule?). That sort of power attracts those that seek that sort of power and it isn't for altruism...That's why after having a king, our founders went with limited government and freedom. The less power government wields, the more power we the people have. Now that is a zero sum game.

"a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." - Tom Jefferson. Pretty wise words.

-Anonymous

3:45 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

I disagree that the concept of wealth is all that subjective. Sure - there are varying degrees of wealth, but not to a degree that makes it relevant to this discussion. In fact, that's part of the problem, presuming that some could, and therefore should, be happy with less than someone else.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

And as someone who has worked in both government and nongovernment jobs, I can assure you the waste, fraud, incompetence, and competence, are the SAME. It's all about people, not whether they are paid by the government or private enterprise. Because even private enterprises don't do everything because of the bottom line. People do things that enhance their personal prestige in both roles, to the detriment, sometimes, of their respective employers.

I think any of these so-called 'rules' that good government must necessarily be small, or that private enterprise will always outperform public enterprise, are provably, factually INCORRECT. Aside from my personal, anecdotal experience, I read some studies years ago that showed in fact that government was often MORE efficient than private enterprise simply due to the lack of resources yet the enormity of the tasks that needed to get done.

Your beliefs are just that - beliefs, not facts. And I'm only interested in discussing facts, not theories, at this point.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

And one last point re this. You say wealth goes back into the system, creating jobs.

I call BS on this too. Reagan and Bush collectively gave us nearly 20 years of trickle-down economics. And the rich (provably) got richer and the poor (provably) got poorer. See the book "America: What Went Wrong" for a long, detailed discussion, with tons of data, on this phenomena.

The only time in the history of this country that trend was reversed was when Roosevelt taxed the heck out of the rich and did what the rich weren't doing with that - creating WELL PAYING jobs at LIVABLE wages. Where the rich took their money and invested in impoverished countries, paying people pennies a day to produce goods that here in America would have cost dollars an hour. Roosevelt took that money and made jobs here at home.

That's the fact. That's what worked. Trickle down ecomonics just means the rich pee on the poor.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Gary Zimmer said...

Anonymous--I'll repeat the question.

Anonymous--Though I disagree with your viewpoints, I believe they are those of an honest man. So far, so good....

Please answer this one question.

If Social Security was a bill being debated and was before the Senate for consideration, would you be in favor of it?

Thanks!

Gary Zimmer

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa, you are correct. Fraud is fraud, wherever it is and it is always wrong. The only difference is that at a corporation, you are immediately fired if not arrested and put into jail. Whereas for example, Mr. Rangel continues to chair the Ways and Means Committee whilst his "investigation" drags on and on. That's just one example, and it goes for both sides.

As far as beliefs vs. facts, nothing you've said is "fact." It is hard to settle on "facts" during this kind of debate, that's exactly why we have it and why we have differing views.

And for poor getting poorer, rich getting richer, that is a bit of a stretch. Are you saying that the poor today are worse off than they were in 1900? No, not a chance. I think you're referring to the wage gap, in other words the % growth in wages. There are a lot of reasons for gaps, and a lot of reasons that numbers are debatable. I.e. the graphs you've most likely seen use "Adjusted Gross Income" in the denominator rather than total income. That adjusted number is taken from tax returns and excludes IRAs, 401Ks, any other non taxable accounts, as well as food stamps, unemployment benefits, social security etc. which are also forms of income (and you'd be surprised at how big that number is). Thus giving a bias towards the high earners. This is one example of many, there are a lot of studies in this area, and many books with contrary views to those of the book you suggested. I think you enjoyed the book because it coincided with your preconceived notions, but I would recommend looking at everything.

But to calm you, I do wish to see that gap tighten, I'm not heartless. The only difference is I'd like the poor to move up, instead of forcing the wealthy down.

And Gary, the very simple answer is, yes. To be honest, I don't actually know much about social security, but I think it would be better if it were privatized, and if it actually held assets with our money rather than a large unfunded liability. Personally I don't feel that the government needs to save for us for our retirement. I believe anyone in the country should be able to manage their own "wealth." And I think people would and are capable of it if they had to. Though I am actually in favor of temporary unemployment benefits for the poor seeking work. I stress, temporary and seeking work. But that is a piece I am strongly in favor of.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

The poor can't move up unless and until the rich move down. That's the problem. No, it's not a zero sum game. But that's nearly irrelevant, as there is a direct factual correlation.

The only time the poor gained ground was when greed was literally taxed out of the rich. There was no point in making another billion when the upper tax bracket was 95% at the highest levels - you might as well pay workers more - you'd lose nearly all of it in taxes yourself.

And how many cars will one rich person buy? Is it better for the economy to sell one million dollar car? Or 50 20,000 cars?

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Gary Zimmer said...

Once again, Anonymous, you need to look within. Your following quote seems slightly disdainful of certain elements of our society.

"I believe anyone in the country should be able to manage their own "wealth." And I think people would and are capable of it if they had to."

We are in possession of greater technology with which to scrape the bodies from sidewalks and streets, having improved that ability since the time of the plague written about in Pepys diary. Without Social Security and 'forced savings' one could be amused by watching the bodies fall to the pavement, one upon another.

My brother has two qualities that, while not unique to him, are unique to a segment of our society. He is 'slow', does not read or write but, to his credit, he has been employed throughout his adult life. He lives today on a small pension and minimal Social Security having turned sixty-five a couple of years ago. He is not a sophisticated man in any sense of the word. He would be homeless without his small pension. And he would be without that small pension if I had not made an all important phone call to the Union that he had belonged to over the years. They would not have sought him out to give him his pension and he did not have the mental wherewithal to seek them out (he had not worked under this union in his last employable years, resulting in 'no contact'.) Multiply my brother by millions because there are millions of others out there either incapable of managing their own finances or lacking the discipline to manage them. By your system, you would be willing to walk around their bodies because the streets and sidewalks would be abundantly sprinkled with them.

We owe those less fortunate than ourselves something other than indifference. I agree that their are other segments of our society that deserve to be left to their own devices, but not those with mild mental issues (institutions likely house the more severe cases), people with limiting physical problems...

Cerebral discussion of trickle down economy, Keynsian theory, supply side.....all of that is lofty stuff but without the human element of compassion we simply become predator and prey....

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary lost any credibility towards the end. Disagree if you want to. Be decent. I will skip anything with Garys name on it. Countrisquire.

5:04 PM  

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