Liberals Fail Econ 101

Wall Street Journal: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

It’s hard to do any serious research into the differences  between liberals and conservatives (and other political types) because everyone has such a vested interest in trying to game the answers to make their side look better.  Still, people keep trying, and every now and then an article catches my eye because it either sheds new light on the differences or directly addresses a longstanding preconception.

This is one of those articles.

When it comes to understanding economics, there’s a huge gulf between libertarians/conservatives and liberals/progressives:

Consider one of the economic propositions in the December 2008 poll: “Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.” People were asked if they: 1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure.

Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical.

In this case, percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6% and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly.

It’s worth noting that Daniel Klein uses a slightly modified way of “grading” the answers:

Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened.

Instead of measuring “Who gets it?” we’re measuring “Who’s completely clueless?”  This is probably a better measurement when polling the general public because most likely very few people get it, and so looking only for the right answers would obfuscate important differences.  It’s also easier to identify answers that are flat-out wrong than answers that are arguably right because the questions can’t  be phrased technically enough to have objectively true/false answers and still be comprehensible to the general public.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Can you balance a checkbook, and run a household?
    Yes, you are smarter than the government, and a 5th grader.

  2. TNelson says:

    Well of course what you point out would be the case for Liberals! This must be the way they think:

    If a restriction is put on housing development and the price of housing goes up, the government will give a subsidy to those people negatively affected by the increase so those people will in fact pay less than before the restriction was put into place. People who are not ‘negatively’ affected (they are all rich Republicans of course, they can absorb the increase) by the price increase will not get a subsidy, and the increased revenues generated due to the restriction will, of course, offset the subsidy for those who could not afford it.

    So in the end, restrictions to housing development make housing more affordable! If you can afford the increase, you don’t count. Kind of like the tree that falls that no one hears.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I could see myself going for TRUE redistribution and equalization of wealth….. picture EVERYONE making the exact same salary….. Obama, Andy Stern, Michael Moore, Tom Cruise, Bill Mahr, the fast food drive thru window people, you, me, Bill Gates, and of course, George Soros…… THAT WOULD BE SWEET.

    ha ha ha ha ha they think we are so stupid

  4. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of failing,
    here is why Canada, quoting, ‘sucks’.

    http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/41687/

    and we wanna model after Canada? I don’t think so.

  5. John Buyon says:

    your article is exactly why I wish for the republicans to become social liberals so that they can become the majority party.
    democrats don’t usually understand econ and republicans are political disgusting not to mention socially idiotic

  6. Anonymous says:

    9:15 I didn’t know there were fiscally conservative Canadians!

  7. Dr Kildare says:

    “socially idiotic” (9:15)

    Is not sucking the brains out of a baby half out the womb, socially idiotic?

  8. Pot/Kettle says:

    “political disgusting” (9:15)

    Yeh, we don’t have the class of Barney Frank, or Mr Weiner.

  9. Obama pulling on the wrong Jenga block says:

    Ready yourselves for the 2011 crash people

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704113504575264513748386610.html

    Obama is placing a 12 gauge into the mouth of America.

  10. William A. Rose says:

    @ 1406 (2:06 pm) – Excellent article. Thanks.

  11. John Buyon says:

    I am not fiscally conservative in the american sense I would like to call myself a socialist with brains ie. social democrat
    I’d like to point out it is the much more socialist country Canada that has run up budget surplus’s for the past 5 years not the crony capitalist USA
    and BTW
    Republicans don’t understand economics anymore:
    government run health care is 3 times cheaper and slightly higher quality plus much more generous and everyone is covered.
    yet for some reason we are supposed to fear this?

  12. Robert Wallace says:

    John,

    “I would like to call myself a socialist with brains”

    You left yourself wide open on that one, but I’m going to let it pass.

    “I’d like to point out it is the much more socialist country Canada that has run up budget surplus’s for the past 5 years not the crony capitalist USA”

    Really? You think the argument of budgets helps your side? Even the NYT realizes that the entire monolithic shrine to socialist democracy that is Western Europe is teetering whole-sale on the brink of destruction. Meanwhile in Canada the support for their socialized medicine has plummeted and the private carriers are coming back, and finally in the US our budget woes are due entirely to the brainiest progressive ever to take office and Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

    “government run health care is 3 times cheaper and slightly higher quality plus much more generous and everyone is covered.”

    I’d love to see some cites for these claims, but once again the facts don’t remotely bear you out. From Canada to the UK, socialized medicine is an abject failure. There are some bright-spots in Nordic countries, but it’s extremely important that the most culturally similar countries to the US have had the worst experiences with socialized medicine. And the problem isn’t primarily cost – although the NHS has never been remotely close to in-budget – it’s access to care.

    Socialized medicine means everyone has access in theory, but get ready for extended waiting periods, doctor shortages, deplorable standards of care, and 2nd rate procedures.

    I’m sorry to say that your two attempts to defend your position have me seriously questioning whether or not you’re trying to help or hurt your own purported “side”.

  13. John Bought-in says:

    “I’d like to point out it is the much more socialist country Canada that has run up budget surplus’s for the past 5 years not the crony capitalist USA”

    You’re welcome to get your Obama-target (ass) out of the USA.
    We’re broke because we are carrying so much dead weight. (socialism)

  14. John Buyon says:

    Buddy I am living in Canada right now everyone loves the care system and the few who don’t like it, don’t use it, can get tax credits to go to private clinics. it’s called competition…

    At least 15.3% of the population is completely uninsured,[1][2][3] and a substantial additional portion of the population (35%) is “underinsured”, or not able to cover the costs of their medical needs.[4][5] More money per person is spent on health care in the United States than in any other nation in the world,[6][7] and a greater percentage of total income in the nation is spent on health care in the U.S. than in any United Nations member state except for East Timor.[7] Despite the fact that not all citizens are covered, the United States has the third highest public healthcare expenditure per capita.[8][9] A 2001 study in five states found that medical debt contributed to 62% of all personal bankruptcies.[10] Since then, health costs and the numbers of uninsured and underinsured have increased.[11]

    you can not blame the democrats for spending lots of money that is their election platform it isn’t evil or dishonest of them for spending like drunk sailors it is what they promise to do.

    the republicans-conservatives however promise to
    strengthen military- and they deliver forever wars.
    bring back moral order and integrity- scandals of 2006
    “conserve” civil liberties- PATRIOT ACT
    “conserve” our money- deficits

  15. Robert Wallace says:

    John-

    Your defense of the Canadian system is extremely problematic. Let’s start out talking about this “coverage” idea. Legal coverage is like fiat currency: it’s only worth what you can exchange it for. If I give you a $10 bill that’s worth something. If I write “ten dollurs” on a piece of paper with a green crayon and hand it to you it’s not worth anything. Not even if I add: “This is reelly reel monies”.

    Same idea goes for coverage under socialized medicine. Sure, on paper you’ve got medical coverage, but with a shortage of doctor and waiting lists miles long it’s worth about as much as my crayon-money would be. Which is to say: nothing.

    So don’t tell me about how many Americans or Canadians are covered. Tell me something about the average life-expectency for a Canadian vs. an American when diagnosed with the same disease. Spoiler alert: America kicks ass. From cancer to heart disease no country offers state of the art coverage like the US.

    Which brings us to the second issue: cost. Hell yes, healthcare is expensive in the US. It’s one of those things where you get what you pay for. This is why people who can afford it generally come to the US for treatment. Sort of like the Canadian Prime Minister recently did.

    There are a lot of things we can do to lower costs, but they break down into two basic camps:
    1. we can lower costs through rationing
    2. we can lower costs through increased efficiency

    Socialized programs try for #2, but invariably end up with #1. Free-market reforms (e.g. HSAs tied to high-deductible, catastrophic coverage) and interstate competition would lead to #2.

    “you can not blame the democrats for spending lots of money that is their election platform it isn’t evil or dishonest of them for spending like drunk sailors it is what they promise to do. ”

    I get what you’re saying, but it’s not like I’d be thrilled to have drunken sailors in charge of my healthcare. Although, frankly, they’d honestly do less damage than the Democrats.

    “the republicans-conservatives however promise to”

    :shrug: You’re mostly preaching to the choir here, buddy. How many AR readers do you really think are die-hard GOPers? How many do you think are satisfied with current conservative leadership? The reason conservatives/libertarians are on the move is that the GOP/conservative leadership has spectacularly failed.

  16. Robert Wallace says:

    John-

    Another word on costs: how much cutting edge medical research goes on in countries outside the US? Part of what our healthcare costs pay for is not only our final-good healthcare goods and services, but the intermediate good R&D that not only the US, but the whole world benefits from.

    In short: part of the reason the US costs are so high is that we’re subsidizing healthcare everywhere else. I have no idea how much of a factor this is – and I doubt it’s significant – but it’s worth pointing out.

  17. John Buyon says:

    @ Robert
    the wait times in Canada are equal to or a little bit longer than the USA, I know from experience I have family in both USA Britain and friends in France. the wait times are very marginally longer because yes it is gasp ! rationed
    but it doesn’t mean it is lower quality, besides who rations care now? insurance company bureaucrats who are not elected by you. under nationalized health care the government runs it and is much more sensitive to the demands of the people than the insurance companies.

    your point about coverage being fiat is just funny. it is the LAW of the land that the government Must provide basic care to everyone no matter what, it can’t skimp away from that.
    under socialized care the state has more control over doctors which means it could recruit an army of general practitioners rather than a few specialist. and since basic care is free and always available the vulnerable can be diagnosed and treated quicker before the sickness spreads.

    And I know the government isn’t a model of efficiency especially when it comes to economics BUT the private sector has so catastrophically failed in the US that someone else needs to step in.

    “average life-expectency for a Canadian vs. an American when diagnosed with the same disease. Spoiler alert: America kicks ass. From cancer to heart disease .”

    this is only true because under social care everyone has to be treated. in Canada this means that people from lower socio economic backgrounds get treated as well and because of unrelated complications bring the average for Canadians down. But if you compare Canadians and Americans of same socio-economic background you see that Canadians are better.

    “no country offers state of the art coverage like the US”
    once again those fortunate enough can go to private clinics if they believe it to be better than the government system.

    the only legitimate non-talking point that you have is the effect social care would have on R&D
    true that the US does subsidize the world with it’s medical innovations.
    But think about it for a second who makes these breakthroughs? Pharma companies, private charities, government research corporations, Universities.
    None of which are the useless insurance companies. The medical insurance sector is economically a dead weight.
    Socialized care would increase the market for those life saving drugs making it more profitable for them to be developed.

    besides everything already said the problem is COST!!!! which The US has the most but gets the least, doesn’t that seem a bit fishy to you?

    in conclusion my friend you can only be Ideologically opposed to socialized care in reality it is a huge benefit.
    and besides all you got in the states is half assed insurance reform NOT socialized care, or even more EVIL Universal Care!!!!!

    in my view the tea party is making right wing even more retarded not a “big tent” but a screaming minority shrieking one liners in the distance.

  18. Robert Wallace says:

    John-

    If you’re really studying economics then you will know that any statement about Canadian vs. US healthcare based on your friends and family is irrelevant. For some more rigorous analysis, I suggest the CATO institute’s “5 Myths of Socialized Medicine”: http://www.cato.org/pubs/catosletter/catosletterv3n1.pdf

    “your point about coverage being fiat is just funny. it is the LAW of the land that the government Must provide basic care to everyone no matter what, it can’t skimp away from that.”

    If Canada passed a law that gravity would only work at 1/2 power on Tuesday afternoons would you feel happy jumping off a building with an umbrella for a parachute? It doesn’t matter what the “LAW of the land” is. Not even if you capitalize it. If there aren’t enough doctors, nurses, beds, drugs, etc then there will not be enough healthcare. Period. The free market and pricing mechanisms are an incredibly efficient method of allocating scarce resources. Without that mechanism you’re in for trouble. Specifically: as gov’t mandates lower costs, nurses and doctors exit the profession. The lack of medical professionals is a leading cause of the horrendous health outcomes in the UK and Canada. And no amount of “LAW” will treat your diabetes or mend your broken bone. Doctors do that. Not “LAW”. It’s a bit sad that you find this obvious truth “just funny”.

    “but it doesn’t mean it is lower quality, besides who rations care now?”

    Care is not rationed. The idea that insurance bureaucrats ration healthcare just illustrates that you don’t understand what the word “ration” means. As a budding economist you should get on that. There’s a big difference between “I can’t afford X” and “the government has rationed X”.

    “And I know the government isn’t a model of efficiency especially when it comes to economics BUT the private sector has so catastrophically failed in the US that someone else needs to step in.”

    Please cite evidence of this “catastrophic failure”. The system isn’t perfect. No one thinks that. But I’d love to see evidence that it has “catastrophically” failed.

    “this is only true because under social care everyone has to be treated. in Canada this means that people from lower socio economic backgrounds get treated as well and because of unrelated complications bring the average for Canadians down. But if you compare Canadians and Americans of same socio-economic background you see that Canadians are better.”

    First of all: it’s *not* true that “everyone has to be treated”. Not only is this not true, but you admitted that it wasn’t true in a previous paragraph. In Canada healthcare is rationed. This means people have access to the system, but they don’t have a right to any specific treatment. This is a critical distinction, and it’s a big red-flag that you don’t get it.

    Secondly: if what you say were true (that in Canada the LAW says everyone has to be treated all the time, which it doesn’t, and that this means that everyone will be treated all the time, which it doesn’t) then this would only mean longer life survival time in Canada, not shorter. Because your system would be catching more people earlier and this automatically leads to longer survival times even with treatment that’s no better. And yet the outcome is the exact opposite of what you predict. Which means either Canada fails to find the cancer earlier (so much for preventive medicine) or it does find them earlier but refuses to treat them, or it does find them earlier and treats them extremely poorly. Or some combination of all three. But no matter how you slice it, there’s no victory for Canada.

    “once again those fortunate enough can go to private clinics if they believe it to be better than the government system.”

    Ever read a newspaper? When Canadian need top-flight care they don’t go to private Canadian clinics. They go to American ones. The notion that you can have healthy private sector side-by-side with a public one is pretty silly. In practice, you can’t. In theory – if you could – you would only succeed in creating class-based healthcare where all the haves get top-flight treatment and all the have-nots get the scraps. This is much *less* equitable then a single private-system for all.

    ” The medical insurance sector is economically a dead weight.”

    Again – as a budding economist – you would understand the concept of von neumann utility maximization, risk aversion, and risk premiums. These explain the existence of not only health insurance, but all forms of insurance. The problem with American healthcare isn’t that we’ve got insurance companies. It’s that we don’t. The current “insurance companies” do not only offer insurance. They over access to closed-networks with discounts of 50% or more over the sticker price and are, in effect, little monopolies. *That* is the problem with healthcare in the US. Not insurance.

    Just think about it for a second. Do you get car insurance so that you can get 50% off your oil changes in a select network of approved mechanics? Or do you get care insurance so that if someone wrecks your care you get a new one? (I’m ignoring liability insurance to make this simpler.) That’s what insurance is: you pay a flat rate and are covered from *random* claims. Oil changes aren’t random. Neither are routine MD visits. Which is why they are called “routine”. So offering co-pays and co-insurance has *NOTHING* to do with “insurance”. It’s a completely different business model.

    When insurance companies start to get back to insurance business models – as with HSAs – we see much better outcomes. Costs rise more slowly, people use the care more effectively, premiums go down, and you still have coverage for truly random, catastrophic events (like car accidents).

    “The US has the most but gets the least, doesn’t that seem a bit fishy to you?”

    Not at all. The problem with health outcomes in the US is not healthcare. It’s lifestyle. Americans are fat and lazy. We get heart disease and diabetes at exorbitant rates. And then we go to the doctor and take scads of drugs to fix our overeating and sedentary lifestyles.

    Other than our state-of-the-art care, this is the main reason American health care is so expensive: We use it a lot.

    For crying out loud, have you done *ANY* research? Go look at a map of obesity rates in the United States starting back in the 1970s and rolling forward to today, then tell me if you think it’s “fishy” that we spend a lot on healthcare and still have lower life expectancies than other nations. We’re all fatty-fat-fat-fatties. And you can’t fix that with any kind of a healthcare system.

    “in conclusion my friend you can only be Ideologically opposed to socialized care in reality it is a huge benefit.”

    Yeah. It’s either that or the fact that I’m a PhD economics student with years of experience in the healthcare industry. Whichever seems like a better fit to you, I guess.

    “in my view the tea party is making right wing even more retarded not a “big tent” but a screaming minority shrieking one liners in the distance.”

    Honestly, given the staggering ignorance you’ve displayed in your posts on this topic, that’s a compliment. If we were impressing someone who had such a frail grasp of the economics of healthcare I’d be truly concerned.

  19. Robert Wallace says:

    Here’s a convenient, animated map of obesity rates in the US put out by the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html

    Keep that in mind when considering health outcomes and costs of the US healthcare system.

  20. John Buyon says:

    @ my dear friend Robert
    finally a right winger with some brains to debate. take that as a compliment there aren’t many of you left.

    regarding CATO
    1. right to healthcare : I don’t believe in a right to healthcare but since the government does it better it is a good idea. however legal scholars have defined positive rights and an argument could be made for societal obligations to the individual. it is time to evolve our understanding of liberty away from negative towards positive. But I won’t debate this with you because I don’t understand Law well.
    2. the american system of care is more capital intensive because it is not preventative, that is why you have a higher use for high tech care.
    3. less Americans that are diagnosed with so and so disease die. the key word is diagnosed many Americans don’t get to see a doctor for 5-10 years.
    access is crucial as evidenced spectacularly by the Liberal organized free healthcare stadiums
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/6030211/Briton-providing-free-healthcare-to-thousands-of-Americans.html
    http://www.today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/ucla-volunteers-bring-free-medical-157687.aspx

    read those stories and tell me that America has the best health care in the world. stop living in a fantasy world financed by insurance company money. the British surgeon said that he hasn’t seen such poor healthcare in his life and he has worked in 3rd world countries. America is being destroyed by ultra-conservatism.
    4. dont give me equal access you have to defend the stauts quo of the millions of uninsured and underinsured.
    5. “red tape” how can there even exist red tape in a socialized system? the absurdity is awe-inspiring. all you need in my home province of BC is a care-card 10 minutes for the clerk to enter the info and that is all.
    you have to go through law books of insurance company regulations before you get the care you need in the US.
    6. Capitalism is missing. this I agree with up to a point the HSA are a good idea and the experience in cosmetic surgery has proven that a true free market could bring down costs. which is why the public option would have been a godsend because it would break the backs of the private insurance monopolies.

    and besides I wouldn’t trust CATO institute as reliable when it is funded by the KOCH foundation a far right wing organization financed by some shady deals in the 1930′s
    I don’t know what you are talking about nurses and doctors are not leaving the profession in Canada. Because the government of Canada provides low interest loans and financial aid to medical students if the students promise to work in the public sector for the first 5-10 years.

    Ration: do you really think MR. Harper sends his minions to make sure I dont get heart surgery? because it is too expensive…? the care card has a limit (ie. that is all the rationing social medicine does) built into it just as the private insurance ones have. I dont know what you mean by “rationed” it isn’t a soup kitchen where you take a number from a slot and wait your turn. stop living in a fantasy FOX world.

    “catastrophic failure of the private sector” 68% of bankruptcies are medical cost related. once again you have to be on the defensive and protect the status quo. get out of the fantasy world…

    I dont think you understand what rationed care means even. we aren’t speaking of the soviet Union in the 1980′s
    ask any doctor what would he rather treat a medicare patient or a private insurance patient where he has to employ 5 secretaries to argue with the insurance co. secretaries for a 250$ bill.

    the private sector can compete with the public sector what do you call UPS?
    or backwater company and the private prisons which competes against the state?
    fantasy world and talking points again. if private business isn’t good enough to compete against state businesses than the state must be doing the job better.
    In my city I go to a private dentistry practice because the lines for public practices are too long. it doesn’t cost a fortune because the public service puts downward pressure on the private practice due to increased competition.

    I ask you this what do insurance companies bring to the health care system of the United states?
    we already know that the R&D is not them
    the doctors hate the insurance companies
    the patients hate it too
    hospitals hate them too

    why do you defend the interests of big business when they are antithetical to your own?
    blinded by ideology?
    sometimes arguing with right wingers makes me more left wing.

  21. Robert Wallace says:

    John-

    “1. right to healthcare”

    You still aren’t even understanding the points here, John. First of all: even if you have a legal right to healthcare that doesn’t mean you can actually be treated. Laws don’t set broken bones. Doctors do. This is important because governments control costs through price-controls. Price controls don’t work. You can tell they don’t work because Canada has to subsidize doctors. This is just a shell-game with public money, and you are falling for it. That means the true cost of Canada’s healthcare system is the cost of the healthcare system + all the subsidies they have to pay to doctors and nurses in order to artificially inflate the supply. It’s an accounting gimmick.

    Sooner or later the system will come crashing down for exactly the same reasons that the USSR fell apart, that China moved to capitalism, and that North Koreans are starving to death: command economies fail.

    Secondly, even the legal right to healthcare doesn’t translate to a right to any specific good or service. You have a right to be seen under the rules of the system, but you don’t have a right to set those rules. This is what rationing means. It means you get cancer and they put your age, sex, whatever into a table and it tells you whether or not you are allowed to be treated. And if you aren’t: too bad. You’re “right” to healthcare is a legal fiction.

    Sure, sure. You can run to the private sector. If you can afford it. Which makes socialized medicine *worse* than private medicine because the economy writ large is going to be suffering under the burden of all those costs (e.g. the subsidies to doctors and nurses to keep them practicing) so that people are less affluent and less likely to afford private care. Meanwhile the private sector will be anemic and unable to benefit from economies of scale, keeping relative prices high.

    The long story short is this: Socialized medicine promises what it can’t deliver. They promise you access to healthcare, and you’re naive enough to think that means access to a good or service. It doesn’t. They “cut costs” through price controls, which results in either:
    1. supply shortages
    2. hidden subsidies to keep supply high that you’re gullible enough not to count in the total cost of health care

    “2. the american system of care is more capital intensive because it is not preventative, that is why you have a higher use for high tech care.”

    This only highlights the absolute lack of research you’ve done. In the vast majority of actual economic studies, preventative medicine *INCREASES* costs. This isn’t rocket science if you think about it. If you don’t have preventative medicine then people don’t catch major diseases until they are very well developed. And then they die quickly.

    If you do have lots of preventative medicine then you have to pay for:
    1. the screening tests
    2. additional tests for those that test positive to the screening test (most of whom will likely be false positives)
    3. treatment for the people you catch

    Now, since you caught them earlier, they will live longer. Some might recover, but many will simply die a lot slower. In either case, you are going to pay more money on the people you catch on top of more money for the false positives on top of more money for the initial screening tests.

    In short: preventative medicine is *more* expensive.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Saving lives is a good thing. But pretending that it’s a cost-savings measure is a fairytale. This isn’t conservative ideology. This is research. Here, this is what it looks like: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/358/7/661

    Worth pointing out: the savings from “prevention” are *ALL* related to lifestyle. Stop smoking. Exercise. Eat better. And less. Those steps can save *TREMENDOUS* amounts of money, but they aren’t related to healthcare.

    “3. less Americans that are diagnosed with so and so disease die. the key word is diagnosed many Americans don’t get to see a doctor for 5-10 years”

    Think it through, John. If you put off going to the MD until your cancer has reached terminal stage what will the time between diagnosis and death be? Very, very small. Your own argument works against you. I pointed this out in my last post, but I guess I didn’t make it clear enough.

    The fact that Americans supposedly delay testing so long should make our survival time SHORTER, not LONGER.

    You’re going to have to come up with a different fairytale to preserve your ideology. Or, you know, you could do some research.

    “4. dont give me equal access you have to defend the stauts quo of the millions of uninsured and underinsured.”

    This is called a red-herring. I explained at length the problems I have with the current American health care system, and believe me there’s more where that came from. I *don’t* have to defend the status quo because the status quo sucks. And if you had a real case yourself you wouldn’t have to try such cheap tricks to defend your position.

    How about you debate my real position instead of trying to foist off a convenient straw man on me?

    “5. “red tape” how can there even exist red tape in a socialized system?”

    LOL.

    “6. Capitalism is missing… which is why the public option would have been a godsend because it would break the backs of the private insurance monopolies.”

    Capitalism is missing, and so we should get more capitalism by replacing a bunch of small monopolies with one giant monopoly? Seriously? That’s your argument?

    You sort of ran out of numbers at this point, but I’ll supply them for you going forward:

    “7. “catastrophic failure of the private sector” 68% of bankruptcies are medical cost related. once again you have to be on the defensive and protect the status quo. get out of the fantasy world…”

    Reread response to #4. Read it slowly. Let it sink in. If you try to debate me based on the premise that I have to defend the status quo you have failed before you have started.

    “8. I dont think you understand what rationed care means even. we aren’t speaking of the soviet Union in the 1980’s
    ask any doctor what would he rather treat a medicare patient or a private insurance patient where he has to employ 5 secretaries to argue with the insurance co. secretaries for a 250$ bill.”

    This is another LOL moment. How many doctors do you even know? Any? Because I know quite a few, and let met tell you NO ONE LIKES MEDICARE. I mean, I guess you’re the guy who doesn’t get that governments involve red tape so maybe you’ve just never worked with a government. I don’t know. But in the US medicare is in crisis because of how much people *hate* to deal with it, and a lot of MDs simply refuse to take it. So… yeah. Good luck with that.

    “In my city I go to a private dentistry practice because the lines for public practices are too long. it doesn’t cost a fortune because the public service puts downward pressure on the private practice due to increased competition.”

    Flawed analysis. The government does put downward pressure on private industries, but the government also has the power to tax. And it has the power to hide the true costs from people (which is clearly working on you). Which means that the government can “compete” with private care, or it can just run it out of business. Because the gov’t can just raise everyone’s taxes to fund state healthcare, but private business can’t do that.

    Look, there will always be private care because there will always be uber-rich who can afford to pay cash. But the larger the public sector grows – with it’s unrestricted cost overruns and hidden subsidies – the more the public pays for healthcare without realizing it and the more expensive private providers have to be to survive. Until you’re miracle of “healthcare for all” becomes “crappy care that ruins our economy for most, decent care at exorbitant prices for the very rich”

    “why do you defend the interests of big business when they are antithetical to your own?
    blinded by ideology?”

    Once again: believe what you want. Either I’ve done real research, have years of experience in the medical field, and expertise in economics or I’m just “blinded”. Whatever makes you feel comfortable with your world view.

    “sometimes arguing with right wingers makes me more left wing.”

    Too bad it doesn’t seem to make you smarter.

  22. John Buyon says:

    @ Robert
    1. even with all the subsidies and all the “shell games” as you describe it with public money
    Canada spends less than USA has more coverage and better outcomes, the same number of doctors per 1000 people ( infact the more socialist care a country has the more doctors per capita) plus we have a higher satisfaction rate.
    Actually to be completely a dick with the facts command economies have a far better capability to produce better health care. Cuba a puny little poverty stricken despotism with a history of violence, degradation, military rule and sanctions still can match or beat the Americans at various indicies of health shows you the resilience of a social care model. It might be why Cuba’s main export is doctors and medical students. Think about it name one country with a successful completely private care system. Even the worst socialcare system matches the private care of the USA. that should set off a few alarms by friend.

    2. Do you honestly think that preventative care is more expensive? I am beginning to doubt that we live in the same reality. you think some Prophylactic Mastectomies cost more than for example a month long stay at the hospital, employing expensive state of the art tech to treat breast cancer? If the state controls healthcare it can bring about large Public campaigns against tobacco,marijuana, alcohol use in a way the private sector can not.

    3. Yes your survival time is shorter precisely because private sector so severly rations care that sick people can’t go early to the doctor so they have to spend 85% of all healthcare dollars on the last 2 months of life.

    4. I say that you have to defend stauts quo because conservatives job is to defend status quo and because your political fraction never takes the initiative to solve problems. as you say America is a “center right country”
    ( which is completely BS) yet for 3 decades center right leaders have sit idly by giving tax breaks for the rich and big business while wages have fallen, cost of living skyrocketed and national debt mounts.

    5. seriously is there any red tape for policing services? how about postal service? firefighters? the red tape of the system is all attributable to the legalese contracts made by the Insurance companies to confuse clients and deny payment

    6. the public option would only become a monopoly if what the leftists say is true ie. that private insurance is a sham cash sucking middleman that contributes nothing to the betterment of the ill. if what you say is true and that insurance companies and the free market is so magical that left alone they can out-compete the government in all economic fields than the public option would compete with private insurance for customers lowering prices.

    7. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112839232

    doctors dislike medicare but they also hate the private insurance schemes, but ask patients if they like medicare or not. If republicans are really against EVIL “Government run healthcare” why didn’t they repeal medicare when congressmen wiener proposed it to them. Any politician left or right that says he wants to cut curtail or end medicare has shot himself in the foot because it is a program extremely successful and popular.

    8. you point about government hiding the true cost is well taken but all you need for that to not occur is an amendment stipulating an open fixed budget that is payed for directly out of a specific tax or the program has to be self sustaining and not draw from the general funds portion of the budget.

    I am tired of debating the intricacies of it, I expected to have won this argument long ago but for some reason on this you live in another world.
    all I know is America spend more than everyone else gets less and leaves people on the street for it. now all you need to do is look around and see what others have done better than you.
    and your fat american thing is nonsense, Canadians and Brits are just as fat and infact it is the Australians that are the fattest in the world.

    I don’t even know why we are still arguing about this.
    a modicum of socialized healthcare has already happened, and I conceded long ago to the premise of your original article that conservatives understand economics better.

  23. Robert Wallace says:

    John-

    1. “Actually to be completely a dick with the facts command economies have a far better capability to produce better health care. Cuba a puny little poverty stricken despotism with a history of violence, degradation, military rule and sanctions still can match or beat the Americans at various indicies of health shows you the resilience of a social care model.”

    No, John. It shows that you don’t learn as you debate. As I pointed out earlier – and as is common knowledge in this debate – evaluating health care systems by “various indices of health” is a complete red herring because lifestyle has a much, much greater impact on most indices (e.g. life expectancy) than healthcare.

    We’ve been over this, but you haven’t updated your arguments to reflect the facts. Which, depressingly, shows either that you are incapable or uninterested in learning.

    “2. Do you honestly think that preventative care is more expensive? I am beginning to doubt that we live in the same reality.”

    Well, you’re right about one thing: we live in different realities. I’m an actual economist (on my way there, anyway) and I study the issue by reading actual articles. I also worked as a consultant in health care where my job included evaluating and criticizing rate-increases by health insurance companies. And yes – given my research and experience – most preventative care raises costs.

    It’s not rocket science. What’s more expensive, treating 1 person for a couple of months before they die, or testing 1,000 people, then re-testing 100 people, then treating 10 people for years?

    Again: you demonstrate your intellectual incapacity to learn and adapt during a debate. If you disagree with my views that’s one thing, but you aren’t even debating me at this point. You’re just restating your opinion in complete ignorance of the facts – including references – that I’ve laid out.

    “3. Yes your survival time is shorter precisely because private sector so severly rations care that sick people can’t go early to the doctor so they have to spend 85% of all healthcare dollars on the last 2 months of life.”

    Accept that it’s not shorter. It *should* be shorter (by your logic), but it’s longer. I’ve provided references. That’s my we do in my reality: we back up factual claims with evidence. Give it a try sometime.

    “5. seriously is there any red tape for policing services? how about postal service? firefighters?”

    Go take a look at our tax code sometime.

    “6. the public option would only become a monopoly if what the leftists say is true ie. that private insurance is a sham cash sucking middleman that contributes nothing to the betterment of the ill.”

    You really aren’t studying economics at all, are you? The private sector can’t charge less for a good or service than it costs. There’s a limit on how low prices can go. The government has the power to tax, and it can use that power to break the price limit and offer goods and services for cheaper than they actually cost. This is what a “subsidy” is.

    If the gov’t subsidizes public health care, then the private system won’t be able to compete even if it’s vastly superior.

    “7. doctors dislike medicare but they also hate the private insurance schemes,”

    And I agree with the doctors. Maybe I’m on to something. Your position is that we should have more medicare-like coverage. Which doctors don’t like and clearly doesn’t work. You pretend that my position is to keep things as-is because it’s the only prayer you have of looking like you have a case in this debate, but in fact I favor sweeping reforms that take us in an entirely new direction.

    Once again – if you were capable of learning as you debated you could keep up with this. But instead you’re stuck on the same track you were in the first response. Everything I’ve said has either gone way over your head, bounced off your skull, or passed in one ear and out the next.

    If I don’t see some improvement in your next reply I’m calling it quits.

    “8. you point about government hiding the true cost is well taken but all you need for that to not occur is an amendment stipulating an open fixed budget that is payed for directly out of a specific tax or the program has to be self sustaining and not draw from the general funds portion of the budget.”

    First truly good idea you’ve had. Why do you think the gov’t has no interest in doing this?

    “I am tired of debating the intricacies of it, I expected to have won this argument long ago but for some reason on this you live in another world.”

    LOL, yes. We’ve covered that. I live in a world where:
    a. people back up their claims with evidence.
    b. you try to gain some genuine expertise in a complex field before you weigh in
    c. you change and adapt your debate so that you’re actually responding to the other party and not merely repeating your talking points ad nauseum

    “all I know is America spend more than everyone else gets less and leaves people on the street for it. now all you need to do is look around and see what others have done better than you.”

    Except that:
    1. they don’t actually have better health outcomes
    2. their economies are crippled by their entitlement spending – threatening to bring down the entire Eurozone (do you ever read the news?)
    3. in those rare instances where it does work there’s no guarantee that what works in country A will work in country B because of cultural differences

    “and your fat american thing is nonsense, Canadians and Brits are just as fat and infact it is the Australians that are the fattest in the world.”

    You are completely full of it, aren’t you John? Did you even know that you can use a WHO web-app to generate these numbers on-the-fly? Here are the results:

    Obesity Rate (age: 30+, male)
    Australia; 24.3
    United Kingdom : 25.7
    United States: 37.6

    Obesity Rate (age: 30+, female)
    Australia: 29.4
    United Kingdom: 28.3
    United States: 44.7

    So – back in the reality where 44.7 > 28.3 – I’d say that you were wrong on both counts. The obesity rate is significantly higher in the US than either UK or Australia, and Australians are *definitely* not the fattest in the world.

    “I don’t even know why we are still arguing about this.
    a modicum of socialized healthcare has already happened, and I conceded long ago to the premise of your original article that conservatives understand economics better.”

    We’re still debating because nothing I’ve said his sunk in for you yet. Look, I don’t know how much more cut-and-dry it can get than the previous exchange. You made an argument (obesity has nothing to do with it) and based it on a pair of factual claims (Australians are the fattest, and Australia, the US and the UK are all about equivalent). Then I went out and got actual, real-world facts (*GASP!!!!*) and proved that your factual claims were entirely, completely, flat-out wrong.

    So… are you going to update your erroneous conclusion now that your evidence has been definitely chucked out the window?

    Or are you just going to persist in your stubborn ignorance?

    You say that you concede that liberals don’t get economics as much as conservatives, but you sure don’t act like it.

  24. Robert Wallace says:

    John-

    Oh, one more thing: Here is the link to the World Health Organization site I used to generate the numbers in the preceding post. https://apps.who.int/infobase/comparestart.aspx

  25. John Buyon says:

    testing 123′???

  26. John Buyon says:

    I am unable to comment on this i think there is some bug

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