The Abandonment Of Conservatism

In the wake of Huckabee's victory, Rush Limbaugh today began his program by saying that the result in Iowa shows how conservatives say they want candidates who share their values and then don't vote for them. Then Rush launched into another rant about how the anxieties over the economy are trumped up by the media, and that conservatives appear to be buying it.

Not only were Limbaugh's comments superficial and off the mark, but he himself is the last person who should be preaching to the middle class, much less the poor, about angst. His question shows why: what to you expect one person to do, he asked?

Here's the problem that you have and Rush doesn't, and I hope you'll forgive me for using my personal situation, but If someone would have told me when I was starting out that I would have what I have today, I'd have been thrilled and anxious to get here. Because back then, I would have considered my current situation to be well-off if not rich. But along the way, something happened and it involves inflation coupled with the loss of some factors that made America great.

Part of it is due to the two income household – people didn't understand (and it wouldn't have mattered if they did) that when one family suddenly gets two incomes, they get ahead, but when everyone does it, inflation eventually negates short-term, temporary benefits. And worse, it becomes difficult to impossible to go back. So now, both people have to work and they have even bigger debts. They're more trapped than ever.

One of the biggest issues, and more seem to be aware of it, is one I've been harping on (and getting nowhere) for years – healthcare. It's simply unconscionable that people's lives get ruined when they get sick – even if they recover. Fifty percent of bankruptcies are the result of medical bills. And when it happens later in life, there's no time or means to start over.

And if you aren't sick, you have to anticipate being so – but you can't. That is to say, you can't squirrel away enough to be sure you're OK in a crisis. So I'm OK as long as I don't get sick, but the likelihood is, somebody in the family won't be so lucky, and you both (or all) will be ruined. And this doesn't even begin to address the very real problem that even with insurance, people often run into walls when their insurance refuses to cover and pay for treatments.

So in this day and age when treatment and cures are better than ever, you find yourself praying that you never need them because if you do, life as you'd known it could be over.

And no one will help you then.

Or perhaps I should say; it will be the rare person who can get enough help to get back to where he was.

So when Rush rails against universal healthcare, he's both right and wrong. It's not only not the answer, but we don't want to substitute one misery with another, especially when relatively few people experience health catastrophes, but everyone would experience the universal healthcare catastrophe.

What Rush Limbaugh really doesn't seem to understand is that America is becoming a house of cards. Thoreau said that people lead lives of quiet desperation. Today, in the age of media, it's not so quiet. Now I've said that I don't know how people even existed before the twentieth century, but the fact is, most everyone was in the same boat. There weren't miracle cures and when you had little, you couldn't fall as far.

Today you can have a lot of things and still have nothing – or less. I mean, they won't take your DVD player in bankruptcy, but they will cut off your power and staring at a player is not nearly as enjoyable as staring at the output of a DVD.

So I think people are voting for people who, they think, strike a reasonable compromise between conservatism and compassion, and in that, with whoever they get, he (or it) is likely not to meet their expectations. Because the answer to everything (and it may not be a good one, but it is the best one available) is the free market. And the more collectivism disrupts that market, the worse things become and the harder it is to reopen the market to competition without serious implications for people who have come to rely on government for assistance.

In the area of healthcare, that means that medical savings accounts beat universal healthcare. And individual bargaining with doctors beats insurance coverage for ordinary events, but some one individual needs to stand up and demand reform and then find a way to make access to healthcare both private and universal – because every individual has worth, and no one should die in the street – or beg from it.

My whole approach is to do things that affect change without disrupting the desirable parts of what we currently have. The individual spirit remains strong, but government has become an impediment, and this is despite the fact that a Republican has led it 70% of the time over the last 28 years.That's because the Bushes are closer to Clinton than Reagan, and even Reagan was Reagan in his later years, and no current candidate has staked his claim on any meaningful reform. From what I can tell, any "solutions" they have proposed will only make matters worse.

At the end of his program, Limbaugh continued to decry the movement away from rugged individualism and toward collectivism as he tried to portray himself as no different from you and me by saying that he had the same sort of problems, as he mentioned a list of household defects such as broken doors and ant infestations. Then he added that when he has a problem, "I FIX IT!"


I'd bet my now modest estate that when Limbaugh has a problem, he has someone else fix it and that he regards that as the same as if he did it himself. But it's nothing of the kind. And he probably fixes things a lot faster simply because he doesn't do it himself. But if you called him on this, he would probably say that he once had nothing and that you too can become rich if he did, and while there is some truth to that, it's not true that everyone can become rich, and even if they could, it doesn't solve immediate needs or the fact that a lot of people will be ruined in the interim.

That's why conservatives are anxious and even demoralized, Rush. They still believe in the individual, but the rich are getting richer, and the average guy is standing still or going backward, and instead of scolding those people, Rush, you should be leading the way in both formulating and promoting new ideas for the middle class and the poor to build wealth and live with a measure of security instead of fear.

People expect setbacks, they fear ruin. They can control setbacks, they are often helpless in catastrophe – and alone. And in America today, it's become all or nothing, and no one has the time to worry about anyone but himself. Things are out of control. Liberals are primarily responsible (even if well meaning), but all conservatives do is whine about it. Like why can't I just buy the channels I want on my cable? And am I willing to cancel my cable in protest? Of course not – because YOU won't. I may be rugged, but not that rugged.

Oh jeez, now Hannity is picking up where Limbaugh left off… who educates the leaders?

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About tedwest

A longtime veteran of comedy and political forums, I decided that I needed a more restful venue because... well... I finally hate everybody. Except my wife that is... and my ex-wife.. and... no, that's about it. I lead about as simple a life as one can, preferring activities that include anything that doesn't involve going out and seeing YOU! And I particularly enjoy what I call "Get the Bitch" movies on Lifetime. You know the ones where the intended victim finally does something so incredibly stupid that she forfeits her right to live, and from that moment on you're rooting for the stalker. Of course, it rarely works out the way you want, but when it does, the feeling you get is... well, there's nothing else like it, other than, maybe, eating chocolate chip cookies. Oh, and I'm proudly anti-wildlife, both foreign and domestic, and anti-environment - especially foreign environments. I think Howard Stern put it best when he said, "If fifty percent of the population died tomorrow, I can live with that." And I feel the same about the other fifty percent, so together, we've pretty much got it all covered.
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61 Responses to The Abandonment Of Conservatism

  1. Snowy says:

    Well said. It is possible to have a mix of private and public health care as we do in Australia. No, it isn't a perfect system, but no-one is advocating the abandonment of Universal Health Care. You may be interested in the experiences of an expat American with Australia's health system here, here, and here.

  2. TedWest says:

    If you'd cited a conservative convert, that would have been more impressive. Still I must say that I found your links both interesting and educational even as I was slightly distressed that it was liberals extolling the virtues.
    I know nothing about Aussie healthcare, and I hadn't considered relocating simply for healthcare affordability – until now. So look what you may have started.
    As I read, I had mixed feelings. There were definite advantages being described, but a few negatives as well. And the whole account was quite superficial while still sufficient to provoke further interest.
    Then I thought about the state of care here and realized that no one should fear giving your system a try, though I doubt American doctors would have even a hint of altruism, and there is certainly some necessary for your system to function as it does.
    So all in all, you've expanded my thinking, and I hate you all the more for that.
    But seriously, I thank you for taking the risk.
    And I just hope none of my conservative friends see this…

  3. Please us a larger font, I can barely read it. Sending it to me in an email would be swell.

  4. TedWest says:

    I blame Vox. In fact, I was going to comment that the biggest thing I liked about the links Snowy provided was that they loaded quickly – again as compared to Vox.
    When I got the new computer, I was shocked to find that the font size varied in my posts depending on the computer I was using. That's ridiculous.
    But thanks for bringing this to my attention. I will edit it immediately – or rather within the hour since Vox edits take ten times longer to load than the new message screen does – which itself takes ten times longer than the blog page.

  5. Scio, Scio says:

    When I got the new computer, I was shocked to find that the font size varied in my posts depending on the computer I was using. That's ridiculous. I've had the same problem…weird.

  6. Snowy says:

    So all in all, you've expanded my thinking, and I hate you all the more for that.But seriously, I thank you for taking the risk.And I just hope none of my conservative friends see this…I'll be in the U.S. in June, specifically for the purpose of converting conservative Voxers. This is just a softening up preliminary…

  7. TedWest says:

    Now did you mean the Australian June or the American June?
    I was hoping you had the solution. When i saw my account on the new monitor, I was stunned. In other words I couldn't talk. Luckily, I could still write.
    Btw, I'm back on the old system… which means I have a story to tell, and which may not have the final chapter yet until Dell credits my account.

  8. Snowy says:

    Still thinking about that. I am a liberal, after all…

  9. TedWest says:

    Yes, I know… and I'm still thinkng about that.
    But I'm still going to make sure my wife reads your first comment

  10. Thanks, I have the same problem when I write my comments in Word then paste it on vox I have to bump up the font size first or it's tiny.
    I heard Huckabeeeeee on Fox and Friends this morning it was scary as he sounded like a faux Reagan. My wife hates Huckabee and I hate McCain so I may be bewteen a rock and a hard place. I can only vote for either Ron Paul or Mitt.

  11. TedWest says:

    Huchabee is not going to be the nominee, which is why I can have fun with this. The trouble is, the Republicans have nominated worse – e.g. Bob Dole, so I can't say I'm resting easy.

  12. I was an early supporter of Phil Gramm in 1996 until he dropped out of the race, then Steve Forbes. The trouble with the Old guard farts like Bob "Dill" Dole and Jerrie Ford is that they have the attitude that the party owes them the nomination. Ford was upset that Ronald Reagan ran in 1976, well Mr. Ford how many national elections did you win?

  13. Snowy says:

    There is a better description of our health system here. The Universal Health Scheme was introduced by a Labor (liberal) Government some forty years ago. It was opposed by the conservatives (Liberals) at every step. Despite being in government for a total of 19 years since the introduction of Medicare, no conservative government has ever dared to get rid of it. They fiddle at the edges, but know they would be in permanent opposition if they ever interfered with the UHC ideal.That isn't to say that the system doesn't have its problems, but the general consensus is that it is better than any alternative. I think it is worth a look for those who advocate a better system in the U.S. Whatever your opinion of Michael Moore, his "Sicko" movie horrified those of us who saw it in Oz. It is just inconceivable here that a doctor has to get permission from a health insurance fund before prescribing medication. I think the American people deserve better, so good luck in your endeavours. And my best wishes to your wife, also.

  14. HMOs are a creation of government legislation. Insurance is worthless without access to corrective treatment. When bureaucrats decide what's best for the bottom line then the patient usually looses. Government run health services create similar problems and sometimes incur limits to treatments when the funding runs out and there again someone else is in control of your healthcare- not you or your doctor.

  15. Snowy says:

    I can only speak of the Australian system. I have additional Hospital and Extras cover which you can check out here if you are interested enough. I have Top Cover Hospital and Multicover Extras. This costs me $219 a month for my wife and myself, and is subsidised by the government. I have never heard of a Health Insurance Fund denying anyone medical treatment because of cost. Because I am a pensioner and my doctor bulk bills, our private doctor visits are paid for by the government. Most pharmaceuticals cost us around $5. There is even a safety net where these payments cut out once they total $520 in a calendar year. As I have said previously, our system is not perfect, but I do think that it compares favourably with others around the world. I do know that no Australian need stress over medical bills, and in my opinion this has to be a good thing. Yes, the system necessarily involves bureaucrats. To most Australians that is a small price to pay for affordable health care.

  16. TedWest says:

    Our system is the worst of both worlds – heavily controlled by the government, and semi-private but without the competition. I haven't had time to read more of what you presented, but I certainly will.
    The big debate here is that people on the left -and I – think that healthcare is a right, and it is. That's irrefutable, but those in denial and the hard-hearted apparently think it's OK to die in the gutter if you can't afford the care, even if it's readily available.
    In practice, that doesn't' actually happen (because even the government isn't as heartless as "conservatives"), but what does happen is that the non-poor – non-rich get squeezed terribly, and no one comes out of a serious illness as well-off as they were.
    Of course, my biggest concern is how to return to a hostile state with you after all this…?

  17. Snowy says:

    Of course, my biggest concern is how to return to a hostile state with you after all this…?Better for both our health if you don't, I guess…I think that good old self interest will show the way. If Republican politicians see a haemorrhage of votes to those on the left who support Universal Health Care then they'll suddenly develop a conscience. Of course that may mean you'll have to vote Democrat…

  18. My self-interest is getting care. We all want to live forever; my father was a lucky bloke as he lived past 97 with no major illnesses or surgeries. I've had both substandard and quality care under the same insurance plan, just by switching doctors whom was practicing at a different clinic made a world of difference. Government here mismanages everything it touches and adds to the public debt, this will only add to the burden. Technology is both a blessing and a curse as high tech medicine saves lives and extends our life span but is more expensive. But to say that anything that is produced by others is a right is ridicules. Doing so ultimately destroys freedom and creates a socialist state.

  19. TedWest says:

    Being far away, you may think healthcare is a major issue here, but it isn't. It will be someday, because it's rotten to the core. But as I said, because so few actually have to cope with serious illness and the resulting debts, everyone else has his head in the sand and hopes it won't happen to him. It will someday, of course, but then there will be a whole new group that's in denial, and the great worry is, as Zak has detailed, that the wrong change may be worse than what we've got, and I can see that myself if government takes over.
    So what will happen is more of the same, and you have actually opened my eyes to the idea that we may have to go elsewhere to be saved. Because it's every man for himself here, and what I know is that the longer we wait, the greater the risk that our lives will be ruined by illness and financial disaster.
    Zak, I didn't mean to stir a debate. It's quite simple really. No one, at least no decent person, would allow anyone to die because he can't afford the cure. Therefore, healthcare is a de facto right because if you go to any public hospital, they will treat you. So the only question is, are we going to allow people to continue to be ruined because they need care?

  20. Snowy says:

    I don't know if you're serious about moving to another country because of your concerns about your health system, but I think you did mention in your original post that fifty percent of bankruptcies are due to medical bills. So it surprises me that universal health care does not rate higher as an issue. That said, the reality is that change is always difficult given the obstacles of vested interests, apathy, and self serving politicians. I guess emigrating is the lesser of two evils when faced with that choice,If you're thinking of moving, you might try Toowoomba where I live, a very, very conservative city. But hey, we have a liberal government so that would give you something to get your teeth into in order to occupy your time. And there's always me, of course…

  21. TedWest says:

    yes, bankruptcies are 50% health expenses related, but remember, very few people actually are bankrupt. And everyone else is in denial – you know, it won't happen to me. And many are simply unconcerned if you're the unlucky one, and they are people who lean conservative.
    But you have me pegged a bit wrong. I don't like most conservatives specifically because they are heartless and believe in the luck of the draw, and they want no government support of anything.
    I'll never forget this one hideous woman who was the most vulgar person I've ever encountered, and she was a "staunch individualist." Then one day, she said she wanted didn't plan to leave an estate – that she wanted to spend every dime. I reminded her that as a result of her thoughtless determination, she might become a ward of the state, an idea she dismissed as did another guy who often railed against the slightest hint of "collectivism," and who said that if he couldn't pay his way, he'd just die.
    Big talk, right. Until he's faced with it. I despise these sort of people.
    So I wouldn't be looking to move to someplace conservative, I'd be looking to move somewhere with a Mediterranean climate We'd already given some slight consideration to New Zealand. But my real point was that you have caused me to think more seriously, because you made me realize that nothing significant is going to happen here, and I'm not interested in going down with the ship.
    Ironically, while liberals here would implement universal care if permitted, they would be disastrous everywhere else, and likely even with healthcare, so see, there are no answers to our problems, and there are no Republicans proposing any.

  22. Snowy says:

    Well, who'd have thought we'd ever be having this conversation. I think Oz or New Zealand would suit from what you say, although Oz would probably be closer to a Mediterranean climate. This is Toowoomba climate information. We spent a month in New Zealand this year, and were most impressed with it. I could live quite happily in either country. And you're right. I did have you pegged as a liberal hating conservative. Now I wonder why I ever thought that.

  23. TedWest says:

    I was a liberal hating conservative. Now I'm the Lone Conservative because I hate everyone.
    It all started about four years ago when I realized that htese individualists had little compassion for the unlucky. in other words, they expect you to be able to pay your way, and if you can't, they care little about why you can't. Translated into healthcare speak, they expect you to be able to pay for treatment, and if you can't, you should die, and if you're dying in the street, they'll walk over you.
    So I approached them from a practical standpoint since all they did was rail against government healthcare. I told them that the;d better figure out a way to cover everyone and still kepp it private because if they didn't. they were bound to get that which they hated most.
    I wasn't ignored. I was hated for saying that. So you know how the jews believe in an eye for and eye? Well, I don't… I believe in two eyes for an eye. So things went from bad to worse until I couldn't stand to look at the names anymore.
    Now I should say that I'm not talking about all conservatives, just all those I've met. And Mal is one of two people who could still stand me afterward..
    And my hatred of liberals came about not because they feel that government should be our salvation, but because they hate what America has stood for. And simply put, America is the only stabilizing force in the world. Without us, chaos. Liberals want us to pull back and only fight those battles they think we should fight, and if we don't do it their way, they want us to fail. And they don't care who dies because of that. In fact, they delight in it.
    Contrast that with how I felt about Kosovo. I didn't approve of us destroying Serbia over a local problem, especially since Serbia is the good guys and the "ethnic cleansing" was a lie. But once we went to war, not once did I hope we suffered losses to teach others a lesson.
    I don't like how the rest of the world's liberals regard America, but how you feel is not nearly as significant as our home-grown anti-Americans.
    And the reason we're having this sort of conversation is because we're both being calm and rational, and I suspect that we both want a positive outcome.
    But between you and me, I like the Lennys who come in and make accusations. Then I don't have be civil. That's because as I told a fellow on your side recently, my purpose here is not to discuss things, that's just a facade. It's not that i'm not capable of it, as I think I've demonstrated, it's just that it's no fun, and I'd rather be joking first, and otherwise, just be outrageous.
    And now I won't be able to regard you in the same way I have in the past, and I think we'll both be the worse for that, but at least I know I will.
    And thanks for all the information. And my wife thanks you as well.

  24. Snowy says:

    And now I won't be able to regard you in the same way I have in the
    past, and I think we'll both be the worse for that, but at least I know
    I will.Well I don't think I'll be the worse for it. I've quite enjoyed a discussion that may be some help to yourself and your wife. And, without sounding condescending, I do wish you'd stop all this talk about hate, even if you are joking. We only talk about hate when we think that others are putting their survival before ours. And of course they are, so there's really no point in hating them for it.We're all here on earth at this point in time. We're all trying to survive. Some think the best way to do this is by competing, others think the best way to do this is by co-operating. In other words, some of us are conservatives, and some of us are liberals. That's why liberals favour Universal Health Care.Enough of that. I'm glad the information was of some use to you. And my best to your wife. I imagine she's checking out brochures about down under. If she needs any further information, I'm happy to oblige.

  25. paikea says:

    wow…Snowy and TWi think i just saw a pig fly…or was that a sheep…greetings from NZ:) – great discussion – since moving here to NZ, i definitely think there are a few things that the US anti-health care system could learn – i think it was an utter shock when i went into the emergency room last with an asthma attack and didn't worry that i would asphyxiate while filling out paperwork – as a matter of fact, there was no paperwork, entering or exiting! – they didn't even make Steven do any! – do you think we might be seeing you here soon, TW? :)as a liberal American (and a liberal Kiwi now, as well), may i state for the record that i remain proud to be an American – i do not hate America, and i never will – however, i do think there are some Americans we should pack up into a shuttle and hurl them into space to land …wherever…Rush included…:)

  26. My concern is outside health care to the role of authoritarian government, public policy and public debt; my "right to be left alone”- to opt out is paramount.

    "From the descriptive point of view, the difference between the physician and the veterinarian is that the former treats human diseases or sick people, whereas the latter treats animal diseases or sick animals. From the moral and political point of view, the difference between them is that the physician is expected to be the agent of the persons who are his patients, whereas the veterinarian is expected to be the agent of persons who own sick animals. In proportion, then, as the physician becomes the agent of the State and in proportion as the State is totalitarian, the physician becomes, from a moral and political point of view, a veterinarian- that is, the agent of a State who owns its citizens, just as the farmer owns his animals. This is why killing animals is part of the normal function of the veterinarian and why incarcerating people is, and killing them may yet become, a part of the normal function of the physician employed by the Therapeutic State."
    –Dr. Thomas Szasz

  27. paikea says:

    hi Zak (i lived in Tucson and Marana for a summer back in 1994)yes, i have – the last time i read it was in uni, so a while ago, but my copy is downstairs somewherenot thinking the US should go that far, obviously – i would worry more, however, should the US turn into a theocratic, authoritarian (yes, a bit redundant) government – but then, my feeling is that the US will fall so far behind in science and technology if that happens, it'll have far worse things to worry about than government doctors treating people like cattlei think NZ is doing fairly well having socialized health care – but then, i tend to pay close attention to my health issues (i have IBS) and make sure i choose a really good doctor who will be proactive

  28. I live on the Nortwest side near Tucson National Resort.
    There is a dynamic besides cost. Every nation is in competition with others regarding creating goods and services. This affects the job market and the standard of living of nearly everyone. Our politicians won't deal honestly with the unfunded mandates of social security so why would anyone think that a gov't universal health care plan will be any better? I have chronic lower back pain affecting my sciatic nerve. Luckily I have been able to improve with exercise and ibuprofen and don't need surgery. People with exotic and rare diseases are the ones most punished by nature.

  29. TedWest says:

    Yours is a legitimate concern, and I want to emphasize that I am in no way advocating a single-payer, government controlled system. In fact, it could be argued that the US resistance to it actually helps keep those in other countries in check in a similar way to how we maintain what little order there is in the world, since a real fiasco somewhere would definitely prove that our hesitation is fully justified. So we wait for the collapse, and they do their best to keep it afloat.
    In addition and as I've already said, Americans are not disposed toward altruism, so such a system as has been described in Australia might, and likely would, result in doctors giving less of a damn than they already do – and they are already pretty much worthless.
    So what Snowy has caused me to realize is that there is no hope for reform in our lifetime and each person must make his choices accordingly. In other words, it's the "Do you feel lucky, punk" question.
    Pail, (can we please oh please get some real names, people?)
    Thanks for the comments and I assure you that no one is more surprised than I at the course this thread has taken, and I promise to do my best not to repeat it too often.
    So,,, Kiwi is it? I thought if Australians are Aussies, New Zealanders must be Nausies?!?
    But seriously folk, since I'm unfamiliar with anything you've had to say and I chose not to look for fear it would prejudice my reply here, I'll take you at your word about being better than your average liberal, though I must say that in my experience, liberals have no idea how bad they are.
    As for packing people in shuttles, I don't make distinctions the way you do, I'd pack every liberal here into one, and yes, I realize that would require some compacting first. But of course, I wouldn't require Americans abroad to return for the ceremony.
    I am a bit concerned by your irrational fear of a theocracy here and that somehow it will affect scientific research. Where do you guys get this stuff?
    I'm going to presume you're referring tangentially to evolution and the idea that creationists don't believe in it. Neither do I, but I don't know anyone who demands they stop trying to prove it. The same goes for stem cells. It's just that some people have a stronger sense of ethics and morals than others, and very few of those are liberals.
    But now for fear of prejudicing you, I'll stop there and say that I am envious of anyone who feels relatively free of healthcare worries.
    We have a fundamental difference in the way we see things. I agree we're all just trying to get through, but you appear to take it too seriously. I mean, life is absurd and worthless, and I feel at my worst when I look for justice and purpose. It's either we're all god's pets or we're fooling ourselves into thinking what we do has meaning.
    But I'm not saying it's OK to murder people at random for the fun of it, because I do have the same empathy for the individual that you do.
    But I really do appreciate this:
    "I do wish you'd stop all this talk about hate, even if you are joking. We only talk about hate when we think that others are putting their survival before ours."
    It gets me back on track. I'm just saying that if you're looking for more places to discuss things in a civil, rational manner, this isn't it, but there are plenty of others willing to indulge you in what I consider to be a dry and humorless manner, and none of it will change anything.
    So I must respectfully decline your suggestion, and add that I now hate you again for suggesting it.
    See, here's an example of the problem. today, George McGovern, the filthiest of liberal scum, wrote in the second filthiest liberal rag that Bush should be impeached. Then he proceeded with the litany, all of it preposterous, but more important, unprovable. But see, even if something were provable, then certainly Johnson and Carter and Clinton should have been impeached as well, and as you know, only one got what he deserved.
    So I'll stop hating when liberals stop deserving it. Of course, they deserve more, it's true, but I'm not allowed to do that, at least not on my own, but hate's still legal for the moment, and at least it keeps me off the streets if you get my drift?

  30. paikea says:

    Our politicians won't deal honestly with the unfunded mandates of social security so why would anyone think that a gov't universal health care plan will be any better?i totally agree with you, Zak – i don't think the US should go all-out socializing the health care system – i do think it would behoove to tix the current system – don't ask me how, though! – i'm still figuring that out!i've been lucky as well (no thanks to the medical establishment, really – everybody's IBS symptoms are so varied, they still have no idea of an effective cure – and i'm not so sure it's one of the "hot button" issues, anyways – so, i imagine the funding for research is not so great) – i manage my IBS mostly through diet – if i hadn't spent months researching on the internet and some really unfortunate trial/error incidents, it would not be as manageable as it is now – i have friends who are far worse than i am – i only take one med. for it – and it's not a horrid onekudos to you for managing your back pain 🙂 – that's rough

  31. Snowy says:

    I'm just saying that if you're looking for more places to discuss things in a civil, rational manner, this isn't it,Pity, because I think we agree on more than we disagree. So I must respectfully decline your suggestion, and add that I now hate you again for suggesting it.I must admit that I'm somehow relieved to hear that. I was beginning to wonder if I was talking to someone who'd hijacked your is absurd and worthless,I've tried to read a bit of philosophy, but don't pretend to understand much of it. My understanding of existentialism is that life is essentially as you say, but that it is up to us to give it meaning. I look at all other life on earth, and it seems to get by with just existing, so why shouldn't we. I do prefer to spend much of my time these days contemplating the universe. It doesn't seem to be too concerned with whether we are liberals or conservatives, and a stray asteroid may very well blow the human race into oblivion one day if we haven't already achieved that ourselves.But enough of that, I'm being all serious again, and this is not the place to do that. Maybe we'll meet at Paikea's place one day when you've emigrated, and share a beer or three. Now that would be an interesting conversation…

  32. paikea says:

    oh yeah, meet a my place…well, actually, that's a good ideai can sic the Awesome and Fearsome Shitty Kitty on anyone who gets out of control!i foresee some super-fun entertainment to be had by all!we'll have to declare a Kiwi/Aussie truce, of course (that will involve a moratorium on any cricket or rugby trash talking) – i think we can manage that – some fine wine from Snowy's cellar and our cellar (i.e. linen closet) may help :)and TW – i find myself sadly agreeing with you that Americans are not disposed towards altruismthat said, i don't think we agree on too much else, so no worries there!btw. my real name is Natasha – i'm not sure it's an improvement on paikea though – it's just as long – for convenience sake, you can always just refer to me as paior "another cursed liberal"

  33. paikea says:

    i'll put the videos on my list to watch – i'll likely learn something – thank you:)

  34. The book "Free to Choose" is still in print and available from Amazon. I also recommend "Conflict of Visions" by Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution.

  35. paikea says:

    the Sowell book looks very interesting – we might have it laying around somewhere – if not, i'll put it on my Amazon wishlist – my husband is an Economist as well – thanks again, Zak – looks like i have some more reading to do! – good thing i'm addicted to books

  36. TedWest says:

    Snowy and Paikea,
    It occurred to me that I forgot to ask an important question:
    Do you have any idea of how many people are bankrupted by medical costs in Australia and New Zealand?
    And just to keep things fun, Snowy, maybe you could answer for New Zealand and Pai, you do Australia?!?

  37. Snowy says:

    I googled "bankruptcy New Zealand medical". I couldn't find any numbers on medical bankruptcies, but there was reference to bankruptcy in the final paragraph here , "

    In summary, New Zealand’s system is efficient, does the basics well, and largely avoids issues of coverage and medical bankruptcy. Choice, however, is largely removed, and having to "live" with the decisions made by the system would not—and does not—rest easily with some."I would say that, broadly speaking, the article would describe the strengths and weaknesses of the Australian public health system. Extra private health coverage goes some way to overcoming the weaknesses of the public system, especially in regard to waiting times. It is true that some drugs are not available on the government subsidised Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), but there is an ongoing re-evaluation of which drugs are added to the list. Sometimes this comes about because of public agitation as in this case. Generally speaking, the most commonly used drugs are available on PBS. Despite the agitation of some hopefuls, Viagra is not available on PBS. I did tell you that the system isn't perfect…

  38. TedWest says:

    My GOD!.
    New Zealand's out. What a nightmarish article you presented. It only matters that outcomes are similar population-wide but any given individual might literally not be able to get needed care? America's system is terrible, but most people would still prefer bankruptcy to death.

  39. Urban Lenny says:

    your remarks on Rush are dead on, in my for Huck, i agree with someone up above that commented that he's not going to get the Nom. The institutionalists in the party– not just Rush and Hannity– but the national review, the WSJ– will do anything to stop it. The wall street leg of that 3-legged GOP stool wont have it. Unfortunately for them, the only guy that's going to be left is McCain i think– and a lot of conservatives just dont trust him either. Long story short– your republicans are in a heap of trouble.

  40. Snowy says:

    Paikea is better qualified than I am to comment on the New Zealand system, so I wouldn't be too hasty to draw conclusions from one article which I suspect refers only to the bare bones public system. I only googled as a result of your suggestion, and may have done the NZ health system a disservice in the process. It is my understanding that the U.S. Health Insurance funds can also deny treatment for a variety of reasons, so the choice may very well not be bankruptcy or death, but bankruptcy and death, which I suppose is a win/lose situation when you think about it.

  41. TedWest says:

    Glenn Beck is set to talk about his healthcare woes this hour on CNN. If you're interested and miss it, catch one of the many replays today.
    His tease was to the effect that trying to get proper care in this country can kill you.

  42. TedWest says:

    May I presume this is your attempt at safe and sane discussion?
    If I sound sarcastic, it's because it appears you have little real interest of that your attention span is nil.
    I am also the one who said Huckabee won't be nominated, and I definitely wouldn't want him to be, and it has nothing to do with religion. he's just not conservative.
    And while the Republicans should have been able to waltz to the presidency given the unimaginably terrible candidates the Dems offer, I agree with you that the Reps are in trouble and the reasons are per individual and too numerous to cover in a single post.
    However, the problem again reverts to you since they are not -my- Republicans. I am not one of them. I am a conservative, and I hate what Republicans stand for. I've also come to hate what most conservatives stand for as well, and I will be posting more about that shortly.

  43. Urban Lenny says:

    dude im serious. but with regard to your comment "Republicans should have been able to waltz to the presidency given the unimaginably terrible candidates the Dems offer", i just gotta say that youre just totally in the minority in that belief. I know you dont share this opinion, but the country pretty much hates Bush and is sick of the republicans in charge. you can see it in all of the opinion polls (Bush's disapproval is above 60%), fundraising amounts (dems are WAY ahead), and in turnout at events and the caucuses. Policy-wise, on all the issues– healthcare, the environment, the economy, iraq, etc– people agree (rightly or wrongly) with the dems. They want a democrat in the white house. you despise all the dems stand for– i get that, but youre in the minority with that opinion.

  44. TedWest says:

    I am in the minority on some matters, but you're both in denial and ill-informed.
    See, I know I'm in the minority, as my latest post indicates, but I would rather be that and right.
    And I don't like to even address the kind of nonsense you posted because I expect the people I discuss things with to know better, but I'm going to do it this time as an example.
    First, you seem unable to distinguish between disapproval and dislike, and then, what that dislike actually means. You also don't seem to understand that if this is, in fact, the year of the Dem, it's because Republicans didn't field a viable candidate. And even then, at least the Republicans are decent people, whereas among the Dems, only Obama could even begin to stake that claim, but then this is the guy who would pull US troops even if it resulted in genocide.
    And if I can't speak for the entire country you sure can't, but one thing is certain, the only place where people are sick of Republicans being in charge is in your mind, and the minds of the nuts you hang with.
    Fundraising: I don't know where it stands currently, but I heard the gap was closing, and in any case, it's irrelevant since it's likely that in the end, funds won't be a problem for either party. But if what you're implying is that they indicate voter preference at this moment, that's even more ludicrous since I know you know who has the most funds among the 'crats.
    And it only appears that people agree with Dems on policy until you get into specifics and actual proposals. See, liberals are loud and stupid, whereas, conservatives are quiet and stupid.
    But you see the common denominator.
    But you are correct in that I despise what Dems stand for, and that I am in the minority, though that minority is far larger than you might think. but the fact is, no liberal position can be argued successfully – not one, and you don't seem to be the one who should attempt to prove me wrong.

  45. Urban Lenny says:

    on Bush specifically: disapproval, dislike– what difference does it make? The fact is, most people want the Bush Presidency to be over and nearly a super-majority disapprove of his job performance. His approval ratings have not been above and average of 35% for more than a year. I mean– we can agree that that, at least, is beyond dispute, no?

  46. TedWest says:

    You know, I will agree with you here because while the difference between disapproval and dislike makes a big difference in the sense of differentiating between the man and the party, it does make no practical difference with respect to Bush himself.

  47. paikea says:

    would have to leave this up to Snowy, TW – i can't really discuss this with much authority on NZ's health system in this manner – having only lived here for five years – not many articles show up about people going bankrupt through medical costs of their treatment – i do see articles where people are waiting far too long (and too late) for treatment – but, to give you a good answer, i'd have to do some more research and talk to some people who are way more knowledgeable on the subject than i am…

  48. paikea says:

    however…now that i think about it, my recent personal experience could have turned out worse had i not been more persistenti developed trigger finger in my thumb – the result of which is that my finger got stuck trying to bend and would straighten only with a goodly amount of pain – and would entirely seize up for a time after a sleep – in Jan '07 – my GP, knowing that i like to take care of these things quickly, referred me to the private clinic of a orthopaedic specialist – i made an appt.straight away – the pompous ass saw me for 3 minutes, assessed me as some silly, young twit (i'm 34 but i look like i'm 16 and i was actually nice to him) and told me to ignore my trigger finger – told me that people have lived with this for years – and come back when it's permanently stuck and he'd do the surgery right away – he said all this and didn't even give me any tips on how to ease the pain on my finger in the meantime (luckily, i had already looked this all up) – i'm a writer and a musician – i need my thumb – waiting for what could be years for my thumb to seize up entirely wasn't an option – and i had told him so – but, i got the same answer – and for this, he charged me a ridiculous amount of moneyso, steven refused to pay the bill – and i wrote a really furious but excellent letter – and i made another appt. – through the public system (free) – a few months later (now, feeling that my finger had been that way forever) – went to this appt. where they were assessing the same thing – the very same appt. i had just gone through privately – and realized the SAME DOCTOR was going to see me (super small world in NZ) – luckily, he sent his intern – some young guy – or i would have walked out right away – i happily convinced this guy that i HAD to do the surgery – and a half an hour later – after he apparently consulted with the SAME DOCTOR – i got permission to do the surgery – which, i learned, would be sometime in that year – fine – i wasn't going to GO BACK to the doctor privately – he clearly hadn't listened to me – so, i waited and hoped that something would open up soon – apparently, if you call the general appointment office and bug the crap out of them, they keep you in mind – so, after a month or two of being patient, i did – someone called me two days later and said someone canceled and they had opening the following week – this is now August – so i went in and had it fixed by a lovely young man and a team of fantastic people – the care and service was excellent – for free – the anesthesist even kept me talking the whole time (i know, not the most difficult job in the whole world), so i would forget my thumb was being sliced open and my tendons were being sliced – excellent after-surgical care as well – they called me at home twice after the surgery to make sure my thumb was healing ok – so, no complaints thereso, now that i realize that there was no reason for the pompous ass to tell me that i had to wait for my thumb to seize up permanently to have the surgery, i'm even angrier – what was the reason? – we would have happily PAID privately for the surgery to be done the next day? – what had been his problem?in November, we get a lawyer's notice from the pompous ass' lawyers – for the money and extra for lawyers' fees – so, steven sends, on his official office e-mail stationery, putting Dr. in front of his name (apparently he gets better treatment from airlines this way as well – even if he's has a Ph.D in Econ) – attached the really anger letter i had sent the private office complaining about the pompous ass and refusing payment – and we haven't heard back from them again yetso – bad or good experience – mixed, i'd saylately, i've dealt with a lot of doctors (my dad was one) – i have one of those chronic things which tend to really bring out the best and worst in doctors – so, i'm not exaggerating when i say this pompous ass was really the worst doctor i have ever seen – he may have been the top of his field, but he was just a big jerk – but i've been to the Cleveland Clinic and i know doctors can avoid being assholes when they reach the the top of their fieldand my GP is excellenti had all my tests done for my IBS back in Seattle and L.A. – when we were living in the states – if i had to do that battery of tests here, when i first got sick, we probably would have taken out private insurance and done it privately so they wouldn't have take forever – at least you can do that here – if you can afford it…sorry, i tend to ramble sometimes when i'm tired – but i hope my story helped understand our health care system some

  49. TedWest says:

    Don't apologize for anything, this has been very interesting, and I'm glad I asked the question. I didn't even know NZ had private treatment available.
    But based on what you described, I'd hate to think what might have been if your condition was more serious. Am I naive to think that at least here, you can get treatment and worry about the cost later?
    I don't know, there appears to be no healthcare Nirvana, and if, say, Australia is somewhat better, is it that much better to make it worth having to cope with rugby and soccer?
    Seriously, I very much appreciate the information both you and Snowy have provided, and while you haven't previously irritated me to my knowledge, it will be difficult to impossible to be hostile toward either of you from here on, but I know that's a personal issue that I'll have to deal with on my own.
    One other thing. I have a degree in econ, but I'd be very interested in what a PhD thinks of Walter Williams if your husband has any knowledge of him?

  50. paikea says:

    :)Am I naive to think that at least here, you can get treatment and worry about the cost later?i honestly don't know, TW 😦 – haven't there been cases where hospitals haven't treated people who don't have insurance? or the right kind? or the insurance won't pay for certain treatments that people need?here, many doctors leave because there aren't enough incentives to keep them here – we have a shortage of specialists obviously, there are intrinsic problems within both these systems, right?you would think there would be a happy medium – i really wish someone could find it…i asked Steven about Walter Williams (after i looked him up myself) – he didn't know of him – Steven is a Labour Economist – and he tends to stay away from politics if he can help it – i do know that he's not so fond of Libertarianism, though…

  51. TedWest says:

    I didn't think to ask if your husband was a native NZer. Williams is a professor at George mason U, a columnist, broadcast talker and idiot. I have had several disagreements with him because he regards taxes as theft, and the last one I had involved me saying that his reasoning was too simplistic and him asking me to clarify.
    When I did, he never wrote back. Now it could be that he thought I was an idiot (full story available on request), but I wrote him back to say that I thought his conduct was deplorable because, if the situation were reversed, my mother raised me to at least acknowledge someone from whom I asked a favor, no matter that the result might be worthless to me.
    Anyway, he's written and said a lot of nonsense since, but I haven't written. I keep thinking that if he were my professor when I was in college, I would have thought him an idiot then, but I would have gone along to get along. Like I had one professor who told the class that Dr. Pepper was addictive and so it would become the king of soft drinks. That was thirty years ago, and of course, it's now King Pepper.
    That's why I wished I could have taken a class from Williams now – there would be daily shouting matches.
    Anyway, sorry. I want to be sure you know that while I joke, this has been eye-opening, and while I want to escape near certain future hell here, I want to try to make sure that I don't substitute one for another. The thing is, I have had about a doctor a year here because I'm trying to find one who doesn't stink – both literally and figuratively. I have plenty of stories, and what's troubling is that none of my maladies are serious, so what happens when I get one?
    Like Zak, I had back trouble, and it was far worse than his – because it happened to me. But seriously, I hurt my back exercising, and didn't even know it at the time. But a week later I was a cripple, and for many years, the slightest thing could send me back to that state for a week. And although I'm much better today, I have a constant reminder that my back will never be the same again, but my doctor told me a complete cure is possible if I can just drive on the righthand side of the car for a few decades.
    And I just wrote all that to see if Zak is following any of this, so again, my apologies.
    And thanks so much for indulging me.

  52. Snowy says:

    I don't know, there appears to be no healthcare NirvanaI got to thinking about my own situation, and what else would I want if I was to be in healthcare Nirvana. I can't think of anything, apart from having to pay $76 a month for my non PBS asthma medication, and I get $45 back on that with my private insurance. I enjoy reasonably good health, so may have a different take on things if I didn't. But from where I sit, I think I am in healthcare nirvana.I have a choice of doctor, and have had the same one for 25 years. I have affordable top private cover at $220 a month. I pay around $5 for a PBS prescription. I have a choice of two private hospitals and a public one in my city. In any emergency they can't handle I can be quickly transported by helicopter to other hospitals in Brisbane, and there is no charge for that. I know I can never be bankrupted because of medical bills. Being a pensioner, I don't have to pay the extra on property rates to cover ambulance costs, which isn't much anyway. I don't have to worry about waiting times because of my private health cover. I have never needed medication that isn't available either on PBS or otherwise.On Monday I will be having day surgery to have a lens replacement in my right eye. Medicare and Private Health insurance will cover that.The first eye surgeon I went to charged $1,000 over what Medicare allows, so I went to another one who didn't have that extra charge. He got the job of course. I'm not one to pretend that everything is rosy if I know it isn't, but I have to be honest, and say that I have nothing to complain about so far as healthcare is concerned. I hope I don't find something to complain about after Monday…

  53. TedWest says:

    Well isn't this a fine mess I've gotten myself into…
    I may have missed previous references, but I had no idea you were a pensioner, I thought you were a PC punk, and so as it turns out, I'M the punk!
    Don't get me wrong, this is exactly the sort of misunderstanding I try to foster here, it's just that I don't plan to be the victim of it.
    So let me first apologize for my earlier tone and comments. I just wouldn't have been nearly as rough on you if I'd known you'd been through so much of what we affectionately call "life."
    Now I know you may be thinking that while I'm apologizing, at the same time I'm an age bigot, and that you're merely the beneficiary at this stage, and you'd be right. But there's a good reason and you know it well, even if you won't admit it because you and I were that way ourselves – younger people think they know things that they actually don't, and I don't know about you, but I can tell you some stories about how outrageous I was as a young adult, and how I wish I could go back to those people now and apologize for my brashness – but I can't 'cause they're dead.
    And no, I'm not just referring to my parents who I'd also apologize to in the afterlife just before I punch them both in the mouth for bringing me into this without my permission.
    So I'm glad we mellowed toward each other before your revelation forced it on me, because at least you know it was genuine, and no, I won't change my attitude in general or my hatred in particular instances, but boy, there's Vegemite all over my face at the moment.
    Now I don't mean this to be a signal to end this here, but I sincerely wish you the best with your surgery, and I hope you will keep me updated on your progress. Thanks again for not carrying a grudge and having the courage to return and engage me in what has become one of the highlights of my Vox experience.
    And now I must get back to being me…

  54. Snowy says:

    Thanks for the apology, but you'd already done that with your courteous response to my comments in this thread. You were half right. I may be a pensioner, but I'm also a second childhood PC punk, and I don't agree with your views on Iraq or global warming. I just don't bother arguing about them any more. I'd sooner contemplate the wonders of the universe in my remaining years. Anyway, I'm glad that you and your wife got something out of the healthcare discussion. I did forget to add that there is no charge by my doctor because he bulk bills pensioners. Old age does have its compensations, but I forget the other one.And thank you for your good wishes regarding my forthcoming surgery. I'll keep you posted. I'll also be interested to know if you ever do emigrate, and to where.

  55. Snowy says:

    This might be of interest to your wife and yourself.

  56. paikea says:

    LOL!!!just trying to envision Snowy in all his pensioner punk gloryLOL!ok – TW, no indulgence for me – this has been an interesting conversation and i have been more than happy to attempt to contributewell, i should have written that what Steven actually said was, and i quote, "Libertarians are idiots." – he's from New York:)i wish you luck in your quest to find a good doctor and with your back stuff my cat (all 17 pounds of him) spent one night curled around my shoulders and neck as i slept on my stomach and i couldn't drive for two weeks – i was in such pain because i couldn't even turn my head – i feel for youalso, the whole one week you're fine and the next week you're hurt for life – is very familiar to me – :(i must warn you that NZ is rather liberal, however (should you be considering a move here) – i don't know that you'd love that if you moved here – we legalized prostitution last year and i wouldn't be surprised if gay marriage was legalized at some point in the much nearer future than it would be in the states – civil unions here between gay couples are given the same rights as people in a marriage – throughout the country – we were the first country in the world to give women the vote, you know!NZ is, however, ridiculously beautiful – i do miss the big mammals, though (i spent much of my childhood in Montana at my step-grandparent's cabin up in Custer National Forest outside of Yellowstone) – and i really miss squirrels!

  57. TedWest says:

    Wait a minute, there are no big mammals there? Is that because the healthcare system won't allow it? I mean I read about how they wouldn't allow entry of that big mammal from Britain.
    Anyway, I don't have any significant back problems now, and I don't know why I give people the impression I won't live around liberals or their silly rights. I mean I think I'm pretty much untouchable since I try not to leave the house as much as possible, don't answer the front door unless I'm expecting someone and haven't had a phone call in a month.
    My philosophy is that you're unlikely to encounter trouble if you turn on the TV, sit down on the couch, and shut up – although my wife wishes I'd do a lot more of the latter.
    But see, that's why I want a good climate. We garden and have lots of citrus trees, and a pool which I haven't used in ages because of the pigeons and ducks, but that's another long story.
    But that does raise the question, does New Zealand allow pigeons?

  58. paikea says:

    well, i must say, i do quite well myself, living on the couch, typing on my computer all day – and getting up for the occasional workout, snack and to bug Steven when he's working at home – certainly does cut down on people interaction:)as to the pigeon question (if that was a serious question), i can not answer that, but here's where you can get the answers – we did bring our cat over – he was kept in quarantine for four weeks i have come across people who would have trouble living with/around the enemy – i do apologize for assuming you were one of them!

  59. TedWest says:

    I do my best to convey that impression, but I'm perfectly willing to live and let live. The trouble is, liberals won't let me do that. But my only real concern is Muslims. Britain is slowly being transformed and some countries in Europe are even further along. Liberals should fear that more than anyone, but they're like lemmings.
    I am serious about the flying rats, they have destroyed my yard, and I called a pest control guy who was going to trap them and put up some deterrents. I told him I didn't want to deter them, I wanted to kill them and I wanted to watch if I couldn't do it myself. But you see where I'm goin': the liberals won't allow me to do that. I swear that if someone found a way to eliminate cockroaches, liberals wouldn't let him do it.
    But I swear I can live with them. On a completely unrelated matter, you allow handguns, right? If not, how about mercury?
    Btw, I don't think Libertarians are idiots. I do think a great many of them are nuts.

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