Friday, August 03, 2007


UPDATED: a bunch below

Hallucinatory lefty blogger Erik Loomis at Alterdestiny prefers King George to George Washington because of health care:
I have been thinking about some of the implications of Michael Moore's Sicko. Specifically, why is the United States the only nation in the developed world without some sort of equitable, government-funded health care?

I am just wondering if we can look back to the American Revolution for some answers. To be exact, did the American Revolution undermine the modern United States' willingness to engage in the sort of social democracies we see throughout Europe, Canada, and increasingly other nations as well?

I don't have a solid answer for this. But I'm going to play a little counterfactual game to help think about these issues.

Let's say the American Revolution fails. What happens?

We are Canada.

Is that so bad? I don't think so.

Sure, Britain would have executed Jefferson, Washington, and the gang. That would have been terrible. But what happens after that? . . .

It's at least possible that the pushing up of the average money-grubbing white male to the top of the political process at a very early age has helped create a society focused on the individual over the group, on personal wealth over social wealth, on money over education, on white over black.

Finally, we wouldn't be basing our whole political system in the present on trying to interpret (or misinterpret) what a bunch of rich white men thought over 200 years ago. We wouldn't be trying to fit everything we do into the Constitution. We would be focusing on governing for the present, not the past.

No doubt, you can poke holes in my argument. But I think it's at least worth considering whether the American Revolution was really a good thing for the United States. It's a counterfactual, presentist argument, but one that is at least worth mulling over for awhile. And if you don't like my argument, what better answers are there for why the United States is so different from the rest of the western world when it comes to creating a decent society for all citizens?
The "holes" in Loomis' fantasy swallow his speculation as a whole:
  1. Canada's single-payer health care is fine--unless you're sick:
    Patients had to wait for practically any diagnostic test or procedure, such as the man with persistent pain from a hernia operation whom we referred to a pain clinic — with a three-year wait list; or the woman with breast cancer who needed to wait four months for radiation therapy, when the standard of care was four weeks.

    Government researchers now note that more than 1.5 million Ontarians (or 12% of that province's population) can't find family physicians. Health officials in one Nova Scotia community actually resorted to a lottery to determine who'd get a doctor's appointment.
    Though health care spending is relatively high, Canada is chronically short of doctors. Meaning Canada "rations by queue"--on average, Canadians wait 8.8 weeks for a doctors' appointment and 9 more weeks if referred to a specialist. Perhaps that's why chicken soup is a government-approved remedy.

  2. Europe and socialism's no answer: Britain is worse. Those Euro "social democracies" Loomis likes are only a bit better. For example, France faces over-prescription and under-investment in technology. Italy is starved for advanced medicines routinely available in America, says Daniele Capezzone, president of the productivity committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies:
    About 78% of global biotechnology research funds are spent in the U.S., compared to just 16% in Europe. Americans therefore have better access to modern drugs. One result is that in the U.S., the annual death rate from cancer is 196 per 100,000 people, compared to 235 in Britain, 244 in France, 270 in Italy and 273 in Germany.

    It is both a tragedy and an embarrassment that Europe hasn't kept up with the U.S. in saving and improving lives. What's to blame? The Continent's misguided policies and state-run health-care systems. The reasons vary from country to country, but broadly speaking, the custodians of public health budgets aren't devoting the necessary resources to get patients the most modern and advanced medicines, and are happier with the status quo. We often see news headlines about promising new cures and vaccines next to headlines about patients who can't get life-saving drugs as politicians impose ever stricter prescription controls on doctors. The human toll can be measured in deaths and unnecessary suffering. . .

    This situation is especially dire in Italy. The government has capped spending on pharmaceuticals at 13% of total health-care expenditures while letting expenses for infrastructure and staff skyrocket. From 2001 to 2005, general health expenses in Italy grew by 31% while expenditure on medicines increased a mere 1.7%. Italian patients might well have been better off if the reverse was the case, but the state bureaucrats who make these decisions refuse to acknowledge the benefits of advanced drugs.
    Still, it's better to be a sick Euro than an ordinary Cuban confined to Castro's cure--it's "free," but with socialism, you get what you pay for.

  3. Don't let the best be the enemy of the good: American health care and health insurance aren't perfect. But -- thanks to the legacy of "Jefferson, Washington, and the gang" and contrary to Michael Moore's "Sicko" fiction -- our system is better than most alternatives, and more fair and less expensive than claimed. Replicating Canada would be unhealthy.

  4. A government of laws governs better than one of men: Lastly, Loomis downgrades the American Revolution via the standard lefty claim that our late-18th century founders choke present-day policy. Such reasoning shows Loomis is clueless about Constitutional government:
    [T]oday's liberals seem to believe the Constitution teaches that the Founders were wise, implying that superior wisdom (theirs, of course) should prevail today. The Founders were indeed wise--but that's the wrong lesson. Instead, they recognized that:

    • unanimity is impossible, and . . . [t]he Founding Fathers didn't have all the answers.

    • Instead, they created a process to address disagreement--a relatively immutable Constitution, a Congress with limited Federal powers, separation of powers, a list of untouchable rights, and an expectation that state legislatures would reflect the will of their own citizens.
    So why abandon a 34 page manual of process that protects people from government for something like the phonebook-size collection of Utopian tone-poems -- enshrining rights to (Article II 74) "vocational and continuing training;" codifying a duty to "respect" (Article II-85) the "rights of the elderly... to participate in social and cultural life;" and promoting vegetarianism because (Article III-121) "animals are sentient beings" -- narrowly rejected by the EU two years ago. Or swap the strong presumption of liberty under our Bill of Rights for a Canadian "Charter" that can be overridden on "reasonable" request. How is less liberty liberal?

  5. Conclusion: Communism having failed, nostalgia for mad King George exposes the empty core of current leftism. Sure, Loomis was simply speculating; harmless. But -- like Democrats who reflexively oppose America and Israel and white-flag Islamic terror -- Loomis assumes any enemy, current or former, is better than America. Fortunately, he enjoys the First Amendment freedom to write without thought, as krutsky says in comments on Right Wing News:
    [N]one of this really matter because we did win the American Revolution, and shortly after that a bunch of rich, aristocratic white men decided that future morons like this one would be able to write idiotic drivel like this without fear of repression from the government.

Econ Professor Mark Perry graphs Capezzone's data:

(source: Carpe Diem)

Timing is everything--several readers have pointed to Rudy Giuliani's Op-Ed in today's Boston Globe:
The Democratic candidates for president believe in a government-mandated model that looks for inspiration to the socialized medical systems of Europe, Canada, and Cuba.

Most Republicans believe in expanding individual choice and decision-making. I believe we can reduce costs and improve the quality of care by increasing competition. We can do it through tax cuts, not tax hikes. We can do it by empowering patients and their doctors, not government bureaucrats. Instead of being more like Europe, we need to be more like America.

America has the best medical care in the world. People come here from around the world to take advantage of our path-breaking medicine and state-of-the-art treatments.

But the healthcare system is being dragged down by decades of government-imposed mandates, wasteful bureaucracy, and massive distortions in the US tax code that punish self-employed and low-income workers. Since 2000, Americans have seen their health insurance costs nearly double. Frivolous lawsuits have led to defensive medicine and doctors leaving the profession. More than 45 million Americans are without health insurance.

America is best when we solve our problems from our strengths, not our weaknesses. Healthcare reform must be based on increased choice, affordability, portability, and individual empowerment.

We need to begin by bringing fairness to the tax treatment of healthcare. The current tax system penalizes millions -- including the rising ranks of the self-employed and 40 percent of employees at small firms -- who pay for insurance on their own and receive no tax benefit.

Americans without employer-based insurance, or those who would rather have individual coverage, should enjoy the same tax benefits as the 175 million Americans with employer-based coverage.

Erik's later post proves he doesn't understand the Constitution he criticizes. Unfortunately, his approach -- dictating outcomes without bothering to to persuade or put it to a vote, and calling anyone who disagrees "racist" -- is all too common among liberals.


Bulletin from the August 16th Scotland Daily Record:
CANCER patients are still waiting up to seven months for treatment.

Patients are supposed to be treated within 62 days of urgent referral.

But figures out yesterday showed only three areas in Scotland were meeting those targets every time.

In the worst cases, sufferers were kept hanging on for 220 days.

The figures, for the first three months of the year, show 85.4 per cent of patients across Scotland were seen within 62 days.

The target set two years ago is 95 per cent.

A reader's email to National Review's Jonah Goldberg:
I'm a cancer survivor who was diagnosed in Germany. After two months in the limbo that is Germany's national health care system, I realized it would probably kill me so I returned to the U.S. for treatment. My chemotherapy started on the same day I saw my oncologist in New Jersey. Eleven years later and I'm still here. I wonder what the survival rates are in the UK?
I've previously posted the answer:
The answer is clear. If you are a woman with breast cancer in Britain, you have (or at least a few years ago you had, since all medical statistics are a few years old) a 46 per cent chance of dying from it. In America, your chances of dying are far lower -- only 25 per cent. Britain has one of the worst survival rates in the advanced world and America has the best.

If you are a man and you are diagnosed as having cancer of the prostate in Britain, you are more likely to die of it than not. You have a 57 per cent chance of departing this life. But in America you are likely to live. Your chances of dying from the disease are only 19 per cent. Once again, Britain is at the bottom of the class and America at the top.
More on that topic here.

(via Right Wing News, The Corner)

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Loomis's style of argument is actually a very congenial one to progressive discussions. "Let's not push the facts too hard, but lets take a few well-known items and spin a theory out of them. We can nod earnestly over drinks and have a great conversation. Troublesome people who want to be rigorous won't be invited back."

The fun of the speculation and positing a congenial narrative is all. The events of the real world are just a board game that assists socialization.

The Assistant Village Idiot makes this generalization on the basis of personal experience, and previously, participation in such conversations.