Health Care Part 1: Making The Case for Reform

Health Care SymbolSo I am finally ready to begin the health care series that I have been working on. I will say up front as I begin this series of articles that I am NOT the expert in this arena. I wish that I could say that I am. But there is so much information out there, and even more misinformation out there, that it might take a lifetime to read it (and the first lifetime of reading may only get you through the bill itself once they are done writing the massive thing). I wanted to take a moment here in the first part to this series to discuss the “need” for health care reform. Health care is such a gigantic subject, and there are so many parts to it. So the term “health care reform” in and of itself does nothing to tell us what part of the system they intend to “reform” (since government is doing it you can read “reform” as RUIN). We will get into the actual proposals and bills being offered in later parts. For now, let’s understand what is in play and whether the claims being made about the need for health care reform are accurate.

Let’s start with the President’s proposal as laid out by him during the campaign and afterwards. I first went to the President’s own site, . There I found this under the issues –  healthcare section:

The Current Situation

Doctor Obama to the Rescue

Doctor Obama to the Rescue

Making sure every American has access to high quality health care is one of the most important challenges of our time. The number of uninsured Americans is growing, premiums are skyrocketing, and more people are being denied coverage every day. A moral imperative by any measure, a better system is also essential to rebuilding our economy — we want to make health insurance work for people and businesses, not just insurance and drug companies.

The Solution

Reform the health care system: We will take steps to reform our system by expanding coverage, improving quality, lowering costs, honoring patient choice and holding insurance companies accountable.

Promote scientific and technological advancements: We are committed to putting responsible science and technological innovation ahead of ideology when it comes to medical research. We believe in the enormous capacity of American ingenuity to find cures for diseases that continue to extinguish too many lives and cause too much suffering every year.

Improve preventative care: In order to keep our people healthy and provide more efficient treatment we need to promote smart preventative care, like cancer screenings and better nutrition, and make critical investments in electronic health records, technology that can reduce errors while ensuring privacy and saving lives.

Sure sounds great on paper. But obviously the issues as laid out above offer no actual facts or figures that back up the vague claims, and offer no actual examples of what “reforms” will be used to change things, just vague areas. That isn’t a knock, just an acknowledgement that we have to dig a little deeper than this quick snippet on his website to understand what he is actually saying. And that is important, because what percentage of people who read that are actually taking another step after reading this vague stuff? Fear not, we are going to look at it all here. But the bottom line is, thus far, we are often told that “health care reform” is of vital importance in our country. Nothing more than a listing of a few statistics that seem to support such a claim are offered. So let’s first look at the claims:

Let me start out by saying that statistics are such a valuable tool to those attempting to sway opinion. For the fact is that no matter the subject, you can come up with statistics that will support whichever side you want to support. Statistics are both vital and worthless, because they are most often used in the world of politics without any context or explanation. They are framed in the worst or best possible way and are more focused on creating a talking point than being accurate. The only way to actually evaluate statistics is to dig deeper and evaluate where they came from, how they were gotten, and whether what they are saying actually leads to the conclusion they are supporting.

There are 45.7 million Americans unable to afford health care or without health care (depends on which speech you listen to)

Patently false in my opinion. This number (usually rounded to 46 million) is offered by politicians throughout the Democratic Party, and President Obama himself. From a town hall meeting in New Hampshire:

“Now, health insurance reform is one of those pillars that we need to build up that new foundation,” said President Barack Obama. “I don’t have to explain to you that nearly 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance coverage today. In the wealthiest nation on Earth, 46 million of our fellow citizens have no coverage. They are just vulnerable. If something happens, they go bankrupt, or they don’t get the care they need.”

Uninsured CartoonI had to dig a lot to find truth about this. Politifact and many others offer the reality on part of the issue, and that is non-citizens. This number came from the U.S. Census Bureau, which releases estimates of the uninsured yearly. The 46 million estimate is for 2007, and the data was released in 2008. (The 2008 data are scheduled for release on Sept. 10, 2009.) This data from the US Census bureau does break down easily. According to that same report, 9.7 million of that 46 million are non-citizens. That means they are not entitled to free health care under this bill, and illegal immigrants are NOT covered under the current proposals (more on this when we talk about the myths). So what we are really talking about at this point is 36 million Americans.

But not so fast… what of the stated rebuttal that another 10 million of the uninsured are folks who CAN afford insurance, but do not purchase it by their own decision, not because they are unable. They choose to not have health insurance. According to, about 9.1 million of the uninsured have household incomes greater than $75,000, and 10% (about 4.7 million) make more than 400% of the federal poverty threshold, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. In 2007, the most recent year of Census statistics, a family of four at 400% of the poverty level would have a household income of $84,812 or more. Another report from the Census Bureau itself shows that “18 million of the uninsured have annual household income of more than $50,000, which puts them in the top half of the income distribution. About a quarter of the uninsured have been offered employer-provided insurance but declined coverage.”

Clinton Obama HC ReformAdditionally, many of the uninsured already are eligible for public coverage. The National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation found that in 2006, 12 million of the uninsured were eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (formerly SCHIP) but were not enrolled. There are a multitude of reasons why this could be, including not being aware of the program or trouble understanding how to enroll. But it is worth noting that despite the claims, the option for health coverage for these 12 million IS available already.

With all those detractions from the actual numbers, it is also important to remember that the number released for 2008 (in a couple of weeks) will likely be larger, with the subsequent year being even larger than that. This is because as unemployment grows, the ranks of uninsured is sure to grow as well, as much health coverage is provided by employers.

The bottom line is that this 45.7 million number is fatally flawed and being presented as fact with no disclaimers when there are apparently a plethora of other relevant data sets that are not included in the claims made in support of health care reform. At this point there is no way to accurate come up with the “real” number to anyone’s satisfaction. The fact remains, however, that there are a large amount of uninsured in the US. But I don’t believe that the number is as big as those in favor of reform are claiming, or as small as what those opposed are claiming either. My guess is that the number probably falls in the 10-15 million area, which would be, at most, 5% of the population.  Not quite the same as the nearly one in six that the liars… err politicians, are claiming.

Average Life Expectancy Numbers Prove the US Health Care System is broken

I see this one a lot. I have yet to hear a liberal argument about health care that did not have this little tidbit thrown in as proof positive that either a) our system sucks OR b) their system is better. So first, where are we really on the scale of countries in terms of life expectancy? Two big sources exist that I have read. The CIA provides stats on this. According to them, Macau (China) is #1, at 84.36 years. Some notables on the list above the US include Japan (#3, 82.12), Canada (#6, 81.23), France (#7, 80.98), Sweden (#10, 80.86), and the United Kingdom (#36, 79.01). The United States comes in at number 50 on that list with an A.L.E. of 78.11. If you only count UN member states, the CIA lists us as #36.

The United Nations report had some variation to the data. The ten countries with the highest A.L.E. in their report:

  1. Japan – 82.6
  2. China, Hong Kong SAR – 82.2
  3. Iceland – 81.8
  4. Switzerland – 81.7
  5. Australia – 81.2
  6. Spain – 80.9
  7. Sweden – 80.9
  8. Israel – 80.7
  9. China, Macao SAR – 80.7
  10. France – 80.7

HC Black PresidentThe United States ranks #38 on the United Nations list. The source material for both lists are at the bottom of the article, but I warn you that the United Nations link is a long PDF document that took me about an hour and a half to read. And the charts are not as simple to interpret as I have made them seem here.

However some of those same reports offer data that seems to contradict the claims by those who would use statistics to bolster their arguments. For example, the UN report states clearly that the US is second in the world in terms of the number of persons aged 80 and over: “In 2005, 15.4 million lived in China, 10.6 million in the United States and 7.8 million in India. In 2050, those countries will still have the largest numbers of persons aged 80 or over: 103 million in China, 51 million in India and 31 million in the United States.” While our life expectancy is not as high as some other countries, we are second in the world in terms of the sheer number of folks our system manages to get past the age of 80. And that says something good about our system.

There are also many other mitigating factors out there that they don’t bother to tell you when they are throwing around how horrible the health care system is based on A.L.E.. For example, Professor of Economics at Harvard, Greg Mankiw, writing for the New York Times, wrote an article giving further data to some of these numbers. He addressed the claim that Canada has higher life expectancy than the US, which is true, but it doesn’t take into account the reasons why that might be. He offers some data from the same study that provided the stats politicians got that claim from:

For example, Americans are more likely than Canadians to die by accident or by homicide. For men in their 20s, mortality rates are more than 50 percent higher in the United States than in Canada, but the O’Neills show that accidents and homicides account for most of that gap. Maybe these differences have lessons for traffic laws and gun control, but they teach us nothing about our system of health care.

He continues:

Americans are also more likely to be obese, leading to heart disease and other medical problems. Among Americans, 31 percent of men and 33 percent of women have a body mass index of at least 30, a definition of obesity, versus 17 percent of men and 19 percent of women in Canada. Japan, which has the longest life expectancy among major nations, has obesity rates of about 3 percent.

Obese Health CareThe point here is that there are many different factors that have an impact on the life expectancy of Americans versus the rest of the world. But the politicians certainly don’t want to “bother” you with the details that might “cloud” your judgement when assessing the need for health care reform. This might explain why some facts about the American health care system are ignored by politicians in their speeches.For example:

  • Cancer Survival Rates are higher in the US than anywhere in the world. According to a WebMD article, a new study shows the U.S., Japan, and France recorded the highest survival rates among 31 nations for four types of cancer (breast, colon, rectum, or prostate cancer). The study did not the racial disparity in cancer survival within the US, however. A racial gap in survival was evident, with white patients more likely than blacks to survive, especially breast cancer.
  • As a matter of comparison, the US health care system is often compared to the UK’s NHS. Experts from the National Cancer Institute and the Departments of Urology at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Kansas agreed that the latest official figures for five-year “survivability” rates for men diagnosed with prostate cancer are around 98 per cent in the United States and 74 per cent in England.
  • According to a Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health in 2003, 86.9% of Americans reported being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their health care services, compared to 83.2% of Canadians.

The United States Spends More money for health care with less results than the rest of the world.

Cuba Health CareWell, the less results portion of this statement is certainly up for debate, as the previous section pointed out. However, the fact that the United States spends more money for health care is not up for debate. That is a bona-fied fact. Current figures estimate that spending on health care in the U.S. is about 16% of its GDP. In 2007, an estimated $2.26 trillion was spent on health care in the United States, or $7,439 per capita. Health care costs are rising faster than wages or inflation, and the health share of GDP is expected to continue its upward trend, reaching 19.5 percent of GDP by 2017. As a proportion of GDP, government health care spending in the United States is greater than in most other large western countries. Additionally, a substantial portion is paid by private insurance. A recent study found that medical expenditure was a significant contributing factor in 60% of personal bankruptcies in the United States. We spend a lot of money on health care, of that there is no debate.

What is debatable, however, is the cause of the rising costs of health care. Currently, the proponents of health care reform would blame the insurance companies, which if true would bolster the cause of health insurance reform, which the debate has now switched to. However, in my opinion, this is a flawed deduction. Health insurance, while in the private market is done for profit, has its evils and its struggles with morality. However, costs are another thing altogether. Health insurance is so costly because of the costs of providing health care, not because of some immoral practice of the health insurance providers. According to the Wikipedia article on health care reform, the factors involved are the absence of government price controls, enforcement of intellectual property rights limiting the availability of generic drugs until after patent expiration, and the monopsony purchasing power seen in national single-payer systems.

Bennett editorial cartoonI have to say that I agree with some of those factors being a contributing factor in the equation. However, I am not willing to lay all of that at the feet of pharmaceutical companies or others in the health care industry. Because I would contend that one major factor in the increase in the costs of health care in the United States is government intervention. Funny how proponents of reform leave that part out of the equation. Let’s first look at the “price gouging” pharmaceutical industry.

We are quick to denounce this industry. However, while they certainly chase profits with the best of industries, few are willing to admit the costs piled on the industry by government. The cost of developing a drug is the result of several stages in the development process. These stages include Drug discovery/product development, pre-clinical research(microorganisms/animals), Clinical trials (on humans), Data Assessment, and Marketing. This does not include the costs of production or delivery. A 2006 study, which was in line with 4 other studies I read, estimated that the cost of drug development is between $500 Million and $2 Billion per drug. Mrs. Weapon is a Project Manager in a Pharmaceutical Clinical Research Organization. She oversees studies for the clinical trials (on humans) portion of this process. In other words, she runs the trials and gets drugs FDA approved. So drug development is an area that is well discussed in this household.

FDA Conflict of InterestsThey spend millions on meeting FDA requirements alone. Would you be surprised to know that the FDA requires that once the database is closed the amount of data, printed out to be sent to the FDA, fills an entire 53 foot Tractor Trailer? How’s that for bureaucracy? The companies like my wife’s who do the trials are constantly having to reinvent their processes and procedures each year. FDA regulations are extremely vague. And each year the FDA has some “hot button” issue that is the focus for the year. For example one year the entire focus of FDA audits is informed consent documents. The following year it may be drug tracking documents. The FDA actually assigns a consultant to these companies to explain how last year’s procedures are irrelevant because this year’s focus will now be x. Add to this the multiple layers of trials that must be done, Phase 1 through Phase 4, and these costs get piled on each phase. It is easy to see how the costs add up quickly in drug development.

And speaking of intellectual property laws “being enforced” as a cause. Keep in mind that once that drug gets to market, the patent, which is on average for 7 years from the time of submission (before testing begins), is the only time that these companies have in order to sell enough drug at the right price to recoup the 500 million to 2 billion dollars they spent on developing the drug. And did I mention that they also spend that much regardless of whether the drug gets approved or not. Care to take a guess at how many drugs that start this process make it? I offer the following comments from a chemist in the industry discussing the situation:

  • 38% of the drugs taken in the the clinic dropped out in Phase I (safety / blood levels.)
  • 60% of those remaining failed in Phase II (basic efficacy.)
  • 40% of the remaining candidates failed in Phase III (big, expensive efficacy.)
  • And 23% of the ones that made it through the clinic failed to be approved by the FDA.
  • The other thing to keep in mind is that the money spent on these things grows terribly along the way. A failure in Phase I isn’t pretty, considering the time and money spend in the preclinical period (aka: what I spend all my working life doing.) But a failure in Phase III or at FDA time is a financial disaster.

    You can do the math as quickly as I can: that translates to about a 11% success rate from starting in the clinic. And consider that for someone like me, back in the research labs, a successful program is one that makes it to Phase I. It’s no wonder that so few medicinal chemists have ever worked on a drug that’s made it all the way to market!

FDA Ministry of Truth11%. How disgusting is that? One in ten. So that means that in those 7 years of a successful drug, the company owning the patent has to recoup the $500 Million-$2 Billion for the development of that drug along with the same costs for the other 9 drugs that failed and will never make them a dime. The US is the number one drug development company in the world. And that comes at a great cost. Yes, Canada offers cheaper drugs. Then again, they are not the ones paying to develop that drug, they are only paying the 3 cents a pill to make it once everything else has already been done. Given this situation, it makes Black Flag’s argument that “ideas aren’t property” even more bizarre to me than they were originally.

Health Care costs are also driven up by things such as liability insurance. The reward for trying to save someone’s life is that if you cannot do it, you get sued in today’s America. Private practices in the US pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in liability insurance. You want your health care costs to come down? How about enacting tort reform. But we won’t see that happening anytime soon. Too much money being made by lawyers, who are powerful campaign contributors (or members of Congress themselves). More on tort reform later. When your hometown doctor is paying $200k a year in liability insurance, is it any wonder that he has to charge you $5 for a tongue depressor?

As for a lack of government price controls… I would address that but it is an idea so ridiculous that I cannot even see the merit in addressing it.

Emergency Care Provided to Those Without Insurance is the cause of Cost Increases

I have seen this one bantered about lately. I won’t go into depth on this one. I can agree that illegal aliens or those poor without insurance are increasing costs because the taxpayer has to pick up their tab. What is baffling to me is the argument that the answer to taxpayers being stuck with the tab for this care after it is offered is to have taxpayers pick up the cost of this care before it is offered. A bizarre argument. “Instead of you guys paying more because of their emergency medical bills, we would like you to pay for their health insurance so that you can pay for the emergency stuff AND their routine stuff.” GREAT! Where can I sign up for that screwover!?


I can understand the claims of needing health care reform. I am not yet convinced that it is as dire a situation as the Democrats would have us believe. But I am willing to listen to reason and logic. Any other course of action would be, well, illogical. However, I do not believe that we need health care reform on the national level in the way that is being proposed. The health care reform proposed so far will be covered in depth through the rest of this series. But this part was about whether or not the national emergency really exists.

Health Care DebateThe bottom line for me is that when discussing the “need” for a national health care system, both sides of the aisle are offering facts and figures that are complete nonsense. The arguments above are given to us as the “undisputed facts” around the health care system, and clear evidence that we must act to reform health care now. It is a “national emergency”. Well, I don’t think that it is. I know that some of you will fall on the other side of the fence. I challenge you to come to this debate with an open mind.

Let’s drop the partisanship here. Let’s stop throwing around statistics that are not telling the entire story. Let’s stop simply trying to prove we are right and our opponents are wrong. Let’s discuss whether the state of the United States Health Care Industry is really in an “emergency” situation. Let’s discuss whether it is “insurance reform” that is a plausible path towards betterment of the system, whether in dire need or not. Let’s stop pretending that serving the “greater good” is what we are attempting to do. Serving the greater good at the expense of liberty or another’s wealth is never actually serving any good at all. I earn my wealth with my own labor and smarts. Convince me that the need is dire, and that your solution is plausible and sustainable, and I am more than happy to help and voluntarily contribute to making things better. Let’s stop throwing the rhetoric around on both sides of this issue, and begin to have an honest talk about whether we should be reforming health care at all at this point. That is the focus of discussion in Part 1.


Health Care Fact Check: 46 million uninsured – The Denver Post

PolitiFact | Number of those without health insurance about 46 million

The ‘Real’ Uninsured |

CIA – The World Factbook — Country Comparison :: Life expectancy at birth

Beyond Those Health Care Numbers – New York Times

Cancer Survival Rates Vary by Country

Rudy Wrong On Cancer Survival Chances – Fact Checker

Table 7. Satisfaction with health care and physician services, Canada and United States, 2002 to 2003

Health care reform in the United States – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Drug Development: The Current Odds. In the Pipeline:


  1. It is late here, after midnight. I have been trying my best to get through this posting, but have not succeeded. However, what I have read has been covering the COST of our health care insurance.

    What drives up insurance rates are the rates that Doctors charge, and Doctors rates are not only driven by the costs of their overhead (the cost of doing business is employees, their offices, etc.), but by the rapidly rising cost of malpractice insurance. Not every doctor is guilty of malpractice, but the lawyers of this country would have you think so and as a result the Doctors malpractice insurance goes up at an ever increasing rate.

    I, personally, do not think the health care system needs any kind of reform. I do, however, believe our legal system needs an overhaul in the tort reform area.

    We just have way too many lawyers out there, and Tom Sawyer was right when he alluded to the fact that the more lawyers you have in the barrel, the more the apples get rotten.

    • Government Corruption says:

      We hear the screaming wild orangutans out there making noise about WHAT? Don’t touch my health insurance, government keep your hands off my health-care, Socialist health care does not work, Obamacare sucks, etc…blah, blah blah.

      If those who have this compelling need to be LOYAL to TOP executives of an Insurance industry that does absolutely ZERO to heal those in need, instead they rack in MULTI-MILLIONS in SALARY, BONUSES, PERKS, and make MULTI-BILLIONS ($14 BILLION 2nd QTR2009) in profiting from denying coverage
      to their policy holders and “just saying NO” to doctors’ recommendations for care. These are the loyalist that are okay with the HIGH PREMIUMS and out of pocket expenses– then by ALL means, we say, KEEP your healthcare insurance! You must maintain your LOYAL STATUS, of course.

      As for myself, like many millions of other Americans that want a SOCIALIST/Government run SINGLE PAYER Health Care program in place, WHY can’t we have it? Why, are we then FORCED by the Insurance industry and the WHORES in the legislative branch & FOOLS that cry to give in to this SCAM FOR PROFIT? The whole idea of CAPITALISM is COMPETITION; HOW can we have competition within a MONOPOLY?

      FierceHealthcare reports the following top 10 CEO salaries for 2008.

      * Ron Williams – Aetna – Total Compensation: $24,300,112.
      * H. Edward Hanway – CIGNA – Total Compensation: $12,236,740.
      * Angela Braly – WellPoint – Total Compensation: $9,844,212.
      * Dale Wolf – Coventry Health Care – Total Compensation: $9,047,469.
      * Michael Neidorff – Centene – Total Compensation: $8,774,483.
      * James Carlson – AMERIGROUP – Total Compensation: $5,292,546.
      * Michael McCallister – Humana – Total Compensation: $4,764,309.
      * Jay Gellert – Health Net – Total Compensation: $4,425,355.
      * Richard Barasch – Universal American – Total Compensation: $3,503,702.
      * Stephen Hemsley – UnitedHealth Group – Total Compensation: $3,241,042.

      I, for one, do not wish to contribute to some insurance exec or company that profits from HUMAN pain & suffering (as a Christian, I know Jesus would be disgusted); INSTEAD,I want my money going to pay the salaries that will support the Specialist down to the orderly over to the development/research/technology and other PERTINENT departments that contribute to the full healing process. With the funds that may accumulate, we can pay incentives, BONUSES & PERKS to those that have done an excellent job (reward by merit and accountability), increase funds for extensive health care recruiting, education, training, and more clinics and hospital facilities.

      Now that is progress, and that is AMERICAN!

    • I am most curious this morning Bob as to why you posted these graphs.

      In your mind are they supposed to be a reflection of something relevant?

      Please tell us what it is you think they tell.

      • Well I thought I would not have to explain them, they are fairly simple but if you need an explanation. The first graph shows that expenditure on health care in the US is almost double that of most of the developed countries in the world.
        The second graph shows that you spend the most but are ranked lower on life expectancy than most developed countries. Something tells me you arent getting your moneys worth. Need anything more?

        • Well, I did discuss both of those things in the article. I think we are getting our money’s worth.

          • Again you are spending almost double on health care costs per person in the US and you still are not covering everyone no matter how you want to twist the uninsured number. Even if you did factor in the car accidents and violent crime and did the same for the other countries where would it place the US in regards life expectancy? Australians have a higher percentage of obesity but they have a longer lifespan, why is that?

            With the amount of money you spend you guys should be #1 in almost every statistic and be able to cover everyone.

            • But the graphs you provided don’t support your claim Bob.

              In fact they show little correlation between per capita expenditure and life expectancy.

              If we reduced our expenditures to that of Cuba we would have almost the same life expectancy. The $/person/yr would drop dramatically.

              This data makes a nice talking point but doesn’t support those points.

              In fact one could conclude that by spending less on health care we can increase our life expectancy.

              • Or there is something very odd about how much you are being charged in the US for your health care costs. The point of the graphs is to show you that countries are spending less on health care but getting better results, the point of the graphs is to ask why are your health costs so high?

                • As USW pointed out in the article, there ae many factors that affect life expectancy. I would argue that some, such as diet, have a much greater relevance to life expectancy than healthcare expenditure.
                  First year statistics teaches that correlation does not imply causation. A smarter [statistical] approach to this debate would be to identify the variables affecting life expectancy and then running a multiple regression equation (also first year statistics) to determine which one has the greatest impact. THEN try to affect that variable.
                  Sorry, silly me, I’m expecting logic and reason from politicians. LOL

              • Black Flag says:

                None of the above.

                Life Expectancy is reverse correlated to prosperity!

                A drop in the economy = longer life!

                Bad Economy Means Less Death


            • Based on my experience auditing government in the US, government cost figures are usually unreliable. Accounting standards are different and often not followed and audits to determine compliance with standards are infrequent. Costs of capital items (buildings, equipment, etc.) are often omitted as are other costs.

              I wouldn’t trust the numbers.

  2. USW,

    You gave a good explaination of what it takes to get a drug to market. I’m guessing most folks haven’t thought of that.

    I’m no expert on the problem. I don’t think we have a crisis, just a problem. I don’t trust Obama, his czars and both parties in Congress to fix anything in favor of the American people. I challenge them to earn my trust. A good start would be to fix the problems with the VA and Medicare. Once they have that functioning smoothly and efficiently, then they could apply the lessons learned to the overall system. If it isn’t about grabbing more power and wealth, they should start small by demonstrating competence with what they already control. Until they do that, I just can’t support them.

    • Cyndi,

      Great points! I do not think they could convince me this is not about grabbing more power. Like you said, if they wanted to fix anything, they would not have started where they did.

      Hold it, you want the government to demonstrate competence? Hahahahah

  3. USW, Great start about a controversial subject. I’ll be doing some deep thinking as I read along throughout the day. Congrats on the new Pooch, they are the best, I have two myself.


  4. USW…thank you for the post. It is full of information that will take some digesting, but a great start. Debate IS what is needed without political wrangling and trying to convince each other whom is correct.

    As far as our system is now? I believe that health care needs to be reformed. I disagree with the methodology that is currently being bandied about. I think a strong look is needed in where to begin vs do we need to begin. I think everyone agrees we need to begin but no one seems to know where. As you know, to attack an objective is not merely “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”. Sound tactics do not support an artillery barrage and then pick up the pieces. Sound tactics means to identify the problems, mitigate the troubled areas, and THEN if an artillery barrage is needed, it is only needed on that area.

    Health care is expensive. That is the largest argument that I hear. Not coverage. So, it seems logical to me to focus and the expense side first. Is it R&D? Is it proprietary products? Is it malpractice? Is it high insurance costs? I would suggest that the initial discovery start with tort reform to alleviate the most obvious costs.

    Side Note to you: I would think that part of your coverage would be delving into the Veterans Health coverage through that system. Since I am dependent upon that system and I am fully immersed in it, I would be happy to be a front or help in your research. The DFW area has a Veterans Hospital and Veterans Clinics. I have had extensive experience in both and this is government run…top to bottom. I stand ready to assist, should you desire.

    Have a great day.


  5. Richmond Spitfire says:

    Excellent Article USWeapon…

    Posting to receive emailed comments.

    Best Regards to all,

  6. Black Flag says:

    Any good/service priced lower than its cost will eventually be exhausted

    • Not to mention it will bankrupt its seller.

    • I wonder, Mr. Flag, regardless of your obvious stance on the matter at hand, do you view that illegal aliens should be treated differently under the law than citizens? That is, if you were ok* with universal health care, would you be for or against including them under the umbrella?

      *Yes, I know you’re not ok with it, use your imagination

      • Black Flag says:


        “Under the law….” — under the Natural Law of Men, what is the difference between men and why should they be treated differently?

        So, no – they are human beings with 100% of the same human rights as you.

        You mean if I had a lobotomy?

        If the lobotomy turned me into a Socialist, then give it to them – they are poor, starving souls who left their country for ours looking for a handout, so give it to them (ie: tax-eaters don’t mind more at the trough)

        If the lobotomy turned me into a Fascist, then shoot them at the border! They are scum, stealing my taxes (ie: tax-feeders need to limit the number at the trough)

        • No need for the lobotomy.. it could be something as simple as you being kicked in the head by a mule

          • Will veterinarians be covered in the new health reform? That mule is going to need serious treatment of its poor hoof. Be a lot easier on it to have it kick something not so hard, like a concrete wall.

            Sorry Flag, couldn’t resist.

            • That poor mule.. I would put it down, but I have no right to impose violence on it. I cannot infringe on the liberty of others.

  7. USW

    Thats a whole lot of information. I had heard a bunch of it previously, I think I even read a lot of the same things you did. You are attacking the situation too logically – you cannot win in politics like that. You have to attack with emotions or you just cannot succeed.

    I also agree with your viewpoint on statistics – you can make them say anything you want.

    A few things that I found out:

    Life expectancy and infant mortality rates tend to come from data that is supplied voluntarily by the country to the UN or WHO. So its a question of how honest you want to be when reporting. Also, with infant mortality each country can define the term infant in any way they want. For some countries its 1 week but for the USA its 1 year. So we tend to look bad on almost all statistics concerning infant mortality.

  8. All too often we face a “crisis” (whether it truly is or not) by having our politicians come up with a plan. Opponents to the plan are labeled as not wanting to solve the crisis. I don’t support a national health care, but I do support some reform. That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s a problem. Just something to think about.

    I have two points for now.

    One: As far as high costs for emergency care go, the President, himself, has said that that practice (no insurance needed) will not stop. This means that the illegals you listed as well as though who do not realize how to sign up for a government option (however many that will be) will still be sucking up dollars in this way. It doesn’t seem like an effective argument to say that this is a major cost when it will still happen.

    Two: As I’ve stated before, it seems odd to me to demand that companies (like pharmaceutical companies) charge less. No pre-existing conditions, etc. Well it seems to me like if you make these government mandates that the companies may not be able to afford it. There is a reason that prices are high. It is foolish to expect the problem to go away by mandating lower prices. You must treat the source of the problem.

    Tear away (I know you will 🙂 ).

    • For point #1, I offer a hypothetical scenario. Imagine there were an individual with no coverage. He has hypothyroidism but doesn’t know it. This individual doesn’t go to get himself checked out because he is not experiencing any severe symptoms (just some minor lethargy, possibly weight gain). After 15 years, his untreated hypothyroidism leads to full blown Hashimoto Thyroiditis. Now he has an autoimmune disease – his body is literally attacking his own thyroid. But he isn’t too symptomatic yet, and besides, the doctor is so expensive – maybe, he thinks, whatever this is will just pass. But soon, he’s experiencing muscle failure, tremors, psychosis, and siezures. Now he goes to the doctor. He has to have his thyroid removed, steroid treatments, and immunosuppressants. His bill comes to $27,823.16* and $394.72/mo* – plus he will never never be able to sign up for an affordable plan because of his pre-existing condition. He has less than $1,912.04* in his bank account and declares bankruptcy. You, Jake, get stuck with the bill. Conversely, imagine the same individual has cheap and easy access to health care. At a routine doctors appointment, he mentions the weight gain and lethargy, so the doctor decides to order a T-4 blood test ($10 co-pay / $140 insurance*). The doctor then proscribes levothyroidoxin ($15/mo co-pay, $85 insurance*). End of story.

      All this is just a very long winded way of saying that a pound of prevention is worth a metric ton of after-the-fact treatments. Making health care affordable and easily accessible not only keeps people healthy, but keeps costs down.

      *I’m making these numbers up. They’re purely hypothetical, but they’re probably on the right order of magnitude.

      • I’m not sure how this addresses my point. While it is a very good point. The one I am making is the fact that you can go to an ER without insurance for free, which will not change with the plan.

        I’m all for affordable and easily accessible health care.

      • But for that one individual, there will be thousands who go for preventative care who don’t even have a sniffle. I would be curious to see what the numbers would crunch out to be…

      • Good Morning Matt:

        Of course you have constructed a false hypothetical to rationalize your social views.

        Your conclusion is not supported by your own example.

        “This individual doesn’t go to get himself checked out because he is not experiencing any severe symptoms (just some minor lethargy, possibly weight gain).”

        So the cost of a simple check up was irrelevant, wasn’t it. Just as it was for those who are now driving up the cost of medical care 20 to 30 years after ignoring their health.

        Hope you had a good weekend.

        • He doesn’t go because his simple symptoms aren’t severe enough to justify the cost. And, for the record, the individual we’re talking about here is me – I’m hypothyroid, this is what happened to me. I take synthroid (non-generic levothyroxine). What happened to the hypothetical person is what the doc told me happens occasionally to people who don’t get themselves checked.

          Making preventative medicine easier and cheaper to obtain makes emergency care rarer and cheaper to obtain. For consideration, think about never changing the oil in your car then having to replace the transmission versus getting it changed every 3k miles. One costs you $40 every few months, one costs you 1,000’s after a few years.

          • The point, which you keep ignoring, is that “preventitive medicine” is affordable and easy to obtain to the vast majority of folks in this country. A check up or physical is not that expensive.

            It is going to be getting worse however as the number of GP’s shrinks in response to govt interference in the system.

          • I see, but no, I disagree.. it’s affordable for those of us with insurance. It’s a small co-pay. How many schlubbs out there want to pay $150 for a routine checkup? (maybe that’s not earth-shattering amounts of money, but when you have that or heat, it makes a big difference).

            As for it getting more expensive, I’m not qualified to speculate on those grounds.

            • Matt, my lefty friend you continue to create BS examples so I must throw the flag.

              Rhetoric is cheap but reality is actually available and affordable.

              I do not know a single poor person (I know alot of them) who has to choose between heat or meat and a checkup. The $150 dollar bill you mention is easily affordable to all. It comes down to other choices.

              And, ironically, if they did walk in with cash they would find some doctors willing to cut the cost of the check up.

              Your claim that such checkups are only affordable to those with insurance is a complete myth. You need to drop the talking point propoganda here and start really using some hard reasoning.

              As for the getting more expensive, the fact is there is a serious decline in General Practicioners in this country. That will either drive up cost or reduce availability, or both. Waiting lines will increase.

              Who is the doctor most go to with ear aches, sore throats, or the swine flu?

              Lets start looking for the real problems, then propose solutions that address those problems. For starters, health insurance as most want is an absolute waste of money. So why is our criteria that everyone needs health insurance that is a waste of money?

              • Wow, my very first BS flag.. that took a lot longer than I would have guessed..

                That said, I have argued repeatedly that I do not know the answers to the questions I pose. But I do know this. I am not poor. But I hesitate to go to the doctor unless I am confident that it is necessary because of the out of pocket cost – and I have health insurance. I do not know what “poor people” you know, but you say that it is a question of other choices, I say that that it shouldn’t be. Health care should be cheap and readily available to everyone.

                Does that mean that the current health care reform being posed is the solution? No. Do I know what the right answer is? No. But I do know that a problem definitely exists. For you to claim otherwise costs you all credibility on the matter. 60% of all bankruptcies in the US are health care related. 60%. And you would say that this is because people “choose” to spend their money on something other than a checkup? (In the interest of fairness, I will acknowledge that there is a certain amount of doctor-phobia, and inconvenience which may also be dragging down the rate at which people go to the doctor, but cost is almost certainly there as well – it is for me).

                • Matt:

                  “60% of all bankruptcies in the US are health care related. 60%.”

                  Even this is NOT true.

                  Can’t find right now but recent study of the study that reached this conclusion showed that most would have reached bankruptcy without medical costs. They were already upside down when a medical expense came along.

                  Some of the medical expenses were not even that great, if they hadn’t already been upside down.

                • See Below Mathius

              • By the way, I spend $100 at the pharmacy this weekend getting my alergy and thyroid medicine. That’s $100/month, or $1,200/year. WITH insurance. I shudder to think what it would cost without insurance. Poor people “choose” this?

            • I’d say a $150 check-up bill is quite cheap. Much less than paying for insurance!

              • Just making up numbers, it could easily be $300 or $450 when you start to include lab tests. Then again, it could be $100,000 since I’m just making up numbers as I go along..

          • Richmond Spitfire says:

            Hi Matt,

            I’m hypothyroid too.

            It used to be that you really had to stay with the brand of medication that you were taking for the rest of your life (small differences in formulas)…For example…if you had been taking Synthroid, you should stay on Synthroid; if taking Levoxyl, you should stay on Levoxyl…

            A couple of years ago, the FDA made a ruling that it was okay to change — that the formula differences weren’t great enough.

            I’m on 212 mcg of levothyroxine….Since the pills don’t come in that dosage, I have to get two prescriptions.

            I had my doctor write my prescription for 90 pills on 200 mcg and 90 pills on 25 mcg (I cut them in half).

            I get my scripts filled at Walmart for $10 each. One is good for three months, the other for six months. So, in a year, I pay $60 for my thyroid medications. I pay it out of pocket as it is cheaper than my insurance.

            I really see (and feel) no difference from when I was on the Synthroid.

            My thyroid was all whacked out … TSH was over 150 — my doctor told me that she was glad to see me back to the living… The whack-out was due to my own issues of not taking care of myself (ie. forgetting to take meds, forgetting to get the scripts refilled, nasty divorce, etc.). I felt horrible!!!!! Had no energy, would pray for bedtime to come around so that I could shuttle the kids off to bed and fall into my own bed asleep as I hit the mattress. In addition, I have Hashimoto’s — no big deal…Auto-immune disease runs in my family; my 19-year old is hypothyroid, as is my Mom; I’m watching my two younger children closely for symptoms.

            Also, have you had your cholesterol checked…Thyroid issues will whack that out too.

            Finally, I totally understand your left thinking — a thyroid can cause a loss of cognitive thinking! lol and just kidding with you!

            😉 (wish they had a smiley face with the tongue sticking out).

            Take care and best regards,

            • RS,

              Perhaps you should investigate a progesterone imbalance and bio-identical hormone therapy.

              I’m no doctor – however, in my research, there seems to be a very large resistance in the medical community to test for such things.

              The issues may extend deeper than thyroid – you may be very susceptible to osteoporosis. The lack of short term memory was really the highlight – combined with the hyperthyroid – makes me very suspicious.

              Anyway, something to investigate – I can point to some info if you’re interested.

              • Richmond Spitfire says:

                Hi Black Flag,

                Yes, please do point me in the right direction.

                I also recently test positive for Rheumatoid Arthritis. I see my father’s Rheumatologist in October…Perhaps this is something that I can talk with the doctor about — but, as you state doctors are set in their ways!

                Many thanks!

                • Our personal doctor was not competent of bio-identical (and admitted such) and directed us to a doctor who was…. so its important to ‘shop around’ for a competent advocate doctor.

                  The studies I’ve researched have shown that almost all of your symptoms are a consequence of a hormone deficiency – though I don’t know how old you are, if you’re over 45 it is even more likely that this is the case.

                  It made a MASSIVE difference to my mother – who suffered very severe osteoporosis – she lost 95% of her bone mass (so fragile that she shattered her hip by merely walking), and it recovered to 60% loss in less than a year.

                • R.S.

                  Another thing for you to consider is vitamin K2 (MK-7). It is suppose to send calcium to the bones where it belongs. Word is that it takes it out of arteries and redeposits it. As for B.F.s info on bio identical stuff, Suzanne Sommers has done a lot of work on that and written a book(s). I have heard her speak on TV a few times and she seems to know what she is talking about.

      • Mathius,

        You fall victim to one of the primary myths of the health care debate, that preventive care saves money. You must think in the aggregate. For any one individual that experiences a major health problem the cost of prevention certainly beats the cost, monetary and otherwise, of treating the full-blown problem. Across society as a whole this argument doesn’t hold up. Consider this hypothetical: Disease X occurs in every 1 of 1000 people. Early detection and treatment costs $100 per person. Late stage treatment costs $50,000. Thus, for every 1000 people prevention costs $100,000 whereas Late stage treatment costs $50,000.

        These numbers are, obviously, fabricated but numerous peer reviewed studies show the general pronciple to be true for most diseases. This is a generally accepted fact in the medical community.

        Now, an argument could certainly be made that society should bear the additional cost of preventive care for humanitarian reasons. Just don’t fall for the myth that preventive care saves money.

        Hope you enjoyed your long weekend.

  9. I think that before we begin Health Care Reform, we need to stop the grandstanding and outright lies by the Parties out to get their own agendas pushed through.

    I know that Health Care Reform is needed. Of that there is no doubt. The question to me is what kind? Do we need an overhaul of insurance responsibility? Do we need an overhaul of the Healthcare industry itself? Do we need to require it or not?

    IMO these questions have not been answered, so therefore, until they are, nothing needs to be done. The biggest question to my mind is whether or not we as a nation can even AFFORD to fo this. With all the other financial problem in this Country, can we afford to add 1.8 Trillion to it? My answer would be NO.

    Maybe wait until we can pull ourselves out of this recession FIRST and worry about new programs after. And if we DON’T pull out of it, why then we have bigger problems than health care don’t we?

  10. USW: “However, the fact that the United States spends more money for health care is not up for debate. That is a bona-fied fact.”

    I’m not so sure about that. Have you ever examined the way governments generally calculate costs (remember, governments run the system in most other countries)? I have. The are not reliable.

    We probably do spend more, but don’t rely on the figures to tell how much more.

  11. Greatergoodcs says:

    The crisis comes when a loss of insurance hits home. It hasn’t hit mine, yet one of my kids who just inherited a lot of money (something I’m against, by the way), refuses to pay for his own insurance (honestly, I think to spite me). There are far more who have lost their insurance coverage due to loss of jobs (and they are facing a crisis). For the rest of us, no, it isn’t a crisis, but maybe we should think in terms of others (that greater good theme again).

    Also, quality of life isn’t included in those statistics (and you’re right to point to the folly of using statistics exclusively). You also did a good job of being fair in your presentation (almost made it to the end before taking a swipe at the greater good theory ). But, quality of life for those without insurance or nearing the end of their insurance (the emotional pressure as well as the physical) is something that can’t be measured. People suffer just from the thought of losing their homes, insurance, etc. I suggest that in this country, at this time, with our wealth, no one should suffer that level of quality of life (they don’t have to live on a yacht with private nurse service, but they shouldn’t to worry about living in a tent and using witchdoctors).

    • An example of how our government will run healthcare, for the greater good.

      Try humming Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “That Smell” while watching.

      • Greatergoodcs says:

        That suggests to me that big money wrote the legislation; if contract bids were open and the fiasco was there for public viewing a lot of this abuse would go away. But so long as the education system (and everything else) is run by those with the advantages, nothing will get done. Those in power know it’s best to keep them ignorant of what’s going on …

        That is rank abuse and Stossel is great for pointing it out.

        • Do you really think ANY government run program will be any different? Look at everything they operate today, every program has to spend 100% of its budget or it will be cut the next year. There is no incentive for anyone in government to reduce their spending or waste. They don’t care about the cost, it’s not their money, it’s yours and mine.

          • Greatergoodcs says:

            So revamp the system. I’ll bet our gov’t is more wasteful than France’s or Holland’s. I hear what you’re saying and I’ve experienced it any number of times, but it can’t change so long as it is run by money for money.

            • PeterB in Indianapolis says:


              You would have to change the fact that the entire government is run by money for money before the government would be capable of any meaningful reform of the health-care system (which is also run by money for money).

              If the current government “reforms” healthcare, the majority of us will be poorer with poorer healthcare, while the rich will be even richer and be the only ones that can even access the “good” healthcare.

              Is that what we want?

  12. Ray Hawkins says:

    I can understand and appreciate how numbers can skew an argument one way or the other. Good work thus far – clearly written from a POV but am sure you had to do a lot of digging and reading to get here.

    A few random observations that your article jogged in my mind

    – I sorta get the pharma problems and issue – both my inlaws work in Pharma and there is a good chance they work for same company as Mrs. USW. Anyway – I would understand part of the process and resulting cost to be associated with risk mitigation. I’d be curious on data points for net safety for manufactured drugs that are a product of our system versus other systems in other countries.

    – An interesting spin would be to look at tort reform versus the drug approval process – would we expect to see increase in lawsuits after some period if we were to alter the FDA processes?

    – Perhaps there is bloat in FDA and they need their own high colonic. Anytime you talk reform people get nervous and territorial about their jobs. Would be interesting to see how operational reform there plays out.

    – Those w/o insurance – would be nice if there were some studies that add depth and context to the numbers. I know flying solo on insurance is not cheap – I had to live that nightmare with my son shortly after he was born.

    I am leaning more towards irrelevancy in the statistical arguments as largely mentioned herein. To me – they mostly amount to noise and distraction. I lean towards:

    (a) A single payer system – on the fence if this is quasi-governmental, 100% governmental or outsourced. Call me socialist or whatever you may, but I think healthcare from soup to nuts or from cradle to grave should be just as important to us as a nation as any notion of Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness. Hard to be free, enjoy life and pursue happiness if you’re digging in the sofa cushions to scrape together enough pocket change to pay for medicine. Sorry to be so simplistic and not quote Rand, Nietzsche (Friedrich or Ray – take your pick), or even Wile E. Coyote – but this puzzle of 1000000 pieces needs to become a puzzle of 100 pieces.

    (b) Extensive reform in the management and operation of supporting systems and processes such as FDA. You get my vote for single payer if I also see a system that is lean and mean – not full of bloat, bureaucratic b.s. and red tape. I take to heart USW’s conveyance of what Mrs. USW deals with – I hear the same thing from my in-laws – incrongruence in the development and manufacturing of pharmas due to a confusing, antiquated and broken approval and management process. My reforms also take a heavy heavy swing at patient health information – its security, its portability, and its efficiency of use. We are horrible at managing healthcare information and it costs us signifcant $$$ every year.

    (c) Any bill in its current form must be rejected – that’s right – I said it. Gone – goodbye. The Democrats screwed this up from day zero by taking single payer off the table. Now we’re left with a mess of bills that solve nothing, will create more red tape, and will end up as practices that are used to screw the very customers of the system. I also advocate that this is an instance, and there are few in my mind – where the ruling party, with its majority – should have ridden the orginal scope (e.g. single payer) across the finish line. Screw this b.s. notion of negotation and bi-partisanship. The right never even intended to play ball anyway (yes – you Chuck Grassley). It was a smoke screen to make it look like something was going to be done while they all continued to load their pockets with donor money. The bill should have be written up (single payer) and Dr J.’d through Congress and signed by POTUS after a 5 day review period (read: slam dunk). No inertia – just get it done.

    • “The Democrats screwed this up from day zero by taking single payer off the table.”

      Government not just the democrats screwed this up by not being able to properly manage and fund there exsisting social programs.

      Government screwed this up by showing that they cannot provide long term solutions to problems and instead they treat the symptoms instead of the deseases.

      If a single payer system is going to be enacted with the public’s assent, then the government is going to have to show they can handle the responsibility by fixing their current mistakes. The American people are not stupid (bad grammer and spelling aside). They do not want their healthcare ending up in the same state as social security and medicare currently are.

      • I think they’d be just fine with it if they had it.. the real problem is that they have no idea what it means and people fear the unknown. They’re told it’s socialism, they’re told it will kill granny, they don’t know, and I barely know, and I’ve been paying attention. Once a clear picture emerges, then the American people might have a viable opinion.. until then, I couldn’t care less what they think. Also, single payer, combined with the ability to collectively bargain, would be very interesting..

        • Just so I can follow please tell me what you mean by collectively bargain? I have not heard reference to that and I dont want to jump to conclusions about it.

        • Should have said just bargaining. The big O gave away the right of the new program to bargain down prices (or did he? It changes by the day)

          • My only other question is what happens when government decides that your industry or anyone else’s costs too much for the good of the public. Then creates a single payer system for that industry and begins to bargain with your costs of employment (wages)?

            • That depends? Is my industry vital to the physical well-being of the populous and I’m being criminally negligent in overcharging and using recision(sp?) to deny coverage? Image that we lived on the moon and there were companies that provided O2. I would be just fine if the government stepped in if they were using their power to overcharge me or deny me oxygen because I wasn’t cost-effective. No different – just slightly less blatant. This is something we’ve discussed elsewhere in the past few days.

              • Black Flag says:

                How can you determine “overcharge”?

                You are speaking of a economic pricing mechanisms – yet, government health care cannot provide such mechanism.

                Are you guessing based on what you merely want to pay? Well, I’d like to pay $1,000 for a Ferrari too!

                Enlighten me on how you determine “overpay”?

              • Any company I am forced to utilize or die, whose CEO makes an average of 14.3 MILLION dollars per year. Or is that that too arbitrary for you?

              • With the right statistics anything can be proved to meet your conditions. While you may not buy into the statistics presented at that time someone will, and then push for the government to take control.

                • 69.32% of statistics are made up

                  • LOL. Indeed they are, but that still does not lessen peoples capacity to put their trust in them. Todays health care fight is based off of statistics that dont show the whole picture. What will tomorrows statistics show? What will the government say is the next immediate threat to the populus? There is no defined creiteria to put a stop to it because statistics can always distort reality.

        • I have Medicare, sort of a single payer system. Fees to doctors are too low and payments are very slow, a year or more in many cases. Thus, I often have trouble finding a doctor who will accept Medicare.

          Fraud seems to be rampant because the government wants to hold down administrative costs. Some doctors “game” the system, performing (and charging for) as many services as they can to get more money.

          It is going broke as Obama often says and the only thing the government can think of to do is lower the fees paid to service providers.

          I would rather have traditional insurance even if it cost me more money. If this is what a single payer system would be like, forget it.

      • SOunds like Seed is mainly discussing the fact that the Government screws up every thing that they touch. So why SHOULD we trust them to get this right when they NEVER get anything right.

        Look at Medicare and Medicaid. Fix them first, then tell us that they can make a comprehensive, working health care plan that won’t cost us a fortune.

        Unlike some, I cannot afford to pay for someone else to have insurance. Would I if I could? YES Can I though? NO I pay my bills by the skin of my teeth as it is. I cannot afford to have my taxes raised to pay for others. Unless they can find a way for this to be revenue neutral, they can forget it.

        • That is exactly my point. Government sometimes resembles a child. You dont just give a child a huge responsibility until they have proven themselves with smaller responsibilities.

    • Bee in my Bonnet says:


      In Canada, we have a single payer system. There are many advantages but there are problems as well. Our wait times can be horrendous (depending on the procedure)and it does not pay for medicines so you may still be digging in the cushions for money, unless you have private insurance. Yes, we still have some form of private insurance with a single payer system.

      Would you be willing to pay for higher taxes for a single payer system? Because higher taxes will be an absolute necessity in order to have a single payer system despite what Obama and his cronies say. We pay higher taxes than you do in the US and our system is still unsustainable. There are calls to reform our health care system as well.

      It doesn’t sound like a single payer system is something that most Americans want. Do you advocate forcing something as important as this on the American citizens?

      • I have a perfect example!

        My grandmother has been having ear troubles, so her doctor wanted to have her get a CT scan. Being in Canada, it’s been 2 months and she is still waiting.

        My wife went to the doctor 2 weeks ago with headaches and dizziness. The doctor wanted a CT scan to check for major problems. Last Tuesday she had it done.

        2+ months vs 1 week. Something worth noting!

      • Black Flag says:

        A single-buyer monopoly carries the same defects and perversion as a single-supplier monopoly.

  13. Out of curiosity, associated costs aside, does anyone see a problem with the 89% failure rate of drug approval? It strikes me as a good think that so low a percentage of drugs are approved. It means we’re protected from the ineffectual and dangerous drugs (sure some slip through anyway, but that doesn’t mean the system is bad, people still die while wearing their seat belt, but that doesn’t mean you should not wear one).

    • I’m with you. It’s better to be too strict with these things to prevent any damages. I think it is a problem to make it so expensive to make these drugs though (not operating costs, just government costs). Not sure what the solution is, though. I’ll leave that to minds more suited to these things.

    • …but it also means that a lot of good drugs are denied. There has to be a middle point where good drugs get approved for less cost and bad drugs get denied before several billion dollars have been invested.

    • Matt,

      A good question. I have a problem with an 11% approval rate. There are trade-offs and side effects to taking any drug. I am fortunate that aspirinhas no effect on my stomach, but have a friend that cannot take it. I wonder if it could get FDA approval today? I also wonder how many people are suing drug makers for the side effects of a drug they would not be alive if they had not taken? Its interesting how many of the injuries these drugs do cannot be proven by medical tests, you know someone is in pain only because the say so, and the pain seems more severe after talking to their lawyer.

      “The suit filed by Michael Mazzariello, a 47-year-old New Yorker, says his use of statins — the family of cholesterol-lowering drugs to which Lipitor belongs — left him with debilitating muscle damage and extensive memory loss.

      “The complaint alleges that Pfizer promoted Lipitor as a safe drug with minimal health risks while failing to warn doctors and patients about Lipitor’s more dangerous side effects,” Krum tells WebMD. “No one is saying Lipitor does not work in reducing cholesterol. In most people it may be safe. But there are side effects such as those in the complaints filed on June 7. People are entitled to know.”

      With annual sales of about $12 billion, Lipitor is the world’s best-selling medicine. ”

      • I haven’t been able to find a total cost of lawsuits the drug companies have paid off to date, pretty sure its staggering.

        Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

        Jul. 15–With a trial date looming, four big drug makers yesterday tentatively agreed to pay $350 million to settle a massive price-fixing lawsuit that was brought several years ago by thousands of retail pharmacies across the country.

        The drug makers involved in the settlement, which must still be approved by a federal court judge, are Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc., Abbott Laboratories, Hoechst Marion Roussel Inc. and Rhone-Poulenc Rhorer Inc.

        By signing the pact, the drug makers agreed to settle charges they employed a two-tiered pricing system that favored managed-care companies and mail-order pharmacies. The drug …

      • I don’t see why that argues that we should allow more drugs through – it seems to me that it argues for tort reform (I come from a long line of lawyers, but I can still get behind this).

        • I have an Aunt that has a shellfish allergy. She has been hospitalized for eating food prepared in a pot that was previously used to cook shellfish. Cleaning it was not enough. The point here, we are different, a drug that might kill her might have no harmful side-effects on me. If I am dieing, I would like to have the choice to try a drug that might save my life.

          I think drug companies are guilty of doing bad things in pursuit of profit. Some of the older drugs have been phased out, and might have been as good or better than the new ones. I feel my choices are diminished.

        • I see. Yes, I can get behind that. If there is no approved drug for your condition (or there is, but you react badly to it), you should be free to take your chances with a non-approved one.

          I support this – but only so long as it isn’t used as a means to circumvent the established practice of vetting drugs so as to get at cheaper (and riskier) drugs. In that direction, there is no incentive to bring new drugs through the process, the drug manufacturers simply don’t get them approved, then, because there is no viable alternative, their (untested) drug would be used.

      • CWO2USNRet says:

        I submit that these side effects are known. I’ve been on Lipitor for years and my doctor is always checking me out for muscle pain as a potential complication. My eyes and the doctor’s were and are open to the potential problems of this drug. Lack of informed consent for most drugs is a tough sell for me. The observed side effects are well documented.

        • CW,

          Has a law firm contacted you yet, asking to represent you?

        • CWO2USNRet,

          Glad you are getting along good with that Lipitor.

          I was not so lucky, during my time on Pravachol, I developed over 20 new health problems, and am now permanently disabled in the prime of life. This was in spite of regular blood tests to monitor for any problems, so the doctor dismissed Pravachol as the cause of my problems. I was in such bad shape because of the side effects that I was referred to another doctor, and he is the one that said to get off the Pravachol. Many of the things I acquired cleared up, but I am stuck with the most serious muscle effects and damage.

          My husband was on Lipitor during the same time period. Gradually over a few months his personality changed, he had memory problems, lost muscle mass and was so weak he could no longer do normal activities, he barely managed to keep his job. His blood tests to monitor for damage were all normal, too. He was lucky and has recovered for the most part, but has never been back to his prior excellent health. It took him 4 years to regain “most” of his muscle mass. (I could relate dozens of similar stories from friends and relatives that I have talked with about statins).

          The lawsuit mentioned above has been going on for a couple of years, I have talked to one of the litigants. His life has been hell. He is going through more hell because of the lawsuit. Prior to taking Lipitor he had a successful and wonderful life.

          It is not as easy to sue as you might think. I called many lawyers around the country. All said I had a good case. All said they are hearing from many people like me that took statins. All declined to take my case….unless I had died of or been hospitalized due to Rhabdomyolosis, or the drug had been recalled by the FDA…and preferably both. I know a guy that called 100 lawyers, 20 agreed to take his case, all backed out when they realized how expensive it is to go up against the drug companies. I have talked to the office of the lawyer referenced above, Mark Krum. He is only taking Lipitor cases, not any other statins.

          In over 5 years of research I have come to the conclusion that:

          Statin drugs are a fraud.

          Statin drugs are dangerous.

          When looking at the clinical phase studies for drugs, learn to decipher relative risk vs. absolute risk….

          Read the research into statin drugs by Dr. Beatrice Golomb, UCSD.

          Be aware that one of the studies she did found that doctors often deny the adverse effects in their patients, in spite of those effects being on the drug info sheet. Just be careful.

          FYI: Of the 20+ side effects I had, 9 were on the list of most common side effects and the rest were on the less common side effects list. I was assured by my doctor that this was just “coincidence” as those blood tests were always normal…the liver and muscle tests.

          SO…when I keep hearing about all the “frivolous” lawsuits being filed, about tort reform…well can’t see it in my life, getting a legit suit filed for confirmed damage (by muscle biopsy) has been impossible.

          • This is a story all hear all the time. Everyone wants tort reform. Hell, I want tort reform. But the reform I want is for FRIVOLOUS lawsuits. Not by any means ALL Lawsuits. Too many times tort reform is passed and afterwards NO ONE may sue for anything.

            They were trying to stop lawsuits for workers comp in GA a few years ago. They already have a cap on how much can be sued for. Based on a percentage of how much a body part is crippled.

            What they fail to say though is that the insurance company FORCES you to sue them. Literally. They wil not talk to you or they will out right screw you unless you get a lawyer. I know this from first hand experience. And then, for being crippled for the rest of my life, I am limited to 70K.

            All I wanted was my job. Divide 70K into say 3 or 4 years and that doesn’t leave much per year. Not even as much as a used to make per year.

            WHy didn’t I get Disability? I was told that I was too smart to get disability. Too flippin’ smart? What does too smart have to do with being crippled and unable to get off the bed?

            Thanks to that I am forced to get off of the bed everyday and work at a job where my brain can do a lot of the work for half the money I used to make. Were it not for my wife we would have lost all we had.

            My solution to tort reform is to have it with conditions. If someone has the legitimate cause for a Lawsuit, then they should be allowed to sue. If they drop their coffee in their lap because they are fumble fingered then they shouldn’t.

            • Esom,

              Well said, my friend!

            • CWO2USNRet says:

              Esom, as I understand it, tort reform doesn’t restrict the ability to bring suit. Recently enacted reforms and common proposals cap punitive awards (actual damage awards are unaffected) to restrict liability which, in turn, reduces insurance costs. These reforms also often contain provisions to make the plaintiff pay some of the defendant’s costs should the defendant prevail. This disincentivizes frivolous lawsuits.

              Be well, John

          • CWO2USNRet says:

            Dee, I’m truly sorry to hear about your travails, whether related to the statins or not. For me, as well as family and friends, they work as advertised without complication.

            Wishing you and yours all the best.

          • Dee – the problem seems to be, that the government declared the drug “safe” and thus you are not allowed any recourse when it is not so. Good thing we have the FDA though!

    • 89% seems very low to me. Remember, the approval is in two stages, first safety and second effectiveness.

      Remember that most government agencies are very risk averse. That attitude has advantages but also disadvantages.

      Seems to me they could allow a probationary period or a wider testing regime once safety is established. Effectiveness could be further studied during this period before final approval.

  14. Richmond Spitfire says:

    Hi All,

    I hope BO got their point!…


    Best Regards to all,

  15. Good Morning All

    To USW:

    I want to thank you for your comments, I really appreciate it very much, and I will do my best to take your comments and suggestion to heart. But, you said I should have an opened mind, which I think I do most of the time, but, You also said I should have a closed heart. Well, sometimes that is the problem I have. I mostly speak from the heart, and I try to have my true feelings and thoughts come out when I do post on here. I don’t believe in saying something if I really don’t believe in it. Does that make sense to you? I’m not going to lie, and say that the other person is right, just to keep peace. If I have something to say, but can’t always back up what I say, then I will go back and re-read the other person’s comment or comments, and try and see their point of view.

    But, sometimes that can be hard for me, because I can be stubborn on my beliefs, and I will not back down if I feel that I am right. Depending on what it is though. There are so many intelligent people that post here, and I do believe that I have learned a lot from them, and I honestly thank them all for it. I want to thank you too USW, for all you do here and all you put into your site, I do appreciate and value your comments and articles.

    I will be posting something later that I read in the paper this morning written by a doctor, and what he thinks of this health care reform.

    Hope all is having a good day.


    • Judy,

      By a closed heart I only mean that you don’t allow objections to what you believe to hurt your feelings. Your honesty and speaking from the heart is a good thing. Allowing someone telling you that you are wrong to hurt your feelings is a bad thing. I wouldn’t dream of asking you to state something other than what you really believe or asking you to remove expression from your comments. I would only suggest that when someone attacks your position, you don’t let it bother you so much.


      • USW

        Thank you for your answer, much appreciated. Like I said, I will try and take your advice here. But, I do have a tendency to let my emotions get in the way when I’m trying to make a point, and maybe that is my downfall, I don’t know. I am a very emotional person, always have been, and always will be. Tha’s just my nature I guess.

        Have a good day.


  16. I saw the following this past weekend and thought I would share given the topic today.

    While some are debating and struggling with REAL issues within the broader Health Care issue, let us not forget that the agenda regarding Health Care is being driven by those who thought FDR should have gotten this done when they first wanted it done.

    This is a deeply ideological issue that has nothing to do with the reality of costs, benefits, quality of care, quantity, etc, etc,. It is about Universal Medical Care as a Right.

    In such a debate statistics and facts are irrelevant.

    • JAC,

      Saw this myself, and I agree with you. As Cyndi said earlier, they are not trying to fix problems with the VA or Medicare/Caid that is under their control right now, so its not about fixing anything, but taking more control of our lives.

      • LOI,

        I agree with Cyndi on that also.

        Several months back, on Fox, they had a Republican Senator commenting about the Health Care Reform. He made the comment that if they would just cut the fraud and waste from Medicare, they could pay for the reform. I forget the exact figure he used, but it was hundreds of billions of $$$ per year.

        Well….reform or NO reform, why haven’t they cut all that fraud & waste?

        • Dee,

          And I have to agree with Ray, whats been offered so far should be soundly rejected. They were not playing straight, and have been caught. Can’t wait for 2010.

        • Several years ago the Comptroller of the State of New York said that there was 1.5 billion (with a b) dollars worth of fraud and abuse in the NY Medicaid System alone. It still has not been addressed.

          Rather than fix problems like the fraud or the open border, somehow, the proposal for some complex massive new “comprehensive” reform program is announced as a panacea. If they ever want me to believe them, they have to fix the small (1.5 billion) type stuff first. This is not likely to happen.

          • A billion here, a billion there.. pretty soon you’re talking about real money..

            • Black Flag says:

              The problem is – a billion here and there – it isn’t real money – its fiat from a digital printing press;

              …and no one understands the size of these numbers so it doesn’t register there either…

              SO, the bigger the less it becomes money twice over.

  17. I always chuckle when pro-socialist health care advocates try to search for some mechanism to ‘encourage’ positive life choices as a way to lower long term health costs….

    ….and eventually end up with some mechanism that ‘rewards’ good health choices and ‘penalizes’ bad health choices….

    Such as, perhaps, the people paying for their own health care!!

    Nothing like a real cost to enforce real choices…. but not to worry – the Socialists will create some warped and bizarre way to do things that will be a perverted – instead of using “price”.

    • Richmond Spitfire says:

      Hi Black Flag,

      Do you mean something like, say, uhhmmmm…thinking here…uhhmmm, like the cigarette sin tax (socking it to those nasty, nasty smokers) so that the smokers can “pay for” other people’s health insurance (supplement the S-Chip for uninsured children).

      That is being prejudice against a group of people for them doing something legal.

      Just wait until the Movie Industry is hit for Surcharges & Taxes (in support of Birth Control / STD Education Programs) when they produce and release an “R” Rated Movie that contains “adult” themes…Yeap the $hit will hit the fan then — I don’t believe they will tolerate that — hits too close to home. I’ll just laugh my butt off as I puff on my ciggy! Ooops…forgot something…that WILL NEVER happen ’cause our Government has their sweaty and sticky hands into the deep pockets of Hollywood.

      Best Regards,

    • Alas, we all-powerful liberals run hollywood and won’t allow it to be sin-taxed.

      That said, I think it’s a good idea to tax something like cigarettes. It’s bad for you, bad for those around you, and the price society pays for your choice is not small. You assume you’re giving yourself cancer (and I’m ok with that), but you’re also giving cancer to others, or sticking the public with your medical bills when you declare bankruptcy because your insurance won’t cover you or you don’t have insurance. To me, it’s akin to a tax on gasoline – drivers pay it in proportion to their road usage.

      Good choices as enforced by the wallet are still good choices. Sorry to infringe on your freedoms though, I wish there were another way..

      Oh, but there is.. wait for it.. eCigs.. I’m thinking that these might have a huge potential.. (or, you know, they could be worse… who knows?)

      • Matt, it seems your logic is slipping a little this morning:

        “To me, it’s akin to a tax on gasoline – drivers pay it in proportion to their road usage.”

        If you can’t see the complete difference then we are in deep trouble.

      • I suppose that’s possible – unlikely – but possible. It’s afternoon over here, but I haven’t had my Red Bull yet.. so I doubt I’m operating near capacity… Please elucidate the difference for me.

        • Mathius,

          Does Red Bull have a sin tax? 😉

          “The results of a study conducted in 2008 showed that the ingestion of one, 250mL can of sugar-free Red Bull, in a sample of 30 healthy young adults, had an immediate detrimental effect on both endothelial function, and normal blood coagulation. This temporarily raised the cardiovascular risk in these individuals to a level comparable to that of an individual with established coronary artery disease.[11]

          Based on their results, researchers involved with the study cautioned against the consumption of Red Bull in individuals under stress, in those with high blood pressure, or in anyone with established atherosclerotic disease.[12]

          Red Bull representatives, however, stated that this observed increase in cardiovascular risk was not felt to be different than that associated with drinking a regular cup of coffee. They also stated that they believed that Red Bull must be safe, as it was felt the only way Red Bull could have such substantial global sales is if various health authorities had concluded the drink safe to consume.

          There has been at least one case report of Red Bull overdose causing postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome in a young athlete.[13]”

          • I really like that argument.. it must be safe because it wouldn’t sell at well if it weren’t.. brilliant! I wonder why the tobacco guys never thought of that one..

            Anyway, if true (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), I would be ok with the gov adding a sin tax to my Red Bull (provided, of course, they acted comparably toward coffee). Red Bull, however, is already pretty expensive..

    • That’s like a pro-socialist say that people should live together and each can specialize in a task and can trade his good or service with another person for their good or service. i.e. I give you a haircut you give me a cheeseburger.

      Such as, a free market via the exchange of money.

    • Black Flag says:

      Sin taxes are a sin.

      Because ‘bad’ living has no impact on one’s ability to pay for health care in a Socialist system, such a system needs to back-end consequences somewhere else.

      So, they tax the ‘sins’ – instead of letting people make their own choices between lifestyle and health care costs, the socialist blanket the entire economy with a tax.

      Again, Socialist systems try to replace price mechanisms of the free market with some other bizarre mechanism meant to do the same thing – but because it is rooted in coercion and theft, always ends up to distort something else unintended – such as requiring subsidies to tobacco farmers!

      • Better living through taxation 🙂

        • Black Flag says:

          Too bad it doesn’t work that way….

          The problem, of course, is how coarse taxation is in trying to influence lifestyle.

          I can drink gallons of beer and it doesn’t affect me – other’s can’t deal with a glass.

          But taxation treats us the same – that is, as if it was affecting me adversely as badly as the other guy.

          If each managed their own consequences, then those that are injured by their own actions suffer their own consequences, and those that are not do not suffer the consequences.

          What could be more fair than that??

          • ooh, good argument for a progressive tax code 🙂

            • Black Flag says:

              No, a good argument for eliminating taxes and Socialist economic systems 🙂

              • No, it sounded like you felt that the tax code should be tailored to affect individuals in a more targeted manner so as to effect the desired changes in lifestyles..

                That mule must have kicked you harder than we thought..

                • Black Flag says:

                  No, that is not what it sounds like.

                  As I said above, you cannot create a tax code with that granularity – it is impossible.

                  It is a bludgeon, not a scalpel.

                  It is being used as a pricing mechanism – but it is not a pricing mechanism; it is coercion.

  18. 6 grams of protein a day? If this bimbo were in charge, I would have to reconsider my stance on assassination and off her.

    My Fantasy National Health Plan
    1. Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, before/during/after food preparation, after coughing or sneezing, after using the bathroom, and after handling money.

    2. Consume no more than 6 grams of added sugar per serving per day (to ward off diabetes and cancer).

    3. Consume no more than 100 mg. of sodium per serving (to ward off hypertension).

    4. Consume no more than 6 grams of protein per day (2 servings of 3 oz. each) to ward off high cholesterol and kidney-related diseases, including gout.

    From the Bobo files

    • Healthy living doesn’t extend your life, it just makes it feel longer.

      I want to accredit that to Mark Twain, but I couldn’t find the actual quote

    • Democrats are feverishly working to get their legislation passed by cheating.

      Their plan, known as “budget reconciliation,” works as follows: (1) have Senate committees expand Medicaid, cut Medicare, force individuals to buy and businesses to offer insurance, give subsidies to low-income people and tax credits to small businesses, levy new taxes, and do everything else Democrats wanted to do in their health care bill but knew would never pass; (2) lump it all into a budget reconciliation bill; and (3) pass it with 50 votes and no filibuster.

      More from the Bobo

      • Two problems with that.

        1. You assume you’d be able to get 50 senators to go along with that.. might be a little overly optimistic, especially since you’re not going to get a single Republican. Not one. Not even Snowe.

        2. Something this big should probably only pass with a super majority, but I like to confirm a lack of hypocrisy. Can you just confirm for me that you were not OK with the republicans using this technique at least three times (by my count) in the last couple years? Did you object at the time that the Democratic minority should still have their voices heard, or did you agree with the bill and not care what we thought? (if you objected at the time, then please disregard this point, otherwise, please justify the disparity).

        • Matt, confirm a lack of hypocrisy? Who, me? I bitterly cling to that with my guns and bible. I don’t really want to be caught defending Republicans, but no, I’m not really upset if they acted as the author of this describes, perhaps a double standard. For the record, I’m more comfortable with single syllable name calling, had to look up that hypothingy.

          “Yes, Republicans have used reconciliation—for things it was supposed to be used for, such as adjusting tax rates and decreasing entitlement spending. Claiming that reconciliation can be used for health care because Republicans have used it is like claiming that pesos can be used at Taco Bell because Mexicans have used them.

          Even the New York Times admits, “The approach is risky. Reconciliation bills are primarily intended to deal with budget items that affect the deficit, not with substantive legislation like health care reform.” Note the sneaky, dishonest addition of the modifier “primarily.””

          And what I do recall, the Dem’s were allowed to speak, which cannot be said in today”s house.

          • Not calling you a hypocrite, just checking to see if you are one.. I find that sometimes I’m ok with Dems doing things I wouldn’t be ok with were it a Republican doing the same.. I have to smack my forehead every now and then to hit the reset button when that happens.

            I don’t know that it’s fair to say the Dems are any worse now than the Reps were.. I seem to recall a point, way way back in the sands of time, when all Democrats were thought of as cut-and-run America-hating cowards intent on undermining the commander in chief in a time of war. A time when any dissent was proof of this. A time when “liberal” became a dirty word and we had to rebrand ourselves as “progressives.”

            While I don’t think the Republicans are necessarily getting a fair shake in congress these days, I actually think they have it better than we did a few years ago. Neither side though is innocent. And this behavior is not acceptable to me by either party.

            • What goes around, comes around…the Republicans should have had that thought in mind…the Democrats should have that thought in mind right now.

            • They can’t help themselves. You give power to the abused, and they’re going to abuse. Then, when the rolls reverse, you get it again. Only it keeps escalating. It will be interesting to see what happens if we* can hold on to both houses and the Presidency for another few years, how bad will we* be to the Republicans then?

              *I’m not really a Democrat, but I’m registered as one, so I guess I can say “we,” right?

  19. Here are some quasi free market solutions:

    Add to that a reduction of Adjusted Gross Income for ALL medical expenses! That would create around a 25% savings on those costs for the average Taxpayer. And more if deducted from State Income tax as well.

  20. Here is that letter to the editor that I read this morning from a doctor from Sparks.

    Name: Dr. Calvin van Reken, M.D.

    It is humorous to witness health care “reform”.

    First, Medicare in particular and government in general totally destroy primary care. My seven internal medicine competitors all went out of business on the Sparks hospital campus in the last three years or are being subsidized by a hospital as they cannot make a living even when busy.

    Secon, now Obama and our Congress are going to save us. I’m nauseated.

    I’am reminded of a bunch of drunken hunters in the forest. They say “it’s huntin’ season: let’s shoot something” Don’t be surprised when these fools shoot you and your health care intentionally or by accident. They destroy everything they touch with regulations, fees, and idiocy.

    My advice if they get their way is to keep your money in your pocket. To get good care you will have to go outside the system, as so many in England have done for three decades now.

    This is what some doctors are saying about Obama’s health care reform. Others are saying they might have to quit their practice and find another line of work.

    • Only 12.5% of the people in the UK have health insurance, so I dont get the line “you will have to go outside the system, as so many in England have done for three decades now”. His last line is laughable, is he going to start flipping burgers at McDonalds? GPs in the UK make $160,000 a year and this is in an evil socialist system, even if the US did adopt a UHC system (which it wont) the doctors wont be hurting much.

      • I only put down what that doctor said Bob. You don’t know for sure if they’ll be hurting much or not. Depends if this passes or not, and if it does, yes I think they will be hurting, especially if they are dictated to on how they do their practices.

      • Considering the cost, effort, and time for schooling, $160K is peanuts. It should be at least double that, maybe triple.

        That kind of money will result in many fewer doctors in practice; bright young people will become lawyers instead. That will really help our economy.

        • Like I said before, if this bill passes, you can bet your sweet bippy, it will affect the amount of doctors we will have.

          My niece is married to a doctor, and he makes darn good money, works for 2 different places in the ER. He himself said, if this bill passes, you will see a lot of doctors leaving their practices because they will not be told on how to run their practices. Even my niece’s husband said if the bill passes, he just might find another line of work, because then he won’t be able to do the work without the fear of being told on how to do it. And he said he will not practice medicine that way. Just because he works in Er, doesn’t mean that this bill won’t affect him, it will affect all doctors, even future doctors like my son.

        • I think you dont know how much family doctors make on average in the US,

          They make about $160,000 on average and work longer hours and pay for malpractice insurance. I think GPs in the UK are not doing too bad for their $160,000 they get. My frind is in her second year of internship and she came out of university $30,000 in debt, how much would it have cost her at an American college?

  21. Short time reader, first time commenter.
    USWeapon, I applaud your idea of approaching this topic in a logical, non-partisan manner.

    In making the case for reform, I think each of us should take a look at our own experience with the health care system. For me, it’s not too pretty. Like another commenter here with the hypothyroid issue, I’ve got a pre-existing condition, epilepsy, which doesn’t stand out on a daily basis because I’m on constant medication.

    I didn’t DO anything to get this condition. It’s just there. I MUST be on insurance to afford the medication. However, I WILL NOT be accepted for insurance on a private basis. The only way I can get insurance is through a job.

    That basically means that I can’t work for myself. I’ve worked freelance, and I’ve owned a retail shop with a friend. But I always have to have a day job because of my “pre-existing condition.”

    Well, that is, unless, I manage to find some line of work that allows me to purchase my medication at full price – somewhere along the lines of $800/week. (And truthfully, since I’m married, I could go through my husband’s insurance, but you see my point.)

    At a minimum, I believe that some sort of government regulation of the insurance industry is necessary NOW. Because everyone who wants insurance can’t get it.

    COBRA, the insurance which covers people when they leave a job, was over $600/month the last time my husband needed it. (And he doesn’t have a crazy disease.) That’s a lot of money for most people without jobs.

    I’ve got no problem with the public option – I’ll admit I’m a Kennedy liberal – but at a minimum –

    I’d like to see some legislation that provides:
    1 – insurance for those with pre-existing conditions,
    2 – cost controls on COBRA
    3 – dental and vision wrapped in with other insurance: I see no reason to separate this out.

    • Black Flag says:

      I’d like to see some legislation that provides:
      1 – insurance for those with pre-existing conditions,

      Then it cannot be insurance.

      You cannot be insurance if you are forced to make payments for events PRIOR to the purchase of insurance – it is a government subsidy or entitlement.

      2 – cost controls on COBRA

      You cannot achieve cost controls unless you have a pricing mechanism. There is no economic pricing system in socialist health care – thus, there will never be any way to control costs.

      3 – dental and vision wrapped in with other insurance: I see no reason to separate this out.

      Asking the same system to pay for more things will insure such a system collapses faster

      • I suppose I wasn’t clear: these are my ideas for a bare minimum reform within the capitalist system.

        1) Insurance on pre-existing conditions.
        I see your point, but what I’m suggesting is the ability to buy private coverage, not a government subsidy.
        I would like to be able to purchase health coverage, a.k.a. insurance, from one of the major carriers in the USA, despite my disorder, which is probably congenital. So I arrived on the planet with a pre-existing condition. Please, let me get coverage in case I break my arm?!

        2)COBRA – These rates are high because companies are paying high rates for their employees. The only way I see to reduce this is to either reduce the price corporations must pay for their employees, or to ask for a govt subsidy for unemployed folks. That can work within the capitalist system, I believe.

        3)Wrapping Dental & Vision in with the rest of Insurance – Many health plans already do, but most people/companies opt out of dental and vision because they can and because these things are considered bonus options. It’s a pricing/marketing strategy, and it doesn’t make good health sense.

        • Black Flag says:

          these are my ideas for a bare minimum reform within the capitalist system.

          I appreciate your want.

          It is akin to measuring how much sewage water you want in a glass of pure water. I’d suggest the answer should be zero.

          1) Insurance on pre-existing conditions.
          I see your point, but what I’m suggesting is the ability to buy private coverage, not a government subsidy.

          This is wanting an insurance company to sell flood insurance on a house in a flood plain the day after the water breached the river bank….

          It will cost, literally, an arm and a leg or simply not be offered.

          No insurance company can afford paying out claims that it knows will be claimed

          I would like to be able to purchase health coverage, a.k.a. insurance, from one of the major carriers in the USA, despite my disorder, which is probably congenital. So I arrived on the planet with a pre-existing condition. Please, let me get coverage in case I break my arm?!

          They will – as long as the risk of breaking your arm is not aggravated by your condition.

          Again, reverse the position.

          If someone who is drunk, with a history of car accidents and hit and runs, comes to you and asks to borrow your car – would you?

          An insurance company is not a piggy-bank or your parents. It is a business in the mitigation of risk, It is not there to pay for assured risk.

          2)COBRA – These rates are high because companies are paying high rates for their employees. The only way I see to reduce this is to either reduce the price corporations must pay for their employees, or to ask for a govt subsidy for unemployed folks. That can work within the capitalist system, I believe.

          Taking money from those who earn to give to those that do not earn but spend will, eventually, collapse the system.

          The price is high because of exactly this occurrence. If a company is forced to pay for health of a condition of certainty (that is, you will certainly need the insurance because you cannot pay) – what do you think the insurance company will need to charge as a premium? Well, exactly what the cost of the treatment is. If you ask government for a subsidy, where is that money coming from? It still costs the same amount regardless of who pays!

          There is no free lunch.

          3)Wrapping Dental & Vision in with the rest of Insurance – Many health plans already do, but most people/companies opt out of dental and vision because they can and because these things are considered bonus options. It’s a pricing/marketing strategy, and it doesn’t make good health sense.

          Then buy it on your own if it makes sense.

          The companies opt out because it is an extra cost they cannot afford. If you force a cost on a business, it will react by cutting somewhere else – it has to remain competitive in the marketplace against international competition.

          If you cost it ‘here’, it must cut ‘there’. Your other recourse is to get fired.

    • DCGrrl,

      Welcome, hard to believe a Kennedy liberal living in DC. Are you happy with the health insurance bills proposed so far, or would you like to see genuine health reform addressed? I’m in flyover country, also known as Arkansas.

      • Black Flag says:

        Q1: No, none of them.

        Q2: There exists no means by which government can fix health care except to completely get out of it. Any attempt ‘to fix’ health care will and must make it worse, because the solution to ‘fix it’ is exactly the same entity that made the problem in the first place.

        The only way to fix it is to get government out of it – not more into it.

        Moving from 95% socialist medicine to 100% socialist medicine will not fix the problems of socialist medicine.

      • Thanks for the welcome. Actually, I was born in and I work in DC and I’m a Virginia voter.
        In my perfect world, any of us could walk into a hospital and get the best health care America has to offer. But that wouldn’t be America, would it? We are almost proud of our class system, it seems. More money = better care.
        I haven’t had time to read all the bills on the table here in DC – but I’m looking forward to hearing what the POTUS has to say tomorrow night, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this bipartisan Gang of Six comes up with.
        My gut tells me that a government-run health insurance plan isn’t going to happen this year. But I think something will pass, even if Bachmann slits her wrists.

        • Welcome DCGirl, I hope you can visit often, there is much too learn from those that post here. They are also very nice and respectful, something rare in this world.



        • Black Flag says:

          More money=better computer.

          My first microprocessor computer cost me $125,000 with a 10Megabit hard drive.

          You can buy one at Dell – that is about 1,000,000x more powerful than my first one for under $500.

          Because the rich will always pay a premium for the premium good/service, it allows better and better goods and services to be delivered at ever lower cost and better quality.

          The same thing would happen in health care.

          A ‘class’-based economy is the most prosperous economy. Those with the abundance of money spend multiples of your price for a very small improvement in quality – because the rich can afford the very best.

          But that extra cash provides the capital for development of more economical and competitive goods/services – which are 85%-95% of ‘the best in the marketplace’ – at a substantial savings.

          The real difference in performance and quality between a Rolls Royce and your car is very small – and your is probably 30% the price of a Rolls.

          The misunderstanding of economics creates a situation unlike almost any other human endeavor.

          Misunderstanding economics tends to put people into deciding precisely the worse possible answer that fundamentally exactly opposite to the right one. It leads to decisions that always end in economic disaster.

          For something that everyone deals with every day, money and economics seems to be the most confusing thing for a modern person.

    • DCGrrl,

      Welcome to the site and thanks for your input. Have no fear, Kennedy Liberals are every bit as welcome here as anyone else. I appreciate your insight and to be honest your comment has me thinking about an area of health care that I was not previously thinking about. So thank you!

      As for BlackFlag… I can see he is being tough on you already. Don’t take anything he says personally and you will be fine. He means well even when he is being blunt.

      BF, play nice. She has no idea where you come from and without that reference point of your political position, you seem pretty confrontational.


      • Black Flag says:

        You’re right, USWep. I’ll keep the “fast ball slider” in the glove for awhile with DCCgrl.

        I’m the guy who pushes you to understand the implications of what you are wanting and wishing – often these implications are exactly opposite of what you wanted or wished for.

        Welcome to the site – the rest of the gang are really nice!

  22. Black Flag says:


    Black Flag, Would love to hear more about your preparations. Also about the shopping trip of Mrs. Black Flag: what, where (chain stores, etc.),how much, how does she find the good deals. I saw a tip on a food preservation group the other day that the Church of LDS has a good site for emergency prep and they sell supplies….

    I’ll detail a bit – spent all weekend getting our’s up to snuff. We had pilfered our ‘bug out bags’ for things for the summer, and some of our supplies dwindled – and I actually couldn’t get to other stuff due to summer clutter in the way….

    Yes, LDS is a great place to start learning this stuff – they have tons of experience as well as goods…. (and you don’t have to be LDS, though it helps if you have a friend who is…)

    • Thanks Black Flag.

      I am trying to remember, when I first started coming here, what about you annoyed me so much. Now I love ya, not in a mushy way, but a playful punch in the arm, play a little Texas Hold Em way. 🙂

      Just so you know, I look forward to your thoughts, now that I know where you are coming from. Don’t always understand all the philos-o-babble stuff, but I try.

      You and the other folks here have been a positive addition to my life, and now my challenge is not to feel superior and frustrated with all the folks I know that I used to consider informed deep thinkers.

      • Black Flag says:

        One decision I still have to come to grips with is buying a generator.

        We live in the city, so in a real emergency, it will attract unwanted attention from the devastated.

        Yet, a freezer will keep things frozen for about two days if you open it very rarely. But after two days, you’ll have to start eating the food (or salting the meat) – and we haven’t tried that yet either (don’t experiment in an emergency).

        So a generator to keep the freezer going could be essential – so is the trade off of attention worth it? I don’t know yet.

        • Smoking meat into jerky will serve you well under those conditions. I would say no to the generator in the city, try finding a campground or public hunting land that you can ride things out, a good tent and tarps would be helpful. If you don’t hunt and fish, learn too! Just my 2 cents!


          • Black Flag says:

            True true….

            I’m looking at power outage problems – we had huge wind storms this year that knocked out power for a day or so – not worth bugging-out, but that’s a lot of money in my freezer (about the same price as a cheap generator) that was almost going to go bad!

            • If you really think things will get that bad, some cities will become unlivable. I am still looking for some wooded land to buy for hunting and just in case.

              They do make some very quiet generators, and more sound insulation can be added. We use a product called Sound Fender, that is acoustic, thermal and RF insulation.

            • BF

              Alternative to generator is Propane.

              Get a propane freezer as backup, along with some heating and cooking devices.

              Keep Propane bottles or a tank filled.

              • Black Flag says:


                Got a link to an example of a propane freezer?

              • Black Flag says:


                $2000 plus !!! 8) What do you think I am, a millionaire?!?!

                • One small 1/4 oz gold coin, get over it.

                  I’ll do some checking.

                  In my mountain man days we had them at all the outback cabins.

                  Is there anyone around that can custom “Freeze Dry” your meat or other food?

                  Got access to MRE’s?

                • Black Flag,

                  OK money bags, cut it out, we know your right up there with the Rockerfellas….lol.

                  I do have serious concerns about ALL types of fuel in a big meltdown, even natural gas and propane. But, hell, a person can go crazy trying to cover all the bases.

        • I have put a great deal of thought into this survival stuff. Here are some points to consider:

          We have a generator. A generator is only useful if you have fuel to run it. We have used ours a few times in the last 15 years. We live in the country, but within a mile of a town with a gas station. 5 gallons of gas will keep a generator going maybe about 6-8 hrs. (You would not run it constantly, maybe an hour at a time to keep food frozen, depending on the weather)How much gas can you store? How sporadic will electric service be? Be sure to have it wired in safely to your household, with ours we throw a switch in the basement to keep critical things running by generator.

          I suggest looking into a conversion kit, and make your generator as versatile as possible. You can get kits for $150 – $200 that will give you the option of using propane or natural gas.

          If you assume the worst and no fuel will be available long term, the best back up plan for food is to learn how to can. If you have a supply of jars and lids, you can preserve all that frozen food before it spoils. Of course…requires a heat source. Could be done over a fire in a pinch. Get a USDA guide to home canning and learn what your elevation is, as that will determine the pounds of pressure and minutes required for each food. Biggest hitch is having a large supply of jars (you can reuse those) and a very large supply of lids (not reusable).

          Get a pressure canner and practice ahead of time. Some things are still safely water bath canned, learn what those are and practice that too. With these methods you could have several weeks / months of food preserved in a relatively short amount of time.

          Running a generator long term, in a short fuel supply situation probably would not be very practical. And as you say, the noise makes it very obvious, and would likely put you in danger from thieves.

          Since I don’t know where you live, I don’t know if heating your home is needed. But just assume it is, again if electric and gas are not available, what to do? My thoughts are to get as far underground as possible, like your basement, if you have one. Temps are consistent at around 55 degrees about 6 feet under. You would have to insulate as much as possible from the ground level temps….we out here in the country would dig a cave into a hillside, or a sub basement under our basement.

          SO, back to the power thing…a solar panel is portable, quiet, and could give you enough power to charge flashlights, cell phone, radios, rechargeable batteries, car battery, etc. And it could be set up inside away from prying eyes, if you have a south facing window.

          G-Man’s suggestion of smoking meat is OK, but I would be leary of it. We make lots of jerky and it keeps maybe 2-3 weeks max at room temp. according to the information I have seen. We dehydrate and freeze ours. It takes several hours for each batch, not very practical if you are in a pinch time wise.

          Roughing it in a tent, hunting and fishing is also not very practical for several reasons. Imagine millions upon millions of people leaving the cities. They are all going to be looking for game to shoot, and firewood. Seems like both would become scarce before long.

          • Dee, What a great post! Thanks for this idea:

            I suggest looking into a conversion kit, and make your generator as versatile as possible. You can get kits for $150 – $200 that will give you the option of using propane or natural gas.

            That is super, and I will look into it.

            I also agree with canning food as much as possible. We can everything possible, including venison (don’t look to good in the jars, but once cooked tastes great).

            If it gets to the point where people are leaving the city, most will have somewhere to go (family, friends). The rest will most likely either get taken in by someeone, or resort to stealing and get shot (I don’t sugar coat) and likely killed.

            Let’s just hope we don’t have to experience this event!

            Peace my country friend!


            • Hey G-Man,

              You might like this group:


              They talk about preserving about everything you can think of. I get the daily digest in my email.

              Yep, I’m pretty county oriented, and have eaten my share of venison and other game. We keep laying chickens as a egg back up, even though eggs are not that expensive. If eggs were to become scarce in an emergency, they are good for protein and to barter with. And chickens can forage, eat kitchen scraps, dog food, and even EGGS! lol, now that is recycling.

              We are always pretty stocked up and could probably get by for weeks or even months if we had to.

              Peace to you too 🙂

            • Richmond Spitfire says:

              Hey G-Man…

              Do you know if you can cook prepared dishes? I make a killer Clucker Teriyaki (Chicken Teriyaki) for the kids; sneak in a jar of baby food prunes in it to keep my children well lubricated.

              I would love to be able to can this…


          • Black Flag says:

            Thanks for the info – the conversion kit sounds like the perfect idea for where I am – lose electrical but natural gas is still working…!

            Very much appreciated, Dee and G-man!

  23. Black Flag says:

    There is talk that China will default on its derivative market. The question now is “When?”. I’ve discussed this briefly in the past.

    What hasn’t been offered is what will happen to the USA if it does.

    The guru’s say that oil will drop like a rock – under $20/barrel. Gold will skyrocket (as hedge). The financial system will grid lock as it tries to figure out if the other $14 trillion of derivatives are also at threat.

    Interestingly, the guru’s say China will not suffer much from suppliers – China is too big not to sell to – and it will be cash over the barrel – which China has plenty. So it looks like a great strategy – default, cause the price to collapse – and buy for cash at 1/2 price.

  24. There is a rational solution (copied from Bill St. Clair’s blog):

    1) The end of medicare and medicaid

    2) The end of the FDA and the DEA

    3) The end of medical licensing

    4) The end of prescription drugs and controlled substances. Marijuana in the bulk aisle in the health food store. Morphine over the counter in the drug store.

    5) No more insurance tax breaks for anybody (lower all taxes instead, preferably to zero).

    6) Tort reform: loser pays.

    Of course, the solution would cripple the government’s power over many aspects of our lives, so it will never be proposed by anyone working for the state. It is up to you and me to DEMAND it.

  25. Canine Weapon says:

    A mechanic was removing a cylinder-head from the motor of a Harley motorcycle when he spotted a well-known cardiologist in his shop. The cardiologist was there waiting for the service manager to come take a look at his bike when the mechanic shouted across the garage, “Hey Doc, want to take a look at this?”

    The cardiologist, a bit surprised, walked over to where the mechanic was working on the motorcycle. The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, “So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take the valves out, repair any damage, and then put them back in, and when I finish, it works just like new. So how come I make $39,675 a year and you get the really big bucks ($1,695,759) when you and I are doing basically the same work?”

    The cardiologist paused, smiled and leaned over, then whispered to the mechanic…”Try doing it with the engine running.”

    For those of you in a quandary when considering your health insurance options, I offer the following Q and A:

    Q. What does HMO stand for?
    A. This is actually a variation of the phrase, “HEY MOE.” Its roots go back to a concept pioneered by Moe of the Three Stooges, who discovered that a patient could be made to forget the pain in his foot if he was poked hard enough in the eye.

    Q. I just joined an HMO. How difficult will it be to choose the doctor I want?
    A. Just slightly more difficult than choosing your parents. Your insurer will provide you with a book listing all the doctors in the plan. The doctors basically fall into two categories: those who are no longer accepting new patients, and those who will see you but are no longer participating in the plan. But don’t worry, the remaining doctor who is still in the plan and accepting new patients has an office just a half-day’s drive away.

    Q. Do all diagnostic procedures require pre-certification?
    A. No. Only those you need.

    Q. Can I get coverage for my preexisting conditions?
    A. Certainly, as long as they don’t require any treatment.

    Q. What happens if I want to try alternative forms of medicine?
    A. You’ll need to find alternative forms of payment.

    Q. My pharmacy plan only covers generic drugs, but I need the name brand. I tried the generic medication, but it gave me a stomach ache. What should I do?
    A. Poke yourself in the eye.

    Q. What if I’m away from home and I get sick?
    A. You really shouldn’t do that.

    Q. I think I need to see a specialist, but my doctor insists he can handle my problem. Can a general practitioner really perform a heart transplant right in his/her office?
    A. Hard to say, but considering that all you’re risking is the $20 co-payment, there’s no harm in giving it a shot.

    Q. Will health care be different in the next century?
    A. No, but if you call right now, you might get an appointment by then.


    Canine Weapon

    • A patient walks into a doctor’s office with a cucumber crammed into one ear, a bouquet of parsley jammed into his mouth, and surprisingly large carrots hanging from his nostrils. He manages to mumble, “Doc, you gotta help me. I feel awful. What’s wrong with me?”

      The doctor replied, “You’re not eating properly.”

    • Oh, I see, replacing me with a dog.

      Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for
      the Miami Herald.

      This is from newshound Dave Barry’s colonoscopy

      I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to
      make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few days later, in
      his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a
      lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one
      point passing briefly through Minneapolis . Then Andy
      explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough,
      reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I
      didn’t really hear anything he said, because my brain
      was shrieking, quote, ‘HE’S GOING TO STICK A TUBE
      17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!’

      I left Andy’s office with some written instructions,
      and a prescription for a product called ‘MoviPrep,’
      which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven.
      I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it
      to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of
      America ‘s enemies.

      I spent the next several days productively sitting around
      being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I
      began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I
      didn’t eat any solid food that day; all I had was
      chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less
      flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix
      two packets of powder together in a one-liter
      plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For
      those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32
      gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes
      about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes – and here I am being
      kind – like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with
      just a hint of lemon.

      The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody
      with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it,
      ‘a loose, watery bowel movement may result.’ This
      is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof,
      you may experience contact with the ground.

      MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don’t want to be too
      graphic here, but: Have you ever seen a space-shuttle
      launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with
      you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the
      commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty
      much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You
      eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be
      totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep,
      at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel
      into the future and start eliminating food that you have not
      even eaten yet.

      After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.
      The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very
      nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I
      had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep
      spurtage. I was thinking, ‘What if I spurt on
      Andy?’ How do you apologize to a friend for something
      like that? Flowers would not be enough.

      At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I
      understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the
      forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other
      colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained
      space and took off my clothes and put on one of those
      hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind
      that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked
      than when you are actually naked.

      Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in
      my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie
      was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also
      told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At
      first I was ticked off that I hadn’t t hought of this
      but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself
      too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering
      around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but
      to burn your house.

      When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the
      procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an
      anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I
      knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was
      seriously nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on
      my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking
      something up to the needle in my hand. There was music
      playing in the room, and I realized that the song was
      ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that,
      of all the songs that could be playing during this
      particular procedure, ‘Dancing Queen’ had to be the
      least appropriate.

      ‘You want me to turn it up?’ said Andy, from
      somewhere behind me. ‘Ha ha,’ I said. And then it
      was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a
      decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I
      am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it
      was like.

      I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment,
      ABBA was yelling ‘Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the
      tambourine,’ and the next moment, I was back in the
      other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. Andy was
      looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt
      excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me
      that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with
      flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal

      On the subject of Colonoscopies…
      Colonoscopies are no joke, but these comments during the
      exam were quite humorous…. A physician claimed that the
      following are actual comments made by his patients
      (predominately male) while he was performing their

      1. ‘Take it easy, Doc. You’re boldly going where no man has gone

      2. ‘Find Amelia Earhart yet?’

      3. ‘Can you hear me NOW?’

      4. ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’

      5. ‘You know, in Arkansas , we’re now legally married.’

      6. ‘Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?’

      7. ‘You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out…’

      8. ‘Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!’

      9. ‘If your hand doesn’t fit, you must quit!

      10. ‘Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.’

      11. ‘You used to be an executive at Enron, didn’t you?’

      12. ‘God, now I know why I am not gay.’

      And the best one of all….

      13. ‘Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up

      • Holy S***, LOI,

        That nearly killed me. Way to put Canine Weapon in his place.


      • Thanks LOI,

        Needed a laugh, have tears rolling from that!

      • Merci, LOI!

        My family will enjoy that immensely. It’s a good thing one doesn’t have to run jokes through the FDA in order for them to be good medicine.

      • Oh LOI

        I was laughing so hard, my son told me to laugh quietly. The thing is, my husband has to have this done , but yet when I think about what he’s going to have to go through before hand, like with Dave Berry, it just makes me laugh all over again. I wonder if I should tell him, or just let him find out for himself. But, that would be a mean thing to do, wouldn’t it.

        Thanks so much for the laugh, I really needed that.


      • LOI and all,

        I debated all day whether to tell this, but I just gotta:

        Many years ago my first husband needed a kidney scan. That required a “house cleaning” same as for the colon procedures. So the doc sends home an instruction sheet and a little orange pill. The instructions said to take a laxative the night before. OK, I can do that, I thought. I went across the street to my Grandparents and got some Milk of Magnesia. I wanted to make darn sure it worked, so I gave him a double dose. Then I remembered that little orange pill, which I thought was a dye of some kind…it was Ducalax.

        Let me tell ya, he didn’t get off the pot all night, and half the next day. But the test went well 🙂

        • What a way to end an evening. That’s funny. Poor guy. I hate to see what’s going to happen to mu husband when he has to his. I’m sorry, but I think I’ll be doing a lot of laughing at him.

          Hey I had to go through a lot with some surgeries I had when they had to give me a damn enema every damn time. I know how that feels. Well maybe not quite that bad, but bad enough.

        • More evidence that money is not the main factor holding back preventative care. 😉

          (Slowly catching up….only stuck 3 days in the past now, ha.)

  26. I wonder what they consider below the poverty level is.

    Baucus Plan Allows for Fines Up to $3,800 for Failing to Get Health Insurance
    The plan from Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana would make health insurance mandatory, just like auto coverage.

    Families who fail to get health insurance could be fined up to $3,800 under a health care reform plan proposed by a top Senate negotiator.

    Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is leading talks among the “Gang of Six” senators to hammer out a bipartisan compromise, offered what he described on Tuesday as a “framework” and not a “final product.”

    But the detailed proposal comes just days ahead of a self-imposed Sept. 15 deadline for such a deal. Baucus is pushing his committee members hard to hammer out a bill, and those details come as strong suggestions.

    The framework, a copy of which was obtained by FOX News, includes what amounts to a no-choice option. It would make health insurance mandatory, like auto insurance.

    The plan would provide tax credits to help small employers and help cover the cost for households making up to three times the federal poverty level. That’s about $66,000 for a family of four, and $32,000 for an individual.

    Those who still don’t sign up would face hefty fines, starting at $750 a year for individuals and $1,500 for families — for those making up to three times the poverty level.

    For those who make more than that, the penalty on individuals would jump to $950 and the penalty on families would jump to $3,800.

    There would be a few exemptions, including for Native Americans and for those making incomes below the federal poverty level.

    The plan does not include a government-run health insurance plan to soften the blow of the coverage mandate.

    Instead, Baucus opts for a system of non-profit cooperatives, as part of a broader health insurance exchange.

    As a way to pay for the package, estimated to cost under $900 billion over 10 years, Baucus is proposing a 35 percent excise tax on insurance companies for high-cost plans — defined as those above $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for family plans.

    The Senate Finance Committee is meeting Tuesday, as President Obama prepares to deliver a high-stakes speech to both chambers of Congress Wednesday night in a bid to invigorate the push for reform.

    Four committees have already passed their bills; Baucus’ panel is the only one yet to act. His committee’s bill is also the only one that could be considered bipartisan.

    Baucus hits major elements in his plan that other top Democrats say are important. His plan would require health insurance plans to guarantee coverage and would prohibit them from excluding coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

    Premiums would be allowed to vary based only on tobacco use, age and size of family.

    But the fines pose a dilemma for Obama. As a candidate, the president campaigned hard against making health insurance a requirement, saying it’s too expensive to mandate. White House officials have since backed away somewhat from that stance, but there’s no indication that Obama would support fines.

    • “The framework, a copy of which was obtained by FOX News, includes what amounts to a no-choice option. It would make health insurance mandatory, like auto insurance. ”

      If they want to make health insurance mandatory like auto insurance then they should open up the market like they do for auto insurance. From my viewpoint auto insurance prices took a nose dive when the low cost carriers got involved. Do the same for health insurance without all the governement tampering.

  27. Having read tyhroughout the day via e-mail, I couldn’t help but wonder why a really big questions were not asked.

    Why on earth do the Democrats want to make healthcare a “mandate”? If only 5% of the population are having a problem affording healthcare, why affect the other 95% of Americans?

    Why the heck would a multi millionaire need to purchase health insurance?

    What do people who support this measure really believe they will get out of it?

    Answers: 1. Power and control 2. Millionaires do not need it 3. Saved from a system that they believe is broken, only to find that the solution will be far more expensive, and results far less acceptable. They will be the controlled.

    Life is a right, health insurance is then a free choice.

    Driving is a priviledge, no choice required.

    There is a big difference here.


    • The reason some Dems are trying to make it mandatory for everybody is because they’re wholly-owned subsidiaries of the existing insurance companies. The others who are trying to change the way they do business may or may not be, but to simply require everyone to sign up is sheer lunacy. “The best way to fix a broken system is to force everyone to use it”??? Seriously?

  28. My entire family is altering the way we are eating and we are increasing the amount of time we are exercising.

    Why you ask? To save on health care in the future. My own personal costs are what is driving me. I have no fear of dieing and I really do not care to live to be 100. I want to be in good health because it saves me time, money, and pain.

    If we switch to a single payer option then would I be saving enough money to make it worth the effort to eat foods I don’t really want to eat and to get off the couch? I have no idea, but I can tell you that eating healthy is very expensive.

    Another point, in the green text near the top of the article it says this of Obama’s plan “Reform the health care system: We will take steps to reform our system by expanding coverage, improving quality, lowering costs, honoring patient choice and holding insurance companies accountable.”

    Exactly in what area of business can you expand your scope, improve your quality, and reduce your costs all at once? Aren’t they mutually exclusive? If that third part was “increase costs”, then it would make sense. Otherwise its just a enormous pile of brown stuff that smells bad, I call it poop. You may use a different term.

    • Edward, Apparently, Obama has some majic pixie dust to sprinkle on it. He’s been using it on people for quite some time, it’s called Obama’s pixie dust kool-aid. He’s a fraud, just like the rest of them in D.C..


      • now, now.. He’s not a fraud any more than the rest of them..

        • Hi Matt, I did say “the rest of them”, let me add, to include the past regimes. A fraud is a fraud, no such thing as more or less. They just are, and he just “IS”


          • Not necessarily. There is also a very special kind of Fraud. In this list, I’m going to include such luminaries as Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, Ted “I have sinned” Haggard, Rick “The World is 6,000 Years Old” Santorum, George “Regular Joe” Bush, John “The Maverick” McCain (recent addition), Sarah “You Betcha/Maverick/Barracuda” Palin, and (because I don’t want you to think this list is entirely one sided) Al “I Invented The Internet” Gore, John “Fiscally responsible $400 haircut” Edwards, and Nancy Pelosy (she holds a place of honor in my book). The President doesn’t touch this list.

  29. Black Flag says:

    When I listen to the Statist-Socialist stance, I recall a Richard Feynman story.

    There was a special dinner at some point, and the head of the theology place, a very nice, very Jewish man, gave a speech.

    It was a good speech, and he was a very good speaker, so while it sounds crazy now, when I’m telling about it, at that time his main idea sounded completely obvious and true.

    He talked about the big differences in the welfare of various countries, which cause jealousy, which leads to conflict, and now that we have atomic weapons, any war and we’re doomed, so therefore the right way out is to strive for peace by making sure there are no great differences from place to place, and since we have so much in the United States, we should give up nearly everything to the other countries until we’re all even.

    Everybody was listening to this, and we were all full of sacrificial feeling, and all thinking we ought to do this. But I came back to my senses on the way home.

    The next day one of the guys in our group said, “I think that speech last night was so good that we should all endorse it, and it should be the summary of our conference.”

    I started to say that the idea of distributing everything evenly is based on a theory that there’s only X amount of stuff in the world, that somehow we took it away from the poorer countries in the first place, and therefore we should give it back to them. But this theory doesn’t take into account the real reason for the differences between countries — that is, the development of new techniques for growing food, the development of machinery to grow food and to do other things, and the fact that all this machinery requires the concentration of capital. It isn’t the stuff, but the power to make the stuff, that is important.

    But I realize now that these people were not in science; they didn’t understand it. They didn’t understand technology; they didn’t understand their time.

  30. Black Flag says:

    A very good idea – one that I never thought of (but, accidentally, engage in myself. Now I know why I’m successful…)

    In tough job markets and tough economies, go where you can profit from your creativity.

    Use people’s risk-avoidance to shield you from competition.

    That is a barrier to entry that always works. These days, it works better than ever.

  31. Black Flag says:

    For those that belief being anonymous is unnecessary…

    Click to access DHS-Travel-Record.pdf

    The full contents and itinerary including credit card information being captured, accessed and stored inside DHS.

    And Ray and Chris “aren’t worried”….

  32. For me, the whole debate is about fear. People are afraid of sickness and death, afraid of financial burdens due to unexpected circumstances. They want safety nets because they are afraid of operating without them. We are insurance poor as a society, spending billions on programs “just in case” something happens. We are risk-averse. Unfortunately, risk is something that comes with freedom. If you are risk-averse you are freedom averse.

    This country became great because of risk-takers. It did not grow and flourish on the efforts of the fearful, but on the triumphs of the fearless. This whole debate would not exist if we grew a pair as a society. America will not be restored or be rid of its current evil or even be truly free until it grows a big brass pair like it used to have. And that is not something the government needs to do, the brass pair has to belong to each of us individuals.

  33. Black Flag says:

    Premature baby ‘left to die’ by doctors after mother gives birth just two days before 22-week care limit

    A young mother’s premature baby died in her arms after doctors refused to help because it was born just before 22-week cut-off point for treatment.

    Sarah Capewell, 23, gave birth to her son Jayden when she was 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy.

    Although doctors refused to place the baby in intensive care, Jayden lived for two hours before he passed away at James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, Norfolk, last October.

    *No amount of money will save your children under Socialist medicine*

    • That is very sad.

      I wonder, if she had the funds to pay until that 22 week deadline, could have that been done?

      Or is it so controlled that was not even an option?

      • Black Flag says:

        Not even an option – it was ‘outside their guidelines’

        • Hi Dee & BF

          I just read that story, and how hearbreaking for Sarah Capewell. How can anybody, yes even a doctor do nothing to try and save that baby? I am absolutely horrified. I lost 2 babies at that gestational period, and it was the most horrible thing ever to go through. Something I will never forget, no matter how long I live.

          To say, that it’s not a baby, but just a fetus is wrong, wrong, wrong. Is this what we have to look forward to if this bill passes? Is this what doctors are suppose to do if a baby is born before it’s due? How can they not do everything possible to make sure babies like this live? This is just ,just, oh hell, I’m so angry with that, I just can’t think straight. What is the hypocratical oath for, if not to make sure everybody lives.

          This act of what the doctor did is just inhumane, and I h ope with all my might, that she not only sues that doctor, but the hospital as well. There is absolutely no excuse for treatment like that. none.

          • I have something to add to what I just wrote. Poor little Jayden, if he only knew not to come into this world so soon, and if he only knew how he would be treated, maybe, just maybe he could have waited. But, he didn’t, and because of the treatment he and mother mother got, he now sits with God.

            I have tears rolling down my face because of that story, because every time I hear something like that I relive everything I went through when I lost my 2.

            I guess I’m done, don’t know, but if I do think of anything else, I will be sure and put it down. I’m sorry if anybody here thinks I’m over reacting to this, but this is something that is very close to me, and unless you went through it yourself, you can’t understand how it feels.

            • I understand, Judy.

              My Mom lost 2 also, one preemie and one stillborn. The preemie lived 2 days, the doctor had told the nurses to feed her, but the nurses decided they knew best and did not.

              I don’t think Mom ever got over that.

              • You don’t Dee. When I lost my first one, it was a boy, I was 4 and 1/2 months along. But what caused that, was due to my cervix, started going into premature labor, but it was too late to do anything.

                When I lost my 2nd one in the 5th month, that was my girl. I lost her because her central nervous system wasn’t developing right, and there wasn’t anything that could have been done there either.

                There is not a day that goes by, that I don’t think about them, and how they would have turned out, or what they would have done with their life.

                But, then I wouldn’t have had my 2 son’s that I have now. Everybody told me, it happened for a reason. I got so sick of hearing that, I was ready to hit somebody. You don’t tell a women who had just lost a baby something like that. That was the last thing I needed or wanted to hear.

                • So sorry, Judy.

                  I have a cousin who lost 2 before they figured out she had an incompetent uterus that needed stitched shut. Before they figured that out she had a 3rd one, weighed 1lb. 5oz. and was one of the smallest babies to survive at that time. Cost a fortune to save her, and if we had “reformed” medicine then, I bet she would not be here today. So sad to think about.

  34. Mathius,

    You stated:

    Health care should be cheap and readily available to everyone.

    However, let’s discuss this realistically. Saying a statement like that is really a waste. Americans should be thin and dedicated to keeping themselves in shape. But we know that “should” is never going to happen either. There are a lot of things that should be. But the reality is that it will not be.

    As for health care, why should it be cheap? Cheap implies easy. Doctors spend years perfecting a craft that, frankly, many others are not smart or dedicated enough to do. Why should their unique skills be obtained for “cheap”

    • Well, as I have said repeatedly on this subject, I cannot pose solutions to these problems. But yes, Americans should be thin and dedicated to keeping themselves in shape. I do not know how to achieve that goal either.

      And, yes, doctors have worked hard to earn a larger income, and to that end, I agree with you. But I do not believe it should cripple families to pay for necessities. Do I have the answers? Nope. But I still think it’s admirable that people are trying to do something.

      That said.. I’m done for the day. Good luck, and good night.

      • Black Flag says:

        Why is this “something” that people try always seems to require stealing some people’s money to give to people who did not earn it?

    • Bonsoir, USW. Le chien (Canine Weapon) est mignon.

      Thank you for the article and the research that went into it.

      Are not “cheap” things plentiful and/or of little value? Is health care plentiful? Is it of little value?

      IMO, doctors and other health care providers don’t “owe” their services to their clients anymore than farmers “owe” the food they’ve grown to those who want it.


  35. Black Flag says:

    Barack Obama will cement the new co-operative relationship between the US and the United Nations this month when he becomes the first American president to chair its 15-member Security Council

    *From President of the USA to President of the World in less than a year…..*

  36. Black Flag says:

    UN wants new global currency to replace dollar
    The dollar should be replaced with a global currency, the United Nations has said, proposing the biggest overhaul of the world’s monetary system since the Second World War.

  37. Black Flag says:
  38. Black Flag says:


    More on Intellectual Property

  39. Hi Dee! I’m whispering here, A quote from your earlier post:

    (We keep laying chickens) Don’t tell PETA! Sorry couldn’t resist, LOL.

    Being serious here now, through the laughter. We’re about set for 6-8 months now, with deer season approaching. That should put us at a year, which is time for another growing season and another hunting season.

    Interesting snack for everyone. Seedless grapes, clean, place in sandwich bag and freeze. Perfect for school and really nice in the hot summer months. Very healthy as well!

    Thanks for the link, it will add to the knowledge base, never know when we might need that knowledge!


    • PETA, hahaha!

      I’m not afraid of them, but the USDA Nais program scares me.

      Our chickens and other critters are so babied, even PETA would probably approve. However, if they show up dressed as a carrot, that will likely make my trigger finger a bit spastic.

    • Bonsoir,

      Monsieur Refugié proudly claims to be a member of PETA — that is, “People Eating Tasty Animals.” I hadn’t heard his take on that acronym before this past weekend and I’m very fond of it.

      Vivent les poules! (That is, until they’re done laying and are ready for the rotisserie or other method of preparation.}


  40. Dee

    I neglected to say something in the posting we were talking about.

    Just know that your mom is now with the 2 she lost, they are together again.

    Just wanted to say that.


  41. Dee

    That’s the problem with this health care reform bill. Doctors are going to have to pick and choose, and that’s just not right. I’m glad your cousin made it, and thank God there wasn’t this reform bill then.

    I wonder what would have happened if we had it back when I lost my 2 also. I can only say, thank God for the insurance my husband had when he worked for Lockheed at that time. They covered everything, and I mean everything, from all the test we had done, through the 4 pregnancies, and then having my 2 son’s now. We didn’t have to pay a dime.

    I can only imagine what is going to happen if that bill passes, and when women go through pregnancies, and have problems, just what are they going to do. This bill must not pass, in any way , shape or form.

  42. I got this via e-mail about a year ago, but saved just for the right moment in time. As all of you know, I, like many, very against this socialist BS that we are facing today. I have deep, deep regards to my fellow vets, irregardless the branch served. One thing I would like to say to those who would choose socialism, You might have a problem soon. I follow the mantra of “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”, and nothing else will take the place of that, at least not with me breathing. All this socialism tallk has me a tad ticked, because WE did not sacrifice to go in that direction. All gave some, and some gave all! That will never be for nothing!

    Here’s a nice story, enjoy:

    These don’t come along too often.As I came out of the supermarket that
    sunny day, pushing my cart ofgroceries towards my car, I saw an old man with
    the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open.
    The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car and
    continued to watch the old gentleman from about twenty-five feet away. I saw a
    young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm, walking towards
    the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too and took a few steps towards
    him. I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something. The young
    man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade and
    then turn back to the old man and I heard him yell at the old gentleman
    saying,”You shouldn’t even be allowed to drive a car at your age.” And then
    with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking
    lot.I saw the old gentleman pull out his
    handkerchief and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the
    engine. He then went to his wife and spoke with her and appeared to tell her it
    would be okay. I had seen enough and I approached the old man. He saw me coming
    and stood straight and as I got near him I said, “Looks like you’re having a
    problem.” He smiled sheepishly and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the
    hood myself and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me. Looking
    around I saw a gas station up the road and told the old gentleman that I would
    be right back. I drove to the station and went inside and saw three attendants
    working on cars. I approached one of them and related the problem the old man
    had with his car and offered to pay them if they could follow me back down and
    help him. The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and
    appeared to be comforting his wife . When he saw us he straightened up and
    thanked me for my help. Asthe mechanics diagnosed the problem (overheated
    engine) I spoke with the old gentleman. When I shook hands with him earlier he
    had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he
    had been a Marine too. I nodded and asked the usual question, “What outfit did
    you serve with?” He had mentioned that he served with the first Marine Division
    at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. He had hit all the big ones and
    retired from the Corps after the war was over.As we talked we heard the
    car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the hood. They came over to us as
    the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me and I told him I would
    just put the bill on my AAA card.He still reached for the wallet and handed
    me a card that I assumed had his name and address on it and I stuck it in my
    pocket. We all shook hands all around again and I said my goodbye’s to his wife.
    I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back up to the station.
    Once at the station I told them that they had interrupted their own jobs to come
    along with me and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but
    they refused to charge me. One of them pulled out a card from his pocket looking
    exactly like the card the old man had given to me. Both of the men told me then,
    that they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once again we shook hands all around and
    I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had
    given to me and I said I would and drove off. For some reason I had gone about
    two blocks when I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at
    it for a long, long, time. The name of the old gentleman was on the card in
    golden leaf and under his name……… “Congressional Medal of Honor Society.”

    I sat there motionless looking at the card and reading it over and over. I
    looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on
    this day, four Marines had all come together, because one of us needed help. He
    was an old man alright, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and
    courage and an honor to have been in his presence.

    America is not at war. The U.S. Military is at war. America is at the Mall.

    Peace to all



    • Hey G

      I read that story a while back when Christopher sent it to me. Brought tears to my eyes, and as well as pride.

      Have a good one.


      • Hi Judy, Did you get my e-mail this morning? My work computer system has been goofy lately, much like D.C., LOL.


        • Hey G,

          Yes I did, but I haven’t had a chance to answer you yet. I will try later when it quiets down around here. Magpies one and two are here, and I’m having trouble concentrating on what I’m trying to say. They can’t seem to be quiet for even a few minutes. AH, What can you do?

          Catch you later G


    • Thanks, G-Man.

      That was a great story.

    • Reminds me of a story of a Marine who was walking down a street in uniform when a fellow ran across the street and began vigorously shaking his hand.

      “Do I know you, Sir?” asked the Marine.

      “No, no – I just swore I’d shake the hand of every Marine I saw”

      He related a story on Guadalcanal, where the Army had moved up to take over the positions hard fought and bloody won by the Marines.

      That night, the Japanese counter-attacked and overran the Army positions – and the Army soldiers were in a rout.

      This man had been shot in both legs, and lying in a ditch, heard the Japanese executing the American wounded. He saw a Japanese solider standing above him -bayonet ready, he closed eyes, prayed to God and was ready to die.

      The next he knew he was on the back of a Marine being taken back to safety.

      As the Army troops in their retreat passed the exhausted Marines – one of the Marines asked “Where is your wounded?” The answer was they had been abandoned to their fate.

      The exhausted Marines down the line immediately turned and counterattacked the Japanese, repulsed the assault, and rescued the wounded. This man was one of those wounded.

      “We leave no one behind” said the Marine that was carrying him to the hospital.

      • I’m ex-USAF, but my heart is with them. Nobody left behind! Have much respect for my fellow vets, hell is a bitch.


      • How true that is. My son said the same thing when he was in the Marines, and in Iraq back in 2004-2005 fighting that Al Sadar in Najaf. He said they went back and made sure no man was left behind, even the ones who didn’t make it.

        • That might be because when we bury our own on foriegn soil, those who we liberated tend to forget after time. Now, we bring our own home, where they belong.


  43. To DCGRRL

    I would like to welcome you to the site. I, myself have only been here for a few months, and have really come to learn a lot from these great people here. I have also come to think of them as my friends as well, and I hope you will too. But there are those who will challenge you, I know, because it’s still happening to me, and I do try my best to keep up, and answer with all my honesty, whether they agree or not. I just give my sincere opinion, and put a lot of heart into it.

    Hope to see you here quite a bit, and hope that we can have a newfound friendship like with the others. I think you’ll really enjoy being here.

    My Regards.


  44. Richmond Spitfire says:

    Once upon a time, I was invited to the White House for a private dinner with the President. I am a respected businessman, with a factory that produces memory chips for computers and portable electronics. There was some talk that my industry was being scrutinized by the administration, but I paid it no mind. I live in a free country. There’s nothing that the government can do to me if I’ve broken no laws. My wealth was earned honestly, and an invitation to dinner with an American President is an honor.

    I checked my coat, was greeted by the Chief of Staff, and joined the President in a yellow dining room. We sat across from each other at a table draped in white linen. The Great Seal was embossed on the china. Uniformed staff served our dinner. The meal was served, and I was startled when my waiter suddenly reached out, plucked a dinner roll off my plate, and began nibbling it as he walked back to the kitchen.

    “Sorry about that,” said the President. “Andrew is very hungry.”

    “I don’t appreciate…” I began, but as I looked into the calm brown eyes across from me, I felt immediately guilty and petty.. It was just a dinner roll. “Of course,” I concluded, and reached for my glass. Before I could, however, another waiter reached forward, took the glass away and swallowed the wine in a single gulp.

    “And his brother Eric is very thirsty.” said the President.

    I didn’t say anything. The President is testing my compassion, I thought. I will play along. I don’t want to seem unkind. My plate was whisked away before I had tasted a bite.

    “Eric’s children are also quite hungry.”

    With a lurch, I crashed to the floor. My chair had been pulled out from under me. I stood,brushing myself off angrily, and watched as it was carried from the room.

    “And their grandmother can’t stand for long.”

    I excused myself, smiling outwardly, but inside feeling like a fool. Obviously I had been invited to the White House to be sport for some game. I reached for my coat, to find that it had been taken. I turned back to the President.

    “Their grandfather doesn’t like the cold.”

    I wanted to shout – that was my coat! But again, I looked at the placid smiling face of my host and decided I was being a poor sport. I spread my hands helplessly and chuckled. Then I felt my hip pocket and realized my wallet was gone. I excused myself and walked to a phone on an elegant side table. I learned shortly that my credit cards had been maxed out, my bank accounts emptied, my retirement and equity portfolios had vanished, and my wife had been thrown out of our home. Apparently, the waiters and their families were moving in. The President hadn’t moved or spoken as I learned all this, but finally I lowered the phone into its cradle and turned to face him.

    “Andrew’s whole family has made bad financial decisions. They haven’t planned for retirement, and they need a house. They recently defaulted on a subprime mortgage. I told them they could have your home. They need it more than you do.”

    My hands were shaking. I felt faint. I stumbled back to the table and knelt on the floor. The President cheerfully cut his meat, ate his steak and drank his wine.

    I lowered my eyes and stared at the small grey circles on the tablecloth that were water drops.

    “By the way,” He added, “I have just signed an Executive Order nationalizing your factories. I’m firing you as head of your business. I’ll be operating the firm now for the benefit of all mankind. There’s a whole bunch of Erics and Andrews out there and they can’t come to you for jobs groveling like beggars.”

    I looked up. The President dropped his spoon into the empty ramekin which had been his creme brulee. He drained the last drops of his wine.

    As the table was cleared, he lit a cigarette and leaned back in his chair. He stared at me. I clung to the edge of the table as if were a ledge and I were a man hanging over an abyss. I thought of the years behind me, of the life I had lived. The life I had earned with a lifetime of work, risk and struggle. Why was I punished? How had I allowed it to be taken? What game had I played and lost? I looked across the table and noticed with some surprise that there was no game board between us. What had I done wrong?

    As if answering the unspoken thought, the President suddenly cocked his head, locked his empty eyes to mine, and bared a million teeth, chuckling wryly as he folded his hands.

    “You should have stopped me at the dinner roll,” he said.

  45. You should have stopped me at the dinner roll,” he said.

    No Ma’am, should have stopped him with lead!


  46. I do not like the title or the first third of the article but the last two thirds really hits home.


    I guess we pay for most of this too. For what, what do they do


    Electricity from humans like in the movie Matrix…!

    (OK, well, not quite – but sure is interesting!)

  49. Afghan alcohol ban after Nato staff were ‘too hungover’ to give explanation for airstrike that killed 70 civilians

    Read more:

    Winning hearts and minds

  50. Would like to say goodnight to all, as always been fun and enlightening.

    Looking forward to tomorrow.

    Pleasant dreams everybody.


    • Black Flag,

      Did you watch the recent National Geographic channel about the 9-11 conspiracy? If so, what did you think of the show?

      • No, but let’s go over the ‘so called’ theory

        Within two minutes of igniting the fuel, the temperature peaked just above 2,000 Fahrenheit and complete structural failure occurred in less than four minutes

        …except (1) the buildings didn’t fall in 4 minutes – they fell 40 minutes later.

        (2) the fuel did not burn for ‘minutes’ – 90% of the fuel went up in the initial fireball of the collusion. The fireballs exhausted most of the oxygen, leaving smoldering fires behind (seen with the intense BLACK smoke coming out of the building) – smoldering fires are not ‘hot’

        (3) the beams are structural steel 14-inch by 14-inch columns that were spaced at 3 feet 4 inches on center, 40 feet in length, weighing 60 tons – linked together in groups of 47. The heat capacity of the steel is huge (that is, the heat is transferred throughout the beams).

        (4) if the core beam failed, the top of the building would have fallen OFF – the structure would not collapse into its footprint. The fires were on one side of each building – and would have caused an asymmetrical collapse not one of “in foot-print”

        and, the facts:
        The simple facts of temperatures:

        * 1535ºC (2795ºF) – melting point of iron
        * ~1510ºC (2750ºF) – melting point of typical structural steel
        * ~825ºC (1517ºF) – maximum temperature of hydrocarbon fires burning in the atmosphere without pressurization or pre-heating (premixed fuel and air – blue flame)

        Diffuse flames burn far cooler.

        Oxygen-starved diffuse flames are cooler yet.

        The fires in the towers were diffuse — well below 800ºC.
        Their dark smoke showed they were oxygen-starved — particularly in the South Tower.

        thermite could not have cut the columns

        Amazingly, there is photo documentation of sliced beams! It is as if they are playing ‘blind monkey’.

        Thermate trace has been found on the beams recovered. Thermate is thermite PLUS sulfur – sulfur significantly weakens steel. Thermite cuts through steel like a knife through butter – Thermate cuts through steel like a hot knife through warm butter. Of course, National G. did not test thermate…..

        AND, of course, they completely avoided talking about WTC7 – the building that was super-reinforced to withstand a near miss nuclear explosion (it was FEMA and the city’s disaster coordination site) and it collapsed – in its footprint – hours later but it was not hit by a plane

        National G. ‘hit piece’ has been roundly refuted by world leading scientists and engineers.

        • Just one minor question- Would the steel need to reach “melting point” in order for the buildings to collapse, or would only a weakening due to lesser heat be sufficient?

          • No – melting is unnecessary – steel does weaken with temperature over a curve

            At temperatures above 800° C structural steel loses 90 percent of its strength. At 600° C – it loses 50%. At 400° C – typical temperature of burning camp fire (a smoldering fire is MUCH lower temperature than that), steel retains 99% of its strength.

            Other things about steel and temperature.

            Time does not matter – hold a spoon in a fire for 30 min. vs 3 hrs. – nothing changes. Once the spoon reaches a temperature – the effects upon the spoon have been fully measured – keeping it there longer changes nothing.

            So to approach failure requires an oxygen-injected fueled fire (825C) – which simply did not occur in the WTC towers.

            But say, somehow beyond physics that even when steel structures are heated to those temperatures, they never disintegrate into piles of rubble, as did the Twin Towers and Building 7. Why couldn’t such dramatic reductions in the strength of the steel precipitate such total collapse events?

            • Thus, WTC towers were over engineered to 5 x their load factor.

              They were designed for MULTIPLE jet liner impacts.

              The anticipated loads are the largest ones expected during the life of the structure, like the worst hurricane or earthquake occurring while the floors are packed with standing-room-only crowds.

              Given that September 11th was not a windy day, and that there were not throngs of people in the upper floors, the critical load ratio was probably well over 10, meaning that more than nine-tenths of the columns at the same level would have to fail before the weight of the top could have overcome the support capacity of the remaining columns.

              There is evidence that the Twin Towers were designed with an even greater measure of reserve strength than typical large buildings.

              According to the 1964 white paper cited above, a Tower would still be able to withstand a 100-mile-per-hour wind after all the perimeter columns on one face and some of the columns on each adjacent face had been cut.

              Also, John Skilling is cited by the Engineering News Record for the claim that “live loads on these [perimeter] columns can be increased more than 2000% before failure occurs.

  51. Interesting debate tonight. I am a first time poster but have been passively reading this site for a few months. My experience with health care has been mostly through my wife who has had significant problems for 20 years. Personally, I have not spent a night in the hospital since Mom broght me home. However, I have spent far too many nights in hospitals at my wife’s side. By and large, I have been satisfied with the insurance industry. They have improved over those 20 years. Early on, I remember about 50% of the claims I sent in had payment errors that necesitated me contacting the insurance company and walking through the bills until they got it right. Errors are now quite infrequent.

    The current legislation does not address the cost issues nor will it improve quality care. It might provide a limited number of people with access that don’t have it now but at a substantial cost.

    I saw one interview with a doctor from Appleton, WI (unfortunately I can not find the link) discussing the TQM (Total Quality Management) system they implemented. This is Deming’s approach to business made famous by Toyota and other Japanese companies. They have substantially reduced their costs and as a result reduced the customer’s bill. Unfortunately, when billing Medicare, the government refuses the bill and pays the current going rate which is more. This is true cost reduction by improving efficiency and eliminating mistakes using business practices taught in most large US corporations for the last 20 years.

    All of this reminds me of something I read years ago. We have a vast buracracy in this country to provide food stamps, school breakfast and lunch and other food distribution means for needy individuals. The article said that if each store were to maintain one shelving unit stocked with free, inexpensive, high nutrition food it would be substantially cheaper than the current system and no one would need to go hungry. The foods would be the basics, rice, dried beans, potatos, etc. There would be no restrictions on who could take items, just limits on the total quantity at one time. Most non-needy individuals would not take anything because of pride and better items being available. Unfortunately, the article pointed to a major problem. These basic foods require preparation before consumption.

    Back to health care, as a youngster growing up in the ’50’s, my family had no health insurance since Dad was a farmer and later an independent contractor. If someone was really sick, we simply went to the doctor and paid. My first introduction to socialistic medicine was at the university during the ’60’s. I went once and then decided in the futre I would go back to my family doctor and just pay the bill. At that time it was something like $15-$30, a lot for a student, but worth it. Today, a typical doctor visit is $125 to $150 not too far out of line with inflation. Tests are much more expensive but then much of the technology that exists today did not exist then. Technology comes with a price but also adds benefit, notably longer life spans, better diagnoses, etc. I did not have health insurance until I was over 30 years old and gainfully employed (PhD’s in Physics take a while). In fact, only in the last 5 years have I even made moderate use of health insurance. For myself, I would have been perfectly happy with catastrophic coverage with payment of routine bills from my own pocket. Once again, the current legislation is missing that approach.

    My wife’s story is completely different. Twenty years ago she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, then a mental disorder, followed by diabetes, and several other maladies. The devastating diagnoses were neurological: Parkinsism, followed by Lou Gerhigs (ALS), followed by Multiple System Atrophy (a catch all that is neither Parkinsons or ALS but with the same prognoiss). After a serious fall and head injury (2 weeks in a coma) we learned the neurological problems were the result of the drugs for the mental disorder. So while, she is in a wheel chair today, she is not progressively deteriorating like she was befor the fall. All of this has been covered by insurance but we came close to losing coverage.

    A couple of years after the initial diagnosis, I left the major energy company I was working for and became a consultant. We had Cobra for 18 months. So I proceded to look for insurance. I could easily get it for me and kids but my wife was a completely different story, pre-existing condition. Even the Blues had a one year wait on the pre-existing condition. I offered to overlap insurances for one year but they would not insure her if she was already covered. If I had lied, they would never have known the difference. Finally, I accepted a position with my current company and flipped from the right coast to the left coast. My Cobra ran out Aug. 31, the new job started Sept. 1 and she had full coverage immediately. In fact we were in the ER that night using it.

    From an insurance company point of view, what difference does it make whether I paid for the policy out of my own pocket or whether my employer payed? I can understand not insuring people who wait for problems to occur, that is like trying to buy auto insurance after the accident. In this case, we had continuous coverage. This was before the current law that does have provisions for continuous insurability (which is not discussed much in the media).

    With regard to tort reform, with all of our experience with the medical industry, I have seen good and bad “practice” of medicine. I probably could generate several suites if I had the mind set. I think all tort should follow the same basic pracice. If you bring suite and lose, there should be an immediate followup trial using the same judge and jury. The questsion would be whether the suit was frivolous or reasonable. If judged frivolous, then the plaintiff must make restitution to the defendent in an amount equal to 3x the amount the plaintiff expended in bringing the suite. The lawyer’s share of this would be in proportion to his contract with his client would he have won. This puts a limited downside risk to suites and would reduce dramatically the frivolous ones. Large corporations could not throw large sums into the defense expecting to recoup all of it. Similarly though, there needs to be limits on the size of plaintiff winnings. Furthermore, venue shopping (looking for favorable regions to sue in) should be eliminated. Suites should be brought in the region where the offense occured.

    Basically, I would approach the problem gradually, fixing one problem at a time. TQM techniques teach you to priortixe your problems and attack the largest, most frequent one first, although picking the low hanging fruit is also encouraged. Tort reform, catastrophic policies, increased use of HSAs, cross state line sales are low hanging friut. The big one is implementation of TQM in our health care system. Digital record keeping and databases will come with TQM and strict privacy laws. Government should not be the record keeper. Government run or contracted clinics (similar to the food example above) would provide for the needy. This would take the burden off the ERs. These clinics should not be totally free. Everyone should pay something.

    The current legislation uses the IRS to inflict fines on people who fail to insure. I strongly object to using the IRS for this purpose. Fines belong in the court system a different branch of the government.

    USW comments on drug development costs and FDA regulations are accurate. I too see this. I have sat in conferences and listened to FDA regulators and pharma scientists and participated in ASTM meetings with them. FDA’s rules are extremely complicated and purposely vague making them even more difficult to implement in a practical fashion.

    Enough for tonight. It is late and my spelling is deteriorating.

    • T-Ray,

      Thanks for an insightful and interesting post. I can appreciate all that you are dealing with although I would never claim that we have it so bad. Mrs. Weapon has had health issues of her own for years. I am much like you, I don’t spend much time taking advantage of the health insurance I have for myself. The pre-existing conditions debate is a tough one for me, because I see the argument that someone like Black Flag makes and why it is a bum deal for the insurance companies. But as someone with a significant other who will always have a pre-existing condition, I see the other side too. If we are going to tackle health insurance reform, this would be a good place to start.

      Although you have been reading for a while, welcome to the site. I appreciate you taking the time to offer your insight to the discussion and I hope that you will find other opportunities to participate in the discussions we have. Well thought out insight like yours is always valuable.


  52. Hi T-Ray,

    Welcome and thank you for your insights. Here is a link to the video you were referring to:


    • Goldie, I’m half your sisters age, a vet as well, USAF. I’m in Youngstown Ohio, if we live close, I will gladly help in any way I can. Thank You for everything you have endured and sacrificed!

      God Bless


  54. Thanks for everything you have done, we really appreciate that. Thanks for sharing by the way.

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