Monday, August 03, 2009

Bug Juice, Anyone?

You probably want to go ahead and watch the video to which this blog post links. I doubt you'll want to wait to read all of this hoo-ha first.

One of the reasons I find the New Order so distasteful is that otherwise thoughtful, intelligent people I know seem to suddenly lack that part of their brain that allows them to reason.

Recently, I had a facebook status that lamented a strange and seemingly widespread position taken by many of my dear friends. That position was this: I just don't see how some people can claim that a public option could be anticompetitive. Those that say so must be insane! And close-minded!

Far from saying anything about the desireability of such a public option, through my facebook status I lamented people's (at least asserted) inability to fathom how a public option could be anticompetitive. Anticompetitive like Walmart.

A public option, being subsidized directly by taxpayers, would undercut current plans which would be unable to compete with a plan that was woefully underpriced. Like Walmart, its ability to undercut other plans so drastically would drive those other plans out of the market. Leaving only the big fat behemoth (and maybe the pricey upscale models no normal person can afford). There would be a difference, however: Walmart must still fund itself; a public option that is directly subsidized by taxes could undercut other plans to a degree Walmart could only dream of.

The responses my facebook status received were what one might expect. How stupid and ridiculous I must be! Plus: forget what my brain might tell me -- one person even commented on how curious it was for someone with government insurance to think such a thing! (Forget first that the insurance I am on and have been on I get or got because of remunerative work I or my father gave to the government. Forget second that this has nothing to do with whether a public option would be anticompetitive.)

One problem with an anticompetitive public option that has upset me over the past few months is the thought that the anticompetitive nature of the public option is precisely what recommends the public option to so many on the Left. Once your anticompetitive public option drives all or most of the private options out of the marketplace, it naturally transitions into a single-payer health system.

What troubles me most about this isn't the idea of a single-payer health system. I understand why some would want such a thing, and I understand there are pros to such a system. (I currently oppose such a thing because I am unconvinced such a system's pros would outweigh the many cons that would come with it.)

What troubles me most is that I feel politicians are not being open about it with the American people. The reason for this seems clear.

If our politicians were open and honest about it, the people would tell them hells to the no, and the government re-conception of health care and health insurance would be dead in the water.

So, I provide you with the link above! Inconceivable that a public option could be anticompetitive, you say? Well, the Left's politicians don't seem to think so. As so many are so quick to point out, these people are not idiots.

A public option is the natural precurser that leads us directly into a single payer health system. It is anticompetitive, and that is what recommends it to those in power. Unfortunately those in power are not being honest with the American people, and in some cases they are being downright dishonest. The American people have a right to know exactly what the changes debated today have in store for them.


Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

First of all, you make the assumption that Wal-Mart and other industries aren't already subsidized by taxpayers. We'd take trains everywhere if the government didn't prop up the airline industry every 10 years.

Dems finally have a projection issue (like the GOP invented "tax relief") which is why you get such varied responses. A "public option" is a frame for several things, each being something different to who hears it.

The "public option" I envision is a non-profit insurance company set up by the government where people choose to become single-payers. The power that it will have comes from its membership of millions, and the leverage it has in negotiating with hospitals and drug companies, not by the taxpayers propping it up indefinitely.

The "anti-competitive" folks say what you're saying, but are really frightened of losing so many clients who are now basically forced to buy in to private plans by their employers.

But is that the "public option" written into the bill? Nope. Hell, it isn't even the "public option" those learned "heres-how-we-backdoor-into-single-payer" politicians describe.

As the bill has been changed to accomodate the appearance of bipartisanism, more and more obstacles have been put in the way of the initial vision of the public option plan. Now, its nothing more than a clearinghouse for tax-subsidized participation in private plans.

Dante said...

"As the bill has been changed to accomodate the appearance of bipartisanism, more and more obstacles have been put in the way of the initial vision of the public option plan."

Support from Democrats and Blue Dog Democrats does not make something bipartisan.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Yes, you're right. Hence the "appearance of bipartisanism."

patsbrother said...

You mean "public option" is like this totally cool magical object that morphs into each of our individual hearts' desires?

In that case, for me the "public option" will be a giant, happy puppy!


More seriously: "public option" is not beauty and it is not in the eye of the beholder. Back when you went crazytown on my facebook status, "public option" meant exactly what I said it did: the public option then being proposed as the object of reform.

That was when you just couldn't see it as anticompetitive.

Yes, in the last week, the powers that be have modified that public option (at least temporarily) and are now discussing something closer to your holy vision of a public option.

Those yokels dropped the old public option (again: at least temporarily) because of people like me pointing out things like this.

This is not a matter of "projection."

(And really, Pat, can you stop with the psychobabble and the constant stream of "meta" hyphenates you've employed recently?)

Clearly those in Congress were discussing a very specific plan they and everyone who spoke about it called the public option.

(Words have meaning and somehow we understand public discourse even when the words used are less specific than a contract author would want them to be. For instance, if you started talking about the "Iraq War", somehow I would know you weren't referring to a Sumerian-Assyrian scuffle.)

Based off their own assessment of the natural endpoint of that public option, which is what the Left sought but failed to achieve, it seems the Left's politicians were less than frank with the people on why they wanted that public option so badly. And their less-than-broadcasted views on where that public option would lead us made the liberal everyman's insistence that a public option was not anticompetitive that much more ridiculous.

Hence my post.

They recently appear to have modified that public option in favor of a public option more in line with your "envision". (Thank you, Jeebus!) Do I seriously believe they'll stick with the new one and not try and revert back to the old one when they're back from their break? Not a chance.

(However, I will ask if your first comment registers your disapproval of the old public option. If that one comes back, will you oppose it, since it is obviously at odds with your "vision"?)

Speaking of the current (rather than the once and future) public option, the Left's politicians still have to convince the rest of us that it is a change worth making. As it appears they've been acting mendaciously so far in their quest for back-door health-payer re-envisionment, why should the rest of us trust anything they say now?

patsbrother said...

As to your totally random aside: nothing that I have written requires the assumption that large businesses don't get tax breaks or tax credits. Nothing.

And I'd also like to wade into the canard that we'd all be riding in trains if the government would just stop propping up the airline industry. (Short answer: No. No we wouldn't. Not short of equally or more expensive government expenditures for the railroads.) Unfortunately, this doesn't appear to be the thread.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I guess that's the last time I attempt to explain political marketing to you. Keep going through life, not understanding why things happen.

Right now there are at least three different "plans" in committee. This is not counting future amendments and the negotiations & resolutions of whatever the Senate and House pass, if they pass.

If the public option ends up more like what I envision, I'll be strongly for it. If it is something close, I'll be less strongly for it. Crazy as I feel to say this, I'm giving the legislature the benefit of the doubt here, because the 100% for-profit model we currently have is something I see as destructive.

And the people already convinced us that reform was worth making. Its called an election and it has consequences. We had one last November, you may recall. Some folks will never be convinced, however, and you know what? I'm starting to get tired of trying to convince them.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

And if we subsidized Amtrak the way we subsidize the airlines, I could jump on a bullet train right now and be in Athens in four hours.

patsbrother said...

First, thank you for that glowing condescension! I could only wish to go through life empowered by your enlightenment.

And if only I could understand the mystic wonders of political marketing! Then I too could see policy issues not through the lens of what is actually being debated but through the rose-colored glasses of my own envisionment! Life then would be swell!


NOTE: The people did not vote for this hooha any more than they voted for Hillarycare in 1992.

Somehow I also don't remember you making this asinine argument after the 2004 elections: "Well, the rest of us should just roll over and submit to the neocons every dream! I mean, the people voted!"


And thank you for making one of my trains point quite nicely. That being: no, no we wouldn't take trains everywhere if only government didn't prop up the airline industry every 10 years.

We'd only be doing it if the government propped up trains even more than it does now.

(Note: I support expanded use and expansions of regional and national train systems.)