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The most important reason to support Barack Obama for president
Posted: 22 January 2008 08:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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It was a lot less mob rule than it was panic that a few took advantage of to push through some rather sweeping powers.
The flaw in democracy (though we are not a democracy in the classic sense) is that the masses will figure out that they can vote for “bread and circuses” (was it Plato that said that?). Luckily we have a Constitution that should have nuked several aspects of the patriot act. Of course adherence to the Constitution would solve a bunch of problems with government excess at the Federal level.

The gaping hole in our system right now is that the Constitution is not really considered when there is a “crisis.” Every thing has a price. What price are we willing to pay?

Brandt

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Posted: 23 January 2008 04:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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Brandt,
Which of the candidates, if any, do you think would accomplish what you desire?


Separately from various contentions above, and along the lines of the OP:

Another of the several reasons I support Obama, is the probability that election of ANY Republican in November would in the next few years bring about further rightward / pro-theological skewing of the Supreme Court.  Justice Stevens, and maybe even Justice Ginsburg, aren’t going to be able to stay on the Court forever.
The inevitable consequence of giving Cardinal Scalia more influence would be even greater weakening of the separation between church and state and further distancing from sane humanist principles in general.

While I think there’s a good chance that Mrs. Clinton could beat the fork-tongued Mormon pretty boy in the general election, I think also that Senator McCain might handily beat her in November.  (And let’s not forgot the likelihood of the “ain’t no evolution” Huckster being on the R ticket somewhere.) 

On the other hand, if Obama comes out on top at the end of the primaries, it appears to me that he has the best chance of winning against any of the R candidates.

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Posted: 23 January 2008 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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Brad,
I would prefer Ron Paul. I also believe that he will not make the cut on the nomination. Further, due to some nomination/campaign/election laws if was to run under another party he would not make the ballot in places like Texas.

Frankly I can’t call the Democrat side of things. Clinton and Obama are both looking quite strong. A ticket with both of them on it would be very strong. I think that McCain is going to take the Republican nomination. I just don’t want to deal with the military action (not a war) in Iraq continuing and I don’t want to see us wrapped up in Iran.

Of course, Patrick Henry or his friendly adversary Jefferson would be the best choice.

Brandt

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Posted: 23 January 2008 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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Selections from Ron Paul’s newsletters ...

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Posted: 23 January 2008 07:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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The link is not opening for me.

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Posted: 23 January 2008 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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Brandt - 23 January 2008 07:43 AM

The link is not opening for me.

It comes and goes. Took me a few attempts as well.

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Posted: 23 January 2008 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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Brandt - 22 January 2008 08:04 PM

It was a lot less mob rule than it was panic that a few took advantage of to push through some rather sweeping powers.

Panic is one of the reasons the Framers feared mob rule.
If the mob has the power to influence policy then a panic will influence policy in turn.

The flaw in democracy (though we are not a democracy in the classic sense) is that the masses will figure out that they can vote for “bread and circuses” (was it Plato that said that?). Luckily we have a Constitution that should have nuked several aspects of the patriot act.

It’s not clear how the Patriot Act would qualify as a “bread and circus” measure.

The Constitution, so far as I can tell, has no provisions that clearly contradict the Patriot Act.  As technology advances, application of the Constitution often enters gray areas.  The liberal judicial philosophy opts to interpret the Constitution according to the times, in which case the court’s interpretation could go either way.  The conservative judicial philosophy attempts to interpret the Constitution as it would any other law (according to the words and context).  The latter approach requires legislative solutions (perhaps even an occasional constitutional amendment) where the guidance in the existing document is unclear or absent.

Either way, it’s difficult to say that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional in any clear sense.

Of course adherence to the Constitution would solve a bunch of problems with government excess at the Federal level.

It might also create new ones (such as a catastrophic loss in war).

It is unlikely that the changing world will forgive rigid adherence to a system that fails to countenance those changes.

The gaping hole in our system right now is that the Constitution is not really considered when there is a “crisis.” Every thing has a price. What price are we willing to pay?

Agreed.  Keeping your phone records totally private from the government might cost the lives of thousands or millions.  During WW2 (as well as other wars) the nation allowed the government to use a draft to build its armies.  Go freedom, eh?  Was that constitutional?

Which is the bigger loss of freedom, military conscription or the Patriot Act?

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Posted: 31 January 2008 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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dougsmith - 08 January 2008 07:25 AM

I only hope he decides to support universal healthcare. So far he has been the most intransigent of the Democratic hopefuls on that subject. Paul Krugman has mentioned this HERE and HERE for example.

Doug!!! OMG!  I actually disagree with you (and in this rare instance, Krugman). smile

But then, I ain’t no expert, so I’m willing to have my reasoning consigned to the burning hell of upside down and flayed fallacies. smile

It may be best to split Universal Healthcare off into its own topic…

In my not-so-humble opinion, universal healthcare in every form currently and seriously proposed by the candidates is a disastrous train-wreck of a calamitous idea.

Here is a list of some of the basic problems with a government-pays approach:

1) In free market, the quality of goods and services tends to correlate inversely with price.  The more healthcare moves toward “free”, the more its quality tends toward “abysmal”.

2) There is no such thing as “free”.  The expertise, research, administration, and training require huge amounts of time and material - which equates to money. That money must come from somewhere…

3) Current projections of national health-care costs are based on *current* utilization of the health-care system.  This neglects that under guaranteed and heavily subsidized healthcare, demands for services will vastly increase - with concomitant increases in costs and demands for facilities and expertise.

4) Points two and three together imply the collective economic cost of universal healthcare will be enormous.

5) The American government is in an absolutely unique position to be able to finance public (e.g. government) services with public debt.  Largely, this is because the international monetary unit is the American dollar.  The implication is that it is “easy” for the American government yield to the temptation to use debt financing.  It is thus not unreasonable to suspect that a tremendous public cost will be covered by tremendous government borrowing.

6) The “free-rider” problem, otherwise known as the “tragedy of the commons” connotes a context in which those who don’t pay for a good or service benefit from it.  The temptation under a gauranteed system is for everybody to minimize their cost and maximize their benefit by becoming a free rider (as Krugman points out).

7) Any scheme that has the government paying direct subsidies to garauntee healthcare encourages both consumers and providers to milk the cash cow of the public teet until said cow dies of dehydration.

Them there points are the ones I can think of off the top of my knoggen.  Here are some alternatives:

A) Use a market-based “credits” system, much like fishing credits sold to fishermen, or the CO2-credits associated with Kyoto.  Such market-based systems have historically proved to be the single most effective means for government to regulate and manage a scare commodity.  These credits could be exchanged (bought/sold/traded) between and among both providers and consumers of healthcare.  Let’s say for example every citizen got a fixed number of credits for doctors visits (say 5), clinic visits (say 15), ER visits (say, 1) and hospital stays (say .5) per year.  These credits would be issued by insurance companies first, then by the government to “fill in coverage gaps”.  Perhaps this could vary based on age and base income.  In any case, those who didn’t use all their credits could sell them to those who needed them, whether that’s a hospital, or a patient.  This selling would of course occur via a mediating market or broker.  The insurance companies and government would then be responsible for paying on the credits once they’re “cashed in” for actual care.  This also provides a means for consumers to recoup some of the “insurance” costs they did not end up needing.

B) This doesn’t take into account the different costs of services (e.g. different emergency-room visits for different ailments don’t incurr the same cost).  This is where evidence-based medicine becomes important.  With automated HIT systems, it is becoming possible to track treatment plan effectiveness across a huge set of data/occurrences.  One thing the government CAN do better than anybody else is to provide a data clearinghouse and analysis service charged with measuring the effectiveness, including cost-effectiveness, of different courses of treatment and diagnosis.  This should allow for a determination of “average reasonable costs” without the low-cost bias introduced by HMOs and insurance companies.  It is these average costs (which must at first be estimated rather than calculated) that will be paid out for the credits mentioned above.


This is just the skeleton of an idea, but my basic point are thus:
I) A market-based system is far better at ensuring quality of service, continued innovation and effective treatment than is a government-funded one.  As a nation moves more toward the government-funded end, there is a corresponding decrease in quality, research and effectiveness of healthcare.  This, I believe, was Giuliani’s point.

II) Allowing poor people access to the market, and providing them help in cases of emergency is what a not-for-profit government can do better than a for-profit insurance company.  But if the government gives all services to all comers, we’re back at the first problem.  This, I believe, is the trap most Democratic plans are leading us toward.

For the record (not that it’s germain), I’m far more sympathetic overall to the Democratic political platform.

[ Edited: 31 January 2008 01:22 PM by tscott ]
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Posted: 31 January 2008 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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tscott, universal healthcare in Europe and Canada is much better at achieving measurable endpoints on healthcare than is the US system. For more on this you can check out Krugman’s blog post HERE. Indeed, for sheer inefficiency, the US is tops. We spend way more per capita than does the EU and Canada and have a worse system to show for it.

Providing poor people health care only in cases of emergency is immoral, inefficient and dangerous. It is immoral because everyone ought to have access to decent, preventative healthcare. It is inefficient because providing such preventative healthcare is much less expensive in the long run per patient than having to deal with problems when they advance to the emergency room. It is dangerous because many of these emergencies involve transmissible diseases. Preventative healthcare, such as vaccinations, reduces the load of such diseases on the general population. The under-served poor is a good breeding ground for preventable diseases.

Further, in the final analysis any workable healthcare system is a form of insurance (nobody is arguing that healthcare is “free”). That is, those who are healthy will of necessity be bearing some of the cost burden for those who are sick. And insurance becomes more efficient the larger the percentage of the population that pays into the kitty. Making these payments mandatory is essential, because it eliminates the “free rider” problem of the healthy wealthy who opt out.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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Doug,
If I may ask, what if a citizen does not wish to pay into the system? Would you recommend that a citizen be able to opt out of the government socialized medicine plan and purchase private insurance?

Brandt

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Posted: 31 January 2008 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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PLaClair - 08 January 2008 07:01 AM

I’m no fan of David Brooks, but his Op-Ed in todays New York Times contains a statement that may express the best reason to support Barack Obama for president.

“Obama emphasizes the connections between people, the networks and the webs of influence. These sorts of links are invisible to some of his rivals, but Obama is a communitarian. He believes you can only make profound political changes if you first change the spirit of the community. In his speeches, he says that if one person stands up, then another will stand up and another and another and you’ll get a nation standing up.

“The key word in any Obama speech is “you.” Other politicians talk about what they will do if elected. Obama talks about what you can do if you join together. Like a community organizer on a national scale, he is trying to move people beyond their cynicism, make them believe in themselves, mobilize their common energies.”

This appears to be a major development in our national history. One of the commentators on MSNBC last evening, a conservative, observed that we haven’t had anyone like Obama since June 6, 1968, the day Robert Kennedy died. At long last, we may have a national leader who can inspire us in the way Kennedy tried to do. The devolution of government into an enterprise for the promotion of self-interest, which began when Nixon was elected, may be about to be turned around. If it happens, we may yet see a restoration of idealism and citizen participation for the common good. It will be harder than it was in the 60s, but to me it is essential to the preservation of any semblance of democracy.

i agree with doug on the healthcare issue. the similarities between hillary’s and his idea are distrubing. its just handouts to insurance companies. it does nothing to resolve the cost problem. a single-payer program is what we need. not to have CIGNA subsidized to ensure excessive administrative costs and profiteering.

also, has anyone paid attention to his votes on minimum wage?

he has consistently voted AGAINST it yet he voted to give Congress a raise….

also also, i am not impressed with his rhetoric on Iran.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 03:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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Brandt - 31 January 2008 02:59 PM

If I may ask, what if a citizen does not wish to pay into the system? Would you recommend that a citizen be able to opt out of the government socialized medicine plan and purchase private insurance?

Allowing people to opt out of government insurance would defeat the purpose.

However, that said, I believe that Hillary hasn’t actually suggested a single-payer system. Instead she seems simply to be mandating that everyone have insurance of some sort. Obama is less clear about mandating this coverage. I believe both of them would still be having you purchase that coverage from private insurance companies, though.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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Brandt,

US citizens already pay into the system.  They just don’t get the service.  Universal medical care has nothing to do with higher costs.  It’s about cutting out the pork.

As for opting out, do you think that citizens should be allowed to opt out of paying for police service, fireman service, sidewalks or military spending?  Should we be entitled to opt out of anything at all that the government spends money on that we don’t personally agree with?  Personally, I can’t think of anything under the sun that could be rationally regarded as more legitimately fundamental than the provision of health care.  After all, health comes before anything and everything else.  IF you’re dead, who needs a policeman, fireman or sidewalk.

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Posted: 01 February 2008 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 31 January 2008 03:20 PM

Should we be entitled to opt out of anything at all that the government spends money on that we don’t personally agree with?  Personally, I can’t think of anything under the sun that could be rationally regarded as more legitimately fundamental than the provision of health care.  After all, health comes before anything and everything else.  IF you’re dead, who needs a policeman, fireman or sidewalk.

Those are excellent points, IMHO.  The health of the nation very much includes, well, health. 

Those of us with health insurance already pay for those who lack insurance through hospitals passing on their emergency room costs, among lots of other things, to the insurance giants, who then charge the insured and our employers higher premiums. 
For my part, after breaking a clavicle in an accident last February and spending eight hours in an emergency room myself, I spent probably the equivalent of a work week in hours on the phone trying to get the insurance company to pay their portion of the bill.  From that one visit, I received bills from six different providers.  I have a folder full of correspondence about an inch thick from that one hospital visit.  The final bill was paid (by me) after ten months of fighting, about two weeks ago.
How efficient is that?

The idea that an individual should be able to opt out of paying for specific forms of government spending has always seemed to me to indicate a misunderstanding of how citizenship is supposed to work.  We vote, we organize, we write letters, we speak our minds.  We don’t “opt out.”  The operative word is “we,” not “me.”  If one doesn’t think the government should be more involved in health care, one can vote for Senator McCain or Mormon the Barbarian.  I think the invasion of Iraq was a foreseeable and horrendous mistake, so for that and many other reasons I’m voting for Obama.

On the other hand, I do know of one dead person who used a sidewalk and who needed a policeman.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/nyregion/09dead.html?scp=1&sq=dead+man+check+cashing&st=nyt LOL

As for Obama’s votes on the minimum wage, I’d like to know what his rationale was on those particular votes.  It seems to me like contrasting votes on minimum wage with votes on Congressional raises is probably comparing apples and oranges, unless you know all the other specific provisions of the bills in question and the circumstances of their presentation in the Senate.  Otherwise you can cherry-pick any Senator’s votes to make them look them look like an ass.  Needless to say, with McCain and Obama or Clinton playing for the highest stakes this year, we’ll all see way too much of that sort of thing soon enough.

[ Edited: 01 February 2008 05:55 PM by Trail Rider ]
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Posted: 03 February 2008 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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Updated a post in which I misidentified the president of the “Republicans for Romney” organization:
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/31871/

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