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  • stewartm commented on the blog post Voters are Tired of Obama’s Governing Approach

    2014-12-17 16:31:16View | Delete

    Forgot the big one.

    I would say the ‘big one’ was the persistence of slavery and the growth of plantation agriculture, which destroyed the small yeoman Roman farmer and also mitigated against Rome ever developing a technological and ‘industrial’-based economy. Cheap labor works against economic progress and efficiency; you will never implement labor-saving technology and more efficient ways to do anything if it’s always cheaper to use slaves (or coolies, or serfs, or whatnot).


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Voters are Tired of Obama’s Governing Approach

    2014-12-17 16:27:46View | Delete

    The voters are voting Republican because they want “an actual economic recovery, accountability for elite criminals, less economic inequality, etc.”?

    The voters are voting Republican (those that bothered to vote, one should say, because in US elections everything is about turnout–the 36 % of peeps who voted last November in no way represent ‘the will of the people’) because in a two party system, the only way to punish one party is to vote for the other, or not to vote at all.

    Besides, Republicans are pretty good at faux populism; it’s hard against them at all to rant against ‘the elites’ while foaming the runways for their own rich ‘owners’. It works because the average Repug voter is even stupider and less well-informed than the average Obamacrat, which is saying something.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Voters are Tired of Obama’s Governing Approach

    2014-12-17 16:17:50View | Delete

    Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.

    Hasn’t the Tea Party long broken that amendment? Isn’t that bit of political wisdom thus outdated?


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Voters are Tired of Obama’s Governing Approach

    2014-12-17 16:16:26View | Delete

    Or were you voting for the free lunch pols who promised tax cuts would pay for all the welfare state you want by taking it away from “them”?

    Are “them” the small minority who own almost everything in the country?

    Why do you have a problem with taxing “them”?


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Meaningless Human Life in Neoliberal America

    2014-12-07 18:48:17View | Delete

    Good work, Ed, and you’ll be missed.

    I am not optimistic either. But remember, don’t be bitter. Allow yourself a break. There are 7 million people in the world; it’s not all on you.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Meaningless Human Life in Neoliberal America

    2014-12-07 18:45:16View | Delete

    It’s not that you shouldn’t harm property when you’re justifiably angry. It’s that you shouldn’t ruin the livelihood of very poor and vulnerable people, your neighbors, who didn’t do anything wrong even by your standards.

    Agreed if you mean “don’t riot in your own neighborhoods. Go to the gated communities of the elites and tear them apart, brick by friggin’ brick. The elites don’t care about your torching your own stuff, but they do care about you torching theirs.


  • stewartm commented on the diary post The Economic Agenda for America: A Commentary by letsgetitdone.

    2014-12-07 18:33:20View | Delete

    We certainly do need to re-invent our infrastructure. But a $1 Trillion program would only begin to scratch the surface, and won’t solve the problem. The estimates of how much we have to spend to do that are roughly $3.6 Trillion.

    I would have had a stimulus specifically directed at this in 2009, at least $5 [...]

  • stewartm commented on the blog post Validation on Health Care Reform

    2014-12-03 15:10:56View | Delete

    What will they do if I’m still sick with Ebola or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever? This Titanic clusterf#@k will sink us all.

    Yeah, you’re absolutely right, it can sink us all. Welsh wrote an article on Ebola:

    Poor people with inadequate health care, nutrition and sanitation are resevoirs for disease to develop. They always have been. Attempts to explain this to the rich, both the global rich, and the American rich, have been in vain for the past half century or so. What happens in Africa, or India, can come back and kill you, just like what happens in the Middle East (half a million dead kids, and so on) can turn out to be very bad for Manhattan.

    So much for Africa. But other nations are at risk as well. The widespread waves of austerity and the destruction of countries have left gaping holes in the medical infrastructure of the first world. Does anyone think Greece, for example, could handle Ebola? Spain already fumbled a case, leaving a nurse who said she probably had Ebola in a public waiting room for hours, while she was symptomatic.

    Austerity, cheapness and incompetence kills. America has about 40 million uninsured. The initial symptoms of Ebola look a lot like the flu. Think about what most uninsured are going to do if they get a bad flu? Best case is a trip to the clinic to get some antibiotics. The same is true of many insured. Going to the hospital for a bad case of the flu is overkill, and hospital stays are expensive. Bankruptingly so.

    And imagine you are poor, uninsured and have no paid vacation days, then come down what looks like a bad flu? I imagine you might still go wipe old people’s bums, or clean rich people’s houses, or go to work in retail. Sure, soon enough you’ll be too sick to continue, but for a few hours…

    Here the problem is not only the ACA, but the fact that the US does not mandate that people be guaranteed sick leave that they can use as not to be forced to work and spread infectious (and potentially deadly) diseases around.

    I would like to think that our 1 % would even have the foresight and enlightened self-interest to advocate for real health care for all, mandatory sick leave, vacations, and a living wage (and in fact, a few do):

    But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

    I see pitchforks.

    At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

    But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

    And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

    If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

    The problem is that many if not most of the members of the 1 % are aware of this ultimate reality, but–enthralled knowingly or not by the creed of selfishness and unconcern for others, including posterity, espoused by Ayn Rand–have place their bets on what Ian Welsh calls “the death bet”–that by hook and crook, they can keep things as sweet as possible for themselves until they die. Then America can go down the shithole.

    That is also the problem for the rest of us.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Validation on Health Care Reform

    2014-12-03 14:44:45View | Delete

    But that dog don’t hunt. ObamaRomneyBlueCrosscare can’t work.

    Agreed, objectively speaking. But I refer you to this:

    Insane–believing things that aren’t true.

    Insane–decision makers are cut off from the consequences of their decisions and in fact are getting reverse feedback, as things get worse for most Americans and as America gets weaker and poorer, they are the richest they’ve ever been.

    Insane–so rich that no one will stop doing things that clearly don’t work and are harmful, because people are making money off the insanity.

    All of this is what makes predicting the US so surreal. It’s not just about knowing what the facts are and then thinking “ok, how would people respond to that?” You have to know what the facts are, what the population thinks the facts are, what the elites think the facts are, who’s making money off of it, and then ask yourself if these facts are having any real effect on the elites and if that effect is enough to outweigh the money they’re making off of failure (how many of them have children serving in Iraq? Right, not urgent to fix.)

    That is our conundrum as a country. You can’t say “X is objectively the thing to do, at some point even the most obtuse will see it” as long as NOT doing X makes them rich.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Validation on Health Care Reform

    2014-12-03 14:01:32View | Delete

    Obama and the dems controlled congress.

    Didn’t say that didn’t, just that if I had been President, that’s what I would have done.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Validation on Health Care Reform

    2014-12-03 14:00:13View | Delete

    True but they or even the Republicans have to come up with an alternative plan

    The Republican plan is to “reform” Medicare by turning it into Obamacare (though they won’t phrase it that way, that’s essentially what it is).

    This is why the Republican votes to repeal Obamacare is so much grandstanding. The only thing that they would do is to do away with the few remotely useful parts of the law (Medicaid expansion, the medical loss ratio, etc.) but they would keep the individual mandate and the tax. It’s their “solution” to benefit the medical-industrial complex “improve American healthcare”, after all.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Validation on Health Care Reform

    2014-12-03 13:55:37View | Delete

    At the begining of 2009, Dems should have passed Medicare for All to take effect after 24 months unless the “free market” could produce a product that cost less (per person) than France, Germany & the UK and had better health outcomes & longevity.

    If I had been Obama, I would have declared an emergency (for ordinary people, true enough) and simply opened up Medicare as an option to anyone “as a temporary expedient until Congress solves the problem”.

    Heh, I can imagine the pressure on Congress to get something through as opposed to stall, no? Plus the longer the emergency went on, the more people would decide that they liked Medicare, and taking it away would be more difficult.


  • Hmm, you say that economics is not a (social?) science.

    I would agree that today’s pedaled- and taught-version isn’t, but really, shouldn’t that be the aim? What other use is the discipline is not to make predictions given a set up inputs?

    That applies to us critics of mainstream econ, because we think that the conclusions and models of the mainstream are more faith-based than empirically-based.


  • stewartm commented on the diary post Crossburner Chuck: Still Racist (And Wrong) After All These Years by Phoenix Woman.

    2014-11-29 15:47:39View | Delete

    I’ve just noted that those who rant the most about “intelligence”, like Charles Murray, aren’t terribly. :P The actual evidence is that the brain is more like a muscle–use it, and it strengthens; don’t use it, and it can atrophy. Should that be any surprise? But the notion that you can sum up all forms [...]

  • Sick, destitute people piling up and insurance co. stocks at all time highs are how you know it’s working!

    You wonder how long “bending the cost curve” this way will work. Because very often when you put off care, you just make things worse and thus more expensive to treat.

    That’s another huge problem with O-care–Dim apologists like to say “it covers preventative care at 100 %” but to my mind “preventative care” isn’t just a list of highly specific procedures (like colonoscopy). True preventative care includes “I have chest pains this morning, perhaps I should go see the doc”, or “My vision suddenly went blurry just now, perhaps I should go see a doc”, or “I see blood in my stool, maybe I should go see a doc”. Everything you read about such symptoms say “they may be indeed nothing, but you should check them out because they also could be the start of something very serious”. But in O-care, you’re deterred by cost to check these out.

    And thus, for the times they DO turn out to be serious, the system will pay a LOT more than it would for that office visit or two. Yeah, real smart, Dims!!


  • In reality what Obama meant by “bend the cost curve” was that the ACA contained provisions to actively encourage the increase of their co-pays and deductibles with the goal of bending national health expenditure but often at the expensive of sick middle class families.

    Where I work the new “consumer driven plan” (how’ya like that for a euphemism?) went into place this year. Because of that, people on our old health care plan (max out of pocket for an individual of $1000) scheduled all the surgeries and things they could before the new plan went into place.

    The effect on us with the new plan is softened by the fact that my company also set up Health Saving Accounts (HSAs) where you could allocate pre-tax money for health care expenses per paycheck, money that carries over year to year, so I (and I suppose many others) allocated our money into that that would meet our maximum out-of-pockets (the company for its part put in $500 per individual or $1000 per family into these). So all we have to do is swipe our HSA card and at least we have ‘pre-paid’, so to speak. Still, it’s using our wage money and it thus having to do this reduces what we can use our money for other things, reducing overall demand.

    We do indeed need to bend the cost curve, but the bending should come from the fact that Americans are massively overcharged for health care compared to other countries. That’s the inevitable result of for-profit medicine, where it behooves you to get the customer to pay as much as you can get out of him/her; just like a car salesman would love to charge you $10,000 more per car, it’s in the interests of medical providers to charge you as much as they possibly can to make larger profits. The root of the whole problem originated in making health care a capitalist enterprise that distorts the delivery of care and creates all the wrong incentives.


  • Bending the cost curve through denial of care is the purpose of for-profit health insurance, whether on the exchanges, through privatized Medicare and Medicaid, employer-based insurance, or the individual private market.

    Also it’s the meme of for-pofit health care too. You know, the “magic of the market” where you ration anything just on ability to pay.


  • Obamacare plan choices are simpler than Medicare.

    How much simpler can you possibly get from a “everyone’s covered with no out-of-pockets” coverage like HR 676?


  • Is there anything about health care systems that you didn’t get wrong??

    (The British NHS–despite its merits–is not a singer-payer system, while Canada’s, which you said was not single-payer, actually is)

    The European and Asian not-single payer but universal systems offer less service to those who do not pay for extra, pay doctors and nurses less, spend less on nice waiting rooms and nice architecture.

    Simply untrue. How else could a country like France have the highest-rated health care system in the world?

    If you wanted a single payer system, you should have been out marching demanding that you lose your insurance coverage, lose your current doctor because the government will pick an acceptable one for you, lose your hospital because the government will decide which ones are cheap enough to remain open

    Again, you obviously don’t understand single-payer, which does none of these things.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post The Terrible School Policy Killing Your Children

    2014-11-19 09:27:36View | Delete

    We are literally killing our teenagers by making them go to school so early in the morning. Having high school start earlier in the day is associated with a significant increase in motor vehicle accidents, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

    Oh, I concur.

    When I was a kid, our schools started at 8:30 am and finished at 3:30 pm. Where I live now they start at 7:30 am.

    This matches the parents’ work schedule, and me and a coworker friend gripe about the damn ‘farmer culture’, as he puts it, where just arriving at 7 am or even at 6:30 am is supposed to exhibit some sort of virtue. (In truth, the few times I have arrived at 6:30 am what I see are coworkers drinking coffee, reading the news, or browsing the ‘net, the same thing I might do at home before work, so greater amount of any real work gets done; if anything, less).

    9 am sounds like a good time by me. If the parents want to work early, fine. The kids can take the bus or bicycle, which is more transportation-friendly than parents insisting on driving them there personally anyways. And I also agree that even though I can get up and be somewhere early if need be, I’m more likely to be groggy during the day and fighting off sleep in the afternoon then if I come in later. This seems true even if I got the same amount of sleep the night before. If you can sleep until daylight it and be more in sync with the sun you just seem to feel better than if you have to get up in the dark.


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