Great truths

  1. In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress. – John Adams

  2. If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed. – Mark Twain

  3. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself. – Mark Twain

  4. I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. – Winston Churchill

  5. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. – George Bernard Shaw

  6. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. – G. Gordon Liddy

  7. Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. --James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

  8. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. – Douglas Case, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University .

  9. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. – P.J. O’Rourke, Civil Libertarian

  10. Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. – Frederic Bastiat , French economist(1801-1850)

  11. Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. --Ronald Reagan (1986)

  12. I don’t make jokes. I just watch

the government and report the facts. – Will Rogers

  1. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free! – P. J. O’Rourke

  2. In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. --Voltaire (1764)

  3. Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you! – Pericles (430 B.C.)

  4. No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. – Mark Twain (1866)

  5. Talk is cheap, except when Congress does it. – Anonymous

  6. The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. – Ronald Reagan

  7. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. – Winston Churchill

  8. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. – Mark Twain

  9. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. – Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

  10. There is no distinctly Native American criminal class, save Congress. – Mark Twain

  11. What this country needs are more unemployed politicians --Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995)

  12. A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. – Thomas Jefferson

  13. We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. – Aesop


The original Benjamin Franklin quote was:


These passages from Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” seem particularly relevant right now…
“At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge, … it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
Scrooge-“Are there no prisons?”
“Plenty of prisons…”
Scrooge-“And the Union workhouses.” . “Are they still in operation?”
“Both very busy, sir…”
“Those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
Scrooge- “If they would rather die,” “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

There are countries with such conditions – in Africa for example – and even in countries with reasonable degrees of prosperity, there are terrible prisons where political prisoners are mistreated viciously.

But … strangely enough … these tend to be countries which call themselves ‘Peoples’ Democratic Republics", or even “Socialist”. Or they are Islamic countries, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose founding in 1979, by overthrowing a pro-American dictator, was wildly hailed by the Left. Some of them even travelled there and returned proudly waving their ‘Khomeini cards’. And not just the average rank-and-file Lefty bonehead either, but prominent Leftist intellectuals. []

England then was a free society. The things Dickens pointed to were, over the next few decades, largely eradicated.

But God help a modern Dickens in Iran, any Communist country, any ‘Peoples Democratic Republic’.

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without the freedom to die penniless in the gutter, I’m just another slave.

I don’t know of people dying penniless in the gutter in advanced capitalist countries, although perhaps you’re talking about the homeless in liberal-run San Francisco?

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never heard of anyone going bankrupt because of medical bills?

Oh yes, people go bankrupt for many reasons. So ‘dying penniless in the gutter’ is what you mean by ‘going bankrupt’?

As for going bankrupt because you didn’t buy medical insurance when you could have … yes, this does happen. We need to force people, as soon as they start working, to put money aside in a fund that will cover these possibilities… force them to buy medical insurance, in effect. Ferociously-capitalist Singapore, with its ‘Provident Fund’, is a model here.

It’s just the idea of Social Security, extended to medical care.

Of course, if someone can work, but elects not to, then what happens to them as a result is not the problem of the rest of us.

Christians will probably try to help them, with free charity hospitals, since Christians tend to do that sort sort of thing, although some people don’t like it:

But maybe there are atheist charity hospitals? I’ve overlooked them if there are, so perhaps you could direct me to them? In the US, or abroad?

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it’s not that simple and you know it.

Okay, explain the complexities.

or create a single payer system. Even Romney was in favor of this.

pre existing conditions, high costs, medical insurance tied to an employer. it’s all a really bad recipe.
it’s time to step up to a 1st world system.

do you support medicare for all? I don’t hate your idea of forcing people to buy insurance. many in your party sure do

Sure. I have no objection to this in principle.
There are two kinds of welfare state measures:

  1. The government takes money away from A, and gives it to B.
  2. The government forces A and B to behave sensibly.

I’m in favor of option 2 as the main way to avoid things like bankruptcy because you get medical bills you can’t pay, or you become unemployed and can’t pay your rent or mortgage.

Conservatives are not Libertarians, although unfortunately, since we have no ideology of our own – conservatism is best thought of as a disposition, not an ideology – and so is liberalism, by the way – our people tend to borrow Libertarian ideas. They’re easy to understand, based on a few simple principles – sort of like political Euclidean geometry. But many conservatives who will fall back on Libertarian ideas don’t really want to see them carried out to their logical conclusion. They wouldn’t really want to auction off Yosemite. And they had no difficulty at all throwing Free Trade overboard. No one made a peep.

I have relatives in Texas. They’re my American Focus Group. Every one of them is a Republican, many are serious church goers, most of the older generation did their military service.

I was a bit surprised, on a visit there, to find that they – at least the ones I was with at the moment the issue arose – are just automatic supporters of the idea of the minimum wage. Our family were dirt-poor sharecroppers in West Texas in the 30s and even today, although almost everyone has taken part in the American dream, they are not country club Republicans. And this is true of the great majority of the Republican base, the ones sneered at by privileged young Lefties.

However, I am sure that on this Forum there are good conservatives who will argue against any form of government-arranged health care, including Medicare, and against the minimum wage in principle. How they square this with support for Mr Trump – who ended Free Trade, another Libertarian idea, and who wouldn’t dream of attacking Social Security or Medicare – I don’t know.

But we’re a big tent.

Not necessary; mandate HSAs, then let people decide what to do with the money, whether that’s insurance, joining a collective or paying out of pocket.

The patient together with their Doctor will know best how to use their medical dollars.

Romney btw didn’t support single payer: Romneycare imitated the Dutch system that compelled insurance purchase.

Except the Dutch did not compel religious minorities who objected to having insurance, they were given waivers, and instead formed collectives.

Kind of makes you scratch your head why Obamacare didn’t do the same here…

Oh btw, the Dutch system is one of most expensive in Europe.

The important issue is one of principle.

Do we, or don’t we, allow the government to take some of our income for our ‘own good’? Or allow it to force us to spend some of our income for our ‘own good’?

Some people have strong principled objections to supporting the military. They don’t want their taxes spent on killing people, as they see it. Should we force them to?

Others – as we have seen this year – don’t want to spend money on the police.

And so on. Do we make them do so?

There are arguments against forcing people to turn over some of their income, or the discretion of regarding how it is spent, to other people – the government. In an abstract sense, it’s a kind of legalized robbery: in both cases, men with guns take your money.

The argument was put pretty well by Robert Nozick, the main antagonist, from the Right, of the pre-eminent (liberal) political philosopher of the late 20th Century, John Rawls. Here it is:

Consider the following sequence of cases, which we shall call the Tale of the Slave, and imagine it is about you.

  1. There is a slave completely at the mercy of his brutal master’s whims. He is often cruelly beaten, called out in the middle of the night, and so on.

  2. The master is kindlier and beats the slave only for stated infractions of his rules (not fulfilling the work quota, and so on). He gives the slave some free time.

  3. The master has a group of slaves, and he decides how things are to be allocated among them on nice grounds, taking into account their needs, merit, and so on.

  4. The master allows his slaves four days on their own and requires them to work only three days a week on his land. The rest of the time is their own.

  5. The master allows his slaves to go off and work in the city (or anywhere they wish) for wages. He requires only that they send back to him three-sevenths of their wages. He also retains the power to recall them to the plantation if some emergency threatens his land; and to raise or lower the three-sevenths amount required to be turned over to him. He further retains the right to restrict the slaves from participating in certain dangerous activities that threaten his financial return, for example, mountain climbing, cigarette smoking.

  6. The master allows all of his 10,000 slaves, except you, to vote, and the joint decision is made by all of them. There is open discussion, and so forth, among them, and they have the power to determine to what uses to put whatever percentage of your (and their) earnings they decide to take; what activities legitimately may be forbidden to you, and so on.

Let us pause in this sequence of cases to take stock. If the master contracts this transfer of power so that he cannot withdraw it, you have a change of master. You now have 10,000 masters instead of just one; rather you have one 10,000-headed master. Perhaps the 10,000 will be kindlier than the benevolent master in case 2. Still, they are your master. However, still more can be done. A kindly single master (as in case 2) might allow his slave(s) to speak up and try to persuade him to make a certain decision. The 10,000-headed master can do this also.

  1. Though still not having the vote, you are at liberty (and are given the right) to enter into the discussions of the 10,000, to try to persuade them to adopt various policies and to treat you and themselves in a certain way. They then go off to vote to decide upon policies covering the vast range of their powers.

  2. In appreciation of your useful contributions to discussion, the 10,000 allow you to vote if they are deadlocked; they commit themselves to this procedure. After the discussion you mark your vote on a slip of paper, and they go off and vote. In the eventuality that they divide evenly on some issue, 5,000 for and 5,000 against, they look at your ballot and count it in. This has never yet happened; they have never yet had occasion to open your ballot. (A single master also might commit himself to letting his slave decide any issue concerning him about which he, the master, was absolutely indifferent.)

  3. They throw your vote in with theirs. If they are exactly tied your vote carries the issue. Otherwise it makes no difference to the electoral outcome.

The question is: which transition from case 1 to case 9 made it no longer the tale of a slave?

Clever, no? Case 9 is what we would today call a liberal democracy. But it can be seen as simply a point on a linear transition from total, cruel slavery.

I think there are fallacies here – we could apply the same argument to say there is no qualitative dffference between a new-born baby, completely ignorant and possessed only of inborn instincts, and an old man like me, replete with knowledge and full of wisdom. Where did the transition from child to adult occur?

Anyway, most conservatives accept, explicitly or implicitly, the ‘right’ of the state to regulate us. We are just always on our guard, or should be, about how this right is used.

A much-quoted observation, made originally by a dead white transphobic homophobic male chauvinist slave owner, is that if men were angels, no government would be necessary, and if we were governed by angels, no limitations on government would be necessary.

I happen not to think that’s quite true, but let that pass. It’s basically right.

Once you’ve conceded the necessity for government – a state, armed men, who can imprison you for not doing what they tell you to do – then we’re just haggling over the price, as the joke has it.

I think some form of government involvement in the provision of health care is necessary, just as it is in the provision of education. Once that is conceded, we can quibble over the details of how that is done. It’s an important quibble, because if you get these things wrong, in the nature of things, they are hard to undo: private companies which screw up will go out of business but government never does, as witness our dysfunctional government school system in the inner cities.

However, I don’t have the time or inclination to do the work involved which would allow me to put forth a comprehensive program for American health care. All I can do is say, Singapore seems to work pretty well, but I’d also look at other smart countries - all the Europeans, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea – and see how they do it, and – remembering that we have a different nation here, a different culture, different tribes – try to come up with something that combines the best of the others and avoids their mistakes.

If people are getting their medical coverage from work, why does government see the need to mess with it? It seems like that part of the problem is solved and that government should concentrating on those who don’t have it.

When my wife had to take an early retirement, her company agreed to give her medical coverage until age 65 when she could go on Medicare. It was a private contract between my wife and her company. Yet, when Obamacare kicked it, her medical benefit was called “a Cadillac plan” and she lost it. It cost us $5 to $6 thousand a year because of Obamacare. Only a Democrat sheep would be unable to understand why we were not Obamacare fans or Obama supporters.

Why do the Democrats do this? It’s designed to control people and make them dependent on government and the Democrats. It’s no different than the situation in West Virginia many years ago when the crooked union bosses used medical cards to keep dissident miners in line so that the bosses could stay in power and live like kings off the miners’ union dues. These crooked officials got big salaries, lavish benefits and rode around in limousines while the miners could barely scrape by.

what if people don’t have enough money to put into an HSA or cover their bills?

I don’t want my medical tied to my employer. How are you enjoying your govt paid health care by the way? Funny how there is no problem to be solved by those already on medicare.

Would it be unreasonable to say that we have enough money to do both? Have a reasonable health care system and a strong military?