Day by Day

Friday, November 21, 2003

And a bonus fisk.

That's right, it's time for more thought than you can shake a stick at. And the fisk is from one of the local rags, just because it got my blood up. Anyways, let the links begin!

From, we have dozens of choices. My picks are as follows:

Jonah Goldberg blames the politicians for forcing the courts to rule on gay marriage. Bruce Bartlett takes on trade protectionism (something that Tim and I disagree on every now and then). Thomas Sowell takes judges to task for their "Legislation by Judiciary". Mike Adams exposes more false liberal "tolerance" on campus, and it's not a pretty sight. Walter Williams links the anti-tobacco crusade to the loss of property rights. Don't even get me started on this one. I could go on a rant for days. And what would linky love from Townhall be without the Dream Woman, Michelle Malkin, who rips yet another layer from the Eco-terrorist's facade.

Now then, to NRO, just in case you missed them. The piece which has every right thinking person frothing at the mouth, Amir Taheri's expose on just who the protesters actually are. An eye opener if I ever saw one. More on this later. Sally Pipes describes the ponzi-scheme "prescription Drug" bill as a money sucking waste of time and effort. Can't say that I disagree with her, either. And last but not least, Mr. Dunphy bemoans the bureaucratic machine that has overtaken law enforcement. As an MP, I can sympathize with Mr. Dunphy.

Now then, on the Taheri piece, can anyone actually say that they're surprised? The people protesting the war are, quite simply, the enemy. They are Marxists, who refuse to see their dream of Communism die the death that it deserves. They are Radical Islamists, who have no problem sending their kids to die in suicide bombings, if only they get their dream of world-wide Shari'a law. They are the people determined to drag this world down into the depths of misery, depression, despair, and hopelessness. Not contents with murdering over 100,000,000 people in various marxist hellholes, they want EVERYONE to suffer equally. Except for them, of course. Whenever I debate a communist, I always ask "Just WHO is going to determine what everyone needs, anyways?" I haven't gotten a strait answer yet. And in an interview, one of the protesters lays a favorite leftist lie to rest.

In his book Revolutionary Islam, published in Paris last month, Carlos, who says he has converted to Islam, says he has advised Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader, to forge an alliance with "all guerrilla, terrorist and other revolutionary groups throughout the world, regardless of their religious or ideological beliefs."

Carlos says Islam is the only force capable of persuading large numbers of people to become "volunteers" for suicide attacks against the U.S.

"Only a coalition of Marxists and Islamists can destroy the US," he says.

So much for Saddam and Bin Laden not getting along, eh?

I did promise a fisk, did I not? This is from the Seattle Times, only slightly more to the right than the Seattle Commie Apologiser Post-Intelligencer. The columnist is one Froma Harrop, another person who can be counted on to spew the various positions handed down by the liberal elite.

There's really no point in getting excited over the conservative plot to kill off traditional fee-for-service Medicare. It's going to fall flat on its face, anyway.

Of course, traditional "fee for service" Medicare is an abysmal failure, to the point that many doctors are refusing to accept any more Medicare Patients. A re-embursement rate of around 48% will do that to people. Something to do with medical costs and the failure of Medicare to adequately cover them. But wasn't that clever of her to zing conservatives in the first paragraph?

We're talking about the grand scheme to pit private health plans against the government-run program. It was to be a centerpiece in the big Medicare drug bill. The privatization idea has since shrunk to a few pilot programs, starting in 2010. Better to have the pipe dream fail in selected cities than to drive everyone crazy.

But of COURSE the government can do things better than the private sector! Just look at Social Security with it's 0.062% interest return! What's that you say? IRAs? 3%-4%? On a BAD day? No kidding!

I appreciate the conservatives' unease over fee-for-service Medicare. About 80 percent of Medicare's 40 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries choose this option. Once Grandma buys a Medigap policy — which covers expenses Medicare doesn't — she can visit doctors all day and never spend an extra penny of her own money. The government picks up most of the bill.

I never knew that 48% was considered "most" of the bill.

This setup is rough on taxpayers. Under current rules, Medicare spending will jump from $250 billion this year to $310 billion in 2006. Heaven knows what will happen when the giant baby-boom generation starts retiring in 2008. So any thoughtful policymaker would want to change the program to encourage more careful use of medical resources.

How nice of you to think of the taxpayers, Froma! But it's not just hard on us taxpayers, it's hard on every medical facility that doesn't get reimbursed. It's hard on patients who struggle to find a doctor that will accept them. Medicare is a failing program that should have been removed, torn down, demolished, and put out of everyone's misery long ago. But it wasn't, and now we're forced to attempt to fix it.

But rather than reform fee-for-service Medicare, conservatives are trying to poison it slowly. And they're so blinded by hostility to the government-run plan that they are offering alternatives that will cost more, not less, money.

Well, what's wrong with competition? When it comes to Medicare, most everything.

Fee-for-service Medicare puts millions of people in the same giant insurance pool. Some enrollees use a lot of medicine. Others use very little. The healthy subsidize the sick. That's how health insurance is supposed to work.

Gee, why would we be hostile to a government run plan? Hmmmmm, how about widespread corruption, bloated, money sucking bureaucracy, and inability to respond to market demands? But it's nice to see the author attempt to acknowledge how the free-market works.

A sneaky but effective way to destabilize this arrangement is to drain the pool of healthy participants. How can that be done? By subsidizing private health plans to attract the profitable beneficiaries.

Under the pilot program, each participant would receive a voucher to buy insurance from a private plan or from the government-run program. People who chose a cheaper private plan could get money back. That makes it a good deal for those who rarely see doctors.

And here is where Ms. Harrop goes off the deep end. I'll let her hang herself continue.

The joke of it all is that while the private health insurers may hurt traditional Medicare, they won't save the taxpayers money. Consider the sorry history of Medicare HMOs: Private health plans were to lure beneficiaries into managed care with promises of drug coverage and other new benefits. Congress cut payments to the private insurers in 1997, and they abandoned the program in droves. Or they slashed benefits.

The Medicare bill will now sweeten the deal for private health plans — offering payments in line with those under the fee-for-service program. People in traditional Medicare, meanwhile, are protected against big hikes in their premiums. So where are the savings going to come from?

Here's the deal, Ms. Harrop. Any person who is able to have private health care in the FIRST place doesn't touch Medicare! Hell, people avoid Medicare like the plague, because it's an inefficient, bloated, unmoveable, government run debacle! Do you really think that people WANT to be on Medicare? NO! These folks know that Medicare is the LAST place they want to go for help! There are no "healthy participants" in Medicare to begin with! The very fact that you attempt to claim that a private health insurance company is anything like a government run socialist ponzi-scheme like Medicare shows just how far into the deep-end you are! Medicare doesn't need reform, it needs to be killed!

Many conservatives retain a touching faith in the private sector's ability to do the job more efficiently than government — but they never explain how. Medicare spends less than 2 percent of its outlays on administration. It has no marketing expenses. It doesn't pay dividends to shareholders or turn its executives into tycoons. Private health plans, by contrast, spend 20 percent or more on administration costs.

Yes, our "touching" faith in the free market, reinforced on a daily basis by the total and complete FAILURE by the nanny-state government to do anything with the efficiency of the free market. I want to know just where the hell Ms. Harrop gets her "2%" figure, because I'll call it a damn flat out lie right here and now. The fact that medical practitioners get reimbursed less than HALF of the cost of treating Medicare patients exposes the fraud of Medicare. Perhaps Ms. Harrop forgot that every dollar spent by the government had to be taken out of someone else's pocket. And let's go through the list of people to have a hand on that dollar, shall we? The IRS starts the ball rolling. Every bureaucracy in the government has administrators, paper pushers, handlers, and sorters. The IRS is no different. Once your dollar gets through THAT little gauntlet, THEN it comes back out, battered, beaten, and much smaller, only to be shoved into the maw of whatever government blob is in charge of the service du jour. Which means another gauntlet of paper pushers, handlers, administrators, and other people. All of which get paid. By this money. Do you really think that there will be much left of that dollar when it finally gets to where it needs to go?

Today, private insurers generally pay doctors and hospitals higher fees than does traditional Medicare. After all, they lack the government's size and bargaining power.

No, you socialista bitch, they don't have the money eating BULLSHIT BUREAUCRACY that the government has! And the government HAS NO FUCKING BARGAINING POWER, as proved by doctors NO LONGER TAKING MEDICARE PATIENTS! WOW, GREAT LEVERAGE THERE! This is what you want to inflict on the American public, you socialist twit? NOT ON ME, and NOT ON MY FAMILY!

And FINALLY, we get to the END of this blathering twit's hallucinations.

One suspects that many conservatives don't really care how the chips fall — as long as they're heavy enough to break the back of traditional Medicare. The gold nugget in the ruins would be a voucher system, whereby every Medicare beneficiary received a check for X amount. Elderly Americans would use the money to buy insurance. Anyone who needed more care than the voucher bought would have to find funds elsewhere or go without.

The main goal, then, is to limit the taxpayer's responsibility for the senior citizen's medical problems. And the real issue is how much medical care our society is willing to pay for, rather than who will write the checks to the doctor.

If conservatives want to reduce the taxpayer's exposure to rising Medicare costs, let them say that. It's a fair argument. But all this talk about "choice" and "updating" or "modernizing" Medicare with "marketplace competition" is pure malarkey.

Gee, there's also that little part about the seniors who have been lied to by the socialist nanny-staters, who now face rising medical costs and no way to pay them. These same seniors, lied to by the socialist nanny-staters, who can't find a doctor who will take them because the nanny-state program WON'T PAY FOR THE DOCTOR'S COST! For years, it's been the free-markets, through health insurance companies, that have made it possible for the socialistas to plan and scheme. Hospitals and medical clinics simply made up the difference in reimbursement by charging actual insurance companies more. Which of course, caused insurance companies to charge more. Which meant more people couldn't afford insurance. Until the whole bullshit socialist scheme fell apart, and now we have to figure out a way to fix the problem without hurting those seniors who got suckered into the socialist crap.

Medicare is the perfect example of how the government will fuck things up horribly. The perfect example of why socialism fails, time and time again. But this socialist bint is complaining about us mean conservatives. Maybe she should talk to hospitals and clinics who turn away Medicare dependent seniors instead of poo-pooing the free market.

It's the socialist schemes that have hurt people in this country. The free-market has been it's savior. I say we give the free market the chance.

It's worked so far!

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