Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Health care spending.. National comparisons

Here is an interesting table.

It seems from this chart that the US spends way more per capita on health care than any other nation. ..more than twice as much as Sweden, for example. And considering our GDP is also the highest in the world, we spend a greater percentage of that than any other nation. So obviously money is not the key to good health care. But why does the US spend more than anyone, yet get the least return? Is it because of the evil capitalists who are in complete control of our health care system?

I don't think so. I also see some major factors in this chart that are not pointed out, as well as some major omissions. There are only 2 countries here in the top 10 populated countries of the world. The US is #3 with ~ 312m people. Japan is #10 with 128m. Most of the rest of the countries listed are the size of some of our states. The point being that it is easier to manage things like health care in smaller states, with smaller populations.

It seems whenever the US Fed. govt. gets involved in controlling an industry, that the costs go up & fraud & corruption increase. I would point to this as a source of our increased cost of health care. If the fed would get out of micro managing everything, & let some free market solutions come in, i believe we would see decreased costs in health care, as competition to provide a better, more cost effective product would drive the market. Certainly we need some regulation, but not the massive control the fed is trying to do.

I still have no problem with a state having universal health care if it wants it. Massachusetts decided to try it a few years back. Obama used them as a model. In a state the size of Sweden or New Jersey, it is easier to manage things without the accompanying fraud, corruption, & inefficiency that you get when you expand it 10 fold. To be fair, there should be larger countries in the chart... some that are more the size of the US. I'll list a few. This is from wikipedia list of world population.

1 China 1,339,724,852
2 India 1,210,193,422
3 United States 311,946,000
4 Indonesia 237,556,363
5 Brazil 190,732,694
6 Pakistan 176,873,000
7 Nigeria 158,423,000
8 Bangladesh 151,053,000
9 Russia 142,905,200
10 Japan 127,950,000

There are other factors as well. How multicultural is Japan? Not very. It is more like Sweden than the US. How much does Japan spend on defense? How much do they contribute to world security? How many Norwegians have gone to police actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Africa, etc? How much immigration does Norway have compared to the US? How many Swedes pay taxes? How many are on the dole?

I would say that considering the US is the 3rd largest country in the world, & spends the most per capita on heath care, & spends the most as percentage of GDP, we are doing surprisingly well, considering the other larger countries & the problems they have. Not too many Europeans go to China, India, Indonesia, or Brazil for health care. A lot come to the US.

Most of the larger countries of the world do not provide very good health care for their citizens, public or private. It is financially impossible. If the US tries to offer Swedish style services with the associated costs, we will end up looking more like India or Bangladesh than a western country. It will bankrupt us, as our higher costs drain our resources. Health care is a cost. It does not produce anything. It is more like money spent on defense. It is an industry that is supported by the rest of the citizens of the country. It is a luxury, not a divine right. Many of the countries with high marks on World Health Organization lists are in trouble financially. Italy, Greece, & Portugal have pretty high marks.. according to the WHO. I'm not sure of their data or agenda, but I'll take their rankings at face value.

Like most statistics, anything can be spun to prove almost anything. Either side of a debate can use the same data to prove their points. Charts & graphs are fun.. they look good & imply authority on a topic.  They provide interesting data.. but there are so many variables that it is hard to draw any hard conclusions about the data, except that there are a lot of variables! .. and that statistics are fun for bean counting nerds.

But i will draw one conclusion from this.. it is a conclusion i had already made so it was easy to spin the data to fit my pre-conceived notion:

Larger countries have more trouble providing good health care for their citizens. It is more practical to do it on a smaller, local level, where the actual services are offered.

If we can grasp this, we will return this sort of responsibility to the state & local level, rather than have the Fed. try to manage it. You get the least bang for your buck when the federal govt. does anything. Why would we even want them to do this? Keep it simple. Keep it local. Bigger is not better, when it comes to efficiency in govt.

Health care for all.. death no more!

I don't know how to say this to soften it, but life sucks sometimes. You get old. You get sick. Sometimes you die. There's no real escape from it. No medical system can prevent it. There are multitudes of problems with universal health care & with pay as you go. The cost is the major one. Someone has to pay for it. We do not have enough rich people to tax them at 100% that would cover everyone's health issues. Something has to give. You either ration the care, like is done in most socialist health care systems, or you pay through the nose, or have insurance. If you're poor, you won't get the higher end services in any healthcare system. You've got to have big bucks or primo insurance. The health care costs in the us are ridiculously high. I don't know how to solve this. Socializing it won't do it. Do we have cheaper military or police or firefighters with those services 'socialized?' I don't see how you can pick out the health care industry & suddenly tell doctors, nurses, etc, that they will now make $15/hr.. or $10.. or $5. Won't they unionize? Won't they demand higher pay? They will at least want to get what firemen or policemen get.. or perhaps congressmen.. Euro socialist countries can get by with it because they don't pay the providers. That's why they have the 'brain drain'. People come over here to study, then get a job here because the pay is so much more. Medicare is just another example of why the govt should not be in this kind of business. They are inept, can't negotiate, breed corruption, & are wasteful. We should try to limit the federal govt's management of things to a minimum. If they can keep the highways going, negotiate trade & international treaties, & protect the citizens, that is about as much as we should expect from them. Why on earth we think they can manage anything else with any degree of competence is beyond me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

More welfare state..

Here's the problem. We did not have a welfare state until the late 60's, with Johnson's 'war on poverty'. Before that, people toughed it out. They got 'assistance' from charitable institutions, extended family, & neighbors. Heard of 'Hoovervilles?' Those were basically refugee camps for okies & other people fleeing the dust bowl conditions during the depression. Ever read 'Grapes of Wrath?' See the movie? This was an historical event, so we can learn from it. It also tells us a lot about human nature & motivations.

Ok, so we had thousands of people traveling like refugees to California. They were not given govt. assistance. They were abused. Local people were not happy about Hoovervilles springing up all over, & people wandering around looking for work. The 'okies' were persecuted & discriminated against. If you're not familiar with the history, read 'Grapes of Wrath'. I don't know how modern historians report it & teach it in schools. But as this was a fairly recent occurrence, & many people are still alive when it happened, the reality of what happened should not be in question.

What happened to these people? Are there still 'Hoovervilles' in California, with generations content to live in those conditions? No. Under extreme hardship, outside discrimination, & no govt. assistance, most of those who lived & grew up in depression conditions worked their butts off & got out. They became the 'Greatest Generation' that Tom Brokaw wrote about. They built most of the infrastructure in this country, delivered Europe & Asia from tyrannical oppressors, & pushed the US into becoming the most powerful nation on earth.

So, using our own history & people as examples, which system works better? The welfare state, which few seem to escape from, or freedom & self-reliance? We've been pumping increasingly more money into our welfare state, but instead of helping people, it traps them in a racist, crime ridden system that is very difficult to escape from. Instead of helping them, we have handicapped them & done them a great disservice. The socialist agenda has failed in this venture, because they do not understand human nature & motivations. Govt housing, food stamps, ADC, & welfare checks do not help people in the long run. They do not help a community. They are not good for the culture. The KKK could not have come up with a better racist agenda to oppress & enslave minorities. They give the 'poor' just enough to survive, but it's also enough to take their motivation. They herd them into govt housing projects.. lots of history there.. how is that working? They are just gulags for the poor.. concentration camps to keep ethnic poor trapped in poverty.

The govt is an 'equal opportunity' oppressor, though. There are other races that are lured into the gulags.. promises of easy money.. don't have to work.. something for nothing. They usually build the 'camps' along ethnic lines, so there is not a lot of racial tension. But of course, gangs form & the unmotivated young, with no goals outside of the camps, & nothing to look forward to except a life of oppression & despair, group together in criminal families.

We've got to learn from history, or doom ourselves to repeat our mistakes. The welfare state does not work. It does not work in America, Canada, Europe, Africa, or Asia. I know the liberals mean well.. at least some of them do.. but there comes a time when we have to wake up & smell the coffee. Lets get real. Lets recognize human nature. Let's stop oppressing ethnic groups & those in financial hardship with these racist, failed social programs. They don't work, & now we need to begin the long process of dismantling them. That will be hard, too, since we have built generations of dependency on these programs. There will need to be some weaning in our welfare state. But to free people, it will be necessary.

What does work? Freedom. That is what has built America, that is what other nations have been trying to imitate & move towards. We have not had a 'ruling elite' in America. Anyone with a little luck & hard work can succeed. It is the 'land of opportunity'. At least it was. ..if we can keep the left from pushing us into a euro socialist utopia, with a ruling class, & everyone else herded into work camps. To have the freedom to succeed, you also have the freedom to fail. But failure makes us work smarter, & teaches us the variables, so we don't repeat our mistakes. Give people freedom & self-reliance & you will have an industrious, responsible, successful nation. Yes, there will still be poor... many reasons for that. But has the welfare state 'stamped out poverty?' No, it has only institutionalized it. The poor are more than ever, & still growing. More money thrown at the problem will only increase those who depend on it.

The welfare state is like a wall, built to keep the poor on one side, & the ruling elite on the other. Some escape & climb over the wall. The longing for freedom is great, & there are those who will not live under oppression. But the wall remains, oppressing those who cannot climb over it, & trapping generations in a life of poverty & oppression. 

The solution is simple:

'Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!'

Monday, August 1, 2011

US Debt

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.

Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion.That is “trillion” with a “T.” That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.

Numbers that large are sometimes hard to understand. Some people may wonder why they matter. Here is why: This year, the Federal Government will spend $220 billion on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we’ll spend on Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. It is more money in one year than we are likely to spend to rebuild the devastated gulf coast in a way that honors the best of America.

And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the Federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and States of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on.

Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities."

Senator Barack Obama
Senate Floor Speech on Public Debt
March 16, 2006[/quote]

I really agree with Obama here.. if only he was consistent with his fiscal views, i'd be an avid supporter.  His analysis is spot on, & his conclusions are right.  Why did he change his views on this?  He is right, the debt is a hidden enemy, robbing us of our resources.  We should cut the debt, stop the spending, & become fiscally responsible in the federal govt.  A balanced budget amendment is also long overdue.. since we cannot trust the politicians to be fiscally responsible, we should force them.  Obama says the debt is robbing all these sectors of society.. the poor, elderly, etc.. why does the dem party want to continue 'robbing' the citizens with this scathing rebuke from the chief Democrat?  We finally have some repubs with fiscally responsible views who want to cut spending, why not come together & bring us to financial sanity?  Why this stupid division over something that is plainly obvious that we must do?