Dylan Roberts: The mob is destroying democracy

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Dylan Roberts

For the Pilot & Today

Last fall, I knocked on the doors of thousands of voters from across Colorado and had dozens upon dozens of conversations with these people about many issues. These dialogues were an opportunity for me to hear the ideas of those who disagreed with me and have a civil, genuine debate on the future of the country.

I must have been incredibly naÃive, because after the election, I assumed, based on my hundreds of debates at front doors and on the phone with voters, that we were capable in this country of having an active say in our government through civil discourse. Our congressmen and congresswomen are sent to Washington to represent and promote the views of their constituents. That is the very reason congressmen hold town hall meetings. These forums are as close to representative democracy that an average citizen can get. Our congressmen want to hear from their constituents. That is why no person and no opinion is barred from these meetings. In essence, they are the definition of democracy.

However, what we have seen in the past few weeks regarding these events has been disgusting. Health care is a concern that has, and will continue to have, an effect on every single citizen of this country. On those merits, debate is essential. But this is not a debate.

The mob-mentality to which thousands have resorted when attending these town halls is, in every way, un-democratic. We all know that yelling, disrupting and being completely rude in public is unproductive and not acceptable. We all learned that in kindergarten.

I attended one of these events early this month in Denver at the state Capitol. As I ventured down from a pro-reform group to those on the other side of the debate, I witnessed a young man, maybe 17 years old, yelling at an older woman who disagreed with him. The kid, who proudly donned a T-shirt with a picture of President Barack Obama that read: "Hitler gave great speeches too," was yelling "socialist" and "you are a brown coat" at this woman. Since when has that behavior become acceptable?

Those against health insurance overhaul will claim that what I saw was an isolated incident and should not be taken as representation of the "anti-reform" movement. This, however, is just not true and to say otherwise shows ignorance toward the facts. Not only did I see more swastika signs comparing Obama to Hitler a day later at a rally outside of Rep. Betsy Markey's office in Fort Collins, but even worse displays of fear-mongering have shown up across America. A congressman was hanged in effigy with the protester smiling below, images of Obama with a "Hitler moustache" are carried proudly, and a swastika was spray-painted across a congressman's local office sign. These acts are sadly destructive to all progress we have made in this country concerning free speech and racial division.

The large organizations behind this mob-mentality approach to the town hall meeting should be ashamed. These well-organized groups are channeling angry citizens toward these town halls and arming them with false information and specifically guiding their members to scream, yell and disrupt the meetings at all costs.

They are trading on fear; telling their followers outrageous lies such as "death panels," that the reform includes money for abortions and insurance for illegal aliens, and that the government is somehow trying to "systematically dismantle this country." None of the bills being debated are calling for any of this. These organizations should feel incredibly guilty that they are deceiving hundreds of thousands with purely fabricated fear.

The issue of health care reform deserves an active public debate. There are thousands of people who come to these town halls with relevant and balanced questions from both sides, but when those concerned citizens are shouted down or their answers are drowned out by viral chants of "just say no," democracy disappears.

America needs a discussion on this topic and every other topic that comes into public relevance. However, to deny this discourse from even happening is a distraction while 18,000 people go bankrupt every day from medical bills, and hundreds die because of lack of care. It is destructive to our country, and those behind this un-American activity of smothering democracy should be ashamed.

Roberts was Barack Obama's field organizer for Northwest Colorado during the 2008 presidential campaign. He is a junior at Boston College pursuing a degree in political science and environmental studies.

Comments

ElevenFootPole 5 years, 3 months ago

As one of the million Americans without health insurance I agree with the authors points. I had health insurance most of my life and paid for it myself, out of my own pocket. I watched premiums escalate in 30% increments every year without ever seeing a doctor or filing a claim until it it just didn't make sense anymore. I thought a medical savings plan made sense at first until I realized there were no savings and the money wasn't mine. Angered giving my hard earned money to insurance companies to squander I finally said screw it. We live in an age where "news" is based less on fact and more on conjecture. The internet plays a major role with benefit and detriment in equal measure. To our benefit small voices can now be heard around the world. To our detriment, where once a person had to put their name and reputation on the line to stake a position, we now can hide between a cyber screen of anonymity. How often do we get inflammatory spam from well intentioned "friends" that you wonder if they even read? It reeks of flat out ignorance to stand behind someone else's statement or view and claim "yeah, what he said!". This is the seed of disinformation and deceit. The best reply would be "If you have something to say to me, say it yourself." This country has serious problems that people should be passionate about. They should speak with their own voices only and work towards making their own views known. A recent bumper sticker sighting read something like "I'll keep my gun, you can keep the CHANGE". Mental midgetry, but it sells. The ultra conservative right is out to undermine any logical steps for progress in this country. What they can't and won't admit is that a black president just might be smarter than they are.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 3 months ago

When O is out promoting a health program that doesn't exist it lets him make up the rules as he goes. Every question, mostly preprogrammed, gets the perfect utopian answer. He does this on nearly every subject during his town hall- press conference filabusters. Throw in the ringers and SEIU crowd and I see folks that have never protested before, mostly older concerned people, that can't stand to watch this insult to their intelligence any longer. The town hall gatherings are loaded with talking points, and never willing to discuss the fact that the program benefits their backers. The Dems are willing to squander public treasury to buy off any constituency or representative vote, to pass this with a public option, and get something on the board. One comment described the situation perfectly: "this is like the camel getting his nose under the tent". Once this has happened, we are off on a socialist stampede, Ronald Reagan described the need to use a charitable health care Trojan horse, to initiate the march to socialism. Dylan, I look forward to the day when you graduate from your indoctrination, and start your education. I bought the left ideas for a while after leaving school, they sounded like a quick fix, but as I continued my real education I started to see the shortsighted views did not work long term. LBJ signed every bit of social legislation that he got his hands on and much of it rained down on us, and we are still recovering today. I guess you could include me in the mob that is no longer patient being asked to accept BS answers from an administration that is on OJT. What is left but to shout back, we should not be required to stoop this low to communicate, but maybe this is the plan. A few people do gain advantage in business by requiring the other party to grovel at a level that few will stoop. Medicare is a government idea that is in trouble, if the administration wants to do something let them fix this mess first, and then we may have an insight into government medicine. I think that if politics were removed from health care most of our problems would be over. Where has the civil discourse been for the last sixty years, while the left has held the role of indignation?

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Scott Ford 5 years, 3 months ago

Absolutely welcome to politics. My optimism for any type of meaningful reform is fading. I think the political strategists on the Democratic side of the aisle are beginning to see a danger of ramming something (anything) through that would increase the federal deficit. If something is passed the Republicans will use it as a club to beat Democrats over the head with in the 2010 mid-term elections.

I think an increasing number of Democrats are thinking to themselves "why load the gun that is going to shoot me?"
At this point in time Democrats may be better served by backing away from the reform that is currently being proposed; blame the Republicans as the party of "NO" and wait until 2011 to revisit the issue. Welcome to politics!

Obama is a very smart guy and even if no health care reform bill is produced by Congress the impact of his presidency is far from over regardless of what Rush Limbaugh may think. Sometimes when you do not get what you want experience is what you get.

Most likely he will express his deep disappointment that congress could not produce a bill. Apologize to the American people for Congress' behavior and failure and commit to exercise his Constitutional authority to keep the Congress that is seated in 2011 in session until a bill is passed that he can sign. That statement alone will keep the issue on the front burner.

In the meantime he should work with state governors from both parties to begin drafting a prototype of the bill. It will be hard to argue against this bipartisan approach that is anchored at the state level. I think the American people at this point trust their state governors more than there congressional representatives.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

eleven, You have a lot of, as Obama would say, chutzpa. I guess when you were born your parents named you elevenfootpole. Between the author of this article and the 2 posts which follows above not one true point of what is in the Presidents proposed takeover of the entire healthcare system. Not the lie being told now by the POTUS and his minions including young Mr. Roberts that it is "health insurance reform". I find the hypocrisy of the left wingers to be hilarious with their whining about the true anger and fear being expressed by the opponents of the policies of this Administration. Are you kidding me? The garbage that was put out by the left about the Bush Administration even violently assaulting the Presidential motorcade at a Town Hall. The left wing media never vetted derogatory information before they would air it and therefore you had the Dan Rather fraudulent documents and his firing. Recently the left went after Sarah Palin and every media outlet ran with the lie of her newborn was really her teenage daughters. How inconvenient that her daughter was pregnant at the time. Lie upon lie still continue to this day as recent reports of a divorce were spread around by the left wing blogisphere. Sarah Palin wrote about the end of life counseling provision in HR3200 and the Senate has announced they will take it out of the Senate bill. So who is lying here? I watched Obama yesterday in Grand Junction say, Medicare and Medicade are bankrupt and the private insurers are taking up the slack, so why would anyone want the Government to run the whole shooting match? Mr. Roberts should honestly answer to the true MOB that has been activated by Obama to muscle Americans from going to or getting into the Town Halls to vent their anger, the SEIU and ACORN, who are being bussed in from outside. Why are the Unions going after those companies that advertise on FOX? What would the Unions have to gain by backing the POTUS? Those that can't see the tea leaves here are the ones who will be most surprised in 5 years or so after, if it passes, the bill takes effect that the Unions have taken charge of our lives in every aspect. GM, Chrysler, Banks, Insurance companies, Congress and coming soon to a theater near you, our personal medicine. The other side of the aisle has proposed true health insurance reform in place of the total Government takeover of our health care system but that will be squelched because that is not the goal of the Administration, it is power and money over the populace. And one last thought for Mr. Pole, when a white President and his white Wife proposed this very plan in 1993 it was met with the same reaction from Conservatives as it is being met with today so stop the race bating will you?

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

Now if you don't mind I want to go watch Tiger win his 15th.

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boatgirl 5 years, 3 months ago

Good seeuski, that means you will be getting off the internet for once so we don't have to see your narcissistic, angry garbage for about half an hour.

This is not a "welcome to politics." The right thinks it is "politics" to show up at town halls and scream and yell like a bunch of little kids who got their candy taken away. As Dylan so rightly states, politics is about coming together to discuss our differences in an intelligent, constructive manner. I say grow up to all you fear mongering Repubs.

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Scott Ford 5 years, 3 months ago

Hi Boatgirl Unfortunately it is politics in its ugliest form. The goal of the disruptions that have been taking place is to prevent dialogue not encourage it. Followers of both political parties have been guilty of doing this on occasion. It is a divisive strategy but it is a right, constitutionally permitted, to engage in such a strategy. Both sides need to have the intellectual honesty to admit that this is their goal when this strategy is employed.

Unfortunately, I think the recent success of the strategy of disruption that is being used will only encourage its use in the future. One can only hope that using this strategy will not become the norm. Perhaps the politics of disruption is something we may see at City Council meetings. This would make council meetings far less productive but more entertaining. Agree?

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freerider 5 years, 3 months ago

Racists are alive and well , every chance they get to stick a fork in OBAMA they do it . our democracy is gone , there is no socialism , or fasicts , or liberals or conservatives , no democrats no republicans , only corporatism remains , they are all bought and paid for by corporations , which means we live under a corporate rule . meet the new boss , same as the old boss, money rules all

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 3 months ago

Dylan, The folks out demonstrating are not likely to be encited by their professors or union bosses. In my memory this is the first time that older people have gotten off the couch and asserted their rights to stop this reckless spending and wholesale unproven change. The administration is using a crisis to enact a fifty year backlog of social engineering, just because they have the votes to do it. Dylan, why worry about the mob when you have the votes to do anything you want? Are they there to blame when the Dems can't get their act together? Would Ronald Reagan jump into the fray concerning the Mass. cop/professor incident? Would he go on the road to participate in the health care debate? This micromanaging kid needs to go back and get a real job under a tough boss. If he worked for me he would find himself in front of my desk every morning, getting his ass chewed.No more excuses and finger pointing, this is businesss 101. Use the chain of command, and no more arguing with citizens, especially when you don't know what you are talking about. As president you look bad telling everyone that your detractors do not know what they are talking about, and don't believe their lies. If you have a good program you won't need to spend all your time defending it. This guy fooled most of the people for a time but it is unlikely that he will be sucessful, unless he breaks from the group that brung him. As long as he continues crony capitalism he will have a hard time selling anything. The cap and trade mess is even more absurd than health care, with all his friends lined up at the trough, wait untill the mob confronts this one. Stay tuned!

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ybul 5 years, 3 months ago

Freerider - Fascism is the merging of the corporation and the state.

Dylan, we are supposed to live in a democratic republic. One that protects the individual from the whims of the majority. Legislation, first and foremost, should not harm another.

If you want health care reform look to the root cause of the problem and address that first and foremost. Maybe then, for the governments role in helping to create the problem it can pay retribution, for subsidizing grain which has thrown western diets out of whack.

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carlyle 5 years, 3 months ago

Dylan - when I was a little younger than you I had a chance to get involved with Saul Alinsky. I was involved with the oldest, to my knowledge, grass-roots community organization, the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Organization and, more deeply, with the Contract Buyers League (see Beryl Satter's wonderful book, "Family Secrets"), the Woodlawn Organization (TWO), and the Southeast Chicago Commission. If you go to Wikipedia and look up Mr. Alinsky you'll find a number of books that he wrote. The most important from your perspective will be "Rules for Radicals", a book he completed shortly before his untimely death at 63 in 1972. I never thought that Mr. Alinsky would become mainstream and his tactics used by both political parties to advance various agendi. For what it's worth, actions by these groups helped destroy the economic value of the south and westside of Chicago for over thirty years. While much of the area has and is recovering (see the history of the South Shore National Bank), other parts remain devastated.

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MrTaiChi 5 years, 3 months ago

Let us recognize that the town hall format for dialogue between our elected representatives and the people who pay them is not in thier minds a serious venue for the exchange of ideas. The political class views them as an unwelcome vacation from their lives in Washington to allow thier supporters to lap and fawn over their mini-celebrity. They are shocked that we the governed show up and exhibit passion about this issue. Why? Because this President has already broken his promise not to sign complex legislation without giviing the opportunity for legislators to read and understand it. We now understand that it was larded with pork for Democratic constituencies, for it is the business of democratic legislatures to perpetuate themselves and their power at the expense of good governance, if needs be. Those old white people are upset with the economic revival legislation that threatens to bankrupt the future, and really upset that this administration will rush through a revision of health reform that either favors the Democratic underclass at their expense or harm, or will patch together something to claim success as misunderstood and fraught with errors and unintended consequences as their last massive effort.

This package will fail as presently proposed. The President will change course and find scapegaots to blame, if not one of his own like a page from Machiavelli, he will scapegoat the Americans who expressed and entertained real fears about his legislation. He already has, as indicated above, Americans predisposed to believe that any legitimate criticism of his administration or program is racist.

We need regulations that make medical preconditions portable between carriers. We need well thought out cost control that this legislation in its five manifestations does not have. We don't need, as Howlin' Howard Dean said on the morning news today, a government run universal health plan without which he would consider any legislation not to be true reform. In other words, if it isn't Socialistic, it's wrong.

Let's back up, take a deep breath and first focus on what is wrong and can be corrected, then engage in battle in the public arena about whether we have a moral duty to insure illegal aliens and the wilfully anti-social.

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MrTaiChi 5 years, 3 months ago

ybul

I understand Fascism to be based on the idea that a national leader devines the zeitgiest of the people, manifests it and carries it out. Scary. The involvement of the corporate community is coerced, as government sets production goals according to the needs percieved. The ownership and profits of the corporation largely remain in private hands unlike Communism. The term, 'NAZI', was coined by Churchill. We often forget that the Nazi's themselves called thier movement, National Socialism. We have come to veiw modern political theory in terms of left-right polarity, but perhaps it is time to start thinking about a new polarity that calibrates levels of personal and social freedom.

Sorry Mogul Maoists. Try to get someone at the bar to explain this to you.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

Those on this forum who have been supporting Obamacare have often used Canada's health care system as their idea of what we need here. Those of us against the Socialization of our health care system have echoed sentiments from Canadians who tell us otherwise and now the incoming President of the Canadian Health system speaks out about the truth.

"Dr. Anne Doig, the incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association, said her country's health care system is "sick" and "imploding," the Canadian Press reported." http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,539943,00.html

For those who are FOX news haters: http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5jbjzPEY0Y3bvRD335rGu_Z3KXoQw

Is this about racism or free enterprise and Liberty?

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the_Lizard 5 years, 3 months ago

RACISM!!!!! what to screech when you have no other argument. Pathetic. next they'll be telling us they are open-minded. (eye roll of disgust)

Oh and Mr. Roberts, technically this country is not a democracy, not even a representative democracy, it's a representative republic, or constitutional republic. Thank you for being respectful of my right to freedom of speech. (no matter how hard you campaigned for whomever)

One more thing, how were we going to pay for this monstrosity? Medicare, Medicaid and SS are already over obligated, mismanaged and need to be overhauled before we add another government entitlement program. Right?

Health care needs restructering, but with out big government intrusion. John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods. Please take the time to read his ideas.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052970204251404574342170072865070.html

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the_Lizard 5 years, 3 months ago

Seeuski!!! I just saw this. Thanks for posting it here.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

the_lizard, Thank you for posting the John Mackey letter. It is appalling that Whole Foods is being vilified because Mr. Mackey has been so insightful and honest in his description of the health care issues and what would work in fixing them. And by the way, none of the main stream media outlets online are carrying the Canada health care story.

Here is an interesting encapsulation of their system. http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_3_canadian_healthcare.html

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JLM 5 years, 3 months ago

Frankly, President Obama is being exposed as exactly the inexperienced, shallow, dishonest, ultra-liberal politician he was accused of being by...........................................Hillary Clinton!

America needs another revolution. At a time that we have an incredible tax burden already, this administration's answer to everything is bigger government, more expensive government and more taxes.

Oh, yeah, it's racism, folks! Maybe we can get invited to a beer summit at the White House?

President Obama, a quarter inch deep and a mile wide. Of course, the only honest politician to issue forth from the Chicago Machine! Right!

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JusWondering 5 years, 3 months ago

"18,000 people go bankrupt every day from medical bills"... check your facts Dylan. Your numbers don't add up. There are even not 4.68 million bankruptcies a year (one a day for the 260 business days in a year)!

Given a very loose interpretation (and I even stretch somewhat based on measurement criteria) of what you quote I can come up with: 1. 1.5 million estimated bankruptcies annually. 2. 62.1% of those due to medically related expenses (or almost 932 k a year) 3. 78% of the 62.1% had health insurance (that is what is alarming)

Assuming bankruptcies are not seasonally adjusted that equates to about 18,000 a WEEK not 18,000 a day! I would even stress that coming up with that number is fuzzy math.

"They concluded that 62.1 percent of the bankruptcies were medically related because the individuals either had more than $5,000 (or 10 percent of their pretax income) in medical bills, mortgaged their home to pay for medical bills, or lost significant income due to an illness. On average, medically bankrupt families had $17,943 in out-of-pocket expenses, including $26,971 for those who lacked insurance and $17,749 who had insurance at some point."

Fuzzy math; way too many assumptions in here for me to feel comfortable.

For the article go here: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/06/05/bankruptcy.medical.bills/

That is PART of the problem with this whole debate... misrepresentation on BOTH sides. Know your facts and spew them out accurately.

Our healthcare system does need work, but misrepresentation of the facts will never allow for productive discussions.

As far as the "yelling" goes; I remember many times watching the news stories of beligerant gay activists squelching out right wingers... it goes both ways.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

Thank you Pilot for removing that nonsense from the above post.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

For anyone who wonders how the Government functions with large programs, the cash for clunkers is a big disaster. The Government has only paid 2% of the moneys to Dealers and have hired 1,100 new Government workers to administer the payments. So if the Dealers are receiving $4,500 par car and 3 billion dollars of taxpayer money is being paid, what is the administrative costs for 1,100 people? Used car prices are rising as a result of this destruction of late model used cars along with the elimination of junkers being used for parts in the consumer aftermarket. Just another example of why we should not allow the Congress to run our Health care services. Insurance reform and tort reform yes, health care reform - NO WAY!!!

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NamVet 5 years, 3 months ago

JLM I totally agree we need another revolution to stop government from irresponsible spending. I have been saying this for almost 30 years. In 1980 the Fed. debt was 900 billion and today is is over 11 trillion. Considering Reagan increased gov't spending by 69% and W by 68% why weren't you outraged also when Republicans were totally in control. The only difference is who they spend it on. W's 2 wars, his tax cuts his Medicare Part D were never paid for. It was all financed through China and Saudi Arabia(remember 9/11). The entire burden of these wars was on the backs of our military and their families. Where was the shared sacrifice? Where was your outrage the past 8 years with this fiscal irresponsibility? I hate to tell you there is little difference between Democrat or Republican politicians. They only care about what will get them elected not the good of the country or its people which is why little changes no matter who is in control. The only exception was in the late 90's when both parties got together and actually did some good and balanced the budget and had a surplus at least until W went back to business as usual. The 2 worst Presidents in my lifetime were LBJ and W, both proved what arrogance and ignorance can do to our country. I truly doubt we will ever totally recover from both of them.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 3 months ago

Republicans spend money, especially on defense, they do not like to leave much for the Democrats to go wild on social programs. Tax cuts tend to leave less for the left to squander.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

I just went to Barack Obama's myspace page, why does he think he was born in 1957 as his site claims he is 52?

http://www.myspace.com/barackobama

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JLM 5 years, 3 months ago

NamVet ---

Calm down, you're among friends, brother.

Why do you think I was not "outraged" at the financial excesses of the Republicans under George W Bush?

I am an American patriot before I am an advocate of any political party. No political party has yet completely embraced what I personally believe.

I am a sensible man before I am a slave to any philosphy of governance.

I am a proponent of smart government regardless of who is in office.

The White House and the Republican Congress spent like drunken sailors thereby betraying one of the supposedly bedrock values of their party.

You have to do some very detailed analysis to understand the spending patterns of Reagan v all others. Reagan built up the military while reducing taxes.

Clinton inherited the remaining "low hanging fruit" left over by the Bush I and Reagan Presidencies. The Gingrich Congress put a bit of a damper on the rate of increase of spending. Clinton did nothing to improve the economy other than not messing up what was forced upon him.

Just a bit of spending control with a bit of growth in the economy and the growth rate of the economy will surpass the rate of growth of spending. That is the only good lesson of the Clinton years.

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ybul 5 years, 3 months ago

--3. 78% of the 62.1% had health insurance (that is what is alarming)--

Maybe those that were forced into bankruptcy had problems paying bills because their income went away more than their medical bills.

I have been pondering upon that, as I could handle one or the other for a while but not both.

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JusWondering 5 years, 3 months ago

ybul - I too have been pondering on this very thing. Perhaps the 78% (or some majority of them) had no saftey net (you know the whole 6 months of salary in savings thing). In which case is it really an issue of medical expenses or an issue of not being financially prepared for a set back? I once heard it said that the average American is two paychecks from homelessness. Perhaps that was the issue?

If someone declared bankruptcy over $5k in medical expenses they had much larger financial problems.

But I digress.

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JLM 5 years, 3 months ago

One of the exasperating elements of this healthcare discussion is the obvious realization that some folks are talking about healthcare insurance which is affordable, efficient and effective while others are simply talking about "free" healthcare which is paid for "by others".

Every insurance program has some limits. No healthcare insurance program provides for unlimited, at any price care.

And yet, anecdotes about bankruptcies driven by insurmountable medical bills seem to imply that under the "new" program that will not happen.

That is unrealistic and only serves to further dramatize how disconnected the conversation truly has become.

While we may ultimately arrive at a "chicken in every pot", we are not going to arrive at a "flock of chickens in very pot"!

The healthcare debate has begun to fuel silly unnecessary expectations and this contributes to the anger which this subject has marshalled.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling-Too bad it's not in U.S. waters.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424:

Eventually those that always defend the man they voted for will come to realize that they have been had along with the rest of us.

Soros Active on Petrobras, Energy http://www.hedgefund.net/publicnews/defa:

This is the worst, most dishonest President this Country has ever had. Not just that the whole Cap and Tax thing is a lie but that the jobs that would be a huge benefit to the US economy are going to foreign countries and so much for the freedom from foreign oil dependence. So the only shift from fossil fuels will be the shift of our money to other countries so they can drill and make Soros and Obama rich.

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JLM 5 years, 3 months ago

There is ill advised. There is silly. There is stupid.

This is truly stupid!

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

I guess this is not news, the MSM won't report it. I feel sorry for those that rely on the MSM for information and then come to these forums thinking they are informed.

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Boatperson 5 years, 3 months ago

It's always the same Gloat Boats that stifle progress through dialog and the creative thought process that proceeds.

Congratulationis Indulgere Lecti! Or is it Lectus?

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aichempty 5 years, 3 months ago

Walk into a doctor's office, or a hospital, and look around at all the people who work there. Except maybe for the gift shop and cafeteria workers, everybody else is totally funded by payments from patients. Every dollar they take home, pay into taxes and social security, and every benefit they receive is being paid for by payments for medical services. This is why an aspirin costs $10 when given by a nurse in a hospital.

Back in the day, it was mostly one doctor, and maybe a nurse, and you got better or you died. Now it's ten or fifteen people involved just to spend the night for observation. The billing office, the admissions desk, the food service workers, the nursing assistants, the nurses and the attending physicians, and the human resources office that administers their pay and benefits all have to get paid.

Health care mirrors education and government. As money becomes available to add staff, they add staff. That's how the systems grow and become more expensive.

Health care costs are a way of redistributing income to a whole bunch of people who never touch a patient. A way to cut costs is to automate more of the administrative functions, such as billing and receiving. If a doctor or a hospital was able to submit a bill and forget about it, a lot of the people working in the system could be eliminated.

$13,000 for a broken wrist sounds crazy, but that's what we paid (Blue Cross/Blue Shield paid most of it). Now think about the fact that at least three people who cost the hospital around $50,000 to $75,000 every year, each, in pay and benefits were required in the record-keeping, billing and admissions process. The hospital probably employs at least three people in each of those positions, and some of them have to be covered seven days a week. Think about multiple shifts, weekends and holidays, and all of a sudden you've got a million dollars in employee overhead for people to collect that $13,000. That's 70 broken wrists at $13,000 each just to cover part of the admin overhead, without a cent going to pay doctors, nurses, x-ray techs, etc.

There are huge challenges to be overcome (mostly fraudulent billing) to establish a "single payer" system that could eliminate a lot of overhead, but as in all struggling businesses, cutting labor cost is the fastest way to go from red to black.

So, the health care debate is really about the wrong issue. It's not the cost of medical care itself that is out of control, but the cost of accounting for and collecting the money to support the system. It's not whether Aunt Tilly needs an MRI or a CAT scan, but whether she will pay her bill that's the real debate. If everyone was pooled into a system where payment for the care-givers was guaranteed, and the patient didn't have to do anything but provide a social security number, costs could be slashed immediately.

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trump_suit 5 years, 3 months ago

Well written Aich.....

Do you propose any solutions?

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aichempty 5 years, 3 months ago

trump,

Our government already has systems in place to take care of the important factors.

Cost of living: tie medical reimbursements to local cost of living indices. This keeps payments in line with costs of overhead for caregivers and facilities. The government already does this to determine housing allowance costs for government employees and military personnel.

Prescription drugs already require caregivers to have a DEA number. Inventories of prescription drugs are carefully controlled and monitored. Extend this methodology to all care provided by licensed physicians, PAs, nurse practitioners, etc., to make them accountable for care given to each patient. At the same time, track patients by SSN, tax ID or green card number. For those who are not covered by one of these numbers, require the number of a parent for minor children. Also, require enrollment in the Social Security system for all who receive care under the system. Anyone wanting to opt out of the system would be free to pay cash or could register by being fingerprinted and enrolled at the point of care. Documentation or registration would be required to receive care.

Automatically deduct a small percentage from each person's paycheck to pay the premium -- self or family. For those who don't have withholding by an employer, require quarterly payments just like estimated tax payments are made now. A progressive system just like our tax system could be put in place for lower income people, but isn't 5% (up to some reasonable limit for annual payments, equivalent to premiums paid by those covered at work by existing systems) "doable" for almost everybody compared to the costs of insurance premiums from traditional sources?

Then it would be up to care-givers to control their local costs and overhead, but payment would be guaranteed. Such a system would also include audits and triggers for fraud and abuse.

The whole point is that cash flow would be created via the existing government systems, and payments to care givers would be issued monthly. Everybody who gets care pays, and everybody who gives care gets paid.

It's the same basic system as having coverage at work, but instead of paying Blue Cross a premium via payroll withholding, it goes into a national health fund and that's the only way a care giver can get paid. It takes out all the accounting and billing and collections and all that jazz and the money is handled through existing or analogous government systems already in use.

Doctors and nurses and x-ray techs, etc., all deserve to get paid a fair rate for their services, and savings obtained by eliminating admin overhead would reduce costs for everyone. The problem is that it puts a lot of people out of work. That's why our government would never do it. Too much backlash at the ballot box.

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trump_suit 5 years, 3 months ago

Wait till JLM and seeuski get ahold of this. So in your opinion, the private insurance industry is permanently broken and needs to be taken apart and replaced?

See, it must be difficult for you to watch all of your conspiracy theories evaporate as the truth comes out. What happened to your Birther issues? Death Panels? or Insurance for illegal aliens. Please, quit spouting off the FOX conspiracy of the day and help us reform the system.

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aichempty 5 years, 3 months ago

Trump,

Not at all. The problem with private insurance is that they cannot compel everybody to pay premiums because they don't have the power to levy a tax on people who get care. My private premiums are high because health care providers charge my insurer higher rates to cover the uninsured and keep the doors open. Those of us who have private insurance face the choice of paying for the uninsured in our premiums, or watching facilities close down for lack of money.

The health care system is already a socialist organization. By requiring providers to give care to anyone who needs it (emergency care, regardless of ability to pay -- not botox and viagra) we already have a government mandated program that is funded by private insurance. Why not cut out the middle man and have everyone pay in through the existing tax system, and have providers be guaranteed payment of a fee schedule appropriate to each local area.

The purpose of private insurance is to pay for medical care. They're not providing medical care for anybody now, are they? Removing the overhead involved with separating me from my money and passing it through a bunch of hands before the caregiver gets paid is where the cost savings would be realized.

When I pay my taxes, I deal directly with Uncle Sam. When I get a refund, Uncle puts the money in my bank account by electronic deposit. If everyone paid in, and caregivers were paid by Uncle Sam, then a lot of people who get paid for servicing the process through private insurance companies and all their overhead are no longer necessary.

Trump, that other stuff is somebody else. My personal complaints have turned out to be true. It's not a theory once you know it's ture.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

I am pretty sure that no one has influenced anyone else on this topic by posting their thoughts here. I am encouraged by the poll numbers and that is where I am getting comfort these days that we may avoid the Obamanization of the entire Health Care industry which will lead to the SEIU taking it over in time. I have spoken to several Congress persons about this and it is not denied. I will repeat my position for those who forgot: 1. Tort reform 2. Portability 3. Freedom to buy insurance from out of State 4. Government run clinics in which the poor can receive care 5. NO Government single payer, co-op or whatever else the Dems want to name it.

Enjoy your day.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

By the way, late Friday Obama admits through his Budget office that they were only 2 $trillion$ short in their deficit predictions.

So why not, lets turn over 1/6th of the economy to them and hope that the CBO got it right that it would only add an addition 1.6 $trillion% more.

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charliecigar 5 years, 3 months ago

Missed it by 2 Trillion dollars. Are these guys for real? These fools thought that 1 billion dollars would carry the cash 4 clunkers program all the way into November. I mean, Come on..

You say you want a revolution?

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trump_suit 5 years, 3 months ago

Aich, I really like your take on this issue. You have really isolated a major problem and suggested steps to reform the problem that you see.

See. I can completely agree with 1-4. Aich argues extremely well for a single payer system. Whether that payer is Gov't or non-profit would be a good question. I remain very leary of a Gov't run insurance program and would like to see that disappear from the reform efforts.

What I do not like is all of the hyperbole that is being spewed out by the opponents to health care reform. Getting your facts straight is a good way to start. (See Birthers and Death Panels) You have some excellent points about possibilities for reform but you continue to spew out venom about Pres. Obama instead of annunciating those points. No apologies here, this tactic bothers me and does not help in the debate.

JLM has also expressed excellent ideas for reform. I would love to see those combined into a bi-partisan reform bill that gets at the problem of the uninsured and under-insured. Why is it that venom and hate take the place of these good ideas when the argument gets going?

In closing, if Aich is correct about the overhead costs drivng up the totals then how do we address that issue? If you showed me a bill that includes your bullet points 1-4 with #5 being no exclusions for pre-existing conditions beyond say 60 days, and #6 being no more out-of-network denials we have indeed made progress towards a mutually agreeable solution.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

trump_ I am glad we have some common ground but we have a large swath of information that we will not see eye to eye on. You say I am a hater because I have a fear of what the Obama Administration is doing and who they are doing it with. Are you aware of the Apollo group and Van Jones and the fact that that group received 11 $billion$ of our money from the stimulus package? Who wrote the huge Bills that are being run through Congress? Nothing that size has ever been accomplished in such a short period of time under a new Administration. Our deficits are climbing and we will not be able to control them no matter how much the so called Rich are taxed so why would we want to add another 1.6 $trillion$ at a minimum to them? Why, as Obama said, should we ram this thing through unread and unfunded? Because my above proposals 1 thru 4 are not even a consideration from the Democrats I will remain skeptical I will continue to seek those answers. It is only the future health of the USA and our ability to remain a free country with liberty that is at stake. If Obama has the ultimate goal to create a Communist style regime where the triangulation of power is ended than yea I will be a hater. Why is a two time convicted felon, avowed Communist and Black Separatist Van Jones, a czar in the Obama Administration? What happened to the FBI background checks? So I am concerned for sure. This is about more than health care Trump_ it's not about haters and birthers.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

"Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing."

Do you want the people of this country to just cower from whatever this President wants to do? We can't and won't do it.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

HEADLINE: Obama Increases 2010 Deficit Forecast 19% to $1.50 Trillion http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aNaqecavD9ek

We-cant-afford-more-spending-PERIOD!!!!!! No way we can add the whole health care program to the mix. Lets get behind tort reform and portability along with interstate sales of insurance and clinics for the poor. Give it a chance, yes we can.

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ybul 5 years, 3 months ago

The other problem with health care is that the insured, the real consumer, has no idea what the cost of their treatment is and as such makes no attempt to control its cost. Without injecting personal responsibility into the mix the system the system there will be no real reform.

The other factor, is that 70% of medical expenses come from so called lifestyle diseases. Without encouragement, not from legislation but from a reward for taking care of ones self via a HSA or the like, people will continue to drink excessively, eat deep fried twinkies and drink government subsidized high fruitcose corn syrup drinks.

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JustSomeJoe 5 years, 3 months ago

Seeuski, once again your binoculars get in the way of seeing the entire picture. Figuring it out on our own is how we got to the high cost of health care. Preventitive care, education and treating any disease early leads to lower health care costs. Generally, the longer somebody waits to be treated the worse their symptoms get and the higher the cost of treatment. Most of that cost gets covered later in life by the taxpayers. Hypertension, diabetes, pre-natal care, heart disease, etc. Sometimes the greater good, which I know is an anathema to you, can actually save us taxpayer money.

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JLM 5 years, 3 months ago

The problem with many solid ideas for healthcare reform is that they immediately run afoul of partisan political group think.

Take tort reform. The simplest concept of tort reform is to convert the system for dispute resolution from one of litigation based in District Courts (whether Federal or State) to binding arbitration.

Hospitals, doctors, drug manufacturers should band together to make this happen and require patients to agree to that as a condition of treatment.

Why is this justified?

Because trial lawyers taking cases on contingency --- typically 30-50% of the award plus expense reimbursement sometimes including staff plus a creeping classification of other costs --- swing for the fences looking to greenmail big insurance companies --- not healthcare providers, liability insurance providers for doctors, vendors and hospitals.

John Edwards made a bloody fortune acting out and channelling victims in front of juries who were already predisposed to resent insurance companies. Who got the money? Well, most of it went to Johnny boy and not to the victims.

The trial takes place in front of a jury of idiots who know next to nothing about the medical issues and the cases are decided on who likes whom and who deserves to be punished.

I have no problem with a victim receiving fair and equitable compensation though like many things it is in the eye of the beholder but it is obscene to think that a jury doesn't know what portion of the damages award is going to the victim's lawyer. The jury is not allowed to know the fee arrangement between the plaintiff and their lawyer though the defendant, the defendant's lawyer and the Judge know it. So, the victim's suffering sets the award and the lawyer takes such a huge portion that the victim cannot possibly receive just compensation.

Why can't we just eliminate contingency compensation awards to the legal profession, eliminate punitive damages (take away their licenses instead), cap the contributory damages of third parties (the hospital because it rented the surgeon the operating room), insert binding arbitration and make a modest limitation on damages in return for lightning quick payment of damages.

Why not?

Because the personal injury bar is exclusively in support of Democratic candidates in both their voting habits and their campaign contributions. Through their campaign contributions, they are in effect "refunding" a bit of their squalid loot to their enablers.

Does this inject a bit of partisan politics into a question which should be answered with cold, analytical, critical thinking? Ummm, I think so.

And therein lies the problem as to why the Democrats will never champion tort reform.

Funny wrinkle --- GW Bush, in fact, enacted substantive tort reform in Texas (as Governor) and it is working quite well.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

I agree ybul, we don't need the Government to control our lifestyles with fructose, Pasteurization, herbal remedy controls etc. We are figuring it out just fine on our own.

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MrTaiChi 5 years, 3 months ago

One should remember that the present tort system rewards both the plaintiff's bar and the defense bar. There is an 18th century illustration of a cow with the head being pulled by a character labeled, "plaintiff" and the tail being pulled by a character labeled, "defendant", and a wigged gentleman seated at a stool vigorously working the udder. No need for a label there. Part of the expense of litigation and concomitant insurance costs is the defense bar doing a thorough job defending each case, endlessly thorough.

While contingency fees are an invitation to legalized extortion, they do enable a litigant of modest resourses or a poor person recourse to the courts that they would not be able to afford on their own. If contingency fees are to be eliminated, a system should be substituted, as suggested by JLM, of binding arbitration or more like workmen's compensation. If not that then restrictions on the amount of contingency fee awards should be considered as part of any reform, if the structure of the present system is maintained.

The present system does differentiate between the value of a hand lost by a concert pianist and one lost by an opera singer. Same hand, the jury decides value. With workmen's comp., each hand is worth the same as a scheduled loss. Do you like that system? If your wife is horribly disfigured in an accident should she just get her hospital bills paid and nothing else? Tort reform is cloying and needed, but even though you get satisfaction from eliminating the attack dog mentality of the plaintiff's bar, are you ready to surrender your loss compensation to bureaucrats? After all, like him or not, he is your attack dog.

Mention should also be made that attorneys often carry expenses of their clients for years, and they can be very large and if the case is lost, completely unrecoverable. This adds an ethical shadow on an attorney advising his client to settle, mindful that he, the attorney, has more actual money on the table at risk than the client, perhaps another reason to reform the present system.

Tort reform is necessary in its own right. My guess, however, is that there will be no reduction in costs, that someone, perhaps the insurance companies or the doctors, will pocket the unspent money. Do you seriously think that the chest cutter will reduce his fees because the plaintiff's bar is driving older cars? How many BMWs can one man drive?

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MrTaiChi 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't know what percentage of the cost of health insurance the present tort system represents. It may be significant or there may be some scapegoating going on here. Let's not just demonize the plaintiff's bar in this chest beating, though, there are other villains in league with them, the defense bar and the insurance industry who couldn't sell insurance at such rates if the present system didn't scare the health care industry into buying protection from the racketeers. The problem is in fine tuning tort reform to continue the rights that we want to enjoy without making that at such a damnable cost.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

joe, You think the Government dictating to us what to eat is going to lower health care costs? I think your sitting on your binocs. And this new left wing strategy that people are waiting to get their illnesses treated and we can cut costs because the Government will expedite services by forcing us to go in to the Doc is a bunch of hooey. Tort reform, portability, purchasing policies across state lines, covering pre-existing conditions are things that can be done without a Government takeover and expansion of the fraud riddled financially melting Medicare system. Oh, and this new idea of co/ops, we can do that without the Government involvement or any reform. If a drive is started to from these in communities by forming pools wouldn't you join in? Just keep the Government and Unions the heck out of it. It's we the people. Think about it, how many people here pay into an HOA, why not an MOA(Medical Owners Assn.)?

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

A privately owned MOA could negotiate fees on behalf of the members lowering costs and creating real competition that is not Government mandated or backed leaving our taxes out of it. So just like HOA dues adjust depending on actual budgets and costs so could the monthly dues of an MOA.

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charliecigar 5 years, 3 months ago

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." Thomas Jefferson

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Duke_bets 5 years, 3 months ago

seeuski - You state that medicare is fraud riddled. You also state that tort reform and pre-existing conditions can be covered without government intervention. Here's a question...........Why haven't those issues been addressed? Would the private healthcare industry be opposed to those reforms? Sure they would........The fraud and gouging in the private industry creates great profits. A government controlled / monitored system to compete with the privates would possibly knock out a lot of the garbage.

Your points are valid, but you have no solution.

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seeuski 5 years, 3 months ago

Enjoy the future under the thumb of the Apollo group.

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ybul 5 years, 3 months ago

Justsomejoe,

Maybe, the nutritional decline in our foods(http://www.truehealth.org/ahealn31.html) ought to be addressed prior to any hand wringing over changing how health care works.  If 50-70% of health care costs are lifestyle choices, how do you suppose going to a single payer system is going to address that point.  It simply won't and without thoughtful debate about that issue no real health care reform will be made.

The only reform we are going to see with government single payer is that our government is going to grow larger.  Just as there are economies of scale, there are diseconomies of scale.  With a single payer system, there is no need to work on cutting administrative costs.

 Maybe as opposed to single payer, there should be single plan, with single rate and single coding structure for the doctors/insurers to use to streamline the admin costs.  This way the playing field is level, and the companies have to compete on service and their ability to restrain costs.  Throw in that there should be a higher deductible, that people have a HSA to help cover it (and if you must, subsidize the poor to pay for their plans and a small amount in a HSA and cover an annual exam for all).

In reality, the "health care" debate is about sick care and fails to address the root problems, declining nutritional intake and a toxic environment.  Fix those two issues and health care will take care of itself.  (yes sometimes people will still get hurt/sick, for those instances charity, government or something can help out in the few cases that would arise, with a focus on nutrition).

 In know of too many cases where an individual has seen a doctor multiple times to have a condition addressed unsuccessfully, to later treat it successfully with diet.  Maybe our doctors with ZERO nutritional training have no idea what true health care is.  In addition, the food we eat is so deprive of actual nutrition that even trying to eat well does not yield the expected results.
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JLM 5 years, 2 months ago

One of the reasons that binding arbitration is so attractive as a first step in tort reform is that it does not diminish the fervent advocacy of the victim's rights to seek redress of grievance or to press a tort claim.

It does however streamline the methodology of discovery, gets the issue to a finder of fact quicker, prevent a well heeled litigant from using financial strength as an unfair advantage and does make it a bit more transparent as the finder of fact can also delve into the details of the plaintiff's legal representation.

It is also even possible for an individual or victim to represent themselves as the aribtrator can coax the facts from the plaintiff and can use whatever approach is necessary to ensure that he has all the facts before rendering judgment.

There is a fundamental fairness and a sincere search for the truth and fairness in a given situation in arbitration which is seemingly a bit more difficult to find in the District Courts.

Another decisive element is the finality of the decision --- arbitration awards typically cannot be appealed.

In any event, let's try a first step toward something and we can refine it along the way. We know this is a worthwhile first step.

Are there a number of important elements which should also be considered? You bet!

This is a great first step.

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