TCS Daily


Slouching Toward Socialized Medicine?

By Charles Matthew Rousseaux - March 21, 2007 12:00 AM

"Freedom/You've got to give for what you take" - George Michael

Health care is hot. The status quo is not. And universal care is in the air. The three leading Democratic candidates are reaching out for the healing hands of complete coverage. The numbers say there's more to it than pure poll positioning. The problems are real as millions are uninsured and costs are climbing.

Last year Americans spent more than $2 trillion on health care. This year we'll spend more, and in a decade, we're likely to be dropping a whopping $4 trillion-plus a year on health care - nearly 20 percent of America's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Little wonder that ninety percent of respondents to a recent New York Times/CBS survey said that the current system needs either fundamental changes or total rebuilding. Two-thirds said the federal government should guarantee health insurance to all Americans. And 47 percent said it would be better to have a government-run system with universal care compared to 38 percent who preferred the current system.

All of this has the makings of a slouch towards socialized medicine.

That would be bad for erstwhile slackers of Generation X and Gen Next. It would be even worse for the rest of the country. That's because the slouch could easily become a straitjacket, for any move toward state-run healthcare will happen in the context of already exploding debt.

Even if they've already paid off their student loans (snicker) and have exactly no credit card debt (giggles giving way to loud gasps of laughter), X-ers and Nexters are already up to their eyeballs in debt for the big three entitlement programs - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke recently testified to Congress, "Expenditures for entitlement programs are projected to rise sharply over the next few decades." They're being driven by a combination of increasing life expectancies and decreasing fertility.

Spending on the big three currently amounts to more than 8 percent of America's GDP. That will rise to more than 10 percent in 2015; and to more than 15 percent in 2030, if projections by the Congressional Budget Office hold true. The percentage of Americans more than 65 years old is also expected to increase pretty dramatically too, from 12 percent of the U.S. population to 19 percent in 2030.

That puts the slouch towards socialized medicine in its proper context.

No one knows what a government-run health care system would cost. (John Edwards put the price of his universal care plan at $90 to $120 billion per year.) But it is almost certain to be far more expensive and far less efficient than advertised.

Moreover, the combo of socialized medicine with already squeezed budgets will not make for a happy meal. And the rest of the probable menu - raised taxes and/or restricted medical choices - will be more appropriate to the style of the Hamburglar than Mayor McCheese.

In 1966, spending on the big three made about a quarter of the federal budget. Today, it makes up more than half. If current trends continue, the sorts of spending that people think of when they imagine the government at work - whether building roads and making bombs or supporting a teapot museum and a cattle congress (the last two courtesy of the 2006 Pig Book) - will constitute just a fraction of the actual budget. All the rest will be mandatory entitlements.

That doesn't leave a whole lot for X'ers to retire on. It doesn't leave a whole lot for them to sustain America's leadership in the world with either.

As Chairman Bernake concluded, "Dealing with the resulting fiscal strains will pose difficult choices for the Congress, the Administration and the American people."

What's the solution? It ain't the slouch.

Forty-four percent of respondents to the Times/CBS poll said that the government would do a worse job at providing coverage than private companies, compared to 30 percent who thought it would do better. They're probably on to something, as the European experience of health care rationing shows. Besides, as Ronald Reagan observed in his Creative Society speech, "For every ounce of federal help we get, we surrender an ounce of personal freedom."

The solution to better care at lower costs is increased freedom, and a number of solid steps are being taken in that direction right now.

States have much more freedom on how to use their Medicaid dollars, thanks to the Deficit Reduction Act. And last August, President Bush signed an Executive Order calling on federal health care programs to become transparent about quality and price, among other things. Since then Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt established an initiative on transparency (see http://www.hhs.gov/transparency/) and has been asking private health plans and private employers to join in. He's gotten some big commitments, including from the CEOs of the more familiar Big Three.

More information, more choice, more freedom: That's the way forward.

Otherwise, it could come back to George Michael, "Well it looks like the road to heaven/But it feels like the road to hell."

Now that's scary.

Charles Rousseaux is a cappuccino conservative in the Bush Administration. The slouchy views expressed are his own.



52 Comments

Only one problem
This would mean that people…would have to think for themselves!!!

Heaven for bid that the sheep would have to make a real choice for their future.


Personally I love the idea. We should drop Social Security, Medicare and the idea of Social Medicine. What we should be doing is training people to be more self reliant. Teach them in school about investments and future planning. Show them how to build a future instead of relying on Uncle Sam for handouts when they get old. This worked for Americans for more then 200 years.

The Federal Government has a function and a place. It even has a place in Health care and Social Services. This place is as a helping hand and as a regulator; not as a full time provider. They should provide a regulatory department to set guidelines and limits on private companies and then make sure they are following them.

One small problem
You suggested that we "Teach them in school about investments and future planning".

Uh, our schools can't teach the students to read, right or cipher. Our schools are the big reason that the next generations think socialism is "cool". Our schools are the big reason that people want "the government to pay" so they won't have to.

Anybody who thinks government run medicine is a good idea should take a look at our government run schools.

I'm pretty well convinced that "having people think for themselves" is an unattainable goal. It's also considered by many in Congress to be an unwelcome goal.

Freedom: Use it or Lose it.
Earlier this year, a group called "Better Health Care Together (BHCT)" announced that "America's health care system is broken". They proposed four principles for improving health care in America:
1) Every person in Amercia must have quality, affordable health insurance.
2) Individuals have a responsibility to maintain and protect their health.
3) America must dramatically improve the value it receives for every health care dollar.
4) Businesses, governments and individuals all should contribute to managing and financing a new Amercian health care system.

The following is from their Feb 07, 2007 press announcement in Wash DC:
Executives from Wal-Mart and three other major U.S. employers on Wednesday joined hands with union leaders in setting a goal of providing "quality, affordable" health care for millions of workers by 2012.
Joining Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CEO Lee Scott and Service Employees International Union leader Andrew Stern at a Washington press conference were top executives from Intel Corp., AT&T Inc. and Kelly Services Inc.
The business and union leaders laid out four main goals, including universal health-care coverage for "every person in America" and raising "the value it (America) receives for every health-care dollar" spent.
"Government alone won't and can't solve this crisis," Scott said. "By following this campaign's common sense principles, we believe America can have high quality, affordable and accessible health care by 2012."

I do not completely agree with their diagnosis of or their fix for the Amercican Health Care system. I do however believe that private initiatives, combined with complementary legal and regulatory reform, are the best way to optimize health care and avoid the alternative of a government "universal" program.

I have written to BHCT and recommended that they take action NOW, not by 2012, to establish a multi-state, multi-company buying organization for their organizations and other organizations that they can recruit. If 10 million or more consumers collectively purchase healthcare products and services, they can obtain a wider range of products at lower prices than their groups alone could negotiate.

The solution to health care is up to the consumer. Consumers must take action to demand the same competitive pricing and product diversity in health care that they get at their local Walmart. If consumers do not take action, the "universalists" will eventually prevail, and the long slow ride to a Socialist Amercia will take a giant leap forward.

Our Constitution is not specific enough to prevent our politicians from slowly destroying economic liberty. Freedom...use it or lose it.

So true
A very strong post, thank you.

One big generalization
Some public schools - notably those in poor neighborhoods in big cities - are pretty bad. Others - notably those in rich neighborhoods and suburbs - are pretty good.

Maybe you can point to a successful advanced industrial country that doesn't have government schools.

Perhaps
You can tell us what its like attend a bad one?

And perhaps
you can tell us wht it's like to attend a really good private school for the mentally challenged --oops, wait, I know you hate PC-speak - for the severely retarded.

No, not quite true
Judging by the overwhelming majority of people who know how to read and write, you guys are wrong that the schools don't teach it. There are still too many students who slip through the cracks in my opinion, but its not as bad as you doomsayers paint it.

I also disagree that the schools teach kids that socialism is cool. How do schools do that exactly? And how do schools teach kids to expect the government to pay everything for them? Sure I've seen a news story or two highlighting an example that could ring true to your perception, but every teacher, every classroom is different. How do you justify such a perception of an institution as large and diverse as public education? I understand its the right's duty to lambast public schools, but please try to back up widespread derision instead of puking the talking points of the day.

To get back on subject, dismanrc said this:
"Teach them in school about investments and future planning. Show them how to build a future instead of relying on Uncle Sam for handouts when they get old. This worked for Americans for more then 200 years."

Actually no, schools have never taught skills like this. These are skills we learned, or didn't learn, at home. From our parents, from our family. You guys are so hellbent on blaming schools for everything, the problem stems from no further than the front door. The family structure, the responsiblity of raising children is what has gone wrong in our culture, what has caused so many kids to fall behind and fall through the cracks. Parents today think the schools are responsible for raising their kids, for teaching them manners and social norms, etc. Schools are not equipped to do that and never have been. Schools were better equipped to do their job when parents taught their kids how to be respectful, how to say please and thank you, how to shut up when someone else is talking, indeed, how to sit still for more than 5 minutes. Now we just medicate the kids to get them settle down.

Some over-exaggeration, but the point still stands
Our basic literacy rate is really over 90% and at least that high a number can do basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. But the same people who tell us how wonderful the education system is are also the ones who say we need more.

Fine!

But we aren't getting it for many. Of the whole population, less than 75% can do basic algebra or geometry; too many of our teachers would fail a basic international geography or history test. How do you expect the student to perform any better?

As for the "socialist" claim, Teachers are liberal to very liberal throughout the system and a vast majority are registered Democrats. When the vast majority (well over 70%) of the teachers are liberals, do you think it doesn't rub off on the kids? Also, when a local school board in Alaska is forced to adhere to some overall government standard, ordered by a court decision that was pushed by a parent in Boston, welll…

Or kids may not be well educated, but they aren't stupid either. They get the message.

one addition
you said - "Actually no, schools have never taught skills like this. These are skills we learned, or didn't learn, at home. From our parents, from our family. You guys are so hellbent on blaming schools for everything, the problem stems from no further than the front door. The family structure, the responsiblity of raising children is what has gone wrong in our culture, what has caused so many kids to fall behind and fall through the cracks. Parents today think the schools are responsible for raising their kids, for teaching them manners and social norms, etc. Schools are not equipped to do that and never have been. Schools were better equipped to do their job when parents taught their kids how to be respectful, how to say please and thank you, how to shut up when someone else is talking, indeed, how to sit still for more than 5 minutes. Now we just medicate the kids to get them settle down."

On all of this I, and most conservatives, agree. But the school system contributes a lot to the problem.

First, my kids have at least twice as much homework as I did (probably closer to three times as much) which really peeves me off. I expect teachers to teach, I shouldn't have to do their job at home. Also, it takes time away from being able to teach those lessons I should be responsible for because I'm doing the teacher's job!!!!

Second I occasionally find myself having to un-teach a lot of earth-first type crap that goes around the school. I want the teachers to teach my kid basic biology and quit telling them they need to get involved in saving the whales or some crap. Trust me, that is just the tip of the ice berg. The schools need to stick to the lessons and get out of pushing pet projects on my dime!!

You said- "Parents today think the schools are responsible for raising their kids, for teaching them manners and social norms, etc. Schools are not equipped to do that and never have been."

I agree, so quit doing it!!! But the courts and the government won't allow it. Again, liberals (led by the ACLU) have a fit when a student is expelled for anything not on the approved agenda (oh, you can be expelled for teasing or making an anti-gay comment, but it's O.K. to call the teacher names, have sex in the stairwell or come to school stoned.)

The fact that schools have become a part of the welfare system in this country is undeniable. And that whole system is the great enabler for the very behavior you say the schools are not equipped to handle.

I live in a small rural area, we don't have the big problems with unruly kids you see and hear about in bigger schools. Because of that, and a very good student to teacher ration (under 20-1) the kids are also usually well behaved and well supervised. Still, even here, the school is a socialization haven. We still have the tollerence education, self-esteem building and other clap-trap that has foisted on everyone by the NEA and the federal government. As I said, even here, I have to do too much of the teachers job at home and, on some occaisions, sit down and un-indoctronate my kid. It's pathetic.

And I have some pretty good information about what goes on here, and around the country. I go to most school board meetings, talk with people in the office of public instruction and in state and federal government. I have three kids in school here, and relatives with kids in school in Boston, Portland, Denver and L.A. (as well as several other places) We do compare notes and we have it very, very good here.

Excellence in education?
The SAT was renormalized several years ago. If you scored a 1500 on the old test you'd now score a perfect 1600. That doesn't look like an improvement.

I would have supported the "No Child Dumbed Down" bill, instead we got the "No Child Left Behind but we don't want to test, and it's really OK if we leave 25% behind, and did we mention that tests are bad, and we need more money if we're just going to leave 30% behind, but tests are bad, and we don't have enough money if we're only going to leave 35% behind, we don't need no stinkin' vouchers, and we just don't have enough money if we just leave 40% behind" bill.

We all have standards, I happen to have high standards. When I spend resources not only do I expect results, but I also expect positive results. You may think "we tried" is good enough, I don't.

Hmmm
I'll take that as your admission of being a product of government schools.

Then again, if I were as cognitively deficient as you, I'd be content to earn the contempt of TCS readers. As it stands, I have two degrees and the reliance of an astute client base. Better than that I don't rely on parental gratuities to eat and carpal-tunnel inducing motions for gratificaion.

Your right
Family involvement is also a major factor in this.

Do the math...Health Care products and services are too expensive...
This cannot work. It does not matter how we try to pay for Health Care products and serivces here in America. Through insurance companies or with taxes. The money ultimatly comes from us. Our wealth creation mechanism, the GDP, is being overtaken by health care spending. Our tax base is being consumed. While we stand by helpless to stop it.

The fundamental problem is that health care products and services are too expensive and the process that artificially overpriced them continues to make matters worse.

The FDA cripples product development with abusive clinical trial routines and delays to market that can last more than a decade. The Medical profession and the Medical Schools restrict the supply of physicians. Our best Universities extort huge tuitions that limit the training of elite registered nurses. We do not produce enough nurses and very many of our best nurses are foreign trained.

The hospitals themselves are owned by immense public companies that must continually increase earnings. Malpractice and liability lawyers add substantial overhead. The insurance industry is getting rich and restricting coverage while the Federal government has been funding its various other programs all these many years with the surpluses from (Social Security and) Medicare tax revenues.

It is probably too late for America to stop. We will hit the wall. Just as the US automobile industry did. We will simply run out of money to pay for all this. It cannot work. There is no way to stop this fully integrated industrial complex. No one in the government understands the fundamentals well enough to prioritize which stupidity to attack first. No one in any of these massively profitable businesses will put the brakes on their own industry.

Fortunately, all this spending by the United States has given the world terrific medical technologies to deploy. In nations without the restrictions of our strong central government, the opportunity for a legal profession to gain traction or financial institutions (insurance companies) to price health care out of reach their Medical, Dental and Nursing schools already produce a surplus of fine professionals at bargain prices.

Free competition and massive global markets will keep quality up and prices down for generic drugs and clinical disposables. Late model, used hospital equipment is almost free in the secondary market. Bedside monitors need to become ubiquitous commodities like television sets and personal computers. Hospitals need not be so expensive to build.

As developing economies start making more money they will not fall into the same errors we continue to make. They will allow health care products and services to stay inexpensive so that more of their citizens might enjoy world class treatment.

Good for them.

socialized everything
Governments like socialized medicine and socialised schools, and everything else too. They like it because they like control of populations, and they are happy that schools don't teach about economics, and basic logic or about rational thought; it keeps them more dependand on a nanny state. We have many examples of places with socialized medicine like the former commie countries(and the present ones), socialist nannys states like Canada and the UK. We also notice that when the wall fell, all those places privatized, none kept the stalinist model. And when the Cheaucescu of the Caribbean is finally dead, we can predict that a free Cuba will also change.

to Lemuel re schools
Right, there are no contries that don't have socialized schools for the same reason there are no free countries, political elites don't allow it. BTW though, in countries where private schools ARE allowed, would you say that in general they are worse or better than the government schools? Also, did you notice that even in the US and other western countries, anybody who can afford it sends their kids to private schools? That includes hyprocrites like Al Gore, who in public espouses govnmt schools, but sends his own kids to private schools.

If you want to conribute with a post on topic, please do
We dont' need a recital or your credentials. Your delusions about my are as irrelevant as they are incorrect.

Duh
If you can get the richest people to pay a huge premium for educating their kids, you're likely to get good results. That's called cherry picking.

still not right
I think they say the govnmt spends average about $10k per student per year. If the government didn't steal from the people in taxes, normal people could also afford private schools. Indeed, did you know there are many american and other western expats working all over the world? Many are not rich, but just normal working guys, even welders, machinists, etc. and they all do NOT send their kids to the local government schools, but to private schools instead. I spent much of my life all over the world and saw them paying like 5k, or 10, etc. for private schools, with other western teachers there too, and accredited with say normal ameican systems like WUSC, and IB, and British sytle IGCSE, A level, O level. If can do all over, why not in america too. But the politicos like to grap your kids for 6 or 8 hours a day; helps to get them into passive little dependants.

Anecdotes and ideology
Private schools exist all over the world alongside public ones, and many parent choose to send their children there. This is not an argument against public schools, it's an argument for choice.

>But the politicos like to grap your kids for 6 or 8 hours a day; helps to get them into passive little dependants

Really. And if we could just get rid of those silly laws against child labor, they could be in a factory where an entrepreneur would encourage free thought and creativity.

12 year old Maryland boy, whose family lost its Medicaid, died of an abscess an $80 extraction could
12 year old Maryland boy, whose family lost its Medicaid, died of an abscess that an $80 extraction could have fixed:

For Want of a Dentist Pr. George's Boy Dies After Bacteria From Tooth
Spread to Brain

By Mary Otto Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday,
February 28, 2007 Page B01

Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday. A routine,
$80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

If his mother had been insured.

If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find.

If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother,
who had six rotted teeth.

By the time Deamonte's own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria
from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two
operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George's
County boy died.

Deamonte's death and the ultimate cost of his care, which could total
more than $250,000, underscore an often-overlooked concern in the debate
over universal health coverage: dental care.

Some poor children have no dental coverage at all. Others travel three
hours to find a dentist willing to take Medicaid patients and accept the
incumbent paperwork. And some, including Deamonte's brother, get in for
a tooth cleaning but have trouble securing an oral surgeon to fix deeper
problems.

In spite of efforts to change the system, fewer than one in three
children in Maryland's Medicaid program received any dental service at
all in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available from the
federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
dyn/content/article/2007/02/27/AR2007022702116.html

good comments
I still disagree with much of your characterization though. I agree the school system deserves criticism.

For example, I think its a big problem the number of administrators schools have and the salaries they receive. I also think PC in the schools is out of control. Thats probably partly why there are so many administrators, to defend against lawsuits and noose the teachers from disciplining kids and making sure no one is "offended" in the school building. All the flowery positive slogans and cheerleading crap schools do is too much also, in my opinion.

Pauled, I don't know the specifics of your situation, but I typically don't equate homework with you doing the teachers' job for them. Maybe the teachers have to cover so much information they can't use class time to do worksheets or whatever, so its homework instead. Have you ever asked them why they give so much homework? Its a concern of yours, theres nothing wrong with communicating with the teachers to find out why they do things.

When it comes to specific pet projects like "saving the whales" for example, I agree with you it shouldn't be in the classroom. But your attitude about "earth-first type crap" seems like a misplaced priority on your part. You push back on me when I state conservatives support business over people, yet you reinforce my perception with comments like this. You can hate environmentalists all you want, but why would you hate the value of the environment itself? What do we have if we don't have Earth? What good is an economy if we ignore the state of the environment? Do medical costs affect the economy? Is money really more important than Earth? I know I'm going a little overboard based on your actual comments in that last post, but I've seen you make comments like that enough to know your ideology.

>"You said- "Parents today think the schools are responsible for raising their kids, for teaching them manners and social norms, etc. Schools are not equipped to do that and never have been."
I agree, so quit doing it!!! But the courts and the government won't allow it. Again, liberals (led by the ACLU) have a fit when a student is expelled for anything not on the approved agenda (oh, you can be expelled for teasing or making an anti-gay comment, but it's O.K. to call the teacher names, have sex in the stairwell or come to school stoned.)"

You need to understand pauled, its very difficult if not impossible to teach something when there is constant disruption from kids who can't sit still, don't know manners, etc. You can't teach Biology when the kids don't even know how to act in class. The courts and government have nothing to do with it. My wife has direct experience with this in small school districts, in Iowa of all places.

I'm pretty sure a kid is going to be suspended for coming to school stoned or having sex in the stairwell. You're probably closer to the truth when it comes to calling the teacher names or whatever. Teachers have to be given the autonomy to discipline kids, and have the support of their administration in doing so. The PC police are out of control in this regard, the ACLU probably has an influence in this culture. But the real problem is the parents. Its the parents who threaten lawsuits and take the word of their brat over the teacher and principal. The ACLU steps in in some cases to be an enabler, and I spit on the ACLU for that, but that doesn't excuse the parents.

How have schools become a part of the welfare system in this country? I can't say I disagree necessarily, I don't understand what you mean.

>"We still have the tollerence education, self-esteem building and other clap-trap that has foisted on everyone by the NEA and the federal government. As I said, even here, I have to do too much of the teachers job at home and, on some occaisions, sit down and un-indoctronate my kid. It's pathetic."

I do blame the NEA or the government for that spineless culture in the school system, its systemic nationwide. Its weak and its PC, but its because of spineless people, not liberals necessarily. Whats wrong with teaching tolerance? Is tolerance a bad trait? I also find the self-esteem building rather pathetic, but if you're a good parent its not doing any harm to your kid. Even if you're a bad parent, its not harming your kid, the fact the kid has bad parents harms him/her WAY more. I think you're missing the real problems in our schools in favor of targeting what is fashionable to your ideology.

I disagree with liberalism as you define it, yet I'm confident you label me liberal. Liberalism, as it is in reality, is an admirable perspective, its simply a description of the traits one's personality. Its a good thing because it means a person is open-minded and a critical thinker. I'm not referring to the philosophy of liberalism as you see it, as opposed to the philosophy of conservativism. I'm afraid you'll always see liberal bias when there is an absence of conservative bias, in this case you're applying to the school system.

You probably are a liberal…
but so am I, according to Mark and some others here.

Let's see if I can answer your questions and not get rhetorical.

1. We agree, in many cases school administrators are an issue. But the reason for the numbers is the having to deal with unruly kids and possible lawsuits, which you also noted and, again I agree. In fact, we are in full agreement on your entire first paragraph.

2. I have communicated with the teachers and I don't by the excuse of "extra practice". It works for math and sometimes for grammar. If that was all I was seeing, I would shut up as the workload would be about right. Simply put, they can't answer the question and get offended that I even ask and nothing changes. Here's the general variety of answers I get: "They need to get more practice to become more proficient", "We want them to get use to doing homework now as they will have a lot more of it later", "We just don't have enough classroom time to get it all done", and the ever popular "because it is the way I teach". Now I can buy the first one and the second to the last one on some occasions, but not every week. The rest is nonsense.

3. As for the enviroment, which is better? A. Actually teaching them about biology and earth science and how all living organisms are interconnected. B. Telling them everything is just awful and how they have to join Greenpeace and the Sierra Club to save the planet. I don't know about you, but I would rather they actually learn how science works and how ecosystems work, none of the rest of it is relavent to their education. If their parents want to get them involved in the rest of it, fine; leave it to the parents. So no, I don't think that my comments on this are overboard.

4. I understand that very well and agree completely. But teachers are almost completely powerless to deal with it these days. I agree, it is because of PC nonsense. As I said, get tough and deal with these kids. Force their parents deal with them or they will not be allowed back in school. A good paddling by the principal before the 4th grade would go a long way toward ending this crap too. Where I live we don't have a major issue with this. The kids are well behaved and 99% of the parents are very involved with the school. (it is what happens when you live in an area so small everyone does, in fact, know everyone else. Saying "I know where you live" is a fact not a threat in a town of under 900. Not taking care of your kids is a good way to get excommunicated from the community at large!)


5. You think so? Don't bet on it. So many schools these days are very large buildings that now house 1,000, 2,000, even 5,000 kids or more. This stuff starts happening in the middle-school age group and really gets wound up in the High Schools. Most of the bigger schools are in troubled areas in big cities and are understaffed. When the students out-number the teachers 30-40 to 1 and the school is so big there is no way to monitor ever nook and cranny, things will happen. Now add to that the parent problems we agree are a central issue, note that the bigger schools are in areas will more general problems, and you find administrators and teachers just trying to survive and keep the physical dangers (assualts and such) to a minimum.
The ideal school size is under 400, the ideal student to teacher ratio is under 20-1 in elementary and under 30-1 in high school. Any time you have more than 500 kids in one building you begin to see more and more discliplinary problems arise in the building. Any time you have more than a 25-1 student to teacher ratio in the classroom you begin to see more problems arise there.
Smaller schools are not immune, but it is easier to identify and deal with the trouble makers before real problems arise; or it would be if the parents would take care of their end and the courts would stay beyond arms length. But we do agree, parents are the main problem.

6. *Sigh*, lets begin with the free/reduced-priced meals program. Now add to that the fact that schools get more funding the higher the number of kids they can qualify for that program. Mix in the special education department and the fact that the schools get more funding the more kids they can get enrolled in those programs. Again, I have neither the space or inclination to go into every little detail, these are just the "Big two" and kids pick up on this. Then there is the same type of issue for counselling services, family planning run sex-ed services, and grants and extra funding for so many special interest programs it would make your head spin; none of which have anything to do with basic education.

7. This is connected to number six. We have 180 school days in a basic school year, 7 (at our school) classroom hours in the day. Most teacher have forever complained that there is not enough time to teach the kids. But there is plenty of time to take a whole day here, and a half day there and parts of various classes to deal with all these little feel good special projects. Most of them are far-left feel-good nonsense and a lot of it is pure indoctronation into a certain way of thinking. Whether it does harm or not depends on your point of view, but we really never have had time for this garbage if we want to actually educate our kids.

Liberalism, as a total way of present-day thinking and life, is not admirable in any way. It is closed minded, petty, non-inclusive and negative in every way; but so is the far-right conservative mind-set.On the other hand, being "a liberal thinker" as defined by being able to listen to and evaluate all side of any debate is a great thing. That mind-set has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative.

If you are not open enough to see the "liberal bias" in the media, in our schools and colleges and in many of or government policies and laws than you are not the "liberal thinker" you claim to be. Part of being open minded is the ability to honestly evaluate things, even if they might not be what you want them to be. I spent most of my working life in the media and it really hurts to openly admit the media is biased. It doesn't matter if it is left or right, bias of any kind should not be tollerated in this line of work. But that is an arguement for another day.

Cross Examining the Witness
You made assertions about school quality that require experience or expertise-based upon the deficient quality of your er "reasoning", and ready recourse to insult (such as when you really get frustrated and request fellatio), here and elsewhere on TCS one can reasonably conclude that you are the product of an inadequate education-so give us your understanding of the difficulties you face.

Qualification
"The hospitals themselves are owned by immense public companies that must continually increase earnings."

While much of you post offers useful insights-this statement is not entirely true. Many hospitals are organized as tax exempt organizations or are owned by tax-exempts like universities, which by definition do not have stockholders, so can't be public companies.

Since you asserted a connection with Pennsylvania in the past-check out www.phc4.org, you will see that hospitals here aren't expensive because they are profitable, even if they had stockholders-they wouldn't have very much to return to them.

Indeed, many would operate at a loss if they had to rely on net patient revenue, and survive due to special revenues such as tobacco grants, "disproproportionate share" funds and special legislative grants.

Whose Fault?
Eighty Bucks?

I'm sorry, but unless the parents or legal guardians of this kid are mentally or physically impaired-they are guilty of gross neglect for failing to take care of the child. It doesn't speak to well for the mother that her other child had a jawful of cavities-kids get cavities but SIX??? I suppose a 3 dollar tube of Crest is the public's responsibility.

If you can't provide 80 dollars to save YOUR KID's teeth, let alone his life- you have no business being a parent. This is one case where the state should intervene and place the child with FIT and ABLE parents.





That's the whole problem; making it 'who's fault?"
Yes, the parents share the blame. That really doesn't help the kid. Why not focus on the system?

the system?
I know why we don't need to focus on the system. It's because kids are parents responsibity, not the nanny state's. No system prevented the parent from selling their plasma TV, their SUV, etc. to sort out their kids teeth. I blame the parent. And I also hate it that most parents spoil their kids rotten, but I wouldn't expect the state to intervene and force them to walk to school instead of being driven in SUV's. But I don't mind it if generous liberals want to walk over to their neighbours place, walk thru all the broken cars, interfere with the poker game and drinking, and tell them you don't approve of their child rearing methods.

then you agree with me?
If you say that it's a matter of choice you must be agreeing with me. If you like choice, do you advocate vouchers? Or do you also wish that the US didn't tax them in the first place, then let parents sort out their own kids edu, as you admitted you know happens all over in my true anecdotes?
Re child labour. Do you mean you're really happy that you don't see kids going to the supermarket and packing groceries for you, and learning about work skills, how to be on time, responsibility, etc? Do you like it that most kids nowadays are spoilt brats that don't have to go around offering to cut grass, clean windows, sell fruit etc all over their neighbourhoods? But no, you mean child labour like in the UK in the early 19th century, right? Or maybe like present day bangladesh. But even then, these are phoney issues, beacause in countries like the States and other western countries, even if there were no labour laws at all , and no dept of edu, those same conditions would no longer exist. They don't in england either, not because of their nanny state, but because when people got richer they longer needed to do it.

You're focusing on guilt instead of results
Sure he should have chosen his parents better.

But the bottom line is taxpayers paid $250,000 in the emergency room instead of paying $80 at an appropriate time. Figure out what your idea is and then post it.

The idea is we spend less money and get better results. What you seem to want to do is not think about results but just whine about bad parents. If that's y our idea, make it clear.

You don't think the public schools are better in rich neighborhoods than poor ones?
Go for it: post your objective findings.

>... you are the product of an inadequate education-so give us your understanding of the difficulties you face.

I'm doing fine, dimbulb; I have no complaints at all. Why not try speaking to the issues instead of calling me inaccurate & silly names?

No, I don't agree with you
>? Do you like it that most kids nowadays are spoilt brats that don't have to go around offering to cut grass, clean windows, sell fruit etc

What do you know about anything? Spare us this fact-free fiction.

Why has the cost of Lasik gone down?
It seems to me that competition and technology have lowered the cost of lasik surgery since it was first introduced. It is typically a discretionary procedure, and not covered by insurance. Perhaps many other medical procedures and services would decrease in price if there were more competition. Also, if we were each individually responsible for paying our health care costs, then when someone comes up with new technology that reduces the cost of medical services, then the inventor benefits, and patients benefit. We cut out the governmental bureaucreats and insurance company bureaucrats taking a share of the savings.

Of course, you are correct...
Superheater,

I thought about this qualification when I was drafting that long note yesterday. In fact when I was just out of Holy Cross (with a degree in Biology and still considering the medical school option) I worked as an orderly at a medium sized Catholic hospital up in Norristown for about a year. I think the hospital stay was something like $150 a night in 1971. And we thought this was an impossibly expensive price to pay. Who could afford that?

Nevertheless, the hospital business did not seem like much of a growth industry 35 years ago because it was, more or less, dominated by such not-for-profit entities. Of course, all that has changed in a very big way.

Thank you, my friend.

Results: Responsibility & Whining
Just as this kid got stuck with lousy "parents", some people get cheated with their kids. Ask yours.

Here's the ugly reality of life. Everybody dies. Death is rarely swift or easy and its more often than not unfair. Damn few people live to be 100 and die quietly in their sleep. In some cases, death is very premature and caused by others.

My idea is that these "parents" should be tried for neglect-you breed 'em, you feed 'em, clothe 'em and read o them.

You can blither on about the "system", but this kid died because his parents FAILED TO CARE for him. Some idiots kill their kids by shaking them and some kid them by failing to be vigilant. If one kid has an abcess and the other has a mouth full of decay-there's a problem with these "parents", not the "system".

This is an example of leftists slipping into apoplexy. Since they don't believe in right or wrong,but reality keeps intruding in on their little delusion, they have do deal with imperfection. Being unable or unwilling to deal with individual failure, they blame the impersonal and indefinite. Its so much easier to blame "society" and "systems", such things are nebulous abstractions and therefore don't fight back.

This kid died because of the neglect of inadequate or disinterested parents, not because of an inadequate or insufficient "system".

The proximate cause of this poor kid's demise wasn't a lack of eighty bucks, but the lack of alert, aware and oriented parents. If you are so irresponsible that your kid has 6 cavities- the best health plan in the world and a chaffeured limosine won't make you give a crap. Long before this kid had an abcess, he had a simple cavity.











Besides wasting even more tax dollars, this helps us how?
As stated: you'd really rather punish the parents after the death that have a system that might have saved the child. And also saved the taxpaers money.

>My idea is that these "parents" should be tried for neglect-you breed 'em, you feed 'em, clothe 'em and read o them.

Great idea: let's spend more taxpayers money on a trial and prosecution on top of the $250K that was spent in the ER in a desperate attempt to save his life. Or maybe you missed that part of the story.

Then after spending 60K on the trial. we can maybe put them in jail at a cost of 60K or so a year. Plus cost foster car for the other living kid, the one with all the cavities.

But the idea that you just have a simple, transparent system that might (for example) also have been having these kids able to go to the dentist every six months without it being an isse - that'll turn us all into serfs,is that your idea.

>his kid died because of the neglect of inadequate or disinterested parents, not because of an inadequate or insufficient "system".

And you'd like to have kids go on dying rather than examine any of your finger wagging moralizing.

$80 or
You make it sounds like there are only two alternatives, $80 or $250,000. But there are actually more. Medical economists have worked this all out ages ago, and even in the States I think they say it only cost a few grand a year for top notch care if there was a free market.
But this notion of 'choosing your parents' that some of you guys mention is curious to me, but maybe it's some kinda joke thing I don't get cus i'm a non-native speaker. If it's not a joke though, I would say that many people realized when they got old that their parents weren't too good on some angles. For example, maybe some didn't care about brushing kids teeth(they didn't even have flossing years ago), some others gave kids bad diets when better food was available, etc. But you usually don't hear people complaining that their parents were crappy parents in some regards. YOu might not be able to do anything when a kid, but when old and have a chance to change your life for the better, then it's your responsibility, not some big brother of a government.

Still Don't Get It
As is your usual want, you don't care to see reality. You complain about finger wagging-but you wag your finger at EVERYBODY because you won't point it where it belongs. Its MY RESPONSIBILITY to take care of MY KIDS and if I don't ITS THE AUTHORITIES' responsibilities to remove them.

The reality is that this far more than likely could've been avoided with a toothbrush, some toothpaaste, and maybe a pre rinse. Thats as about as simple and transparent a system as you get.

If you don't discipline brushing and flossing, you aren't going to go for 2X year check ups, prophylaxis and fillings. Worse, if you don't have the money for an 80 dollar dentist appointment, you better be rinsing, flossing and brushing.

You've never dealth with MA populations, so you prattle on about "simple, transparent" systems without any knowledge of healthcare delivery or finance. MA populations engage in a lot of stupid behaviors that get them sick-some of which involve NOT doing things such as quitting smoking, eating right, exercising, restraining one's passions, etc.

Your wordplay is as paucious as it is nebulous and therefore continues to show you to have one arrow in your quiver. All you know is your emotion charged gut says SOMEBODY (government) should do (SOMETHING)because you just won't accept that just as people go on smoking some WON'T BRUSH.

You will always have parents that suck. You just don't want to confront that reality so you continue these inane quixotic rants about "systems" with all the faith of any brainwashed leftist in the power of government to cure any and all ills. You think it shows some moral superiority, but it shows a lack of life experience.

The adults here understand that life is hard, that children entail responsibilities and that this situation was the fault of the parents because they weren't stepping in to fix problems BEFORE they happened.







Insanity
You made a statement, YOU back it up.

As a matter of fact, I think all public education is inadequate-based upon witnessing thousands of transactions in all sorts of settings-where mostly young people lose their minds when you give them 20.98 to pay for a 15.98 transaction, in hopes of simply getting a 5 back. These kids stare at the .98 like you just handed them a frog. They can't tell you where France is on a map, who wrote the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION and mangle the language with phrases like "speak to the issues". I know I explained this last matter before, but apparently your grasp of grammar is as poor as your grasp of economics. Unless you are insane, you speak to PEOPLE- you address issues or more precisely the point of contention. SPEAKING to abstractions is lunacy.

All YOU EVER DO is complain, and Its "I have no complaints". adding "at all" is superfluous and unnecessary- "No" adequately conveys complete nullity.
I dare anybody to find me a Lemming post that wasn't a complaint.

You are also projecting. You are the one who calls other posters silly and inaccurate names "dimbulb", when you aren't resorting to "blow me" or some other statement of immature frustration.

As for me, I'm content to point out your limitations. Generally, when I am able to look past your indurate ignorance, I characterize your prose. My guess about you personally is that you are ignorant and narrow minded-those are accurate and well demonstrated inferences any reasonable person would make after sampling your brainwashed rants on TCS.



Again how does you yelling about bad parents help anyone, kids or taxpayers?
It makes you feel superior and self-righteous. Does it help the children? Does it lower taxes? Does it help to make sure that this situation doesn't repeat itself? No. No way, nowhere. But who cares about that?

>you will always have parents that suck.

Sure. So why not work with the fact, and try to set up poliices that will minimize damage to the kids and the tax bill and the penal system?

>You just don't want to confront that reality so you continue these inane quixotic rants about "systems" with all the faith of any brainwashed leftist in the power of government to cure any and all ills.

You're the one _not_ confronting reality by refusing on ideological grounds to consider that maybe something could be done. So your bottom line result is the kids die, the taxpayers pay, but that's fine, because it lets you feel morally superior.

>The adults here understand that life is hard, that children entail responsibilities and that this situation was the fault of the parents because they weren't stepping in to fix problems BEFORE they happened.

And heaven forbid that they should get any help or guidance from the government, help that might have saved both lives and taxpayer dollars.

dreamland
what's your source for this other than your imagination

> Medical economists have worked this all out ages ago, and even in the States I think they say it only cost a few grand a year for top notch care if there was a free market.

The blasted problem
The problem is that people want 100% coverage at no cost which is absurd. Good health care cost money and the system is not going to get better under a government plan. Ask any doctor who takes Medicare. It is a joke.

The solution is for people to start buying the plans themselves, just like car insurance, and affordable plans mean higher deductables. Health insurance was never intended to cover a splinter or tooth ache as Lemuel seems to think.

It is intended to cover catastrophic illness. If you have a cold, pay the bill.

You cannot convince me that this kid died because the parents didn't have 80 bucks. How hard is it to get 80 buck?

The government is not there to coddle every need of the people.

When you trade freedom for security you have less of both. If we trade our health care to the state we lose the ability to control our care. Like all forms of socialism, equality is shared miserey.

I think we are doomed as a nation. The left will not rest until they have bankrupted us both econimically and morally.

Europe anyone?

Nice theory, except....
I mean, it'd be great if everyone would buy insurance.

the problem is adverse selection. The ones who don't need it, don't want it. The onese who do need it can't get it.

If you have a pre-existing condition, no insurance company will insure you, unless you're part of a group - a company employee, etc.

>he solution is for people to start buying the plans themselves, just like car insurance

With car insurance, if you have an accident, it's your fault, so it makes sense you get charged more. But how is it your fault if you have cancer?

>ou cannot convince me that this kid died because the parents didn't have 80 bucks. How hard is it to get 80 buck?

The parents were paying for emergency dental care for the other kid. They thought this kid could wait jsut a little. They were wrong. That doesn't excuse them, but the bottom line is he wound up in the emergency room and that cost the taxpayers $250,000. And then he died.

>he government is not there to coddle every need of the people.

In this case, the issue isn't "coddling" but avoiding catastrophic problems that affect everyone.

> think we are doomed as a nation. The left will not rest until they have bankrupted us both econimically and morally.

Really. Sure making dental care available that migth have saved the kids life (and the taxpayers $250,000) is immoral.


"Parents today think the schools are responsible for raising their kids" Bingo!
But there is more to the story than first meets the eye. It turns out that parents today collectively work more than they did in my generation. They may work shorter hours compared to the working head of household family of the mid 1900's, but now both the mother and the father are working.

Since parents spend more time working, they spend less time raising and teaching their kids.

source re healthcare
One recent source is the govnmt of australia site re the immigration retirement visa. I was thinking going there so checked it out. Their rule is that if they give you a visa to live there, you must buy private insurance, and that it cost about 3k of their dollars for a family plan. Austalia has pretty good care. A while ago I checked out Switzerland too, and it was about the same there. Their rule is that anyone who stays longer than 3 months must buy private insurance too. They have about 90 companies providing it for a few million people only. The States could perform just as well. Where I live in asia, many countries around here sell insurance much cheaper even. But there is no free market in the States, and they have that stupid idea of it mostly tied to employment places. But that was a bad historical reason and they should change it. If I were an american i would fight vigorously against having the Post Office run(althoug Wal-Mart probably would be OK), or not the HUD(I think that's the organ of the predatory governmt that runs those quaint ghetto projects where the black people live, right?)

know about?
So do you mean you really are against choice like vouchers, and you were just pretending before? Or do you mean that it's bad for kids to gain valuable life experiences by working after school hours? Or do you mean that the huge teacher's union really is a good organization, and that their boss does deserve his salarey of about $250k per year, I guess it is? Also re not knowing anything. I also know that when space is available on the military base schools, most parents like to send them there instead of outside to the public schools. Apparently on the base schools, parents are allowed to just walk in, sit with kids, even ask questions to the teacher and otherwise participate, and that's in their uniform, with their guns. If you believe in choice would you approve of that for public schools too? Or do you mean that you actually do like the school system the way it is, and if they were just given more money then everything would be OK; that's what all the teachers and union bosses, and administrators say.

You're both right
Anonymous is correct that the parents deserve the most blame for this poor kid. By most blame I'm saying 99.9%. Frankly, I'd give them the death penalty for homicidal negligence. At the very least they should be sterilized so we guarantee they don't torture any more kids by bringing them into this world.

Lem is right in pointing out that our society is hurt by how this situation played out, that if we had a way to catch this kid before his scum parents let him fall through the cracks, it would have saved his life and it would have saved expense for the government, or whoever eats the $250k for the surgeries, etc.

But anonymous is stuck on a narrow view, unable or unwilling to see a bigger picture, technically correct, but shortsighted in the least. If its not a responsibility of government to catch people when tragedy befalls them, then the hospital should never have even attempted the surgery and they should've let the kid die without medical care. Thats heartless, but thats exactly the system anonymous is promoting. Its curious anonymous hasn't made this point, why is that?

Zero content on topic
You offer an unsupported opinion about public educaton (go tell the alumni of, say, the Bronx High School of Science that they got a second class education) and then drift off in random namecalling.

>Unless you are insane, you speak to PEOPLE- you address issues or more precisely the point of contention. SPEAKING to abstractions is lunacy.

so speak to the issues of health care, specifically.

>You are the one who calls other posters silly and inaccurate names "dimbulb", when you aren't resorting to "blow me" or some other statement of immature frustration.

If someone calls me names, I will not always not retaliate. And your complaint - that's what it is - seems to be it's ok for you to dish it out, but you can't take it.

Obviously the parents were at fault
But bad parents are always going to be with us. The question is what public policies make the best sense in dealing with it. The one that makes the least sense is to just use this event as an occasion for expressions of moral superiority, which as I've already noted, don't help the kids, and don't help the taxpayers (in this case, the ones who support the county hospital.)

Answer your own questions
The discussion is about medicine, not education. The fact that public schools in some (but not all) places have problems is not an argument against public health insurance.

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