A Hammer for Every Screw 113

The problem with using the Government Hammer to pound down every lingering social or civic problem is that sometimes it is actually the head of a screw sticking up and requires different tools than are currently being offered by the democratic Congress as a way of finally snugging that sucker tight to the deck.

I am not opposed to much of regulatory changes that made it through the House last weekend, most of them revenue neutral for Uncle Sam and long-overdue given the current state of our health care system.  However, If the democratic leadership had followed the lead of Olympia Snowe and the Blue Dogs, as the president seemed to prefer all along, this landmark legislation would have already been signed into law.  As it is, the “public option” just might be the hammer that breaks the head off the health reform screw in Conference Committee.  Assuming it makes it out of the Senate with a huge new beauracry as the price of reform.

Which brings me to the main thesis of this blog:  Why can’t we fix the government we have rather than adding billions (trillions long-term) in new spending that will end up in the same unaccountable blackhole every other federal (and state and local) dollar disappears into as soon as it is approved by Congress?

We have numerous “public options” already available to many Americans and they barely function as is.  The Medicare/Medicaid system is getting sicker and broker by the day, adding mostly ignored stress to the entire medical system.  You can’t negotiate bargain rates and then only pay 80% of the charges without someone else getting screwed down the line.  Even the VA and Tri-Care and beginning to experience many of the same issues their private counterparts are facing in paying for the level of care their clients expect, cutting services as need to balance the books.

As long as Americans keep eating the way we do and living the sendentiary life-styles we do, the rising cost of health care will remain beyond our ability to pay for it.

The problem is so much bigger than creating yet another unaccountable government boondoggle rather than fixing the programs we already spend billions on with very little true return on that investment.  Much of the criticism I hear from the center and moderate right isn’t that we should ensure deny anyone access to medical care or that we shouldn’t fix inequities in the system.  It is that creating another government program to fix something of this magnitude makes little sense given the government’s long history of failure in just about every endeavor they take on.  A psychopathic government is not my number one choice in health care provider no matter who is in charge of it.

About the only thing Uncle Sam is really good at is killing people.

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113 thoughts on “A Hammer for Every Screw

  • Saladin

    About the only thing Uncle Sam is really good at is killing people.

    Cynical these days?

    government’s long history of failure in just about every endeavor they take on.

    would you consider national parks failures? Social Security? Defense? Freeways? Police? Fire departments? Clean water for everyone? Sewage systems? Safe food? Air traffic management? Most utilities, The list goes on and on. How bout’ education? Where’d you learn to read?

    But oh yeah, you are enthrall to mindless Reaganisms, which in practice amount to paying higher taxes so that we can hand middle men money to provide less service (see entire student loan industry, Medicare administrated by private companies, Halliburtan, etc.).

    I’m no fan of the current Health care reform- which I see as another privatized boondoggle at our collective expense , but I certainly can’t countenance your lazy ignorant repetition of programed talking points: “Gov bad, private good” Rinse lather repeat.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Defense? Total and complete failure in just about every way imaginable. Social Security? Every tried to live a dignified life on SSI benefits? Total failure. Medicare? Don’t get me started. Despite Seashell’s “facts” here is what the Medicare Trustees report actually has to say.

      Government spends ten times the amount needed to achieve the mediocre ends. There is very little I see that government does on a day-to-day basis that couldn’t be done better (and cheaper) in numerous ways. I am not saying there is no need for government. Effective government, like democracy, is a great idea I wish we would actual embrace as a people.

      As usual, you willfully miss my point in your rush to embrace “good governance” now that your crew is in charge. The reaction to this blog is really no surprise at all.

      Pavlov would be proud.

      • Saladin

        Defense? Total and complete failure in just about every way imaginable.

        Had to stop there. Really think about that sentence. Every way?

        Good to see that you got bored and needed to provoke the house. I’ve been out of the loop the last few weeks and just popped in cause i hoped you might have something new to say. As usual, I missed your profoundness somehow.

        Happy to salivate on demand, whatever gets your kicks off. Somehow you need this antagonism, you can’t stay away.

        But seriously if you need some good conservative talking points there are better sources out there then retread Reaganisms. Hell he didn’t even believe most of them.

        Audios, Namaste.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Have you been in the military? Have much experience with those who have?

          But for the hardest of the hard core, I doubt that anyone who has been invloved in our nation’s “defense” would agree with my view on
          this matter.

          We could have had a true national defense at a tenth the cost.


          • Jason Everett Miller

            The typo above that changes the meaning of that sentence will probably be used as a distraction, but hopefully you get my meaning.

            Defense usually doesn’t involve long-range missiles fired from American warships and hundreds of thousands of troops fighting on distant shores.

            I am all for a ready defense. It is the offense we can’t really afford.

          • matyra

            Agreed. Talk about a g.d. money hole.

            If some of that money was used to go towards balancing the deficit and some of it used for business incentives (why not green jobs, or grants for innovation that’ll help the economy down the line?)–it will help America far more in the long run.

      • *

        You both are arguing the same point, but Saladin from the liberal bench and you, Jason, from the conservative bench.

        As you pointed out Jason, the cost of living is rising to where SSI isn’t enough for a retiree to live respectable life. Saladin points out the middleman is a cost factor that inflates the overall price of things. Both are related.

        It should be obvious the solution would be for both liberals and conservatives to concentrate their combined efforts to restrict the influence the middleman has on inflating the costs to consumers as a means of cost control over the entire economy.Not only would it reduce costs to the public, it would also reduce cots to the government too.

        The business community may start yelling and screaming, but all one has to ask of them is how much profit should a business make for the products they sell above and beyond the total cost of materials, factories, workers, warehouses, transportation, marketing, and display? As it now stands, as high as the market will bear, is the answer you’ll receive which is why costs are breaking budgets in all class levels. Enron is still alive in spirit in the business community!

        Both liberals and conservative need to realize their knee-jerk reactions to public and business problems are nothing more than band-aid legislation to appease their particular focus groups. The problems they believe they are fixing are nothing more than symptoms of deeper problems – band-aid fixes never fix problems, they just delay the inevitable.

        Both sides need to learn to support the public more over business interest, but they also need to know when to hold back and let the public work it out for themselves. As it now stand both are standing their ground refusing to meet in the center, so don’t expect anything worthwhile to happen. And the same can be said for the public too. Too bad the fact that government is suppose to be a cooperative event has been lost in the debate.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          As usual, Beetlejuice is the voice of reason on a thread that spun out of control almost from word one.

          The president said it best during the campaign, though he hasn’t gone out of his way to deliver on it yet: It isn’t about more government or less govenment. It is about smart government.

          I understand that some programs must run at a loss, but the entire government can’t and ours is bleeding red ink as far as the eye can see.

      • OldenGoldenDecoy

        Living off SSI … Only?

        Come on folks … Mister Bluster is blustering…

        SSI was never designed, nor has it ever been the intention this income was to provide full support to individuals in their later years. It was the original intent of Social Security to provide an old age insurance annuity to support a monthly benefit for workers who retired at age 65 financed by contributions these workers made over their career. This annuity was designed to supplement additional retirement savings.

        But, don’t sweat the small details…

        And don’t even broach the subject of the decades of raiding the fund for general budget shortfalls.


        • Jason Everett Miller

          As soon as most companies stopped offering pensions, SSI became the default retirement plan for most Americans.

          Howard is disembling again because he can’t possibly stand to be in agreement with anything I write, even those things that any self-respecting “liberal” should be in complete agreement.

          So, screw all you old bastards if you didn’t plan properly, because SSI was never meant to be a retirement plan. It says so right in the legislative record from 1935.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            Any mustard on that pretzel?

            Funny, I’m not the one who uttered this non sequitur of knuckle-headed nonsense:

            “Social Security? Every tried to live a dignified life on SSI benefits?”

            That leads the reader to believe that SSI was intended to fully support a “dignified life” when in fact, as I pointed out, SSI was intended to supplement elderly retirement. So to carry this to it’s logical conclusion, SSI in this context can not be considered a “failure” if it wasn’t initially intended to fully support a “dignified life.” But… most rational folks without an agenda understand this fact.

            By the way … No 401K here. What’s platinum worth on the current spot chart?

            Now let’s see how many more twists can be put in the ol’ pretzel by Mister Bluster Butt.


          • Jason Everett Miller

            No, that leads the read to believe that no matter the original intentions of the program, it is no longer adequate to the nation’s needs and is hardly a non sequitur. Sort of like the overall thesis in and of itself.

            The US government refuses to adapt to our needs on SSI and a host of other issues. Largely because of cheerleaders such as yourself who can’t seem to muster an ounce of criticism if their guys are the ones in charge.

            Once again, the only bluster and swagger enters by way of you hitting the “submit” button to deliver on non sequiturs of your own. Poor seniors with 401(k) investments after a lifetime of barely making ends meet.

            Nice ivory tower, Howard. Wait. Make that a platinum tower for your highness.

  • seashell

    OK, I’ll start with Government programs that work:

    Medicare (not sure why you think it’s so broken – here are some recent facts.)

    Civil Rights
    National Weather Service
    CDC (worked better before Bush tried to break it, but coming back now.)
    EPA (worked better before Bush tried to break it, but coming back now.)
    National Park Service
    US Postal Service
    Coast Guard
    The Military
    GI Bill
    Interstate Highway System
    FAA (but they need new equipment)
    The VA (used to work better before Bush and underfunding.)
    FDA (used to work much better before Bush and underfunding.)
    Social Security
    Federal judiciary system (worked better before Bush.)
    Police Departments
    Fire Departments

    Suggest that if you feel so strongly about gov’t run health care that you buy your own insurance.

    I’ll come back with more programs later.

    • Saladin

      Seashell, maybe JEM is being ironic here and we are missing it.

      “A hammer for every nail” seems to me an accurate title for the dogmatic assertion of “government’s long history of failure in just about every endeavor they take on

    • Jason Everett Miller

      If that is the best you can do, don’t bother coming back with more programs that fail more often than they work at ten times what they should really cost.

      I very clearly said that we should fix the public option we already have rather than create yet another unaccountable government agency that will fail to live up to its charter no matter how much money we dump into it.

      Government is only as good as the democratic society that ensures control. Our civil pact is broken on both levels.

      • Fred Moolten

        The public option would be self financing and cost no taxpayers dollars (see the text of HR3962 for details). To the contrary, it would save money for taxpayers and insurance customers by driving down the cost of insurance premiums.

        The myth that the public option would be funded by tax revenues is widespread, but so are many other myths about proposed healthcare reforms.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          It is a myth that the public option would be self-financing, Fred. No government programs are self-financing. It is an oxymoron.

          We would be better off using the existing public health systems to take care of those who can’t afford coverage rather than creating yet another program.

          Fix health insurance, health care delivery and information systems while looking toward long-term solutions to our steadily widening waists and declining health.

          A new public option, of any form, is a distraction in my opinion.

          • Fred Moolten

            Well, JEM, as Josh Billings is credited with saying, “The problem ain’t what we don’t know, but what we know that ain’t so.”

            In any case, please read the Public Option section of HR3296 and then explain how a law that expressly prohibits taxpayer financing of the public option, but instead requires it to pay for itself through premiums, is taxpayer funded.

            The only reason I barged into this thread is that it was my impression that you were not alone in the mistaken impression that the proposed public option would be funded by tax revenues, and I thought it was important to make clear that such a claim was false. Also to make clear that a public option, if implemented, would actually save tax dollars by reducing insurance premium costs across the board.

            If you have further questions after visiting HR3962, let me know and I’ll try to answer them.

          • *

            Jason, you’re dancing around the subject. The health care system in the US is broken. Care is rationed even with the best policies corporate America buys for their employees. And the costs employees pay in wage deductions for their share and lost salary increases coupled with increases co-pay, prescriptions and so forth is starting to eat up what little disposable income is left after the market crashed last year (and there’s rumor the world did hit peak oil in 2006 and it’s being kept under wraps to hold off a world panic). And those costs are rising faster than inflation.

            As long as you think you have the ultimate health insurance policy, nothing will happen with health care reform until you come to grips with a situation where your golden medical parachute fails to open when you need it most desperately. Must we, as a Nation, have to wait until everyone who is steadfastly against health care reform has a Come-to-Jesus meeting with a hospital medical billing agency demand for payments over and above your health care policy limits? That’s taking the concept of a democratic republic to extremes.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I don’t think I have the ultimate health insurance policy. I don’t think anyone in this country has that, despite their ability to pay for premium care.

            I don’t think that a public option is a bad idea. I think creating a whole new set of problems (and financial obligations) rather than fixing the problems (and budgets) we already have is throwing good money after bad.

            If the proferred set of solutions doesn’t seem up to our actual needs, why is it so unusual to brainstorm over more innovative solutions.

          • *

            Agreed. The current legislation isn’t worth the shit I flush down the toilet. Baby and half steps don’t make binding legislation – it will all fail in the long run and never take to the air – too much turbulence on the ground.

          • wickning1

            I hate to be pedantic, but fixing the private boondoggle we have is closer to throwing good money after bad than would be a completely new system.

            This is mostly an issue with the phrase itself. Throwing good money after bad is spending money in small amounts, but continuously, in the hopes that your existing (large) investment will pick back up. Often you are advised to STOP throwing good money after bad – by abandoning what exists and spending money on something else entirely.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I have no problem with this nit. I don’t propose spending anymore money on the private system anymore than I would see more money dumped into the public one.

            Our problems are too complex to simply pound down the health insurance screw with a new public option without twisting the others tight at the same time, including our worsening health as a nation, our existing public health systems and health care delivery as well.

            I am not so certain we can completely throw out what we have in favor of something totally new given the character of America as a whole. We aren’t all that revolutionary these days, despite the founding charter.

  • seashell

    A psychopathic government is not my number one choice in health care provider no matter who is in charge of it.

    This sentence is proof that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about … again.

    There is a rather large difference between a health care provider and a health care system.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Your inability to understand the words you quote is just more evidence that you don’t actually read, much less comprehend, anything I write.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            My comment was a reponse to more attack-mode pablum rather than what I actually wrote:

            This sentence is proof that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about … again.

            Actually, that sentence was saying that placing anything entirely in the hands of government is a bad idea, no matter who is charge.

            As usual, Seashell misses the point and blames me for her misunderstanding.

          • brantlamb

            You’re an idiot. There are all kinds of things that are “entirely in the hands of our government” the military being the first to spring to mind.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I think Xe and Halliburton might have a different view of just how much the military is entirely in the hands of the government. Even so, I think the government we have created completely polluted the original intention of the nation’s defense forces as envisioned by the founders.

            They were always supposed to be locally-controlled by the states, only to be called up at a time of war as declared by Congress. They certainly weren’t supposed to be the tip of the spear of American hegemony on a world grown weary of our depredations.

            In a related note, is it entirely necessary to call me an idiot before making a comment?

      • *

        Jason, seashell makes a good point.

        You did use the phrase … A psychopathic government is not my number one choice in health care provider no matter who is in charge of it.

        NOTE: see last sentence in the final, big paragraph.

        It raises a perplexing question. While the Democrats do hold a strong majority in both House and Senate, in the Senate, the minority Republicans are as brash as ever as if they are in control, and can and will turn the health care reform bill into a God-awful abortion no one would want, desire, need or use. Are they the psychopathic government you are referring too?

        • Jason Everett Miller

          You spotted the proper context for that sentence.

          We may have Glenda in charge today, but who is to say that bad ass sister from the east won’t take over tomorrow?

          Do we really want to put all our eggs in a basket that is full of holes?

          • *

            Today it looks as if the republicans are the strangers in a strange land, but in a few years, it could very well be democrats. The public needs a mechanism to protect itself from violent political swings. The disruptions in the overall political landscape is why some many on the right are wanting their country back – they want the political civility they once enjoyed more than political ideology of tody. It’s that political ideology which acts as a wedge to separate the public from one another which fuels the political process to ratchet the rhetoric up even more.

      • Bwakfat

        Really? That’s the only thing the U.S. is good at? You must live in a different reality.

        The U.S. doesn’t deserve people like you, Jason. You know what? As a first generation American whose father came from a country that was awfully good at killing it’s own people, you are OFFENSIVE.

        Why do you live here? Your whining is counter-productive and wimpy.

        • readytoblowagasket

          Jason qualified his statement thus: “About the only thing.” It’s not an absolute, it’s not hyperbolic.

          And he’s not wrong about that.

          • Bwakfat

            No Jason, you’ve become a dour, spoiled, fat whiney American.

            I’m getting convinced that a lot of the people that live here have no appreciation for how good they have it, and don’t deserve to live here.

            You should be ashamed of yourself. It’s so easy to tear down, you like it easy, which is why you were a Dem when Bush is president, and now you are a Repub. It takes any and all responsibility away. All you have to do is be negative.

            It’s lazy.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            Ah yes … More bullshit from the wilderness…

            Now run along a speak into the dic-ta-phone … the boss is calling.


  • bluebell

    Where did you ever get the idea that Blue Dogs want to fix anything? You have a sentimental regard for these supposed centrists but their main function is actually defending establishment interests and the status quo. If you want to locate the center of bad government, find a centrist. For better or worse, you’ll find new ideas elsewhere.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Looking for a link from Montana that proves this point. Or one from Maine.

          The public option, as currently envisioned, is far from a slam dunk in every state in the union. You really do love yourself some dictatorial powers, huh?

          Meet the new boss, same as the old.

  • quinn esq

    This is pure troll. There’s nothing in the blog, other than a series of ever-changing metaphors for Government (It’s a Hammer, it’s a Black Hole, nooooooo… it’s a Psychopath!) This shit sounds like a speech written for a stupider Ronald Reagan. (Wait. Can there be such a thing? Must research.)

    “About the only thing Uncle Sam is really good at is killing people.” Great line, if given by a troll. You being that blatant these days JEM?

    • Jason Everett Miller

      That is the best you can do? Throwing the word troll around as if you knew what it meant.

      The US government has become particularly adept at killing people to further our ends, especially since the end of World War II. I wasn’t aware that was such a controversial opinion on a “liberal” blog.

      Meet the new boss, same as the old.

      • quinn esq

        What, did somebody shoot our dog, JEM? Jesus. You’re on here babbling Ronnie’isms, talking about ten to one, ten to one, Government a complete failure – I mean, it’s not even trying to connect with any real numbers or analysis. It’s just ranting against Government. Which is why I say it’s trollish.

        So… seriously. What the hell’s up? You don’t usually write like this.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Ronnie and the republicans are as responsible for the failure of government these last forty years as Billy and the democratic leadership council.

          Government at every level in America – local, state and federal – is bleeding red ink as far as the eye can see. Our bridges are falling down, our power grid is ancient and we can’t seem to teach our children anything worthwhile in school.

          Fraud, waste and abuse has become the status quo in how the government does business.

  • destor23

    Hey there pal, it’s been awhile. Have to address a couple of your points here.

    You’re right that the government is not the appropriate tool to fix every social problem. I bet we’d agree that some social issues such as those that involve people’s expression are great places to keep the government out of the debate. That’s one reason why I opposed the Washington Post editor’s call for a public bailout of our nation’s newspapers. As much as I love our newspapers using the government to solve their problems would ruin them.

    But the public option isn’t one of those issues. It’s not that it’s inappropriate for the government to offer a public option it’s not that the government’s very involvement would undermine what we’re trying to do, it’s just that there’s some legislative risk of failure if we pursue it. That’s a huge difference, I think. In the case of, say, bailing out the newspapers, government involvement is actually counter-productive. In this case it’s just difficult politics.

    As to your assertion that it creates some sort of new multitrillion entitlement that we can’t afford — the money’s going to come from somewhere, Jason. Reform with public option lite via health exchanges will cost $1.2 trillion over a decade. But look what we’re spending now with no reform at all! We spent more than $2 trillion in 2008. We’ll spend more than $4 trillion in 2018 if we do nothing. Whether it’s paid for by government taxation or payroll deductions for insurance premiums is immaterial to me — if it goes to Tim Geithner or Aetna it’s all the same to me, I don’t get to take it home!

    I’d just ask you to consider that we already have a multitrillion dollar health care system that normal working people pay for and that whether or not it’s a government program really doesn’t matter. Tax me, bill me, whatever. Just be kind enough to call me in the morning.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Good comments, D, and thanks for not being a dick like many of your compadres.

      I would like to reform the public options we already have to provide for the people who can’t get insurance through private means once they are regulated properly and are no longer able to kill people for profit.

      I would like the least possible intervention on behalf of the government as possible, knowing that once a program is established it will never die, even once the necessity for the program has.

      I thought I was clear in that I didn’t oppose government intervention in health care. I just prefer it be smarter, cost less and have a chance of working.

      • destor23

        Well, see I know that you believe in universal health care, we’ve discussed this and other ideas before and in the end, you’re as liberal as any one here you’re just differing about how to get there.

        And maybe ONE other thing… you’re worried that the government program will endure beyond its necessity and that certainly does happen with government programs. But it’s also the case that until we get to a point where we’re not dealing with limited resources that there are some government programs that will always be necessary. Health care is one, I think. You don’t get beyond the need for the government program until you beat scarcity and we’re far away from that.

        Now I know you want to beat scarcity too but can you accept some open ended government programs in the meanwhile?

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I want to take every single existing government health care system (Medicare/Medicaid, VA, Tricare, Federal health insurance) and combine it into a single system called Americare that gets the true benefits of scale.

          This strategy would have numerous benefits, not the least of which is being something that would be easy to sell to conservatives. I would also fold in public health infrastructre such as the FDA and the CDC while I was at it. We need to be smarter about how we expect our government and then vote accordingly in every single election.

          Short of that, I suspect my family will end up in Amsterdam at some point as America devolves into Italy, circa 410 AD.

  • NobleCommentDecider

    Theres only two things you can count on in this here hill country, your dog and your sidearm, clear nuff?

    Ain’t that right JEM?

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I don’t think you are a psychopath (I sensed a bit of snark in the comment but like to check as I have tone difficulty at times) but our institutions certainly have become more so over the years.

      Otherwise, someone clearly insane and suffering from PTSD wouldn’t have been put to death recently in Virginia. No matter how horrific the crime, only a sadistic nation kills innocents as the price of punishing the guilty.

      Our corporate power structures have devolved in like fashion and in a suicide embrace with government as the whole system seems headed toward collapse.

      I am not quite ready to believe that the government can solve all these problems alone given its historic difficulty at living up to its obligations to its most vulnerable citizens.

  • moat

    I would like to bring up something in parallel to destor23’s observation that removing government from a set of affairs doesn’t necessarily free the set from bureaucratic excess and extra costs.

    One thing my grandfather often said about government programs that didn’t perform in ways beneficial to the public was that there is a tendency to expect certain institutions to do what other institutions have to do. He said the following sorts of things:
    “The department of Justice cannot replace what a family has to do. A family cannot replace what the institutions of Education can provide. The Police cannot run the YMCA. The Federal government cannot replace what can only be organized by a Local council.”

    I think the old guy was on to something. From his point of view, the problem is not that government thinks everything is a nail. The problem is that we think too much like nails.

    The Libertarian idea says that many things can be worked out amongst people without the interference of an agency at every turn. I agree with that principle in many instances. But when the principle becomes an institution onto itself, I see my granfather’s bushy eyebrows shooting up in skepticism.

    • bluebell

      Great point. Maybe if we could get away from the idea that we need an insurance or any corporation to deliver primary health care we’d be able to get the government out of the health delivery business too.

    • destor23

      Thanks, that’s pretty much what I wanted to say. I am always all for keeping the government out of something whenever possible. Most people really do want to be left to solve their problems with (or sometimes without) others. Great.

      But let’s not make it a dogma. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Or, to be more generous, sometimes it doesn’t work best. I mean, we could have private police forces if we wanted. They just would be far more expensive and not work as well.

      But the fact is — eliminating the government responsibility to police the populace would remove the costs of policing from the government’s ledger but it would not make policing free. Others would simply bear the cost and they would, in turn, pass that cost into the rest of society. What we pay in taxes for police might well seem a bargain compared to what people would make us pay to support a private system.

      Thanks again, Moat!

      • Jason Everett Miller

        I would prefer to have fewer police and fewer laws for them to enforce not private police forces.

        Take away the Drug War and the War on Terrorism and what do we really need all these police for except as a drain on already over-stretched budgets?

        How many smart, poor kids could we send to MIT for cost of a single cop over an entire career?

    • *

      Excellent advice. The government should only get into the fray when all options fail. Otherwise, stay out. In the case of health care, the government has no option but to wade into the waters, careful not to institutionalize the process.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks for the great addition to the conversation.

      I think it really gets at the heart of my thesis, which is a better understanding of the civic pact and where certain problems should naturally be addressed.

      I would hope that nothing I have offered here would raise those bushy eyebrows, except perhaps in amusement.

  • moat

    Your reply goes to the heart of the matter. I am compelled to bring in a little Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

    If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.

  • flavius

    You can not debate first principles

    With respect, why bother commenting. JEM is almost certainly a good human being ,kind to children and animals and puts a penny in the old man’s hat. But the way he feels it is right for the world to work is different from ours.

    He thinks the government will fail at whatever it tries to do (other than fight a war,probably) because he wants to think that.

    You can as easily make the Pope pro choice as you can convince JEM that it is tragic that a thousand americans die needlessly every week who wouldn’t under a health system like those in almost every other developed country.

    Consider him the loyal opposition, applaud him if there’s an issue on which he happens to be on our side.And move on.

    • artappraiser

      why bother commenting

      It is indeed puzzling why. Seemed like virtually from the second day of inception of “blogging” as an online version of diary writing, people seemed bound and determined to reduce it to another version of talk radio. It was like “yay, no screeners! we can yell back at the guy now and have an audience!”

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Not sure how you got the idea that oppose all government services and intervention in our day-to-day lives. That is clearly a fringe belief that I do not espouse, even in my necessarily harsh criticism of the people currently in charge and their lack of apparent ability.

      What I think is tragic is the notion that those thousands of deaths will be solved by half-baked solutions that won’t take affect for years. Creating new programs rather fixing existing ones to meet our needs take much more time and will lead to many more unneccesary deaths.

      I am sick of stupid government, wasteful and wonton government, and that is the only kind America has had during my 40 years on this Earth.

      • flavius

        Not sure how you got the idea that oppose all government services (sic)


        stupid government, wasteful and wonton government, and that is the only kind America has had

        That’s how.

        Perhaps it would be more accurate you oppose all government services that are operated in a stupid ,wasteful and wanton manner. Which happens to be all of them. But you do support some government services not operated in that manner. It just happens there aren’t any.

        Mr.Miller , your statement of beliefs says that you oppose

        a revolution that seeks to tear everything down


        How does that square with your assessment that all government services are stupid ,wasteful and wanton? Are we to conclude that despite these characteristics you support their continuation? Or that you propose tearing them down?

        • Jason Everett Miller

          That is the kind of government we have had for at least the last 40 years and likely since the beginning of the country. Still waiting for anything resembling facts to dispute that view.

          By the way, the quotes you supplied were critiques of the governments we have allowed to develop at all levels, not a condemnation of government as an instution. Functional government is a blessing, but one that is impossible to achieve without wide-spread citizen involvement.

          Thomas Paine said it best before we even had a government:

          Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

          I would suggest reading the entire essay. It was pretty pivotal to the creation of our nation.

          • flavius

            Still waiting for anything resembling facts to dispute that view

            The question is not whether governments make mistakes. It’s whether they make so many that they are the problem. Or if not the problem enough of a problem so their role should be diminished to the extent possible.

            Governments do some things right and some things wrong. Non governmental entities do some things right and some things wrong. Like say AIG. In fact
            all organizations get lots of things wrong lots of the time. Management theorists make far too much money by writing books about that with titles like The Peter Principle or In Search of Excellence.

            But there is an added problem when governmental functions are delegated to business. That basic human attribute- greed -causes businesses to not only make their particular quota of mistakes but also to deliberately carry out the function in such a way that the business can make as much money as possible . Despite that it is usually the case where it is better for the sake of checks and balances for a government to assign tasks to businesses and then check on them. A lot.

            But where something as irreplaceable as a human life is concerned the cost of assigning important functions to a non governmental body is too high. At least too high for the particular individual who dies because he can’t afford the $40,000 charge for a procedure whose incremental cost to the agency is perhaps one fortieth of that.

            Mr. Miller, I don’t really care very much whether the government or free enterprise runs the communications net work,or the transportation system, or even the department stores.But some things are too important to be assigned to free enterprise with not only its own quoata of incompetence but with the perverse effects of unchecked greed: the military, education and health.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            As soon as the government starts performing up to par in education, health care and the military I will buy your arguments as having some validity; however, in all three of those areas, as well as so many others, the United States government has not lived up to its obligations.

            Until then, your thesis that the government is the natural repository for anything without so much as a moment’s thought to the matter is facetious at best. Government is only as good as the citizens charged with watching it. We have been long absent from that part of Constitutional Compact.

            Not sure what it is you are arguing. Trust your Uncle Sammy in all things related to the military, health care and education? That is clearly the advice of a fool or at least advice only a fool would follow.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            The time for it to end was before you commented on the blog in the first place, assigning anti-government beliefs and far right ideological motivations to me that exist no where but your mistaken impression of what I wrote.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Why can’t we fix the government we have

    Well, we could if we didn’t put the government in charge of fixing itself.

    If the people were truly in charge instead of abdicating their responsibility, there would be plenty of pink slips for the suits.

    High marks for questioning authority, jason. Recommended.

    • destor23

      What I love about you ready is that you have no sacred cows at all. You have to be really tolerant to question authority, after all. Have a great week!

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, G. I try to question everything, my assumptions as well as the assumptions of others.

      I agree that we have long abdicated our personal responsibility as citizens in the hopes that government would miraculously provide without our input and involvement. Society as a whole for that matter.

      It really is a Chicken-and-Egg dilemma.

  • *

    Your analogy of using a hammer to drive home a screw is noteworthy – right tool for the right job. However, what is one suppose to use when there isn’t a screwdriver available – only a hammer? Could explain why we always have to revisit legislation to tweak it for current inefficiencies.

    Perhaps both liberals and conservatives need to step back and think about the tools they have in the toolchest. By having the right tools to work with, the issues between liberals and conservative are mere talking points. A lefthanded screwdriver vs righthanded screwdriver but a screwdriver nonetheless – all depends on how one uses it and for what purpose. The real legislation would be over the tools used to make government work. And those tools should be designed for specific governmental functions and not used to jury-rig legislation on-the-fly to meet public or business expectations. That’s why so much legislation fails to live up to expectations.

  • rmrd0000

    Legislation involves compromise. One party offers concessions to the other. This happens within a political party and between political parties. Even though one party may have the “ideal” solution, the solution is diluted by compromise.

    Replacing a hammer with a screwdriver will create what others may see as an icepick being used as a stabbing device. As long as people disagree, creating legislation will look like making sausage. If you believe in a woman’s right to choose, how much are you willing to give up to a legislator who believes abortion is murder to get a bill passed? How much will a pro-life legislator give up to a person who believes in a woman’s right to choose to get a bill passed?

    The Constitution began with the birth defect of slavery. Women were not allowed to vote. I see nothing to convince me that anything done by humans will not have flaws requiring later corrections. This would happen locally and nationally.

  • matyra

    To actually “fix” anything requires will. A lot of it. The Republicans didn’t fix programs with known inefficiencies, stupidities, and failures when they were in charge. Considering that Democrats now in charge are fed by the same money that fed Republicans, there seems to be limited will there too.

    Reform takes work. Resolve. And when the whole system likes the system as it is now, we get only limited change. The fact that HCR is even on the radar is amazing. But actually having will to change America’s life style? Not when the food industry is so happy reaping profits on Fruit Loops and other shitty manufactured fake foods and lobbying representatives that the money they make is better than a reduced heart disease rate.

    Will to change the military? Not when money from the military industry and, of course, constituents in states that produce military items (I guess there’s a reason that there’s so many bases in so many states. Just to keep “military” on the mind of reps come re-election time).

    Ignoring the spread-out military complex and just sticking to one of the reasons of lack of will, I’ll just say this: The problem is money. If money was reduced in importance to “why someone is elected office”, then the reasons not to innovate and improve would be reduced. With reelection and keeping the status quo money pipeline as it is holding things back, how can we get any meaningful improvement?

    How can we get money disassociated with re-election?

    • seashell

      The Republicans didn’t fix programs with known inefficiencies, stupidities, and failures when they were in charge. Considering that Democrats now in charge are fed by the same money that fed Republicans, there seems to be limited will there too.

      Exactly, matyra. The only difference is that Democrats tend to lean toward the center (if not center-right) when facing elections, while the Republicans just go further to the right, which by definition means no fixing programs with known inefficiencies, stupidities and failures. On the right those are known as features, not bugs. 🙂

      How can we get money disassociated with re-election?

      My guess is public financing, but it will never happen in the Roberts court.