HEALTH MATTERS: Many Trump voters were clueless RE health!


Part 4—Then again, so are we liberals:
All too often, we the liberals seem to love trashing Those People.

Yesterday, Nicholas Kristof described this tendency as it exists among the rank and file. But the love of loathing also exists among our liberal leaders.

If you doubt that, consider today's column by Paul Krugman. He starts with a comment about Donald J. Trump, then whacks the gentleman's 63 million voters:
KRUGMAN (4/7/17): This week’s New York Times interview with Donald Trump was horrifying, yet curiously unsurprising. Yes, the world’s most powerful man is lazy, ignorant, dishonest and vindictive. But we knew that already.

In fact, the most revealing thing in the interview may be Mr. Trump’s defense of Bill O’Reilly, accused of sexual predation and abuse of power: “He’s a good person.” This, I’d argue, tells us more about both the man from Mar-a-Lago and the motivations of his base than his ramblings about infrastructure and trade.
Donald J. Trump made a very dumb comment about the O'Reilly matter.

There's no imaginable way he can judge the merits of the claims against O'Reilly—a series of claims which have led to large cash settlements. But so what? He went ahead and made a sweeping judgment about those cases all the same.

That was very dumb and very typical. In all honesty, it was also rather dumb when Krugman took that additional step—when he said that Trump's remark "tells us about the motivations of his base," full stop.

That too strikes us as a dumb remark. It's also an unkind, perhaps ugly. Letting us know that it wasn't a slip, Krugman goes on to push back against Kristof's claim that Donald J. Trump's 63 million voters are a varied group of people, that they're even "human:"
KRUGMAN: Does the appalling character of the man on top matter?

I think it does...[W]hat Trumpism has brought is a new sense of empowerment to the ugliest aspects of American politics.
By now there’s a whole genre of media portraits of working-class Trump supporters (there are even parody versions). You know what I mean: interviews with down-on-their-luck rural whites who are troubled to learn that all those liberals who warned them that they would be hurt by Trump policies were right, but still support Mr. Trump, because they believe that liberal elites look down on them and think they’re stupid. Hmm.

Anyway, one thing the interviewees often say is that Mr. Trump is honest, that he tells it like is, which may seem odd given how much he lies about almost everything, policy and personal. But what they probably mean is that Mr. Trump gives outright, unapologetic voice to racism, sexism, contempt for “losers” and so on...
Perhaps by observing the flight of birds, the exalted columnist knows what (snark alert!) those "down-on-their-luck rural whites" are probably thinking when they still won't denounce Trump—full stop, apparently all of them.

Krugman seems aggrieved by the fact that those rural whites wouldn't listen to liberals like him—to the folk who were right all along. After producing a parody version of the interviews he is mocking, Krugman tells us that those rural whites "probably mean" by their continued support for Trump.

Inevitably, they probably mean that they like Donald J. Trump's racism and sexism. They like the fact that he is bringing "a new sense of empowerment to the ugliest aspects of American politics."

Full stop. In a remarkably sweeping comment, Krugman seems to speak for the 63 million Trump voters, or for whatever portion are "rural whites."

Krugman paints with a very broad, rather unpleasant brush. Needless to say, as if by law, this pleasing put-down appeared:

They "still support Mr. Trump, because they believe that liberal elites look down on them and think they’re stupid. Hmm."

Hmmm. That last word seems to say that those "rural whites" really are "stupid." They refused to listen to what Krugman told them (quite correctly) from his perch near the top of the liberal elite.

In these passages, Krugman continues to show that he's very weak as a political pundit. That said, Krugman is reigning journalistic MVP concerning matters of policy.

Elsewhere in today's column, he notes the inanity of Republican claims about health care over the past eight years. We would assume that his policy assessments are perfectly right.

Krugman has explained, many times, that Republican posturing about repeal-and-replace was always a major con. To the extent that rural white voters didn't know that, we'd say that they may have failed to understand the basics of health care policy.

We liberals love to trash Them for this. In this column, Krugman tells us, with a wink and a nod, that it's OK to call Them "stupid."

We think that's mindlessly dumb. Just consider the cluelessness of us exalted suburban liberals when it comes to health care matters.

We liberals! In recent years, it has become chic in liberal circles to support "Medicare for all," which we tend to call "single payer."

We'll guess that very few people within our tents could explain why we call Medicare "single payer." But let's set that point aside and focus instead on this letter to the New York Times, published in the wake of Trumpcare's recent legislative implosion:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (3/25/17): Republicans have never liked the idea of a national health care system. President Obama's triumph in passing the Affordable Care Act infuriated them into an obsession to make it fail by any means necessary, lying about its successes and convincing their base that it was a terrible system.

Now the Republicans are facing a crisis of their own making, when a bipartisan effort could have made the Affordable Care Act work for everyone at reasonable costs.

Of course, it would be so much easier (and less expensive) to expand Medicare to cover all Americans—but that would make Republicans' heads explode, so it's off the table.
The letter came from New York City. The writer voiced a standard tribal belief—Medicare for all would be (much?) less expensive.

To what extent is that statement true? Like most of us self-impressed liberals, we have no idea.

We have no idea because we highly-educated suburban liberals have floundered along for many years inside a long series of pseudo-discussions—pseudo-discussions which we're too dumb to recognize or too meek to complain about.

Our cluelessness about health care policy is legion. But we liberals only criticize cluelessness when it's found Over There.

In what ways are We, the exalted "suburban whites," clueless about health matters? Let's start with this:

How many white liberals—whites of the type of whom Krugman approves—would have any f*cking idea how to explain these astonishing numbers?
Per capita spending, health care, 2015
United States: $9451
Canada: $4608
France: $4407
United Kingdom: $4003
Finland $3984
Weird! In some unexplained way, $5000 per person per year is disappearing into the maws of our American health care system! That's compared to the level of spending which occurs in France.

How many of Krugman's "suburban whites" could even begin to explain this? The answer, of course, is none—and this is a topic which Krugman himself introduced, or tried to introduce, in a series of columns back in 2005.

What happened when Krugman wrote those columns? Were they ignored by the "rural whites" for whom he holds such contempt?

Actually no! His columns were ignored by "the liberal elite," by a wide array of ranking liberals who Krugman doesn't have the courage to name or confront.

As with almost all his columns, Krugman's series of columns in 2005 produced zero further discussion. Twelve years later, we've seen no one try to explain where all that missing money is going every year.

We aren't permitted to think about that—and we self-impressed liberals don't notice!

This leads us to our second question about Krugman's suburban whites:

How many "whites" of this approved type have ever so much as seen those numbers, or their equivalent? How many "Krugman whites" could tell you, even in general terms, that this is the actual size of this remarkable state of affairs?
Per capita spending, health care, 2015
United States: $9451
Canada: $4608
France: $4407
United Kingdom: $4003
Finland $3984
How many "Krugman whites" have even seen those remarkable numbers? Surely you jest. The answer is virtually none!

We members of Krugman's exalted class can't be called policy giants. Next question:

When we liberals advocate "Medicare for all," saying how much less expensive it would be, how many of us have any idea what we're talking about?

For ourselves, we've never seen data comparing health care spending on people on Medicare to comparable spending in nations like France. Based on everything we know, we'd assume that American spending in that age group, as in all others, would dwarf the level of spending in France.

That said, we whites have never seen those numbers—or even wondered about them! Despite our brilliance, it has never occurred to us that those numbers are being withheld, or that we have no f*cking idea how much health care spending would be reduced if someone waved a magic wand and extended Medicare to all.

It's especially odd to see us "genius whites" extolling the savings involved in "Medicare for all." Reason? One of the very few specific matters we know how to discuss is this: Medicare pays exorbitant prices for prescription drugs, as compared to the prices paid by people in other countries.

In short, a "single payer" system can engage in massive overspending too. Have you ever heard a "Krugman white" note that basic fact?

In truth, we liberals rarely know squat or squadoosh about any policy matter. (We got played for decades about the Social Security trust fund.) Nor do we ever seem to notice the way basic information is withheld from us in our health care pseudo-debates—withheld from us by our own liberal leaders.

For ourselves, we started this site, in large part, because of the clownish Medicare debate of 1995 and 1996. Night after night, week after week, pundits debated this question:

Was Speaker Gingrich proposing "cuts" to Medicare? Or was he simply reducing the rate at which the Medicare program would grow?

Week after week, month after month, our liberal thought leaders scratched their heads about that puzzler. After a substantial struggle, we came close to solving the riddle in an op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun. Later, we posted three explanations—short, medium and long—right here at this site.

We'll guess our work was reasonably good. At one point, Krugman linked to our three reports to support his own account of that absurd pseudo-debate. But how many liberals ever complained about the inanity of that bungled discussion, which went on for more than a year? How many of us "Krugman whites" could have explained that basic health care matter?

We Krugman-approved suburban whites aren't intellectual giants. Neither are the folk Over There. That said, the most maddening part of this whole shebang is the way we liberals get conned by our own liberal leaders, even as we're told to ridicule the dumb stupid folk Over There.

Twelve years ago, Krugman tried to start a discussion of our nation's crazy level of health care spending. The rest of the "liberal elite" refused to follow his lead.

Krugman doesn't have the courage to call the roll of people like that; instead, he name-calls the dumbness of rural whites. Meanwhile, here in our liberal bubble, we liberals don't know how much information is being withheld. We don't understand that Rachel Maddow will never show us these data:
Per capita spending, health care, 2015
United States: $9451
Canada: $4608
France: $4407
United Kingdom: $4003
Finland $3984
Rachel would jump off the Golden Gate bridge before she'd rock that (corporate) boat.

Those numbers, which we've posted three times, are extremely important. Those numbers explain why it's so hard to provide universal health care in this country.

Those remarkable, puzzling numbers are extremely important. But we "acceptable whites" have never been shown those numbers, and we never will be.

In truth, we don't have the first f*cking clue. The only thing we really is know that The Others are stupid.

Paul Krugman doesn't seem to care for rural whites. As we close, let's mention two in particular:

When Bernie Sanders went to rural West Virginia, he spoke with a coal miner who had hoped that a President Trump could restore work in the mines.

When Sarah Kliff went to rural Kentucky, she spoke with a 59-year-old woman who couldn't afford to go to the doctor. That woman had hoped that a President Trump could improve her health care situation.

In each case, we'd say those voters probably didn't understand the policy matters at issue. For this reason, Krugman says they're "stupid."

Krugman says the miner is stupid. When Sanders went to West Virginia, he said those miners were "heroes."

Which of these famous people was right? We'll only tell you this:

When that West Virginian was down in the mines, Krugman was spending his undergraduate years at Yale. He then moved on to MIT, where he earned his doctorate.

Is it really hard to understand why the one man might understand policy matters better than the other? Is it hard to see that graduate seminars aren't piped into the mines?

Does that West Virginia miner have to be stupid and racist? Why can't he simply be mistaken and human? What is the world makes a person like Krugman want to loathe him so?

As it turns out, Krugman is human too! In a lengthy profile in New York Magazine, Krugman seemed to say that he was once rather clueless too, as late as 1999:
WALLACE-WELLS (4/14/11): Krugman had begun the work that would eventually win him the Nobel Prize—an aggressive revision of international trade theory—by the time he was in his mid-twenties, and so for nearly all of his adult life he has had good evidence for the proposition that he is smarter than just about everyone else around him, and capable of seeing things more clearly. Krugman is gleeful about being right, joyous in the revelation of his correctness, and many of his most visible early fights were with free-trade skeptics on the left. Of Robert Reich, for instance, Krugman wrote: “talented writer, too bad he never gets anything right.” He was a liberal and a Democrat, but even in 1999, when he was hired by Howell Raines to write his Times column, “I still saw equivalent craziness on both sides.”

This evenhandedness began to disappear almost immediately. Four months after his first column, Krugman began studying the economic proposals of the Bush campaign and found, somewhat to his astonishment, that they were deeply disingenuous. “That was a radicalizing experience. Not just that the presidential candidate of one of America’s major political parties could say something that was demonstrably false, but that nobody was willing to say so,” Krugman says. “That was pretty awesome.”
As late as 1999, Krugman was astonished and radicalized when he saw that Bush's proposals were disingenuous! Up until then, he had supposed that the craziness was equally found on both sides.

Today, that's the person who is calling that Kentucky woman stupid! Is that what we should say about him, up through 1999?

Sanders called the miner a hero. Krugman calls him stupid and racist. We'd say that one of these men knows a great deal more than the other, human being-wise.

At least in his mind, Bernie Sanders has gone down in the mines. It's dark as a dungeon down in the mines. Somehow, Sanders knows how to respect the people who go down there.


  1. Ain't Sanders wonderful!

    And now he is going on a tour so that we can learn to adore him better!

    What a guy!

    1. Don't be bitter, blame Chuck Schumer [LINK]:

      [QUOTE] Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is joining the ranks of Senate Democratic leadership next year.

      Sanders was named chairman of outreach during a closed-door Senate Democratic caucus meeting Wednesday morning.

      In the role, Sanders will be in charge of reaching out to blue-collar voters who flocked to President-elect Donald Trump this year.
      [END QUOTE]

      Or stick with your whine and go back to chanting, "The smartest white person in the room can't fail, she can only be failed." [LINK]

    2. They are co-opting him to prevent him from undermining the next Democratic nominee.

      Are you happy that Hillary lost? Do you think Sanders is smarter? He couldn't even answer legitimate questions about his own proposals. Assigning him to recruit the dumbest segment of the voting public isn't exactly a compliment.

    3. Am I happy that Hillary lost? The way I see it, the Democratic party is at the doorstep of oblivion at all levels of government; state legislatures, governorships, the House, the Senate. Should the Republicans lock up control of four more state legislatures the U.S. Constitution, itself, would be at risk of a catastrophic overhaul.

      Were Clinton to be in the White House and the symbol of the Democratic party at this moment the Democrats would be destined to be buried by the Republicans in 2018 and some Republican a whole lot more competent and viciously ideological than Trump would end up winning the presidency in 2020.

      Hillary Clinton has atrocious political skills and never figured out away to take her case around the Republican scandal mongering machine (what Atrios used to call the "Mighty Wurlitzer") to make her case to the American people and, both because she's a neo-liberal and a poor communicator, she is incapable of being the desperately needed public advocate for the positive role of big government must play in this era of late stage capitalism against the philosophical assaults of Movement Conservatism.

      Am I happy that Hillary lost? No, Trump is a danger so there wasn't going to be a satisfactory outcome back in November regardless of who won.

    4. Here you illustrate in a few paragraphs the damage Sanders did to the democrats and our country.

    5. How's your vote for Jill Stein working out for you now, BigMike?

    6. I'll bet Somerby did too.

    7. You're wrong, Somerby voted for Clinton and she was his preferred candidate throughout the primaries. You have been thrown by Somerby's repeated suggestions throughout the process that in the general election Clinton might not be invincible- a sacrilege to a Clinton devotee like yourself.

    8. Somerby said several times that he preferred Sanders but would happily vote for Clinton. I am not going to dig the quotes out again, but you and AC/MA keep ignoring what Somerby said.

    9. No, go ahead and dig out those quotes. I've been through his posts and Somerby was clear, he didn't think Sanders would be a viable general election candidate.

    10. I posted them already. Use Google.

    11. Big Mike always loses me at neo-liberal"

  2. A miner is not a hero. He is a worker in a deplorable job. He is to be pitied but not lauded. If he had a spark of intelligence and initiative, the guts to step outside his limited options and find a better job, I could call him a hero, but instead, he inflicted Trump on the nation in a stupid attempt to perpetuate his awful working conditions. Because otherwise, he might have to learn something new.

    Elsewhere in the US (and even in the past, especially during the African American diaspora in which poor black people moved to large urban areas seeking employment), people do move to find better jobs. They uproot their families and take a chance that they will find a way to improve their lives elsewhere. That takes bravery. Staying where you are and growing poorer, drifting further from the American mainstream with each year, is no way to find a better life.

    Then Trump came along and made big promises and they, being ignorant backwater suckers, believed every word of it. And we are supposed to consider them heroes because Bernie said so! No. I have higher standards for those I admire and wish to emulate. And Bernie is a self-involved narcissist, little different from Trump, still seeking attention even though he gave the last election to Trump in an astonishing desertion of the needs of working people in our country.

    He should have slunk off to the woods of Vermont, but here he is, still waving his arms and yelling at us. I imagine that is what Somerby would sound like in person.

    1. Not only are they not heroes, but they seem by self-centered selfish bastards in the bargain. The EPA regulations which they want to see removed to allow the mine company owner's to resume polluting in their misguided belief this will bring their jobs back, will negatively impact everyone else in the country as well. They don't seem to give a damn.

    2. Bernie is simply fighting back. The boutique liberal has forgotten about value of hard work, they need to regain that to regain the respect of working people. The kick down approach simply doesn't work.

    3. "The boutique liberal has forgotten about value of hard work, ..."

      Yeah. Fuck off "boutique liberals", and fimd your own thing. Undervaluing hard work and stiffing labor is the job of business owners.

  3. Russia warship headed toward US destroyers. More evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.

    1. More evidence of Russian trolling (pun intended).

  4. Why is Somerby attacking our MVP?

    We have all been stupid in one way or another. That there is lots of other stupidity around doesn't make that Kentucky woman less stupid and it doesn't make Krugman wrong about her.

    Somerby is incredibly unclear about what he expects from people. Does he think we all need to stop calling stupidity stupid when we encounter it? If so, idiocracy is right around the corner. Stupidness needs to be challenged. It is what Somerby himself does from time to time.

    So what is the point here? Krugman didn't understand how bad Bush's proposals were, at first, but he found out when he did some research. That doesn't make him particularly stupid, in my opinion. First, he did some research and found out. What research is that woman from Kentucky doing and is she changing her mind about anything?

    Are we all stupid if we don't care much about statistics concerning something we cannot change? I would call that pragmatic.

    Things cost more in the US. Unless Somerby wants to take this a step further and try to figure out why, he is making useless noise and being less than helpful. The #1 response seems to be to blame those ratty doctors and their infernal AMA (a type of union) or to blame those ratty drug companies and their infernal lobbyists. Those are the easy answers, but are they right? Someone ought to explore THAT sometime. Will Somerby do it? No, he is just as lazy as his readers.

    He will follow his pied piper Sanders down the yellow brick road that leads to empty promises about a utopian democratic-socialist paradise in which all countries pay the same for health care. Trump himself couldn't spin a better set of promises.

    1. The figures are given in U.S. dollar Purchasing Power Parity, that's an adjustment that equalizes the cost of the same basket of goods and services in the U.S. and in the country for which a comparison is being made. @1:10 PM says, "Things cost more in the US"- wrong, not in Purchasing Power Parity dollars when it comes to a diverse basket of goods and services required for a basic standard of living. That's how we know medical care costs in the U.S. are completely out of whack.

      Doctors are gouging, big pharma is gouging, medical device and equipment companies are gouging, hospitals are gouging, insurance companies are a giant add-on expense. You can read about it in lots of places, one being Dean Baker's Rigged, a book that is available online for free [LINK].

    2. I'm not talking about exchange rates. I am talking about the fact that our culture and society operates differently than these other places, and that costs us money. You could take a look at those differences but it is easier to pick on doctors and blame "big pharma," as if we would have medications without it. What you call gouging, others call capitalism. Health care is no different than many other things that are done differently in our country, and that wind up both providing jobs that don't exist elsewhere and costing us more money.

      I know there are quite a few books of the "ain't it awful" genre, decrying how much we have to spend. They don't spend much time looking at the realities and how the system might be changed, other than making the medical profession pay so poorly no one will want to be a physician, and similar non-viable "solutions." Lots of axes being ground. Not much serious examination of where real economies might be found.

      You can adjust for inflation, but it will still cost more for people to commute in the USA, because there are no sidewalks in most areas of suburbia, because there is no rapid transit outside major cities, and because people don't like to carpool for social reasons. Europe is set up differently when it comes to commuting. Medicine has similar problems, just more complex and intransigent.

      You guys keep posting these muck-raking books without ever addressing the points I list about the differences. That's because those books don't tell you what to say about them.

    3. @1:10 PM writes:

      ...So what is the point here? Krugman didn't understand how bad Bush's proposals were, at first, but he found out when he did some research. That doesn't make him particularly stupid, in my opinion. First, he did some research and found out....

      Krugman went to Washington in 1982 and worked a year there in a non-political role for the Reagan administration. From that time until around 1999 he was oblivious throughout the period to the uniqueness of Movement Conservativism, instead of ever offering a pox on both their houses critiques believing non-technocratic Republicans and Democrats were economic ignoramuses while also adopting the collegial notion that the fellow PhDs he disagreed with were merely wrong, not agenda driven.

      When he wrote Conscience of a Liberal in 2007 he had been able to trace the rise of Movement Conservatism through the fifties, the role Barry Goldwater and his 1960 publication of Conscience of a Conservative, the 1971 Powell Memo, Nixon's Southern Strategy, Reagan's campaign launch and Reaganomics, the proliferation of think tanks sponsored by the super wealthy, the ruthlessness of the Gingrich and DeLay nineties- all of which had been pretty plain to most people on the left throughout those years. (Krugman will even admit in the '90s he had signed on to the "Social Security is growing broke" hysteria because he assumed his fellow economists who had claimed to have crunched the numbers were reporting on the state of the entirely solvent program correctly.)

    4. A medical education after earning a B.S. at a good enough school to earn admission to a medical school costs around $200,000, not counting living expenses. If you reduce physician salaries, how does anyone pay off that kind of student debt? Just as a for instance. If you respond that colleges shouldn't charge so much, you have to then reform both medicine and higher education.

    5. @7:48 PM,

      Ya got nothin' except the Maggie Thatcher/Hillary Clinton neo-liberal refrain: There is no alternative.

    6. @8:04 PM,

      Why does a medical education cost the med student so much? If it has to cost that much then maybe home grown doctors are an anachronism we can't afford, just like we were told was the case with high wage unionized manufacturing workers.

      If it's too expensive to train doctors here let pre-med students in United States show some flexibility and switch over to food and beverage service careers and let's hire from a labor pool of medical professions from abroad, who are comparably trained to the standard here and would be lined up to come to the U.S. to work for 60% of the income doctors in this country "earn." It's the neo-liberal way that you're so enamored with, right?

    7. Sanders may have a vision for his ideal system but he has no idea how to achieve concrete incremental change. It's what makes him a crappy senator. You are behaving the same way -- you won't engage the topic.

    8. 8:04,
      Who cares? I don't remember the cries of "what about the poor textile factory workers competing in a global market". Instead I heard about the bargain of getting nice dress shirts for $9.
      Why should I care about a doctors livelihood, when I can get my ACL repaired for a few hundred bucks?

    9. You can't get your ACL repaired for a few hundred bucks in the US because doctors have to pay those student loans and a bunch of similar reasons. Doctors don't work for peanuts here the way they do in countries where universities are free and med students get living stipends. And that's just for starters. How do you think rural areas staff their hospitals when no doctors live there?

    10. Pit the American doctors against those from other countries. Those in China, Thailand, Laos, etc, who wish to be doctors, can be trained to our standards, and come over here to compete for jobs (just as we pit factory workers against each other in a global market). We do the latter for $9 dress shirts, why shouldn't we do the former for $200 ACL repairs?

    11. Yes, I'm sure the Republicans will go along with inviting more immigrants.

    12. Who gives a flying >*&^ what Republicans will go along with? Don't work with Republicans. Work around them.

  5. To find what Medicare for All would cost one could start with the current cost of Medicare per person and extrpolate to younger, healthier ages. Based on my wife and me, Medicare costs an enormous amount, even though we're relatively healthy. For this reason, I suspect that Medicare for All would be expensive.

    BTW health planners should be able to compare the cost of Medicare with the cost of caring for people in the same age bracket in other countries. I'd bet that the ratio is even higher than the shocking ratios Bob presents in his post.

    1. Who cares? We can afford it. We're the richest nation in the history of mankind. Don't take my word for it. Just ask anyone who wants us to defeat ISIL.

    2. ISIL is done.

    3. "ISIL is done"

      See? And we never even talked about the cost. We should provide universal healthcare to the entire country, and do the same.

  6. Great post today Bob. Thanks.

  7. Sorry Bob. Krugman is correct.It is not his fault that people CHOOSE to be uninformed.

  8. Thousands of the people that came before me that are descendants of me who had originally been here… there were thousands of people, all down the line to where there were worms, and there were flatworms, and Chinese men who were tied to walls would show worm movies out of their ppppppp into the air in apparent disgruntlement and dismay and it would be wadded up like a little girl would wad up some tissue after she’s blown her nose into, and look in it and the horror of seeing little speckled pieces of blood in her snot, it was on that rag that she had wadded up and threw away, knowing that that was her life in there, and that her life would never be the same, because the world was divided up into four parts, there was the Maggots, the Tutor, the Fancor and the Durea, and the Durea and the Fancor were at war with the Tutor and the Farcols, who I haven’t mentioned to this point, because they were the fifth part, they were invisible and they were all-powerful, and they were beyond the worms and beyond the Chinese men tied to the wall, who would show worm movies out of their ppppppp, and who had originally been non-existent at all and they never knew how to make fireworks, or ever rifles, or even – they didn’t know anyone from Saskatchewan and they didn’t know how to dial the telephone, and they had these Volkswagen buses that they had designed like they were cathedrals of God, and they had directed all of us, all of my relatives – the worms and the Chinese men themselves, they had travelled hundreds of thousands of miles. When they came they had the sea, they went under the sea and talked to the fish, and see, when the fish travel in a line there will be a little dot near their rear ends and a string will come out and I have made a kite before and I have flown it out of the string that I got from the dots on fishes bottom ends, and I have flown it so high that I have been able to see the Etruscans, the Bolivians, the Artesians, and the Maddow.

    1. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

  9. I don't understand how a 59 yo woman in Ky cannot afford to go to a doc. Ky accepted Medicaid exp so if she is under 2x poverty, her care should be free or nearly so. What in the world did she do before Obamacare? Why would she think she would be better off without it?

    1. The story goes that the woman (and her husband) get subsidies but still pay around $3K per year for their insurance. They have a $6K deductible (no info on co-pays provided).

      She asserts that she CAN'T go to the doctor because she MIGHT need follow-up care which she won't be able to afford because of the $6K deductible. So, even though she gets free/low-cost preventative care (due to Ocare mandates), she insists that she CAN'T afford to go to the doctor even though she has insurance.

      Uh, huh. Right. Not buying it.

      Even Mr. Criticize-Everyone-Else-for-Inaccuracies/Hyperbole likes to repeat that whopper repeatedly and uncritically.

    2. Medicaid in Kentucky covers people living in a household with an income up to 138% of the poverty level. The husband and wife Oller household has a pre-tax income of $41,800.

      CareSource · CareSource Low Premium Silver
      Silver HMO Plan ID: 45636KY0040001

      [If the husband is also 59 years old.]

      Estimated monthly premium $243.25
      Total premiums for the year $2,919 [which, of course, does not count toward the deductible]

      [Without the subsidy the policy would cost the couple $932.80 monthly or $11,193.60.]

      Deductible: $6,150 per Individual
      $12,300 maximum for the Family

      Out-of-pocket maximum: $7,000 per Individual [which means a possible $850 outlay in addition to the deductible for an individual]
      $14,000 for the Family

      Copayments / Coinsurance
      Emergency room care: 15% Coinsurance after deductible
      Generic drugs: $10
      Primary doctor: $30
      Specialist doctor: $50

    3. If you are diagnosed with cancer, for example, going $7000 into debt is a small price to pay if it prolongs your life or eases your death. Debt is just about money. Life is real.

  10. "Rigged" is free? I paid good money for it! But it has many tables and graphs that present the big picture, and I can find them a lot faster in a paperback. Baker goes into great detail about healthcare expenses.

    “It’s simple-minded—but it works. On our side, we stand in line to help. For decades, almost all conservative spin has derived from two simple messages. When you get to work with such clear messaging, being a conservative pundit is the easiest job in the world:
    Big government never did anything right.
    Liberal elites think they’re better than you are.
    Almost all Republican spin derives from those two messages. The conservative movements has been actively pushing those messages at least since the time of Nixon. No matter what happens in the real world, the conservative pundit simply dreams up a response which derives from one of those notions.”

    What does it mean? It means conservatives have been able to convince millions and millions of Americans that the Federal Government, the one headquartered in Washington D.C., is not their government at all but rather an absentee landlord.

    I read Krugman regularly for his economics, but he is very bad at understanding what the common man believes.

    Are miners stupid? Is it stupid to want to carry on a family tradition, even if it’s dangerous?
    That would make many 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation military enlistees stupid.

    Are coal miners heroes? I can tell you this. There are a lot more songs praising coal miners than songs praising Ivy League economists. Their fight for wages and safety were as hard, dangerous, and-long lasting as some battles fought by our troops.

    It’s too bad we were not taught the history of the American labor movement in school. Evidently, Prof. Krugman cut those classes in favor of more econometrics.

    1. There are a lot of songs about truck drivers too. What will happen when those driverless vehicles hit the road in less than 5 years from now? Maybe some IEDs in domestic sabotage. Maybe some protests. The smart drivers are already looking at other occupations.

      Learn the lesson in Hidden Figures. The woman who saw immediately that her own job would be obsolete once they figured out how to use the new computers encouraged her staff to learning programming. This is how smart people respond to a changing world. And the world has been changing faster in the past few decades than previously.

      Education is supposed to prepare students for occupations that don't exist yet. It is supposed to inculcate flexibility and teach kids how to seize opportunity. It is what Americans have always excelled at. Extoling the virtues of sticking in the mud isn't part of our national tradition.

      Conservatism, by definition, tries to resist change. Reality is against that impulse. I feel sorry for the people who think that route will help them, but it isn't going to win in the long run.

    2. I had dinner last night with a man that trained managers in auditing and computer programs.
      I mentioned my first auditing job used the famous IBM 360. He told me he once had a women head of his computing department that was an expert on the IBM 360.
      When the company upgraded, she was unable to adapt to the new system, and he had to fire her.
      He hated doing it, but she simply couldn't operate the new system.
      Years later, another of my employers went from paper to "dumb terminals."
      Everyone was given a tutorial.
      The day after, a colleague waved me into his cubicle, and pointed to flashing letters his screen.
      "What the fuck is "user"? he asked.
      I said, "You are. You're the user."
      He said, "What the fuck do I do now?"
      I said, "Type in your name."
      He quit two weeks later


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    2. But you don't have to win over most of Trump's voters. If you talk 5%, or 3.15 million, of his 63 million voters into voting Democratic the Dem wins by 7% of the popular vote instead of by less than 3%. It's easier to win over the winnable by attracting them with policy prescriptions that will benefit them rather than by chastising them for standing with racists and telling them their problems are relatively unimportant.

    3. It would be easier to win 5% more Democrats back or out to vote for our nominee. Trump should motivate that without us having to sacrifice integrity by wooing bigots.

    4. Somerby and Limbaugh's favorite shiny squirrel: "those uppity liberals."

    5. @11:59 PM says:

      It would be easier to win 5% more Democrats back...

      Yes, that's exactly the point. You're not going to win over the died in the wool bigots or the richest of the oilmen who support Trump. What the strategy should be for Democrats is to appeal to the 5% of his voters whose core issues are economic. (And, of course, when you flip a vote it has the power of two, one Trump doesn't get, one the Democrat does. When you're talking about new voters, you got to come up with two of them to match the impact of one you have flipped.)

    6. There was virtually no difference between Hillary's economic policies and Sanders. How many Sanders voters flipped? Obviously there are some aspects of voter appeal that transcend economic policies. Those are what made Trump voters go for Trump. They are not what makes Democrats Democrats. Sanders was never a Democrat so it isn't surprising you wouldn't get that. It speaks to values.

    7. There was virtually no difference between Hillary's economic policies and Sanders.

      Just a flat out ridiculous thing to say.

    8. That's a great plan, CMike, then all you have to do is work on the millions of Clinton voters who are supremely pissed off at that nasty piece of work, Sen. Sanders (I). Like me. I am convinced he wanted Trump to win, as he started his 2020 campaign the next day, and that is going to be hard to forgive.

      I'm listening, start wooing me.

    9. Nope, CMike, you're going to have to do a better job of wooing me.

      You couldn't pick between Hillary Clinton and a mad man. That makes your judgement on a par with Matthew Dowd. Even Ron Fournier was able to choose between the two. I tried to tell you when the primary began, we were both on the same side. It looks like I was wrong.

    10. mm,

      There are about 40,000 of you Hillary dead enders. 2000 of them are are riding on the Establishment gravy train as party operatives and media people. They'll stay loyal to your lost cause only as long as they believe there's some steady income in it for them. The rest of you are people like me in that you find politics interesting and you spend too much time on the internet. Whether any or all of you ever come around is no big whoop one way or the other- there just aren't that many people, even five months later, who are at all emotionally invested in the "I'm with her" train wreck that was the 2015/2016 Hillary Clinton for president campaign.

    11. CMike,

      hahaha! "about 40,000"? what, did you take your own poll.

      You certainly are beginning to annoy me, you arrogant little prick. Don't put words in my mouth, and don't misrepresent what I said. I supported Hillary Clinton because she was the Democratic candidate in the race, just as I've done my entire life. It wasn't a difficult call. It is not my fault that you were too stupid to recognize that reality. Congratulations, you did just what Putin and his Albanian friends worked hard to get you to do.

      I am not relitigating the Democratic primary. You are the one living in the past Mr. Bernie Bro.

    12. You wannabe Robby Mooksters are a laugh a minute.

    13. Silly CMike, you think calling us Hillary supporters a name associated with Clinton is an insult -- we think it is a compliment.

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  12. How would we know whether single-payer (or other government-run system) would be cheaper than the current US system? From the fact that all other countries which have such systems have far lower per-person costs. In the face of this evidence, what is really stupid is saying or believing that socializing the US healthcare system would raise costs, which is the Republican position.

    Bob is often right about what people know or don't know, but in this case there is abundant, overwhelming evidence about what kind of system works.

    It is also worth keeping in mind the political implication - most people like Medicare, especially those who actually have it, and would favor Medicare for all. This could be a winning issue for Democrats - Obamacare not so much.

    1. Bob is right in many respects about how liberals fall in with Republican objectives when they put voters beyond the pale because of their racism and other attitudes, but then how are those voters to be won over if not with really beneficial economic programs such as a good healthcare system?

  13. I think an important question is does that extra $5,000 include before or after the insurance industry takes their cut. That middleman fee/profit has to account for a big chunk given the insurance industry CEO salaries and huge headquarters/office buildings that serve as shrines to their wealth.

  14. Bob, stop comparing our God Fearing nation to heathen and atheist places like France or Finland, or even UK or Canada. America is planned by God, it is not meant to be like any other country, and therefore should not be compared to any other country. Ask yourself: Did Jesus say anything about government run health care?

    1. And yet, Jesus (as transformed in Paul's mythology) became the source of the form the Roman and much of later Europe took as governments. This was after Constantine took the organization that Paul had created for his Church and elevated it to support his Roman government. (See Chapter 19 of Aelina O'Grady's excellent book And Man Created God.

    2. That should have been Selina O'Grady.

    3. Thanks. Looks like an excellent book.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. "In some unexplained way, $5000 per person per year is disappearing into the maws of our American health care system!" Steven Brill explained that in his book America's Bitter Pill when he explained why the Obama people adopted a version of Romney's Massachusetts "RomneyCare" instead of single payer.

    Unlike 1948, today physicians and nurses who deliver medical care are no longer the drivers of healthcare cost increases. Today healthcare costs are driven up especially by three industries - Pharmaceuticals, Medical devices (remember the Epipen?), and suppliers of medical goods. These three industries especially can raise prices with no effective competition, and the Physicians and hospitals have to buy from them in order provide modern healthcare. And each of these industries is able to lobby powerfully enough to kill any effort to achieve single payer, just as the health insurance industry with its Harry and Louise ads was able to kill the Clinton effort at healthcare reform.

    Those high cost industries accepted the ACA because there is no limitation on their prices in the (ObamaCare) healthcare system. There is effectively no regulation and no effective competition in any of those industries. If they had to negotiate with a single payer entity, they would not be the super wealthy industries they are today.

  17. "Medicare pays exorbitant prices for prescription drugs, as compared to the prices paid by people in other countries."

    The reason for this is simple. The Bush administration found that the elderly on Medicare were having severe problems paying for medications. So after Bush tried to do an executive order creating "medication clubs" and the Courts shot that down is being beyond his powers, he got Part D of Medicare passed by his tame Congress.

    Part D is administered entirely by private insurance companies and it is illegal for the federal government to attempt to negotiate drug prices. So drug prices are uncontrolled and uncontrollable - BECAUSE THE GOP WANTS IT THAT WAY!

  18. In rereading the article, I noticed the statement:"Our cluelessness about health care policy is legion. But we liberals only criticize cluelessness when it's found Over There."

    I hope my two comments above demonstrate how very true that is. Our health care system wastes a Hell of a lot of money based on faith and hope that the so-called Free Market System will somehow deliver a better level of health care than the socializes systems used in other countries.

    As far as encouraging and funding research, this is very likely (note the 'faith and hope' mentioned above) true. But that free market system as current embodied in American law is immensely expensive. As a result, the GOP wants to kick 24 million or more off of any national insurance in order to save money.

    I think we liberals find the GOP solution too deadly and inhumane.

    How do we deal with the contradiction between cost and inhumanity? Dunno.


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