Today’s must read article is a front page NYT story by David Leonhardt. It looks at the process by which boom time surpluses were turned into boom time deficits, and then even greater crash deficits.

The two economic takeaways from the piece fits into some of the nonsense I have been criticizing here: 1) President Obama budgets are “responsible for only a sliver of the deficits” (despite what GOP critics say); and 2) Team Obama has no realistic plan to deal with the deficit (despite what DEM supporters say). This is simply the reality of the past 10 years.

Note that I am not a blind defender of this administration, and was named one of the 14 most strident critics of the Obama economic policies.

My favorite part of the article was the ginormous graphic that accompanied it.

0610-web-leonhardt

Chart courtesy of NYT

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Attention partisans: Try to be aware of your own selective perception here. Very dumb comments of a partisan nature on both sides will be deleted.

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Previously:
The 14 Most Strident Critics of Obama (April 30th, 2009)

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/04/the-14-most-strident-critics-of-obama/

Source:
For U.S., a Sea of Perilous Red Ink, Years in the Making
DAVID LEONHARDT
NYT, June 9, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/10/business/economy/10leonhardt.html

Category: Bailouts, Credit, Economy, Mathematics, Politics

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

174 Responses to “How Trillion-Dollar Deficits Were Created”

  1. cvienne says:

    I’d like to see what the healthcare package add to it…

    What about Cap & Trade?

    And debt ‘service’ going forward?…The 10y is up near 4% on the yield…Perhaps if we get another leg down in the economy and a pullback in equities, that yield will come down a little over the next 6 months, but it’s hard to believe that it won’t balloon back if someone doesn’t start cutting spending…

  2. cvienne says:

    …and you might as well start factoring in yet ANOTHER $50 billion or so for GM within about 18 months…

  3. Marcus Aurelius says:

    In support of enacting the Bush tax cuts (along with Cheney’s subsequent declaration that “deficits don’t matter”), Clinton’s budget surpluses were projected to continue for the next 20 years — an absurd idea when given any level of honest scrutiny. Anyone who stated, supported or believed that projection had no business participating in the political process. Self-delusion is irresponsible, and never ends well.

  4. To quote Milton Friedman, a tax cut not offset by spending cuts is a tax increase on your children…

  5. Marcus Aurelius says:

    cvienne:

    Socially responsible programs and policies can be beneficial beyond their costs, if designed correctly and enacted to benefit the target (society) rather than specific industries. Universal healthcare has been shown to be workable in other societies, so it’s not like there are no successful models we could emulate (the hard work of experimentation has been done for us). We’d be much smarter to protect our health, education, environmental and energy interests, and to focus on the real culprits — crony capitalism and state-sponsored industry — than to rail against the basic policies and social expenses that will give us security in the long term.

  6. cvienne says:

    @Marcus Aurelius

    I love it how the “universal healthcare-ists” can’t wait to get out their pens and spreadsheets and talk about the theoretical & economic benefits of such programs…

    I lived in Italy for 12 years under a universal healthcare system…

    Trust me, it’s not ANYTHING NEAR (in practice) what people in this country are imagining…

    And to think, Italy is not a country loaded up with obese monsters who stuff their face with cheetos and soft drinks all day long…

    I’ve got a healthcare package for you if you want to do a “social engineering” project, require every American to spend two hours a day on the treadmill (or equivalent MET burn) to qualify for benefits!

  7. Bruce N Tennessee says:

    Obama has stated he’d like to institure Paygo…..ok, fine.

    Pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution, and then you have a straw man you can pummel when hard decisions have to be made.

    Apparently that is ok for states, cities, counties, families, but not for uncle Sugar…tax on our children indeed…

  8. cvienne says:

    @Marcus Aurelius

    I’m going to say another thing about UNIVERSAL this and that, and government ownership of things..

    Anyone of you who spent a decade of their lives or more living in Europe or any country with a social agenda should be able to support me on this…LB? want to chime in?

    I’ll use GM as an example…

    The next phenomenon you can expect to come down the pipe are labor strikes…It won’t happen right away, but it’s coming…

    When it becomes obvious that GM still can’t make anything that people want to buy, or that the taxpayer will have to pump more into the company yet again, the unions will effectively use strikes to keep their standards…

    It happens all the time in Europe…You practically have to plan your travel schedules around which group (railroad operators, air traffic controllers, tollbooth workers, this, that) has decided to organize a strike that day or weekend…

    It’s like a game…Sometimes, if the government has some spare cash lying around, it can make some concessions…If not, the workers basically say ‘stuff it’…we’ll just give ourselves a few days off if you’re not going to pay us or further enrich us for the tremendous service we provide for humanity…

    It’s a joke…

    Trust me, when doctors & hospitals are working under this same system as well, the quality will deteriorate…

    So Americans, if you want to keep your HEALTH, you’d better put down the doughnuts and get on the treadmill…FAST

  9. cvienne says:

    @Marcus Aurelius

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=asMZ0QW.5PSM

    London Underground Workers Strike, Shutting Subway…

    Gee – Right on cue with my last remarks…You can’t make this stuff up! :-)

  10. Moss says:

    Interesting how so called fiscal Conservatives come out from under the rocks to lambast any spending (EXCEPT DEFENSE) as irresponsible but ignore the negative, deficit inflating aspects of tax cuts. Politicians can talk themselves into anything especially when it comes to a potential surplus.

    The single biggest blunder over the last 8 years was clearly the Iraq war. Couple that with easy money, tax cuts and whala…. here we are.

  11. Paul Jones says:

    1) A 1.2 trillion dollar deficit is actually far better than I expected.

    2) Are they factoring bailing out the states so they don’t have to cut services?

    3) If you go to a faith healer for your cancer and things go horribly wrong, going to a rival faith healer to reverse the situation won’t help things.

  12. call me ahab says:

    cvienne and marcus-

    although I am more of a libertarian- I do think the end result should be universal health care- especially basic care such as check ups and routine doctor visits- I think it will be cost effective in the long run- you cannot have a country where you can make billions pushing some paper at GS and not provide basic care to the average schmo- also- the insurance companies need to go- I hate them worse than any government agency- always happy to get their premiums but looking at ways to increase their bottom line and screw you out of coverage- also-

    I saw something the other day that said 60% of personal BK’s were the result of medical bills- that is unacceptable-

    maybe by raising the beginning age for SS to 67 and by doing a means test on the $ received would free up some cash

  13. call me ahab says:

    Moss-

    “The single biggest blunder over the last 8 years was clearly the Iraq war.”

    could not agree more- the US is not about foreign wars- let’s pull that recent idea off the table- colossal waste of $ and lives- I believe war should be reserved for those times when we are attacked-

    let’s close down our bases around the world already- let’s push on to other things

  14. The Curmudgeon says:

    “What a Government spends the public pay for. There is no such thing as an uncovered deficit.”

    John Maynard Keynes.

    We’re all Keynesians now.

  15. Bruce N Tennessee says:

    @Marcus Aurelius:

    I would completely agree with cvienne. Sometimes I feel it is a wonderful thing to be in medicine, it is a wonderful job. But even though I am too young to retire, that will be my future under universal health care. It is already a bureaucratic nightmare to practice medicine under present-day government rules. When politicans tell the populace, everything will be ok…it is like telling passengers on the plane “We are going to make your flight even easier” without talking with the pilots about the weather and how they plan to fly the plane…

  16. cvienne says:

    @call me ahab

    Maybe if fat-assed lazy Americans would spit that gob of cheetos out of their mouth, put down the soft drinks, and get on a treadmill, we could ALL save a little money that way…Huh? Whada ya think?

  17. Moss says:

    @ahab,

    The SS beginning age should be linked to life expectancy. For every increase in life expectancy the start age should go up. Adjust it every two years or so.

    No doubt the insurance companies need to go. They control everything. People do need to pay a price for unhealthy life styles or healthy life styles need to be rewarded.

  18. The Curmudgeon says:

    @cvienne:

    Here’s an elegant solution to the fat-asses that the environmentalists ought love: Tax fat. No, not the fat in the foods that are eaten, but the fat residing around the gut and hips of junk food nation. Give everyone a universal health card such that health care is free, but to receive it, make them all submit to a simple height and weight examination to determine how much fat they have that should be taxed. As everyone knows, the metabolic processes of humans emit carbon dioxide as a by-product. Less fatty/smaller humans would mean less carbon dioxide. Global warming is solved!

    Call it an “ad valorem” tax on flesh. Re-evaluate once a year.

  19. Juke Jones says:

    If you do a search on treasury.gov, you will find that we never did have a true surplus. Remember, the fiscal year ends on 9/30, so use that as your baseline. Let’s look at the numbers:

    From FY1993 to FY2001, the National Debt went from
    $4.4T, $4.7T, $5T, $5.2T, $5.4T, $5.5T, $5.65T, $5.67T, $5.8T

    As you see, the National Debt went up every single year.

    The deficit in FY2000 was $18B, the closet to zero of these years. The next closest was FY98 at $113B.

    So where do charts above come from that show “surpluses” or balanced budgets? Well, if you look at the treasury.gov website, you will notice that while public debt decreased in many of these years, intergovernmental holdings all offset those decreases plus some. Net result is that we ran a deficit.

    What are intergovernmental holdings you may ask? Well, when the government borrows amongst itself. One primarily driver of this intergovernmental increase is directly related to Social Security. During the dotcom boom, “revenues” flew into the Social Security trust fund. Due to law, surpluses to social security must be used to buy government securities. Hence, the “savings account” of social security went to the “checking account” of the US government. And when one nets those together you see that those surpluses, in each of the years specified, did not exceed expenditures.

    So, before we get all giddy, we should note that we have been running a deficit for quite some time now. Deficits are caused by spending more than you take in. Citizens need to choose one of three options. (1) Continue asking for everything under the sun including higher taxes. (2) Refuse everything under the sun including higher taxes (3) Continue asking for everything under the sun including lower taxes and feel happy about the deficits which will eventually lead to foreign government’s snapping up many domestic assets in an attempt to park the shortfalls.

    Tough choices need to be made or tougher consequences will surely follow.

    JJ

  20. People love to b*tch about “Insurance Co.s”, “Auto Co.s”, “Banks”

    love to forget that they are, already, 3 of the most heavily Government Regulated sectors going..
    ~~

    past that, the whole “it’s 43′s fault, no, it’s 44′s fault!~”–type of barrel-wash– is just that..

  21. skardin96 says:

    Social engineering, right here in America…all in the name of national budget deficit? It sounds like a fairytale to me.

    Math is never this complicated, you add revenues and subtract what you don’t need until the budget is balance! What is hard to change is our political landmines. Our politicians lacks moral courage to stand up for what is right. Per JFK, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. “

  22. Moss says:

    Flat fat tax.. Body Mass Index.

    Make everything linked to that. Car Insurance, Plane tickets, Hotel rooms.

  23. Dan Duncan says:

    cvienne speaks the truth!

    As for the “who’s responsible” nonsense….

    We, as citizens are responsible. Most people, whether they lean left or right, think this runaway spending is despicable. Yet, what do we do? Point fingers saying, “Bush did it” or “Obama’s going to do more of it.”

    If you’re one of the Abysmal Pigs in our US Congress—then you love polarizing divisiveness. It’s nothing but a distraction….And you know that you can continue to be a feckless hack who legislates like a pull-string doll. While you’re jerking our chains, one of your aide’s is jerking your pull-string, and we’re left with the tedious refrain of some button-pushing bullshit on ‘roids in baseball or the all-important, omni-present debate about Gay Marriage.

    If you’re a Media Moron–then, you too, love the schism. Instead of being a journalist, you get to be an entertainer! You get to prod and provoke. Instead of important investigations, you get to get away with: “Oprah or Michelle–Who’s more Powerful?”

    Yeah, Bush did most of it. Sure, the Left hated every bit of it. And Obama’s doing more of it, and now the Right hates every bit of it….

    But most know that deep down the protestations have more to do with hating all things that “the other side” does…and that the mindless, knee-jerk arm waving makes us feel like we have some control and have contributed something. We are, after all, “Cultural Warriors”.

    It doesn’t matter if one is on the Left or the Right:

    Social Security is essentially bankrupt.
    We have a demographic crisis on our hands as the baby boomers retire.
    Our deficits are unsustainable.
    Our economy is water logged in debt.
    Our country will always be vulnerable as long as we are energy dependent.
    Many…if not most…states are on the verge of insolvency.

    Nothing is getting done.

    To say Bush did it…or Obama’s doing it…is a complete abdication of all responsibility.

    If these guys “did it”…it’s because we did nothing.

  24. willid3 says:

    cvienne Says: When it becomes obvious that GM still can’t make anything that people want to buy,

    I hate to break it to you, but the biggest seller of vehicles by far is GM. its not the Toyota, Honda or Nissan. and it certainly not BMW or Mercedes.

    and the top two vehicles sold for several months running? they were a Ford and a Chevy.
    and of the top 20 vehicles sold, about 10 of them were domestics. and thats been true for many years now.

    and for all of the hype (and its just that) about the consumer wanting small gas efficient cars, its doesn’t appear to be so. about the only one in the top 20 was the Civic, and it wasn’t at the top car sold (that would have been a Camry).

    the car makers problems (and its all of them)

    consumers stopped buying all together (the entire market tanked 40+%). and consumers bought different things than before (but not so much different).
    and the car companies can’t change that fast. its real easy (comparatively) for a finance company to change what it sells compared to the car companies. when you make some thing and it has to last for at least 5 years, and it has to meet standards, it takes a few (last time i heard they were trying to get it below 5 years) from design to production. and some times they take short cuts to get there under that time frame (reusing platforms, engines etc from existing cars. ands that been going on a long time)

  25. rjohnson says:

    While the accounting in the article looks to be largely on point, it misses the bigger question. How we got here is historically interesting, but where we go from here is of critical importance. What we need is clear leadership on how we are going to deal with our fiscal irresponsibility. Just piling on more is not a plan. Or rather it is a plan, just not one that makes sense in light of our current situation.

    This lack of a clear, understandable, coherent plan for dealing with our situation is what I find aggravates most people with whom I discuss the situation. There is a lot of blame to go around. What are we going to do about it? If the current answers you are getting from your Congressmen make you uncomfortable, then you should be very skeptical of all claims of green shoots and other such nonsense.

  26. cvienne says:

    @Moss

    “People do need to pay a price for unhealthy life styles or healthy life styles need to be rewarded.”

    Of course this is what I have been preaching…

    The PROBLEM in our country isn’t “healthcare” it’s friggin’ HEALTH for crying out loud…

    If people, starting from a young age, would adopt healthier lifestyles, this problem would cure itself within a generation…Then, the healthcare “system” would be reserved for those specific or acute cases where otherwise healthy people are struck down by illness…

    This is why I absolutely HATE the word “universal”…A UNIVERSAL plan basically suggests that all of us are susceptible to health problems by roughly the same margin…

    I argue that that is not true and if you improve overall health, you’d find that medical needs are specific and widely varied…

    But we live in a culture that:

    - Promotes candy & sugary treats on cartoon TV shows from a very young age
    - Parents who don’t have time, so prefer just to give treats to their kids to shut them up
    - Snively TALK SHOW hosts (like Donahue back in 80′s & now Oprah) who oversympathize the “poor” fatties (who they KNOW are their viewership)
    - Celebrities who are forever on the GET FAT GET SLIM rollercoaster

    People don’t you see? Doesn’t anyone realize that Americans are the “joke” of people around the world when they see a bus load of hippo waddle off the tourist bus and head straight for the ice cream stand before going to see the old ruins…

    Hell, half the Americans don’t even realize this because they themselves decide to opt for a CRUISE which is stuffed with a bunch of other large zoo animals…Of course they chose the “cruise” in the first place because it has 6 all you can eat buffet meals a day and you don’t have to walk anywhere…

    Those CLIENTS are the only “universality” in universal health care…

  27. tagyoureit says:

    Deficits appear to be bottoming according to the chart. Alas, more green shoots!

    I hope they are heavly invasive and displace the red shoots.

    http://www.invasive.org/index.cfm

  28. cvienne says:

    @rjohnson

    I’d argue that we’re not getting off topic…

    Many points here deal with the issues BEHIND big spending plans:

    - Such as billions going to GM
    - or billions (trillions?) proposed to go to healthcare

    One can argue all they want about things spent 20-30 years ago (and how wasteful they were, or what benefits they may have accrued)…

    It is already clear that nobody seems to have learned a thing as it appears that whenever a NEW idea is proposed, there always seems to be $$ ready willing and able to spend (or borrow) for it…and efforts in justification for doing so…

  29. willid3 says:

    cvienne

  30. Bruce N Tennessee says:

    Curmudgeon:

    I have 15 partners, none of which are obese. I run, myself, 10-12 miles every week. Two of my partners have run marathons. (Not for me). My resting heart rate is, and has been all my adult life, 52-53. If I gain weight, I take it off.

    There would be an enormous, truly enormous, savings if the country wasn’t obese and didn’t smoke.

  31. franklin411 says:

    @Marcus + Ahab
    Great comments, and I agree wholeheartedly. On the numbers, we have the world’s worst health care system. We pay the most and get the least, having one of the civilized world’s highest infant mortality rates. I don’t know how anyone can justify the idea that people should have to choose between paying their mortgage and…um….not dying from a medical condition that they cannot afford to treat.

    Anyway, it’s undeniable that health care is a tremendous comparative disadvantage for American companies trying to compete in the global market.

    @Barry
    Excellent graphic. I’m going to save it for my lecture on Reagan’s Thirty Years’ War against American prosperity.

  32. willid3 says:

    cvienne not sure that all health care problems are related to life habits. some are going to happen irrespective of how you live. some are from your relatives, and you have no chance of over coming them. ever.

    some will happen (accidents will still happen).

    but i can see a good thing if we could get people to live better, but i doubt any body is going to vote for raising taxes on sugar related products, or other fat generator products, or higher (much much higher rates) on tobacco and alcohol.

    and give credits for doing things like gym memberships and athletic equipment.

    and the BMI only works if you happen to fit the ‘normal’ body type. care to guess if you do or not?

  33. Moss says:

    @cvienne.

    Very true what u say.
    The thing is, the whole model is about treatment. Drugs for this aliment or that.
    It needs to be flipped so that it is about prevention.
    That is NOT in the best interests of any of the incumbent players. Insurance, drugs, devise makers, you name it. The dumbing down and pandering only adds to the inertia.

  34. call me ahab says:

    cvienne-

    all into healthy lifestyles- do believe that many people bring on their own problems- however- do believe that basic care should be covered for those who are ill- we can’t all be super studs like myself

    hoffer-

    man- i hear you Re insurance- but I still hate ‘em- the whole idea of insurance just bugs me in general

  35. franklin411 says:

    @Bruce:
    You’re a doctor, right? How do you explain the fact that the US, which is the only advanced country that does not offer its citizens health care as a basic right, also has the civilized world’s highest rate of infant mortality?

    Are all those newborns brought into the world with a Big Mac and a Marlboro in their hands?

    Infant mortality is the standard on which health care systems are judged, because newborns haven’t had a chance to eat too much, drink too much, or smoke too much. And our system is the world’s worst.

    http://www.indexmundi.com/map/?v=29&l=en

  36. [...] Get Busy in Mill Valley [SF Gate]· The Best Modern Steel Houses in California? [Eichler Network]· How Trillion-Dollar Deficits were Created [The Big Picture]· Bay Area names top stimulus priorities [SF Business Times] · Bay Area Economic [...]

  37. ben22 says:

    Sorry to be OT but:

    Taleb is giving a nice interview on CNBC right now. Pointing out many of the issues a lot of us have been discussing here regarding debt/credit deflation.

    Also, the few times lately that Huffington has been on CNBC, I thought she has done a great job.

    On this thread, isn’t it amazing that as bad as this recession has been it’s still, according to the graph, not as big a cost as the Bush policies, at least not yet.

    the Bush policies seem the ultimate indicator of a debt culture at what could end up being the very peak levels of credit creation for many many years to come. Most of this country was spending money they didn’t have, and so was the president.

  38. Bruce N Tennessee says:

    Franklin411:

    Much of the risk to the newborn concerns the health of the mother, age of the mother, birth weight, prematurity…that sort of thing. Some segments of our society have children too early, don’t take care of themselves during pregnancy, and so forth. If the mother is very young, obese, diabetic, smokes, hypertensive, etc. these things put the baby at risk.

    Do a little research…your comments are always too superficial…

  39. Transor Z says:

    Mark! Great to see you back.

    An important distinction between private insurance and universal is the role of preventive medicine. Under a universal/single payer model, primary care doctors receive incentive payments for lower average weight/blood pressure/smoking rates among existing patients.

    Also, improved efficiencies such as reducing business office staffing in hospitals and practices — and eliminating middle-man profit taking by insurance companies — will save trillions net to the GDP.

  40. The Curmudgeon says:

    @BnT:

    Even in the Tennessee heat? I cut back to about 5-7 mi. during these days. I’ve run one marathon, about a half-dozen half-marathons (all in Birmingham, all in February–nice).

    Obesity is killing us, never mind the smoking. And it is one of the major drivers of health care expense. From Type II diabetes, to kidney, heart and digestive diseases, to bad joints, etc., obesity and the lack of exercise that comes with it, is a prescription for out of control health care spending. Of course, practicing medicine, you see that reality every day. But that’s why a universal health system could actually save money if we taxed fat to pay for it–at punitive rates. Imagine the savings to an individual that loses the weight: Fewer $4.00 Quarter Pounders AND a lower tax bill.

  41. willid3 says:

    a more interesting point made here http://www.slate.com/id/2220137/?from=rss
    today 77 percent of employers over health insurance, but only 62 percent can afford it (or take, maybe covered on spouses insurance. but considering how employers are making that an expensive option as they raise the cost of covering dependents much higher than the employer)

    how long before they stop offering it altogether? after all, in a globalized world, they are competing with other countries where the companies don’t have that expense.

  42. Entrepreneur says:

    BR – here’s some actual data on total Federal revenues, including income tax revenues, from a very useful website (http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com):

    Year FED-R INCTAX
    2000 2025.46 1211.75 — Bush II takes over, last Clinton budget, Dot.com bust
    2001 1991.43 1145.41 — 9/11, recession, Bush tax cuts I (phased in slowly over 5 years)
    2002 1853.40 1006.39 — recession, bust aftermath
    2003 1782.53 925.48 — Bush tax cuts II (changed to ‘effective immediately’)
    2004 1880.28 998.33 — recovery
    2005 2153.86 1205.50 — recovery
    2006 2407.25 1397.83 — recovery
    2007 2568.24 1533.71 — recovery ends, onset of credit bust
    2008 2524.33 1450.10 — credit bust, recession

    This is even more compelling in chart form, but I can’t figure out how to attach a picture to a comment.

    Here are some takeaways…

    * As advertised by some, total government revenues and income tax revenues both increased post tax-cut, esp. post the 2003 cut that phased in immediately;
    * By the end of 2005, both total and inc. tax revenues were accruing faster than 2000 — even with the lower rates;
    * 2006-7-8 saw gov’t revenues (including inc. tax revenues) higher than the last Clinton budget.

    Partisans on both sides will undoubtedly cherry-pick data to support their own cause. However, that data once again supports the idea that lower tax rates lead to (or at least do not prevent) higher revenues. If you work at the ‘bottom’ of the economy creating new businesses and jobs, that only stands to reason. Lower taxes means capital is more available, you get to keep more of what you earn, etc. Continually higher taxes (at all levels) ultimately lead to throwing one’s hands up and asking, “what’s the point”?

    We have a spending problem in the country, not a revenue problem. Those who rely on ‘static’ assessment of the Federal budget miss the true picture. Higher taxes reduce activity. Lower taxes increase activity. Even though the net impact of those realities is hard to predict with precision, the reality remains.

    We can’t afford military imperialism, whether one thinks it’s a good idea or not. Same for unlimited entitlement. If we can’t keep the budget in balance during a period of increasing revenues (regardless of tax rates), then we have an obvious spending problem.

  43. call me ahab says:

    I guess I just don’t think health insurance is an employer issue- why is that the case? Larger pools of people banding together for insurance would be cheaper- no? For instance- Virginia- where I live- what if all Virginians banded together to make one ultra large insurance pool- should be cheaper right? Then- as in car insurance- you have to verify you are covered under a policy or pay into an uninsured fund-

    what think we?

  44. The Curmudgeon says:

    @411: there is a racial demographic to your statistics. White Americans have roughly the same infant mortality as Western Europeans. Blacks and Hispanics, particularly new immigrants, are what skews the numbers.

  45. cvienne says:

    @willid3, ahab, moss, franklin

    If you read into what I’m saying, I am in favor of some sort of basic system (which exists to cover the inevitability of things that happen outside of the things that are brought about by poor lifestyle habits)…

    But let me be clear:

    1. I don’t consider ANYTHING in this world a “right” (except freedom).
    2. Everything else, besides freedom, is a priviledge (and should be expected to toil for, not granted)
    3. I believe that BEFORE we move into the realm of trying to establish the priviledge of providing a system for something like universal healthcare, then at least some synthetic “barrier of entry” point should be established with respect to individuals needing to take responsibility for personal decisions.

    For example (Re: #3 above). A person who fails a drug test is not permitted to work certain jobs. So people should be required to pass certain “health screens” of basic physical fitness in the same way…

    If that notion sounds ABSURD to anyone, understand that it sounds EQUALLY ABSURD to me that thousands of fit and healthy Americans who make good choices should have to dig into their pocket and pay for chain smoking, cheeto eating, sofa sitting, slobs who do nothing all day but sit & watch TV while collecting their benefits package while the GM assembly line is shut down over the summer…

  46. franklin411 says:

    @Barry
    http://dying.about.com/od/causes/tp/infantdeath.htm

    @TC
    Sorry, but that’s simply not true. The infant mortality rate for white Americans is 5.7, still much higher than the rest of the world.

    http://www.kff.org/minorityhealth/upload/7633-02.pdf

  47. Bruce N Tennessee says:

    Curmudgeon:

    I would much rather run in the heat than in the cold. Besides, East Tennessee doesn’t know what heat is…up this high the climate is wonderful.

  48. cvienne says:

    @BR

    Note:

    I’m happy this thread “How Trillion-Dollar Deficits Were Created” has morphed into a discussion on universal healthcare…two points:

    1. It’s NOT off topic (because it refers to the NEXT trillion in deficits)
    2. Since there are so many viewpoints flying around here, and since the issue is on “the Hill” at the moment and will be debated all summer, perhaps it could continue to be a TBP topic…Let’s get to the bottom of this!

  49. cvienne,

    nice points, especially, in regard to Diet, which, Surprise!, Surprise!~, like our current Health Insurance schema can be traced back to the Tax Code.

    LSS: Ag Subsidies/Income Tax avoidance for Corpos/”High-Income” earners..
    ~~

    Transor ~!~

  50. willid3 says:

    cvienne, i like the idea of a basic health care policy that every one has to have, and if you want more coverage. and for those who can’t pass that basic health standard,they can buy additional coverage from the friendly insurance company.
    if they want special services (much like today, if you pay for express medical service (its not cheap by the way) you can get it).

    oddly enough, there is a country that already does this. care to guess who?

  51. leftback says:

    Here at Schadenfreude we admit to the occasional error in portfoilio management, but this seems to represent a new low in misallocation of capital:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090610/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_million_dollar_mattress

  52. karen says:

    Why can’t those in Congress be as intelligent as many of the posters at TBP (myself excluded)? If only they yielded corruption for common sense, this nation would be better off.

    Universal Healthcare would be abused just as many other social programs are.. welfare, worker’s compensation.. I agree, and quality of care and facilities would lessen. It’s not the answer, nor was essentially nationalizing the banking and auto industries. It all seems part of the USA’s metamorphosis toward the USSA, with a lazy, spoiled, uneducated populace at its foundation. All in all, I’m fascinated with the arguments here.

  53. Bruce N Tennessee says:

    Franklin:

    READ

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infant_mortality

    Moron…

  54. ezrasfund says:

    On health insurance the macro view says it all…

    We spend about twice as much per person on health care as other developed nations, and our measures of health are generally much worse than our peers, infant mortality being just one of them.

    We are the only nation on earth where health care is tied to employment. This is due to a historical “accident” during WWII. There was a wage freeze in effect so employers thought to add benefits to attract workers, and health insurance was one of them.

    A good illustration of the unintended consequences of government regulation, but how long will we have to live with this nightmare?

  55. hopeImwrong says:

    f411 says – “we have the world’s worst health care system. ”

    Give me a break.

  56. Bruce N Tennessee says:

    Franklin:

    Why do you always make such loud, superficial, ignorant declarations?

    Crusty old farts like me don’t get it…

    Did your parents have any normal children?

  57. cvienne says:

    @karen

    The most ironic thing my love is to consider that no matter what we do, in the end we’re sure to end up in the same place…

    Consider:

    Plan 1 – We all start living healthier, and make that as a STANDARD before tossing money down a universal healthcare blackhole …

    Plan 2 – We set no pre-standards or pre-conditions and toss the money down the black hole…As result, 20-30 years from now we’re all broke, and have not even the money to pay for BASIC healthcare…Then, the only way to live is to be extra attentive to our personal health and we live accordingly or DIE…

    Same outcome either way…

  58. willid3 says:

    well hopimwrong it depends on how you want to judge it. if you want to judge it based on some thing like it how performs and how much it costs. we do. we don’t lead in how much we pay for it. we don’t lead on the results either

  59. call me ahab says:

    Karen Says-

    “It all seems part of the USA’s metamorphosis toward the USSA, with a lazy, spoiled, uneducated populace at its foundation.”

    don’t sugar coat it- tell us how you really feel

  60. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    @cvienne:

    “Maybe if fat-assed lazy Americans would spit that gob of cheetos out of their mouth, put down the soft drinks, and get on a treadmill, we could ALL save a little money that way…Huh? Whada ya think?”

    I think it’s a red herring you are presenting here with verve. If everyone lived as healthy as it gets it still wouldn’t solve the problem that there isn’t an _universal_ access to a high quality health care system in United States. Unless you think, everyone who lives healthy doesn’t need such an access anymore. Well, then I hope you have put your money where your mouth is and you don’t have any health insurance. Your treadmill should be sufficient.

    and before:

    “Anyone of you who spent a decade of their lives or more living in Europe or any country with a social agenda should be able to support me on this”

    I had lived in Europe in such a country for more than three decades. I am not with you. And I do not wish to be referred to as anonymous supporter of your point of view.

    rc

  61. Bruce N Tennessee says:

    While the United States reports every case of infant mortality, it has been suggested that some other developed countries do not. A 2006 article in U.S. News & World Report claims that “First, it’s shaky ground to compare U.S. infant mortality with reports from other countries. The United States counts all births as live if they show any sign of life, regardless of prematurity or size. This includes what many other countries report as stillbirths. In Austria and Germany, fetal weight must be at least 500 grams (1 pound) to count as a live birth; in other parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, the fetus must be at least 30 centimeters (12 inches) long. In Belgium and France, births at less than 26 weeks of pregnancy are registered as lifeless.[4] And some countries don’t reliably register babies who die within the first 24 hours of birth. Thus, the United States is sure to report higher infant mortality rates. For this very reason, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which collects the European numbers, warns of head-to-head comparisons by country.”[5] However, all of the countries named adopted the WHO definition in the late 1980s or early 1990s.[6]

    Franklin, you apparently never let a little thing like facts get in the way of a good opinion….

  62. Mannwich says:

    @cvienne (and others): But do we penalize those (like myself, who has Crohn’s diseases) for having bad genetics or some condition through no fault of their own? I work out every day, eat fairly healthily, don’t smoke, maybe have 1-2 drinks/week. Is it right that I likely can’t get coverage without bankrupting myself and my family outside of a company plan? That basically makes either myself or my wife slaves to some company who will cover our health insurance bene’s. How is that a good idea? Many are chained to jobs/companies they hate or don’t like very much for this very reason when they could be doing other far more productive things with their lives that will benefit them, their families, community and country.

  63. cvienne says:

    @Franklin411

    To tie up my own perspective on HC…

    Although I’ve been against most of Obama’s spending proposals so far, if he could use his popularity and influence to incentivize Americans to achieve better HEALTH standards in their own lives (and attempt to create a benchmark for that in terms of qualifying for healthcare), then I’d be 100% behind him…

    From a “perception” standpoint, he’s tall and lean, plays basketball, and seems to be pretty fit (and he and his wife obviously make an attractive couple)…Only problem might be his “smoking” history (but if he can successfully kick that – he’d have another positive going for him)…

    I sure wish he’d realize the power of using those types of images before tackling healthcare ratehr than pushing a pencil around and trying to intellectualize the debate…

  64. ezrasfund says:

    Another government policy with unintended consequences…

    Farm subsidies that help create the cheap junk food so many eat. (See Michael Pollan et al.)

    Yes, we are incredibly obese nation, but this is not the root cause of our health care problems. (Europeans smoke more, for example).

  65. cvienne says:

    @Manny

    If you read more closely what I’m saying, I’M NOT AGAINST A HEALTHCARE PACKAGE…Wes always hates it when I use CAPS, but there, I have to use them to underscore my point…

    I’m simply saying that before blindly rushing into the establishment of a healthcare system, let’s try and cut down the inevitable costs that things like “obesity” in our culture will surely add to the pricetag…

    Why can’t ONCE, just ONE the politicians in this country sit down and understand what is REALLY costing us and make an effort to mitigate that before they start writing checks?

    I mean, 8 years ago it was like “Let’s go to war” (don’t worry we’ll pay for it)…

    now it’s “Let’s have universal healthcare” (don’t worry we’ll pay for it)…

  66. call me ahab says:

    mannwich Says-

    “Many are chained to jobs/companies they hate or don’t like very much for this very reason when they could be doing other far more productive things with their lives that will benefit them, their families, community and country.”

    great point- I agree whole heartedly- that is where I see the biggest benefit- freeing people up to do what they have a passion for- makes for a happy and more productive populace- health care should not be thought of as something provided by your employer-

    ridiculous if you think about it

  67. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    @Mannwich:

    “But do we penalize those (like myself, who has Crohn’s diseases) for having bad genetics or some condition through no fault of their own?”

    In this case you are unfit material and don’t serve any purpose.

    “I work out every day, eat fairly healthily, don’t smoke, maybe have 1-2 drinks/week. Is it right that I likely can’t get coverage without bankrupting myself and my family outside of a company plan? That basically makes either myself or my wife slaves to some company who will cover our health insurance bene’s. How is that a good idea?”

    It’s not about your benefit. It’s about the companies benefit. We all are just little wheels in a big machine. In this way you are getting reminded of this better.

    “Many are chained to jobs/companies they hate or don’t like very much for this very reason when they could be doing other far more productive things with their lives that will benefit them, their families, community and country.”

    You have got your priorities wrong. First comes the company and your country. You and your family exist and work for those, not for your own benefit and creativity. You must be a commie thinking otherwise.

    All the best to you.

    rc

  68. Mannwich says:

    @cvienne: I agree with you 1,000% on that. In fact, my brothers-in-law and I have been trying to develop a business that focuses on that very thing – establishing/maintaining healthy habits, particularly a regular fitness routine through the help of motivation/competition through/with groups.

    I too am worried that O and Congress will come up with a “solution” that in the end doesn’t work well or at all. That’s the problem in this country. There’s no longer any WILL to get big things done RIGHT. Powerful special interests always get in the way.

  69. leftback says:

    I am with rootless (above) on this issue – it’s not a question of whether health care is national or universal or not, let’s face it, there are systems like this in Scandinavia that work just fine. Instead, it is a question of how the health care is actually delivered and how much corruption is involved. Unfortunately the BRA (Banana Republic of America) is one of the world leaders in corruption, as well as health care. The HMOs are cesspools of corruption.

  70. Mannwich says:

    @leftback: Fraud & Corruption ARE the U.S. economy, or least a big part of it. Sorry, but that’s how I see it.

    The Gravy Train Economy rolls onward.

  71. karen says:

    rootless, you are being ruthless! twisting words i dare say, lol… as for myself, my money is where my mouth is on health insurance; that is not to say i don’t advocate some sort of national catastrophic, genetic disease, or child healthcare plan.. in california, btw, the emergency room doesn’t turn away an uninsured (health or auto), illegal alien that is bleeding to death..

  72. cvienne says:

    @Manny

    Thay have it ASS BACKWARDS…

    That want to CAP & TRADE energy…

    They “need” to CAP & TRADE health!

  73. Mannwich says:

    @cvienne: Health research shows that people DO respond to the right incentives to get more fit, however, I’m sure that would be gamed by some enterprising individuals like everything else is these days.

    Another item that’s related – food subsidies. We’re subsidizing the WRONG (unhealthy) kinds of foods to make unhealthiest foods the cheapest. If we’re going to subsidize anything, it should be healthy fruits and vegetables to make those foods cheaper.

  74. cvienne says:

    @LB

    The “population” of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, & Finland is about the same as the population of the Southern California Metropolitan Area…

    Further, most of the population of those countries are VERY ACTIVE (sports loving) people who who also have lived mostly within their means all their lives…

    Sure their healthcare system is a success…wonder why?

  75. Transor Z says:

    The question is straightforward: would a single-payer universal coverage plan cost less and yield better measurable population health results from the macro perspective?

    It is disingenuous/deeply flawed (I’ll be nice to maintain civil debate) to say national metrics should back out non-whites because they adversely skew the data. Hate to break it to ya, but do I really need to remind folks how the demographics are a’ changin’ in the US? Moreover, obviously race correlates with socioeconomics, so let’s have a nice clean fight here, shall we?

  76. Mannwich says:

    @cvienne: I would imagine that’s where a homogeneous population helps. Similar culture and interests. Easier to get everyone on the same page and have the WILL to get things done for the collective, the country.

    In the U.S., it’s every man, woman, child, and special interest group for themselves.

  77. cvienne says:

    @Manny,

    You don’t even need to subsizide healthy food…Most of what is healthy you can grow on your back porch, or in your yard if you’re fortunate to have one…

    I’m sure karen doesn’t waste oil and gas driving her SUV to Harris Teeter to buy arugula…

    I’m sure someone smart as she just whips out a pair of scissors and cuts it from her (or her neighbor’s yard)…

    I have more rosemary, oregano, lavendar, basil, marjoram, sage, thyme than I can count right outside my door…The entire neighboorhood just comes and goes as they please and takes as much as they want!

    I’m proud of that!

  78. Mannwich says:

    @cvienne: But let’s be practical here – most people aren’t going to grow their own food whether you want them to or not. We can’t idealize every situation and hope everyone lives like you or I do. It’s not going to happen.

  79. Its_Science says:

    Trillion dollar deficits come from the power we give politicians to spend other people’s money. The basic struggle is for constituents to urge/bribe their elected officials to grab as much as possible for them while contributing as little as possible. This naturally leads to borrowing and spending.

    Also, comparing contributions to deficits is a little disingenuous. Remember that deficits are the yearly rate at which we add to the national debt. I’m certainly not a fan of Republicans on this issue, but even if Obama has contributed relatively little to the ongoing deficits, it still means that he is accelerating our debt over time. Put another way, under Obama, the 2nd derivative of debt with respect to time is positive. Even if he manages to merely reduce the deficit, we will still be adding to our debt, although this would at least be a step in the right direction.

    Also, if anyone missed it above, I recommend Juke Jones’s comment. Remember, it’s the debt that matters.

  80. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    @cvienne:

    “I’m simply saying that before blindly rushing into the establishment of a healthcare system, let’s try and cut down the inevitable costs that things like “obesity” in our culture will surely add to the pricetag…”

    It’s still a red herring, since the unhealthy lifestyle of many Americans and universal access to a healthcare system are two different problems. Even if it were possible to make the first fully go away the second one would still persist. But I suspect your whole ranting is really more about the pricetag and yourself. You don’t like the idea so much that your tax money is used for the healthcare of others. That is ok, but then you shouldn’t use so often “we” and “us” and talk less about “the nation” (as I said before I myself don’t care about the welfare of “the nation”).

    rc

  81. Bruce N Tennessee says:

    Rootless:

    cvienne has a point though, and you are wrong to dismiss it out of hand.

    Obesity is the dog that bites the physician in health care. Diabetes…often equals obesity. Especially adult onset type II. Knee replacements…obese patients much more often than normal weighted folks…secondary to the valgus stress put on the knee…problems healing post-op?…chances are good that the surgery was on an obese patient…hypertension, shorter life spans, etc…obesity may well be our number one killer..

    I would love to see the actuarial data on how different the costs are between one who is 30% overweight and one who is ideal body weight..I don’t mean the difference in medical problem incidence, I mean costs….

  82. theorajones says:

    I’m completely befuddled by the people who are screaming that healthcare reform will increase the deficit. Right now, the biggest political challenge to passing healthcare reform is that we ARE paying for it! There’s a mix of proposed revenues and cuts to existing spending. The President and every single committee working on this has said it will be “budget neutral.” That means it doesn’t increase the deficit or debt.

    In fact, if you added up all the proposals on “how to pay for this,” that have come out of the Presidential budget and the 5 committees of jurisdiction, you’d notice that they add up to MORE than the anticipated cost of reform under any scenario. This is fundamentally different than the approach Bush took when he did the Medicare drug benefit, where he found NOTHING to pay for it, and he didn’t even take on the interests to try and get the cost down. He just whipped out the credit card. Right now in Congress, everyone is fighting about which of the suggested options will be in the final package to offset the costs, because the fact is we have proposed more money to pay for this than we actually need.

    This is accounting 101. Things that are paid for don’t increase the deficit. You’re all supposed to be financial types–do you really not understand this concept? If so, I understand why the markets failed.

    If you think healthcare reform is bad so we shouldn’t do it, that’s a valid opinion. But I’m sorry, you can’t argue that it’s bad because it will increase the deficit. Because that’s lying.

    And while it’s fair to ding Obama for not fixing the deficit problem, it’s ridiculous to suggest it’s his fault. It’s not. The handful of things he’s deficit spent on are ridiculously defensible. Deficit spending in the face of a deflationary recession is EXACTLY what a government is supposed to do when fiscal policy is tapped out. All the economists who say “the great depression would never happen again because we’d never let it” say that because they believe a government would deficit spend to prevent a recession.

    And beating Obama up over auto bailouts is fine from an ideological perspective, but from a pure short-term-finances-of-the-US-government standpoint, the feds would have spent more money NOT bailing these guys out because the cost of taking care of the municipal failures, unemployed, and uninsured that came as a result of Chrysler’s failure. Not to mention, those costs are all downside, while the Chrysler/GM venture has a small chance of paying off and a large chance of having those losses mitigated somewhat.

    The bad deficits we have are, I’m sorry, the Bush deficits. It was reckless to cut taxes for the highest earners again and again. It was reckless to finance a major health expansion without paying for it. It was reckless to commit our nation to a war we didn’t need to fight. It was reckless to ignore the financial sector and to allow the housing bubble to be stoked. It was reckless to cut back investment in infrastructure. It was reckless to allow massive growth of military spending.

    It’s fair to ding Obama for not fixing the Reagan/Bush/Bush deficits. But it’s simply not honest to suggest his spending priorities are part of the problem.

  83. Transor Z says:

    Obesity is also related to employment. A few years ago physicians at rehabilitation hospitals began to notice that average male hand-grip strength in the US had dramatically declined over time. The data was routinely collected over the years as part of patient tests to evaluate therapy results. When someone thought to compile the data into a longitudinal study it revealed a decline in average hand strength over time. The researchers attributed that to increasingly sedentary occupations and decline in manual labor.

  84. Mannwich says:

    @Bruce: Why can’t we tackle that issue AS WELL though? It’s not either/or. That’s merely a distraction, a red herring to divert us from really FIXING all of these separate (but related) problems, as rootless points out.

    Look, I’m not advocating for “socialized medicine” or anything resembling it. I’m advocating something that’s sensible and a system that works (how novel!). Are we no longer creative enough as a nation to figure this out? It’s obvious the current system no longer works, so let’s fix it already. The problem isn’t that we’re not smart or creative enough. It’s that special interests who like the system the way it is always get in the way at the public’s expense. It’s like almost every other seemingly intractable problem in this country. You name it and special interests are always there to keep things the way they are, or some variation of it. Is that the U.S. you want to live in?

  85. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    @karen:

    “rootless, you are being ruthless! twisting words i dare say, lol…”

    I rather would say I distilled the essence.

    “… in california, btw, the emergency room doesn’t turn away an uninsured (health or auto), illegal alien that is bleeding to death..”

    However, although I don’t know about California, have you ever been to an emergency room in NYC, particularly in low income neighborhoods? Emergency room access for everyone is not the same as access to high quality healthcare for everyone. I even doubt that relying on an emergency room system, which comes into play, e.g. when an illness has progressed a lot already, comes cheaper at the end than a system in which everyone has access to regular prophylaxis and maintenance. But I don’t know any model calculations about this right now. Maybe it comes cheaper, since the part of the population who needs to rely solely on emergency rooms is in part useless for capital accumulation, so when they die sooner on average, it’s only good, or if they have been useful and they are used up and die off they can easily be replaced using new cheap labor that has immigrated to US.

    rc

  86. Mannwich says:

    @rootless: I think you should change your handle to “ruthless cosmopolitan”.

  87. Bruce N Tennessee says:

    Manny:

    I agree with this. Something will change. Physicians who still practice won’t like it (most baby boomers who can will retire) and people used to private care won’t like it. But health care is too expensive for most, and needs to be more affordable. I am right with you on that.

    I heard something on NPR this weekend and the talking head said he thought the reason nothing had changed thus far was that the people who HAD good insurance realized they’d get lesser care (and they will to some extent) and it was the haves of health insurance not wishing to sacrifice for the good of the community…he probably had a point..

  88. Mannwich says:

    @rand55: Easy with the spam.

  89. Moss says:

    Just look at the ‘research’ done on High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Many independent studies say this is a big factor in obesity since it is used as a sweeter in many many products. The soda dudes say their studies show that it is not much of a factor when compared with other alternatives.

    Now HFCS is incredibly cheap and widely used as a sweetener. Ingrained if u will in the production process.

    Does anyone really doubt that this crap is bad for you and should not be used?

  90. cvienne says:

    @Bruce in Tn

    I’m thankful that you are providing input from the “medical” side that OBESITY is really the thing behind many of the health issues that plague our society and “run-up” costs (vis-a-vis Type II diabetes, knee replacements, etc.)…

    I also failed to mention the fact that we are a “pill based” society…In other words, when you detect the slightest problem or pain, find a PILL for it…

    By profession, I have been a fitness instructor all my life…That’s how I squrreled away my money after 25 years of being in that profession…I still teach group exercise (now more as a hobby), and I invest my savings as a living…

    In any case…in my business it is easy to see all along the difference between healthy people and unhealthy people…It’s not just in their bodyfat…I see many who are radiantly healthy but don’t even mind keeping on an extra 10 pounds or so because they like to ENJOY life and ENJOY eating…That’s WONDERFUL, because to me, it is yet another sign of good health (that they are MENTALLY healthy as well – and not some person who is going to cause themselves to have a nervous breakdown because they are a fitness “addict”)…

    Anyway, Bruce…You know and I know what the SOURCE is for largest problem that faces us…In my profession, I NEED TO HEAR doctors like you to continue to provide a scientific medical foundation for the benefits of exercise…

  91. Mannwich says:

    @Bruce: Agreed. I do think that people need to take more ownership of their health (as much as they have control over) and that any solution should include some incentives to achieve that, as well as significant co-pays to disincentivize people from overusing the system.

    Our neighbor is a nurse practitioner who says that their flow of patients is WAY down because some of their regulars who come in all the time for everything under the sun because it was free or as close to free as possible, no longer come in because they’ve lost coverage and it’s too now too expensive. We know that anything is free or priced too low is overused, so pricing and out of pocket paid by patients needs to structured correctly for it to work.

    I have to believe that if we have whole armies of smart people structuring all of these financial products that could make themselves rich in the process (but almost bring us all down), that we can entice some of these same people to come up with a health care system that actually works for most people in this country. Or maybe they won’t make enough money off of it, so they don’t really care?

  92. Thor says:

    CVienne says:

    “If that notion sounds ABSURD to anyone, understand that it sounds EQUALLY ABSURD to me that thousands of fit and healthy Americans who make good choices should have to dig into their pocket and pay for. . . .

    I would argue that thousands of people like myself in their mid 30′s shouldn’t have to pay for the health care of people who are old and infirm, or born with a genetic condition. I would also argue that people without children shouldn’t have to pay taxes to educate the children of others.

    Sounds silly I know, and I’m not arguing that most Americans should live a healthier life, but where do you draw the line on what’s good for society as a whole? What I haven’t seen mentioned in any posts so far is that we’re already paying for this. A large part of the run up in health costs is due to the fact that when people without insurance get very ill they end up in the emergency room. They have no insurance to pay for their urgent care so that cost gets passed down to us.

  93. Mannwich says:

    @Thor: Which means we’re already subsidizing uber-rich companies like Wal Mart or others who don’t provide adequate (or any) health insurance coverage to their employees. It’s just hidden and hard to quantify, so we act like it’s not there.

  94. karen says:

    cvienne, i know a number of female fitness instructors through my involvement in Pilates.. but last night, i took a spin class from my first MALE instructor. I won’t go into his, ah, physique; I will tell you his voice was magical.. and I had been so dreading this class, so scared I took a back row (and brought my 22 year old with me so I wouldn’t die alone. : ) He got us out there and back, so that I was actually exhilarated upon recovery.

  95. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    @Bruce N Tennessee:

    I don’t say obesity and unhealthy lifestyle isn’t a problem for many Americans. I say, instead, ranting about the lifestyle of many Americans and that they should get on a treadmill is a red herring when used as an argument to dismiss the idea of universal healthcare.

    Additionally, I also don’t like that the lifestyle and obesity problem is being presented here as a problem solely due to individual attitude. As if there weren’t any correlation between the relative abundance of this problem and income, social status in society as well as education. People who are poor eat less quality food on average. Healthy food is much more expensive. More than 20% of the population in NYC have an income less than the poverty line. You won’t find them in a whole foods store. They also won’t buy a treadmill or join a gym.

    I also think what question is considered to be important and what answers are give will depend on from what perspective is this being discussed. Is it being discussed from the perspective of the individual’s benefit or from the perspective of the benefit for capital accumulation in society? The answers can differ a lot. From the latter perspective I can offer some really dystopian views, to which I already have given some hints in my previous comments.

    rc

  96. cvienne says:

    @Moss

    Moss had the best idea yet…FLAT FAT TAX…

    I’m all for healthcare as long as the cost of it is handled on a “weighted” basis (pun intended)…

    Let’s do a CAP & TRADE for “fat” instead of energy…

    A benchmark is established…

    - If you’re OVER the benchmark, you have to pay more, or, have to acquire credits
    - You can “purchase” credits from those under the benchmark (who are issued credits)
    - At the beginning, if you’re OVER the limit, you’re given a 2 (or so) year grace period to bring yourself to within the standards…

    I’m painting this with EXTREMELY broad strokes here, but you get the idea…

  97. Bruce N Tennessee says:

    There was a study published in, I think, Lancet early this year about a comparison study of runners and non-runners in England…studied for 20 or more years…

    Take home message….?

    Runners got all the arthritis and joint maladies that non-runnners got….hypertension, etc.

    BUTTTTT…they averaged 15 years later in life getting the same problems…!!!!!!

  98. Thor says:

    Rootless – well said!

    I have an interesting perspective on this issue in that I work for a fitness/wellness company (P90X) and my partner is an inpatient pharmacist for a large hospital. To say that the run up in health care costs is due solely to “fat lazy Americans” is indeed a red herring. Yes, being overweight does cause many many health issues but so does being born with a genetic condition, getting hit by a car, or the fact that our society is living longer. There are many many factors involved here.

  99. willid3 says:

    well Thor I guess you don’t like insurance, since basically its a way to spread the cost of some thing (in this case health care). the only difference between it and government is that their a profit motive involved, and one is public and one is private.
    well if we want Americans to live healthier, then tax those products that contribute to a less healthier live style.

  100. Mannwich says:

    @willid3: Excuse me, but the insurance industry is a corrupt cesspool that only ADDS to the cost of health care. They are part of the problem. Of course, they like things the way they are because they’re getting rich at our expense (just like the banks on Wall Street).