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I apoligize for quoting Greg Saunders's blog post in its entirety, but if you aren't reading the This Modern World blog, you really need to subscribe. You'll thank me.

This article is EXACTLY how I feel:

Just now on CNN, Jack Cafferty is reading responses to the question of whether “government insurance” should cover abortion and brings up this doozy courtesy of “Jan from Illinois” :
“No. I am the government. I am the taxpayer. I don’t want anything to do with abortion; this makes me part of it and I refuse to be part of it.”
Welcome to democracy, Jan. You got your pointless war in the Middle East, now we get universal(-ish) healthcare…if we’re lucky.

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Two points.

First... we don't live in a democracy, Tom, and you of all people should know that. We live in a Constitutional Republic. So, it's not a simple matter of "50.1% of the people agree, so you're screwed, sorry!", there's other overarching principles that come into play despite what the voters might want. (For example, 80% of the country might want the KKK silenced but the First Amendment says "no way").

Second... if the Democrats are going to use the "pointless war in the middle east" argument, isn't it JUST as wrong for them to get their universal healthcare? Or is this just proof-positive to those folks who've always said the DNC and GOP are two sides of the same vicious coin - each of them concerned NOT with the people, but with "getting what's due them", and each of them willing to disregard guiding principles of the country in favor of their own agenda...

I didn't say it is right. I said that's how I "feel". i.e. my gut reaction.

It would be a great bumpersticker: "You got your pointless war in the Middle East, now we get universal healthcare". More of a statement about "I didn't volunteer and fight like hell to get this guy elected[1] to have him NOT get his agenda through!" than anything else.

[1] Not that others didn't do a lot more work than me.

But sometimes that's what happens, right? Just because a person gets elected to the leader of the Executive Branch doesn't mean that they always get their agenda through the Legislative, or that down the road the Judicial Branch doesn't tell both the other branches that they were on crack and throw that "agenda" right out the window.

And what would be said to the people who voted for Obama NOT because they supported his agenda, but only because "his agenda sucked less than the other guy's agenda, and the two-party system ensured that other, better, agendas wouldn't even get a seat at the table?"

Sure, all of that is true. Democracy is an imperfect thing.

I'm taking bumperstickers here. Not PhD in political science.

I have to admit that I'm having a very hard time with the idea that the Iraq war and an attempt to reform the healthcare system in this country are equally agendas "concerned NOT with the people, but with 'getting what's due them'". Really? A politician who already has a perfectly good government-provided healthcare plan and who makes a salary higher than most people in the country, and therefore can afford the things that healthcare plan may not cover, is going all in to get healthcare reformed because he's "concerned NOT with the people"? And, really, decent healthcare being made available to all citizens is "equally wrong" to fighting a war in the middle east under false pretenses, and thus causing the deaths and injuries of thousands of people, and counting?

Alrighty then.

IMHO, those politicians going that route are in favor of "big government", a government that can do everything better than anyone else can. It's practically been the DNC party line for generations. So, yeah, I think they're oblivious to the fact that - historically - everything the government meddles in gets completely screwed up beyond all recognition, and are instead more interested in proving that "this term, THEY'VE got the big stick to swing around" and show those GOP fools who's boss by passing an agenda, regardless of the fact that there's no earthly way it can be afforded, nor will ever actually "save money" by any stretch of the imagination.

Given that your earlier comparison was to the Iraq war, and further given that it was under Republican leadership that a large budget surplus was turned into more than a trillion dollar deficit, largely due to said Iraq war, I fail to see how you can label this a "DNC" trait with a straight face. When the Republicans were the ones with the big stick to swing around, they managed to whack it on a whole lot of things. I saw no sign of restraint or small government or fiscal responsibility out of the lot of them.

And if you honestly think that the government can't do a better job with healthcare than the private sector can, you obviously haven't read ANY of the numbers comparing the costs of overhead between the private insurance companies and Medicare. Clearly the "free market" hasn't been doing a great job of sorting this out on its own.

There is much, much more to healthcare reform than simply turning it over to the government, which as far as I've read isn't a plan that most people are proposing. (Though I for one see great merits in a government-run, single-payer system, especially compared to how things are now.) If ALL that gets accomplished is legislation is passed that regulates the private companies into no longer baiting and switching on the people who pay for their coverage and then don't get covered, that would be a step in the right direction. (I've been struggling for over 6 months now to get a very standard, routine medical cost covered by my insurance. Rather than covering it, as my policy says they should, they've been spending MORE money on overhead costs to try to get it declined. Yeah, that's a great system.)

And when it comes to healthcare, having so many people who can't afford decent healthcare, and who are forced to use ERs as primary care medical facilities, is a problem we can't afford NOT to fix. And I haven't heard a single person argue otherwise who wasn't wealthy enough to afford decent healthcare coverage. This has become another issue of blind privilege. So easy to imagine there is no problem to solve when you are privileged enough to be above the problem. That must be nice for you.

Whoa whoa whoa... the ORIGINAL "comparison to the Iraq War" was written by Tom and the site Tom quoted. I simply pointed out that if the left was going to tout "how wrong it was for the right to shove the Iraq war down everyone's throat just because they had a majority", isn't it equally wrong to shove healthcare down everyone's throat just because the LEFT now has a majority?

As for the "free market" ... there IS NO free market in healthcare, gov't regulations have seen to that. It's next to impossible, because of the maze of healthcare regulations, for anyone who wanted to compete - who wasn't looking to make a profit - in that space. (ie., if a true non-profit wanted to start working on insuring folks who needed it, providing their form of sensible coverage).

The left was shouting about how wrong the Iraq war was for far more reasons than "they're shoving it down our throats because they have a majority". And as I said before, I do not see an equivalence of wrongness between a war that kills people for reasons later proven to be falsified, and an attempt to make sure people in the richest country in the world don't die for lack of decent healthcare. They are not equal ideas. And for those who feel they are, and that healthcare reform is being "shoved down their throat", frankly I hope they choke on it, regardless of party affiliation.

Heh, and THIS is why -- even though I agree with the Democrats on SO. MANY. THINGS. will never count myself among their ranks.

Their arrogance that "they know what's best for you, so shut the hell up and let the government do everything!" is revolting.

I don't think government should do everything. (I wish they'd stay the hell out of the decisions I make about my body or the decisions about who should get married. More wonderful Republican ideas.) I'm not even sure that the current healthcare reform should be passed. I want to know more about it. And I hope a great deal of thought is put into it so that whatever money we DO spend on it isn't wasted on paying off the corporate sponsors of the congressmen who draft it, but instead goes to actually taking care of the problems.

But I do know that I have no patience for anyone who equates the idea of healthcare reform to the war in Iraq, and who continue to claim the DNC had some monopoly on wasteful spending. And I'm frankly sick of hearing, "We need to slow down and not spend money until we figure out how we're going to pay for it," almost ENTIRELY from those who rallied behind the Iraq war without such caution. The debate on healthcare reform has been filled with hypocrisy, and intentionally twisting and distorting of the facts (Obamacare and its comparison to Nazism and its plan to kill old people), and I'm sick of it.

But you do think they should get involved in my right to protect myself with a handgun, or choose what weapon I use when I go out hunting with (even if I'm not hurting anyone else in the process). And you DO believe in the idea that people who make more money than others should be penalized for their success by having a higher tax-rate.

And I *never* rallied behind the Iraq war. (You can feel free to read back-entries on my blog about it if you like ... blog.megacity.org ). I've always stood behind the fact that the gov't should not be in the business of wealth-redistribution, or telling me what I can and can't do, except where that activity DIRECTLY HARMS someone else.

And the DNC is just as willing and eager to trample on peoples' rights as the GOP is, it just chooses different rights to trample on.

So far, today alone, the government's done a bang-up job of making sure I have breathable air, potable drinking water, edible food, clean and green parks, roads that are structurally sound and not awash with colliding cars, a system of currency, several systems of measurement, medications that do what their labels say they will do, and an Internet on which to have this discussion. To say nothing of the protections against fire, foreign invasion, and criminal activity for which I have been fortunate not to have an acute need today.

This "historical fact" of yours needs some work.

I don't know if the government can do a better job of providing health care than "anyone," but they can scarcely do a worse job of it than the clowns and scam artists who are claiming to do it now.

I don't think I'd hold up the "roads" as being the pinnacle of government success. Depending on which report you listen to, from either the left or the right, our highway infrastructure is in absolutely horrible shape, requiring billions upon billions of dollars to bring up to snuff.

As for systems of currency... yep, the government is doing a great job of that as well. I hear California's new "IOU" form of currency is a *HUGE* hit out there. People LOVE it.

Police do not provide protection against criminal activity. The Supreme Court has even ruled so. The police exist *solely*, from a legal perspective, to arrest people after they commit a crime, not to provide any sort of preventative protection.

The majority of the country is "protected" from fire by volunteer fire companies who often have to raise money to pay for their own equipment because the gov't can't see fit to do it for them. And, where the gov't DOES have a hand in fire protection, they often underfund the departments, skimping on safety, underpaying their firefighter employees, and generally making their lives miserable. As someone who has firefighters in my family, I've seen this first-hand. So, please, let's not evangelize the role of government in fire protection.

In the few cases where you dispute my examples of effective an government effort[1], the points of failure you yourself identify for critique stem directly from a failure to make the solution big (read "funded") enough. Your suggestion that Democrats are to blame for that state of affairs is beneath contempt.

This "historical fact" of yours just isn't holding up.

[1] Excepting the police, where your qualm regards what their mission is, not how well the accomplish it.

Didn't realize you wanted me to keep attacking you point by point.... OK. :-)

"Systems of Measurement" -- you mean the system of measurement that is still largely based on "how long the King's foot is"? Note that it was scientists who developed the Metric system (that system which our government refuses to implement, even though the rest of the world has), not a government entity. The only "government created" measurement system in place is the one that nobody but us and Myanmar use.

"Internet" -- hate to break it to you, but Al Gore did NOT invent the internet. All of the really good groundbreaking things which make the internet what it is were in the private sector, not the public sector.

"Edible Food" -- If the gov't is doing such an awesome job on this front, why is my wife scared to eat anything made with peanut butter any more? You HAVE seen the number of reports about widespread-national-food-recalls, right? Yeah, those gov't inspectors are doing an awesome job making sure that stuff doesn't get into the food supply! I feel safer already.

"Medications" -- It's important to note that the FDA drug approval process (the part you're giving them kudos for here) is widely considered to be the place the FDA does the worst possible job. Or that the ridiculously complicated process the FDA makes companies job through is part of why medications are so expensive? Other countries seem to have less restrictive government agencies involved, without widespread failures and such.

"Foreign Invasion" -- This I'll concede. The one thing the American government is good at is bringing force to bear on other folks. Although it's just as true that the Second Amendment gives other countries pause about invading our shores, knowing that every civilian they encounter may be able to make serious efforts at repelling them.

So let's see... what's left in your list? clean air and water? Amusing since those are the two things that the government wants to solve "for good" by using capitalism to solve the problem, with a cap and trade system.

How's that "historical fact" holding up now? Or are your fingers planted firmly in your ears while you say "I can't hear you, government intervention is awesome!" over and over again?

"Systems of Measurement" -- The claim isn’t that the government established the original Archaic and metric systems, but ensures that everyone who claims to sell by the foot (pound, meter, acre, etc.) are all using the same value for each of those. I do note, however, your complaint that there hasn’t been a big government program to regulate the free market by eliminating the Archaic system in favor of the Metric.

Internet -- Correct, the Internet began its existence under that name when the networks of the NSF, DoD, DOE, and NASA were linked together. All Al Gore did was sponsor the legislation that helped fund NCSA, permitting them to write Mosaic. If by “good groundbreaking things which make the internet what it is” you mean the Web, hate to break it to you but it was invented by a contractor as part of work he was doing for a physics lab funded by the governments that operate it. If by that phrase you mean this web site or that, none of them would have been able to get off the ground without all that government work. If you meant something else, you’ll have to be specific.

Edible Food -- Your wife’s fears arise from the same source that led to the poor job the government did handling Katrina: government programs managed by people who think the government can’t do anything right and therefore shouldn’t do anything. When the FDA was bigger, it worked better. You do recall who shunk it and under what philosophy they did so, right?

Medications -- Your approval of the governmental programs of other governments in medical regulation is noted. Unless you’ve got a government to point to in which drug approval is completely privatized, you’re still making my point for me. As an aside, do you really believe drugs are expensive in the US because of the approval process? I ask because if drug prices were cost-driven rather than market-driven drug companies wouldn’t have to beg the government to regulate “free markets” by banning the import of drugs from countries where they’re less expensive than here.

How's that "historical fact" holding up now

Let’s just say that you’d better be hoping for a single-payer system if you’re on the hook for its life support costs.

"Systems of Measurement" -- Quite the opposite. I'd like the government to STOP mandating gas taxes in "per gallon" prices, and stop measuring fuel efficiency in "miles per gallon", or speed limits in miles per hour. Companies are global these days, if they have the opportunity to get themselves "synced" to one system of measurement world-wide, they'll do it. They only stick to the antiquated English measurements because those are basically the official measurements of the USA.

"Edible Food" -- Quite the opposite. I'm forced to note that *even higher* standards than the FDA are achieved every day without a single taxpayer dollar being involved. Where? Kosher foods. A private group wants to set their own standards for consumers, and they manage to get buy in from both producers and consumers (who are willing to pay a little more for the mark of quality that Kosher provides). Who needs the FDA when private organizations could mimic that infrastructure easily enough?

"Medications" -- my approval of "smaller, less intrusive government intervention" is noted? Excellent. I'm glad we agree. Get the government out of the medical regulation industry. :-)

"Internet" -- without private capitalist involvement, the "internet" would have just been a funky little computer experiment, and you'd be hard-pressed to deny that.

"Systems of measurement" - You don't think that the reason Archaic measurements are the official measurements of the USA is that enough of the public wants it that way to make changing it a losing proposition for any politican trying to make it their issue? I'm old enough to recall when there was a push to convert to metric -- a whole lot of people expressly rejected it either because they wanted to avoid learning something new or because their national pride prevented them from adopting something they perceived as "foreign." I'm afraid that if you want the US to go metric, the only way to get there is a governmental mandate.

"Edible Food" - Kosher foods achieve the standards they do because they have both specific market drivers to achieve those standards and a captive market that is precluded from going to someone offering an inferior product for a lower price. Given that those underlying systems are effectively the remnants of ancient Israeli big government programs, it's a particularly poor example on that count as well. If higher standards than the FDA's are so trivial to produce by private organizations, why aren't they?

"Medications" -- Your approval of smaller, less intrusive government intervention constitutes concession of the assertion "everything the government meddles in gets completely screwed up beyond all recognition" With that settled, all we're debating is what level of government intervention is best for a particular problem. Now, if you really want to put "Get the government out of the medical regulation industry" on the table, I'm still waiting to hear which country takes that approach and comes up with a health care standard you're happy with.

"Internet" -- Private capital investment came because governmental programs developed a system that could support their endeavours, and it came well after the Internet passed the "funky little computer experiment" stage. You cannot seriously assert that the development of the Internet was not a government action, nor that it was wildly successful.

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