Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Arguing a Point

There are so many touchy issues in politics today. Gay marriage, abortion, national health care, etc etc etc...

These are the types of issues that really hit a chord in people, who then tend to forget how persuasion works. They try to appeal to people's emotions, use slippery slope arguments (if this happens, then this will happen, then this, and then we're wearing government issued coveralls in the United States of Communism.) I know that people have strong opinions, and it can be tempting to exaggerate and make pretty ridiculous analogies, because a lot of the time, those sorts of arguments can seem to work. However, wouldn't we rather have a nation of people who want to see both sides of the issue? People who can listen to an argument and decide for themselves what they believe? Shouldn't we encourage open discussion from both sides? I like the website,

http://www.balancedpolitics.org/index.htm

I think it's a great place to learn about BOTH sides of the story on lots of hot topics. Sometimes the arguments get heated, but at least you're reading both sides of an issue and you can pick what you believe. The following video is an example of something that DOES NOT provide all the information you need to make an informed choice...or any information really. I don't even want to post it, but it's an example of what I'm talking about in terms of biased arguments, so I will.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqMKK8AoLCw&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fallaboutalls.blogspot.com%2F&feature=player_embedded

I am not a political expert and I'm not so sure where I stand on health care, and this isn't really even supposed to be a blog about health care, it's meant to be a blog about how to argue a point without infuriating the very people you're trying to convince. Do they think anyone who disagrees with National Health Care is going to convinced by that video?

The following is an example argument for both sides of health care from the
http://www.balancedpolitics.org/index.htm website. It got really long, so I just included the first two arguments for each side.


Overview/Background

It's no secret that health care costs are spiraling out of control in this country. On average, we now spend more per person on health care than both food and housing. Insurance premiums are multiplying much faster than inflation, which prevents economic growth and leaves businesses with less money to give raises or hire more workers. While the quality and availability of medical care in the United States remains among the best in the world, many wonder whether we'd be better off adopting a universal government-controlled health care system like the one used in Canada.


Yes


1. The number of uninsured citizens has grown to over 40 million. Since health care premiums continue to grow at several times the rate of inflation, many businesses are simply choosing to not offer a health plan, or if they do, to pass on more of the cost to employees. Employees facing higher costs themselves are often choosing to go without health coverage. No health insurance doesn't necessarily mean no health care since there are many clinics and services that are free to indigent individuals. However, any costs not covered by insurance must be absorbed by all the rest of us, which means even higher premiums.

2. Health care has become increasingly unaffordable for businesses and individuals. Businesses and individuals that choose to keep their health plans still must pay a much higher amount. Remember, businesses only have a certain amount of money they can spend on labor. If they must spend more on health insurance premiums, they will have less money to spend on raises, new hires, investment, and so on. Individuals who must pay more for premiums have less money to spend on rent, food, and consumer goods; in other words, less money is pumped back into the economy. Thus, health care prevents the country from making a robust economic recovery. A simpler government-controlled system that reduces costs would go a long way in helping that recovery.



No

1. There isn't a single government agency or division that runs efficiently; do we really want an organization that developed the U.S. Tax Code handling something as complex as health care? Quick, try to think of one government office that runs efficiently. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The Department of Transportation? Social Security Administration? Department of Education? There isn't a single government office that squeezes efficiency out of every dollar the way the private sector can. We've all heard stories of government waste such as million-dollar cow flatulence studies or the Pentagon's 14 billion dollar Bradley design project that resulted in a transport vehicle which when struck by a mortar produced a gas that killed every man inside. How about the U.S. income tax system? When originally implemented, it collected 1 percent from the highest income citizens. Look at it today. A few years back to government published a "Tax Simplification Guide", and the guide itself was over 1,000 pages long! This is what happens when politicians mess with something that should be simple. Think about the Department of Motor Vehicles. This isn't rocket science--they have to keep track of licenses and basic database information for state residents. However, the costs to support the department are enormous, and when was the last time you went to the DMV and didn't have to stand in line? If it can't handle things this simple, how can we expect the government to handle all the complex nuances of the medical system? If any private business failed year after year to achieve its objectives and satisfy its customers, it would go out of business or be passed up by competitors.

2. "Free" health care isn't really free since we must pay for it with taxes; expenses for health care would have to be paid for with higher taxes or spending cuts in other areas such as defense, education, etc. There's an entitlement mentality in this country that believes the government should give us a number of benefits such as "free" health care. But the government must pay for this somehow. What good would it do to wipe out a few hundred dollars of monthly health insurance premiums if our taxes go up by that much or more? If we have to cut AIDS research or education spending, is it worth it?

15 comments:

Tricia and Michael said...

My main problem is that is if we have a universal healthcare who will govern it? Obviously the government will be the entity to manage this healthcare. As your post stated what government agency has ever run efficient? Your post stated, "There isn't a single government office that squeezes efficiency out of every dollar the way the private sector can."

That being said I don't think the current healthcare system we have is perfect as well. We do need to make changes to accommodate those who "want" healthcare and can't afford it.

As for the video you stated, yea it maybe a little overboard with the "Daddy I'm hungry" comments. But I think it does explain how government agencies run and how inefficient they can be.

Bottom line is, I feel that less government is better in our lives. Obviously with a universal healthcare system it would only increase the size of our government.

Another big problem I have with Universal Healthcare proposal is that this program is being rushed through congress. Why is it that when we are going to spend trillions of dollars, the least we can ask our representatives is to actually read the bill before they vote on it. Also the fact that congress and the Obama administration will not allow the public to read and realize what is all include in this bill. I believe the main reason why we are not being allowed to read this bill is because the majority of Americans are opposed to this bill based on recent polling. And if given the time to read and realize what is actually in this bill, they would receive quite a bit of criticism from their constituencies.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

When I first started watching the YouTube video, I thought it was a joke. I thought they were trying to show the absurdity of... Holy Cow! They are serious?! Ugh.

I agree 100% that people need to try to listen to both sides. Sadly, it's just not programmed into most people apparently. Most people just want to beat the same drum beat that they've been dancing to for their whole lives. I have a horrible suspicion that the majority of people cannot name a single big issue on which they have changed their opinions. That's a bad sign in my book.

I think health care is a great example of this problem. I support Universal Health Care, but I also recognize that their are arguments against it, a number of valid ones. But sadly, I rarely hear these arguments. I only hear the nonsensical ones (like those espoused by the creators of the video). The beauty of the health care issue though is that we've got an easy fallback argument. Look at the rest of the world: UK, Canada, France, Sweden, Japan. They all love their health care systems, and they have better health than we do. To rebuttal the video, why would our system be like this if none of the others are?

Sara Allsop said...

Tricia and Michael, I appreciate your thoughts. You obviously know what you're talking about. I don't know where I stand exactly on this topic, no surprise that I'm leaning towards Universal Health Care, but I really don't know. Also I want to make sure I'm not plagiarizing and that you know that I didn't write the Yes and No facts at the bottom of the blog, I copied those from the website. Also, I ope you're enjoying your Texas summer. I saw my breath the other day at 2 in the afternoon while wearing a warm jacket in the MIDDLE OF JULY!

Also, remember, this blog was not mean to be about who is right and who is wrong, but more, the right way to argue and the right way to persuade the other side!!

Tricia and Michael said...

Sara, I'll let you take a guess of whom it was Trish or Michael who wrote the reply? Your right it was Trish!!! Okay you got me it was me, Michael! As for that quote I know it wasn't yours and saw and ready everything from that website you provided. By the way I really like that website quite a bit. I did not mean to sound like I was preaching at all with my response by the way. I was just expressing my opinion and opening the forum for a little debate!

I guess that is also why I commented how frustrated I am with the current administration trying to push this bill through so quick with out looking at all the other options and our congressmen not even reading the actual bill before voting. I read a report today that some experts are predicting that this proposed bill will cost double to what congress is expecting the total cost will be. I'm completely open to hearing other options to see how we can improve our healthcare system. That being said I don't think that we need to follow the rest of the world when it comes to healthcare. There are many problems with their current healthcare system. Canada for one has a number of individuals coming to America for surgery because they can not get the surgery quick enough. I found this article to be quite informative. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/381077/canadianstyle_health_care_coming_to.html

Also the fact that people through out the world have better health can not be soley attributed to their healthcare system. It is a fact that many Americans are overweight and live unhealth lifestyles. Our generation is a generation of fast food and video games.

My hope is that we can find some way to offer healthcare to all individuals in America who "want" healthcare without the government getting involved.

Anyways what is new with you these days? I haven't heard from you in quite some time. I assume you are going to go out to Utah this December for Eric's wedding? Talk to you later.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

A couple quick comments:

1. Americans spend more per capita than any other industrialized nation on health-care. Last I checked, we spend around $4k on health-care per person, per year. The UK pays around $2k. Sure, they pay more in taxes, but they don't end up paying insurance premiums.

2. With regards to people coming to the United States for treatment, that should not be a surprise. It is not indicative of America having better care or more efficiency. It's an example of how, if you have enough money, you can buy your way to the front of the line. I personally do not believe that a big bank account is what should entitle a person to good coverage.

Sara Allsop said...

I like the back and forth.

:)

-Sara

Tricia and Michael said...

A couple quick comments:

1. It is true that the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other industrialized nation. That being said, "the U.S. is the leader in medical innovation, with three times higher per-capita spending than Europe and producing more new pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and affiliated biotechnology than any other country. The U.S. also has higher survival rates than most other countries for certain conditions, such as some less common cancers..." (according to Wikipedia, I know anyone can publish anything on Wikipedia but the sources look very credible.) We do pay more in healthcare but look at the benefits received by paying more. If we are to go to a Universal Healthcare program we can expect a large decrease in these advances from the lack of funding.

It is true that the amount Americans are spending on healthcare is projected to increase as well. According to Wikipedia again, "Growth in spending is projected to average 6.7% annually over the period 2007 through 2017. Health insurance costs are rising faster than wages or inflation, and medical causes were cited by about half of bankruptcy filers in the United States in 2001.[26]" I for one can not afford for these prices to increase as well. So I am open for change, it is the form of change that concerns me.

2. You can not say that people with money are the only ones coming to the U.S. for surgery. There are a number of documented stories of individuals who mortgage everything they have to have their surgery performed in the U.S because they can not get in time. One example, (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/07/06/canadian.health.care.system/) The mere fact that Canadians are coming to the U.S. for surgery should be a red flag that something is not working with their Universal Healthcare program.

It comes down to time, cost, and quality. What are we willing to sacrifice to get the coverage we desire?

Like I've said I'm not opposed to new healthcare reform just to the government taking control of it.

A couple of options i've heard that I would be more interested in learning about is making adjustments to tort laws. Doctors are too afraid of being sued that they perform additional tests to verify that they have checked everything else to cover themselves from being sued. This obviously increases everyones doctor bills and subsquently insurance bills and premiums. If we made adjustments to tort laws and eliminate all riduclous lawsuits and prevent doctors from getting sued from friolous lawsuits, doctors wouldn't have to charge extra to cover themselves from lawsuits. Don't get me wrong tort laws are there to protect you and me and I am in no way saying we should eliminate these laws. I just think that some changes need to be made to avoid all the these useless lawsuits in an effort to decrease all this useless testing from doctors. This by no means will solve the healthcare problem but is one option to decreasing the cost of healthcare.

Another option I've heard of and would like to hear more disscussion is offering free healthcare to everyone who doesn't have it and wants healthcare for a specified time and be encouraged to find their own healthcare by a certain deadline.

Another option would be to offer tax rebates to insurance companies for providing insurance to individuals who can afford it.

I'm obviously not a healthcare/insurance expert, otherwise I would ask myself, why am I working as a Facility Manager? I will leave that to the experts to debate and discuss over. I'm just someone who has an opinion that our government is not an effective way of distributing healthcare to everyone and I think that there would be many problems and wasting of money if they did take it over.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

"the U.S. is the leader in medical innovation, with three times higher per-capita spending than Europe and producing more new pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and affiliated biotechnology than any other country."

An interesting fact is that advances in drugs and technology are not nearly as crucial as one would think. We could wipe out breast cancer with our current level of technology if we could simply get people to go in for mammograms. Technology is good, but is not nearly as important as regular check-ups and good care. That is what socialized medicine countries seem to do better than Americans. We have all the expensive gizmos, but they aren't enough. If we have to abandon technology for better health-care, I'm fine with that. Because, ultimately, the goal is good health not cool new drugs.

"The U.S. also has higher survival rates than most other countries for certain conditions..."

Yes, for certain conditions. That's too be expected. I would not be surprised if you could find "certain conditions" which have higher survival rates for almost every single country. Unless you can show that this is widely true, then it doesn't end up saying much.

One counter example is infant mortality. America has about 6.3% mortality, whereas countries like Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Japan have half that, at about 3%. All of those countries have socialized medicine.

"You can not say that people with money are the only ones coming to the U.S. for surgery."

My argument still stands. The woman in your article had to mortgage her house and gather money from her friends. Although she wasn't rich, she acquired the money. The US system is designed such that you can buy your way to the front of the line if you can get the money. The woman, though not rich, was apparently able to pull together the money. And she did so.

It's quite reasonable to assume that this woman jumping in line pushed someone else (with lesser means) further back in the line in the US. Did she deserve the treatment more than these other people that she jumped in front of? Maybe, maybe not. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. All that matters in America is whether or not you have the cash. That is what disappoints me.

For an example, consider my brother. He needed a hip replacement. He lives here in the United States and has insurance. He scheduled his replacement in January. The earliest they could get him in was May. Sure, if he had had the cash, he could have pushed his way to the front of the line. In fact, that's probably why he had to wait so long. It's not unlikely that others paid to put themselves ahead of my brother.

Is that fair? Many would say yes. And if we were talking about waiting in line at Disneyland, I would also say yes. But we are not talking about a theme park. We are talking about people's lives and well-being.

I should note that I don't want to come off as a starry-eyed idealist with regards to socialized medicine. There are things to be concerned and careful about. I agree with your previous comments about taking our time and being careful. It can be very hard to undo hasty decisions. That is one reason I like Obama's plan. I feel like it provides a stepping stone towards the ideal: universal coverage. But it doesn't get rid of the insurance companies yet. It's a good bridge to move in the right direction.

Tricia and Michael said...

I agree with your statement that the "ultimate goal is good health not cool new drugs." My question is why can't we have both? If you look over the history of medical innovations the fact is this innovation has lead to millions of lives being saved, ex. penicillin, x-rays, antiseptics, medical equipment (cat scans, artificial hearts, and more), and list goes on and on. And what's not to assume that if we continue researching we can't find a cure to AIDS, various medicines that can cure people of disease, and many other problems we face in this world.

You are correct that many other countries have a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S. I wonder how much of that is associated to individual’s lifestyle (women who drink/smoke, take drugs illegal and legal, genetics, etc.) as opposed to the actual healthcare system. All the countries you mentioned have healthier lifestyles than Americans. I do not doubt the survey, I would be curious to learn more about how that study was performed. Also any woman who is pregnant and is about to give birth can go to any emergency room and receive the proper treatment she needs without being refused treatment.

You made a comment about how money puts individuals in the front of the line for a needed surgery. What if we did have a socialized healthcare system and some congressmen needed a surgery and he had to wait three months before he could receive this surgery. Are you saying that he would wait three months; I highly doubt that he would, we would be placed at the front of the line because of his position and he has money. Obviously this a hypothetical scenario but the point shows that even in these countries with socialized healthcare the powerful and rich are able to skirt around and receive the treatment they need. I definitely do not agree that this is right but it is unfortunate in this world that money can buy you whatever you want even at the misfortune of others. Also you mentioned your brother's hip replacement, I wonder how much longer he would have to wait with a Universal Healthcare program? Six months? Nine months? A year?

But you are correct we do need to start taking care of our basic health but why does it have to solely rely on the government?

I have not seen a government entity run efficiently in my life. I know this may be a bit long but I think what it states what my feelings are perfectly.

"Quick, try to think of one government office that runs efficiently. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The Department of Transportation? Social Security Administration? Department of Education? There isn't a single government office that squeezes efficiency out of every dollar the way the private sector can. We've all heard stories of government waste such as million-dollar cow flatulence studies or the Pentagon's 14 billion dollar Bradley design project that resulted in a transport vehicle which when struck by a mortar produced a gas that killed every man inside. How about the U.S. income tax system? When originally implemented, it collected 1 percent from the highest income citizens. Look at it today. A few years back to government published a "Tax Simplification Guide", and the guide itself was over 1,000 pages long! This is what happens when politicians mess with something that should be simple. Think about the Department of Motor Vehicles. This isn't rocket science--they have to keep track of licenses and basic database information for state residents. However, the costs to support the department are enormous, and when was the last time you went to the DMV and didn't have to stand in line? If it can't handle things this simple, how can we expect the government to handle all the complex nuances of the medical system? If any private business failed year after year to achieve its objectives and satisfy its customers, it would go out of business or be passed up by competitors."
(http://www.balancedpolitics.org/universal_health_care.htm)

Tricia and Michael said...

You have stated that you like Obama's plan. I have a number of problems not only with the plan but with how they are approaching to pass this bill. I have a problem that we have to pass it ASAP. (Just a few questions for you.)
Why don't we slow down and look at all the options, currently Obama wants this passed by August? Why are they trying to pass this plan when the majority of Americans oppose this bill? (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/healthcare/july_2009/53_now_oppose_congressional_health_care_reform)

Does it bother you that Congress does not read this bill before voting on it as they did with the stimulus bill? Why does the government always have to step in and take it over? Why can't we have the same success in the private sector, with incentives from the government to reach the end goal? (Example of incentivizing insurance companies is to offer insurance to the uninsured and the government in turn will offer tax rebates based upon how many and the type of coverage they are given? I'm sure there are a number of "what ifs" with this scenario but it shows how we can at least try and find different options.)

I just do not believe that this plan is in the best interest of all Americans. I feel that we need to find other options and see what other ways to solve the final goal of improved healthcare for all and not just for those who can afford it.

Tricia and Michael said...

I just found this and I thought this was great.

The 15-Point Solution to the Health Care Crisis

http://www.balancedpolitics.org/editorial-solution_to_health_care_crisis.htm

Tricia and Michael said...

Come on Viper! Where are you? I'm start to enjoy this friendly debate!

Michael Paul Bailey said...

Let's see. That's a lot of ground to cover. I'll try to hit as much as possible.

I wonder how much of that is associated to individual’s lifestyle...

I honestly believe that there is a correlation between better lifestyle and universal health-care. One should ask themselves why it is that Americans have such a worse lifestyle than all of these other countries. Obviously, correlation does not imply causation, but I think there are a number of possible connections. The modus operandi of many insurance companies is for you to get as little care as possible and then deny you coverage on the big things. So, preventative care often falls by the wayside. Some insurance companies are starting to get better at preventative care, but it has been a while.

Countries with universal health-care tend to be very good at preventative care (ie lifestyle). That is because the government can't deny people coverage. It is forced to pay. It's much cheaper for the government to pay for regular checkups than to pay for intensive cancer treatment. Therefore, countries with universal care focus a lot of effort on getting people to get regular check-ups. This helps individual health in a major way.

Also, as a side-note, when it comes to tobacco use, America is very low on the list. Smoking is far more prevalent in other countries.

What if... some congressmen needed a surgery... would [he] wait three months?

Hopefully yes. Looking at other countries, it looks likely that he would. After all, why else are elected officials from other countries coming to the United States for treatment. Apparently they are unable to move themselves to the front of the line in their own countries.

Also you mentioned your brother's hip replacement, I wonder how much longer he would have to wait with a Universal Healthcare program? Six months? Nine months? A year?

You are assuming he would have to wait longer. Why would he have to wait longer? The only way he would have to wait longer would be an increase in demand. And, if demand has increased, that just means that people were not getting necessary treatment before but are now. That sounds like a good thing to me.

Quick, try to think of one government office that runs efficiently. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

Neither Fannie Mae nor Freddie Mac are government offices. They are government backed, meaning that the government is there to help if things get messy, but they are publicly-traded companies. They are members of the private sector.

...and when was the last time you went to the DMV and didn't have to stand in line?

Actually, funny you should ask. The last time I went to the DMV (a couple months back) I didn't wait in line. I took the number and walked right up to the window. The amount of time you wait at the DMV has nothing to do with the fact that they are inefficient. If you want more windows to be open, you can simply give them more tax money. Personally, I have no interest in funneling more tax money just so I don't have to stand in line so long. So, I will stick with the current level of service.

I would also turn the question around on you and ask how often you have had to wait in line at the bank or Walmart or any other place. We have to wait in lines everywhere we go, not just government offices. It may be more common in government offices, but once again that (as mentioned before) is largely because we have no interest in putting more money into more workers.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

There isn't a single government office that squeezes efficiency out of every dollar the way the private sector can.

Have you ever worked for the private sector? The private sector is full of graft and inefficiencies. There are plenty of examples of Bradley-esque failures in the private sector. Look at GM. That was a private company and it was run into the ground in a very inefficient manner. I work in the private sector and I see examples of waste and inefficiency everyday. That is the nature of bureaucracies. I personally have been involved in massive research projects that have been completely thrown away after months and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Why can't we have the same success in the private sector, with incentives from the government to reach the end goal?

That's what we have been trying to do for decades. Hence the fact that we are trying to find a better solution.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

Now please don't misunderstand me. I do not want to come off as a defender of government waste nor appear to be ignorant of the troubles with government bureaucracy. I strongly support endeavors that seek to streamline government processes and remove bureaucracy as much as possible. I simply do not subscribe to the overly-simplistic axiom of "private sector good, government bad". Such platitudes lead to the massive deregulation that precipitated the current economic disaster in which we are currently living.

We need to learn that the government is good at doing certain things and that the market is good at others. As much as possible, we should try to inject market forces into government programs so as to increase the efficiency. That is why I support the cap-and-trade solution to CO2 emissions as opposed to a simply cap solution. The cap-and-trade gives us the CO2 caps while utilizing market forces.

The idea that the market is always right is just plain wrong. The recent housing bubble should be sufficient to disprove the universal nature of such claims. The market can get itself really screwed up at times. That is why the government needs to step in at times and apply proper regulation. History is replete with examples of how government intervention has had very positive effects on society and the economy. The trick is finding the proper balance.