« | Main | Whither skepticism about Hillary? »

January 30, 2016

Comments

I agree with your position but I have additional objections to the Bernie philosophy of the Great Leap Forward. We have in Canada our very own socialist party. and as long as they have been around they have claimed to represent the interests of the common people and the working man. Their main sources of support have been public and private sector unionized employees. That was not unexpected I think. And NDP and the left leaning Liberals have carefully crafted a system that benefits their constituencies enormously. But only them unfortunately. That is why we have a two tier health care sytem that provides superb benefits to these constituencies at the expense of everyone else. That is why the two thirds of us who do not have these benefits laugh when we hear what the governor of Vermont had to say about universal health care. We cannot afford it he said. But you know what they can afford? All those things for a subset of the public which includes the governor.

As it happens, the public sector in Canada is a much bigger percentage of the economy than it is in the US. One very important reason for that is because the entire medical industry is part of that public sector. And this is what those people are never ever going to do. They are neved going to vote to raise their own taxes to extend the benefits they already get to the people who don't. Never. If you look at what is happening in the US this is also true. There's no way that very large piece of the Democratic party that is the same boat of preferentially benefiting from the current system is going to support Bernie's view of socialism. They can do the math. And the math says, as it does everywhere in the world that might be described as socialist, that they must pay more and expect less for themselves and their families.

If you want an equitable universal single payer and forge an alliance large enough to make it possible this is what you need to do. Take public funding of health care from everyone who gets it now. Every school teacher, every fire fighter, every federal state and municipal employee. Take it away from every elected politician. Then and only then will you have a political force large enough to secure it for everyone. For as long as they can secure only for themselves what you must pay for you are fucked.

I wish to make the argument general because it is. What applies to health care applies to every other issue. Bernie may think he is going to change the Democratic party by calling them that worst of names, the establishment. But it is not going to make any of the various, often conflicting factions forget their own interests. And he is not going to make them betray those interests. That's why they are the establishment.

Having come politically aware in the late 1950's, loving books and ideas, and having a liberal mindset, I know something of social revolution. Those who want to improve society deserve credit and support. The energy of youth and idealism can accomplish progress. It's possible, though, that some time in the future younger people will see the current revolutionaries as frivolous and clownish, as younger people now often see the 1960's counter-culture as scatter-brained hippies. No matter your sincerity and hard effort, the champions of the status quo will fight back with every tool at their disposal. Along the way you'll learn something about how basically perverse the reactionary impulse is.

It's important to understand progress isn't made without hard work and also to learn why Bernie has nearly no chance of accomplishing what he's aiming for any time soon, but has set worthy goals. Not everyone can be a historian, but everyone can make the effort to study the outlines of American history. In one layman's view the most basic impediments to democratic socialism are the legacies of slavery and other institutional racism, revolutionary resistance to government, a class system dating back to the colonies, and a political system based on all of it to an extent. The temptations of empire also have a basic role. Learn about these things, that politics is the art of the possible, what counter-revolutionaries believe and that real change occurs on a time scale longer than that of revolution. Try to stay idealistic even with the inevitable setbacks.

We can't even get marijuana declassified from a schedule 1 narcotic in this country, even as new generations of legislators who have used it before are elected to office. Whatever you think of ACA, getting it passed at all was a huge accomplishment in and of itself. Not only is single payer politically impossible, but since the passage of the ACA, I doubt that more health care reform is even a priority for most voters right now. Unless they live in a state that turned away the Medicaid expansion, maybe. The word "socialism" may not be scary to younger voters, but they are still vastly outnumbered at the ballot box by older voters who still have a problem with it.

Thanks for the explanation. I see the usual amen chorus is in agreement with you. Me. . . not so much. You all sound like tired, long in the tooth, once upon a time dreamers. Well, some of us have never stopped dreaming of a better world. And we will do everything we can to make it happen while you dejected pragmatists bemoan the fact that it can never happen. Good luck to you.

Oh good Lord...*facepalm*

Look, no one has stopped dreaming or imagining or conceiving of a better world. I'm sure plenty of 400 lb. people dream of running the Boston Marathon. And that's a worthy goal. Buuuuuuut...the way you do that is not by dropping the person off at the starting line and yelling, "Go!" You can probably work out the rest of this analogy.

You will be glad to know that I too dream of a better world. In this world you and your family are entitled to universal high quality comprehensive heath care because you are a human. And not because you belong to a special interest group that can negotiate a preferential access to taxpayer funds. Nor do I think it responsible to assign any health care burden directly to employers for that limits what you can get to what they can pay. And the vast majority of businesses are small, family run low margin businesses that can't afford to much if anything at all. Anybody who thinks otherwise has never run a business.
Bernie tried to fool you into thinking he was going to stick it to the man and tax businesses to pay for the dream. But the tax he proposes is flat as hell and passes right through the businesses directly to consumers. It is to be charitable bullshit. Nor do any of his plans in any way address the cost of health care. To control that you will have to severly cut the expenses. That would be what nurses are paid and doctors and all the other people who make up this system. Think they'll be on board with this plan? I'll bet not.

And in case you are wondering how American manufacturing became so uncompetitive that would be because Americans thought it was wise to burden them with enormous health care expenses. That is what nearly killed the US auto industry.
I don't dislike your dream Jimiskin. I endorse it. i just know that the main barrier to getting there isn't the Republicans it's the Democrats. And i don't believe that attacking people who actually do vote in their own self interest gets you anywhere.

If not now, when? It seems to me it is exactly the times of stress that are the times to act.

But I do not see how Sanders can become the Democratic candidate. I think the most hopeful outcome here is that Hilary Clinton becomes President, the Republicans fly off to Gamma Quadrant where they came from, and Sanders supporters found a new party.

Hey, a bird can dream.

Good gods, far for me to join an amen chorus. Just be aware, my young friend, that the road ahead is always uphill and you'll face resistance you haven't yet imagined. I'm long in tooth but am behind you 100%. The most powerful tool you have is to learn American history.


Dream on, fellow traveller.

Hey Bob, I am 69. I don't buy into the myth that one becomes more conservative as he gets older. But I do thank you for the "young friend" designation. Rock on.

You're only as old as a variety of physical influences make you. Peace and love. Power to the people.

Times were far more stressful seven years ago. Why not then?

Obama has done a terrific job and got lots of things done because times were so stressful. Since Nixon the United States moved more or less steadily rightward until Obama. In ways big and small, he turned the country to the left. He used government as a force to do good things for the American people. We are our brother's keeper and we're all in this together is distinctly different from the government doesn't solve problems, government is the problem.

Obama took on Reagan and during his administration, he won.

It took 30 years of transferring power from government to the corporate sector to get to where we are today. The American people chose big business over big government at every turn for decades.

The hope is that we have thirty years of pruning that corporate power and expanding government. We'll see where the country is then. (Well, probably not me.) That is the hope. But the Obama transformation will not stick unless Dems win the Presidency in 2016 and probably 2020, too. Reagan has been beaten back but he is not dead as in dead as a doornail.

Obama could be a Claudius, the effective Roman leader who served between Caligula and Nero.

If you really want to know what progressives are letting themselves in for ask them what they think of Rahm Emmanuel? Rahm they will tell you he is everything wrong with the Democratic party. He did a terrible thing. He negotiated a generous new contract with the Chicago teachers union. It was a very generous deal that left a huge hole in the municipal budget that had to be addressed with scholl closures. That will not do. So the teacher's union is trying to get rid of the evil Rahm by using troubles with another union, the police union to rid Chicago of the scourge of the guy who just gave them a bucket of money. There being no actual reason the students in the crumby rundown schools, mainly Black and Hispanic , should not be allowed to go to newer mainly white schools in better neighborhoods they have concluded the supreme court decision in Brown vs the Board of education was wrong. Those dusky students it seems are best served by segregation. Why? Because letting them go to better schools will cost hundreds of unneeded teachers jobs and associated support staff. Now if you asked me which union, police or teachers best represented institutionalized racism I couldn't tell you.

This is, of course, almost beside the point. The real point is that if you had a single payer health care system the government would be negotiating with all the people who work for it and whom they will be paying and if they cannot say no to the demands of any of these groups, be they nurses or doctors or lab techs or hospital janitors then your single payer system will soon be utterly bankrupt. If they did what they woud be obligated to do they would all be evil Rahms. Progressives love the idea of single payer health care. They couldn't run such a system if their lives depended on it.

"The American people" had almost nothing to do with the implementation of employer based health care. It was a historical anomaly that grew out of an agreement between business and government to attract high skilled workers from Europe following WWII.

Also, Rahm didn't have as much to do with Chicago school problems as Arne Duncan, who might or might not have known what he was doing other than being ideological:

"Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Duncan to serve as Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools on June 26, 2001.[7] Opinions vary on Duncan's success as CEO; one prominent publication notes improved test scores and describes Duncan as a consensus builder,[8] while another finds the improvements largely a myth and is troubled by the closing of neighborhood schools and their replacement by charter schools, and what it describes as schools' militarization.[9]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arne_Duncan#CEO_of_Chicago_Public_Schools

Rahm Emanuel is not a progressive. He's another Richard J. Daley but without the political skill.

You aren't a democratic socialist you are an establishment democrat. Bernie's ideas are not too much. They actually might not be enough.you are conceding to the establishment. It is time to reestablish, it is time to take our country back from the billionaires who own it. I'm sorry but you're the problem not the solution. As a matter of fact you argue against yourself, you say pragmatism gets things done and I say pragmatism is what we've had and nothing has progressed, which you agree with. It's time for a
revolution and you need to FEEL THE BERN!!!!

Oh boy, am I enjoying this! Can I hold anyone else's coat whilst you all slug it out? The more the merrier!

Of course, despite the self evident fact that governments do everything either worse or more expensively and inefficiently than private enterprises (which go broke if they fail!), you resolutely refuse to acknowledge that your greatest potential enemy is not some foreign government but your own government! Should you doubt me take a long look, or even a quick glance, at the many Democrat/Socialist-controlled big cities where government has "growed and growed like Topsy". They are all broke and the poor people, unable to flee like their middle-class neighbours have done, are trapped. Don't believer me? Try living in Chicago or Baltimore!

"private enterprises which go broke if they fail!"... So, in 2008, who had to bail out who?

No-one *had to* bail out anyone, they should just have let them go bust. But, of course, the Dem politicians are no different from the Republicans in that they are both are in thrall to Wall Street.

Since Wall St. is part of the country as well as an important part of the economy it must be governed. Negotiating with it over rules and regulations takes place in the same type of environment as that function regarding any other part of society. It does not mean the government is necessarily in thrall to Wall St. any more than it's in thrall to any other voters.

The difference is in the philosophies, such as they actually exist, of the two parties. The Republicans have one of the most dopey ideas about economics conceivable at this point in history; the "free market". There is no such thing, and it couldn't exist without a complete lack of civilized society.

David, the noble Wall St. Firms did nothing wrong, it was those damn liars and losers taking advantage of them and getting loans through fraudulent means.

"Santelli drew attention for his remarks made on February 19, 2009, about the Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan, which was announced on February 18. While broadcasting from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Santelli accused the government of "promoting bad behavior", and raised the possibility of a "Chicago Tea Party". He suggested that individuals who knowingly obtained high-risk mortgages (and faced impending foreclosure as a consequence) were "losers".[5] The Tea Party remark was credited by some as launching the Tea Party movement.[6][7]"

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Santelli

"The Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan is a U.S. program announced on February 18, 2009 by U.S. President Barack Obama" - Wiki.

Need one say more?

Rahm Emmanuel is a realist who knows he hasn't got the budget to satisfy all the various groups that wish to make claims upon that budget. He can't afford to keep fifty completely unnecessary schools open just to provide a few thousand extra jobs to the teachers union. You are absolutely right that he is not a progressive. A progressive would have promised to flush that money down the toilet and taken it from other equally needed municipal programs. Including social welfare programs that might actually do some good in the neighborhoods and for the children that are clearly at risk.

Progressives aren't actually very good at governing. They are the girls who can't say no and get in a terrible fix. Governing requires you to say no quite a lot. If you just look at the distribution of states that have large unfunded public pension liabilities you will find most of those developed under Democratic governance. They made promises they couldn't keep. There are very good reasons they couldn't keep them but they knew that too and just kicked the can down the road hoping for magical revenue streams that would allow them to catch up. Which was never going to happen.

It's all going to sort itself out. The Republicans will sort out the finances of these states by gutting the promises. The Democrats will protest a lot but not do much to stop it because the only fix is to raise taxes on everybody to help a few and that would actually be political suicide. Especially in those states that have reduced revenue and poor credit ratings that make further borrowing very iffy. And when the smoke clears they'll be able to blame the nasty Republicans for the gutting. But they sure as hell won't reinstate the promises.

If progressives are bad, conservatives are much worse:

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/23/scott_walker_forever_tarnished_republican_governors_have_tanked_the_gop_brand/

Illinois has a history of budget battles between Chicago and the rest of the state, which is extremely conservative. Usually it gets worked out somehow, but Rahm just doesn't seem to have the clout. The conservative Republican governor is another budget wrecker:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-bouman/time-to-end-the-illinois-_b_9070240.html

2 tiered system in Canada? How so? Unions negotiate benefits while other Canadians pay a medical fee for coverage.

Yes, if one is not to be thought a total idiot.

"Here we are, in 2011—and although 2004 seems like a different world from today, separated by more events than we can make sense of, the left still hasn’t come around to answering that big Kansas mystery about Americans’ farcical voting habits. So the left was left baffled once again when, in 2009, millions of Americans volunteered as foot-soldiers to fight for a second-rate TV personality named Rick Santelli and his rich speculator friends at the Chicago Exchange, who called for a revolution to protect their money from “losers” because Santelli and his speculator buddies didn’t want to “subsidize losers’ mortgages.” Next thing you know, these same losers took to the streets to defend the semi-celebrity Santelli, his rich speculator pals, and the Koch brothers from… losers.

That is, they revolted against themselves.

The whole thing was absurd, of course—when Yasha Levine and I first broke the story in February, 2009 that the Tea Party was an Astroturf campaign funded by the (then little-known) Koch brothers and FreedomWorks, no one was more surprised by it all than we were.

It took a long time for the left to get behind our story, largely because it was just too damn depressing for the left to accept. But by then, the Tea Party story got even more absurd: what began as a tightly-coordinated PR campaign quickly exploded into a genuine mass protest movement. And why not? If Kansas had spent two decades voting against its rational interests in the polling booth, why wouldn’t Kansas take the next logical step and hit the streets for an anti-self-interest revolution?

And they weren’t just revolting against their own rational economic self-interest—they also rebelled against their health and longevity, storming town hall meetings with guns threatening any lawmaker who dared offer them cheaper, better health care of the sort enjoyed in every other First World country, where people live longer healthier lives than we do, at half the cost. Fueled by spite, these protesters proved to the world that Americans would rather die in misery and bankruptcy than live longer healthier lives. Thanks to them, Obama, who was never thrilled about offering us cheaper health care in the first place, made sure that whatever happened, we’d get the very worst health care reform possible, one that left everyone bitter except the health care plutocrats. A victory for the spite-ists, in other words"

http://exiledonline.com/we-the-spiteful/

Just let the chips fall where they may. My what a simple solution.

So Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were well-run, sensible and proper administrators of OPM (Other People's Money) who only loaned money to customers with a solid financial record. Whodathunkit? Did Bernie Sanders?

And we all know who to blame, don't we?

"Conclusion: The U.S. Congress is Largely to Blame
Members of the U.S. Congress were strong supporters of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Despite warnings and red flags raised by some, they continued to allow the companies to increase in size and risk, and encouraged them to purchase an increasing number of lower credit quality loans. While it is probable that Wall Street would have introduced innovative mortgage products even in the absence of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it might be concluded that Wall Street's expansion into "exotic" mortgages took place in part in order to compete and take market share from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In other words, Wall Street was looking for a way to compete with the implicit guarantee given to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the U.S. Congress.

Meanwhile, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's debt and credit guarantees grew so large that Congress should have recognized the systematic risks to the global financial system these firms posed, and the risks to U.S. taxpayers, who would eventually foot the bill for a government bailout."

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/economics/08/fannie-mae-freddie-mac-credit-crisis.asp

Those additional benefits they negotiate for themselves are the key. What good is a universal payer health care system that only tells some people what they will die from but provides full treatment to others? It's a great system if the various levels of government provide those additional benefits to themselves and their employees but only if you happen to be in that group. That is exactly what we have. Why are drugs not covered by our health care system? That is the primary treatment for a host of diseases.

I can afford to pay for the drugs that I require to live but what I have is progressive and there will come a time when I will not be able to afford them. What then? And I know many people in a similar boat who cannot afford their treatments. I know several people who cannot retire for their post retirement health care packages are extremely limited. Those people are in private sector unions of course. If they were in public sector unions they wouldn't have any problem at all. They'd be covered completely in retirement and probably get full early retirement as well.

Canada is like any other country in the world. The private sector is under great stress and benefits are being eroded or disappearing altogether by competitive pressure. Not so the public sector which happens to make up about a third of the Canadian economy (and the people who work in it.)

So the way I like to phrase this important question is this: Why are teachers and their children (noble beasts) entitled to a host of health care benefits that the children in their classes are not? When I ask this question, inveterate socialist that I am, I am told I am being wickedly divisive. But only by the people who are getting the gravy.

I believe in universality. And the only way I see to get it is to take the right of public sector unions to negotiate superior health care treatment for themselves. Until that happens they have no need to think about anyone but themselves. And they won't. Let me know when the NDP comes up with a plan to extend the same benefits to everyone they think their political base, largely public sector unions, deserve. They didn't use to be but now they are basically the phony socialist party in Canada. They pretend to fight fiercely on behalf of everyone but always compromise on what benefits only their supporters.

It is quite clear to me that the only way to get them on our side is to put them all in the same leaky boat as the rest of us and get them off their cruise liner.

That's why, DA, the only way to make sense of "conservatives" at this time is in terms of psychology. They actually *do* see what they're doing in their own rational self-interest. They are not philosophical conservatives, as PM has pointed out often, but they are predictable if you understand their motivations and weaknesses. I'm being repetitious here, but try reading Chris Mooney's 'The Republican Brain'.

We're starting to converge here again for you are right. But I don't think it is about clout. It is about municipal borders and the limits of taxation authority. You can't tax higher income people who don't live in your taxation district.
Watch what happens in Flint. Flint switched water supplies because the Detroit water system was going to cut them off. The politics of this is fascinating. The science is just bullshit. Detroit has had wonderful Lake Huron water since I was a teenager. And lead levels in Detroit children are worse than they are in Flint. It has nothing to do with water and everything to do with old plumbing systems that exist everywhere but particularly in old run down economically stressed and underpopulated cities that don't have the budgets to fix anything or even properly treat their water.

Now ol Brooksy, that would be L Brooks Patterson of Oakland county, had a problem. Half the the businesses and homes in Detroit weren't paying their water bills. So he insisted that adjacent communities including Flint pick up the slack even though they were in just as poor financial shape. Hence Flint. They're broke and they can't afford to subsidize Detroit.

The actual fix for this is jurisdictional. The state should be running all water distribution systems. Fixing the lead problem is even harder. The source for this is mostly the plumbing of the older homes in the older neighborhoods where the poorer people live. Fixing this will require that private homes be fixed. Who is going to pay for that? The people in the communities with the problem do not even want to pay for water. I assure you that the people who don't have the problem aren't going to want to pay for fixing the problems of the people who do. That's how Detroit got to be Detroit.

The politics of lead are even more interesting. You will be surprised to learn that we are all mentally impaired. For we grew up in the era of lead plumbing and lead paint and leaded gasoline and so had much higher exposure levels than children today do. It was a pervasive mist in the air from leaded gasoline. Acceptable lead levels in water used to be 50 micrograms per liter. Then they were forty. Then they were twenty five. Then they were ten. And now they are two. So why aren't we all mentally impaired? There were very good and sound reasons for limiting exposure to lead. And good reasons for fixing the problem if a way can be found to do it. But you know what won't work? Class action lawsuits by the citizens against their bankrupt city.

The irony for the governor of Michigan is that he got himself in a terrible fix for imposing what are essentially bankruptcy trustees in places like Detroit and Flint. For by doing so he invited blame for long standing problems that he could have avoided by just letting those communities sink under their almost exclusively Democratic party administrations? He should have taken Rachel Maddow's advice and let them run their cities into the ground if he wanted to play hardball.

Imagine though that water distribution systems were a state responsibility and not a county or municipal responsibility? How different would the situation be if state level politicians could not ignore such problems?

John Dean talks about what he calls political authoritarianism here:

http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-authoritarian-ruler-republicans-and-some-dems-have-been-waiting

"Political Authoritarians—The Followers

Americans were introduced to “the authoritarian type” in a 1951 book that was controversial from its publication: The Authoritarian Personality by Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, and Daniel J. Levinson. While the book had its flaws, time has also shown much of the analysis was accurate, if not prescient, in explaining this type of personality. When studying these personalities I discovered the later work of an American-born professor at the University of Manitoba, Bob Altemeyer, whose book The Authoritarian Specter updates, expands upon, and solidifies the work of Adorno’s team.

Altemeyer was extremely helpful in assisting me translate decades of academic works by social science into meaningful material for the general reader. After he saw the interest in my book, I was able to persuade Dr. Bob to summarize some of his own work for the general reader, which he posted online, and it is free. The work is entitled The Authoritarian, and it has been visited by over a half million people. Trump’s candidacy should send more people to read it.

I am only going to briefly summarize the authoritarian types, who can be broadly broken down into “leaders” and “followers.” Starting with the followers, who are more prevalent and who are characterized by their submissiveness to established authorities, a trait that becomes combined with a general aggressiveness toward others. Altemeyer labels these followers “right-wing authoritarians,” and from his studies I developed a laundry list of characteristic and traits consistently found in these people."

Interesting to find Adorno in the mix. He's probably one of the underrated intellects of the 20th Century.

I'll go you a step further and point out that under the Clean Water Act the federal government has some responsibility. As I mentioned here once, lead in the water supply was a problem in San Diego more than 35 years ago, and that's probably true for almost every city in the US with water piped in from any distance. Passivation helps somewhat, but the thing most people don't have any idea about is how truly obsolete much of our physical infrastructure is.

The replacement for lead in gasoline, MTB, also had a lot of problems concerning health. It's hard to find much information about it currently. Also, children are now exposed to a wide variety of chemicals in nearly everything, including food, that we weren't. Look into early childhood developmental problems.

I personally have a problem with some food additives that I've spent the last several years trying to identify. Eliminating some of them also eliminated serious joint pain I had for four years. It might have been mainly caused by bromilated baked goods. The additive is a known carcinogen illegal in most other advanced countries, but here in the US we wouldn't want to get government on the back of unfettered money getting.

I've read Altemeyer's online book. In addition to Mooney you might also be interested in Hannah Arendt and the paper by Jost, et al called 'Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition. Thanks for getting the word out.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 12.31.37 PM
Your host, P.M. Carpenter (photo credit: L. Reeves)

Recent Posts and Archives









B v. t