Open Thread And Link Farm: Carnival Barkers Edition

This is an open thread. Post what you want, when you want. Self-links are a joy to behold.

Sorry I’ve been relatively absent from the blog lately — busy cartooning.

  1. A collection of quotes from left-wingers reacting to the news of bin Laden’s death.
  2. I really like this short comic by Emma T Capps. And she’s only 14! You can read an article about Emma and her work here.
  3. In the feminist blogosphere, ‘calling out’ has increasingly turned into cannibalism.”
  4. “…she describes with some irritation how intra-feminist politics made feminist music—and I would argue feminist expression generally—timid.”
  5. Mickey Mouse is scary.
  6. Every time you think that John C. Wright has reached the limit in how far he can flee reasonableness, he goes further.
  7. Which do you think is worse, the Suck Fairy or the Brain Eater?
  8. Arab Waiter Sues Hotel For Forcing Name Change After 9/11 – COLORLINES
  9. Poly Styrene, Brash Frontwoman of X-Ray Spex, Dies at 53 – NYTimes.com “Germfree Adolescents” remains my favorite punk album ever. Sigh.
  10. This Modest Medusa strip really cracked me up.
  11. In some years, just 400 people receive more than 10 percent of all capital gains income in America.
  12. The Destruction of Economic Facts – BusinessWeek
  13. “If everyone has an opinion then no one has an opinion.” Seriously, Gwyneth Paltrow? Seriously?
  14. Go Humans! Beat The Worms Why fighting parasitic worms is the best bang for your charity buck.
  15. In 1989, Trump took out a full-page ad calling for the execution of five black teenagers. All of whom turned out to be innocent.
  16. I have found the group in America I care least about offending.
  17. Blasphemy, Culture, and Reasonable Arguments — The League of Ordinary Gentlemen
  18. There are differences between how I’m regarded in society because of my fat, and how I’m regarded in society because of my autism, but the big difference for me is the issue of individual blame.”
  19. Democrats in House cause panic among Republicans by almost letting a Republican budget proposal pass.
  20. President Obama Dodges Responsibility On Immigration
  21. This tattoo is disturbing looking.
  22. Yes, bin Laden the man is dead. But he achieved all he set out to achieve, and a hell of a lot more. He forever changed who we are as a country, and for the worse. Mostly because we let him.”
  23. How old were you when you first knew your gender?
  24. As a black Muslim woman in America, I am a run-on sentence that others constantly try to edit.” — Kameelah Janan Rasheed
  25. Catcalling sucks: “I’ve been yelled at, I’ve been cursed out, and physically intimidated. I’ve also been wished a blessed day. But the unpredictability is what makes it so upsetting.”
  26. The FBI’s Definition of Rape: Older Than a Lot of Things : Ms Magazine Blog
  27. I really like this fat-positive nude photo.
  28. Incredible illustrations made by creasing paper.

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68 Responses to Open Thread And Link Farm: Carnival Barkers Edition

  1. 1
    Jake Squid says:

    HarperCollins wants libraries to re-buy eBooks after every 26th loan. Sign the petition asking them not to kill your library. This seems like a situation where a boycott by individuals may have an effect.

  2. 3
    DSimon says:

    What a cool Ira Glass quote. He’s going on my Hero List right after Shigeru Miyamoto.

  3. 4
    squirrel says:

    Jill’s piece is a good one but I worry that people are getting the wrong take-away from it. Jill repeats, over and over, that the people she is talking about criticize from a place of good intentions, but you still get it described elsewhere as

    large numbers of humorless joy-killers who hang out at Feministe, waiting for her to say something they can blow way out of proportion, so as to start a flame war accusing her of insensitivity or having nice things, which she is apparently supposed to feel bad about.

    and

    (Also, carnival barkers should start hanging out with feminist blog commenters. They can exchange tips on how to be offended by everything.)

    or I mean

    they want to believe that oppression can be overcome by just policing other liberals endlessly to make sure they don’t say words like “lame” or “crazy”.

    really? It’s an astounding dismissal of the critiques and lived experiences of people who disabilities.

    Saying this isn’t enough, and we’ve gotten to a place where we’ve lost track of what we should be focusing on is not the same thing as saying, “So all these criticisms are misplaced” or “people are looking to be offended”, which is a classic silencing move and one I think Jill successfully navigates around, not that that seems to have made a difference to readers of her piece.

  4. 5
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I love coffee.

    I LOOOOOOOVE it.

    I am drinking my third cup right now. I actually sort of have a coffee problem. I’m down to three (smallish) cups at the moment but I used to drink five (largish) cups every day. And don’t get me started on espresso, yummm. I had to pack up my espresso machine because I was drinking too much of it.

    And since this is an open thread, I’m curious: Do y’all drink coffee? Or are you tea people?

  5. 6
    embergirl says:

    Not sure whether this is the right place, but can all theist Alas-readers say a quick prayer for me? I self-injured badly yesterday and I’ve just got out of hospital.

  6. 7
    mythago says:

    You got it, embergirl! Keep us posted. Hope you are doing better.

  7. 8
    Maureen O'Danu says:

    g&w yes, coffee, and tea. Working on one now, will have the other later.

    embergirl. Prayers and GoodThoughts(tm) sent.

  8. 9
    Gray St. James says:

    Thanks for the well-designed Ira Glass quote. I printed out several copies and have them stuck over my computer, in my notebooks, and by my front door. Important, important stuff to remember.

    @embergirl: Good thoughts, and wishes for good luck, headed your way.

  9. 10
    Myca says:

    And since this is an open thread, I’m curious: Do y’all drink coffee? Or are you tea people?

    I drink both. Coffee is much more like medication while tea is for pleasure. In a just world, Lapsang Souchong would be available everywhere for pennies a cup.

    —Myca

  10. 11
    Myca says:

    Not sure whether this is the right place, but can all theist Alas-readers say a quick prayer for me? I self-injured badly yesterday and I’ve just got out of hospital.

    I’m not really a theist (as a UU, I can afford to be vague), but you are in my thoughts. Many of my loved ones self-injure, and I know how scary it can be. I sincerely hope that you find healing and peace soon.

    —Myca

  11. 12
    Mandolin says:

    I prefer tea. I drink coffee sometimes, though.

    Not a theist, but thoughts, well-wishes, and hope your way.

  12. 13
    DaisyDeadhead says:

    Just wanted to remind everyone of what happened this day in history, 41 years ago.

    Please don’t forget.

    May 4th: This day in history

  13. 14
    Jake Squid says:

    I drink neither coffee nor tea. I do have the occasional iced tea while dining out, though. Caffeine does nothing for me. Sugar is where it’s at.

  14. 15
    Eva says:

    I drink non-caffeine (AKA herbal) tea. But have only been doing so regularly for about a year (I’m 45).
    Definitely no coffee, have never had a taste for it.
    Caffeine does nothing good for me. I don’t even drink hot chocolate anymore, or, for that matter, solid chocolate, because of the caffeine, but the caffeine + sugar combo is really the worst sleep disturbing invention in known history, in my experience.

    Embergirl – warm prayers and virtual hugs to head you in the direction of recovery.

    -Eva

    P.S. Loving this thread.

  15. 16
    Simple Truth says:

    Embergirl – I don’t know you and I don’t want to make any assumptions about you, but as a fellow human I’m concerned for you. I wish you the best recovery mentally and physically. If you feel close to doing something like that again and don’t think it’s too cheesy, there are places to turn for support. SAFE (Self Abuse Finally Ends) seems like a good resource, and suicide prevention hotlines also should be trained in helping cope with injuring behaviors. The Kristen Brooks Hope Center is another resource, and they just started a chat service called IMAlive **disclaimer – I’m in training to volunteer for IMAlive**

    On a different note, coffee in the morning, tea in the evening. Good times.

  16. 17
    Ampersand says:

    Embergirl, you’re in my thoughts. Good luck and good recovery, and if you want, please keep us updated.

    * * *

    I don’t drink coffee. Or tea.

    Actually, I never drink anything but water.

    (Once or twice a year I might have a chocolate milkshake as a treat.)

    * * *

    Thanks for the reminder, Daisy.

  17. 18
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Actually, I never drink anything but water.

    Seriously? Or is that a joke?

  18. 19
    Jake Squid says:

    He used to drink a lot of milk, g&w. I can’t say that I’ve seen him do that in the last 4 years, though.

  19. 20
    chingona says:

    g&w @ 18 made me laugh. People who rely on caffeine (including me) are often very confused by people who don’t. (Like, I can’t get my head around Mormons – a whole religion of people who get by without caffeine! Yet they seem so productive! How do they do it?)

    I like the taste of coffee, but I don’t always like how it makes me feel. Real high, then crash and burn. I drink maté in the morning, the traditional way – not in a tea bag – a habit I retain from my Peace Corps service in Paraguay. (I’m worried that comes off as pretentious, but I just really like maté.). It’s more of a sustained high than coffee. Then mostly water the rest of the day. I have the occasional cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon/evening, but I have to be really careful with it if I want to sleep at night.

    embergirl … Take care of yourself. I’ll be thinking healing thoughts for you.

  20. 21
    Ampersand says:

    Seriously? Or is that a joke?

    Seriously. As Jake said, I used to drink a ton of milk, but I haven’t had a glass of milk in years.

  21. 22
    Robert says:

    No wine? No beer? No soda?

    …but without beer, life itself would be impossible!

    (Mormons, obviously, are undead.)

  22. 23
    Joe says:

    Re: Hollerin’ season:

    A friend of mine had some business cards made up. They said,

    “Tu acabas de insultar a una mujer.
    Esta tarjeta esta tratada quimicamente. Tu bicho se caera in tres dias.”

    Awesome.

  23. 24
    nobody.really says:

    Slate compares Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) to Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for American’s Future” (“RepubliCare”). In brief:

    • Health insurance generally: ObamaCare involves a fee which can be avoided if you buy insurance; RepubliCare involves a tax increase which can be (partially) refunded if you buy insurance.

    • Medicare: Funded by taxes (and borrowing), Medicare covers 80% of the health care costs of people 65+ and people with various disabilities. ObamaCare doesn’t change this much. Under RepubliCare, Medicare would no longer cover 80% of costs. Rather, Medicare would be replaced with a voucher. The voucher would be worthless unless people used it to – you guessed it – buy private health insurance. The duty to pay your taxes would remain under either scenario.

    God bless those stalwart Republicans who are defending us against Obama’s unprecedented assault on our liberties!

  24. 25
    chingona says:

    @ Joe … That’s pretty good, but there are two small problems. Not all hollerers speak Spanish, and for many of those who do, a bicho is a bug, not a penis.

  25. 26
    nobody.really says:

    More on sorry Republican politics:

    Tim Pawlenty’s being sorry that he supported cap-and-trade legislation.

    And Mitt Romeny is sorry about his health care plan.

  26. 27
    Sam L. says:

    I like coffee, I like tea
    I like the girls
    And the girls like me
    Yes and and maybe so
    A cuppa cuppa cuppa cuppa tea.

  27. 28
    Anonymous T-Girl says:

    Cool link list. On first impulse i was going to choose the Suck Fairy. But it sounded vaguely homophobic so i went with Brain Eater instead.

    Always remain vigilant against zombies.

  28. 29
    Elusis says:

    Republican small government in action:

    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2011/05/michigan-house-approves-bill-cutting.html

    If universities provide same-sex domestic partner benefits, this bill would cut their support by 5%.

  29. 30
    RonF says:

    Embergirl, you are in my thoughts. You are a human life, the most precious thing in the universe. Get some help – it may sound odd, but taking action to get help is really the strong thing to do, because you’re facing up to your needs and are doing something to meet them.

  30. 31
    RonF says:

    I have had exactly one cup of coffee in my life. I have maybe one cup of tea a month. I gave up soda about 8 years ago, I’ve had perhaps a case in total in all that time since. I drink pretty much exclusively water – if I’m on a campout in winter I’ll drink cocoa, but there’s the whole slave labor thing there.

    I do like a good beer, mind you, but only if I’m out somewhere eating or at a party. I rarely drink at home, perhaps 2 or 3 a month. I’ll have a shot or two of whiskey on occasion. I brought a bottle of Bushmills’ 21-year-old Single Malt Irish Whiskey to church for after the Easter Vigil service. I got a lot of help with that!

  31. 32
    RonF says:

    Speaking of healthcare, we do have one system that’s fairly analagous to the Affordable Healthcare Act: Romneycare, in Massachusetts (the reason why I’d bet against Romney becoming the GOP candidate if I thought there was anyone else worth backing). Now, obviously the Wall Street Journal has a point of view. But there are some interesting statistics in there, such as

    Merely 43% of internists and 56% of family physicians accept Commonwealth Care, the heavily subsidized middle-class insurance program. The same respective figures are 53% and 62% for price-controlled Medicaid.

    As the article goes on to state, “Government health insurance may be great, but not if it can’t buy actual health care.” I thought that quote above was especially pertinent given that some time back a lot of people here evinced skepticism that a significant number of doctors were refusing to accept Medicare and Medicaid. But indeed they are (as I knew, since my own Mother’s doctor refused to do so), and it’s even worse with Romneycare.

    I’d be interested in your comments. I imagine there are differences between Romneycare and the AHCA (or whatever it’s called …). But what is there different about it that you would expect this to be different?

  32. 33
    RonF says:

    Illinois Wants to Work With Sears: Quinn

    Illinois could lose a total of 15,000 jobs if Sears Roebuck and Co., based in Hoffman Estates, leaves the state. And that’s something Gov. Pat Quinn doesn’t want to risk. Quinn confirmed Monday he plans to discuss the future of the company with Sears representatives and Hoffman village board members.

    “We will sit down with the Sears people,” Quinn said during an unrelated news conference. “I’m sure we’ll work out something that will work out for the company, but most importantly work for the common good for the workers, for the jobs.”

    Reports surfaced Monday that Sears is quietly thinking about an out-of-state move in preparation for 22 years worth of tax breaks expiring in 2012. North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and New Jersey reportedly are among the destinations being considered.

    Sears, which started in Chicago a very, very long time ago, received tax incentives (i.e., lower corporate taxes) to keep it from moving it and it’s jobs out of Illinois. This is not a union issue, this is strictly “We can make money by moving to a state with lower corporate taxes.” So, being a large corporation, they have the ability to get the attention of top legislative and executive leaders, even the Governor. The end result (whatever window dressing they put on it) will be an offer to lower their taxes.

    So a large corporation – a member of a group that provides fewer than half of the private jobs in the State – gets tax breaks from a Democratic Governor and a Democratic legislature, but small businesses – whose owners make less money and who provide more than 1/2 the private jobs in the state – get nailed with higher taxes still. These Democrats are coming right out and saying “If we lower corporate taxes, it’ll keep jobs.” I’ll extend that myself and say that it would also help attract people to bring jobs to the State. So why, then, doesn’t the State of Illinois follow this reasoning to the logical conclusion and lower corporate taxes across the board to keep more businesses and attract others?

    Which would in turn cause employment to go up, which would both lower the demand for public services and the expenditures on them and raise the amount of taxes it could collect from those workers? Why not? Because that would be “giving big business corporate tax breaks”? But they’re ALREADY doing that – and for the very reason that conservative argue in favor of doing so.

  33. 34
    Joe says:

    “The average wait time for a routine checkup with an internist is 48 days.”

    So what they’re saying is that the internists are now BUSY. That’s awesome, because it means that people are visiting the doctor for routine (cheap) preventive care, rather than waiting until they have (expensive) major problems. Now we just need to make some more internists…but we’ve known that for a long time.

  34. 35
    Jake Squid says:

    I thought that quote above was especially pertinent given that some time back a lot of people here evinced skepticism that a significant number of doctors were refusing to accept Medicare and Medicaid.

    We evinced skepticism that a significant number of doctors are refusing to accept Medicare. Medicaid is a different story.

    Although looking at stories now, it seems that Medicare participation is also beginning to be a problem.

  35. 36
    Robert says:

    We evinced skepticism that a significant number of doctors are refusing to accept Medicare.

    Not huge quantities…but the numbers are growing.

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/06/21/More-doctors-refusing-Medicare-patients/UPI-20241277133043/

    6% refused in 2004. 8% refused in 2008. 13% refused in 2009.

    (Xposted with Jake’s edit acknowledging this.)

  36. 37
    RonF says:

    Hm. I was going to say that @21 that was a decal, not a tattoo, but it turns out that the clear wrinkled stuff that I thought was the border of a vinyl decal is Saran Wrap or something such to protect the tattoo until the owner got it home.

  37. 38
    nobody.really says:

    So a large corporation – a member of a group that provides fewer than half of the private jobs in the State – gets tax breaks from a Democratic Governor and a Democratic legislature, but small businesses – whose owners make less money and who provide more than 1/2 the private jobs in the state – get nailed with higher taxes still. These Democrats are coming right out and saying “If we lower corporate taxes, it’ll keep jobs.” I’ll extend that myself and say that it would also help attract people to bring jobs to the State. So why, then, doesn’t the State of Illinois follow this reasoning to the logical conclusion and lower corporate taxes across the board to keep more businesses and attract others?

    Which would in turn cause employment to go up, which would both lower the demand for public services and the expenditures on them and raise the amount of taxes it could collect from those workers? Why not? Because that would be “giving big business corporate tax breaks”? But they’re ALREADY doing that – and for the very reason that conservative argue in favor of doing so.

    Exactly right. Indeed, this is a very sound argument for reducing all taxes to 0 – or lower.

    Oh, does government need revenues? Odd how rarely that comes up when conservative talk about taxes. It would be refreshing to hear some conservative say, “Let’s cut taxes. And if we need to stop enforcing property rights, well, so be it.” A boy can dream, I guess.

    So, what is the optimal way to design public finance? Lots of theories. Arguably the optimal tax is the one that simply transfers wealth from one party to another without needlessly altering behavior. We try to spread taxes broadly on the theory that, if we keep incremental taxes as low as we can manage, it won’t distort behavior very much. But Ramsey-based pricing argues that we should also look for people with inelastic demand (that is, with the fewest choices), and stick them with the bill.

    So what happened with Sears? Sears was able to show that it has elastic demand for being in Chicago (that is, other options), and was able to show precisely how the tax burden would alter its behavior. In pandering to Sears, Illinois politicians are arguably making an appropriately strategic move. They are acting on information they have. They don’t have information about how taxes are affecting Joe’s Tire Shop, and therefore aren’t acting on that information.

    This sort of thing happens all the time. Farmland Industries consumes a lot of electricity. But they have sufficient economies of scale that they can tell an electric utility that they will leave the utility’s system and set up their own generators unless the utility sells electricity to Farmland at a discount. So the utility does – and charges all other customers extra to make up the difference. What could the utility do? If Farmland left the utility’s system entirely, rates for all other customers would need to go up even more.

    Football teams threaten to leave cities unless the city provides a new stadium at taxpayer expense – a stadium with which the utility earns more revenues. The city won’t give in if the team can’t make a credible threat that it has elastic demand (other options) for remaining in town. But if the team can, well, then the city needs to fish or cut bait.

    And on and on. If you can make a credible threat to leave, you have leverage. If you can’t make a credible threat – either because no one believes you will leave, or because you can’t get people’s attention – then you don’t.

  38. 39
    nobody.really says:

    On RomneyCare: Yes, wait times have increased in some instances. But this reflects the trend in Massachusetts (and elsewhere) for years, long predating the implementation of RomneyCare.

    And yes, some physicians won’t subscribe for the program because reimbursements are lower than available from private insurance. And other physicians will. This is part of “bending the cost curve.”

    No, use of the emergency room hasn’t declined as much as expected. That’s a bona fide disappointment.

    The Wall Street Journal grumbles, “Government health insurance may be great, but not if it can’t buy actual health care.” I can’t wait to hear them scold Paul Ryan for proposing to turn Medicare into a voucher system, with no guarantee that the vouchers would cover the cost of health insurance. I suspect I have a long wait.

    I also suspect that RomneyCare/ObamaCare may result a two-tier system of health care. But a system in which poor people get less desirable care is better than a system in which poor people get no care.

  39. 40
    Robert says:

    And yes, some physicians won’t subscribe for the program because reimbursements are lower than available from private insurance. And other physicians will. This is part of “bending the cost curve.”

    Also known as “driving quality people out of business and replacing them with people willing to do shoddy work for less”.

    No, use of the emergency room hasn’t declined as much as expected. That’s a bona fide disappointment.

    Yes, if by “hasn’t declined as much as expected” you actually mean “has increased by almost 10%”.

    I’ll have to try this one on my wife next time I stagger in at 2 AM. “Honey, my ability to arrive home by 6 PM hasn’t improved as much as I expected. It’s a bona fide disappointment.”

    I also suspect that RomneyCare/ObamaCare may result a two-tier system of health care. But a system in which poor people get less desirable care is better than a system in which poor people get no care.

    We have a two-tier system NOW. We also, pre-Romneycare, have a system where poor people get care. This is the most bizarre and most persistent rhetorical misinterpretation in the whole health care argument. Poor people in the US, before Romney, before Obama, could get healthcare. It’s called Medicaid. We spend $366 billion a year on it as of 2008, which comes out to an average of around $5,000 per head for the poorest 20% of the population.

    Health care reform is not about making sure that poor people can get care. It is about making health care more affordable for the people in the middle quintiles, who are too well-off to be covered by the dire-poverty programs. People in the 21st percentile of US income are not materially “poor” in any realistic sense of the word.

    What Romney and ObamaCare are likely to accomplish is to break the societal willingness to trust government with these programs, a trust built up by decades of (reasonably) prudent management of our enormous healthcare programs for the poor and for the elderly.

  40. 41
    chingona says:

    RonF,

    Tax incentives for large corporations have become SOP across the country, in states and cities controlled by Democrats and by Republicans. Because there are communities out there actively recruiting companies with very lucrative offers, everyone else ends up having to play (or feeling like they have to play) that game. Many communities’ economic development departments also offer various incentives to small businesses, but they aren’t worth as much (any given small business does not employ as many people as Sears). And of course, most small businesses are started by people who live in the community, so they aren’t likely to leave, nor can they be lured out of state.

    There are a lot of debates about whether these sorts of deals are worth it, but I’ve never seen it to be a particularly partisan issue. I think it’s simply incorrect to label this as something Democrats do and Repubicans don’t, or that liberals endorse and conservatives oppose.

  41. 42
    nobody.really says:

    No, use of the emergency room hasn’t declined as much as expected. That’s a bona fide disappointment.

    Yes, if by “hasn’t declined as much as expected” you actually mean “has increased by almost 10%”.

    Suffice it to say, there’s more than one point of view on that.

  42. 43
    Ampersand says:

    Also known as “driving quality people out of business and replacing them with people willing to do shoddy work for less”.

    Is it your view that no policy which has the effect of lowering what medical providers are paid is acceptable?

    Poor people in the US, before Romney, before Obama, could get healthcare. It’s called Medicaid.

    Not true.

    The federal government requires each state to cover certain mandatory groups of people in the Medicaid program. These categories include children, pregnant women, very low-income parents, the elderly, and people who are blind or disabled. [...] However, federal law prevents states from making anyone eligible for Medicaid. For example, the states cannot offer Medicaid coverage to adults who don’t have children living with them and who are not disabled or elderly no matter how poor they are.

    Medicaid doesn’t cover all poor people — at least, not until the ACA takes effect in 2014, it doesn’t.

    Approximately 50% of the people who will be newly covered because of the ACA, are people who will be newly qualified for Medicaid. So the claim that health care reform isn’t about helping poor people get care is nonsensical. Helping poor people isn’t all the ACA does, but it’s about half of what the ACA does.

  43. 44
    nobody.really says:

    Is he really dead or not? Without the body, the dispute may never be resolved.

  44. 45
    chingona says:

    Via Andrew Sullivan, a Massachusetts resident explains why he likes Romneycare.

    Why the lack of complaint? Let me give you one reason. In October 2008 my daughter, then 10, was hit by a bone infection in her hip. Despite surgery and a lengthy round of antibiotics her hip was damaged to the point where a total hip replacement became necessary. Her hip replacement will wear out in 25-30 years even if nothing goes wrong. If she lives a normal lifespan, that is, she will have to replace it twice – two very expensive operations. Under the status quo, she would not be able to get insurance for these procedures – she has a huge preexisting condition, right?

    But we live in Massachusetts. Indeed, throughout my daughter’s ordeal we were repeatedly told by physicians, nurses and friends that our daughter would, as a practical matter, have to live in Massachusetts for the rest of her life, because if she moved elsewhere in the country as an adult and her hip went out she would face potentially crippling costs. “But at least she can live here,” they said. “It’s not like the rest of the country, where you’re simply fucked.”

  45. 46
    Elusis says:

    “There’s nobody in Mississippi who does not have access to health care” – Gov. Haley Barbour

    http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2011/04/20/amid_strained_clinics_miss_governor_assails_health_law/

  46. 47
    Robert says:

    Amp:
    Is it your view that no policy which has the effect of lowering what medical providers are paid is acceptable?

    No. It’s my view that the government doesn’t have a legitimate role in setting prices.

    Thanks for the information about Medicaid. I stand corrected, and will incorporate the correct story into my future rants and diatribes.

    @Chingona – is anyone shocked that someone who is getting (I assume) hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses paid by the system, while paying (I presume) only a tiny fraction of that amount in taxes/premiums for it, is relatively happy with the outcome? (Obviously they’d rather their daughter was healthy to begin with.)

    @Elusis – Mississippi is the poorest state in the country. It is unsurprising that they are unwilling to embrace a huge expansion of a benefit, which will be politically impossible to back out of later, on the promise that someone else is going to pay for it. Barack Obama can make promises that are good through 2012. Ditto the current Congress. After that, the promise becomes the business of a future, yet-to-be-elected, government – and I wouldn’t take a whole lot of bets that the Congress in 2012 or 2016 or 2020 is going to view Barack Obama’s promises from a previous decade seriously.

    As we’re seeing with the whole debt ceiling argument, the ability of one Congress to effectively bind a future Congress is pretty much dependent on that future Congress’ political will. Some bindings are hard to undo; it’s hard to take away a benefit from people. It’s very, very easy to take away a promise to pay for that benefit. Which would leave Mississippi in a terrible position; they don’t have the tax base to pay for such a major expansion of health benefits if the “ten years from now we’ll pay most of it!” promise doesn’t come through.

  47. 48
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I think it’s reasonable to discuss expanding the # of recipients of care only in the context of limiting what that care entails. Or, to paraphrase Clinton: when you ask “how will we pay for it in 10 years?” it depends on what your definition of “it” is.

    Medical recommendations aren’t designed to take into account issues of morality and economics. There’s always an inherent conflict between what is medically ideal for a group of patients, what is most moral, and what is most economically sound.

    When you just push for “medically ideal,” then you’re either heading for economic meltdown or you’re trying to insist that doctors make decisions that are outside their sphere of qualification. And I’m not saying it hasn’t happened, but I’m having trouble recollecting any discussion other than Viagra funding in which people here have come out against any particular medical procedure for any particular person on this board.

    I think that the realistic solution is going to be more similar to some of the old Communist stuff. As an example: you can make hip replacements a hell of a lot less expensive if you have an assembly line process, and if the government mass produces a line of standard hip joints, and if we have a couple of specialized groups of hip replacement docs who travel around doing procedures in hospitals around the country: they’ll swing through your state or metro area every 2 years or so.

    Great! Hips are now cheap, and more people who need hip replacements can get them. But of course it means that some people will need to spend a year in a wheelchair waiting for the docs to come to their state. And some people will get a hip that might not be perfectly well suited for them, back when there were more (vastly more expensive) hips on the market. And some people who would benefit from getting more personalized care than is provided by the traveling teams will suffer as a result.

    Nobody wants to be “just a number” when it comes to their own care, and nobody wants to be subject to bureaucratic rules when it comes to their own care. They all want to be individually considered and individually treated.

    But running a huge program like this requires that we think of people as fungible, at least at some level. And it requires that we don’t set up a system of exceptions, because absent some sort of fixed rule the costs of administering the system (and its internal fairness) break it down.

  48. 49
    Elusis says:

    Robert, is there any possibility of you conceding that “There’s nobody in Mississippi who does not have access to health care” is a statement that is either demonstrative of utter ignorance, or complete and total falsehood?

  49. 50
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Elusis says:
    May 12, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Robert, is there any possibility of you conceding that “There’s nobody in Mississippi who does not have access to health care” is a statement that is either demonstrative of utter ignorance, or complete and total falsehood?

    Answer Version 1: Everyone has access to health care. They just have to pay for it (if it’s voluntary,) or be able to get to the ER (if it’s emergent,) or qualify for it (if it’s state funded.) In this analysis, everyone also has access to the public highways (if they have a car,) the public colleges (if they can pay for it and if they can get in,) the public bus system (if they can afford a ticket,) and so on.

    Answer Version 2: Some people can’t pay for non-emergent health care. Or, they can pay for some health care but not all/most of the health care which they want. Therefore they don’t have “access to health care.”

    My money’s on Robert using definition #1, and you using definition #2.

    Still, #1 relies on availability of free emergent care. Although I don’t know how many people per year are denied emergent health care; I’m sure it’s nonzero. So Robert is probably wrong even if he uses #1.

  50. 51
    Robert says:

    Robert, is there any possibility of you conceding that “There’s nobody in Mississippi who does not have access to health care” is a statement that is either demonstrative of utter ignorance, or complete and total falsehood?

    Probably not, because it’s not really untrue. There’s a lot of charitable care in Mississippi, Medicaid operates, there are public health clinics, etc. “There are many people in Mississippi whose access to health care is very bad” is certainly true; “there are people in Mississippi with absolutely no access to health care” is certainly false.

    I’ve been to Mississippi many, many times; my grandmother and cousins live in one of the very poorest areas of the state, one that’s 90+% African-American. Many social conditions are highly sub-optimal, including health care, but I never step over bodies in the street. (And most of the black people I know there are much more concerned about economic opportunity and the lack thereof, than with increasing the amount of healthcare welfare.)

  51. 52
    chingona says:

    I actually thought about adding some sort of p.s. to that comment along the lines of “And Robert, we already know that your response to this is ‘too bad, so sad,’ so don’t feel like you need to explain what a horrible impingement of your liberty it is that this girl will be able to get a new hip.”

    I excerpted what I thought was more personally compelling, but at the link, the e-mail writer discusses the program in less personal ways as well, including polls that consistently show large majorities in Massachusetts — doctors and the public — continue to support Romneycare.

  52. 53
    Robert says:

    I excerpted what I thought was more personally compelling, but at the link, the e-mail writer discusses the program in less personal ways as well, including polls that consistently show large majorities in Massachusetts — doctors and the public — continue to support Romneycare.

    Great. I have no objection to the people in another state doing whatever they wish for their health care policies.

  53. 54
    Charles S says:

    g&w,

    I don’t see any particular reason to believe that the sort of rationing and limitation you suggest is necessary. 80% of the population has good health care access, and the remaining 20% has poor health care access (but they actually have better access for the most expensive stuff than they do for the less expensive stuff, since emergency care is provided independent of ability to pay, and expensive end of life care is predominantly already covered, since it predominantly happens to people covered by medicare and medicaid). So in order to provide good coverage to everyone, we need to spend somewhat less than an extra 25% of what we already spend on health care. That is not exactly going to break that bank, and anyway there are many ways of offsetting the cost of providing more and better care for more people besides increasing waiting times by 25% (although a 25% increase in wait times is still not going to produce a 2 year average wait time for a poorer quality hip replacement).

  54. 55
    RonF says:

    chigona:

    There are a lot of debates about whether these sorts of deals are worth it, but I’ve never seen it to be a particularly partisan issue. I think it’s simply incorrect to label this as something Democrats do and Repubicans don’t, or that liberals endorse and conservatives oppose.

    Democrats from President Obama on down continuously flog the GOP as the tool of big business and the rich who want to put a burden on ordinary Americans by giving them tax breaks. So when a state dominated by the Democrats does exactly that, I figure they should be called on it.

    nobody.really:

    Exactly right. Indeed, this is a very sound argument for reducing all taxes to 0 – or lower.

    I don’t see how. Perhaps you could explain.

    Oh, does government need revenues? Odd how rarely that comes up when conservative talk about taxes. It would be refreshing to hear some conservative say, “Let’s cut taxes. And if we need to stop enforcing property rights, well, so be it.” A boy can dream, I guess.

    Of course government needs revenues. Are you proposing that an conservatives have ever held differently? But of all the things that the Federal government does, why would conservatives want to promote stopping the enforcement of property rights? The defense of property rights is one of the most fundamental reasons for a government to exist – some would say THE fundamental reason.

    It’s of course true that the cities and States are reacting to the leverage that the larger corporations have. But we’re talking about a system of taxation here. It’s supposed to treat people and corporations in an equitable fashion. As the Democratic party repeatedly tells us, it’s not supposed to favor the wealthy and connected. The point I’m making with my argument is not that the State should ignore the obvious effects that lowering corporate taxes has on encouraging employment by large corporations. My argument is that they should make it equitable and extend it to small businesses as well.

    You say that they don’t give Joe’s Tires the same deal because they don’t know what effect it would have on Joe’s Tires? Their job is to represent Joe’s Tires – or more exactly, Joe, who lives in their district. It’s their job to figure this out. It’s their job to figure out that if 500 Joe’s Tires and Jill’s Bakery can each hire one more person it’s the same effect as if Middling Corporation hires 500 people.

    And this is not news. Sure, Motorola can send a couple dozen people to Springfield and buttonhole legislators and lobby them for tax breaks. Joe’s Tires can’t do that. But there have been plenty of economists and people from small business associations telling them this for years. It’s not the lack of information that keeps the politicans from helping out Joe’s Tires. It’s the lack of political contributions and lobbyist lunches that Joe’s Tires can’t hand out and media attention that they don’t get. It’s not information – it’s influence.

  55. 56
    Ampersand says:

    Dude, there are a zillion examples of mainstream Democrats being corporate tools. That’s not to excuse the Republicans, who are often as bad or worse, but I don’t think there’s any question that wealthy corporations have way too much influence over both major parties.

    I’m not endorsing the “there is no difference” opinion — Republicans are even worse than Democrats, which is really saying something — but both parties have too many bad apples in this regard.

  56. 57
    Myca says:

    Dude, there are a zillion examples of mainstream Democrats being corporate tools. That’s not to excuse the Republicans, who are often as bad or worse, but I don’t think there’s any question that wealthy corporations have way too much influence over both major parties.

    I think a broader point is that there are plenty of us on the left who have specific proposals to reduce the influence of corporate money on politics, all of which seem to be opposed by you on the right.

    I mean, talk is cheap, right? We can get into specifics if you like, but I believe that the influence of large corporations on our public policy and our political culture is absolutely toxic, and I have what I think are some answers to that, or at least starting places. What are your answers, Ron?

    —Myca

  57. 58
    Robert says:

    Myca, your answers always seem to end up crushing individual liberty at the same time as they (futilely attempt to) block corporate money. The left-wing answers always seem to be about stopping speech, forbidding people from doing things, blocking actions.

    Start presenting answers that empower individuals – whether those individuals are rich or poor, on the left or right – and you’ll get no pushback from conservatives.

    For example, Citizens United makes it legal for organized groups to engage in political speech. Why not push for laws that making it trivial for disorganized populations to form corporate entities for the purpose of fundraising and promulgating their message?

    It might help the credibility of the cause, by the way, if there was a little more recognition of the incentives provided to big business. When the government is everywhere and hugely powerful, no large entity in its right mind can afford to leave the government to the people. Congress makes decisions that are life and death for businesses – of COURSE those businesses are going to attempt to control Congress. Push the government out of the economy, and you remove the life-and-death criticality of corporate influence, and it will ebb.

  58. 59
    Ampersand says:

    Isn’t this a “goods in conflict” scenario?

    We can have perfect freedom of spending, where there are never any limits on corporate or personal donations to elections. Or we can have perfect democracy, where Bill Gates and the janitor at Microsoft are substantively equal citizens when it comes to elections. We can’t have both.

    (Actually, we can’t have either one — perfection is never available. But we can push towards one end or the other along the spectrum.)

  59. 60
    Robert says:

    It is, albeit made more rhetorically complex by the fact that all sides would like very much to think up schemes by which their voice is heard and the other sides are squelched.

    I’m in favor of freedom of speech, and don’t care how the speech comes out. Electrons are not a limited resource. I think it’s great if Exxon-Mobil spends fifty kajillion dollars producing documentaries on why oil is great and hippies should all be shunned, and I think it’s great if SEIU spends fifty kajillion dollars runnings ads about how capitalism is death and we should make fun of Bill Gates at cocktail parties.

  60. 61
    Charles S says:

    And, oddly enough, neither of those activities was restricted prior to Citizens United.

    You are in favor of SEIU and Mobil running unlimited candidate advertising during the last 2 months before the election, rather than only being allowed to run unlimited issue advertising.

  61. 62
    Charles S says:

    RonF,

    It’s their job to figure out that if 500 Joe’s Tires and Jill’s Bakery can each hire one more person it’s the same effect as if Middling Corporation hires 500 people.

    Middling Corporation isn’t planning to hire 500 people using the money from the tax cuts. Middling Corporation is threatening to fire or move 500 people out of state unless they get the profits from a tax cut, or Middling Corporation is dangling the possibility of moving 500 jobs into the state in exchange for the profit of a tax cut. Even if Middling Corp is opening a new plant, they are dangling the possibility that they will open it in IL instead of OR if they get a more profitable tax cut from IL than OR is offering, they aren’t deciding whether or not they should open a new plant based on a tax cut. Jane’s Auto Repair and Joe’s Bakery can’t make a credible threat of moving out of state, as the demand for auto repair in IL is relatively stable. If Jane moves to OR and starts a new business, that is a huge cost for her, and not much cost for IL , as her customers will just move to another auto repair shop, which will benefit from the additional business. So Jane has nothing with which to threaten IL or to tempt OR to give her a tax break.

    The extra profit that Middling Corp extorts from IL doesn’t benefit IL, it just saves IL from the harm of losing Middling Corp entirely.

    Small businesses will or won’t expand based on how they are doing, not on the rate of net profit of the owner. If an owner gets a tax cut, and therefore makes a little more money, there is no reason to believe they will plow that money back into the business, and any money the owner is plowing back into the business has generally not been taxed (except in states with gross receipts taxes, which are usually extremely low- OR has a rate of 0.15 on gross above $500,000). If a small business owner is making $100k on $million gross receipts, and they pay $20k in taxes, even if they got a 100% tax credit, that would only be a $20 k improvement in their $1 million gross business, even assuming they put all of that back into the business (and why would they? They could have put $20k into the business instead of taking it as profit and had an income of $80k, had they had something related to the business where spending an extra $20k (2% of their annual gross) would have been of high value. And that is assuming a 100% tax holiday for the personal income of small business owners.

    Yes, state governments should do a better job of holding together and not allowing corporations to play them off against each other in a race to the bottom. No, state governments should not balance the disaster of tax cut extortion by the larger companies by giving tax cuts to small businesses.

  62. 63
    chingona says:

    Thanks, Charles. That’s exactly what I was getting at.

  63. 64
    Robert says:

    Instead, they should level the playing field by cutting out all business taxes, which is the economically rational solution.

  64. 65
    Robert says:

    You are in favor of SEIU and Mobil running unlimited candidate advertising during the last 2 months before the election, rather than only being allowed to run unlimited issue advertising.

    Indeed, and even more in favor of them not having to worry about what the difference is. Is an expose of Candidate X’s criminal history a candidate ad, or an issue ad? How about a discussion of what a giant hippie Candidate X is, sandwiched between two hours of hippie bashing? Etc., etc.

    I am always and everywhere in favor of more political speech, and having a government abjectly helpless to stop it.

  65. 66
    nobody.really says:

    Recap on public finance:

    1. Different kinds of taxes may create different incentives. The theory of Ramsey Pricing suggests that the tax that distorts behavior least is the tax that a person cannot easily avoid, even by altering his behavior. Think of a per capita (“head”) tax, or the dues for a club. But what do you do about people who cannot afford to pay?

    2. Thus we tend to design taxes to be assessed against those who can afford to pay. How? Typically we design taxes based on some measure of income, profit or wealth.

    3. But these taxes CAN be avoided, at least to some extent, by altering your behavior. Thus an income tax creates a disincentive to earn income within the jurisdiction of the taxing authority; a property tax creates and disincentive to own property within the jurisdiction of the taxing authority. Thus, we face a trade-off between raising revenues for government services and raising tax rates that will distort people’s behavior, often in unproductive ways.

    4. (Ok, sometimes we design taxes for the PURPOSE of distorting behavior, e.g., an excise tax. Think of taxes on cigarettes, or a speeding ticket, or the cost of pollution allowances in a cap-and-trade regulatory scheme. A well-designed excise tax can actually improve economic efficiency by making people bear more of the cost of their decisions. But for most governments these taxes don’t raise a very large percentage of revenues.)

  66. 67
    nobody.really says:

    RonF observes that Democrats behave hypocritically when they grumble about Republican corporate welfare policies, yet also engage in such policies in pursuit of economic development. This may be a fair point; I don’t know to what extent Illinois’ governor criticized corporate welfare policies.

    Putting aside the issue of hypocrisy, is this kind of corporate welfare sound public policy? Well, what are the options?

    1. Pursue economic development: Engage in corporate welfare in the hopes of retaining/building jobs from a specific large employer or industry.

    2. Pursue equality: Do nothing, and risk (perhaps nigh unto certainty) that a big employer will leave.

    3. Pursue both: Give the big corporations what they want, but give the same deals to everyone else, too.

    I can’t say how to evaluate any of these policies without also considering their necessary consequences. In particular, what do we do when government has less revenue? Which other taxes do we raise? Or which services do we cut?

    I can’t think of the last time I heard someone suggest that we need to reduce taxes, and thus reduce some government benefit FOR HERSELF. I like to suggest to people that maybe government should reduce taxes and stop spending so many resources defending property rights. Not surprisingly, people who own property (myself included) generally don’t favor this proposal.

    For what its’ worth, This American Life just did a story about the challenges of government policies pursuing jobs, jobs, jobs.

  67. 68
    Robert says:

    I think we need to reduce taxes and eliminate my future social services benefits. There ya go.