Prophets of Socialist Doom In Joplin Look Kind Of, Well, Silly

Every now and then, I find it necessary to remind the locals how silly it was to get out the Magic Marker or the paint and create the following signs, then carry them to Tea Party rallies in Joplin in 2009, 2010, and 2011:

joplin tea party 2009

joplin tea party 2009 2

joplin tea party 2010

joplin tea party 2011

One of the reasons, among many, that creating and carrying these signs to rallies here in Joplin was a silly idea can be found on today’s front page of USA Today:

usa today stock market

Look at that big green box above. I repeat its contents:

$12.8 TRILLION

Amount of new STOCK WEALTH produced in the broad market since the March 9, 2009, low, or a 155% gain in the Wilshire 5000.

Now, as I have said many times before, if Barack Obama is a socialist, he has had, so far, a scandalous career, even though, as right-wing conspiracy theorists will tell ya, there is still time for him to turn us into Venezuela (at the moment, it looks like turning us into “Greece” was a bust, so Venezuela it is!).

In the mean time, the rich get richer and the rest of America gets, well, whatever’s left, as Republicans in Congress refuse to address the plight of the middle class and poor in these United States.

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37 Comments

  1. King Beauregard

     /  May 29, 2013

    And of course the question needs to be asked again and again: how many of these protesters are opposed to federal relief funds?

    I’m going to put on my Tea Partier hat and, as a not-Jopliner, and speak to them in the tones they would use on others: how many years does it take for you to rebuild your community anyway? How much money should I be forced to sink into your town? I’m pretty sure that not all my money has gone to tornado repairs, so when can I expect you to pay me back? I lived through a tornado and it wasn’t so bad.

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  2. As shown in your revealing photos, Duane, the Tea Party is obviously more about emotion than intellect. What a shame that the real causes of our overspending are not better understood, and principal among them the issue of healthcare. Solving that alone would come close to balancing the budget but the Tea Party prefers to blame “socialism”. If they would only carry the thought just a little farther and ask, for example, okay, you want to cancel the hated ObamaCare? What are you going to replace it with? Huh? You want to eliminate funding under parents’ insurance for kids in college? You want to eliminate funding for pre-existing conditions? What will healthcare look like in this country then? Huh? Man, it makes me want to upchuck.

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    • Yep, Jim. What would we replace it with? Remember when Republicans in Congress were chanting, “Repeal and replace”? These days the replace is a null set of proposals.

      And I note with some trepidation that health care costs are trending downward, even though no one is quite sure of all the causes. I suspect that a lot of it has to do with cost-shifting. Because of the move away from traditional plans (and this particular trend started long before ObamaCare), with relatively low deductibles and co-pays, into high-deductible, almost catastrophic-based plans, more folks are either foregoing needed medical treatment or paying the cost out of pocket.

      My daughter, who works for a school system in Arizona (she has a Master’s degree for which she is still paying), has seen her medical plan disintegrate into essentially nothing much more than a plan to keep her out of bankruptcy, should she or her daughter have a major illness. The rest, the doctor’s visits, medicine, etc., that she might need over the course of a year falls on her and her always-shrinking income. (In Scottsdale where she teaches, she has seen her pay get cut over the last four years or so because the residents refuse to pass a bond issue for the schools, and the stingy state government, controlled by wealthy interests in the Republican Party, refuse to adequately fund the school systems. Thus, she gets a double-whammy: salary cuts and rising out-of-pocket health care expenses. This, in a microcosm, is what is happening to much of America, by the way, and why the middle class is struggling. And it is why ObamaCare should have been much more ambitious and included a public option.)

      In other words, we are seeing a downward trend in health care costs, but I suspect it is more for the reason illustrated by the plight of my daughter and granddaughter than the effects of the Affordable Care Act or any other factor. I am sure the ACA has had some overall positive effect, but mostly what we are seeing now, in my humble opinion, is just shifting the costs onto the health consumer, most of whom can’t afford to go to the doctor unless they are gravely sick.

      Duane

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      • You describe it accurately in my opinion, Duane, and bad as it is now, the real impact has yet to be felt as the two mighty trends gather steam, the graying of the Boomer generation and the obesity epidemic. If I were a younger investor I think I’d be looking at some of the peripheral healthcare sectors like OTC drugs and elder-assist equipment. Gobs of growth potential!

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  3. ansonburlingame

     /  May 29, 2013

    To all,

    $12 Trillion in “new wealth”!! Who received most of that wealth I wonder? What percentage of that new wealth went to the top 1%, I wonder.

    Now go pass all the laws you liberals call for and see how much “new wealth” is created in the stock market in the future.

    Check out the cartoon on the opinion page of today’s (Wed.) Globe and consider (the Apple cartoon)

    Come campaign 2014 (OMG can we …… it?) I wonder what such signs may read, tomorrow?

    Anson

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    • Yeah, you’re right, Anson. If we taxed those wealthy folks’ capital gains at the same rate as Joe the Postal Worker’s earnings gets taxed, why, why, why, that would send the Dow Jones plummeting!
      Therefore, let the rich get richer or otherwise they will take their toys and go to Singapore.

      Duane

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  4. N.Michael Barrows

     /  May 29, 2013

    Great post Duane, but if I read the following quote from Anson correctly; “Now go pass all the laws you liberals call for and see how much “new wealth” is created in the stock market in the future.” perhaps the article should be titled differently:

    “No Laws Passed Since 2009; Creates Increase of $12.8 Trillion in New Stock Wealth”

    Or maybe Anson meant something else with his quote.

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  5. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that the increase in the value of stocks is not the only thing that represents wealth in this country. At the same time that the market has seen this increase, we’ve had massive losses in the value of people’s homes, a decrease or at best a flattening of real wages, a huge increase in the gap between rich and poor, etc. I’M not doing any better. In fact, while Wall Street is throwing this big party, I’ve lost my house and my IRA, and am forced to continue self-employment beyond the point where I had hoped to retire. There are millions like me, and while we don’t blame it on the President, we know who’s getting rich and who’s not and will remember come next November!

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  6. The exchange between you, Duane, and Anson pretty well describes the differences in the two parties regarding finance and economics.

    The conservatives are pretty much “I’ve got mine, I’m going to do everything I can to keep it, and good luck to the rest of you schmucks who haven’t got yours yet!” , I think. They firmly believe, at heart, that they “have theirs” solely because of intelligence and hard work, and they are firmly convinced that the major reason the rest of the schmucks don’t “have theirs” is because they lack intelligence and don’t want to work hard. They believe this, not because they are evil or mean (mostly), but because they believe their own internally generated press releases, and they have very little ability to empathize with anyone else and their position, their experience. They believe that their own “success” story really applies to everyone else, and that lack of success in others is probably due to some fault in the others. That they are OK with the top 1% having the percentage of wealth they do has to do with this model of “intelligence and hard work”, and they wouldn’t want someone who didn’t “deserve” it to have that kind of wealth (excepting, of course, those inheriting wealth from intelligent and hard-working progenitors – that’s OK).

    I base these remarks on many, many conversations with conservative family, friends, and fellow workers. I, too, am a converted conservative. I have noticed the lack of empathy as a general characteristic in such individuals – it’s not that they cannot understand that differences exist, and that these differences can cause profoundly different outcomes. They just cannot see that the assistance they had from family, government, friends, work associates, and luck count for much in their own “success narrative”. Therefore, they discount assistance, and don’t want to give it to others – it wasn’t necessary for them, they think, so it really isn’t necessary for others, a cost we really shouldn’t have to bear.

    Those with a more liberal bent can see someone who is struggling and think “that could easily have been (or could be) me. I can, and should, help.” Given that we humans (and perhaps dolphins, whales, and some other mammals) are the only sentient lifeforms we have discovered within light years of our planet, maybe, just maybe, we should help each other succeed. Maybe we should take the long view. look at the bigger picture.

    Unregulated capitalism doesn’t lead us to that view. Neither, I think, does conservatism.

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  7. Anonymous

     /  May 29, 2013

    I saw a statistic on the news a couple days ago, it said that 1/3 of the US population makes $ 24,000 or less. If this trend continues I do believe the civil war that many seem to want will come true or at the very least we will have a very dangerous society. This will get very confusing around SW Mo. Who does a poor, gun toting Tea Bagger shoot first?

    Kabe

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  8. ansonburlingame

     /  May 30, 2013

    To all,

    Ok, let’s start with “intelligence and hard work”. How many in the top say 10% of wealth in America are in the bottom 50% of the IQ curve, I wonder. I don’t think it is a political preference to say that smarter people earner more money, as a matter of at least opinion, but probably backed up with some facts as well.

    Now for “hard work”. I wonder how many of the top 10% (or whatever level of income you choose to count) sit home and play video games, etc. Generally speaking people that routinely show up and work hard, to the best of their abilities, day in and day out, make more money than people that are “lazy”.

    The American Dream that I was introduced to by my parents was one of work to the best of your ability, beginning in schools and from there on in your adult life, and you may well do “better than we have been able to do (my parents)”. One generation improves beyond the limits of a previous generation.

    It happened for me and in turn it happend for my two kids, both of whom have gone far beyond anything that I accomplished in my professional years. They, my kids, did not get any advantages by cutting corners, relying on “empathy” from anyone. They EARNED where they are today (in their mid to late 40’s) by applying themselves, consistently, and doing the best they can with the tools they have.

    As I recall, Duane’s youngest son is entering his senior year in HS this fall. I observed him ONE time, long ago in a middle school class. He stood out in my mind because he had some “sense”, behaved himself, asked good questions, etc. I suspect he does fine in school and applies himself with some dilgence day in and day out, based on only ONE observation in a roudy class 6 or so years ago.

    I also well remember a few “hoodlums” in that class. I wonder how they stack up today, as new seniors in HS, if they even have made it THAT far?

    But I agree, it is not just “intelligence and hard work” that determines one’s position in life as an adult. Ulitmately it boils down to CHOICES made along the way. Now would anyone like to argue about the difference between good and bad choices. One cannot just wait until they actually enter adulthood to begin that process either. Make a bad choice not to learn multiplication tables long ago and I bet you will struggle with math the rest of your life, just as a simple example.

    Will you ultimately fail if you cannot mulitply numbers together. No, not a guarantee for sure. But if you “blow off” other subjects in you education, well the accumulation of such mistakes will certainly put you on the path for “less than” in your later life. Can you turn it around, later on? Sure you can, but that is HARD to do, learn good habits to replace bad ones, after you become an adult for sure.

    Yesterday, in a meeting with about 30 people, one woman was crying, terribly, because of domestic abuse. She reported that she had lost 30% of her sight in one eye because she was beaten by a man with whom she lived. Choices, individual choices make big differences. Sure I have all the empathy in the world for that woman and hope the man gets what is coming to him as well, legally. But a fist to one’s head, while a choice by the man did not START that process to lossing 30% of the sight in one eye, either.

    And don’t you dare say I am blaming a victim either.

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  May 30, 2013

      You aren’t blaming this one victim this one time. Happy?

      But on the balance, to hear you tell it, intelligence / hard work / choices assure a person of a good station in life … the not so subtle implication being that, if you’re poor, it must be because you are failing in at least one of those three departments. Which is to say, Anson, you ARE blaming the victim in a great many cases.

      The many many factors that contribute to the syndrome of poverty could take books to address — and in fact they do — but here are just a few to consider that are out of any individual’s control:

      – As of the other year, the biggest factor in bankruptcies was medical bills … not sloth, not poor mortgage decisions, but the basic fragility of the human condition under a medical system that can break a person. And just a reminder, Anson, your team has done absolutely nothing to try to improve the situation (and you may save your moaning about medical costs under Obamacare, because Obamacare is already starting to bring costs under control).

      – Real wages have been declining since the 1970s, meaning that people have to work harder and harder just to keep pace.

      – A lousy job market, where specialized (and expensive) training is likely than ever to translate into a job.

      – If you can’t afford a car in reliable working order, good luck holding down a job. This is especially brutal on people who start out with nothing and are trying to make something of themselves.

      I really should know by now that, when there’s a wall of text start starts with “To all” and ends with “Anson”, what fills the space between will be regurgitations of conservative ideology with (what certainly appears to be) a deliberate attempt to disconnect that ideology from actual real world conditions.

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  9. ansonburlingame

     /  May 30, 2013

    And when anything written by “King” is found, well we all know you have your sentiments in line with Duane’s.

    Let me put it this way, King. Have you ever found someone half way through adult hood that made GOOD choices all along the way and wound up in the “ditch” through NO FAULT of their own? A kid in HS is a “hoodlum” and there are a helluva lot of them in just about any public HS around the country today. Just go watch for a few days and you will see them cropping up all over the place.

    Parents blame teachers, teachers blame parents, etc. but “hoodlums” abound. And for damn sure the kids themselves will NEVER accept the responsibility when someone calls them on their crap. Nope it is the one calling them on crap that are to blame, right!!!

    Now take those later drop outs or ones finishing up in the botton 50% of HS classes and track their records later on into adulthood. For damn sure you will NEVER find a top 10% in that group unless some miracle happens later on. And government will not change that outcome by a whit, in my view.

    As well, I would find it VERY interesting to check out the life long academic records of K12 teachers. How many of them were bottom 50% in HS and bottom 50% in college as well? My guess, and it is only a guess, is the numbers or percentages of people that failed to achieve high standards in K12 and college, wind up teaching our kids today. I have at least one current teacher that agrees with that sentiment, not “scientific analysis” or statistics.

    I have personally observed some K12 teachers that would be stretched to achieve a grade of “proficient” themselves on a statewide exam for 11th graders in the subjects that they actually teach!! Just ONE that might fall into such a category should of course not be teaching, in my view. But we will never know for sure, will we. After all we don’t test teachers today, do we? Hell we don’t even monitor them, carefully, in their classrooms. We just wait for some major calamity to happen and then parade out their annual evaluations to “prove” how good they really are!!!

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  May 30, 2013

      I have never met anyone whose every choice was perfect, but I have met PLENTY of people who have trouble getting ahead even though they’re making overall good choices. And again, the number one thing that has been putting people in ditches of late has been health care. If a family loses their home because their kid got cancer, are you going to say they made the wrong call by trying to help their kid survive?

      While it’s true that successful people very reliably have intelligence, good choices, and hard work on their side, you can also find those three in good supply among people who, say, couldn’t go to college, or came from families that couldn’t give them any help when they were young and getting started. Or just happened to be born in a place without many opportunities.

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  10. ansonburlingame

     /  May 31, 2013

    King,

    Without going into a lot of personal details, I do in fact spend considerable time each week with people that WERE “less than” in many ways. Some have remained mired in that stigma and have not been able to change their ways enough to become producers in society to much of any degree. But others through great effort on their own part have reversed their lives, almost 180 degrees and become……. (try good, really good people in society).

    JOBS are in fact available in Joplin and always have been. No they do not pay well at all, but they are a START. All that is needed is the willingness to pound the pavement long enough, swallow one’s pride to simply find a position in which to WORK, and then progress UP the social ladder in time.

    No one can or should expect to live comfortably and freely with a minimum wage job for example for a “career”. But if one lacks the educational background or “resume” to get work other than minimum wage, then at least such positions are a start to a better life. Get such a job, work hard and progress will result, by and large. But just do “average” work in a minumum wage job, well if you ran a business would you promote someone to higher wages for such “average performance”? If you did so, you would not stay in business for very long.

    Now back to the first paragraph. One of the key characteristics of folks that begin to try to pull their lives together is the sense of being victims when they begin that journey. I did such and so because……… And while all those dots, excuses if you will, are related to people, places and things outside of themselves. My wife, my boss, my …… made me do it is traditionally and routinely a reason why bad things happened. Dispelling that sense of victimhood and learning to look within for the faults that we all have is one of the first and most important steps to a better life and I have seen it work, many many times for a vast number of folks.

    GOVERNMENT cannot and never does force such “soul searching” at the individual level.

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  May 31, 2013

      So that’s a yes then? If your kid gets cancer and you go bankrupt trying to save his life, that’s an example of a bad choice?

      I know you didn’t actually say that, but then again you have once again sidestepped the real-world complexities that put the lie to conservative ideology, so I’m pressing you on the point even harder. To hear you tell it, people just choose to remain poor, plain and simple … which is fine except for all the times it doesn’t work that way.

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  11. I’m a little late to the conversation here, but I don’t have much to add anyway. I do have a suggestion though. Republicans should become Christians.

    As I understand the teachings of Jesus, feeding the poor and healing the sick were two of the most important pillars of his ministry. Ergo, if Republicans became Christian — and I mean true believers, not just in name only — then those Republicans elected to office would insure, by virtue of their dedication to Christ, that our nation would have a robust set of laws that helped the poor and that provided health care to all of our citizens.

    If they fail to do that, then St. Peter is going to have a serious talk with them before letting them in the Pearly Gates; that is, if they get in at all.

    I’m just saying . . . .

    Herb

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  12. ansonburlingame

     /  May 31, 2013

    Ok King,

    I tried to make a more general point about fixing yourself before blaming others for your failures. But you press me on health care and I will respond.

    I have several friends that are good people but have no health care insurance, none at all, simply because they cannot afford such insurance. Of course I don’t think that is a good situation and the matter must be resolved, somehow. But I readily admit as well that I have yet to see a good solution to that problem either, good for all Americans. Nor do I have such a universal solution as well, myself. But I do try to eat that elephant, one bite at a time, pragmatically, with a view to the needs of Americans, universally, not just anecdotally for individuals. That is what government is supposed to do, in my view, as well.

    Note I said I knew a few people without HC insurance, at least of the catastrophic sort because they could not afford it. But I also know many with no HC insurance because it was less important to budget for such than other things. THAT is not a government problem it is a bad individual choice, in my view.

    But we fail miserably to deal with the REAL problem in HC. ALL HC for anyone costs to damn much money? Why and what can be done about such a situation. I hope you agree that ACA does NOTING to solve that key problem and universal HC only deals with it through government rationing which never works over the long haul as well in any society.

    Would you EVER shop in a grocery store that failed to post prices on each item on the shelves? You just got what you thought you needed, went to the checkout counter and took the merchandise home, paying for it or not. After all, should there not be a law that every gets to have food???

    Is not that exactly the situation in the HC industry today, no prices posted and hard to find even if you ask beforehand. Doctor says, “You need an MRI”. Try asking him “How much does an MRI cost and what are the consequences if I can’t afford to have one”. Dr. say “I have no idea, but you can call Mercy to find out, maybe” to the first question. As to the second answer, “Really bad pain” if you don’t get an MRI and let him find out what, maybe but no refunds if the MRI does not reveal the source, then you face……

    Now for cancer? What can I do today to remain cancer free? Not a lot of people ask themselves that question and really do something about it to change their lifestyles now do they?

    Now how about Granma with a new diagnosis of cancer. My first question is how old is Granma and how long might she expect to live if full up cancer treatment is successful? What kind of qualtiy of life will she have both during and after the treatment? I don’t believe many Granma’s ask that question themselves nor do their families. They just pray to God to “fix it” (in some cases) and go for the full treatment, no matter what it costs and expect someone else to deal with the cost. After all, who wants to blame a victim of cancer?

    Another example. Granma has cancer and only lives on existence level means. BUT the “kids” have “made it” with lots of money. Those kids will DEMAND that Medicare pay for the full load of treatment, no questions asked and some of them will scream to high heaven if you raise the wage cap for Medicare taxation, right?

    Finally, let’s take some cases of Medicade. Poor person applies for and receives Medicade. Now go home with that person and really see how they live, including other entitlements supporting such lifestyles. Sure there are SOME today living in “tar paper shacks”, etc. But…….

    You see King, I have no universal solutions to fix all HC issues. But neither does anyone else that fits the needs, universally of all Americans, either. We need to keep looking, hard at that problem of HC in America today, all aspects of the problem. When the need is really there to sustain reasonable quality of life, then we have the money to deal with it. But I don’t think we as a nation have the means to deal with sustaining all human life at all costs, all the time for everyone.

    And if government forces the cost to HC down to such a level where everyone can sustain life, no matter what, for a while at least, well then go find HC providers willing to work for such returns and how hard they will work before becoming HC providers before they start to earn “minimum HC wages” whatever that may be.

    So who gets to make such decisions to sustain life, for everyone, all the time, for a while. THAT is impossible for government to do so but individuals have been doing so since humans walked the earth.

    Anson

    PS: Herb, FAR TOO MANY in the GOP think they are Christians and expect everyone to do as the say, not as they do!!! Far too many liberals disavow Christian actions (both Old and New Testament actions, depending!) and demand someone else pay to be “Christian-like”!!!

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    • King Beauregard

       /  May 31, 2013

      “I tried to make a more general point about fixing yourself before blaming others for your failures.”

      Of course you did, because your ideology is best with generalities. When it comes to real-world circumstances, though, it misses all the details and nuances that get in the way of neat and tidy solutions.

      So you’re not willing to answer whether saving your cancer-stricken kid’s life is a mistake or not. Such a simple question, and the answer should be simple as well, yet you’re acting like I’m trying to lead you into a trap.

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  13. ansonburlingame

     /  May 31, 2013

    Saving my cancer-ridden kid’s life at all costs, paid for by others is NOT my solution if I had that problem, period. No way. And if I get cancer now at my age, I have stimpulated, legally what I WANT done to or for me as well. And it is not preserved my own life, no matter what the costs, for sure.

    Is THAT clear enough, on a personal level.

    You on the other hand DEMAND that government force ME to pay for YOUR cancer-ridden kid, and for you as well, not matter what, right?

    Well King, I MIGHT help pay for your kid, maybe, but you,……… Go ask Duane for the money!!

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  May 31, 2013

      “Saving my cancer-ridden kid’s life at all costs, paid for by others is NOT my solution if I had that problem, period.”

      That also means you don’t believe in private medical insurance. Wow.

      But even with that, you’re changing the topic, trying to avoid the trap you are certain I’ve laid. The question was whether people who lose their houses to pay their kids’ medical bills are making an irresponsible mistake. Should I put you down for “yes” then?

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  14. ansonburlingame

     /  June 1, 2013

    King,

    You keep trying to get me to sound crazy and I keep giving you my own straight forward, personal views on how I would deal, personally with given tragic situations.

    Pay for kids medical bills or lose my home? THAT is not a reasonable option. IF. you incur huge medical costs, file for bankruptcy. Personal bankruptcy does NOT take away one’s home. You might well lose your car, have to pay down debt over time, etc., etc. but you won’t lose your home, unless of course you can no longer pay for your mortgage and thus enter foreclosure, unrelated to you child’s medical condition. Check the laws.

    Sometimes life piles on with huge burdens. In most cases such burdens accumulate over time. If families actually try hard to live within their own means, including setting aside some “rainy day funds” as well, then the ultimate choices become less burdensome. But live beyond one’s means, including receiving legal entitlements, then such terrible choices are diminished.

    Bottom line is of course I want to help the truly needed, people that are on the edge of……. through no fault of their own. But you and I will NEVER agree on what …… means, exactly and how much money and in what form must be freely given to such people to move above ….. as well.

    You can try until the cows come home to paint me as a greedy, uncaring, I got mine and screw you conservative but that is NOT me, personally. Jane Reaction has tried to do so for some years now on this blog but he, she or it is wrong in such assessments. Even Duane, while arguing with me “forever” on policy positions, has yet to try such personal attacks against me and my own choices in life, that I can recall at least.

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  June 1, 2013

      What a strange paragraph, where you say that you can’t lose your house over medical bills unless of course you can’t pay the mortgage … took you long enough to get there. Now that you understand that — you just wrote it, you must understand it — does paying for medical treatments and missing house payments constitute fiscal irresponsibility?

      I cite medical issues specifically, by the way, because they have been the number one reason people lose their homes. I didn’t opt for some oddball hypothetical, I went for the leading cause of foreclosures.

      http://works.bepress.com/christopher_robertson/2/


      Half of all respondents (49%) indicated that their foreclosure was caused in part by a medical problem, including illness or injuries (32%), unmanageable medical bills (23%), lost work due to a medical problem (27%), or caring for sick family members (14%). We also examined objective indicia of medical disruptions in the previous two years, including those respondents paying more than $2,000 of medical bills out of pocket (37%), those losing two or more weeks of work because of injury or illness (30%), those currently disabled and unable to work (8%), and those who used their home equity to pay medical bills (13%). Altogether, seven in ten respondents (69%) reported at least one of these factors.

      You are doing this extended dance where you refuse to answer a simple question. And by the way, the point of the question is not to make you look greedy or uncaring; the point, ever since the beginning here, has been to challenge your bromide about hard work and good choices leading to success. It’s great when that happens, but it is by no means a guarantee.

      Simple question, Anson, and you’re not going to wall-of-text your way out of it, nor are you going to change the topic away from it. You COULD try answering the question directly, but that puts you in a bind where either you concede your worldview is overly simplistic (at least on this topic) or you reveal yourself to be greedy and uncaring. That’s not a “trap”, though; it’s a sign you need to rethink what you believe in because it doesn’t hold up.

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  15. ansonburlingame

     /  June 1, 2013

    You present a simple choice. Pay my mortgage or pay my medical bills. I cannot do both. Solution. Pay my mortgage and file for bankruptcy to remove the burden of paying for medical bills.

    But IF I am already in the situation of being “stretched” to pay my mortgage, well go into foreclosure and find a smaller place to rent a home (public housing or even a homeless shelter, if needed). THEN when a medical situation hits at the same time, ………

    Our current safety net, a very expensive one, always keeps a shelter for everyone, food on the table and the availability of HC. No, the roof, or food or HC might not be what anyone wants, but at least it is there for everyone, at least American citizens and maybe a host of “others” as well.

    Choices, tough choices are best resolved by individuals, not government trying to relieve anyone of having to make such tough choices.

    AB

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    • King Beauregard

       /  June 1, 2013

      “You present a simple choice. Pay my mortgage or pay my medical bills. I cannot do both. Solution. Pay my mortgage and file for bankruptcy to remove the burden of paying for medical bills.”

      What??? Just because you have declared bankruptcy doesn’t mean you get free medical care forever. Emergency room visits, sure, but not ongoing regimens of treatment.

      This doesn’t even get into the immorality of making everyone else pay for your kid’s medical treatment, per what you said a post or two back. Now you are championing immorality?

      If you have to do this much dodging to deal with a very straightforward question — one that all too many Americans have had to deal with — you should take it as a sign that your position is indefensible. So I’m going to answer the question FOR you: you DON’T think it’s irresponsible to save your kid’s life, even if it means losing the house; but you can’t admit that or else your conservative worldview stands exposed as junk. You must hate having to champion junk all the time.

      Now, here’s why you should love Obamacare to death: for some time now, Obamacare has rendered my question moot. Didn’t you know? Children are no longer subject to pre-existing conditions; parents are obligated to pay premiums for their kids, but insurers are obligated to cover treatments. Yes, this does play into the immorality of private insurance which you were railing against a couple posts ago, but it’s not as immoral as your “dump all costs on everyone else” proposal … but more than anything, Obamacare means that you have an answer to this question that doesn’t make you look greedy or uncaring. Or would have, anyway, if you’d gone there.

      Like

      • You have made a valiant effort in this debate, King B, but when your opponent is unable to question any fundamentals in his rationale, then your task is Sisyphean. In this case it includes a disagreement about the basic nature of people and also about what the structure of a civilized society ought to look like. Anson’s view seems to be that people are inherently lazy and irresponsible, and I have to admit I can see how the current state of education and the “war on drugs” seems to support such a view. On the other hand, there are examples of how competent social management can solve such things with, for example charter schools and treatment programs.

        Should everyone in society be guaranteed a certain minimum, and I stress minimum, security in the basics, in food, clothing, shelter and, dare I say it, healthcare? If that isn’t possible then we are little better than animals and I refuse to accept that. And even Anson admits that seemingly small decisions early in life can have huge consequences later on. Knowing that, how can we as a society leave it all to chance?

        There is one issue in this thread that is especially troublesome. It is the notion that healthcare is a commodity subject to market forces. It mostly isn’t and therefore the moral argument over its affordability is specious. Hospital chargemasters have no basis other than greed and to charge the uninsured vastly inflated prices is immoral and unnecessary. Nobody can afford to shop for healthcare in a health crisis and they shouldn’t be expected to. If we had the public option, they wouldn’t. And not only that, but the potential cost savings of the public option are so enormous that the savings could balance the budget.

        I saw a glimmer of hope on healthcare costs a week or so ago when HHS released some hospital chargemaster lists for price comparison to the public. One could almost hear a collective gasp from the Healthcare Industrial Complex. Unfortunately the release was in the form of an unmanageably large spreadsheet, but some data was already leaking out about wildly differing charges at different hospitals. It just might be a leak in the dam.

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  16. ansonburlingame

     /  June 1, 2013

    ” Anson’s view seems to be that people are inherently lazy and irresponsible”.

    You might as well have said “all people”, Jim. But of course neither phrase reflects my REAL view of life on life’s terms encountered by all people. Some people are truly heroic and yet face terrible situations, almost exclusively through no fault of their own. I would NEVER back away from providing a safety net for such people and you should know better than to imply I feel otherwise.

    IF we provided such a safety net and only such a safety net, for people that hit a wall so to speak despite their best efforts, then we would not be arguing about the issue. At least I would not so argue. But you know as well as I do that there is a “ton” of waste, fraud and abuse perpetrated by some real “slugs” out there. Yes, some of them are “learned and rich people”. Throw the book at them for sure. And if you have to subpoena some records, legally to do so, well do it. Prosecute criminals, period, legally.

    But what about “faking a bad back”? I hope you know what I mean by that. Use every excuse in the world to get as much money as possible from government, your employer, your neighbor, your doctor, etc. Hello litigation and go for the golden ring every chance you get. Maybe that is not illegal, but it sure as hell is immoral, trying to prise your own way out of the ways of others. Is that too vague for you to understand?

    YOU linked my underlying concerns to education and you are spot on in doing so. “I DESERVE A DIPLOMA” is the call, with parents part of the “I’, meaning for their kids. Few, far too few WORK for an education today. Sure some do, maybe 20% or so of a given public schools graduating class that had to give it their best, truly, But my God, the numbers that simply “coast” and expect…….. And teachers give passing grades for “coasting”. Now what the hell kind of society does that produce? Yep, you see it right before us today.

    We do not have, exactly, an “entitlement society” today. We have an “I expect……” society. And those mirade expectations are routinely placed on OTHER PEOPLE not individuals themselves.

    I may not express such views clearly enough to doubters of such views. But I have lived my life, my kids have lived their lives, and I hope to God my grand kids live their lives with far more expectations of themselves than expectations for others. I EXPECTED to get good grades IF I worked and studied to get a good grade. NEVER did I receive a bad grade because the teacher GAVE me a bad, underservedly, grade. Not once in about 48 years of education, meaning my professional years plus K12, college and postgraduate education years.

    Did YOU ever get a “bad” fitness report, one that you did not deserve? I never got such nor wrote one on another man. I got and they got from me what they earned. And every “good” assignment or even official promotion, in the Navy or as a civilian I received because I did a damned good job. And then I didn’t do a “damn good job” as a civilian and suffered the consequences as well, late in my professional life. I “peter principled out” and could not sell much of anything. But run something, a damned good ship or nuclear facility, yes I did and the results were equally forthcoming as a result. In other words I received what I earned, good or bad. And I dished out praise or condemnation to everyone associated with me, subordinates, according to just such standards. Color of skin, background, you name it, meant NOTHING to me when I evaluated others. It was performance, performance, performance.

    Why can’t MOST reasonable people do that and stop blaming others for their lack of……? Look very carefully within before launching a triade against others is my call. And when one does so be VERY honest on the appraisal of the “within” part and seek some good outside help to validate your own views as well.

    That is not a political view or question by the way. It is one of human nature.

    Oh, by the way, my classmates and I are in a deep discussion over “sex in the military” right now. Solution? Get all men and women in the military to act like gentlemen and ladies, respectively and the problem goes away!! All the miltiary is trying hard to do with work on the men right now and “ladies in Congress” demand just that. Don’t you ever blame a “victim” even if the “victim” is a slut, right. There is a blog up, you know where that says just that in so many words. Anyone care to object!! When men and women in the mitlitary, at least, fail to act like “becoming officers” well who should get the blame? You have to understand UCMJ for you landlubbers, to get my point, however, so Jane Reaction, don;t even try to answer me as I promise I will ignore it from such a “no nothing”.

    Anson

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    • @ Anson,

      1. You misunderstood my point when I said, ”Anson’s view seems to be that people are inherently lazy and irresponsible”. “Inherently” is the key word. By that I was agreeing pretty much with King B in assessing your take on people: you seem to feel that exceptional effort, or the stimulus of pain, or misfortune, or some other outside influence is required to motivate people and failing that, they will naturally lapse into laziness and irresponsibility. Except, that is, for a certain class of people who naturally rise to the top of the success ladder, thereby confirming their characters as elite.

      2. Yes, malingering is a real phenomenon. As I stated recently, I have a major concern with the surge in state-sponsored efforts to sign people up for federal disability payments. I too feel this has the potential to foster bad behavior. But this does not mean I think it will do that to most people, just that it’s a trend that’s bad for society and which will probably suck into a bad system people who otherwise might remain self-sufficient.

      3. Yes, of course education needs improvement, as we’ve discussed many times before, but there’s plenty of evidence that putting more money into the effort would improve it. There are clearly too many teachers who are poorly qualified and higher salaries would eventually attract good talent. But the other part of the problem is indeed a lack of rigor in the curricula and that is probably due to an American culture of indulgence. I sure don’t know how to fix that.

      4. Yes, I did get a bad fitness report once that I didn’t deserve, but only one. It involved criminal conduct on the part of other people, not me. I’d rather not remember it.

      5. King B is absolutely right about vast, subtle discrimination being a huge factor in people’s livelihoods and about you having a blind spot about it. It is impossible to go through life and not pass through all kinds of selective filters and hoops. A friend does another a favor or gives a positive recommendation. An employer surveys a list of candidates and selects one that is comeliest or who is closest in culture to his own. Another gives preference based similar backgrounds. I don’t think I even need mention race. My wife, Mollie, was once turned down for a part-time job working for a dentist in Boston because, as he told her to her face, “In my experience, people who have southern accents like yours tend to be slow.” Such things have enormous effects on not just outcomes but attitudes, and not to recognize them is, to use a kind word, let’s say “flawed”.

      Like

      • King Beauregard

         /  June 2, 2013

        “By that I was agreeing pretty much with King B in assessing your take on people: you seem to feel that exceptional effort, or the stimulus of pain, or misfortune, or some other outside influence is required to motivate people and failing that, they will naturally lapse into laziness and irresponsibility.”

        I’m not sure that I made that assessment of Anson. I think Anson champions this short-sighted notion that Effort + Good Choices = Success, which implies that lack of success is due to lack of effort and/or poor choices, which is to say, lack of success is your own damn fault. Neat, simple, and completely insufficient to explain why some people fail despite hard work and sound decisions. I think even Anson gets at some level that his equation leaves out a hundred and one external factors — hence his nearly superhuman efforts at not answering a simple question — but since he is obligated to defend conservative ideology, he’ll still stump for beliefs he doesn’t entirely buy.

        If I had to reduce it to math, I would come up with an equation like:

        Effort + Good Choices + A Heck Of A Lot Of External Factors = Success

        where those external factors would include family, quality of your school system, connections, economic conditions, good health, and sheer dumb luck (or at least a relative shortage of bad luck). And yeah, skin color or religious background can make a big difference too.

        The one point I’ll agree with Anson on is that habitual laziness pretty much guarantees failure, and ongoing bad choices do as well. Exactly how hard of a worker does a person need to be, though? How peerless must your decisions be to keep failure away? There’s an awful lot of grey area there. As I type this it’s a Sunday evening; I could be loading data into a database for work, which I don’t really need to do until tomorrow, but nonetheless you could call that laziness if you were out to prove that I am lazy.

        Like

  17. Treeske

     /  June 2, 2013

    Late, but still want to thank Van Fleet’s referral, very funny and right on!

    Like

  18. ansonburlingame

     /  June 3, 2013

    Jim and King,

    This has not been a bad discussion at all, in my view. In fact I actually think we are all agreeing on something, believe it or not. King said it. “The one point I’ll agree with Anson on is that habitual laziness pretty much guarantees failure, and ongoing bad choices do as well.”

    So, as I see it, we are actually arguing about the DEGREE to which that situation, sloth and bad choices over time, affect many of the ills in American society. I believe that situation, far too many people today suffer consequences of exactly that, sloth and bad choices at the individual level.

    You two seem to say, “yes, but………,” meaning what about those folks that are NOT slothful and routinely make bad choices. TAKE CARE OF SUCH people is my call as well as yours. I SUPPORT a safety net, just like you do, but WHO gets helped and HOW such help is rendered by such a net, well there is huge disagreement between us, I suspect.

    For at least 15 years now, I have spent considerable time observing people in a crisis, a huge crisis in their lives. I began such observations by being one a them, a man in a huge crisis. For sure I am not “perfect” today nor are any of “them”, perfect. But I have observed MANY downtrodden people, and I mean really downtrodden, living under a bridge kind of downtrodden, rise up and return as productive members of society.

    And not a cent of government money caused them to return to society, fundamentally. They learned to “fix themselves”, first.

    Go to my blog, the last two posts, posted primarily as responses to class mates from college concerned over Sex in the military and Faith in the military. In the first matter, Sex, I may sound like a blame the victim conservative. And in the second I may sound like an Evangelical Preacher. WRONG if you try to take such sentiments from both blogs.

    And don’t take either blog as political points of view, either. But if you take them together I do suggest that moral degeneration in public institutions is best solved with good moral (not religious) solutions. How to do so, solve what in essence is a moral problem, with government policies is a real issue facing America today, in my view. You guys seem to believe government can do so and I have grave doubts about government’s ability to achieve such resolution, politically.

    Anson

    Like

    • King Beauregard

       /  June 3, 2013

      “So, as I see it, we are actually arguing about the DEGREE to which that situation, sloth and bad choices over time, affect many of the ills in American society.”

      No, what we have been arguing about is whether a person can be visited by ills without having been lazy or having made bad choices. For example — and I keep coming back to it because it’s a very basic example that all too many Americans have had to live through — if you lose your house because you chose to pay for your kid’s cancer treatments, is that a bad choice? If you say “no it’s not a bad choice” then you’re acknowledging that your coloring book version of success and failure is insufficient to describe the world around you. You are further acknowledging that poverty or hard times are not proof of a lack of virtue on the other person’s part, and if you do that, you might as well renounce conservatism altogether. Somewhere, Ronald Reagan will shed a single manly tear.

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      • King B,

        Your responses have been superb and right on point.

        Except that I have a nagging suspicion that there may be something wrong with this declaration you made earlier:

        The one point I’ll agree with Anson on is that habitual laziness pretty much guarantees failure, and ongoing bad choices do as well.

        Yes, we like to believe that our “choices” are ours and that we have the power to make bad ones, including bad ones like being lazy. I’m not so sure, though. Perhaps it is the case that genetics and environmental circumstances conspire to make us lazy or, on the other hand, to make us industrious. I wish I knew the comprehensive answer to the question, “Are we truly free?”

        In the mean time, it seems to be necessary (if only because it is psychologically comforting) to continue to tell our kids and ourselves that we need to work hard and make good choices (and then hope those other factors you reference work in our favor).

        Perplexed,

        Duane

        Like

        • King Beauregard

           /  June 6, 2013

          Dude, don’t even start with determinism vs. free will. (Unless you literally had no choice, in which case, please continue.)

          Speaking of hard-working people not getting ahead, check out this article fresh from cracked.com:

          http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-4-types-people-welfare-nobody-talks-about/

          Everyone here except Anson would do well to read that.

          Like

          • Very interesting link, King B. I think I may have underestimated the social stigma attached to welfare. But anyway, Cheese’s narrative is all the more relevant because of the growing divide between the haves and have-nots.

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