Wednesday, February 06, 2008

So I wussed out...

... and voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary. Sigh.

On the one hand, I'm very mad at Clinton for voting for the Iraq war and failing to do more than offer lip service in its opposition. Of course, I'm just as mad at Obama for his failure to do the same, perhaps a even little more upset because he didn't have an AUMF vote to live down. But with Kucinich (and even Edwards) out of the race, I'm left with Gravel, who doesn't seem popular enough to register even as a protest vote.

(I really wish these fucking progressives would hang into these sorts of races. They won't necessarily win, but they can do something to keep progressive ideas in the campaign dialog, and they can gain some power to broker at the convention. We don't have a multi-position democracy even within our own supposedly pluralistic party. It really sucks sometimes all the god-damned time to be a Democrat; my only consolation is that it sucks even harder, longer and more painfully to be a Republican.)

Two things pushed me to Clinton. The first is the fucking retarded Chris "Dickless" Matthews propaganda that Clinton is especially unelectable. Anyone who thinks that Obama can escape the full force of right-wing smear tactics has never heard of Kerry or Gore (or Dukakis, or Carter, or McGovern). Fuck you. Clinton is getting tons of democratic votes (and more delegates than Obama), and the people who hate Clinton (and women) hate blacks and people with the middle name "Hussein" just as much.

The second is that Paul Krugman has convinced me that Clinton's health care plan is better than Obama's. I can't hope any more that any Democratic government will actually hold the Bush administration accountable for anything, I can't hope that they won't start a war with Iran, I can't hope they'll restore legal civil liberties; but they have a shot at implementing a health care plan. I'm screwed under Obama's plan (lacking a college degree, I'm unemployable outside of Wal-Mart) so I might as well get some actual insurance out of the deal.


  1. I prefer Obama. But I live in Michigan, so I didn't get to vote. Not that my one vote would have mattered. (Well, two votes - my wife likes Obama, too).

    I don't doubt that the right-wing smear machine will go after Obama. I just think the nature of his candidacy and how he's tried to position himself makes it harder for the smear to stick to him - he seems above it - Hillary seems more in the thick of it. Part of that is media bullshit.

    In the end, I think Clinton will win, which somehow depresses me. Then, I remembered just how much the right-wing absolutely HATES Hillary Clinton. And I remember all of their bullshit arguments to give unlimited power to the executive. And then I think of them realizing that all of this power will be Hillary's. And that gives me a huge, shit-eating grin. And watching them flail around when she is sworn in will probably make me laugh hysterically for an hour.

    So there are some benefits to a Clinton win that I appreciate.

  2. If you like Obama, you like Obama; he's a perfectly good guy and there are good reasons to prefer him.

    I just think the nature of his candidacy and how he's tried to position himself makes it harder for the smear to stick to him - he seems above it...

    I will repeat my rebuttal: Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, Carter, McGovern, none of whom are Clinton. (And the only reason that Clinton beat Bush pere and Dole is because they were both weak and stayed their hand.) The media will be no kinder to Obama than they will be or have been to Clinton; they'll be McCain McCain McCain all the way to the general. (Do you think Rupert Murdoch or General Electric will support Obama?) They know it will work in the general because they know we did it to ourselves in the primary.

    And watching them flail around when she is sworn in will probably make me laugh hysterically for an hour.

    Sadly, I don't think that'll happen. Neither Clinton nor Obama will actually use this unlimited power; they are both sensible, rational, responsible adults. But neither will they give the power back; they'll sanction it with their inaction.

    I honestly think the Republican party wants to lose this election (and McCain is being thrown under the bus). They'd love to have Hillary Clinton as president for four years because they're going to blame her for the worsening disaster in Iraq and the looming depression. 2012 is the crisis point.

  3. I think the main difference between the two policies is because how mandatory is the insurance.

    When it is mandatory, the insurers are on top, they get to decide the price and etc, some lobbying and there will be no control over the price. All the insurers have to say is "it is the law to buy our insurance" and your screwed. They could push you as hard as they like.

    When it is NOT mandatory to get insurance, the markets push the price down, the insurers have to bring the price down to acceptable level or risk losing customers. They cannot force you to pay what ever they ask, and they have to make more humane contracts, when they would not have the protection of the law to force you to sign them before you read and understand them.

  4. Anonymous,

    In theory, you might be correct. However, Clinton's plan introduces collective bargaining and price controls to prevent that very thing. Both Obama and Clinton are correct in that we simply cannot leap from our current system to single payer: it's a trillion dollar per annum industry, and a major hiccup at this time could well and truly fuck with the economy.

    That said, every health care analyst I trust to be honest and forthright -- Ezra Klein at The American Prospect, Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic, and, yes, the great agent of Satan Paul Krugman at The New York Times -- highlight the importance of mandates and that Obama is just plain wrong (and in some cases lying).

  5. Anon: Your "folk economics" is invalid.

    Food is mandatory, gasoline is almost mandatory; both of these areas have achieved commodity pricing, pretty much at cost. Health care in the US is non-mandatory, and it's the most expensive and least cost-effective overall in the world.

    Automobile insurance is mandatory, but, if you keep your nose clean, the price isn't terribly unreasonable.

    Competition, not optionality, pushes prices to commodity levels. No single insurer can cover even a large fraction of the population. Competition has historically been effective at pushing prices towards costs in large markets.

  6. When it is NOT mandatory to get insurance, the markets push the price down, the insurers have to bring the price down to acceptable level or risk losing customers.

    On second thought, this is dead wrong. This presumes health care, the primary means of access to which is health insurance, is simply another commodity with elastic demand. Demand for health care is inelastic; a time comes when you simply must have it. At this stage, we can no more go without it than we can electricity or gasoline (and what has deregulation done for those prices lately, eh?).

    10 out of 10 on theory; minus 1,000,000 for reality.

  7. I keep fogetting how screwed up USA is... It is a good thing I am not American, my life would suck big time.

    The health care in Usa is inelastic, but in welfare state, it is elastic, as most basic health care is provided. Having a insurance just gives you access to higher quality of health care.

    Automobile insurance is mandatory, but the auto in essence is not. If you dont own a car, you dont have to have a automobile insurance, right?

    Does mandate create more true comptetition? I dont think it does, for consumer to benefit from the competition, one has to look around to do some work to look at different insurers. When it is mandatory to have a insurance, people will be lazy about it, and just take the first offer that comes up on tv.

    If people have not moved their butt enough to get a insurance by now, if it becomes mandatory, they wont suddenly start moving their butt to get it done properly.

  8. Uhm, people, one thing I have to tell you is that Hillary's plan includes a Medicare-like plan for families (call it FamilyCare) that is run by the government but that anybody can participate in. So her plan says you have to pay for healthcare -- but you don't have to pay private health insurers for that health care. You can go with FamilyCare instead.

    So people saying that Hillary's plan is a subsidy for private insurance companies are just plain *wrong*. You have to pay for health care -- just like you have to pay your Social Security taxes -- but you don't *have* to pay a private insurer for that. You can pay FamilyCare instead. And experience here locally is that this greatly reduces the overall costs by introducing just the *possibility* of public competition, even if FamilyCare never gets a lot of takers.

    Locally, we had a problem with the local ambulance companies not having enough ambulances, being too expensive, taking too long to respond, and so forth. So the City of Santa Clara bought four ambulances and stationed them at fire stations around the city. Suddenly private ambulance companies slashed their prices, stationed many more ambulances around the city, and are responding much more quickly. Nevermind that the four ambulances owned by the City of Santa Clara have rarely left their stalls -- just knowing that they *could* leave their stalls has forced the local private ambulance companies to clean up their act.

    - Badtux the Public-Private Penguin

  9. It's cool. I voted Obama, I honestly think he has advantages, although most of them have to do with foreign policy (I think he is marginally less likely to start a new war than Clinton). My GirlFriend voted for Kucinich- she's either confused, or just very stubborn.

  10. Anon: It would be helpful, I think, for you to learn something about economics, and by that I mean how economics actually works in the real world.

    It might also be useful for you to learn about how the US health care system works, how it actually works in the real world.

  11. Again, I think Anonymous perhaps doesn't understand the nature of the health welfare system where he lives. Prices for supplemental insurance are competitive precisely because a base level of insurance is guaranteed. This is what happens in France, which has the highest-rated health care system in the world. We don't have that here; by mandating a purchase of a base level of care -- whose price is regulated -- Clinton both mollifies the health care industry in the short term and prepares people for more universal health care later.

    Badtux is right about FamilyCare, which is a great idea. It basically builds on SCHIPS like Healthy Families (the Santa Clara County Healthy Families is particularly good at its job).

  12. Actually I could get a masters degree in economics, from the university I am in. Got my "leg in" by getting accepted in to economics. Then got in to computer sciences what I really want to do, never dropped the rights to a degree in the economics. And don't get started about how universities work in USA...

    Why it would be useful for me to learn how the US health care system works? The way things are going I will never move to US, and if I come to USA as a tourist I will have a proper travellers insurance.

    Outside the borders of North American continent, in the modern western world, USA is pretty much meaningless. Naturally there are influences in the stockmarkets, fuel prices, and etc things. But in normal life, it makes no difference what is happening in USA.

    James f. Elliot got the continent right, but I am not from France.

    I might not fully understand the health welfare system around here, it is entirely possible, never needed it that much, and always had the supplemental insurance.

    So in essence this "universal" health care (got E.T. covered? =P) is a attempt to establish the base level of care, is it at least tax deductable? Also a question about the coverage, how many of the atleast 12 million illegal aliens have insurance?

  13. If you're European, probably you want to look at the Swiss or Dutch systems, which are somewhat similar to what is being proposed by the Democratic candidates. It is a combination of mandates and subsidies both for individuals and health insurance companies wherein health insurers are required to provide coverage and individuals are required to pay into the overall health care funding pool managed by the health insurers (well, Obama doesn't, but he's being dishonest -- he knows that the individual mandate will be necessary to prevent the health insurance fund from going into a death spiral until only sick people and, then, dead people, are paying into it). As far as deductability goes, currently neither plan as far as I can tell makes health insurance deductible on a pre-tax basis, other than employer-provided insurance. That is a major flaw in both plans, in my opinion, in that it seriously disadvantages smaller businesses and individuals and favors larger employers.

    Anyhow, go check out the Swiss plan and get back with us if you want to see how all this works in reality (as vs. all the political shenanigans)...

    - Badtux the Economics Penguin


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