“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Barney at Dartmouth.

“I think that profit motive is a great thing for our society and it engenders much progress, obviously. But when people do not have the option of not buying the products, then the profit motive needs to be mitigated some,” Frank said. “You know, if most things are too expensive, you don’t have to use them. You can’t not use healthcare.”
-Barney Frank


  1. He is correct.

    It is true that physicians specifically and competent medical staff generally must be smarter than the average bear. The US has an ample supply of such persons.

    The subsidization of additional medical training facilities might be a good start to addressing the chronic problems of both ample health care delivery and cost.

  2. Barney Frank is the elected representative of his district...

    My question is, what the F*ck?

    How many things does he get to screw before he is not re-elected?

    From Housing to House boys Barney's dick goes everywhere...

  3. an interesting point was raised on the radio as I awoke this morning: for profit organizations focus on profit. In health care delivery they can be very good at addressing areas that produce profit and doing them efficiently and effectively but they aren't so good at addressing the 'outliers', the odd cases. Think of trying to buy extra wide shoes at wal-mart. Not gonna happen.

  4. It would seem, What Is, that he is re-elected because he reliably delivers, or is perceived to reliably deliver, whatever it is that his constituents deem important - or at least does not violate same. He brings home the bacon, as it were.

    Waiting for my daughter to miss her flight because her passport was left in a gov vehicle sitting in the embassy parking lot and this, she neglected to mention to her father at a more convenient time. What is it with our family and the sad, comical inability to ever make a flight without doing the OJ run down the concourse, if we make it at all? We do not know any other collection of individuals that suffers so.

    Thankfully she is not responsible for getting herself to Halifax before her ship sails. Or there'd be reason to worry. (Yes, in the past we've nearly missed port departures as well. And flung ourselves, our baggage, and our children, frantic and out of breath, onto trains seconds before pulling out of the station. I daresay this will never change.) She'll be in the hands of her grandparents, who are not similarly afflicted.

    Anyway, dear host, you asked what I was drinking the other night. The bottle had already gone into the recycling bin. But I am reliably informed that it was a Chilean sauvignon blanc of no particular repute. In the vernacular, "Mmmmmm, I dunno. Something white."

    It appears she'll make her flight after all.

    Divine mercy.

  5. Heard this in a bar last night. Been awhile, but damn, what a happy tune:

    Go ahead. Tell me you don't want to get up on the table and dance.

  6. Barney might win the "Debate;" but, I'm not sure "Winning the Debate" will be enough, Next Year.

  7. That businessman made a Huge Point. If he's paying out 14%, and the guy on the government program is only paying out 8%, he WILL be Forced into the Government Program.

    The Swiss Model is the best. Barring that, the Coop model is better than the "Government Option."

    The Government Option is disaster waiting to happen. (you won't have to wait long, either.)

  8. I still think the single payer system (with some room for private 'extras') is the best option but the debate is a looooong way from that in the good ole USA.

  9. the good ole USA.

    Wed Aug 19, 10:52:00 AM EDT

    Do you EVER tire of this tone, ash?

  10. We just had a Monstrous 11 Million Barrel Drawdown of Crude, and Petroleum Products.

    Gasoline has jumped back up to $2.01 Wholesale (about $2.75 at the pump.)

    $3.00 gasoline and Obamadinejad's polls take another hit. A double-dip recession, and Obama will be looking for a "recount."

  11. oh trish, the health care debate has been atrocious in the US, hardly something to take pride in.

  12. "...the health care debate has been atrocious in the US..."

    It's not that. It's your regular sneering and snorting when it comes to 'the good ole USA.'

    I tire of it. I don't why you shouldn't, too.

  13. The health care debate has been "atrocious"; but that is because the debate is not about health care; its about preconceptions and agendas.

    Like rufus, I believe when the profit incentives are removed from drug research, for example, innovation will grind to a halt.

    Self-interest and profit are not dirty words. They are what made the US what it once was.

  14. What the US once was was NOT Canada.

  15. I take Great pride in the Health Care Debate we're having.

    It looks, to me, like "representative Democracy" at its finest.

    Free-Spending legislators getting raked over the coals by an enraged electorate. Nervous, petulant Congressmen coming to the realization that reelection isn't a given. I love it. Napalm in the morning.

  16. I have nothing against vigorous debate with politicians genuinely worried about being re-elected by their constituents. I also am in favor of for profit health care and the innovations that it can herald. Having a single payer does not negate the existence of for profit health care. In fact, in Canada, with a single payer system, the suppliers often operate as for profit private enterprises. Doctors run their own practices, they are not on Gov. salary, as they are in Britain. Hospitals, for the most part, I believe, run as non-profit organizations but they have their own boards of directors and run as they see fit.

    Debate is good, what appalls me about the majority of the debate in the US is that it is inundated with false and misleading information and much of it occurs at a very low ideological level (for example "Keep your government out of my Medicare" or all the histrionics about Death panels out to get Grandma)

  17. Ash, what you're overlooking is that the Congressmen, themselves, are causing much of the histrionics by being disingenuous about what they're trying to do.

    That room was full of small-business owners. They knew that the Government Option was going to drive them into the government plan. Since they are covered under the same small group insurance as their employees they didn't like it.

    They also knew their taxes were going up.

    This isn't All about health insurance. There is a lot of "pent-up frustration" being vented. We All know that the damned government damned near put us back into the "Great Depression." And, we've heard NO Mea Culpas from the Barney Franks of the world.

    We're due for a good cathartic "cleansing." The Rep know it, and they're scared to death. Tough Titty. They can go get a "real" job.

  18. "...false and misleading information..."

    You've chomped on that bit, ash, when the "false and misleading" suited you. Don't go all holier than thou on what appalls you.

  19. The debate turns on the fact that the government cannot be trusted.

    The average citizen middle age and up has a lifelong experience of government lying, underestimating, overpromising, overestimating and slandering all opposing political parties and their agenda.

    Trust is for chumps.

  20. We do not know any other collection of individuals that suffers so.

    Last time I flew anywhere, I had to double back to retrieve my wallet on the kitchen counter, over icy roads. Missed that flight. Took a standby ticket the next day, and encountered a lineup of about twice as many overbooked passengers than American could fit on the scheduled flight out of Dallas. That leg of the journey ended with a bus ride to Tulsa.

    Then there's the time I barely made the ferry from Copenhagen to Malmo by jumping my motorcycle over the water between the end of the ferry slip and the retreating ferry ramp. Cheers from the spectators up on the mezzanine deck greeted me as I skidded to a halt just short of the barrier chain. Those were the days.

  21. Geez, Malmo. I used to go there before there was any muzzies.

  22. Blogger 2164th said...

    The debate turns on the fact that the government cannot be trusted.

    That is why I say "the good ole USA" with some scorn - a nation that prides itself on its democracy, its military, it being a force for good in the world, and many (most?) of the people have no respect for the government they proudly elect.

  23. Proudly? Elect

    Ash, we don't "Proudly" elect, anybody.

    We hold our collective noses, and vote for the perceived, least crappy, of an "Always" Bad Lot.

    It's your inherent disdain of the county, and everything about it, that makes your opinions of very little, if any, interest to anyone on the board when it comes to issues, American.

  24. I thought most Americans were proud of the way governance changed hands democratically and peacefully.

    To take the miki out of myself:

    "A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works."

    regarding insurance companies and their not so vested interests in keeping claims down:

    "Hurricane season better late than never for insurers


    NEW YORK — Reuters Last updated on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009 03:02AM EDT

    The first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic season may end up skipping past the United States, leaving insurers to hope that the next ominous storm clouds will come ashore with a silver lining.

    Insurers can face billions of dollars in claims when monster hurricanes strike populated areas, but they often make their money back - and more - in the following months because they can charge more to renew coverage.

    Disasters ranging from hurricanes to earthquakes and jet accidents tend to create demand, and, if severe and frequent, ramp up the cost of coverage.

    Before last weekend, no tropical depressions had formed, in contrast to last year when five named storms had already swirled into the Atlantic basin.

    "If there are no major storms, more capacity will become available and prices will start to come down," said Shivan Subramaniam, chief executive of commercial property insurer FM Global.

    That would be bad news for insurers who have seen prices decline significantly in the past three years. Even the first major storm of the season, Hurricane Bill, which forecasters expect to strengthen into a strong Category 3 storm, may have little impact on insurers.

    The storm's predicted track bypasses U.S. hot zones, such as Florida and Louisiana, putting it on a course to reach Bermuda in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. If it keeps its strength, it could veer toward the eastern United States, but more likely it will move north toward Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, forecasters say.

    A storm that makes landfall in the United States probably would have the biggest material impact on insurers, both in losses and future policy sales. The U.S. market accounts for about half of the roughly $1.3-trillion (U.S.) in annual worldwide sales made by property-casualty insurers.

    Major players providing catastrophe coverage include the insurance unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Travelers Cos. Inc. and a recently renamed AIG division, Chartis.

    AIG had been the most dominant in the sector but has seen some business slip away since the parent company's financial problems spooked buyers. Insurers such as Travelers, Chubb Corp. and Ace Limited have said they are gaining market share.

    While Berkshire has kept lots of capital on the sidelines recently, and underwrote much less insurance in the latest quarter, it appears ready to jump back into the market if prices start rising.

    Property coverage sales tend to boom as the Atlantic hurricane season, from June through November, sets in. The most intense storms historically form this month, with the biggest hurricanes ever to pummel the United States, 1992's Hurricane Andrew and 2005's Hurricane Katrina, striking in late August.

    Mr. Subramaniam estimated that a storm must incur between $9-billion and $10-billion in insured losses to convince already strapped customers they need to pay more for coverage. "The economics all indicate that prices need to go up," he said.

    Investors too might hope there are stronger winds on the way. Average hurricane activity tends to be the worst for insurance stocks, said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Michael Paisan in a report on how storms affect the industry. "Losses mount but not enough to change pricing behaviour."

  25. Last year, insurers and re-insurers paid out about $27-billion from U.S. catastrophes, according to data from trade group ISO. Re-insurers provide insurance to other insurers, spreading the risk of losses among several carriers.

    Insurers' capital levels were relatively robust because they were sitting on healthy financial cushions after fewer catastrophes struck in 2006 and 2007.

    This year, after being hit by investment losses in recent quarters, insurers can ill afford not to raise their prices if there is another costly hurricane season. "So far, we have the capital and we have weathered the storm but that could change," said Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman with New York-based trade group Insurance Information Institute. "It is going to be a wait and see."

  26. "A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works."

    William Vaughan

  27. William Vaughn (whoever he is) is a "Pinhead."

  28. Ash said:

    "Doctors run their own practices, they are not on Gov. salary, as they are in Britain."

    The various provinces have their own medical associations who bargain with the government for the amount of fees charged for services.

    If the associations and the goverment cannot come to an agreement, the government will legislate a settlement.

    The only way a physician can increase his income is to increase the volume of patients he sees.

    This inevitably leads to a reduction in quality of care either because of short visit times or long hours.

    "Hospitals, for the most part, I believe, run as non-profit organizations but they have their own boards of directors and run as they see fit."

    Provincial governments completely control hospital budgets. You might remember a story from a week ago about cutbacks in surgical procedures. The Fraser Health Region submitted a budget which the government rejected and forced the "Region" to cut $130+ million from its budget. What can the CEO do but order a cutback in medical services? This is called rationing health care.

    Hospital boards, in the main, do their own hiring and firing. At the CEO level, it is done with the Ministry's oversight.

    Ministry of Health officials can sack, and have sacked, any CEO who can't operate within the government's assigned budget or publically questions the Ministry's decisions about health care.

    These two statements made by Ash are what he considers to be informed comment. By Ash's standards, this is no doubt true.

  29. Cynicism, somebody said, is the flipside of naivete.

  30. ash,

    The United States was formed by a group of gentlemen having disdain and distrust of government. That's why they created such a cumbersome system. Americans have a long, proud tradition treating politicians with contempt.

    "Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
    ___Mark Twain

  31. ash,

    I am surprised that you have not jumped at the chance to pose a perfectly reasonable question: If you all have such a low regard for America's politicians, why get so upset with me for pointing out the obvious?

    The difference, ash, is that we LOVE our country

  32. A cynic, somebody said, is a young fellow who went searching the truth, and unfortunately found it.

  33. Godammit, linear, that's just depressing. And wrong.

    Don't you have anything better to do?

    Don't make me look up cynicism in the AHD.

  34. Rand would have your head on a plate with a flat leaf parsley garnish.

  35. The opposite negative ego duality of a cynic is a person stuck in the Pollyanna syndrome...

    Lighten up, trish.

  36. The depressing Thomas Sowell on cynicism:

    Do-Gooders: Cynicism Exposed.

    ...My own experience with political cynicism in Washington came a few years earlier, back in 1976, when I was nominated to the Federal Trade Commission by President Ford. At a private meeting with a Democratic Congressional staffer for the Senate committee in charge of confirming my nomination, the staffer gave me the word.

    "We have gone over your record with a fine-toothed comb," he said frankly, "and, since we could find nothing to object to, we are just not going to hold hearings at all."

    He explained that, since this was an election year and they expected their candidate -- Jimmy Carter -- to win, they would just sit on my nomination until Carter became President, so that he could then appoint his own man to the FTC. Which he did

    Thomas and I were both younger once.

  37. Read her non-fiction, linear.

  38. "Do-Gooders" shows not only the destructive consequences of liberal policies on crime, education and welfare, it shows the corrupting cynicism used to try to keep the liberal agenda afloat. Thomas Sowell.

    Reality is sometimes more revealing than fiction, even when it's fiction by the esteemed Rand.

  39. Read her non-fiction, linear.

    Will I get a cookie?

  40. Rand?

    I'll stick with "Obrien." (He thought "Murphy" was an incurable Optimist.

  41. Yes, ma'am. One of your maccaroons with the ground glass inside. All sparkly.

  42. Or a donut covered with sprinkles.

  43. Or, as a fallback, my uncle, "All Politishins is Scum," Doofus.

  44. Deal.

    Gotta go dig some more on the septic tank project.

    Later, y'all.

  45. Begs the question, Allen, if he would be brought to trial today if he were just apprehended, or would he be compassionately released due to a cancerous condition preceding his capture?

  46. Or a donut covered with sprinkles.

    Wed Aug 19, 04:29:00 PM EDT

    : )

  47. linear,

    You raise an interesting point. If a man may be released for committing 290 murders, may he be released for committing 29,000?


  48. Continuing with the theme of the day (cynicism) could it be that he is being released as a result of healthcare rationing decisions rather than "compassion"?

  49. The people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts should compassionately release Barney Frank from public service.

  50. linearthinker said:

    "Yes, ma'am. One of your maccaroons with the ground glass inside. All sparkly."

    Wed Aug 19, 04:28:00 PM EDT

    That's a keeper!