As I said in my first post, my grandfather had a heart attack last week. The ambulance was at his apartment within 5 minutes, he was taken directly into intensive care without wait, and now he's in pretty good shape (for an 85 year old heart attack patient anyways). He said to me yesterday he would give the hospital and its workers a 100% score. It's an anecdote, but I think it does show health care here is very good, in cities especially.
However, it is true that the best hospitals in the States provide the best care in the world. In Canada there are long waits for CAT scans and types of cancer treatment, which is unheard of in America (for those with health insurance anyways). Rich Canadians are happy to head to the US for treatment to bypass the long lines, and I can't blame them. I would say it is true that some quality is sacrificed for wider availability ... but I think the average Canadian (or Swede or Brit or Aussie) still has better care than 95% of the world's population.
Past hills of chambermaids' dark bare arms and fields of muscles quilted to the bone, Right now I'm flying over, yeah right now I'm flying home.
From what I've gathered, the average citizen in a country with socialized Health Care is better off than the average American, and rich people from each type of country are fairly equal (assuming they are rich enough to travel to the US for treatment.) I'd say advantage to Socialized Health Care.
Social Darwinism. Woo. People who cannot produce whatever is needed to be able to afford proper Health Care will be removed from the system. They will die. It is not fair. It is not fun. In no way do I support it, or agree with whatever factors cause it. But it is there. You will die whether you live in a socialist economy or a capitalist one. Whether your country is a dictatorship or a democracy. It's all a question about how human's as an organisim are supposed to behave. Most of us can't figure out we we are meant to do in life as individuals so it's no surprise that we can't agree as a species as to what our goals are and how we should achieve them. Several key people in the world have provided theories over the years as to what exactly human nature is/should be/was/will be, and these ideas helped formulate what we think about as Socialism, Capitalism, Democracy, and so on.
Personally I find the Cold War situation slightly amusing. The United States had it like this.
Democracy: The power of government given unto the people. Majority rules. The directions taken are supposed to bring the most good to the most people.
Capitalism: A system that's built on the principles of Social Darwinism. Everybody struggles to do/be the best and stay on top. Only the ones on the top of the heap are served, everybody else is unimportant. This leads to so many advancements in a short period of time.
And Russia had this:
Dictatorship: The top people decide what is good for everybody else. This helps direct the engery of the people towards very specific goals leading to a lot getting done in a short period of time on those goals.
Communism/Socialism: Everybody works and strives to help keep everybody else afloat. The majority of people's suffering is supposed to be alleviated.
And now I've pretty much lost my train of thought. Lunchtime!
Well, let's say you *aren't* rich enough to travel to the United States and go through all the hoopla of receiving important treatment in another country. What if you are just a middle class American you pays their taxes and works for a living? Should you really have to wait for a CAT scan just so all homeless people strung out on drugs can get free health care? I'm sorry to sound cruel but this system sounds unfair in the end. I guess I find it hard to abandon the fundamental principle that the more you work and contribute to society, the more you should be rewarded. Not that all social welfare systems are all bad, only that they seem to encourage people to just mooch off the government and never better their lives, which itself is cruel in my opinion. Rather I think we should try to take care of people as best as we can who have no health care, but we should try to retain most of the system we have right now. Not that it is perfect, only that it seems more fair and ultimately better for society than other alternatives.
Again, look at 20th century Russian history. I am not expert in the field, but a main problem they had leading to their economic woes was the fact that people were never really motivated to put in quality work. Since you were always guaranteed a job that were sure in the fact that the government would always take care of you, you just kind of schleped along and Russian leaders often complained about worker productivity. Thus, product quality and innovation were very low in Russia. Would we have been able to win the Cold War with the same type of system, or would it have been a stale mate?
First off, I would say that there is no basis to rule out a working socialist environment. It has really never been tried on a small scale, and almost always it's been opposed by others in the world. Economics and Politics are two completely different things that are hopelessly entwined (there's a statement for ya). If there had been no Cold War, then the USSR would not have had to spend so much money making weapons to fight the Cold War, and could've spent that money on feeding the workers and bettering their living conditions. I mean, they own Siberia, which is one of the biggest "Land of untapped resources" in the world. Communism/Socialism had a chance to succeed in the USSR. It didn't, but that is not directly related to any problems inherent in the system. More so to problems inherent in the world at the time.
Also, on socialized medicine, I would think one of the goals would to actually increase treatment for drug/alcohol/nicotine and other addictions (what a novel concept!). Over time, there would be a lesser amount of people needing treatment for addiction related illnesses, so that you wouldn't have to wait so long in line to get your spine repaired after being hit by a drunk driver.
"I mean, they own Siberia, which is one of the biggest "Land of untapped resources" in the world. Communism/Socialism had a chance to succeed in the USSR. It didn't, but that is not directly related to any problems inherent in the system. More so to problems inherent in the world at the time."
Again, I think there were major problems with the system. And you are hitting on something else here which effected Russia- geography. They may have had natural resources up the wazoo, but most of them were located in highly isolated places and were difficult to get ahold of. Also, being so far north made the majority of the country very cold throughout the year, which also effects people and how they react to the world around them (could it have made Russians more complacent?) Also, being largely land-locked they did not have many good ports, and the ones farther north were iced over for long periods during the year.
Trying not to bring down the wrath of CRZ with a two-person convo, but:
Didn't you just point out more reasons that say that factors besides communisim/socialism contributed to the fall of Russia? Cause that's really my point, is that while the USSR broke up and the USA 'won' the Cold War, Russia didn't fall just because they were communist (they were never really socialist), and that socialism may work, it's just never been tested successfully. So if you agree with that, then I should really just shut up about the whole thing
Also, I agree about what you said before on the 'equality' issue. Anybody read Harrison Bergeron? We can't all be equal, but I think it's pretty small minded to think that Socialism has to be so rigid in practice that we all have to work equally. But that's just my opinion.
-Jaguar My opinion cannot be exchanged for anybody else's opinion, and is subject to change over time. Your mileage may vary.
Ok one more post and that's it. I agree that there were many factors which lead to the fall of the U.S.S.R., but the Soviet/Communist/Marxist system was a major factor in its downfall, and in a variety of ways. I don't think you can really deny that. The system was simply flawed and lead to too much evil. If there is a better way to bring about a socialist utopia other than through a Marxist revolution, then I guess the world is still waiting to see it. So maybe it is just too much of that- a utopia, a mythical place in the world which just isn't real. Of course if you believe in Messiah, maybe you put your hopes in some other power to bring about the perfect world. (Wait a minute- how did religion get into this?)
Scandanavian countires for instance, while not being a "utopia," offer a working, realistic, high standard of living means of socialism. It might not be for us, and that's OK, but it's out there and it works.
Capitalism in it's purent form is a mythical as socialism in it's purest form. What the United States has isn't anywhere close to pure capitalism. Corporate bailouts, government subsidies for industry, rich kids living off their parents (If you don't think there are plenty of people who don't work, are strung out on drugs, and have health insurance, visit an Ivy league frat house. Or the White House
Farooq is the man so hit your knees and start praying!
Originally posted by Gavintzu Capitalists say that government should get out of the way of private industry and ONLY worry about police work, national security and the like. However, there are several areas where Adam Smith's invisible hand just DOESN'T work:
--the environment. Some people say that the market, and consumers, will force companies to be environmentally friendly. These people are wrong. Experience in every western country in the past 40 years shows that governments have to force companies not to poison the environment. There need to be strong laws and strong enforcement, or else companies with the moral fortitude of Enron will do anything to make a bigger profit. Including pouring raw sewage into drinking water.
-- health care. Experience in the U.S. shows that for-profit insurance companies and for-profit hospitals are a horrible way to run a society's health care system.
If someone else covered this, I apologize, but here goes:
I'm impressed by the Adam Smith reference, but free-market persons always believe that the market will force the best outcome, and it should, here's how/why:
The Environment: The Coase Theorem, and an article called Tragedy of the Commons (Ronald Coase authored the Coase Theorem, I don't remember who authored Tragedy of the Commons because I read it in 1993 for an Environmental Econ class). Bottom line: The government should have a role in "internalizing the externality" with regards to pollution. The reason "too much" pollution occurs is because the cost to the producer of polluting is less than the cost to society of the pollution. A common way of establishing a market mechanism to cure the problem is by auctioning pollution rights.
Or the problem might be that (to a free market advocate) the concept of zero pollution is not efficient; efficiency is brought about by the "socially optimal" amount of pollution occuring.
Health Care: Health care NEEDS FREE MARKETS. I've heard stories that wealthy Canadians come to the US for health care due to superior quality. I've also heard that in the countries with socialized medicine that it takes a long time (in many cases) for persons to receive health care services. I learned this while taking an applied Microeconomics course in grad school (the course focused on Energy policy and Health Care policy). Health care is screwed up because of health care insurance. Prior to WWII, there was no health insurance and people paid for health care the same way the paid for everything else. After WWII inflationary fears led to government mandated wage freezes in many (maybe all?) industries. Companies needed to attract workers, but couldn't legally offer higher wages (because of the wage ceiling). Someone started offering "fringe benefits" (non-wage compensation). Included in this was health insurance. Eventually everyone got health insurance through their employer. Health care providers were originally paid by the insurance companies on a "cost plus" basis. They had no incentive to cut costs because higher costs meant more pay (Cost + 10%; cost = $1,000, 10% = $100/ Cost = $2,000, 10% = $200/ $200 > $100, so no incentive for cost to be low).
This (provider reimbursement procedure)has since been changed many times over.
Anyway the market is skewed because the true cost of the service is less to the individual than it is to society. If an individual has no monetary cost (or even a fixed monetary cost) of getting an X-ray, that consumer has no incentive to find the cheapest X-ray. Nor do many individuals have the incentive to forego treatments or tests that are not necessary when they are not paying for them. The problem is basicly over consumption of health care.
On the supply side... AMA... restricts the supply of health care... increases the price of health care.
Adam Smith's invisible hand will work, but it can't work around government hurdles very well.
William Safire, who died yesterday, is probably best known for being a NYT columnist, but he was also a speechwriter in the Nixon White House. And I guess this could have been the most famous speech he wrote that no one ever heard... until now.