No, weirdly this is not about western fiction.  It is not – also – about SFWA, though it will tangentially touch on what’s going on there.

Yesterday I was pinged by a fan who told me that – having found my Human Wave essay – he finaly stopped felling guilty because most award winning SF/F leaves him unmoved.  “There’s just no there, there.  It’s all politically correct pap, the “happy ending” is always human extinction or defeat, there’s nothing to make the soul sing.”

I got to thinking about this – it’s a bad habit, but what can you do – and what I thought about, specifically, was how the second sf/f book I read was almost for sure a “the soviet union is right and America will just decay and fall further behind” book – from what I remember of it.  I can no longer remember the title.

Mind you, at that age I wasn’t exactly anti-communist, because I didn’t understand communism, but I was already fairly sure the USA was good and the USSR was bad.  (No, this wasn’t a reasoned thought.  That came later.  But I saw movies from both sides, and I knew which side I liked.)  So, why in heavens’ name didn’t that book turn me off sf/f forever?  Particularly since the next one was A Canticle for Leibowitz.  (Okay, I’m sick.  I still love that book.)

And then I realized that though I didn’t like that second book – not as such – it wasn’t bad enough to turn me off, because there was force and hope in it.  It was a stupid hope “in the future we’re all communists” but I could roll my eyes at it and go on.

There wasn’t this dyspeptic and invincible hatred of everything that was human, this scorching thirst for nothing.

And then it occurred to me what is wrong with … not all.  About half the books being published that conform to the “rightly done” ideals of the establishment (a lot don’t, though – we’ll go into that later.) are desperado-written.  They come apart in your mind, because the animating principle is a hatred of humanity or a hatred of life, or a hatred of existence.

There is no vision to hold on to.  All the dangerous visions are gone.  There is no radical “this will fix it.”  It’s more of a rage of “since you destroyed my dream, you can’t have yours either.  I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.”  (Think teen girls.)

There was to the New Wave in its heyday a sort of “this is the way things are going to be” that no matter how odd the principles propounded (in most cases a hot mess of experimentalism, sexual transgression, communitarism and noble savage myth) made them work.  They wanted something. They worked towards something.

Now the least offensive of the conventional books are, if not actively hating of mankind, filled with a vision of Man (though mostly woman) carrying on negative virtues: not being sexist, not being racist, not being–  Well, since there’s also a cult of victimhood, they’re usually not very effective, either, but I don’t think that’s intentional.

I think it’s because they’re desperadoes.

I spent about an hour this morning looking for the opposite of “apostates.”  Apostates are those who walk away from a religious or political belief, and though they’re often filled with rage, it’s focused rage: focused on what they abandoned and the pretty lies they believed.

They might be unfair.  They might be tiresome.  They might make you boil with suppressed rage if the goat they’re skewering is yours.  But they are usually very bright and strong and well… interesting.

This lot (not just in SFWA but in the world at large) aren’t apostates.  If they were apostates, here wouldn’t be young Hegelian clubs in American high schools. There would be no band of “young communists” in SFF. It would be – it should be – as acceptable to label yourself a communist as to label yourself a Nazi.

No – this lot hasn’t abandoned their religion.  In fact, they cling to it by trying to create reformed versions that “will work this time, really.”

The problem is, except for the very young, who weren’t alive in the late eighties, I don’t think they believe it.  Not really.

You have to put yourself back then, back when people my age and just a little younger grew up.  Even those who weren’t communists, expected communism would win.  It was logical right?  Planned was better than unplanned.  If someone made decisions, there would be less waste.  And look at the big things government had done.  Could individuals have won the long war of the twentieth century?

Then we found out the battlefield is not the same as everyday life, that economy in the industrial age is too complex and chaotic for event he very bright man to control, and that, well, people know their own business best.  (there are indications that the economy was too complex and chaotic to control back in rural societies, too, hence the periodic famines.  It wasn’t just horrible agricultural technique.  Never mind.)

I never bought the vision of the Sov Union was an Earthly paradise of sorts.  I never bought it because frankly it looked too “perfect” as packaged in all those Soviet Life magazines.  It …  I have the sort of personality that goes up to a perfectly painted wall and scratches a little to see what it’s hiding.  And then there was Gulag Archipelago.  It passed hand to hand like Samizdat (I don’t think it was illegal, though at the time it was illegal to listen to the BBC, so who knows? But we knew we’d get failed if we were caught with it) through my class when I was 14.  There were other memoirs of the Soviet Union and for those with ears to hear there were indications not all was polished gold and shining comfort over there.

I suspect it was not the same in the US.  I suspect it was not the same because the left had infiltrated all niches that had power over the mind of the young, and because the right was complacent.  “They’ve seen Paree, what would they want with Stalingrad?”  But there’s always discontent.  There was after all the “broken children of WWII” and after.  The pursuit of “my actualization” didn’t make for raising balanced children.  One thing I noticed in Portugal is that boys from fatherless homes were almost uniformly communist. One actually told me “if this were a communist country they wouldn’t have let my dad leave.”  But I suspect there was also “and the government would have taken care of me.”

And then there were the brightest and the best, often the creative best – no, seriously. It’s very hard for us creative types and for all those (eh, most of my friends) who are very good in the realm of the mind but not in the realm of social interaction to realize that, hey, pure mental agility is NOT the only thing that counts for success in life.

One of the things I keep running across in reading about the French revolution is people like Robespierre going “You know, society would be best if it were run by the brightest of us.”

But being good with words and even with abstract concepts, doesn’t mean you can run the world.  Heck, it doesn’t mean (she looks around her cluttered desk) you can run your office.  And I’m only middling bright.  Eventually younger son will need someone to tie his shoes for him and make sure he doesn’t leave the house wearing a shirt three sizes too small because he swiped it from his father’s closet and doesn’t notice sizes are different because math.  Also, engineering.

Still the very bright know themselves to be superior (they are, in some areas) and to be ill treated (they’re right there too, though they’re essential for creating/improving industrial society, our society runs on iron age models and really can’t tell the difference between “very smart” and “wears underpants on head.” (often because there’s no real difference.))  This might change, but it will change glacially slow.  Not in the lifetimes of my great grand kids.

The best thing to do is to drag the little geniuses into the world and make them understand the virtue of conforming to the extent they can.  (Usually it’s not very far, but it might make the difference between a recluse in a trash-filled room and a respected scientists.)

But again, our society is failing at raising kids.  Particularly very smart kids.  It’s been doing so since the world wars, partly through the “self actualization” movement, and partly because, well… when women join the work force something has to give and by and largely the something has been child rearing.

So there were many brands ready for the burning.  And communism was a dazzling flame that told them they could be in charge, that here was a society that valued intellect, and look how well it worked.  They always knew the world would fare well in their hands.

Most of the intellectual class and many of the teaching class, and other intellectual workers embraced the ideals of communism, even if they didn’t call it by name.  It is my impression that they took things like Gulag Archipelago and said well of course there would be failures, but look – just look – at how we failed every day.  We had poor, sick, unemployed.  We were a bad society.  At least under a planned society, the damage was limited, right?

Then came the fall.  And what a fall it was.  Even though our newspapers refused to report it, even though it wasn’t treated as it would be, everyone knew.  Everyone knew about the shoddy, tawdry, little lives behind the curtain.  Everyone knew of the mean compromises, the double thing, the poverty of mind and body.  Everyone KNEW.

They knew.  They couldn’t avoid knowing.  Umberto Ecco for a time more or less unblinking, referred to them as “defrocked.”

In a way he was right.  They’d embraced the communist future as one embraces religion.  It made their passage through this vale of tears worthwhile, it aggrandized their sufferings, their lack of success.  “I’m poor, but I’m working for the great communist future.”

And then it collapsed.  Behind the golden throne, there was dirty, ash, and the oldest form of dictatorship of mankind: the hereditary monarchy.

They couldn’t stay defrocked long – particularly the older ones.  They had to grab onto something.  They did.  They grabbed onto “socialism” and “political correctness.”

But both of those are sterile credos.  Sweden can be held up as an ideal, but heck they know that it doesn’t translate to a country the size and diversity of ours.  And besides, Sweden is starting to show cracks, and they know that.  They run to Australia and draw quite the wrong conclusions from the Australian recovery, but the cracks are showing there too.  Ten years ago they lectured us endlessly about the EEC, but heck, you know, it never did that well, and if they go on vacation and venture even slightly off the beaten path, they can’t avoid knowing the truth.  It’s shabby.  It’s drab.  It’s the Soviet Union with a softer face.  Communism in installment plans.  And the news from the PIIGS are grim.

Where can they run?  What can they do?

When I was researching the US Civil War (I will still eventually write that book of alien invasion in the civil war, yes – it’s just… time.) I came across desperadoes.  The original ones, before the name came to apply to any western evil-doer.

They were called desperadoes for a reason.  They were desperate. If the book described them accurately, men who fought for the South and came back in utter defeat to find themselves dispossessed, their families gone, and themselves disenfranchised for their lifetime, couldn’t do anything. There was nothing to build.  Nothing to believe in. There was only the certainty their dream had been defeated and they could do NOTHING constructive.

But Ah, they could destroy.  They could pillage, rob, rape, and have fun while doing it.


In literature, there are those who cling to the political correctness, the fixing of wrongs that no one alive is responsible for.  Let’s be happy for that.  They’re empty and often silly – and often the wrongs they want to correct are those their ancestors suffered, and so to Mary-Sue comfort themselves in retrospect – but it’s not burning hatred of humanity.

That’s the ones who want all humanity to die, who write – time and again – humanity ultimately defeated by MORE MORAL aliens.  Because if the world isn’t going to be run by their kind, if the communism they dreamed of isn’t going to come, world without end, and bring happiness to all, then they want to see the world burn.

This is bad enough in the arts – frankly, anything that produces Avatar or even the Matrix, where humans are used as an energy source (pfui) is very bad indeed – but it’s worse in government.  We’re now being governed by desperadoes.  They want to take our system apart, not because they have something that works better but because “if I can’t have my system, I’ll break yours.”

This is what’s behind Obamacare.  It’s not some cunning plan.  They can’t avoid knowing (well the peons can, but not the people at the top) that single payer doesn’t work well anywhere and barely works in some areas, and even there is decaying.  They aren’t trying to push us towards anything – except destruction.

They’ll be happy if Obamacare destroys our system, and it’s a bonus for destroying our economy too.  Because they can’t have what they wanted and so we can’t either.  The peons, the people with no education, and even those of us who are educated, but clearly stupid (because we don’t believe as they do) CAN’T be vindicated.  It can’t be.  Our future must be burned, as theirs was.

They’re desperadoes.  And instead of roaming the Western part of the country with two six shooters and rage in their hearts, they have power.

But desperadoes can’t build.  And they can’t win.  They know they can’t win, which is why they’re desperadoes.  It’s all pain and black rage.  And what they’re teaching the kids is bland pap.  It won’t hold.  Not when life goes pear shaped. Not when the destruction they’re trying to bring on occurs.

Build under, build around, create networks, learn specialties.  When it all falls, we can build again.

And we must be ready.


345 thoughts on “Desperadoes

  1. I’m not all that sure that, at least not in the beginning, the post-war generation was all that welcoming of communism. After all, our parents were ardent anti-communists — for all they did a poor job of drawing the links between the anti-facism of WWII and the anti-communism of the Cold War.

    It took an awful lot of snark and condescension from people who were — and remain, frankly — traitors to both America and to humanity at large to erode that. Red diaper babies. Hollywood parlor pinks. Hard-core communist moles. The mocking of “better dead than red” and “commies under the bed” — both being manifestly true, but hard truths and thus difficult to stomach in the face of relentless agitprop.

    But still…

    You gotta wonder, for example, what it was in the water in the Ivy League that converted Goldwater girl Hillary Rodham into a doctrinaire Marxist radical. Yeah, sure, there was a lot of teenage rebellion, but people outgrow that, and their training from birth to seven years should take over — at least part-way.

    The thing that gives me hope is that re-reaction, that revisionism-toward-truth, the rebellion in the millennials against their boomer parents — the youth wedge in the TEA parties.

    And… who really are the desperadoes in these times. The bitter-ender radicals? Or the “extremist right” growing ever more terrified of their own government? And who is better equipped to take arms against this sea of troubles?


    1. Thing is, communism works quite well at a very local level as long as everyone in the group knows everyone else and can exert significant social pressure to ensure that everyone produces “from each according to their ability.” Once the group expands beyond that level two types emerge that totally destroy the spirit and intent of true communism. The first is the “I’ll just kick back and let y’all carry the load,” and the second is “I’ll just take charge and run things until we sort it all out and then we can go back to everyone being equal.”
      While she may once have been a true believer, nothing I’ve seen for many years will convince me that HRC is anything other than one of the second sort. It’s all about maximizing her own personal power, and for such as her power over a crippled society is vastly more desirable than a healthy stable society that she does not control.

      1. A lot of things work pretty well while at the bottom of a gravity well, too, but most of the universe doesn’t have enough gravity for those processes to work very well.

        As for the second type … there have been studies showing that Liberals tend, as a group, to be more anxious than conservatives. It has been a while since I glanced at any of those (and, frankly, I tend to dismiss them as equivalent to similar studies about conservative stupidity) but if valid there are certain implications worth examining.

        1. Aristotle actually makes that point in his book Politics — sharing all goods equally works in a family (or a religious community, which is usually structured as a really big family), but not in any community bigger than that.

          Now see, if Marx had just paid attention to that bit of Aristotle, we’d have been spared a lot of trouble.

      2. If you can get past the 1920 critique (1920!) of the dysfunction of communist price setting by Ludwig von Mises, you have a leg to stand on in terms of small governments. Without being able to set a price, you will not deploy resources well and your economy falls apart at whatever size.

        At small sizes parasite price setting by looking at the next village over to imitate their prices makes the defect less devastating. It continues to be present though, whenever local conditions don’t match the next village over that uses a functional price setting system.

        Here’s the critique:

        1. This is called teamwork: I furnish the brains

          We’ll those for the next holiday dinner. 😉

        2. Ah, so you’ve driven by my parents’ house when Dad gets the annual 10 cubic yards of mulch and topsoil mix in. That pretty much sums up Mom’s management style. “Put some there, and there, and there, and . . .”

          Yes Mom.

      3. That’s called, in order, “a co-op or cooperative”, and “game theory – multi-player, individual winner” or “tragedy of the commons”, IIRC.

        To put it slightly more baldly, co-ops are self-enforcing .. everyone agrees to pony up X, and if your X is missing, it’s noticeable and you *will* have to explain.

        The game theory/tragedy is only possible when not contributing X can be hidden .. it’s well above the scale of most co-ops.

        Note that this also applies to rural churches and communities, and has done so since well before the Cold War…


    2. “You gotta wonder, for example, what it was in the water in the Ivy League that converted Goldwater girl Hillary Rodham into a doctrinaire Marxist radical.”

      Sex, drugs, rock and roll?

      It’s always easier to go with your peers, with the secret knowledge the bourgeoisie can’t understand, with the books that all the cool people are reading, with the articulate and sophisticated prof who pressures you, with the sex, with the feminist anger that follows the sex, and so on.

      1. In a highly competitive environment (e.g., Ivy league law school) the choice is Queen Bee or Drone. The insecure and smart will seek to be the Queen.

      2. Eh, I doubt Hillary was deceived .. she just saw that as the best way to get her grubby paws on the levers of power. The GOP wasn’t happy to promote girls into “real” positions at the time, Sandra Day O’Connor being an exception, so ..

        Regurgitate back the professors’ ideology to get a degree; trade the degree and some cunning and contacts to a charismatic bumpkin; trade a governorship for the first lady job …


      3. She could gain status by going along with the flow, and it was easier for her self-respect to convince herself that the ideas of the fashionable set were the rational and moral ones. It’s a horribly-easy thing to do, and it works no matter how hideous the ideology happens to be. You can see an even more extreme version of this in the German universities of the 1930’s.

    3. And… who really are the desperadoes in these times.

      The end of hope is suicide, but it’s the scope of hope that is the question.

      I use to hope for a better world for my children. Then I hoped it wouldn’t get any worse.

      Now I hope they’ll have the hardness to survive what is coming.

      Hell, I hope I do.

      The bitter-ender radicals? Or the “extremist right” growing ever more terrified of their own government? And who is better equipped to take arms against this sea of troubles?

      You’d better hope we never go to guns, because then we’re well and truly buggered.

      We’ll still go, because you die facing the enemy weapon in hand–hopefully surrounded by lots of brass and bodies–not being herded into camps or given special ID cards that mean you get second tier everything, including health care.

      1. “You’d better hope we never go to guns, because then we’re well and truly buggered.

        We’ll still go, because you die facing the enemy weapon in hand–hopefully surrounded by lots of brass and bodies–not being herded into camps or given special ID cards that mean you get second tier everything, including health care.”

        Second that!

  2. I guess that would explain the whole “islam can do no wrong” thing, too.
    You recommend just keeping your head down until they burn out, which would be my inclination except, I hate the thought of doing nothing and leaving my grandkids holding the bag.

    1. Islam is: 1) not Western, and in many ways opposed to the Western tradition, 2) formerly oppressed, at least according to the PC crowd, 3) clear-cut and simple to understand, or at least simple for the PC folks to think they understand, 4) possessed of one of the greatest PR machines ever developed, 5) Romantic, despite the protests of the PC crowd who will decry Orientalist art but laud movies [The Wind and the Lion, Lawrence of Arabia, Hidalgo] while praising the “beauties in the poetry of the Koran” and Persian architecture.

      1. I’ve always disliked that saying. It implies there is a good guy to pick from. Just ain’t so sometimes. The enemy of my enemy? Yea, he can kiss my hairy backside too!

        1. The “take away” I get from the Schlock Mercenary version “The enemy of my enemy is not my friend. He’s my enemy’s enemy. No more, and no less” is that you may be able to work with him against the common enemy but don’t make the mistake of assuming that makes you friends.

          1. Two questions to choosing an ally. Will he shoot, and will he aim at my enemies? (stolen from Lee and Miller,

            Works out about the same as the Schlock Mercenary variant.


            1. Just make sure you know what to do when you no longer have enemies for him to shoot at.

      2. I’ll buy that. I’m unable to tolerate evil doer’s even if we share an enemy. I never liked the original.

  3. Sarah, I think this is the most disturbing thing I’ve ever read from you. And the worst of it, the part that leaves a knot in the pit of my stomach, is my conviction that you are spot on correct. I copied that last bit on desperadoes in an e-mail to every friend I thought capable of comprehension along with the link to your blog.

  4. I appreciate the thrust of this entry, but had to comment on your comment about A Canticle for Leibowitz. I too still enjoy this book as it iswell written, and seems to focus on the individuals who maintain their humanity even if what happens around them is moving the wrong way. Is the end a bad news, or a hopeful note?

      1. Earth Abides. I’ve read it. I own a copy. I never read it because it’s so gloomy, even if it is a classic of it’s kind.

        1. Good story, but I often wanted to strangle the protagonist. A more ineffectual person is hard to imagine. Trying to force children in a world so severely underpopulated into a classroom setting? Teaching in that situation should’ve taken the form of individualized instruction and reading *fun* stories. And the habit of the people of living off canned goods as long as possible rather than *immediately* starting to farm, while stockpiling all the canned and freeze-dried stuff was beyond stupid.

          I’m about as anti-social a person as can function in a public setting, and even *I* could’ve done a better job!

          1. Haven’t read the book, but have heard the equally lauded radio plays of it.

            I knew there was something I didn’t like about the protagonist; didn’t realize he was that poor of a planner.

          2. I saw part of the point of the story as his development as a person – that he shed his cargo-cult-style attachment to ways which did not work (including classroom instruction) after the death of his protege, and then was able to move forward.

            I found that his having some element of denial highly believable when confronted with an overwhelming loss and disruption (judging by my own reaction when confronted by smaller things than the death of 99.9% of the population of the world)

    1. I wish I could re-read my copy, but the type is currently too small.

      Maybe after I get new glasses.

  5. I think this thesis helps explain the amity between Islamofascists and lefties. Sure, the lefties will be the first to have their heads lopped off when the Caliphate takes over. I think Egypt makes that completely clear. If the future isn’t Communist, then there can be no future. And the fanatics screaming Allah Akbar are a means toward that end.

    I know you’re too young to remember 1968 and Czechoslovakia when Russian tanks killed all hope for “Communism with a human face,” but I would be interested to learn how that fits in with your analysis.

    1. I remember Czechoslovakia — for a while the leftists in our circle went very quiet, then slowly, almost imperceptibly, they went back to the Russian side. Religion, see, and wanting to feel right with their “church”

          1. The Hungarian situation was brought home forcefully for me when I was in Germany the first time. My upstairs neighbor was a Chief Master Sergeant. His wife was a Hungarian refugee who fled Hungary in 1956, leaving the two older of her three children with her sister, after the Russians killed her husband. She had NOTHING good to say about communism, the Russians, or the Hungarian government. I saw her again during my second tour to Germany. Her husband had died two years before, and she’d been able to get one of her two remaining children to come to Germany and live with her. The last time I heard from her, in 1996, she’d moved back to Hungary, and was living with her sister and her oldest son. Her son had to write the letter, because she had arthritis so bad in her hands she couldn’t write. She still didn’t think much of the Hungarian government. She said it would take fifty years to get rid of all the aparachtniks that still filled most of its ranks.

            1. This is one of the major issues with Russia and so many other bloc countries. Added to the fact the mob was so used to capitalism they too moved readily into ‘legit’ power, it is a long slog with the possibility to GTHIAHB at every turn.

    2. I don’t think that the Leftists really believe that the Islamofascits will win. Deep down, they either believe that the Muslims are only attacking us because of our sins, so if we are nicer to them they will stop attacking; or, that if worst comes to worse, the despised Right will protect them (even though it won’t stop the despite).

  6. Then again, I’m not convinced those will the will to power necessarily believe in anything beyond wealth and power.

        1. All you need to do is know a bit of history to see that more often than not “true believer” and “foolish puppet” are simply different terms for the same thing.

          1. Very true, but I don’t think the string pullers subscribe to any belief system beyond me first.

            1. Which string-pullers? Axelrod? Valerie? The {excrement}-filled silk stocking D.C. apparatchiks like our current Secretary of State?

              I think there are some who are just along for the ride, but .. many want to use their puppet to further their ends ..


              1. Which string-pullers?

                Ayers. Remember where he got his political start: in Ayers’ living room.

                1. Don’t forget Soros. Although he may be a level higher, pulling the strings of the string-pullers.

              2. Which string-pullers? Axelrod? Valerie? The {excrement}-filled silk stocking D.C. apparatchiks like our current Secretary of State?

                More puppets. You never see a good string puller, or at least never recognize them as what they are. Gotta look under rocks.

      1. Our current president is a nonentity — a stuffed shirt. The question is how typical he is.

  7. I wasn’t sure where you were going with the Desperados term, but you did explain it. However, most of the way through I was thinking that the term you need that was opposite to apostate was Postulant, as in someone attempting entry into the order/society/cool gang, and needing to chant the right dogma and shibboleths to be noticed and brought it to the higher orders and inner circles of wealth and power. The desperation would be from seeing the goals crumble and recede, and that calls for greater volume and greater sacrifice.

    1. Your definition of postulants made me pull this paragraph from my current work:

      An obscure Harry Harrison quote from Bill the Galactic Hero came to him then, “They are everyone who wants to be one of them…. They die off and are replaced, but the institution of theyness goes on.” It’s something you see in all the low level functionaries who follow what they think is the agenda of some secret conspiracy they can’t even be sure exists, in the hopes that they will be rewarded for their loyalty by the unseen masters behind the plot. The masters might not even exist, but the plot goes on, leaderless, without true direction, but still advancing in its vague way.

      Kinda like the IRS scandal, if we can believe that it wasn’t directed from the top.

  8. Yes, a dark age of one size or another is coming. The only thing that gives me any hope at all is there are people in our “empire” who understand it’s coming and are getting ready. An important question yet to be answered is will it be enough to reboot a new renaissance in a short time frame, or will it be a second Charlemagne, something that holds back the rot for a while but ends up giving way before the tide.

    And as for our own Sunking, it must be remembered his narcissism trumps his ideology. I suspect he clings so tightly to his ‘progressivism’ because it supports his ego. His ego is huge, but fragile. Trump has a huge ego, but he seems to have a healthier psyche otherwise. Thus the POTUS can never admit what he believes – and by extension himself – can be wrong, while The Donald has little trouble admitting to a blunder when forced to face the facts.

        1. I was going to say only if they both could lose, then I thought NAH I want the One to lose. Then Donald can goldplate him and call him Trump President, and it will at least be a funny disaster.

          1. Trump is a certified buffoon and ego-maniac, but he at least actually knows how to create wealth. He has built things, made payroll, made money, has some small notion of how the economy works in the real world. I find him personally repellent, but there is no doubt that he could do a better job than the gibbering, sanctimonious, ill-educated, fool we have now.

            To quote the general from War Games, “Hell, I’d piss on a spark plug if I thought it would do any good.”

              1. Didn’t anyone tell Obama not to pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel?

                Perhaps nobody did, as most of the ink-buyers are of his ideology …

                Much as I dislike Trump, this is a “war of the faux titans” I’d like to see happen.


            1. his preferred method is Crony Capitalism and Kelo style land grabs. Then again moments of truth come out of his mouth. After he came to New Orleans for a week to investigate building a Casino, he left after three days and stated “I wouldn’t build and outhouse in Louisiana” …

  9. Maybe it’s some of the personal crap I’ve gone through this morning but part of me wants to just go with the “let it burn” crowd and build something after the smoke clears. Part of me wants to fight it now and turn everything around. The thing is, it’s easier to destroy than to create or fix and it’s easy to lose hope while looking at the big picture that’s immediately before us.

    1. Even with let it burn, you can meaningfully prepare to shorten the recovery period. In fact, some actions can serve double duty.

    2. I am about there too. The thing is that to turn it around, you must utterly destroy the power of the vile progs (thank-you Sarah). This means either killing a substantial portion of them or at least totally stripping them of political power. As our system is designed to make it very difficult to strip anyone of policial power and the vile progs are around 50% of the population (yes, it is not always their fault, but neither is rabies in a dog). I see no peaceful way of accomplishing that. Therefore my current belief is that letting it burn is necessary to get rid of the people that are destroying the system and enslaving us. Once the system crashes they can be disposed of by simply refusing to help them.

      1. I think you’re mistaken in assuming that vile progs are 50% of the population. In 2012 they were around 50% of the electorate, but you must bear in mind that in 2012 Obama had to scour the woodwork for voters, as well as take advantage of his unprecedented turnout and support in the racist black community (which is nearly identical to the black community). 63 million votes is as many as the Democrats can expect in the near future. Turnout was less than 60%. If Republicans ever got over their recto-cranial inversion and ran someone in the model of Reagan I don’t think it would even be close.

        We ain’t licked, we haven’t even begun to fight.

        1. If Republicans ever got over their recto-cranial inversion and ran someone in the model of Reagan I don’t think it would even be close.

          The Spartan reply to Alexander.

        2. Washington Examiner column this weekend:
          Republicans want a 2016 candidate who’s fearless; that’s what Ted Cruz is selling
          By Byron York | 08/24/13
          Cruz does seem genuinely unafraid. He’s certainly not afraid to alienate some of his fellow Republican lawmakers, or cause Democrats and some in the media to call him crazy. To many in the GOP base — the grassroots — he’s antagonizing all the right people.
          [END SNIP]

          Of course, as York points out, this is not sufficient reason to vote for a candidate — we also want judgement, wisdom and numerous other attributes. But it is a necessary attribute in a party which has long seemed embarrassed by its base.

          1. We’ve had far too many McClellans, Hookers, and Meades. It’s time to find ourselves some Shermans and Grants.

            1. We need pols with Sherman’s attitude towards the press. He was once saddened at the news of a steamship’s sinking, until he learned there were a number of reporters who went down with the ship. That cheered him right back up.

              1. William T. Sherman:
                “If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast.”

              2. Sherman is one of my heroes. I frequently reference his letter to Atlanta whenever someone starts bitching about all the civilian casualties in the current war.

      2. Once the system crashes they can be disposed of by simply refusing to help them.

        Hasten the crash by refusing to help them now.
        Who is John Galt?

        1. Have you looked at corporate tax records recently? Seriously, look at corporate tax receipts from 2001 until 2012. John Galt appears to be in the accounting department, companies have flat stopped paying taxes…

          I don’t know about you, but I’ve started paying a tax guy (I did my own for *years*) to keep every penny he can away from D.C….. and I’m still within the law! I know others who are .. let’s say going beyond that point.


          1. and I’m still within the law! I know others who are .. let’s say going beyond that point.


              1. Yep, and because I don’t usually have enough ca$h on hand to throw into an HSA or IRA to offset .. and yes, your priorities are in the correct order.


      3. I suspect (hope) you overestimate the population of actual progressives. The vote is composed of some small percentage of believers and those seduced by apolitical concepts. In short, they’re not politically sophisticated enough to work through the application of theory and predict its failure, but they’re able to deduce cause from effect. These folks (are)will abandon(ing) progressive ideology to some degree because it never pays what it promises.

        As to killing a substantial portion of them, I ask you to consider that sentiment in more detail. Having some familiarity with the practicalities of combat I really don’t want to go to war with 50% of the population. And most assuredly not under a banner of ‘utterly destroy.’

        The dangerous fallacy I’m reading into this (with the caveat that my bias may be leading me to misread you) is the notion of a monolithic opposition. This is useful in conflicts between nation-states, and devastating in civil conflict.

        Please feel free to slap me about the head with my misinterpretation, I don’t mind.

    3. What makes you think “they”–for several suitable values of “they” aren’t fully onboard with burning it down so *they* can rebuild it in an image more compatible with the last 50,000 years of mankind.

      Call it “Paleo Goverment”.

  10. I had my own epiphany about Left and Right in South Africa after the advent of democracy in 1994.

    Prior to that, the policy of apartheid had meant racial segregation, the suppression of individual rights in favor of the state, and a blinkered approach to humanity that meant only whites were regarded (in so many words) as ‘fully human’. Every other race was lesser, and should be treated as such (including stripping some of their South African citizenship and casting them out into ‘tribal homelands’ that no-one else in the world recognized). Taken to its logical conclusion, this meant that Japanese and Chinese (whose trade was essential) were officially classified as ‘honorary Whites’. (What they felt about this is not recorded.) It also led to the deliberate, dispassionate murder of tens of thousands of Black people, from activists such as Steve Biko (whose death in police custody, the Justice Minister said, ‘left him cold’) to ordinary men and women in the street, shot dead by police in sweeps through the segregated Black townships. (Don’t tell me they were all ‘terrorists’ – I was there, and saw for myself. I bear wounds from police bullets to this day. I also bear wounds from terrorist bullets and knives. Both sides hated those few of us who tried to help the victims, irrespective of ideology. They couldn’t control us, or our message, so we were targets.)

    The epiphany came after our first democratic elections, when the so-called Truth and Reconciliation Commission began to arrange its first hearings. I’d seen so much during the evil years that I had plenty of evidence to provide. I duly asked to give evidence, and provided a summary outline of some of the events I’d witnessed.

    I received a phone call a few days later. No, I could not give evidence about so-called ‘terrorist’ atrocities – only about those committed by the apartheid government. I said, bluntly, that I’d seen everything – I even had photographic evidence of some incidents – and that I’d tell the whole truth, not an edited, selective version. I was then told, by a Commission executive, bluntly and unambiguously, that if I attempted to ‘smear’ the ‘liberation movements’ with my ‘lies’, I’d be killed before they’d allow me to give evidence.

    There it was. 27 of my friends died in trying to help the victims of violence perpetrated by both sides (including my fiancée). I’d shed my own blood trying to do the same. Now we knew that the free, fair, just society we’d been working for was a chimera. One form of racist dictatorship would simply be replaced by another. Thus it happened, and the evidence of it may be seen in South Africa to this day.

    Yes, I felt like a fool – but not completely. We saved many lives in those years. Hopefully some of them at least counted for something.

    I also learned to distrust any government of any description whatsoever. They exist to serve the ends of the people in power. They do not exist to serve the interests and needs of the people themselves. That applies on Left or Right, in democracies or dictatorships, no matter what their (stated or unstated) motivation or philosophy may be. Distrust power. The same applies to almost any institution (including churches and other religious movements). I saw and experienced politically-motivated betrayal of the truths they proclaimed by many Christian leaders during those years. I came to forgive them, reluctantly, afterwards . . . until the sex abuse scandals blew up, and I found that those leaders in other countries were just as corrupt, just as eager to protect their institution and their own power as any others. I no longer participate in organized religion at all, as a direct result. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

    I hope my friends who died, didn’t die in vain. Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I wonder whether I’ll ever know.

    It’s not a nice feeling.

    1. I hope that you gave your testimony eventually and if you have not yet, you do so safely from a different jurisdiction and publish it on net along with your evidence.

      The truth should be out there.

    2. “I also learned to distrust any government of any description whatsoever. They exist to serve the ends of the people in power. They do not exist to serve the interests and needs of the people themselves. ”
      As ever was, is now, and ever shall be. Which is why I maintain that while some government may be necessary all government is evil.
      Gives one an even greater appreciation for how truly anti government were our founding fathers here in the US. The entire purpose of our constitution was to strangle the beast. Pity it’s been increasingly less effective since shortly after the ink dried on the original document.

      1. “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” — George Washington

        1. And like fire, it is neither good nor evil. It is however very, very, dangerous and very necessary under most circumstances.

          Perhaps when thinking about government, one should also think about how one creates a fire safely in the woods. Scraping down to mineral soil, creating a ring of dry stones, keeping it as small as possible consistent with doing the job and always having the means at hand to extinguish it if it even looks as if it is getting out of hand.

          1. always having the means at hand to extinguish it if it even looks as if it is getting out of hand.

            It’s going to take a lot of water. Can we arrange a tsunami?

            1. Three ways to kill a fire.

              1) Cool it below the point of burning. (water works, in part, because of this)
              2) Smother it so it can’t get oxygen. (water works, in part, because of this)
              3) Remove the fuel source. (does not require water at all)

              I suggest that the analogy is correct, but that it may be easier to remove the fuel than provide enough water.


              1. I suggest that the analogy is correct, but that it may be easier to remove the fuel than provide enough water.


                Good point. Just wishful thinking on my part.

          2. And like fire, it is neither good nor evil.

            You’ve obviously never fought a fire.

            The one difference between fire and government is that fire only wants to feed, and while it will fight you as hard as it can in the moment, it cannot plan. Government is full of people who have intent beyond just feeding, they can plan, they can lay far lower than fire. Fire cannot lie. Government cannot tell the truth.

            very necessary under most circumstances.

            On good days I think we can do without it. On bad days I think we deserve it.

    3. An interesting perspective. Must’ve been real harrowing living through all that. But that’s what courage is all about.

    4. I’m guessing that had you gotten murdered by the new regime, the killing would have been blamed on the old regime, and “enlightened” media everywhere would have spread the story without questioning—without even considering—its accuracy.

      Be well.

    5. If your friends died for race equality, then yes, their blood and pain has been wasted. South Africa is on its way to imitate Zimbabwe.

      Lesson: Never fight for a regime change if there are some communists one the same side (such as the ANC). The commies will take over and their dictatorship will replace the old one.

        1. When I came back from South Africa around 1984 I was sounding the call that ANC was being run by the communists. I wasn’t believed. I was told that I was on the side of apartheid and was being raaaaaaaacist. Even now when I say my piece about the ANC (I even had newspaper photos of them with the USSR flag behind certain leaders), I am still told that I didn’t know what I was seeing. *sigh It bothers me still.

          1. Crazy as it sounds, to some people, their vision of what should be, is more real to them than actual reality.

          2. Yeah, those flaming tires people wore around their necks were just a bold fashion statement.

          3. ” I am still told that I didn’t know what I was seeing. *sigh It bothers me still.”

            They probably told you you weren’t arguing with idiots (or worse) either.

              1. Once you have identified an idiot, be warned- arguing with them may drag you down to their level, where they can beat you with experience.

                Let’s face it. We’ve all been stupid a time or two in our lives. Well, maybe more than two. But that’s all I will admit to just now. Some people, however, are experts at it. They live their entire lives in stupidville. It’s rather sad.

          4. my first eye opening experience was way back in ’85 or ’86 with a girl from there who tore into one of my co-workers for expressing support for Nelson, expecting her to be sympathetic. She was black after all. But an ANC backed group had killed family (and may have injured her … egad, my memory is getting horrid) and she was certainly no fan, and stated that he was just a common terrorist who could rot in jail by her second choice.

            1. Oh yea– true… they went after anyone in their communities who wasn’t on board with their “program.” Many Zulus and Sotos were killed by the ANC.

      1. Kind of makes me wonder what the world would look like if we had simply ignored Europe after Operation Barbarossa. Built up Britain’s defenses, kept up the pressure on the U-boats in the Atlantic, but leave Hitler and Stalin to slug it out. Focus on defeating Japan, then take that Pacific Fleet, sail it through the Suez, and make the Mediterranean an American lake.

        There would probably be no such thing as a European Jew, but there would probably be a lot more Africans and Latin Americans alive.

          1. I’m not so sure. We supplied A LOT of matériel to the USSR, mostly the critical – and overlooked – logistic support (for years after the war “studebaker” was Russian slang for truck). Without that they would have been in a much more difficult spot.

  11. “But desperadoes can’t build. And they can’t win. They know they can’t win, which is why they’re desperadoes.”

    Reminds me of something:

    “Around Dodge City and in the territory on west, there’s just one way to handle the killers and the spoilers and that’s with a U.S. Marshal and the smell of gunsmoke.”

    The people you’re talking about are the “spoilers”. The people they enable are the “killers”.

  12. Which brings us to the anarchist position, where I never thought I’d be.
    Glad to know you.

  13. I never expected communism to win, at least not in the same style as practiced by all the Russian leaders from Lenin to Gorbachev, because they were running counter to almost everyone’s basic desires for more money, and more security, yet more freedom. I also was against the idea of coopting art to be an advertisement for the greatness of Marxism. As an artist, I prefer Me-ism.

  14. You have to put yourself back then, back when people my age and just a little younger grew up. Even those who weren’t communists, expected communism would win. It was logical right? Planned was better than unplanned. If someone made decisions, there would be less waste. And look at the big things government had done.

    That was the joy of Thatcher (and Reagan I guess but I didn’t experience him). She insisted and then showed that decline was not mandatory and that governments don’t need to run everything – and that things are generally better when they don’t, Of course she’s hated with a passion in the parts of the UK where decline and govt intervention had gone on so long the only option was radical surgery but there’s a reason why so many British people of my generation (the ones who grew up/came of age in the 1980s/early 90s) are loyal Thactherites. We remember what it was like in the 1970s. I personally don’t remember the power cuts of the early years well but I do remember the “winter of discontent” and so on. The contrast between the grimness of the late 1970s and the optimism of the 1980s was amazing.

    Sweden can be held up as an ideal, but heck they know that it doesn’t translate to a country the size and diversity of ours. And besides, Sweden is starting to show cracks, and they know that. They run to Australia and draw quite the wrong conclusions from the Australian recovery, but the cracks are showing there too. Ten years ago they lectured us endlessly about the EEC, but heck, you know, it never did that well, and if they go on vacation and venture even slightly off the beaten path, they can’t avoid knowing the truth. It’s shabby. It’s drab. It’s the Soviet Union with a softer face. Communism in installment plans. And the news from the PIIGS are grim.

    Actually Sweden could be held out as an ideal by small government people. The Swedes, while more central than the Swiss, also delegate a lot of things down to the local community and have privately run energy companies, health care, telecoms, and all sorts of other things that Sweden’s admiriers on the left don’t seem to realize (such a education vouchers and low corporate tax rates).

    The best way to drive home to a visitor to Europe about how bad it is, is to take a train ride from London to Milan via Paris and Zurich. Make sure that the visitor changes station ins Paris (from say the Gare du Nord to Dare de Lyon) and has to figure out how to do this. Then once they’ve experienced the seedy undergound of Paris they can see how nice Zurich is (unless you are Oprah) and then catch the train thtough the Gotthard tunnel to Milan. The great bit here is that once through the tunnel you are in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. it looks lovely, so mediterranean, so romantic and so beautiful. Then you get to the Italian border and see just how seedy the real Italy is. Your journey concludes in Milano which has a couple of nice areas and many not so nice one. If you feel you haven’t had enough of grotty Italy take another train to Naples, via Rome. Be sure to ride on both subways in Rome. And be sure to walk down many back streets in Naples. If you survive you’ll understand why Europe isn’t all it is cracked up to be

    1. Actually, they should continue their train trip to Genoa, to fully experience just how seedy many places in Italy are. An even more stark contrast is to travel from Rimini to San Marino, whether by road or rail. The minute you cross the border into San Marino, you know it.

      I never liked Paris, and found Amsterdam far more enjoyable. Of course, I haven’t been back since 1989, and things may have changed.

      1. Genoa has been tarted up. It’ got grimy corners but it isn’t really worse than Milano in that respect – and has rather more to offer the tourist. We went there about 18 months ago

  15. Your description of Desperados reminded me of my all-time favorite Western, The Outlaw Joesy Wales ( “Desperado” certainly describes Josey, although in his case, he was able to find something to care for rather than rail against and return to “civilized society” by the end.

    I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere giving providing some sliver of hope for our future.

  16. I grew up in the Midwest of USA in the 1950s and 1960s. No one would admit to being a communist then. I think it is a very different experience to what you describe growing up in Portugal .

    “This is what’s behind Obamacare. It’s not some cunning plan. They can’t avoid knowing (well the peons can, but not the people at the top) that single payer doesn’t work well anywhere and barely works in some areas, and even there is decaying.”

    Obamacare is not single payer. Medicare for those over 65 is a government run single payer system, although even it has private insurance options (Medicare Advantage). Are people over 65 enraged about Medicare and demanding it be abolished?

    The basic problem is a person or family’s health is simply not an insurable risk. Insurance is about pricing risk. That’s what insurance companies do. They make their profit by charging the customer more than they expect to pay out to that customer on average. If you are young and healthy, companies will gladly sell you health insurance. If someone in your family is seriously ill they will not. Say the insurance company knows that insuring your family for the next year will cost $100,000 or more. How could they possibly price that insurance less than $100,000? Any insurance company that priced policies a policy they know will cost $100,000 for less than that would go out of business. It is not because the insurance company is evil. The insurance business is about pricing risk. Your families health is only an insurable risk as long as everyone is health.

    Now your state may have laws that prevent a health insurance company from canceling your policy or raising premiums excessively because someone in the family gets sick, but once some in your family is sick, you are stuck. You cannot change insurance companies. You are high risk and no other company will cover you.

    An individual or families health is simply not an insurable risk. The whole reason the US health care system works at all, is that the vast majority of people that have insurance do not buy it on the individual market. Their employers buy the health insurance for them. A insurance company can look at all the families of a large company, and they can see a few seriously ill people in that pool, but most of them are healthy. They can come up with a semi-reasonable price to cover the whole pool. The employer shops the insurance market and negotiates prices, usually for several different types/levels of coverage.

    Obamacare is just another way of forming pools to buy health insurance. If your employer does not provide insurance, you will be able to buy private health insurance through state sponsored programs. Families with very low incomes will get a subsidy to help them buy insurance.

    Today we have this crazy system. Hospitals must provide treatment in emergency room regardless of the ability to pay. That is an unfunded government mandate. Who pays for that treatment? People who have insurance pay higher premiums to cover the uninsured and state and local taxes usually pay part of the cost of that treatment. I would have no problem with young, healthy people saying “I don’t need health insurance,” provided I was not the one paying for their medical treatment if they are in a serious accident. Hospitals are not allowed to just toss the uninsured back onto the street to die. We need a way of paying for that.

    1. No — that line alluded to the fact that Obamacare is rumored on the right to “want to push us to single payer” because it’s unworkable.
      Mike — no one admitted to being a communist, but the memes slipped in anyway, and Robert A. Heinlein says the democrats were taken over by Communists in the thirties. I see no reason not to believe him. I heard the same speech from communists AND Carter… in 1980.
      You know what would fix our system: you pay for your own care. That’s it. But what about the indigent? Well, there will need to be a system for them — what we have is a way to cover it, but the insurance in the middle makes the whole thing crazy. Adding more insurance makes it crazier. And charging people a tax for existing is making the Founders spin in their graves.

      1. I was not around in the 1930s. It does not seem like FDR or Truman were exactly Communists.

        Communists advocated government ownership and control of agriculture and industry. I don’t see anyone in the USA proposing a government take over of farming and/or industry. Yes the government sells heavily subsided crop insurance to farmers, and the government bailed out GM, Chrysler, AIG, and the big banks when they got in trouble, but that is not the same thing as Communism.

        I would argue these are bad practices. Cheap subsidize crop insurance encourages bad farm practices. Bailing out failed big corporations encourages sloppy business practices. It is not only Democrats that vote to keep crop insurance, and it was not only Democrats that voted for the big TARP bailout.

        I think people have forgotten what Communism really was all about. They like to call Obama and Democrats Commuists, then turn around and vote to continue subsidize crop insurance for farmers.

        1. Agree about “not full scale Communists”. However, I agree with Sarah about the “infection” of the US and Western Europe by Marxist ideas which includes Socialism. While IMO the Democratic Party has been infected more deeply than the Republican Party, the infection can be found in both Parties and within the general public. I doubt that you’ll find many defenders of the things you mentioned here.

        2. You are quite right — FDR & Truman were not, technically, communists. The proper term for what they were is fascists, but that word has acquired unsavory connotation over the years.

          Study some actual history of Germany (I recommend Manchester’s The Arms of Krupp for a start) and you see how government climbed into bed with industry, fomenting crony capitalism and regulating competitors out of existence. (Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism also explores this topic.) FDR essentially turned the regulatory power of government over to his industrial cronies and they in term made themselves subject to his will. (It should be noted that Truman attempted to nationalize the steel industry in 1952 and the railroads soon after, which would probably constitute “government ownership and control of … industry” for all practical purposes.

          The present administration has essentially turned our health care system over to the insurance companies while directing them as to what they must cover (birth control) and what they can eschew covering (the IPAB, aka Death Panel.) He also has dictated (through his agents) what the auto industry must do in tribute to his bailouts (Chevy Volt, e.g.) and what the banks must do in order to remain too big to fail.

          So, not exactly communism, but it is a distinction without a difference. It fosters bad policies and bad decisions and will eventually prove the ruination of America (although FDR’s and LBJ’s Ponzi schemes are achieving that anyway.)

          1. Truman attempted to nationalize the steel industry during the Korean war in order to avoid a strike that he considered threatened the war effort. The strike was tied up with the complicated politics of wartime wage and price controls. Steel workers wages were controlled by a national wage stabilization board and the price that steel companies could sell steel to defense contractors was also controlled.

            The train seizure was in 1950, just months after the start of the Korean war. Truman claimed the country could not afford a train strike while trying to mobilize to intervene in Korea.

            Calling FDR, Truman or Democrats in general Communists or Fascists is just name calling, mostly by people who don’t have any idea what those words even mean. Jonah Goldberg is just a partisan hack. His attempt to relabel Liberalism as Fascism is just childish nonsense. It was Goldberg’s National Review that published two glowing obituaries for Francisco Franco, the fascist Spanish dictator. I don’t think you found many on the left praising Franco that way.

            Hitler’s Nazi party had a socialist element to it, but Hitler had all the real socialist in the Nazi party executed on the “Night of the Long Knives” after he sized power. The Nazi “socialist platform” was simply a ruse to win election. Once Hitler had seized power, he no longer needed to pretend to be socialist, and had all the prominent Nazi socialists murdered.

            1. Geeze, Mike, you have a funny way of defending your positions: by conceding them.

              You admit Truman imposed wage & price controls (as had FDR before him) and attempted to nationalize the steel and rail industries. Which constituted communistic actions. The existence of a “national emergency” is always found for communist (and fascist — again, essentially the same disease) usurpation. Seizure of industry is a cure far out of proportion to the problems.

              Disparaging me for calling “FDR, Truman or Democrats in general Communists or Fascists” names in the same paragraph in which you call me (by implication) ignorant for not sharing your interpretation of what communism and fascism are — even when you have pointed defined communism as “government ownership and control of … industry”, which wage & price controls and seizure of assets would certainly seem to be … and to top it by calling Goldberg a “partisan hack” brings to mind the adage about pots calling kettles.

              Franco is a) old news b) irrelevant c) a clear instance of holding the “errors” of a prior regime against the present management and d) dragging a dead herring across the path to muddy the waters. Even if Goldberg was inclined to defend Franco (I have no idea, nor little interest) it would not invalidate his arguments in Liberal Fascism any more than does your ad hominem effort.

              The fact that there were purer socialists than Hitler does not refute Hitler’s socialism. It merely means he limited the scope of his socialism by combining it with racism. I doubt the difference mattered to the victims of his Konzentrationslager than it did to Stalin’s (or Khrushchev’s or Brezhnev’s or Andropov’s or Gorbachev’s) gulags. Your splitting of hairs just makes the comb-over that is your argument more pathetic.

              1. Racism can hardly be said to limit the scope of socialism, or you must say that Marx and Engels aren’t purists. Engels wrote of there were “world-historic” peoples, who would bring about the Communist paradise — and the others, whose task was to perish.

              2. “You admit Truman imposed wage & price controls (as had FDR before him) and attempted to nationalize the steel and rail industries. Which constituted communistic actions. The existence of a “national emergency” is always found for communist (and fascist — again, essentially the same disease) usurpation.”

                In the bygone era, American leaders asked everyone to make sacrifices in the time of war. Not only were wage and price controls imposed, but rationing of strategic commodities, like gasoline and rubber, was ordered during WW II. Today we only ask our service men and woman to make sacrifices. Our leaders are afraid to ask everyone to sacrifice a little to protect our country.

                Richard Nixon imposed wage and price controls in the 1970s. Does that make Nixon a fascist or communist?

                Calling FDR a Fascist makes no sense at all to anyone who know anything about history. It was FDR that declared the USA would be an “Arsenal of Democracy” and pushed through the Lend-Lease program to sell armaments to England, the USSR and China to help fight the Fascists in Germany and Japan nine months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

                Many conservatives and some liberals joined the America First Committee (AFC) to oppose FDR’s attempt to come to the aid of countries fighting against Fascism, and to prevent FDR from entering WW II.

                Are those the actions of a Fascist sympathizer?

                Come on. These are all political labeling games. Goldberg was tired of conservatives being called Fascist, so he wrote a book accusing Liberals of being Fascist. It does not make any of it true.

                Fascism is dead. Communism is dead. Those were the bad ‘isms’ of the 20th century. This is the 21st century. We need solutions to 21st century problems, not arguments about ancient history.

                1. Let me guess, you learned history in public schools. The fact that FDR spoke of democracy is irrelevant. Socialists, and their close cousins the fascists, throw the word “democracy” around liberally (pun intended). For example, the official name of North Korea is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. There’s precious little democracy north of the 38th.

                  FDR was a fascist. Everything he did or attempted from his inauguration was formulated to increase government control of the economy. He presumed to tell private Americans what property they could own. He used threats to break a co-equal branch of government to his will. His actions made Pearl Harbor possible. He had to be told that his plan to eliminate corporate profits on war material would make it impossible to supply the military. He is, quite simply, the worst President of the 20th century, and a close runner-up behind Buchanan for worst ever.

                  Communism isn’t dead. Neither is fascism. Obama is a communist. He compromises to fascist. That you “think” otherwise means you put the “idiot” in “useful idiot.”

                  1. If FDR was a fascist, why did he want to aide the countries fighting fascism, like England, the USSR and China? Why did he not push for the USA to come to the aid of Fascist Germany in its fight with the Communist USSR?

                    So you don’t like FDR. That does not make FDR a Fascist or a Communist.

                    1. Because, you simpering idiot, there’s a difference between economic fascism and political fascism, AKA totalitarianism.

                      I think it mostly had to do with Hitler being so uncouth as to start a war.

                    2. That’s a bit like saying because a guy gives to charity, tithes regularly, and would help tackle a purse snatcher he’s a good guy- ignoring the fact that he beats his wife, abuses his kids, and kicks his dog. FDR did a lot of nasty things to *this* country’s system of government that we are still feeling the effects of.

                    3. For that matter, there are people who claim the *major* reason that FDR wanted us involved against Hitler was to ensure US dominance in the world. IE he opposed Hitler because he wanted the US President to be the “Great Leader” not Hitler.

                    4. Your non sequitur is irrelevant. FDR’s admiration for Fascist politico-ecoonomic ideas does not alter his view of the geo-political interests of the US.

                      By the way, you do know that the OSS worked to undermine Britain’s colonial empire during WWII, don’t you?

                    5. Mike, you are committing the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy. It is not because I dislike FDR that I call him fascist; it is because I view him as a fascist that I dislike him. Given his policies (the National Recovery Act, Civilian Conservation Corps, Civil Works Administration, Federal Housing Administration, Public Works Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority and Works Progress Administration to name a few of the worst) I would dislike his administration whether we call him fascist, communist, crony capitalist or monarchist.

                      You really need to learn to be more skeptical about what you read in brochures and advertising pamphlets.

                    6. You know you’ve just proven that the Soviet Union wasn’t communist don’t you? Because the Soviet Union and China fought a short war in 1969 over their border dispute near the Argun and Amur rivers.

                      And you’ve proven that Vietnam was not communist since China and Vietnam fought a short war in 1979. And who knows what you’ve established about the Khmer Rouge regime since the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia …

                    7. You’re assuming that “fascism” is an ideology uniting all those with fascist beliefs of any sort into a single power bloc. This is there is no good theoretical reason why this should be the case. To take the obvious historical counterexample, Mussolini was hostile to Nazi Germany until the Western Allies alienated him over Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia.

                  2. One quick quibble. FDR was the SECOND worst President of the 20th century, behind Woodrow Wilson, who jailed political enemies, used a widespread propaganda campaign, was a horrible racist, and in many instances expanded on policies and philosophies espoused by Teddy Roosevelt.

                    FDR’s close, though. I’ll give you that. > >

                    1. Wilson’s influence didn’t extend much past 1920, mostly because he pretty much killed himself in a failed attempt to win a political battle. We’re still suffering from FDR’s idiocies, mostly because the Republicans internalized many of his stupid ideas.

                    2. Oh, both parties have imbibed pretty deeply of stupid ideas, but I’ll admit the Republicans have adopted plenty of them.

                      But Roosevelt and his advisers, friends, cronies, etc., were all influenced by Wilsonian Progressivism, which is hardly surprising in FDR’s case, seeing as how he served in the Wilson Administration as Asst. Secretary to the Navy.

                    3. The Wilson infection was short term and purged from the system by Harding and Coolidge. The FDR infection lasted longer and no effective anti-viral was administered before Reagan, and then the dosage was insufficient to reverse the damage to the system.

                2. Well, good to know that both fascism and communism are dead. Wish someone would pass the word along to, oh, I don’t know… China? Argentina, maybe? Cuba, perhaps? The social sciences faculty of (INSERT NAME OF PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERSITY OF YOUR CHOICE HERE).

                  To repeat what someone else has already said, it’s pretty obvious you haven’t read Liberal Fascism. Either that, or you’ve decided you don’t need to address its arguments directly, hence the liberal use of handwavium and dismissal.

                  FDR was a vicious anti-capitalist and was openly referred to as fascist by people of the time. (See, for example, the response of the British Ambassador to him from Leuchtenberg’s FDR Years. Where do I find that reference? In the footnotes of… wait for it… Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg.) Of course, FDR was carrying on ideas and philosophy first espoused by Teddy Roosevelt, so it’s not like either party exactly has the cleanest of hands.

                  But it’s the “We need a new solution for new problems!” mantra that really has me shaking my head, because it reminds me of another Goldberg book, The Tyranny of Cliches (which I would highly recommend. Informative and digestible – where LF can be a little dry in parts). The whole “Those things in the past were bad, and we’ve learned a lot, so we’re going to press on with (doing that thing which I am inclined to do anyway)” is pretty weak tea to someone who actually knows and understands the fascist impulses that countries, including America, have suffered in the past, and that we seem to be suffering now (special exemptions to law by Presidential fiat without any justification or ability to issue said exemptions, anyone? Telling a 4-year old girl to get rid of her vegetable garden…? PRISM?)

                  Dude, FDR was fascist. People of a certain generation don’t want to hear that, but it’s absolutely true. Just as Hitler WAS a socialist. National Socialism was, after all, the name of the party, for pete’s sake. And those dictatorial impulses persist – admittedly in BOTH parties. Saying “The Republicans are doing / have done this too” to Hoyt’s Huns will basically get you a nod and a “Yes, they are. Your point being…?” Hell, the whole thing was started by Teddy Roosevelt, perpetuated by Woodrow Wilson, expanded by FDR and then expanded again by LBJ.

                  We are sorry for the horrible situation your family is in. But compassion is no excuse for blindness to history. It may make it understandable in a sense, but we cannot allow compassion to overcome truth, no matter how hard we wish it were otherwise.


                  1. The definition of Fascism has been argued by historians ever since WW II. I don’t think there is any agreement on a precise meaning. To me the defining characteristics of Fascism are:

                    1) Authoritarian and anti-democratic.
                    2) , Mussolini, who coined the term Fascism, described it as National Syndicalism. Syndicaslism is a collectivist theory related to communism that involves worker control of the economy through unions and syndicates. In actual implementation in Germany and Italy, it basically amount to state planning and management of private industry with weak unions to make workers feel like they had some say.
                    3) Uber Nationalism
                    4) Imperialism/Militarism – Fascist believed war was necessary to unify the nation and consolidate their power.

                    I just don’t see FDR fitting that definition. I missed the part where FDR disbanded Congress, suspended all elections, then invaded Canada to unify the country around him.

                    As George Orwell said “…the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless … almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’.”

                    1. Ah, so because FDR didn’t go all the way to dictatorship, he wasn’t Fascist, and also had no Fascist impulses, etc.

                      Meanwhile, you admit that the term Fascist itself is slippery and people argue about it.

                      You fail, however, to indicate why your view and definition is any better than anyone else’s. Yes, currently fascist can almost be defined as “a conservative who is winning an argument”, but just because FDR doesn’t meet your definition, I should just accept that?

                      I should, maybe, ignore the threats to pack the Supreme Court?

                      Maybe I should ignore the slaughterhouse cases?

                      Perhaps I should ignore the rampant growth of the government under FDR? The work programs (which largely utterly failed to get us out of the Depression)?

                      Maybe I should ignore the internment camps?

                      I don’t know about your viewpoint, but from where I’m standing there was plenty of fascistic impulse in FDR. Whether he fits your definition of fascist is immaterial, and ultimately weakened by your own admission that people disagree on what fascist means.

                      Meanwhile you also take swipes at someone who has done serious scholarship into the term, the history, and its application. Pfui!

                    2. It is a truth universally acknowledged that well intended people can disagree on the precise definition of fascism.

                      To enter into a discussion group with the demand that everybody there conform to your definition of fascism seems a bit much, don’cha think? As good people can disagree on this it ill behooves further discussion. You deny FDR was fascist, nobody else here shares your opinion. You are out-voted as to how fascism will be defined in this forum.

                      Your choice is to accept that outcome and continue to participate or to leave. Further debate on who gets to choose the operating definition of fascism will result in a call for your banishment from further comment. Pointless insistence that only your definition of a term be employed is a form of sullivanism which need not be tolerated.

                    3. “You are out-voted as to how fascism will be defined in this forum.”


                      “Words mean what we say they mean.”

                      “War is Peace”

                      “Freedom is Slavery”

                      “Ignorance is Strength”

                      “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”

                      – The Ministry of Truth

                    4. Wow. Invoking newspeak when you were the one insisting that people here conform to your definition of words. After conceding that the definition of fascist is one we’ve gone back and forth over for the last forty-sixty years.

                      Again, wow. That’s an interesting position to take.

                      Sarah? Why does the universe seem to be insisting that I start talking about projection? > >

                    5. Mike, you asserted that the definition of fascism is not settled. You now contradict yourself by insisting that your definition is the only one allowed. Words do indeed mean what we say they mean — especially when our usage is consistent with dictionaries and common understanding.

                      2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

                      an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.

                      American Heritage
                      As a rule, fascist governments are dominated by a dictator, who usually possesses a magnetic personality, wears a showy uniform, and rallies his followers by mass parades; appeals to strident nationalism; and promotes suspicion or hatred of both foreigners and “impure” people within his own nation, such as the Jews in Germany. Although both communism and fascism are forms of totalitarianism, fascism does not demand state ownership of the means of production, nor is fascism committed to the achievement of economic equality.

                      Library of Economics and Liberty
                      Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the “national interest”—that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.) Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace. Entrepreneurship was abolished. State ministries, rather than consumers, determined what was produced and under what conditions.

                      You have compounded that arrogance by spewing slogans as if they constituted an argument. In addition to argumentum ad hominem you have engaged in post hoc ergo propter hoc and “no true Scotsman/Fascist” arguments.

                      You were advised against sullivanism.

                      Sarah, feel free to drop the hammer, Mike has established he has nothing further to contribute.

                    6. Bannhammer has been dropped. See comment above, though. He’s behaving exactly like the people paid to do this, if perhaps a little more competently.

                      Interestingly, btw A. B. Prosper VANISHED the moment his/her variable IP Shennenigans was mentioned. Go figure, uh?

                    7. One of the hardest things I ever had to learn was that words have meaning and that when a lot of people have a different interpretation than you, at least when interacting with that group, you might consider adopting it, at least temporarily: words have meaning specifically because they convey information _to other people_ and the name of the game is conveying information.
                      The second hardest thing I ever learned was that arguing over definitions gets in the way of arguing over important things.
                      And, if I had to name a life-lesson that I earned by face-planting on reality multiple times, it would be that calling people names rarely changes their minds.

                    8. Well, you are on a roll with logical fallacies, “NoTrueScotsman”, non sequitur, ad hominem …. what’s next?

                    9. “Wow. Invoking newspeak when you were the one insisting that people here conform to your definition of words.”

                      I’m not forcing anyone to conform to my definition. I simply explained what I think the defining characteristics of fascism are and why FDR does not meet that definition.

                      I was then told I had been out voted as to how fascism will be defined here. That strikes me as rather authoritarian. This is a discussion of difference of opinion, not an exercise in group think.

                    10. Sorry, Mike, but arguing over definitions is a waste of time. It is not “a discussion of difference of opinion” when you insist that it is your opinion which must prevail. Having done that you have asserted that there is no difference which you will recognize, everybody must conform to you.

                      Nobody shares your definition of fascism. You refuse to share the definition offered by others. It does not actually matter whether TR, WW, FDR, Truman … or Obama are fascists; that is an argument over terminology which distracts from the primary issue: whether the policies put forth are sound or harmful.

                      If Obama’s Affordable Care Act was workable, providing more comprehensive health insurance at lower costs, it would still be an infringement on liberty and invite abuse by future government officials (see IRS, discriminatory treatment by.)

                      That it won’t lower costs and won’t expand available therapies is worth debating; the definition of fascism is not.

                    11. You know, RES, it is said they’re paying flunkies to go to blogs that even tangentially mention Obamacare and defend the mess. Mike is sounding like one of them.

                    12. By the way, Mike, if you don’t see syndicalism in the original structure of the “New Deal” with its industrial price setting boards, the NRA, etc., then your politico-economics education is rather obviously lacking.

                    13. Mike, you may not be forcing anyone to accept your definition, but in order to argue effectively one must at least have some concepts in common. Your definition of fascism is not what I understand it to be. Others have said the same.

                      Thus far the argument for FDR as fascist is founded on largely his internal policies, to wit, the New Deal et. al. Your argument against seems to be that he was against Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin (fascists!). While your definition may not allow FDR to be a fascist, mine does, to wit:

                      A fascist dictator seeks power and control politically, centralized in one autocrat or a very small group, and is characterized by severe economic and social regimentation, also extols that autocrat or group as superior to all other individuals.

                      FDR exhibits all the trappings of this admittedly rough definition. And his fascist opposite numbers, Hitler & Mussolini agreed. A close reading of history will show several examples of this, as RES outlined above.

                      I can live with you having a different opinion. I’m not going to argue with you over it, that’s *your* opinion. But I’ve yet to see y’all give evidence that could change *my* opinion, based on what I have read of history.

                3. More nonsense from you Mike. FDR’s “New Deal” programs were inspired by Fascist ideas. We didn’t imply that that made FDR into a “sympathiser” of those Fascist nations in WWII more than a decade later.

                  But you stick to trying to discredit people based on an obituary you didn’t like, published decades before, by another author.

                4. FDR imposed wage and price controls and rationing before WWII had started.

                  As others have amply pointed out, FDR’s opposition to Hitlerian Fascism does not make him an opponent of American Fascism. In both cases we are looking at national socialism, and national interests remain. Two people can agree on a destination while violently disagreeing over the route to take.

                  As to your proclamation that “Fascism is dead. Communism is dead.” those are claims based upon facts not in evidence.

                  “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
                  – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

                  The problem here is not an issue of labeling but of underlying substance, and that remains as present and toxic as ever.

            2. Mike, I repeat my earlier question:

              As you recognize that

              Cheap subsidize crop insurance encourages bad farm practices. Bailing out failed big corporations encourages sloppy business practices.

              why on Earth do you imagine they would be beneficial to the practice of health care?

              I will repeat this in reply to every argument you offer until you answer it.

              1. The health care market is already completely distorted. Hospitals have no idea what any procedure actually costs them. They have an arbitrary price list for procedures, and then negotiate across the board discounts with insurance companies to try to make the bottom line profitable for the hospital.

                Politics is a very messy business. Democracy is a very bad form of government, but all the others are far worse. Obamacare is a flawed solution to healthcare mess, but it is the only one that has passed Congress and been signed into law.

                Obamacare is not perfect by a long shot, but it is a step in the direction of making people pay for the health care they demand doctors and hospitals to provide.

                1. It’s also a step in the direction of making people pay. Period.

                  Young people, who don’t *need* this overburdened mess? Punished. People who already save and are prepared to pay their own way? Punished. People whose health is fine, and probably never get sick, don’t go to the doctor? Punished.

                  Doctors and hospitals that have to deal with an even more unweildy and imperfect and often contradictory system? Those are punished, too.

                  The solution is *NOT* more government, more bureaucracy, more regulation. At this scale, they can only make things slower, more expensive, and less efficient on the whole.

                  It beggars the imagination that folk would trust a thing that has a history of so little integrity with their *healthcare.*

                2. Mike, I am going to make a prediction: If Obamacare becomes the single-payer system of the US, should your wife has a return of her cancer and is over the age of, say, 50, the chances that she will get effective treatment, unless she has money or is related to someone important is very low. She would not be young enough to vote enough, pay enough taxes, be a good spokesman for how wonderful things are medically, or be good for someone important who can return favors, to have a large enough return on the high cost of paying for her treatment with limited resources that they pay for with tax revenues that can be used elsewhere. So, like president Empathy says, maybe she gets some pills. And if she was misdiagnosed or given the wrong therapy, well I doubt that you will be granted standing by the court to sue for malpractice since court suits cost money that can be better used to treat patients.
                  I will also point out that one of the major elements of being a Liberal is the unwillingness to read or research any source of information than main-stream media. If you would get away from the cheerleaders and flacks for the power structure in DC you might learn something.

                    1. My experience with “socialized medicine” overseas:



                      And those are just the experiences I was personally involved with. I also know some ex-pats from various countries with “socialized medicine”.

                      This is, of course, the point where someone will say “but I’ve experienced socialized medicine and had good experiences.” Well, does your good experiences make my bad experiences go away any more than my good experiences with American health care make the bad experiences that are sited as reasons for going to “socialized medicine” go away? If those bad experiences count on the one side then mine count on the other. And once you recognize that “socialized medicine” has its own problems the choice of which is “better” is no longer so “obvious” as proponents would like to claim.

                      You can keep your socialized medicine. Just keep it far away from me.

                    2. Yep. what I can’t understand is if they want the pony they think France has (it’s more complex than that. France just wants you to think it has a pony) WHY DON’T THEY GO TO FRANCE?

                    3. I have long made the argument that the folk who want their regimented, government controlled, socialist “paradises” have their choice. Those who want limited government (not the “no government” straw man by those who suggest “moving to Somalia”) under the principles of the Constitution with government limited to it’s minimal powers “to secure these rights” etc. don’t have anyplace but here where we’re currently in the process of losing it.

                      Can’t they just leave us one place on Earth with the kind of government we want? Just one? There’s no place else for us to go.

                      Turns out that concept was a lot older than I had thought:

                    4. “Can’t they just leave us one place on Earth with the kind of government we want? Just one? There’s no place else for us to go.”

                      They won’t leave us alone because they don’t like competition, or anyone being able to choose something other than their “glorious” vision.

                    5. I’m willing to let them live the way they say they want, and point out the many options they have to do so.

                      They aren’t willing to give me the same option.

                      They offer “peace and surrender.”

                      I respond with “war and knife” (a reply that, after first being made famous, has been much more famously misquoted)

                  1. Medicare is a government run single payer system, and all of the people using it are over 50. Are people on Medicare denied effective treatment because of their age?

                    Last time I checked, people on Medicare were more satisfied with their health insurance than younger people on employer based insurance.

                    1. I’ve dealt with Medicare/Medicaid, for my Mother-in-Law (who I hated with a passion, but I couldn’t stand to see anyone treated like that). Any poll you have seen like that has been rigged. They refuse treatment based on rules, without considering the individual case, until you bludgeon them over the head.

                      When you speak to an insurance company about a denial of coverage, it’s usually because something was wrong with the submitted form, and you can fix it either over the phone, or sometimes by resubmitting (the latter is usually an after-the-fact correction, and makes sense because it tidies up the paper trail).

                    2. I’ve dealt with medicare/medicaid AND the VA. Lets just say I have conditions that Medi/MEdi doesn’t want to cover because the VA should cover them, an d the VA doesn’twwant to cover because it is either a) ‘not cost effective’ or b) might mean admitting that the problems have been persistent since when i was discharged.

                    3. ROFL – I’ve got several clients who would spend about an hour kicking you in the shins if they heard you say that.

                    4. “I’ve dealt with Medicare/Medicaid, for my Mother-in-Law…”

                      In sorry to hear your mother-in-law has had such difficulties.

                      Medicaid is a completely different system than Medicare. Medicaid is funded by federal and state tax dollars and states are given considerable latitude how they implement Medicaid. Unfortunately, with the recession, many states have been cutting Medicaid funding and making it harder to get coverage through Medicaid.

                      Obamacare will set up health care exchanges for each state. Private insurance companies will compete for business on those exchanges. If you are unhappy with the way a company treats you, you can switch to another company the next year.

                    5. If you are unhappy with the way a company treats you, you can switch to another company the next year.

                      Assuming there is another company to switch to and that it is any better. In California there appear to only be twelve ( such companies, and at least one of those has reportedly withdrawn (although the Covered California website still lists Anthem Blue Cross as participating — which suggests that the updating of site information is a bit laggard.

                      United Health Group, the largest insurer in the United States, has also decided to pass on participation in the California exchange. Anthem Blue Cross withdrew its bid to participate in California’s Obamacare exchange market. Aetna will continue to sell health insurance directly to employers in California – outside of the government system; but, the company will cease selling health insurance policies to individuals in California entirely leaving 50,000 existing individual policyholders searching for new coverage in January.

                    6. Are you sure? Who have you asked? Have you asked enough people to have a good idea of what is going on? Have you asked a doctor? I’m not asking because I want to know what you think, I’m asking because I want you to think. It sounds like your only sources are from a media that appears to act as if Obamacare is the vindication of their support for president Empathy. If so, then you may want to think again. Because it is not just me and mine that will suffer if you are wrong, you will be caught in the coils of a bureaucracy that will care more about the boxes it has to fill in and an agency’s performance standards than the health of you and the ones you love.

                3. ” Hospitals have no idea what any procedure actually costs them. ”

                  Yes, they do. What makes you think they don’t?

                  1. I’m sure it’s because he has no idea how anyone could calculate the costs, because he can’t.

                    1. The doctor probably doesn’t know. His business office (not the insurance person, because whether you’re talking about an insurance agent, or the doctor’s insurance relations person, they don’t know, either), however, can tell you. Doctors often don’t know much at all about the business side of things, because they are too busy worrying about doing their job, trying to make sure they cover all bases so they don’t get sued, and complying with an ever-more-complex regulatory nightmare (which all contributes to the cost).

                    2. I’ll have to ask the business office next time then. It would’ve been nice if anyone I’d spoken to had suggested that:-/.


                    3. Calculating costs is not truly that hard. All it is, is tedious and finicky. Once you add up all the costs of machines, supplies, prorated rents, fees, depreciations of equipment and such, a percentage of losses on other patients who cannot or will not pay, various caregivers’ times, and whatnot, you have the cost right there. You just have to start by breaking the cost down into easily-digested chunks, then adding up the ones that are associated with any given procedure.

                    4. No, it is because of an article I read about the huge variation in the cost of certain procedures, like a CAT scan, between different hospitals in the same city.

                      For the record, I have nothing to do with the publishing industry. I am a software engineer and work in Silicon Valley.

                      I should add in my experience in the business world, not knowing what it actually costs to manufacture something or deliver a service is fairly common. The way companies distribute cost for overhead items is totally crazy and has nothing to do with reality. Companies just price to value and hope to make money on volume.

                    5. Mike, you really ought learn to be more skeptical of articles you read. They almost always have an agenda and that agenda is rarely an objective presentation of facts.

                      That said, the field of cost accounting, like most fields, seems chaotic to those who don’t understand its intent and purpose. As one of the few things of which I am confident is that almost nobody wants me to attempt to summarize in a few paragraphs the principles of what would amount to a two-year cost-accounting course I strongly recommend you take my word for it that there is system to the apparent madness.

                      I would also suggest that your experience is fairly limited and a poor thing on which to base broad generalization.

                      As a SV software engineer I expect you are familiar with vaporware and might appreciate why so many of us view Obamacare as being at best vaporware and more likely malware. Time will determine who is more accurate in their assessment, and for all our sakes I hope you are the one who is right — but I would prefer to not rely on a parachute somebody else has packed for me.

                    6. Is cost accounting how one determines prices? Sorry if this sounds dim. Who would you recommend I read if I want to know more about cost accounting without going to school for it?

                    7. Whew — not an easy question to answer.

                      Prices are determined by what customers will pay. They aren’t actually related to your cost except in a “cost plus” contract*.

                      That said, how you determine and allocate your costs will decide whether you accept an offered price. The process of assigning costs is more art than science. I recommend Cost Accounting for Dummies if you want a book on the topic, based on familiarity with that line of books and a quick glance at it online. I also recommend the Wiki entry on const accounting for a quick overview of the topic, one which ought be sufficient for most casual inquiries.

                      This is a very broad topic, one which frankly I am not prepared to deal extemporaneously and which I doubt many people have very much interest in. For an interesting insight into the concepts of cost accounting and how they can interact, I strongly recommend The Goal, by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt (search engine his name) which is a novel about a plant manager and his efforts to save his job. It is a pleasant read and places many of the concepts in an accessible setting. Goldratt was an innovative thinker and revolutionized the cost accounting field.

                      *In a “cost plus” contract the buyer agrees to pay the seller for their cost of producing the product or service. Battles can be waged between buyer and provider over what costs are allocable to the product/service.

                    8. CAT scan costs also vary between hospitals based on the age, type and speed of equipment. Older CAT scan gear that takes longer to scan and ten times longer to process the data (very common ) may end up being cheaper since it has been long since paid for. Leased CAT scan gear based in a trailer attached to the back of the hospital is a persistent cost. New gear is extraordinarily expensive, but scans faster and processes the data much faster, meaning more patients can be run through the same machine.

                    9. Jabrwok, also try to ask before the treatment, it is easier to negotiate a discount if you do it before services are provided.

                    10. I’ll keep that in mind. The only likely treatment pending will be whatever the doctor recommends for my elbow (golfer’s elbow…probably tendinosis).

                  2. Probably the way they don’t know what the answer is after you jump through all the hoops, laws, regulations and such.

                    He’s sort of right– they do have a pretty arbitrary price list. It comes from the gov’t, who says “we will reimburse you X amount on Y procedure,” and that gets in the way of recovering medical expenses– so they have to figure out how much they have to charge the uninsured in order to not go out of business to the gov’t, plus how much to charge so that when people walk off on their bills– and turn out to have been using a false ID anyways– are balanced by those who do pay. Insurance companies are more likely to pay than individuals, so you can cut their charges more, but they’ll still pay for the walk-offs.

                    This makes it more complicated than most businesses, who just have theft (walk-offs) and basic bankruptcy to work with, rather than a minimum of three levels of screwery, one of which gets to write the rules.

                4. Mike seriously–
                  I have a serious chronic disease and have had insurance the entire time from my dx. My hubby has been paying two insurance premiums for two years. This year he went to the doctor for a check-up… he had a few problems. Neither insurance would pay for the doctor’s visit. (He has been paying on one of the insurance premiums for over eight years). So we ended up paying the doctor’s visit out of our own pocket. So let me see it cost us 288 for the visits, 200 a month for eight years, and 314 for seven quarters (314 every three months) to visit the doctor… How is that a lower price? AND, we have been paying. How is it forcing us to pay for something that will not be used help us? I think you are not seeing the individual picture.

                  Plus why should an 18 year old pay an insurance premium when they don’t get sick or don’t have risky behaviors? Where is the fairness? Who ends up being penalized? Yes– the middle class who is now slipping into poverty because of Obamacare and other types of taxes like this one.

                  1. One of the insurances is Medicare btw… Obamacare is making insurance incredibly expensive… plus you will see the fees for not having insurance in your taxes for this year.

                5. Having studied the principles of accounting for hospitals (a specialized field, indeed) I assure you that there is good reason hospitals lack any idea what any procedure actually costs them: they are legally prevented from the kind of accounting protocols that would provide that information. For a start, they are not allowed to record indigent care as a charge against operations — when they provide medical treatments they are barred from tracking the expense.

                  Hospital accounting follows the precepts of government accounting in that they imagine what their total yearly operating expenses will be, they imagine what they will get paid, then divide the one into the other. Based on over twenty years experience in accounting I have intimate familiarity with the fallacies of cost accounting and even so I find hospital accounting a stunning concession to throwing one’s hands in the air.

                  Your other arguments are, to put it concisely, silly. “The gear is hopelessly warped so we should bang on it with a hammer” is essentially the sum of your position. Well, that and “it’s the only game they were willing to play so it is the one we have to play.” Other solutions were proposed and ignored because the Democrats were Heck-bent on taking over one sixth of the economy and had the votes to do so. Just because you took your car in to have a loose gas cap replaced and the garage rebuilt your entire fuel system does not mean the garage’s solution was the only one viable; sometimes the persons doing your repairs have agendas other than yours.

                  Finally, Obamacare is a step in the direction of making people pay for the health care others demand doctors and hospitals provide. Few of the regulars here have any objection to paying for the health care we use, but we are tired of being forced to pay for ambulance rides taken by people who merely want a ride downtown so they can shop, much less the liposuctions of people too lazy to work-out and transgender procedures of people who’ve betrayed the trust placed in them by their country (list not comprehensive.)

                    1. I don’t think him a troll, merely resolutely dim. Dimness is not a crime, although in his case it might not be curable. He has provided a little entertainment and educational opportunity and has not resorted to simple name-calling, so I don’t think he warrants banning. (Note: I am still catching up on comments and he may yet prove me wrong. But until his arguments devolve down to calling us stoopid poopy heads he seems tolerable.)

                  1. And as I see no one has posted this yet as a response to the “it’s not single payer” thing that came up earlier, here’s Jacob Hacker, one of the “architects” of Obamacare talking about how silly a notion it is that Obamacare and Single Payer might maybe be related. Ha ha ha… ha… ha.

            3. His attempt to relabel Liberalism as Fascism is just childish nonsense.

              You clearly didn’t read the book.

              The well footnoted, well documented book that laid out what many of us on the right had known and understood for decades.

              But I promised myself I would not argue with idiots on the internet any more.

              Good day sir.

              1. As I pointed out above, anyone who thinks FDR was a Fascist just really doesn’t understand history. FDR declare the USA would be an “Arsenal of Democracy” and pushed through the Lend-Lease program to sell armaments to England, the USSR and China to help fight the Fascists in Germany and Japan nine months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

                Those are not the actions of a Fascist sympathizer. Foot notes don’t change that.

                1. Again, these things do not excuse the New Deal, which expanded the size and scope of government to colossal size. Compare him to Mussolini, not Stalin and Hitler. Look at the political movements of both… and see scary similarities.

                  He may have fought other fascits, Mike, but what he did *in this country* reads as anything but what the founders intended.

                  1. We could also point out that Stalin fought against Hitler, too. Doesn’t make him anything but a communist.

                2. True, footnotes in and of themselves don’t change things. However, the facts and analysis they refer to might maybe influence our view of FDR and our interpretation of his actions. Not to mention that an understanding of history might maybe come in handy as we find ourselves turning back to those impulses.

                  Human nature hasn’t fundamentally changed in the last 90 years. And those same tendencies that were in play in the 30’s and 40’s are still very much a part of human beings today.

                3. By that logic:

                  Anyone who thinks Stalin was a Communist just really doesn’t understand history. Look at all the Communists he wiped out.

                  Group in-fighting is often ferocious. It does not change group membership.

                4. Non sequitur. Unless you are arguing that Franco, whose obituary you used in a ridiculous smear of Goldberg, was NOT a Fascist because he didn’t aid the Axis.

                    1. Bob, Gibralter was never attacked, was it? Franco could have altered the course of WWII very easily with an attack on Gibralter. The US sent a lot of aid to Spain to prevent that. The trivial number of Spanish volunteers in the Eastern Front was meaningless.

                    2. Yep, there would have been plenty of better ways for Franco to help Hitler than sending volunteers to fight the Soviet Union. [Grin]

                      I seem to remember hearing that Franco had problems with some of the more extreme Spanish fascists and encouraged them to go help the Germans fight the Soviet Union.

                      Nice way to get “trouble makers” who supported you out of “your hair”. [Very Big Grin]

                  1. No, there was no assault on Gibraltar. At Hendaya Franco is supposed to have wanted a number of the French North African possessions in return for that, and that did not go through.
                    The Spanish say that Franco was smart in keeping them out of the war, but the Germans did want something back in return for their military aid in the Civil War. On the other hand, Spain was in terrible economic and physical shape and only capable of limited action.
                    Spain did supply materials and arms, and of course the Blue Division for the Eastern Front. The Spanish also provided some intelligence and acted as a conduit for good from South America for the Germans. I know they supplied Astra A-600 pistols that the Luftwaffe used.
                    Franco probably could have taken Gibraltar, especially with German help, but he’d have had to pile the bodies up high to do it, and his hold on Spain might not have held through that stress.

                5. Mike, what you actually said above was that “anyone who thinks FDR was a Fascist just really doesn’t [share my] understand[ing of] history.” You really ought consider there are understandings deeper, more informed and more nuanced than your simplistic one.

                  The idea that FDR viewed the Axis as competitors in the race for fascistic dominance isn’t actually all that complex a concept that you should have so much trouble processing it. See, there may be a difference between “our fascists” and “their fascists” but they remain fascists.

                  Difficult as it may be for you to grasp, not all fascists “pull together.” That is one distinction between them and communists (who often enough pull apart all the same.)

                6. You keep making non sequitur arguments. That FDR and his “New Deal” coterie admired Fascism does not relate to whether or not FDR was going to allow Germany and Italy to conduct a war that threatened US interests. Any more than pointing out that FDR sent food aid to Spain – by itself – would make him a Fascist.

                  You are deliberately misrepresenting what was said, and what Liberal Fascism contains, in a pathetic attempt to glue your non sequitur argument together.

        3. “[T]he government bailed out GM, Chrysler, AIG, and the big banks when they got in trouble, but that is not the same thing as Communism. ”

          Actually, it has become exactly like Communism. Communism was about expropriating business to an oligarchy of Party bigwigs who then skimmed the funding for their luxuries. Much as the Washington DC elite have turned the DC crony capitalism game into.

          And as mentioned, the Democrats of the ’30’s and’40’s were big admirers of Fascism. Its been pretty well documented.

            1. Foolish might be putting it a bit mildly. Reading political history of the time requires alcohol, and a screen between the book and you to account for regular spit takes. (Committee on Un-Americanism?)

        4. Mike, as you recognize that

          Cheap subsidize crop insurance encourages bad farm practices. Bailing out failed big corporations encourages sloppy business practices.

          why on Earth do you imagine they would be beneficial to the practice of health care?

          None here defend Republican supported subsidies except on the ground that they are less disastrous than Democrat supported subsidies — and that there is a possibility, however faint, that Republicans can be persuaded to refrain from them.

          We have to fight our battles where we can most effectively; the fact that we cannot wage war on all fronts is no reason to surrender.

        5. The bottom line is that the Democrats’ economic policies – the most prominent of which and the most destructive of which is Obama care – has been such a catastrophe, that while the recession has been nominally “over” for four years, household income adjusted for inflation has continually dropped. The percentage of Americans employed is about as low as its been in modern history – and the previous lows were valleys while the percentage has flattened out for years now and show no sign of breaking out.

          Obamacare is destroying out economy today.

        6. As for the Democrats not being Communist, in Communist countries immense government bureaucracies decided who would produce what, when it would be produced, who built what.

          An energy company wants to build a pipeline to transport Canadian petroleum products into the center of the US. The Obama administration says that they will decide whether or not to approve the pipeline … in late 2014.

          Not Communist? Really?

        7. Mike– you need to read your history of FDR’s experiments using his wife, Eleanor– camps were set up on the Communist model (sharing in common)– they were failures (New Deal Communities)… so yea FDR did dabble in -isms…

      2. Senate Majority Fuhrer Reid has expressly stated his goal is a single payer system.

        You could look it up.

        1. Oh, I’m sure they say that’s the goal. I simply think what they want to do is destroy everything. Granted this is based on “They can’t be that dumb” and I’ve been wrong on THAT before.

          1. I have my suspicions that this is yet another lib/prog blind spot. They totally fail to comprehend that what cannot continue will end, usually badly. Reid and his ilk seem to think that: “hey, I’m fat and happy so this must be the natural order of things. It will go on forever!”

          2. (Going to try logging in with my FB Account, because WordPress hates me more than usual lately)

            I believe I have read opinions that indicated that at least some people believe that they need to “destroy the current system so we can build a better one”. And they were targeting insurance companies with their legislation. Apparently, there have been consequences that differed from their stated goal, but they will achieve it if it can’t be turned around.

        2. There were many members of Congress that supported a single payer system in 2009, but they did not have the votes to pass a bill like that.

          You can make all kinds of vague threats that Obamacare will lead to a single payer system or a complete government nationalization of the health care system, like England. That could only happen if Congress votes for it. Given that Congress did not have the votes to do it in 2009, I seriously doubt it will in the future.

          1. The historical ignorance required to make such a statement as “Given that Congress did not have the votes to do it in 2009, I seriously doubt it will in the future.” is breathtaking. I daresay there were Southerners in 1805 making similar arguments regarding the abolition of slavery.

            What you fail to acknowledge is that Obamacare is de facto imposition of single payer. The government, through decisions imposed by unelected regulatory agents, is establishing what is effectively single payer. They are doing it in cahoots with insurance companies, but the government ability to regulate fees and services renders the insurance companies little more than a veil, and one which will soon be shredded.

            1. As I said, Medicare is a government run single payer system. Medicare has the ability to influence prices and has for the last 50 years or so.

              Obamacare is not a single payer system or a de facto imposition of single payer,. The insurance companies selling plans through Obamacare will have to negotiate their own prices with hospitals.

              There is the famous TV ad from the 1960s in which Ronald Regan predicts that if Medicare is approved, the government will decide in what city a doctors has to practice medicine. Medicare was approved in 1965. Does the government tell doctors where they have to practice medicine today?

              1. Medicare is indeed a monopsony, distorting prices and limiting access to care. Because Obamacare sets floors for coverage and defines “qualified” plans it similarly distorts the insurance market. Note that “insurance companies selling plans through Obamacare will have to negotiate their own prices with hospitals” excludes patients from the negotiation. The primary objection to Obamacare here is that it does not permit purchasers to negotiate coverage. In fact, as others have noted, by its elimination of HSAs and catastrophic coverage plans Obamacare decreases the options available for those who wish to manage their health care expenses.

                Obamacare also requires costly alterations of no demonstrable benefit, such as “digital medical records” which endanger private patient information.

                As for Reagan’s 1965 commercial, so what? He was wrong about the specifics of Medicare but even you acknowledge he was right about the general effect. Where a doctor will elect to practice is in part an effect of reimbursement rates, and under Medicare the rates of payment for any area are set by the government — thus the government dictates where doctors will practice, albeit indirectly. Reagan was also wrong about being able to trust Tip O’Neill and Bobby Byrd.

          2. Mike, for all your flailing at every topic except the crux, I repeat my earlier question:

            As you recognize that

            Cheap subsidize crop insurance encourages bad farm practices. Bailing out failed big corporations encourages sloppy business practices.

            why on Earth do you imagine they would be beneficial to the practice of health care?

            I will repeat this in reply to every argument you offer until you answer it.

    2. “Obamacare is just another way of forming pools to buy health insurance.”

      No, it’s not. It’s a way to prevent economically sensible health insurance from being possible.

      1. It sort of depends on what you mean by “just another way”, don’t it?

        After all, Tantalus’ system was just another way of making sure of giving everyone the right size of bed.

          1. Oops – thanks. Is what I gets for typing hastily on my way out the door. As I frequently referenced Procrustes in addresses to the school board, advocating for G&T programs, he should have been more readily atip my tongue.

            Tantalus chopped up his son and served him as entree for the gods without putting the details on the menu card. Per Wiki

            Most famously, Tantalus offered up his son, Pelops, as a sacrifice. He cut Pelops up, boiled him, and served him up in a banquet for the gods. The gods became aware of the gruesome nature of the menu, so they did not touch the offering; only Demeter, distraught by the loss of her daughter, Persephone, absentmindedly ate part of the boy’s shoulder. Clotho, one of the three Fates, ordered by Zeus, brought the boy to life again (she collected the parts of the body and boiled them in a sacred cauldron), rebuilding his shoulder with one wrought of ivory made by Hephaestus and presented by Demeter. The revived Pelops grew to be an extraordinarily handsome youth. The god Poseidon took him to Mount Olympus to teach him to use chariots. Later, Zeus threw Pelops out of Olympus due to his anger at Tantalus. The Greeks of classical times claimed to be horrified by Tantalus’s doings; cannibalism, human sacrifice and infanticide were atrocities and taboo.

              1. It was almost twenty years ago and my pleas were unsuccessful — they drank the Kool-Aid anyway.

    3. “The basic problem is a person or family’s health is simply not an insurable risk. ”

      Utter falsehood. And demonstrative of the kind of poor thinking that results in cataclysmic disasters of all kinds – including economic ones like we are seeing now.

      Routine medical care is simply another ordinary cost of living like food, utilities (*), rent. Catastrophic illness is an insurable risk, and was an thing one could buy insurance for, before the Democrats demagogued the issue and forbade that kind of insurance. People claiming that routine medical care should be paid for by others, that’s the idea that has destroyed health care insurance. Along with its usual left wing corollary, that of pumping up the silliness by forcing every one to be provided with expensive luxury goods and calling them “rights”.

      * – If the Democrats created “utility insurance”, everyone would have to buy a policy that required air conditioning be installed in every home, that cable TV be included with every premium channel, that everyone had a top of the line TV studio quality range top and ovens, and that your house lighting include a disco ball.

      1. “Catastrophic illness is an insurable risk, and was an thing one could buy insurance for, before the Democrats demagogued the issue and forbade that kind of insurance.”

        Catastrophic illness and the cost of treating them is what makes health insurance so expensive. If you are young and healthy, yes catastrophic health insurance can be inexpensive. If someone in your family has cancer, is on kidney dialysis or many other treatable conditions, you can forget about catastrophic health insurance.

        As I said, insurance is about pricing risk. If someone in your family is seriously ill, that is not a risk, that is a certainty. No insurance company will sell you coverage for a certainty at less then what it will cost to cover the certainty. It would be like trying to buy fire insurance while your house is burning down.

        If you had a catastrophic policy before this condition developed, state laws would probably forbid the company canceling or excessively increasing premiums, but you would be stuck with that company for the rest of your life. No other company would cover you. If it was an employer based policy, and you lost your job, perhaps because you could no longer work, then you would be left without any insurance or way of getting it. You can extend you employer plan through COBRA, but only for 18 months.

        My wife had thyroid cancer some years ago. She had surgery and radiation treatments. She has been cancer free for many years now, but that would probably make her non-insurable in the private market, even for catastrophic insurance. She is covered under my employer based policy, and hopefully will be until she is eligible for Medicare.

        1. Contrary to your implicit (and President Obama’s expressed) belief, health insurance is not a human right. The only way your solution to the problem of finite resources can survive even briefly is through abrogation of other people’s human rights.

          And even then it will not work, because the demand for health care is unlimited and the supply will never match it. Already we are witnessing shortages in vital health care providers, shortages certain to grow worse by every element of evidence in this world.

          I am sorry for your wife’s thyroid cancer and your problems insuring her. I have preexisting conditions myself. That doesn’t entitle us to force others to provide that which we cannot otherwise obtain, nor to create an empire which will destroy any hope for health care beyond two aspirin and plenty of fluids.

        2. “Catastrophic illness and the cost of treating them is what makes health insurance so expensive. If you are young and healthy, yes catastrophic health insurance can be inexpensive. If someone in your family has cancer, is on kidney dialysis or many other treatable conditions, you can forget about catastrophic health insurance.”

          Not as much as you think. What makes health insurance expensive is having to cover every single visit to a doctor to be told that one’s cold is a virus, and that antibiotics won’t help. Having to cover ridiculous chiropractic treatments with no proven efficacy because the chiropractic board donated to a politicians campaign. Having to cover contraceptives for someone’s recreational sex because politicians have decided that that will get them votes instead of actually writing legislation from the foundation of basic economics.

          That you even use the word “insurable risk” when pandering to fools has utterly destroyed health care insurance would be laughable were it no longer funny.

          Obamacare is about destroying “insurance” entirely. Its succeeding. And taking our economy with it.

          1. I agree that things like chiropractors should not be covered by health insurance, but they are legal and licensed in California.

            To me the bigger travesty is the state legislatures have agreed to limit the size of state medical schools, so we never have an oversupply of doctors. We need an oversupply of doctors to bring down prices. That is how the free market is suppose to work. This is an artificial shortage created by the lobbying efforts of medical associations.

            Currently hospitals and large doctor groups negotiate prices with big insurance companies. That is how health care prices are set. If you don’t have insurance today, costs will twice as much. Eight or nine years ago, I spent one night in a hospital for some tests and was released the next day. I saw the bill. It was $25,000 for that one day in the hospital and the tests. I had dual health insurance at the time. My insurance paid about $11,500, and I paid $0. If I had been uninsured, I would have been stuck for $25,000.

            Hospital chains keep merging to form larger hospital chains, because larger chains have more negotiating leverage with insurance companies, so they can demand and get higher prices. Much of the most expensive health care decisions are made by doctors and insurance companies, frequently without fully informing the patient or family what is going on. In America you get the most expensive treatment your insurance company will approve, frequently without regard for whether that is the best treatment for you given the your circumstances.

            1. Mike, I trust you are aware that the advance of Obamacare is exacerbating the very problems you’ve cited? The conversion to electronic medical record keeping, for example, has pushed still more mergers of hospitals and healthcare practices?

              BTW, Mike; still awaiting an answer to my earlier question:

              As you recognize that

              Cheap subsidize crop insurance encourages bad farm practices. Bailing out failed big corporations encourages sloppy business practices.

              why on Earth do you imagine they would be beneficial to the practice of health care?

              I will repeat this in reply to every argument you offer until you answer it.

              1. Yet you guys keep arguing.

                Pat him on his head, tell him he’s a nice boy and let him go play in the sandbox with the rest of the droolers.

                    1. Awww, now I feel sorry about dropping him. At least here he wasn’t likely to sway any opinions. Who knows what harm he might do now? Although, to paraphrase Bogart’s Rick Blaine: “Well there are certain sections of the Internets, Mike CA, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.”

        3. Nope. What makes health care so expensive is a combination of factors, including drug patents, insanely high malpractice insurance rates driven by ridiculous “settlements”, destruction of the “good samaritan” malpractice exceptions, requirements that hospitals treat “anyone and everyone” in the E.R. regardless of .. well, of anything .. and so on.

          There is not a single cause .. only there is, the wrong-headed beliefs of the idiots who believe themselves in charge when every single one of the above was decided and passed into law.

          In short, Obamacare is simply the last card played in a long, long effort to destroy the best health *care* system in the world.


      2. and that your house lighting include a disco ball.

        OOOH Why didn’t they say so? I’m joining the vile progs.

    4. MikeCA, all insurance is supposed to be a pool, not just the .gov “inspired” version. And it is the .gov’s new mandatory coverage requirements that have driven my health insurance through the roof the last 18 months by eliminating my sub-pool. I can no longer opt out of certain very expensive coverage, even though I have no need for it. That new requirement sent my rates up (thus far) $2000/year. And if the feds have their way, I will lose the tax benefits of a HSA, which allows me to pay cash for my care. So I am punished for saving, in essence. I have had self-employment health insurance for over a decade, so it is not my employer who takes the hit. I will not qualify for the subsidy, should it ever actually be offered. (Yeah, I just sent my quarterly premium check in last week. I’m still steaming.)

      And you do not want to see what my parents’ Medicare premiums are. You are aware that participation in Medicare is mandatory for those over 65? You cannot have private insurance except as a supplement. Don’t get my folks started on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and how it warps physician and hospital costs and charges.

        1. Especially for people who need to spend their HSA on big dollar items every couple years… like, f’rinstance, a new wheelchair.

      1. Aye on the mandatory coverage. I was looking at my health insurance coverage a while back and I saw that I’m covered for 4 fertility treatments a year. I’m a single guy with a perfectly effective birth-control method (my personality). Why the (*^&*(^%)(*&(&^*^&^%)*(&*^% am I paying for fertility treatments?

        1. Another blogger I used to read (still would, but lack of time), Amy Alkon, said something similar. She wanted to know why her coverage had to include prostate exams.

        2. I’ve actually had someone haughtily tell me that I am a victim of the War on Women because some meanies are trying to ensure that I don’t have to foot the bill for other women’s — recreational activities.

          1. Yeah, the whole idea that we’re covering contraception for those who cannot afford it is a sign of a weak intellect. Everyone can afford contraception. Abstinence is free and surprisingly – for liberals – effective. What paying for the Pill does is subsidize a woman’s sex life.

            1. “Abstinence is free”. True but the “Pill” isn’t terribly expensive either. After that “college student” started whining that she needed her college to pay for the “Pill”, bloggers started reporting how little the “Pill” actually costs.

              1. Given that the primary target of the debate was religious institutions I think it is apposite to point out that mandating birth control is nothing more than subsidizing someone’s sex life.

                  1. I assumed, when she talked about contraceptive costs of $100 a month, that she was insanely promiscuous, possibly even working her way through school and wanting the school to pay one of her business expenses. I know that’s probably not the message she wanted to send 🙂

                    1. Just had a small realization…. It might be possible to inflate your birth control spending by having either the pill or the shot, and then using one or two kinds of condoms.

                      Hormonal birth control fails, as do condoms, and you’ll want a condom to keep from becoming a walking STD ad. It won’t work all the way, but lowers the risks….

          1. “but I’m NOT NUTS.”

            I thought the jury was still out on that … I’m cashews myself.

    5. Obviously, Mike, you haven’t been paying attention. Harry Reid let the cat out of the bag just the other day that they KNEW Obamacare wouldn’t work, but it wa just a step toward a single-payer system. I guess it got too hard for “Dingy Harry” to keep his stories straight any more, or they think it just doesn’t matter. They may be right. That’s why I, and a lot of other people here, are “building under”.

      1. Someone should sue under the 14th Amendment. If they KNOW it will not work, it does not bear a rational relationship to a legitimate government purpose.

  17. I keep talking about my friends, and how I try to understand why they seem to so wholly to buy the socialist ideal – most go for some sort of soft version, and would stoutly insist that they are all for things like individual liberty, but what I know of their voting habits they mostly do vote for parties which, in practice, almost invariably go for the statist, all real power in the hands of government, alternative (liberty, yes, for a few things, like choosing your religion – although there may be restrictions to practicing it – and choosing what you do in the bedroom and with whom you do it, and a handful of other personal choices, but not much true liberty for much of anything else. Not even free speech, not quite, anymore.).

    I guess one of the reasons is also this: one of the messages we are being drummed with, from all directions, is always the weakness of an individual. The idea that the only way you can make a true difference is as one of the cogs in a much, much larger machine – you vote for the right people, and you give some of your money to them, and that organization will then change things. But you are too weak to make any real difference by yourself.

    One of the few exceptions is the idea that you should be nice to others. _Especially_ those perceived as being weaker, poor victims. That makes a difference, you know. And they will keep on reminding you and reminding you and reminding you… of both. That whether you are one of the privileged or one of the victims you are always also weak, but the privileged have some responsibilities even so.

    So, most ideas for, say, improving something in your own neighborhood die on the vine because a) it would be too much trouble (all that paperwork which is needed so that nobody messes up the plans perhaps made, or about to be made, by the authorities), b) hell of a lot of people have the tendency to answer that type of suggestions with mockery. Since we are weak and can make no real difference anyway, and knowing that is cool or something. Or at least a good excuse not to bother. Who do you think you are, a movie hero?

    1. Which is one reason Americans are frequently derided as “cowboys” (cf George W Bush.)

      In reply to which I quote John McClane: “Yippee-ki-yay, mother-f#####.”

      1. One reason why I like you. 🙂

        Finns do have a fairly strong individual streak. Our weaknesses are that we also have this combination of respect and liking for the ideal of strong men as rulers (think of the Russians and why they keep going back to Putin) and dislike of the upper classes – which now mostly mean the obviously rich, and that keeps us going for those solutions which push down those snotty rich folks (and everybody else, but hard to notice at the point when the jealousy hits) and obedient to the ones who have the power.

        There is an old adventure series which in some ways, I think, hits it right on the head. It starts during the 30 year war, and the hero of the first story is a young soldier, out of wedlock son of a rich farmer’s daughter who creates a generations long rift between his descendants and those of his cousin when he angers his grandfather by accepting his elevation to the rank of a noble. The grandfather thinks the whole class of nobles are evil because they separate the good king from the salt of the earth farmers, and the world would be rather perfect without them (well, turns out the young soldier was actually the bastard son of the king who had a short fling with the farmer’s daughter and that is the real reason he gets offered the peerage… lots of angst, for several generations, follows. As far as I remember it ends with a happy version of Romeo and Juliet, when two descendants marry).

        In some ways that still seems to hold true here. A king, or some equivalent, is what we kind of want. But apart from that king, or kings (who should be the strong man – yep, we want daddy, but mommy will do too, as long as she at least seems commanding) everybody should be kind on the same level, meaning it’s okay even if you manage to get a nice Mercedes with your earnings, but heaven help you if you go and show your riches by buying a Ferrari… could be a Lutheran thing, I guess. One should always be humble. If you are not we’ll make you.

          1. Yep. And even the good ones die. Or go senile, or lose their touch for some other reason. Or they knew how to deal with _that_ emergency, but don’t really understand what to do with _this_ one.

            Yet, the ideal is so very tempting. I doubt Skynet would have to take the power by force in real life. If it was able to convince humans that it is that ‘good king’ at least half of us would beg it to rule us (something all knowing with no human weaknesses… once the initial distrust was over and we had gotten used to it, whee!).

              1. If the government wasn’t doing much besides some forms, maybe a computer and a sysadmin could handle most of it. But for things like military defense and diplomacy, you need humans to do the planning and gaming. And for things like law enforcement and the courts, you also need humans in an irreplaceable way.

          2. One notes that fictionally, a good king is a handy way to compress all the bother of government so our characters don’t have to deal.

  18. Sarah, the opposite of apostate is disciple. Which is what those who go trundling back to the mire of central planning prove themselves to be – adherents to their beliefs regardless of evidence, regardless of reality, regardless of the cost in financial or human terms. They are adherents of a particularly twisted kind of “faith”, for lack of a better word, as “faith” seems utterly inappropriate to the situation. “Blindness” gets closer. And as reality closes in around them, there is more of a push against it – leading to things like, say, the purging of people of a certain political stripe from certain allegedly “professional” associations. Witch hunts. Name calling. Hatred and rancor. And to reveal, perhaps, that one cast out for failing to toe the party line was not, per se, a person of pallor? Heaven forfend that it cause our darling intelligentsia to question their own motives and morals, their unspoken assumptions regarding race and bigotry. Nope, nothing doing, not here, not now, not ever.

    They are DISCIPLES, devoted to their philosophy over reality. Indeed, I’d say that everything they accuse religious people of, they have been guilty of themselves in spades (don’t get me started on the Left and projection, or this comment will get EVEN LONGER)

    And along with all of that, the audacious refrain that they are the understanding and compassionate ones. The Audacity of Hope, indeed, and it would be something truly laughable if it wasn’t also so damnably tragic. It’s a false hope – a hope in something that will not be true, and cannot be true while human beings remain stubbornly, intransigently resistant to changing their fundamental natures at the push of a button or the stroke of a pen.

    “Economics is common sense,” I heard today. (Amity Schlaes, being interviewed by Milt Rosenberg as I’m catching up on a bunch of podcasts). Alas, common sense… isn’t. Children aren’t born with it. It’s not in the water or the air. It’s got to be taught. It’s got to be brought to the attention again and again. It’s got to be built on good foundations, strengthened, bulwarked, fortified, and brought home.

    (The next 800 words of this rant redacted… including some interesting sections on projection… and a word or two about the willful ignorance of the so-called intelligentsia, and a reference or three to middle fingers)

    And, at the end, alas, having mentioned underwear on head, you have invoked…



    1. I remember a quote (can’t find it now) that basically said that common sense was the minimum daily requirement of intelligence required to survive. We evolved in an environment that could kill you dead in a myriad of interesting and painful ways. You needed to keep your wits about you if you wanted to live long enough to breed. Nowadays we have done such an effective job of nerfing the world that people like Obama, who would have probably drowned in a rainstorm in an earlier era, can survive long enough to actually convince 60-odd million of his fellow idiots that he should be in charge of anything more complicated than a dog-walking business.

  19. You and I are weird from the same chapter…I squeeed with joy when I recently found an excellent condition of “A Canticle for Leibowitz” at a Friends of the Library book sale.

    Nice to know I am running deranged in such exalted company…

    1. Found a copy on a friends’ bookshelf a couple weekends back .. as I’ve never read it, I considered borrowing it. (He’d let me, of course)

      I’ll have to see if I can track down a copy a bit closer to home.


  20. Still the very bright know themselves to be superior (they are, in some areas) and to be ill treated (they’re right there too, though they’re essential for creating/improving industrial society, our society runs on iron age models and really can’t tell the difference between “very smart” and “wears underpants on head.” (often because there’s no real difference.))

    Is it wrong to love this mental image?

    1. smartest person I ever met is also regularly committed to the mental hospital. First time I met him was just before one of his little sabbaticals as the boss sent him packing with threats to call the police and his sister.
      He came back, clean shaven, well groomed and I was impressed by his knowledge. Then over a span of time he went off his meds, looked like that crazy eyes picture of Rasputin and the owner of the shop banned him from coming in any longer … then a few weeks later he disappeared … back in the loonie bin. 6 months later the clean looking version was back asking politely if he could come in for repairs and to buy some items.
      Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
      He was amazingly smart but utterly insane.

        1. Yeah, some are just more “functional” than others and manage to stay out. Look at Einstein. The man was loon, but it was mostly harmless so he gets labeled eccentric. Though apparently it was that way for this fellow I knew, until GM blamed him for something he told them was going to happen and it seemed to push him over that edge.

  21. “We’re now being governed by desperadoes. They want to take our system apart, not because they have something that works better but because “if I can’t have my system, I’ll break yours.”

    Good analogy — though desperadoes is what we will have, not what we do have, because we still have stuff worth plundering, so what we have now is gangsters. “Also, Paulie could do anything. Especially run up bills on the joint’s credit. And why not? Nobody’s gonna pay for it anyway. And as soon as the deliveries are made in the front door, you move the stuff out the back and sell it at a discount. You take a two hundred dollar case of booze and you sell it for a hundred. It doesn’t matter. It’s all profit. And then finally, when there’s nothing left, when you can’t borrow another buck from the bank or buy another case of booze, you bust the joint out. You light a match.”

  22. Sarah Hoyt wrote:
    “And then it occurred to me what is wrong with … not all. About half the books being published that conform to the ‘rightly done’ ideals of the establishment (a lot don’t, though – we’ll go into that later.) are desperado-written. They come apart in your mind, because the animating principle is a hatred of humanity or a hatred of life, or a hatred of existence.

    “There is no vision to hold on to. All the dangerous visions are gone. There is no radical ‘this will fix it.’ It’s more of a rage of “since you destroyed my dream, you can’t have yours either. ‘I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.’ (Think teen girls.)”

    Paging Ayn Rand: someone else is noticing that the essence of collectivism is hatred of life and a desire to die.

  23. Might that book about the Soviet Union becoming a Success be “Tomorrow Might Be Different,” by Mack Reynolds?
    Therein, the Godless Commies were swimming in material plenty, and the U.S. was a somewhat dreary backwater, wondering What Went Wrong….
    It’s on my shelf, but I haven’t opened it since before 1980. It’s a Keeper, but I have lots of new stuff to read!

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