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August 05, 2010

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As far as I can tell, nobody with the record of ANY Republican president in history would be welcome in today's Republican Party. Even including someone with George W. Bush's record. Which, for me, is really really sad. But I cannot deny the facts -- which by itself probably makes me someone who could not win a Republican primary (in the unlikely event that I tried), even though I have been a Republican for over 4 decades now.

I hate Meeses to pieces:

U.S News & World Report: You criticize the Miranda ruling, which gives suspects the right to have a lawyer present before police questioning. Shouldn't people, who may be innocent, have such protection?

Meese: Suspects who are innocent of a crime should. But the thing is, you don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That's contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.

It's really hard to fathom why anyone with a functioning conscience who's paying the slightest bit of attention would still vote Republican. I mean, what's left? The contemporary GOP isn't conservative anymore. Reactionary, yes, but not conservative. It doesn't stand for equality, civil rights, or fiscal responsibility. It has turned ignorance into a virtue, science into an expletive, and the Constitution into a one-dimensional cartoon caricature that gets twisted into whatever shape can best justify the desired results. It defends torture, nation-building and interventionism.

There is almost nothing left of what the GOP once stood for. All that remains is gay-bashing, race-baiting, and hippie-punching.

It actually reminds me of one of the reasons I never found Satanism attractive even when I was a rebellious youth and into that sort of stuff. It is a religion that defines itself not by what it is for, but by everything that it is against. There's nothing there except selfishness and hate.

That's your modern Republican Party to a tee.

Reactionary, yes, but not conservative.

This.

I sometimes think the only thing that stands between us and some kind of crazy reactionary state is that the American Franco just hasn't shown up yet.

I thought Giulani had a pretty good shot at it, but I guess he's just too blatantly nasty to make it work. He's just too hard a guy to like.

But yeah, reactionary is the right word. They're looking for Mr. Peabody to set the wayback for somewhere around 1885.

Hogan: Wait, what? He seriously said that? Has the man somehow never watched any of the police procedural that fill TV? In every single one there's many people who are suspects, but then it turns out to have been the first person we met, who had one line when the police first showed up.

First rule of criminal investigations:

if Kevin Spacey is in the room, he's your guy.

"I sometimes think the only thing that stands between us and some kind of crazy reactionary state is that the American Franco just hasn't shown up yet."

I think about that more than sometimes. We've got many of the items on the checklist to make it happen: the economic troubles, the vaguely-defined foreign enemy, the domestic enemies defined along class and racial lines, the screaming demagogues on the right, and enormous amounts of behind-the-scenes capital dedicated to keeping things whipped up. Thank God all that the republicans have now is their current band of hapless leaders.

If such a one were to appear, of course, the first thing he (undoubtedly he) would throw over would be the right wing buffoons who put him in power.

the domestic enemies defined along class and racial lines

This is one thing that might actually save us. The proportion of solidly "white" people has gone down. Racial/ethnic diversity, along with the liberalism of the echo boomers, provides a demographic hedge against the potential of the otherism that is a key ingredient of facism. At least I like to think so, which may be why I'm not already Canadian and manage to sleep at night.

I think about that more than sometimes. We've got many of the items on the checklist to make it happen: the economic troubles, the vaguely-defined foreign enemy, the domestic enemies defined along class and racial lines, the screaming demagogues on the right, and enormous amounts of behind-the-scenes capital dedicated to keeping things whipped up. Thank God all that the republicans have now is their current band of hapless leaders.

For the last of which we are extremely fortunate.

One of my favorite book series is Harry Turtledove's 11-book epic that chronicles WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII--in a world where the South won the Civil War and both countries are still bitter enemies in the 20th century.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

The Confederacy loses WWI, and the crushing reparations and terms put the country into the role occupied by Germany in our timeline. The circumstances in the South, including hyperinflation and the resentment of losing the war, allow a charismatic and demagogic veteran of the Great War to rise to power at the head of what's called the Freedom Party, which promises to restore the Confederacy to greatness, reclaim territory "stolen" by the United States after WWI, and blames blacks (who rose up during the war) and Whigs for the defeat.

You can probably see where this is going.

I'm re-reading the series again at the moment, and it again strikes me just how many parallels there are between the Tea Party and the Freedom Party. It strikes me in a way that makes me very, very afraid for the country should a charismatic leader rise from their ranks.

This is one thing that might actually save us. The proportion of solidly "white" people has gone down.

Y'all know I've done my part to hasten this eventuality, and I've got the cute little pictures to prove it ;)

My kid is Jewish, but I don't think that counts--he's also pretty white. :)

Catsy, you get partial credit ;)

'Freedom Party which blames blacks (who rose up during the war) and Whigs for the defeat. It again strikes me just how many parallels there are between the Tea Party and the Freedom Party.'

Is this today's rule for radicals, project racism as a prime motivator of the tea party movement?

With numerous opportunities to view the public record showing that tea party supporters, in fact, support three core principles as a consensus (fiscal restraint, limited government, and free markets), why not confront them on matters they actually believe and support, (if you object), instead of using actual fiction now to try to envelope an entire movement with sentiments of a few who could just as well reside in the ranks of progressives?

Is this today's rule for radicals, project racism as a prime motivator of the tea party movement?

Radicals? Anyway, is it today's rule for GOB to ignore racism within the tea party movement because you share some number of other opinions with its members?

'is it today's rule for GOB to ignore racism within the tea party movement because you share some number of other opinions with its members?'

I asked the first two questions, so I'll get back to yours when I get something that starts to clarify if we just want to call people racists or if we want to question the substance of their political views.

There is no doubt that there is a strain of racism that runs, prominently and in the open, in the Tea Party movement - at least, if we are to take the statements and images promoted by Tea Party leaders at face value.

That said, the movement as a whole is not racist, IMHO.

Is this today's rule for radicals, project racism as a prime motivator of the tea party movement?

No projection necessary: racism is a nontrivial element of the Tea Party. This has been exhaustively documented.

With numerous opportunities to view the public record showing that tea party supporters, in fact, support three core principles as a consensus (fiscal restraint, limited government, and free markets)

Pure unadulterated horsesh1t. Teabaggers presumably slept through eight years of the largest expansion of the deficit and government assault on civil rights for generations. You expect us to believe that it is purely coincidence that the people behind the Tea Party movement just happened to start giving a sh1t about deficits and big government when we got a black Democratic president. You expect us to believe that all those racist teabaggers--from your leaders down to the people hefting protest signs--are just fringe elements who aren't really representative of the movement.

I refuse to get drawn into yet another threadjack by someone who is transparently arguing in bad faith. Go peddle your teabaggers-aren't-racist nonsense to someone ignorant enough to buy it.

Is this today's rule for radicals, project racism as a prime motivator of the tea party movement?

You can leave the tea party out of it. The shoe fits the Republican party broadly, and much of current day movement conservatism, with or without the tea party.

If you seriously need examples, I'll need a little lead time, because it will be a long list.

All conservatives / Republicans / tea partiers are not racist, but if racists want to get involved in electoral politics, those are the places they land.

You can leave the tea party out of it. The shoe fits the Republican party broadly, and much of current day movement conservatism, with or without the tea party.

There really is very little difference between the Tea Party and the Republican Party. The primary difference is that the Tea Party seems to primarily attract people who think the Republican Party is too liberal.

A Venn diagram of the two groups would closely resemble a single circle.

why not confront them on matters they actually believe and support

well, half of what they purport to believe is pure fiction. and it's pretty clear that they actually don't believe the other half - it's just hollow partisan sloganeering.

The Tea Party is badly misinformed on a number of issues, by leaders who either know they are lying, or believe their own hogwash. (See Gingrich, Newt; Palin, Sarah; Beck, Glenn; and Limbaugh, Rush for starters)

Also, given their support of things like the Arizona papers please law, I think their claims to support "limited government" are hogwash. Looking at the "Contract from America", which includes blatantly contradictory goals such as "demand a balanced federal budget", "cut taxes", and "repeal the Affordable Care Act", I don't think their claims of "fiscal restraint" are any more serious than the current Republican Party's (which isn't surprising, since the Tea Party is the radicalized base of the Republican Party).

And looking at prominent Tea Party candidates, like Sharron Angle, who wants to get rid of the Department of Education, get rid of the IRS, wants the US to withdraw from the UN, denies global warming, wants to get rid of Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, opposes water flouridification, and said "That tells me the nation is arming. What are they arming for if it isn't that they are so distrustful of their government? They're afraid they'll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways?"" I think "radical" is a good descriptor.

Then we have Rand Paul, Ron Paul's son, who wants to privatize Medicare, criticized President Obama for saying he'd make sure BP cleaned up their mess in the Gulf, said he would have opposed the Civil Rights act because he didn't want the federal government interfering in business (he later said he would have voted for it, after he got beaten up in the press for it), created his own medical board to certify himself, wants to get rid of the Fed (shocker, considering his dad), get rid of the Department of Education, and wants to get rid of birthright citizenship (part of the 14th amendment).

Then there's Tim Scott, who wants to get rid of the IRS and replace it with the regressive "Fair Tax", and wants to make English the official language of the US (and is also black, which shows that radical nutty ideas can be colorblind).

As for race, a quick google search will find plenty of blatantly racist posters, such as the "witch doctor Obama", or just plain offensive and dumb ones, like the ones with Obama, Stalin, and Hitler, Obama as Hitler, "The American Taxpayers are the Jews for Obama's Ovens" and plenty of "OMG SOCIALISM!!" posters, posters decrying Obama's tax increases (which er...haven't happened, and most of the Bush tax cuts for the not-exceedingly wealthy are going to be continued, plus the payroll tax cuts in the stimulus)

It looks a lot like the John Birch Society.

So yes, I would say that the Tea Party is not serious about the things they say they are for, and are mostly a reaction to a) Republicans being out of power, just like in the Clinton years, b) the crappy economy, which always makes people more worried and looking for scapegoats, c) instigated by liars (see above), and d) yes, the fact that Obama is black. Not even in the necessarily directly racist sense of hating black people or thinking they're inferior, but because he's Not Like Them.

If such a one were to appear, of course, the first thing he (undoubtedly he)

I wouldn't say "undoubtedly he". Palin gave it a pretty good run for the money, she was just too obviously an opportunistic grifter.

As long as we're indulging our conspiratorial imaginations, I'd say the big missed opportunity of the last 10 years was flight 93 being forced down in Shanksville.

Seriously, if either (a) a big chunk of Congress had been killed, or (b) the operations of Congress had been significantly disrupted, it would have been the Cheney/Rumsfeld Continuation of Government freak show. Bush would have been lucky to come out of it alive.

We dodged a bullet there.

It's funny to talk about stuff like this here, but IMO there are some scary dudes roaming the halls down there in DC.

'there are some scary dudes roaming the halls down there in DC.'

But isn't it comforting to know you have all those resources and all that power concentrated there? They can probably fix anything.

Hey GOB -

Different things bug different people.

The things that don't scare me are the things that keep tea party types up all night. Public support for health care, temporary emergency measures to keep the economy from totally tanking, etc.

I'm not always thrilled with how all of those things are implemented at the ground level, but I'm also not freaked out that they exist.

I don't really see them as a threat to my liberty.

The things that bug me are weird unconstitutional power grabs like "fourth branches of government", continuation of government plans that explicitly ignore and supplant the existing constitutional and legal ones, secret torture regimes. Secret foreign policy initiatives conducted "off the books" and without the knowledge or sanction of Congress. Secret and unaccountable surveillance regimes that target American citizens for no good reason other than looking to see what they might find.

People lying to start wars.

Stuff like that.

Those things do strike me as something that is likely to impinge on my liberty. Or if not mine, than certainly somebody's.

YMMV

They can probably fix anything.

Well, isn't that the operable GOP theory?

Transform any backwards society into a thriving liberal democracy after a couple decades and a few trillion dollars?

Also, too, should we rely on the private sector to fix everything? If so, what's taking them so long on health insurance? And the environment?

... three core principles as a consensus (fiscal restraint, limited government, and free markets) ...

The thing that makes the Teabaggers ridiculous is not that they hold those principles. It's that they talk as if ONLY they hold them.

Fiscal restraint? Barney Frank AND Ron Paul are BOTH trying to restrain military spending.

Limited government? Barney Frank AND Ron Paul BOTH want to limit the government's prohibition of marijuana.

Free markets? Okay, there's a difference there. Ron Paul wants credit card companies to be free to rip you off, and Barney Frank doesn't. But the important point is that The Market being "free" is NOT THE SAME THING as any individual or company being allowed to do whatever they damn please as long as it involves money.

You can ally yourself with people who adhere to those three noble principles PLUS racist quackery, or you can ally yourself with people who hold those principles straight up but interpret them slightly differently than you do.

--TP

On this whole Tea Party tip, if you haven't yet read Confessions of a Tea Party Casualty in Mother Jones, do so ASAP. Juicy excerpts:

The week after that meeting with his past funders—whom he failed to bring back into the fold—Inglis asked House Republican leader John Boehner what he would have told this group of Obama-bashers. Inglis recalls what happened:

[Boehner] said, "I would have told them that it's not quite that bad. We disagree with him on the issues." I said, "Hold on Boehner, that doesn't work. Let me tell you, I tried that and it did not work." I said [to Boehner], "If you're going to lead these people and the fearful stampede to the cliff that they're heading to, you have to turn around and say over your shoulder, 'Hey, you don't know the half of it.'"

. . . Advertise on MotherJones.com

During his primary campaign, Inglis repeatedly encountered enraged conservatives whom he couldn't—or wouldn't—satisfy. Shortly before the runoff primary election, Inglis met with about a dozen tea party activists at the modest ranch-style home of one of them. Here's what took place:

I sat down, and they said on the back of your Social Security card, there's a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life's earnings, and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. I have this look like, "What the heck are you talking about?" I'm trying to hide that look and look clueless. I figured clueless was better than argumentative. So they said, "You don't know this?! You are a member of Congress, and you don't know this?!" And I said, "Please forgive me. I'm just ignorant of these things." And then of course, it turned into something about the Federal Reserve and the Bilderbergers and all that stuff. And now you have the feeling of anti-Semitism here coming in, mixing in. Wow.

. . . The word is designed to have emotional charge to it. Throughout my primary, there were people insisting that I use the word. They would ask me if he was a socialist, and I would always find some other word. I'd say, "President Obama wants a very large government that I don't think will work and that spends too much and it's inefficient and it compromises freedom and it's not the way we want to go." They would listen for the word, wait to see if I used the s-word, and when I didn't, you could see the disappointment.

Why not give these voters what they wanted? Inglis says he wasn't willing to lie:

I refused to use the word because I have this view that the Ninth Commandment must mean something. I remember one year Bill Clinton—the guy I was out to get [when serving on the House judiciary committee in the 1990s]—at the National Prayer Breakfast said something that was one of the most profound things I've ever heard from anybody at a gathering like that. He said, "The most violated commandment in Washington, DC"—everybody leaned in; do tell, Mr. President—"is, 'Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.'" I thought, "He's right. That is the most violated commandment in Washington." For me to go around saying that Barack Obama is a socialist is a violation of the Ninth Commandment. He is a liberal fellow. I'm conservative. We disagree...But I don't need to call him a socialist, and I hurt the country by doing so. The country has to come together to find a solution to these challenges or else we go over the cliff.

"Also, too, should we rely on the private sector to fix everything? If so, what's taking them so long on health insurance? And the environment? "

Just to point out the unstated fact, there is absolutely NO evidence that government will solve those problems any faster. It is simply an assumption based on faith.

Well, it's nice to know that, since my Social Security card doesn't have a number on the back (I just looked), I must be free of whatever institution was buying people at birth. Not bought and paid for by anybody. (I refuse to get excited that someone might not thought I was worth buying.)

Some days I wonder how conspiracy theorists (of any political persuasion) manage to navigate the real world with so many certainties which are simply false to fact and demonstrably so.

Marty,

When one solution isn't working you try something else. Considering that other countries seem to have it working more effectively than we do, we even have evidence, not mere faith, that it can be done better via governmental means.

Just to point out the unstated fact, there is absolutely NO evidence that government will solve those problems any faster. It is simply an assumption based on faith.

Basically, what DFS said. We do have evidence. We can look to how other countries have attempted to handle health insurance and gusess what? We spend more, and get less in return than most other Western Industrial nations.

That is not faith, that is a fact.

As for environmental protection, this is even more curious a statement.

The private sector does nothing to protect and preserve the environment, or prevent pollution and the use of toxins. Strictly the realm of government regulation.

The only time the private sector contributes is when mandated to do so...by the government.

three core principles as a consensus (fiscal restraint, limited government, and free markets)

To follow up on Tony P's comment: I was listening to the radio on the way home. They had some guy, I think from the auto industry, talking about the auto industry bailout.

The interviewer asked if he thought, a year later, that the bailout was the right thing to do.

Well, he said, *in principle* he was not for it, but in the actual context he thought it was the right thing.

*** NEWS FLASH ***

In principle, *pretty much nobody* thinks it's a good thing when government to bail out failing industries and take on large ownership positions in private companies.

Pretty much everybody prefers private sector solutions to economic issues if they are available and effective.

Pretty much everybody would prefer to pay lower taxes.

Pretty much everybody would prefer that government (or private industry) not waste their money.

*** END OF NEWS FLASH ***

If that's the tea party platform, they should enjoy resounding successes in 2010, because *everybody agrees with those things* in principle.

The reason government gets involved in this stuff is because the private sector isn't getting the job done.

Sometime when you have an afternoon free, go do some basic homework on the history of federal industrial regulation. What you will find, over and over again, is that the feds were dragged kicking and screaming into regulating one industry after another because, left to their own devices, the private sector was killing people, maiming people, crippling people, making people go blind, or otherwise *not doing an adequate job of regulating itself in the public interest*.

Don't take my word for it, go look it up. I promise you will not be bored.

I did my homework on this stuff at the library. Now we have Google, you can do it in the privacy of your own home while wearing pajamas.

Go check it out.

Why do I, personally, think it's fine for the feds to involve themselves in health care?

Because 15% of the country is totally without health insurance of any kind, millions of other people have only the bare minimum of coverage, and health care costs are a significant factor in a majority of personal bankruptcies.

That's a freaking disaster, and the private sector *was not* fixing it. *Was not, and was not going to*. And bugger all if you think it makes sense to sit around waiting for that to happen, because it won't, and wasn't going to.

I don't mind talking about this stuff, but by god if you want to talk about, you at least have to talk about the real freaking world, not some world that only exists in your imagination.

It's quite rare for the feds to go looking for new worlds to meddle in. The norm is for them to get involved when the situation is going off the rails.

And yes, they generally do a bureaucratic, inefficient, often half-assed job. It's a damned shame they have to get involved at all, because *governments are inefficient and bureaucratic*. Democratic ones, anyway, dictatorships can be nimble as hell.

But they do get involved, and it's fortunate they do, or rivers in this country would still be catching on fire.

Industry absent regulation is called "the Nigerian oil industry". Go check it out and take a look, and see if it's something you're interested in.

The tea partiers want the world to be the way they wish it was, the way it is in their imaginations.

The world isn't going to cooperate, so they need to grow up and deal.

This has been another edition of "What russell said..."

No kidding.

That seems like an at-least-weekly episode.

Marty: "Just to point out the unstated fact, there is absolutely NO evidence that government will solve those problems any faster. It is simply an assumption based on faith."

Marty, you can do better than that.

See: The Clean Water Act
See also: Clean Air Act
Both signed into law by noted socialist Richard M. Nixon.
Also: Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which created a cap and trade system for sulfuric acid emissions, signed by noted socialist George H. W. Bush.
Also also: CERCLA/Superfund
Etc: Lead Based Paint, banned by the US Consumer Products Safety Commission in 1978.
Leaded Gasoline, phased out by EPA rules from 1973-1986, and finally banned for road use completely in 1996.

Health care:
Health insurance comparisons across countries (PDF if that link doesn't work) Wikipedia

Marty,

Sorry to make you feel that you're getting beaten up on, but if belief in government action is an act of faith given its checks and balances, how is a belief in the free market any less an act of faith when it has no checks and balances at all?

People who feel that there's a place for government in the lives of Americans aren't advocating a Beer Hall Putsch. They're advocating for a mechanism of checks and balances to do its job against a mechanism that recognizes neither. They're advocating for that ethereal market to be real and live up to the promises it makes, and that it routinely breaks (viz the companies that are refusing to restore their share of the 401(k) payments). Maybe they're even advocating for a (gasp) restoration of the social contract that the nefarious socialist Reagan ironically allowed corporate America to break. They're advocating for the market to stop betraying the lives of ordinary people and start recognizing that without them they'd be nothing.

That's what government's for - when we allow it to actually work, it makes things called laws that protect a lot of people from the fecklessness of those who think laws apply when they want them to.
In a nation of 300-odd-million people, it is impossible for there to be truly small government - not when the Tea Partiers also want, when they get around to it, imperialistic adventures in far-flung places that require government action to satisfy their culture conflicts and illusory passions and prejudices.

QED.

Just for fun, anyone here every read the Confederate States Constitution?

Read it, and listen to what the Tea Party -- and increasing Republicans -- state is their understanding of the US Constitution. The similarities between what the believe is (but isn't) in the US Constitution and what IS in the Confederate one is....interesting.

Just for fun, anyone here every read the Confederate States Constitution?

Yes, but not for fun.

Pretty much everything you need to refute the notion that the Confederacy wasn't about racism and slavery is in their own founding document.

I still struggle to understand how anyone who isn't racist can romanticize the Confederacy. I understand the desire to connect with one's ancestry and regional history--at its core, it's really no different than the desire that drives people of Irish ancestry to latch onto Celtic motifs and interests. What's telling is what parts of said ancestry people gravitate towards.

There are so many things about the American South that are noble, vibrant, culturally rich, and worthy of celebration. Yet rather than celebrate those positive aspects, some people choose to attach themselves to the darkest and most evil chapter in the South's relatively short history.

My younger brother is in his early 20's and serving in the Army. We were both born and raised in Virginia, and for the past several years at least he's been going through a bout of romantic Confederate nostalgia. He's not consciously racist, at least not that I've ever seen. But he sports the Confederate battle flag, identifies strongly as culturally Southern, and has really steeped himself in the local history. And he and I have had some discussions about that.

I think we made real progress when I was down in Georgia for his wedding not long ago. He actually got fairly thoughtful when I pointed out that if Southerners wanted to celebrate the positive aspects of Confederate and Southern culture rather than the negative, why do they--and he--brandish the Confederate battle flag as a symbol rather than the Stars and Bars? By choosing the flag the Confederacy carried into battle against the United States rather than one version or another of its national flag, the message they send isn't "I love my cultural heritage", but rather "f*ck off and die, Yankee".

I think ultimately the best parallel I can think of is, sadly, Nazi Germany. It is entirely appropriate and laudable to cherish one's German heritage and celebrate the many parts of German history and culture which are wonderful. But if you decide to start brandishing swastikas and romanticizing Großdeutschland and the Anschluß, it raises some disturbing questions about just what message you're trying to send.

What Morat20 and Catsy said.

Add that to what Russell has said all week and I can pretty much give up commenting altogether.

I'd say everything is settled now.

I can pretty much give up commenting altogether.

That would be a tragedy for the internets.

Between you, cleek and russell, I need my weekly quota of "what he said".

Marty's had a couple "what he said" moments this week, also.

"if belief in government action is an act of faith given its checks and balances, how is a belief in the free market any less an act of faith when it has no checks and balances at all? "

Sorry I missed this earlier. The answer is it is not. I was simply making an observation that there was nothing there except "we'll let government handle it".

I suppose I objected to the implied assumption that somehow government works faster and more efficiently.

IN THIS CASE, I don't see any evidence that it will.

Marty: I posted a list of about half a dozen major environmental laws that the government passed, that worked. Clean Air and Water Acts, sulfur cap and trade, Superfund, etc. Even slow and inefficient is by definition faster than not dealing with things at all.

As for health care, I posted a link to comparisons between US health care and other countries, with various levels of
government provided health insurance.

For things where the private sector is manifestly not "dealing with it", who else is there besides the government, that has any kind of comparable power to large companies?

Again Nate,

I am not an anti regulation of any kind person. Many of the regulations you cited were great.

As far as healthcare, I am loathe to go down that road, I will only state that I am referring to OUR government and our system. That the private sector is MANIFESTLY not dealing with it is a time and value judgement. It is an article of faith that government will deal with it faster and better.

You could be right, but it certainly is not a given. For every successful program you can list I could,(I won't so please don't ask) list as many that never met any of their goals. The war on drugs, every immigration policy, welfare, heck, I'll even throw in No Child Left Behind, are all the examples I should need to point out that government doesn't always deliver.

Marty: The original question was "...what's taking them [the private sector] so long on health insurance? And the environment?", thus my choice of examples. If we broaden the scope of the question, then a) it's still a comparison between what has the private sector done to accomplish the same goals (often little to nothing), and b) there's probably plenty of places we'd agree that things haven't delivered, the disagreement is does that mean government can't/shouldn't do it, or does it mean we need to do it better?

I suppose I objected to the implied assumption that somehow government works faster and more efficiently.

I don't think anyone's making the "faster and more efficiently" argument. I certainly am not, and would not.

Government is normally slow, bureaucratic, and inefficient. It's better in general if government doesn't have to get involved. If private sector solutions exist that are *adequate to the problem*, let's do those.

What I argue, and it's less an argument than a simple observation, is that the private sector was not addressing the widespread lack of health insurance, and the negative effects of dramatic rises in health care costs.

If you have any kind of evidence to put on the table that this was not, in fact, the case, have at it.

the private sector was not addressing the widespread lack of health insurance

I guess I'd make an even stronger statement than this.

The private sector was not, and was not going to, address the problem, because the for-profit private sector has no meaningful motivation to do things that are not economic.

Providing health insurance to all sectors of the population, and preserving the health and robustness of the natural environment, are not things that will make you a lot of money. They need doing, but they're not attractive from a financial ROI perspective.

The fact is that there are lots of things that need doing that are not particularly renumerative. The for-profit private sector will not do those things. It won't, and it shouldn't, and there is no point in trying to make it do so or in pretending that it will.

Some of those things can be done through private means other than for-profit efforts, and some can't. When they can't, the public sector should play a role.

I'd have to second russell. The private sector is not interested in providing these things.

I can find a way to agree that the private sector could do these things more efficiently. The problem is, it doesn't want to. If Marty's going to criticize the seemingly-glacial pace of government action as its inefficiency, then he has to criticize the market's Big Nod on these things as its inefficiency. If it only does certain things for the public good when it feels like getting around to it, sorry... that's being inefficient, no matter how much zip and elan we're supposed to believe the market always has. And thanks to a government that lets them get away with it, well, then, this is what's going to happen.

I have a strong sense that government would work better if we actually harp on it enough. When Congress roused itself in the middle of the night to pass an emergency measure designed to prevent a Florida judge's decision to take a woman who'd essentially been dead for 15 years off life support, with absolutely no support from anyone who truly knew the facts of the Terri Schiavo case, you could be sure Congress moved liked cheetahs on the savannah. Think of what it would do if it moved to the demands of people who know what's on the ground with health care - with 15% of the nation with no coverage, well, if that's not a call to action, well, I don't know what is.

Then again, Americans don't protest, don't go out on the streets for anything truly worthwhile. If it's gun ownership, yes. If it's a Tea Party Rally, yes. If it's for health care, we are a remarkably timid, disgraceful bunch of cowards.

Yes, again, what russell said.

Marty, what about the tens of millions of uninsured in America? Why wasn't the private sector solving that?

Also, what has the private sector ever done to protect the environment?

Answers, please.

what about the tens of millions of uninsured in America?

And that in a context where the elderly and folks without means to pay were already out of public markets, via Medicare and Medicaid.

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