the faerie queene vs. beowulf pay-per-view

10/17/07

It’s my own damn fault, but I’ve found the blog fairly demoralizing this week, so I think I’ll wrap up this theme with one more thought. To wit: capitalism isn’t good at everything. In fact, it’s absolutely terrible at three things: health care, news media and art. Show me someone who says the “free market” is the best solution for those three ideas, and I’ll show you a misinformed rube with terrible taste who’s about to get sick.

Except for craighill, who is none of these things and whose taste runs Carolina blue. But I digress.

After the Civil War, we drafted the 14th Amendment for freed slaves, which was later warped by businesses to create the concept of corporate personhood. This meant an American company could have many of the same rights as a person. Lots of progressives believe it to be one of the worst things to happen to modern society (see The Corporation if your stomach can take it) and claim the “person” in the form of an American company is – by definition – a sociopath.

However, I look at it anthropomorphically: if a corporation is like the many sociopaths I’ve known, you can’t be surprised by its behavior. Nothing personal, but you have to assume that they’ll eat you alive with no regrets. Like Neva says, think of the scorpion and the frog; getting your feelings hurt is your fault, not theirs. The individuals in the corporation are fine; they love their mommas just like you do, but the beast of the company itself is altogether different. As such, you have to expect war – the beast would consider anything else to be, well, confusing.

The beast feeds itself on one thing: profit. Not just profit, but also expectation of growing profit. That’s it. Everything else is towed along by a dry rope, the easier to set adrift when times get tough. Yes, I know I’m stating the obvious, but the bigger point is this: there is a moral incumbency on all of us not to let the beast take charge of everything. Almost everything? Sure. But not, for sake of argument, things like health care, news media and art.

We’ve seen what happens when the news, once content to break a little more than even, is forced to deliver ad revenue 24 hours a day. Americans are being ripped apart by the red/blue definitions being forced down their gullet by cable news, and we’ve never been so wildly misinformed about our choices. Every channel echoes the War on Terror bullshitfest not because they’re in cahoots with the Bush Administration, but because an angry, terrified audience keeps watching through the commercials.

As for art, writers simply have to believe that the beast will try to take everything away because it thinks it can. Again, it’s nothing personal. It doesn’t know any better. But every dollar a writer doesn’t get, it gets, and it knows that is good. The beast will demand things that are beyond humiliating, because it doesn’t understand guilt or compunction. It just wants the money, and you have to be okay with that.

And in your own way, you fight it. Our free market – it’s fine for roof shingles, shoe insoles, fiber optic pipelines and beets. But there are places where capitalism is far too cruel and the stakes are too high to entrust your livelihood to a sociopath.

0 thoughts on “the faerie queene vs. beowulf pay-per-view

  1. Jason Savage

    unrelated item. on Sportscenter this morning I saw an amazing piece on all the people who received organs from Jason Ray (Tarheel mascot who was hit by a car). Truly amazing story. It’s worth TiVoing today or tracking down somehow.

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  2. jon

    So, you’re saying it’s perfectly okay (albeit grudgingly) for the free market “beast” to determine winners and losers — based on ability, quality, luck, whatever — when it comes to automobiles, CPAs, chefs and shoe leather, but NOT when it comes to people who want to write freaking TV SHOWS for a living, because THOSE “stakes are too high?” Dude, no wonder you’ve been demoralized this week. That’s one unbelievably self-absorbed and retarded viewpoint. No offense, but get over yourself.
    PS to Jason Savage’s point — the Jason Ray story runs at 39 minutes after the hour on SportsCenter this morning.

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  3. jon

    The Jason Ray story is extremely well done, definitely worth watching. Some might even call it Art. It definitely adds something to the public discourse. So that got me thinking — the reporter, writers, producers, editors, shooters who worked on that piece were all compensated by The Beast for their efforts. Somewhere down the road, they may even be able to command higher salaries in the marketplace because they are known as people who produce quality Art. Now, could they have formed their own little coalition of “artists” and produced a Jason Ray documentary on their own, telling The Beast to Shove It? Sure. But it would have been an awfully long, tough road to get it positioned so that lots of people could see it and be affected by it. But The Beast has the resources to make that happen relatively quickly and easily. Furthermore, The Beast, on a daily basis, invests billions of dollars taking financial risks that the “Art” they commission will cause a ripple in the public’s consciousness, and in turn The Beast will make money as a result. This is not a given, but rather a HUGE risk, and The Beast deserves to be compensated for taking that risk. In order to manage the huge risk, The Beast negotiates with artists to pay the lowest amount of money possible for the creation of the art. Well, who wouldn’t? Did you offer to pay double for your Prius because it’s really well made, even artistic? Often, the risk fails, and The Beast loses money on projects. If The Beast wasn’t out there investing billions of dollars on these risks, there would be almost zero “art” in the public square. (And I DO think government could/should spend more on Art, but no matter how much spent, there’s no way it would ever be more than just a token compared to what the private sector underwrites.) Just because The Beast isn’t currently taking financial risks on YOU, doesn’t mean that vast (collective) sums of money aren’t being awarded by The Beast to writers and other artists everywhere we turn.

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  4. kent

    2 things:
    1. The press has always been run as a for-profit concern. The cable news channels kind of suck because the balance between being good news outlets and selling soap has tilted too far to the latter. A bigger problem is that diversity of news outlets has died. Every city in America used to have multiple newspapers, now it’s a rarity.
    2. Corporate evil and sociopathy isn’t a result of capitalism being untenable, it’s a result of having no check on its power. Everything evil corporations do is something they do that they shouldn’t, and a well informed populace and effective government regulation is the antidote.
    3. The world is the suck. Twas ever thus.

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  5. Anne

    I know the corporate juggernaut, blah blah, is menacing you personally a this time, Ian, and I appreciate your thoughts on capitalism. I myself (old Am Civ major who recently has awoken from a 30-year slumber, it seems) have been asking myself questions about the limitations vs benefits of capitalism, what’s the right balance between the free market and a humane society, etc. No, I’m not going all Marxist, nowhere near it.
    I’m sure far finer and better educated minds than mine have been examining this very topic, and I would love to hear you and/or commenters here at Xtcian recommend some (layperson-friendly – i.e., trade rather than dry scholarship) balanced reading on the question. (There is a reason I did not attempt an econ courses in college!)
    I agree that large corporations, like large governments, become quasi-organic and behave like any living organism: The goal is not mere survival but “winning” even at the expense of other organisms, sometimes *especially* at their expense. The one with the most resources at the end is the winner. (Correct, but is it “right”?)

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  6. CM (nee CL)

    It sucks at more things than health care, but I don’t agree that art is one of them. That’s another argument for another time. As for the news media, we have to fight to survive, and it is harder and harder to do investigative reporting with fewer and fewer newspapers, staff, and funds. However, the alternative to capitalism is to have newspapers funded by govt – and that would cause them to lose their credibility, and be beholden to the wrong people. Unfortunately, we just have to hope that America will keep reading and paying attention to traditional hard-working news sources and not give it all up for Drudge.

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  7. Scott

    I’m a corporate lawyer and make my money from representing businesses all over the place. I think Ian is painting with too broad of a brush in lambasting all “corporations” when I think he is really only talking about publicly traded corporations. Other corporations, despite the legal fiction of maintaining a separate identity from their owners, are just manifestations of the underlying owner or owners. So, let’s stop attacking all corporations (which should include things like LLPs, LLLPs, and LLCs).
    Now, to the publicly traded corporation, everything he said is spot on. Profit is the motivator. If an idea does not have a reasonable chance of increasing profit, then not only does the idea not get implemented, but those who implement the idea are actually breaching a duty to the shareholders of the corporation. Such is life in these companies.
    Where things got screwy is when the entertainment industry became publicly traded. Not that life before then was much better – think about the Renaissance – the rich merchants essentially kept artists at their beck and call, kind of like creative whores. I would posit that life is a little better now.
    To Ian’s larger point, which is the fact that the craft and art of writing well is vastly underappreciated by the unwashed masses: well, duh! Unfortunately, by definition these people don’t get it and probably never will. It falls to the few of us that understand that life without art is unacceptable. We go to the symphony in part out of a sense of obligation to keep the symphony playing. We visit the art museums to ensure that the lights are still on. I try to take it a step further and avoid drivel – be it music or lousy TV shows – and encourage others to do the same.
    So, Ian – you are right (except for the broad attack on all corporation). The writers deserve to be paid, and paid handsomely, for keeping the craft alive.

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  8. Ian

    Of COURSE I didn’t mean the stakes for TV writing itself were too high, I was trying to make a larger point. I may have a bloated sense of importance, but I’m not frickin’ SCHIZOID.
    Either I’ve done a shitty job at explaining myself this week, or else this just happens to be a topic for which people have very little tolerance. Probably both.

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  9. emma

    Maybe you’ve said it and I’m just too knucklebrained to figure it out. If free market is not the answer to these three areas, what do you propose that the answer is?

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  10. craighill

    if i had gone to wake forest would i have gotten the pass on the “misinformed rube…”? i know the answer if i was a dookie. ;)
    i can spend hours on a bench in a museum enjoying a painting that i really like and usually have about 3 books going at once, fiction and otherwise. art is very important to me.
    i just don’t think it is the government’s job to pay for it.
    “that government is best which governs least” comes to mind. (which actually wasn’t jefferson but thoreau it seems). either way, you get the point.
    to scott’s point, if you’ve been to the uffizi in florence you know that not all government sponsored art is great even when you’ve got all the stars on the payroll. unless you like looking at all 4200 members of the medici family’s portraits – in profile. don’t get me wrong, the uffizi is fantastic, but DAMN there was a lot of wasted paint and marble on that family.
    go heels.

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  11. Jody

    You’re thinking about the Beast, the Man, the Corporation, but for me, Scott is correct. I have to have the consulting part of my life separate from the bourbon drinking child raising part of my life.
    (I like that misplaced modifier, I don’t think I’ll edit it)
    The LLC allows me run a business and separate my professional liability from my general, but less consequential fuckups in regular life. While it is true that an incorporated person stretches the limit of the imagination, it doesn’t quite feel that way until someone puts it that way.
    Any other comments I refer back to Kent.

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  12. Scott

    Jody:
    Can I use your line about “less consequential fuckups in regular life” when people ask me why they would want to set up a Corp/LLC? That was fantastic. Course, as a corporate lawyer, my sense of humor is pretty much gone.

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  13. Scott

    Sorry for the dual postings – but this is for Craig.
    I have been to the Uffizi, so I’m with you on the potential overkill. Two things though – One: that art was not government sponsored, but rather sponsored by those who were controlling the government at the time. Subtle, but important distinction. Two: Even in the repetitive portraits of the Medici family, the craft of the artisans is apparent. You and I may miss the beauty after the first 10 or so, but I recognize the need for all 500 portraits.
    Scott

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  14. monheric

    On the larger issue, I recommend “Everything for Sale” – an attempt to define the limits of capitalism in opposition to the religion of the free market.

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  15. Neva

    I spent time typing a long comment but it keeps getting denied for questionable content. Is some big drug company censoring you Ian?
    Here’s a link to my concern for today regarding corporations. For profits are corrupting our medical care on both a personal and professional level just like they’ve corrupted our Congress.

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  16. db

    Why are we so quick to dismiss public financing for the media?
    In the US, we ask “How can you have an independent media, if it is funded by the government?”
    In the UK, they ask “How can you have an independent media, if it is NOT funded by the government?”
    The BBC is one of the most respected news sources in the world.
    Fox is… not.

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  17. Tanya

    You know, I also tend to agree with Scott. And it’s not because I don’t understand your argument or that you didn’t make yourself clear, Ian. It’s just that I don’t necessarily agree with you. (which is unusual for me.) And, by the way, my husband and his brother have formed an LLC, and, like Jody said, it’s to keep us from losing our house if they fuck up something. Pretty much the only way I sleep at night.

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  18. Neva

    I had similar thoughts to db as I was listening to NPR today. They are doing their fund drive right now. I guess NPR and Public TV is about as govt funded as we get for media and even that is not very much govt funded anymore. I personally find their news very informative and unbiased but I know there are many who think it’s “too liberal”.

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  19. Ian

    Yes, please, everyone take their personal LLC’s out of the mix of this argument. Tessa and I have two ourselves. By “corporations” I thought it was clear I was talking about behemoths, not the (comparatively) tiny legal structures for independent businesspeople.

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  20. herman

    you’re mixing up working in the creative business and making art. Frankly if Americans were deprived of their daily non-stop tv drivel (sorry, art) chances are they’d feel a whole lot better.

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  21. Bud

    If you haven’t seen The Corporation, I highly recommend it.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Corporation
    Markets are good, profit is good — and obviously, jobs are good.
    What’s bad is that our current sytem fails to sufficiently limit corporations’ ability to do harm (environmental, social, etc) with impunity. What’s needed is an overhaul (not an overthrow) of the existing market economny.
    Another major problem I see in the whole economy (including, but not limited to, popular and fine arts) is a devaluation of workers’ contributions, a ‘commoditization of everything’ if you will.
    Obviously, it’s beneficial to corporate interests to get more for less and again, our current system is biased too much in favor of the Owners. Part of it is that a lot of us are, for lack of a better word, brainwashed by corporate propoganda. Unions = bad, the phrase “socialized medicine”, etc.
    These will be tough to overcome, given that corporations have a lot more money to tell their side(s) of the story and also to lobby for their interests in government.
    As usual, recognizing that a problem exists is the first step, which is why I’m grateful for this entry.
    Again, if you haven’t seen The Corporation, see it ASAP.

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  22. xuxE

    i’m late to the conversation, and i’ve been avoiding it since this particular topic tends to make me foam at the mouth. but i’m feeling fairly zen about it at the moment.
    it’s always just totally clear to me that large corporations and art have extremely opposite goals.
    i was just having a discussion with two investment professionals about the concept of investing in film development. one said, ‘what kind of bank would lend to a filmmaker? there is no collateral’ and the other said, ‘well there is a script, maybe from a famous scriptwriter’ and the first then laughed and said ‘no one would lend a million dollars on a script’.
    i’m oversimplifying and of course the discussion went on to different equity investors and venture capital funding sources, but i think that little exchange speaks volumes. one has to presume there is a commercial value in art in order for it to make sense for anyone to put money into – doesn’t matter if it is a corporation or individual investor – to consider it to be *worth* investing in.
    measuring success in terms of commercial viability is an act that fundamentally corrupts the art making process.
    that’s why a lot of artists rely on grants, of course – these are giveaways, removed from the profit/loss equation. unfortunately they are scarce.
    i’ll offer my latest little short film that i just finished for the discussion – you can see a shitty compressed version of it here: (scroll down till you get to the film called “homeless love”)
    http://www.scarycow.com/round3.html
    in this film we decided to expore the combination of documentary, narrative, and musical storytelling to evoke a feeling. we also wanted to do a treatment on the subject of homelessness, without talking about homelessness as a political issue, but just treating it as a state that individuals are in at a point in their lives. we wanted to talk to homeless people about love, just as you might talk to anyone, but we watned to do it without talking directly about the experience of homelessness. it’s partly experimental, partly traditional, and totally art.
    me and the other folks involved are fortunate enough to be able to create this stuff on our own, but what if we couldn’t afford it? i have two kids but i am lucky enough that my husband earns his living as a musician/producer so he has flexibility to cover childcare and we usually meet at my house on nights when he is in the studio. but what about the single moms who want to make art? how does a person on minimum wage afford a professioanl camera and light kit to make her movie? if there is no commercial value in making documentary/narrative/musicals about homelessness does that mean it shouldn’t be done? and how will we know unless we try? should we as artists have to always bang on the door of a corporation in order to make art?
    corporate profit/loss estimations are extrapolated from the past. that is how probability of success is measured by investment professionals. investing in something that is unproven is like gambling, and in the case of art, there is no “there” there to base an estimate on.
    even if your writing is not a great departure from other stuff out there, and even if you can somehow extrapolate from the past – if for whatever reason, it isn’t supported by the corporation’s profit/loss analysis, by their estimate of what will appeal to the lowest common denominator TV viewer AND their advertising sponsors, what the tastemakers and trend predictors say, you are screwed.
    and unfortunately, film and TV and other modern media are hard to make without funds. it’s not like making a painting – it takes a lot of dollars and there is almost always someone else with a commercial agenda in control of those dollars.
    so Ian, i suggest you save a piece of your artistic soul and stop giving it to the corporations. whatever support you can tease out of them – great. but if you totally invest yourself you will be disappointed and frustrated.
    when is the last time you made art totally outside if the corporate goal? your band? your indie movie? this blog? i think you should feed your artistic self with something that only has to satisfy you and those whose opinions truly matter to you, like Tessa, your friends, mentors, etc. you should invest in yourself with your own funds, and strive to move as far away from tht world as you can while still paying the bills.
    to me, taking a corporate paycheck and all the creativity and energy i reserve and turning as much of it as i can into fuel for my own art is the way to stick it to them. because eventually either the art engine i fuel will take off and fly me out of there, or i’ll be so happy i won’t give a shit what the corporations say.

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  23. janet

    not completly sure about what you are trying to say but i think it is somewhere between compassion and anger……please allow me the stage to say that when i respond to your blogs i do one thing …..i really want to be heard..,i want a voice but do not feel as strong as you within society to do that, so instead of being as able as you …….i sort of hitch a ride……a bit like a nit…..annoying…..but the thing is what i am really wanting to do is to understand the humaness of humanity in order to say me…..I…..self…….selfish…….shellfish……..fossil……….tree……..leaf……conker……conker fight……needs string….needs thread……needs fabric…….needs plants…….needs pollination……..needs, hello

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  24. Ramone

    Ian,
    Again, i totally disagree with your negative comments against corporations. This country is the richest, strongest and most giving country in the world for two primary reasons: 1) free market capitalism and 2) laws based on Judeo-christian principles.
    You premise is that most corporations are self-centered behemoths. Read the book “Good to Great” and you’ll see factual evidence to the contrary. Great stories about big companies doing great things. Sure, there will always be the “Enron’s” in this country, but the laws of the land will flush them out and punish them accordingly.
    Great companies have created unprecented wealth in our country – like nothing else the world has ever seen. Great wealth is not a bad thing. Great wealth has funded many of your pet projects, let’s look at them –
    the Arts – the Getty museum, by grant from JP Getty, must spend, ON AVERAGE, $1 million per day in on purchases of fine art. On a present value basis, these four men alone – Getty, Carnegie, Frick, Rockefeller, Jr – have funded more to the arts than the US government.
    Health Care – Gates is giving approximately $25 billion primarily to combat world health issues. Warren Buffet has pledged $31 billion to Gates’ foundation.
    Let’s go back to corporations. 90% of the corporations in the US are small businesses, not Fortune 500’s. Small business is the “backbone” of the US business economy. In my 25 years in business, i have started, from scratch, three companies. Two were successful, one failed. In these 25 years, i have employed over 100 people. Let me give you a rough breakdown on my employees – three were crooks, five were addicts of some sort, about 20 proved to be ungrateful deadbeats, about 25 got married and left the company, about 30 moved to another city, about 40 went to other jobs, three were outstanding and made almost $1 million from stock opions.
    Now – you want me, as an employer, to fund health care for my employees. No thanks. In small business real world, it does not work. Oh sure, it sounds great – and it sounds so “let’s make the world a better place for everbody” – ish. But the hard and cold reality is –
    – Health care is not a right (not in the constitution)
    – A significant part of the population (~25%) refuses to take care of itself. it’s not my job, or desire, to help people who refuse to help themselves. It is nothing but wasteful.
    – US wages are the highest in the world. (25x that of the middle east and yet middle east nations live under the richest natural resources in the world, hmmmm.). This is real important – THESE WAGES are to pay for their health cost – along with their mortgage, food and movie tickets.
    – In today’s culture, workers are transient. The average worker will have six jobs in his/her lifetime. Given this fact, employers funding employees is not realistic.
    – Universal health care is not working in the social states of Europe. Europe is lagging the US in per capita income. GNP has grown faster recently in Europe vis a vis US, but on an absolute basis, the US trounces Europe in GNP. GNP translates into quality of life – it’s what affords you to have three houses (why is it that the four environmentalist i know all have hree houses??), jet around the country, and bellyache about corporations on your BLOG.
    – If you can’t make it in the US, then you can’t make it anywhere. Sure, there will be the few who try and fail for lack of luck or unusual circumstance. Finding and helping those is noble. But, it is the individual, not the corporation, who must pay for one’s health insurance, ie – take care of oneself.
    Last comment on health care – in the mid 90’s, Hillary Clinton made this comment regarding the issue of small business owners having to fund health care – “i can’t help it if small businesses are undercapitalized”. Now – that one sentence speaks volumes. i don’t have time to pick it apart. Suffice it to say – that sentence tells me how much the Senator is out of touch with reality.
    Finally – corporate profits are a good thing. profits go to the owners, who are the stockholders – see Gates and Buffet above. I’m no Buffet – but i’ve given away 25% of what i earned through the years – over and above the outrageous taxes i pay. the last thing i want to do is brag about this. what i am trying to convey is that –
    – i am not a bleeding heart liberal
    – I loathe most everything about entitlement programs
    – i am very conservative and yet i am compassionate to those who can’t help themselves
    – i am not an environmentalist, yet i own only one house and have picked up alot of trash.

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  25. CP (still CP)

    also, to avoid any confusion, I still have my maiden name/my initials haven’t changed.
    CM — as a fellow initials person, I posit the following 2 thoughts:
    1) I’m glad your husband’s last name doesn’t start with a P
    2) you’re glad your first name doesn’t start with a B
    ok, I’m finished.

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  26. xuxE

    i read both “good to great” and howard zinn’s “a people’s history”. i’d say don’t bother reading good to great, but definitely read howard zinn.
    i would say that large corporations are absolutely not democratic, they concentrate power in the hands of the few at the helm, who are able to direct not just artist grants as they so choose, but also can execute totally tyrannical policies that screw workers, indiginous people, the environment, free speech, and anything else that gets in the way of profitability.
    in fact the only turn toward morality-based shareholder activism in recent years came from *the government* – large pension funds like calpers who insisted that firms divest from apartheid-ruled south africa. the government, i.e., public pension plans, and union pension plans, for that matter, are the only shareholder groups with large enough pools of money to force companies to act with moral responsibility beyond just a profit motive.

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  27. Neva

    Ramone,
    I’m not following your logic. How does the per capita income relate to whether their universal health care is working in Europe? Do you think our system works better? The World Health Organization in 2000 ranked the United States health care system was ranked 37th by overall performance, 72nd by health and 1st by expenditure.
    No health care is not a “right” per se (by the Constitution) in this country but neither is education or postal service or many other things we’ve decided are best to provide to our nation for the benefit of all of us. I actually agree that small businesses do get reamed a bit in our system and I think that’s one reason to support govt funded care. We all pay for the medical care of others one way or another in this country b/c people are not turned down at ERs, and that is expensive and often never paid for (except by you and me indirectly). Medical bills are the number one reason individuals file for bankruptcy in this country and the cost of private insurance is outrageous. You make it sound like people could decide to buy their own just like they decide on popcorn at the movies. Have you priced insurance lately for someone who has any existing medical problem?
    I do think there is room for a system where people pay for the “extras” in medicine. There are many things that patients demand that I think are not necessary and probably are better paid for out of their own pocket. Unfortunately, they feel they pay so much for their insurance that they “deserve” that MRI or whatever for each cough or headache. I’d much rather everyone have access to individual basic care and let other pay for the extras.

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  28. Claverack Weekender

    Bro, capitalism is great at health care, if you can afford to pay. Think of flying first class… My family frequents the parallel medical system that doesn’t involve “is this covered by insurance” in decision making. My pediatrician personally answers the phone at night and on weekends. I don’t call that often, but when I need to it’s nice to know he’s there.
    Trying to federalize the system sounds like a disaster. What is an “acceptable” amount of free health care? Where should we draw the line? Who administers this system and decides who lives and who dies? My guess is that we end up with something like public schools– a system avoided by anyone who can afford it. [Yes, I’m sending my son to private school. I even drive to work on a privatized, toll-based road.]

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  29. Claverack Weekender

    Neva –
    I like your “everyone should learn to read and write” analogy. Don’t we already have that, though, in the form of Medicare, Medicaid (Federal contribution $500B+) and free emergency room care for anyone who shows up?
    The real argument here is quality and amount of care, not whether care is available.
    As for our personal situation, we pay our ped. and family physician directly and then request reimbursement (out of network) from our insurance co. We end up paying quite a bit extra out of pocket for this luxury, but it does pretty clearly eliminate any question of “is this covered.”
    I agree catastrophic health care is another issue altogether, but my hope is that our personal physicians can serve as impartial advocates we can call on if/when that happens. Ultimately when you offer to pay cash for these services most of the barriers disapear.

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  30. Claverack Weekender

    p.s. I lived in the UK for five years and the NHS is really overrated. Again everyone who could afford it opted out via private health services while everyone else complained about poor quality and delays.

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  31. Neva

    CW – I appreciate your questions. In theory you are somewhat right about Medicaid however Medicaid is only available to women with children who have enormously low incomes (generally less than 1/2 of poverty), pregnant women and elderly people who have no income (and must spend down/sell off most of what they have). Medicare is available to those over 65 and those with permanent disability and it doesn’t cover most outpatient care. Therefore, 1. if you are male you can’t get Medicaid unless you are disable. If you are female, not pregnant and make more than 1/2 of poverty you don’t qualify for Medicaid either.
    Then, there is the issue of how many docs even take Medicaid if you to manage to qualify for it.
    So, it’s certainly not an option to anyone and everyone.
    The person who really suffers is the “working poor” who doesn’t get health care with their job (think of the guy at the 7/11 or anyone who works part time or for a smaller business who opt out of covering their employees). Buying their own policy just isn’t financially feasible and they just hope for no dire emergencies. For these people, a national health services would be loads better than anything they’ve got now and sure cheaper than emergency care for everyone.
    Your ability to pay up front is great and I imagine does buy you better care but most people can’t nor do they want to do that. They figure they are paying enormous amounts for insurance and they should be able to use it and who can blame them.
    I don’t pretend to know a magic answer. I just know that what we’ve got now is terribly inefficient, expensive care that isn’t even very good when you compare health outcomes with other nations. I also know from my day to day work how frustrating our current system is for everyone involved. I have seen it from every single viewpoint.

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  32. Neva

    Had to take a break – What I mean by every viewpoint is that I’ve worked in academic medicine, public health and government medicine (health dept), a non profit clinic and now a small private practice. I also have a child and a husband with significant medical problems so I now see it now from a consumer perspective as well, and in all areas so far there are serious problems with our system.
    I’m sure people complain about the NHS but when they need routine health care it’s available near by and it’s decent. Many, many people here can’t say that.
    Have you been to an ER in the US lately? Talk about waiting. I often have patients sit in ERs for 8-10 hours or longer before being discharged or admitted.
    My understanding is that the complaints of waiting in the NHS are usually for more elective things (and believe me many things that people think they “have to have tomorrow” here they could wait longer for and no medical outcome would change. Also, hospitals really don’t have to look like Hiltons to be decent. Many people here don’t even get a choice to wait for these things people complain about waiting for in the NHS. They just plain don’t get them. I do think some Americans would have a hard time adjusting to basic NHS care, but that’s where your “first class” analogy would work. I’m all for letting people pay for “first class” health care as long as we ensure everyone can access the “economy class” version.

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  33. CM nee CL

    Oh, I’d love to be “B.M.” We talk about doody all the time at home.
    “Why are we so quick to dismiss public financing for the media?”
    That’s a big can of squirmy worms.
    We don’t want most of our news sources to have to rely on sucking from the govt teat, which would make them feel compromised. However, it is possible that some day, the media will have to get public financing if it is to survive in this age of less-reliable but more easily accessible blogs.
    FOX is not the norm, luckily.
    Determining who qualifies will be the tough thing.

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  34. db

    Absolutely agree, CM — public financing (via taxpayers/the gov’t) is a tough nut to crack, especially in our current, first-amendment based system.
    But have you watched a local newscast recently? Wow…
    This is not to say there aren’t any journalists out there, fighting the good fight. There are. But except in the rarest of cases, they seem to be doing their great work in spite of their corporate owners, not because of them.
    By the way, I recommend _Amusing Ourselves to Death_ by Neil Postman. He discusses the evolution from the “age of typography” to the “age of television,” and its impact on public discourse. A very good (if somewhat academic) read.

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  35. Rebecca

    I know you’re all waiting on pins and needles to hear from me… Fires raging all around Irvine. We saw flames on the hill 100 yards from our house last night and hit the road within 10 minutes. It’s amazing how little stuff is actually important in the face of that. We spent the night at a hotel and are now safely back at home. Right now it’s 86 degrees with 13% humidity in my back yard, perfect conditions for raging fires. We’re still having lots of gusts of wind, it’s very smoky and dark looking outside. Hope everyone else is safe!

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  36. connor beach

    Ian, you are exactly right. Big business doesn’t do a great job of healthcare, the arts or the news media. However, seems like the only solution I ever see on this blog for any given problem is government intervention. If you ask me, big business (and big non-profit for that matter) fails in these areas when it begins to behave like government, not when it differs from it. That is, it fails when it becomes too bureaucratic and centralized, the folks doling out the funds or reporting on the problem are too far from the situation to read it well. I would posit that the combination of private business and private charities do a swell job at all three of these when government gets out of their way.

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  37. Ramone

    Neva,
    If we’re 72th in the world by health stats, then why do people all over the world come to the US for treatment?
    Which reminds me about fatso, Michael Moore, going to Cuba for a health care propaganda stunt – question: Why did he come back to the US? Why didn’t he stay over there? He loves Cuba! Which reminds me of my cousin, who sent medical aid to a Cuban for years because this particular medicine was not available in Cuba. Which reminds me of all the people trying to escape Cuba because they are miserable. Which reminds me of the fact that nobody EVER has tried to escape the US to live in Cuba. Which reminds me of Jimmy Carter visiting Cuba because he thinks he’s the foreign policy MAN (but look at his foreign policy record as president). Boy..i wish fat boy would have stayed in Cuba – it’s workers’ paradise over there! What was he thinking when he came back?
    The problem with our ranking vis a vis the developed countries is that we are not as healthy as our contemporaries. Obesity is out of control in this country. Who are likely to be the obese? Well, go to any professional football game and just look around – yep, the fat ones eating the hot dogs – they are everywhere! Who do they vote for? Give me an H, an I, an L, another L…what does it stand for?
    Guess what percent of the total tax bill the top 1% wage earners pay? answer: 40%. Guess what percent of the total tax bill the top 10% of wage earners pay? 72%. Guess what percent of the total tax bill the bottom 50% of wage earners pay? answer: 3%.
    No, I’m not for NHS. I’m done with supporting more people. And when I die, my estate will be taxed 55%. Enough already. If my wife gives to her private charity, so be it.
    Per capita income has everything to do with nationalized health care coverage. Think of national health care as an additional tax on business. There are 45 million people who do not have health coverage in the US. Who’s going to pay for their coverage? Not me, if my candidates control the government (see tax rates above).
    Here’s some quick macroeconomics:
    Higher taxes (i.e., health care entitlement cost) will result in lower corporate profits because Hillary wants the employer to pay for these costs (so capital markets WILL retreat), lower discretionary spending will occur because the government now has more of your money (corporate sales will go down, furthering the decline in the capital markets), savings too will go down because you will have less take home pay (less money to invest, furthering the decline in cap markets). And – my tax bill is now extended another month, from january to july – now to January to August. So, I am really going to consider retiring, why the hell work anymore?. Which means, weathly (or can I just say “successful”) business owners are more apt to call it quits. Unemployment will rise. The economy will never be the same EVER again. Sure, it will continue to grow but nothing like the last 100 years in this country. 50 years from now, you children’s per capita income will be significantly lower than what it is today, inflation adjusted. Countries w/o NHS will be richer. Europe, by then, will be a third world Muslim state, which is another story.
    And not to mention, your health care service is going to get crappy real quick – see poster from England above – he’s lived it.
    A Roman philosopher/economist wrote in BC – “a democracy will fall when the public realizes it can vote itself the great treasures from the largess”.
    Yes, I have priced health care recently (business owner here). HSA accounts are the answer and once again, they are INDIVUAL deals. No group, nationalized, commi thing going on with them. Each state mandates that people with pre-existing conditions are not excluded.
    Look, I love people. I care about people. The problem with liberalism is that some people do not contribute to the welfare of the country. I do not want to enable them to continue on the entitlement train. If we continue enabling them, this country will implode.
    Ramone $. Calhoun

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  38. bridget

    ramone’s problems with crooks and dead beats in his businesses led me to a different conclusion. ramone very probably has trouble spotting character flaws. but his deficiency doesn’t mean that liberalism is at fault. ramone also sees connections to others as a problem and source of conflict because not everyone is pulling the same weight as he evidently is. he spots the deadbeats and generalizes to all. i think liberals see the interconnectedness of our society and think that’s a good thing. that a better society for all translates into a better society for me. it’s so very different from the view that a better society for all is an unfairness to me.

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  39. Ramone

    Neva,
    For you to say that money is most important to me is a lie, total lie. I provided you business (ie, “money”) facts in my previous post. So, you have obviously concluded that money must be most important to me because of the fact that i spoke in economic terms.
    I’ll bet you my house that my philanthropy record beats yours on an absolute and percentage basis, and you can pick any year or years you want.

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  40. ramone

    Bridget,
    Regarding spotting character flaws: I have several accountability partners i meet on a regular basis. One question we often ask the other is: “what is the one question you don’t want me to ask you?”
    i believe myself and others to be “sinners”, ie, “character flaws” in secular world. We all have our “sin signature stamps” – those behavior patterns that seem to reappear in our lives. Several of mine are – lack of patience, lust and pride. C.S. Lewis says “pride is not being the best, it’s being better than”. I try to renew my mind and remember that i am no better or worse than anyone else. So, yes, i’ve got my character flaws. And yours would be?
    I wouldn’t say “liberalism is at fault” per se – rather, liberalism is flawed. Subtle but significant difference in statement.
    As i said in my previous post, liberalism (a la Hillary) wants to take care of certain people who don’t want to take care of themselves. Those of whom, in fact, can take care of themselves. These are the ones i refer to as “deadbeats”. Liberalism is the enabler for these people. Liberalism “feeds” these people in the name of compassion. But it’s not true compassion because true compassion is about dignity. There is no dignity in keeping people WHO CAN WORK on entitlements by enabling them with entitlement funds. This is not a “better society for all”. It is not better for the deadbeats and it is not better for me cause I’m supporting them with my hard earned wages. Now, i don’t want to be “interconnected” with these people. You may, but i don’t.
    By the way, i have been involved in inner city volunteering for 25 years. To say i “spot the deadbeats and generalize to all” is not true, it is a lie. I lived in the inner city for two years and was robbed three times. Twice in one weekend. I got REAL tired of the deadbeats!
    Your statement that a “better society” occurs through this nebulous “interconnectedness” is a soundbite. What is a “better society” and what is “interconnectedness”? This is why Air America and liberal tv talk shows keep failing. There is no substance behind the rhetoric. In my previous post, my rhetoric is supported by hard facts, fact after fact.

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  41. bridget

    ramone – just because you don’t understand the meaning of the words “better society” and “interconnectedness” doesn’t make them soundbites. and just because you believe something really and truly doesn’t make it “facts”. i do know though that we don’t speak the same language, and subsequently, will never understand one another. i’ve stopped trying.

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  42. oliver

    Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has been stumping on the same platform about corporate personhood (related I think to a new book he has out) and he advocates junking the concept of corporate liability and culpability, and commencing to tax and sue and jail the owners and operators. He lumps taxation into the problem of corporate personhood, because the relatively low flat tax that applies to shareholders’ capital gains essentially nullifies the supposed progressiveness of the income tax system. Makes sense to me that we concern ourselves just with the actual people.

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