Obamao Beijing.jpg
(Shop along South Luogo Alley, Beijing; photo credit: Andrew Oros)
I have seen a lot of foreigners wearing this ObaMao shirt, but no Chinese yet.
What would converse be with Hu Jintao?
— Steve Clemons


19 comments on “ObaMao

  1. nadine says:

    Government isn’t leeching off over 25% of GDP through weakness, Don, by through an unprecedented power grab. Just look at the sectors being taken over: auto, banks, healthcare. The corporations are getting the worse of the bargain right now.


  2. Don Bacon says:

    nadine: “Don’t you get it?”
    I love it. It’s on the order of: “You didn’t see that movie?”
    No, nadine, I don’t get it. And I didn’t see the movie. And I don’t beat my wife.
    Corporations rule. Not the government. Period. It’s the American way.
    “Government should be weak, amateurish and ridiculous. At present, it fulfills only a third of the role.” — Edward Abbey


  3. nadine says:

    “It’s corporations taking over government, not the reverse. ”
    No Don, they are Siamese twins, don’t you get it? Only the corporations can actually make money, and only the government has the monopoly of force to tax, confiscate and jail. They need each other. One hand washes the other, the revolving door spins both ways, and the ruling class gets larger and fatter.
    While the country class struggles under the burden.
    Come on, while the corporate honchos get theirs, do you think all those legions of staffers, pols and K Street Lobbyists go without? Of course not. Nor the armies of federal bureaucrats all provided with lifetime jobs by the regulations the big corporations and big government churn out between them, the better to keep the corporate types rent-seeking and offering up campaign cash.
    It’s not Left and it’s not Right. It’s Statist.


  4. Don Bacon says:

    It’s corporations taking over government, not the reverse.
    Look at the Pentagon, with its revolving-door executives and its sole-source, no-bid contracts. Has the government taken over Lockheed Martin? Lockheed’s motto may be “We never forget who we’re working for” but don’t you believe it. The Pentagon operatives are very clear on who’s nest is to be feathered. It’s Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon and General Dynamics who are their current masters (and their possible future employers).
    By the way, these corporations have not only taken over the Pentagon, but also some US embassies abroad where the US ambassadors, essentially working for the corporations, have been instrumental in outsourcing US jobs.
    In health care, the industry mole is Liz Fowler.
    blog diary (FDL):
    “Remember Liz Fowler? The former WellPoint VP whom William Ockham noted was the literal author of the health care reform bill? “I


  5. nadine says:

    “A US citizen now can’t purchase insurance when s/he wants it. The individual is now merely a component of interstate commerce and is thereby subject to government control, and can be forced to buy a product s/he doesn’t need so that the greater good — determined by the government — is served.” (Don Bacon)
    Exactly right. Notice that there is no bright line between government subsidizing corporations by dragooning business for them, and government taking over corporations by controlling them to the point that they can only function with government subsidies; indeed, the first is a good way-station towards achieving the second.
    Therefore the first state is not “right-wing” and the second state is not “left-wing” as you sometimes seem to think; they both together are “statist,” the opposite of libertarian. That is far more descriptive.


  6. Don Bacon says:

    A US citizen now can’t purchase insurance when s/he wants it. The individual is now merely a component of interstate commerce and is thereby subject to government control, and can be forced to buy a product s/he doesn’t need so that the greater good — determined by the government — is served.
    from HR 3590 (extracts):
    SUPREME COURT RULING- In United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association (322 U.S. 533 (1944)), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that insurance is interstate commerce subject to Federal regulation.
    (a) Findings- Congress makes the following findings:
    (1) IN GENERAL- The individual responsibility requirement provided for in this section (in this subsection referred to as the `requirement’) is commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce, as a result of the effects described in paragraph (2).
    (2) EFFECTS ON THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND INTERSTATE COMMERCE- The effects described in this paragraph are the following:
    skip to:
    (G) Under sections 2704 and 2705 of the Public Health Service Act (as added by section 1201 of this Act), if there were no requirement, many individuals would wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care. By significantly increasing health insurance coverage, the requirement, together with the other provisions of this Act, will minimize this adverse selection and broaden the health insurance risk pool to include healthy individuals, which will lower health insurance premiums. The requirement is essential to creating effective health insurance markets in which improved health insurance products that are guaranteed issue and do not exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions can be sold.


  7. questions says:

    Nadine’s world:
    Cut-rate bypass surgery
    Special today on chemo!!
    Bargain basement vaccines!!!
    hypodermics — used only once before!!!!!
    The fact is that we need the risk abatement of third party paying/insurance.
    Or do you want to get rid of all kind of insurance including I guess the securities and futures markets, the stock market, and even refrigeration which is its own kind of hedge against near certain food spoilage!
    Risk abatement makes complex civil and financial interactions possible.
    Insurance works to spread risk and is absolutely central to health care. Prices need to be kind of high on a wide range of medical techniques to guarantee a broad supply of those techniques.
    We just have to pay a fair amount for some things. They’re worth it, especially when you suddenly find yourself dying, near death, incredibly ill, mildly ill, wondering if that weird feeling is death’s grip or just a sneeze.
    As medical techniques improve, the price goes up. We just kind of have to pay it.
    There will be some cost controls on the fringes of things. We could dump homeopathy and acupuncture and a few other things. We can encourage better dietary and exercise habits simply through environmental alterations (sidewalks, anyone??) and through “choice architecture” (cf. Sunstein/Thaler) and we’ll do a little better on the diabetes/hypertension front. We can discourage smoking all the more and maybe try to do something about gunshot wounds and car accidents to save a bit on lung cancer and trauma units.
    But we are, most of us, eventually going to get something pricey and unpleasant. And we’re going to pay for it. And that’s that.
    We need something to make this economy move. Health care is something.


  8. nadine says:

    Don, re: fee-for-service: it’s part of the problem but not the main problem. The main problem is third-party-payer: when he who pays is not he who gets the service, the incentive structure gets all screwed up. When the screwed-up system is frozen into place with government rules, it gets only more screwed-up. The mechanisms of personal choice and greater efficiency that operate in a free market to lower costs never get a chance to act.
    As Samuelson points out, the demonized health insurers cannot control costs because they are only the middlemen.


  9. nadine says:

    “and it goes on to detail the problems inherent in getting Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN), and lacking those, Social Security Numbers (SSN) !!! from vendors. It’s a nightmare of bureaucratic over-reach that has nothing to do with medical care.” (Don Bacon)
    Agreed. Every small businessman will be required to send a 1099 to every one of his suppliers. Gold vendors will also be required to report purchases over $500, starting in 2012. Again, nothing to do with health care, except trying to identify and tax everything that moves with federal penalties for evasion…gee, think they knew taxes would be going up, despite Obama’s lies? of course they did.
    This is what you get when the ruling party jams down 3000 page bills that nobody has read. Obama nationalized the student loan business in the health care bill too. And the bill won’t even be finished until HHS writes 50,000 pages of regulations to implement the bill.
    And the NYT is running a serious news piece about how baffled Democrats are that nobody is hiring. UFB.
    If you want to read a piece that is making a BIG splash in the conservative blogosphere right now, read “America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution” by Anthony Codeville in the American Spectator. (It’s making such a big splash that the site has gone down from too much traffic, or I’d give you the link). It’s all about how America is increasingly all about what the government does, and less and less about what you do, and how we got that way.
    This is what the Tea Parties are about — the attempt to found a “Country Party” to oppose the “Ruling Class Party”. The Tea Partiers want to throw out the Democrats and take over the Republicans.
    Steve may be enjoying his Mandarin existence, but he should beware — a Boxer Rebellion is rumbling in the countryside.


  10. Don Bacon says:

    questions: “It’s way too simplistic to blame fee-for-service.”
    Health Care Opinion Leaders’ Views on Payment System Reform — Nov 3, 2008:
    “The 16th Commonwealth Fund/Modern Healthcare Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey asked a diverse group of experts about health care payment system reform. Survey participants are fundamentally dissatisfied with the way health care is paid for in the United States, with more than two-thirds reporting the fee-for-service system is not effective at encouraging high quality and efficient care and more than three-quarters preferring a move toward bundled per patient payment. . .
    “The current fee-for-service system reimburses individual services – hospital stays, physician visits, and procedures – rather than paying for the most appropriate care for the patient over the course of an illness or a time period. In doing so, it creates incentives to provide more technical and more expensive services, rather than encouraging more effective, higher-value care. Only 1 percent of health care leaders surveyed said they preferred the current fee-for-service payment system to alternative approaches.”


  11. questions says:

    Medical prices in the US vs. India — the difference isn’t fee for service, it’s wage levels.
    We in the US have a much higher wage structure than these other countries do.
    Outsourcing in medicine is no different from outsourcing anything else. Pay is high here, so labor costs are high here, so the products of labor are high here.
    Medicine is highly specialized, it’s an expensive education, it takes 4 years of college, 4 years of med school, and additional specialization training during which your pay sucks and your tuition is astronomical.
    Medicine training requires a huge amount of dedication, a huge amount of risk, it’s prestigious in this country, and it has to compete in salary with a lot of other well-paid things that pretty smart people could also do.
    We also have a significant tradition of for-profit behavior, and third party payers that structurally do indeed create upward pressure on prices.
    It’s way too simplistic to blame fee-for-service.
    And note that labor in China is now getting a little more expensive. It’s in the nature of labor to do that over time.


  12. Don Bacon says:

    At the heart of the medical insurance problem (as in Mass.) is the high cost of fee-for-service. It’s bad now, and forecasts are that it will be much worse in 2014 when the federal bill kicks in.
    According to the US-based Medical Tourism Association, these are some representative overseas costs.
    *Heart bypass: $8,500 in India; in the U.S., $144,000
    *Liver transplant: $75,000 in Latin America; in the U.S., up to $315,000
    *Dental implant: $1,000 in Costa Rica; in the U.S., $2,000-$10,000
    *Face-lift: $4,000 in Singapore; in the U.S., $15,000
    *Knee replacement: $10,650 in Mexico; in the U.S., $50,000
    Some US insurance companies are initiating programs to send people overseas for medical procedures.


  13. Don Bacon says:

    I don’t disagree on the Mandatory Medical Insurance Bill, with its penalties for noncompliance, although the forecasted death of the medical insurance corporations is a stretch.
    This bill has other consequences, I have recently learned. from an IRS report:
    A provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)47, enacted in March of this year, added a new information reporting requirement that may present significant administrative challenges to taxpayers and the IRS. In particular, businesses will have to issue Forms 1099 for goods purchased after 2011, regardless of the corporate form of the vendor. The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate is concerned that the new reporting burden, particularly as it falls on small businesses, may turn out to be disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvement in tax compliance.
    The PPACA provision would apply to businesses of all sizes, charities and other tax-exempt organizations, and government entities. These would include, as reflected in IRS data, 26 million non-farm sole proprietorships, four million S corporations, two million C corporations, three million partnerships, two million farming businesses, one million charities and other tax-exempt organizations, and probably more than 100,000 federal, state, and local government entities.///
    . . .and it goes on to detail the problems inherent in getting Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN), and lacking those, Social Security Numbers (SSN) !!! from vendors. It’s a nightmare of bureaucratic over-reach that has nothing to do with medical care.


  14. nadine says:

    Fear not, Don Bacon, the mandate is just the opening act. First you put the mandate in place to make sure you control the health insurance business. Then you put the insurance companies out of business by demanding they cover more and more things “for free” while obeying lots of new regulations (like the regulated ratio between premiums and payments) and while having their rising premiums capped by politicians. When the insurers go bust, you declare “the free market has failed” and go for an American NHS single payer.
    Don’t believe it? The off-Broadway trial of Obamacare is running right now in Massachusetts. Read:
    ObamaCare’s Future Foretold
    Meanwhile firms are canceling their health insurance policies to dump their employees onto Medicaid, just as opponents said would happen, causing plan costs to skyrocket:
    Firms cancel health coverage
    With cost rising, small companies turning to state


  15. Don Bacon says:

    Oh come on. What is leftist about mandatory medical insurance, with penalties for not buying their lousy corporate products? What’s next, mandatory home and travel insurance? Do other corporations need a cash infusion, mandated by the government? It’s corporate welfare, pure and simple.


  16. nadine says:

    If the shoe fits, wear it.


  17. Don Bacon says:

    I suspect those were tea-partyers you saw wearing that shirt. Can you deny it?


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