if you MARRY! like your REPRODUCE! doctor you OBEY! can keep NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT! your doctor. SUBMIT! if you CONSUME! like your STAY ASLEEP! plan you can WATCH TV! keep it. BUY! period. NO IMAGINATION!

Politics & Current Events

According to Google, socialist realism is "the theory of art, literature, and music officially sanctioned by the state in some communist countries (esp. in the Soviet Union under Stalin), by which artistic work was supposed to reflect and promote the ideals of a socialist society."

Let's remove the term "socialist," and replace it with "government." Does the government have a theory of art, literature, and music officially sanctioned by the state, by which artistic work is supposed to reflect and promote the ideals of the party in power, and government in general?

Ask the Department of Health and Human Services, which awarded Erin McDodald a "Grand Prize" for her Youtube video, "Forget the Price Tag!" encouraging the poor, meaning young Americans, to buy overpriced insurance they probably don't need in order to subsidize the rich, meaning their parents and grandparents.

The lyrics read as follows:

Seems like everything's about to change, in the health care industry.
When coverage expands, and they can't reject you for conditions that are pre-existing!
You're young and wild and free, but you need to stay healthy!
There's no excuse to be uninsured. Just stop for a minute and think!

You're not immuned [sic] to all disease. Take advantage of this opportunity!
Keep your mind at ease and get some security!
Don't need a lot of money, money, money!
To stay young and healthy, healthy, healthy!
We just want to make it more fair, with affordable health care.
Ain't about the, UH!, cha-ching, cha-ching.
Ain't about the, YEAH!, bling, bla-bling.
Affordable Care Act, don't worry about the price tag!

I know we're in our prime, about time we open our eyes.
We got to invest to be the healthiest! You can't put a price on life.
Why is everyone so oblivious?
Living without health care is serious!
Can we all slow down? Take time now, guarantee we'll be feelin' all right!

You're not immuned [sic] to all disease. Take advantage of this opportunity!
Keep your mind at ease and get some security!
Don't need a lot of money, money, money!
To stay young and healthy, healthy, healthy!
We just want to make it more fair, with affordable health care.
Ain't about the, UH!, cha-ching, cha-ching.
Ain't about the, YEAH!, bling, bla-bling.
Affordable Care Act, don't worry about the price tag!

This is what literary critics refer to as, "bad poetry!"

But on a more practical level, the UH! cha-ching, cha-ching, and the YEAH! bling bla-bling! are exactly what most young people are worried about, at least if the ones asking me for a job are representative. They seem to be very much worried about the money, money, money! because of the students loans, student loans, student loans! And while they're not immuned [sic] to all disease, they do seem to be aware that no amount of money, money, money! will allow them to "stay young." They age as rapidly as I do, and they seem to want to be where I am when they hit the ripe old age of 46.

More's the pity.

In any event, on watching the Grand-Prize winning video by Ms. McDonald, I was struck by its message. Don't think of yourself, your family, or the family you'd like to have some day, if you can get out of your parents' house to afford such a thing. Think of the government! Think of the state! Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

Don't worry about the price tag! MARRY! REPRODUCE! OBEY!

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White

117 Comments

116 Comments

  1. Lizard  •  Dec 4, 2013 @2:59 pm

    Am I the only person who checked "Yes, absolutely" for every possible insurance option at my first "real" job (at 22)? I apparently missed out on "delusions of immortality" in my youth.

    I was rather disappointed that the "AD&D Insurance" I purchased did NOTHING when my F/MU failed a save vs. petrification, though. I should have read the fine print.

  2. Phil Smith  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:06 pm

    Golf clap, Lizard.

  3. Darryl  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:07 pm

    Ah, that dang Heritage Foundation plan for forcing people to buy health insurance!

    BTW, the way to get kids to stop worrying about student loans is to repeal the amendment to the bankruptcy laws that made those loans nondischargeable. Why should the nanny state protect people who made bad lending decisions?

  4. J.J. Sefton  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:10 pm

    I think the Horst Wessel song was much better, don't you?

  5. SimpleMachine  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:10 pm

    Obamacare, come for the propaganda, stay for the coercion.

    @Darryl
    Because indentured servitude is totally acceptable if it's for the benefit of the college establishment. They make goodthink.

  6. Patrick Non-White  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:11 pm

    the way to get kids to stop worrying about student loans is to repeal the amendment to the bankruptcy laws that made those loans nondischargeable. Why should the nanny state protect people who made bad lending decisions?

    Fully agreed, pal.

  7. HamOnRye  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:29 pm

    Bad philosophy could be a lot more tolerable if it was not accompanied by Bad Poetry.

  8. dtsund  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:42 pm

    "Affordable Care Act, don't worry about the price tag!"

    Man oh man, does that line ever sound as though it came from a piece of satire explicitly designed to mock the ACA.

  9. Jake  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:44 pm

    Repeal the Bankruptcy law? I absolutely agree. But don't pretend that it's the lenders who made a bad decision. They made the decision KNOWING the loans were federally insured. It's like my dad telling me to loan my brother a dollar for a candy bar… of course I'm gonna do it. I'll loan him a $20 if my dad promises to pay it back if my brother can't/won't…

  10. Dw  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:46 pm

    So what do you think of Smokey the Bear?

  11. Gromit  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:46 pm

    Jesus saves! All others including Lizard take 10d20 petrification damage.

  12. ChrisCM  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:46 pm

    The way to get kids to stop worrying about student loans is to stop giving so many of them student loans. The free lending policies of the government–operating on the ahistorical belief that a college education is the only path to prosperity–has created a glut of money among the university-bound which they can only spend on university. Students are made relatively wealthy in the market a college education. Universities try to become more attractive to the relatively wealthy college students by building bigger, nicer gyms and dining halls and the absence of a shortage of university bound dollars drives prices higher.
    The easiest way to make college affordable is to stop giving people money to pay for it.

  13. Sewer Urchin  •  Dec 4, 2013 @3:55 pm

    @Darryl
    BTW, the way to get kids to stop worrying about student loans is to repeal the amendment to the bankruptcy laws that made those loans nondischargeable. Why should the nanny state protect people who made bad lending decisions?

    I'll give even odds that Obama will direct the federal reserve to pay off all student loan debt within 90 days of the 2014 election. No changes to any existing laws or regulations – just a simple, $1T low-information voter bribe via executive order using more money we don't have.

    That would have sounded preposterous just a year or two ago. Now, not so much . . .

  14. spinetingler  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:03 pm

    Ah, the "social contract, what social contract?" Randians chime in!

  15. Ghost  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:05 pm

    on the bright side, we now know exactly how stupid they think we are.

  16. Patrick Non-White  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:09 pm

    Ah, the "social contract, what social contract?" Randians chime in!

    Admit it. You're defending her because you think she's hot.

    Hell, I think she's hot too. I just wish she didn't move her eyes around in that amphibian fashion quite so much. It would make it much easier to believe she's fully human, rather than a … you know.

  17. dtsund  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:11 pm

    Jesus saves! All others including Lizard take 10d20 petrification damage.

    Don't be ridiculous. Lizards are immune to petrification.

  18. Ken  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:19 pm

    ChrisCM gets an A in macroeconomics.

  19. SPQR  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:24 pm

    As the behavior of this administration gets closer and closer to The Onion, I just am completely losing the ability of speech.

  20. SPQR  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:26 pm

    Oh, and Patrick? Brilliant.

  21. ScoggDog  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:46 pm

    Ah, the "social contract, what social contract?" Randians chime in!

    BULL !!! That's the easy mental refuge when the discussion isn't going your way.

    If you want to grant all 18-22 year olds a free college education … do it within your individual State. It's certainly within the power of an individual State to do so. But it's not within the scope of the Federal.

    And then, if it's a good idea … my State will surely copy your lead. If it turns into a fiasco of Detriot level … my state will surely sigh and say "Thank God we didn't do that.".

  22. Marconi Darwin  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:49 pm

    the way to get kids to stop worrying about student loans is to repeal the amendment to the bankruptcy laws that made those loans nondischargeable. Why should the nanny state protect people who made bad lending decisions?

    Hmm, how does this affect the graduates of Trump University? Secondly, will Trump be eligible for a fourth bankruptcy if these savvy kids borrowing from clueless lenders do get away scot-free?

  23. Erik Anderson  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:52 pm

    The whole discussion around ObamaCare / ACA / whatever (in my mind) is a discussion on who is going to get an unfair deal and who is going to be able to take advantage of the system (because both points will happen). This is an important conversation with strong positions on both sides. The "award winning" video is an excerpt of that discussion.

    The individual insurer *should not care* about all this. The whole point of this discussion is to create a system where the only thing people should worry about is themselves. If they don't act in their own best interest then someone else will, and the only thing they'll have left is an award about some forgotten commercial.

    If the system requires everyone to choose to act in the best interests of the government, then the system is badly flawed.

  24. Jacob H  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:58 pm

    What did this girl win, anyway? I mean, even if there was some kind of award paid, it would probably be pretty small, but I'm curious anyway

  25. Patrick Non-White  •  Dec 4, 2013 @5:08 pm

    What did this girl win, anyway? I mean, even if there was some kind of award paid, it would probably be pretty small, but I'm curious anyway

    Because she is what the 40/50ish bureaucrats at DHHS who judge contests to create the best Obamacare video deem to be hot.

    Her song? Well…

  26. Jacob H  •  Dec 4, 2013 @5:25 pm

    Not why, Patrick – what. Money? Fame? Rohm Emmanuel's absent digit?

  27. Patrick Non-White  •  Dec 4, 2013 @5:27 pm

    Well, she won a parody video at a website nobody reads, based on an obscure 80s horror/action film.

    So she's got that going for her.

  28. Clark  •  Dec 4, 2013 @5:29 pm

    But, but … ungrateful little bastards, how dare they think that they have a choice. This is a free country after all.

  29. Jacob H  •  Dec 4, 2013 @5:30 pm

    OK, but no tangible prize? Not 5 years of free Obamacare or anything? I didn't mean the question to sound like a criticism of your post.

    What movie is that, anyway?

  30. Clark  •  Dec 4, 2013 @5:31 pm

    @ScoggDog

    If you want to grant all 18-22 year olds a free college education … do it within your individual State yourself.

    Whewww fixed …

  31. Clark  •  Dec 4, 2013 @5:34 pm

    @Marconi Darwin

    the way to get kids to stop worrying about student loans is to repeal the amendment to the bankruptcy laws that made those loans nondischargeable. Why should the nanny state protect people who made bad lending decisions?

    Hmm, how does this affect the graduates of Trump University? Secondly, will Trump be eligible for a fourth bankruptcy if these savvy kids borrowing from clueless lenders do get away scot-free?

    Hmmm … Caveat Emptor?

  32. ChrisCM  •  Dec 4, 2013 @5:39 pm

    I think she won $2000 and a "Stay Healthy" kit.
    EDIT: Click on "Prizes" once you get there. I'm not tubular enough to get it to link right to the prize page.

  33. Bob Brown  •  Dec 4, 2013 @5:42 pm

    The impoverished twenty-somethings should subsidize the health care of old guys with white beards, 401Ks, and money market funds. Y'know why? Because they voted for it, and called us names when we warned them.

  34. Bob Brown  •  Dec 4, 2013 @5:49 pm

    … and also… I went from kindergarten to Ph.D. without a student loan. (And without inherited money.) Along the way, there were two 30-year-old cars and meat loaf with enough textured soy protein that you could dribble it like a basketball, but no loans.

  35. ChrisCM  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:04 pm

    Bob,
    My uncle made a similar comment to me about student loans and other financial aid when I was getting ready to go to college–something along the lines of "I didn't take financial aid because I thought there were people who needed it more, so I worked to pay for school."
    I worked to pay for school, too, but my uncle went to the University of Texas when tuition there was about $200/semester. When I went, it was around $4000 for lib arts. I believe it's now over $5000. Even accounting for inflation, that's a big old difference. I'd love to see a return to the days when a student could pay tuition by working during the semester and in his summers, but we're not going to get back there if the federal gov't keeps throwing student loan dollars at the universities like bird seed.

  36. Andyjunction  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:05 pm

    I'm having a hard time feeling oppressed by this. But thanks for bringing it to my attention. Would never have heard about it otherwise. That makes it especially insidious somehow I'm sure.

  37. OBO  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:07 pm

    "The easiest way to make college affordable is to stop giving people money to pay for it." Halleluyah brother!

    Same deal for welfare, food stamps, etc. They always say the need is great and growing. Of course it is – the need for free stuff is bottemless. Cost is the only thing that controls "need".

    In fact welfare and food stamps depress real wages – people can live on less pay with food stamps and food banks, and don't need to save because of unemployment insurance and welfare, so companies are free to pay much less in salary.

  38. Bob Brown  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:10 pm

    @ChrisCM:
    I am just now finishing the Ph.D.* And at a private university. It's not impossible, it's just hard. One must decide what's important.

    *Unless something goes horribly wrong with my dissertation defense.

  39. spinetingler  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:16 pm

    I was talking about health care and the general welfare, but we can expand the discussion to education, if you'd like. We already do it for secondary education.

  40. Mike Adamson  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:17 pm

    I hope Jesse J gets her cut of the prize too.

  41. ChrisCM  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:27 pm

    Bob, I shouldn't have been so presumptuous! Congratulations and good luck on the PhD.
    It's my understanding that PhD programs tend to be much cheaper overall than other grad level programs because they come with stipends and teaching opportunities and so forth such that one might have to live like a poor student while one studies, but need not actually pay for the privilege to do so. This is an exception to the general rule that grad school is terribly expensive and, quite often, too demanding to allow for significant work to help cover costs. In your experience, is this accurate?

  42. Matt  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:33 pm

    I'll give even odds that Obama will direct the federal reserve to pay off all student loan debt within 90 days of the 2014 election. No changes to any existing laws or regulations – just a simple, $1T low-information voter bribe via executive order using more money we don't have.

    Sadly, I would have to love this, as I watch my money drip away every month to barely make a dent in my wife's student loans.

  43. Bob Brown  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:37 pm

    @ChrisCM:
    That's true at many institutions; young whippersnappers do indentured service while earning the Ph.D. but do not pay tuition and get a stipend that pays for the ramen noodles. In my case, I wrote checks for the full load while also working full time. And no, I'm not in a high-paying executive job. I'm not poor, but I earn less than the median income for the Atlanta SMSA. One really can go to school without depending on the nanny state. (It's a good thing chicken is cheap!)

  44. glasnost  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:40 pm

    "The easiest way to make college affordable is to stop giving people money to pay for it." Halleluyah brother!

    Same deal for welfare, food stamps, etc. They always say the need is great and growing. Of course it is – the need for free stuff is bottemless. Cost is the only thing that controls "need".

    In fact welfare and food stamps depress real wages – people can live on less pay with food stamps and food banks, and don't need to save because of unemployment insurance and welfare, so companies are free to pay much less in salary.

  45. Bob Brown  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:42 pm

    More @ChrisCm:
    Being in a Ph.D. program is like being all seven dwarves. You start out Dopey and Bashful. Then you work so hard that you're tired all the time and game for any errant germ, so you're Sleepy and Sneezy. That makes you Grumpy. But if you keep your nose to the grindstone, eventually they call you Doc, and you're Happy.

  46. glasnost  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:50 pm

    "The easiest way to make college affordable is to stop giving people money to pay for it." Halleluyah brother!

    A good word to describe this is superstitious nonsense. For a real-world example, please refer to the continent of Africa, where the population is given neither money nor credit to facilitate going to college, and as a result, they don't go to college.

    It may be true that the availability of subsidies has raised the cost of college. This does not mean that terminating the subsidies will thus lower the cost of college. Sorry. Doesn't work that way. You might get falling enrollment and even a shrinking number of academic institutions. But you won't get cheaper colleges.

    One might also contemplate the fact that the "subsidies" are mostly loans, which are also offered by organizations that *aren't* the government. Perhaps you have a plan to force the private sector to stop giving people money to pay for college.

    Even if you did, outside of the bubble kingdom in your head, nations that don't give their kids money for education get less kid education than nations that do give it. Also, shooting people in the face is not a clever way to reduce gun violence.

  47. glasnost  •  Dec 4, 2013 @6:54 pm

    Also, it's kind of sad that everything Patrick sees reminds him of the liberal mismanagement boogeyman in his head, but Obamacare is revenue-neutral. Also, the national debt is denominated in dollars, of which we have a supply equal to infinity. While we're at it, by enrolling in Obamacare and not worrying about the price tag, young people protect themselves from catastrophic expenses. It's the fiscally responsible act for them, and for the nation as a whole.

    So the entire post is more or less bullshit. Other than that, yeah man, I feel you.

  48. Bob Brown  •  Dec 4, 2013 @7:01 pm

    This has nothing to do with the topic at hand, so please forgive me. It has everything to do with being able to do things because you're tough.

    Graduate degrees, and the Ph.D. in particular, have time limits. If you don't finish within the limit, you're out!

    A coupl'a years ago my dissertation director applied a boot to the back of my trousers and demanded deliverables this week! That was Easter weekend. I told my friends I couldn't come to dinner. They came to my house bringing a roasting hen and all the trimmings, cooked dinner in my kitchen (while I worked), fed me dinner at my own table, and cleaned up while I worked some more.

    You do have to be tough, but you have to have good support, too. I am one lucky sum'bitch!

  49. Patrick Non-White  •  Dec 4, 2013 @7:03 pm

    "Also, the national debt is denominated in dollars, of which we have a supply equal to infinity."

    Indeed. Talk to Weimar Germany about how their infinite supply of marks turned out.

  50. spinetingler  •  Dec 4, 2013 @7:04 pm

    "A coupl’a years ago my dissertation director applied a boot to the back of my trousers and demanded deliverables this week! That was Easter weekend. I told my friends I couldn’t come to dinner. They came to my house bringing a roasting hen and all the trimmings, cooked dinner in my kitchen (while I worked), fed me dinner at my own table, and cleaned up while I worked some more."

    Harumph. Sounds like socializms.

  51. Bob Brown  •  Dec 4, 2013 @7:06 pm

    Harumph. Sounds like socializms.

    Nope, friendship. Of which there is all too little in the world. I really am one lucky sum'bitch.

  52. ChrisCM  •  Dec 4, 2013 @7:20 pm

    @Glasnost:

    "A good word to describe this is superstitious nonsense. For a real-world example, please refer to the continent of Africa, where the population is given neither money nor credit to facilitate going to college, and as a result, they don't go to college."

    See also, the moon, where they don't subsidise food, and as a result, there's no food! And just look at the bottom of the ocean, where they don't subsidise breathable air, so there's no breathable air!

    "You might get falling enrollment and even a shrinking number of academic institutions. But you won't get cheaper colleges."

    Colleges, seeing their customer base shrink in response to a shrinking supply of tuition dollars, will refuse to take the one sensible action to attract more students! Maybe?

    I have no objection to private loans for college, I'd just prefer if they were made in a free market in which the lender cautiously valued the student and his academic path and issued credit based on the value and risk thereof. Right now, the risk is close to zero because of gov't involvement, so regardless of your barely passing high school grades and desire to study theatre, you can get the same credit as would an A student going into a STEM program. That's silly.

  53. db  •  Dec 4, 2013 @7:21 pm

    @Glasnost
    Good point. I'm sure no one considered that Africa, a continentin every other respect very similar to the US, doesn't send many people to college precisely because it isn't subsidized.

    Also, clearly anarchy doesn't work because Somalia was still poor without a government. And for no other structural reasons I can think of.

  54. Roddy  •  Dec 4, 2013 @7:49 pm

    I spat decaffeinated coffee on seeing Patrick's video.

    Bravo!!

  55. J@m3z Aitch  •  Dec 4, 2013 @7:54 pm

    Personally, I think that video compellingly showed the importance of health insurance, because watching it made my head explode, and then where would I have been without health insurance?

  56. SPQR  •  Dec 4, 2013 @8:10 pm

    To be serious for a couple of seconds – all I can manage tonight – the main problem with the glut of student loan funds is that the college system has sucked up the extra dollars and now hoover up the bulk of the gain in earning power.

    To the sole benefit of college administrators. Who frankly add no value to any part of the universe at all.

  57. UWP  •  Dec 4, 2013 @8:18 pm

    I like how she becomes her own backup singer at about 1:20. Yeah, she just opened her laptop in her apparently cavernous sounding room, and belted that one out.

    Everything about these commies is fake.

  58. Bill Chunko  •  Dec 4, 2013 @8:27 pm

    I agree with Mike Adamson.

    I wonder if the Department of Health and Human services is aware that their prize winning video is a complete rip off of Jessie J's Price tag? Seen here;
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMxX-QOV9tI

    Disclaimer; I would have never been aware of this song if an instructor for a spinning class at the gym hadn't used it in one of her classes. But it does have a catchy tune. Check out the "Cha- Ching Cha Ching, Bla-Bling Bla -Bling!

  59. Clark  •  Dec 4, 2013 @8:55 pm

    @glasnost

    A good word to describe this is superstitious nonsense. For a real-world example, please refer to the continent of Africa, where the population is given neither money nor credit to facilitate going to college, and as a result, they don't go to college.

    Really, really???!!!?? This is your example? You must not be native to this country.

    One might also contemplate the fact that the "subsidies" are mostly loans, which are also offered by organizations that *aren't* the government.

    Yup, not from here. Please if you have comments about this place please understand that it is not where you are from and at least try to understand how it works here.

  60. Clark  •  Dec 4, 2013 @9:02 pm

    @Bill Chunko

    Wow, total rip off. I guess I shouldn't really be surprised.

  61. El-D  •  Dec 4, 2013 @9:25 pm

    I'll give even odds that Obama will direct the federal reserve to pay off all student loan debt within 90 days of the 2014 election.

    Really? Even odds? OK, what are you willing to wager?

  62. Deathpony  •  Dec 4, 2013 @10:03 pm

    Is it wrong to be repulsed by the video and it's faintly North Korean overtones, and yet find her…kind of hot?

  63. Duvane  •  Dec 4, 2013 @10:36 pm

    Let's trim our hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle!

  64. Bastardo Viejo  •  Dec 4, 2013 @10:42 pm

    "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I'm all out of bubblegum."

  65. I was Anonymous  •  Dec 4, 2013 @10:53 pm

    @Darryl:

    Why should the nanny state protect people who made bad lending decisions?

    Because those people who made bad lending decisions also used large amounts of money when buyingmaking campaign contributions to politicians.

  66. I was Anonymous  •  Dec 4, 2013 @11:01 pm

    @SPQR:

    To the sole benefit of college administrators.

    And football coaches. Never forget the football coaches.

  67. Marconi Darwin  •  Dec 4, 2013 @11:21 pm

    @Clark

    Hmmm … Caveat Emptor?

    Wait, do I buy this from the fake Clark?

  68. Christopher  •  Dec 4, 2013 @11:44 pm

    No changes to any existing laws or regulations – just a simple, $1T low-information voter bribe via executive order using more money we don't have.

    So, about what Bush spent on Iraq?

    Only it will tangibly help people and not result in any children being splattered in their parents' blood?

    Every time a politician wastes money on something that is vaguely helpful and doesn't kill people I call it a win.

    Also, I've had pre-existing conditions since high-school so, uh, health care has always been really fucking expensive. I mean, cost is a serious concern, but the "Don't Get Sick" plan was never an option for me, so it's really hard for me to see this as a backwards move.

  69. grouch  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:29 am

    Abolish the Wealth Care system.

    We're paying for far too many paper shufflers, claims deniers, insurance lawyers, executive retreats, jets and condos, on top of paying for every doctor and hospital visit by every individual.

    Obamacare is more corporate welfare. It makes permanent the giant, parasitic layer of "insurance" companies that stand between those who need health care and those who provide it.

    Socialized medicine makes no more sense than socialized defense. Let only those citizens who can afford their own armies and their own hospitals survive. National taxes should be used for national interests, such as making sure that Disney has sufficient profits to continue to be incentivized to grace us with its products.

  70. Doctor X  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:13 am

    "minnesota state law on slapping a 16 year old: Have a glass of wine and take a walk first.

    does a bullet leave the registered owners encription: No, seriously. WINE AND WALK. It's your kid for God's sake."

    Awesome.

    –J.D.

  71. Kevin Lyda  •  Dec 5, 2013 @2:43 am

    I'll give even odds that Obama will direct the federal reserve to pay off all student loan debt within 90 days of the 2014 election. No changes to any existing laws or regulations – just a simple, $1T low-information voter bribe via executive order using more money we don't have.

    That would have sounded preposterous just a year or two ago. Now, not so much . . .

    I have $100 that says that doesn't happen. Heck, let's lower the forgiveness amount to $100 billion (and obviously you still win if it's higher). And I'll even give 100 to 1 odds – you can match my $100 with a dollar.

    Will any conservative here step up to put some money behind their blatherings? First one to reply here gets the wager.

  72. glasnost  •  Dec 5, 2013 @4:44 am

    Colleges, seeing their customer base shrink in response to a shrinking supply of tuition dollars, will refuse to take the one sensible action to attract more students! Maybe?

    Why attract more students when a shrinking number of students allows you to cut costs? How many more students do you have to attract to make up for the reduced tuition costs of your supposed price cuts, which we're presuming are large, right, because college is supposed to become more affordable, right? Also, because the cost is confused with the quality signal, cutting cost changes your brand. Making you a "cheap" option forces you to compete with community colleges that were already a cheap option and who are good at it. Also, your costs aren't flexible.

    Nope, probably a better idea to stick with your current tuitition and gamble that you keep getting students. And if you fall short, you might even raise it, or you might cut some costs. But not lower it.

    Welcome to sticky prices. This is not a f*cking philosophy seminar. Subsidy availability has already risen and fallen with the Republican winds in this country. Tuition prices are not responsive.

    Now, I'm not swearing on a blood oath that there are no circumstances in which tuition prices can fall. What I am saying, with no hesitation whatsoever, is that you will not see growing enrollment on the back of the end of subsidies.

    It would be great if the economy was a dollhouse or an MS Word document and because X makes more of Y, less of X makes less of Y, or CTRL-Y undid your previous change nice and surgically, but this is cross-eyed badger spit.

    Go find me an example of tuition prices falling in the real world, in a rich country, outside of government fiat. Ever. Anywhere. I'll wait. Maybe I'll learn something.

    http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1988/10/12/paying-the-piper-why-tuition-is/

    http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/price_stickiness.asp

  73. glasnost  •  Dec 5, 2013 @5:08 am

    Indeed. Talk to Weimar Germany about how their infinite supply of marks turned out.

    This is one of my favorite subjects! I'm so happy! No, seriously. Most of what you think you know about this subject is wrong. Hyperinflation in Weimar Germany was a response to negative real supply shocks. See here:

    http://pragcap.com/hyperinflation-its-more-than-just-a-monetary-phenomenon

    This isn't my favorite discussion of the deal, but it will do.

    A quick review of the modern economic cases of hyperinflation show striking similarities. Most notably, they involved war (the losing end of a war), regime change or foreign denominated debt. All resulted in catastrophic hyperinflations.

    All of these are examples of negative real supply shocks. Germans consumed quantity X of goods at time T, but now a massive chunk of X is absolutely gone – removed from the hands of its citizens and fed to France and Britain as exports to earn gold to pay truly enormous reparations, or foreign-denominated debt.

    Hyperinflation is the response to the massive shortage of available goods, combined with a central bank policy of monetary accomodation in response to this event. Printing money to pay debt denominated in your own currency can not, and never has, created a similar phoenomenon. There is no negative supply shock, nor is there a path for same.

    http://fictionalbarking.blogspot.com/2012/10/hyperinflation-in-weimar-germany-new_18.html

    After WWI, Germany was off the gold standard and on a floating exchange rate vis-à-vis other currencies such as the gold-pegged U.S. dollar. The Treaty of Versaille imposed heavy penalty on Germany relative to the size of its economy; by some estimates, reparations represented 20 times the total average German coal yearly output before the War, or nearly four times the average value of U.S., English or German annual exports before the war.

    I spent quite a bit of time on this reply, so I'm looking forward to no one ever reading this link because I'm in a comment forum on the internet, what am I doing with my life.

    The very tendency to approach equilibrium in the current account through a decrease in the exchange rate was undermined by the ever-increasing nominal value of reparations denominated in German marks, which was itself caused by the decrease in exchange rate. In all likelihood, a country caught in this kind of cycle will eventually face a vicious inflation spiral unless it can afford politically to impose new taxes on its population in order to “confiscate” domestic consumption to pay for reparations. [ii]

    Therefore, based on this analysis, the root cause of hyperinflation in Weimar Germany are to be found in the conditions as set out in the Treaty of Versailles regarding reparations. Seen from a flow of funds perspective, the “German View” is therefore fully consistent with the existence of significant imbalance in both the current account and the fiscal situation.

  74. OrderoftheQuaff  •  Dec 5, 2013 @5:13 am

    The term you're looking for is "Judas goat".

  75. glasnost  •  Dec 5, 2013 @5:15 am

    It's probably a great post about Stalinist humor and an idiotic music video, or whatever, but all I see are the concepts and assumptions in the background. I'm a humorless zealot like that.

  76. the other rob  •  Dec 5, 2013 @7:04 am

    Those lyrics bring to mind a remark that the great Tom Baker made, while recording the voice-over for a commercial.

    To wit: "Are you sure this wasn't translated from the fscking Albanian?"

  77. Votre  •  Dec 5, 2013 @7:42 am

    Sinclair Lewis said it best in his novel It Can't Happen Here.

    "It sounded almost reasonable, for a while."

  78. JWH  •  Dec 5, 2013 @7:50 am

    This reminds me of a FEMA safety rap I saw during the Bush years. It ended with "Get out there and mitigate."

  79. Grandy  •  Dec 5, 2013 @8:07 am

    Keeping the "cha ching/bling" part from the chorus intact, given the nature of the original song, is really weird. I mean, weird for this actual thing. OTOH, replacing that sort of poetry is hard yo.

    @Jacob H

    What movie is that, anyway?

    That Patrick used?

    That is one of the all-time great B-movies, and John Carpenter doing what John Carpenter does best back when he was in his prime: They Live.

    It features:
    - Lots of Carpenter regulars (no Kurt Russell though)
    - A pro wrestler in the lead ("Rowdy" Roddy Piper), who is probably one of only two people who could have pulled it off (Russell could have done it).
    - Keith fucking David
    - an amazing wrestling match that happens in a back alley.
    - A shockingly clever piece of social commentary
    - The girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes herself, Meg Foster
    - Keith fucking David
    - Some absolutely classic one liners.

    I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who enjoys (1) Carpenter (2) Social commentary done this way (3) B-Movies (4) Pro Wrestling (5) Keith Mother Fucking David.

  80. timb  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:16 am

    "meaning young Americans, to buy overpriced insurance they probably don't need.."

    Stupidest thing written on the internet today. Everyone who is not a gazillionaire needs health insurance. Good thing Patrick has a day job, because understanding how insurance risk pools operate is apparently too confusing for him.

  81. Kirk Taylor  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:33 am

    They Live is truly a classic!

  82. Kevin M.  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:34 am

    Everyone who is not a gazillionaire needs health insurance.

    Indeed everyone needs health insurance (and particularly if you have dependents, some form of life insurance). The question is, does everyone need prepaid health care, which is basically all that is really available in the marketplace. (well prepaid after your co-pays/deductible)?

  83. Kirk Taylor  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:34 am

    Not recognizing the movie gets you an 'F' in life!

  84. Patrick Non-White  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:35 am

    Timb,

    Kindly explain how insurance risk pools work to me, with an eye toward utility of risk minimization in light of premium cost for the individual consumer taking age and health into account, in a legal environment where coverage for preexisting conditions cannot be excluded, and insurers must provide coverage to any applicant, on demand.

    You may assume that I know nothing about how insurance works. Please assume, in providing your explanation, that I am not an attorney who has worked for insurance companies for almost 20 years.

    I may, however, have followup questions after you provide your explanation.

  85. Clark  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:45 am

    @timb

    understanding how insurance risk pools operate is apparently too onfusing for [ Patrick ]

    LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I note that the last time Patrick and I got together for dinner and beers the conversation included an hour of Patrick telling war stories about litigation around insurance risk pools.

  86. TJIC  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:47 am

    This is the best foot-in-mouth since some undergraduate stopped by David Friedman's blog and told him that a law professor had no business talking about the physics behind global warming, which he was clearly hopelessly ignorant of.

    David calmly replied that, yes, he was a law professor, but he had no law degree.

    …his degree, as it turns out, was a PhD in physics.

    EPIC.

  87. Mimi  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:32 am

    Please explain why post menopausal women need contraceptives coverage. Why 60 year old gay men need maternity coverage. Why middle aged and older people who never had children need coverage for dental and eyeglass exams for their non existent children. Why-You get the idea. The ACA is forcing people to pay for coverage for things they don't need, and for people who make too much money to get subsidized, while not being so rich as to afford a huge deductible and possibly quadrupling monthly payments….

  88. jaydubya  •  Dec 5, 2013 @10:54 am

    @timb – note how Patrick cleverly introduced the word "probably" to demonstrate his mastery of the concept of "risk".

    @Patrick – LOL – I would pay to watch you take him down.

  89. LadyTL  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:25 am

    As someone who is not going to buy insurance until the tax penalties get too high, my reasons are thus: First as someone who makes just barely enough to not get medicaid, I can't afford insurance even with the subsidies. And two, even if I did find the money somewhere to buy the insurance, I still can't afford to USE the insurance either. The low end plans still have you paying out of pocket for most things and no matter what I'm screwed in an emergency anyway. This nonsense isn't even going to make sure I get reliably decent medical care either so no incentive there. as well.

    So oh well for the risk pools and the like. Maybe they should do something about medical costs and quality if they want more people to sign up.

  90. stakkalee  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:39 am

    I'm seconding Grandy's recommendation of They Live – anyone who hasn't seen it needs to rush out immediately, ignoring all traffic laws, and find a copy posthaste. It's a classic of 80s paranoia sci-fi, self-serious at times, tongue-in-cheek when necessary. Incidentally Grandy, are you a gamer? Have you played the recently released Saints Row 4? No spoilers, but if you're a gamer and a fan of They Live you definitely need to play this game.

  91. ChicagoTom  •  Dec 5, 2013 @12:50 pm

    And two, even if I did find the money somewhere to buy the insurance, I still can't afford to USE the insurance either. The low end plans still have you paying out of pocket for most things and no matter what I'm screwed in an emergency anyway. This nonsense isn't even going to make sure I get reliably decent medical care either so no incentive there. as well.

    Have you looked into the other subsidies — the cost sharing subsidies that are included as part of the ACA ? If you truly are just above medicaid level income, than you probably also qualify for cost sharing subsidies which lower your out of pocket expenses. Cost-sharing subsidies improve the actuarial value of the plan for people with incomes below 250 percent of the poverty line ($28,725 for a single) — ranging from slight increases to 73 percent all the way up to 94 percent, which is the equivalent of a platinum plan.

  92. Ranulf  •  Dec 5, 2013 @1:49 pm

    Glasnost: "Welcome to sticky prices. This is not a f*cking philosophy seminar. Subsidy availability has already risen and fallen with the Republican winds in this country. Tuition prices are not responsive."

    Welcome to supply and demand, where demand for the education industry has been pumped up due to 70 years or so of pro college propaganda aka the GI Bill.

    You simply must go to college to get ahead in life doncha know. And these days the Fed Gov makes money off of selling those sallie mae loans to bill collectors all while making bankruptcy illegal. Perhaps some peristroika would benefit the students more than gov subsidies.

  93. Darryl  •  Dec 5, 2013 @3:39 pm

    "Please assume, in providing your explanation, that I am not an attorney who has worked for insurance companies for almost 20 years."

    NOW I understand Patrick's avatar.

  94. Nick  •  Dec 5, 2013 @3:44 pm

    I feel like the shorter original version of this post reads: FYIGM.

  95. Ken White  •  Dec 5, 2013 @3:56 pm

    @Nick: I liked the original version of your comment better when it just said OBEY THE STATE, THOUGHTCRIMINAL.

    Wow, you're right. That is fun! Let's do one of Clark's posts next.

  96. Steven H.  •  Dec 5, 2013 @4:10 pm

    @ChicagoTom:

    Have you looked into the other subsidies — the cost sharing subsidies that are included as part of the ACA ?

    Those cost sharing subsidies only apply on Silver+ plans.
    Which means she would have to pay more up front to get them. This isn't a meaningful factor if she reasonably expects to use the healthcare system a lot, but just raises her out-of-pocket if she seldom has need for such things.

  97. Shane  •  Dec 5, 2013 @5:01 pm

    @Marconi Darwin

    LOL!!! Had.

    Forgot to change it back from the costume contest :P

  98. David  •  Dec 5, 2013 @5:08 pm
    Good thing Patrick has a day job, because understanding how insurance risk pools operate is apparently too confusing for him.

    Timb, Kindly explain how insurance risk pools work to me…. Please assume, in providing your explanation, that I am not an attorney who has worked for insurance companies for almost 20 years.

  99. LadyTL  •  Dec 5, 2013 @7:17 pm

    @ChicagoTom: Sure I looked into them but you seemed to have conveniently missed the First reason I'm not signing up for insurance. I as a minimum wage worker, in a state without expanded medicaid, cannot afford even subsidized insurance premiums (which I don't qualify for anyway since I only make 87% of the poverty level). My expenses leave me with absolutely no savings now. Unless the ACA is going to magic money up for me just to pay each month for expensive insurance and then magic more up for me to use it, I just don't have the money at all to buy this insurance. I doubt I'm the only one in this position either given I'm excluded from subsidies on a minimum wage job.

  100. glasnost  •  Dec 5, 2013 @7:29 pm

    I as a minimum wage worker, in a state without expanded medicaid,

    .

    This is the problem. The bill, as passed, did not leave states the option of not expanding Medicaid. Everyone at your income level was written to qualify for subsidies. When the Supreme Court ripped a donut hole into the law, giving your Republican governor a chance to screw you, he took it.

    Although it seems very odd that you don't qualify for medicaid while making less than 100% of the poverty line, and I understood Medicaid as having almost no cost sharing whatever. I'm not doubting it, though – the more libertarian states have employed their freedom to mess with Medicaid qualifications extensively.

  101. Shane  •  Dec 5, 2013 @8:33 pm

    @David

    I even heard the sound, that was awesome.

  102. Allen  •  Dec 5, 2013 @8:52 pm

    @LadyTl

    Yes, I understand your problem. I have researched the exact same thing for my sister-in-law who appears to be in the same boat as you.

    "I can't afford the premium, even with the subsidy, and the penalty is just as bad."

  103. LadyTL  •  Dec 5, 2013 @9:40 pm

    @glasnost: Actually I'm in Missouri. My governor is a Democrat. It was the state senate that voted to not expand medicaid. I probably though don't qualify for subsidies since I have no dependents or something. From the calculator that the healthcare.gov site sends you to "Because your income is equal to 87% of the poverty level, you will not be eligible for tax credits in the exchanges. Tax credits are only available to people who make between 100% and 400% of the poverty level. "

    Also in Missouri, you don't get on Medicaid unless you have kids, are pregnant or are disabled.

  104. David  •  Dec 6, 2013 @8:53 am

    @Shane If I had a sound effects player (with programmable buttons) to carry around in everyday life, that voiceover would be queued up for surreptitious use at suitable moments. And I'd try to hang out with Patrick more.

  105. Grandy  •  Dec 6, 2013 @10:37 am

    @Stakkalee

    Incidentally Grandy, are you a gamer? Have you played the recently released Saints Row 4? No spoilers, but if you're a gamer and a fan of They Live you definitely need to play this game.

    Most of the authors are gamers, with time being the limiting factor. I probably game the most out of all of us.

    Saints Row IV is in strong consideration for my Game of the Year. I am not one of the people who thought III was inferior to II (I recognize it did some things differently and II was stronger in some places, but III was stronger in others). I have loved the franchise with 2. It's the only game where I'm not super angry when a cutscene appears (still, they shouldn't push it too much on that front).

  106. Cat G.  •  Dec 6, 2013 @11:58 pm

    Hmm. And this is why Insurance is not the answer to the question "How do we make it easier for all people to get at least minimal healthcare?"

    That is the sum of my rant at this time. Whether you think people should be left bleeding in the streets if they can't pay, or you think they should be given a penthouse recovery room, you should have the intellectual honesty to realize that mandating "insurance" is not the answer. Even with great insurance and okay income, you will still find yourself in debt AND pain if you have a significant injury or illness.

  107. MBI  •  Dec 8, 2013 @3:25 pm

    I really wish the critics of Obamacare could make reasonable criticisms without the nihilist libertarianism and attendant callousness towards the people suffering and dying from lack of affordable healthcare.

  108. Patrick Non-White  •  Dec 8, 2013 @6:24 pm

    MBI:

    Kindly point to one instance of "nihilist libertarianism" (whatever the fuck that means) or its "attendant callousness" toward suffering in the post above.

    You can't do it, because you won't find it. WHAT IS THE POINT OF YOU?

  109. SPQR  •  Dec 8, 2013 @8:00 pm

    MBI: I wish that supporters of Obamacare could make reasonable defense of the law that were not merely ridiculous strawmen arguments and made-up "anecdotes".

  110. Darryl  •  Dec 10, 2013 @3:51 pm

    SPQR–I'll bite:

    Requiring someone to carry minimum coverage is (according to the Roberts Court) constitutional. It also provides a large pool of lives for the insurance companies, thus allowing them to spread the risk and lower premiums, all while providing better coverage even within the medical loss ratios required by the ACA. AND, by eliminating pre-existing conditions as an underwriting criterion, many people who were left out of coverage before can now obtain it and get medical attention.

  111. tarran  •  Dec 11, 2013 @12:34 pm

    Darryl,

    Thanks for attempting a cogent defense of the law. Sadly, much of what you argue is wrong.

    1) Insurance not covering preconditions did not keep people from getting treatment. First, charity hospitals did treat people who couldn't pay, as did any ER under the Reagan era federal law. Additionally, people did arrange for financial payment plans with treatment providers when they didn't have insurance.

    2) The law hurts access to medical care: the number of doctors that insurance companies have agreed to contract is much smaller after the law went in force than it was when the law went into force. There will be some serious rationing by queue thanks to the law.

    3) The wider pool of customers will not allow insurance companies to cover more people cheaply. The reason being that the law creates an incentive for the new customers to increase their consumption of medical services and denies the insurance companies any means of cost containment other than rationing by queue. In fact, because insurance companies are punished for keeping costs down (and thus their profits above an arbitrary percentage), the insurance companies will encourage these additional expenses to allow their administrative overhead to remain a low enough percentage of their expenses to not trigger the rebate requirement. The result is that all the companies will be lobbying for higher premiums on the young invincibles and encouraging overconsumption of routine services in order to maintain a nice bottom line.

    On several instances I have encountered supporters who cite the fact that someone at the Heritage Foundation proposed a mandated purchase of health insurance as proof that the law was a good idea that should get wider Republican support (the argument is typically one that buttresses this weird claim that those who despise Obama's policies are motivated primarily by racism). I am beginning to suspect that whoever that someone was had engaged in a brilliant scheme to give smallpox-infected blankets to the progressive movement; for the first time, a progressive welfare scheme is blatantly ripping off the middle class without any attempt to hide the additional costs it will impose. I think the progressives may have as thoroughly discredited themselves as they did in the 60's-70's.

  112. SPQR  •  Dec 11, 2013 @1:51 pm

    Darryl, well all except for the fact that PPACA is actually not accomplishing any of those things. Premiums are going up, not being lowered. Etc.

    But to pick a nit, you don't actually understand the decision on the individual mandate. You wrote: "Requiring someone to carry minimum coverage is (according to the Roberts Court) constitutional. "

    And actually, Roberts said specifically that that was not constitutional. What Roberts decided was that it was constitutional for Congress to tax people who did not have 'minimum coverage' more than those that did but Congress could not set that tax so high that it was punishment for failure to meet the requirement to carry such insurance.

  113. Darryl  •  Dec 12, 2013 @12:30 pm

    @tarran–You are simply incorrect. You are assuming heath insurer profits come merely from premiums. They do not. All this does is make them be better with their investments of their reserves. And the premiums will be coming down based on competition. That was the whole idea behind the Heritage Foundation idea-competition would lower prices for the same product.

    @SPQR–Not quite right, either. The "have coverage or pay" provision "may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness." Therefore, it is not a tax, but may be reasonably characterized as one.

  114. tarran  •  Dec 12, 2013 @1:34 pm

    All this does is make them be better with their investments of their reserves.

    This is risible.

    Insurance companies have all the incentives in place to be careful with their investments. THEY WANT TO MAKE MONEY! Prudent investing maximizes that.

    Nor can I ever recall any the politicians advocating for that law using that argument as justification. They always have painted it as a way to prevent insurance companies from ripping off those they insured by forcing rebates of 'excess premiums'.

    It's possible that the Obama admin apparatchniks were lying to the American public when they cited excess premiums when they meant it as a stick to encourage better investing. Certainly they have lied so frequently, flagrantly and thoroughly that it wouldn't be a stunning turnabout from their normal way of relating to the public.

    However, given the fact that I have never before encountered that argument in all my readings on the law, pro or con, I think it's probably one of those desperate talking points they are throwing out, much like a swordsman's weak, final, desperate slash after he has suffered a mortal wound and is collapsing toward the ground gouting blood.

  115. David C  •  Dec 12, 2013 @4:21 pm

    And the premiums will be coming down based on competition. That was the whole idea behind the Heritage Foundation idea-competition would lower prices for the same product.

    But doesn't that get the economics backwards? You're trying to trigger an increase in supply by mandating an increase in demand. Maybe the supply will rise, but the supply CURVE will not change, and that means a price increase. (The alternative is that the supply will NOT change to meet the demand, leading to shortages instead of price increases.) And it's not like there are currently only two insurance companies, or 80% of Americans are uninsured, or something. Exactly how much competition do you expect a 15% increase in the number of insured Americans to spawn?

    All this does is make them be better with their investments of their reserves.

    As in, they HAVE to be better with their reserves or the company goes under? How does THAT increase competition?

    And as Tarran says, why would they not currently be doing everything they can in that department? They don't like profits?

  116. Darryl  •  Dec 17, 2013 @2:44 pm

    The simple fact is that there are a lot of insurance companies who agreed to this because of one simple fact: the number of lives available to them, and therefore the premium income available to them, greatly outweighed the calculation they made of what the additional mandates would cost. They also agreed to the 75/80 loss ratio limit because they knew they could make money with their reserves, not just on the premium income. Does anyone really think that if there was any real objection to this from the insurance industry that it would have passed? Now THAT would be risible.

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