132 thoughts on “44”

  1. Narcissism, self-pity and depression are a nasty combination…no economy can protect us from it.

  2. There is a lot of stress out there right now. A man killed his family just yesterday. Of course he has a choice and control but in his mind (in the state that it was) his decision was “correct”. But most of us will not kill our families and then suicide. But vices always do well in an economic downturn – sex, drugs, and gambling. And these are not good choices either – really. We can express ourselves differently and choose differently (obviously millions of people have been doing so for thousands of years) But like you, I’m not sure I understand what compells us to throw our hands up and make choices that seem extreme to the norm.

  3. Thirty years ago, wasn’t the Japanese economy the envy of the West?
    I recall managers praising Japanese corporations and mimicking them in training American workers.
    Do individuals have a choice about their behavior during a recession?
    This isn’t about SSA, but it is about the same argument: how much control do we have over our lives and how much is determined by factors outside our control?
    Old psychological theory of internal vs. external locus of control.

  4. Evan
    That’s so sad. A nation’s wealth comes from it’s productive capacity. Most politicians aren’t smart enough to realize this. Rubles, Pesos, Dollars have no intrinsic value. It’s the goods and services the nation produces for itself and other nations that have the value.

    Japan is a particularly sad case. Their economy has been in the toilet for nearly 20 years because of bad government policy. And now as the world heads into another depression they will fall even further.

  5. Eddy

    Now, you’re behind that pool of thousands of job-seekers. It sucks. It really sucks.

    I think this is particularly true for older workers. When a guy hits 50 and he’s unemployed he’s got a tough road in front of him. Companies want to hire 20 year olds with 20 years experience for $20,000 per year.

  6. Britain is drowning under a mountain of debt just like the USA. Fortunately for the Limeys their government has found the perfect sollution. Work less!
    Britain is facing return of three-day week

    If you had a friend drowning in debt what would you tell him to do?
    A) Use his extra money to pay off debt
    B) He should work harder, longer or smarter and find a way to earn more money
    C) Earn more money AND pay off debt
    D) Work less

    The British are strongly considering D.
    Work less to get out of debt? Only a high government offical could devise a plan so cunning. Bwahahaha!

  7. As I type in the background…on the news…
    “More and more we realize how important it is to look your best in this highly competitive job-market.” Unemployed people spending up to $300 for little tucks, removals, injections, make-overs. I recall hearing a similar toned story over the weekend.
    Target Headquarters, a few blocks from where I work, laid off 1,000 employees today. Our Ford Plant closing. Best Buy layoffs. I spoke with a ‘dislocated’ friend who sensed his layoff was coming so wasn’t surprised when it did a month ago. It’s time for the 2010 Census to begin. I gave him the local contact info for that. He’s more optimistic than most. But will that simply be a short term fix? It’s good for a year maybe…and then, there you are looking again. Now, you’re behind that pool of thousands of job-seekers. It sucks. It really sucks.

  8. Portion size!!! duh!
    But not just the size of the portion. I get by just fine using half the shampoo they recommend; with concentrated fruit juice I’d always add another 1 to 1 1/2 cans of water; concentrated detergents–well, how dirty is this load?. I’ve shaved without shaving cream or after shave for years.
    Some mixes. I love Manwich….but I add another half pound of the ground beef. I get the flavor and my Joes ain’t so sloppy. I like that.
    Let’s not rule out gluttonous tendencies! True confession time. I’ve been the rounds on pizzas and, for the money, give me a Tombstone sausage (I’ll doctor with onion, green pepper, more cheese)…the 12 incher. It says 3 portions right there above the cooking instructions. It never turns out to be 3 portions for me… Ice cream? That’s another portion size I ignore. Rarely allow myself to have it around. Dark chocolate…

  9. Apropos of brands, materialism and anxiety. There’s one study that links materialism with death anxiety.
    I’m not impressed with their methods but they concluded that:

    our results are quite consistent, as both studies indicate that self and communal brand connections appear to provide a means for materialistic individuals to symbolically cope with the fear of death.
    This conclusion challenges the notion that materialistic individuals are simple status seekers who are weakly connected to the objects they own. Instead, our research indicates that it may be more appropriate to view materialistic individuals as complex meaning seekers who are tightly connected to their stock of objects.

  10. What about “fast” and “easy.”
    Is it really faster to drive down to McD’s than to make your own lunch or breakfast?
    How much of “fast” and “easy” is converted into dollars spent?
    Reminds me of the whole emotional intelligence study of being able to delay gratification as a sign of E.I.

  11. David–
    Nothing profound on the mass customization except on how so much of it targets children. “Get ’em while they’re young.” Ronald McDonald, The Hamburgler—what has this got to do with food?
    Worse thing there though is that the appeal is all to taste; nutrition, if present, is an accidental by-product.
    Been reading a few stories lately about foods or beverages that actually try to appeal to your sense of nutrition when they are actually as bad or worse than the standard fare. But the marketers know those buzz-words that will get you to go for it.

  12. Thanks Eddy,
    Any comments about “Mass Customization?”
    Presenting a mass produced and mass consumed product as “one of a kind” or “only for a select few.”
    Burger King: Have it your way.
    Bottled water.
    I like Safeway Cola…
    I am a real fan of Costco Jeans and Shirts…I am one swanky dude.

  13. David–
    There’s vanity clothing…you inscribe the Tommy Hillfiger logo on a t-shirt and then hike the price to $20 or $30!
    Jeans–your good basic jeans (Lee, Levi, Wranglers) all generally retail for around $20 or less but my brothers’ kids all had to have those $40 and $50 designer jeans. Were they better made? Longer lasting? Often, the reverse was true.
    There’s trendy clothing. This years color, collar, cuff or hemline…always at a premium price. It seems the more you pay, the sooner it is that the product will look ‘dated’. Might be well made but it’s eye-catching….and next year, the eyes that notice will go ‘oh, that’s so last year!”
    There’s over specialization. When I grew up, you wore one pair of Keds for everything. Now you need one pair of high priced sneakers for every activity you engage in…for walking, for running, for basketball, etc. Wonder what irreversible damage you’d do to yourself if you wore the basketball sneaks for running? It’s just too scarey to imagine.
    Don’t even get me going on soft drinks. Are Coke and Pepsi really worth 4 times more than Shasta?
    Home decor: If your furnishings draw the oooh’s and aah’s of visitors now, give it five years and they’ll be tsk-tsking at your dated look.
    LOL. Well there’s a few for starters.

  14. Our Culture creates anxiety and emptiness and uses consumerism to fill it.
    The aggressive use of advertising, “free TV” in which each program is designed to create tension and anxiety and relief in 46 minute increments;
    The attack in critical thinking which includes traditional values (carving out generations of wisdom in the name of being open minded);
    Planned obsolescence (do we really need a new $25K car every 5 years?).
    Any other ideas?

  15. Evan and Eddy,
    Many Happy Thoughts…eek.
    Does the way I live my life as an individual matter? I think so.
    Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust can corrupt…
    Nearly debt free…but that may not save me.

  16. Evan
    I don’t know if they talk about “alternative energy” in your country but Obama claims that he is going to produce millions of “green” jobs producing alt energy in America. The only problem is that once all of the engineering problems are solved they’ll offshore all of the manufacturing to China. America does not produce good jobs anymore. I’m just glad that I own my own small business. Of course once the wealth has finally evaporated from the country I’ll lose all of my customers with it.

  17. I personally don’t think that restoring lending will do the trick.

    Nope. Borrowing can’t help the U.S. economy because massive debt is what CAUSED the problem in the first place. We run a deficit every single year and now we are broke. How would a bigger deficit be better? Unfortunately it’s the only thing the government knows. The more they borrow the poorer we become. America needs to focus on a way to produce more, not spend more. As per usual the government has it backwards. We need real wealth which means real, growing industries. The printing press won’t solve anything.

  18. Drowssap
    Wow… Private debt is sky-rocketing in the US. If they’re giving out bailout money to keep credit lines open, they’re basically sustaining the same trend of further growing debt. It’s money thrown out of the window. It’s like thinking that everything will go back to normal only because credit is made available again.
    Nope. Business is not going to be as usual if credit comes to life again: derivative instruments have lost credibility (billions of dollars vanished), assets prices have gone down (it’s buying time for tycoons), debt has grown and has to be managed, jobs have been lost. I think people are downshifting right now, they’re not eager to go back to spending more. This crisis produced psychological changes that made many people risk-avoidant. I personally don’t think that restoring lending will do the trick.
    You know, the bailout money that goes into private banks’ accounts is going to lose its trace. They’re not going to do separate accounting for that, therefore they’re not going to be held accountable for how they will spend it. I think they should be given once choice: bankruptcy or temporary state management (then privatisation).

  19. Evan
    Obama and the Democrats want to spend massive sums of money. The British are doing the same thing. It’s ridiculous. I can’t believe the Citibank jet story. Can’t these guys fly on regular planes like the rest of us? Are they in a hurry to do more deals so they can lose money even faster? This whole meltdown is just getting started. By the end of the year we will be in a full blown depression. I imagine most of the world is in the same boat.

    2 graphs from Reuters that explain the entire financial crisis.
    US GDP vs financial sector debt
    US GDP vs public and private sector debt
    The USA and most of the western world is completely broke.

  20. Drowssap,
    BTW, British folks have always insisted on having a special status in Europe, including by keeping their own currency, even if they could have joined the Eurozone. Now they are hit hard by currency devaluation. UK has officially entered recession. And they’re looking for culprits. They even made a list:
    Alan Greenspan, chairman of US Federal Reserve 1987- 2006
    Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England
    Bill Clinton, former US president
    Gordon Brown, UK prime minister
    George W Bush, former US president
    Senator Phil Gramm (Texas)
    Abby Cohen, Goldman Sachs chief US strategist
    Kathleen Corbet, former CEO, Standard & Poor’s
    “Hank” Greenberg, AIG insurance group
    Andy Hornby, former HBOS boss
    Sir Fred Goodwin, former RBS boss
    Steve Crawshaw, former B&B boss
    Adam Applegarth, former Northern Rock boss
    Dick Fuld, Lehman Brothers chief executive
    and many many others.
    It’s the first list of individual blame-throwing since the crisis began. I don’t agree with blaming the entire American and British public, though. Most of them are paying for others’ decisions right now.

  21. Evan
    David Blakeslee

    I think the problem the economy has is that large banks and insurance companies know that the government views them as too big to fail. They take all kinds of stupid risks because if everything works out they make a fortune, if it doesn’t the government will always bail them out. We’ve got too much crony capitalism.

  22. Do you really think deregulation is the culprit?
    Many economists think so. What happened back in the 1929 was that governments avoided interfering with market forces, which lead to banks going bankrupt (they thought that was a healthy way by which markets regulated themselves). In the wake of the depression, governments imposed regulations and the banking system regained its balance (the glorious 30’s). Then, during the 80’s, came the two major revisions of the post-1929 regulations — Reaganomics and Thatcherism. Now the cycle is closing again towards more state intervention and regulation.
    The main problem right now is that there’s a lot of uncertainty, trust is very low and money tend to pool. As your former Fed chief, Greenspan, said: asset prices went down and money became expensive. That was bound to happen: real estate prices have been going up around the world for many years. Greenspan actually raised an alarm in 2006. There was plenty that regulators could have done to avoid bankruptcies and a need for a bailout. Now we’re picking up the pieces of a lack of regulating intervention.
    when the government starts guaranteeing loans (intrusion in the market), creating unwarranted certainty (removing risk), prices are inflated and everyone gets greedy
    What’s the alternative? If banks cannot attract money from the market, very few will afford to sustain credit risks, a few big players. Credit will become more expensive and subject to lots of conditions, which can stifle growth. That’s why governments had to step in and inject some money to restore banks’ crediting ability and keep credit cost low. No one knows if this is going to work, because there was never a similar crisis before. (The IMF chief himself admitted that this is a crisis of capitalism, the first global crisis ever. That’s one big difference from 1929 right there.)
    I don’t think they’re going to be able to restore trust in derivatives, though. The big days for derivatives are probably over, unless they become highly regulated.

  23. @Evan,
    Do you really think deregulation is the culprit?
    It seems to me that although deregulation did occur under Reagan and Thatcher, powerful supervision of the economies of both nations still was in force.
    You may not remember, but after the small recession of 2001, Bush and congress signed laws require more truth in corporate disclosures and criminal penalties applied to CEO’s…and that is just a recent example.
    No, when the government starts guaranteeing loans (intrusion in the market), creating unwarranted certainty (removing risk), prices are inflated and everyone gets greedy…socialism cannot fix what is co-created.
    Socialism, in its attempts at fairness and justice, interferes with Cause and Effect….until the Effect is overwhelming and there is no one left to pay the taxes.

  24. @EVAN:
    Just bought this book for my son’s birthday:
    The Collected What If? Eminent Historians Imagining What Might Have Been (Hardcover)

  25. David Blakeslee
    BTW. You mentioned Reagan and Thatcher. They were both influenced by the economist I mentioned (Hayek). Here’s what a UK tabloid wrote yesterday about the economic recession that hit Britain:

    “This recession is not bad luck or an inevitable swing of the pendulum.
    “Its cause is irresponsible behaviour by banks and financial institutions taking advantage of the deregulation started by Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan, and continued to a greater or lesser extent ever since.

    So the economic mentality Hayek contributed to by rebutting socialist ideas influenced the two policy makers, Reagan and Thatcher, to take certain measures which lead to market deregulation and market failure. This is the context in which Barack Obama became president, amid fears that his policies might take a turn for the left. That reminds me of a certain statement: a spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of communism. It’s not just Europe any more and it’s not communism, but it seems that after decades of liberalisation, we are going back to state involvement in the economy. It’s like liberalisation couldn’t kill that ghost of socialism after all.

  26. David Blakeslee,

    Did you see my earlier post comparing the four opportunities for Revolution in the late 1700’s?

    I’m not an expert in the four modern revolutions, but to my knowledge the background conditions in each country were very different. In America it was about colonists of the British Empire revolting against the crown, which lead to a war of secession between two very distinct territories. That completely set the American Revolution apart from all others. Both the English and Russian revolutions lead to civil war, but very different outcomes due to different social conditions and traditions (monarchy was restored in Great Britain and was thrown out in Russia). In Britain there was and still is a very solid parliamentary tradition, despite there being a monarchy. There’s a long tradition of limiting monarchical power – you can see that very clearly in John Locke’s political philosophy, which also influenced the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence. In France, the legislative assembly was far weaker and unable to represent the people, whereas the king held most of the power (ironically, it was the same absolute king, Louis XVI, that supported the American Revolution against the British crown…). Very different conditions. Neither the Brits, nor the French had distinct territories to separate the revolutionaries from the regime they were up against. They had to stew in their own juice, so to speak… Limited possibility for change in France, Russia, Britain, because their long history put in place a certain configuration of traditions, institutions and social make-up. That was not the case at all in the US. This is just one aspect that makes the American Revolution unique, but I’m sure historians have already identified many more.

  27. David Blakeslee,
    I don’t deny the role Reagan played in ending the Cold War, but the best documented account on the downfall of communism I’ve read pointed to cracks that were already starting to appear in the whole system in Russia. The Soviets became unable to sustain the lifestyle that blue-collar workers became used to (the state gave them many perks, including free holidays, for instance). There was growing dissent among party bureaucrats (aparatchiks) as to how to handle the worsening economic problems. Gorbachev didn’t have much choice but to make the best of the situation and negotiate an end to the Cold War. I recommend a book written by Francoise Thom, if you or your son are interested in the perspective of a scholar specialised in this subject, who actually went to Moskow to dig in the party’s archives to get the best idea on what happened. Her book is called “Les fins du communisme” in French, but maybe you can find a translation.

    How do you think Churchill and FDR should have negotiated…and backed up a bolder assertion that this war was about individual government’s right to self-determination?

    Beats me. Neither of them owed Eastern Europe an intervention, I’ll make this as clear as possible. My argument was about setting the record straight on the matter of who owes whom. There can be many what ifs, but it doesn’t serve any practical aim to discuss them now, does it? 🙂

  28. David Blakeslee —
    You can find many excuses for why did the two self-titled defenders of “free enterprise” (Churchill’s words) negotiate Eastern Europe and cut it up like a piece of cake. What remains is that these countries were not given the chance to decide their own future. It doesn’t matter how good or bad did communism or Stalin look to your leaders, but that both the US and Great Britain gave their consent for another country to decide on other countries’ future, when it was not up to any of them. In this light, you can see why Eastern Europe cannot owe you or be thankful for your country’s WW II intervention.
    One note – you can try but cannot convince me that decision-makers in your country were not aware of Stalin’s deportations and purges in the forties. They knew what kind of a bird was Stalin, but they were so frightened by Hitler’s rapid advance that they were willing to make brothers with the devil to cross that bridge.

    They may have assumed a benevolent force within Russian Communism that would re exert itself…not the extension of totalitarian Stalinism.
    …many in France, in England and in the US viewed Communism as the future of government…some in the NY Times and the Economist continued to write pro-Communist articles well into the early Sixties.

    ‘Many’ doesn’t equate with those who wielded political and military power. The leaders were no small fry, Roosevelt was a Harvard graduate coming from a wealthy family. Churchill, during the 1945 elections in his country, borrowed anti-socialist ideas from the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek’s book, The Road to Serfdom (just published in 1944). He was so well-informed about the dangers of collectivism that he already was familiar with ideas that were published one year before. I don’t see how anyone could claim that he didn’t know what he was doing by negotiating with Stalin.

    The end of the war finished like it began, with superpowers deciding the future of weaker powers.

    More like messing with their future…

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful response…
      Communism has impoverished every economy it has taken over.
      My son’s a history major at Oregon State University and I passed some of your postings along to him…he really appreciated it.
      Thatcher and Reagan were resented by the advocates of Detente for their “cowboy” diplomacy and arms build-up…but it played a role 40 years after the “napkin” agreement in correcting an injustice.
      How do you think Churchill and FDR should have negotiated…and backed up a bolder assertion that this war was about individual government’s right to self-determination?

    2. Your allusion to Hyeck in ’44 is noteworthy, but as you may already know, Burke wrote extensively on the dangerous risks of French Revolutionary ideas before they were implemented…France was a mess or decades while those who observed it talked about “the blood of tyrants watering the tree of liberty.” Jefferson later concluded he had been naive and wrong about the French Revolution.
      Did you see my earlier post comparing the four opportunities for Revolution in the late 1700’s?

  29. David–
    LOL. Thanks for clearing up that you were speaking to Evan rather than me. I began to think I was sleep-blogging.

  30. @Evan,
    I was thinking about our discussion and I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding between the two of us.
    Somehow my assessment of Western Europe got translated into an assessment of All of Europe…hence your concerns about my assessment.
    Here is a chronology of some of the relevant comments:
    1. Western Europe’s errors have repeatedly been errors of omission (It is a long list here in the 20th century).
    2. Europe still is ruled, in part, by monarchs and for all it’s multiculturalism pressures has never elected a head of state of African American decent. ;).
    3. We are ahead of them in nearly every way…we are not Perfect, or All Good; but we are good and better.
    4. Western Europe (nor Japan) has not had the realistic expensive burden of having to field a meaningful military for defense purposes for the last 64 years.
    5. Evan responding to Carole: Europe, not being a nation, has a lot to overcome in terms of national interests in order to forge any deal.
    6. There is no Western Europe without the USA…Twice:
    7. There is some reasons to think that Western Europe would not be as peaceful as it is the last 60 years without the US involvement in NATO…There has been so much killing in Western Europe for nearly 2000 years;
    I think I worked repeatedly to limit my assertions to Western Europe and I think that important qualifier strengthens the point…somehow my assertions were expanded to all of Europe…not my intent.

    1. Yeah, I got carried away a bit when I saw that you once referred to the entire Europe. I actually mentioned that many people when they talk about Europe they think about Western Europe. I think we cleared this out: you were talking about Western Europe and I was making a point about the other part of the continent, Eastern Europe.
      Both NATO and the European Union include right now both parts of the continent. So now, when it comes to issues of economic and security policy in the integrated part of Europe, it’s no longer just about Western Europe, it’s a bigger picture.

      1. @Evan,
        Regarding splitting up Eastern Europe and why it happened…
        1. Naivete: Prior to WWII both the US and Western Europe were experimenting heavily with enlarging the power and scope of government to control economic policy and social policy. In this regard they were moving closer to Russia. They may have assumed a benevolent force within Russian Communism that would re exert itself…not the extension of totalitarian Stalinism.
        2. Russian blood “purchased” Eastern Europe. Stalin drove his troops without guns and without artillery, amassing huge losses to repel the Nazi’s.
        3. Fatigue: were we really willing to continue a bloody war to move the Communists east? General Patton sure wanted to continue it…and he was replaced. No Stomach for another war.
        4. Marketing, how would we have marketed such an extension of the War to take on a previous Ally (many in France, in England and in the US viewed Communism as the future of government…some in the NY Times and the Economist continued to write pro-Communist articles well into the early Sixties.
        5. This does not examine any diplomatic options that were overlooked at the time: Could we have purchased a “buffer” in some way by subsidizing defensive barriers (Like the Maginot Line…not so good)?
        The end of the war finished like it began, with superpowers deciding the future of weaker powers.

  31. @Drowssap:
    Well put. For my PhD dissertation I researched the history of health insurance as a driver of mental health care and treatment. Calls for nationalized health care go back to early 1900s. Each step of the way, the private sector has stepped up with an effective reply. Each of those remedies has also had problems but they helped fuel innovation in at least some of the sectors of healthcare. Managed care a recent private sector innovation, has been a benefit to mental health care via reducing waste and stimulating innovation in treatment. Lengthy treatment, once thought to be critical to good therapy, is now reserved for the wealthy. And this is a good thing for the most part. One can always find problems and mismanagement in these systems, but to think that government healthcare will erase those goes against everything we know about centralized systems.
    Having said all of that, the proposal Obama has offered is only a step toward truly nationalized care ala Britain. Obama’s plan would not have to end up like Britain but could trend more toward the non-profit model of the Swiss and I think Germany. Given the historical trends, I would say some kind of guaranteed health care is in the cards within the next decade (but the people have been saying that since the 20s). My guess is that one of these times, that prediction will come true.

    1. Interesting, I didn’t know this argument had been going on for so long.

      I don’t mind paying extra to provide a minimum safety net for poor people. The system that scares me is one like Canada where people don’t have the right to purchase private health care. I want the best for my family and I don’t mind paying for it. I don’t want the government to tell me I can’t.

      1. Don’t we already have a minimum safety net in our country?
        Of course we do.
        Medicare; Chips; and mandatory medical care in emergency rooms.
        I think we are trying to expand it…

        1. Emergency room care that gets billed to the individual afterwards and can cause bankruptcy or worse when after care is not provided. Illegal aliens recieving better health care than citizens, etc…. These are not safety nets – they are gluts on the system when we do not provide full care for our citizens.

        2. Don’t we already have a minimum safety net in our country? Of course we do.

          You are right about that. In my perfect world Ron Paul would be president and I’m against all of this. I guess I’m just trying to decide what I would reluctantly accept. 😎

  32. Drowssap,
    I work in the field – I see everyday how our healthcare system is not only doing a disservice to patients, but is actually FAILING! Politicians and healthcare providers around the country acknowledge this! Its not a point of debate anymore, its a fact! All of us, if we haven’t been impacted yet, will be in the very near future. Yours costs are going to rise and rise exponentially.

    1. You are right. The US healthcare system has problems. The only sollution I see is socialization. The government has proven itself to be more efficient than the private sector in almost every other area. Now it’s time for them to take over healthcare.

      On a related government note Arizona is about to cut Arizona State Universities budget by 40%.
      ASU students protest possible budget cuts to higher ed

      Do you think there will be protests when the government runs national healthcare into the ground and they have to cut that budget by 40%?

  33. Drowssap –
    That article is actually incredible considering that the infant mortality rate in the US is higher than several other countries!!!!

  34. Oh Drowssap – the OLD conservative argument that everyone is coming here for healthcare –
    One argument is that the reason SOME people wait longer for care in other countries is that the doctors there actually take the time, MAKE the time to listen to their patients.
    Here you go:
    “But before leaping to the conclusion that this proves the overall superiority of American health care … you have to consider a slew of caveats. … It’s possible that, even accounting for such [caveats], the United States still has better treatment for breast and prostate cancer. But, even if that were true, it’s hard to read the data as indictment of universal health care when the U.S. survival rate on other ailments isn’t so superior. The Swedes are more likely than Americans to survive a diagnosis of cervical, ovarian, or skin cancer; the French are more likely to survive stomach cancer, Hodgkins disease, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Aussies, Brits, and Canadians do better on liver and kidney transplants.
    All of this comes with an important cautionary note: Measuring the outcomes of medical care is an imperfect science at best… It’s difficult to make a ironclad case that any one system is better than another. But the fact that countries with universal health care routinely outperform the United States on many fronts–and that, overall, their citizens end up healthier–ought to be enough, at least, to discredit the argument that universal care leads to worse care.
    And that, in turn, ought to tip the scales of debate, since not even conservatives dispute the one clear advantage other countries have over us: You don’t see their citizens choosing between prescriptions and groceries, or declaring bankruptcy, because of medical bills. As John Edwards put it when he announced his health care plan, “It doesn’t have to be that way.”…”
    A small excerpt from this article:
    And let’s end with the FACT that people in many other countries are simply living longer than people in the US! We are doing something VERY wrong

    1. Eek…Please don’t quote John Edwards…creepy in so many ways, including trial lawyer ethics.
      I work in the health care field too. Demonizing pharmaceuticals is silly, in the long run many of their costs are defrayed over millions of people and within a small number of years their product goes generic.
      Don’t other countries profit from the R and D costs that pharmaceutical companies expend?
      I fear the whole demonization process…it leads to reactivity and poor decisions as I first wrote about Obama and Bush.

  35. Canadian healthcare is so awesome that many of it’s citizens feel guilty and to eliminate their guilt they travel to America to get treatment instead. This is particularly true of Canadian moms. They feel so guilty about how good they have it that thousands of them come to America to have their babies each year. This is especially true for moms with high risk pregnancies.

    Canada’s Expectant Moms Heading to U.S. to Deliver

    Side note:My mom used to work in a cardiologists office about 3,000 miles from Canada and they were always giving treatment to Canadians. The way the scam works is these people can’t get good or fast treatment so they come to America on “vacation.” When they get here they “experience some symptoms” and then head to a specialist. Because they were on vacation I believe Canada pays for the whole thing. I’m not sure exactly how it works but those are the basics.

  36. Warren,
    Not to mention I just learned of two procedures that are right now being pioneered in other countries!

  37. David and Eddy,
    You can actually create the emoticon with just a colon and a right parentheses 🙂

  38. David,
    I work in Healthcare and am ALL too aware of the shortcomings of our system – of the debt people go into in this country because they can’t afford care, or the treatment people don’t get because they can’t afford care. I watch the profit margins of pharmaceutical companies grow and grow and people’s ability to pay for care shrink. Our system is collapsing and trying to idolize it in the face of this is, well, astonishing.
    People in other countries are living much longer than we are in the US, despite all our vaunted “success” in healthcare. I know several people who live in England and Canada who are more than happy with their healthcare systems.

    1. Constructing health care for a homogeneous population (Sweden, Norway and others) who have centuries of applying “Lutheran” health values to their population means they have a head start and a simpler task.
      Especially since their defense costs are low.
      And perhaps (somebody help me out there) because Nationalized Oil funds their government system.
      The USA is remarkably heterogeneous…making health care delivery very different here than in Western Europe.
      An interesting variable: Immigrants from Mexico deliver children with higher birthrates and lower mortality than the similar immigrants in later generations. What is that about? I think it is about our culture as much as it is about our health care system.

  39. Jayhuck said,

    I am more than willing to agree that we are the brawn and the rest of the world is the brain

    You can’t be serious. The world is a richer place because of the thinking (the “brain ” work, as you call it) of Americans, Jayhuckm the same as it is a richer place due to the thinking of the peoples of other cultures and times. To have said otherwise reveals a shallow knowledge of all that reveals our history. How about pulling out some of our literature and studying it. Jeez!

  40. David,
    I learned it recently. It’s a colon, a dash, and the back end of a bracket. I’ll do them separated : – ) . If you do the three characters without any spacing, it turns them into a smile. 🙂 Replacing the colon with a semicolon become a wink. But I don’t think that one turns into the emoticon. (My MSN email program has several dozen emoticons…happy, sad, party, frustrated, sleepy, ……eyes that actually roll, winks that actually wink. So sad these gimmicks weren’t around when I was young enough to play with them.)

  41. @Jayhuck:
    In education and technology, you may have something, I don’t know. But in healthcare, our technology and access is envied worldwide. People who are in lines for procedures in Canada come here. I suspect there are far smaller countries who are taxed far more than we are with more seamless systems. However, we have world leaders in transplants, neurological research and much more. I would need to see some evidence for the health care claim.
    I spoke recently with an official in an European country (can’t reveal it, confidential meeting) who makes regular trips to the US for healthcare. Why? We have technology and an open market for anyone to access. Are things wrong? Yes. Will we have to pay more to keep up the pace, yes. However, I am very glad I am here.

    1. That technology is no available to all US Citizens. There are still many chop shops and procedures being performed to cut costs but not save lives or enhance the life of an individual. If I were wealthy, my health care would be much better – as well as any mental health care I would need – would be much better. Plain and simple – medical and health care in this country belongs to the rich.

  42. @ Evan:
    “There is no USA without European Christianism” and “there would be no Europe without Ancient Greek and Roman cultural genes.”
    Adding England completes the journey to Real Modesty…I have not trouble with any of that. Deeply thankful.
    But I don’t think I was asserting that the USA somehow miraculously invented all these ideas (a straw man, Evan?).
    America began with religions rejected by Western Europe, with democratic ideals first championed by Greece, then Rome and then recorded and applied by the Catholic Church….a deep debt is humbly owed to many committed, bright and courageous men.
    Are you able to visualize a democratic England and Europe without American hegemony both during and after WWII?
    I am not trying to bait you into unpatriotic or unloving words about the USA…I am interested in reasonable pride over good deeds of interventionism, rebuilding Europe and stalling Communist expansion.
    I really wonder, how would you visualize European democracy without such extensive interventions?
    It is kind of like asking, what would Europe and the enlightenment have looked like if a bunch of Irish monks had not dutifully copied ancient Greek and Roman texts?
    To answer the latter question…I think the Dark Ages are prolonged and Fate and the Charismatic Bloody Tyrant rule Europe for an additional several hundred years.
    What is your guess about the first question…I am genuinely interested… I am not trying to make you look “bad”…it is not my intent…and you certainly have not looked “bad” so far. I appreciate your frank, bright and courteous comments and perspective.
    Eagerly waiting…and wishing Blessings

    1. Are you able to visualize a democratic England and Europe without American hegemony both during and after WWII?
      I am not trying to bait you into unpatriotic or unloving words about the USA…I am interested in reasonable pride over good deeds of interventionism, rebuilding Europe and stalling Communist expansion.

      David, I already said that: No. Western Europe owes you, we don’t. Your president did his job for your country, but don’t ask some Europeans to be thankful for the awful job they – Roosevelt and Churchill – did with Eastern Europe. We are part of Europe and we are your allies right now. Just admit it that part of the mess in Eastern Europe was because Russians were given free hand by the two democratic powers that claimed to defend the free world. If that’s what you meant when you said that you agree on the job that the two leaders did, then we agree. I’m not blaming Americans, Roosevelt was heavily criticised for that deal by many Americans. But I won’t let this one pass, because I know it’s true and it was a shame.
      Thanks for the blessings. It was a great debate.

      1. @ Eddy,
        You may be done…but I am thrilled to discuss this with someone outside the US and someone in Eastern Europe…
        “Your president did his job for your country, but don’t ask some Europeans to be thankful for the awful job they – Roosevelt and Churchill – did with Eastern Europe. We are part of Europe and we are your allies right now. Just admit it that part of the mess in Eastern Europe was because Russians were given free hand by the two democratic powers that claimed to defend the free world.”
        I wrote a comment below that shows the overwhelming majority of my comments were addressed to What Western Europe would be like without a variety of US interventions.
        I was not intending to justify actions with Eastern Europe….can you see that now?

  43. When it comes to Healthcare, Education, and Technology – David – most of the time, we are NOT smarter than others. You’re excuse for this is that others have not invested so much time and energy into their militaries, and I agree with this to some extent.
    We are FLAWED, we DO get things wrong, We need the rest of the WORLD and we are often in need of a good dose of modesty!
    Are we still great? yes! 🙂

  44. @ Jayhuck,
    “That’s where some modesty should come into play – we haven’t always been CORRECT!”
    Agreed…we are not Perfect, or all Good; we are Better and good.

  45. @ Jayhuck:
    “I am more than willing to agree that we are the brawn and the rest of the world is the brain.”
    I take exception with this split…some days we are smarter than others, our power is currently unrivaled.
    But we are not Pax Romanis.

  46. David,
    That’s where some modesty should come into play – we haven’t always been CORRECT!

  47. @Evan,
    I understand some of your qualifiers to my statements, but I wonder; have we ultimately agreed?
    “The context of development was different for both of them and that explains why Europe was left behind in some areas and continues to ruminate its history, while the US started a new history in a new land.”
    “American History” is not History…but neither is “European History” History….
    Do you think that democracy in Western Europe would be in existence if FDR had been an isolationist or worse, if Truman had not backed NATO and the airlift?
    We can quibble about large statements, but facts are what they are…and they seem to point to an America, generous, sacrificial, flawed and correct.
    Perhaps you can describe a democratic world in Western Europe without the US…I would be interested to hear it.

    1. Perhaps you can describe a democratic world in Western Europe without the US…I would be interested to hear it.


    2. I already said it:

      Western Europe has been luckier, as always, because they were further situated from Russia and could benefit from the US and British plans for liberation and later, reconstruction. In this respect, you are right, post-war Western Europe owes a lot to the US and Great Britain, but that’s a bit far from saying that W Europe would be nothing without the USA.

      Now it’s my turn to ask:
      Why was Roosevelt so anxious to draw Stalin on his side in the alliance of the three powers if he was concerned with democracy in Europe? Did he not care that Stalin was everything that democracy was not? Why did he let Eastern Europe fall prey to Russia if he was concerned about democracy in Europe? Why do only half of the job (Western Europe) if you’re in for such big deeds – ie salvation of the free world…? Because he only had the interest for Hitler to be defeated and secure a buffer zone between Russia and the free world. And some countries had to pay the price of that liberty of others. It was not a question of saving democracy abroad, it was politics, mostly domestic.

  48. Thanks for the links and references, guys. I know both those writers, and I’ll give a listen.
    Thanks to you too, Evan. I certainly agree with Eddy. It’s nice to have someone who can help widen our lens.
    And David… I do know what you mean by it sometimes being “painful at the dinner table.” My stomach didn’t appreciate it , although looking back at it, I am glad I got to hear opposing viewpoints from two people whom I loved and respected.

  49. Wow – that filter is something else – I’ll just re-write my post while waiting for the other one to be approved 🙂
    But we did NOT stop that German dictator by ourselves! I am more than willing to agree that we are the brawn and the rest of the world is the brain.
    I am very proud to be an American – most of the time – but you are right that a dose of modest would do us a world of good. Regardless of how good we are – and I believe we are – we still NEED the rest of the world. George Bush was not modest in many of his dealings with other countries – Obama will be!

    1. I am not sure how modesty would protect me from terrorists.
      I prefer safety. Disagree with how he and his admin sought that end, but I believe 9-11 gave him his mandate — and he pursued it with zeal.
      Furthermore, he built bridges in Africa with an unprecedented campaign against AIDS.
      I feel confident that history will be much kinder to Bush than the current events reporting has been.

      1. Warren,
        What I said about required modesty where it’s due only addressed broad statements like ‘X is nothing without Y.’ It was nothing about the war on terrorism. That is another topic.

  50. David,
    But we did NOT stop Hitler by ourselves! I am more than willing to agree that we are the brawn and the rest of the world is the brain 😉

  51. @Eddy
    Thanks, I’ll continue to do that. I usually criticise people who are smart, because it’s a pity when they make broad statements about topics like this one.

  52. Found it!
    Jonathan Alter, author of The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, senior editor and columnist for Newsweek
    Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, senior fellow in economic history at the Council of Foreign Relations
    You can listen to the interview here:

  53. Two books…can’t remember the titles, but one author was a prominent writer for Newsweek and the other for Bloomberg.

    Is it Franklin and Winston – an intimate portrait of a friendship by Jon Meacham? He is a gifted author and this is a great book.