Friday, January 12, 2007

RE: Cafe Hayek

So a couple dim-witted "classical liberals" responded to my comment, and I responded back. Here is what I had to say. I'm sorry that it runs a little long:

"Second, in the US insurance is generally connected to employment benefits so the majority of people who are frictionally unemployed (which right now is about the only unemployment we have) likely do not have health insurance, nor do their dependants."

And that's a good thing how? Besides, that's not true -- those people are covered under Medicare. Get your facts straight. [Meant to say Medicaid, but even that isn't actually right -- Medicaid covers mostly low-income children and people with disabilities.]

"Third, a lot of those people choose not to have health insurance. THEY KNOW THE RISKS and decide that money is better in their pocket."

Indeed. But when they go the emergency room and can't pay their bill, guess what? The federal government foots the bill. Health problems cause a large number of bankruptcies. The US spends more on healthcare per capita than any other industrialized nation and yet it seems to get the least done, with 47 million uninsured. If you'd like some facts (for a change), check out these two sites. Find credible sources that contradict them -- if you can.

"I will only mention one more thing that makes this a silly statistic, in a global economy why are you only worried about the 40 million Americans?"

I'm not a complete altruist. I, like most Americans (or perhaps because of most Americans) think that we should take care of the -needs- of our own first. That's not silly. It makes economic sense. Health problems can be devastating to workers. If they aren't treated, you can kiss that worker goodbye.

"It certainly is their right to do so. But before you recommend that a later date, perhaps you should review the successes of such programs as the IMF, UNICEF, OxFam, et al."

Perhaps you can point me to your source? Your information has trickled down to you -- you believe in dogmatically, like some sort of religious nut. You don't understand economics, you just listen to those who say they understand economics (like Russel here) and take it on faith. I see it all the time.

But, yes, you do have a point. I like the microfinance idea of Muhammad Yunus (who doesn't?) and agree that large donations are often weak. There are a lot of problems with the way we do aid (especially just giving corrupt companies money). Instead we have to force accountability -- get some good (principled) Americans on the field. Pay our workers to build infrastructure and train people overseas. Similarly, handing out money can simply destroy the developing world's agricultural sector. Instead we could eliminate the subsidies on our farms and help to distribute money to the people so that they can buy their own food. There are effective ways to distribute food.

The benefits, I might add, would be enormous. With lower poverty (and a resulting stronger lower-class) we would see, I expect, less violence, ecological destruction, political corruption, and productivity (which might put more of a strain on world resources, but it would be a good thing).

"This is one of the unwritten rules of the political game. There is no way, given the realities of human nature to avoid this characteristic of politically controlled wealth distribution. The actual result of foreign aid to third world nations provide averwhelming evidence of this."

Huh? I don't see the link between your quote and your conclusion. Your quote sounds like it's saying that when wealth transfers happen, the lower-class will inevitably use it to further their political causes - but that wouldn't happen. We set the standard at the basics and no higher. If you want the good shit, you will always have to work for them. But in the modern age, when there is plenty, people (especially American citizens) should have healthcare (like the rest of the developed world) and food stamps, and shelter. We already provide these things, just not as broadly as we will inevitably have to. Besides - you claim evidence, but you don't show. Again, I fear you've accepted information which has trickled down to you as fact with dogmatic enthusiam. I'm not saying I know everything about these things, but I have my own analysis, at least -- which tells me that the world of work is going to get a lot stranger in the future, and that we could do a lot more for the world.

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