Karma carries a gas can.

A woman approached me at a freeway exit today, holding a gas can and rattling off a mile-a-minute story about running out of gas, being late for work and panicked about losing her job. She didn’t look like she worked at Victoria’s Secret at Macomb Mall, but it wasn’t out of the question, either. Please, please, please, she said.

I gave her $4. There’s at least a 50-50 chance she spent it in a nearby crack house, but I always consider the possibility she really needed the money. You have to make a decision about these things in half the cycle of a red light, and what the hell — will your karma be terribly dented by a kindness to a drug addict, even if it’s not the kindness they need? The last thing she said as she moved to the next car?

“I’ll pay it forward. I will.”

Let’s hope so.

I felt the need to rearrange karma a bit yesterday, having read about what most seem to consider a fairly disastrous argument for the Affordable Care Act earlier. Well. If it goes down, I look forward to the GOP’s “modest, incremental fixes” of the existing unsustainable reality, not to mention the usual preening about the greatest health-care system in the world.

What happened to the solicitor general? It sounds like he was utterly unprepared to be aggressively questioned. He was asked if the government could require people to buy a burial plot. Maybe if a burial plot cost $100,000, and your failure to afford one meant we all had to chip in for yours? I’d say yeah. (My boss Derek says, “Ask the government if you can bury your aunt in the back yard, and see what they say.”) The more polite commentators are pretending John Roberts is a wild card — ha! — and, of course, Clarence Thomas sat there like a toad who hasn’t had quite enough hours in direct sunlight yet.

A long day, followed by a long evening. Grading papers. Grading, grading, grading. My eyes are crossed.

Looks like Gawker noticed Frank Bruni’s column Sunday, too:

…Here are a couple questions.

1) If you were a vocal anti-abortion protester, and you needed to get an abortion, would you select the very abortion clinic that you had protested for years? The one that is staffed be people you had stared in the face and called “murderers” for years? Would you seek out those “familiar faces”? Or would you maybe go somewhere else?

2) How did this young lady enter the clinic without being spotted by any of her co-protesters?

3) If you were a virulent anti-abortion protester who suddenly and hypocritically sought out an abortion from the very people you had been calling murderers for years, would you return to that very same clinic a week later to call those very same people murderers, even though you knew that they knew you were a horrible liar?

These are the very same questions I asked! Bruni hasn’t responded to Gawker, but he has his defenders out there, and I seriously don’t get it.

Did I mention my eyes are crossed with fatigue? They are. I’m going to bed.

Posted at 1:09 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' |

70 responses to “Karma carries a gas can.”

  1. David C. said on March 28, 2012 at 7:09 am

    You would think that all the Solicitor General would have to do is read from Heritage Foundation memos on the individual mandate from 1993. Then keep reminding the five neanderthals that these were the positions of their friends and benefactors.

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  2. Suzanne said on March 28, 2012 at 7:15 am

    Amen, David!

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  3. Jolene said on March 28, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Is there a bigger creep in government than Mitch McConnell? I have never had the slightest sense that he stands for anything other than making life miserable for Obama. I hate him. I really do.

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  4. brian stouder said on March 28, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Jolene – agreed.

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  5. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 8:09 am

    At the worst, Nancy, you paid for decent performance art. There is no more repugnant public figure than Mitch McConnell, but what shit he’s pulling now doesn’t hold a candle to the shit he shovelled for Massey and Blankenship the murderer:


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  6. beb said on March 28, 2012 at 8:10 am

    My first thought was Rep. John Boehner, but then I remembered he has a chin. McConnell’s lack of one has always creeped me out.

    It does seem odd that the attorney general seemed unprepared to answer whether the federal government can require people to do other things besides buy health insurance.

    I believe it was blogger Kevin Drum who make the argument that health insurance is different from other types of insurance because at some point we all need it. We may not need healthcare when we’re in our 20s but certainly will by the time we’re in our 70s. So the individual mandate merely pre-pays for the healthcare we will eventually need.

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  7. alex said on March 28, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Speaking of ladies with gas cans, when I lived in Chicago I remember one who would use much more elaborate props and staging. Typically she’d be standing beside a battered old Le Sabre in the middle of an intersection, hood up, and brimming with screaming children. I fell for it the first time but then noticed the same woman with the same vehicle pulling the same stunt all over Lincoln Park.

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  8. brian stouder said on March 28, 2012 at 8:38 am

    and indeed, as Ginsburg pointed out, the argument over whether Social Security (a retirement plan you cannot opt out of) was Constitutional, was settled several generations ago.

    And aside from that, CBS News pointed out that, back in the 1790’s, Congress passed a law that required people to buy firearms and ammunition – the better to have the elements of a militia – although they never enforced that law.

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  9. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Beb, Mitch has several, droopy for sure, but the guy
    is a creep with no doubt. And his racist opposition is unmatched, And this shit is ost assuredly about “a white buy” is supposed to be tunning things. It is painfully obvious,

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  10. Connie said on March 28, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I was surprised to see gas at $4.15 yesterday, that last 20 cents just snuck up on me.

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  11. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Head for page 14, and cringe. I had days like that in Con Law I, but that was as an undergrad, for pity’s sake:


    The dilemma here is that since Heart of Atlanta Hotel v. US (http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1964/1964_515) we’ve never quite figured out how to put the genie back in the bottle. Does the “commerce clause” represent a broad, sweeping authorization to federal authority that relegates the Tenth Amendment to relative meaninglessness, or have we bent it out of shape, as we arguably had to in 1964, there being no better tool to get a necessary job done? When you use a screwdriver as a pry-bar, you may either break it, or render it useless to do what it was designed to accomplish.

    So how does federal policy work in, as Justice Kennedy I think aptly puts it, “the fundamental relationship of the federal government to the individual”? And do we set the “commerce clause” gently aside, continue the benign neglect of the broken argument that got us to a reasonable resolution in 1964, and find a better way to rationalize health care policy across the nation?

    I think that’s not only necessary, I think it will ultimately work better. Most of what’s so broken about our current health care insurance situation is rooted in – surprise, surprise! – federal regulation, such as the barriers to interstate portability (that’s haunted my professional life), which are themselves an artifact of the decision during World War II to closely link health care insurance to employment status, largely through tax breaks. Look at the actual total costs to all parties for employment-based HCI to buying it as a private individual, and you can see starkly that this is a market that’s flawed largely because of regulation skewing the outcomes and triggering 60+ years of what economists call “rent-seeking behavior” by all kinds of insurance industry interests.

    There’s enough money being spent, in sum, in this country to provide the health care system we want for all, but it would require cracking open the tax code and making major revisions, and tearing down most of the artificial barriers we’ve created legislatively to keep the tax credits functional for employers and HCI-related businesses. If we did that, you could craft a plan that doesn’t mean massive tax increases for hardly anyone, let alone all, which is the only outcome that would keep ACA going even if it makes it past SCOTUS, which it obviously isn’t going to do. But the HC expenditures are making so many loop-the-loops, and so many parties taking cuts off the hog as it passes, it’s no wonder there’s no bacon left at the end for Mother Hubbard and her many shoe-dwelling kids.

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  12. Kevin said on March 28, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Why don’t the gas-can scammers ever ask for gas at a place where they could get it, like a gas station?

    That’s never happened to me at a gas station – not even once – but in every city I’ve ever lived, I’ve encountered people who have asked for gas money at a freeway offramp or a red light, where the generous and kind are forced to make a quick decision.

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  13. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Oh, and if someone offered to tie McConnell and Reid into a bag, I’d provide the bag and not ask awkward questions about what they were going to do with it. But it’s a package deal only.

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  14. brian stouder said on March 28, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Here in Fort Wayne, gas was about $3.87 yesterday morning. At lunchtime many stations were at $4.15, while others remained at the lower price.

    Then this morning, I noticed more $4.15’s, plus a few $4.33’s(!!), and STILL several $3.87’s….so I bought some $3.87 gas. (I think their ‘gouge ’em’ memo didn’t get out to very smoothly, this week)

    which is the only outcome that would keep ACA going even if it makes it past SCOTUS, which it obviously isn’t going to do.

    I don’t think that’s obvious, at all.

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  15. MichaelG said on March 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Apparently there is no social contract. Let ‘um bleed out at the curb. See what the ever wonderful Dahlia Lithwick has to say:


    I paid $4.20 the other day. That’s about as good as it gets around here. Most places are more.

    Edit: Wow. Look at how that link stretches clear out to the right and falls off the screen.

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  16. Jolene said on March 28, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I agree, Brian. As this SCOTUSblog author says, Justice Kennedy seemed, at the end, to be open to the administration’s perspective. It’s all tea-leaf-reading at this point.

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  17. Jeff Borden said on March 28, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Ha! You’re all pikers. Here in Chicago we have the highest gas prices in the nation. My car requires a higher octane, so I just paid $4.81 per gallon for 93 octane in Niles. A mile from my house, the same gallon fetches $4.95.

    I’m heartsick over the Supreme Court actions so far. I have something of a personal stake in it as a cancer survivor who would love to see the onus of “preexisting conditions” erased.

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  18. DellaDash said on March 28, 2012 at 11:02 am

    So…ACA is supposedly a ‘gateway’ law that could lead to Big Brother mandating all citizens to buy and eat carrots.

    Your argument seems reasonable enough, Jeff(tmmo), but it’s all speculation to me. Nobody can really know how it would shake out unless and until it actually goes into effect. Even then, the scale is so big and the factors so numerous, it’ll take years to figure out.

    I was raised in the firm expectation that Social Security would collapse long before I was eligible to receive it…even remember giving a speech about it in school.

    Here’s what I do know right now…I’m without health insurance. Couldn’t afford the co-pay on my last job, what with gas taking out such a sizable chunk of my minimal paycheck. I pay out-of-pocket for an office visit if I need to see my doc. Otherwise, I’ll get my ass to the nearest ER for anything catastrophic, in which case I will not be able to pay for services provided.

    Would the proposed reforms improve my lot, and that of my statistical brethren and sistren…or the lot of whoever has to pick up the burden when I get medical care for which I can’t pay? Couldn’t say. Hafta wait and see.

    In the meantime, I try to live as much of a healthy lifestyle as I can manage.

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  19. brian stouder said on March 28, 2012 at 11:09 am

    From MichaelG’s link, to Dahlia Lithwick’s superb article:

    This morning in America’s highest court, freedom seems to be less about the absence of constraint than about the absence of shared responsibility, community, or real concern for those who don’t want anything so much as healthy children, or to be cared for when they are old. Until today, I couldn’t really understand why this case was framed as a discussion of “liberty.” This case isn’t so much about freedom from government-mandated broccoli or gyms. It’s about freedom from our obligations to one another, freedom from the modern world in which we live. It’s about the freedom to ignore the injured, walk away from those in peril, to never pick up the phone or eat food that’s been inspected. It’s about the freedom to be left alone. And now we know the court is worried about freedom: the freedom to live like it’s 1804.

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  20. Jolene said on March 28, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I’m heartsick about the level of irrationality surrounding our discussions of how to provide healthcare in this country. We spend a higher percentage of our GDP on healthcare than any other rich nation, have significantly worse outcomes on many public health indicators, and leave many citizens uncovered. What is reasonable about this set of circumstances?

    Yet you have asshole politicians–all of whom have excellent healthcare coverage–worrying about ruining “the world’s greatest healthcare system.” Outrageous.

    Josh Marshall, the proprietor of Talking Points Memo, wrote today about how frustrating it was to listen to the justices debate academic, ideological points rather than the market failures that the ACA is designed to overcome, in keeping w/ the idea of regulating interstate commerce as specified in the Constitution.

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  21. Jeff Borden said on March 28, 2012 at 11:17 am


    It is dismaying to know that the braying jackasses in Congress who bash this law have the finest health care in the world guaranteed. They have no skin in the game aside from their pathetic ideology, which is atavistic and deeply unChristian as far as I can see.

    Agreed on Mitch McConnell. It’s kind of amazing that two of the biggest fuckweasels in Congress share a geographic proximity: McConnell in Kentucky and John Boehner in SE Ohio.

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  22. Bitter Scribe said on March 28, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Remember that Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode that had Dr. Hibbert as Dr. Moreau, turning humans into animals? McConnell would be a turtle, no question.

    I can’t believe Scalia with his “we could be forced to eat broccoli” crap. He’s supposed to be such a shining intellect, and he gets his arguments from nonsense that wouldn’t even make an op-ed in a respectable newspaper?

    I got into a mild argument with the people at Feministe over the Bruni thing. Apparently wishing-will-make-it-true is not all confined to the other side.

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  23. LAMary said on March 28, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Jeff, LA is right up there with you on the gas prices. I got a deal and paid only 4.59 when I filled up last Friday. There are places where it tops 5 bucks.

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  24. DellaDash said on March 28, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Can’t help but think that some of the Justices are playing devil’s advocate in order to gather fodder for the upcoming 3 months of deliberation…rather than indicating what their final position will be.

    Intense consideration (even hair-splitting) over our individual relationship with big government has merit…should be applauded as a checks-and-balances linchpin to our democratic process.

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  25. Bitter Scribe said on March 28, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Regarding the I’m-out-of-gas thing: It’s a scam, and not an original one. Some guy even used it as the basis for a novel set in Chicago, called “Cooler by the Lake.” (A light, insubstantial but fairly amusing read, IIRC.)

    One time I was with my boss in a restaurant parking lot when some guy approached us and started in along these lines. Before he’d said a dozen words, my boss fished a bankroll from his pocket, peeled off a five and told him, “I’ll give you this if you don’t make us listen to your bullshit story.” The guy plucked the bill from my boss’s hand and promptly vanished.

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  26. del said on March 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Jeff TMMO, I won’t be getting into a legal analysis of the supreme court’s doings. To me it’s like getting into a theological debate over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    The fact that we can predict, even with precious little knowledge of the law or arguments, just how certain justices will vote in major cases tells us what we need to know. (Well, I predicted the 5-4 split in Bush/Gore before any legal arguments had been distilled so maybe I’ve got a confirmation bias.)

    Sure the legal issues and tactics in the health care case are interesting, but I respect the process and that’s enough. Getting into a public legal analysis may serve to lend the process what courts would call “undue credence,” and I’m tired of apotheosizing the legal process. Judge made law, like legislation, resembles sausage. I’ll wait to taste the end product, hopefully it’ll be palatable.

    For what it’s worth, the U.S. Constitution is something of a Rorschach blot, even to the supreme court. (I’ll just have to steel myself to the unavoidable talking heads and constitutional scholars who will be arguing otherwise in coming months.)

    Thought for the day: There is a great similarity between theologians and constitutional scholars.

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  27. coozledad said on March 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Under the auspices of a Republican controlled legislature, judiciary and executive I have been forced to pay for the two wars to retrieve president Snowplow’s itty bitty balls, the expansion of the incarceration-for-hire complex, and the transfer of public schools and university systems to a bunch of drunk, educationally retarded Texas oil shite. We all pay for shit we don’t want or need, and will never be permitted to chip in for what we do.

    Fuck Republicans and their incessant bitching about ‘freedom’. What they really mean is the freedom to suck some bossman’s ass, or carry on their essentially racist modes of governance.

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  28. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Cooze, you gat that right. Plus , the idea of a Negroe in charge has put them into Hyper-drive. The racist shit is undeniable,

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  29. Jeff Borden said on March 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    As usual, brilliantly said, Cooz. And those wars and their after effects, of course, help no one but the military-industrial complex, where even a flawed HCA added millions of Americans to the rolls of the insured.

    The GOP has nothing, nada, zero, zilch to offer in place of Obamacare. And that’s clearly the way they like it. So long as a defeat accrues to the black president they despise, it doesn’t matter. Remember, Mitch the Turtle was quoted early on as saying the GOP’s primary effort would be to make Obama a one-term president. The party has never wavered in its commitment to that cause.

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  30. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Isn’t the real quetion about Obamacare Why do these proponents of the pre-born care so much about children that have not entered th world when they want to fuck them over instead of taking care of them when they ate actually born? These aholes disslike Obamacre because he’ a negroe. That is an unavoidable fact.

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  31. Joe Kobiela said on March 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    In rogers Arkansas today home of Walmart. Gas is $3.59. Yesterday in Travers City I saw it go from 3.88 to 4.18 Bought it in Auburn for 3.97.WTF
    pilot joe

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  32. 4dbirds said on March 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    If ACA is tossed I worry about my daughter. As a childhood cancer survivor with many health problems no one will insure her. She will never hold the type of job that will offer healthcare and her disabilities are too subtle and nuanced to qualify for disability (if that will even exist once these knuckledraggers get through with our safety net). Right now I hate Republicans. My daughter won’t die right away, her problems will fester over a few years and she’ll be constantly sick and miserable until her untreated problems kill her at 35 or 40. Fuckity fucking fuckers.

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  33. 4dbirds said on March 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Nancy, I’d give the gas money also. I wouldn’t care if it was for gas, drugs or food. Even drug users need food and gas.

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  34. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    The GOPer racism is obvious.

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  35. Diane L. said on March 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Just looking for the “like” button for post #27.

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  36. beb said on March 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    J(TMMO) @13: You really are a conservative, after all. I’m not that fond of Reid but at least he believes in making government work, McConnell does not. For someone in his position to have no interest in making government work, to only care about preventing the President from having an adgenda is treasonous. Democrats have nev er obstructed Republican presidents to the extent that Republicans have Democrats.

    As for your comments @11: I think the best point made in this whole discussion was made by James Galbraith in his book The Predator State . There is no “market” for healthcare. It’s something when we need it, we need it. We never have time to go shopping for the best deal or the best doctor. And when bad things happen to people the costs are so overwhelming that only the super-rich can afford to pay their own way, while most insurance companies insist on life-time caps. Market based solutions are just foolish.

    Healthcare started as a way to raise wages for workers during the wage freeze during WWII. As a result we do not have a nation (ie, government) health care like most of the rest of the world, but an employer based system. The other problem is that this is run as an insurance program. The insurers skim 30% off the top. Government run programs have as little as 5% overhead. And because it is run like an insurance program the healthcare payees have strong incentives to disallow all kinds of treatments, cherry-pick clients, and discover reasons to kick out people who suddenly discover major medical problems. It’s immoral — unchristian — what health insurance companies do and the only away around this is single-payer. Obamacare tried to mitigate some of the worst problems by requiring every one to buy insurance, because by widening the pool it lowers the individual costs. Since everyone is going to get sick before they die it’sd only reasonable that they have health care before hand.

    In any case I think the Civil War put the boot to the 10th amendment. The States are not superior to the Federal government. When the federal government wants to do something, it damn well can.

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  37. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    del, you are correct re: your comparison of Biblical theology & const’l law.

    Under the current provisions of the ACA, my brother & his wife and kids will still not be able to afford the premiums available through her employer, and will have to pay a fine each year, while still not having health insurance. This is what I don’t get about anyone saying this bill will fix markets; it’s not even addressed in a minimal way. It simply puts very popular, and I’d agree very morally positive obligations, on top of the current system (age 26, pre-existing condition non-exclusion, improving maternal health coverage). So we’re going to add costs & stresses to the current system without providing for or even allowing, in many ways, significant change to take place other than the evils of 2-3% profit margins for HCI. Fine, run the HCI arm as non-profit, and forbid companies from leaving the marketplace (which ACA doesn’t do, by the way, though it was considered); even with the profits mandatorially plowed back into the costs, the current system can’t do it.

    So we watch, if ACA is upheld, four years of companies getting out of HCI, and the state networks become “Medicaidized” and grow by leaps and bounds, with employers wholesale opting to pay the fines while only offering HCI as a perk for their own upper-tier 1%ers. We’re still looking at a breaking/broken system that’s collapsing back into state single payer coverage about the time the ACA supports for Medicaid expansion end.

    I still want to see someone run the numbers for an obliteration of tax benefits to employers for HCI, convert those expenses into income for workers, and a Medicare Part E option for all 26-64 year old people regardless of employment status, and insurance companies can do what they’ve done with Medicare currently, which is market a sheaf of options for supplemental coverage beyond the Medicare Part E national plan. No one has done this that I’ve been able to find, and I just don’t know enough to even guess at a calculation, but I suspect it wouldn’t be as shockingly expensive as the Heritage Foundation or Cato Institute might think.

    Edit: beb, only just saw your comment after posting. Aside from disputing the 30% claim on insurance company profits, I’ll accept whatever diagnosis of my relative conservatism after you read this one. I just don’t see how either the Status Quo OR the ACA can work, short or long term. The difference between “works” in health care vs. the long-claimed coming collapse of SS is that if/when SS collapses, it will happen suddenly. The “not working” part of health care/HCI will be a steady erosion of the system’s effectiveness for any but the Saudi shieks flying into Hopkins for Cleveland Clinic boutique care.

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  38. beb said on March 28, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I saw this on Yahoo News An entire basketball program in Southern California has been suspended indefinitely after physical threats were made against the team’s coach and his wife, with the coach resigning from his long-held post in the immediate aftermath of the incident. , read the entire article from end to end and I still have no idea what the complaint against the coach was. Was he just losing too many game? Was he taking showers with the boys? Wearing hoodies in strange places? It would be nice if a news article either state why the death threats were made or that no reason for the threats are known….

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  39. Mindy said on March 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Here’s a little waltz and an earworm for anyone who hasn’t heard it already:

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  40. Kirk said on March 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    My computer isn’t letting me do links, but Orange County Register has a story that’s somewhat more enlightening.

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  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    From: http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/2011-ltbo-supplemental-data.xls

    In 1971, five years after Medicare & Medicaid were launched (and three years after we required all hospitals to provide “a basic level of care” to all comers on an emergency and/or trauma basis), federal health spending was 1% of GDP, & all other non-interest federal spending was 17.1% of GDP.

    40 years later, in the 2011 budget? Federal health spending is 5.6% of GDP, and all other federal non-interest spending is . . . 17.1% of GDP.

    Like the boy with the roomful of manure, I’m sure there’s a pony in here somewhere, named Medicare Part E(veryone). If someone knows how to mine the CBO data better and has the time to figure out what the cost exchange would be, I’d owe them a Rolling Rock or Vernor’s or whatever.

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    beb – http://www.ocregister.com/news/district-346601-patton-state.html

    No, that can’t be it, that’s basketball and the link is football. Kirk?

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  43. beb said on March 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Jeff, I’ve heard 30% overhead from a couple reliable sources, and that the one of conflicts with ACA is that it limits overhead to 20%. Perhaps this includes the hospital costs for filling out the right claims forms, arguing with the insurance companies and so on. But I’m pretty sure this is just the insurance companies cut of the business (CEO pay and all that.)

    Medicare for all was a plan some progressives strongly supported once the public option was taken off the table. It didn’t happen. A lot of things didn’t happen because the Republicans in Congress weren’t going to vote for anything, and too many blue dog Democrats weren’t eager for vote for anything either. Medicare for All seems like a worthwhile compromise betweem our current, unworkable, employer based health care and a federal health plan

    And, PS, Social Society is not going to run out of money. It’s solvent for the next 35 years and ever after that will be able to pay 70% of claims from revenues. Now Disability is a different matter but that’s not, strictly speaking social security….


    That’s a different sports scandal. This was in Newport Harbor, CA and the coach’s name was Hirst. I googled Hirst and found several sources all virtually running the same inconclusive story.

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  44. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    beb, I should have phrased that differently — I don’t think SS will collapse, soonish or later. Just that if it did, it wouldn’t be at the end of years of smaller checks delivered with less frequency or reliability, which is the forecast offered up if we simply stand around and do nothing, going back to the pre-ACA landscape. Something big has to change, or the health care delivery system will continue to degrade.

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  45. beb said on March 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Agreed, someting has to change. I think ACA is horribly baby steps in that direction, but it’s also the best any president is going to get.

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  46. Jolene said on March 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Beb and Jeff, you are mixing up profit and overhead. The ACA specifies how much of an insurance company’s revenue must be spent on healthcare (I believe it’s either 80 or 85%). Presumably, how much they retain in profit after paying overhead is a function of how efficiently they operate, including how generous they are w/ their employees.

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  47. Sherri said on March 28, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I’ve long struggled with why business in this country has not pushed for something like Medicare for all, since health care is the biggest unpredictable expense most of them have, and one that makes them less competitive in a global marketplace. Then I remembered something I heard in my days working in Silicon Valley: companies seldom move further away from the CEO’s home.

    Health care expenses and insurance are the biggest, scariest unknown for all of the 99%, and even a big chunk of the 1%. But, for the high end of the 1%, where the CEO’s and the Masters of the Universe from Wall Street and the Kochs reside, the current system works fine. From their perspective, we do have the finest health care system in the world. Many of them seem to believe that health care is zero-sum; if we increase health care access to the great unwashed, it will come at their expense, and not necessarily in the form of higher taxes (though that would be bad enough.) They believe that drug companies might be less likely to develop new drugs (never mind how much money they’re currently spending on marketing), that they might have to wait for that MRI or that hip replacement (cue scare stories from Canada!), or in general, they might not get everything they want when they want it how they want it (death panels!). In other words, they don’t want to share, because there’s not enough to go around.

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  48. Jolene said on March 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I don’t think there’s a unified business perspective on the ACA, Sherri. I know that Wal-mart supported it. Does it provide particular advantages to employers w/ many part-time or low-wage employees? I don’t know.

    Most of the business-related opposition I’ve heard comes from small- to medium-size independent businesses, who may not be providing insurance now. I think many business leaders assume that the employer-based system will eventually fold, and there is good evidence that they are right.

    As Jeff said, the system is eroding, and we need to figure out an alternative. Given the number of countries that provide better care at lower cost, this really shouldn’t be the huge lift that it, in fact, seems to be.

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  49. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Brian Stouder quoting Dahlia Lithwick:

    shared responsibility, community, or real concern for those who don’t want anything so much as healthy children, or to be cared for when they are old.

    These assholes want to claim to be a Christian country? Isn’t that what Jesus said? Can one of those whited sepulchres answer that? Matthew 25:40. You despicable shitheels.

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  50. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    And this is my motto:


    I want all my money back from Paul Ryan I paid into SS and Medicare in a lump sum first, so I can give it to my daughter, so she can get rich like the Bushes and Romneys did. Fuck you all, you rich assholes that lived off me and the rest of the hoi polloi.

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  51. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Lawyer Guns and Money?

    How about the real deal:


    Even the boss was not better than this.

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  52. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Greatest guitar playing in human history:


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  53. Jeff Borden said on March 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Sherri @ 47,

    I’ve been saying this for awhile, too. Businesses large and small should have gotten behind a major national insurance plan guaranteeing coverage for everyone. In addition to avoiding the unpredictable costs, as you note, imagine the flurry of entrepreneurial activity if a man or woman could take their health insurance with them when they left a company.

    Ah well, so long as the ultra-wealthy are doing okay, I’m sure they’ll toss us proles a few scraps of stale bread now and then when they aren’t building 12,000-square-foot oceanfront mansions with separate elevators for their cars like Willard the Windsock is doing in La Jolla. Bastard hired a $21,500 lobbyist to make sure he got his way with the local zoning board, too.

    And this out-of-touch plutocrat who has never known a nervous day in his life is going to lead us? Sure.

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  54. brian stouder said on March 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Jeff Gill – You are a RINO, sir!!

    As recently as the last presidential election cycle, I’d have expended all sorts of energy arguing with you, all the while taking for granted that you are a thoughtful, informed, and involved proponent of various political and social opinions.

    Ultimately, such discussions are fuitless because, first, this is indeed why we hold elections. On an arbitrary date, we registered voters cast our ballots, and (ACORN skullduggery aside) whoever gets the most votes wins, and then those people govern (also arbitrarily, as it turns out).

    At the end of the day, thoughtful voters (such as yourself, and Joe too) are to be treasured, because if there are enough such people (on all sides) then the elected officials cannot – once they’re in the arena – take them for granted.

    All that said – if YOU were an elected Republican in this environment, I’d say that an expression of honest opinion like you made upthread (and as you always do) would cause you to be “primaried” post-haste; and/or third-partied in November, and/or disowned outright by the loudest (and most well-monied) Republicans.

    You’re writing has the ‘lean and hungry look’; you think too much!

    Aside from that – Beb is right; The Predator State by Galbraith is an excellent book! We have a copy that he inscribed to Shelby (our 13 year old) from when I dragged her to his lecture at IPFW a year ort wo ago

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  55. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Brian Stouder, I know you are too smart to buy into that ACORN bulshit, That didn’t happen and everybody knows it. ACORN turned in the phony names and nobody was registered falsely. These are facts. Breitbart notwithstanding,

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  56. David C. said on March 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    I used to get irritated at McConnell until someone, I think The Rude Pundit, said he looked like a shriveled dick wearing a toupee. I still hate him, but now I laugh instead of getting my blood pressure up.

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  57. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Nah, Mitch is as obnoxious as all of his chins. And his wife is in the order of succession. Fuck ’em, these assholes do not believe in America.

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  58. brian stouder said on March 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Prospero – re acorn, indeed! It was a weak attempt at irony* (or was it a weak attempt at sarcasm?) on my part

    *irony because indeed, I agree wholeheartedly that the 2000 election was essentially stolen; and I agree half-heartedly that the 2004 presidential election was purloined; and the flying monkies of the right-wing airwaves have the audacity to screech and howl about skulduggery by….ACORN?

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  59. Minnie said on March 28, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Prospero @52: Amen. I had the amazing fortune to see Richard Thompson in a club in Jackson, Mississippi, in the summer of 2002. Just him, his guitars, and his amp. Most intense musical experience I’ve ever had.

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  60. Prospero said on March 28, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Brian: The ACORN fracas was purely bullshit. Minnie: Richard Thompson shares with me great guitar skills and being the ex of an almost perfect woman, I would love to have seen that show. I did see the Boss in ’73 at the Jersey shore, Spirits in the Night. And DavidC. I think Mitch looks like a prematurely spent condom.

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  61. Dexter said on March 28, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    LA Mary: I heard on the radio today that Frank McCourt gets to keep two Dodger parking lots along with his two billion dollars walking money.
    You, and J-Bo in Chicago shell out the most for gasoline, and now I find out that Dodger parking is $50 per game, per parking spot.

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  62. Linda said on March 28, 2012 at 10:00 pm


    I’m puzzled by the idea that letting the free market work better, without distortions, would fix the largest problems in health insurance. The problem is that health insurance is really not like most other businesses, in that having more customers is not necessarily what insurers aim for, and every customer is really not like every other. Because private insurers have profit as their ultimate goal, there is a real incentive to not insure large groups of people–the old, and/or the chronically ill, or to create premiums that are simply unaffordable. People like my late mom, who was a diabetic for over 40 years, with congestive heart failure and renal failure, are flat-out uninsurable by private insurers. If it were not for Medicare, she would not have had insurance for the last 20 years of her life–which means she would probably not had the last 20 years of her life. I’ve dodged the diabetes bullet so far, but given my family history, I’m not looking for that to happen forever.

    And sorry, I’m irked by the assertion that Reid and McConnell are equal peas in a pod. I’m sorry, but the Dems actually try to solve problems, whether you agree with their methods or not. McConnell’s quote that his “number one priority is making Obama a one-term president” is despicable–grabbing power back is NOT the most important priority in a country in an economic depression. I defy you to say that when Reagan or either of the Bushes were in power, that the Dem’s number one priority was blocking everything they did. The Dems ain’t perfect, but they care about governing, as opposed to ruling.

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  63. coozledad said on March 28, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Linda: You wonder if the Republicans get their way, if there’ll be an “economic threshold” for sterilization, or legalized homicide in gated communities. They’re fucking warped. I’m sick of one of the major parties talking like Jack Palance and the press mushmouthing it as a justifiable rebuke to what? The enlightentment?
    I don’t give Obama enough props, because he’s not nearly left as me. For example, I would have posted the Gannon Guckert Karl Rove GWB John Ashcroft leather fetish piss extravaganza tapes on a big screen behind the inaugural podium. But I am a small man, concerned with small things.

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  64. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Linda, show me the Senate Dems budget. From this year, or last year, or the year before.


    Hey, Brian, it’s not my profile pic, but it probably should be:


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  65. beb said on March 28, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t budgets required to originate in the House? Where have the house budgets been? Hell, the house can’t even agree on a highway bill. It’s been two years of continuing resolutions.

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  66. coozledad said on March 29, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Oooh. I just hate it when the mild mannered one is forced to get all bristly. It makes me wonder if an angel is really beating off for Cokie Roberts in heaven.

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  67. moe99 said on March 29, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Health care is not like a business because its goal is to treat sick and injured people, not to make money (which they can only do by limiting access to healthcare). Matthew Yglesias gives a damn good primer on it:


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  68. Linda said on March 29, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Hey Jeff, the GOP found Obama’s budget just long enough to reject it. But they have a tough time finding the “replace” part in “repeal and replace.”

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  69. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 29, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Huh? Who’s bristly? Oh, you mean the rhino pic.

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  70. Prospero said on March 29, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Fact of the matter is every civilized country provides health care to it’s citizens for far less money than the exceptional USA provides to some of its citizens. The rich get stellar care, the poor, not so much. People elsewhere live longeer. Babies (the post-born that is) die in infancy here more.

    And Linda,on the money about Harry and Mitch. And where do these aholes get off with “repeal and repace”? With what? RMoneycare? OOOOhhhkay. The Heritage Foundation invented the health care mandate you fracking assholes.

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