The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 10th, 2009
1) What’s not debated enough, and today’s exchange with Chrystia Freeland and Steve Forbes highlighted this, is the economic concept of the public good. There are items that cannot be managed in the nation’s collective best interest by the free market. I for one believe that the Unites States and opponents of health care reform have no business claiming our health care system and the free market have anything to do with one another. But if it’s not a free market and its not nationalized what is it? Its 50 monopolies empowered by anti trust exclusion and a catacomb of government subsidies and legal loopholes designed by the insurers themselves with a common theme. Tell me where you have heard this before?: We will cover the collective health of the United States provided you legally allow us to minimize risk and hand that risk over to the government, while we provide service only where profitable. The US financial system maybe?
If you want to have the free market involved in the health care debate, you have to first put every non market interference, and I mean every single one, on the chopping block, or it’s not a free market. If you want to claim we can’t afford health care reform, you have to explain how we can afford to only pay into a system without receiving a nickel back, as it currently is. I would stand in support of a free market solution if and only if it aims to not just catch up with the free world, but to pass it. There could be an absolutely open market, with transparent costs viewable in completion from the patient through the doctor. No one talks about how there are currently two sets of prices, the negotiated rate a doctor gets from an insurer and what the amount billed to an individual. In my most recent personal case involving the birth of my second child, that amount was $32,000 billed to me as an individual vs. $14,500 paid by my insurer via an “insurer negotiated rate”. We all know that $17,500 difference causes more personal bankruptcies in America than anything else, yet provably its funny money. A free market system would allow all parties to see all rates and choose the right rate in all cases. The chief difference this would make is that it would dismantle important barriers to entry for new insurers at the micro economic level.
Currently, however, the United States is politically incapable of real solutions outside of certain centrist boundaries. We are bound by fear and fringe. The health care reform as it is, is as close as we will come to real change in our lifetimes. The tweaks that happen between now and a senate vote will really just be “get it done” tweaks, but the average citizen will hold out hope that once in place it will revise itself based on empirical real time evidence to a workable national solution with common goals: universal access (not coverage), self sustainability, and improved results, all public goods.
2) The debate over the recruiting practices of the US Military was so 2005 it was laughable. One side says she has proof that the recruiters will manipulate every situation to get more bodies regardless of qualification, the other side says he’s comfortable that recruiters will manipulate every situation to get more bodies in the military regardless of qualification. That’s not a debate, that’s argumentative bluster that adds nothing to the current situation.
Currently, 75% of military age citizens don’t meet qualifications to join the armed forces. Currently one in five Americans are not employed. Those two facts are enough to date the argument we heard today and move the conversation forward to 2009. One concept that has to be out there in second stimulus land is the use of military service to put some segment of America back to work. I believe you can add a non combat segment to the military, complete with commensurate pay grades that accomplishes two goals: lowers the number of non qualified persons by enlisting them to sub-category service while they re-qualify, and lowers the national unemployment figure by taking the bottom end of the market off of the market. It may sound expensive, but were talking stimulus here and if we are cracking on Nancy Pelosi for sausage making in the first stimulus, and there is an understandable whole market effect here, it has to be considered. Or you could just give the entire amount of the first stimulus to Haliburton, but we’ve already tried that.
3) Ed Shulze and Barney Frank wasted everyone’s time twice now and that debate was not newsworthy enough for an MJ appearance. Barney Frank had nothing to say last night, when I watched the exchange in real time, but did that thing that politicians seemingly do with impunity: defended his absolute failure as a legislator with indignation. Look, what being in the center left means to me is pretty conservative financial tendencies, and pretty progressive social tendencies. In the financial markets, I’m more with Dylan Ratigan that there is no sheriff currently and we will wake up sometime soon and face nationalization all over again to reclaim assets that have been removed from public trust and placed in private hands. That sounds like commie-talk I know, but it stems from the inability of anyone in any camp to truly step up and show strong leadership of the free market financial system. Do the math, your money is going to China and Japan at a rate of 100 billion dollars a week right now. When we are taking those loans, what are we buying with the money? We are buying our budget that is 50% consumed by our wars, our financial bailout, which dollar for dollar we will get less than 35% of that money back, and interest on our debts. That 65% unrecouped financial bailout money far exceeds the national defense budget. There are mansions lining Connecticut and Central Park being bought and sold for 65 million dollars apiece while 1 in 5 of us are out of work. The money being poured into the financial system is not being used to fund domestic growth, the workforce benefiting from the solvency of the banking system is Chinese. This can’t go on forever and while this may seem like a run on paragraph, none of this was covered in the banter between Ed Schulze and Barney Frank, displaying little or no concept of what they face.
See you tomorrow, put a webcast of the townhall meeting up.