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101  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Knowing what you know now, would you have voted for ObamaCare.... on: January 08, 2017, 11:53:17 am
This is what I said in the old Romneycare thread that I bumped a few days ago. It's also relevant here:

I've been combing through old threads on the Affordable Care Act as I come to terms with the lawís looming repeal. If you're not clear on the political and policy details of this debate, Al, Sam Spade, and Mr. Moderate's posts are a good place to start - much of their commentary, half a decade old at this point, now looks disturbingly prescient. There might be others whom I have missed.

Most posters, even some of our best, come off as embarrassing hacks who know how to parrot the right lines and take the right cues, but ultimately without any real understanding of the subject.

What amazes me most in retrospect is how little interest most of us showed in the post-implementation politics of the law. We seem to have assumed that as long as we enacted it, voters would quickly get attached to it and that by the time Republicans could remove it, they would not dare to interfere.

Interesting how differently things turned out. How so many of us implicitly de-emphasized or outright ignored the criticisms that would become most important because we were too focused on ridiculing troglodytic demagoguery about "death panels" and so on.
102  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Knowing what you know now, would you have voted for ObamaCare.... on: January 08, 2017, 11:41:35 am
Let me add a few other thoughts in terms of what the law accomplished:

At least three major aspects of the law justify calling it an improvement over the status quo: Guaranteed issue (and further guarantees that your insurance would actually cover the care that you needed), the Medicaid expansion, and improved access to reproductive health care.

We are likely to lose the latter two in any Republican reform package - in fact, there's a good chance that both will be worse off than they were prior to 2010 by the time Paul Ryan's caucus and Trump's administration are through with them.

I think you have to ask, if with ~10 years of the ACA's passage Medicaid is a block grant program with premiums or work requirements in most states, was it worth an expansion in the program that lasted for only a few years? This is where the Indiana model ("HIP 2.0") would lead us.

I think you also have to ask, on the same timescale, if primary and preventive care for reproductive health are less available to most women in this country in 2020 than they were in 2010, was it worth an expansion that lasted a few years? This is what Trump campaigned on, and this is what Paul Ryan has outlined.

As for expanded insurance coverage, the main result has been protecting people from medical bankruptcy and moving costs around in a way that probably helps a lot of hospitals that serve the poorest Americans. (Reliable access to meaningful primary care is less clear.) This is a good thing, and it's more difficult to understand how Republicans will address this when they repeal the law. Unfortunately, it's also not clear that the law is really sustainable in this sense, either, given what is happening in the health insurance marketplaces.

Obviously the law contains many other provisions e.g. relating to value-based payments, quality improvement, etc. It's immensely complex and entirely possible that something disastrous will happen as a result of repeal that no one is expecting right now. There's no real way around this given how the law was passed.
103  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Knowing what you know now, would you have voted for ObamaCare.... on: January 08, 2017, 11:30:10 am
No, I would not vote for the Affordable Care Act knowing what I know now.

I would actively lobby against it among fellow Democrats while pushing for a series of at least three simpler programs comprising the Medicaid expansion, some kind of hospital-centered catastrophic coverage for the uninsured and underinsured, and primary care for reproductive health.

I would have done this with no illusions: I doubt that any of it would have passed, and undoubtedly anyone who sided with me would have become a political pariah. But before anyone chastises me over this, keep in mind that this would have had as much to do with Obama and the Democratic leaderships as it did with the Republicans or checks and balances.

The law achieved a great deal. We talk about coverage gains, but it's easy to lose sight of just how dysfunctional and horrifying the system of private health insurance was in this country before the law was passed. That said, it was a mess of pandering to rent-seeking interests across the entire US health care system, idiotic procedural wrangling induced by our dysfunctional federal legislature, and compromises for the sake of washed-out Blue Dog Dems who mostly lost anyway, perhaps because the opaque debacle made them look even worse than voting for a much more robust set of reforms would have.

In short, it was politically achievable, but it was not politically sustainable. And my guess is that our healthcare system will look worse by the end of the first Trump administration than it did in 2010.

In retrospect, I am more firmly convinced that the private insurance market should have been left alone, with federal programs taking as much slack as possible. The problems with what private insurance has evolved into in this country are too complex and too politically fraught to solve within the ACA's "model," insofar as it is a coherent model and not just a grab-bag of reforms to improve coverage and reduce costs.
104  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Why are working class whites so often defined as "whites without a degree?" on: January 06, 2017, 03:32:21 pm
There isn't a perfect measure for class, but I don't see why can't surveys can't have questions for occupation.  Or something like the NRS social grade in the UK.

These data exist in the United States, but it's not all that easy to make sense of the Census/BLS occupation and income categories.
105  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Study: ObamaCare repeal would cost $350 billion on: January 05, 2017, 11:50:41 pm
The CBO also said full repeal would cost about $350 billion over 10 years

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/obamacare-repeal-congressional-budget-office-deficit-119228

How well did the CBO cost and savings projections for ACA implementation pan out?
106  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: The Bronz Landfill for Absurd, Ignorant, Bigoted and Just Plain Awful Posts VI on: January 05, 2017, 11:15:55 pm

This technocratic obsession with "competence" and "qualification" as the being most crucial criterion in choosing political leadership, as if politics is nothing but a managerial job - as opposed to, you know, a question of choosing between values, ideas and models of society. This is one of the most insidious ideological tools for the promotion of neoliberalism.
Not a bad post.
Yeah, this really doesn't belong here.

What are you talking about? Isn't this the thread for when you disagree with a post with but can't think of anything decent to say in response?

I've long looked at a post in this thread as an admission of defeat. Most reposts here that don't fit my description - the ones that are genuinely heinous, stupid, or otherwise out-of-bounds - would be better off ignored entirely, or, less frequently, posted in the comedy thread where we can appreciate them as unintentional humor.
107  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Why did Hillary Clinton swing towards an extreme pro-abortion position? on: January 05, 2017, 11:04:43 pm
There's a pithy line out there about how referring to public universities as free college or public health insurance as free health care is like referring to a Navy aircraft carrier as a free warship.

The entire "free stuff" bit  always came across as not just confused but bizarre. It's an attack that substitutes semantic judo for a substantive point, like a bargain-bin version of Anselm's ontological argument that somehow made its way into contemporary US politics.
108  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: States to require tax returns made public for future Presidential ballot access on: January 05, 2017, 10:54:00 pm
Great, I guess. Any chance of getting similar legislation for statewide office and legislative elections in the same states, or is this just hypocrisy and inanity?
109  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: What is your opinion of Obama's performance as President? on: January 05, 2017, 10:46:41 pm
That description was not in reference to Lief, and I'm still struggling to understand your point.
110  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Study: ObamaCare repeal would cost $350 billion on: January 05, 2017, 10:33:26 pm
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A full repeal of Obamacare would cost $350 billion over the next decade,

oh Jesus

Quote
according to a new analysis from the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

...hahahahaha, this bullsh**t factory again? First they were a front for tobacco lobbying, then a leading promoter of Grand Bargain anti-Social Security propaganda, and now this?

ACA repeal will of course have dramatic and possibly disastrous financial consequences for hospitals, insurers, state Medicaid programs, and the federal government, among others. Whatever form it takes.

That said, as a general rule: When the headline is a comically large number rather than anything to do with whatever change will generate that kind of loss, it's generally not worth taking seriously. As for the Committee for a Responsible Budget, the rest of us would be better off if every current and former board member were loaded on to a well-provisioned barge and floated straight to Svalbard on the Gulf Current.
111  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Philly SHOCKED that new large soda tax is hurting consumers on: January 05, 2017, 10:19:17 pm
I find it funny that the collectivists are accusing the individualists of being triggered when it is the former group that is offended by the very idea that people should be allowed to make their own bad decisions.

This is an exceedingly strange formulation. There's nothing transgressive about drinking soda or fruit juice, it's just bad for your health. Policies that result in people doing less of it might be good, depending on their other drawbacks and benefits.

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You don't get to sit here and lecture people about how you think you know what is better for others.

I feel an overwhelming urge to point out that I'm free to lecture anyone on this forum as much as I like unless the moderators choose to stop me, but that would be taking you too literally. I think.

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Again, that is why Trump won in the first place.

This is the new equivalent of whipping out your penis in the midst of an argument. You've distracted from whatever point is at stake and reminded us all of something horrible, but it's not clear why you've done it or whether you're OK.

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Stop treating everyone as if you are the intelligent ones and they are the stupid ones. That type of intellectual arrogance is devastating for democracy and for freedom.

If you feel like you're being treated like an idiot, that speaks more to your self-confidence than what anyone here has said to you.

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FTR: I have virtually cease drinking soda as not drinking it has helped me keep my sugar low (thankfully, I haven't had a serious health care, but I've had a few incidents in the past where it was running a little high) I also stopped eating pork for religious and health reasons and also cut down on my beef intake over the past 2 years (though, its gone up a bit since November). I made these decisions on my own, because I am free to make those decisions.

Good for you. No one should be under any illusions about what the "choice engineering" or "libertarian paternalism" of policies like soda taxes can accomplish. People need intrinsic motivation to make meaningful and sustained improvements in their well-being. Which makes the increases that this country has seen over the past decade in rates of obesity, drug overdoses, binge drinking, and suicide particularly disturbing. These aren't just a matter of the usual frailty of human will, they reflect a widespread sense of meaninglessness, loneliness, purposelessness, and diminished self-care.

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However, I still drink a lot alcohol, still eat a crapload of unhealthy foods  and have gained a ton of weight. are you going to try and force me to change those behaviors?

I support policies that would encourage you and everyone else, including me, to do less of those things and more of other things that are better for us.

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If your answer is yes then you truly think you are on a higher plateau then us "little people" and don't believe in any sort of freedom in any real sense of the term.

Geologically speaking, it's a cuesta. Either way, its maximum elevation is only at about two thousand feet. I am sure that many other posters live at higher elevations. And, personally, I'm fairly small, falling just below the 20th percentile in height for men of my age in the United States and at about the 5th percentile for weight. Definitely one of the little people.
112  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Philly SHOCKED that new large soda tax is hurting consumers on: January 05, 2017, 09:50:36 pm
A tip toe is a small step, friend.  We are trying to use the government to weed out those we find undesirable (obviously not in the fashion of killing them or stopping them from breeding but rather by changing them to our liking), and our rationale is that they're costing us money?  Or, more accurately, that they could?  New tangent, but why don't we tax tanning beds, alcohol, motorcycles, unsafe cars, amusement parks or anything else that might result in injury or health problems?  You could make a perfectly *logical* argument for a tax on any of them.  This is where I have become a little more "socially conservative" in the last year, for lack of better term: I do believe there's a point where you just say, "alright guys, this is ridiculous and we aren't going to argue about it anymore; it's a societal norm."  I think being able to enjoy the type of soda you want should be viewed as something it's unbelievably weird and stupid to try to regulate, and it shouldn't even be argued.

I would support taxes on all of those things under the right circumstances.

To be clear, sin taxes are not all that great; they create bad incentives in public budgeting because they tend to make government revenue dependent on people doing bad things, and in the long run you're not improving anyone's well-being unless they have some intrinsic motivation for improving their behavior. But in general I look favorably on policies that make it more difficult, less convenient, or more costly to indulge in unhealthy behaviors. Or, conversely, policies that make it easier, cheaper, or less costly to do healthy things. So, where sin taxes are politically practicable, they are worth considering.
113  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2020 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Should the Democratic Party nominate an activist instead of a politician? on: January 05, 2017, 08:44:52 pm
Why does this thread ask about nominating an "activist" and go on to list people who are mostly known as celebrity entertainers?

It doesn't matter that they are celebrities. They're activists. Donald Trump was a activist against illegal immigration on the Right and he won.

Prior to 2015 Donald Trump was a media personality and real estate heir who dabbled in conspiracy theories for attention. Describing him as an "activist" implies a multitude of things about him that are, in fact, false. He was a wealthy and influential celebrity whose asinine pontificating received rapt attention from the national media in situations where most of us would just get nasty glares from patrons at the next table. The best analogy for him on the Democratic side would be another full-of-himself, attention-seeking billionaire bullsh**tter who thinks that he knows better than the rest of us. Maybe a Warren Buffett, or a Mark Cuban, or a Mark Zuckerburg. All of whom the Democratic Party would be better off publicly disavowing than running for any office higher than town historian.
114  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Gubernatorial/Statewide Elections / Re: New York City mayoral election, 2017 thread on: January 05, 2017, 07:01:29 pm
The speculation is getting picked up by major Republican-affiliated media outlets like InfoWars, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Breitbart, and IB Times but other than a vague tip-off from a local rumor monger there doesn't appear to be anything to it yet.
115  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Have you gotten snow yet this season? on: January 05, 2017, 06:52:21 pm
About two feet today, with more on the way overnight and tomorrow.



Today was my first snow day in a couple of years. Enjoyed the time out of the office but wasn't able to make much of it. Most of the day was the kind of whiteout in which you can get lost in your own front yard.
116  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: How would you describe the previous poster's ideology? on: January 05, 2017, 06:42:09 pm
Ezra Klein-style liberal
117  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2020 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Should the Democratic Party nominate an activist instead of a politician? on: January 05, 2017, 06:38:46 pm
Why does this thread ask about nominating an "activist" and go on to list people who are mostly known as celebrity entertainers?
118  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Philly SHOCKED that new large soda tax is hurting consumers on: January 05, 2017, 06:28:25 pm
Drinking less of those unhealthy drinks isn't hurting them.

It is none of either of your business...

It is when we have to pay for the added health cost. Internalize the externality.
Yes, that contradicts what I said earlier, but it's just upsetting about how regressive it is.

If we try to tax away fat or unhealthy people, I am of the opinion that we are tip toeing toward eugenic thought.

     I find it a little concerning that people are provided with benefits at taxpayer expense and those benefits are then used as an impetus to control consumption.

People will be provided with some kind of health benefit at someone else's expense unless you literally reject the maimed and dying at the emergency department door, though. Public health is a basic government function, and frequently that entails encouraging people to behave differently.

This is what I mean what I talked about this being a triggering discussion for so many people. RINO Tom is actually comparing the soda tax to eugenics!

I appreciate the point that dead0man is making. These policies are alienating, bureaucratic, and typically aimed at the poor and disempowered. Middle class behaviors associated with health risks rarely face the same kind of censure. And I don't actually like soda taxes that much, but in the midst of the politics and culture of the United States in 2016 I see few other compelling ideas for addressing these problems. Obesity will overtake tobacco as the leading cause of premature death in this country within the next decade, it disproportionately affects poor and black Americans, and soda is a major culprit.

So I can't help being enthusiastic about anything that reduces soda consumption. The tradeoff is worthwhile. I would prefer to live in a country in which slightly fewer children have rotten teeth, in which slightly fewer people die premature deaths due to cardiovascular disease, and in which fewer people live with diabetes. What are conservatives and libertarians offering as alternatives?
119  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Philly SHOCKED that new large soda tax is hurting consumers on: January 05, 2017, 06:01:04 pm
Meanwhile the expensive coffees enjoyed by many of the culturally elite lefties does not face a similar price bump.

Coincidence?

(Awaiting "omg but muh venti iced pumpkin spice latte iz much healthier than a diet coke. Stupid poors!")

Nah, those syrup drinks are unhealthful garbage and deserve to be taxed too. Drinking a latte isn't really "elite behavior," though. There's a Starbucks in almost every automobile slum in this country.

There are good reasons to focus on soda, like Crabcake mentions - it's easier to specify which drinks are taxed, it's the largest category of sugary drinks, it's what children are most likely to consume. But there are also bad reasons, and you're right, the fact that it's politically easier to target unhealthy behaviors that are more common among poor Americans is one of them.

Are not sugar fee sodas (you know the "diet" ones), equally taxed?  Yeah, I know, those cause cancer and you will die a horrible death from them, but I digress. Anyway, this sugar thing seems like a stalking horse for deflection in my mind. But set me straight!

My nutritionist friends tell me that the real worry with diet sodas is the changes that they may cause to your gut bacteria. It's also unclear how some artificial sweeteners affect your risk level for diabetes. The empty calories are a problem, even if nothing else is: Diet soda consumption is still associated with long-term weight gain.

I'm not sure what a "stalking horse for deflection" means, unless you're starting a metal band. I'm not all that familiar with this particular instance of the policy. The list of affected drinks appears to be much broader than most of our discussion implies, and includes almost all common sugary drinks. The "soda tax" epithet seems to be a label of convenience more than anything.
120  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Philly SHOCKED that new large soda tax is hurting consumers on: January 05, 2017, 05:36:29 pm
Meanwhile the expensive coffees enjoyed by many of the culturally elite lefties does not face a similar price bump.

Coincidence?

(Awaiting "omg but muh venti iced pumpkin spice latte iz much healthier than a diet coke. Stupid poors!")

Nah, those syrup drinks are unhealthful garbage and deserve to be taxed too. Drinking a latte isn't really "elite behavior," though. There's a Starbucks in almost every automobile slum in this country.

There are good reasons to focus on soda, like Crabcake mentions - it's easier to specify which drinks are taxed, it's the largest category of sugary drinks, it's what children are most likely to consume. But there are also bad reasons, and you're right, the fact that it's politically easier to target unhealthy behaviors that are more common among poor Americans is one of them.
121  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Philly SHOCKED that new large soda tax is hurting consumers on: January 05, 2017, 04:24:49 pm
Oh, and reformed alcoholics. I forgot about reformed alcoholics. They drink soda too.

Forgive the hyperbole in this thread, but I can't help finding it amusing how easily triggered people are by this issue. Sugary drinks - including most alcoholic beverages - are a serious public health problem in the United States and just one of many examples of how our culture is completely unable to tell people that it is bad to indulge too much in certain things because they hurt other people or our future selves.
122  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Philly SHOCKED that new large soda tax is hurting consumers on: January 05, 2017, 04:20:00 pm
Drinking less of those unhealthy drinks isn't hurting them.

You don't get to tell people what is or isn't good for them. Enjoying losing in 2020 for the same reasons you lost in 2016 Smiley

Thing is, most people accept tobacco taxes as a useful source of revenue nowadays. There really is no logical reason to claim soda taxes are intolerable attacks on freedom, yet ciggy taxes are a necessity.

That's because most voters believe that cigarettes are for deviants, while soda is just for children, designated drivers, and really lame parties.
123  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Philly SHOCKED that new large soda tax is hurting consumers on: January 05, 2017, 04:18:19 pm
Drinking less of those unhealthy drinks isn't hurting them.

You don't get to tell people what is or isn't good for them. Enjoying losing in 2020 for the same reasons you lost in 2016 Smiley

There's not much getting around that when your opposition is the Have Your Cake and Eat It Too Party.

Don't worry, national Democrats are far too feckless to run hard against against things that are popular but bad, like extended cab pickups, motorcycles, football, cable television, three-car garages, soda, steak, tax cuts, cheap gas, private universities, or not paying for health insurance.
124  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Philly SHOCKED that new large soda tax is hurting consumers on: January 05, 2017, 04:13:36 pm
That's the thing though - when you start to rely for revenue on a product that you ideally want to discourage, you end up with an unfortunate side-effect...

(Not that I oppose these laws, although granted I haven't seen enough evidence for full frontal support).

Yeah, ideally you'd burn the money on live television or something like that.
125  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Philly SHOCKED that new large soda tax is hurting consumers on: January 05, 2017, 04:10:49 pm
Anyone who believed that this wouldn't affect soda prices was drinking a lot of something else.

Great news for people of Philadelphia, though, who will be drinking less poison water and lowering their risks for cavities, heart disease, and diabetes, among other things. If I could get a $5 per bottle tax on soda where I live, I would want it.
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