21 January 2010

A continued theme of voter stupidity and incuriousness

A Health care bill that covers pre-existing conditions

Somehow won't cover pre-existing conditions at all according to the public, particularly people who were opposed to the bill. Many of the economic, cost side, considerations are a matter of degree or based upon what types, if any, of insurance someone has. It is arguably true for many people that "out-of-pocket" costs may be increased. Especially assuming that one includes the price of insurance itself as an out-of-pocket cost, which it is, and for some people will definitely increase, especially if they carry no insurance at all by choice or their employer presently but will not continue to subsidize the cost, and almost certainly won't simultaneously increase their paid wages. (As an aside, Wyden-Bennett did require them to do so. I shall now slap myself repeatedly before lighting myself on fire to escape the stupidity.) Just as it is obviously true that many people who presently have less useful insurance or expensive health conditions will probably see those costs diminish substantially (though not if they have expensive prescriptions since they did nothing about the drug importation ban as a sellout to drug companies. The clear winner of the bill that now appears was defeated was Big Pharma, the public good came in somewhere around 4th or 5th, depending on how much you think insurers got screwed or got paid off). But while that cost/benefit analysis is an argument that will have empirical data available to test it only after the bill were to be passed to verify these opinions, it was still obvious that if you had a pre-existing medical condition the bill was so awesome as to be cake and ice cream all at once; because insurers were forced to take you into their fold. And yet the public disagreed with this critical selling point that was a fact. That only 40% were aware of this is not a promising sign. I have to wonder what people were basing their support for the bill on if not that provision and this probably explains why the individual mandate has become so unpopular. Because it doesn't look like people are aware of the trade-off (that your insurance would be way the fuck more expensive because the "only" people who will be insured are people who are sick if there's no requirement to carry insurance). This isn't because people aren't weighing the trade-off properly on the cost side. It's because they don't seem to be aware they are receiving a possible and important benefit at all. If the argument is that people are opening their eyes to the bill, statistical facts like this are making that thesis look like the ranting of an insane person. I don't even need to get into the ability to keep or find insurance if you lose and change jobs as another empirical benefit of the bill itself. People are no better informed than they were months ago. They just decided that this bill was bad and included not benefits at all because there were key optics tests that it failed "we're buying off Nebraska or unions" or some such.

One other health care polling fact I found amusing was that older people, who were overwhelmingly reliant on public health care for their coverage, were overwhelmingly in favor of "private insurers" to make decisions about that coverage. I can make two conclusions about that statement. Either Medicare is a publicly traded corporation now or it apparently royally sucks. The most likely conclusion I will instead draw is that old people, just like everyone else, are terribly misinformed about government activities and are in fact deliberately ignorant.

More polling silliness.

I cannot say I am surprised that people reliably want more security than liberty, especially in the wake of a failed plot to attack them. We radical civil libertarians/pro-terrorist supporters are a rare bunch. But do the 74% who favor full body scanners have any idea what they're asking for (ie, a product that doesn't work to detect the types of attacks and explosives being used at present by our terrorist infiltrators)? The only saving grace is that the 18-29 year old demographic was the most opposed or least in favor of it, but not by much (Liberal Democratics being other the heavily "opposed" group).

Another point of amusement, Obama has basically left almost the entire Bush security architecture from 2006-2008 in place (especially true in terms of actual foreign policy actions and the military command apparatus). And yet Republicans have this 46% plurality that claims we are less safe? From what cause? The 47% of Democrats who think we are more safe also begs some questioning. Cairo was a nice speech. I don't think anybody in the Arabic/Muslim world thinks yet that it has been backed up by anything solid. Therefore, it's really hard to empirically argue we are "safer". And for civil liberties freaks like me, the argument that we are "safer" also includes the cost of being searched and detained by authorities or my communications, personal information, and online activity seized, without cause or warrant, in the quest to make other people feel safer. I don't feel any safer because the policies still exist to infringe upon my liberties at whim. Fuck off if you think otherwise. You are wrong. That is a cost both in financial and moral terms. I'd like to know what the benefit I am receiving for it is. It is not "I am safer from terrorists" because the reality is that I was already so enormously safe from terrorists to the point of being at much greater dangers from drivers of cars, bees, ragweed, infectious diseases, even regular old traditional airplane crashes before anybody enacted new and expansive policies dedicated to protecting little old me from terrorists. Please show your work if you think that microscopic security benefit in a peculiar, particular, and unlikely area of life was, and still is, worth imposing significant costs to hundreds of millions of people.
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