Monday, August 24

And here I am.

There have been some developments in Stoverland, one of which is that my day job and I have finally parted company on a (semi-)permanent basis, which leaves me giving writing my full attention for the first time since 1996. This is a good thing on one front -- having two tie-ins to deliver before the end of the year, and His Father's Fist not long after that -- and I am producing fiction at something like quadruple my usual rate.

On nearly every other front, it's a bad thing -- unless some miracle happens and I sell a movie . . . and Congress really does pass a health care reform bill that includes a robust public option.

And, in a side note to all those people who actually, in the face of all evidence, still believe that "The public option is just a socialist plot to destroy private health care" and "Obama wants to kill my grandmother," I'd just like to say,



There. I feel better.

The public option, in point of fact, exists for people like me. I cannot get private insurance coverage at any price. Believe me: I've tried. My state does have a "high-risk pool," to which I can apply at roughly double the normal private rate, once my already-overpriced COBRA coverage expires.

So . . . anybody know someone looking to hire an artist-in-residence or a freelance writer or editor or other paying job remotely related to my field and is willing to interview a surly undisciplined sub-genius with chronic health problems?


Archseraphim said...

I suppose immigration to the UK is out of the question?

Lestack said...

As usual, sir, you say it better than I ever could, and challenge me to try to improve how I say it.

Here's hoping the Dems look in their jackets and find something they've been missing since the mid-60s - their fucking spines.

Nick said...

I'll be your sponsor to come live in Aus. We have nice weather and great coffee. Oh, and public health.

Jay Lee said...

And reasons like this is why the whole health insurance industry needs to go away.

You need Health CARE not Health Insurance.

MWS said...

I dream of emigrating to the UK.

I can't speak on Australia, having never been there. How does this sponsor business work, anyway?

Ben said...

I definitely agree with you on healthcare. Neil Gaiman mostly writes movies for the health insurance ( I hope we can pass it with a public option intact.

Lestack said...

Hell, Matt, I'll sponsor you for getting kicked out of the country if it means you get to, you know, LIVE. :P

PS can someone sponsor me? I'm significantly less valuable in creative scales but ... hm, trying to think of a reason someone WOULD sponsor me to leave :P

D. Boots said...

Wow that was a fast reply. Sorry to hear your out of work sorta kinda. Glad to hear your books are coming along well. By any chance do you have a projected release date for "His Father's Fist"? "Caine Black Knife" was was a great build up and I cant wait to see what happens.

Best of luck to your health and your job hunting and thanks for the update.

Geemoney said...

Like Nick said, there are an embarassing number of other countries you could go to, have the same quality of life, and get way, way better coverage. I live in Germany, and yes, the taxes suck, but sweet jeebus is the health care easy and good. If you don't want to move as far as Australia, I am sure that Canada would be happy to have you, and I hear they have pretty great health care.

pws said...

Amen, and amen. My wife has had brain cancer, radiation and surgery. It bankrupted us, even with insurance. We couldn't get private insurance that we could afford under any circumstances. I'm getting ready to live five hours away mostly just so we can keep our insurance.
Don't just post or comment here - call your representatives and senator if you live in the states. A health care bill without a public options benefits only the insurance companies.

Joe said...

The really outrageous thing is all these Medicare-lovin' seniors cockblocking health care for the rest of us. It's nothing but "fuck you, I got mine (on the public dime)".

Fuckers aren't even going to be around long enough to deal with the national debt.

IlyaP said...

What Nick said, Matt. Come to Australia. You want to work as an editor or sub-editor or some such stuff? There are plenty of jobs in the legal-editing world open even for those who don't have a background in law.

And while the pay isn't the greatest, it's pretty much a guaranteed steady income.

And the weather is fantastic.

Chris said...

... unfortunately, Ilya's there. Ha.

I'll pimp you like a mo'fo whenever I get the chance, Matt. Alas, the next person I'm going to be seeing who I can really pimp you to is an actor on Hannah Montana on Saturday - I'd love to see you writing episodes for that, but it might not be quite up your street! That said, the eyes are always open. Like anyone who's read your work I'd imagine, I have no qualms in preaching to anyone who will god-damn listen about your talents.

Lestack said...

You know, I think I'd love to see a Stoverised episode of Hannah Montana.

Tim said...

Where Billy Ray rapes Hannah's friend and Miley winds up paralyzed from a spinal injury?

Knightfall1138 said...

Yeah, these death panel-loving crazies are nothing to empathize with. Like Bill Maher said, If you get injured protesting socialized healthcare, you have to lie there and bleed.

Seeing all this stuff just makes you want to write Caine Comes To America, huh?

WarlordGrego said...

Good to see you around again. Good to hear that you're working diligently on your tie ins and on HFF.

As far as the health-care issue...I do have issues with the current state of health care in the US. What I'd like to see is an expansion of state funded health programs.

For instance, I come from a poor family. My little sister is a minor, and is entitled to health coverage from the state of ohio. My parents, however, don't have coverage.

We have systems in place now, they just need to be expanded. We don't have to rewrite the book.

Why not just expand who they cover?

Nathan said...

Because, Grego, that would be socialism. Haven't you been paying attention?

In fact, America's being too weak on the dirty socialists already. Haven't you had enough of public police and volunteer firefighters? All these services should be private, for-profit industries, free to charge what they want for their services. You keep a lot of valuables in your house? Then you're not entitled to police response when someone breaks in. Don't keep a lot of valuables in your house? Then chances are you won't be able to afford the going rate for police protection anyway. Your home is on fire? Cough up ten thousand dollars and we'll get the bucket brigade going. Unless you've had a house fire before -- then you're no longer eligible for these services and deserve to be homeless.

Having lived through several years of government health coverage, I can say that, with one notable exception, it ran without a hitch and afforded me ample care. It was certainly a hell of a lot better than my current private coverage. There was still the basic problem that it only treated symptoms and wouldn't cover preventive measures, but that's a whole different fight.

Todd Michael Rogers said...

Hey Matt, did you see this Jacen from Traitor figure yet?:

Alex said...

Except for the part of being a "a surly undisciplined sub-genius" and the chronic health problems, I feel like I'm in the same boat as you: another eager writer desperate for a job in these dark times, with the unfortunate bonus of also being a recent college grad. But I have faith something'll come up for all us writers, one way or another.

And I completely agree that we need a public option right now. I have no problem with there being a health care debate if there was, you know, an ACTUAL debate instead of all the "town hollering" that the press likes to cover.

Anonymous said...

Tort reform? No, the trials lawyers own the Democrats.

Sell health insurance over state lines? Nope, then the government regulators would have less to do, and that would shrink the public sector.

Allow people to cherry-pick services they need? No way! Then people wouldn't be covering abortions and tranny surgery.

Ban crimmigrants from receiving healthcare they will never pay for? No way! They vote several times for us Democrats in every election!

Let doctors make their own arrangements for having patients pay? No way! That would run all those insurance companies out of business and put people back in control of their health plan!

I don't know what planet you are from, but there IS NO MONEY for you to steal to see a doctor. Stop working and get welfare if it's that critical to you.

It's a choice for you to make for you, not a choice for you to make for me. Get your damn hands off my wallet and my body.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Latino said...

Well reasoned argument. Fucking moron.

MWS said...

Hey, lookit that: a free-range nutjob.

Listen, Mr. North: If you actually have a usable brain in reasonably good condition, you're welcome here.

Bear in mind that I really do hope Blue Cross cancels your insurance right before your balls swell up bigger than your pointy head (etc.) -- but that's no reason to be uncivil, is it?

How did you even find this place? Did you Google-search "Where can I unfurl my malignant ignorance and attract inventive personal abuse?"

By the way (to the Anonymous who took the first opportunity to weigh in on Mr. North's cognitive deficit): it's not personal. I deleted your post because I try not to allow anonymous comments on my blog. That's all. Pick a handle and come on back.

Knightfall1138 said...

Well, there was bound to be one. With a debate like this, you're lucky that the majority was able to discuss in a polite manner.

Crimmigrants...What kind of bigot think tank decided that was clever? =O

Jason Rubenstein said...

Changing the subject not-ever-so-slightly, any chance of getting a tip-jar on the blog for those of us so inclined to throw money at artists?

Anonymous said...

Even South friggin' Korea (motto: we're like the USA without all that pesky oversight) has a public option. I used it earlier this year due to intestinal surgery. I was at the best hospital in the country for ten days with major surgery, and the total bill of $40000 came down to the equivalent of $5000. That's hard for a lot of people to pony up with, but it's not likely to bankrupt most people.

A secondary note: You often hear from rightwing blowhards about how much Canadians hate their health care system (I, in fact, have some beefs myself) but we voted Tommy Douglas, the Saskatchewan premiere who introduced Medicare and had to step over a lot of toes to do it, the greatest Canadian in history.

Also, we're totally allowed to pick our doctor and don't even have death camps. Ridiculous, I know.

Rick Smith said...

My only experience with government-run medical care was when we lived in Italy. It was simply awful. The facilities were in abysmal condition. The staff, doctors and nurses, were underpaid and just didn't give a shit. I am so glad to be living in the US now with decent health insurance and the best medical care in the world. I don't think we should change anything. The public option is dead. If you don't have health insurance then you need to be looking for a job that offers you decent coverage. Go get a manager trainee job at Burger King or Walmart. They have great coverage from what I hear. Just don't expect me to have to pay for your bad choices.

Frank Liszt said...

So, if I read you right, what you're saying is that because YOU can't get insurance, we should fuck up our entire economy?

If so, then FUCK YOU.

Anonymous said...

Yes, because government-run health care hasn't worked in, I dunno, every other advanced first world country ever?

Truly, the stalking doom of not killing your citizens will destroy you all.

Fergus said...

Hi America, Australia here. Never been to your lovely country, and even we are fully aware that your health system is crap.

Just wanted to point that out. Perhaps you should address it. All the best.

- The Land Down Under

IlyaP said...

The selfish attitude that says "stay the hell away from my wallet" is the wrong attitude. It's a tacit declaration that the rest of your fellow countrymen and women can go and rot.

And frankly, that's both incredibly selfish and somewhat recreant, as it's declaring that the problems and concerns of the rest of the nation and its people are of no concern. Which is patently false; if you live in a country - that you also, I should add, as a caveat, claim to like - you should do what you can to improve the livelihood of others. Hell, it's simple ethics.

Now the counter-claim that's presented is something akin to robbery at point blank, which is a false analogy, as no one person is being singled out.

Being a responsible citizen means you have to care about the plight of others. A selfish policy that declares those less fortunate as being robbers or unworthy of notice is tantamount to sociopathic behaviour.

MWS said...

Rick --

You're ALREADY paying for other people's bad choices. It's built into your premiums.

I'm sorry that wherever you were in Italy offered you what you consider to be substandard care. Unfortunately for the rest of us, it clearly was not substandard enough, because you're still here to bitch about it and over-generalize from your individual experience to the rest of the civilized world.

Y'know, my dog was hit by a car. By your "logic," all cars are intentionally hunting down pets to crush.

Here's my question for you: What do you think constitutes being a responsible citizen?

And do you think the attitude "That's your bad luck, fucker. You should go ahead and die before you become a burden on society" reflects well on your character, and on your idea of citizenship?

Frank Lizt --

The economy got fucked up without my help, shithead.

Come back when your other remaining braincell wakes up.

I am Dr. Krog said...

MWS, do you have Google Analytics tied to this blog? With all those projects going it's probably time to up your audience in prep. I didn't find a fan-page on Facebook either, so I started one in about 5 minutes: Fans of Matt Stover (happy to take it down or augment it if you want). Not that big into FB, but it has its uses. Everyone I've talked to who has read your work loves it, just need more people to get there in the first place.

We may not be able to get you insurance or steady work even, but I think most who come here would be willing to promote you more.

MWS said...


I don't even know what Google Analytics is.

Thanks. Any and all efforts are appreciated.

I'm working on a tip jar, though.

Chris said...

Google Analytics is quite useful for measuring your Google juice n' seeing where things and people are coming here from. It's kinda built in out the box (or good as) in that setup I was mentioning to you about last week (will reply to that email soon - I'm just in Cali for a few days on holiday). I concur entirely though, that it is a good time to get you web 2.0 configured! (Think of it as augmentations that don't require medical insurance...)

Re: medical insurance etc. I think I've probably been observed making some remarkably flippant comments n' gags on Twitter n' the like about it, 'cos that's just the kind of idiot I am. Mostly, I'm pissed with the constant comparisons and aspirations to be like the NHS. Don't. Just get over that now, America - the concept is your role model, yes, but the execution is not. In fact, take the good parts but use it as a lesson, I suppose. I hope that my various comments don't come across as making me seem against reform, though, because I am entirely in favour of it. It's essential, not only to several good friends (yourself, Deanna, others included) but to your society as a whole. For sure use the idea of universal coverage that the NHS was founded on as the basis for a new system, but for God's sake please do it considerably better than the UK has, because Jesus... it's only a thousand times better than what you lot currently live under, and it should be a million times at least!

Guy said...

Healthcare. What a mess!

I am curious how handing over 20% of our GDP to the government wouldn't be socialism though.

The problem you mention is not being able to get insurance. So then why not attack that problem? Insurance is great for covering large but rare risks. Healthcare, for some reason, has been set up to insure someone even for predictable, regular activities. Do you insure your car for oil changes? Those laws need to get simplified and unfucked with a quickness.

I am curious who thinks public healhcare would mean everyone gets to be seen. Does anyone here work in a hospital, seen the strict guidelines limiting face time between doctors, nurses, therapists and their patients because of the massive backlog of patients still needing to be seen?

Another avenue to go down is patent law. Do you know how current patent law is unnecessarily increasing your healthcare costs?

Does anyone know any department heads, administration, doctors, anyone who works in the pharmacy industry, in the UK, or Canada? Does anyone know where they try to recoup their costs?

Does anyone work in any industry that shows exactly how expensive it is to create new medicine, new technologies, new methods? Does anyone know where the tax money would come from to pay for them?

These are not sarcastic questions. If there are resources, websites, something someone has been looking at for their answers, I'd see them myself.

MWS said...

This is my question for "Guy" (also not sarcastic):

Who are you, why are you here, and why do you want us to do your basic research for you?

Here's my advice:

First: learn to use language properly. A good place to start would be with the definition of "socialism."

Second: don't ask stupid questions. For example, one does not have to work in a hospital to be aware of time constraints facing medical practitioners. However: your question presupposes an unstated assumption that the current system is somehow better than one that includes a national public plan. This is not only rationally insupportable, it's preposterous. (You can look up that word, too.)

Finally: the "something that someone has been looking to for their answers" is called Google. Maybe you've heard of it. There are also a vast number of sites ending in ".gov" which will answer your questions with actual numbers. When you check verifiable sources and come back with an actual argument, people around here will stop assuming you're either

1) some kind of conservative douchebag with nothing better to do than post shit on a blog you don't even read,



Until then, the jury's out.

Guy said...


Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

A system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

A stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done the Merriam-Webster definition.

I am a fan of your work. Read a review of Heroes Die in the scifi-fantasy bookclub pamphlet that gets mailed out every once in a while back when it first came out. Tout it as one of the best fantasy books I've ever read to anyone who'll listen. Still feel Heroes Die is your strongest work, after reading everything else. My name is Guy. Like naming your cat Cat, but it works for me. I'm not even a Republican, let alone conservative.

The current plan sucks. It's mishandled by shitty policy, shitty laws, and shitty international business. If it was a good place to be, I wouldn't want the tax laws, the insurance laws, the patent laws, the international business models simplified.

I just can't fathom how more government oversight, control, whatever you want to call it, is a good thing. The Veteran Affairs can't police itself; Congress is doing a piss poor job of policing them when they refuse to answer for their actions at Congressional Hearings; they won't follow the laws given to them; they haven't done much to innovate new methods of treatment except for very specific cases; they're broke; they can't handle the burden of the number of new patients coming back from Iraq; they are, on the whole, in such deep shit for denying treatment and destroying medical records that they won't be able to hold their breath long enough to get to the surface. How does this prove that public healthcare is going to work any better?

What country with public healthcare doesn't heavily rely on the free market of medicine (what's left of it) here in America? Which of those countries pays fair market value for medicine, and doesn't force higher costs on our own system to make up for it so they can try to afford their own public healthcare? Which of these countries hasn't bought licenses here, done a great deal of innovation here to try to recoup costs?

I only commented because it's an industry I know, on both the government and civilian side. It's not the first time I've commented on this blog either.

MWS said...

Well then. Welcome back. I'm glad you re-posted; I get tired of being right all the time.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say "Veteran's Affairs cannot poilice itself." You are speaking of the USDVA, right? Are you talking about before the Bush Administration's 2 or 3 rounds of budget cuts, or after?

And this defiance of Congress -- is that going on right now? Or was it only while the Bush Administration refused to enforce the findings of the Inspector General?

My father worked for the (then) VA at the end of his life -- he was also a disabled veteran of WWII, and as such, he never paid a dime for healthcare, and in his case it worked out very well The town where I grew up had a VA campus that was, at the time, one of the largest extended-care hospitals in the world -- primarily psychiatric, but also general treatment.

I spent a bit of time there as a teenager, and I can tell you it was (at least in those days) clean, well-functioning and staffed by dedicated professionals.

And what is the VHA's administrative costs as a percentage of its budget? Right around 3% -- in line with Medicare, and standing in stark contrast to the inefficiencies of the private insurance system.

Yes: the VHA is having a lot of trouble handling the wounded veterans returning from Iraq . . . largely due to the Bush budget cuts (now being reversed) and complex rules governing who is and is not eligible for care.

What I can tell you is that the private health care system is doing it worse. If a wounded Iraq vet were to apply for private insurance, his wounds would be, will be, and have been excluded from coverage as a pre-existing condition.

I'm still wondering where you got the 20% of GDP figure, and what that relates to.

Quoting the dictionary definition of socialism only proves that you can read.

Jeff Mott said...

I rather like what Scalzi has to say on this:

MWS said...

As usual, Scalzi is disappointingly rational and makes entirely too much sense.

I prefer my original position.

Guy said...

I could talk about Marx, but after the Communist Manifesto I wonder if he ever met another human. If you want a comical look at extremes, follow that with Robert Wolff's moral autonomy in In Defense of Anarchism.

Yeah, the USDVA. The same problems that have plagued them for decades continue today. These problems prove to transcend by their consistency presidential administrations. It's same shit, different day. Just within the last couple of months, there have been: infected equipment; destroyed and hidden medical documents; skipping set deadlines. The list goes on.

Free healthcare seems great, but remember the many are paying for the few when it comes to the military and VA. What happens when everyone is paying for everyone?

The problem is not merely a lack of money. There will NEVER be enough money in a public healthcare system. There can't be. The USA heavily subsidizes the countries that have public healthcare. One example: European pharmaceutical companies do a great deal of innovation for the US healthcare market in order to make a profit, because they can't in their own countries. And even then, their products are tiny in number compared to ours.

Another problem is patent law. It takes a long time for new medicine to develop and is ludicrously expensive. In that time, the patent deadlines are already winding their clocks down to when they lose patent rights and generic medicines can take up a huge share of the market. Between now and 2012 there's going to be a loss of a couple dozen more patents, meaning losses of tens of billions in revenue. R&D budgets have already climbed to find new medicines, and that cost gets passed to the consumer. Extend the patent laws so that instead of a pharmacy only having 10 years to recoup their expenses in developing a drug they have more, allowing prices to drop and become more competitive. This is a double-edged sword as well, but one has to acknowledge that without brand companies developing a product and taking all the burden of initial expenses, generic copies could not be made.

Insurance right now sucks a big fat diseased one. It's a game between the insurance companies, the state and employers at the moment, with a fraction of options available to individuals. Odds are getting your state to NOT have laws that mandate certain items that must be insured is probably never going to happen (which is one reason health insurance is higher than it needs to be), but getting employers out of the loop is something that can be pushed for. Instead of having some blanket policies that generally cover everyone employed, there could actually be competition and options, and insurance could be aimed at the individual again. Again, insurance is great for large but rare problems, and insuring everyone for even just a regular checkup makes the entire purpose of insurance pointless. It's no longer a gambling pool that everyone tosses their share into, it's just general redistribution of wealth.

But also, when someone takes up a new policy and has a pre-existing condition, it's...well, that's another state-dependent thing, perhaps. Here in California, you can transition between insurance companies with a pre-existing condition and still be covered. You can get a new policy, where a pre-existing condition is denied for only so long, and after that period you're covered. That makes sense though: if you had a condition and then tried to get insurance for it, it would defeat the purpose of insurance. Insurance is in case something goes wrong, not to cover my ass after the fact. Who would try to get car insurance for fire damage watching from the side of the road as their car burns?

But that's a really shitty double-edged sword too.

20% of our GDP is the percentage of money America makes spent on the medical industry yearly. I was way off though, it's actually 15-16% of our GDP.

MWS said...

When switching from group plan to group plan, federal law forbids denying coverage for a pre-existing condition, so long as you have not been without insurance for more than 60 days in the interim. (The pertinent law is ERISA -- thank you Bill Clinton). They can, however, raise the premiums for every person in that group.

Yes, it's true -- if a couple people at your company's corporate office on the far side of the country end up with nasty cancers and/or organ transplants, your premium goes up.

And there is currently no way to prevent a private (non-group plan) insurer from using any criteria that happen to please the giant sucking void where his heart should be in decided whether to bind coverage for you at any price.

Many of the points you make above are true. None of them, however, strike me as valid arguments against reform. It seems to me they're just the opposite -- they are clarion calls to GET OFF OUR ASSES AND CHANGE THIS SHIT.

But that's just my opinion.

And the 15% of GDP is the figure I'm familiar with. I also understand that most of the universal coverage nations (even the ones, like Switzerland, that have no government-administered "public option" plan), health care as a percentage of GDP hovers between 7% and 8%.

There is an argument, based on just the numbers alone, that literally half the health care dollars spent in this country do absolutely nothing to improve the health of our citizens. Where does that money go?

Mostly, it seems to me, into the pockets of people who will, if this turns out to be a Christian Universe after all, burn in Hell.

Guy said...

"There is an argument, based on just the numbers alone, that literally half the health care dollars spent in this country do absolutely nothing to improve the health of our citizens. Where does that money go?"

I had to go look that one up. WSJ to the rescue! They give a list of what the major causes of wasteful spending are.

Wasteful spending doing too many tests. Yet this is what Scalzi is advocating. He proposes preventative healthcare (an ounce of prevention, pound of cure). Well, the VA is doing this. Just one example: it's the law to check everyone for mental health issues on their way to entering the system. There's a report the Army recently put out that 37% of returning soldiers from Iraq are suffering some sort of mental trauma. So if everyone has to be tested in order to provide preventative care once they're in the VA, that's a 63% waste right there for just one problem.

The next is...well, here's the actual report this argument is coming from:

And it's everything the VA is already facing. Too many tests? Yep. Too much paperwork, and paperwork being mishandled? Ooooooh yeah. Bad administration? They just handed over $70 million trying to get new computer software...and it was so badly mishandled they got nothing for it. $70 million pissed away, and this is not as rare an occurrence as it should be. Hell, the government lost $50 billion to shoddy contractors in Iraq last year. There is not a history of fiscal responsibility there.

And there's a $300 billion slot in that half that's being wasted that's directly attributed to patients being too fat or not doing what the doctor recommended. That's a little less than a third of the waste that's being blamed on healthcare costs that has absolutely nothing to do with how the industry is handling itself.

So the question is: if it's total reform, if it's a public healthcare option instead of a private one, where is the improvement?

It's as hard for me to see insurance companies figureheaded by some vague greedy entity as it is to see Obama and his administration being some vague, all-powerful supervillain. Is there no competition for vehicle/home/disaster insurance? Are they all greedy evil bastards who refuse to cover damage, theft, fire, flood, property, etc.? I've been with Progressive, Allstate and now Dairyland for both my car and motorcycle coverage, and even with the stigma of a motorcycle I was only denied coverage once, at one company, and the rest were happy to take my money. When I had to make a claim, my agent was more than helpful to see it get taken care of. When there was a problem with my mail not getting delivered, they rushed me a new check for the one I didn't get. I just don't understand how it would be much different with people if insurance was aimed at them again, instead of having to go through employers. Some people may have more of a hassle of it than I did, but what does that change?

That was one insurer. The one I'm with now has been very helpful and cooperative in letting me nitpick and customize the exact coverage I want (outside of the legal insurance requirements for my state).

We both agree that healthcare needs to be changed, badly. I just don't see public healthcare being the better option, and once our subsidizing of other country's public healthcare goes away, I really wonder what they're going to think as well.

Scott said...

my kneejerk libertarian response to questions about reducing cost of health care is to stop subsidizing things like tobacco that kill citizens, legalize selling organs, repeal the current Prohibition, et cetera.

Pete said...

The hypocrisy coming from MWS has hit 11.
He starts out this post wishing people with insurance to become ill and die, yet when those people return the favor he asks how that "reflects well on your character, and on your idea of citizenship?"
He calls people with insurance that want to keep it selfish, yet he wants the public option because he lost his insurance.
He wants his citics to post facts and stats, yet offers none of his own.
Guy is correct, our current system needs reform, but MORE government control is not the answer.

Lestack said...

I realise we're all busy yelling at the trolls (or ignoring at this point possibly) but:

MWS, can I please put that capslock bit on a T-shirt for personal use?

Anonymous said...

our current system needs reform, but MORE government control is not the answer.

Yes, it's much better when the control comes from corporations with no incentives to change policy instead of people you can at least occasionally vote for.

MWS said...

Pete, Pete, Pete . . .

My post was not an argument. You'll find it difficult to support a charge of hypocrisy against a post that is a simple expression of actual emotion.

Further, you won't get very far with flatly asinine contentions such as "He starts out this post wishing people with insurance to become ill and die," because anyone who can actually read understands that this is a deliberate and malicious misreading of the post.

You'll notice I'm not asking YOU for numbers and facts . . . because nothing in your post suggests you have any. You're pretending "people who have insurance" are the same as the targets of my original rant, those knuckle-dragging pinheads who believe:

"The public option is just a socialist plot to destroy private health care" and "Obama wants to kill my grandmother."

This pretense doesn't even rise to the level of hypocrisy. It's just a cheap, troll-ass rhetorical stunt that makes you look like . . . well, a knuckle-dragging pinhead.

(DISCLAIMER: to all the knuckle-dragging pinheads out there: I'm certain that most knuckle-dragging pinheads are genuinely thoughtful and capable of reasoned debate, and so I apologize to you all for rhetorically including Pete in your ranks.)

You'll notice -- as with Guy -- that I'm perfectly willing to engage in a back-and-forth with anyone who shows evidence of brain activity. If you want to give it another try, you know where to find me.

(On a side note to Guy: Facts and figures from the WSJ are even more suspect than facts and figures from the NYT -- both papers have an editorial dog in this fight, if you see what I mean. I agree that there are plenty of problems with the current USDVA -- but I don't agree that this spells doom for a public insurance option. If anything, it emphasizes the need for greater oversight. We'll bite into this subject again a couple of years down the road, after the organization has a few years to recover from the Bush Administration. As far as inadvertently subsidizing European pharma and medtech research, well . . . if it is exactly as you describe, this strikes me as another good reason to get control of the market, so that we can put a stop to it.)

People don't seem to understand that HC reform will not (and is not intended to) transform the country overnight -- shit, as it stands in the House bills, many of the changes don't become mandatory until 2013 . . . which is two congressional and one presidential election away. If something is found that doesn't work, we'll have plenty of time to vote somebody into office who will fix it.

MWS said...

And Lestack --

Sure. You can put that on a shirt, as long as you include appropriate attribution, as well as the context (that is, the socialist-plot-
Obama-kills-grandma people). If this shirt becomes popular enough that you want to start selling it . . . I'll put you in touch with my agent.

Guy said...

The WSJ article actually linked to a PDF of the report itself, that wasn't conducted by the WSJ. I should have clarified.

I'm Mr. Joe Pharmacy Company. I have spent 10 years getting a drug to market, and now only have 10 years to recoup those costs, plus make a profit for liability insurance and continued R&D, let alone to continue paying my employees. I have to sell as many of these drugs as I can, as quickly as I can. There just aren't enough people in the USA who need this, so I'll sell it to Canada too.

But Canada has price caps on the drug. I can only charge so much; since Canada has one of the longest drug approval timelines by Health Canada, has one of the lowest R&D expenses in the world, produced half the product (we supply 75% of both to the entire world) they need this though.

Since I can only charge so much to Canada, I have to charge more here in the US. Even on the world market, these countries with public healthcare won't pay anywhere close to market value, so then we're stuck forcing America to pay the lion's share. Have to. Have to recoup costs. Need money for R&D. Still a million billion things people are dying to death from that we hope to cure. Can't find cures without money, can't get money without making a profit. No other country can afford to.

But in the Euro and Canadian public healthcare systems, the government is squeezing the profit margins for their own pharm companies, reducing profits so that those people who can become healthy again with current medication do so at the terminal expense of people who currently have no cure. But it's the same with other medical industries: the ones who invent life-saving technologies like the MRI, digital imaging, etc. would face the exact same problems.

What if your condition had no cure? Instead of hoping you could get public healthcare to get help, would you instead be like Michael J. Fox throwing money at Parkinson's Disease with a passion? And you'd be as rich as him too, of course; what's a fantasy without the perks?

The compromise with private medical care is it's expensive, and has to be. The compromise with private healthcare and the bad laws (there could be really good ones, don't think I'm just anti-government here) is that it's even more expensive, and the pharm companies work to get medications through that will be paid for by the insurance, which because of law is pushing crappy general policies aimed at HR Managers instead of individuals. The compromise with public healthcare is people who are waiting for a cure for their diseases will wait exponentially longer for pharm companies to be able to even begin research for a cure, let alone begin developing one, and the entire development industry of the medical field slowing to a crawl.

On another subject though, which is something I really should have said from the beginning, congratulations on being able to take on writing full-time. That's incredible. On a purely selfish note, I'm hoping it means more for me to enjoy once your new books are finished. I know it'll be time in coming, but I'm anxious to see what your new IP will be after Caine and Barra. I'm going through serious withdrawal for good new books to read here. :P

MWS said...

Guy --

Dude. Okay.

Like I said, there are a number of things on which we agree -- prime among them being: the status quo sucks.

I also agree that reasonable people can disagree about the course toward a better system, and that expecting the current bill(s) to be a wholesale improvement is unreasonable.

To quote a line that is also quoted in HEROES DIE: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Thus all progress depends upon the unreasonable man."

[DISCLAIMER: that was GB Shaw, not me. Foam-at-the-mouth PC types should be aware that when Shaw wrote "man" he meant "human" rather than "male." Really.]

GabrielBlade said...

I just want to drop in and make a comment about the Public/Private system in Australia, for those people who are complaining about the losing money on taxes to pay for Medicare - in Australia, anyone who has a Private health insurance option gets the money they pay for the Medicare system back at the end of the year at tax time. So in the end, they don't double-pay, and they don't pay for anyone elses 'bad choices'. (Oh, and that comment annoyed me so much, I'm sorry, being born with a congenital condition which prevents me ever getting Health Insurance in the US is a BAD FUCKING CHOICE...)


Sorry, Rant over.