This may be the single most clueless speech I have ever seen given in Congress. In it Jesse Jackson Jr. imagines a utopian America where every person has the constitutional right to a house, medical care, and an education complete with an ipod and laptop. And this somehow would magically solve the unemployment problem.

The economic ship is sinking and this guy thinks it’s time to take on more passengers. We are in so much trouble.


13 Responses to Observations

  1. Justin says:

    This is the problem with people who’ve never taken an economics class suddenly being in a position of influence in public policy.

    Private goods (houses, cars, health insurance) can’t be provided efficiently by government. Further, government doesn’t have the means of providing these goods without taking them from someone else. How do you guarantee everyone a car if you remove the incentive for people to make the cars? Health care is little different.

    I can’t help but notice the often observed happy coexistence of atheism and liberalism in the same person. Both are thoroughly self-contradictory and self-defeating.

  2. The Judge says:

    Justin, my experience of life in Europe has convinced me that efficient public health-care is not an impossibility. And I don’t think we can really make these absolute axioms about what can and can’t be done in politics.

    And Jack — thanks for your extensive reply in my previous post. To be candid, though, it did not help very much. I think perhaps we have too different notions of what sin and other things are. I disagree about Christ being just another martyr if he had not resurrected – in any case, my concern is not historical. It’s not about whether he did or did not come back from the dead. It’s about what the message of his story is. And the story doesn’t make sense to me if his sacrifice is undone. About sin, my view follows on to that of Nietzsche, that a tree grows to great heights only to the extent that it proportionately sinks its roots deeper in darkness. This is not an ‘economic’ relationship – I’m not suggesting that it’s ok to cause X of evil if you then weight it out with X of good. I’m saying the two things are intertwined (much like, say, in Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange, the sensitivity to music and the inclination to violence are entwined in the protagonist Alex).

    Anyway, it’s all very complicated. I do take the message of the Gospel seriously, but there’s parts of it I can’t bring myself to agree with. Thanks for the efforts in clarifying, in any case.

  3. DanJames says:

    No, please. Do it. Put it to vote. By all means, put it to a vote.

  4. Nate says:

    Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the apostles…

    I don’t think words on paper build anything or create anything.

    How many homes would that build? None. You have to pay people to build them, pay people to get the raw materials and process them, so on and so forth.

    He’s a baffoon because everyone already has the “right” to all the things he mentioned. They simply have to make the money required to purchase them.

    The often confused, seldom properly applied “right” we all have in this matter is the right to attain wealth on our own merits, not off the merits and labor of others.

    All such ideas are about buying votes with goods and services. To be fair, conservatives engage in the same ideological bribery, only they do it with the promise of more independence or freedom, not with the taxpayers checkbook.

    “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

    ~Alexis de Tocqueville

  5. Justin says:

    Justin, my experience of life in Europe has convinced me that efficient public health-care is not an impossibility. And I don’t think we can really make these absolute axioms about what can and can’t be done in politics.

    Hey Judge!

    There are a couple of issues that slip under the radar when comparing US to European or Canadian health care programs.

    Of the top 20 drug development companies in the world, 12 were US companies (2006). The number 1 company was from Switzerland (Novaris). A review of their financials showed that their largest single country sales were in the US. Why is that? Because we don’t cap prices on our drugs under most private health care plans.

    This means we subsidize, for Novaris, and every other drug company, US or otherwise, their R&D. Enact socialized medicine in the US along with price caps on drugs just like those of Canada or Europe, and watch research and development of new drugs plummet.

    It’s simple economic law. Socialized medicine works great in other countries as long as you can leave a large part of the tab with someone else. This not only applies to drugs, but R&D in medical equipment and new medical procedures. Cap prices on all of these in the US, and watch innovation in modern medicine slow to a snail’s pace.

    This is mentioning nothing of wait times, quality of care, etc.

  6. Justin says:

    I’m going a ways past any expertise I have regarding Jesus’ death, but to me, it is not about a sacrifice. It’s about grace, which, if you boil his death and resurrection down to a non-sacrifice, is what you have.

    Now, to Jews, who were intimately familar with the sacrificial system, the daily sacrifice of animals, the games of attonement, etc., would have understood what was accomplished more readily.

    I do think he sacrificed though. In your view, lots of sins (promiscuity is mentioned in the other post), have value to you. They’re “dear memories” or something along those lines. If Jesus is who he said he was, he could have ruled on Earth. He could have lived a lavish lifestyle with angels attending to his every whimsical earthly desire. But he denied this of himself, by his choosing, and instead submitted to being beaten, spit upon, nailed to a tree, and then stabbed in the side with a spear. It’s not true to say that Jesus sacrificed nothing – in living a simple, sinless lifestyle, he sacrificed the ability to do every sinful thing that you believe has value.

    But in the end, if the “sacrifice” turned out to be symbolic, then you still have it as an act of grace that isn’t.

  7. Nate says:

    Justin hit it on the head.

    The US effectively subsidizes the rest of the world in R&D. I’ve made this point many times. The only place on earth where companies can reclaim the billions of dollars that go in to researching a new drug, technique or equipment is right here.

    Let’s take that away and see what happens to progress.

    Also “functioning” is a very interesting term to use for the European medical system. Even now, many countries are moving to privatize portions of their systems. I’m sure the reason has nothing to do with sky rocketing taxes and sky rocketing budget shortfalls in addition to increasing access issues.

  8. The Judge says:

    I cannot comment on global economics, having little or no knowledge of it. I can only speak from my experience, which has been positive with respect to public healthcare in five different major countries in the EU. Wait-times and quality of care have never been an issue either, at least not for me.

    That being said, I am dubious that your definition of progress in medicine is valid. You seem to imply that the more money you put into research, the better everything will be. But the greater a business it becomes, the greater space for greed, exploitation and dishonesty. Twenty billion dollars in the hands of businessmen interested in making profit won’t necessarily do us much better than one billion dollars in the hands of a real humanitarian. Furthermore, progress in medicine is only desirable to the extent that its benefits are widespread and accessible. A new technique for super-surgery which is only ever used to save eighty-year old billionaires is not progress, however fanciful and expensive its machines may be.

    On the subject of sins, you misunderstand me. They are not ‘dear memories’ at all. Increasingly I come to the perception that my understanding of the term ‘sin’ is very different from that of traditional Christians, and I guess I’ll have to elaborate on it someday. Apologies if I have not been clear about it – I was letting my mind type automatically, rather than trying to expose myself schematically. On that note, I’d be interested in seeing you do some clarification of your own with the term ‘grace’ – I didn’t really understand what you meant by it.

    Thanks for the reply, in any case.

  9. Nate says:

    The amount of money doesn’t matter. It’s actually getting a return on investment in a reasonable amount of time that it the issue. If you need to put a billion dollars into a new drug, you can’t stand around charging 3$ for a 90 day supply because the government says so. Particularly if you are talking about a treatment for an illness or ailment other than the flu.

    The numbers are just for illustration, but you get the point.

  10. Justin says:

    Hey Judge – my reply to you Regarding sin was written in similar style. It is definitely a thought provoking issue.

    As to whether or not companies get too big and full of greed – of course they do. The problem (IMO with sinful man) is that if a drug companies revenues get cut, it will not be the bonuses and salaries that get cut first. The folks in charge will take their share whether they are doing R&D or not. This applies to the US or anywhere else.

    I have some personal experience in business which dealt with government enacting price caps which essentially shut the entire industry down, because whether the product of a business is noble or not, not many smart people will continue in a business that has no incentive.

  11. I laughed outloud today at how the topic on this thread shifted from healthcare politics to Jesus’ atonement and back and forth. I was feeling a bit schizofrenic (sp?) reading. What’s happening, I wondered. lol

    Anyway, I may have to respond to Justin’s comments about resurrection / salvation theology on a proper blog though.

  12. jackhudson says:

    Tristran, you lunkhead, you are on Japan and we have been wondering how you and your family are. You think you can manage something of a report before launching into blogging as usual?

  13. Justin says:

    Tristan’s in Japan? Let us know if you need anything.

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