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Words to live by

By Michael J. Smith on Sunday May 10, 2009 04:27 PM

Owen provocatively passed along an interesting link recently, from one of those "progressive" outfits that likes to drape itself in the flag (their logo is shown above). Old SMBIVA hands will know that this is like catnip to me.

Owen's teasing lead takes us to the Campaign For America's Future, and in particular to the blog of one Bernie Horn.

Bernie reports ecstatically that a secret poll, taken by the infamous Dr Frank Luntz on behalf of the convalescent Republican Party, has now become public. Bernie seems to feel that this is like stealing the other team's game plan. Now we've got 'em, by God!

In fact Luntz's report -- all 28 pages of it -- contains few surprises. It's rather gratifying to read, even so. Lantz finds that people aren't interested in economic theory, for example. Notions like "competition" and "the market" leave them cold. What scares them is the idea that a "government bureaucrat" might interfere with their health care. Based on my own experience with government bureaucrats, this seems like a well-founded worry.

It's an interesting example of the complementarity and (perhaps unconscious) collusiveness of liberalism and so-called conservatism. Nobody, or almost nobody, trusts a high-minded liberal soul-engineer. And with good reason. Anybody who's ever had a long-faced meeting with his kids' teachers, or had a "social worker" visit his house, is likely to feel inclined to join the NRA and perhaps provision a bunker somewhere in Idaho. The so-called "conservatives" -- actually, of course, corporate millennarians -- can then come along and pick up these chips of justified resentment.

The Gummint Bureaucrat, Luntz concludes, is the only bogeyman available. Nobody wants that sinister clown in his life.

It's worked before, and it might work again. If it does, liberalism has only itself to blame.

* * * * *

Interestingly, the progressive Bernie Horn cedes some ground that the reactionary Dr Luntz didn't claim. Bernie cites a market-researcher named Celinda Lake, shown below:

Celinda has impeccable "progressive" credentials, which is to say that she only works for Democrats. Bernie attributes to her this insight:

Lake has made it clear that Americans strongly support progressive legislation to guarantee quality, affordable health care for all, as long as they can choose their doctor, their healthcare package, and their insurance provider.
One would like to see some of Lake's work-product on this topic, but her web site, obligingly referenced in Bernie's post, appears to be purely devoted to marketing her services, and fails to inform us on any topic besides the firm's own brilliance.

It's noteworthy that Luntz's report mentions "providers" only once (and "packages" not at all). Luntz's reference to "providers" occurs in a negative context. He's telling his clients what NOT to say. Don't say this, Luntz advises:

[Health care reform] will put private healthcare providers out of business so that everybody will eventually be in a lower quality gov’t program.
Luntz notes that about 16% of the people he surveyed seemed to be concerned about this so-called "problem", which the progressive Ms Lake takes so seriously -- according to our man Bernie, anyway, who has no doubt read the golden tablets Ms Lake's outfit produces for its paying customers.

It would be fun, in a modest way, to have Lake's and Luntz's wise and pricey lucubrations displayed in parallel columns. Perhaps somebody will leak (if not drain completely) the Lake, so the hapless public can see in the round what advice its adscripti-patres are getting from their respective resident gnomes.

Comments (15)


Someone on this site displays an obstinacy in the face of fact that's beginning to remind me the previous President.

Peter Ward:

As long as capitalism remains intact health care will be at best a public-private amalgam in some fashion. Services will likely be provided by private companies as in Canada and increasingly in the UK, but the elimination of private insurance even if the rest remains private would be a significant improvement and IMO represents a realistic short-term goal.

I do think it would be a bad idea to have the insurance itself be administered privately, however. And in this regard I may disagree with Owen, although his exact position is not altogether clear to me.


"It's an interesting example of the complementarity and (perhaps unconscious) collusiveness of liberalism and so-called conservatism"
indeed a tango
a studio wrestle
but mayhaps the rising tide of price and coverage fears will lead some where this congo session

my read the broad middle of the public
wants coverage protection
and premium and co pay relief

if single payer gets effectively sold
as the only quick way to both
the hmo's and drugees
might crack open
like la nan's ass
over a white house thunder bowl

we may get sp after all this session
or at least a pub op with a fightin' chance

either way it oughta prove interesting
us unsentimental side walk 'soupers '

".. almost nobody, trusts a high-minded liberal soul-engineer"

this is a real problem
and as you point out richly deserved
i know i'd push pointy heads
doling out what you deserve ...
ya ya
the health plan
from the folks who gave us
the war on poverty
public radio
bicycle right of ways
gas lines
seat belts
peer review
endive growing
and diet exercise
spinach eating...etc etc
oh ya
prudent pay roll tax increases


the prophet ezra channels the hmo industries "strong "argument:

"a public plan would make your health care coverage worse."

this claim presumeable requires
one to never look at medicare

" It would be outfitted with expensive, unsustainable government subsidies."

that area of attack needs a counter attack
along the lines used to sponsor fdic
and other uncle final resort guarentees

" It would set its prices through legislative fiat rather than open market bargaining and thus shift costs onto private insurers."

this is obviously an attack on single payer
thru its attack on any "unfairly" advantaged pub op beach head
the distinction should remain
lower system wide costs
with one payer or even with any payer with a much larger pool there will result
smaller proportional
stand by trusts
of course really trust are a partition a ploy
for uncle a game mechanism
the system could simply rely on its uncle backing and uncle's credit line
to pay deficitts in excess pay out periods

" eventually, it would reduce your choices on the open market,"
again medicare advantage proves the public chooses uncle
cause un aided the hmo's can't compete

"not because you chose to abandon Aetna, but because the government had rejiggered the rules and made it impossible for Aetna to compete."
rejigger here means reach for systemic cost savings



seems the industry is counter attacking with a real slight of hand...
delivered by its white housed
shill in chief

nice frenchy article btw


"as long as they can choose their doctor, their healthcare package, and their insurance provider."

note the puggy flack has added a generous gratuity

yes folks like to chooose
their doctor, their healthcare package

and the payment system that is
the easiest most widely accepted
most reliable and fair
medicare if they are over 65
why not offer same system to everyone

the obvious and perhaps effective
snake oil line here :
we'll innocently choose our way
to de facto uncle single payer
monopoly monopsony
and end up "at the mercy" of uncle's
merit class band of pointy headed mandarins


i do like the snake line

why not just create a level playing field
with regulations ??

if the pub op is just a clone of a well behaving pri plan
why bother ??
only if the pub op can offer a superior system
--which it most obviously can if all uncle's advantages are engaged--
does a pub op make sense

hey we went thru all this with TVA and much else since

recall the public yard stick defense of TVA ???


"Services will likely be provided by private companies as in Canada and increasingly in the UK "
lest we forget eh??

the actual private service providers remain in tact
of course i'd convert the vet system into a national health chain
for anyone and every one
any primary care providers
patients eligable for referal to its
specialized services all insures required to make payments to the nhs
so long as not above private comps

i turn wonk..forgive me


Van M: Yes, you were the one I was talking about/ Now, I admit I can't always follow OP; and sometimes I see him changing shapes, like a tale by Ovid. (In fact, I didnt even read the trail of comments above, fearing they'd confuse the issue more.)

However, several recent comments of OP's appear to explictly support SP, so you're hitting him on this subject again is not only "obstinacy in the face of fact" but fucking tiresome.

Specifically, it's the personal vitriol that's tiresome, suspicious, suggesting an unbalanced mind. Just say, "OP you're being inconsistent", or, "hey, what made you change your mind?" And don't be surprised if he answers with a riddle. It's his style!

I would say this much -- it's a style I associate with people who like a beer or two; but hell, so do I.


Shape shifting boozer
I like that image ear

Indistinct bounfary lines

But what is important here I hope is our collective effort toward greater understanding
Even if its understanding that we don't understand

Not tp wax homolic

I'll persoalize

I try to admit error and every once in a great while I do admit error
But hell its hard enough understanging each other when we're
Actively trying to

I've always felt this site's comment cages operated
Very nicely on that principle
If some one comments here their honest intention to discuss ought always to be assumed
And of course
Anyone is entitled
To a cleaned slate

It occurs to me
Given the no contact nature of this site
Turning the other cheek ought ways to be easy
No matter what has been written

I apologize for my lack ultimately
Of a consistent
cheek turning
Where necessary

I hope I've learned a lesson

Polemic mode tends to trample dialogue

But my snide responese
Only compounded the mayhem and tedium
Early on
In another context
Mh cried boring
So I'll stop here


Snide comments are preferable to personal slurs. But it's time to shift the level of discourse.

It occured to me earlier that your particular style (wild and whirling words, I once called it) is a form of dialectic, obscuring your thesis in the process of making it,so that others could spot the inconsistencies and move to a higher plane. An old english prof of mine liked to do this, tossing out banalities to see if any of us were smart enough to spot them.

Maybe I'm overestimating what is essentially just over-educated fun, and if so, I apologize.

Michael Hureaux:

op: I think I was commenting on the thread of discussion in general, not your posts in particular. But that's the problemn with drive -by snides, a point which Van Mungo, despite all else, was quite right to call me on. Ah, well, live learn turn and scream as you burn, as said Buk.


Thank you for the deletions, Michael.


You're most welcome. I fear the thread may now be a bit confusing.

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Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


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