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News Privatize everything!

  1. Dec 7, 2009 #1

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    I see a lot of areas where Republicans want to privatize stuff, such as health care. Therefore, why not privatize the police? You'd get excellent coverage from your police insurance, provided you had paid all of the premiums on time and in full, and you didn't have a preexisting condition, like having a key lock to your car instead of a combined combination-key lock. Of course, if you forgot to pay for a month, or if your windows weren't made of reinforced glass, your claim would be denied. It would be great! ... for the rich people, at least.

    Police coverage is a right. Health care should be as well.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 7, 2009 #2
    You're right. Why should some things be in the private sector and other things in the public? This doesn't make sense. Either everything should be private, or everything public.
  4. Dec 7, 2009 #3
    Privatizing the police force doesn't sound like a bad idea. You know , the first local police department was established in Boston in 1838. So at one period in US history, the united state survived with a law enforcement unit for nearly 50 years. I bet private eye detectives would do a better job of cleaning up crime than the public police force. Like health insurance and education, I don't think people should be forced to subsidize a service that they might not want to use .
  5. Dec 7, 2009 #4

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    Whoa, I was trying to show that private health care is a moral wrong, like corruption or MJ. (j/k on MJ) I hate traffic cops, though.

    Can we just privatize them?
  6. Dec 7, 2009 #5
    Whydo you consider it a moral wrong? Don't you think coercion is a moral wrong? It is safe to say that most of us would all agree that it is wrong to rob a person of their earnings and at gun point or by any other means of force is wrong . Well, when the government subsidizes healthcare, then that mean the government uses force to make everyone in the country pay for every other individuals healthcare? Why do you not considered that act immoral when it involves stealing ?
  7. Dec 7, 2009 #6

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    Is it morally wrong to make everyone pay a tax to support universal police? Or should only the people who can afford it get police coverage?

    Think carefully.
  8. Dec 7, 2009 #7
    Who says that only the rich would be able to afford police coverage? There are other commodities , such as housing, food , cars, etc. not covered by the government, yet you see people from a wide range of economic backgrounds buying these commodities and they are not so expensive that only the rich can afford those commodities. Why should the police force be an exception? And as I stated, for 50 years , the US was able to function find without a law enforcement agency and society did not descend into chaos.
  9. Dec 7, 2009 #8

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    I didn't say the rich. I said "those who could afford it". There are people who can't afford housing or a car.
  10. Dec 7, 2009 #9
    Police coverage is not any right. It is a service, just one funded by public tax dollars. Police, firefighters, food, housing, healthcare, education, etc...none of them are rights. They are services.

    Rights are abstract things. For example, you have a right to bear arms. So does this mean we need a taxpayer-funded government program to provide everyone with a firearm? You have a right to freedom of speech. Does this mean we need a taxpayer-funded program to provide everyone with a means to be heard? And so forth.

    You have a right to bear arms, but you do not have a right "to" the arms. You have to buy them (or make them yourself). You have a right to whatever healthcare you can afford. But no one has a right "to" healthcare. You have a right to eat what you ant. But you do not have a right "to" the food. Same with housing.

    To say things like healthcare are a right means you are infringing on the rights of the people who study and acquire the skills to be healthcare providers. You are saying to the doctors and nurses, "Your skills are the rights of others. You yourself thus have no right to charge for our hard-earned skills on the open market."

    Police funding is a local government issue, not federal. And it is a basic service that we find is simply better provided by the public sector as opposed to the private sector. Healthcare is not.
  11. Dec 7, 2009 #10


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    I've been meaning to start a thread on this. We've had a number of discussions where it has been asserted that heath care is a right (and you can read it in the newspaper), but I've never actually seen a real/valid argument made for why this should be true. Perhaps I will here...

    Was that intended to be serious or sarcastic? I can't tell. I wish people would argue inverses via sarcasm less here...

    Obviously, there are things the public can't do for themselves and things they can. Providing for the rule of law has always been a function of government because only government can do it.

    Providing health care has never been a function of government - until very recently - because it is something that individuals can, and in fact mostly must do for themselves. Furthermore, the right to be able to buy yourself better healthcare is not something government should infringe upon.
  12. Dec 7, 2009 #11


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    Really. Do you have any evidence for this, or did you just make it up?
  13. Dec 7, 2009 #12

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    i'm all right with everything except that last sentence. We don't know that... France seems to do pretty good with (cue terror) socialized medicine...

    @russ: i thank you for allowing me to become the catalyst for this topic.
  14. Dec 7, 2009 #13
    I don't get asked that question a lot. I'm so seldom serious.

    I am no richer and no poorer than my neighbor. We both get an apple a day in wages. However, I like to eat my apple in the afternoon, and he likes to eat his in the morning. This worked well for a while, but then the socialists took a look at it one afternoon and noticed that I had an apple and my neighbor did not. In order to fix this problem, they took my apple and divided it in three, one piece for me, one for my neighbor, and one for the socialists. Now everything is fair right?
  15. Dec 7, 2009 #14


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    But that "right" is not infringed upon, nor is anyone planning on doing so...
  16. Dec 7, 2009 #15
    Oh, and if you don't have all the premiums payed ? You get to watch how your wife is raped, you children killed, and the police wont care because you didnt payed in time ? No-one will do anything for you?

    If you are interested in spending some money in personal security and hence having premium personal protection of your person, loved ones and your goods, hire a protection company. Get the bodyguards and ex IDF bald guys to watch over your ***. This is not police. Police's role is not to defend you.

    The main role of police is not protection of individuals , but enforcement of the law and apprehension of criminals, as defined by a certain set of rules who are generically known as "criminal laws"
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009
  17. Dec 7, 2009 #16
    Yes, the police should be privatized. And when they begin to fail, have the government bail them out in the stock market, and label it outrageous while claiming police should not be funded by the government.
  18. Dec 7, 2009 #17
    From what I understand of the French national health service, it is deeply in debt as is. But besides, so what if they do? Why should we in the U.S. invest massive sums into a government health system when our current experiments with it all seem to explode in cost (Massachusettes and Tennessee for example, or Medicare and Medicaid which are trillions in deficit, both being single-payer, government-run health insurance companies) which would mean we will blow up the debt and deficit to crazy levels, and thus have to implement very high taxes to pay for it, thus hamstringing the economy, when we have among the best healthcare in the world as is, it is just highly inefficient.

    Our system has multiple inefficiencies that have been built up over the years. For example:

    1) The law that prevents people from being able to purchase health insurance across state lines. This artificially limits competition.

    2) Health insurance companies are not subject to anti-trust laws.

    3) The states each have their own mandates of what they require health insurance companies to cover. Imagine for example you go to buy car insurance but the state mandates that the insurance cover things like oil changes, tire rotations, etc...instead of just catostrophic stuff. The price would go up, as the companies would pass the cost on to the consumer.

    Or one could think of it in terms of imagine you go to buy a car, but due to the mandates from the state, you only have available Cadillacs, Mercedes, BMWs, etc...and if you cannot afford these, you can't buy a car.

    Many people just want a Toyota Camry and that's it. This is something the states have to fix, unless we want the Federal government to remove the right to regulate health insurance in this way from the states, and that's a whole other can of worms.

    4) There is the tax incentive for employer-provided health insurance, which is a leftover remnant of WWII price controls. It should either be extended to individuals purchasing health insurance, or eliminated (this is what John McCain wanted to do). It is very controversial though, because it essentially is seen as a tax increase on healthcare. One could maybe offset it with a corresponding cut in another tax though.

    5) Tort reform

    (these next ones I might have some details wrong):

    6) From what I have read, the American Medical Association artificially limits the supply of doctors into the medical profession, which drives up the cost (some say the AMA is a cartel, not sure though; I have read lawyers rant that they wished the law profession did this, so that lawyers could make more $$$).

    7) Pharmaceuticals - the pharmaceuticals industry I believe is dominated by very large, very powerful Big Pharma companies because the industry is incredibly regulated, so there is a lack of competition. I'm not saying to unregulate them, but the lack of competition has to drive up prescription drug costs as well. for example, it can take up to 10 to 15 years just for a new drug to go through FDA testing.

    So imagine, you first research and then create the drug, which costs lots of money, then it has to get through all those years of testing, where it might not make it.

    8) Medicare and Medicaid don't pay hospitals or doctors enough money always, so they have to make up for the lost $$$ by raising prices in the private sector.

    To fix American healthcare, one has to reform these components one at a time.
  19. Dec 7, 2009 #18
    Just like a public defender will have a bagful of cases to address before he gets to your particular case, the police will probably have a handful of investigations that they have to address before they get to your particular investigation. In the first case, a person will hire a lawyer rather than have the public defender deal with his case because the lawyer that they pay will likely address their problem in a faster manner just like a private eye dectective will adress their case in a more efficient manner now that they are being paid.
  20. Dec 7, 2009 #19
    So justice would only be provided for those who are capable of paying the full-time salary of a trained professional from the beginning to the end of their case.
    At least with health-care, there already exist systems which allow the poor to seek health-care. Why not dedicate more money to these systems. Aren't we arguing that everyone has a right to access all forms of treatment no matter how expensive regardless of the cost or effectiveness.

    I agree with one of the above posters that perhaps we should look at easing the regulations that make the development of a new drug so incredibly expensive.

    Personally, I believe that trying to compare health care to law enforcement is too different to make an argument. Really, these two topics are totally different, and only seem related when you point out the small similarities in their functions.

    Lets add a couple more rights to the mix that are only loosely related to health-care:

    Why don't we provide free air travel, as no single group of people should be confined to any particular area of the United States or even the world. To prove that this would be beneficial, think of all the people who's lives would have been saved when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast if they could have just flown out of the area.

    Why doesn't the government provide free computers and internet as no one should be confined from the practically infinite source of knowledge provided by the internet in the convenience of there own homes.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009
  21. Dec 7, 2009 #20
    Who says the poor would not be able to afford professional lawyers and professional detectives in the private sector? Certainly if their is a demand for detectives to offer quality service for a cheap price , the free market will grant that demand. Cars and computers used to be a luxury that only the rich could afford, but now it is not so much anymore, thanks to innovated minds who came of with ways to make it cheaper for the public to afford. Most people can afford to travel on airplanes as well and that used to be a luxury targeted only at the rich. The same can be said for any service, whether it be providing computers, beds, or cars. You just need to allow the free market to operate properly as it was originally meant too
  22. Dec 7, 2009 #21

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    On number 4, I'm not so delusional as to believe that the government should never raise taxes, especially if providing a service. I would reject a tax on something frivolous, however, such as a $230 million dollar bridge to connect 50 people to 2,000 more people. If you are going to provide universal health care, you need to raise taxes. I'm apparently the only American who realizes this.

    Also, why do we have to reform them one at a time? Wouldn't all at once be more efficient?

    Also, DanP, that's exactly the point I was trying to make, I just used sarcasm. Sarcasm = fun.
  23. Dec 7, 2009 #22


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    And where did you read this? There is no artificial limit. There are real limits to how many can enter the profession every year. Those stem from available seats in medical schools (trust me, our med school would LOVE to double the class size and tuition dollars, but who would teach those courses, and where would they put all the students when we are maxed out on classroom and lab space already?) And, because these people have other people's lives in their hands, literally, we tend to think it's a good idea that there be added post-graduate training (residencies) and comprehensive exams (board exams) before we hand them a license to practice. This is no different than most other professions where you need to work in the profession for several years under some form of supervision before you can take and pass a test that allows you to practice independently and sign off on official stuff (i.e., FE vs PE exams for engineers). The law profession is a bit odd, because you only need to pass the bar exam, which can be taken right away, and with zero days of actual work experience, you can hang up a shingle and go into private practice unsupervised. That's usually what lawyers complain about in terms of it lowering the quality of those practicing and giving the whole profession a bad rap.

    More competition won't speed up the approval process. It takes that long because that's how long it takes to do adequate trials to ensure the drugs you are getting are safe and effective before they get distributed to the general public. More competition is more likely to drive up costs rather than drive them down, because now you'll have even more companies scrambling to produce drugs for a limited set of conditions, and if they happen to get beaten out by a matter of months by a competitor, they've just lost 15 to 20 years of investment into product development, so will have to make up the difference on their other products.

    That's true, though people who do not have any health insurance at all cost hospitals and doctors more than those whose insurance only pays a little.

    I think a major problem, though, with pretty much every debate and discussion I've heard on health care or health insurance is that the two concepts are conflated together rather than being recognized as two distinctly different issues. And, that's mostly because that's what health insurers have been selling for some time now...expensive, all-inclusive packages that go beyond the intent of "insurance." Of course it's going to cost more for a routine check-up if you have to pay through a middle man who takes a cut for their own profit rather than paying directly to the provider. It really does not matter if that middle man is a private insurance company or the government, other than the government might take slightly less of a cut since they aren't trying to make a profit, just trying to pay the staff who process the paperwork and maintain all the office space and equipment and storage etc. for that to happen.

    For the vast majority of the population, this is unnecessary. There is no reason that most people could not pay for the routine check-up and the occasional office visit for minor illnesses out-of-pocket. These are all predictable expenses that you can budget for, the same way that anyone who buys a car knows they are going to have to pay annual registration fees, get the oil changed every few months, sometimes have some minor service done like replacing brake pads or tail lights, etc. Or, when you buy a house, you expect that you're going to have to do things like replace shingles, repair leaky faucets every so often, replace a hot water heater or major appliance every 10 or 20 years, etc. You can save for those things, and they aren't covered by insurance. But, you can't anticipate when you'll be hit by a tornado that demolishes the entire house, or takes off all the siding in a storm, or when a tree is going to fall on the garage, etc. That's what you buy insurance for, things that are major expenses that don't really happen to everyone, or only rarely, and you can't predict WHEN they'll happen to save appropriately and consider it as part of your budget when buying the house.

    Then, there are the things that are the reason people really do need insurance. The serious injury from a fall, or a major illness or disease that requires hospitalization or surgical intervention. These are things that don't happen often in one's life, and you kind of hope don't happen at all, or wait until you've reached an old age where you could have saved up a nest egg to cover such expenses. But, these are things you can't be sure won't hit when you're only 19 or 20 years old, just starting out on your own, not much money saved yet, and something that would cost a lot of money long before you could save up to pay out of pocket. If that is the ONLY type of thing insurance covered, it would likely be considerably cheaper than when it's paying for every routine office visit and minor treatment.

    Now, there are two groups of people who need help with health CARE coverage. First are those who are too poor to even afford routine office visits, such as the chronically unemployed or underemployed. We have clinics in our state that serve those populations, and are funded by the state. They don't automatically get free healthcare, though. They get cost-reduced healthcare. They are charged on a sliding scale based on their income. So, they are still responsible for some of the costs of their care, even if they are only charged $10 for an office visit (that's the minimum). I think this is a good model. It works well, it minimizes the burden to the taxpayer by basically expecting the patients to pay what they can, and it has less of a stigma for the patient that they feel they are taking hand-outs, so they are more likely to see a doctor (we have a population that is very resistant to the idea of taking a free government handout...they prefer to feel independent).

    Then, there is another group of people who can afford their routine office visits, but doesn't get that healthcare because there aren't any providers locally. Again, some of this is addressed by the state-funded clinics that are trying to get physicians into these more rural areas. Our university also addresses this problem through outreach programs that basically equip a mobile clinic in an RV that goes out to the patients. There are still problems with this arrangement. There is a lack of continuity of care (whichever provider is on the bus is the one they get, not the same doc all the time who knows them well), and since they rely on when the mobile clinics come around, these patients may let minor problems go unchecked for a longer time until they become more major problems since it's a big hassle to drive an hour to a clinic over what they think is probably just something minor that can wait.

    This latter group of people are not at all helped by any form of insurance or coverage of health costs, because the costs aren't the problem, physical access is.

    And, there are of course overlaps in these populations too. We have a lot of areas of poverty where one might ask why these people don't sign up for medicare or medicaid when they are eligible for it. And, that's for one of two reasons, usually. Either they are too proud to accept the assistance, or it doesn't matter if they have it or not, because they couldn't get to a clinic to use it anyway.
  24. Dec 7, 2009 #23


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    I made a mistake in one of my first posts. I shouldn't post serious subjects early in the morning. This issue is almost always presented incorrectly and as a result, the core claim is never addressed. I followed the thread down that wrong path.

    Here's the claim made in the OP:
    Here's the real problem: neither police coverage nor health care are "rights" under western political theory. The very common claim today that health care is/should be a "right" is based on a misunderstanding of what "rights" are. I've never seen anyone really attempt to make the case for healthcare being a right - they only ever attach the label to other things and then argue via analogy.

    So the starting point of the thread can't be arguing via analogy, the thread has to start with the claimant (or someone who believes the same thing) defining the word "right", supporting that definition with context in history and political theory, and then showing how the definition applies to health care.

    [note: I haven't read the rest of the thread since my post yet.....if anyone has actually addressed this, I'll get to it]
  25. Dec 7, 2009 #24
    I believe an article in The Wall Street Journal a month or two ago. Since I was typing from memory, I might have misconstrued what they said though. However, does not the AMA control how many people become licensed doctors each year?

    That's why you deregulate the industry some, to speed up the process. Those regulations are not all required to protect the general public, they are there to protect the FDA and the pharmaceuticals industry. The industry is regulated to such an extreme degree to keep smaller competitors out, so that only the big corporations can dominate.

    I am not saying unregulate it, just deregulate it properly. For example, the Bush Medicare Prescription Drug program was based on the idea of increasing competition between drug companies.

    Historically, competition drives down prices does it not (that's one reason free-market capitalism works great). But as I said, deregulate the industry some.

    Yup. But as it is, health insurance in certain states is like the equivalent of buying car insurance that covers the oil changes, brake pad changes, etc...or homeowner's insurance that covers leaky faucets, shingl replacement, and so forth. For example, some states mandate health insurance cover hair loss treatment and marriage counseling!

    Very interesting, thanks for the information.
  26. Dec 7, 2009 #25


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    It was my understanding that with universal healthcare systems, conventional insurance goes away completely. Is that not true? I guess I figured that with that, and with government control of the health care centers, there was no such thing as operating outside the system. Most descriptions are pretty thin on if/how you can operate outside the system, so I've had to apply logic to the situaton. Either way, requiring a person to pay into a system reduces their ability to make personal choices with their money. Whether it is better care or just different care isn't really critical to my argument.

    Also, there is a corollary to what I said: when I was in my 20s, I did not have health insurance. It was a risk, but an informed choice I made because I knew the odds of getting sick or hurt enough to need it were extremely small. That's also a right that would go away.

    In any case, cristo, if I'm not mistaken, I think you're somone who has previously argued that universal healthcare is a right. If you have a historical/philsophical justification for that, I'd like to hear it.

    [edit] More on this from the wiki on Canada's healthcare. The nitty gritty of the way the law works is a little unclear to me, but it appears there have been prohibitions on private care. In any case, it is a practial reality that the problem I described exists: A large number of Canadians who seek freedom in medical care get that care in the US:

    So it is a practical reality that there is a reduced freedom of choice in Canada that some Canadians work around by coming to the US to access a system that is more free.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009
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