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Messages - Skar

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Brandon Sanderson / Re: Official Fan Art Thread **Don't create new threads**
« on: September 01, 2009, 04:40:14 PM »
That's really good man.  You've produced an image 99% better and more realistic looking than most of the CGI pieces like this I've seen.

Nicely done.

Everything Else / Re: Obama's Health Care plan
« on: August 31, 2009, 08:37:31 PM »
I think it's pretty darn obvious that reliance on the profit motive to provide good healthcare has shown that that model is a failure.
And I think the opposite. Since the government has been more and more deeply involved in healthcare for decades, we don't know WHAT actual capitalist healthcare might look like unless we go back to before the government was so involved. (That same period you refer to so nostalgically in your post, incidentally)  The truth is that the ills of the healthcare industry have been increasing in lockstep with government involvement therein.  That turns into a chicken or the egg argument, you think it's the chicken, I think it's the egg.

But anyway, I see healthcare as a common good that benefits everyone. You don't. That's the gist of it.
Not actually true if you read post #24.  I DO see healthcare as a common good and I think it would be great if everyone could be covered for all the reasons the Obamites are giving about why universal healthcare would be good.  My objection is simply that the federal government SUCKS at running big programs.  It is an incredibly wasteful organization with zero perceived responsibility to its customers or shareholders.  If it becomes as heavily and universally involved in healthcare as the obamacare plan proposes, I think the quality of everybody's healthcare will spiral into the toilet and we'll pay more for it as the 'premiums' are filtered through that massive bureaucracy I mentioned earlier. 

It comes down to the idea that intentions are actually separate from outcomes.  The fact that a group fervently believes that they are doing good does not mean they actually are.  I share the belief that healthcare for everyone would be great; lower costs in the long run, healthier people make more money and more progress, etc...  I don't share the belief that putting the government in charge will result in anything resembling that outcome.

Veiled implications that I don't care for my fellow man and that I am generally a 'meany' aside, I would be happy to voluntarily put money towards an efficient system of healthcare aimed at covering those that can not provide for themselves.  I simply don't believe the government is capable of doing that.

Earlier you pooh-poohed the idea that people would be willing to voluntarily contribute to the common good.
Yes, that would work, because everyone is full of compassion and will be standing in line to pay the government more than the government says they should.
Yet you're anxious to place your health in the hands of a career bureaucrat.  You expect him to be any kinder?  I don't understand that at all.

And finally:
My car insurance company returns excess profits to policyholders at the end of the year, has done so for decades, and it was ranked #1 in the US in 2006 for overall customer satisfaction. It WORKS.
And was it necessary for the government to mandate that behavior as you claim it would be for health insurance?  If it wasn't you've proven my point about the free market as opposed to government control.  The auto insurance industry is far less regulated than the health insurance industry.  So...what conclusions can we draw from that?
I'd be interested in your response.

Everything Else / Re: Cool Stuff Found on the Internet, again
« on: August 26, 2009, 08:32:05 PM »
Hooboy.  Laughed pretty hard at this:

Everything Else / Re: Obama's Health Care plan
« on: August 26, 2009, 06:30:58 PM »
People are making enormous amounts of cash BY HURTING OTHER PEOPLE therefore those people are evil.
This reasoning is unfortunate.  Let me extend it and see where it takes us.  Insurance companies, whose stated and logical purpose is to make money, are refusing to cover people like your daughter, are therefore hurting her and are thus evil.

I, every day, decline to pay for your daughter's medical bills or even contribute a partial payment.  This is implicit on my part.  I could cough up some cash for you. I don't.  By your reasoning, this makes me evil, along with every other human being on the planet.  As evil as the health insurance companies if not more so. Unless, of course, you put me in a different category than the health insurance companies when it comes to moral obligation.

At what point did it become the moral obligation of the health insurance companies to pay for your daughter's healthcare? If they are obligated so to do, why are you not paying for their healthcare?  Why are you not paying for mine?

I suppose I shouldn't insist that my neighbor pay for my police protection, or my military protection, or my roads.
Not at all.  These are common goods and benefit everyone.  Those who use them and benefit from them should pay for them.  How do I, for example, benefit from your healthcare coverage?

The only way insurance works is that healthy people pay for sick people. And then when those healthy people eventually get sick, other healthy people pay for them.
Actually, no, that's not how it works.  The insurance companies gamble that the money they collect from their customers, sick and healthy alike, will equal more than what they must pay for the care of the sick people according to their contracts.  Enough more that they can meet operating costs and make enough of a profit to make it worth their while.  The profit motive is the only reason anyone ever got into the health insurance business, exactly like any other business.

If everyone was in one big pool, costs would be lower.
Absolutely.  And why are there no bigger pools right now? The government prohibits health insurance programs from crossing state lines.  Which, incidentally, is untrue of auto-insurance.

The only way you're going to connect covering everyone to making money is if the government gets involved!
Huh? Expand your reasoning for me please.

A truly free market would dump sick people and cover only healthy people, because sick people are more expensive. It's common sense.
Actually, no.  If health insurance companies behaved that way, dumping you the moment you got sick, no one would buy it in the first place.  There's common sense for you.
I'm not talking about giving anyone anything for free. But mandated coverage will share the costs around, like you do with the police and the military.
You missed my point.  It's IMPOSSIBLE to give it away for free, because it's NOT free. It always costs.  All you're doing by getting the government involved is filtering taxpayer's money through the largest bureaucracy in the history of the world before it ever gets to pay for actual healthcare.  

I would have no problem paying into a limited government-run health insurance program designed to cover the hard cases, like pre-existing conditions and people who actually can't afford private insurance, if it could be run efficiently.  But, we already have those programs and they are not run efficiently. As you found, they suck. They're horrible, time-consuming, bureaucratic nightmares that provide sub-standard everything. If that's all you can afford, it's certainly better than nothing.  But it's not exactly the best case scenario.  And now we want to, essentially, expand those programs and penalize people for not participating?  I would like to decline please.

Everyone I've talked to in Canada is very happy with their healthcare system. I think there is a ton of misinformation out there, and I don't know why people are spreading it or what they get from it. There seems to be a need to fearmonger.
Ah, so those articles I linked to were made up from thin-air.  Well, I suppose that's possible.  Or perhaps the misinformation is on the other side of the debate as well.

My car insurance company returns excess profits to policyholders at the end of the year, has done so for decades, and it was ranked #1 in the US in 2006 for overall customer satisfaction. It WORKS.
And was it necessary for the government to mandate that behavior as you claim it would be for health insurance?  If it wasn't you've proven my point about the free market as opposed to government control.  The auto insurance industry is far less regulated than the health insurance industry.  So...what conclusions can we draw from that?

Everything Else / Re: Obama's Health Care plan
« on: August 26, 2009, 04:53:32 PM »
I am not entirely confident in the government's ability to make it work, but the free-market healthcare system has FAILED.
As I have said more than once in this thread, with examples, we haven't had a truly free-market healthcare system in DECADES.
It's laughable to blame the current healthcare woes on government intervention when executives and stockholders are making enormous amounts of cash.
Can't quite see the connection here.  Sounds more like class envy/warfare than anything else.  People are making enormous amounts of cash therefore those people are evil?
People are getting hurt, but no one's breaking the law, so we should leave the law the way it is and not change it? No. The law must be changed.

Agreed.  The law should be changed.  In fact, I couldn't agree more.  Several thousand federal regulations on healthcare should be stricken from the books. Take it back to an actual free market system and you will see prices for medical procedures as well as insurance plans drop and the range of care and types of insurance plans available multiply a thousandfold.

Thinking that shareholders and corporate execs will make life better for everyone if left to their own devices is foolishness beyond the extreme.
Agreed. Fortunately for me, that's not exactly the point I'm trying to make.  That point is this:  If you connect covering everyone directly to making money, which is the very definition of a true free-market system, then everyone gets covered. In the current state of things the government has made it expensive and in many cases illegal to offer plans tailored to high-risk or special cases.

I do believe Healthcare should be an inalienable right.
We'll have to agree to disagree here I suppose.  I simply can't in good conscience insist that my neighbor pay for my healthcare.

I think technology and society have progressed to the point where that's possible and practical. Many countries are making it work.

They're not actually.  Every case I've looked up, Canada, England, France, etc... are unsustainable financially.  Why they are unsustainable is wide open to debate, and they aren't actually working.

The underlying problem with giving everyone something for free is that nothing is actually free.  Everything costs something.  Putting the government in charge of a 'healthcare for everyone' system simply means that you're extracting the money for the system from private citizens at the point of a gun and then filtering that money through the government and lying about it being free.  Insisting that the government is the only entity that can run an intelligent healthcare system flies in the face of every single bit of my life experience.

Even if there is no government-run plan, we need to ban making a profit on health insurance. Everyone should be forced to buy coverage, and insurance companies should return all excess profits beyond a reasonable buffer to their policyholders at the end of the year.
Wow.  Just, wow.  This philosophy didn't work in communist russia, it didn't work in china, it hasn't worked anywhere. But I suppose we could try again with starry eyes and hearts full of hope.

Conclusion:  Yes, it would be possible to create a state-run health insurance/health care system that paid for itself and encouraged innovation, efficiency, and customer service.  The nature of government and bureaucracies themselves work against it though.  And the current plan on the table does none of the above.

Who ranks...? the world health organization, a part of the UN
First, keep in mind that places like Oman and Colombia rank above the US.  That says something about how they run those rankings does it not?  And have a look at this.

Everything Else / Re: Obama's Health Care plan
« on: August 25, 2009, 11:58:41 PM »
...but when you do it by denying medical care to people who need it most

I see this as a symptom of the problem.  How exactly do you define those "...who need it most"? Are they the rich old cancer patients who won't be able to get cutting-edge treatment under Obamacare or the poor students who can't get it now? They're both citizens right?

It also implies a belief that Healthcare is some sort of inalienable right. It's not and it never has been. 

As I pointed out earlier, the government itself drove the cost of healthcare into the stratosphere and its further, ever more pervasive, involvement will only make that worse.  The only difference will be that universally inefficient and sub-standard care will be subsidized by taxes and totally divorced from any need to respond to things like customers or results.

Quote are evil and deserve to have your cash cow taken away from you by the government
The same line of reasoning was used to legally force banks to give housing loans to people who could not afford them.  The result is the collapse of the housing market and the vast financial woes of the present day.  It won't work in this case either.  And, frankly, I find the idea that people who are not breaking the law 'deserve to have their cash cow taken from them'  disturbing. Do we really want the government to get into the practice of taking money from people who 'deserve' to have it taken from them irrespective of the law?  Really?

As for the government 'trying' to fix healthcare, when the man smashing away at your car's engine with a hammer claims fervently that he's trying to fix it you don't compare him to the mechanic across the street and say, 'well, at least hammer guy is trying to fix it,' and   encourage him to continue.  You make him stop and find the right way to do things.

I find it much easier to blame the greedy insurance company execs and their shareholders, who are trying only to make money. Sure, it's great to make money, but when you do it by denying medical care...
Those rich execs would absolutely love to field an insurance plan to every single person in the country. The more the merrier.  The more people they get on some kind of payment plan the more money they make.  Unfortunately, the kind of bare bones plan the kind of people I think you're talking about could afford is functionally prohibited by federal regulation.  The regulations insist that every plan (including those offered to 22 year old Mormon male students, ask me how I know) must offer breast cancer exams and prostate exams and phsychological counseling and substance abuse counseling and so forth ad nauseum, whether the purchaser thinks they need them or not.  It is federal law that requires silly things like this in the name of fairness. I find it to be foolish optimism in the extreme to suppose that getting the government more involved will improve matters.

Had a cool experience with JAG once.

A new and ever more complicated ROE (Rules of Engagement) had just come down about 2/3rds of the way through my Afghanistan deployment and everyone was worried about it because it was quite complicated and looked a little like someone was trying to get us killed, but no one was entirely sure.

Late that night we were getting ready to climb on helicopters to go do a cordon and search of a village thought to have Taliban in it when the Battalion commander showed up on the flight line.  He had is JAG officer in tow.
"Men," he said, "I know the new ROE has everybody worried and confused.  I'm going to clear that up." He patted his JAG officer on the shoulder, "My JAG here is my witness.  I am redefining this battalion's ROE until further notice.  If you feel your life is in danger, take any and all action necessary to eliminate the threat including deadly force. Now go and do good things."  He let the JAG leave and then hung out talking with the officers and senior enlisted in our element until we climbed on the birds.

I don't know if what he did was legal or not but it sure worked for us.

Everything Else / Re: Obama's Health Care plan
« on: August 25, 2009, 09:45:54 PM »
The current healthcare system in the US does suck.  It sucks because it's ridiculously expensive, time consuming, and confusing.  Ever tried to get your insurance company to correct a mistake they made?  You know what I'm talking about.

From my, admittedly limited, research and experience, the current healthcare system is all those bad things because the government started sticking its fingers in. 

For example, in the early days of medicare, in order to reduce costs, medicare informed the doctors on its rolls that it would pay only a percentage of any fee they charged.  The doctors, faced with getting only $50 dollars of a $100 dollar fee and $80 dollars of operating cost, simply upped their stated fee schedule until 50% (what medicare would pay) equaled $100 dollars.  Thus those patients who were not on medicare ended up paying $200 fees for $100 dollar procedures. Thank you government. 

Something similar happened when I sprained-maybe broke-my ankle during a military exercise earlier this year.  Because the bureaucrats screwed the military health insurance process up I ended up having to get deeply involved in who paid whom when and how much.  Long story short, the insurance company dictated every step I made during treatment (had to go to an emergency room instead of an instacare or simply waiting 'til my GP opened on Monday among other things) then screwed up the payment.  After the literally 10+ hours I had to spend on the phone with different entities, things finally got sorted out.  For an $800+ bill, the government run health insurance paid everyone involved a little over $170 dollars total and told them they'd like it or stop treating soldiers.  I honestly don't know how the doctors and hospitals make any money on that deal.

Which is, of course, the heart of the matter.  When the government gets into the game and insists on paying $170 for $800 bills and has the all encompassing power to say 'you'll accept it as payment in full or go to jail' we'll have broken the system forever. 

When there is no monetary incentive to build a better mousetrap (that being better, smarter, cheaper care in this case) people will stop fiddling with mousetraps.  And all we'll be left with is a committee of bureaucrats deciding whether or not to let you have that tried and true operation you're in desperate need of.  And when the government forces those evil pharmaceutical companies to operate at a loss on every new wonder drug in the name of fairness no more wonder drugs will be developed.

And when it gets so bad you'd like to take your business elsewhere, you won't be able to. You'll either pay or go to jail for evasion of taxes.

I caught Jon Stewart on the Daily Show peddling the idea that publicly funded healthcare would not adversely effect private healthcare and his laughtrack approved.  Silly morons, look at all the private universities that are 'doing just fine' in competition with public universities!

He didn't mention, if he even realized, that there is no such thing anymore.  Even 'private' universities today could not exist without federal funding.  Funding for their operating costs as well as their student's tuition.

And now the White house is asking us to inform on those who hold the opinion, and dare to speak it, that their healthcare reform is not a good idea. Yikes, Stalin anyone?

Books / Re: The Night Angel Trilogy
« on: August 20, 2009, 01:55:49 AM »
I read the first book as well and only barely managed to slog through to the end.  I think I'm  a lot more sensitive to the bad (IMO) melodrama that the book is soaked in.  I very much wish the characters had been all.

Reading it was very much like listening to my son and his 12 year old friends engage in a 'you know what would be cool...?' session after watching 6 graphically violent films in a row while pickling themselves in Mountain Dew. 

I give it a fairly vigorous 'Bleh' as opposed to Bookstore guy's rather timid 'bleh.'

Rants and Stuff / Re: General Religious discussion
« on: June 17, 2009, 06:18:18 PM »
I think there is a difference. The first statement is a response to Jade in which he is asking whether she is qualified to judge the historical veracity of the books she has read. He is not questioning that she has, in fact, studied the issue.
In the second statement she is claiming that none of her Mormon friends have actually studied the issue.
Ah, how mutable words can be.  Perhaps you are right.  I do not claim to be the ultimate arbiter of what people actually mean on the internet.  I freely admit that I could be wrong.

The irony I saw, however, was JK being labeled as a snob for asking if mtbm had studied historiagraphy, while mtbm smugly excoriated her friends for not studying the issues she considers pertinent.  Historiography itself is at least as relevant as the texts it would be used to analyse in this case.

That aside, I'd like to emphasize the importance of taking nearly everything you read about mormon history, from both inside and outside the religion with a hefty grain of salt.  Two examples.

*I read the first few chapters of Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven." I didn't bother to finish because in the first few chapters he egregiously misquotes the Doctrine and Covenants. I don't mean he flipped words around or made stuff up.  He simply took the verses out of context and implied terrible things that are only creditable if you don't read the verses before and after the ones he chooses to quote. Either he had an anti-mormon D&C scholar feeding him verses which he blindly planted and analysed in his book or he knew exactly what he was doing.  I found the former hard to believe and thus the rest of the book became irrelevant.

*Minor example concerning the murder of the prophet Joseph Smith.  I've read first hand accounts that explicitly state that Joseph had a pistol and fired down the stairwell at his assailants as well as a stick he used to attack them in self-defense before he went through the window. You will not find this in any of the "official accounts" of his death.  I suspect that is because the church leadership prefer, for some reason I personally can barely understand, the more peaceful version with the vigorous self-defense left out.

Long post to try and say 'take everything you read with a grain of salt.' 

In the end religion cannot be proven or disproven by history or logical analysis.  It always comes down to an individual's personal Q&A relationship with God.  And that's one thing the Mormon church teaches with vigor.  Question? Ask God.  He will answer you and you should do what he says.  Period.

Rants and Stuff / Re: General Religious discussion
« on: June 16, 2009, 06:28:59 PM »
This statement:
Is this a way of diffusing the argument, dearest JK, or are you really this much of a snob?
Coupled with this one from earlier:
I have read about the life and sayings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young written by Mormons, orthodox Christians and a certain "cultural Mormon," most recently.  I have compared these men's lives, writings and practices to men like Charles Spurgeon and Jim Elliot, Andrew Murray and Amy Carmichael (a woman! imagine that!), Michael Behe and  Hudson Taylor.  I urge anyone with an open and curious mind to do the same.  My Mormon friends are the nicest people in the world, but none of them so far have been willing to judge any of their early prophets by their fruits or compare their Mormon beliefs with the Bible.  I have a feeling that someone on this forum might be more intellectually sincere.
makes me giggle. 

JK's a snob for asking about your background AND your mormon friends are intellectually insincere if not lazy for not having the proper background of study, as judged by you.  Surely you can see the irony?

That little incongruence aside, your statements interest me.  Two questions 1: What's the title of the Bagley book your so proud of having read? I'd like to check it out.  2: Why do you say your mormon friends refuse to compare their beliefs to the bible?  Is it something specific to them or do you see a fundamental disconnect between mormonism in general and the bible.  In either case, what is it?

Dan Wells / Re: Dan Wells: The Devil?
« on: June 12, 2009, 09:30:00 PM »
Is that link supposed to go somewhere or do something?

Writing Group / Re: The D Word
« on: June 10, 2009, 08:58:36 PM »
Sorry, trying to make reasoned statements using the "Human's are wrecking the planet and we've got to stop...or we're all going to die!!!!" premise as gospel truth just makes me roll my eyes and look for something else to read.

Music / Re: You know what I need more of in my life?
« on: June 08, 2009, 06:40:31 PM »
I second Highwayman.  Love that one.  He talks about starships in it!

Also: The Mercy Seat, Sam Hall, Man in Black, Rusty Cage

Everything Else / Re: RIP David Eddings
« on: June 04, 2009, 05:56:32 AM »
Shoot.  I really liked a lot of his stuff growing up. May he truly rest in peace.

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