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Friday, October 16, 2009

Jews, Jobs, and Employment: A Response to the Guest Poster

Although I believe my guest poster is sadly mistaken, amongst the misconceptions regarding employment versus self-employment (i.e. the entrepreneur) I do believe that he has a point about developing an "entrepreneur mindset."

One of the Orthonomic issues I have noted through discussions, community involvement, and reading is that there is a quasi-socialist view on wealth production. Some examples might include the expectation that an employee of the kehilla or working for a frum-owned business be given a pay raise upon the birth of a baby. Afterall, the family now has higher expenses, right? Another item of note would be the workings of the Beis Medrash where marriage equals release from tuition as the bochur becomes a yungerman. And, I don't think there is anyone in the frum world who hasn't been approached with requests to give ploni a job.

Additionally, I don't know anyone who hasn't been informed of their (not so clear cut) "obligation" to support Jewish/frum-owned businesses. There are halachot that address when one is to patronize a Jewish owned business and when one does not have to do so. But the halacha clearly does NOT obligate us to hyper-consume. As the economy took a turn for the worse, many people made sure to remind us of our obligation to support frum-owned businesses in order to keep them afloat. And, certainly many of us have gone out of our way to patronize small-businesses in the community. But, you can't force someone to buy something they don't want, which is why it is very clear that we understand how wealth is produced.

One thing is certain, you cannot legislate the production of wealth, although you can certainly hinder the production of wealth, cripple the desire to produce income, even price workers out of the market. Sustainable, long-term wealth is not produced by giving people jobs, ordering that they be paid higher wages, or artificially bolstering markets. The Rambam certainly recognized this as he outlines the levels of tzedakah with the highest level of tzedakah being one of strengthening the one in need and making that person ultimately becomes self-sufficient.

Individuals (through the vehicle of a business entity) produce income by moving a product that has value to the consumer. They identify markets and delivers to those markets. Or sometimes they create markets from the ground up (incredible how a solid marketing campaign can create a need you didn't even know you had!). They understands basic economic concepts like supply and demand. They understand the importance of gaining and maintaining market share.

There is a classic work titled "Ideas Have Consequences." This is the phase that comes to mind when I see the constant and unrelenting marketing of certain philosophies within certain kehillot that the guest poster pushes. Ironically, the places where I have heard certain philosophies ***marketed*** with the most zeal generally are communities where income levels are lower.

Let's address a few of these philosophies:
1. "Employees only get rich on IPOs, stock options": We do ourselves and our children no favors when we create class warfare. "Working for the man" is a fantastic way to learn the ins and outs of an industry, develop marketable skills, make important contacts within the industry, develop the proper social skills for the business, and (yes) even earn an income. Ultimately, we are all entrepreneurs because we are selling our skills in the free market. No one is going to take an interest in "giving" us a job unless they believe that we can produce. And once we are in the door, if we don't take a certain level of initiative, create a niche for ourselves, and make ourselves indispensable, we won't last very long or increase income. Employees who figure out how to help their business cut cuts and increase income are routinely rewarded.

2. They are now saying the rules have changed - the formula of "get good education/grades = get a good job = get a good salary = good lifestyle & retire" is "old school"

I don't know who "they" is. But, there is a very clear correlation between education and income. Yes, there are success stories of kids who couldn't score high enough on the SAT to play college hoops going straight into the NBA, but they, like the (likely mythical) chassid who makes millions of dollars a year while signing X on the dotted line because he is illiterate, are outliers on a statistical analysis. We don't change our behavior based on miracles. And, let's not forget, the professional athlete has a very valuable education and has developed a skill set that falls nicely on the supply and demand chart.

Yes, a solid education and the development of marketable skills, combined with initiative and work ethic pays off!

And, pray tell, how many businesses are out there for which you can just open up shop with a limited education? Normally, having a developed skill set is a prereq. Oftentimes, you need a college education and a strong resume. One does need something to sell!

3. math & english can easily be made up for as an adult: I can't think of a more dangerous idea that is promoted in the frum world. Recently there was a story celebrating public funding being granted to yeshivot for remedial education. I'm not cheering. My own research on education shows that there are periods in time where a child is most ready to absorb certain skills. I think it behooves us all as parents to make sure that our children are getting a solid education in the basics early on. I'd run the other way from any educator that thinks spelling shouldn't be emphasized early on, or that a calculator can take the place of math drills. The capacity for developing a strong base in proper language and math skills is developed early on. And if you read the comments at YWN and VIN, you can see the horrendous results that follow.

And, on that note, quite frankly I'm not sure that a "Torah only" education is resulting in children who know how to think as you insinuate ("frum education teaches the linear & critical thinking skills necessary for entrepreneurship"). Perhaps the product isn't being delivered correctly, as great Rabbonim were the product of a Torah only education! (Updated: as Avi pointed out, this is perhaps more myth than fact. Certainly in Sephardi regions the greats were products of a classical education).

4. "maybe rich?" There are a lot of reasons to go into business for oneself. But, getting rich isn't one of them. You have a better chance of going broke. You also mentioned work/life balance. This is also a fallacy. If you want to succeed, you won't do so working 3 hours a week. You might not have to work set hours, but there are a lot of demands and those demands will most likely control you, especially from the get go.

That said, there are a lot of reasons to go into business for yourself! But getting rich isn't one of them.


ProfK said...

Thanks SL for the analysis. I think there is another thing that needs to be mentioned--competition.

Many people feel that competition is something "not nice." What it is is a fact of working life. When you apply for a job you are competing for that job against others who would also like to have it. How well you are prepared, your education and skill development, will decide whether you get that job or not. And on the job you will be competing with others for raises and promotions.

The same holds true with entrepreneurship. Unless you have managed to develop a service or product that absolutely no one else anywhere has,and is one that people need, you are going to be in competition with other business people. You will be competing for customers and for repeat customers. It is not enough to merely open a business: you have to work quite hard to keep that business viable.

There seems to be an attitude in much of the frum community that business skills aren't necessary, and competition is irrelevant, since the frum community "has" to support your business as you are also frum. No, it doesn't have to do so. There is no halacha that says that you must give to someone else when doing so will harm you, and harm has a broad definition. I'm not required to spend money I don't have so that you can sell me something. I am not required to overpay for an item when you have raised the price far out of the competitive range. I am not required to patronize your business if you do not treat me in a mentchliche way when I come in. I am not required to support shoddy business practices or buy less than stellar merchandise just because the business owner is frum.

Competition in business, whether as an employee or as an owner, requires hard work and a lot of it. The word "work," however, is considered a "swear" word by too many in the frum community. They don't want to hear about work, only about money.

It's not only the approach to education and skill attainment that needs changing--it's the attitude that is prevalent as well. People need to understand that "you don't get something for nothing."

Thinking said...

Most of the successful entrepreneurs I know have advanced degrees and have been successful first as an employee where they learned the ins and outs of the business.

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard
Steve Ballmer worked for Proctor and Gamble in sales
Mark Cuban worked in IT at Mellon bank

You need to be extremely smart, extremely educated, extremely hardworking and extremely lucky to be a successful entrepreneur. Anyone who has had success as an entrepreneur without these factors is an Outlier as SL mentioned.

Today, many of the OJ in the workforce lack patience, lack drive, lack motivation, lack encouragement, lack dedication, lack persistence, lack support and lack the education to make it work for them.

Sima said...

Thinking -- you are absolutely right. Not only was Bill Gates a Harvard student, but he went to excellent schools and was the beneficiary of a special program that exposed him and his classmates to the computer technology that was available at the time. Gates, as a boy and a teen, worked for hours and hours studying all types of computer programming.
Sorry, guys -- slackers do not become moguls.

Offwinger said...

Great post!

One thing that I would add to your post and Prof K's comment is the need to understand the concept of focusing on a "comparative advantage." I think it's implicit in the post and comment and should be made more explicit. It is important to understand markets and concepts of competition. This includes understanding when it makes sense to learn how to do something yourself & do it versus when it makes sense to hire someone else for that purpose. This is equally true of the people who may hire you.

Small businesses succeed when people figure out how to meet an un-met need (and/or create a new need) and then cater to that market, while still hiring out those elements that are best taken care of by someone else.

Comparative advantage is looking at what you can do better than someone else and focusing on that, while "outsourcing" the things that other people can do better or more cheaply than you can. It presumes that we are more productive in general when people specialize. In our current economy, which is service-driven, the best investment you can make is in human capital. Or in other words, the best thing you can do to earn income is to develop your skills so you have a comparative advantage in *something* that someone else values, whether it be an employer or an end-customer.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure that it's a problem of too many slackers in the community. If people aren't given the skills and education and experiences they need to compete in today's world and to get the good jobs/professions, and indeed are discouraged from doing so, (and it is made more difficult by having family responsibilites at a very young age), and in some communities the passive "sit and learn" is the ideal, it's easy to understand how people aren't motivated. Many American children are brought up with the notion that if you work hard, you can be or do anything -- an astronaut, a brain surgeon, a pilot, the next Bill Gates, find the cure for cancer, etc.. When you are brought up with the notion that if you conform and sit and learn, you can be like everyone else and maybe be a teacher or a speech therapist, that has to diminish the drive in some.

Anonymous said...

You bring something up in this post that I would like to comment on. I don't understand why the frum community continues to shot itself in the foot by making unwise economic decisions.

I live in a moderately sized community (outside the NY area). Every year, before pesach, the local kosher food market jacks up its prices 20%-50%, even on staples (juice, meat, cheese, wine, etc..) that aren't special passover goods. Last year, they had a sign that read "compare our prices to shoppers" (a supermarket less than 1/4 mile down the road). Well, I did, and the prices there were 25%-50% less, for identical items (in fact, someone had even written that on the bottom of the sign). Despite this, I know people who will only shop at the kosher place because its owned by jews \ hechered \ certified by the va'as \ we need to support the community \ etc...

How is this helpful? Who does this benefit?

JS said...

Have a family friend who is trying to start his own catering business (good example as it deals with entrepreneurship and serving the community). The guy went to culinary school and has worked for others for many years developing the skills he needs to hopefully be successful. He also works like a dog working and reworking recipes, advertising, generating word of mouth, dealing with vendors, dealing with customers, keeping the books, etc. Oh, and did I mention he's thousands of dollars in the hole so far and his "break even" date if everything should go according to plan is months away? On top of that he's working 12+ hour days every day.

Another interesting note is that he's trying to do everything not only kosher, but more upscale to attract non-Jewish and/or non-kosher customers. Towards that goal, his prices are only marginally higher than non-kosher prices. I asked him how he could possibly afford to that since kosher food is so expensive. His response?

"All the supermarkets, grocers, restaurants, and caterers are jacking up the prices tremendously - they're all ripping off their kosher customers. The prices are a bit higher, no doubt, but not anywhere near as high as they make it seem."

Miami Al said...

JS, Supermarkets are a historically low margin business, retail margins in the 4%. Super efficient stores go to hit 5%-8%. Convenience stores, by charging a premium of 20% over the Supermarket, all of a sudden his a 25% margin.

Pull up a menu for a local non-Kosher burger joint. A basic lunch, a quarter-pound burger, side of fries, on a bun, with lettuce, tomato, and onion... basic lunch fare?

At the Kosher place, no slice of cheese, and a higher cost on the quarter pound of meat. The fries, bun, lettuce, tomato, and onion? No cost differential (possibly a small one on the bun of the non-kosher supplier is cheaper, but its pennies).

However, since the Frum owner's basic lifestyle requires earning $150k-$250k/year to put 4 kids through Yeshiva, that's a LOT of overhead. Most restaurateurs eke out livings of MUCH less.

It ALL comes down to the Tuition situation. Tuition requies us to earn WAY MORE money for the same lifestyle, this means that our shopkeepers price their products for a MUCH higher income, which makes the business unsustainable.

Look at the prices in a Judaica store in a Frum neighborhood, then look online, the cost differences are astronomical. The Internet isn't new, brick and mortar stores have figured out how to compete. Now, for fun, go to a Judaica store catering to secular Jews, prices might not match online, but they are much lower than in the Frum store.

Kosher food premiums? Chicken premiums are SLIGHT, red meat pre-Rubashkins mess wasn't that much higher. The biggest exception in Brisket, since it's a poor quality cut of cow, it's dumped cheap ($2-$3/lb) but is priced as a delicacy in the Kosher world.

Biggest issues in Kosher food? Outrageous and ever-increasing requirements for "supervision" where the supervisor does less and less for more money to create work for the surplus "Rabbeim" we have.

The ever increasing slice of money that the Orthodox establishment is demanding is killing the community, raising costs here or there.

Julie said...

Strange. I find the prices at the Judaica stores that cater to non-frum Jews to be much higher than the stores that cater to frum Jews. It could be because I am looking at the prices of basic Judaica--tzitzit, lulav/etrog, seder plates, etc.--and not at the prices of silver items.

JS said...

Miami Al,

I have never heard of a single business where the owner says: "I need to earn X thousand dollars this year to support my personal life, therefore I will price my items at Y." I can't even imagine a small carpet store owner saying "I want to buy a Porshe and go on a cruise and I want a vacation home so I'll charge a $5/square foot markup on all my carpets." The entire idea is absurd. Granted I'm not saying kosher businesses don't do this, but I think it has more do with the fact that they CAN.

Also, not sure what you mean by kosher meats being only slightly more expensive.

From the weekly circular by me at the non-kosher supermarket:

80% lean chopped meat: $1.99/lb
Beef cubes (stew meat): $2.19/lb
Drumsticks/thighs: $0.99/lb
Brisket: $3.89/lb
Boneless chicken breast: $2.49/lb

Kosher prices by me are 2-3 times as much as these prices.

Dave said...

Kosher meat is factory farmed meat, with special slaughtering.

Non-Kosher factory farmed meat is much cheaper.

Non-Kosher quality meat is about the same price as Kosher meat.

Avi said...

SL, I agree with everything in your post except when you say that "great Rabbonim were the produce of a Torah only education!" I question whether that is historically accurate. It is my understanding that our great Rabbonim were fully versed in the scientific, mathematical, and literary knowledge of their time. Just because our idiotic modern Gedolim literature removes any mention of graduate level education they achieved doesn't mean you can take away the Rambam's scientific/medical knowledge, Rashi's fluency in multiple languages, or the Sages of the Gemara who clearly learned advanced (for the time) geography/time zones and algebra somewhere. :)

ProfK said...

All of the local supermarkets are again running their "Thanksgiving Turkey Special Promotions." Spend a certain amount before Thanksgiving and you can earn a free Butterball Turkey (some other name brands offered by some of the markets.) Here's the kicker: they will offer you $10 off if you wish to buy a kosher Turkey. Since the only kosher turkeys they sell are Empire I decided to look at what the price was now for those Empire turkeys. $20 and up. And as we get closer to Thanksgiving the prices of those kosher turkeys is going to go up, just as it does in the kosher butcher shops. It makes no logical sense, even with paying for a shochet/mashgiach, that kosher turkey should cost double what non-kosher turkey does.

Miami Al said...

That's my point, for the hamburger situation, it's slightly.

Non Kosher ground beef, $1.99/lb. Kosher ground beef, $5.99/lb.

Quarter pound of ground beef: 50 cents
Quarter pound ground beef Kosher: 1.50

Price differential for burgers and fries, ingredients, $1. Price differential in the restaurant, $4-5.

JS, the calculation you dismiss is there, it's implicit. The "cost" of the item is the Direct Cost of Goods Sold, and the Price is in theory, the market. However, to stay in business, you need to cover ALL costs, product + indirect costs.

Indirect costs include owner profit/salary. That requires inflating prices or moving more volume. If I expect to draw out $10k/mo., then the business covers that or I shut down.

Julie, you're looking at items that non-Frum Jews don't buy so have no concept of pricing on. Look at things like Mezuzah covers, presents, etc. Also, you need to find one that markets to moderate income Jews, not the wealthiest of them. Like the place I found that seemed shocked at the number of Mezuzot I was buying, she'd never sold more than one at a time before. :)

Tova said...

SephardiLady -

Excellent blog!

As a Jewish university student (with a frum Ashki background, though now I've rebelled) who is majoring in economics and hopes to teach the subject eventually, I applaud your writing. That you are even covering these issues is groundbreaking and academically inspirational. Thank you.

I had known about this blog for some time, but was wary of it due to the fact that I thought your writing would be an apologist's defense of the frum world's many economically ignorant behaviors.

Then I saw you were a Sfaradit. And I realized that, unlike the way so many of us Ashkis had been raised, you probably held an understanding of - and appreciation for - free-market capitalism. And you do. Kol haKavod!

I'd like to write some posts of my own about the sustainability (really, the lack thereof) of a system that demands "mandatory kollel time" and its similarities to communities where welfare/food stamps/public assistance dominates the neighborhood and rewards those who should really be working harder.

I'd also like to mention (and perhaps briefly review) your blog on my own site, if you agree. I really like what you've been writing!

Good Shabbos/Shabbat Shalom,

Tova Schreiber
'The Righteous Rasha'

Anonymous said...

ProfK, when my Shoprite runs the free turkey promotion (for Thanksgiving & Easter) it includes a kosher chicken or turkey breast. Also, when they ran this promo in the spring, frozen kosher whole chickens & turkey breast were on sale, about $1.99/ lb each. Of course since Shoprite stores are individually owned this is not true at every Shoprite.

Also, when shopping at chain supermarkets, I always check the kosher meat/ fish cases for good deals. I've found 80% lean ground beef for $1.99/ lb, ground turkey for $1.49/ lb, and salmon fillets & roasts for $4.99/ lb. Sometimes the sale items are close to the sell-by date, but I freeze them until I am ready to use them. Sometimes items close to the sell-by date have $2 or $3 off tags attached; when packages of different sizes are similarly tagged, I always choose the smallest ones for the lowest unit price.

Tova, lots of "Ashkis" do understand free-market capitalism. We're ashkenazim, and I supported our family for two years while my husband learned in kollel, then for several more years while he completed his education & training. We did not receive (or expect) financial support from family members. Only when I lost my job during the last year of my husband's training did we use Medicaid/ WIC to supplement our savings so he could finish his training (I was pregnant & couldn't find another job).

Anonymous said...

My husband started our service business living in a tent 31 yrs. ago, so he doesn't fit the college equals success format. He never went. While we employ 40 people and run it from an office now, my husband does wish he had better college-type skills: higher level math, writng skills, and keyboarding for instance. He has succeeded despite these handicaps, but we want more for our children. Only have one in mesivta now and one hschooling (one is grown) and I do require the above skill sets before they enter the day-school system.

We are fortunate, B"H. We learned everything the hard way. There is no doubt that diligence, thrift, and delayed gratification are essential in business success. People think we "have money" because we own a business. They have no idea how we turn every penny and budget to accomplish what we do. We live quite frugally. Having your own business requires more hours than working for someone else. The problems don't end when you go home at night. There is constant govt. interference, taxation, and regulation to inhibit growth (especially with the current govt.). If Gd forbid, national healthcare is implemented, we will not hire a single extra person and will most likely have to cut our workforce. Our goal is to stay in business (providing for ourselves and our employees) not subsidize an unworkable socialist liberal agenda.

SephardiLady said...

Tova--Thanks for reading and I'm glad you are really enjoying economics.

Please see this post (

Rabbi Wein has been writing and speaking about the ills effects of dependency under the title of "No Free Lunch."

Rabbi Wein is extremely eloquent and I know he is not alone in recognizing and addressing these issues in the community.

Julie said...

Anonymous, you say, "If Gd forbid, national healthcare is implemented, we will not hire a single extra person and will most likely have to cut our workforce. Our goal is to stay in business (providing for ourselves and our employees) not subsidize an unworkable socialist liberal agenda."

I know that I am going to come across as obxious, but that does not make sense to me. How are you "providing" for your employees? If you are providing health insurance to your employees now, how will national healthcare increase your costs? It seems like it would lower them since you will no longer have to pay health insurance premiums for your employees. And if you are not providing health insurance for your employees, how are they getting healthcare? Do you ask them to gamble that they will stay well? Are they getting insurance through their spouses? Then, you are freeloading from other businesses. Medicaid? In that case, you are freeloading on a public option that already exists.

Charlie Hall said...

Just checked for ground beef prices in my neighborhood:

80% Lean Chuck $3.29/lb
85% Lean Round $3.69/lb
90% Lean Sirloin $4.49/lb
Beef, Ground $2.99/lb
Ground Beef, Organic $5.99/lb
Ground Beef, Without Antibiotics $5.69/lb
Kosher Ground Beef $6.49/lb

The kosher beef is OU-certified from Meal Mart.

My wife and I are vegetarians so this doesn't affect us. ;)

Charlie Hall said...

"Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard
Steve Ballmer worked for Proctor and Gamble in sales"

But Gates did learn a lot while he was there. And Ballmer did graduate. (I lived in the same building with both.)

"if you conform and sit and learn"

If you conform you will never be a successful entrepreneur!

"the local kosher food market jacks up its prices 20%-50%"

This in fact is asur, as those of use learning Nezikim in the Daf Yomi would know. Is there any obligation to shop at a Jewish-owned store when the owner isn't Orthodox -- or says he is Orthodox but publicly violates halachah?

Charlie Hall said...

"an understanding of - and appreciation for - free-market capitalism"

The Torah does not have such an appreciation. To the contrary, we have commandments of leket, peah, shich'chah, maaser oni, which are the four commandments singled out by the Rabbis to be taught to prospective converts. We further have Shabat, Shmitah, and Yovel; the requirement that visitors to Jerusalem get free housing during the shlosh regalim, and numerous additional tithing requirements. Pricing something more than 1/6 higher or lower than the market is asur, as is stealing someone else's business. The community is required to provide education and health care to all, and leaders can issue decrees that severely restrict competition in the name of protecting existing businesses. And a beit din can declare your property ownerless and allow someone else to take it.

Ayn Rand would not be happy!

The Torah does recognize a limited right to private property. But that is reallly just the result of the prohibitions against theft and robbery -- everything really belongs to HaShem and I can't take it from someone HaShem didn't give it to. And Chazal accepted market pricing for many, but not all, valuations (such as in the prohibition against price gouging). But halachah is inconsistent with free market principles in many areas, as I have shown above.

"If Gd forbid, national healthcare is implemented"

How would you propose to provide health care for the entire community other than through such a plan? HaShem willing we will soon finally have in the US what Israel has had for decades: Universal access to health care.

Tova said...

Charlie -

One of the many reasons I'm no longer frum is that the halachic attitude towards wealth is often anti-capitalistic.

Also, I'm laughing quite hard at your assumption that socialized medicine is the same thing as 'access to medical care'.

Checking blog comments is tedious and costly time-wise. If you wish to engage me further, please stop by my blog or write an email. Thank you.

Tova Schreiber

SephardiLady said...

And a beit din can declare your property ownerless and allow someone else to take it.

Eminent domain exists in capatalist societies.

SephardiLady said...

Tova-If you want to keep up with the thread, you can check the box and have any further comments sent to your email box.

Tova said...

Very cool, SephardiLady. I'll take care of that this evening, hopefully.

What say you about my mentioning Orthonomics on my blog?

Charlie Hall said...

"Eminent domain exists in capatalist societies."

But you get compensated. A beit din does not have to compensate you when it takes your property. James Madison would not approve.

Charlie Hall said...

"One of the many reasons I'm no longer frum is that the halachic attitude towards wealth is often anti-capitalistic."

I'm sorry to hear that. As someone who remains frum I have to put God's word ahead of any secular ideology.

And one can still do very well running a business according to halachah. Just a half hour ago I was having a conversation with a frum billionaire.

"Also, I'm laughing quite hard at your assumption that socialized medicine is the same thing as 'access to medical care'."

"Socialized medicine" is a right wing buzzword that is pretty meaningless. What really matters is that everyone who needs health care can get it. There are a lot of models that work. For example, France and Israel do quite well with private insurance plans regulated and subsidized by the government, with private practice physicians and hospitals. In Canada the insurance is run by the government but the physicians are mostly private practicioners (and primary care physicians have a much better life there than in the US). In Britain almost all physicians work for the government. All of these models work better than anything in the US with the possible exception for Hawaii and Massachusetts. But there us no free market model that has worked anywhere in the world.
Economics is actually an empirical science and you should take note of that last fact.

Tova said...

"All of these models work better than anything in the US..."


Really? Britons pulling out their own teeth with pliers because there aren't enough dentists provided by NHS is better than American dental care?

I don't think so.

"Right-wing buzzword" is more of a buzzword than socialized medicine is...After all, socialized medicine is a reality for many people.

Dave said...

Actually, they were "pulling their own teeth with pliers" because they could not afford *private* Dental care.

In other words, in the one place where the British system approaches the American system, it had a significant problem.

SephardiLady said...

Tova-Feel free.

And there are numerous free politically conservative Orthodox Jews and Rabbis. There is a healthy debate. It is worth seeking out those who share your academic interests and seeking their Torah.

Tova said...

Untrue. According to every account published in the British (not to mention other countries') press, Britons pull out their own teeth because the dental-work rationing of NHS causes such long waits that citizens' teeth will rot unless they 'do dental work' themselves.

Furthermore, taxation levels in the UK approach intolerably high levels such that even those who MIGHT have been able to afford private insurance now cannot.

Are those clamoring for 'free healthcare' blissfully misinformed about the laws of economics when it comes to government regulation, or are they self-blinded?

Charlie Hall said...

Citizens of Britain, France, Canada, and Israel are healthier and longer-lived than Americans. There are huge shortages of primary care physicians all over the United States. Life expectancy in the US now ranks behind such health care powerhouses as Jordan and Bosnia. And if you don't have insurance, the allegedly high quality of US medical care will not help you one iota if you get sick.

The plural of anecdote is not data.
I deal with data.

Charlie Hall said...

"dental-work rationing of NHS "

Actually there is a shortage of dentists in the US, and it is getting worse. 49 million Americans live in areas with a shortage of dental providers. (And things are worse for primary care clincians and mental health practicioners.)

Charlie Hall said...

"taxation levels in the UK approach intolerably high levels"

The top marginal tax rate in the UK is currently 40%. Where I live the top marginal tax rate is 45% counting city, state and federal taxes.

Next myth?

Tova said...


So, because taxes in your area are even worse, taxes in other places must be at a desirable level? Wow.

And because the American health care system has problems, the health care systems in other countries must be inarguably better? Wow again.

I'm not wasting any more time arguing with apologists for Big Government.

Take care, now.

SephardiLady - I'll write a post on your blog before the end of the month, I hope.

Tova said...

P.S. Anyone with a basic understanding of economic theory knows that shortage and surplus are almost always the result of government-implemented price controls.


Offwinger said...

SL -

I know I expressed how I felt about a grossly uninformed guest post previously, but I do hope that this blog does NOT become a forum for guest posts by the uneducated.

Rather than stimulating the kind of discussions I've come to appreciate here, this thread has now been led down a path very different from the much-appreciated original post and has been hijacked. Please do not "reward" this behavior by providing your well-written and well-thoughtout blog as a forum for just anyone spouting opinions.

Anonymous said...


In response to your query about how are we "providing" for our employees. We give them MONEY for the jobs they do. The get to spend their money any way they want (still a free country..somewhat). We have a "service" business meaning it is a low-skill, low-education entry level job. We only offer health insurance to our 3 employees in management (the ones who have been with us for many years). If we gave insurance to everyone, we would cease to have a business and 40 people would have NO money to pay rent, buy food, or give tzeddakeh. It's really simple math.

Nationalized healthcare would coerce us to dump management onto Obamacare (an inferior product to be sure) or pay an 8% tax. Of course the plan is changing faster than a speeding bullet. Mamash..there is NO plan..just a blank check of more taxes with an unkown (although we can look at the debacle of Eurocare) regarding actual healthcare.

We are not the parents of our employees. How they choose to get their healthcare is not my/our business. We don't force them to work for us. They actually come and apply for the job. Nor are they "free-loading" if they pick it up through an insured spouse. Please brush up on capitalism and free markets. This is depressing.

Dave said...

The developed world countries with Universal health care all have better health results than the United States.

How does this constitute a debacle?

Commenter Abbi said...

Julie, none of your oppositions are making any sense.

As far as I've heard, the 8% tax would be for NOT having insurance. The point is for everyone to be insured- not for everyone to be insured by the government. I don't think Obama cares how pple are insured- as long as they are insured. So you would not be "forced" to "dump" your managers in "obamacare". You would be forced to offer some kind of insurance to all of your employees, but because everyone in the country would be "forced" to go on insurance and the insurance companies wouldn't be allowed to dump high risk pple, the numbers will hopefully go down and it won't be the burden it seems to be today.

This is the unfortunate part of having an employer based system and why I enjoy our system here in Israel so much more, where consumers actually choose their own insurance and take it with them and employers have nothing to do with basic healthcare insurance or delivery whatsoever.

I'm fascinated by pple who object to universal healthcare by saying they are not other pple's "parents"- do you also object so vociferously to public schooling? Why are you not picketing the fact that your taxes are being used to provide schooling to all the kids in your neighborhood (and probably not your own if you're frum)? Don't they all have parents who should be funding their education?

SL- I agree with the previous commenters about guest posters and certain commenters I enjoy the conversation here and would hate for it to be "hijacked".

Commenter Abbi said...

David- I think the debacle is that all the other developed countries make the US look so bad.

I can't believe 6 months into this debate people are still so uninformed. That's "mamash" depressing.

Julie, I'm also not clear on why "Eurocare" is a "debacle". Every statistic coming out of these countries shows high rates of satisfaction and HIGHER rates of life expetency and lower rates of infant mortality. You haven't explained why the US, with its fantastic med care, is ranked 35th in the world for life expectancy ( Behind almost every other European country. How is that possible?

Please explain.

Tova said...

Abbi, I'm sure you're aware that governments cannot provide most services as effectively, efficiently or cheaply as the market can. Case in point: Look at USPS, and then look at UPS and FedEx. (Unfortunately, a series of regulations has prevented the latter two from offering certain services that only USPS may legally perform. This diminishes choice and discourages price reductions over time.)

If you'd like to discuss things that are 'mamash depressing', perhaps you could write about the fact that most Americans today erroneously think that our current health care system is privatized and unregulated, when the exact opposite is true.

Also: Explain to me, if you can, why it is the government's place to punish a private citizen for not buying health insurance.

The fact of the matter is, government is almost always unable to 'compete' with private corporations, unless laws are put into place that favor the federal option(s). In the case of health care, a public program would need strong laws to hold it afloat, thus unfairly hurting private insurers and causing them to go out of business. This would lead to an increase in public health care coverage, diminishing consumer choice due to legalistic favoritism.

I wouldn't oppose vouchers to help provide citizens with health care coverage, but the plan favored by Congressional Democrats (and some Republicans and others) would hurt businesses, as it would necessarily give the public option an unfair advantage.

Anyway, this is off-topic and it's late.

I look forward to continuing my browsing this blog as time goes on.

Dave said...

Also: Explain to me, if you can, why it is the government's place to punish a private citizen for not buying health insurance.

Because that is the only way you can also require that insurance companies do not block coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

Otherwise, people could simply have no health insurance at all until they got sick, and only buy it when they needed it. This does unpleasant things to both the costs of insurance and the financial viability of insurance companies.

This is not a difficult answer to find; in fact it is addressed in any detailed discussion of the facts of health reform proposals. Which makes one wonder why you were not aware of the actual answer.

Anonymous said...

Interesting factoids on Eurocare:
Average wait for mammogram in Italy is 70 days.
French workers pay 19% of earnings in taxes for health insurance and yet 90% purchase complementary private insurance.
In the UK, 20% of patients with treatable colon cancer at the time of discovery are considered incurable by the time treatment is made available.
In Canada the Supreme Court ruled that govt. must stop restricting the private sector from providing health care when the national system (frequently) fails. "ACCESS TO A WAITING LIST in not access to health care" (Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin).
If you don't think health care will be severely rationed you're deluding yourselves.
I have 10 doctors between all our family members. I asked each one what they thought of Obamacare. Even the ones that (naively) voted for him, were horrified. Most said they would cut back their hours, one (surgeon) said they would set up clinics in Caymen Islands, one (from China) said that old people overused the system and should be restricted from using it so much (!). If most of the docs will cut their hours and we add tens of millions of people to the system. How does that work exactly?? Try this experiment on your own docs. It's enlightening:)

Chaim said...

So let me see if I got this right, it is not OK to coerce people to buy from a hamish store, but it is OK to coerce people to subsidize the healthcare system. Or is it the other way around?

Conservative scifi said...


Just had to respond to your dental example. In Maryland, Deamonte Driver, a young 12 year old boy, died in 2007 because he didn't have health insurance. According to the article, a routine $80 tooth extraction might have saved his life, but his family lost medicaid coverage.
(search "for want of a dentist" by Mary Otto in the Washington Post for the entire article).

In the opinion section of the Washington Post on Sunday, there was an article by a Republican name John Hewko (apparently a Bush political appointee) who cannot get reasonable private insurance and was, in his words, given a "flat-out denial" of comprehensive coverage, because he has borderline hypertension and mild stiffness in a hip. He is not unhealthy, apparently an avid cyclist and hockey player who doesn't smoke or drink with healthy screenings otherwise.

Anyone who argues that our system isn't broken is disingenuous. In a society as wealthy as the US, we shouldn't limit health care coverage to the old, the very poor, the military, and the employed. If you are working and earning more than minimum wage, but have an employer who doesn't offer health insurance, you shouldn't be locked out of the system.

I would be interested in knowing if those opposed to reform have health insurance. If they do, who pays? If they are not on a government plan, what is their plan if they get a serious condition and then lose their jobs (so they have a preexisting condition which will prevent them from getting private insurance).

Julie said...

Wait, a minute, Abbi! I am pro-unversal healthcare! Read my comments.

I still hold that YOU are free loading. You hire people who in reality cannot get access to good health insurance unless it is through a spouse's employer. Because there is no mandate for health insurance, individual health insurance is close to impossible to get for anywhere near an affordable price. (Insurance companies are understandably afraid that the only people who will sign up for it are already sick.) You say that it is not your responsibility to provide your employees with health insurance. In today's US society, you are correct. If you provided them with health insurance and your competitor did not, then you would be at a disadvantage. That is why you should support mandatory government regulated healthcare. It would even the playing field for everyone.

JS said...

I hate getting into politics, but I just want to point out how saddened I am that frum Jews are so heartless. The Torah is so fundamentally about caring for the disenfranchised: the poor, the stranger, the widow, the orphan, and the levi. As if it wasn't clear enough from the Torah, the prophets bring the point home over and over and over again. I don't understand how frum Jews don't get this.

To me, this isn't a political issue. EVERYONE should want people to be cared for and not abandoned like yesterday's garbage. Didn't we just say over Rosh Hashanaha and Yom Kippur: "Please, God, don't send us when we become old, when we become enfeebled don't abandon us!"? The politics should be about how we can implement a better system, providing health care for all shouldn't even be a question.

What does it say about our society that we only care for those lucky enough to have a job that pays for insurance, don't have pre-existing conditions, and can afford the premiums?

Yes, other countries health care systems have problems, but aren't they at least on the right track?

Jeffrey said...

My comment is addressed to all of those who are complaining about government intervention, government handouts, etc. Please remember that the Chasidic communities are among the biggest beneficiaries of food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8. It's not just the individuals portrayed in negative lights on television. The poverty rates in places like Williamsberg, Monroe, New Square are astounding, and many only get by through handouts.

I can somewhat understand those who say that such handouts only perpetuate a long-term cycle of dependency. But before we start railing against the President, welfare queens, poor people, let's remember that we have a lot of involvement here too.

Commenter Abbi said...

Sorry Julie, I mixed you up with Anonymous employer.

"If you don't think health care will be severely rationed you're deluding yourselves."

Truly, this is my absolute favorite line from anti-reformers. Right up there with "Keep the government's paws off my Medicare!". Because if you don't think healthcare is already rationed for millions of Americans, you are suffering from serious delusions. For the millions of Americans without insurance, a 70 day wait for a mammogram sounds great next to NEVER having a mammogram and discovering breast lumps when it's too late to do anything.

That's what ya'll don't get when you rail against reform. Scaring pple with lame statistics like that is useless for pple who are getting exactly NO care at the present.

Do you like your insurance? Does it give you next day service for mammograms and MRIs, no questions asked? That's great- you'll be able to keep it, probably at lower premiums once the insurance pool has widened to accept everyone.

Turn off Fox news for 5 minutes and read a real newspaper.

Tova said...

...Like WSJ, for instance? That paper's editors oppose ObamaCare, does nearly every well-known economist in this nation.

And the minute you claim FNC to be the only reason for non-Left views, your credibility gets shot.

ProfK said...

I've got to love an argument about a health reform plan that 1)has no specifically laid out format, 2)Is mired in multiple competing bills in both the House and the Senate, 3)has language in it that even the lawyers cannot figure out, never mind the rest of us, 4)that is going to put this country into debt to the tune of trillions upon trillions of dollars(which our children and their children down the line will inherit)--the only fact that seems clear from all the bills and 5)comes with the very real concern that the oldest people will be shunted aside when it comes to comprehensive, long-term medical care. And there are other serious issues that need to be clearly laid out before any kind of fruitful debate can be had. Sorry, but so much of the "discussion" on this topic is "full of the sound and fury, signifying nothing" because there are no real facts on the ground to be discussing.

Re the young boy who died from a dental problem, US law is that no hospital may turn away someone from an emergency room or clinic. An impacted tooth could have been treated at such a facility.

gavra@work said...

Keep the government's paws off my Medicare!

No really, (since we are on a HC rant) costs are the key, and no one is willing to LOWER costs to other countries' levels.

If you want the best care that money can buy, expect to pay for it.

That is why a possible answer is a public option, but with bad access & tort control so that no one will want to be on it. Also possible is "The Catastrophic Option" such as in today's NYT, but with the government paying doctors & hospitals on salary & no recourse for lawsuits (i.e. fixed costs).

More to the point, my Rav Paskined that you are not mechyuyav to spend an additional penny to support jewish businesses. Also for all theose who do spend more, they should remember that every penney they spend on jewish stores is one they don't give to their schools (especially if they don't pay full tuition!)

YoelB said...

How this applies in different communities and different approaches to chinuch is a question that I can't answer, but there is an extremely interesting book that is germane to any discussion of education: James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds.

He identifies four factors essential to the formation of what he calls wise groups (in which, as Wikipedia sums it up, "a diverse collection of independently-deciding individuals is likely to make certain types of decisions and predictions better than individuals or even experts,") as opposed to mobs or foolish investors in a bubble. They are:

Diversity of opinion: Each person should have private information even if it's just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
Independence: People's opinions aren't determined by the opinions of those around them.
Decentralization: People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
Aggregation: Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.

If Surowiecki is right, then for the health of a community, education ought to seek to maximize independence and sound diversity of opinion.

Anonymous said...

How many of the people here who advocate us insuring all our employees and thus going out of business, depriving the yeshivot of tuition, teachers of salaries, kosher vendors of shoppers, etc. indeed have ACTUALLY taken the personal risk (living in a tent in my husband's case) of starting and running a business (and I don't mean a lemonade stand). Unless you have...well, it's like telling children why they can't eat chocolate cake three times a day. blessings all:)

Commenter Abbi said...

Anonymous, it's unfortunate that you insist on seeing this through your own victimized lens of the "poor business owner" instead of seeing it for what it really is- a huge systemic problem that will hopefully find systemic solution satisfactory to all- business owners and employees.

I live in Israel and enjoy the a very high standard of UHC that thankfully so do all of my fellow Israeli citizens. I couldn't imagine having to deal with a crap system like this and out of control tuition for my 3 kids.

Tova said...


Business owners who get demonized by people like you are engaging in 'victimization.' But proponents of socialized health care - who rely on emotions and not on economics - to make their argument aren't?

Just out of curiosity, Abbi: What do you think the profit margin for an average business is these days?

Anonymous said...

A very good reason to require private citizens to have health insurance is to avoid cost shifting when they inevitably get sick. We already pay indirectly for their emergency room costs and their social service benefits if they are unable to pay for the health care they are unwilling to insure against. Emergency rooms are not exactly the most cost effective way of providing services.

Are any of the folks arguing against universal health care uninsured themselves? I guess there are isolated individuals, but probably not most of them.

I'm with Abbi, Julie, JS, etc here.

Anonymous said...

And as for dental care: there is sufficient and acceptable quality dental care in the UK. The fact is that dental care is not a priority of many Britons, particularly older ones. Why are Americans obese? Because we are not overly concerned about our waistlines. Why do Britons have bad teeth? Because they do not use dental care until it's too late.

A British dentist was being interviewed by the NYT and was asked how many of his patients flossed. He was taken aback. "Floss?" he said incredulously. "That's a good one."

Tova said...

It's disturbing to see so many people here, who support free-market solutions in other areas of life, find no quarrel with government coercing citizens into purchasing insurance policies.

Doesn't liberty matter anymore? Or is socialism only bad when kollels and day schools engage in it?

Anonymous said...

I guess I wouldn't coerce people to buy, if they signed a contract that they would pay out of pocket up front when they needed care, even emergency care. But then you'd tell me I'm unfair for having the ambulance drive away without them, when they couldn't pay.

Anonymous said...

And who says I support free-market solutions in all ways of life? We have public schools, subsidized transportation, infrastructure paid for by taxes, etc. I don't build my own highway when I want to go somewhere.

Tova said...

'But then you'd tell me I'm unfair for having the ambulance drive away without them, when they couldn't pay.'

I would?

'And who says I support free-market solutions in all ways of life?'

Not I. Pay attention, if you're able.

I have class shortly. Have a lovely day.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Tova, I was joking about having ambulances abandon people who can't pay, but you in all seriousness would support this?

Either completely heartless or the arrogance of youth ... I'll assume the latter since you're headed off to class.

SephardiLady said...

tesyaa-I think you missed Tova's question market. She does not support leaving those without insurance!

Regarding Charlie Hall's comments on a Beit Din taking property without pay. Eminent domain, despite pay, works such that it destroys property values around it at just the hint of a potential project. The government reimburses at current market value, which might well be a loss (especially to businesses who really suffer the brunt of the hit both in the loss of value in the neighborhood and ultimate loss of the business if the project goes through) especially where improvements have been made to the home for which the value is completely lost.

Commenter Abbi said...

As someone who is studying economics, you should be well aware of economic facts in support of UHC should be clear. The US spends the highest percentage of GDP (16%) on healthcare of all the developed countries in the world, it can't even manage to cover its entire population and it has abysmal life expectancy and infant mortality numbers. Any other business in any other sector with results like that would be considered an absolute economic failure. But since so many actual businesses are actually profiting from this mess (like insurance companies, private hospitals, some doctors, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies) , it's allowed to continue. Only the people who need actual healthcare get the shaft.

As for the profit margins for small businesses, I would imagine they are postcard thin. I think it's absurd to begin with to link employment with healthcare coverage (once again, speaking as someone who enjoys uhc with portable coverage that is in no way linked to my employment). Unfortunately, that's the system you're stuck with there and unless there's a public option that would take the burden off the shoulders of small business owners, you're stuck with it.

But, don't forget to keep the government's paws off grandma's Medicare!

SephardiLady said...

But since so many actual businesses are actually profiting from this mess (like insurance companies, private hospitals, some doctors, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies) , it's allowed to continue.

And lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers!!!! Medical malpractice can run over $100K for certain doctors. Lower the malpractice insurance and the prices will come down too.

Anonymous said...

Tova...the future looks bright with people like you in it! You do understand economics. Note that NONE of the people that favor this tinker-belle "universal" nirvanna health care have their own businesses.

BTW, without tort reform universal health care is an obvious scam. NONE of our politicians that want to cram this third-world care down our throats will volunteer to be on the program themselves. Isn't that telling?

My best friend who made aliyah 2 yrs. ago said the govt. plan there is so low-level they have to supplement to get an American equivalent. They are happy with their SUPPLEMENTAL plan. Also, how can anyone compare nationalized care for 6 million Jews to 300 million of every ethnicity. It's bizarre. But liberals don't deal in the world of real facts, economics, and consequences. That's why they have their hands out for govt. freebees. Obviously, they don't get that it is all coming from confiscating our wealth and liberty.

BTW, my oldest son and his wife (31 and 26 yrs. old) have NO insurance and both have real chronic health conditions. While it is painful to watch (and we help them as we can) we STILL do not favor national health care and to their credit (since they do understand liberty vs. tyranny) neither do they.

To the poster who expressed chagrin that frum Jews don't understand the Torah obligation to help the poor, I would offer that it is they who don't get the mitzvah of tithing (10-20%). It is the kehillah that has that obligation not the goyishe govt.. Even (and especially) Xtians take this obligation seriously, as opposed to liberal Jews who have substituted statism and liberalism for Judaism.

Tova said...

"Even (and especially) Xtians take this obligation seriously, as opposed to liberal Jews who have substituted statism and liberalism for Judaism."

Kol HaKavod, Anonymous 11:14! And I'm saying that not being too frum anymore.

Also, thank you for the compliments. Off to my Macro lecture!

SephardiLady - Great point about the legal stranglehold on medical care. That is one of the primary reasons that doctor's visits, et cetera are so expensive.

JS said...

I was the poster who was shocked that frum Jews could so easily turn their backs on fellow human beings who are also tzelem elokim and put their faith in capitalism as if it was a Torah True value.

What bothers me most about this debate over health care is that there is no alternatives presented by the other side. The current system is just a complete and utter mess from the top down. This comment will likely be long, but I hope people will find it interesting to read.

My father in law is a doctor. He barely practices medicine anymore because malpractice is so high and insurance reimbursements are so low. He can only make money by scheduling patients for expensive tests they don't need (MRIs, cat scans). He's too honest perhaps for his own good and refuses to do this. He gets reimbursed next to nothing for the preventative care that would actually help his patients. The current system only cares about fixing things, not preventing them from breaking in the first place. So what does he do to make money? He works for the insurance companies seeing patients with claims and trying to discover if they're faking it (think car crash and a person claims their neck hurts and they can't work). This is what our system has come to, doctors trying to deny people care instead of providing people with care. The entire system is run by the insurance companies.

My brother in law and sister are both in medical school. They are each taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt between college and medical school. They went in with one desire: to help people. Now with the debt mounting and finally being exposed to different areas of medicine they realize that helping people is naive and would leave them poor and unsatisfied. No one in medical school talks about being a generalist ("just" an internist). You must become a specialist, it's the only way to make any money and pay off your debts and live a life comfortable enough to justify your incredibly long education and long hours at work. On top of that, many practices are shunned because the malpractice is just too high. My sister wanted to be an OB/GYN until she learned the malpractice is over $150k a year generally. On top of that you have to do certain types of procedures (such as surgeries) frequently because of the way insurance reimbursements work. Also, the amount of paperwork and "cover your butt" forms that must be filled out is staggering. Surely documentation is a good thing, but it's done to a ridiculous level due to fear of lawsuits and insurance requirements (they won't reimburse without proper documentation and forms). My brother in law is shying away from certain fields after seeing that doctors there spend over half their day doing paperwork and forms instead of seeing patients. And to that last point, you can't spend any time with patients! Insurance companies reimburse for procedures, not for time spent. Both my sister and brother in law are shocked at how shabbily patients are treated and how spending more than 5 minutes on a diagnosis is considered bad practice. It's better to send them off for a battery of tests, which the insurance company will reimburse, than sitting and talking to them.

I would also note how horrible care is in many areas of this country. I find it laughable that people argue about how wonderful health care is in this country over other countries when they live in the tri-state area, have jobs, have money, and have 10 specialists sitting in the same row as them in shul, plus a hospital and hatazallah moments away.

JS said...

There are parts of this country without a doctor or dentist for miles and miles and miles. I remember reading an article a while back about traveling dental clinics that go up and down the Adirondacks treating people from town to town. The people come from miles around and enter a raffle to get treated. Only 500 or so thousands who apply get treated. And you know what the most common request is? Pull out all of my teeth. The dentists reply that only a few are bad. They say pull them all out. Why? Because they know the rest will rot soon as well due to lack of fluoridated water, lack of availability of dentists, too poor to travel out of the area to see someone, etc and they were lucky enough to win the raffle and probably will never have this opportunity again. So, they have all their teeth pulled and get dentures so they don't have to worry anymore. And people laugh at England. This stuff happens in our backyard, in the richest country in the world.

What's sickening is that we spend more than any other country and yet we get the worst care. We live shorter, more of our babies die.

I don't agree with his politics (in fact, I'm fairly conservative), but you should really see the movie "Sicko" by Michael Moore. It literally had me in tears. And yes, I know he is manipulative - but, these stories are real. People who have insurance and the insurance won't cover it and they die. You're at the wrong hospital, we don't take that insurance, and the person dies while being transferred. People getting kicked out of hospitals in the middle of the night by hospital workers who take them, disoriented, and put them on a taxi to a shelter, drugs that cost hundreds of dollars a month here that cost pennies on the dollar in other countries.

The system is completely broken. If you don't like the ideas the democrats are putting out there, the least you could do is come up with something else.

Don't let the perfect by the enemy of the good.

Tova said...

"What's sickening is that we spend more than any other country and yet we get the worst care. We live shorter, more of our babies die."

Lying doesn't help your argument. "We get the worst care"? Come on, man. You can do better than that. Also, you haven't taken into account the high abortion rates in countries with lower infant mortality rates.

We do live shorter lives than in some other countries, yes - by maybe a year or so. It's not like the Canadians are living decades longer than Americans are. By the way; other countries' citizens engage in healthier habits than Americans do much of the time; do you think that their "better health" is due solely to their socialized medical care?

You ask us not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but you are doing exactly that by bashing (good) American health care in favor of a perfect utopia which can never happen.

Also, you are forgetting what the role of government is and should be.

JS said...

There are different conceptions of what the role of government is and should be. Classifying one thing as "socialist" and another as "capitalistic" doesn't help anyone or anything - it's just labeling to try to make a point without having to argue its validity.

At least be consistent if you're going to scream "socialism!" Get rid of public schools, public libraries, the postal system, social security, the progressive tax system, medicaid, welfare, etc.

You chose to ignore my two pleas for a better plan. Tell me what would be better than the current system or at the very least how you would fix the current system. You also ignored my anecdotes about my father-in-law, sister, and brother-in-law. Do you not think these are problems?

Please also explain to me why, as a nation, we do not have the worst care amongst advanced nations. Are you forgetting we have 50 states and not everyone has 100 doctors in a 5 mile radius?

And your point about abortion is just issue-switching. Point is, many people in this country have limited access to care and many hospitals do not have the latest and greatest medical equipment and trained doctors. Look at infant mortality rates in religious, but poor areas - low abortion rates and still high infant mortality.

Other nations have better health for myriad reasons, diet amongst them. This point was raised by me as well when I pointed out our health care is centered around procedures and not around preventative care. In other countries preventative care gets more attention.

As for your point about perfection, I don't recall anywhere that I mentioned a utopia or a desire for a perfect system. I pointed out how our system is broken and noted that republicans and conservatives haven't proposed anything better. Again, give us ideas, promote debate.

Instead, all you hear is "we're good enough dammit!" and "we're not socialists!" and "obamacare!"

Wonderful sloganeering, bad ideas.

Commenter Abbi said...

JS, it's like talking to a wall. You'll get better ideas about healthcare from my pet hamster.

Also, JS, your forgot that even in NY, making a same day appt with a GP is hopeless, which is why more people are turning to "docs in a box" for routine medical care.

Believe me, I appreciate my medical care every day. My physical therapy was covered last year when I hurt my back, my clinic offers post natal exercise classes to help women get back into shape. An internist is always available to see me and for an extra fee 60 shekel will make housecalls.

Someone earlier in this thread had friends who complained they had to buy extra insurance to get "American style" care. I've lived here for 8.5 years and I've never gotten around to getting private insurance. I'm guessing this friend wasn't happy about not having her own OB at a birth, which is the only thing that is drastically different from American care. I've had two babies delivered by regular midwives in the hospital and both births went great.

We have a central emergency care clinic that is open till midnight every day for late night ear infections or any other non severe emergencies, thereby only leaving severe cases for the ER. There's even a special clinic for pregnant women open till 11 if you're feeling something but not sure it's the real thing.

Our system isn't perfect nor is it utopia and I've had plenty of frustrations and heard plenty of horror stories. But I definitely feel that our family has so far been cared for. Which I think is severely lacking in the US system.

Tova said...

'JS, it's like talking to a wall. You'll get better ideas about healthcare from my pet hamster.'

I could say the same thing about you, though I'm not that impolite. I prefer my rescued greyhound to a rodent.

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