Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Supreme Court justices should be elected

UPDATE:  okay, turned out better than I expected.  Let's not elect them, but still give them term limits.


This is my pre-emptive post reacting to the near-future decision by the Supreme Court on Obamacare.  Maybe they'll preempt my preempting by doing the right thing instead, but I doubt it.  My best guess from reading Kennedy's and Roberts' questions is the same as the conventional wisdom, that they'll at least strike down a significant portion of the ACA on the fatuous activity/inactivity distinction.

I read Bush v. Gore the day it came out - five judges with little (Kennedy, O'Connor) to no (other three) history of ever caring about equal protection before that point suddenly joined two of the other four who also saw a problem in how the Florida Supreme Court was conducting the vote recount, but the five then refused to fix the problem but rather just stopped the recount.  The five used a contorted decision-making process to reach that result and then declared it had no effect on any subsequent decisions, to make sure their decision didn't accidentally provide equal protection to people who actually needed it.

Less well-known outside of environmental law is the SWANCC case, where the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling pretended the Clean Water Act didn't rely on the Commerce Clause for its constitutional authority, but only on constitutional authority to regulate navigable waters.  They made this up, because the majority wasn't ready to address the extent of the Commerce Clause.

Skip to 2012, where they'll soon adopt this activity/inactivity distinction.  Kevin Drum has a good take on it:

Of course it [ACA] was constitutional. Even Randy Barnett, the law professor who popularized the activity/inactivity distinction that opponents latched onto as their best bet against the mandate, initially didn't really think it was anything but a long shot. 
So how did that conventional wisdom change so dramatically in only two years? Ezra Klein writes about this in the New Yorker this week, but hell, Ezra's a liberal. He's probably sort of flummoxed too. Instead, let's hear what a nonliberal has to say about it:
Orin Kerr says that, in the two years since he gave the individual mandate only a one-percent chance of being overturned, three key things have happened. First, congressional Republicans made the argument against the mandate a Republican position. Then it became a standard conservative-media position. "That legitimized the argument in a way we haven't really seen before," Kerr said. "We haven't seen the media pick up a legal argument and make the argument mainstream by virtue of media coverage." Finally, he says, "there were two conservative district judges who agreed with the argument, largely echoing the Republican position and the media coverage. And, once you had all that, it really became a ballgame."

I've previously supported 18-year term limits for the Court, partly as a way to reduce the politicization of the nomination process by reducing the stakes involved, but that's not enough.  We're in the worst of possible worlds right now, with a Court making political decisions but without political accountability.  Let them face the voters if they've decided to be politicians as well.

It's not going to happen.  Term limits don't seem likely to happen either, although Democrats should at least lift a finger in support of it.  Elections shouldn't happen with lower judges who are bound somewhat by precedent, but term limits should.

Despite the terrible image we lawyers have, I like to think there's at some background level an integrity about the law that can overcome politics.  With this Supreme Court, though, maybe we should admit our weakness and bring democracy to limit the politicized "justice".

62 comments:

dbostrom said...

I don't think words could begin to describe the perverted campaign nightmare inevitably ensuing from an elected Supreme Court. No, a thousand times, please, no. Not without ironclad campaign finance policing and limitations. Certainly not until the public has proven itself able to competently and consistently elect members of lower political units passing certain litmus tests of attachment to reality, such as ready and willing public acknowledgement of evolution.

The Supreme Court is predominantly composed of warts just now, granted, but on the other hand many is the justice who grew into the role, given time and the comfort of knowing they were answerable only to their conscience.

Martin Vermeer said...

Must agree with Doug here. Without campaign finance reform you could just as well auction off the seats.

EliRabett said...

OTOH fixed 15 year terms might be a better way to go

dbostrom said...

...fixed 15 year terms might be a better way to go

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

William O. Douglas

Earl Warren

Warren E. Burger (barely fifteen years but a particular case of "rising to the occasion)

The list of competent justices w/careers spanning more than fifteen years goes on. There are lots of ringers, too, and of course they're all human and so are complex and not easy to pigeonhole.

Throw them all out, good with the bad? That's simply not a rational way of improving the court.

There's a tendency (not a rule) to get decent Supreme Court justices by electing intelligent and honorable politicians.

If the court could stand improvement it would be in the nature of ensuring that members lead a more monastic existence. No speaking fees, no winking participation w/the Federalist Society, etc.

Jeffrey Davis said...

The SCOTUS ignored vote suppression (around 100,000 unambiguous ballots were cast out because they were "double strikes" -- a technique poor and/or black Floridians had evolved because of Florida's horrible history of voter suppression) and decided the case on Equal Protection grounds. The justification was so makeshift that the actual meaning of the decision was to send the "gunboat diplomacy" message: Because We Can.

Jim Eager said...

Ditto DB and MV. You think there's gridlock and politicization now, be careful what you wish for, Eli.

What's that saying about the paving on the road to Hell, and the other one about the law of unintended consequences...

Brian said...

DB - you might want to read Bob Woodward's The Brethren sometime. Strong contrast between Nixon who asked no political questions of his nominees and knew very little other than they were Republican (which varied a lot politically back in the day) and modern process that selects people with established political personalities. They're not going to undergo the same evolution as in the past because the type of person who's selected is different.

As for term limits, John Roberts was 50 when confirmed. He could easily be screwing up our country at the highest level for 50 years or more. I don't want to roll dice that way.

dbostrom said...

I'm stubbornly attached the the notion that a quartz crystal or other timebase is an inferior intelligence.

I agree that the selection process has evolved (evolution!=progress) but again suggest that printing copies of SCOTUS members at a higher rate or offering them for purchase to the anonymous parties now funding over 90% of television political ads won't repair the defects now bothering us.

The debased quality of justices begins at the "bottom"-- at the level of the electorate-- and can't be improved without addressing that problem.

A more efficiently functioning electorate would long ago have insisted on a revisit of the Senate filibuster, would not be susceptible to such deep political philosophies as "There's a New Sheriff in Town," would have the critical thinking skills to produce elected officials more likely to install superior justices.

There's certainly no expedient, quick remedy for improving the court, quite possibly no remedy at all if we don't have the means to improve civic competence at the bottom of the political stack.

If the supervisors of our system-- the electorate-- are deeply incompetent to perform their work, there's simply no way we're going to be happy with the result.

dhogaza said...

"We're in the worst of possible worlds right now, with a Court making political decisions but without political accountability. Let them face the voters if they've decided to be politicians as well."

So during how many terms has the court been relatively apolitical vs. today's highly politicized court? Has that really been the norm, or only the norm when this country has not been as heavily polarized politically as it is today?

The antebellum era comes to mind as being at least as politicized as today, Dred Scott was just one of many rulings favoring the south handed down by a court which had a southern majority.

Then there was the striking down of about 2/3 of the New Deal during FDRs early years ... definitely at least partially a political position on the Court's part.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

So the question is whether you trust the average politician or the average voter who puts them there?

I'm not seeing a significant improvement. I am afraid there is no shortcut to wise government other than making the voters wiser.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe they'll preempt my preempting by doing the right thing instead, but I doubt it."


So you, like me, are hoping the SC at the minimum rules that the indivdual mandate is unconstitutional and since the whole law cannot function correctly without it, the whole thing should go in the trash? Wow we agree again.



We will all rue the day we allow the Federal Government to force us into contracts with private companies. That slope is very slippery and our liberty and freedom will be gone forever.


BTW I did not know it was the SC's function to "fix the problem ". They rule on the laws that exist, they do not write them, nor change them. As a lawyer I thought you would at least understand that.


I rate this post by Brian as a double face palm.


Celery Eater

dhogaza said...

"We will all rue the day we allow the Federal Government to force us into contracts with private companies. That slope is very slippery and our liberty and freedom will be gone forever."

My liberty and freedom have been gone ever since my state required me to buy private auto liability insurance!

The horror!

Obama should've gone for broke - single payer, screw the insurance companies and the Republican Party which, after all, is the original source of the mandate provision.

dbostrom said...

Nice conversation, then along comes crazy. Fun while it lasted.

Here's some food for thought about how we shape our government:

The Loud Fringe: Pluralistic Ignorance and Democracy

Anonymous said...

Good point Dhogaza about State Government exercizing powers not explicity granted to the Federal Governmet in the Constitution.


You do not have to buy auto insurance just because you exist, that is the difference.


dbostrom,

And what was crazy about my post? What is your arguement that allows the Federal Government to force citizens to enter into a contract with a private company and only because the person exists?




I think the crazy is on your side as we have an epic fail by Dhogaza not understanding the difference between State and Federal governments and the powers of each.



Celery Eater (unimpressed with replies as usual).

dbostrom said...

CE, I can only suggest that you cease paying your federal taxes thereby avoiding being coerced into engaging private parties in contractual arrangements of services provided in exchange for compensation.

You are a citizen, yes? Your name is on the bottom line of every federal contract. So exercise your choices: leave, pay, or go to jail.

And what was crazy about my post?

Thank you for clarifying to whom the crazy arrow points.

Anonymous said...

Crazy is as crazy does.

In my country we have "socialized medicine" and it simply works, without downsides that I can see. My wife is alive and (relatively) well, in spite of multiple conditions that in most U.S. states would have killed her, drove us bankrupt, or both.

It's a weird country that isn't even able to simply copy a well-proven formula.

dhogaza said...

"It's a weird country that isn't even able to simply copy a well-proven formula."

One of many well-proven approaches, actually, since there's a wide variety in how different countries in the world manage to provide universal health care.

But, of course, as Celery Eater makes clear, all these other countries have lost all of their liberties and freedoms! (snicker)

Anonymous said...

This is a frighteningly terrible idea. We've already seen what popular elections do to Congress and you want that to apply to the branch that's supposed to check them and keep them from imposing unconstitutional laws? Brian, fuck that noise. We have a dysfunctional court today, but that's no reason to replace it with a dysfunctional system.

-WheelsOC

Anonymous said...

DB,

I really enjoy the pendulum thought process you employ, crazy, but funny. So paying taxes is entering into a contract with a private company? Crazy is as crazy does!


"In my country we have "socialized medicine" and it simply works, without downsides that I can see. My wife is alive and (relatively) well, in spite of multiple conditions that in most U.S. states would have killed her, drove us bankrupt, or both."


Well in my country I have survived four surgeries and am quite well and I am not bankrupt. Imagine that, in my budget I accounted for my private health insurance for my family had a policy that covered my health issues by only having to pay less than a lot of peoples monthly car payments.


Shall we continue to be distracted by these nice anecdotal stories/experiences?


Celery Eater

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

CE,
Don't want anecdotes. Fine, how about hard facts--like the fact that healthcare costs lead to over 60% of US bankruptcies? How about the fact that the US spends more per capita than any other nation on healthcare and has worse outcomes (general health, life expectancy, infant mortality...)? How about the fact that healthcare costs are one of the leading uncontrolled costs for private businesses in the US, and one of the main impediments to hiring new employees?

And how about the fact that if you don't want to enter into a "contract" with a private company, all you have to do is pay a very modest fine?

Oh, wait. I forgot. You guys don't like facts. They have a liberal bias.

Try slamming your palm into your face harder. Maybe your brain will start to work.

dbostrom said...

Crazy is as crazy does!

Exactly. Make a point to the relevant authorities of ceasing to pay your federal tax, stick to your guns (metaphorically speaking) and report back (from jail) on what you discover about the chain of accountability leading from (for instance) an IRS software development contract back to you.

Sure, it's distasteful to have to actually sign your name to a coerced contract-- have it shoved into your face-- but let's not pretend the idea is anything novel. We here in the US do insist on letting the "free market" solve our problems no matter how inefficient and stupid the results may be. This is simply our uniquely weird approach to solving the particular problem of health care.

Anonymous said...

How many of those bankrupticies were from people not having health insurance in the first place? I thought you guys liked Darwin, selection and all that? Why do I have to pay for other's peoples inadequacies?


"How about the fact that the US spends more per capita than any other nation on healthcare and has worse outcomes (general health, life expectancy, infant mortality...)?"

And forcing people to buy insurance from today's insurance companies is going to fix that? OK that's crazy.


Oh I think if you read Obamacare small business is going to be even worse off. Moving towards plans that must cover everything, even if you do not need that type of coverage is only going to raise costs. With the number of employees determining exemptions do you not think once a small business hits that level (or will reduce to get to that level) will impact jobs available for all?


Cool logic if I do not spend my money the way the government directs me too all I have to do is give the government money! Wow liberty dies today. You should work for the mob, if you do not want to pay us protection we are just going to take your money anyways lol wow now that's stupid!



DB,

Yes the Federal Government is so efficient they spend $1 trillion+ more every year than they take in.

I am not going to entertain your fantasy that paying taxes equates to me purchasing a contract with a private company, because it is stupid arguement that makes zero sense, hmm a pattern?




Celery Eater

Brian said...

Anon at 10:56 - which country are you from?

I think it's pretty clear that America has the worst medical system of any industrialized country. The best we can say is that we deliver comparable health outcomes at a much higher cost than any other OECD country. The truly conservative approach, in the Burkean sense, would be to pick a better-functioning model that's been used elsewhere for decades.

Celery Eater - what about term limits? Rick Perry liked them. Just thought I'd ask, and maybe go for the triple face palm. (Also, look up remedies as a legal concept.)

Anonymous said...

Term limits on Senators and Represenatives = yes. On Judges = no

Gore got his remedy $100 million since 2000.



Celery Eater

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Celery Eater:
Read it and weep, Cupcake.

"Surprisingly, most of those bankrupted by illness had health insurance. More than three-quarters were insured at the start of the bankrupting illness. However, 38 percent had lost coverage at least temporarily by the time they filed for bankruptcy." This is from a collaborative study by Harvard Law and Harvard Medical. Oh, wait, higher educational institutions all have a liberal bias, too, don't they. They keep quoting all those facts.

You know, you could look this up, too, but then I suppose you'd have to confront the facts yourself.

dbostrom said...

I am not going to entertain your fantasy that paying taxes equates to me purchasing a contract...

Well, opt out of the fantasy and see what happens. :-)

For my part if I find that if by not paying my bills I first pay a civil penalty and then go on to jail if I try to duck the civil route, I'm pretty much in some form of binding agreement.

My agreement is admittedly tacit, by being here in the US and enjoying benefits accruing thereof.

Point is, the net effect of trying to duck out is identical. Call it whatever you like.

Let me ask how you'd have felt if we'd adopted a "single payer" system of the form wherein you paid taxes and then were free to choose the health care provider of choice? Would that have been more satisfactory? Does the idea of 300 million citizens telling a number of corporations what's acceptable in terms of having unfortunate circumstances be exploited for profit sound like more of a fair proposition than tackling them all by yourself?

What would "yes" look like, to you?

Anonymous said...

a_ray,

Always picking out the parts you like and ignoring the rest.

"For this analysis, we replicated
the most conservative definition
employed in the 2001
study, which designated as “medically
bankrupt” debtors citing illness
or medical bills as a specific
reason for bankruptcy; OR reporting
uncovered medical bills $1000 in the past 2 years; OR
who lost at least 2 weeks of work-related income due to
illness/injury; OR who mortgaged a home to pay medical
bills."


So I would be considered medically bankrupt if I filed for bankruptcy, because I have spent > $1,000 in uncovered medical expenses the past two years. That's $500 a year.

Epic fail, ding dong.


Liz Warren is incompentent in so many ways.




Db,

Which bills do you pay only because you exist and for no other reason?



Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

Oh but they upped the level from $1,000 to $5,000 over two years as a qualifier in the 2007 study. But if you look at this:

Debtor said medical bills were reason for
bankruptcy
29.0%
Medical bills $5000 or 10% of annual
family income
34.7%
Mortgaged home to pay medical bills 5.7%
Medical bill problems (any of above 3) 57.1%
Debtor or spouse lost 2 weeks of income due
to illness or became completely disabled
38.2%
Debtor or spouse lost 2 weeks of income to
care for ill family member
6.8%
Income loss due to illness (either of above 2) 40.3%
Debtor said medical problem of self or spouse
was reason for bankruptcy
32.1%
Debtor said medical problem of other family
member was reason for bankruptcy
10.8%
Any of above 62.1%


Gee almost anyone would fall under that criteria if they had any serious medical illness.


When you interview someone for bankruptcy they are not going to say "Yeah I ran up $30k on my VISA and MC before I got sick."



Celery Eater

dbostrom said...

Which bills do you pay only because you exist and for no other reason?

Income tax, if by "for no other reason" you're prepared to ignore a myriad of services received. Indigents and creative shirkers don't pay but a lot of other folks are in the "must pay tax" bucket.

Gee almost anyone would fall under that criteria if they had any serious medical illness.

Deft "own goal" there; kicked right into your own net.

Jim Eager said...

While a_ray and ce debate the relative merits of obama care vs social darwinism, like anon above I continue to enjoy a single payer system that, for a reasonable premium fee, allows me to choose any gp or specialist I care to. True, thanks to an aging population those fees don't nearly cover the full cost of the healthcare system, but that's a near-universal situation in every country. And true, some areas have a hard time attracting family physicians, again true of a lot of countries with underserved rural areas. And true, there are wait lists for some procedures, but there are also wait lists in the US: if you can pay—either for private insurance premiums or directly out of pocket—you don't wait, if you can't pay, you wait. And wait. And wait. And even if you can pay the premiums, your claim can be denied for any number of creative reasons, cause after all, private insurers don't make money paying claims, they make money not paying them. They aren't in business to keep you healthy, silly, they're in business to make money. And the funniest part of all is Americans spend more for this warped for-profit system than just about any western country with a single payer system pays.

So, debate all you like, it's a debate I don't have a stake in, so I don't really have to pay attention. As you were.

dbostrom said...

Well Jim, here we prefer the spectacle of a disorganized rabble armed with nothing but a checkbook and a second mortgage facing a ruthless, entrenched oligopoly equipped with coercive power to collect bills and with the certain knowledge that the sicker you are, the happier and more pathetically grateful you'll be to take a good screwing.

What's really perverse about the system is that many of the victim rabble are invested via various institutional retirement and other funds in the very entities that are hellbent on sucking every possible penny out of their own failing bodies before they're tossed away. It's a kind of autoimmune sickness, a plague reaching across many economic sectors.

dhogaza said...

Jim:

"And true, some areas have a hard time attracting family physicians, again true of a lot of countries with underserved rural areas."

Including the US, of course.

Anonymous said...

Gee almost anyone would fall under that criteria if they had any serious medical illness.

Deft "own goal" there; kicked right into your own net.

Uh no, Ask the question "Did credit card debt contribute or is it a primary reason for your bankruptcy?"

Flash Headline "Credit Cards and their high interest rates contribute to 97% of the bankrupticies filed in the US. Congress needs to reduce credit card interest rates to 0%. Even people who do not want credit cardsmust get them and pay the annual fee to have them or they will be fined by the government."


"Since the government is now involved in Health Care we are imposing a penalty on anyone caught consuming soda, chips, tobacco, alcohol, fatty foods, salt, sugar, candy, and anything else we deem that might increase health care costs. Thank you all those that felt the Federal Government can now regulate your lives and compel you to purchase things they determine else be fined.



Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

Db,

Income tax contributes to National Defense.

Try again please.




Celery Eater

Andy S said...

Well, quite a discussion. I see no one disputed you're most important conclusion that the supreme court is nothing more than a bunch of political hacks, currently the strong arm of the Republican Party; i.e. the plutocracy. This is obvious to me in the twisted reasoning they've used to justify some decisions which conflicted with previous decisions. Most obvious in their little watched opinions such as two rulings on the clean water act's jurisdiction over discharges into the everglades.

Right now, they're just making shit up as they go. I'd find it downright Hellerian (Joe H.) if I wasn't from Texas and used to this crap constantly streaming from our State supreme court.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Ah, I see CE continues his dishonest excerpts. He omits this:

"On average, medically bankrupt families had $17,943 in out-of-pocket expenses, including $26,971 for those who lacked insurance and $17,749 who had insurance at some point."

"Compared to the general population, bankruptcy rates are nearly twice as high among cancer patients one year after diagnosis. Of the bankruptcies caused by a cancer, a surprising 78% reported having some form of health insurance, de-bunking the myth that medical bills only really affect the uninsured."

"According to Duke University Medical Center, the average out-of-pocket cost for cancer patients is currently $1,266 per month."

CE, are you even capable of honesty. Humor me. Try it some time.

dbostrom said...

Income tax contributes to National Defense.

Yeah, please pay for services rendered by Boeing, Lockheed, General Dynamics, Olin, MITRE,EADS,Ernst & Young, Verizon, etc. The extensive assembly of private business plans thanks you for your continued mandatory patronage. You don't have any problem paying for national defense, right?

How come people will happily fork over for all sorts of useless stuff and then get all flinty and tight when it comes time to pay for civilization?

Can I resist bounding after the human frisbee again? Arf-arf! We'll see.

Anonymous said...

a_ray,

Right back at you.


Db,

I sent some black helicopters to monitor you.





Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

"According to Duke University Medical Center, the average out-of-pocket cost for cancer patients is currently $1,266 per month."


Here is some honesty for you a_ray.

From that same study.

"All but one of those surveyed had insurance, mostly Medicare, and 83% had prescription-drug coverage."


Correct me if I'm wrong, but medicare is the Federal government's health care? And you want more of this? Perhaps these woman should have purchased some additional insurance rather than rely soley on the government to provide for them.



Celery Eater

dbostrom said...

Perhaps these woman should have purchased some additional insurance rather than rely soley on the government to provide for them.

You really ought to have a rethink on that, delete the comment, try again. Surely you have some idea of where that suggestion is going to end up?

Also be sure to read the article upthread, "Pluralistic Ignorance and Democracy."

EliRabett said...

When you have a bad cancer, your ability to earn a living is impacted.

dbostrom said...

Concerning the topic of judicial elections, here's a pretty long-in-the-tooth article from the WaPo concerning the closest analogue to SCOTUS, state high courts.

Cherrypicks:

"In perhaps the best-known recent example [of election influence], the chief executive of Massey Coal Co. spent $3 million to help elect a West Virginia high-court judge, who then participated in a case overturning a $50 million verdict against the company. The case led to a landmark ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that excessive campaign contributions can create an unconstitutional threat to a fair trial."

Attempts at remedy are immediately challenged:

"In Wisconsin, a pair of high-profile contests in 2007 and 2008 attracted millions from outside groups focused on whether to curb lawsuits and damages awards. Those on the winning side in both races included the conservative Club for Growth, while organized labor and progressive groups spent heavily on the losers, the study shows.

The influx of hardball politicking prompted Wisconsin to enact public financing of its Supreme Court races in 2009, a system that is now under challenge in the courts.
"

From the Brennan Center for Justice, this report:

Buying Justice: The Impact of Citizens United on Judicial Elections

Also from Brennan:

The New Politics of Judicial Elections: 2009-10

Intro:

"On Election Day 2010, for the first time in a generation, three state supreme court justices were swept out of office in a retention election when voters expressed anger over a single controversial decision on same-sex marriage. The special-interest campaign—which poured nearly a million dollars into Iowa to unseat the justices—was the logical culmination of a decade of rising efforts to inject more partisan politics into our courts of law.

Outside money continued its hostile takeover of judicial elections. More than ever, a small num­ber of super spenders played a dominant role in influencing who sits on state supreme courts. Much of this influence was exercised secretly.

But Election Day was only the beginning. Campaign leaders in Iowa issued a blunt warn­ing to judges around the country that they could be next. For the next half year, legislatures across the country unleashed a ferocious round of attacks against impartial justice.

More judges were threatened with impeachment than at any time in memory. Merit selection, an appointment system that has historically kept special-interest money out of high court selec­tion in two dozen states, faced unprecedented assault. Public financing for court elections, one of the signature reforms to protect elected courts in the last decade, was repealed in one state and faced severe funding threats in two others."


Evidence suggests that fostering more judicial elections in the present atmosphere would be a poor choice.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

CE's feeble imagination doesn't comprehend the possibility that the current fee-for-service healthcare system might be fleecing Medicare and the ebil gummint as well as the average citizen.

So, CE, how is it that this problem has been solved by every other industrialized country--and even many developing countries. How is it that the US is the only one that just can't quite get it's head around providing health care to its citizens? Are Americans uniquely incompetent?

Anonymous said...

"So, CE, how is it that this problem has been solved by every other industrialized country--and even many developing countries?"


Not with Obamacare, that is for certain.



Db,

You are boring me now.




Celery Eater

dhogaza said...

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but medicare is the Federal government's health care? And you want more of this? Perhaps these woman should have purchased some additional insurance rather than rely soley on the government to provide for them."

Of course, another option is to improve the coverage of Medicare.

Medicare was created in the 60s, when the 80% coverage of major medical was typical of private insurance, with, given the costs at the time, the 20% paid by the insured didn't add up to nearly as much as it does today.

" rather than rely soley on the government to provide for them.""

Government doesn't "provide for them" any more than insurance companies do, as Medicare is national health *insurance*, not national health care.

And, yes, people are wise to buy supplemental insurance, because RW fucks like CE block moderning Medicare to reflect the much higher real costs of medical care that make a 20% co-pay a back-breaker for many.

CE's a churlish character who apparently only cares for himself. Like so many, I imagine that if *he* falls into the health care trap, he'll beg and plead for government help.

dhogaza said...

" How is it that the US is the only one that just can't quite get it's head around providing health care to its citizens? Are Americans uniquely incompetent?"

That's not exactly a trick question, you know :)

dhogaza said...

"Not with Obamacare, that is for certain."

True, no other OECD country would be dumb enough to adopt a RW-ing nut paradigm for national health care, as Obama did, hoping to get bipartisan support.

That was stupid on his part.

He should've gone for a single payer national insurance system, similar to what France has. That was probably something that could be passed.

Of course, CE points to the flaws in the legislation that was passed as cover for his real position, that poor people should just die when they get sick.

That doesn't mean there aren't flaws in Obamacare.

dbostrom said...

Since we're dreaming of pie in the sky...

Leaving aside elections, what about a twist on term limits via rotation?

Suppose SCOTUS was composed of justices continuously rotated up from federal appellate courts, to serve as justices of the Supreme Court for perhaps 5 years before rejoining the lower courts? Appellate justices would still be selected by the President, Senate confirmation would still apply, but direct political influence on the Supreme Court would be vastly diminished since the pool of eligible justices would be formed by multiple Presidents and no direct appointments to SCOTUS would occur.

Or, how about another arrangement wherein the President gets 5 blind draws from the appellate courts and then chooses one of those for consent of the Senate? If a candidate is refused by the Senate the President may submit one of remaining members in the draw pool.

There are ways of damping short wavelength political signals in the court without being completely mindless about it via term limits or opening up the court for bidding by plutocrats.

Not that it's actually possible, of course.

Anonymous said...

Dhogaza,

Take your vulgar name calling and keep it with your family and friends. You sound like an ignorant self-righteous bully.

None of what you said about me is true nor reasonable, typical poster here at RR, bring out the vulgar name calling, pretend to speak for other people, and generally behave like a 3rd grade bully on the playground, no wonder most peoiple end up not supporting your positions, you are an ass.



l8r


Celery Eater

Martin Vermeer said...

Yep CE, when you run out of arguments go for tone trolling. Seen that before

J Bowers said...

US access to healthcare half that of the UK and costs twice as much. Some just like to be fleeced, their own income has a dependency on maintaining such scenarios, the universe is harsh and they get a kick out of making it harsher, or sacrificial offerings (of others) to their ideological gods is just A-OK with them.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Celery Eater (shorter): "Waaaaa-aaaaah!!!"

Jeffrey Davis said...

Mildly off-topic. Don't get sick in Canada if you're not from Canada. We just returned, and we needed a visit to the emergency room where we were told our American medical insurance was irrelevant, and we must pay for all care upfront.

Great care, btw. Nice people.

Jim Eager said...

Jeffrey, I believe it's similar in reverse: Canadians visiting the US pay up front, your provincial health plan then reimburses you ***the amount it pays Canadian doctors/hospitals for the same service***, and any private insurance you may have reimburses the difference, up to their ceiling.

Brian said...

Db - I don't think state supreme courts are the best analog - too low visibility. I think US senate races are the best analogy. High enough profile that the public can sometimes triumph over special interest. Low profile (together with controlling precedent) is why I don't support electing lower judges. I'm opposed to electing state supreme courts too - my remedy doesn't work for them.

Your remedy of rotating judges would create a lot of instability in court rulings. OTOH, stable bad rulings aren't great either. Not sure what I think of it.

dbostrom said...

Your remedy of rotating judges would create a lot of instability in court rulings.

Yes, would require a lot of mechanical details filled in; justices leapfrogging cases they helped decide that are headed for appeal toward the same ultimate destination, leading to ballooning recusals etc.

My main intent was to illustrate that there are hypothetical solutions offering finesse short of hitting the system w/a large hammer.

Unfortunately having the opportunity to execute a tuning/refactoring implementation is even less likely than modernizing our antiquated voting mechanisms.

Huge inertia in our system is a mixed blessing, a problem when events outpace response.

badger badger badger said...

The mandate is supposed to be a RW invention, and being forced to buy from private for-profit parties that get subsidized on top is part of what practically nobody in the developed world does (Switzerland?). That it was what got through congress and the admin ("politically possible", which is different from what the population apparently wants) is an indication of the poop sandwich we're eating in the name of efficiency via rent-seeking middlemen.
Remember Tele-Tax? 1040EZ filers could do it direct and free via voice mail. Now to file electronically for free you have to go through a private tax preparer and sign your data away. And it takes longer now, too. But then 1040EZ filers are the wrong sort of people, anyway.

dbostrom said...

badger badger badger: ...the poop sandwich we're eating in the name of efficiency via rent-seeking middlemen.

Yeah, the parasite load is becoming tremendous. The average wage earning US citizen is dragging along a vast array of chiselers who've managed to insert themselves into the middle of nearly every transaction.

Slashing of state higher ed institutions is a great example; graduate from university already with an infestation of bankers collecting interest.

"Low taxes?" No free lunch. Money not spent on a desired good or service is money wasted. What's efficient about locking in waste by privatizing? Private entities are bent on -not- spending money on what people are buying from them, are seeking profit; is that too difficult to understand?

Brian said...

Dhogaza, please no obscenities directed at fellow commenters. I've deleted non-substantive comments for that reason.

dbostrom said...

Apparently the Roberts court has a highly constrained view of what is "corruption," based on this morning's news. Spending $1 billion lying to the public has no corrupting effect on an election; corruption is only packets of cash directly handed to politicians.

Second rate intellects.

William Connolley said...

Read Hobbes.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Now THAT is an interesting ruling--reject the Commerce Clause arguments even though they are quite plausible, but accept the individual mandate as a tax. Somewhere, somebody is heaving a sigh of relief. Moreover, with a 6-3 Majority and Roberts (whose hand I see in this opinion) on the majority, this has some very interesting implications for future directions by this court.


Now it all comes down to November. Get out the fricking vote!