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How do you beat the disinformers when progressives are lousy at messaging and big media is impotent?

By Joe Romm  

"How do you beat the disinformers when progressives are lousy at messaging and big media is impotent?"

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http://www.clker.com/cliparts/5/2/3/b/1195442504135742964ryanlerch_No_horse_riding_sign.svg.med.pngThe stunning success of the right wing disinformation machine in the health-care debate should give all progressives pause about our messaging strategy.

The Washington Post‘s well-respected media critic Howard Kurtz made an impassioned case today that the the media isn’t really to blame — “Journalists, Left Out of The Debate:  Few Americans Seem to Hear Health Care Facts” — which is to say, the media is irrelevant:

For once, mainstream journalists did not retreat to the studied neutrality of quoting dueling antagonists.

They tried to perform last rites on the ludicrous claim about President Obama’s death panels, telling Sarah Palin, in effect, you’ve got to quit making things up.

But it didn’t matter. The story refused to die.

The crackling, often angry debate over health-care reform has severely tested the media’s ability to untangle a story of immense complexity. In many ways, news organizations have risen to the occasion; in others they have become agents of distortion. But even when they report the facts, they have had trouble influencing public opinion.

In the 10 days after Palin warned on Facebook of an America “in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel,’ ” The Washington Post mentioned the phrase 18 times, the New York Times 16 times, and network and cable news at least 154 times (many daytime news shows are not transcribed).

Now the first thing to say is that it is a central rule of messaging, rhetoric, and psychology: Don’t keep repeating a strong word the other side is trying to push (see “Memo to Gore: Don’t call coal ‘clean’ seven times in your ad” for a brief discussion of the literature on that subject”).

But from my perspective this is just another way of saying that once again, the progressive side doesn’t have its own simple message on this issue — like so many others, including global warming.  As the saying goes, you can’t beat the horse with no horse, and right now, progressives have banned some of their best horses entirely (see here) and are running a few hapless ponies that get trampled out of the starting gate by the conservative thoroughbreds.

Kurtz continues with his proof of the media’s innocence impotence:

While there is legitimate debate about the legislation’s funding for voluntary end-of-life counseling sessions, the former Alaska governor’s claim that government panels would make euthanasia decisions was clearly debunked. Yet an NBC poll last week found that 45 percent of those surveyed believe the measure would allow the government to make decisions about cutting off care to the elderly — a figure that rose to 75 percent among Fox News viewers.

Less than seven hours after Palin posted her charge Aug. 7, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann called it an “absurd idea.” That might have been dismissed as a liberal slam, but the next day, ABC’s Bill Weir said on “Good Morning America”: “There is nothing like that anywhere in the pending legislation.”

On Aug. 9, Post reporter Ceci Connolly said flatly in an A-section story: “There are no such ‘death panels’ mentioned in any of the House bills.” That same day, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks called Palin’s assertion “crazy.” CNN’s Jessica Yellin said on “State of the Union,” “That’s not an accurate assessment of what this panel is.” And on ABC’s “This Week,” George Stephanopoulos said: “Those phrases appear nowhere in the bill.”

Of course, the conservatives and conservative-leaning independents who swallow the disinformation from their trusted sources can’t be moved by journalists a don’t watch or don’t believe.

Consider these stats from Gallup polling over the past decade (see “The Deniers are winning, but only with the GOP“):

In 1997, some 52% of Democrats said the effects of global warming have already begun and 52% said most scientists believe global warming is occurring. In 2008, now 76% say warming had begun and 75% say most scientists believe warming is occurring.  It would appear that Democrats believe most scientists.

Few leading climate scientists or major scientific bodies would disagree with the assertion that the scientific case that the planet is warming and humans are the dominant cause of recent warming has gotten much stronger in the past 10 years.  That is clearly seen in the scientific literature — as summarized in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports and as amplified by studies and increasingly dire warnings since.

And yet for Republicans, in 1997 some 42% said warming had begun and 48% said most scientists believe warming is occurring “” a modest 6 point differential. By 2008, the percentage of Republicans saying the effects of global warming have already begun had dropped to a mere 42% (an amazing stat in its own right given the painfully obvious evidence to the contrary). But the percentage saying most scientists believe global warming is occurring had risen to 54% “” a stunning 12 point differential.

In short, a significant and growing number of Republicans “” one in eight as of 2008 “” simply don’t believe what they know most scientists believe.

Now if you’re not going to believe what you know scientists believe, you’re certainly not going to believe what mainstream TV journalists say — as long as the right-wing media and pundits you do trust keep lying, which, as Kurtz makes clear, they do:

Still, some conservatives argued otherwise. On the Stephanopoulos roundtable, former House speaker Newt Gingrich said the legislation “has all sorts of panels. You’re asking us to trust turning power over to the government when there clearly are people in America who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards.”

And on Fox the next night, Bill O’Reilly played a clip of former Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean saying Palin “just made that up. . . . There’s nothing like euthanasia in the bill.” O’Reilly countered that as far as he could tell, “Sarah Palin never mentioned euthanasia. Dean made it up to demean Palin.”

Ultimately, the media consensus was that Palin had attempted “to leap across a logical canyon,” as the conservative bible National Review put it, adding that “we should be against hysteria.” But the “death” debate was sucking up much of the political oxygen. President Obama kept denying that he was for “pulling the plug on Grandma.” On Aug. 13, the Senate Finance Committee pulled the plug on the provision, with Republican Sen. Charles Grassley saying the idea could be — yes — “misinterpreted.”

Perhaps journalists are no more trusted than politicians these days, or many folks never saw the knockdown stories. But this was a stunning illustration of the traditional media’s impotence.

Well, a certain kind of impotence — let’s call it factual impotence.  For conflict and drama-driven stories, the media is on Viagra — or perhaps Cialis, for misdirection lasting more than four hours.

The eruption of anger at town-hall meetings on health care, while real and palpable, became an endless loop on television. The louder the voices, the fiercer the confrontation, the more it became video wallpaper, obscuring the substantive arguments in favor of what producers love most: conflict.

Never mind if some of the fury seemed unfocused or simply anti-Obama. Katy Abram was shown hundreds of times yelling at Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter: “I don’t want this country turning into Russia. . . . What are you going to do to restore this country back to what our founders created according to the Constitution?” She later popped up on Sean Hannity’s Fox show, saying: “I know that years down the road, I don’t want my children coming to me and asking me, ‘Mom, why didn’t you do anything? Why do we have to wait in line for, I don’t know, toilet paper or anything?’ ”

Twenty members of Congress might have held calm and collected town meetings on any given day, but only the one with raucous exchanges would make it on the air. “TV loves a ruckus,” Obama complained more than once. In fact, after the president convened a low-key town hall in New Hampshire, press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters: “I think some of you were disappointed yesterday that the president didn’t get yelled at.” There was a grain of truth in that. As Fox broke away from the meeting, anchor Trace Gallagher said, “Any contentious questions, anybody yelling, we’ll bring it to you.”

The only source of “information” that might change the views of Republicans is the leadership of the conservative movement itself “” conservative politicians, conservative think tanks, conservative media, and conservative pundits.  As I wrote last year, until they not only reverse their position completely but also actively spread this reversed position to the faithful, this country will find it almost impossible to adopt the very strong government-led policies needed to avert humanity’s self-destruction aka Hell and High Water.

I do think that messaging aimed at swaying conservatives is pointless and certainly nothing I attempt on this blog.

What to do, then?

Right now, elections and policy campaigns are being won or lost by the 10% to 20% of voters in the middle, assuming a party can keep its base mobilized.  And right now, Dems are doing neither.  We have only one stallion on the team who can break through the pack and deliver the messages to move both the middle and progressives.

Having waited in vain for Obama to breakthrough with winning messages, I will trot out my messaging horses in the coming days.  Saddle up!

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39 Responses to How do you beat the disinformers when progressives are lousy at messaging and big media is impotent?

  1. riverat says:

    It’s much easier for the right wing to craft a simple message. They aren’t constrained by reality.

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    OK, Let’s Be Honest

    I’m sitting here watching CNN. Most of the discussion is about Michael Jackson and “Propofol”, or however you spell the drug. An incredible amount of the news I’ve seen over recent weeks has STILL been about Michael Jackson.

    Meanwhile, I have a huge pile of ExxonMobil advertorials from The New York Times on my floor. Many of them are full two-page spreads, and many others are from the front page itself. The Times doesn’t even make a peep to clarify matters and provide the straight story to the public regarding ExxonMobil, its actions, and its inactions.

    Meanwhile, although I haven’t seen the magazine myself yet, I’ve heard that Forbes (I think it was Forbes) has called ExxonMobil a green company! Indeed, if I’m not mistaken, I think I heard that Forbes does so on its cover.

    And, we all know how Fox treats and mistreats these matters.

    Also, from what I’ve seen and read, most people in the media don’t understand basic chemistry enough to know that oil and (also) gas are hydrocarbons and, of necessity, generate huge amounts of CO2 when they are used.

    The media do basically nil to actually clarify — in any weighty and energetic way — the misleading claims of advertisers. Compare how many times you watch a professional-looking lady, in an ad, tell you that coal is clean, with the number of times you hear someone clarify the matter to you in no-nonsense, concrete terms, WITH the urgency and seriousness that such a clarification would deserve.

    The view that the media don’t matter “forgets” that people get MOST of their information about these things from and through the media. Even if YOU get certain info from your friend, it’s likely that she or he got it from the media in the first place.

    The New York Times is, presumably, the “paper of record”, in theory, whatever that means. Well, anyone who knows how to do an analysis can analyze the paper over the last two years and realize, directly, why many people in the public are confused, misinformed, or only partly informed. And that’s The New York Times. Think about people who only read The WSJ, or people who only watch Fox.

    People (the public) WILL care (about climate change, for example) IF the media treat the matter as if it is WORTH CARING ABOUT. And, because climate change IS worth caring about, the media SHOULD treat it that way!

    Also, the media’s credibility is low and dropping, in my view. They’d better pay attention to that and honestly ask themselves why.

    Joe, I’m glad that you are getting ready to put some truth-tellers to work. Good for you.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  3. Jeff Huggins says:

    CNN Update

    OK, now I’m hearing about the world’s tallest dog and about a little girl who (sadly) got her arm caught in a swimming pool drain. Coming up — more coverage of some blonde lip-synching dancer. This is all on AC 360. CNN bills itself now as “the world’s news leader”, or something like that.

    So — Michael Jackson, world’s tallest dog, swimming pool accident, and blonde dancer.

    The media matter, but!

  4. max says:

    Another worthwhile blog that discusses the media’s failings is the daily howler-Bob Somerby exposes the fact that the media’s loathing of Gore (including putative liberal champions) enabled Bush to reach the White House. There’s an anti-intellectual strain in the media-when multiple prominent journalists such as Broder complain about having to listen to policy discussions during political campaigns (which he said of Gore)it’s obvious that one can’t have very high hopes for media truth-telling. I recall that Bush during the 2000 campaign said he would regulate CO2-a promise that was transparently politically expedient and not trustworthy-and that was immediately forgotten once he was in office-and yet many in the media-hello liberal hero Frank Rich-acted as though Gore and Bush were Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

  5. paulm says:

    MSM just wont touch not-good feel subjects in any detail.
    MSM has turned in to MSE-ntertainment and its much about ratings.

  6. Peter Wood says:

    Targeting the 10-20% of centrist/swinging voters is important because if they get the right message, it will be politically impossible for Republicans to oppose good global warming legislation. This is important because we will need 67 votes in the Senate in order to ratify an international environmental agreement, and 60 votes in the Senate to pass domestic legislation.

    Unfortunately I can’t entirely rule out the Republicans committing political suicide and taking the planet with them.

  7. BBHY says:

    “..should give all progressives pause about our messaging strategy”

    Progressives have a messaging strategy? There is no evidence in support of any such thing.

  8. Raleigh Latham says:

    The Mainstream media may be impotent on this issue, but I still see hope when I go to places like Portland, San Francisco, New Zealand, and Boulder. There are so many people who see through all bullshit, and know what they need to do to make sure we maintain a livable climate. A year ago I was concerned about the issue, but didn’t want to do anything. Now I’m an activist, I lowered my carbon footprint to zero, and I’m trying to get my opinion across to everyone I know. Don’t be afraid to tell everyone you know to visit this website.

    Climate Progress is like my bible now, I’m permanently addicted.

  9. Passerby says:

    About 20 years ago I skipped to the chase and began sending an annual letter to the talking heads just to remind them that I told them so about pollution and climate change. It hasn’t improved their reporting — they are still at least 20 years behind — but it is somehow satisfying. Try it yourselves. They helped foul up our world and need that reminder buzzing in their ears.

  10. Hey Skipper says:

    But the “death” debate was sucking up much of the political oxygen.

    You should spend some time in a country where health care is nationalized.

    England, for instance.

    There is a reason people are worried that the government will control costs by limiting care to the elderly.

    ++++

    The fundamental problems with health care are two: Tax code distortion (because health care purchased through the employer is before tax income, whereas an individual buying the same thing is using after tax dollars) and moral hazard.

    Since Pres Obama has addressed neither of these things, preferring instead a government monstrosity, then there is every reason to resist what is coming out of Congress.

  11. ecostew says:

    NPR has a great discussion on the expensive under-performing US heath care system and presents useful information on countries such as Canada, Britain, Germany, France, and Japan: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112172939

  12. Boudica says:

    An insidious plot is underway via internet, television, and national media to sap the intelligence of conservatives. Transition from human to sheep complete – transition from sheep to boiled frog underway.

  13. Mike#22 says:

    Imagine what would happen is progressives had the budget and talent which big oil has deployed against our democracy?

    I don’t see a flaw in messaging, and we have the ethical high ground. We just don’t have the war machine they have. We are poor, compared to an industry which had profits of 100 billion dollars last year.

    Sucks.

    (The fundamental problems with health care are two…

    As technology and medicine advance, the array of solutions grows. This is good, but expensive, and I suppose some would consider this a problem. Maybe we should close down the NIH.

    Only about 70% of money paid into health care comes out as services. The rest goes to overhead and waste. This is a problem. Competition solves this type of problem–hence the public option for the self insured and uninsured.

    Two solutions would be to provide competition in the market, and shift some of the defense budget over to fund health care. Have enough boomers and F22As, I think.)

  14. Lewis says:

    Let’s talk about something my government fearing, fed up, called protesting the Iraq war treason when Bush was in office but goes to tea-bag rallies father mentioned about the cash for clunkers program.

    His employer owns a car lot. Said car lot sold something like 30 cars under cash for clunkers. The paperwork to get paid for this is enormous like 13 pages for each one and he calculated, optimistically in my estimation, that it would take 500 people a month to process all the paperwork. It is reasonable that the infrastructure for this is not in place and will take some time to establish even at a level that will take several months to get thru all the applications.

    In the meantime there are no cars on the lot and used car prices are being driven up as all the trade-ins must apperently be scrapped and dealers have no vehicles and have yet to see a dime of clunker cash.

    So he looks at this which is ostensibly a simple program and goes, “You want to put the government in charge of health care?”

    The problem isn’t just ‘messaging.’ You aren’t going to message away people’s actual experiences on the bad side of a buereaucracy.

  15. dhogaza says:

    You should spend some time in a country where health care is nationalized.

    England, for instance.

    There is a reason people are worried that the government will control costs by limiting care to the elderly.

    I have. And my gf’s a french woman living in spain, and has received excellent care under both systems.

    The system here already limits care to the elderly – and everyone else – unless you have out-of-pocket cash to pay for treatments insurance companies refuse to cover. So what happens in Spain or France if you want treatment the national insurance (France) or national health care system (Spain) won’t cover? Same as here, you pay for it.

    Your argument boils down to “if a system (private insurance or public insurance or health service) won’t pay for everything, we’re better off with no private insurance/public healthcare system at all”.

  16. Health care issues can be easily re-twisted and re-packaged by the insurance industry.

    But you cannot argue with climate, because eventually it will be spitting into the wind.

    The denialist PR campaigns will be more strident and desperate as the real world changes.

  17. Hey Skipper says:

    I have. And my gf’s a french woman living in spain, and has received excellent care under both systems.

    I’ll bet neither are in their 80s hoping to get a hip replacement.

    Here are just a few unanswered questions about this health care monstrosity.

  18. Mark Shapiro says:

    One quick suggestion –

    When a company behaves badly, name and blame the CEO. He controls the company’s policies, messages, and tactics, and reaps the biggest benefits from them. And importantly, he is not protected by the vast goodwill that shields companies from criticism for many readers or viewers.

    Companies have legions of loyal employees, customers, and shareholders who, whatever their views on AGW, don’t like being attacked with guilt by association. So don’t attack the company, attack the CEO. CEOs are concerned about their legacy, their good name, and they deserve 100% of the blame (approximately).

  19. Mike#22 says:

    Skip, US is 35th in this list of countries by life expectancy from the CIA factbook.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy
    France does better.

  20. David B. Benson says:

    Regarding the subject of this thread, I find
    http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2009/08/my-craven-rave-at-last.html
    well worth reading.

  21. Hey Skipper says:

    Mike:

    Skip, US is 35th in this list of countries by life expectancy from the CIA factbook.

    Compare like against like.

    The CIA factbook is based on an entire country’s population. France is relatively homogeneous, as are all other European countries.

    So, if you were to compare European Americans against Europeans, the life expectancy difference vanishes.

    In fact, separating African Americans from life expectancy calculations raises US life expectancy by roughly 5 years (IIRC; I looked it up once, but don’t have the links).

    Presuming that is true — and I am pretty certain it is — then relying on composite population statistics for the US is really a case of discovering that African Americans continue to suffer from centuries of slavery and institutionalized racism.

    That is indeed a very bad thing, but the consequent reduction in their average lifespan is not due to US health care. Including it in a comparative statistic exercise is wrong.

  22. Mike#22 says:

    Skip,

    “…the consequent reduction in their average lifespan is not due to US health care. Including it in a comparative statistic exercise is wrong.”

    reference?

  23. Hey Skipper says:

    Mike:

    reference?

    Apologies, I didn’t include it because I thought it would take too long to dig up.

    Turns out it was easier than I thought. Here it is. Go to page 8 of the executive summary, bottom para on the left.

    Also, it turns out my memory served pretty well.

    Now, it is worth parsing that “45 million uninsured” number. That is just as misleading as the oft-abused (The Economist falls prey to it every time it opens its keyboard on the subject) citation of US life expectancy.

  24. Hey Skipper says:

    Oops, sorry, make that page 9.

  25. Mark Shapiro says:

    Yes, if we ignore the least healthy segment of the population, the average becomes healthier.

    And a lot of folks are satisfied to keep ignoring that segment. Slavery and racism will do that. Oh, well.

  26. Hey Skipper says:

    Mark:

    Nice dodge, but a dodge nonetheless.

    If you wanted to raise the life expectancy of African Americans, what would you, if made God, do? Unless health care is on the top of that list — and I would bet it is nowhere in the top ten — then it is disingenuous to use what is not a health care problem to indict health care.

    Compare like against like. How long do British Americans live in the US, v Britain? French Americans? German Americans?

    Put it another way: If slavery had never happened, would those favoring massive government intervention into medical care be able to use lifespan to demonstrate allegedly inferior results in the US?

    If not, and the answer is not, then the unthinking use of that statistic amounts to condemning slavery.

    Which is, by now, an obvious point.

    But not on topic.

  27. Hey Skipper says:

    Oh, and I forgot to add the irony involved here in a post dedicated to “disinformation”.

    Let’s also not forget the gross disinformation included every time you hear about “45 million uninsured”.

  28. Hey Skipper,
    Heard of OHIP? (Ontario Health Insurance Plan)

  29. Mike#22 says:

    Thanks Mark, your point was what I should have made in the first place.

    Skip, not only do the French live longer than we do, they do it at about half the per capita expenditure http://www.kff.org/insurance/snapshot/chcm010307oth.cfm

  30. Mike#22 says:

    Skip, I conclude that the French are getting better health care at about half the cost. The same statement could be made dozens of times with other countries beside France being compared to the US. This is a clear message, and this clear message has and will be vigorously attacked.

    Our health care system represents what the health care providers want–not what Americans would get with a fair playing field, genuine debate, and well informed voters.

    Our air pollution laws with respect to CO2 represent what the fossil fuel providers want–not what Americans would get with a fair playing field, genuine debate, and well informed voters.

    This is because they have +90% of the lobbying dollars, +90% of the PR budget, and unlimited greed.

  31. Everyone can stop feeding Skipper — he obviously doesn’t know his a$$ from his elbow (keeping it medical).

    We call it universal health care in Canada because it’s universally cherished. It is considered one of the defining traits of our nationhood, a core value that binds each and every one of us from sea to sea to sea. It would be the best thing that Obama could do for America, and it would ensure his place in history as a great President.

    I can speak to Canadian health care because I have lived through experience after experience, hundreds of times over, both personally, and through my perspective as a caregiver.

    We sometimes do have to wait for elective surgery. When I tore cartilage in my knee, I had to wait three months. When I shattered a bone in my hand, and needed plastic surgery immediately to retain the use of two fingers, I had it immediately. And months of follow-up visits, every two weeks, and months of physio. After I was laid off in the early 1990s, doctors found a brain tumor that was, mercifully, benign. But I had a series of MRIs and hours of tests within 10 days, just to be sure.

    Similarly with my mother, who died in 2005 at the age of 83. She suffered from severe asthma, severe osteoporosis (brought on by asthma drugs), and cancer (twice). Doctors never withheld or delayed any treatment, ever. Her condition meant that we often spent a night every two weeks or so in emergency as she struggled for breath; that she would break bones and vertebrae by coughing, and that she needed surgery when she was 78 years old, and weighed only 78 pounds. She was always cared for by thorough, competent professionals, so that the despair and grief that she endured (and I endured, as her caregiver) was never compromised by an inablity to pay. We never had to worry if she was getting the best care possible, or if someone at an insurance company was cutting corners to save money.

    Americans would LOVE this system of healthcare, which would take their healthcare out of the hands of for-profit companies, and put it into the hands of doctors and patients.

    I’m not saying that our Canadian system is perfect, but no one is suggesting that the US system needs to look like Canada’s. You could look and study the universal health care in the UK, Canada, France, and Germany, and choose the best features of each to create something that truly is wonderful. That the world’s richest country is ranked with Slovenia and Cuba in terms of healthcare should be a national embarrassment to to Skipper.

    It doesn’t have to be a bureacratic nightmare, either. It fact, it never is. When I needed platic surgery on my hand, I was processed and admitted in less than 10 minutes.

    When my uninsured wife from Maine moved to Canada, she was covered the day she married me. We merely walked into the MSI office with a copy of our marriage certificate, and she filled out a single form consisting of one page. Her health card arrived two days later.

    Doesn’t that sound like something EVERYbody could get behind?

  32. Hey Skipper says:

    Skip, not only do the French live longer than we do …

    No, they do not.

    European Americans live as long as Europeans do. You are making the problem of aggregating a racially heterogeneous population with a homogenous one. Also, you make the additional leap of faith that the difference in life expectancy, to the extent it exists, is amenable to health care: obesity, for example, is neither caused, nor can be fixed, by health care.

    Additionally, the French do, in fact, pay dearly for their health care system.:

    A Frenchman making a monthly salary of 3,000 euros will pay approximately 350 of them (deducted by his employer) for health insurance. Then the employer will add approximately 1,200 euros, making the total monthly cost to the employer of this individual’s services not 3,000 euros but 4,200. High labor costs in France affect not only consumer prices but also unemployment rates, since employers are reluctant to pay so much for low-skill workers. Economists agree that unemployment rates and the cost of national health insurance are directly related everywhere, which partly explains why even in periods of economic growth, the average French unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent.

    Perhaps Mr. Levangie can show how the true cost, and the trend in cost, for Canadian health care.

    Please note, I am not saying US health care provision is perfect. But the place to start fixing it is by eliminating the IRS tax code distortion that treats employer purchased health insurance differently than that purchased by individuals, severe tort reform (just how do malpractice suits go in Canada, or France, anyway?), eliminating state boundary restrictions on health insurance, plus dealing with pre-existing conditions and moral hazard.

    None of this requires the kind of bureaucratic monstrosity being hatched in Congress.

  33. Mike#22 says:

    Skip, These countries ALL have higher life expectancy than Americans, and achieve this outcome at much lower costs. 2003 per capita health care costs in other countries: Australia $2,886; Austria $2,958; Belgium $3,044; Canada $2,998; Denmark $2,743; Finland $2,104; France $3,048; Iceland $3,159; Ireland $2,455; Italy $2,314; Japan $2,249; Luxembourg $4,611; Netherlands $2,909; Norway $3,769; Sweden $2,745; Switzerland $3,847; United Kingdom $2,317;

    And us–United States $5,711 http://www.kff.org/insurance/snapshot/chcm010307oth.cfm

    Perhaps instead of looking for ways to divide Americans into different socioeconomic categories, you could consider that in countries where coverage is universal, people live longer and pay a lot less.

  34. Mike#22 says:

    Also, being self employed and self insured, I have skimmed the proposals. Like HR2454, this material is easy to read and understand.

    The pundits labeling this simple legislation as “too complicated, too labyrinthian” are just insulting Americans, and discouraging them from participating in their own democracy.

  35. Hey Skipper says:

    Perhaps instead of looking for ways to divide Americans into different socioeconomic categories …

    I’m not. I’m looking to compare like against like, in order to determine whether what is described as a consequence of health care availability is that, or due to something else entirely.

    If the latter, and you really do need to make a persuasive case to the contrary before accusing me of looking to divide Americans, then continually citing that aggregate number is either unintentionally mistaken, or an intentional case of disinformation.

    The pundits labeling this simple legislation as “too complicated, too labyrinthian” are just insulting Americans, and discouraging them from participating in their own democracy.

    Did you take a look at the list of unanswered questions to which I linked above?

  36. Mike#22 says:

    (quoting myself) “Perhaps instead of looking for ways to divide Americans into different socioeconomic categories, you could consider that in countries where coverage is universal, people live longer and pay a lot less.”

    Skip, lets look at it your way then. If we divide out the Americans at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale, those with the least access to health services, who live the highest stress neighborhoods with the highest crime rates, who live in the most polluted areas, have the lowest incomes, you are saying that the reminder of us have comparable longevity rates to the countries I listed above, while those same socioeconomic classes remain in the aggregates for other countries.

    I would conclude then, that the countries listed above provide excellent health care coverage at a cost about half what Americans pay, and do it while including ALL levels of their socieities, and in comparison, most Americans get a similar level of care while being charged twice the going rate, AND we can’t even provide these same services to the most needful of them, those on the lowest rungs of our socioeconomic ladder. And they die earlier of it.

    Time for reform.

  37. N.J. says:

    I think the most amusing (if it were not so dangerous) thing about the “death panel” urban myth created by conservatives is that is is simply easily proven false by the fact that even the countries that have a real socialized medicine system, Britain and Spain, have considerably longer lifespans than we do even when they take out the upper income demographic of the population and compare the U.S. to the British.

    The Europeans, the New Zealanders, the Australians, the Japanese not only live longer than Americans, they live longer with longer periods of better health than Americans do. That is the most important statistic. Even if American lived as long as the citizens of these nations do, we spend a good many more years in declining and then bad health compared to them. The Japanese, for example, live to a median age of 81, and live almost all but the last two or three in good health. Americans on average spend the last ten years in relatively poor health.

    If universal health care yielded the withholding of health care from the elderly at the end of life and the frail at the beginning of it, most certainly it would show up in their mortality statistics.

    Another factor well known is that ethnic diversity should improve the gene pool and result in better health, while lack of ethnic diversity should have some adverse effects on the gene pool of a nation. Because America has such a diverse mix of ethnicities and races that do marry and swap genetic materials, we should see a benefit in this that one would not see in a place like Japan or in Denmark or Ireland, places that are relatively etnically and genetically lacking in a good deal of diversity.

    On the whole this is another case of needing to create a health care search for WMD’s that do not exist in order to do battle on health reform.

  38. unsalisee says:

    I think you made some good points in your post.