Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Random Observations

1. I just got back from the meeting of the President’s Council on Bioethics. The main topic was healthcare. Here’s one big issue: The present system, where most people get the insurance from their employer, is collapsing. It’s incompatible with a dynamic economy and unaffordable over the long term. And when key "intermediary" groups can no longer do a job, it’s inevitable that some responsibilities devolve to individuals, and others to the government. We need a system that fosters competition among private insurers, gets everyone covered (maybe through individual mandates)--incuding the so-called uninsurable, eliminates the present tax breaks for employer-based insurance (which are very regressive), and replaces those breaks with tax credits and subsidies to make insurance affordable for all. The result should be as much individual responsibility or choice as is reasonable. But that responsibility isn’t really for "abstract individuals" alone. The new system--to be sustainable--has to encourage voluntary caregiving by families, communities, and churches. We have to think more consciously in terms of SUBSIDIARITY in our increasingly individualistic time. Otherwise, we’ll end up with more government than is good for us. Republicans have to show they really understand the imperatives of this new situation, and not merely rail against new rights, socialized medicine, and so forth. More on this later.

That leads us to the "Sam’s Club Republicans," who have to be cultivated for the GOP to have a future. For them, the SOCIAL ISSUES concerning the disintegration of the family and elite contempt for ordinary virtue remain more real than ever. But so too are the issues flowing from their economic anxiety--like health care. They don’t experience their lives as on the road to some "soft despotism." For them, the individual--surrounded by collapsing "safety nets"--seems more on his or her own than ever. Sam’s Club Republicans don’t want "socialized medicine," but they also don’t want to constantly worry about access to affordable health care for themselves and their children.

The main reason for the "enthusiasm gap" in the presidential campaign so far is that McCain doesn’t yet seem to feel the pain of the "Sam’s Club Republican"--either morally or economically. Mac has to appeal to independents (one honorable maverick appealing to others), given how discredited the Republican "brand" is right now. But he also has to energize the base that reelected the president in 2004.

Discussions - 18 Comments

This issue could be tied directly into Wal-Mart with the rise of clinics with nurses and Physician assistants at stores. For a relatively small fee (less than $100 if memory serves) most routine medical stuff can be take care of. Plus there are inexpensive generic drugs to be had at their pharmacies.

On this note, might it also be time to rethink the teaching hospital, regular hospital, private doctor office model of medical care?

It seems feasible to organize health insurance/ health providers like car maintenance/ repairs. Let us pay for our own regular expenses, and have insurance for extraordinary expenses.

Dear Professor Lawler,

I believe that any conservative health care reform has to be sold as a way of reducing the anxiety of the working and middle classes. Under the current system, if you lose your job, you and your dependents lose their insurance. If you switch jobs, you probably have a several month gap in coverage. If you or one of your dependents get diagnosed with a serious condition during your gap in coverage, it compromises your new insurance. Under a system where you owned your own insurance, switching jobs or a short spell of unemployment would not cause a gap in coverage (premiums could be paid out of savings). The problem is that the tax system discourages such an arrangement. But one word of warning: I don't think that a more free market health care system can be sold to the public with a rhetoric of individual responsibility. Most working families feel quite responsible enough as it is, without more being put on their plate. Free market oriented health care reform will have to be sold with a rhetoric of greater security (no loss of health insurance for short term job changes) and increased affordability. If greater individual responsibility was a political winner, President Bush's Social Security Reform plan would have gotten a better reception from the public.

If you could buy your health insurance at Sam's Club plenty of people would do that. "Join Sam's Club and be part of our health care plan for between $X and $Y a year," depending on the results of your $50 health exam.

Untying health insurance from the job and attaching it to groups that are not so local would address that issue of the mobility Americans love. If any group could be a pool for health care purposes and there were lots of options as to the coverage any group could buy, then the Hell's Angels health insurance group would pay more than the Methodist Church health insurance group, but everyone would understand why. Sam's Club could sell a catastrophic plan and have you pay out of pocket at their clinics. Large hospital groups could offer the same sorts of options.

Apparently, the "original" human nature was not like the present:

"It’s incompatible with a dynamic economy . . . ." Is this a dynamic economy?

Professor, you have to give McCain some time to generate some energy and enthusiasm. Right now, the GOP is still shell-shocked by the scale of the damage that GW inflicted on the country and the party.

This is the late afternoon of a political battle that has gone very much against us. A few officers are still in the saddle, trying to bring clarity and order to the battlefield, but others are scampering for the woods on the far side. GW, in his folly, still issues orders that others, equally foolish, attempt to carry out. Those still standing by the colours are just looking about for someone, anyone to provide some clear kind of direction. The roar of the cannon deafens; the fog of battle beclouds. It isn't pretty.

GW led the party into the valley of the shadow; if McCain hasn't righted the situation yet, -------------- well, it's a small wonder that he hasn't been blown away already, by a 20 point plus margin.

Oh, and Professor Lawler, I thought of another possible VP pick for McCain.

He's got loads of personality, has a track record of success as a public official, former Marine, been known to jump in the face of snotty talking heads, has a good feel for the pulse of America, --------------------- and the guy is a Democrat to boot.

His name is ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Former Gov, former Senator ZELL MILLER.

Republicans will accept Zell Miller; they respect him, ---------------- but they won't accept Joe Lieberman, for on too many issues, he's out there with the rest of that party.

Rush Limbaugh spent a good chunk of his Friday show railing against the book, though all he appears to have read is David Brooks's column. This isn't helpful.

Brooks has been so dead wrong of late that it begs the question, is it really worth the while to spend time on his book, which is apt to be not unlike his column, freighted with error.

There are loads of good books out there, {I'm reading half a dozen right now, and those are just the substantive works, I'm also rereading Bernard Conrwell's Richard Sharpe series}. Time is short, Brooks doesn't warrant the expenditure anymore.

Dan, I envy you rereading the Cornwell Sharpe books. I wish I could do that; I so miss reading for pleasure. What a good summer reading choice! Enjoy!

Sharpe is the man.

Hollywood could make a fortune turning those novels into movies. I know the BBC has produced a series, but they're not the cast of thousands that the books cry out for.

I asked the author if he thought that he accurately portrayed Wellington. He said he thought he did. And I think the interaction between Sharpe and the Iron Duke are some of the best scenes in the series.

Yes, they are some of the best scenes in the series. I like the battles, especially Cornwell's Trafalgar. Those are lovely books.

Given what Hollywood does to other novels I like, I dread what it might do these. The BBC gutted the books for their series. I was given the video collections on VHS when the previous owner changed over to HD DVD. The first few weren't so bad, but then they get awfully cheesy. I liked Pete Postlethwaite as the evil sergeant, and Sean Bean has good moments as Sharpe. Yet, the short-cuts the BBC took with history and the stories left me dizzy. My benefactors have never read the books and don't know what they are missing. I wonder what to do with this particular material blessing.

Mac has to appeal to independents (one honorable maverick appealing to others), given how discredited the Republican "brand" is right now.

Of course "Mac" has done as much as anybody to discredit it, and more than most.

Those books crave the David Lean, Cecil B. De Mille treatment. The three books where Sharpe is in India could be fashioned into a single movie. As for the BBC, they shouldn't have bothered, especially when they weren't going to devote the money necessary to the project. They went small budget, ------------ and it played hell with the books.

But instead of making movies like that, Hollywood prefers gender blending roles for the curvy Jolie, {how many movies is she going to play some chick who can handle everybody, like she was the female version of the old Sheriff Buford Pusser} or kinky thrillers, where each character is in a duel with all others to deliver the best line.

That would be the only way, though with current technology a cast of thousands is available within a computer. That still doesn't make the movie small-budget. But the latter mode of movie that you cite is exactly why I dread the Sharpe books becoming a movie. I can picture a couple of possible roles for Jolie, but those characters would be bent just as you suggest. I wouldn't like to see it.

Here's a question Kate. Is there a female role that Jolie could portray from the Sharpe novels? How about the Countess Comayard? {sp?}, there's a possibility.

Lady Comoynes? I lose track of the female characters' names, too. How about the female, name unremembered, in Sharpe's Sword? It has been too long, and I misremember too much. If I ever have time for pleasure again, I must reread those books.

If you find a character for Jolie in your proposed film, or wish to just wish discuss the novels as you go through them, I attach an address.

Or else we could continue hijacking threads for the purpose through the summer. That seems rude, though. Enjoy your books!

This isn't hijacking a thread, rather, it's availing ourselves of a thread that has fallen into disuse.

Lady C. was the widow who Lord Fenner was using and abusing in Sharpe's Regiment. You recall that's the story where Sharpe returns to London to get reinforcements, is presented to the Prince of Wales, goes to the theater where he and Harper are recognized by the stage director. He goes to find his men and finds instead that they're being sold to other regiments by Sir Henry. So then he and Harper re-enlist to find track down their regiment. Harper has to escape a hunt, and Sharpe has to find hard evidence of the auctions. And his ally is a stylish widow with a penchant for rough sex.

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