A Few Things I Noticed Today…

Kids don’t know what lighters are:

We are out of matches, and I need to light the grill. Rummaging around the back of the junk drawer, my fingers find an old Bic lighter, a relic from my smoking days. I hold it up to check the butane tank, and my 6-year-old son asks, “What’s that?” His ignorance stirs something.

Smoking culture, its hardware and miscellany, tactile and once so familiar, is on the verge of extinction. To my son, the mechanical masterpiece I hold, with its depressible release valve and rough-edged spark wheel, is a relic. It might as well be Amenhotep’s scarab.

Actually, I think lighters are going to be around for a long time.

Next: Cigarette smoking can kill you, so why do people do it?

Roughly one in four people in Erie and Niagara counties smoke, even though there is clear evidence this can be a deadly habit.

Why? That’s one of the questions I asked Maansi Bansal-Travers, a research scientist with the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell who focuses on tobacco advertising and promotion.

“It’s a complicated answer,” she said. “There are still misperceptions about the health risks. Two-thirds of people believe that nicotine is the cause of cancer. Nicotine is not the cause of cancer. It’s other carcinogens in cigarette smoke. There’s a real physical addiction with cigarette smoking and there’s also a very strong behavioral component.”

How quickly can someone become addicted to cigarette smoking and how powerful is the addiction?

“It can be as fast as the first one,” Bansal-Travers said. “It’s stronger than cocaine, heroin, alcohol. Nicotine is physiologically the strongest addiction you can have.”

She and colleagues across the globe have spent the greater part of their professional lives trying to better understand why smokers can make a choice that flies in the face of their best interests.

Perhaps it’s because people enjoy smoking cigarettes, just like they enjoy drinking coffee, or anything else they enjoy doing? It’s just a thought. But it seems not to have occurred to Maansi Bansal-Travers.

And if she’s a “research scientist”, God help us all.

A little story I read somewhere, I forget where:

Years ago, an elderly, frail Japanese martial arts master once boasted a 200-0 record against his opponents.

He claimed to have a unique power that allowed him to inflict serious injury on people without actually laying a finger on them.

Was it Chi? Magic? None of the above. It was a total scam. But that didn’t matter.

You see, the legend of the master’s powers turned out to be far more powerful than reality.

His core following of students believed in the master so much that they would fling themselves across the dojo whenever he raised his pinky finger.

And anyone who saw the display would become transfixed by the perception of the mater’s extraordinary abilities. It was an incredible case of mass delusion.

Everyone believed it, including the master himself. He was so confident in his skills that he put up a $5,000 challenge that he could beat any fighter in the world.

A mixed martial arts champion accepted the wager, and the result wasn’t pretty.

As you can see in the video, the master is quickly knocked to the ground with a broken nose and a pool of blood. Observers scramble to find a doctor to come to his aid.

You can almost hear the sound of reality quickly taking hold from the gasps of his students. No one could bring themselves to believe that the master had been so quickly beaten.

To an outsider, it seems so obvious that this guy is a phony (just watch the video). But mass delusion is an incredibly powerful force.

We see the same effects in the West today—mass delusions everywhere.

Same goes with the Global Tobacco Epidemic and Global Warming: they’re delusions too. And they’ll go the same way as the Japanese ‘martial arts master’.

And finally, H/T nannyknowsbest, an exposé of charities:

The figures are astonishing. There are more than 195,289 registered charities in the UK that raise and spend close to £80 billion a year. Together, they employ more than a million staff – more than our car, aerospace and chemical sectors – and make 13 billion ‘asks’ for money every year, the equivalent of 200 for each of us in the UK.

But many charities have become hungry monsters, needing ever more of our money to feed their own ambitions. And while registered charities claim that almost 90p in every pound donated is spent on ‘charitable activities’, many spend at least half their income on management, strategy development, campaigning and fundraising – not what most of us would consider ‘good causes’.

 

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About Frank Davis

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38 Responses to A Few Things I Noticed Today…

  1. junican says:

    “Kids” have never known what lighters are until someone tells them. Nor have they ever known what matches are until someone tells them or shows them. The reasoning is pathetic and puerile.

    Two-thirds of people believe that nicotine is the cause of cancer. Nicotine is not the cause of cancer. It’s other carcinogens in cigarette smoke.”

    Proof that it is ‘other’ carcinogens? Is nicotine a carcinogen? But the statement says that nicotine ‘is not the cause of cancer’, therefore it is not ‘an other’ cause of cancer. That sentence alone proves beyond doubt that chaos reigns.

    At this time, the chaos favours the idiots like Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. But not for much longer.

    ===

    The answer to a lot of our financial problems is to stop giving our money to charlatans in the UN, EU, WHO, UNESCO, etc. Many countries which signed the FCTC Treaty have not paid a penny of their dues. The USA signed, but did not ratify. Because it signed, should it not pay its dues? Why does not ratifying excuse it from paying dues? Why is Cameron throwing away our taxpayers’ money on Charlatan organisations?

    Can he be sued?

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Obama bin Biden just promised 2 trillion dollars to the world economies to keep the global climate change fraud alive and on going….hense why China said Ok we will play ball for a awhile……….who really knows where this 2 trill will come from as we know congress wont authorize it nor will the senate and Obama can do no more than 200 million in give aways in a year on trips to other countries…. So does he plan on having the FED cough up 2 trillion under th cover of FED no tell policy where no audits are allowed or what!

  2. cherie79 says:

    My little granddaughter is a girl after my own heart, when I was having a cigarette in the garden she asked if she could make smoke too!

  3. This would appear to be the video. The first 35 seconds are the best as he shows off his incredible “skill”.

  4. Doesn’t the same level of delusion work on us all in different ways? I would say that everyone here is deluded (myself included, naturally) to the exact same extent in something or other. We just ‘believe’.

    Anyway, my commentary on these enticing subjects…

    Next: Cigarette smoking can kill you, so why do people do it?

    And here was me thinking, in my sweet naïvete (delusion?), that the journalist was going to get out of his comfy chair and ask people who smoke, but he asks this Maansi Bansal-Travers woman in front of him. Although, to be fair, I suppose, this is how she got her doctorate,

    I did two studies for my PhD dissertation. They both involved trying to educate people about their products. We found all the areas of misperception that people hold about cigarettes and smokeless tobacco and the health risks.

    So she should know? But it’s that easy to be able to get yourself addressed as “Doctor”, is it? Ask people questions then confront them over their ‘ignorance’ about the health risks.

    Surely this means that the warnings and all the other ‘education’ and scare tactics and ‘statistics’ don’t work? When my parents’ generation almost all stopped smoking in their 40s, I think it was more of a peer pressure/in-thing phenomenon. They still mostly all drank copious amounts of alcohol and I’m not saying that from a nanny point of view. They’d have been better carrying on smoking and cutting out the booze. That’s the West of Scotland for you. The ‘lower middle class’ for want of a better description. The poverty-stricken largely continue doing both.

    I have another gripe. When the Doctor is asked how powerful the addiction to nicotine is:

    It’s stronger than cocaine, heroin, alcohol. Nicotine is physiologically the strongest addiction you can have.

    a) I had to be professionally detoxed from alcohol after years of intense misery and

    b) The NRT wouldn’t be so ineffective for most people if ‘nicotine’ was the answer.

    I propose that she got her PhD by deluding those throwing them around that day.

    I’m beginning to wonder if this woman is also a Master in a Japanese fighting art. You know how nannies win just by wagging their fingers.

    As for ‘charities’. The biggest laugh goes to them. You deserve a PhD if you can list the genuine ones. It shouldn’t take up too many sheets of paper.

    A friend of mine ran a children’s charity for a couple of years. It was his own idea to make money for himself while using any excess to send the odd child with a suspected terminal condition to have a holiday with his or her family.

    Anyway, he showed me the figures and almost all the money raised went to pay his salary. His best can-rattlers could collect £200 or more on a busy morning and their commission was 20%, if memory serves.

    He wasn’t being dishonest per se but income hardly exceeded what he needed to look after his own family. This ‘children’s charity’ was really to look after his own children!

    But he was honest compared to many of the ‘charities’ which rely on taxpayer handouts (therefore not charities) and are engaged in social re-engineering, hence the handouts.

    I’m now wondering how I’m going to get my PhD. By asking people why they like salt on their food and shouting at them that it’s dangerous? That ought to do it.

  5. nisakiman says:

    I left a comment on the Buffalo News article yesterday morning, completely debunking the “It’s stronger than cocaine, heroin, alcohol. Nicotine is physiologically the strongest addiction you can have.” assertion.

    My comment was of course deleted, which slightly surprised me, since they let Harley’s comments stand. Perhaps it was because I specifically targeted the core subject of the article and poured scorn on the utterances of the ‘expert’, Maansi Bansal-Travers. As you say, Frank, “…if she’s a “research scientist”, God help us all.”

  6. waltc says:

    “She and colleagues across the globe have spent the greater part of their professional lives trying to better understand why smokers can make a choice that flies in the face of their best interests.”

    I have to wonder how “she and her colleagues across the globe” have the faintest idea of what’s in either your or my best interest. Do they really believe that people decide on their “best interests” by the sole criterion of dodging all possible statistical risks? In that case, the answer to T.S.Eliots’ classic question Do I dare to eat a peach? would be definitely No, considering the danger of choking on the pit, or the pesticide residues poisoning the skin.

    • Rose says:

      “better understand why smokers can make a choice that flies in the face of their best interests.”

      I took up smoking because I already knew that the same plant chemicals that anti-tobacco blamed for cancer in lungs were in the commonly eaten nightshade vegetables just in smaller amounts but were never blamed for cancers of the digestive system. After three years of wondering why the cigarette companies would put road tar in cigarettes after the lecture at school, I could see no possible advantage in doing so and came to the conclusion the lecturers were unwittingly lying as they seemed so sincere.

      Much later having been exposed to one too many anti-tobacco posters with a phial dripping black oil, I decided to take up smoking to find out what they were lying about.
      Previously smoking had seemed a pointless practice to me.

      I got my original information from books on vegetable growing and couldn’t see any reason why the books should lie.
      It helped a lot that I was born in the days when everyone was coughing due to the industrial smogs and never ending coal smoke, so I did have something as a comparison to the government propaganda.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Mine was my 96 year old granny still smoking and dipping at her old age………….

        ;Poor thing died right before turning 97 of choking on food………….

  7. waltc says:

    For anyone following the American saga of Jonathan Gruber, the premier architect of Obamacare who was caught on tape repeatedly boasting to groups of academics how the hated law was passed by blatantly, craftily lying to the congress and the (quote) “stupid” public about what was in it — it was also revealed tonight that he personally received over $2 million in Obamacare bucks to advise the government on anti-smoking policies.

    • waltc says:

      To wit

      “The National Institutes of Health clinched a deal for a like amount ($2.05 million), and the Department of Justice contracted with Gruber for nearly $1.74 million. DOJ? You might ask. Why would the Justice Department be hiring the architect of ObamaCare? Records show Gruber earned the DOJ fee for helping to develop viable incentives to be extended to the tobacco companies in order to dissuade them from targeting teen smokers.

      Similarly, Gruber collected $103,500 from the State Department for his services as an expert witness, providing testimony in a NAFTA dispute with a Canadian tobacco firm.”

      http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/11/17/controversial-economist-gruber-has-earned-millions-from-taxpayers-at-federal/

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        I think Carol called those styled payments pass thru contracts…………

        • carol2000 says:

          No, those are perfectly transparent. The problem may be with sole-sourcing, but I’m not sure if the White House is like a regular agency.

          From Rep. Thomas Bliley’s memorandum to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Health and Environment Subcommittee, July 21, 1993 (the Waxman Hearings), “EPA AND ENVIRONMENTAL TOBACCO SMOKE: SCIENCE OR POLITICS?” (Serial No. 103-51, 103d Cong., 1st Sess. (July 21, 1993). “EPA’s contracting improprieties in connection with the preparation of the four ETS documents are not confined to the policy guide. In June 1993, the Inspector General reported to me that similar abuses had occurred in connection with several of the ETS risk assessment subcontracts. The most egregious of these appears to be the subcontract between ICF, once again the prime contractor, and Kenneth G. Brown, Inc., which drafted most of the critical sections on lung cancer. The Inspector General states that in the case of the Brown subcontract, ‘EPA program personnel and ICF simply circumvented the contracting officers’ altogether, clearly a violation of proper procedures. Like the SPI subcontract, the Brown subcontract also was awarded on a non-competitive basis, and the only justification for that decision that could be found was an undated and unsigned ‘sole source justification’ file memorandum.” (Page 39)
          http://tobaccodocuments.org/pm/2046746882-6952.html?start_page=34&end_page=40
          Kenneth G. Brown was a front man for militant anti-smoker A. Judson Wells. That was the pass-through. Jonathan Samet thanked Wells “for his helpful comments” in Samet’s effort to blame secondhand smoke for causing cancer in nonsmokers (The Relationship Between Passive Exposure to Cigarette Smoke and Cancer. In: Indoor Air and Human Health. Richard B. Gammage and Stephen B. Kaye, editors. Lewis Publishers, Inc., 1985). In a statement before an OSHA informal public hearing on proposed rulemaking vis-a-vis Indoor Air Quality, est. date April 5, 1994, A. Judson Wells said that “From 1989 to 1993 I was an unpaid consultant to Kenneth G. Brown, Inc., a subcontractor to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in their work leading up to the publication of their report: Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders. I am a coauthor of that report. More recently I have consulted, again unpaid, for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration on health effects of passive smoking and am testifying on their behalf today.”
          http://www.smokershistory.com/NCCIA.htm#A._Judson_Wells

    • Frank Davis says:

      Re Obamacare, my brother (If my brother was a US citizen, I think he’d vote Dem) reckons that, apart from a few initial teething problems, it’s been a success. I said I’d heard it was all a bit of a disaster, and suggested that while he’d been reading Democrat views on it, I’d been reading Republican ones.

      It’s not really a matter of pressing interest to me, but I’d be interested to know why some people think it’s been a success, and some think it’s been a failure.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        CNBC of all Liberal news networks this morning showed and said its a dismal failure.
        In order for it to work thy have to have 15 million young paying in and using nothing of the insurance. They only have 7 million that they actually say as a number and its never been verified at all to start with. Most of that number if its real is welfare recipients forced into the ZEROCARE mandate. The pay nothing at all and the government for the others who do work get a stipend to pay for their premiums which is now in the federal Courts and will likely be the death of zerocare as the government cannot subsidize insurance premiums for anyone!

        That will mean an end to virtually the entire zerocare law at its core!

    • Frank Davis says:

      “So my number one is this: fire with a flick of the fingers.”

      He’s quite right, actually. I hadn’t looked at it that way. It’s perhaps the primary human skill: the ability to make fire, or (like Cherie’s granddaughter) make smoke.

      I’m a bit surprised that the antis haven’t banned lighters yet.

      • Rose says:

        My first suggestion after the smoking ban came in, everyone should invest in a crate of lighters as this was part of a long running campaign against human self sufficiency and the use of fire.

        Incidentally, what have alcohol, smoke, sugar and salt got in common?

        They have all been used to preserve food over winter.
        To whose ultimate benefit would it be to create an overwhelming public dread of those four essentials for survival?

  8. carol2000 says:

    This is for all those dumb pot smokers who parrot anti-smoker lies:
    Why the dangers of secondhand smoke could change the innovation dynamics of the marijuana industry
    By Dominic Basulto November 18 at 8:24 AM
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/11/18/why-the-dangers-of-secondhand-smoke-could-change-the-innovation-dynamics-of-the-marijuana-industry/

    • Rose says:

      You have to laugh.

      Jan – “This is rubbish, fake science. Cigarette smoke kills you, 1st hand or 2nd hand. Pot does not, not even 2nd hand. Don’t believe everything you read. Follow the money.”

      What goes around, comes around indeed.

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    EDITORIAL: Anti-smoking fanaticism

    A Massachusetts town rises in opposition to a ban on tobacco

    Prohibition is back in Westminster, a rural town of about 8,000 near the New Hampshire border in north-central Massachusetts. The town’s three-member board of health said it would prohibit the sale of all tobacco products within the town’s borders. Comments are being taken until Dec. 1 on the ban that, if approved, would take effect next year.

    When legislators gave local boards of health the power to make “reasonable health regulations,” they probably had in mind the sort of things small towns do, such as making flu shots available and organizing blood drives. They surely didn’t imagine localities imposing a ban on all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipe and hookah tobacco, chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes

    Retailers caught selling these forbidden vices would be subject to a fine of $300 per violation, but it probably wouldn’t make much of a dent in the use of tobacco. It’s a 12-minute drive to a gasoline station, convenience mart or grocery store in a neighboring city that will happily sell Westminster residents a pack of smokes or a can of snuff.

    There’s a danger that nearby towns might decide to join the trend. Already, bureaucrats in Worcester, a 30-minute drive from Westminster, are mulling the possibilities of adopting their own prohibitions. Tobacco users who want a nicotine fix would still find a way. The scheme merely increases the hassle. The New Hampshire border is less than 20 miles away. Rather than contributing to the health of the community, the proposal would make local businesses sick.

    Brian Vincent, who owns a small grocery story on the town’s main street, told The New York Daily News that he sells $100,000 worth of tobacco a year. Smokers may find it more convenient to buy gasoline and do their shopping in a neighboring town where they have to go to purchase their cigarettes, anyway.

    “It’s going to send business five minutes this way or five minutes that way. No one’s going to quit,” Mr. Vincent said.

    Mr. Vincent has collected nearly 1,000 signatures from residents opposing the ban. Hundreds attended a public meeting of the board of health last week, but the board cut off debate and ended the meeting quickly.

    The politicians who make up the Westminster Board of Selectmen announced unanimous opposition to the ban, but the local board of health has the authority to adopt any proposal as long as it claims to advance public health. The only check on a runaway board is the simple power to recall board members, two of whom can be voted out rather quickly while the third, board Chairman Andrea Crete, can stay until her term expires in April.

    Given the politics, the ban probably won’t last long. Cigarettes are lethal, they’re expensive and they smell bad. Smokers should quit, but oppressive politicians can be worse than the evil weed

    Given the politics, the ban probably won’t last long. Cigarettes are lethal, they’re expensive and they smell bad. Smokers should quit, but oppressive politicians can be worse than the evil weed.

    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/nov/17/editorial-anti-smoking-fanaticism/#ixzz3JQwSu645

    • carol2000 says:

      Those hypocrites have let the anti-smokers get away with all their frauds, now they want to distance themselves from the consequences. Just saying that it’s bad for business is a sellout, not standing up for principles. And this is all the Republicans have ever done.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Carol Id agree both sides are guilty as charged,but the blame truly rests with the leftists.

        Not all democrats support the BS bans. My own Legislator himself a democrat and one Id vote for religiously for that one thing.

        I tell you as I heard said a long time ago,a countries freedom can be measured in its ability to freely smoke where one desires without infringement or threat of imprisonment.

        I went to the VA hospital yesterday and I left after 8 individuals were called back after I had already checked in some 90 minutes later. The time before I counted 38 being called back before me and I asked WHY! No answer was given and no answer was given as to why they got in ahead of somebody with a scheduled appointment and had waited for 3.5 hours only to see people walk in sit down and within 5 mintues get called back!

        I wasn’t going to allow that to happen again. I waited for the 9th name to be called back before I tossed the appointment paper referral into the doctors office door and said FUCK YOU! Keep your god damned VA!

        I walked out and lit up at the sidewalk where the smoking spot always was only to see a VA policeman walk over and threaten me with a FEDERAL MAGISTRATE ticket if I lit up.

        I litup anyway blew smoke in the assholes face and walked off expecting to be in a fight.

        The cop walked off and didn’t do shit. Then as I got to the jeep I see 4 doctors in white frocks smoking under the trees the new so called smoking area accompanied by 4 nurses some from Vanderbilt university hospital next door……….

        As I passed one doctor spoke up and said did you just get hassled too to which I replied yes sir but he didnt do shit about it………….

        The nurses all giggled and went back to smoking………….I left and vowed never ever again!

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Wouldn’t that have been a hoot headline VETERAN FIGHTS VA POLICE OVER LOUSY CIGARETTE BEING SMOKED……………I use to write those stupid federal magistrate tickets but for real infringements like drunk driving and damage to property………themax amount is 110 dollars and has never been increased to my knowledge.

    • prog says:

      Forbidden vices?

      FFS, journalistic standards couldn’t get much worse.

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    WMN opinion: Count ways EU membership has helped us to prosper Western Morning News 03:17

    http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/WMN-opinion-Count-ways-EU-membership-helped/story-24551208-detail/story.html

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    If nyone hasn’t figured out yet Im jack listeria for now until whoever it is destroying my name and email addy does it again……………Ive been thru 12 in the last 2 months some not lasting any longer than 2 hours…………Im 3 countries down now woo hoo!

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    I think in the online battles thelongest one I ever saw was on PBS at over 1800 comments. The battle lasted a week and longer…………

  13. beobrigitte says:

    Kids don’t know what lighters are:

    They do. They just know them under a different name: CIGARETTE LIGHTERS.

    Next: Cigarette smoking can kill you, so why do people do it?

    Why do people throw themselves off mountains wearing a bat suit?

    Fact is: Getting out of bed in the morning can kill you. Slip, crack your head on the bed frame awkwardly = dead you are.

    Life IS GOING TO KILL YOU. It has a 100% death rate. Deal with it. We may as well LIVE and enjoy what we do! Nothing other than LIFE will kill us. The rest is politics designed to scare us to death with LIES.

    That does remind me; The BBC showed the latest Labour news today…. ‘controlled immigration’.
    Well, Labour is trying to jump on a bandwagon…. However, it’s spokesmen did not say there would be a repeal the smoking ban, so it’s a NO vote. Simples.

    • I wouldn’t vote for the LibLabCon Party whatever they “promised”. All three pretend factions said they would give us an EU referendum – while in opposition.

      They can promise the moon while in ‘opposition’. In fact, they probably prefer not being in government, so they can always appear to be on our side.

      As for Labour and “controlled immigration”, I can picture a Monty Python sketch.

      You would see Arabs carrying machine guns and wearing bomb belts being waved through while a little old lady from Canada who has arranged to spend the rest of her life with her family in the UK being sent home and shouted at, “We have “controlled immigration” now, you silly moo. Go back to where you came from!”

      Then one immigration ‘officer’ turns to another and says, “Why don’t people listen to politicians?” They are interrupted by an African man who says he has Ebola and can he come in to the UK. “Come on in, sir, we love our multculturalism”.

      I’ve just remember that a group of young American Christians (or maybe Canadians) who arrived at Heathrow (if memory serves!) to have a holiday while helping to restore a church here on a voluntary basis were sent back on the next available flight because they were supposed to have a work permit.

  14. mikef317 says:

    Frank, re Obamacare, beware of what you ask for – you might get it.

    As an American, I’ve been confused by the U. S. health care system throughout my life. I’m sure this will be apparent if you work through my too lengthy and too muddled text. The odds of me describing all of this correctly are zero.

    Ignoring life or death decisions, medical costs are I think something short of 20% of the U. S. economy. Play with this and you’re sure to step on lots of toes.

    There is medical insurance before and after Obamacare. The far right hate this law. The far left would love something like your National Health Service. (Socialized medicine!) Obamacare is somewhere in the middle. I won’t go into the vitriolic politics on this As far as I’m concerned, it’s an imperfect improvement – but an improvement, none-the-less.

    In the last presidential election, Mitt Romney pledged to repeal Obamacare. Many people agreed, but Romney lost the election, and right or wrong, despite 50 (?!) or so votes by the U. S. House of Representatives to repeal the law, it is still – like it or not – the law.

    =========================

    The bulk of insurance problems are with “middle class,” “working age” people getting insurance in the “free market” (from their employers or paying for it themselves).Before discussing this, I want to cover government insurance programs.

    MedicAID and MediCARE are the biggies. There’s also a totally separate (!) medical system (the Veteran’s Administration) for current or former members of the U. S. military. I won’t be discussing this! (See some of Harleyrider’s comments.)

    Medicaid is a “poverty” (low income) program. If you wash dishes in a restaurant, your employer almost certainly won’t offer health insurance, and you can’t afford to buy it. But you can apply to Medicaid for financial assistance. Good, but…. Suppose you work yourself up in the restaurant – from dishwasher to busser, waiter, Maître D’? You’re making more money – too much money to qualify for Medicaid – but not enough money to pay for health insurance on the free market. You lose your health insurance because you’re doing a good job. This is a topic I’ll skip. But it is obviously a problem.

    Medicare is a “retirement age” program. Normally you have to be 65 or 66 to be eligible. (Decades ago, Congress lengthened the age requirement for people born – I’m not going to look it up – after some specific year.)

    You also have to have paid “Medicare tax” for at least ten years. (Your employer deducts this from your salary.) I’m not sure, but I think this is a “life-long” tax deducted from all the paychecks you ever get. Even if your employer doesn’t offer health insurance, you pay the tax. This kind of makes sense – society needs a mechanism to finance health care costs for older people who require most of the care. Younger people pay Medicare tax all their lives, presumably for the benefits they will receive in old age.

    When you retire, you end employer (or self-paid) health insurance and switch to Medicare.

    This ain’t free. Medicare premiums (a reasonable sum) are deducted from your monthly social security check.

    Medicare pays for routine things like doctor visits and prescription drugs. It also covers expensive things like operations and hospital care.

    Given this, there’s still a catch with either “deductible” or “co-pay” amounts.

    Deductible means that for any given year you must pay the first few hundred dollars of your medical expenses. I can live with this but it’s another complication.

    My doctor charges $150.00 for a fifteen minute checkup. Insurance pays the bulk but I “co-pay” $15.00. (A reasonable sum in my mind.) But – my doctor doesn’t net $150.00. Medicare pays him what they think he deserves – say $85.00. Doctors consider this when they set their fees. (##@@!!##. Utterly nuts.)

    Prescription drugs can be an issue. Some cancer medications cost thousands of dollars a dose. Some people take a dozen pills in the morning, and another dozen in the evening. (Crazy!)

    Medicare doesn’t cover some routine things like dental work or eye exams / glasses. You need to buy supplemental insurance (available from the government) or pay the costs yourself.

    What I’ve said about Medicare pretty much applies to pre-retirement insurance where you get a policy from your employer or buy one out of your own pocket.

    =========================

    Prior to Obamacare, the “bulk” (half or more?) of the American population got health insurance provided by their employers. These people worked for large corporations (or federal, state, city governments). Employees paid something (10% ?) but employers picked up most (sometimes all) of the cost as a “fringe benefit.” Besides yourself, the insurance could cover a spouse and children. (For a working married couple the issue would be which person’s employer offered the best policy.) Since insurance is expensive, most people sensibly signed up for the benefit. If you opted out of insurance (maybe because you were covered by your spouse’s policy) you didn’t get more money in your paycheck – you got nothing. (Not so good for married people.)

    And what of the tens of millions of people who were self-employed or worked for a small company that didn’t offer insurance? They could buy insurance on the “free market.” Bad news!

    I spent my entire working life at corporations that offered insurance. Then I was forced into early retirement (downsizing). While employed, as an unmarried / childless person, I paid $340.00 a year for medical. (A quite reasonable sum, although year after year the cost increased while the benefits decreased.) When my employment terminated, I wasn’t old enough for Medicare, so I bought the EXACT SAME policy on the “free market” (from my ex-employer) AT TEN TIMES THE COST! (And that was – seriously – a bargain because I got to keep my existing policy. Anything else would have been much more expensive.)

    Bottom line, if you worked for a large corporation that offered health insurance you could get medical checkups, tests, and treatments at a price that most people could afford. But what if you’re one of the people who don’t have this “fringe” benefit? Suppose you need an operation? Would you have $50,000.00 or $100,000.00 in your bank account? I suspect not.

    AMERICA HAD A MAJOR PROBLEM BECAUSE TENS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE SIMPLY COULDN’T AFFORD TO BUY INSURANCE. Literally, they couldn’t afford to get sick.

    But those without insurance do get sick.

    They’re not left on the streets to die. Legally, hospitals have to admit and treat patients, at least for emergency care, regardless of their ability to pay.

    But hospitals know that some patients (many more than a few) just won’t have the money to pay their bills. Therefore hospitals boost the cost of ALL their services.

    Suppose I’m sharing a hospital room with Mr. Smith. I have health insurance but he does not. Both of us have headaches and we ask for two aspirins. We both get the pills. There are thousands of drugstores in New York City. The price of a SINGLE aspirin is (exaggerating) two cents. What does the hospital charge? Exaggerating, $10.00 or $20.00 a pill? The hospital knows it has paying (those with insurance) and non-paying (those without insurance) patients. It knows it’s probably not going to get money from the latter, so it boosts its cost to the former. Totally nuts, but somebody has to pay the hospital’s operating costs – those with health insurance. And, naturally, this increases the cost of insurance.

    Not that those without health insurance are off the hook. Hospitals bill them, using their highly inflated prices. And even “non-inflated” medical prices are expensive. Call for an ambulance in New York City. You get quick (and quite good) service from your home to the hospital. You also get a bill for $900.00. (If you have insurance, you might have to pay $ 100.00 – a manageable sum for most people. Without insurance you owe the full amount.)

    Here we get into bankruptcy for the non-insured. If you can’t afford to buy medical insurance, what do you do when you get hit with a 10 or 20 thousand dollar hospital bill? With insurance, maybe you’d have to pay a thousand or two thousand dollars, and maybe, so much a month, that could be managed – but without insurance the manageable possibility is not an option. You get hit with the entire cost.

    Hospitals send you bills. So do doctors that treat you. (If a doctor looks at you for 10 seconds, you’ll get a bill, and in a hospital you’re examined by lots of doctors.) All expect their bills to be paid. They keep dunning you. They hire collection agencies. And, eventually, there will be lawsuits. (If you’re tens of thousands of dollars in debt, can you pay a lawyer?) Unpaid medical bills are one of the major reasons that Americans declare bankruptcy.

    Most people without insurance simply can’t pay. They don’t have a doctor, and don’t get periodic checkups. If they get seriously ill, they go to a local hospital’s emergency room and take whatever treatment they’re given. They are, literally I’d say, second class citizens.

    Obamacare is an attempt to provide affordable insurance to more people so they can get whatever medical treatment they need. It will probably take a decade to see if this works, but I’d call it a step in the right direction.

    =========================

    Frank, I’ve stated before that most of your U. S. commenters are right wing. (How far right depends on specific individuals.) I’m a bit to the left – three blocks, not three miles. Despite Obama’s crazy Democratic ideas about smoking and global warming, I twice voted for him and contributed several thousand dollars (a first, and a non-trivial sum for me) to his election campaigns. Overall, I’d rate Obama as the best President since Eisenhower. (A statement that will drive anyone on the right totally nuts.)

    It is often said that God protects fools, children, and the United States of America. John McCain, Mitt Romney, or Barak Obama? I think Americans came to a fork in the road of history. Right or left? Americans chose Obama, and that will determine our future for many decades. I’d say Obama offered a better future than McCain or Romney, but regardless of my opinion, for now, like it or not, it is the course the nation has chosen.

    =========================

    On to Republican objections to Obamacare. Here are three.

    The law forces everyone to buy health insurance. This is an infringement on liberty. Quite true. If you drive a car in the U. S. you must buy accident insurance. You can be the safest driver in the world; maybe you’ll never have an accident – it doesn’t matter – you still have to buy insurance. In the UK you pay taxes, and some amount goes to the NHS; maybe you’ll never, ever get sick, but you still have to pay the tax (much like the U. S. Medicare tax). I’m not in favor of restricting people’s liberties, but – buy the damn insurance, pay the damn tax – I’m prepared to restrict your liberty for these specific cases. (Hell, get quarantined if you might have Ebola.)

    Healthy young people are forced to pay medical expenses for sick old people. A transfer of wealth. Again, quite true. There will be inequality at the start of any system. But today’s youngsters will become tomorrow’s elderly, and the youngsters of tomorrow will finance the elderly’s health care. This happened when the U. S. started Social Security. Older people got checks without ever having paid as much as a penny into the system. Younger people paid for their benefits. I assume the same thing happened when the UK started NHS. Intellectually I recognize unequal costs and benefits. In time, this should even out, but at the start, some people will be winners, and some losers, picked by the law. Not fair. But unavoidable?

    You can’t always keep your doctor. Semi-true, but this was always true. Assume insurance companies X, Y, and Z. Doctors (and hospitals) can sign contracts and become “in network” providers. (They agree to charge what the insurance company says they can charge for a specific procedure.) Those who don’t sign contracts are “out-of-network;” they can charge whatever they want. Your employer will offer an insurance policy from ONE of the three companies. If your doctor is “in network” you’re ok. You could see an out-of-network provider but there would be a financial penalty. (Most doctors, I think, signed with large insurers; I don’t recall this as being much of a problem, but maybe things have changed.)

    =========================

    Frank, do you have a doctor that you visit periodically? I do. He believes in “minimally evasive” therapy. He knows I smoke (and drink) but has never lectured me. I’m well aware of the problems of modern medicine, but there’s much I don’t know that my doctor does know, and given a life or death decision, I’d consider his advice most seriously.

    Some musings about U. S. medicine, because you asked. As stated, just things to think about. Maybe more than you wanted.

    At any rate, good night from New York.

    • carol2000 says:

      You did ok until you got to how health care for people without health insurance is paid for. Then you regurgitated a blob of ObamaLies. (Also some important details about Medicare. Part A, which covers hospital bills, is free. Part B costs a little over $100 a month for average people, and covers some doctor visits but only drugs that are normally administered in doctors’ offices. For those, you need either a Part B supplemental policy, which is the usual “free market bs but must conform to Medicare rules, or else a Part D drug plan.)

      As for the ObamaLies about the uninsured: NO, their costs were NOT paid for by hospitals raising their rates, OR by the health insurance companies! On doc page 50 of Covering the Uninsured in 2008: A Detailed Examination of Current Costs and Sources of Payment, and Incremental Costs of Expanding Coverage (Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, Aug. 2008), “the uninsured paid $30 billion out-of-pocket for their care, leaving a balance of $54.3 billion in care that was paid for by other sources. The analysis of governments’ and providers’ budgets produced a very similar estimate of $57.4 billion spent on uncompensated care, of which $42.9 billion came from government sources in the form of care provided by public hospitals and clinics, and payments to private providers, both direct (VHA, maternal and child health, Indian Health Service) and indirect (DSH, IME, UPL). Based on these estimates, government payments account for about 75% of the costs of uncompensated care.”
      http://www.kff.org/uninsured/upload/7809.pdf
      KFF also explains that the similar Families USA claim of a “Hidden Health Tax” of $1000 per insured family ignored many of those sources of payment. In other words, Families USA lied. And the Obama administration brief to the Supreme Court cited that bogus Families USA “study” and that false claim. It also the fact that the health insurance companies all negotiate lower rates for themselves!

      As for who are the “free riders:” Exclusion of the cost of employer-paid health from the federal income tax cost the government $246 billion in lost revenue in 2007. $246B / 156 million people with private insurance = $1576 subsidy, while the $57 billion in uncompensated costs / 50 million uninsured people = $1140 each. It’s the largest tax subsidy in the entire tax code, and it primarily benefits the wealthiest! “Although the tax exclusion provides a big boost to employer-sponsored health coverage, it is poorly targeted. It gives the greatest benefit to those with the highest incomes, although they are the group that least needs help paying for health insurance. The 24 per­cent of tax units with incomes over $75,000 in 2004 received almost half of the benefits of the exclusion, while the 27 per­cent of tax units with incomes under $20,000 received just 6 percent of the benefits.” (Limiting the Tax Exclusion for Employer-Sponsored Insurance Can Help Pay for Health Reform. By Paul N. Van de Water. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Jun. 4, 2009.) In 2011, among adults aged 18 and older, 70.4% of those earning over $90,000 per year had employer-based health insurance, while only 23.6% of those earning less than $36,000 did. (Fewer Americans Have Employer-Based Health Insurance. By Elizabeth Mendes. Gallup Wellbeing, Feb. 14, 2012.)

      And that’s crap about “bankruptcy for the uninsured.” Uninsured people have no assets to distribute, thus it would be a waste of time. Uninsured people can’t afford lawyers’ bills or even filing fees! When they have no money, they simply get evicted and go homeless. That crap about bankruptcy is designed to pander to the anxieties of the well-to-do. They want to be protected against losing their stocks and bonds and 401ks and investment properties.

      The bottom line is that it would only have been necessary to expand existing government programs to cover more people who can’t afford health insurance, instead of violating our Constitutional rights by forcing people to buy private health insurance. It would also have been less expensive than for the government subsidize the ridiculous health insurance premiums – the average premium subsidy in 2014 is expected to be $5,290, rising to $7,900 in 2023 (CBO 2013)! To top it all off, the formerly uninsured will still be expected to pay deductibles and co-pays out of pocket, which makes it just as unaffordable for them as when they didn’t have health insurance. And this proves that ObamaCare is NOT about ‘the government taking over our health care;’ it’s about the health insurance companies making us their slaves at the point of the government’s gun.

      And once they’ve accomplished that, their allies, the HEALTH FASCISTS, step in and start dictating our personal lifestyles, based on decrees coming down from the US Department of Health and Human Services. And did you miss the part where ObamaCare encourages the private health insurance companies to charge 30% higher premiums for smokers? The bottom line is that only those who swallowed a massive pile of ObamaLies think that “Obamacare is an attempt to provide affordable insurance to more people so they can get whatever medical treatment they need.”

      • carol2000 says:

        And those “Republican objections to Obamacare” prove that they’re nothing but Obama’s accomplices. They’re just as much in the pockets of the health insurance companies and the health fascists as the Democrats. That equation of health insurance with automobile liability insurance is pure dripping bogus – car insurance is to cover LIABILITY FOR INJURIES TO OTHERS, not auto repairs! And that crap about keeping your doctor is just recycled from an ancient controversy over Medicare – only the old coots care about that. And it’s ridiculous anyway, because private health insurance companies routinely change provider networks.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Frank, do you have a doctor that you visit periodically? I do. He believes in “minimally evasive” therapy. He knows I smoke (and drink) but has never lectured me. I’m well aware of the problems of modern medicine, but there’s much I don’t know that my doctor does know, and given a life or death decision, I’d consider his advice most seriously.

      Do you mean “minimally invasive”? I’m not sure what an “evasive” therapy might be, other than one that avoids doing anything.

      Anyway, no, I don’t have a doctor that I visit periodically. I used to always have a doctor, whom I periodically visited, usually to get sleeping tablets. But when the senior-doctor-demanded UK smoking ban was introduced, I stopped visiting, and switched to whisky to send me to sleep. I felt that the medical profession as a whole had become my enemy, and they now saw it as their job to make people stop smoking, drinking, eating (although my last doctor did no such thing). I felt that the terms of the relationship had changed, and I didn’t like it.

      Of course, if I get sick, I can always head to a hospital casualty. I’m not outside the NHS. I just keep clear of it.

      I never had any reason to think ill of the UK NHS (partly because I wasn’t really using it), but I’ve begun to think that state medicine of this sort has a tendency to become totalitarian in nature, in ways that private medicine can’t (or which it is harder for it to do). For as long as people can pick and choose doctors, shopping around for ones they like/trust, the customer is king. But when people aren’t customers who can take their custom elsewhere, doctors will no longer compete, and they become a bureaucracy that does the Department of Health’s bidding, and you get top-down totalitarianism. I’m just surprised that it took 60 years for the NHS to go that way.

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