Apparently, I’m a Communist

My excuse for not finding this earlier is that at the time, I didn’t notice the comments to the post, or possibly read the post before there were comments. Apparently, a commenter of Timothy Shortell’s took exception to my welfare post, and felt the need to start a longwinded rant about the government taking his money.

Welfare is basically a collection of money transfer programs from the government to people the government deems to need assistance.

Apparently this communist thinks all wealth belongs to the government. The above should read, “Welfare is basically a collection of money transfer programs from the productive citizens hard work to people the government deems to need assistance. This money, taken by force with the threat of imprisonment or great bodily harm is then transferred to the group of individuals in this country who refuse to provide for themselves, continue to make poor decisions and demand financial equality. Government uses this stolen money to purchase votes from society’s dead weight, thus ensuring its continued growth and power.”

At this point, 50% of U.S. citizens pay absolutely no federal income taxes. This rate will continues to increase as politicians use these large numbers to turn wealth envy into political gold by promising to punish the wealthy and reward those with the open hands. Soon my long lost relative, Timmy here, will have his idea of socialist utopia and the US will look more like Europe with enormous unemployment rates, a bloated welfare system, and now, the rapid transformation of a once secular society into an Islamo-fascist insane asylum where Sharia law will usurp their already nutty legal system.

Perhaps Aloon should seek a profession that is in demand enough to pay him enough to afford better insurance, or (GOD FORBID!) to pay for his own MRI. I would bet that a quick examination of his purchases for that past year or so would reveal expenditures that could have been curtailed in order to provide that $1000 needed for his MRI. Or perhaps he (or she. I don’t know who this whack job is) could solicit donations from his/her readers before wishing for Uncle Sam to put a gun to my temple and rob me of my hard earned money.

First, a quick political rundown: anyone who’s stupid enough to think anyone with a functioning brain would rather go through the humiliation that is TANF than work should be barred from posting comments on blogs; meanwhile, Sweden, which has non-humiliating welfare, has marginally more unemployment than the US, and Denmark and Norway have less.

Besides, so much of an individual’s income comes from government assistance such as public education, roads, and various and sundry policies that increase income mobility that anyone who’s clueless enough to make a moral “It’s my money” argument should be deported to Namibia and made to live on an income equal to the Namibian percentile corresponding to his country’s percentile.

Oh, and since single-payer systems spend less on health care than the US, a “bloated socialist system” for health care won’t increase his taxes by a cent, create any additional deficit, lengthen waits for procedures, or restrict his choice of doctors. He’ll only become worse off if he works for a health insurance company or is a redundant health care bureaucrat, in which case he should seek an alternative job that doesn’t require the economy to be grossly inefficient to sustain.

Now, a personal breakdown: it’s hard to underestimate the amount of money I spend that isn’t on food, rent, or travel. It’s there, but I don’t buy clothes, I download my movies (if you think it’s stealing, you already want the government to enforce things you support on pain of imprisonment or serious bodily harm), and I usually don’t care enough about owning things to spend money on them.

Okay, I travel. I realize that in the libertarian utopia, the poor barely have money to eat, let alone see any place other than their own neighborhood, but see my above comment about deporting people to Namibia. But even then, a lot of my travel expenditures are for my Metrocard, which pays for a subway system that wouldn’t even be up if libertarians had their way (note, by the way, that the set libertarians doesn’t equal the set of rich people; Upper East Siders use the subway just like everyone else).

And, on top of everything, I have to pay taxes. The 50% figure is a lie. Even if it weren’t, it wouldn’t apply to me, because not being even a permanent resident of the US, I can’t take advantage of a lot of deductions. I have 14% of my income withheld in income taxes, and on top of that I pay an 8.375% sales tax on everything I buy, which works out to paying about 20% of my income in taxes. As a percentage of disposable income it’s a lot higher; going by even the national poverty rate, which barely covers my rent, I pay 40% of my income to the government. Counting health insurance as income, it goes down to about 33%.

Actually, since health care is about 23% of government spending in the US, counting both my insurance premium and taxes means I pay almost $3,000 per year for health care, in a system that discriminates in pricing based on criteria that depress my premiums to the minimum possible. I’d pay less if I were Canadian, and get better health care even if the American myth that Canada has prolonged waits for everything were true.

On the other hand, I still have a few hundred Euros I haven’t converted into dollars. If the US keeps cutting taxes on the rich and fighting wars of aggression, it’ll depress the dollar so much I’ll be able to live off the interest my Euros will pay me.

10 Responses to Apparently, I’m a Communist

  1. Justin says:

    In the current US system, the taxpayer pays the medical expenses when one cannot afford them anyways.

    The ironic part is that under the current system, the US taxpayer not only pays for the medical treatment, but also the profit of non-state ran facilities.

    The other ironic part is that whilst the middle class libertarian complainer pays for his or her own private medical insurance and expenses, his and her taxes also goto more medical expenses for others who cannot pay. So, they essentially pay for their medical dealings, their medical providers profits, the disadvantaged peoples medical expenses, and the profits atop of those.

    Why not just single payer?

  2. Alon Levy says:

    Why not just single payer?

    Because Aetna pays millions in bribes lobbying to members of Congress to avoid going out of business.

    That, and any reform idea has to convince the people that the system is broken, and, in this case, that other countries are doing better. Lately it’s gotten so bad that more Americans think that Canadian health care is better than that it’s worse, but too many people think that waits in Canada are worse than in the US or know nothing of the French or Swedish version of single-payer health care. Ultimately, it boils down to the Democrats’ being too scared to throw 10 million dollars on an ad campaign, “If American health care costs went down to French levels, we’d save $900 billion dollars every year.”

  3. Anti Statist says:

    The statist believes the government is entitled to take everything it wants from you.

    And when the draft is instituted, they will take my children.

    I soon will have nothing.

    Whats the point?

  4. SLC says:

    Mr. Levy has argued long an loudly about the cost of health care in the US, and rightly so. However, I think he has ignored one major contribution to the cost, namely the legal system. There are at least two contributions the legal system makes to increased costs.

    1. Medical malpractice suits cause the cost of malpractice insurance to rise, regardless of whether the plaintiffs win or lose. In some areas of the US and in some specialities, doctors have stopped practicing because of the cost of medical liability insurance.

    2. The threat of malpractice suits causes physicians to practice defensive medicine in that they order expensive tests (i.e. CAT scans and MRIs) which are often unnecessary and do not provide useful information on a particular condition. They do this to protect themselves in case they are sued. One can only imagine the plaintiffs attorney asking the following question during a deposition, “you mean you didn’t order an MRI for my client!” A perfect example of this type of abuse is the Terry Schiavo case in Florida where it was clear that Ms. Schiavo was in a Persistant Vegatative State based on several flat EKGs. Despite this incontrovertable evidence, she was subjected to an MRI and several CAT scans and it was even suggested that she undergo a PET scan, even though the nearest facility offering this latter diagnostic technique was in New York City! The latter three procedures added nothing tothe evidence from the EKG results.

  5. gordo says:


    Exactly what percentage of our health care dollars are eaten up, directly and indirectly, by the legal system? Not much. Certainly not as much as we’d save by converting to a single payer system.

    And what is your alternative? Tell the victims of malpractice, “tough shit”?

  6. SLC says:

    Re Mr. Packard

    I don’t have exact figures as to what percentage of the total medical expenditures are expended directly or indirectly due to the legal system. However, in this area, the liability charges for some specialties (if a physician can even get liability insurance; many of the insurance companies no longer offer it) can run in excess of $100,000/year.One of the major problem is that lawyers fees can amount to 40% of awards. I would suggest that the tort system of other countries with single payer systems (i.e. Canada, Great Britain)be investigated to see how they operate. It is my impression that it’s much harder to sue in those places. There are other ways to handle malpractice cases other then torts such as panels of physicians etc. How do the single payer systems handle it?

  7. Alon Levy says:

    A long while ago, I looked the figures up on Wikipedia, which quoted a pro-tort reform group as saying that malpractice lawsuits and the overcautious treatments they promote cost the US $50 billion a year. This contrasts with a saving of $150 under Wyden’s plan and $900 under single-payer.

  8. Bushbaptist says:

    Well Alon – you “pinko Communist” ;)) Here’s a note from the dreamy South Pacific.
    We have a health system similar to Canada, yes, there are waiting times but if one has a life-threatening condition treatment is available straight away.
    The top tax rate here is 38% and one has to be earning (?) $160K to be paying that. Yet we have our share of Rightie Whingers too.
    The very basic benefit here is $150 per week for an adult and $110 for some-one under 20yrs. There are many allowances that are additional according to one’s circumstances. And most beneficiaries would be getting more than $150/weekly.
    As a War Pensioner, I get all my doctors visits free and my prescriptions too. I get two dental visits a year free as well. I’ll never get rich on my pension but it is adequate to meet the needs of my wife and I.
    Our health system sometimes staggers under the load but usually keeps chugging along.
    We have an Accident Compensation that covers everything that may perforce to happen, from accidents in the home, at work and even if one is playing sports. It also includes medical malpractice and mistakes (doctors are human and make mistakes). This stops that crazy sue system you have there where only bloody lawyers get rich and the cost of which becomes a further burden on taxpayers. The ACC has been in place now for 45yrs.

  9. Ah, Alon, I see that you’ve met one of my reactionary relatives. Now you can understand what extended family gatherings are like for me.

    Good work on the reply. Most of the fuel that powers this kind of reactionary rant is resentment. It is part of the genius of democratic politics under capitalism that so many people can be convinced to identify with policies designed to protect the wealth of the capitalist class. National health policy is a case in point. Even with health insurance most of us are not particularly well served by the current health system.

    Tax policy, of course, is another important example. Think of how many people there are, like my crazy uncle, without a substantial estate, who rail on and on about the “death tax.” Or without any capital gains to speak of who rally around the cause of a capital gains tax cut.

  10. Alon Levy says:

    I can understand and even sympathize. Last Seder, I had to argue with family members with serious misgivings with the concept of civil liberties, to say nothing of Palestinian self-determination.

    It’s always the case that activists with money can convince large numbers of people to support policies that hurt them personally. But in many cases, it’s more a problem of political inertia, which is plaguing the Democratic Party, than of people supporting policies that go against their class interests.

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