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Sunday, August 09, 2009



You seem to have a liberal interpretation of how economists views of cost-benefit analysis are applied to regulatory agencies. It's not about putting a number on the value of human life. You can ref articles that came out when the EPA under Bush dropped their number for the value of a statistical life. These values are typically based on what people are willing to pay to avoid certain risks. In the case of the elderly, they often have different numbers in mind than youth. For example, this group is less likely to want to spend more to reduce an environmental risk when it will take more than 20 years for symptoms to develop. I take it from your entry that you favor traditional cost-benefit analysis. So despite that current proposals would benefit the health of far more people than the current system, it must be too costly. Why don't you tell us the appropriate price we should put on covering the uninsured, underinsured, job-changers, and those with pre-existing conditions? It strikes me as odd that Obama is being accused of devaluing life when his goal is to provide health insurance to more people than congressional republicans are willing to give. Or is it not really about utilitarianism?


Sunstein is not an economist but a law professor who taught at the University of Chicago Law School when Obama was a lecturer there. He left in '08 to teach law at Harvard and to marry Samantha Powers, who is on Obama's National Security Council. You may remember Powers from the primary campaign when as a foreign policy advisor for Obama she called Hillary Clinton a "monster" and had to resign from Obama's campaign.

If you really want something to make you not sleep at night, check out Sunstein's book "The Second Bill of Rights: FDR'S Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever". Under FDR's 2nd bill of rights not only is health care a fundamental Constitutional right but so is a house, a job, and an education. Sunstein holds that all "rights" are grants from the state including inherent rights such as Free Speech. Kind of an odd position for a constitutional law professor don't you think? He also believes that animals have rights and should be able "to bring suit, with human beings as their representatives, to prevent violations of current law". He believes the 2nd Amendment really doesn't cover a right of an individual to own a gun and that hunting violates animal rights. Also do some reading on his theory of “paternal libertarianism” to really tie your brain in knots.

If Sunstein had been a hispanic woman he would sitting on the Supreme Court now instead os Sotomayor. Look to see his name in play with the next vacant seat. This is a very, very dangerous man.


donCoyote: Thank you very much for weighing in. I will have to check out Sunstein's book.

I am not concerned as much with calculations or methods as I am with values.
Sunstein quite clearly says that he favors systems that save the youth, rather than the elderly. That is ageism.

Suppose we substituted age for race. Suppose Sunstein had said that he favored a healthcare system that favored blacks over whites because blacks contributed more to the welfare of the general public. I believe there would be an outcry. It would be more than justified. I think what Sunstein suggests is similarly shameful.

I know that the idea of everyone having healthcare is attractive but I'm not
sure it would be worth sacrificing equality, justice and respect for human life for.


FS: I have not forgotten that thread and will respond to it in good time. Believe it or not, I sometimes take some time to think before I speak.


I don't. =)

I've responded to other threads of yours, in good time too, that have been forgotten.


And regarding this post... =) (I posted this before, but it was on the end of a dead thread, I saw Ken read this article, or at least part of it, did you Miranda?)


Health care is currently rationed and will always be rationed. We'll never pay for a 50 trillion dollar treatment, for example, but were someone to have 50 trillion dollars personally, they might purchase that treatment to save their own life. Right now the rationing is based on how much money/insurance you have.

Well, when everyone has health insurance and we have a finite amount of resources we would do well to define where the cut off is for various treatments. As explained in this particular article, a treatment that saves a 90 year old for 1 year and equally saves a 9 year old for 50 years should not be treated equally. In this sense we have to define our value on life at different ages since we MUST put value on human life. Right now we have no system to do it, poor people die, wealthy live. That's not palatable for anyone with any semblance of a conscience.


FS: I read your article and am still not convinced.
I also read your argument and it is wrong.

Our current system is not the way you describe it. Often, poor people have more
coverage than those who earn higher salaries, because poor people qualify for medicaid, medicare and other, state-run programs like medi-cal.

The other parts of your argument make sense at first glance, but that is because you are
combining age and years of survival and leaving out other important factors.

Suppose the same treatment that could save a twenty-year-old for ten years could also save a sixty-year-old for ten. Suppose further that the sixty-year-old was supporting a spouse, a son and his son's family. Suppose the twenty-year-old is single and selfish.
Is is still right to let the sixty-year old die? Maybe not.

I don't think that's any more palatable than letting poor people die, while rich people live.


Saving anyone for 10 years is saving someone for 10 years. If it costs the same amount to save the 20 year old and the 60 year old, both for 10 years, I can't see any reason why they shouldn't be treated equally. No one is suggesting making calls on whether someone should be treated by their dependents, tax revenue, education, societal merit (in the sense of those types of measurements). I really do think it's a discussion about defining the worth of a treatment for the individual and for a population (because policies are developed for populations, not individuals). We need to develop metrics to do this, it is a matter of necessity.



They're talking to you, Miranda.


I'm sure you're right, FascistSocialist, but there isn't any reason I can't post links
to articles written by Sunstein and Emanuel and offer my opinion of them. And your side is just as guilty of "fearmongering."

Calling protesters Nazis and evil-mongers is just as bad, if not moreso. My questions and comments are based on the words of Sunstein and Emanuel. Reid, Pelosi and a lot of your counterparts are just slinging insults.


Basically what you're saying here is "If you're going to act like a fear-monger then so am I!". Well, I am not acting like a fear-monger personally, but you are. [And yes, that makes me better than you] The point that that article is making is that what you've been saying all along about Emanuel is simply false, not only is it simply false, it's also fucking sick. I'll grant you that you're ignorant and that's the reason you've been making the statements you have rather than accusing you of having some sick racist sense of irony.

Maybe the solution here is to learn something about the subject you want to talk about before you talk about it: like reading Emanuel's works before commenting on a single quote you saw taken out of context in some nut job's blog or opinion piece.


Except that it isn't false, Fascist Socialist. He wrote what he wrote, and even in context
it shows that he favors saving younger people over older people. None of you have denied that.
I'm not really sure how you think race plays into this issue, but you're free to hurl unfounded insults about if you wish.


"quoting him, for instance, endorsing age discrimination for health-care distribution, without mentioning that he was only addressing extreme cases like organ donation where there is an absolute scarcity of resources."



Oh, great, superior being, please enlighten me on how race figures into this subject.
What is interesting is that the author of the post you link to clearly thinks
that age discrimination in healthcare distribution is a bad thing. And you say that the fact I accuse him of it is "sick." But in an earlier comment, you indicate that you feel this sort of discrimination is necessary. You excuse Sunstein's comments about rationing by saying that "We MUST put a value on human life." If age discrimination in healthcare is really just fine, then calling me sick for suggesting that someone is guilty of it doesn't make any sense.

Could it be that you really don't think that it is acceptable?


What is sick is that you compare Emanuel to those that perpetrated the holocaust while his family are themselves survivors of that tragedy. That is what is sick.

I'm not excusing anyone ones comments on anything, I certainly would not take a comment you quoted as meaning whatever meaning you've attributed to it since I know you to be either intellectually dishonest or at the very best uninformed.

Separately from commenting on how sick it is to accuse a holocaust survivor of being a Nazi, I'm saying that you accusing Emanuel of supporting euthanasia for old people, rationing of care based exclusively on age, etc is just ignorant of the man's opinions. You are cherry picking phrases from nut-job blogs and unreliable sources and extrapolating meaning and positions that are simply not reality.

That is why you are a moron. You inability to understand English is another reason.

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