Man, that’s not fair…..or is it?!?!
SHOW NOTES FROM EPISODE 3
I think the evolutionary desire for socialism that Robb mentioned has roots in our desire for immortality and fear of death. On the primal level, no one (or very few) wish to die. In that same vein, we also know that if we aren’t able to provide sufficiently for ourselves, that’s our inevitable outcome. Socialism may be borne out of the collective fear that ‘gee if I ever fall on ridiculously hard times financially, physically, etc, then I sure hope I could catch a break to stay alive.’
There’s an excellent award winning documentary available on Hulu that delves deeply into this topic:
Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality (2005)
Narrated by Gabriel Byrne (Usual Suspects, Vanity Fair, Miller’s Crossing), this seven-time Best Documentary award-winning film (Silver Lake Film Festival, Beverly Hills Film Festival) is the most comprehensive and mind-blowing investigation of humankind’s relationship with death ever captured on film. Hailed by many viewers as a “life-transformational film,” Flight from Death uncovers death anxiety as a possible root cause of many of our behaviors on a psychological, spiritual, and cultural level.
Also, The Ascent of Money mentioned by Robb was adapted into a documentary and is the available for streaming from PBS:
Episodes 1-4 plus a 2 hour feature:
2 Hour Feature
Great stuff Marc! Thanks for sharing and listening!
Woohoo! Thanks, Marc.
The confusion about the idea of ‘fairness’ arises from, I believe, the difference between fairness in the context of opportunity vs fairness in the context of outcome. Let’s say your softball team creams mine bc of better ability. That’s ok. But if your team is cheating and getting away w it (and mine is punished for even attempting to cheat) that’s not fair. The problem arises when we automatically assume differences in outcome is based on cheating, like men earning more than women.
It is the year 2081. Because of Amendments 211, 212, and 213 to the Constitution, every American is fully equal, meaning that no one is smarter, better-looking, stronger, or faster than anyone else. The Handicapper General and a team of agents ensure that the laws of equality are enforced. The government forces citizens to wear “handicaps” (i.e. – a mask if they are too handsome or beautiful, earphones with deafening radio signals to make intelligent people unable to concentrate and form thoughts, and heavy weights to slow down the too strong or fast).
Sonny! thanks for listening and sharing. Yes, fairness is a crazy topic and hopefully few people cheat. The problem, as I see it, there aren’t severe enough consequences for those who do cheat which makes onlookers feel like things “aren’t fair.”
You should get Liberatarian Andrew Horning on the show he’s awesome. Andrew has run for Senator, Gonvernor, Mayor and is running again for U.S. Senate.
Heidi….we will check him out and see if we can get him on the show! Thanks!
Singapore (aka S’pore): First, although I provided a bunch of links in the episode #2 comments describing the economic & legal aspects of the S’pore health-care/health-insurance system; I have never been there.
Second, several of my Occidental College classmates did the expat in S’pore thing, speaking highly of it. What is/was not made screamingly obvious from the prior links, in the episode #2 comments, is that the S’pore system is gov’t forced _S-A-V-I-N-G_ for your own personal healthcare, unemployment and retirement. In S’pore you _O-W-N_ the gov’t bonds that you are forced to purchase.
On death, you can pass those gov’t bonds to your heirs’ healthcare, unemployment and retirement accounts.
S’pore System vs USA System:
It bears reminding that in the USA, you don’t _O-W-N_ either your social security contributions or your medicare contributions or the unemployment contributions, rather the payout is on the whim of the US Congress (Q: Is this fair?).
Furthermore, those who pay into USA social security & medicare may die before they ever collect a penny, leaving their heirs with nothing (Q: Is this fair?). Even more unfair (or is it fair?), in the USA, black males typically die before they can collect Social Security. When those black males die younger than Asian women, the black male heirs get nothing, because those black males did not _O-W-N_ what they were forced to contribute. This would then be a wealth transfer from black males to asian women (Q: Is this fair?).
Here’s a PubMed article describing the racial differences between age at death “Eight Americas: Investigating Mortality Disparities across Races, Counties, and Race-Counties in the United States” http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030260
In closing, I strongly recommend taking a business trip (vacation?) to S’pore during the winter. It’s right on the equator, good seafood, at least two Crossfit boxes, probably a bunch of other gyms, thinking you would at least break even from a paleo seminar fee perspective. Better still if you tack on an Aussie/Kiwi leg of the trip. Then you would really break even.
LUKE…great idea on taking a business trip to Singapore….I am sure Robb can put it on his AMEX and we should be good to go….thanks Robb for taking me and Luke!
I feel silly posting this in light of the much more intelligent responses posted by others, but I just wanted to let you guys know (Dave and Robb) that you’ve kinda lit a fire under me. Your “winning the lottery” thing really spoke to me — I’m white, middle class, born and raised in America. What the hell more could I possibly ask for in terms of privilege, advantage, or a leg up?
I’ve wasted a LOT of time in the last few years — in and out of jobs I was overqualified for b/c I didn’t know what I wanted to do, generally feeling miserable, and getting way too stuck in the “woe is me” mindset. I recently read a book by Christopher Reeve, written long after his accident. He was describing all the things he was doing at the time — writing, directing, producing. This man was a quadri-freaking-plegic, and he accomplished more from his wheelchair than I even *think* about doing while perfectly able-bodied. Talk about a reality check.
I’ve been to Vegas a couple of times and don’t live too far from A.C. I don’t usually have good luck there, but it’s occurred to me through the years that *of course* I don’t have good luck. I’ve *already* hit the jackpot. When I look at my parents, the way I was raised, my intellect, my talents, jeez…yeah, there’s a reason money hasn’t fallen out of the sky into my hands. I already have it pretty damn good.
And I certainly don’t expect money to fall into my hands, but I did want to thank you for pushing me toward *earning* more of it. I have a day job that I despise but just finished a master’s in nutrition. I’m gonna try to build my business on the side, and I’ve been dragging my feet b/c I’m slightly terrified. I know nothing about making a website or navigating the tax/legal issues in setting up a small business. But there are total morons out there doing just fine, y’know? People who know *way* less about this stuff than I do manage to get clients and make a living, so what am I waiting for?
It’s like the reverse of what Frank Sinatra sang: if I can’t make it here, I can’t make it anywhere. Except we’re talking about America, not just New York. If a smart, able-bodied, hardworking youngish person can’t make a living in America, then either something’s wrong with me, or something’s wrong with the system.
I’ll let you know if I feel like things are “fair” after I’ve been at it a while, hehheh.
Go get ’em Amy! The past doesn’t matter…all that matters is what you do today. Make it happen and let us know if we can help! Just move forward without fear (or at least try not to give into it) and you will be amazed with what happens. Thanks for listening!
This episode reminded me of a great clip from the Louis C.K. TV show where he tries to explain fairness to his 3 year old daughter.
Great clip Patrick….everyone should wee this clip!
7 comments so far! That means that you guys have one more listener then the Paleo Podcast! Seriously, I love this podcast. Im currently in debt around 7K and have been working for a while to shrink and eliminate that debt. I’ve never owned a home and have alot of people telling me that NOW is the time to buy a home. I have no money to put down but again, people are telling me that there are great first home buyer programs out there that I could apply for and would have a pretty good mortgage. I do believe that we will see some pretty terrible economic times coming and would like some advice on how to prepare and if buying a home in my situation is really dumb. I’m married and have two kids and want to be as prepared as possible.
Steve! Thanks for sharing with us. I have a lot of thoughts about this but it depends on what area of the country you are thinking about buying. In my opinion, the best program in America for buying a home is http://www.NACA.com Check it out and see if it is your area. It is NOT a gov’t program and works great….even though it might take some time to get qualified, its worth it!
Thanks for the feedback! I’ll look into it.
David, I gotta ask – Do I want to “own” a home and have a mortgage if the economy really tanks or am I better off renting? Is this something that you cover in your book? Thanks again for your feedback.
Hi Steve….where do you live? Real estate is such a “local” investment that a lot of it depends on your market. But overall, yes, it makes sense to “buy low” as most areas it is less expensive to buy than to rent at this point and that won’t last forever. Plus, we all need shelter…just make sure to get a good deal and if you are willing to do some work yourself consider a foreclosure! There are GREAT deals out ther. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/buying-a-home-cheaper-than-renting_n_1372855.html
NACA follows in ACORN’s footsteps.
Details here … http://www.humanevents.com/2009/04/23/naca-imitates-acorns-brutal-shakedown-tactics/
Instead of going through an organization (i.e. NACA) that will beat up a bank and its employees for a mortgage you don’t deserve, how about save up for a 20% down-payment, 30-year fixed loan (just like the WW2 generation), prove your income can cover the monthly payments, prove you have a six-month emergency fund, and stop whining for handouts/favors/exceptions/etc
I fundamentally believe in equality of opportunity as an ideal to strive for in a capitalist, democratic society such as our own and that is where I tend to disagree with the libertarian point of view. Robb, you may have managed to succeed despite a disadvantaged background, but if you look at the statistics it is clear that you have to be a major outlier/naturally gifted or naturally highly motivated to work your way out of poverty in the USA. Maybe your constant self-deprecation makes it hard for you to realize that you are quite the outlier. I don’t give a rat’s ass about adults because it’s usually too late to help adults much, but I think we should strive to give children an equal shot at success while keeping as much freedom as possible. It doesn’t take much knowledge about developmental neuroscience and developmental psychology to realize that kids are drastically affected by their upbringing (including feeding and watering-see WAP and Evolutionary Psychiatry blog). I could write pages about how being raised in poverty can screw you up in major ways and if you want more info I’m down for sharing, but I feel like it’s a given. Because there are outliers doesn’t mean we should ignore the mean and assume that everyone else should have achieved what the outliers achieved if only they worked harder/cared more/were more motivated! No matter how hard I work I would never be an Olympic caliber runner because I’m just not genetically gifted in that way.
Why should we care about equality of opportunity? We are basically not allowing a large portion of our population to contribute substantially to building wealth in our country. I think it makes economic sense to make sure everyone has a chance to succeed if they are willing to put in the work. How many more entrepreneurs would we have? Also, if people are all going to vote we may as well make sure everyone gets a decent education and can think for themselves. Additionally, how can anyone with an advantaged background (like myself, white, middle class, educated parents) feel like they earned ANYTHING when they never had to compete with a large chunk of our population? It isn’t FAIR that I don’t feel like I earned what I have in life because so much of it was basically a product of the luckiness of being born into my family instead of another family.
It IS an emotional issue, but it is also logical to strive in some way for fairness in opportunity. How to implement and how far to go is the hard part where carefulness is important.
I think we have to be uber careful about this issue because it can really impinge on freedom. For example, it could be a better opportunity for some babies to be taken from their poor mother’s and given to a middle class family to be raised, but that would be ethically abhorrent and wrong wrong wrong. There is a balance between freedom and equality of opportunity and we need to strike the right balance that keeps us as free as we can be but also allows every baby born in the country a legitimate chance to compete against every other baby born in this country. That sounds funny…baby fight!
Note that I said opportunity, not outcome. If you screw up that’s your problem.
A side note, I think this was from episode 1, but the story of the Cambodian family working their ass off for their kids is great and heart warming, especially considering my parents weren’t willing to sacrifice much of anything for me. But from the guy who has a chapter on sleep and stress in his book, I find it funny that you hold up these insanely hard working, likely overstressed folks as something we should be striving for. They helped their kids out, but that is an unhealthy way of living and if you do that for your kids realize you may not be around for your grand-kids b/c sleep is important according to this Robb Wolf fellow.
Steph! first, if we ever cross paths, the NorCal’s are on me.
You raise some interesting points…and I have to say, the walk down memory lane I took reviewing my own childhood was a painful one. The environment I came from was an almost anti-intellectual, anti-achievement zone. Don’t rock the boat, don’t dream “too big” lest one not meet their dreams and instead face disappointment. (GASP!) I had a full-ride scholarship to Loma Linda for an accelerated Physical therapy program and my mom talked me out of it, convincing me instead to do “a few years of JR college”. The reasoning was fear and this weird culture of just relying on the dole. I don;t think I’ve ever related this publicly, but I supported myself and both parents from age 16-21 as my dad languished waiting to get onto SSI (he had numerous work options but chose instead to just get a hand-out). In some ways my childhood was stolen from me and dI’m pissed! And as you can see…not very sympathetic. I try to not let me personal experience overly cloud my judgement…but it’s tough.
A few things stand out as reasons why I did not succumb: Sports, science classes and a few key people who intervened at critical times in my life. Despite this it was still hard and I narrowly avoided just staying in that scene.
So, as emotionally compelling as your point is…HOW do we do this? And given the remarkably low rates of success, why throw good money after bad money? At the very least programs seem better built from a local level. Agin this argument for a mitigation of taxes at the federal level if one donates to 5013c’s.
To me, the best way to tackle this is create safety nets with an expiration date and a foot in the ass of folks to get OFF the assistance. Create climates of success and we do not need gov programs.
I am 100% open to alternatives. Lay them out for me, let’s talk about it!
And you are right, the Cambodian family was damn near killing themselves, but I reconnected with them recently. they work much less, have actually read my book! But they did what they needed to do to give their kids that boost…to teach them what hard work and some sacrifice can do. I just about killed myself getting the word out about paleo. I was a wreck after my book tour, but I thinks it’s saved a lot of lives and it’s started something that if I die tomorrow it wont matter. it’ll go on with or without me. I think that’s the benefits of both love and sacrifice.
Thanks for replying. This is a nice distraction from freaking out about recent tragic events which happened way too close to home. WTF is wrong with us???
Norcal marg, you’re on. That’s crazy that you supported your whole family! I can’t even imagine dealing with that while also dealing with being a teenager, which is hard enough as it is. Even more evidence that you are freakishly gifted. I wonder how much of your parents anti-success ideas may have even made you more into being successful in the long run. My parents are idiots when it comes to money, in debt b/c spending money on stupid commercial stuff they don’t need, etc, which provided a great example of how not to be that my sisters and I seem to all strive to avoid. Same with health (my mom is obese, always on a diet but never long, never active, etc). My focus on health is a direct result of my parents lack of focus on their health and seeing how it affected them. It just went a little misguided for 15 years by the John Robbins and T. Colin Cambell’s of the world 🙁 Thank god we have soldiers like you willing to sacrifice their own health to help me learn true health. THANKS! That is amazing of you. You are saving many lives with your sacrifice and I commend you for your efforts. It’s a tough line between trying to make the world a better place for your children and being there for them. As any soldier probably knows.
Implementation of equality of opportunity is the hard part, sure, totally! We gotta do what works and not waste money on what doesn’t.
Have you heard of the Harlem children’s zone? http://www.hcz.org/
They have a multilateral approach to lifting kids out of poverty including parent classes. They are trying to teach parents in poverty how to talk/interact with their children the way middle class parents do. That’s a good start, though from your experience it seems like your parents wouldn’t have felt like putting in the effort to help their child. Sigh, it’s too bad it would be evil totalitarian and wrong to only let people have kids who are willing to actually put in some effort at it.
Read the book “Savage Inequalities” by Jonathan Kozol. We have basically gone back to a segregated and highly unequal schooling system in the USA because we stopped bussing and neighborhoods are so segregated. Or watch this movie http://www.amazon.com/Little-Rock-Central-High-Years/dp/B000UR9TK0 to see how it doesn’t even help to be desegregated. This is some depressing stuff. How can anyone who succeeds from a privileged background really feel like they earned it?
We have some work to do on the education front to provide a good education to all kids in all public schools. It just pisses me off that the upper middle class white kids get way more resources and $ for their schools than the lower classes of any race, when the upper middle class white kids are going to be FINE with or without those resources. The kids without good home resources need good teachers and good learning environments much more than I ever did. Not that I want to take resources away from my former self, but everyone should have access to a good school. Throwing money at schools isn’t always a good solution, but there are great innovations out there and I think we need to keep studying, find what works, and implement it. It’s just that charter schools are often hard to use as a model because they can kick kids out and they get kids whose parents chose to enroll them, so not the same as a public school.
I agree it’s very cultural. I remember hearing an NPR thing by Henry Louis Gates about how annoyed he is at young black kids today. His generation marched and protested to get into white schools and this generation doesn’t bother with school.
What to do about it? A culture of achievement in schools could be a good start. Have you heard of KIPP schools (http://www.kipp.org/). They seem to focus on values and culture in addition to the usual school stuff. I think education can make a huge difference, but I wonder if it’s too late to wait till kids are schooling age because so much brain development happens before then. And so much brain development is based on environment, including diet (EPA/DHA and other fats super important!) and environmental stimulation to build those pathways and reinforce them. Good, stimulating pre-schools which include one real nourishing meal (not USDA crap) would be a great thing for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.
You know, I never thought of it that way in terms of non-profits, but I’ve been thinking for a long time that we should be able to vote on our tax return on what our tax money gets spent on. No check on ag subsidies, check education and science, no check on random pointless wars.
Thanks for letting me ramble!
I’m glad to see, Robb, that you bring up the point that local is better. There more local the effort, the better it can be tailored to the specific situation, the more information will be available, and the more say everybody will have in the matter.
What’s needed seems to be:
1. Putting the idea out there that there’s so much that can be done on a local level if people get together. You don’t have to wait for the State or Federal government to take an interest (they’d just do a half-assed to terrible job anyway).
2. Resources for different local communities to share resources: educational (what works/what doesn’t), trainers/teaching materials, etc.
So the question is: can people get together in their local communities and organize the provision of whatever it is that’s lacking (decent schooling, tutoring, sports, care for the elderly and disabled, snow clearing, etc.)?
On the show it was brought up that we’re evolutionarily programmed to do well in small groups of 100-200 people or less. So how do er organize ourselves like that today, in communities with “the widest shoulders carrying the heaviest load” on a voluntary basis? And how do we in turn organize these communities on higher levels to tackle larger problems while keeping a basis of consent and self-governance?
Perhaps something like the Dutch system of sociocracy can be an inspiration?
Calls for fairness are almost always calls for the opposite. “I want more, take it from them over there.”
Calls for fairness from a politician are almost always calls for more power through tax (as well as pandering for votes and the power that comes with that).
In my opinion, fairness is the result of a lack of interference by the plethora of sources trying to impose “fairness” upon us. It is typically anything but.
Nowadays, maybe, but definitely not historically!
Just consider the history of slavery and racial segregation. The call for fairness and equality was definitely justified.
Equality and fairness are important when it comes to equality under the law, right to fair trial, etc.
That’s why I said *almost always 🙂
To rephrase my point – nobody (including the government) should be able to use force to impose what they consider to be fairness.
In that same vein though, a plantation owner also cannot force someone to be a slave.
Do you agree if I rephrase my comment in that way?
Absolutely. And furthermore, if someone is in such dire straits that they feel like their only option is to (voluntarily) sell themselves into slavery, I still wouldn’t force them not to, but I would do anything I could personally to provide them with an alternative, and I would boycott and ostracize the scumbag why tried to buy them, and suggest others do so too. And I suspect anyone here would do the same.
I have really enjoyed your thoughts thus far and will continue to listen closely. Please forgive my ignorance as I am not an economist but my question is:
Would a completely “free market” not inevitably lead to wealth inequality whereby, the majority of a population’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of very few people? The rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer as described in the “Pareto Principle”.
I understand some of the problems with raising taxes on the upper-level income but how would you get around the problem of wealth inequality?
Why do you think that a completely “free market” would inevitably lead to wealth inequality? You’re asking to prove a negative, which can be tough.
We’ve never really tried a true free market, at least not since the founding of the country. What we have now is a lot of regulations and “favored” industries (agrisubsidies anybody? Robb?) that cause a systematic redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the ruling/influential class.
I would say that wealth “inequality” is not a problem per se. It is the result of an inequality of opportunity. If we had a true freedom (in this sense, equality of opportunity), it would allow for the full recognition of each person’s unique talents, abilities and diligence.
Wealth inequality will always exist, but it is not necessarily a bad thing if it is the result of a true freedom to build wealth.
All true, but in fact I think our current system creates and perpetuates inequality for more than a free, competitive market would.
In our system, the government and banks are colluding to control the money supply. Banks have exclusive right to create money, and you’re not allowed to use anything else for money. This is extremely unfair, because it allows bankers to extract money from the rest of the economy and provide very little in return (yep, usury is the word).
In a free market, everybody could issue money (some based on credit, others tied to commodities, and who knows what other innovations there would be), and the best money would win (most stable prices, lowest interest rates, greatest trust, etc.) so the same couldn’t happen.
Perhaps one thing to discuss in the show would be: what alternatives are there right now that we as individuals can pursue? Move our money to a local credit union? Help establish or join alternative local currencies that will give local businesses access to credit, and facilitate trade where dollars are scarce?
Are you replying to my comment or to Josh? I agree with everything you say above – that is in fact the point I’m trying to make.
I was replying to you; not because I disagreed with you, but because I felt like adding that other dimension: government distortion often creates inequality, basically by supporting monopolies, class privileges, and rent seeking/extraction.
Now the point is triply made 😀
I’m enjoying the conversation, but I would request that we give a “fair”, or perhaps better said “honest”, explanation of differing viewpoints.
Dismissively laughing about Pres. Obama’s gaffe that “they didn’t build that”, does not help the conversation. A simple Google/YouTube search will show anyone what he actually said…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=192oEC5TX_Q. He was trying to make a point about the importance of government in public education, infrastructure, and providing a framework in which all of us can be successful entrepreneurs. He was saying that nobody gets there on their own. Success requires a lot of hard work by the individual, but very rarely did the person get there 100% on their own. Maybe you think he overstates the importance of the government. But at least be honest about his statement before you attack it. We all have the benefit of a pretty good public education system, of really good roads and transportation, of a mostly safe environment to live and work, of a business environment mostly free of the need for bribery, etc. These are conditions that are dramatically different in many other parts of the world. Does the government make that happen? Should I pay some level of taxes to help sustain those conditions? If yes, then let’s talk about what that level should be.
Also, nobody “demonizes success”. Liberals demonize rich people who pay a net lower effective tax rate than middle class people. Liberals demonize Wall Street Bankers who make a profit by shorting investments that they are selling to their own customers. Liberals demonize Private Equity Executives who buy a company, load it up with debt, extract large management fees, and then force the company into bankruptcy as employees lose their jobs. That is not demonizing success, it’s attacking certain parts of our system that they don’t like. We all love Jobs, Gates, Schultz, and Walton. Men who created amazing businesses that employ thousands of people around the world. We all love small business entrepreneurs who employ 5, 10, and 20 people at a time. We can have an intelligent conversation about why the destruction companies and birth of new companies is important for a capitalist system to thrive. We can talk about how changes to the tax system (such as the flat tax you propose) could fix some of those issues. But let’s not oversimplify opposing views into Cable News sound bites that are nothing more than a false straw man.
A Liberal Example: “Conservatives want to take away your medicare!!!” No, Rep. Ryan is proposing an alternative solution to Medicare based upon vouchers. OK, let’s have a conversation about the advantages, disadvantages, and risks of a voucher system. Liberals laughing about how evil Rep. Ryan is because he wants to steal medicare from poor old people is completely inaccurate and only serves to further divide us.
Changing direction a bit……I think there is also a question about what constitutes “success” for a health care solution. I interpreted your conversation to suggest that the Massachusetts Health Care Law has not been successful because it forced healthy young people to subsidize less healthy, older people. I don’t think that is my measure of success or failure. I’d argue that the best health care system would be one that enabled the longest life expectancy at a relatively reasonable cost, whether that cost is handled by private individuals or through government taxes. The most successful systems in the world in terms of life expectancy at Japan, Hong Kong, and Switzerland (according to UN Data). All of those countries have universal health care mandated by the government. All of those countries pay significantly less per capita on health care than the US (around 1/3 to 1/2 the cost). All three of those countries achieve their success (by my definition) in different ways. We wont know the level of success in Massachusetts for many years, although initial results seem to show that the average health of citizens is improving, but it is an expensive solution. Let’s talk about whether that measure of success is worth the cost. Of course, maybe others think success is having the best doctors in the world (even if only a small percentage of the population has access to those doctors). That’s an honest position to take. Let’s talk about that, after honestly explaining the position.
You can’t argue with Obama about the fact that we have to use government services.
BUT, it isn’t like we had a choice in the matter either. Perhaps if we didn’t have to pay out so much hard-earned capital for “infrastructure” and “education”, that capital would have gone into more useful investments that would be much better than we have now.
Once government monopolies are opened up to competition, rarely do they continue to be the best option. Would you rather ship USPS or FedEx?
So, just because roads were built does not mean that was the best solution and we owe a debt of gratitude to the government for forcing it down our throats.
Hi Scott! Thanks for listening to the show and engaging in the discussion. A few things that I just wanted to add clarity to is if you go to minute 48:15 in the podcast I transition into the statement made by the President. You will see that I didn’t engage in “cable news soundbites” but instead gave my opinion as to what the true meaning of the Presidents statement was (which was related to roads, etc.) Additionally, I am not convinced that “everyone” loves business as I have run across many people who truly believe, for whatever reason, that business owners by nature take advantage of people to make a “profit.” As someone who has owned businesses for nearly all my working life if is frightening how pervasive that opinion is in today’s society (at least among the people and other business leaders that I interact with). We will dive into the Healthcare discussion in more detail in the upcoming podcast and thanks again for participating in the discussion!
Hi Robb and Dave,
First, I want to say that I found this episode extremely enlightening. I had never thought about the concept of fairness in this way. I agree with you that it’s something that makes more sense at a person-to-person, small group level. I would say that it really has no place in public debate.
I am really looking forward the next episode, when you talk about health systems, including Singapore.
I live in Canada (Quebec) and I know that some people are afraid that Obama’s program is taking the US toward a Canadian style health system. So, I thought I would try to give you some grist for your debate, and tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of Quebec’s system (as I see them).
– Huge financial drain. The government spends an insane proportion of tax dollars on the health system
– Doctor’s are leaving the public system (can’t earn enough, terrible conditions, etc.), which means that a large proportion of the population does not even have a family doctor. There are severe shortages of specialists in all areas.
– Ridiculous waiting lists for important procedures/surgeries (even people that are not rich are paying for certain procedures because the waits are too long
– Ridiculous conditions in emergency rooms. For someone who has to be admitted to hospital through emergency, the norm seems to be several days on a stretcher in the hallways of the emergency area because no regular beds are available.
Advantages (from my personal perspective):
– If I (or one of my kids) was in a severe accident I (they) would receive emergency treatment without me having to declare bankruptcy afterwards due to the bills
– If I (or my kids) got cancer (or something like that) despite our healthy diet/lifestyle, we would receive treatment even if we couldn’t pay for it (although we might have to wait longer than was medically advisable)
– I will never be stuck in a job I absolutely hate for years because I am afraid to be without health insurance. This happened to my sister (who is in Michican, where I am originally from). The reason she was so afraid is that, previously, she had spent years paying for an emergency procedure that she had to have when she had no insurance.
Things other people feel are advantages:
– People can go to a doctor/clinic whenever they want for anything at all and not have to pay anything. A friend of mine got a backache a few weeks ago. He went to a chiropractor (that he had to pay for) who helped him a lot, but he also went to his doctor just to “see what she thought about it”. (honestly–more like a good excuse to take time off work and get some attention from a professional)
– If you get a cold (or your kids get one) you can go to a doctor for free (repeatedly, if necessary) “just in case” it might be something serious that you would need antibiotics for (or in case you are bored because you’re on unemployment and need someone to listen to you…)
– If you have a chronic lifestyle disease (diabetes, heart disease etc.) you will never have to pay a cent to the doctor no matter how many times you visit, and if you don’t have drug insurance with your employer you will be covered by provincial drug insurance
Most of the people listening to this podcast are in the US, and I honestly think you guys have a great opportunity to try to get a system that has some real advantages but which actually works and is not a massive drain on the tax base. In Canada, unfortunately, I think we are stuck with having a dysfunctional system, because for Canadians, having universal health care (with no user’s fees) is a major part of their national identify–no political party dares touch it!
I’m surprised nobody ever mentioned anything about the “fairness doctorine”!!!
Robb and Dave,
Thanks for the podcast and Robb thanks for the Paleo Solution. I enjoy listening to any and all ideas related to economics, politics and the taboo subjects one is never supposed to bring up in “polite conversation”.
If you gents haven’t read any Murray Rothbard I beg you to give him a read. Best of all, they’re free.
Here’s a link to a PDF for: What has Government Done to our Money? http://mises.org/books/whathasgovernmentdone.pdf
An awesome collection of essays is here: http://mises.org/books/egalitarianism.pdf
Robb, you got so close to touching on this culture of acceptance toward gov’t handouts. Folks used to be embarrassed, now it’s a shrug.
Fair redistribution of wealth may be smart if it were limited to preventing abject poverty, but it introduces a moral hazard if life can get at all comfortable on welfare. The equation is complicated since there’s 60-some-odd forms of gov’t assistance – that’s not smart.
I think Robbin Hood was a crook, but I have to wonder if someone who makes $20M/year actually contributes as much as 400 people who make $50K.
The flat tax is interesting. 22% straight up, no deductions, and it replaces ALL other taxes (property, sales, etc.).
The concern I have with leaving everything up to the free market is that it is inherently reactive to feedback and that structure jeopardizes the environment. Too many bankrupt ideas could really screw up some nice areas.
Life is not fair (or so my parents told me at 4 years old). The longer we pretend that things should be “fair” the longer we sit in this stagnant state of inaction. Exchange the word “unfortunate” for the word “fair” if that helps advance our goals of reform. We should REALLY be determining if the opportunity presented for individuals in a society are the same. That’s the true measure of “fair”. In today’s society, I believe most people (despite different starting points in life) all have the same opportunity to succeed or fail.
Oh and great podcast guys, I’m trying to catch up as fast as I can. I would love more hard facts surrounding your topics (Federal Deficit, Personal Finances, Healthcare costs etc). Maybe I’m just too accustomed to Robb’s Paleo Solution podcast full of geeked out factoids, but I think the discussion seems soft without hard numbers or more documentation to back it up. I know that’s no small task, but I believe it would help advance the discussions.
Some general comments on this one.
I enjoyed the “I, Caveman” segment and wish it had run longer (air time) so we could see more of the interaction. As to the reaction to people not contributing as things got desperate i could only think “We’ll eat you first.”
It seems to me that fair is a lot like porn. I know it when I see it. I like it. What works for me doesn’t work for everybvody.
As far as immigration goes, I think we are several hundred years late in getting serious about it. Citizenship should be derived from your parents, not the accident of your location at birth. Perhaps we should re-examine the idea that all residents are citizens and go back to teh Greek model, or forward to Starship troopers. 😉 We should definitely make it easier for successful graduate students to stay here.