Tough Love Needed to Tackle GOP “Obesity” Problem

gov-schwartz.jpgRecently Governor Schwarzenegger got into some hot water with the Republican Party in California.  In a speech to his fellow Republicans, he chided them for being too ideological on issues like healthcare when majorities of their own members favor government action.

In responding to complaints about his call for Republican realignment, the Governor laid it on the line in speaking with the LA Times editorial board:

If I see you gaining weight and gaining weight and gaining weight, I would eventually — if I cared at all about you — I would say: 'You know something? If you continue this way, you may get into serious trouble,' " he said. " 'You may get a heart attack or have problems with diabetes and stuff like that and can't move around as quickly and get tired.

But here is what I would do if I were you: I would go and exercise every day, stop eating at night, eat only two meals, be disciplined and blah, blah, blah, all of those kind of things. I will give you a plan and you can follow it or not.

So it's not I'm criticizing you. It just really means I care about you, and I want you to live and feel as good as I do and do as well as I do.' And that's what I basically did with the Republican Party.

I think our Rs – bless them —  here in NC might want to take some of the good Governor’s advice to heart.  People are looking for government to act in a variety of areas where the private sector has failed.  Number one obviously is in healthcare.  With costs skyrocketing, even people with good coverage through their employers have to wonder what they would do if they lost their job or tried to start their own business.  People want a guarantee they can keep the plan they have now – but also a guarantee that there will be an option at least as affordable if they lose their current coverage.  The private sector has failed miserably in that regard and so we need to come together through our government to get it done. 


  1. Brian

    September 20, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    I am not sure if you were able to keep a straight face when you typed this post. Especially hilarious is your claim that “the private sector has failed” in the area of health care.

    This from a 2001 paper written by Milton Friedman:

    “… the fraction of health spending financed directly or indirectly by government to more than 50 percent.”
    (here’s the link: http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/3459466.html)

    Furthermore, see this article from TCSDaily, that argues that the US health care industry is already largely socialized:

    “How can America’s health care system be “socialized” when we rely on the private sector more than any advanced nation? Because it doesn’t matter whether the dollars and the hospitals are owned publicly or privately. What matters is who controls how they are used.

    In 2007, the average family of four will pay $25,000 for health insurance – nearly 30 percent of their income. About $14,000 represents taxes that fund health programs for the elderly and the poor. In other words, the government controls the lion’s share.”

    In short, your claim that “The private sector has failed miserably” in regards to healthcare can not be taken seriously. How can the health care industry be considered a free market when government controls more than half of it?

  2. Adam Searing

    September 20, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Uh, Brian – why not step away from the propaganda and take a look at the facts from Kaiser Family Foundation?


    58% of people in NC have private/individual coverage

    27% are on Medicare/Medicaid/Other Public- and surely you don’t think Medicare is a failure?

    15% have no insurance at all

    So, The majority of people have private coverage – over twice as many as have public coverage.

    Looks to me like our current system isn’t working for those last 15% – no matter which way you try and spin it. So why don’t any Republican presidential candidates have a plan to cover everyone with health insurance? Because they have their heads in the sand.

  3. Brian

    September 20, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Re-read my comment. Nowhere does it mention number of people covered by private vs. gov’t.
    The reference was to dollars spent.

  4. Adam Searing

    September 20, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    All that means is that the sickest, oldest, and thus most expensive to take care of people are being taken care of by the govt while the insurance companies pump their profits by taking care of the healthier part of the population.

    Also, I find it amusing that conservatives – who for so long insisted that our health system was fine and that the uninsured could always get care in the ER – now suddenly find it expedient to acknowledge the system is broken but, surprise, surprise, blame the government.

    I guess if you finally have to face up to reality, it always helps to have a scapegoat.

  5. Brian

    September 21, 2007 at 9:51 am

    I am still trying to understand how you can reasonably evaluate the health care industry as a “free market.”

    When the majority of dollars spent in an industry is via the government – that is not a free market.

    When the so-called private insurance market is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the nation – that is not a free market.

    (feel free to read the article here for an explanation of why gov’t regulations make private insurance anything but a “free market” industry)

  6. krm0517

    September 21, 2007 at 10:03 am

    If the government runs our healthcare in the future, will people who live unhealthy lives be held accountable? Will smokers, overweight people, couch potatoes, substance abusers and other people who make poor health choices have the same benefits as people who count calories, exercise and generally take care of themselves?

    If so, aren’t taxpayers just being forced to subsidize poor decision making? Is it fair that millions of people who take care of themselves will have to pay the same for healthcare in taxes but will not receive the same amount of benefit? After all, it is the overweight people and the smokers who will soak up the lion’s share of the benefits because they will be more likely to develop costly illnesses.

    If there will be penalties for not living a healthy lifestyle, isn’t that just an attack on liberty and freedom? After all, how can a person trully be free if the government controls his or her choices?

    Either way you look at it, universal healthcare sounds like an immoral quagmire.

  7. James

    September 21, 2007 at 10:26 am

    You can say that about almost everything in democracy.

    As one of the many millions of telecommuters, is it fair that I’m forced to pay the same for more roads as people who don’t have the good sense to avoid daily commutes?

    As a person who objects to the war in Iraq, is it fair that I’m forced to subsidize the personal choices of those who have chosen to fight there?

  8. Brian

    September 21, 2007 at 10:32 am

    I am still waiting for someone to realistically describe for me how the health care industry can be considered a free market industry.

  9. krm0517

    September 21, 2007 at 10:59 am

    James – there is an answer to your first example. Toll roads. Let the free market build our highways.

    As for your second example. Every government that has ever existed has come into being for the sole purpose of providing for the common defense. You can object to war all you want but that does not change the fact that you benefit greatly from having a volunteer military that is fighing militant religous extremists in a foreign land rather than in your back yard. If you want to dissolve the military and rely on local militia for protection you should move to the Middle East or North Africa.

  10. Adam Searing

    September 21, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Well, when you guys who hate “government run” healthcare hit 65, I hope you don’t mind being guaranteed affordable health benefits through Medicare.

  11. Brian

    September 21, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Still avoiding my question, I see. The main point of your original post seemed to be that problems in the health care industry are a result of failures of the free market. I am still waiting for you to clarify just how you can justify describing our health care industry as being a free market.

  12. James

    September 21, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    You said:

    You can object to war all you want but that does not change the fact that you benefit greatly from having a volunteer military that is fighing (sic) militant religous (sic) extremists in a foreign land rather than in your back yard.

    The fact? Are you kidding? There’s no “fact” that says I benefit greatly from any such thing! You may think you benefit, but I certainly don’t. The only fact I can see is the prospect of never-ending deficits in a world made far less safe by George Bush than it was five years ago.

    And please tell me you’re not seriously proposing that all roads in North Carolina be toll roads? What will be next, toll sidewalks? Toll stormwater systems? Toll rivers? Toll beaches? Toll air? Toll police? Toll fire-fighters?

  13. […] admin wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptRecently Governor Schwarzenegger got into some hot water with the Republican Party in California. In a speech to his fellow Republicans, he chided them for being too ideological on issues like healthcare when majorities of their own … […]

  14. krm0517

    September 24, 2007 at 8:45 am

    James, I was in the Air Force from 1996-2000. I’ve been to several Middle Eastern countries. I can promise you that they don’t hate us any more today than they did then. If you honestly believe George Bush is the reason Islamic extermists hate us then you seriously need to take some history classes or read a book or two on the subject.

    The points you are making about roads and such are ridiculous. I didn’t know government gave us beaches, air and rivers…

    I live in rural eastern North Carolina (so please excuse my spelling errors, I went to public school out here after all!). We don’t have many sidewalks. Our firefighters are volunteers and we live in a giant stormwater system. The police, like the military, are the main reason we have a government… to protect life, liberty, property and all that good stuff. Government is obligated to provide this basic security.

  15. James

    September 24, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Guess it all depends on what you mean by basic security. I would say keeping the earth from dying would qualify.

  16. Adam Searing

    September 24, 2007 at 11:52 am

    And, I think most people in eastern NC would like to have a guarantee that they will always be able to buy a health care plan they can afford. That’s simply not going to happen without an expanded role of government in our health system.

    What’s at stake here is the extreme philosophy of the ideologues the Governator was criticizing in CA v. the increasingly mainstream majority opinion of people, regardless of party, that government does have a bigger role to play in delivering some of the basic structure that enables us to have a productive and wealthy country.

    I’m for building a economy where everyone has at least the chance to succeed without worrying about bankruptcy from health bills.

  17. Brian

    September 24, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    I guess I’ll try one last time….

    Please realistically describe for me how you can justify calling the health care industry a “free market.”

  18. Adam Searing

    September 24, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Brian – the debate isn’t over what percentage of GNP we spend on health care goes through a government payor or is through a private employer. Most people – other than the “they can just get care in the emergency room” crowd – agree that our current system needs to change because we have 47 million people without insurance. A majority of people believe that we should have increased government involvement in order to guarantee affordable plans are available when our current employer-based market system fails. You may not think that, but it misses the point to debate the meaning of “free market.”

    We’ve got a problem and people need to propose realistic solutions rather than attempt to confuse the debate.

  19. Brian

    September 24, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    I guess I “confused your debate” in your original post when you said “The private sector has failed miserably…”

    My impression from your original post is that you believe the problem stems from a “market failure,” and therefore government action is needed. In order for your point to be valid, we must assume the health care industry in its current state is indeed a “free market.”

    If we are to “propose realistic solutions,” we must first understand the causes of the problems plaguing our health care industry. You say the problems stem from market failure, implying the health care industry operates as a free market. That seems to be the foundation of your argument. I have repeatedly challenged you to defend this basis of your argument, and you have failed to do so.

  20. The Progressive Pulse – Smokescreen

    September 26, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    […] There was a spirited debate going on in the comments section of Adam's post regarding healthcare, "free-markets," and the role of government. Commenter "Brian" employed a familiar tactic of the conservatives. Brian complained that healthcare is not truly a free-market because of government intrusion into the marketplace. Therefore, according to Brian, the 47 million uninsured Americans are not the result of "market failure."   To be sure, there are many reasons that healthcare is failing in America, but the absence of a magical make-believe free-market is not one of them. […]

  21. Chris

    September 26, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    “And, I think most people in eastern NC would like to have a guarantee that they will always be able to buy a health care plan they can afford. That’s simply not going to happen without an expanded role of government in our health system.”

    Actually, it can if people like yourself would stop advocating for mandated coverages (like mental health, substance abuse, etc.) and there was allowed to be a market for health insurance in NC and not a government-sponsored monopoly in BCBS.

    I can afford to purchase a quite reasonably priced plan if I can choose the coverage I want from whichever company I wanted.

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