My students in China: Why exactly can’t the US provide healthcare to our poorest citizens?

Recently I was invited by the law school at East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai to come and lecture  about a nonprofit lawyer’s role advocating to provide healthcare for low-income people in the United States.   Teaching on the other side of the world was a spectacular privilege in many ways, but after going through how North Carolina and other states are currently rejecting federal Medicaid dollars to provide health coverage to our poorest citizens it was one student’s question that struck me the most:

The United States is the richest country in the world, so why exactly can’t you provide health care to the poorest citizens in every state?

Good question!



  1. Doug

    April 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Because our government is not a socailist/communist nation….yet. Once government seizes the means of production then it would be possible…But then you face the quandry of government providing significantly less of an inferior product, then you wind up in the same place with huge lines and rationing….then not everyone has healthcare. Think of the example you used to see in the days of the 1980’s….the Soviet Union could not even provide enough toilet paper for their population and what was available was not very good….no Charmin softness there. No wonder everyone there always looked depressed with that sandpaper they had to use, there must have been a lot of chafing.

  2. Alex

    April 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I think the answer Adam is that we only think we are the richest country in the world. Maybe we were at one time, but now we are awash in debt, $17 Trillion to be exact, and going in debt further by $3 Billion dollars a day. Americans have another $11+ Trillion in consumer debt, and our students have another Trillion dollars in debt, and growing every day. Many of our larger cities are bankrupt,and our local governments have $7 trillion dollars of bond debt that is not even on the books, with an untold amount of unfunded pension liabilities. We have $3 Trillion dollars of debt off the books generated by printing phony money at the Federal reserve just to keep us afloat. I could go on further, but you get the picture. How we think we can provide federal assistance to 47% of the population,run a huge bloated bureaucracy, and provide free healthcare is beyond me, not to even mention the aging demographics we face. If you think about it, it’s a pretty darn easy answer.

  3. Doug

    April 11, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    You are just putting too many facts out there. This blog is only about expanding government, not about the reality that we are bankrupt and cannot afford the generous benefits being doled out. Whether or not they like it, we are headed to a situation like Greece and Europe as a whole and it will not be pretty. The world is currently in a new model of global capitalism similar to the 1970’s, 1930’s..heck all the way back to the collapse of feudalism in the 19th centrury. In our current state, we are not ready for the change and are in fact in dire straits.

  4. Adam Searing

    April 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    “Doug” – you might want to actually go to China sometime or perhaps read an article or two about a country with a billion people and a roaring economy. It’s basically unfettered capitalism with one party rule, something you ultra conservatives would seem to be perfectly OK with. Whether they can keep up a situation where you can choose your delivery pizza but not choose your leaders is a subject of huge debate, but the fact that capitalism is booming is not.

    And “Alex” – don’t you have any pride in our country? Look around – we have beautiful land, amazing natural resources, the smartest businesspeople, world-renowned institutions from universities to hospitals, and amazing diversity in our leadership and our people. We are the richest country in the world, we can solve problems in health care or anywhere, and I’m proud to be trying to make our country even better. Shouldn’t you?

  5. Doug

    April 11, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I would not expect you to acknowledge the thumb of government behind each of those “unfettered capitalists”. When the rubber hits the road there and the government is not being enriched through their labor they will not hesitate to lower the hammer. There are also a lot of problems that you do not see as a foreigner on trips to China.

  6. Ricky Leung

    April 11, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    And how many trips have you taken to China, Doug?

  7. Doug

    April 11, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Not personally, but when I was back int the international factoring business some of my bosses had been and I have had enough interaction to know.

  8. david esmay

    April 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Ricky, by that Doug means he knows next to nothing, on any subject, like Alex, that goes beyond righty fascist talking points.

  9. alex

    April 11, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    My grandfather used to say it takes a small mind to call someone names, and esmay certainly fits the bill. Fortunately, no one seems to take him seriously, and thank goodness most of his time is spent with his time machine.

  10. Doug

    April 11, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    so you have to go there in order to be able to have a conversation. That is quite rich on this blog…..hypocracy abounds. So anyone keep in mind that you have to actually have direct experience in whatever you are commenting on (no matter that there is a lot of information on this new fangled thing caled “the internet” and there are conversations that can be had with people who have been and done other things too)….I guess there will be no more comments on posts. Gonna get real boring if we have to live to that standard.

    No matter how hard I try I am continually surprised at the Ignorance of Liberalism.

    Alex, you may want to try this method: see esmay name, skip to next poster, although he might be the only one left if we have to have direct experience with any particular subject in order to comment. .

  11. Gene Hoglan

    April 12, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Haha these comment sections are fast turning into a Turing complete spambot exercise since nobody but the two resident conservatrolls seems to bother posting any more.

  12. Adam Searing

    April 12, 2013 at 9:57 am

    “Doug” and “Alex” – just keep on banging away on your keyboards made in China, looking at your monitors made in China, while your router made in China connects you to our democratic forum. You might want to use your CPU made in China to help you spell “hypocrisy” though – we can’t educate you in China too.

  13. david esmay

    April 12, 2013 at 10:41 am

    My grandfather used to say there are three kinds of liars, liars damned liars, and Republicans. Alex, all of your arguments are ad hominem in nature, the name calling and personal attacks originated with you, when anyone responds to the discredited conservative talking points you’ve gleaned from right wing web sites, you don’t attack the argument. The fact of the matter is no one here takes you or Doug or Frances seriously.

    The fact of the matter is that for the last thirty-two years the policies of the Republican party have determined the redistribution of wealth upwards in our society, not free markets, free markets don’t exist in this country because that runs counter to corporatism’s elimination of competition and it’s ability to manipulate prices. Republican policies have privatized profits and socialized losses, increased debt and deficits, there is no argument to refute these facts. The Economic Recovery Act(1981), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Commodities Futures Act, the off the books cost of Bush’s wars and repeated tax cuts, are the reasons why our debt is increasing, the last two alone account for over half of all U.S. debt. Just admit that conservative policies have failed miserably and doubling down on them is not the answer.

    Alex, you throw out numbers, here’s one for you 23 A. The Federal Reserve Act, rule 23A requires banks to hold and pledge as collateral, valuable paper like mortgages or bonds, but it can, under 23A waive the rule and accept any paper as collateral. That is exactly what happened under Bush and Greenspan’s watch, they allowed BofA, Goldman, J.P Morgan, Deutshe, and HSBC to pledge speculative and worthless paper to get cash, endangering the world’s economy. Reagan destroyed fiscal responsibility and Bush drove the nails in the coffin.

  14. Alex

    April 12, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Evidently, someone forgot and pulled his string !

  15. Doug

    April 12, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Gene, you are right. I guess there are fewer leftists out there than some think.

    I will have to look and see, but I think Dell is actually made in USA last I heard. Have not checked my specific PC and every part in it though.

  16. Doug

    April 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Hey Adam,
    You may be right about China. The same things happen under Commie rule as happens here in pseudo-communist/socialist rule. Whoda’ thunk’ it?


  17. Jack

    April 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    So Doug, are you saying that Israel, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Japan and many others are all socailist/communist nations since they have a healthcare system that takes care of its people?

    Please clarify.

  18. david esmay

    April 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Brilliant, Alex, brilliant!!!! Your trolling is taking vacuity to new heights!!!

  19. Gene Bridges

    April 12, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Doug, the simpleton, writes: I will have to look and see, but I think Dell is actually made in USA last I heard.

    Answer: Parts are from China, the assembly is done in the US. Adam’s assessment level is therefore correct.

    What makes Doug a simpleton, however,isn’t his obliviousness to the real world per se, although that’s a contributing factor. Rather, it’s his insistence is that since the objection is raised by way of China, and China’s government is a communist government, it is therefore to be dismissed. That’s the genetic fallacy writ large. Doug merely wants to view China through the lens of Maoist China, but that’s patently false these days – China’s Communist Party does rule, but it’s not the same sort of communist party it was in those days. Adam is one witness, and an old friend of mine from Houston Baptist University at Fudan University (taught biblical studies and theology at that I would add) is another – and I know that my friend’s conservative credentials are impeccable – or will Doug try to characterize the testimony of a professor from HBU as a “leftist?”

    Of course, we shouldn’t expect somebody like Doug to really know what he’s talking about. He’s said here that he used to work in the international “factoring” business. That’s old school speak for “finance.” Somehow one wonders then how he can conclude that the US is “bankrupt,” while holding the world’s standard currency, paying its bills, and so forth. The term “bankrupt,” is not convertible with “in debt.” Anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of world economics and the monetary system should know that. One things is for certain however, since we know for a fact that austerity gets you into huge recession, the policies that Doug advocates will, in fact, get us there far more quickly. That’s what makes Doug a simpleton. It’s an obvious error to state in the same statement that the US is headed toward bankruptcy like Greece, to take just one his examples – because Greece is not a currency issuer like the US. Greece doesn’t have the sort of financial arrangements that our Treasury/Government does here. No, rather, what Doug does here is repeat talking points, but, when the chips are down, he can be easily reduced to repeating those talking points. Repeating talking points is just another way of making assertions and not arguments.

  20. Alex

    April 12, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I thought Gene was coming along until he tried to get into a discussion of world economics where he is clearly in over his head ! As my grandfather used to say……. if you don’t know anything about a subject the best thing to do is not talk about it, and let someone else make a fool of himself.

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