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The French are striking again... But they do have socialized health care

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by The Big Ragu, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member


    The French are striking again. This time it's a transit strike. And this time it isn't people rioting because of the unemployment and crummy economy caused by the unrealistic socialized systems they could never pay for. Although that indirectly led to these strikes. They finally kicked the socialists out and accepted someone like Sarkozy (and to the French this was a huge dose of Castor Oil), because they realized their way doesn't work. Now that he is doing what he said he'd do -- no more crazy government programs promising the world to everyone (Hey Mr. Civil Servant, take a full month off each year and then retire at 50 with a full pension and medical benefits; who cares how we are going to pay for this) -- they are striking.

    They've already begun yanking benefits from their socialized medical system, it is no longer universal, and the thing has been crumbling and operating at a huge loss that cripples their economy. I can't imagine the riots and strikes when they finally have to act on that and admit that quality health care is as costly in France as it is in the U.S. and that there is no magic pill for covering everyone without it being paid for somehow. The crazy thing is that every time someone offers them up as a model for us, and I've pointed out on here that the cost has been huge in terms of people out of work and a stagnant economy (while its neighboring countries have done much better over the last two decades), no one wants to discuss that part of it.
  2. pallister

    pallister Guest

    Can't wait for all the "The French are a great people" posts that completely miss the point.
  3. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Plus, they like Jerry Lewis.
  4. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    And Larry of the Three Stooges.
  5. Boomer7

    Boomer7 Active Member

    I don't think anyone, left or right, has ever made that statement about the French here. :)

    France is pretty clearly a cautionary tale of the needle going too far to the left. I, a Democrat, have no problem admitting this.
  6. The French are striking because that's what the French do. (We, with 10 percent of our workforce unionized and the rest anesthetized, don't understand this culture and never will.) They've done it under every president they've ever had; as the BBC article points out, the same people striking now did it under Chirac for the very same reasons, which have nothing to do with their health-care system. (I searched the article in vain for any reference to health-care at all, which makes me wonder why it got dragged in here as an issue. The strikes are about pensions.) They did it under DeGaulle, a national hero who nearly got shot. There's an edge to it under Sarkozy because of some of the things he's said and done. And it's important to remember that his election was as much cultural as it was economic.
    Nobody's offering the French system in toto as a model for us. We're too big and have too many people. There are elements in it that would work. And if you're going to compare France unfavorably to its neighboring countries, the ones who "have done so much better" -- England and Germany, let's say -- you ought to at least mention that both of them -- like the rest of the entire industrialized world except the US -- believe that health-care is a right and have government-run universal health-care systems that are radically different from the brilliant one we have here that's left 45 million people uninsured, and with which so many of our citizens are so obviously overjoyed.
  7. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    EVERYONE believes that health care should be universal. That isn't the issue. But the Germans and English have never had a system like the French system (and we can get into their problems separately, if you prefer) -- which is the one that got held up as a particular beacon when Michael Moore's movie came out (it is much harder to find a British person who will speak glowingly of his system, because they ration to the point that most people with serious problems leave the UK and get their health care elsewhere, where they can actually get taken care of). I wish unlimited, best-quality health care was universal and available to everyone, just like you do. I just know that there is no possible socialized system that can provide it, because there is a big difference between simply saying, "We should have this" and figuring out how to pay for it without destroying your economy. This is such a huge part of the GDPs of industrialized, western countries. The French, with their overly socialized society, are proof of what failure this sort of thinking is. You are correct that the French have always rioted. They have been conditioned to expect the government to give them everything. And when they don't get it, they strike or riot. All of these strikes and riots have been economic in nature, one way or another. When unemployment is more than 10 percent and stays that way for years, people riot. When the economy is almost moving backward, while places like the U.S. are growing, people riot. You can read that story I posted all you want and look for the words health care, and you won't find it, but that was the point I made at the end of my post. THESE are the costs they have paid for their unrealistic systems, including their health care system, which they could never pay for. You want to talk about socialized health care. I want to force you to acknowledge that when you (or if not you, others who have) hold up the French as a paradigm, you have to look at life as a Frenchman in its totality, and acknowledge the costs they have paid to get that health care system people have said WE should have. They are striking now, because an unrealistic government-run perk -- just like their socialized health system -- has to be yanked because they could never afford to live up to the promises they made. They will strike or riot again, when their health system finally crumbles (and it has already caused strife, because the debt they have run up on it has forced them to start pulling benefits and disqualifying groups of people already, and we are one band-aid away from Sarkozy giving them another huge dose of reality).
  8. Blitz

    Blitz Active Member

    These "strikes" happen all the time over here.
    My boss was to leave on a four-day trip to Paris, taking a train from southwestern Germany for a straight shot, under-three-hour journey to the heart of France.
    Her train plans were shaken up, but she got the one and only passage for Saturday.
    Some of the trains are running, just not the large majority of them. She may get stranded in Paris on Monday, but for now she's booked with a ticket to return.

    And on a side note, my U.S. News & World Report last week said the Sarkozyian model would be what perhaps saves the Republican Party and helps usher in a new Republican president next year. Everyone in America loves Sarko these days, it seems.
  9. Ragu --
    You've got to get out more, son. If you honestly believe that the people who run health-care in this country -- which is to say, the insurance companies, Big Pharma, and most of the medical establishment -- want universal health-care, I have a mighty big bridge to sell you. Of course, you look around this country and see a growing economy. (Well, yes, but it's growing in China.) so I'm not sure where we go. The French health-care system -- which you seem to be debating mostly as a symbol and not a reality -- is not entirely "socialism" but actually is a public-private hybrid that, by any reasonable metric, including public satisfaction, outperforms our system.
    The fact is, as the McKinsey Report pointed out last year, the biggest problem with the American system is that we overpay for everything.
    The study showed:
    -- We overpay for prescription drugs by $66 billion -- largely because we're not allowed to bargain down costs collectively like everyone else in the world does. So we wind up pay 66 percent more than they do in Canada for the same drugs.
    -- We overpay for doctors' compensation by $58 billion.
    -- And, most fun of all, we pay $98 billion for "administrative costs" -- $84 billion in the "private sector" -- and 64 percent of that is for insurance underwriting and advertising.
    But, lucky ducks that we are, we are winning the battle of economic symbolism.
  10. Blitz

    Blitz Active Member

    There is collusion in the United States between insurance companies and health care providers.
    It's a known shortcoming which has existed in its current awful form for at least 50 years.
    Things didn't used to be this way.
    The medical industry is allowed to do as it pleases because Big Government simply stands by the side and watches.
    You'd think Big Government would more often do things that appeal to the populous, but it rarely happens. This could be one of those times.
    Have to wait and see what the new president does.
  11. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    FB, We "overpay" for drugs, in part, because we have been subsidizing the rest of the world, which have imposed price controls (they haven't made health care cheaper. They have strong-armed companies, which have then passed the costs to Americans). The best medical advances have largely come out of the United States over the last 50 years. There is a reason for that. We give them incentive to operate and profit and do R&D. But it is, in fact, why health care has become so expensive. We have more treatments for more things and more people wanting to avail themselves of them. We can put price controls on drug companies. We can also shut down drug pipelines and give up on curing diseases.

    We are in agreement about OUR system's warts. We essentially have various middlemen (insurance companies and government being the big two) that add inefficiencies and costs to what would be less expensive (but still not affordable for most people) if we went to a simple pay-as-you-go system. Within the next 10 years, health care will account for 20 percent of U.S. GDP. We spend more on health care than we do on food. Do you realize how much it would cost to pay for that? Show me a realistic plan and I'll end this argument. Everything else is rhetoric and populist BS designed to let people hear what they WANT to hear.

    Just because we end up paying more for these inefficiencies, doesn't mean that it is the ONLY thing preventing universal, best-quality health care. In fact, it is a relatively small part of our problem. Health care is a bit more expensive than you seem to want to acknowledge, and it if we continue this argument, can you say how much more of their paycheck to the government people will be willing to pay for what will amount to more inefficiencies, bureaucracy and poor coverage? Does 15 percent more in taxes sound good to everyone who wants universal health care--that let's face it, will suck and will leave people frustrated with their inability to get timely care? Let's not forget, even with all of our warts, 84 percent of Americans do have health care coverage, and we really do have the best system in the world in terms of quality of care and treatments available. People from these socialized countries fly HERE to get their care. So many people uncovered is not good (it downright sucks), but it's not surprising and about on par for where we should be, given how expensive this all is. Again, there is no magic pill that can make this all affordable enough to give everyone everything.

    That McKinsey report you are fond of -- their bottom line was actually NOT what you want to hear. Their conclusion wasn't that we are getting ripped off and if we stop getting ripped off everything is suddenly affordable. It was that we are paying too much because of a failure by the intermediation system (government, employers, insurance companies) to give people incentives to be value-conscious. We're overspending because we're overusing (the blame falls on consumers and providers), not because we are being overcharged.
  12. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member

    Guess you missed the 10 minutes in Sicko devoted to the English healthcare system.
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