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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

“We want less!”

My favourite banner [registration required] from the Washington DC protest last Saturday which did not happen, judging by many media outlets, was a few “tens of thousands” of right-wing protesters, according to the Washington Post, but drew rather a bigger crowd, according to the Daily Mail, than the new Messiah’s botched swearing in ceremony.

What I would like to know is when “we want less” became an extremist position?

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21 comments to “We want less!”

  • Paul

    Trying to see past my automatic assumption that if the Daily Mail says it it’s not true, I don’t think any source has claimed with reasonable evidence that it approached a million. That’s a shame, in a way; it would be great to think there were a million people in the area who felt passionately enough about this.

  • Here are actual photos of the event cross-referenced with the National Park Service’s schematic for estimating the crowd size at Obama’s inauguration.

    The Daily Mail was definitely on target. Most of the American media- not so much. Which is not a surprise considering its overt activism on behalf of Obama and his political agenda.

  • Kevin B

    In answer to the question “How big was the march?”, the answer is “Big Enough!”

    Big enough to scare the Democrat owned Senate into voting 83-7 to cut federal funding to Obama’s friends in ACORN. And only a third of the Senate face re-election next year. The whole of the Congress will have to face the voters in 2010 and many of them will be facing primaries in six months or so.

    For all that the MSM try to minimise and marginalise the events of the last week and the Tea Parties that led up to them, the Congress critters can count and they know what their local pals are saying.

    We want less indeed!

  • Nuke Gray

    Kevin, do keep having these parties, by all means. Perhaps a permanent tea-party society is in order! After all, Congressors only have long attention-spans if you do!

  • Michael Staab

    My wife and I were among the crowd at Washington D.C. that Saturday. I don’t claim expertise at estimating how many were there, but I’d find any claims that there were only “tens of thousands” there to be far short of the actual numbers. What was also amazing was that these protestors were orderly, and cleaned up the area so that afterwards it was even cleaner than before.
    In answer to your query, those of us who want our government to abide by the constitution are indeed extremists. What a novel concept, a government that actually serves rather than rules!?! I suppose that I might even be extremist enough to demand accountability too!

  • Michael Staab

    My wife and I were among the crowd at Washington D.C. that Saturday. I don’t claim expertise at estimating how many were there, but I’d find any claims that there were only “tens of thousands” there to be far short of the actual numbers. What was also amazing was that these protestors were orderly, and cleaned up the area so that afterwards it was even cleaner than before.
    In answer to your query, those of us who want our government to abide by the constitution are indeed extremists. What a novel concept, a government that actually serves rather than rules!?! I suppose that I might even be extremist enough to demand accountability too!

  • Paul Marks

    Of course there were many other anti big government rallies in various American towns and cities on the same day – perhaps a mistake (as if they had all gone to one place it would have been millions without any doubt).

    Antoine is right about “We want less” being perhaps the best slogan in the Washington march – certainly better than the “Obama=Hitler” banners from the handful of infiltrators (who will turn out to be leftists, as they always do – most likely paid ones as they had professionally made signs and everyone else had hand drawn ones, a mistake the left has made before).

    Of the other marches – my own favourate sign was from the Fort Worth march.

    “The more corrupt the State the more it legislates” – Tacitus.

    Although, no doubt, the so called “mainstream” media would find someway to declare the sign racist.

  • j-t

    So the protests are about more US government involvement in healthcare?!

    Doesn’t the US already have Medicare and Medicaid programmes (for the elderly and the veterans)? Doesn’t this show that the government is already involved in healthcare? So are these anti-“big” government protesters opposed to Medicare and Medicaid too? Would the protesters any feel better if Medicare/Medicaid programmes were cancelled so there are even fewer taxes to pay?

    I know I would hate to live in the US because of the horrendous medical bills (that can lead to personal bankrupcies), overpriced prescription drugs, and all the private insurance companies that are all to eager to deny benefits. Sure, it’s easy for you to protest “big government” in healthcare until you’re in a dire situation personally.

    I tend to think of myself as being more on the right than on the left, but seriously there has to be a balance. As far as healthcare goes, I am for keeping it affordable even if it means government is involved.

    Anybody can get sick, and this sickness can be both infectious and serious (even life-threatening). I think it’s in a country’s national interest that healthcare is universally covered.

    You know TB is an infectious disease that can be spread by air. I don’t think you would want a person sick with TB to get on a crowded rush-hour train because his illness was not detected early enough because he didn’t have health insurance (and didn’t seek treatment early enough).

  • Bod

    j-t, in partial and probably inadequate answer to your points in order.

    Yes, the US has Medicaid and Medicare, neither of which can deliver the levels of coverage to the poor and the aged which were promised. Doctors who provide these services to people are doing so at a loss and are for the most part, recouping part of such shortfalls by providing elective procedures. Perhaps, an administration that wants to provide universal healthcare ought to try and fix the broken programs they currently have, as a proof of concept.

    The VA is a slightly different story, it’s funded as I understand it, out of standard federal appropriations. Some facilities are abominable, some are excellent. But I wouldn’t hold them out as an example of how wonderful state-run healthcare is. (Link)[yeah, sorry, had to resort to Fox News]. It’s worth pondering that if you think it’s hard to appeal against a decision by a health insurance firm, you wanna try and do it with some nameless pencilneck government drone in DC.

    I presume you live in the UK or a similar nation with ‘free’ healthcare, by your comments about the cost of US healthcare. You rail against the ruinous costs of medical care, prescription drugs, and insurance companies eager to deny coverage, and it’s a tired, hackneyed refrain. While medical insurance is costly, basic level coverage in the US is at least as good as the care my family and I were forced to suffer in South London a few years back. The reason prescriptions are ‘expensive’ is because Americans have to pay market rates in a moderately free-market economy, and expect the latest, most efficacious therapies. And most PCPs (primary care physicians, effectively GPs – remember them?) here will gladly prescribe generics if you express a willingness to have them. Furthermore, I welcome you to find a credible news writeup of one of those fabled incidents where an indigent is dumped back in the gutter left to die because he didn’t have a credit card.

    You may consider yourself to be more of the right than the left, and that would be an interesting discussion point if the distinction between US ‘right’ and US ‘left’ political ideology was what you think it is.

    To most Samizdatistas, the ‘balance’ is not one of right vs left, it’s more one of less or more government interference – irrespective of party. Inasmuch as the American ‘Right’ is ‘better’ than the left it’s in that the ‘right’ might just throw people like us a bone from time to time while the left wants to eliminate the kinds of ideas we embrace.

    Just as everyone gets sick, everyone needs food, water, shelter. Prudent people make arrangements to ensure they get the last two. One of the reasons the first is ‘horrendously expensive’ is that again, government interference means that an insurance company and I cannot have a one-to-one discussion about what coverage I might want. If it wasn’t forbidden by law (which is another issue about which some the TEA protesters are protesting), I might want ‘catastrophic coverage only’, with a $200 deductable. I’m reasonably sure I could get that kind of cover for $100/month for my whole family. I have no idea what amount of your payroll tax goes on covering you, but I would add that I doubt that it costs as little to cover you as HM Government tells you. The NHS was set up originally as a fully-funded system. It isn’t operating that way now. That tells me it’s been run at a loss for a long, long time, and at some point, like Medicare here, it’ll be unsustainable, without substantial cutbacks in expenditure, or coverage, or an increase in tax revenues.

    Please, enough with the strawmen re: Tuberculosis. Not only is TB dangerous, there are lots of other illnesses that are dangerous. And by what magical method would a TB sufferer in the London Subway be detected quicker than a sufferer in the NYC Subway?

    To dilute my rebuttal of your post, the US does have a problem with parents electing to not have their kids immunized, and it’s probably easier for a parent to ‘free-ride’ on the protection provided by all the other kids who are immunized. On the other hand, from a practical point of view, I suspect it’s equally easy for a British parent who really doesn’t want their kid immunized to avoid the injection.

    Incidentally, TB outbreaks in both countries often track back to the initial infection point being an adult immigrant. This is a feature of both nations being sought-after domiciles for 3rd world immigration. Legal immigrants to the US are required to submit to elementary screening for TB and a number of other illnesses, and I presume the case is the same for the UK.

    Anyway – even as an illegal immigrant – you can walk into a free clinic or an ER (an A&E) here in America and get a TB shot. Gratis. Don’t even have to sign your name.

    So, in conclusion, the *practical* availability of healthcare to the poor here in the US, for non-trivial complaints, is as good as the UK. For the poor, there’s basic medical coverage from programs which over the long run, are unsustainable at current funding levels (just like the NHS) , and for the more affluent, there’s bells and whistles coverage of varying levels, available at greater cost (picked up by someone other than the government).

    The most effacaceous, newest drugs in the pharmacopeia, being the most expensive are not available thru’ Medicare/Medicaid (just as NICE in the UK is now claming down on ‘expensive’ medications and therapies with unreasonable ROI), but can be bought by the premium coverage (just as people in the UK *can* have BUPA coverage – for a cost)

    You seem to want a ‘balance’ where you end up in a one-size-fits-all deal where government gets to be the final arbiter as to what treatment you recieve – your expectation being that you’ll get a fair deal.

    The problem with that approach is that lots of Americans just don’t believe all that bollocks about government being their servant, working in the public’s best interest – let alone the government being able to allocate precious (and valued) resources effectively. They have as little trust in the government’s good faith as you do in ‘healtcare companies’.

    Which brings us neatly back to the reasons for the TEA Party protests.

  • Kim du Toit

    “Give us less!” is only an extremist position when viewed from the “Give us everything!” perspective.

  • Laird

    Bod’s response to j-t’s post is a good one, but I would like to go a little deeper into j-t’s complaint about “overpriced prescription drugs”. First of all, “overpriced” by what standard? Are you claiming that there is some “true” value of a drug independent of markets? Then you are is merely demonstrating an abysmal ignorance of simple economics.

    I think it is more likely that j-t is using “overpriced” as shorthand for “higher prices than in other countries”, which brings me to the second, and more important, point. The fact that drug prices in the US are higher than in (for instance) Canada is a classic “free-rider” problem. The Canadian government sets the prices which can be charged in that country, and as long as that amount is at least as much as the marginal cost of producing that specific pill it’s worth it to the drug company to sell there. But that is not the true cost of the drug (let alone its “value”), because it ignores all of the research and development costs which went into its creation, as well all the R&D costs of failed drugs (ideas which seemed good but didn’t work out). Those are real costs, and have to be borne by any drug company which is more than a simple manufacturer of generics. If you’re not willing to pay for those costs there won’t be any new drugs developed. The result of Canadian price-setting is that the US consumer is subsidizing the Canadian one for all R&D costs. The Canadian government is essentially stealing from me, and I don’t appreciate it.

    Canada is a relatively small market, so it’s not terribly important (economically) to the drug companies if they can’t recoup development costs there. But what they should do is take the moral high ground and refuse to sell into that market unless they are permitted to charge the real costs of the drug (and make a reasonable profit as well). That’s why I support the idea of eliminating the legal restrictions on re-importation of drugs: not because it will result in lower prices for US consumers, but because it will force the drug companies to do the right thing and stand up to the Canadian government (and any other government which limits pricing).

  • Relugus

    It says much about the stupidity of this website that it is more worried by Acorn than by Goldman Sachs.

    Bush’s big welfare handout to the spongers on Wall Street and the immoral and wasteful imperialist adventure in Iraq, and his abuse of the US constitution, are the most pernicious and fascist examples of “big government” in recent times.

    Why do these protesters support corporate welfare? (they have not spoken against it, and many of them, to their eternal shame, supported the corporatist Bush).
    Where is the demand for Wall Street to give back the money it stole from the US taxpayer?
    As Quentin Hardie remarked, “Wall Street wants the American taxpayer to be its love monkey”. Larry Kudlow and Glenn Reynolds endorsed Wall Streets robbery of the American people.

    The fact that the banks have refused to disclose what they have done with the taxpayers money tells us they are fascist institutions.

    Strange how they suddenly noticed the deficit on January 21st.

    The hypocrisy of these weak-minded and paranoid protesters makes me puke.

  • It says much about the stupidity of this website that it is more worried by Acorn than by Goldman Sachs.

    Halfwit. Do you actually read this site? They protested constantly about corporate welfare under the Bush regime and continued to do so under the Obama regime. And perhaps it can escaped your notice Bush is not in power any more, so most of their discontents are directed at what Obama is doing?

  • Laird

    “Halfwit” is being generous. But I’d like to add that Goldman Sachs merely wants to take a little of our money; Acorn wants to take our entire country.

  • zoltankemeny

    As an addendum to Bod’s first (and excellent) reply to j-t, in America any child who attends public schools is required to get immunized (as soon as they attend elementary school). I think it is up to state regulation of home schooling to decide whether those students are required as well. There was (and still is) a battle in Texas over public schools requiring high school females to get the Human Papilloma Virus vaccination.

  • j-t

    Here is my response to Bod and others…

    I actually live in Canada (quite close to the US border), and it does not bother me one bit that we have a government-run healthcare system in Canada.

    I do know people in the US and I have head about some of the issues with healthcare coverage they have encountered. We also get huge amount of American media, local American news, various American political programs (especially Sunday morning), etc. where I live.

    Let me respond to a number of points

    Regarding “overpriced prescription drugs”… few years back, we had a lot of Americans going to Canada to buy lower priced prescription drugs (or order drugs from online Canadian pharmacies). I don’t know what’s happening now, but clearly market economics don’t apply here because I would expect that US should have lower drug prices with much larger market and competition than Canada. What wrong with this picture?

    In some areas, the US has much worse statistics on prevalence of certain diseases than many other developed countries (for example HIV rate in the US is higher than most of Europe). My example with TB was to illustrate that it doesn’t matter that you “take care of your family and get the right health insurance coverage.” I wanted to illustrate that with healthcare it makes sense to have policies that prevent disease, and this means universal health coverage (to eliminate “cost” as being the factor that prevent people from getting treatment or just seeing a doctor). Yes, there are other factors, but to me it seems an obvious one. I don’t see a problem with the government (or private insurers for that matter if they can insure people efficiently) being involved here.
    The emergency wards are not an answer to healthcare for the poor (I don’t even want to start to explain the problems this creates).

    Lastly, my post was really due to some nearly laughable right-wing conclusions that were drawn about government-run healthcare system on some American TV stations (and Samizdata conveniently had a topic on “less government”). It’s true that “government-run” healthcare can be defined a number of ways as there can be significant differences between countries. Here are some terms I heard being associated with “government-run” healthcare (not so much on Samizdata but on American news):

    “death panels” — this is absolutely ridiculous. In Canada, government doesn’t take an active role in deciding on treatment. It is doctors and patients.

    “lack of choice in a family doctor” — absolutely ridiculous. I know a person who chose a family doctor from the Yellow Pages here. He had no problem getting provincial medicare to pay for treatment or visits.

    “socialism” — this is where I pointed out Medicare program in the US to show the slight hypocrisy. You can’t call everything government-run socialism. Is your public education system also socialist?

    I do understand your points that government healthcare system can have problems too such as long wait-lists for elective procedures, user fees, and so on. Canadian system does have some problems but overall it does work for most people. I think majority of Canadians would not want a private-only system (some Canadians would probably support existance of parallel private healthcare too).

    I guess my point is that you shouldn’t immediately denigrate government-run healthcare on false assumptions or assume that everything government-run is badly run.

  • j-t

    Laird,

    I just noticed your comment. You complaint on subsidies sounds hollow. As if the US (Canadian, or other) government doesn’t subsidize various industries or provides tax breaks to selective industries (which is really a form of subsidy). Probably the most blantant examples of government bailouts occurred recently.

    You are claiming that US is subsidizing Canadian drug prices and are “angry” that Canadians are stealing from you. Canada is one of the largest suppliers of energy and natural resources to the US (http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/Canada/Background.html). I also wonder if Canada is getting fair prices for the resources it sends to the US too. Your portrayal of Canadians as freeloaders is offensive and unjustified.

  • Bod

    j-t

    Well, taking your points in pretty-much the order that you present them; in many case I’ll be working from general principles, because I just don’t know the specifics of the Canadian healthcare system.

    Everyone, but everyone, can cite horror stories and provide glowing recommendations concerning every nation’s health system, even if you factor out the US media’s desire to push everything the current administration wants to enact. You don’t have to go far to find some journalist writing about how wonderful Cuba is!

    Your first substantive issue was the one concerning ‘overpriced drugs’. There are two issues here, Generics and active patent pharma. Nobody gives a tinker’s cuss about generics. The only reason anyone would cross the border to Canada for generics is to buy 222’s because that’s a formulation we can’t get over the counter in the US. The issue is with the medications still inside their patent window, and yes, they are frequently less expensive outside the US for precisely the reasons that Laird gave, and the reason is that the patent gives the manufacturer an absolute monopoly on supply. There is no alternative supplier for the pharmaceutical company to compete with, for that medication. Therefore, no price competition.

    Your TB point was misunderstood in part by me, but what has government supplied healthcare got to do with the management of infectious diseases? To date, the US has not been afflicted with government healthcare for the vast majority of its citizens, yet I’m not aware of epidemics washing thru’ the US that haven’t occurred elsewhere. My insurance company sends me an advisory every year, reminding me to have a flu shot, and take the family too, especially if any of my dependents are over 55 or under 5. And I have my shots. I don’t need the government to demand that I do so. I do it because it’s of benefit to me, and my neighbors.

    You may assert whatever you like about the unsuitability of ERs as ‘healthcare for the poor’, but ERs DO provide emergency treatment to the poor in the US, regardless. And for non-emergency, the US has Medicaid, and many US hospitals are registered charities that provide their own pro-bono services for the poor and indigent. Many of them seem to have no problem with doing so.

    Please don’t misunderstand, many Samizdatistas also like to watch right-wing demogogues trying to scare the masses, so you’re in good company. Please don’t assume that in America, the kind of people who come here are ‘right wingers’. Even if the economic viewpoints of many who come here are nearer to the US ‘right’ than the left, the ‘right-wing’ in America is every bit as statist as the ‘left-wing’. As I noted before, when a US ‘right winger’ talks about reducing the size of government, he’s most likely to be pandering. When a left-winger talks about it … well, they never even try to appeal to us, or haven’t in my memory.

    Anyway, are there “death panels” in Canada? I don’t know. Is there a shortage of resources? I don’t know.

    Will you at least concede the principle that if you have a finite resource where demand for that resource outstrips supply, there are a few things that can be done – those being:
    1. Reduce demand
    2. Increase supply

    The point of the ‘death panel’ discussion was that if the supply of doctors cannot be increased, because the amount of money going to fund the government program is finite, at some point, you will have competition within the system, for a life-saving procedure. Let’s not assume a simple case where it’s competing for one surgeon’s time. Let’s say it’s competition for a donated liver, for transplant. SOMEONE is going to have to decide who gets that liver, and who goes without. Who should make that vital decision? Many Americans – and more every day – are concluding that they don’t want government-appointed personnel making that choice.

    “Lack of choice in a family doctor” – well, your experience in Canada may be different, but some practitioners here in the US have ‘full books’ and can’t/won’t take on more patients. In a true free-market economy, that excess demand would trigger more people going into lucrative careers in medicine over the long run, but it’s not happening, for a number of reasons that would be exacerbated by establishing the US Government as a monopsony.

    And ‘socialism’? Well, the US isn’t quite there yet, and I doubt it will, but you ask whether the US public education system is ‘socialist’ (presumably saving that until last as a rhetorical flourish) – well, around here, many regulars would say yes.

    From a personal point of view, I’d rather not pay the tax, and spend the money on sending my kids to a parochial school where they aren’t indoctrinated by people who think ‘1984’ was an instruction manual rather than a warning. I’d have more control over who their peers are, what they’re taught, and how they’re taught it. But I digress.

    You graciously concede that government systems – including the Canadian system – have problems, but that’s self-evident. Nobody here is claiming (as far as I’ve seen) that an American Government Health Care system will literally be the same as Canada’s, but we are saying that the KINDS of problem which you have admitted are the kinds of problems that they don’t want. And that’s the reason why coming up with all those reasons why to like Canadian healthcare are equally un-useful.

    We don’t see any value in denigrating government health-care systems or government in general on false assumptions. We can do it based on extensive documented evidence of incompetence and unintended outcomes of government policy (regardless of who’s living in 1600 Pennsylvania Av. at the time).

    We are in the ‘fortunate’ position of being able to evaluate Government-run healthcare for the poor, the old, and veterans. And as I noted above, when the finances of the program are run by the government it can’t manage its costs at all, and when the whole thing is run by the govenment, we can’t see how much it costs, and it’s often lousy.

    I don’t think it’s reasonable for government to propose running a universal system when it can’t demonstrate competence in running three smaller ones, but maybe that’s me being wierd. To do so is on a par with people who claim that communism was a great idea that would have worked if Stalin and Mao had “done it right”.

    I know, I’ve Godwinned the thread.
    *sigh*

  • Bod

    And regarding your reaction to Laird’s comment on subsidies – I think that again, you misunderstand your audience – there are few regulars here that support such market interference by Washington (or Westminster). Samizdata’s not a monolithic bloc of Fox News watchers, nor, indeed a monolithic bloc of anything.

    The vital point you seem to miss in your tu quoque is that the natural resources you supply to the the US are commodities, where the prices are set as a result of price discovery in the open (though sadly, not truly free), global market, which is entirely different from the drug market.

    We’re very grateful to Canada for supplying these materials, but we are buying them at exactly the same price that any other market participant would be buying them at.

    To the extent that I disagree with Laird, the drug company that sells those drugs to the Canadian healthcare system is simply attempting to maximize its profits within an existing (oppressive) regulatory environment. Of course, given its druthers, the pharma company would prefer to charge nationalized healthcare systems as much as possible, but they also have the right to sell at a reduced price if they feel it’s in their best interest to do so. Ultimately, the choices they make will affect their profitability, and hence, their share price.

    I’m sorry if you see resistance to universal healthcare by Americans as a criticism of the Canadian healthcare system, but inevitably, being the country-next-door will always invite comparisons since they make such appealing propaganda for both sides.

    In conclusion, whether you find it offensive to be called a freeloader or not, it’s your freely elected government’s national health system that is freeloading, and it’s entirely justified. You’re just the beneficiary.

  • Paul Marks

    j-t lists some (not all, but some) of the government schemes and regulations that make health care expensive in the United States. Specially he lists Medicare and Medicaid – which have had a similar effect to higher education subsidies (see the explosion in tuition fees).

    However, his response to a system in which government spending already amounts to about half of all health spending and where government regulations strangle what is left of civil society is to suggest even MORE government.

    ???????????????????????????????????????????????

    This is not “balance” – this responding to the negative effects of intervention (in this case the high cost of health care) by demanding yet more interventions (which were supposedly reduce the cost of health care).

    By the way – the protest marches were NOT just about health care, they were against the growth of government in general.

    As for the comments of Reg:

    As you have been told before (many times) Goldman Sachs supported the Obama Campaign – and is full of people who support any form of statism (especially bailouts for AIG which wind up in their own pockets) as long as the statism does not threaten them personally.

  • I generally prefer to let the comments flow but Paul Marks raises some points I think need reinforcing.

    I take President Obama’s word for it when he said that:

    1) the protests were not motivated by racism; and
    2) they were mostly motivated by opposition to government as a means of social change.

    He did not win election by some fluke (unlike Bill Clinton) and he is not dumb, unlike some of the people around him and many of his fans.

    I hope most of his policies fail, but the man has talent.