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    7/7/2009
    Burri: From Wal-Mart, a toast to the Lefties

    Wal-Mart. The Sith Lords of unbridled capitalism. Soulless purveyors of Supply and Demand, blindly following wherever profit may lead them. The favored corporate whipping boy of the Left.

    They're not following the script.

    In a letter to President Obama, Wal-Mart joined public employee union SEIU and a Lefty think tank in calling for employer mandates – legal requirements, forcing employers to provide health insurance of some kind, one way or another. They're on board with President Obama’s “public option” health care plan.

    Wal-Mart! On the side of socialized medicine! That's a story that oughta make some heads spin. Keep the political spinmeisters spinning – twisting, turning – until even a circus-freak-Yoga-master cringes at the sight.

    How does a Lefty respond to something like this?

    It’s not easy. On the one hand, a Leftist might want to think: yes! Finally! If even Wal-Mart is trying to deal, then we must have won!

    Or they might think: oh, crap! If Wal-Mart likes it, there must be something wrong. It must not really be socialist, The-Unicorns-and-Fairies-Will-Pay-The-Bill, government health care.

    But on the other hand, not so fast. If anything, this proves that avenging the working class and casting the capitalists down won't be as easy as liberal-slash-“progressives” want it to be.

    See, Wal-Mart might be going along with this – not because they can’t see a way around it, but because it’ll be good for business. Their business. The Heritage Foundation writes:
    Why would Wal-Mart – the nation’s largest employer – endorse such an idea? Simple: It would cripple many of their competitors.
    Smaller companies, Mom & Pop stores. They already can’t compete with Wal-Mart on a day-to-day basis – or so the liberal propaganda goes. They won’t be able to absorb a new cost like this the way Wal-Mart can. Even if costs increase uniformly, Wal-Mart can weather the change far more easily.

    That’s less competition for Wal-Mart. Thus, more profit. Congratulations, Left! You’re helping Wal-Mart make even more money!

    Or, here’s another possibility: Wal-Mart plans to drop their health insurance entirely. “Dump” their employees onto the “public option.”

    Remember, we had this argument a while back, right here in Wisconsin. In his 2006 State of the State Address, Governor Jim Doyle said:
    Even as we expand our commitment to health coverage, we need to make sure that some companies aren’t reducing theirs.

    Wal-Mart is one of the most profitable companies in the world, yet it has more than 1,200 employees and dependents on BadgerCare—far more than any other company in the state. And Wisconsin’s taxpayers are picking up the tab.

    I want to make this very clear to Wal-Mart and any other company that might be thinking of shifting its health care responsibility to taxpayers: BadgerCare is intended to help working families, not multibillion dollar corporations.
    Assuming, first of all, that Wal-Mart is actively “dumping” employees onto government care, why would they? Maybe…because they can. Because the program exists, their employees qualify, and it makes fiscal sense for them to do so.

    Let’s stipulate that it wouldn’t be moral, or right, or justifiable for Wal-Mart to actively withhold benefits they would otherwise provide, in favor of using a government program.

    You can bet: if there’s a “public option” attached to Obamacare; and if that “public option” makes more financial sense for private companies regardless of their size or wealth; those private companies will “dump” their employees onto the public plan. Wal-Mart included.

    Either way, smaller, less-well-funded companies lose. Wal-Mart, comparatively, will win.

    And at the annual meeting, their shareholders will toast the political Left. It'll be their doing, after all.

    Lance Burri is a contributor to the Badger Blog Alliance and The TrogloPundit.




    COMMENTS

    Mr. Burri, the unicorns and fairies line was priceless. LUIC [laugh until i cry]

    Another profitable possibility: Wal Mart might just be considering opening medical clinics in their stores. Doc-in-the-Box. All around the cobbler’s bench, the monkey chased the weasel.

    Looking forward to your next bloggery.

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    timbeaux (Tue Jul 07 07:22:57 2009)

    I work in a building that houses the community clinic. This year over 25,000 people who were uninsured or underinsured came to see a doctor. Many of them are now your neighbors. In these tough economic times people who once had jobs and benefits are in a quandry. Their COBRA benefits have lapsed and they cannot afford private health insurance. These families are the new working poor who through no fault of their own are now without incomes and proper care. Say what you will about Walmart, makes no difference. We need to solve the health care crisis in America. We remain the richest nation on earth why can we not care for our people? Christ told us that whatever we do for the least of our brethren that we do unto him. Perhaps that is the most compelling reason to act to grant health care access to all our citizens.
    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    billie (Tue Jul 07 07:48:49 2009)

    Well, duh! Any time government pokes its nose into business, the result is the small businesses (or farms), going under. Corporations have always used the bully club of government to cripple competitors. Walmart and Aurora Healthcare, at one time, had the bulk of their employees on WI Forward cards, so THEY wouldn't have to pay insurance. (I believe Wallie World may have been required to change by now, but this shows where their heart lies.)

    Both my grown daughters do not have insurance, and they pay their bills as they go...what a novel idea! The problem we have is that in the US, we have a THIRD PARTY PAYER SYSTEM. So people AND providers are removed from the true cost of health care.

    Just think, if you paid your dr. as you would your electrician or plumber, there'd actually be competition. (This is the situation we had in America, way before the govt. got involved, and before insurance was seen as something to use for everyday common dr. visits, instead of for catastrophic events only.) Insurance companies wouldn't be paying for useless surgeries (US has the highest hysterectomy rate there is). There wouldn't be a third party to suck everyone's money into a "paperfull mountain".

    If everyone had "national car insurance" or "national home insurance", we'd think it was ridiculous! But people go all drooly over "national health insurance".

    As to practical suggestions, for everyone here, I have a few, if you're willing to educate yourself.
    1. Go to www.mercola.com, where he does an excellent job of illustrating how GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT is what actually makes costs go up.

    2. Go to whiskeyandgunpowder.com, and read the one-and-only article I wrote on there, which gives facts that few know, such as how WHO rates countries' health systems.

    3. Watch the movie "Corporation", and try to find the article "Murder by Injection". (I downloaded it from somewhere on the net years ago. It recounts how this mess started with the Rockefellers in the 1800s.)

    4. Read "The Untold Story of Milk", especially the chapter where it talks about how the big dairies got the govt to pass "health standards" that were nothing about health, and all about wiping out competition.

    5. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR--YOU MIGHT GET IT!

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    emily matthews (Tue Jul 07 09:03:24 2009)

    Thanks, Tim!

    Billie, are you saying those 25,000 people were turned away? If they were, there are other avenues for them to access health insurance and health care.

    You say: "grant health care access to all our citizens." But all our citizens already have health care. It may not always be easy to get to. It may not always be the absolute best care. But everyone has it. The health care debate isn't about access - it's about payment. Who will pay? The "universal" in universal health care refers to insurance, not care.

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Lance (Tue Jul 07 09:03:51 2009)

    The idea that WalMart is going to dump their employees on Obamacare does not connect to today's reality in any way, shape, or form. At one time my family was WalMart employed and I can say with great certainty that the health care packages offered to our family were among the most affordable and the widest variety of our married life.

    Instead, I suggest that they are only trying to attain a level playing field. WalMart has done the right thing by trying to find a variety of solutions so their associates can select the option which is best for their situation. Retaining an employee by putting forth a reasonable plan to help employees meet their needs is far more cost efficient then continually having to replace the good ones who move on to a better situation. WalMart 'gets that' (in our experience) and I believe they see this as an opportunity to force their competitors into a position where employers who are short-changing their staff now have to do the right thing as well, whether it be directly with employer-provided plans or indirectly with the public option.

    We don't always have to look for the worst in a corporation or speculate about their agenda. Sometimes people within an organization (even one as big as WalMart) can simply strive for doing right by others.


    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Jeff Riedl (Tue Jul 07 09:06:56 2009)

    If health care is a right, that means I have a right to the product of another person's labor. But if I have no right to the first nickel I produce, what legal or moral principle will protect my last?

    emily is right. The more goverNMEnt got involved, the more expensive ans screwed up health care became. Our buddy Jack likes to point to medicare as a shining example of "efficient" health care delivery, but he forgets that hospital bureaucrats bear the cost of much of the burueacracy, just as if the care was paid for by private insurance. AND he forgets that medicare pays less than cost, which means that meidicare drives up the price to those of us who do not use it. I could go on and on.

    This one is for billie: So why did not Christ simply go to Ceasar, and get HIM to institute a welfare/healthcare program? Might have something to do with A. people taking responsibility for their own lives to the extent they are able B. He recognized that government plans skew incentives, create even more "need" for more government help, and C. passing it on to government was never part of his plan for making the world a better place. He apparently preferred working thru individuals to help each other, not governments to help individuals.

    I would go for a government health care option if YOU would allow me and any and all providers the freedom to opt out, and be free from supporting the public option by reducing our tax burden proportionately. But clearly, socialism and freedom are mutually exclusive.

    As something of a dissident, nothing would frighten me more than having my life put at mercy of government burueacrats.

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Ken Van Doren (Tue Jul 07 09:25:57 2009)

    So once again Burri is out of his element. No, it’s not socialized medicine or anything else along liberal lines, it is corrupt politics. But heaven forbid we call it correctly. The $46 million in insurance industry campaign contributions did exactly what they were supposed to do; bought politicians.

    Mandated insurance policies are paid for mostly by the people, not the government. Cash dollars will be transferred from the people to special interests, one of the biggest wealth transfers in history and your favorite politician is getting a share of it.

    And why would Walmart favor it? For one reason, they will be in the insurance business overnight and make hefty broker commissions. For another, as Tim suggests, they already have plans for retail clinics and they want insured people, not those without coverage.

    Yea, Walmart will get its share, but only after the politicians get theirs.

    Even Walmart’s own employees will have to buy insurance and likely from their own employer. And the government will subsidize some of it, so the wealthier will see an increase in taxes, all to go into the pockets of the insurers and Walmart and the politicians.

    How are you liking our political system so far? Isn’t corruption neat? They do it in Columbia and Mexico and Afghanistan and Somalia and, and, well, virtually everywhere. That’s the way the game is played, and our right wingers just love it.

    This whole thing this is sort of stupid. I don’t know if Burri has ever designed a product or corporation, but I would hope that he’d be smarter than our politicians when designing our political system.

    The smartest thing we could do is pass a single-payer healthcare system. Call it socialized medicine if you wish, but health care should become a part of our infrastructure and not be an employer burden. Over 15% of employers’ wages are health care, and they are sending jobs out of the country as a result. $6500 per employee per year here, versus $800 in Canada and zero in other countries. How’s that sound, Lance?

    The bottom line is that the insurance bureaucracy is draining 31% of our health care dollars and not adding one iota of value. That money should be spent on health care instead. For the same dollars we are spending today, 16.5% of GDP, we could provide first-class Cheney-care to 100% of our people. Yes, call it “socialized,” but we’d be paying for it anyway and this way we are paying less and saving our corporations in the process. Pragmatism over idealism, not Left over Right.

    And Ken, you absolutely do not know what you are talking about. If Medicare paid less than cost I’d not have my doctor nagging me to come in for my yearly physical. But they DO pay at a fair reimbursement level, or doctors would quit taking Medicare patients (and I mean ALL doctors, not just the few who like draining the private insurers). But their rates are based on labor plus technology costs plus geography. They do not, however, pay at the higher private rates which insurers allow because they just charge it back to employers. And those higher rates offset charity care and bad debt costs which would not exist in a Medicare-for-all system.

    But you just keep talking anyway. You really, really do sound smart.

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Jack Lohman (Wed Jul 08 06:02:39 2009)

    "...health care should become a part of our infrastructure and not be an employer burden."

    Oh, you mean like...roads? Utilities? Jack, the deeper government gets into something, the more power politicians have over it. The more power politicians have, the more power lobbyists and campaign cash have. That's your calculus, not mine. If you think campaign money is a problem in health care, then you should want government OUT.

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Lance Burri (Wed Jul 08 09:04:40 2009)

    No Lance, we need campaign corruption out of our political system, and we need greedy CEOs and shareholders out of health care. If you wanted to start with a national non-profit run by administrators and not owned by a for-profit entity, like the Red Cross but funded by taxpayers, I'd buy into that. But it has to be run humanely, not for profit, and the calls have to be made by doctors, not lay people.
    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Jack Lohman (Wed Jul 08 09:13:34 2009)

    Jack, did you even read anything of what I said? Did you go to the websites? Are you willing to educate yourself? Start at mercola.com and read how govt. involvement only drives up prices for everyone!

    For goodness sake, it was CONGRESS that started us on this stupid insurance ride! YES, they froze wages during WWII, and so companies started offering catastrophic insurance to tempt workers, as they weren't ALLOWED to offer higher wages, and it snowballed from there.

    ALL THE PROBLEMS WE HAVE ARE DUE TO THE FACT THAT WE HAVE MIDDLEMEN PAYING THE BILLS, whether that middleman is the govt or an insurance company. I'll add one more thing to my list: read the book "Ten Things You Can't Say in America", the chapter detailing how our health care went downhill due to govt involvement. (And you should also read my article which mentions how WHO "rates" healthcare in countries.)

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    emily matthews (Wed Jul 08 09:54:09 2009)

    Of course Emily, and though I am on Mercola's mailing list I don't believe everything he says. But I do like taking medicine back to the 1900's as you suggest. Everybody on their own. True competition. And when one doctor says you need a heart transplant and the other says "if you stick with me I can cure you with aspirin," well, you got your choice, don't you.

    No, I've been in the health care industry for 40 years, I think I have accumulated a bit of knowledge.

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Jack Lohman (Wed Jul 08 10:11:44 2009)

    So you think that a taxpayer-funded, national, universal health plan can exist without governmental meddling. That's some real Unicorn-and-Fairy talk right there, Jack.

    You want to diminish the role of money in politics, you have to diminish the role of politics in life.

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Lance (Wed Jul 08 12:49:11 2009)

    Lance, I have never believed that political meddling is good, and you know that. But I also know that the meddling is necessary if politicians are going to satisfy the special interests that fund their elections, and thus the need for public funding of campaigns. But that provides zero excuse not to do the best thing possible under our corrupt system.

    IF the right wing were also as sensitive to political corruption, and politicians were hearing objections from both factions, they'd fix it. But as long as they have one faction patting them on the back we are in for a long fight.

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Jack Lohman (Wed Jul 08 16:42:33 2009)

    Jack, it is kind of like Reagan said: It is not so much that our opponents are ignorant, it is that so much of what they know just is not true.

    I have tried repeatedly to point out the fallacies of your argument, and yet it just does not sink in. You will NOT diminish the bureuacracy just by replacing one third party payer with another.

    YOU WILL NOT get the politics out of medicine by making medicine a part of the political machine, that is, government.

    YOU REFUSE to see the role government has played in getting us to where we are. The lawsuits, the mountain of regulations, the deferral of Medicare costs to others in the system, because government only pays a portion of true costs.

    And you DO NOT account for all the reasons why medical care in the US is more expensive (see list above, among others.)

    I see you interjected a little pre-emptive blast at me. Here is one back:

    Jack says:
    "But you just keep talking anyway. You really, really do sound smart."

    Upon analyzing the facts, Jack, you do not sound all that smart, and it is YOU who do not know what you are talking about.

    If so, how about this argument. You and others say we spend twice as much on medical care as other countries. And it is widely known that governments in the US ALREADY pay for about half of all medical care. So why do you NOT suggest that those of us in the private pay sector, stop paying altogether, since government ALREADY pays what other socialized countries do?

    I think even you can see that this would lead to chaos, would not be acceptable to very many of the players.

    Want to reduce the cost of medicine? Want to keep politics out of it? Simple, KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF IT!

    Now add that when the politicians, that is, the taxpayers, pay, they will have even more incentive to abridge our freedom. Why? Because they are paying the bill, and they have an incentive to limit costs. (Or is it that they have a justification to abridge the liberty they do not like?) Like to play football? Soccer? Mountain climb? Skydive? Scuba dive? Even playing tennis can be hard on your joints. There is virtually no decision that an individual can make that does not affect medical risk. YOU REAALLY want to have the government have even more say over your life? Sorry, not I. And as something of a dissident, I have great apprehension over agents of the same government I criticize having power of life and death over me.

    But I will tell you what Jack, Let us make a deal. I will let you have your socialized medicine, you let me be free to have my private medicine. Just let me also be free of the taxes needed to support the socialized side of the system. And let all providers likewise be free to be a part of your dream or free to opt out. Doctors, hospitals, clinics, all of them. Some might have both a free market side, and a socialized side, if they desire, but let them be free to choose.

    Again, I have not heard you endorse the idea of choice, of freedom, of allowing your system to compete with a free market system. I suspect it is because, as one social commentator observed, "Inside every socialist is a bit of a dictator."

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Ken Van Doren (Wed Jul 08 16:59:35 2009)

    Ken, this is about the fourth time you have dropped your bomb and fled the scene. And I have responded and never heard back from you. I will not waste my time again unless you are willing to stay and talk. Let me know, otherwise you are wasting your time throwing your bombs.
    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Jack Lohman (Wed Jul 08 17:24:20 2009)

    Sorry, Jack, some of us have lives and need to produce a dirty word-profit-so we can support our families.

    IF and when you address the points I make, do you REALLY do so factually and logically? I think not.

    And you still have not addressed the issue of freedom in any material way. Or does that not matter to you?

    Sorry, have another errand to run, so no, I will not sit by the computer, awaiting your reply. But I will check back.

    And why do we not sit back a year or so, and see how well Obama INC. runs auto companies. Might be a good indication as to how efficiently medical services will be provided...Tho the long list of government failures is substantial enough to make a pretty good guess.

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Ken Van Doren (Wed Jul 08 17:33:59 2009)

    Okay, Ken, we won't agree but here goes. I am a moderate, center righter and you are a far-right Libertarian. I too support the constitution but realize that the framers missed some areas and we've had to fill in over the years. They got most of it right, they just didn't get it all. It has taken some thinking out of the box, some of which has been good and some terrible. I think they failed to tie the knot on freedom of speech, as it allows political bribes and they should have had a whole section on ethics and campaign funding.

    Many of us believe in "we the people" and some believe in "me the person." Some of us are compassionate conservatives and others too conservative with our compassion. I think the politicians got most of Medicare right, though there are areas that rely too much on the honesty of people. But of course, Libertarians are that way too. If this were a perfect world with perfect people we wouldn't need laws and regulations. But it isn't and we do.

    Government got us to where we are because government is owned by real-life people: CEOs and wealthy contributors. The politicians are just there to carry out the orders. So your love affair with 'private" is misplaced, it controls the "public."

    There are many things that cause health care costs to be so high. Half is consumed by the private insurance bureaucracy (31%) and by overuse, abuse and fraud (20%). About 1/2 of 1% by medical malpractice claims, but the resulting CYA tests add over 5% to that. And yes, I have written about changes needed to get health costs down here: Ten needed fixes for the health care system

    >>> "Upon analyzing the facts, Jack, you do not sound all that smart, and it is YOU who do not know what you are talking about."

    Yes Ken, my wife says the same thing so you are in good company. Yes the governments provide half the "care" in the US, but it would take a thorough study to determine what percent of dollars they spend. Yes, the Medicare patient is more costly because 70% of healthcare costs are consumed by people in their last months of life. I suppose we could just shut the old people out and make you happy. But as costly as Medicare is on a per-person basis, if 100% of the people were in that system we'd spend $400 billion per year less than we are spending today.

    >>> "I will let you have your socialized medicine, you let me be free to have my private medicine."

    Boy, if I thought for a moment that when you became unemployed or hit by an unexpected and costly illness in your family, or when you got old and frail, we could count on you not then wanting to hop onto the public dole, I'd jump on the idea. But we'd then have to cast you out on the street, and at least in this country, most of us are not that cruel. (Remember that I only said "most" of us.)

    And finally, Ken, there is no such thing as competition in healthcare.

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Jack Lohman (Wed Jul 08 19:30:23 2009)




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