Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Barack O'Java

Or: The Communist's Coffee Cup
  (+9, -19)(+9, -19)
(+9, -19)
  [vote for,
against]

Since the properties of fluids so aptly lend themselves to equal distribution...

A system of coffee distribution lines running into every house from a centrally located coffee reservoir. Each distribution line terminates at an equal distance above ground level, onto which can be attached: The Communist's Coffee Cup, by way of a valve fitting at the bottom of the mug.

If you want coffee in the morning, you need only brew up a pot, take the coffee to your regional distribution center, pour it in then wait patiently by your designated cup for everyone else to pitch in.

MikeD, Mar 09 2010

Hot beverage district heating Hot_20beverage_20district_20heating
Similar ... [8th of 7, Mar 09 2010]

TWO CUPS MAD Two_20Cups_20Of_20Coffee
No idea about the caps, it just seemed right at the moment. [blissmiss, Mar 09 2010]

The Coffee Party http://coffeepartyusa.com/
The socialist/liberal countermovement to the teaparty. Believes that government can work. [jutta, Mar 10 2010]

Red Bush Tea http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rooibos
The middle "W" is silent ... [8th of 7, Mar 10 2010]

NPR April 1 1996 Starbucks Coffee Pipeline story http://www.npr.org/...php?storyId=5293443
[nomocrow, Mar 10 2010]

Snow-cialism http://articles.bal...al-health-care-snow
A quick guide to the flaws in socialism, and in the human condition. [RayfordSteele, Mar 11 2010]

[link]






       Hmmm, an instance of a case where it's absurd to perform collective action.   

       [later edit] Consider the equally but oppositely absurd example of wanting a cup of coffee, so personally building a means of transport from items you had previously collected and going to a place where you had personally discovered had coffee beans, then picking some, heading home and performing a roasting/grinding process using a fire and grinding tool(s) that you had built yourself, then going down to the nearest stream, to fill up with enough water for your drink, taking that back home and boiling it using fuel that you had personally gathered yourself, and finally making your very own, personal cup of coffee - entirely independently of anyone else.   

       Consider also the problems that occur in any local-collective coffee pot scenario. It only takes a couple of people to realise that someone else is finishing off the coffee without brewing a refill and have "words" and a new revolution in coffee-based utopia is dawned - to each, their caffeine, according to their need. And anyone wanting any of that flavoured crap can f*ck off and make their own.
zen_tom, Mar 09 2010
  

       I imagine it would be the best tasting cup of coffee one ever had, [ZT].
MikeD, Mar 09 2010
  

       Ha, well that may be true too! But you'd need to personally invest at least 1-2 years of your life in order to enjoy a single cup. A sort of caffene-motivated Haj. We might be on to something here.
zen_tom, Mar 09 2010
  

       Problem is, everyone around here drinks TWO CUPS OF COFFEE, or none at all.
blissmiss, Mar 09 2010
  

       //TWO CUPS OF COFFEE// heretic
pocmloc, Mar 09 2010
  

       In Russia the cities usually used centralized steam systems for their hot water. In locations where permafrost was an issue this meant huge pipes that ran alongside of highways and had to be diverted up and over every street crossing. Of course the system was down for maintenance seemingly 9 days out of 10 and the water would be cold anyway by the time it reached your tub. This is one reason I suspect why Russians don't have long life expectancies.
RayfordSteele, Mar 09 2010
  

       Let no person go without coffee. This is Utopia.   

       {Shame I hate coffee}.
Jinbish, Mar 09 2010
  

       [IT], the idea hit me whilst listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. That should clear things up, yes?
MikeD, Mar 09 2010
  

       I've always wondered who or what Rush Limbaugh is/was. I'd assumed it was some sort of speed-based competition to dance underneath progressively lowered poles, but this wouldn't make sense on the radio.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 09 2010
  

       Why not ? If you had a big enough radio, there would be room for the poles and the stands. One of those big 1950's radiograms would do.
8th of 7, Mar 09 2010
  

       [-] for being a thinly disguised reference to party politics in a country thousands of miles away.
Wrongfellow, Mar 10 2010
  

       [-] Don't like the political agenda and, to be honest, the idea.
DrWorm, Mar 10 2010
  

       yeh, don't mix politics with my morning Java. it's just wrong.
dentworth, Mar 10 2010
  

       First, this was an NPR April 1st joke, and is no way original. So, [marked-for-deletion] bad science, bad form, whatever.   

       Second, calling the President of the United States a communist is exactly the sort of inaccurate, fuck-brained characterization that a drug-addled blowhard like Rush would do, and is really just thinly-veiled advocacy.   

       Third, you guys ran a perfectly good economy into the ground over the course of eight years (so you do in fact owe us several cups of coffee), but your overall ability to fuck up a two-car funeral procession kind of says something about your ability to pull something like this off.
nomocrow, Mar 10 2010
  

       this political failure might have been funnier if you had used TEA.
AutoMcDonough, Mar 10 2010
  

       "...two car funeral procession."heh, I like that, never heard before. (And true).
blissmiss, Mar 10 2010
  

       // First, this was an NPR April 1st joke
Hm! I don't remember that one. Do you have details or a reference? [Later: awesome! Thanks!]
jutta, Mar 10 2010
  

       "Red Bush Tea, anyone ?"
8th of 7, Mar 10 2010
  

       This would be hideously impractical for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the incredible ease with a which one could contaminate the coffee supply either by accident or intentionally with disease or poison. Second of all the coffee would likely be stale or lukewarm upon it's arrival. Beyond all that the morning commute to put your coffee in would be so prohibitive that most people would likely cheat the system, consuming their own coffee instead of putting it into the communal pot. A better idea would be to collect the components of the coffee (the beans and water), use them to prepare the coffee at a central location and then distribute it through a national grid type coffee system. Even then, however, the maintenance of the system would make it cost prohibitive. And how would you get people to sign up for your coffee system? Actually if you charged them a small subscription fee per month and then sent them really great coffee you would probably get a modest following, but the timing of the delivery could be an issue. What's with the name? It doesn't make any sense.
Postscript, Mar 10 2010
  

       [Jutta] April 1, 1996. Starbuck's billion-dollar coffee slurry pipeline.
nomocrow, Mar 10 2010
  

       //This would be hideously impractical for a number of reasons.//   

       OK, [+] for that point alone.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 10 2010
  

       //third, you guys...//   

       A bit tribalistic there, don't you think, <nomocrow>   

       I've always thought that "to each according to his need" would serve best as a whorehouse slogan.   

       Great link, jutta!
theircompetitor, Mar 10 2010
  

       //"To each according to his need" would serve best as a whorehouse slogan.// No, "To each according to his ability to pay" would serve best as a whorehouse slogan.   

       //The Coffee Party ... Believes that government can work.// With enough coffee, *anything* can be made to work.
mouseposture, Mar 10 2010
  

       // With enough coffee, *anything* can be made to work. //   

       Not coffee; gaffer tape.
8th of 7, Mar 10 2010
  

       <voice of Tim the Enchanter> Look at the bones! <voTtE/>   

       I leave the HB for one day and this happens?   

       //calling the President of the United States a communist is exactly the sort of inaccurate, fuck-brained characterization ...//   

       This government *is* taking huge strides towards socialism, which is but a stone's throw away from communism which, last I checked, doesn't work.   

       I figured requiring every coffee cup to be on a level *plane would have been the first attack...
MikeD, Mar 11 2010
  

       No, "to each according to his ability to pay" is the reality of the whorehouse. Slogans are used for marketing. Look that up. It's an important point.
theircompetitor, Mar 11 2010
  

       [theircompetitor] I bow to your superior expertise in the fields of marketing and prostitution.
mouseposture, Mar 11 2010
  

       //marketing and prostitution// redundant that.
FlyingToaster, Mar 11 2010
  

       finally, someone who understands :)
theircompetitor, Mar 11 2010
  

       I feel like Nicholas Parsons: I deliver the set-up line, and FlyingToaster gets the laugh ;}
mouseposture, Mar 11 2010
  

       No worries <mouseposture> you had me at hello :)
theircompetitor, Mar 11 2010
  

       Well, there's actual communism, and American Communism. The second one is just a general way of saying "Ewww, don't like. Nasty. Nasty" when used in this way by an American it doesn't actually carry any meaning further than the emotional charge - that's what 50 years of constant propaganda does to a country. As for communism not working, check the US national debt, and who owns most of it, and then look up "China" in the "List of Countries for Whom Communism seems to be working out just fine right now" it might be interesting.   

       And the American government simply isn't "taking huge steps towards socialism" - not in a historical sense (compare post depression policies of the 1920's thru 1940's) and not in a comparative sense (lots of other countries have higher tax rates than the US - assuming the general formula where
higher tax = more communism (although we have to accept that formula by itself does suggest: some tax = some communism )
While it's evident that the market is the best and most efficient method for controlling the distribution of resources in *some* cases - it is by no means the case that it is the best and most efficient method for controlling the distribution of resources in *all* cases.
  

       Coffee as you describe it *is* a case where a massive infrastructural investment in order to provide a framework for communual coffee sharing probably isn't an ideal use of limited resources - but other big infrastructural jobs paid for by the government have been pretty big successes - The Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Damn, Going to the Moon (for f*ck's sake, how Communist was that!!) the Army, Navy and Air Forces, I mean really?   

       Say your country is at war. Are you suggesting with your coffee analogy that people should all individually raise their pitchforks and make their individual ways over to Afghanistan/Iraq to cause some grief? Or is it *more effective* to organise those forces into a Cohesive Unit? And what's the best way of doing that? Using the laissez faire power of the free market? Or using a traditional top-down centrally-organised authoritative command structure?
zen_tom, Mar 11 2010
  

       I guess one would have to define what is meant by "works" for any political system. But if the general question is whether "to each according to his need", with state driven redistribution, brought about meaningful well being for any meaningful size of population, than no, Communism did not and does not work. Whereas greed, for all its faults, can be shown to have gotten us quite far from our cave origins.   

       For my progressive friends, arguing against that point is not like arguing against global warming -- It's more like arguing against evolution. In fact, it's precisely arguing against evolution.   

       No government on Earth is a perfect implementation of some political idea, and the US is perhaps as far from an Ayn Rand vision as North Korea or China is from Marx's (in their different ways, obviously).   

       But as a general concept, redistribution of wealth, which is practiced to some degree by all the nations on the planet, has built in limitations because of the famous (recently) "Moral Hazard" that it introduces.   

       Even the "progressives" that run our government understand some degree of Moral Hazzard -- hence the mandate to buy health insurance in the proposed legislation that is being fought over -- without the mandate, those who are healthy won't seek insurance until they are sick.   

       Capitalism presumes -- correctly - that self interest is the best driver and predictor of behavior. But it does not presume the absence of common purpose, so the Army analogies are flawed. From a purist's perspective, in the US at least -- the purposes of government are spelled out in the Constitution, so an Army is a manifestation of the common defense -- or the price of citizenship. Coffee, on the other hand, is still a privilege.
theircompetitor, Mar 11 2010
  

       [Zen], you seem to be taking an all or nothing view of the political structures in question. If you are insinuating that I am proposing a society (or better, a lack thereof) which no one relies on anyone else, you would be wrong. Man, unfortunately, is a social creature, and combined efforts are more conducive to quality of living then individual effort, but this is not a black and white scenario. Government is a continuum of the inverse corollary between freedom and security.   

       Why should the government of the United States of America stray so far from the philosophy on which it was founded? John Locke's contractual theory of government states that the government should be no more intrusive than is necessary to provide the most basic of security to it's constituents.   

       The biggest problem I see with society, now-a-days, is that it has strayed so far from our biological foundations. I.E. : Women not staying at home to nurture, men staying at home instead of working, men marrying men, no child left behind (at the cost of holding all the other children back), OSHA making employment in the U.S. exceed acceptable cost benefit ratios, etc, etc, ad nauseum.   

       Your collectivistic utopia is about as far removed from the nature of the human being as one can possibly get, [ZT]. If it is you and me stuck on an island, I will work congenially with you as long as it is to *my* advantage. But the moment I deem it is necessary for *my* survival, [ZT], I will kill you, dismember you and cook you on a spit. And anyone is a god damn liar if they say otherwise. Your genes are not worthy of propagation if they do not contain the drive for self preservation, because self preservation is, in itself the gestalt of life.
MikeD, Mar 11 2010
  

       Hey, you're confusing me with someone who has a "collectivist utopia" - all I'm pointing out is the scientific fact that the market doesn't always produce the best results - ask an economist. I am all for the free market - I think it works, and it works very often. What I'm against is this emotional, ideological fact-free labelling of anything that doesn't always 100% agree with the free market as "Communism". That is woolly thinking propaganda. Nature is predominately "free-market" but not exclusively. Collectivism isn't evil - and nor was the US founded on the sole concept of individualism to the exclusion of everything else - "E pluribus unum" is pretty collectivist isn't it? Is that evil too?   

       You suggested that I'm seeing things in black and white - so you must be missing my point - which is that there isn't any black and white (i.e. it's not a case of Free Market = Good, Collectivism = Bad (which is how you were coming across)) it's shades of grey all the way. And while there are always going to be examples where the free market *does* provide the best way to organise an economy - that doesn't mean that it *always* provides the best way to organise an economy. Your desert island scenario† (like your coffee one) is an example (perhaps) of a situation where every man for himself does apply. And I'm not arguing against that - in those instances, you may be right - and I am not saying that isn't often the case. All I'm saying is that it isn't *always* the case. It's a subtle distinction, but it is an important one.   

       †Counter Desert Island Scenario - two groups of people live on the desert island. One is a platoon of combat troops who all report up a chain of command, and share resources according to a central plan - like in a communist state. The other "group" is a loose affiliation of non-cohesive ninjas.   

       In a conflict, who gets roasted on the spit?   

       Each ninja is on their own, and despite their wicked flipping out skills is unlikely to prevail over the overwhelmingly large force. Meanwhile, by working as a team, the platoon are more likely to achieve greater things.   

       N.B. By being able to conjure up a single (or even a string) of scenarios where collectivism works better than individualism doesn't make me a collectivist - nor does it prove that collectivism is "better" (just as coming up with instances where individualism works better doesn't prove that it always works better)
zen_tom, Mar 11 2010
  

       //For my progressive friends, arguing against that point is not like arguing against global warming -- It's more like arguing against evolution. In fact, it's precisely arguing against evolution. //   

       And this isn't correct either. There are plenty of examples in evolution where cooperation at some level proved to be a more effective strategy than invididualist competition. Take multi-celled organisms (like us) we are the product of a paradigm shift in single-celled, specialised reproducers grouping together to form a more effective type of organism altogether. And there are plenty of examples where creatures have evolved to be social animals capable of working in a group. To deny this is just nonsense. To say that evolution is 100% socialisation is nonsense too - it's both. It's a balance between the forces of individualisation and socialisation - why is that self-evident truth so hard to accept?
zen_tom, Mar 11 2010
  

       Is this a good time to mention ants?
DrBob, Mar 11 2010
  

       Only if they are French and have pens.
coprocephalous, Mar 11 2010
  

       [zt] if you're going to give an example of communism using two groups of people which organizations are decidedly non-communist in any way shape or form, at least get it right:   

       The accepted proper comparison is ninjas vs. pirates
FlyingToaster, Mar 11 2010
  

       it's a good time to mention ants if you want to live underground and have to glance upward constantly in fear of being stepped on when you venture outside. The whole point of this disagreement is that you should give a fuck about not being stepped on, and not about the colony. The colony will do best, over time, by every ant being careful and working hard.   

       [z_t] -- do not confuse cooperation and "social" with socialism. Take a topic I know something about :) -- social games. Don't confuse Farmville with collective farming. 100 Million people play Farmville (village) -- pretty social. How many will play a game called Collective Farm?   

       The best balance is probably the result of competing self-interests and regardless of what you call any political structures that we were in on the way, it's how we got to where we are.   

       It is no more a surprise that people don't want stuff taken away from them than it is a surprise that people want stuff given to them. But in the same way that the test subject will keep pressing the pleasure button, someone has to be there to build the button.
theircompetitor, Mar 11 2010
  

       Mike, you'd like this article on 'snow-cialism' I've posted.
RayfordSteele, Mar 11 2010
  

       //The accepted proper comparison is ninjas vs. pirates//
I thought it was clowns vs. mimes?
coprocephalous, Mar 11 2010
  

       In a tag-team, would the clowns prefer the ninjas or the pirates?   

       I'm thinking ninjas and mimes (both groups deadly silent), teaming against the pirate/clown syndicate, (fans of colorful outfits).   

       Ian, you might find that article interesting, also.
RayfordSteele, Mar 11 2010
  

       I resemble that brai... remark, Ian, as someone who has lived on both sides of the Curtain, I think I'm as qualified as anyone to judge how it has impacted me -- and I'm fairly convinced I know.   

       Anything typed here, by anyone, is necessarily a simplification, and a fairly enlightened argument can be made that self interest includes clean water, or not having to stumble upon the homeless poor as you walk the street.   

       I'm not for throwing mama off the train, either, or some sort of Darwinian feeding frenzy. I'll even acknowledge that the "C" word is used as a lightning rod by many on the right -- but it doesn't make the leanings of the current US govt. any more centrist, by our definition, nor does it mean that opposing it is somehow less than intelligent ( a technique used as a lightning rod by many on the left).   

       Redistribution of wealth makes sense so long as it keeps the peasants with the pitchforks out of the garden, but not when it moves a couple of peasant families into your house and you're in the Gulag, which is where the Soviets ended up.
theircompetitor, Mar 11 2010
  

       //Don't confuse Farmville with collective farming//
But collective farming is a "game" played by most modern farmers today in that small peasant holdings are less economically viable than large industrialised farms that benefit from economies of scale and the adoption of mechanised techniques. (The fact that the early Soviet attempt at reforming their peasant-based agricultural base was done brutally and without subtlety is another matter - the US has effectively the same system (great big farms) only its collectivisation was brought about by the tough economics of the Great Depression and "Dust Bowl" phenomenon - no less unpleasant just an (inevitable) accident of nature as opposed to a planned intervention. To put it another way, there's nothing exceptionally Soviet about the aim of collectivised farming, i.e. to adopt modern farming methods in order to increase productivity. The only "Communist" (lightning-rod version) thing going on is the brutality applied to the peasants in order to get them to adopt the policy. The same amount of brutality was applied to the American Peasantry, only it was meted out by the twin forces of Mother Nature and economics - the end results were the same either way.
  

       People participating with a thinly veiled advert distribution system (Farmville) is something else entirely.   

       //Redistribution of wealth makes sense so long as it keeps the peasants with the pitchforks out of the garden// Excellent point - I couldn't agree more. Moral hazard aside - it is economically more efficient to distribute a little wealth than it is to employ your own army of security guards. The tricky part is figuring out the mood of the peasants without getting them too excited†. Given that it's an inexact science, maybe it makes sense to err on the side of caution, no?   

       †Going back to MikeD's desert island scenario, if I know that he's going to kill and eat me as soon as he starts getting too hungry, isn't it in my best interests to feed him the occasional bone? (Assuming of course that I have bones to spare)   

       And isn't it that which is the real question here?
Which is more efficient; to redistribute, or enforce?
  

       I'm not interested in any argument (from either side) unless it directly addresses that question. Sometimes the answer is one way, and sometimes the answer is another - and often the answer is both.
zen_tom, Mar 11 2010
  

       But government versus economic enforcement is the whole crux of the argument, isn't it?   

       There are any number of studies that we are too optimistic and misjudge risk/reward ratios -- it's why we buy lottery tickets and gamble. But government cannot ever fix it -- evolution may, eventuuuuualy.   

       Government is smarter when it swims with rather than against the current. That's not an argument for following public opinion -- it's an argument for taking human nature and unintended consequences into account when affecting the lives of its citizens in major ways. Like the health care thing -- it's made me say to my college age daughter -- you'd be crazy to become a doctor, become a lawyer -- what's the consequence of that kind of decision, multiplied?
theircompetitor, Mar 11 2010
  

       //isn't it in my best interests to feed him the occasional bone? //

Leaving aside the obvious double entendre potential, I would say not. It would be better to kill and eat MikeD on day 1. This relieves you of both your security worries and means that the islands resources will last twice as long, making it more likely that you will survive until the rescue ship turns up. I'm not sure if this really adds anything to the debate but there you go.
DrBob, Mar 11 2010
  

       //But government versus economic enforcement is the whole crux of the argument, isn't it?// [tc] yes, or at least it should be - we just have to get past all of the incendiary language first.   

       So ideologies aside, assuming we're talking about healthcare in the US - the question we should be asking is simply, in *this specific instance* which system is more efficient? Which provides the best return for a given outlay of resources in the long-term? The communism vs capitalism thing is a red-herring and is really just a cover for the usual inter-party wrangling.   

       //It would be better to kill and eat MikeD on day 1.//
[DrBob] while you might be right in principle, [MikeD] is a combat veteran, and I'm not. A direct confrontation is probably not going to go in my favour. My best bet is probably going to be to try and make friends with him...And then kill him in his sleep. Oops - Shh!
zen_tom, Mar 11 2010
  

       Actually, your best interest would be to find a way to mentally enslave MikeD to perform your grunt work, and to get him to enjoy being enslaved while not realizing it.   

       Society should always have a surplus of lawyers. Keeps the land well-fertilized for the farmers.
RayfordSteele, Mar 11 2010
  

       One of the most interesting discussions I've seen in a while...carry on, please. Informative and done without personal barbs and insults. Yay.
blissmiss, Mar 11 2010
  

       // Informative and done without personal barbs and insults //   

       We noticed that too ... what's gone wrong ?   

       // collectivist utopia //   

       Ahhh ... sounds like our cue.
8th of 7, Mar 11 2010
  

       Between [MikeD]'s communist scenario and [zen_tom]'s individualist one lies a far superior compromise system; coffee insurance.   

       In my town no-one actually likes coffee, but people sometimes need it. The coffee insurance industry addresses this occasional need with great efficiency; only about one third of coffee spending goes to covering the costs of the coffee insurance industry, leaving a very generous two thirds to be spent on actual coffee.   

       The only one to lose out is my whining neighbour, who has found out in advance that he's going to need coffee and therefore can't have any. I have been careful enough not to find out whether I'll need any coffee or not, so I can. This is clearly a huge improvement.
pertinax, Mar 11 2010
  

       [Ian_Tindale]//a good one// There's the rub. You have to do your job well to succeed as a bank robber, whereas a mediocrity can make a living in a respectable profession. Of course none of *your* parasitic offspring would be mediocrities, but what are the others' supposed to do?
mouseposture, Mar 12 2010
  

       The serious point I was trying to make -- pearl before swine, I know :) -- was that the return on investment for being a medical doctor is and has been dropping, and that will likely have inevitable consequences to the quality of care -- if for no other reason than the ratio of doctors to patients.   

       So a fairly obvious, if unintended consequence of any efforts that make being involved in health care less profitable is that it would also have less able practitioners.   

       Such dynamics are typical of situations in which the government tries to do the right thing while ignoring self-interest, enlightened or not.   

       Markets of course don't offer magical solutions -- physics plays a role too -- this is why despite the fact that finding a way to eliminate oil would be the most profitable invention of all time, we still use it.
theircompetitor, Mar 12 2010
  

       Nice inoffensive title to your idea. I commend you for that.   

       'One more cup of coffee before I go. From the valley below. Your sister sees the future like your mother and yourself. You never learned to read and write, there's no books upon your shelf.... One more cup of coffee for the road (Bob Dylan)
Zimmy, Mar 12 2010
  

       Hey, [Zimmy's] here ;-)
blissmiss, Mar 12 2010
  

       "Beverages of the People, by the People, for the People"
hippo, Mar 12 2010
  

       Ian, the more you pay doctors, the more people want to be doctors. That is the correlation.   

       This is not some magic oversimplified relationship I construct in my head. Both high school and college graduates make decisions at least in part based on what their future career offers -- surely some are devoted to a vision and will pursue it regardless.   

       But if economics enters into the equation, then becoming a doctor requires a significantly larger investment in time, due to residency requirements, and money. Becoming a specialist, which typically is more lucrative, takes even longer.   

       A top neurosurgeon -- say a Sanjay Gupta without the CNN contract -- can make a million $US a year. To become that, one would of course have to have abilities, but also spend perhaps as much as 6 postgraduate years studying, with Harvard Medical setting you back a few hundred thousand dollars.   

       And equally able Ivy League graduate that goes to Harvard Business School instead, even in the current times, will be making a solid 6 figure income after only 2 years of school, and if he's hired into a top tier firm, he'll make much more than that million, and quickly.   

       Now we can wring our hands as to why our value system is "distorted". Or we can claim that you shouldn't even be a doctor unless it's your calling in the way that, say, being a poet or artist is someone's calling.   

       But the reality is that the best and the brightest are continuing to be disentivized from the medical profession.   

       So the current struggle in the US, spearheaded from the left, is looking at things from entirely the wrong perspective. They are talking about driving costs down by creating more bureaucracy, and they are talking about paying doctors less, and they are not addressing malpractice, which has already resulted in certain kinds of specialists practically disappearing -- have to go to a hospital to access an OB/GYN in many areas because they cannot afford to be independent due to the malpractice insurance requirements.   

       I must say, however, that if we don't have agreement on whether or not people choose who they want to be and what they want to do based in large part on the economic opportunity it affords, then I'm afraid that we don't have much of a vocabulary for a common discussion.   

       Darmak and Jalad at Tanagra.
theircompetitor, Mar 12 2010
  

       [RayfordSteel], I did like that article. It cuts straight to the core of the problems inherent in such systems of government. As does "The Little Red Hen".   

       As to government running healthcare, some of the most piss-poor health care I have ever received was from military (read: government ran) doctors and dentists. These "professionals" choose lower pay and positions in which they cannot be sued for a reason.   

       I have been thinking about collectivism a lot, lately and have come up with a few paradoxes, I would like to share ...   

       Military bases are very close to the utopia collectivism strives to be. When I park at one of the base facilities, I feel no need to lock my car, or even remove my keys from the ignition for that matter, regardless of what high-dollar items I may or may not have in plain sight. If I, (or anyone) were to break-down on base, there would be a surplus of good samaritans offering a jump start (most having jumper cables handy) or to assist with pushing the vehicle out of harm’s way. Were someone to be injured on or near base: again, there would be a surplus of individuals stopping to render aid. I have seen and participated in this several times. But there is a fundamental paradox here, because service *is* voluntary, and were this structure of rule forced upon the people, it would most likely be *those soldiers* who would stand up against such organized violations of volition.   

       Referencing [RayfordSteel]'s article: Everyone would do their fair share of shoveling, in the military because NCO's such as myself would be there to put a foot in the asses of the asses. But most people would not be very happy living under such control. Our collectivism works because I have the power to (borderline) torture those under me, as those above me have over me. This power must be given voluntarily, or it will be vehemently apposed.   

       The paradox being: Collectivism will not work because of people like me. I will fight to the end to secure what rights I feel entitled to, and I am tough enough and callous enough to win that fight against a bunch of soft and coddled collectivistic pansies. Your peace-loving collective cannot be realized until you rid the world of animals such as I ... but you can't get rid of me without using others like me.
MikeD, Mar 12 2010
  

       // it’s just as much a skill set as any other career, only it pays more//   

       Remember there the risk/reward issue too. The risk of being caught by authorities - or 'rubbed out' by competitors.
Jinbish, Mar 12 2010
  

       //They are talking about driving costs down by creating more bureaucracy//
  

       Surely by taking the insurance companies out of the equation there will be less bureaucracy?
stupop, Mar 12 2010
  

       It was borderline before, but the comments push it over the edge. [MFD] Rant
MechE, Mar 12 2010
  

       [MFD]? T'would be a shame to kill all those fishies, [MechE].   

       (Assuming you are an American citizen): Don't say I didn't warn you when you are driving a victory car (formerly GM) to the victory clinic to get your anthrax shot (deemed mandatory by the ministry of health).
MikeD, Mar 12 2010
  

       I'm not saying the discussion doesn't need to be had, I'm saying this isn't the right forum for it, which is why I'm avoiding any politcal slant to my comments.
MechE, Mar 12 2010
  

       MikeD - there's a paradox to your paradox - on one hand you agree that a good example of collectivism is shown in the military - something you have direct experience of - and on the other you say it would never work because of people like you. Collectivism in state terms, is a kind of militarisation of the state. In every case where a state has gone down that road, far from being organised by peace-loving liberals, it's been done through the tough actions of the military - and once established, been run on militaristic models. So rather than not being possible because of people like you, it's actually been facilitated by people like you. (Excuse the personal nature of that last sentence, but I'm responding to your personal statements from before) I'm not for a military state for the same pansy reasons I never joined the army - plus I believe it is probably more expensive to maintain - but for those that do sign up, and enjoy the experience (the comradeship, everyone pitching in, people being promoted for their service rather than their "market value") you'd think they'd be all for it.   

       Then, to your other point - if people were so self-serving as you suggest in some of your arguments, how come so many of them are ready to lay down their lives in the service of their country? Certainly not something to be described as "pansy" or "peace loving" behaviour. Quite a contradiction. So there's got to be a flaw in the logic you're using there somewhere.   

       It's tricky logical ground - if Barack Obama is really a communist (which we've established is a bit like being in the military) then shouldn't he deserve the support of the people who espouse those same standards?   

       And if he's a pansy (individualistic, self-serving etc) then doesn't that suggest that he's all for market-oriented stuff, and as such worthy of the support of the people who believe in all that?   

       And maybe (just maybe) he's neither a communist, nor a pansy and is just trying to solve a problem. If health-care is a problem (and maybe there are arguments to suggest that it's not) then isn't it better to concentrate our attention on the problem itself, and not muddy the waters with party-line, propaganda laden point-scoring that does absolutely nothing to resolve the stated issue.   

       The first question then must be: Is the current system of healthcare in the US a problem?   

       Next time you hear someone saying "Communist" or "Socialism" (or whatever the equally loony leftist/rightist equivalents are) - ask yourself, are they trying to solve the problem, or are they playing emotive party politics? If the latter, then is it right that they should spoil the debate for those who are trying to have the debate? We're not saying the proposed solutions are right, or wrong - it's just an attempt to move on and start having a reasoned, dispassionate debate.   

       Sadly, this is politics, and emotive arguments often galvanise popular support - even if (and often especially when) they are demonstrably bollocks.
zen_tom, Mar 12 2010
  

       That article about snow-cialism is asinine. Its premise is that socialism does not work because people are more interested in working towards their own advantage than they are working towards the advantages of others. The flaw in the argument presented by the article (and others like it) is that it entirely fails to recognise that socialism is about marginal (that is asymmetrical) collective sacrifice - i.e. paying a bit more tax, ceding control of certain aspects of national life to the State - in return for gain not for everybody and almost certainly not for you but for those who need it most. The article suggests that everyone who supports socialism should be out digging people's cars out of the snow because it necessarily follows that if someone is in favour of giving the hard up a hand up they should help all people at all times; it posits socialism as a kind of morally-obliged mutual servitude which is (a) a horriffic concept and (b) a gross and apparently deliberate mischaracterisation.   

       I should say that I have no beef with Tories and their ilk - they are free to believe and what they like and strive for the implementation of those beliefs. I do have beef, however, with shit like the Snow-cialism article, as it wilfully mischaracterises the thing it purports to critique.
calum, Mar 12 2010
  

       Just to add to calum's observations. I would also note that the sample group, i.e. those people in the author's neighbourhood who own a car, is also highly selective.
DrBob, Mar 12 2010
  

       Yeah, I wonder what would the statistical analysis of behaviours be were a similar snowy situation to arise in a more rural community? Farmers in the UK tend to pitch Torywards politically while generally doing a great deal more to help their neighbours than urbanites do/would.
calum, Mar 12 2010
  

       calum, the article is a caricature. The problem with the "if the State doesn't do it, no one will help those who need it most" argument is simply this: Once the State does it, the # of those who need it most grows uncontrollably. Worst, the bureaucracy and corruptibility of the State nearly insures that in fact a good portion of those who really need it get screwed by all those who are taking advantage.   

       The home care program in NYC is a great example of this. The program in theory saves money versus placing the elderly in a nursing home -- a good idea, certainly for the quality of life. But I know literally dozens of families who in fact create a "no-show" job out of this scenario, and then split the money with the theoretical home attendant, who is then working some other "for cash' job and is not paying taxes. This is routine and is costing NYC and NYState alone -- easily -- in the billions.   

       It's Other People's Money. It appears, to me anyway, that this is a natural law. Sure, altruism exists too, and may have genuine benefits from an evolutionary perspective. But mostly, people take what they can get away with.   

       The same issue applies to insurance <stupop> -- that's why insurance fraud is so rampant, and that is why involving insurance in routine health care is a spectacularly stupid idea, too.   

       And you cannot fix it. No technology, no gps ankle bracelet, no "eliminate fraud and abuse" piety by an ambitious politician can fix it. Money always finds a way. To quote Mamet, that's why they call it money.   

       But this is not a call for cynicism, or even the belief that nothing can ever be done. On the contrary -- it's call for everyone, whether here or in any other political interaction, to think about designing policy based on how people are, and not on how people should be. That is the essence of the value of markets and capitalism is, to me. And I do believe that solutions based on that paradigm would actually work.
theircompetitor, Mar 12 2010
  

       "One of the troubles with americans is that they place individuality and limitless freedom of expression above the good of their own community...— Ian Tindale, Mar 11 2010"   

       ok someone has finally got it!   

       bytheway [MechE] the proper spelling of mfd is [marked-for-deletion] rant. or theory, or no, rant is good.
dentworth, Mar 12 2010
  

       // Darmak and Jalad at Tanagra. //   

       Ooooh, we know this one !   

       "The river Temarc in winter"
8th of 7, Mar 12 2010
  

       //Ooooh, we know this one !//   

       Didn't see that one coming.   

       //how come so many of them are ready to lay down their lives in the service of their country?//   

       [ZT], this is a keen observation from one on the outside looking in. Unfortunately, soldiers seem to be idolized more than the vast majority of them deserve. As one observing from the inside, I feel free to say that if the U.S. soldiers were not as handsomely paid as they are, our ranks would be severely lacking (to include myself). The majority of "soldiers" are more mercenary than patriot. Which, apart from being extremely accurate, also only goes to further my original point.   

       Military service directly benefits me. It has paid for my college, it has plenished my bank account, and it has provided me with training that I have always considered both valuable and necessary for survival.   

       Tracing back to one of our older conversations on evolution, you were expounding on the benefits of environments conducive to growth. The growth and diversification of specie this environment creates are also the first to die off when things get hard.   

       I wouldn't feel content knowing I would starve without the existence of grocery stores, but I seem to be getting caught on a tangential rant. let me reel myself back in...   

       Socialism and communism, (the non-emotional forms), require a large government and more of a burden to support (shouldered by the people). And just like any mechanical system, this will result in more loss due to friction (waste). Smaller government = less waste = more productivity. Yes there is equilibrium, but it is nowhere near socialism. We, in the U.S. anyway, have pushed far past that equilibrium, IMHO.
MikeD, Mar 12 2010
  

       double posting
xenzag, Mar 12 2010
  

       Yes, Ian! And those of us that left there and came here are especially millitant about it: )
theircompetitor, Mar 12 2010
  

       Thanks, [zag], got it.
MikeD, Mar 12 2010
  

       // Didn't see that one coming. //   

       <prods anno suspiciously>   

       Is that irony ?
8th of 7, Mar 12 2010
  

       Biden and Palin at St. Louis.
Shaka, when the walls fell.
RayfordSteele, Mar 13 2010
  

       well, except for those like Arnie who were born elsewhere. And your proposition is self evident, QEDd by the last two men elected to the office, surely (albeit from two different directions).
theircompetitor, Mar 13 2010
  

       It'll be interesting to see whether the USA or the UK is the first to have a woman premier.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 13 2010
  

       <prods anno suspiciously with long fork>   

       Yes, definitely irony.   

       Besides, Gordon the Gopher is such an old woman it's effectively a double whammy ...
8th of 7, Mar 13 2010
  

       I really haven't been able to keep up with the flow of conversation, beingst that my place of work has begun logging our "non-work related internet use". Now that I have time to read over these annotations, I see my replies are rather rantish and askew to the dialogue. Apologies.
MikeD, Mar 14 2010
  
      
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