WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COLLECTIVE AND A COMMUNITY?

Charity without love is not charitable.

More than we know we do combat with words.  Consider the etymology of these ideological words. Consider what happens when the words “collective” and “community” become wrapped into isms.

Collectivism has strong associations with communism.

collectivism (n.)Look up collectivism at Dictionary.com
1880, in socialist theory, from collective + -ism. Related: Collectivist (1882 as both noun and adjective); collectivization (1890).

It seems that some would have us believe that the mere act of organizing people into a group with a common interest is communistic.

The word “community” has multiple associations with isms.

Like communism, communitarianism also emphasizes the community over the individual.

communitarian (n.) Look up communitarian at Dictionary.com
1841, “member of a commune,” from community + ending from utilitarian, etc. The adjective is attested from 1909.

Communitarianism is not the same as communism, but it does emphasize the interests of the community over the individual.

Like Communitarianism, communism is related to community via the word “commune“.

communism (n.) Look up communism at Dictionary.com
“social system based on collective ownership,” 1843, from French communisme (c. 1840) from commun (Old French comun; see common (adj.)) + -isme (see -ism). Originally a theory of society; as name of a political system, 1850, a translation of German Kommunismus (itself from French), in Marx and Engels’ “Manifesto of the Communist Party.” Compare communist. In some cases in early and mid-20c., a term of abuse implying anti-social criminality without regard to political theory.

Each [i.e. socialism, communism, anarchism] stands for a state of things, or a striving after it, that differs much from that which we know; & for many of us, especially those who are comfortably at home in the world as it is, they have consequently come to be the positive, comparative, & superlative, distinguished not in kind but in degree only, of the terms of abuse applicable to those who would disturb our peace. [Fowler]

We even have something called communalism which is similar to communitarianism. Instead of a strong central government, however, both communitarianism and communalism emphasize creating a federation of communes, just not for the same reasons.

communalism (n.) Look up communalism at Dictionary.com
1871 (in reference to Paris), from communal + -ism.

Thanks to all these mushy isms, it is a little difficult to speak of the difference between a collective and a community.  Nevertheless, people form collectives deliberately for a specific purpose. Whereas people form communities by living together and forming strong ties with each other.

Therefore, only when we speak of a community does it make sense to apply this verse.

John 13:35 New King James Version (NKJV)

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

When we form charitable organizations, because there is a personal relationship it makes sense to provide charity at the community level.  Unfortunately, our political leaders have created new and improved charities.  They have used the state, especially that great collective we call the Federal Government, to give away our tax dollars using expensive health, education, and welfare programs.  Hence we have politicians spending other people’s money on people they don’t even know. The result has been phenomenal fraud, waste and abuse.

Ideally, because the personal relationship between those who give and those who receive charity is so important (It is about love, after all.), charity should only be the function of local, private organizations. Only when we have no other alternative should we involve government, and that should be local government. Only when we have no other alternative should we involve either the state or the Federal Government.

What is the big issue of the moment in Washington DC? It is Obamacare.  What is Obamacare? It is about whether the average American will be able to make his or her health choices without overriding interference from nameless bureaucrats. It about disconnecting the desires of people who pay the bills from the people who provide health care services. It is about giving politicians power just because they want it. It about turning our whole healthcare system into a wasteful and inefficient government-run charity rife with fraud, waste, and abuse.

Please let your senators and congressman know you want Obamacare repealed. You want them to do the same thing they did when they knew Obama would veto their repeal bill. Then you want them to replace Obamacare with laws that allow us to use our own money to make our own decisions. Do we really need their help to provide charity for our neighbors, the people in our communities. No. Not if we actually care about each other. If we don’t, there is nothing they can do anyway. If we don’t care, they won’t either.

 

 

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26 thoughts on “WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COLLECTIVE AND A COMMUNITY?

  1. Stephen

    In Collectivism, there are generally two types: vertical and horizontal. The former takes the form often of a centralized authority organizing the efforts of smaller, dependent collectives, much like modern German federalism. It was actually devised as an alternative to the liberal individualists and the material communists. Alexander Berkman was a huge proponent of horizontal collectivism whereat there is a greater push for evening socio-economic advantages via democratic means. It differs from vertical in a large way in that vertical attempts to preserve and base itself on the free associations and natural institutions humans find themselves in like workers coops and families.

    To say communitarianism emphasizes the community over the individual is a gross misunderstanding. Communitarianism bases itself on the premise that individuals are defined to a greater degree by the relations they form. For example, you are shaped as an individual by your association with conservative ideology and Christian theology. Now, I can see why you dislike it because one of its fundemental premises is that classical liberalism is epistemologically and ontologically incoherent and inconsistent. Based on some things you have said regarding the supposed loss of American values, the communitarian outlook is actually closer to your position. They argue that the loss of strong communities to pass on social morals has subsequently caused a disconnect with traditional values. Alan Ehrenhalt’s “The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues Of Community In America” is a book I think you would find interesting.
    One essential thing to the communitarian view is the idea of positive rights. The emphasis on positive rights has become even more crucial today, especially with regard to physicians arguing that they should not be required to perform objectionable procedures like abortion. So really, a communitarian merely recognizes what Aristotle already argued i.e. that man is a political animal and as such finds himself most enriched when he engages in communities. In fact, your points about charities is exactly something a communitarian would argue for but for different reasons, that is positive rights.

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    1. @Stephen

      So-called “positive rights” by definition enslave the individual to the so-called commune. If we have “positive rights”, then the government has to force some people to pay for other people’s rights. What some maliciously call “negative rights”, on the other hand, just requires that we don’t abuse each other. Government only get involved when it is needed protect someone from having their life, liberty, or property taken away from them by force.

      Aristotle was a wise man, but he would not have had any problem with slavery.

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      1. Stephen

        “So-called “positive rights” by definition enslave the individual to the so-called commune.” Really? Because it is positive rights that are cited when a doctor, florist, baker etc, makes a conscientious objection. People must respect the rights of doctors who object to abortion; it is their positive right to be free to worship and live their life according to their religion. Primarily, positive rights affect how we deal with each other. Consider the Golden Rule; it creates a positive right to be treated a certain way. It does not say, like the pagans, don’t treat people a certain way, but it actually creates a moral imperative, a positive right.

        Negative rights ignore the reality that we have any duties to each other besides the Noahide laws.

        Liberals like that moron and Freemason Bastiat seemed to think that fraternity limited liberty. Seeing as you and I both agree that this liberty comes from God and that this liberty is inherent in our human nature bestowed by that same God, then how can the fraternity of humanity limit the liberty that is inherent in it? In other words, how can the fraternity that is humanity limit liberty if liberty itself is derived from our humanity? This is why classical liberalism is incoherent and inconsistent. It contradicts itself and attempt to be wiser than the ancients it rejected.

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        1. Stephen

          Positive rights are only called entitlements by godless, classical liberals who forgot that God gave Adam literally all the positive rights in the world. Man was given dominion over the earth. “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”

          The entity of creation is a positive right given to mankind through Adam. Want to know where negative rights crop up? That’s right; after the fall of man. Since we know from Matthew 19:8 that Christ sought to establish man in accordance with the original intent of God with the New Covenant, Christianity is also based on positive rights.

          Show me a Christian writer prior to the Enlightenment who argued for negative rights. It is practically impossible since the overwhelming testimony of Christian thought on rights came from God based on the logic in Matthew 6:26-34.

          To them, every material thing was not solely a product of man’s labor but ultimately and primarily a gift from God. Bastiat and his fellow liberal tyrants implicitly deny this by making positive rights contractual. Essentially, the put into human contracts what God ordained from the beginning. Thus, to the godless, classical liberals, such basic necessities as food and shelter are rights only gained through contracts and commerce, mankind institutions depriving men of their God-given dominion over nature.

          To say that positive rights necessitate someone give you something is one of the biggest lies that liberals have devised in order to preserve the individual and his labor as the supreme autocrats of everything. Positive rights necessitate negative duties i.e. the right to adequate food disallows the modification of bread prices that starve the poor. It does not require the poor not work for their bread, but that others cannot make it so that their work cannot attain enough bread.

          The fact of the matter is that you cannot respond without recognizing the inherent problem in the liberalism you profess and how it supplants God himself in the order of creation.

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        2. @Stephen

          When we obey God’s laws we love each other. Love is voluntary, not forced. Obeying God is a choice. What the Bible tells us is that we are God’s servants. You and I don’t have the right to order each other around.

          The Ten Commandments are prohibitions. What they tell is that we must not abuse the dignity of God, and we must not abuse each other.

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        3. Stephen

          “Obeying God is a choice.” Yes, in the same way that murdering someone is a choice.

          “The Ten Commandments are prohibitions.” And the Two Greatest Commandments are not. They are imperatives and the basis of all positive rights.

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        4. @stephen

          We cannot make anyone obey the Two Greatest Commandments.

          It seems to me you are doing what the Apostle Paul argued against and then some. What you want is a Christian theocracy, but if Christians set up a Christian theocracy, that would not be Christian.

          There are aspects of the Mosaic Code from which we should form our laws. However, for the most part, Christians are suppose to be known for personal conduct.

          We don’t make other people follow Christ Jesus; we lead others to Jesus because we strive to fill our days with acts of love. Like it or not, we cannot create Christian believers by threatening people with jail time, fines, torture, and execution if they don’t do things our way. That has in fact been tried. Ironically, you made a big stink about such discrimination against Catholics. Is your outrage really that selective, or are you just deluding yourself?

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        5. Stephen

          “We cannot make anyone obey the Two Greatest Commandments.” Whether we can make them or not does not change the fact that they must.

          “What you want is a Christian theocracy, but if Christians set up a Christian theocracy, that would not be Christian.” Nope, merely recognizing that the whole notion of negative rights is regression to the Old Covenant in order, likely in order to assuage the conscience into believing that one is doing the right thing.

          “Ironically, you made a big stink about such discrimination against Catholics.” My point is that the discrimination is happening. There are those of us who remember when the Klan rallied to protest Kennedy for his nominal adherance to the Catholic faith. The defacing of Jewish cemeteries and the violence against mosques is increasing. I was in a Wal-Mart in Fairfax when a patron began accosting an employee from India and clearly wearing a Syro-Malabar cross for being a taqiyya spy. The man was thrown out but you see the trend.

          Among members of my own family even, the citation of Roosevelt’s quote above has been used as an excuse to lionize and demean. Whatever Roosevelt meant, it is lost to the meme-makers shilling for conduct that more and more seems like it was devised by the devil himself.

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        6. @Stephen

          There is always somebody discriminating against somebody else, sometimes appropriately, and sometimes not. Right now you are doing it inappropriately, I think.

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        7. Stephen

          For you liberals maybe. There is always some conflict. There needs to be, otherwise the whole philosophy comes crashing down.

          Anyway, yes, discrimination. It is not right to refuse people coverage simply because they have a health condition that the insurance company decides they don’t want to pay for.

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  2. Tony

    The reason why collectivism verses individualism is meaningless arguement is shown by the inconsistencies and logically fallacies of those who constantly turn to it as there “only” argument for or against everything. Insurance is, by definition, is a communal and a collectivist act of risk spreading within a defined group. You share the risk with many others in case you or one of your family gets sick or injured. Essentially, in this way all the many healthy people pay for all the fewer sick people. No one in this collectivist scheme is being particularly charitable or uncharitable though.

    My union negotiated with my company to negotiate a risk spreading health insurance collective that I belong to. It is a basic part of my compensation package. Because unionized companies and the government began offering this benefit to their employees, other companies had to offer similar packages in order to attract and keep high quality employees. As the paternal company where a person could count on being employed for life has died with the deindustrialization of America, we have also lost many of the vehicles for large insurance lifetime risk pools, particularly for middle to lower income and skill levels. Also, without the risk spreading of Medicare insurance, older retired persons, who by definition are dying of something, would find it impossible or prohibitively expensive to find medical insurance.

    Because these insurance risk spreading collectives have mostly and traditionally been tied to employment, we have never really had a broader nationwide “market” for health insurance. The fact that insurance companies (not individuals) bargain for medical services means we have never really had a “market” for health care and either. (If you don’t believe this, then go out and price your own heart surgery sans insurance). The fact that only two or three insurance companies dominate the health insurance market means that we also have serious market monopoly economic concerns within these collective risk spreading schemes.

    Given all this, you can understand why there are serious problems with equality of distribution of health care in this country. (Although not so much in the rest of the industrialized world where they have socialized medicine). There is no real market and what little there is needs serious legal adjustment if it is ever to work. But to have some kind of blind faith in the “collective” of feral insurance corporations to somehow magically create fair and inexpensive risk spreading collectives and negotiate good quality and inexpensive health care with medical providing corporate and nonprofit collectives is just to put your faith in one kind of collective over another. None of it defies the need for collectives, however. It’s just the wrong argument.

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    1. @Tony

      Since you have defined your terms incorrectly, your argument cannot make sense.

      Insurance is, by definition, is a communal and a collectivist act of risk spreading within a defined group.

      Insurance, by definition, does not insure against the risk of something that has already happened. Therefore, by definition we are not talking about insurance.

      No one in this collectivist scheme is being particularly charitable or uncharitable though.

      Obamacare is designed to subsidize the “insurance” of people who cannot afford “insurance” by using force against those who can afford insurance. I agree that is not charitable.

      Because unionized companies and the government began offering this benefit to their employees, other companies had to offer similar packages in order to attract and keep high quality employees.

      Damn fool stupidity like this is why so many businesses have moved out the country.

      As the paternal company where a person could count on being employed for life has died with the deindustrialization of America, we have also lost many of the vehicles for large insurance lifetime risk pools, particularly for middle to lower income and skill levels.

      Paternal company? Because it is profitable, good businessmen try to gain the loyalty of their employees by demonstrating such loyalty. However, the reason businesses provide healthcare has to do with the fact government encouraged it. Unfortunately, politicians never know when to leave well enough alone. Because politicians are always trying to buy votes with other people’s money, they have made health “insurance” to costly. So businesses are trying to figure out how to unload what is becoming a hideous expense.

      Also, without the risk spreading of Medicare insurance, older retired persons, who by definition are dying of something, would find it impossible or prohibitively expensive to find medical insurance.

      Medicare is just part of a system that forces young people to subsidize the care of the old. It “works” because more old people vote.

      Most of the Federal Budget now involves the transfer of wealth, especially from the young to the old. That is just evil.

      Healthcare as we know it is a relatively recent innovation. Unfortunately, some politicians saw an opportunity to buy votes. So they start manipulating how health services are purchased and delivered. What the Federal Government has done goes well beyond anything that can be rightly justified by the commerce clause.

      Without government interference (instead of just regulation against fraud and against prohibitions by the states that discourage interstate commerce) how would healthcare be delivered? I can only guess how the market would innovate, but I suspect we would have fewer problems keeping our insurance when we change jobs. I also expect private charity would work much better than government “charity” (vote buying). As it is we now have to pretend that many of our so-called “entitlements” are entitlements instead of charity.

      But to have some kind of blind faith in the “collective” of feral insurance corporations to somehow magically create fair and inexpensive risk spreading collectives and negotiate good quality and inexpensive health care with medical providing corporate and nonprofit collectives is just to put your faith in one kind of collective over another.

      You want to just give huge amounts of wealth (other people’s money included) over to the care of politicians and just hope they spend it properly. That’s like handing over your money to the greeter at Wal-Mart and asking him to read your mind and bring you what you need.

      I don’t want to give my money to anyone until I have gotten what I wanted. I am also content to let other people keep their money until they get what they want. That is because my faith is in God, not man.

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  3. Tony

    Insurance is a collective risk spreading organization. A corporation is a government invented legal collective organized toward a making a profit for its collective investors. A union is a collective bargaining organization. A military is normally a government controlled collective action toward common aggression and common defense from aggression. You like to point out that it is more appropriate to give privately and individually, however, most of us do not give directly to the poor, but instead to charity organizations which are often nonprofit collectives organized around a charitable purpose. Even a church is a religious collective (although you and I believe of course that it is much more than that). The fact is that collective groups have a greater synergy than individuals working alone. The sum is greater than the parts.

    Granted, our responsibilities to the organization are more voluntary in some collective actions than n others. Political organization is perhaps the oldest and most natural way that the individual social animals that are humans collectivize. I think that you will also find that virtually all other forms of collective organizations (corporations, unions, non-profits, church, etc.) exist openly ONLY if they are engendered or sanctioned through the political collective that is government although, because of the natural need for collective action, people will indeed organize themselves illegally (the black market, underground churches, illegal unions, etc.) if government does not sanction or outright prohibits this natural human necessity.

    In a modern democratic republic, participation in the institutions of government entails a combination both voluntary and involuntary rights and responsibilities. We have a balance of collective political responsibilities and legally protected individual rights which are often in competition with one another. This balance is never perfect. However, whether these responsibilities and rights are morally natural or not, they historically have ONLY practically existed in a democracy if those responsibilities and rights are defined, arbitrated and enforced through the organizational institutions of the political collective that is government.

    The issue is therefore not complete collectivism verses perfect individualism. That is sort of like asking if one needs only rain or sunshine to grow a flower – deprivation of either inhibits growth and too much of either kills the bloom. No, the real issue is which collective action in a given situation is most practically and morally appropriate.

    It’s impractically naive not to recognize material, individual, selfish incentives in forming the legal institutional collective schemes of capitalistic market based economic model such as ours. It is equally self defeating and inherently immoral for a democracy not to take into account in engendering and regulating such collectivist schemes that we have natural “God given” communal responsibilities to one another. Particularly in a democracy, to think that those God given moral communal responsibilities to each other can somehow be divorced completely from the political governmental realm, as opposed to every other collective realm, is an ideological delusion. No man is an island. We are rational individual animals who naturally only thrive in social communities.

    So back to the issue of the risk spreading collective of medical insurance. Despite your need to label everyone, I’m honestly not completely sold on a single payer “insurance” system such as “Medicare for all” as most other developed nations have implemented. (I definitely don’t want a completely government controlled medical system). Markets have advantages in that they better incentivize the invention of new procedures and new drugs. It is the reason why America leads the world in such life saving medical advances. The inherent failures of such a market is also the reason why America is near the bottom of developed countries in nearly every metrix of “average” health care. Giving something away free also decreases its inherent value, both literally and figuratively. If people have to work for a given good or service, then they are less likely to overly take advantage of that product and they are more likely to demand the best value.

    On the other hand, health care is an unusual market in that deprivation of the market products can literally keep sick or kill those who cannot afford its products. Along with amazing life saving technological advances also comes costs which can price out the poor and the middle class, especially as average wages have stagnated and declined under the pressures of globalization of low skill tasks and now, automation of them. Also, there is something inherently American about fighting at all costs to the last breath. How much does it make sense to spend exorbitant amounts scarce public resources fighting for an elderly person to live for a few months more? I don’t claim to know than answer to that question, but my guess is that a market based death panel would be much crueler than a government based one.

    I’ve already mentioned how insurance monopolies creat artificialities in both the insurance market and, perhaps more importantly, in the health care market, making it really not a “market” at all. A true “market” has many willing sellers competing to provide the best price and value to many informed buyers. The medical care market in this country has a few buyers (the monopoly insurance companies such as Aetna and Blue Cross and government insurance providers such as Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and Tricare) negotiating the price of medical care for most everyone. This creates a market disconnect middle man between the sellers and end buyers of all healthcare products.

    There is also a related market “information” problem because, even without the insurance middle man, there would obviously be an informational negotiations disadvantage between sellers of sophisticated medical products and procedures and unsophisticated, but desparate, buyers. I know how to do a few things but I don’t know how to cure cancer – that takes many years of research, education and training to do, and it puts me at an obvious informational negotiating disadvantage if I were desperately trying to buy this product.

    Finally, healing arts also carry moral societal implications that other products, such as I-phones don’t have. It is the reason why we revere doctors and nurses over mere airline pilots. They are obviously held to a higher moral and legal standard of ethics and care than used car salesmen.

    In short, there were inherent problems with health care markets long before Obamacare. There were also inherent problems with insurance markets. The question is not whether we will need a collectivist verses an individual approach to creating a more perfect medical providing system. It will take a combined recognition of both factors. Americans would probably prefer the creative synergy of a legally regulated market-based collective along with some government provided health care insurance. Certainly it should also provide room for charity. I’m not smart enough to solve the problem and neither are you. However, one way or another, the problem will only be solved (imperfectly) through moral collective solutions that appeal to individual incentives and needs. It won’t be solved by spouting all the usual and arcane ideological platitudes in which collectivists and individualists endlessly argue with each other over utopian dreamlands that, if they actually happened, would actually be nightmare hellscapes where neither side would actually want to live.

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    1. @Tony

      Instead of reducing the problem at hand to the basic issues involved, you have dragged in everything you can think of. Thus, what should be a relatively simple problem, you have made complicated.

      Am I against the formation of collectives? Where does my post say that? So why did you go there? To provide actual health insurance requires a collective. To provide charity, it may make sense for communities to work together to form a charitable organization. Government, however, is about the application of force, not charity.

      An insurance company is private venture that charges its customers for insuring each of them against the occurrence of a possible costly problem. When an insurance company’s actuaries get their calculations right, insurance companies make a profit. Since Obamacare provides healthcare for preexisting conditions, we are not talking about insurance. We are talking about government going bust in an illegal and ill-conceived business venture. Since people are penalized if they don’t buy what Obama called health insurance, we are talking about using government force to make some people to subsidize healthcare for other people. Is that moral? No. Does our Constitution authorize the Federal Government to do this? No. Are you arguing in favor of a system which requires people to violate their oaths in order to implement it? Yes.

      When it is unethical, why are you arguing for Obamacare? Because it is reasonable? I don’t think so.

      There is no such thing as a perfect system. There is no such thing as perfect people. So we will encounter people doing things they should not do. Just the same, we cannot fix one wrong with another wrong, and it does not matter how good our intentions may be.

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  4. Tony

    Sorry to inform you my good rocket scientist brother, but life is just increasingly complex in modernity. Ignorance may be bliss, but it still doesn’t make it grasp reality. You can pretend that life is a simple platitude, but it still won’t make it so.

    “An insurance company is private venture that charges its customers for insuring each of them against the occurrence of a possible costly problem.”

    No, it is not. An insurance company is a legal fiction given reality only by the laws that engender such corporations. When one really studies the legal aspects of markets, property, incorporation and corporate governance laws in the modern state economy, the lines between what is private and what is public blur to the point of being almost nonexistent. Governments can exist without markets (badly), but markets simply do not exist, especially in a Globalized economy without lots of government involvement.

    “When an insurance company’s actuaries get their calculations right, insurance companies make a profit.”

    Actuarial risk has little to do with it in most of the health insurance market. Most of the larger companies in this country self insure the actual medical costs of their employees, and hire big insurance companies like Blue Cross to handle only the actual administration of the plan. This gives larger companies a tremendous risk-spreading advantage over smaller employers and individuals. Is it possible to go back a 70 or so years and disconnect medical insurance from employment? Perhaps, but that would take a good deal of government involvement and legal force. By creating insurance exchanges, in many ways Obamacare was a step toward disconnecting insurance from employment to an individual market exchange. For someone who claims such strong opinions, you really don’t know much about this topic do you Tom?

    “Since people are penalized if they don’t buy what Obama called health insurance, we are talking about using government force to make some people to subsidize healthcare for other people. Is that moral?”

    The simple answer is “yes”, and as a matter of practical risk spreading, absolutely necessary.

    “Does our Constitution authorize the Federal Government to do this?”

    You know even less about constitutional law than you know about insurance law and markets. This is already decided constitutional law.

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  5. @Tony

    Sorry to inform you my good rocket scientist brother, but life is just increasingly complex in modernity. Ignorance may be bliss, but it still doesn’t make it grasp reality. You can pretend that life is a simple platitude, but it still won’t make it so.

    If life is becoming increasing complex, then it makes no sense to put fewer and fewer people in charge of everyone else’s lives. Who wants to stand it line waiting for some bureaucrat to make a decision? Slavery, and that is what you are when you lose control of your earnings, makes a dumb economic model. The tyranny of the majority is still tyrannical. In time it just becomes mob rule.

    What you call insurance is a fiction. It does not satisfy the definition of insurance. What you want is an entirely different economic model, one you cannot make work without rationing.

    Whether government charters insurance companies incidental to the issue we are discussing. Has no relevance.

    Do markets exist without government? Of course markets exist. People conducted continental-wide trade and barter even during the Stone Age. Government regulation, by securing the natural rights of the participants, encourages people to acquire property and engage in barter and trade. When we don’t have to hide everything we own from thieves, we can be more productive. However, when governments engage in socialism, they stifle trade. Socialism is government thievery. You know it, and I know it. So quit the BS.

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  6. Tony

    Tom, I’m just dealing with the facts of what is our current world and what was there before the ACA (and what will likely be here even after Trumpcare). The definition of insurance is indeed “risk spreading”. In this “alternative fact” world, you don’t seem to believe me so please look it up.

    With regard to health insurance, that risk spreading has taken place through employment and through government for many generations in this country. Could it be detached from employment and government and instead done through individuals and families collectively contracting with one or more insurance corporations? Yes, theoretically, although I don’t know of any country in modern times where it has been done successfully, yet.

    Here are just a few problems with it:

    1. Castrophic and chronic care, whether it is from an accident or a life threatening illness, is bankruptingly expensive. Riskwise, a high likelihood exists that sometime in each person’s lifetime that person will need such care. If you figure this out actuarially, then you will find that, even if the risk pool is extremely large, the insurance cost to each person can be expensive.

    For example, at my own company, the risk pool covers over 10,000 mostly youthful, mostly highly skilled employees and their families. My company unltimately pays the insured medical bills of the sick employees and their covered family members, but the company hires an insurance company to actually administer the plan. Much of this insurance plan is paid out by my company as part of each employee’s union negotiated compensation package. Even with that large of a risk pool of mostly healthy members, if the insurance costs were instead paid by each employee individually, it would run $10,000 to $20,000 dollars per employee. (I know this amount is close because, if I were to retire after age 60, but before Medicare age, my union has negotiated that I must pay half the of that insurance cost). Imagine if this were the cost for the average person on an individual market?

    Any individual insurance market that does not make health insurance at least affordable to middle income Americans and to poor Americans is doomed to both economic and moral failure. Being at average or below average wealth in this country should not mean making a choice between paying for food or rent and paying for health insurance. And being middle class or poor should not mean that you have to chose between bankruptcy and the desparate hope of charity, or else your child dies.

    2. Spreading medical insurance risk over a large group (such as in employee insurance or in Medicare) requires having many more healthy young people long term in the plan than sick old people. If one only could spread risk through a pool older people, then the insurance would be actuarially unaffordable by all but millionaires. If people are allowed to get sick before they choose to buy insurance, then we would still have the prohibitive costs, but we would also have what economists call the “free rider” problem.

    Therefore any individual health insurance market that cannot induce or require healthy young people of all incomes to join the risk pool before they get sick and/or old is therefore economically doomed to market failure.

    3. In most states, hospital emergency rooms and doctors must treat patients regardless of whether they have the means pay for it or whether they have health insurance. Two problems arise from this: (a) people without the means or the insurance do not seek more inexpensive preventative and curative treatments, but instead wait until the situation is acute and then walk into an expensive emergency room; and (b) hospitals are forced to spread this greater expense onto the patients who do have insurance further driving up both health care and insurance costs. In other words, people with insurance end up “involuntarily” paying for people without insurance whether they like it of not, and at a higher cost to the actual insured risk pools because of the acute care treatments.

    These are just a few of the problems with creating a more robust individual insurance market. I can come up with many more if you are interested (but you might be more convinced by some research of your own with some authoritative sources rather than just listening to the party propaganda). These are also some of the problems that Obamacare was designed to address. If the states had more enthusiastically embraced Obamacare (which was actually originally a Republican hatched market based scheme) and had Congress been inclined to actually fix the unintended problems that were bound to arise out of such a dramatic market based shift, then I actually imaged that eventually my own union membership would have elected to negotiate a pay raise instead of our company based insurance system and then allowed the members to buy insurance on this new expanded individual marketplace that would have been less expensive and would have provided more choices, but that was never allowed to happen because of Republican demagoguery.

    “Do markets exist without government? Of course markets exist. People conducted continental-wide trade and barter even during the Stone Age. Government regulation, by securing the natural rights of the participants, encourages people to acquire property and engage in barter and trade. When we don’t have to hide everything we own from thieves, we can be more productive.”

    You deny my point and then you make it for me. Even in the Stone Age there was tribal “governance” that defined, arbitrated and enforced the customs that allowed these so-called natural rights, including property and trade rights, both within and without the tribe. If you think that early tribal governance did not place involuntary mandatory duties and restrictions upon its members, then you don’t know much about human history. Any anthropological study of the archeological record and of actual accounts of tribal societies that existed into the last century would convince you that even your purest modern Socialism is a libertarian dreamland compared to a tribal society member’s mortally enforced duties to his tribe, and that would include the Israelite tribes. Humans, since their beginnings and on through the dawn of civilization, have had very strict rules that “governed” how the fruits of a given society’s production would be shared and distributed, and early Biblical times were no different. Some times and civilizations were crueler than others, but a measure of the morality or immorality of a given civilization’s “governance” is a measure of the greater fairness and equality of the distribution of the wealth from Adam’s God given legacy (the Earth’s bounty) that was produced from the collective toil of everyone in that tribe or civilization.

    In modern democratic governance and a capitalistic economy, the promotion of material greed and the need for material security is a great incentive to invent and produce (and to discourage sloth), but it must also be balanced with laws that encourage the fair distribution of that production, something that enforceable laws and customs, even from Biblical times, have always done. I find your assertions that the former (greedy material incentives) are somehow more moral than the latter (communal moral incentives) to be, not just religiously absurd, but also unsupported by our own history. There is nothing moral about hard working decent people and their children dying for lack of medical care while they depend upon the charity of greedy capitalists that own the politicians and have rigged all the wealth (including medical care) distribution laws in their own favor in order to maximize their own profit.

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    1. @Tony

      Here is the definition from => http://www.dictionary.com/browse/insurance?s=t.

      insurance
      noun
      1. the act, system, or business of insuring property, life, one’s person, etc., against loss or harm arising in specified contingencies, as fire, accident, death, disablement, or the like, in consideration of a payment proportionate to the risk involved.
      2. coverage by contract in which one party agrees to indemnify or reimburse another for loss that occurs under the terms of the contract.
      3. the contract itself, set forth in a written or printed agreement or policy.
      4. the amount for which anything is insured.
      5. an insurance premium.
      6. any means of guaranteeing against loss or harm:
      Taking vitamin C is viewed as an insurance against catching colds.

      What you want follows from the belief that might makes right. You can get away with it so it must be right. That’s why you avoid discussing the ethics and redefine terms. If might makes right, what does truth and ethics have to do with anything? Words just become weapons. So you have taken a warped definition, based upon the techniques used by insurers to provide insurance, and you offer that as the correct definition just because it satisfies your agenda.

      And why behave like this? It is how we have seen supposedly successful people behave, people held up by the mass media as role models.

      And, of course, if I don’t agree with you then you must portray me as anti-government and uncaring. I just don’t understand the nature of crisis. Bullshit!

      The original governmental unit was the family. Then we moved up in stages to the present situation where we have humongous governments. What you are ignoring — can’t get through you think skull — are two simple facts.
      1. The more we give our government to do the more difficult it becomes for us to control the people who run our government.
      2. When we cannot control our leaders, our government becomes a huge problem.

      Even if it were right to do so, we cannot give the government all the power you want to give it and still control it. It is in fact absurd to believe we can do so.

      How do we decide what our government should be doing?
      1. We have Constitution. It is not suppose to be a living document that our leaders can say means whatever they want it to mean.
      2. We have a philosophy of government. That philosophy says our government’s job is to protect our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The notion that those rights include the right to extort charity from our fellow citizens is just stupid.

      Charity comes from love. Without love, there is no charity. Without love “charity” is just a bribe. That is why I say without qualification that what you want is evil. Putting our leaders in charge of our health, education, and welfare systems is in fact destroying our country. You have to be blind not to see that.

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  7. tsalmon

    Tom, are you trying to be obtuse? As your own definition actually implies, insurance of risk is done by insurance companies through risk spreading.

    From Mariam Webster the definition of risk spreading is: “the extent to which an insurance company by selecting diversified and independent risks that are fairly uniform in size and sufficiently large in number can predict the losses thereon with reasonable accuracy by the law of averages.”

    The is not my “warped definition”. It is simply how insurance works in the real world. Think of why and how you insure your house against loss.

    Most people insure their home against loss with an insurance company because the risk is fairly low but the unindemnified loss would be catastrophic. Private home insurance companies pool the risk of a large number of home insurance policies. The insurance company figures out the odds of a number of covered houses in the risk pool actually being destroyed over a covered time period and charges premiums to all the home owners in the risk pool that will be enough to pay expected losses plus a profit for the insurance company.

    In its most basic sense, when you buy home home owners’ insurance, you are betting the insurance company that your home will burn down and you are hoping that you lose that bet. For all practical purposes therefore, the insurance company provides a profit making risk collective whereby the losers of that bet pay for the unfortunate winners. The larger the risk pool, the greater can be the diversification of risk and therefore the accuracy of risk prediction by the insurance company. Larger risk pools also provide other economies of scale benefits.

    Not paying off of the bet when catastrophe strikes many home owners in these large risk pools, either because of insurance company fraud, risk mismanagement or a broad, unforeseen natural disaster, can have statewide and regional negative consequences to the general welfare. That is why you will find that insurance companies are one of the most highly regulated industries in the country.

    Like a market for anything, a vibrant market for home owners’ insurance depends upon the economic factors that effect supply and demand, including the number of willing sellers and the number of informed buyers. Competition amongst a great many home owners’ insurance sellers may lower insurance company profit margins and creat incentives for more efficient administration of plans, but it also hurts the aforementioned broader risk diversification and other economies of scale benefits.

    Now consider the similarities and dramatic differences between home owners’ insurance and health care insurance, some of which have already been mentioned:

    1. There is no similar large health insurance “market” because, unlike home owners’ insurance, for generations the vast majority of the health insurance in this country been tied to employment or government programs.

    2. Unlike home owners’ insurance where the risk is low, the risk that a great many persons will at some point need catastrophic care is extremely high, especially after people retire and no longer belong to any company’s insurance risk pool. If you know anything about supply/demand curves, then you know how high prices can effect demand by shifting the curve.

    3. Unlike home owners’ insurance where mortgage company’s require insurance before they will lend money, and where low income renters are paying the insurance costs of their landlord as part of their rent, there is no market carrot or stick mechanism to individually induce young, healthy and low income persons to buy expensive insurance now so they will have it when they need it for a catastrophe or when they get older. As mentioned earlier, private employment medical plans are going away, especially for much of the poor and the shrinking middle class. The price is high and people will naturally chose food and shelter over health insurance.

    Because no moral society will allow it’s citizens to remain sick or die for the lack of readily available medical treatments and medicine, one way or another the costs are eventually paid by the risk pool. And from an economic perspective, even charitable care effects scarce medical care resources including price, quality, quantity and thereby, the market supply/demand variables for the rest of the regular market. Furthermore, pretending that, if the market were only allowed to somehow go completely feral, charity would actually supplant what could be something like one sixth of the national economy is unrealistic. I would hate to have to depend on that much charity from family, friends and strangers to save my child’s life, wouldn’t you?

    4. As mentioned earlier, there are extreme monopoly and middle man market problems with the current employer and government provided insurance for health care markets. Health care and health insurance are linked in ways that mean that you cannot fix one market without it having an effect on the other. Comparing it to our home owners’ insurance analogy, it would be as if your employer through only a few administrating companies or the government negotiated directly on your behalf with all the contractors and construction workers for the price of repair and reconstruction of all damaged homes and that most homes were partly or catastrophically damaged at some time. This is not many sellers of health care negotiating price and value with many informed buyers; this is many sellers negotiating with a just few highly informed buyers on behalf of all the end users.

    5. As mentioned earlier, medical care is not like most markets. Consumers are at an extreme information disadvantage with sellers. Perfect Adam Smith style markets depend upon information. When many sellers compete with each other to provide the best price and value, and many buyers know enough information to search for that best price and value, then scarce societal resources constantly and naturally go to their highest and best use, or in other words, we have Adam Smith’s “unseen hand” of the market. If buyers have little credible information about the price and value of highly sophisticated goods and services, then this is not a regular market. Furthermore, although you can live without an IPhone, when a seller’s product means the difference to the buyer between sickness and health, life or death, then they already have the buyer at a negotiating disadvantage. In economic terms, this is called the “elasticity of demand” of the product, and it has a dramatic effect on markets. Once again, look it up if you don’t believe me.

    In conclusion, what we have now and what we have had for generations is not a normal market. Stating simplistic moral platitudes will not make it so. Moral government is just not the equivalent of “no government”, no matter how many times you say so. Government does not exist in the modern era JUST to protect rights. Government also most justly exists in democracies so that we can most effectly work together toward the common good, which includes both our material and moral goods. We are not just a bunch of supposedly enlighten selfish individuals; if we are to be The Body of Christ, that means working together toward our common moral and material goods in every aspect of our lives, including our politics. The best argument for a selfish market based approach is greater efficiency not morality – markets are at best, morally neutral and at worst selfishly ammoral. And when morality conflicts with the market, then the morality should “govern”, not the market.

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    1. @Tony

      This is priceless.

      Tom, are you trying to be obtuse? As your own definition actually implies, insurance of risk is done by insurance companies through risk spreading.

      I am being obtuse? Would you like to explain the risk associated with a preexisting condition? Can you get homeowner’s insurance for a house that is already burned down? Why don’t we buy homeowner’s insurance through our employers?

      Because no moral society will allow it’s citizens to remain sick or die for the lack of readily available medical treatments and medicine, one way or another the costs are eventually paid by the risk pool.

      How does proposition require government-run health, education, and welfare systems? Are politicians now the paragons of virtue in our society? Must be. We allow them to spend money like water out of firehose. How highly enlightened of us!

      What you want does not work. I have explained the problems, and you just come back with the same nonsense. And I mean nonsense. Your explanation of insurance is just bullshit. That is why Obamacare flopped. If Hillary had been elected, she would be using the “crisis” Obamacare created to go to a government-run system. No competition! No innovation! Rationing! But we would all be treated equally unless you were one of the filfthy rich elite.

      You make the assumption that health insurance is something people should buy and government should subsidize it. I suggest you consider medical activities that are not the subject of government meddling.

      In conclusion, what we have now and what we have had for generations is not a normal market. Stating simplistic moral platitudes will not make it so. Moral government is just not the equivalent of “no government”, no matter how many times you say so.

      The notion of modern medicine, much less health insurance actually has not been around very long. The notion of a paternalistic state goes back to at least Gaius Octavius, that is, Augustus (the first Roman Emperor). Running the healthcare system is a grand act of paternalism.

      “No government”? Where has anyone here advocated unregulated markets. Please dispense with the red herrings. The problem we are discussing relates to the difference between regulated markets and government mandates disguised as lawful regulations. When we insist upon using regulations to tell healthcare companies how to run their businesses, all we all we can accomplish — all we will accomplish — is to put incompetent people in charge of our healthcare.

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  8. “I am being obtuse? Would you like to explain the risk associated with a preexisting condition? Can you get homeowner’s insurance for a house that is already burned down?”

    I’m afraid that you are missing the point, and given the frustrated emotional responses, I can only imagine willfully. The idea is indeed that everyone be insured so that risk is spread throughout the risk pool. Prior to Obamacare, even if I had medical insurance through my employer, if I or my child contracted a chronic ailment, if I lost my job or wanted to leave for a better job, my new employer’s insurance plan was not legally obliged to cover the preexisting illness. This is a simple fact of our historical connection between employment and insuring healthcare.

    This is a fact of the medical insurance market, that, like so many other facts about that market, you simply dismiss as “bullshit” because those inconvenient facts simply refuse to conform to your fallacious Utopian ideology. As I heard George Orwell quoted recently, when the ideology denies the facts, then the facts have a way of asserting themselves eventually.

    All markets do not work the same way, nor do the all markets work morally if left to run feral. You have been blessed to live and prosper in a country that has recognized this for most of the last hundred years, and yet, to read what you write, one would think that you were being victimized and somehow been deprived of some freedom if the government regulates markets so that poor and middle class people get to have decent healthcare. I don’t see the morality in that. I flatly deny that a political philosophy where the community, the state and the federal government all have a roll in taking care of the general welfare, including the least of these, is somehow evil. If there is anything that is “bullshit” it is that ridiculous assertion. Indeed, any philosophy that instead says that government’s ONLY roll is to support selfish individualism would, would be unnatural to Christian philosophy and therefore inherently evil. You can say it all that you want, but your reasoning and your facts are neither morally nor materially supportable.

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    1. @Tony

      Obamacare is okay because it is just the logical outcome of a progression of events? We are all sinners. Therefore, sin is okay? Socialism is okay because you can somehow imagine — darned if I know how — Orwell would have approved?

      If I had been born the son of a rich Roman patrician, I suppose I would have approved of slavery. I certainly would have benefited. That still would not have made slavery a good thing. Still, I could have used argument of the sort you have provided to defend slavery.

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