Drum on Global Warming Charlatanism

At Global Warming Charlatanism, Kevin Drum gives a concise response to those (like George Will) who have been saying lately that “the earth is actually cooling!”

In case you’ve missed it, this is the new favorite talking point in the chucklehead denialist set. The earth is actually cooling! But as about a thousand serious climate researchers have pointed out, it’s not true. Global temps have been trending up for over a century, but in any particular year they can spike up and down quite a bit. In 1998 they spiked up far above the trend line and last year they spiked below the trend line. So 2008 was cooler than 1998.


This is idiotic, and only deliberate charlatans who think they have an especially gullible audience bother with it. It’s the trend line that matters, and the trend line has been going up for decades right along with rising CO2 concentrations. Listen to the climatologists, not the charlatans.

So, if you hear someone pushing the “global warming is a myth! the earth is cooling!” line, the only real question is, which of two things is that person revealing about himself: 1) he is dishonest, and thinks that you (or someone listening) is stupid enough to buy it, or 2) he is himself the victim of someone from group #1 who correctly guessed that he could be taken in.

91 Responses to “Drum on Global Warming Charlatanism”

  1. shcb Says:

    So let’s see, 1998, 1999, 2000…. 2008, ten, thought I might have to take my shoes off. I herd tell once a decade is ten years. Or were that a bunch a cows, no it were a bunch a years. Now we’ve all seen the whole graph so let’s talk trend lines, why did JBC start with 1880, oops, should have started with 1900, you can see the end of the downward trend peeking out of the left side of the graph. By the way, conservatives say the earth may be cooling, but why start practicing accuracy now.

  2. knarlyknight Says:

    Let’s see shcb, if you are including 1998 and 2008 then you need to take your shoes off because that’s a baker’s decade – not a real decade.

    I find it funny that climatologists these days seem to talk about long term trends measured in decades.

    When I was in school we were taught that changes in climate occured over millions of years (contributing to widespread species extinctions and chagnes) and that the variations over hundreds and thousands of years also contributed to all kinds of inconveniences, e.g. human migrations.

    Maybe we’re so accustomed to news that is IMMEDIATE that we force ourselves to focus so tightly on the temperature trends in the industrial age of the past hundred or so years – seems like even that is stretching our attention spans, no one can fathom a thousand or two thousand years.

    I find that looking at a longer range perspective (as shcb seems to be hinting about) helps keep the fears invoked by the global warming extremists at bay. The chart at the bottom of the link below illustrates the highs and lows over the past 4500 years. Now, I’d say that is still too short a time frame because the last ice age ended some 12,5000 yrs ago, but it should serve the purpose of calming a few of the Chicken Littles.


  3. shcb Says:

    You are exactly right Knarly, there are also short, medium, and long term trends, they all have their uses. If you cherry pick your data, redefine terms, and misstate what your opponent says you can be victorious in most any debate. I’m sure you can find a blogger who has shortened what the experts on my side are saying to “the earth is cooling” but that isn’t what they are saying. They are saying that in the last decade temperatures have stabilized and in the last year or three have dropped while CO2 emissions have continued to rise. They will go on to say that we don’t know if this is a small blip, a downward turn of 30 or 40 years like we saw from the 40’s or 50’s to the late 70’s or if we have peaked, just as JBC’s chart shows we bottomed out in 1900 giving us a hundred year rise. We just don’t know, but it seems silly to destroy the economy for nothing, what happens in 20 yeas when we are in a cooling period for sure and our economies are in a shambles, do the global warming folks shrug their shoulders and say “oops, sorry ‘bout that”

  4. NorthernLite Says:

    Good line: “Listen to the climatologists, not the charlatans.”

    shcb, do you have any evidence to support your claim that by slowly swtiching from fossil fuels to sustainable energy that your “economy will be destroyed”?

  5. shcb Says:


    I’m not so worried about the switch from fossil to renewable as I am things like cap and trade. Forget for a minute that renewable as we know it today can only supply a small percentage of our power, maybe 10%- 20%. Let’s say it could produce 100%, it would not hurt economies to switch as long as the change came from a normal shift in markets as technologies evolved. In fact it would probably make economies stronger for many of the reasons you have stated, less dependence on foreign entities etc. My example has always been the blacksmith, as horses were replaced by cars blacksmiths simply evolved into machinists, welders, and mechanics but the economy didn’t suffer because the number of blacksmiths were suddenly (50 years or so) gone.

    But when we start taxing ourselves to the extent of cap and trade yes economies will be hurt, and there are plenty of projections out there for how much it will hurt the economy, I believe Obama has even said that it would, he uses phrases like “sacrifices will have to be made”. And really, what is cap and trade going to do to help the environment? It will evolve into another stock market where nothing but speculation is traded, some individuals, and some industries will win and some will lose, and the ones that lose will pass those losses on to their customers, since this is mandated by government it is just a sideways tax. Sure government will skim some of the profit and a small percentage of that skim will go into grants for new energy but it will be a very poor investment.

    If this is a crisis, and cap and trade will fix it, by all means let’s do it. But we need to be realistic in our assessment of the scope of the problem and find fixes that actually fix something and not just siphon monies and spew them into nothingness.

  6. NorthernLite Says:

    So, no, you don’t have any evidence. You could have said that in a lot less words.

    Logic tells me it’s in America’s interest – both economical and security – to use a fuel that isn’t mostly found in countries that don’t like you very much. Global warming or not.

  7. shcb Says:

    To be more accurate NL I should probably say “quality of life” rather than “economies in shambles” economies will adapt and if we are all in equal misery that is where the baseline will be set. If we are all paying twice what we are now for electricity (while getting nothing for that increase) well, none of us are worse off than the other but either we all get a raise which just artificially inflates the economy or we go on less vacations and don’t get to send our kids to college. So life goes on, it is just less rewarding.

    Except that China and India want no part of cap and trade, they are more than happy to watch us eat our economic young.

  8. shcb Says:

    I said there are plenty of projections out there and the President has admitted as much.

  9. shcb Says:

    It would be in our best interest to use energy made at home, no argument there, we can drill in ANWAR for instance, and we will produce that energy from other sources when it is viable, it just isn’t right now. Forcing it with confiscatory taxes that produce nothing will just slow that process down.

  10. NorthernLite Says:

    You can drill in every national park, wildlife refuge and backyard in your great country but you’d still only find less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves. That’s not good for a nation that consumes more than 25% of the world’s oil.

    I’m not trying to be partisan here, just logical. This is a major national security issue for you guys.

  11. shcb Says:

    you’re right, but the solution isn’t to tax ourselves poor so we can lower our CO2 emisions to defeat a boogy man

  12. NorthernLite Says:

    But isn’t using the free market (which is what cap-and-trade is all about) a good way to drive investment into alternatives?

  13. shcb Says:

    Not really, cap and trade isn’t producing anything and the government is regulating the supply of trading units for lack of a better term and those units aren’t anything, they aren’t a megawatt of power I can use to mold parts for instance.

    You are going to have company A who either a) gave a bunch of money to the party in power or b) is in the golden child industry of the party in power, and yes, Republicans will play this game the same as Democrats, but company A will get more units that it can use so it will sell them to company B who doesn’t fall into a) or b) and needs more units than the party in power will give it. This will be just one more way for the party in power to get money and punish sections of society it finds repulsive. In the middle of this will be the brokers and lobbyists, the former skimming profits from each sale and the later working deals to better or lessen the impact of company A and B. The tax payer and consumer (one and the same) will pay the bill and receive nothing in return, and no (or little) new technology will be developed from it. Industry won’t want to invest because every two years they may be become either company A or B depending on the party in power. Trying to figure what consumers want is hard enough, figuring out what politicians want is impossible.

    A true market gives the consumer a better product and people buy it. If people can buy power that is clean and renewable for anywhere close to what they are paying now they will buy it. If people can buy a car that carries a family of 5 comfortably and gets 80 mpg while traveling 75 mph they will beat a path to the door of the dealer.

  14. shcb Says:

    The only part of cap and trade that resembles a free market is the fees paid to the brokers.

  15. NorthernLite Says:

    Here’s one for ya:

    Comapny A’s business processes are very costly in terms of emissions and is affecting our planet in ways it wasn’t meant to be. Company A has a choice – keep paying more than your more efficient competitors or stop spewing some much shit into the air.

  16. NorthernLite Says:

    We’ve disagreed on this for years. It ain’t gonna change now. Have a good weekend.

  17. enkidu Says:

    Actually NL our number one pusher-man for that oh so nasty light sweet crude is none other than the USA-hatin Canada. Plus I hear you guys have the socialism (with that healthcare system for everyone and such).

    I’m all for studying the problem further, but I am all for starting to do something to reduce the horrific cost of doing nothing. Running a long term experiment in atmospheric composition doesn’t seem particularly enlightened to me. If this phase just gets us to take better care of our air and water, our soil and our souls, well I don’t think you can set a cost too high. ‘Conservatives’ were against every single enviro act of the modern era. Of course they can’t think of spending a penny to keep their mother healthy! Think of the profits!

  18. knarlyknight Says:

    Let’s re-cap, shall we? (no pun intended).

    JBC provides another post supporting global warming theories and condemming opponents as either dis-honest or dumb f_cks (with the not so subtle implication that they should be ignored.) So, the choice is clear: either agree with JBC or admit disgrace and prepare to be ignored. (That tactic is becoming tiresome here, JBC.)

    Shcb objects to cap and trade because it’ll become infested with brokers extracting exhorbitant fees, lobbyists pushing around the goal posts, and whimsical or corrupt politicians. Good lord, by that measure we should all throw in the towel and become anarchists. He sees no proof of Global warming.

    NL remains true to the scientists that hold the so called consensus, allowing him to maintain his belief in global warming even as atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise and yet temperatures moderate in a widening gap with initial IPCC modeling. Yet glaciers continue to melt etc. which provides enough signs from God to justify keeping the faith in Al Gore’s religion.

    Enkidu takes the high ground, blasting the Cons for objecting to anti-pollution efforts that would make their own mother (earth) healthy because of the theoretical short term impacts to profits of established America corporate interests (although the water gets muddied by the Cons who assert that they are really just consumer advocates since the Corps just pass along the costs to the consumers.)

    Myself, I favour cap and trade and agree with Enk (except I think Canada pushes more heavy sour crude from tar sands than we do light sweet crude – but maybe upgrading has improved a lot since I last paid attention). Yet I grow more skeptical the more I read. And that puts me in the dumb f_ck category according to JBC (and perhaps NL too.)

    Here’s a couple interesting pieces by Dr. David Evans in case anyone else wants to become a dumb f_ck:



  19. knarlyknight Says:

    Sorry guys, in most of the references above I meant anthropomorphic global warming, not simply global warming. The point being that most agree the planet has been heating up for some time, the debates are mostly whether that is anthropomorphic and how long and fast the trend will continue.

  20. enkidu Says:

    anthropogenic – having its source in human activities

    anthropomorphic – acquiring human-like attributes (usually a animal that looks like a human being or something like that)

    Unless climate change is suddenly a 800 foot tall human shaped giant blob of protoplasm smashing cities with its smog-filled fists, I am thinking you might have these words switched around. Then again we were traveling for much of the last month or so… mb we missed this (tho it was fun to have Palin quit her job while we were with my parents, much laughter “oh i DO so hope she runs for president! then quits half way thru her first and only term to help effect real Change in Amurka!” bwahahaha! no seriously, we libs fear Sarah, please don’t run her for president! nooooo! ;-)

    have a great weekend folks

  21. knarlyknight Says:

    anthropogenic it is.

    A less vitriolic and more thoughtful explanation than Kevin Drum provides about GW deniers was published today.
    “He suggests no less than seven reasons, and does so in a refreshing departure from the condescending tone more usually heard from that side of the argument. Our skepticism is driven, he proposes, by fear, genetics, short-term thinking, selfishness, ignorance, a mistakenly humble view of our own capacity to affect change and the sinister machinations of lobbies with something to gain.”



    But, mother nature mocks us. Thirty thousand years ago, human influence on the atmosphere was negligible, but the sea level was 135 metres lower than it is today. Meanwhile, fossil beaches suggest 5,000 years ago, it was two metres higher than today.

    True the sea level has risen 30 centimetres in the last 100 years: But, given the dramatics of the last ice age, humanity’s effect must be seen as amateur, even if validated. After all, …

  22. shcb Says:

    The biggest problem I have with that article, and it may be a nitpick is the first line, where he says we are disputing the data, we aren’t disputing the data where the data has been collected in a scientific manner, we are disputing the analysis of the data, and the conclusions of that analysis. For instance we are disputing some of the NASA data because it follows the other 3 data sets and then deviates when it is an Incontinent Truth. We dispute some of the models for the perfectly scientific reasons that they don’t work backwards and they admittedly over compensated for clouds by something like a factor of 8. But for the most part we aren’t disputing the data. But this gets to the disingenuous nature of this discussion. People like JBC will say we are ignoring the data and because we are either too stupid to understand the data or we are too corrupt, selfish, whatever, to want to do something to save the planet. But neither is true, we aren’t ignoring the data, we are smart enough to understand the data, we have looked at it and simply don’t agree with the conclusions being drawn. We are also smart enough and have enough experience to see through the political and economical aspects of the scam side of this issue. AlGore becoming a multimillionaire selling carbon offset credit thingies to people to displace some of their guilt, researchers not getting government grants if they don’t toe the line, things like that.

    But what the heck, it keeps JBC out of the bar.

  23. NorthernLite Says:

    enk, Alberta’s oil is not light sweet crude – it’s tar sand and takes an unbelievable amount of resources to extract the oil from the sand and leaves environmental scares that will never heal. Three barrels off freshwater = one barrel of oil.

    Because it’s so expensive to extract, oil prices need to be between $80 US and $100 US a barrel to be profitable. More water, more pollution and more resources required. Obama wants you to get off “dirty oil”. I think this is the oil he is referring to.

    Here is a very short, interesting and sobering video on the Alberta Oil Sands.


  24. enkidu Says:

    NL, I was exaggerating for comedic effect:

    “our number one pusher-man for that oh so nasty light sweet crude is none other than the USA-hatin Canada”

    I suppose to be more factually correct I could have said something like “nasty high sulfur black tar funkiness” You polite Canadian oil pushers are always with the facts, eh? ;-)

    I wonder how much of Canada’s exports to the US are from Athabasca? I would guess less than half. And yeah, I knew it was a nasty business. I seem to recall hearing it would break even at $50 a barrel?

    Just doing nothing isn’t a long term option. And the magical markets aint gonna fix it (mid-last-century, ‘the markets’ would have been happy to let Europe fall to a certain right wing ideologue… see Grandpappy Bush)

  25. knarlyknight Says:

    Enk, Yes, “always with the facts” … About 18% of Canadian oil production is synthetic (from oilsands) but most of that is exported to the US… so you’re right that less than half of US Canadian oil imports come from oil sands, although it might be close to 50%. Strange that that the exact figure seems to be buried. http://membernet.capp.ca/SHB/Sheet.asp?SectionID=3&SheetID=233

    NL – please review the propaganda first please before choosing to believe the environmental doomsayers lock stock and barrel (the truth lies somewhere in between) ;-)
    Here’s some damn fine propaganda on the oilsands: http://www.capp.ca

    andas an aside, here are the Top 15 Countries of origin for USA Crude Oil Imports:

  26. knarlyknight Says:

    Back to the topic of this thread. Is it fair to say that anthropogenic global warming doomsayers are actually Inca Civilization deniers?

  27. shcb Says:

    That has been one of the musings of people on my side of the argument, what is the ideal temperature? Perhaps it was too cold in the little ice age, perhaps it was too cold in 1975, Carl Sagan certainly thought it was, and it was going to get colder unless we do something!. Well, we didn’t do anything and guess what; it got warmer all on its own. People who say we should just do something aren’t necessarily right. You could stand someone up on their feet with a back injury, and that would be doing something, but that something would be wrong. Enky’s example of doing something to stop Hitler is a good one, you have to know when to do something, when to not do anything, and when you do decide to do something, which of your options to pursue.

  28. NorthernLite Says:

    Worth bookmarking: The Toronto Star has dispatched the world’s first multi-media reporter to the last frontier: The Arctic

    Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Paul Watson will be stationed up there. His first write up was today.


  29. NorthernLite Says:

    Oh look, the member from the Party of No doesn’t want to do anything about anything. :P

  30. Smith Says:

    Can you provide a link to Carl Sagan discussing global cooling? All I could find was an article in which he suggested that particulate from the burning oil fields in Kuwait could lead to a period of cooling, an analysis of the cooling effects of nuclear war, and a reference to his claim that clear cutting and burning forests could increase the reflective nature of earth and lead to cooling on his Cosmos show. None of those seem to make the claim that you are implying he made, so I would like to see your source.

  31. Smith Says:

    I don’t the “the Party of No” is a good description for the GOP. They tend to vote yes on plenty of restrictions and spending increases, just for different issues.

  32. shcb Says:


    I’ll look for it but I mostly personally remember him saying it at the time, I was in high school at the time and it is just one of those things you remember. I was working in a Radio Shack store at the time, small town so we did a bit of everything, one of the things we did was set up sophisticated two way radio systems for the farms since this was way before cell phones. Talking to one of the old farmers (probably a multi-millionaire with a two way radio system that would rival a police department) (when we started selling PC’s farmers were the first to buy them) these old farmers, while living a simple life aren’t dummies and he said that there was evidence the earth was beginning to warm and Sagan was full of shit. At the time I of course believed the guy on the TV with the big vocabulary over the mud covered old man that had to spit the tobacco juice from his mouth before he could talk. My respect for both of them has reversed as I have aged.

    Look up the Newsweek article from April 28 1975, my notes say that addresses this issue, Sagan may be quoted in there, it’s been a while since I read it.

  33. Smith Says:

    I already looked through the Newsweek article. There is nothing from Sagan in it. The only direct quotes in it are from the NAS, and those quotes only say that we need to do more research to understand the Earth’s climate and that any change in climate could cause large scale crop failures. Neither of those quotes say anything about the direction (warming/cooling) of the change. The other referenced piece of information is from Reid Bryson, and it is just some information about the Ice Age and the current (at the time) temps in relation to the average temps during the Ice Age. All of the alarmist claims about a new Ice Age are attributed to “meteorologists”, “climatologists”, and other vague/useless sources; basically the high profile version of “some people say.”

    Not to belittle your memory and the claims of the farmers, but I would really like more to go on than just that anecdote. I hope you manage to track something down.

    I used to fool around with CB radios when I was younger. I also had a shortwave receiver. You could find some interesting stuff on there.

  34. Smith Says:

    Oh, and here is the link to the Newsweek article, if anyone is interested.

  35. shcb Says:

    Don’t worry, I belittle my memory or lack there of all the time. The problem is there may not be anything available. I saw this on TV and I’m not sure how much of that was kept, this was decades before You Tube, but I’ll look.

  36. Smith Says:

    The only TV show I have seen noted was Cosmos, but that was from the 80s. He did discuss global cooling on that program, but it was a more rapid form of cooling due to soot and other particulate resulting from slash-and-burn deforestation reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth. This idea is similar to nuclear winter, and Sagan also expressed concerns that the massive oil field fires in Kuwait following the Gulf War could create a similar situation. The fires did cause some cooling, but only in localized areas.

    Perhaps you are combining the 1975 Newsweek article with the Cosmos broadcast and shifting some of the details around? I don’t think it is reasonable to expect anyone to have perfect memory of TV broadcasts from 25-30 years ago.

  37. knarlyknight Says:

    NL – Is Paul Watson really going to investigate and report whether Global Warming is anthropogenic?

    shcb – taking action against Hitler might not have been such a good idea, I realized that from the short story here: http://www.lies.com/wp/2009/07/19/desmond-warzels-wikihistory/ I thought you read it too. (snark)

    Smith – whether the memory from a tv show 30 years ago is correct or not is irrelevant because the data available 30 years ago about historic and actual current worldwide sea and air temperatures is sketchy at best and utterly non-comparable to what we now know.

  38. Smith Says:

    If the point being discussed is whether or not Carl Sagan made a statement on a TV program 30 years ago, then I would say a program from that period would be quite relevant. If you are going to attach a name to a claim, you should be prepared to show that said person made such a remark.

  39. shcb Says:

    You may be right Smith, I may have a couple things mixed together. The conversation with the farmer may have been just a general discussion of scientists talking about global cooling around that time and I superimposed Sagan into my memory. I looked a little at lunch and found an article he and a couple other scientists wrote in the 70’s, but I couldn’t find the text, at least nothing I could open here at work, I’ll look tonight if I get a chance. We have to go out and buy something over an 1/8 mile of plastic fence tonight, not sure how long that will take. It sounds like they were talking about pollution reflecting light back into space and cooling the atmosphere in the Sagan et al. article from what I read from some blogs. It sounds like we may be talking about similar articles/speeches from Sagan, then the question is does that correlate to today’s discussions. I’m sure it had nothing to do with CO2, back then we thought CO2 was a good thing, it made the corn grow, the corn made the cows grow and the cows made our wallets grow.

    I did find a George Will article where he gives quite a few examples of articles of that era that talk about the earth cooling.

  40. enkidu Says:

    This is for my friends up North.
    I’m headed your way boys, keep the UC Dark hidden under the chesterfield.


    foxnewz! we distort, you deride!

  41. shcb Says:

    Here is a wiki quote that says Sagan warned of cooling:

    In the science series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, physicist Carl Sagan warned of catastrophic cooling through the burning and clear cutting of forests. He postulated that the increased albedo of the Earth’s surface might lead to a new ice age. He also mentioned that this may be counteracted and overcome by the release of greenhouse gases. Cosmos was a popular series on public television and was often shown in elementary, junior and senior high schools in the United States.[24]


    and here is that George Will article


  42. Smith Says:

    Yeah, that is the broadcast I was talking about in my previous posts. His claims about slash and burn cooling were closely related to his theories about nuclear winter. I don’t think he was making a claim based on the idea of a shift in climate over a period of time. He was looking more at the extremely rapid change that could be triggered by a large increase in the amount of reflective particles in the earth’s atmosphere. This theory was borne out by the aftermath of the Kuwaiti oil field fires, but it was a just a local effect. I don’t think Sagan’s claims are exactly comparable to the claims being made now. His was not necessarily based on climate trends, so it was less about a possible shift that is currently underway and more of a disaster scenario akin to nuclear winter. I don’t think it is fair to say that Sagan supported the cooling hypothesis proposed by the oft-cited 1975 Newsweek article. In fact, that article failed to site any individual who actually supported the cooling hypothesis proposed therein.

    Actually, in the excerpt you posted, Sagan claims that greenhouse gases could be released as a method to create sufficient warming to counteract the possible cooling. So, even if he wasn’t claiming that global warming was occurring at the time, he did recognize that man could influence the climate and cause warming through the release of greenhouse gases.

  43. shcb Says:

    I will concede that the other scientists talking about global cooling in that era are a better example than Sagan for this discussion. My broader point was that they were wrong then when they were looking at a small snapshot of say 30 or 40 years so it seems logical that the current crop could be wrong using the same period of time. Even Sagan was wrong and admitted it later in his life. Nothing wrong with that. The only people that are never wrong are those that do anything. Back then we didn’t try and change the whole social economic structure to try and fix something that wasn’t broken, we changed propellant in cans, so it was kind of a no harm no foul situation. We are on the road to not only foul, but take the economy to the floor and pummel it. This is particularly frustrating when you see the data leveling out and even dropping for 25% of the small section of the graph in question. Madness.

  44. Smith Says:

    Actually, the point Sagan conceded was that the oil field fires did not result in a global period of cooling. The snapshot he was looking at for that was the brief period of time in which the fires were burning. His claims were not based on climatological trends, but on an understanding of the effects of a rapid accumulation of soot in the upper atmosphere. His error was not a result of misunderstanding climate trends; his error was a result of the soot not reaching the upper atmosphere.

    “The only people that are never wrong are those that do anything.”
    Should this say “those that do nothing”? Or am I misunderstanding your point?

    Near the beginning of your comment, you seem to believe those who would draw conclusions from “a small snapshot of say 30 or 40 years” are basing there hypothesis on insufficient data. However, you conclude your comment by claiming that we should not make any changes to our current laws because 25% of the graph does not show an increase in temperature. By my calculations, that comes out to roughly 32 years. Are you not doing the same thing at the end of your comment that you criticized scientists for doing at the beginning of the same comment?

  45. shcb Says:

    Sorry, dropped the clutch in the brain before I had it in gear with the anything/nothing.

    To your last point, you are right, which is why we are saying we should not be drawing conclusions on 30 years of warming or a few years of level/cooling. We aren’t drawing conclusions either. So we (manmade global warming skeptics) aren’t being hypocritical. Does that make sense?

    We’re saying we had 30 years of cooling that I would assume also had an increase in co2 emissions, this was followed by 30 or 40 years of warming with a larger increase in co2, and recently we are seeing a leveling off of temps with an even greater increase in co2. that would lead one to speculate that co2 isn’t causing the increase, not much anyway, especially if the leveling off turns into another cooling period. So hedge your bets and do what is practical to curb co2 emissions, but don’t go crazy. We did a few things when we noticed a cooling but we didn’t go crazy in the 70’s and 80’s and mother earth did her own thing completely unimpressed with our wailing and gnashing of teeth. She’ll probably do the same here.

  46. Smith Says:

    “The only people that are never wrong are those that do nothing.”

    I don’t necessarily agree with this statement. I guess it depends on how you view choice and actions. Are we accountable for the consequences of our inactions? Should we be? Is it not the case that by not acting, we are necessarily making a choice? By failing to act, one could argue that the (in)actor has in fact reached the conclusion that the result that comes from doing nothing is the best possible result in such a situation. If an objective analysis could show that the result of the aforementioned individual’s inaction is in fact less desirable than the consequences of his potential action, would he not be wrong? This is one of the big issues in philosophical discussions of morality.

    This also ties into your claim that you are not drawing conclusions from the data. However, it seems to me that you are looking at the data and concluding that the best course of action is to continue along the path we are currently on and seeing where it leads. Do you not feel that by saying we should wait and see what develops you are deciding that the correct choice is that of inaction, at least for the time being? How is determining a course of (in)action based on your belief that the data is insufficient different from concluding that we should act because the data is sufficient? Is it not true that in both cases an individual is looking at the available data and choosing an (in)action based on their conclusion about the validity of that data set? To me, it seems as though both sides of the debate are drawing conclusions from the currently available data, they are just evaluating the data differently and making divergent decisions.

  47. shcb Says:

    Ha ha ha, I guess that’s the danger of using an old bromide in a serious discussion. Yes, sometimes it is best to do nothing or at least do less. That old saying was directed more at Sagan being wrong, he was a brilliant man who stuck his neck out many times, and usually he was right this time he was wrong. But yes, I am advocating doing a lot less than people like JBC. Using my example of moving a person with a back injury; just because you shouldn’t move that person with a back injury doesn’t mean you can’t comfort them or tend to the other injuries that don’t require their movement, or you can let them lay there, either is better than trying to get them to stand up.

    Improving scrubbers, replacing coal plants with nuclear as the coal plants wear out, developing renewables to the extent practical, lowering power consumption by making things more efficient, those are all good things I support as long as they are done within the normal course of business, or something close to that normal course. Doubling the cost of electricity through cap and trade for no good reason I don’t support. By all means keep researching global warming, but just be sensible.

    I think you have my stance pegged in your last paragraph, you asked several questions in that paragraph, you are pretty safe to consider them rhetorical.

  48. NorthernLite Says:

    Bahahaha… thanks enk! That was too funny! What an idiot Billy-boy is.

    The really sad part is that a lot of his viewers probably except that as a rational reason why we canucks live longer.

    As some one commented below the video, that must mean the Chineese only live to about 12 years old!

  49. enkidu Says:


    free drugs? and free sex?
    I think I just signed up for that fact finding mission you fellas were putting together. Just don’t tell my wife. I just may stay.

  50. enkidu Says:

    which nation has the most liberal drug laws in Europe?
    Nope not the Netherlands… guess again!


    U.S. is home to 5% of the global population but 25% of its prisoners.

  51. ethan-p Says:

    I just have to chime in on this – because damnit, this is the Internet and everyone totally wants to hear my opinion ;)

    The Global Climate issue is just getting more and more silly. It is impossible to have a reasonable dialog about the issue without involving emotion unless all parties in the conversation completely agree. If one person interprets the data a bit differently, they’re obviously a shill for one side or the other – and all sorts of other terrible stuff.

    Does this not strike anyone else as total bullshit? Infighting over interpretation of data (politically motivated or not) on this level is frighteningly similar to religious arguments.

    To me – hearing that kind of emotion in a presentation/argument tends to seriously erode the credibility, no matter what the side or argument. It just feels like someone is trying to sell something, and I smell bullshit (just like with religion).

    …now, don’t even get me started on how silly science has become (on either side), or cap & trade.

  52. Smith Says:

    I think all of that applies to any political topic.


    “It is impossible to have a reasonable dialog about the issue without involving emotion unless all parties in the conversation completely agree.”

    and this:

    “It just feels like someone is trying to sell something”

    are especially true of most political “discourse.” People rarely discuss political issues without trying to sell someone (possibly not even a concrete person involved in the discussion, but rather some hypothetical outside observer) on their side of the argument. None of this is unique to the topic of climate change. Look at abortion, gun control, torture, and every other major political topic.

    Perhaps your point is that you disagree with the politicization of the issue of climate change? If that is the case, do you think there is any way to avoid making it into a political issue? Is there an objective approach that would satisfy all parties and eliminate political debate about this topic?

  53. ethan-p Says:

    SHCB, very insightful. I think that actually helps me actually understand my beliefs than just cop-out by saying that I’m anti-everything.

    Perhaps I feel that this issue is more politically charged than others; or maybe it’s that I actually care about the politicization of this than abortion, gun control, torture, etc. Further, I am pretty upset that the politicization of this issue has corrupted the name of science (again, on both sides).

    I guess that to me; since I hold science in a such high regard, this issue is more shameful than others. Science is *supposed* to transcend politics…unless you’re talking about eugenics, or some other bad popular science. It even scares me that I just subconsciously referenced an idea from a bad Michael Crichton novel lambasting environmentalists (so don’t call me out on it – damnit). I just feel that, since this is an issue of science, we should be a bit more pragmatic about how we view this than we are with issues that are strictly political and firmly rooted in personal ethics (such as abortion and gun control).

    The emotion and prejudice that goes into this issue absolutely muddies the scientific waters that should ideally be the only thing that gives us clarity and understanding in an otherwise gray world. It is becoming clear that this issue has become a metaphor for other beliefs and agendas. If it were possible to show irrefutable causal proof or disproof of anthropogenic global climate change, does anyone here believe that either side would accept it – or even welcome it? For the environmentalists, disproof of causal anthropogenic global climate change would mean a stop to the vast and unprecedented momentum that their movement has picked up. I feel that because of this, all professed truths about global climate change are beyond question, regardless of where the truth lies. For the political conservatives, this represents a similarly massive political setback; an indictment of free market capitalism. Likewise, any acknowledgment of (causal anthropogenic) global climate change is completely taboo, regardless of where the truth lies.

    Perhaps science is the last place where I am still naively idealistic. I know that there’s always some kind of politics in science. Someone has to issue grants…regardless of whether the actual scientists have an agenda, it certainly makes sense to word grant proposals in a way that will entice the people in control of the funds to part ways with those dollars the name of “science”.

    Regardless – I remain idealistic…but I’d rather cling to that last bit of idealism and belief in scientific truth than succumb to blindly choosing sides between the free market capitalist idealists and the enviro-idealists. Shame on everyone who chooses emotion and politics over the search for truth and understanding (which seems like pretty much everyone).

  54. ethan-p Says:

    I mean Smith – not SHCB :)

  55. shcb Says:

    How would this be an indictment of free market capitalism? Capitalists don’t care what they make money on. If you want evidence of this see how many companies are professing to be “green”.

  56. ethan-p Says:

    SHCB: I don’t question that there’s opportunity in going green. I do think that the concept of government-funded/encorced-by-taxation green collar jobs are a boondoggle, but that’s probably best left for another conversation.

    Perhaps I worded that wrong. I suppose that it would be less of an indictment of free market capitalism, and more of an indictment of consumerism. Further, many environmentalists are also pushing for things like government regulation and cap & trade (taxation). I believe that this is one reason why conservatives are partaking in their own bad science (or perhaps weighted interpretation of data).

  57. shcb Says:

    Thanks for the clarification, there are some issues in there we could discuss the finer points of, but in general your ideas are valid. This is a political issue as you and Smith were discussing, unfortunately whenever public policy is part of the equation politics are involved almost without exception. I think the selective data of conservatives is being professed by those farther to the fringes than the selective data of liberals, for what it’s worth. That may just be my conservative blinders, but I’ve really tried to look at this subject as critically as I can. I also think conservatives are using the regulation and taxation issue as a separate but related one. I don’t think they are using bad science to combat regulation and taxation. Again I’m not talking about people on the fringes of conservatism. Conservatives are using the taxation issue as character assignation “how can you trust liberals, all they want is your money” type of thing, I’ll admit that, I kind of have to since I say it all the time myself. Just my thoughts, I don’t have anything to back that up.

  58. NorthernLite Says:

    shcb, shouldn’t you be off terrorizing a town-hall meeting somewhere?


  59. shcb Says:

    Funny you should mention…. I went the grocery store this weekend and low and behold I ended up smack in the middle of a anti socialized health care protest. One of our congressmen Ed Perlmutter (sp?) showed up at the local King Soopers


    there were several hundred people there mostly protesting against socialized healthcare, I guess there were a few for it but I didn’t see any. I did my shopping and left, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the incompetence of rural/farmer/conservative folks in the art of protesting. If the event had been held 15 miles to the west in Boulder things would have been very different. Ed goes to these stores, sets up a card table and answers folks questions. You can usually get a long chat with him at these events from what I’ve heard since only a handful show up for the couple hours he’s on location. With all the people that showed up he didn’t change the format, to his credit (he is a liberal Democrat) the only change they made was to escort people to his table in groups of 5 to 10. There were no speeches in the half hour or so I was at the store, no one made a fool of themselves, got loud or unruly, they just found shade where they could and patiently waited their turn. I guess he stayed several hours after he was scheduled to leave and talked to whoever wanted to talk. Good guy even if I don’t agree with his politics.

    But yes I have an HOA meeting next Tuesday that I will report on, I’ve been having fun at their expense lately. That and putting up almost a thousand foot of plastic fence last week, nine straight days of digging holes (125 of the little things) and planting petrochemicals in the voids.

    How’s your mom?

  60. NorthernLite Says:

    Mom’s doing great, thanks for asking. Seven more radiation treatments and then a few weeks break before they remove the tumour.

    Our ‘socialized’ system is working fabulously. She’ll be cancer free in a little while and she didn’t even have to sell her house or declare bankruptcy to do it! I love our socialist country so much for saving my mom’s life and for caring for our elderly, our children, our disabled and our less fortunate.

    I guess that’s why we live longer and happier lives. Viva la socialism!

  61. NorthernLite Says:

    Why were those people outside King Soopers protesting Medicare and Medicaid?

  62. shcb Says:

    It’s good vegitable season, I was more worried about getting my Olatha corn than what was going on in the parking lot. Are you refering to some signs in the crowd or something in the article? I just looked at the pitchures. help me out a bit and I’ll answer.

    We’ll keep mom in our prayers a bit longer but that is certainly good news, give her a hug for me.

  63. NorthernLite Says:

    Thanks shcb.

    You said the people outside the store were protesting socialized healthcare, so I assumed you were referring to Medicare.

  64. NorthernLite Says:

    The veggies are amazing right now, we had some amazing peaches & cream sweet corn-on-the-cob yesterday that was quite possibly the best I’ve ever had.

  65. shcb Says:

    Oh, you were playing a little gotcha with me, good job. I couldn’t agree with you more, you can’t get much more socialized than Medicare and Medicaid especially after Bush gave them the prescription bill. It’s funny, the old folks are one of the most outspoken groups in this debate. What shocked me even more were the signs at King Soopers of a group called “teachers against socialized medicine” I don’t know a group more liberal and more in line with Democrats than teachers and yet they were there in force. Back to the old people; they are against SHC because they are afraid their SHC will be diminished if everyone has SHC as best as I can figure. They are also afraid their 80 year old knee won’t be replaced if someone with a 40 year old knee needs one.
    So Democrat teachers are against it, seniors with SHC are against it because they don’t want anyone else to have their benefits and the insurance companies are for it. What strange bedfellows this issue attracts.

  66. NorthernLite Says:

    I think strange is definitely a good way to describe the “debate” that’s taking place over this issue.

  67. shcb Says:

    The debate is legitimate, this will change the lives of Americans and Canadians for decades if not forever. People need to voice their opinions. And they are.

  68. NorthernLite Says:

    I have to disagree. Throwing out words like “death panels” and crap like that is not legitimate. There are legitimate items to debate, but it ain’t happening.

  69. NorthernLite Says:

    Not to mention the latest post on Lies.com.

  70. shcb Says:

    Sure there are legitimate items being debated. Listen to talk radio. legitimate issues have been discussed the last three days in almost all three hours each day by three different guest hosts.

  71. shcb Says:

    … on Mike Rosen’s show

  72. shcb Says:

    This is the kind of thing they are talking about


  73. Smith Says:

    I haven’t been following the movement of the health care plan too closely recently; however, the disingenuous argument that assisting people in creating living wills, power of attorney documents, planning estate management, etc. is somehow equivalent to “death panels” is pretty disgusting.

    The last I heard about the health care “reform” was that it would require all Americans to have health insurance, insurance companies could not deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and the government would essentially give private insurers a subsidy in exchange for covering low income and/or high cost individuals. Is that an accurate summary? My knowledge of the proposal is several months old at this point. Are there any plans for a universal single-payer option? I don’t think I can get behind funneling taxes into private insurers. I would much rather see a NHS style system that reduces private insurance companies to merely supplementary roles.

    I really don’t buy the argument that for-profit private corporations whose bottom lines are dependent upon their ability to deny patients access to treatment are some how more likely to pay for medical costs than a government run agency. I have difficulty accepting the claim that access to treatment would be diminished under an NHS-style system.

  74. NorthernLite Says:

    Yeah that’s a pretty good summary Smith.

    What I find hilarious (and shcb just did it again with his previous post) is that insurance companies deny people coverage and care all the time, but the Right is trying to say the government will do the same.

    Hmm, who would try to save a buck more? A for-profit-accountable-only-to-shareholder busniess or a not-for-profit government administered plan.

    Go listen to more talk radio. They’ve done so much for civil discourse.

    And picking a bad story out of millions is retarded. Do you know how long this page could be filled with horror stories of American patients dying and being denied coverage?

    I just heard a former executive from Cigna explain how he quit because the company denied a transplant for a little girl suffering from leukemia and when they finally gave in due to public pressure, it was too late and she died.

    You can pick on other countries HC systems all you want but know this: They all live longer, cost less to administer and everyone is covered.

    Dems da facts. And that’s why the right is resorting to scare tactics (Iraq war anyone?).

  75. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    We have refusal of care in both privatized and socialized healthcare systems, seems like that’s something no one really wants to address, in that if you said ‘What if we just make any denial of care illegal?’

  76. enkidu Says:

    this is great – I loved the Rep’s sense of humor

    plus you have to love the bearded fellow who gets up and quotes the Constitution and then sits down (around the five minute mark)

    And Glenn Beck had a whole segment on his show about how Obama is a Nazi…

    How in the world can we have a ‘reasonable debate’ with people who are clearly certifiable? present company excepted, well, sometimes… on a good day… sorta

    btw – I was at my local townhall, I carried a sign that said “rednecks for healthcare reform!” thus proving all rednecks are FOR healthcare reform (just to counter shcb’s anecdote) ;-)

  77. Smith Says:


    ‘What if we just make any denial of care illegal?’

    That is one obvious possible answer. However, we must consider that health care is for-profit on the doctor/treatment side too. If doctors are given carte blanche when it comes to determining medical procedures, it creates another area for potential abuse. There is a rather long article in the New Yorker that looks at a Texas town that has unusually high health care spending. The conclusion reached in the article is that the high costs are the result of over utilization.

  78. shcb Says:

    I always get a little chuckle when I hear people complain about a problem with a corporation and then decide the solution is government, a bigger corporation that has the power to make the rules and toss you in jail. Smith makes a good point, when you have overutilization costs rise. But of course you have to have a benchmark to determine where the over/under line is placed. When HMO’s were introduced people thought they were the best thing since sliced bread, you go to an HMO clinic and you don’t have to pay for anything. So everyone started filling these clinics up to overflow with any little minor ache or pain. The market responded with PPO, you pay a little more, but not a lot, and you get better service, a happy medium. Once government takes over there isn’t much incentive to make those compromises. When costs skyrocket, you have two choices, ration care or control the amount paid to doctors, or both meaning less doctors, meaning more people at each doctor, sets in another round of rationing…

    Getting to some specifics from talk radio, good talk radio, and yes it is out there, Tom Tancredo took a call yesterday. Tim from Castle Rock said he has a small company that is 10 y ears old, his payroll is $860k, his insurance costs last year were $32,000 and his profit in this downturn last year was $3,200. If we get out our copies of the bill being discussed and turn to page 149-150, I’ll wait …. You should be at the section titled “employer contributions in lieu of coverage” this section says that if you don’t take the “government option” (not yet defined) then you will have to pay an additional 8% fee (tax) of your payroll, so Tim would pay an additional $69,000, putting him out of business and his workers out of work, but they would have the good fortune of having health care should they get sick before their house is repossessed. You see a private insurance company can’t say, “if you don’t buy my product you have to give me twice the cost of my product for nothing while still buying my competitor’s product.” This is the fascist element of this bill, government won’t own the companies, they will leave the illusion of a free market while controlling every aspect from the wages of the doctors and nurses to the level of care provided. Which is what Smith wants in his 10:49 post, he might just get what he wishes for.

  79. shcb Says:

    Jayson, we have made it illegal to deny care, go to a general hospital’s emergency room and see the results.

  80. Smith Says:

    Actually, page 149-150 doesn’t say that at all. As per sec 311 on pg 143-144, the employer is required to offer employees with “individual and family coverage under a qualified health benefits plan (or under a current employment-based health plan” and contribute towards the premiums of such coverage.

    A qualified health benefits plan is defined in Title I and is any plan that meets certain standards related to
    (1) Subtitle B (relating to affordable coverage).
    (2) Subtitle C (relating to essential benefits).
    (3) Subtitle D (relating to consumer protection).

    I would assume that all major American insurance companies will meet these requirements. The section you are referring to outlines employer contributions to the government option in the event that employees choose to use that plan in lieu of the private group plan offered by the employer. This cost will be applied on a per employee basis. The only occasion in which the employer would be required to make a contribution to the government option equal to 8% of the total payroll would be if his entire staff chose the government option. Obviously, in such a scenario, the employer could drop the group plan and switch to only offering the government plan.

    One would imagine that private insurers would be encouraged by market pressures to offer a product that is superior to that of the government option. If private insurance companies are able to step up, I can’t imagine that employees would choose the government option instead of a private group plan.

    “Jayson, we have made it illegal to deny care, go to a general hospital’s emergency room and see the results.”

    This is a bit of an equivocation. J.A.Y.S.O.N. is discussing denial of care by insurers, you are discussing denial of care by doctors; however, I suspect you are well aware of this distinction and are just trying to score easy points. Argumentation of this nature is almost as lazy as calling people/ideas/etc. fascists, as you did here: “This is the fascist element of this bill”

    This “control the amount paid to doctors” does not necessarily lead to this “meaning less doctors”. There are countries in which government salaried doctors still make well above the average income of said country.

  81. shcb Says:

    I don’t think you are correct, I don’t see anything about individual employees in that section, they are talking about average pay. You may be right if the payroll is under $400k, I haven’t studied it enough, but of course that wouldn’t apply in my example. I need to study 313- a-2 more as well.

    I’m not being lazy, just truthful, when government regulates entire industries to the point that most all decisions are made by the government and simply carried out by private bureaucrats instead of government bureaucrats instead of owning those industries outright as they do in communism it is fascism, simple as that. If that is what you want, fine. But call a spade a spade.

    Do the countries you are talking about regulate the wages of those private doctors?

  82. Smith Says:

    You really need to read more than one page of a 1000+ page document. If you actually read the whole of the Subtitle you are quoting from, you will see on page 144 that:

    Beginning with Y2, if an employee declines such
    offer but otherwise obtains coverage in an Exchange-
    participating health benefits plan (other than by rea-
    son of being covered by family coverage as a spouse
    or dependent of the primary insured), the employer
    shall make a timely contribution to the Health In-
    surance Exchange with respect to each such em-
    ployee in accordance with section 313.

    The “with respect to each such employee in accordance with section 313” part is critical.

    “Do the countries you are talking about regulate the wages of those private doctors?”

    What private doctors? I am not sure I understand your meaning here.

    I’ll let Orwell address your fascism argument.

    “The word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else… almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. – George Orwell, What is Fascism?. 1944.”

  83. shcb Says:

    My mistake, you said the doctors made more than the average of that country, I thought you meant the doctors paid by government were paid more than doctors that were not paid by the government. I’m sure prospective doctors in medical school will be happy to know that after spending ten years of their lives and a hundred thousand dollars they will be able to make $42,000 for their family of four.

    I’ll look into your other points. Admittedly I haven’t looked at the bill as you have. Knowing Tom Tancredo, I’m sure he has and I was taking his word for his assessment. I’m not even sure what this Health Insurance Exchange is all about.

  84. NorthernLite Says:

    Well, now we see what happens when the debate is about actual facts. The only thing people like shcb and talk radio can throw out are words like facist, socialist, death panels, etc. People are starting to realize it’s all BS.

    Doctors making $42,000 per year? Wtf are you talking about? Where did that come from? Just making more shit up because Smith presented you with facts that severly contradict your talking points?

    In Canada, doctors earn anywhere between $200,000 – $700,000 depending on where they practice, area of medicine, experieince, etc.

    I’m actually thinking the longer this debate goes on, the better it will be for real reform as all the lies and crap gets cleared out.

  85. Smith Says:

    By “over the national average”, I meant more along the lines of 2-3 times the average salary.

    1000+ pages is a lot to process, and so far I have mainly focused on the sections we have been discussing here. The main issue with focusing on a single page is that you were basing your claim on Division A, Title III, Subtitle B, Section 313. That is several layers deep, and you really should start at the Title level to get a clear picture of what is being discussed. There are tons of cross-references and very precise language that make it almost impossible to assess any given section in a vacuum. Relying on a clearly biased source, like Tancredo, is probably not the wisest decision. I’m glad to hear you are going to take a look at the text of the bill. I’ll be giving it a go in my spare time. Hopefully we can find some more interesting parts to discuss.

  86. enkidu Says:

    not so sure NL, the ‘debate’ is hardly getting started and already the hate is getting out of hand. All this bilge about death panels (just a short step away from ‘Obama’s death squads!’), about tyrants and fascism and watering the tree of liberty are increasing, not decreasing. The secret service took one guy in for questioning at one of these town halls who had a sign, “Death to Obama, Death to Michelle and her two stupid daughters” Thems some ace ‘debatin’ skillz.

    smith, I appreciate your taking the time to debunk the bunkem, thank you.

    Some of the questions I ask people in face to face discussions on healthcare is, did you know that by most every metric France has better healthcare than the US? Did you know that their system is actually a hybrid? Do you really think we can’t do universal healthcare better than France? Better than Canada? If the 1/5 or 1/6 so of our population who have no insurance just show up at county general for emergency care, who do you think already pays for that? Wouldn’t it be better if these folks had a healthcare that, oh I dunno, actually lowered costs by preventive care? Smoking cessation, obesity, diet, exercise, etc. A check up every once in a while would be cheap and be a great ROI.

    A public option would be a good start.

    Docs making $42k? right… Not as in correct, but right wing. Do they really earn that little over in the Wingnutoverse? wow

  87. Smith Says:

    In fairness to shcb, the $42,000 was a response to my claim that government doctors’ salary was above the national average. He decided to interpret that to mean something like 1% above average, but that is technically in line with what I said. I have since clarified that I meant 2-3 times above average.

  88. shcb Says:

    The way I’m reading this is:
    a) All employers will be forced to provide insurance for their employees, this will kill many small businesses or make it cost prohibitive to start up, I’ve been there done that. So much for helping Main Street.

    b) The employer must make contributions for the employee if that employee wants insurance provided by a private company.

    c) If the employee wants the socialized health care the employer has to pay a tax equal to 8% of his payroll times the percentage of employees enrolled in the SHC. I use the word tax because unlike the premiums he is paying now the money, being fungible, will just go into the general fund and if the cost of the SHC plan is greater than those revenues money can be printed by the government to cover the overrun, if the cost is less, it just stays in the general fund and is used somewhere else. But there will be no market forces to drive that price to its lowest practical level.

    So it seems my mistake was that in the example I gave the employer will only be paying twice the amount he is now for employees that take the SHC option, not three times. In either case health care will be much more expensive for the same or less service.

  89. Smith Says:

    “a) All employers will be forced to provide insurance for their employees,”

    I have no qualms with this. Employers that don’t provide insurance to their employees are creating health care “leeches”. If the employer cannot afford to pay for insurance for their employees, the employer is probably not paying his employees enough to purchase their own insurance either. These uninsured employees will have to rely on emergency care that, under the system we have now, is subsidized by patients that have the ability to pay for care and by the government anyway.

    “b) The employer must make contributions for the employee if that employee wants insurance provided by a private company.”

    Most good employers cover part of their employees costs anyway. As in the first case, those that don’t probably also pay their employees too little to cover their own plans. So, I still have no qualms with this.

    “I use the word tax because unlike the premiums he is paying now the money, being fungible, will just go into the general fund”

    Premiums paid to health insurance companies goes into a general fund for that particular insurance company.

    “if the cost of the SHC plan is greater than those revenues money can be printed by the government to cover the overrun”

    If the costs overrun a private insurance company’s fund under the current system, they will just begin denying coverage/kicking people off the plan.

    “if the cost is less, it just stays in the general fund and is used somewhere else.”

    This is the same for private insurance companies now. “Somewhere else” most likely means bonus packages for CEOs and/or bonuses to medical reviewers who “help cut losses”. I’m not sure what distinction you are trying to make between “tax” and “premiums” since they function the same way by going into a general pool. The only difference is government pool versus private insurer pool.

    I will concede that the 8% is pretty arbitrary. It would be better if there was a set maximum. Maybe require the employer to pay either 8% of an employee’s salary or $X per month, whichever is least.

    “In either case health care will be much more expensive for the same or less service.”

    Your points “a” and “b” should get rid of the uninsured individuals who rack up large ER bills that they cannot pay for. This will allow hospitals to stop inflating costs for those with the ability to pay in order to recoup losses from those who lack insurance. This should reduce medical costs, not increase them. I don’t think we can determine if service will be “less” until after the plan goes into effect. I would imagine the uninsured might actually receive “more” service.

    In an earlier post, you mentioned 313-a-2. As far as I can tell, that section is saying that the employee will still have to pay the full amount of the public option premium. The amount contributed by the employer does not reduce the amount the employee is required to contribute to the public plan of his/her choosing (there are varying policies offered under the public option). I would assume this is done to prevent the public option from being too appealing to employees. If the premiums under the public option are higher than under the private policy provided by the employer, the employee would have little reason to switch. It is a measure designed to protect the private insurance companies from being pushed out of the market by free (for the employee) government insurance.

  90. knarlyknight Says:

    Interesting discussion. Thanks Smith for countering with information.

    Please excuse my lack of knowledge of the Bill, which will be apparent in my questions:

    Do the premiums (or tax) arise from the employee paying a percentage and the employer paying another percentage? (In my Cdn case, my employer pays the premium, all I pay is the tax on the premium as if it were income or other taxable benefit.) Is it 50/50 or is there some wage based formula?

    “What if” the employee chooses some horrendously expensive health insurance, is the employer only obligated to pay what he would have if the employee had chosen the public plan option?

  91. shcb Says:


    I haven’t read the whole bill obviously but from what I have read in this discussion with Smith is it seems the premiums paid by the employee in the public plan are based on the amount paid under the current Medicaid (Medicare?) plan. A lot of this is somewhat up in the air, the bill just says the secretary will come up with a plan to deal with this or that detail and then gives some rather broad guidelines as to what it should look like. For instance it says that to make the public option competitive the plan will have three levels of care basic, premium and super premium, but doesn’t say what those plans will look like.

    As now the employee is given choices by the employer so the employee can’t chose anything more expensive than the employer allows. If the employee doesn’t like those choices he will now have the other option of taking a plan from a pool of policies that the insurance companies will put together, the government will essentially be one of those insurance companies with their own plan inserted with the others.

    The Idea of this extra tax the employer will pay is that since he isn’t paying for the employee’s premium to an insurance company, he (the employer) will pay that to the government who will then either pay an insurance company in the pool or pay itself as an insurance provider. We don’t pay tax on medical insurance.

    This whole pool idea was originally designed for small businesses (10 employees or less in the first year) so they could get competitive prices but it quickly expands to include everyone, by year 3 or 4 as I recall.

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