dough560 on August 16, 2010, 11:46:49 pm
The good ones, and I've worked with a few, I have a lot of respect for.  Many of the missions suck, but in today's world, need to be done.

However, J Thomas' scenario postulated a secret base with a security detail made up of incompetents....  who set out to eliminate a security risk through attempted murder, through indirect means.  I'd really like to examine the logic used to reach such an assumption.

As for black ops.  Not NO, but HELL NO !  I had enough brushes with that life to know I wanted nothing to do with it.


J Thomas on August 17, 2010, 10:42:22 am

J Thomas' scenario postulated a secret base with a security detail made up of incompetents....  who set out to eliminate a security risk through attempted murder, through indirect means.  I'd really like to examine the logic used to reach such an assumption.

Not a secret base. A secret mass concentration. Not a bunch of people making heat, using fuel and consumables, trying to avoid making unusual EM radiation even while they accomplish whatever their base is intended to do.

I don't know what a government would want a secret mascon for. A big bomb? Some sort of unattended supply cache? A special EMP bomb or something, that could somehow disrupt communication over a giant volume of space currently filled with communicating AnCaps? Some kind of sensors? I dunno.

But given a secret with high mass, they might have somebody who's supposed to keep it from getting disturbed. Whoever is in charge of that might be assigned to protect dozens of other minor secrets. Far from home. Long-term. They might have already spent several years waiting for something to happen, and this is the first threat that's shown up.

People lose their edge with that sort of job. It won't get the best black ops guys in the first place, unless the tasks look absolutely vitally important.

If you want to maintain their competence, you'll rotate in fresh people at minimum every two months. And you'll have occasional tests, where you send your own inspectors in to infiltrate the thing, pretending to be AnCaps doing it, and if they don't get caught quickly they reveal themselves with reprimands, and if they do get caught they reveal themselves quickly and pass out commendations.

But it's hard to do all that deep in enemy territory, and excessive activity might attract the very attention you're avoiding. Maybe better to be inconspicuous. It's just a mascon, and not a particularly visible one. Assign some guys to protect it that you don't trust to do a good job, and you don't have to worry about them messing up something else. If nobody finds the mascon which is by far the most likely case, then it won't matter how good a job they'd have done.

Doesn't every military have jobs like that? Checking on ground sensors in northern Canada? Guarding an embassy in Niger or Mali? Tasks which could become vitally important if, say, the embassy was attacked, but which are treated by everybody as punishment details?

Given the original secret mascon I think the rest is not all that implausible. I'm a little unclear what the secret would be, but if it was me telling the story I could come up with something. And after all, since it's a government doing it, it doesn't have to completely make sense.

ContraryGuy on August 19, 2010, 10:40:49 am
It's a bitch to get them reattached even now, half a century or so later.  Full function is still a work in progress.  Personally, I'll go with 'borg bits until the state of the art improves (unlikely with Obamacare).

You know, I hate to point out the obvious, but, since most people in America these days are stupid to the point of Heinleinian criminality, (and I hope you will excuse the yelling, but...)
ALL HEALTHCARE IS ALREADY SOCIALISM!

Now, if you will engage the parts of your brain that in the past were dedicated to thinking, you will realize that any healthcare program that you pay into (or that your employer pays into) is designed to spread the cost of medical care around so that one person doesnt die for lack of money. 
If persons a to z make small payments into a group fund, then if person m gets sick he can withdraw money from the group fund (called health insurance) to pay for the cost of the doctor visit.
Should persons a to l become upset because person m is using up a to l's money, especially when person a to l have never had to withdraw money from the fund, person person m is always doing it?
See, socialism. 

I will understand if your brain has become so atrophied that this does not make sense.  After all, it is not your fault, right?  The government must have done something to your thinking ability, which is why you have you no longer have any, right?

Brugle on August 19, 2010, 02:23:29 pm
It's a bitch to get them reattached even now, half a century or so later.  Full function is still a work in progress.  Personally, I'll go with 'borg bits until the state of the art improves (unlikely with Obamacare).

You know, I hate to point out the obvious, but, since most people in America these days are stupid to the point of Heinleinian criminality, (and I hope you will excuse the yelling, but...)
ALL HEALTHCARE IS ALREADY SOCIALISM!

What are you getting so excited about?  There is nothing in wdg3rd's quote that suggests disagreement with you. It simply suggests that Obamacare, whatever else it does, will reduce future innovation in health care.  I agree with him and also with you (other than with some quibbling over terminology--see below).

Certainly, Obamacare entrenches the current government-controlled (socialistic) health care system, makes significant health care reform more difficult, raises costs, and probably reduces availability.  Obamacare doesn't cause those problems, it just makes them worse.

you will realize that any healthcare program that you pay into (or that your employer pays into) is designed to spread the cost of medical care around so that one person doesnt die for lack of money. ... See, socialism.
A voluntary group activity that can be seen after the fact to have benefited some people more than others is not socialism.

Should health care (of a sort) provided by the VA be considered socialism?  Sure.  Should employer-provided prepaid medical care (called "health insurance"), which is encouraged (but not required) by government, and which is highly controlled by government, be called socialism?  If you want to, OK.  Should Medicare be called socialism?  If you want to, OK.  Should voluntary group "health insurance" be called socialism?  Only if you do so because both the care and the "insurance" are highly government-controlled, but this doesn't really matter since it such a small part of the market.  In summary, I won't object to your calling the US health care system socialism.

By the way, aren't you a little embarrassed by your gratuitous insults?

jamesd on August 19, 2010, 04:14:00 pm
Now, if you will engage the parts of your brain that in the past were dedicated to thinking, you will realize that any healthcare program that you pay into (or that your employer pays into) is designed to spread the cost of medical care around so that one person doesnt die for lack of money. 
If persons a to z make small payments into a group fund, then if person m gets sick he can withdraw money from the group fund (called health insurance) to pay for the cost of the doctor visit.
Should persons a to l become upset because person m is using up a to l's money, especially when person a to l have never had to withdraw money from the fund, person person m is always doing it?
See, socialism. 

Socialism is a gun to your head and a baton in your face.  If we could get to choose what kind of health plan we wanted, then it would not be socialism.  But if what the health plan covers is set by the state, to include coverage for every pressure group and lobby group of medical professionals, to include toupees and involuntary psychiatric commitment and exclude what the state finds too inconvenient or too expensive, (Avastin for cancer) then it is socialism.

For socialism in action, consider the Netherlands, where the treatment for inordinately expensive ailments is a lethal dose of barbiturates.  Last year 0.4% of deaths in the Netherlands, one in two fifty, http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMsa071143 were by a barbiturate overdose to which the patient had not consented.  That is socialism.  Death Panels are socialism.

When the Obama regime decided not to cover avastin, because that would cost $1000 per day of life, but decided it would cover sex changes and involuntary psychiatric commitment, that was socialism.  Perhaps the decision on Avastin was reasonable, and perhaps a private insurance company would have made the same choice - but the customers might have chosen a different insurance company.   Medicine is socialist because they are all compelled to cover some things and refrain from covering others, which means the government gets to decide who dies and who lives.  When the Obama regime decides Avastin will not be covered, and the Netherlands puts an overdose of barbiturates in your IV, that is socialism.  If Kaiser had decided not to cover Avastin - well that was the sort of decision they were infamous for, which decisions led to a lot of people switching to a different health fund, and because back then people could and did switch to a different health fund with different policies, not socialism.

ContraryGuy on August 21, 2010, 03:38:19 pm
By the way, aren't you a little embarrassed by your gratuitous insults?

No, because they got your attention. 
Because you did not respond to them, it shows that you believed they were not directed at you.  And, by your intelligent response, I can see that that you were right.

ContraryGuy on August 21, 2010, 04:16:01 pm
Socialism is a gun to your head and a baton in your face. 

No, that is fascism.

Quote
If we could get to choose what kind of health plan we wanted, then it would not be socialism. 
What if you got to choose your health plan, and the government used the taxes you already pay to cover the costs of that plan. Wouldnt that be socialism?
Wouldnt that be the best of all possible worlds?
Quote
But if what the health plan covers is set by the state, to include coverage for every pressure group and lobby group of medical professionals, to include toupees and involuntary psychiatric commitment and exclude what the state finds too inconvenient or too expensive, (Avastin for cancer) then it is socialism.

Thats not socialism, thats bad (if not totally corrupt) policy-making.
Socialism is where the government uses your tax money to provide you with a good or service that could otherwise be provided (often at a higher cost, or loss of convenience) by private or for-profit companies.

Quote
For socialism in action, consider the Netherlands, where the treatment for inordinately expensive ailments is a lethal dose of barbiturates.  Last year 0.4% of deaths in the Netherlands, one in two fifty, http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMsa071143 were by a barbiturate overdose to which the patient had not consented.  That is socialism.  Death Panels are socialism.

Again, that is not socialism.  That is bad medical practice.  Death Panels are not socialism.  Death Panels exist only in Sarah Palin's (and your, apparently) imagination.

Do I really need to take up your time explaining what end-of-life counseling is?  Do you know what 'medical directives' and Do Not Resuscitate orders are?
in case you dont know, these are orders to any medical staff the tell them how a person wishes to be treated if they are not able to speak their wishes directly.

What you and Sarah call "death panels" was a directive to Medicare that would pay a persons primary care physician to ask a terminally ill patient what their wishes are for end-of-life care.
This idea was created to prevent more Terry Schiavos.  If a person has a Do not Resuscitate order, then no-one should be allowed to override it .  Not even the President, on Easter morning.
But, oh no; we cant have people deciding on their own how they wish to be treated by their own physicians, should they be in a position where they can no longer communicate.
No, they have to be pushed aside by celebrity half-politicians who who care more about grandstanding than they do about quality medical care.

And you bought into it.  With all the power of Google at your fingertips, you couldnt be bothered to think for yourself.  That is criminal stupidity.

Quote
When the Obama regime decided not to cover avastin, because that would cost $1000 per day of life, but decided it would cover sex changes and involuntary psychiatric commitment, that was socialism.
Perhaps, but I still think that you are mis-using the term simply because you dont have any wider vocabulary. 
Quote
 Medicine is socialist because they are all compelled to cover some things and refrain from covering others,
Medicine is socialist?  Who is the 'they' you are referring to here?

Quote
which means the government gets to decide who dies and who lives.
And that is worse than an un-elected bureaucrat who only gets a paycheck when *they* decide who lives and who dies?

I think this line indicates that you are drinking too much Kool-Aid.  Are your sure you have never been to Jonestown?

The only evidence you have that government (socialized) healthcare will have secret meetings where they say "Patient x will live and Patient y will die" is from Facebook posting of a celebrity half-politician and talk radio propaganda paid for by th Party out of power.
You have demonstrated that you know how to use Google to back up the points you want to make, but not to find out the truth behind claims you happen to believe in.
This means that you are not stupid, merely another person who is intentionally hate-filled because your people lost an election.

Quote
When the Obama regime decides Avastin will not be covered, and the Netherlands puts an overdose of barbiturates in your IV, that is socialism.
Yes, this is socialism.  However, you neglected to mention that you, as a consumer, get to choose your insurance plan; even under health care reform.  The only socialist part of the healthcare reform plan is that the government is forcing you to be ready in case of a medical emergency.  Wow!  What an onerous thing.
 

Bob G on August 21, 2010, 04:54:21 pm

ALL HEALTHCARE IS ALREADY SOCIALISM!

So if I pay the local urgent care clinic out-of-pocket to stitch up my arm where it got gashed working on my beater car, that's socialism? Must be -- it's health care.
Whatsoever, for any cause, seeketh to take or give
  Power above or beyond the Laws, suffer it not to live.
Holy State, or Holy King, or Holy People's Will.
  Have no truck with the senseless thing, order the guns and kill.

The penultimate stanza of Rudyard Kipling's MacDonough's Song

SandySandfort on August 21, 2010, 05:50:18 pm
I still think that you are mis-using the term [socialism] simply because you dont have any wider vocabulary. 

The word you are all missing is "collectivism." That covers most political "isms." Socialism, fascism (i.e., national socialism), conservatism, liberalism (in its modern meaning)* are all variants of collectivism which is the antitheses and sworn enemy of individualism. ZAP is the logical prerequisite for individualism.

* Libertarianism is basically an offshoot of classical liberalism. The blatant corruption of the word liberal by the lefties, is the most insidious intellectual crimes of the 20th Century.

J Thomas on August 21, 2010, 07:36:08 pm

Socialism is where the government uses your tax money to provide you with a good or service that could otherwise be provided (often at a higher cost, or loss of convenience) by private or for-profit companies.

I have the idea that much of your audience firmly believes that in the absence of government all goods and services would necessarily be provided at lower cost and higher convenience by private for-profit companies.

I would like to look at how it could happen that insurance might not be provided at reasonable cost or convenience, independent of government. This of course applies to health insurance. I make no claim that government is likely to help the situation.

The business model: Customers pay a set fee independent of whether they collect the services provided. They can get those services due to events beyond anyone's control. Like a lottery, but backward. We have methods that can reliably give a person cancer, but hardly anybody would give himself cancer so he could collect on health insurance. The money turns unexpected and unaffordable costs into something that might be affordable.

Unlike a lottery company, an insurance company can't predict how many customers will claim benefits in any one year. They must set their prices high enough to make it unlikely that they will get more claims than they can cover.

The larger the insurance company, the smaller the relative variance in claims (assuming that the claims follow a distribution that has finite variance, which could be iffy). That is, the bigger the insurance company the more predictable its costs and the smaller it can cut premiums and still make a fine profit.

Since the largest companies are the most profitable, it is plausible that prices would fall to the point that the smallest company cannot make a profit. How much lower? Perhaps to the point the smallest insurance company can't meet its variable cost? But fixed costs are low, let's ignore them. Larger companies make a profit while the smallest cannot compete -- it cannot compete on price and it cannot compete on reliability. It goes out of business. Then prices fall until the next smallest goes out of business. This continues until there is an oligopoly that fixes prices at a level they can all survive.

New companies mostly cannot enter this market -- they must be big to survive, and they lose money until they get a large market share.

One service that insurance companies provide is to pool risks, and the largest do it the best. A second service is collective bargaining. If you have no insurance and your physician sends you to the hospital, can you negotiate rates? Seldom. After all they don't know what emergency will come up or quite what they will need to do, and they will bill you for it after the fact. If you want a nose job you can shop around and what one surgeon charges $5000 for another might do for $4500, though you may pay well over $100 per visit to get estimates. But in general your place is to let them do whatever they think is best and then you figure out how to pay for it later. On the other hand, can insurance companies negotiate rates with MDs and hospitals? You know they do! And when it's an insurance company that controls 30% of the market, versus a single practice or hospital network, who has the better bargaining hand?

The larger the insurance company, the better they can handle risk and the more advantage they have negotiating. If hospitals agree to a tiny markup for the biggest insurance company, where will they get their money for expansion and innovation etc? The obvious place is from the uninsured who have no recourse. Jack up their prices, they'll take out a second mortgage or whatever. When they're paying everything they have and it isn't enough, try to get more from the smallest insurance companies.

When a company gets its decisive advantage from sheer size, is there any particular reason to expect they will do lots of innovation and cost-cutting etc? Is it only government intervention that can make them stodgy?

Here's a stylized history, how I'd expect health insurance to take over a region. They start by offering catastrophic insurance, to pay rare hospital bills for rare conditions that would cost more than most people could pay. Classical insurance. As they get bargaining clout they negotiate their costs down and hospitals etc increase prices to the uninsured. So more people get insurance.

Then they branch out into routine procedures. Regular checkups and exams etc. The original rationale is gone, these are not unexpected expenses. But they can negotiate low prices, and prices to the uninsured go up.

They branch out to pay pharmaceutical costs. They have marketing clout with pharmacies, so they get lower prices, and drug prices go up for the uninsured.

An oligopoly of insurance companies results in insurance prices rising to the point that most people cannot afford them, even while most people cannot afford uninsured routine healthcare. But businesses can afford it, partly because they can write it off as a business expense and pay less tax. So the employed can still get insurance for their families.

But insurance prices keep going up until businesses can't afford them either -- particularly when they must compete with foreign companies which do not pay those costs. More and more businesses find employee health insurance too big an expense. No one can afford it except the federal government.

And that's where we are now.

How much of that would be different without government? Well, government licenses MDs and restricts the supply. Without government anybody could practice medicine, and the ones who instilled the least trust would charge less, and you could choose a level of medical care you could afford.

Also, if people simply got over the idea that they might need more medical care than they could afford, if they accepted that if they pay for what they can afford and it isn't enough they should just die, then the health insurance companies don't get their opening wedge in.

There are various other things that could be different. Definitely the current healthcare problems have been affected by government, and would be in various ways different without government.

But the pattern I described did not come directly from government until the end, when government could pay when no one else could because no one else has enough money or bargaining clout. It went:

An industry is structured so that the largest companies have a cost advantage and a bargaining advantage. (The bargaining advantage is particularly insidious -- when there's a bargain with a few on one side and many on the other, the many will compete to find the worst bargain for themselves that any of them will accept, while the few do very well. This may not be good for the economy.)

So it tends toward a oligopoly of a few very large companies with little competition. They *might* do a good job anyway, but if there was significant competition there would be consequences for a bad job. And there are not.

Government is one of the most obvious ways to give the largest companies an advantage. There might be a way for government to improve on the unregulated result of this sort of oligopoly. Maybe. But the method would have to be carefully designed and performed.

The natural thought is collective bargaining. In the short run a monopoly can get a great deal from employees, from contractors, and from customers. But if all of those do collective bargaining, then there is no free market at all. With many sellers and many buyers you might get a price that reflects all the needs. With one buyer and one seller most of that information is lost. Similarly when government serves as the collective buyer or seller. This does not improve markets.

There might be a way for government to improve the occasional market which winds up perverse. I don't see an obvious way to do that, but I won't rule it out. There is an argument that there are no private solutions to these problems and therefore we must try government solutions. This argument is wrong. It assume that it is so vitally important to find a solution that we must do whatever it takes. But if it's true that there is no private solution to these partly-failed markets, there might likely also be no governmental solution. If we can't solve it we must live with it, not impose solutions that are even worse.

Rocketman on August 21, 2010, 10:09:50 pm
Socialism is a gun to your head and a baton in your face.

No, that is fascism.
Contrary Guy, it's becoming difficult for me to even converse with you.  You have so many inaccurate and misapplied ideas rattling around in your head that I don't even know where to begin.  I could spend it seems all my free time just trying to straighten you out.  For one thing the facism that you say is socialism are two terms that are nearly identical.  The facists otherwise known as nazi in short stands for "National Socialist Party".

Brugle on August 22, 2010, 04:54:41 pm
I have the idea that much of your audience firmly believes that in the absence of government all goods and services would necessarily be provided at lower cost and higher convenience by private for-profit companies.
It is possible that whatever "audience" you mean is as ignorant as you suggest, but I doubt it.  As a matter of simple courtesy, you might give some evidence before making such a nasty accusation.

Obviously, governments often subsidize certain industries, for various reasons.  For example, a government could collect massive taxes and use them to subsidize opera.  If the government collects enough loot, wastes less than usual, and distributes the rest with less corruption than usual, it might even make good operas more affordable and available than they would be in a free society.  Beyond those with political power who made a fortune investing in opera schools just before the policy was announced, a few of the citizenry (who consider good opera to be more important than anything else) will benefit.  But is this a good idea for society in general?  Of course not.

Government violence and threats of violence can be used to provide certain limited goods or services that, taken out of context, appear to be better than what would be provided in a free society.  I'd expect very few people to disagree.  Those of us who oppose government violence and threats of violence consider the big picture--we recognize that the oppression and impoverishment of the common people should not be ignored.

Since the largest companies are the most profitable,
I would like to look at how it could happen that insurance might not be provided at reasonable cost or convenience, independent of government.[/quote]
It is highly unlikely that in a free society, all of the people that wished to offer insurance services would follow your business model with the same assumptions.  In the past, insurance services have been offered in many different ways, and I see no reason to assume that people in the future would be even less creative.

If you have no insurance and your physician sends you to the hospital, can you negotiate rates? Seldom.
But in a free society, I wouldn't go to a hospital that charged outrageous rates, I'd go to a hospital that made a profit selling high-quality medical services at low rates.  A hospital that tried to overcharge non-insurance customers would immediately lose most of their business.

Besides, in a free society, medical services would cost much less than in a government-controlled medical system.  Estimates would really be guesses and would depend highly on the specific services, but I wouldn't be surprised if typical charges would be around 1/10 of what is now paid in the US.

How much of that would be different without government?
All of it.  Your examples of government controls raising prices and reducing availability of medical care just barely scratch the surface.  Government controls on insurance (medical and otherwise) also significantly raise prices and reduce availability.

But the most important thing is that in a free society, people don't always do what your (or anyone else's) crude model says that they will do.  If there is a way to make money giving people what they want, someone will probably do it, even if it isn't in your model.  Crude models that restrict people to a specific path are only valid if government power forces people to stay on that path.

wdg3rd on August 22, 2010, 05:57:49 pm
It's a bitch to get them reattached even now, half a century or so later.  Full function is still a work in progress.  Personally, I'll go with 'borg bits until the state of the art improves (unlikely with Obamacare).

You know, I hate to point out the obvious, but, since most people in America these days are stupid to the point of Heinleinian criminality, (and I hope you will excuse the yelling, but...)
ALL HEALTHCARE IS ALREADY SOCIALISM!

Now, if you will engage the parts of your brain that in the past were dedicated to thinking, you will realize that any healthcare program that you pay into (or that your employer pays into) is designed to spread the cost of medical care around so that one person doesnt die for lack of money. 
If persons a to z make small payments into a group fund, then if person m gets sick he can withdraw money from the group fund (called health insurance) to pay for the cost of the doctor visit.
Should persons a to l become upset because person m is using up a to l's money, especially when person a to l have never had to withdraw money from the fund, person person m is always doing it?
See, socialism. 

I will understand if your brain has become so atrophied that this does not make sense.  After all, it is not your fault, right?  The government must have done something to your thinking ability, which is why you have you no longer have any, right?

Son, my boss and I pay health insurance for me and La Esposa.  There's no socialism involved, until Obamacare kicks in.  Health insurance for La Esposa is over a quarter of what I would take home, mine is covered by the boss (and if you think he's a socialist, you haven't met him).  I could introduce you to him (and a couple of our warehouse guys that even I would hesitate to cross, from further south than Sandy goes).
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

J Thomas on August 22, 2010, 06:22:51 pm
I have the idea that much of your audience firmly believes that in the absence of government all goods and services would necessarily be provided at lower cost and higher convenience by private for-profit companies.

Obviously, governments often subsidize certain industries, for various reasons.

Good point. Subsidised products could be less expensive because of that. Of course, since they must buy things from the rest of the economy, they might be more expensive anyway. But you're right and the way I said it was wrong.

Quote
Since the largest companies are the most profitable,
I would like to look at how it could happen that insurance might not be provided at reasonable cost or convenience, independent of government.
It is highly unlikely that in a free society, all of the people that wished to offer insurance services would follow your business model with the same assumptions.

If what they sell is insurance, it's hard to get away from my reasoning. The more customers, the more their conditions average out and the more predictable your income and expenses. A small insurance company can make other assumptions but their wrong assumptions will come back and bite them in the ass.

Quote
If you have no insurance and your physician sends you to the hospital, can you negotiate rates? Seldom.
But in a free society, I wouldn't go to a hospital that charged outrageous rates, I'd go to a hospital that made a profit selling high-quality medical services at low rates.

Well, that's fine for you. In a free society, I wouldn't go to an overpriced mortuary company. I'd go to a miracle-worker who made a profit raising the dead at low rates.

But OK, in reasonably large cities you will have six or more decent hospitals in easy reach, so when you don't have a lot of urgency you can get compare prices and get competing bids etc. That should reduce your medical bills when those conditions are met.

Quote
A hospital that tried to overcharge non-insurance customers would immediately lose most of their business.

Sure, and a hospital that depends for its bread and butter on people who can't afford insurance will surely be quite profitable.

Quote
Besides, in a free society, medical services would cost much less than in a government-controlled medical system.  Estimates would really be guesses and would depend highly on the specific services, but I wouldn't be surprised if typical charges would be around 1/10 of what is now paid in the US.

I get the sense you did not understand my reasoning. That would be my fault, I must not have explained it well enough.

Let me try this example. Imagine that we had a free society that still had a few large automobile companies and some large auto insurance companies. I will agree ahead of time that both of those might be results of government, but I hope you will agree that such things could possibly happen in a free society.

Now, say that Geico got into the car-buying business. They tell all their customers, "We will sell you a new car cheaper than you can get it from a dealer. Choose whether you want low-end, mid-range, or high-end. We will promise to get you a car from one of the big three -- Ford, Honda, or Toyota -- for a low price. Tell us your preferences for color etc and we will attempt to give you what you want."

Say that Geico had 33% of the auto insurance business, and enough of their customers signed up for this deal that they got 25% of the market for new cars.

They go to Ford, Honda, and Toyota and say "We will negotiate with you for 25% of the entire volume of sales for this year. What kind of deal can you offer?"

They resell their cars to their customers at a nice discount compared to retail, and they pocket the difference.

When WalMart does this sort of thing, giving suppliers 3% over cost, is that because of government interference? Couldn't Geico do it if they wanted to? When you're a great big slice of the market, you get a lot of bargaining power. When you're a one-time customer who buys in singles, you don't. If Ford wants to make more profit, they have to get it from their other customers, the ones who can't drive such a hard bargain. And of course, the higher the list price the better the Geico deal looks to their customers.

I don't see that government is needed for any of this. You could argue that in a free society there would be thousands of small insurance companies instead of a few big ones, but I don't understand how that could work. It all comes from standard microeconomics, nothing that requires government. Of course government could get involved and make it worse.

Brugle on August 22, 2010, 07:47:44 pm
If what they sell is insurance, it's hard to get away from my reasoning. The more customers, the more their conditions average out and the more predictable your income and expenses.
Of course, but that's not what I'm talking about.  You make many assumptions, including about the business model.  Insurance has worked many ways in the past.  Why do you expect people in the future to always lie down in your rut?

Sure, and a hospital that depends for its bread and butter on people who can't afford insurance will surely be quite profitable.
Bullshit.  It was your idea, not mine:
where will they get their money for expansion and innovation etc? The obvious place is from the uninsured who have no recourse. Jack up their prices,
So I repeat: bullshit.  You suggested that a hospital's main source of profit would be from the uninsured, not me.  Did you think that nobody had read what you wrote?

I've had about all the bullshit that I can take.

I get the sense you did not understand my reasoning.
I agree.  You suggest that in a free society, a large company like Geico might be able to save automobile customers some money.  This is a problem?

If Ford wants to make more profit, they have to get it from their other customers, the ones who can't drive such a hard bargain.
Sure, businesses always want to increase profits.  But if they thought that they could increase profits by raising prices, they would already have done it.  In other words, if they raise prices then they'll lose customers to businesses (such as Hyundai) who give them a better deal.