By on January 6, 2011

Letter to the editor of the New Times by Robert Pankhurst:

“On my drive home yesterday, an advertisement over my car radio told me how much the Cancer Society needed old cars donated to help them fight cancer. Then I remembered watching the Youtube video where cars were turned in for the government program called “Cash for Clunkers.”

They took in cars, some better than mine, and they poured sodium silicate, made from sand and lye, down the carburetor while the car was running. The cars stopped and will never run again. The cars were finally crushed. The plan was to help the failing auto industry because we would now have to build 500,000 new cars.

As I pulled into the driveway, I was thinking, “Is this the same government that I want to take care of my healthcare in my old age?” It all became quite clear this morning when I read the article in the morning paper about the government plan to pay doctors to have a yearly “end of life discussion” with their patients.”

Some people identify with their cars far too much …

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27 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: Cash For Geezers?...”

  • avatar

    When a government is willing to pay for that kind of ‘health care’ while denying others, that’s not a good sign.

  • avatar

    There is a recent and very good study that showed that those patients who had Palliative Care services with a terminal diagnosis actually lived longer (and were happier) than those that did not.
    Everyone is afraid to die but everyone will die. There are people who aid the dying in making appropriate decisions towards the end of life with a view towards their own comfort and to help their families cope with the inevitable. Americans (and a German) are up in arms about these people being paid for their time and hard work.
    No one pours sodium silicate down anyones throat outside of Holland.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think anyone would deny the value of palliative care. I was simply commenting on how a government’s choice to fund certain kinds of health care over others may actually be the expression of some other, more questionable agenda.

    • 0 avatar

      I was simply commenting on how a government’s choice to fund certain kinds of health care over others may actually be the expression of some other, more questionable agenda

      You mean, like, birth control?

      You’re right that there’s an agenda in health care coverage.  That agenda exists regardless of who is signing (or not signing) the check.  This is why the nations with the best track record in health care coverage also offer the most universal coverage.  We’ve seen, time and time again, that if you nickel-and-dime a social service** all that happens is the administrative costs go up, the service quality goes down and the ideological axe-wielders and power-brokers come out of the woodwork.

      ** and in the US, just about every service outside of defense and aerospace is balkanized, nickel-and-dimed and otherwise hamstrung into ineffectiveness.

    • 0 avatar

      It is simply not true that the nations with the best record of health care coverage offer universal coverage through the government. This is a myth that falls apart upon closer examination of the facts.

      UCLA professor Peter Baldwin compared the outcomes of several European health care systems with that of the American health care system. The American system compares favorably with the European systems, and, in some cases, is BETTER than the European systems. Proportionally speaking, fewer Americans die of major diseases, strokes, heart attacks, hypertension and cancers than the citizens of many European nations.

      For four major cancers – colorectal, breast, lung and prostate – the survival rate in the United States is superior to the survival rate of Europe as a whole, which is covered by national health insurance. These figures INCLUDE the 15 percent of Americans who do not have health insurance.

      The infant mortatality rate in the United States actually ranks among the best in the world, when all nations are measured using consitent criteria (something that the widely touted World Health Organization- or WHO – measurements do not do). The United States is penalized by the WHO rankings for making more of an effort to save very sick or very premature babies, and for the way it defines what constitutes a “live birth.”

    • 0 avatar

      >There is a recent and very good study that showed…..
      Please. I can show you a “recent study” that shows purple unicorns exit.
      I normally stay out of interweb food fights but appealing to (unlinked) false authority is a pet peeve of mine.
      If anyone thinks the government can run health care better than the free market, they have actively decided to delude themselves and counter-argument is pointless. Discussions of healthcare and global warming soon devolve into arguments about religion.

    • 0 avatar

      The only agenda in a free market is providing a good enough customer experience to keep the checks coming in.

      Get the government involved and it becomes about who has the noisiest lobby.  Which is why AIDS gets 27 billion borrowed federal dollars this year while non voluntary diseases which normal people get, like cancer and heart disease are lucky to see a tenth that much.  And if your cancer is a miserable death kind, like pancreatic, instead of a PR friendly one like breast, it may as well not exist.
      It’s disgusting.

    • 0 avatar
      Tom D.

      To aspace who said “Get the government involved and it becomes about who has the noisiest lobby.  Which is why AIDS gets 27 billion borrowed federal dollars this year while non voluntary diseases which normal people get, like cancer and heart disease are lucky to see a tenth that much.”  So, who are these “normal” people that don’t get AIDS? And since when is HIV/AIDS a voluntary disease?  So, tell me is a child born with AIDS not normal?  Or did the wife who gets it from her unfaithful husband volunteer to get AIDS? I can’t believe that ignorant people like you continue to spread such falsehoods about AIDS.   You’re right, it is disgusting that someone like you still believes the lies about AIDS.

  • avatar

    Insurance companies are de facto death panels.  They decide who gets treatment based on their profit projections.
    I would prefer my health care be determined in an atmosphere not based on the profit of a private company that can make up rules as they go along.
    I do trust the Government more than I trust Insurance company bureaucrats whose bonus is based on how many claims they deny.

    • 0 avatar

      While I don’t know if I trust the Government to do a better job, but I don’t think they can do any worse than the private sector is doing right now. They aren’t de facto death panels, insurance companies have death panels in the form of underwriters who determine who can be covered and in what way. At least with the Government there is some semblance of accountability. Those who say there is more accountability in the private sector through the concept of “letting the market decide” don’t understand just how broken and corrupt the heath insurance industry and market are.
      I’m am also counting in hours how long it will be before the Tea Party loving members of my family will forward this to me as an e-mail. The link between the two is, shall we say dubious at best.

    • 0 avatar

      “Those who say there is more accountability in the private sector through the concept of “letting the market decide” don’t understand just how broken and corrupt the heath insurance industry and market are.”
      That’s exactly the problem, as always happens when a putatively private industry gets in bed with the government, the government takes away the accountability and leaves the profits.  Which is exactly what we saw last year, a healthcare ‘reform’ law mandating them additional customers.
      I’ve yet to see anyone explain how the answer to a government created problem of unaccountability is adding more government and unaccountability, but then again I live in the real world.

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    Robert is having his own epiphany regarding government incompetence. Good for him.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    End-of-life planning also has serious financial implications for the dying and their loved ones. Futile treatments that in the end do little good (or even make matters worse) can eat up a lifetime of savings, leaving a calamitous legacy for surviving spouses and other family members. Much as we hate to face it, dying in the context of the modern medical system can, without careful advanced thought, lead to consequences that are both unintended and seriously harmful. The “death panel” canard is a smokescreen to protect the various economic interests, not you and me. We already have death panels in the form of private insurers. If you haven’t yet noticed, perhaps wait until you’re a bit older. 

  • avatar

    Health Insurance is a utility.  Letting private industry run it is just wrong, or if we are going to allow private industry to run it, we need to regulate it like the power company or the old phone company.  My nonprofit insurer went “for profit”, and stated that prices would not rise due to market forces in the filings (yes I read this stuff).
    This year my premiums went up 60%, and they cited “other market offerings” in the filings.  This means that they raised the costs to match other providers, realizing they were the lowest in the market. Well done, both sides of mouth…..
    My market has three providers.  This is not competition, this is a monopoly.  There is no “choice”, or “free market”.  The industry has cut up the market among themselves, and like an 1800’s railroad, the farmer who needs to get goods to market has no options.
    I now pay more for “fake” high deductible health insurance than I did for “real” (they pay the bills) insurance.
    Why do you think the industry went nuts against “public option” and “health care exchanges”.  The mere concept of a competitor who is not out to screw the public and subject to political pressure and / or getting rid of the regional monopoly system in place upsets those profit projections.
    I don’t like the current system where I’m forced to buy insurance from those same folks, so the current reforms don’t thrill me.  You do need everyone in the pool to make it work, but making me go to the monopolists (you MUST live with your abusive spouse) was not the answer.
    By the way, you do realize you cannot sue your health insurance company in most states, right ??

    • 0 avatar

      >Health Insurance is a utility.  Letting private industry run it is just wrong,
      > My market has three providers.  This is not competition, this is a monopoly.
      So.. your answer to this “monopoly” is to put all the thousands of healthcare insurers out of business and only let the one government run it. Because that’s not a monopoly at all.
      Nice reasoning ya got there man.

  • avatar

    It all became quite clear this morning when I read the article in the morning paper about the government plan to pay doctors to have a yearly “end of life discussion” with their patients.

    This is just pure tin-foil hat wankery**.  The whole rest of the western world has capable government-provided health care and many also participated in similar cash-for-clunker schemes, all without wholesale murdering of the old and/or infirm.

    If you’re nearing the end of your life, either through age or illness, it behoves you and your health care provider to have a frank discussion about your wishes vis a vis resuscitation, palliative care, referrals to social support providers, counselling, powers of attorney should be incapable, etc.  I’d certainly expect that kind of service as part of a comprehensive health care system.

    That’s hardly the same thing as giving you a katana, leaving the room, locking the door and expecting you to do the honourable thing.  Which, I might add, is probably what most private insurers would prefer you to do.

    ** or idiot-right hysteria-mongering.  Gee, haven’t seen that for five minutes at least.

  • avatar

    There is no problem with end of life planning. Doctors and patients already do this. But when the government pays for it, you can bet they want a say in what goes on between the doctor and patient. Do I trust that they have my best interests at heart? No and hell no. No thank you.

    The fact that they took this out of the original bill and then sneak it back in as a “regulation” is all the proof I need not to trust them.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Politics baiting thread.

    Nothing here to see. Move along. Ignore it and we can get back to automobiles and the car industry.

    • 0 avatar

      Really. I miss the Farago days on this site when it was all about the automotive industry, and wasn’t trolling for hits with off-topic and poorly thought out musings from the letters to the editor page.

    • 0 avatar

      ClutchCarGo: You might want to stop by your local death panel to get the prescription checked on those rose-colored glasses.

      I don’t recall a time when TTAC wasn’t being accused of baiting, bias or what have you.

    • 0 avatar


      First, my point is that the basis of Bertel’s post (a letter to the editor that has barely any relevance to the auto industry, and sets up an exceptionally poor metaphor between between govt actions in 2 very different endevors) does not hold up to the editorial standards that brought me to this web site in the first place. I rarely comment on editorial positions regarding GM, EVs, etc. because I expect TTAC to take positions that are controversial, even when I disagree, since I come here for otherwise unreported stories and counterpoint to stories I see in other media. TTAC works best when it sticks to matters that are closely tied to the auto world.

      Second, shame on you for repeating the utterly bogus “death panel” hogwash. There is absolutely nothing in legislation or regulation that calls for govt intervention in the doctor/patient relationship. There is merely an effort to incentivize doctors and patients to have a thoughtful discussion about end of life care by paying the doctors for their time (you know, market forces?) when they do so. These discussions have to happen before the end of life is near for them to have meaningful results in patients’ lives. I recommend taking a few minutes to read this article (written by a practicing surgeon) to understand why these discussions are necessary to help patients get the control over the end of their days that they so richly deserve but often do not get.

  • avatar

    Death panels have been a fact in the insurance industry for a long time. They evaluate cost of repair vs. value and determine if your car is going to be fixed or scrapped. I lost a beloved Nissan Maxima this way years ago.
    End of life counseling should never be the determination of the government. I think I’m perfectly capable of determining weather my car is worth the cost of a new transmission or engine.
    Wait, we are still talking about cars here right?

  • avatar

    Anyone who thinks I was criticizing government in general is sorely mistaken. I was simply commenting on the possible problems with any particular government that would choose to fund programs like these while neglecting to pay for other forms of health care.
    I personally support universal health care and am quite willing to pay my fair share of taxes to help maintain it. Maybe I’m just too ‘Canadian,’ but there it is…

  • avatar

    I plan on dying in a very high speed, fiery crash in a late 60’s muscle car.  Do I get extra credit?

  • avatar

    Ample interesting reading within this thread.
    I opt to have my component body parts torn asunder within the Mopar.
    Other issue, during the years-long battle against multiple cancers most of those “in the loop,” including me and her husband, were in agreement that most (perhaps all) the doctors, medical facilities and hospitals involved viewed her as a regular huge money source to be treated in the most expensive manner possible using as many resources (various tests, scans, procedures, etc) to maximize income.
    The payment provider for almost all the resources was by the taxpayer from the years the old man (deceased over three decades ago) worked for the feds.
    Despite having married a couple years after her first husband’s death (that was dad) mom was still covered by dad’s insurance.
    Many multi-millions of dollars of claims paid with little scrutiny and bandied about pert-near willy-nilly.
    Admittedly, those extra funds DID assist in paying for the free medical care so many illegal “future citizen” aliens receive.
    Mom and hubby did try to notify the feds that they believed MANY of the tests, etc. ordered by the docs were unnecessary and merely greatly increased their income stream.
    (note: many testing firms are owned by doctors or various consortiums that pay for referrals, such as doctors sending their patients. The “medical industry is extremely complicated and convoluted with a horde of hands skimming wealth from the huge pile of bucks….. too many hands spoiling the………..).
    Anyway, eventually, mom said screw it and ceased all treatments, tests etc. and hospice set up her house to die in.
    The very powerful pain killer provided (some politicians, laws, statutes attempt to prohibit this due to the possibility the user may become addicted..???????? and in some locales USA citizens are condemned to die in agony!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) was used with discretion and as needed.
    I asked the visiting nurse who showed up at times and more often towards the end about “end of life matters” with one general question resulting in a nod towards the pain reliever  and that in the latter stages when consciousness was fleeting or gone than a few extra drops orally would not be questioned in that particular state I had my answer but was assured the recommended dosage was adequate to ensure no undue pain, etc. etc.
    No, not a fun time but that’s life.
    This tale is but ONE anecdote BUT I believe the most relevant aspect is that there are, in too many (all?) instances of medical care (and health insurance) within the USA that too MANY greedy hands, unneeded hands, are reaching out and grabbing dollars that should be going to medical care and necessary related costs.
    So much bloat. So much overhead.  Created “costs” manufactured to provide a means for the unscrupulous parasites to skim off enormous amounts of wealth.
    Might as well put the Mafia in charge of all medically-related whatever. The overhead would likely be less and those blokes would ensure efficiency or else!!!!!!
    I noted the “reform” offered via Obama’s “plan” ignored the “skim.”
    Too many powerful/wealthy folks/firms/organizations/etc. involved.
    Oh well…………….  greed uber alles.
    Wear your seat belts, kids.

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