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Virtual Money For Real Lobbying

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the sheeple-happy-to-be-paid-shills dept.

The Almighty Buck 85

ogaraf writes "Silicon Alley Insider is reporting that health-insurance industry group 'Get Health Reform Right' paid Facebook users with virtual currency to be used in Facebook games in exchange for lobbying their Congressional Rep. 'Instead of asking the gamers to try a product the way Netflix would, "Get Health Reform Right" requires gamers to take a survey, which, upon completion, automatically sends the following email to their Congressional Rep: "I am concerned a new government plan could cause me to lose the employer coverage I have today. More government bureaucracy will only create more problems, not solve the ones we have."'" Relatedly, Trailrunner7 illustrates growing concern over realistic spammer profiles in social networking sites and their potential to wreak havoc, especially if these two methods were combined. "Many spammers now have large staffs of people working on nothing but building out completely fake personas for non-existent users on social networking sites and blog networks. The spammers use these personas to create accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot and other sites that have high levels of user interaction."

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Facebook currency (4, Insightful)

MikeMacK (788889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30407794)

How many Facebook dollars does it take to buy a Congressman?

Re:Facebook currency (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30407936)

In reality (no pun intended) virtual currencies really aren't any different than other currencies. They ahve a value, they can be converted back and forth etc. So what's the big hoopla?

Re:Facebook currency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30408004)

Fap! Fap! Fap!

Niggers like to fuck

Fap! Fap! Fap!

White bitches in the ass

Niggers love raping white bitches cause it be so easy. And you know by bitches we don only mean womens. You slashdot bitches be taking the pipe over and over again. You love the way it goes in. As a matter of fact I fucked Cythrawls 5 year old son right in front of him. He paid me to do it, so if he acts all up in arms bout it, he's full of shit. A crisp $100 for "curing" an autistic child. Just call me Dr Nigger.

Re:Facebook currency (1)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408102)

The problem is, with virtual currencies you don't have to pay income tax.

Re:Facebook currency (3, Insightful)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408782)

True. But by the same token I really doubt that most bribes are taxed no matter what the currency is. ;-) In a way I'd say the real problem is that immense wealth can be created by anybody without really adding commensurate value. Happens in real world as well as in the virtual ones.

Re:Facebook currency (2, Insightful)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 4 years ago | (#30407994)

Doesn't that depend on how much the other side of the issue is offering?

Ultimately a politician is a broker of priorities - the goal of the most earnest idealist is to do the most good for the most people while doing as little harm to as few people as possible. The ideal politician sits in the middle of this storm of costs and benefits of different actions just the way a stock broker sits in the middle of an exchange of money. Since it's hard to measure the true value of every priority to every constituent, lobbying effort becomes a proxy measure ... whoever is willing to throw the most money at an issue needs it the most. Obviously this model breaks down when not everyone has the same amount of money to commit to lobbying, but when the participants are roughly equal in resources and there isn't a clear right or wrong answer, just creating big donation bins labeled "yes" and "no" isn't an entirely bad idea.

Re:Facebook currency (0, Offtopic)

randy of the redwood (1565519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408030)

Personally, I think MikeMacK's post should be modded funny, but to each his own.

Question for those smarter than I here on Slashdot - Do emails to a congressman really have any influence whatsoever? I'd have thought a single lobbyist taking said congressman out to a nice dinner would far outweigh all the email his staffers have to delete.

Re:Facebook currency (1)

MikeMacK (788889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408062)

It was meant to be a joke, but in a deep, insightful way...

Re:Facebook currency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30408832)

It's "The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older
Sorter of breath and one day closer to death"

Re:Facebook currency (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409042)

Do emails to a congressman really have any influence whatsoever?

The answer is a firm "it depends". On an issue like health care, where everybody has an opinion and it's talked about endlessly in the media, it wouldn't. But issues like that make up only a small part of what congress does. Even one email (or better, print it out and snail mail it) on a lesser known issue is probably the only communication a given congress critter has from their constituents on an issue, and ten saying broadly the same thing would be huge. Doubly so if your congress critter is on a committee for that issue.

Ultimately, all that lobbying money is for the express purpose of getting reelected, and all the money in the world won't get them that if they're fundamentally opposed to their voters' preferences.

Re:Facebook currency (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30410048)

and all the money in the world won't get them that if they're fundamentally opposed to their voters' preferences.

Ah, but the fix [wikipedia.org] is in long before the voters go to the polls. The sad truth is that the overwhelming majority of House members do not need to worry about the general election. They only need to run far enough to the left or right to please the rabid members of their base that vote on primary day. Barring a sex scandal with an underage page or death from old age they need not worry about the general election.

What is the difference ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30412542)

between Facebook currency and the US dollar anyway?

Goldfarming (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30407822)

yet another way the Chinese can buy influence on Capitol Hill.

"spammers"??? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30407888)

"Many spammers now have large staffs of people working on nothing but building out completely fake personas for non-existent users on social networking sites and blog networks. The spammers use these personas to create accounts Doesn't that make them astroturfers, not spammers?

Re:"spammers"??? (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408090)

Think of it this way http://www.xkcd.com/632/ [xkcd.com]

Re:"spammers"??? (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408202)

"Many spammers now have large staffs of people working on nothing but building out completely fake personas for non-existent users on social networking sites and blog networks. The spammers use these personas to create accounts Doesn't that make them astroturfers, not spammers?

Either way, that's a decently high level of dedication and sophistication. In any other context, this behavior would be called infiltration.

The best way to deal with spam is to do something about the people who enable them. Spammers are enabled by purchasing anything from them and by getting tricked by them (i.e. phishing). There are several ways to reduce both. I for one favor some kind of penalty or stigma for the former and education for the latter. The latter could be identified when they report the theft. Catching the former wouldn't be so difficult either. Just as police conduct sting operations, fake spam offers could be created for the purpose of identifying users who respond favorably to them.

At some point, a computer system becomes so secure that it's much easier to compromise its users, via social engineering. Likewise, at some point spammers become so sophisticated and so good at obfuscating their identities that it's much easier to reduce their revenues. The techniques and methods that spammers use has changed greatly over the years. The ways that they fund themselves and stay in business have changed very little by comparison.

Re:"spammers"??? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409024)

Cutting of funds might work for spammers but these people are propogandists, they are not doing it to make money they are spending money to make laws. The health industry are certainly not alone in this modern avalanche of propganda, most sites that prominently claim to be "grassroots" or "feedom loving" are neither.

Re:"spammers"??? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30412416)

time to invoke godwin, as this kind of activity would probably make goebbels proud...

Spam (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 4 years ago | (#30407908)

That Get Health Reform Right group is spamming the local TV waves with their commercials, not giving even a slightest hint of their financial backing.

Re:Spam (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408354)

It has to be some group who has a high interest in medical spending and has already a sh.tload of money. The options aren't so numerous.

Re:Spam (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408886)

I'm sure someone will accuse me of being a communist for this but I find sourcewatch [sourcewatch.org] informative, pity more people don't use it before linking to anti-AGW front sites put up by the CEI, the heartland institue and other anti-science lobbyists.

As an Aussie I enjoy cheaper and higher quality health care than someone in the US but it wasn't always that way I do remeber my parents stuggling with doctors bills in the early 70's. I also remeber the hollow predictions of economic armargedon that would supposedly be ignited by adopting a sane UHC system. IMHO you guys need to get angry about the lobbyists sitting in your senate, their blatant corruption affects everyone not just US citizens.

Re:Spam (3, Funny)

zippyspringboard (1483595) | more than 4 years ago | (#30411468)

As an Aussie I enjoy cheaper and higher quality health care than someone in the US

Good grief! As a U.S. citizen let me take a few moments of my valuable time to set you straight, you are most certainly confused. We have the finest healthcare system in the WORLD. And those of you so unfortunate to suffer with UCH Hate it. You hate the long lines, the refusal of service, and not having any say in who your doctor is. I pity the fact that you must regularly come to our country for lifesaving measures such as heart surgery. I truly feel sorry for the oppressive system you suffer under. Don't worry though, I am sure that American insurance companies are working hard to deliver you the freedom you so desperately need, perhaps some day you will be fortunate to enjoy the same level of care we do.

Re:Spam (1)

adonoman (624929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30411592)

For a country with the the best health care in the world you really have quite pathetic outcomes for the most part. I go to whichever doctor I want - I don't have to worry about which doctor my insurance company wants me to go to, or what tests they'll cover, or what my deductible is. Waiting lists are based on need, not on wealth. If it's a true emergency I can be in surgery as quickly here as in any US hospital - with the comfort that nothing is going to be messed up between the hospital and my insurance company. The US government is already spending more tax dollars per capita on health care than any other country in the world - and then you pay for insurance on top of that - all because of the mess of bureaucracy and litigation that is your wonderful system.

Re:Spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30416404)

Woosh.

Now why didn't I think of that... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30407916)

The first part anyways, absolutely genius. In fact, so long as there is a small disclaimer somewhere the user doesn't even look, I think they are in the clear. The best part is that it branches out, the more people to use an App, the more people get invited, and so forth. Exponential. Getting people to do something real world impacting for virtual currency/items is not anything new. (Anyone remember the "Mount me for a flying mount" girl when Burning Crusade came out?)

The second part however, I'm pretty sure is against the law (IANAL), something like Identity Theft but not really, or impersonation, or something to that effect.

Seems like once you determine an account is a fake - IE, it gets reported, all you have to do is look at what lobby group the spammer is supporting and you've got your prime suspect. And then a little investigation into the matter would probably expose those responsible.

How effective is this? (3, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30407920)

I would expect that congresscritters would be smart enough to discount any position expressed in the same exact email received 100,000 times. But perhaps I overestimate them; after all, I'd expect them not to try to pick up men in airport restrooms as well.

Re:How effective is this? (3, Insightful)

Meshach (578918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408058)

I would expect that congresscritters would be smart enough to discount any position expressed in the same exact email received 100,000 times. But perhaps I overestimate them; after all, I'd expect them not to try to pick up men in airport restrooms as well.

How is that different from a petition? If a congressperson was given a petition with over 100000 signatures on it I would expect him or her to take action. Is an email petition any different?

Re:How effective is this? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408256)

I would expect him to vet the signatures (or at least the process used to collect them).

With email, that isn't going to work very well (sure, maybe the people cryptographically signed the messages, but that's really, really funny, no they didn't).

Re:How effective is this? (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408902)

If a congressperson was given a petition with over 100000 signatures on it I would expect him or her to take action.

If I was a congressman I wouldn't. Petitions just mean that a small number of people took the time to hassle others into giving a signature. I wouldn't treat it any differently than a form letter or a position letter from an activist group. I suppose if all I was interested in was getting reelected then paying attention to the loud people who can make me look good/bad to others would be important, but I would be more interested in the reasons people are for/against a topic, not aggregate numbers.

Re:How effective is this? (1)

Meshach (578918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409068)

I guess by "take action" I mean acknowledge that an issue exists and investigate the issue not necessarily do what the people ask me. I agree that just because lots of people say something doesn't make it right. But if an elected official sees that lots of his constituents care about something he or she should acknowledge them.

Re:How effective is this? (1)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408072)

From what I hear, the critters don't read many of the actual messages. That task is farmed out to staffers. And, sometimes, all that gets asked is how many emails they got about X and how many where for and against.

Re:How effective is this? (1)

al0ha (1262684) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408470)

Not really, email templates are essentially how MoveOn.org works and they are very effective.

Re:How effective is this? (1)

Uberbah (647458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30436754)

I would expect that congresscritters would be smart enough to discount any position expressed in the same exact email received 100,000 times. But perhaps I overestimate them; after all, I'd expect them not to try to pick up men in airport restrooms as well.

Nope. See: Nipplegate. Out of the tens of thousands of complaints sent to the FCC about Janet Jackson's boob, they eventually figured out that there were four unique letters, and the rest were simply forms sent out by tools of the Family Research Council.

I had one of those spam profiles already... (4, Interesting)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408076)

I got a request from a beautiful brunette that is friends with some of my friends and loves World of Warcraft and wanted to be my friend, too.

They really ought to work on making these things more believable...

Re:I had one of those spam profiles already... (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408128)

Do you want to date her avatar?

Re:I had one of those spam profiles already... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408224)

Unfortunately, her avatar is hotter than reality - by far.

Re:I had one of those spam profiles already... (1)

LitelySalted (1348425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408572)

I know what you're talking about... Orc women... so ... hot!

Re:I had one of those spam profiles already... (1)

meowhous (1592411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30410128)

Everyone knows beautiful brunettes prefer LOTRO.

Re:I had one of those spam profiles already... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30421312)

I know such a girl in RL. She’s weird though, and I don’t want anything from her.

Seems this is nothing unusual for young girls.

Health reform for the stupid (5, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408092)

For anyone in the US who thinks that the current system is any good whatsoever have a read of how losing your job can cost you your life [tampabay.com] .

This paying in Facebook games just sums up the level of "debate". On one side you have a bunch of people who, like the old tobacco company, will swear blind that the current system is perfectly okay despite it killing an estimated 45,000 people a year. That is 15 9/11s in terms of un-needed deaths as a result of the current system which is being actively supported by those who profit from it.

The irony of course is that the US not only has the worst coverage it also has the most expensive healthcare in the world while also having a lower life expectancy than most other 1st world countries.

So to everyone who decrys the systems in Switzerland, France, Canada, UK, etc remember this. They save more lives, they result in a longer average life expectancy and they don't kill their citizens because they've lost their job. and they cost less, often half or less of the US spend per capita

More deaths for more money. And this is the system people want? No its the system that corporations with marketing departments want and the sheep are fine to go along if they get thrown some facebook points.

How sad

Re:Health reform for the stupid (2, Interesting)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408160)

Interesting. I'm going to send my wife, who's in health care, that link.

All I know is, regardless of what happens, when I need some sort of major treatment, I'll be on a plane to India to get treated by an American educated Indian doctor and then spend some time on a tropical beach with my wife to recuperate - all for a third of what it will cost here.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408398)

Are you accounting for differences in lifestyle in those numbers?

Comparing years added to life expectancy by health care would be a lot more interesting than simply comparing life expectancy.

Also, what is your opinion on the impact of the different allocation systems involved? In the U.S., people with means receive extensive amounts of care without much analysis of whether the benefits of the care justify the costs, whereas most government run systems take a look at the benefits. Don't mistake that for wailing about rationing (there is a limited supply, so every system necessarily involves allocating the available resources), it is a statement that the U.S. system of allocation is not the same, a factor that muddies cost comparisons quite a bit.

(For what it's worth, I'd be fine with the U.S. having a health care system where it was a painless (on the bureaucratic side) process for that guy to get a new insulin pump paid for by the government, I just think you are framing your arguments rather unevenly)

Re:Health reform for the stupid (3, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408400)

The reason is quite simple and can easily and cheaply be implemented: You're "encouraged" to get a checkup every couple years and your (mandatory) insurance pays for it. It's heaps cheaper to keep your system running than to fix it when it finally breaks down. Finding out that your blood pressure is through the roof and fixing it with a few pills (and some suggestions from your doc where you can improve your life style) is much cheaper (and much less painful) than a triple bypass.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30413766)

I would argue the debate is not about health care and should not be about health care. You said it yourself "mandatory", the government has never in history required someone to purchase a good or service. Liar's like Chuck Schummer claim its comparable to auto insurance.

Its not; its not at all. Everyone has a choice about owning a car; they then have another choice about operating it on public roads. I could buy a pickup and drive it around my private farm with no registration and no insurance, legally. Its only if you want the privilege of using a public resource the roads that you become required to insure the safety of others and their property. Oh and most perhaps all states only require that, liability coverage. In other words you are responsible for risk you impose on others you do not have to purchase any coverage for your self.

Our nation was founded on principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I was given no choice about life, may parents made that call, and it is certainly contrary to liberty to force me to buy an insurance policy if I don't want one, and it also makes me unhappy. That constitutes the complete failure of what the founders set out to do.

Health care is not a right, and I don't want it to become one if its at the expense personal freedom and if government provides it, than it almost surely will be. Honestly if you don't like it emigrate, you have freedom to leave this nation, not something other governments always afford their citizens.

There are also economic considerations here; look at Germany and the trouble its having with the ratio of old to young. Increasing life spans of those who could not afford the best levels of care on their own may not be beneficial to society as a whole. Health is like anything else you play the hand your dealt. Some people get a better hand and some people play their hand better than others. Its call life. We supposed to be about equality of opportunity, that is meritocracy; not equality of result which is socialism.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

gzearfoss (829360) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408438)

"You cannot reason people out of a position that they did not reason themselves into." - Ben Goldacre [goodreads.com] .

Besides those with financial interests in the status quo, the majority of those fighting reform rely on appeals to emotions or snazzy catchphrases (death panels, anybody?), not appeals to reason. Though insightful, I doubt stories like this have much of an impact on the opinions of those already convinced.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408636)

Both ends of the debate rely on emotion. Don't kid yourself into believing that it is just the death panel idiots appealing to peoples' emotions.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

jocabergs (1688456) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408918)

Agreed, I think hyperbole on both sides is out of hand, fact is we pay too much and our system is broken. Every industrialized, free country in the world has some type of universal health coverage, whether it be public option or socialized healthcare. The two countries who have been most successful IMO are Japan and Korea both of whom have a public option in addition to privatized health care. In Japan for example they spend 8% of GDP(US is around 16% right now, and my plan is currently over 400$ per month which is absurd, though I do have a "Cadillac plan" ) on health care and live to 83, which on balance is significantly better than the socialized health care systems in France and England which average around 80. I don't really like paying for other people, but... if the choice is I pay or they die, I feel much better. I do find it funny though that people who are in favor of taking my money and killing people with it argue against saving lives with tax money.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409156)

If our government had the restraint to go along the lines of what Japan is doing then that is fine and dandy. The problem is that I think the US government is trying to emulate Canada and Europe more than Japan...

Re:Health reform for the stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30416538)

I would be fine with a Canadian style system.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409238)

I think it's safe to say that a good part of the longevity of Japanese folks comes from genetic and lifestyle factors, rather than their healthcare system.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (4, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408720)

The irony of course is that the US not only has the worst coverage it also has the most expensive healthcare in the world while also having a lower life expectancy than most other 1st world countries.

So to everyone who decrys the systems in Switzerland, France, Canada, UK, etc remember this. They save more lives, they result in a longer average life expectancy and they don't kill their citizens because they've lost their job. and they cost less, often half or less of the US spend per capita

I don't think it's reasonable to expect truly good reform from the same systems, bureaucracies, and political forces who created the current US system. The current healthcare debate in the US seems to gloss over this fallacy entirely.

The practice of having employers provide health benefits dates back to World War II. During this time, the federal government instituted a wage freeze. Put simply, this meant that your employer could not give you a raise even if he wanted to. However, the wage freeze only included the actual dollar amount of the paycheck. So to get around this, employers kept the amount on the paycheck the same but started providing benefits that the employee normally had to purchase separately. They either provided those benefits entirely or they subsidized them. The amount of money that this saved the employee was the same as the raise the employer would otherwise have given. This allowed employers to offer competitive compensation packages that attracted and retained desirable talent while following the letter of the law.

Like the income tax, this was a "temporary emergency wartime measure." That temporary measure destroyed any competitive market that existed for health benefits. It set a precedent where most people's benefits come from their employer, often a large one with many employees. The effect has been that to this day, an individual who independently purchases health insurance has no bargaining power. They are up against corporations with thousands of employees who can negotiate better prices in a way that individuals cannot. The individual generally receives a non-negotiable, "take it or leave it" offer in a market full of major players and little competition.

It also makes employees more dependent on their employers than what is strictly necessary. How many people stay with a job they don't really like because they are worried about losing their benefits? How many people lose their benefits when they lose a specific job, even though they could otherwise replace the income? In my opinion, the ideal balance is when the company needs its employees just as much as the employees need the company. Anytime that is not the case, the side which is more dependent gets the short end of the stick in any matter of bargaining or negotiation. Healthcare is just one of many ways that the corporations generally have us over a barrel, and know it.

I'd like to see all of that fixed. That would be real reform, or at least a good start. If that still doesn't work, then in the specific case of the USA I would be open to the idea of socialized health care. Right now most of what I am hearing in the news, from our leaders, consists of proposals for partial implementations of socialized care, except they go to some trouble to avoid calling it that, preferring to call it a "public option" etc.. I'm really not impressed. The unwillingness to call things what they are is better known as deception. The only reason for our politicians to be deceptive about this is because they are more interested in power than a smoothly-working system. I think this, above all, is what turns off many Americans to the prospect of socialism. If socialism turns out to be the right answer, it won't be because these clowns implemented it.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30410104)

The only reason for our politicians to be deceptive about this is because they are more interested in power than a smoothly-working system. I think this, above all, is what turns off many Americans to the prospect of socialism.

Bingo. Every "freebie" you get from the Government comes with a corresponding reduction in personal freedom. Want free health care? We will tell you what kind of policy you can purchase and take away your freedom to opt out of having said coverage.

Want assistance going to college? No problem. We'll just check to make sure you registered for selective service and make sure that you've never smoked weed.

Want money to help maintain your highways? No problem. Just implement 21 as the drinking age and we'll send you the money just as fast as you can cash the check. No matter that the Constitution grants [wikipedia.org] the states the exclusive right to regulate alcohol.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30412680)

Isn't this trade off between personal freedom and society inherent in every contract between individual and state. The entire foundation of the idea of having a country, laws and a constitution is based on people giving up the freedom of living in anarchy in exchange for the benifits of living together as a society.

There is a level of socialism inherent in all of this and is unavoidable, the answer can't be just to stagnate society but to decide what rules people are willing to live by in order to gain some benefits.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30413436)

The entire foundation of the idea of having a country, laws and a constitution is based on people giving up the freedom of living in anarchy in exchange for the benifits of living together as a society.

Except that we stopped following the constitution a long time ago. Now 50%+1 of the country intends to dictate to the other 49.99% the exact terms of that social contract. Any honest reading of the Constitution suggests that the Federal government has no power to compel me to purchase health insurance. And yet here we are, having this conservation.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 4 years ago | (#30410410)

Could an executive order from the President knock the congressmen off their healthcare and onto the "average american's" health plan? I think they would pass a bill pretty quick if they had high premiums, high co-pays, and had to deal with the insurance companies themselves. The whole idea that they can legislate plans for everyone, when they are on super 100% everything covered gold plans FOR LIFE, is ridiculous to me.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30416698)

Congresscritters have the same health care plans available to them that every other federal employee has, no better, no worse.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30408970)

I've become convinced that there are people who would prefer to spend more money as long as others, who do not have health coverage, are not helped.

Pay $200/month for health insurance and poor people get help, or pay $300 and they don't: perhaps it's just cynicism, but I'm sure there's a good number of people who would choose the latter.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409032)

Our current system contributes to 60% of bankruptcies, is the most expensive in the world, and doesn't come close to providing adequate care to everyone. I do not know whether a more capitalistic or a more socialistic system would be best, but right now we have the benefits of neither and the problems of both.

That said, life expectancy is difficult to compare across cultures. Ours is actually predicted to peak and start declining before long, due to the obesity epidemic. Other countries are about 5-15 years behind us in that regard, so it wouldn't surprise me if that explained some of the disparity. Additionally, as the center of medical training, we have a lot more specialists compared to primary care doctors, which increases costs quite a bit. As the center of medical research we pay something like five times more for many of our drugs as other countries do... cutting into that would have serious effects on Big Pharma's profits, and subsequently slow down research. Then you have confounding factors like prescription drug advertising, defensive medicine, complex legal issues, patent issues, asinine insurance company decisions, vaccine refusal, patient non-compliance, celebrities giving medical "advice", and media fear mongering.

This is a complex issue and cloning another country's system (or an amalgamation of several) isn't necessarily the best solution. It's actually not even entirely possible since America differs in culture, size, population distribution, patient expectations, and in a plethora of other ways from any other country. Sadly, I fear that most Americans are having their opinion told to them about this matter (and most others), exemplified by stuff like this facebook quiz.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 4 years ago | (#30418414)

Any arguments or considerations based upon "life expectancy" are bullsh*t.

There's this two thousand and five hundred year old book, called Psalms, which clearly states:

"Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong" [usccb.org]

How have the billions of taxpayer dollars sucked away improved on that number?

Re:Health reform for the stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30426358)

The Bible also claims that people could live hundreds of years. Not exactly a reliable source in intelligent discussion.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409590)

On one side you have a bunch of people who, like the old tobacco company, will swear blind that the current system is perfectly okay despite it killing an estimated 45,000 people a year.

We need health care reform, but let's use legitimate arguments instead of specious talking points to make the case. Otherwise, you are just supporting the people against health care reform by damaging the credibility of the argument for it.

You need to put that 45,000 figure into context. If, for example, the US had the UK healthcare system, there would be 300,000 more cancer deaths in the US every year as a simple matter of statistics across the respective populations.

Even if 45,000 was an accurate number it is pretty insignificant statistically. The US loses that many people to auto accidents ever year and no one cares. The differences in survival rates across a large number of common medical conditions between Europe and the US may be small as a percentage, but when scaled to a third of a billion people it can become a difference that dwarfs the number of deaths nominally caused by the current system. Hell, plain old medical incompetence kills far more than 45,000 Americans every year.

In short, that 45,000 is supposed to sound big but it falls in the statistical cracks when we are talking about death rates across various medical outcomes and fatal injuries. If the medical outcomes elsewhere were statistically better or close enough that 45,000 was a big difference it would be a more compelling argument, but none of the literature in the medical journals supports that. Consequently, the 45,000 is pretty much a non-argument for changing anything. You'd save far more lives clamping down on incompetence and malpractice.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

Monsuco (998964) | more than 4 years ago | (#30411444)

The irony of course is that the US not only has the worst coverage it also has the most expensive healthcare in the world

We also recieve the most healthcare in the world. American's generally have elective surgery much more than is average, and they tend to spend more on optional prescriptions. No surprise, more care = more cost. This isn't a bad thing, remember that like nearly any sector of the economy healthcare is not zero-sum. More money spent there doesn't mean there is less for everything else. Production of goods or providing of services have value, money is used as a token to exchange value. If I spend a few thousand on lasik, it doesn't mean I lost that money and the surgeon gained, it means I exchanged my money for better eyesight, which I valued more than the money spent. The surgeon valued the money more then his efforts. Large sums of the economy spent on healthcare does not in any way indicate a problem. This just shows in absence of rationing people who can spend more will. America's population is also aging, so expect healthcare spending to increase as seniors look for more modern medicine.

while also having a lower life expectancy than most other 1st world countries.

Life expectancy is possibly one of the least rational ways to measure healthcare. America has far higher automobile usage then most countries, and automobiles are very dangerous. We also have an abnormally high murder and violent crime rate. If you factor out murder and traffic accidents this lower life expectancy vanishes. There are other factors that should probably be adjusted for. We also have the highest obesity rate, which may be a health problem but isn't something that would really be helped by socialized medicine. We measure life expectancy differently than several European countries. Notably, hospitals in the US will generally go to further lengths then most European hospitals to save premature or poorly developed newborns, recording them as infant deaths (their young age is such an outlier it can have quite an impact on the average) rather then just letting them die and recording them as stillborn.

No its the system that corporations with marketing departments want and the sheep are fine to go along if they get thrown some facebook points.

Guess what? The people managing socialized healthcare systems want you to go along with their plan? Guess what? Both sides have marketing departments. There is no big conspiracy by "zOMG big companies, teh evilz". Health insurance is a risk pool. You are paying to reduce your risk. It is just like any other form of insurance (or like speculation). Companies are just as rationally self-interested as beurocrats, and both have just as much an interest in denying care or rationing it. The difference is in a market if either party wants, they can refuse the exchange or seek some other seller. I can't just seek another government, not without moving.

Indeed, the problems with our healthcare system all stem from regulation, not insurance companies. Our "free market" healthcare system is the most regulated industry in the country. The only other industries I know of that come anywhere close are airlines, energy, utilities, and rent controlled apartments, none of whom are known for being models of efficiency. We mandate employers provide coverage, so there is no shopping around. Since this makes paying out of pocket a luxury and have laws against other groups teaming up to provide coverage (taking advantage of economies of scale) paying out of pocket if you aren't covered or are self employeed is very expensive. Both the federal government and the states (and many counties or cities) mandate that insurance companies cover non-emergency coverage, rather than allowing for consumer choice drives up prices.Legal liability is ridiculous because you can generally sue someone with no real risk to yourself, rather then having the loser pay for both parties, and there are few caps on liability. Our laws make it virtually impossible to have clinic "chains" or hospital "chains" like you have restaurant chains. Hospitals are forced to absorb cost from people who are not covered (and even in non-life threatening situations, turning someone down in an ER is difficult), and they pass this along to payers. Getting any new medicine approved by the FDA can take more then a decade. Tort reform, paying non-emergency expenses out of pocket, banning states from prohibiting out of state insurance, elimination of employer based coverage, reforming the FDA approval process (perhaps if enough other first world countries approve of a drug, it should be available here, even if not yet FDA approved, at least until the FDA could get around to it), allowing for the import of foreign medicines (except those subject to price controls or that would be in violation of US patents if made here should still be prohibited or offset with a tariff), and allowing hospitals to turn down non-emergencies would all be nice starts and would not cost anything. Perhaps we could also eliminate medicare part d and redirect part of medicaid into providing subsidies for low income people to buying emergency coverage for people with low income and eliminate the penalties for not depleting a health savings account.

I only see a few areas of healthcare that have consistently gotten cheaper. Laser vision correction and cosmetic surgery quickly come to mind. The reason is people pay out of pocket rather than through insurance on these, so they compare prices. If your doctor were to just charge you upfront, it would be tons cheaper then paying a co-pay, paying partially through insurance. There is no overhead to just slapping down $50 up front for a physical. Several prescriptions also got cheaper, not thanks to government but thanks to Wal-Mart, who introduced $4 generics, later matched by Target, King Soopers, and others. In some places Wal-Mart even has clinics that do just what I mentioned. They post their prices up front and refuse insurance. No paperwork, no hidden cost, just the price.

Re:Health reform for the stupid (1)

nlindstrom (244357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30417628)

That is 15 9/11s in terms of un-needed deaths as a result of the current system which is being actively supported by those who profit from it.

I'm sorry, but as an American, I don't understand this "9/11" measure of which you speak. Could you give it to me in football fields?

Virtual Currency = Virtual Platforms (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30408120)

I'd like to hear Obama's stance on the recent Lay on Hands nerf for Paladins. If he is willing to support reverting this back to not include the Forebarance debuff than I may be willing to support his Health Care Reform bill.

similar to FCC complaints (1)

WaXHeLL (452463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408184)

Sadly, this is like the FCC complaints on indecency. There are a few special interest groups that generate hundreds or thousands of complaints that don't accurately represent consumers. That way, the FCC acts, and those special interest groups get their agenda pushed, even though the actual number of consumers complaining are minimal or none.

Isn't that fraud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30408230)

Instead of asking the gamers to try a product the way Netflix would, "Get Health Reform Right" requires gamers to take a survey, which, upon completion, automatically sends the following email to their Congressional Rep: "I am concerned a new government plan could cause me to lose the employer coverage I have today. More government bureaucracy will only create more problems, not solve the ones we have."

Does the user have to click a button to send that? Is the purpose of the button clearly labeled? Does the user know the contents of the e-mail before it is sent? If not this sounds like fraudulent impersonation, and somebody could do us a big favor and go after the industry group with a criminal complaint.

Government Bureaucracy? (2)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408268)

I hate large, inefficient institutions as much as anyone but these large corporations are just as large and inefficient as the government, plus a profit motive. I say bring on government health care.

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (2, Funny)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408700)

Yes, but I am concerned a new government plan could cause me to lose the employer coverage I have today. More government bureaucracy will only create more problems, not solve the ones we have.

(Sorry, my account was hacked by a clever survey! :b)

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408750)

but these large corporations are just as large and inefficient as the government

I suspect that if that were indeed the case we'd see a lot more countries like Cuba out-performing more capitalist nations. Government isn't without a profit motive; you've just convinced yourself that there isn't one.

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (4, Informative)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408820)

In the realm of health care, Cuba does [realclearpolitics.com] outperform the United States.

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408892)

Technically only the South for the most part. The North on the other hand is on par with Europe's life expectancy. Curiously enough, even the more conservative northern states like Montana have relatively high life expectancies compared to the south. It appears to be mostly a cultural phenomenon rather than a structural one.

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409284)

I'd like to look at whatever statistics you're using.

In my understanding, the center cities in the North are substantially worse in all public health indicators than Cuba. I know the infant mortality and life expectancy in The Bronx, NY is worse than Cuba.

In fact, Fidel Castro invited a dozen Americans to attend Cuban medical school, and they did. One guy came from The Bronx. A doctor from the New England Journal of Medicine visited their school, and reported favorably on it. Castro also offered to send Cuban doctors to underserved areas of the U.S., but Bush turned him down.

U.S. health care for the poor really is terrible. It's like being in the third world. 22,000 people died in 2006 because they didn't have health insurance, according to the Urban Institute. http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411588_uninsured_dying.pdf [urban.org]

Don't believe me. Don't believe Michael Moore. Try to get health care for somebody who can't afford it. Call up a hospital, or try to get Medicaid. Go to a hospital emergency room and talk to the people waiting there.

For the middle class, the problem is not that you won't be able to get health care, but that you'll get a serious disease and it will drive you bankrupt. Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren said that under all the current proposals, you'll still go bankrupt.

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (1)

mwolfe38 (1286498) | more than 4 years ago | (#30410730)

Is this a sarcastic comment.. Or did you not actually read the article you linked?

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409034)

but these large corporations are just as large and inefficient as the government

I suspect that if that were indeed the case we'd see a lot more countries like Cuba out-performing more capitalist nations. Government isn't without a profit motive; you've just convinced yourself that there isn't one.

Look on the back of your computer. What Communist country was it made in?

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409132)

I'm sure if we knocked out those pesky minimum wage laws our labor would be dirt cheap too. Now if you're referring to China as being the Communist state in question, there's one slight problem: it isn't.

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409234)

If only we could lobby for minimum wage laws in said countries, there would be no cost incentive to send production overseas. This would of course help to 1. Improve quality of living in said countries and 2. Bring jobs back here.

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30410592)

Sorry, but removing $1 per hour jobs will NOT cause $8 per hour jobs to suddenly pop up everywhere. Instead, it will no longer be profitable to hire Chinese workers so the poor employees working for $1 an hour will go back to subsistence farming, which is even worse.

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (1)

zippyspringboard (1483595) | more than 4 years ago | (#30411554)

Instead, it will no longer be profitable to hire Chinese workers so the poor employees working for $1 an hour will go back to subsistence farming, which is even worse.

Are you sure about that? It's my understanding that the transition from the harsh existence of subsistence farming to an industrial one isn't exactly *always* a step up. Sure the carrot on the end of the stick is a whole lot better, but *often* the average worker usually makes out worse. Some improve their life greatly and are held up as a shining example. They are not the norm though.

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30412398)

Millions of workers have willingly made the transition and when they shared their stories millions more did the same. So I imagine it is a step up for them.

Re:Government Bureaucracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409148)

China?

whats next virtual Monopoly? (1)

Old Flatulent 1 (1692076) | more than 4 years ago | (#30408566)

Beware there might be a lawsuit from Milton Bradley..having the HMOs using virtual money to lobby is rather like having the advantage of some really well healed (pardon the pun) lobbyists just playing a game that we all have to pay for!

Fake Personalities, Real Scams (1)

TheBunnyGirl.com (1299691) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409014)

Stories like these illustrate the reason why I've stopped using these social networking sites, especially Facebook. The amount of scams on there is ridiculous... all of those little "games" that your friends ask you to sign up to play are just scams to get you to agree to give them your contact information. Now lobbyists are succeeding to make themselves even more unreputable. Way to jump on the bandwagon.

Its everywhere (1)

ewe2 (47163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409244)

Half of my twitter followers are either commercial (I have an airline following me ffs) or data-mining spammers. Most of them know better than to tweet me and get blocked. I used to block them initially but they just find a different nick and rejoin. I call it twittercrud.

Its not lobbying. its tricking and spamming. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30412298)

everyone knows it is extremely easy to trick a user to send some messages/invitations to masses of friends/groups s/he has no intention of sending them.

american corporatism. everywhere. not only screwing, but also fooling americans. yet there are still morons who think that unregulated corporatism can work.

I call BS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30418890)

Sounds like a way to propagandize for the administrations "health care plan" to me.

Why would the health insurance industry be against Obamacare? It only will line their pockets even more. Just like how all of the oil companies are in full support of (and financially behind) "climate change" theory, while the climate change theorists (who just happen to own carbon trading derivitive scams) claim that the "oil companies are against carbon trading ponzie schemes, and taxes "to save the earth".

Judging from the usual unbiased accuracy (sarcasm) of the media at large, I guess we're just supposed to believe it because it is being "reported on".

I for one, can't wait to be thrown in jail for my refusal to pay the Federal Government by force for shitty healthcare provided by many of the same fatcats running the private health insurance industry, that I don't want or need, or be forced to ask the IRS on a continual basis, permission to pay 3X+ the price for private insurance so that my doctor will still be able to practice medicine without relying on a central Big Brother database to tell him, with the full force of law, what new designer drug with a list of side effects a mile long that the pharmaseutical lobby has demanded I be prescribed (again, with the full force of the law).

Oh yeah... the pharma and insurance industries are SOOO against Obamacare. Come on now.

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