Daniel Eran Dilger
Random header image... Refresh for more!

What Obama could learn from Apple… on Health Care

Daniel Eran Dilger

Before President Obama was elected, I compared him to Steve Jobs on the threshold of Apple in 1996, challenged with the task of rebuilding a failed enterprise and charting out a new future for it. How well is Obama doing in his role as a Jobsian CEO of America? Well, he could use some Apple-style marketing.

.
“Once he took over the reins at Apple,” I wrote, “Jobs immediately worked to slash pointless spending, restore confidence in the company, end a costly war with Microsoft, and set up new regulations outlining how new products would be created and financed.”

In some ways, Obama has it easy. In 1996, almost everyone was betting against Apple because few had any real interest in seeing the company prosper. Obama has millions of Americans rooting for him and maintains a celebrity status that Jobs had to earn through many keynotes of presenting one simple genius product after the next.

The other major difference, however, is that Jobs’ biggest fans supported his decisions as they grew bolder and gutsier, while Obama’s core supporters have grown increasingly irritated with his performance as it has watered down into compromise.

Imagine Steve Jobs for President

Obama vs Jobs.

Since taking office just a few months ago, Obama has turned the country around in many respects, from acting to protect our natural resources, insure children’s health, stop the most egregious torture programs operated by the Bush Administration, and reach out to our nation’s global neighbors to work to establish peace and security rather than following a religious crusade to assault, offend and alienate the rest of the world. Those things were all expected, so Obama got very little credit for pursuing any of them in his first days.

Obama now faces tougher decisions, and like Jobs, he’s being questioned and criticized at every step by observers on all sides. Jobs had the advantage of being able to direct Apple as an unchallenged dictator, killing off projects that made no sense (like the Newton Message Pad) and beginning new business that he hoped would succeed (like Mac OS X and the iPod).

Obama has to rely upon Congress to actually make laws and the Supreme Court to interpret them, thanks to a Constitutional mandate that checks and balances power, at least in years where Congress doesn’t weakly cower to the president’s decrees and the Supreme Court isn’t packed with activist conservatives who originally elected the president.

Today’s president isn’t wielding the near absolute power that Jobs could; instead, Obama has signaled that he plans to force Congress itself to hammer out its own compromises in areas like health care. Given the opportunity to replace a departing liberal on the Court, the president selected an experienced moderate in Sonia Sotomayor rather than a strongly progressive liberal justice. Obama seems to actually live in his idealistic fantasy where good prevails. This may be a mistake.

Obama’s Inheritance.

With his insistence upon actually acting within the role of a Constitutional US President rather than as a dictator that bullies Congress into the fear-based passage of trillions in spending on the Iraq War, massively expensive tax bailouts for the top 1% of the richest of the rich, and a series of hundreds of billions of failure bonuses paid out to banks and investment firms who made poor decisions with other people’s money, Obama must instead motivate Congress and the American people it represents to act intelligently and rationally using facts and science. This may be grossly naive.

America has fallen precipitously since the glory days of the 60s, when the country acted as a role model for the rest of the world, investing in the finest education for our children, acting aggressively to accord full civil rights to politically weak minorities, and hold scientific achievement in such high regard that our nation was first to set foot on the moon.

Today, the US ranks 18th out of 36 nations in education, is the only country among all advanced nations to fail to provide health care for its citizens, and has grown so skeptical of rational thought and science that entire states have traded away their credibility to cater to populist ignorance and fear.

Our nation has become so embarrassingly backward that we’re the only one left to have rejected the SI metric system for a nostalgic attachment to old English imperial measurements, resulting in our country also being the first nation to confuse measurements and subsequently waste millions in space on a satellite that doesn’t work.

Obama has inherited this country of increasingly uneducated, superstitious, and easily swayed mobs of angry and frustrated government haters, who also seem to think of themselves as deeply patriotic. Fixing the Beleaguered Apple of the mid 90s looks like a cake walk compared to the challenge ahead of Obama.

When the Going Gets Tough…

The good news for Obama is that the more difficult the problems are, the more qualified talent he can attract, as long as he doesn’t begin making easy choices that destroy the hope for change that he inspired in America prior to getting elected. The great difficulty of turning around Apple enabled Jobs to attract extremely talented people who were hungry for challenge and subsequently worked hard to achieve something meaningful and game changing in the tech world.

Obama seems to be surrounded by highly competent people. The president himself also offers little to assault in terms of talent and intelligence, forcing his critics to make up absurdist claims instead, ranging from branding him as “hating white people,” to being a secret operative for Islam, to being too physically fit, to being a radical Marxist with a weak spot for terrorism, to being just too educated and not religious enough.

However, Obama and his entourage of elite intellectuals, feared and loathed so much by the non-elites who closely follow their actually very racist, ignorant, hatred and violence-inciting pundits into the land of irrational superstition and credulity, seem to be so isolated within their bubble of well-meaning, good natured, can-do American idealism that I think they need to reappraise the task at hand, looking to Apple for some guidence.

How Obama Can Win Over Health Care Skeptics, Apple Style.

Issue 1: Obama’s effort to get Congress to fix the world’s most expensive but wildly ineffective and inefficient health care system appears to be facing massive push back, thanks to fearful and largely irrational panic induced by the powers who earn the most profits from inaction. This isn’t a political problem, its a marketing problem. Take a page from Apple: invent some brand names to use while you tell people why they need it. People don’t respond to intellectual discussion of complex details; cater to their simplistic grasp of basic ideas. Use graphics.

Medicare, the system passed by Democrats in 1965 and enacted over the angry protest of conservatives, is now being brilliantly used by Republicans to bash health care reform. They say any changes will hurt people on Medicare. They know this is a lie; many of them opposed and continue to oppose Medicare itself, only paying it lip service because America’s elderly intensely love being covered by the single payer, government health care system, completely unaware that Medicare is a single payer, government health care system.

In 1961, Ronald Reagan said “if you don’t [stop Medicare] and I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” George HW Bush warned that Medicare was “socialized medicine” in 1964, and Bob Dole, in his failed run for president in 1996, bragged “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.” Medicare is a single payer, government health care system promoted by Democrats. When Republicans say they’re worried that Democrats will hurt old people by shutting it down or taking away their benefits, it mean they are liars, because Medicare stands for everything Republicans hate and Democrats seek to promote.

Solution 1: Obama shouldn’t be referring to generic “health care reform” or “health insurance reform.” He should be using the Democrat’s own brand name. This is “Medicare for America.” If that’s too hard to turn into a logo, then call it “Medicare II.” That will force Republicans to either admit that they are really against health care for anyone, turning the full rage of senior citizens against them where it belongs, or decide to actually support the system that anyone in America who can get it prefers to have over profiteering health care plans that exist to deny them coverage in exchange for profits.

So Obama and Madame Pelosi, name your damn bill Medicare II. Even Steve Jobs knew he had to rename OpenStep as Mac OS X in order to sell it to Mac users. It is borderline moronic that you are enabling your critics to name your bill for you, calling it ObamaCare as a way to incite personal and partisan hatred that has nothing to do with the merits of the bill.

And by the way, why haven’t I ever heard Obama or any Democrat say “the Medicare you enjoy and rely upon is a single payer, government health care system”? This should be repeated at least a dozen times daily on the news.

The Republican Death Panel

Issue 2: Republicans have begun coining coy slogans involving rationing and death panels to incite ignorant fear of change. Key to this campaign is a provision that enables Medicare II to pay for end of life counseling, so the people are informed of their options by their doctor, and can then choose whether they want to spend the last year or two of their life strapped to a hospital bed being kept alive artificially at great cost in the manner of Terri Schiavo, or allowed to spend their last days at home with their families and loved ones.

Individuals have either option under the plan; the only change is having the government pay doctors to provide patients with an outline of their options. There is no government involvement in the decision making process, and if anything, doctors might be biased toward talking terminal patients into spending hundreds of thousands extra to die in a sterile hospital, separated from their families.

Despite some Republicans’ mischaracterizations, the only real government intervention in health care in recent history was when Republicans sought to force Schiavo’s husband to keep his dead wife in suspended animation in perpetuity and at great cost following 15 years of her being in a persistent vegetative state following a tragic accident.

Somewhat ironically, while Republican leaders were catering to the Right-to-Life-as-long-as-you-don’t-enjoy-it crowd of family-meddling religious activists, they also began supporting the idea of enabling individuals to choose their own destiny using advanced care directives.

This legislation was supported by Republicans in Congress and later added to Medicare II by Republicans in the House, built using legislation drafted by Republicans pertaining to existing Medicare users. Now however, certain fringe Republicans have taken to calling this provision a “death panel” system, supposedly written by Obama himself, where citizens would beg government bureaucrats for coverage and likely be denied based on their value to society.

This disgusting mischaracterization is refuted as a “lie” and “nuts” even by moderate Republicans, including those Republicans in the House who originally wrote the language and put it into the Medicare II health care bill. That hasn’t stopped the media from repeating the phrase and taking it seriously as a matter of rational discourse.

It’s as if the Birther/Deather, Separatist/Patriot, Debtor/Conservatives are the only group that can create talking points and make up jingle slogans that the media will parrot. Why it that? Because Obama isn’t spoon feeding stupid Americans with the same level of baby food soft bits that Republican wonks have grown so skilled at doing. Time to catch up, Obama.

Solution 2: Nip this issue in the bud by calling the Death Panel Provision what it really is: “Republican-Sponsored End of Life Counseling.” No Democrat should ever miss an opportunity to call this spade a spade, while also praising it and the Republicans who wrote it for its being good legislation that is sensible, moral, intelligent and a potential source of cost savings and an important quality of life issue.

Instead, progressives are stopping to patiently explain how this works to an audience of old people only slightly more sentient than Schiavo was. Stop the madness Obama: stop explaining and start making sound bits to block the faux-outrage. You can’t negotiate with terrorists nor the persistently vegetative.

Obama, have the balls to tell America that Sarah Palin is flat out lying about Republican-Sponsored End of Life Counseling, and tell us about the Down Syndrome citizens that America’s single payer, government run health care systems, Medicare and Medicaid, already support. Then point out that Medicare II would have supported providing her family with birth control so that her unwed daughter wouldn’t be needing to give up her youth to raise a kid she didn’t plan on having, and that the girl’s now estranged boyfriend wouldn’t have needed to drop out of high school to get a manual labor job put on a morality play during Palin’s campaign just to create the illusion that the failure of “abstinence-only” policy has no real consequences as long as you can maintain a hypocritical show. Both kids could be in college.

Who Pays?

Obama has insisted all along that he wants Medicare II to be deficit neutral, believing that cost efficiencies and better bargaining with Medicare-abusing health industry profiteers will offset the majority of the cost of giving Americans the same access to preventive care that citizens of other advanced countries get, rather than telling the middle class to simply show up at the emergency room as President Bush suggested Americans could do.

Congress, pressed by the health industry’s lobbyists and the rabid crowds of old people terrified by the Republican’s unbelievably backward charge that Democrats are trying to take away their Medicare, has started threatening to water down Medicare II by taking away all the things that would make it work and throwing in things that would make it more expensive, such as Republican-Sponsored End of Life Counseling.

Republicans are working tirelessly to kill Medicare II because they know if it passes, it will be just as popular as the current Medicare system. They know they can’t stop anything at all from happening, so they’re banking on watering it down to the point where the system remains exploited by health care profiteers and becomes a failure.

Republicans want to do to healthcare what the Bush Administration did to FEMA: starve it into failure and assign inept management from a pool of incompetent friends. Then, when America depends upon their government, the government will fail and Republicans can point out that government is to be feared.

Never mind that we have plenty of successful examples of government, from the Interstate System to our National Parks to the EPA to OSHA to the FCC to the FAA; in fact, the American government works pretty damn well until Republicans destroy things in order to prove it doesn’t, such has been the case with, say, Amtrak, leaving the US without a competitive rail system in corridors where rail makes sense, and leaving the nation laughably behind the rest of the world.

McCain vs. Obama Presidential Pop Quiz: Socialism

This all has the media now saying that Obama is somehow probably not telling the truth when he says he wants Medicare II to be deficit neutral, or that it may not be realistic. A variety of solutions have been proposed by Congress, including the taxation of expensive benefits given to high earners and the restoration of taxes on the super rich that Bush cut for them, resulting in massive new deficits.

Nobody in Congress complained when Bush set in motion massive deficit spending designed to cause government starvation with his massive gift to the super rich. But now that the middle class stands to benefit from health care under Medicare II, Congress is suddenly worried about America’s debt levels, even though Medicare II wouldn’t have a substantial impact on the federal debt.

Here again is an opportunity for Apple-style branding that kills multiple birds with one stone. Americans are outraged over the massive bonuses being paid out by badly behaving banks that received huge, no questions asked bailouts from Bush as part of his closing act. They would also be outraged if they knew that people who make massive salaries are being given additional tax-free benefit packages that are larger than the average American’s entire salary.

Solution: Obama, stop talking about exploring the idea of “taxing benefits” and “new taxes on blah blah” and start announcing that you will pay for Medicare II by levying a new Bailout Bonus Penalty that will impact individuals that benefitted most from the Bush Bailouts: those making more than a quarter million in salaries, and those who get massive tax-free bonus benefits worth tens of thousands of dollars a year. This will indicate that you are aware of the anger of those who witnessed the massive redistribution of wealth from the public reserves of the government to the well connected douche bags on Wall Street, and that you have a righteous funding source for Medicare II.

Then assure Americans that their children and grandchildren will not being paying for their Medicare II benefits, but only Bush’s Iraq War and his massive tax holiday for the super rich. Given that massive debt burden, America’s next generations will need a health care system that enables them to stay productive and healthy as they compete globally against advanced nations who already have a functional health care system. What will do that Obama? Yes, Medicare II. Don’t forget to repeat that every day until America gets it.

  • twilightmoon

    Dan,

    As far as the healthcare debate issue goes, I realize the current system has significant problems, primarily high costs, and you made a good point about it not being a normal “free market” but my problem is I do not trust the government running medicine.

    You bring up roads. I live in Los Angeles area where roads are falling apart in the city of Los Angeles, and the freeway system is a dysfunctional broken mess. Car pool lanes still exist 20 years after being proven to be disastrously counterproductive at reducing traffic, in numerous studies. Vast amounts of money is spent on subways that few people use, and very little to expand the freeway system that nearly everyone uses. Inefficiencies abound, the boondoggle that was the 105 freeway that took decades to build due to dispute over payment to home owners that were in the path of the planned freeway are just one of many examples.

    Maybe there are parts of the country where roads and freeways are adequately built and maintained, but not by me.

    So you can see if the same people that run the DMV, and build roads and bridges are going to completely take over private health care system, why I’d be afraid. And I’m not alone, and it’s not only Republicans that are worried about a completely government run healthcare system.

    It’s possible it could be better than what we have currently but it’s hardly unlikely that it could be a whole lot worse for a lot of people, and it could be a complete disaster. If it’s a disaster it’s likely it will remain that way forever, since the government rarely seems to be able to fix problems it creates, it only makes them worse.

    The reason for this is there is no accountability in government. Yes you can remove people from office, but most of the work and most of the decisions are made by people in a giant Beaurocracy that you never see or hear about.

    With the current system you can sue doctors if they cut off the wrong leg or leave surgical equipment in you after they sew you back up. What do you do in a public run system if that happens?

  • droughtquake

    @twilightmoon: California’s Prop 13 has been the biggest disaster in tax policy for education. The inclusion of commercial property tax was one of the sneakiest trick by republicans to starve the entire education system into the situation we have today. Scaring undereducated voters by threatening Grandma (‘Grandma’s going to lose her house because property taxes keep rising!’) was a very effective, but cynical ploy.

    And if you paid attention, you’d know which politicians have introduced legislation regarding bullies and violence. The republicans are the ones who keep vetoing efforts to prevent religious superstition and hatred from interfering with the rights of others.

    @Dan Inouye: Too bad you’re not more like your more famous namesake. He never comes off as rude.

  • Dan Inouye

    @Droughtquake Rude? I just gave Dan a compliment…

  • Dan Inouye

    Anyway, barring droughtquake’s input, I’m just saying that if Dan wants to build a more consensus, he needs to tone down the attacking and blaming.

    I thought his last comment to shiver me timbers was well reasoned and delivered well – and I told him so. We may not agree, as I too am skeptical of another government run body, but if Dan debates with the tone he used on that comment, he’d get more people to see his general point more clearly.

  • Oatworm

    shiver me timbers – You are correct. Ron Paul did not run as a Constitution Party member. He did, however, endorse Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party candidate. That was reported by, among others, the Wall Street Journal:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/09/24/dismissing-bob-barr-ron-paul-endorses-constitution-party-candidate/

    A somewhat more detailed look at that nomination (albeit with a distinct slant) can be found here:
    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/128950.html

    So, yes, Daniel was factually incorrect. Ron Paul did not campaign under the crazy racist Christofascist banner. He only openly supported someone else who did.

    [Paul was the Constitution Party candidate in Montana in the most recent election. He may not have been excited about the party’s entire platform, but he did not repudiate it either. -Dan]

  • shiver me timbers

    Once again, Daniel, you continue to mangle the facts. According to the Associated Press:

    “In his letter dated Wednesday, Paul said he never wanted to be on the ballot. Paul lost a bid for the GOP presidential nomination earlier this year.

    ‘While I certainly appreciate the Constitution Party of Montana’s nomination, and all of the hard work of its members, I am writing to respectfully request that you remove my name from the ballot in Montana as I did not seek nor consent to this nomination,’ Paul wrote.”

    So, let me get this straight. No one wants to truly look at Ron Paul’s policies, just slander him with guilt by association so that his policies don’t deserve consideration. Oh, and let’s be sure to throw in such associations as crazy racist Christofascist, religious nuts, hate gays, rape the earth, etc., because that really encourages having a healthy, honest debate over the issues. Very constructive, labeling is. Especially when you broadly apply one label over an entire group of people. That’s not really a sign of intelligence.

    Let’s see. We already know that Microsoft is evil on this site (which I wholeheartedly agree with), but also Republicans are evil, conservatives are evil, Christians are evil, while Democrats can do no wrong.

    Believe me, the shape our country is in, there’s enough blame to go around for everyone.

  • Dan Inouye

    “Let’s see. We already know that Microsoft is evil on this site (which I wholeheartedly agree with), but also Republicans are evil, conservatives are evil, Christians are evil, while Democrats can do no wrong.”

    Even as Dan professes to be independent and says he blames both parties for our troubles, the quote above from shiver me timbers shows that Dan comes off as hateful toward people who are conservative or Republican. This is the image that is being portrayed. That’s why his more substantial arguments are diluted as people only see him attacking.

  • http://wanderbook.com eddieclay

    I just want second Inouye ‘s response to Dan’s response to Shiver Me Timbers response: a very well articulated argument. The problem with the arguments in the original article (besides all the ad hominems) is 1) “Medicare For All” as a marketing slogan has already been tried. 2) Saying people hate old people sets up another Carter “there you go again” moment…Reagan, a Democrat in 1961, was against medicare but truly believed there way another way to go (Kerr-Mills) …a form of welfare ironically, thus simply saying anti-Medicare people hate old people won’t win any converts. 3) as you say, Jobs can be kind of a dictator in his second term at Apple, Obama is not, thus likely to get ousted by a cola salesman if he does it the Job’s way. 5) Finally, as far as I know Jobs did not go to Britain to get the best health care he could get during his recent troubles, and I am pretty sure he as much as anybody had every option available to him

  • Oatworm

    shiver me timbers: I know better than to feed a Ronulan, but, hey, it’s a slow day at work.

    There’s an old saying: “A broken clock is right twice a day.” In a similar fashion, Ron Paul has some good ideas. Audit the Fed? Brilliant idea, though I think it’ll just turn into some political kabuki. Less interventionist foreign policy? Sweet!

    Voting against the non-binding resolution expressing support for the opposition in Iran’s last elections? Well, I understand the principle behind it, but it wasn’t politically intelligent…

    Bringing back the gold standard? Umm… Bretton Woods died for a reason. Besides, it’s not like inflation never happened before until Nixon came along, and it’s not like deflation is a bed of roses, either. Just ask Japan in the ’90s. Or, better yet, ask anybody that lived through the Great Depression.

    Openly voicing support for a candidate that openly sought, fought for, and won the endorsement of a political party whose platform (quoting from the website – http://www.constitutionparty.com/party_platform.php) includes this gem:

    **********
    The Voting Rights Act should be repealed. The Federal Election Campaign Act, including its 1974 amendments, and the Federal Election Commission should be abolished.
    **********

    And this gem:

    **********
    The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.
    **********

    Well, now, that’s just flat-out insane. Sorry. Baldwin is a crackpot, the Constitution Party is in the outer fringe of the outer fringe, and, no matter how you slice and dice it, Ron Paul voiced support for these people. Whether Paul is a crank or just politically tone deaf is certainly debatable, but, no matter how you slice it, it doesn’t look good.

    That said, take a look at the byline here:
    Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco

    People, if you’re looking for pro-Republican (or even not completely anti-Republican) spin from a tech journal written by an Apple fan in San Francisco… um… you might be crazy enough to be a Ron Paul supporter. Just sayin’.

  • Dan Inouye

    “People, if you’re looking for pro-Republican (or even not completely anti-Republican) spin from a tech journal written by an Apple fan in San Francisco… um… you might be crazy enough to be a Ron Paul supporter. Just sayin’.”

    Dan is certainly entitled to his viewpoints. However, my guess is that with his motorcycle accident and his battles with his insurance company, this is a topic he’s passionate about. Using his current course of action, all he’s doing is preaching to the choir of liberals that agree with him. If Dan was a big time journalist or pundit, I’m sure he’d be invited to all those glamorous cocktail parties we hear about. But, if he wants this legislation to pass, he and Obama will have to do a better job of winning over his critics. Attacking doesn’t help much other than to make more enemies and create more deadlock.

    One more point: Dan likes to paint Republicans and conservatives as backwards-thinking bigots with no capacity to learn or comprehend “enlightened ways” of thinking – and he often writes on it with zeal. In doing so, he becomes the person he detests: a bigot. That’s hardly enlightened or progressive of him…

  • bergmef

    I see Health Care/Health Insurance reform as it stands right as one major screw-up. What bill is anyone talking about? There are 5 of them. HR3200 is the most referenced when people actually talk about the bill and not talk emotion. I asked Senator Cardin at the Towson town hall about getting new private insurance (like getting a new job, you change group insurance) after the bill became law. He said I can keep my private insurance if I wanted to (kinda didn’t answer the question). I showed him the page that said all new enrollment in private insurance is frozen after the bill became law. He said he’d look into it, but his assistant refused to take a piece of paper with my email address. Being an engineer, maybe I’m just a data nut or someone that has to look at something from all angles, but there is a simple way to pass it or let it die. Instead of the 1 hour special like before where the President stands up there and tells about his plan (only), let HR 2520 out of committee (been there since May with no vote), maybe let someone that supports it show up, an prove why HR3200 is better. I might look at it in a simplistic way, but just put the two plans together and compare. Make a big chart if you like … mine covers this many, their plan covers this many, CBO says mine cost this much, that cost that much, this one tries for tort reform this way, that tries that way, … it’s not rocket science to compare multiple plans and I’m sure the networks will give him the time. As for the polling, you can get the polls to say anything you want. Hell, Rasmussen had the numbers as 32 percent for public option (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/august_2009/32_favor_single_payer_health_care_57_oppose#), not to overwelming.

    Frank

  • twilightmoon

    @droughtquake

    “The republicans are the ones who keep vetoing efforts to prevent religious superstition and hatred from interfering with the rights of others.”

    You are of course referring to “hate crime” legislation which cherry picks what types of violence is okay and which is not. Its a terrible idea to protects say blacks and gays, but not whites and heterosexuals. Violence is violence, and bullying is bullying. Choosing to protect blacks and gays over whites and heterosexuals is worse than racist, as it comes in the context of preventing racism.

    You can’t outlaw racism, but you can outlaw violence. In California we have the singularly most effective tool against violence in the country in the form of a 3 Strikes Law, that eliminates the most destructive form of violence in the form of a recidivist offender. Those that repeatedly do harm to society make up a disproportionately large percentage of all crimes and most especially violent crimes, and they get heavily punished. Far more so in California than anywhere else in the country.

    I partially agree with your point about Prop 13, especially regarding corporate protections. But the problems with education in California are far deeper than that one issue.

  • JohnWatkins

    @ twilightmoon, The “3 Strikes” law has been a total failure in every way. Far from getting violent people off the street, it has forced the release of violent offenders while choking prisons with non-violent third time offenders (mostly drug addicts and homeless people.) If you don’t even realize that, I doubt much you have to say is worth hearing!
    Feel good legislation usually ends badly (hate crime legislation is a god example, but I doubt that was what “droughtquake” was talking about.)

  • twilightmoon

    John,

    I have no idea where you got your data from but I’ve done quite a bit of research on the 3 Strikes Law. It’s far from a total failure, it has very easily demonstrable decrease in rates of murder, assault, and rape among other serious and violent crimes when the law was starting to go into effect in the mid to late 1990s.

    True, there are far too many non-violent drug offenders in jail but that’s not the fault of the 3 Strikes Law, that’s the fault of the failed war on drugs. Which I’m against. This is not a problem unique to California, however.

    To say however that homeless people should not be in jail because they are homeless? Are you seriously claiming that someone who commits a crime should not be in jail because they do not live in a residence with an address? That is simply outrageous. I have a close friend who was nearly raped and killed in her own home by a “homeless” man who lived in his car. How dare you say that.

    Try learning a few facts about the 3 Strikes Law, you’d change your mind if you did some research on it. Assuming you were open to the truth. It’s the best law that California has ever passed.

  • JohnWatkins

    TM, California, (I have assumed you are from there) because of its various unique (some probably unconstitutional) provisions in implementation, represents by far the majority of 3 strikes convictions in the US — thats’s more thanthe whole rest of the US! They’ve *really* gotten those bad people off the streets!
    Strangely, since 1994, when the law went into effect, the crime rate in New York has reduced more than the rate in California. And guess what? NY has no such law. Kind of makes you go, Hmmm.

    Also since people can be charged with a felony for a second conviction of petty theft, shoplifting, or even breaking into an abandoned building (say if you are homeless) lots of folks have gotten 25 to life for minor non-violent crimes.
    “Try learning a few facts about the 3 Strikes Law, you’d change your mind IF you did some research on it.”

  • twilightmoon

    “lots of folks have gotten 25 to life for minor non-violent crimes.”

    That’s exactly the point of the 3 Strikes Law in California, to put recidivists away for long sentences. If the 2nd or 3rd strike is minor it doesn’t matter as long as you have a serious or violent felony on your record.

    There are a number of factors that drive crime rates up and down in different parts of the country. The facts and figures I’d focus on are those related specifically to California. Look up the rates of murder, rape, and assault during the 1990s from about 1992 to 1998 when the 3 Strikes Law started going into effect. There is a direct relationship between the 2 and it’s dramatic. After about 2000 the effect of the 3 Strikes Law is less noticeable because many of the worst repeat offenders were already serving long sentences, so you won’t see the same kind of data from 2000 to 2009.

    It is therefore very possible that during that period there was a statistically higher percent drop in crime rates in New York vs California, but they would not indicate that the 3 Strikes Law was not working, only that after it had its greatest impact it no longer continued to drive crime down at the same rate.

    Go back from 1992 and compare rates of crime in New York vs California up to about 2000 and see if they are really what you say. If you can find data during that period that suggests crime rates in New York dropped faster than in California, specifically violent and serious crimes I’d definitely like to see it. I’ve seen data that suggests exactly the opposite and it was fairly dramatic.

    Again, because of the amount of repeat offenders put away for long sentences during the mid to late 90s, you need to look at the data at the time when this shift occurred to get a real idea how effective this law was and is.

    Note that the legislature in California just voted to release about 27,300 inmates. In part to save money, during a budget crisis, but also to deal with a federal court judge ruling related to crowding of prisons.

  • JohnWatkins

    @TM, Still at it? I thought you would have been too busy brandishing an assault weapon at a Town Hall meeting somewhere.
    Here’s a cogent opinion piece from your LA Times. It’s a few years old, but the stats are valid:
    http://articles.latimes.com/2004/mar/07/opinion/op-schiraldi7
    A few money quotes:
    “The decline in violent crime in New York, which doesn’t have a three-strikes law, was 20% greater than in California. Even after eight years, states without a three-strikes measure had an average violent crime rate 30% below California’s.”
    or . . .
    “There are more Californians serving a life sentence under the law for drug possession than for second-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon and rape combined.” [that’s late 2002,BTW]
    or . . .
    “The crime rate has declined in California since 1994, but it would be a big stretch to credit three strikes. Among California’s 12 largest counties, the six most frequent users of the law “struck out” defendants at twice the rate of the lowest. If three strikes was truly a factor in curbing violent crime, these heavy-using counties should have experienced a sharper drop in such crime than the light users. The opposite happened.”
    Common sense that makes sense:
    1.) Removing all judicial discretion is moronic.
    2.) Putting people in jail for 25 to life for petty drug and victimless crimes is moronic, excessively expensive, and definitely counterproductive.
    Is that hard to fathom?
    As you so presciently said, “Try learning a few facts about the 3 Strikes Law, you’d change your mind IF you did some research on it.”
    But then, reason may well be unpalatable to you.

    Here’s a link to the cited research:
    http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/04-03_REP_CAStillStrikingOut_AC.pdf

  • RichardRowe

    Again, Daniel, you show yourself to have a very thin knowledge of politics. Obama’s a fraud and a hustler, and you bought into his schtick. And now that he’s in office and clearly revealed what he’s all about, you are in a deep and obvious state of denial. It’s left you desperately wielding rhetorical tricks that shouldn’t convince anyone, but seem to have convinced you.

    ” Obama spent most of that money BECAUSE of Bush’s failed 8 years of running the country into the ground. ”

    Oh, come on. That goofy stimulus package can’t be justified by the failures of the Bush administration. If anything, Obama’s policies have been more of the same, not a change in a direction.

    Every critical strategic industry, from solar power to space exploration to supercomputers has been essentially glossed over in favor of kickbacks and buyoffs. It’s been an absolute joke.

    Obama is no Steve Jobs. If Obama was Steve Jobs, he’d start with a vision. What is Obama’s vision? I mean beyond that silly yammering about non-specific change and hope. What’s his strategy.

    Tell me, Mr Dilger, what is Obama’s fundamental view of the future of the world and the future of America? What’s his strategy? What’s really most important to him? What’s his strategic priorities for, say, Latin America? Or space exploration? Or the fundamental strategic thrusts for developing our military? Or our public education?

    And by this I don’t mean something so vapid as “Obama wants to spend more money on…” Please, give me something substantive.

    The guy is just a corrupt lil’ hustler from Chicago. Our first third world president, and he’s running a third world administration.. completely with all the cronyism, kickbacks, and corruption one would expect.

    How people who supported Obama can be anything but disappointed and devastated is nothing more than an indication of just how powerful of a force denial can be. Yes, it’s all BECAUSE of Bush, Daniel!

    [Your email “rowe v wade” pretty clearly indicates you prefer non-substantial emotional bullshit over factual discussion. Your series of unsubstantiated name calling sure doesn’t help.

    President Bush (the family failure Bush) came into power with the clear intention to transfer government assets to the ultra rich (mission accomplished: a massive 1.3 trillion(!) “tax relief” that threw the country deeply in debt). He then spent another 4+ and counting trillion invading and occupying Iraq–something he planned to do before becoming president–using 9/11 as a pretense for that massive spending. But Bush didn’t invest in America. He worked to destroy the environment for short term profits, encouraged off shore tax evasion by the rich, and dismantled FEMA so that hundreds died, unnecessarily, when Katrina hit. At his exit, Bush set up massive bailouts for the finance industry to protect them from their own fraud.

    And during Bush’s 8 year term, abortions went up dramatically in the US and Internationally (in contrast to a marked decrease under Clinton) as a result of Bush’s failed abstinence-only policy, a war on the poor, and refusal to leave behind his failed, superstitious, idiot fan base who think they can fix everything by coating it with a suffocating layer of religiousness, just like Iran and the Taliban.

    Obama is spending money on America, to shore up infrastructure, rebuild education, reduce the massive gap between the the privileged rich Bush cared about and the middle class Bush didn’t. Obama cut spending on unnecessary, obsolete Cold War airplanes and fancy new helicopters for the president. More importantly, Obama doesn’t push his religion on Americans, even as you giddy fake-christians accuse him of being both atheist and islamic in one of your many contradictions of basic logic. He also can’t both be Hitler and a Communist.

    Freepers like you didn’t demonstrate when America became a debtor nation spending wildly under Reagan and Bush, weren’t worried about a $4 trillion dollar, illegitimate war that distracted the US from catching bin Laden, actively supported America’s new status as a war crimes/torture state, and ignored the Bush Bailouts and the Bush Abortions. You have absolutely no platform: your recklessly spending faux-conservativism and hypocritical hyper-morality just make you out to be the moron party.

    Let’s see something out of you beyond racism, ignorance, frothy-mouthed violence and gun brandishing. If that’s all you got, then just shut the hell up. – Dan ]

  • RichardRowe

    Mr. Dilger,

    Please, can you really do no better than that? I mean, I’m sitting here wondering if you’re attempting to make a mockery of yourself in jest.

    Your response is an epic fail for three reasons: I am not a a “freeper”, nor a Bush supporter, nor a Christian. Then again, even if I was, it really doesn’t change the fact that for all your ignorance and frothy-mouthed ranting, you were absolutely unable to tell me what Obama’s strategy and vision were.

    I’m not surprised. Because you can’t. No Obama supporter can. Because there is no Obama vision or strategy.

    Obama will lead us to a $9 trillion debt, by the White House’s own estimates.

    Obama’s foreign policy indicates no substantial change in direction from the Bush administration on any major point. Well, other than throwing more personnel into Afghanistan. And, of course, no one in the Obama administration is able to even articulate what our goal is there.

    Obama’s health care plan is characterized by a $50 billion scheme to create a sick, John Poindexter-TIA-DARPA database designed to violate the privacy of every American. The rest of it is a series of invasions by the government into the health-care industry designed as nothing more than a means of creating leverage of squeezing political “donations” (in the third world these are called bribes) out of various groups and corporations. Nothing more.

    And yet nothing in Obama’s plan deals with the most basic concepts of economics! If you want to reduce the cost of health care, what are the first two things you do? Increase supply and reduce demand. If you’re not training more doctors and nurses, if you’re not providing more facilities, if you’re not engaged in an aggressive program of public education to move more people towards healthy lifestyles, YOU WILL NOT REDUCE THE COST OF HEALTH CARE. The whole thing is left being nothing more than a “rob Peter to pay Paul” kind of scheme, something the Democrats are known for.

    Of course, considering the sheer disgusting rot, poverty, murderous crime sprees, filthy parks, dilapidated schools, and general filth and misery that dominates in the democrat controlled major cities of this country, it’s no real surprise.

    Obama’s stimulus package of “roads and bridges” is nothing more than a huge subsidy to the oil companies and an attempt to further encourage suburban sprawl. An electric-powered high-speed rail network connecting our major urban centers, designed to carry all the freight that’s no being carried around the country by smelly, slow diesel trucks, would have been a much better investment for our economy, and for the environment. And could have easily been built as part of the stimulus plan.

    The stimulus plan ended up giving 10x more to the oil companies than to solar power industry. Now, China is moving ahead of us in solar power. Also, China is moving ahead of us in radio astronomy. This administration’s anti-science posture is so worrisome that European experts are guessing India will soon surpass us in space.

    Under Bush, the US regained a vast lead in supercomputers after recovering from the negligence of that industry during the Clinton years. Obama doesn’t even seem to know the word “supercomputer.”

    Obama could have easily provided all the funds in the stimulus package to put us in a vast lead in solar, rail transportation, high performance computing, and so many other areas. Instead, he chose to create a bunch of disgusting grants designed to be snapped up by various special interests and community organizers who have already devastated our inner cities with their scams.

    And it’s all so obvious. Mostly, it’s obvious in your reply. I asked you what Obama’s strategy was. You panicked and called me “frothy-mouthed.” Geez, guy.. read up on “projection.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

  • whatever

    Hey.
    I just saw the news, and I my mind fell on your article. Democrats may fail with the same arguments. See http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091002/ap_on_re_us/us_medicare_seniors