Why Huckabee?

Peggy Noonan has a take on the “why” of the Hucker’s win:

From the mail I have received the past month after criticizing him in this space, I would say his great power, the thing really pushing his supporters, is that they believe that what ails America and threatens its continued existence is not economic collapse or jihad, it is our culture.

We’ll get back to this.

They have been bruised and offended by the rigid, almost militant secularism and multiculturalism of the public schools; they reject those schools’ squalor, in all senses of the word. They believe in God and family and America. They are populist: They don’t admire billionaire CEOs, they admire husbands with two jobs who hold the family together for the sake of the kids; they don’t need to see the triumph of supply-side thinking, they want to see that suffering woman down the street get the help she needs.

Much has been written about Huckabee’s stealth liberalism, by much better observers than I. 

But the Huckabee’s great strength – “it’s the home, family, schools and culture, stupid!” – is also the deepest pitfall.  It points out an inward-facing, insular coccooning instinct that is the flip side of the post-cold-war euphoria that gave us Bill Clinton.  In 1992, the electorate said “History is over; let’s talk about underwear!”.  Today, it’s “the world is a dangerous place, here and abroad; I wanna focus on “here””.  It’s a current that melds nicely with Huckabee’s propensity to bury problems in money, and his foreign policy naivete.

They believe that Mr. Huckabee, the minister who speaks their language, shares, down to the bone, their anxieties, concerns and beliefs.

Sorta like that other candidate from Little Rock did. 

But history didn’t stop in 1992, and you can’t wish it away today.

83 thoughts on “Why Huckabee?

  1. OK Terry

    Lets start with spending. Do you agree that the U.S. spends more than 15% of GDP and more than $6000 per capita on health care, every other industrialized economy spends less than 10% or around $3000 per capita? Is there any other possible conclusion than that the U.S. spends vastly more on health care than other countries?

  2. Collen

    All data comes from the OECD Health Data Reports 2005. You can download the data tables for 2007 in Excel here:
    http://www.oecd.org/document/16/0,3343,en_2649_34631_2085200_1_1_1_1,00.html

    Why would I break it down by racial categories? Shouldn’t the U.S. Health Care system be judged on how it provides care to all Americans? Why do you think black women have higher infant mortality rates?

    I always thought equal care at a cheaper price is BETTER.

  3. Terry:

    OK Now that we have established that the U.S. costs vastly more than its major competitors, lets compare quality and quantity of care.

    Certainly other countries, provide health care to a great percentage of their population. 47 million Americans have no regular access to health care. Certainly our system covers a smaller percentage of our population. Agreed?

  4. Lileks wrote:

    “[H]e prefers America as a place to have a career, because . . . you can actually get a job because the economy is 10X more dynamic.”

    Your brother-in-laws perceptions are no more accurate than yours. A 25-54 year old adult in France is more likely to have a job than an American of the same age group.
    krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/07/another-jobs-picture-europe-vs-us

  5. RickDFL said:

    “You are getting incoherent.”
    “Are you insane?”

    That is rich coming from you, RickDFL.

    RickDFL also said:

    “because I am ignorant”

    The most accurate thing you’ve stated in the thread.

  6. RickDFL said: “Why would I break it down by racial categories?”
    Because if there is a certain category of person with a higher than average rate of infant mortality, and that demographic doesn’t exist to the same extent in another country, it would skew the infant mortality rate…right?! You look up the reason for higher black infant mortality rates. Please.

    And here’s Rick’s talking-points-cliche-phrase of the thread: “47 million Americans have no regular access to health care.”. What the hell does that mean? That they can’t go to a doctor-not allowed-turned away? That they decide not to go to a doctor? I do that because I don’t need to go for every little thing that comes up-the way people used to do. How many here over 40 yrs old or so went to the doctor constantly as a kid? Are you taking into account all the illegal aliens that supposedly can’t get health care in your bogus 47 million number?

    And then you argue against Lileks who must know his own brother-in-law and his circumstances better than you…and the brother-in-law who, in turn, should be a far better expert on France than you are! Amazing. But par for the course with a leftist. Don’t let reality get in the way.

  7. Are you through debating the issue with yourself, RickDFL?
    I didn’t intend for the Zimbabwe remark to imply anything about race. I meant that if cheap health care was the goal (as determined by GDP/per capita) we could have cheap health care, like Zimbabwe, tomorrow. Funny you would think it’s a racial thing. Shows where your obsessions lie, I guess.
    I have an excellent health care package that costs my employer and myself less than 10% of GTP (Gross Terry Product). While some provision must be made for those for without means to afford health care, if you want to reform health care in the US you have to convince me — and tens of millions like me — that your new system will be as cheap as, and provide comparable care for, myself & loved ones compared to what I’m getting now.
    If the goal is to provide health care to those that have none, want coverage, can’t afford it, and are American citizens or legal permanent residents, how many people are we talking about here? How old are they? Why is that they cannot afford insurance?
    The RickDFL’s of the world have one answer to every question: state control of resources.

  8. Terry said:
    “Are you through debating the issue with yourself, RickDFL?”
    No I am debating the racial issue with Colleen, who brought it up.

    “have an excellent health care package that costs my employer and myself less than 10% of GTP (Gross Terry Product).”
    Now add in the cost of Medicare taxes, Medicaid taxes, all public employee health care, all veterans health care, plus your co-pays, deductibles, and drug costs. If you are an average American it closes in on about 16%.

    “that your new system will be as cheap as, and provide comparable care for, myself & loved ones compared to what I’m getting now.”
    That is what I am trying to do. GDP and per capita comparisons establish that other health care models can deliver care at far less cost. Sure they could be like Zimbabwe and just not deliver much care, so lets start comparing quality and quantity of care. First off, France ect. cover 100% of their populations, while the U.S. is stuck in the mid 80%. So automatically about 15% of the U.S. population does a lot better. Plus French fathers know their families will always be able to see a doctor, you don’t.
    But what about care for the rest of the U.S.? Well how do you want to compare quality of care. I listed a bunch of statistics where our outcomes are worse than the French. What statistics or evidence do you have that the U.S. care is better?

    “The RickDFL’s of the world have one answer to every question: state control of resources.”
    Actually in the French systems most hospitals and clinics are private businesses. In addition private health insurance businesses sell policies for supplemental health care. The government just provides a basic heath insurance plan for all citizens. The French actually send less tax money on health care per person than the U.S.
    For a good background start here:
    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_health_of_nations

  9. RickDFL said:

    “That may be the most interesting thing you ever posted at SITD.”

    I know you have a passionate interest in the words you write, RickDFL, and that’s why I presented them back to you. You are, however, lonely in that regard.

  10. Colleen:

    “a certain category of person with a higher than average rate of infant mortality” would only skew the results, if the higher rate were the result something about that category and not the result of how the health care system treated them. It is a problem for our health care system that black people have high infant mortality mostly because too many are poor and the poor get bad health care.

    “You look up the reason for higher black infant mortality rates. Please.”
    No thanks, I am dying to see where you got your research.

    If you, Lileks, or his brother-in-law want to dispute the accuracy of the statistic I cited on French employment rates for 25-54 years olds, have it.

  11. Here ya go Rick (I guess you’re too lazy to do it yourself):

    http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/2007/r070502.htm

    Here’s one more (there’re LOTS out there):

    http://www.prb.org/Articles/2007/ColorDivideinInfantMortality.aspx

    Both links come from lefty sources so you can’t accuse me of…something…God knows what. And btw, “race” was brought up because infant mortality was brought up. Period.

    Oh, and are the French employment rates (if true) what they are because they can’t fire a damn one of them?

  12. And here’s an other interesting little bit:

    Employment rates in 2005 (people between 16 and 64 actually working and paying taxes)

    Denmark : 75.9%
    Netherlands : 73.2%
    Sweden : 72.5%
    UK : 71.7%
    Austria : 68.6%
    Cyprus : 68.5%
    Finland : 68.4%
    Ireland : 67.6%
    Portugal : 67.5%
    Slovenia : 66%
    Germany : 65.4%
    Czech Republic : 64.8%
    Estonia : 64.4%
    Luxembourg : 63.6%
    Latvia : 63.3%
    Spain : 63.3%
    France : 63.1%
    Lithuania : 62.6%
    Belgium : 61.1%
    Greece : 60.1%
    Slovakia : 57.7%
    Italy : 57.6%
    Romania : 57.6%
    Hungary : 56.9%
    Bulgaria : 55.8%
    Malta : 53.9%
    Poland : 52.8%
    ———————–
    Iceland : 83.8% (!)
    Norway : 74.8%
    Switzerland : 77.2%
    Croatia : 55%
    Turkey : 46% (!)
    USA : 71.2% (in 2004)
    Japan : 68.7% (in 2004)

    Notice France’s position? Notice the US numbers? Hmm.

  13. Colleen:

    Congratulations you actually cited a fact. Not one related to African-Americans and infant mortality, but it is a fact.

    So France has a higher employment rate for 25-54 year olds, but a lower rate for 16-64 year olds. So the U.S. advantage must lie in the 16-24 and 54-64 year old ranges. What could explain that? Well college education is much cheaper in France, so fewer students work and French workers retire earlier because they have a better pension system. Dedicated students and early retirement, not exactly a socialist hell.

  14. Colleen:
    Congrats you cited some evidence.

    If France has a higher employment rate for 25-54 year olds, but a lower rate for 16-64 year olds, the difference must lie in the 16-24 and/or 55-64 year old categories. What would cause the difference. Well France has cheaper college education, so fewer students need to work and better pensions, so people retire earlier. Sounds like a real socialist hellhole.

  15. Colleen:

    Good work on the infant mortality data. From your second source:
    “Infant mortality is associated with a variety of factors that include socioeconomic status, mother’s age, nutrition, birth weight, and lack of prenatal care. Recent increases in black infant mortality also coincide with significant cuts in programs designed to assist the poor and an erosion of benefits in jobs held by many poverty-level workers.”

    Basically, blacks have a higher infant mortality rate because the are more likely to be poor and poor people in the U.S. get bad health care. Universal health care would go a long way towards eliminating the higher infant mortality rate for blacks.

  16. Criminy! Did you read all all of the articles or just cherry-pick the parts you like? It actually said that Hispanics are every bit as “poor” yet do not have the same mortality rates. I have read articles about middle class black women who have the same rates and they are not POOR.

    Ya know…you really wonder how so many pioneer women managed without an ob-gyn visit, monthly check-ups, no prenatal vitamins, and do-it-yourself-with-help-from-husband delivery.

    France is cheaper, France is better, France, France, France. Say, Rick…why are you living here instead of France? It sounds like absolute heaven on earth.

  17. “Universal health care would go a long way towards eliminating the higher infant mortality rate for blacks”
    Poor people of all races have a lot of problems taking care of themselves & their loved ones. Having their healthcare be free is just one of them. correlation (poor people don’t have health insurance and have higher rates of infant mortality) is not causation (the first cause of the higher rate of infant mortality in poor families is due to this lack of insurance).

    BTW, I’ve studied the French system of state-controlled healthcare a bit.
    1) Until 2000, the French system of universal coverage required patient co-pays by everyone. These co-pays were high compared to most American plans (30% for a physician visit). Since 2000, the poorest 10% of the French have their co-pays picked up by the French gov’t.
    2) The French system is dynamic. Although since WW2 the government there has always offered universal access to health care, the services it provides and the means of providing them have had to be fixed every so often. It is not an example of a tried and true model that has been underway for 50 years.

    WHO says the French are the new model for universal coverage. Some people consider this the final word on endorsements; I do not. International institutions tend not to take the character and internal dynamics of a nation into account when they pass their judgments.

    The political evolution and character of the US is far different than virtually all other industrialized nations. Though both the United States and modern France have their roots in the enlightenment, they are very different countries.
    -France has folloed a strong central state model since the the days of the Sun King. The United States is constitutionally a federation.
    -Medical schools in France are state run institutions. The state decides how many doctors they can afford to provide based on political considerations.
    -France has not embraced multiculturalism the way the US and, say, Britain and Canada have. Any politically determined health care system in the US will be under pressure from the multiculturalists in a way that the French system is not.
    -In France physicians are unionized and negotiate en bloc with the government for their share of the money pie. Currently there are problems between the physicians union and the government. I don’t know how serious the problems really are — these are the French, after all — but I think Americans would react with shock at the idea that there could be physicians strike.
    -France does not have the immigration problem that the US does. It seems unlikely that theAmerican taxpayer will be willing to foot the bill for covering the 10% to 20% of Mexicans that are residing here illegally.

    Overall the French system, at the point of delivery, looks something like a streamlined version of medicare & medicaid. It’s impossible that it could be transplanted whole into the US system, so the question is whether it would result in an improvement of the current mixed US system of private & publicly funded health care.

  18. Colleen:
    1. The CDC report you cite says white non-hispanic women have a 5.66 infant mortality rate which is still higher than the French rate of 3.6 in 2005. So even if you exclude all blacks, the French health system still beats the U.S. hands down.
    2. Poverty and lack of health care coverage is not the only cause of higher rates of African-American infant mortality. So what, clearly providing health care would help improve the situation.
    3. “you really wonder how so many pioneer women managed” They didn’t manage. There children died in droves. As recently as 1960 the infant mortality rate was more than 22.
    4. This is my home. I love my country. I just want their health care system and some of their labor laws. I always loved America because we stole great ideas from anywhere we found them and made them our own.

  19. “I always loved America because we stole great ideas from anywhere we found them and made them our own.”

    We wisely rejected socialism and explicitly rejected labor-class representative political parties (except for the DFL).

  20. Terry:

    Since none of your objections rest on an inferior quality of care in France, you seem to concede my main points. So let me address your concerns about whether the model would work here in America.

    “It is not an example of a tried and true model that has been underway for 50 years.”
    Of course they have tinkered with it. But the basic model has been in place for 50 plus years. The changes in their system have been no more dramatic than the changes is ours.
    “The United States is constitutionally a federation”
    So what. I do not think Alabama will secede if we provide universal health care.
    “Medical schools in France are state run institutions”.
    Ever drive by the U of M and see the Medical School? Doctor levels are set by the AMA (and mostly kept too low to keep doctor salaries high)
    “Any politically determined health care system in the US will be under pressure from the multiculturalists in a way that the French system is not.”
    Huh and so what.
    “I think Americans would react with shock at the idea that there could be physicians strike”
    Health care workers in the U.S., including doctors, in both public and private hospitals can an unionize and strike. I am sure we can manage.
    “France does not have the immigration problem that the US does”
    Google French Riots. In many ways we have a much better handle on our immigration issues.
    “It seems unlikely that the American taxpayer will be willing to foot the bill for covering the 10% to 20% of Mexicans that are residing here illegally”
    So don’t foot the bill. Make them pay payroll taxes, premiums, co-pays, and sales taxes to fund it like the rest of us. In many ways a universal system will be better able to capture revenue from that population.

    “It’s impossible that it could be transplanted whole into the US system,”
    So tweak it and get something that works. You want a more Federal model, model Canada. You want health insurance funds outside of the government, model Germany. You want to save tons of money, model the U.K.

  21. RickDFL-
    Once again we get we get the ‘but we haven’t tried this exact collectivist vision yet’ mantra.
    Your response to every one of my reasons that the French system may not work in the US amounts to ‘so what’?

    Federalism issues matter because the federal government cannot just dictate to states what will happen withing their borders. In the US model, federal programs are usually delegated to the states (medicaid, for example). State & local politicians feel that must be involved in actually spending the money. You can’t just wave this away. This is not a dictatorship.

    The Basic model that has been in effect in France for a half century is government subsidized healthcare, as it has been in the US. In France the government takes a much greater role in the health care industry, as they do in every other industry. This is not how we do we things in the US. Once again, France and the United States are different countries.

    You also dismiss the problem of multiculturalism. In the US (and, I presume, in France) physicians routinely top the charts on IQ-by-profession. In the US medical schools are highly selective, as they are in France. If the government here began to take a role in deciding who does and does not get into and graduate from med school, the bureaucracy in charge admissions will be under incredible pressure to admit x number of each racial or ethnic group. Those who oppose this will be labeled racists. CF American law schools if you like.

    Unionization is more of a problem than you suggest. Unions here negotiate with their employer. In France they negotiate with the State. The problem is real, and once again you simply dismiss it.

    You obviously intend that illegal immigrants should be covered under any proposed France-like plan. Except in France they aren’t — France does not tolerate a significant number of their population being illegal immigrants. They may treat them, but then they deport them. Another difficult problem you dismiss with the wave of a hand.

    So tweak it and get something that works.

    Before you tweak it, you have to have it in place. Before you have it in place, you need to remove a system that works for most people of the time. You obviously feel that the small percentage of Americans that do not have easy access to health care has reached a crisis point. I do not.

  22. Terry:

    Federalism: The largest health care program in America is Medicare, a – wait for it – fully Federal program. Of course, any universal health care plan will reflect Federal / State relations, but that is no more a total barrier, than state militias prevented a Federal Army.

    State Control: “In France the government takes a much greater role in the health care industry” Kind of but not really, 50% of U.S. spending in public compared to 80% or so in France. In both countries the State heavily regulates medical practice. We are talking a difference in degree not kind.

    Affirmative Action: In case you missed it U.S. medical schools both private and public are already “under incredible pressure to admit x number of each racial or ethnic group”. Universal health care would only marginally change the situation.

    Unions: “Unions here negotiate with their employer. In France they negotiate with the State” You are wrong. In France and the U.S. they negotiate with their employer, which is sometimes the State. Ever heard of AFSCME? SEIU is the largest health care union in America and deals with both public and private employers. Besides, adopting the French model would not eliminate private health care employers only some kinds of health care insurers.

    Immigration: I hate to tell you this, but undocumented workers in America are currently getting health care from both public and private plans. How our health care system deals with that is an important part of our immigration debate. But we will have that problem if we keep our current system or adopt a French style model.

    “You obviously feel that the small percentage of Americans that do not have easy access to health care has reached a crisis point. I do not.”
    15% is not a small amount and you are just one lost job away from joining them, but lets just pretend everyone was covered. We are still in a cost crisis. The average American is paying about $3000 a year too much for health care. 25-50% on the dollars we spend on health care are wasted. I don’t want universal health care because I am charitable, I want it because I am greedy. Reform means tax cuts and/or pay raises for all.

  23. “15% is not a small amount and you are just one lost job away from joining them”
    Wrong on both counts.
    Where did you get that 15% number? Does it includes illegals? Does it include people who can afford health insurance but choose not to? Does it include people who have medicaid available to them but choose not to apply for it? Where is the crisis that has so many people demanding universal health care that the state has no choice but to listen?
    It wasn’t there in ’93 and it’s not there now.

    I think that, in this case as in many others, you simply found a stat you liked from a politically friendly source and begun to use it. You do seem to think that a Paul Krugman column is a citable source, after all.

  24. Terry: From the Bush Admin –
    aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/05/uninsured-cps/index.htm
    “According to the Census Bureau’s 2005 Current Population Survey (CPS), there were 45.8 million uninsured individuals in 2004, or 15.7% of the civilian non-institutionalized population.”

    But like I said, lets pretend everyone is covered. Don’t you want your $3000?

    BTW Nobody has challenged that facts about employment rates in the Krugman piece.

  25. “According to the Census Bureau’s 2005 Current Population Survey (CPS), there were 45.8 million uninsured individuals in 2004, or 15.7% of the civilian non-institutionalized population.”

    That doesn’t any of my questions about who these people without healthcare are. You don’t seem to care, which makes any policy prescription you make based on the number highly suspect.

    “But like I said, lets pretend everyone is covered. Don’t you want your $3000?”

    Ha! I suppose I’ll see that when I’m done collecting the $300,000 + interest I’ll get back from Social Security when I retire.

    “BTW Nobody has challenged that facts about employment rates in the Krugman piece.”

    Krugman is poison. I didn’t say that Krugman was wrong, but that you use arguments & stat’s from biased sources. See Okrent’s parting shot at him, if you like.
    I’m disappointed more than angry with the fellow. He’s a smart guy, he writes non-biased, very good economics textbooks (from what I’ve heard). He could have used his column to illuminate his readers about the way his specialty — macro-economics — affects the nation and world in ways they may not be aware of. Instead he’s got a case BDS that shows him up as being weak in important areas, not to say a fool.
    I wouldn’t use a stat from a Krugman column anymore than I would from a Coulter column. If I had to use the number, and I believed it was true, I would verify with a less biased source & use that source.

  26. Look, RickDFL-
    I’m not against health care reform. Changes on the margin are certainly desirable and politically possible. I’m thinking of things like portability of health insurance, and something similar to unemployment insurance that would eliminate the double-whammy many people face when they are between jobs.
    I believe the ‘real’ number of the uninsured we should be worried about includes those people who honestly want health coverage and can’t afford it, or minors whose parents cannot or will not see to their health care needs. I bet that number is about ten million, about 3% of the US population.
    If the US health care system works for 97% of the population, large scale reform is unwise. The system is very complex, with a lot of actors with different goals. It would possible, even likely that that 97% number would grow smaller.

  27. Thanks for linking to http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/05/uninsured-cps/index.htm#citizenship
    RickDFL.
    The doc explicitly states that 21% of the uninsured are non-citizens. We can scratch them off the list immediately. Although someone should pay for their health care — the country to which they hold citizenship, the person who brought them to the US, their employer — the taxpayers should not foot the bill for their health care. Taxpayers are not an infinite supply of wealth. The population of Mexico is around 110 million. There are between 10 and 20 million Mexicans in the United States illegally. Good luck convincing the taxpayer he has to pay for the health care costs of a large percentage of the nation of Mexico!

    Here’s the section on the uninsured by work status:

    The Uninsured by Work Status

    The vast majority of the uninsured are working individuals or the children of those who work.(8) In 2004, almost half of the uninsured (46%) worked full time, and another 28% worked part time or for part of the year. Many of the uninsured worked for firms that did not offer coverage, or if their employers offered coverage, they either were not eligible or did not accept the offer. Based on data from the 2001 February Supplement to the CPS matched with the 2001 March Supplement to the CPS, 18 million workers were not offered coverage and another 6 million were not eligible for coverage that their firm offered, representing 54% of the uninsured.(9) In addition, there are 6.9 million workers and dependents that have declined employer coverage and remain uninsured (19% of the uninsured).(10) These individuals are most likely to decline employer coverage because it was too costly: 3.8 million, or 52% said coverage was too expensive. The February-March match file shows another 2.9 million dependents who live with a family member covered by employer sponsored insurance. While there are no follow-up questions on the February CPS to determine why dependents are uninsured, one can surmise that many of those dependents could have been insured under the covered worker’s employer plan but the worker found it unaffordable to purchase family coverage.(11)

    Part-time workers comprise a disproportionately large percentage of the uninsured because employers often do not offer coverage to part-time workers and because part-time income may make offered insurance less affordable. The median family income of part-time workers is about $13,000 less than the median family income of full-time workers, $63,500 vs. $50,300.

    It looks like we do not have systemic problem with people who have no access to health insurance. Instead we have several subgroups that can be defined by immigration and employment/financial status. Responding to the needs of these kinds of groups is what the bureaucratic welfare state does best because it reduces human beings to paperwork.
    The bureaucratic state has an unfortunate history when it tries to regulate entire industries, however. Oh well, onward & upward! Excelsior!

  28. Terry wrote:
    “I bet that number is about ten million, about 3% of the US population”

    As I said twice before, universal coverage is only an incidental benefit of the French system. The real benefit and the one you keep ignoring is cost.

    Lets put it in market terms you might understand better.
    You own USA Inc. with 100 employees and 10 million in total revenue. Eagle Insurance will cover 97 of your employees for 1.5 million. Frog Insurance will cover all of your employees for 1 million. Quality of care is exactly the same. Which plan would you choose?

    That is why I do not agree that “the US health care system works for 97% of the population”. A plan that costs more than it should is not a plan that works. Personally I have one of the best plans in MN, but it does not work for me. Like every other American I am being grossly overcharged to the tune of 5% of my GDP or $3000 per year. I want my money back. Don’t you?

  29. RickDFL said:

    “A plan that costs more than it should is not a plan that works”

    Really now? Let us all file that away for future reference.

  30. Terry wrote:
    “The bureaucratic state has an unfortunate history when it tries to regulate entire industries”

    Just because it needs to be reiterated, there is zero evidence that this is true for health care. Public universal health care programs around the world provide better care to more people for lower cost that the U.S.

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