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When It Cares, the US Government Is Extremely Efficient
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As the COVID-19 pandemic has made painfully clear, our health care system is a disaster; 12% of Americans are uninsured and 21% are underinsured. Many counties have zero or just one health care plan on offer through their local Affordable Care Act marketplace, so there is no price competition whatsoever. Due to the lack of competition, and price gouging, by for-profit insurers, the average family of four who buys insurance through Obamacare pays a whopping \$25,000 a year in premiums and deductibles-more than a third of their income after taxes.

More than 18,000 Americans die annually due to lack of medical insurance.

This is very sad, especially for them and their families. But nothing can be done about it. Lame as it is, the Affordable Care Act is as good as it gets — until the Republicans get back in charge, when they will try to get rid of it again. Political dysfunction, amirite?

When they care about something, however, the U.S. government can be incredibly efficient.

The U.S. government really cares about war.

Just two days after Russia invaded, President Joe Biden signed a memo authorizing the transfer of \$350 million of weapons to Ukraine. Within three weeks, almost all the anti-tank weapons, kamikaze drones and other war materiel had arrived in Ukraine. That’s less time than it takes first-class mail to get to some places within the United States.

If you are sick and uninsured, consider a move to Kyiv. As we saw in Afghanistan, U.S. weapons have a habit of disappearing and being sold for profit in war zones. If you still have enough energy and a little luck, you might be able to pilfer one of those American-made radar systems or a few boxes of grenade launchers to finance your chemotherapy. Even if not, Ukraine offers something the United States probably never will: a universal health care system.

Out-of-control college tuition costs have pushed 9 million young borrowers and their families into default on \$124 billion in student loans. Eighty percent of these young men and women came from families with total incomes under \$40,000. So, they’re not deadbeats; they’re poor. The burden of student loan debt hobbles America’s best and brightest just as they are starting out their adult lives. They defer or never purchase homes and cars and are unable to save for retirement. This hurts the real estate, automobile and durable-goods businesses and turns many talented people into future welfare recipients.

This is highly unfortunate, especially for them and their families. But nothing can be done about it. Lame as it was, Biden’s campaign promise to cancel \$10,000 in student loan debt was as good as could be hoped for. And he never followed through. Responding to pressure from Republicans and right-wing Democrats, Biden’s latest federal budget for 2022 doesn’t contain any provisions for student loan forgiveness. They said they were too worried about the deficit.

ORDER IT NOW

Republicans and right-wing Democrats, on the other hand, only worry about the deficit sometimes. Liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans and every other strain of American House representative and senator quickly approved an additional \$13.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine less than a month after the first shipment of cash. There was strong bipartisan support for the measure, which was immediately signed into law by Biden. Yay, America!

So don’t despair if you are broke, defaulting on your student loans and unable to escape poverty because even under bankruptcy you can’t get rid of student debt. Scrape up whatever money you still have and hop a plane to Ukraine. Even for non-Ukrainian citizens, the total cost of tuition, housing, food, books and other fees at colleges and universities in Ukraine rarely exceed \$4,000 a year — and they’re usually cheaper. Alternatively, you can try to pass yourself off as Ukrainian at Texas A&M or Hampton University in Virginia, both of which now offer free room, board and tuition to Ukrainian nationals. Americans, of course, need not apply.

One out of six American children, 12 million total, officially live in poverty. Neither political party seems much to care, and child poverty has not been a major campaign issue in decades. So, the problem continues to worsen.

This is a total bummer, especially for the kids and their families. But nothing can be done about it. Republicans and right-wing Democrats vote against child tax credits, citing the need to balance the budget and concerns that some parents might not use the money to take care of their kids.

But the budget doesn’t always matter. Nor is careful stewardship of public funds always a priority. When the need is great, both parties come together and overlook such trivialities. Biden, with the support of Republicans, liberal Democrats and right-wing Democrats, just announced an additional \$800 million in military aid to Ukraine, bringing the total to more than \$2.5 billion. Who cares if some of that gear winds up in the hands of neo-Nazis? In \$100 bills, the cash would weigh 25 tons.

Those who criticize the United States government as inefficient couldn’t possibly be more mistaken. Congress and the White House are lightning quick and incredibly generous — when it matters.

Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of a new graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.”

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Military, Coronavirus, Health care 
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  1. Voltarde says:

    When It Cares, the US Government Is Extremely Efficient

    The world record for “efficiency” (if you can call it that) was the instantaneous theft–the greatest online hack in world history–by the U.S. Government and its allies when they stole \$300 billion of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves.

    That \$300 billion belonged to the Russian people. The population of the Russian Federation is about 145 million people. So the U.S. Government stole more than \$2,000 from every man, woman, and child in Russia. For a Russian family of four, that’s \$8,000.

    Maybe \$2,000 isn’t a lot to some people. To some, \$2,000 could pay for needed house repairs, farming equipment, incidental medical expenses or co-pays, or some needed education or training. For a family of four, \$8,000 could be enough to buy a decent used car.

    So in one fell swoop the U.S. Government committed 145 million crimes against the entire population of a country involved in a conflict on the other side of the world that has nothing to do with America.

    Finally, is the use of any of that stolen \$300 billion ever going to be audited? Who controls it? Where will it end up? In some insider’s bank account in the Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, or Tel Aviv? Your guess is a good as mine.

    • Agree: Biff
    • Replies: @meamjojo
  2. TG says:

    Kudos. This time, well said.

    Another example: during the 2008 financial crisis, Obama efficiently bailed out the big banks and wealthy financial CEO’s with trillions of dollars. He was also suppose to provide mortgage relief of maybe \$80 billion or so (i.e. pocket change) to middle-class homeowners – but somehow the government just couldn’t manage to spend the money, it was too hard. Gotta have your priorities, right?

    • Replies: @Rex Little
  3. I’m afraid I agree with most of the article and can’t really comfort myself that it is undermined by apparently dodgy figures. Why \$13.6 billion in legislated aid to Ukraine but only total \$2.5 billion further down?

  4. meamjojo says:
    @Voltarde

    Hopefully, that money will be put to use rebuilding Ukraine and then Russia will make up the difference from their oil/gas revenues over time, IF they want to be allowed back into the world markets.

    Or they can just sit and fester in their own dung.

    • Disagree: Legba
    • Replies: @Voltarde
  5. meamjojo says:

    I honestly do not know how you manage to get up in the morning and look in the mirror everyday, Rall. Every article you write about ANYTHING is depressing as all hell. I hope you don’t beat your wife and kids.

  6. Samoan says:

    “Right-wing Democrats”

    Didn’t you mean just Democrats?

  7. Bro43rd says:

    Another bs article telling us it’s all the Rs & rightwing Ds fault the shape we’re in. If only we could elect the correct people to run things and all will be peachy. Hogwash! The time has come to do away with big gov & their monopoly of initiation of force. The problems we face are due to big govs interference, what makes one think big gov can solve them.

    It is the paradox of democracy.

    • Replies: @Roger
  8. Uh oh, comrade Ted does not worship The Invisible Hand. It is a great disgrace. Everyone knows the solution to our problems is to keep making the government so small and weak that it cannot protect the citizens from the power and money addicts whose appetite for more is insatiable. Because the rich are our friends and if they want us out in the fields chopping their cotton a little faster, it’s where we belong!

  9. SafeNow says:


    Fish & Chips, in England. Now imagine a fish sandwich in the U.S. Different countries do different things well.

  10. The so-called ACA is far worse than socialized medicine, and it has turned the remnants of our free-market system from barely affordable to completely unaffordable. For this we can thank Obama and our rules in the Pharma and Insurance sectors.

  11. Voltarde says:
    @meamjojo

    Hopefully, that money will be put to use rebuilding Ukraine

    You are entitled to your opinion. You are not entitled to force your opinion on others.

    You want to steal money from a Russian bank? Then get on a plane and fly to Russia and try to rob a bank yourself. Ditto with “rebuilding Ukraine”: fly over to the Ukraine and use your own money. You have no business involving the Government of the United States in your thievery and forcing anyone else to pay for your “rebuilding”.

    Have you ever heard of the concept of “precedent”? Ever heard of the Constitution of the United States? America’s founders never, ever contemplated America’s foreign policy becoming what it has become: a whore that is pimped out to whichever foreign government pays the highest bribes to America’s corrupt political class.

    Finally, when it comes to “dung”, openly defecating on the streets is a current practice in some of America’s most beautiful cities. I doubt that it is tolerated in Russia.

    • Replies: @meamjojo
  12. Out-of-control college tuition costs have pushed 9 million young borrowers and their families into default on \$124 billion in student loans.

    That gives an average debt of \$14,000.00 (rounded up). Much less than a new car loan.

    The burden of student loan debt hobbles America’s best and brightest just as they are starting out their adult lives

    Doubtful they are the best and brightest. If they had been they would have gotten a degree in something other than “Feminist African Novels of the 18th Century”.

    But nothing can be done about it. Lame as it was, Biden’s campaign promise to cancel \$10,000 in student loan debt was as good as could be hoped for.

    Wiping out 71% of the average amount of debt is more than nothing.

    Ok, here is my plan for universal health care. Any person in the US who does not have a natural born US citizen as a paternal great grandfather shall be taxed at 50% of their income. This money will go to Social Security and Medicare for all. The people so taxed will be forever prohibited from drawing any benefit from either program. Any money remitted overseas shall be taxed at 50% and the money put into the Social Security fund. Let immigrants and their children pay to support traditional Americans. We get no other benefit from them.

    • Replies: @Roger
  13. anon[973] • Disclaimer says:

    Bush shared 2 mutullay comtradicting informations with American public – Saddam would attack anytime and blow plants ,hospiatls,disrupt commerce and powergrid . It powerful nuke can raise mushroom cloud over the cities .and attack neighbors .
    Then the moron in chef ridiculed thsoe who warned of the bodybags ,chaos,and insuregncy and American lives being put in the harm’s way .His minions promiesed cakewalk and surrender because of low morale and rickety condition of the military.
    That uncouth bought and corrupt idiot would keep on articulating 2 internally inconsistent thoughts for more than a year.

  14. alma123 says:

    Americans, and all people, need affordable health care, not insurance. All insurance does is reinforce the existing pricing of health care services, which are outrageously expensive. Insurance is not health care, it’s administrative cost. We don’t need more of that. Keep your eyes on the prize.

    • Replies: @inspector general
  15. meamjojo says:
    @Voltarde

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  16. Roger says: • Website
    @Bro43rd

    Why do you think anything would be different with small government and THEIR monopoly of initiation of force? Where do you draw the line between “big” government and “small” government? Can you point out exactly where that line should be drawn? I doubt it and, even if you did, it would only be your opinion against that of billions of others who probably would not agree with your assessment.

    What is the difference between big government and small government anyway, other than size? Only one thing–time. Over time, all other things being equal, small government will become big government. It is the nature of the beast to grow and, unless checked by some outside factor, will do so. It is inevitable.

    You mentioned democracy, which is really nothing more than every person who participates in it attempting to impose their own version of government on everyone else. MY government, right or wrong! Big or small does not matter as long as I control government. Therefore, it is not a problem of big governments interfering but rather one of individuals attempting to control the government.

    Want to diminish big government or do away with it altogether? It’s really quite easy to do. Walk away from the established system and start being totally responsible for yourself. No more support for one party or another. No more slurping at the hog trough. No more subsidies. No more clamor for government to do something. No more looking to the government for “salvation”. No more cashing in on government policies. No more voting for the “right” person…or the left. Voting is nothing more than choosing which hand will hold the club with which you are beaten.

    Want to know what this is called? Self-control, which is far better than any form of “other-control” and which can only be attained by individual effort and understanding. The best place to start on this journey can be summed up in these words of wisdom–“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    • Agree: meamjojo
    • Replies: @Bro43rd
  17. Bro43rd says:
    @Roger

    I am libertarian until everyone is libertarian, then I’m minarchist until everyone is minarchist, then I’m anarchist, the end. Shrink gov down to nothing.

    And yes I practice what I preach, the non-aggression principle (non-biblical version of love your neighbor as yourself imo) is my guiding light.

    Where do you stand? From the tone of your comment it’s not exactly clear to me.

    • Replies: @Roger
  18. Roger says: • Website
    @Chris Mallory

    We were all “immigrants” and young children once. We will all “emigrate”, whether young, old, or somewhere in between.

    What is an American? What is a “traditional” American? How did you arrive at the conclusion that someone is not a “traditional American” unless he can verify at least four generations who have been born and lived on this soil? Why should a maternal great grandfather be disqualified? We can be certain of one thing, though, 100% of native Americans (Indians) and most of African-Americans (blacks) fit your description of “traditional” and will be supported by others whether they have earned that support or not.

    I can deduce numerous things from your argument:

    1. Your own paternal great-grandfather was born in the US.
    2. You assume this gives you some type of privilege which is not extended to others who do not have the same history.
    3. You are ignorant of basic economics and the Law of Unintended Consequence. Tax people beyond what they are willing to pay and they will quit producing.
    4. You are advocating what is otherwise known as a Ponzi scheme. Those who arrive first reap the benefits. Everyone else pays in the hope that they might also get something out of the program. Those who join at the end of the scheme pay in, but never receive anything. In other words, Social Security and Medicare. The only difference between what now exists and what you propose are the ground rules which you want to define to the exclusion of everyone else, especially those you do not approve of.

    I could go on, but this is sufficient.

    The more important question to ask is this. Why should ANYONE be forced to pay ANY amount of money to support someone else, except in extremely limited cases such as child support, physical property or bodily damage, etc.? Why am I entitled to the fruits of another person’s labor because my paternal great-grandfather was born in Michigan soon after the Civil War? Why am I entitled to anything at all which someone else has produced anyway, regardless as to where they were born or when?

    Recently, Paul Craig Roberts (https://www.unz.com/proberts/a-free-person-is-one-who-owns-his-own-labor/) made the assertion that a person is not free unless he owns his own labor. If you do not own your own labor because it is subject to another’s demands, then you are a slave. This world, including America, is filled with slaves. We are all slaves, are not free. and never will be as long as people like Chris Mallory have their way with us.

    • Thanks: meamjojo
    • Replies: @Chris Mallory
  19. @TG

    during the 2008 financial crisis, Obama efficiently bailed out the big banks and wealthy financial CEO’s with trillions of dollars.

    That was Dubya. Obama didn’t take office until 2009.

    • Replies: @TG
  20. @Roger

    We were all “immigrants” and young children once. We will all “emigrate”, whether young, old, or somewhere in between.

    No. My ancestors came as colonists and conquerors, not dirty immigrants. They built this nation. They did not arrive as parasites like all immigrants starting in the 1830’s.

    1. Traditional American- A person with a direct male ancestor listed in the 1790 Census. “For ourselves and our posterity”, not the wretched refuse of teeming shores.

    2. If a nation does not give privileges to it’s members, then it should not exist. I belong to the American nation, immigrant parasites do not.

    3. If they do not produce, we deport them simple as that.

    4. Americans should benefit from our country, immigrants should not.

    If an immigrant wants to live in my country, then they should pay for the privilege.

    Now, remember you are a guest and will have to go back.

    • LOL: meamjojo
    • Replies: @Roger
    , @TG
  21. Roger says: • Website
    @Bro43rd

    I first heard about and immediately embraced libertarianism in 1980, when the Libertarian candidate for President, Ed Clark, received more than 1% of the vote and collected one electoral vote from a renegade elector, Roger McBride. I have been libertarian longer than many of the writers and commenters on this blog have been alive, and have been fine-tuning my philosophical stance over that entire time, including my compliance with the non-aggression principle (NAP).

    I am also deliberately and self-consciously Christian and find no conflict between those two viewpoints. Both teach and preach non-aggressive relations with one’s neighbors, whomever they might be. The difference between them is that one can be non-aggressive toward another person, but it does not follow that love is involved, whereas, if one has love for his neighbor as he loves himself (wishes to be loved), he will not practice aggression. You can be non-aggressive towards others without showing any love toward them, but you cannot show love and still be aggressive.

    As far as your original comment is concerned, you did not mention anything at all about shrinking government down to nothing. Instead, you simply said it is time to abandon BIG government because it was the source of all our problems. From your comment, it was easy to assume that you were in favor of SMALL government. I simply said that we need to govern ourselves and quit relying on someone else to do it for us. Apparently, after some give and take, we find ourselves on the same wavelength.

    Except for one thing. Government, big or small, is not the source of our problems. We are. Societies and cultures are made up of individuals. Government begins with the individual in the form of self-control encompassed within the boundaries of love and the NAP. It is only when individuals refuse to control themselves that governments are formed and abused. It has always been this way and always will be. The observation is simple–either you control yourself voluntarily OR someone else will control you by force and violence.

    Shrinking a flawed system of government to nothing is good, but it will not happen until sufficient numbers of individuals govern their own lives properly, e.g., non-aggression toward and/or love of ones neighbor, no matter who that neighbor is.

    • Replies: @Rex Little
  22. @Roger

    I first heard about and immediately embraced libertarianism in 1980, when the Libertarian candidate for President, Ed Clark, received more than 1% of the vote and collected one electoral vote from a renegade elector, Roger McBride.

    It was actually John Hospers, the 1972 LP candidate, who received the electoral vote from MacBride (that’s how his name is spelled). I know this because 1972 was my first Presidential election, and I voted for Hospers. Had to write him in; the party was brand new and didn’t have ballot access.

    Ed Clark did indeed get a bit over 1% of the vote in 1980–a result which wasn’t topped until 2016–but received no electoral votes. Clark’s running mate, David Koch, spent millions of his own money on the campaign, which accounts for the then-record percentage. In the following seven elections, the LP fell back to around half a percent of the vote.

  23. Roger says: • Website

    Yes, that is correct. My mistake. Thank you for pointing that out.

  24. Roger says: • Website
    @Chris Mallory

    We were all “immigrants” and young children once. We will all “emigrate”, whether young, old, or somewhere in between.

    This was an oblique reference to the fact that we all “came” (conception, birth) into this world and we shall all “leave” it (death). Immigration and emigration, in a sense. It has nothing to do with national politics, but it happens anyway and no one is immune or exempt.

    Earlier you said that anyone with a paternal great-grandfather would be exempt from the 50% immigrant tax or presumably, immigrant status. Four generations, assuming 20 years per generation, a minimum of 80 years or around 1940. Now you have pushed that date back to the 1830’s, 210 years, or at least 10 generations. Why? On what do you base your declarations?

    No. My ancestors came as colonists and conquerors, not dirty immigrants. They built this nation. They did not arrive as parasites like all immigrants starting in the 1830’s.

    Considering the way YOUR ancestors, colonists and conquerors all, treated the native populations which were already established, I would call them thieves and murderers as well. They may have HELPED build this nation, but don’t give them all the credit. I am sure others were just as productive. Further, in your statement, you have just insulted and demeaned all persons who are descended from those “dirty immigrants and parasites”. Many of those are probably authors and commenters on this blog. How are they supposed to take your comments? Are you going to tell them to get out and go back where they came from? To tell them they don’t belong here because they don’t fit your subjective parameters?

    1. Traditional American- A person with a direct male ancestor listed in the 1790 Census. “For ourselves and our posterity”, not the wretched refuse of teeming shores.

    Ah, another change in the status of what defines a true American. Please make up your mind. You’re starting to meander like Anthony Fauci did with the face mask issue. Oh, also please post a source link for this definition as I am not familiar with it.

    2. If a nation does not give privileges to it’s members, then it should not exist. I belong to the American nation, immigrant parasites do not.

    The only “privilege” any nation should give its members, including you, is the opportunity and freedom to succeed or to fail. Nothing else.

    3. If they do not produce, we deport them simple as that.

    If they don’t work hard and pay the 50% tax imposed on them, we deport them. Deport them to where? Since most of the country is in “dirty immigrant” status according to your definition, it will be a bureaucratic nightmare trying to figure that out.

    4. Americans should benefit from our country, immigrants should not.

    If an immigrant wants to live in my country, then they should pay for the privilege.

    Everyone, everywhere, should benefit from the concept of individual freedom, hard work, personal initiative, and the right to keep what one has worked for, which is what America was based on and the only reason it prospered as much as it has.

    Now, remember you are a guest and will have to go back.

    I do not know what to make of this. Please explain, if you can.

    • Thanks: meamjojo
    • Replies: @meamjojo
  25. meamjojo says:
    @Roger

    It’s a beautiful thing when certain posters here get their noses rubbed in the illogic of their posts.

    • Replies: @Roger
  26. Roger says: • Website
    @meamjojo

    Thank you. Now, before anyone rubs my nose in it, I have to admit my math is faulty. The time period, 1830’s, would be 190 years from today, not 210 as I had written it. Still, more or less about 10 generations.

  27. TG says:
    @Rex Little

    OK good point. But Obama ended up administering most of the financial rescue program after he took office, and yes, he was very efficient at bailing out the banks and helping bank CEOs keep their golden parachutes, but somehow miserably incompetent at handing out aid to regular middle class homeowners. But sure, Dubya (or at least the people telling him what to do) was scum, as well.

    It was Obama that started the “Making Home Affordable” program, which somehow just couldn’t manage to get much of anything done, math is hard, our government is incompetent. But under Obama the bailouts to the financial elite were done on time with no fuss, no problem with government efficiency there.

  28. TG says:
    @Chris Mallory

    A nation is a family writ large. It is not an absolute communist state, but a limited partnership where individuals agree to do some things in common (defense, roads, whatever) and others as individuals. The precise balance will vary, and some nations will achieve a better balance than others, so be it. The nation as a whole belongs to its citizens (I am tempted to say shareholders), and to bring in outsiders – no matter how virtuous they may be as individuals – without the informed permission of the citizens, is dilution of value – it’s theft.

    But the libertarians apparently think that a nation belongs to the richest individuals, and that they can decide who gets to be a citizen. When a rich person imports a third-world refugee to lower his labor costs, it’s as if I, as a shareholder in a private company, just printed up some stock and gave it to someone in exchange for a personal benefit to me only, without sharing the profits with the other stockholders or even asking their permission. That’s theft, pure and simple.

    • Agree: The Anti-Gnostic
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