Quote of the Day


Does anyone know if Glenn Beck is single?”

–From Sue Sylvester’s Facebook Page

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Government And Financing Health Care Coverage

A couple of weeks ago I discussed The Free Market Case For The Public Option. Andrew Sullivan picks up this topic, citing Hayek:

I keep coming back to Hayek on this – because government-sponsored health insurance is not government-run healthcare. Maybe it’s my British roots that make this so clear to me (if the British Tories proposed a universal health insurance scheme, with care provided by private doctors, nurses and hospitals, it would rightly be regarded as a major shift to the right.) Here’s Hayek’s discussion of why this is not heresy for libertarians and conservatives of the old school:

“Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision.

“Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance – where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks – the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong… Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself nor make the provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken,” – The Road To Serfdom (Chapter 9).”

Demanding and helping people insure themselves in a context where emergency care is already guaranteed is not socialism. It’s prudence.

One problem is that many people in the conservative and libertarian movements equate freedom with absence of government. As a general rule this might frequently work, but this logic often leads to fallacious results. We might be more free living on an isolated island without any government as opposed to living on Manhattan, but this type of change is not a sensible goal for most libertarians.

Other than for the most extreme, even most libertarians grant some role for government. There are some things which are just better handled by government than by the market. This includes police protection and national defense. Similarly most of the industrialized world has found that financing (but not necessarily delivery) of health care is either best handled by government, or at least requires considerable government involvement.

A situation in which insurance companies can collect premiums and then deny care when needed, as well as having a society in which tens of millions are uninsured or under insured, is not a more free society in any meaningful sense. Conservatives and libertarians who denounce any attempts at remedying the problem as “socialism” are both ignorant of the actual definition of socialism and have substituted blind fanaticism for a reasoned consideration of the role of government in society.

“The Plan” Will Only Be Of Interest To Hard Core Battlestar Galactica Fans


We kept hearing through out the years that Battlestar Galactica was on that the Cylons had a plan. The television movie of The Plan was released on DVD and Blu-Ray yesterday. The Plan includes many scenes from the series and largely feels like a clip show but in one way it reminded me of the original series. Remember when the original Cylons always missed and nothing went right for them after the original attack? The Plan was much like this.


The Plan centers around Dean Stockwell’s character, John Cavil (Number One), and to a lesser extent around Tricia Helfer’s character, Number Six.  It begins and ends with the Cavil who was on Galactica and the one who had been on Caprica being thrown out the air lock after being discovered to by Cylons. Caprica-Cavil is questioning whether killing off the humans was a good idea while Galactica-Cavil is revealed in flashbacks to be obsessed with finishing off the remaining humans.


The original plan was to kill all humans in the attack. The movie shows the events of the first two seasons from the perspective of the Cylons. For the most part we are seeing things we already saw but some details are filled in. For example, we found that when Caprica-Six told Baltar she had a meeting just before the destruction of Caprica her meeting was with Cavil.  While most might see the near extermination of all humans as a success, Cavil had expected all to be killed and his plan was now to finish the job.


Another aspect of his original plan was to have the final five killed after living among the humans with Cavil expecting them to learn their lesson and realize how horrible humanity is after they are resurrected. Instead they both remained alive and they continued to like the flawed humans.


During the first two seasons there were a number of attacks on the fleet. Seeing them from the Cylon perspective does provide some additional, but hardly essential, information. Cavil chastised a Five for being easily recognizable with all models looking virtually the same. The Five responded by arguing, “His jacket was burgundy. This is teal.” Cavil gave him something new to wear–a suicide vest, leading to a scene seen on the television show.

prostitute six

There were multiple attempts to kill of the survivors but, like with the Cylons of the original series, their attempts inevitably failed. The main reason for the failure, however, is one which the original Cylons would not be affected by. In scene later in the movie, another version of Six taunts Cavil for the failures and argues that this was because of love. Caprica Six loved Baltar and her attempt to discredit him failed. Boomer failed to kill Adama because of her love for him. Leoban failed to kill Starbuck because of his obsession for her. Simon, or Number Four, was involved in a plot to destroy a ship which was new to the movie. It failed because of his love for his human family.


The movie would only be of interest to hard core fans of the show. Many of the events would be totally incomprehensible without having seen them during the regular series. As a stand alone movie it is a failure, lacking a coherent story line of its own. It is a partial success as a clip show, but this year Joss Whedon raised the bar for clip shows with Epitaph One.  Whedon’s clip episode of Dollhouse, also only available so far on DVD, went beyond the original series and gave it additional meaning. The Plan just fills in a few minor gaps. So much more could have been done to expand upon what occurred in the series.


Just as with the release of the pilot of Caprica on DVD, The Plan contains scenes which cannot appear on television. The scenes with Tricia Helfer playing a prostitute version of Number Six unfortunately are tame enough to air. Early in the movie, after meeting Caprica-Six, Cavil is next seen with Ellen Tigh in a topless bar, where even the bar tender is shown topless. When fleeing after Number Six tried to discredit Baltar there is a totally pointless scene in which they cut through a shower. Even as a scene of gratitude nudity, it did not hold up to the shower scene in Starship Troopers.

Fans of the show will want to see the movie but those who have not watched the entire series would be better off watching the series first. While I was anxious to see this as soon as available as opposed to waiting until it airs, in retrospect there was nothing I couldn’t have waited for. I have not yet checked out any of the special features of the DVD. I did view portions of the Blu Ray version on both 720 and 1080 resolutions and there was a noticeable improvement with the full HD in some scenes, giving an advantage of watching the on Blu Ray as opposed to waiting until it is broadcast.

Ebooks vs. Physical Books

I still intend to post a review of my ebook reader as previously promised, but this afternoon I’m giving a higher priority to a post on The Plan. (Next step is to see if their are already good pictures posted on line versus going back and taking some screen grabs off my copy).

Upon getting home there was a box from Amazon which gives a clue as to my feeling on ebooks compared to physical books. While out of town I started reading Breaking The Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C. Dennett. It was great to have this on my reader (along with hundreds of other books)while traveling, and after returning home I continued to read the ebook copy. However I also placed an order for the physician copy from Amazon last week (sticking with their slower economy shipping since I could read the ebook version while waiting). Given a choice, I’ll still read the physical book while at home, but will take the ebook reader when I go out of town in November. As long as I’m at home, I prefer the sensation of physically holding the book. It is far easier to skim through the book to see how it is organized, and to check out the notes in the back, with the physical copy. I also like to see how far I’m into the book and how much is left.

I know I’m not a typical consumer, but at least in my case this gives one possible answer to the question of whether books will face the same problem as music now that they are digitalized and easily shared. I’m certain that to  certain degree it will, but there is a difference between music and books. For many people, an iPod is their preferred way to listen to music and there is no advantage to having a physical CD. Books still provide benefits beyond having the text on an ebook reader. I not only ordered the book I am in the midst of reading but I also ordered two of the same author’s other books: Darwin’s Dangerous Idea and Freedom Evolves. In my case, at least, having a digital copy of a book led to more book sales.

Now, if nothing else comes up, I can get to work on The Plan.

The Plan (Review to Come)

I’m starting to get a number of search engine hits for The Plan (the Battlestar Galactica movie). I’ve seen it and will hopefully have time to post a review this afternoon.

Polls On The Public Option

Ed Brayton and Jed Lewiston mock Sean Hannity’s inane criticism of polls showing support for the public option. Showing the fallacies in Sean Hannity’s logic is always a very easy way to write a blog post.

Obviously Hannity’s objections aren’t worth considering. On the actual topic of polling the public option, results typically show a majority in support but the results vary widely. Part of this is because, as I’ve pointed out in recent posts, there are a variety of ideas which are lumped together under the public option and we don’t yet know which will pass Congress (assuming any form of public option passes the Senate).

Most people have no clue as to the specifics and the wording of a poll influences the results considerably. If you ask about whether people should be offered the choice of a public option (stressing choice) or compare it to Medicare, people are more likely to support it. There was some talk about rebranding the public option as Medicare for Everyone last week but some are now backing away from that idea.

On the other hand support will poll lower among those who believe the fallacies spread by the right, such as that the public option is a back door method of bringing about “socialized medicine,” or that it will be funded by taxpayers as opposed to those who voluntarily choose the option. (On the other hand, there are some to the left of the Democratic Party who are upset with the currently proposed public option because it doesn’t go far enough to be able to eventually evolve into a single payer plan).

I’ve also noted a couple of ironies in the past when considering the opponents of the public option. Conservatives who most complain that the cost of health care is too expensive, or that we cannot afford universal health care, are the ones who are most likely to oppose the public option which would help to keep down taxes.

It is also ironic that conservatives, who speak the most about the free market system (unfortunately in a religious manner which frequently replaces any real understanding of economics in the real world) show so little faith in the private sector that they believe that insurance companies could not compete with a government option. This is especially absurd considering the lengths that the Democrats went through in the hopes of receiving support from the insurance industry to propose legislation which will be highly profitable for the industry. While absurd it is not surprising as the opponents of health care reform from the right generally have no understanding of what is actually being proposed and therefore have no basis by which to judge the effects of heath care reform.