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grantcart's Journal
grantcart's Journal
August 31, 2012

Want to make a conservative squirm explain Romney's Debt Fetish

As Matt Taibbi explains in his article in Rolling Stone or was laid out in this DU thread earlier one critical fact about Romney and this election should make everyone squirm, but especially deficit obsessed conservatives:

No one has ever run for President having created so much debt (public or private). Romney hasn't just leveraged companies he has been in love with saddling them with massive, massive debt.

This isn't debt flirtation.

This isn't debt affection.

This isn't debt fixation.

This is a full blown debt fetish.

Now do you still want to give him the check book for the United States of America?

Make copies of the Rolling Stone article hand it to them and warn them they are about to read graphic debt porn.


August 30, 2012

TAIBBI's great expose on Bain's role in KB Toys came 228 days after reported/discussed at DU.

KPETE's thread today captures the essence of a brilliant article by Taibbi in the Rolling Stone outlining how Bain Capital ruined companies by loading them with huge debt that would eventually swamp viable companies and allow Bain a second bite at selling off the parts.

KPETE's thread: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021223780

The real heart of Taibbi's article (IMHO) is a very specific discussion about Bain's role in KB Toys

I feel bad even asking Patnode about Romney. Big and burly, with white hair and the thick forearms of a man who's stocked a shelf or two in his lifetime, he seems to belong to an era before things like leveraged debt even existed. For 38 years, Patnode worked for a company called KB Toys in Pittsfield. He was the longest-serving employee in the company's history, opening some of the firm's first mall stores, making some of its canniest product buys ("Tamagotchi pets," he says, beaming, "and Tech-Decks, too&quot , traveling all over the world to help build an empire that at its peak included 1,300 stores. "There were times when I worked seven days a week, 16 hours a day," he says. "I opened three stores in two months once."

Then in 2000, right before Romney gave up his ownership stake in Bain Capital, the firm targeted KB Toys. The debacle that followed serves as a prime example of the conflict between the old model of American business, built from the ground up with sweat and industry know-how, and the new globalist model, the Romney model, which uses leverage as a weapon of high-speed conquest.

In a typical private-equity fragging, Bain put up a mere $18 million to acquire KB Toys and got big banks to finance the remaining $302 million it needed. Less than a year and a half after the purchase, Bain decided to give itself a gift known as a "dividend recapitalization." The firm induced KB Toys to redeem $121 million in stock and take out more than $66 million in bank loans – $83 million of which went directly into the pockets of Bain's owners and investors, including Romney. "The dividend recap is like borrowing someone else's credit card to take out a cash advance, and then leaving them to pay it off," says Heather Slavkin Corzo, who monitors private equity takeovers as the senior legal policy adviser for the AFL-CIO.

Bain ended up earning a return of at least 370 percent on the deal, while KB Toys fell into bankruptcy, saddled with millions in debt. KB's former parent company, Big Lots, alleged in bankruptcy court that Bain's "unjustified" return on the dividend recap was actually "900 percent in a mere 16 months." Patnode, by contrast, was fired in December 2008, after almost four decades on the job. Like other employees, he didn't get a single day's severance.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829#ixzz24zAWyW9R

In the 80s I took my furniture company through the process of shopping it to venture capitalist consortium's, they included Rockefeller, Saudi and other big name groups. Typically they would combine 10 deep pockets, each putting in 25 million, then they would look at 100 companies, nominate about 10 for the second round and end up picking about 1 to invest in and keep going until there capital was committed

So I was not immediately biased that what Bain was doing was evil, I wanted to see for myself. So I had 3 days where I didn't have to work and I got a list of Bain investments and started going through them one by one. In some of the cases it seemed pretty clear that the companies were on the way out anyway.

And then I came to KB Toys. The reason that it stood out is that had already gone through a restructuring once and was profitable, award winning, had a social conscience. It was the perfect company for an ethical venture capitalist to invest in and get it to the next level.

Bain bought it, took out their cash, saddled it with debt and destroyed the company. I did a lot of original source checking and laid out the facts point after point on January 14, 2012.

Here is the thread http://www.democraticunderground.com/12511407

I detail the particular history of KB Toys and why it was the perfect example of Vulture Capitalism and here was my conclusion

Bain engineered a private equity purchase of a profitable company that had already gone through 'creative destruction' eliminating unprofitable legacy operations and saddled the company with hundreds of millions of dollars of debt. The company was not just profitable but an example of the kind of companies that demonstrate a wider social conscious for its customers and the larger community. Sixteen months after purchasing the company with only 6% cash of the value Bain takes out dividends at over 400% of their investment. Significantly this was done during the time of the attacks on 9/11 when the country as a whole was undergoing a heightened sense of patriotism, sacrifice and social duty. Less than 2 years after saddling KB Toys with massive debt and taking out astronomical dividends, K-B Toys faces Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closes 354 previously profitable stores.

Vultures take meat that is already dead and complete the final loop in the cycle of life.

Bain took a company that had already been restructured and was surging in profits and cash. There was never any interest by Bain to restructure KB Toys, that had already been done.

Bain purchased KB Toys simply to raid its cash, and they did so during a time when the rest of the country was undergoing a period of reviewing the founding principles of the country.

To call what Bain did to KB Toys as 'Vulture' Capitalism is an insult to Vultures.

They were pirates and this is why there is so much interest to change the subject and not let the real facts of Bain Capital come to the surface during the Republican Primary.

It matches what Taibbis wrote point by point but preceded it by 228 days.

Compare it to what Taibbi wrote and you can see that the essential facts were well discussed at DU 228 days before RS published Taibbi's elegantly written and well researched article containing essentially the same points.

A few days ago a social welfare manager did a similar point by point dissecting of the lies of the Romney campaign about what is happening on welfare.

Its the kind of thing that happens at DU alot. Not just ahead of the curve, way ahead of the curve. Those who do this for a living would be well advised to comb DUs threads carefully because there is a lot of gold in these forums, sometimes its weeks ahead and sometimes months ahead but the most compelling reason to be a regularly reader of DU is that it is a community that has a tremendous resource of people whose experience and passion result in a regular production of valuable data, opinion and discussion.
August 28, 2012

"See I told you (with a deep and piercing glare to her husband)".

In my work I explain benefits to federal employees. A large percentage are in the border security/law enforcement field.

At one point I give a detailed explanation of how their 401k has functioned under Bush and under Obama. The results are presented completely apolitically but I use reference points based on the beginning and ending of administrations.

No need for commentary, the facts scream out, Bush cost them a lot, Obama has made them a lot.

It isn't unusual for the presentation to move into a little light hearted discussion and I can tell if they were voting Republican or Democratic before. A lot more of these guys voted Democratic last time and will again than you might expect.

Over the last year I have done 350 of these one on one sessions with the employee and their spouse.

Last night another very pleasant couple, obviously good parents, very relaxed personalities. He was a law enforcement officer and she worked in the private sector.

She was a lot more reserved than the normal occasion. It was a Border Patrol agent and this month three border patrol agents have died in work related accidents. In Yuma two died earlier in the year when they were killed by a train. Normally the wives are delighted to see me, as I explain their benefits to them, and how they can increase them, because they really have no idea.

I have a couple of jokes that always work well and one of them is "and then on TV the most frightening thing appeared that you will ever see in your life, a white guy in a suit with a piece of paper". You would be surprised at how Hispanics, African Americans and even most white guys laugh when they hear the delivered completely straight by a white guy holding a piece of paper.

You can see the relief in their faces and sometimes their eyes well up a little because they have been repressing some real fear and anxiety.

Last night the wife was engaged but somehow distant. No reaction to the insurance info, or the retirement.

When I showed the graph that showed how they lost so much under Bush and how they had gained so much under Obama the wife leaned forward and said "See I told you (with a deep and piercing glare to her husband)" and she reinforced it with a strong poke to his ribs.

I made a joke and he laughed, she laughed, they actually were very sweet people.

Now here is the point.

She was pissed about what the Republicans are doing and her husband probably voted Republican last time. I think she was distant in the beginning because she couldn't tell if I was a good ole boy or if I was straight with the facts.

I am telling you there is an intensity to the feelings that educated middle class women have about what is going on. They are not backing down, they are not going quietly. This was a church going somewhat traditional Catholic family with a law enforcement officer husband. It was the perfect demographic for the Republicans, but she was angry. This is the kind of anger I haven't seen anytime in the past few years, and she wasn't the first. This is the kind of "you better listen to what I am saying if you want any warm food between now and the election" kind of anger.

We had a very nice conversation after that and as I unloaded more and more facts the husband took it well, "I really didn't know that".

The long ride from Yuma to El Centro was quietly fulfilling as I remembered the intensity of her "See I told you" and his sheepish acceptance that in the past that he had been led astray by some white guy on TV in a suit with a piece of paper.

August 25, 2012

Next time you are in a quiet conversation with a 'reasonable' Republican whom you respect . .

with a very quiet voice look directly into their eyes and in a very somber, deliberate and slow voice ask them;

"Does it give you pause at all that the only reason that this isn't a 50 state rout is that 1 out of every 3 of the people that you stand with are so blinded by racial hatred that they cannot correctly identify the President's place of birth, that Romney continues to go out of his way to keep those votes on the reservation , and that if those votes were subtracted this would be the greatest landslide in American history?"

and do not look away. Continue to go look straight in their eyes and if they give any other answer but "Yeah I am thinking of voting for the President" then continue to drill deep into their eyes (as if you were reading the operating instructions written on the inside of the skull) and without looking away say,


August 23, 2012

Ryan is going to destroy Vice President Biden in the VP Debates

< Edit On Aug 22 the great events were forseeen in a great vision. Again DU is ahead of the rest.

Not for the satirically impaired>

Paul Ryan is the wonkiest wonkmeisterly Congressman to have ever gone to Congress. He has the entire US budget memorized for the last 10 years. He communicates extremely well and absolutely mesmerizes college faculty's and administrations. Nobel scientists ask him to check their equations before they write their thesis and then ask him to edit the thesis for clarity.

Paul Ryan has never lost a debate.

When he enters the Congressional Republican Caucus all of the members quickly stand and move their chairs aside with a Moses like parting of the room so that he can go to the front of the room unimpeded. They quickly take out pen and paper so that they can write down every word in an operational redundancy should their personal recording devices fail.

Paul Ryan has never lost a debate

He has won every debate he has ever entered. He is bold, brave and has a broad vision. He never prevaricates, dithers or contradicts himself. He is consistent, clear and concise. He is equally familiar with St. Paul, Thomas Aquinas and that atheist broad.

Vice President Joe Biden is just a good old hard working fun guy.

It will be a complete and total victory by Ryan. He is the sacred chalice of the future conservative movement. He is the next Ronald Reagan. Republicans will vote for Romney because they know that Ryan will persuade Romney to take all the right right right right choices.

Paul Ryan has never lost a debate.

In future years Italian composers will write Operas about Ryan's great victory. Anthems will be written and City block murals etched capturing all of the details. A comic book series and an IKEA foot stool will be created to mark it. Paul and Ryan will become the number 1 and 2 names for baby boys starting in 2013.

There are simply not enough adjectives that I could use to push up the bar to the height that Paul Ryan should have to jump over to win this debate.

August 16, 2012

Why the Romney/Ryan ticket will bring a Greek style collapse to the American economy.

It should be clear to all reasonable people that we operate in a public/private partnership. The basic understanding of that relationship was formed under the Roosevelt administration and bonded during World War II. Initially rejecting the modern understanding of the modern state the Republican Party eventually turned to Eisenhower to bring them back from political oblivion. Since that time there has been a back and forth between the two parties about how much should be private and how much should be public.

Under Bush II one element of that general broad consensus was breached. We openly attacked a country that had not attacked us. Using deception and manipulation they were able (with a cowered Democratic Party) to break away from the general working consensus that starting an all out war on a country should only happen when they actually attack us.

Now Romney/Ryan plan to conduct and even more brazen attack on the fundamental consensus of what the modern state should look like.


Yesterday, we touched on why Paul Ryan's budget will inevitably lead to skyrocketing deficits. But one part of that in particular deserves unpacking: Ryan wants to cut almost all of the discretionary federal budget down to just 0.75 per cent of GDP. That is, bluntly, impossible.

The (simplified) argument against Ryan's "fiscal credibility" is that he wants to cut taxes and spending. But while no-one ever argues with tax cuts, the spending cuts he has laid out are implausible. As a result, his plan would result in lower taxes but the same spending, creating a budgetary black hole which will rapidly increase the deficit.

. . . .

But all of this assumes that Paul Ryan will be able to get defense spending down to its historic minimum of 3 per cent of GDP. Right now, the National Security budget is $754bn, and the Department of Defense alone commands $671bn. That is 5.0 per cent, and 4.4 per cent, of GDP, which Ryan would need to slash.

The spending cuts he desires are impossible. They will not materialize, and never could be expected to. And so Ryan will either have to abandon his plan entirely, or pass unfunded tax cuts. If he really is a deficit hawk, that has got to qualify him as one of the most incompetent ever.

So they can't do it but in trying to do it they can lay the foundation for the same type of collapse that we are witnessing in Greece, drastic radical declines in public consumption leads to further collapse of the private sector leading to a dramatic drop off on tax revenue in an atmosphere of chaos that causes the soverign funds to stop purchasing US debt and forcing us to pay rapidly increasing interest rates in a spiral that will accelerate as it becomes clear that there is no more to cut and there are increasingly fewer revenues to service the debt, especially as the interest rate will continue to grow until a tipping point is reached and complete insolvency is reached because there will be no way to pay off the debt.

Beyond these conditions, and people should be absolutely terrified that these radicals will attempt it is one other element of the Greek collapse that the Romney/Ryan ticket will bring.

At the foundation of the Greek crises is not the unions, or the civil service abuse (and frankly some things you hear from Greece are pretty disturbing) but in the Greek constitution;

The Greek Constitution institutionalizes broad areas where no taxes are gathered, starting with revenues from shipping. Billionaire Greek Shipping magnates never have to pay one penny in taxes. They have expanded it to include capital gains and dividend income, yep they have the Romney/Ryan budget for years on the income side.


There are several cases of Tax exemptions under the Greek taxation system, these are as follows:
Proceeds from the sale of shares that are traded on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Income from ships and shipping.
A dividend received from a Greek company.
Capital gain from sale of a business between family members, as defined by law.

What is the result of such a policy?

Beyond the obvious lack of revenue from capital has been a collapse of tax revenues from the professional class and small businesses.


Map showing tax evasion in Greece by area

The euro crisis first started roaring in late 2009, when auditors inside the newly elected Greek government discovered that the country had a much—much—bigger deficit than anyone realized. That, in turn, inflamed fears that Greece couldn’t wiggle its way out of its debt trap so long as it was tethered to the euro. It also exposed structural problems within Europe’s currency union. Worries soon spread to Ireland, Portugal, and eventually Italy and Spain. Now the entire global economy is on edge.

But why did Greece have such a massive budget deficit in the first place? One factor (among many) was rampant tax evasion, which had starved the Greek government of funds. As it turns out, this was a very big deal indeed. The Wall Street Journal’s Justin Lahart points to a new paper (pdf) by three economists who estimate that the size of Greek tax evasion accounted for roughly half the country’s budget shortfall in 2008 and one-third in 2009.

How is it even possible to estimate taxes that aren’t ever paid? The economists, Nikolaos Artavanis, Adair Morse and Margarita Tsoutsoura, cleverly exploit a discrepancy. Few people in Greece want to report their real income to the government, since that would mean paying more taxes. But Greek banks have very solid estimates for how much income people are actually raking in — the banks need this info to make loans or to issue mortgages.

. . . .

In any case, this is hardly the only reason that the euro is now stuck in a crisis. As Paul Krugman explains in this lecture, the euro zone has long had all sorts of deep structural flaws that were bound to combust sooner or later. It just so happened that the spark, in this case, appears to have been Greek tax evasion.

It turns out when you exempt the very very very rich from paying their fair share of the tax burden then the dentist, optician, drug store owner, car mechanic, and all of the other professional and small business guys think "If they aren't going to pay their fair share then why should we pay ours?".

This is why it is so important that Romney release his tax records (and why his much more ethical father released 12 years when he ran for President). If he is elected and it is commonly believed that he paid only nominal taxes then there are tens of millions of small and medium businesses and professionals who will follow their Greek brothers and sisters and saying "its not fair for me to pay more than a rich shipping magnate" or in our case Mitt Romney.

The IRS actually checks only a very small percentage of the returns and if the tax system is perceived to be a cynical dodge for the rich then the vast number of self employed and small business owners will turn on it, just like they did for Greece.

Greece still hasn't amended its constitution. The plutocracy continues to live tax free so I am not too sympathetic to them, they asked for what they got. I understand why the workers in France and Germany are not happy to have to give up some of their money to pay for a country that doesn't tax its rich and where there is vast tax evasion by the upper middle class, but in their self interest and because they share the same currency they have come several times to bail them out.

So it is with astonishment that we watch an uninformed Republican Party follow the Greeks down the sinkhole.

There is one main difference between Greece and the US. The Greeks can get together and form a consensus and throw out the government and put in another one at any time. They could do it tomorrow.

In the US when you vote in an idiotic government you cannot get them out for stupidity. They get 4 years and if people weren't aware of this fact and how disastrous it can be then George Bush showed it in painful detail.

So if Romney is President and he lead us down the path to an Athens style collapse who does he think will be there to bail US out? No economy in the world could help and we would bring the world economy down and start another long depression. After you destroy the revenue base of the US government where do you go for help?

The planet Kolob? Maybe there is some intergalactic FDIC plan that Romney hasn't told us about.

August 15, 2012

Ben Tre redux: "It is necessary to destroy Medicare in order to save it".

Bến Tre, on 7 February 1968. Arnett cited an unidentified U.S. military official in his report: "'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it', a United States major said today. He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong.

This is what Romney/Ryan means when they say that they are going to save Medicare

August 12, 2012

Dear Dumbshit Republican who stopped by to argue that we don't need radical health care change.

In response to


You came, you left your turd and now your gone. We don't want to waste our time having to go all the way back to Copernicus and reestablish ever logical point that the reactionaries have been fighting for the last 500 years so your ticket was punched. If you have observed the different voices at DU you might have noticed that I never use "Repug" and other pejoratives and I openly state that I have family I love and friends I respect who are Republicans, so when I use the word "Dumbshit" it is not a broad bush, it is aimed 100% at you and the millions of other obstinate knuckle draggers who think that you have any intellectual basis for your reactionary bullshit.

You have none. And if any of you have ever lived outside of the US you will find just how little respect your point of view gets in the other major democracies. And here I am speaking of other conservative even right wing parties.

Three years ago I spent an entire day researching the position of every major political party in every single developed democratic country and their stand on universal access to health care. I expected to find a couple of parties that agreed with you. There were none. Not even the racist far right nativist parties agreed with you.

You are alone in the civilized world when it comes to your repugnant, unethical, inhumane, counterproductive, parochial, hubrisitic, jingoistic, overburdened and anticapitalist approach to health care.

In the 'marketplace of ideas' that you like to pretend you believe in you are 0 out of 60. NO OTHER POLITICAL PARTY IN THE WORLD SHARES YOUR POINT OF VIEW. If you go to Europe and have dinner with a pious religious family who votes 100% of the time with the most conservative party in their country the first substantive question they will ask you when they want to have a meaningful discussion is "How can you justify a system that puts a price on seeing a doctor? In a wealthy country why should anyone have to worry about paying to go see a doctor?" And again this is from the conservatives. You are apart of the most reactionary far right wing movement in Western Civilization. You put on the clothes of respectability but does it ever bother you that the only reason that you are still in the game at all is that 30% of your votes are from self admitted racists who cannot correctly identify where the President was born. You have no shame, no respect from other conservatives. You have nothing and you are nothing and the American people are going to hand you a huge Electoral College defeat.

Here is the result of that original post.

The link has the original post with all of the HTML effects which make it easier to read:


In the world of political opinion the Republican Party stands alone in not supporting either universal national health care or universal health care insurance

While the Republican Party gives lip service to the idea of competing in the 'marketplace of ideas', history has made its choice. Looking across the span of political parties in modern development Democratic countries there is broad unanimous agreement among political leaders and parties that health care should be universally accessible.

The overwhelming numbers support a nationalized health care system.

A smaller minority support a nationalized insurance, or nationally controlled health insurance system that requires insurance companies to issue guarantee acceptance at regulated rates.

Only one party, The Republican Party, supports the proposition that individuals are better suited to work it out on its own.

In glancing at the partial list below, the most striking point is that very Conservative parties in Canada, the UK, and Australia all support positions that are to the left of even the Democratic Party in the US.

In all cases these countries spend about 30% less than the US (as a percentage of GDP - 16% versus 10%) and deliver more effective care to more people.

This is because national health care does three things;

1) Eliminates an unnecessary profit center (The health insurance industry).

2) Eliminates the unnecessary cost of administrating an expensive mechanism to approve care and achieves other efficiences of scale.

3) Focuses care on earlier stages of health problems allowing for more effective and less expensive preventative steps to be more universally accessed.

Universal health not only works but it saves money. Because of the eradication of Small Pox by governments across the globe this year we will spend no money and suffer no human loss due to small pox.


Government programs underpin the key aspects of healthcare. Medicare, which is funded out of general tax revenue, pays for hospital and medical services. Medicare covers all Australians, pays the entire cost of treatment in a public hospital, and reimburses for visits to doctors.

Australian Labor Party (center left 43%) "defend and strengthen Medicare, which is the cornerstone of Australia's health system"

Liberal Party of Australia (center right 36%) The government should &quot make) health services available, while encouraging preventative measures and private insurance http://www.liberal.org.au/info/docs/federa...

(no party advocates major changes to their health system http://www.economist.com/countries/Austria... )

Social Democratic Party (socialist 57 seats) (website is in German but the SDS is considered one of the most socialist parties in Europe http://www.spoe.at /

People's Party (center right 51 seats) Access to medical care must be guaranteed for every human being, regardless of his/her financial situation, social status and place of residence. http://www.oevp.at/download/general/036201...

Freedom Party (far right 34 seats) The freedom Party has a 5 point platform - none of them relate to changing health care http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Party...

Alliance for the future of Austria (eclectic some far right some far left 21) The AFA has a 21 point platform - none of which advocate any change to Austria's socailized health care. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliance_for_...

Green Party (center left 20) build a society respectful of fundamental human rights and environmental justice: the rights to self‑determination, to shelter, to good health, to education, to culture, and to a high quality of life;


Belgium's health care system is one of the best in Europe and none of the parties want to make major changes to it;

Devoting only half as much of its GDP to health as the United States does, Belgium has created a flexible, public-private partnership to pay for and deliver health care that preserves many of the attributes that Americans desire: universal coverage; comprehensive coverage of physician services, hospital care, and prescription drugs; free choice of primary physicians and specialists; and acceptable waiting periods for non-emergency services. (Belgium parties each have a seperate Flemish/Walloon-French speaknig Parties which are listed together) http://www.brookings.edu/events/2007/0205h...

Christian Democratic and Flemish/ Humanist Democratic Centre (Christian Democratic 25%)

Reformist Movement/Flemish Liberals/ (Liberalism 12%)

Flemish Interest (Right wing popularism/facist/anti immigrant 12%) Even this party, one of Europe's most far right wing parties, does not include any change in the health system in its extensive 18 point platform. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlaams_Belang

Open VLD (Liberalism 12%)

Socialist/Socialist Different (socialist 21%)

Ecolo/Green (green 10%)


Since 1962, Canada has had a government-funded, national healthcare system founded on the five basic principles of the Canada Health Act. The principles are to provide a healthcare system that is: universally available to permanent residents; comprehensive in the services it covers; accessible without income barriers; portable within and outside the country; and publicly administered. http://www.medhunters.com/articles/healthc...

Universal Health Care is considered "sacrosanct"

Conservative (center right 36%) A belief that all Canadians should have reasonable access to quality health care regardless of their ability to pay; http://www.conservative.ca/EN/4679 /

Liberal (center left 30%)
Medicare—single tier, universal access, publicly-funded health care is still regarded as sacrosanct, and people are very concerned that we’re losing it. More and more people understand that within that system, some publicly-funded services can be privately delivered—the far larger concern is wanting to avoid a two-tier system. This creates an opportunity to have a more open discussion—
even if we don’t have the answers, we should be looking for them. http://www.liberal.ca/pdf/docs/platformrep...

Quebec Party (french national 11%)

New Democratic Party (Center left 17%) NDP wants to expand public health care including expanded dental and prescription drug coverage, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Democrati...

Czech Republic

Civic Democratic Party (Center right 81 seats) Ideologically similar to British Conservative Party

Christian Democratic Union (Center left 29 seats) "the creating of a universal health care system and the guarantee of its functionality" http://www.kdu.cz/EN_Videa/Media_11_2006_5...

Communist Party (Communist 26 seats)

Christian and Democatic Union (Center right 13 seats)


Every resident in Denmark has free access to the ealth care system with free examinations and treatment. Residents receive a health insurance card from their municipality, which also arranges for the patients choice of doctor. http://www.ouh.dk/wm237197

Venstre (Center right 26%) Recently ran on increasing investment into Denmark's national health care system to reduce waiting lines http://www.venstre.dk/index.php?id=4620

Social Democrats (25% Socialism) Equality means applying decency and engendering a socially fair distribution of society’s goods. It means equal opportunities and equal access to education, health care and other services regardless of gender, social or ethnic background. http://socialdemokraterne.dk/A-English+ver...

Danish People's Party (Right Wing Populism 13.9%) The party is mostly an anti immigration policy and does not advocate major changes in the Danish Health System. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_People...

Socialist People's Party (Socialist/Green 13%) Supports universal free health care.


Although the French system faces many challenges, the World Health Organization rated it the best in the world in 2001 because of its universal coverage, responsive healthcare providers, patient and provider freedoms, and the health and longevity of the country's population. The United States ranked 37

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial... /

Union for a Popular Movement (Center Right 317 seats) refund at fair value both dental work expenses and spectacles, to put an end to inequalities in health care. http://www.support-sarkozy-france.com/nico...

Coalition of the Left (Center Left/Socialists 204 seats) Several different Leftist Parties all supporting universal health care.


Germany has the world's oldest universal care system and is arguably the most successful. Like Americans, most Germans get their health coverage through their employers. But Germany's rich pay higher premiums to subsidize insurance for the poor — a principle the Germans call "solidarity" http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.p...

The principle of "Solidarity" has been endorsed by all of Germany's political parties".

Social Democratic Party (Center Left 34%) Free or low cost nursing, doctor medical and hospital care for those who are sick, injured or unable to care for themselves. This may also include free antenatal and postnatal care. Services may be provided in the community or a medical facility. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_th...

Christian Democratic Union (Center Right 28%)

Free Democratic Party (Center 10%)

The Left (Socialism 9%)

Green (Center left 8%)

Christian Social Union (Center Right 7%)


Many Greeks have been clamouring for reform in their country’s health care system. Still, it was ranked by the World Health Organization as one of the best health care system in the world. Health care cost is the lowest among the European Union member countries. . . Public health system in Greece provides free or low cost health care service to residents contributing to the social security system including their families. Other benefits include free laboratory services, maternity care, medical-related appliances or gadgets, and transportation. Other European Union nationals can also avail of the free health care benefits provided they have with them their E111 forms.


New Democracy Party (Center Right 42%)

Unrestricted healthcare, guaranteed by the State. Healthcare is the principal social benefit.
For current and future generations, a person's quality of life will depend on healthcare. We struggle for a healthcare system, free of restrictions; lifetime healthcare, covering all health needs, for all citizens.
http://en.nd.gr /

Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Center Left 38%) Ensuring good education, health care, child care, et cetera for all citizens through government fundings.


All persons resident in Ireland are entitled to receive health care through the public health care system, which is managed by the Health Service Executive and funded by general taxation. A person may be required to pay a subsidised fee for certain health care received; this depends on income, age, illness or disability. All child health and maternity services are provided free of charge as is emergency care.

All Irish Parties support Universal Care


A survey, commissioned by the HSE in 2007, found that patient satisfaction with the health service was quite high, with 90% of inpatients and 85% of outpatients saying they were satisfied with their treatment. In addition to this, 97% said they were satisfied with the care provided by their GP.

Fianna Fáil (Center Right 41%)

Fine Gael (Center Left 27%

Labour Party (Socialist 10%)


In the Japanese health care system, healthcare services, including free screening examinations for particular diseases, prenatal care, and infectious disease control, are provided by national and local governments. Payment for personal medical services is offered through a universal health care insurance system that provides relative equality of access, with fees set by a government committee. People without insurance through employers can participate in a national health insurance program administered by local governments. Since 1973, all elderly persons have been covered by government-sponsored insurance. Patients are free to select physicians or facilities of their choice.


Generally speaking, the healthcare in Japan is not only provided free for every Japanese citizen, but also for expatriates and foreigners. http://www.allianzworldwidecare.com/health...

All Parties in Japan support universal health Care

Democratic Party of Japan (Center Left 40%)

Liberal Democratic Party (Center Right 28%)

New Komeito Party (Buddhist 13%) Supports Universal Care and wants cancer coverage expanded. http://www.komei.or.jp/en/policy/manifest....


The National Health System of Italy, called the Servizio Sanitario Nazioanale, offers inexpensive healthcare to all European citizens. In-patient treatments which are covered include tests, medications, surgeries during hospitalization, family doctor visits, and medical assistance provided by paediatricians and other specialists. The health system is also responsible for drugs and medicines, out-patient treatments, and dental treatments.


All Italian Political Parties support Universal Health Care

PDL (Center Right 275 Seats)

PD (Center Left 217 Seats

Lega Nord (Regional Parties 60 Seats)

UDC (Center Right 35 Seats

Idv (Center Left 29 Seats)



Of all of the developed Democracies (besides the US) the Netherlands relies most on private insurance to combine with government subsidies and is therefore the closest to the US system:

The Netherlands has introduced a new system of health care insurance based on risk equalization through a risk equalization pool. In this way, a compulsory insurance package is available to all citizens at affordable cost without the need for the insured to be assessed for risk by the insurance company. Indeed health insurers are now willing to take on high risk individuals because they receive compensation for the higher risks <3>.

A 2008 article in the journal Health Affairs suggested that the Dutch health system, which combines mandatory universal coverage with competing private health plans, could serve as a model for reform in the US.

Nevertheless the Dutch system is both substantially lower and provides higher care;

"In 2003, the Netherlands spent 9.8 percent of its gross domestic product on health care, below the spending levels in Germany, France, and Canada and more than one-third less than the United States. Even under the constraints of this budget, the Netherlands has implemented a number of health sector reforms that have led to important quality improvement. . ."

While it is not a nationalized system it does provide for Universal Health Care Insurance

Since 1 January 2006, there has been a single healthcare insurance system in the Netherlands, Everyone living in the Netherlands, or paying income tax here is required to take out compulsory healthcare insurance, Although the basic package is fixed by law, people are free to choose their insurer.

Insurers have a duty to accpet everyone for the basic package and older or chronically ill people may not be charged higher premiums for the basic coverage. The new system should lead to more efficient and client-centered healthcare services.

All parties in the Netherlands support Universal Insurance (or completely nationalizing the medical service).

CDA (Center Right 41 Seats)

Labor Party (Socialist 33 Seats)

Socialist Party (Socialist 25 Seats)

VVD (Center Right 21

United Kingdom

The National Health Service (NHS) is based on the principle to provide a universal service for all based on clinical need, not ability to pay. It is supported by all major parties in the UK.

Labour Party (Center Left 350 Seats) Labour considers NHS "their greatest achievement'.

Conservative Party (Center Right 193 Seats) Now supports the NHS without reservation. In 2006, for example, David Cameron unveiled changes to his party's stance on healthcare which effectively undid Thatcher's efforts to try and subsidize patients going to private medical insurance. In his first speech becoming leader he said that he wanted the NHS to be free for all.

Liberal Party (Centrist 63 Seats) Supports NHS and would like to decentralize it and expand its drug coverage.

Discuss (18 comments) | Recommend (+15 votes)

August 11, 2012

All in.

No lesser of two evils.

Two dramatically counter visions of America.

This is all out political war.

Will the most powerful government in the world be turned over lock, stock and barrel to an elite group of extremely rich manipulators that have corrupted capitalism and now want to undermine the basic foundations of the modern developed state simply so a privledged few can start adding zeroes to a largess that they will never be able to consume in a hundred lifetimes,


Does the government provide basic services, health, education, safety net and leadership for all its citizens so that the maximum level of opportunity can be spread to the maximum number of citizens.

The differences are wider than the gap of the Grand Canyon.

Any liberal or leftwing Democrat or independent that is not 100% behind the reelection of President Obama is the best friend of the most reactionary national ticket to have run for the Presidency in a hundred years. From today on there is nothing lower than a Naderite (or Stein-ites) in the 2012 election.


August 10, 2012

From an Ex CEO: Why John Schnatter's comments about a 20 cents add on are laughable.

Last week, John Schnatter, the founder and CEO of Papa John's Pizza, announced that the Affordable Care Act will raise the cost of his pizza 11 to 14 cents each, or 15 to 20 cents per order.

In 1988 I cashed in my retirement account and started a factory making leather furniture in Thailand and within 2 years we had grown the company to 450 employees and dominated the discount leather furniture market in Europe, replacing cheap discount production in Italy with better quality and lower priced product. IKEA was our largest, but not only customer and Ingmar Komprad came to visit our factory. We had Thai and Japanese shareholders, shipped more than $ 10 million a year, paid our workers 30% more than the market and had zero turnover. A few years later they took down the Berlin Wall and IKEA took our model to Poland where the inflated post liberation currency made labor virtually free and they could ship directly to their European stores, saving a 20% warehousing fee. We had signed personal guarantees on our loans we lost everything, house, retirement account. But I really enjoyed it, everyday was a different problem solving exercise.

I did learn however to look at markets like a CEO and I am continually shocked how idiotic statements by American CEOs are allowed to stand. Now I am not talking how their are idiotic from a public policy or morals point of view, as this one is, but how they are idiotic from a CEO point of view. I keep waiting for somebody with some business background to make the points in the national media but they never do.

Putting aside all morale, ethical, human issues regarding the wisdom of adding of dimes to a pizza so that the employees can have access to a doctor there are numerous reasons why they are just plain stupid from a CEO's point of view.

1. Marginal increase in costs are completely irrelevant.

The only thing that is relevant is are you going to get a cost disadvantage versus all of your competitors. Is Papa John's going to have to pay an additional 20 cents a pizza that other pizza makers are not going to have to pay? Of course not. So where's the harm? To think of it another way the direct cost of gasoline that goes up because say "President Romney attacks Iran and with 1/3 of the oil going through the Persian Gulf gas prices would go to $ 6.00" would have a much greater multiplier effect on Papa John's per pizza cost because not only would his raw material costs, direct energy costs and delivery costs would go up much much more than the lousy 20 cents he has mentioned. But Schnatter doesn't really care about this because he knows that if those costs go up for him then they will also go up for all of the other Pizza makers.

For this reason marginal increase in costs are completely irrelevant if they are applied to all the manufacturers equally, there is no competitive advantage or disadvantage, they are irrelevant to the manufacturer's position in the market place.

2. It eliminates one of his major benefit nightmares

Now Papa John's doesn't have to fight it out in the benefit wars where a competing company poaches his workers by offering better benefits. Working as a management consultant my first task was to ask the CEO what his major problems were. They were never the real problems but you had to let the guy ventilate. Sometimes they would say "unions" and this was never the case. Most of the time they were in prevailing wage bids so that the union rate had to be paid whether they were union or not. I would ask "since you are costing and paying on prevailing wage set by they government and your union now becomes responsible for discipline (if you had a problem with a particular worker he could simply notify the shop steward and they would send that pipe fitter back to the shop and get another one) where is the disadvantage? None.

By having a universally defined benefit Papa John's is spared the headache of trying to compete in the market place trying to convince workers that his companies health benefits are competitive with another company, they are now all going to be more or less equal.

3. It puts more disposable income into his customers pockets

What is Papa John's major problem? Disposable income in his customary base is declining. The Affordable Health Care Act will mean that when the working Mom has to go to the doctor and get breast examination or a new prescription her monthly budget isn't going to be wiped out. Now when she is on her way home from the doctor and doesn't have enough time to make dinner, she can order a pizza rather than feeding the kids breakfast cereal.

There is a famous story about how Ford increased his daily labor pay to $ 15 per day even though he had plenty of workers willing to work for half of that. He wasn't being generous, he needed them to be able to make enough money to buy a car.

I predict that eventually the management of Walmart will become big advocates for increasing minimum wages. They are coming quickly to the point where there are not that many quality locations to build new stores. They are trying to expand the range of quality products and services that they provide to get in more customers. But as the disposable income of the middle and lower class continues to disintegrate they will see (and I believe that they are already seeing) that the per trip ticket for their customers start to decline. In the stock market they are competing against other companies for investment and they are required to find ways to increase profits. For their domestic market they are fast approaching the point where the only way that they can increase profit is to increase the per ticket total of their customers buying and that can only happen if the minimum and working wages at the bottom increase.

4. Communicating a negative message to your employees

In addition to all of the above is the callous, heartless point that John Schnatter is communicating to his employees. He is saying I will not provide and I do not care if you have access to medical services and he is putting his lack of care with a price tag, 20 cents a pizza. Businesses can only be successful on the long term if a) their suppliers win b) their employees win and c) their customers win. If any of those three are threatened then the long term viability of the business is uncertain. Papa John's has now communicated to all of their employees that they are nothing more than cannon fodder and are completely disposable. This puts Papa John's at a competitive disadvantage in hiring and attracting the best workers, or keeping morale up. And he created this disadvantage without gaining any comparative bottom line advantage. It doesn't help your bottom line to alienate your employees, especially when you do it without actually increasing your bottom line performance, it is an unforced error.

Of course there is the whole moral, ethical and public policy point of view as well. But looking at it strictly from a business point of view Schnatter's comments rise to the level of a junior high school business class. If I was a major shareholder in Papa John's I would be worried about how competent a CEO was managing my investment.

The fact that the media simply passes on statements like this without challenging them simply shows again that they are becoming less and less professional with each election cycle and are completely intimidated by business people no matter how senseless their comments are.

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