You don’t know nothing about Affordable Care — unless you watch the Daily Show

obamacare

Writing for MinnPost, my friend John Reinan declares the Affordable Care Act to have had “the worst new-product rollout in memory.” He writes:

[T]hree years after the passage of Obamacare — which itself took place after two years of heated, publicized debate — Americans understand very little about the program. In fact, a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of all Americans (44 percent) don’t realize that Obamacare is actually the law of the land. Fewer than one in four Americans has gotten any information recently about the health care law from a doctor, a health care organization, a federal agency or a state agency.

That’s just nuts. With three years to inform the public about the new law, the federal government has failed miserably. If this were a new car, a new soft drink or a new movie, people would be getting fired.

Emphasis mine. Perhaps this is a bit different in Minnesota, where our state’s new health insurance exchange, MNsure, has launched a full-on marketing assault in the lead-up to Obamacare open season in October. According to WallStCheatSheet.com:

Minnesota’s marketing scheme was also designed to address another problem; Kaiser’s August survey also showed that a large proportion of respondents, 19 percent, said they got most of their information about the Affordable Care Act from comedy programs like The Daily Show, while just 14 percent said they got most of their information from state agencies.

The god damned Daily Show. With an un-American (literally) as its pinch-hitting host for the summer. Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what your Daily Show can do for your country.

140 Responses

  1. Yeah, poor marketing.

    Not necessarily related, I always thought ‘you can’t polish a turd’ is a metaphor that can not be improved. It’s basically perfect.

  2. I don’t disagree that the rollout has been imperfect, though some of it is just beginning as the first open enrollment season starts in a couple of weeks.

    BUT it’s worth noting that the vast majority of Americans don’t have to go out and make a product selection, because they already have insurance and will stay with that insurance. So for them, this ACA product launch is for a product they are not looking to buy.

    We all often tune out those kinds of product launches. Most of us don’t notice the billions of dollars worth of new car ads that are always out there until we are in the market for a car. Same here.

    It’s also worth noting that a whole lot of people think that less than half of Americans know that Obama is Christian, despite lots of evidence to the contrary, such as a scandal involving his Christian minister that was probably the lowest point of his first presidential candidate. The point being a) Americans are ill-informed on LOTS of issues that are heavily discussed (and this may be the most heavily discussed issue of our generation) and b) the noise created by a well-funded opponent creates lots of confusion and/or tuning out (and this may be the most heavily demagogued issue of our generation — “death panels,” “socialism,” “government-run health care”).

  3. Things is, it’s a mistake to understand this as a marketing problem.

    People who weren’t paying for health ins before are going to be almost impossible to motivate to pay for it now, even presuming a subsidy. These people suffer from some combination of a bad job, poor income, and youth. Marketing doesn’t help them make their insurance premium payment. More so say, if their hours are now cut under 30 hours a week.

    • The marketing problem is not related to the number of people buying (or not) insurance from a new exchange or anything like that. We’re talking about awareness. That is a marketing problem.

      • I was not aware that one of the biggest product launches of 2013 was the Nissan Altima until I just Googled “largest product launch.” In fact, I can’t tell you one thing about an Altima after that huge blitz, even though affordable sedans are what I seek. Is that because Altima’s marketers suck? Maybe. But I think it’s more due to the fact that I am ok with my Honda at the moment, do just let all car ads wash over me.

        We’ll see if the rate of uninsurance declines. In Massachusets, under a similar RomneyCare system, the rate of uninsured is 4%, compared to 16% for the nation as a whole and 9% in MN.

    • They could also just be the types that expect the Gubmint / Prezident Barry to take care of them.

      • Too pejorative and ugly, I personally wouldn’t and don’t engage in that kind of rhetoric. But yes, seriously, potential enrollees are going to be surprised it isn’t free. That’s a marketing problem.

  4. PM, Dennis, I’d appreciate your thanks by the way, for rhetorically kicking some fannies around here and getting the readership fed some fresh content.

    • Ah Erik–You’re the MAN bud!!! Reckless, iconoclastic, antagonistic…I’m with you. Keep hanging in there.

    • Hey, Erik, I’d even buy you a beer–not that I think you’re necessarily responsible for getting Keliher out of his coma, mind you–but I’m just that kind of a person!

  5. John Reinan’s article was pretty forceful and it would seem true to the extent that with unlimited financial resources and talent available to it that Obamacare remains so opaque to so many even if not necessarily in the market for it. Then again I’m not sure what my Blue Cross coverage necessarily consists of either.

    The Nissan Altima the “biggest product launch”? Heck, with the exception of a Robert Downey voice over I can’t remember a single ad (although a spot done to promote the Nissan Leaf some time ago with the Polar Bear was emotionally gripping–but in that instance selling a concept more than specifically the product–but I digress.).

    • I was just going to ask … who among us, or what percentage of the insured population would you say has a functional clue about what is covered in their existing plan? If its an employer-purchased “benefit” I’m guessing maybe 10% understand what is covered, at what rate, for how long and what (little) is required to be dropped.

      In terms of “awareness”, that’d be a more accurate comparative measure.

      And to build on Joe’s Nissan analogy, if any traditional marketing plan had to both build awareness of a vast range of purchaser-specific details AND do so against the head winds of a lavishly-financed counter-marketing campaign … “The new Altima is a death trap! What Nissan won’t tell you!”, “Stop the grannie-killing Altima before you’re its next victim!”, “The new Altima, more expensive than a Rolls Silver Wraith*!” … how confused would the “average consumer” be?

      That said … will this Keliher guy ever shut up and let someone else post around here?

      • Sure. But part of the difference here, too, is that I — and I suppose Reinan — believe this is a topic of relative significance. Not as important to many people as their next car — not as fun to think about — but it, you know, matters and stuff.

        • Look, I think every campaign could be better. I suppose Apple might have moved even more iPads with a tweak here and there. I’m just saying that ACA is facing a bona fide, well-organized, well-financed counter-campaign (much unlike a routine commercial product like a car) and has since the minute Obama decided to go for it … and that that explains something, if not a lot, about why people are “confused” or not properly “aware”.

          The fact that anyone would even suggest there are people out there who think this is supposed to be “free” is proof of the extraordinary misinformation campaign.

          Also, as someone with two young, healthy children with typically lousy employer-purchased health insurance, each of them may well be better off — in terms of both deductible and coverage — buying it through MNsure, with federal subsidies — than keeping what they have.

          They of course have been interested enough … to ask and learn for themselves.

          • I should add that the subsidies aren’t worth all that much to my two weasels, but the $150 additional monthly tab — buying outside their employers’ crap coverage — would more pretty quickly pay for itself with much lower deductibles.

          • Yeah, but again, “Fewer than one in four Americans has gotten any information recently about the health care law from a doctor, a health care organization, a federal agency or a state agency.” A counter-campaign doesn’t prevent a doctor or a state agency from giving people information. We’re not even getting far enough down the road to be talking about effective persuasion, here.

            • And have these consumers ASKED for information from … yadda yadda?

              Point being … the exertion of making even a minimal attempt to be informed seems kinda non-existent — with the insurance most of us have AND with what ACA is bringing. And latter is clouded by misinformation asserting that this new idea is so complicated, so clumsy, so misguided, so brain-dead wrong no one can understand it … or should.

            • I hear you. But really, if you asked me if I “had gotten any information recently” from anyone about Coke or Nissan, I’d say no, because that sounds like people handing, beaming or mailing me stuff. But that doesn’t mean I’m unaware of Coke or Nissan. Likewise, I wouldn’t say I have gotten stuff about ACA, but that doesn’t mean I’m unaware of it.

              But it is true that 19% of of Americans think that the ACA was either repealed by Congress (12%) or revoked by the Supreme Court (7%). (Another 23% say they don’t know the status). That might say something about the lack of ACA marketing, but I think it says a whole lot more about constant efforts to kill ACA and the confusion all that noise has caused. The marketers at Coke and Nissan face nothing close to that.

            • I got a letter from my current provider (BCBS) just last week informing me that my current plan is grandfathered in, and that I don’t have to do anything in order to continue with my existing coverage, although it also told me that i should feel free to investigate MnSure, and told me how to do so.

            • PM &n Mike: Obamacare isn’t the only big government health insurance program with a marketing problem …

              Chart of the Day: Public Ignorance About Medicare is Really, Really High

              —By Kevin Drum
              | Thu Sep. 12, 2013 11:22 AM PDT

              Here’s your Medicare myth of the day: It turns out that a majority of Americans believe that retirees get about as much from Medicare as they pay in during their lifetimes. Or maybe even less.

              As it turns out, this is precisely the opposite of the truth. The best estimate out there suggests that a single male will pay $60,000 in Medicare taxes over his lifetime and receive $170,000 in benefits during retirement.1 That’s a 3:1 benefit ratio—and the numbers are more favorable for women and way more favorable for couples. Medicare is just about the most amazing bargain imaginable. Most of us don’t come within a country mile of actually paying for all the care we get.

              It also turns out that when you ask people why Medicare costs are rising, they rate fraud and poor management at the top and new technology at the bottom. The truth, again, is just the opposite. Medicare has some fraud problems, but they’re fairly modest. It’s basically a pretty well managed program. New drugs and new treatments, however, are responsible for nearly half of the increase in Medicare costs over the past few decades. It’s the #1 cost driver by a ton. Adrianna McIntyre has the details here.

              What this shows, once again, is the power of right-wing ideas in American discourse. After years of misleading the public about death panels and waste and taxes, the public pretty much believes it. Medicare isn’t welfare; we paid for it! Costs aren’t rising because we all insist on the latest and greatest treatments even if they don’t work; it’s lousy management! Welcome to conservo-land.

              1Since this always comes up: yes, this is adjusted for inflation and investment returns. From the report: “The ‘lifetime value of taxes’ is based upon the value of accumulated taxes, as if those taxes were put into an account that earned a 2 percent real rate of return (that is, 2 percent plus inflation). The ‘lifetime value of benefits’ represents the amount needed in an account (also earning a 2 percent real interest rate) to pay for those benefits.”

            • What’s it mean to be grandfathered? You get to keep a pre-ACA rate and set of benefits provided the policy doesn’t lapse? You were pro-ACA. It’s sort of incumbent on you to let your policy lapse so you can get a new one. All in.

              I checked my paystub. $1054 a month to cover two adults and two minor children. I remember being sold the idea that ACA would reduce premiums by $2500 for a guy like me. Not happening. Is that bad marketing or misinformation?

            • Erik, you’re too smart to make an argument like that. You know that the medical inflation rate has been about twice the general inflation rate, long before Obamacare. That’s why your premiums have been increasing, not because of the infancy of Obamacare.

              The task is to bend the upward cost curve. No model – pure private, Obamacare/Romney care, or single payer – is going to make health care spending go down.

            • To clarify, I don’t think my premiums have increased because of ACA.

              The President at one point argued explicitly that premiums would go down.

          • As an adjunct to the marketing discussion…

            I’m quite at peace with an additional layer to the safety net. However, we were told ACA would cost less money individually and as a whole, and we were told it wouldn’t damage commerce and the employment market. Neither of those were true, and it was foreseeable enough at the time, on its face, that it provided a reasonable basis for being against the ACA. You know, because we were being fed a line of baloney. Yet this resistance was ‘marketed’ as unreasonable, and we were shamed as bad people for being against the ACA.

            The ‘marketing’ problem seems kind of silly. It isn’t what it was sold as.

        • You don’t get the subsidy if your employer offers ‘affordable’ insurance. Most employer plans will probably be deemed affordable, or be modified to be so.

        • ACA does not provide for an option of the employee taking the subsidy on an exchange plan if their job plan qualifies as affordable. Just sayin. So what we have here is obviously a marketing problem or extraordinary misinformation.

        • ACA does not provide for an option of the employee taking the subsidy on an exchange plan if their job plan qualifies as affordable.

          • ACA and MNsure allow you to bail on your employer’s plan — even if it is deemed “affordable” — but if it is, and you do, you are not eligible for the subsidy. Not qualifying for the subsidy means losing approximately $1/month in my kids’ case.

          • Thats what I said

      • Yes, I couldn’t help but notice–A Keliher sighting!! Several weeks ago Austin, now this. Life is so confusing.

  6. I agree it’s an important topic, and a fun one. Thanks for throwing it out there.

    As I read this Harvard Business Review article “Why Most Product Launches Fail,” I’m reminded that: 1) private sector product launches frequently fail, not just the public sector and 2) a lot of the factors HBR lists as making failure more likely are very much issues for the ACA/Obamacare launchers.

    http://hbr.org/2011/04/why-most-product-launches-fail/

    For lots of reasons, this is going to be a messy year. But I’m not convinced the biggest reason for that is that the public sector morons have botched what the private sector geniuses would have nailed.

    As for ACA support, after years of attacks and misinformation, it’s pretty amazing to me that only a third of Americans support the Republican positionl – http://thesamerowdycrowd.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/republican-spin-doctors-misdiagnosing-obamacare/

  7. Speaking of marketing, have you ever noticed how Obama’s signature is obviously subliminally promoting the Muslim crescent and star symbol?

    • Meh. Most people understand the President is a closet atheist. Probably bugs you guys more than it does someone like me, that he won’t come out.

      • Oh I get it, he’s an atheist who joined a Christian church, regularly quotes the Bible and says he prays daily. That makes perfect sense. Evidence of atheism? Who needs evidence when you possess the power to see deep into people’s souls.

        • He’s posturing. Bill Maher himself has made this observation.

          • Who knows his heart? But of course he’d have to posture. They all have to for you who believe God takes sides in bloody skirmishes, Manifest Destiny and economic trends. You think Reagan was anything but a sentimentalist when it came to religion? Never went to church. It’s the easiest sort of pandering there is, sanctimonious deity dropping. And may God bless the United States of America.

            • Maybe so, but this is certainly a new variant of that religiosity posture, where the President isn’t even a real believer. That’s quite a bit more inauthenticity than Reagan’s.

          • Erik:
            Bill Maher has an agenda, and his observations on this matter are not necessarily truth. Why would you give this particular observation of Bill Maher such credence? Surely you do not believe everything Bill Maher says, do you?

            • Well, I don’t ‘agree’ with hm. He’s repugnant.

              His commentary provides insight into the internal conversation of the obnoxious misanthrope left however. Which is a substantial portion of Democrat voters. And his words on the subject were basically that he would be disappointed if the President actually believed in God, and as that he could not possibly be that dumb, the President must be an atheist.

        • Obviously, I don’t have the ability to see into his heart. It’s just that there’s a conflict. If he actually believed in the sky-god, liberal Democrats would have to acknowledge an intellectual flaw and lack of intelligence. And that can’t be. Alternately, we’re left to presume his faith is a posture.

          • Just tuning back in and haven’t followed how all the challenges of marketing healthcare has left our perception of it hopelessly muddled.

            But how is whether or not Obama is an atheist at heart relevant to anythng–other than his or any other atheists’ political aspirations? I imagine an avowed atheist would have a tough time in political life. But I admit to missing a gap or two in this conversation. Joe Loveland’s 2:48 comment above was tongue-in-cheek (I’m sure).

            • My tongue took us off track. Sorry all. I just was looking at that photo of the signature and the star and crescent in the “O” were just so obvious to me.

            • Right, you were basically trolling.

            • Which is odd right? You’ve decried the incivility of the back and forth at SRC. And what is flattering to you, is you have one of the more empathic writing tones generally around here. Yet you can’t resist an urge to break out the snark and say ‘boy teh conservatives are dumb”, and see it acknowledged and affirmed in the comment thread.

              Whats the deal Joe?

            • My Bible doesn’t have a chapter 2, verse 48 in a book of Joe Loveland.
              What the heck kind of cheap Bible is this?

            • Ellen–Along with Loveland’s adventurous tongue and your imaginative interpretation of my reference to “2:48″—oops, wait a second this isn’t sounding right….

            • Joe: I think we can safely refer to Obama’s signature on anything as “The Mark of the Beast”.

            • And you’ll also notice that the “O” in the signature is also meant to be a 0 (zero), communicating to all Godless liberals that 0bama believes there is no God and he is indeed the atheist all liberals demand their leaders to be, or at least Bill Maher.

            • That is as indisputably true as the fact … “fact” I say! … that any atheist is less moral than any avowed church-goer. History alone is proof enough.

            • Great article. Thanks for the link.

            • PS: Crowd at its best. From the marketing of Obamacare to “can we be morally responsible in the absence of a higher, a-priori power?” all in the same post!

              Loveland’s wayward tongue started it. Nice work.

            • That’s a compelling enough read. She asks though, ‘why are atheists reviled?’ This isn’t a difficult question to answer. It’s the high correlation to obnoxious misanthropy. Atheists are haters.

            • Has anyone made a called to the irony police?

            • They’re swamped. Actually, you should call the mortician. Irony’s been dead since they gave Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize.

            • Perhaps a self-awareness seminar for Erik the lover.

          • Erik:

            there are all varieties of religious people in this world. Only some of them are biblical literalists. The Pope, for instance, has no problem with evolution and science. Not all scientists are atheists. Sure, there are conflicts between religion and science, but there are conflicts between all sorts of beliefs that all sorts of people (yourself included) hold. Very few people are completely internally consistent in all of their beliefs, and those who are tend to be rather boring and uninteresting.

            • You wrote: ‘why are atheists reviled?’ This isn’t a difficult question to answer. It’s the high correlation to obnoxious misanthropy. Atheists are haters.

              So, according to you, atheists are hated (reviled) by religious people because atheists are haters.

              Do you not see the problem with this logic?

            • Back up, you’ve taken it too far afield. Not “hated by religious people”.

              You just have to acknowledge or not whether atheists have a reputation as obnoxious misanthropes. They do have that reputation.

              As for ‘haters’. That’s just a street / stylish way of saying the common atheist riff on believers as stupid people is exactly that. It’s a hater riff. They hate on believers. That’s their thing. It’s obnoxious.

            • No, not hated by religious people? I’d say you hold them in pretty low esteem, assigning to the “inauthentic American” status. I only get from atheists that they resent having your dogma imposed on the civic lives. Seems authentically American to me. Ask a pilgrim.

            • Erik:

              can any atheist be as obnoxious as Bradlee Dean? Or Terri Jones (who was caught with all of those kerosene soaked Korans recently)? Or the Westboro Baptist Church?

              Sure, there are plenty of obnoxious atheists out there (in my experience, most of the obnoxious ones are former theists who are particularly bitter about their experience in organized religion), but really, the worst thing that they tend to do is to tell believers that they are stupid/wrong. Well, religious believers have been doing that to each other (and a whole lot more, including crucifixion and selling members of other religions into slavery) for centuries. When did you get to be so sensitive?

            • PM, with the comment of the week. Winner.

            • PM, you’re right, at a minimum, to a great degree.

              What I brought into the thread here was the answer to the gal’s question, “why are atheists reviled?”. I say, because of their obnoxiousness.

              I get what you are saying. If I am to ratchet down the absurdity here, I will just say I am bewildered at some of the people who become standard bearers on the left. They are really unappealing, in my mind. I am sure the reverse observation is very easy to make…

      • Erik:
        tell me what you think of this piece:

        http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/09/one-simple-premise-root-every-obama-conspiracy/69395/ ;

        So is Obama not an American because he is an atheist?

        Certainly lots of people think that atheists are un-American….
        http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/09/fox-news-host-atheists-dont-have-to-live-here/

        So, do you think Obama hates America?

        • At times, I will venture to admonish those I encounter who engage in the right’s rhetorical excesses. I told a good friend I will not read that trash The Turner Diaries. I chided my dad for recalcitrantly not listening to his libertarian instincts on gay marriage. I once gave Bradlee Dean a dirty look as he busked people from his table in front of Walmart.

          But yes, I do think the President’s worldview lacks American authenticity, and that his atheism may very well be a component of that. To me, big thing is rather than the Muslimism or the atheism, he comes from the academic left, where they can’t stand America and the American middle class.

          • Perhaps you could do us the courtesy of defining some of these terms and concepts you’ve picked up elsewhere: “American authenticity.” Just what do you mean by that phrase?

            Who told you that the “academic left” can’t stand American and the American middle class?

            Who do you think is actually destroying the disappearing American middle class, the academic left?

            This all reads like something undigested that you’re merely regurgitating here.

            What is un-American about atheism?

            • Does this site offer a glossary of grandiose verbiage, or at least a translation into basic English?

              I blame Austin.

            • “LEARNING, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.
              LECTURER, n. One with his hand in your pocket, his tongue in your ear and his faith in your patience.
              ACADEME, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.
              ACADEMY, n. [from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught.”

              from: http://www.thedevilsdictionary.com/?A

              what is unAmerican about football?

            • Well, now I know who Bradlee Dean is. Great.

            • yeah. isn’t learning great?

              and to think some invited him to open Mn legislative sessions with prayers…

            • How very authentic of them.

            • Good old populism strikes me as an authentic Democrat platform. Authentic = good, I guess. But I could use to pick a better word than ‘authentic’.

              What the lefty academics and policy wonks ply has a creepy blend of Veblenism and Malthus. They don’t want to lift the middle class so much that they enjoy material prosperity. The President comes from that school. That ideology is not a mainstream perspective, and is easily asserted as ‘un-American’.

            • I don’t know what you mean to say with that pedantic short hand. In fact, you write like Veblen, deliberately arcane and opaque. But, who could argue with his clearest, most popular and endearing concept–“conspicuous consumption”? What would he make of the dedicated un-ironic popularity of “Downton Abbey,” one wonders. He’d probably shoot himself as everything against which he seemed to rail is now embraced as a “good.”

            • That should’ve read: “Most ENDURING concept,” not endearing.

            • I read that and thought that “endearing” actually worked pretty well…

            • You pretty much got my gist Jim. I think consumption is good.

              So you’re a Downton Abby hater? Because it paints to rosy a picture of gilded age class / labor exploitation, something like that?

            • Erik, I’m not an ostentatious man. But, in general, I’m happily unburdened with the means to pull it off without over leveraging myself.

              As for “authentic,” my unsolicited advice is to avoid using it when referring to people and their American-ness. Used that way, it’s just good ol’ bigoted nativism. Like the populists upset that an Indian-American woman won the Miss USA or America crown, I forget which. Apparently in their big-print book of monosyllabic American qualities, she came up shy of authenticity.

        • Okay. While we’re still on this side road, sort of, to anyone out there still following along. Anyone.

          If you knew for an absolute fact there is no God. No afterlife. This is it. Here we are and at some point early on know we’ll die, how would your lives change? Would they at all? Your behavior? Your attitudes? Your values? The way you raise your children? The way you relate to others…?

          Anyone?

          (I don’t think this has much to do with the marketing of healthcare insurance plans. But you must admit they’re just not that sexy.)

    • If you turn it upside down and drop acid it reads: “Believe this and you might as well be Danish.”

  8. Marketing-wise, this is the big picture of what is happening:

    A cigarette executive once said, privately, “Our product is doubt.” Doubt is the product being marketed by the Obamacare opponents.

    “Maybe some people will pay more. Maybe someone will be told ‘no.’ Maybe granny will be unplugged? Maybe the Exchanges won’t work? Maybe it will fund illegal immigrants? Maybe it will force people to have abortions? Maybe it won’t be free? Maybe it will be free for ‘those people.’ Maybe it will cast my doctor out into the streets?

    Marketing doubt is a much easier task than marketing a complex insurance product, because it requires no evidence. “Hey, I’m just posing the issue.” You can be gentle selling doubt. You can sound helpful.

    And it’s effective. “Well after hearing all of that now I’m confused, and more skeptical. If even only half of what is being said is true, I’m scared. Where there’s smoke, there must be fire.”

  9. That’s a Koch-brother “Americans for Prosperity” ad. Try this one, as well. Which propaganda techniques do you find being used?

  10. Vague, foreboding fear. What else? Hope?

    • Health insurance is a right of passage. For young people, they get it when they attain their first adult job. ACA would have to really disrupt that process, and it doesn’t disrupt in that way.

  11. It’s like you’re all honestly trying to convince each other of something. Your commitment and stamina are commendable.

    • Well, I am not certain that any of us actually think we will “convince” one of the others…but there certainly is (on my part, at least) an interest in trying to understand and explain.

      Call it communications, if you will.

  12. Strib editorial on Nicollet Mall: it didn’t seem so absurd once I read it.

    Also, the writer uses the word “authenticity”.

    • Nothing wrong with the word. Perfectly serviceable. I had a problem with your yoking it to “American,” without making the effort to define your dubious-seeming phrase.

      • Often the issue comes down to who does or does not get to define what “authentically american” means. I agree with the point Jim made above that far too often those definitions are used to exclude people, to define them as un-American. Frankly, excluding people in that fashion is the really unAmerican action.

        One of the best things about America has been that the definition of American has included so many people who were defined out of other countries.

        • I agree too, the word is charged, inasmuch as people think it speaks to a xenophobia. But the point being made is not expressed with any xenophobia. I think you have to stretch to bring xenophobia into the discussion at all. The idea is supposed to be that academia’s anti-abundance and anti-American exceptionalism is goofy, and is at odds with American tradition and social norms. So far as the Democrats have a sizable contingent of voters and pols who hold this view, it’s a valid critique.

          Context is everything though, and if that word grates on people I or others are remiss not to try a different way of arguing it.

          • First, I accept that you are not using it as an expression of personal xenophobia, racism, etc.

            But, others do use it exactly that way, and specifically target the President in that fashion.

            I think that you can make your point (that the President supports policies that would lower consumption levels and hurt economic growth, and is not a believer in American exceptionalism) (I think I got those right–let me know if I did not) in such a way that we can debate its validity without getting bogged down in charges of racism, nativism, “American authenticity”, etc.

            Part of the problem is that certain “cultures” (Fox News is one) simply ignore racism and racist connotations deliberately, because it helps their ratings among their demographic (old white men). The same is true for many Republican politicians.

            FWIW, I happen to disagree with your two premises.

            On the first, i think that the President has clearly proposed expansionist fiscal economic policies, and the GOP has instead forced thru spending cuts instead (can we spell sequester, anyone?). If what you are trying to say is that the President does not support tax cuts, I would argue that tax cuts really don’t lead to increased consumption levels, particularly when tax rates are already so low.

            On the American Exceptionalism side, I think this whole thing is rather suspect:

            http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2010/11/the-big-lie/180117/

            http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/robert-schlesinger/2011/01/31/obama-has-mentioned-american-exceptionalism-more-than-bush

            http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2013/09/16/obama-always-believed-in-american-exceptionalism.html

            I think that the President is clearly a believer, well inside the mainstream of US public opinion.

            • Re American Exceptionalism. He’s …. posturing.

              No, just kidding. This is kind of a semantic / contextual argument, and it’s a weaker one for me to argue. I give it up.

              As to expansionist, this can not literally be true given the evidence. We have a declining labor market. People are leaving the workforce and full time jobs are not being created. We have / had stimulus and QE, but we do not have easy money. QE in particular is nothing but a liquidity function for the banks and the govt. The administration does not have a growth agenda in any way that can be discerned.

              There is bipartisan agreement on the benefits of corporate tax reform, except the President is insincere. If he cared about growth he’s get it done and not use it for negating leverage for something else.

  13. Those ads are simply shameful. They are part of the same shamelessness of the Republicans and the 1%, sometimes one and the same, in mistreating people. Shamelessness is not a virtue. It’s despicable. Like the Kochs.

    Are any of you following Sister Simone’s tour? The issue of the very wealthy being completely out of touch with the rest of the population is a large part of her message. Romney was a perfect example of the vast ignorance of the 1%.

    What they are doing here is simply un-American, unchristian, and undemocratic.

    I am far beyond angry, outraged, and frightened by their shamelessness.

  14. Here is an excellent summary of recent polling on the Obamacare issue. As usual, Chait says it much better than i can….

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/09/what-the-new-obamacare-polls-reveal.html

  15. Hard to believe the unions are so gullible to ‘misinformation’. Or is it the poor marketing.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/09/12/1238454/-AFL-CIO-adopts-resolution-criticizing-part-of-Obamacare

  16. Apparently I should be calling it the Affordable Care Act (ACA) instead of Obamacare…..

    http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/republicans-like-affordable-care-act-more-than-obamacare?ref=fpa

  17. Come to think of it, I just was giving a very compelling piece on Obamacare, but it came from Star Tribune cartoonist Steve Sack rather than a doctor, insurer or marketer:

    http://www.startribune.com/opinion/223554021.html

    • I think that’s just a side benefit. The rationale for opposition remains the taxes, increased premiums, and euro-sclerosis / economic stagnation.

    • That’s what 90% of their presidential campaigns are about. But from a straight marketing perspective … they do have a very deep pool of gullible rubes.

  18. Watch these ads–they really are funny, if totally misleading. And i think that they perfectly illustrate Brian’s point that the marketing/selling of the ACA is facing oppositional headwinds….

    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/09/creepy-pap-smear-ad-latest-effort-stop-obamacare/69607/

  19. Another creepy crawler from the Koch-funded Generations Opportunity.

    • Oh sorry, I didn’t notice that PM’s link went to this ad. Sorry for the redundancy.

      • By the way, what makes nauseating, irresponsible ads like this much more likely is the legalization of contributor anonymity. I can’t imagine a publicly visible corporation who would be willing to put their name on this, but self-policing goes out the window with anonymity.

        Can you imagine “Paid for By Target Corporation” at the end of this ad? Of course not, because Target would face a backlash that would damage their reputation. But it’s easy to imagine learning that Target contributed to a conservative super PAC like Generation’s Opportunity, just as it contributed to the conservative PAC backing Tom Emmer.

  20. Here is a great article, and while highly ironic, i think it is also highly accurate:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2013/09/republican_party_s_obamacare_crisis_the_logic_of_the_president_s_health.html

    Basically, the author suggests that the GOP is currently facing the same, identical “adverse selection” problem that the insurance industry was facing, and that the best solution to this problem is the same solution that the ACA is based on–expand the base.

    The GOP’s problem is that the primary voters are so conservative that any hint of moderation could lead to a primary defeat. But this is causing the GOP to lose elections wherever there is a large (population) constituency–most large state senate and gubernatorial elections and even in some congressional districts.

    This is the same problem that plagued the insurance industry–if you require insurance companies to cover sick people, costs will rise and healthy people will leave, and then try to get coverage only when they become sick (adverse selection). In the same way, the GOP’s increasing concentration of older conservatives is driving away moderates and younger people.

    The ACA solves this by mandating coverage and giving subsidies–forcing the base of people with insurance coverage to expand with carrots and sticks.

    What is the GOP going to do to expand its base? What can the GOP learn from Obamacare in order to survive into the future?

    • Your structural objections are mostly fair I think. But it is specious this idea that Kill would be more noble plying his trade in a market where his responsibility is less and he is paid less. He may be getting more than $1 million a year, but I doubt his motivation is money per se. People endeavor to work in as great a venue as their talents will allow, and Kill is qualified to be a Division 1 football coach. It’s ridiculous to suggest he go back to coaching high school football.

      It’s very unlikely say that in men’s amateur ball Joe Mauer would get foul tipped by the kind of fastball that could give him a concussion. Still, it would be ridiculous to suggest he’d be demonstrating more judgment and wisdom by playing amateur ball instead of MLB. He’d be absurdly overqualified. As Kill would be coaching high school football.

      • My point is that the jobs are different–in D1 college ball, the position of coach is exploitative of the players/”students”, and the coach is the one doing the exploiting (along with others). There are all sorts of negative externalities with that kind of a job that are not present coaching at the high school level.

        If you will, he is letting his ambition/pride/hubris get in the way of his judgement. As a coach, he knows what is going on, and can not plead innocence or ignorance.

        I understand that few people are willing to take principled stands like that, but i will reserve my respect/admiration for those who do.

        • This is something else then, something like “the industry is so functionally corrupt that, a normal person wouldn’t want to be associated with it.”

          With respect to college football, that’s not a mainstream view. It’s a very radical view. And it’s hard to fathom why Kill’s epilepsy makes it more acute than for someone who is very healthy.

          • I think that it is entirely disconnected from Kill’s epilepsy. Two separate and unconnected issues.

        • Negative externalities? What are they?

          I’m casually familiar with this argument about big time college sports. It’s very much a lefty academic argument. It’s just kind of silly insofar as it argues for a system so removed from the one we’ve got, while the one we’ve got has mainstream popular support. People like college sports.

          • Sure they do. They also like pornography and drugs and….well, the list is long.

            Colleges and universities are supposed to be in the business of educating students. Many of them are really in the business of sports entertainment, and educating students takes a back seat to ensuring a highly ranked team. Thus, we have poor graduation rates among “student” athletes, Jan Gangelhof’s, etc.etc. Seriously, D1 Football schools have become the minor leagues for the NFL (and did you know that the NFL is a nonprofit organization?).

            Bread and circuses, man.

            • Yes, exactly. This ain’t Fordham v Yale in 1922. This is big business. Nothing more. Increasingly difficult for life-long enthusiast like yours’ truly to try romanticizing it. All spectacle. It’s troubling but the way it is. A former NFL player writing 40 years ago, long before the NFL became the megalith it is today, and the inexplicable preoccupation of zillions with fantasy football, already was calling the game the opiate of the masses. Little did he know….

            • I know. And I probably had 5 associate professors who looked just like David Foster Wallace, with the pony tail and Harry Potter glasses, make that argument in class over the years. IE, “What does it say about our priorities that the college football program is blobbedy blah blah while everything else is underfunded blobbedy blah blah.”
              It’s true as far as it goes, but it’s not worth spending more than 5 seconds contemplating. Sports programs are a very important marketing engine for schools, and you are not going to change that with a utopian argument like the one you’ve embraced. They are a social norm, not grey-market like porn.

              Kill’s salary merely reflects that he is the executive of a fairly large enterprise that is only partially concerned with field play.

            • Wait a second. Porn isn’t a social norm?

            • This is a total digression, but speaking of David Foster Wallace, just read Karen Green’s stunning elegy in the aftermath of his suicide. Pretty powerful (for Wallace fans out there).

        • Heck, I’m sorry to have missed what not only appears to have been some lively banter with Jerry Kill as main character but seems the conversation got so rowdy it was tossed out of one post-the journalistc license of “Souhan”, only to end up in another–“Healthcare”. You guys…!

          Anyway, so if I follow, you’re suggesting a D1 coach is “exploitative” and the young players who choose to participate are allowing themselves to be used against their will? (Sort of like young women who enter the porn industry. Are their “gifts” exploited by their bosses? Or are there women who really enjoy the work? Or is it both?) Therefore Jerry Kill’s dedication to his profession and his willlingness to confront a serious disability to sustain it is not only disengenuous,complicit in the corruption that characterizes big time
          college athletics it’s kind of stupid?

          • Well, this is the thing. The old argument was that these young men are essentially used and undercompensated while they are on the sports team. Then they graduate, often with no degree, and their university is then not interested in their welfare.

            ON THE OTHER HAND…. A lot of young men, by virtue of their athleticism, get admitted to colleges they would not otherwise qualify for. And they get to play in an excellent men’s sports program, which is a very exclusive experience. And meet a world of people they would not otherwise meet. This probably outweighs the supposed exploitation.

            Really, this is as much about the jealousy of academic and sports departments that are not nearly as well funded as the football and basketball programs. As if they would get all that funding if the football and basketball programs disappeared.

            • bertram jr–Yeah, that sort of thing has a way of staying with you doesn’t it? Sends a shiver. Whatever the cause of death, among other chatacteristics he will be remembered for those seizures. Thanks for sharing it. (I didn’t picture you as a hockey player. How off one can be in imagining the “reality” behind online personalties.)

            • Sure, no one goes into this with their eyes shut. Rules of the game. Kids, sufficiently skilled to perform on that stage on a Saturday afternoon with 10’s of thousands in the stadium watching, and on TV with millions more–it’s the fulfilment of the dream. They feed the program that’s directed by the AD’s and coaches–the bosses. A mega-biliion dollar business. Just like a huge corporation, often corrupt in their own way, except the characters, sets. locals and audience are different. Same goals. Make money. That’s achieved by winning.

          • Devilish, aren’t we?

            Look, the system takes in a bunch of naive kids with big dreams and no real hopes and uses them to make lots of money for the coaches and universities from the TV deals and then concusses them, tears them up and spits them out, often without any serious education or preparation for later life. A tiny percentage go on to the majors (NFL), and a tiny percentage of those will have multi-year careers and become heroes an wealthy. More will end up trying to subsist by selling autographs or hanging out at casinos (hopefully getting paid for it). Many of the biggest stars end up busted (OJ Simpson anyone?)

            Think about it seriously and ask yourself how many of the participants in this system really are well served by it. And all so we can sit around on a Sunday and be exposed to Coors Light commercials.

            But, excuse my rant. (I’m not a lot of fun to be around on a Sunday afternoon!) I just think it is all a colossal waste of time.

            • Love your devilishness (new word?) PM. Yeah, this sentiment shared my many and truthful. The whole system just reeks of hypocracy. But as long as mutual needs are fulfilled–players, institutions, feeding an insatiable audience, it not only sustains itself, it’s proliferating. Conference realignments, cable networks, social media, talk radio. all feeding it. Heck, it’s the American way of free enterprize suceeding. No?

  21. Bertram was at one time a walk-on hopeful for a D3 hockey school.

    He was assigned a roommate from some farm town in central Minnesota. Said roomate was epileptic and had random seizures, usually at night in his bunk, a mere 4 feeet from mine.

    Terrifying.

    I happened upon his obit several years ago. No cause of death mentioned, he was around 32, maybe 33.

    I always wondered about the epilepsy.

    • What is the relevance of this anecdote? You would appear to be no more enlightened as a man in his 50s than you were as a callow freshman. Your roommate’s epilepsy was a hardship for you. Even his death was a burden on you. You are the subject of the entire post. The narcissism is palpable.

      • What is the relevance of your post, Jim, other than as an ad hominem attack? What are you adding to our pool of knowledge? To our sense of community? To the discussion here?

        Seriously, are you always an ass?

  22. Hey, Austin:

    Back in your days with Eagleton, did you run into Nick Lowery?

  23. Well, PM, you and your man, Bertram are acting like a couple of bigots judging Kill’s worthiness as an epileptic of pursuing his passions. From the safety of your anonymity, the two of you peck out your disapproval of an epileptic coaching D1 football because it’s not as pure as you’d prefer it.

    That’s particularly laughable coming from Bertram, a man engaged in the morally unassailable working world of ad sales. Who knows what it is that you do, PM, that’s making the world a much better place. Of course, Coach Kill is a public figure and employee, and the two of you are free to rip away at him from the safety of your anonymity. Souhan, to his credit, uses a byline and takes his lumps.

    I can imagine that Coach Kill himself has his criticisms of the system in which he operates. Most of us operate within imperfect systems and do our best within those constraints. The shortcomings of the NCAA doesn’t mean Kill’s a man to be denigrated because he’s coaching in it and has epilepsy. And that’s the x-factor here, the fact that he has this condition and you and Bertram don’t find it seemly. If he’s removed or sequestered to the press box to spare your and Bertram’s delicate sensibilities from the possible sight of his disability manifesting itself, none of your noble concerns about the excesses and hypocrisies of D1 football will have in any way been addressed. Actually, it will have only sullied D1 football that much more for punishing a man doing well at the job for which he was hired because other people don’t feel entirely comfortable with his disability.

    Gotta’ tell ya’, I don’t find any of this edifying or community building.

    • Jim:

      Thanks for answering my question so promptly!

      • A year or so back Jim shamed me for being insensitive to the disadvantaged. And I felt it (…hangs head low).

        I nominate Jim to be the conscience of SRC.

        • Now, just a minute. I thought I had unwittngly and momentarily assumed that role when Mr. Lignefelder expressed indignation at my remark some time ago that his immediate reply to another contributor’s well-considered analysis (I believe the Syrian question at the time) might have been a touch dismissive and condescending.

          Damn, we’re becoming a bunch of Jr. High girls gossiping. Neat!

          • Good example, and this is the thing. As you might gather, I don’t like liberalism with its emphases on faux epistemological certitude and snark.

            Jimbo argues for a leftism that is concerned with people’s well being. The poor, those who about to get O-droned, etc. This perspective is very hard to argue with or denigrate. And its persuasive.

            I’m not even convinced he’s an atheist.

            • Hey, I’m a fan of the Crowd and any well-intentioned perspective that moves things along short of personal attacks. Interesting. perceptive authors and bright contributors, for me always worth a look.

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