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socialized medicine?
July 16, 2007
9:54 am
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cpt1212
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I am in the USA and there is talk from both sides of the aisle about the wonders and evils of socialized medicine. I am just wondering if anyone here is from a country with with such a system and your thoughts on how it works or doesnt work.

July 16, 2007
11:43 am
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hi cpt,

Would you mind defining for me the 'evils' of medicine? This will give me a better idea of what you mean. 🙂 thx.

July 16, 2007
12:02 pm
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well the conservatives say that care will be mediocre and that you will be caught in a bueracratic mess and have to wait several months for appts. and that drs. wont want to practice because their salaries will be lower and that hospitals wont be adequately stocked and that the scope of the program would cost too much to be feasible.

July 16, 2007
2:55 pm
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Hi cpt

Funny you should ask that -- Michael Moore has just added a page to his website called "Canadians Tell You the Truth" [about socialized health care in Canada].

You can read some stories about people's experience with health care in Canada at
http://www.michaelmoore.com/sicko/canadians-tell-you-the-truth/

Have you been to see "Sicko" yet? As a Canadian, I do feel that Moore somewhat idealizes the Canadian system. But our system has been under pressure for at least 20 years to adopt more Americanized methods. The general public resists the idea of for-profit medical care, but our leaders for some reason keep pushing it. (Pressure from powers south of our border perhaps?)

I am currently waiting (3 days left in a 2-week wait) for a diagnostic mammogram. I get a screening mammogram every year. Cost? nothing, I just show my health card. They called me back the next day this time for a re-do of the routine screening mammo. It cost me nothing. What will this diagnostic test cost me? Nothing. If I require further tests or surgery or treatment... guess what it will cost. Nothing, above my normal health insurance,which I don't even know what that costs because it comes off my paycheque and I don't even notice it.

There are definitely treatments and services that I could seek out and pay extra for. Some people do that. But for now there is no need for me to follow that route. I am 50 years old and there has never been a time when I worried about what health care would cost me or anyone in my family. That's what growing up with a socialized medicare system has meant for my life. I bitterly hate the thought that our system is under attack by the profit motive.

July 16, 2007
3:24 pm
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risingfromtheashes
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I live minutes from teh canadian border.

and my coworker has a GF who just had a baby.

she had a c-section and was in the hospital for three days.

NO COSTS involved.

she had excellent care.

I am in my third month...I pay 160 dollars every two weeks for my insurance.

I have had to pay $15 copays for each office visit, copays for my prenatal vitamins, but get this, I have to pay IN FULL, for my ultrasounds my doc did in the office, as standard procedure....I can no longer afford my monthly visits, because these are routine and the insurance will not cover them....but for the doctor, I must have them.

so, my monthly visits will cost $125, and when I get down to the end, where I go every two weeks and then every week, it will cost me upwards of $500.

PLUS, I have copays for in hospital care and since it will be a new calendar year, I have to start over with copays and I will have to pay my copay PLUS my deductible.

the point of having insurance?

yes, it is cheaper...BUT...I would rather know I have a wait to see a doctor and plan for it and have it cost nothing, than to have to pay out the nose.

IE - my ob/gyn back home ALWAYS had a long waiting period. I always had to book my following year appointment in advance...and if something came up, non emergency, but still needing attention, yeah, it took some time. BUT, it was excellent care, so it was worth it.

I think it will take some time to adjust to a new plan, but overall think maybe it's best.

only thing is, how many doctors will protest because they make damn good money doing what they do?

July 16, 2007
4:32 pm
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Randomwomen2
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Maybe I should live in canada. We cant afford health insurance and the Oregon health plan says that we make to much to be covered by them.

July 16, 2007
11:23 pm
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Well wait a second Kroika-

How much is being taken from your paycheck is relevant. I have 465 taken from mine monthly just to cover my husband. My employer pays 519 per month to cover me. And that's for an HMO.

I think this amount of money is crazy. I need 900 more per month to cover my three kids and can't afford it. I make too much money for our insurance programs, but I'm still looking.

somebody is paying for your health coverage. Somehow, all that medical stuff is getting paid for. Income taxes? A Canadian health insurance premium- I mean like there's only one, like maybe a national insurance carrier or something?

I've always wondered how this works, and how it's paid for.

Here in California, for example, our government sponsored health care system is suffering because of the weight of so many illegals and non-insured people- we don't have enough tax money to support the needs of the system. Not enough taxpayers, not enough tax money, too many uninsured people seeking benefits- hospitals cannot turn away an individual for lack of ability to pay.

Why are Canadians pressuring for a Americanized health care system? What is great about our system?

I know- I've tons of questions-

free

July 17, 2007
1:41 am
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cpt1212
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wow--I am so glad to see people talking about this issue. I have not watched micheal moore's film sicko yet (although i have watched others of his and enjoyed them) and i don't know if i will--my whole family has seen it and raves about it, but i want to find out for myself what experiences average citizens who live with programs like this experience before i watch something that someone is trying to sell me on.

Free, I too want to know how it is paid for. I think that medicine for profit is inherently wrong and that it shouldnt be a privelege, but i want to know what is working and where and how it is working.

I also want to add that I am an American, I have no children and I am blessed to work for an employer that offers possibly one of the best insurance plans in the country. I do not worry about health care. I have been with this company for several years and hope to remain there. I do realize however that if my employment status changes that I will be facing a much different reality. And the fact that healthcare is a privelege in a nation as wealthy as the USA, not only for the ever growing number of working poor but it is increasingly a major concern and burden the middle class. It is scary to realize that there is almost no safety net out there for millions.

July 17, 2007
3:03 am
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I'm gonna have to see that film.

From what I understand, medicine for profit wasn't a problem until a couple decades or so ago. Medicine for profit, for lack of a better phrase, caused competition- competition for patients, and this led to very good health care as patients could easily choose.

But then, lawyers got a hold of people and numerous lawsuits were filed-malpractice, wrongful death, etc, and successful, resulting in astronomical losses to insurance companies. Well, insurance companies are for profit as well, so premiums skyrocketed. An answer to skyrocketing premiums was the Health Maintenance Organizations- HMO's- designed to cut the costs of healthcare.

But healthcare cost wasn't the problem- insurance premiums were. So now we have a mess- complete mess. It's very difficult for doctors to work privately as their liability insurance is so high- and when they DO work privately, their cost to care for us is much higher than the HMO doctor who gets lower liability insurance premiums because he/she belongs to a large group applying for insurance. The private doctor can't accept HMO insurance and make a living for his/her family.

In Florida for example, a mass outflux of OBGYN's occurred as juries awarded millions to women who had children with birth defects, stillborn, misscarriages, etc- people felt sorry for the women/families and understandably so. They saw no harm in easing pain to mothers and families by awarding large amounts of money in civil suits.

Lawyers became multi-millionaires as they claimed 1/3 of the award plus court costs.

Insurance companies had to pay out.

Our premiums skyrocketed.

Our answer was the HMO, which keeps healthcare costs down.

?

Yes, we have a terrible problem here in America.

But it's not medicine for profit.

It's our legal system.

People say it's the best in the world- I disagree. Japan's is. This mess would have never occurred.

One perspective, anyway.

free

July 17, 2007
4:39 am
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Worried_Dad
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Best I can tell--it works beautifully everywhere it has been tried.

It works for patients and also for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and drug companies.

IT dovetails very nicely with Universal education.

Say you are a good student, but come from a poor family. It doesn't matter--you get to go to college, to grad school, to medical school--basically for free.

Then, say you are sick, but come from a poor family. It doesn't matter--you get excellent health care--basically for free.

At the same time, workers in countries with socialized medicine tend to get get more vacation time than Americans, and experience lower rates of domestic violence, child abuse, suicide and homicide.

The system works.

July 17, 2007
8:43 am
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Matteo
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I truly wonder how anyone who calls themselves compassionate can question the universal health care. I lived all my live in countries with universal health care; no system is perfect but I never had to pay for any kind of medical treatment, and I know that I received the best care each of those countries were able to provide, no matter how much money I had or not had in the bank.

Sure, there are people who live till they are 90 never get sick and never see a doctor in their lives, and get away with having their whole salaries for themselves without having to pay taxes for medical expenses. Good for them, but the majority gets sick at some point and needs medical care, and paying higher taxes makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense also because higher taxes cover medical expenses of those who cannot afford private insurance.

I wouldn't feel comfortable knowing that I can afford to pay my medical bills, but my neighbour cannot get the basic care for a pregnant mother, as an example. It seems though that many people simply are not moved by this sad state of affairs at all and are against any type of compassion, including universal medicare, towards those who are less fortunate financially.

July 17, 2007
12:07 pm
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risingfromtheashes
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I call myself the working poor.

I make too much money to receive any type of assistance, but too little to really call myself "comfortable".

The cost of medical care is what scares me most.

IE - our well shit the bed...we need to save to get a new one, meanwhile, borrowing water from a neighbors pump.

We have money saved so far, and BF's tooth breaks...now he needs to see a dentist and it won't be cheap.

we have to decide how to spend our savings now.

I am pregnant, I have insurance. But the copays are going to kill us. I am refusing all ultrasounds unless absolutely necessary because of the lack of coverage the insurance company claims...it's not covered and they won't pay for it.

Now, when I was poor, I had free coverage thru my pregnancy...I paid for NOTHING...I even got taxi service to my doctor appointments for free. I even got free formula for the baby. I know many counties that now give away free diapers to the underpriveleged.

Then I drive thru new york city and see many urbanites wheeling strollers that cost over $700 a pop...while others sit on their stoops, unable to even afford clothing for their new baby.

The divide is great...and it needs reform.

I would GLADLY pay extra in taxes if I got something worthwhile out of it, and no cost health care would be VERY worth it. I also agree about the education system...I think everyone should be given equal opportunities.

But knowing how greedy many americans are, I know that the ones who "have" will not be willing to shell out in order to help the system that helps those who "have not".

July 17, 2007
1:02 pm
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Well I'm compassionate (try to be anyway)
and I question Universal Health care kuz I'm afraid it might be worse- lower the care that is available. Not kuz I don't care about people. I just don't understand how it works and would like to.

Nothing is free- it's being paid for. All the doctors, lab workers, etc., have to make a living too.

Who pays for it?

Government institutions here in America are notorious for having slow, lower quality services. The staff is just overworked, understaffed, underpaid.

I don't profess to have the answers- if I did I'd make alot more money than I do, and I'm not "against" universal healthcare. I'd just like to understand how it works.

free

July 17, 2007
1:22 pm
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risingfromtheashes
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free,

I agree about existing gov't services being "slow" and lower quality.

I wonder tho, if it was free to everyone, not just the underpriveledged, would that change?

My thinking is that right now, the services are for the poor...so nobody cares if they offer "quality" service, as these people should be happy they are getting anything. Don't get me wrong, maybe I am wording that wrong, but maybe since it's a free service, only to the poor, nobody cares if it is quality or not.

But if EVERYONE received it, then the standards would be higher?

Also, it doesn't pay for a doctor to service the poor right now as most doctors are in it for profit...so, once they all receive the same pay from the same source, then that part of the equation is gone.

Also, would doctors and nurses be paid as a government employee or simply reimbursed by the government?

As a government employee, I could see the benefit a doctor would gain, in return for what they give up, in that government employees often have great benefits and retirement packages. But if they are not, then the "underpaid and overworked" theory may not exist.

I, too, would like to know the specifics of how it works...from a financial standpoint.

July 17, 2007
1:57 pm
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free,

you are correct that universal medical care *does* cost and it *is* paid for, by taxes. Everyone who can pays in, and everyone is entitled to benefits. But, with a single-payer system, *all* the money goes to paying for services and not to advertising, competing to lure customers, and duplicating things like office buildings, clerical staff, CEO's etc etc.

I had a look at my pay stub from my latest paycheque and judging from the "year to date" figures on my deductions as of the end of June, it looks like I pay just under $150/mo for combined medical, dental and extended health benefits. Long term disability through my employer is a separate deduction and is about $170/mo.

Rising makes a good point about the fate of the working poor. I highly recommend Barbara Ehrenreich's excellent 2001 book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America for a glimpse into the lives of low-wage workers.

"Sicko" is a good film for exposing what doesn't work about the current system in the US, but it isn't really a primer on how universal health care does work. I posted a couple of links on another thread here awhile ago about the Canada Health Act.

The CBC did an excellent documentary about the life of Tommy Douglas and how medicare was introduced in Canada. You might be able to view it online in a podcast or something. I'm sure there is info out there.

July 17, 2007
3:04 pm
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Yeah I know there's info out there Kroika- I'm just being lazy and wanted you to tell me all about it, lol. Easier that way.

$150 per month- I could afford that.

It's not just the working poor- I'm considered middle class and I can't afford health insurance for my kids. the "normal" stuff isn't killing me- I just worry about any kind of hospitalization. Before I got married, my husband had no health insurance (I pay 465 per month for him- medical and dental)- well he got a bad ear infection and long story short- 7 thousand dollars we are still paying on- and he didn't even spend the night at the hospital. Another occassion- he sawed his finger half off and wound up having outpatient surgery- that was 10k and he never spent the night even either.

So I worry about losing my house or something if the kids need hospitalization.

I'm a teacher- for my whole family I need over a thousand dollars a month for health insurance. It's just not doable, even to much of the middle class. That's nearly one third my take home pay.

free

July 17, 2007
9:56 pm
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OK, I'll save you a trip to Michael Moore's website today. Here's his reminder about the kind of socialized services you have in the US. So if you can get your mind around socialized fire, police, road and library services.... maybe it's not such an unimaginable stretch to think about socialized medical services.

Over to Mike: "...all of the media should start saying how much it costs to go to a doctor in these other top industrialized countries: Nothing. Zip. It's FREE. Don't patronize Americans by saying, "Well, it's not free -- they pay for it with taxes!" Yes, we know that. Just like we know that we drive down a city street for FREE -- even though we paid for that street with our taxes. The street is FREE, the book at the library is FREE, if your house catches on fire, the fire department will come and put it out for FREE, and if someone snatches your purse, the police officer will chase down the culprit and bring your purse back to you -- AND HE WON'T CHARGE YOU A DIME FROM THAT PURSE!

These are all free services, collectively socialized and paid for with our tax dollars. To argue that health care -- a life and death issue for many -- should not be considered in the same league is ludicrous and archaic. And trust me, once you add up what you pay for out-of-pocket in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, overpriced medicines, and treatments that aren't covered (not to mention all the other things we pay for like college education, day care and other services that many countries provide for at little or no cost), we, as Americans, are paying far more than the Canadians or Brits or French are paying in taxes. We just don't call these things taxes, but that's exactly what they are."

July 18, 2007
12:23 am
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Loralei
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There's no free lunch. Somebody is footing the bill.

I'm also wondering what the tax rate is in Canada and other countries who have socialized medicine. The $150/mo health insurance bill that is deducted from kroika's paycheck is comparable to what a single adult pays for theirs here in the U.S., depending on their age group of course. What is the monthly cost for a family?

I just know that in the U.S., whenever you get the government involved in anything, a huge bureaucracy develops that "governs" the program. Productivity decreases, the cutting edge of advancement disappears into apathy, and everything gets caught in red tape. Whenever the govt takes it over, quality is the first thing to go. Not sure I really care to gamble with my health that way.

I think we would be far better off if we could outlaw pharmeceutical lobbys, set caps on medical lawsuits, and perhaps audit hospitals to find out where all the money is going.

Why has the cost of health care escalated exponentially? I've heard that most people use the largest amount of healthcare during the last few weeks prior to their death. This is in reference to the elderly whose bodies are simply wearing out due to age. Why do they get sent to the hospital to live out their last days? All those last ditch surgeries aren't going to cure old age. Yet they are using the highest priced accomodations on the planet, raiding the resources of Medicare, driving up private insurance rates, etc. Instead, it would be so much cheaper to provide a hospice for the dying, just providing for their basic needs and keeping them pain free as possible and with a no-resuscitation policy. In other words, let nature takes its course.

There also needs to be a cross-referencing of patients so physicians are aware of the doctor-hopping and multiple medication prescriptions that the Medicare age group so often pulls. I have a step-mother who does this regularly because when people get old they tend to become hypocondriacs and want to try every new medicine that is advertised on TV. They go from doctor to doctor and get various medications, many of which are dangerous if combined. Medicare never seems to catch these abuses and doctors just give the patient whatever they ask for. There are also a lot of scams of "therapy" that involve getting to ride a bus to a group meeting/party and talk to someone about everything that is wrong in the world. Talk about an expensive social event that our Medicare dollars are wasted on ... under the quise of therapy.

Just getting rid of the waste, the scams, the pork barrel politics/lobbys, the high dollar lawsuits, the greed of pharmeceutical companies ... There are so many ways costs could be cut dramatically so that health care could be affordable to the regular guy. Socialized medicine is not the answer. Just clean up what we've got.

July 18, 2007
2:23 am
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"outlaw pharmeceutical lobbys, set caps on medical lawsuits, and perhaps audit hospitals to find out where all the money is going."

I LOVE IT!

July 18, 2007
2:24 am
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I think it's too logical though.

July 18, 2007
2:38 am
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Check this out.

My husband gets this gnarly ear infection. His friend is an ENT and knows he doesn't have medical insurance. So, his friend prescribes an antibiotic IV to get at the hospital- prescribes it outpatient to save costs.

My husband goes for 10 days. Registers at front desk and they send him to the ER. First day, they put him in the ER room on a bed. Nurse takes his vitals. The nurse puts the IV thingy in and he gets his I20 minutes. The ER doctor comes in, says hi and that he has to do that for procedural purposes. The next 9 days?

He sat in the HALLWAY on a chair that he pulled in from the lobby so he wouldn't have to stand and somebody (I presume a nurse) plugged him into the IV. Each day, the doctor came out into the hallway and said hi how ya doin? And left.

the bill? Showed 10 days of Emergency room use. A separate bill came from the ER doctor for 10 days at 265 a pop. Total bill: 7 thousand dollars.

For an antibiotic IV 20 minutes a day to cure an ear infection.

he tried to work it out with the hospital- this is outrageous and unfair. They sent it to a collection agency, we let them take us to court, and they won. Judge said that while this does indeed seem unreasonable, they have the legal right to charge for these services as the hallway is part of the Emergency Room. And the doctor is within his legal rights as well.

The fact that this occurred without the KY jelly (bend over and take it like a man baby!)- that is just so not cool.

This is life without health insurance. We're not poor- we have seizable assets. so we pay- whatever it is they say we must pay in order to recieve care.

it's f-ed up. I get so angry.

free

July 18, 2007
10:41 am
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free,

my situation is similar...in that nobody says "here is what your visit will cost today"...and like a dope, I don't ask.

have insurance, went to GI doc, prescribed colonoscopy and endoscopy to "rule out" any problems...tho meds were working and I didn't want procedure. Went in for testing...was put in the one day ward for half a day...get bill $1800. Turns out, once you are "admitted", and an IV is started, you are an inpatient and my inpatient coverage has a $3000 deductible. BECAUSE this was a diagnostic TEST, I figured it would fall under the scope of routine tests and procedures...with basic copays.

NOPE.

Nobody told me this...and I paid out the nose...I took it up the *** twice for something I didn't want to begin with.

Next, I am now pregnant and doc does her routine exams and pulls out the little laptop size sonogram and does a quick 30 second scan to check baby's heartbeat...sees it, and is done...TWO appointments later, I get bill, it's not covered my insurance, here's the bill - $125 a pop.

Nice to see baby growing but not at that price, no thanks. But I guess SOMEONE has to pay for that nifty little laptop machine she uses.

Anyway...I'm not conviced I get "above average care" with my HMO, so not sure that I would mind the level of care a government program would offer. I have done the "clinic" thing with my first pregnancy...it was no fun, as it was often a day long thing...but once I knew the way things worked, I planned for it and it wasn't a big deal (like having something to read, eat and drink during my waits).

Maybe becasue I am one of the ones that risk everything by not having insurance at times...I think I would support healthcare for everyone.

And I think that if it was offered to everyone and a universal system...the crap that gets pulled with people doctor hopping and such would be moderated, as everyone would be under the same program...and doctors would all be linked under the same network and system.

I think private doctors are only out to make a buck, so they don't care if they see a medicare patient and give them a presciption they don't need. As long as they get paid.

July 18, 2007
10:42 am
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"Socialized medicine is not the answer."

Socialized medicine is the answer in majority of the countries of developed world, as well in all socialist countries, but apparently, for some reason not in USA. The majority of citizens of those countries pride themselves in having welfare systems and are in favor of higher taxes and universal health care, among other benefits.

Cleaning up the mess is a step in a good direction, but it didn't occur out of blue; perhaps having the most expensive health care in the world is the result of a system which doesn't work well for the majority?

July 18, 2007
11:37 am
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Here in Austria, and in Germany, too everybody who earns wages pays a percentage of their wages into insurance. Children have health coverage if their parents are insured.

It is quite expensive, and yes, there must be a limit to which treatments can be covered by an socialized health system. And there is some abuse. But the alternative would sound very frightening to me (if you're young and healthy, and earn good money, fine - if you are chronically ill, can't earn money, well, no healthcare for you). Over here, you pay your share, and you get payed when you need it (money for the medical treatment, and for some time also refund for wages lost because you're sick).

July 18, 2007
1:57 pm
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In the U.S. we also have Medicaid, which is healthcare for those in poverty. In fact, those with the least income are afforded many benefits, from free health care, subsidized housing, food stamps and the WIC programs for women, infants and children in addition to welfare payments for the children of single mothers. There are also job training programs and educational scholarships for those with a low income. Just wanted to make sure that those of you in other countries aren't misinformed about how a huge hunk of our tax dollars are spent.

The people who struggle the most to survive are those in the lower middle class range. They make too much money to qualify for all the above benefits, yet don't have enough income to afford health insurance and decent housing, etc. I think these are the ones who could use a break.

IMO, the people who do not take full responsibility for themselves and their actions are generally the ones who wind up struggling financially. The causes of poverty in the U.S. usually stem from

1) a lack of education - public education is available to everyone through the 12th grade. You do not need a college degree to succeed in life. But you do need a solid foundation of the basics. Unfortunately, too many don't take advantage of this source and waste their time and everyone else's because of laziness and lack of ambition and personal responsibility.

2) having more children than you can afford to support. I don't care what your religion is, the rest of the country shouldn't have to pay for your decision to have too many kids.

3) becoming an addict of alcohol and/or drugs. Enough said.

4) spending your money foolishly, running up a huge credit card debt, living beyond your means.

I have no problem whatsoever helping those who are disabled and cannot be gainfully employed or the elderly. Nor do I have a problem with a temporary helping hand for those who have fallen on hard times and only need some assistance to get back on their feet. But I have little sympathy for those whose actions or inactions are the direct cause of their poverty and who are doing nothing to better themselves.

Sorry about going off on another tangent, but all of this is related. Personally, I am very much against socializing anything because it fosters apathy and laziness. I've had students who have flat out told me that they didn't need to study their lessons because when they grow up, they were just going to let the government take care of them. Whereas, if they knew they weren't going to get to eat unless they worked for it, they might have been a bit more motivated. Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. 🙂

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