Will We Forgive Amazon When This Is Over?

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From The Wall Street Journal:

It’s by now something like accepted wisdom that Amazon. com Inc. could be one of the few firms to come out ahead in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But all is far from well in the kingdom of Bezos. At a defining moment for the company, it is letting customers down.

True, all retailers are under enormous strain, and the Amazon boxes keep arriving. But the promise to ship anything to our doorstep in a day or two that has gained it the trust of an astonishing 112 million Prime members in the U.S. (a nation of 129 million households) has evaporated nearly overnight.

Weeks into America’s national experiment in only going to the store when absolutely necessary, it feels like Amazon is little better than any other retailer at getting us what we need, when we need it.

Every part of the company’s sprawling empire—from its eponymous e-commerce operation and its considerable physical retail to its market-dominating cloud services—is being tested. The fact that Amazon’s retail operations are functioning at all is a testament to the flexibility of the company’s infrastructure during a health crisis that few if any companies were prepared for.

But the crisis is laying bare the cracks in Amazon’s ability to be there for its customers when they need it most, much less to “delight” them, as Chief Executive Jeff Bezos once urged his employees to do. Those cracks include times when up to half the workers in some of the company’s facilities haven’t shown up, with some saying it was due to their fear they wouldn’t be adequately protected from coronavirus. It’s also due to Amazon’s just-in-time supply chain, reliance on third-party sellers and largely automated systems of buying and selling that were never designed to handle such a crisis.

. . . .

When parrying claims that it’s a monopolist, Amazon often cites the statistic that e-commerce is only 16% of all retail. With stores closed and delivery the only safe option for many vulnerable people, it’s clear that proportion will spike in the coming months. Reports from employees and analysts indicate volumes in Amazon’s warehouses are on par with seasonal surges around the holidays. Market-research firm CommerceIQ reported sales of toilet paper are up 186%, while cough and cold medicine sales are up 862%.

While demand for those products remains high, Amazon shoppers are unable to get many of the essential products the company says it’s prioritizing now. My search for toilet paper on Amazon yielded a jumbo 700-foot roll of commercial toilet paper in the first slot. In the second? A baffling block of text in lieu of a product image, stating that customers ordering this product after April 6 won’t receive it, so they shouldn’t bother. And everything considered nonessential takes more time than the two days Amazon conditioned us to expect.

“We continue to focus on receiving and shipping high priority products that customers need at this time,” said an Amazon spokeswoman. “Although we have more limited capacity due to the extensive health and safety measures we are taking across the network, we have begun selectively bringing more products from our selling partners into our fulfillment centers,” she added.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal


PG says some people are idiots.

Their faith in Amazon may be shattered by the company’s performance in the face of a huge world-wide pandemic that, at this writing, has infected a half-million Americans and killed over 20,000 and for which there is no proven cure. If that is the case, these individuals’ faith will be shattered with respect to almost everything else as well. PG predicts shattered faith therapy groups will pop up and participants will talk about their shattered faith in a long list of things.

Stuff happens.

As for the people who are not idiots, the fact that orders at Amazon have skyrocketed, that many of its suppliers have closed their doors per government decree and that each of its 800,000+ employees is subject to infection, sickness and death from the Coronavirus, will explain why Amazon’s delivery of some product offerings may be impacted.

PG suspects most Amazon customers are happy that Amazon is working as well as it is under these circumstances.

Is anything else working well in the US and elsewhere?

  • Military? One of the largest aircraft carriers in the United State Navy (out of a total of 11 aircraft carriers) is out of action due to the virus
  • US Supreme Court? Unable to hear arguments – 1/3 of docket in limbo
  • State and local governments? Per The Hill, “Many states, cities and counties are about to, suddenly, run out of money. Wages won’t be paid. Services won’t be delivered. Institutions will shut down abruptly. Many state colleges may fold.”
  • Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently per Politico

48 thoughts on “Will We Forgive Amazon When This Is Over?”

  1. I become more and more convinced that nobody who has ever held a real job can be hired by the news media.

  2. A point to consider in the Crisis reports about Amazon failings: Where are the reporters based?
    Which Amazon warehouse are they referring to?
    Most of the reports I see are from companies and reporters in NYC and California, whereas Amazon has warehoses in pretty every state and, luckily, *outside* the big cities that are the preferred home for the virus.

    Instead of being grateful that Amazon is working at all, they grumble that it isn’t immune to a massive boost and switch in product demand. As near as I can tell, the failing is in the supply chain into Amazon rather than within or out from Amazon. I’ve placed three mixed orders in tbe past month. Essentials take the longest, especially if supplied by independents, while electronics trinkets and supplies from Amazon LLC, arrive as timely as ever.

    Reminds me of the old saw about computers in the early days of PCs: It’s miracle enough it works at all.

    Forgive Amazon? Hah!
    The likeliest outcome is they’ll more likely boost their Prime membership by maybe 20% which is hard enough given they already have over 60% of households.

    These folks really need to cross the Hudson once in a while.

  3. Headline first, article second. There’s really only two things in here.

    1. Not everything is coming in two days like we were promised.
    2. Amazon should be able to get me anything, but now it can’t get me toilet paper.

    To both of these first world problems, Dave says, “Hard Cheese”.

    This is just clickbait. Media outlets that put out lots of clickbait just damage their reputation over the long term. The comments attached to the article bear this out.

    EG: “Better question for author: will the public trust the WSJ after this is all over?”

    and: “WSJ, get your money back for this article.”

    and: “This is a juvenile article written by someone ( and a newspaper?) with an anti-Amazon agenda. “

    They get even better. The “conversation” is at the bottom of the article. Recommended.

  4. FWIW, I purchased my daughter (who reads paper) the latest V. Roth book. Ordered April 7th. Delivered April 11 (USPS). 4 days. Perfectly adequate service.

  5. More like “countless thousands profoundly grateful to Amazon.” If not for them I would have a hard time persuading my elderly mother not to go out for supplies, and we’re in the hot zone. The author of that article sounds like Veruca Salt on steroids. They also neglect to mention Amazon hired a HUGE number of people to be drivers to deliver all these increased orders, and helping a lot of desperate, out-of-work people.

    • Today the announced they’re hiring another 75,000 employees on top of the 100,000 alrrady added.

      • Right, and the reason they can’t quite keep up in general is because they are receiving large volumes of additional business – and the OP is trying to spin this as being BAD for Amazon. Like I said – they wrote the headline, then they wrote the article.

        • Usually, the writer doesn’t write the headlines, an editor does. But the spirit of what you said — that the writer had a conclusion, then wrote the story to fit it — that I could believe. It’s something inexperienced reporters do when they don’t have a handle on the topic they’re covering. The dopiness of the article suggests the writer is inexperienced at life as well.

          The comments, as you recommended, were great.

  6. PG, as usual, had rather milder thoughts than I.

    I trust Amazon, when they give me a delivery date, it will be there on that date, if not earlier. That trust is completely unbroken. Their delivery dates are further out now, for some things – but I know that they will honor their word, even if it was given for a third party.

    Last week, on Thursday, I started in on getting the above ground pool ready for another season. Sigh, as usual, one of the pump hoses was split… Turned to Amazon, ordered replacements – got a delivery date of this last Monday. Friday afternoon (three days before that date), I darned near tripped over the package when heading out for some essential errands.

    That same pool, when ordered from a “strong competitor” (founded by some guy with a last name of “Walton”) three years ago – it took me a week of tracking down the shipment myself – no help from the “strong competitor” – being quite nasty to the “final mile” shipper – and getting it delivered two weeks late. (Yes, I do have a trust issue – but with that “strong competitor,” not Amazon.)

    • Urk. My time sense is being lost, here. Those hoses were supposed to be in TODAY – and showed up this last Friday.

      (I blame it on the wife working from home – and I am slowly trying to get her back into “work time is over, even when you are still in the ‘classroom’.”

  7. Oh my, someone’s self-entitlement is showing … I wonder what part of the word ‘pandemic’ (and the global consequences, including everything either slowing down or shutting down) they don’t get? Obviously the bit that applies to them.
    I echo Writing Observers sentiment … congratulations PG, on your restraint.

  8. Amazon can’t deliver what’s not available, simple as that. Beyond that, my experience over a decade is, if the product’s available in stock, and I haven’t chosen the more recent innovation of electing a later delivery for a token but welcome digital dollar, I get what I ordered very quickly.

    Driver delivery as per my wife and I’s instructions (staying home seniors), hasn’t always been followed, but has turned out each time to be a 3rd party delivery service not reading the fine line instructions we include with each order; and when that has happened, Amazon has “very” patiently listened to my “elaborate” complaint, lol!

  9. It hasn’t let me down. Here in deepest rural Scotland I’m reliant on our small village ‘community’ shop for basic groceries, very occasional trips to our nearby small town for pharmacy and a few other things – and Amazon. Amazon and Amazon Marketplace have, over the past month, brought us Spanish wine, Scottish gin (!) wild bird seed (we have a big garden with lots of nesting birds and feeding them is one of the pleasures of lockdown) potting compost, print cartridges and a heap of other things that would be hard to get anywhere else at the moment. The hair clippers for my husband to cut his own hair are coming this week and there are plants coming later on from a small garden business trading on there. Frankly, I’m in awe of Amazon, its delivery drivers and our lovely local postman Steve in the face of huge difficulties that have closed all but essential shops. And I assume that many small businesses such as small family run garden centres are only surviving now due to their online presence on Amazon and eBay. It amazes me that some people are so blinkered and self centred that they don’t know this. Amazon is a lifeline for rural dwellers in an unprecedented and sometimes frightening situation.

  10. Disclosure: A relative is in management at the Big Brazilian River, although none of this comment is based on any information from that relative.

    As is usual for the WSJ, the story doesn’t cover the main thing for which people may (or may not) “lose trust” of Amazon: The company’s treatment of employees, particularly Mr Smalls. There’s actually a horrific “two cultures” problem at Amazon, reminiscent of what I saw at the Pentagon more years ago than I should admit to. The infrastructure side of things is relatively relaxed and relatively collegial; the performance side of things is… not. The former doesn’t just tolerate questions, but demands them; the latter can’t spell “question” if given the first six letters.

    I’m actually surprised that the WSJ‘s well-known anti-union animus didn’t trumpet Amazon as a bastion of nonunion workers. But then, that’s precisely what Mr Smalls was in the news for… because if you actually know much about the history of organized labor, unions were initially formed more in response to needlessly dangerous working conditions and other management abuses and only took up the pay-rate flag later. The best way to avoid unionization has always been to treat employees with respect and listen to them, but that’s, umm, not consistent with the WSJ‘s view of Joe the Plumber.

  11. I just saw this (too much Netflix’ing I guess? LOL)
    I’m dropping this to underscore PG’s quoting of The Hill.

    If you aren’t watching ‘Rising’ on their website (or YouTube) you’re really missing out on a program that genuinely tries to have on dissenting voices regularly. The hosts are Left and Right, but don’t snark @ each other, instead try to find common ground. They’re both anti-corporate, and constantly critique Main Stream Media with deft analysis.

    I’m only reading the NY Times now (after a 5 year layoff) b/c they’re only charging me 5 bucks a month. And TBH, after the long layoff, I have to say that the quality of writing has really, really slid.

    Give Rising a shot if you’re already not doing so. It’s a great program. OK… I’ll make this really easy! LOL:
    Good luck to us all.

    • I’ve been checking out THE HILL on youtube for a while.
      Their left tilters are *really* left, philosophically, but not raving like the MSNBC crowd.
      So far the Hill seems fairly rational for quasi socialists.
      And their anti-establishment bias isn’t hypocritical in the reports I’ve seen.
      Mostly they need to accept Sanders was never going anywhere and neither is his philosphy. The country is too wealthy to buy his “solutions”.
      They also need to start tracking tech development. The coming disruptions aren’t going to favor their views. (Robots, robots, robots.)

      • Maybe I’ve not been following US politics closely enough but exactly what is Sander’s philosophy? The only thing I remember is “Medicaid for all” which to a European does not sound at all radical (though my American doctor daughter-in-law has explained the problems with Medicaid to me, what’s on offer seems just to be a somewhat unspecific attempt to provide some kind of universal health care, which British conservatives and right wingers in general would take for granted as part of a modern civilised society).

        • Sanders is a Democratic Socialist by his own terms. I’ve been following him since the 2016 campaign, although I supported Tulsi Gabbard with donations. Sanders has been working towards a more equal United States since the 60’s (there’s film of him getting roughed up by the cops at a civil rights demonstration).

          Sadly, the United States has the greatest income inequality in recorded history, which is for the most part caused by the rampant financializtion of the economy since the 1980’s.

          Unfortunately, Sanders is more of a messenger than a politician. He does not have the killer instinct to challenge his opponents on their greatest weaknesses, and ultimately kowtowed to the Democratic party.

          So now, the Democratic nominee is a cognitively impaired wheeler dealer who is running against a sitting president who I believe has narcissistic personality disorder.

          As an ex-pat (moved from NYC to Canada in the mid 80’s) I watch events with mixed feelings. Pity and frustration, frankly.

        • Many American conservatives know universal health care means everyone can get treatment. However, they recognize a modern civilized society is not limited to achieving that by any one single method. Nor is it wise for any modern civilized society to simply accept any method that claims to meet that objective.

          I suspect British conservatives and right-wingers know that, too.

          • I fail to understand what you mean by “Nor is it wise for any modern civilized society to simply accept any method that claims to meet that objective,” when there is a plethora of functioning systems that do exactly that?

        • Try this: Sanders is a leveler.
          He promotes a *forced* one size fits all solution: when he says “medicare for all” he means “medicare and only medicare” for all. He openly admits he wants to outlaw all other forms of medical practice, except maybe for rhinoplasty.

          In other words he isn’t just proposing boosting the service for the few million without guaranteed medical coverage (a lot of “uncovered” still receive medical treatment as needed) but also reducing the coverage enjoyed by a few hundred million. This includes many middle class people who get medical coverage as a job perk, especially the unionized, who *bargained* for what certaintain art apparatchiks termed “Cadillac Health Policies”, often as a trade off against other potential perks. These folks would be getting downgraded and they number a lot more than the uninsured.

          Check this:

          Two things the promoters of Government-mediated medicine prefer to wave off is that government-set prices are more often than not lower than the actual cost of providing those services. Doctors and hospitals balance the books by raising charges on health plans who pass on the charges to their customers. Also, hospitals are by law required to treat the uninsured. They then bill them. Many if not most don’t pay. Again, the cost is transfered.

          Which is to say, medicare is a hidden tax on the working and/or their employers.
          As the NYT pointed out, medicare forces providers to work for below today’s cost, which can only be achieved by assembly-line treating more patients or by reducing fixed costs: equipment and staff primarily.

          As is, a portion of the medical establishment has been transitioning away from third party payment (health plans as well as medicare/medicaid) and moving to a subscription model (known as concierge or boutique practice) where they cover fixed costs and a certain baseline level of care for a fixed annual fee. This allows them to avoid assembly-line patient loads, work reasonable hours, and actually provide better, more responsive care to their patients. Some even do house calls, a retro practice that is virtually extinct. The practice has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since Obamacare kicked in.

          In other words, the more doctors and hospitals are pressured to adhere to government pricing, the more they move to purely private direct funding, creating an even bigger divide. Note that for many people, subscription medicine is cheaper than health plans. It isn’t just for tbe rich. Even when it isn’t cheaper, the quality is better.

          And that is why “medicare for all” requires “only medicare for all”, and doing away with patient and doctor choice. That is a non-starter for any self-supporting folks, which is to say most workers, entrepreneurs, and their families. For all the talk of the raw numbers of uninsured, the politicians and activists don’t give a thought to the raw number of happily insured and the actual percentages of both. There’s 330Million people out there. 300M are covered reasonable well to very, very well. That is strong resistance.

          (As for countries with “universal coverage”, how universal is it when the wealthy can buy faster, better care by traveling? They’re just disguised forms of two-tier medical systems. Medical “tourism” is a very lucrative business in the US, taking care of the wealtby from countries with “universal” systems. Some animals are always more equal.)

          • As for countries with “universal coverage”, how universal is it when the wealthy can buy faster, better care by traveling? They’re just disguised forms of two-tier medical systems.

            I think that’s the two-tiered system the modern civilized society we see in the UK has. Unacceptable to Sanders.

            • Of course not: levelers aren’t interested in improving conditions at the bottom but rather degrading it at the top.Hence the push to punish the successful, regardless of how they became successful.

              The Soviet Union relied on them: they’re people tbat don’t mind doing poorly…as long as nobody is doing better.

              Fact is, all systems are (at least) two tier systems.
              Even in Cuba, the top party brass gets different/better care than the masses.

            • The UK’s system has always been two tiered in the sense that private hospitals and private insurance existed – and still exist – parallel with the NHS. At times the private sector has come under attack from the extreme left, typically using slogans about queue jumping, etc (basically the politics of envy) but more recently all sides seem to have realised that there is much more mileage in pushing improvements in the NHS rather than worrying about a small private sector.

              As a user of the system the great advantage is the lack on financial worry. My reading suggests that many Americans are concerned that a major health problem could drive them to bankruptcy even if they have decent insurance (what with co-pays, unexpected bills due to using out of system staff or facilities, etc.). My wife had a heart attack just before Christmas, so four days in hospital, another two after Christmas, two ambulance rides and four stents fitted and lots of drugs: total cost £50 for two taxi rides plus parking fees.

              I’m not suggesting the NHS lacks faults – it has many and managing it is a thankless task: frequently the health minister pushes the lever and nothing happens (this may be a feature rather than a bug). Nor is it the only way to provide universal cover: Germany’s health system has a totally different organisation (I think entirely insurance based, though the insurers are heavily regulated) but I don’t think it suffers from the levelling down that worries you.

              • The leveling down often results in what Americans would consider a long wait for services. For example, Canadians frequently cross the border to get treatment now rather than later.

                Universal coverage is poorly defined. Universal coverage can be offered where people have to wait a month for an MRI, or universal coverage can be offered where people get one the next day. Both are universal, yet the level of service is very different.

                There is definitely a faction in the US that wants to limit what people can get in an effort to make sure everyone gets the same.

                So, universal really tells us little about expected experience under a system. The details matter, not the labels.

              • When I was growing up, Puerto Rico had a two-tier system by design. The public option was government owned and operated with dispensaries, municipal hospitals, and district medical centers. Plus private hospitals in the bigger cities. And doctors in private practice.
                The public system was staffed in part by young doctors who’d accepted a government tuition in exchange for a certain number of years working (at low pay) at the pulic facilities.
                And yes, there were waits to see the doctor, waits to get tests, waits to get meds. But everyone had a basic level guaranteed. Those that could got health insurance but most didn’t bother because they could always go to a private hospital or doctor at choice or need.
                The health insurance companies operating locally were few and small.
                The system worked for decades…
                …until folks chose to vote for a governor who promised essentially ObamaCare: government funded health insurance for all.
                Three decades later, everybody is acquainted with co-pays, deductibles, and long lines for bureaucrats to process their subsidy applications (unless they have private health insurance which has grown a lot more expensive). Plus long lines to see overworked doctors, get tests, etc. Because the state no longer helps fund the next generation of doctors.
                Oh, and the state government is bankrupt.

                ObamaCare before ObamaCare.

                Mind you, quality is still good but as the government squeezes payments to providers there is a steady exodus of doctors and nurses up north. Where they also have a shortage and pay more.
                The insurance business is booming. Or it was until the government admitted it couldn’t pay all its debts.

                A little bit ahead of the curve there.

                Others will follow soon enough unless the real problem is addressed: more doctor and nurses. Population goes up, providers don’t.

                Its pure supply and demand.
                A lot of fooling around with funding models, when the real problem is the limited supply and the training costs.

  12. I think before we debate details on healthcare, it would be a good idea to establish parameters. F’rinstance:
    – should everyone in the USA have access to quality healthcare regardless of income? (Yeah, I tossed in ‘quality’ b/c that term is open, but I’ll go w/ Persig’s exploration for now).

    In the nations that are doing this well, (UK and Canada and Australia, based on my personal experiences) they’ve pretty much solved the problem. Each system is different, yes; but I know in Canada (and I’m pretty sure the UK) their single payer systems were initiated as a single payer, w/o a 2nd tier. Now, both nations have evolved from that starting point and are currently much, much more robust than the current US model (better outcomes across the board).

    The author and great thinker Anand Giridharadas in an interview made the observation that a universal health care system becomes a unifying aspect of a society. Even w/ all it’s flaws, it’s something the society shares. He also pointed out that it would be an incredible shot to the real entrepreneur spirit that the USA has in spades: employers would find it easier to hire b/c of lowered overhead cost per employee, workers would have a better sense of security.

    I believe that universal health care is a more patriotic thing to do, and should have been presented that way. You know, that whole ‘E Pluribus Unum’ kinda thingy. That ‘We The People’ sort of aspect.

    Regardless of my own take, the question the USA needs to address remains: Should all Americans have access to quality healthcare regardless of income?

    • Outcome in one nation vs another has much to do with how each country measures and classifies things.

      For example, in the US every live birth is counted in determining infant death rate. Is the baby alive? No waiting. No delay. In the US, all premature births are registered as live. Other countries only count births after a given period of gestation.

      Various countries have different standards, and there is really nothing wrong with their standards. But we have to know exactly what they are before making comparisons. (Some European counties only count live births as those babies who survive a given period after birth.)

      Let me manage the denominator, and I’ll give you whatever results you want.

      • That.
        Plus, there are also issues of scale, culture, and complexity.
        People keep comparing a vast continental *federal* country, with anywhere from nine to fourteen major regional cultures, to small scandinavian countries. Or other mono-ethnic societies. As if one size fits all. Scale is vastly different. Problems are different. And solutions perforce have to be different.

        The NYC metro area has a bigger population than all of Australia or all of Scandinavia.
        There are more undocumented immigrants in the US than inhabitants in entire european countries. Or Central America.

        And the history and culture and evolution of the country and its systems is vastly different.
        Above all, the fifty states aren’t simple administrative units.
        They started out as independent countries and most are as distinct as separate nations.
        250 years or separate and distinct history. Some are actually divided themselves. (Efforts to splinter California, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington aren’t jokes; they are signs of unmet needs.

        It’s easy to “unite” an ethnic country but the US isn’t one.
        It’s a country of shared values and tbose values start with individual freedom.
        People will only put up with a certain amount of coercion in the name of the “common good”.
        Importing solutions may sound good and easy on paper but getting there from here isn’t. A great solution for some place else is more likely to be a disaster if thoughtless transplanted. There is tbe law of unintended consequences to consider. People will not be herded if they can hekp it and more often than not, they can.

        There are hundreds of thousands of people who earn a living in the health care industry. They won’t sacrifice tbeir well being for sometheoretical common good. Their own good comes first.

        Universal health insurance (for whatever values of quality you might invoke) doesn’t move most americans; owning a house and the land beneath it, building a nest egg for retirement, keeping as much of what they earn for *their* needs. Those things move most americans, especially those that work for a living.

        The differences are real, not theoretical, and they cut deep.
        Canada isn’t a more polite US and the US isn’t a less cohesive Canada.

        The current crisis is going to bring change but not the change a lot of pundits think.
        The differences are about to get bigger, not smaller.
        The next decade, here, is going to be very different than anybody thought or thinks.

        • I actually have a bet riding that the USA will not exist as it does today within five years, and the seeds were just planted this week w/ governors establishing co-operation zones. If you think about it, it makes sense: if there’s one thing that can be agreed on it’s that DC does not serve the population at large. Strong local governance is where most of the action is.

          The tired argument of homogeneous populations v the diversity of the USA does not hold up; Canada is pretty diverse, let me tell you: simply Google ‘Canadian Prime Minister Cabinet’.

          Now, would you answer my question:
          Should all Americans have access to quality healthcare regardless of income?

          • Define quality first.
            Also, define doctors and nurses per capita your dream requires and where they’ll come from. Especially the latter.
            Quality of service isn’t defined by divine will from above but from availability of providers. You can define anything as a human right by handwaving but handwaving isn’t going to materilize doctors, nurses and hospitals out of nothing. Given a shortage, allocation mechanisms take over.

            As to US variation, bear in mind I’m not talking just regional.
            Contrary to politician-talk, the US doesn’t have three social classes, but seven. And each has different ideas of what “quality” means.

            The fatal flaw of the geriatric left is the federalization of everything. In the pursuit of it, they marginalized their current cohort of leadership. In the current cycle they fielded 24 wannabes, only two of which had any executive expertise on their fesuke. A billionaire trying to buy his way in and a onetime major of a minor city.

            The regional alignments you think will break up the country (the russians have been waiting for it since 1995 and Rpn Goulart since the darly 70’s) are actually a rebalancing of power to the statehouses and return to the pre-Imperial Presidency days. They same people who cheered rule by decree and unelected “Zsars”are suddenly finding value in federalism when the Imperial ruler isn’t in their corner.

            The pendulum is swinging back closer to where it belongs.
            Governors doing what is best for their individual steps instead of fighting for one-size-fits-all solutions is a return to sanity, not a sign of doom and gloom.

          • Should all Americans have access to quality healthcare regardless of income?

            No. No human right can depend on imposing positive obligations on others. Nobody has an obligation to become a doctor.

            • It’s easy to decree, harder to execute.
              The “digital divide” is the same: ” Internet access is a human right! ” says the UN.


              In the meantime, millions of folks worldwide do without, while the pubdits sip their lattes in trendy cafes. (Of course, many of those are also short on food, clean water, and, yes, medical care.
              No attentionto Maslow’s hierarchies there.

              It’s easy to proclaim standards. But, who pays? Who does the work?
              What about other needs?

              Even in the US, the goverment throws billions at rural internet service to little effect. Why? Well, it costs about $6000 per mile to install even the cheapest fiber and in farm country it might take several miles to reach each customer. Pundits and government struggle.

              In the meantime, a money grubbing rocket dude is doing something about it instead of making grand pronouncements.

              Pundits: zero, engineer: one.

              Practically matters. Source and supply matters.

              Whether it be Amazon shipping speed in a crisis, like the OP, (the reason we went down tbis rabbit hole about never-never land) or other highminded issues.

            • Finally a straight answer instead of ducking and weaving.

              Now in response to your characterization of a human right, I have to point out that I didn’t call it that. To me, defining something as a human right (esp. in countries such as Canada and the US) opens the door to a tremendous amount of over-reach by bureaucracies. For example, in Canada we have a ‘Human Rights Commission’ or something similarly named. Time after time they’ve been involved in disputes resulting in ghastly results.

              In my posed question I look at health care similar to public education- yeah, pretty much a public service. Like firefighting, police work, education, etc etc. My belief is that just as accessible sewer treatment was at one time considered an impossibility, it’s now a standard. Just like fire codes.

              I believe that access to quality healthcare is the smart thing to do, and having a single payer for fundamental care is cheaper. There’s many examples that support that statement.

              • Now in response to your characterization of a human right, I have to point out that I didn’t call it that.

                Agree. and in analyzing the question, the best place to start is with basic human rights. So, since it isn’t a human right, what kind of right is it? Is it any kind of right at all?

                Seems it’s just something you want. OK. So what?

      • You didn’t address my question, instead you’re attempting to deflect, and doing a poor job.
        You can split hairs all you want over stats, I’m not going to go there. Short response re outcomes is that the average Canadian does better than the average American (joint CMA/AMA study conclusion)

        My question remains: Should ALL Americans have access to quality healthcare regardless of income? I’ll even simplify this for you: ‘Should ALL Americans have access to the same level of healthcare that’s available in Ontario, Canada regardless of income?’

        • I am answering you.
          But I’m talking practicality, not morality.
          Absent practically, idealist morality is meaningless.

          Sure, everybody should have every need taken care of for free.
          But that is not the utopia 350M souls live in, southof the 49th parallel.
          In the real world supply rules and moderates demand, thereby establishing a price. Basic economics.

          (And, not to be offensive, if universal systems were so perfect nobody would be crossing the parallel to pay out of pocket in the south.)

          Every society runs under a different social contract, each making different trade-offs. Not necessarily the trade-offs you are used to or prefer.

          In my fiction, I favor science fiction and fantasy.
          But in the real world I deal with the practical reality of THE COLD EQUATIONS. I deal with the world as it is, not like utopianists think it should be.

        • Short response re outcomes is that the average Canadian does better than the average American (joint CMA/AMA study conclusion)

          Odd that so many Canadians come to the US cor health care. And AMA conclusions? Who cares?

          Outcomes don’t measure patient satisfaction. For example, we can have the same outcome when treatment is given a day after symptoms appear, and six months after symptoms appear. Same outcome, but six months extra pain.

          Checked access for Canadians to cancer drugs regularly used in the US? Canada thinks they cost too much, so it won’t allow them. How about delay for MRI access? Delay for elective surgery?

          • Wait… you discussed ‘so many Canadians coming to the US’ which is a fallacy that is laughed at up here. Pure and simple, it’s hogwash. Are there some? Maybe, some or something, but nothing special b/c they have to pay out of pocket. There are no caravans of Canadians flocking over the border to access the US health system. OTOH, there have been caravans of Americans coming up here to access our pharmecuticals.

            I’m not going to discuss cancer treatment protocols, sorry. MRI’s I can discuss till I’m blue in the face due to personal experience. We get ‘maintenance’ MRI’s by appt a week or 2 out. That’s to monitor conditions that the family doc has flagged as needing to be kept abreast of. So your statement about these delays are not system wide by any means. So you’re wrong there.

            I’ve pointed out flaws in your statements so far, but honestly the most egregious of yours is that you’re alluding to news stories that I’ve seen and are so flawed, but dismiss the AMA. OMG that’s incredible.

            Look- it’s simple, really. Your so-called ‘health care’ system is one I look at with amused pity. And you’re more than welcome to it. When I lived in NYC I had ‘great benefits’ and saw other cops go bankrupt from medical costs. And that was 35 years ago, wayyyy before the consolidation of the industry of the last three decades.

            If you’re happy w/ your system, fine. But understand that it is by far, the worst medical system in the industrialized world.
            The. Worst.

            I’m signing off here and won’t be responding anymore. You’re welcome to your ‘networks’ co-pays, and fears of coverage after diagnosis.

            Your willful blindness is appalling. I pity your children and loved ones, I really do. I’m annoyed b/c in this non-discussion, I feel like back when I worked patrol and dealt w/ victims of domestic violence, sticking up for the hubby who broke her nose. Your close mindedness on your shattered system is pathological.

            There. I got the last word.
            I do not wish you luck. You made this bed baby. God help you in your declining years.

            • I’m signing off here and won’t be responding anymore.

              Do Canadians have to come to the US for Prozac??

        • For the record, and not to beat a dead horse, but I am not saying the current situation is ideal or anything like it. Just that the solutions the activosts keep trying to import won’t solve anything.

          A couple points that are always waved off:

          1- The US *already* has a public health care system. It is a Government owned and operated chain of hospitals in all states and territories. It is the the Veterans Health Administration.
          Most of the time it works…okay…
          It varies by location and by presidential administration.
          It hits the news quite often.

          2- There is also the Indian Health service run in coordination with the autonomous tribal authorities.

          3- No pundit or politician has yet suggested extending or replicating the VHA, either at the state or federal level. Nothing prevents California or any other state from setting up a system of their own and funding it with existing local and federal funding. Except it would annoy their campaign dobors from the insurance companies. Instead, what pundits and IdiotPoliticians™ want is for the Federal government to throw limitless bags full of (other people’s) money to existing for-profit providers, typically with poison pill strings attached, increasing demand dramatically without increasing suppliers. In fact, the attached price limitations would almost certainly decrease supplier availability by reducing the incentive for tbe young and bright to get into medical services. Or going into Concierge or Tourist Medicine. Law of Unintended consecuences has already proven tbatroad exists.

          4- As a rule, once IdiotPoliticians™ latch onto an issue to campaign on, tbey lose all desire to actually *fix* the “problem” because an open issue is more useful for campaigning, year after year after year, than fixing it and getting accolades…once. They’d rather have screaming activists they can trot out come campaign season and ignore the rest of the time. It’s like securing the borders, where a recent president laughinly said in private, “Sure, I know there’s a deal to made easy. But if we compromise and settle the issue, what do we run on next year?”

          The devil is in tbe details.
          And politicians’ self-interest.

  13. Felix,

    There are a large number of points in your comments that I could pick up on but I have neither the time nor the inclination to cover everything. However, I do think that you should be more careful when you speak of “mono-ethnic societies” as the states being used as examples of successful universal health care (UK, Germany, France, Canada…) no longer come close to meeting that criterion.

    Also, you ask where the staff are to come from. If you ever have to visit a NHS hospital you will realise that the answer is “anywhere in the world”. I must admit that I have some moral qualms about such exploitation of other countries’ health training programs – though these are partly assuaged by meeting Kiwi paramedics who can’t get work at home and have moved halfway round the world to run London ambulances. I am not though suggesting that the USA should rush out to recruit to staff a universal program, the NHS does not need the competition!

    Incidentally, this is the kind of immigration that has almost universal approval (being neither unskilled illegals fleeing poverty and war nor cheap eastern Europeans being imported to keep down wages) and does a great deal of good for race relations. Also, as Desmond observed the existence of the health service has a unifying effect on Society (currently resulting in strange rituals at 8 pm every Thursday, which do get everyone who is self isolating talking to their neighbours – at a safe distance, of course).

    • Btw, note tbat the subject of contention in the US is about tbe payment system.
      Not about improving the supply system.
      There are effective and affordable supply-side solutions to boosting availability and constraining cost growth but that is not what the fighting is over. So we have highly trained, expensive MDs treating kids with runny noses and people with minor skin infections.

      • Plastic surgery and laser vision correction are two interesting cases. Neither is typically covered by insurance in the US. But, both are thriving, and have not shown the huge cost increases of other kinds of treatment.

        God Bless the free market.

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