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Misinformation hides the real cost of ignoring the uninsured

Monday, September 7, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:10 a.m. CDT, Monday, September 14, 2009

* This column has been edited to remove a derogatory name used to describe protesters who used tea as a symbol of their protest against federal spending decisions.

At a town hall meeting at Howard University last week, Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, literally turned his back on a young woman whose mother died of cancer because she couldn’t afford the chemotherapy.

Steele dismissed her sad tale by accusing the woman of trying to get on the evening news.

Back in July, a 27-year-old waitress with two kids and no health insurance asked Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., why she opposed the government-funded option proposed by the Obama administration.

Jenkins chuckled condescendingly, then told the woman she needed to “be a grown-up,” accept a proposed “tax credit” and buy her own insurance.

In Oklahoma last month, a woman wept as she told Sen. Tom Coburn that her husband’s health insurer cut off treatment for his traumatic brain injury. Coburn, a Republican, offered his office’s assistance, while, oddly enough, insisting, “government is not the solution.”

He added, “What’s missing in this debate is us as neighbors helping people that need our help."

That’s a beautiful sentiment. But the most distressing realization of this summer’s debate over heath care reform, beyond the cold political calculus and gun-bearing *tea protesters, is that so many appear to care so little about the well-being of their “neighbors.”

You might have noticed that among the most rabid opponents of the so-called “public option” are seniors, who would appear to have little skin in the game. They, after all, have guaranteed health coverage, even if some of them only now seem to understand that the government provides it.

I don’t consider politicians, even my own duly elected representatives, as “neighbors.” So allow me to use the thoughts of someone who is to illustrate how the “I’ve got mine, so everything’s fine” game is played.

In a recent op-ed published in the Missourian, J. Karl Miller, a retired Columbia resident, called the debate over health care reform an “overly emotional catfight.” Shades of Michael Steele!

If that weren’t insulting enough to the tens of millions of his “neighbors” who have no insurance, Miller compared reform to “maintaining an automobile.” Health care in America, according to Miller, is purring along like a new Lexus and only requires “preventive maintenance — oil changes, tune-ups, new tires and, in some cases, a visit to a repair shop.”

In an attempt to convince readers that this callous analogy is one shared by his “neighbors,” Miller cherry-picks from a recent poll that found that more than eight out of 10 Americans who have insurance are happy with it.

More like “happy to have it.” What Miller neglects to point out is that, according to the same poll, seven of 10 Americans also believe “major structural changes are necessary to reduce health care costs or provide insurance coverage to all Americans.”

Sounds to me like it’s Miller who’s in the minority.

He also bemoans the “cavalier treatment” of the costs associated with the public option by trying to pass off a recent op-ed in Investors Business Daily as a “bipartisan study.” The only thing remotely bipartisan about it was that one of the authors once identified himself as a Democrat; he’s now a member of Minnesota’s Independence Party.

More to the point, the “study” was little more than polemic constructed around carefully chosen facts about the increase in Medicare costs. While those facts — Medicare spending went from $5.1 billion in 1968 to $436 billion in 2007 — will surely catch your eye, they are the rhetorical equivalent of a shiny object.

The truth is that, in the last two decades, Medicare has been much better at reining in costs than private insurers. As Jacob Hacker, of the Center for Health, Economic & Family Security at the Berkeley School of Law, explained in a 2008 policy brief, Medicare’s annual rate of “excess cost growth” — the per capita growth in health care spending compared to per capita growth in income — fell from 5.6 percent from 1975 to 1983 to 0.5 percent from 1997 to 2005.

Meanwhile, between 1996 and 2004, excess growth for the nonelderly, 97 percent of whom rely on private insurance, was 3.4 percent.

The proverbial wheels come off Miller’s thesis when comparing cost per beneficiary. Thanks in large part to the administrative expense of looking for reasons to deny coverage, a practice known as “recission,” spending by private insurers was 37 percent higher per beneficiary than under Medicare. “(N)ot only has Medicare more successfully restrained the rate of increase of per enrollee spending,” Hacker explained, “the rate of growth is also on a steeper downward trajectory under Medicare than under private insurance.”

Miller’s intellectual dishonesty is fairly common these days, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone. He is, after all, a senior, not to mention a retired Marine who, along with Medicare, receives taxpayer-funded health benefits through Veterans Affairs.

In other words, Miller is what the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman calls an “insider”— someone who has good insurance and receives everything modern medicine can provide. As Krugman pointed out, under our current market-driven insurance system, “insiders” benefit partly from the exploitation of “outsiders,” the uninsured.

Or, as some of us like to refer to them, our neighbors.

Brian Wallstin  is a Columbia resident and a former city editor for the Missourian. He is currently living without health care coverage. E-mail him at bwallstin@gmail.com.


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Comments

John Schultz September 7, 2009 | 12:34 a.m.

I would be more inclined to read this piece if the author did not get sanctimonious toward Colonel Miller's recent piece, just a few paragraphs after he threw out the teabagger epithet. Anyone who wants to call their opponents by a crude sexual term gets no further reading from me. Shame on you!

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 7, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.

Insurance policy owner or not, all American citizens have far better access to health care services then you allude to, Brian.
United Way agencies, major charities, assistance programs from big pharma, $4 generics, free health clinics, emergency room treatments, church involvement, billings and collection arrangements, medical write-offs of bad debt, free municipal health care service to children and families in need and private responses to our neighbors in need all extend far beyond the government entitlement programs which Obama is trying to expand.
("Brian Wallstin is a Columbia resident...currently living without health care coverage.")
How do you survive?
There are many people just like you Mr. Wallstin.
(Ever think that paper insurance policies just creates a sense of security for some. Security based on reality, and not a piece of paper, is far better.)
Too bad people like you don't care enough about their neighbors to acknowledge that America's tier system of health care delivery systems do in fact have them covered.
I suggest we work on making this tier system better.
Obamacare will not achieve that.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 7, 2009 | 4:39 a.m.

>>> That’s a beautiful sentiment. But the most distressing realization of this summer’s debate over heath care reform, beyond the cold political calculus and gun-bearing teabaggers, is that so many appear to care so little about the well-being of their “neighbors.” <<<

This has long been the standard marching order of those parties opposing anything Obama is trying to do that does not go exactly per their marching orders. Meanwhile 40 million Americans suffer needlessly.

It must be their subversive way of trying to thin the population.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 7, 2009 | 6:36 a.m.

"N]ot only has Medicare more successfully restrained the rate of increase of per enrollee spending,” Hacker explained, “the rate of growth is also on a steeper downward trajectory under Medicare than under private insurance.”

I suspect this is more because a lot of practitioners don't take Medicare, because it doesn't cover their costs.

DK

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 7, 2009 | 9:16 a.m.

>>> I suspect this is more because a lot of practitioners don't take Medicare, because it doesn't cover their costs. <<<

Correct Mark as alot of Dentists no longer take Medicaid nor Medicare at all which forces citizens on those two plans to have to go to the Boone County Health Department,wait on lists some times over a month to get treated for severe abscess' and other emergency things needing done by a Dentist. The same rings true for Physical and Internal Medicine too.

People are dying daily from a lack of care and the Emergency Rooms can only do so much for them. There needs to be some serious reform and soon.

Maybe Obama's solutions are not the best or maybe they need some fine tuning but I do not see the Repubs nor any other party pushing something forward that will help everybody and be fair across the entire board. All we see is fight after fight when ever we look to the news. Meanwhile people continue dying and the agenda of the greedy rolls on.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 7, 2009 | 11:08 a.m.

CD,jr, says:
("People are dying daily from a lack of care and the Emergency Rooms can only do so much for them.")
People die every day. Lots of people die every day. Do you have any figures which attest to how many people die per day from inadequate/inferior emergency room care and/or the lack of free clinics, church assistance or nonprofit United Way-type health and human care service agencies?
Would people stop dying, every day, if we had Obamacare?
Would an Obamacare membership card guarantee that doctors will see you any quicker then they see you now?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 7, 2009 | 12:12 p.m.

Chuck, maybe you should go read what Whole Foods CEO John Mackey posited in a Wall Street Journal op-ed a couple weeks back. For the high crime of offering alternatives to ObamaCare, aggrieved progressives are now boycotting Whole Foods and calling for his ouster.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 7, 2009 | 12:50 p.m.

The CEO’s Blog
HEALTH CARE REFORM –
by John Mackey, August 14, 2009
While we clearly need health care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and moves us much closer to a complete governmental takeover of our health care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the exact opposite direction-toward less governmental control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:
http://www2.wholefoodsmarket.com/blogs/j...

The CtW Investment Group called on the Whole Foods Market (NYSE:WFMI – News) board to remove CEO John Mackey as Chairman and to begin the process of naming a new CEO in a letter to Whole Foods’ lead independent director, Dr. John Elstrott, yesterday afternoon. Citing the risk to Whole Foods’ brand reputation caused by Mr. Mackey’s editorial opposing President Obama’s proposed healthcare reform, CtW urged the board to take immediate action to prevent continued damage in the face of a quickly-growing boycott by Whole Foods’ progressive customer base.
http://wholeboycott.com/

--Nice move, lefty progressives....

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 7, 2009 | 1:16 p.m.

>>>Would people stop dying, every day, if we had Obamacare? <<<

You miss the point ray hat those 40 million we hear about in our nation with out health care would be able to get it.

That is the dam point here you GOP koolaid drinkers fail to realize but why should you care ray you are covered aren't you while others are not.

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock September 7, 2009 | 2:51 p.m.

John Schultz,

I agree with you, "teabagger" doesn't belong in this column. My apologies for letting it slip through -- I thought I had taken it out on my first edit last week. I'm not a fan of that word for exactly the reason you cite.

Now, whether or not that was Mr. Wallstin's intent, I can't say for certain. I can say I've seen the word used to describe tax protesters in several articles, and I wonder if folks are forgetting the "alternative" definition of teabag (as opposed to the thing you use to make tea).

But, because of that sexual connotation, I don't think it's a good word to use. It's divisive, and there's plenty of that to go around with this health debate as there is.

Jake Sherlock
Opinion Editor

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin September 7, 2009 | 5:37 p.m.

My apologies for using the term "teabaggers" when they should more rightly be called "teapartiers." I most assuredly did not have the alternative meaning in mind.

For a really good primer on what it means to be uninsured, see this study by the Kaiser Foundation:

http://www.kff.org/uninsured/7451.cfm

Per Mr. Shapiro's question, from the Kaiser study: According to the Institute of Medicine, "Having insurance improves health overall and could reduce mortality rates for the uninsured by 10-25%. The number of excess deaths in 2000 among uninsured adults aged 25-64 was estimated to be about 18,000 a year."

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 7, 2009 | 6:46 p.m.

@CD,Jr.
("...but why should you care ray you are covered aren't you while others are not.")
I've been in and out of insured and uninsured situations, throughout my life. I am usually quite good at seeing the bigger picture as a result of this. My decisions regarding the current approach to Obamacare is one of those situations.
As I've said before, there are other ways to make health care insurance policies affordable and accessible to the masses other then the "public option."
Believe me, I care.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 7, 2009 | 7:06 p.m.

@Brian:
I'm looking at the following and will travel down the rabbit hole for a bit to see where it takes me.
If the only variable for these mortality stats are due to health insurance policy holders vs. non health insurance policy holders, then it will prove that the insurance industry is doing a stellar job in getting its policy holders primo health care.
Don't you think?
http://www.unlv.edu/centers/cdclv/health...

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin September 7, 2009 | 8:04 p.m.

@Ray,

I truly appreciate your due diligence. I know it takes time to research such complicated issues. And, by the way, I realize (and I'm sure you do, too) that the mortality rates of the uninsured is, at best, an educated guess. Is it possible to really pinpoint how many people die because they don't have insurance? Probably not.

But it's safe to say that it's better for your health to have insurance than not. The central question, I think, is whether the insurance industry is the mechanism by which we extend coverage to everyone. I would argue no, given that even people who have insurance too often find out that when they need it, they are not, for some seemingly arbitrary reason, covered.

To be totally honest, I think single-payer is the only way to go. Absent that, I'd like to see health insurance reform that would do away with annual and lifetime caps; end the practice of recission; and stop insurance companies from jacking up premiums or cutting off coverage for pre-existing conditions.

I support the public option because, absent a Medicare-for-all system, I don't think subsidies and tax credits for people who can't afford the premiums would do a thing to change how the insurance industry does business.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 7, 2009 | 8:39 p.m.

@Brian:
You bring up an interesting point which should be looked at from a variety of angles.
("Having insurance improves health overall and could reduce mortality rates for the uninsured by 10-25%. The number of excess deaths in 2000 among uninsured adults aged 25-64 was estimated to be about 18,000 a year.")

1. I don't think it's having an insurance policy that solely improves health overall.
2. The claim that having more people with health care insurance policies could reduce mortality rate for the uninsured is as good a claim as saying, "if the uninsured did less drugs or had safer jobs or ate less processed food washed down by Sunny D, they'd still be uninsured but their mortality rate could be reduced."
3. Uninsured are generally more risk takers. This includes those who can afford health insurance policies but choose to not buy a policy.
4. A disproportionately high percentage of African Americans say they are without insurance. Considering that there are unique, (genetic/lifestyle), health problems among the black community, having a health insurance policy, in itself, might not impact the mortality rate among this group. In fact, my guess is that this group skews the figures for the uninsured mortality rates significantly.

Uninsured vs. Insured: 2008 Survey of Health Care Consumers
Lack of health care coverage most acute among African-Americans and Hispanics.
http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/In...
BlackNews.com:
http://www.blacknews.com/directory/black...
How far down the rabbit hole would you like me to go?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 7, 2009 | 9:17 p.m.

("But it's safe to say that it's better for your health to have insurance than not.")
Safe to say--not with me around, but I'll venture to meet you half-way with the thought that if we equate a health insurance policy as a desired item between "haves and have-nots," the have nots would want one and the haves would want a better one. I'd even venture to say that a goal could be a health care industry where the need for "insurance policies" could become obsolete, even without a "government option."
The bigger issue here is why do we focus on socialized government-run programs as the solution to "health care for all" and ignore ways to improve other health care tier venues.
Where are the ideas to bring forth a new generation of family general practitioners and other health care professionals? (How do we change "Doctor Worship?" Why do doctors earn what they earn and school teachers earn what they earn?)
What kind of partnership is government making with medical schools, the nonprofit sector, the business community and the head offices of church denominations?
What impact can we make on big pharma, the manufacturers of medical supplies & equipment and the board of directors of major hospitals and health insurance companies.
How do we address this administrations desire to protect its lawyer lobby from tort reform?
Can government consolidate and maximize its current resources concerning its bureaucracy of the VA, Medicare, Medicaid, Native American Services, CHIPRA, etc?
http://www.cms.hhs.gov/default.asp?
I do agree that the insurance business should be modified.
I don't think that Obamacare is the best way to go.
I think there are better ways to achieve a healthier America then just focusing on an industry run by actuaries.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 7, 2009 | 10:27 p.m.

I want to preface my comments with this YouTube clip, from renowned science fiction writer Harlan Ellison:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-...

Mr. Wallstin's moralizing in this column about what is essentially an issue of economic justice steams me.

Back in June 2005, I approached him with an article about the famous black sculptor, Isaac Hathaway, who left a wonderful example of his work here in Columbia.

That article is reprinted here:

With the Ghosts of Segregation in Columbia, Missouri
Two Visionary Spirits Find Rest
http://www.weeklyscientist.com/ws/isaac_...

I asked Mr. Wallstin if the Missourian would pay me for the article, and he said no. He didn't say he'd check, or advocate for pay, or any such thing. He simply said "no."

In fact, as I've since also learned, he said the Missourian pays no writer for any articles, including all of their columnists (J. Karl Miller included).

But Mr. Wallstin was being paid, and so by the same reasoning he uses against J. Karl Miller, was what the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman calls an “insider"--someone who already has the thing others want, be it good health insurance or adequate pay, and so does not empathize with those in need of same.

I went ahead and "gave" Mr. Wallstin and the Missourian the article, which is now the #2 Google hit on the term "Isaac Hathaway."

I looked upon it then as a public service, but now think of it as enabling an exploitative practice that has driven the wages of writers through the floor.

Most writers find this form of economic injustice as serious an issue as Mr. Wallstin finds lack of universal health coverage -- just watch the Ellison video.

And in an era of declining incomes in journalism, freelance journalists view the unpaid writer as anathema.

I would submit that if people were paid fairly for their work, we would have far less need for the kind of universal health care coverage Mr. Wallstin is advocating.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 7, 2009 | 11:35 p.m.

@Columbia Heartbeat
Wow. Thanks for taking me down that rabbit hole.
That trip really made my night.
Well done.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 8, 2009 | 1:44 a.m.

("Economists Craig Perry and Harvey Rosen, in a study for the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that "the lack of health insurance among the self-employed does not affect their health. For virtually every subjective and objective measure of their health status, the self-employed and wage-earners are statistically indistinguishable for each other." There is likewise no reason to assume that those who choose not to participate in employer-provided plans suffer any adverse effects on health care, much less on health.")
source and more:

http://www.cato.org/research/articles/re...

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin September 8, 2009 | 9:17 a.m.

@ColumbiaHeartbeat,

Seems to me, "economic justice" is a moral issue, so how you can address it without "moralizing" is beyond me.

As for your Isaac Hathaway piece, just because I didn't tell you I checked, doesn't mean I didn't. You also had the opportunity to say, "Well, then, no thanks." You didn't, so to complain about it now seems disingenuous and opportunistic.

When I was at the Missourian, I was paid to work with students. The time I spent on your story — not to mention it's very publication — was done in the spirit of community, something I thought you'd appreciate.

I'm tempted to compare it the coverage you received on the front page of the Missourian a couple weeks ago, which might, to some readers, also appear to have been free advertising for your web site.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 8, 2009 | 10:22 a.m.

Mr. Wallstin:

Not sure what you mean in your first sentence. I am essentially saying that anyone who won't pay their workers lacks the moral authority to pontificate on virtually any issue of economic justice, like health care insurance.

I'm also saying that you were guilty of being what you accuse Col. Miller of being -- an "intellectually dishonest insider," a person receiving a benefit -- in your case, pay; in his case, insurance -- that you are unwilling to advocate for others.

The idea that I'm being "opportunistic" by presenting this argument now -- and the comment about free advertising for my website -- almost seem like straw men.

Nonetheless, if you go back on these boards, I've complained about this very problem -- the Missourian not paying its columnists -- before. I brought it up in your case because what you were saying about Miller's column seemed intellectually dishonest to me.

That he's not paid for his columns only makes it all the more ironic -- or absurd. Guess it's a good thing he doesn't have to pay for health insurance, eh?

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin September 8, 2009 | 11:08 a.m.

Mr. Martin,

My comments about Col. Miller's "intellectual dishonesty" were not directed at his stated opposition to the public option. He's entitled to that. There's also nothing to stop him from pulling information from polls that support his position while ignoring data that refute it; or to describe an op-ed as a "study" when clearly it was no such thing. He can do it, but it's intellectually dishonest.

Col. Miller chooses to write his columns knowing he won't be paid, as do I. While I don't agree with him very often, I respect him for that. Do we wish we were being paid? Of course. Do we do it nonetheless? Yes. To complain about it seems pointless when the best response would be to not do it at all.

With regard to the Hathaway article, you apparently didn't like the terms. But you agreed to them. To blame me, personally, at this late date, especially when you have no idea whether I agreed with those terms or not but was nonetheless powerless to alter them, seems like an excuse to open up a line of attack.

If the Missourian was like an insurance company, we might have told you we'd pay you, only to withhold your check after publication.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 8, 2009 | 4:32 p.m.

You're right, Mr. Wallstin. I did stop complaining about not being paid and simply stopped writing for free for anyone but myself some years ago. I was wrong in accepting the Missourian's terms on the Hathaway piece, but I don't blame you for it and I apologize if it sounded like I was. It's why I mostly do my own thing where local journalism is concerned, and why I have written nothing since for the Missourian.

All that said, I still don't see how this newspaper's powers-that-be can, with a straight face, publish an 856-word column from a professional journalist that they did not and presumably would not pay, with this note appended to his bio:

"He is currently living without health care coverage."

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush September 9, 2009 | 11:04 a.m.

Something gets in the news - suddenly, everyone is an "expert".
It's sad that there is so much talking and not enough listening.
Remote Area Medical.
Wendell Potter.
Does anybody who commented here actually work in the health field? I do.
It's just sad.
And meanwhile we just step over people in the street, and lay down in front of the fire house when our neighbor's house burns because they happen to live outside the city limits.
It's worse than sad.
It's pathetic.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 9, 2009 | 1:00 p.m.

(Something gets in the news - suddenly, everyone is an "expert".)
I say:
Something gets in the news-suddenly, everyone has an opinion.
Apparently even you, Mr. Bush.
--------------------------------
While Wendell Potter's whistle blowing can be likened to the tobacco industry's Jeffrey Wigand, no one disputes that the insurance companies are out to make as much money for their stockholders as possible.
Gallant humanitarian efforts of RAM provide stark contrast to unchecked greed.

While there is plenty of talking and sqwalking, if Obama refuses to hear what America wants, as opposed to what he wants, then he will be destined to be a one-term president.

As far as helping our neighbors in need, I believe that as we get to know our neighbors better, those who have been beat up and used by previous neighbors might be more apt to be responsive.
You also drop a hint of concern over city limits, boundary lines or jurisdictions. Outreach and bridges can always be built. Unfortunately, the American culture has compartmentalized how we manage our affairs and that makes us less interdependent.
Simply put, we need to liaison more.
Another way to look at this is discussed by corporate consultants....
("Is bureaucracy really the problem, or is it the symptom of an environment that allows it to develop?
Certainly, our compartmentalized management style is to blame for much of it. Stable companies with developed bureaucracies tend to look at their activities through function-based eyes. There’s the marketing company, the production company, the manufacturer, there’s engineering, research. Every time one of those boundaries is crossed, there’s a toll. A turnaround company needs to see that any organization is really a system of interdependent parts.

With cross-functional management, we begin to manage a company. We’ve got to recognize that we’re running a system, and each part is dependent on another. A good operational turnaround manager will break down function barriers almost automatically.")
Excerpt taken from:
Manage the Crisis, Prevent the Fall
http://www.turnaround.org/Publications/A...
--My conclusion is that President Obama needs to be a better operational turnaround manger...

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 11, 2009 | 4:05 p.m.

For those of you still following this thread, a few facts about the reporter and his piece.

1) When the author apologized for using the term "teabaggers", he did not express his intent, only what it was not.

2) The author did not state in his apology that the copy of his piece was edited to change the term "teabaggers" to something else. Right now, where it reads as "tea protesters", it read as "tea-baggers" before. Note the term "tea protesters" is also different than what the author claims in his apology, that "they should more rightly be called "teapartiers.""

The simple fact is nowadays on the internet, the copy of someone's piece can be changed with no record of such.

3) A simple youtube or google search will reveal the leanings of people who created and promote the term "teabagger".

4) A simple google search will reveal how others comment on the author's pieces published elsewhere.

5) A simple google search should reveal, unless it's been pulled, a picture in the author's facebook profile showing a man standing on a street between two signs such that, when viewed, an arrow sign is to the left of the person and a 'negative' sign is to the right. Since this is the only picture on the author's profile, it could be assumed it's a picture of the author, and it's interpretation is that of the author's political views.
6) A simple google search will reveal an apparent review made by one of the author's students, who apparently attended a journalism class taught by the author. Just above that review is another interesting one.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 11, 2009 | 4:25 p.m.

Mister Shapiro,
I have to say, your quantity of posts here is enormous. I've only read the posts you placed here, but in just these few, I am able to find you brilliant. I'm sure the Columbia Missourian is a platform deserving of your commentary. But don't you think your time can be better spent elsewhere, where the reader base is greater and more discerning? Do you post or are you published elsewhere?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 11, 2009 | 6:00 p.m.

Mr. Nitsllaw:
Thanks for the compliment.
Have a great weekend.
-Ray S.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 12, 2009 | 8:37 a.m.

From Jake Sherlock's post here on the author's use of the term TEABAGGER: "But, because of that sexual connotation, I don't think it's a good word to use. It's divisive, and there's plenty of that to go around with this health debate as there is."

Really, Mister Sherlock? Is it the sexual connotation of TEABAGGER that is divisive? If so, how Sir?

Or is the term TEABAGGER divisive in its political connotation because it was created by, and is being promulgated by, the far left media and far left celebrities, for the purpose of denigrating and dismissing the opinions and concerns of the people attending current Tea Party rallies?

I suggest this is timely, and important. So much so, I believe it warrants a full out editorial study by the Missourian of the rallies by those people (the author's so-called TEABAGGERS) occurring today, September 12, 2009. Their sheer numbers deserve full, objective reporting.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 12, 2009 | 8:44 a.m.

I'm copying these pages after my posts because the copy of the author's piece was changed without record, and I fear any copy here, including my posts could be altered or removed without record.

I see the author just very recently pulled or changed the profile picture he'd had on Facebook for months, coinciding with my post here.

From my previous post, describing that picture:
A simple google search should reveal, unless it's been pulled, a picture in the author's facebook profile showing a man standing on a street between two signs such that, when viewed, an arrow sign is to the left of the person and a 'negative' sign is to the right. Since this is the only picture on the author's profile, it could be assumed it's a picture of the author, and it's interpretation is that of the author's political views.

I challenge the author to post that picture here and describe, what if any meaning, was intended by him.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 12, 2009 | 2:49 p.m.

Mister Sherlock,
Since the Missourian has student reporters on its staff, don't you find it inappropriate and poor judgement to allow an author to use the term TXXBAGGER?

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin September 13, 2009 | 10:54 a.m.

I hesitate to inject myself here, but:

I gave Jake the option of including the fact that i have no insurance because i believe in transparency. Readers had the right to know my status while considering my point of view. They can also take or leave a more relevant point - that i would have written the same thing if i had insurance.

Speaking of transparency, Mr. "Nitsllaw" is actually a former HS classmate of mine who harassed me on Facebook to the point where i had to block him. That doesn't mean he doesn't have something to contribute to these discussions, even if he can't see his way clear to identifying himself.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 13, 2009 | 2:20 p.m.

Brian, et al.
Please refer to my posts under this link: http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...

Also, as stated there, I am compelled to copy here:

Mister Wallstin,
Please be informed, any further attempts by you to reveal my identity will be considered by me as harassment. I have already stated my reasons for maintaining my right to privacy on this site. I respectfully and politely request you refrain from referring to any information other than what I have posted here.

Regarding any material you have published, I reserve the right to refer to it, as you're being a journalist assumes such.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 1:50 p.m.

Are any of your friends employees of Health Insurance Companies? How many Americans are currently employed by health insurance companies? How many stand to permanently lose their livlihoods when single payer passes? How much in unemployment payments will that amount to, and how much less tax revenue will there be? How many additional mortgage defaults will occurr?

How many Americans hold health insurance company stocks in their portfolios or 401ks? How much less tax revenue will be generated when these companies fold?

Do you think that's all figured into the federal budget?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 14, 2009 | 3:30 p.m.

BW:
So like the feds can do no harm when it comes to our health?
("The cost is largely borne by the federal government, which buys the vaccine from the manufacturer and sells it to the states at reduced prices. States that administer enough vaccinations to meet certain "compliance" levels set by the CDC are rewarded with grants. In some states, including Texas, parents eligible for public assistance face cuts in benefits if their children are not fully vaccinated.")
http://www.whale.to/v/hepb2.html
--Or is it just your feds who are immune from this kind of stuff from happening?

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin September 14, 2009 | 4:07 p.m.

Mr. Shapiro,

I'm not sure I understand your point, but I appreciate the fact that you're willing to offer it without resorting to the use of a fake name.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 5:21 p.m.

Hmmm. when you post a comment, you're supposed to be civil, refrain from profanities and name-calling.

But the author acts uncivilly by name-calling with a profanity, ALL IN ONE WORD, and won't express his intent, and is not required to.

Simple Ideas For Simple Minds Like Mine.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 7:41 p.m.

Hey Brian, maybe Mr Dudley can offer you some cheese like he did someone else, to go along with his whine. He's so civil, so debonair!

Hey Brian, get over it...I use a pseudonym. And I'm not the Journalist here, you are, reportedly. Play nice. Check with Jake on that as I've sent him an e-mail or two, and I'm actually cutting you a break, how grateful you are!

Hello Ray Shapiro, my Homey! I see Brian's calling you out. Maybe he'll answer you if you ask him, since he likes you because you're using your real name, allegedly. I'd like to know what Brian Wallstin's intent was in using the term TXXBAGGER. I'd also Like to know why Jake Sherlock, who I've also asked several times, specifically thinks the term TXXBAGGER is divisive?

Really, how could something like TXXBAGGER, an uncivil, name-calling profanity, all in one word, slip by an edit?

That's as credible as "theres not a single earmark in this bill".

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 14, 2009 | 7:59 p.m.

Brians:
Unless I've seen Mr. Wallstin use this offensive word in other articles, I for one must take his apology at face value.
(After all, if I remember correctly, he did not place the bagger word in quotes.
(Is "T" the new "N" word?)
Mr. Sherlock's sincerity is beyond approach.
Faux pas? No free pass. Forgiveness?
Yea. In my book, it's the Christian thing to do.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 14, 2009 | 10:07 p.m.

The most biased coverage of the September 12 Project/Tea Party Protester/Concerned Americans' Rally I have ever seen...
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/vp/3...
And after watching Jesse Jackson on MSNBC call people like Joe Wilson the guys who explain that Slavery was ordained by God and hearing David Shuster call the march on Washington as the "teabag" protesters during his interview where Clarence Page implies that afterwards people were out buying some more bullets, illustrates to me the inability for progressive lefties to realize that there's a very big segment of America which is very unhappy with the direction and lack of listening skills being exhibited by the Obama administration.
(I saw concerned outraged Americans. I don't know what anyone else saw.)
For MSNBC to promote that the massive group was nothing more then the White, Whiter and the Whitest has little merit to me when I attend Obama oriented Change in Columbia meetings and at best only two black people show up or at Jason Thornhill's 2nd ward neighborhood watch meeting where amongst 250+ residents attend and see, at most, 5 black neighbors, two of which are camera operators/reporters.
Something is definitely going afoul in this country.
I wonder how the interfaith groups are handling this...
My fear is that we're going to need them soon.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 14, 2009 | 11:11 p.m.

Ray, did you see the hysterical MSNBC segment when the first "guy with a gun" showed up outside an Obama speech and the panel's reaction? I also loved when the second (I think) such incident occurred in Arizona that they claimed it might be racist in nature, while doing a tight show that did not reveal the second gun-toter was black himself.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 14, 2009 | 11:39 p.m.

That second gun-toter must of been the real Manchurian Candidate.
The first one must of been a decoy.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 15, 2009 | 1:53 a.m.

A knowledgeable congressman has a faux pas and here's how MSNBC handles it....
("According to MSNBC’s David Shuster on Friday, South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson shouting ‘you lie’ to President Obama was racism on display.")
source and more:
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/kyle-drenne...
--I suggest watching the video....

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 15, 2009 | 6:43 a.m.

@Ray Shapiro,
I respect your opinion. I've said as much.

Note: I've already accepted their apology, and the correction by Jake Sherlock.

I did so, though, only after I pressed the fact that they needed to address the specific text change they made, w/o record - and they corrected it, with record.

That doesn't though, erase the prior behavior: that Jake Sherlock edited Brian Wallstin's piece without notation AKA swept it under the rug and sprayed some Lysol.

I also, cautiously, trust your assessment of Jake Sherlock. My original points are, intent is telling, and that Brian Wallstin won't state it proves same; and that Jake states the term is divisive, but won't elaborate.

Now, a Counterpoint,
TO: Ray Shapiro,

Did Joe Wilson "make a faux pas? No free pass? Forgiveness?" (Ray's words in quotes to me about Brian and Jake)

Ask Brian. He's the apparent and unbridled journalistic judge here. Pas Moi. Je m'appelle ne rien. I warrant no answer.

I'll note IMHO, the Congressmen (Wilson) needs to apologize to the President, AND Congress. Separately, Joe's outburst is much more unusual for a Republican, but shows the Republicans have followed Democrats down the slippery slope of poor decorum in Congress. Both parties have now corrupted in this way, as they have in others.

On a larger point, as long as THEY keep US polarized, THEY win. WE can stop the hate, and work TOGETHER.

On a separate note, Brian, if I forgive you for TxxBagger and not explaining your intent in its use, and I'll up the ante and forgive you for your inaccurately posting that I harassed you; can you EVER forgive Joe Wilson for one and one only outburst?

I've stressed before that a university of journalism should value accuracy and integrity. A newspaper involving students of journalism should value accuracy and integrity above all, otherwise what are they teaching?

A timely report: as I'm writing this, I see this Pew Research Center report pop up on Fox News: http://people-press.org/report/543/

Headline: Press Accuracy Rating Hits Two Decade Low

Excerpt:Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate.

I wonder where Jake, Brian and the University of Missouri would place themselves.

I would suggest to journalism students in search of accurate, conservative opinion, that they try the Walls Street Journal Opinion Online, here:

http://online.wsj.com/public/page/news-o...

This conservative/libertarian believes the WSJ is the most widely read conservative publication in the world. Like the Missourian, they allow for comments on their op/eds. I suggest to all interested, that they try reading one WSJ opinion per day, or week, and comments on same.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 15, 2009 | 6:47 a.m.

Amazing.

Again, the comments illustrate much more integrity than the opinion pieces. Such Upside Down Journalism.

Am I realizing now, the COMMENTERS ARE THE TRUE UNPAID JOURNALISTS AT THE MISSOURIAN?????

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 15, 2009 | 7:36 a.m.

Ray,
Far as I can see, he's not used the term elsewhere. But by his own comment, he's now GOOGLABLE by his last name and that term.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 15, 2009 | 7:42 a.m.

Ray Shapiro, et al.

Wouldn't it be interesting if unpaid journalists were secretly being paid 'stipends' by organizations like the Center for American Progress, the Apollo Aliance, or Acorn?

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock September 15, 2009 | 9:51 a.m.

Brian Nitsllaw:

I have some major issues with some of your assertions regarding the edits on this story.

First, let me state the reason that I couldn't respond to your ridiculous allegations in a timely manner yesterday was because I was taking care of my daughter, who was running a fever of 102 yesterday. I tried to do what I could from home while she was napping, but she will always be my first priority over anything that ever happens here.

Next, you state: "That doesn't though, erase the prior behavior: that Jake Sherlock edited Brian Wallstin's piece without notation AKA swept it under the rug and sprayed some Lysol."

That, sir, is a lie. I immediately placed a comment on the story and apologized for not taking that out of the story. I made a mistake, and I owned up to it. Later, when criticized that the comment wasn't good enough, I added an official correction. There was absolutely no attempt to cover anything up. Brian used a word that I normally don't allow in the opinion section, it slipped through by mistake, and it was corrected. That's it. End of story. I won't comment further on that matter.

If you want my reasoning for not using "teabagger," it's this: The word has a special sexual connotation that I really don't want to repeat here (go look it up at Urban Dictionary or Google it). Once you know what that sexual connotation is, I'm sure it will become clear to you why I find it divisive and inappropriate.

Jake Sherlock
Opinion Editor

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 15, 2009 | 6:36 p.m.

@Jake Sherlock,
Mister Jake Sherlock, I am if anything a person who values truth, so when someone erringly calls me a liar, I take it very strongly.

Mister Sherlock, when you call someone a liar, you should have your facts straight, especially when it involves your own actions.

Below is the cut and paste of your post that you claim contains wording noting that you removed the term. Can you show me that wording?

Furthermore, not only did you remove the term, you replaced it with another term. Can you show me where in your post you note that you replaced the term with another?

Also, to be clear, your posting occurred before you inserted the asterisk and it's note, so neither can be included in this argument.

Now, I refer back to my prior statements, which I still stand behind 100% to be clearly and completely true, but which to you contain lies.

You did not make note that you removed the term: You swept it under the rug. You did not note that you changed that term to another: you sprayed Lysol.

After you've shown me the wording, Jake Sherlock, I need you to explain how I am a liar, because this offends me.

(Jake Sherlock's statement, posted below between dashed lines)

---------------------------------------

Jake Sherlock September 7, 2009 | 2:51 p.m.
John Schultz,

I agree with you, "teabagger" doesn't belong in this column. My apologies for letting it slip through -- I thought I had taken it out on my first edit last week. I'm not a fan of that word for exactly the reason you cite.

Now, whether or not that was Mr. Wallstin's intent, I can't say for certain. I can say I've seen the word used to describe tax protesters in several articles, and I wonder if folks are forgetting the "alternative" definition of teabag (as opposed to the thing you use to make tea).

But, because of that sexual connotation, I don't think it's a good word to use. It's divisive, and there's plenty of that to go around with this health debate as there is.

Jake Sherlock
Opinion Editor

(Report Comment)

------------------------------------

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 15, 2009 | 6:46 p.m.

@ Jake Sherlock

I do expect to hear back from you, in this thread, and about your errant claim that I'm a liar.

Jake Sherlock: "That's it. End of story. I won't comment further on that matter."

Does an opinion editor get to errantly call someone a liar, and get to just walk away from it?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 15, 2009 | 7:24 p.m.

Brian Nitsllaw asks:
"Does an opinion editor get to errantly call someone a liar, and get to just walk away from it?"
This is based on Jake exclaiming, "That, sir, is a lie."
--In defense of Mr. Sherlock, his reply was not, "liar, liar pants on fire."
If such was the case, yes he could just walk away from it.
My guess is that he's taking care of someone else right now.

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin September 15, 2009 | 7:54 p.m.

Mr. Shapiro, Nitsllaw, etc.,

I think it's clear what Jake was referring to as a lie was Nitsllaw's accusation — easy to do when you don;t have to answer for it under your real name — that the issue had been swept under the rug. Both Jake and I apologized immediately. That seemed to settle the issue until a carpetbagger with a personal grudge decided to bring it up again. At that point, for the benefit of one person who jumped in a week after everyone else had moved on, Jake reiterated, amended and made more-prominent his apology. What more accountability could anyone ask for?

I think comments are important, but they are problematic for two reasons: To permit comments is to oblige already over-worked editors to treat the silliest provocation the same as the honest-hearted, community-oriented inquiry; and two, because if commenters can't honor the social compact and monitor the truth and substance of the commentary in their own forum, I'd just as soon go back to the old days and make them sit down and write a letter to the editor.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 15, 2009 | 9:29 p.m.

BW:
I think JS does a pretty good job handling silly provocations.
("I'd just as soon go back to the old days and make them sit down and write a letter to the editor.")
Did I not see the word "former" before your title?
RS

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 16, 2009 | 8:04 a.m.

@Brian Wallstin,
If you're going to comment on what I write, take the time to read WHAT I wrote.

I've posted what I meant by sweeping under the rug. It was not the "issue" itself, it was that he removed the term and replaced it with another WITHOUT NOTING THAT HE DID SO.

Brian, why don't you show me where he wrote otherwise?

This 'exercise' illustrates why the general public has little trust in the accuracy of journalists today.

They report and edit, and then when called on it, they resort to name calling and baseless insinuations to deflect from their actions, rather than re-examining the situation, and making a sound assessment, and state a conclusion.

The devil is always in the details. Accuracy at one point was a journalistic goal. That it no longer is has been my motivation from the start as to why I began posting here.

Also, everyone's time is precious, including mine. I wouldn't make SILLY PROVOCATIONS just to clog up an opinion comment column. We all have better things to do. My point is, if a writer and opinion editor strive for accuracy and integrity, they should respectfully and thoroughly consider critisms. Perhaps no one has that kind of time anymore in this world.

I know some of my posts here are sloppier than I'd like, but I'm not a journalist, and now I have to go and perform my real job.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 16, 2009 | 10:02 a.m.

(* This column has been edited to remove a derogatory name used to describe protesters who used tea as a symbol of their protest against federal spending decisions.)
BN:
The above worked for me.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 16, 2009 | 3:13 p.m.

Ray, you understand that insertion was made after the fact, and in response to my prior posts, which was to me a significant improvement, but a half-fix at best.

But before doin that, Jake told me he noted that he changed it, when he had not.

The first time I read the article, and then Jake's first post on it, I went back and re-read the article, looking for the term, and realized someone not only pulled the term but changed it to another, without saying so.

You may think this is a minor technicality, but when you're teaching students journalism, your practice should be exemplary, and this in my judgement is far from it.

I believe that no one would disgree with me that the reason the term is divisive is that its intention is to denigrate and discouunt the political views of what's appearing to be a significant cross section of American people, from both parties, and various walks of life. Two of my friends attended the DC gathering. They told me grounds afterwards were very clean, that trash was put in receptacles or when full, next to them. I don't believe there were ANY arrests. I'm sure that's an easy record to find. These are the people who Brian Walstin thinks warrant being called TxxBxggers, and that his intent was to have that word published, knowing full well the political and sexual connotations of the word. In other words, Brian Wallstin judges these people to have no opinion worth considering.

I hope you understand, and I think this is very important, that by making that statement, Brian Wallstin showed that he was prejudiced towards a significant cross-section of American People.

In my current job, time is $$$. The more time I spend here, the less $$$ I make. I have every incentive NOT to waste my time. I'd like to think I also have the decency to not trash well intented people.

Brian says I have grudge. If so it's against the type of articles I see that continue to polarize and "mal-inform" America.

Now, why should I attach my real name to an establishment where the words harrassed, lie and grudge, are used to describe me with no basis? It's why Brian wants my name here, so he can falsely besmirch me, and I won't permit it. Out of respect for Brian, I've held back on a few things. He should be aware of it. If not, I have even more reason not to expose my identity.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 16, 2009 | 4:02 p.m.

BN says, in part:
("Ray, you understand that insertion was made after the fact...")
Yea, I gathered as much. Chain of events.
BN continues: ("...Brian Wallstin showed that he was prejudiced towards a significant cross-section of American People.")
Or, perhaps just trying to inflame? Add to the controversy?
Defame? Hard to know for shore, regardless of what's stated or not.
The Rachel Maddow Show: Insani-Tea segment with a Ms. Cox had way too much fun with this at the expense of the tea- tax party group.
She's still in business.
(Imagine what would've happened if she also wore a cowboy hat and did impersonations of Billy Sol Hargus.)

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 16, 2009 | 7:59 p.m.

Ray, with all due respect, I respect your opinion!

I had to look up Billy Sol Hargus. I'm just not up on the esoterica. Plastic Jesus riding on the dashboard? Cool!

Imagine McCain sitting in a church for 20 years listening to a white version of Jeremiah Wright. He'd get a pass, right? You say, right to hell? I thought there was no hell in the "old' testament? Right to Hades? What a Dump!

Just trying to inflame? Actually, I think the author's contemplation to inflame himself via bourbon is, arguably, a most appropriate use of bio-fuel, but a waste of a perfectly good bottle of borbon. There's no carbon tax in that, correct? Drinks on me taking a new meaning?

Author, please note, Spirits of proof less than 100 won't ignite. Please don't waste good booze!

Txxbxgger? A hateful term from a hateful person? I'm as certain of that as will my taxes increase, the dollar tank, price of gold soar more, and the debt soar to 10 times it was under GWB.

Maddow, Matthews, Olbermann: Their contribution of new ideas matches their ratings. Is their health care pre-paid?

Why is it OK to criticize Michael Steele, Condoleezza Rice and Clarence Thomas, but not a half-white man? Eh, President Carter? Brian Wallstin? Amos and Andy?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 16, 2009 | 9:39 p.m.

Double Standard?
Political Correctness?
Infantile Embarrassment Syndrome?
Spent my early days as a liberal civil rights advocate during the 60's, 70's and voted for my 1980's peanut butter buddy, Jimmy Carter.
And now, the way this country is going, it seems that the chickens have come home to roost...

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 17, 2009 | 5:51 a.m.

Ray, I voted for Carter, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, DOLE.
-
I think Bin Laden was the last straw, so I'm sure he'll claim victory.

After 9/11, Bush focused like a laser beam on Security, and to ensure he got funding, Bush allowed the then corrupting post-Gingrich Congress to earmark away. Both sides gorged on the bore. The Treasury began receiving amazing increases in tax revenues after the 2003 capital gains tax cut. The reason we saw no surplus? Iraq and earmarks, the drug bill. Spend Spend Spend, or at least we thought.

-
Come 2008/9, the new Congress begins the real orgy. And the Great Experiment appears to be in danger of collapsing.

-

There's no longer any competition between the two parties, in both the executive and legislative branches. The right must formulate another Contract with America, return to their principles, prove that the religious right wants no real power, and take back the country for the sake of the central right majority that's always been there.

-

Regarding health care, a biography of Brian Wallstin claims he worked as a "budget analyst for the United States Air Force, where he cheerfully defended his country's right to pay $400 for a toilet seat."
And now he opines here the only solution to health care is the public option.
-

A viewpoint on polarization. Imagine if Roe v Wade never happened, and the bttle for abortion rights was fought in the state legislatures, or Congress, where it should have been decided.
How much polarization was caused by 9 people who had no constitutional right to do what they did?

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 17, 2009 | 4:58 p.m.

I just watched the Steele video.

Now I assume the agenda was for Steele to speak, and that everyone in that room traveled there to hear him. Or at least most.

Brian Wallstin does not mention this person keeps trying to interrupt his speech. How is this not an unruly person uncivilly disrupting a speech made by a public official, BRIAN? What makes you think she kas the right to do that, BRIAN? Who did the other people in the room come to hear BRIAN, Mr. Steele or this uncivil disruptor???

This did not occurr during a question and answer session, where she would rightfully be able to ask anything she wanted.

BRIAN just assumes the agenda is more important than the scheduled speaker's. Radicals always justify their means.

This is unbelievably poor journalism, in my humble opinion.

And don't show me videos of the inverse (conservatives vs a Dem). You would totally show you're missing the point. Neither side should do this.

(Report Comment)

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