Hi Jay:

I am really seeing that we're even more in agreement than I originally thought, now I see that we're mostly talking about the same forces, but have different opinions about which ones are causing the most damage-

The way I see it, it's less a battle about partisan politics, than it is about corporatism, and all the temptations and corruption that all those billions and billions of dollars floating around there lead to..

and you are right, we can't just blame this on the lobbyists, you also have to look at the environment in which they thrive, they wouldn't exist unless they were getting hired by someone!

I am somewhat encouraged by some of the new policies that Obama has been putting into place, although not completely, unlike the previous administration, he has strictly set up shop with the policy of not hiring any lobbyists, but has already broken that policy with three (last I heard) lobbyists working for the White House, but has gotten waivers for them, a bit sneaky..but still that's the right direction!

and he also has set a very good rule, I think, that no one in his employ can go into the private sector for at least 2 years, his intent is clearly meant to stop people like Tom Ridge, former assistant to the President of Homeland Security, who got on TV and got everyone in a panic state over those "terror alert zones", and told everyone to buy duct tape and other home supplies, and very soon got awarded a 100K a year board position by Home Depot!!

Obama doesn't have direct control over the situation that exists in the other branches of government other than the Executive branch, so the these policies won't change the rules for the House & Senate, though

and regarding the Lewin Group, agree that cherry-picking stats is not exclusive to them, but really really bothered me about that, was that their stats were quoted by some high-profile representatives, and then when asked "Who is the Lewin group?" the answer was that they were a "non-partisan research firm", failing to mention the fact that they are wholly owned by United Healthcare, certainly not a unbiased party in this game!

Monopoly vs ogilopoly, yes, ogilopoly probably fits better, it would be theoretically possible for a new company to come along now and get into the health care business, unlike the situation that existed with the train and oil companies in the first half of the last century, when the rails and oil were controlled by select entities. A situation helped by passing new laws and regulations to limit this, but unfortunately as we have talked about, the health care industry has the opposite, the McCarren-Ferguson act makes them EXEMPT from current anti-trust laws!

and you make the good point that it is possible that if our government went in to the insurance game, it could potentially cause the collapse of the health care companies as we know them now...

They would DEFINITELY make less profit than they are doing now (and that is why they are fighting this so much with every power they've got)

But the argument against that is that the government one should be rightfully set up to be as close to self-sustaining as possible, a balance between needing to perform the function (provide universal health care) and not be a financial burden to our country, so it wouldn't be like private companies couldn't compete at all, because they wouldn't be up against another service provider with no regard to costs

So assuming for a moment that were to be possible, they don't screw up those bills in Washington, and that they were to create a public option plan that gives basic health care to every citizen that needs it

there would still be lots of people in this country who would want and could afford more than the minimum coverage, the "best" doctors, elective surgery, tests and procedures that they feel they want that aren't covered by the govt health plan. And companies that provided these plans to their employees, would be more desirable places to work. Still plenty of reason to attract the best doctors in the world to our country, still plenty of incentive to build and maintain great hospitals and facilities

it would still be a competitive environment, just now there would be a floor for people to land on, when they fall out of the "good hands" of the insurance providers...