Right Thinking From The Left Coast
We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. - Vince Lombardi

Friday, July 31, 2009

Truth to power

I know the left loves to tell us all how the rich never pay their fair share, usually right before they tell us they plan to fleece them to increase government’s power and control of our lives under the guise of some do-good collectivist right or benefit, but the facts speak for themselves. The most popular leftists/statists line these days is how the rich, and especially that top 1%, don’t pay their fair share in taxes.

Newly released data from the IRS clearly debunks the conventional Beltway rhetoric that the “rich” are not paying their fair share of taxes. Indeed, the IRS data shows that in 2007—the most recent data available—the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 40.4 percent of the total income taxes collected by the federal government. This is the highest percentage in modern history. By contrast, the top 1 percent paid 24.8 percent of the income tax burden in 1987, the year following the 1986 tax reform act.

Remarkably, the share of the tax burden borne by the top 1 percent now exceeds the share paid by the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers combined. In 2007, the bottom 95 percent paid 39.4 percent of the income tax burden. This is down from the 58 percent of the total income tax burden they paid twenty years ago. To put this in perspective, the top 1 percent is comprised of just 1.4 million taxpayers and they pay a larger share of the income tax burden now than the bottom 134 million taxpayers combined.

Some in Washington say the tax system is still not progressive enough. However, the recent IRS data bolsters the findings of an OECD study released last year showing that the U.S.—not France or Sweden—has the most progressive income tax system among OECD nations. We rely more heavily on the top 10 percent of taxpayers than does any nation and our poor people have the lowest tax burden of those in any nation. We are definitely overdue for some honesty in the debate over the progressivity of the nation’s tax burden before lawmakers enact any new taxes to pay for expanded health care.

Read that line I bolded, and read it twice please progressives. And here is the graph in case you are too lazy to click the link:image

Yeah, the data ends in 2007 (who was president as this trend materialized BTW you libs), but my guess is that as the 2008 and 2009 numbers come out, the difference will be even bigger. There is a disproportionate tax burden here, but unlike what the progressives tell us every time they open their mouth to complain about evil America, capitalism, and Bush-Hitler, it isn’t the way they want us to think it goes. If the 95% lowest income people paid 39.5% of the taxes in 2007, that number is from the IRS itself BTW, that means that the remaining 5%, the evil rich the progressives blame for their lot and so long to soak even harder, already are paying 60% of the taxes collected by the IRS. My guess is progressives would not be happy until that number was around 95% though.

Cross posted at Wasting time with Alex

Posted by AlexinCT on 07/31/09 at 01:36 PM in Deep Thoughts   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Beer of Court Jesters

So Obama has his beer meeting with Officer Crowley and Professor Gates (and, in a very dangerous move, Joe Biden).  I didn’t expect any racial problems to be solved, but looking over the reports I have to say:  What.  The.  Hell.

The four drank out of beer mugs. Mr. Obama had a Bud Lite, Sergeant Crowley had Blue Moon, Professor Gates drank Sam Adams Light and Mr. Biden, who does not drink, had a Buckler nonalcoholic beer. (Mr. Biden put a lime slice in his beer. Sergeant Crowley, for his part, kept with Blue Moon tradition and had a slice of orange in his drink.)

I have to agree with Sullum.  Crowley is the only one in the crowd with taste.

As for Obama’s selection of Bud Light, this has to rank as one of his worst decisions since taking office, somewhere between the stimulus package and the auto industry bailout. Regular Budweiser is bad enough. When you have a beer that already tastes like water, why would you add more water to it? And the less said about Biden and his Buckler, the better. In yet another example of the blatant misrepresentations for which the Times is notorious, Asimov erroneously reports that “Joe Biden, who joined the other three, enjoyed a nonalcoholic brew called Buckler.”

You will know a man by what he drinks.  Our late-lamented Lee, for example, was a Jack Daniels man.  ‘Nuf ‘ced.

Although I don’t drink very much, I tend to like a little bit of everything—I’m comfortable with Jack and I’m comfortable with Glenlivet; I can drink Guinness or I can drink Corona.  I’m happy with a $10 bottle of Rosemont Shiraz and I’m happy with a $50 bottle of something French I can’t pronounce.

The one thing I won’t drink is lite beer.  To quote Monty Python, I’d have sex in a canoe if I wanted something fucking close to water.  Forget Marxist leanings or birther conspiracy theories.  Do we really want one of “those”—lite-beer drinkers—in the White House?

This is a problem.  Come on, Barack.  I can respect your Veep for being a teetotaler (note to readers: this may be the last time I respect Joe Biden).  I can ... understand ... the Bud Choice since it’s a harmless domestic choice that won’t offend anyone and is manufactured in a swing state.

But be a fucking man.  What’s the worst that happens if you have a real beer?  You pass out drunk, Biden takes over and gets us into a war with China, India and Russia at the same time.  Is that worse than looking like a pussy on a national stage?

Anyway, an alcohol thread is a great way to kick off the weekend.  Talk about any aspect of the blessed C2-H5-OH you want.  But your first sentence should be what beer you would have with the President (remember the Secret Service will jump on you before you can throw it in his face).  I personally would have had a Guinness, while I still have to scratch to afford beer.

And possibly a hip flask in case we got into policy.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/31/09 at 11:44 AM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

I Blame Bush

What a horrible economy!  Unemployment is still rising.  And last quarter, the economy continued to shrink at a 1% annual rate.

Whoops.  Sorry.  Obama is President.  So that’s good news.

The American economy shrank at an annual rate of 1 percent from April through June, the government reported on Friday, stoking hopes that the worst recession since the Great Depression was nearly over.

The economy’s long, churning decline leveled off significantly in the second quarter, as stock markets started to recover, corporate profits bounced back, housing markets stabilized and the rampant pace of job losses tapered off. Declines in business investment leveled off, and the economy was aided by big increases in government spending at the federal, state and local levels.

“We’re in a deep hole, and now we’ve got to dig ourselves out of it, which is a very difficult task,” Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, said.

But consumer spending fell by 1.2 percent as Americans put more than 5 percent of their disposable income into savings. Economists are concerned that consumer spending, which makes up 70 percent of the economy, will not rebound as long as employers keep cutting jobs and trimming wages.

That last bit is the best news in the report.  Americans should be saving.  I’m no macro-economist but the emphasis to “spend spend spend!” seems ill-conceived to me.  I hope the savings rate continues to go up, even after the economy has recovered.  I’m living that idea myself.  After selling my house in Texas and getting backpay for the wife, we had some cash left over.  So we socked into savings rather than spend it.  I know that’s selfish and greedy, but I’d rather have a safety cushion in case things get really hairy for the 10000 household.

Anyway, I’m sure this will be trumpeted in liberal quarters and downplayed in conservatives ones (as I just did).  The thing is that there are reasons to be skeptical—reasons the libs would be trumpeting (and conservative downplaying) if McCain were President:  the growth has been driven by stock market recovery and, perhaps, deficit spending; jobs are not rebounding; these are preliminary numbers very likely to be revised downward; even during the Great Depression, there were quarters that looked recovery-esque.  That’s why even the most optimistic economists is not anticipating a real recovery until later in the year, at minimum.

More to the point, I don’t think we’ve retrenched out economic system for a long-term recovery.  Regulations have not been changed, taxes have not been simplified and governments’ long-term fiscal outlook is worse than it was a year ago.  That’s not a foundation to build on.

So, yeah, things are getting worse at a slower pace.  But you’ll forgive me if I keep the champagne corked for the moment.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/31/09 at 08:57 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

FrankenBank

It’s kind of disturbing how, just when you think Barney Frank has reached his nadir of stupid, he somehow sinks lower:

A senior House Democrat threatened banks Wednesday that if they don’t volunteer to save more homeowners from foreclosure, Congress will make them.

In a sternly worded statement, Rep. Barney Frank said Congress will revive legislation that would let bankruptcy judges write down a person’s monthly mortgage payment if the number of loan modifications remain low.

Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, also said his committee won’t consider legislation to help banks lend unless there is a “significant increase” in mortgage modifications.

That last bit may be the only smart think Frank has ever said.  There shouldn’t be legislation to help banks lend since every piece of legislation passed so far seems to make the situation worse.

The banks are trying to see if loans can be written down.  But it takes time to sort out of the wheat from the chaff, to make sure you’re writing down the loan of someone who’s in real hardship rather than someone milking the system.  And, of course, it bears pointing out that the purpose of banks is to make money, not to fulfill Barney Frank’s delusional fantasies about home ownership.

But that’s not enough for Frank.  He wants foreclosures stopped now!  Now now now now now!

Update: Of course, Barney Frank will be sure to guarantee that the hammer doesn’t fall on his banks.  What a twerp.  I especially like his defense that the bank should have been bailed out because Federal action hurt them.  Gee, Barn.  That’s something we could say about every fucking bank in America.

Update: Yet more ... honesty? ... from Frank, admitting that the public option is a trojan horse.  But we already knew that.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/31/09 at 07:01 AM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Terrorists win again…

Oh, joy. Looks like we are helping the bad guys and making it easy for them to get us. WTF? Do these people really think this was some kind of moral victory or reversal of an injustice? Seriously, what are they thinking? Our constitution was not a suicide pact as far as I remember. Anyway:

Last May at the National Archives, President Barack Obama warned that “more mistakes would occur” if Congress continued to politicize terrorist detention policy and the closure of Guantanamo Bay. “[I]f we refuse to deal with those issues today,” he predicted, “then I guarantee you, they will be an albatross around our efforts to combat terrorism in the future.”

On June 17, at the Administrative Maximum (ADX) penitentiary in Florence, Colo., one of those albatrosses, inmate number 24079-038, began his day with a whole new range of possibilities. Eight days earlier, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Denver filed notice in federal court that the Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) which applied to that prisoner—Richard C. Reid, a.k.a. the “Shoe Bomber”—were being allowed to expire. SAMs are security directives, renewable yearly, issued by the attorney general when “there is a substantial risk that a prisoner’s communications, correspondence or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury” to others.

So now the lawyers for the terrorists got Obama’s justice department – wonder if they will try to blame Bush for this too – to let their clients get together and plot their next moves huh? How great. Can’t wait for them to close Club Gitmo, bring the lot of these hardcore and brutal murderers to the US, stick them in prisons where their lawyers will make sure they get to not only talk, but actually recruit from the population, and then have these morons tell us it is not their fault that they perpetrated another mass murder attack on us.

Cross posted at Wasting time with Alex

Posted by AlexinCT on 07/30/09 at 01:24 PM in • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Finally terrorism needs to be fought!

It seems that now that the left is in charge terrorism is no longer a scare tactic by the evil right to divert attention and whip up support for expansionist empire or war in general, but worthy of a “collective fight”. Collectivists admitting collective ideas aside, it is nice to see them finally join the rest of us that saw the threat from terrorism way back when. Yeah, I am being facetious and know damn well that the change of heart isn’t because they suddenly see the threat, but because now they are in charge and will be blamed if the terrorists kill people. I wonder if they pine for the days where all they did was just question everything, attribute it to evil motives, and undermine the people in charge, now that they are the ones responsible for preventing another attack. Then again, this is Janet Napolitano, and she could be talking about those evil right wing terror groups her people warned us about - the ones that are accused of racism and hate for the black guy in the WH, as well as people in general, all because they and not feel that bankrupting the US in order to recreate the USSR here is a good deal - the real terrorists that have told us repeatedly that they mean to convert or kill us all. Even Holder now admits we have home grown radicals, but doesn’t elaborate on that much. At least the left now finally is no longer promoting the usual bull and admitting terrorism is a real problem. I wonder why they only seem to care about our security and well being when they have power though. And I wonder if others notice that as well.

Cross posted at Wasting time with Alex

Posted by AlexinCT on 07/30/09 at 05:26 AM in Left Wing Idiocy   War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I’ll Slice You

What?:

Jenny Palmer, 28, was asked for her ID at the checkout after she went to the retailer’s Derby store to buy the £1.50 item.
“I’m only two years off my 30th birthday and hardly look like I’m going to go out and physically harm someone,” she said.

“I told the checkout woman I was buying it because I was moving into a new house, but she said her screen was telling her to ask for ID. I think she could have used some common sense. I can’t believe I had to go through all of that just to buy a pizza-cutter, of all things.”

M&S insisted its employee was right to demand proof of age from Ms Palmer under the ‘Challenge 25’ policy.

Staff are required to ask for identification from any customer who tries to buy alcohol or a bladed item and appears younger than 25.

Thanks God for M&S pushing the UK crusade against knives to such an absurd extreme.  My new job will require periodic trips to the UK and I’m in terror of being set upon by vicious gangs of British thugs wielding pizza cutters.  If they knew what they were doing, they could turn the cutters to one side and beat me with them.

(H/T: Popehat and Overlawyered.)

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/29/09 at 08:38 AM in Europe and the UK  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Alternate Universe

John Hawkins has an interesting article about seven things that would be different if John McCain were President.  For once, I agree with most of it.  You really should read the whole thing but here’s his seven things:

1) Sonya Sotomayor wouldn’t be headed to the Supreme Court.  He lets on that Souter might not have retired in this case.  Personally, I think Sotomayor is about as good as we’re going to get from this Administration.  And her approach to criminal law—she squashed an appeal for DNA testing because of a technicality—is a bit troubling.

2) A smaller, but still expensive stimulus bill. We’d probably have a little more emphasis on “tax cuts”, but I don’t think the stimulus would look much different, especially if the Dems got enough votes to over-ride a veto.

3) General Motors and Chrysler wouldn’t be government owned. Or union owned.  No argument here.

4) Cap and Trade would be more likely to pass. Agreed.  McCain was and is a big supporter of cap and trade in a particularly unpleasant form.

5) Say “hello” to amnesty. I’ll disagree here because Hawkins and I have different ideas of what constitutes “amnesty”.  I don’t think paying a fine, back taxes and filling out reams of paperwork is exactly amnesty.  The argument that illegals shouldn’t be allow to become legal is a legitimate one.  But we might also be on the road to much-needed immigration reform.

6) Socialized medicine probably wouldn’t be on the agenda. This is probably the biggest reason to be sorry McCain didn’t win.  But the growing opposition to healthcare reform—firm majorities of both conservatives and independents are opposed—gives me hope.  We’re making progress on this issue, in spite of a lazy media.

7) You’d be talking Republicans down off of ledges today.  Republicans are always on ledges.  I’ve gotten a little tired of their drama queen theatrics.

I’d add seven things of my own:

The US would have immediately and stupidly jumped into the Iranian conflict. As much as people may criticize Obama for not condemning the crackdown fast enough, McCain wanted us to immediately pick sides, which would have been catastrophic for the resistance.

The US would not have sided with Zelaya in Honduras.  Not that it has made a big difference in the situation.  But I’m not sure McCain’s view of the world would have allowed him to convey he constitutional realities of the situation.

World opinion of us would be lower; the end result would be a wash.  Foreign countries love Obama.  I’m not sure it’s making a difference, since he antagonized them over their refusal to engage in Keynsian stimulus spending and global trade is declining at a scary rate.  Grant, Russia is pissed at us right now (thank you, Joe Biden).  But Russia is always pissed at us.

Sarah Palin would be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.  This is the biggest reason to be grateful McCain lost.  Not only would this ... person ... be close to real authority, neoconservative morons like Bill Kristol would be running amuck in the halls of power.  Yes, we’d be further away from socialized medicine.  But the hope of a resurgent sensible Republican Party would be shattered.  Four years of McCain might buy us forty years of bullshit.

We Would Not Be Drawing Down Our Presence In Iraq.  McCain was a very “stay the course” guy.

The birthers would all be liberal.  They’d be telling us that McCain’s birth in the Pamama Canal Zone forbids him from being President.  That, and that he “stole” the election.

Defense spending would be higher.  I’m not convinced this is a good thing, necessarily.

Feel free to add your own points.  But no points will be given for ignoring the Democratic Congress that would still be in place.

The above is mainly from a blog post I scrapped that was going to give a six-month report card on Obama.  I scrapped the post because I realized that most of what I’m disliking about Obama is actually Congress.  It was Congress that created the ugly stimulus bill.  It was Congress that mutated cap and trade into ugly law (Obama, to his credit, supported an auction system.  For all its faults, it would be far better than the political favor system Waxman creates).  It is Congress that has written the healthcare bill (Obama isn’t even familiar with parts of it).

I’ve said before that I prefer a divided government.  And on the whole, I’d rather have a Republican Congress and a Democratic President than the other way around.  Think about that list.  Almost all the positive stuff (staying out of Iran ... um ... better world opinion ... uh, somebody help me out here) would still be there but the bad stuff would be gone.  A liberal President would force Congress to be conservative.  Health care reform, for example, would be far more likely to break down the intrastate barriers to competition.

Forget McCain.  Forget the White House.  We’ve got midterm elections in just over a year.  That’s the battle that could make the difference.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/29/09 at 06:25 AM in Politics   Cult of Personality  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Dream of Rwanda

This is something so stupid it has to be seen to be believed:

Transcript:

SNYDERMAN: One other sort of tough question. Some experts this weekend have said we are looking at class warfare in the United States and you have to say those words if we’re going to move forward.  Would you agree with that?

ROBINSON: As somebody who works in this country but as a guest, if you like, I’ll leave it others to put it in sharper terms.  What I would like to suggest from a global health perspective is look at what some of the very poorest countries have done. Rwanda, a post-genocide country, has 90% health insurance cover.  I was there last September and I was there in March --

SNYDERMAN: You’re making me jealous.

ROBINSON: Doesn’t it?

Caveat time.  This is from Newsbusters (Lee once described them as the turd swirling around the toilet bowl of journalism) and the clip cuts off very suddenly.  It’s possible—in fact, very likely—that Robinson immediately noted that Rwanda is a basket case of a nation and not exactly an example of a great healthcare system.  But I looked up the numbers from the ballyhooed WHO report that Michael Moore based his stupid movie on.  It’s five years old but I doubt much has changed.  Rwanda ranked 145th in responsiveness but 58th in the Fairness Index.  So the care is shitty, but it’s not too unequal in its shittiness (the US ranks 54th in fairness, a key factor countering our off-the-charts ranking in responsiveness).  Their overall ranking is 181st.

So, yeah.

When even the WHO says your healthcare sucks, your healthcare sucks.  I shouldn’t pick on something so stupid.  No doubt if she had to say it over again, she’d pick a better example like ... um ... Cuba?  Anyway, her answer is less important in the specifics than in the principle.  The emphasis we are getting from the Left is entirely on insurance and having coverage.  Forgets costs, forget quality, forget freedom.  As long as we can get 300 million plastic cards into 300 millions wallets, that’s a noble achievement in and of itself, even if those cards are about as useful as credit card issued by Lehman Brothers.

But being insured is not the end-all be-all.  People without insurance get care (and no, Joe Klein, it’s not all expensive emergency care and giving them coverage won’t save money—see Massachusetts, People’s Republic Of).  People with bad insurance are denied care.  Insurance is not some a magic wand that heals the sick and forces cancer into remission.

Just ask the people of Rwanda.  Or even a first world nation with socialized medicine like ... um ... Robinson’s own country, which the WHO ranks 25th in responsiveness, just a hair above the UK (and way below the US) and has 41,000 people on waiting lists.  And Ireland’s system is good by the standards of socialized systems.

As a palette cleanser, I’ll refer you to McArdle’s diatribe today that gets at the heart of why I oppose national healthcare.

Basically, for me, it all boils down to public choice theory.  Once we’ve got a comprehensive national health care plan, what are the government’s incentives?  I think they’re bad, for the same reason the TSA is bad.  I’m afraid that instead of Security Theater, we’ll get Health Care Theater, where the government goes to elaborate lengths to convince us that we’re getting the best possible health care, without actually providing it.

That’s not just verbal theatrics.  Agencies like Britain’s NICE are a case in point.  As long as people don’t know that there are cancer treatments they’re not getting, they’re happy.  Once they find out, satisfaction plunges.  But the reason that people in Britain know about things like herceptin for early stage breast cancer is a robust private market in the US that experiments with this sort of thing.

So in the absence of a robust private US market, my assumption is that the government will focus on the apparent at the expense of the hard-to-measure.  Innovation benefits future constituents who aren’t voting now.  Producing it is very expensive.  On the other hand, cutting costs pleases voters this instant.  This is, fundamentally, what cries to “use the government’s negotiating power” with drug companies is about.  Advocates of such a policy spend a lot of time arguing about whether pharmaceutical companies do, or do not, spend too much on marketing.  This is besides the point.  The government is not going to price to some unknowable socially optimal amount of pharma market power.  It is going to price to what the voters want, which is to spend as little as possible right now.

You really should read the whole thing.  There’s much more, such as the inevitability of lifestyle police and arrogance of power.

In the end, for all the remarks I make about efficiency and freedom, this is my biggest concern—that national healthcare will destroy innovation. Cheap Viagra will be paid for by future epidemics of antibiotic-resistant disease; our children will never see a cure for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s because we insisted on affordable angioplasty; our grandchildren will never know what it’s like to live without pain because they government decides how much percocet you can take.

The defining motto of today’s politics is “Fuck the Future!” And national healthcare has become a distillation of every greedy, selfish, child-robbing, future-crippling instinct out there.  From massive deficits to cost controls that will be somebody else’s responsibility to the destruction of pharma research, the entire debate is focused on benefitting today’s voters at the expense of tomorrow’s.  From both sides.

Update: Check Mark_M’s comment, in which he notes that we have an insurance rate in this country that actually exceeds Rwanda’s.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/28/09 at 05:26 PM in Health Care  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Do what they tell you…

And so it begins. Here is a glimpse into the new healthcare system we are going to get. First they will come for those that smoke and they can call fat - watch for the obesity threshold to come down to near anorexic levels too - to get their “cost savings”. These people, which literally can translate to everyone as we all are potential smokers or obese people, will be treated as nothing less than lepers. Government will have harsh rules they must obey or they will be massively punished, first through excessive taxation, and eventually by being labeled as unclean. Many will nod in agreement as these people become second class. After all, these idiots brought it upon themselves. If they could just leave the smokes and the food alone, then there would be no problem. Then they will find new categories of sub people. The elderly, the mentally challenged, the wrong religion or ideology, the wrong race. See this is not new. It has happened before. Back in the 1930s there was an entire culture based on the uber mensh, and those that did not meet the uber mensh standard, were treated as cattle. In fact, they even created a hated class they could blame all the problems on, and then actively pursued their extermination. Have no doubt that we have elite fascists in charge right now, and that when they talk “hope & change”, that this is where the whole thing is going to lead us. I am sure one could invoke the Godwin law if one didn’t want to actually have to debate the fact that once government owns healthcare it no longer will be a right unless you are one of the chosen.

Cross posted at Wasting time with Alex

Posted by AlexinCT on 07/28/09 at 05:12 AM in Health Care   Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, July 27, 2009

Missing the Forest for the Fire

Ezra Klein:

In the modern health-care system, there is no higher power than the insurance market. And the insurers who populate that market have grown all the stronger. The Justice Department judges an industry “highly concentrated” if a single company controls more than 42 percent of the market. By that definition, 94 percent of statewide insurance markets are highly concentrated. A recent study by the advocacy organization Health Care for America Now showed that in Indiana, WellPoint controls 60 percent of the insurance market; in Iowa, Wellmark accounts for 71 percent; and in Alabama, Blue Cross/Blue Shield holds 83 percent. In the past 13 years, there have been more than 400 corporate mergers involving health insurers.

Economics textbooks tell us that concentrated markets reduce the competitive behavior that benefits consumers and lead to outsize profits for the dominant firms. Predictably, health-care premiums shot up more than 90 percent between 2000 and 2007, while the profits of the 10 largest insurers increased 428 percent over the same period. Clinton had promised us managed care within managed competition. Instead, the insurers took control of our care and managed to effectively end competition. Neat trick.

So ... the solution is to give one insurer 100% of the market?  To allow the same oligarchy that controls state insurance laws to control federal insurance laws?  Only someone as glib as Ezra would use monopsony abuses to argue for a monopsony.

Actually, I’m being unfair.  Klein actually uses this to argue for “managed competition” where the Feds control insurance exchanges.  But that’s almost as bad.  Gee, Ezra, who do you think is going to wield authority over that managed competition?  Monied interests or average joes?  I’ll wait while you think about it.

Maybe the solution is to break those local monopolies by allowing insurers to compete across state lines.  That would bring federal anti-trust law to guarantee that no player build up a controlling interest in healthcare.  That would force insurers to expand their networks.  That would allow individual doctors and hospital to belong to hundred of networks and have access to more patients.

“Managed competition” is an oxymoron.  In a free market, competition manages itself.  That’s the whole point of competition.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/27/09 at 10:21 AM in Health Care  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

If You’ve Ever Stored Sodium…

... you just might be a criminal.  Brian Walsh has just a little look at how the Feds have set up a tripwire maze of laws so dense that they can basically find something to convict you of if they don’t like you.  Here’s a story that is not atypical.  I’ll quote the whole thing

Consider small-time inventor and entrepreneur Krister Evertson, who will testify at today’s hearing. Krister never had so much as a traffic ticket before he was run off the road near his mother’s home in Wasilla, Alaska, by SWAT-armored federal agents in large black SUVs training automatic weapons on him.

Evertson, who had been working on clean-energy fuel cells since he was in high school, had no idea what he’d done wrong. It turned out that when he legally sold some sodium (part of his fuel-cell materials) to raise cash, he forgot to put a federally mandated safety sticker on the UPS package he sent to the lawful purchaser.

Krister’s lack of a criminal record did nothing to prevent federal agents from ransacking his mother’s home in their search for evidence on this oh-so-dangerous criminal.

The good news is that a federal jury in Alaska acquitted Krister of all charges. The jurors saw through the charges and realized that Krister had done nothing wrong.

The bad news, however, is that the feds apparently had it in for Krister. Federal criminal law is so broad that it gave prosecutors a convenient vehicle to use to get their man.

Two years after arresting him, the feds brought an entirely new criminal prosecution against Krister on entirely new grounds. They used the fact that before Krister moved back to Wasilla to care for his 80-year-old mother, he had safely and securely stored all of his fuel-cell materials in Salmon, Idaho.

According to the government, when Krister was in jail in Alaska due to the first unjust charges, he had “abandoned” his fuel-cell materials in Idaho. Unfortunately for Krister, federal lawmakers had included in the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act a provision making it a crime to abandon “hazardous waste.” According to the trial judge, the law didn’t require prosecutors to prove that Krister had intended to abandon the materials (he hadn’t) or that they were waste at all—in reality, they were quite valuable and properly stored away for future use.

He spent two years in prison.  Notice that there is something legitimate here—sodium is dangerous and the package should have been properly labelled.  But SWAT teams?  Intrusive searches?  And then an almost comical fumbling for something anything to convict this guy of to justify the effort?

Now imagine what’s going to happen when the Feds control health care and energy production.  Imagine especially what’s going to happen when the gang of bullies currently occupying the White House (see my note below on the attempts to silence the CBO) are in control of health care and energy production.

The true idiocy of conversations like the Maddow-Edwards chat Contrarian links below is that they fail to see any downside to increasing federal involvement with society.  It’s all good to them.  It’s so good that it can’t even be questioned.  The only reason we’ve waited 61 years is because of evil special interests (as opposed to the good special interests, like Walmart, that support the bill).

Any government expansion is good—if you’re rich or famous or powerful or connected like Maddow and Edwards are.  The rest of schlubs are going to end up like Krister Evertson --- surrounded by federal laws, at the mercy of federal agents and powerless to so much as get a boil lanced in our own country without permission.

Don’t think so?  I remind you that Hillarycare would have punished doctors and patients for getting unauthorized care.  I refer you to this list of power-grabbing provisions in the healthcare bill.  Even if we assume half of what he claims is bullshit, that still leaves many intrusive provisions that will have to be enforced by federal agents.

Government is force.  It is not persuasion, it is force.  The more you mandate, the more you authorize federal agents to enforce, to arrest, to fine, to jail.  And the more tools you put into the hands of federal agents to go after someone because they don’t like that look on his face.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/27/09 at 07:01 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Gotta know your enemy

I’m confused about this whole healthcare debate.

What are the arguments of the proponents of a public plan?

It seems to depend on who you ask. On the one hand you have Obama and his crew arguing that reform will help reduce costs and increase efficiency, notions that the CBO has thoroughly stomped into submission. On the other hand you have liberal commentators like Rachel Maddow taking a more moralistic approach.


The tone of the discussion is interesting. The need for a healthcare system that we can “be proud of” and is no longer “immoral,” - all of it adds to my suspicion (a suspicion that many liberals will deny) that this whole reform movement is really just another massive welfare project. It isn’t about improving quality and controlling costs, but about helping the poor and the uninsured by fleecing tax payers and compelling coverage. What I also notice, not just from Maddow, is the lack of substantive arguments in favor of the actual proposals offered by Obama and the democrats in congress. After stomaching several of her and other commentator videos on youtube, the pattern I have seen is that instead the left wants to focus on why republicans and conservatives are fighting reform. They prefer to make insinuations about the motives of the opposition and paint them one way or another rather than elucidate on the rightness of their own ideas.

Notice how important it is to Elizabeth Edwards to tell Americans to tune out critics who mention Canada, Britain, or the word socialism, three terms that have a great deal of bearing on the current debate. Just as Lowry’s quote from my last post pointed out, this debate has much broader implications than simply what sort of healthcare system we adopt. Rather it is a political battle about the fundamental role of government. Once we allow that it is government’s place to dictate healthcare standards and practices for all Americans, there will be little else we can argue that the government ought not do. In comparison to the quest to win such a crucial issue as that, the debate over policy details is almost irrelevant; it’s small potatoes compared to the Pandora’s box that will be unleashed if Obama gets his way.

Much of the left already knows this and is going to great pains to make sure the American public does not catch on, swamping the public discussion with phrases like “necessary reforms” to make the issue seem less consequential than it is. We cannot let them get away with this. Rather than being just a political fight (which we may lose with the democrats in power) the American people need to be reminded of the exact nature of what nationalized healthcare means, all that is at stake, and what they stand to lose.

Posted by The Contrarian on 07/27/09 at 01:37 AM in • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, July 26, 2009

You Will Be A Team Player

Boy, it’s got to suck to be at 1600 Pennsylvania these days.  They’ve got the One in office.  They have both houses of Congress.  They have a Dream Team of a cabinet.  They have the biggest fiscal crisis in 75 years.  And they still can’t get what they want, at least partially because all these stupid sexy facts and objective analyses keep ripping their glorious proposals to shreds.  What to do about it?  Shoot the messenger:

The White House went to war with the Congressional Budget Office after Friday’s announcement that the proposed changes to Barack Obama’s health-care plan to realize big cost savings would only recover $2 billion over 10 years, at best — about 0.2% of ObamaCare’s lowest projected cost.  Budget director Peter Orszag published a statement yesterday that accused the CBO of essentially lying in its analysis.

This is highly unusual.  The CBO and OMB do not criticize each other.  They can have differences of opinion, but each respects the independence of the other.  Now you combine this with Obama’s unusual meeting with the head of the CBO last week and you get a picture of someone crossing Constitutional boundaries to try to intimidate ... not even his opponents ... to intimidate his accountants.

It’s not an isolated incident.  Last week, Neil Barofsky, the man overseeing TARP complained about the lack of transparency and noted the potential liability of $24 trillion.  Take it away, Greenwald:

Most significant of all, and obviously due to Barofsky’s truly independent oversight efforts, the Obama administration is now attempting to induce the Justice Department to issue a ruling that Barofsky’s office is not independent at all—but rather, is subject to, and under the supervision of, the authority of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.  By design, such a ruling would completely gut Barofsky’s ability to compel transparency and exercise real oversight over how Treasury is administering TARP, since it would make him subordinate to one of the very officials whose actions Congress wanted him to oversee:  the Treasury Secretary’s.  Barofsky has, quite rightly, protested the administration’s efforts to destroy his independence, and has done so with increasing assertiveness as the administration’s war on his oversight activities has increased.  Why would an administration vowing a New Era of Transparency wage war on a watchdog whose only mission is to ensure transparency and accountability in these massive financial programs?

When Obama was first elected, I held out some hope that his Administration wouldn’t be a complete clusterfuck on the domestic side.  The reason I did was because of Obama’s emphasis on transparency and his record, as a senator, of showing an interest in the opinions of his opponents.  He’d sponsored numerous bills increasing government transparency; he had appointed conservative economists like Austin Goolsbee to his staff; many conservative U-Chicago economists talked about his intellectual curiosity as did conservative legal analysts.  I knew he was going to be liberal but at least I could hope he might not be completely closed-minded.

But now he’s discovered that he can’t do everything he wants because of a wave of “change”.  Now he’s discovered that not only do his opponents have opinions, they’ll voice them.  Now he’s discovered that the government is filled with checks and balances—agencies specifically designed to limit his power and counter his statements.  This can not be tolerated.  Transparency is all find and good when it nails corrupt Republicans.  But when it calls the Democrats out for pulling budget numbers out of their asses and having zero accountability for trillions of dollars in spending ... well, it’s time for a little trip to Principal Obama’s office.  Cut yourself a switch before you come in.

Update: This is not the first time Orszag has shown a contempt for the process of government.  It was Orszag, you remember, who said the Democrats should use the reconciliation process to bypass the filibuster.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/26/09 at 01:18 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Six months and setting a new record….

The GOP should demand that the MSM give Obama hour long, weekly, or better yet, bi-weekly air time, so he can talk to the people some more. I know the left loves to call conservatives idiots, cowboys, and red necks, and to pretend that their side is replete with intellectuals, but I think the American people are much smarter than they give em credit and more and more of them are starting to see that Obama is nothing but an incompetent collectivist boob. The usual losers in the MSM did an awesome job snowing people and covering for Obama before the election. The best counter for their continued efforts to protect this guy is to actually let this guy talk. He makes Bush, even in his most weakest moments, look like Plato or Socrates compared to him.

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 29% of the nation’s voters now Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -11. That’s the first time his ratings have reached double digits in negative territory (see trends).

These updates are based upon nightly telephone interviews and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. Today is the first update based entirely upon interviews conducted after the President’s prime time televised press conference. The number who Strongly Approve of the President has remained unchanged since the press conference but the number who Strongly Disapprove has gone up by five percentage points (from 35% on Wednesday morning to 40% today).

The Presidential Approval Index is calculated by subtracting the number who Strongly Disapprove from the number who Strongly Approve. It is updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update). Updates also available on Twitter. The President received generally poor grades for his response to a question about a Cambridge police incident involving a black Harvard professor. However, the results show a huge divide between black Americans and white Americans on all questions.

Overall, 49% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove. It is important to remember that the Rasmussen Reports job approval ratings are based upon a sample of likely voters.

Basically it looks like the well orchestrated and carefully crafted person for Obama - the one where he is an intellectual giant and uniter, of Ronald Reagan like caliber, and beyond the racist and collectivist policies that have always dragged this country down – goes up in flames when he actually gets to talk. Many of those house-fraus that voted for Obama, to prove how chick they were for electing a black man, are now realizing that this guy is just another Jackson or Sharpton, with a large contingent of fanatical media people covering up for him.

A few more pressers like this, and Obama will be left with nothing but the fanatical collectivist lemmings following him. I say give him as much TV time as he wants. If he rigs the audiences as he is want to, hammer him on that. More likely, even with a rigged audience and planted questions, my bet is that he will continue to pull stunts like the last one, and as he is exposed for all to see – unmasked as a collectivist ideologue with zero real life experience, and hell bent on destroying this great nation – will lose support fast.

Oh yeah. For the usual libs: it’s BOOSH’ fault. There. Now you don’t even have to coment.

Posted by AlexinCT on 07/26/09 at 11:14 AM in Left Wing Idiocy   Polls and Surveys   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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