Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Government Option in Health Care - Update 2

In today's Wall Street Journal, the aptly named Robert Reich, makes more of the left wing argument for the so called "public option" in health insurance coverage. After tilting at a number of straw men, he gets to the crux of the argument:

Critics charge that the public plan will be subsidized by the government. Here they have their facts wrong. Under every plan that's being discussed on Capitol Hill, subsidies go to individuals and families who need them in order to afford health care, not to a public plan. Individuals and families use the subsidies to shop for the best care they can find. They're free to choose the public plan, but that's only one option. They could take their subsidy and buy a private plan just as easily. Legislation should also make crystal clear that the public plan, for its part, may not dip into general revenues to cover its costs. It must pay for itself.
He has rolled out what other propagandists used to call the Big Lie, a lie so audacious that no one would believe you would make it up. I repeat "the public plan... may not dip into general revenues." And how many examples do we have of quasi-government entities doing just that, in the history of our country? How about in the last year? The public option will be priced so attractively that it will lose money, then the Congress will step in and bail it out. What else will reasonably happen when the federal government, which knows nothing about running businesses, starts losing money in health insurance? What fools do the lefties take us for?

The other money quote that I just can't resist: "Without the government as competition, the private sector has little incentive to improve." So chip makers, computer manufacturers, television manufacturers, etc. all improved their products due to competition from the federal government? These arguments for public option health care are too easy to demolish, unfortunately, the left has a majority in the Congress so Common Sense may not necessarily prevail.

Editorial note. I typically do not use the term "liberal" to describe the left wing today. That is because I consider myself a liberal in the original sense of the term. Fortunately, our nation was founded on the liberal principals of equality before the law, free markets and limited government. Because we wish to conserve those liberal traditions, we are tagged with the label conservative, although that does not really capture my philosophy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Government Option in Health Care - Update

In an earlier post, I ridiculed the defense of the so called "public option" (leftie-speak for government option) because they compared it to AMTRAK, and other government failures. However, there is already a direct and relevant comparison; Medicare and Medicaid spending on health care has risen faster than private sector spending by more than 34% according to a new study from the Pacific Research Institute.

From the article:

Across nearly four decades, Medicare's costs have risen more than one-third more, per patient, than the combined costs of all health care nationwide apart from Medicare and Medicaid. This is true even when viewing Medicare's costs in a charitable light.

President Obama asserts that creating a Medicare-like "public option" is the way to slow the rising costs of health care. Experience shows the opposite, that costs have risen faster under government-run care. As Benjamin Franklin and George Mason argued at the Constitutional Convention, let's defer to "experience, the best of all tests."

H/T: Weasel Zippers

Nuclear Politics Update

Little reported until this morning, the US Navy is tracking a North Korean ship bound for Singapore or Myanmar. It is believed the ship is carrying banned material, like missile parts, that earn the Norks hard currency. In an earlier post, I opined as how denying Kim Jong Il hard currency is the best leverage we have to influence his behavior on the nuke issue. I am waiting to see how the current administration handles the situation. They have been getting quite an education lately between Iranian electoral shenanigans and North Korean nuclear sabre rattling. Let's hope they are fast learners. As usual, Information Dissemination has excellent in depth naval analysis. They also believe that Kim Jong Il will not last without Chinese support and have reason to believe that Chinese support for "the little perv" as Dean called him, is eroding.
Interestingly, Information Dissemination linked to this scholarly mathematical analysis showing that the Iranian election results were almost certainly fraudulent (99.6% likely to have been faked). This is important, because the nuclear hard line taken by Ahmedinejad is certainly not in the best interests of the people of Iran. This will dawn on them as events unfold; posessing nuclear weapons means you can also be on the receiving end of nuclear weapons. A move to true democracy won't make Iran our new BFF, but will result in a regime more amenable to listening to reason on the nuke issue.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Pastor Jim had a great sermon today about why men matter in our society and fathers in particular. I won't try to repeat the wealth of statistics he cited about the effects of the lack of a father on teen pregnancy rates, criminality, etc. The key fact he quoted was that the absence of a father in the home is the single biggest predictor of social ills (drop out, teen pregnancy, criminality) more than poverty, race, etc. Also, KT has had a number of great posts on this subject, including this one, where he quotes Charles Murray extensively and this one.

I want to share that my brothers and my sister have been blessed to have a father who understood the importance of just being there. When I was growing up, I just thought it was normal that my Dad was there for every important and lots of not so important events in my life. He never missed a football game or a school event. He took an interest in my school work, and not just when my report card came in; always ready to help. Sadly, I have learned that his example is often not followed and the world is a poorer place for it.

So here's to you Pop, thanks for being the great Dad you have always been and for always being there for us.

Here's Pop in the sixth grade with his class mates. Hope this makes him smile.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Who's Afraid of the Government Option in Health Care? I am.

Sometimes the lefties just makes things too easy for a lib/con blogger. But, first some background. The Obamacare proposal to nationalize health care by stealth has been effectively unmasked by Wall Street Journal, the American Medical Association, Roger Hedgecock, Rush Limbaugh, et al. It will work like this. The government will offer cut rate health insurance to those currently not covered by their employer. Further, they will assess a tax on employers who don't offer such insurance. But for most small businesses and maybe big ones, the tax will initially be cheaper to pay than the current cost of health insurance for their employees. As surely as supply follows demand, there will be a stampede away from employer funded health insurance to gummint funded health insurance. Next, the Congress will look at the huge budget hole created and jack up the tax on the employers. But when employers try to reinstate their own health insurance programs, it will be too late, either there won't be any insurers left or the law will prevent that option. (Hat tip to Roger Hedgecock for laying this out on his show.)

So now that the plan has been outed, Josh Greenman is defending the Obama plan by essentially saying "hey, what's the big deal, government provides services alongside the private sector in plenty of areas." And the shining examples he chooses? Public schools, the Postal Service, Amtrak, Social Security and the VA health system. Hooray, we're saved; the feds are going to run health care with their customary vaunted efficiency.

I won't even bother to respond; like I said, this is too easy. Recommend you click the links, especially Social Security.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shocking News, Stimulus Dollars Being Wasted!

Like Captain Renault, I'm shocked at the LA Times article on wasteful spending in the stimulus package. From the Times article:

A report due to be released today by a Republican senator contends the Obama administration's stimulus program is fraught with waste and incompetence -- evidenced by a turtle crossing in northern Florida that will cost more than $3 million and a snafu in which thousands of Social Security checks went out to people who had died.

I feel like this guy:

But what do you expect? The federal government shells out money to spend on projects that private businesses and individuals, not to mention state and local governments wouldn't fund. That makes it ALL waste, if you ask me.

BTW, Dean has more news on the porkulus front, with swindlers and con men taking center stage.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Nuclear Politics

The threat of nuclear war has never been greater than it is today. During the height of the cold war, we were much further away from the possibility, because we could count on the Soviets (Russians) to act rationally. Not so with the jokers pictured here. Both Iran and North Korea appear to be moving steadily towards a limited nuclear capability, that is, the ability to put a nuclear warhead on a medium range missile. There is little that America can do to stop this directly.

However, we need to prepare for the eventuality of their use by these madmen. Samuel Johnson is quoted as saying "Nothing more wonderfully concentrates a man's mind than the sure knowledge he is to be hanged in the morning." We need to use this fact to our advantage. It is little known nor appreciated that until Iran possesses nuclear weapons, the U.S. is forbidden by treaty from using nukes against them. This came up in the Iraq war, where some people thought we would respond with nukes if Saddam used chemical or biological weapons. We would not have, because Iraq was a signatory on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and we did not know if they possessed nuclear weapons. North Korea has withdrawn from the treaty, so they are a different case. The differing status of the two nations calls for different approaches to dealing with their ambitions.

First Iran. It is a blessing in disguise that Ahmedinejad won or stole the Iranian election. Iran is really run by the mullahs, and the policy to obtain nukes was not about to change, no matter who won, but now no one can argue about the basic nature of the regime, unless your a Daily Kook. Further, Ahmedinejad hasn't had quite enough time to fully wreck the Iranian economy with his socialist policies. Ultimately, only the people of Iran can through off the yoke of Islamic Socialism. Our approach to Iran needs to be non-provocative, so that we don't feed the propaganda machine of the regime. I know that they will manufacture propaganda, like the good fascists they are, but Iranians are surprisingly able to obtain other sources of news, from Persian language stations in LA for example. Our non-provacative stance will help. But we need to make clear to the people of Iran the true consequences of the path their leadership has put on them on. Right now, they are free from the threat of nuclear retaliation; when the mullahs launch a nuke missile, they face the possibilty of death due to very high temperatures. I think the trajectory of the current regime is inexorably downward, as the young and middle class especially loathe the lack of freedom in the Islamic paradise.

North Korea is a whole different problem. We can never expect the people to rise up, they are starving and can barely perform the basic functions of life. Further, they have no knowledge of the outside world. However, Kim Jong Il plays his little games at the sufferance of China. Right now, it amuses them to watch him threaten the hated Japanese. However, we need to make clear to the Chinese the inherent instability of the situation and our resolve to respond with nukes if the Norks use theirs. Such a retaliation would bring nuclear warheads and fallout uncomfortably close to the Chinese border. I don't think they are going to be too happy with that outcome once they think it through. The other way to influence Kim Jong Il is to remove his access to hard currency. Kim clearly enjoys the finer things that the West produces, so denying him hard currency hits him where he lives. For a while, the U.S. had an effective policy to limit North Korea's criminal enterprises of counterfeiting, cigarettes and currency, drug traficking and sales of missiles. Bringing back this policy and making it explicitly linked to Kim standing down from weaponizing plutonium is also required.

Will any of this work? I am not sure, but I believe a pre-emptive strike is off the table for now, so these are the options available.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Edward Whitacre Knows Nothing About Cars

"Big" Ed Whitacre said he's ready to learn about cars and the auto industry today. Before the advent of Bailout Nation, this might have been a problem. Why is that, you might ask? Because, Ed is the new Chair of Government or is it General Motors. From the news:
“I don’t know anything about cars,” Whitacre, 67, said yesterday in an interview after his appointment. “A business is a business, and I think I can learn about cars. I’m not that old, and I think the business principles are the same.”

Hey Dude, stop worrying about cars, you only need to worry about your shareholder in chief. I'm sure Ed's prior experience at AT&T with its constant interactions with the courts, the Congress and regulatory apparatus makes him the perfect fit for the new GM. Just don't expect any ideas about how to build better cars.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Maybe There's Hope Yet

In the news today, Justice Ginsburg issued an order staying the sale of Chrysler assets to Fiat. Whether this means the whole SCOTUS will hear the case is unknown. Most likely, the Justice wanted more time to study the issues before the scheduled sale mooted the case.

Dean had previously blogged about how teacher's police' pension funds were getting the shaft on this cramdown from Obama, in apparent violation of the rule of law, in this case bankruptcy law. However, the state pension funds in Indiana, unlike private firms that Obama can put the muscle on, appealed all the way to the Supremes.

I thought I would cruise over to Daily Kos, to see if any bile was being served up on this issue, despite the fact that Ginsburg is one of the most liberal justices on the court. I wasn't disappointed, some idiot claiming to be Libertarian Friend, was accusing Rush of wishing to make everyone share in the misery of the Chrysler bankruptcy, and was railing against the ruling, arguing that it was in the "public interest." I saw an opportunity to engage in terms that might resonate with the lefties. Here's what my what left wing Doppleganger had to say:

Why can't we judge this case on it's merits under the law? The plaintiffs are public pension funds, teachers and police if I remember correctly, not some whacko right wing nut jobs. To trash pension fund claims just because of the right wing is the worst kind of ad-hominem ill-logic.

We rightly trashed the Bushies for abusing power and ignoring the constitution in the name of fighting the "war on terror." Even if this bankruptcy was decided in the "public interest" that doesn't mean the constitution or the law were followed. I thought we were more principled than that.

(My apologies, I adopt a certain style when I comment on DailyKos and MyDD.) Imagine my shock when this line of reasoning got some traction. There were of course, moronic counterattacks ("the real plaintif is Murcouck" huh?), but more than one person agreed with the position that the rule of law mattered. I was pleasantly surprised at my new plus four rating for arguing for the rule of law on Daily Kos, which of course is Rush's, Dean's and I'm sure, KT's position on the issue as well.

Maybe there's hope yet. You can read the whole thing here. Click on comments and search for BDaddyL to see the responses.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Weekend Music Chill

One of my favorite 80s bands was Oingo Boingo. Our sub, the Guitarro, made "Dead Man's Party" our unofficial breakaway song, but I always liked this number better.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Crony Capitalism

Over at BwD, Dean riffed off the "Busy Not Running GM" theme with some choice words about Barney Frank getting into the act. Dean correctly labels this a new era in "crony capitalism." In the comments, 'Dawg pointed out that Congressman Murtha has really gone above and beyond in the crony and capitalism departments, with your money, of course. 'Dawg, thanks for pointing us to this ABC report.

As you may know, Murtha is also having some problems with how defense contractors obtained earmark spending on defense, including his nephew. So here's to you John Murtha, the croniest of cronies, may you spend some quality time here, wearing some of these stylish fashions.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Your (Local) Tax Dollars at Work

So here's a nice little gig, if you can swing it. Charlene Tressler, was until recently, the Commissioner of San Diego County's First 5 Commission. These commissions were set up to distribute Prop 10 largess to favored constituencies around the state,... sorry, I meant to say to save the children with tobacco tax money. On top of her busy schedule running the commission, she also ran a charity and a preschool, making her the perfect kind of person to be looking out for the welfare of San Diego's wee ones. In fact, she was so awesome that the First 5 Commission paid out $8.3 million in grants to her organizations. Hooray, the children are SAVED!

For once, our local paper is breaking a story of interest. Charlene wasn't the only one on the commission doing well by doing good. Turns out that being on the advisory committe was better than a paying gig and that $67 million (or 44% of all grants) over three years was paid out to members of the commission's advisory committee. I'd like to be giving that kind of advice myself.

Just like the gun turn-in program detailed below, local government shows itself to be just as brilliant at conflicts of interest and lunacy as the feds. And who pays for this madness? The typically low income folks who still purchase cigarettes legally.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pray for the President's Safety

Mrs. Daddy and I feel strongly moved by the Holy Spirit, we believe, to pray for the safety of President Barack Obama while he gives his speech in Cairo on Thursday. Whatever your faith, we ask you to join us in praying for the safety of our President.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Busy Not Running GM

What we are not doing -- what I have no interest in doing -- is running GM.

So says the captain of industry pictured here. In the quoted Wall Street Journal article, Obama reassures the mayor of Detroit, that GM headquarters won't be moving to nearby Warren, MI. Because it would be bad for GM's profitability? Hardly, because this is all about what's good for Detroit, not GM, or good for the UAW, not GM, or any body else politically connected, but not GM.

A small, but telling first example of the politicization of this industry that Dean and KT have already been warning us about.

Meanwhile, all may not be roses for the administration's disregard for the rule of law in bankruptcy court. A group of Indiana pension funds have won a hearing with the 2nd circuit court of appeals to prevent the sale of Chrysler assets to Fiat. As Dean pointed out earlier, and is conveniently left out of the WaPo article, these funds represent teachers and police officers, whose unions probably contributed to Obama's election.

I am adding GM to my list of products I don't buy on principle, right up there with French beer. Although I have purchased Dodge minivans in the past, no more, but that is also a practical decision over their pathetic decline in quality.

Keeping Our Streets Safe?

The esteemed mayor of Los Angeles, is keeping the streets of LA safe in between intimate moments with TV anchors, by sponsoring the buy back of guns, and getting them off the streets. The big headline from last month was "L.A. gun buyback nets 1,700 weapons, including grenade launcher." Wow, so what happens when you can get $100 bucks in coupons from Ralph's for any firearm you turn in. I liberated the following quote out of an email from Pop.

I got a call from a friend who is a big time sportsman. Makes his living outfitting hunting trips, teaching firearms courses, etc. He wanted to know how he could best use four $100 Ralph’s gift cards; give them to the church to give to the needy, use them to buy groceries for the poor pantry or what? I asked him where he got the cards and he said that LA had a “Make the streets safer” campaign. If you turned in a firearm of the proper category, no questions asked, they would give you a $100 Ralph’s card. So he and his buddies rounded 11 totally useless weapons, 8 of which were in the right category for redemption, took them to LA and came home with the 8 gift cards. All of the weapons were good only for scrap metal. One worst had been found in a trash heap on an abandoned farm in Chino. You could not see down the barrel for corrosion. $100 may seem like a lot of money for a piece of scrap metal but not to a mayor could tell his constituents how many guns that he had removed from the streets of LA and how they were safer tonight because his actions. God bless you, mayor. We need more public servants like you.