Monday, August 31, 2009
What is up with far left Democrats? Diane Watson (D-ranged), in arguing for Obamacare heaps lavish praise on .... Fidel Castro? I was thinking, you're kidding, right? But here it is courtesy of HotAir:
Meanwhile, there are various reports of violence and arrest threats over health care protests. In general, we see the anti-Obama side behaving and the other side provoking.
At a Tucson Tea Party protest a provocateur shows some sharp elbows.
In New Hampshire, a man is arrested for questioning if union enforcers at a Carol-Shea Porter town hall are from the state.
Having a picture of Obama that is unflattering gets a protester threatened with arrest in Virginia. Apparently protest signs with only words are ok. The money quote: Protester: "This used to be America" Cop: "It ain't no more, ok."
And in another "Define Astroturfing" moment, the left has to bus in their supporters to the union hall to get a pro-Obamacare rally going.
But there is some good news. Liberals are saying they won't vote for a health care bill without the public option. Why is this good? Such "political chicken" might be just what it takes to slay this beast, and best of all the left will have done it for us.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
JFK did not tour the world, apologizing for America's role in the Cold War. He did not propose to cooperate with socialist dictators while they undermined democracies in our hemisphere. And when nuclear missiles were deployed to Cuba, he acted decisively to counter the threat. In short, he saw America as the unique defender of liberty and democracy in the world, a force for good.
The man pictured below (my father-in-law) had just returned home to his family from a Mediterranean deployment, when the crap hit the fan in October 1962. Uncomplaining, (well, as uncomplaining as sailors ever get), he went back out to sea. He spent days lugging five inch shells and getting a ship ready for WAR, because it didn't matter what your regular job was, everyone knew how deadly serious it all was.
His ship, the Harlan R. Dickson, was among the many vessels enforcing a quarantine against Cuba that prevented the proliferation of nuclear missiles so close to our shores. The strategy was both bold and brilliant and succeeded in convincing the Soviets to remove the missiles. Kennedy had this to say at the time:
To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation and port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948.
To this day, my father-in-law is proud of the efforts of his shipmates in turning back a grave threat to our country. Mr. President, I know that the torch has been passed to a new generation of warriors, every bit as patriotic as that Chief Petty Officer. You should know you can count on them in times of direst need and for that reason, you need not be afraid, and you need not apologize to the enemies of liberty and democracy.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
"End of life" or "death" panels, just a matter of semantics.
Granted the impact is different. But it's why Palin used "Death Panel". It is what she sees it, and she calls it how she feels. Not incorrect, but pejorative.Turns out that some liberals agree with 'Dawg on the impact Palin has had. In an article titled "How Sarah Palin Rope-a-Doped All-Too-Many Liberals" Ron Rosenbaum makes the point that while liberals were tripping all over themselves demeaning Palin; in their condescension for her supposed lack of smarts, they failed to notice that she had made an important political point. In fact leftist outrage over her comments, repeated over and over again in the MSM actually helped make her point. As people starting thinking about the meaning behind the comment, they realized the truth of the outcome Palin fears, even if not literally true. From Rosenbaum's article:
They couldn’t believe that Sarah Palin was capable of something as canny as that deadly “death panels” phrase. They couldn’t see that it was a metaphoric shorthand for something real. Instead they thought she was too dumb, that she meant it literally (to have seen the potential for rationed end-of-life care in the bill), and instead indulged in an orgy of disdain for her “crazy,” “ignorant” “lies” and malicious misrepresentation.Rosenbaum argues that the left should have countered with the fact that insurance companies act as de facto death panels today. But I would still love to have that debate. I can't find the quote, but someone recently said that people will accept all sorts of crap from business to save some money, look at the way airlines treat us, but they won't accept that kind of treatment from government.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Meanwhile the LA Times gives us this headline:
A recent survey from TNS Research, an international business research firm, found the California counties of Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego had the first, fourth and sixth highest number of millionaires in the country. However, even as the national population of millionaire households grew by 5.9 percent in 2007, Los Angeles County lost about 7,000 of these households. Orange and San Diego Counties lost millionaire households as well.
While Californians are still feeling the sting of income and sales tax hikes signed into law earlier this year, now comes news that state tax authorities plan to take a little more from their pockets.There is no doubt that this will worsen our economic situation in California and in turn, further hurt the state budget. Further, what an outrage, after all the extra taxes we have to pay (even a tax on that cash for your clunker) because this state won't reign in spending.
For only the second time in 30 years, the tax board is lowering the point where each tax bracket begins, bumping many people into a higher category. At the same time, officials are cutting back some deductions. Everyone will pay more, even people whose bracket or income doesn't change.
You scholarly types can read 71 pages of regression analysis and other mathy stuff from the Cato institute that leads to a conclusion we already new:
The analysis reveals that higher marginal tax rates had a negative impact on economic growth in the states. The analysis also shows that greater regressivity had a positive impact on economic growth. States that held the rate of growth in revenue below the rate of growth in income achieved higher rates of economic growth.
But this below is a lot more entertaining. It answers the question of what's your average small business owner/millionaire to do?
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I wonder if your comments on my blog were meant to persuade or inflame. If they were meant to inflame, then all you have done is add energy to the opposition to the various Democrat plans for health care, which doesn't seem in your best interests. If to persuade, then you might consider using more temperate language and speaking in a way with which your audience will identify. For example, when I commented on Simon's blog, I referenced DailyKos to support my points. You might have recognized that my readers are a mix of libertarians and conservatives and couched your language accordingly.
I find it ironic that you criticized John Mackey for commenting anonymously, but you have chosen to comment anonymously on my blog. Also, the picture on the blog is not of John Mackey, but of Simon Owens, of the aforementioned Bloggasm blog.
When comparing the private sector to the public sector, you fail to remember that private sector has accountability of the rule of law as well as market pressure to perform. Government bureaucrats are only accountable to the law, and they have government funded lawyers to defend them when citizens sue them. Further, even though the famous bankruptcies you cite were certainly failures, they had the salutary effect of cleansing the ecosystem of those companies and their leaders. When government fails, the Congress typically concludes that more money is needed. To use the President's own example, FedEx and UPS are making profits while the Postal Service is making a loss, which will be subsidized through taxes. While government doesn't always fail and the private sector doesn't always succeed, that's the way to bet.
You cite military health care as a fine example of government run health care, but as a veteran who is treated through the military system, I can attest that I am experiencing continued deterioration as that system becomes unaffordable, see my post on that subject. Medicare is no great shape either, it has failed to contain costs and Congress' own GAO has issued report after report of how Medicare is rife with fraud. Even though individual payments to doctors may be controlled in Medicare, the fraud rate causes overall spending to increase above the rate of inflation. Given the President's intention for cost containment, this bodes ill.
With regards to pre-conditions, there are free market solutions that have been offered for that, see John Cochrane's excellent article in the WSJ, where he suggests that we provide the right to buy health care in the future, so that individuals will not lose coverage and can be covered for pre-existing conditions when they change jobs.
Finally, as a Tea Party attender, I can attest that Republican operatives and politicians have been strongly discouraged from attending these events. It is a true grass roots movement and to denigrate it, rather than seek to understand it, is to do yourself a disservice. Further, lumping "birthers" in with the Tea Party group is an unfair ad hominem attack. I have denounced the birthers as have most responsible libertarians and conservatives.
Finally, you say that we do not know what we want, but that is not true. I recommend you read my Freedom Coalition Agenda to see exactly what I want. In brief, I want the smallest government possible that meets its constitutional duties.
You claim that I hate but don't debate, but I challenge you to be as temperate as I have been with my comments in left-of-center blogs.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
A recent example was a recent DailyKos diary about Afghanistan that I found hard to understand the point. But a commenter made the point that the cost of war there would "break us." While I think that is hyperbole given Obama's 9 trillion, 10 trillion, heck it's only zeroes, deficits. But I do believe that the Vietnam War helped fuel inflation in the 70s and that the Iraq War has had negative economic consequences. So I commented that:
The stagflation of the 70s can be directly traced to the deficits we piled up fighting the Vietnam war. There is no doubt in my mind that the huge spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to our current economic mess.This comment receive three positive ratings. But note that I have taken their reflexive anti-war attitude and introduced the concept that deficits hurt the economy. I'm not explicitly exploiting the opening, just prepping the battle space.
I recently received an email from a left of center blogger, Simon Owens, pictured, who thought my readers would be interested in how the left used social media to rally against Whole Foods. Please read his piece for yourself. Simon is a self styled media critic, but I note that he utterly uncritical and provides no counter point to the boycott organizers' perspective. Two quotes:
“[The op-ed] lit a fire under me,” Rosenthal said. “This person was using his company as a sort of Trojan horse for a bunch of discredited, bad ideas that we have said no to over and over again.
They’ve begun posting user-submitted photos from people who are taking pictures of receipts from other grocery stores they’re shopping at and on the blog they’re listing boycott events that are taking place around the country. But they’re doing very little to actually organize these individual events.
I noted in a previous post, I quoted a DailyKos piece as to how some on the left itself realize how fickle they themselves are. If you read Simon's post, you will see that even this initial modest success lacked much energy. To quote KT from the comments:
But I still seek to persuade, because it keeps me sane thinking that ultimately not everyone on the left is insane.
In any case, the guy's post boils down into this: "We're a bunch of children."
Monday, August 24, 2009
At the Scratching Post, KT has some nice graphics showing the mushrooming debt under Obama. Unfortunately, it also shows that the Bush administration, while not nearLY as bad, still did us no favors. Bush inherited a surplus and turned it quickly into deficit.
KT also has some comment on the impact of the manner of financing the national debt, as in short term (think ARM) versus long term (think 30 year fixed). I used to not worry one way or the other, but with the deficits increasing without end, we will either get big increases in inflation, or a severe tightening by the Fed, or both. The end result will be huge increases in short term interest rates.
I have liberated the rest of my commentary on KT's post.
All other things being equal, ARM funding is usually less expensive than long term debt (even in the long term), but it exposes the borrower to more risk. It is a classic trade off between risk and benefit. The federal government theoretically could manage its own risk in this regard as it has the power to keep inflation under control. From one perspective more short term debt is a rational outcome.
However, government is run by politicians not accountants or economists. The actual effect of the ARM financing has been to minimize the impact of the debt on the federal cash flow, thus encouraging larger deficits. As a result, we are doubling down on the risk, because high deficits lead to higher inflation risk, which in turn lead to higher risk that debt servicing will become unsustainable.
I think the bigger question is how long will it take for these monster deficits to work their way through the whole economy and re-ignite inflation. Hopefully in time to influence the 2010 elections, so that voters can feel the true consequences of stimulus and vote accordingly and perhaps put the brakes on these huge deficits. Unfortunately, the Republican party has yet to adequately re-brand itself in image and in fact as a party of smaller government and reform, so they may not reap the benefit of inflation turning the Obama presidency into Carter II.
Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Adm. Mullen said the situation in the country has been getting worse as the Taliban gains strength. "I've said that over the last couple of years, that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated," he said. "Their tactics just in my recent visits out there and talking with our troops certainly indicate that."Meanwhile on Iraq:
Adm. Mullen said he also was "extremely concerned" about rising violence in Iraq, which left hundreds dead or wounded last week. "I think everybody was, and the key is whether this is an indicator of future sectarian violence," he said. "Certainly, many of us believe that one way that this can come unwound is through sectarian violence."
So what's the administration's response? As reported on BwD:
This is especially curious in light of the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder has just hired a special prosecutor to examine nearly a dozen cases in which CIA interrogators, Panetta’s own men, may have violated anti-torture laws.Let's really crush morale at the CIA when we need them the most.
Meanwhile in the Senate, the Democrats are being predictable:
Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, criticized President Barack Obama’s strategy of sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and called today for a timetable to bring forces home.
A word of warning to the President. These are your wars now, sir. This isn't baseball where the relief pitcher isn't responsible for the runs that are already on the basepaths. Americans, right and left and center, expect you to defend our interests, that includes not letting Iraq and Afghanistan become havens for terrorists.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
We’re wishy-washy. We’re opportunists without discipline. With the exception of some outstanding progressive heroes like nyceve, the majority of us are reactionaries. One of the reasons so few people outside the Great Orange take us seriously is that we undermine ourselves with our own inconsistency. It’s a word that I’m going to hit again and again here.
We’ve given our money. We’ve given our time. We’ve organized ourselves surprisingly well for such a populous movement. We have a fundraising arm. We have an annual conference. We have our own polls. We have Kos TV and Congress Matters. We have plenty of leaders in our ranks who work tirelessly on our behalf. It’s not that we’re not passionate. We are everything we need to win...except...we are not consistent. Our threats carry no weight because our opinions will change tomorrow. Our lobbying gains little momentum because our attention is always flitting away to the newest shiny object. Our righteous indignation has limited motivational powers because we never stick to a campaign. Remember The Path to 9/11? Most of us decided that it just wasn’t convenient enough to carry on that boycott, given that Disney is everywhere we look. And forget about the excuses we concoct to shop at Wal-Mart; most of us are of the opinion that boycotting them would be like boycotting the sun. Our resignation bolsters the very power we so despise in them. But, hey. They’re nearby, and they’re the only store around—having driven the competition out of business, of course.
Brought to you by B-Daddy: "Reading DailyKos so you won't have to."
Meanwhile, the impact of the boycott is yet to be felt (scroll down to 8th paragraph in the NYT article). More tellingly, stock picking technical analyst Zachary Scheidt doesn't even mention the boycott when analyzing the current stock price. (he says sell, because the pendulum has swung too far to optimism for WFMI.)
Finally, my search for pictures of the energized activists protesting whole foods yielded this one image.
In the current debate over health care, I have tried not to stray over the line, if there is one, that separates genuine fear from paranoia, and I find it very difficult. "Death Panels" are probably not literally on the docket, and certainly not specifically in the bills being put forward. However, the collective practical effect of the proposed health care policies will be the same; as I have previously discussed. So, is it extremist to make that claim or to use that language? It certainly draws attention to a set of issues, but it also leaves one open to ad hominem attacks that hurt one's credibility. I had hoped to use my blog to set an example for civil discourse, but find myself sometimes using extreme language to make my point, because it is important that people get it!
But I have to say that some folks on our side are crossing the line. Obama as Hitler? I don't think so. Carrying firearms to a town hall meeting with the Prez? Ain't gonna happen (and I'm glad, too). Did we elect the anti-Christ? He's not near smooth enough, without the TOTUS. Is Barack Obama a natural born citizen? You bet. My point is that the egregious nature of his health care proposals should be fuel enough to energize our side without giving in to paranoid impulses. "People will die" as a result of Obamacare is probably a fair statement, saying that there will be "death panels" probably is not.
As to whether the President is a closet socialist? That remains to be seen. Am I being paranoid? I invite, your comment.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Link here to high quality video.
Embed-able version below:
Lyrics provided just because I like German.
Hast du etwas Zeit fur mich dann singe ich ein Lied fur dich von 99 Luftballons auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Denkst du vielleicht g'rad an mich dann singe ich ein Lied fur dich von 99 Luftballons
Und dass sowas von sowas kommt
99 Luftballons auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont hielt man fur Ufo’s aus dem All
Darum schickte ein General Fliegerstaffel hinterher
Alarm zu geben, wenn's so wär
Dabei war'n da am Horizont nur 99 Luftballons
99 Dusenflieger, Jeder war ein grosser Krieger
Hielten sich fur Captain Kirk
Das gab ein grosses Feuerwerk
Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft und fuhlten sich gleich angemacht
Dabei schoss man am Horizont auf 99 Luftballons
99 Kriegsminister, Streichholz und Benzinkanister
Hielten sich fur schlaue Leute
Witterten schon fette Beute
Riefen, “Krieg” und wollten Macht
Mann, wer hatte das gedacht
Dass es einmal soweit kommt wegen 99 Luftballons, wegen 99 Luftballons, 99 Luftballons
99 Jahre Krieg liessen keine Platz fur Sieger
Kriegsminister gibt's nicht mehr und auch keine Dusenflieger
Heute zieh ich meine Runden
Seh' die Welt in Trummern liegen
Hab''nen Luftballon gefunden
Denk' an dich und lass' ihn fliegen
Further, a major goal of the President's approach to health care is cost containment. Here's a graphic from the WSJ on how cost containment is working for the "public option" in mail delivery.
Maybe the President should sue Columbia and Harvard for failing to educate him in economics. Maybe he just didn't pay attention. Maybe he just didn't care.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Watched Rachel Maddow again, and this time she was supposedly showing how the evil Republicans have no health care plan. She ridiculed, without any meaningful explanation, a clip in which Sen David Vitter (R-LA) said that he supported re-importation of cheaper drugs because it would cause a collapse of Big Pharma's pricing scheme. Maddow fails to realize that the cheap drugs Canadians and other countries purchase are subsidized by the United States. Re-importation would allow us to capture some of those subsidies. This is actually a very reasonable idea. Since when are Democrats against lower prices on drugs for Americans anyway? This actually started out as a Democrat idea. Has MSNBC become so hyper-partisan that they can be baited into attacking anything a Republican says? The Daily Kooks picked up on this as well, but 100 comments down, I noticed that some commenters recovered their sanity and remembered why the Dems had proposed re-importation in the first place.
Lost my drivers license recently. The CA DMV says that I had to send away for a form to get a new one. I got the form a little over a week later. Can I just send it in? No, the DMV web site directed me to make an appointment to get my new license. When I query the web site for the next appointment at either San Diego location, I get this message:
Sorry, no appointment is available at this office. Please choose a different officeThis message repeats as I spiral out from San Diego to every DMV office until I get to Coalinga. I am sure state and federal government will health insurance with this same vaunted efficiency of say, the DMV or the Post Office.
Alan Reynolds has an excellent article over at the Wall Street Journal arguing that the stimulus spending is not responsible for the recovery, if any, that is underway. Further, if we actually do spend the stimulus money, it will only worsen the recession based on empirical evidence. Only a tiny fraction has been spent. Historically, other countries, including our own, during the Depression, have been unable to spend their way to economic good times.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
From: David Plouffe, BarackObama.com
Date: Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 3:22 PM
Subject: Thursday: Strategy meeting with the President
Organizing for America
President Obama is holding a live strategy meeting on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time for all Organizing for America supporters. I hope you can join us, online or by phone.
The President will update us on the fight to pass real health insurance reform -- what's happening in D.C. and what's happening around the country. He'll lay out our strategy and message going forward and answer questions from supporters like you. And we'll unveil the next actions we'll organize together.
This is a critical time in this President's administration, and in the history of our country. I hope you can join us.
Here are the details:
What: Organizing for America National Health Care Forum
When: Thursday, August 20th, 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time
RSVP and submit a question for the President.
The President wrote to us a few weeks ago to ask us to go the extra mile this month in the fight for health insurance reform. And so far, you've stepped up in a big way: Last week, an astounding 60,000 Organizing for America volunteers stopped by representatives' and senators' local offices. You told your health care stories to staffers and members of Congress -- of losing insurance after getting laid off, of being denied coverage upon finding out about a serious illness. And you thanked those supporting real health insurance reform for all the work they've done so far.
But these local office visits were only part of the story. The D.C. media has been trumpeting coverage of town halls disrupted by angry opposition to reform. But the reality on the ground is very different. Organizing for America supporters are showing up in huge numbers at these meetings all across the country -- outnumbering opponents of reform, often by overwhelming margins.
You've organized 11,906 local events in all 50 states -- from press conferences to community discussions -- since we launched our big campaign for reform in June. And you've made hundreds of thousands of calls to Congress.
Your work so far has been incredible. But the special interests and partisan attack groups who oppose reform will not let up, and they will tell whatever lies they can to spread fear. There's a lot more work for all of us to do. This Thursday's meeting is our chance to huddle as a team, get the latest information and talk about how we're going to achieve this victory. You don't want to miss it.
Click here to RSVP and submit a question for President Obama:
http://my.barackobama.com/forum <redacted, contains cookie>
Hope you can make it,
Donate <redacted, no way dude are you getting me to help you get cash>
Paid for by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee -- 430 South Capitol Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Ensign is the junior senator from Nevada who had an affair with a female staffer and went to Podunk Chamber of Commerce today to say he was really, really sorry. (Link here for political guide on handling these things.) Amazingly this was followed by a lengthy analysis of what Ensign said and the manner in which he took questions. Then they dredged up every quote he had given during the Clinton impeachment hearings. Then they analyzed why Ensign should resign because he had called on Clinton to resign and then they spent more time refuting his response that he shouldn't resign because he hadn't done anything illegal. Yawn. Don't get me wrong, Ensign is a turd, but I have a news flash for MSNBC, it's no longer 1998. But, when you're a professional hater, I guess you just have to keep score.
Do you think they might have more interesting and/or relevant things to talk about? Heck, I would have settled for a little Whole Foods boycott talk.
This kind of programming leads to this.
Live + Same Day Cable News Daily Ratings for August 18, 2009
P2+ Total Day
FNC – 1,394,000 viewers [FNC=Fox News]
CNN – 471,000 viewers
MSNBC –401,000 viewers
CNBC – 173,000 viewers
HLN – 267,000 viewers
9 PM – P2+ (25-54) (35-64)
Hannity –2,972,000 viewers (746,000) (1,296,000)
Larry King Live—886,000 viewers (236,000) (349,000)
Rachel Maddow Show—1,063,000 viewers (393,000) (585,000)
Big Brother, Big Business– 175,000 viewers (78,000) (83,000)
Issues- 436,000 viewers (111,000) (183,000)
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I also feel compelled to respond to commenter criticisms of my carbon tax proposal because I have failed to communicate effectively. The objections go like this:
1. Man made global warming doesn't exist.
2. Even if America does something, China, India et al will just keep polluting.
3. Destroying America's wealth will do us no good.
4. If a carbon tax is tied to an income tax reduction, it will get a sunset clause.
All reasonable objections, however, I believe that my readers are missing my point. A carbon tax is the ultimate tax on consumption. Many studies have shown that shifting taxes away from income to consumption increase the wealth of nations. From the Library of Economics and Liberty:
The case for a consumption tax is that the tax wedge created by taxing capital income does enormous long-term damage to the economy. Taxing interest, dividends, and capital gains penalizes thrift by taxing away part of the return to saving. The unavoidable result is less saving than society would choose in the absence of any taxes.Further, there is evidence that long term economic growth is tied to the rate of savings.
Next, even if China and India do nothing, we will still be better off by taxing consumption and reducing income taxes. A carbon tax with offsetting income tax reductions has benefits, even if global warming is a total fantasy, even if there is no air pollution. The last objection is the trickiest and goes to the sausage making nature of legislation. This deserves to be a part of the Freedom Coalition Agenda, because ignoring the issue makes our side look bad. I also reiterate the ancillary benefits of a carbon tax: reduced air pollution and reduced world wide demand for oil and therefore less money for Saudi sheiks, Hugo Chavez and Ahmadenijad.
Monday, August 17, 2009
For those of you not familiar with Whole Foods, it operates a chain of natural and organic foods supermarkets. As you might guess the stereotypical shopper is an urban lefty who assuages his or her guilt over participating in industrial society by buying organic. From a DailyKook article:
A lot of progressives, vegetarians, professional and amateur athletes, and others who care so much about the environment and what they eat that they’re still willing to shell out three bucks for an organic orange, even in the midst of the worst recession in sixty years.As you might imagine, these lefty types think that the power of their indignation will drive Whole Foods to either get Mackey to change his position or the board to fire him as CEO. Fat chance.
Here is a summary of what he said, which is as good a summary of the free market position on health care as I have seen. I am nominating for inclusion in the Freedom Coalition Agenda as our Health Care Plank:
- "Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts."
- "Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits."
- Allow competition across state lines.
- "Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover."
- "Enact tort reform."
- "Make costs transparent."
- "Enact medicare reform."
- Revise tax law to make it easier to donate to those without insurance.
So now that the left is calling for a boycott, I would love to see its long term effect. My bold prediction is that nothing will come of this, because recycled organic self-righteousness has its economic limits. The lefties and others may stay away for a short while, but will come back because Mr. Mackey provides them the product they want at competitive price.
I think the leftists know this in their hearts. This is why they love government and hate capitalism. They know they can't even themselves resist the allure of better products at lower prices, but it runs counter to their desire to tell everyone else what's good for them (like eating your organic veggies.) So they want government to protect them from their own choices and in the process they hamstring the choices of others.
I couldn't resist checking out one of the calls for a Whole Foods boycott at DailyKooks. I also couldn't resist leaving this comment:
Some people have suggested shopping at Trader Joe's, but don't they carry Israeli products? Wouldn't that contribute to Palestinian oppression? Another alternative is Henry's, but they are always being picketed by the Grocer's union. This makes it really difficult to eat with a clear social conscience. I'd plant a garden in my back yard for fresh vegetables, but my landscaping service would charge me too much extra and I can barely communicate with their employees. I am afraid they'd ruin a vegetable garden. Any suggestions?
Sunday, August 16, 2009
But the tougher debate is over what is to be done. First, I think that left and right can accept that the historical record shows that civilization developed in a fairly narrow and unique time in geologic history. It is unlikely to remain stable indefinitely, so we are likely to need all of our wealth to be made available to deal with whatever conditions prevail. That means that wealth destroying plans, such as the current "cap and trade" bill have to be non-starters. Further, any steps that we do take, must be clearly effective. We can't afford to disrupt the economy to no benefit. Finally, since the free market has shown itself to be the most efficient producer of goods and services, we need to harness its power toward our stated end of stabilizing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
No one is smarter than the market as a whole and so cannot predict which technology will be most efficacious in replacing energy sources that are currently carbon based. Further, within carbon fuels, some produce more CO2 than others, so a shift from coal to natural gas for instance would reduce carbon emissions per BTU produced. So I propose a carbon tax at the point of consumption, with an offsetting reduction in the income tax so that government does not consume a larger share of GDP, therefore damaging the economy. Such a tax would be phased in gradually to further avoid economic disruption. Finally, the United States should make it a goal that all industrial and emerging economies sign a treaty regarding such a tax, because if only the United States takes this route, we are unlikely to reduce carbon dioxide emissions unilaterally.
A carbon tax has the advantage of simplicity and being technologically neutral. By raising the price of fuel sources in direct proportion to the amount of carbon oxidized, we directly attack the problem we wish to solve. Is wind power better than solar photovoltaic? Who knows? Over time the market will decide. Further, the carbon costs of building solar panels or wind turbines would be factored into the equation by the equitable distribution of this tax. Also, a carbon tax has the added advantage of reducing air pollution caused by other contaminants. The majority of air pollution in the United States today is caused by burning fossil fuels.
The other advantage of this plan, is that it would reduce global demand for fossil fuels. There may be a correlation, but it seems that the world's oil reserves are in the hands of despots and madmen. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran and Venezuela come to mind. Depriving these governments of oil revenue would go a long way towards advancing the cause of freedom in the world.
I have been a little slow on posting lately, as I waited until the last weekend to finish a paper for a class I am taking. More to follow, and as usual on this subject, I look forward to spirited debate.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Many of you know that I my health care is provided by the federal government, specifically military medicine. Yesterday, I had a medical appointment that missed me and believe my experience informs the current debate. Allow me to explain. Last month I ripped a calf muscle in my leg. I was concerned that I might have detached the muscle from the tendon, I tried to get an appointment with my primary care facility. No such luck, the first appointment was twelve days out. But primary care was not going to give me an appointment regardless, saying that I had to go to the emergency room. Now I knew I just needed to see the orthopedic doctors in the cast room. I have been to this hospital enough times with injuries to myself or my kids to know the drill. However, it wasn't until 8 hours later that I emerged with crutches, a wrap around my leg and pain killers. So how did my care differ in any significant way from what the indigent have today? I guess my wait was a little shorter and I probably got better drugs.
Actually, this experience was not as egregious as a similar experience two months earlier with a broken bone in my hand. In that case, I knew what was wrong, I needed an X-Ray so that I could get a cast. However, my primary care facility no longer takes X-rays in a cost cutting move. Previously, I would have gotten the X-Rays and received a same or next day referral to orthopedics, and gotten my cast. Total time - 2 hours, and I'm not clogging up the emergency room. Instead I spent six hours at the emergency room, clogging up the system for what was not really an emergency.
Fast forward to yesterday's events. I was given a follow up appointment at physical therapy to get some training in exercises to bring the calf back into shape, at least that's what I assume. To be honest, I think I knew what exercises I should be doing but wanted to be sure. If I was paying an out of pocket co-pay, would I have made the appointment? I am not sure, but it probably would have tilted me from going. I already had some literature, so the physical therapy was more to make sure I was ready and to get a little training. Unfortunately, 45 minutes after the scheduled appointment time and an hour after my arrival, no one had called my name. When I questioned the front desk, they said they would look into it; but I told them not to bother, I had to get back to work. In fairness, they did call me back at work to re-schedule.
In my opinion, if there was some economic incentive on both parties, this likely would not have happened. They had no direct economic incentive to treat me on time, because they didn't lose money when I walked away. I might not have made the appointment in the first place if I had a significant co-pay.
This is the myth of single-payer. Obama's former personal physician, Dr. David Scheiner, was on Larry King spouting off how single payer would be so much more efficient as a health care system and we should just abolish insurance companies. There are many things wrong with our current system, but the lack of economic incentive that accrues to single payer would devastate health care. At least with insurance, somebody has some skin in the game to push for efficiency. I am already seeing the effects of single payer in the relatively well funded military medical system, but it is struggling to contain costs. How much worse would it be for the whole country, which cannot afford the per person expense of military medicine.
P.S. The President has repeatedly lied about his previous support for a single payer system. If Bush had lied this egregiously the MSM would have been killing him nightly.
In case you're wondering, the picture above is of the actual facility where I my appointment was located. Beautiful facility, but as you can see from the picture, the lights were on, but nobody was home.
Monday, August 10, 2009
So here is the conservative response to this real human tragedy. First, we should untie the knot between employement and health insurance. My employer doesn't provide my auto insurance or life insurance (although life insurance is offered, I don't take it.) Second, that woman should have been able to keep her health insurance and that would be a welcome reform. Third, if we are concerned about situations like this, then Congress has the power and has always had the power to include payment for health insurance as part of unemployment benefits. The point is, the social safety net already in place is a better place to deal with these unusual, but not rare situations. But it is typical of the left to play on our sympathies to pass legislation that becomes a cure far worse than the disease. Finally, if the woman was truly disabled as Susan Davis alleges, then both Social Security and Medicaid, imperfect perhaps, are available to help this woman. Improve the programs already in place rather than build wholesale new ones.
My larger point is that every ill that is supposedly cured by health care reform probably has a smaller, less-radical, or already-in-place solutions and spending trillions of dollars isn't necessary. I challenge my readers, few as you are, to show me a flaw in the current system that really requires a national health insurance scheme to fix.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
But it is the cost containment piece that seems untenable to me. The headline in this morning's paper was "Big vaccine makers take lead in swine flu fight." The article notes that Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis reported making its first batch of H1N1 vaccine in early June and started clinical trials in July. Which leads me to the question, how is Obama going to stop a foreign company from making a profit on the swine flu vaccine, especially if it is the only company to make the vaccine? The article also notes that some small San Diego biotechs "are pursuing experimental approaches that could prove important if conventional vaccines run low or become ineffective." How long do you think that venture capitalists will fund these start-ups if strict profit caps are put on such companies. For all the talk about rising costs, a big part of the reason that health care is consuming a larger share of spending is that we have chosen this through a somewhat free-market process. We spend less on other things, like food and clothing, because they don't require high tech, and more on something we care about, like surviving swine flu. How is this bad? Unless we are going to nationalize the entire economy like say, North Korea, there will be inevitable upward pressure on health care spending. Trying to stop that will only result in outrageous injustices like denying people access to vaccines or paying doctors so little that they opt out of the government system.
Read this NY Times article on Medicare patients not finding doctors because of low federal reimbursement rates. This will be the fate of everyone locked into government plans if the cost containment proposed passes. For Tea Partiers attending Town Hall meetings, if they don't all get canceled, I have another question to ask:
5. To prevent doctors from opting out of "the public option" like they are doing with Medicare are you going to impose jail time or just fines on physicians who don't play ball?
Friday, August 7, 2009
1. With some estimates of Medicare fraud at $60 billion a year, why aren't we fixing that fraud before starting a new government run program.
2. How can the government manage the nation's health care when report after report from the Congress' own GAO shows mismanagement of Veteran's health care.
3. Ditto for health care on Indian reservations, also managed by the Feds.
4. Why is it so important to rush through a bill when polling shows that 80% of Americans are happy with their own Health Insurance coverage?
Notice how liberals always impugn the motives of those they disagree with, especially when they are losing the war for public opinion.
KT points out that all you conservatives and libertarian types are racists to oppose Obama's health care plan, according to the People's Economist, Paul Kurgman. WTF? I read it and I still don't believe it. Basically he is saying that we're all idiots who don't realize the fabulous job the government is already doing for us in the health care arena with medicare/medicaid, so the only logical explanation for our opposition is racism.
And what's a great left wing cause without a little thuggery thrown in. Reports of violence against those protesting Obamacare here, here and here. Note how the conservative protesters are always painted as rude or racist, but they are never violent, it is always the left that initiates violence.
Isn't violent suppression of free speech a hallmark of tyranny? And don' we recall a famous Democrat saying "Dissent is Patriotic"?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I am glad to see the administration start to think this issue through with more clarity. Zelaya brought this on himself by illegally attempting to change the Honduran constitution to allow himself more years in office. He did so by attempting to use mob rule to force an election that the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled illegal. The action of the military prevented a constitutional crisis and potential civil war. While it may be true that they jumped the gun, it was also clear that the Honduran Congress would have impeached Zelaya for his disregard of the constitution.
This matters deeply, because the rule of law is fundamental to the preservation of liberty; the goal to which this blog hopes to make a small contribution. By backing off, the administration has probably effectively precluded Zelaya's return to power before the next Presidential elections in Honduras in November. Then Honduras can emerge from this crisis with a democratically elected leader. While the actions of the Honduran military in removing Zelaya may not have been perfect, it was Zelaya, not the military who was undertaking a wholesale assault on the democratic principles of the Honduran constitution.
I think the administration should be praised for their change of heart, but I think they are too embarassed by their earlier mistake to want to trumpet this change. I also note that Team Obama was much more disciplined during the campaign. This quote from a State Department staffer who literally didn't get the memo:
A State Department spokesman, who was unaware of the letter to Mr. Lugar's office, said "there has been no decision to soften the policy on Honduras." He added that the administration still supports a return of Mr. Zelaya to power, as called for in the mediation plan by Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Below is a sample of the kind of disinformation that is a treasonous threat to the plans of Our Leader.
Maybe a little freedom of information act request would be in order later to see who ratted out whom?
But I say, let them strike. That way, if the governor had a spine, he could cull the ranks of the useless. Then everyone in California could see how little or how much impact these employees have on the smooth functioning of our daily lives. I'm betting that the impact to me will be low, but let events be the proof of the pudding.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Meanwhile Hotair tipped us off to a year old story from Oregon, where there is doctor assisted suicide as well as significant state government funding of health care. From the Fox News report.
Some terminally ill patients in Oregon who turned to their state for health care were denied treatment and offered doctor-assisted suicide instead, a proposal some experts have called a "chilling" corruption of medical ethics.
Since the spread of his prostate cancer, 53-year-old Randy Stroup of Dexter, Ore., has been in a fight for his life. Uninsured and unable to pay for expensive chemotherapy, he applied to Oregon's state-run health plan for help.
Lane Individual Practice Association (LIPA), which administers the Oregon Health Plan in Lane County, responded to Stroup's request with a letter saying the state would not cover Stroup's pricey treatment, but would pay for the cost of physician-assisted suicide.
To say that is chilling hardly gives the full effect. But not to worry, this is actually for the good of the patients, you just don't realize it. Dr. Sattenspiel (I swear I'm not making up that name) had this to say:
In issuing their latest Prioritized List of Health Services, state officials reported a new emphasis on preventive care and cost effectiveness. Dr. John Sattenspiel, LIPA's senior medical director, defended the measures.Thanks doc, I know I feel comforted already. Note the bottom line about which option is less costly in the video below.
"I have had patients who would consider knowing that this is part of that range of comfort care or palliative care services that are still available to them, they would be comforted by that," Sattenspiel said. "It really depends on the individual patient."