Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Headlines 11/30/10

NYT list of the new WikiLeaks
Nothing terribly important or earth-shattering. Certainly nothing like the last time. So why go to the trouble? It's hard to call this anything but anti-Americanism.

Cancun climate change summit: scientists call for rationing in developed world
Let me know when the hypocrits statesmen start having this meeting via go-to-meeting.com.

Monday, August 23, 2010

On Iraq and Iran

US combat troops have left Iraq. Iran has fired up a nuclear reactor that is almost certainly the beginning of a nuclear weapons program.

What would the world be like if we hadn't invaded Iraq?

If we hadn't invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein would still be in power. It's very likely that the UN would have let the post-Kuwait sanctions lapse. Whether he had chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons before we invaded or not, evidence suggests that he was trying maintain the ability to resume such work as soon as the sanctions and inspections ceased.

Today Iraq and Iran would be locked in an arms race. The most oil-rich and politically explosive piece of real estate in the world would be an even bigger basket case than usual. $4/gallon gas would be nothing if they started tearing up the Middle East.

Oil isn't the only reason we went into Iraq, and by itself it's not a sufficient one, but given than it is the fuel for every industrialized economy in the world, we should be glad that Saddam isn't in power today.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thought for the Day

We can't have an open border and a generous social welfare system.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Regulation and Moderation

Right now Congress is debating new regulations for financial institutions, and there are conservatives out there who think the very idea is wrong-headed.

I'm going to take the moderate approach. I also think it's the traditional conservative stance.

The conservative approach to the economy is largely "hands off." Businessmen know how to run their businesses far better than politicians. When people who know nothing about the private sector start making rules, they can bog businesses — and the economy — down by making innovation and growth more expensive than it would otherwise be. If the government will get out of the way, the free market will take care of itself.

Under one condition, that is.

Traditionally, conservatives recognized that free markets — and democracy — only work when coupled with morality. Humans will always sin, but there have been ages when common decency was a bit more common. And there have been times when greed surpassed good sense.

For example, monopolies are not inherently evil. But the 19th century monopolies became problems when they realized they could do whatever they wanted and then did just that.

In modern America we've reached a point, hopefully temporarily, when corporate officers see their good, the good of the company, the good of the shareholders, and the good of the customers as four distinct things. And they see their own good as the primary concern.

While we can't ignore the government's role in the collapse of the financial market, we shouldn't exaggerate it either. A whole lot of people did some awfully stupid and selfish things, assuming that they wouldn't be the ones left holding the bag. They've shown us that they cannot police themselves, so we're going to have to do it for them.

But that doesn't mean we should let the left do whatever crosses their beady little minds. Before we accept new regulations, we should consider a few things:

1) Was lack of enforcement of existing rules a factor in the collapse?
Government, but the left more than the right, loves to make new rules when the old ones were never enforced properly. This only adds burdens without creating any actual security.

2) Power corrupts.
There are stupid, greedy, and power hungry people in government, too. And there are good people who are simply overzealous. And there are people who don't have a clue what they're doing. New regulation should be added slowly and carefully with as much oversight on the regulators as the regulatees.

3) Less is more.
We have to have rules, but it's all too easy to overburden the private sector economy. Life is risk, and we'll never remove all the chance of another stupidity fueled collapse. Trying to do so will only prevent our economy from getting back up to full speed. But wasn't the "speed" part of the problem? Yes, but everybody's been burned pretty darn good; I think we can err to the side of liberty. In general, I think it's always preferable to err a little to the side of liberty.

4) Think out of the box.
Is "regulation" the only way to go? Is there a way to raise the costs of failure in such a way as to discourage insane gambling? Without adding to the cost of business? For instance, what if a corporate bankruptcy required the CEO and directors to forfeit 50% of their personal assets? Might jail time be appropriate for future failures of the magnitude we've recently seen? Replace golden parachutes with orange jumpsuits and see what happens.

All talk of regulation isn't bad. I applaud the GOP for working with the Democrats to make better regulation rather than just sitting in the corner so they "can't be blamed" for whatever insanity the Dems come up with. If we're careful, we might just all live through this.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Headlines 4/29/10

Illegal immigrants plan to leave over Ariz. law
... which would be what they wanted.

My take: Their hearts are in the right place, but this law is poorly thought out and probably won't survive the courts.

Obama: "At A Certain Point You've Made Enough Money" (video clip)
... and he gets to decide how much.

Mass. Cape Wind gets thumbs up, thumbs down
Green energy, just NIMBY.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thought for the Day

There are no jobs Americans won't do with 10% unemployment.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Medical Billing Rant

It's been crazy busy at work (which affects home), but I can break the silence with, I think, a work complaint that sheds some light on government and the future of health care.

I work in radiation oncology designing the patients' radiation treatments.

Under Medicare rules (and most insurance companies mimic their rules), if a patient gets a CAT scan today, I can't print out the radiation plan today, or we can't get all the money we would normally receive. If the patient starts treatment tomorrow, I can't print the plan tomorrow or we won't get another fee we're normally entitled to. The only way we can get all we're normally paid is to push the patient's treatment off until Monday.

In this case (and many others) Medicare rules punish efficiency and encourage us to let the patient suffer a little longer.

So I printed the plan today, he'll start tomorrow, and we get the shaft. Thank you, federal government.

(And next year, they may decide to slash all of those payments simply because they can.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thoughts on Tax Day

It is a fitting coincidence that I'm wearing largely black today. It's April 15, Tax Day. I'm writing this before I make out my check and further sour my mood.

No one likes to pay taxes, but it's a necessary evil. The government must do some things, and that takes money. The question is how much money and whose.

The debates about "sharing the wealth" and transfer payments and "paying your fair share" all boil down to this:

Some people think there is a certain amount of money beyond which you have no claim to your earnings. And they think they should get to decide what that is.

And the number keeps going down. They get stars in their eyes and wild ideas of all the good they could do if they just had a little more of your money. So brace yourselves; it's about to get worse.

Some tax-related reading for your ... well, enjoyment certainly isn't the right word:
The Preemptive Tax Revolt
Obama's promised tax increase on "the rich" "will raise almost $700 billion [over 10 years], or only enough to cover about half of the budget deficit this year alone."

Europe's VAT Lessons
VAT taxes start low then grow and never lower income tax rates.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tea Partiers Tax Hypocrites?

I recently highlighted an article that said 47% of Americans don't pay income taxes. At least one person took this fact and labeled the Tea Party folks hypocrites. Why?

By this person's "logic," if 47% of Americans aren't paying income taxes, at least 47% of the Tea Partiers aren't. So they're receiving more benefit from the federal government than they're paying in taxes — for example, they pay $1 in taxes and get $1.50 in benefits. They're benefiting from the government's redistribution of wealth and complaining about it at the same time.

Let's say that's accurate. How do we respond?

1) The US government spends much more than it takes in. Technically everyone gets more "benefit" than they pay in taxes. This will continue right up to the point where the federal government implodes (i.e., no one will lend them any more money).

2) Implosion or not, eventually we're all going to have to help pay that money back. Us, our kids, and their kids.

3) For this to be anything like hypocrisy, you'd need to be applying for some government benefit. Your state getting money for roads or schools isn't up to you. It's a passive benefit. These folks probably aren't actively seeking benefits.

4) Even if they are, our alleged benefiting from this government policy doesn't make it right.

This argument makes as much sense as a teenager watching his parents spend themselves into the poorhouse. Why should he care as long as he's getting new shoes, phones, ipods, and whatever else he wants?

How about because he cares about his family's financial situation? How about because he doesn't want his parents to ruin themselves? How about because he knows if this continues his family will get their house, cars, and boat taken away?

Enlightened self-interest? Nothing wrong with that.

Agree with them or not, the Tea Partiers are not hypocrites; they're concerned citizens.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Headlines 4/8/10

5 Needs Before The Recession Is Really Over
3 of which are highly unlikely under Obama's policies.

Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax
When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the support of Paul.

Health Care for CPAs
Job security for accountants (& probably lawyers)

Mexican 'Assassin Teams' May Target U.S. Law Enforcement, DHS Warns
Can we enforce our border now?

Obama 'Even Worse' Than Bush On Secret Wiretapping Case
It's nice when liberals meet reality.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

We Don't Oppose Immigration

An article explaining that health care reform would exclude illegal immigrants (yeah, right, for about six minutes) included this troublesome line:

"Proponents of reducing immigration believe that allowing illegal immigrants access to health care is an incentive for them to come, and an unfair tax burden on Americans."

What's so troublesome about that?

This author, like so many, says opponents of illegal immigration oppose all immigration.

That's simply not true. Sure, there are people who want to end all immigration, but that is a small number compared to those who are concerned about our porous border and the dangers and costs associated with it.

It's all too common in American politics to cast your opponent's position as the kind of thing all reasonable people should abhor. We can't allow that to happen here.

Opponents of illegal immigration are not xenophobes. We simply think the law should be enforced.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

ObamaCare Fallout

For a program that won't provide any benefits to speak of for four years, it's going to hit people pretty hard.

4Little-Known Health Care Law Provision Is a Budget Buster
"...could cost some Americans upwards of $2,000 a year."

4AT&T to Book $1 Billion Cost on Health-Care Reform
Let's start reforming health care by making providing it more expensive.

Related: The ObamaCare Writedowns

4Now It Can Be Told: Doctor Shortages Coming
Too few doctors + millions of newly insured = doctor shortages.

4The VAT Cometh
How they're going to pay for it all.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What's Next?

So the health care reform battle is over. (yeah, right)

Does that mean we get to rest? I wish. We know this batch of Democrats are an ambitious bunch, and now they've got the clock counting down to November (I'll be utterly and completely shocked if they don't lose the House).

So they've got to scratch a few more items off the wishlist before they lose the chance.

This didn't get much attention, but they've scratched one off already: college loans. The health care reform bill also made the federal government the sole provider of subsidized college loans. Why? They're going borrow money and re-lend it at a higher rate and use the profit to pay for health care.

Next? The spectre of "climate change." And immigration. And "financial reform."

Like I said, ambitious.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What's Wrong with Obamacare? redux

This is a brief summary of my opposition to ObamaCare, aimed mostly at visitors but hopefully also helpful to regulars. I have written thousands of words over the last year on this topic; I'm going to link to those and other folks, so if you want more detail or explanation, follow the links.

First and foremost, opposing ObamaCare does not mean I'm happy with the status quo. There are very few who don't want to reform our health care system. But ObamaCare isn't the way to do it. Setting aside the fact that most of it is unconstitutional and rips away many of our freedoms, it simply won't work.

It will not rein in health care costs.
The biggest problem we have is that costs are rising at an incredible rate. The biggest culprit is that health care costs are invisible to the patient. We appear to be spending someone else's money.

It will only improve access to medical care in a few years and then only for a little while.
When the benefits kick in (four years after the taxes start), people who didn't have insurance — or good insurance — will be able to go see a doctor when they want or need to. But there aren't enough doctors. And people tend to over-use "free" services. So it will be hard to get an appointment. Fees will go up (supply and demand). Then the government will step in and limit fees. And, like now with Medicare and Medicaid, providers will stop seeing people on these plans.

We can't afford it.
It's "cost savings" is based on accounting gimmicks. Every government program ends up costing more than promised. In the end, the government will have to increase taxes (which we can't afford), borrow money (which we can't afford), or cut services.

It's designed to lead us to single-payer.
Mr. Obama and just about every other major Democrat has said publicly this is supposed to be a first step toward a single-payer system. They can slowly push the system that direction. But the current bill also seems to be designed to fail in that direction — for instance, when doctor's start rejecting people on these subsidized plans because they don't pay enough, the Dems can call this a flaw in the private insurance market that is best fixed by putting everyone into one system.

Everything proposed has been tried somewhere else and failed.
What has been passed and what will be proposed next, it's all been done — whether in a state or another country. It doesn't work.

The latest on Massachusetts here and here.

What will work?
The only thing left is to reconsider the whole concept of health insurance. Why isn't it more like auto insurance — catastrophic coverage? If we ask health insurance to cover less, premiums go down. That savings can be used to pay cash for health care. Patients will be more aware of costs, and providers will have to keep costs in check. It works in eye care. It will work here. And if we still need to subsidize some people's care, we can, but that's in a system that is pushing health care costs down rather than driving them up.

More: Indiana's experience with HSAs

What's Wrong with ObamaCare?

Monday, March 22, 2010

ObamaCare: The Morning After

Barring some miracle preventing the president's signature, ObamaCare is law. What's left to say?

For Democrats, the ends justify the means. We already knew that, of course, but they sunk to new levels in this. The bribes, lies, and backroom deals were amazing to watch. You know it's bad when we feel it was a victory to get them to actually vote on the bill.

We know the truth about "pro-life" Democrats. They are either two-faced or terribly gullible — believing an executive order will accomplish what they couldn't make law and trusting an executive that has broken every promise he's made. Most of all, no matter how pro-life they claim to be, if they vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, they're supporting the radical left's agenda.

We now know that the Democrats are more committed to their leftist ideology than to their constituents. They didn't care that the people didn't want it. They didn't care that it's failed everywhere it's been tried. Their ideology demanded it, so it happened.

This isn't over. They've promised this is only step one. We know they want to go to a full-fledged single-payer system. In fact, I strongly believe they know this thing they've created will fail. I think it's weaknesses are coordinated to make single-payer look attractive. We have more work to do.

Elections matter. The American people put these guys in power, and this is what we got. Hopefully people will see we cut off our nose to spite our face. Hopefully the November elections will reward the Dems for these shenanigans.

There is hope. Many have argued that this bill, once passed, would be almost impossible to undo. And I certainly think we've got to hurry — the longer it lasts the harder it will be to undo. But given the way it was passed and how much we the people said we didn't want it, we may be able to generate enough political will to remove.

If it lasts long enough to start to damage things, the Dems will call for another leftward lurch, but we can remind the public that they said this wouldn't work from the beginning and they shouldn't trust the Dems to fix it.

There is more hope. Yes, life will be harder — higher taxes, lower employment, waits for doctors and procedures, less R&D into medicines and technology — but suffering is good for the soul. Seriously, though, one thing we must remember is that this world, no matter how bad it gets, isn't all there is. Seventy, eighty years and we're done. A drop in the bucket measured against eternity.

Friday, March 19, 2010

ObamaCare: All the GOP's Fault

While we fight the Democratic nightmare that would be ObamaCare, we shouldn't let the GOP off for their part in this monstrosity. If they had seriously addressed health care reform 10 years ago, we wouldn't be in this mess today.

When the Republicans first retook Congress in the 90's, everyone was sick of health care reform, so it's hard to blame them for letting it sit for a while. But they let it sit for 10 years.

That's when they invented Health Savings Accounts, although their version was poorly-executed and little more than a band-aid on our broken system. It was something, but not enough. They let a lot of time pass with no real attempts at changing the status quo.

President George W. Bush made another attempt at getting Congress to make some basic reforms in 2007, but the Democrats were in control by then and were not going let a Republican get any credit for health care reform.

What happened between 2003 and 2007? I mean besides the GOP spending spree.

In November, the Democrats will almost certainly lose at least one house of Congress for what they've done on this issue. And they deserve it.

I'm just not sure the Republicans deserve to replace them.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Healthcare Headline Ho-down

It’s About Government, Not Health Care
"the governmentalization of health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture"

He's right:
Pelosi: ObamaCare is the beginning of taking America “in a new direction”

Democrats launch ObamaCare bait-and-switch scam
"It revolves around incessantly mentioning only the least unpopular aspects of the legislation."

Mass treasurer slams ObamaCare
A Dem says the "model" for ObamaCare is failing.

The Failure of RomneyCare
"Fifty-six percent of Massachusetts internal medicine physicians no longer are accepting new patients... [For those] who do get an appointment ... the average waiting time is 44 days... [leading to] an increasing number of patients who rely on emergency rooms for basic medical services."

FACT CHECK: Premiums would rise under Obama plan
... meaning costs will too

Walgreens: no new Medicaid patients
When gov't cuts payments, providers can't afford to provide. Hello waiting lists.

Would the Line-Item Veto Ruling Invalidate the Slaughter Rule?
We can only hope.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do HSAs Hurt the Poor and Sick?

Liberals have finally had to admit that conservatives do more than say "no" to health care reform. There are actual ideas — even bills — on the table. I'm pleased to say some of them are even interacting with those ideas.

Jonathan Chait of The New Republic says, "Democrats propose to shift resources from the rich and the healthy to the poor and the sick. Republicans want to do just the opposite."

One idea he hates is health savings accounts (HSA) which, in his words, "give individuals who buy insurance a tax deduction for money they set aside for a high-deductible plan. Since tax deductions are worth more to people in higher tax brackets, and since high-deductible plans appeal more to those with lower medical expenses, the plans attract the rich and healthy, leaving the poor and sick behind."

Health care costs
He's partly right; in the short-term, going to an HSA-based system would not help the poor or the sick, especially those with chronic illnesses/pre-existing conditions. Could we do something to mitigate that? Of course.

Long-term, though, HSAs — no, let's call it what it is, cash. Long-term, only going to a cash-based system will reduce overall health care costs.

Insurance-based systems of one stripe or another have been tried in every corner of the world, and they have failed to control costs. The simple fact is insurance-based health care makes costs invisible to the user. Make costs visible and felt and patients will force health care costs down — or at the very least to flatten out — quite naturally.

We've seen this in eye care and veterinary medicine. It will work here too.

And reigning in health care costs helps everyone.

How HSAs work
But in his indictment against HSAs, I don't think Chait really understands how they work. First, it's not a "tax deduction" but pre-tax money. A minor difference? Yes and no.

The people he's concerned about largely don't pay income taxes, but this will still increase the amount of money they take in on April 15. And pre-tax money, unlike a deduction, decreases your adjusted gross income no matter what — you can still take the standard deduction and there wouldn't be any cutoffs.

The other key feature of HSAs, at least as envisioned by conservatives, is their permanence. Many people have a "flex" account that has to be used or forfeited every year. Money in an HSA would be yours until you die, and then it is inheritable. So you start saving now for health needs in fifteen years. This gives the young and healthy poor the chance to save up for when they get old and sick.

What about the poor?
I think Chait underestimates how many this can help. Employers who can't afford conventional health insurance could still afford to put a little into your HSA. The same goes for those who don't make enough to buy their own insurance — at least they can put a little in an HSA.

But maybe there would be people who can't put enough back to pay for their medical expenses. Don't we already have a system to deal with that? Most people accept that there is and must be some kind of social safety net. Can we fund HSAs for the poor much like the food stamp debit cards? Could we subsidize care for sudden expenses or chronic diseases?

Of course. That some people might need help under this system doesn't mean it isn't the best option for controlling health care costs long-term.

It is the best option. So far, it's the only option.

If you've got a better idea, we'd love to hear it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Daylight Saving Time and Gov't Wisdom

Are you suffering a Daylight Saving Time hangover? I am. Twice a year, but especially in the spring, we all complain about having to adjust to the time change.

Who imposed this upon us? Our government. Why? To save energy.

Does it? Probably not. It made sense back when the biggest household energy use was electric lighting. Now that we rev up the air conditioning when we get home, it's probably counter productive.

On top of that, the DST switch has been shown to increase car accidents and heart attacks and to decrease productivity. Even if it actually saved energy, would it be worth this? Probably not.

Will it ever change? Also probably not.

It's very hard to get Congress to admit to its mistakes. Actually, I don't think they've done it since Prohibition was repealed.

What does this have to do with anything (other than whining about the time change)?

Congress plans to make a massive change to our society. The end result will be to fundamentally alter how health care is provided and paid for in our country.

Their plans have never worked in any country where they've been tried.

They are really bad at recognizing their mistakes.

If we let them do this, we're stuck with it.

Respond as you deem appropriate.

Monday Morning Update

Stories you might have missed over the weekend:

Stupak on Dem opposition to his position:
"If you pass the Stupak amendment, more children will be born, and therefore it will cost us millions more."

The Cost-Control Illusion
"ObamaCare's real cost-control plan boils down to this: First subsidize coverage so much that costs explode, raise taxes as much as possible to pay for it, and when that isn't enough hand power to an unelected committee to limit treatment and control prices by government order."

Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs
We're broke, and now the bills are coming due. A great time to add a new entitlement.

A succinct explanation of Slaughter's House Rule

Friday, March 12, 2010

Headlines 3/12/10

House Dems look at 'Slaughter Solution' to pass Obamacare without a vote
They're about to slaughter the Constitution.

U.S. considers some free wireless broadband service
"Free" only for some. Another entitlement.

U.S. Sitting on Mother Lode of Rare Tech-Crucial Minerals
But do we have the will to use them?

An end to fishing?
Fish are, after all, more important than people.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Who Cares About Public Opinion?

Polls consistently show the public doesn't like the current health care reform proposals — whether they think they're too conservative, too liberal, or too stupid is beside the point. They don't like them and don't want any of them.

Many are asking: So what?

Should every policy be based on polls? Are we not a republic instead of a democracy? We elect people to govern, and they must govern, right?

Yes and no.

Every issue is not the same, and there are times when leaders must lead. As the columnist for The New Republic pointed out, public opinion was against the Iraq surge, but Bush did it anyway. That was totally appropriate.

National security and foreign policy often require the consideration of classified information. Decisions frequently have to be made quickly. The issues are complex and have repercussions that are difficult to predict; specialists spend their entire lives studying them and give their educated opinions to our leaders. Only our leaders have all the information, and they must act.

Domestic policy is different. It can be complicated but less so than foreign policy. Issues are less likely to involve state secrets and time sensitive decisions.

Most importantly, they directly affect us.

Foreign policy is about what our country does somewhere else. Domestic policy is about what our country does to us. Decisions about health care reform will directly affect all of us for the rest of our lives.

To argue that the government knows best and should do what is best for us is to advocate treating us like children. I make my kids go to bed, eat healthy food, and get their booster shots because it's good for them. But no one makes me do any of those things. I am an adult and have the right and responsibility to make my own decisions which I must then live with.

If Washington decides to treat us like children and force us to do "what's best for us," I think they'll find out who cares about public opinion: the public. People are very upset about how this whole thing appears to be going down, and November is not that far away.

What do you think? Should the government do what's "best" for us? Do we only have a voice on election day, or should our representatives care what we say every day?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Headlines and Links

... and nary a health care reform article in sight.

Tea Party Diversity
It's not just white people.

Authorities bust 3 in infection of 13M computers
Is calling for the death penalty too harsh?

'Archaic' Network Provides Data Behind Global Warming Theory
So the data have to be massaged, leaving ample opportunity to make it say what you want.

To Keep and Bear Arms
An excellent piece on the right and need of self-protection.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

ObamaCare Headlines

Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Health Care Votes?
After the "Louisiana Purchase" and the "Cornhusker Kickback," this really isn't hard to believe.

Why Health Insurers Make Lousy Villains
"...the profit margin for health insurance companies was a modest 3.4 percent over the past year"
Yet Dems can't seem to get upset over attornies' profits.

Health Insurance Profits: Not Worth the Outrage?
You know the Dems have problems when ABC is turning on them.

Does Lack of Health Insurance Kill? (Probably Not)
"...no significantly elevated risk of death among the uninsured."
So millions aren't dying because they don't have insurance.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Liberal Elitism in Obamacare

There are two things about the Democrat's attempts at health care reform that stand out. First, their approach to the problem relies on the federal government doing many things it has not previously done. Second, as the public gets louder in its rejection of their approach, the Democratic party prepares to run roughshod over public opinion and the traditional legislative process.

Both are symptoms of liberalism.

The first presents no surprise; liberalism believes that the solution to most problems and the appropriate holder of power is the centralized government. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe power should be kept as close to the people as possible both because of our federalist constitution and because it's just wise.

The second should be more of a surprise. Liberals bill themselves as the ultimate populists. They believe in the basic goodness of people (e.g., society makes criminals do bad things vs some people being just bad). They believe they give a voice to the little guy.

And they believe they have to protect the little guy. That is where the trouble appears.

Liberals love the little guy, but they don't respect him. They see themselves as smarter or wiser than the general public. If the little guy agrees with them, that's great, but if he doesn't, they're going to do what they have to for the little guy's sake.

In health care reform, that means passing the bill they think is best (centralized control) even though the public hates the idea. The fact that the public hates the idea is proof that they are smarter than the public.

As the ObamaCare struggle goes on, its liberal proponents have tended to one of two responses to public opposition. One group (usually politicians) says, "How can they oppose a bill that doesn't exist?" They imply, of course, that the public is upset over nothing; they're just lemmings following the latest email they got.

The other group (usually liberal pundits) say, "People don't really understand the issues." The less charitable say, "Americans are stupid, and we should push this down their throats for their own good." That really doesn't require interpretation.

So if we had to boil liberalism down to two simple phrases, this is how it would look: "Government is good" and "people are stupid."

This is about to be played out in Washington. The Democrats appear willing even to lose control of Congress to push through a bill the public hates because they know what's best. And they hope maybe, just maybe, after ObamaCare is imposed upon us we'll realize they were right.

If the Dems do go through with this plan, we all need to realize that every yes vote is calling us stupid and respond accordingly.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Headlines 3/1/10

Can you believe it's already March?

The Indiana Healthcare "Reform" Experience
Cold hard cash changes things.

Paring the Deficit, by Selling Part of the Radio Spectrum
An interesting idea: Raising money by ending TV over the airwaves. I said "interesting," not "good."

Health care bill? What health care bill?
"An emerging talking point from Democrats ... despite the fact that the House and Senate have actually passed national health care bills, ... there is not, in fact, a national health care bill."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Healthcare Summit Reading

Government Ordered Health Care Rationing: It’s in the Bill!
Of course, it always has been, but here's chapter and verse.

TV Coverage Limits Success of Health Care Summit
"...the summit broadcast will provide six hours of political posturing about the proper role of government in regulating and mandating health care coverage."
As if that were a bad thing.

A Better Way to Reform Health Care
"Three policy changes will go a long way to achieving these objectives: (1) eliminate the tax code's bias that favors health insurance over out-of-pocket spending; (2) remove state-government barriers to purchasing and providing health services; and (3) reform medical malpractice laws."

The use of reconciliation 1980-2008
Turns out budget reconciliation is usually used for, well, budget-related issues.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GOP's Healthcare Summit Trap

"You know this is a trap."

How many action movies use that line? The girl's been kidnapped, and the bad guy has made sure the hero knows where she is. Someone tells the hero, "It's a trap."

And he says, "Of course it is, but I still have to go."

This is the same thing. Pres. Obama's health care summit is clearly a trap for the GOP.

If they go, when the GOP doesn't back the president's health care bill, he can claim he tried to be bipartisan and ram in through.

If they don't go, the networks will show a sea of empty chairs every time health care comes up.

What do you do when you know it's a trap? You try to figure out how to turn the trap around on your foe.

Republicans, this is what you need to do:

The cameras will be there. Use them to your advantage. Don't let them paint you as "the party of no." Be the party of "this-not-that."

Start every statement with things like:
"Since this has failed everywhere it's been tried..."
"Since this will be ruinously expensive..."
"Since the American people have clearly said they don't want this..."

Then introduce your ideas.

Let the doctors among you do a lot of the talking. Maybe even have them use phrases like, "I wouldn't expect a lawyer to understand this but..." People trust doctors and are suspicious of lawyers. Use that.

And try to keep this from looking like a funeral. But if you're successful, it might be the wake for the Dem's crappy health care reform bill.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Healthcare Summit Preview

Later this week, President Obama and the Dems and GOP in Congress are supposed to get together for a little pow-wow on health care reform.

A little of what to expect:
A Year Later, Obama to Offer Health-Care Bill

Boehner: Healthcare Summit Will Be 'Infomercial'

And the American people's stance:
61% Say Congress Should Start All Over Again on Health Care

All we can do now is wait and see.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Headlines 2/19/10

Record-low number like Congress
Now if people will just do something about it.

Texas sues EPA over anti-pollution plan
ClimateGate strikes again.

10 ways Congress is letting you down
Not an exhaustive list.

Mayo Clinic in Arizona to Stop Treating Some Medicare Patients
Apparently it costs money to treat patients.

Work Overload Brings Panic, Anxiety, Stress
Sometimes the news isn't exactly news.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Amend the Judiciary

Many on the left and the right are allegedly very upset over the controversial (and frequently misrepresented) Citizens United v. FEC (pdf) SCOTUS decision.

Some take this as support for Congress to change campaign finance laws. I'd like to suggest we take things one step farther.

Let's change the judiciary.

As currently understood, the Supreme Court is almost all-powerful. Justices receive lifetime appointments, and the only way to deal with an unpopular SCOTUS ruling is to amend the Constitution — no matter how crazy or asinine the decision.

The framers of the Constitution thought the courts would be the weakest branch of the government. (I think they believed if we didn't like their decision, we'd just tell them to kiss off.) They were wrong. (Our commitment to law keeps us from collectively flipping them the bird.)

As it stands, the Supreme Court is very nearly an oligarchy. Their appointment is far removed from the democratic process, and it is almost impossible to unseat one of them.

It's time to change some things.

I propose the Judicial Power Amendment with two provisions:

1) Federal judge and Supreme Court justice appointments will be for a term not to exceed fifteen years.

2) A Supreme Court decision may be vacated by agreement of the President and two-thirds of each house of Congress.

Neither of these provisions seriously limit the power or independence of the courts, but it brings them back down to earth a bit. They, and all of government, need to be reminded that the power to govern in this country is supposed to rest with we the people, not the friends of the powerful.

What do you think? Too much? Not enough? What would you change?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Conservatives, Environmentalism, & Global Warming

From the beginning conservatives have been largely skeptical of the environmental movement. That skepticism has only increased as environmentalists more and more resemble socialists. Folks wonder if the environmentalists believe in their stated cause at all or if it is simply a front for their true cause.

Then along comes the idea that humans are causing global warming. The alleged cause: carbon dioxide, the natural result of just about every form of energy production we have (not to mention breathing). The prescribed cure: drastic cuts in the amount of CO2 produced, no matter the costs to industrialized nations. The penance: huge transfer payments to third-world countries.

Now, let's imagine that the data used to claim the earth is warming becomes suspect. Perhaps it turns out that numbers have been "adjusted" and the original data lost. Or that a semi-organized effort has been made to shut naysayers out of the debate.

So when a prominent global warming researcher admits the world may have been "warmer in medieval times than now" and "for the past 15 years there has been no 'statistically significant' warming," you might expect it to be big news.

Yeah, if you'd been living in a cave. Anything that runs contrary to the accepted global warming dogma is ignored by the majority of the media and by policy makers. Why give up a perfectly good crisis just because of data?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Headlines 2/11/10

East Coast Blizzard Tied to Climate Change
When nothing qualifies as contrary evidence, you have dogma, not science.

Ten GOP Health Ideas for Obama
Yes, they do have them. Not everything I want, but a good start.

School gives away iPods with stimulus money
Nice to know we're going into debt for a good cause.

Finally, you've probably already seen it, but I had to post it:
The Green Police
It's funny until it's true.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Headlines 2/10/10

Justice Thomas Defends Campaign Finance Ruling
“If 10 of you got together and decided to speak, just as a group, you’d say you have First Amendment rights to speak and the First Amendment right of association,” he said. “If you all then formed a partnership to speak, you’d say we still have that First Amendment right to speak and of association.”
Ralph Nader and Robert Weissman Don't
Apparently they think freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are either/or.

Obama Says Bipartisanship, But What He Wants Is GOP Surrender
Someone broke the code!

Is US bullying Toyota on recall because of GM?
The appearance of impropriety...

8 Sneaky Ways to Raise Taxes
... all of which will soon be employed.

Robber to Lawyer
Is that an improvement?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On the Tebow Ad

All the drama with Focus on the Family's Super Bowl ad over this?

I wasn't sure who should feel worse — the folks who donated the money for that ad or the pro-"choice" groups who look pretty silly after objecting to it.

And then I thought, "I wonder if that was the idea."

It's great if you can win over the hearts and minds of the population with solid arguments and clear reasoning. But if you can get them laughing at your opponents, that scores a point too.

After all the squawking over the ad, a lot of people will visit Focus and see more than they ever could have fit into a 30-second spot. They can get their message out and make some pro-aborts looks silly. Touchdown.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Obama's College Giveaway

One item in Pres. Obama's State of the Union address hasn't gotten a lot of air time since:
"... let's tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years — and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college."
My initial response was, "Are you out of your ever-loving mind?!"

After digesting and contemplating this idea for a while, I've replaced "ever-loving" with something stronger.

Do we really need another giveaway in this country? Is there something we haven't hocked to China yet?

Let's look at three reasons this is a terrible idea.

1) One of the reasons college costs so much these days is financial aid keeps going up.

Wait, isn't it the other way around? Yes and no. It's a cycle, a little dance they do. Colleges know that if they raise prices, aid will just go up. Grants will grow, and if they don't people can borrow a little more. So financial aid increases, then the colleges can raise prices again.

Promising that you'll never have to pay off your full loans will only make that worse.

2) Making college "more affordable" will further encourage people to go to college who really aren't cut out for it.

Government alone isn't at fault here, but more and more people think of college as simply the next level of education after high school. And anyone who suggests that trade schools are a good alternative is usually viciously attacked.

Everyone isn't cut out for college. Every job shouldn't require a college degree.

And supply and demand says sending more people after the same product will increase the price of that product.

3) We give away enough.

We give money and food to the poor. We have housing assistance. We have health care for the poor and many want to expand that to everyone. Now we want to make a college education an entitlement? Where will it end?

It's time for the "gimme" mentality to stop. People need (on a deep, fundamental level) to make their own way. Helping people in need is one thing. Making sure everyone has anything they could desire is something else entirely — something toxic.

It's time we say, "Enough!"

And it's time we tell Mr. Obama that the American people aren't his piggy bank for whatever project crosses his mind. Our Constitution lists the responsibilities and prerogatives of the federal government; we need to obey it. I know he used to teach it, but I wonder if he ever read it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Just in case you missed these interesting little tidbits this weekend...

Obama endorses deficit commission plan
"... after November."

(More on this deficit commission.)

Naked airport scanner catches cellphone, misses bomb components
Get ready for body cavity searches.

Vocational classes can keep kids in school, on career path
... but we're afraid of appearing to discriminate.

An interesting older piece I came across: Why Martin Luther King Was Republican

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Future of Healthcare Reform

Unless you're living under a rock, you've surely heard that the GOP won Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat putting the Democrats one vote shy of a filibuster-proof super-majority.

The big question is what will happen with the healthcare reform bill(s). So far the options seem to be:

1) The House can pass the Senate bill as-is.
2) The Senate can employ the "nuclear option" and pass a conference bill with 51 votes.
3) The whole thing could die and go away as it did in the 90's.
4) The whole thing could start over with a GOP that can demand to be involved.

I fear we'll get 1 or 2. I deeply hope we get #4.

I really don't want #3. There are a lot of reasons why healthcare reform went away for more than a decade after the death of HillaryCare, but it was a mistake. It's not one we want to repeat.

Even if I don't get everything I want in reform (which is almost certain), Congress could do some real good if they'd drop the bickering, posturing, and ideological wishlists and tackle those issues most Americans can agree on.

We can get more people insured and lower the cost of insurance if we open up interstate insurance markets. We can create a pool for those who have problems getting health insurance that isn't a "public option." We can come down on those who look for a loophole to drop insurees after they get sick. We can reduce the cost of providing medical care by instituting some basic tort reforms.

We can improve our health care system without turning it upside down or making it an arm of the federal government. And we need to Congress that's exactly what we want.

Maybe now they'll listen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Headlines 1/19/10

N.J. Boy, 8, On Terrorism Watch List
Maybe if his dad reports him to the feds they'll let him on a plane.

White House budget director blames old computers for ineffective government
At least they're not blaming Bush this time.

Unions nab sweetheart health-care deal
One more ObamaCare bribe for the list.

World misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown
How something "everyone knows" can be completely false.

US accused of 'occupying' Haiti as troops flood in
Yeah, just like they did in Malaysia.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We Want Our Money Back

The Obama administration wants to tax banks to pay for the financial bailout, telling banks, "We want our money back."

Can we say that to Washington?

Anyway, some claim this is unfair. They're right.

They want to tax some banks — those meeting certain magic criteria — without asking if these banks have paid back or even ever received taxpayer funds.

But didn't all these banks benefit from the assistance to troubled banks? Probably. But does that make it right to ask you to pay a special tax to pay for actions of another you have no control over?

Would we accept this with individuals? No. Then we shouldn't accept such tortured logic with banks.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unforced Error on Health Plan Tax

Big Labor is upset the Dems want to levy a tax on high-value health insurance plans. I'm just scratching my head over whether the Dems realize what they're doing.

On the one hand they say they want to tax "Cadillac" health plans (whatever that means) to discourage them, resulting (somehow) in lower health care costs for everyone.

On the other hand they want to pay for health care reform by taxing these health plans.

So which is it? Are we trying to get rid of them or use them for revenue? More importantly, how can we use them for revenue if we're trying to get rid of them? I'd say it's all an accounting gimmick, but I don't think they're bright enough to recognize the contradiction.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Terror is an Important Word

Conservatives have been attacking President Obama over his approach to terrorism and the war on terror.

Among other things, they're attacking his apparent unwillingness to use the words "terrorism," "war on terror," and, especially, "Islamic terrorists."

This unwillingness disturbs me because an important part of any mission is the goal. If you don't know what you're trying to accomplish, you can't even know what resources you need or what steps you must take.

In war, this is especially important. Who are we fighting? Why are we fighting them? Why are they fighting us? Where are they? How do we find them? What kind of weapons will they use? What kind of targets do they seek?

All of these questions and more require that we know exactly who and what we're fighting.

We are at war with a group that has no nation, but they are predominately found in a couple of particular parts of the world. They have a very distinct ideology that is taught in particular parts of the world. Their ideology makes them eager to die for their cause. They make no distinction between soldier and civilian. They see many of their own neighbors as part of the enemy.

They find the majority of their recruits not among the poor but disaffected middle and upper class young adults. They have no common race or nationality; what they share is ideology. Their goal is not land or money or power but the conversion or extermination of "infidels."

Does this describe Nazis or Soviets? Are these Irish terrorists or Latin American revolutionaries? Of course not.

Are we going to go on offense or simply react to their attacks? Can we cut off their supply lines or anticipate their targets?

Everything in this war depends on knowing who the enemy is.

We must name the enemy. Only then can we maintain focus, resist mission creep, and maintain the support of the populace.

Only then can we win.
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