"Anything that law enforcement does has the potential for abuse. Is the answer then to not have law enforcement?"
No. We want it both ways, we want to be not investigated when innocent and we want all crime stopped before it is even contemplated. So good luck pleasing everyone. Seriously thank you for bringing your experience and professionalism to a sometimes impossible job.
One beef I have from the story is that they defined success as either arresting the drug dealer or getting them to leave the neighborhood. They don't leave the city and they don't leave the business. Assuming they are known criminals committing crimes, it is not an equivalent success IMO to have them move on rather than marked with an arrest, a conviction and a sentence.
"the increase in life expectancy from around 70 to close to 80 since the 1970s"
We may not know precisely the reasons for increased longevity but it also weakens the arguments that our food supply, drinking water, air quality, CO2 level and climate change are increasingly unhealthy to human life.
Scary data, Obama's own estimates are $9.1 trillion starting 2010 (up $2 trillion today while leaving for Martha's Vineyard) plus this year's new debt...and that is without healthcare?? Who can comprehend new debt into the tens of trillions much less find someone in a position to lend it.
The Fed is printing the paper money first and selling bonds second. If one of us financed major debt with float, we would be guilty of a federal felony of check kiting. With Madoff, they called the same thing a Ponzi scheme.
We can follow the Mexican example where the nuevo peso in place of a thousand old pesos; as they did, we will need a new dollar $ign to signify the new, devalued American currency.
CCP, agree but... it is the middle with the moderates that he was suckering, not so much the right.
Obama had huge support but didn't get all his 53% or 57% or more to buy fully into the agenda. His coalition requires him to wink to ACORN and the far left and talk reasonably to the center, like Sotomayor did - totally different to activists than in confirmation.
Campaigns might be run on generalities but these bills cannot be written without specifics and the specifics fly in the face of the reasonable and prudent sounding salesmanship.
In other words, the radical 'war' worked from the outside but is exposed in victory. Now the pendulum swings the other way and right wingers will hopefully be exposed for trying to ram freedom, liberty and a constitutionally-based version of limited government down our throats, lol.
(Crafty: Lets continue this conversation on the Politics thread.) - Ok, but as I proof read this looks a lot like a rant.
CCP:"...unless we all start sacrificing now this country is headed for a total collapse...all this spending will destroy us...We need to stop giving life ling pensions to people who retire at 50 and then get other jobs...Medicare and social security ages will have to increase to 70...some skeptics decry that THIS IS the MO of BO. Destroy the country so it has to be rebuilt from the bottom up - as a socialist state. I am short of personally subscribing to this but I don't discount it altogether." --- As GM pointed out, Obama is tanking and support for the policies tanked earlier and stronger. You don't re-acquire to Messiah status or hope and change euphoria after being exposed as a mere mortal and an ordinary liberal / Marxist. I agree that Obama doesn't know his policies will tank the country and our economy. I think liberals and anti-capitalists take our amazing past economic successes for granted. I have long challenged any supporter or Obama biographer to tell me any book the young leader has read about economics that wasn't in opposition to capitalism. He thinks investors will invest anyway, even if you threaten, berate them publicly and punish them. After empirical result after empirical result to the contrary, this Ivy League elitist still believes building up the public sector and tearing down the private sector shows good promise for the country.
Obama also has shown more adherence to his convictions than former Pres. Clinton who was happy to jump ship and sail a different direction whenever his poll analysts gave him the green light. Obama instead will cling to incrementalism toward his goals versus abandonment.
Tanking public support affects congress and Obama's ability to get things done. Democrat majorities exist because some liberals are representing conservative leaning districts. For example, R's would win at the Presidential level in South Dakota by 30 points while Tom Daschle would hold his senate seat by 30 points, bringing power and money to the state. But cross the line with the electorate and he is gone. (I wonder if Harry Reid knows that story, lol.) In North Dakota, 2 senators are liberal in a state that is typically a 30 point margin to the conservative side. They can't stay in lock-step with a tanking, exposed agenda and hold power. Small states sound trivial, but their senator's vote has the same weight as Boxer, Schumer, Kennedy, Durbin, et al. Same goes for house districts. Watch these representatives squirm at their townhall meetings and ACORN invented the show up and voice your concern tactic. I heard one new D-congressman assuring his outraged townhall that he won't vote for the healthcare bill if it contains liberal provision x or y.
The current power structure in this country took hold on election night of Nov. 2006, when Pelosi-Reid-Hillary-Barney Frank, with Obama took control, not in Jan. 2009 when Pres. Obama took office, (and this mess was not created by free markets "running wild"). The liberal machine also controlled certain aspects of Washington before that to the extent that willing Republicans sided with the liberal agenda on spending and the atrocities of Fannie Mae etc.
CCP, I agree with your point about control the spending and I think that has the crossover appeal, not tax cuts or social issues at this juncture.
To finish Cheney's famous alleged interrupted statement that deficits don't matter, a family making good money might run a deficit when a couple of the kids are off to college. Same goes for my daughter in braces, lol, but I won't be running a deficit on her forever or without limits. Reagan brought down a Soviet empire and re-built our economy, and his legacy is that this growth led to balanced budgets (Bill Clinton aligned with Newt Gingrich) within a reasonable time. The aftermath of 9/11 had similar emergency conditions, but just like Obama, R's took their eyes off the emergency and paid the price economically and politically.
So we have a spending and debt-caused crisis and were told the solution is new spending on steroids with new debt beyond anyone's comprehension.
Crafty wrote recently that we have to offer more than just 'no' (to healthcare in particular). To govern with a mandate and accomplish positive things in the future that is true, but to immediately stop this train wreck I think the message, outside of the far left, we can all agree on is just - 'NO'!
I found this link and paper on the census site while writing a libertarian appeal to oppose government healthcare. I was to just post my suspicion that they would be nosing at your door into your private affairs and wouldn't miss the chance to peruse your coverage. As noted previously, your participation in the 'questionnaire' is mandatory and your refusal is a felony(?)!
"In March 2000, the March Current Population Survey (CPS) added an experimental health insurance "verification" question. Anyone who did not report any type of health insurance coverage was asked an additional question about whether or not they were, in fact, uninsured. Those who reported that they were insured were then asked what type of insurance covered them. This paper takes an initial look at the characteristics of people who report coverage in these questions, assesses the quality of the information collected, and provides a preliminary estimate of the effect of this question on March CPS estimates of the number and percentage of Americans without health insurance coverage." --- "The Verification Questions
The universe for the March CPS verification questions consists of all households with at least one uninsured person. (The March CPS employs household-level screening questions, so the question universe has to be described in household terms.) The ultimate aim of the questions was to find out which of the 42. 6 million people classified as uninsured from the sequence of questions that ask about specific insurance types are, in fact, uninsured. For all households that fall into this universe, a version of the question below is asked.1
I have recorded that (read names) were not covered by a health plan at any time in 1999. Is that correct?
If the answer is "NO", we ask: Who should be marked as covered?
For all those people, we then ask: What type of insurance was (name) covered by in [year xxxx]?" ---- IIRC, the Census was constitutionally assigned to ask how people in your household - period - for congressional district and electoral college purposes, not to 'sample' populations or design or support new government programs.
Left behind on the board and left behind by the country is the libertarian aspect of government-run healthcare. A questioner of soon to be former Sen. Arlen Specter put it bluntly and accurately: ""I have spent 35 years in information technology. I read this bill very closely. You are about to concentrate more information about more Pennsylvanians and Americans in this bill in one place in the computers of Washington that has ever occurred."
If anyone out there is undecided about 'universal' coercive, healthcare or against it but haven't communicated that strongly to all your representatives yet, did you know:
* Besides asking about bike helmets, your pediatrician already asks your kid if there are guns in the house and puts the note in the file, soon to be government file.
* The IRS that some wanted to eliminate is the enforcement agency written into the healthcare bill.
* The U.S. Census will be asking in your MANDATORY questionnaire about your health insurance VERIFICATION and the coverage you carry for all in your household (in spite of the fact that they will communicate nothing they find about illegal immigration to the INS.) http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/hlthins/verif.html "In March 2000, the March Current Population Survey (CPS) added an experimental health insurance "verification" question. Anyone who did not report any type of health insurance coverage was asked an additional question about whether or not they were, in fact, uninsured. Those who reported that they were insured were then asked what type of insurance covered them."
"The Verification Questions
The universe for the March CPS verification questions consists of all households with at least one uninsured person. (The March CPS employs household-level screening questions, so the question universe has to be described in household terms.) The ultimate aim of the questions was to find out which of the 42. 6 million people classified as uninsured from the sequence of questions that ask about specific insurance types are, in fact, uninsured. For all households that fall into this universe, a version of the question below is asked.1
I have recorded that (read names) were not covered by a health plan at any time in 1999. Is that correct?
If the answer is "NO", we ask: Who should be marked as covered?
For all those people, we then ask: What type of insurance was (name) covered by in [year xxxx]?" ----- Quoting straight from the Census link above. I will re-post in Census thread, but I felt a strong need to link this to the issue and principle of citizen liberty and government-invaded privacy. - Doug
Big Government, Big Recession There's no evidence for the theory that state spending has shortened this or any other slowdown.
By ALAN REYNOLDS (WSJ)
‘So it seems that we aren’t going to have a second Great Depression after all,” wrote New York Times columnist Paul Krugman last week. “What saved us? The answer, basically, is Big Government. . . . [W]e appear to have averted the worst: utter catastrophe no longer seems likely. And Big Government, run by people who understand its virtues, is the reason why.”
This is certainly a novel theory of the business cycle. To be taken seriously, however, any such explanation of recessions and recoveries must be tested against the facts. It is not enough to assert the U.S. economy would have experienced a "second Great Depression" were it not for the Obama stimulus plan.
Even those who think government borrowing is a free lunch can't possibly believe the government has already done enough "stimulus spending" to explain the difference between depression and recovery.
CNNMoney recently calculated that the stimulus plan has spent just $120 billion—less than 1% of GDP—mostly on temporary tax cuts ($53 billion) and additional Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment benefits. Less than $1 billion has been spent on highway and energy projects. Commitments for the future are much larger, but households and firms can't spend commitments.
Proponents of Big Government can't say we avoided the next Great Depression due to hypothetical stimulus money that is mostly unspent. So they argue it's more important that the federal government merely continued spending and didn't "slash" spending as in the early 1930s. But the federal government didn't slash spending in the early '30s. Federal spending rose by 6.2% in 1930, 7.7% in 1931 and 30.2% in 1932. Since prices were falling, real increases in federal spending were huge during the Hoover years.
President Obama clearly believes Big Government is the antidote to this and perhaps all recessions. At his first news conference in February, the president said, "The federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life." Yet that raises a key question: If the U.S. economy could not recover without a big "jolt" of deficit spending, then how did the economy recover from recessions in the distant past, when the federal government was very small?
A 1999 study in The Journal of Economic Perspectives by Christina Romer (now head of the Council of Economic Advisers) found that "real macroeconomic indicators have not become dramatically more stable between the pre-World War I and post-World War II eras, and recessions have become only slightly less severe." Ms. Romer also noted that "recessions have not become noticeably shorter" in the era of Big Government. In fact, she found the average length of recessions from 1887 to 1929 was 10.3 months. If the current recession ended in August, then the average postwar recession lasted one month longer—11.3 months. The longest recession from 1887 to 1929 lasted 16 months. But there have been three recessions since 1973 that lasted at least that long.
The relative brevity of recessions before the New Deal is particularly surprising since the U.S. economy was then dominated by farming and manufacturing—industries far more prone to nasty cyclical surprises than today's service-based economy.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, nobody thought the government could or should do anything except stand aside and let the mistakes of business and banking be fixed by those who made them. There were no Keynesian plans to borrow and spend our way out of recessions. And bankers had no Federal Reserve to bail them out until 1913. Yet recessions after the Fed was created soon turned out to be much deeper than before (1920-21, 1929-33, 1937-38) and often more persistent.
It's clear that U.S. history does not support the theory that Big Government means shorter and milder recessions. In reality, recessions always ended without government prodding, long before anyone heard of Keynes and long before the Fed existed. What's more, recessions ended more quickly before the New Deal's push for Big Government than they have in the past three decades. The economy's natural recuperative powers before the 1930s proved superior to recent tinkering by Big Government economists, politicians and central bankers.
The recent experience of other countries provides another way to test the Big Government theory of economic recovery. If it is true that Big Government prevents or cures recessions, then countries where government accounts for the largest share of GDP should have suffered much smaller losses of GDP over the past year than countries where the private sector is dominant.
The chart nearby lists 13 major economies by the size of government spending relative to GDP using OECD figures for 2007 (the U.S. is well above 40% by 2009). Europe's big spenders are at the top, the U.S. and Japan are in the middle, and fiscally frugal countries like China and India are at the bottom.
The last column shows the change in real GDP over the most recent four quarters—ending in the second quarter for the U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Sweden and China, but the first for the rest. Four of the five deepest contractions happened in countries with the biggest governments—Sweden, Italy, Germany and the U.K. Japan's government spending in 2007 was about like ours, but Japan's tax rates are far more punitive and the economy has suffered endless "fiscal stimulus" packages. China's central government spent 22% of GDP, but 30%-plus with local government included.
To believe Big Government explains why this extremely long recession was not even longer, we need to find some connection between the size of government and the depth and duration of recessions. There is no such connection in U.S. history, or in recent cyclical experience of other countries.
On the contrary, recessions have become longer as the U.S. government (and the Fed) became larger, more expensive, and more involved in the economy. Foreign countries in which government spending accounts for about half of the economy have also suffered the deepest recessions lately, while economic recovery is well established in countries where government spending is a smaller share of GDP than in the U.S.
In short, bigger government appears to produce only bigger and longer recessions.
Mr. Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and the author of "Income and Wealth" (Greenwood Press, 2006).
I wonder if it will it be 'cars for clunkers' that ultimately brings down Obamacare and the version of selective socialism so many people were sold by the leftist political machine currently in power in this country.
Yes people responded to the 'free' offer of 4500 bucks of transfer money, pretend money that everyone knows we don't have, to stimulate the economy through a selected consumer to a selected business for a limited time.
Just like the efficiency of Amtrack, DMV and the Post Office and the public-private partnership that brought us the bridge collapse, a couple of things went wrong with cars for clunkers: They underestimated the demand for free money, so they tripled the budget and put up a new deadline. Not so different than the budget errors in the trillions we saw for all of our current entitlement programs, all in projected bankruptcy.
Then the government computers went down so the select few didn't see the money anyway, just sitting on a government promise. If they have to upgrade the computers, then they really underestimated the cost. What about adding permanent staff for a 2 week program? Who knows when they might want to do it again.
My biggest beef seriously is the mockery it makes of the concept of equal protection under the law. What about a consumer of a different product? What about a dealer of a different product? What about a citizen-environmentalist who did something else for the earth not covered in the bill? And what about the person who complies completely but doesn't get his application in until late Aug. or Sept. or Oct. as originally covered, passed and signed into U.S. Law?! Sorry, nothing for you.
If you believe in cash for clunkers as a worthwhile endeavor, in spite of destroying the charities that relied that business - also based on the tax code, then our omniscient bureaucrats priced it wrong. If we wanted to spend one billion until the end of October, the correct amount of the 'incentive' wasn't $4500. Maybe it was $1000 or $2167 or some other number that only a market could figure out, not congressional aide in a cubicle or a lobbyist who is paid to get it done, not to get it right.
What have we learned? The real clunker was the bureaucracy with their elitist leaders that don't know their own limits, and just like the next heart stint needed to save your life - offer expires Monday.
So often our topics overlap but BBG's post about ACORN felony prosecutions on voter registration demands the question of whether the same folk now posing as paid US Census workers will be committing a felony each time they conspire to report any bit of data that is knowingly inaccurate?
The Kennedy succession story says: "The hypocrisy is astounding". Quite an understatement. Not just double, full-circle hypocrisy, but the arrogance they must have to do it so openly and so repeatedly. Should make the Chicago political mafia blush. They played around the rule to save a seat for Teddy before he turned 30. Then they changed the succession rule for John Kerry to ascend to the President. Oops, not needed and they fully exposed themselves for the mockery of principles they possess. Now they fear losing the 60th vote so they don't want to wait for those clumsy voters to name a replacement when it turns out ironically and hypocritically that the D-Governor could do it just as well, and so much faster. Coercive healthcare could be on the line to them so the ends easily justify the means.
BBG, thanks for posting the ACORN case update. They mix their commitment to take down liberty and capitalism with a lot of do-gooding like helpin' folks register to vote and taking over the census. Unfortunately they demand our public money to take down our system, and getting the wrong people to vote can be a felony.
BBG, What a great letter! Crafty wrote earlier that "Simply going NO to BO's liberal fascist agenda will not be enough." This is true of course but the first step is to persuasively and emphatically say NO to Obama' liberal, fascist agenda.
FWIW I believe the cell call was from the talking points people at leftist machine headquarters and they are very well aware of these town hall meetings. If they had something for her to add I assume that they were watching and listening to a live feed or someone texted them for help.
Can you imagine the uproar if the puppet masters were Rove or Cheney intervening with an ongoing constituent meeting in a representative's home district?
The fact that the reporter knew and did not report a key fact and the paper sneakily removes a known falsehood without issuing a correction, explanation or especially without blowing it open themselves into a big new story themselves, casting doubt on the staged, propaganda event ... it reflects on why organizations like the Houston Chronicle are bankrupting themselves. These events are part of the electoral process and a fraud was certainly perpetrated on anyone caring enough to watch. Frankly I resent having to always go beyond mainstream publications to get the rest of the story.
CCP, I don't believe him but I agree with the premise that we could have a scary strong and effective military for a little less money if the process did not involve lobbyists and bureaucrats ranking ahead of clear thinking, modern military strategists.
B.O: "If Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with a bunch of pork, I will veto it."
Yeah, sure he will, just like he did with the 'defense of banking' bills and shovel ready stimulus bullsh*t.
He sounds like he is campaigning for the office instead of leading and he sounds like he competing not against Pelosi-Barney Frank-Durban-Schumer but against a Republican congress, which maybe he already sees coming...
As more and more people choose to live further and further from fresh water, a few trivia facts about a largely unnoticed American-Canadian water asset the size of New England and up to 1300 feet deep.
http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/superior/superiorfacts.html Lake Superior is, by surface area, the world's largest freshwater lake. The surface area of Lake Superior (31,700 square miles) is greater than the combined areas of Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Lake Superior contains as much water as all the other Great Lakes combined, even throwing in two extra Lake Eries. Lake Superior contains 10% of all the earth's fresh surface water. There is enough water in Lake Superior (3,000,000,000,000,000--or 3 quadrillion-- gallons) to flood all of North and South America to a depth of one foot. The deepest point in Lake Superior (about 40 miles north of Munising, Michigan) is 1,300 feet (400 meters) below the surface.
The average underwater visibility of Lake Superior is 27 feet, making it easily the cleanest and clearest of the Great Lakes. Underwater visibility in places reaches 100 feet.
Migrating birds of prey funnel down Lake Superior's north shore in great numbers each fall. On a single day at Duluth's Hawk Ridge as many as 100,000 birds of prey might pass by.
(Meanwhile, human population in the port city of Duluth MN peaked with the mining, shipping and industrial boom about 50 years ago and is still slightly declining.)
Marc, I don't understand the remaining question on "2) What happens now when an insurance company discontinues insurance when someone develops a problem?"
I carry a catastrophic policy. I bought it and have been paying for it since I was young and healthy. If I am tomorrow discovered to have a hugely expensive disease, I assume that I have coverage for as long as I keep the policy up to the limits of my coverage. If not, there is certainly a role for government regulation because anything short of paying according to the agreed terms is IMO theft by swindle. Why would anyone buy health insurance while healthy if coverage is canceled when diagnosed?
On point 1), very few people and no serious, electable politicians oppose some sort of a safety net. We already have that. The point would be that if you decline insurance while healthy you may have to exhaust your own resources before submitting your bill to the other taxpayers. I know there are those who think ordinary people shouldn't be troubled to pay their own living expenses like college or health care. Margaret Thatcher put it best: "Margaret Thatcher quote: "The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."
3) Health care exchanges could be a way to energize a free market that is sorely lacking in health care or could be just another way to bring the heavy hand of government down on health care, dependinig on how they are set up. From a jurisdictional point of view, I would like to see a federal plan written to help consumers-patients-providers that allow states to OPT-IN rather create more coercion from Washington. This recent discussion sheds only a little light on the subject:
Transcripts: "Reviving the Economy"-Health Insurance Exchange Friday, June 05, 2009 (PBS Nightly Business Report)
PAUL KANGAS: Next week, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are expected to roll out proposals to overhaul the country's health care system. President Obama wants to hold down costs and provide health coverage for 50 million uninsured Americans. To help make that happen, one idea in the works is what's called a health insurance exchange. In tonight's installment of "Reviving the Economy," Dana Bate explains what that exchange might look like and how it would work.
DANA BATE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Whether it's shopping on eBay or searching for a phone plan, Americans love a good deal. But if you decided to shop around for a health care plan today, chances are it wouldn't be easy. Health economist Linda Blumberg says that's because the health insurance market is broken.
LINDA BLUMBERG, HEALTH ECONOMIST, URBAN INSTITUTE: It's kind of the wild, wild west out there, particularly in the non-group insurance market, but also in the small group market and people who are making purchasing decisions don't have the information they need to make good choices.
BATE: That's why she and many others in the health care community want to bring a sheriff to town in the form of a health insurance exchange. The idea is to create one-stop shopping for health insurance. Consumers could go to this insurance marketplace, compare local plans, find out what government aid is available and figure out which plans are best. Former Medicare director Mark McClellan says an exchange would spread risk across plans so that it's easier and cheaper to insure more people.
MARK MCCLELLAN, DIR., HEALTH CARE REFORM, BROOKINGS: So the idea is to try to set up a system in which people could have guaranteed access to coverage that they can afford, that doesn't necessarily charge them more just because they have existing health problems.
BATE: So who would be eligible to use this exchange? That's for Congress to decide. But to start, the exchange would probably focus on small businesses and individuals who can't get insurance through their employer. How much the government will regulate the exchange is also a question.
MCCLELLAN: On the one hand, you want to try to give people clear, comparable choices, so anything that you can do to simplify the range of choices and the number of choices can potentially help with that. On the other hand, the point of competition is to encourage people to be able to sign up for plans that do health care better.
BATE: Blumberg worries too little regulation could lump high risk people together, defeating the system's purpose.
BLUMBERG: The way that insurers behave is in their interest to have the lowest cost, lowest risk enrollees in their plans. The more that they can differentiate the plans that they're offering, the more they can attempt to attract individuals of different risk.
BATE: Lawmakers also need to decide who would run a health care exchange, whether there would be a single national marketplace or whether states would create their own. And, of course, there's the question of whether the government will offer its own health plan to compete with private insurers. Dana Bate, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Washington.
Rachel to GM: "Why are you asking why I dislike Sarah Palin? You already know the answer."
A little cryptic for any newcomer. Unless it was the wardrobe issue I think it means Sarah Palin (outrageously) believes human life begins at conception. That supercedes Palin's support for Israel, disregards a fact Rachel posted that Jewish Law forbids the 98% of American abortions that are done for reasons of convenience, and brushes off Crafty's point that the issue constitutionally belongs with the states.
This could fall under 2nd amendment or religion but to me the issue is the reporter. Like the obnoxious Lawrence O'Donnell interview with Peter Schiff this poor lady just couldn't grasp what she was being told while the midwest businessman was calm and explanatory with her.
I recall after some past GOP victory a famous radio host said the NY Times would need to send foreign correspondents to the heartland in search of understanding of what had happened. This CNN morning host didn't leave her studio to gain these insights:
Thank you Crafty and thank you Charles Murray for important points very clearly and constructively: "Our democracy is corrupted when some voters think that they won't have to pay for the benefits their representatives offer them."
Pres. Reagan unfortunately needed to make the following point to help fend off the charge that across-the-board rate cuts were really just tax cuts for the rich: he showed how 6 million or so of lower income working people would become free of the federal income tax altogether. This was a winning point politically and worth it at the time to rescue our collapsing economy and win the cold war, but also a critical mistake for the future.
Flat tax and the Fair tax proposals make the same mistake. To compare favorably with the current tax system, these proposals typically exclude the first 50k or so of income.
The current spending 'discussion' is a farce. Start all kinds of new entitlements with no mechanisms to ever control costs and then demagogue about someone else needing to pay for it.
If we had a rational tax code and at least a goal of a balanced budget then we could begin a national dialog about spending.
Getting everyone to pay their share of the tax on EVERY dollar earned is an illustration of what they mean by the expression of putting the toothpaste back in the tube. Once these people become total non-contributors, any change is a tax increase on the poor.
On the expense side, remember the story about 10 people going into a restaurant. 1 is going to pay 40% of the bill and maybe 4, 5 or 6 of them will pay nothing at all no matter what is ordered and consumed. Now have a rational discussion about costs and take a majority-rules vote... As Murray points out so well, our system is corrupted.
If we had a true flat-rate tax on all income, no matter who earned it or how, then the proverbial restaurant table could have a rational discussion about ordering hors d'oeuvres and desserts. The rich would still pay far more than their share but everyone would have a stake in the outcome.
Murray's solution is more politically palatable, which I will re-quote. I was going to add to his that we should end withholding too so people see what they pay but as I read deeper into his proposal, but it is already in there! Some politician should take his idea verbatim and run with it.
"Fold payroll taxes into the personal tax code, adjusting the rules so that everyone still pays the same total, but the tax bill shows up on the 1040... End withholding, and require everybody to do what millions of Americans already do: write checks for estimated taxes four times a year."
With due respect for the lack of liberal viewpoint represented on this board, I post the following drivel about right wingers unconcerned about income inequality. If anyone can find a valid point in this piece, please point it out; I will to try to refute it.
Opposing income "inequality" (is income supposed to be equal regardless of training, effort and ability) is the centerpiece of liberal economic thought, as pointed out by this author. In that case, liberals should be THRILLED with the recent collapse of investment values and asset prices as that serves to 'mind the gap' better than any economic expansion in history.
Meanwhile I am headed over to the PGA where income inequality is truly celebrated. A few golfers will split up about $9 million for 4 days work not counting the real money in sponsorships. The worst of the best will make zero, half will get sent home early and all other golfers in the world will be restricted to the gallery or the television audience. Should Tiger Woods and Gerald Ford make the same for playing golf?
Seriously, the idea of equal outcomes should scare you: "So why not take some of that income away", he writes. I say, what incentive would there ever be to do well or do better if there is only one number available on your career pay scale? Should the high school drop out hanging out on the street and the medical resident working 80 hours a week to enter his/her profession make EXACTLY the same, now or later?? Only in a non-existent, Soviet Socialist Utopia. Not in a real world, efficient economy! - Doug
The New Republic Mind the Gap by Jonathan Chait What the right wing really thinks about inequality. Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Should we care about economic inequality? That question is the subtext for most debates in American politics. It just remains below the surface because the party that thinks we shouldn't care about inequality--I'll give you one guess--has an endless string of obfuscations ("death tax," "small business," "tollgate to the middle class") to avoid admitting that it doesn't care about inequality.
There are, however, some real reasons not to care about income inequality, and right-wingers who don't have to run for public office are happy to admit it. A new paper by the Cato Institute's Will Wilkinson, which compiles all the reasons why we shouldn't worry our pretty little heads about inequality, has drawn a lot of attention. It's a usefully honest and relatively persuasive iteration of the belief system that undergirds right-wing thought.
Alas, it still isn't very persuasive. Wilkinson begins by pointing out that, while the gap between how much the rich and the non-rich earn has exploded, the gap between how much the rich and the non-rich consume has remained fairly stable. And that's true. But Wilkinson misunderstands the implications of this fact. "Suppose you made a million dollars last year and put all but $50,000 of it in a shoebox," he writes. (He must have enormous feet.) "Now imagine you lose the box. What good did the $950,000 do you?"
Wilkinson's point--money only has value if you eventually spend it--may be true. Yet most rich people don't put their money in shoeboxes. They invest it so they, their children, or young trophy wives can one day spend even more of it. And, indeed, the gap in wealth (how much money you have) has grown even faster than the gap in income. Meanwhile, the middle class has tried to keep pace with the rich by spending beyond its means, sending average household debt skyrocketing. Tell me why this should make us feel better about inequality?
Wilkinson's most interesting argument holds that material inequality between the rich and the non-rich lags behind the wealth and income gaps. For one thing, he argues that the luxury goods rich people own offer only marginal improvement over the cheap stuff that poor people own. For instance, he compares the luxurious Sub-Zero PRO 48 refrigerator to a standard IKEA fridge. Despite the vast difference in cost ($11,000 vs. $350), he writes, "The lived difference ... is rather smaller than that between having fresh meat and milk and having none." He also notes that rich people have used some of their increased income merely bidding up the price of positional goods, like fancy real estate or elite college tuition, forcing them to buy the same stuff at higher prices. Wilkinson thinks this goes to show that there's "an often narrowing range of experience" between being rich and being poor, so inequality isn't that big a deal.
In fact, Wilkinson is inadvertently bolstering the strongest liberal argument against inequality: it's inefficient. In case you're unfamiliar with this argument--as Wilkinson seems to be; he doesn't rebut or even mention it anywhere in his paper--it runs like this: Taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor helps the latter more than it hurts the former (at least until you create serious work-incentive effects, a point which most liberals think we're not close to). Wilkinson is saying the rich are getting little (in the case of luxury goods like refrigerators) or zero (in the case of real estate and higher tuition) actual benefit from their rising incomes. So why not take some of that income away and use it to buy extremely useful but currently unaffordable things for the non-rich, like, oh, basic medical care?
Watch Chait and Wilkinson face off over the inefficiency of inequality (and check out the rest of the debate here)
One liberal complaint about inequality holds that it increases the political influence of the rich, thereby locking in even more inequality. Wilkinson scoffs at this prospect, pointing to rich voters' support for Barack Obama over John McCain. Oddly, Wilkinson confines his analysis to campaigning and pays no attention to governing. While it's true that many rich people used their money to help bring about Democratic control of Washington, every day brings a new example of the rich using their money to ensure that Democrats pose the least possible harm to their interests. Democrats in Congress have abandoned Obama's sensible call to limit deductions for the top bracket, backed away from an upper-income surtax to pay for health care despite favorable polls, shot down bank nationalization, and on and on.
The deeper problem with Wilkinson's argument is that it assumes the natural correctness of all market-based outcomes. This is a premise you either take on faith or don't, and which undergirds most of his argument. Wilkinson assumes that inequalities arising from the market are inherently fair. Therefore, he asserts that just about the only unjust forms of economic inequality are those that spring from non-market circumstances: "t's not enough to identify a mechanism of rising inequality. An additional argument is required to show that there is some kind of injustice involved."
If such injustices persist, he further argues, it's usually because the American people like it that way. Wilkinson recognizes that some liberals blame "wealthy elites," not public opinion, for the persistence of injustice. But he dismisses this complaint as a "'false consciousness'" argument by liberals "frustrated to find that [their] convictions are in the minority." So we should stop whining. Yet, later on in the same paper, Wilkinson blames the state of education on teachers' unions, and hawkish foreign policy on "special interests that stand to benefit from war." Wait, what about that false-consciousness business? Apparently, it's fair to complain about special interests when they subvert the libertarian agenda but not otherwise.
Wilkinson concludes by asserting that people should only care about their absolute well-being, not their relative well-being. But comparisons are among the best measures we have to gauge our material well-being. Ten years ago, I felt perfectly happy with my low-definition television, because high-definition hadn't come out. Today, that same television gives me slightly less enjoyment because I realize that I'm missing out on a better picture.
"How are a poor, inner-city kid's life chances affected," asks Wilkinson, "by the fact that some Web entrepreneur makes billions of dollars as opposed to just millions?" They're not. But if the Web entrepreneur has to pay a slightly higher tax rate so the inner-city kid can afford to attend a decent college, or so the kid's parents can see a dentist, how are the entrepreneur's life chances affected?
Jonathan Chait is a senior editor of The New Republic.
Thank you Guinness for excellent info source on nuclear. It is basically carbon free and totally free of pollution emissions, the 'waste' product is a still usable energy source and the safety record has fewer deaths in this country than Ted Kennedy's car.
The experience at Soviet Chernobyl tells us more about why to avoid Soviet communism than it does about safe nuclear plants. That disaster could not have happened in a US plant built and operated under our standards.
Whether you believe higher CO2 levels have a 1% or a 51% link to climate phenomena, we emit far more CO2 than we would if you used these newer technologies to power our grid. The world's largest industrialized country should not be generating 71% of its electricity by burning fossil fuels in 2009.
When we load part of transportation sector onto the grid with plug-in hybrids and plug-in electrics, the situation would only get worse since it takes most of a decade to get a new nuclear plant online and wind is 5 times and solar is 15 times overpriced and we are not adding any new rivers for hydroelectric.
It is obscene (IMO) that we waste precious domestic natural gas sources on a grid that could be powered far better with nuclear. This waste of natural gas was/is a major reason gas prices have quintupled the cost of heating homes, which is a BIG deal to much of the country. Natural gas (American produced) is also a perfect transportation sector solution if we weren't burning it in bulk needlessly to power the grid, please see http://www.cngnow.com.
If we substitute nuclear for natural gas in electricity and American natural gas in place of foreign oil in transportation, besides solving the CO2 spiral we would also be sending fewer dollars sent to Chavez and the Mullahs. It would be good for the currency, simplify foreign policy and ease the cost of national defense. True?
CCP: "...I am just not sure how many people read Sowell who are not already inclined to agree." - True. Like continuing ed for professional licenses, registered voters should be required to read Thomas Sowell and Victor Hanson... ----
Also going beyond cost is the forgotten privacy issue. Do we want all personal info going to the government and another enforcement mechanism going to the IRS?? I have yet to see a liberal vehicle with a bumper sticker saying 'US Government out of my Bedroom' as it relates to health plan coercion and privacy loss.
Nearly all states require car insurance. I went recently to change just the bank account tied to my insurance and was amazed, offended, and outraged at the voluminous private information I was required to give up just to make a minor change. Is it my choice to business with these people? No, state law requires that I do business with one of these companies.
When the state first passed mandatory insurance, there was an option to post bond or assets up to the minimum financial responsibility instead of insurance, now that provision is gone. Two states still have that and 48 do not. In 48 states you HAVE do do business with and give up privacy to a state licensed insurance company (or not own or drive a vehicle) no matter what means you have available to cover your potential losses.
Back to health insurance, I am currently satisfied carrying a major medical policy with very high deductible instead having the much higher monthly cost of a more inclusive policy. Mine is one of the choices likely to go away as the authors of the new bill such as Waxman, Dodd or Kennedy will not deem my plan to be adequate coverage. They would add a 2300 fine, people won't accept that, so my plan would disappear altogether.
So much for the promise (lie) that we can keep our current plan.
As someone who was once rushed to a hospital in the middle of the night, because of taking a medication that millions of people take every day without the slightest problem, I have a special horror of life and death medical decisions being made by bureaucrats in Washington, about patients they have never laid eyes on.
On another occasion, I was told by a doctor that I would have died if I had not gotten to him in time, after an allergic reaction to eating one of the most healthful foods around. On still another occasion, I was treated with a medication that causes many people big problems and was urged to come back to the hospital immediately if I had a really bad reaction. But I had no reaction at all, went home, felt fine and slept soundly through the night.
My point is that everybody is different. Millions of children eat peanut butter sandwiches every day but some children can die from eating peanut butter. Some vaccines and medications that save many lives can also kill some people.
Are decisions made by doctors who have treated the same patient for years to be over-ruled by bureaucrats sitting in front of computer screens in Washington, following guidelines drawn up with the idea of "bringing down the cost of medical care"?
The idea is even more absurd than the idea that you can add millions of people to a government medical care plan without increasing the costs. It is also more dangerous.
What is both dangerous and mindless is rushing a massive new medical care scheme through Congress so fast that members of Congress do not even have time to read it before voting on it. Legislation that is far less sweeping in its effects can get months of hearings before Congressional committees, followed by debates in the Senate and the House of Representatives, with all sorts of people voicing their views in the media and in letters to Congress, while ads from people on both sides of the issue appear in newspapers and on television.
If this new medical scheme is so wonderful, why can't it stand the light of day or a little time to think about it?
The obvious answer is that the administration doesn't want us to know what it is all about or else we would not go along with it. Far better to say that we can't wait, that things are just too urgent. This tactic worked with whizzing the "stimulus" package through Congress, even though the stimulus package itself has not worked.
Any serious discussion of government-run medical care would have to look at other countries where there is government-run medical care. As someone who has done some research on this for my book "Applied Economics," I can tell you that the actual consequences of government-controlled medical care is not a pretty picture, however inspiring the rhetoric that accompanies it.
Thirty thousand Canadians are passing up free medical care at home to go to some other country where they have to pay for it. People don't do that without a reason.
But Canadians are better off than people in some other countries with government-controlled medical care, because they have the United States right next door, in case their medical problems get too serious to rely on their own system.
But where are Americans to turn if we become like Canada? Where are we to go when we need better medical treatment than Washington bureaucrats will let us have? Mexico? The Caribbean?
Many people do not understand that it is not just a question of whether government bureaucrats will agree to pay for particular medical treatments. The same government-control mindset that decides what should and should not be paid for can also decide that the medical technology or pharmaceutical drugs that they control should not be for sale to those who are willing to pay their own money.
Right now, medications or treatments that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration are medications or treatments that you are not allowed to buy with your own money, no matter how desperate your medical condition, and no matter how many years these medications or treatments may have been used without dire effects in other countries.
Mr. Ghani (previous post) sounds like a great candidate. Some polls have him running 3rd and potential spoiler rather than winner.
A UK General (below) says look for a 30-40 year involvement.
Mindful of Crafty's difficult questions about strategy and mission it occurs to me that maybe this conflict, best case, could be used to give a better name to the phenomema of 'mission creep' and 'nation building'. Bin Laden is supposedly gone and the Taliban hosted camps but didn't attack us.
This is a very poor place. Maybe our job if we have one is to lurk in the background, take out just the largest dangers and allow a better society to form over a couple of generations.
I like that Ghani is more interested in foreign investment than foreign aid. ------------------------
Instead of allowing failures to fail and distortions to correct, we insist on artificially building more on a house of cards. TARP was all about injecting money to override market forces and stop natural corrections. The 'stimulus' money is all about everything other than encouraging private investment decisions. This gang actually put a freeze on foreclosures at the start of this administration. It's very reminiscent of President Nixon's Price Wage Freeze to stop inflation. (Inflation doubled after Nixon's freeze was lifted.)
There is an amazing lack of analysis about what happens next after we inject all that is available plus some trillions and pile on additional burdens and attacks against enterprise and private sector investment. I think the author is hinting that it won't just be inflation we see after we undermine our currency, our balance sheet and abandon our economic foundations.
Ironically, George Bush actually grew government revenues and sustainable government expenditures far faster than these government-loving statists.
"The above is bad advice, unless you have committed a crime. If you lawfully used force to defend yourself/another, a brief statement needs to be given."
Fair enough. I back off my over-generalized, amateur advice. In my example the fellow was guilty (of shooting the intruder without all the elements of self defense) and his statement made the case against him.
Thinking of a different legal situation, some years ago I owned an apartment building that was firebombed by teenage gangmembers. The Mpls arson chief investigator asked me to meet him at the bldg and we set up an appointment. As I was leaving my office someone else told me to keep in mind that I am a suspect. I laughed thinking that was ridiculous. I was in Montana skiing and not even reachable when it happened. I have receipts to prove it. Then I freaked, realizing that was exactly what a guilty party would arrange. On the way over, my mind raced to recall everything I knew about everyone in the building. Instead of my usual smug and flippant self, I was extremely helpful and forthcoming on everything he asked. He told me he wasn't able to get into the burned unit and I told him I would get him in. I used landlord persuasion to get them to the door and introduced him to the tenants after we were in. When I saw the smoke detector disabled I laid into them about how that could have killed people in the other units and besides I had just warned them about doing that some specific time previous. (Like OJ Simpson, my best bet seemed to be for them to find the real perps and the real motive very quickly.) Everything worked out fine for me but I no longer carry insurance on any of my properties. I would rather fix the property out of pocket than fight insurance companies and carry a motive.
What I take from the defense video is that their advice (don't talk to police) applies best in the situation where they are about to arrest you anyway. You will have opportunity to respond to the charges.
Back to Crafty's piece, the people here seem acutely aware of the requirements of self defense. I think that is far less true for the general public.
Hard to say without loading in my own bias but it always seems that liberalism can't be sold straight up. Look at the Sotomayor hearings for example. What everyone says is adherence to founding principles etc. when everyone knows that there are two competing philosophies with the liberal one perfectly described by everything this Judge said and did BEFORE the confirmation process. Watch and listen to the liberals laugh at themselves about lying to themselves. Amazing video, very telling:
"Don't people want someone they can trust leading them?" - In the case of Obama on so many things such as not going for single payer, not raising taxes, not spending out of control and in the case of Sotomayor claiming to not favor liberal, judicial activism, their supporters actually trust them to NOT do what they say!
Good points CCP. By ransom I was only referring to the part we know about - giving him high level attention and positive publicity while the rest of the prisoners continue to slave for him. Who knows about the bag of cash. By making it a private mission there could have been real payoffs and still have Obama insulated with plausible deniability.
Instead of angering me, the dishonest people in my world bore me. They tell me what happened and I still don't know what happened so they waste my time by speaking. I don't know when, if not already, the overexposed Obama will start to have that affect. I suspect that the millions of mostly non-political, fair-weather first time one time voters that saw something different tuned out already. They might tell a pollster they approve or choose him over another in reelection but not with the excitement or numbers we saw the first time.
On the other point, that he doesn't mind cleaning up after them but doesn't want to hear criticism? Cleaning up after whom?? Barney Frank and the Democrats who pushed for lending based on needy neighborhoods instead of based on solid credit and substantial down payments like it used to be to buy a house. He always implies it was conservative policies and free markets running wild that made the mess when it was the opposite even if it was R's partially that supported the wrong headedness.
What part of this means people should lose the right to speak and oppose new, wrongheaded initiatives that will worsen our problems? Opponents shouldn't attend Democrat townhall meetings and if they do they should sit quietly?? The gameplan of going to all the meetings and filibustering with dissent was written at ACORN! Obama is notoriously thin-skinned for a person in his position. I don't know how that will pay off as things turn worse politically for him.
I still think the main things we will remember the Obama administration for haven't even been contemplated yet, like 911 for Bush and Clinton adopting the Gingrich agenda and sparking the economy. Maybe we'll see what this chameleon is capable of if he loses the house next year.
Excellent article! I remember my uncle as District Attorney had to prosecute a homeowner who shot and killed an intruder in his home in a heavily publicized local case. The facts just did not match the requirements of self defense. The homeowner had previously flaunted the fact that he would shoot any intruder, he made no claim of thinking he saw a weapon much less aimed at him or other life threatening danger, so the result was that the otherwise law abiding citizen defending his home was convicted of murder.
Advice to anyone ever found in that situation: call 911, hand the police your weapon and surrender yourself in silence. Say absolutely nothing to anyone for a very, very long time until you have the very best legal defense fully set on a very comprehensive legal strategy. As the article says, self defense is an all or none defense that involves admitting an intentional act and eliminates all other excuses and defenses.
The money requirement is unfortunate but I didn't hear the door slam shut very hard . In some ways it seems that it could be done today without all the outlays but congressional districts are in particularly hard to reach because they don't line up nicely with media markets. Besides campaign cash, supporting your family during the run is of course the issue that doesn't go away.
OTOH: a) When if not now? Obama-Pelosi overstepped so badly that some new voices will be heard and noticed. b) There are ways to get some free traditional media coverage not to mention web-ads and youtube videos clever enough to draw attention. Draw enough attention nationally to get noticed locally. c) You are obviously able to put out amazing effort just observing the breadth of your readings and the times of posts. d) People yearn for non-traditional candidate and may be open to a back-to-the-founding-fathers, limited government / libertarian message - even in sunny southern Cal. d) The more that people or media or opponents question your credentials, the more publicity and interest you generate for your business. e) You can advance your political philosophy by reaching more people even without winning. f) Experience with previous runs, knowledge of the issues and the founding principles, studying law under Ruth Ginsburg and leaving the profession of law all make a compelling story. g) The image of a fighter has proven political appeal. h) You were more available to run or serve when you were single, but will look more mature and responsible when photographed with the beautiful bride and smiling children... i) The job pays $174k per year plus a pretty good health plan!
While knowing it would be nearly impossible financially, maybe still set out at least part way with some exploratory work. Just like with the pilot television programs, publish a few trial runs both video and written and approach a few people. My guess is that that are some people and groups out there with means might get behind the right messenger with the right message. Who knows?
(No reply required - I'll drop the subject until I hear the announcement)
Crafty: :To quote my mocking description of the demagogues philosophy during my most recent run for Congress (in 1992) "We had a vote. You're paying."
Marc, maybe 2010 is your time. There is a political pendulum that swung far too far in the wrong direction for all the wrong reasons and it seems to be swinging back - ready to knock down incumbents in its path. Run as a Republican, not for what they used to be but for what they ought to be. I will give my last dollar to the campaign. (Announce soon because that's about all I have.) Let's take back our country the old fashioned way.
Yes it helped one failed industry hit better numbers at the end of one quarter but it violates all principles I thought we stood for. As a manufacturer, if you are not on their preferred list, you miss out - AND you get to pay for the others' people's subsidy! As a consumer maybe you get lucky (odds are that you don't!), but somebody else equally deserving comes in one day earlier, one day later, buys a slightly different vehicle, trades in a slightly different vehicle or does something else equally large and heroic to stimulate the economy and save the planet and THEY GET NOTHING... AND THEY PAY FOR YOUR SUBSIDY!!
Regarding the author, how do I say nicely... what kind of MORON thinks these are conservative OR AMERICAN principles???
In terms of common sense, it isn't drivers of clunkers who buy new cars. There is a food chain. More typically it is owners of 3-5 year old cars that buy new cars and it is the driver of the clunker who delays the need to expend the energy - roughly 65000 mega-joules or about 1.5 tons of crude oil - to manufacture a typical new vehicle.
The people who were ready to trade in the exact vehicle required in the bill and buy the exact new vehicle specified on the exact day that the taxpayer-taken, borrowed or printed money hit the street were most likely the cronies of the staffers and lobbyists who wrote the bill, it would seem to me.
Also I think the numbers will show that Honda and Toyota were the 'American' companies who benefited most...
A couple of comments on recent posts: I posted Mitt Romney's view on 7/30 with my caveats, but without noticing or mentioning BBG posted 'Romney's Folly' the day before. FWIW both are worthwhile reads. I oppose all extra government involvement in healthcare but free markets have been lost from health care since 1945 and the politics today is very, very complicated. ---------------- Freki posted a great question: "Why cant' a company or a group of people (like a co-op) hire their own doctor? Pay the doc a salary and that would take care of general healthcare. Then as a group negotiate with some other entity, insurance co. or hospital,l for catastrophic care? Why not pay for the education of med students for their agreement to work for the group for a fixed time? This might lower cost. Maybe the group could self insure for procedures the on staff medial personnel could not perform. It seems to me there are ways to get what you want from the free market without the government getting involved."
You are correct. A friend of mine, he might rather call it a multi-decade acquaintance, is a left wing union organizer / official who now manages their health group. They have about 100,000 in the group and they self-insure. Instead of paying an insurance company they contract they products services and rates that they need and use. They make tough decisions like the insurance companies do or like the government will have to. I don't know a lot of details but know he is opinionated about things like most MRI's being wasteful. For example, he says we have more MRI scanners along one corner of the Twin Cities freeway loop than in all of Canada. Because these providers have the expensive equipment they order the unnecessary and expensive images. I imagine there is a smidgen of truth in that, but still you have a form of bureaucrat limiting your choice of diagnosis and treatment. In the case of these workers and their families, at least the decisions are a little closer to home and open to petition or change than if they were entrusted the federal government.
Denny, I think there is good humor in the protest photos with the national guard and I don't want it lost in translation. Do I understand that the troops or pretend trooops are being handed eggs for the balls they lack for closing stations to hide from criticism? Also clever is to peacefully hand over the eggs. If thrown they would invite a reaction or just reflect badly on the themselves.
Thanks for the updates and keep up the good fight.
Thanks for previous post BBG. These Americans advantages disappear when we emulate worse systems.
Tim Penny, was Democratic Congressman for Rochester MN, home of the Mayo clinic, and Rudy Boschwitz became a two term Republican senator of the 'blueist' state when Democrats overreached here: ------
Gov't-Run Care Is A Study In Soaring Costs
By RUDY BOSCHWITZ AND TIM PENNY | Posted Friday, July 31, 2009 4:20 PM PT
This article appeared in Thursday's issue. We repeat it here because of the importance of the information provided and also so it will be seen by our weekend-only readers.
In considering whether to expand the government's role in the delivery of health care or in health care insurance, it is worth looking at Medicare and Medicaid.
These two huge programs already make the government the largest player in the health care industry. The profligate nature of these two programs should raise lots of doubt about the Obama program doing anything but "busting" the budget.
In 1968 total spending by the federal government was $178.1 billion dollars. Forty years later in 2007, total spending had risen to $2,728.9 billion dollars. So the budget of the U.S. increased in dollar terms 15.3 times in that 40-year span.
But all programs did not rise in unison. Some rose more, others less.
Outlays for Social Security rose from $23.3 billion in 1968 to $581.4 billion in 2007, an increase of 25 times. So Social Security drove the budget higher at a substantially faster rate than the budget rose as a whole.
ObamaCare plans to expand the government's role in insuring the American people. The government is already the largest insurer in the health care business through Medicare. We are now told ObamaCare will save money.
What kind of impact did Medicare, the first large government health insurance plan have in budgetary terms? Medicare rose from $5.1 billion in 1968 to $436.0 billion in 2007 an astounding increase of 85.5 times over the 40-year period. Will ObamaCare be better?
Beware of government estimates about the future cost of ObamaCare. When Medicare was being considered in the mid-1960s, the government projected that the outlays for the program 25 years down the road would be $10 billion. Instead, in 1990, 25 years later, the outlays were $107 billion. Government estimates were off by a factor of more than 10!
Medicaid, the other large medical program currently in effect, outdid Medicare. Medicaid outlays in 1968 were $1.8 billion. In 2007 they had risen to $190.6 billion, an increase in dollar terms of 105.9 times.
And that is only the Federal outlay number. There is a roughly equal Medicaid amount spent by the states due to federal mandates.
Without those mandates we would not be reading about the large deficits that most states endure.
The idea of expanding the federal role in the medical arena is truly fiscally irresponsible. The claim that money will be saved through government competition with the private insurance system (with government setting the rules!) is the height of fantasy.
If 45 million Americans are now uninsured, that means 265 million are insured privately, and the government should not disrupt that. If the government becomes the insurer of most Americans, the impact on the budget would be absolutely awesome. Rationing of medical care that is so often mentioned would surely result.
Rich Will Provide
If in the 40-year span from 1968 through 2007 Social Security went up 25 times, Medicare 85.5 and Medicaid 105.9, why did the total federal budget increase overall only 15.3 times? What held the budget back?
It was largely defense. Defense outlays rose from $82.2 billion in 1968 (or 46.1% of the total budget) to $547.9 billion in 2007 (20.1% of the total budget). In dollars, that is an increase of a bit less than 6.7 times.
Yet on a recent talk show Rep. Barney Frank assured us that we can pay for these new medical programs by decreases in defense outlays and additional taxes on the "rich" — those with incomes exceeding $250,000, he explained.
Medicine over our lifetime has made extraordinary progress. New discoveries and advances continue to be announced almost weekly. Most — but not all — have occurred here in the U. S. where medicine has always attracted the best and the brightest.
The government has played a most significant role by funding research through the National Institute of Health to the tune presently of $30 billion annually. It is a proper role for government and among the best and most admired of programs that receives the broadest bipartisan support.
Will the best and brightest young people be attracted to a career run by government rules, regulations and financial dictates that may well frown upon individual initiative? Our fear is that they will not, and the extraordinary progress of medicine will slow.
That alone is reason enough to oppose the government's further immersion into the field of medicine.
Boschwitz, a Republican, served in the Senate from 1978 to 1991 and was a member of the Budget Committee throughout. Penny, a Democrat, served in the House from 1983 to 1995. Both are from Minnesota.
This insight came from Forbes, Biden who doesn't drink beer (really none of them did) was needed by the beer-summit planners for racial balance. This was only a photo opp and it was looking like it would be a white cop surrounded by two black psuedo-intellectuals with a chip on their shoulder about race. With Biden they achieved balance - like a double date. Any other white and it would have just looked like they brought in a token, but Joe Biden is the VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES which was helpful when Obama needed to show he has white 'friends' too. So much for post-racialism. These men with fruit in their near-beers should become the Dukasis in a tank photo moment for future campaigns.
This post is about the healthcare debate but my interest is really about keeping an eye on the players for 'the way forward for conservatives - with a big question mark. The author Mitt Romney is the presumed front runner to challenge Obama and he has a history as governor of perhaps the most liberal state and architect of a government health plan. In his defense, his 'plan' could be argued as within 'state's rights' unlike Hillary, Barack and Pelosi who just make up constitutional federal government powers. His plan offered no 'public option', just compulsion and meddling. To a more moderate voter than me it could be argued that Governor Romney's experience with healthcare policy and politics is a strength and an accomplishment.
Mr. President, what's the rush? Obama could learn a thing or two about health care reform from Massachusetts. One, time is not the enemy. Two, neither are the Republicans.
By Mitt Romney
Because of President Obama's frantic approach, health care has run off the rails. For the sake of 47 million uninsured Americans, we need to get it back on track.
(Now insured: Francisco Diaz of Boston consults with nurse practitioner Anna Hackett Peterson./Josh T. Reynolds for USA TODAY; Mitt Romney./AP)
Health care cannot be handled the same way as the stimulus and cap-and-trade bills. With those, the president stuck to the old style of lawmaking: He threw in every special favor imaginable, ground it up and crammed it through a partisan Democratic Congress. Health care is simply too important to the economy, to employment and to America's families to be larded up and rushed through on an artificial deadline. There's a better way. And the lessons we learned in Massachusetts could help Washington find it.
No other state has made as much progress in covering their uninsured as Massachusetts. The bill that made it happen wasn't a rush job. Shortly after becoming governor, I worked in a bipartisan fashion with Democrats to insure all our citizens. It took almost two years to find a solution. When we did, it passed the 200-member legislature with only two dissenting votes. It had the support of the business community, the hospital sector and insurers. For health care reform to succeed in Washington, the president must finally do what he promised during the campaign: Work with Republicans as well as Democrats.
Massachusetts also proved that you don't need government insurance. Our citizens purchase private, free-market medical insurance. There is no "public option." With more than 1,300 health insurance companies, a federal government insurance company isn't necessary. It would inevitably lead to massive taxpayer subsidies, to lobbyist-inspired coverage mandates and to the liberals' dream: a European-style single-payer system. To find common ground with skeptical Republicans and conservative Democrats, the president will have to jettison left-wing ideology for practicality and dump the public option.
The cost issue
Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn't have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages "free riders" to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn't cost the government a single dollar. Second, we helped pay for our new program by ending an old one — something government should do more often. The federal government sends an estimated $42 billion to hospitals that care for the poor: Use those funds instead to help the poor buy private insurance, as we did.
When our bill passed three years ago, the legislature projected that our program would cost $725 million in 2009. At $723 million, next year's forecast is pretty much on target. When you calculate all the savings, including that from the free hospital care we eliminated, the net cost to the state is approximately $350 million. The watchdog Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation concluded that our program's cost is "relatively modest" and "well within initial projections."
And if subsidies and coverages are reined in, as I've suggested, the Massachusetts program could actually break even. One thing is certain: The president must insist on a program that doesn't add to our spending burden. We simply cannot afford another trillion-dollar mistake.
The Massachusetts reform aimed at getting virtually all our citizens insured. In that, it worked: 98% of our citizens are insured, 440,000 previously uninsured are covered and almost half of those purchased insurance on their own, with no subsidy. But overall, health care inflation has continued its relentless rise. Here is where the federal government can do something we could not: Take steps to stop or slow medical inflation.
At the core of our health cost problem is an incentive problem. Patients don't care what treatments cost once they pass the deductible. And providers are paid more when they do more; they are paid for quantity, not quality. We will tame runaway costs only when we change incentives. We might do what some countries have done: Require patients to pay a portion of their bill, except for certain conditions. And providers could be paid an annual fixed fee for the primary care of an individual and a separate fixed fee for the treatment of a specific condition. These approaches have far more promise than the usual bromides of electronic medical records, transparency and pay-for-performance, helpful though they will be.
Try a business-like analysis
I spent most of my career in the private sector. When well-managed businesses considered a major change of some kind, they engaged in extensive analysis, brought in outside experts, exhaustively evaluated every alternative, built consensus among those who would be affected and then moved ahead. Health care is many times bigger than all the companies in the Dow Jones combined. And the president is rushing changes that dwarf what any business I know has faced.
Republicans are not the party of "no" when it comes to health care reform. This Republican is proud to be the first governor to insure all his state's citizens. Other Republicans such as Rep. Paul Ryan and Sens. Bob Bennett and John McCain, among others, have proposed their own plans. Republicans will join with the Democrats if the president abandons his government insurance plan, if he endeavors to craft a plan that does not burden the nation with greater debt, if he broadens his scope to reduce health costs for all Americans, and if he is willing to devote the rigorous effort, requisite time and bipartisan process that health care reform deserves.
Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. The Massachusetts plan
• Everyone must buy health insurance or face tax penalties.
• Hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on free hospital care were converted into subsidies to help the needy buy insurance.
• A health insurance "exchange" was established to help connect the uninsured with private health plans at more affordable rates.
• Health plans can offer consumers higher deductibles and more restrictive physician and hospital networks in order to lower costs.
• Businesses with 11 or more workers that do not offer insurance must pay a $295 per employee fee.
I must pile on to comments CCP made a couple of days ago in the health care thread: "...Chuck Schumer made a statement that doctors should make no more than 80K a year...If that is his argument lawyers who require far less schooling should make no more than 40K per year..."
Over the years Republicans went along grudgingly in some cases with minimum wage legislation. Then Kieth Ellison's predecessor proposed maximum wage legislation. It was largely ignored but the premise was allowed to fester. Entry level wage legislation is NOT about how much these people should make, it is about WHO should determine it. The maximum wage proposal was that no one at the top should make more than 20-fold what to lowest wage worker gets paid by the same company. Whether that sounds reasonable or should be some other factor is NOT the point. We don't determine private compensation plans at the congressional level. It is NOT part of their defined powers nor is it something they would be good at.
I don't know if Tiger Woods makes too much. Nike and the PGA can figure out their pay and incentive plans and live with the consequences. I'm busy with my own business.
Unfortunately, we keep blurring the lines between public and private. The more that we do that, the more that we have the government to micro-manage everything including the comp plan for Dr. CCP (and all these other workers in all these other industries) instead of leaving that in the hands of the patients he sees and the providers who want to hire him.
Look at the auto makers, banks, insurance companies, airlines, auto companies and on and on and on. I always felt their executive pay is none of my business. If they are inefficient in their business, they will fail. That corrects the problem. Now we have the mindset of don't let them fail. So where is the correcting mechanism, a vote in congress for every paycheck for every profession in every industry? And that is smarter than the market??? They exist only because of our subsidy, so now their intricacies are our responsibility. I can't even think of examples more facetious than reality. Is McDonalds to big to fail? Is a federal french fry commission next??
Only 2 of 10 members of the federal auto task force drive American cars, 2 don't own cars.
I don't know what other people should make or what they should drive nor do they know the value of my labor or vehicle suits me best. Chuck Schumer should re-read Article 1 and the rest of the constitution and focus on his own G*d D*mned business which should include spending the summer with his constituents, not trying to run every business in America.
For the parts of the constitution limiting federal powers that he doesn't like, he should focus in on the amendment process which should come before the enabling legislation.
Getting back to a couple posts on water I offer my observations:
Remember that during the hurricane 'debates' we were told that the destruction level kept increasing over time. In fact, more and more people were locating and building in hurricane zones - which is fine except it comes at a risk and a cost. To some degree the same goes for water.
Where I live (MN) we are up to our neck in water but have other quality of life challenges - this thing called winter. 10,000 lakes is an understatement, more like 12k. There is the 'city of lakes', the headwater for the Mississippi River, aquifirs aplenty and an untapped source of Lake Superior where each inch of surface dept is over a half Trillion gallons. Not to mention consistent rains ans snows throughout all the seasons, no one has hardly even thought of routing their gutter system through their shower or toilet supply. Like everywhere it costs money to treat and purify water, but the resource is available.
Quote from 2 posts back: "Water is going to be very short until you have a new source," said Carlsbad Mayor Claude Lewis. "And the only new source is desalination, I don't care what anybody says."
We have evolved past traditional instincts of locating near basic sustaining resources. The reason I think is that we believe we can solve that need by throwing money at it.
I remember criticizing the late Sen. Paul Wellstone for lobbying the federal government to increase 'cold weather' assistance for the prosperous state of MN. Good grief, who could have seen a cold winter coming??? My point is that my heat and your water are not federal issues. They are just natural consequences and costs associated with the choices we made when we located our families and our communities.
Let's do Question 2 first, much easier: "Is/should an insurance company be allowed to discontinue someone who develops a problem?"
No. That is what I was insuring against when I was healthy and bought the policy.
"Question 1: What is done and what should be done about people with pre-existing conditions looking for health care?"
Very tough question and deeply intertwined with whatever your own view is for a role for government and the role for consequences for personal choices.
I don't think any serious conservatives with political aspirations totally opposes a safety net, so if you exhaust your personal wealth, the state is going to take care of you at about the level of care that all of us would receive under Obamacare. The bigger question then is should someone be able to NOT use their own resources to pay for their own health problem IF they previously chose not to insure against it, then arrange to have someone else pay for it and keep their own wealth or other uses. Sounds troublesome to me.
In the real-politic world of risk pooling, an insurer or group can take in people with known problems as long as they are random proportions with people without known problems.
"Mr Bernanke warned that a continued deterioration in commercial property, where prices have fallen by about 35 per cent since the market’s peak and defaults have been rising sharply, would present a “difficult” challenge for the economy." ----
Make sure I have this right - We announce a new commitment to punish production, employment, investment, commerce and profits and the result is double digit unemployment and collapsed demand for the rental or purchase of business space. That makes sense and I think people here get it, but I wonder if the typical voter/constituent of Barbara Boxer or Amy Klobuchar or Chuck Schumer understands what Bernancke is trying to tell them - You don't have to be an owner of Commercial real estate to be hurt by a collapse in that market. Just like you didn't have to be a buyer of yachts to be hurt by a tax on the purchasing of yachts. You don't have to be an employer to be hurt by another costly and unnecessary mandate on employers. If you are middle or lower class worker, you or your loved ones (not wealthy) will be hurt by another tax on the wealthy. As participants in the economy, we share the economy with the other participants. It is not an us vs. them ("Make the rich pay their fair share") economy. It is all inter-related and intertwined. I didn't see the movie, but when the front end of the Titanic goes under it doesn't mean more desserts will be available for those in the middle and the back. (This should have been a rant.) What we are seeing is an avoidable, man-made disaster of self-inflicted wounds IMHO.
Bloomberg reports that a respected analyst sees oil prices collapsing further with the economy. Just like artificially high prices helped trigger the downturn, collapsing prices will shut down newer and more expensive energy sources, making the next oil spike even worse if/when we ever see economic health return.
July 16 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil will collapse to $20 a barrel this year as the recession takes a deeper toll on fuel demand, according to academic and former U.S. government adviser Philip Verleger.
A crude surplus of 100 million barrels will accumulate by the end of the year, straining global storage capacity and sending prices to a seven-year low, said Verleger, who correctly predicted in 2007 that prices were set to exceed $100. Supply is outpacing demand by about 1 million barrels a day, he said.
“The economic situation is not getting better,” Verleger, 64, a professor at the University of Calgary and head of consultant PKVerleger LLC, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “Global refinery runs are going to be much lower in the fall. If the recession continues and it’s a warm winter, it’s going to be devastating.”
Crude oil last traded at $20 a barrel in February 2002. Futures were at $61.18 today in New York, having recovered 89 percent from a four-year low reached last December. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is implementing record supply cuts announced last year in response to plunging consumption.
“OPEC don’t realize the magnitude of the cuts they need to make,” which would total about a further 2 million barrels a day, Verleger added. “Storage is going to become tight. It’s not clear if there’s going to be enough storage available.”
Oil will average $63.91 in the fourth quarter, according to the median of analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg. Crude for December delivery traded at $65.61 today in New York. Prices have rebounded on expectations of a demand recovery, led by China and other developing economies, and concern expansionary monetary policy would stoke inflation and weaken the dollar.
At the other end of the spectrum from Verleger, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicted in a report yesterday oil will rally to $85 a barrel by the end of the year, and recommended that clients buy futures contracts for delivery in December 2011.
“China is in a real desperate situation,” said Verleger, who publishes the Petroleum Economics Monthly. “We’re in a situation where U.S. consumers aren’t consuming and Chinese manufacturers get hurt. Economists are looking for growth in all the wrong places.”
Forward contracts for oil have been higher than prices for immediate delivery this year, a situation known as contango, creating incentives to buy crude now and store it. That may end as growing stockpiles make storage more expensive.
“Prices would be much lower today, but for the very large incentive to build inventories,” Verleger said. “You need forward buyers, which we had when people were fearing inflation, but as concerns turn toward deflation” that will no longer be the case.
Hu Jintao Protege Li Keqiang's Two Secretaries Arrested, Cause of Hu Jintao's Emergency Return From G8 By chinafreepress.org (translation) Jul 9, 2009 - 12:47:29 PM
Hu Jintao Protege Li Keqiang's Two Secretaries Arrested, Cause of Hu Jintao's Emergency Return From G8
Boxun reports that most people assumed Hu Jintao left the G8 meeting in Italy early to return home because of the ongoing violence in Xinjiang. In fact he rushed back because He Guoqiang--head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection--had taken the opportunity of Hu's absence to detain Li Keqiang's two secretaries on corruption charges. In fact Li's assistants have accepted bribes to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. But this is a common phenomenon.
He Guoqiang took advantage of Hu's absence to spring his trap, having Premier Wen Jiabao sign off on the incriminating evidence and arrest warrant. Hu used the excuse of the events in Xinjiang to rush home to attend to this threat to his desired heir to the Party leadership position.
The previous post is right on the mark. Arbitrarily cherry-picking foreign law to support decisions is the opposite of a rigorous constitutional process.
Sotomayor seems to understand that honest liberalism isn't how you go through confirmation even in a Democrat Senate so she pretends to be something other than what her previous words and decisions define her to be. She will be a reliable vote on the liberal side of controversial decisions, but she is not a legal scholar with compelling logic or intellectual discipline likely to sway other justices on anything.
She has problems with competence and honesty. Today's example shows that she won't admit that all nine sitting Justices disagreed with her on Ricci even though that case is undoubtedly the most important in her preparations for the hearings:
Senator Kyl is masterful again. He points out that her earlier claim — that her hands in Ricci were bound by Supreme Court and Second Circuit precedent — is simply not true. What is the precedent, he asks, and asks. She doesn’t answer, and doesn’t answer. Finally she cites the Bushey decision — a 1984 Second Circuit decision predating all kinds of intervening Supreme Court decisions and statutory amendments. Then Kyl points out that, even if this were binding precedent, it could have been overturned by en banc review, which she voted against (the deciding vote, as Senator Sessions pointed out yesterday). She has no answer to this, either. Nor does she have a convincing answer to Senator Kyl’s next question, regarding her panel’s back-of-the-hand rejection of a case that ultimately was important enough to command the attention of a majority-minus-one of the Second Circuit, the Supreme Court (which rejected her approach 9-0, as Senator Kyl notes), and the nation. On the question of whether the Supreme Court rejected her approach 9-0, she says it’s hard to say because “there were a lot of opinions in that case.” Ridiculous. There were four opinions, and obviously the majority and the two concurrences (by Scalia and Alito) rejected her approach. And Ginsburg does, too (see footnote 10 and page 23). She is not telling the truth.