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5501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism in Sweden on: August 27, 2009, 10:48:15 PM
"...while praising the Swedish envoy for her statement, said a similar one needed to be heard from the government in Stockholm and aimed not at the Israeli public, but at the Swedish one."

Thanks for that story.  Last March in 'Islam in Europe' I posted what I thought was an amazing story about how Sweden did not allow spectators to see the Davis Cup match (the world cup of tennis and tennis is HUGE in Sweden) for fear of uncontrollable riots.  The match was Sweden vs. Israel and the city was Malmo, now largely Muslim (27% of the people are foreign born) and Sweden's 3rd largest city.

Needless to say the riots went on anyway.  Take a look and see if this is the civilized Scandinavian country one might have expected.  Or has it been invaded by immigrants on a takeover mission, abusing the world's greatest welfare system, along with a remaining populace, like in certain suburbs of Paris, afraid to speak an opposing view.

Apology or no apology, it looks to me like the anti-semitism in either one of these stories is but the tip of an enormous iceberg.
5502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Abortion vs. the Unborn Human Life on: August 27, 2009, 09:55:58 PM
Probably could have put this under founding fathers, lol:

“Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized - the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.”  - Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) 1971
5503  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Kennedy - Kopechne on: August 27, 2009, 06:29:02 PM
There is no truth whatsoever then to the rumor that Ted Kennedy's service Saturday will be held underwater?
5504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: They keep missing the facts of the story. on: August 27, 2009, 10:47:50 AM
I just posted a story in 'Intel Matters': detailing the lives saved from the real intelligence received from the worst characters on the face of the earth.  Meanwhile I listened to NPR, a trusted source where my intelligent liberal friends might be listening, and they interviewed an FBI agent who explained how no real info is ever gotten through enhanced techniques and how 'it says more about us than it does about them', then the host piles on with more liberal drivel opposite to the FACT that real intelligence was obtained from terrorist detainees saving real American lives.

I am happy to go to conservative sites to read conservative opinions but it bugs me to no end that I have to go to right wing sources to find out established facts about the economy and about protecting our country.  What a tragedy that intelligent, liberal and moderate citizens can watch, read and listen to so many trusted sources and not get key facts on big issues.
5505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters: What made Detainees Talk? on: August 27, 2009, 10:19:43 AM
The Inspector General forgot to mention the lives that were saved, that the operatives that were captured from the intel were already in the US studying landmark targets, and that the info was not forthcoming until after the enhanced techniques.

I look forward to some liberal explaining to me 'what it is says about me' and my moral defect that I would favor water tricks before execution on the person who planned the bombing of the USS Cole and the planner of the 9/11/01 attacks that killed more Americans than Pearl Harbor.

What Made KSM Talk?

Newsweek’s Mark Hosenball says the Inspector General’s report and other recently-released documents pertaining to Bush-era interrogations of top al Qaeda operatives do not show that waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) “actually worked.” Hosenball concedes that the detainees gave up a treasure trove of valuable intelligence, but the documents do not “convincingly demonstrate” that the EITs “produced this useful information.”

This is likely to be the new conventional wisdom on the documents. It’s wrong, so let’s take it apart.

First, here are the four key paragraphs from the Inspector General’s Report that deal specifically with waterboarding – the harshest of the enhanced interrogation techniques – and its effect on intelligence production. They are reproduced below, with redactions noted, because you have to read them together to understand as much of the story as possible. The paragraphs can all be found on pages 90 and 91 of the Inspector General’s Report.

    The waterboard has been used on three detainees: Abu Zubaydah, Al-Nashiri, and Khalid Shaykh Muhammad. [REDACTED]…with the belief that each of the three detainees possessed perishable information about imminent threats against the United States.

    Prior to the use of EITs, Abu Zubaydah provided information for [REDACTED] intelligence reports. Interrogators applied the waterboard to Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times during August 2002. During the period between the end of the use of the waterboard and 30 April 2003, he provided information for approximately [REDACTED] additional reports. It is not possible to say definitively that the waterboard is the reason for Abu Zubaydah’s increased production, or if another factor, such as the length of detention, was the catalyst. Since the use of the waterboard, however, Abu Zubaydah has appeared to be cooperative, [REDACTED]

    With respect to Al-Nashiri, [REDACTED] reported two waterboard sessions in November 2002, after which the psychologist/interrogators determined that Al-Nashiri was compliant. However, after being moved [REDACTED] Al-Nashiri was thought to be withholding information. Al-Nashiri subsequently received additional EITs, [REDACTED] but not the waterboard. The Agency then determined Al-Nashiri to be “compliant.” Because of the litany of techniques used by different interrogators over a relatively short period of time, it is difficult to identify exactly why Al-Nashiri became more willing to provide information. However, following the use of EITs, he provided information about his most current operational planning and [REDACTED] as opposed to the historical information he provided before the use of EITs.

    On the other hand, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete. As a means of less active resistance, at the beginning of their interrogation, detainees routinely provide information that they know is already known. Khalid Shakyh Muhammad received 183 applications of the waterboard in March 2003 [REDACTED]

Admittedly, the redactions make it difficult to get the whole story. But here is what we can tell.

The IG says he couldn’t tell whether it was the waterboard or some other factor that led to the increase in intelligence production coming out of Abu Zubaydah’s interrogations. It seems highly unlikely on its face that Zubaydah’s time in custody alone (the only other possible explanation specifically offered by the IG) could have led to this increase in output. The waterboarding began in August 2002, and the increase in Zubaydah’s intelligence reporting that is cited ended in April of 2003. That’s a period of just nine months, which is hardly a prolonged period of time for a master terrorist such as a Zubaydah.

Moreover, even the IG concedes that since Zubaydah was waterboarded he “has appeared to be cooperative.”

Next came Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing. Nashiri was waterboarded twice before the Agency determined he had become compliant. Nashiri was then apparently moved and stopped giving up intelligence, so the Agency employed a variety of EITs, but not the waterboard, in a short period of time. After the EITs were employed, Nashiri became compliant once again. Nashiri now “provided information about his most current operational planning…as opposed to the historical information he provided before the use of EITs.”

So, the use of EITs on Nashiri led him to give up actionable intelligence on his operations. Previously, he was giving up “historical information,” which had presumably significantly less value.

Finally, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal planner of the September 11 attacks, was taken into custody and interrogated. Note that the final paragraph of the block quote reproduced above begins with “On the other hand…” The author appears to be drawing a comparison to the previous paragraph, which dealt with Nashiri’s interrogations. One possible reading is that while EITs other than waterboarding worked on Nashiri, they didn’t work on KSM, who was an “accomplished resistor.”

The IG found that before KSM was waterboarded he gave up only a few intelligence reports and “much” of that scant intelligence was bogus. However, we know from other declassified reports released on Monday that KSM became a font of intelligence on al Qaeda, giving up his fellow terrorists and specific plots. That’s why the CIA’s June 3, 2005, report calls KSM the Agency’s “preeminent source” on al Qaeda in the title.

What made KSM talk? Taken at face value, the IG’s report suggests that it was the waterboard, and the waterboard alone, that led to this gusher of intelligence. The un-redacted portions of the IG’s report do not mention any other possible reason for KSM’s change of heart when it came to dealing with his debriefers. And he wasn’t in custody very long before KSM started naming names – some of the terrorists he gave up were captured within a matter of weeks.

So, there you have it. Zubaydah gave up more intelligence after being waterboarded. The waterboard made Nashiri compliant. When Nashiri stopped cooperating, other EITs were used to make him talk. And talk he did, giving up the “operational” details of his plotting. And, finally, KSM gave up little of value prior to being waterboarded. Afterwards, he became the CIA’s most important source on al Qaeda.

Despite all of this, Hosenball concludes that the IG’s report does not “convincingly demonstrate” that the implementation of the EITs produced “useful information.” This is nonsense. How could Nashiri’s information about “current operational planning,” which he only gave up after the EITs were employed, not be useful? Nashiri was plotting multiple attacks prior to his capture.

And Hosenball pretends that KSM may have given up a significant amount of intelligence prior to waterboarding. The IG’s report plainly contradicts this assessment, saying that KSM gave up little prior to being waterboarded. Some of the pre-waterboarding intelligence may very well have been valuable, but much of it, according to the IG’s own report, was bunk. KSM would go on to become the CIA’s “pre-eminent source” on al Qaeda.

When Hosenball isn’t mischaracterizing the report, he is selectively citing it. The IG report notes that the detainees gave up vital information about al Qaeda’s plotting. But Hosenball selectively quotes the inspector general as saying that his investigation failed to "uncover any evidence that these plots were imminent."

Here is the full quote from the IG’s report:

    This Review did not uncover any evidence that these plots were imminent. Agency senior managers believe that lives have been saved as a result of the capture and interrogation of terrorists who were planning attacks, in particular Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, Abu Zubaydah, Hambali, and Al-Nashiri.

Hosenball simply left out the part about saving lives.

It should be noted, too, that some of the intelligence given up by the detainees related to al Qaeda operatives who were already on American soil and plotting attacks. KSM, for example, gave up intelligence on Uzair Paracha and Iyman Faris, both of whom were plotting attacks on New York City. Faris had already cased the Brooklyn Bridge, and was exploring ways to attack landmarks in and around New York City. Uzair Paracha worked in an office in the Garment District of Manhattan. From that office, Uzair plotted attacks with his father, Saifullah. Among other nefarious plotting, the Parachas intended to help al Qaeda smuggle explosives into New York using their export/import company as a cover.

Both Uzair Paracha and Iyman Faris were arrested in March 2003, just weeks after KSM was detained. Both of them have subsequently been convicted and sentenced to prison. Saifullah Paracha is currently detained at Gitmo.

The IG may believe that their plotting did not pose an “imminent” threat, but there are plenty of good reasons to disagree with that assessment. There are other examples of what can be reasonably called “imminent” plots that were stopped as well.

Some, like Hosenball, may want to pretend that the implementation of controversial techniques did not lead to valuable intelligence and save American lives. A careful reading of the IG’s report and other documents says otherwise.
5506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACTION items - Ten for Tark on: August 25, 2009, 10:40:48 PM
If you don't like the course being taken by Obama-Pelosi-Reid, being informed and voting IS NOT ENOUGH!  All of us must speak up, speak out and reach out to make a difference.  Here is one idea.  $10.  Even I can afford this one.  If you do it, please speak up here and share it elsewhere.  Maybe others will do it also.  I especially hope people here who are not regular posters will join in this small action that sends a strong message to our friends in the Senate.  Please copy and share with people of similar views and interests.  Thank you.  - Doug

 Ten for Tark
August 25, 2009

Like Newt Gingrich, our friend Hugh Hewitt is a reliable source of winning ideas for Republicans. Hugh's latest brainstorm is "$10 for Tark" -- his campaign to signal opposition to Obamacare via a $10 contribution to Harry Reid's only announced opponent, former UNLV hoopster Danny Tarkanian.

Since Hugh mentioned his brainstorm yesterday during his syndicated radio show, he has received more than 500 e-mails with copies of their messages to Harry Reid and many with attached receipts of the donation to Tark. Let us take the opportunity to demonstrate to other Democrats the nature of opposition to Obamacare -- that it isn't just loud, but that it will lead to a funding burst for the GOP.

Contribute to Tark here:
Then email Senator Reid here:
 and copy Hugh (
5507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government Health Care entitles them to even more of your private information on: August 25, 2009, 01:17:52 PM
A must see video depicting America under ObamaCare:
Maybe written as humor but not very far fetched!

CCP: "So it is not totally unreasonable that payers have a right to some input." 

Totally agree. And also to gather information and limit choices regarding behaviors that add risk to health care costs.

As a limited government advocate, I oppose expanding the gov't footprint into areas where the private customer was already satisfied with their plan.  IMO people like Hannity earned the right to spend his own money on their own services, just as I have 'earned' the right to spend up to my Blue Cross coverage limits.  sad  From Canada they drive into Duluth MN and Mayo Clinic and countless other areas across the border to get the things their own panel denied or delayed.  In the US, we won't just drive across the border and find a freer and richer country with wider choices and immediate availability.

5508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care, Safety net running wild on: August 25, 2009, 11:36:36 AM
Sen Kent Conrad (D) on Face the Nation: "...the country heading for the cliff, and we're headed for a cliff because costs in health care are spiraling out of control."

Yes but the mechanism that controls costs with every other product and service in every other industry is not in place - supply and demand.  You cannot charge what your customers are not able or willing to pay for anything - until you open the door for third party money to make up an ever-expanding difference.

So the answer is open the rest of the system to the backing of unlimited third party pay.  That is NOT how innovation flourishes or how costs are best controlled.
Re. Death Panels: CCP, as an industry professional you know better than the rest of us that difficult choices are faced and difficult decisions are made every day every moment somewhere about the life and death of a patient. Those difficult times in our lives don't go away under any plan. The difference with this is to enter the government, uninvited, into the room during the discussions, holding all the cards, on a mission to control costs - for the children... sounds like a death panel to me.
5509  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 24, 2009, 12:09:52 AM
I support liberties lost in FISA.  If my number is discovered even for innocent reasons in the speed dial or recently called numbers of a captured terrorist, I expect surveillance and will live through it.  Hopefully they discover it was a wrong number!

A columnist and talk show host hear put it nicely, that if the 19 hijackers were discovered to be middle-aged, balding, midwest, talk show hosts of French Canadian descent, he would expect to be slowed down a little in airports.

Over to BBG's example of abuse with armadillo.  If the Police Chief orders it in front of the Mayor's rival's house for all the wrong reasons, I think we can all agree that those complicit should be fired and prosecuted.

Somebody puts their reputation and hopefully their career on the line when they order surveillance by the government of a private citizen.   
5510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sarah Palin - "Death Panels" on: August 23, 2009, 11:47:29 PM
Crafty: "I have my questions about Sarah, but she remains someone keeping an eye on."

Likewise.  She was not the correct VP choice last time, but nonetheless has amazing talent and star-power, is an intuitive conservative and has an unknown future.

My thoughts are similar to Taranto's, but I take it further.  When you look at the timing of where the pendulum really started to pick up momentum against the massive government healthcare expansion proposals, the newsworthy story was a blogpost of Gov. Palin coining the term "Death Panels".

Taken literally, death panels was assumed to refer to a mandate in Obama-Pelosi-Care that requires the government to come visit you and talk to you about your choices and your costs to society as your pathetic life starts appearing to be fading. 

Palin said these will decide your fate when the legislative truth is that 'they' will just be required to come 'talk to you' -  with the purpose of persuading you to maybe forego heroic efforts and save us all a lot of money. So Palin is wrong on that point by just a smidgen.

"Death Panels" as a political concept has legs and provokes a vivid visualization and more meanings which I will expand on below. 

Obama chose to answer the claim, refute it and give it more legs and more publicity.  His thorough and total denial was followed by a news story that the death panels will be removed from the legislation.  So much for the total denial.   smiley

But "Death Panels" means much more than that.  The term symbolizes the concept of rationing.  If life-saving procedures will be rationed based on age, quality of life, etc, and the decisions at least in the 'public option' will be made by bureaucrats meeting and negotiating with other budgeting bureaucrats... then "Death Panels" is a perfect negative phrase to describe the cost-saving aspects of ObamaCare. 

And it goes a step further.  Recall how liberals 'dislike' Sarah Palin for pro-life views.  Contrast that with the extreme abortion rights that are in the bill, forced on you to cover with the public option and forced on you with your private choices.  This fact comes from Obama' own words.

And speaking of abortion recall that Sarah Palin in the mother of a Down Syndrome baby.  Those are the ones that mostly get aborted, statistically even ahead of black babies that aborted at 3-times the rate of white babies.  (Disclosure: I am uncle to a Down Syndrome baby who I have grown rather fond of.)

Currently expecting mothers are fully informed about the health and status of their unborn child including the ability to view amazing photos in the womb.  One reason they inform always about Down Syndrome is to give you the opportunity to abort the 'defective' baby - and wait for a 'good one'. 

Now enter government health care trying to ration and control costs, coming in to give you that same talk about the quality of life your fetus with defects can expect and how expensive the follow up surgeries can be, only to live this less than Ivy-League life.  Other than death panels, what else would you call someone who comes in and advocates abortion to you in this emotionally-charged situation.

I'm sure that aborting or encouraging abortion of extra chromosome fetuses does not offend many.  For liberals maybe you should instead wisualize the situation after we learn to recognize the fetuses who will be born gay.  Another one of God's little life quirks, want to stomp that out too??  Better talk to your death panel about it. 

Sound far-fetched?? We already abort black babies at 3 times the rate of white babies.  Why? It is the result of the advice these young women are getting already, mostly in government health care, BEFORE we go to fully rationed and socialized health care.

5511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy, National Sales Tax / VAT on: August 23, 2009, 10:16:43 AM
George Stephanopolous pointed out what he considered the obvious, that a $9 trillion dollar gap will need made up with new revenues and the obvious one is a federal Value Added Tax, not instead of, but on top of all of our other federal taxes.

The sales tax is a government revenue source that currently belongs to the states and localities if they choose to use it.  We won't have power and control at the state level when the revenues are controlled by the feds.

The problem is and always has been the spending. 
5512  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 22, 2009, 01:05:05 PM
"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.
5513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 22, 2009, 12:51:43 PM
"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. 
5514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - New Debt on: August 21, 2009, 09:18:23 PM
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.  sad
5515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: August 21, 2009, 02:10:12 PM
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.

Here is one satirist's view, in song:
"The day Obamacare Died" to American Pie on the Rush L. show.
5516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / re. BO driving us into the gutter on: August 21, 2009, 12:05:16 PM
(Crafty: Lets continue this conversation on the Politics thread.) - Ok, but as I proof read this looks a lot like a rant.  smiley

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.  sad

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'!

5517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Census link to health care mandates on: August 21, 2009, 10:47:47 AM
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?

<1> Yes

<2> No

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.
5518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes, Health Care Info on: August 21, 2009, 10:27:53 AM
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.) "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?

<1> Yes

<2> No

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
5519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - Big Government, Big Recession - Alan Reynolds on: August 21, 2009, 10:03:02 AM

Big Government, Big Recession
There's no evidence for the theory that state spending has shortened this or any other slowdown.


‘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).
5520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: August 21, 2009, 09:23:16 AM
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.
5521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: U.S. Census 2010 on: August 21, 2009, 08:36:27 AM
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?
5522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: August 21, 2009, 12:11:08 AM
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.
5523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care: a couple of inaccuracies - understatement on: August 17, 2009, 07:11:54 PM
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.
5524  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: August 17, 2009, 06:58:30 PM
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.
5525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: August 17, 2009, 06:41:43 PM
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.   sad

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...
5526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Water, here's some... on: August 17, 2009, 12:13:50 PM
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.
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.)
5527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 17, 2009, 11:44:27 AM
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.

5528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: August 16, 2009, 11:20:12 PM
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.
5529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Record Deficits on: August 13, 2009, 12:42:34 PM
BBG, love your joke!

I need a better title - we always have record deficits, but these are something else.

Can't say that I stand corrected (on the deficit hitting 181 Billion for the month of July) but the Obama administration offers this explanation: August 1 fell on a Saturday this year requiring many government benefit checks to be sent out earlier and counted as spending in July.

Of course these transfer payment checks, taking from Peter to pay Paul or not collecting from Peter but still paying Paul, have NOTHING to do with 'governing'.
5530  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: CNN in the heartland on: August 13, 2009, 12:19:31 PM
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:

5531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: August 13, 2009, 11:28:39 AM
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.

Quoting Murray:

"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."
5532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Income Inequality: "why not take some of that income away" on: August 12, 2009, 03:58:07 PM
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.
5533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 12, 2009, 03:22:06 PM
CCP Thanks for posting.  Lady in line: ""It's free money!" said Alecia Rumph, 26, who waited in a Morris Park, Bronx, line 300 people deep for the cash to buy uniforms and book bags for her two kids."

 - She only regrets that she didn't have more children that she couldn't afford to raise.

When faced with the choice of teaching our free enterprise system or teaching successful welfare recipiency, they choose the latter every time.
5534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, Do Deficits Matter? on: August 11, 2009, 03:18:07 PM
I recall the uproar when Reagan / Tip O'Neill deficits approached and exceeded $200Bil.

I recall the uproar over Bush deficits... decreasing as the economy grew, but in the low hundreds of billions.

So far not noticing much criticism from the media or left about the new Obama deficit... $181 Billion... in the MONTH of July!

Do deficits matter?
5535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: August 11, 2009, 02:25:09 PM
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

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?
5536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care: Privacy Loss, Coercion and Lies on: August 10, 2009, 03:37:51 PM
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.
5537  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Care vs. Control on: August 10, 2009, 02:04:58 PM
CCP: "They should not harp on just the cost issue..."

I think this piece by T. Sowell goes beyond cost:

Care versus control

By Thomas Sowell

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.

The crucial word is not "care" but "control."
5538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward for Reps: The US Senate on: August 08, 2009, 11:00:05 PM
Miscellaneous political thought:  Arkansas is a conservative state with a Dem Senator Blanch Lincoln up for reelection, in need of a prominent R. challenger.

Mike Huckabee doesn't know it right now but he will never be President.  My sister lived in Arkansas when Huckabee was Governor and thinks he is wonderful (I don't, but that's another story).

If anyone knows Mike, give him a call and tell him his country needs him - in the Senate.
5539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afghanistan: 30-40 years on: August 08, 2009, 10:46:25 PM
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.

August 8, 2009

General Sir David Richards, who becomes Chief of the General Staff on August 28, said: “The Army’s role will evolve, but the whole process might take as long as 30 to 40 years.”
5540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / re. market and monetary disorder on: August 08, 2009, 09:16:12 PM
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.
5541  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: August 08, 2009, 07:44:35 PM
"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.
5542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: August 07, 2009, 03:40:44 PM
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!
5543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: August 07, 2009, 10:46:55 AM
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.
5544  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Something odd about the released journalists on: August 06, 2009, 02:22:58 PM
I don't know where other than under glibness to put this...  As we celebrate the diplomatic success of paying ransom to hostage takers it was noted that it is unusual for hostages to be rescued from forced hard labor camps carrying shopping bags and intact luggage.
5545  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: August 06, 2009, 11:25:35 AM
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.
5546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Taking Back Congress on: August 06, 2009, 11:03:42 AM
The money requirement is unfortunate but I didn't hear the door slam shut very hard  smiley.  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)
5547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward for Conservatives: Start by Taking Congress on: August 05, 2009, 10:25:16 PM
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.
5548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cash for Clunkers: Piecemeal Lobbied Justice vs. Equal Protectection for ALL on: August 05, 2009, 06:27:09 PM
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...
5549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 04, 2009, 11:38:00 PM
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.

5550  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica, eggs to the troops on: August 04, 2009, 10:27:29 AM
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.
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