Monday, February 20, 2017

The 'Caddyshack' President

The New York Times has finally figured-out that Donald Trump is Al Czervik, the Rodney Dangerfield character from the classic 1980 comedy, 'Caddyshack'.  Welcome to the club.

I've been fascinated by the Trump/Czervik congruence since Trump announced his candidacy.  Both are over-the-top, ostentatious, boorish, real estate tycoon golfers who upset the establishment.  And both are oddly lovable to their fans.  In fact, of all the great characters in 'Caddyshack', Al Czervik is the most enduring and popular according to polls.

Here is a sampling of 'Caddyshack' scenes I've used to highlight the striking similarities:










Saturday, February 4, 2017

Obamacare Replacement: How to Succeed in Three Simple Steps




A Ferrari is a superb automobile (…or so I’m told!), but if you drive one off a cliff, you’ll quickly find it makes a horrible airplane.  Similarly, our government is designed to do a few public sector things well, but when we ask it to do private sector things, it’s like asking a car to fly.

That’s what happened with Obamacare.  Democrats strapped some wings on a car, and then drove it off a cliff with all of us onboard.  Republicans will ultimately fail if their fix is merely an improvement on that flying-car model.

Instead, Republicans and Democrats should scrap the flying-car model entirely, and perform a complete separation of car stuff from airplane stuff.  Then they should allow the people who design and build the best cars to do their job, and allow their counterparts in the airplane business to do theirs. 

I’m not suggesting Boeing or GM be involved in replacing Obamacare.  The point is, there are some things the public sector should do, and there are others the private sector should do.

Healthcare, being a dynamic, complex, service-oriented market, is precisely the kind of thing governments are ill equipped to micro-manage.  Like an airplane, healthcare markets are moving at breakneck speed, must be able to change course instantaneously, and are operating in turbulent three-dimensional space.

Conversely, providing a safety net, which is essential in healthcare, is precisely the kind of thing the public sector must do.  But, like a car designed by committee, the public sector is perennially underpowered, overweight, low on fuel, and operates on a one-way dirt road that only allows direction changes every four years.  Public sectors work best if they keep things simple, realistic, and have a clearly defined mission.

For a long time, even preceding Obamacare, we were using the flying-car model, and our designs were poor for both functions.

For an airplane to fly well, there must be an instantaneous response from the controls to the flight surfaces.  Similarly, for free markets to function, there must be an instantaneous response from buyers to sellers.  In both cases, a direct linkage is essential.  Nothing like that has existed in healthcare for decades. 

Since WWII, there has been a huge tax advantage for employers to provide health insurance to their employees.  As a result, for the vast majority of Americans covered by private health insurance, there are two thick layers of bureaucracy between buyers (patients) and sellers (doctors, hospitals, etc.).  

All told, about 95% of Americans get their health insurance from either government (federal, state, or local) or their employer.  Obamacare has only made it worse.  That leaves only about 5% of the population that actually buys their own health insurance.

Unless and until health care and health insurance become consumer products, something the vast majority of Americans pay for on their own, there will never be a true functioning free market.  As long as there are two levels of bureaucracy between buyers and sellers, price, quality, speed, access, and satisfaction will all suffer.

The idea of direct linkage applies to cars as well. 

When the federal government provides a safety net, there is a critical break in the linkage between buyers and sellers.  The reason is, the federal government has access to what appears to be free money.  Having access to the world’s reserve currency makes borrowing and printing dollars deceptively easy.  Politicians can overpromise and underfund without negative short-term consequences. This is an illusion that will inevitably backfire on our descendants.

To avoid this problem, states must be the safety net providers.  By definition, states are forced to be more realistic, more practical, and more skilled when providing safety nets.  They are closer to the facts on the ground and cannot access money without repercussions. If states want to provide a high-cost safety net, they must be willing to tax their citizens a commensurate amount.  That forces a discipline that the feds can too easily cheat their way around. 

Ronald Reagan used to say, “There are simple solutions - just not easy ones.” By that he meant that the solutions to seemingly complex government problems can often be quite simple, but implementing them is another matter in a divided government with checks and balances.

The following three specific proposals are not meant to be what’s easy, just what’s simple: 

1.  Separation of public and private functions
·      Government should not be in the business of providing healthcare or insurance, but instead must be there to provide a safety net in the form of vouchers or cash.
·      This should be how Medicaid, Medicare, subsidies, insurance for pre-existing conditions, etc. all should be handled.
·      The private sector free market should provide all healthcare and health insurance.
·      Thus, the private sector handles all the services and products, and the public sector provides money for the safety net. 

2.  Linkage of buyers and sellers
·      All Individuals, whether self-sufficient or in the safety net, should be the buyers of their own healthcare and health insurance.
·      Tax policy should change to favor individuals over employers.
·      One possible tax change would be to dis-allow health insurance deductions for employers, and at the same time increase wages and lower payroll taxes by a commensurate amount to transfer the tax advantage and premium dollars to individuals. This would result in no net changes to anyone, but it would shift the market to individuals.  
·      Individuals should be free to form groups (marathon runners, vegans, non-smokers, etc.) to help them save on premiums. 
·      Individuals should be able to take their plans with them wherever they go.  (see below regarding McCarran Ferguson)
·      Medical providers and insurers should be free to advertise, disclose prices, and compete openly.
·      The government safety net should be voucher or cash based so that recipient individuals can make their own choices. 

3. Safety net by the States
·      There should be a transition to state funding of the safety net by starting with closed-end block grants, as some current GOP proposals seek to do with Medicaid. (Medicaid is currently managed by the states but funded in large measure by the feds with an open-ended commitment.  This creates a situation whereby states have no incentive to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse because the feds will always kick in the necessary cash.  This has made Medicaid a runaway train-wreck of inefficiency.  If the states fund and run their own safety nets, it will eliminate this problem.)
·      Federal taxes would plummet and state taxes would rise commensurately, but there would be a net savings in improved efficiency since states are better run overall than the federal government. 
·      The safety nets should provide for the essential needs of the poor, the sick (pre-existing conditions), and the incompetent.
·      Each state should be free do what’s best for their population in terms of how they structure their safety net.

4. (optional)
·      Overturn McCarran Ferguson. 

(One of the issues we hear a lot about is the inability of health insurance companies to sell policies across state lines.  This is because of an old law called McCarran Ferguson that exempts insurance from federal regulation and the commerce clause.  As a result, insurers cannot sell across state lines, must maintain separate corporations in every state, and must answer to fifty state regulators. 

Without McCarran Ferguson, insurance would be portable, national, and cheaper.  

But McCarran Ferguson is not a deal-breaker. That law also covers auto insurers who appear to compete just fine.  The reason is, unlike health insurance, 95% of the auto insurance market is individual.  That’s why you cannot go a day without seeing a GEICO or Progressive ad.  So yes, it would help to get rid of this outdated law, but the individual market is the real key.) 

Those are the simple things we can do.  The problem is that we have two parties and two incompatible visions for the future of healthcare. 

Democrats have been dreaming of a federal government healthcare takeover for over a century.  Republicans tend to prefer a free market with a safety net. That impasse is how we’ve ended-up with the worst of both worlds: the flying-car healthcare system.

It’s time to be honest and separate the two functions.  Let the free market function in healthcare, and let state governments transparently tax and spend to provide a proper safety net.  Let planes be planes, and let cars be cars.

I never said it would be easy, but it really is quite simple.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Democrats Have Seceded From The Union. What's Next?


The election of 1860 was so traumatic for Democrats in the South that they began seceding from the union immediately afterwards.  But the Civil War did not start until April, 1861, when a dispute over who controlled Fort Sumter resulted in an attack by the South.  By the end of the war, 620,000 soldiers alone had died.

There's a meme that's been going around since Donald Trump's election that says, "Wow, I haven't seen Democrats this upset since we freed their slaves!"  At the risk of being melodramatic, I'd like to make the case that this is eerily perceptive.

I've written in the past that the Civil War was really about an entitlement mentality towards slavery. The South wasn't interested in abusing Africans for the sake of abusing them. It was about economics and preserving a lucrative economic system based on the slavery entitlement. The South did not want to lose its entitlement, and the Republicans, embodied by the newly elected Abraham Lincoln, were a direct and imminent threat.

Explaining secession in 1860 in terms of entitlement helps explain what is happening today with the Democrats and Donald Trump.  

Democrats have gotten used to a number of entitlements, and by entitlements, I'm referring to any benefit that becomes so entrenched it is taken for granted.  Here's a partial list: 
  • Unfettered access to borrowing and printing dollars for redistributive entitlements
  • Either complete control, or at least filibuster control, of the federal government
  • Bureaucratic control of the federal government
  • Union control of the federal government
  • Unanimous union support
  • Unanimous support of the poor
  • Unanimous support of minorities
  • Unanimous support of immigrants
  • Control of immigration policy     
  • Citizenship not required for voting
  • Control, or at least nominal control, of the Supreme Court
  • So-called "sanctuary" policies which allow Democrat cities to subvert federal law 
  • Support of the vast majority in media, academia, and entertainment. 

Donald Trump is a threat to each of these Democrat entitlements.  His unconventional, brash, improvisational, and ultimately successful ascension to the Presidency has gotten their attention.  So they are reacting. 

The Democrat response has been variously called a temper tantrum, a melt-down, a fit, a resistance, a civil disobedience movement, a protest, etc.  But what it really is, is secession.  

Unlike the South, which was a geographically distinct entity, the Democrats are spread throughout the country.  This is not a physical secession like the one in 1860, but more of a philosophical one. 

Democrats have seceded from the Constitution of the United States. 

Of course they would disagree and say they are actually defending the Constitution.  That's exactly what the South said in 1860.  

Here are some of the things prominent Democrats have done since Donald Trump's election, which mirror 1860 - '61:
  • Civil disobedience and protests immediately after the election
  • Claims of an illegitimate election
  • Boycotts of the inauguration
  • Civil disobedience and protests immediately after the inauguration
  • Calls for removal, impeachment, and even violence
  • Sabotaging the formation of a new government
  • States and cities threatening to secede
  • States and cities threatening to ignore federal law
  • Violence against supporters

So, what's the next step?  Are we headed for Fort Sumter? 

Today, Democrats seceded from the entire process of advice and consent in the Senate committees, something never done on this scale in the U.S. before.   

Interestingly, the  battle of Fort Sumter happened about six weeks after Abraham Lincoln was sworn-in on March 4th, 1861.  We are still less than two weeks into Donald Trump's presidency.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Islam: A True Story




In 1987, a friend of mine from college days, named Carl, traveled to Indonesia with an Israeli friend, named David. Israelis are permanently barred from pretty much all Muslim countries including Indonesia, but David was able to visit because he also had a New Zealand passport.

Carl wrote a letter home documenting his first impressions of Indonesia, and in it he said, "On arriving, I noted that they (the Indonesians) seemed to be laid back Muslims, which David implied was impossible."

As far as I know, David is still alive.  Carl died on 9/11.    

I bring this up in the context of Donald Trump's temporary pause in immigration from seven countries identified by Congress and Obama as state sponsors, or enablers, of Islamic terrorism.

Many Americans view Islam the way Carl did, as just another "laid back" religion.  And many, including the current President, have a more Jefferson, Adams, and David view.  Jefferson famously went to war against Islamic terrorism, and won.

President Trump appears to be in good company on this.

Monday, January 30, 2017

You're Fired!



President Trump fired his first public sector employee today, Sally Yates, an Obama appointee who was acting Attorney General due to Democrats delaying Jeff Sessions.  That makes today a good time to remind readers what I wrote in July 2015 about the prospect of a Trump presidency, which at the time I thought an extremely remote possibility:  
President Trump could accomplish from within the government what could never be accomplished from without:  namely the destruction and de-legitimization of the federal leviathan. 
Donald Trump could be the virus that infects and ultimately kills the progressive idea that government can and should micro-manage every aspect of your life.  Sure it sounds appealing when a silver-tongued community organizer gives you a one sided utopian vision to cling to,  but how many want to sign up for that same program when the guy who says “you’re fired!” becomes boss? 
Donald Trump holds people accountable.  That alone would stop totalitarianism in its tracks.  The only way the progressive takeover can continue is if a majority stays convinced they are getting a free ride in exchange for others losing their freedoms.  Trump will give no one a free ride, and everyone will be his subject.   
Make Donald Trump President, and inside of four years the electorate will be clamoring for limited government once again in America. 
Amen.  It may have only taken ten days!  


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump Has A Point On Illegal Voting

Donald Trump continues to create firestorms by asserting he likely won the popular vote - if illegal votes are deducted.  Meanwhile, one of the reasons millions of women protested was that they asserted Hillary Clinton should rightfully be president because she won the popular vote. 

All of this raises some interesting questions. Did illegals vote? If so, how many? Could it be enough to swing the popular vote? And, should we even look at the popular vote? 

States that Issue Driver's Licenses to Unauthorized Immigrants 

2106 Election Results Map


The two maps above amount to prima facie evidence that Donald Trump has a point regarding illegals voting. Of the 13 states and districts (including Washington D.C.) that issue driver's licenses to unauthorized immigrants, 12 of them voted for Hillary Clinton. That's a whopping 92%!  

Only Utah bucked the trend, but that's because Utah requests a picture ID or equivalent, and the driver's license they issue to unauthorized immigrants is distinctly different from the one issued to citizens.   

This occurred during a year when the Democrat candidate won only 21 states (including D.C.), 12 of which, or 57%, were states that issue driver's licenses to unauthorized immigrants. The odds of this being a coincidence are astronomical.

It's not a coincidence. Democrats have been on a decades long mission to encourage unauthorized immigrants to come here and vote. The reason is simple; immigrants overwhelmingly vote Democrat. 

To further this along, Democrat President Bill Clinton signed a law in 1993 known as the Motor Voter Bill, which basically automated voter registration for anyone applying for a driver's license or other government benefit.  The loophole is that illegals are now registering to vote in massive numbers, particularly in states that issue them driver's licenses.  

Here's a picture of Bill Clinton signing the Motor Voter bill.  Notice the two people standing directly behind him?  They are Francis Fox Piven and  Richard Cloward, in the green and grey respectively, two radical Columbia University professors who advocated collapsing the U.S. by overloading it with dependents and immigrants.


And here is Barack Obama, who studied at Columbia University while Cloward and Piven held court there, answering  a question with only one correct answer.  The question is essentially, "should illegals be afraid to vote?" His answer should have been, "they shouldn't vote because it's illegal". That's not what he says though.



So, should we even care about the popular vote?

Of course not. How many Trump voters stayed home in states like California, New York, and Illinois because they knew their votes were meaningless in states that hadn't chosen a Republican since cars had cranks? Both candidates would have run completely different races if the popular vote had been the goal.  You simply can't hold an election based on one set of rules and then scream foul when your candidate would have won based on some other hypothetical set of rules.

Think how this would work in sports.  The baseball World Series winner is determined by a best-of-seven series of games, and  this year the Chicago Cubs won four games to win the series. But in the popular vote of runs scored, it was a tie!  Sometimes the losing team outscores the winner over the whole series, but they still lose, and no one claims otherwise.

Same in football, where the only thing that matters is outscoring the opposing team at the end of an hour.  Sometimes the team that loses has more offensive yards, dominates the clock, completes more passes, forces more turnovers, etc. But they still lose.

So, how many illegals and non-citizens voted? There is absolutely no way to ever know because by Democrat design, voting is done almost entirely on the honor system.  No citizenship records are kept. That leaves only maps and circumstantial evidence - like this:

2106 Election Map Showing Democrat Concentrations Near Border Crossings and Routes
(Hat Tip: @Military4Trump on Twitter)

Perhaps the most telling aspect of voter fraud is that Democrats have worked tirelessly to allow it. They have promoted policies like loose registration, early voting, mail-in ballots, no photo I.D., no citizenship I.D., no oversight at polling places, and provisional balloting.  Meanwhile, Democrats have universally opposed every single proposal to ensure integrity in the voting system.

Donald Trump has a point, he should investigate, and he should work to ensure integrity in the voting system.  If not, he and every Republican from now on will lose the popular vote, and probably the Presidency as well.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Does Love Trump Hate?

I thought about writing a thoughtful piece about The Women's March, its causes, and ramifications. But I soon realized that a mass protest like this is little more than a live performance of a meme.  Or more accurately, multiple memes.  

So instead of a long thoughtful piece, for which a temper tantrum would be unworthy, here's the three big memes all rolled-up into one: 

   




Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dear Trump Haters...

Dear Trump Haters,

Hatred is a counterproductive emotion.  It saps your energy, hurts you more than the target of your hate, and rarely results in anything positive.  Of course, if you disagree with policies and methods, you have every right and obligation to criticize and make counter proposals.  But raw hatred should not be part of the equation.  It makes you look unhinged, especially when the object of your hate hasn't even taken office yet!  

Look, you had eight years to demonstrate the superiority of liberal totalitarianism. It didn't work. Now it's time to give constitutional freedom a chance. Is that what Trump will bring? Who knows. That's certainly what his cabinet choices look like.  

So, let's give the new President a chance to enact his vision. If it turns out to be just another version of totalitarianism, then it's time to ramp up the protests. And I'll be right there blogging against it! In the mean time, try to be civil. That's what we, who opposed liberal totalitarianism, did when Obama was the new guy. You are looking very bad in comparison.  

And consider this:                 


P.S.  Your candidate didn't lose because of Russians, Fake News, James Comey, Julian Assange, Misogyny, Racism, Fox News, or any one of the lame excuses you have come up with.  Deal with it. You lost. Grow up.  

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Will The Real Hitler Please Stand Up?


Update:  
SEEN ON FACEBOOK: “While everyone was banging on about Trump being Hitler, Obama sent thousands of troops into Poland. The satire is writing itself these days.”  
(as per Glenn Reynolds at instapundit.com)  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dieselgate Update


The Obama DOJ has charged six VW executives and arrested one in the diesel emissions scandal plaguing the German automaker.   In other news, Fiat Chrysler has also been accused of it's own diesel emissions cheating scandal.   Oh, and don't forget Mercedes, which is being sued over diesel emissions as well.  What's going on here?

Here's the upshot from a piece about all the diesel models NOT coming to the U.S. from a site called gas2.org:    

For those of you keeping score, then, that means Volkswagen’s diesels are out. Audi’s diesels are out. Mercedes’ diesels are, apparently, on the way out now, too. As it stands, Jaguar is the only automaker ready to sell 2017 model year diesels in the US. Sure, BMW and GM (nee Chevy) are both anticipating their diesels to be cleared for sale before the end of the year. But that still just leaves Jaguar in the here and now. One brand, compared with nine brands offering twenty diesel models in the US this time last year.  

In other words, passenger diesel is dead.  How GM, BMW, and Jaguar are able to continue selling them is a mystery that the others may want to solve.  For all intents and purposes, emissions laws, justified or not, have made passenger diesels in the U.S. illegal.

It's almost like a trap was set for these companies.  The government set impossible emissions standards knowing diesels couldn't meet them, and then they fine the living crap out of these (mostly foreign) companies when they get caught!

I'm reminded of the book by Harvey Silverglate, "Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent." wherein he details how laws have morphed into oppressive micromanagement schemes that entrap all of us with often vague and unknowable parameters.

Car companies certainly knew what they were doing, but chose to cheat anyway because they were painted into a corner.  Businesses spend billions on R&D and cannot easily walk away from technology they spent years developing.  Somehow Europe, which runs largely on diesel power, was OK with the levels of NOX coming from these new "Clean Diesels".  Interestingly, only the U.S., which runs mostly on gas powered passenger vehicles, had a problem.

Bottom line is this:  If a majority of the companies selling diesels took the extraordinary risk of being fined, sued, arrested, and shamed in the public square instead of just walking away from the diesel business altogether, something was probably wrong with the emission standards.  Yes, I'm standing up for the cheaters, because at this point, I have zero faith in the U.S. government's ability to get anything right.