Monday, September 30, 2013

Healthcare Palestinians II

Republicans are split.  Some think Obamacare is a disaster.  Others think Obamacare is a disaster.  Oh wait...  

Of course the split is about what to do.  Some say if Obamacare is a disaster the responsible thing to do is to stop it, or at least go down trying.  Others say, no, no, no, the right thing to do is let it go through, make everyone miserable, kill innovation in the fast moving health sector, make the country even more dependent on Fed money printing, put more people on welfare and subsidies, politicize and socialize 16% of the US economy, install the IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board - aka the "Death Panel"), drag down personal wealth, kill jobs, stall the economy, and don't worry the public will blame it all on Democrats!  In other words, one group is acting out of principle and the other out of crass political gamesmanship.  

But there is a problem with the crass political gamesmanship approach.  It will not work.  There are numerous prominent examples of how these political bank-shots backfire.  I call this the "Healthcare Palestinian" approach.  To wit:

Israel's neighbors have long believed that the best way to destroy Israel is to maintain an army of angry Palestinian refugees on their borders.  Keep them poor, keep them in refugee camps, keep them oppressed, and don’t ever let them assimilate into the vast Arab lands surrounding Israel.  To a frightening extent this diabolical and inhumane scheme has worked to create maximum misery but little else.  The Palestinians in refugee camps are mainly the ones who go around blowing themselves up, not the ones who have assimilated into Israel and the Arab countries.  Everyone knows about the wall keeping hostile Palestinians from flooding into Israel.  Very few are aware that there are similar impediments keeping Palestinians out of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.  Do those countries ever get blamed for forcing Palestinians into refugee camps?  This has been the Democrat strategy when it comes to healthcare.  

The last thing Democrats ever wanted was a true functioning individual market for health insurance.  Instead Democrats have forced most Americans, 95% currently, into rigid, non-portable, bureaucratic insurance plans provided by either the government or their bosses.   The move to a true individual market would have always been an easy one (see "The Healthcare Gecko").  But that's not what Democrats wanted lest they lose control.  We have all been made into healthcare refugees.  Who get's blamed for this?  Greedy insurance companies, employers, and Republicans.  Republicans are standing in the way of your God-given right to free healthcare!  Democrats get zero blame and will continue to get zero blame when Obamacare is found to be the disaster everyone knows a 2700 page unread law will be. 

The same exact thing happened with the financial collapse of 2008.  Ask ten people today what caused the financial collapse and nine will say greedy banks, deregulation, Bush's tax cuts, capitalism; in other words Republicans.  Only one in ten may get it right; the financial collapse was caused by Democrats who pursued redistribution-of-wealth policies in the housing sector.  Home ownership became a God-given right, just as healtcare has become now.  Subprime mortgages, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, no-doc loans, liar loans, zero down payments, easy money, low interest rates, mortgage interest deductions; these are all unanimous Democrat policies.  These are the policies which crashed the financial system.  These are the policies championed by Barack Obama as a community organizer, state senator, US senator, candidate for President and POTUS.  Did he ever get blamed for any of this?  No, nor will he ever.  Will he be blamed when Obamacare collapses?  No, nor will his party.  Democrats are just trying to give you free healthcare after all, which is your right!  

Republicans with the exception of the new breed - Cruz, Lee, Paul, Rubio et al, don't even understand why it is impossible to make a good or service provided by others into a right.  It cannot be done without enslaving the providers of that good or service.  So yeah, let it go into full effect, let it be a disaster, and let the blame all accrue to... Republicans.  Seems like a winning approach to me if you're a Democrat.        

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ted Cruz is Awesome! II

Senator Ted Cruz is exceptional.  If you watched C-SPAN2 instead of any of the news nets, you would have seen a man in charge of the facts, speaking passionately and articulately for 21 hours about a law shoved down the public's throat on a party-line vote, which federalizes 16% of the US economy and promises to give us a healthcare system with all the excellence of the United States Postal Service.   As Senator Mike Lee eloquently put it: "We have exited the territorial confines of constitutional governance."

No one watching that marathon could mistake Cruz's motives.  He was not doing that so he could someday flit around in Air force One and make speeches at fundraisers.  His motivation was two-fold:  bring maximum attention to a dire issue, and further his aspirations to someday restore individual liberty from the Bully Pulpit.   Based on his turn at the Filibuster Pulpit, I say bully for you Mr. Cruz!  
(Below is my original piece about Ted Cruz from 3/15.  As you can see little has changed in the reactions of the dinosaurs - from both parties!) 

Ted Cruz is Awesome!   

Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX) has a point.  In the latest freak-out over Cruz’s venturing off the freshman plantation, members of the old guard are wetting their Depends because Cruz had the audacity to pose a really good question to Diane Feinstein (D, CA)  about guns and the second amendment.  If you haven’t seen the exchange, here is the question Cruz asked Feinstein: 
“The question that I would pose to the senior Senator from California is: Would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment? Namely, would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?
“Likewise, would she think that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against searches and seizures could properly apply only to the following specified individuals and not to the individuals that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?”
After the question, the entire Democrat contingency went apoplectic, talking out of turn to lecture Cruz about how the first and fourth amendments have limitations and are not absolute.  The reason Cruz has a point is that in all limitations on the first and fourth amendments, those limitations exist because the rights of others have already been infringed!  

Take the old example of unnecessarily yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.  That speech is outside the first amendment because it denies other theatergoers their right to not be trampled in a stampede.  Similarly, the child pornography limitation on free speech exists because children are harmed, rights denied, by the very existence of child pornography.

Similarly, an indiscriminate roadblock, which stops all motorists in an attempt to catch a dangerous criminal, is an exception to the fourth amendment protection on unreasonable search and seizure because it has been deemed reasonable in order to catch a criminal who already has denied someone their rights.

Gun ownership is a different case.  Gun ownership by itself, even if it involves a dangerous assault weapon, denies no one else’s rights.  There is the potential that any gun can be used criminally or negligently, but until that happens, can congress legally deny the people’s constitutional right to keep it and bear it?  This seems like a reasonable enough question, which is why it elicited such a petulant response from princess DiFi and her minions.

Interestingly, if the framers didn’t want the second amendment to be an absolute right, they could have simply used the same word they used in the fourth amendment, unreasonable.  It's not like they didn't know the word existed.  The second amendment would then have read: “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be unreasonably infringed.”  It doesn’t, and we should not pretend it does.

The more I hear from Ted Cruz the more I respect him.  Please keep it up Ted.  

PS  All this talk of "DC v Heller", which Cruz's critics have cited is completely besides the point.  The question was to DiFi about her views on the constitution, not her opinion of the SCOTUS and the Heller decision.  Her response, Leahy's response, and all the Democrats responses were disrespectful and shameful.   

Here's the whole shebang in case you missed it: 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hey, It’s A Free Country!

“Hey, it’s a free country!”  Remember that expression growing up?  Do people still say that today?  I can’t imagine why. 

“Free country” never meant you could do whatever you wanted without consequence.  It never meant everything could be yours for free.  It meant free from tyranny.  It meant free from arbitrary and capricious rule.  It meant free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  It meant free to speak your mind, free to trade, and free to associate.  It meant free to do pretty much whatever you wanted, provided you hurt no one else or interfered with their freedoms. 

In short, free country meant that government’s very limited role was to ensure your individual freedom, nothing more and nothing less.  Since 1865 and the thirteenth amendment, that was something we could all be proud of.  It made us unique.  It made us exceptional.  It made us Americans.  It made us great.

But there’s another common expression – “It’s a small world”.  Our free country was always under assault because the idea of a limited government ensuring individual freedom was unique in our small world.  Most governments were designed around collective or autocratic control, not individual freedom.  Eventually those ideas arrived on our shores and began to transform our free country into a “controlled country”. 

I would argue the process is nearly complete.  Consider the following:

Look at the above list:  Housing, Healthcare, Education, Finance.  All crisis areas since our slip from free country status to controlled country status.

But controlling money and finance is only part of the story.  Many areas of control are harder to measure.  How do we quantify an IRS that controls political speech through intimidation?  How do we quantify a President who does the same by intimidating radio hosts and TV networks?  How do we quantify a President who controls the implementation of laws at will?  How do we quantify a Supreme Court that similarly controls the rewriting of laws?  How do we quantify a federal government that almost entirely controls the states, eclipsing all pretence of states rights? 

The truth is, the opposite of a free country is not just a controlled country, it is an un-free country.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Healthcare Gecko III

A misleading piece made a splash today about how Warren Buffet wanted to scrap Obamacare and start over.  Unfortunately, it was old news based on comments he had made in 2010.  In honor of Warren Buffet's call to scrap Obamacare, old news though it is, and in light of the constant refrain from the Left that there are no proposals on the Right to replace it, I offer this practical, logical, cost-free, elegant, and effective solution.  Unfortunately, like so much of what we bloggers do, it is but a fart in a hurricane:

The Healthcare Gecko      (originally posted 11/19/09 - perhaps Mr Buffet read it?)

Here’s a question for you: Why is there no healthcare Gecko? (Of course, Warren Buffet owns GEICO...) Wouldn’t it be great if 15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on health insurance? For that matter, where is the Progressive girl with the red lipstick selling health policies? Is it possible that this is the real problem?  Is it possible that the reason this is a crisis is that there is no such thing as a true individual market for healthcare? The fact is, only about 5 percent of the insured buy their own health insurance. The other roughly 95 percent get their insurance from the government or their employer. For car insurance the numbers are reversed, and there is no similar crisis in that market!  

First, how is it that we ended up almost entirely removed from our healthcare purchases? The original sin dates back to FDR and WWII when wages were frozen and companies found a loophole by deducting benefits. Like many loopholes, this one grew into the monster it is today, and along the way it carved in stone the expectation that healthcare is someone else’s responsibility. That expectation has led us down a path towards distorted markets, rigid employer-paid insurance, ever increasing government involvement, and skyrocketing costs. Meanwhile, the car insurance market keeps innovating and improving.

Comparisons of car insurance and health insurance are not always appropriate.  President Obama is fond of comparing mandatory car insurance with a mandate for health insurance. I suspect Mr. Obama knows the difference between mandated liability coverage, and a mandate to cover one’s self. These are not comparable. I’m not aware of any state that mandates insuring your car.  State mandates only apply to the liabilities you may incur while harming others.   There are no such liabilities involved in health insurance. 

Some may say healthcare is way more expensive and complicated than car insurance and hence individuals can’t be expected to understand it or afford it. Did you ever try to read your auto policy cover to cover? And while car insurance itself is much cheaper than medical coverage, did you know that individual Americans spend on average four times more on transportation than they do on healthcare? Is your car really four times more important than your health?

Some may say that owning a car is a choice but healthcare is a right. Well if that’s the case, we should amend the constitution because that right is not currently there. Incidentally, It would be the first time since slavery that one person would have the explicit right to compel another to work for his benefit! 

Short of turning doctors into slaves, here’s a way out of this mess led by the healthcare Gecko:  

Step one: Eliminate the tax deduction for all employer paid health insurance.   

Step two: Offset the tax consequences with a reduction in payroll taxes for both the employer and employee. 

That’s all it would take to establish an individual market and begin the healing process.

Here’s how these two simple steps would restore an individual market:   Employers, losing the deductibility of health insurance would be compelled to transfer the policies to their employees, and gross-up their wages accordingly. The result would be marginally higher taxes for both the employer and employee which would then be offset by a commensurate drop in payroll taxes on both sides.  The aggregate change would be completely neutral.

TV commercials would begin running instantly showing piles of cash with googly eyes, cavemen, talking lizards, and girls with red lipstick. Employees would be able to control their own healthcare decisions and take full advantage of their positive lifestyle choices.  Those currently without employer coverage would suddenly have a multitude of offers thrust at them from companies clamoring for their business. They’d also have money available to buy insurance due to lower payroll taxes. 

To be sure, there are issues other than cost that an individual market cannot address.  Suffice it to say that once voters are made the masters of their own healthcare destiny, other issues like long-term pre-existing conditions,  tort reform, and portability will get addressed through subsidies and legislation, or politicians will pay at the polls. Currently, politicians are insulated from these issues;  voters blame their employer or the insurance company they are stuck with, and this suits the politicians just fine.   (I call this the "Healthcare Palestinian Tactic", after the arab countries tactic of keeping palestinians in refugee camps to keep them radicalized, rather than allowing them to assimilate into arab countries.)   

Of course, we would still have a subsidized public option called Medicaid for those unable or unwilling to participate in the individual market. But, as competition lowers costs and increases choice, we would likely end up with a much smaller, effective, and sustainable Medicaid. Wasn’t that one of the original reasons we were told this was a crisis?

Recall how we got here: It was a mistake, a loophole, an unintended consequence of a WWII wage freeze. Knowing that, wouldn’t undoing that mistake be the best place to start?  The polls show that the people instinctively know this. Unfortunately, politicians have a long history of being able to convince enough people that they can get something for free, and because of that, Obamacare is a fait accompli.  (Remember, this was written before Obamacare became law.)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Best Photoshop Ever!

This is just too perfect not to share!  I have no idea who did this, but it made the rounds on Twitter today.  (I even lifted the title from Twitter)

(Update:  I believe this is the guy who did this:  job well done!)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

About Those International Norms...

Barack Obama says military intervention is justified in Syria in order to enforce “international norms”.  He then argues it is in the US’ direct interest to enforce these norms in order to send the right message to other bad guys.  Finally he says the US’ credibility is on the line because it is important that we “mean what we say”.  I agree with all of these arguments, however Barack Obama does not. 

For the moment let's pretend that all the hypocritical things Barack Obama said before he became President were the innocent musings of an amateur.  Things like:  he would never go to war unless the US was attacked or one was imminent, he would never go to war without the world by our side, he would negotiate with any dictator before starting a war, he would never go to war without congress, Iraq was a "war of choice" and he would never take military action by choice, etc., etc., etc.  Let's separate all that from the context of Syrian intervention and just look at the pure merits of the current arguments.  They still make no sense coming from this commander in chief. 

All we need to do is look back less than a year.  Recall, the Libya operation was based on similar arguments about "international norms" and "meaning what we say":  here was another bad dictator, another case to prevent horrific casualties, another promise it would be a “matter of days”, another “responsibility to protect”.  So off we went, without congress of course, to maintain a UN no-fly zone over Libya.  (Only that was a ruse.  In reality, it was regime change, and that’s what we eventually got after 8 months.)  If that’s where it ended, we could say “mission accomplished”, albeit late and under false pretense.  But that’s not where it ended. 

Any positive message which might have come from following through on our promise to enforce international norms in Libya, and showing that we mean what we say, was squandered in whole on September 11th 2012 in Benghazi.

Is not the murder of an Ambassador against international norms?  Didn’t Obama say he’d “find those responsible and hold them accountable”?  Isn’t it vital to hold them accountable to send a message to others who would do us harm?  Isn’t it important to mean what we say?  We have the murderers on video for God's sake, yet there has been no attempt to bring them to justice!       

It's not like they are hard to find.  CNN had no trouble locating the leader of the attack and interviewed him for hours in a cafĂ© in Benghazi!!!  What message did Obama send by failing to respond to Benghazi, other than jailing a Christian videomaker, critical of Islam, who had nothing to do with the attack?  What message did this send to Assad, Iran, and the other bad guys? 

Barack Obama’s arguments make no sense in the context of his actions in just the last year.  Forget his mind-blowing hypocrisy before that.  It would be a travesty of historical proportions to grant this commander in chief authority to shoot missiles into Syria.  The only thing he is qualified to shoot... is hoops.