Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Media Bias, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, Statism, The United States | Tags: No Longer a Free Press, No Longer a Government Watchdog, Shallow Superficial Work
I have not been unduly impressed with our journalists in general for a number of years. I got curious a while back and looked up Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism and Northwestern’s as well, and learned that the coursework offered concerned how to write a lede and writing about foreign policy or fashion, that sort of thing. This was some time ago, so I may have forgotten the particulars, but I had been looking for requirements in history or law, and international relations. In my quick perusal, it seemed to all be about how to write one kind or another of piece.
My investigation was superficial at best, and I sort of assumed that perhaps the study of history and foreign affairs and important things were requirements to get in to journalism school, and left it at that. But I kept noticing that journalists simply parroted what other journalists were saying, and didn’t seem to know what they were talking about. They did seem to be reliably of the leftist persuasion, however. But I already knew that.
Then this week, Governor Brewer of Arizona vetoed a law sent up by the legislature, the origin of which seemed to be a case in another state in which a baker refused to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding because gay marriage was against his religious convictions. That case seemed to be a set-up when the gay couple sued, rather than go to any one of innumerable other bakeries available.
The national press, inspired by what American universities actually do teach — Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies, Imperial, Transnational and Postcolonial Studies, critical theory or creative writing, spoke in one voice. “Arizona Governor Brewer vetoes controversial anti-gay bill,” Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Vetoes Anti-Gay Bill,” and other slight variations. Every radio announcer repeated the same thing.
The words “gay” or “homosexual” do not appear in the bill at all, nor was the bill directed at any criticism of gay people. There was no “anti-gay” in the bill. The bill was a simple effort to protect the Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. Very obviously, the journalistic profession had not read the bill, but were off on a religious jihad. The text of the bill is here.
Governor Brewer vetoed the bill because, as she said, “Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.
Ed Whelan, at National Review wrote:
There has been a blizzard of hysterical misinformation about Arizona’s SB 1062. As anyone who takes the trouble to consult the text of the legislation will readily discover, SB 1062 does not mention, much less single out, gays or same-sex ceremonies.
As Douglas Laycock (who supports redefining marriage to include same-sex couples) and other leading religious-liberty scholars explain in a letter to Arizona governor Jan Brewer, SB 1062 “has been egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics.”
This is an absolutely pure example of media bias, which is real and pervasive. You just have to question what you are reading and hearing if you want to know the truth. Requires a little more work, but you avoid feeling sleazy when you find out that you’ve been had. Studies show that the media is much more liberal than the American people, and more likely to agree with the liberal position on policy matters than members of the general public. The public, according to public opinion polls sees the media as politically biased, inaccurate, intrusive and a tool of powerful interests. Huh. Wonder why.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Election 2008, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism, Statism, The Constitution | Tags: Blaming Bush Forever, Faultless Lawless Obama, Lies and Corruption
What politicians have not learned is that their words and faces will be preserved on YouTube or another of the many, many video sources, and the videos will be dug up, and when you say something really stupid, hoping people will believe it in spite of all evidence to the contrary — there you are, preserved for all time. Bwa-haha-ha-ha-ha.
Or Neener, Neener, Neener, whichever you prefer.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Progressivism, Regulation, Statism, Taxes | Tags: Absence of Thought, Misunderstanding Incentives, No Careful Research
• The members of the gang who constructed ObamaCare in the back rooms of Congress, do-gooders all, were anxious to see that ObamaCare made the people healthier. Problem — obesity. Lots of people were too fat. (Nevermind that overweight people are apt to live longer) The obvious solution was to tell the people how many calories the food they were eating contained. (Nevermind that there is no evidence that calorie labeling is effective in combating obesity. Multiple studies have shown that this simply is not the case. A study in Philadelphia showed that the regulation had no effect whatsoever on fast food consumption, and most people didn’t even notice the labels in McDonald’s.)
Common sense would indicate that pizzas, burritos and sandwiches are apt to have choices of many ingredients, each one of which requires a calorie count, that can be ordered in many combinations (hold the olives).
Although the law is designed to target corporate fast-food giants, in practice it will largely affect individual franchises that effectively operate as independent small businesses. For example, over 80 percent of McDonald’s locations are owned and operated by franchisees. Each of these franchisees will now be tasked with complying with the mandate–paying for new signage, removing profit-generating advertisements to make room for the calorie data, updating menus every time recipes change, and accommodating inspectors. Furthermore, it’s unclear what penalties restaurateurs will face if they inadvertently fail to comply.
The regulation is doomed to fail, because the do-gooders inability to keep its hands off our lunches outran thought and careful analysis.
• Consider the absurdity of developing a new government-run health care plan because health care costs too much — and coming up with a plan that actually raises the cost of health care and the cost of insurance policies — that increases the cost of each item used by the medical profession with a tax levied on “medical devices” — and then expects future costs to go down because of the medical innovation that is discouraged by a tax that forces many innovators out of business.
• Consider the absurdity of developing a new government-run health care plan because there are so many people who don’t have health insurance. We were told that 46 million Americans were in desperate need of health insurance. This was the reason for the Federal Government to take over 1/6th of the U.S. economy. After five months of ObamaCare a questionable 3 million people have enrolled, but not necessarily paid.
About 39 percent of the uninsured are in five states —Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. About 21 percent of the uninsured are not citizens. Up to 14 million are eligible for existing programs — Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, veterans benefits — but have not enrolled. 9.1 million have household incomes of at least $75,000 and could purchase insurance but don’t want to. Increasing numbers are signing up for concierge medicine outside the system.
• In the State of the Union address, President Obama received a standing ovation when he said “Because of this law, no American can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, back pain, or cancer.” This was not true in January, and it has not been true since Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996. That law required all individual insurance plans to have guaranteed renewability. It also prohibited all group health-insurance plans sold to businesses from denying coverage to individuals because of preexisting conditions. Medicare covered anyone age 65 or older regardless of preexisting conditions, ditto Medicaid. That wasn’t an intrinsic absurdity — just a plain lie.
• They were sure that computerizing all medical records into a national high tech database would save the U.S. more than $81 billion annually. That turned out to be a flawed study. Evidence on efficiency and safety are mixed, errors widespread, and most medical centers developed their own systems at great expense, but they don’t necessarily talk to each other, let alone talk to the federal government, nor is it clear that to be desirable. The problem seems to be that the systems were developed by High tech engineers instead of developed by clinicians to develop what would work for them. In some cases the doctors are followed around by ‘scribes’ who record data so the doctor doesn’t have to. How many typos do you do each day?
Are you mad yet?
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Statism | Tags: Incentives Matter, The Affordable Care Act, The Congressional Budget Office
The Congressional Budget Office says that ObamaCare will increase unemployment. There are 7.8 million Americans working part-time who want full-time work. Mr. Obama changed the subject to raising the minimum wage.
On Tuesday no less than the Congressional Budget Office reported that the health law is causing Americans to work less or not at all, in a remarkable intellectual turnabout for the budget shop that Democrats cited repeatedly when selling ObamaCare. Now CBO—full of liberal-leaning economists—says the economy will lose the equivalent of two million full-time workers by 2017 and 2.5 million over the next decade, a threefold increase over its prior estimate.
ObamaCare’s complex design includes new subsidies, new taxes and new mandates. For low wage, lower-skilled or discouraged workers ObamaCare offers incentives that can force them to trade jobs for entitlement benefits. The CBO concludes that ObamaCare will encourage people to supply less labor by working fewer hours to qualify for more benefits. The incentives suggest watching carefully the overtime, a promotion or training in hopes of higher future earnings — it might boost you into another category with less or no subsidy. The question becomes how many people can the nation support on entitlements? I thought the numbers were already too high.
The CBO’s job-loss prediction doe not include the impact of ObamaCare’s employer mandate, which requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer insurance or pay a $2,000 penalty for each worker beyond 30 employees. The mandate has been delayed by executive order for a year. so it won’t take effect till 2015, which probably means the CBO is vastly underestimating job losses.
The White House, of course, denies everything. “Claims that the Affordable Care Act hurts jobs are simply belied by the facts in the CBO report,” the White House, in the person of Jay Carney, declared. The White House seems to mean that the report is positive because”individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods” and “have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.” Didn’t Nancy Pelosi suggest that they would have more time to do art or crafts or maybe music?
Incentives matter. People respond to incentives. And there’s nothing in the act that encourages businesses to hire more workers and be more competitive. Like “if you like your doctor,” it may include “If you like your job…” The law is a job destroyer that is taking away rungs from the ladder of upward economic mobility.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Freedom, Humor, Politics, Pop Culture, Progressivism, Statism, Terrorism | Tags: Government Series II Les Paul, Mockery Is The Best Weapon, The Gibson Guitar Raid
The Gibson guitar company in Nashville Tennessee was raided by the Feds in February 2012, with a SWAT-team who shut the whole company down, allegedly for possessing illegally imported wood. I wrote about it at the time because it was so absurd. A federal agency flexing its muscles — because they could. The agency experienced no restraint from the executive, who made it clear that war on the right was the mode of the day.
They confiscated stocks of tonewoods from the factory on dubious grounds, and Gibson eventually settled for a $300,000 fine, a “community service” payment of $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (?), not to mention lost business from being shut down, and legal fees. Do read the article on the settlement to see just how absurd the federal actions were. Gangster government indeed.
This is another reason why the economy has not recovered. Business does not know what the federal government might do next. What new regulations? Every agency seems to have their own SWAT team. Who is next, and on what grounds? Uncertainty.
The Feds have returned their wood, the case is resolved, and Gibson is celebrating the end of the investigation with the introduction of a striking new guitar: The Government Series II Les Paul.
From its solid mahogany body with modern weight relief for enhance resonance and playing comfort, to its carved maple top, the Government Series II Les Paul follows the tradition of the great Les Paul Standards—but also makes a superb statement with its unique appointments. A distinctive vintage-gloss Government Tan finish, complemented by black-chrome hardware and black plastics and trim, is topped by a pickguard that’s hot-stamped in gold with the Government Series graphic—a bald eagle hoisting a Gibson guitar neck. Each Government Series II Les Paul also includes a genuine piece of Gibson USA history in its solid rosewood fingerboard, which is made from wood returned to Gibson by the US government after the resolution.
I love the “distinctive vintage-gloss Government Tan finish.” A nice drab bureaucratic style. (click to enlarge)
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, History, Liberalism, Politics, Statism | Tags: 50 Years of Failure, Lyndon Baines Johnson, The War on Poverty
There has been much talk this week of Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” It has been 50 years, a half-century, since the federal government declared “an unconditional war” on poverty. Another lost war. The original goal as LBJ stated it was “to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities.” And there’s the rub.
Fifty years later, fifteen percent of Americans still live in poverty, according to the official 2012 census report. Liberals argue that we aren’t spending enough money fighting poverty. Yet the federal government runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care and targeted social services to poor and low-income Americans. The federal government spent $916 billion on these programs in 2012, and about 100 million Americans received aid from at least one of them, at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient. That figure does not include Social Security or Medicare benefits. Welfare spending by the federal government and the states, adjusted for inflation, is 16 times greater than it was in 1964.Converted to cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all “official” poverty in the United States.
Poverty today bears little resemblance to poverty 50 years ago. The typical American living below the poverty level in 2013 lives in a house or apartment in good repair, equipped with air conditioning and cable TV. The home is larger than the home of the average non-poor Frenchman, German or Englishman. He has a car, more than one color TV and a DVD player. More than half have computers and a third have wide flat-screen TVs. They are not undernourished and did not suffer from hunger even once the previous year.
LBJ intended to give the poor opportunity, and shrink welfare dependence, not expand it. By that standard the “war” has been a colossal failure. The root-causes have expanded and labor-force participation among men has dropped. A large percentage are less capable of escaping poverty than when the war began. Children raised in single-parent homes are more likely to face social and behavioral problems, and three times more likely to end up in jail, and 50% more likely to be poor as adults.
The incentives in welfare discourage marriage, current programs cut benefits sharply if a mother marries a working father. A single parent going to work may lose all benefits even though their pay is less than the benefits were. All programs should encourage marriage and families. Kids need parents and a father in the home. The government should require able-bodied, working-age adults to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving benefits.
America needs to have a safety net, but able-bodied adults should work. Dependence is not healthy, and Liberals often want to give people benefits in the assumption that they are doing good. Politicians believe that generous benefits create grateful voters for their political party. But that is putting politics before the health of the nation. Surely that wouldn’t be the aim.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Liberalism, Regulation, Statism | Tags: A Growth Economy, Building The Welfare State, The Liberal Project
The liberal response to the question of paying for the welfare state has been a protracted exercise in intellectual dishonesty, borne of a conviction that the question doesn’t need to be answered if it can be made to go away. Liberals have generally been happy to tell people what they want to hear. It’s possible to have a big welfare state without worrying all that much about the costs. The programs will pay for themselves. Or an affluent society can pay for them out of the petty cash drawer. Or, the taxes required for a much bigger welfare state are ones that will be borne largely by the very rich and big corporations. None of these propositions can withstand even gentle interrogation, however, making it difficult to know whether the liberals who put them forward are remarkably cynical or remarkably feckless. In either case, whatever political advantages are secured by telling people what they want to hear about paying for the welfare state, the already murky argument for the welfare state becomes even more incoherent.
From Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State by William Voegeli
I loved this book.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Media Bias, Energy, Democrat Corruption, Capitalism, Statism, Regulation | Tags: Excessive Regulation, Higher Electricity Costs, Everything Costs More
America is is the midst of an energy boom. Fracking technology has released abundant oil and gas stored in shale deposits. The amazing paradox of the domestic fossil-fuels boom has been overwhelming destructive federal government policy. The U.S.Oil boom driven by private investment and ingenuity has transformed North American oil markets. The International Energy Agency estimates that America will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producers by 2015.
Oddly, in the midst of an energy boom, U.S. electricity prices have skyrocketed to new highs. This paradox is not a result of the free market, but of runaway “green” regulation by the government. In November, the BLS Electricity Price Index hit 202.284, an all-time record high nearly 20% higher than just six years ago. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2008 the U.S. produced 2.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Today, it’s 12.3 billion cubic feet and growing fast. But as energy booms, electricity prices are going up as well.
What is at work here is the green movement’s moral beliefs about what kinds of energy are “good.” Wind and solar power, which are “morally pure” cannot exist without generous governmental (taxpayer) subsidy. Wind and sunshine are of course free, but as producers of electricity, very expensive. The wind is intermittent and must be backed up 24/7 by conventional power, and the wind may not blow for days at a time. The sun goes down at night, and only shines in the day when the clouds don’t cover it. Trust me, I live in the Seattle area. We call the occasional appearances of the sun “sun-breaks.”
Electricity is now one of the most regulated goods in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency has sweeping powers to regulate CO2 — a power not found anywhere in the Constitution, electricity has become even more expensive, and will get more so. The EPA’s new rules, put in place to pander to the environmental movement will remove 34,705 megawatts of coal-based energy capacity off the market. This will increase electricity prices and the cost of everything where electricity is used.
This is a de facto ban on all new coal-fired power plants in spite of the fact that coal produces a third of all electricity in the country due to its cheap coast and plentiful supply. Despite the fact that CO2 levels are falling in the U.S., not rising, and despite the fact that the earth is cooling, not warming, as it has been for the last 17 years.
The demonization of coal and other fossil fuels means that utilities must shut coal-fired plants, and replace them with more costly energy sources like wind and solar. This is an enormous hidden energy tax, levied on every individual and every business — killing jobs and adding to the unemployment rolls.
Chicago political rules mean you must reward your financial supporters. The environmental movement is flush with money, wind and solar are awash with crony capitalism, and besides, the cost of higher electric bills will be borne by taxpayers.
Of course higher electricity bills on top of higher grocery bills, higher cost health insurance and higher cost of medical care may seem unreasonable. When confronted with a problem, Democrats first reaction is to make a law, to regulate. But that’s where the whole problem came from in the first place — excessive regulation.
Ironically, the very success of economic and political freedom reduced its appeal to later thinkers. The narrowly limited government of the late nineteenth century possessed little concentrated power that endangered the ordinary man. The other side of the coin was that it possessed little power that would enable good people to do good. And in an imperfect world there were still many evils. Indeed, the very progress of society made the residual evils seem all the more objectionable. As always people took the favorable developments for granted. They forgot the danger to freedom from a strong government. Instead, they were attracted by the good that a stronger government could achieve — if only government power were in the “right” hands.
…………………Milton and Rose Friedman: Free to Choose
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism, Statism | Tags: "Doc Shock", Administration Incompetence, It is Known as ObamaCare
The White House knew all along that the “you can keep your policy if you like it” was pure hogwash. But perhaps the worst slip-up was the president’s admission that— gee, he didn’t know. He wasn’t informed that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to. Is this simply the usual “don’t blame me” evasion, or to what extent was he simply uninformed — and uninformed is not an acceptable excuse.
Reporters have been caught with their journalism degrees tucked safely away in some drawer, and they are beginning to realize that they didn’t ‘read the bill to find out what is in it’ either. Nancy Pelosi said no one ever told her that they liked their health care policy. Funny, it has never come up in my conversations with friends either.
Some few reporters are beginning to realize that they have been had, along with the rest of us. Some are free-lancers and are learning about ObamaCare first hand. So there are new revelations daily. We have learned that Obama seldom attends his intelligence briefings. We have learned that the White House staff is also inept. Their job is to keep the president informed about everything. The Chief of Staff is supposed to keep things faultlessly organized. Any president needs a team of competent people to can keep him and his projects humming along faultlessly. Not only are there serious questions about that signature initiative, but there are serious questions about the competence of the White House.
The White House is spinning like mad, attempting to find better vocabulary, to sell the unsaleable. ObamaCare will no longer be called “Obamacare” but referred to only as the Affordable Care Act. Dennis Miller tweeted that’ he would call it the Affordable Care Act when Obama changed his name to Barack Affordable.’ Most people will call it Affordable when it becomes affordable.
Democrats point to examples of people who have gotten cheaper premiums through the ACA. But lower premiums are the result of restricting provider networks. Pundits are calling it “Doc Shock.” We are already hearing stories of patients who are surviving their cancer because of specific treatment from specific doctors — and under ObamaCare are losing those doctors. Here in the Northwest:
In one closely watched case, Seattle Children’s Hospital has filed suit against Washington’s insurance commissioner after a number of insurers kept it out of their provider networks. “It is unprecedented in our market to have major insurance plans exclude Seattle Children’s,” said Sandy Melzer, senior vice president.
A number of the nation’s top hospitals — including the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, and children’s hospitals in Seattle, Houston and St. Louis — are cut out of most plans sold on the exchange.
Those who are defined as “poor” are being funneled into Medicaid, but most doctors will not accept Medicaid patients. Newly minted doctors avoid general practice, and train for a specialty. The problem is that Democrats view doctors as part of “the rich,” and Obama’s all-encompassing share the wealth ideology believes that :
Fat cats” and “corporate jet owners” have preyed on the body politic. Profit-driven doctors have unnecessarily lopped off limbs and yanked out tonsils. In a more philosophical vein, Obama advised that an individual should recognize a point beyond which he need not make any more money. The subtext is always that in this zero-sum world, personal success comes not through the individual’s efforts, but at the expense of someone else.
The multimillionaires in Congress and in the administration are, of course, different. They are doing “public service” and helping to transform America. They get raises. Patients on Medicaid will have trouble finding a doctor, will have long waits to see one, and will soon be assigned to nurse practitioners rather than physicians. Ignorance of basic economics keeps them from understanding that increased regulation means hiring more people to keep up with the paperwork requirements.
The Affordable Care Act was not intended just to extend health insurance to the uninsured or to decrease premium costs. Indeed, so far Obamacare has had the opposite effect of raising costs and increasing the numbers of the uninsured. Aside from growing government, increasing federal jobs, and limiting free choice, Obamacare federalized healthcare to ensure Americans fairness, defined as the economic equality of result as technocrats decide who had wrongly acquired too much healthcare, who unfairly had access to too little, and so on.
Victor Davis Hanson, as usual, is spot on in his essay about “The Politicization of Everything.“ Do read the whole thing.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Election 2012, Election 2014, Progressivism, Statism | Tags: 'Till After the Election, Chicago Politics, Hiding the Truth
With all the revelations about ObamaCare, the terrifying escalation of costs for an individual health care policy and the accompanying drastically larger deductibles, Democrats are plainly worried about the 2014 midterms. So the Obama administration is back to its old tried and true tricks.
Health and Human Services plans to delay the start of the second year of Obamacare enrollment by one month to allow insurers more time to set rates after assessing their plan experiences during 2014, a department official said Thursday night.
The decision means that sign-ups for the 2015 plan year would begin on Nov. 15, 2014 and end on Jan. 15, 2015 instead of the Oct. 15-Dec. 7 window previously announced. The date change, first reported by Bloomberg, also lengthens the enrollment period by a week. Doing so would give companies more opportunity to account for individuals, particularly young adults, who come in late during the plan’s first year, which has gotten off to a rocky start. The goal is premiums that more accurately reflect costs for those insured.
The new calendar would move the start of the 2015 open enrollment season to shortly after the November midterm elections.
This is nonsense. Insurers calculate the changes from the previous year every year in setting new rates. They haven’t forgotten how to do it just because of Kathleen Sebelius. So far the federal government has been unable to convince healthy young consumers to buy comprehensive health insurance they don’t need, to pay for everyone else. This will force premium increases on everyone else to pay for the lack of the young. Letting people know how much the ObamaCare policies they are being forced to buy are going to cost them just before an election is, um, unfortunate timing. Which of the Chicago bunch was it who said “elections are too important to be left to chance?”
Employer-provided group health insurance is where costs will either skyrocket, or consumers will be kicked out of their group coverage altogether. There’s going to be a lot of outrage when it hits home for company employees.
I used to consider government departments as often inept as all bureaucracies are, but not as agencies involved in attempting to change election outcomes by manipulating data and calendars and changing regulations. Americans traditionally and rightly don’t place a lot of trust in their government. They really do work for us — and you have to keep an eye on your employees.
This president, however, has gone to extraordinary lengths to politicize government departments to achieve his political aims. What the long-term damage to the country will be, we will learn in coming years. That there will be long-term damage is assured.