American Elephants

Now they have just gone too far! by The Elephant's Child

Hard times.  People are scared.  The news speaks daily about job losses, bailouts, a bad business climate, banks failing and bankruptcy. ” When it bleeds it leads” is the motto of the media, but it does not help the national mood.

Congress is sensitive to appearances.  When the CEOs of the big three automobile companies came to Washington to beg for money in their corporate jets, there was ample congressional outrage.  In every attempt to draft bills for providing funds for failing businesses Democrat congressmen have been determined to see that executives do not prosper from government funds.  No big salaries, no bonuses, and no executive jets.

Democrats in Congress, who started this mess by refusing to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and demanding that banks loan to ever less qualified clients to put more people in homes that they could not afford, have again proved theie absolute arrogance.

What a great moment for taxpayers to give senators and congressmen a $2.5 million increase in their already bloated salaries. It’s hard to get by on only $217,400 if you’re the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.  Most members of Congress  have to get along on only $169,300.  A $4,700 raise is certainly justified when Congress has performed so nobly on our behalf.  Hmn?

Congressional Democrats have dragged in executives of oil companies, automobile makers and banks and grilled them viciously on TV about their salaries, bonuses, stock options and severance packages.  They pushed the big carmakers into making symbolic gestures like working for $1 a year.  But when it comes to symbolic gestures of their own — tin ears, no empathy, no common sense.

Investors Business Daily has the whole story.  And as they say:  raise some hell!

Glimpses of the Coming Health Plan. by The Elephant's Child
November 20, 2008, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Socialism | Tags: ,

In a survey of U.S. primary care physicians released this week by the Physicians’ Foundation, nearly half the respondents said that they would seriously consider getting out of the medical business within the next three years if they had an alternative.

The survey sought to find the reasons for an identified exodus among family doctors and internists — the backbone of the health industry. In the survey, the foundation sent questionnaires to more  than 270,000 primary care doctors and more than 50,000 specialists nationwide.

49 percent of the 12,000 respondents said they would consider leaving medicine. There is too much red tape from government agencies and insurance companies and they are overwhelmed in their practices they said.  It is not a problem of too many patients.

At the annual meeting of the American Medical Association last week, a U.S. shortage of 35,000 to 45,000 primary care doctors by 2025 was predicted.

Massachusetts’ new universal health care plan has resulted in many doctors moving out of state.  Texas, on the other hand, has had an inflow of doctors because of a reduction in governmental mandates.

A new survey of health care provision for chronically ill patients ranked Canada eighth out of eight nations surveyed.  The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation based in New York, polled patients with chronic conditions in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 60% of patients waited more than 4 weeks for an appointment with a specialist.  58% waited more than 8 weeks.

British patients who need major surgery and can afford it are apparently going to India for their surgery to avoid NHS.  The problems of dirty hospitals, declining service, and failure of the system are subjects of constant reporting in UK papers.

Problems are similar in Canada and France.  I don’t know of any country with socialized medicine that has good results from their program, but I am not familiar with every country.

Ted Kennedy is working hard on a congressional plan for universal health care, and he is lining up powerful interests for support. Backers are sure to use the Senator’s declining health as a sentimental push for his last legislative effort.

Max Baucus is developing a separate plan that would be extraordinarily expensive as it grows the government’s share of health spending though a ballpark estimate is $150 billion a year, but that is probably conservative.  The idea is to fold everyone into a program like Medicare.

These people have been blathering on about 45 million “uninsured” long enough to make people think that there actually are that many people who don’t have insurance and we “must do something”.  The number is phony and a deliberate misrepresentation, in order for Democrats to do what they want.

By 2015 or perhaps sooner, more than 50 % of Americans will not pay any income taxes, and the other 50% will be expected to support not only themselves but the other half of the population as well, and to support the health care expenses of the other half.  We already have the world’s most progressive taxes, but it is not enough.  It is never, never enough.

The first thing that happens when a health care plan is created that we cannot afford is a demand to cut costs. Pay Doctors less, pay nurses less, use cheaper drugs, don’t buy those expensive machines, get along with fewer doctors, fewer nurses, less equipment.  More mandates, more rules.  Don’t do this to free people.

Be very, very careful what you wish for. And be willing to fight to stay free.

Some reminders are in order. by The Elephant's Child

This is an uncomfortable week, waiting, as it were, for the other shoe to drop.  I know how we got here, but I have no insight whatsoever into how we will get out.  It’s above my pay-grade, as someone said recently.  I have read too many columns by too many economists who don’t agree with each other.

The fox is in charge of the henhouse; or rather Barney Frank is in charge of the committee to solve the problem that he was most prominent in creating. Of course he blames it on Phil Gramm. Huh? And of course, President Bush, that’s a given.  Everything is Bush’s fault.

Phil Gramm’s Gramm-Leach-Bliley act which “deregulated” Glass-Stegall is explained well, and briefly by Megan McArdle in the Atlantic.

Obviously, when the mess is so big, everyone is looking for a scapegoat, in the absence of knowing just the right thing to do about it. It is, of course, much more complicated than just helping poor minorities to become homeowners.  That is a worthy aim.

Businesses develop guidelines for success in their operations.  Congressmen have found that they enjoy greater success at the ballot box if they give people stuff.  Hence all sorts of mischief.

Congress has gotten itself into the habit of thinking it can tell business how to conduct its operations.  You have given oil companies a lease on public land in exchange for vast sums, and they haven’t brought in any oil wells yet — just order them to produce oil, now.  Car mileage isn’t high enough (since most customers want higher gas mileage, obviously car companies aren’t paying attention) congress will just order them to increase mpg now.  Few members of congress have ever successfully run a business, yet they assume expertise that they do not possess, issue orders in the form of legislation and create problems.

I’m afraid we need to remind our representatives more often that they are not some sort of elite, but our servants.  They work for us.  And they need to remember that.

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