American Elephants

Oh My, We Need Some Remedial Economics 101 Here. by The Elephant's Child

I was still giggling over Nancy Pelosi’s comment on Progressive Health Care: “We will have a cap on costs,  and we will have no cap on benefits, ” when I learned that in Michigan, suffering from some of the highest unemployment  in the country, State Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer wants to test support for potential ballot initiatives that will:

“give voters the chance to circumvent recalcitrant politicians in Lansing, he said, demonstrating that Democrats are “on the side of the people.”

The brilliant ideas they are proposing consider:

  • Hiking the minimum wage to $10 an hour for all workers.
  • Cutting utility rates 20% across the board.
  • Imposing a blanket moratorium on home foreclosures for 12 months.
  • Requiring all employers to provide health care to their employees.
  • Hiking, by $100 a week, and extending, for 6 months, unemployment benefits.

Raising the minimum wage will increase the unemployment rate.  Cutting utility rates will cripple Michigan power companies.  Mandating health insurance should shut down any small businesses who were considering staying in Michigan, and no small employer would consider relocating to Michigan. Remaining would be the Democrats and the unemployed, but who would pay for their additional unemployment benefits remains a mystery.

Then Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm has mandated that 20 percent of the state’s power come from renewable resources — and now she wants utilities to cut consumer rates by 20 percent. Yes, she wants utilities to provide more costly power, and cap the prices that customers pay for it.

Last year, Barack Obama named Ms. Granholm to his 17-member economic advisory board.  According to Edward John Craig, she seems to still be active in that role.  At least the climate bill, the budget, the stimulus and the health care reform agenda would seem to indicate that she is.

I knew that Democrats don’t much like the free market, nor do they understand it.  They are deeply suspicious of the profit motive, and antagonistic to business.

That is why we have a stimulus bill that is going to wait a year or two to attempt to stimulate.  That is why, in spite of warnings that fiscal stimulus seldom works, they were sure that more money would make it work.  That is why they are quite sure that dumping large amounts of federal funds into wind turbines and solar panels to produce “clean” electricity will somehow reduce our dependence on foreign oil; and by making the cost of energy far more expensive will somehow create more jobs.  And as Nancy Pelosi claims, by capping costs and making all health care benefits available to millions more people, we will save money.

It seems that we have all stumbled down the rabbit hole, and are lost in a make-believe world.

Stop Spending! Just Stop! It’s Not Working and It’s Not Helping. by The Elephant's Child

President “Transparency Is the Touchstone of my Administration” Obama has noticed that while the official calendar calls for a revised budget estimate to be issued in July, um, we’ll just put it off till at least mid-August.  President Obama wants major health care reform and, if possible, a global warming bill from Congress before they recess in August.  And we don’t want any inconvenient budget overruns mentioned just now.

As details of the cost of these policies begins to emerge (reading thousand-page bills takes time) Americans are beginning to get glimpses of the trillions of dollars in spending that will do nothing whatsoever to improve health care or lessen the amount of CO2 in the air.

This year alone, the deficit will be upwards of $1.8 trillion, and earlier deficit estimates total up the red ink through 2019 at $9.3 trillion.

Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) says that what began as a “modest” $700 billion program to buy up bad mortgages has morphed into 12 programs with $3 trillion in government commitments.

According to Barofsky’s testimony, total efforts to “stabilize and support the financial system” since 2007 could eventually “reach up to $23.7 trillion.”

The total take by government at all levels will be well over 50 percent of GDP, or the destruction of the American economy.  Investors Business Daily puts it well:

Good governance begins with honesty. Unfortunately, the Democrats’ plans to expand the scope and reach of government to nearly every part of Americans’ lives have been marked by fiscal deception and budget chicanery. The American people deserve better.

It has been exactly six months since Barack Obama was inaugurated.  Is the honeymoon over?

There’s a Lot The Media Isn’t Telling You About ObamaCare. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has had two “Town Hall” meetings to promote ObamaCare.  These are carefully stage-managed events featuring ‘the One,’ with only enthralled supporters, and no dissenting voices.  There was apparently an ‘event’ in our town earlier in the week to sell the president’s health care plan, featuring activists with bullhorns.  I didn’t attend.

Progressives have long, long wanted to inflict Universal Health Care on Americans.  Since members of Congress and the government exclude themselves from any part of it, they know very well that it is not what they claim for it, and does not live up to the exclusive plan they all subscribe to. That indicates to me that they are not interested in the health care, but in the power that controlling our health will bestow upon them.

I pointed out in an earlier post that Great Britain has a population of 33 million, and their National Health Service is a mess.  Canada has a population of 66 million, and they send their difficult cases down here, and many of their doctors have moved here too.  Massachusetts has a population of 6.5 million, and enacted MassCare in 2006.

What has actually happened with Massachusetts’ plan has simply not received the media attention that it should in the light of the current debate.  Sandy Szwarc reports on the reality.

Massachusetts was to be the nation’s test ground for universal health insurance. MassCare has been held up as the model for similar policies on a national level. Its key elements are part of the national healthcare reform measures being proposed for all of us.

It is newsworthy what the experiment has learned and how things have been working. Yet, national media has been quiet on news about what is happening… even when the most anticipated benefits have not been proved out, and in fact, have been made worse.

As readers remember, Massachusetts enacted MassCare in 2006 and made it law that everyone must buy health insurance — but only state-approved managed care plans with coverage mandates focused on prevention — and that the State would provide coverage under a government program for growing numbers of people unable to afford insurance. About three-fifths of residents now receive free or subsidized health insurance, according to the Massachusetts government — 16% paid through MassHealth and 41% through the subsidized Commonwealth Care.

It had been sold to the public as saving money through a medical home model with care management focused on prevention, pay-for-performance measures and integrated electronic medical records. Instead of costing less for residents and the government, as we’ve learned, nearly one-third of residents report that their individual healthcare costs have increased, and public spending on health insurance this year are expected to have increased 42 percent since the program was enacted. Government spending on the free and subsidized insurance has doubled just in the past two years and is expected to reach $1.3 billion this fiscal year.

Our tax dollars — $1.35 billion per year in federal funds — are now going towards trying to keep Commonwealth Care, which provides free or subsidized insurance for low- and moderate-income residents, solvent. But the costs are even greater for patients and healthcare providers. These are the costs — to lives and quality of care — that we never hear about on the national news.

Read the rest of this important article here. Sandy Szwarc is the proprietor of the excellent website junkfoodscience, which I have found invaluable.  It’s a good one to bookmark.

To repeat, MassCare is such a flop that the rest of us are already paying for it to the tune of $1.35 billion, it isn’t covering everybody, it costs way more than expected and doctors are leaving Massachusetts in droves.  MassHealth denies more claims than regular insurance, and it does not, as claimed,  reduce the public’s use of emergency rooms.

If Massachusetts can’t make the plan that was supposed to serve her 6.5 million citizens work;  the plan that was to prove how wonderful universal health care could be when administered by caring Progressive bureaucrats, then God help us when the Progressive bureaucrats in Congress try to fiddle up a plan for over 300 million of us (excluding Congress and the administration, of course).

More Tales From the Crypt, er, National Health Service. by The Elephant's Child

A search is on for the source of a maggot infestation in the operating theaters of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Aberdeen.  The discovery has caused the closure of three operating rooms, and postponement of procedures.

Two “decontamination cleans” have been carried out, and surgical procedures are scheduled to go ahead on Monday and Tuesday.

The general manager of child health services, said: (bureaucratic language alert!) “I can reassure parents that at no time were any children at risk of coming into contact with the maggots.”…

“Clearly infestation of this kind is very unpleasant, and our advisers will continue to try throughout the day to identify the source.  I am satisfied this is not a reflection on staff or standards of cleanliness in the hospital.”

Yes, this is a scare story  from the United Kingdom.  But in spite of the theater of Mr. Obama’s Health Care town halls, he and his advisers are already talking about rationing.  Old people nearing their statistical life expectancy should not expect anything expensive.  There is  a reason why the “town halls” are filled with Obama supporters, the questions are submitted in advance, no dissent or criticism or unpleasant questions are allowed.

President Obama talks about saving money, better care, everyone insured, but this is nonsense, once again.  A major way to reduce costs is to bring some sanity to medical liability.  Doctors’ costs for liability insurance are astronomical.  The cost is high because of “pain and suffering” awards.  That is, if a doctor, for example, cuts off the wrong leg, ordinary damages should make the victim of malpractice whole.

“Pain and suffering” damages, which supposedly recompense you for your unhappy feelings, are where trial lawyers make their outrageous fees and where they earned their sleazy reputations. A limit on the amount of such awards might stop trial lawyers from “channeling dead children” to arouse sympathy.

Much of President Obama’s financial support comes from trial lawyers.  There will be no limits on trial lawyers.  Which is why Obama was booed at his American Medical Association speech.

Check Into the Hospital, But Take Your Cleaning Supplies With You. by The Elephant's Child

Britain’s Daily Mail has a story about a hospital patient who was so shocked at the dirty ward around her, that she climbed out of bed, dragging her ‘drip trolley’ behind her, gathered up the antibacterial fluid dispenser and some hand towels from the bathroom and started cleaning.

She said it took her about an hour because she could hardly move her neck from the abscess on her neck that put her in the hospital.

A Colchester Hospital University NHS spokesman said: “In the annual health check ratings for 2007-2008 we scored maximum marks for safety and cleanliness and we have also been praised for our very low levels of infections such as C. difficile and MRSA.

Oddly enough, last night we were watching some reruns of the British comedy series “Yes, Minister,” which if you have never seen it, is based on the worst effects of bureaucracy.  It’s beginning to seem not as funny as it once did.  The idea that “it can’t happen here” no longer seems so remote.

Just another little story in the long, long list of stories about the wonders of socialized medicine.

Just How Gullible Are You? Just Wondering. by The Elephant's Child
June 29, 2009, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

“Since when do we call it a “town hall” meeting when a bunch of pre-screened experts ask the president a bunch of pre-approved questions in the East Wing of the White House?
” Michael Cannon asked in the Corner at National Review Online.   Good question!

The president held a so-called “town hall” meeting with a pre-selected audience last Wednesday under the benevolent auspices of ABC.  Critics, other opinions, and disagreement were not included.  Republicans formally requested a chance to participate or time to respond, but those who were not fully in the Obama tank were not invited.

Health Care experts from the Cato Institute respond, in the video above, with some of the information you need.  Much of the ObamaCare plan is based on the idea that there is a best treatment for any situation, and with a modern Internet technology approach, and with all your health records online, the government can choose the best care for everyone, and by “incentivising” [fining the doctors who don’t follow the rules] best care, they think they will improve care and reduce costs.  “One size fits all” says Michael Cannon.

But it doesn’t work that way.  My next-door neighbor can take only very small amounts of medicine. A full dose knocks her out.  I need the full dose and then some.  And as far as government management is concerned, a couple of notes.  When the car czar and his czarettes made the decision to close a large number of Chrysler dealerships [a very odd decision, since the dealerships were not owned by Chrysler, but were independent businesses privately owned, who bought their stock of vehicles from Chrysler], Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) immediately went to Chrysler to make sure that the dealer in his district, who was on the closure list, stayed in business.  This is only a tiny sample of how government control works.

These people are politicians and bureaucrats. What do they know about running the health care of 300 million people?  Canada has 33 million people and cannot manage their health care.  Great Britain has 66 million people, and theirs is a mess.  Even Massachusetts, population about 6.5 million, has a new health care plan that is a flop.  But the Great and Wonderful Obama —who has never run as much as a candy store — is perfectly sure that he can manage the whole system, cover the uninsured, reduce costs and insure a healthier, happier America.

The one thing that you most need to know about the “Kennedy Health Care Bill” working its way through the Senate, is that members of Congress, and the Administration and whoever else is currently on the admirable health care plan that they all love are excused from ever participating in the Health Care Plan they stick the rest of us with. And Obama has excused his friends in the Unions from any tax on their benefits.

So You Want The Folks Who Handled the Auto Bailouts to Take Charge of Your Health? Are You Nuts? by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has made it clear that reforming the American health care system is one of his top priorities. Unfortunately, it is not the public’s top priority.  The public’s top priority is reducing the deficit.  To say that the two are not compatible, is simply a truism.  Obama does not plan to give up.

Progressive groups plan to spend $82 million to push government-run health care. This is to be “the crowning achievement of a new era of progressive politics.” The issue is not about health care, it is about power. If  they can get control of your health care, then you become dependent on them for your life and health, and you must always vote to return them to power, lest they take it away.

They are rounding up all the “Progressive” groups to lobby, demonstrate, push and demand that their health care ideas are passed quickly, before you can object.  What is the rush?  Why not take time to figure out the best remedies for health care flaws, and improve the system?

  • You are being told that 46 million people in America are uninsured. That is not true.  The actual number is closer to 8 to 10 million.
  • You are being told that government-run health care will be free. That does not pass the smell test. The government has no money except your taxes and it will be far more expensive. 
  • You are being told that a government-run health insurance plan will compete with private plans. It is being designed to eliminate private insurance plans so that everyone is forced into the government plan (undoubtedly excepting members of Congress and the administration — they like their coverage).
  • You are being told that  taxpayer-financed health care will save money. This is not true.
  • You are being told that electronic medical records will save vast sums of money.  This is not true. And under current technology your private medical records would be open to pretty much anybody, and you would be wide open to identity theft.
  • You are being told that health care organizations have promised to reduce their costs by 1.5 % every year. This is not true. They said they would try to reduce costs by 1.5% by 2015.
  • You are being told that health care reform is entitlement reform. This is not true.  The idea that Congress can cover the uninsured and use the same measures that pay for the health reform to fix the broader budget problems is simply false.
  • You are not being told that voters put more emphasis on deficit cutting over health care reform. But it is true.

A group named “Conservatives for Patients’ Rights” recently bought time on Washington D.C.’s NBC Channel 4 to air a 30-minute broadcast on Sunday after “Meet the Press.” The group described it as a documentary in the style of “60 Minutes” that would “let people see the real consequences of letting the government take over their health care decisions.”

The program has run on other channels, and focuses on the “stalling, wait lists, rationing and withholding of care because of red tape, politics, and bureaucratic foot-dragging that are typical of government-run health care everywhere, especially in Britain and Canada.

Most Americans are unaware of the rationing and other factors that lead to poor health, and even fatalities in socialist health care systems. SEIU (the Service Employees International Union) quickly contacted NBC, claiming that CPR’s program “will be false, deceitful and a distortion” and asked the station to refuse to run the program.

The administration that promised “transparency” is hiding their real intent behind platitudes and promises that don’t stand exposure to the clear light of day.  They are playing politics with your life and your health, and excellent care for you and yours is not what this is about.  It is about power — not yours — but theirs.

Republicans have many ideas for reducing the cost of health care and making it more efficient, but like tort reform, the ideas sometimes are not favorable to groups like trial attorneys that are core Democrat supporters.  The Obama administration is not receptive to Republican ideas.

People who are healthy don’t have much contact with the health care system, nor readily grasp its problems.  It is the people in need who encounter the rationing, the doctors who are leaving medicine, the denial of service, the dirty hospitals, the too-expensive machine, the inability to get a drug or treatment that is too new, too expensive in spite of its promise.  And the one who decides what is too expensive, unneeded, not useful is not you and your doctor, but some bureaucrat in Washington.

Your choice.  You can be passive and let the bureaucrats decide, or make yourself heard.


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