Thursday, December 17, 2009

Top 5 Reasons the Democrats Need to Pass Health Care NOW

With the Democrat's scrambling to get their health care bill passed before Christmas, you might be wondering "What's the rush?" Why not take a few months to discuss the contents of the bill before voting on it - especially when it doesn't go into effect until 2013.

Here are the top 5 reasons the Dems need to pass it NOW - in no particular order.

1) 2010 elections: Even though Democrats are smarter than everyone else, they realize that voters do not want their Health Care Utopia, so then need to make sure it gets passed soon enough that you will forget about how they voted come next November

2) Visibility: Currently the bill the Senate would be voting on hasn't even been written. If the GOP got it's way, the bill in it's final form would be posted for 72 hours for anyone to analyze before they vote. The Dem's can't afford more voters and on-the-fence Blue Dog Dem's to realize the actual contents of the bill.

3) Obama: President Obama desperately needs something to brag about come January for his State of the Union Address.

4) Taxes: Even though Washington won't start regulating in the conveniently after the next Presidential election year of 2013, the tax hikes to pay for it go into effect immediately. By stealing from you for 3-4 years before they actually have to start paying for this new Utopia, they can make their claims that the bill is deficit neutral slightly less ridiculous.

5) Getting their Way: Like anything else in Washington, the Dem's know that once the government gains control over your health care, it will NEVER be repealed. The GOP may be able to tweak it here and there, but Washington's control over your life will never relent. Any chance of real health care reform - reform that makes medical care more accessible by all, rather than crippling the best medicine in the world, will be lost forever.

Since the Democrats have pursued a strategy of bullying, bribery, weekend & holliday votes to rush through their "reform" package rather than open & honest debate, the Republicans have no choice but to employ stall tactics to force this bill into the light.

More Obstruction Please

Predictably, the Democrats continue to accuse the Republicans of obstructing progress - pointing in particular too Tom Coburn's recent move requiring Bernie Sanders' single payer amendment to be read aloud prior to any debate on the subject (all 767 pages). Senate rules require unanimous consent in order to dispense with the reading.

Senator Sanders withdrew his amendment three hours into the reading.

Senator DeMint has threatened to require the same for the actual health care bill once it's 2200+ pages have been completed.

Sanders response clearly illustrates the difference between liberal opinion and the majority of US citizens:
“The best the Republicans can do is to try to bring the United States government to a halt,” he said. “It’s an outrage, a disgrace. It explains why so many people have contempt for Washington.”
Senator - the reason most in America have contempt for Washington is because politicians like you refuse to leave us alone.

Obviously there are critical issues the Senate needs to vote on (military appropriations bills, voting on judges, etc). However, there is nothing preventing Democrats from shelving health care and voting on the important stuff (that Washington is actually SUPPOSED to be doing) before moving back to debate on a bill that most in the US clearly do not want.

Let's raise a glass to more obstruction in congress - not less!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

18 Minutes to read the Table of Contents

Senator Tom Coburn showed some guts in standing against a bill that voters overwhelmingly oppose.

Normally, the reading of amendments is dispensed with by a unanimous vote, but Senator Coburn objected, so the Senate Clerk is required to read the text of the entire Sanders amendment to the Senate's version of the health care bill.

It was pretty much a forgone conclusion that the Sanders amendment (creation of a single payer system) would be voted down immediately, but it's good to see that at least one member of the GOP realizes that single payer, government option, expansion of medicare etc are only a fraction of the critically damaging aspects of the Democrat's "reform". Items such as the requirement to purchase insurance, requiring all policies to cover pre-existing conditions, etc would be equally destructive to the quality of medicine available to the US.

It took 18 minutes to read the table of contents - and this is just an ammendment, not a full fledged bill. It is expected to take 12 hours to read the full 767 pages. Hopefully they can force the reading of the full 2000 pages of the actual bill (although it hasn't even been written yet). A few more stunts like this, and maybe congress will start pushing simpler legislation - but I doubt it.

Yes, our current system has its flaws, but most (if not all) are due to over-regulation of medicine and health insurance, not to little. Remember, there's a reason citizens of other nations come to the US when their nationalized health care systems cannot meet their needs.

UPDATE: I neglected to mention that Senator Coburn is a Doctor by trade.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Nonsense Move no Matter How You Slice It

So detainees from Guantanamo Bay will be coming to an Illinois penitentiary. It shouldn't be that much of a surprise since the President has been trying to find a way to appease those on the left clamoring for him to shut down Gitmo, but for the life of me, I don't see any way that this makes sense from the right, left or middle.

No matter what angle I look at this, I can't get around the following:

1) The whole agitation for shutting down Gitmo is that supposedly, we are illegally detaining these folk. I don't see how moving them stateside erases that argument (BTW, couldn't moving them from the Caribbean to Illinois be considered inhumane?)

2) The reason they are being transferred instead of released is that they were in fact captured engaging in terrorist activities. How putting them together with our own Federal inmates is a good idea is beyond me. I'm sure none of those inmates have any grudges against the US and would hence be susceptible to proselytization.

If the President actually believes that we are illegally detaining innocent folks, close the prison & send the inmates home. If they are folks captured while engaging in terrorist activities, or warfare outside the Geneva established protocols of war, then leave them where they are.

Obama is like most politicians, trying to have his cake and eat it to. He knows if he let everyone go, the right would come after him as soft on national security. If he leaves them there, the left will come after him for breaking his pledge to close the detention center (although, what's one more promise at this point).

By trying to split the difference, he's giving us the worst of both worlds. He's still detaining folks that were deprived of their Miranda rights (the left's complaint, although technically, they don't have Miranda rights), but now, instead of isolating them, he's bringing their poisonous message to our own inmates.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Big Business Hearts Big Government

The only individuals who would even be remotely suprised that Comcast is endorsing the President's health care agenda are those who still cling to the notion that Big Businesses are opposed to government regulation.

Ginormous companies such as Comcast, flush with cash & a fleet of attorneys, can easily deal with regulations that will cripple small business & individuals trying to balance their budgets.

To Comcast, it's a small price to pay if it gives them a smoother road to FCC approval of their recent purchase of NBC Universal.

Most people think that more government regulation is required to reign in powerful corporations. However, the dirty secret is, those same regulations only serve to create even more powerful monopolies by weeding out their competition.

Small companies shell out a fortune just maintaining compliance with various local, state & federal regulations & tax laws - even before they pay for their routine operating expenses. Big Business will gladly play the bogey man if it dupes the government into weeding out their competition for them.

The best way to ensure protection of the consumer is to limit government power which in turn frees up individuals & small businesses to compete on a level playing field.

Want more & better choices for health care, entertainment, energy, you name it. Clear out government interference & competition will give us the best value for our dollar.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More emissions reduction folly

The Patriot room lays out why the seemingly random emissions reduction numbers thrown out by our President & other prophets of environmental doom are absolutely impossible to meet.

The fact that we continue to pursue nonsensical carbon reduction policies in spite of the recent revelation that the world's leading climate research center has been falsifying their numbers in order to hide the fact that the earths temperature has actually been declining over the past decade boggles the mind.

Of course, none of this has ever actually been about protecting the environment - it's all about increased power for the government. World leaders will still live jetset lifestyles while we all become peasants.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fixing Health Care Lasik Style

Reason TV takes the time to actually analyze the problem with our health care system in order to determine the best solution.



Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the free market hasn't failed us in terms of health care, it hasn't even been tried since World War II when government intervention in the labor market (wage freezes) forced employers to look to other methods to attract & retain employees.

For more on my health care reform ideas see here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Christie wins, but...

apparently, New Jersey voters had no issues adding an additional $400 million to the state's existing $35 billion dollar debt...

It's hard to foresee Christie (or any elected official) saving a state who's voters have no concept of fiscal responsibility.

That's probably because most residents with any economic sense have been fleeing the state in droves over the past several years.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Great job!!

Since the CDC has delivered H1N1 vaccine to every US citizen on time and under budget, we should have no trouble handing the rest of our health care over to the Feds...

Wait - there's vaccine shortages you say? The government hasn't been a model of efficiency and cost control?

Our government can't even administer one vaccine, and yet they still expect us to trust them with the rest of our health care.

First of all, let me point out that this shortage is not a particular indictment of President Obama (any more than the last time we had a flu vaccine shortage was the fault of President Bush). The fact is, government is never an effective distributor of goods and services.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Germany moves to the right

Just like France & Italy before them, Germany is realizing that it's dance with Socialism was not a recipe for success.

Voters in Germany resoundingly affirmed Chancellor Angela Merkel's plans for tax reduction (including taxes for top earners).

Europe is finally coming to realize that penalizing your nation's most productive members leads to disatrous levels of unmployment and poverty. Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, our government seems intent on adopting the exact same policies that Europe has abandoned.

Everywhere in history that socialism has been tried, poverty has been the result.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Folly of Electric Vehicles

I came across this on the Freakonomics blog. The gist of the article is that even though we've been trying to produce electric vehicles that meet consumers needs for over a century, we're finally on the verge of making it this time.

There are still two main issues that will prevent EV's from becoming mainstream:

1) Charging time - if I run out of gas, it takes me 5 minutes to fill up (expect in NJ, where for no apparent reason, I'm not as qualified to pump my own gas as the part time high school junior, so I have to wait for him to attend to all the other customers before he gets to me). If my battery runs dead, it takes several hours to charge up again.

2) The biggest problem is cost - Anyone who has purchased replacement batteries for their power tools can attest that the batteries cost almost as much as buying a brand new tool. According to the chart referenced in the article, only one of the upcoming plugin vehicles costs under $40,000 - and that vehicle will likely include a battery lease so who knows what the actual cost of Nissan's Leaf will be.

If economy (in terms of how much it costs to transport me around) were my primary concern, I'd purchase a small 4 cylinder gas vehicle for at least $25,000 less (the savings would be even greater if I'm financing the vehicle, since I'd be paying less interest since I'd be borrowing less).

Suppose I only get 20 MPG in said 4 cylinder vehicle (most economy cars will get at least 25, but lets be conservative here). Even if gas went up to $5.00/gallon, if I drove 10,000 miles per year, the $25,000 I saved (not counting the interest saved) would get me 10 years worth of gas. This is even under the assumption that the electricity used to charge the vehicle were free (which it most certainly will not be).

Many will point out that government incentives and rebates will reduce the cost, as if government rebates make something economically viable. The bottom line is, government money still comes out of our pockets. The bottom line is that electric vehicles will drain our nations economic resources far more than gasoline vehicles - regardless of who pays the bill.

NOTE: This is not to say there will NEVER be an electric vehicle, but $40,000 vehicles are not the way to go. Battery prices are not going to come down as the technology has gone pretty much as far as it goes under the known laws of physics. Until someone comes up with a cheap way to store electrical energy, that can quickly be replenished AND is portable, it's not going to happen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Line in the Sand

While the Obama administration continues to aggressively pursue CIA agents for "torturing" terrorist conspirators to obtain information necessary to protect American lives, however it appears that our president does draw a line at the heinous crime of "conspiracy to commit bribery" when it decides to invoke "torture".

Heaven forbid we cause any discomfort to those who would blow us up, but we we won't stand idly by while enemies of our nation attempt white collar crimes...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

8 Ways Government Spending Hurts the Economy

With nations such as France & Germany experiencing recoveries that far out pace our own (in spite of the fact that they rejected the urge to pass ginormous "stimulous" packages), we need to be reminded that government spending is not the way to economic prosperity.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

GM's hottest selling vehicle

Gets far less mileage than the touted triple digit mileage Volt.

The thousands of 2010 Camaro's are backordered so Government Motors can focus on vehicles we supposedly want.

UPDATE: More on why the Volt is just pie in the sky.

HT: Planet Gore

Who's the real fake?

Ever since congress went on their August recess, the Democrats and their allies have been attempting to portray those showing up to protest Health Care "Reform" as somehow less than authentic.

Nevermind the fact that every liberal protest is complete with matching T-shirts, & glossy professionally printed signs, etc.

To top it off, they show up at meetings posing as doctors so they can pretend that doctors are in favor of a government plan.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

About that 230 MPG

Chevy's still pending Volt is being touted as getting 230 MPG. However, that's ONLY based on city driving. Depending on the situation, mileage could even drop below 50 MPG.

That's all fine, however who is going to pay an extra $9000 for the same mileage they can get in a Prius. Of course the government will fix that by giving taxpayer money in the form of rebates to Volt purchasers. Since the government now has a vested interest in making sure their auto company succeeds (not by selling cars most people want, but by selling cars the government likes), it will pump our taxpayer money into GM for the rest of eternity since GM cannot ever be competitive with the business model they've been given by the current administration.

The other question I still have regarding the mileage touted for plugin hybrids - I haven't seen any evidence that the mileage calculations take into account the electricity used to charge these vehicles when they are plugged in. Yes it's possible that KWH's are taken into acount in the figures, and it's possible that even factored in, the energy efficiency is still an improvement, but on the face, it seems that the promotors of plugin vehicles are content to believe that battery charging uses no energy while plugged in.

I would love to hear from anyone who has more information on this last point.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You don't get to keep your plan after all

In spite of the Presidents repeated statements to the contrary, the actual bills being pushed through Congress & the Senate say otherwise. This article details 5 freedoms we lose under Obamacare.

Item 4:

This is the freedom that the President keeps emphasizing. Yet the bills appear to say otherwise. It's worth diving into the weeds -- the territory where most pundits and politicians don't seem to have ventured.

The legislation divides the insured into two main groups, and those two groups are treated differently with respect to their current plans. The first are employees covered by the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974. ERISA regulates companies that are self-insured, meaning they pay claims out of their cash flow, and don't have real insurance. Those are the GEs (GE, Fortune 500) and Time Warners (TWX, Fortune 500) and most other big companies.

The House bill states that employees covered by ERISA plans are "grandfathered." Under ERISA, the plans can do pretty much what they want -- they're exempt from standard packages and community rating and can reward employees for healthy lifestyles even in restrictive states.

But read on.

The bill gives ERISA employers a five-year grace period when they can keep offering plans free from the restrictions of the "qualified" policies offered on the exchanges. But after five years, they would have to offer only approved plans, with the myriad rules we've already discussed. So for Americans in large corporations, "keeping your own plan" has a strict deadline. In five years, like it or not, you'll get dumped into the exchange. As we'll see, it could happen a lot earlier.

The outlook is worse for the second group. It encompasses employees who aren't under ERISA but get actual insurance either on their own or through small businesses. After the legislation passes, all insurers that offer a wide range of plans to these employees will be forced to offer only "qualified" plans to new customers, via the exchanges.

The employees who got their coverage before the law goes into effect can keep their plans, but once again, there's a catch. If the plan changes in any way -- by altering co-pays, deductibles, or even switching coverage for this or that drug -- the employee must drop out and shop through the exchange. Since these plans generally change their policies every year, it's likely that millions of employees will lose their plans in 12 months.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More on fishy data collection.

Powerline describes the serious implications of the President's request that those opposing his health care plan be reported..

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Is this a "fishy" post?

The President is understandably upset that many of the lowly peasants who call themselves US citizens are not falling at his feet over the Democrats attempts to subject our health to the whims of the US government.

Apparently, it's so upsetting that the White House is calling on citizens to report any "fishy" emails or web posts regarding the plan that will heal us of all our ills.

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov
I just know that there would have been no outcry whatsoever had the previous administration asked individuals to report any policy criticisms to the White House.

Hat Tip: The Corner

Friday, July 31, 2009

No friend to the poor and middle class.

Apparently, people are so thrilled to receive $4500 from the rest of us to purchase new cars, that we burned through a billion dollars in a week & exhausted the Cash for Clunkers fund. However, in the interest of making sure auto industry recently acquired by Washington stays afloat, it seems like we'll get to pay even more people to buy new cars.

What is even further amusing is this statement from the White House:

"The program will be in place" for anyone who had been planning to make a car purchase this weekend, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told CNN. "This program appears to be a success for car buyers, car dealers, car companies and taxpayers." (emphasis mine)

While it is no stretch that purchasers that meet the requirements are happy to get $4500 off their tab, and dealers & car companies won't complain at the brief boost it provides them, how exactly is it a "success" for taxpayers to be buying new cars for other people?

Not only are taxpayers losers in this scheme, so are carbuyers in the market for used cars. There are plenty of folks who can't afford a new car - even if they are given $4500 to do so. A 1997 Mercury Cougar in good condition could be had for $2000, but suddenly, the base price for that vehicle is $4500 - which means the poor & frugal are losers.

This is completely besides the fact that the dealer is required to crush the '97 cougar (even if it was in mint condition) as part of the "Cash for Clunkers" bill. So not only is the base price for used cars hurting the poor, since these cars are being destroyed, the supply of used vehicles has shortened which in turn drives the price up further.

In spite of their talk, liberals are no friends to the poor and working class.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The president will own you.

Not only will a federal plan result in Washington determine who does and who does not get care, the President wants those decisions to be made by a body beholden only to the White House.

In a letter this week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, White House budget chief Peter Orszag urged Congress to delegate its authority over Medicare to a newly created body within the executive branch. This measure is designed to circumvent the democratic process and avoid accountability to the public for cuts in benefits.
If this happens, and you find yourself in need of an expensive lifesaving procedure, the president will be the one who determines if you live or die.

At this rate, we will all be indentured servants to the White House before we know it.

UPDATE: Further down the in the article even further illustrates the deadly serious nature of this health care bill:
While the House bill being pushed by the president reduces access to such cures and specialists, it ensures that seniors are counseled on end-of-life options, including refusing nutrition where state law allows it (pp. 425-446). In Oregon, some cancer patients are being denied care by the state that could extend their lives and instead are afforded the benefit of physician-assisted suicide instead.
So not only will seniors be denied care - they will be actively encouraged to kill themselves...

HT: Powerline

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cost is the least of our worries - don't plan on getting sick.

Much of the concern over the pending health care bill is focused on its cost. As big a concern as it is, the cost to taxpayers pales in comparison to the affect it will have on actual health care. If this legislation passes, not only will there be less health care available, what IS available will be of inferior quality than it is today.

One recent comment proposed the notion that free market principles for health care can't work because health care is a need while (to use his example) color copies are not. Unfortunately, that notion could not be further from the truth. Every single resource weather it is copier services, energy, or medical supplies are subject to the same laws of supply and demand whether we like it or not.

Whether it's MRI's, cars or said color copies, the purchaser ALWAYS wants the best available and for as little as possible. Sellers ALWAYS want to get the most in return for as little as possible.

While it would be wonderful if everyone in the medical and pharmaceutical professions were in it solely to help people and had no regard for compensation, but wishing it to be so will not change the reality that humans all want their own interests served.

If this bill passes, consumers will all want the best available care. However, doctors, equipment, pills and time are all in limited supply. Now that cost is no longer an obstacle for patients, demand for all sorts of medical care will swell drastically. In a free market, this would cause the price of care to rise and more individuals would decide to go into medicine, build MRI machines, develop new medicine because medicine would become more profitable.

However, with the government running the show, the price of care will NOT be permitted to rise. This will lead to doctors leaving practice, our best and brightest going into other professions, equipment suppliers producing less (not to mention companies that service equipment when it breaks).

Yes, free markets require individuals to make difficult choices - I might not want to pay $5000 for an MRI out of my pocket, but I also don't like paying $500+ a month to put food in my families mouths. I certainly wouldn't mind if other folks would make my mortgage payment either. The bottom line is, somebody needs to make choices about what level of health care we get. My money is on individuals to best make that decision - not the next MRI czar.

Our commenter was correct - there is a difference between necessities like medicine and color copies - but he had the consequences reversed. If Washington imposed price caps on color copies, we have less of them and they'd be of lesser quality, but if this bill passes, people will die because of it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Random thoughts on health care

Here's a random collection of my thoughts on the health care debate:

1) I've stated it before, but we are discussing the wrong issue with regards to health care in the US. The root problem we want to solve is making sure that health CARE is readily available to as many as possible, but instead, we keep trying to come up with ways to make health INSURANCE readily available to as many as possible without regard to whether that insurance will lead to accessible health care.

2) Our concept of health insurance isn't even insurance - it's just making our medical payments through a third party. How anyone thinks that any third party payment system (government or private) could ever be cheaper than patients paying directly for care is beyond me. The customer (patient) doesn't have any incentive to shop around or reduce their purchases to what is necessary and the seller has no incentive to keep prices down.

3) There are only two ways a government plan can keep costs down: A) they will ration care - so much for health care being a right (a common refrain by proponents of universal coverage) and B) they will force doctors to accept less in return for their services - unfortunately, this will lead to more individuals exercising their right to NOT become doctors and for existing doctors to exercise their right to retire - price caps ALWAYS make a given resource less available.

4) I certainly don't advocate this solution, but giving everyone an anual $2000 medical voucher to be used at any medical facility would probably be cheaper than anything being rammed through congress today. If individuals were permitted to rollover the unused portion of their voucher to the next year, they'd have an incentive to decide for themselves what care is necessary, price shop etc. Doctors would have incentive to compete on price.

5) Apparently, individuals have a right to force others to provide for their health, food, & housing, even though the US Constitution says nothing to that affect. However, individuals do NOT have the right to provide for their own self defense, even though the right to keep and bear arms is CLEARLY spelled out on the Constitution.

6) Once the government is responsible for providing for our medical well being, they own us. If we don't conform to their vision, they can just decide that our medical needs are less of a priority.

7) Socialism of any sort is not maintainable. As noted in item 3, the price caps necessary to keep expenses down will cause people to avoid medical/pharmaceutical fields altogether. The only way to continue such a vision is to FORCE people into medical practice. This is why citizens of communist countries have so little career choice. The government decides where an individuals talents are most needed and the individual does not have a choice.

8) Hopefully rather than devolving into communism, we will realize that although freedom does not mean that every individual will have all their needs met, no system does. Freedom gives every individual the CHANCE to have their needs met and meets more peoples needs than any other system in history.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Obama and baseball

First off, let me state that this is a stupid discussion. I couldn't care less if Obama confused Comiskey Park with Shibe Park. It has no bearing on his abilities as a President.

However, things like this (along with the ridiculous discussion of whether it did or did not bounce) became topics of discussion after

1) the press mercilessly hounded Bush for the slightest mistep, mis-pronunciation, etc
2) Everyone went to such great lengths to cover for him (including Fox Sports) and
3) Obama himself pokes fun at Cubs fans for not being serious about baseball.

Come on - if you can't throw a baseball, bowl, or just aren't an every day Sox fan, that's fine - just don't pretend otherwise. Be who you are and let us judge you on your policies.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sotomayor, Nunchucks and the 2nd Ammendment

While it is a bit humorous listening to the the Supreme Court nominee explain to Orin Hatch how nunchucks (or numchuck sticks in "wise Latina" terms) work, more telling is her opinion that the 2nd Ammendment does not apply to the states.

It is especially perplexing to me that the 1st Ammendment specifically states "Congress shall make now law respecting an establishment of religion, or [...] abridging the freedom of speech, [...]the press; or [... peacable assmbly...]" while the 2nd Ammendment states that the "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. " (emphasis mine)

The bill of rights doesn't prohibit a specific entity from restricting our right to keep & bear arms - it precludes ANY infringment. If either of those ammendments could textually be construed as not applying to states, it would be the first. And yet, the same folks who claim states and municipalities are well within the constitution when they restrict the arming of their citizens would clamor with righteous indignation at town displays of manger scenes, or heaven forbid, a teenager is forbidden from wearing an obscene t-shirt to school.




Note to Barbara Boxer: Senator Hatch's nameplate reads "Mr. Hatch"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

We are having the wrong discussion on health care.

Dull Geek has an excellent post discussing the problems with health care in the US. It shows exaclty why our problem is not that there are to many uninsured, but that there are to many insured. We don't need more insurance - public or private - we need LESS health insurance so that people purchasing health care are exposed to its costs.

The fact that a third party pays for just about every medical procedure has resulted in a situation where neither the health care providers (your Doctor) nor the customers (the patients) know the price of the good/service being purchased:

I've gone to the doctor with my child trying to get stitches for a cut. Before I went in, I asked what this was going to cost, because I was going to have to pay for it. They didn't know.

Stop for a minute and think about this. Is there *ANY* other service provider that you pay for, where they have zero idea of what the cost is going to be?

The reality is that the doctor's office didn't need to know. Their job is not to let the patient make an informed decision about the cost and benefit of the procedure/service that is being performed. Their job is to do the service and take care of the billing later.
Not only does nobody know how much anything costs, since the customer doesn't have to pay for the procedure, people have no incentive to ration. Why not have every procedure known to man if you don't have to pay for it.

If we did away with medical coverage as we know it (along with all the 3rd parties with their hand in the till along the way), customers would be forced to make choices, competition would cause doctors to lower their prices - and they could since they wouldn't need a small army in their billing office filling out 800 forms in triplicate for the kid coming in for two stitches.

UPDATE: I further expanded on my views last year.

Why you need to fear cap & trade.

Not only will the cap & trade bill double your utility bills (or more), it will permit the state to inspect your house for energy compliance under a variety of circumstances.

Here are a few of the circumstances under which the state EPA can come into your house & check you out for energy compliance:

- a final inspection of major renovations or additions made to a building in accordance with a building permit issued by a local government entity Since permits are required for just about anything, repairing your leaky roof could subject you to a mandate to replace all the windows in your house.

- a sale that is recorded for title and tax purposes consistent with paragraph (8) Your job requires you to move (or you want to downsize now that the kids are grown)? - Guess what - you're on the hook to insulate that 75 year old house you've been living in.

- a new lien recorded on the property for more than a set percentage of the assessed value of the property, if that lien reflects public financial assistance for energy-related improvements to that building; or Thought you'd save some money by refinancing now that rates are lower - guess again.

- a change in ownership or operation of the building for purposes of utility billing Good luck if you want to rent your place out. Your perfectly good furnace isn't so hot anymore once the EPA deems it's not efficient enough. Potentially, one could get around this by including utilities in the rent & paying for it themselves, but there goes any incentive for the tennant to conserve energy

Then there's B) Other appropriate means - so they can inspect your house for whatever the state feels like.

If I'm suspected of murder, the police need to jump through all the hoops of getting a warrant before they set foot in your door. But the state has complete jurisdiction over your thermostat setting...

Here is the relevent portion of the bill that passed the House of Representatives.

Hat tip: The Corner

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Who's side is he on?

When I read things like this, it makes me wonder if our President actually has set as a goal the down fall of the United States.

[President Obama] Vowed to keep the Russian leaders informed about a U.S. evaluation of whether the anti-missile shield planned for Eastern Europe will actually work.
Russia is NOT an ally of the United States. In fact, the anti-missle shield has been put in place as a defense AGAINST the threat of Russion attacks (nuclear or otherwise). Russia has been threatening neighboring Georgia for the past two years. They are in no way acting as a nation seeking to live in peace with any of their neighbors - much less the US.

Divulging tactical information such as this is an act of treason.

It's all good though. The Russians promised to make less missiles & they'd never lie to us...

Monday, May 25, 2009

While Nero fiddled...

Our leaders today have no concept of priorities when it comes to the governance of a nation. The very reason government of any sort exists is to protect its citizens.

Anyway, while North Korea was busy testing Nukes, our House Speaker was in China determining how to best handle the nuclear powered dictatorship. Just kidding, she was there on the much more important business of managing the climate.

Meanwhile, the Presidents top policy is deciding what kind of cars US citizens should be permitted to buy. Don't worry though, he did "condemn" the tests - that will show them since North Korea is so concerned about what we think of him.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Costly CAFE

It's been forever since we've seen any action here @ C4tR- apparently most of us have day jobs :)

Regardless, I came across this interesting rundown of President Obama's recent push to accelerate the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) requirements & what impact it will have on our economy, safety, etc. The author is Kieth Hennessey who helped President Bush formulate the last proposed CAFE increase, so he knows more than a little about the subject.

Of particular note to me is the shift in values focus. In a nut shell, the Presidents proposals provide a net zero benefit to society (see quote below) - and that's even assuming you view "greenhouse gasses" as a threat.

In a nutshell, we sacrificing highway safety, increasing the burden on auto manufacturers during a recession and increasing consumer costs for a net zero gain - again that assumes you believe reduction of greenhouse gasses will actually have any measurable impact on the climate - especially since India, China and other developing nations show no indications of slowing down.

From the article:
2. Rather than maximizing net societal benefits, this proposal raises the standard until (total societal benefits = total societal costs), meaning the net benefits to society are roughly zero. This is not an invalid framework for making a policy decision, but it is unusual. It represents a different value choice.

The NHTSA analyses look at a range of benefits to society, including economic and national security benefits from using less oil, health and environmental benefits from less pollution, and environmental benefits from fewer greeenhouse gas emissions (this is new). They also consider the costs, primarily from requiring more fuel-saving technologies to be included by manufacturers. NHTSA assumes these increased costs are passed on to consumers. More expensive cars mean that fewer cars are sold, which means that fewer auto workers are needed. NHTSA calculates economic costs to car buyers and to society as a whole, and job losses among U.S. auto workers.

A standard rule-making methodology is to look at all the costs to society, and all the benefits, and make them comparable (by converting them into dollar equivalents). You then ask, “What policy will maximize the net benefit to society as a whole, taking into account all costs and benefits?” This is the approach NHTSA used in building the yellow line.

The blue line represents a different approach. (See the TC=TB line on Table VII-6 on page 613 of the NHTSA analysis.) You take the same analysis of costs and benefits, but instead ask, “How much can we increase fuel economy before the costs to society as a whole outweigh the benefits to society as a whole?” This results (in theory) in no net benefit (and no net cost) to society, but allows you to maximize the fuel economy subject to this constraint.

The Obama Administration’s numbers are in line with this latter approach. It’s not wrong. The Obama approach is quite different. It represents a different value choice, in which a higher priority is placed on the benefits of increased fuel economy, and lower priorities are placed on increased costs to car buyers and job loss in the auto industry.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

One Triiiillllion Dollars

I was visuallizing Dr. Evil saying it when I typed the subject line for this post.

Anyway, to get a glimpse of how much is being spent in the recently passed stimulus, see here.

H/T The Corner.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Obama proof stocks

I wouldn't exactly call it a vote of confidence in your policies when you are singled out as a reason to buy Australian companies...

The fundamental flaw in today's liberal policy is that they assume they can legislate away human nature. In reality, people will ALWAYS act in their own and their families interest.

Obama's spending will inflate the dollar, so people buy gold to protect the value of their savings. Obama's tax policies will penalize companies that generate income in the US, so people will invest in foreign companies.

The markets will certainly respond to the "stimulus" and other proposals on the Presidents agenda, but it won't be a positive response.

H/T Campaign Spot

UPDATE: Go here for more visual evidence of what the market thinks of Obama's policies.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Doing the Math

The Wall Street Journal points out some incovenient numbers (H/T: Powerline) for President Obama & his promises to pay for all this outrageous new spending through new taxes on the richest 2% (increasing taxes on the highest income earners to 42% over the next couple of years).

From the article:
But let's not stop at a 42% top rate; as a thought experiment, let's go all the way. A tax policy that confiscated 100% of the taxable income of everyone in America earning over $500,000 in 2006 would only have given Congress an extra $1.3 trillion in revenue. That's less than half the 2006 federal budget of $2.7 trillion and looks tiny compared to the more than $4 trillion Congress will spend in fiscal 2010. Even taking every taxable "dime" of everyone earning more than $75,000 in 2006 would have barely yielded enough to cover that $4 trillion.


And this is assuming that higher income taxes would in no way affect the behavior of those generating said incomes. Not only that, given our current economic climate, there will be far less earning those high incomes. And given that they'd be required to fork over ever increasing amounts of their income to Uncle Sam, how many older earners would just retire rather than watching their fruit of their labor go straight into the government coffers. Businesses will produce less (since the potential for earnings is lower). Fewer goods and services means fewer jobs.

My only critique of the Journal article is that it doesn't go far enough when it predicts that Obama will have to raised taxes on more than just the "rich". Yes additional tax hikes will become necessary, but, sooner or later, the Democrats are going to realize that the only way to pay off all this new debt is to fire up the printing presses leading to inflation.

Not only will this return us to the stagflation of the '70s, but will most certainly hurt our already tenous relationship with China - one of the chief foreign investors in the dollar. Tom at Radio Free New Jersey has more on that here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's starting...

While President Obama falsely accused the Republicans who opposed his stimulus plan as wanting to do nothing, back in January, I actually stated the case for "doing nothing". (actually, I stated the case that doing nothing was better than what he and the Democrats were proposing at the time - and have since rammed through congress at breakneck speed - there are things that are better than nothing, but this is not it).

To this point, we have had rising unemployment, but at least, inflation was low - in fact prices were dropping - that's how the market compensates - and recovers on it's own. Prices can drop to the point that people start buying which in turn gets things going again.

Now that the government has thrown another $800 Billion out there - but for which there were no goods and services produced, this gives us a greater supply of dollars, but the same supply of goods and services. Now that dollars are in greater supply relative to the goods they would purchase, we can expect with certainty that those dollars will be worth LESS relative to the goods they would purchase. In short, this is exactly what inflation is.

To make things worse, since no extra goods and services are being produced to go along with the extra currency, this does nothing to change the rise in unemployment. So now, we not only have people continuing to lose jobs, they will now find that the money they have saved for emergencies like this will buy less food, heat, gas, clothes, etc than it did before. Doing nothing would have been far better than this abomination from the Democrats.

Well - that inflation is starting now and I fear that the "stimulus" bill may have killed any chance for any sort of speedy recovery.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Crazy times...

It's been ages since anything's been posted here, I've been extremely swamped with work and home to post.

Anyway, I came across this extremely interesting video on the pace of technology and civilization.

What do you all think it means?



Did You Know? from Amybeth on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bi-Partisan measure? Are they kidding?

Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN dist. 6) has started a worthwhile blog detailing the activities of the Democrat Majority.

This particular post debunks the notion that the stimulus package being rammed down are throats is far from the bipartisan measure it's being touted as by Speaker Pelosi. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee presented 18 ammendments to the bill, 1 was agreed to and the other 17 were rejected outright.

As Rep. Bachmann points out, the Democrats are well within their rights to ignore GOP input (they are the majority after all), but doing so while claiming to reach across the aisle is outright dishonest.

Update: Here's an excellent video detailing why the "bailout" is bad.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Founders Friday

What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed: and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
-James Madison

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cedarville University: A Controversy over Truth and Certainty?

For some time now, Cedarville University has been involved in a controversy over truth and certainty: the belief that we can know that the Bible, the truth, is 100% certain versus the belief of the emergent church that the truth is unknowable, i.e., we can be relatively certain, but ultimately, no one can know the truth for sure.

Initially, I wondered at the relevance of this information to Case4theRight, but came to the conclusion that many of us may be looking for Christian colleges to which to send our children in light of the severe leftist leanings of many, if not most, of the secular colleges and universities in our nation today.

The controversy seemingly came to light after the university fired two conservative professors in the summer of 2007, only a few months after they had a signed contract. One had even achieved tenure at the university. My initial exposure to this affair was in the form of an email communication from the alumni office with a statement from the president of the university announcing the university’s unwavering stance toward the truth of the scripture and a warning of unfounded accusations made by several media outlets. I did some internet research on the situation at that time because I was saddened to hear of these developments and I wanted to be as informed as possible about this emergent church movement and about what was going on at Cedarville. There are always two sides to every story and I was concerned that I was only hearing the situation from a public relations standpoint. I was able to find quite a bit of information detailing the situation from the viewpoint of the fired professors.

I was seriously concerned about these accusations because my daughter, who is a relatively new Christian, is a student at Cedarville. I was concerned about what she was being taught in the classroom regarding the certainty of scripture. She did not seem to be familiar with too many of the facts surrounding the situation, however, I did get an opportunity to explain why we can be certain regarding the truth of the scripture and admonished her to keep an ear out in her classes for any teaching that might undermine the truth of the Bible. As that is all I could do at that point, I left it at that, and kept Cedarville in my prayers that they would not succumb to the lies of false teaching.

Earlier this week I received another communication from Cedarville citing a report that was about to be released by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), detailing an investigation performed by the AAUP into the firings of the two university professors. Cedarville stated that the report is “misleading and inaccurate”. Several other conservative faculty and staff (those identifying with the certainty of scripture) have either left or been asked to leave. I began to believe that where there is smoke, there is fire, and again I looked at all the sources of information I was able to find. A couple of points raised serious doubts in my mind as to the sincerity of the school’s position:

1) Why have no emergent professors left the institution or been asked to leave? Why is it that only those with conservative viewpoints are no longer affiliated with the university? And I suppose, first and foremost, why are there even professors with emergent leanings even employed by the university? If their position is the complete inerrancy and certainty of scripture, why are they employing individuals who do not share these views?

2) Why does Dr. Brown, the university president, include known emergent books on his reading list for the students to see without any type of disclaimer?

3) Why does the university invite known emergents to speak in chapel under the guise of exposing the students to other viewpoints? Chapel is for spiritual growth and teaching, not a learning experience for apostasy. I understand the need to teach these things, but these teachings should be done in the classroom, not in the chapel forum.

I am still at a loss of who or what to believe. I would like to believe that Cedarville is firm in their unwavering stand for the truth, especially since I am an alumnus of the university, not to mention that I am sending tens of thousands of dollars a year to the school for my daughter’s education. The only thing I am sure of at this point is that I will be watching this situation very closely from all angles and that I will be praying for them that they truly do stand for what is right and will continue to do so. There is a spiritual warfare going on in Christian circles and we need to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (NKJV, 1 Peter 5:8).

Some interesting links:
http://www.cedarville.edu/academics/avp/truth/
http://www.cedarvillesituation.com/
http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/protect/academicfreedom/investrep/2009/cedarville.htm

A Book Recommendation:
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception by John MacArthur

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The point of Gitmo

Scott at Powerline has some good insight on an excellent post by National Review's Jay Nordlinger - Mr. Nordlinger specifically addressing the left's success at altering reality (at least the way reality is presented). Scott continues this by analyzing camparisons of Guantanamo to Nuremburg.

One Obama quote stood out to me in a way that Scott did not really address:

"It is my firm belief that we can track terrorists, we can crack down on threats against the United States. But we can do so within the constraints of our Constitution. Let's take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that in previous terrorist attacks, for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated."

Scott goes on to show what Obama's contention was untrue, but even if it were, it misses the whole purpose of Guantanamo. Here's the money line: "the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial."

Obama is contending that it is sufficient to prosecute terrorists after they have completed their mission - a mission to take hundreds, thousands or millions of American lives. The purpose of our soon to be ex-President's anti-terror policy is to apprehend, interrogate and neutralize terrorists before they succeed in mass murder.

UPDATE: It also misses the point that the detainees are not US citizens - hence they have no rights under our constitution. Nor do they belong to any parties to the Geneva Convention.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What is a human life worth?

In the Twilight Zone episode "Button, Button", a couple answers a knock at the door to find a stranger holding a small wooden box with a button on top. The stranger informs them that if they press the button, they will receive a large sum of money but someone they do not know will die. After agonizing for days over the box, the wife presses the button (over her husbands objection).

The next day, the stranger returns and gives them a briefcase full of cash, and informs them that the button will be reprogrammed and given to somebody they don't know. (queue ominous music)

While the story above is wholly implausible, it does beg the question of the value placed on human lives. From society's perspective, is there a dollar amount that makes the loss of some unspecified individuals life acceptable? This is a tough philosophical issue to resolve - especially for someone who believes that human life is special - that our creation in God's image places human life above the life of His other creatures. However, logically, there must be some dollar amount at which the loss of a random life is tolerable.

I bring this up in light of a recent push to ban all forms of cell phone communication while driving. As it turns out, hands free communication is no safer than holding the phone to one's ear. The National Safety Council attributes "636,000 crashes, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths each year" to cell phone use (hands free or not).

The problem is that in today's society, instant communication has become a necessity for doing business. Taking phones out of the hands of drivers would result in a large hit to our nations productivity - a negative at any time, but especially in the midst of recession. The common response is that we cannot place a value on human life.

This is certainly an understandable and completely human response - and it is good that we feel that way. However, if we actually believed that no expense was to high if it "saves lives", we would be required to:

1) Impose 10 MPH speed limits on our highways - or ban cars altogether - and planes too
2) Ban swimming pools, boating and 5 gallon buckets since between 3-4000 people drown yearly
3) Ban all forms of electricity (maybe the Amish are on to something)
4) Limit all buildings to single story

In short, we aren't able to list all the policies required if no expense was to great to "save lives" (sort of ties in with Joe's post last week). The rules would be endless and productivity would grind to a halt - but the lack of productivity would also cost human lives. Modern society has produced all sorts of things to save and extend life. State, National and World economies are complex things - no individual or group of individuals would be able to sort out all the causes and effects of a given policy. It would be impossible to calculate all the consequences of a given policy - or even track them once it has been passed since nobody can see every ripple - and those affected by those ripples don't see what started them.

One thing we do know from history - free society's tend to enjoy longer (and healthier) lives than unfree.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Open Topic Tuesday

You down wit' OTT?

Time's yours.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why is labor different?

The resource that every single individual on the planet has at their disposal is Time. Every single one of us are allotted 24 hours every single day. In a free society, we each get to choose how we allocate this resource. We can use it for resting, recreation, or we can sell our time to another individual (or group of individuals) in exchange for another resource - usually (but not always) currency.

As discussed in Friday's post, labor (or the use of one's time) is economically no different than any other commodity. When the cost of labor increases, the demand for it decreases. When cost of labor goes down (if that were ever permitted to happen), demand increases. But for some reason (probably multiple reasons) we view our time differently than other things.

Most of us would never consider our time to be LESS valuable than what we are currently getting paid - and would take offense to even the suggestion of cuts in pay, benefits or anything else. On top of that, when salary disputes are out in the open, public opinion most often sides with the employees - with the possible exception of sports or entertainment industries.

Taking a look at our national (or local) economy, one would be hard pressed to find a single commodity that they would consider under priced. I rarely hear anyone (outside dairy producers) bemoaning the fact that milk is so cheap. But when it comes to labor, we expect (and often legislate) employers to spare no expense when it comes to their employees.

Unfortunately, regardless the cause - our belief that labor is different than other commodities does not change economic reality - and for an individual - and a nation - can often extend hardship in times of rising unemployment.

Here's a partial list of reasons for this mindset (I'd love to hear your additions):

1) The belief that things we own are inherently more valuable: As indicated above, dairy farmers are the only people that believe the price of milk is low. When it comes to our own labor, we are the sellers in the transaction and so we feel we are being shorted - and can sympathize with others in the same business (of selling their labor). Proverbs 20:14 sums it up nicely "'It is good for nothing', cries the buyer; But when he has gone his way, then he boasts" - This also shows when individuals are the purchasers of labor - people rarely believe that contractors are charging them to little for services.

2) The belief that our salary reflects our intrinsic value as human beings: If my employer were to approach me about a pay cut (or worse - a layoff), in my gut, it would feel as though they were attacking my personal worth. Even though this is not the case at all any more than switching landscapers makes the guy that used to mow your lawn any less valuable as a person - it still feels that way.

3) The belief that businesses exist to employ people: Employment is a side effect of business - one of many transactions that occur in the course of producing and selling goods and services. However, many - consciously or not - believe that employment is a right. Employers OWE them a job - after all, what else is a company good for.

Until we get out of this mindset and accept labor and compensation as simply a business transaction, it will be tough navigating through the coming times. In the face of layoffs, we need to do what people do when they have difficulty moving a product: consider ways to improve it while at the same time, determining the proper price point - even if that price point is below what we're used to.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Saving the Children of Tomorrow: the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

It is amazing that anyone can make it out of childhood these days with hidden dangers lurking around every corner. The newest level of protection for America's children is in the form of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Under this law, starting February 10, 2009, all products intended for children 12 and under must be tested for lead. While this sounds like a good idea, and something that is important for the safety of children, law makers failed to consider one major ramification of such a law: clothing for children under the age of 12.

Retailers of such items across the nation will now be required to test them for lead and phthalates. This is an expensive process that most small children's clothing businesses will not be able to afford. Additionally, thrift stores and second hand stores will not be able to afford to test all the donated clothing and therefore will be forced to shut down.

These added government regulations designed to protect Americans are having the potential side affect of putting a large financial burden on those with lower income levels, or on those seeking to save money by purchasing used clothing. They will no longer be able to buy used clothing on ebay, goodwill, salvation army, and various other thrift stores.

These types of laws are a product of a government who thinks that the American people are too stupid to be able to function on a daily basis without their intervention. A possible reason for this perceived stupidity is most likely a product of the endless litigation instigated by individuals who failed to exercise common sense and suffered the consequences. Because many Americans do not accept blame for anything and are always looking for someone else to be at fault, they put themselves in a situation where they make themselves out to be an idiot. There are warnings on hair dryers to inform users that it is dangerous to use them while bathing. There are warnings on coffee to tell us that it is hot. There are attempted law suits against the fast food industry because people don't know that excessive consumption of fast food fare can result in accumulated fat deposits all over the body. What happened to common sense? Doesn't common sense tell us that using a hairdryer (or any electrical appliance) while bathing could result in electrocution? Doesn't common sense tell us that coffee is hot and that it will burn if spilled? Doesn't common sense tell us that obsessive quantities of eating will cause weight gain? It is no wonder that those in office (many of whom are former lawyers or have law degrees) think that the American public is too stupid to walk and chew gum at the same time.

As of the posting of this article, it appears as if there will be a reprieve for used clothing and toys, thus saving the second hand sales industry. However, this reprieve does nothing for the small businesses who will now have to spend their profits on having this testing performed on the clothing they sell. This will translate into higher prices for their products, and fewer people that are able to spend the extra money to pay for the inflated price of the clothing. Additionally, the increased prices and less demand may force these small businesses to close their doors. This will have an inpact on our entire economy, because there will be fewer small businesses paying taxes, which will result in a lower income for the government. Then the employees of the small businesses will be forced to file for unemployment therefore increasing the demand for government handouts.

Do our elected officials even read the bills that pass across their desks? Do they even consider the ramifications of passing such laws? It would seem that they do not.

**A special thanks to Melodie for bringing this new law to my attention!**

Doing Nothing

On the news page, I questioned why "doing something" is always considered better than nothing. That is most certainly not the case. There are plenty of policies (as in the case of the Great Depression) that would make the situation worse than doing nothing. In order to determine which actions would be appropriate, a proper assessment of the situation is required.

The main focus at this time is the rise in unemployment - currently at 7.2%. What this boils down to is that as a nation, we have a surplus of time on our hands. Time is a commodity like anything else - and when we have more of it, its inherent value is less - meaning that people (and groups of people) are willing to give up less in exchange for your time.

At the same time, we are (at least for now) experiencing deflation - meaning that the prices of goods and services are dropping.

In a nutshell while things aren't good (high unemployment isn't good by anyone's book), it's not awful, we have a situation where people are either short of cash (or afraid of being short in the near future - and thus unwilling to part with it), but at the same time, the cash they DO have will purchase more goods than it used to. If the government were to do nothing - and publicly announce that we were just going to grit our teeth and ride things out - things would over some period of time return to normal. Simply knowing what the playing field is going to look like under the next administration would allow individuals and businesses to start playing again.

Unfortunately, with trillion dollar stimuli rolling out every few months, along with continued calls to action, people are hesitant to produce and consume since the the rules could change several times a year. Eventually, we will come to the point where the federal government will no longer be able to meet is debt obligations. After all, raising taxes won't help if nobody has any income to tax. At this point, the only solution would be to crank up the printing presses.

By printing out more money, the treasury will have the cash to pay back their debts - but the price for the nation will be drastic inflation. With money in greater supply, the cash that you and I hold will be worth far less than it is today. So not only will many be without jobs, they will be without jobs, and be able to buy far less with the cash they still have.

What's worse than high unemployment? High unemployment coupled with inflation. Clearly doing nothing is better than this proposal. I'm often of the mindset echoed by Ronald Reagan in that the nine most terrifying words I can here are "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help'

All that said, there are a few policies that would address our current woes:

1) Minimum wage: As stated before, unemployment is a surplus of labor. If I am having trouble selling other goods like gasoline, produce, appliances, cars, etc, I lower my asking price until people are willing to purchase them. Why is do we never consider lowering the price of labor until people are willing to purchase it?

2) Labor laws: If the gas station owners in an area were to organize, set a minimum price at which they were permitted to sell their gas and kick out any who did not agree with my terms, they would be guilty of collusion and in violation of the law. However, why is the UAW permitted to be the only organization to sell labor to Detroit? This is nothing other than collusion backed by law.

3) Tax cuts in stead of credits: One of the announcements in Obama's proposed stimulus is $300 billion in tax "cuts". However, they are actually tax credits. It may seem like semantics, but there is a difference. A tax cut reduces the amount you are required to pay. Tax credits give federal money to the taxpayer whether or not they paid any taxes to begin with. By crediting individuals who haven't paid any taxes, the government is already spending money it does not have.

Founders Friday.... finally

I guess I'll break into the new year by posting my normal weekly blurb about the founding fathers. It's been quite a while since I've posted on this blog so maybe I'll make a new years resolution to start writing more. I promised my wife that I wouldn't blog from home, and I'm usually too busy chasing my nine month old son around anyway. Parenting is fun.

Enough about me, today I'd like to give a "shout out" to a little known founding father named Roger Sherman. Sherman was referred to by John Adams as "That old Puritan, honest as an angel". Besides having an unwavering testimony for Christ, Sherman is best known for his orchestration of the Connecticut Compromise. by July, 1787, the constitutional convention had deadlocked over the issue of representation. The big states, led by James Madison, had proposed that both houses of the legislature be represented by population (giving the bigger states power over both houses of the legislature). The smaller states had countered with the New Jersey plan, which was basically a throwback to the equal representation of the articles of confederation.

The delegates debated endlessly until Mr. Sherman stepped forward and suggested that one house be represented equally and the other house be represented by the population size of the state. Of course not all of the states were excited about this compromise, but it saved the constitutional convention by allowing the delegates to move on, and it balanced the representative power between the big states and the small states. Balancing power is one of the principles that made American government different from most other governments throughout history. Thank you Roger Sherman.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Root causes

The notion of "root causes" has always intrigued me - specifically when and where we are supposed to look for root causes.

Starting even before 9/11, we've been lectured that the existence of terrorism is a symptom and that we must seek out the root cause of their hatred for the West. Of course we are not permitted to even entertain the notion that the root cause could lie in the heart of terrorists and terrorist organizations themselves.

The only possible place that such a root cause could exist (so we were told) is in our own policies. Whatever policy changes were trotted out (most notably our support for Israel, the gist was the same - if they hate us, the problem MUST lie in ourselves.

Contrast that with the lack of any sort of intellectual curiosity regarding root causes when it comes to our nations current economic woes. While the lions share of the blame for the financial woes of individuals, lenders, and auto manufacturers lies within themselves, there is little if any discussion in the mainstream about what sort of policies brought us to this point.

The fact that Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac have been continualy pressured by their government sponsor for decades to back riskier mortgages with the intention of providing homes for low income families or that the auto industry has been forced since the 70's to sell large quantities of vehicles at a loss to meet mandated fuel efficiency standards barely gets any play.

Instead, we hear our president speak of the need to "save capitalism" and the NYT declaring that capitalism has failed without even so much as a glance in the direction of domestic policy.

One of the reasons for this disparity is the control issue: Our government has no authority or control over Islamic terrorists - human beings can't stand not being in control. This causes many to fantasize that this somehow must be about us and if we only make the right changes, they would grow to love us. Placing the root cause within the US permits the government to save the day by enacting the correct policies.

On the flip side, our own economic issues are well within the purview of our government. This allows pro-government exercise their control via more policies.

Another (an probably the biggest player in this question) is that looking for root causes in domestic policies would cast an unfavorable light on policies that had noble goals. Getting low income families into homes and reducing pollution are laudable causes, and it would highlighting the side effects of noble policies would cause people to look more critically at the noble policies of today - and there are plenty.

Foreign policy has for some time been fairly absent of nobility (as viewed by the elite), so there is little danger in prodding that ground when it comes to foreign policies proposed by the intelligentsia.

In the end, those questing for root causes have it all backwards. When it comes to foreign policy, regardless of any potential "root causes" we cannot afford to let terrorists dictate what our policies should be. Seeking to satisfy an enemy that not only has no qualms with the destruction of innocents, but actually takes delight in it would have the same effect as paying kidnappers or pirates. If peace is sought, we must reward peaceful behavior.

When it comes to domestic policy, studying "root causes" is essential for formulating future policy (or disbanding failed policy). Otherwise, we are continuously running around chasing lumps in the carpet.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Liberty vs. Security?

Here's a little amateur political theory for you. This is just some general food for thought, only the frame for a debate. You're welcome to draw your own particular conclusions in your comments, if you like.

Perhaps you've heard of the old idea that, in political systems, liberty and security are inversely proportionate. In other words: as a people's liberty increases, their security must decrease, and as a people's security increases, their liberty must decrease. To put it another way, the citizens of a country may have to accept a more powerful government (= less individual liberty) to secure their collective safety. This is the concept I'd like to discuss. (If this idea is old hat to you, I apologize for this over-simplified rehash).

Probably the first thing that jumps to your mind to illustrate this equation is the Patriot Act. The government gains increased ability to spy on us in order to keep us safe. According to the equation, if we limit the government's power to tap our phone lines or search our emails, we become freer, but less secure. Right now, we're not allowed to take lotion onto an airplane. Lost liberty, right? But more security. These are some simplistic examples of how the idea works.

Have you ever heard anyone say that totalitarian states are more efficiently run and are more capable of securing the safety of individual citizens than are free countries? This idea comes from the liberty vs. security proportion. My dad knew a woman who was a former citizen of Nazi Germany. Once, after hearing Hitler criticized, she protested: "at least in Hitler's Germany you could leave your bike out in the street and no one would take it!" A similar statement is that "Mussolini made the trains run on time." And the laws that Napoleon instituted, for example, have been among the longest-lasting and most stable in France's history. So, citizens of totalitarian states are more secure, but less free, right?

I could continue piling up thoughts and examples that seem to support the liberty vs. security idea, and on a certain level, the proportion is true. We do relinquish "liberties" to secure our safety. But is there another way of thinking about the relationship?

A few observations to complicate the debate:
(1) "Liberty" is a complex idea, perhaps too complex to always fit neatly into an equation. The very concept of liberty already implies law, restraint, and security. Liberty is not the same as anarchy or total licentiousness. For everyone to have liberty, each person's sphere of liberties has to stop where another person's begins. When we understand liberty this way, liberty is not opposed to security at all. I can't have liberty without the law that protects my liberty. The best liberty has just the right mixture of law and order already guaranteed within it.
(2) People need to have a certain level of liberty in the first place in order to safeguard their own security. In the totalitarian states from the examples, there may have been more stability than under a revolution, but no one, not even the toadiest rule-keeper, could be guaranteed security from the arbitrary whims of the dictator and his bureaucracy. In America, we are free under the law even to protect ourselves against factions in our own government: we have the liberty to participate in the legislative process, and even to take the government to court. Private property and the right to bear arms may fit under this second provision as well.

I guess the main thoughts I'd leave you with are these: on some level, we do have to decide what is the right balance between our "rights" and our safety. At the same time, liberty is all-important and all-consuming. Properly understood, liberty for all already contains security for all. You can't have true, dependable security without liberty. (We do have to draw a line, to decide what laws best ensure essential liberty, but I would call it "defining liberty", not "liberty vs. security". From this perspective, we give up the right to carry lotion on planes because we want to ensure liberty and security. It's more than semantics: the idea that liberty and security are somehow opposed is misleading.)

What are the practical implications of all this gobbledy-gook? Not sure. Is it possible to wage a modern-day war without infringing on our citizens' essential liberties, for instance? It should be. Are there any "rights" that we currently prize that shouldn't be protected as essential liberties because they encroach on other people's spheres of liberty and security too much? Your thoughts?

Open Topic Tuesday

The floor is now open.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Waking from the Christmas slumber

I hope everyone had a good break, I know I enjoyed some time with my family.

Regardless, it feels a bit lame for my first post of the new year to be a link, but I had spent quite a bit of time on my post, only to see that Tom over at Radio Free NJ discussed much of what I had planned (plus a whole lot more). Please head on over and read - I couldn't have put it together nearly as well as he does.