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...