I salute Don Surber for saluting LATimes writer, Charlotte Allen: “Keep your self-righteous fingers off my processed food.” ThreeSourcers should love it -- it has it all:
1) A great picture of a burger!
2) A blow for modernity and its foundation in affordable food. Allen:
The most zealous of the spend-more crowd, however, are the food intellectuals who salivated, as it were, at a steep rise in the cost of groceries earlier this year, including such basics as milk and eggs. Some people might worry about the effect on recession-hit families of a 17% increase in the price of milk, but not Alice Waters, the food-activist owner of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse restaurant, who shudders at the thought of sampling so much as a strawberry that hasn’t been nourished by organic compost and picked that morning at a nearby farm — and thinks everyone else in America should shudder too.
3) A closing whack at the elites who want us to sacrifice other things (cellophanes and Nike shorts are suggested) to meet their standards of behavior. Surber:
It is about being elite.
And you cannot be elite if everyone else has what you have.
When the rest of us schlubs have a car just as good as them — when we have food just as good as them — when we have appliances just as good as them — then the elites come up with an excuse to take it all away from us.
N. Gregory is surprised at the controversy and comment that his post on SAT scores and income correlation generated.
I say "surprising" because I almost did not post the piece at all, thinking that it was a bit pedantic and pedestrian. In other words, a big yawn. I did not think my point about omitted variable bias was particularly new or controversial.
I suspect he was not even counting ThreeSourcers. But I segue to a post of his today, and my suggestion of a hypereducated US Aristocracy. He is selecting 15 students out of 200 applicants for an economics seminar -- and finds it not so easy:
That means that getting into my seminar is about as hard as getting into Harvard--except that you first have to get into Harvard before you can even apply!
Having spent much of yesterday reading through the applications, I fully recognize how difficult and somewhat random such admissions processes are. I could fill almost the entire seminar with kids with perfect SAT scores (2400), but I won't, as there is more to life than test scores.
The obvious solution is to auction off the slots. The last book in his impressive reading list is Russ Roberts's "The Price of Everything." But I'm not going to be the one to mention it...
I do wonder how many of the 15 Harvard students with perfect SAT scores came out of public education, but I am willing to be surprised. By the way, he does link to a paper that he claims backs up his suggestion on adopted children that I questioned.
I think the operative phrase is "who is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee " Having a toothless quasi-legal proceeding against him protects him from a real prosecutor, and from answering any questions. I saw him on Kudlow early on. The charming chair cannot possibly answer any questions as it would compromise the ethics committee proceedings. But, these are just wild allegations by partisan NY papers. No merit, et cetera.
Perhaps if MSM sources started to make demands, he could be in trouble -- but what's the intrade contract on that -- three cents? A powerful, charismatic, African American, Democratic leader is not a pleasant target for the Katie Courics of the world.
He'll ride it out. As will Senator Dodd. No matter how many times Instapundit reminds us of the little Irish cottage.
Insty links to two Below The Beltway posts today, One asserting that "Yes, Virginia (and the other 49), President Obama will raise taxes on the middle class." I know ThreeSourcers will be stunned at the unexpected news.
The other compares Candidate/Senator Obama's assertions to Candidate/VP GHW Bush's famous "Read my Lips" moments. He's got YouTube clips of both, which is fun.
But he suggests, and Professor Reynolds implicitly endorses, the idea that this will be as big a problem for President Obama. To which I say "Balderdash!" (sorry for the strong language). Nobody in the world actually believed Obama when he said that. The collectivists in his camp enjoyed using it to silence those of us who could add, but they knew their "promises" of more government were likely to be kept and, well, if he had to renege on one, it would be taxes.
Candidate Bush -- on the other hand -- was a Reagan heir, and he was reassuring the GOP faithful that he had been baptized in the Lafferian Waters and could be trusted. Stephen Moore documented the failure in 1987. Some folks had actually believed his pledge.
Too cynical? Surely the GOP will try to make the comparison -- but without the underlying sell out, I don't think they'll get much traction
Among one of the more touching tributes to Senator Kennedy has to be this clip where a friend recalls that Chappaquiddick was among the Good Senator's favorite topics of humor.
If we had a passenger die next to us while we were driving, who among us would not find it a topic of great laughter for years to come? According to his friend, Kennedy "could see the ridiculous side of anything." I'm sure Mary Jo would agree that it is ridiculous.
Mankiw accuses them of omitted variable bias (emphasis his): ignoring that the SAT outperfomers got genes from folks who were smart enough to earn a high income (cf Nicholas Mankiw, I suppose). While I do not disagree, he closes with a throwaway line that adopted children would not fit the curve.
I had the occasion to teach some young people web programming last weekend, and I have been thinking a lot about this. Those students have very bright parents, for sure, but they have also had the benefit of a local private school that stresses academics. I know two other young people who "blow me away" with intelligence and academic acumen, and they have both had private schooling for what I suspect to be a good part of their careers. (Of course, the parents I know happen to be braniacs.)
I expressed concern that the execrable quality of public education is setting up for a two-tiered society where the privately educated will so far exceed the norm that we will have a new aristocracy. I know some very bright kids who have come out of public education but I don't see that they are able to compete on this level.
Thinking out load here. I reserve the right to delete this post if I come to regret it. I have not done that in six years, but I might...
I didn't know if there was a quorum around here interested in Don Luskin's editorial on Flash trading and the ensuing contretemps. I assumed those who were interested were probably already up to date from Luskin's site and the WSJ.
But it has taken a turn into the philosophical today, as Luskin's coauthor has answered their critics with a smart response. While regulators think they live to make markets "fair" any non-coerced market is intrinsically fair. Hynes talks of making markets efficient, which is my interest. Capital markets don't exist to make people rich, they exist to direct capital to its best use.
Free markets don’t require equality of information. They require an absence of coercion, and protection against fraud. Free markets allow people and firms to develop expertise which create competitive advantages. Users of free markets who don’t care to develop expertise can still benefit from them. Wal-Mart customers, with no sourcing skills of their own, benefit from Wal-Mart’s efficiencies in the form of lower prices.
Twenty years ago, retail stock traders had to call in orders and wait 20 minutes or more for reports. They might miss markets due to the lag between their broker getting an order and the order getting to the post. They could not have their bid or offer shown on NASDAQ. Spreads were a minimum of an eighth of a point, and often more. Today they can go to the web, enter an order and get an execution in seconds.
Follow this link to read the Hynes defense, which I think makes great reading whether you have read the rest or not. If you want to put your geek hat on, that post has links to the original editorial and Luskin's response.
Blog Brother Cyrano sent a link that I wish I had posted yesterday. I am claiming coinage for the title word, though I am not sure when it will be used again.
But August 27th was the 150th anniversary of the first American Oil well -- and if that's not a better cause for celebration than Labor Day, I'll drink a quart of 10W30. IBD Ed Page:
On that day in 1859, Edwin Drake struck black gold with the first commercial oil well — creating an industry that would provide the lifeblood for modern civilization.
And yet no one seems to care.
In previous generations, the birth of the oil industry was celebrated, and deservedly so. Oil has sustained and enhanced billions of lives for more than 150 years by providing superior, affordable, ultraconvenient energy — and is as vital today as ever.
I celebrate modernity today and link to an extended, director's cut of my favorite TV commercial (embedding disabled, sorry!): Putting the 'No' in Innovation!
John Stossel links to videos of some very non-clunkerish appearing cars scheduled for demolition.
Are these "clunkers?" Can it really help the economy to destroy perfectly good assets?
Of course, destroying assets does not help an economy. The politicians who defend Cash for Clunkers remind me of the silly people who said that the rebuilding that would come after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina would “stimulate” the economy. What they forget is that the money for rebuilding —and the cash-for-clunker money—is forcibly taken from people who would have used that money to create other things.
I'm still surprised that I cannot work up at least some fake nicey-nice for Senator Kennedy. But I can't. Read the Michael Kelly GQ piece I linked to in a comment.
Besides tirelessly advocating for collectivism, he had an intrinsic cruelty. We saw it directed against George W. Bush, after he had bent over backwards to accommodate and credit Kennedy for No Child Left Behind. We saw it against Judge Robert Bork as Brother br reminded. But the patrician, aristocratic assumption that everybody poorer or less powerful than he was there for his own personal amusement is unforgivable.
He's the great sage of NOW and NARAL for his abortion advocacy, but appears to think little of molesting, mistreating (killing?) women. Nope, he's a right bastard -- I could not wish the pain on anyone, but I am glad he is dead before he can transfer more liberty from me to him and his well connected friends.
Sorry to go on, I really have discovered darkness in my heart that I was not aware of.
Nick Gillespie gives a more nuanced if only slightly more positive evaluation. I like the title/subtitle of his Reason piece: "Ted Kennedy and the Death (Hopefully) of an Era. The controversial senator belonged to a different age, one ill-suited to today's increasingly decentralized world."
Bigger was better, and government at every level but especially at the highest level, had to lead the way. In an increasingly flat, dispersed, networked world in which power, information, knowledge, purchasing power, and more was rapidly decentralizing, Kennedy was all for sitting at the top of a pyramid and directing activity. In this way, he was of his time and place, a post-war America that figured that all the kinks of everyday life had been mastered by a few experts in government, business, and culture. All you needed to do was have the right guys twirling the dials up and down. As thoughtful observers of all political stripes have noted, this sort of thinking was at best delusional, at worst destructive. And it was always massively expensive.
Consider No Child Left Behind. In the guise of giving students and parents the ability to opt out of objectively failing schools, it instead ramped up federal education spending (by more than 40 percent) to unprecedented levels; additionally, it has imposed significant costs on state and local budgets. More than that, it has mired public education in even more bureaucratic rigaramole. At the same time, it has accomplished nothing toward its stated goal of "closing the achievement gap" between lower-income minorities and white students. Something similar holds for the Americans with Disabilities Act, whose passage created vast new legal and governmental procedures that have impacted virtually every aspect of American life, all without actually increasing the income or workforce participation rates of the disabled. The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, another law in which Kennedy played a major role, is the very definition of an explosively expensive government boondoggle that shuffled tax dollars from the relatively young and poor to the relatively old and wealthy.
@mkhammer says this may be the best no-parody ad evah. You, too, can move into a $930 progressive group house:
THE CURRENT HOUSEMATES
There are four males and one female currently living in the house. Two of the people in the house are people of color. There is one couple. We are two vegetarians, three omnivores. We rotate Sunday night cook nights where we make a vegetarian dinner for everyone in the house. We like hanging out with each other occasionally but also do our own thing. We come from all different backgrounds, both culturally and geographically, and are interesting in maintaining and expanding that diversity with the new roommate.
Preferred roommate is a woman of color who is vegetarian friendly (but meat eaters are OK; veg friendly just means respectful of vegetarians). However, people of all walks of life will be considered if they seem like a good fit. We are especially seeking someone who has experienced and understands the pitfalls of group house life, and has ideas for making it a great place for themselves and others. More than anything else we want clear healthy communicators - keeping each other in touch with what's going on in our lives and our heads, and general upkeep of the house. We'd like to keep it a clean house but sometimes succeed at that more than other times.
Worst of all, Bernanke, Paulson and Timothy Geithner have continued the disastrous policy of sustaining bondholders and creditors of reckless financial institutions. Capitalism is a profit-and-loss system. The profits encourage risk-taking. The losses encourage prudence. The bondholders and creditors are the single most important check on imprudence. They care only about one thing: solvency. By making them whole, their incentive to restrain recklessness has been greatly weakened. This sows the seeds of the next financial crisis.
I feel sorry for Bernanke. In one sense, as the world's greatest living authority on the Great Depression, he is the best man for the job. But because he is the world's greatest living authority on the Great Depression, another catastrophic economic debacle of a similar magnitude would be particularly embarrassing were it to occur on his watch. I believe he has gone too far in the other direction.
We're not showing much love for a fallen Senator around here. I certainly believe that life supersedes politics and I would not have wished Senator Kennedy's health issues on him in a million Senate terms. All the same, I have opposed everything he has stood for. He has taken liberty from Americans and I am not in the mood to eulogize him.
Having said, that, I appreciate them what do. John Fund has some kind words:
Ted Kennedy and I didn't occupy much political space in common, but I always admired his ability to build coalitions for the things he believed in, assemble a first-rate staff and bravely represent a coherent point of view. He was also a man who would answer your questions forthrightly and then invite you to have a drink.
In his last months, he and his wife Vicky also found time to come to the aid of a fellow cancer sufferer -- my old boss and friend Bob Novak. He died only a week ago from the same type of brain tumor that felled Senator Kennedy. When the conservative columnist was diagnosed last year, Vicki Kennedy reached out to Novak with the lessons they'd learned about treatment. "He and his wife have treated me like a close friend . . . and urged me to opt for surgery at Duke University, which I did," Novak wrote in one of his last published columns. "The Kennedys were not concerned by political and ideological differences when someone's life was at stake, recalling at least the myth of milder days in Washington."
The loss of two great men I knew to the same disease in the space of a single week certainly fills me with a greater appreciation for the brief time all of us have on this earth.
Now, he is a little more professorial about it, but he links to a piece that predicts a $14 Trillion deficit over the next decade.
If you start with CBO’s more pessimistic baseline budget outlook of $7 trillion in deficits (by the way, the equivalent pre-policy baseline estimated by the Administration is $6.259 trillion), then add in the CBO-estimated cost of policies that have a good chance of coming true in the future (but aren’t yet written into law), you can come up with a projection that is perhaps more “plausible” than both the Administration’s (optimistic) $9 trillion and CBO’s (naive baseline-constrained) $7 trillion.
De Mortuis nil nisi bonum and all, I am suggesting that we name the debt in honor of the liberal lion himself: "The Senator Ted Kennedy Memorial Budget Deficit!" Got a ring...
Half century Senator for Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy, died of cancer last night. Terrible news for a family that has had more than it's fair share of tragedy.
Philadelphia's KYW1060 news radio is running segments of Pennsylvanians commenting on the passing of Senator Kennedy. The Governor, former Senator Harris Wofford, & dozens of other notables are given a couple of lines.
One Pennsylvanian not heard from?
Mary Jo Kopechne. (to steal a line from James Taranto)
Governor Rendell's segment was something to the effect of "because he didn't become President, he became a better Senator."
Jennifer Rubin has an awesome column, hoping that the GOP can take advantage of the libertarian interest that the Obama Administration has perhaps rekindled.
The contrast between the parties is especially great for young voters who were swayed to vote for the hip, young guy over the grumpy senior citizen in 2008. It turns out the hip guy wants to force them to buy health insurance, load debt and an enormous future tax burden on their backs, and raise energy prices. It’s not very 21st century. As Michael Barone observed after ticking off the list of statist policies at the core of the Obama agenda, “The larger point is this: You want policies that will enable you to choose your future. Obama backs policies that would let centralized authorities choose much of your future for you. Is this the hope and change you want?”
Great piece. Read it in full, especially if you are Michael Steele or are a Republican office holder.
Many serious journalists like to make light of bloggers. They like to compare the most marginal bloggers to the best professionals.
I can see both sides, but I don't see anybody in the MSM who did the work of Michael Yon or Michael Totten. Nor do they look at the bottom of the media. But I am.
Channel 31 is reporting the vandalism of a Denver Democratic Office, unapologetically giving the Democratic line, interviewing the office manager, who talked about heath care reform opponents and the quality of debate and yadda yadda...
I had my netbook out and Insty is already debunking it. Gateway Pundit reports that all is not as it appears,.
That's Don Surber's line (he's a good Twitter follow as well) as he reports Senator Feingold's saying that ObamaCare might not ever happen.
Let us review. Democrats own the Senate by 20 votes. Democrats own the House by 78 votes. Democrats own the White House.
And they cannot pull off Obamacare?
Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold told a townhall crowd on Monday in Mercer, Wisconsin: “Nobody is going to bring a bill before Christmas, and maybe not even then, if this ever happens. The divisions are so deep. I never seen anything like that.”
The people have spoken and they are not asking for more government.
I am delighted that President Obama has decided to reappoint Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve. While there is certainly room for reasonable people to question some of the specific decisions Ben has made, in general he has led the Federal Reserve System with humility, intelligence, wisdom, and grace.
I extend my congratulations to the President for a fine decision and my condolences to Ben for having the spend the next four years overworked and underpaid.
I am a little less sanguine but still pleased. Although my being pleased is more under the rubric of "happy he didn't appoint Maya Angelou."
Chris Edwards at CATO, gives RNC Chief Michael Steele, a well deserved whack. Steele goes straight for the Medicare demagoguery vote. Do not pass first principles, do not collect $200:
Steele uses the mushy statist phrasing “our seniors” repeatedly, as if the government owns this group of people, and that they should have no responsibility for their own lives.
Fiscal conservatives, who have come out in droves to tea party protests and health care meetings this year, are angry at both parties for the government’s massive spending and debt binge in recent years. Mr. Steele has now informed these folks loud and clear that the Republican Party is not interested in restraining government; it is not interested in cutting the program that creates the single biggest threat to taxpayers in coming years. For apparently crass political reasons, Steele defends “our seniors,” but at the expense of massive tax hikes on “our children” if entitlement programs are not cut.
Hat-tip: @ariarmstrong whom I've recommended a couple times this week as a great Twitter follow.
I have bemoaned the leftward, collectivist tilt of the Centennial State for years. Michael Barone thinks there may be some hope:
But now, Colorado seems to be going in the other direction. Gov. Bill Ritter, elected by 17 points in 2006 and seeking another term next year, is trailing former Republican Rep. Scott McInnis in the polls and runs only even against a little-known Republican state legislator. Michael Bennet, appointed by Ritter to fill Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's Senate seat, has a negative job rating and runs well under 50 percent against Republican opponents. Barack Obama's job rating in the state has been conspicuously below his national average -- closer to those of still rock-ribbed Republican Rocky Mountain states than the hip states of the Pacific Coast.
Campaigning, it turns out, is easier than governing.
Good piece. I gotta have something -- not much hope coming from the Broncos...
Senator Lieberman suggests that the President back off a bit.
WASHINGTON – An independent senator counted on by Democrats in the health care debate showed signs of wavering Sunday when he urged President Barack Obama to postpone many of his initiatives because of the economic downturn.
"I'm afraid we've got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy's out of recession," said Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. "There's no reason we have to do it all now, but we do have to get started. And I think the place to start is cost health delivery reform and insurance market reforms."
University of Chicago professor Charles Lipon takes up the banner of enabling a national market for health insurance. This has been one of my biggest hopes -- and it even got an endorsement of sorts from ThreeSources friend Silence Dogood.
The easiest way to see how insurance competition benefits consumers is to look at auto insurance. That's a huge, nationwide market and companies compete intensively for a share of it. Some stress their low prices, others customer service, whatever gives them an edge in the marketplace. Geico and Progressive have been especially aggressive in touting cost savings. State Farm and Allstate certainly compete on price, but they stress service after an accident. That's why Allstate says "you're in good hands," and State Farm says it will be there "like a good neighbor." Other companies, like SafeAuto, focus on drivers who want only minimum coverage to meet state license requirements. In short, auto insurance companies compete vigorously to provide what different consumers want, and they tell them so in national advertisements. Life insurance companies do the same thing. There are even companies that specialize in comparing policies for customers. Competition drives down excess profits and means better, cheaper options for consumers.
Ever see an ad touting health insurance? They are rare because the markets are small and companies don't need to compete aggressively on price or service. Introducing such competition would be good for consumers, wouldn't require another Washington bureaucracy and could be done quickly.
I have been waiting for somebody to accuse me of being a fair weather Federalist. Everybody loves States' rights, bit about everybody always seems to have an exception or two in their pocket. Hypocrisy is too pejorative and I am not suggesting a purity test or a census of pinhead-resident-angels. But I love to quote Justice Brandeis's "Laboratories of Democracy." And I salute those who have suggested that some of the facets of ObamaCare should be tried in States, where they could be abandoned after failure.
I know it would be one of the top three changes to health care that would make it accessible and affordable. I'd put it right after employer-tax bias and way in front of tort reform. Am I discarding my Federalist principles? My Tenth Amendment bona fides? What right does the Fed have to tell Vermont that they may not mandate aromatherapy coverage?
A good friend sends a link to an article that puts the C.A.R.S. program in perspective:
“Well, me and few of your other neighbors are tired of looking at Ted’s Toyota Tundra and thinking about all of the environmental damage that he is doing with that truck. So here’s our plan. We’re going to take up a collection. Once we get $4,500 or so together, we’re going to offer it to Ted on the condition that he use it to buy something a little less gas-guzzly. And since it is Ted we’re talking about, we know he won’t go for this deal unless we let him buy something short of an econo-box. Of course, he has to sell the Tundra as part of the deal, but we’ll see to it that the Tundra is scrapped so nobody else can inflict that truck upon this neighborhood again. So . . . can we sign you up for a contribution?”
President Obama has called for a serious and reasoned debate about his plans to overhaul the health-care system. Any such debate must include the question of whether it is constitutional for the federal government to adopt and implement the president's proposals. Consider one element known as the "individual mandate," which would require every American to have health insurance, if not through an employer then by individual purchase. This requirement would particularly affect young adults, who often choose to save the expense and go without coverage. Without the young to subsidize the old, a comprehensive national health system will not work. But can Congress require every American to buy health insurance?
The authors say that even by the most aggressive commerce clause precedents -- no way. After McConnell v. FEC, I gave up on the court's saving us. But there is a chance. There is a chance.
Then again, the authors point out that nationalizing health care would work -- just not the mandate.
Looks like he left things in even worse shape for the President than was previously thought:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration expects the federal deficit over the next decade to be $2 trillion bigger than previously estimated, White House officials said Friday, a setback for a president already facing a Congress and public wary over spending.
The new projection, to be announced on Tuesday, is for a cumulative 2010-2019 deficit of $9 trillion instead of the $7 trillion previously estimated. The new figure reflects slumping revenues from a worse economic picture than was expected earlier this year. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity ahead of next week's announcement.
Faced with this news, we will clearly have to spend more. I'm thinking another stimulus.
In case any of you were wondering why I wasn't stirring up trouble around here last weekend it was because I was stirring up trouble in the Williams Fork river area north of Silverthorne, CO instead. (I'm the one with only two legs.)
We camped next to a molybdenum mine. Funny thing, there was still plenty of wildlife.
I am just goofy enough that I would try to plow through HB3200. Silence inquired about it, and a Facebook friend whom I consider fairly non-political told me she read it coast to coast.
I want my legislators to read it, but I confess I have no intention. Call me names, but my opposition is not to details or percentages or cost thresholds -- my objection is to Federal intrusion into the private sector. Perhaps if they had included some GOP softeners like tort reform or interstate purchases, I might be interested. But I don't think there's one thing in those thousand-plus pages that I'd like.
There are many legitimate concerns raised by these massive plans, and what you hear depends on who you ask. If you ask men, they tend to be most concerned about the legislation's cost and the long-term effect of government controlling such an enormous share of the economy.
If you ask women, they worry about the risks of delayed care and the intrusion on their choices. If you ask the elderly, it is the idea of being pushed to quietly accept the pains of old age and settle for the palliative pill rather than the new hip.
All these concerns are real and matter. But the larger point is that Democrats aren't proposing a subsidy to enable people to get the care they need. Rather they want to shift decision-making authority from the American citizen to the government bureaucrat.
These proposals are yet another manifestation of the no-growth, redistributionist mindset, combined with an elitist, authoritarian philosophy of government. To buy into them and ignore the reality they've produced elsewhere is to love humanity more than human beings, and value utopian ideals of equity over the tremendous individual costs they inflict.
In these proposals, human beings aren't individuals with freedom to contract as they see fit and make their own best judgments, but interchangeable widgets for whom rules should be fashioned and enforced based on age, or quality of life, or some other metric. Bureaucrats would evaluate whether one is young enough to warrant a pacemaker or a hip, or sufficiently long gone from a hospital to justify readmission. Medicine would become a one-size-fits-all bureaucracy, not an art, in which the physician would face real risks for deciding that the bureaucratically approved "effective treatment" isn't what works in a particular case.
Chalk up a big win for the good guys! The NYTimes reports that the rich are getting poorer
But economists say — and data is beginning to show — that a significant change may in fact be under way. The rich, as a group, are no longer getting richer. Over the last two years, they have become poorer. And many may not return to their old levels of wealth and income anytime soon.
For every investment banker whose pay has recovered to its prerecession levels, there are several who have lost their jobs — as well as many wealthy investors who have lost millions. As a result, economists and other analysts say, a 30-year period in which the super-rich became both wealthier and more numerous may now be ending.
The dark days of the Bush Administration are finally past us.
Hat-tip: Don Luskin who worries that we are running out of rich people to rob.
Today's Latin lesson: Dirigo, meaning "I lead." It is the state motto of Maine and the name of their 2003 universal health care plan was DirigoChoice. I'll confess I thought it read "DingoChoice" as in "Dingoes Ate My Baby," but the name is even more prescient than that.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page reports that Dingo --er DirigoChoice has very similar elements to ObamaCare and was sold under very similar promises.
Despite the giant expansions in Maine's Medicaid program and the new, subsidized public choice option, the number of uninsured in the state today is only slightly lower that in 2004 when the program began.
Why did this happen? Among the biggest reasons is a severe adverse selection problem: The sickest, most expensive patients crowded into DirigoChoice, unbalancing its insurance pool and raising costs. That made it unattractive for healthier and lower-risk enrollees. And as a result, few low-income Mainers have been able to afford the premiums, even at subsidized rates.
This problem was exacerbated because since the early 1990s Maine has required insurers to adhere to community rating and guaranteed issue, which requires that insurers cover anyone who applies, regardless of their health condition and at a uniform premium. These rules—which are in the Obama plan—have relentlessly driven up insurance costs in Maine, especially for healthy people.
The Maine Heritage Policy Center, which has tracked the plan closely, points out that largely because of these insurance rules, a healthy male in Maine who is 30 and single pays a monthly premium of $762 in the individual market; next door in New Hampshire he pays $222 a month. The Granite State doesn't have community rating and guaranteed issue.
Perhaps, Dirigante. (They lead? did I get it?) The good people of Maine seek to lead us into the same quagmire of unfulfilled promises, market disruptions and unending expense that they have incurred.
Something for everybody in David Harsanyi's column today. Really, we cannot allow John Stossel and David Harsanyi to fly on the same plane. To lose the only two libertarians in media would be too much to bear.
Today, Harsanyi asks What Would Obama Do? And why does the left get away with moral imperatives and religious language that would be derided from, say, President George W Bush.
"I know there's been a lot of misinformation in this debate and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness," Obama said, invoking the frightening specter of the Ten Commandments.
On Team Righteous we have those who meet their moral obligations; on the other squad we must have the minions of Beelzebub — by which, of course, we mean, profit-driven child- killing, mob-inciting insurance companies.
Why wasn't this multi-denominational group of pastors, rabbis and religious leaders offended that a mere earthly servant was summoning the Good Lord in an effort to pass legislation? Certainly, one of the most grating habits of the Bush administration was how it framed policy positions in moral absolutes.
As CBS News recently reported, Obama has thrown around the name of God even more often than George W. Bush did.
To non-Centennial Staters, the Sobriquet "People's Republic of Boulder" is used non-pejoratively by Boulder residents. proud of their quirky reputation. It sadly speaks honestly to the government and electorate's embrace of collectivism and general nanny-statism.
It took the city council until 12:30 AM to get the five votes needed to limit house size, but they were able to move it on to the next step:
Generally, the council agreed that the ordinance should affect all residential zoning districts, and houses should be contained by "bulk planes" -- or invisible three-dimensional envelopes.
The leaders did not, however, agree on how much of a lot a house should be able to cover, or whether the amount of finished square footage compared with lot size should be used as a regulatory tool.
UPDATE: [johngalt] I found the rest of this story on the internet. "Under the proposed rules the maximum size for new or remodeled Boulder homes is as shown below."
I got a Kindle deal on the 40th Anniversary Edition of Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom." It is stunning to read something written in 1962 that appears fresh against today's headlines. Like Mises's "Socialism" and "Liberalism" it is full of timeless ideas.
I did not realize that Rose had passed away on Tuesday. The WSJ Ed Page offer a moving tribute to "the only one who ever won a debate with Milton Friedman."
"Our central theme in public advocacy," wrote Rose in "Two Lucky People," their joint autobiography, "has been the promotion of human freedom. . . . it underlies our opposition to rent control and general wage and price controls, our support for educational choice . . . an all-volunteer army, limitation of government spending, legalization of drugs, privatizing Social Security, free trade, and the deregulation of industry."
Giants walked the Earth; this one was less than five feet but a giant all the same.
Should he wade in again? Everybody is getting along so well. Oh yeah.
The WSJ Ed Page reports on a CATO study suggesting relaxed immigration to encourage economic recovery:
Using a dynamic economic model that weighs the impact of immigrants on government revenues and expenditures, the study seeks to quantify the benefits of comprehensive immigration reform versus the enforcement-only approach. It finds that legalizing the entry of more low-skilled immigrants would result in economic gains of about $180 billion annually to U.S. households. A focus on more enforcement alone would not only result in an annual net economic loss of around $80 billion, say the authors, but fewer jobs, less investment and lower levels of consumption as well. "Modest savings in public expenditures would be more than offset by losses in economic output," says the report.
The common assumption is that low-skilled Latino immigrants are displacing U.S. natives and driving unemployment. The reality is that these immigrants don't tend to compete directly with natives. They more often take positions in the U.S. labor market that go unfilled by Americans, who are increasingly more educated and have better job opportunities.
ATLANTA - U.S. life expectancy has risen to a new high, now standing at nearly 78 years, the government reported Wednesday.
The increase is due mainly to falling death rates in almost all the leading causes of death. The average life expectancy for babies born in 2007 is nearly three months greater than for children born in 2006.
The Internet is really one big segue machine. I wanted to blog about privacy of medical info with greater government involvement.
I took somebody to the doctor, and the patient was asked to provide a UA specimen for drug testing. It came with a questionnaire that was pretty intrusive. It turns out that neither the test nor questionnaire was required, but I couldn't help thinking that it contained several questions that I would be queaay answering.
Civil libertarians went apopleptc over a section of the Patriot Act that allowed government to snoop on library records. I can appreciate that's being problematic and feel I could take either side of that debate (I think it was pretty restricted). What I cannot accept is their telling me that library lists are unacceptable, but collecting drug use information is fine.
As they say, what could possibly go wrong? Breitbart::
WASHINGTON (AP) - A fifth State Department worker has been convicted of snooping into the passport files of famous Americans.
Kevin Young, a 22-year veteran of the State Department from Temple Hills, Md., pleaded guilty Monday to illegally accessing more than 125 confidential passport applications for celebrities, professional athletes and a politician.
An investigation began in March 2008 after officials discovered unauthorized access of the files for then-presidential candidates Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
I saw MoveOn.org's "answers to five lies about health care" on Facebook last week. It should have been titled "Five fallacious answers to straw men," but I digress. It got me thinking, a few days before I attended a party that would be chock-full-o-progressives, what my five complaints about health care reform would be: a little elevator talk against HB3200 as it were.
I found it hard to get beyond limited government and enumerated powers. I know we have stretched the idea of enumerated powers around some egregious legislation in the past 100 years, but it got me to wondering whether any "four horsemen" would surface. It also made me wonder why we read so little about any Constitutionality of Federally run, Executive branch managed health care.
Well, Instapundit links to a good post: Is ObamaCare Constitutional? Author Rob Natelson compiles a good list of concerns.
A major goal of our Constitution and Bill of Rights is to limit government power, especially federal power. National health care proposals would increase that power greatly, so it is not surprising that those proposals have constitutional difficulties. Whatever the merits of federal control of health care, moving in that direction is (as former Justice David Souter might say) a change of “constitutional dimension.” The proper way to make such a change is not through an ordinary congressional bill. The proper way is by constitutional amendment.
It seems quaint to even discuss whether something is Constitutional any more (after McConnell v FEC, what could fail?) but, truly if we stretch the Constitution somehow to include this, it ceases to be a framework for limited government and becomes only a document that says how old our legislators must be to hold office.
I enjoy reading Ann Althouse. Oddly, I don't read her daily, but I wait for Instapundit to link. I am going to have to change that that; she has an interesting voice, and I appreciate her rational reasonable style.
Today she massacres a post at "The Moderate Voice" blog which called for a boycott of Whole Foods based on John Mackey’s awesome guest editorial. I jumped when I first read the Mackey column, wondering how the Utne Reader crowd I see at the Boulder Whole Foods would react to Mackey's assault on Socialism. Mercy!
Althouse is right. though:
I'll bet the liberals and progressives keep going to Whole Foods, which is about a high-quality selection of goods sold in a pleasant, slightly posh environment. I don't think people are going there to make a political statement, and I don't think people will boycott it to make a political statement — or at least not to make a statement about their support for health care reform, which, you may note, people are not fired up about. People are fired up against the legislation, and Whole Foods may gain some new customers, but we longtime Whole Foods shoppers go there for personal benefit and indulgence (which may include of smidgen of feeling good about greenness and "fair trade").
She ends by saying the Whole Foods in lefty Madison showed no sign of reduced business in her last visit.
It is a great post and I highly recommend a read in full.
UPDATE: Randy Balko is going to try to take up the slack and shop more at WF. He makes a great point:
Let me see if I have the logic correct here: Whole Foods is consistently ranked among the most employee-friendly places to work in the service industry. In fact, Whole Foods treats employees a hell of a lot better than most liberal activist groups do. The company has strict environmental and humane animal treatment standards about how its food is grown and raised. The company buys local. The store near me is hosting a local tasting event for its regional vendors. Last I saw, the company’s lowest wage earners make $13.15 per hour. They also get to vote on what type of health insurance they want. And they all get health insurance. The company is also constantly raising money for various philanthropic causes. When I was there today, they were taking donations for a school lunch program. In short, Whole Foods is everything leftists talk about when they talk about “corporate responsibility.”
And yet lefties want to boycott the company because CEO John Mackey wrote an op-ed that suggests alternatives to single payer health care? It wasn’t even a nasty or mean-spirited op-ed. Mackey didn’t spread misinformation about death panels, call anyone names, or use ad hominem attacks. He put forth actual ideas and policy proposals, many of them tested and proven during his own experience running a large company. Is this really the state of debate on the left, now? “Agree with us, or we’ll crush you?”
These people don’t want a dicussion. They don’t want to hear ideas. They want you to shut up and do what they say, or they’re going to punish you.
I wasn't sure whether to do a Broncos post or not, but my segue just arrived via @theonion:
ENGLEWOOD, CO—First-year coach Josh McDaniels took some time out from training camp to familiarize himself with the Broncos' competition Tuesday, spending the afternoon on the league's official website to see what other teams were members of the National Football League. "There are way more than I thought there'd be," said McDaniels, who was "shocked" to learn that franchises calling themselves the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, and San Diego Chargers were not only in the NFL, but were actually in the same "division" as the Broncos. "I'd heard of the Steelers, obviously, but other than that, I thought it was just us and the Chiefs. Ooh, here's one called 'the Titans!'" When informed that there was an entirely separate conference called the NFC, McDaniels told reporters in the room to "get out of town."
It's Mister Bowlen's team, not a public utility, and I back his right to hire and fire staff. At the same time, I wonder how many people ended last season thinking "Jeez, that Cutler and Shanahan are really holding the rest of this super team back." I think that was just Mister B.
Still my team and there were some jewels in the sludge that was last night's preseason game. But I still think it could be a long year without necessarily being a long season. If ya catch my drift. Go Broncos!
Hey a good friend is preparing for a debate. He is taking the Angels' side of "Resolved: Cash-for-Clunkers is good for America."
It occurred that we did not give this monstrosity the disapprobation it deserved. He is loaded up with the Scrivener post (that I thought was superb). But we have not spoken much about it -- perhaps there was not enough difference for any internecine fun.
Anybody read any powerful arguments or encounter good factual information that would be helpful? Link in the comments, update this post or email me. Thanks.
Harry Reid: Protesters are "Evil-Mongers." Remember how Democrats and media made fun of Bush for talking about "evildoers?" But those were just terrorists, not people who, you know, opposed the Obama Administration's agenda. -- Professor Glenn Reynolds
Remember those anti-Bush bumper stickers that read, “He’s not my President”? Well, I am pleased to announce that we at the Independence Institute debuted our new awesomely awesome bumper stickers yesterday at the Mike Coffman townhall. They went faster than we could hand them out! Check it out:
After years of blocking legislation to require valid identification to vote and branding Republicans as "racists" for supporting it, some Democrats are apparently requiring photo ID to attend their town hall meetings.
In Texas, Rep. Gene Green's office is requiring town hall attendees to present a photo ID that proves they live in his district.
On his Web site, Green says "due to a coordinated effort to disrupt our town hall meetings, we will be restricting further attendance to residents ... and verifying residency by requiring photo identification."
Illegal aliens should be able to vote, but people angry with government should not be allowed to speak. Is this still America?
Scrivener compares fruit growers to the Post Office.
A couple days ago the ongoing near General Motors-scale financial collapse of the U.S. Postal Service was noted here.
Well, after posting that I went to the corner deli to get some lunch. There were lemons for sale, and I happened to pick one up and ask, "How much?" "For you, 35 cents". I put it on a scale, it was 5 ounces. That's 7 cents per ounce. Hmm...
That 7 cents per ounce paid for growing, picking, packing, shipping (a good long way, as few lemons are grown anywhere near Manhattan) and distributing the lemon still in fine, attractive-to-eat condition -- and for a profit for all the businesses involved along the way, from growing to final retail sale.
I bore my wife with these comparisons all the time (everyone else runs away). The miracles that free trade and comparative advantage have given us. Circuit City emails to offer a full size (not a netbook, though I still dig mine) laptop for $399. I just bought some 6' patch cables off Amazon for $2 each. These are miracles.
Instead, we choose the Post Office model for health care.
Shannon Love compares transportation costs to health care.
In 1900, most people walked to work, school, shopping and socializing. The percentage of the average household’s budget devoted to transportation was so low that the Census bureau didn’t even bother to collect data on it. Today, the average household spends 21% of its budget on transportation. It’s the second biggest single cost after housing yet people take such spending for granted and easily factor it in to their personal budgets. We do so because transportation costs rose slowly over the course of the last half century while other costs, such as food, decreased. Decade after decade we gradually became used to spending more and more for transportation till now the average middle-class family easily accepts spending several thousand dollars a year in transportation costs.
Love goes on to speculate about the governmnet action that would be required if your employer funded transportation was suddenly taken from you. Great stuff.
In this case, I think that the political logic of an expensive new health care plan will push us faster and further towards price controls on key inputs, and somewhat hamfisted "one-size-fits-all" standard-of-care recommendations. I am reinforced in this belief by the fact that many of the people pushing health care reform are also enthusiastic proponents of . . . price controls on key inputs, and national standard-of-care recommendations. I don't trust them when they ask me to focus on just this bill right here.
They shouldn't trust me either. Except they should, because I'm being right out front about this. I don't want this bill, and I don't want any other bill that increases the number of people for whom the government pays for care. I may point out why you shouldn't want this bill, and I will try to be intellectually honest about it--i.e. focus on things the bill actually is likely to do, rather than "death panels". But I wouldn't like it any more if it was more like something you want. In fact, I'd probably like it less.
I have a background thread with a family member that was launched by the McArdle post I highlighted last week. Maybe she knows my niece, but it is funny how well she has followed and countered the objections I have encountered: on time, in order.
At the end of the day, this is a first principle on which I won't budge. I do not want more government involvement, however it is structured.
UPDATE: Her rationing argument makes the WSJ "Notable & Quotable:"
Robert Wright notes that "we already ration health care; we just let the market do the rationing." This is a true point made by the proponents of health care reform. But I'm not sure why it's supposed to be so interesting. You could make this statement about any good:
"We already ration food; we just let the market do the rationing."
"We already ration gasoline; we just let the market do the rationing."
"We already ration cigarettes; we just let the market do the rationing."
And indeed, this was an argument that was made in favor of socialism. (No, okay, I'm not calling you socialists!) And yet, most of us realize that there are huge differences between price rationing and government rationing, and that the latter is usually much worse for everyone. This is one of the things that most puzzles me about the health care debate: statements that would strike almost anyone as stupid in the context of any other good suddenly become dazzling insights when they're applied to hip replacements and otitis media.
The rationing is, first of all, simply worse on a practical level: goods rationed by fiat rather than price have a tendency to disappear, decline in quality, etc. Government tends to prefer queues to prices. This makes most people worse off, since their time is worth much more than the price they would pay for the good. Providers of fiat-rationed goods have little incentive to innovate, or even produce adequate supplies. If other sectors are not controlled, the highest quality providers have a tendency to exit. If other sectors are controlled, well, you're a socialist.
And these are just some of the falsehoods and misinformation peddled by President Obama yesterday. It doesn't even include his choice to sell Obamacare as The "Post Office" of Health Care Plans. No wonder so many Americans are skeptical. -- Heritage, in a blistering and comprehensive fact check of President Obama's "Pep Rally."
From the transcript of Obama's "town hall" in Portsmouth, NH today, President Obama answers a question from Ben Hirschenson of Ogunquit, Maine and also Bonita Springs, Florida.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you've been quoted over the years when you were a senator, and perhaps even before then, that you were essentially a supporter of a universal plan.
I'm beginning to see that you're changing that. Do you honestly believe that? Because that is my concern. I'm on Medicare, but I still worry that if we go to a public option, period, that the private companies, the insurance companies, rather than competing, because who can compete with the government? The answer is nobody.
So my question is, do you still as a -- yourself now support a universal plan or are you open to the private industry still being maintained?
OBAMA: Well, I think it's an excellent question. So I appreciate the chance to respond. First of all, I want to make a distinction between a universal plan versus a single-payer plan, because those are two different things. A single-payer plan would be a plan like Medicare for all, or the kind of plan that they have in Canada, where basically government is the only person -- is the only entity that pays for all health care.
Everybody has a government paid-for plan, even though depending on which country, the doctors are still private or the hospitals might still be private. In some countries, the doctors work for the government and the hospitals are owned by the government.
But the point is, is that government pays for everything, like, Medicare for all. That is a single-payer plan. I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter, because, frankly, we historically have had a employer-based system in this country, with private insurers, and for us to transition to a system like that, I believe, would be too disruptive.
So what would end up happening would be a lot of people who currently have employer-based health care would suddenly find themselves dropped, and they would have to go into an entirely new system that had not been fully set up yet, and I would be concerned about the potential destructiveness of that kind of transition. All right? [emphasis by jg]
So this is apparently some other fellow...
I am glad, however, to see him explain in the closing paragraph of the excerpt just what one consequence of single-payer healthcare would be. Bravo mister president!
LEBANON, Pa. – Jeers and taunts drowned out Democrats calling for a health care overhaul at town halls Tuesday, and one lawmaker said a swastika was spray-painted at his office as debate turned to noisy confrontation over President Barack Obama's plan. The president himself was treated more respectfully.
Hmm, sounds pretty serious. What was that about the swastika again? Yes, paragraph 15:
In Georgia, Democratic Rep. David Scott's staff arrived at his Smyrna, Ga., office outside Atlanta on Tuesday morning to find a large, black swastika spray-painted on a sign out front bearing his name. The vandalism occurred roughly a week after Scott was involved in a contentious argument over health care at a community meeting.
Clearly the work of NAZIS AGAINST REFORM. I don't see how a thinking person could doubt it. I am no Nazi, and to prove it, I am going to support National(ist) Socialist Health C -- oh, wait...
It is with deep sadness and great regret that I alert you to a purveyor of "fishy" information on the Democratic Health Care plan: my wife of 26 years, Riza.
She suffered a severe stroke in 2005 and used quite a bit of medical resources. She was flown to a different hospital in a helicopter. There she underwent 3 1/2 hours of brain surgery, weeks of Intensive Care and then transfer to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, where she spent two months.
We are both quite pleased that the physicians, facilities, and funding were available to someone of middle class means in the small town of Lafayette, Colorado. But here's the problem. She tells people that those funds, facilities and physicians might not be available under ObamaCare. She has told friends and family that she would not have survived in most countries with socialized medicine and that the care she received is threatened by the current Democratic Health Care Reform Bills.
What a load of hogwash, eh Linda? The President has made it abundantly clear on several occasions that the quality and availability of care will go up and the costs will go down. Clearly, all that is needed is some of that legendary government efficiency and all these goals will be realized. I am sorry that my wife accepts historical precedent and empirical examples over politicians' promises. Perhaps your re-education team can help her out with this.
Anyway, thanks for your time and give my best to the Speaker and Leader Reid.
A couple o' tales from the Mother Country, today. First up, Theodore Dalrymple's awesome Man vs. Mutt. Dalrymple (really British Physician and Adam Smith Institute contributor Anthony Daniels) takes up the case that John Stossel made in Canada: private veterinary care has a lot of advantages over a nationalised, public human health care system.
Selfishly, no doubt, I continue to measure the health-care system where I live by what I want for myself and those about me.
And what I want, at least for that part of my time that I spend in England, is to be a dog. I also want, wherever I am, the Americans to go on paying for the great majority of the world’s progress in medical research and technological innovation by the preposterous expense of their system: for it is a truth universally acknowledged that American clinical research has long reigned supreme, so overall, the American health-care system must have been doing something right. The rest of the world soon adopts the progress, without the pain of having had to pay for it.
The second story is not so light. It is the tale of a young woman who died in front of her 13 year old son because she could not get care in the NHS.
Debra Beavers, 39, phoned NHS 24 twice in two days before getting a hospital appointment. But a doctor gave what her family described as a cursory examination lasting 11 minutes, before advising her to buy over-the-counter medicine Ibuprofen.
She was suffering numbness in her toes, swelling around the ankle and leg pains. She contacted NHS 24, who took her details and said they would be in touch.
However, Debra's condition worsened and she began to suffer severe chest pains by the early hours of Sunday.
She rang NHS 24 again at 2am and requested a doctor. They instead booked an appointment for her at Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, later that day.
Darlene, 44, said: "We now think Debra was actually having a heart attack around the time she telephoned NHS 24. I spoke to her on Sunday morning and she said the pains were so bad, she thought she was going to die.
"She went to the hospital as arranged at 1pm and was back out in minutes. The doctor told her to go home and take Ibuprofen.
"She said he was very rude and, as she clutched her chest, told her 'Your heart is on the other side'.
My niece, responding to the Megan McArdle piece I forwarded, replied with the New Yorker article that shames McAllen, Texas, for providing too much care to people, clearly to line their pocketbooks. (To be fair to the article, the McAllen patients don't display statistically better outcomes from the more expensive care.) But one part of the article sticks out, and I was reminded by the story of poor Ms. Beavers.
I gave the doctors around the table a scenario. A forty-year-old woman comes in with chest pain after a fight with her husband. An EKG is normal. The chest pain goes away. She has no family history of heart disease. What did McAllen doctors do fifteen years ago?
Send her home, they said. Maybe get a stress test to confirm that there’s no issue, but even that might be overkill.
And today? Today, the cardiologist said, she would get a stress test, an echocardiogram, a mobile Holter monitor, and maybe even a cardiac catheterization.
"Oh, she's definitely getting a cath," the internist said, laughing grimly.
I remember thinking when I read it, that "if it were your wife, buddy, you'd demand 'a cath.'"
Pity Ms. Beavers wasn't in McAllen. She could have driven up the cost of care and the hospital could have charged her insurance for a catheter evaluation of her artery. Oh, and she would have lived.
Keith Hennessey links to a paper that calculates the hit workers’ wages will take under different health care scenarios. Hennessey adds, "In July the health care reform debate looked at the effects of proposed legislation on the federal budget. Congress needs to focus on the effects of their proposed policies on workers’ future wages." Hint: they ain't good.
The post does not lend itself well to excerpting, so I lifted this from a comment:
This is a devastating study for many health reform options now under consideration, and there are troubling consequences beyond those you cite. For example, if health insurance costs continue to rise, effectively crowding out real wage increases, and if reform fails to address the income and payroll tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health care, then income and payroll tax revenues from most labor income will be flat or even falling for many years to come.
The split of labor compensation as between taxable cash wages and non-taxable forms is one of the most important economic assumptions CBO and the Administration make when putting together their revenue forecasts. While Members of Congress and the press quibble over a tenth of a point more or less GDP growth, the real action in the revenue forecast is often the allocation of the income generated in the economy, especially the labor compensation split.
Every drug that's made is a gift from one generation to the next because, while it may be expensive now, it goes off patent and your kids will have it essentially for free.
Whatever the marketplace, if talented people are given resources they're going to keep driving us to having better, simpler, cheaper solutions to problems. And, by the way, if they come up with a better solution but it can't be cheaper—which, in the beginning, most things aren't—nobody says you have to buy it. -- Dean Kamen, holder of more than 400 medical patents (and inventer of the Segway), in a superb interview with Popular Mechanics
Acting with unusual haste, the Senate readied a $2 billion fill-up Thursday night for "cash for clunkers," the economy-boosting program that caught the fancy of car buyers and instantly increased sale...
I missed this yesterday, but my man, Mister Lawrence Kudlow, came out with a tepid and qualified vote for "KlunkerCash." But a vote for it all the same:
As a free-market capitalist who does not believe in artificial spending and pump-priming from Uncle Sam, I’m going to eat a little crow with the following statement: At this moment in history, if we’re going to use fiscal stimulus as Washington insists, I favor extending the cash-for-clunkers car-rebate program.
Larry goes on to cite the small pride tag (though I confess I am starting to weep at the argument that "only $2 Billion" has entered the lexicon of a nation with 300 million people). More importantly, he appreciates a psychological lift of Americans out shopping for new cars.
2009 KVC 2-Star Team Champion Horse: Mile High Vaulters' Sampson
Oh no, not another vaulting post!
This should be the last for a while folks. And why not? It carries final results from the 2009 Kentucky Vaulting Cup international equestrian event I introduced here last week. As the event began Sampson was featured on the front page of the Lexington newspaper, perhaps because of the novelty of his size (he was the tallest horse at the show.) But now that the show is over his photo was featured, albeit in a blog post, because of another attribute: Sampson was the horse that carried the championship vaulting team in the highest level of competition.
Mt. Eden Sun Team’s solid performance earned them a victory over the Woodside Vaulters, reversing the standing’s from Saturday’s one-star team competition. In the two-star team division, Mt. Eden scored 6.512 to Woodside’s 6.154.
The Mt. Eden Sun Team members are: Kenny Geisler, Tasha Thorner, Alicien Thrasher, Kalyn Noan, Lizzie Ioannou, Heidi Rothweiler and Makayia Clyne. Jessica Ballenger is the coach, and Jodi Rinhard [sic] longed Sampson. They were also the American Vaulting Association 2009 A team national champions.
One of the reasons this post is so many days after the fact (other than the hay harvest I just finished) is I was waiting for a video of the team freestyle to be posted somewhere. Do you think standing on the back of a cantering horse is impressive? How about standing on the shoulders of someone else who is standing on the horse! It's called a "stand on stand." Check it out.
Also, TIVO ALERT - Sampson and several Mile High Vaulters will be featured on Denver's KUSA, Channel 9 'Colorado & Company' program tomorrow, Friday, August 7 from 10-11 am Mountain Time.
Cash for Clunkers: Robbing Peter to buy Paul a hybrid, then destroying Paul's old car so that Peter's young son can't buy it to get to work. Then paying lots of government bureaucrats to administer the program. Followed by victory laps.
I'm a huge fan of Dr. Deepak Lal of UCLA (I might have mentioned that once or twice...).
Here is a seven part (little over an hour) video lecture at the Adam Smith Institute on what caused the financial crises. It might not knock 30 Rock off the air or anything, but I found it enthralling.
A real DNC ad, presented without comment (well, except for snarky headline):
UPDATE: And a quote of the day:
There is a certain irony in an administration denouncing ordinary Americans who get together to express what they believe and to confront authority, when that administration is led by a man who began his career as a community organizer, whose job, as I understand it, is to take ordinary Americans, get them together to express what they believe, and express demands against the authorities.
So it's unbelievably hypocritical. And, of course, as we just heard, this only happens when you have a conservative protest. It is called a mob. If it’s a liberal protest, it is called grassroots expressing themselves. -- Charles Krauthammer via NRO
The A.V. Club: How do you feel about Barack Obama becoming the de facto president of General Motors?
I think it’s a really, really bad idea. It’s one of these situations where Dad burns dinner, so you say, “Oh, I know. Let’s have the dog cook!” The only people that could possibly be worse at running a car company than the current crop of car executives—who have proven themselves to be plenty bad—would be a politician. -- P.J. O'Rourke
Said friend of ThreeSources also shared the IBD Editorial with congressional representation:
Dear Mr. Walz,
I am glad to hear you are worried about the spiraling cost of healthcare. In this context, I am sure you will be interested in reading the analysis published by one of your predecessors, former Congressman Tim Penny. He points out in this article from Investors Business Daily that the cost of healthcare in the segment covered by Medicare and Medicaid has far outstripped the rise in costs among those covered by private health insurance and has far outstripped rises in costs in other areas government spending.
"If in the 40-year span from 1968 through 2007 Social Security went up 25 times, Medicare 85.5 and Medicaid 105.9, why did the total federal budget increase overall only 15.3 times? What held the budget back?
It was largely defense. Defense outlays rose from $82.2 billion in 1968 (or 46.1% of the total budget) to $547.9 billion in 2007 (20.1% of the total budget). In dollars, that is an increase of a bit less than 6.7 times. "
He goes on to point out that not only would the proposed plan be fiscally irresponsible but it would inevitably slow progress in medicine and discourage the best and brightest from entering the field. As I pointed out in my previous letter, I am a physician who specializes in a rare treatable, but incurable form of cancer (multiple myeloma). Survival among patients with this cancer has doubled since 2000, but the new medicines are very expensive. I am worried that a system that will inevitably lead to government rationing will jeopardize the quality of care my patients receive. The most effective medicines for this cancer are not routinely available in Canada or Europe. I implore you to vote against any bill that includes a "public option" that will inevitably drive up costs, reduce quality and drive private health insurers out of business.
I link to another Megan McArdle post. Not to antagonize any of my favorite commenters, but because she hits another home run. I mailed the other post of hers to several left-leaning friends and received a great response. As I expected, it forced some supporters of National Health Care to question different aspects.
A universal element in the response was criticism of pharma firms' "spending more on marketing than R & D." Take it away, Ms. McArdle:
This makes about as much sense as saying that Dr. Jerry Avorn cannot be that smart because his brain only weighs about three pounds. Presumably, you can't be really smart--really innovative--unless your brain is at least 30 percent of your body weight!
This is obviously ludicrous--so why would Dr. Avorn say it about an R&D department? Like your brain, the R&D department is part of a complex system that does a lot of important stuff. You can argue that the R&D department is the most important part of a company, not least because it couldn't survive long without it. I think the same thing about my brain--but I'd still be just as dead without my liver. You certainly can't prove anything about my effectiveness as a journalist by pointing out that it weighs less than my bones.
So how big should a "brain" be? Hard to say. But let's look at some companies that are generally recognized as pretty innovative, and their R&D as a percentage of revenue:
Apple: three cents out of every dollar
Google: ten cents out of every dollar
Intel: fifteen cents out of every dollar
Genzyme (innovative biotech startup!): sixteen cents of every dollar
US Government: three cents out of every dollar
I can assure Dr. Avorn that any venture capitalist would be happy to invest in these hidebound laggards who haven't had a new idea in centuries. The first few, anyway.
All great! Hat-tip, Prof Mankiw who was taken by the line " But the fact that he mistakes his ignorance for a fact about the universe makes me wonder if pharmacoeconomics is what my college boyfriend's roommate used to do with a few grams of cocaine and a copy of Mankiw's Principles."
Jeffrey Anderson takes to the IBD Editorial Page to wonder why, with all the rhetoric aimed from the Obama Administration toward the rich, why the brunt of the ObamaCare burden will be allowed to fall on the middle class:
A two-tiered system would then emerge: The very rich would take their spots like first-class passengers on the Titanic, paying for fine care and not asking the price. The rest of us would take our spots in steerage class, awaiting the inevitable collision between government-run health care and the iceberg of budgetary disaster.
White House budget director Peter Orszag recently opined that "the deficit impact of every other fiscal policy variable" is "swamped" by the deficit threat posed by Medicare and Medicaid. President Obama's solution? A massive new Medicare-like program!
Professor Mankiw boils the health care debate down to a false bifurcation:
Why do these two smart commentators reach such opposite conclusions? The essence of the difference, I think, is that Paul [Krugman] is mainly concerned with universal coverage and is happy to put off discussion of the government budget constraint to another day, while Keith [Hennessey] is focused on how the reforms will be paid for and, in particular, on the administration's claim that a major goal of health reform is to put the government on a more sustainable fiscal path.
A large part of the policy debate boils down to this: Are you more worried about the problem of the uninsured or about the long-term fiscal imbalance?
If that is the choice, we've all lost. Surely Congress will be able to find some gimmick to "pay for" universal health care, as important as it is to cover the (how many is it today?) 54 million uninsured.
If however, you focus on freedom, or an environment that is conducive to innovation, the argument frames a little more favorably to freedom lovers:
A large part of the policy debate boils down to this: Are you more worried about losing the freedom to pursue your family's best health care strategies or about protecting long-term innovation?
Few of President Obama's 2008 campaign pledges were more definitive than his vow that anyone making less than $250,000 a year "will not see their taxes increase by a single dime" if he was elected. And he was right, very strictly speaking: It’s going to be many, many, many billions of dimes. -- WSJ Ed Page
Imagine you’re a member of Congress. You’re a fan of the Cash for Clunkers program. You discover that the $1 billion that Congress budgeted for the program has been spent in FOUR DAYS. The program is now out of money. What do you do?
A. Realize that $4500 per clunker was too big a subsidy and that you can achieve the same effects with a much smaller amount.
B. Worry that maybe there is some fraud in the program and that some of the cash isn’t going to clunkers
C. Increase the budget by $2 billion
The correct answer for clunkheads is C, of course. That’s the wise choice when you are spending other people’s money. What fun that must be!
Hat-tip: @jives who wonders "I wonder how charities who take car donations feel about the Cash for Clunkers program?"
Scrivener asks the question: "The Cash for Clunkers "success" story: Crow about it? Or weep and cry woe over it?" Then he answers it, sublimely.
Just when you think you could not get more surprised, the victory lap being taken over this completely insane program should wake you up.
Scrivener provides a detailed, comprehensive, and very readable list of problems with legislation -- even scoring the extra points for quoting Bastiat's "Broken Windows Fallacy" (I guess Frederic was a Mac...) All in all a great link to send to those who praise the "stimulative effects" of this program.
I'll give the last word to Shelby Steele, who pens a stunning guest editorial in the WSJ. What a waste to run this awesome piece on Saturday. Steele writes a haunting comparison of the power of southern white women in the era of Emmitt Till to Professor Gates today.
Hat-tip to Don Luskin, who, like me, appreciated the coda:
Where race is concerned, I sometimes think of the president as the Peter Sellers character in “Dr. Strangelove.” Sellers plays a closet Nazi whose left arm—quite involuntarily—keeps springing up into the Heil Hitler salute. We see him in his wheelchair, his right arm—the good and decent arm—struggling to keep the Nazi arm down so that no one will know the truth of his inner life. These wrestling matches between the good and bad arms were hysterically funny.
When I saw Mr. Obama—with every escape route available to him—wade right into the Gates affair at the end of his health-care news conference, I knew that his demon arm had momentarily won out over his good arm. It broke completely free—into full salute—in the “acted stupidly” comment that he made in reference to the Cambridge police’s handling of the matter. Here was the implication that whites were such clumsy and incorrigible racists that even the most highly achieved blacks lived in constant peril of racial humiliation. This was a cultural narrative, a politics, and in the end it was a bigotry. It let white Americans see a president who doubted them.
Not from Perry, sadly, but from Ezra Klein and Ben Domenech. Dave @ Classical Values takes them to task and in the process makes some excellent comments that need to be made about free market health care. On Klein:
Finally, he invokes the left's gold standard non sequitur: "Pharmaceutical companies, for instance, spend less on drug research than on administration and marketing." What difference does that make? So do many, if not most, industries, and no one think the government should run them (this notion is discredited even in Communist China). As an argument for nationalization of health research, this is like saying "Mom spends more time watching TV than driving, so let's have the dog drive the kids home after soccer practice."
They [private pharma companies] do productization research, and only for well-known medical conditions that have a lot of commercial value to solve.
This is like complaining that farmers only grow crops many people want to eat, or car manufacturers only make cars that many people want to buy. This is Free Markets 101. Yes, it's tragic there are rare conditions that affect only a small number of people; it would be stupid and even more tragic not to focus on treatments that will benefit more people. This is why free markets work and command economies fail: efficient allocation of resources.