August 31, 2009

What's the Score?

Don Surber's Daily Scoreboard has Evil down to Good, 5 - 1.

No mention of Broncos, Bears, Cultler, or even 247 NHS patients dying of Malnutrition in British Hospitals.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:44 PM | What do you think? [0]

The Last Words on Senator Kennedy

From the Kissing Suzy Kolber blog.

Hat-tip: Jonathan V Last at Gallety Slaves

Posted by John Kranz at 5:39 PM | What do you think? [0]

Bon Apetit!

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.


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 3:24 PM | What do you think? [0]

More on Nicholas Mankiw's Boy

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.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 12:48 PM | What do you think? [0]

August 29, 2009

It's almost as if the rules are not equally applied

I simply cannot imagine that anything will ever happen to House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Charlie Rangel. Today, a few more shoes drop.

Rep. Charles Rangel claimed on mortgage papers that a Harlem brownstone was his principal residence -- even though he was living elsewhere at the time, The Post has learned.

When the Democrat -- who is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee -- took out the mortgage in 1990, he said the property on West 132nd Street was his "principal residence," records show.

But Rangel has been living since the 1970s in Harlem's Lenox Terrace apartment complex, where he improperly amassed four rent-stabilized properties.


Don Surber Tweets: Jail time for Rangel? http://blogs.dailymail.com/...

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.

111th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:53 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Why can't we get these guys the same way we got mobsters, with the IRS? If he lied on mortgage documents and illegally obtained rent controlled properties I am betting that all of this showed up on his income tax forms as improper deductions. Let the House Ethics committee put on their show of investigating ethics, but here in the real world the IRS can find real prosecutable offenses.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 30, 2009 11:03 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, we could sic the Secretary of the Treasury on him! No, wait...

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2009 1:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Is this so obvious that it need not be mentioned ... that Rangel is the chairperson of the Ways and Means Committee that WRITES the IRS rules?

Posted by: johngalt at September 1, 2009 12:04 PM

No, No, No -- people believed GHWB

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

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:11 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

No, but when we pointed out them that "yes, he will raise taxes".... they said, "no! no he wont!"

These individuals will not be held to account (see fall of Communism), but "they" will.

Posted by: AlexC at August 29, 2009 10:26 PM

August 28, 2009

Yukin' It Up on Chappaquiddick

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.

Rest in peace, Senator. You schmuck.

Senate Posted by Boulder Refugee at 9:36 PM | What do you think? [0]

Nature / Nurture

Who knew Professor Mankiw was a Bell Jar Guy? And a Pigou Club President, probably a birther and a flat-earther as well. Okay, I am teasing about all but the Pigou Club.

But he surprises me today with The Least Surprising Correlation of all Time. To save you a click it is SAT scores vs. Parents' Income.

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...

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:22 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

You can't throw it away - it's already archived!

For what it's worth, this is right down the line of The Refugee's thinking as well. First, a technology-driven society such as ours runs a serious risk of becoming two-tier. Effective education is critical to avoiding a technological aristocracy.

For what are likely political reasons, SAT score studies always try to correlate scores to race. I don't think I've ever seen one correlated to IQ which would seem to be the obvious factor. If we observe relatively-lower IQ whites/Asians getting higher SAT scores and relatively-high IQ blacks/Latinos registering lower SAT scores, then we'd be able to suspect bias factors or education factors.

Mankiw attributes the correlation between income and SAT scores to good genes. This could be true in some cases (or maybe even many cases), but I would suspect that it is relates more to valuing education. There is a direct correlation between education and income. Thus, high earners are more likely to value educution, encourage their kids in school, spend time on homework with them, get tutors, private schools or whatever it takes. Low income families may not have the time, inclination or ability, in the main, to do these things. I say in the main, because we've all heard of the father who delivered papers in the morning, mail in the afternoon and milk at night to send his kids to school, or the mom who worked two jobs but found time to enforce homework rules and read with her kids.

With respect to private schools, there is ample evidence that they consistently outperform public schools. Maybe that's because they start with dedicated, motivated families. However, they really make the most difference for the relatively average kid. A bright, motivated kid will be successful no matter what. Yes, a private school may optimize his/her ability, but these types can't be stopped. On the other hand, dull, unmotivated kids aren't college material no matter what you do. Private schools help average kids to achieve above average results and therefore open up additional opportunities. But because private schools are out of reach for 99% of poor families, the 1% beinglucky enough to get a scholarship, average-IQ poor kids will never have the opportunities that average-IQ rich kids do. The only solution is publicly funded private education, otherwise known as vouchers. Unfortunately, the teacher's union solution is to take opportunity away from rich kids rather than give it to poor kids.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 28, 2009 5:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I'd never erase a post with a thoughtful comment attached.

I was just thinking that my lefty friends always worried about "the digital divide" that bifurcates society by access to technology. Well they used to before the free market gave us cheap laptops. But there is a recurring theme that poor people will be relegated to a subclass because of X.

Yet they all support the NEA/AFT (most are members now that I think about it). And that is the one problem in America that lower income parents cannot avoid: a monopoly government schools education.

Surely you're right about engaged parents and motivated kids -- but what an incredible differential. And one that is openly tolerated by those who scan the landscape for minute instances.

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2009 5:50 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I am going to second BR’s opinion, even from my “lefty” perspective, although I have never been a supporter of NEA/AFT. The key here is parents who care. It doesn’t matter how much money they have or the genetic IQ the children possess, or even the school they attend. In fact, I would say that those three things work primarily to support (or replace) the direct involvement of parents. Replace in that the wealthy do have the luxury of simply paying someone else to care, via top-notch boarding schools if they so choose to have their children educated well without their involvement. On the other hand, there are just as many stories of low income students attending poor schools who excel due to attentive and caring parent(s). I have several good friends with children adopted from less than stellar situations such as the birth mother’s drug use. Their children attend public school and excel. The difference is parents who care to be involved with their children’s education. Private schools do indeed outperform public schools, but so do public charter schools. What they have in common is parents who care.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 30, 2009 11:39 AM
But s thinks:

I would really like to see a poll of teachers listing the factors they think would improve education. I believe even the staunchest union teacher would list motivated students with active parent support of education and discipline as the top factor. I would bet that it would beat out family income or school infrastructure or equipment by a sound margin.

Posted by: s at August 30, 2009 11:48 AM

Fairness and Efficiency

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.


Quote of the Day

Brother Johngalt's representative, I believe:

"There's going to be some people who are going to have to give up some things, honestly, for all of this to work, but we have to do this because we're Americans." -- Rep Betsy Markey (D - CO)

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Correctamundo. We're so proud!!

Thanks for bringing me the quote. Now I can juxtapose it with this one from a campaign mailer before the election. And I quote:

"I promise... I'll always fight to protect your hard-earned money."

(That was so instantly recongnizable as complete bullcrap that I've saved the mailer to this day.)

There were two other pre-election promises there but neither one of them was "I promise I'll make sure that some Americans will have to give up some things."

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2009 3:24 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Don't you remember?

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." - Hillary Clinton, 2004

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 28, 2009 9:14 PM

Petrosesquicentennial

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!

Happy Petrosesquicentennial!

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 10:18 AM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Pennsylvania, ahem..... to be sure....
they were drilling near Oil Creek, so it was a sure thing. ;)

Posted by: AlexC at August 28, 2009 1:36 PM

August 27, 2009

Showing ID at Townhalls

Awesome.

How dare you ask for ID at the polling place. How dare you. You racist.

But we have to show ID before asking a question of the !@#$!@ we voted for?


This whole townhall endeavor is not going well for the Democrats.

Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia, for the record.

(tip to JWF)

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Seeing that he wants us to prove that we have the freedom of speech and the right to redress, perhaps he in support of us showing ID at the voting booth too. Right?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at August 28, 2009 10:58 AM
But jk thinks:

I apologize for mdmh, I had no idea we had a racist here.

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2009 11:12 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And I apologize for jk not recognizing that, like "climate change denier" the term "racist" is a badge of honor. But by racist I mean human racist.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2009 3:07 PM

Best TV News Ever

ThreeSources, E! Network -- it's getting harder to tell them apart.

Being a Dollhouse fan on Facebook got me this excellent news:

SUMMER GLAU MOVES INTO JOSS WHEDON’S “DOLLHOUSE”.

ALEXIS DENISOF, JAMIE BAMBER, MICHAEL HOGAN AND KEITH CARRADINE MAKE GUEST APPEARANCES DURING SEASON TWO

Series Returns Friday, September 25, on FOX


O. Yeah.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 5:02 PM | What do you think? [0]

Monsieur Bastiat, Call Your Office

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.


Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 4:44 PM | What do you think? [0]

Twelve More Opinions

Kudlow asks the Caucus: "Did Obama Make the Right Choice in Re-nominating Ben Bernanke as Fed Chairman?"

It's 9-3 yes with some surprising party line ecumenism.

FOMC Posted by John Kranz at 1:55 PM | What do you think? [0]

MEP David Hannan

On bringing the NHS to Americ'r: "When you see a friend making a mistake, you tell him."

Good stuff! Hat-tip: Instapundit

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:36 PM | What do you think? [0]

A Fitting Eulogy

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.


Posted by John Kranz at 12:10 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Rather than shuffling tax dollars from the young and poor to the comparably older and wealthier, Medicare shuffles from the working and earning to the idle and spending. I once told my father that if individuals haven't earned enough to support their retirement, or have still earning children to support them, they have nobody to blame for their plight who isn't visible when they stand before a mirror. Their sole recourse should be to get busy and make up for lost time earning enough to support themselves. At the time dad said, "You're a hard man." Now I think he would agree with me.

I'd also like to voice the obvious, that the picture of centralized power with "the right guys twirling the dials up and down" that Gillespie paints is an excellent description of the Federal Reserve Bank system.

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2009 2:38 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

"Hey Hon," says I, yesterday morning, "Ted Kennedy died last night." "Good," says she.

Posted by: sugarchuck at August 27, 2009 3:04 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

JK, this is in fact an enlightenment that you have discovered -- exposure after his death has illuminated you to his evil. It's not darkness in any way, so feel better.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 27, 2009 9:28 PM

August 26, 2009

Female, Veg Friendly, Woman of Color Wanted

@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.

FUTURE HOUSEMATE
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.


But johngalt thinks:

I'd like to see the reality show where Ted Nugent goes in for an interview.

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2009 12:06 AM
But jk thinks:

Yup, sign up Michelle Branch and the buffalo head and I'm in!

Posted by: jk at August 27, 2009 11:58 AM
But Keith thinks:

By my count, there are nine places in that ad where you could insert the line "not that there's anything wrong with that!" and not damage the flow on the message.

Show of hands: how many of you were mentally fisking that as you read it? For instance - "keeping each other in touch with what's going on in our lives and our heads," and some occasional light vacuuming, and run the bong through the dishwasher once a week or so...

Posted by: Keith at August 27, 2009 12:41 PM

The Onion

WOW! I thought we were harsh:

'Kennedy Curse' Claims Life Of 77-Year-Old Tumor-Riddled Binge-Drinker

Posted by John Kranz at 5:11 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith thinks:

Wow - and there I was thinking it would be harsh to suggest Chris Dodd was going to have to settle for having his sandwiches served open-face. I feel like a total piker now.

Posted by: Keith at August 26, 2009 5:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Eeeew! If that woman is not scarred for life, Psychology has no foundation.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2009 7:11 PM

Second Opinion

Russ Roberts (buy his superb The Price of Everything for your favorite lefty college student who doesn't know any better than to be collectivist) is not quite as sanguine on the Bernanke pick as Professor Mankiw:

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.


Hat-tip: Jimmy P

Roberts -- like brother br -- fails to consider FOMC Chairwoman Maya Angelou, but he makes several good and persuasive points. I'm certainly up for a little backtracking.

FOMC Posted by John Kranz at 4:27 PM | What do you think? [0]

I'll at least link to love

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.


Posted by John Kranz at 3:45 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Well articulated, JK. Many on the right have been saying nice things about "Uncle Teddy," including Cal Thomas. I will take them at their word and do not wish ill health on anyone. However, I cannot forget Kopechne, Bork or the trashing of GWB right after "No child left behind." The man had a mean-spirited partisanship that I cannot overlook.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 26, 2009 4:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And yet, what effect would the proposed National Health Care law that the late Senator so coveted have on the cutting edge research being done to cure this pernicious disease? More and more dollars that could have paid for researchers' salaries and laboratory experiments will go to bureaucrats instead. And if a cure is actually found (I say "when" in these pre-Obama Care days) the government may well be loathe to prescribe it for a number of reasons - none of them good and none of them any of the government's business. The Kennedys and Novaks and George Gershwins of the world won't have to worry about that though. Government Death Panels wouldn't dare pull the plug on a celebrity.

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2009 4:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Fair and Balanced, I'll link to some non-love. Michael Kelly's devastating GQ article. That's the antidote for the fawning press we're all bracing for.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2009 4:38 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The GQ article was quite a read.

“Makes you wonder about the leaders of this country.”

Maybe I did once upon a time, but I've since learned what to expect.

“You know, Teddy's a grown man and he can do whatever he wants.”

That's the Kennedy attitude. It doesn't matter what the other person wants.

“They’re going to shoot my ass off the way they shot Bobby…”

A damn shame it didn't happen, if only for Mary Jo's sake.

“He could easily sink in a life of alcoholism and do-nothingism. He doesn’t have to do anything to get elected.”

Well, uh, he did sink into such a life.

“will murder you, he’ll roll right over you…He’ll trample you in the ground and then he’ll grind his heel in you.”

Or just drive you over a bridge into the water.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 27, 2009 12:01 PM

Professor Mankiw Says

We are in a deep shit!

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...

Posted by John Kranz at 3:38 PM | What do you think? [0]

BEAUTIFUL!

To the tune of 'The Candy Man'

"The government takes, everything we make;

to pay for all of their solutions;

Health Care Climate Change, Pollution;

Throw away the Constitution."

There's no embed option so you'll have to follow this link and click on 'The Government Can' for the video.

Hat tip: The Mike Rosen radio show, 850 KOA Denver.


Eleventh Amendment As Tort Reform

This great, VA service is coming soon to a hospital near you:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - At least 1,200 veterans across the country have been mistakenly told by the Veterans Administration that they suffer from a fatal neurological disease.

One of the leaders of a Gulf War veterans group says panicked veterans from Alabama, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming have contacted the group about the error.

Denise Nichols, the vice president of the National Gulf War Resource Center, says the VA is blaming a coding error for the mistake.


From Don Luskin who pairs it with a Paul Krugman endorsement.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:32 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith thinks:

And this is the government that they want to manage medical care for all the rest of us. Vote of "no confidence," anyone?

Posted by: Keith at August 26, 2009 1:20 PM

Liberal Lion Passes

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."

Yeah, I wonder why.

But Keith thinks:

Already bracing for a week of fawning media slobbering. I wish I could claim the following as original, but I understand it was penned by Jim Treacher:

"As long as the media is going to keep bringing up Camelot, I think it's only fair we get to bring up the Lady in the Lake."

Posted by: Keith at August 26, 2009 1:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Wanna go to Chappaquiddick? You drive."

KEITH! Welcome back brother.

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2009 2:10 PM
But Keith thinks:

Thanks, JG - been under the pile for the last two or three weeks with the day job, something of a blog war, and the new dogs. Perfect day to come off radio silence, as it were.

Kudos to Alex for the tasteful wording - "Terrible news for a family that has had more than its fair share of tragedy."

Posted by: Keith at August 26, 2009 3:34 PM

Hope Republicans Are Listening

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.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:09 AM | What do you think? [0]

Dear Leader Reid

A good idea from Hugh Hewitt:


$25 to defeat you, Senator Reid. I have MS and cannot believe that the Federal Government will do better at innovation than the free market.

Thank you for your time,
John Kranz

-----------------------------------------
Danny Tarkanian for Senate

P.O. Box 751271
Las Vegas, NV 89136

Email : contribution@tark2010.org

Thanks for Your Payment


Payment Detail Item Name Price Quantity Total
My Donation $25.00 1 $25.00
Subtotal $25.00


Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 25, 2009

Media and Blogging

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,.

But johngalt thinks:

Saw the girly man's photo at JK's Gateway Pundit link. Reminds me of the Steve Miller lyric from The Joker:

"Some people call me Moe-reese"

And just what is "the pompitous of love anyway?"

Cool!

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2009 3:44 PM

Blog Label of the Day

I'm thinking this is a new Award, but Ann Althouse grabs it. Call them Tags, Labels, Categories, whatever, this one is pretty good:

Labels: genitalia, Rush Limbaugh

Change. Hope. Impotence.

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.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:12 PM | What do you think? [0]

Intrade Pays on Bernanke Contracts

I have not looked recently, but I think those were a good bet.

Professor Mankiw is pleased:

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."

Posted by John Kranz at 11:36 AM | What do you think? [6]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Absolutely. Humility, intelligence, wisdom and grace are what you look for in a Fed Chair. Economic acumen, fiscal discipline and political savvy are totally over-rated.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 25, 2009 1:41 PM
But jk thinks:

I can't join you. I think Chairman Bernanke has ample economic acumen. You'd have to go back to Volcker to find a better Fed chair.

I've no doubt there are better choices (Bob McTeer would be mine) but my point stands that I do not trust President Obama to find one of teh better ones -- and he could easily do much much worse. All hail Helicopter Ben!

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2009 5:38 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee won't bite in the lesser-of-evils argument, as you're no doubt correct that he could have found someone far worse. However, under Bernanke, The Fed has become a supra-regulatory body accountable to no one. I cannot cheer that development in our Republic.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 25, 2009 9:04 PM
But limo hire thinks:

I your blog read and i think that you are not happy with obam's decision..

Posted by: limo hire at August 26, 2009 1:48 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Astute observation. Better alert the White House so they can track me.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 26, 2009 9:15 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Bernanke is certainly an intelligent man -- intelligent enough to have known better. He not only took over the wheel after Greenspan hit the gas pedal, Bernanke put the pedal to the floor. Let's assume the best case scenario, that all this new money created out of thin air won't cause inflation now, because aggregate demand is dampened in a recession, blah blah. We're going to pay for it later: unwinding this will be more painful than the early 1980s ever was, mark my words.

You can't even say that we need another Volcker to undo Bernanke's channeling of Arthur Burns and William Miller. Volcker was just as much a part of the inflationary policies until Reagan and his advisors came along.

I'm used to idiotic stock market analysis from the MSM, but yesterdy was particularly moronic. Crediting yesterday's "market rally" to the announcement of Bernanke's nomination to a second term? Ridiculous.

"Jesus, you can't make a buck in this market, the country's going to hell faster than when that sonofabitch Roosevelt was in charge. Too much cheap money sloshing around the world. Worst mistake we ever made was letting Nixon get off the gold standard."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 26, 2009 11:47 AM

August 24, 2009

Fair Cop, Guv!

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.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 7:14 PM | What do you think? [0]

Yet People Still Question Twitter...

How can you miss stuff like this?

michellebranch Ted Nugent gave me a buffalo head and in the process of moving it's now sitting on my floor waiting to be hung thus shedding everywhere. 31 minutes ago from web
michellebranch I have buffalo hair all over my white floor (don't ask) and they look like unkempt pubes. Gross. Sweeping now. about 1 hour ago from web
Posted by John Kranz at 4:46 PM | What do you think? [0]

August 23, 2009

Soldiers defending the Constitution

After defending against foreign enemies those domestic threats are just so much tissue paper. Hoo RAH.

This one may have been posted here before, but just in case...

Jeez, what is it with these soldiers and their "talking points" about the Constitution?


Hope for Home!

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...

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 6:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

Joe!

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."

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 6:13 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

This drives me nuts. First, it is tacit admission that the "reform" is going to be unbelievably expensive; it won't be less expensive when the economy rebounds. Second, even if we wait until the economy is again strong, we will eventually have another recession. Can we suspend healthcare at that point? Of course not - which means that it will make recovery even more difficult just as it would now. Bad idea now, bad idea in the future.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 24, 2009 10:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, yes, yes, and hell yes, br -- you are absolutely right.

I was just so happy to see a nominally Democratic Senator peel off for any reason that I posted this excitedly (note the 'bang!')

Opoosing the plan for the wrong reasons is pretty useful this session.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2009 5:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes but it's precisely that kind of unprincipled opposition to the ideas borne of bad principles that gets a guy like Lieberman in hot water with the loudest members of the Democrat base. So much so that bad-principled progressive Alec Baldwin has said he will move to Connecticut and challenge Lieberman's senate seat. Oh wait, never mind.

By the way, if Baldwin moved to Connecticut it would be from France, would it not?

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2009 3:28 PM

Fair Weather Federalist?

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?

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 4:02 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I believe this would fall cleanly within the Commerce Clause. The Feds can regulate interstate commerce for the purpose of forming a more efficient market, which is clearly needed here.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 24, 2009 10:17 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;"

Right now, the federal government is "restricting" my commerce across state lines, rather than just "regulating" it. This clause was not intended to give Congress supreme power over what goes across state lines, but rather to give Congress power in state-state disputes so that one state's government couldn't be a jackass. For example, California protectionists might get the legislature to pass a law prohibiting Florida oranges from coming in, or New Jersey might pass a law barring goods originating in New York just from passing through.

Yet no matter how well-intentioned it may have been, when has the federal government (or government at any level) ever made things "more efficient"? The only way government ever can is by staying the hell out.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 25, 2009 11:36 AM
But jk thinks:

Yes, br, I think it could pass Constitutional muster -- and I would love to see Wickard v Filburn used on my behalf for a change).

My question is more philosophical: why can't Vermont require aromatherapy coverage in its state? I want the Federal Government to dictate terms to a State, where there is clearly no Constitutional purview. That is fair weather Federalism and I criticize others for it.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2009 5:22 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

The heck with State's rights, (sorry JK)I see this as pragmatism pure and simple. People move among states, companies are likely to have employees in many states, it makes sense. The fact that insurance is a game of statistics means that it favors larger markets. I believe that a national market is a prime factor in other insurance industries ability to complete cost effectively. I want to own my insurance, I decide when to change and when not to and I don't want this limited by my zip code any more than my employer.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 25, 2009 10:49 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Silence, don't you want to look at it from a perspective of freedom?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 26, 2009 11:53 AM

Chump for Clunkers

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?”


Posted by John Kranz at 9:45 AM | What do you think? [4]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

As Bastiat put it, "See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."

Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain—and since labor is pain in itself—it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

...

But on the other hand, imagine that this fatal principle has been introduced: Under the pretense of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement, the law takes property from one person and gives it to another; the law takes the wealth of all and gives it to a few—whether farmers, manufacturers, ship owners, artists, or comedians. Under these circumstances, then certainly every class will aspire to grasp the law, and logically so.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 23, 2009 12:39 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

""See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."

Perry, might I ask you the source for this quote? The document or speech it was originally included in, I mean.

Posted by: T. Greer at August 23, 2009 1:29 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Yes, you may.

Pay attention to Sheldon Richman's foreword. I know Sheldon, and he does not give such praise lightly.

He wrote a terrific piece about the awful decision against Susan Kelo, and I reminded him that it was in fulfillment of Bastiat's opening: "The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!"

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 24, 2009 1:35 PM
But jk thinks:

The Law was my introduction to Bastiat and I recommend it highly. It is readable and relevant -- and other ThreeSourcers will appreciate an almost absolute absence of Economics.

Posted by: jk at August 24, 2009 5:26 PM

August 22, 2009

Freedom Rally

Un-American, astroturf mobster friends of ThreeSources:
mobber1.jpg


mobber2.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 1:53 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Where? When?

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2009 11:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Minnesota, yesterday I b'lieve...

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2009 1:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I sorta meant, was it at a townhall and whose?

Posted by: johngalt at August 23, 2009 6:55 PM
But jk thinks:

These kinda people just go wherever FOX News tells them to go, jg

Posted by: jk at August 24, 2009 10:58 AM

Put Me Down as a No

David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey in the WaPo:

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.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:57 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Good article. But isn’t it already law (I don’t know if this is state or federal) that a hospital must treat a patient in need regardless of their ability to pay? So, the healthy young person who chooses not to carry health insurance gets in an auto accident and arrives via ambulance at the nearest hospital for care, possibly very expensive care. The cost of this care could easily exceed this person’s ability to pay, even with enforcing of bankruptcy laws. At this point, who pays? In the end, me, as an insured person through increases in my health insurance or out of pocket costs. The medical facility will use what means they have to recoup their losses on the uninsured, namely higher costs for their services. So, instead of redistributing the young person’s wealth to the old through forcing them to pay for health insurance they rarely use, we will redistribute the wealth of those who choose to have health insurance to those who choose not to. This is the reason I see for requiring auto insurance, so the insured do not have to pay for the uninsured. The cost of this is quite obvious because most auto insurance plans have a specific item for uninsured motorist protection. We really have the same thing through the method I just described for health insurance; the cost is just more hidden. I wonder how that might change our health care debate if we all had a line item on our health insurance premium that paid for the uninsured?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 22, 2009 12:36 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
But isn’t it already law (I don’t know if this is state or federal) that a hospital must treat a patient in need regardless of their ability to pay?
Yes, this has been the case since the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act was passed in 1986. This applies only to hospitals that receive government money, whether "support" or Medicare/Medicaid patients.

The solution, then, is to stop forcing hospitals to accept everyone. Or better yet, to stop giving public money to hospitals, and then EMTALA will be moot.

The solution is NOT requiring insurance, but it would certainly be better if people treated health insurance like auto insurance. Instead of a sensible catastrophic plan (which my wife and I have), people think it's their "right" to get a policy that covers all routine care.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 22, 2009 8:26 PM

August 21, 2009

Damn that Bush feller!

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.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:00 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Fear not JK, ten year budget projections are notoriously inaccurate. Of course this could also mean the deficit could be $11 million by 2019. I think we are not having near enough children to pay this off – Go Octo-Mom!

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 22, 2009 12:43 AM

Big River

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.)

DSC_0241.jpg

We camped next to a molybdenum mine. Funny thing, there was still plenty of wildlife.

Horses Posted by JohnGalt at 5:07 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Great picture.

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2009 7:08 PM

'American Lie'

As in, "I lied, lied at every townhall in sight."

If you haven't heard this yet then you're missin' out.


Soak the Rich. Then Bash them too.

Speaking of segue machines, here is the follow-up to The Obama Administration: An Unqualified Success:

bash%20the%20rich.bmp


First Principles Health Care Reform Opposition

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.

Heather Richardson Higgins nails it:

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.


Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:38 PM | What do you think? [11]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

So spot-on, JG. But you don't necessarily have to have attended baseball games before to be denied future admittance. Lots of UK, uh, football fans are being denied just because of their age, even when they haven't attended games before (because of the long waits).

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 22, 2009 8:29 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
I could get coverage for myself and my older daughter, but my younger daughter and wife have auto-immune disorders and were simply not insurable. I got so frustrated I offered to pay whatever king’s ransom they might demand, but the answer was simply no. This has put a large dent in my plan to eventually strike out on my own and be self-employed.
I sympathize with your plight. Now, it's understandable that insurers won't want to take the risk on your wife and daughter, nor should they be forced into it. So you could try to put aside as much as you can in preparation for problems, except that government eats so much of our substance that we run as fast as we can only to stay in place.

Even someone self-employed doesn't qualify. You need to be enrolled in a formal high-deductible insurance policy, which you must buy only from within your state. And Obama dares to tell us that insurance companies are the problem?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 22, 2009 8:34 PM
But jk thinks:

If your insurance were not through your employer Silence, you would stick with the same insurer you had before the condition was pre-existing, so there is a private sector solution.

I'm gonna get yelled at here, but like Arnold Kling, I suspect a government solution may be required for un-insurable.

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2009 10:03 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Exactly JK, I would be perfectly happy with private insurance if I personally got to pick my level of insurance and the covering company. You are probably right on a government plan for the un-insurable, but the question then is what level of care does that plan provide? This is where health care borders on a "right" in this country. Going back to the baseball analogy, we accept the fact that the rich get luxury boxes and we get stadium seats, but when it comes to medical care too many want (even expect)the luxury box.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 23, 2009 12:36 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

A free market is not just the freedom to buy, but the freedom not to sell.

Government, by definition, is force. If you apply a "government insurance" to the uninsurable, you are forcing people against their freedom not to participate. One or both of these will happen:

1. Insurers are forced to provide services to those they didn't want to. They didn't want to because they believe (and most often correctly) that they will lose money on the deal.

2. Everyone else is forced to pay (we use the euphemism "subsidize") for the costs of a few.

Either, and especially both, are immoral and an affront to liberty. They're theft, even if it's done under the guise of "government."

Again, "See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime." So it's no different than if neighbors ganged up on the local insurance agent: "Give insurance to M. ____ or we will imprison you!" or "We require that you give __% of your income to pay for M. ____'s medical costs."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 23, 2009 12:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A bit of friendly, if unsolicited, advice: The minute you begin to think "a government solution may be required" keep thinking. The only reason it may seem like only government can solve the problem is that it took government "solutions" to get things so f___ed up in the first place.

The reason that responsible people wouldn't dream of going without health insurance is that health care is so abominably expensive (despite advancements that should make medicine less costly.) The biggest reason for this is the excessive regulation and liability burdens placed on the industry by ... government. Yaron Brook writes about this in detail, and Ron Paul told CNN's Kieran Chetry about it too.

I too sympathize with Silence's plight but if you think the government is here to help him and his family you are mistaken. (cf. Reagan, Ronald)

Posted by: johngalt at August 23, 2009 6:52 PM

The Obama Administration: an unqualified success!

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.


Dirigo

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.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey: Remember the Maine! Oh, that's good.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:36 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"The sickest, most expensive patients crowded into DirigoChoice, unbalancing its insurance pool and raising costs."

Wow, who'd have thought that would ever happen with a government program, that the people who pay the least will use it the most, while expecting The Rest Of Us (because we're "rich") to pay for them?

It's argued that private health insurance is the same kind of "racket," that it's still the healthy who pay for the sick. The difference is that you aren't forced into it. Fat chance with government-run programs.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 21, 2009 1:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And costs are controlled for the healthy by refusing to admit people who already have expensive *pre-existing* conditions.

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2009 3:37 PM

Harsanyi Home Run

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.


Awesome piece. Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: Ann Althouse storms into the debate. kickin' ass and takin' names!

Posted by John Kranz at 9:59 AM | What do you think? [4]
But T. Greer thinks:

Eh, I think this is just one of those "Only Nixon can go to China" things. Only liberals can provide moral imperatives. It is just the way our politics works.

Posted by: T. Greer at August 21, 2009 11:34 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm sure you're right. Perhaps the problem with President Bush is that people thought he actually did believe it.

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2009 12:52 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness"

There you go, he said it himself. Does this qualify as voluntary self-incriminating testimony at his treason trial?

"I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program." - Obama, 2003

"I have not said that I am a supporter of a single-payer system." - Obama, 2009

Yeah, he's consistent, all right, only in his lies.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 21, 2009 1:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Only liberals can provide moral imperatives. It is just the way our politics works."

This is because government is the church of liberals. For conservatives to invoke morality in government is as pointless as asking for a bat mitzvah in Mecca.

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2009 3:50 PM

August 20, 2009

Good times at the Coffeehouse

Brooke and I do the Mercer/Carmichael classic "Sylark." And my cousin from Tennessee fills the Tuesday guest slot.

banner4.gif

Fun, fun, fun: liveatthecoffeehouse.com


People's Republic of Boulder

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."

hippy%20bus.jpg

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 12:48 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

What utter rubbish. You should live in the Bay Area, where in any city or town you have the freedom to...oh, wait, bad example. How about New York City, where you can build a house or apartment building as tall -- ah hell, I give up!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 20, 2009 2:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Gettin' sad is it not?

Two words: Tex As!

Posted by: jk at August 20, 2009 3:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

UPDATE: 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 here.

Have I mentioned that I moved out of Boulder in 2003? Boulder's city council was one motivation for fleeing. I've personally talked with three of the four councilmen (err, "councilpersons") mentioned in the story. Of them only Matt Appelbaum has any semblence of a clue.

Here are a few more two word answers to this story:

Weld County
Red county
Rid X (lice killer, for the inexperienced)

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2009 10:11 AM

Requiescat in Pace

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.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I'm 9 for 9 with them on Rose's list but which way did she fall on freedom of abortion?

Miss me? :)

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2009 12:47 AM

August 19, 2009

CATO: Ricardo Right

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.


Huh, that Comparative Advantage thingy again.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 7:39 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Terri thinks:

The operative word you don't often use is Legal vs Illegal.
Illegal - not competitive.
Legal - definitely fair game.

Posted by: Terri at August 20, 2009 10:02 AM
But jk thinks:

The thesis of the linked article is to encourage President Obama to follow through on a campaign promise for increased legal immigration. Then you and I can both be happy.

From a raw economic viewpoint I don't differentiate because it is not important. I've said a million times that I seek the humaneness of legal immigration. But in its absence, I'll take illegal immigration over poverty.

Posted by: jk at August 20, 2009 11:45 AM

Life Expectancy Reaches All Time High

In the midst of a health care crisis? MSNBC:

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.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 7:35 PM | What do you think? [0]

August 18, 2009

Privacy

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.


Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:48 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 17, 2009

At Last, Somebody Asks!

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.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 7:36 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

JK, have you seen any good summaries of HR3200? I actually downloaded it last week and attempted to at least skim through to try to get some facts, but mostly ended up with eyeball whiplash trying to bounce around to all the sections referencing each other. Not to mention a lack of knowledge of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, the Public Health Service Act, and even the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 18, 2009 1:29 AM
But jk thinks:

Nope, maybe someone else has. All the summaries I have read are perhaps too agenda driven for your taste. It's funny that you use ERISA as an example, the WSJ Ed Page has done a great job on that. Erisa allows larger companies to offer the same plan across different states.

HR3.2K (sorry couldn't help it) dismantles Erisa but lets existing plans be grandfathered for five years.

So the true line the President should be using is: "if you like your plan and want to keep it, you can for five years, as long as you don't add or remove dependants, or change your name, or your employer doesn't immediately dump a plan it is precluded from adding any members to." Kinda loses its pithiness when you include this, I know. Maybe have one of those drug company guys read the fine print in the background while President Obama talks.

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2009 9:56 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Of course it's unconstitutional. That hasn't stopped the federal government before. The Constitution IS "just a goddamn piece of paper," as is any law that is not enforced.

Check qando.net, whose team has been doing the best coverage I've seen of proposed health care reforms. Even then, they haven't and couldn't possibly cover it all, but you can see additional details in comments. (Anyone familiar with Hayek can understand why this is so.)

Yes, they have their own agenda, but there's nonetheless much truth they expose.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 18, 2009 11:56 AM

There Once Was an Economist in Nantucket...

Professor Mankiw discovers pricing models during time off.

Ec10 students: completion of the limerick is left as an excercise for the reader.


August 16, 2009

Why They Hate Us

Girls in Bikinis reading Star Wars.

Stephen Green calls it "the greatest thing in the history of all stuff ever." I dunno, coffee is pretty good.

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Even were I not a married man, I'd have to say they're not "all that."

Good lord, I had to stop it at "That's no moon!" to prevent any more of my neurons from imploding.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 16, 2009 2:10 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Hmm. The girls are not unattractive... but then they destroy Star Wars. That is unforgivable. If you are pretending to be Han Solo, you have to at least try and sound cool doing it.

Posted by: T. Greer at August 16, 2009 4:14 PM
But jk thinks:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Tough Room! Damn!

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2009 10:01 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

What can I say? Those girls just cannot compare to Carrie Fisher in the slave girl outfit, and she definitely could act.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 17, 2009 11:22 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee has to go with PE on the Carrie Fisher scene - one of the best in the series!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 17, 2009 2:51 PM

Good Dog!

I love the triumph of ideas over party and personality. I consider ad hominem attacks to be the basest form of argument, and I find it intellectually demeaning to -- oh hell, I found this hilarious:

Hat-tip: Blog Brother ac on Facebook.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:42 PM | What do you think? [0]

Great Post!

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.


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:28 PM | What do you think? [0]

August 15, 2009

Coach McDaniels

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!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:53 PM | What do you think? [3]
But dagny thinks:

My opinion on the matter, although somewhat debated in this household, remains, "McDaniels is a Pinhead!" The Broncos had one of the highest ranked offenses in the NFL last year but the defense was a shambles. So what does he do when he gets here? Tear apart the offense and re-build from scratch????

As JK says, Go Broncos! But I'm afraid that I am less than optimistic this year.

Posted by: dagny at August 15, 2009 6:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The jury is still out on Josh McDaniels, and I'm not convinced that Pat Bowlen still has all his faculties. But Jay Cutler? Pinhead.

Sorry buddy. I used to be a fan.

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2009 1:23 AM
But jk thinks:

A pinhead with an arm, jg. And of course we missed you.

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2009 9:33 AM

PeeJay!

There's always some hope as long as there is P.J. O'Rourke.

It's the weekend, spend fifteen minutes watching this incredible Reason.tv video. Five stars!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:26 PM | What do you think? [0]

August 14, 2009

Link bleg

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.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:35 PM | What do you think? [11]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"At least this way some consumers get a new vehicle, dealers and their employees make money, and in general it would seem to support the capitalist system of selling cars better than direct bailouts. Sadly it seems I have already accepted that my takes dollars are going to be taken one way or another."

Silence, do you not see the contradiction in what you said?

It does not make the economy any better. Others have their new cars, dealerships have business, automakers have increased sales. And it's perfectly offset by the rest of us having money taken from us to pay for the program.

The thief and the recipients of stolen money may be better off economically, but those of us stolen from have less money -- meaning our side of the economy has diminished by an equal amount.

Broken windows.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 16, 2009 2:14 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Let me also add: if it's such "a great deal" for the space shuttle to be launched into orbit, then let private industry do that. Don't rob me for the sake of "exploration" and scientific experiments in space. If I think my life will be enriched by an international space station or testing frogs hopping in zero-grav, then trust me, I'll find a way to finance it.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 16, 2009 2:16 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Thanks JK, let's see if I can stay in the loop this time. Great article, I admit I had not thought through the effects of destroying those vehicles. I do think however the math is not quite so one sided if you use a more realistic $2000 trade in value. Then again he didn't factor in the customer's own tax bill. My overall taxes always hover around 20% of my income after all deductions are figured in, so taking that into account he will pay about $900 back on that $4500. Again I think of it as an auto industry bailout program, just infusing the cash at the bottom instead of the top. Nothing like a choice between two bad options.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 16, 2009 2:17 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Actually Perry I don't see my contradiction, my real point was not that it was in any way a good system, just that given the choice between it and bailing out the companies from the top I would choose this.

Can't argue on the "need" to have a space program at all, just that the economics of a custom toilet seat once you have already decided to blast into orbit is sound.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 16, 2009 2:24 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

There WAS another choice: it's called "Neither." There is no such thing as "the lesser of two evils" or "necessary evil" when it comes to government.

You can talk about benefits all you want, but the fact is that you're considering only what's happening to the new car buyer, the dealership. You forget what is happening to those of us who are paying taxes but do not (and in my case refuse to) participate in the "program." Bastiat's parable of the window, and his Candlemaker's Petition satire, explain this perfectly. If this program works so well, then why not require everyone to trade in a vehicle, no matter what? Imagine the economic benefits of having to produce 100 million autos each year.

There are no net benefits, of course, once you reason through the absurdity. Such a program is stealing from me, plain and simple. Theft. Your arguments of "efficiency" are irrelevant, except that a mugger might find it more efficient (in that he'd get more for the effort) to rob someone in a suit than someone casually dressed.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 17, 2009 11:45 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

One more thing. If you cannot see the inherent contradiction in what you wrote, then there's nothing I can do to help you.

"At least this way some consumers get a new vehicle, dealers and their employees make money, and in general it would seem to support the capitalist system of selling cars better than direct bailouts. Sadly it seems I have already accepted that my takes dollars are going to be taken one way or another."

A government program, using money that it implicity takes by force, cannot help a "capitalist system" in any way. That's the long and short of it.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 17, 2009 11:53 AM

Quote of the Day

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
Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Republican axis of evil: Iran, North Korea, al-Qaeda
Democrat axis of evil: Republicans, Fox News and talk radio

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 14, 2009 4:12 PM
But jk thinks:

-- and a certain former Governor of Alasks.

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2009 5:32 PM

Baristas are Back!

Tanned, rested and ready! Vacation is over and it's back to work for the virtual coffeehousers


banner4.gif

This week, one of my favorites, Jobim's "Dindi." liveatthecoffeehouse.com


August 13, 2009

Free Bumper Sticker

From Jon Caldera:

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:

NotMyDoctor.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 8:04 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Good stuff, but I couldn't put such a thing on our cars here. This is Westchester (read: very liberal), and I'd probably wake up one morning to find our cars vandalized.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 13, 2009 9:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But if they were vandalized then they should qualify as clunkers. Then you could add a "He IS My Car Dealer" sticker.

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2009 9:28 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Beautiful johngalt - funniest thing I have read in a while. Reminds me of a friend' son who had to design a bumper sticker for an art class and decided to do one that offended as many people as possible. He came up with "Nuke the gay whales for Jesus".

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 16, 2009 10:13 AM

This is rich

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?

Health Care Posted by Boulder Refugee at 4:18 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

No big, br, they can just show their Union card.

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2009 7:57 PM
But jk thinks:

Great IBD Editorial on this.

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2009 12:29 PM

Giants Walked the Earth

...and gigged every week 'till they were 94:

lespaul.jpg

Requiescat in pace, Les. I recommend his autobiography very highly. He was a technical innovator and a musician and an entertainer. All together a truly inspiring and uniquely American life story.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:04 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith thinks:

He and Leo Fender are probably having a laugh together right now: "Yeah, they tried to give me a harp when I got here, too. I told them I brought my own." No doubt they'll be giving concerts - and lessons.

One of my icons passed this year as well: Sam Maloof. Called himself a simple woodworker. there's a lot to be said for craftsmen, isn't there?

Posted by: Keith at August 13, 2009 5:06 PM

Maybe These Guys Should Run Health Care!

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.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM | What do you think? [13]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

"Nobody is forced to live on our road, and by residing there, it's accepted that when the road needs repair, we all pitch in."

When you all "pitch in" is it one share per house, one share per car, one share per driver, is it pro-rated based upon how far from the corner you are, do they just pass a hat at the block party?

"In fact, it's never needed repair of any kind in the eight years I've been here. Not a crack, not a pothole. Contrast this with the local public road that we feed into, which develops potholes after just one winter. Is this really so surprising?"

Nope, that road handles more and heavier vehicle traffic.

I hate to break it to you, but those bridges and tunnels ARE built by private companies. State highway departments solicit bids from competing private construction companies and hire the lowest bidder. Cost overruns are requested by those private companies, often due to a practice of low bidding and immediately filing exceptions to the contract to make up the costs.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 18, 2009 1:53 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
When you all "pitch in" is it one share per house, one share per car, one share per driver, is it pro-rated based upon how far from the corner you are, do they just pass a hat at the block party?
This is irrelevant, but I will tell you so that you can see that the free market always finds a superior way without having to twist someone's arm.

It's an equal share for each house, based on an established covenant. The street is named after our "founder," who originally owned all of the land. A few decades back, when the neighborhood started growing, he started selling off pieces of the land. The contract stipulates that when the association determines repaving is needed, everyone chips in an equal share. If you don't, then you're in breach of contract and can be sued.

The contract also stipulates that you can sell the house only to someone who agrees. It's all legally binding and presented up front. If you don't like that provision, you don't have to buy the house in the first place.

Nope, that road handles more and heavier vehicle traffic.
Very, very wrong. I knew you'd bring up that point, which is why I was careful to compare apples to apples. I'm talking about the local road we join into that has just as little traffic as ours. That road itself is restricted by the town to residential traffic only, so it sees only the same ratio of passenger cars and delivery trucks that my cul-de-sac does.

Once again, if you can get it through your thick state-worshipping skull, our free market association is willing to pay more for a quality job that lasts longer. We don't go with overpaid union labor that's forced upon a municipality. We go with people who make competitive bids and give us the best value for our money.

I hate to break it to you, but those bridges and tunnels ARE built by private companies. State highway departments solicit bids from competing private construction companies and hire the lowest bidder. Cost overruns are requested by those private companies, often due to a practice of low bidding and immediately filing exceptions to the contract to make up the costs.
Save me the sophistry. "Private contractors" doing work for a government are still doing public construction. It's still financed by government, who may solicit bids but still has no reason to go with the best.

Right now one of the big NYC unions has launched an advertising blitz, claiming they "safeguard taxpayer dollars" by doing better jobs for less -- that is, less than government contractors. What's the difference? They're all government workers in the end, no matter how "private" a contractor claims to be.

When was the last time you heard of a public project, or any program for that matter, staying within its funding goals? That's right, these "contractors" routinely run late and go over budget, yet are often rewarded with bonuses anyway. In the private sector, when someone makes a bid and can't keep up his end, he'll lose his business, so the free market -- unlike government -- has a built-in mechanism called incentive for bidders to be honest and objective. At work, we're renewing our contract with a software vendor, and they have to quote us a price for the next version. If they low-balled the figure but later said we had to pay higher per-user fees, we'd never accept it under the contract. We'd fire them on the spot, sue (as is our right under contract) to recover any fees paid in advance, tell everyone we could, and go with any of numerous competitors.

Government, on the other hand, has the full faith and credit of the taxpayer's wallet. Because it's playing only with other people's money, it has no incentive to control how much it spends in the beginning or in the end, let alone demand iron-clad contracts that contractors must stick to. Go look up what's happening with NYC's Second Avenue subway line. Open your damn eyes.

I hate to break it to you, but you are utterly a state-worshipper. BF must be rolling in his grave anytime you sign that moniker.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 18, 2009 12:18 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Sigh, I guess I am just practicing my constitutional right to freedom of religion, worshipping the state so. If only it could be as good as private enterprise, why in my 25 years working in corporate america I've never been involved with a project that was late or over budget. And I do so love my homeowner's association, they never impose rules against my will or spend my money on things I don't want. They freely allow me to select my own trash collection or snow removal company, never would I think of them like government.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 18, 2009 7:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Silence

We've had this over lunch now and then (Old Man???)

I had all day doctorin' on my drug trial today and got halfway through Milton Friedman's "Freedom and Capitalism." Written in 1962, the only item that is not 100% relevant is that we were on Bretton Woods then (even then it is an interesting look at the pluses and minuses of a gold peg).

He does a great job on coercion and the benefit of smaller and more voluntary groupings to achieve "unanimity without conformity."

You cannot really compare your HOA to the Federal government. You can influence your HOA or move a half mile to escape them. If we install an NHS-esque health care system, you'd have to leave the country -- and there ain't any free ones left.

Your corporate career has seen inefficiencies, I understand. But I think P.J. O'Rourke's bon mot works here: "Dad burned dinner, so let's have the dog cook!" Your private employers learned or were acquired. The Post Office's inefficiencies live on like the mohair subsidy.

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2009 9:05 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I can't argue with the great PJ O'Rourke and as far as national health care I agree with you. Here in the west I question the capability to simply move to avoid an HOA. Unlike our government whose constitution was debated and voted upon, the initial HOA rules are set by fiat of the developer yet require the same 2/3 majority to change by vote. This substantially limits my power to influence them. My other parallel is to the type of people they attract, those in search of power or those who think they know what is best for everyone. Politics in a miniature.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 18, 2009 11:02 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
Sigh, I guess I am just practicing my constitutional right to freedom of religion, worshipping the state so.
That is your right, but do you have to drag me down with you via the power of majority vote?
If only it could be as good as private enterprise, why in my 25 years working in corporate america I've never been involved with a project that was late or over budget.
That's a strawman. I never said the private sector never has such problems. In fact, I took great care to point out that when it does, there are consequences: lost reputation and lost customers.

Don't try to play the experience or age cards on me. They won't work. I've spent 13 years in corporate America, so what's your excuse?

And I do so love my homeowner's association, they never impose rules against my will or spend my money on things I don't want. They freely allow me to select my own trash collection or snow removal company, never would I think of them like government.
Actually, you didn't have to get involved in the first place with people you couldn't implicitly trust.

On the other hand, just by being born within this country's borders makes you subject to tyrannical laws, like them or not? That's rubbish, and you ought to know it -- or at least know better.

Unlike our government whose constitution was debated and voted upon
Wait a minute: you were there? I wasn't. I'm pretty sure JK was. Even Abraham Lincoln wasn't there to debate and vote on it. So just who "debated and voted"?

Read some Lysander Spooner on this, specifically "No Treason." Just because a handful of men convinced nine out of thirteen legislatures to ratify a piece of paper, that should make me beholden to whatever "the supreme law of the land" is, or beholden to what was originally a good law but later perverted by future generations?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 19, 2009 3:32 PM

The Transportation Crisis

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.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:33 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

She started off well. Very well. "In 1900, health care consumed only a couple of percentage points of the average families budget because medical science couldn’t actually do much." Exactly. What we have today is everyone wanting the health care equivalent of a Ferrari (U.S. health care is the best in the world and is the most expensive because it IS the best) without having to pay for it.

Unfortunately, Shannon doesn't understand the liberty issue. She wrote, "We should establish compulsory medical savings account for everyone that works. People should be required to deposit a fixed percentage of their paychecks into those accounts." This was indeed unfortunate. How can she then write a couple of paragraphs later, "Better, just like transportation, we would all have the power and freedom to chose our own health care ride"?

If you're forced into something, there's no "freedom" involved. She was on a roll until then.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 13, 2009 3:21 PM

Ms. McArdle Again

Lordy!

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.


Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:39 AM | What do you think? [8]
But T. Greer thinks:

Hear hear! I read some of the stuff I wrote three years ago and come away with the conclusion that I was a daft idiot. Holding onto things like this is not worth it. Better to change a person to your side than to hold a grudge against them because they were not in the past. And hey, to be honest, we need as many allies as we can get right now.

Posted by: T. Greer at August 13, 2009 2:53 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

If McArdle will repudiate what she wrote before, then I'll change my attitude toward her. But that's the point: she has not, she's admitted she's no Randian, yet she has the brazen disingenuousness to use "Jane Galt."

"To want" something is fine, but you need to distinguish that from McArdle's "I want government to..." beliefs. Just because I don't trust government doesn't mean I don't want peace, freedom and justice for all -- I just don't believe that government is capable of providing those things without destroying them equally (or to a greater extent) elsewhere.

Jefferson's idea of "public education" and today's concept are entirely different. Jefferson was not promoting a government monopoly like today, but a supplement so that the poorest of the populace could still get educated. If you read his letter of 1813 to John Adams, it's true that his plan involved taxation, where the more successful are forced to pay for others' children, but recall that taxes then were so much lower than today. We fought a revolution partially over a few pence per pound of tea, you know. And his plan was, in fact, quite elitist in how it wanted to separate the very best. It also would be decried today by teachers' unions because control would be purely local: there was no such thing as a school board, a city council or a state legislature governing hundreds or thousands of different schools.

My opposition to SCHIP is that it subsidizes the middle class. I don't object to ensuring health care for truly indigent children (I'd prefer a State level program, but that's a bad place to make a stand).
My opposition to SCHIP is that it takes from one man and gives to someone else.

See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law—which may be an isolated case—is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.

Liberty and libertarianism imply consequences, rights and responsibilities.
I'll refer only to liberty, because "libertarianism" has become ridiculously diluted these days. Now, you talk about responsibilities -- which, and to whom? The only "responsibility" in a truly free life is that you take care not to harm others.
I am not at all offended by her suggestion that children and fetuses do not and should not share equally as adults in these. We offer children many special protections. Like McArdle, I think that is either acceptable or would be so impolitic to oppose, that I will let it slide.
It's one thing to say that people under the age of majority do not have full rights. Someone under 18 cannot contract without parental or guardian permission, including marrying and getting a job. However, that is a far cry from saying my wife and I, who do not have children yet, should be taxed because our neighbors' children are "a special libertarian case."

Children can be considered a different "case" only because parents have the responsibility for their upkeep. A parent ignoring a child's needs for food and shelter is a criminal, for example. I, however, am not a criminal for ignoring the various vagrants I encounter in the city. In fact, it would not be criminal even if it were a homeless child (not my child, I should specify), because there I have no lawful obligation. Moral, yes, but morality is beyond the scope and ability of law.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 13, 2009 3:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

McArdle's "national standard-of-care recommendations" are the same thing as Palin's "death panels." Those who set the "standard" of care are making life and death decisions.

She portrays herself as reasonable and objective in contrast to Palin, but it seems that she objects to the same provisions as Palin for the same reasons. To me that says both of them are reasonable and objective.

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2009 3:15 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
Hear hear! I read some of the stuff I wrote three years ago and come away with the conclusion that I was a daft idiot. Holding onto things like this is not worth it. Better to change a person to your side than to hold a grudge against them because they were not in the past.
As I said, McArdle has not repudiated what she wrote before. She gives every indication that she believes in a particular level of government redistribution, and she makes her arguments on the basis of "efficiency" and utilitarianism -- not on liberty, as I do.
And hey, to be honest, we need as many allies as we can get right now.
No, T, what we need now are principles.

Any "allies" we gain, who do not share the principles of liberty and not redistributing wealth, will be along the lines of allying with the dragon so he'll eat our enemies. It might be good when we "win," but it only means we'll be eaten last.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 13, 2009 3:26 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Perry- Principles are nice and all, but they do not get you any votes on the Senate floor. Come election season, and we can talk about getting guys with principles in there. At the moment my larger priority is killing this bill.

And if McArdle helps, all the better for us.


Posted by: T. Greer at August 17, 2009 3:06 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I didn't see your comment until now, T. The problem with your idea of "getting votes" is that you implicitly must abandon principles to give a majority of voters what they want. And that majority wants only one thing: to receive as much as they can from the minority.

McArdle is not helping. Do you see what's happening? This bill, this specific bill, will go down. But Republicans are now pressed to offer their own alternatives, their own "reform." Even Wal-Mart has bent over for the feds, hoping they'll be eaten last.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 21, 2009 1:45 PM

August 12, 2009

Quote of the Day II

One of my favorite Senators:

Climate change is very real. Global warming creates volatility and I feel it when I’m flying. The storms are more volatile.--Debbie Stabenow (Astrophysiscist - MI)

Posted by John Kranz at 5:50 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

WAFI. (What a frickin' idiot.)

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2009 7:05 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

Maybe the flight stabilizers on the Gulfstream just need to be replaced.

Posted by: Lisa M at August 12, 2009 9:10 PM
But Bitter American thinks:

Note that its called "climate change" these days, instead of Algore's "Global Warming?" Gives these lemmings an out when we're knee-deep in ice 20 years from now!

Posted by: Bitter American at August 12, 2009 9:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I was going to suggest we might be better off spending half a billion dollars to buy them new jets if that would make their ride smoother.

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2009 2:45 PM

Quote of the Day

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."
Hat-tip: Instapundit
Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:34 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Universal Heh.

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2009 2:18 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Listening to Obama, it sounds like his latest definition of "universal" is available to all. Well, we have such a universal plan today. Pay the premium and the coverage is yours.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2009 3:57 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I know how to provide universal health care and keep our current private insurance system - preemptive bailout! President Obama announces now that the big health insurers are too big to fail. This allows them to lavish health insurance benefits on the high risk uninsured, keep making profit, and have no fear of huge losses.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 16, 2009 10:08 AM

Big Time, Bill!

I'm walking in that room a blogger and I'm walking out a star!

Interesting look at the WSJ New Pages' statistical prowess today from Don Luskin. Plus he saw fit to include my goofy comment.

But johngalt thinks:

Nice! But no threesources hyperlink. I think you should sue.

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2009 2:12 PM

It's Getting Better All The Time...

You hear that folks? It's the government-run post office that is having the problems.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Yes, the same post office that is set to lose $14 billion in the next two years right after raising rates yet again.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2009 11:06 AM
But jk thinks:

It's not a financial asssesment guys, you got it all wrong. He's merely pointing out that the compassion, courtesy and efficiency you value at the Post Office will now be available at your doctor's.

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2009 1:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, cool - the president read my blog!

But he's comparing apples to Buicks. [For you kiddies out there, "Buick" used to be an automobile brand before the government took over operations at General Motors.]

- Do businesses get taxed on their FedEX or UPS shipping bills if they don't use the post office?

- Are the services of FedEX and UPS subject to the approval of a government "clearinghouse" for shipping?

- DO OUR VERY LIVES DEPEND ON THE ABILITY OF THE POST OFFICE TO DELIVER MAIL BY A CERTAIN TIME OR IN A PROFOUNDLY PROFESSIONAL AND CONSCIENTIOUS MANNER?

Do we want to see all of the medical professionals in this country have the same job satisfaction and customer service mindset as the average letter carrier?

If the Democrats get their way on health care reform it won't be long before the colloquialism "going postal" will be replaced by "going internist."

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2009 2:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And attacking the same absurd claim from another equally valid angle, Obama said: "As long as they [private insurers] have a good product and the government plan has to sustain itself through premiums and other non-tax revenue, private insurers should be able to compete with the government plan."

But private insurers won't have a good product because it will be subject to approval by the government clearinghouse, and the government plan won't have to sustain itself through non-tax revenue, because it's a government plan!

Oh wait - maybe there will be a "health insurance government plan lock box."

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2009 2:10 PM

August 11, 2009

Incentives Matter

I don't get it, somebody help me out.

Companies will not hire less, move operations overseas, or slow company growth because of Federal tax policy -- nope, incentives don't really matter.

But your evil, greedy bastard family physician is going to let your diabetes go because the amputation will pay off her Range Rover:

Hat-tip: @KOSMOSNET

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 7:17 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Lies, damned lies, and Obama's town halls.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 12, 2009 11:53 AM

But, but, but...

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!


Nazis Against ObamaCare

I hate Illinois Nazis -- even when they're in Georgia:

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...

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 5:56 PM | What do you think? [0]

jk Turns in His Wife

Dear Ms. Douglass and President Obama:

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.

Your humble servant,...

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:28 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Tell me you really sent this to them. Please.

My guess: They won't recognize the sarcasm.

Posted by: johngalt at August 11, 2009 11:04 AM
But jk thinks:

Yup, flag@whitehouse.gov -- doing my part to keep the country safe!

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2009 11:54 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

It's nice to know that you got your mind right, Luke. But I'm still betting you can't eat three dozen boiled eggs.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 11, 2009 12:15 PM

August 10, 2009

Who's in YOUR wallet?

I love this co-opting of 'Capital One' simply by changing the spelling...


Quote of the Day

He's my favorite blogger, but I never give him QOTD! Here you go, Glenn, the wait is over:

BUT WE TRY HARDER: TaxProf: U.S. Corporate Tax Rate is Second Highest in Industrialized World. -- Professor Glenn Reynolds

Posted by John Kranz at 3:14 PM | What do you think? [0]

Woof!

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.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:49 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

"If it would save just a single 39 year-old mother, wouldn't it be worth it?"

But seriously, does the McAllen takedown piece even consider the role that overzealous malpractice lawyers play in over-treatment?

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2009 2:29 PM
But jk thinks:

To be fair, they did, pointing out that Texas passed very tough tort reform measures and that McAllen lives under the same rules as El Paso, which spends quite a bit less.

It's a ponderable question. My gripes were:

a) what makes you think government is better situated to make a Mayo out of McAllen that the market? Explain. Provide examples. Show your work.

b) It is all well and good to statistically laugh derisively at catheter treatment for a 40 (or 39) year old woman. When it's your wife/mom/daughter, most people would be glad to err on safety; most governments would be glad to err on the side of cost savings.

Posted by: jk at August 10, 2009 3:11 PM

Un-American

Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi have written an op-ed in the USA Today calling those who have spoken out at the townhall meetings in opposition of the health care bill "un-American."

Where is John Kerry incorrectly referring to Thomas Jefferson about dissent when you need him?!

Politics Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:47 AM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

"And I'm proud to be un-american, where at least I know I'm free..."

Posted by: jk at August 10, 2009 12:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Me too. I've been looking for "Proudly Un-American" t-shirts. All I can find are on anti-Bush sites. (They're so proud they put the "un" part in the fine print.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2009 2:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

There's some funny up-to-date stuff here. Like "With Obamacare Seniors will be Shovel-Ready a lot sooner..."

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2009 2:19 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

So, according the Democrats you are patriotic if:

- You hold anti-war riots that trash college campuses that cost millions of dollars
- You don't permit Conservative speakers on campus
- You send Code Pink demonstrators to disrupt countless Congressional and other official meetings
- You intimidate and disrupt legitimate military recruiting activities
- You ban military recruiters from campus
- You skip the country to avoid military service
- You camp outside the President's summer residence to ruin his vacation
- You use paid union members to protest in front of corporate offices with whom they have no connection
- You beat up your opponents
- You label anyone who disagrees with you a "racist"

But if you peacefully, albeit vociferously, protest higher taxes and the socialization of America, why, that's just going too damn far and has to be stopped! That's un-American! There outta be a law!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 11, 2009 12:39 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I have said it before but never enough:

Welcome to Zimbabwe.

1. A charismatic leader who isn't just a socialist, but an African Marxist: he decries economic gaps, then wins by promising to give his supporters what is taken from non-supporters. Check.

2. Branding of opponents as racist capitalists. Check.

3. A central bank that prints money as needed, when the government can't tax enough. Check.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 11, 2009 10:44 AM
But johngalt thinks:

All true, PE, and I for one welcome it. When a tin-pot dictator does these things the world ignores it. When the most powerful nation on earth does it, inflating the most important currency in the world, few nations can afford to ignore it. And America's citizens can no longer afford to ignore it. You say you want a revolution? The non-violent coup is really winding up. If it takes a "Marxist Brother" to do it, very well then.

Posted by: johngalt at August 11, 2009 11:14 AM

August 7, 2009

Newsworthy

No member of Congressman Carnahan’s staff was arrested last night -- Jim Hubbard, Rep. Carnahan’s Deputy Communications Director
Posted by John Kranz at 4:25 PM | What do you think? [0]

Underappreciated Effect of Heath Care on Wages

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.


UPDATE: Don Luskin has further analysis on this same paper.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

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


Hat-tip: Jimmy P

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 6, 2009

The AP Again

Should move on, should move on, But

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...

Whiter whites and brighter colors!


Et tu, Kudlow?

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.

I can't agree, but it deserves a respectful read.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:53 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Mr. Kudlow, meet Mr. Bastiat..."

[goes off muttering something about god damned idiots who claim to be capitalists but don't understand the first thing about markets...]

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 7, 2009 1:44 PM

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.

But jk thinks:

I have loved the vaulting posts! (okay, I may have cursed the player once or twice, but I enjoyed watching.)

Well done Sampson and well done team. Hope the hay came in well.

Posted by: jk at August 6, 2009 4:46 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Congratulations! I'm willing to bet that 30+ man-years of effort went into that four-minute performance. Well done!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 7, 2009 11:13 AM

Economics News

ThreeSources Friend CharlieOn PATpk:

THIS JUST IN: Huge leaps in productivity have been seen across all industries --- In other news: Twitter has been offline all morning

Posted by John Kranz at 1:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

Headline of the Day

White House reform plan to make Fannie and Freddie … Fannier and Freddier! -- Jimmy P
Posted by John Kranz at 1:13 PM | What do you think? [0]

I Withdraw

Nope, I could never write for the AP. I just don't have it in me:

WASHINGTON – Sonia Sotomayor stands on the verge of making history as the Supreme Court's first Hispanic justice, despite staunch opposition from Republicans who call her ill-suited for the bench.

See, I'd've said "racist Republican bastards;" that would have ruined the integrity of the piece.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

It just frosts me everytime the MSM trumpets Sotomayor as historic, while failing to mention that the Democrats filibustered Miguel Estrada. But that was the game plan with Estrada all along. The Dems simply could not allow Republicans to have a "first" with Hispanics. Politics over country.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 7, 2009 12:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Here's history for ya: Justice Alito will be the last white male to ever be appointed to the Supreme Court. The pull toward the next historic "first" will be too great. President Bush will go down in history for his "historic last."

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2009 12:35 PM

JK Applies for AP Job

Democratic Congressman Cleared on Five Counts

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - Former Democratic Congressman William Jefferson was found not guilty of 5 of 16 corruption charges today by a federal jury.

The jury of eight women and four men returned the not guilty verdicts following five days of deliberation.


Sorry, but after reading New jobless claims drop more than expected, I just couldn't help myself,

111th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:55 AM | What do you think? [0]

DIYQOTD

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.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:06 AM | What do you think? [0]

Don't say I don't know how to have a good time!

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.

Hat-tip: NRO


August 5, 2009

Bermuda Uighers: The Gophers are Done For

Poor guys.

Four Guantanamo prisoners who were released to Bermuda in June have been given jobs tending a public golf course on the tiny Atlantic island.

The four members of China's Muslim Uighur minority began working last week to help prepare the lush, seaside Port Royal course to host the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in October.


Well, they do have some prior coursework which might come in handy.



Mean Old Republicans!

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

Posted by John Kranz at 5:53 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

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

The whole interview rocks! Hat-tip: Scrivener

Posted by John Kranz at 4:30 PM | What do you think? [0]

Dear Congressman

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.

Sincerely,
...


Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:35 PM | What do you think? [0]

On Tippy-toe

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."

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | What do you think? [0]

August 4, 2009

Stick it to the Middle Class!

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!


Hat-tip: a friend of ThreeSources, via email

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 6:51 PM | What do you think? [0]

Trenchant as Hell!



Some Serious None of the Above

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?

That's an argument to have!

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:11 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

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

August 3, 2009

Green Shoots

The S&P500 closes over 1000 today!

Posted by John Kranz at 6:04 PM | What do you think? [8]
But johngalt thinks:

I'd like to believe Lisa's hypothesis but the market was rising during Healthcare's boom times too. I have a different read: Despite 10% unemployment the other 90% are still working and most of them have not made any new investment elections in their 401K plans. This means that billions of dollars continue to flow into mutual funds and these dollars must be invested. Result - absent market shock events the market climb is on autopilot.

As economically inept as Obama-Reed-Pelosi's policies are they haven't had the power to undo the productive power of the free world - at least, not yet.

Oh, and JK: Whether the economic news is good OR bad the prescription from Conyers' "powers that be" will be the same - more socialism. But I take your point. A rising stock market gives them validation.

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2009 10:45 AM
But jk thinks:

Not persuaded that it fails to correlate to the Intrade chart five posts down. As forward thinkers began to see problems in the mighty ObamaCare legislative method, they began to feel better about going long.

I am in complete agreement that the mighty free world economic engine will naturally find a way to grow. But the idea that 16% of the USGDP might escape nationalization for another year was a bullish signal.

Posted by: jk at August 4, 2009 11:55 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Not necessarily "autopilot," JG. As we saw during the so-called "financial crisis," people were still putting money into their 401K and IRAs, but stocks in general were still going down. That's what happens when a product's perceived value goes down: maybe there are more buying than selling, or there are lots of buyers but none willing to pay the asking price.

So even though people are still making automatic investments in stocks, it eventually comes down to how good (or lucky) the stock-pickers are, and their confidence in bidding higher prices on the trading floor. For example, my asset manager employer manages a lot of retirement plans for our clients: defined contribution like 401Ks, and defined benefit like traditional pensions. If you're putting in a target-year plan like we offer, or a simple "aggressive" plan, the asset manager is still going to adjust the portfolio based on an allocation strategy, or he'll dump a stock he thinks is heading nowhere in favor of another.

I wish I could be confident that the delay of ObamaDeathCare has helped drive the rally. Remember, though, that markets are already pricing in the future as well as the present, and it's clear that Obama will get a lot of things passed that are bad news for the economy. When the market regains what it lost, then I might pay attention, but for now I like what Don said the other night: we're just trading in a band, that's all.

I've had this gnawing, growing suspicion that the Treasury, possibly the Fed also, is directly buying up a lot of stock. This isn't taking equity positions in banks, but secretly buying up in all sectors to create the illusion of a rally. This is easily done: it has effective control of the top U.S. banks in the nation (which have broker-dealer operations), and there are hundreds of billions of dollars out there that cannot be easily accounted for. Even if we could demand to know where the money is, it would be easy to fake the records. Front-runners and other types have hidden their trades in the shadows for ages, and they don't even have the luxury of being exempt from insider-trading laws like Treasury and Fed officials are. Bet none of you knew that.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 4, 2009 12:37 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

JK, the difference between Intrade's contracts are that they define time periods and prices. In that way, they function like futures contracts, although it's skewed in that you either win or lose; there's no partial prize for your horse coming in second when you only bet on him to win. So depending on which Intrade contract you're comparing, it can properly be more bullish than current stock prices.

Current prices do factor in the future, but they factor in the present as well (which includes the potential of short-term profit). Don't take my advice and blame me, but if I could (company rules), right now, especially after the rally, I'd start buying a lot of 2010 puts on American insurers and banks.

If you want to go long, plan to hold until at least 2012, and probably 2016. But such long-term holding isn't what the Street does.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 4, 2009 12:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

PE: From my 30,000 foot perspective I call the "financial crisis" one of those market shock events I allowed an exception for. Your market advice is welcome, as always. I do think you worry needlessly about the government buying securities. Every week I'm more convinced that these guys really are too stupid to be doing any of this on purpose.

And jk, correlation with the Intrade chart now doesn't prove correlation with the overall market, either now or in the past (when it was going up at the same time ObamaDeathCare looked inevitable.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 5, 2009 3:51 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

This current "financial crisis" isn't just a shock. It's been perfectly engineered to drag our economy down, and soften people up into thinking government intervention will cure things. There's a reason I call it the Reichstag fire of the financial world.

I always worry when the government buys anything. It's the government, after all. Government must always be questioned in everything, because its actions are predicated upon force, not on reason and voluntary choice. Government shouldn't be doing any of these things, nor should the Federal Reserve be buying U.S. Treasury securities (monetizing our new debt because there isn't the money to buy it).

The more time passes, I'm more convinced of the opposite, that all this is being done with the greatest malice rather than the greatest stupidity.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 7, 2009 1:50 PM

Clunkhead Quiz

Russ Roberts:

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?"

But johngalt thinks:

D. Increase the budget by $2 billion and expect it to keep the program funded longer than just 8 more days.

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2009 10:09 AM

When Will Atlas Shrug?

Umm:

@jimgeraghty: Just heard from AP radio that federal tax revenue projected to be 18 percent lower than last year's total.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:43 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"Who IS John Galt?"

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2009 10:11 AM

Stunning Exegesis on Cash for Clunkers

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.


The Arlen Specter Shoutdown

Senator Specter and Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius had a town hall meeting at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Sunday.

It did not go well.

Enjoy.

Much more at Panzramic.

But jk thinks:

Yeah, I saw that -- but I'll happily watch it again! I think the word I am looking for is "Woot!"

Posted by: jk at August 3, 2009 1:04 PM

I like the slope!

Jimmy P thinks this is a "handy way of summing up what a rough patch the Obamacrats have been going through, (via Intrade and Baseline Scenario):" I just like to look at it:

073009intrade.jpg

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:24 PM | What do you think? [0]

Last Word on Gates-gate

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.



U Chicago 1, Notre Dame 0

The Everyday Economist celebrated Milton Friedman's birthday last Friday with one of my favorite clips:

But johngalt thinks:

Was Donohue incredibly polite to his guest, or merely speechless?

Hint: It's a rhetorical question.

Friedman hinted at this point at the end but I think he missed the hanging curveball on Phil's second question: Capitalism doesn't "reward ... ability to manipulate the system" unrestrained government does.

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2009 10:27 AM
But jk thinks:

I'll try for a rhetorical answer:

This is what made Friedman so great. He did not yell or spew or get upset, whomever the interlocutor. He would calmly make a compelling and substantive argument for economic freedom every time, completely extemporaneously.

We need a few more of those.

Posted by: jk at August 4, 2009 10:58 AM

Enough Said

Politics Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 12:54 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Bill O'Reilly is jealous. This must have been a hidden camera, in his eyeglasses or something.

But imagine the horror of leaving "some people who need help unhelped." Doesn't the house bill do just that, leaving some 16 million still uninsured? (Not to mention the harm done to all those who ARE insured. Mister Hippocrates, call your office.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2009 10:20 AM

August 2, 2009

URL of the Day

Might be better to read than click:

http://wildammo.com/2009/07/27/unusual-paintings-of-obama-naked-with-unicorns/

Hat-tip: no, your secret is safe with me...I'll never tell.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:04 PM | What do you think? [0]

John Stossel on Health Care

Hat-tip: @ariarmstrong

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:04 AM | What do you think? [0]

McArdle Defended

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."

On Domenech:
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.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:41 AM | What do you think? [0]

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