That will certainly be the spin, and I am not disposed to contradict it. New York Republicans ran a woman for whom RINO seems too kind. The Tea Party crowd came out big for the Conservative Party candidate and was pitted against the GOP establishment in the person of Speaker Gingrich (praise be upon the 104th Congress).
Yesterday, the polls turned toward the Conservative candidate and today:
Republican Dede Scozzafava has suspended her bid in next Tuesday’s NY 23 special election, a huge development that dramatically shakes up the race. She did not endorse either of her two opponents -- Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman or Democrat Bill Owens.
The decision to suspend her campaign is a boost for Hoffman, who already had the support of 50 percent of GOP voters, according to a newly-released Siena poll, and is now well-positioned to win over the 25 percent of Republicans who had been sticking with Scozzafava.
Instapundit had highlighted a suggestion by blogger Bill Quick for Scozzafava to drop out. I could not understand why she would -- in solidarity for a candidate she didn't agree with? That's like saying "jk, if you'd just shut up, we could pass socialized medicine." "Well, all right then..."
In all the hubbub, I confess that I have not paid a lot of attention to Hoffman's views. Many of his big supporters are a bit more populist than I am, but they say he's the real deal (for example, I cite St. Louis blogger/talk show host Dana Loesch).
If every journey begins with a single step, I would call this one significant.
The mountains in Europe are growing taller and melting glaciers are partly responsible, scientists say.
Heavy glaciers cause the Earth's crust to flex inward slightly. When glaciers disappear, the crust springs back and the overlaying mountains are thrust skyward, albeit slowly.
The European Alps have been growing since the end of the last little Ice Age in 1850 when glaciers began shrinking as temperatures warmed, but the rate of uplift has accelerated in recent decades because global warming has sped up the rate of glacier melt, the researchers say.
The Fed will not reject it when we, I promise you, next year, take up legislatively the issue. And I think it’s very clear. You should not have private citizens like the presidents of the regional banks voting on policy. -- Rep. Barney Frank
I know that there is little common ground on the FOMC around ThreeSources. But I think we might all agree that having the professional politicians in Frank's Finance Committee take over for the amateur private citizen bankers is NOT the solution.
This from the inestimable and unspellable James Pethokoukis, who suggests "...it is clear Congress wants to have more influence over the Fed. This, right at the time when global financial markets will have to remain confident America will not inflate its way out of its debt."
ThreeSources blog friend the Everyday Economist has a great compendium post up. [Spoiler alert: EE is ag'in it!]
Ultimately, the debate about the limits of the Fed’s abilities as lender of last resort and the doctrine of “too big to fail” boil down to the same principles that arose in the rules versus discretion debate for monetary policy. Discretion generates uncertainty in that the behavior of the actor cannot be predicted. As John Taylor has documented so well in his recent research, the erratic and inconsistent behavior of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury during the financial crisis can explain why the crisis (and corresponding economic performance) got so much worse in the months of September and October of last year.
Moving forward, policy needs to be guided not by the discretion of the central bank or the Treasury secretary, but rather by the rule of law. Orderly and predictable bankruptcy procedures for all firms and the elimination of the doctrine of “too big to fail” would go a long way toward making potential future financial crises less severe (and might prevent others altogether).
I stopped reading Peggy Noonan many moons ago, but the new WSJ navigation makes it difficult. Sometimes you click and it's too late:.
The biggest threat to America right now is not government spending, huge deficits, foreign ownership of our debt, world terrorism, two wars, potential epidemics or nuts with nukes. The biggest long-term threat is that people are becoming and have become disheartened, that this condition is reaching critical mass, and that it afflicts most broadly and deeply those members of the American leadership class who are not in Washington, most especially those in business.
What happened to this woman? I don't mind a bit of twaddle on the Internet, but this if from somebody who was one of the great voices her generation.
UPDATE: Funny, Professor Reynolds links positively, highlighting a "going John Galt" angle to the story. If people "go John Galt" (or even "go JK") because they are disheartened, that is not it. People go John Galt because they are, or obviously will be, subject to public usufruct.
Ukase: 1 : a proclamation by a Russian emperor or government having the force of law (M-W)
Use it in a sentence, jk! Well, let me quote Stanford Law Professor Michael McConnell:
Mr. [Pay Czar Kenneth] Feinberg's ukase is the most prominent example (and not just by the Obama administration) of the exercise of power by an individual unilaterally appointed by the executive branch without Senate confirmation—and thus outside the ordinary channels of Congressional oversight.
McConnell is director of Stanford's Constitutional Law Center and his editorial asks what some ThreeSourcers have been asking for a while: what is his Constitutional footing for these Executive arrogations?
Some other Law Professor in Tennessee who has a little blog mentions: "You know, if a Republican President were doing this many bizarre things, public-interest lawyers would be suing right and left to stop them." I wonder where the media is [hey, stop laughing out there!] President Bush was barraged with accusations -- some well deserved -- of his and VP Cheney's "shredding the Constitution." Both were unabashed believers in Executive power.
Now that the new administration has turned the dial up from 8 to 11, these once fierce watchdogs are suddenly pretty comfortable with unipartate government: Humphrey’s Executor v United States anybody?
By the way, yesterday's Word of the Day comes from my brother: condylarth (noun) a fossil herbivorous mammal of the early Tertiary period, ancestral to the ungulates. Do not play hangman with my brother, just don't!
If I can't get you into the Phillies' camp for NL loyalty, anti-DH sentiment, or solidarity with our Keystone State blog brothers, maybe I can upset you with news that you're paying for the new Yankee Stadium, wherever you live in America. Scrivener:
The stadium's construction costs have been publicly subsidized in the form of $942 million in tax-exempt bonds issued by New York City.
Seeking tax-free status for the bonds to ensure a lower interest rate, New York structured the deal to ensure it didn't run afoul of a federal tax code provision which requires that such bonds not be "private activity bonds" [issued to benefit a private business, such as say the New York Yankees Partnership, rather than the city government].
This serves as a huge benefit because the bonds are exempt from city, state, and federal taxes, and have an interest rate about 25 percent below that of taxable bonds.
There are two parts to this financing scheme which seem "foul." First, the new Yankee Stadium will be city-owned and thus exempt from property taxes. Meanwhile its primary tenant, the Yankees, will pay no rent. This clearly brings up the issue of whether such tax-exempt bonds should have been issued at all, and especially when the city is so far in the red.
On the series: I have never seen a more amazing sports performance that Mister Lee's nine-inning-zero-earned-runs performance last night. Stunning in its elegance.
And one of you baseball heads has seriously got to educate me why batters take on 3-0. It disturbs me so badly, I can barely watch the sport any more. Merciful Zeus, you get in a position of immense power. Then you let the guy off a little. Then one foul tip and the count is full. Did anybody ever ask Ayn Rand about this? Is not man entitled to a big lead in the count if he has earned it?
I kid, but I have asked dozens of people. Even a couple ex-pro ballplayers I know and I have never heard a good answer. One of the pros just lit up and said when you get a green light on 3-0, it is the greatest feeling in the world. Why is it so rare? sez me, but he was off in the distance, the sun was shining, he was up 3-0 and his wife's uncle was nowhere to be seen...
But as I am listening to the hearing on executive compensation and TARP special master (how crippy is this title?), I realize we are now officially living in a world that resembles an Ayn Rand novel. One man, one unelected government official, not even a Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate, has the power cut the pay of executives in private businesses by 50 percent or 90 percent in the banks the government now “owns.” A single individual is given too much power without accountability. But more importantly, this charade masks the fact that the world we live in has nothing to do with capitalism. It’s nothing more than crony capitalism. The government went around bailing out out automobile companies that were producing cars that people didn’t want to buy, bailing out banks that were careless with their capital and assets, and bailing out homeowners that couldn’t afford the houses they were buying. -- Veronique de Rugy
In our continuing quest to run down the President, we bring you...
No, Blog Brother Johngalt asked for examples of disingenuousness from the President for use in a family email thread. Here's one (video at the link).
Candidate Barack Obama: “When I’m elected president you’re going to see this health care legislation written in the open. It’s going to be on C-SPAN, and you’ll be able to see all the different people arguing to see whether they’re on your side or they’re on the side of the drug companies and the insurance companies and so on. But you’ll be able to see that process on C-SPAN.”
Small point of order -- the guys in my side are "on the side of the drug companies and the insurance companies and so on" but that is off-point. Candidate/Senator Obama promised all kinds of transparency: 48 hours of bills online, CSPAN debates, &c. President Obama, conversely, is selecting which private companies constitute news organizations and ramming bills through the legislative process even too fast for Congress (think about that...)
UPDATE: Also curious that he had no compunction about dictating policy to the Legislative Branch and sadly less curious that noone called him on it.
Sturm and drang reigned when Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal. The guy whose cable TV network is not really even a news organization was buying a flagship national paper.
I think the results have been pretty uneventful. The news pages have not gone FOXNews. But I do claim that the editorial page photographs have gone a little NY Post. Gone are the romantic retro woodcut illustrations. They have been replaced by full color photos. And if the photo editor likes you, you do okay, Speaker Pelosi has a Nightmare-on-K-Street photo that repeats frequently, and a common photo of the President makes him look a little hectoring.
Today's photo of Pay Czar, however, is my new favorite. This is the guy who is telling you how much money you can make! Here he is seemingly caught in the act:
Now anybody who appoints, approves, or accepts a position of Pay Czar in the United States certainly deserves this and worse. I just find it funny. Less humor abounds in the attached Homan Jenkins, Jr. editorial:
Mr. Feinberg is an apt symbol indeed, for this gamble is built on the conceit that Washington can hector the recipients, whether auto companies, banks or homeowners, into behaving in ways that are "responsible." So far, however, human nature is proving a disappointment: Take the outbreak of tax fraud related to the government's emergency home-buyer's credit.
Nor is the larger gamble looking so good either. Banks continue to fail at an alarming rate, the dollar is under assault, and Washington is looking at a future of trillion-dollar deficits. One might have guessed it would take a decade of Obamanomics to produce European welfare state levels of youth unemployment, but at 18.5% we're there.
L.A. votes to "Go Google"; pressure shifts to Google and the cloud
The Los Angeles City Council today voted unanimously to “Go Google,” approving a $7.25 million contract to outsource the city’s e-mail system to Google’s cloud and transition some 30,000 city employees to the cloud over the coming year, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
Clearly, this is a big deal for the city of Los Angeles. But this vote is also monumental for cloud computing as a whole, which has gained popularity and widespread interest but still relatively little adoption as companies - and municipalities, apparently - weigh the anticipated cost benefits over the unknown risks that might come with system failures or data breaches.
It interests me first on a tech level. Cloud computing makes a lot of sense to me, and an adopter of this size will be a huge uplift. I'm more interested in cloud back-end than the Google front-end, but this is pretty ballsy of them to do both.
On the political side, it's probably not ballsy. Have the unions made it to IT yet? (That AFSCME video runs through my head every day.) I am guessing this is a "safe" place for governments to try to save money without disrupting the unionized workforce.
If you're down at city hall, Brother Keith, paying some speeding tickets or something, be sure to tell them that jk says "well done!"
Must see to believe. I cannot embed, but grab a barf bag and listen all the way to the end. Rep Barney Frank defends himself from charges of inaction by Ralph Nader: "We Are Trying On Every Front To Increase The Role Of Government." Got it Ralph? You irrelevant (and strangely svelte) piece of putrefied horseflesh!
WH Press Sec Robert Gibbs goes to a baseball analogy to explain the Executive Branch's "War on FOX!" :A little chin music to back the batter of the plate. QOTD goes to commenter Tulpa at Reason's Hit and Run blog:
Considering that Obama can't even throw the ball to the plate without skipping it on the grass a couple of times, I don't think "chin music" is the best analogy. Maybe "shoelace music".
It happened so fast, I never told ThreeSources. But I am completely hooked on this show. Nathan Fillion is awesome. It has a superb ensemble supporting cast. The stories are clever. And -- even without vampires -- it has a lot of Whedonesque cinematography. I don't recognize veterans on the credits, but the folks doing this show are serious fans at the least.
Lastly, Detective Beckett is the answer for everybody on Sarah Connor withdrawal. They call on a millionaire who has a gun registered in the caliber used on a murder. He says "it hasn't been fired in years." "Or cleaned," returns Beckett disdainfully.
I started watching Season Two live, and I got the DVDs from Season One on Netflix. -- in a couple of days I will be fully caught up.
I give it five stars. The stories are self-contained enough that I would not worry about continuity, you could start anywhere.
UPDATE: It was good to see the brown coat, but that clip is all you get. Correction: this is only the second season of Castle, not third as I said in the original post (since corrected). And, yes, I have seen all the episodes now.
John Stossel, who used to work for an Executive Branch Certified Media Organization (look for the Obama -- FairNews® label!) hits an important point today that needs to be made to his old audience. And he quoted Milton Friedman to boot:
There are people going to jail for insider trading and I think it has been a great mistake. You should want more insider trading, not less. You want to give the people most likely to have knowledge about deficiencies of the company an incentive to make the public aware of that.
Only the government could think it's a good idea to chase information out of capital markets. The market is there to direct capital to its best uses.
The health-care debate is part of a moral struggle currently being played out over the free enterprise system. It will be replayed in every major policy debate in the coming months, from financial regulatory reform to a cap-and-trade system for limiting carbon emissions. The choices will ultimately always come down to competing visions of America's future. Will we strengthen freedom, individual opportunity and enterprise? Or will we expand the role of the state and its power? -- AEI Chief Arthur Brooks in a great guest editorial on health care in the WSJ
No, no, no, no — you have committed apostasy; heresy! You are not allowed to speak of warming except in the most emotional, alarmist tones!
You are not allowed to follow an objective, skeptical line of reasoning in this matter. You are not allowed to consider whether or not it is cost-efficient or even possible to cease all carbon emissions; you simply must do it.
This is from a commenter on the Freakonomics blog, requoted in an elegant attempt by a very sharp (scary) scientist to insert actual reason and scientific principles into the debate. Like Freakonomist Steven Levitt, Nathan Myhrvold is not a DAWG-denier I can claim backs me. But, like Levitt, I think he was surprised at the vitriol of the anti-scientific opposition that emerged to question their supposed heterodoxy.
Insty links to a Glenn Garvin article from April 2004's Reason, If I've read it, I've forgotten. Garvin uses a funny, irreverent tone to mock -- really crucify -- the lefties in academia and media who continue to apologize for Communism even after mountains of evidence.
The revisionists' dominion over the domestic side of Cold War history has been even more total. That's been written as melodrama, with the U.S. Communist Party, or CPUSA -- a collection of amiable folk singers, brave anti-segregationists, and Steinbeckian labor organizers -- trying to rescue the maiden of American democracy from the railroad tracks where McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, and the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) had tied her down. The revisionists reluctantly gave some ground on the nature of the Soviet Union as Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost allowed some ugly facts to bubble to the surface, but they were adamant on the U.S. side: The Communist Party was just a lefty variant of the Republicans and Democrats, and people like Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs were innocent martyrs, the victims of a demented witch hunt.
I'm still laughing at a handful of great lines. To the historian who wants to "move on," he points out that historians can't be bothered with a lot of old stuff. The bon mots come fast and furious.
The role of Obama courtier may suit Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow just fine, but for any real journalist, being blessed as "legitimate" by a powerful politician is a challenge to prove one's independence. -- James Taranto
Dammned, troglodyte, bone-headed deniers of established science! Who do they think they are? Don't they know how many scientists support...relativity?
EVER since Arthur Eddington travelled to the island of Príncipe off Africa to measure starlight bending around the sun during a 1919 eclipse, evidence for Einstein's theory of general relativity has only become stronger. Could it now be that starlight from distant galaxies is illuminating cracks in the theory's foundation?
Clearly, these people are on the payroll of Big Time...
I say "Marginal Tax Rates" and even the ThreeSources choir gets heavy eyelids (I always say that by the time you get to EBITA, you can put any audience to sleep).
But here's a great story in Forbes that puts a 70% marginal tax rate into perspective. It enumerates the perverse incentives -- and puts human faces on them. Three workers are shown who would be better off working less or not at all.
There are now more than two dozen federal tax breaks, including seven created or expanded by February's $787 billion stimulus, that disappear (often simultaneously) as income rises. As her adjusted gross income climbs from $60,000 to $90,000, a single parent could lose some or all of the $1,000 per child credit, the $2,500 per college student credit, the $400 Making Work Pay credit and the $8,000 first-time home buyer credit, as well as deductions for contributions to an individual retirement account and for interest paid on a student loan. Such gotchas can push up the marginal federal income tax rate--that is, the tax on the next $1 earned--far beyond the top 35% rate imposed on rich folks. For a mom with a $30,000 income, the phaseout of the earned income credit and loss of a federal Pell college grant can produce a 40%-plus marginal rate, without counting Social Security and Medicare taxes.
This is a good column to mail. I don't know that it has any new news for the choir, but it does a superb job showing the tradeoffs from what seem like good programs.
Hat-tip: Instapundit, who sees it as "Going Galt."
Your cousin comes at you with an email, you reply with an IBD editorial,
She sends you an AP link, you mail her a copy of Atlas Shrugged.
It's the Chicago Way...
I have heard "The Chicago Way" many times (they even had it on the Irish TV series "Ballykissangel"), but I never knew where it was from. Kim Strassel provides a citation, quotes it, and then compares it to the Obama Administration. Great stuff and another Friday jk link to Strassel won't surprise nobody.
But my blog brother was looking for examples of "disingenuousness" from the President. And I feel the biggest bait-and-switch was the promise of "a new kind of politics" that is post-partisan, post-racial, post-political, post-toasties, &c. Candidate/Senator Obama promised Gandhi; President Obama gives us a cross between Nixon and Al Capone.
What makes these efforts notable is that they are not the lashing out of a frustrated political operation. They are calculated campaigns, designed to create bogeymen, to divide the opposition, to frighten players into compliance. The White House sees a once-in-a-generation opportunity on health care and climate. It is obsessed with winning these near-term battles, and will take no prisoners. It knows that CEOs are easily intimidated and (Fox News ratings aside) it is getting some of its way. Besides, roughing up conservatives gives the liberal blogosphere something to write about besides Guantanamo.
The Oval Office might be more concerned with the long term. It is 10 months in; more than three long years to go. The strategy to play dirty now and triangulate later is risky. One day, say when immigration reform comes due, the Chamber might come in handy. That is if the Chamber isn't too far gone.
White House targets also aren't dopes. The corporate community is realizing that playing nice doesn't guarantee safety. The health executives signed up for reform, only to remain the president's political pińatas. It surely grates that the unions—now running their own ads against ObamaCare—haven't been targeted. If the choice is cooperate and get nailed, or oppose and possibly win, some might take that bet.
There's also the little fact that many Americans voted for this president in thrall to his vow to bring the country together. It's hard to do that amid gunfire, and voters might just notice.
It's Kim Strassel -- ya gotta read da whole thing, wheddah you's from Chicago er not.
"It’s a mistake," said Rep. Jason Altmire, a moderate Democrat from western Pennsylvania. "I think it’s beneath the White House to get into a tit for tat with news organizations."
Altmire was talking about the Obama administration’s efforts to undercut Fox News. But he said his remarks applied just the same to White House efforts to marginalize the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobby targeted for its opposition to climate change legislation.
"There’s no reason to gratuitously piss off all those companies," added another Democrat, Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia. "The Chamber isn’t an opponent."
I follow PennSays on Twitter and meant to post a recommendation to it last week. Penn does short videos (kind of a cheap imitation of the virtual coffeehouse, really...) that are the closest thing to a vblog that I've ever seen. Jillette is an interesting and likeable guy, and the videos are fun to watch.
Except this one from last week. I found it very sad. While I am still ambivalent on Beck fandom, Penn is 100% right and Tommy Smothers is 100% wrong. "If Hitler has a show, would you go on?" Asinine.
Instapundit linked this morning and I watched it again. Reynolds suggests it's a good excuse not to have idols -- not a bad takeaway.
But the segue machine really kicked in when Don Surber (another awesome Twitter followee) piled on:
Tommy Smothers yelled at Penn Jillette for appearing on a TV show?
That’s like Chong yelling at you for having a bong.
God, I am old.
I remember when the Smothers Brothers were for free speech.
I guess the only speech Tommy Smothers supports now is yelling at people he disagrees with.
For some reason, John Stossel questions government’s ability to run health care:
Now I hear about another absurd green energy subsidy: government subsidizes wind farmers so much that, in Western Texas, they run the turbines even when nobody wants electricity. because the grid there has a limited capacity, wind farms literally have to pay companies to take the extra energy: This April, the price of electricity in Western Texas was negative 23% of the time.
This follows up on his post on free golf carts (costing less than the tax break). I have seriously considered a golf cart. I live on a course and it would rock for trash runs and trips to the strip mall 3/4 mile across the course. Hey, free stuff from the gub'mint! Go Obama!!
Somin has clearly read the book -- and had life experiences that eerily parallel Rand's. This makes for an interesting and solid review of the new Rand biography.
There was, however, one important point that I underrated: Ayn Rand was the greatest popularizer of libertarian ideas of the last 100 years. Many more people have read Rand’s books than have read all the works of Friedman, Hayek, Mises, Nozick, and all the other modern libertarian thinkers combined. In becoming a libertarian without any influence from Rand, I was actually unusual. Over the last 15 years, I have met a large number of libertarian intellectuals and activists of the last two generations, including some of the most famous. More often than not, reading Rand influenced their conversion to libertarianism, even though very few fully endorse her theories or consider themselves Objectivists. Burns quotes Milton Friedman’s perceptive assessment of Rand as “an utterly intolerant and dogmatic person who did a great deal of good.” I think he was probably right.
WASHINGTON — Just as Congressional leaders are calling to extend a popular tax credit for first-time homebuyers, government investigators are reporting new findings that point to widespread fraud in the program.
Only the Times could make that so completely free of irony.
Berkeley Square's Kurt O headlines this week with a solo rendition of "Take the A-Train." He calls it goofin' around but I thought it captured the live feel of the virtual coffeehouse and asked it I could include it.
The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills. -- Thomas Jeferson.
WSJ's "Noatble & Quotable" picks up a Der Spiegel Article by Hans-Ulrich Stoldt and Klaus Wiegrefe
"What would happen if the desert became communist? Nothing for a while, and then there would be a sand shortage." Jokes like that made the rounds among East Germans during the communist era, and West Germany's intelligence service would collect them, as a way to assess the public mood behind the Iron Curtain but also to amuse its masters in Bonn, the West German capital.
A story at the Politico essentially argues that Drudge is playing politics with the decline of the U.S. dollar:
On Tuesday, Matt Drudge ran a headline about the weakening U.S. dollar on his website, Drudgereport.com. In and of itself, that would be unremarkable, except that it was the 18th time Drudge had posted a link to a story about the weak dollar this month.
And October was only 20 days old.
Clearly, Matt Drudge has developed a fascination with the declining U.S. dollar.
“He’s fixated on it,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. “There’s no question that Drudge can alter what people are paying attention to.”
Drudge also has tried to tie President Barack Obama to the dollar’s plunge. “Obama Dollar Retreats Most Against Commodities in Wealth Shift,” noted Drudge’s link to a Bloomberg story Oct. 13. “Obama Under Fire Over Dollar,” he headlined Oct. 7, linking to a story in the Financial Times.
Nevermind the fact that he is linking to stories from other sources with this theme. Of course, such discussion is common regarding the dollar and the president. The BBC reported in 2004:
But the pace of the dollar's decline has picked up since President George W Bush - whose heavy spending has pushed the US finances into the red - was elected to a second term in office last week.
Are we to believe that the spending policies of the current administration will somehow have different effects on the value of the dollar?
The best part of the Politico is this excerpt:
What’s more, there’s one economic upside to a soft dollar: increased exports for U.S. manufacturers. Reporter Nelson Schwartz noted in an article in The New York Times on Sunday: “A weak dollar could prove beneficial to the American economy by aiding long-suffering manufacturers, rebuilding a stronger industrial base and lifting exports even if it makes life harder for trading partners around the world, especially in Europe.”
But that Times article, titled “In Dollar’s Fall, Upside for U.S. Exports,” did not receive a link from Drudge.
Of course, the degree of this effect is dependent on elasticities. Even beyond that, however, defending the declining purchasing power around the world as a positive sign because it boosts exports is like arguing that the upside to unemployment is that we all get to experience more leisure.
What if the entire healthcare reform debate rested on a false premise? (It does.) What if a prominent and respected thought leader on the "government option" side of the debate made a public statement that exposed the false premise and he was videotaped to prove it? (He has.) Alas, probably nothing but I'll shout it from the rooftop anyway.
The existing "treat on demand" mandate for American hospitals is based on the premise that "we can't let sick people die" just because they can't pay for their care. Somebody should remind Robert Reich, who said:
And by the way, we are going to have to, if you are very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for a couple of months. IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE SO WE'RE GONNA LET YOU DIE. [1:15]
"It's too expensive, so we're gonna let you die." These nine words are so important to the future of the free world that they mark my first EVER use of bold underlined italic all-caps. EVER!
So the obvious question for Mister Reich and every other hypocritical, disingenuous mouthpiece for healthcare "reform" and "compromise" is this:
"If we can let old people die then why can't we let sick people be sick? Even if it means they might die?"
If it is acceptable for the government to deny medical treatment to patients with no fault other than their advanced age (even if they would have had the means and the will to pay for their own care before you "fixed" the healthcare system) why isn't it acceptable for hospitals to deny medical treatment to patients who can't pay for it (even though the public and private means to be prepared for those costs are ubiquitous and could be made even more so?)
I had a private email thread with a ThreeSources friend who has been pretty skeptical of the Tea Party movement. I would second Zomblog's experience if not his exact description:
Since I had never before encountered an actual “Tea Party” (i.e. an anti-Obama protest by conservative, libertarian and/or right-wing voters), I was curious to see if the partiers lived up to their reputation as “extremists” (at least as portrayed by the media). But instead of scary extremism, what I found was a surprising and piercing sense of humor (something that had been mostly lacking from the angry protests of the Bush era).
Hank at Devil Dog Brew, forwards a note from a Colonel in Afghanistan:
Hank, I want you to know that I received the Devil Dog Brew care package donated by John Kranz of Erie, Colorado. This is absolutely one of the best care packages I have ever seen. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines will all enjoy the coffee, snacks, and gifts. We are all thankful for Americans like John who take the time to send a package like this one. Thanks to you for providing quality products and supporting the Military. Also, thanks to John for his generosity.
Semper Fi, Greg
Don't send the FTC after me, I make no money for my endorsement, but this coffee is very good. We've all become used to the "Seattle-Style" roast where the beans are toasted (detractors call it burnt). I like this taste but have to admit this is a refreshing change. It is full flavored and robust without the toasted edge. I recommend it highly.
I had a blog post brewing in my head when I woke up this morning. Curiously, Blogging God James Taranto has thieved it:
British health care, it seems, resembles American elementary and secondary education, in that the government has a monopoly but there is an expensive private opt-out--and many of those who run the monopoly avail themselves of the private system. If you like the public schools, you'll love ObamaCare!
Taranto is following up on a story that British Heath Care workers will be given taxpayer-financed private care. Else, socialized medicine will kill all the providers. Beautiful, isn't it?
But I had two thoughts on education (all my family members are teachers, I'm a dead man if one of them ever stumbles on ThreeSources). The first is the title: public education is the ultimate public option. No, there's no law to keep us from opening up the ThreeSources Academy of Reason and Civics and Advanced PE, but all of our students will have to pay for both public education and our inflated tuition. The government will regulate how many days are taught and have great influence on our curricula. Lastly, if we do well and attract attention, we can be denied building permits, accreditation, fire code clearances, &c.
We can swim but they completely own the pool. A serious person cannot help but see that health care would be just like that. Crappy substandard care for all, and an escape of quality and innovation that only the rich could afford. Progressive, indeed!
The other point is that innovation in a sector is frozen to the time government takes over. The highly subsidized and regulated passenger railways are frozen at WWII technology, British Health Care in 1975 all the time. And American education has not progressed an inch since Wilson was President (most would say it has fallen). In spite of communications, Internet, advances in access to books and information, and ubiquitous, inexpensive computers, schools have seen no improvement.
Medicine has made startling gains, but it might be 2009 forever. Shame
I still have a dream of a third Liberal International Economic Order (LEIO) springing up in India after we completely screw it up here. Dr. Deepak Lal, an Economics Professor at UCLA, coins the term in his magisterial "Reviving the Invisible Hand." The first in Pax Britannia, from the repeal of the Corn Laws to the first world war; the second is America from the end of WWII to the election of President Obama today.
There's no more territory to settle and create a new home for liberty like our grandfathers did, but I wonder that the seeds of British common law sown in the occupation of the subcontinent, together with the impressive intellectual achievements of the Indian people might not allow them to take charge of the free world for awhile. Hey, they laughed at the colonists in America...
Exhibit B: A surge in sales of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Jennifer Burns in Foreign Policy:
Rand's celebration of independence and personal autonomy has proven to be powerfully subversive in a culture that places great emphasis on conforming to the dictates of family, religion, and tradition. Gargi Rawat, a correspondent and news anchor for top tv channel ndtv and a former Rand admirer, says Rand's theory of the supremacy of reason and the virtue of selfishness adds up to "the antithesis" of Indian culture, which explains the attraction for Rawat in her youth and for many rebellious Indian teens today.
In recent years, the so-called "Howard Roark effect" has swept across wealthy Indian society. Shortly after winning Miss India Earth, the country's top beauty pageant, in 2005, Niharika Singh cited The Fountainhead as her favorite book. "Ayn Rand helped me win the crown," she declared. Other stars, including biotech queen Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, actress Preity Zinta, and soccer-player-turned-dancer Baichung Bhutia have all credited Rand with helping them succeed.
Beyond personal inspiration, however, the Indian excitement for Rand today is linked to a larger enthusiasm for the country's inchoate but powerful drive for development and wealth. Since the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, India has seen a gradual shift away from socialism, much appreciated by Rand's fans. Vikram Bajaj, a 45-year-old entrepreneur who considers himself an objectivist, has lived through Rand's evolution from an ignored outsider to a popular prophet of capitalism. When he discovered Rand, taxation rates for high earners were hovering at 85 percent of income; now, with her books widely available, that upper rate is only 30 percent.
The Obama Administration takes a step toward increasing liberty:
WASHINGTON – Federal drug agents won't pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.
Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.
Now, I know that I don't speak for all ThreeSourcers with my appeal for both medical marijuana and decriminalization. But I will appeal to a belief in Federalism, the Tenth Amendment, and opposition to Raich v Gonzales and Wickard v Filburn which I am guessing may be moderately universal 'round these parts.
This was always my hope of a small silver lining in the dark cloud of President Obama's arrogation of executive power. Mister Holder at DOJ did not set a high bar and I feared that the Obama years would be a perfect goose-egg for liberty. But this is good. Huzzah!
Yes, again we have jk in a battle of wits with a famous Harvard professor -- get your bets down...
N. Gregory Mankiw is brilliant and a pretty reliable voice for freedom, free trade, and free markets. But the professor has been bewitched by the elegance of Pigouvian taxation and has lost sight of the power it affords government. Sure, let's just tax carbon instead of income, then we'll fix global warming whether it is a problem or not. Who can complain?
Me-me-me-me-me-me-me professor, the guy in the back with his hand up! "But what is next? And do we really want to let government decide what is bad and should be taxed?"
Trevor Butterworth in Forbes is unconvinced. And he makes a superb comparison of curing society by taxation (Arthur C. Pigou, call your office!) with curing a patient with leeches. This guy is on a roll:
Recently, taxes on sugary sodas have been hailed as a painless way to tackle obesity, despite the absence of proof that the taxes would actually achieve this goal. Now the latest advice for "leeching" America comes from Dr. Lloyd I. Sederer, medical director for the New York State Office of Mental Health, and Dr. Eric Goplerud, director of the Center for Integrated Behavioral Health Policy at George Washington University. Writing in the Washington Post, they argue that imposing heavy taxes on alcohol would both reduce the harmful effects of heavy drinking and help pay for health reform. The logic is that if teens drink less, they'll have less unprotected sex, reducing their exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.
Is President Obama disingenuous? I've been searching for evidence of this to share with a dear cousin who believes that Sarah Palin is, but Barack Obama is not. My handicap is that her chosen news sources are all on television: FOX, KERA, ABC, CBS.
Most astounding of all is what this Congress is willing to do to struggling middle-class families. The bill would impose nearly $400 billion in new taxes and fees. Nearly 90% of that burden will be shouldered by those making $200,000 or less.
Somewhere between $360,000,000,000 and "one dime" is a broken campaign promise. Unfortunately, it was in a newspaper. Worse yet, on the opinion page.
Six hours without electricity! I had about an hour of Internet through routers on UPS and laptop batteries, but no dev server. I made Starbucks VIA® instant with water heated in a french press with two tea candles. (I still have the Y2K hand coffee grinder, but the VIA was good and much simpler.
Like Robinson C'rusoe, it's primitive as can be...
And yes, before you ask: once a hippie guitar player, always a hippie guitar player -- it was disconnected for non-payment. My credit card expired two months ago, so AutoPay stopped paying. Bad day, but we're back.
White Guilt and other byproducts of modern public education
My word, what are they teaching at Berkeley these days? First from JK's morning read we have Cal Berkeley American History major Jennifer Burns writing a doctoral dissertation cum biography of Ayn Rand and next we see another Berkeley girl, this time a psychotherapist, quoting the late philosopher in her explanation of why whites voted for Obama.
Given the brainwashing of several generations, did millions of whites vote for Obama out of white guilt? Yes, but it runs deeper than this.
What's happening is not just white guilt, but white shame. Shame is a much more devastating emotion.
We feel guilty about an action, for instance, cheating on taxes or spouses. Shame makes us feel bad about who we are, as though something is wrong with us.
That is what happened with Julie, Joe, and Rose. They were dumped on so often by so many that they absorbed the shame and started detesting themselves.
Interestingly, Obama, in one of his autobiographies, reports being intrigued by Malcolm X's statement that, as a biracial man, he despised his whiteness; that he wished there was some way that he could excise his white blood.
Now we have millions of whites who are ashamed of their white blood. Coincidence?
And there's more.
Along with white guilt and shame, there's another reason why whites flocked to a leader with no experience in leading: white fear. While many liberals reside in safe towns, still there's always a threat.
Turn on the 6 o'clock news and hear about the latest cop murder or mob rampage. Rodney King riots in LA, the mayhem in Oakland, murdered police officers. Then listen to reportage that blames the victims.
Thuggery is celebrated. Bad guys are hecka cool; the innocents stupid and naive. Write a rap song about beating up a whore and killing a cop, and win a Grammy.
Think I'm exaggerating? If there isn't an atmosphere of racial fear, why did people threaten a race war if Obama lost? Why are dissenters tarred with the vile label of racist? (Translation: pure evil)
Many liberals voted for Obama in the hopes that all would be forgiven. That if whites handed over some power, finally we can move on and get along. We'll be safe.
Had someone like General Colin Powell or former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. been elected, we probably would not have a foreboding, fearful atmosphere. Though they lean left, both men are patriotic, experienced leaders who may have facilitated racial healing.
Ironically, White America envisioned forgiveness, a letting go of old wounds. Instead we have emboldened people obsessed with evil deeds carried out by citizens long dead.
If you want to see her Rand quotes you'll have to read the article. I've excerpted enough already.
"During my long journey through the world of evil, I had discovered three sources of power: the power of an individual's inner freedom, the power of a free society, and the power of the solidarity of the free world."-- Natan Sharansky, "The Case for Democracy"
Cuban punk rocker Gorki Aguila credits the third source for his freedom after his arrest for "pre-criminal behavior" and "social dangerousness." What a great and sad story:
Hat-tip: Instapundit. Professor Reynolds nails it with "Compare to the “rebel” posers here in the States . . . ."
"A handful of Obama appointees," writes the Post, "are awakening a vast regulatory apparatus with authority over nearly every U.S. workplace, 15,000 consumer products, and most items found in kitchen pantries and medicine cabinets."
Near the top of the list? The dread menace of Cheerios, the burp-inducing breakfast cereal that lies (lies!) about its crunchety goodness and heart-helping properties. Or at least needs to run clinical studies on more unwilling children
Nick Gillespie told me to read the whole article but I confess I did not. A ThreeSources friend, however, mails a link to the original WaPo story -- and it is eerily worse than Gillespie's ridiculing:
"In the Bush administration, the problem was that the political folks were hostile to the mission," said Michael A. Livermore, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Regulation at New York University Law School. "We've already seen the new direction of this White House play out in other regulatory aspects -- the Environmental Protection Agency and financial regulation. With the consumer protection agencies, you're going to see a lot more stuff happening because they fit Obama's broad vision for government."
1) Oh crap! "They are awakening a vast regulatory apparatus..."
2) Score one for the little-l libs who defended Sunstein while the Social Conservatives were seeking a scalp. As my emailer says "Who wudda thunk Cass Sunstein is all that is standing between me and the jackboots swooping in to take my cheerios?"
3) Can we get our Democrat friends to agree that this arrogation of power to the executive branch is not healthy? Really guys, President Palin or Huckabee or some monster you'll despise will be elected someday and will have these levers of power at his or her disposal. Let's go back to Congress making the laws as described in Article I "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. "
I really enjoyed this Matt Welch piece this morning. I was gonna link then I wasn't, then I was.
But a great friend of ThreeSources sent the link with the suggestion "This ought to be required reading for all Americans." And I cannot argue.
It was the largest breach of the Iron Curtain in a generation, and it kicked off a remarkable chain of events that ended 11 weeks later with the righteous citizen dismantling of the Berlin Wall.
Twenty years later, the anniversary of that historic border crossing was noted in exactly four American newspapers, according to the Nexis database, and all four mentions were in reprints of a single syndicated column. August anniversaries receiving more media play in the U.S. included the 400th anniversary of Galileo building his telescope, the 150th anniversary of the first oil well, and the 25th anniversary of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A Google News search of “anniversary” and “freedom” on August 23, 2009, turned up scores of Woodstock references before the first mention of Hungary.
Get used to it, if you haven’t already. November 1989 was the most liberating month of arguably the most liberating year in human history, yet two decades later the country that led the Cold War coalition against communism seems less interested than ever in commemorating, let alone processing the lessons from, the collapse of its longtime foe.
How can you "sell" freedom to a polity that does not value it?
I suggested that my initial reaction and remarks about Nobel Economics Prize winners President Barack Obama Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson might have to be "revised and extended."
Reading yet another positive review today, this time from David Henderson of the Hoover Institution, I am going to stop digging and offer a full and fulsome retraction.
I, jk, misread the existence of structured, non-coercive association that is respectful of property rights as collectivism. I criticized without complete knowledge and my criticism was off base. I humbly recant and apologize to the Nobel committee and any ThreeSourcers who were inconvenienced.
Hard to pick from two choices in one WSJ Editorial. The Ed Page chides industry lobbying groups for trying to appease Congress and only now seeing that ObamaCare will not be a great deal for them. Choice one is "and we thought you had to be smart to get into med school," but I think I'll have to go with:
All of these lobbies should have known better. The insurers have been especially foolish, given that ObamaCare has all along been about converting them into public utilities. Washington will design benefits and set prices—and now there's even talk in the House of a windfall profits tax. The CEOs of Aetna, WellPoint, UnitedHealthcare and the rest deserve to be sued for destroying shareholder value through political malpractice. If nothing else, this exercise provides an object lesson in the wisdom of the Washington adage that "if you're not at the table, you're on the menu." The industry is "at the table"—as the main course.
UPDATE: A belated QOTD on the same topic yesterday:
The AMA goes to bed with the Obama administration, and predictably wakes up with fleas. -- Don Luskin
For a blog with PA and Colorado ties there's been a surprising silence about the NLDS between the Rox and Phillies, the only one of four first-round series not to end in a sweep. It's about time somebody changed that.
Dagny and I left the big girls with Opa and took the baby to the game last night. We were just as ready and willing to bundle up the night before but the baseball powers that be (Pelosi and Reed?) somehow decided that yesterday's 30.0 degree first pitch was sufficiently better than Saturday's 26.6 degrees that they gave us a start time of 8:07 PM MDT (10:07 pm Eastern.) Great. After the four and a quarter hour game we arrived back at the farm around 2 am, the same time the game ended on the east coast.
Today's first pitch will be warmer (it's 44.1 and rising at the moment) and in the daylight at 4:07 local time. But the weather isn't the story, Rockies pitching is. Losing Jorge DeLaRosa in his last regular season start was a body blow. Hammel has done well this year, being one of five Rox pitchers with 10 or more wins this season, but I'd have preferred to see him start a road game instead given his bipolar performances home vs. away.
I wasn't confident going in last night but still felt the home team would pull it out at the end. The magic never struck. The hill was too steep. While Phillies fans moan that Lidge walked two in the ninth, freezing Coors Field partisans howled on every first pitch ball and each of the eight, yes EIGHT, bases on balls given up last night by the pitchers we have come to rely on since June 5th. Today, however, I'm more confident. As Tulo says, those other games were never "must win." This one is. This team has pride and today's starter has the goods. The Phillies go back home today but the Rockies invite themselves along for a one-game playoff tomorrow. Winner-take-all.
Investor's Business Daily editorial board tells John McCain to "exit the stage" and says his failed campaign's one positive legacy was "It made Sarah Palin a national figure."
Biegun, who helped with Palin's Hong Kong speech last month and was her chief foreign policy aide during last year's campaign, told Investor's Business Daily that the former governor showed "great passion for foreign policy and national security" during the campaign, calling it "an area on which she has great instincts."
She's "free-trade oriented," he says, with "a strong sense of the importance of American leadership in the world."
This post Insty linked to made me think of ThreeSources's token left-of-center Silence Dogood. We may not vote alike but we frequently think alike.
One smart comment of his is that government regulation in fuel economy and transportation safety have stifled the development of hybrid vehicles -- not gas-electric hybrids, but scooter-motorcycle, cycle-car skateboard-bus vehicles which might find a market yet cannot be brought to market because of governments need to stratify and classify.
BMW's 120MPG hybrid motorcycle-car-stealth-bomber-thingy might make some sense but one finds it hard to see its coming to market.
After reading more about the Nobel Economics Prize -- which I do take seriously -- maybe the Hope and Change Prize was not poorly decided.
I reserve the right to revise and extend these remarks as I learn a little more. But the Michael Spense overview that Professor Mankiw links to puts me ill at ease. "The common theme underlying the prize this year is that markets do not solve all problems of resource allocation and incentives well or even at all."
The deeper insight that these scholars have helped us to come to understand is that there are many circumstances in which non-cooperative outcomes (nash equilibria) are deficient or sub-optimal, and that a good part of economic and social progress lies in the creative design of institutions whose purpose is to cause these non-cooperative equilibria to come closer to socially and economically efficient and fair results.
Climate change is a commons problem on a global scale with the added complication that collective action is designed not directly to produce results (in the sense of temperature reduction), but rather to acquire tail insurance by shifting the probability distributions against outcomes that are highly destructive but not certain to occur. Though some are not convinced this is a problem worth acting on, a majority globally recognize that there are risks to be taken seriously. This may be the most complex commons problem we have yet faced. We are in the midst of shifting values with respect to energy efficiency and clean technology. The challenge is to design institutions, mechanisms and incentives that move us in the right direction.
I stand ready to be disabused of my opposition. No doubt laureates Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson know a couple of things that I do not. But the claim that "people and societies find ways through organizational structures and arrangements, political and other institutions, values, incentives and recognition, and the careful management of information, to solve these problems" leaves me cold.
UPDATE II: A roundup of positive reviews from FEE.org:
The bloggers emphasize that both economists have devoted their attention to voluntary forms of governance, Ostrom in commons (among other things) and Williamson in firms. Regarding Ostrom, Tabarrok notes, “[H]er work has explored how between the atomized individual and the heavy-hand of government there is a range of voluntary, collective associations that over time can evolve efficient and equitable rules for the use of common resources…. For Ostrom it’s not the tragedy of the commons but the opportunity of the commons.”
Sixteen months into his Administration, there was a mystery to be explained about Jimmy Carter: the contrast between the promise and popularity of his first months in office and the disappointment so widely felt later on. Part of this had to do with the inevitable end of the presidential honeymoon, with the unenviable circumstances Carter inherited, with the fickleness of the press. But much more of it grew directly from the quality Carter displayed that morning in Illinois. He was speaking with gusto because he was speaking about the subject that most inspired him: not what he proposed to do, but who he was. Where Lyndon Johnson boasted of schools built and children fed, where Edward Kennedy holds out the promise of the energies he might mobilize and the ideas he might enact, Jimmy Carter tells us that he is a good man. His positions are correct, his values sound. Like Marshal Petain after the fall of France, he has offered his person to the nation. This is not an inconsiderable gift; his performance in office shows us why it's not enough.
Today's announcement that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize illustrates that America is now better liked, at least among Eurosnobs and certain regional dictators. Results are apparently unimportant.
Victor Davis Hanson has this excellent piece, which appeared yesterday, analyzing the shift in international dynamics. Unfortunately, the lede is pretty well buried in the piece. Hanson's conclusion is that America is better liked with Obama than it was with Bush, but that we're also less respected. That is, our enemies are emboldend and our friends are nervous. Worth the read.
A fun letter from Yoram Bauman, with info on his gigs (none 'round here) and this open letter:
AN OPEN LETTER TO AUSTAN GOOLSBEE
Dear Austan: You might think that it was quite a shock for me–"the world’s first and only stand-up economist"–to find a Wall Street Journal blog with the headline "Austan Goolsbee, stand-up economist".
But in fact I was not shocked, or even surprised. You and your colleagues in the Obama administration have been quite active in redrawing the line between the public and private sectors, and it would not have been rational for me to expect that economics comedy would be immune from the onslaught.
Now, I could take your comedy endeavors as a threat and respond by hiring lobbyists to protect my turf, or by making an appearance on Fox News as “Joe the comedian”. But unlike plumbers or insurance executives or most other private sector businesses, stand-up comedians oppose barriers to entry. Although it pains me to remember the times I was crushed in comedy competitions by high school drop-outs telling fart jokes, I also remember that those crushing defeats made me stronger.
So I welcome the competition, even from the government (heck, especially from the government!) and in fact this letter is an open invitation for you to come join me in performing at the American Economic Association humor session in Atlanta on January 3, 2010. The humor session is free and open to the public, and will also feature Hugo Mialon of Emory University, Jodi N. Beggs of economistsdoitwithmodels.com, and country music legend Merle Hazard. University of Wisconsin professor Ken West will be emceeing, so you can RSVP to him or to me, or just show up unannounced and wait for Ken to invite you onstage. We even have a title for your presentation: Stand-Up Economics: The Public Option!
Regards, and hope to see you in Atlanta,
yoram bauman phd, standupeconomist.com
“the world’s first and only [private sector] stand-up economist”
Not me, Cap'n Ed, worried about felon census workers:
If the properly processed criminal record checks are any indication, the Bureau may have let a large number of violent criminals slip through the cracks. Of the prints that were properly checked, about one percent, or 1,800 workers, had criminal records that name checks failed to identify.
Of these 1,800 workers with criminal records, about 750 had their employment terminated or further reviewed due to criminal records that included crimes like rape, manslaughter and child abuse. Projecting these numbers to the employees with spoilt prints, the GAO came up with the figure of 200 census workers that may have had serious criminal records.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of turning Census Bureau workers away from our doors as we do with partisan community organizers. In their rush to hire, probably brought on in an attempt to alleviate the unemployment numbers (the money this year came from the stimulus package), the Census Bureau botched a process that private-sector employers routinely employ, and hired hundreds of felons to demand our personal information on our doorsteps.
Imagine how the Obama administration will handle hiring in the public-option health-insurance agencies …
Halfway through our victory lap and the starter's gun puts a .38 into our thigh.
Sorry for the tortured metaphor, but I really believed that citizen activism had killed socialized medicine in the United States. We had a great August recess and I thought that reason was going to prevail.
We had August; President Obama has four years. And it's over. Rasmussen polls last week showed support for reform returning, and the new CBO numbers are a death knell. People who are watching Katie Couric instead of reading ThreeSources are hearing that we can cover the uninsured and cut the deficit. Damn, that Obama really is a wiz.
The WSJ headline (again news pages) took me aback: "New Math Boosts Health Plan." I thought that was "new math" as in "if math were a color..." or "how does this differential equation make you feel?" But no, they were talking about the new CBO numbers.
Crisis averted! Our brave legislators have found a way to tax us enough to give us all health care hooray!
UPDATE: Our friends at Heritage are not impressed:
Enter Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) who was determined to manipulate the CBO’s scoring system as best he could and deliver a deficit neutral version of Obamacare. After months of working directly with CBO staff, Baucus scored a victory for Obamacare yesterday when the CBO released a preliminary analysis purporting to show that the Baucus bill would reduce deficits by a total of $81 billion over the next decade. The New York Times awarded Baucus with the headline that the White House has been searching for since the debate first began: “Health Care Bill Gets Green Light in Cost Analysis.” But this headline and the accompanying article are fundamentally dishonest. As the Politico reported yesterday: “While the media and lawmakers often shorthand a CBO letter as a “score” or “cost estimate,” today’s CBO letter is neither. Because the bill is still in “conceptual,” or layman’s terms, CBO’s letter today was a “preliminary analysis.” For it to be an official cost estimate, the bill has to be translated into legislative language.”
Okay, so now everybody who follows @Heritage (27,913) are against it and everybody who reads the New York Times...
Robert E. Moffit of the Heritage Foundation provides: a good look at the freedom implications of an individual mandate, versus its efficacy in "At What Cost To Freedom?: Obama's Individual Mandate Is a Bad Idea."
Meanwhile, Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) has unveiled a Senate Finance Committee draft that also has an individual mandate. It would levy a penalty of up to $3,800 on families for what the president calls "irresponsible behavior," by which he means health-care choices of which he disapproves. In Obama's usage, "personal responsibility" is selective; it doesn't extend to the question of taking responsibility for one's health care. That's the government's job. Of course, federal officials will have outside help in deciding for the rest of us. Powerful special-interest groups and health-industry lobbyists will do all they can to make sure that their favored medical treatments, procedures, drugs, and devices are part of the "bare minimum" that every plan must include.
The only argument the left has for ObamaCare is the idea of near universal coverage. I would not trade quality, innovation and privacy for it, mind you, but it is compelling to suggest that most every American would be covered.
Well, except for 25 million. WSJ (News pages, not my wingnut buddies)
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that an earlier version of the Senate Finance bill would ensure health insurance for 91% of Americans -- leaving about 25 million people without coverage. The CBO's estimates for the latest version of the bill are due out this week; it is expected to cover fewer people. About 85% of Americans currently have health insurance.
The industry concerns illustrate one tension at the heart of the latest Senate bill. Key industries bought into the measure -- and agreed to absorb cuts in reimbursements -- on the expectation that millions of new customers would be brought into the health-care system. The weaker the mandate to buy insurance, the fewer the new customers.
In addition, if the bill leaves many Americans without coverage, that would undermine President Barack Obama's goal of bringing near-universal health insurance to the U.S.
The thesis of the article is that many of the industry players who went along because they stood to gain from universal coverage are now realizing that they get the full pro quo without so much of the quid.
I don't think any ThreeSourcer will cry as the rent-seekers are hoisted on their own petard (ow!). But I suggest that the supporters are losing their only convincing argument. We are going to go from 40 million to 25 million uninsured -- and this is worth destroying the whole system?
I’ve introduced you to my friends Mr. Bentham and Mr. Hume because they represent the choices we face on issue after issue. This country is about to have a big debate on the role of government. The polarizers on cable TV think it’s going to be a debate between socialism and free-market purism. But it’s really going to be a debate about how to promote innovation.
Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw, who calls it Brooks at his best.
Referencing Paul Krugman's astonishment that Ronald Reagan "was a fierce opponent of Medicare's creation, warning that it would destroy American freedom. (Honest.)" I would turn your attention to a WSJ Editorial today: The War on Specialists.
My friends continually tell me my fears are overblown and "nobody is talking about a government takeover." Umm, what do you call this then?
The chunks Team Obama took out of cardiology RVUs are especially drastic. The basic tools of heart specialists—echocardiograms (stress tests) and catheterizations—are slashed by 42% and 24%, respectively. Jack Lewin, who heads the American College of Cardiology, said in an interview that the crackdown will cause "a horrible disruption" that will force many community and independent practices to close their doors, lay off staff or make senior patients wait days or weeks for tests and services.
Cancer doctors get hit because the Administration believes specialists order too many MRIs and CT scans. Certain kinds of diagnostic imaging lose 24%.
These are Medicare changes right out of the Baucus bill. Senators will decide, and in the wisdom of the world's most deliberative body, Cancer and Heart Disease are clearly the best places to cut costs.
Moore recently told a reporter that "evil" capitalism "has done nothing for me." It was, apparently, some other economic system that made him fabulously wealthy and bought his Upper West Side penthouse. Go figure. So let's do our part and help Moore strike a blow against the mustache-twisting movie executives by liberating his intellectual property from capitalism (i.e. downloading his movie at PirateBay). -- Michael C. Moynihan
A funny thing happened on the way to the collapse of market capitalism in the face of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. It didn't. Indeed, in Germany voters relieved Chancellor Angela Merkel of the necessity of cohabiting with a left-wing party, allowing her to form a coalition with a party favouring lower taxes and free markets. And in Pittsburgh leaders representing more than 90% of the world's GDP convened to figure out how to make markets work better, rather than to hoist the red flag. The workers are to be relieved, not of their chains, but of credit-card terms that are excessively onerous, and helped to retain their private property—their homes.
All of this is contrary to expectations. The communist spectre that Karl Marx confidently predicted would be haunting Europe is instead haunting Europe's left-wing parties, with even Vladimir Putin seeking to attract investment by re-privatising the firms he snatched. Which raises an interesting question: why haven't the economic turmoil and rising unemployment led workers to the barricades, instead of to their bankers to renegotiate their mortgages?
It might be because Spain's leftish government has proved less able to cope with economic collapse than countries with more centrist governments. Or because Britain, with a leftish government, is now the sick man of Europe, its financial sector in intensive care, its recovery likely to be the slowest in Europe, its prime credit rating threatened. Or it might be because left-wing trade unions, greedily demanding their public-sector members be exempted from the pain they want others to share, have lost their credibility and ability to lead a leftward lurch.
All of those factors contribute to the unexpected strength of the right in a world in which a record number of families are being tossed out of their homes, and jobs have been disappearing by the million.
This quote from Antonin Scalia is from October 1, so it doesn't qualify as QOTD. However, it could qualify for QOTW, QOTM or maybe QOTY. According to Scalia, we are devoting too many of our brightest minds to lawyering.
I mean there’d be a, you know, a defense or public defender from Podunk, you know, and this woman is really brilliant, you know. Why isn’t she out inventing the automobile or, you know, doing something productive for this society?
I mean lawyers, after all, don’t produce anything. They enable other people to produce and to go on with their lives efficiently and in an atmosphere of freedom. That’s important, but it doesn’t put food on the table and there have to be other people who are doing that. And I worry that we are devoting too many of our very best minds to this enterprise.
“Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night, people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago . . . to watch the results of the US presidential election,” Mr Obama told the Olympic committee. “Their interest wasn’t about me as an individual . . . Rather, it was rooted in the belief that America’s experiment in democracy still speaks to a set of universal aspirations and ideals . . . And so I urge you to choose Chicago!”
The President is obviously a bright dude, but he could learn a little from watching a few Billy Mays commercials.
UPDATE: I am enjoying this story waaay too much. Dana Loesch finds that it's Bush's fault:
Senator Rowland Burris of Illinois, the Senator who was appointed to fill President Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat, blames George Bush for Chicago not getting the Olympics in 2016. Burris stated in an interview, shortly after the announcement, that the image of the U. S. has been so tarnished in the last 8 years that, even Barack Obama making an unprecedented pitch for the games could not overcome the hatred the world has for us as a result of George Bush.
UPDATE II: Quote of the Day: Meanwhile, Jim Treacher emails [Instapundit]: “Obama just took the gold in the Men’s Political-Capital Toss.”
I laugh to keep from crying. One post for me today and it is pretty serious.
Steven Hayward, superstar of the Weekly Standard, takes to the WaPo today with Is Conservatism Brain Dead? It's a serious and important column. I'd ask every ThreeSourcer to read it in full.
I saw the title and the WaPo, and I figured some old Bush speechwriter had gotten loose or that some elitist snob was going to lecture me on liking Governor Palin, or something.
But Hayward is serious and impeccably credentialed. And he hits very close to home. The populists speak for the party and the movement. Is there an intellectual left ("remaining" would be a better word)? I dropped cable before Glenn Beck, so I cannot comment. But my friends on the left assume I am defined by Hannity and Limbaugh and Malkin and Coulter.
William Kristol has the chops, but he adheres to that greatness conservatism of Bush and McCain. Buckley had a far more libertarian bent (Pot leaves on the cover of National Review -- like the damn Utne Reader or something!)
I'm glad that Malkin and Beck (and Palin) are selling books, and I appreciate Beck's bringing the Van Jones and ACORN contretempses to a wider audience. But I have allowed all my magazine subscriptions to expire. Party because of Nicholas Nassim Taleb's admonition to read more books, partly because my nieces and nephews are too old to sell subscriptions (Uncle John was pure gold in the day). But partly because none of them really speak to me any more and none speak for me. I guess the WSJ Ed Page, and now IBD Ed Page.
There is no one in the Obama administration like Robert Rubin, who had the ear of President Clinton. Rubin convinced Clinton that the Bond Vigilantes would riot if he pursued policies that would lead to a structural federal deficit, i.e., one that would widen despite a growing economy. So far, the Bond Vigilantes haven’t gone on a rampage despite projections of $10tn in deficits over the next 10 years. So it is no wonder that Obama’s political advisors are acting as though they’ve been handed a blank check by the bond market. However, the longer they ignore the economic advisors, the greater is the likelihood that the blank check will bounce.
Is Mister Goolsbee under the bus? I think he's a grownup, but I haven't seen him in a while.
"Bond Vigilantes," as spontaneous order phenomena, will not provide a lot of warning. Does anybody think the Obama administration has a plan B?
UPDATE: Goolsbee under the bus? Nope, he's on the road doing standup.