October 31, 2013
When You've Lost New York Magazine...
Google is Evil
For those who didn't already believe it, consider this: Google, Oracle Workers Enlisted for Obamacare 'Tech Surge'
None are Safe
I've had an office in Boulder County since 1988. I now work from home, but it is virtualized to Boulder space. I've seen a lot of nonsense. When the floor is opened for questions at a company meeting, and one can ask anything of any of the executive leadership team, a frequent choice of this valuable resource is to inquire as to "why the CEO was seen three weeks ago Tuesday throwing an aluminum can in the trash!"
I've inured to the zip code somewhat. But I sometimes let my mind slip to dream of what it would be like to work for the Koch Brothers or the Ayn Rand Institute, or AEI and ...
Oh. Wait: Et tu AEI?
Freedom. Free markets. Individual initiative. Independence. The pursuit of happiness unencumbered by the opinions and constraints of officials, "experts," and other such busybodies. Don't Tread On Me.
Gotta go, we always have the Tofu Chili contest every year on Hallowe'en...
I Don't Know, Might be Worth a Try
Jim Geraghty says "But this... this is just too big. You can't just trot out another shiny object. ("Hey, the Obamas have a new puppy!") You can't ignore it. You can't wait for the media to forget about it. We're talking about perhaps as many as 15 million people losing their health insurance:"
I don't know, a new puppy fixes a lot. Have you all seen Harriet?
October 30, 2013
Where You Live
We don't throw out a lot of dedications in blog posts, but this one is for Brother jg:
But, the ACA law is littered with even worse economic incentives. One of them is mobility.
One o' them Red Solo Cup folks
The awesome Coyote Blog reports on
These folks -- despite not knowing my income, my net worth, my health situation, my age, my family size, my number and age of kids, my risk adversity, my degree of hypochondria, my preventative care habits, my diet, my lifestyle, my personal preferences and priorities, or any details about my insurance policy that I spend many hours analyzing and cross-comparing -- have decided they know better than I what health insurance I should want.
Another Progressive Translation:
Red Solo Cup
Everybody is focusing on "whatever." Yet my favorite testimony so far is Marsha Blackburn (How about those glasses - TN) explaining that "some folks would rather drive a Ford than a Ferrari, and some would rather drink out of a red solo cup."
Video at the link.
The Audacity of Mendacity
So this isn't a new claim. It also is no longer a partisan one, with the NBC News expose in our rear-view.
So let's review a list of the Affordable Care Act claims that were made, by a dishonest president, who DID care whether or not he could be elected:
"If you like your health plan, you can keep it. Period"
No, If -I- like your health plan, you can keep it. Until I decide otherwise.
"If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. No matter what."
No, If -I- like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Unless he's a Republican.
"Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance costs will go down."
No, under the ACA, "rich white people" will pay more, "lower income families and individuals will get the most help" and everyone will get less medical care. Well, everyone except the political class and their friends.
And today,, from HHS Secretary Sebelius, this:
"The website has never crashed. It is functional, but at a very slow speed and very low reliability and has continued to function."
Yes, and Generalissimo Francisco Franco is not really dead after all. He's merely breathing at a very slow speed and very low reliability and has continued to function.
UPDATE: Holman Jenkins expounds on Lie #1.
Meanwhile, in the Private Sector...
I hate to take my eye off the unfolding ObamaCare® debacle (really, I do, it is too much fun!) But we must wonder sometimes what magic might happen in areas where government left a modicum of opportunity for freedom and innovation.
Three stores in the Internet Segue Machine:
1. Energy fact of the day: Within months, the US will have three oil fields producing more than 1 million barrels per day
2, Natural Decarbonation U.S. carbon emissions fell in 2012, thanks to the oil and gas industry..
3. -- let me know if you'd like a copy mailed over the paywall -- The Coming Carbon Asset Bubble Fossil-fuel investments are destined to lose their economic value. Investors need to adjust now by Al Gore and David Blood
Don't everybody get on E-Trade at once to dump their XOM! It's not ObamaCare, it was not designed to handle this kind of volume!
No, but I've got a fudge brownie with cream cheese icing!
But in September, when the state published its 228-page list of locations where navigators could be found, along with the days and times they were supposed to be available to the public, they published the wrong one, according to a DOH spokesman.
Oops. The list included a cupcake store, limo service, and a pharmacy.
Hey, we all make mistakes. Why, the last time I took over one-sixth of the US economy, well, you've all heard that story...
UPDATE: All hail Taranto!
Does Michelle Obama know that her husband's program is encouraging people to stuff themselves with sugar and other refined carbohydrates? If they're going to do that, they might as well just give callers the number of a funeral home.
Tweet of the Day
Progessives want "better" health care for the "citizens"
All of this talk about Affordable Care Act Horror Stories and "lifestage transition navigators" made me want to go back and listen to this old nugget from Progressive Clintonite Robert Reich, recorded before Barack Obama became president - twice.
Not just a prediction any more.
October 29, 2013
Aaaah! I get it now...
Enough is enough ... For 18 months now, French professional soccer has been fighting, without being heard, against the 75 percent tax project, the tax is not only unfair and discriminatory, but also threatens the clubs competitiveness and survival. -- Frederic Thiriez, president of the French Professional Soccer League
Oh, So THAT'S What "Period" and "Under Any Circumstances" Means
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, quoted in NRO's Corner:
"It was not precise enough…[it] should have been caveated with – ‘assuming you have a policy that in fact does do what the bill is designed to do.’”
Many of us knew it had to be a lie at the time. We just didn't know that "No ifs, ands or buts" doesn't also mean "no assumings."
Pity the Fool
ACA ad Hominem
This post is filed under television, et. al, because I'm going to rip on a television column in the L.A. Times, which in turn rips on former television star Suzanne Somers because she Calls Obamacare 'Ponzi Scheme' in Error Ridden Article.
The column never rebuts the characterization. Instead it attacks her accuracy on tangential issues, but not until highlighting her sex life, alternative health practices and past infomercial gigs.
"An earlier version of this post contained a quotation attributed to Lenin ('Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state') that has been widely disputed," the Journal wrote in an addendum to the original piece. "And it included a quotation attributed to Churchill ('Control your citizens’ health care and you control your citizens') that the Journal has been unable to confirm."
Gasp! Well then, that's that I guess - Obamacare is clearly not a Socialist Ponzi scheme. Here's what she said, according to the (L.A.) Times:
"Boomers are smart," Somers wrote in a Monday opinion piece for the online version of the Wall Street Journal. "They see the train wreck coming… most I speak with think the Affordable Care Act is a greater Ponzi scheme than that pulled off by Bernie Madoff."
"And don't forget, dear reader, that the Wall Street Journal is owned by the same multimegabillionaire who owns FOX NEWS!!!" But what Somers wrote is that others whom she speaks with have called it that.
And then there was the Nuclear Option for discrediting a Hollywood Starlet, at any stage of her career - the mug shot. Try to figure out which of these headed the WSJ article and which one ran in the Times.
What? Oh, of course I read about her sex life. But the sex was, yawn, with her husband.
This Could be a Negative
Last week, we reported that the "honor system" is being used to confirm the identity and certification of Navigators/Assisters. The "Find Local Help" feature on Healthcare.gov refers consumers to potential predators. -- David SteinbergHat-tip: Insty
Quote (and ACAHS) of the Day
There's also the third possibility: The administration has learned that a large meteor will destroy the world on or before November 30, and wants to live out its remaining time on the planet in relative peace, rather than dodging "are we there yet?" questions about the website every day. So basically the possibilities are:
That's Obamaphile and Juicebox Mafioso Jonathan Chait, quoted in an (excellent) Megan McArdle piece.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States
Bret Stephens: "The president didn't know the NSA was spying on world leaders, but he's found time for at least 146 rounds of golf."
The WSJ Ed Page shares that dignified photo and Stephens enumerates several examples of the President's diffident, deracinated management style.
Mister Obama is truly going to keep historians busy for decades.
October 28, 2013
Those Right Wing Loonies at NBC News are at it again!
President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.
Not to put too fine a point on it, they lied.
Don't Take Away the Rope!
I really enjoyed reading this Investor's editorial and leaned toward posting. Then I saw who wrote it and couldn't get to the login page too quickly.
The mainstream media have in large part turned against ObamaCare, and all these factoids are going to be reported. So that raises the question regarding 2014: Do Republicans really want to bail out Obama by handing him a year's delay? If all the flaws in ObamaCare do pan out, they may well overshadow the shutdown negatives suffered by the GOP.
The "I" the author refers to is Lawrence Kudlow. And I agree.
RIP Lou Reed
Like Elvis, I have to admit that I appreciate Lou Reed more as an icon than my being a big fan of his music. I heartily recommend The Andy Warhol Diaries -- and not on Kindle. It is an interesting look at some interesting lives and times.
For the Requiescat in Pace tour, Eric Alper posts 20 Best Lou Reed Quotes. I'll have to go with:
One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz.
I cannot not think of The Little Willies.
October 27, 2013
Live From New York!
The Framers believed that the most effective way to protect liberty was not to create a list of specific rights that the government could not infringe, but instead to create a finite list of powers that the government could exercise. We call these "enumerated powers," and the ones delegated to the federal government are specifically set forth in the Constitution, mostly in Article I, Section 8. The Framers' intent to maximize the amount of space for liberty while minimizing the space for government is unmistakable. Put yourself in a shark cage and you have only a few inches of room to swim around. Put the shark in the cage and the rest of the ocean is yours.That's from the beginning of Clark M. Neily III's Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution's Promise of Limited Government. I like the shark cage metaphor on many levels. And the book opens up as a good choir sermon, highlighting the Supreme Court cases we talk about on ThreeSources
If that were all the book did, it would be well worth the 11 bucks. Neily is an Institute for Justice lawyer and he lucidly covers the history of important decisions concerning liberty and draws the line all the way to the cases that IJ takes on.
That brings us to the granddaddy of all economic liberty cases, Lochner v. New York. If unbridled government were a vampire, Lochner would be sunlight, holy water, a crucifix, and garlic all rolled into one. Little wonder it is scorned by the establishment and taught to law students as one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of all time. And for people with great faith in the political process--those who believe that government rarely acts for improper purposes like suppressing competition for the benefit of entrenched interests--Lochner may well be anathema. But those of us who see government differently tend to see Lochner differently as well. We admire its candor.
A few chapters in, my nodding head bumped against a two-by-four of an idea I have long opposed. And I have had to rethink my position of the Ninth Amendment, unenumerated rights, and even [duh duh duuuuuuh!] Griswold v Connecticut.
The only way out of the pro-government bias of the Judiciary is to keep the cage tightly around the shark. If that prevents majoritarian legislation -- well that is not a bug, it's a feature. And I take one more step away from Judge Bork.
Throughout history, including the history of this country, political majorities have embraced profoundly immoral policies, from slavery and eugenics to the racial apartheid of Jim Crow. Accordingly, even in those "wide areas of life" not specifically addressed by the Constitution--which include everything from getting married and having a family to putting food on your table and how to spend your free time--the Supreme Court nevertheless requires that there be a rational relationship between the regulation and a legitimate governmental purpose. The problem, as discussed in Chapter 3, is how much wiggle room the courts find in the word "rational." So much, it turns out, that the constitutionality of a given law often depends on the government's willingness to misrepresent its true ends in court.
In addition to the challenge, it also cleared up something that I have struggled to understand. The Constitution is so clear that you need no legal training nor abstruse theoretical instruction to understand it. That is, until you get to Amendment 14 and the idea of (selective) Incorporation of the Bill of Rights. Suddenly six dimensional Calibi-Yau geometry seems pedestrian.
Neily presents it as a failed workaround to proper resect for the Privileges and Immunities Clause. Had P&I not been eviscerated in The Slaughter House Cases, we would have an understandable and defendable protection for our rights. Without that (and Neily compares it to epicycles' place in non-Copernican astronomy) we have several convoluted mechanisms to enable courts to protect our 14th amendment rights . . . when they feel like it.
A great book. Five stars.
UPDATE: With a little different style than "Review Corner," Nick Sebilla at Buzzfeed presents 9 Unbelievable Facts You Didn't Know About Federal Courts
Breaking Bad as a Conservative Morality Play
many conservative themes in Breaking Bad, the one I appreciate most is the fragility of civilization: Preserving it requires a constant struggle. ... I mean families, communities, and individuals. These can be healthy only when individuals are willing to take on faith that some moral laws — whether grounded in nature, theology, or simple trial and error — are there for a good reason..
and this takeaway which goes to current politics:
The merely rational man will not make commitments to causes greater than his own self-interest. We need binding dogmas to constrain us even when our intellects or appetites try to seduce us to a different path. When, through the arrogance of our intellect and the promptings of our egos, we decide that we can make the rules up as we go, we invariably relearn why we need those rules.
And the Hollywood guy who did so much right to get this story in front of us gets it wrong at the very end "I don't think [White] is an evil man." Of course he is; our choices define us.
Krauthammer and Stewart
I'm surprised JK missed this (all the ACA schadenfreude has clearly made him giddy) , but I'll be even more amazed if I imbed the video properly. This is very good, respectful debate. It's even a little spooky to see Mr. Stewart hold his ground so well (I had heard, now I believe). Stewart does present the liberal line effectively, and Dr. Krauthammer even more effectively brings the topic back to: too much government. Dr. K was smart enough to not parry all of Stewart's conjectures (Cruz would win a prez primary tomorrow / our current fiduciaries are not unprecedented...), and Stewart admitted that's what they are ... which in my mind, makes him a really big man.
Really, really good stuff. Hat tip to Steve Kelly's afternoon show on KNUS... Parts two and three on the Daily Show
UPDATE [jg] - Please allow me:
October 25, 2013
"Just a Glitch"
That's the meme from the O'care cheerleaders. Even the president claims, "The Affordable Care Act is more than just a web site." Perhaps, but all roads still lead to Rome.
But the truth is those applications - on paper or by phone - have to get entered into the same lousy website that is causing the problems in the first place. And the people processing the paper and calls don't have any cyber secret passage to duck around that. They too have to deal with all the frustrations of HealthCare.gov - full-time.
With apologies to the relatively much better managed National Aeronautics and Space Administration...
Cheers for Sens. Bennett and Mark Udall
Both my Democratic Senators have signed a letter to extend the open enrollment:
Ten Senate Democrats have signed on to a letter crafted by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) urging the Obama administration to extend the open enrollment period for the recently launched health-care exchanges.
Udall is up in 2014 though I don't think he is in much trouble. Still happy to see my senators among what Glenn Reynolds calls "The Ranks of terrorists, arsonists, and seditionists."
UPDATE: Kim Strassel (is this a walkback of sorts?) piles on:
After 16 long days of vowing to Republicans that they would not cave in any way, shape or form on ObamaCare, Democrats spent their first post-shutdown week caving in every way, shape and form. With the GOP's antics now over, the only story now is the unrivaled disaster that is the president's health-care law.
October 24, 2013
Obama Administration? Looking out for Number One
Not really looking out for the little guy though.
Some Problems with the "Shop & Browse" Feature
The right wing wackos at CBS are piling on ObamaCare® again:
Now it's our turn
I must admit, not every ACA horror story is all that horrible.
For some time now I've been trying to explain that democrats in general, and President Obama in particular, have become Health Insurance salesmen instead of politicians. Meaning, that their popularity now depends on voters being happy about the cost benefit ratio of their health insurance plans. For most of my lifetime Republicans have never had a better cudgel with which to bludgeon their opponent. But now my point is being made in the "On the left" column at IBD Ed page by Dana Milbank:
This is perhaps the biggest problem facing ObamaCare and probably will haunt it long after the technical problems at HealthCare.gov are fixed.
Rilly? That's sure what it sounded like when he was campaigning for President. Other than that though, I agree! (Who says we can't compromise.) It's Obamacare's fault!
Honest to God, you want to know the good news about the exchange sites? Right now, there just isn't that much personal private information on it for identity thieves to steal. -- Jim GeraghtyUPDATE: There seems to be little else to frustrate them.
As you can see, you can enumerate valid and invalid user accounts in the database. Even worse is there are no form or appearance of automation deterrents such as CAPTCHA or image verifications that a human is attempting this. We can easily feed this through Burp Intruder for the content length from the response to see which usernames were actually valid. Essentially you could enumerate the entire database of user accounts in the new healthcare.gov website through brute forcing the response codes and finding valid usernames.
[This is me, putting on my shocked face...]
Establishment GOP Got Them No Good Walkin' (Back) Blues
That shutdown that was the worst thing to happen to the GOP since John Wilkes Booth got a TicketHub® account? Kate Bachelder gets some WSJ Ed Page space:
In the midst of the public relations shellacking that Republicans have endured for shutting down the government, the GOP can take heart that at least one prominent red-state Democrat up for re-election next year is suffering in the polls.
Shellack our way to a majority, babies!
October 23, 2013
Annie Mack, Live at the Wicked Moose
That's blog friend Sugarchuck on guitar (the rather tasty solo starting at 2:19)
Bonus track: Baptized in the Blues
Buy the CD/Official Website (unlike ObamaCare, I was able to quickly log in and purchase the MP3s)
Vote for Me, I canceled your health insurance!
I don't think there would be any debate that this constitutes an "Affordable Care Act" horror story - Millions of Americans Are Losing Their Health Plans Because of Obamacare. Sixteen million, for starters.
Kaiser Health News called up a few insurers around the country and found that hundreds of thousands of Americans have already received cancellation notices.
And that doesn't include small groups or, after their 1 year delay, large group plans.
You'll love it! Trust us!
Obamacare Rollout Could Hurt Dems in 2014
Don't take my word for it. Here is the spin from NPR:
For the congressional Democrats whose votes made the Affordable Care Act a reality and who will have to defend their support for the law in the 2014 midterm elections, the problems with the federal website are a political nightmare.
We may yet learn which profession is most reviled by the American public: politicians, or insurance salesmen.
H8ers got H8.
In a gentle reminder that not all the crazies on Facebook are lefties, Dr. Sharon Schuetz @ Lady Patriots.com claims that the fainting prop which blog friend AndyN and I enjoyed so much was faked!
For some strange reason, Obama has to have props around him when he does one of his con-jobs in the Rose Garden, or wherever he chooses to receive his worshipers. This was no different, except that he had animated props this time. Although it was well staged there were enough holes in this little scene to drive the proverbial truck through.
I don't know that the success stories' dropping like flies really sells this product, but you can click through and view a Three Minute Proof.
"Nobody is more frustrated than me
The transcript of President Obama's Rose Garden speech on Obamacare glitches is available, curiously, in the Atlas Shrugged Quote of the Day Archives: "I order you to solve it!"
Remember how one of the arguments in support of Obamacare was that insuring everyone would be cheaper and more efficient than paying for uninsured people to use emergency room care? Uh oh.
The bottom line, though, is that even if the Affordable Care Act delivers everything its backers hope to see, more than 2 million Californians will still be without insurance and a dependable source of health care. And nearly half of those people will be undocumented immigrants.
New York Health Insurance Rates "Fall" Under Obamacare
As linked in a comment yesterday, New York State has at least one Obamacare subscriber as of Monday. Fox News left-wing contributor Sally Kohn wrote,
"Honestly, I couldn't wait to sign up for ObamaCare -- not because I talk about it on television, but because I'm tired of being ripped off by my insurance company.
Not surprising since we're accustomed to everything costing more in New York, at least in NYC. But Ms. Kohn herself gives the clue to why this is so in her earlier piece, Five Reasons Americans Already Love Obamacare
Personally, as someone who pays through the nose for individual insurance in New York State -- a state where, historically, few individual insurance options have even been available == I can't wait to enroll in ObamaCare and see my premiums plummet, as they are expected to by at least 50% [hyperlink in original]
From the link:
Economists expected the law to significantly decrease premiums in the Empire State, which in 1993 prohibited insurers from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, required carriers to charge "all consumers the exact same rate," but did not compel young and healthy people to enroll in coverage. As a result, insurers dramatically increased prices and enrollment in the individual market "steadily diminished."
Essentially, New York imposed some Obamacare rules on its own, resulting in massive rate hikes and subscriber flight. Now that Obamacare is here to "spread the pain around" New York's rates are expected to be relatively lower. Relative, that is, to what they had already soared up to. Why? Because of the individual mandate. No wonder delaying it was "non-negotiable."
October 22, 2013
Stop the Presses, Markets Work!
Well, that's how I would read this Yahoo News piece. But Liz Goodwin sees things differently.
It seems that Jean Laurie of Long-GUY-Land faces something of a conundrum. She got her $30,000 check from FEMA (finally!) to fix her house's Sandy-induced repairs. But, suddenly, Fed subsidized flood insurance now comes with . . . conditions.
But that rebuilding comes with a catch. New flood maps drawn up by FEMA, along with reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) enacted in 2012, meant that many residents, including the Lauries, must lift up their homes or face dramatically higher flood insurance rates.
Can I get an "Ehrmigawd!!?" The deal where Colorado desert dwellers continually pay to rebuild seaside housing that would never be built by rational people will now require at least architectural consideration.
As the article describes reason, insurance, and risk, it is of course written as a pity party.
Joanna Tierno, a Staten Island resident facing a 4,000 percent rate hike under the new rules, says she's considering borrowing money to pay off her mortgage and then going uninsured, because it would cost so much less. "We're up against not just recovering from a disaster, but being hit by superhigh rates that's basically ... taking people's homes from them,"
Finally, I agree. You want to rebuild please, please, oh pretty please do it without insurance that I have to subsidize. John Stossel does a great riff on this: he's rebuilt his home once (maybe twice) on our dime but at least has the decency to go on TV and tell us how stoopid it is that people who make much less than he does allow repetitive foolishness ignoring the oldest known real estate advice. And Ms. Laurie?
"We were not going to try to come back unless we could come back how we wanted to," Jean Laurie told Yahoo News on a sunny day in October. She stood on the empty lot where her home used to be, nostalgically pointing out the spots where she had built a Japanese garden and installed a heated pool before the storm swept it all way.
Can't Spin This Turd
Even when I agree with Stewart, I find him difficult to watch. But there are some gems in here if you can take 9:51 of smarm:
Aren't those supposed to be ones and zeros? They've used fours and fives! (~8:30)
Hat-tip: Libertarian Republic
Methinks the Establishment Republicans (boo! hiss!) might be walking back the absolutism of their attacks on Senator Ted Cruz (HOSS TX). I offer, as Exhibit A, the following headline:
I love the WSJ Ed Page and I like Fred Barnes, but one must admit that the combination is about as establishment as it gets. Yet the "defeat" suddenly enjoys an "upside."
Now across-the-board cuts go into effect annually without the need for a fresh vote in Congress or the president's signature. Nor are Republicans forced to offer Democrats the sweetener of tax increases. The sequester is cuts and only cuts. As a result, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell noted proudly last week when announcing the end of the shutdown that "government spending has declined for two years in a row [for] the first time in 50 years."
All we need are a few more defeats, n'est ce pas?
Quote of the Day
The White House pitched President Obama's Rose Garden event on Monday as a new transparency, but the event amounted to an infomercial, complete with a 1-800 number. Operators are standing by and "the product is good," the President said. -- WSJ Ed Page
While the Giants Improve to 1 - 6
The Empire State's Obamacare® franchise is still Oh-for:
In New York, one of only 16 states that has its own exchange, not one person had succeeded in using the site to enroll in a plan as of Friday.
October 21, 2013
ACA Non-Horror Stories
Fair and Gorram Balanced -- that's ThreeSources! Let's take a few minutes to dwell on ObamaCare®'s success stories. Thankfully, the Administration gathered many of them together for us today to highlight his speech. No doubt, these were representative samples of Billions and Billions of satisfied customers, but you can fit only so many on a stage.
Even better, Byron York has gone over the details and distilled them into an article in the Washington Examiner (your other home for feel-good ACA news!)
For example, a Pennsylvania man named Malik Hassan was in the group, and this is the White House description of his situation, in full: "Malik Hassan works at a restaurant in Philadelphia. Hassan, who does not receive coverage through his employer, is looking forward to enrolling for health coverage this fall. He recently used Healthcare.gov. to process his application and is waiting for the options for potential plans in Philadelphia."
Well, Byron, that's just one of success stories. He's got more where that came from -- just click on through!
UPDATE: Three of the 13 had actually signed up!
Of the 13 people who flanked President Obama during his speech defending Obamacare in the Rose Garden Monday, just three had successfully registered for the new Obamacare exchanges.
UPDATE II: We were told there would be no math. Taranto counts one fewer:
Of the 13 White House success stories, only 2 actually seem to have bought policies through the exchanges. A few others have benefited from those other ObamaCare provisions that, according to the president, "you may not have noticed." But you'd think the White House would be able to come up with a baker's dozen people who've actually benefited in some way. And again, none of the success stories involve people who've willingly signed up to pay higher premiums--those without whom ObamaCare's economics cannot work.
Otequay of the Ayday
Now, that the shutdown is over, the public can focus on this unfolding disaster. And thanks to the fact that conservative GOP lawmakers fought a valiant fight to stop ObamaCare, they'll know exactly who to blame. -Investor's Ed Page: Meltdown Now in Plain Sight
Today's Ramirez cartoon is also a must-see.
What would we do without "experts?"
From the same Matthew Segal article:
Nevertheless, I recently read an article in Forbes from an opt-out proponent who said "using insurance to pay for routine health care services distorts price signals and increases costs through layers of administration." This argument is specious on a few fronts.
Golly, encourage people to seek out and use preventive care. Why did nobody think of that before Obamacare?
This situation is a direct parallel for one that John Stossel has been highlighting recently - the Johnson' Administration's 'War on Poverty.' By instituting sweeping government programs (like Obamacare) the progress toward a particular goal that was already underway, ceased. If we assume that poverty levels would have continued falling, the "War on Poverty" actually caused more poverty, since the poverty rate flattened immediately. In essence, "government created poverty." Remember this next time some Tea Bagger says government never produces anything!
From a Fortune Magazine article by Matthew Segal, President and co-founder of 'OurTime-dot-org' entitled: Why Millennials Need Obamacare
Lastly, there is an argument that Obamacare disproportionately helps older people because healthy young people who pay slightly higher premiums subsidize them. Irrespective of the fact that this is how health insurance has always worked, boycotting a system because a segment of the population other than yourself will also be better off under a policy is in no way a credible reason to invalidate it. But even more importantly, you won't be young and healthy forever. Health circumstances can change at a moment's notice, and your age circumstance definitely will. You may or may not get sicker. But you will definitely get older. Do not be so myopic to think otherwise.
Mr. Obamacare apologist, did you just say that health insurance "worked" before Obamacare? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Quote of the Day
No, not the Atlas Shrugged Quote of the Day. Sadly pulled from the headlines:
The tentative $13 billion settlement that the Justice Department appears to be extracting from J.P. Morgan Chase needs to be understood as a watershed moment in American capitalism. Federal law enforcers are confiscating roughly half of a company's annual earnings for no other reason than because they can and because they want to appease their left-wing populist allies. -- WSJ Ed Page
A friend-of-a-friend on Facebook makes beautiful bows at S&S Archery. The owner is branching out to make guitars and I picked up Serial Number 6. It is a very pretty and well crafted instrument. The humidity change from Alabama to Colorado created a bit of havoc on the setup. I will take it in for some pro adjustments after it gets a little more used to the high desert.
October 18, 2013
It's Friday. More ACA Horror Stories
First, another data point:
"I believe everybody should be able to have health insurance, but at the same time, I'm being penalized. And for what?" said Weldzius, who is not offered insurance through his employer. "For someone who's always had insurance, who's always taken care of myself, now I have to change my plan?"
Impacting more than just "the 15 percent of Americans who don't currently have health care."
"It's been major sticker shock for most of my clients and prospects," said Rich Fahn, president of the Northbrook-based insurance broker Excell Benefit Group. "I'm telling (clients) that everything they know historically about health plans has changed. They either have to pay more out-of-pocket or more premiums or both. It's an overwhelming concern."
Where's that free lunch we were promised?
Insurers say the price and cost hikes result from new benefit mandates, additional taxes levied as part of the law and a requirement that they can no longer deny coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
But all of this is worth it, because more Americans now have access to quality care.
Brokers say they worry most about people who qualify for lower subsidies or none at all. Those with more modest incomes might not have enough in savings to pay for medical expenses.
October 17, 2013
I clicked too soon. Take it away Perfesser:
SO IT LOOKS LIKE more people have applied to live on Mars than have signed up for ObamaCare so far. -- Glenn Reynolds
Quote of the Day
Pollock & Hume may share the honors:
As David Hume so rightly said, "It would scarcely be more imprudent to give a prodigal son a credit in every banker's shop in London, than to empower a statesman to draw bills upon posterity." The dogma that government debt is risk-free gives the government an outsized credit in every banker's shop everywhere. -- Alex J. Pollock
Michael Yount of Charlotte, N.C., is one such unhappy customer. He and his wife, retired and in their late 50s, have been buying their own health insurance from Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) in North Carolina, paying about $380 a month with an $11,000 deductible. BCBS is offering them a new plan for three times the cost, $1,124.50 a month, still with an $11,000 deductible.
And Now, ThreeSources Blues Review
We oughtta have a regular blues review around here. Maybe I could talk SugarChuck into writing it...
Yet he doesn't do "Shameless Self Promotion" like his buddy jk. And wouldn't highlight this super review of a recent project in Blues Beat Magazine (scroll down halfway).
At the three-way intersection of gospel, soul and blues stands Minnesota native Annie Mack, who has been "Baptized in the Blues." Her exciting debut album is an uplifting, eclectic, all original ten-song testimony of how music -- and the Lord -- can change lives for the better. Mack's voice has the smoothness of cocoa butter tinged with cinnamon, warm and satisfying on both lead and harmony vocals. Accompanying her are producer Paul O’Sullivan on pedal-steel guitar, guitarists Tom Kochie and Charlie Lacy, Tim Scribner on upright and electric bass, and Miles Johnston on drums. Nine able studio guests add keyboards, horns, and background vocals. Every track is refreshing and original, showcasing Mack and her fellow artists' keen storytelling ability. This album is so great and so well done, it will propel this Minnesota girl to performing on national and international stages.
I bought the MP3s from www.anniemackblues.com a couple of days ago and have been digging it fiercely.
Five stars! Editor's Choice! Must Buy!!!
Happy Birthday, Dad!
I have posted this a couple of times, but it's due for a reprise on my Father's Centenary:
The song, Belle Isle Streetcar Line, was written for my Mom. That's her voice requesting it. Dad died a few months after this was recorded and I am pretty happy to have this footage. I had just purchased an 8mm camcorder, which seemed wondrous as the time. I brought it down to play with it and captured this.
October 16, 2013
Why can't Bob Costas do more rants like this?
Tweet of the Day
Open for Redistribution!
After a lengthy "government shutdown" in which the greatest public sacrifices were borne by visitors to America's National Parks, Congress appears poised to "re-open" the federal government. One cannot truthfully say "for business" but for whatever it is that the federal government, particularly the "nonessential" portions of Leviathan, normally does.
I support this "surrender." Important points have been made:
1) Fully 43% of federal civilian employees are non-essential, and could likely be let go, gradually and humanely, of course.
2) Republicans, at least a handful of them, have warned Americans loudly and clearly that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will make most of them worse off than they were before. They are on record as having tried to stop it before it did whatever damage is sure to come.
3) By the way, did we mention that federal government spending is out of control and we really can stop it if enough voters send us enough principled house members in '14? Toward this end, every vote between now and then adds to the ideological war chest in coming primary battles.
Now, fellow Lilliputians, it is time to step back and let Leviathan stumble along his predictable path. There are triplines in place, put there not by the Administration's partisan opponents, but by the selfish interests of millions of Americans. "I work for a living, and I vote."
One point of caution I can think of now is to be prepared to deflect calls by the Administration to "fix" or "rework" or "tweek" Obamacare as a cover for its failings. The proper rebuttal will be, this law is flawed in its premise and must be replaced with a system that delivers cost-effective care as demanded by a customer base that is free to make purchasing choices at the point of care. You know, like iTunes.
Best of all, since the "reopening" is only for 2-3 months, we get to do this all over again soon... with myriad Obamacare horror stories betwixt. What a country!
"I am canceling insurance for us and I am not paying any f**king penalty. What the hell kind of reform is this?
Give Thanks and Praise!
David Burge @iowahawkblog says HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAinfinity
I'm sure you'll want to sign.
October 15, 2013
It's not the Heat! It's the Tautology!
And all their children are above average...
Marlin Perkins has met Obamacare and boy, is he pissed
Okay, not Mutual of Omaha's 'Wild Kingdom' host, but Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini. And not pissed but at least, a Whole Lotta questions.
Asked if he would have delayed the launch of the exchange given its earlier problems, Bertolini said, "I would have, if I'd been in their seat." But, he added, "the politics got in the way of a good business decision."
But those are just the procedural issues. There's also the issue of fiscal sustainability [dared he to question "this administration's signature 'accomplishment."]
"I think the bigger issue is, will enough people sign up to make it work?" said Bertolini. Aetna, like other insurers, is counting on enough young and healthy people enrolling in the plans to offset the costs that come from providing benefits to older, sicker Americans.
Don't worry Mr. CEO, the government is always there to help you. When your profitablity disappears and your stock is delisted by the NYSE and you are either fired or go out of business, at least you'll be able to sign up for health care on the public exchanges. Who knows, you may even qualify for government subsided premiums, copays or maximum out-of-pocket limits!
Sad that the Nobel Peace price has been politicized to complete irrelevance, and that the others have had tinges of political opportunism. But the Economics prize is till the flagship of the franchise. The WSJ is extremely supportive of this year's picks: Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen at the University of Chicago and Robert Shiller of Yale University.
Mr. Shiller's work has been particularly notable for two reasons: his contribution to the Case-Shiller home price index, which has been invaluable for those who want good data on home prices both nationally and regionally; and his proposal that government pensions and entitlements be "indexed to some indicator of taxpayer ability to pay, such as GDP." Thus government payments for pensions and entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare would be tethered to the relative health of the nation's economy, and the government wouldn't, as it does now, continue to spend itself ruinously into debt. Mr. Shiller's young students--given that they're of the generation likely to be surrendering more and more of their income to the government to support its payments--should consider building a statue of him.
Quote of the Day
The second point I'd wanted to make, I said, is that for all the Republican Party's troubles, for all the fighting and fisticuffs, there is one great thing, and it is that the party is alive with idea and argument and debate. This is good, it speaks of a liveliness and vitality appropriate to a great party. And if I were a Democrat, I said, teasingly but also seriously, I would wish my party were engaged in such spirited debate, and be anxious that it is not. -- Peggy Noonan
Senate Chaplain. Really?
Chaplain Barry Black was featured on FOX News Sunday yesterday, prompting the lovely bride to say "they have a Chaplain?" And me to groan assent. I don't get uptight over church-versus-state as plenty of others can be counted on to do it on my behalf.
But I was grossly offended that he took sides. (Maybe he is kind of a Democrat Shepherd Book, keep an eye on him...) It's all well and good for low information voters to seek comity and compromise. But those paying attention should know that to disagree is to take a stand and that arguing for compromise is taking one side's position over the other.
And that, I humbly submit, is outside the aegis of the Senate Chaplain.
"Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable," Black appealed in one of his recent morning prayers that have been doled out like daily scoldings to the deadlocked Congress.
And I think he should say some pretty words when they start in the morning and then sit down. "Afflict the comfortable?" That in the job description?
October 14, 2013
Obnoxious Red Sox Fan: "You Didn't Earn That!"
My first thought when I saw the video of this classless Boston Red Sox fan manhandle a home run baseball away from the woman next to him so that he could throw it back onto the field in an infantile display of tribal disapproval was, "that's a direct consequence of teaching people that any act can be tolerated if it is committed in the name of "the public good." I could almost hear the cretin shout, "You didn't earn that" as he forcibly took property from a weaker person of the fairer sex who had the audacity to also yell, "That's my baseball!"
But the real story here, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, is that the guy is a racist who allegedly called another fan wearing a Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers jersey "Prince Fielder's crackhead brother" and "yelled at another African-American Tigers fan walking through the section, saying: "Go back to the ghetto." Of course the worst offense came as Mister Red Sox fan was being escorted from the area by stadium security and answered a "bye-bye" salutation from the Fielder jersey wearer with "Bye, Travon."
The closest Passan came to criticizing Mr. Red Sox fan was this paragraph about the act that got him ejected.
Video of the man taking the ball from a woman sitting next to him and chucking it onto the field quickly went viral as Boston faced a five-run deficit. The Red Sox came back for a dramatic 6-5 victory to even the ALCS at one game apiece.
Perhaps he would have cared more about the woman with the ball if she had been African-American.
I'll close with the cautionary advice of a commenter to the original linked story:
don't lump the entire Boston crowd in with this idiot... only about 90% of them behave like him.
Stay classy, Boston.
When You've Lost Ezra Klein...
1. So far, the Affordable Care Act's launch has been a failure. Not "troubled." Not "glitchy." A failure. But "so far" only encompasses 14 days. The hard question is whether the launch will still be floundering on day 30, and on day 45. -- Juicebox Mafioso, Ezra Klein
Marginal Costs, Anybody?
Dr. [Ezekiel] Emanuel is chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. [Andrew] Steinmetz is the senior research assistant.You'd think one of them might have cracked an "Econ 101" book. Once. About page 25, they would have been introduced to marginal costs and marginal benefits.
Armed with that keen understanding -- imparted routinely on college freshmen -- their guest editorial in the WSJ today would have been less of a dog's dinner.
Blaming ObamaCare® for part time wages, claim Emanuel and Steinmetz, is a "full-time fallacy" because:
Now, I happen to know two people seeking full-time employment, both of whom have been offered 29-hour positions and have been told outright that the ACA is the cause.
But rather than arguing anecdotes, I am baffled by editorials like this, of which I have seen several. Most employers are not too small (yeah, but some are). Most of those are not large enough to hit the 50-worker limit (yeah, but some are). Many offer health care (yeah, but some do not),
Because not the entire 1/3 of part-time workers wanting full-time can be blamed on ObamaCare, that must mean (poof!) that none can be. As my two job seekers are pretty close to me, I watch this topic with heightened interest. And I have seen this muddy thinking over and over.
At the margins, why are we pushing employers to provide fewer jobs in a tepid recovery? At the margins, why are we making it better to offer fewer hours?
Tales of the 47%
I am uncomfortable discussing "makers vs. takers" and Governor Romney's famous 47%. Rather than call out individual persons, broad categories and policies do not have a sad story or sympathetic visage or even -- egads! -- a discernible ethnic classification.
It's a losers game, but this is ThreeSources and we can be ourselves unless Mom comes in the room unexpectedly...
When a breakdown in EBT cards processing prevented a Walmart* in Mansfield, Louisiana from checking the limit, management advised cashiers to continue accepting the cards as payment.
The chaos that followed ultimately required intervention from local police, and left behind numerous carts filled to overflowing, apparently abandoned when the glitch-spurred shopping frenzy ended.
Time to get the government out of the charity business forever. Deserving poor accepting charity from private donations would not likely grow to this level of "entitlement." This cannot stand.
UPDATE: Ari Armstrong weighs in. Pretty hard to look at this story and not say that our Randian friends are right.
October 13, 2013
Introspection can be overdone, 'tis true. Navel gazers can be tiresome. But a little self discovery now and then is powerful.
The little company I work for, well known by a few ThreeSourcers, is now a mid-size company; we hit $101Million in top line last year. With that comes great opportunity albeit with more bureaucracy than I like, and the unfortunate swap of joie de vivre for politics. All worth it for success.
Creeping up at the edges is the mission statement, vision committee and obligatorily perky full-time trainer to explore you and your team's leadership style. As grisly as it sounds, I participated with enthusiasm because the department I work for could do with some clarity. I faced some disconnects around my not being in leadership or management anymore as my health issues suggest a different level of contribution.
Coincidentally I think, I picked up a psychology book of sorts: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Cain sees an "it takes all kinds to make a world" world, but her studies take her to Tony Robbins seminars, Harvard Business School, and many examples of a society that overvalues extroversion.
Contrary to the Harvard Business School model of vocal leadership, the ranks of effective CEOs turn out to be filled with introverts, including Charles Schwab; Bill Gates; Brenda Barnes, CEO of Sara Lee; and James Copeland, former CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
Tony [Robbins] seems to have anticipated such questions. "But I'm not an extrovert, you say!" he told us at the start of the seminar. "So? You don't have to be an extrovert to feel alive!" True enough. But it seems, according to Tony, that you'd better act like one if you don't want to flub the sales call and watch your family die like pigs in hell.
Cain opens with the story of Rosa Parks, whose quiet strength predicated her heroics in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Parks could never have filled Martin Luther King's shoes but nor could he hers.
Cain is not out to convert Tony Robbins to quiet contemplation, but she defends workers and children who practice it. Of particular interest to ThreeSourcers might be her destruction of the contemporary business and education focus on collective participation versus individual discovery.
The cooperative approach has politically progressive roots-- the theory is that students take ownership of their education when they learn from one another-- but according to elementary school teachers I interviewed at public and private schools in New York, Michigan, and Georgia, it also trains kids to express themselves in the team culture of corporate America.
She champions Steve Wozinak and the great inventors, engineers and artists who looked inside for their discoveries. And she hilariously takes down the popular "brainstorming" culture with studies that show more and better ideas from individuals.
Don't get too excited, she's not a closet Randian. One whole chapter is devoted to a certain brilliant, introverted Vice President who -- gosh darn it -- has tried to warn us about the coming catastrophe of climate change. But the extroverts in Congress cannot see the importance of a small crack in a glacier thousands of miles away and . . . (no, the Kindle version does not include a barf bag, you must furnish your own for this section).
But it is a serious book and an interesting read. I even contacted our perky trainer and ponied up $20 to take the Briggs-Meyers personality test. According to which, I am an introvert (this may surprise ThreeSourcers less than those who interact with me corporally; I happen to be a VERY LOUD introvert). Yet I agree with the score.
Four-point-five stars. Interesting enough for five, but I cannot let the VP Gore section pass without subtraction.
October 11, 2013
"Holding them to their word"
The blogosphere responds to the Pragmatism Survey: Namely, Drew M. at Ace of Spades - The GOP Civil War...The Role Of Outside Groups And The Empire Strikes Back
Former Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois decided that Senator Mark Kirk, also of Illinois, needs to be primaried b/c he called for a clean CR. Now Walsh is a former Congressman because he's, well, an idiot.
Otequay of the Ayday
Wobbly Republicans should remember why they got into this fight in the first place: to stop ObamaCare. If they cave now, they'll have given up their best chance to spare the country this monumental disaster. -IBD Editorial: Is GOP Caving With Victory at Hand?
October 10, 2013
You know, I wasn't sure about this whole government shutdown thing, but so far I'm finding it mightily amusing. -- Prof. Glenn Reynolds
Do y'all watch local TeeVee news? It's a particular form of torture, but one is rewarded with an inaccurate prediction of the local weather and an absolutely correct picture of the CW, low-information voter's worldview. And generally a couple of laughably bad stories on the evils of the Internet.
Government Shutdown: Day 10! aired last night and this morning. (I doubled down, don't know why.) Every day some important local impact -- always bad, of course -- of mean old John Boehner's petulance.
Day ten affects Colorado's flourishing craft brew industry. It seems that new seasonal brews may go unreleased because . . . wait for it . . . the Federal label approval process is shut down.
You can click the link and watch if you'd like. Several brewers are interviewed and the lovely bride speculates that each one of them voted enthusiastically for every candidate that ensured a Federal role in the design of beer labels. None dare suggest that maybe the problem is the avoidance of Article I Section 8 or the Tenth Amendment.
I think people of the right often overplay the "founders rolling in their grave" card. But I am pretty comfortable that Mister Samuel Adams at the very least would be distraught at this.
Pragmatism Update and Survey
I think we've all enjoyed Dr. Milton Wolf MD, President Obama's cousin and thorn in his side. He has provided great material on these pages. He is a man of passion, intellect, and a rare understanding of liberty qua liberty.
But is liberty served in his primary challenge to Pat Roberts (Old Fuddy Duddy - KS)?
I am sympathetic to the argument that the competition has led the veteran Senator to embrace Tea-Party-friendly positions. But I have little patience for resources' being directed to Kansas and Wyoming when Steve Lonegan is starving for funds in the Garden State just as his invincible opponent appears vinceable. I can live with Roberts and Mike Enzi (Serviceable R - WY); I wish to elect GOP leadership.
UPDATE All Hail Taranto:
Quote of the Day
But how do you really feel?
"It wasn't designed well, it wasn't implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it," Luke Chung, an online database programmer, told CBS News.
UPDATE: Video at 11:00!
Aimin' at Misbehavin'
I cannot imagine anyone's not clicking a link that Brother Keith provides, but in case you were on an IV all day yesterday and almost missed it, I wanted to promote it to a post. Matthew May at American Thinker:
Like most members of the Congress that passed it and, undoubtedly, the president of the United States who signed it, I have not read the entirety of the ill-named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Yet there is one aspect concerning that legislation of which I am certain: I will not comply.
CU Boulder votes on the Shutdown
Wow; less than 3 min. worth seeing, and more and greater kudos to Prof. Hayward!
October 8, 2013
Quote of the Day
Non Coloradan ThreeSourcers need pardon the rest of us for a month or so. On the ballot is Amendment 66 -- a $950 Million dollar tax increase to prop up union pensions and funnel money to big city union teachers. Now, opponents of the bill call it "a Billion dollar tax increase to prop up union pensions and funnel money to big city union teachers." But that is simply not fair, it is only $950 Million.
Pro-66 commercials have started up big time: "$133 brings back gym class!" "$133 hires more teachers' aides!" "All the money goes to the classroom [patently false]" and "You don't hate children, do you?" Well, that last one may have been South Park but it is early.
Doug Bruce, author of Colorado's TAxpayer Bill Of Rights (TABOR), has a lengthy email going 'round. I recommend the whole thing, but will award QOTD to:
The claim this tax is "for the children" is the biggest lie of all. No child gets one dollar. It all goes for government's near-monopoly on juvenile indoctrination. Nearly all the money will go for pay raises, either directly or by propping up their bankrupt PERA pension plan. The state treasurer, who sits on the retirement board, has written that all these billions can prop up the $25 billion deficit in profligate pension plans paying all of today's government workers (not just teachers) nearly full salaries for life, for not working.
You don't hate children, do you?
How Science Works
Somehow, this seems inconsistent with Popperian Epistemology. But here is a description of the discussion on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) Summary for Policymakers (SPM):
Concerning the evidence that the key findings of the report are based on, Saudi Arabia suggested adding "assumptions" or "scientific assumptions" to the list. The addition of "scientific assumptions" was supported by Brazil and opposed by Austria, Canada, Germany and Belgium. The latter underscored that assumptions are already implicitly included in the already-listed theory, models and expert judgement. The Group rejected the insertion.
Sounds like the science is settled...
Why not tax those who don't buy ethanol?
The WSJ Ed Page brings word of an disturbing escalation.
In its zeal to impose the ethanol boondoggle, Congress has mandated it, subsidized it, and protected it from competitors. Now some Senators are siccing prosecutors on those who still won't get on their ethanol cornwagon.
It seems a Phillips 66 service station in Kansas (you think you can make this stuff up) converted pumps to sell E85 and E15. Then The Man intervened:
According to the Renewable Fuels Association, Phillips 66 insisted that the franchisee use at least one of its tanks to sell Phillips' premium gasoline. Phillips 66 refused to comment on a private customer arrangement, though it "strenuously" denies it is trying to frustrate ethanol use.
They will not quit. "Access to Ethanol!" is the newest human right.
October 7, 2013
Steyn: That Which Shall Not Be Discussed
John Stossel took a peek into Nancy Pelosi's "bare" cupboard last night to see if she was correct in saying there is nothing left to cut. Brilliantly, he placed Social Security, Medicare and military spending on top of the cupboard since "those are so big they don't even fit in the cupboard." Mark Steyn takes on the same issue today saying, Too Much of the Federal Government Can't Be Shut Down.
"Mandatory spending" (Social Security, Medicare et al.) is authorized in perpetuity -- or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress' so-called federal budget process.
He segues from there to what passes for a spending prioritization process in the capitol of our national, nee federal, government.
Pace Sen. Reid, Republican proposals to allocate spending through targeted, mere multi-billion-dollar appropriations is not only not "irresponsible" but, in fact, a vast improvement over the "continuing resolution": To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, but continuing power corrupts continually.
I've been Tweeting and Facebooking that we're witnessing day whatever-it-is of "Essential Government." In reality, what's still steaming ahead full is well beyond what is essential.
Quote of the Day
Gotta steal it from Insty. Too. Damnnëd. Good:
Of course, I want people to have health care. I just didn't realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally. -- Two time Obama voter and ACA supporter Cindy Vinson
October 6, 2013
Quote of the Day
Meanwhile, President Obama has become the Hamlet of the West Wing: One minute he's for bombing Syria, the next he's not; one minute Larry Summers will succeed Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve, the next he won't; one minute the president is jetting off to Asia, the next he's not. To be in charge, or not to be in charge: that is indeed the question. -- Niall Ferguson
Some guys like mysteries, some thrillers, some tend towards erotica and pornography. Me, I have a problem. I enjoy reading about "The Panic of Oh-Eight."
It may not have the verve of porn, but this is a significant -- nay, huge, event in our lives. It ushered in a toleration for dirigisme in the financial sector, swept in our century's Roosevelts (Senator Elizabeth Warren, line one...) I read last week that our best and brightest students are now not choosing Wall Street careers. Even ThreeSourcers might find it hard to engender lachrymal secretions on that news, but financial innovation has been a huge gift to modernity, prosperity and property rights.
Insert obligatory Santayana quote here as almost everyone -- right and left -- are willing to settle for simplistic explanations and, concomitantly, simplistic and dangerous remedies. So I enjoy books like Arnold Kling's Not What They Had in Mind: A History of Policies that Produced the Financial Crisis of 2008 too much. Better than meth.
Kling finds roots of the crisis in the regulations that "fixed" the S&L crisis. What awaits us after a decade of Dodd-Frank?
However, much of what is now called “shadow banking” emerged in response to capital regulations. The consequent fragility of the financial system reflected above all the risk allocation created by the structured transactions and the leverage at individual institutions, rather than new relationships between institutions of different types. If we could conduct an alternate history with capital regulations that did not favor securitization and off-balance-sheet entities, then the shadow banking system would not have been an issue, and no crisis would have occurred.
Some generally right-leaning and liberty appreciating economists have questioned Bliley-Leach, which undid Glass-Steagall, but I am firmly in Kling's camp. It seems allegorical to gun control that we're going to indiscriminately tamp down innovation and participation in capital markets because the effects are sometimes deleterious, rather than nurture the good and impede the bad.
Another divergence from others I've read is that Kling questions mortgage securitization in toto:
The phenomenon of mortgage securitization is still viewed as beneficial, with a need to curb its excesses. However, I would question the rationale for securitization. Given that the government created and supported mortgage securitization, without government support or the distortion of capital regulations perhaps the market would choose a different, safer method of mortgage finance. Perhaps old-fashioned "originate-to-hold" mortgages would make a comeback if the regulatory playing field were level.
Put me down as a yes for level playing field; regulations forcing securitization over servicing should go. But I don't see securitization qua securitization as bad. It is a tool to get risk in the hands of those that can best accept it, and without the ratings issues, GSE backing, and the biases Kling opposes, I still think them a valuable tool. I'll concede a point:
However, credit risk is unlike interest-rate risk or currency risk in that it is highly asymmetric. Currencies and interest rates move up or down with approximately equal probability. Taking a position on currencies or interest rates is a bit like betting on a coin flip. In contrast, mortgages and corporate bonds default with a very low probability, but the severity of loss is high. The seller of credit default swaps is positioned like a property insurance company with a lot of exposure along the Gulf Coast. Most of the time, the seller just collects premium income. However, if a severe hurricane strikes, the losses could be very large.
This gives them a Taleb, Black Swan, Mandelbrotian risk profile -- but we let craftsmen take the guard of the blade sometimes. I think more instruments to shape the risk curve, with proper disclosure and capitalization are better than fewer. (Hey, that could be an ATT commercial: "Hey kids, what's better? More instruments to shape the risk curve with proper disclosure and capitalization or fewer?")
I'm a big Kling fan (he does pretty well on these pages) and none will be surprised that I enjoyed the book. It was released in 2009 but I somehow missed one of my favorite author's writing on my favorite topic. If you've got the '08 jones half as much as I do, you'll dig it as well. I think all ThreeSourcers will agree on unintended consequences:
Given this contrast between hindsight and the real-time perspective, the government needs to display some humility in promising to prevent future financial crises. The history of past regulatory mistakes suggests that we will not come up with a foolproof system going forward. In fact, there is a risk of creating a financial system even more dependent on centralized regulation, which could leave it at least as vulnerable to catastrophic failure.
October 5, 2013
Same old insurance rules
So supposedly the new health care law eliminates pre-existing condition restrictions. And you can stay on your parents' plan until you are 26 or some such. But there's still an "open-enrollment" period, which of course means that there's a closed enrollment period.
March 31, 2014
Government - Making life better since 1930.
UPDATE: Are we worried yet? What could possibly go wrong?
"You are allowing Connect for Health Colorado and the Department to use Social Security numbers and other information from your application to request and receive information or records to confirm the information in your application. You release Connect for Health Colorado and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing from all liability for sharing this information with other agencies for this purpose. For example, Connect for Health Colorado and the Department may get and share your information with any of the following agencies: Social Security Administration; Internal Revenue Service; United States Customs and Immigration Services; Department of Homeland Security; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Colorado Department of Labor and Employment; Financial institutions (banks, savings and loans, credit unions, insurance companies, etc.); child support enforcement agencies; employers; courts; and other federal or state agencies. We need this information to check your eligibility for health insurance or help paying for health insurance, if you choose to apply, and give you the best service possible."
October 4, 2013
That one guy who bought ObamaCare®?
This is not say that Henderson is not still valuable to the press. On Thursday, his story provided Mediaite readers with entertainment after reading the comically absurd deluge of press interest he was exposed to for simply being able to complete the reportedly three hour process of signing up for a health care exchange. On Friday, Henderson provided the nation with another service: exposing the media's interest in painting the ACA in a positive light regardless of the facts.
I wish I were smart enough to come up with this story:
Henderson's tale is a blistering critique of how the press operates today. If you invented Henderson and the story of how his actions stripped the media naked, you would be accused of making up a wild fabrication that no one could possibly believe. It’s all too fantastic, the media too credulous, the principal subject too sloppy to be believed.
[Puts dollar in the jar...] Imagine the press if one of President George W. Bush's initiatives had seen similar "glitches.' I don't think they would fabricate the single success story.
Obummercare Quote of the Day
"Are you F'ing kidding me????" she wrote on the government's Obamacare Facebook page. "Where the HELL am I supposed to get $3,000 more a year to pay for this 'bronze' health insurance plan!?!??? And I DO NOT EVEN WANT INSURANCE to begin with!! This is frightening," -"Single mother of two" commenting on Healthcare.gov Facebook page
Ummm ... told ya.
Quote of the Day
You know, if all these government services can be shut down whenever a President wants to score political points, why are we even thinking about getting the government into healthcare? -- Prof Glenn Reynolds
October 3, 2013
Tweet of the Day
Shouldn't the US Government put an Adult in charge of its Tweets?
Rilly? U can't spell out the words "two" and "you?"
October 2, 2013
The Greatest Generation!
Insty sez: "STANDING UP TO OPPRESSIVE GOVERNMENT: You'll love the 'trophy' World War II vets took home from the government shutdown blockade."
"Fixing" Health Care
This chart from another federalist.com article - 8 Charts That Explain the Explosive Growth of U.S. Health Care Costs, shows how government medical spending, originally promised to help Americans afford care, has had the opposite effect.
Gosh, maybe we really do need another huge new federal health care program like Obamacare to "fix things."
So that's how the Obama campaign raised so much cash "on the internet"
This could be an "Otequay of the Ayday" post:
“We’re all familiar with the J-curve in private equity,” said Joseph Dear chief investment officer at the California Public Employee Retirement System in March. “Well, for CalPERS, clean-tech investing has got an L-curve for ‘lose.’”
From an article at thefederalist.com -- The Venture Corporatists - "Saving the planet" has made lot of investors richer. Taxpayers? Not so much, which concludes:
As long as green technology remains not simply an economic venture but a moral one, taxpayers will continue to nobly lose money as politically connected “social entrepreneurs” reap a windfall.
Keep it Shut
A talk radio caller made a prescient comment this morning. We're not in the midst of a "government shutdown" or even a "partial government shutdown." Instead we're witnessing a "non-essential government shutdown." What a perfect opportunity for Americans to experience life without non-essential government! The longer it goes on, the less it will be missed as individuals take the initiative - much like several Republican congressmen who moved arbitrary barricades closing the WWII Memorial in D.C. yesterday - to solve problems and make things work. You know, that "land of the free" business.
Investors runs an editorial this morning that says not just that the "shutdown" was a good idea, but that Republicans should "own it" and keep it going as long as possible. Read the whole thing, but here is the lede, to whet your appetite:
The Republican Party didn't blink, and as a result non-essential aspects of the federal government are shutting down. Republican politicians and members should cheer, as the "Stupid Party" actually revealed a political and economic savvy that will serve it well in 2014 and beyond.
Who Says There's No Good News?
It takes a great man to admit he was wrong. And, as Captain Mal would say, "I'm allright." On July 30, I wrote:
Odds of Binz's not being confirmed? Zero? One in 100? Over-and-under anybody? Of course he we will be confirmed and the War on Coal will be escalated to Natural Gas.
Last evening I asked the President that my name be withdrawn from further consideration as his nominee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It appears that my nomination will not be reported favorably by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. I am withdrawing so that the President can move forward with another nominee, allowing the FERC to continue its important work with a full complement of commissioners.
I cannot remember the last time it felt this good to be wrong! Hallelujah!
October 1, 2013
Don't Leave the House!
CHAOS! HuffPo wouldn't lie!
Click through and it is even better!
UPDATE: The WaPo is a little more measured:
Now, a UN Shutdown . . .
The IPCC report boldly states in its executive summary that the science is settled but inside its many pages the supporting evidence is unsettling. Go to your favorite denying site for more information.
But go to the WSJ Ed Page for a plausible response:
One lesson of the IPCC report is that now is the time for policy caution. Let's see if the nonwarming trend continues, in which case the climate models will need remodeling. But that's far less costly than trying to undo grand global redistribution schemes like carbon cap and trade.
Bottom Story of the Day
Twitchy: "Surprise! Obamacare health insurance exchange websites don’t work; HealthCare.gov a total mess."
Of course, nobody is paying attention to the #epicobamafail -- we've a government shutdown! Republicans scaring old ladies and ruining your family vacation.
I will be a team player on Facebook and defend the valid reasons for getting where we has gotten to be. But I have to share my discontent with ThreeSourcers: we provided the Democrats with their escape pass.
An interesting nugget. We talked some of courage yesterday. The brave Republicans versus the Sir-Rodney-not-so-brave-as-Ted-Cruz Republicans. On Kudlow, it was mentioned that most GOP house members are in very safe seats thanks to gerrymandering. The real fear of most is a Tea-Party primary challenger. Ergo, supporting the shutdown was in many instances the craven and cowardly course. I don't like to guess what is in a representative's cold, cold heart. But I repeat this because the People's Front of Judea was pretty quick to call my side cowardly.
[Editor's note: two Monty Python references in one paragraph is prohibited by the ThreeSources Style Guide and should have been expunged. However, due to the government shutdown...]
No Other Way Out
If a government shut down in Washington D.C., would it even make a noise?
It's Shutdown Eve and there's a fun meme trending on Twitter: #ObamaShutdownHitSongs