November 29, 2013

O-Care: What the people want, good and hard

The "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" rations medical services more than the mere use of a panel of bureaucrats that decides who gets what treatments. It also rations in the way it was ostensibly created to eliminate - by price.

Ms. Cantwell of the Department of Health Care Services said federal and state rules assured "geographic and timely access" for Medicaid patients, and the state closely monitors managed-care plan networks to make sure they include enough doctors. In California, she said, some 600,000 of the people entering Medicaid in January have already been assigned primary care doctors through an interim health care program for low-income residents that will end next month.

She also said that since the expansion population will be older on average than current adult Medicaid beneficiaries - until now, most adults who qualified were pregnant women or parents of young children - the state had decided to pay doctors a rate "somewhere in between that for our regular adult population and our disabled adult population" for their care.

But when government mandates that doctors see more patients, and pays them less to do so, wait times become downright, well, NHS-like.

Oresta Johnson, 59, who sees Dr. Mazer through the state's interim health care program for low-income residents but will switch to Medicaid in January, said she had faced "excessively long" waits to see specialists who could treat her degenerative joint disease. Dr. Mazer is monitoring her thyroid gland, she said, and she is hoping she will not have a problem getting back in to see him next spring, when she may need a biopsy.

"I understand there's a lot of people who need help," she said. "But am I not going to be able to see who I need to see?"

So tell me again how single-payer helps low income people get the same level of medical attention as middle and high income folks? Oh, right, by taking away the private insurance that 200 million already have and replacing it with a government approved alternative that is no more attractive to doctors than Medicaid. Be patient Ms. Johnson, and soon everyone else will receive the same crappy care that you do. Because it's "not fair" that people with more money should be treated better.

But Jk thinks:

Don't wait for Review Corner, get Avik Roy's "How Medicare fails the poor" ($5 on Kindle and a quick read). Stunning indictment and expansion of this.

Studies show that Medicaid patients do worse than those with no insurance at all.

Posted by: Jk at November 29, 2013 3:01 PM

November 27, 2013

Give Thanks!

Even if you do not live in Colorado, be thankful that Evie Hudak has resigned!

The rape survivors who testified against a bill that would ban concealed carry on college campuses and who were disrespected by Hudak in the process reacted to the news that Hudak had resigned:

"I am pleased that the people of Senate District 19 put enough pressure on Senator Hudak to cause her to resign her Senate seat. Her treatment of me and other women in March demonstrated Senator Hudak's belief that she knows better than the women of Colorado how they should best defend themselves. My sincere hope is that the Democrats consider, in their replacement choice, that the women of Colorado can make self-defense decisions on their own." -- Amanda Collins

"At Women for Concealed Carry, we are happy to hear of Senator Hudak's resignation. Although she says her votes on gun control bills make women safer, the facts do not support that. We told her that these bills would make us less safe. She refused to listen to us during testimony, but today’s resignation indicates her constituents expect their representative to listen. Colorado deserves better.









" -- Kim Weeks

The S&P 500 Closed over 1800 for the holiday.

But johngalt thinks:
Hudak’s resignation is the ultimate sign of weakness in the face of a massive voter backlash over the Bloomberg-backed gun control bills pushed through the Legislature this year. Rather than defend her votes before the people, she chose to employ a loophole that would allow her party to retain the seat.

The deadline for petition signatures to force her recall election was this Wednesday. I was following this closely and there was some doubt they would collect enough. Evie's party was not, it seems, willing to risk either her defeat or even the certification of a sufficient number of petition signatures. This is a full reversal from their strategy in the two previous recalls, which they took so lightly they did not even name an alternative candidate for voters to consider were the incumbent to be recalled.

If these three recall efforts do not convince politicians that public hearings are for politicians to actually LISTEN to constituents and legislate FOR the people instead of OVER them, I don't know that anything will.

For their part I'm afraid the Democrats merely consider the recall to be another political cudgel. A number of Republican state reps in very safe districts have been the targets of telephone push polling to ask if respondents would vote for a recall, before and after the reading of several horribly misleading position statements about the office holder. I received one myself. After giving my no answers I adjusted my identity from a 50-65 male to an 18-35 female. (Hey, if they can mislead ME...)

Posted by: johngalt at November 29, 2013 9:28 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, is there any truth to the rumor that Evie plans to rehabilitate her image by applying for work as a rape crisis counselor?

Posted by: johngalt at November 29, 2013 9:31 AM
But Jk thinks:

You l-l-l-lied?

Many are disappointed that there will be no election, but I remain happy that a clear message was sent to not mess with gun rights.

Posted by: Jk at November 29, 2013 3:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

They misled me, I misled them. Fair trade in my book.

Posted by: johngalt at December 1, 2013 1:32 AM

HERETIC!

I'm not doing the geek thing exactly right. On the plus side, I have willingly disposed of any shred of remaining dignity to come out as a Joss Whedon fanboy. Pedant, snob, and loser in one package.

But I am missing a piece and am unlikely to remedy the omission. I. Just. Don't. Get. Comic. Books. They remain a huge part if the geek culture. I started buying the Buffy comic books when they came out. The -- only minimally Simpsonesque -- comic guys would save me two issues of each and let me drop in every other month. The store was cool and I had a genuine longing to appreciate more of the culture.

But it remains, if I may quote Stephen Fry, "a closed book on the top shelf of a locked cabinet" to me. It's a piece of Buffydom and Firefly, but with Whedon's success in The Avengers it has moved front and center. I have been TiVoing "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." religiously. I just never watch it.

I was going to save this confession for a holiday special review corner of Washington Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" this Sunday. I read the original story because I have been enjoying the TV show which is homage and not dramatization.

But Jim Geraghty hits it in his Morning Jolt Newsletter [subscribe].

ABC's Agents of SHIELD isn't a bad show; it's just a very underperforming one so far. I concur with most of the criticisms in this article, and add a few of my own:

Geraghty is a comic book guy and critiques the show for not using the multi-decadal depth of Marvel characters.

For me, the episodes sit in DVR space. I might binge watch if I get the flu or dislocate my typing fingers. But each week, the lovely bride and I choose "Sleepy Hollow" and "Castle" instead. Both of them steal without compunction from Buffy, but it surprises me that I watch the real live imitation Whedon in lieu of the real thing.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Terri thinks:

fyi - I a) do not read comic books and have never "got it" either and b) binge watched Agents of Shield last week while I was ill and c) like it lot! and see the potential for those interpersonal relations that Joss so slowly introduces as time goes on.
The interplay of the 2 characters Jim talks about is a good example.

So save them. You might give it a go sometime. If you're a fan of Torchwood, then you will like these. If you're not, I need to remove one of your geek patches.

Posted by: Terri at November 27, 2013 4:33 PM

November 26, 2013

Shark Jumpin' Show

Acculturated weaseled its way onto my Facebook feed. I suspect malfeasance as I don't truly remember signing up in an act of clarity and adult consent. But sometimes it links to good stories, so I should probably quit complaining.

This one really caught my eye. The article is "Why TV's 'Undercover Boss' Restores My Faith in Humanity" but Acculturated advertises it on Facebook as "Conservatives looking to find new ways to present free-market capitalism as appealing should take a peek." That's from the last line, right under:

The show is neither liberal nor libertarian. It emphasizes empathy and altruism, but equally highlights the importance of hard, honest work and the way a job well done, even a not-so-glamorous job, lifts the human spirit. It's capitalist, the way capitalism was intended to be.

I'll agree with every word if we may change the tense. I saw some earlier episodes and was impressed that a show celebrated work, CEOs, and Corporations. Whoa! (If you have not seen the show, the linked article provides a good synopsis.) There is a sweet moment at the end of the show, when all is revealed. The "Boss" is identified and typically thanks the workers for things he has learned ("It is insane that you have to follow this procedure or that you are not given the proper tools for this task...") In return for elucidation, the boss will find a bright worker a better job, establish some mentorship or career path, and -- used to be occasionally -- will provide financial assistance to pursue education goals or escape difficult circumstances or support a charity for which the worker volunteers.

Sweet, but in American TV, the sweet can sometimes be overwrought. And the show has now become "Queen for a Day" (Younger readers can look that up on the Intertubes.) The poor worker meets the Boss and gets fistfuls of dollars handed to then at the end! It is like winning the lottery -- sorry you have an old car, I'm giving you $60K for a new Porsche (sobs...)

At the end of each episode, a couple of stand-out employees, often people who have overcome some sort of adversity or who are dealing with some personal struggle, realize the "new guy" is actually the head-honcho, and are rewarded generously with promotions, raises, cars, homes, etcetera, tailored to the personal need of the employee. One single mom of three can't pay the rent. She gets a forty percent raise and her boss pays her rent and bills for a year. Nearly every single employee breaks down and cries, and the emotion is not canned.

What was a part of the show has now become the show. I do not watch it frequently enough to know when this happened, but I have seen enough to know it did. There once was a show that celebrated work. And earned income.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 5:23 PM | What do you think? [0]

McCloskey for Pope!

James Pethokoukis posts a response from ThreeSources' Fave (or at least jk's) Deirdre McCloskey to Pope Francis's latest whack at Capitalism.

I'm going to lift it in its entirety -- sorry Mr. Brooks! You can click through for backstory and Jimi's introduction.

Friedrich Hayek, the modern master of what people in the USA call "libertarianism" and what others call "real liberals," once wrote an essay entitled "Why I Am Not a Conservative." He was not a conservative, nor am I or Robert Nozick or Tom Palmer or Donald Boudreaux or Ronald Hamowy or John Locke or Thomas Paine or (the Blessed) Adam Smith.

I am a Christian Liberal. That is, I believe on the one hand that in human affairs the best policy is to let people alone to exercise their creativity. Such creativity has made the modern world. We should take power away from the massive modern state, which so often follows the Other Golden Rule: Those who have the gold, rule. States are corrupted by the rich …

But on the other hand as a Christian I also believe that as a spiritual affair we should love God and love God's creatures, that is, our neighbors as ourselves. (It is Jewish and Muslim law, too: Rabbi Hillel was asked to summarize the law and the prophets while standing one leg. His reply was: to love God , the commandments 1-4, and our neighbors, 5-10.) In consequence, unlike fatherly and unChristian liberals, I believe in helping the poor.

At a meeting libertarians/liberals last year in the Bahamas I expressed to someone what I thought was an axiom, "But of course we all want to help the poor." He instantly retorted, "No: only if they help me." It took my breath away. I want to help the poor, period, not only as part of an exchange ... And my liberal part adds to my Christian duty: Help the poor really, not by making them unemployable by raising the minimum wage, or uneducated by forcing them into public schools, or violent and victimized by outlawing recreational drugs.


UPDATE: Need we add a "Papal Encyclicals" category? An alert reader offers a link to this commentary by Rev. James Martin. Plus an admonition to be wary of accepting a WaPo summary of anything that concerns economics or Catholicism.
Evangelii Gaudium is difficult to summarize, so wide-ranging is it. Ironically, something that would at first appear to be a narrow topic -- how to spread the Gospel today -- offers Francis the latitude to address many topics in his trademark open style. The exhortation moves easily from a discussion on joy as a requirement for evangelization, to how "personal dialogue" is needed for any authentic invitation into the faith, to the difficulty of being a church when Catholics are "warring" against one another, to the need for priests and deacons to give better homilies, to an overriding concern for the poor in the world -- the last being a special concern of the Pope.

To that end, some will be surprised that Francis champions an idea that has lately been out of favor: the church's "preferential option" for the poor. "God's heart has a special place for the poor," the Pope says. But it is not enough simply to say that God loves the poor in a special way and leave it at that. We must be also vigilant in our care and advocacy for them. Everyone must do this, says the Pope.


I would refer his excellency to last week's Review Corner or perhaps Prof. McCloskey. Sometimes a little bit of trading in the back of thy Father's House can do more than alms.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:10 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

"Help the poor" what? Eat for a day? Get a smartphone and a flatscreen TV? Not be poor?

I'm in if your answer is "c" but what if a poor man wants to be poor, likes being poor, doesn't want to be not poor? Isn't that a whole heckuva lot like helping Afghanis and Iraqis be democrats?

Personally I prefer to tell people, "If you like your socioeconomic status, you can keep your socioeconomic status. Period."

And I really do mean period, not semi-colon.

Posted by: johngalt at November 26, 2013 2:18 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought we might get a good argument going, but now you have me laughing too hard. Hahahahahaha -- that is a very good line.

How about: deeply want to improve the situation and opportunity potential of less fortunate. Say I want the public schools to be better even if I choose private (or have no children). Even less directly, I wish they'd use nickel DDT in Africa instead of $10 nets so fewer would get Malaria.

Or, in Professor McCloskey's case: establish respect for freedom and commerce that will augment opportunities for all. You against that, Champ?

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2013 2:42 PM
But AndyN thinks:

jg - In The Glass Castle Jeannette Walls, having grown up in poverty despite her mother having access to family wealth, recalls having a professor blow up at her in class for suggesting that not all street people are where they are because they lack resources. Some people just insist on believing that everybody can be lifted to some arbitrary level of non-poverty, if only we spend just a little more.

As for your foreign policy analogy... Every time Afghans or Iraqis make the news it seems like it's for abusing women and minorities while blaming their problems on somebody else and asking the US government to send them more of my money. I don't think they need anybody to help them figure out how to be Democrats, they seem to have it down pat.

Posted by: AndyN at November 26, 2013 3:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That's right Andy, and even spending just a little more doesn't satisfy the demand. Then they will call for just a little higher arbitrary level, or something else, to justify "just a little more" yet again. It's like the president learned yesterday while pandering to illegal immigration activists. At least some of them are still "very disappointed by what he said." Giving away the unearned is a tricky business.

And I'm against none of what jk enumerates. What I said above is meant to address the word "opportunities" vis-a-vis the word "all." While they exist for all, and can be expanded for all, there is no level of opportunity that will be seized by all. Nanny statists believe that free stuff meets that bar but even then, some will turn it down. So why harm the able by treating them as unable? The nanny statists just don't understand this basic trait of human nature.

And also, perhaps even more importantly, on the subject of "all" I want to attack Pope McCloskey's assertion that "of course we all want to help the poor." This is a false premise that justifies state redistribution in the place of private charity. I reject it out of hand. If someone only wants to help someone who helps him in return that is his moral right. (And if you raise your children the way you describe it is no wonder why they are neurotic and maladjusted.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 26, 2013 4:43 PM

ACA Quote of the Day -- The Musical!

Sellin' hope's like sellin' soap, son I'll tell you why -- you can't make either one without a little bit of lye. -- Remy

Happy Thanksgiving, Shoppers!

Perhaps an anti-rant is by definition a rant. The opposition-to-retail-on-Thanksgiving contingent on Facebook seems to be growing. George Takei has now weighed in (he's agin' it).

Teevee news last night unironically ran a story on the "controversy" of Black Friday's incursion into Thursday -- and followed it with a story on the growing trend of eating the big meal out. I guess food workers don't have families, that is just the retail sector. Kitchen help is staffed from orphanages or something. This tickled:

fp_thanksgiving.gif

Now, a boycott or Facebook group whine is a part of the free market. Shaming corporations to improve treatment of workers and customers is valid and non-coercive. I should applaud. But I think this contretemps is misinformed and I know that the Deirdre McCloskey appreciation for Bourgeois Dignity and commerce will not receive a fair hearing (I'm just posting this here).

I am betting that a lot of young people will get some additional hours that they'd like and that most will pay holiday premium wages. The assumption of helpless Dickensian urchins cowering before their cruel employers is a bit much.

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 10:36 AM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

I hope everyone participating on this boycott visits their families by walking, bicycling or riding their broomsticks.

Some of us oilfield trash has to work on Turkey Day (and Christmas, and Easter and Memorial Day and Independence Day, and Arbor Day and Bastille Day & etc etc etc), to provide the fuel you use to get around.

Posted by: AlexC at November 26, 2013 12:02 PM
But jk thinks:

And The Koch Brothers' Permanent Assurance, Pharmacy, and Shooting Range will be open at 7PM...

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2013 12:10 PM

November 25, 2013

Quote of the Day

Barack Obama sold ObamaCare with lies and damned lies. Now Krugman purports to back them up with statistics. -- All Hail Taranto!
But johngalt thinks:

"Kitman?"

Just sayin'.

Posted by: johngalt at November 25, 2013 7:23 PM

The New Normal -- 1930s Edition

[Photographer Lewis Hine (1874-1940)]'s glimpses of the future -- and those scenes he missed -- remind us to be skeptical of technological pessimism. As the historian and economist Joel Mokyr (Robert Gordon's colleague at Northwestern) has reminded us, the idea that we have picked the low-hanging fruit of technology calls for a counter-metaphor that bring to mind Hine's photo of the toolmaker's microscope: "Technology creates taller and taller ladders, and the higher-hanging fruits are within reach and may be just as juicy."
Amen. I am disturbed, less by the Krugmans and Brad DeLongs of the world, than Tyler Cowen and to some extent James Pethokoukis (to be fair to JimiP, I cannot Google up a good inculpatory quote).

The supporting concepts, like in the 1930s, are compelling: we do not have another low hanging economic nuke to compare with including African Americans, or women, or educating the intelligent but indigent. Fair enough.

But I do not see that VP Gore could not invent another thing as cool and productive as the Internet. Nanotech, asteroid mining, gene therapies? GMO crops? The increased productivity of using Facebook working in your Google-driven vehicle during your commute?

I think the world of Cowen. And, despite some partisan hackery, I must admit that Krugman and DeLong have their occasional insights. Yet it is difficult to disprove this theory without quantifying the future value of spontaneous order, which is tautologically impossible. I'd recommend David Deutsch's "The Beginning of Infinity" to open the vision. But Edward Tenner's AEI Piece, from which the opening quote was taken, shows how compelling were these same claims in The Great Depression, when the country was laying the technological foundation for a century of rapid expansion.

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 12:40 PM | What do you think? [1]
But T. Greer thinks:

I am generally impressed with your ability to separate the AEI wheat from the AEI chaff. Never follow it b/c I know if anything good is written there then you will probably post it here.

Posted by: T. Greer at December 1, 2013 5:32 AM

Oprima Numero forget about it...

ObamaCare® rolls out. Poor, Minorities Hardest Hit!

For the site's Spanish-language counterpart, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, [the] situation is far worse. The site does not yet include an online application, and only directs individuals to call a customer service representative. Along with a phone number to call, the site features the message "La solicitud en línea estará disponible pronto," which roughly translates to "The online application will be available soon."

No bueno.


PPACAo2010HSOTD

This article got a lot of play over the weekend for good cause: "Seething at a President I helped elect."

Seething.

The whole thing is a schadenfreude sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top, but I loved one segment more devoutly than the rest:

Over the years we've held on to our coverage by letting our co-pay and deductible rise and our covered procedures fall. You may be aware that the three-tiered state exchange policies are labeled Gold, Silver, and Bronze, reflecting their price and level of coverage. If our policy still existed it would fall into the column of Wood.

But Wood we had--and Wood we liked.


What? Thou darest elevate thine own choices over thy Lord's? ObamaCare is just another rung in the progressive ladder. The job you offer doesn't pay the minimum wage? It's illegal. Your hair-braider lacks a State Cosmetology license? You cannot pay her. Your health care plan that you like? You can't keep it.

Instructive -- in case anybody is paying attention.

UPDATE: Larry Elder: Rep Pelosi (Clueless - CA) never "met anybody who liked his or her plan."

But AndyN thinks:

One thing that I don't think anybody has written about nearly enough lately is that part of the reason that people like Barcott have had to let out of pocket costs rise to keep premiums down over the past few years is because some of the PPACA mandates have already taken effect and have forced insurers to either raise rates or eat losses. If Barcott had been paying attention at all, he would have known that before he voted to reelect the people who foisted this debacle on us.

Posted by: AndyN at November 25, 2013 1:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Raise rates? Eat losses? Insurers are the most obseenly profitable Megacorporations on earth! Let their billionaire executives take a pay cut! How much of a genius does it take to increase shareholder value buy gouging honest, hard working Americans?

Posted by: johngalt at November 25, 2013 5:20 PM
But AndyN thinks:

Wait, I thought that gun manufacturers were the most obscenely profitable Megacorporations on earth. Or was that oil companies? Or pharmaceuticals? Or Koch Industries? Or do the Koch brothers own a insurancegunoilpharma company?

Too many talking points... can't keep up...

Posted by: AndyN at November 26, 2013 10:30 AM

November 24, 2013

Editor's Choice Award

I am four years late to the party. If everyone else has already read The Beautiful Tree, just giggle at my late indulgence. But I cannot remember a book I enjoyed more.

I will be buying a few copies and recommending it until I become tiresome. While the book is not political or economic per se, it encapsulates and exemplifies much of what I believe. My buddy, Brad, at Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons always encourages liberty folk to appeal to the heart as well as the brain. This masterpiece does both.

Author James Tooley gets "first class BSc honours in Logic and Mathematics from the University of Sussex" and goes to teach math in Zimbabwe. His hope of, repeat after me, making a difference to the rural poor is shunted as the prize is kept for the children of government and NGOs in the city. A trip into the slums reveals a vibrant marketplace for private education. Big, beautiful, well equipped, western buildings staffed by accredited teachers are routinely eschewed for village schools in crumbling slums. By parents who, in absolute privation, devote money to pay private tuition instead of utilizing free government schools.

He devotes his life to finding out that this is true and then proving it to arrogant government officials and snot-nosed charity organizers from DfID, Oxfam, Save the Children, &c.

Curiously-- at least to me-- this was not a conclusion reached by any of the development experts. The Oxfam Education Report was typical. Let me repeat: it was quite explicit that private schools for the poor were emerging in huge numbers and that these schools were more accountable to parents than government schools for the poor. Notwithstanding any of this, its position was that "there is no alternative" but blanket public provision to reach education for all.

Universal, free, education for all! What kind of sick bastard would oppose that? I am told that Judaism holds the giver responsible not just for intention but also for outcome of charity. The outcome of "free, universal education for all" is startlingly -- even grading on the NGO efficacy curve -- poor. It seems that there are incentives in the private schools to please paying parents and fire non-performing teachers.
"We don't have that power in the government schools." He told me the story of a public school principal whom they found last year sleeping at school at 9: 00 a.m. on a classroom bench; he was drunk and no other teachers were present. "Eventually, we managed to get him transferred. That's all. There was nothing else we could do." It's always the same story, he says, "If teachers or principals are caught in child abuse or alcoholism, then all we can do is transfer them elsewhere. And then they continue with their abuse."

This story is repeated again and again. They visit the local government school and the children are playing in the yard. Very few of the teachers bother to show up and many of those that do do other work. It's the incentive model of the DMV plus the rampant corruption of post-Colonial government graft. Yet, Bill and Melinda Gates, Bono, the UN, and all the big-name global philanthropic NGOs will not admit that there is another game in town.
He told me that DfID didn't put much into education, just $80 million or so over the past five years, all of which had gone to the government for improving primary schools-- much of that was for improving their buildings. (I saw it as I traveled around later, plush new government primary school buildings proudly sporting the DfID logo. There were also European Union logos and logos for various other European government aid agencies.) But he was openly dismayed at the lack of accountability for how the DfID funds were spent.
[...]
The day after the conference, I met him at noon, and he took me from the plush DfID offices, in one of DfID's chauffeur-driven, brand-new air-conditioned Toyota four-by-fours, to lunch at the Ivy, a tony air-conditioned café, frequented mainly by Europeans-- possibly aid workers and the like. One could almost imagine oneself not in West Africa at all. He had a brie-and-tomato sandwich; I had chicken and rice. The odd thing about meeting government aid representatives in countries like Ghana is that they're not at all afraid to criticize the waste and inefficiency of their host government. Indeed, it seems that nothing is more important to share with you. But then as soon as you press them on the alternatives, like a greater role for private education, it's as if all they've said is irrelevant. There is no alternative, they repeat, to what the government is doing. It only has to be done better, with more aid. Don, it appears, was no exception.

The problem with private education to all these people is profit. A school cannot be "pro-poor" if a proprietor seeks profit. But a bunch of corrupt Ministry of Education officials driving to five-star lunches with aid workers in limousines is fine. The few that admit that these schools exist then suggest that the answer is to regulate them -- give the corrupt government officials the power to close them down! That'll help.

I think ThreeSourcers are beginning to see what I like (I've highlighted probably 100 quotes). It is about education, incentives, and actually helping through -- mirabile dictu -- prvate enterprise. The author is not some crazed libertarian but a chattering class brit IMF worker who took the time to discover reality. The same situation existed in India, Nigeria, and rural China. At each place he was greeted with a laughable "no, there are no private schools for poor people." Everyone knows the schools for the poor come from Save the Children and Oxfam and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and DfID and other wealthy white people writing checks to government bureaucrats.

In the closing sections Tooley explains the title and makes the greatest pattern comparison of all time. Gandhi accused the British of damaging the soil and killing "The Beautiful Tree" because they destroyed the indigenous institutions in favor of transplanted western replacements that were less appropriate and effective. Eighty years later, check writing Brits repeat the performance: demanding schools that look like theirs whether they will educate the poor or not. I am amused to no end that the funders who would be offended most by the charge of "Colonialist" are the ones most fiercely pressing ahead.

What I see this means now is that, when Gandhi said that he wished to return to the status quo ante, he was saying he wanted to return to a system of private schools for the poor, funded in the main by fees and a little philanthropy. Not only has my journey into Indian history provided unexpected evidence of private education for the poor in India before the British took over, it has also provided me with an even more unexpected ally.
[...]
Development experts today, academics, aid agency officials, and the pop stars and actors who encourage them are modern-day Macaulays. They are well intentioned, as was Macaulay. They believe in the fundamental importance of education, as did Macaulay. But they believe that the poor need their help educationally, and can't be trusted to do anything on their own, as did Macaulay.

It is a masterpiece of heart and mind that promotes everything I believe (well, there's nothing about the crime of the AL's Designated Hitter...) so softly and subtly as to be almost by accident. It has returned to the news in the wake of Malala, the brave young woman shot by the Taliban for going to school. I saw it referenced in this Cato article and bought it. Better late than never.

Five Stars and the Editor's Choice Award.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 AM | What do you think? [0]

November 22, 2013

"Congressmen" Udall and Bennet Vote to Discontinue US Senate

"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

NYT- "Democracy Returns to the Senate"

For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.

Part of the Times' defense of this headlong rush to make the Senate indistinguishable from the House is that it only applies to Presidential appointment nominations, not including the Supreme Court.

But now that the Senate has begun to tear down undemocratic procedures, the precedent set on Thursday will increase the pressure to end those filibusters, too.

"A republic, madam, if you can keep it."

"Keep it? From what?"

"From becoming a democracy."

Yesterday, Colorado's two Democrat Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet joined 50 other Democrats to resolve that the United States Government shall henceforth have two majoritarian chambers with little difference between them. In the process they essentially "demoted" themselves from Senators to Congressmen, and I for one shall refer to them as such.


UPDATE: Investors Business Daily, on the other hand, says this is the furthest thing from democracy.

Appearing as himself in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," then-CBS radio commentator H.V. Kaltenborn called the filibuster "democracy's finest show: the right to talk your head off, the American privilege of free speech in its most dramatic form."

Of the excitement surrounding Stewart's fictional senator taking a stand against a majority deluded into believing the slanders spread against him, Kaltenborn said: "In the diplomatic gallery are the envoys of two dictator powers. They have come to see what they can't see at home: democracy in action."

Thanks to Reid and his power-hungry liberals, Americans can no longer see it either.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Well, look on the bright side. There's no more basis for me to fret about the need to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment anymore. If they're going to be mere Congressmen, there's no point in having them elected as if they were actually Senators - REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF STATES.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 22, 2013 10:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I actually had something brighter in mind. This anti-constitutional power grab creates the necessity of not only reinstituting the filibuster, but provides a stonger basis for repealing the 17th Amendment.

Posted by: johngalt at November 23, 2013 10:33 AM
But jk thinks:

Dark days, freedom lovers. But I'll run my Blog Optimist Award certificates through the shredder (I've already exercised the accompanying Starbucks gift cards). This will not be walked back and this will not lead to a revival of interest in repealing the 17th. This is a ratchet click toward the majoritarianism that Progressives have seeked for more than 100 years.

Not with a bang but a whimper.

Posted by: jk at November 23, 2013 2:12 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Hey, while we're at it, since the states really are no longer sovereign and have become nothing more that vassal fiefdoms of the Federal leviathan, let's do away with the Tenth as well...

I fear that JK is right, and with every day that passes, I become more persuaded that this will end with a whimper if it doesn't get ended by a bang. We're in Fourth Box territory.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 23, 2013 4:24 PM
But jk thinks:

I hope my blog brother never gets a job on the Suicide Hotline. "Yeah, that's terrible -- and let me tell you something else..."

Posted by: jk at November 24, 2013 11:43 AM

How to Save the Republic

Blog patriarch jk established, almost 6 years ago, Prosperitarianism. Today I read, for the first time in my publicly educated life, the Unspoken Speech that JFK was on his way to give when he was assassinated 50 years ago today. I feel I may offer the last piece of the puzzle for organizing the new American liberty party when I suggest jk's excellent platform be joined with a far better party name than Prosperitarian - The "JFK Party."

It is clear, therefore, that we are strengthening our security as well as our economy by our recent record increases in national income and output -- by surging ahead of most of Western Europe in the rate of business expansion and the margin of corporate profits, by maintaining a more stable level of prices than almost any of our overseas competitors, and by cutting personal and corporate income taxes by some $11 billion, as I have proposed, to assure this Nation of the longest and strongest expansion in our peacetime economic history.

Prosperitarianism can save the American Constitutional Republic by promoting private enterprise and restricting government to its proper sphere. JFKism can actually inspire people to take it seriously.

This Nation's total output -- which 3 years ago was at the $500 billion mark -- will soon pass $600 billion, for a record rise of over $100 billion in 3 years. For the first time in history we have 70 million men and women at work. For the first time in history average factory earnings have exceeded $100 a week. For the first time in history corporation profits after taxes -- which have risen 43 percent in less than 3 years -- have an annual level of $27.4 billion.

My friends and fellow citizens: I cite these facts and figures to make it clear that America today is stronger than ever before. Our adversaries have not abandoned their ambitions, our dangers have not diminished, our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But now we have the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom.

That strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions -- it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations -- it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.

We in this country, in this generation, are -- by destiny rather than choice -- the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: "except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."

Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 2:45 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Hmmmmmm. Thanks for the kind words and props. I had not read that superb speech either.

I am dubious about the new school of Kennedy revisionism. Art Laffer and Larry Kudlow were on the case last night. Ira Stoll was on hawking his new book, "JFK Conservative," and Kudlow is co-authoring a book celebrating #35's embrace of supply-side economics. (I was devastated to hear that erstwhile-hero Sen. Barry Goldwater ran in '64 on a platform opposing the JFK cuts to marginal rates; a hero ain't nothing but a sandwich...) Laffer and Kudlow both talked about Reagan's drawing from Kennedy and the tow as unlikely Irish bookends.

I'll agree beyond peradventure that the Schlesinger embrace of his progressivism was overdone. I fear the right to be committing the same crime.

On Facebook, in a longer thread than managed here, I disagreed sharply with blog friend tg on the tone of Brandon McGinley's piece "Obama Meant to Destroy Solidarity, Not Save It." If you'll permit an odd segue, the speech has a similar tone of collective conformity. "Ayusck Naught what your country can do for you -- Ayusck what you can do for your country" is not a rallying cry for individualists or libertarians. President Kennedy had tax reform correct, but I think he and his AG were devoid of Goldwaterist liberty.

The speech is a great read for the tone of the times. Sputnik was before my time but my brothers had comic books and LP records on setting up and provisioning a bomb shelter. And, yes, there is much to commend in it -- even a Deepak Lalian strain of Prosperitarianism.

But I think that his martyred presidency is as overrated as Kurt Cobain's guitar playing (there goes half the blog readership!) and I am disinclined to include him in my philosophical or political pantheon.

Posted by: jk at November 23, 2013 2:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I will admit to elevating JFK without a thorough vetting but I do so precisely because he is a "footlong sandwich" of American Democrats. "Hey, all you bleeding hearts, your party is leaving you on the left-bound train."

As for "Ask not what your country can do for you..." that is very much in support of self-reliance, an antonym to Progressivism.

Posted by: johngalt at November 25, 2013 3:56 PM

'Papas, Don't Let Yer Babies Grow Up to be Princesses'

Lifted directly from a Slate article: This Awesome Ad, Set to the Beastie Boys, Is How to Get Girls to Become Engineers

This is a stupendously awesome commercial from a toy company called GoldieBlox, which has developed a set of interactive books and games to "disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers." The CEO, Debbie Sterling, studied engineering at Stanford, where she was dismayed by the lack of women in her program. (...) As the GoldieBlox website attests, only 11 percent of the world's engineers are female. Sterling wants to light girls' inventive spark early, supplementing the usual diet of glittery princess products with construction toys "from a female perspective."

I'll let readers know my daughters' reaction to it.

But jk thinks:

Like.

Posted by: jk at November 23, 2013 2:16 PM

JFK

Damn! I came to ThreeSources to get away from JFK nostalgia and boomer self pity!

Sorry, Ann Athouse gives her ten rules for writing about the 50th. I'm rather fond of #8:

Don't commemorate murder. A man managed to kill the President. He's already gotten far too much press. He doesn't deserve our endless attention. I'm sick of "celebrating" a death day. We don't make anything of Lincoln's death day. We celebrate his birthday, like Washington's, because he was such a great President. We don't celebrate JFK's birthday -- I don't even know what it is -- because he was not great enough. We celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday, not the day he was assassinated. Why? Because of his greatness, and because we don't want to direct our attention toward his murder. So why do we focus on Kennedy's death day? It must be because he was not great enough, and because of points #1, #2, and #3, above. It's about ourselves. A man died and we morbidly relive it annually, for some reason that must make little sense to those under 50.

President Kennedy should be celebrated for his war heroics, curiously best portrayed in Robert Caro's LBJ biography (Vol 4, Passage to Power). His presidency was mixed at best.

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

Proud to share a Species with Richie Parker

Share eight minutes with the young man discussed in Thomas Sowell's column that we discussed yesterday.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:51 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Drive. Ambition. Self-reliance. Naturally.

Now, tell me who the truly "disabled" are.

Posted by: johngalt at November 22, 2013 3:09 PM
But Jk thinks:

In fairness, this undercuts my argument. Mister Richie would not be swayed by a handout, his independence is foundational.

Posted by: Jk at November 22, 2013 8:00 PM

November 21, 2013

Grab a Kleenex!

Politico:

Veteran House Democratic aides are sick over the insurance prices they'll pay under Obamacare, and they're scrambling to find a cure.

"In a shock to the system, the older staff in my office (folks over 59) have now found out their personal health insurance costs (even with the government contribution) have gone up 3-4 times what they were paying before," Minh Ta, chief of staff to Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), wrote to fellow Democratic chiefs of staff in an email message obtained by POLITICO. "Simply unacceptable."


I. Feel. So. Bad.

Hat-tip: @CuffeMeh

But johngalt thinks:

"Take that, bitches"

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2013 7:26 PM
But AndyN thinks:

It's. The. Law.

Posted by: AndyN at November 21, 2013 10:22 PM

Daisy Ad 2013


On Solidarity

Blog friend tgreer tweets a link to a compelling article.by Brandon McGinley in The Federalist: Obama Meant to Destroy Solidarity, Not Save It

Solidarity--the concept that we have concrete duties to others with whom we share society, especially the poor and marginalized--has never been a word with much cachet in American politics. It's not that Americans lack compassion for the poor; we appreciate the concept, but not so much the word itself.

Not only is this due to the importance of individualism to the American mythos, but it is also presumably due to the fact that the concept of solidarity is primarily associated with Catholic social teaching. And the relationship between America and the Catholic Church has been, to use the parlance of Facebook, complicated.


Amen.

ThreeSourcers will enjoy a sound and consistent refutation of the Administration's complicity in facilitating the dependence society. [I will not rewrite that sentence; it is unwieldy but it says what I mean.] My favorite is its tying the controversial Brosurance and Hosurance PSAs to the Administration's "Life of Julia;"

"The Life of Julia" is, of course, presidential campaign propaganda, and so we should expect a focus on federal interventions in Julia's life. What is extraordinary is how alone Julia is. She has none of the connections or responsibilities that are intrinsic to natural human society. Her only duties are those which she chooses--even having a child is rendered sterile, framed as a discrete, consumerist, individual decision, rather than the natural result of forming a family with another person. And it is the state--specifically in the person of President Obama--that is promoted as enabling this alienation.

Now think back to the "Got Insurance?" campaign. The ads are not about fulfilling social responsibilities and liberation from want, but fulfilling personal desires and liberation from responsibilities. They, like Julia, posit a society in which we are responsible for no one and no one is responsible for us--except, in both cases, the state.

Even having a child is rendered sterile, framed as a discrete, consumerist, individual decision, rather than the natural result of forming a family.

And whereas previous generations of big government advocates suggested that federal bureaucracies fulfill our own moral responsibilities to our fellow citizens, even that facade has eroded. It's no longer about us taking care of our brethren through the medium of government so much as it is government, as an entity distinct from the people, taking care of all of us.


Pretty good stuff, non?

Those not still choking on the lede and our "concrete duties to others with whom we share society, especially the poor and marginalized" will cough a lung at the conclusion.

Conservatives can't condemn political marketing like "Life of Julia" or "Got Insurance?," then pivot and peddle our own hackneyed individualism. We must be the voice for civil society, for social responsibility, for solidarity. We cannot let solidarity die, because with it will pass away limited government as well.

Compelling. I bristle at the dismissal of "Individualism" even if I overestimate ThreeSourcers' opposition. But just as Burkean fuddy-duddy law and order is a sturdy foundation for liberty, the Tocquevillian formation is worthy of consideration.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:46 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Whew, I'm dizzy! I credit Michael "heck of a job, Brownie" Brown for the following clarification: Solidarity on the part of individuals, voluntarily, revokably, is virtuous - solidarity on the part of government, collectivism, is tyranny.

I read the piece as admonishment to libertarian Republicans to acquiesce to the social conservatives policy positions, lest our civil society be crushed by the tyranny of collectivism. But the social conservatives adhere to their own form of tyranny. I prefer to agitate in favor of "liberty and justice for all" contra tyranny "A" or tyranny "B."

All this said, I am willing to support social programs that are voluntary and include both incentives and disincentives to promote self-reliance. After all, I am neither a heartless superman nor an evolved primate.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2013 6:33 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... the concept of solidarity is primarily associated with Catholic social teaching..."

I'll defer to the experiences of other ThreeSourcers on that one, but I have to say, apart from the Polish movement of that name, the only context I ever heard that word in was in leftist rallies and demonstrations. I don't think I ever even heard the word prior to arriving at Berkeley in 1975, and then I heard it about every fifteen feet walking through Sproul Plaza. I'd never thought of "solidarity" as a primarily Catholic concept. Your thoughts?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 22, 2013 11:31 AM
But jk thinks:

Aside from Michael Novak, Catholic social teaching is indistinguishable from "leftist rallies and demonstrations."

My big-C Catholic schooling was in the post-deconstruction feel good 70's and I did not get a doctrinaire-enough exposure to put myself forward with any confidence. God was groovy and we should help others. Solidarity does not ring a bell but that is not dispositive.

The church has pretty routinely supported leftist causes ever since. Even the aversion to abortion will not allow them to support an (egads!) Republican!

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2013 11:50 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

I apologize for not getting to this thread earlier.

I am not an individualist. Not in the least.

For two reasons I suppose.

On the one hand, I think despotic governments really like individualists. First things totalitarian type governments do when they come to power: tear apart civil society and every source of 'solidarity' outside of the state itself. Crush the churches, divide the clans, outlaw the civic clubs, ban the guilds, tear up families. Why? Well, it is a lot easier to squash an individual than people with 'solidarity.' Despots love individualists. They love people who reject things like 'duty' and embrace things like 'selfishness.' Those things isolate. Those people are easy to crush.

Secondly, I tend to think that a strong, vigorous civic society is necessary for a healthy community, country, and civilization. When people work together of their own free will they can accomplish great things. I think back to antebellum America and the crazy accomplishments of those men and women. When this 'solidarity' starts to fall away then many of the things people did by themselves for the betterment of others are left undone.... and then people start to step in and ask the government to do it. I really believe that certain 'collective' things need to be done for society to work. A strong civic society can accomplish many of these things without coercion. Voluntarily.


So yep, that is what I liked about this article, I think.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 27, 2013 12:50 AM

Silver Linings Thursday

It seems to me that there is a silver lining to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (Fascist-NV) rule change to eliminate any semblance of a filibuster process and make the Senate's advise and consent function a purely democratic process, subject to the same transient passions as any other majority-rule institution. "Cooling saucer" be damned.

On the bright side, there may no longer be any practical use for the once powerful RINO politician. After all, not a single Republican vote will be required to impose the Democrats' will upon the once Constitutionally protected American citizen.

But jk thinks:

There will be many silver linings. But that is a bug not a feature. The American government lurched one giant step toward majoritarianism today and that is bad. The good guys and liberty derived benefits from the 17th Amendment as well; I'll not celebrate it.

It has driven me to agree with Senator McCain: (h/t @JoshMBlackman) "I wish Robert Byrd had been on the floor here today. To see the travesty seen on a party line vote."

Richard Russell, Byrd -- we needed an "old lion" today and there were none.

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2013 5:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Gallows humor" to be sure.

Byrd? He was just another old white dude. It was "so, so very obvious" that the Senate was becoming "obsolete."

It will get worse before it gets better, liberty lovers. But when it gets better it will be much, much so.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2013 5:33 PM
But jk thinks:

I got yer drift. My twitter feed is full of folks anxiously awaiting majority GOP rule in a year or three. Like a whole Banana Cream Pie for dinner, it might be fun for a while . . .

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2013 5:57 PM

The Cancel Button Will work for most customers in December

A chilling PPACA02010HSOTD in the Wall Street Journal. A lifelong hard working dairy farmer finds her coverage cancelled. She uses the (functioning in the foothills of Redmond) Washington State website to evaluate her choices. There is one: Washington Apple Health, the State's rebranded Medicaid (one suspects Microsoft won the naming contest there as well).

Ho Hum, another ObamaCareTaleOfWoe®, really I have to get to work jk...

The website not only presented her options option, it signed her up:

Instead, almost mockingly, her "Eligibility Results" came back: "Congratulations, we received and reviewed your application and determined [you] will receive the health care coverage listed below: Washington Apple Health. You will receive a letter telling you which managed care plan you are enrolled with." Washington Apple Health is the mawkish rebranding of Medicaid in Washington state.

The page lacked a cancel button or any way to opt out of Medicaid. It was done; she was enrolled, and there was nothing to do but click "Next" and then to sign out.


I jumped into a Facebook argument yesterday (Moi?) in which Blog Brother Bryan had posted a superb guest-ed in IBD by Thomas Sowell.
The last thing the political left needs, or can even afford, are self-reliant individuals. If such people became the norm, that would destroy not only the agenda and the careers of those on the left, but even their flattering image of themselves as saviors of the less fortunate.

Victimhood is where it's at. If there are not enough real victims, then fictitious victims must be created[...]


Dr. Sowell, would you say that enrolling web visitors in Medicaid qualifies? Back to Ms. Hopkins's Mom:
It was a deliberate choice on her part to pay that monthly $276 out of her own pocket. Clearly she had judged that she received a personal benefit from not being on Medicaid.

"I just don't expect anything positive out of getting free health care," she said. "I don't see why other people should have to pay for my care, whether it be through taxes or otherwise." In paying for health insurance herself--she won't accept help from her family, either--she was safeguarding her dignity and independence and her sense of being a fully functioning member of society.

Before ObamaCare, Medicaid was one option. Not the option. Before this, she had never been, in effect, ordered to take a handout. Now she has been forced to join the government-reliant poor, though she would prefer to contribute her two mites. The authorities behind "affordable care" had erased her right to calculate what she was willing to spend to preserve her dignity--to determine what she thinks is affordable.

That little contribution can mean the difference between dignity and despair.


Clearly, I wasn't arguing with Brother Bryan on this. A workmate of ours had piped in that "This is outrageously incorrect, and I'm surprised that someone with [Bryan's] keen understanding of people, positions, and complexities would endorse this perspective by sharing it."

Nope, no predilection toward dependency, we're just making this up.

UPDATE: JK unsurprisingly misspells "Bellevue." Worse, the better joke line was "Redmond" (since corrected -- thanks to Evergreen State emigrant dagny).

But dagny thinks:

I'm suspicious of any article that misspells the location of the action. "Belleview," Washington is Bellevue. Is that the WSJ error? or a JK typo?

Posted by: dagny at November 21, 2013 1:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well this sure goes a long way toward explaining why state run exchanges have enrolled "most in Medicaid." It's automatic. All you have to do is be a visitor. No need to click "Yes Please." I wonder if there's even a privacy policy or terms of use agreement to consent to?

I suppose I must at least give credit where it is due - the state exchanges really are doing exactly what the Progressives want them to do, i.e. "working well."

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2013 1:15 PM
But jk thinks:

@dagny: jk typo (since corrected)!

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2013 1:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I nearly posted that Sowell article yesterday. The main subject, the Progressive "war on achievement" is implicated in most of the left's policy positions, not merely the forcing of victimhood and dependency as witnessed in O-care.

The very word "achievement" has been replaced by the word "privilege" in many writings of our times. (...) If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, the reality of achievement despite having obstacles to overcome is a deadly threat.

That is why the achievements of Asians in general — and of people like the young black man with no arms — make those on the left uneasy.

And why the achievements of people who created their own businesses have to be undermined by the president of the United States.

Emphasis mine.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2013 2:04 PM

November 20, 2013

On The Presidents George Bush

I will talk loudly and late into the evening about my personal disappointments and philosophical differences with both Presidents Bush.

But I believe GHWB41 to be perhaps the finest man to ever hold the office. After I read a sequence of presidential biographies a few years ago, it was my conclusion that there were no better persons -- there were certainly better presidents. But read his All the Best, My Life in Letters and you will be swept away by his integrity and decency.

I ache at the policy differences that have grown between me and GWB43. Yet I remain proud of my efforts to elect him in 2000 and 2004 and hold no illusion that VP Gore or Senator Kerry would have been half as good as W, with all his failings.

And -- as far as integrity and decency. Prof. Mankiw links to this and says "Students often ask me what George W. Bush is like as a person. This story from Dana Perino gives a great sense of what I saw and experienced as well."

He spent too much and trusted Executive power -- and government in general -- too much. But. yes, I miss ol' W.

But jk thinks:

Don't know who sees the embed -- I see more white than the divinity stand at a Pat Boone concert in Duluth. You can click the link to view it on RCP.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2013 7:01 PM
But jk thinks:

... and it is really loud -- turn your speakers waaaay down.

... and it is a virus of sorts. It will reopen when you try to close it. It's the ObamaCare® website of Conservative thought!

... but I would still recommend it.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2013 7:09 PM

Equal Time to The Other Side

I told you brother jg had great hair! Here he is sharing his true feelings about capitalism!

nothing_says_iloveyou.jpg

Hat-tip: Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don't like christianity on Facebook.

But johngalt thinks:

That clearly isn't me - I'm always smiling. And if you don't come to work Thanksgiving day, you're fired!

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2013 1:30 AM
But jk thinks:

My mistake.

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2013 12:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Besides, the signs you hand-lettered for me are MUCH better.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2013 12:54 PM

Peak Schandenfreude?

Glenn sez Not yet!:


"I will happily pay you today, for a free lunch I don't eat before tomorrow"

In an apparent attempt to deflect attention away from the federal exchange portion of O-care, just as we are learning that the entire functionality of the system is not even built, much less tested, numerous democrats have cheered that the state-run exchanges are working well.

More than 55,000 people in Washington state enrolled in health coverage in October - most in Medicaid - and around 40,000 more applied for coverage, making the Evergreen State one of the brightest success stories in the rocky national rollout of the federal health law. Here in the home of online shopping giant Amazon.com, officials credit the exchange’s success in part to the Pacific Northwest's high-tech bent.

Colorado enrolled just more than 37,500 in the period. New York state - with a population nearly three times the size of Washington's - had enrolled just over 48,000 in health plans as of Tuesday, state officials announced. Kentucky enrolled more than 32,000 in its first month.

All are among the states that embraced Obamacare and crafted their own insurance exchanges rather than rely on the federal site, which has been riddled with breakdowns.

Wawazat? "most in medicaid?" Yup.

Mansfield and Rodriguez huddled together over a shiny new laptop in the busy trailer, setting up the older woman’s account. Rodriguez led Mansfield through a series of questions, typing in the necessary information about citizenship, tax filing status, family makeup.

Mansfield pulled out a letter from the Social Security Administration to prove how much money she makes each month. Rodriguez tapped a few more keys, then looked up, smiling.

"You qualify for Washington Apple Health," she told the uninsured woman, referring to the state’s expanded Medicaid program. And then she shared the best part: "At no cost."

"That’s it?" Mansfield asked, relieved and incredulous that the process was so fast and easy, and the result so comforting. "Wonderful."

And Colorado's metrics are very similar, with most enrollees being in Medicaid - 47,306 versus 6,001 in "private health insurance" through the first six weeks.

I don't know about you but I sure am relieved that, under O-care, no insurance company can interrogate me about my medical history. Now I only have to answer questions about "citizenship, tax filing status, family makeup" and "prove how much money [I make] each month."

But the LA Times story says nothing about website security on the state exchanges, which is what I was researching when I found that Connect for Health Colorado was so forward thinking on the issue that they sought a third party security review for the 2011 startup's flagship, nay, only ship, website way way back in ... June. The proposals were due in less than 3 weeks after the date of RFP and would be reviewed for a full week before awarding a contract, possibly not to the lowest bidder, or at all, before work could begin on July 22, leaving ten weeks and a day for the third party to "Provide additional inputs to the C4HCO team for risk management activities as the system Go Live date of 1 October 2013 approaches."

What could go wrong? No matter, since the result is so comforting. Wonderful! At least, until you try to see your, or any, doctor.


Hey, hey, FDA, how many did you kill today...

I've been too kind to the FDA of late. I am clearly losing my edge. Take it away, Mister Gillespie (sans Jacket):

(~8:26): "[If the FDA had continued with the fast track procedures allowed for HIV drugs] we would be a decade or two ahead of where we are today on curing a lot of intractable diseases."


Take That, Vietnam!

Super interesting article by Prof Mark J Perry in AEI, discussing the economic output of America's largest cities. Many are surprising and, to be honest, somewhat disappointing to this urbaphobe and champion of bucolic values.

3. The colossal economy of New York ($1.33 trillion) produced more economic output in 2012 than 48 of our states, and was surpassed only by California ($2 trillion) and Texas ($1.4 trillion) and Los Angeles ($765 billion) produced more economic output in 2012 than 46 states

I saw a Facebook argument last week where a lefty commentator invoked Sweden (I know, must have been a day that ended in -y). I'm all for comparisons, but the magnitudinal differences of domestic and foreign GDP must not be forgotten:
Chicago's economy ($571 billion) is larger than the economies of Sweden ($525 billion) and Norway ($499 billion).
[...]
The economies of Houston ($449 billion), Washington, DC ($447 billion) and Dallas ($419 billion) in 2012 were all larger than the economies of Austria ($394 billion), Iran ($386 billion) and South Africa ($384 billion). San Diego ($177 billion) is larger than the Ukraine ($176 billion), San Jose ($174 billion) is larger than Romania ($171 billion) and New Zealand ($170 billion), and Denver ($168 billion) is larger than Vietnam ($142 billion). Tulsa, OK ($48 billion) is larger than Costa Rica ($45 billion) and Des Moines, IA ($42 billion) is larger than both Kenya ($41 billion) and Ghana ($42 billion).

But AndyN thinks:

In each of his bullet points, he very explicitly writes that the numbers he's providing are for metro areas.

I'm sorry, this is incorrect. This is specifically stated in several places, but not in every item. I assume it's true throughout, but I was wrong to write that he was explicit in every point.

Posted by: AndyN at November 20, 2013 4:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Even with a few caveats, your point holds. One wonders how much rural commerce is counted in the city because of banking and transportation. Le condo d'amour is in one of the nation's top agricultural and energy producing counties and I suspect we add to Denver's stats. Yeah, I'm feeling better.

The comparisons to nations are mind-blowing. If I may turn down a side road, I am not a believer in "The New Normal" or any theory that we have wrung the rag of rapid economic growth dry. When the denizens of Vietnam acquire the productivity and purchasing power of Denverites, the world will boom.

(One hopes that political forces turn Vietnam into Denver before they turn Denver into Vietnam, but that is another thread...)

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2013 4:43 PM
But AndyN thinks:

And what if they do turn Denver into Vietnam? At the risk of insulting Vietnamese politicians, they've gone a long way toward doing that with Detroit in terms of the urban political climate, but if we're just looking at economic output metro Detroit is ahead of Qatar and Kuwait, and less than 1% behind Iraq.

Granted, there are probably some cultural gems in Denver that it would be a tragedy to allow to got the way of the United Artists Theater in Detroit, but there's a limit to what the rest of us can do to save urbanites from themselves.

Posted by: AndyN at November 20, 2013 5:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, Denver's "cultural gems" makes me need to share the DIA Airport Murals. Blog friend SC tells me that as a Buffy fan, surely I recognize a Hellmouth when I see one....

I just want the whole world to get rich and innovate and buy others' innovations. My hometown has much to admire and much to avoid, but there is no reason it should exceed the output of the entire nation of Vietnam, should Vietnam get its act together.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2013 5:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Readers should bear in mind that the underlying report, touting the economic powerhouses that are America's big cities, was produced by a national mayor's association.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2013 1:29 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Whoa! Those murals really are sinister. I'm not sure I've ever seen them. If I have, I clearly didn't study them for some of this is downright creepy.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2013 2:28 PM

November 19, 2013

Quote of the Day

Barack Obama is not scheduled to be present at Gettysburg on Tuesday to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the address. Maybe he figured that the world would little note, nor long remember, what he said there. -- Bret Stephens

All Hail Harsanyi!

ThreeSources' favorite Denver Post columnist takes a lengthy and serious whack at SecEd Arne Duncan. His "white suburban moms" comment has caused a fuss, but his entire tenure is a textbook example of bureaucratic interference in the opportunity of children.

Now, it's possible that little Caleb and Riley may not be the prodigies their parents suspect, but antagonism towards Common Core is more likely propelled by a belief that centralizing education allows Washington to, over time, destroy local autonomy. Even if these fears are exaggerated, they are far from outlandish -- and hardly "fascinating" to anyone who's paying attention.

Against data, Duncan's Department of Education, again and again, chooses the ideological over the effective.
The administration isn't interested in "suburban white moms" getting in its way, and it sure doesn't want minority moms having too many choices. Duncan's recent comments weren't "clumsy," they were part of a pattern. A pattern that undermines innovation and allows the achievement gap to get worse.

One suspects Secretary Arne Duncan says "suburban white moms" with the same tone, timbre, and prosody that Elwood Blues uses for "Illinois Nazis."

UPDATE: J.D. Tuccille is not too happy with Sec Duncan's soi-disant apology.

He immediately walked it back, of course, because when politicians occasionally let slip the impatience and contempt they feel for their constituents, it's usually a good idea to fake a little contrition lest their careers suffer. But he condescendingly lashed out at "white suburban moms" for rebelling against Common Core education standards, saying it's because their feelings are hurt when their kids don't score as well as they once did. Thanks for letting the mask slip, Arne, and revealing your disdain for anybody who might insist on leeway in educating their own kids.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 11:37 AM | What do you think? [0]

PPACAo2010HSOTD

Nope, not a horror story! Everything is great! You guys stop hyperventilating!

One of the most important changes in the law is a huge collection of bureaucratic nudges designed to incentivize the health-care system toward delivering higher value rather than churning out higher cost. That experiment, while still extremely early, is going far better at this stage than even the most optimistic advocates hoped. A wave of innovation is in full bloom, manifesting itself in such things as lower rehospitalization rates, rapid growth of accountable care organizations and retail health providers, and employers shopping around for less expensive plans rather than endlessly footing higher bills. -- Jonathan Chait

Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty

But johngalt thinks:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA-

Take, say, the police. Police departments across the country are constantly beating up innocent people and letting criminals run wild. There will never be an end to stories of police corruption and incompetence. But most people simply take stories like that as reasons to try to make the policy work better, not as arguments that having a police department is a conceptual failure.

O-care is good! Sure, some innocent people will get beat up and some corruption and incompetence will run wild, but that doesn't mean that making college students pay high-risk pool insurance rates is a conceptual failure.

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2013 12:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Democratic strategist Steve McMahon was on Kudlow last night (looks like this particular clip did not get posted). He bravely fended off the show's host, a guy from Manhattan Institute, and Holman Jenkins from the WSJ Ed Page.

But he kept repeating "this is how insurance works! It distributes risk!" I was jumping out of my chair for one of the others to correct him: insurance prices risk. Somebody did comment that car insurance prices differently to good drivers.

But I think a full throated defense is required that insurance is not a wealth distribution scheme, but rather a derivative trade on risk. I don't think that was the last time we'll hear McMahon's incorrect generalization.

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2013 12:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well said. Now, what is your argument against "distributing" risk? After all, being a good driver is a choice while having poor health "just happens." ;)

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2013 2:38 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm just looking for transparency, like my socialist, income-redistributing blog brother:

The idea I think TG and I share is this: If we're going to use the power of the state to take stuff from some people and give it to others, let us insist that it be explicitly recognized as such. And do it directly, without the package-deal of government management of this or that program. Just give them cash, i.e. "Uncle Sam's Allowance" and turn them loose in the free market.

I'd say that there exists a fair, actuarially-supported price to insure each American against future health care expense. Charging the nonvoting young more to subsidize a lower price for their more-likely-to-vote elders is wealth redistribution. To compare that to the primary function of insurance is specious.

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2013 2:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

So in a similar vein health insurance really should be priced based upon your age, gender, and medical history and then, if you "can't afford it" you can apply for a state managed subsidy computed based on your income and scheduled to be proportional to how many continuous years you have been insured. So the bigger subsidies go to those with the highest medical costs, lowest incomes and, importantly, those who maintain coverage.

The hardest sell there, as I see it, is what to do when the poor and sick first sign up. "Keep paying now, it'll go down in future years" is not a politicians dream line in stump speeches. Then there are the actuarial realities.

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2013 7:41 PM
But jk thinks:

That's the Kudlowite, Reaganite, and Friedmanite position -- who am I to argue with a holy trinity?

Give the poor and uninsurable vouchers to purchase insurance on the private market, but fer cryin' out loud, leave the private market alone.

I find contiguous coverage to be the ultimate solution. But until we remove the tax preferences for employer-funding it is immoral and uneconomic to demand it. When most get their insurance from their employer, you cannot hold them responsible for maintain coverage.

But if you fix the tax preference (like McCain's awesome health care plan that he campaigned on but did not understand well enough to debate), then demanding continued coverage fixes most of the problems ObamaCare was created to fix.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2013 11:41 AM

COFFEEHOUSIN'

Coffeehouse

'Till I Can Gain Control Again

Words and music by Rodney Crowell ©1975

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

Permalink


November 18, 2013

The Review Corner that didn't Bark

It is no secret that the average Review Corner score is likely well above four stars. Am I just another pawn of "Big Book," getting checks from Shuster's sons to inflate scores? Why don't I write rebarbative reviews to show off my classic wit? Or am I so cheap that I only buy books I like?

Well, I am cheap enough that I rarely take the Tyler Cowan option. Cowan rails poignantly against our desire to "finish" a book or movie we don't like. Time is your most valued asset -- Cowan thinks we should walk out of theaters and leave books unread. I rarely do that. I watch bad movies to see what happens and I read bad books to see if they get better.

But I doubt that I'll return to The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life

The Why Axis is meant to follow Steven Levitt's popular "Freakonomics:" using hard data to answer softer questions on behavior, preference, and social science outcomes. I enjoyed Freakonomics. While I had some concerns, it was a net gain for the corpus. Levitt is an advisor in some capacity to "The Why Axis" but not an author.

Let's enjoy a sample of The Why Axis's prose:

[Businessman-turned-superintendent of Chicago Heights District 170, Tom] Amadio is a passionate, straight-talking guy with good business instincts. He may be the only school superintendent in the country who, in a previous life, was a stock trader making a good living. Unlike stereotypical Wall Street traders, though, Amadio cares deeply about the plight of the underprivileged.

Houston? We may have a problem... Freakonomics leaned left in an academic proclivity, but it had other virtues. This book starts out proving faculty lounge pieties. It seems that gender really is a social construct. Because there is a matriarchal tribe somewhere in which females exhibit risk traits associated with males in the West.

The team does quite a bit of research around this and presents hard data from experiments they have devised -- my paraphrase sells them short. Yet, at the end of world travels and exhaustive studies, and loads of money shelled out to do game theory on people, there seems to be quite a leap. And -- surprise of all surprises in this most surprising of worlds -- hard data supports the faculty lounge belief! Are you as shocked as I am?

They moved on to explain racism, and I moved along to two other books on my Kindle that are a lot more serious in tone and structure.

I thought of writing (this very nasty) review yesterday and thought it unfair. If I do not finish a book, I will not review it.

Then, I saw this on Facebook: "Nature vs. Nurture: New study shows we knew morality as babies." There's a juicy altruism angle that could be fun.

Is it correct to say that Mike's actions were "moral"? Where does morality come from? Are human beings born with an innate moral sense, something like a conscience that helps us tell right from wrong? Or are we born as blank slates and learn morality as we make our way through life from infancy to childhood and beyond? If morality is innate, are we born good and corrupted by society, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought? Or are we born as brutes and civilized by culture, as "Darwin's bulldog" T.H. Huxley thought?

Well, click on through to the Atlantic and "a new study" has solved that oft concerned question. This brought up "Why Axis." We're going to get a grant and busy 100 grad students to prove something we think. In the hard sciences, I'd say that's how it is done. I think the softer sciences should show a little more humility. Over the years, they have earned it.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:50 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"It [morality] does not deny self-interest, yet curbs its pursuit so as to promote a cooperative society."

"It would be absurd to speak of these instincts [the origins of morality] as having been developed from selfishness."

Taking selfishness as the equivalent of self-interest, as do I, reveals some difficulty in squaring these two statements.

Why must morality not deny selfishness if selfishness has no part in the origin of morality?

I find both statements lacking. The latter actually came first, from Charles Darwin. Selfish aims can clearly be shown as causes for sympathy, affection, and helping others. The former statement, by primatologist Frans de Waal, still has not quite learned that selfishness and morality are not opposites. He has, though, at least learned that selfishness is undeniable. This we may call progress.

Posted by: johngalt at November 18, 2013 2:51 PM

November 17, 2013

Obamacare for Thee, But Not for Me

JK Tweeted, "More people bought Yoko Ono's debut album (250,000+) than bought Obamacare policies." I believe the charitable figure for Obamacare "purchases" is around 100,000. I say "charitable" because they count filled shopping carts the same as "pay now" clicks.

But I wondered how those numbers compare to, say, the number of Americans who "support Obamacare" or who are registered members of the President's political party? Actual numbers are surprisingly difficult to find, but Rasmussen has Obamacare and Democrat registration percentages and Wikipedia has census figures.

"Support Obamacare" 145,360,000
"Registered Democrat" 103,332,000
Bought Yoko Ono 250,000
"Bought" Obamacare 100,000

So if we assume that all democrats support Obamacare, about 42 million non-democrats also support it. And yet, despite an apparent belief that the law in general is a good idea, less than 3 in 1000 non-democrat Obamacare supporters and less than 1 in 1000 democrats as a whole, actually believe the program is a good idea for themselves.

"Oh, you meant, 'Do I support Obamacare for my rich neighbor!"

But jk thinks:

In humility, I quoted a tweet from Rep. Steve Stockman (R TX36)@SteveWorks4You.

And in fairness to the President, my brother was one of the 250K. I have heard the Yoko Ono album. It is worse than ObamaCare.

Posted by: jk at November 18, 2013 2:09 PM

November 16, 2013

PPACA02010HSOTD

"How could this be going so spectacularly wrong?" goes the hand-wringing lament.

How could it not? Seriously! You think a bunch of people can sit down and... Lux Fiat! ...re-write the rules for how 15% of the economy works in one fell swoop, in what amounts to a giant bong-fueled bull session, and have nothing go wrong? You might as well try to change the spark plugs on your car while the engine's running. -- Tam @ ViewFromThePorch: If schadenfreude had calories, I'd weigh 300 pounds

Hat-tip: Instapundit

But johngalt thinks:

And I would weigh at least 400.

Posted by: johngalt at November 17, 2013 10:14 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:


This comment bears repeating:

"This isn't trying to gradually phase out gas guzzlers over ten years; this is making all cars that don't get >30MPG illegal to drive in January. But don't worry! If your cars don't meet the standard, the government will have a new car ready for you on the 1st. Promise! They've almost got the car factory finished!) "

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 19, 2013 2:13 AM

And The Discussion Continues...

The part of jg will be played by former Federal Reserve trader Andrew Huszar, jk will be represented by Jeapordy! champion and AEI Scholar, James Pethokoukis.












I found it enjoyable and was glad to find video online. As far as our local discussion, I am squishier than JimiP. Q-E-One-and-done is somewhat compelling, yet so is Pethokoukis's reference to the contractionary policies of an overly-tight ECB.

But jk thinks:

In real life jg is he one with great hair. But I am doing the casting today: Bwaa haaa haa!

Posted by: jk at November 16, 2013 10:40 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"Every time we've had a QE program, something good has happened."

"Stocks have gone up"
More cash seeking fewer shares of something tangible.

"Job growth is better this year than last year"
The same was true in 1930.

Yes, when you eat desert you feel good. How long can you live and how happy will you be eating only desert?

But more important than this, both practically and morally, how long can you eat desert when the only place it comes from is your "rich neighbor's" plate?

Posted by: johngalt at November 17, 2013 10:25 AM

November 14, 2013

Brutal Partisan Hackery

But it is all true:

Hat-tip: Insty

But johngalt thinks:

Just because everything that was predicted then, has come true now, doesn't make saying it any less "racist."

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2013 2:43 PM

PPACAo2010HSOTD

If you can't take some joy, some modicum of relief and mirth, in the unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president, his administration, its enablers, and, to no small degree, liberalism itself, then you need to ask yourself why you're following politics in the first place. Because, frankly, this has been one of the most enjoyable political moments of my lifetime. I wake up in the morning and rush to find my just-delivered newspaper with a joyful expectation of worsening news so intense, I feel like Morgan Freeman should be narrating my trek to the front lawn. Indeed, not since Dan Rather handcuffed himself to a fraudulent typewriter, hurled it into the abyss, and saw his career plummet like Ted Kennedy was behind the wheel have I enjoyed a story more. -- Jonah Goldberg
Honorable mention (same column):
The media feeding frenzy it has triggered from so many journalistic lapdogs has been both so funny and so poignant, it reminds me of nothing more than the climax of the classic film Air Bud, when the lovable basketball-playing golden retriever finally decides to maul the dog-abusing clown.
But johngalt thinks:

I have been at a loss for adjectives to describe the O-care rollout fiasco. "Unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president" et. al., while not as lyrical as I'd like, comes pretty close to the ideal.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2013 2:48 PM
But jk thinks:

Don't you mean "rollout?"

(I put quotation marks around "rollout" because the term implies actual rolling, and this thing has moved as gracefully as a grand piano in a peat bog.) -- Jonah

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2013 5:44 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I'm a pretty big fan of Jonah, and even I'm blushing with his prose (it could also be the rib-aching laughter):

"the English language is not well equipped to capture the sensation I’m describing"

"In every tale of hubris, the transgressor is eventually slapped across the face with the semi-frozen flounder of reality"

"the whole law is coming apart like a papier-mâché yacht in rough waters"

"At this point, [registering] could only be more of a Third World experience if Healthcare.gov required enrollees to pay with chickens"

"At that rate, Obamacare would reach its target of 7 million enrollees around the year 5013, or 3022 a.o. (Anno Obamae)"

" It was, in the parlance of liberalism, a “false choice” to assert that Obamacare couldn’t be a floor wax and a dessert topping."

I'm with Jonah; cheering for Nemesis. Time for the The Establishment to leap-frog past "we told you so" straight to: OK, here's how you do reform!

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 16, 2013 2:51 AM

November 13, 2013

The shelf-life of "common-sense"

"Common-sense" is one of those adjectives politicians use to describe legislation they're afraid will get them fired either way: if they support it or if they don't. It means, "If you don't agree with this you are senseless" and it has to be employed because if they didn't cover it with that fig leaf, there's little other reason for voters to agree with it.

Vulnerable Senate democrats are running away from Obamacare as fast as they can. That includes Colorado's Mark Udall but since "he’s not viewed as being nearly as vulnerable as [Sen. Landrieu, D-Louisana] or Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas" he isn't running as far. Fox31:

"I share the concern that some health insurance companies are choosing to cancel thousands of Coloradans' plans. That’s why my common-sense bill will allow Coloradans the option to keep their current coverage if they want or to purchase new plans through the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace that may better meet their health care needs."

What a swell guy - he wants to "allow" Coloradans options! We shouldn't be surprised. After all, he is well known as a pro-choice politician.

But don't let that power of choice go to your heads, fellow Centennial-staters.

With support building for a plan introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, that would allow people mislead by the president's promise to keep their plans to actually do so indefinitely, Udall has come up with a scaled down version that would allow policyholders to keep their current plans, being cancelled under the new law, for two years.

"We're protecting the stability of the insurance market in the exchange while allowing people to hold on to their current plans a little bit longer," Joe Britton, Udall's deputy chief of staff, told FOX31.

So now we know that "common-sense" has an expiration date: 2 years.

I have a better idea. How about, instead, we "allow" the stability of the insurance market while "protecting" people to hold on to their current plans? But you shouldn't be surprised. After all, I am a well-known "extremist, hostage taking" TEA Partier.

But jk thinks:

I hate common sense and common knowledge. The latter is an excuse to not provide documentation and the former is an excuse to abdicate reason.

I just referred to Snyder v. Phelps in a comment. Common sense dictates that you cannot let ignorant Midwestern homophobes desecrate the respectful services of our nation's greatest fallen heroes. Common sense says you can't burn the flag. Common sense says the ACLU should not defend the Illinois Nazis (man, I hate Illinois Nazis...) And yet law and reason hold sway. The term drives me mad.

Were more Democrats as thoughtful as Sen. Mark Udall, this would be a better country. But this is full-bore partisanship. The Democrats cannot back too far off -- repeat after me -- "the President's Signature initiative." Yet, they cannot get too close and be elected in any state less blue than Illinois.

Pass the popcorn.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2013 11:32 AM

UPDATE

If you did not care for my Typhoon rant, I bet you won't like this:

If you feel it's urgent to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, then deep in your heart you also support Obamacare. -- Matt Miller

Hat-tip: Taranto

Rant Posted by John Kranz at 6:51 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Ummm, no.

Faulty premise alert: "A typhoon is obviously beyond anyone’s control. But so is a preexisting condition."

No it isn't. Not always. Maybe not even usually. Judgement is required, but government mandates, like O-care, make judgment illegal.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2013 2:51 PM

106,000 Huh?


Poor Ezra

Obamacare is in much more trouble than it was one week ago
That is not the headline of some Koch Brothers wing-nut site Schadenfreude-fest. That is a WaPo Editor summarizing juicebox Mafioso Ezra Klein's expressing -- with genuine sadness -- eleven Administration problems. I'd recommend all 'leven. But throwing darts to pick one to excerpt, I threw low:
11. The biggest problem for the Obama administration in protecting the law is that they're losing credibility with congressional Democrats -- and, frankly, everyone else. They passed the law based in part on promises they couldn't keep. They botched the implementation terribly. And now it looks like they may not have HealthCare.gov fixed by the deadline they set for themselves. Congressional Democrats feel burned by them -- but even worse than that, they don't feel able to trust them. And Democrats looking toward 2014 are going to be made very nervous by this chart, first posted by our friends at The Fix:

Obama_approval131113.gif

Oops.

But johngalt thinks:

The box! Don't forget to look at the box!

-30 seems too many for this cycle. The president's party is already in the minority in the house, while Dubya's party held the 109th Congress' majority in both chambers.

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2013 3:31 PM

November 12, 2013

"My Name is Andrew, and I am a Redistributaholic"

Or, as he entitled his own WSJ piece, "Confessions of a Quantatative Easer."

You'd think the Fed would have finally stopped to question the wisdom of QE. Think again. Only a few months later—after a 14% drop in the U.S. stock market and renewed weakening in the banking sector—the Fed announced a new round of bond buying: QE2. Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, immediately called the decision "clueless."

That was when I realized the Fed had lost any remaining ability to think independently from Wall Street. Demoralized, I returned to the private sector.

Where are we today? The Fed keeps buying roughly $85 billion in bonds a month, chronically delaying so much as a minor QE taper. Over five years, its bond purchases have come to more than $4 trillion. Amazingly, in a supposedly free-market nation, QE has become the largest financial-markets intervention by any government in world history.

There's more criticism from this first-hand witness to said largest intervention in world history if you can bear to click through. I'll leave you with this line though, referring to QE1:

We were working feverishly to preserve the impression that the Fed knew what it was doing.
But jk thinks:

Twist away, brother. I am wildly uncomfortable with both sides of the equation. But but but...

The creek's rizz above its banks and water is pouring into your basement. Your nephew brings over a couple of sump pumps and they seem to be keeping up while you both pedal furiously on generators.

This is clearly not sustainable -- but you and Huszar are mad at the pump.

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2013 4:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not quite - I am resigned that it's time to let this house flood and build another one further from the creek. Or more specifically, stop empowering my evil neighbor's repeated actions to divert the creek toward said metaphorical house.

Equating the consequences of self-serving government functionaries with natural events is a tenuous analogy.

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2013 4:17 PM
But jk thinks:

If You are Going to Criticize QE...

Hat-tip: James Pethokoukis

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2013 7:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Very well, let us now be "nuanced."

QE1 - To the extent it prevented a run on banks by increasing liquidity, I'm in. I'm a Friedmanite more often than not.

QE2 - "Drift into deflationary territory?" Please. If you want to increase Personal Consumption Expenditures using federal jack, a far more efficent tactic would have been a federal tax holiday for taxpayers.

QE3 - Re-read Huszar:

By contrast, experts outside the Fed, such as Mohammed El Erian at the Pimco investment firm, suggest that the Fed may have created and spent over $4 trillion for a total return of as little as 0.25% of GDP (i.e., a mere $40 billion bump in U.S. economic output). Both of those estimates indicate that QE isn't really working.

The problem with fixing every economic problem via monetary policy, contra-cylically or not, is that not every problem is a nail that needs re-seating with the Fed's "hammer." A lot of privately owned china ends up broken in the process.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2013 3:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Surprised we're as close as we are.

QE1 (& general Friedmanite Prosperitarianism) -- Yay!

QE2 -- Of course, good fiscal policy would have been 1000 times better than monetary policy. The heart of my argument (at least the spleen) is that I assume terrible, anti-growth fiscal policy. Pelosi, Reid and Obama have set up shop and repatriation, tax cuts, holidays are off the table. Does Chairman Bernanke say "sucks to be us" or does he try to fix it with a little excess liquidity?

QE Infinty (as Kudlow calls it) -- consider me queasy. It will be difficult to schedule and almost impossible to unwind the Fed's wieldy balance sheet. or will a Chairperson Yellen be predisposed to choose hard medicine. El Erian's estimate seems pessimistic but I have no illusion that it is effective.

In Bernanke's position, I too would wield the hammer, wishing that fiscal policy had not broken things so badly.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2013 6:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yet I would be wary of the moral hazard of compensating for idiotic fiscal policy. If a central bank is always and everywhere compelled to bail out self-dealing politicians then that for me is enough, in itself, never to have a central bank. Pragmatically I would suggest that at least some amount of principled judgment is required of said Fed head.

Posted by: johngalt at November 15, 2013 4:00 PM

A Bake Sale to Buy a Bomber?

Great Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons last night! The lovely bride and I have missed several to care for dear Harriet, and it was good to get back.

The program featured three winners of the Leadership Program of the Rockies' "Defending Capitalism" speech contest. We heard three great speeches and multiple ideas to reach those not immediately disposed to the wonders of liberty. The (excellent) crowd also coughed up $800 to supply impressionable youth with Ayn Rand books and their teachers with instruction materials.

None of the speakers seemed to be radical big-O Objectivists, but Rand's writings were obviously influential -- and I believe are a sizable part of the LPR curriculum. National Defense came up in the Q&A session. Only one of the speakers was anarchist enough to suggest private defense.

When I got home, and saw that a US Carrier and supporting ships were headed to the Philippines for typhoon relief, I wished I had asked the group about plunder and taking money from my neighbor at gunpoint to fuel a carrier group on a relief mission.

Your friendly blog Deepak-Lallian libertarian has no problem with this. I wonder if others do have a problem or how they rationalize it if they do not. This is a tertiary at best relation to actual defense, but it is important to the maintenance of a Liberal International Economic Order. Of benefit to all taxpayers:

  • Projection of US power and capability. I don't worry militarily about China like some of my righty friends, but who's that in their backyard with the capacity to help?

  • Ditto for Freedom. A great Facebook meme is "Capitalism: financing all the other -isms for thousands of years..." Who has the largess to do aid on this scale?

  • The Philippines is home to a large Communist faction (gotta stay poor after the Colonials leave...) as well as the unfortunately acronymed Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILFs for radical Islam!. This is pretty good PR for America and Western Capitalism

Do I have a fight? Robbing Peter to help Pinoy? Or is this valid use of our defense infrastructure and budget?


Rant Posted by John Kranz at 11:23 AM | What do you think? [8]
But T. Greer thinks:

Nah, we should let the Chinese do it. They would serve as a great well spring of liberty across the region. ^_~

Posted by: T. Greer at November 14, 2013 12:42 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

Also, my big beef with the health care problem is not really redistribution per say. The more and more I think about it the more I like Charles Murray's proposal for a lump-sum 'demogrant' or Milton Friedman's negative taxes.

What I find alarming about health care is the liberties it infringes (mandates and lost plans), regulations it enacts, and corporate fat cats it holds up. The health care bill does not bother e because it takes from those who have and those who do not - it bothers me because it distorts and perverts the entire United States economy, destroying the people's independence and the workings of the market with one big inefficient, corrupt behemoth.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 14, 2013 12:50 AM
But jk thinks:

Apology not required, 3srcjg . . . but I did wonder what I said that cheesed you off so. (I might want to use it again someday!)

I was looking for a Snyder v Phelps or ACLU-defending the Illinois Nazis (man, I hate Illinois Nazis...) argument. This is a good excuse for a standing army in peacetime and I have yet to hear someone criticize it beyond the overhead to deliver $1 of aid.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2013 11:21 AM
But jk thinks:

@tgreer: clearly, my work is not done (heh).

I hold your intelligence and knowledge in the highest esteem. But I would challenge you to consider foundational principles one step lower. I'm not even one of the Randians 'round these parts and I get a little queasy. It sounds like you don't mind "a little" abrogation of property rights. Or that the government is entitled to abridge the right to contract "somewhat."

You are then asked to draw a line somewhere between those two liberties (which I consider foundational) and the liberty shredding monstrosity (we certainly agree) that is the PPACA. I humbly posit that you have set yourself up for failure. But that an absolute principled stance on the sanctity of contract and property rights is consistent and eternally defensible.

The nannying, "noodger," Malcolm Gladwell intervention is tempting, especially to one of your academic prowess. Adhering to foundational principles provides a new perspective.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2013 11:54 AM
But johngalt thinks:

That's just it - I wasn't cheesed off, just being matter-of-fact. QE, on the other hand, cheeses me off.

But back to the point at hand - redistribution v. central planning. Obviously I want neither, but blog pragmatist usually reminds me that "we live in the world we gots" and a pluarality of 'Mericans want the down-on-their-luck to be cared for. So yes, I'm with TG. If we "must" have redistribution then let it be transparent and in broad daylight. Then let recipients choose where and how to spend their "USA" [Uncle Sam's Allowance] in a purely capitalistic unregulated free-market. Eventually there will be fewer and fewer who are "down-on-their-luck" as they learn about saving, investing, profiting and prospering.

Brilliant, TG. I'm in! Who's with us? (And if you aren't, you're a whiny, sniveling, belly-crawling maggot.) ;)

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2013 2:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Dagny said she wasn't quite clear about what TG proposed. While neither of us is familiar with Charles Murray we have both read about Friedman's negative tax rate and, by way of another example, R.A. Heinlein's birthright annual income. [Briefly mentioned in the comments here.]

The idea I think TG and I share is this: If we're going to use the power of the state to take stuff from some people and give it to others, let us insist that it be explicitly recognized as such. And do it directly, without the package-deal of government management of this or that program. Just give them cash, i.e. "Uncle Sam's Allowance" and turn them loose in the free market.

This is more efficient, less prone to cronyism, and makes no pretensions about what, in fact, it is. Sell it as "America is so prosperous it can pay everyone a monthly allowance simply for being here. Now take this and spend it wisely. Better yet, invest it and become one of the makers instead of the takers!"

Posted by: johngalt at November 15, 2013 1:37 PM

November 11, 2013

Meanwhile, In the People's Paradise of Venezuela

Presidenté Hugo Chavez is gone but not forgotten. @j_arthur_bloom (via @NickGillespie) nails it: "Holy crap. This is like a libertarian satire of socialism but in real life " USA Today:

President Nicolás Maduro ordered a military "occupation" of the company's five stores as he continues the government's crackdown on an "economic war" it says is being waged against the country, with the help of Washington.

Members of Venezuela's National Guard, some of whom carried assault rifles, kept order at the stores as bargain hunters rushed to get inside.

"I want a Sony plasma television for the house," said Amanda Lisboa, 34, a business administrator, who had waited seven hours already outside one Caracas store. "It's going to be so cheap!"


And, yet the spirit of Capitalism is difficult to extirpate.
Water and snacks were being sold outside the store by savvy Venezuelans keen to profit from the commotion. Happy customers weaved giant television screens and other items back to their cars through the crowds.

And, in completely unrelated news:
Maduro faces municipal elections on Dec. 8. His popularity has dropped significantly in recent months, with shortages of basic items such as chicken, milk and toilet paper as well as soaring inflation, at 54.3% over the past 12 months.

Shortages? Really? Let me put on my shocked face...

Venezuela Posted by John Kranz at 9:57 AM | What do you think? [0]

Happy Veterans' Day

Thanks to all who serve(d)!

I hope it won't be considered flippant if I include one of my favorite quotes. As Veterans' Day falls on the eleventh, I am reminded of Kurt Vonnegut. My first Vonnegut book was "Breakfast of Champions," and indeed it was an introduction to adult reading to an adolescent who was more interested in guitars, weed and young women than books. I remember reading this and being especially touched:

When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.

So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

And all music is.


November 10, 2013

Review Corner

The idea of the countermajoritarian difficulty rests on the premise that laws enacted by legislatures reflect the will of electoral majorities, which in turn relies on the assumption that the latter possess sufficient political knowledge to control what their representatives do. Yet most of the vast literature on this subject ignores the relevance of political ignorance.

Somin, Ilya (2013-10-02). Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter (p. 156). Stanford University Press. Kindle Edition.


I recommend Bryan Caplan's Myth of the Rational Voter so frequently, it is something of a verbal tic. ThreeSourcers have plenty of philosophical or pragmatic concerns with plebiscitary democracy, but I think any thinking person could look at the intelligence level of modern campaigns and not wonder "is this any way to run a railroad -- or our lives?"

I don't know the geography or organizational structure of George Mason University. But Law Professor Ilya Somin has built on his Economics colleague's important work. Where Caplan is forced to conclude with "sucks to be us," Somin integrates it into a thoughtful critique of over-expansive government. Still sucks to be us, but there are several new ideas along the way.

Starting with a look at the irrationality of being an informed voter, Somin visits many of Caplan's ideas. Factoring the likelihood or your vote being decisive, devoting time to understanding the candidates and issue of the day is idiotic from a self-interest perspective. "Well, the final vote came down to me, and I just wasn't sure if ObamaCare was going to be good or not, but the President promised..."

Somin also has a healthy dose of data showing just how disconnected the "average" voter is. Some of his tables are a little better than Jay Leno's "Man on the Street" interviews. But not by much.

So. Considering that voters do not know what's up and have no rational reason to learn, Somin asks, what is the best structure of government? I referred to this in a comment last week, but one particularly interesting section was a look at different democratic theories and their demands on their respective polities:

To demonstrate this point, we must compare the actual level of political knowledge to that demanded by four prominent theories of representation. In ascending order of their knowledge requirements, the four are retrospective voting, Burkean trusteeship, representation of popular preferences on specific issues, and deliberative democracy. All four theories require substantial levels of political knowledge in the electorate to ensure majoritarian control of the legislative process.

Somin has no magic bullets for fixing voter ignorance and he takes the time to shoot down some popular suggestions. The American culture will not accept diminution of the franchise and it is difficult to imagine that the level of knowledge can be brought up to an acceptable level.

The real solution Somin offers is Federalism. Before I pack up my family to move to Detroit, I might do a little research; my "foot-voting" is 100% decisive.

THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES of constitutional federalism have been debated for centuries. We have also had centuries of debate over the extent to which there should be constitutional constraints on the scope of government power more generally. But one major possible advantage of decentralization and limited government has often been ignored in the debate so far: its potential for reducing the costs of widespread political ignorance.
[...]
The informational advantages of foot voting over ballot box voting suggest that decentralized federalism can increase both citizen welfare and democratic accountability relative to policymaking in a centralized unitary state.

It is a good argument for limited government and a great book -- five stars, no question. If there is a flaw to ThreeSourcers, it would be the soft-pedaling of coherent philosophy:
The second salient aspect of ignorance is that most voters lack an "ideological" view of politics capable of integrating multiple issues into a single analytical framework derived from a few basic principles; ordinary voters rarely exhibit the kind of ideological consistency in issue stances that are evident in surveys of political elites.

I think most folks 'round these parts recognize themselves in that group. I need study an issue only long enough to fit it into a measure of its Constitutional principles and individual liberty. And if I am wrong, I will get knocked around around here. If I ever get the opportunity to enjoy a beer with Professor Somin, I'd ask him more about that. I do not present it as a flaw in the book because I do not expect more voters to develop a coherent philosophy than learn the issues in depth. It's a statistically meaningless difference.

UPDATE: CATO Video Forum on the book.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:12 AM | What do you think? [0]

November 9, 2013

PPACAo2010HSOTD

He must know that the Democrats who stunk up the Oval Office with their fear-musk will flee him like he's a urologist with hook-hands if the White House doesn't hit the new deadline for Healthcare.gov. If all that Torschlusspanik doesn't have you feeling just a little Schadenfreude, you're kaput inside. Or as I say in my opening sentence in the magazine: "To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, you'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the unraveling of Obamacare." -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]

November 8, 2013

Temperament

Dear fellow TEA Partiers,

Please, PLEASE... don't nominate this guy.

Tancredo was caught on camera giving the finger to a Hudak supporter at a rally of signature gatherers who want Hudak kicked out of office.

Tancredo told Denver's CBS4 that the man yelled an expletive at him after following him around with a video camera.

"Look, this guy is a thug, and you have to talk to thugs in a language they understand," he said.

Wrong, Tom. You have to learn to ignore verbal taunts. While it's true that this sort of thing endears you to your acolytes, it also shows poor judgment, character and temperament to the rest of Colorado's voters who would be even less inclined to make you their governor.

But jk thinks:

He's a uniter!

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2013 11:21 AM

November 7, 2013

Yet Another #CMA Clip!

I don't recall ever reading:

Looking extra pretty in a ruffly, lemon yellow party dress that showed off his killer legs, Grover Norquist...

David Boaz? Ron Paul? No. Yet, it works for Kacey Musgraves.

Her fierce libertarian anthem was apparently too much for the censors. But John Stuart Mill would have approved. In a ruffly. lemon party dress...

Music Posted by John Kranz at 6:27 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Sure would like to hear this song played at Ken Buck rallies. That would get me to contribute.

Little fissures everywhere. Good to see this at the CMA.

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2013 11:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"Say what you think.
Love who you love.
'Cause you just get so many
trips 'round the sun."

First time I'd heard of the song or the singer. Thank you censors for making her newsworthy!

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2013 11:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Actually, I have heard a couple of these songs. Merry Go Round and Blowin Smoke. WARNING: She mentions "mary jane" in Merry Go Round too.

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2013 12:16 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

I don't much like this song.

But I like Kacey. She is real Country's struggling last gasps to not sink into watered down pop music with a cowbody hat.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 10, 2013 5:59 AM

Libertario Delenda Est

I should be starting this argument on Facebook -- I have a surfeit of third party loyalists there.

Robert Tracinski dispels the concern that the Virginia LP Gubernatorial candidate somehow spoiled the race and handed it to McAuliffe. But then he follows with a truth that is far more damning:

But this story still says a lot about the uselessness of the Libertarian Party and its failed four-decade experiment in creating a third party. In the Virginia race, the Libertarian offered no distinctive agenda. On social issues, he was opposed to the religious right and was pro-abortion rights, and on economics he opposed tax and spending cuts and told a reporter that he embraced "mainstream economics" (i.e., big-government Keynesianism) rather than "Austrian economics," i.e., pro-free-market economics. Which makes him--what? A moderate Democrat? No wonder he drew more votes from McAuliffe. My guess is that he got the Democrats who really, really want to legalize pot.

For all of the complaints about the Republican establishment in Virginia, it strikes me that the problem with the Libertarian Party is they have no such establishment. The Libertarian Party remains so small, so thinly staffed, and so desperate for attention that it sometimes seems like anybody can just waltz in and spread around a little money and get their nomination. (Does anybody remember back in 1994 when shock-jock Howard Stern walked into the Libertarian Party convention and walked out with their nomination for governor of New York?)


Libertario Delenda Est!


Otequay of the Ayday

PPACA Edition - (I regret to admit that I misnamed the "Horror Story of the Day" category for Obamacare. I left out the P P.)

This difference in reactions to failure dramatically highlights the primary reason for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with market-based reform. As the Edsel flop demonstrates, businesses in the free market are quite capable of making colossal mistakes. However, when they do so and the customer rejects their products, they make the necessary adjustments. And, despite the widely believed myth that the market fails to work for health care, any private enterprise that had produced an unpopular mess like Obamacare would by now have shut it down. But the President won’t even consider delaying it. Why? Because his customers are required by law to avail themselves of his third-rate services.

From 'Obamacare and the Edsel: A Tale of Two Lemons' in American Spectator


"Do you have that Obamacare?"

Though it might have been a big risk several months ago, with the growing dissatisfaction over Obamacare emerging just in time for the CMA Awards, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood hit it out of the park with this year’s funny skit.

Back story here.

But AndyN thinks:

RACISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!eleventy

Why, if Amarillo by Morning wasn't one of my favorite songs, I don't think I could have sat through that whole offensive display.

Posted by: AndyN at November 7, 2013 6:56 PM

Jay Carney Will Never be a Real Boy!

The lovely bride observed that Glenn Kessler, the WaPo Fact Checker, had awarded Three Pinocchios to Jay Carney for his defense of President Obama's lying about his previous lies.

three_pino.png

At this rate, she quips, he'll never be a real boy! (And he'd look pretty good with donkey ears...)

But johngalt thinks:

Hilarious! Love it.

Posted by: johngalt at November 7, 2013 2:55 PM

The Worst Day Ever!

You want to really cheese off a [L|l]ibertarian? Give them a great experience at the DMV.

I needed to get my license renewed. As I renewed online last time, I had to go in. [Horror music swells in background...] Well, I was in for a day of hell, no doubt, but all my suspicions would be confirmed. I'd have some good stories to tell without having to join the Army.

I was able to make an appointment online using the www.colorado.gov website. While it is not Amazon, it is not ObamaCare either. It was functional and serviceable. I made appointments for myself & the lovely bride, cancelled them and rescheduled at another time. Pretty easy, email confirmations were sent. Pretty slick, gub'mint boyz, pretty slick...

Arrived on my appointment day, there was a tablet to sign in. It looked up my appointment and vended a "take your number" slip with an estimate of 7:00. In less than five, I was called up. A pleasant and professional young lady started the process. When I needed to go to the car to find a proof of address, she handed me off to young man who was also very personable.

We both got in and out in a half hour. Everybody was nice. And today, two weeks before promised, our cards were in the mailbox.

jk_enemyofstate300.jpg

Damn. Ruined my whole day.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM | What do you think? [4]
But dagny thinks:

I bought a new horse trailer. The state expects me to pay for the privilege of buying a trailer and get a license and title in Colorado and so off to the DMV I went. When I arrived, I took a number (84). I looked up at the board for the next number to be called (24). No I am not making this up. Hoping against hope that numbers would be called quickly, I sat down. An hour later I was still nowhere near and I had another appointment so I left. Returned a few days later and discovered I needed more paperwork (VIN inspection). Wanted to have my parents go for me since they are retired and have more time between 8am and 5pm when I am supposed to be working. That takes even MORE paperwork (notarized power of attorney). Generally frustrated and angry with government for days. Hope that makes your day better JK. :-)

Posted by: dagny at November 7, 2013 2:05 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

A real [L/l]ibertarian would ask why government requires you to get their permission to operate a motor vehicle in the first place. Or is that more of an anarchist position?

A pragmatist would take the stance that government can dictate who gets to drive and who doesn't when they prove they can do certain grown-up things, like balance their checkbook, live within their means, and deal with more important tasks like ending burglary and operating a public school system that actually renders an education.

At least your DMV takes photographs that don't look like they were all taken in prison. Colorado seems to have that over California too, I guess.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 7, 2013 2:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks, @dagny, I feel a little better. But a bit of NaCl in the laceration: your terrible experience (I am guessing) is at the hand of the Weld County Clerk & Recorder, mine at the State of Colorado. So, both local control and the implied efficacy of a more conservative polity are out the window as well. Sigh. The Communists will develop a cure for Multiple Sclerosis at this rate.

@Keith: As it happens, I am a lot more handsome than the picture implies...

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2013 2:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Yes, a hard-core, leaning big-L with streaks of anarcho-capitalism would lobby for private roads and private restrictions on their use. I would not oppose either.

In the world we inherited, the State builds and maintains the roads and I am fine with acceding to their control. I have long used driving as a privilege as distinguished from a right. (Well I used to, but the libertarian anguish at the example of roads has impeded that.) I do not find it immoral to require insurance or a license to drive on Colorado roads. When this was trotted out as a defense of the ObamaCare mandate, I was happy to draw an interstice between Colorado's roads and its oxygen.

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2013 2:45 PM

November 6, 2013

"Free" Healthcare, but can they afford it?

Obviously this is the insurance companies' fault:

Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia has four plans that are free to some customers, but the company, as well as other insurers, has been careful not to publicize its free coverage out of fear of alienating customers who will need to pay more for coverage more appropriate for their needs, the Times said.

"We're not advertising zero dollars," said Brian Lobley, a senior vice president at Independence Blue Cross, while noting monthly premiums in the $20 to $30 range.

But maybe there's another reason they aren't publicizing the "free" plans: They aren't free.

While varying in design, bronze plans generally cover about 60 percent of a person's medical costs in addition to standard benefits such as prescription drugs, maternity care and mental health treatment. All plans limit annual out-of-pocket costs to $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families. But insurers and advocates said out-of-pocket costs can be discouraging to people with low incomes.

I'm discouraged, how 'bout you? Oh, did I mention?

Three independent estimates by Wall Street analysts and a consulting firm told The New York Times up to 7 million people, under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, could qualify for the no-premium plans, the majority in the bronze category, the least expensive available. (...) ACA supporters say the availability of free-premium plans and inexpensive policies that cover more indicate the law is achieving its goal of making health insurance more widely available. (...) "The whole point of the law was not only to cover the uninsured, but so people didn't have to make choices between food or drugs, or going to the doctor or dentist," said Karen Davis, a health policy expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "It's what it is designed to do."

An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.


Nanny Bloomy!

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 1:01 PM | What do you think? [0]

November 5, 2013

You Know it is True

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:09 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Terri thinks:

True and crazy making!

Posted by: Terri at November 6, 2013 8:30 AM

Election Night Colorado

A couple of big issues on the statewide ballot today. A nearly billion dollar annual tax increase, primarily to prop up public employee pensions, and a smaller tax on legalized marijuana.

Here are Six Items to Watch for in Tonight's Election from local pollster Floyd Cirulli.

And the latest, and last before returns begin to come out, voter turnout data statewide, by county. Lookie there, El Paso county turnout exceeds Denver's!

But johngalt thinks:

Billion dollar tax hike, introducing progressive rates to CO income tax, shot down by voters 2:1.

Posted by: johngalt at November 6, 2013 1:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Even more importantly, perhaps, at least three CO school districts (Douglas, Jefferson and Denver) elected a slate of anti-union school board members, including Douglas County where the members were re-elected after implementing sweeping reforms.

This growing statewide trend likely will reverberate nationally.

Posted by: johngalt at November 6, 2013 1:36 AM
But jk thinks:

The only slightly sour note was that the 51st State Initiative performed weakly, especially in my home county of Weld.

It was a always going to be difficult, but its tepid start effectively kills it. C'est le guerre.

Posted by: jk at November 6, 2013 1:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Blog Optimist here! IMO, it was never more than a shot across the bow of state government. For this "crackpot idea" to garner 40-plus percent in every county it was tested is nothing to sneeze at. Secede from the state? That's crazy talk! And yet, more than just the proponents and their relatives voted "Aye." Still enough support to lobby urban pols to straighten up.

Posted by: johngalt at November 6, 2013 2:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Fair point. Apres le deluge, even the Facebook page changed from trying out new flag designs to "Send a Message..." You are probably correct that that was accomplished. Staying optimistic, I'd suggest the 2-1 thumping given to Amendment 66 -- which would take money from rural counties to plow into urban school districts -- was more legible.

Posted by: jk at November 6, 2013 2:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Speaking of those urban school districts:

3. School Reform Slates Sweep The State: In perhaps the most underreported news of the night, school reform candidates from Northern Colorado to Jefferson County to Denver swept the school board races. The JeffCo school board "sleeper slate"ť victory surprised even us. Everyone had their eyes on Douglas County, where reformers beat back a union challenge backed by Obama's senior Colorado advisor and bankrolled with big national union money. But school choice supporters racked up victories in nearly every race they ran.

From CO Peak Politics' '7 Lessons Learned from the 2013 Colorado Election'

Posted by: johngalt at November 6, 2013 3:05 PM

You Guys Sick of Discussing ObamaCare®?

Hahaha -- kidding!

As huge pieces of the hull go tumbling into the sea, let's not ignore obvious malfeasance in the bar and laundry accounts...

One of the lies -- misspoke my ass! -- used to sell this bill and the reelection of its benefactor was that "it will not add a dime to the deficit." I call that a lie because anybody paying attention knew that the ridiculous machinations used to finance it would be unwound by future Congresses and the phantom revenues replaced with general largess.

Exhibit A: The Medical Device Tax. There is broad and bipartisan support for repealing this government impediment to innovation.

Strong, bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress have already taken preliminary votes to repeal this tax -- twice in the House, by 270-146 and 231-192 margins, and once, by a 79-20 margin, in the Senate -- and repeal appeared to be on the table during last month's government shutdown.

A study found the excise tax would amount to a whopping 29 percent of R&D spending industry-wide.

"With the current tax environment, the regulatory environment, and the payment cuts already put in place, and the lack of venture capital," it has been a challenging decade for the industry, Wanda Moebius, a spokesperson for the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), an industry trade group, told me.

While the device tax repeal foundered on the shoals of the partisan politics that eventually ended the recent shutdown, its repeal remains a possibility, and proponents of the tax remain on defense.


As a customer and likely future beneficiary of medical device innovation, I applaud its repeal. But that paltry$30 Billion that it was slated to raise. Well, Portia, from where will that pound of flesh be extracted? And when the Unions' Cadillac taxes are inevitably repealed, whither and whence on that $80 Billion? Megan McArdle:
Moreover, the people who end up in those plans won't just be choosing them as the cost of other plans goes up; they’ll be forced into them because the other plans aren't offered at all. They are going to be screaming mad, and Democrats should not delude themselves that they will be soothed by all the marvelous things that may then be happening in the individual market. That's why I still think there is a good chance that this gets rolled back before it goes into effect -- but that is going to create its own, not insubstantial, budget problem: The Cadillac tax is supposed to raise about $80 billion by 2023.

The $500 Billion in Medicare cuts will not hold as the ACA pumps up Medicare and Medicaid enrollment (not that anybody ever truly expected them to stick).

Looks like $610 Billion of offsetting revenue will be forgiven to try and prop up this abject failure.

But johngalt thinks:

This is like that old joke about the woman who claims she is not a prostitute, after agreeing to have sex for a million dollars: If they're willing to print $7T, why not just print 8?

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2013 3:08 PM

Our Margaret

Peggy Noonan's blog post on ObamaCare is a jewel from start to finish. Insty provided a massive except, but I think ThreeSourcers may like this aside toward the end:

In my lifetime the good word liberal was discarded by the Democratic Party. Over the decades they'd run it into the ground and changed it from a plus to a minus. Liberal came to suggest a whole world of bad ideas--soft on crime, eager for gun confiscation, big taxing. So the past 20 years Democrats tried to change their label, and in the Obama era it was finally definitively changed. They were now progressives.

Well, the biggest piece of progressive legislation in our lifetimes--not just costly but intrusive, abusive, and marked by a command-and-control mentality--is ObamaCare.

Remember, "We're gonna need a bigger boat"? They're gonna need another name.

But AndyN thinks:

As far as I remember, they didn't stop calling themselves liberals because they wanted to, they did because for at least half a generation you never heard the word liberal without first hearing the words tax and spend. And because every Democrat was labeled as such.

I agree that at some point Democrats will start running from the word progressive the same way they've run from the words liberal and socialist, but I think there are still a lot of them who don't believe that brand has been tarnished yet. If the US is to recover from her current decline, it's important that people who care about liberty find a way to link the word progressive with all the problems it's caused in the minds of people who don't usually pay much attention. It's an uphill battle, but in the internet age I can't see how it will be harder than it was to make everybody with a D after his name a tax and spend liberal back in the days when the left really did control all the media.

Posted by: AndyN at November 5, 2013 1:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My latest T-shirt/bumper sticker idea:

PROGRESSIVISM AIN'T

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2013 1:17 PM

But How's ObamaCare® Doing in the Tarheel State?

WSLS (NBC):

Blue Cross Blue Shield has more than 3.7 million customers in [North Carolina], but internal emails obtained by WNCN show that as of last Friday, only one person had enrolled for health insurance through the Exchange and that person hasn't paid.

Without payment, enrollment means nothing because the customer is still not officially in the system.


Hat-tip Jim Geraghty.

But johngalt thinks:

Private businesses frequently make a big deal over their "one millionth customer" or even, "one thousandth." I keep waiting for the Oministration to call a presser to honor their, "first paying customer for Obamacare." Seems the NASCAR Retards are a bit to clever to fall for this one.

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2013 4:01 PM

Quote (& ACAHS) of the Day

They lied because people wouldn't have passed it if they told the truth. Now they're lashing out as people point out that they lied. Back during the campaign they lied and said that Mitt Romney cut off a woman with cancer. Now they're lying about the woman with cancer that they cut off. Fraudulent, indeed. But lashing out at critics won't stop the rot -- Glenn Reynolds
But AndyN thinks:

I've seen the claim a few places that they lied because they wouldn't have been able to pass it if they hadn't. I don't know that that's actually true. They passed it because they had majorities in both houses of congress, and being honest about what they were passing wouldn't have changed the numbers. I think it's more likely the case that they lied because they knew they were going to pass something wildly unpopular, and telling the truth would have made the electoral disaster in 2010 even worse, and may have carried over to the 2012 election.

Posted by: AndyN at November 5, 2013 12:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But wouldn't those electoral disasters have changed the numbers, as you say? They had to twist Bart Stupak's arm nearly out of it's socket to get it through as it was - WITH the lie.

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2013 1:14 PM
But jk thinks:

They certainly had the upper hand. But I don't think they had the impunity to, with apologies to Mencken, "give it to us any gooder and harder" than they did.

Ilya Somin (review corner spoiler alert!) discusses the "Retrospective Voting" theory of democracy:

According to economist Joseph Schumpeter, the most famous modern exponent of the theory, "electorates normally do not control their political leaders in any way except by refusing to reelect them" when dissatisfied with their efforts.

Somin, Ilya (2013-10-02). Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter (Kindle Locations 719-721). Stanford University Press. Kindle Edition.

The President made many of these misstatements in his own reelection campaign, before the wonders of the law were made clear.

Posted by: jk at November 5, 2013 1:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I am watching closely the depth, breadth, and haste with which Democrat office holders abandon Obamacare. It is not inconceivable that, in a hail-mary attempt to salvage their re-elections, enough of them may backtrack far enough that they would vote to remove the lame-duck president from office upon impeachment. (Hey, a guy can dream!) But even if that extreme turn of events does not happen, Democrats are royally and irreversibly f---ed, electorally, by Obamacare.

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2013 3:04 PM

November 4, 2013

If only somebody had told them...

They knew:

Hat-tip: Insty

But johngalt thinks:

They were warned ... THREE YEARS ago.

Why did Healthcare.gov fail? Because nobody involved in the project knew how to start up a business enterprise under the burdensome federal regulations that loom over the American economy.

...

...

...

BWAAAAAAAA HAAAAAA HAAA HA!

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2013 4:10 PM

ACA Overreach "is Freedom"

It's one thing when a dyed-in-the-wool pure capitalist like me says it, but now the respected centrist Lawrence Kudlow says the "Affordable Care Act" is anti-freedom, unfair, unaffordable, and "well on its way to collapsing of its own weight" before concluding:

But here's the bigger point: All this is the inevitable result of massive central-planning exercises to control the economy. That's not freedom.

No amount of rescue legislation is going to change this. It's the elections of 2014 and 2016 that will allow the American people to reject this Soviet-style planning.

But I'll reference Krauthammer once again:

ObamaCare represents the greatest-ever expansion of the liberal entitlement-state dream. And you know what? That dream is crumbling and dissolving before our very eyes.

And that is freedom.


If you like your plan, you're a moron.

One peculiar fallout of the ObamaCareDebacle®: the effects are so egregious that sometimes over-the-top commentators appear completely reasonable. I don't link to a Townhall.com post with a Hannity clip very frequently, but I am happy to share this one.

There was a time not too long ago when feminists and liberals within the Democratic Party condemned men for telling women how to handle their healthcare choices. In fact, President Obama got re-elected thanks to the argument, "Don't let Republicans let the government get between you and your doctor."

One hopes some basic themes of liberty will come out of the debate -- here's to the lovers, the dreamers, and me! In the meantime, enjoy this patronizing old white statist male telling a young woman she is too stoopid to choose her own healthcare.

If only he could get on the exchange with that dumb chick and show her how to find a good plan.

But johngalt thinks:

If Hannity called his bluff, set the two of them up with a browser and a camera looking over their shoulders, that would be fun to watch.

Posted by: johngalt at November 4, 2013 2:49 PM

November 3, 2013

How About a Little Fiction, Scarecrow?

And who, really, is so fancy-schmancy they can't appreciate "Volare," arguably among the greatest pop tunes ever written? Young man dreams he's flying in the sky, above it all, defying gravity and time, like having midlife early, in the second verse he wakes up, back on earth, first thing he sees is the big blue eyes of the woman he loves. And that will turn out to be sky enough for him. All men should grow up so gracefully.
I don't know that I have grown up or grown gracefully. But the novels of Thomas Pynchon have been the signposts along the way. His impenetrable "Gravity's Rainbow" remains my favorite novel of all time. And, as he chunks them out only a little better than once a decade, you can remember the span just as well from the Pynchon release as the hair style, fashion or dance moves.

Non-fiction guy missed the last two (Jeeburz, your favorite only writes nine books and you miss two? Some fanboy.). But I enjoyed the latest, Bleeding Edge. Many of his tend to be challenging. Bleeding Edge is downright accessible for Pynchon. I don't know that I'd pass a graduate level Lit test on it, but you won't get the swimming lost feeling that creeps up in Gravity's or V.

The reason to read Pynchon is to experience the inside of his preternatural intellect. He is quite the polymath. Whatever oases of knowledge you have on specific topics, he'll seem informed when he discusses them and you have to assume he sounds just as credible to the expert on ancient French literature, the NY sewer system, plastics, banana farming or the Zulu wars. Bleeding Edge discusses computers and the hacker community right at the burst of the dotcom bubble through 9/11. Unsurprisingly, he nails it.

The other reason is plain old style. A good friend of this blog once complimented an author (not Pynchon) with the line "he makes words dance." So does Pynchon:

Aah, God help us, how sleazy is it, and how has it come to this? a rented palace, a denial of the passage of time, a mogul on the black-diamond slopes of the IT sector thinks he's a rock star. It isn’t so much that Maxine can't be fooled, it's more that she hates to be, and when she finds anybody trying too hard to fool her, she reaches for her revolver.
[...]
The shot enters a dirt road lined with shacks and trailers, and approaches what at first seems like a roadhouse because every window is pouring light, people are wandering around in and out of the place, sounds of jollification and a music track including Motor City psychobilly Elvis Hitler, at the moment singing the Green Acres theme to the tune of "Purple Haze" and providing Maxine an unmeasured moment of nostalgia so unlikely that she begins to feel targeted personally.

I would not call it his best work. If one wants to start Pynchon, I'd suggest "Mason & Dixon" to those who don't like pain or "Gravity's Rainbow" to those who do. But it is enjoyable and smart. Four Stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM | What do you think? [0]

November 1, 2013

"M for Mankind"

Promoted to embed from a comment by brother Keith, offered in response to melancholy references to the archaic and the obsolete, that among these are the idea that every man is an end within himself. And yes, it is today's ACA Horror Story.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

It has been said, and I would agree, that the best of science fiction grows out of social commentary - a projected future based on the present. Heinlein's "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress," Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles," Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" all being fine examples. Rand's "Anthem" could be included here as well. Serling's work in the Twilight Zone often stood in this stream as well.

Thank you for the kind mention, too -

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 1, 2013 4:48 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

I love the Twilight Zone. If only TV had something so thought provoking today....

Posted by: T. Greer at November 2, 2013 5:12 AM
But jk thinks:

The blog contrarian is warming up... I want to wait until I watch the clip. I don't remember this episode and it sounds superb.

But please good people, go easy on the TV nostalgia in my presence. I will comment on the Twilight Zone episode and try to find a link to Jonah Goldberg's making my point better that I can.

But the point is that, while Twilight Zone was swell, this has filtered to the top out of the tons of nonsense of the time.

What saddens some TheeeSourcers is the expectation of intellectual capacity that we see in Twilight Zone or the Johnny Carson interview of Ayn Rand. It is certainly pitched to a lower common denominator these days.

But take away Rod Serling and you're left with I Love Lucy, Dick van Dyke, Andy Griffith and Hogan's Heroes. All of whom have their charms (well, maybe not Hogan), but compare poorly to Buffy, Firefly, the Miami Vice episode with Willie Nelson playing the Texas Ranger, Castle, Eureka, Defiance, and my new show Sleepy Hollow.

That, and a three-network lock on information that we're just beginning to crack at the edges. I'm less than nostalgic.

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2013 1:58 PM

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