Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: October 18, 2011


Memories of home

You may have noticed that there was no podcast this week, and that there haven’t been any economic statistics reports this week. That’s because I had to travel to Houston, Texas this weekend to attend the funeral of my grandmother, Mildred Davidson. Many years ago, my grandfather bought their funeral plots at Brookside funeral home, and, though the family migrated out to California, we took them back home after their deaths. My grandfather, Paul E. Davidson, died in 2003.  Now, he and my grandmother are finally together again.

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When I returned for my grandfather’s funeral, I didn’t have a lot of time to do much beyond see some family, and go to his funeral.  This time, I spent three days in Houston, and had time to travel back to all the places I remember from my childhood.

I was born in Houston, and grew up there. My parents divorced when I was two, and my father moved back to New Mexico, where he was from.  I spent most of the year living with my mother, and summers with my father, mainly in Albuquerque, NM. So, I sort of have two homes, and two sets of people—entirely unrelated to each other—who saw me grow up. It’s kind of weird. But, Houston was the place I identify as home. So, I went back to the places I remember.

Below the fold is a picture-heavy story; part travelogue, part history. If you’re interested in all about finding out about me, or my past, this is it.

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Why OWS will fail to ignite a “revolution”

Succinctly, it is just another in a long line of Marxist protests which just hasn’t been fully found out yet.

And, it’s useful to a certain political contingent at the moment.

But, as Charles Gasparino notes in his NY Daily Post article, at its core Occupy Wall Street is an anti-capitalist Marxist movement:

The standard portrayal of the Wall Street protesters goes something like this: Ragtag group of unemployed young adults, venting often incoherent but overall legitimate populist outrage about economic inequality. But go down to the movement’s headquarters, as I did this past weekend, and you see something far different.

It’s not just that knowledge of their “oppressors” — the evil bankers — is pretty thin, or that many of them are clearly college kids with nothing better to do than embrace the radical chic of “a cause.” I found a unifying and increasingly coherent ideology emerging among the protesters, which at its core has less to do with the evils of the banking business and more about the evils of capitalism — and the need for a socialist revolution.

Gasparino goes on to detail what he found and it’s as unremarkable and as expected a listing of what you’d find at any A.N.S.W.E.R. protest.  You know it is radical when even Richard Trumka is vilified:

That was pretty mild compared to the sentiments offered in the official “Statement of the League for the Revolutionary Party” on the protests. These guys view as the enemy not just Wall Street tycoons, but also liberal labor leaders like Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO.

The problem with Trumka, according to the Revolutionary Party and its Zuccotti Park contingent: He wants to work with wishy-washy Democratic Party politicians, where the true revolutionaries want to “defend and develop Marxist theory as a guide to action,” which is the protests’ real purpose.

And yet Trumka is one of many Democrats who at least tentatively embraces this mob.  Political expediency.  They want to use this to validate their class warfare campaign.

Yes friends, the murderous Che is again plastered on everything and the “revolutionary” Marxist spirit permeates everything – which is why this is eventually destined to implode:

Maybe the worse-spent dollar I have ever spent in my life was on a propaganda broadsheet titled “Justice,” which advocates “Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism.” On the front page of the newspaper-like document, beneath the headline “Capitalism: System Failure,” was a tease for a story on the economy and how “influential business economist Nouriel Roubini” recently said how “Karl Marx had it right. At some point, capitalism can destroy itself.”

Yes, the left-leaning Roubini made that fatuous statement, and many similar ones — so many, in fact, that he has lost much of his credibility in financial circles, though that didn’t quite make it into the “Marx Was Right!” story.

Also absent was any notice of how the much-hated banks benefited not from free-market capitalism, which would have let them fail in 2008, but from crony capitalism that bailed them out. The similar cronyism practiced by Trumka and the Obama administration — massive spending on useless but politically connected businesses like Solyndra, paired with class-warfare rhetoric — likewise has very little to do with free markets.

Yeah, this ain’t the ‘60s kids.  And the core then was just as radical as the core of OWS is now.  When the war in Vietnam ended, so did the ability of the radicals to get their anti-capitalist message out.  

Eventually this will be seen by the populace as a whole for what it really is.  That’s because at some point, the true nature of that core that Gasparino talks about will shine through in such a way that even slick spin doctors won’t be able to credibly deny it.   And when that happens, the entire movement will collapse like a wet paper box.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Does the unsustainability of the CLASS act finally doom ObamaCare?

Don’t forget, the CLASS act was one of the budget gimmicks used to supposedly show that ObamaCare “bent the cost curve downward”.  Ezra Klein explains:

“CLASS” stands — or stood — for “Community Living Assistance Services and Supports.” The idea was simple, or seemed to be: a voluntary insurance program that would cover home health-care options for adults who become disabled. It was Sen. Ted Kennedy’s brainchild, but the White House was cool to it in public and hostile in private. “Seems like a recipe for disaster to me,” wrote one aide in a subsequently released e-mail.

The problem with CLASS was well understood. It frontloaded its savings and backloaded its costs. As the Congressional Budget Office wrote (pdf), “the cash flows under the new program would generate budgetary savings (that is, a reduction in net federal outlays) for the 2010-2019 period and for the 10 years following 2019, followed by budgetary costs (an increase in net federal outlays) in subsequent decades.” No mystery there.

Well not exactly.  It was never sold as “unsustainable” because had the truth been told when the bill was passed into law, it would have been clear that this was as much a Ponzi scheme as Social Security, because it relied on those currently paying in to the program to pay for those collecting or using benefits and, probably just as serious, it was a voluntary program.  Two strikes against sustainability. 

Obviously I’m not advocating that it be made mandatory, just explaining why it was destined to fail.   And fail it has.  The director of the program last week announced that the obvious had finally become obvious even to them.  The program was unsustainable and they were closing it down.

The administration announced late Friday it did not see a way to make the long-term care CLASS Act, which was crafted by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), pay for itself. But perhaps even more damning is how the White House mishandled the controversy; consumer advocates accused the administration of being disingenuous and gutless.

Republicans are now pushing to have the act repealed and it has reignited the larger hope that repeal of the CLASS act will lead to repeal of ObamaCare in total.

The growing drumbeat for repeal comes after the White House announced that it is against repeal and remains committed to making the program work.

“We do not support repeal,” said White House spokesman Nick Papas. “Repealing the CLASS Act isn’t necessary or productive. What we should be doing is working together to address the long-term care challenges we face in this country.”

Admitting that the CLASS act is unsustainable would naturally open the administration up to questions about the whole of ObamaCare’s sustainability, especially since CLASS was one of its main cost reduction pillars. 

CBO had scored the long-term care program for people with disabilities as raising $86 billion, or 40 percent of the health law’s $210 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years.

And it was all a lie.  I’m not sure what else you call it.  It was a knowing falsehood perpetrated by those who wanted to pass the health care law and were willing to do just about anything and say just about anything to do so.

The failure of the CLASS act calls into question the sustainability of the entire law.  So the White House has grimly held the line of the CLASS act while it has become apparent to everyone else that the act has to go.  And HHS has announced it is closing down the CLASS office.

On the political side, though, reality and party don’t often meet.  But in the case of CLASS some Democrats are seeing the light while others would prefer to keep the all but dead program alive:

Some Democrats on Capitol Hill might vote against repeal because they want to keep CLASS alive and to support the White House. But others who are facing challenging reelection races — including Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) — might not use political capital to save a costly program that might never be implemented.

Interesting.  The question now is does proving that 40% of the cost savings ObamaCare promise was a sham call into question the validity and sustainability of the entire law?  

It should.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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