Free Markets, Free People

Canada


How good is Obama’s foreign relations record really?

One of the supposed areas in which President Obama has done well is in the area of foreign relations.  And, of course, the press has dutifully helped create the myth of success.

But have foreign relations really been a success for him?

Don’t forget, this is the man who thinks he was responsible for “Arab Spring”.  In both Egypt and Libya, radical islamists have begun to take charge.  And this morning, a rocket launched from Egypt hit Israel.

Of course relations with our staunchest ally in the region – Israel – are terrible. 

Then there is Russia.  They way they’ve treated the US Ambassador to Russia is indicative of their belief that Obama is weak:

The Kremlin sees the Obama administration as weak and indecisive, making it a perfect, nonthreatening partner that can be bullied and provoked using the same tools Moscow routinely employs against opposition leaders and civil and human rights activists at home. This was the approach that the Kremlin used against the Estonian ambassador to protest the relocation of a monument to Soviet soldiers from downtown Tallinn. By Moscow’s reasoning, if such tactics are permissible when dealing with "weak" Estonia, why not use the same methods against a "weak" United States? Why should Putin and his cohorts show respect for the U.S. ambassador? On the contrary, it is better to put him in his place.

And they have used a “Kremlin-sponsored media campaign aimed at discrediting, pressuring, provoking and defaming him.”

Nice reset.

Of course in the anarchy of world politics, weakness is something to be exploited, and Russia sees the opportunity to do exactly that.

You’d think, in the midst of all this failure, he could at least maintain good relationships with his allies.  But Israel would beg to differ.  And, surprisingly, so would Canada and Mexico.  But you won’t read about it in the US press.

Investors.com reports:

Obama’s neglect of our nearest neighbors and biggest trade partners has created deteriorating relations, a sign of a president who’s out of touch with reality. Problems are emerging that aren’t being reported.

Fortunately, the Canadian and Mexican press told the real story. Canada’s National Post quoted former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson as saying the North American Free Trade Agreement and the three-nation alliance it has fostered since 1994 have been so neglected they’re "on life support."

Energy has become a searing rift between the U.S. and Canada and threatens to leave the U.S. without its top energy supplier.

The Winnipeg Free Press reported that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned Obama the U.S. will have to pay market prices for its Canadian oil after Obama’s de facto veto of the Keystone XL pipeline. Canada is preparing to sell its oil to China.

Until now, NAFTA had shielded the U.S. from having to pay global prices for Canadian oil. That’s about to change.

I talked about that yesterday when I noted the ultimate cost of Obama’s fit of pique that led to him disapproving the Keystone XL pipeline.

And Mexico?  Is it as bad as Canada?

Things were even worse, if you read the Mexican press accounts of the meeting.

Excelsior of Mexico City reported that President Felipe Calderon bitterly brought up Operation Fast and Furious, a U.S. government operation that permitted Mexican drug cartels to smuggle thousands of weapons into drug-war-torn Mexico. This blunder has wrought mayhem on Mexico and cost thousands of lives.

The mainstream U.S. press has kept those questions out of the official press conferences, while Obama has feigned ignorance to the Mexicans and hasn’t even apologized.

As usual, we’re poorly served by our media which somehow seems to have managed to miss all the points the Canadian and Mexican press have noted.

Yes, this president has a record he has to run on finally and it seems his foreign relations record isn’t, in reality, much better than his domestic one.

Of course it will be up to the GOP to point that out since obviously, the US press isn’t going too.

Bottom line for the Obama record? 

#FAIL

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Ezra Klein: A larger welfare state might mean a smaller deficit

Honestly, that’s his premise.  You can read it here.  He bases his argument mostly in health care costs.  Obviously where he tries to go with it is toward a single payer system.  But he uses Germany as the model.  Anyone, does Germany have a single payer system?  No, it has a public health insurance program that covers 88% of the population.

Take Germany. They have a pretty big welfare state: pensions, health care, paid vacations, unemployment benefits equal to two-thirds of one’s income.

So that’s great and per Klein, who, like I said, wants you to believe by his vague general description, that Germany has a system like … Canada.

Don’t believe it?  Well it takes that sort of implication to make a statement like this:

To bring this across the Atlantic, you could argue that the United States’s debt burden is the product of an insufficiently large welfare state — at least with regard to health care. To see a stark illustration of that thesis, head to the Web site of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and download their health-care statistics for Canada and the United States [emphasis mine].

Notice how apparently we transitioned seamlessly from a country with health insurance to a country with a single payer system without that being obvious?  In reality we’ve looked at the apple, now he plans on comparing it to the orange:

As recently as 1965, the cost of those two systems competed neck-and-neck. That year, Canada spent 5.9 percent of its GDP on health care. The United States spent 5.7 percent. But around that time, Canada was transitioning to its current single-payer system. Over the next four decades, the growth of health-care costs slowed in Canada while it accelerated in the United States. By 2009, Canada was spending 11 percent of its GDP on health care — and covering everyone. The United States was spending 17.4 percent of its GDP and leaving 45 million uninsured. In dollar terms, we’re spending $3,600 more per person, per year, than Canada.

Emphasis mine.  It’s a pretty ballsy attempt, I’ve got to say.  Here’s another question for those paying attention.  Can anyone tell me what began in 1965?  Anyone?  That’s right … Medicare.  Per Klein, we were actually spending less than Canada until the same year that Medicare and government intrusion into the health care market was made law.

Based on that extraordinarily flawed bit of reasoning which managed to factor out or ignore a major reason for the increase in US health care costs, Klein concludes:

If the United States had Canada’s health-care system, and Canada’s per capita health-care costs, we would have a much “larger” welfare state, but we wouldn’t have a deficit problem.

Really?  Seriously?  You really want to run with that one, Mr. Klein?

Perhaps a less rosy look at Canada might help temper that nonsense a bit. Here’s a Canadian economic analyst speaking about the Canadian healthcare system:

"There’s got to be some change to the status quo whether it happens in three years or 10 years," said Derek Burleton, senior economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

"We can’t continually see health spending growing above and beyond the growth rate in the economy because, at some point, it means crowding out of all the other government services.

"At some stage we’re going to hit a breaking point."

It means crowding out other government services or what? 

That’s right, deficits.

Well, except in Ezra Klein’s magic welfare state where one can happily spend whatever they want and there are no apparent consequences or … deficits.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Keystone XL pipeline: Energy security held hostage

One of the arguments you consistently hear from the left is we can’t become “energy independent”, or said another way, we can’t become independent from “foreign oil”.

Well, there’s foreign oil and then there’s “foreign oil”.  While it is true, at least at the moment, that we’re unable to fully develop and use our own national fossil fuel assets to make us independent, there is certainly a way we can pick and choose from whom we buy our oil to lessen the possibility that we’ll become hostage to unfriendly foreign powers.   Friendly neighbors who are close are the solution to our energy security.  But only if we recognize that fact and understand how strategically that lessens our energy vulnerability markedly.

Obviously two close neighbors, Mexico and Canada, fit that profile.  So it seems a no-brainer to exploit those relationships and do all that is possible to make sure it is the US that secures the bulk of what they’re willing to produce and offer on the world market, no?

No, apparently.

It seems there’s an expectation on the part of the left that President Obama and his administration will block the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport oil taken from Canada’s oil sands to the US.  A means of tying up secure oil from a safe, secure and friendly neighbor are in the air because of absurd environmental concerns.   And those protesting the pipeline fully expect Obama to back their demands.

Of course, unsaid, until now at least, is Keystone XL isn’t the only pipeline Canada will build, and it certainly isn’t going to wait on the US to make up its mind:

Considering geography, exporting oil from Canada to a non-American market doesn’t sound easy; Canada’s tar sands are close to the U.S. border, but not much else. So we asked John Baird — Canada’s new foreign minister, who was in Washington recently to speak with Ms. Clinton — which nations would buy oil that America decided not to take. His answer was quick and unequivocal: the Chinese. New pipeline infrastructure will transport oil between the tar sands and Canada’s west coast, from which tankers can ship it across the Pacific Ocean. And, even now, Chinese firms are buying stakes in Canadian tar sands.

Ron Liepert, energy minister of Alberta is crystal clear about which nation is most interested:

He noted China is poised for action, investing $15 billion in the province over the past 18 months. "There is a long-term plan to get oil to the East," he said.

That investment isn’t being made for grins.  It is being made by China to secure their energy future at the cost of ours.

As usual, when it comes to this administration, we dither about our energy future and security, while others act aggressively. Another reason to have them join the growing ranks of the unemployed in 2012.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Canadian court rules baby must die as it decides, not as the parents request

This is sure to revive talk of death panels.  And I’m afraid I simply don’t understand the reasoning here.  But it is a stark example of the state making decisions that should be left to the people involved – in a free country, that is.

Anyway, the story:

A Windsor, Ont. couple’s fight to bring their gravely ill baby home to die ended in bitter tears Thursday when a Superior Court judge dismissed their appeal to stop doctors from removing the infant’s breathing tube at the hospital.

The father and relatives of one-year-old Joseph Maraachli wept outside a London courthouse after an emotional Justice Helen Rady upheld the earlier decision of an independent provincial tribunal forcing the baby’s parents to comply with doctors’ orders.

With all of their legal avenues exhausted, the family will have to say goodbye to Joseph Monday morning — on Family Day — when his breathing tube will be removed.

Apparently the baby has a rare neurological disease which has put him in a “severe and deteriorating neurological condition that has left him in a persistent vegetative state, according to specialists in London, Ont., who’ve examined him. “

Bottom line, the child is dying. It is now to the point where the baby can’t swallow or breath on his own. The parents know and understand that. They know the child will die. They’re not asking the state to try and save their baby. Instead, what they are asking – what they have to ask, apparently – is permission of the state to take their child home and let the baby die among "friends and loved ones".

Pretty outrageous request, isn’t it?  And yet they don’t have the final say.

The parents had petitioned the regional medical board for a tracheotomy to be performed on the child to facilitate their ability to take him home with them.  That would have opened up a direct airway which would have made it possible to take the baby home and let it die there.

Oh, too much to ask apparently.  Remember, the baby is dying.   It’s going to die.   There’s no question about that –  everyone involved knows it will be dead in a matter of hours if not days.  The parents are not asking for heroic or extended (and expensive) treatment be continued.  Just a tracheotomy.

The reason given for the refusal?

But doctors refused to perform the procedure, citing serious risks of infection, pneumonia and other possible complications.

It’s a bit like refusing a lung cancer patient with stage 4 cancer a final cigarette because it might kill them.  The reason is absurd on its face. But apparently enough that a judge decided for the state and not the parents.  So instead of risking infection or pneumonia and letting the parents take their child home to die, the state insists on removing the breathing tube in the hospital and letting the child smother to death there.

Maraachli and Nader went before the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario, an independent body that deals with matters under the Health Care Consent Act, which sided with the doctors in late January and agreed that it was in Joseph’s best interest to have the breathing tube removed.

Don’t you love it when something called the “Consent and Capacity Board” has the final say on what is in the “best interest” of a child, rather than the parents?

Given the structure and effect of this monstrosity called ObamaCare, that is the probable end state  we’ll eventually see here – an insurance industry which will collapse and in answer to the “problem” which government created, a single-payer system will be implemented.  And you can bet that something along the line of the “Consent and Capacity Board” will eventually take all such decisions out of your hands and make them exclusively the decision of the state.

(HT: All American Blogger)

~McQ


Canada healthcare – the future of the US?

Guess what folks, Canada’s moon pony and unicorn “what’s wrong with you Americans, you’re so uncivilized to not have national health care” health care system is in serious financial trouble. And, unbelievably, for the very same reason critics of the recent US health care law said would inevitably happen here. I know, I know – just hard to believe, isn’t it?

Go figure.

The crux of the problem? Well lack of money, what else?

Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada’s provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system.

[...]

“There’s got to be some change to the status quo whether it happens in three years or 10 years,” said Derek Burleton, senior economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

“We can’t continually see health spending growing above and beyond the growth rate in the economy because, at some point, it means crowding out of all the other government services.

“At some stage we’re going to hit a breaking point.”

They’re kidding, right? Weren’t we told that once government got involved this stuff would be affordable and would go on forever?

Their first target, of course, is pharmaceutical companies. They want them to slash prices. But at some point, pharma is going to say it can’t anymore. Because pharma isn’t the problem. Central control of health care delivery is. It has no flexibility, or at least not to a level that it can adapt to changes in the market with any nimbleness. That means it continues to hemorrhage money. Health care spending rises at 6% a year by plan. But it is going to, as mentioned above, begin to crowd out all other government services unless the Canadian government gets a handle on it and does so fairly quickly. Anyone know what that means?

But that deal ends in 2013, and the federal government is unlikely to be as generous in future, especially for one-off projects.

“As Ottawa looks to repair its budget balance … one could see these one-time allocations to specific health projects might be curtailed,” said Mary Webb, senior economist at Scotia Capital.

My guess is more than “one-time allocations” might be curtailed. Consider Ontario:

Ontario says healthcare could eat up 70 percent of its budget in 12 years, if all these costs are left unchecked.

“Our objective is to preserve the quality healthcare system we have and indeed to enhance it. But there are difficult decisions ahead and we will continue to make them,” Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told Reuters.

That’s bureaucratise for “we’re going to have to ration this stuff and do it pretty darn radically” – unless, of course, Ontario would prefer to spend 70% of its budget on health care costs.

I doubt that’s the case.

Here again we have the end game (or at least the results of the game at this point headed to its inevitable end) of where we’re headed.

My favorite line in the story:

Scotia Capital’s Webb said one cost-saving idea may be to make patients aware of how much it costs each time they visit a healthcare professional. “(The public) will use the services more wisely if they know how much it’s costing,” she said.

“If it’s absolutely free with no information on the cost and the information of an alternative that would be have been more practical, then how can we expect the public to wisely use the service?”

No – she really said that. And that’s the type of person who first embraced the moon pony and unicorn promises that were made for the system.

The problem with all of this “reality” suddenly descending on the system? It is pretty apparent to anyone who has studied a welfare state (and the same place we’re now headed):

But change may come slowly. Universal healthcare is central to Canada’s national identity, and decisions are made as much on politics as economics.

“It’s an area that Canadians don’t want to see touched,” said TD’s Burleton. “Essentially it boils down the wishes of the population.

And so it goes, another chapter in the inevitable end of all such programs – over used, broke and headed toward strict rationing. And the moon pony crowd thinks that if they just tell Canadians how much it really costs when they see a doctor, they’ll do it less and save the system.

Heh, yeah, good luck with that.

~McQ


All you need to know about Canada’s health care system…

…is encapsulated in this short CBC story.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is set to undergo heart surgery this week in the United States.

CBC News confirmed Monday that Williams, 59, left the province earlier in the day and will have surgery later in the week.

The premier’s office provided few details, beyond confirming that he would have heart surgery and saying that it was not necessarily a routine procedure.

So, nobody can do it in St. Johns or Mt. Pearl?  OK, maybe not.  I mean, it’s Newfoundland, for Cripes sake!  But, still, no room at a Halifax or or Moncton hospital, eh?  Nobody qualified to perform the procedure in Quebec, Montreal, Ottowa or Toronto?

How is it that the Canadian health care system is just fine for all the little people, but when a provincial premier hears the thump of mortality in his chest, it’s off to Cedars-Sinai,  Sloan-Kettering, or Mayo?

‘S’funny how that works, huh?

But don’t worry.  When we get our free health care down here in the US, everything will be tiddly.


Government Run Health Care – “Anecdotal” or Indicators of a Systemic Problem?

A couple of quick examples of real world problems with government run health care. South Africa:

KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo has issued an ultimatum to striking doctors, calling on them to return to work on Friday or face the music.

Addressing the media in Durban on Friday, Dhlomo said notices had been sent to all hospitals calling on all striking doctors, dentists and pharmacists to resume their duties no later than 08:00.

The department was also preparing a court interdict to force the striking health professionals to end the strike, he said.

“We as the department of health are designated as an essential service provider and therefore find the action of these health professionals [is] disrupting service delivery and compromising patients’ lives,” said Dhlomo.

He said the department had been more than reasonable in dealing with the unprotected strike.

“This situation is untenable, we cannot continue to put the lives of our people in danger and the government will act,” he said.

Dhlomo said people had died due to the unavailability of doctors, although he was unable give the number of people who died as a result of the strike.

A recent example you’re probably more familiar with from Canada:

A critically ill premature baby is moved to a U.S hospital to get the treatment she couldn’t get in the system we’re told we should emulate. Cost-effective care? In Canada, as elsewhere, you get what you pay for.

Ava Isabella Stinson was born last Thursday at St. Joseph’s hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. Weighing only two pounds, she was born 13 weeks premature and needed some very special care. Unfortunately, there were no open neonatal intensive care beds for her at St. Joseph’s — or anywhere else in the entire province of Ontario, it seems.

Canada’s perfectly planned and cost-effective system had no room at the inn for Ava, who of necessity had to be sent across the border to a Buffalo, N.Y., hospital to suffer under our chaotic and costly system. She had no time to be put on a Canadian waiting list. She got the care she needed at an American hospital under a system President Obama has labeled “unsustainable.”

And this one:

In 2007, a Canadian woman gave birth to extremely rare identical quadruplets — Autumn, Brooke, Calissa and Dahlia Jepps. They were born in the United States to Canadian parents because there was again no space available at any Canadian neonatal care unit. All they had was a wing and a prayer.

The Jepps, a nurse and a respiratory technician flew from Calgary, a city of a million people, 325 miles to Benefit Hospital in Great Falls, Mont., a city of 56,000.

Great Falls was better equipped to handle their case than was Calgary? People like to dismiss these as “anecdotal”, but they continue to describe a system in which decisions have been made that end up endangering the lives of children. It is inevitable when the primary focus of “reform” is “lowering cost”.

Doctor’s strikes. Limited if not completely unavailable neo-natal care. The refusal of the system, based on cost concerns only, to provide certain care that places the lives of those on the margin in jeopardy.

Is that what we have to look forward too?

~McQ

[HT: Micaela S]