Free Markets, Free People

welfare


Irony: Boston bomber lived on “state benefits”

How convoluted has our world become?  How screwed up is this nation?  How Orwellian is everything these days?

Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism, the Herald has learned.

State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits. Russell Tsarnaev’s attorney has claimed Katherine — who had converted to Islam — was working up to 80 hours a week as a home health aide while Tsarnaev stayed at home.

In addition, both of Tsarnaev’s parents received benefits, and accused brother bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan were recipients through their parents when they were younger, according to the state.

The news raises questions over whether Tsarnaev financed his radicalization on taxpayer money.

Nice.

We paid for our own bombing.

~McQ


How Republicans will lead again

What will the Republican Party look like when it retakes the lead in governing?  I’d bet it will be a coalition that identifies more with what Alex Castellanos is laying out at NewRepublican.org.

Some of it is new messaging for old ideas. Castellanos rebrands spontaneous order and subsidiarity as “open,” “natural,” “organic,” and “bottom-up.”  He tags statism, command economies and federal control as “closed,” “artificial,” and “top-down.”  Those are elegant ways to tell Whole Foods shoppers and Silicon Valley what we’re about without assigning them F.A. Hayek or a history of the Soviets.

Castellanos also stresses the superiority of private compassion over state welfare, but instead of getting trapped by placing charity in a bidding war with the welfare state, or quibbling over the definition of charity, he casts the state welfare agencies as “machine-like” or “factory-like” and “archaic,” and more importantly labeling them as “social mercenaries” that allow Americans to “distance ourselves from our responsibilities as human beings,” which involve “person-to-person” compassion.

That leads into a much more substantive change: redirecting social conservative energy to where it can actually accomplish something for itself and for the party, namely local and fulfilling private action instead of trying to seize the top and push down, which outsources to politicians and bureaucrats the promotion of our values.

Several items on the list of 67 beliefs of New Republicans (67!) deal with this:

4. We believe in freedom nationally and values locally.

6. We believe that when we allow big-government to enforce our values, we legitimize it to enforce other values, as well.

7. We believe in natural and organic ways of addressing social challenges, not political and artificial controls directed by Washington.

12. We believe Washington should stay out of our wallets, and out of our bedrooms.

39. We believe we are Republican for Everybody, and Republicans Everywhere.  We believe our principles are an indispensable force for good, needed now to alleviate poverty, misery, dependency, and family breakdown destroying American lives in our inner cities.

Social conservatives lost the battle to use federal levers to enforce family and religious values, and damaged the good reputation of those values in the attempt, but those beliefs are still popular in many states, towns, and households.  They can still gather a majority coalition with libertarians and moderates to carve out the space to practice their values and their faith without interference from the state, with more confidence and optimism than Paul Weyrich had in the late ’90s; if they revert to using top-down power, those potential allies will be embarrassed of their association with social conservatives.  That’s coalition politics.

The New Republicans will avoid being associated with Big Everything, including Big Business. What saps the Republican Party’s entrepreneurial spirit and daring to cut government and promote free markets is its reliance on forces that want the state to protect them against change and competition; Milton Friedman repeatedly observed that this makes business community a frequent enemy of free enterprise.  But the GOP need not be anti-business, just suspicious to the extent of keeping anything Big at arm’s length.

Chris Sansenbach / Flickr

Finally, Castellanos does stress a couple of times that New Republicans believe in “campaign[ing] for our solutions in the most benighted parts of America, from the barrio to the inner city.”  I’ve heard noises to that effect from Republicans for years, but that will only succeed if it’s a major, sustained effort; if we have nothing to say about urban problems beyond school choice, and we don’t learn how to assertively persuade people that we are absolutely superior at addressing poverty, we’re cooked.  These things require practice, trials and errors, and personal experience with the poor and with urban life.  We have to be able to win at least sometimes, electing mayors and city councils in major metro areas, to show that our way of governing works for the growing portion of the country living in cities.

I said at the beginning that this is how Republicans will think when they regain the lead in governing, and I chose those words instead of “winning elections” because it’s possible the GOP can temporarily get over 50% here and there by other means, but it won’t have the initiative until it accepts the challenge to persuade all of America that its principles are relevant to them. The party could and should also make gains by modernizing the way it learns and reorganizes itself, how it encourages and channels activism, its campaign tactics and strategy, and more.  But those things go naturally with a mindset that’s reflexively entrepreneurial and not only open to change but so hungry for it that we’re unafraid to stop doing what isn’t working.


Senate Health Care Bill Will See 1/3 Of US On Welfare

That’s a truly stunning number.  90 million will be on either SCHIP or Medicaid (not Medicare … Medicaid) if the Senate Finance version of health care becomes ObamaCare according to the Heritage Foundation:

But of those 29 million with new insurance coverage, almost half (14 million), will get their coverage through the welfare programs Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). That is equivalent to adding every resident of Ohio and Nevada to the welfare rolls.

In other words, for half of those Americans who are being promised health reform, they are going to be stunned to find themselves in a welfare office applying for Medicaid. Under the current baselines for Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), there will be 76 million individuals served by these programs for at least some part of the year in 2019. If the SFC proposal becomes law, the number on Medicaid/SCHIP will top 90 million.

So why does the government want to push so many people into SCHIP and Medicaid asks Heritage? Because it is cheaper than providing them with competitive (and private) health care coverage (and access). Medicaid pays about 20 to 25% less than private insurance. As you might imagine then, it is hard to find doctors or hospitals which accept Medicaid patients. The obvious question then is how are those who do going to handle this huge influx of patients? The obvious answer is “not very well”. Shorter office visits and longer waits for appointments are inevitable.

And here’s another hidden truth:

The majority of individuals moved into Medicaid will be young and healthy. Keeping them on welfare rolls will shift even more costs to individuals and families buying private health insurance, as doctors and hospitals recoup their losses from Medicare/SCHIP by charging more to the privately insured. In effect, the congressional policy seems to be to expand dependency by discriminating against individuals based on their income.

Emphasis mine. With the addition, then, of a public option – the Democrats “single payer” Trojan Horse – companies would begin dumping employees coverage in favor of a cheaper “fine” for doing so. The rest is fairly inevitable. “Choice and competition” would then become redefined post-modern terms having nothing to do with their traditional meanings.

I listened to Sen. Judd Gregg yesterday talking about legislative tipping points. He said that at some point in the life of a bill, its passage become inevitable. He says some form of health care legislation is going to pass and Democrats will use whatever parliamentary tricks necessary to do so. That’s now beyond question. What its final form will be is the only question. That said, it’s worth remembering the words of Cheri Jacobus when considering the final form of the bill and what passage of this monstrosity will eventually mean to our freedoms and liberty:

A little bit of government control over health care requires even more government control over healthcare in order to make it all “work.”

Of course that’s “work” as defined by government which has no relevance whatsoever to cost, efficiency or quality. Especially when they are in full control.  The unfunded future liabilities of current government programs make that abundantly clear.  So given their track record you have to ask:  how did they suddenly become the experts in how to make this system better?  Counter-intuitive, isn’t it?

One-third of the country on medical welfare. It just staggers the mind. The rhetorical questions, being studiously ignored by the media and Congress, abound – who will pay for this? What choice will we really have? Where is the real competition? By what right do you make us participate in this (“right”, not power)? Why can’t we opt out? Etc.

I think we all know the answers.

~McQ