Free Markets, Free People

Government

Cupcake policing

I think George Will is on to something:

In physics, a unified field theory is an attempt to explain with a single hypothesis the behavior of several fields. Its political corollary is the Cupcake Postulate, which explains everything , from Missouri to Iraq, concerning Americans’ comprehensive withdrawal of confidence from government at all levels and all areas of activity.

Washington’s response to the menace of school bake sales illustrates progressivism’s ratchet: The federal government subsidizes school lunches, so it must control the lunches’ contents, which validates regulation of what it calls “competitive foods,” such as vending machine snacks. Hence the need to close the bake sale loophole, through which sugary cupcakes might sneak: Foods sold at fundraising bake sales must, with some exceptions, conform to federal standards.

What has this to do with police, from Ferguson, Mo., to your home town, toting marksman rifles, fighting knives, grenade launchers and other combat gear? Swollen government has a shriveled brain: By printing and borrowing money, government avoids thinking about its proper scope and actual competence. So it smears mine-resistant armored vehicles and other military marvels across 435 congressional districts because it can.

Examples?  Will provides plenty of them.

Here’s the point though:

A cupcake-policing government will find unending excuses for flexing its muscles as it minutely monitors our behavior in order to improve it …

“Improve” should be in scare quotes, because the deeper the medling, the more it “minutely monitors our behavior”, the less it improves it and the more it interferes with it.

But … that’s the state of being now in the US.

Nick Gillespie at Hit and Run agrees with Will but issues this warning:

He’s right that confidence in government is plummeting mostly because of the simultaneously stupid and overreaching actions of politicians, administrators, and bureaucrats at all levels. Recognizing such a reality may be the beginning of (libertarian) wisdom, but as I’ve written before, it also carries a very serious potential risk. Counterintuitively, distrust in government may lead to calls for more government.

And that’s one of the reasons we suffer Leviathan today.  Many of our “problems” in the past have had their roots in government interference or over-reach.  The real problem is we petition government for relief and government’s answer is always more government.

Here’s a clue: when you ask government to fix any problem it will always answer with more government, regulations, laws, whatever – nature of the beast.  Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to look to government for relief from all our problems. The end-state of that is always more government control and less citizen control.  And here we are.

But:

A major ray of hope—indeed, the beam of sunshine that’s warming up this libertarian moment—is really the ways in which people are creating workarounds that simply bypass government whenever possible. Taxi regulations screw consumers? Create Uber. Public-school educators are unresponsive? Create your own curriculum or even your own school. Can’t sell unpasteurized milk products? Create a buyers club. Major parties won’t listen? Create the Tea Party. And on and on.

As Matt Welch and I discussed at length in The Declaration of Independents, workarounds are a great thing and easier to pull off than ever, but they have serious limitations (witness foreign policy, Ferguson, the drug war, and so much more). It’s well past time that we start insisting on a limited, trustworthy government that is actually competent and restrained at the few things that it should be doing. That will not only reduce the desire for more government, it will free up even more time and resources for the free-range experiments in living that will actually make the world better, more interesting, and more prosperous.

Btw, I disagree this is necessarily a “libertarian moment” (although like the “Tea Party”, I see the liberals loading up the rhetorical guns to shoot down anything that might take flight suggesting it).  However, what Gillespie talks about above is where this sentiment that has grown tremendously over the past 6 years (surprise, huh?) needs to be herded.  Whether that’s possible or not will tell us all how “libertarian” the moment has been.

Until then, enjoy your cupcakes.

~McQ

Delusional

How else to describe this president when he makes remarks like this:

President Barack Obama claimed Monday night during a Democratic Party fundraising dinner that the United States is ‘stronger’ than it was when he assumed office in January 2009.

His statement, though, appears to be at odds with key economic indicators, America’s sliding reputation abroad, and the American public’s estimation of the direction the country has taken under the Obama administration.

‘In all sorts of ways,’ Obama told Democratic partisans who paid between $15,000 to $32,400 to hear him speak, ‘we are not just stronger than when we – where we were when I first came into office.’

‘It’s fair to say that America has the best cards when you look at other countries around the world.  There’s no other country you’d rather be than the United States.’

‘Nobody can compete with us when we’re making the right decisions,’ he said.

The unspoken implication here is since we’re “stronger”, he’s made all the “right decisions”.  Of  course that absurd implication can be confronted factually at all sorts of levels.

Take the economy:

Grove City College economics professor Tracy Miller wrote Monday in an op-ed for The Daily Caller that ‘[o]ver the first five years of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. economy grew more slowly than during any five-year period since just after the end of World War II, averaging less than 1.3 percent per year.’

Unemployment:

The percentage of working-age Americans who are part of the U.S. workforce has reached the lowest level since 1978, with one out of every three staying on the sidelines and not working.

Debt:

And the federal government’s debts have ballooned by $7 trillion since Obama took office, a sum larger than the accumulated U.S. debts between 1776 and the end of the Clinton administration.

Consumer confidence is at -17.  That’s right, minus seventeen according to Gallup’s recent Economic Confidence Index.

Great success.

You don’t even have to cite the debacle his lack of foreign policy has wrought (or his lack of leadership on the illegal immigration flood) to make the point that he’s either lying through his teeth or he’s delusional.  He seems be reading a script from spin doctors and seems to be nothing but a propaganda mouthpiece now. An empty suit.  The “face.”  He doesn’t seem to even care.  Most of the recent optics (vacation after vacation while the world is in crisis) are simply not what anyone who cared would do if in a leadership position.   But he seems to think he’s entitled and we peasants should just suck it up and cope.  “Imperial presidency” doesn’t even begin to describe this crew.

Credibility?  Not much:

By a 20-point margin, they believe the nation is weaker under Obama’s leadership, according to a Fox News poll released in June. Just 35 per cent told pollsters they agreed with what Obama said Monday night.

The “Monday night” refers to the bucket of slop above that he served up to those true believers paying 32K for dinner.

And that has led to this from a CNN poll:

The poll also indicates that the public’s trust in government is at an all-time low.

Frankly, you won’t find me lamenting this particularly, but it is an illustration as to how poorly this administration had done its job (Remember, one of Obama’s stated goals was to increase trust in government).  Gallup piles on with this:

Many more Americans now mention a non-economic issue — such as dissatisfaction with government, immigration, or ethical and moral decline — than an economic one as the top problem.

This presidency has been a disaster.  And it continues, without seeming end, to make all the wrong decisions almost without exception.  The fact that the public seems to finally be waking up to it tells me a lot about how this presidency and administration have benefitted from a press reluctant to lay it all out as it happened.  The problem the press faces now is it has become so bad that their credibility (such that it is) is at risk if they continue to ignore and/or attempt to explain away what has become obvious to almost everyone.  That and the “Bush is to blame” blanket excuse has expired for all but the sycophants (although Obama again tried to deploy it this week when denying responsibility for the problems in Iraq).

This has been an awful era for this country.  Almost everything this president promised has been found to be either nonsense, demonstrably false or a lie.  Instead of the “most transparent” administration in history, it has become the most opaque.  We see indications of criminal conduct by apparatchiks every day (really, 20 people under suspicion all had their emails destroyed?  Really?).  We see a “Justice” department that ignores the law and/or selectively enforces it depending on whether the group in question is a favored one or not (New Black Panthers and video of voter intimidation?  Nah.  Vote ID laws?  You bet.). We see executive department bureaucrats assuming powers and making rules that are beyond their scope (just about everything the EPA has done).  And, in fact, we see an administration that has mostly ignored the Constitution and the limits on power it imposes on the executive.

Now we’re engaged in redefining what “stronger” means.  Apparently, in Obama Newspeak, stronger is really “weaker and poorer”.  If that’s what he was striving to accomplish, then he can claim to have been remarkably successful in making us “stronger”.

~McQ

Why aren’t tampons free?

Seriously, that’s the question some whackadoo feminist columnist in the UK is asking (it makes you wonder if the paper that published it is a serious news source).

Her “reasoning?”

But this is less an issue of costliness than it is of principle: menstrual care is health care, and should be treated as such.

She wouldn’t know true principle if it throat punched her. However, what is clear is when you allow yahoos to redefine “health care” and get government to take control of it, well then everything should be ‘free’.
Her authority?  Not to worry, feminists have declared a few things to be “true”, and that make this a no-argument, slam-dunk:

Sanitary products are vital for the health, well-being and full participation of women and girls across the globe. The United Nations and Human Rights Watch, for example, have both linked menstrual hygiene to human rights.

Well there you go. I’m not sure where the human right not to be coerced by government into subsidizing another’s wants went, but apparently that’s a real right that is to be forever ignored.

If it is “health care” then it is a “right”.  And if it is a “right” then it should be “free”.  And if it is “free”, someone else should pay for it  – or so the “reasoning” goes. /sarc

Of course the fact that any such product has to be produced at a cost, transported at a cost and distributed at a cost that someone has to pay is just lost on these sorts of folks.  It doesn’t register.

As far as they’re concerned tampons come from magic tampon trees and when they need them, well, they’re just there.  And because they’re just there, they should be free!  Don’t you get that, you neanderthal?

Frankly I like this answer from a commenter to the article

Why aren’t tampons free?

Why isn’t soap free or wet wipes or shampoo?

If your argument is that sanitation should be provided for all cheaply then fine [Ed. sorry, but it already is].

But it isn’t. Your argument is that its all a plot to make women pay for stuff they need. At the end of the day its not free because in the real world you have to pay for stuff. Your right to a hygienic lady area is no more compelling than mine to a clean backside or clean hands. You are once more guilty of making women victim’s of their vaginas.

The commenter is right – the unspoken part of this attempt to fleece others is supposed victimhood. Read the article – it reeks with it.

In reality this is just the inevitable  extension of the Sandra Fluke argument that all women are entitled to free contraception because it is a “right” or something.

Where I come from “rights” aren’t something others pay for with either time, labor, material or money.

But hey, if you can redefine “health care” you can certainly redefine “rights”, no?

~McQ

Trying to change the argument

The New Republic publishes an article saying, in essence, “see, the ObamaCare increases are nothing to really get excited about“.  And to emphasize the point, they issue this Price-Waterhouse map (the reason they use it is as an appeal to authority):

If you look at it, you’d likely conclude that they were mostly right … where’s the problem?  Only Indiana seems to have a real problem and its increases are only around 15%.

And, you know, if Price-Waterhouse says it, it must be true.

Researching it beyond that, well, that would be journalism:

INDIANA: 2015 premiums increases ‘as high as … 46-percent’ “Initial 2015 premiums filed for the Obamacare exchanges in Indiana ranged from as high as a 46-percent hike to as low as a 9-percent cut.” (Indianapolis Business Journal, 5/19/14)

MARYLAND: 2015 premiums could increase up to 30% “Maryland’s dominant insurance company, CareFirst, is proposing hefty premium increases of 23 to 30 percent for consumers buying individual plans next year under the federal health-care law, according to filings released Friday.” (The Washington Post, 6/6/14)

WASHINGTON: 2015 premiums could increase ‘up to 26%’ “If approved, rate increases for 2015 individual health plans proposed by 12 insurance companies may affect most policyholders… [up] to an increase of 26 percent…” (The Seattle Times, 5/13/14)

ARIZONA: 2015 premium increases up to 25.5 percent “New filings trickling into the Arizona Department of Insurance show at least two health insurers plan to increase rates more than 10 percent. Cigna Wants To Increase Rates An Average Of 14.4 Percent And Humana, 25.5 Percent.” (The Arizona Republic, 6/2/14)

LOUISIANA: ‘Double-digit increases’ up to 24% possible “Some Louisiana private health insurers filed for double-digit percentage increases in 2015 for policies sold under the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange, according to filings this week with the Louisiana Department of Insurance.” (New Orleans Times Picayune, 7/15/14)

·         “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, the state’s largest provider, is proposing rate increases of between 18.3 percent and 19.7 percent for policyholders in its Blue Saver, Blue Max and its Multi-State individual health plans. The plans cover 52,638 people. … The 4,947 people who signed up with Human Louisiana facea hike of 15.7 percent, while the 966 insured residents with Time Insurance Company face a hike of 24 percent, according to the filings made public this week.”(New Orleans Times Picayune, 7/15/14)

TENNESSEE: 2015 Premiums Could Increase up to 21.7% “BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee — the state’s dominant health insurance provider — is asking to raise rates by an average of 19 percent for its exchange plans in 2015, according to documents filed with the state of Tennessee. …the consumer will experience a rate increase between 6.1 percent and 21.7 percent, depending on the product he or she has bought.” (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 7/17/14)

·         “Meanwhile, Cigna is requesting an average rate increase of 7.5 percent in 2015, while Kentucky-based Humana would like to boost marketplace rates by an average of 14.4 percent.” (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 7/17/14)

NEW YORK: 2015 premiums could increase up to 19.7% “Insurance firms participating in New York’s ObamaCare health exchange are seeking double-digit hikes for patient medical premiums in 2015, new figures reviewed by The Post reveal. The average hike sought by insurers for individual plans is 12 percent—but a number of firms serving large numbers of patients want to boost individual premiums by nearly 20 percent. Leading the charge is Excellus Health Plan, which is seeking to sock more than 24,000 customers with a 19.7 percent hike.” (New York Post, 7/3/14)

VERMONT: 2015 premiums could increase up to 18.3% “The two companies that sell policies on the state’s online health insurance marketplace — Vermont Health Connect — have filed requests with state regulators for big rate increases for 2015. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont has asked for an average increase for its plans of 9.8 percent. … the increases would have averaged 3.3 percent if not for federal and state mandates. … MVP Health Care proposed an even bigger rate increase — an average 15.4 percent, with a range starting at 10.7 percent and rising to 18.3 percent.” (Burlington Free Press, 6/3/14)

MICHIGAN: 2015 premium increases up to 18 percent “Most people buying their own health insurance in Michigan could see near double-digit premium increases next year. State insurance regulators said Wednesday that dominant insurers Blue Care Network and Blue Cross Blue Shield want to raise rates by an average of 9.3 percent or 9.7 percent in 2015. … Humana is the insurer with the third most customers in Michigan’s individual market and seeks an average 18 percent rate increase affecting 16,600 customers.” (The Associated Press, 6/26/14)

VIRGINIA: 2015 premiums could increase up to 14.9% “…the Anthem HealthKeepers Inc. plan offered by a unit of WellPoint Inc. said it would raise premiums by an average of 8.5% across its individual plans in Virginia, which cover about 110,000 people and are sold on the online insurance exchange set up by the health law, as well as directly to consumers. … The Virginia filings show other health plans proposing rate increases ranging from 3.3% for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., with around 10,000 members in the state, to 14.9% for CareFirst BlueChoice Inc., which said it had about 32,000 members.” (The Wall Street Journal, 5/11/14)

IOWA: 2015 premium increases up to 14.5 percent “About a quarter of a million Iowans would see their insurance rates rise next year should the state approve a request from Iowa’s dominant health insurer. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced Friday that it is seeking to raise premium rates for 253,000 policyholders in Iowa. Those rate increases would affect individual policyholders and small businesses. Most — 92 percent — of the proposed rate increases would be less than 5.9 percent, according to numbers provided by Wellmark. … For the remaining 7.5 percent of policyholders — those who have post-Affordable Care Act plans for individuals under 65 — Wellmark is asking for a rate increase between 11.9 percent and 14.5 percent.” (Des Moines Register, 6/20/14)

OHIO: “Premiums would increase 13 percent next year for Ohioans who buy health coverage through the federally run insurance exchange, the Ohio Department of Insurance said yesterday.” (The Columbus Dispatch, 5/30/14)

OREGON: 2015 premiums could increase up to 12.5% “Moda Health captured more than 40 percent of the state’s exchange enrollees this year, with about 95,000 people covered under its plans. The company is proposing to increase prices by an average of 12.5 percent. Only one other carrier proposed a double-digit price increase.” (The Hill, 6/11/14)

RHODE ISLAND: 2015 premium increases ‘averaging 12 percent’ Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is proposing 2015 premium increases averaging 12 percent for individuals and families, and 8 percent for small groups.” (Providence Journal, 5/19/14)

DELAWARE: 2015 premiums could increase 5% “Delawareans could face higher insurance costs under the Affordable Care Act next year under new rate requests from insurers. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is seeking average premium increases of 5 percent for individuals who bought insurance through Delaware’s exchange.”(The Associated Press, 7/15/14)

And Florida?

Premiums would rise an average 13.2 percent for Floridians, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. But actual increases would vary greatly on families’ size, financial circumstances, county of residence and the types of plans they select.

All that said, that’s not the argument is it?  Wasn’t the promise that ObamaCare would save families an average of $2,500 a  year?

That’s what I remember.

But, you know, it’s a great success.

~McQ

When bureaucracies run health care

When they do we see scandals like the VA.  What the left will tell you is that’s an exception.  That the government can run health care vastly better than the private sector because it knows how to control costs.

For example:

NHS doctors are prematurely ending the lives of thousands of elderly hospital patients because they are difficult to manage or to free up beds, a senior consultant claimed yesterday.

Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly.

He claimed there was often a lack of clear evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway, a method of looking after terminally ill patients that is used in hospitals across the country.

It is designed to come into force when doctors believe it is impossible for a patient to recover and death is imminent.

There are around 450,000 deaths in Britain each year of people who are in hospital or under NHS care. Around 29 per cent – 130,000 – are of patients who were on the LCP.

Need beds?  LCP an oldie.  Problem solved.  Because with the bureaucracy, you’re not an individual or a patient, you are literally a number to be managed in a way that best benefits the bureaucracy.

Professor Pullicino claimed that far too often elderly patients who could live longer are placed on the LCP and it had now become an ‘assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway’.

He cited ‘pressure on beds and difficulty with nursing confused or difficult-to-manage elderly patients’ as factors.

Now it’s not like we don’t have examples that confirm this – this is one, the other is in our own backyard.

Death panels?  Don’t need ‘em.  Doctors – you know, the guys who swear to the Hippocratic oath – are empowered by the bureaucracy to arbitrarily assign you to the death pathway. Or, in the case of the VA, simply ignore you by leaving you on a wait list until you die.  Either way, a smart person would quickly see where the movement here in this country is going.  A bigger version of the NHS.

Just watch.

~McQ

Lawlessness only begets more lawlessness

I imagine there are those out there who will write this off as the usual political squabble, but there’s a larger point here, and if you look closely you’ll see it:

Top White House political adviser David Simas refused again Friday to honor a congressional subpoena, prompting Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to vote to rebuke the administration.

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 19-14 to reject the White House’s claim that Simas has absolute immunity from a subpoena from Congress.

Republicans said they were standing up for the principle that no one is above the law, and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa quoted a long list of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who have backed Congress’ right to subpoena top administration officials.

Democrats, led by ranking member Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, said they strongly disagree with the White House’s claim of absolute immunity but also strongly disagree with Issa’s push to press the issue, warning it could hurt the institution if they take a case to court.

The White House informed Issa at 7:30 a.m. Friday that Simas would not appear, Issa said. The absence was “not excused,” the California Republican added.

White House Counsel W. Neil Eggleston asked Issa to withdraw the subpoena to discuss his late Thursday offer for Simas to give a deposition instead of subpoenaed testimony.

Issa refused to do so.

“We have an absolute right and obligation” to investigate the new White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, he said.

It is about this presidency’s seeming desire to be unlawful.  Screw Congress, screw the law, screw oversight, we (the Executive branch) get to decide what is or isn’t lawful.  And we’ve decided that we have full immunity.

Nice.  And this isn’t even some big agency or the like.  It’s a 4 person office.  It’s about the Constitution and the law:

“This was intended to be a short, and I hope it will be, oversight of a relatively small but in the past controversial office, consistent with our requirement to do oversight even without a predicate of wrongdoing,” he said.

Issa said oversight of the previously troubled political office will help American people be more comfortable and ensure taxpayer dollars are being used properly.

“This is not alleging a scandal at any level,” Issa said of the subpoena. But oversight is still legitimate, he said. ”We are accusing neither the president nor anyone in this four-person office of any wrongdoing.”

Nope … this is just their normal duties.  Oversight.  What a concept.  Make sure that executive agency entities are following the law, spending (or not spending) taxpayer’s money as prescribed by law, etc.

And, as I mentioned yesterday, perception is going to be what?  That they’ve got something to hide.  The optics on this sort of thing are horrible – but they either don’t seem to understand or they don’t care.

There’s no good reason at work here for this president, there’s just arrogance and defiance.  Even the Democrats won’t buy into the total immunity nonsense.

So we sit and watch as this administration continues to thumb its nose at the lawful functions of government and obeying the law.

But why should they?  They haven’t in the past and nothing has happened.  Why should they worry now?

~McQ

The (potential) unravelling of ObamaCare

In the DC Circuit this week:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit delivered a huge blow to Obamacare this morning, ruling that the insurance subsidies granted through the federally run health exchange, which covered 36 states for the first open enrollment period, are not allowed by the law.

The highly anticipated opinion in the case of Jacqueline Halbig v. Sylvia Mathews Burwell reversed a lower court ruling finding that federally run exchanges did have the authority to disburse subsidies.

Today’s ruling vacates the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulation allowing the federal exchanges to give subsidies. The large majority of individuals, about 86 percent, in the federal exchange system received subsidies, and in those cases the subsidies covered about 76 percent of the premium on average.

The essence of the court’s ruling is that, according to the law, those subsidies are illegal. They were always illegal, and the administration never had the authority to offer them. (According to an administration official, however, the subsidies will continue to flow throughout the appeals process.)

Don’t get to excited about this yet.  It was a 3 judge panel. And it will likely go to the Supreme Court. Finally, in a different Circuit (4th) a ruling says the subsidies are legal:

A different circuit court ruled today that subsidies offered through federally run exchanges are authorized on the law. This creates a circuit court split, which increases, but does not guarantee, the chances of an eventual hearing by the Supreme Court. It is also possible, and arguably even more likely, that the circuit split will be dealt with via en banc review.

Bottom line: a heavy shot across the bow of the sinking ship ObamaCare.  If the DC Circuit finding survives the review and an appeal to the Supreme Court, then foundering ship will take the next shot below the water line.  As for the law, it’s not going to get changed anytime soon with a Republican House.

As for the law, the DC Court said it was pretty clear to them:

“We conclude that appellants have the better of the argument: a federal Exchange is not an ‘Exchange established by the State,’ and [the relevant section of the law] does not authorize the IRS to provide tax credits for insurance purchased on federal Exchanges,” the decision says.

The law “plainly makes subsidies available only on Exchanges established by states,” the ruling says. “And in the absence of any contrary indications, that text is conclusive evidence of Congress’s intent. To hold otherwise would be to say that enacted legislation, on its own, does not command our respect—an utterly untenable proposition.”

Plain law, literally interpreted and applied.  Certainly not what we’re used too.  So let’s see how convoluted this gets moving up the line.  My guess is it will be unrecognizable after the lawyers begin to redefine terms and words and make their arguments.  By the end of it, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to learn that “federal exchanges” now means whatever the IRS wants it to mean.  But clearly, the way to kill this monstrosity is to starve it.  And the way you starve it is to defund it … even if you have to do it bit by bit.

~McQ

“Economic patriotism” equals “stay here and pay punitive taxes to cover our ruinous spending habit”

“Economic patriotism” is the new meme that Democrats are throwing around to demonize companies that try to avoid taxes here in the US, i.e. you’re not a patriotic company if you attempt to avoid taxes the Dems think you should be paying.  Kevin Williamson covers it:

Jack Lew, late of Citigroup and currently of the Obama administration, has issued a call for “economic patriotism.” This phrase, which is without meaningful intellectual content, is popular in Democratic circles these days. Ted Strickland, the clownish xenophobe and nearly lifelong suckler upon all available taxpayer teats who once served as governor of Ohio, famously denounced Mitt Romney as a man lacking “economic patriotism” during the 2012 Democratic convention. President Barack Obama has used the phrase. It’s not that I do not appreciate lectures on “economic patriotism” from feckless former executives of dodgy Wall Street enterprises, guys who get rich monetizing their political celebrity, and second-rate ward-heelers from third-rate states; it’s just that nobody ever has been able to explain to me what the term is intended to mean.

The proximate cause of Mr. Lew’s distress is the fact that many U.S. firms either are up and leaving the country entirely or are acquiring foreign competitors in order to reorganize themselves as companies legally domiciled in friendly tax jurisdictions.

Now we’re not talking about 3rd world countries here … just countries that are much friendlier to business and have a lower tax rate.  For instance:

U.S. pharmaceutical firms in particular have been in a rush to acquire partners in order to escape punitive U.S. corporate taxes for the relatively hospitable climates of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Walgreen’s, a venerable firm that, like the lamentable political career of Barack Obama, has its origins in Chicago, is considering abandoning its hometown of 113 years for Switzerland. Eaton, a Cleveland-based manufacturer of electronic components, moved to Ireland. The list goes on.

Note that in spite of the would-be class warriors’ “race to the bottom” rhetoric, these firms are not moving to relatively low-wage countries such as China or India. Switzerland is not a Third World hellhole — especially if your immediate point of comparison is murderlicious Chicago, which endures more homicides in a typical July than gun-loving Switzerland sees in a typical year. The Netherlands is not Haiti, and Ireland is not Bangladesh.

Got an ironic chuckle out of his point about Chicago. Maybe some might consider they’re moving out of a 3rd world country if they’re Chicago (or Detroit) based.

Anyway, all of these places have one thing in common – lower taxes, less regulation and a friendlier business climate than exists in the US.  What they face here is the reason they’re becoming “unpatriotic”.  It is more than just taxes:

Mr. Lew is correct in his assertion that relative tax rates are a main driver in the desire of firms to relocate, though it is not the only driver — arbitrary and unpredictable regulation, a lousy tort environment, and unstable public finances surely play a role as well. The United States has the highest statutory corporate-income-tax rate in the developed world, and though effective rates are typically lower than the nominal rate, that is more of a bug than a feature: Our corporate-income-tax regime is riddled with handouts and political favoritism. Crony capitalism is not an inspiring condition for firms looking to make long-term investments.

The point of Democrats and their use of “economic patriotism”, of course, is to demonize and attempt to shame companies that seek relief from the business crippling effects of this government.  If the company doesn’t stay to be bled dry by the Dems to finance their utopian and big government schemes, well, they’re just “unpatriotic”.

Williamson summarizes:

“Economic patriotism” and its kissing cousin, economic nationalism, are ideas with a fairly stinky history, having been a mainstay of fascist rhetoric during the heyday of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite “admirable Italian gentleman.” My colleague Jonah Goldberg has labored mightily in the task of illustrating the similarities between old-school fascist thinking and modern progressive thinking on matters political and social, but it is on economic questions that contemporary Democrats and vintage fascists are remarkably alike. In fact, their approaches are for all intents and purposes identical: As most economic historians agree, neither the Italian fascists nor the German national-socialists nor any similar movement of great significance had anything that could be described as a coherent economic philosophy. The Italian fascists put forward a number of different and incompatible economic theories during their reign, and the Third Reich, under the influence of Adolf Hitler’s heroic conception of history, mostly subordinated economic questions as such to purportedly grander concerns involving destiny and other abstractions.

Which is to say, what the economic nationalism of Benito Mussolini most has in common with the prattling and blockheaded talk of “economic patriotism” coming out of the mealy mouths of 21st-century Democrats is the habit of subordinating everything to immediate political concerns. In this context, “patriotism” doesn’t mean doing what’s best for your country — it means doing what is best for the Obama administration and its congressional allies.“Economic patriotism” and its kissing cousin, economic nationalism, are ideas with a fairly stinky history, having been a mainstay of fascist rhetoric during the heyday of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite “admirable Italian gentleman.” My colleague Jonah Goldberg has labored mightily in the task of illustrating the similarities between old-school fascist thinking and modern progressive thinking on matters political and social, but it is on economic questions that contemporary Democrats and vintage fascists are remarkably alike. In fact, their approaches are for all intents and purposes identical: As most economic historians agree, neither the Italian fascists nor the German national-socialists nor any similar movement of great significance had anything that could be described as a coherent economic philosophy. The Italian fascists put forward a number of different and incompatible economic theories during their reign, and the Third Reich, under the influence of Adolf Hitler’s heroic conception of history, mostly subordinated economic questions as such to purportedly grander concerns involving destiny and other abstractions.

Which is to say, what the economic nationalism of Benito Mussolini most has in common with the prattling and blockheaded talk of “economic patriotism” coming out of the mealy mouths of 21st-century Democrats is the habit of subordinating everything to immediate political concerns. In this context, “patriotism” doesn’t mean doing what’s best for your country — it means doing what is best for the Obama administration and its congressional allies.

Another adventure in short-term political gain trumping a coherent economic policy that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, etc.  Nothing new in that, but I think the summary helps focus it’s purpose. And it has nothing to do with “patriotism” or “economics”.

~McQ

CBO budget forecast? Debt, debt and more debt

CBO has extrapolated the budget for the government out to 2039 and using current law paint a picture of the same old crap with a continuing rise in public debt:

Note that the spending an revenue lines are essentially as close as they’re going to get this year, with spending outpacing revenue and widening the gap from now on.

Oh, and this little goodie:

  • Federal spending for Social Security and the government’s major health care programs—Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and subsidies for health insurance purchased through the exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act—would rise sharply, to a total of 14 percent of GDP by 2039, twice the 7 percent average seen over the past 40 years. That boost in spending is expected to occur because of the aging of the population, growth in per capita spending on health care, and an expansion of federal health care programs.

So much for “and we’ll save every family $2,500 a year on their health care insurance”.   Costs aren’t going anywhere but up.  Of course, you can count on the propagandists to now claim they’ll be going up slower than had they let the market work.  As with most of the “facts” these yahoos throw around, it will be a baseless claim meant to excuse their failure.

And as the debt piles up even more, so does the amount of money it takes to pay the interest:

  • The government’s net interest payments would grow to 4½ percent of GDP by 2039, compared with an average of 2 percent over the past four decades. Net interest payments would be larger than that average mainly because federal debt would be much larger.

No kidding.  Which means:

  • In contrast, total spending on everything other than Social Security, the major health care programs, and net interest payments would decline to 7 percent of GDP by 2039—well below the 11 percent average of the past 40 years and a smaller share of the economy than at any time since the late 1930s.

Can anyone yet guess the solution to this problem?  That’s right, is some form or another, a tax increase.  One of the reasons a carbon tax is so popular among some politicians is it taxes thin air and creates a revenue stream out of it.

This is the continuing situation the incompetents who run this government (and yes that includes both parties) have managed to produce for this once proud nation.  A debtor nation which is slowly dying under the weight of its own debt, brought to us by spendthrift politicians who will all deny they’re the problem.

But that single picture tells a different story doesn’t it?

Here’s our future:

  • The large amount of federal borrowing would draw money away from private investment in productive capital in the long term, because the portion of people’s savings used to buy government securities would not be available to finance private investment. The result would be a smaller stock of capital and lower output and income than would otherwise be the case, all else being equal. (Despite those reductions, the continued growth of productivity would make output and income per person, adjusted for inflation, higher in the future than they are now.)
  • Federal spending on interest payments would rise, thus requiring higher taxes, lower spending for benefits and services, or both to achieve any chosen targets for budget deficits and debt.
  • The large amount of debt would restrict policymakers’ ability to use tax and spending policies to respond to unexpected challenges, such as economic downturns or financial crises. As a result, those challenges would tend to have larger negative effects on the economy and on people’s well-being than they would otherwise. The large amount of debt could also compromise national security by constraining defense spending in times of international crisis or by limiting the country’s ability to prepare for such a crisis.

Brilliant!

~McQ

DOJ to investigate “racist” Nebraska parade float

While the DOJ won’t even look into voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia in 2008, it certainly will move itself to check out what Nebraska Democrats claim is the “worst shows of racism and disrespect for the office of the presidency that Nebraska has ever seen.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has sent a member of its Community Relations Service team to investigate a Nebraska parade float that criticized President Obama.

Here’s a description of the float:

A Fourth of July parade float featured at the annual Independence Day parade in Norfolk sparked criticism when it depicted a zombie-like figure resembling Mr. Obama standing outside an outhouse, which was labeled the “Obama Presidential Library.”

It was a “zombie-like figure” of Obama?  Now, as far as I know, zombies aren’t race specific. Anyone of any race can be a “zombie”, no?  However, they are defined as an “animated corpse”. That a pretty fair description of the man who now holds the office of the Presidency.  And my statement, I guess, is somehow a horrible show of disrespect for the office of the presidency.

Uh, no. No it’s not.

It is certainly a bit of disrespect for the man holding the office.  And I have to wonder where Nebraska Democrats were when George W Bush was in office, if this is the “worst” they’ve ever seen.  Frankly, I think it is exceedingly mild.

And, the outhouse?  Precisely where I’d say this presidency belongs.  The man in the White House is awful.  He’s the worst president I’ve seen during my lifetime and I thought Jimmy Carter was hard to beat.

So an animated corpse outside an outhouse is a pretty good bit of political satire if you ask me.

But apparently our DOJ now tries intimidate those exercising their right to free speech (you know, the 1st Amendment?  The one that prohibits government from trying to stifle it?).  Not that the DOJ or this administration is in anyway worried about allowing the Constitution or Bill of Rights to get in their way of a political vendetta.

~McQ