Free Markets, Free People

Michael Wade

Reid’s Secret Plan

You gotta love the way Dingy Harry builds faith in his mission:

We have a broad agreement. Now I know that people are going to ask to be given every detail of this.

[…]

We have had a rule here for 40 years or however long we have been in existence, if you start talking about the plan and start shipping it around, it will be made public. And we want not that to be the case because we want to know the score before we start giving all the details even to our own members.

So you are not going to get answers to those questions.

[…]

As I have indicated, we can’t disclose the details of what we have done, but believe me we have got something that is good and that I think is very, for us, it moves this bill way down the road.

That’s right, just “believe” him and his Democrat buddies. You’re gonna love it!

Fortunately, enough of the super-secret, whats-good-fer’ya plan has leaked out that some cogent analysis is possible. Cato’s Michael Tanner, for example, observed that the proposed legislation would basically replicate the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP), through which many government workers and Members of Congress get coverage, as well expand MediCare (and possibly MediCaid) to people as young as 55. He also notes several problems with this proposal:

A few reasons to believe this is yet another truly bad idea:

1. In choosing the FEHBP for a model, Democrats have actually chosen an insurance plan whose costs are rising faster than average. FEHBP premiums are expected to rise 7.9 percent this year and 8.8 percent in 2010. By comparison, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that on average, premiums will increase by 5.5 to 6.2 percent annually over the next few years. In fact, FEHBP premiums are rising so fast that nearly 100,000 federal employees have opted out of the program.
2. FEHBP members are also finding their choices cut back. Next year, 32 insurance plans will either drop out of the program or reduce their participation. Some 61,000 workers will lose their current coverage.
3. But former OPM director Linda Springer doubts that the agency has the “capacity, the staff, or the mission,” to be able to manage the new program. Taking on management of the new program could overburden OPM. “Ultimate, it would break the system.”
4. Medicare is currently $50-100 trillion in debt, depending on which accounting measure you use. Allowing younger workers to join the program is the equivalent of crowding a few more passengers onto the Titanic.
5. At the same time, Medicare under reimburses physicians, especially in rural areas. Expanding Medicare enrollment will both threaten the continued viability of rural hospitals and other providers, and also result in increased cost-shifting, driving up premiums for private insurance.
6. Medicaid is equally a budget-buster. The program now costs more than $330 billion per year, a cost that grew at a rate of roughly 10.7 percent annually. The program spends money by the bushel, yet under-reimburses providers even worse than Medicare.
7. Ultimately this so-called compromise would expand government health care programs and further squeeze private insurance, resulting in increased costs, result in higher insurance premiums, and provide a lower-quality of care.

Let’s be clear. The point of the health-care takeover was never to control costs, but to control the market. Obama and the Democrats are certain that they can transfer the money involved in every health care transaction from the provider/insurer side of the equation to the recipient side. In other words, they simply want to rearrange the entire transaction in a way that seems “fair” to the favored constituency. As long is doesn’t cost those people any more (for awhile at least) then actual costs don’t really matter.

That’s why they draft loss ratio provisions mandating insurers to pay out 85% of the premiums received in benefit claims (i.e. the companies can only “make” 15% over top of premium revenues, which percentage Congress assumes is mostly profit, and not going to overhead costs; most states set the loss ratio somewhere between 65% and 75%). And that’s also why Reid and his band of merry cohorts see fit to hitch the health care wagon to programs that are already money-losing. Accordingly, when the primary goal is simply control, actual costs become irrelevant except when making the sales pitch to a public weary of profligate government spending. Mix in some budget gimmicks (like starting the tax 3 or 4 years before actually beginning the program), and voila! You have a health care bill.

No matter what comes out of the Congress for Obama to sign, you can rest assured that it will (a) cost American taxpayers way more than is promised, and (b) further cede control over the market place to the government.

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Global Warming Alarmists Doubling Down (Updated)

For the past decade or so, it’s been generally believed that global temperatures have at least leveled off, if not slightly cooled. That doesn’t make it true, but using the old eyes-ears-and-nose test has convinced most people that the 00’s were generally less warm than the 90’s.

Thankfully, we have scientists who keep track of these things for us. Of course, when temperatures don’t do what certain scientists expect them to do, we get expressions of confusion like the following (emphasis added):

From: Kevin Trenberth
To: Michael Mann
Subject: Re: BBC U-turn on climate
Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 08:57:37 -0600
Cc: Stephen H Schneider , Myles Allen , peter stott , “Philip D. Jones” , Benjamin Santer , Tom Wigley , Thomas R Karl , Gavin Schmidt , James Hansen , Michael Oppenheimer

Hi all

Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming ? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low.

This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather).

Trenberth, K. E., 2009: An imperative for climate change planning: tracking Earth’s global energy. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 1, 19-27, doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2009.06.001. [1][PDF] (A PDF of the published version can be obtained from the author.)
***

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.***

That, of course, is from the infamous leaked Climate-Gate emails. It’s written by Kevin Trenberth who was commiserating with his fellow CRU scientists just a few weeks ago in October about how gosh darn cool its been, contrary to what their AGW models predicted. Not to be outdone by mere facts, Trenberth hopefully offers “the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.”

Well never fear, dear Kevin, for the UK Met Office and World Meteorological Organization has your back!

The first decade of this century is “by far” the warmest since instrumental records began, say the UK Met Office and World Meteorological Organization.

Their analyses also show that 2009 will almost certainly be the fifth warmest in the 160-year record.

Burgeoning El Nino conditions, adding to man-made greenhouse warming, have pushed 2009 into the “top 10” years.

The US space agency Nasa suggests that a new global temperature record will be set “in the next one or two years”.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Met Office scientists have been giving details of the new analysis at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

The WMO said global temperatures were 0.44C (0.79F) above the long-term average.

“We’ve seen above average temperatures in most continents, and only in North America were there conditions that were cooler than average,” said WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud.

“We are in a warming trend – we have no doubt about it.”

“Only” North America saw cooling? Pfft, who cares about that piddly little place and its historically superior instrumentation and methods of recording temperature? Or anyplace else that doesn’t fit the warmist model? It’s not like “Global Warming” means it’s actually global or anything. So just ignore all that and concentrate on what’s important here: the planet is boiling, people! DON’T YOU SEE THAT!!!!1!ONE!oNe

Before getting too cozy with that MET pronouncement, however, one might want to do a little data integrity check. Y’know, just to be sure we’re going to wreck the world’s economy for a good reason.

The media that couldn’t bring themselves to report on the growing scandal surrounding falsified data is all on board with reporting this latest news. Yet it is clear that the Huffington Post, CBS News, the New York Times and others didn’t even bother to check the data that was released from the the UK MET (UK Government Department of Climate and Weather Change). If they had they would have immediately discovered what I found, that the US csv (comma delimited) data dump from 1851 to 2009 is erroneous in its compilation. The January column for each year shows period information instead of temperature records and the latitude appears transposed as well. It appears that they incorrectly shifted the column headers when compling the dump. (Load the raw file into Excel and compare it with the UK csv data to see the erroneous data columns side by side. Data provided by the Guardian UK.)

Oops.

Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s anything funny going here. It could just be an honest mistake, and maybe the planet (minus certain sections that are inconvenient to this narrative) really is sizzling away. After all, it’s not like they “adjusted” the temperatures to account … er, for something or other … resulting in a temperature chart that shows and unmistakable trend ever-upward.

Intrigued by the curious shape of the average of the homogenized Darwin records, I then went to see how they had homogenized each of the individual station records. What made up that strange average shown in Fig. 7? I started at zero with the earliest record. Here is Station Zero at Darwin, showing the raw and the homogenized versions.

Figure 8 Darwin Zero Homogeneity Adjustments. Black line shows amount and timing of adjustments.

Figure 8 Darwin Zero Homogeneity Adjustments. Black line shows amount and timing of adjustments.

Yikes again, double yikes! What on earth justifies that adjustment? How can they do that? We have five different records covering Darwin from 1941 on. They all agree almost exactly. Why adjust them at all? They’ve just added a huge artificial totally imaginary trend to the last half of the raw data! Now it looks like the IPCC diagram in Figure 1, all right … but a six degree per century trend? And in the shape of a regular stepped pyramid climbing to heaven? What’s up with that?

Those, dear friends, are the clumsy fingerprints of someone messing with the data Egyptian style … they are indisputable evidence that the “homogenized” data has been changed to fit someone’s preconceptions about whether the earth is warming.

One thing is clear from this. People who say that “Climategate was only about scientists behaving badly, but the data is OK” are wrong. At least one part of the data is bad, too. The Smoking Gun for that statement is at Darwin Zero.

Oh … hmmm …. well, then. There you have it. CAN’T YOU SEE THE WARMING!?!?!?

Of course, don’t expect the MSM to alert you to any of these little glitches, or when they eventually get “fixed”. The media will be too busy chasing down Tiger’s mistresses and copying press releases from the Copenhagen Screw The World Climate Conference. They’ve got priorities you know.

UPDATE: Well thank goodness somebody is doing some actual science to get to the bottom of all this rampant warming around (certain, strategically located parts of) the world:

The Australian has an article out today highlighting two recent peer-reviewed (as if that has any credibility anymore) studies which disprove AGW. Both are studies of planet Earth, not buggy SW models with biased data meant to produce the desired result. They are empirical (measured), not theoretical (SWAG – a.k.a. scientifically based wild ass guess).

The first is from the historic CO2 record, and how it was many times hire than today over a period of hundreds of thousands of years WHILE THE EARTH COOLED DRASTICALLY!

Pearson’s work contains a couple of remarkable results.

First the greenhouse atmosphere pre-cooling contained a CO2 concentration of 900 parts per million by volume, or more than three times that of the Earth in pre-industrial days.

Second, while the cooling of the Earth took place over a time-span of around 200,000 years, the atmospheric CO2 first dropped in association with the cooling, then rose to around 1100ppmv and remained high for 200,000 years while the Earth cooled further and remained in its new ice ages cycle.

CO2 levels 3-4 times present day levels, and the result was global cooling. The UN believes only modest increases will cause out of control warming. But if it did not happen before at much higher levels -why not? Simple – the theory of CO2 as a green house feed back mechanism on a global scale is false (it never has been proven scientifically at the global level). Earth is much more complicated than the alarmists could possibly imagine.

The second study is from 3o years of satellite data … So here is the result of measuring planet Earth from space:

Building on a methodology published 15 years ago in Nature, climatologist and NASA medallist John Christy and colleague David Douglass studied global temperature impacts of volcanic activity and ocean-atmospheric oscillations (the “El Nino” effect) and separated these from global temperature trends over the past 28 years.

[…]

The result of their analysis is a CO2-induced amplification factor close to one, which has implications clearly at odds with the earlier IPCC position.

The result was published this year in the peer-reviewed journal Energy and Environment and the paper has not yet been challenged in the scientific literature.

What this means is that the IPCC model for climate sensitivity is not supported by experimental observation on ancient ice ages and recent satellite data.

Again, no runaway feedback from CO2. This is not a SW model – as the article notes. This is not clumsy or exaggerated statistical mysticism. This is measuring reality and learning what is happening.

This is real science, with small error bars.

Well, now that can’t be right. As Trenberth said, the data must be wrong.

So this can all be ignored then since it doesn’t actually have anything to do with fancy modeling that predicts, er, nothing very well really. But those models do prove, in a complicated consensusy way that you peons shouldn’t concern yourself with, that we’re getting warmer! All the time. Up, up, UP!

Now back to the limos. These citizens aren’t going to rule themselves!

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Action : Reaction

Gee, I wonder who would have guessed that this would happen:

In a London preview of Wall Street’s bonus nightmare, more than 1,000 investment bankers have quit Royal Bank of Scotland to work at rivals due to curbs on their paychecks, according to people familiar with the situation.

Wall Street banks fear top talent would flee en masse for greener pastures if Uncle Sam’s pay czar, Ken Feinberg, and Congress try to put more ceilings on bonuses and pay at financial firms.

In the UK, the rules are modeled after US actions to curb pay at firms bailed out by the government.

[…]

The protest exodus at RBS — first reported on the Web edition of the Times of London — involved less than 5 percent of its banking professionals.

Some headhunters see more bankers jumping ship in the coming year as the controversy deepens over pay freezes and curbs.

Pay people less than they think they can earn elsewhere, then “elsewhere” is where you will find them.

Some will say that these ship-jumpers can’t be worth too much if their companies had to be bailed out, but that gets it exactly backwards. For the most part, it’s those who are responsible for the floundering that will be left working for the rotting (and now government owned) corpse, while those most capable find positions in more stable firms.

There’s nothing particularly bad about this sort of slough off, except that with the bailouts thrown into the mix, it’s the public that’s left holding the bag. Absent the government takeovers, the same sort of thing would have happened, only in a quicker, more orderly way (see, e.g. the fallout from the collapse of Arthur Anderson, or the bankruptcy of BearingPoint).

Moreover, the demonization of Wall Street types accomplishes nothing constructive, and may very well convince otherwise enterprising young B-school grads (or potential grads) to employ their intellectual talents in other fields that may not fully capture their potential or interest. All that does is deprive the rest of us of smart, young and industrious business people who might make our world better, and instead treats us to a glut of some other professionals that we likely don’t need (i.e. lawyers). And we really don’t want that now, do we?

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More Stupid Journalist Tricks

This quote from the NYT‘s Robert Frank is enough to cause any half-way intelligent person apoplexy [HT: Ramesh Ponnuru]:

Anti-tax zealots denounce all taxation as theft, as depriving citizens of their right to spend their hard-earned incomes as they see fit. Yet nowhere does the Constitution grant us the right not to be taxed. Nor does it grant us the right to harm others with impunity. No one is permitted to steal our cars or vandalize our homes. Why should opponents of taxation be allowed to harm us in less direct ways?

Oh, Jeez. Correcting all of the problems with this statement could fill volumes, but at its core is this mind-numbingly stupid assertion: “Yet nowhere does the Constitution grant us the right not to be taxed.

That’s right, genius, it doesn’t. Wanna know why? Because nowhere does the Constitution grant us any rights, you imbecile! That’s not what the Constitution is about or for. It doesn’t grant us the right to free speech, or to bear arms, or to due process, or to be secure in our possessions and properties. It doesn’t even grant anyone the right to vote. What it does is protect those individual rights, all of which existed prior to the Constitution even being contemplated. Which, incidentally, was the point to having a government in the first place (and not to use the state’s police powers to dole out goodies to favored constituencies, as seems to be all the rage nowadays).

Indeed, the only thing that Constitution does grant is limited powers to the federal government, all other powers being reserved to the States or the people (see Amendment X to that Constitution you are blathering about).

Accordingly, your argument is not just “insane”, to use Mr. Ponnuru’s term, it is also fundamentally misinformed. In the future, should find the need to expound upon the foundation of our government and/or its relation to individual rights, perhaps you should educate yourself about those concepts first.

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No, Seniors, You Won’t Be Able To Keep Your Health Insurance Plan

Throw this on the pile with the many lies broken promises from Obama about his health care initiative. It’s official now that a Democrat is saying it:

Democrats, having defeated a Republican attempt to block proposed Medicare cuts, now face an even bigger headache: concern among members of their own party over the program’s future funding.

President Barack Obama wants to cut spending on the federal insurance plan for the elderly to help fund his health-care overhaul. Part of that proposal would cut more than $100 billion from Medicare Advantage, through which the government hires private insurers such as Humana Inc. to deliver Medicare benefits to 11 million seniors, including extras like reduced co-payments and even gym memberships.

Should Congress scale back the program, “We’re not going to be able to say ‘if you like what you have, you can keep it,’” said Senator Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat. “And that basic commitment that a lot of us around here have made will be called into question.”

Casey’s only referring to those who use Medicare Advantage, but that’s not an insignificant number of people. And it would be larger if not for some (ahem) “special provisions” that protect some constituents:

Senators Charles Schumer of New York, Bill Nelson of Florida and Ron Wyden of Oregon are among those who secured special provisions shielding constituents from cuts.

Casey says he wants “very comparable” protections for his state, where more than one-third of Medicare beneficiaries participate in Medicare Advantage. “It’s the kind of thing that will likely be addressed on the floor,” he said.

Well that certainly is “special” now, isn’t it?

Of course, the reason that Medicare Advantage is under attack, particularly in rural areas, is because it costs more than regular Medicare. That’s because when the government tried to get insurers to offer the program in rural areas none would do so because the rates were too low. The government then offered subsidies, and now almost everywhere in the U.S. has Medicare Advantage offered.

Medicare Advantage was created decades ago in hopes that private insurers could deliver Medicare benefits more cheaply. Companies were paid 5 percent less than the traditional program’s costs. Insurers, though, wouldn’t enter many rural markets at those rates, said Biles.

Beginning in 1997, the then-Republican controlled Congress increased subsidies to lure insurers into rural markets. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley said that before the increases, Medicare Advantage was available in only one of his state’s 99 counties. Now it’s in every county.

“To get it in rural America, it took some subsidies,” said Grassley.

Those subsidies made Medicare Advantage more expensive than traditional Medicare. “One of the big reasons Medicare is headed for insolvency is Medicare Advantage, so the notion that it can be left alone is detached from reality,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat. “It’s been a runaway train.”

So, Democrats are faced with a Morton’s Fork: either cut Medicare Advantage, which will likely lead to insurers ceasing to offer it, or continue to fund it and be faced with a budget-busting health care plan. Either way, they end up with a plan that is probably not passable.

Incidentally, Humana, Inc. is one of the largest providers of Medicare Advantage coverage, whose revenues are closely tied to its success. You may recall that a couple of months ago, the government decided to try an shut down communications from Humana to its customers warning them that ObamaCare could mean a loss of their coverage.

Two-thirds of Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana’s earnings and one-fifth of Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s profits are tied to the program, according to an Oct. 1 Goldman Sachs Group Inc. research note.

“Significant funding cuts to the MA program would likely make the benefits seniors receive from MA unsustainable at their current levels,” said UnitedHealth spokesman Jon Stone in an e- mail. Humana spokesman Jim Turner said “it’s too early to identify the specific impact MA funding cuts would have on premiums and benefits.”

Humana cautioned seniors in September of possible cuts, urging them to “let your members of Congress know why Medicare Advantage is important to you.” The administration barred insurers from sending what it termed “potentially misleading” mailings. It later retreated after Republicans retaliated by blocking nominees awaiting Senate confirmation.

The White House secured one concession: requiring insurers to make their case only to seniors requesting such information.

I guess Congress wanted to be the first to tell them?

In any case, these are the sorts of problems that will (hopefully) make any health care legislation impossible to get passed. The way things are set up, a whole lot of disparate interest groups are pitted against one another, and in order to satisfy one, another has to lose. If Congress expands coverage to everyone, then those with health care will have to pay for it, either through higher premiums, fewer benefits or increased taxes. There simply isn’t enough tax money to fund the program (especially if that money is only going to be raised from “the rich” or some other disfavored group) and provide all the goodies that are being promised. And if the goodies aren’t delivered, then people start asking why we’re changing anything at all. Those questions will be particularly pointed when, whatever changes are made, voters are still likely to see higher costs and reduced services.

Given all the above, I don’t know what kind of bill can possibly emerge from the Senate. Let’s hope that means that none will. And to be on the safe side, plan on voting for candidates that will ensure that outcome.

[HT: Ace]

NASA May Have Its Own Climaquiddick Problem

To my mind, the biggest indicator of malfeasance in this whole Climaquiddick affair is the fact that researchers have been forced to use freedom of information laws to get to the underlying data that supposedly supports AGW. The leaked emails show that the CRU gang at least contemplated trashing data to keep it from private eyes, and with respect to original temperature data, in fact did trash it. Why, if the evidence is so overwhelming, would anyone want to keep such data from public view? Well, you know why, and it appears that NASA may have a similar problem:

Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said NASA has refused for two years to provide information under the Freedom of Information Act that would show how the agency has shaped its climate data and would explain why the agency has repeatedly had to correct its data going as far back as the 1930s.

“I assume that what is there is highly damaging,” Mr. Horner said. “These guys are quite clearly bound and determined not to reveal their internal discussions about this.”

The numbers matter. Under pressure in 2007, NASA recalculated its data and found that 1934, not 1998, was the hottest year in its records for the contiguous 48 states. NASA later changed that data again, and now 1998 and 2006 are tied for first, with 1934 slightly cooler.

Mr. Horner, a noted global warming skeptic and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism, wants a look at the data and the discussions that went into those changes. He said he’s given the agency until the end of the year to comply or else he’ll sue to compel the information’s release.

Image via <a href="http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2009/12/zing.html">The Smallest Minority</a>

Image via The Smallest Minority


My familiarity with FOIA requests stems from legal cases, and I know that there are some fairly systematic, and time-consuming procedures that a government agency must go through before delivering the requested material. Typically, in the legal realm, the biggest time-consumer is filtering the material for privileged and classified material that need to be redacted before responding to the request. However, in the realm of scientific fact (i.e. requesting raw data), I can’t for the life of me think of one reason why any such data would have to be redacted or withheld. Temperature records, in the very least, should be easily producible well within the the 20 day limit for such requests.

To be sure, Horner is also seeking emails (and presumably other documents) that discuss the GISS reasoning underlying decisions to change the warmest dates on record, which could take some extra time:

NASA’s GISS was forced to update its data in 2007 after questions were raised by Steve McIntyre, who runs ClimateAudit.com.

GISS had initially listed the warmest years as 1998, 1934, 2006, 1921 and 1931. After Mr. McIntyre’s questions GISS rejiggered the list and 1934 was warmest, followed by 1998, 1921, 2006 and then 1931. But since then, the list has been rewritten again so it now runs 1998, 2006, 1934, 1921, 1999.

The institute blamed a “minor data processing error” for the changes but says it doesn’t make much difference since the top three years remain in a “statistical tie” either way.

Mr. Horner said he’s seeking the data itself, but he also wants to see the chain of e-mails from scientists discussing the changes.

The Freedom of Information Act requires agencies to respond to requests within 20 days. Mr. Horner says he’s never received an official acknowledgement of his three separate FOIA requests, but has received e-mails showing the agency is aware of them.

He said he has provided NASA with a notice of intent to sue under FOIA, but said he also hopes members of Congress get involved and demand the information be released.

NASA and CRU data are considered the backbone of much of the science that suggests the earth is warming due to manmade greenhouse gas emissions. NASA argues its data suggests this decade has been the warmest on record.

On the other hand, data from the University of Alabama-Huntsville suggests temperatures have been relatively flat for most of this decade.

Obviously the numbers matter, as does the justification for changing them. If everything was done in good faith, then there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. That such stonewalling has been going on for two years (according to Horner) suggests that there is something to hide.

Say Anything Radio Tonight

For anyone who might be interested, Rob Port of Say Anything Blog has graciously invited me to co-host his radio show tonight. It will be airing from 7-9 PM Central time, and can be heard on Ustream and can be seen right here (allegedly):

Tonight’s topics will include the Pelosi health care bill, the elections this week, the Fort Hood tragedy, and my post on Corporatism v. Capitalism. If you desire, you can call into the show toll free at 888-598-8464. Hope to hear from some of you all.

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Fiscal Conservatism Big Winner Tonight

Landslide victories up and down the ticket in Virginia, a somewhat surprising upset in the Democratic stronghold of New Jersey, and a fine showing (and potential victory?) in upstate New York tonight, all make one thing clear: fiscal conservatism is back. The Republican Party will try to seize the moment as their call to ascendance, but that’s wishful thinking. The real victor tonight is fiscal conservatism. If the GOP doesn’t get on board, then they should expect to be wandering in the wilderness for a little while longer.

With that in mind, let’s think about the NY-23 race for a moment. As I’m writing this, it looks like the results won’t be known for some time. The conservative upstart and darling the grassroots Tea Party movement, Doug Hoffman, is trailing with a majority of the precincts reporting. However, as I understand it the exit polls give him the edge, there are several conservative-leaning precincts that haven’t been counted, and the number of absentee ballots (which won’t be tallied for some time) far outpaces the difference between Hoffman and the Democrat Bill Owens. In short, we probably won’t know the result of this race anytime soon. So be it.

Let’s assume that Hoffman loses. What does that mean? Liberals will point to the fact that, in races where someone was actually sent to Washington and thus could have a direct effect on Obama’s agenda, the Democrats made a clean sweep. GOP old-timers like Newt Gingrich will be quick to chide the base for supporting a third-party candidate thus handing a formerly Republican seat to Pelosi and her crew. Both will be completely wrong.

The idea that Democrats got a clean sweep of DC seats is an interesting spin, but it doesn’t make much sense in the long run. The way that House elections are districted virtually ensures party control of those seats, pretty much by design. That a Democrat wins an election as a Representative of a Democratic district is hardly indicative of anyone’s agenda, much less as a referendum on the latest national policy being rammed down our throats debated in Washington. Moreover, any knowledgeable Governor-elect knows that the health care bills proposed by Congress will be making their lives much more difficlut if passed, simply by virtue of the fact that they all try to pass a good deal of the costs onto the states in order to meet that magical, Obama-approved number of $900 billion. And let’s not forget that the liberal media and the White House itself [Yeah, big dif — ed.] has been distancing itself from the results all this past week. You can’t have it both ways, but don’t think that will stop the libs from trying anyway.

On the GOP side, you can expect the establishment types to aggressively tut-tut the conservative cranks who put the wind in Hoffman’s sails. “Better to have a RINO who supports Boehner for Speaker than a Dem who’s a sure Pelosi vote,” will be the admonishment. “Poppycock!” should be the response. If smaller government and lower taxes are truly the desired goal, then electing someone whom nominally carries the Republican standard but walks and talks like a Democratic duck does not further that aim. Instead, it makes it harder to obtain because, by Newt Gingrich’s logic, the base would have to continue to vote for her regardless of how she actually votes while in office, just to maintain the Republican caucus. In reality, it’s much easier for a conservative base to be energized into voting to unseat a Democrat tax-and-spender than a Republican one. Having Scozzafava in that seat would impede that opportunity.

If, on the other hand, Hoffman pulls out the win against all odds (e.g. running as a third-party candidate, only getting one slot on the ballot to two each for the other candidates), that would be a remarkable and unmistakable victory for fiscal conservatives. To be sure, in my mind, the fact that Hoffman is the candidate whom the Democrat has to beat is already a victory for fiscal conservatism. But an actual electoral victory would be huge. It sends the clear message that Congress’ profligate ways are no longer acceptable, and it almost ensures that ObamaCare, PelosiCare or WhateverCare will never become a reality. That’s because, regardless of what liberal pundits and Democrat mouthpieces say, the politicians who depend on reading the Tea leaves correctly will quickly surmise that voting for the health care monstrosities coming out of Congress is a suicide mission. Self preservation dictates that these savvy solons legislate these monstrosities to a slow, painful death. The same could be said of Cap-and-Trade or any other erstwhile tax bill considered for passage. In the very least, therefor, a Hoffman win means that fiscal insanity is held in low regard for the next election cycle.

So hold your heads up high, pioneers, for the returns tonight strike a harmonious tune. Fiscal conservatism sets the beat, and that symphony sounds sublimely sweet.

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Corporatists v. Capitalists

This guy is sooooo close to getting it exactly right, and at HuffPo of all places.

When I heard the word “corporatist” a couple of years ago, I laughed. I thought what a funny, made up, liberal word. I fancy myself a die-hard capitalist, so it seemed vaguely anti-business, so I was put off by it.

Well, as it turns out, it’s a great word. It perfectly describes a great majority of our politicians and the infrastructure set up to support the current corporations in the country. It is not just inaccurate to call these people and these corporations capitalists; it is in fact the exact opposite of what they are.

Capitalists believe in choice, free markets and competition. Corporatists believe in the opposite. They don’t want any competition at all. They want to eliminate the competition using their power, their entrenched position and usually the politicians they’ve purchased. They want to capture the system and use it only for their benefit.

The sensible approach would be to recognize the problem and figure out a way to avoid it the best we can. Money always finds a way in, but we can at least be cognizant of the issue and try to combat it as much as possible. We must do this as citizens who care about our democracy, but we must also do it as capitalists.

If he just realized that the answer isn’t “that we watch politicians with a very wary eye”, but instead to make sure that the politicians have as little and diffused power as possible. Without concentrated power, politicians have nothing to sell, including the power to protect big corporations. If there’s nothing to sell, the corporations have nothing to buy for their protectionist schemes and are left to sink or swim in the market just like the rest of us. The end result? More freedom and more free markets.

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