Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Surprise – Health Care Reform Is Just Another Costly Entitlement

Interestingly the truth, in this particular case, comes from a liberal writer from the New Yorker – Joe Cassidy – who says:

“The U.S. government is making a costly and open-ended commitment,” he writes. “Let’s not pretend that it isn’t a big deal, or that it will be self-financing, or that it will work out exactly as planned. It won’t. What is really unfolding, I suspect, is the scenario that many conservatives feared. The Obama Administration . . . is creating a new entitlement program, which, once established, will be virtually impossible to rescind.”

Word.

Also what this blog and may others have been pointing out for months – 9 months to be precise. This monstrosity is exactly what Cassidy says it is. But it is worth it according to Cassidy because it will have a positive two-fold effect as far as he’s concerned:

Because, according to Mr. Cassidy, ObamaCare serves the twin goals of “making the United States a more equitable country” and furthering the Democrats’ “political calculus.”

The radical egalitarians plan on ramping the welfare state back up to a degree hitherto unknown, only to satisfy their radical and uneducated view of “fairness”. And, the “political calculus” remark is fairly depressing too. The whole point is to make more people dependent on government and thus strengthen the Democrat’s base. If you think this will be the end of their redistribution machinations, you haven’t been paying attention.

As for lying about both the cost and the effect? Well, Mr. Cassidy finds that pretty easy to rationalize:

“Putting on my amateur historian’s cap, I might even claim that some subterfuge is historically necessary to get great reforms enacted.”

Subterfuge. Of course. All’s fair when the goal is “good”.

It’s pretty contemptible if you ask me – but there it is, in Cassidy’s own words. My guess is he was one of those who was highly offended by what he considered to be Bush’s “lies”. But for his cause – no problem. Because Joe Cassidy and his ilk know so much better than you or I what is good for us – just ask him.  And he has absolutely no problem with government ramming it down our throat if necessary.  After all, “that’s how great reform is enacted”.

~McQ

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So Again, Why Are We Headed Down The Same Road?

In a little noted Financial Times article yesterday, it reported:

The European Union’s public debt could by 2014 rise to 100 per cent of gross domestic product – a year’s economic output – unless governments take firm action to restore fiscal discipline, EU finance ministers will be warned on Monday.

The EU claims that the measures the countries of the union took to “rescue Europe’s financial sector and combat recession” are to blame.

But then, 7 or 8 paragraphs later, we get to the real “tip of the iceberg”:

The Commission identifies five countries as at particular risk – Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Spain and the UK – because their public finances will come under strain from large increases in pension and healthcare costs, and high deficits triggered by the financial crisis.

This is particularly the case for Greece, which faces the second-highest increase in age-related expenditure in the EU, while its high debt ratio adds to concerns on sustainability.

Pension and health care costs? Translated into US lingo – Social Security and Medicare. You know the two programs with 50+ trillion in unfunded future liabilities? So tell me again why we want to go even further off this debt cliff by enacting government run health care?

Now I know you’ve been led to believe that Euro socialism is magic and that their health care delivers amazing care at much less cost than ours. But in reality, it doesn’t do better on either measure. The 5 countries listed above are only those in the “worst” shape. Any guess what they’ll have to do to bring their “free” health care costs in line, so, like Greece, they won’t see the cost at 135% of GDP next year?

Cuts in spending. Cuts in benefits. Cuts in care. Rationing.

And for countries like the UK, where the medical workers work for the government, what options or choices will medical consumers be left with? There is no real private market.  Government killed that decades ago.

Is that really what we want here? My goodness, the evidence is out there and many of us seem to want to remain willfully blind to the consequences of what we’re considering here in countries who are now doing it. The arrogance and hubris of that is simply mindboggling. Want to see the economy killed and debt skyrocket? Hope the Senate passes “health care reform” then. We can race Greece to see who can run up the biggest percentage of debt vs our GDP. And given the way this Congress and President think, we’ll “win”.

~McQ

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Help Valor IT Reach It’s Goal

Folks I normally don’t ask for donations or money.  But I’m making an exception today for one of the best organizations I know and for one of the best causes I know.  The organization is Soldier’s Angels.   The cause is their “Valor IT” fund raiser – now heading into its final weekend.

Soldier’s Angels is an organization of volunteers which adopts individual soldiers and keeps them in the things they need during their deployments. They also work extensively with the wounded and the families of the wounded. They have representatives in Germany who care for our wounded when they arrive from the theaters of war. They fly families there to be with their loved ones. They are, in short, one of the most magnificent volunteer organizations going.

Valor IT is their brain child. Back a few years ago, they hooked one of our wounded who was not doing as well as everyone hoped with a lap top and software that could translate his spoken word. As he later said, it made him feel whole again and reconnected him to the world and his loved ones. More importantly, it made all the difference in the world to his recovery.

So now SA has a drive every year to buy and give laptops with that voice capability (if necessary) to our wounded warriors. And the difference it makes is, as with the first one, unbelievable.

With today being the birthday of the United States Marines (Semper Fi Marines) and with Veteran’s day on tomorrow, I ask you to consider a small donation to the cause. You can go to Soldier’s Angels here.  Just click on the laptop icon and you’re on your way to helping to change the life of one of our badly wounded warriors.

If you’ve already given thank you for doing so. If you haven’t, please consider doing so – you don’t know how much good it will do and how very much it will be appreciated.  And, as mentioned, it is the perfect way to say “thank you” for Veteran’s day.

~McQ

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So Where Does Ms. Kelo Go To Get Her Home Back?

I‘m sure she’d appreciate it given how hard she fought to save it.  But alas it is no longer there.  In one of the biggest “Constitutional” travesties in my lifetime, the Supreme Court sided with the city of New London to essentially give the property to a private concern which had promised to “lure jobs” to the town.  In a total misuse of eminent domain, the property on which Ms. Kelo’s house used to sit is a “wasteland of weeds”.  And Pfizer, the company that was going to bring all those jobs in return for the condemnation?

Pfizer’s laying off and closing up shop there:

Pfizer Inc. will shut down its massive New London research and development headquarters and transfer most of the 1,400 people working there to Groton, the pharmaceutical giant said Monday….

Pfizer is now deciding what to do with its giant New London offices, and will consider selling it, leasing it and other options, a company spokeswoman said.

How about just handing them over to Ms. Kelo? In this disgraceful, but landmark case, 5 justices managed to somehow twist the law to the point that they agreed taking the town’s taking of the Kelo property for redevelopment at the be behest of Pfizer, a private concern, on the promise of more jobs somehow met the ‘public use’ criteria. The ruling put the property of every American in jeopardy of taking for almost anything a local government can dream up. And it remains in jeopardy today.  Pfizer should have been left to offer homeowners a price if they wanted that land so badly.  It should never have seen the government, at any level, involve itself.  And it darn sure shouldn’t have seen the Supreme Court approving the use of “eminent domain” to take the property.

Scott Bullock, Kelo’s co-counsel in the case, told me: “This shows the folly of these redevelopment projects that use massive taxpayer subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare and abuse eminent domain.”

I’ll go one further than Mr. Bullock – this wasn’t an “abuse” of eminent domain, this completely rewrote eminent domain, to the detriment of the right of private property. The Kelo ruling was wrong and it was as anti-liberty as any recent ruling the Supreme Court has made. If you had confidence that the SCOTUS had your back on Constitutional matters, this ruling alone should have disabused yourself of that notion.

And look how well it has ended.

~McQ

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This Is What Freedom Looks Like

Twenty years ago, the Berlin Wall, erected by the totalitarian DDR to keep it’s citizens in, fell.  Not long after that, like dominoes, the totalitarian communist regimes of the East, to include the USSR, fell as well.  Watch the video and remember what freedom really looks like:

And where is American leadership at the celebration of this world changing event largely brought on by the perseverance and commitment of the US?

Nowhere to be seen.

You’d think this was a moment at least worthy of the VP (isn’t that what VP’s are for?).

Oh, wait, he’s in Detroit – a city with 17% unemployment – at a political fundraiser. Much more important.

~McQ

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When, If Ever, Will Obama Begin Acting Like The Commander In Chief?

I am not impressed. You may say I was set up not to be impressed simply because of my ideological preferences and the fact that Barack Obama is the antithesis of those preferences. But this has nothing to do with politics. No I don’t agree with most of what he stands for on the political scene, but that really has nothing to do with him acting like the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. And a photo op at Dover doesn’t fulfill the role. Nor does a substitute visit to Walter Reed when soldiers are hurting at Ft. Hood and 13 are dead.

Nor does an insensitive and tone deaf “shout out” prior to finally getting to the horrific news of Ft. Hood cut it either. The tragedy at Ft. Hood was a moment and a chance for a president, about whom the armed forces aren’t yet sure, to step up and assume one of the most important roles he has – that of commander in chief. And, frankly, he blew it. Even the liberal Boston Globe understood he’d blown it:

“It takes more than scripted eloquence for Presidents to connect with fellow Americans. It requires a visceral ability to grasp the scope of tragedy, calculate its impact on the national psyche, and react swiftly. Obama missed the first moment to show he understood how much it hurt.”

Even with that, he had a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the military. There were a lot of hurting people at Ft. Hood who would have appreciated a visit from their CiC. Instead he left it to a former Commander in Chief to fulfill the role while he took “R&R” at Camp David for the weekend.  As the Globe puts it, he seems to have completely missed the “scope of the tragedy” and its impact. More importantly he seems indifferent to his duties as CiC.

One of the best bloggers on the net when it comes to this sort of a subject is my friend Cassandra at Villainous Company. She has a must read essay in which she eloquently points out why Obama simply doesn’t “get” the military, and most likely never will. In my opinion, given what I’ve seen thus far, he appears to be totally unsuited to be the Commander in Chief.

Eloquence or style are no substitutes for leadership. An effective Commander in Chief leads. He doesn’t vote “present”. He doesn’t outsource his job. He doesn’t give it lip service. When those he’s leading are hurting, he’s there immediately. He acts like a leader, he empathizes like a leader and he makes decisions like a leader. And what he gains is one of the hardest things in the world to earn and keep – respect.

At the moment I have absolutely no respect for the Commander in Chief of this nation. And I suspect that feeling is shared by a very good portion of our military and military families. My title is a rhetorcial question.  Unfortunately, given his performance so far, I’m pretty sure I know the answer.

~McQ

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Chavez: Prepare For War, Here Come The Americans …

Apparently peace, love and the Obama magic have a 9 month shelf life. Hugo Chavez has determined that the US is up to its old tricks again – and besides, things aren’t going particularly well in the Bolivarian socialist paradise, so it is time to gin up the usual existential threat – the US:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the military and civil militias today to prepare for war as a deterrent to a U.S.-led attack after American troops gained access to military bases in neighboring Colombia.

Chavez said a recently signed agreement that gives American troops access to seven Colombian bases is a direct threat to his oil-exporting country. Colombia has handed over its sovereignty to the U.S. with the deal, he said.

“Generals of the armed forces, the best way to avoid a war is to prepare for one,” Chavez said in comments on state television during his weekly “Alo Presidente” program. “Colombia handed over their country and is now another state of the union. Don’t make the mistake of attacking: Venezuela is willing to do anything.”

Of course this is all a Bolivarian fantasy concocted to distract attention from internal problems, but it is a fantasy that one assumes is useful in some way to the collection of tin pot socialist dictators how holding forth in Central and South America. After all, Fidel Castro has made a career of it:

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro expressed concern similar to Chavez’s on Nov. 6, saying the U.S. might send Colombian troops to crush Venezuela’s government.

“The empire hopes to send them to fight against their Venezuelan and Ecuadorean brothers and other Bolivarian and Alba peoples to crush the Venezuelan revolution, just as they tried to do with the Cuban revolution in April 1961,” Castro wrote in a “reflection” published on the Cubadebate.cu Web site. The Alba bloc is a nine-member group of Latin American countries led by Chavez.

Wow – the US would do that? Send Columbian troops to “crush” Venezuela’s?

Hey, I thought this Obama guy was different and his ascendency and willingness to grip and grin with dictators would change all this?

The U.S. may try to help Colombia invade Venezuela, as the U.S. supported Iraq’s invasion of Iran in the 1980s, Chavez said.

A military attack on Venezuela would spread to other countries in the region because Venezuela has “friends” from Mexico to Argentina, Chavez said during the program.

“If the Yankee empire tries to use Colombia to attack Venezuela, the war of 100 years would begin,” he said.

Guess not.

~McQ

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BlogTalk Radio – Tonight at 8pm (EST)

Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subject(s): The House Health Care vote, Ft. Hood, the looming Afghanistan decision and unemployment at 10.2% Plus whatever else enters our mind – or doesn’t.  Oh yeah, and although it seems a century ago, the votes in VA, NJ and NY-23.  Only available on BTR this week since it will only be Bruce and Michael (fresh of his tour de force co-hosting duties at Say Anything Radio last night). Dale has been overcome by events this week – but he’ll be back fresh and ready to go next week.

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The House Health Care Vote

It’s over. And it has been over long enough so my gag reflex doesn’t automatically kick in when I think about it.  Democrats managed a close “victory” (I don’t consider it a victory for the American people at all, thus the scare quotes) which included one misguided Republican (what a surprise).

Before I talk about it further, there’s an “Irony Alert” in full swing for the irony-impaired leftists who took great joy in touting NY-23 as a Republican civil-war and party purge. They’re are now doing the same sort of thing concerning the 39 Democrats who voted “no” on Pelosi’s monstrosity (and those that voted for the Stupak amendment).

Back to the bill: I make no bones about it – it is a bureaucratic, bank-breaking monstrosity that still will leave millions uninsured and put those who don’t want to play Pelosi’s game in jail – literally.

Additionally, it will cost much more than the Pelosi smoke-and-mirror act is claiming. Sen. Judd Gregg says it will be about 3 trillion over 10 years. I’ve seen reports from other organizations saying 2 to 2.5 trillion. Donald Marron lays out his argument with a handy dandy chart for 1.3 trillion. Once caveat to his analysis – his chart shows the “doc fix” at “$0” dollars. That’s because they plan to pass the $250 billion dollar doctor buy off in a separate bill so it’s not included in the 894 billion faux cost they’re trying to sell. That brings his 1.3 up to 1.6 trillion. The point, of course, is no one is buying the Pelosi figure.

Bottom line – it won’t be anywhere near the supposed deficit reducing 894 billion they claim. And when the front-loaded 500 billion in new taxes begin to hit (well before the program takes effect) there’s going to be a whole lot of political hell to pay especially if it kills the recovery.

That said, the Senate still has to pass its version for this to go anywhere, and with a vote that close in the House, the preliminary betting is against passage in the Senate. And besides, Harry Reid couldn’t organize a one-man parade.

But I think Doug Mataconis, borrowing a line from Star Wars, summed up last night’s vote on the bill and then applause that followed the best – “So this is how freedom dies – to thunderous applause.”

~McQ

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East Germany’s Gone – Boo Hoo

You have to read this one to believe it.  Bruni de la Motte, a child of the GDR, tells us how hard life has been for her since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  The irony is that while she tries to convince of all that was good and wonderful about her former homeland, she never mentions the fact that if she’d have written a whine like this while a citizen of the GDR we’d most likely not even know she ever existed.  Nothing like romanticizing a terror state.

Anyway:

On 9 November 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down I realised German unification would soon follow, which it did a year later. This meant the end of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the country in which I was born, grew up, gave birth to my two children, gained my doctorate and enjoyed a fulfilling job as a lecturer in English literature at Potsdam University. Of course, unification brought with it the freedom to travel the world and, for some, more material wealth, but it also brought social breakdown, widespread unemployment, blacklisting, a crass materialism and an “elbow society” as well as a demonisation of the country I lived in and helped shape. Despite the advantages, for many it was more a disaster than a celebratory event.

The demonization of the country? It had demonized itself for decades. It had to build a freaking wall to keep people in. Not only in Berlin but around the entire country. But of course the political elite suffered far fewer depredations than did the rank and file citizenry. They could complain about the West’s “crass materialism” because, for the most part, they could get most of what they wanted. For the rest of the citizenry, not so much. However, there was no “blacklisting” in the GDR – she’s right about that. Instead, people just disappeared. And I’m sure she was very pleased with the order brought by the Stasi and the fact that spying and reporting on your neighbor was a national pass time.

Ah the good old days.

She rambles on for a number of paragraphs ending with this:

Since the demise of the GDR, many have come to recognise and regret that the genuine “social achievements” they enjoyed were dismantled: social and gender equality, full employment and lack of existential fears, as well as subsidised rents, public transport, culture and sports facilities. Unfortunately, the collapse of the GDR and “state socialism” came shortly before the collapse of the “free market” system in the west.

Of course there was no social equality – Ms. de la Motte belonged to a powerful elite. Gender equality still exists but you’re graded on your merit, something she appears not to appreciate at all. And full employment was a farce to say the very least. If they lacked “existential fears” then they must have been members of the Stasi because the rest of the country had an abiding existential fear of the state secret police. And of course, not understanding that the “free market” hasn’t “collapsed”, one can’t expect her to understand that her “subsidized rents” etc, are precisely what led to the collapse of “state socialism”.

Yes, the late and unlamented (except for the elite who benefited from its existence) GDR is dead.

Cry me a river.

~McQ

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