Unconstrained thinkers either do not recognize, or refuse to come to grips with, the fact that not everything that is good is worth the cost of its achievement — and that not everything that is bad is worth the cost of its obliteration. Unconstrained thinkers are also typically gripped by romantically unrealistic notions of the abilities of people wielding power, as well as of the trustworthiness of such people. Unconstrained thinkers, because they can imagine people with power exercising that power for the greater good and only for the greater good, are unwilling to suffer any imperfections in reality –- for why suffer such imperfections if a Great and Good Leader (or Great and Good Council) can possibly make the world a better place?
Notes from the Golden Orange
EppsNet Archive: Politics
The Internal Revenue Service issued $4 billion in fraudulent tax refunds last year to people using stolen identities, with some of the money going to addresses in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Ireland, according to an inspector general’s report released Thursday.
The IRS sent a total of 655 tax refunds to a single address in Lithuania, and 343 refunds went to a lone address in Shanghai.
In the U.S., more fraudulent returns went to Miami than any other city. Other top destinations were Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and Houston.
Hmmm . . . aren’t there some sort of sanity checks built into the IRS system? Doesn’t a warning bell go off when 655 tax refunds are sent to a single address in Lithuania?
Does this erode your confidence in the federal government’s ability to manage complex systems and gigantic sums of money?
I’m sure they’ll do a much better job managing health insurance, right? Right?
The conversation below took place more than four years ago — June 23, 2009 — at a congressional hearing on Obamacare. The topic was the keep-your-coverage promise, and the participants were Christina Romer, then chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Rep. Tom Price, who is also a doctor.
The conversation plays out like one of those word puzzles where you start out with one word and change one letter at a time to get a completely different word. Watch Romer’s responses on keeping your coverage go from “Absolutely” to a stammering “I’d have to look at the specifics.”
It’s also yet another reminder of what a pig in a poke Obamacare was. Even the people advocating for it had no idea what was in it.
REP. PRICE: You also mentioned, as other folks have, that the president’s goal — and it’s reiterated over and over and over — that if you like your current plan or if you like your current doctor, you can keep them. Do you know where that is in the bill?
MS. ROMER: Absolutely. And things like the employer mandate is part of making sure that large employers that today — the vast majority of them do provide health insurance. One of the things that’s –
REP. PRICE: I’m asking about if an individual likes their current plan and maybe they don’t get it through their employer and maybe in fact their plan doesn’t comply with every parameter of the current draft bill, how are they going to be able to keep that?
MS. ROMER: So the president is fundamentally talking about maintaining what’s good about the system that we have. And –
REP. PRICE: That’s not my question.
MS. ROMER: One of the things that he has been saying is, for example, you may like your plan and one of the things we may do is slow the growth rate of the cost of your plan, right? So that’s something that is not only –
REP. PRICE: The question is whether or not patients are going to be able to keep their plan if they like it. What if, for example, there’s an employer out there — and you’ve said that if the employers that already provide health insurance, health coverage for their employees, that they’ll be just fine, right? What if the policy that those employees and that employer like and provide for their employees doesn’t comply with the specifics of the bill? Will they be able to keep that one?
MS. ROMER: So certainly my understanding — and I won’t pretend to be an expert in the bill — but certainly I think what’s being planned is, for example, for plans in the exchange to have a minimum level of benefits.
REP. PRICE: So if I were to tell you that in the bill it says that if a plan doesn’t comply with the specifics that are outlined in the bill that that employer’s going to have to move to the — to a different plan within five years — would you — would that be unusual, or would that seem outrageous to you?
MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing is, what kind of changes are we talking about? The president was saying he wanted the American people to know that fundamentally if you like what you have it will still be there.
REP. PRICE: What if you like what you have, Dr. Romer, though, and it doesn’t fit with the definition in the bill? My reading of the bill is that you can’t keep that.
MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing — the bill is talking about setting a minimum standard of what can count –
REP. PRICE: So it’s possible that you may like what you have, but you may not be able to keep it? Right?
MS. ROMER: We’d have — I’d have to look at the specifics.
“I am not a crook.” — Richard Nixon
“Read my lips: no new taxes.” — George H.W. Bush
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” — Bill Clinton
“If you like your plan, you can keep it.” — Barack Obama
When President Obama said that he could provide health care to millions without taking any health care away from people who have already got it, he had no chance of being believed. The statement was absurd on its face. This is a law of arithmetic: If you invite a bunch of friends to share your lunch, there’s going to be less lunch for you. Everybody understands that. . . .
So when the President said he could expand the availability of medical care while allowing everyone else to keep the care they’ve got, it was like saying he’d take us for a tour of England in his rocket ship. It had absolutely no chance of being believed, and therefore, it seems to me, does not count as a lie.
It counts instead as an expression of contempt for the many entirely reasonable people who tried to point out that it is not within a President’s power to suspend the laws of arithmetic.
That expression of contempt was arguably pretty contemptible, and arguably as contemptible as a lie. And of course he’s compounding it by trying to tell you with a straight face that everyone who has to switch health plans will end up with “better” plans that allow them to consume even more medical care. I could give you some pretty striking counterexamples among people I’m personally close to, but there’s no need for that, since anyone who grasps basic arithmetic can see that the president’s words cannot be true. But speaking untruths is not enough to make him a liar. For that, he’d have to speak plausible untruths, and he has too little respect for the American people to bother coming up with any.
Some of the president’s most central and important claims about Obamacare are revealed now – and widely admitted – to be wrong. If he were the CEO of a private company he would be sued, publicly lambasted by all the major media, perhaps hauled before an admittedly grandstanding Congressional committee, and possibly prosecuted, convicted, fined, or even imprisoned for fraudulent misrepresentation. But because Obama is a politician, his misrepresentations are excused as simplifying descriptions aimed at persuading the doofus public to fall for legislation that they would not have fallen for had the president described that legislation honestly and accurately.
Politics is the profession of scoundrels.
Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.
Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.
Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four. . . .
Covered California spokesman Dana Howard maintained that in public presentations the exchange has always made clear that there will be winners and losers under Obamacare. . . .
“Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”
Well, there are fewer limits on what you can promise than on what you can deliver. — Milton Friedman
To ignore the government’s poor performance of its present duties when deciding on whether it should or should not take on new duties is obviously wrong.
Democrat or Republican. Liberal or conservative. If you’re not one, you must be the other. If you don’t vote, people — apparently rational, functional people who manage to drive their cars without ramming them into walls — tell you with a straight face that your non-vote is a de facto vote for the candidate you would have voted against (had you voted). Because you’re not allowed to hate both. Because, in under our idiotic one-or-the-other political system, even if you hate both parties, you’re supposed to hate one party more than the other.
POTUS: “When the auto industry was on the brink of collapse and Gov. Romney said, ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt,' I said no.”
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 16, 2012
In California back in 1979 I helped to get the Libertarian Party’s Presidential candidate, Ed Clark, on the ballot. Since then, I’ve had nothing to do with politics, which I’ve come to regard as unseemly. That others can be enthusiastic about this or that politician surprises me in the same way that it might surprise me to learn that there is such a thing as an official streptococcus fan club with a list of dues-paying members. And although I can’t claim never to have voted, I can at least say that I would hate to ever have to admit voting for any of the people I voted for. All things considered I’d much rather exercise what Herbert Spencer calls my "Right to Ignore the State."
When racial preferences were banned by the voters in California, there were dire predictions that this would mean the virtual disappearance of black and Hispanic students from the University of California system. What in fact happened was a 2% decline in their enrollment in the University of California system as a whole, but an increase in the number of black and Hispanic students graduating, including an increase of 55% in the number graduating in four years and an increase of 63% in the number graduating in four years with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.
Instead of the predicted drastic decline in enrollment in the system as a whole, there was a drastic redistribution of black and Hispanic students within the University of California system. Their enrollment dropped at the two most elite campuses, Berkeley and UCLA — by 42% at the former and 33% at the latter. But their enrollment rose by 22% at the Irvine campus, 18% at the Santa Cruz campus, and 65% at the University of California at Riverside. After this redistribution, the number of black and Hispanic students who graduated with degrees in science, mathematics, and engineering “rose by nearly 50 percent,” according to Sander and Taylor. The number of doctorates earned by black and Hispanic students in the system rose by about 20%.
In short, the problems created by the mismatching brought on by affirmative action gave way to significant improvements in the academic performances of black and Hispanic students in the University of California system after those preferences were banned.
Frankly, one of our political parties is insane, and we all know which one it is. They have descended from the realm of reasonableness that was the mark of conservatism. They dream of anarchy, of ending government.
My fellow Americans –
I’ll tell you who’s insane: anyone who’s not dreaming of anarchy at this moment in history is insane. People forget that this great nation was founded by anarchists, born out of an armed revolution against a corrupt government.
As I said at the time, “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”
I assure you, though, that regrettably neither current political party dreams of anarchy. They both dream of exactly the same things: self-aggrandizement and rewarding their most powerful supporters with political spoils.
The well-known liberal cartoonist Ted Rall wrote a book a couple of years ago advocating a new American revolution. Unfortunately, while popular uprisings do continue to occur around the world, I am not optimistic that it will ever happen again in America.
The great majority of our citizens now are far more informed about fantasy football and reality TV than they are about current events. They understand politics at only the most simple-minded level: Team Red vs. Team Blue.
I’m Team Blue! Let’s go, Blue! BOOOOO, Team Red! Or vice versa.
Notice, for example, that all of the things that Team Blue hated so much about the George W. Bush administration are okay now that they’re being carried out by President Obama.
Obama didn’t stop the wars or the torture or the spying. He’s just as cozy with Wall Street. Gitmo is still open for “prolonged detention.” Moreover, he’s killing foreign civilians, and sometimes American citizens, with drone strikes, and he’s eliminating whatever civil liberties you think you have left.
Torture and war and economic collapse don’t matter as long as they’re being supervised by my team! Go Blue! We’ll all be in a gulag in 10 years. Go Blue!
Some despotic regimes around the world rely on starvation and threats of violence to keep the people in a state of submissive compliance. Here in America, the same collective stupor is effected via mindless entertainments and gadgetry.
I should raise myself out of depression, paralysis and failure and resist this massive government/corporate dystopia — but I might miss my TV programs.
In 1776, we decided that being Americans meant being free men and women, not serfs and lackeys. We mutually pledged to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor to throw off the abuses and usurpations of the Government, and to secure the blessings of Liberty.
How soon they forget.
I bid you God speed,
Thomas Jefferson, anarchist
Obama dogged by protesters on bay visit — SFGate
Dogged by protesters?! If he ever comes to Orange County, he’ll be PROTESTED BY DOGS!
My owner pays so many taxes that there’s hardly any money left for pug treats!
Well buddy when I die throw my body in the back
And drive me to the junkyard in my Cadillac
Say goodbye to that $500 deductible insurance plan and the $20 co-payment for a doctor’s office visit. They are likely to become luxuries of the past. . . .
Then blame — or credit — the so-called Cadillac tax, which penalizes companies that offer high-end health care plans to their employees.
You’re probably thinking: “So what? I don’t have a high-end health care plan. I’m a working stiff. Let the Wall Street fat cats pay their Cadillac tax.”
Actually, because the plan cost that triggers the Cadillac tax is not indexed for inflation, Bradley Herring, a health economist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, estimates that as many as 75 percent of plans could be affected by the tax over the next decade.
The hospital where Abbey Bruce, a nursing assistant in Olympia, Wash., worked, for example, stopped offering the traditional plan that she and her husband, Casey, who has cystic fibrosis, had chosen. . . .
She has had to drop out of school and take on additional jobs to pay for her husband’s medicine.
“My husband didn’t choose to be born this way,” Ms. Bruce said. The union representing her, a chapter of the Service Employees International Union, has objected to the changes. Her employer, Providence Health & Services, says it designed the plans to avoid having employees shoulder too much in medical bills and has reduced how much workers pay in premiums.
ObamaCare proponents say the Cadillac tax is bringing down employer (not patient) costs as planned.
Cynthia Weidner, an executive at the benefits consultant HighRoads, [said] that the tax appeared to be having the intended effect. “The premise it’s built upon is happening,” she said, adding, “the consumer should continue to expect that their plan is going to be more expensive, and they will have less benefits.”
Key takeaway: Pay more. Get less.
I hate to say I told you so, so instead I’ll say say an insincere thank you to Obama and all the delusional fuckers who voted for this goddamn law.
From Salon, before the bombers were identified, captured and/or killed:
Shame on everyone who assumed that the bombers were Muslims from a foreign land! Wait — what? They were Muslims from a foreign land? OK, never mind.
Calling out “far-right extremists” for “demonizing bogeymen” is either hilariously ironic or depressingly symptomatic of American decline. Since Salon is not known for its satire, I have to go with the latter.