Notes from the Golden Orange
EppsNet Archive: Politics
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.
President Barack Obama’s speeches have a familiar ring these days — no matter if it’s guns, immigration or the budget.
Tout what he’s already done. Say the public’s in his corner. Demand Congress do something. Lament Washington dysfunction. Lay out his own plan. Avoid details. Urge voters to keep up the pressure. Warn it won’t be easy. Bask in the applause.
It’s the fill-in-the-blank approach to selling a presidential agenda: same template, just adjusted for the topic.
Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers.
That headline should not read “DESPITE new health law,” it should read “BECAUSE OF new health law.”
But we were going to get things for free! We were promised better things at a lower cost!
In my day, most of the citizens were farmers or merchants or tradesmen. They lived by their hands and their wits. They had horse sense and they knew when they were being sold a bill of goods.
Of course, that was before television.
Americans today are unfortunately rather stupid. Most of them don’t know anything about economics, science, history, government . . . as George Carlin says, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” George is here in heaven now. He breaks me up, he really does.
Your president and Congress have decreed that every American will have health insurance whether they want it or not. They have further decreed that a lot of Americans will not have to pay for their own health insurance, which means that the cost of their health insurance has to be paid by the rest of you. That’s one reason why your health insurance premium is going up.
Another reason your premium is going up is the “guaranteed issue” provision. “Guaranteed issue” means that no one can be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
Funny story: My friend Paul Epps, his wife has an insurance agency in Southern California. It’s an area that’s susceptible to wildfires in the summer months. When a fire breaks out, people who live near the fire actually call this woman wanting to buy a homeowners policy.
Of course, she doesn’t sell it to them. Insurance companies are a little bit smarter than that.
Buying a homeowners policy when your house is already on fire is analogous to “guaranteed issue” health insurance: Hello, I’d like to buy some health insurance. Oh by the way, I have cancer, but the doctors think that with lengthy and expensive treatment, I have a chance to pull through.
This is not even insurance anymore. Insurance is something you pay for now to protect against the risk of having to pay a lot more later. In these cases, there IS no risk. The bad news has already happened. It’s a dead loss for the insurance company and they have to spread the cost of that loss to other policyholders. That’s another reason your premium is going up.
This isn’t even economics, folks, it’s just common sense.
A slight minority of Democrats (48%) say the government should be extremely or very involved compared to 13 percent of Republicans. Non-whites (47%) are more likely than whites (25%) to say the government should be very or extremely involved in finding solutions to the country’s obesity problem.
My fellow Americans –
The country doesn’t have an obesity problem. If you’re obese, that’s your problem, not the country’s problem, and you bear the costs of it, financial and otherwise.
Some people might argue that obesity causes an increase in public health costs. That is untrue.
Think about it. If you die in your 40s because you’re too fat, you have saved us all a lot of money, to the extent that your healthcare costs are borne by the public. If you’d maintained a normal weight and lived to be 80, you’d still have end-of-life medical expenses, plus an additional 30 years of expenditures in between.
For those who want a solution to the “obesity problem,” I offer two:
- Eat less.
- Exercise more.
Got that, fatso?
“You want a simple plan to reduce the national unemployment rate? GET A JOB!”
According to a new survey, just over 10 percent of Berkeley High ninth and 11th graders reported carrying a weapon onto school property, while about 35 percent of 11th graders reported attending class drunk or high.
If I had a kid at Berkeley High, I’d be moving out of town yesterday, but I’m reading in the Daily Californian that this news has been “met with surprise and joy from administrators,” the reason being that a similar survey two years ago reported about 17 percent of ninth graders and 16 percent of 11th graders carrying weapons onto campus, and 48 percent of 11th graders attending class drunk or high.
“We’re very pleased with the survey results all around,” said Director of Student Services Susan Craig, “and at the same time we’re not at all complacent.”
If by “pleased” she means “horrified,” I couldn’t agree more.
In other news, Barack Obama got more than 90 percent of the Berkeley vote in the recent presidential election, while Mitt Romney got 4.6 percent and Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, got 3.2 percent.
The liberal voter looks to government to solve problems that many people prefer to take on themselves, like raising their children.
[Thomas Jefferson] then considered the general phrase of the Constitution that identified the purpose of the taxing power as “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” Congress, he said, was to levy taxes only for these purposes, not for any purpose they pleased. “In like manner they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose.” To interpret this provision in any other way would reduce the Constitution to “a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the U.S. and as they would be the sole judges of good or evil, it would also be a power to do whatever evil they pleased.”
Final election counts are in for Berkeley, CA, the most liberal city in America. Let’s start with the presidential election, where Mitt Romney was able to edge out Jill Stein for second place:
- Barack Obama, Democrat – 90.3%
- Mitt Romney, Republican – 4.6%
- Jill Stein, Green Party – 3.2%
California ballot proposition results included:
- Proposition 30, a measure to increase state income tax rates for the wealthy – 90.7% Yes (passed statewide at 54.6%)
- Proposition 34, to abolish the death penalty in California – 86% Yes (lost statewide 52% to 48%)
- Proposition 37, requiring labeling of genetically engineered food – 92.4% Yes (lost statewide 52% to 48%)
America in the 1950s made the rich pay their fair share; it gave workers the power to bargain for decent wages and benefits; yet contrary to right-wing propaganda then and now, it prospered. And we can do that again.
I hardly know where to begin with this . . .
First of all, what is the relevance of the 1950s as opposed to any other period of American history? America prior to 1913 had no permanent income tax and contrary to left-wing propaganda, it prospered. Why can’t we do that again?
Of course we’re all in favor of fairness — right? — but why is it only important that “the rich” pay their “fair share”? I don’t remember ever hearing anyone, certainly not Krugman, use the phrase “pay their fair share” in reference to any group except “the rich.”
If you’re concerned about fairness, isn’t it also important that the middle class “pay their fair share”? Isn’t it important that the poor “pay their fair share”? Shouldn’t we all have some skin in the game?
Why not say that everyone should “pay their fair share” instead of making a class warfare issue out of it?
Should five percent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
America in the 1950s had a top tax bracket of 91 percent for incomes greater than $200,000. For every dollar you made in excess of $200,000, the federal government took 91 cents as its “fair share.” You got to keep nine cents as your “fair share.”
Out of those nine cents, you also had to pay Social Security taxes, state taxes, local taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and excise taxes. Am I forgetting anything? It doesn’t seem unlikely to me that nine cents on the dollar wouldn’t be enough to cover all those taxes, in which case you’d actually lose money on every dollar.
If I’d been a business owner in the 1950s, with the knowledge that once I made 200 grand, I’d be operating at a loss, I would have just shut the place down at that point and sent everyone home till the next year. I don’t care if it was November or August or January.
Finally, when Krugman talks about workers having “the power to bargain,” he’s talking about unions, as though the two things are inseparable. I’ve never been in a union but I’ve bargained for wages and benefits at every job I’ve ever had. Anyone with marketable skills can bargain for wages and benefits.
If [Affordable Care Act] implementation goes as intended and widespread utilization and automation are achieved, providers could save about $11 billion per year.
You really can’t dispute something as vague as that but it does raise a number of questions:
- What does it mean for thousands of pages of legislation affecting the entire healthcare industry as well as every man, woman and child in America to go “as intended”? It’s a circular argument. If it goes as intended, we save $11 billion. If we don’t save $11 billion, it didn’t go as intended.
- Is “widespread utilization and automation” part of going “as intended” or is that a separate thing?
- Assuming that implementation does go as intended and widespread utilization and automation are achieved, the best we can say is that providers “could” save “about” $11 billion per year? Could they save more? Less? Break even? Could they lose $11 billion? It’s meaningless speculation.
- Can anyone remind me of a large-scale government program that went “as intended” and saved everyone a lot of money?
- Why, despite all evidence to the contrary, do people continue to believe that government can successfully engineer social aspirations?
In other news, if my plan to grow wings on pigs goes as intended, it could revolutionize the way we export bacon.
These things never go as intended. They can’t possibly go as intended. There are always unintended consequences. I can’t implement a policy in my own house and have it go as intended and there’s just two people and a dog.
I asked the friend who called the NEJM article to my attention what going “as intended” means in the context of the ACA and he said, “I think it means legislators don’t muck with it too much.” What does “muck” mean? What does “too much” mean? We could go on and on . . .
“Maybe peace would have broken out with a different kind of White House, one less committed to waging a perpetual campaign–a White House that would see a 51-48 victory as a call to humility and compromise rather than an irrefutable mandate.”
Yeah, well, shut up, you Republican losers. Obama won, which means a majority of Americans support his policies. Stop being obstructionist and get with the program.
Oh wait, sorry. That quote wasn’t from a Republican but from a recently elected Democrat. It was referring not to Obama but to George W. Bush after the 2004 election. The author: Barack Obama, junior senator from Illinois. The book: The Audacity of Hope.
My fellow Americans –
The first headline I saw this morning was Obama Victory Speech Urges Unity in Facing Challenges.
In case you haven’t seen it, here’s an ad run by President Obama in Ohio in the closing days of the campaign:
A few days ago, it was Us vs. Them, whoever you imagine Us and Them to be. Now it’s Obama Urges Unity.
“Not one of us” is an ugly sentiment in itself, but coming from a man who not long ago promised us Hope and Change and Inclusiveness, it betrays a complete absence of character.
Four years ago, I said what I thought I needed to say to get elected, and I’m doing the same thing now, even though what I’m saying now is the exact opposite of what I said then.
Obama has been nothing if not divisive. On class and income, he speaks contemptuously of “millionaires” and glowingly of “spreading the wealth around.”
Obamacare, his signature “accomplishment,” allows — encourages, in fact — free riders to take advantage of others who’ll be forced to pay double and triple fares.
In cases where black boys beat a white man almost to death because they were bored, or black boys killed a white girl for bike parts, he has nothing to say — nothing about hate crimes, social disintegration or the resemblance of the perpetrators to his own hypothetical offspring.
Now that the election is over and won, he takes a few minutes for the obligatory call for unity before another four years of division.
I, for one, am tired of the bullshit.
Though it is disguised by the illusion that a bureaucracy accountable to a majority of voters, and susceptible to the pressure of organized minorities, is not exercising compulsion, it is evident that the more varied and comprehensive the regulation becomes, the more the state becomes a despotic power as against the individual. For the fragment of control over the government which he exercises through his vote is in no effective sense proportionate to the authority exercised over him by the government.
Now, if we want people to do certain things and if we are indifferent as to why they do them, then no affective appeals need be excluded. Some political candidates want us to vote for them regardless of our reasons for doing so. Therefore, if we hate the rich, they will snarl at the rich for us; if we dislike strikers, they will snarl at the strikers; if we like clambakes, they will throw clambakes; if the majority of us like hillbilly music, they may say nothing about the problems of government, but travel among their constituencies with hillbilly bands.
The one aim of all such persons is to butter their own parsnips. They have no concept of the public good that can be differentiated from their concept of their own good. They get into office by making all sorts of fantastic promises, few of which they ever try to keep, and they maintain themselves there by fooling the people further. They are supported in their business by the factitious importance which goes with high public position. The great majority of folk are far too stupid to see through a politician’s tinsel. Because he is talked of in the newspapers all the time, and applauded when he appears in public, they mistake him for a really eminent man. But he is seldom anything of the sort.
I found this table from Ballotpedia rather interesting. It shows how much money has been donated to each side of the California ballot propositions.
|Proposition||Donations in favor||Donations against|