EppsNet Archive: Politics

But I Didn’t Mean It

22 Jul 2013 /


Voting is Overrated

21 Jul 2013 /

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."


Ted Rall: “1984″ is Here. Yawn.

Posted by on 5 Jul 2013

Banning Racial Preferences in California Helped Everyone

20 Jun 2013 /
University of California

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.


You Say Anarchy, Sir, Like It’s a Bad Thing

15 Jun 2013 /
Thomas Jefferson

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

Thomas Jefferson


Dogged by Protesters

15 Jun 2013 /

Obama dogged by protesters on bay visitSFGate

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! :(

— Lightning paw

On the Ottoman


Drive Me to the Junkyard in my Cadillac

30 May 2013 /

Well buddy when I die throw my body in the back
And drive me to the junkyard in my Cadillac

— Bruce Springsteen, “Cadillac Ranch”

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.

Abbey Bruce

Abbey Bruce, a nursing assistant who works a second job cleaning, will pay a sharply higher deductible.

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.


Steven Miller Out

17 May 2013 /
http://www.cnbc.com/id/100741122

“He’s a joker, he’s a smoker, he’s a midnight toker,” Obama added.


Willing to Try Anything

7 May 2013 /

Demonizing Bogeymen

20 Apr 2013 /

From Salon, before the bombers were identified, captured and/or killed:

http://www.salon.com/2013/04/18/extremists_blame_everyone_but_white_men_for_boston_bombings_partner/

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.


Mad Libs

7 Feb 2013 /

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.


Thomas Jefferson on Why Your Health Insurance Premium is Going Up

11 Jan 2013 /
Thomas Jefferson

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.

Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson Solves the Country’s Obesity Problem

4 Jan 2013 /
Thomas Jefferson

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:

  1. Eat less.
  2. Exercise more.

Got that, fatso?

Thomas Jefferson


The Honest Politician

3 Jan 2013 /

“You want a simple plan to reduce the national unemployment rate? GET A JOB!”


eEconomics – Top Tax Rates

4 Dec 2012 /

Berkeley Voters Leave Something to be Desired as Parents

29 Nov 2012 /

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.

Progress!

“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.

Berkeley High School


Thomas Jefferson on the General Welfare Clause

23 Nov 2012 /
Thomas Jefferson

[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.”


No Surprises in Berkeley

23 Nov 2012 /
Third-party! Stein, Johnson, Anderson and Good...

(Photo credit: ironypoisoning)

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%)

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Paul Krugman

19 Nov 2012 /

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?

Workers of the World, Unite!

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?

 

As George Harrison used to say:

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.

P.S. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but “workers” is a telling choice of words, isn’t it? Why not “employees” or just “people”? “Workers” calls to mind communist rallying cries and the Wobblies.


If Everything Goes as Intended . . .

19 Nov 2012 /

If [Affordable Care Act] implementation goes as intended and widespread utilization and automation are achieved, providers could save about $11 billion per year.

Flying pig

You really can’t dispute something as vague as that but it does raise a number of questions:

  1. 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.
  2. Is “widespread utilization and automation” part of going “as intended” or is that a separate thing?
  3. 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.
  4. Can anyone remind me of a large-scale government program that went “as intended” and saved everyone a lot of money?
  5. 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 . . .


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