When it comes to selling Obamacare, Democrats are certain that it’s not the steak, it’s the sizzle

juicy-steakThe old advertising adage holds that “It’s not the sizzle, it’s the steak.”  Rightly or wrongly, I’ve understood this to mean that, even if a brilliant advertising campaign gets a product into consumer’s homes, if the first purchasers end up not liking the product, you’re not going to get a second wave of purchasers.  Instead, you’ll get a second little swell, followed by a trickle, followed by nothing but a dead-in-the-water product.

Eugene Robinson, however, who has been one of Obamacare’s most stalwart cheerleaders, thinks sizzle is all one needs when it comes to evaluating Obamacare’s merits and popularity.  In a rah-rah column celebrating Obamacare’s triumph, Robinson boasts about how the numbers of uninsured have decreased by millions.  (For purposes of this post, we’ll ignore that when it comes to Obamacare most of the millions who bought Obamacare on the exchanges were the previously insured who were kicked off their beloved policies by . . . Obamacare.  We’ll also ignore the fact that people didn’t voluntarily step up to buy this sizzling new government product; they were forced to do so.  And lastly, we’ll also ignore that the largest number of new insureds are now covered under Medicaid, which isn’t real insurance.  Picayune details, right?):

new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that, despite all the problems with the HealthCare.gov Web site launch, 12 million people who previously lacked insurance will obtain coverage this year. By 2017, the year Obama leaves office, the CBO predicts that an additional 14 million uninsured will have managed to get coverage .

And so it goes for another 14 boastful paragraphs:  The numbers don’t lie!  More people have insurance!  Republicans are mean-spirited idiots!  (Robinson is writing for the WaPo, so his language is more refined than that, but the point is the same.)  What I didn’t see anywhere in Robinson’s victory dance was a discussion about the steak behind the sizzle.

Yes, people have dug deep into their pockets to buy mandatory sizzle.  But by pretty significant numbers, these purchasers don’t seem thrilled with the product.  The previously insured, having been forced into the system as official subsidizers, have come face-to-face with the Obamacare steak behind the sizzle and learned that Obamacare is a maggot-ridden, rotten piece of gristly meat.  Their insurance premiums and deductibles have sky-rocketed and their doctors have waved them goodbye.  The really sick ones, the ones who used to survive thanks to a carefully-built, delicate infrastructure of special doctors and hospitals, have found themselves flung, communist-style, back into the general ward.

Nor is there any indication that America’s poverty-stricken sick people are benefitting from the middle-class subsidizers’ downgrade to Castro-style medical care.  I pointed out a few weeks ago that the word from the trenches is that the really poor have no intention of changing their ways.  They like that they pay nothing per month (as opposed to a low, subsidized fee), and they’d rather get the best doc at the ER instead of the worst doc at the regular clinic.  In other words, nobody wins, but the middle class loses.

Robinson seems quite convinced that the American people will be so happy that they have insurance that they won’t care that they don’t have the health insurance to go with it.  The Obama administration, having forced upon them the sizzle, can go home happy without providing the steak.

Is Robinson right?  Have our American expectations become so low that we’re happy merely to own a product, never mind that it doesn’t work as promised?  Are we so desperately afraid of being castigated as some sort of “ist” or “phobic” (racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic) that we will no longer protest when our representatives provide us with fraud and bad service?

Currently, the greatest threat to small government is the rising numbers of illegal immigrants who Democrats hope will create a permanent lock in the Democrat vote.  (And the RINOs go along because the Chamber of Commerce wants cheap labor.)  The current guesstimate seems to be that, if amnesty passes, Democrats will get about 8 million newly-minted, locked-in-Democrat formerly illegal alien voters.  This 8 million number works, though, only if other Americans continue to stay home.

Think about it:  As of 2012, America had around 313 million people, of whom about 126.5 million turned out in 2012, a presidential election year.  In 2008, best estimates were that there were about 227 million Americans who could have voted.  (I couldn’t find 2012 numbers on potential voters, but I assume they’re similar.)  In other words, around 100 million people stayed home in 2012.

Are all of these “stay at homes” Democrat voters?  Or are there tens of millions of latent Republican voters staying home?  (We know Evangelicals retreated to their homes on election days after the 80s ended.)

If the majority of non-voters like our country as it was (individual freedom, not government servitude), and wish that it could be that way again, are the events we’re facing sufficient to rouse them?  If that giant can be awakened, the 8 million “bought and paid for” illegal immigrant votes will be as nothing.

Or more cruelly, are the 100 million silent Americans silent because they truly don’t care?  Are they are so sedated with their  continuous pop culture diet (a la the proles in 1984), that nothing can rouse them.

When I heard Trevor Loudon speak, he correctly said that Republicans don’t win votes by trying to convince Independents to side with them.  Instead, they win votes by exciting their base, because an excited base becomes a parade, and others want to join in.  That’s why he suggested that whoever wins the Republican primaries, or — even better — whoever’s even thinking of entering the primaries, boast a full ticket, from president down to the last cabinet member, that offers something to everyone in the base.

I continue to think that’s a brilliant idea, although I’m not invested in the ticket he proposes.  It’s enough that we offer a package, not a lone man whom the drive-by media will savage.  I do wonder, though, whether an exciting package, coupled with a hunk of fetid, rotten, maggoty Obamasteak, will rouse the sleeping 100 million Americans who can’t usually be bothered to get to the polling booth.  And if those two things — a dynamic ticket and a horrifying “fundamental change to America” — are enough only to sway the malleable independents, rather than to reach the stay-at-homes, will the independents’ numbers be sufficient to beat back, not just the 8 million illegals, but the predictable votes from dead people and those with multiple personalities.

All of which gets me back to Robinson’s article:  Is his confidence that sizzle is enough to declare Obamacare a success the result of cognitive dissonance and denial, or does Robinson have a much more accurate reading of the American people than conservatives do?

 

The view from the trenches puts the lie to the media’s gloating about 7 million Obamacare new enrollments

Obamacare error 404Rush opened his show today by focusing on the mainstream media’s joyous assertion that, overnight, Obamacare went from a mere 26% in support to plurality support and that, within two weeks, it went from 5 million to 7 million enrollments (with that 7 million number coming from two “anonymous” White House sources).  Rush asserted, and I agree, that this is lies and damn lies, powered through by falsely derived statistics.

Even assuming solely for the sake of argument that there’s any truth to the dramatically increased poll and enrollment numbers, the numbers are still meaningless because the law has failed resoundingly at effecting its primary purpose:  to insure the uninsured.  As of yesterday, based upon the limited data the Obama administration has reluctantly released, only 1.7% of the previously uninsured have enrolled in Obamacare.

If the uninsured aren’t enrolling in Obamacare, who is?  It seems that new enrollees consist primarily of (a) those who were insured but wanted subsidies and (b) those who lost pre-existing coverage because of Obamacare.  Moreover, analyzing enrollment data, it appears that the new enrollees are weighted heavily in favor of those requiring subsidies, as opposed to those paying full fare and funding the subsidies.  Even math-illiterates (i.e., the Democrat party and its MSM mouthpieces) will eventually figure out that this is unsustainable.

The statements I made above are data-based, although the administration’s death grip on actual numbers leaves one unsure even about the accuracy of that information.  Now let me throw in some anecdotal information.  I know that anecdote is not data but, to the extent this anecdote tracks the available data, it’s worth noting.

I have mentioned before that I have a friend who has pursued a very different life path from mine.  We both come from extremely middle class backgrounds, but while I was able to stay economically middle class, my friend made life decisions that saw her sink lower and lower economically.  She now lives in a community where, as she jokes, she and her husband are the only ones she knows who don’t have a parole officer.  (A fact that relates in part to substance abuse problems rife in her community and in part to draconian prosecutorial abuse.)

What distinguishes my friend from her neighbors, aside from her lack of a criminal record, is her middle class values.  She may not live the middle class life, but she still follows middle class rules, one of which is her belief that you pay your bills and you carry health insurance.  Unfortunately for her, she reached a point a few years ago at which she could no longer pay health insurance bills.  Quite reluctantly, she let her insurance lapse.

My friend was therefore delighted when Obamacare finally went into effect.  Because her state’s exchange was dysfunctional, she had to sign up the old-fashioned way (by mail), but sign-up she did.  Moreover, given her dire finances, she qualified for a subsidy.  I don’t have the details, but I believe she pays $50 a month for a Gold plan.  The moment her plan vested, my friend went on an orgy of doctor’s visits to catch up on all the health care (mostly standard tests and procedures) that she missed in the last few years.  While I disapprove of Obamacare, she’s my friend and I’m happy for her.  At least someone’s benefiting from the law.

I was speaking to my friend just yesterday about her healthcare and she offered a very interesting observation:  She and her husband, the only middle class people in a sea of poverty, are the only people she knows, amongst both friends and acquaintances, who have signed up for Obamacare.  The others have no interest in getting health insurance.  Even with a subsidy, they don’t want to pay a monthly bill for health insurance.  Even a subsidized rate is too onerous when they can get all the free health care they need just by showing up at the local emergency room.  Additionally, the ER docs are usually better than any doc who’s willing to belong to whatever plan they can afford.  Nor are these people worried about the penalties for refusing to buy Obamacare, since none of them pay taxes.

Not only are the people in my friend’s world refusing to buy Obamacare, they resent it.  According to my friend, someone she knows abruptly announced that she’s getting involved in local politics, something she’s never done before.  Until recently, this gal was one of those people who just floated along, getting by.  Now, though, she’s fired up.

The reason for the sudden passion is unexpected:  She’s deeply offended by a law that forces people to buy a product they don’t need — never mind that she might benefit from the product, that she would pay far below market value for the product, or that she’s too poor to be penalized for ignoring this government diktat.  The mere fact that the diktat exists runs counter to her notion of individual liberty.  Her view of government is that, while it’s fine if it hands out welfare checks and food stamps, it goes beyond the pale when the government uses its power and wealth to coerce activity.

What does Obamacare have in common with teaching math?

Dan Meyer gave a TED talk about the fact that America’s public schools teach math in the same way that sitcoms present comedy:  As a neat, meaningless package that leaves the brain unengaged throughout the process and empty at the end of it.  It’s a good talk and I recommend it on its own merits.  But I especially recommend Meyer’s intro (emphasis mine):

Can I ask you to please recall a time when you really loved something — a movie, an album, a song or a book — and you recommended it wholeheartedly to someone you also really liked, and you anticipated that reaction, you waited for it, and it came back, and the person hated it? So, by way of introduction, that is the exact same state in which I spent every working day of the last six years. (Laughter) I teach high school math. I sell a product to a market that doesn’t want it, but is forced by law to buy it. I mean, it’s just a losing proposition.

The audience laughed at that last line. I didn’t laugh, but I did wonder if Meyer and/or his audience understood that this laugh line applies perfectly to Obamacare.

About Chief Justice Roberts . . . . A counterintuitive observation from James in Hayward

John RobertsJames in Hayward thinks that the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision might have been a blessing in disguise:

Yep, John looks better all the while. If SCOTUS had knocked down that utopian hogwash, Demorats would be having a field day parroting about how the Repubs have destroyed America’s chance for decent health care. I don’t think the Justice was being blackmailed, I think he had contacts in Canada who informed him of the pub gossip.

And have you considered that Obama and Putin are two sides of the same fool’s gold coin? Perhaps a Euro.

History is made up of “what ifs.” Certainly Obama would be in a more powerful position now if he didn’t have Obamacare and could spend his time decrying Republican cruelty. As it is, even with all the media cover he’s been getting, Americans are getting a good look at socialism’s reality.

(An aside: I love James’ neologism — “Demorats”.)

If you want to get something done, ask a busy person — or, job lock is a good thing for innovation

obama-doctor-needleObamacare is the gift that just keeps giving . . . if you want to prove to Americans that Leftism works only on paper and, even then, only if you lie about the numbers.  We’ve already had proven that you can’t keep your insurance, you can’t keep your doctor, you can’t keep your hospital, and you can’t keep your money.  The past weeks have also revealed that you can’t keep your job.

The Democrats have tried to spin this last point by saying that people will be freed of the drudgery of work and suddenly have time to innovate.  In fact, according to studies of people who were given that time to innovate (start businesses, invent things, etc.), the sudden time freedom made no difference:

More importantly, a thorough review of the available literature done by the RAND Corporation in 2010 concluded “On net, there appears to be little consensus in this literature on the existence or magnitude of the effect of health insurance on business creation.” To be sure, the same RAND report provides a new empirical analysis suggesting “that “entrepreneurship lock” for men is just over 1 percentage point relative to an annual base business creation rate of 3 percent.” But one way or the other, all these various studies represent efforts to infer the number of “entrepreneur-locked” individuals in the U.S.

Far more convincing is evidence of what happens after the introduction of universal or near-universal health coverage. For example, our OECD competitors all have had national health systems for decades.  Yet Edward Prescott, co-winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economics, has observed that “entrepreneurship is much lower in Europe.” If universal health coverage truly had a demonstrable impact on individual willingness to take risks, this disparity seems counterintuitive. Admittedly, there are many other factors such as tax and regulatory policy that might affect these cross-national comparisons. So the most convincing evidence comes from the first empirical study ever to explore the actual impact of the a shift to universal coverage on entrepreneurship. This study of the Massachusetts health reform (“Romneycare” after which Obamacare was purportedly modeled) found the following:

The author finds significant and persistent suppression of new organization formation when controlling for organization size, sector and owner gender, and limited evidence of geographic displacement of firms across the New Hampshire border. While theory suggests mandatory insurance should reduce insurance costs and improve worker productivity, the author finds that the regulation has no significant impact on worker productivity and limited evidence of increases in insurance costs, and estimates the expected cost in terms of lost employment, sales to the local economy and tax revenue to in the majority of cases exceed the benefit.

Judging by my own life, this data doesn’t surprise me at all.  When vistas of free time open before me, I don’t innovate, I become inert.  More significantly, my brain slows down.  While I, as a busy person, can get 10 chores done in a day, as an un-busy person, I’m lucky if I get 2 or 3 chores done.  My flywheel has stopped spinning and I find it difficult to marshal the energy needed to overcome the inertia and get that flywheel spinning again.  It’s entirely true that, if you want to get something done, you should ask a busy person.

Moreover, if you want to build a better mousetrap, you should probably ask a busy person about that too.  It’s the busy person who has an incentive to simplify tasks.  It’s a busy person who engages with the world in a way that sows and fertilizes ideas in his mind.  It’s also a busy person who dreams of leisure and takes affirmative steps to create sufficient wealth to bring that leisure time about.  Enforced leisure lacks all of those incentives.  After all, if enforced leisure went hand in hand with creativity and innovation, Europe’s once-thriving cradle to crave welfare states would have resulted in the most dynamic economies in history, rather than in economic basket cases.

It’s true that there have always been people who, because of their great wealth, were able to indulge their passions in ways that benefit the world.  Reading about these people, though, one senses that they were so driven that, no matter their station in life, they would have affected the world around them.  Florence Nightingale, for example, had a calling that would actually have been easier for her to pursue if she hadn’t come from a fabulously wealthy, upper-class family.  Most inventions, though, come from busy people trying to figure out a better way (Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John Rockefeller) or from people who were in a line of work that let their brain float freely to another line (Albert Einstein).

This is a sort of random, ill-thought-out post.  I’m confident in my core idea, but I’m not expressing it as well as I ought — probably because of the stultification of being couch-bound for so many days now.  Please chime in to support or oppose my ragged thoughts.

Marin County residents feeling Obamacare pain

obama-doctor-needleMarin County is enthusiastically Progressive.  In 2008, Barack Obama got 78% of Marin County’s votes.  in 2012, his popularity slipped only slightly, to 74%.  (Funnily enough, up until 1984, Marin was predominantly Republican.  By 1984, the county was split equally, and as of 1988, it’s been reliably Left ever since.)

Part of being enthusiastically Progressive, of course, meant that Marin County went all-in for Obamacare and its state version, Covered California.  Since 2009, with the exception of my small cadre of conservative friends in Marin, everyone else I know has supported it all the way.  And if the bumper stickers I see around are anything to go by, those I don’t know supported it just as enthusiastically.

For those reasons, perhaps you’ll pardon the unseemly schadenfreude I felt when I read this article in the Marin Independent Journal:

Marin residents who have recently signed up for Anthem Blue Cross health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act may have to travel outside the county for medical specialty care.

Kelley Eling of San Rafael said she recently swapped her Blue Shield coverage, which cost her $916 a month with a large deductible, for a gold plan offered by Anthem Blue Cross through California’s new health insurance exchange, Covered California. Eling said she pays just $250 a month for the Blue Cross plan. There is just one problem. Eling said she needs to see a gastroenterologist, and she can’t find one in Marin who is part of Blue Cross’ physician network.

(Read the rest here.)

I have enough decency to feel sorry for each individual suffering from the way in which Obamacare has (quite predictably) destroyed America’s highly functioning healthcare system, even if that individual was dumb enough to support Obamacare.  I also feel deep empathy for those few in Marin who had the wisdom to oppose Obamacare, but were nevertheless screwed by an uninformed, credulous and, it must be said, defrauded population.  Nevertheless, looking at the matter from a distance, without taking into consideration individual dislocation, this serves Marinites right.  Maybe it’s time they start re-thinking that 1988 switch in political party allegiances.

My favorite comment on Democrat spin celebrating the new joblessness under Obamacare

Unemployment LineOver at JustOneMinute, Tom Maguire explains just how weak the Democrat spin is when it comes to celebrating the end of “job lock.”  It’s a great post, but as quite often happens over at my blog, the real brilliance appears in the reader comments.  From Ignatz:

I believe the Republican idea was to decouple insurance from employment not decouple the employee from employment.

Why do I like that?  Because it sums up in one sentence what it took me an entire post to write.

Hat tip:  American Thinker

Democrats gloating about the end of “job lock,” hide the reality of “poverty lock” and “job loss”

Unemployment LineWhen the CBO announced that Obamacare was going to have a deleterious impact on jobs over the next few years (as in 2.5 million fewer people in the work force), those opposed to Obamacare not unnaturally glommed on to those numbers as proof that Obamacare is an economic disaster.  After a moment of stunned silence, however, Democrats came roaring back with celebratory paeans to the end of “job lock.” James Taranto helpfully rounded up some good examples, beginning with Paul Krugman:

In his New York Times column today, former Enron adviser Paul Krugman cheers the news that ObamaCare subsidies are expected to have a greater-than-expected disincentive effect on work:

On Wednesday, Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, said the obvious: losing your job and choosing to work less aren’t the same thing. If you lose your job, you suffer immense personal and financial hardship. If, on the other hand, you choose to work less and spend more time with your family, “we don’t sympathize. We say congratulations.”

And now you know everything you need to know about the latest falsehood in the ever-mendacious campaign against health reform.

Although it was charitable of Krugman to warn readers off the rest of his column, those who heeded his admonition not to read on missed his amusingly worded nod in the general direction of reality: “More subtly, the incentive to work will be somewhat reduced by health insurance subsidies that fall as your income rises.”

Krugman, of course, was not alone.  He was just the most obnoxious voice in the rising Leftist chorus chanting “Hallelujah!  Job lock is over!”  James Taranto again:

E.J. Dionne, Washington Post: “Oh my God, say opponents of the ACA, here is the government encouraging sloth! That’s true only if you wish to take away the choices the law gives that 64-year-old or to those moms and dads looking for more time to care for their children. Many on the right love family values until they are taken seriously enough to involve giving parents/workers more control over their lives.”

Ron Fournier, National Journal: “The GOP has seized on CBO’s conclusion that the equivalent of more than 2 million Americans would use Obamacare subsidies to leave the workforce. No longer tied to jobs merely to cling to health insurance, some people will retire early, work part time, start a business, or spend more time with their families.”

Eric Boehlert, MediaMutters (on Twitter): “CBO: Obamacare will give workers more choices; some workers might chose [sic] to work less to spend more time w/ families….RW condemns as awful?” (Beats us what radiological warfare has to do with anything.)

Salon’s Alex Pareene is so excited, he wants to expand the welfare state even more: “Universal income and healthcare won’t create a Marxist (or even Keynesian) utopia of leisure. . . . But it’d give people the ability to spend more time with their families, to enrich themselves, to get educated, and even to just [futz] around a little more.”

Taranto goes on to note that, before the above spinning began, “leaving to spend more time with the family” was almost invariably a Washington, D.C., euphemism for “been fired” or “about to be arrested/indicted.”

Behind the puff and spin, though, as is often the case with Democrat pronouncements, lurk the lies and misinformation.  Two examples struck me.

First, regarding “job block,” this is a concept that’s been floating around for quite a while now.  Back in 2012, when Nancy Pelosi enthused about becoming a “whatever,” “job lock” referred to situations in which people with preexisting conditions were trapped in terrible jobs because they couldn’t risk leaving their employer-provided insurance policy behind.  Many people, of all political stripes, recognized that this was a problem.  (Republicans suggested fixes such as high risk pools or the ability to buy cheaper coverage across state lines.)

What the Democrats are so excitedly celebrating here is a new type of job lock, one that applies, not to people with preexisting health conditions but, instead, one that applies to people with preexisting low-paying jobs.  Why?  Because thanks to Obamacare, a large cadre of people suddenly cannot afford to move up professionally.  They cannot afford to look for a better paying job.  Heck!  They can’t even afford to get a pay raise.  After all, if they’re one of the unlucky ones, moving up by the wrong dollar will cost them $20,000.00.

Thinking about it, rather than saying that people are “job locked” under Obamacare, it’s more accurate to say that they’re “poverty locked.”  While they can’t move up economically that’s to the $20,000 penalty for doing so, they can move down:  they can take a series of low-paying jobs or, if they really want to, just leave the work force entirely.  After all, that’s already what several million people have done in the Age of Obama.

The other Democrat lie is the implication that this thrilling “no job-lock status quo” can last indefinitely.  In fact, the subsidies that people to have health insurance while holding low-paying jobs or being unemployed come about because other people are generating wealth that the government can take and redistribute.  However, as more and more people find that creating taxable wealth for themselves is a counterproductive proposition (earn a dollar more in pay, pay $20,000 more for insurance), fewer people will be earning the kind of salaries that will fund all the subsidies.  This is the perfect illustration of the Thatcher dictum — i.e., that socialism is wonderful until you run out of other people’s money.

The Democrats can spin the CBO’s prediction as much as they like, but the sorry fact is that it creates poverty-lock or job-loss, and that’s both personally demoralizing and economically unsustainable.  In the end, people will find that they’ve gotten more than they bargained for.  Not only will they be poverty-locked and job-lost, they’ll also be uninsured.

Will Obamacare see America replicate Britain’s early 20th Century slide into irrelevancy?

Victorian women in EnglandWhen I was at UC Berkeley, I had two good professors from whom I actually learned something.  One of them was Sheldon Rothblatt, who then taught a class covering England from the Industrial Revolution to the dawn of World War I.  He was a delightful teacher, able to infuse life and color into what would have been, in less skilled hands, a drab recital of capitalist oppression and Marxist struggles.

Looking back, I realize that Professor Rothblatt, unlike the usual Marxist cohort in Cal’s history department, viewed people as individuals with wants and desires, rather than as mere cogs in an endless struggle between oppressed masses and oppressive upper classes.  Prof. Rothblatt’s recognition that individuals count may go a long way to explaining the answer he gave when someone asked why the Industrial Revolution was petering out in England at the beginning of the 20th Century while, in America, it kept roaring on.

If I remember correctly, Prof. Rothblatt said that the end of the Industrial Revolution in England lay with the working classes.  The problem wasn’t that they were too oppressed.  Instead, between the downward pressure from the class system (“an Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him“), and the rising level of (comparative) luxury brought about by the Industrial Revolution, working-class Englishmen simply stopped trying very hard.  They knew that, no matter the effort they put in, they wouldn’t be able to break through the class ceiling.  Additionally, provided that they weren’t living in abysmal poverty, they had more creature comforts than they could ever have imagined.  So why work?

In America at the beginning of the 20th Century, things were different.  The working classes knew that, with effort, they could rise up and their children could rise up even more.  Heck, John D. Rockefeller went from a very shabby childhood to being one of the richest men in the world.  Andrew Carnegie, the son of a Scottish weaver, did the same.  While most wouldn’t reach those rarefied heights, there was no doubt that, with hard work, geographic mobility, and America’s open class system, a man or a woman, or that man’s or woman’s descendents, could realistically attain middle class or even wealthy status.  In addition, as the original poor gained economically because of the Industrial Revolution, thereby leaving the working class behind, there was a constant influx of (legal) immigrants to provide fresh, hope-filled labor for the factory floor.  Yes, many people fell by the wayside, but even more people ascended American society’s ranks — and that was itself an incentive for continued effort.

America has changed dramatically since then in three very significant ways.  First, we’ve lost our geographic mobility.  I know that sounds funny in a day and age of trains, planes, and automobiles, but it’s true.  We are heavily weighed down by both tangible and intangible assets.  If my husband were to lose his job (God forbid!), and if there were no employment prospects here, moving to find work would be reasonable.  Nevertheless, we would find it incredibly difficult to move.  Every room in our house is crammed with stuff that would have to be sorted, sold, packed, and transported and then, at the other end, we’d have to unpack, re-sort, and probably sell some more.  Unlike people in days of old, who might have had only a few clothes, a Bible, and a cook pot, we have four computers (one for each of us), hundreds of clothes (between the four of us), thousands of books (mostly mine), televisions, kitchen gadgets, appliances, dishes and cookware, cleaning supplies, furniture (too much, since my husband can’t bear to part with old when we buy new), family photographs, art work, knick-knacks — and that’s probably only a partial inventory of the tangible clutter that is a modern life.

A move also requires transporting our intangibles.  We have to engage in the tiresome task of changing our bank accounts.  In the old days, you’d just deposit or withdraw money.  Now the paperwork of setting up a new account to comply with the bank’s requirements, the state’s requirements, and the fed’s requirements can take hours.  We have to sever all our ties to cable companies, phone companies, and utilities, and then recreate new ties at our destination.  We need to change our address with credit card companies and make sure that Amazon ships more clutter to our new address not our old.  As I remember from my last move, it was almost a year before I’d managed to transfer every bit of data from my old address to my new one.

Second, illegal immigration means that our new crop of workers remain as perpetual bottom feeders, stultifying America’s former dynamic of moving from the bottom of the heap up to the middle or beyond.  We give the illegals marginal jobs, welfare, and food stamps, but they are, as their community organizers like to say, stuck in the shadows, something that severely limits upward mobility.  The appropriate course of action for our nation to take, of course, isn’t to grant amnesty, which is an invitation to yet another large batch of economically stultifying illegal shadow workers.  It is, instead, to shut down our borders, deny welfare to illegal immigrants and education to their children, put pressure on companies that employ them, and watch them self-deport.  Meanwhile, if we do indeed need all these workers, we should dramatically boost our legal immigrant quota and enable more people to come here freely and work openly.

Third, and most significantly, we’ve now got Obamacare, which acts as a disincentive to hard work.  John Podhoretz neatly summarizes the key points of the CBO’s most recent report about Obamacare’s effect on employment:

If that’s not startling enough [that the number of uninsured will stay the same or even rise, there’s also the telling projection about ObamaCare’s impact on employment — “a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.”

Overall employment will rise, the report says, but not steady, secure, long-term assured employment. The possibility of securing government-provided health-care without employment will give people a new incentive to avoid it. “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply,” the report says.

Indeed, overall, between 2017 and 2024, the actual amount of work done in this country will decline by as much as 2 percent.

How come? Because of perverse incentives ObamaCare provides in the form of subsidies to some and higher taxes to others.

First, the report says Americans will “choose to supply less labor — given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive.”

Here’s why: Poor people get certain subsidies, which disappear once a worker achieves a certain level of compensation. So it may be better to work less, or not work at all, rather than reach that higher pay level, because the pay increase won’t offset the loss of the subsidy.

For those at the bottom economically who once had dreams of “movin’ on up,” Obama has placed insuperable hurdles in their way:  any incremental increase in wages from working longer hours or at a more demanding (but better paying) job will be offset by a dramatic increase in healthcare costs, resulting in either more work for less money or more work for the same money — neither of which is an appealing option.  Only those workers who are able to make the unlikely leap from poor to rich overnight will be able to bypass this barrier without suffering.

What all this means is that the modern American worker is now situated in the same way as the late 19th century English worker:  Where the English worker knew that the class barrier meant that harder work wouldn’t see him rewarded for his effort, the modern American knows that the Obamacare barrier means that harder work will not see him rewarded for his effort.  Where the English worker was frozen geographically because there were no better alternatives elsewhere (that class thing again), the American worker is likewise frozen, both because Obamacare’s perverse incentives apply everywhere and because moving is just too gosh darn difficult.

Lastly, just as that long-ago English worker had reached a level of comfort that made him willing to accept class and geographic limitations, so too has the American worker reached a fairly comfortable dead end.  He’s certainly not living lavishly.  However, thanks to Obamacare, unemployment, food stamps, and welfare, he’s getting an endless vacation.  He may not be basking on a Tahitian beach, taking in Broadway shows, or touring Europe’s cities, but he’s surfing the internet, talking to friends on his smart phone, and getting high scores on Call of Duty, all while receiving a bi-monthly check from both state and federal governments.  And when this sedentary lifestyle starts to have consequences — everything from carpal tunnel syndrome to life-threatening blood clots — he knows he’ll get free medical care that’s every bit as good as the Cuban medical care that multi-millionaire communist Michael Moore has raved about.

Some of you might be shaking your heads and saying “But no one would want to live that way.  It’s a squalid, marginal lifestyle.”  Well, as I’ve written here before, there are a lot of people who think it a fine way to live.  At the very least, it sure beats working.  For these people, the journey from a poorly paid job to permanent welfare is a much easier trip, both practically and economically, than working harder to make more money, only to see the extra wages vanish into the endless maw that is Obamacare.

While walking the dogs this morning, I listened to Mark Steyn, who was guest-hosting for Rush Limbaugh.  He pointed out that the real sin of welfare isn’t wasted money but is, instead, wasted humans.  As Betty Friedan (of all people) said in a talk I heard 20 or so years ago, there are three ingredients to a quality old age:  strong family ties, strong community ties, and work (i.e., a reason to get home in the morning).  Much as we humans like to do nothing, the fact is that the Victorians were right when they sagely opined that “idle hands are the Devil’s playground.”  Given too much free time, which is what’s about to happen to vast numbers of Americans thanks to Obamacare’s negative incentives, idle hands create tremendous societal wounds as people, rendered meaningless, engaging in destructive or self-destructive behavior.

Many people looking back at the early 20th Century think that World War I and World War II (followed by the loss of India) destroyed England.  They didn’t.  Those earthshaking events were actually the exclamation points on a society that had already run dry by 1914.  Once a society stops striving, it starts dying.  It happened there and, unless we can put the brakes on the slippery slope we’re now sliding down, it will happen here.

 

Jimmy Kimmel launches savage, pointed attack against young people’s ignorant support for Obamacare

I knew that late night talk show hosts were finally starting to see Obama and Obamacare as target-rich environments, but this one still surprised me:

Time will tell if these intermittent bursts of honesty from the Left will make a difference, or if the media’s monolithic hold on the narrative is strong enough to withstand occasional (and probably sanctioned) attacks from outliers.

Using social media to defend the Constitution and the Little Sisters of the Poor

Little Sisters of the PoorA caller to the Rush Limbaugh show today asked Rush how to get the media to change its tune. Rush’s response was that this will never happen. The media is an arm of the Democrat Party and that’s the end of it. Conservatives have to make their case outside of the media, he said. It can be done too, Rush added, pointing to Scott Walker’s success in fighting back an attempted recall and in beginning to make changes to Wisconsin’s hard Left culture.

What Rush left unspoken, since his show ended there, are the practical steps that ordinary people can take to expose other people (Leftists and non-political types alike) to facts and ideas that the media refuses to cover or contemplate. I happen to believe that Social Media is a wonderful way, both to learn what ordinary Progressives think (it’s seldom pretty) and to introduce new ideas to people whose world is contained within the four corners of the MSM.

I had a most illuminating Facebook conversation with a Progressive just today regarding the Obama administration’s full throttle effort to force the Little Sisters of the Poor – a Catholic charity staffed by nuns – to fund abortions.

On Facebook, since I’m fully aware of my liberal friends’ biases, I’m always careful to cite to sources that they belief are reliably leftist. After all, events sometimes force even the Washington Post or the New York Times to be honest about the facts.

This time, I linked to the USA Today editorial stating that the Obama administration has gone too far by attacking the nuns. I figured that, even though USA Today lacks the status of the New York Times (New York Times readers think that they’re the most intelligent and informed news consumers in America), it still has liberal street creds.

Oy, was I wrong! A Facebook friend who used to be a real friend decades ago when we were both non-political, went completely ballistic. He first offered a nasty opinion about the Church. When I politely asked him to back up his views with data, he doubled down on his attacks against the Church and stated explicitly destroying religious people’s political reach has to trump the Bill of Rights.

You’ll notice as you read our Facebook conversation that I was relentlessly pleasant, and that was true despite his frequently offensive statements. I also left on the table several issues that he raised as part of his attack on the church and the constitution. That was deliberate.

It quickly became clear to me that nothing I could say would change his mind. (And it will become clear to you too as you read on.) However, I was mindful of the fact that about 150 other people, almost all Progressives (because of the liberal enclaves in which I’ve always lived) would also be reading this back and forth.

Given the invisible audience I could reasonably assume I had, given that many people have told me that they sign on to Facebook solely to read what I post, I stuck to a very narrowly focused goal. I wanted to provide a reasonable intellectual foundation supporting the nuns’ position. I live in hope that Democrats who are beginning to feel uncomfortable about the administration’s decision to bully nuns will think about what I said. I was therefore worried that if I got too confrontational or started following red herrings with a die-hard ideologue, I’d lose my more important, albeit invisible and silent, audience.

The following is a non-verbatim rendering of my Facebook conversation. I’ve carefully retained the gist of what he and I said, but have changed the words to protect his privacy. He was a jerk, but even jerks deserve privacy. He wrote on my Facebook wall assuming that his identity wouldn’t be broadcast far and wide, and I have to honor that.

So, to set the stage, I linked, without comment, to USA Today’s editorial about the Obama regime’s overreach in its demand that nuns fund abortions and birth control. The following written dialogue ensued.

Him: They shouldn’t get any special treatment just because of their beliefs. None of the rest of us do.

Me: I’m not clear what you mean about “special treatment.” This is the first law ever that’s forced religious organizations and people to fund something that’s doctrinally prohibited.

Him: I don’t get why, just because they’re religious Christians attacking birth control, their beliefs trump other strongly held religious beliefs.

Me: I’m still confused. What are some examples of the government forcing people to act in opposition to strongly held religious beliefs or to fund others to commit those same types of acts?

Him: Okay. It’s not fair that religious organizations are tax exempt, which means I have to pay more taxes, essentially funding them. Lots of states won’t allow gay marriage because these tax-exempt churches have campaigned against it. Also, just because the Hobby Lobby owners don’t like birth control, they refuse to provide it to their employees.

Me: Given how political churches have gotten, you’re right about doing away with those tax breaks. [When I wrote those words, I was actually thinking about how political Leftist churches have gotten, but the point is the same.] Still, your other examples seem to me to miss the point. The editorial is talking about the fact that the government is using its taxing authority to force religious groups or individuals (or business owners) to engage in or fund activities that are antithetical to core belief systems. As far as I can tell, that runs directly counter to the 1st Amendment’s promise that the government cannot interfere with Americans’ freedom of worship.

Him: You’re trying to pick and choose your arguments. Religious people aren’t trying to defund that military. After all, don’t a lot of religions prohibit killing?

Me: [I made the decision here to ignore the red herring about religions and killing.] Your argument ignores the Constitution, which expressly contemplates a military as a core government function. There is a way to change that so as to allow conscientious objectors to refuse to pay taxes designated for the military, but you’d need a constitutional amendment. Unlike funding a standing army as part of the government, though, there’s nothing in the Constitution that mandates that private citizens are entitled to contraception and the morning-after pill, or that other citizens must pay for those services. That means the people and groups opposed to the ACA mandate have the stronger constitutional argument.

Him: The Constitution is irrelevant to this. What enrages me is that powerful people use religion to manipulate and control other people.

Me: I’m confused again. The nuns aren’t manipulating or controlling anyone. They’re asking that the government refrain from manipulating and controlling them by forcing them to pay for something that their religion prohibits. The Church has been opposing abortion and birth control for thousands of years, while the ACA’s demand that all Americans pay for all other Americans’ birth control and morning after pills is just four years old. Isn’t it unreasonable to ask the Catholic church to give up two thousand years of faith just because of the ACA, especially when the church as the 1st Amendment on its side?

Him: It’s obvious that the church never cares about death and suffering until it suits them. At that point, nothing stops the church.

Me: You’re entitled to your opinions about the Church, but it seems to me that, no matter how you look at it, the constitutional edge on this question lies with the Little Sisters and with Hobby Lobby.

At which point he gave up.

My point isn’t that I made the best arguments in the world. I know I didn’t. I also know, as I stated before, that I let a lot of his mean-spirited or uninformed statements go by without comment. Looking at what I said, though, I feel that I succeeded in my initial goal, which was to appear reasonable and to present to passive onlookers solid arguments that might give them food for thought if they dislike seeing the President beat up nuns.

If this is accurate, it’s very revealing about Obamacare’s true goals

Obamacare error 404Earl forwarded me the following email, with the same caveat I’m giving you:  I do not know if the data is accurate — and I’m not going to check.  As with previous emails, I’m passing it along as is in regard to the facts.  Of course, should you investigate these facts, or have first-hand knowledge about them, I’d be delighted if you’d share your information with us.

What Obama-Care is Really About?!

I’m a 54 year old consulting engineer and make between $60,000 and $125,000 per year, depending on how hard I work and whether or not there are work projects out there for me.

My girlfriend is 61 and makes about $18,000 per year, working as a part-time mail clerk.

For me, making $60,000 a year, under Obama Care, the cheapest, lowest grade policy I can buy, which also happens to impose a $5,000 deductible, costs $482 per month.

For my girlfriend, the same exact policy, same deductible, costs $1 per month. That’s right, $1 per month. I’m not making this up.

Don’t believe me? Just go to www.coveredca.gov , the Obama Care website for California and enter the parameters I’ve mentioned above and see for yourself. By the way, my zip code is 93940. You’ll need to enter that.

So OK, clearly Obama Care is a scheme that involves putting the cost burden of healthcare onto the middle and upper-income wage earners. But there’s a lot more to it. Stick with me.

And before I make my next points, I’d like you to think about something:

I live in Monterey County, in Central California. We have a large land mass but just 426,000 residents – about the population of Colorado Springs or the city of Omaha.

But we do have a large Hispanic population, including a large number of illegal aliens, and to serve this group we have Natividad Medical Center, a massive, Federally subsidized county medical complex that takes up an area about one-third the size of the Chrysler Corporation automobile assembly plant in Belvedere, Illinois (see Google Earth View). Natividad has state-of-the-art operating rooms, Computer Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging, fully equipped, 24 hour emergency room, and much more. If you have no insurance, if you’ve been in a drive-by shooting or have overdosed on crack cocaine, this is where you go. And it’s essentially free, because almost everyone who ends up in the ER is uninsured.

Last year, 2,735 babies were born at Natividad. 32% of these were born to out-of-wedlock teenage mothers, 93% of which were Hispanic. Less than 20% could demonstrate proof of citizenship, and 71% listed their native language as Spanish. Of these 876 births, only 40 were covered under [any kind of] private health insurance. The taxpayers paid for the other 836. And in case you were wondering about the entire population – all 2,735 births – less than 24% involved insured coverage or even partial payment on behalf of the patient to the hospital in exchange for services. Keep this in mind as we move forward.

Now consider this:

If I want to upgrade my policy to a low-deductible premium policy, such as what I had with my last employer, my cost is $886 per month. But my girlfriend can upgrade her policy to the very same level, for just $4 per month. That’s right, $4 per month. $48 per year for a zero-deductible, premium healthcare policy – the kind of thing you get when you work at IBM (except of course, IBM employees pay an average of $170 per month out of pocket for their coverage).

I mean, it’s bad enough that I will be forced to subsidize the Obama Care scheme in the first place. But even if I agreed with the basic scheme, which of course I do not, I would never agree to subsidize premium policies. If I have to pay $482 a month for a budget policy, I sure as hell do not want the guy I’m subsidizing to get a better policy, for less that 1% of what I have to fork out each month for a low-end policy.

Why must I pay $482 per month for something the other guy gets for a dollar? And why should the other guy get to buy an $886 policy for $4 a month? Think about this: I have to pay $10,632 a year for the same thing that the other guy can get for $48. $10,000 of net income is 60 days of full time work as an engineer. $48 is something I could pay for collecting aluminum cans and plastic bottles, one day a month.

Are you with me on this? Are you starting to get an idea what Obama-Care is really about?

Obama Care is not about dealing with inequities in the healthcare system. That’s just the cover story. The real story is that it is a massive, political power grab. Do you think anyone who can insure himself with a premium policy for $4 a month will vote for anyone but the political party that provides him such a deal? Obama Care is about enabling, subsidizing, and expanding the Left’s political power base, at taxpayer expense. Why would I vote for anyone but a Democrat if I can have babies for $4 a month? For that matter, why would I go to college or strive for a better job or income if it means I have to pay real money for healthcare coverage? Heck, why study engineering when I can be a schlep for $20K per year and buy a new F-150 with all the money I’m saving?

And think about those $4-a-month babies – think in terms of propagation models. Think of just how many babies will be born to irresponsible, under-educated mothers. Will we get a new crop of brain surgeons and particle physicists from the dollar baby club, or will we need more cops, criminal courts and prisons? One thing you can be certain of: At $4 a month, they’ll multiply, and multiply, and multiply. And not one of them will vote Republican.

Obama-Care: It’s all about political power.

Now, do you see where we are going?

Anti-Staples petition reveals the usual deficient Leftist logic

Obamacare error 404From Obamacare’s inception, its opponents warned that, as written, it would spell the death of the full-time worker in America.  By forcing employers to buy much more expensive insurance than before and, simultaneously, by saying that they need not insure employees working 30 hours a week or less, the law encouraged sensible employers, with an eye to its bottom line, to get rid of as many full-time employees as possible.

Now that Obamacare is becoming a reality, the same people who supported it are discovering what the law’s opponents already knew:  it’s a redistributive policy that drives insurance prices up, destroys doctor-patient relationships, and devastates the economy.  Smart people would attack these problems at the root, by demanding Obamacare’s repeal.  Democrats, of course, attack employers.  A perfect example of this is a petition I received from Change.org:

Staples: Don’t Cut Part-Time Hours Because of Obamacare!

Sue Whistleblower
Petition by
Sue Whistleblower
Framingham, United States

I am writing this petition as an anonymous person, as I fear my employer will persecute me if they knew my identity. My trust in the company I work for has been shaken, as they have enacted a new policy to reduce our hours, and I believe they are not telling the whole truth as to why.

I have worked as an Easy-Tech Representative at Staples, sold countless thousands of computers, protection plans, and services, and have made Staples far more money than they have paid me. I typically work 30-35 hours in a week, and have so for about 9 years now. I enjoy working at Staples, and the staff at my store have come to depend on me. I love my job. I recently got married, and am pregnant with my first child.

However, in mid-December, the company announced to the staff at my store: A new policy of limiting ALL part-time workers to 25 hours a week — with NO exceptions — for reasons of “Scheduling Flexibility”.

This left me heartbroken, as I knew 25 hours a week wouldn’t let me make ends meet, let alone have enough to start a family! I questioned my co-workers as to why they would make such a drastic change. Even the General Manager couldn’t get a straight answer out of the upper management. So I decided to do a little digging, and with the help of the internet, I came across what appears to be the answer: The Affordable Healthcare Act aka “Obamacare.”

I read about how countless other companies were slashing part-time hours to use a loophole in the law: You don’t have to pay for healthcare if your employees don’t work more than 30 hours a week. I also learned that the Aetna medical insurance plan that Staples provided didn’t count, as it didn’t provide enough coverage to meet the minimums.

I was stunned. The TRUE reason was obvious: Staples didn’t want to follow the law and provide better heathcare to its employees. Instead, its giving its part-time workers a de facto pay cut and saving money by using a loophole.

However, there is hope. Other major employers such as Darden Restaurants (owners of Olive Garden and Red Lobster) rescinded similar cuts after intense pressure. Our Government has also delayed the requirement until 2015, giving Congress time to sort things out. Corporations such as Starbucks and H-E-B have pledged NOT to reduce part time hours.

Will you join me in asking Staples to join companies like Starbucks and H-E-B to pledge NOT the cut part time employees’ hours?

Did you catch that wonderful logic?  “I read about how countless other companies were slashing part-time hours to use a loophole in the law: You don’t have to pay for healthcare if your employees don’t work more than 30 hours a week. I also learned that the Aetna medical insurance plan that Staples provided didn’t count, as it didn’t provide enough coverage to meet the minimums.  I was stunned. The TRUE reason was obvious: Staples didn’t want to follow the law and provide better heathcare to its employees. Instead, its giving its part-time workers a de facto pay cut and saving money by using a loophole.”

Let me sum that up:  The law is deficient because it creates a loophole whereby employers can save money by reducing full-time employees to part-time.  Staples is violating the law by taking advantage of this perfectly legal loophole.

Moreover, Sue Whistleblower has conceded that she was getting perfectly good healthcare already.  She nevertheless uses the Orwellian language that the law would force Staples to “provide better healthcare.”  What the law really did was give Staples permission to provide no healthcare at all.  After all, providing health care to the uninsured is what the exchanges are for.

In other words, Whistleblower got quality healthcare from her employer.  When the law made it too expensive for her employer to provide healthcare for everyone, the employer looked in the law for a way out.  The way out is for the employer to reduce employee hours and to dump the employee onto the mercies of the Obama exchanges.

Trader Joe’s explained all of this very well.

Found it on Facebook

Yup. This just about sums up the perversity that is Obamacare. (And no, I don’t know whether it’s true or not that it doesn’t cover hip replacements. The poster is good simply because it makes such a solid point about the inanity of mandatory — “free” — birth control coverage, which isn’t insurance at all but is, instead, pure redistribution.)

Obamacare joke

I’m getting the feeling that a lot of people are signed up for health care, but haven’t yet paid

kaiser_permanente_logoI’m fortunate (for at least one more year) because we get our Kaiser health insurance through my husband’s employer.  I like Kaiser and can highly recommend it for those of you who are searching for new insurance options in Norther California.

But I’m not writing this to shill for Kaiser.  Instead, I’d like to relay to you the important notice it has on its website:

If you enrolled in a Kaiser Permanente health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, thank you for choosing us as your partner in health.

If you applied for a January 1 effective date, you should receive a bill for your first month’s payment in the mail by January 11, if you haven’t received it already. In order for your coverage to be effective as of January 1, 2014, you must pay your first month’s premium no later than January 15, 2014.

Once you receive your bill, you can pay your premium online at kp.org/paypremium or by mail. (If by mail, payment must be postmarked on or before January 15, 2014.)

If you don’t receive your bill by January 11, 2014, please call us at 1-800-759-0584.

We look forward to a long and healthy relationship with you.

Welcome to Kaiser Permanente.

When I read that, it occurs to me that many have chosen, but few have paid.  Or maybe I’m just letting suspicion about the administration’s veracity when it reports sign-up numbers color my perceptions.

Found it on Facebook: Young California man automatically enrolled in Medi-Cal

Covered CaliforniaBecause California’s “Covered California” exchange seemed to get off to a good(ish) start, my Leftist friends on Facebook have been boasting that it proves that, if more states had agreed to have their own exchanges, the federal Obamacare exchange would have been a non-issue.  To which I now say “Not so fast, oh Leftist friends.”

Another one of my Facebook friends is a classic independent:  he’s a young man in his mid-20s, quite brilliant, with a computer degree from a top (way top) school.  Unsurprisingly, despite his youth, he has a very good job with an even better income.  That’s why I accept as absolute truth the message that this young man posted on his Facebook page.  (I’ve edited the message slightly, so as to protect his privacy.  The content is unchanged, but some of the vocabulary is different.)

I opened my mail today and discovered I’d been enrolled into Medi-Cal. I never applied for Medi-Cal, since I have an income and I have health insurance through a private insurance company.  The only thing that I did was to sign up for California’s exchange [Covered California].  I just wanted to compare prices, so I never completed an application.  Worse, now that I’m “on Medi-Cal,” I don’t know what to do to get off again.

This is your tax dollars at work.

Solidarity with the nuns — a tipping point moment?

Lech WalesaRemember back in 1980 when something happened in Poland that seemed little but had enormous consequences?  That was the year that Lech Walesa started to lead the Gdansk shipyard workers.  Their trade union eventually led in a straight line to the Soviet Union’s downfall.  From a trade union, those shipyard workers morphed into an enormous, non-violent protest against the Polish government (a Soviet proxy).

When the Polish government blinked, people throughout the former Soviet Empire realized that the Communist monster was weakening and could be challenged.  Aided by Reagan’s, Thatcher’s, and Pope John Paul II’s moral support, as well as political and financial aid from Western countries fighting in the Cold War, communist bloc citizens suddenly had real hope — not the phony stuff Obama and his media acolytes socialists have always peddled, but real hope that the decades they’d spent imprisoned in their own countries were finally ending.

Let’s call the Solidarity movement a tipping point.

For reasons best known to itself, the Obama administration has seen fit to wage war against these ladies:

Little Sisters of the Poor

These gals, of course, are the Little Sisters of the Poor.  For more than 150 years, this order has been serving the elderly poor.  And when I say “serving,” I mean that.  They aren’t just conduits for funds.  They go out every day and work amongst the elderly poor, especially the ones who are sick and alone.  As you can see from the picture above, the little sisters are mostly elderly themselves.  They are grandmotherly types whose deep and abiding faith carries them to places most people don’t even think about.  And to the extent they do think about them, they cut a check to charity or, when they’re paying their taxes, try to minimize the pain by saying, “I guess it helps fund Medicaid.”

Being good Catholics, the Little Sisters were in the forefront of groups refusing to abide by the Obamacare mandate that they provide insurance for their employees that includes contraceptives and abortifacients.  Aside from the fact that the nuns don’t need either contraceptives or abortifacients, to the extent that they might hire a receptionist or accountant, they weren’t about to condemn their immortal souls by providing those services for her either.

The Obama administration, recognizing that this was a fight it couldn’t win, came up with an illusory compromise:  Religious institutions can sign a slip of paper saying that they won’t buy those “benefits” for their employees.  However, their insurance company must still provide those same benefits for employees.  In that way, said the administration, the nuns weren’t violating their consciences.

Nuns, however, are not as stupid as the Obama administration seems to think they are.  They understand that, if their insurance company must provide those benefits, someone needs to pay for them — and that’s going to be the insured.  In other words, even though the nuns will no longer directly pay for contraceptives and abortifacients, they will still indirectly pay as the insurance company hikes their fees to pay for unidentified “sundries.”  Whether the nuns pay directly, or the insurance company pays on their behalf, the nuns are still paying.

You’d think, at this point, that the Obama administration would have the intelligence to back down.  Nobody, however, has ever accused committed ideologues of intelligence, nor have I ever made the mistake of accusing the Obama administration of having any intelligence greater than a feral manipulative ability, gilded by an adoring and complicit press.  They are in this to win.

The question is whether the public will side with the Obama administration or with the nuns.  The hardcore NARAL crowd, of course, will side with the president and claim that the nuns are just being pointlessly fussy.  You and I, of course, will side with the nuns, because we recognize that they’re not being fussy at all.  If they sign the paper, they are giving their insurance company permission to use their money to fund something doctrinally prohibited and repugnant.

It seems to me, though, that the masses will not like seeing Obamacare used to pummel little nuns who work tirelessly for the elderly poor.  There’s no way that you can paint these nuns as wild-eyed Todd Aikins who believe that pregnancy negates rape.  Since the roll-out, those who have lost insurance and lost their doctors and spent fruitless hours trying to use the exchange have been the face of Obamacare’s victims.  Employers, however, haven’t had a face . . . until now.  These nuns exemplify the villainy of forcing America’s employers to buy insurance antithetical to their values or even impossible for their budgets.

I would love to see nuns across America descend on Washington, D.C., for a “Million Nun March.”  Nothing would put a clearer face on Obamacare’s trampling of individual rights than seeing elderly nuns protesting at the White House.  Arrayed behind them should be priests (of course) as well as Americans of all creeds who believe in religious freedom.  Were that to happen, I think we might see the same tipping point that started in a Polish shipyard a long, long time ago.

Obama tries desperately to run away from Obamacare

Arrogant ObamaRich Lowry wrote such a good post about Obama’s efforts to escape from Obamacare that I’m hard put to find a single paragraph to pique your interest.  Everything is pique-y.  After much thought, though, I offer this snippet to entice you to read the whole thing:

In the great tradition of American civil disobedience, President Barack Obama is defying a law. It’s just one that he himself lobbied for, signed, and lost a house of Congress over. Even Henry David Thoreau would be hard-pressed to understand this one.

The famous dissenter refused to pay a tax because of his opposition to the Mexican-American War and slavery; presumably, though, he would have been willing to comply with the provisions of something called ThoreauCare.

President Obama is in a much more awkward spot. At every turn, he is confronted by the irrationalities and inconveniences of his own health-care law. Not since Cary Grant was chased by the crop duster in North by Northwest has there been such an affecting scene of a man constantly on the run. The president’s tools of evasion are waivers, deadline extensions, reinterpretations, and last-minute demands on insurance companies. Really, any means necessary.

Coordination with the insurance companies is dispensed with, and public notice is spotty. Announcements are sometimes made at night, when everyone eagerly awaits the latest news on how American health insurance will work. It was around 9 p.m. that the administration let it be known that it was partially suspending the individual mandate in 2014 by exempting people who have had their insurance policies canceled. It didn’t even publicly announce its one-day extension of the deadline to get insurance by January 1. This is not just government by diktat, but government by embarrassed diktat.

Read the rest here.

The knowing laugh at Kaiser

Obamacare error 404Sorry for the blog silence this morning, but I’ve been out and about.  One of my stops was at our local Kaiser Optical Center in San Rafael.  The glasses store was emblazoned with signs telling customers that they needed to be patient because the computer system had been upgraded.  The unspoken message was that the opticians were still learning their way around the system.

Being the chatty type, I asked the gal working with me if she liked the new system.  She told me that it’s better because it doesn’t just contain local records but, instead, contains optical records from all the Northern California Kaisers.  I said (and meant), “That sounds like a really good computer system.”

A customer sitting at the next station heard me (I do have a carrying voice) and said, “Yeah, it’s a good computer system if it actually works.”

Everyone around us (about five people) burst out laughing and said things along the lines of “You got that right.”

I may have been wrong, but I thought that I was hearing a spontaneous, shared Obamacare joke.  It could have been just a comment about computers in general or about the Kaiser computer system, but the way the man said it, and the knowing looks it occasioned, seemed to me to address something larger than an update to the existing Kaiser optical computer system.

Another prescient post from the past

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been trolling through my old posts with the idea of putting out another Kindle book, and I’m impressed by the number of my past posts that either predicted today’s political problems or explain them.  As always, I’m not boasting about my exceptional perspicacity.  All of us knew what was going on.  It’s simply that I happen to have written these things down.

My latest foray in the past yielded a post from a year-and-a-half ago about the way a Democrat-run federal government ensures that no one ever takes responsibility for anything.  My starting point was the fact that, after dining at a breakfast spot with two service men, Obama left without paying the bill.  I didn’t fault him for that.  Rather, I faulted his minions, none of whom stepped up and took responsibility for that commonplace inevitability.  It was in that context that I wrote:

The Democrat desire to avoid personal responsibility goes all the way up the ladder to the top man, the guy in the White House.  Obama avoids personal responsibility like the plague and is beginning to get mocked for that, even by his own party.  But why are his compadres surprised?  The entire Democrat ethos is based upon eating the food and having someone else pay the bill — and then expressing surprise when the bill goes unpaid.

To skip to another scenario (this is the scenario equivalent of mixed metaphors), think back to the last CPR class you took.  I always forget the number of pumps and breaths (and understand that they’ve now simplified it down to a Bee Gees song).  What I do remember, though, is that the one thing you should never do is holler out a generic “Call 911!”  This makes everyone responsible for making that call and experience has shown that if everyone is responsible then no one is responsible.  Instead, you have to tag someone.  “YOU, the guy in the black shirt, call 911.”

The same principle of failing to invest specific people with responsibility — and thereby creating a responsibility vacuum — holds true when the government sucks responsibility away from people and distributes it into its vast machinery.  Suddenly, individuals aren’t responsible — and you can’t find the clerk with the cash when you need him.

My sister once worked with a secretary who felt put upon.  No matter what one asked her to do, she came back with a single answer:  “That’s not my job, man.”  Since she was working for a private company, she was fired as soon as the company felt that it had protected itself against a potential wrongful discharge lawsuit.  In the federal world, this same gal would not only have lifetime employment, she’d be teaching taxpayer-funded seminars on avoiding direct responsibility for anything.

I wrote those words long before the Obamacare fiasco revealed itself in its full glory to the American people — and long before we learned that part of the problem was that no one was in charge.  Obama didn’t talk to Sebelius, Sebelius didn’t talk to her people, and the people tasked with the work were pushed aside when they tried to talk to anyone.  For each of them, when it came to taking responsibility, the controlling ethos was “That’s not my job, man!”

An Obamacare parable from Lulu

Lulu wrote an Obamacare parallel that I think you’ll enjoy:

A Jacket Parable

m_0355_light_gray_ziphoodieLet’s say you live in a mild climate and the vast majority of the time the only jacket you need is a plain grey zip up hoodie. So, every year you replace your worn out hoodie for a new one and you are happy. You get it from Sears and it costs about 20 bucks, totally within your budget and meeting your needs.

But there are some people in your community who have really elegant jackets, and then there are some who have no jacket at all, maybe just a vest, or they can borrow a hoodie when they feel cold. Your boss says he has a great idea so that everyone can get jackets. He says that there will be a few changes but that if you like the jacket you have you can keep it and if you like where you buy it, you can continue to go there. So, you agree.

Jacket with rhinestones and furBummer then when your boss says that actually you can’t get your hoodie anymore because it isn’t meeting your needs. You need to get a new jacket that is waterproof, UV protected, warm to -10 degrees Fahrenheit, with rhinestones on the back, a faux fur collar, and a zippable pocket for your cell phone. The cost for this required jacket is $125 and is available only from Neiman-Marcus.

But, “I don’t want all these features,” you cry. “I live in a benign climate. I don’t need a jacket this warm. Plus, I’m a dude. I don’t want the rhinestones or faux fur.” You are told that this is the law. Being forced to get features on your jacket that you don’t want will buy a jacket for other people. You are told you have to go on line and buy the jacket you don’t want. Your simple grey hoodie is confiscated.

Empty refrigeratorYou go on line and the system is down. You try again and again because you are losing your hoodie and will break the law if you have no jacket. You find out that the personal data you entered into the system isn’t protected.

Your boss tells you that you will love your new jacket and that you might not understand enough to realize that your hoodie isn’t a good enough jacket. Meanwhile you can’t buy groceries because your new jacket costs so much.

The End

Appropriate or inappropriate? Public school sends out Kaiser Obamacare education flyer

The principal at the kids’ public high school routinely sends out emails notifying parents about upcoming events, exposures to diseases such as whooping cough, sports victories, etc.  Today’s email, in addition to scheduling and sports information, contained this snippet:

Lastly, Kaiser Permanente has asked our help in spreading the word about a free workshop open to the community about the Affordable Health Care Act and options available for health care coverage.  The workshops will be held this Saturday, December 7, in San Rafael and Petaluma. See the attachment for more information.

Here’s the flyer:

Kaiser Obamacare flyer

Appropriate or inappropriate?