Socialized medicine and passive-aggressive genocide

China Earthquake

Long ago in China, a boy coming home from school met up with his father, who was carrying on his back a basket holding the boy’s grandfather.

“Oh, father,” asked the boy, “where are you taking Honorable Grandfather?”

The father signaled that the boy should come closer, and then whispered in his ear, “I’m taking grandfather up to the waterfall. If I throw him over the edge suddenly, death will greet him so quickly, it will be painless.”

Aghast, the boy asked, “Why would you do that to Honorable Grandfather?”

“Because I must,” his father whispered back. “Honorable grandfather is too old to help in the field or around the house. Instead, he just sits in the corner, eating our food, drinking our tea, and requiring us to care for his needs. A quick, painless death will be better for everyone.”

The son nodded sagely upon hearing his father’s words. Then, as he turned to continue the walk home, the boy reminded his father of one thing. “Dear father, please make sure to bring the basket back, because I’ll need it for you one day.”

Although I was only around 12 when I first read that story, it resonated with me. Aside from admiring the boy’s cleverness, I was so grateful that I didn’t live in a country in which poor people had to make those kinds of choices. I didn’t realize back then that it would take a mere forty years for my country to creep ever closer to justifying the genocide of the old and the sick.  Even more ironically, I didn’t realize that this ugly choice would come about, not because individual poor people could no longer afford to care for their elders, but because our own government has decided that the nation as a whole should no longer care for its old people.

Old people certainly requiring a lot of care. With every passing year, our bodies become more fragile. While we love seeing videos showing very old people doing amazing physical feats, the reality for most people is that the journey to old age is marked by one bodily system after another breaking down. Our skin’s breakdown is the most immediately demoralizing (“I look so old”), but the real damage from aging happens under our skin, as our joints, muscles, and internal organs just stop working very well. Eventually, every cold has the potential for pneumonia; every fall has the potential to end in a broken hip; every chest pain could be a heart attack; and the joint pains that slowed us down in our 50s can render us immobile by our 70s.

Modern medicine, thankfully, can do a lot to ward off some of aging’s worst effects. Putting aside plastic surgery, which heals the spirit not the body, modern medicine offers everything from quick diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia; to hip repairs so effective that the old person can be home in a day or two, rather than confined to a wheelchair or hospital bed for weeks; to an amazing array of heart treatments, whether pills, pacemakers, bypasses, or transplants; and joint fixes that range from pills, to shots, to surgery, to replacement. All of these are the wonders and miracles of the modern age . . . and all of them are very expensive.

If you’re a free market person, you think that the way to address the expense is through the market place. If you had your way, you would allow insurance companies to compete nation-wide for customers, without thousands of micromanaging regulations but, instead, subject only to a few reasonable anti-fraud regulations.  You would also loosen the FDA’s shackles a bit, recognizing that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and that informed consent goes a long way when allowing experimental treatments on patients with fatal diseases. Doctors too would be relieved of some of the regulatory burdens that bind them, as well as the onerous burdens imposed upon them by insurance companies that are themselves straining under government’s strong hand.

However, if you believe that the marketplace is populated by idiots, and that paradise can be achieved only by putting every person’s health and well-being into expert’s hands, you would (1) make a push for single-payer (or “universal” or “socialist”) health care or (2), if you couldn’t go full socialist, you would push for a government-managed marketplace, one that seems to have private providers but, in fact, has the government dictating all aspects of medical insurance and health treatment. In the latter case, you would then tell the public is that this government-controlled market will force insurers and health care providers to lower costs. In either case, you wouldn’t tell the public that,  when the government dictates completely how the healthcare market must be run, the available money in the healthcare marketplace shrinks rapidly.

In a purely socialist system, the government has no incentive to lower costs, because there’s no competition. And in a government-managed system, as we’re seeing with Obamacare, the regulations are so onerous, and the stifling government control over what should be a dynamic marketplace so incompetent, that prices go up and the system runs out of money.  In either case, the provider is then left with only one solution: rationing.

My point about rationing is not hypothetical. In every country that has socialized medicine, there’s some form of rationing going on. What European countries have done to hide the rationing is to let people see doctors (because then people think they’re getting medical care), while issuing regulations telling doctors that there are certain treatments that, while do-able and available, cannot be given to people in the wrong demographic.

And what’s the wrong demographic? The very old and the very sick. Or in other words, the best treatments cannot be given to the people who need them most but instead, are reserved for those healthy young people who somehow stumble into the wrong disease. Even better, you can avoid treating the young people for the disease too if you argue that the disease’s rarity in their age cohort makes testing wasteful, no matter their risks or their symptoms.

When a government-run system runs into a work load too overwhelming to handle, it does something that would result in jail time for any private care provider: it ignores people to death. Just in the last year, we’ve learned about this passive genocide in both England and America. Both the National Health Service and the Veterans Administration simply stopped treating sick people because it was too much effort or because it cost too much to care for them without running over-budget (or, worse, without running the risk of wiping out bonus funds for the bureaucrats).

Because taxpayers paying for socialized (or semi-socialized) medicine dislike it when care providers give up the pretense of care and just kill people, governments that control access to medicine are always looking for alternative ways to trim the numbers of sick people that the system neither can nor wants to treat. The trend for the last decade or so has been to abandon active genocide (directly killing patients through maltreatment or no treatment) and to push what I call “passive aggressive genocide” — a health care system tells the patients to kill themselves.

The whole “you don’t want to live” push started innocuously enough — and reasonably enough — with those Do Not Resuscitate (“DNR”) directives by which patients tell hospitals that, if they have a sudden death incident while in the hospital, the hospital make only minimal efforts to revive them. The rationale is that, contrary to hospital television shows, most people aren’t miraculously saved by CPR — or at least, most old and sick people aren’t.  Additionally, the process of saving someone from sudden cardiac arrest is quite brutal, involving as it does breaking ribs or ripping the chest open to get to the heart.  Even worse, if only extreme measures will save someone’s life, there’s a good likelihood that the person will have suffered full or partial brain death or will be so frail overall that the life-saving procedure will stave death off for only hours or days, or will result in the person living as a vegetable.

The foregoing are all really good reasons to avoid resuscitation. Especially if one is elderly, it seems infinitely preferable to die peacefully under anesthetic (if something goes wrong), as opposed to having your chest beaten or sliced open, only to die soon after or to linger in a coma.  It may have been malpractice that killed Joan Rivers in the first instance but, if her number was really up, it probably would have been easier had she died on the table than lingered, intubated, catheterized, and covered with wires for several days.  Or at least that’s what they tell us.

Thus, for quite a long time, the medical establishment has told us “Old people, for your own good, if you suddenly die in the hospital, stay dead. It will make you happier in the long run.”  And to be honest, I agree with this.  For various reasons, I’ve seen or heard of a lot of people in their 80s and 90s who ended up terribly brutalized by CPR and who died anyway.  That’s why I have a medical directive.  Even good ideas, though, can be the beginning of a slippery slope, especially in a post-moral society.

For example, what do you do if old people start getting expensive before going to the hospital? Well, one of the things you can do is to have Ezekial Emanuel, the architect of Obamacare explain why it’s utterly useless to go on living past age 75 (which, according to the actuarial tables, is close to the average age of death in America anyway):

Seventy-five.

That’s how long I want to live: 75 years.

[snip]

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.

After explaining why it’s so good to die relatively young in a time when lifestyle choices and available medicine mean many of us can live to be quite old, Emanuel hastens to assure readers that he’s not advocating any policy that actually denies medical services to the elderly. He just thinks that old people should all join in with him and aim for dying fairly young.

Emanuel does have a point that many extremely old people complain about how awful it is to be old. Their brains and bodies are breaking down, they’re often dependent on others, and all the tasks of ordinary life are very, very difficult. What Emanuel ignores, though, is that, even as these people complain about the burdens of age, the vast majority of them still prefer it over death. Given the choice, they heed the Biblical admonition to “choose life.”

This life force is why my father, on the last day of his life before dying from cancer, when asked by a doctor “What can I do for you,” gripped that doctor by the lapels and, in a fierce whisper, said “Make me better.” And this is why a friend of mine who had AIDS, and who had stockpiled all sorts of medicines so that he could commit suicide when it got too bad, didn’t commit suicide despite Kaposi’s sarcoma, pneumocystis pneumonia, giardia, pedunculated lesions all over his body, and every other indignity AIDS could visit on what was once a healthy, handsome body. Instead, he fought to the end.

Contrary to Emanuel’s blithe certainty that, when he’s not as smart and good-looking and active as he is now (ahem), then he’ll just walk away from life with no regrets. I doubt it.

But perhaps I’m wrong to doubt that the Emanuel’s of this world are incapable of weakening our will to live. In societies as different as the Bushido warrior culture in WWII Japan and the radical Islamists in today’s world, we see that culture can destroy a human being’s innate life force. Despite our (and every other living creature’s) will to live, we humans can be talked into ignoring that instinct. We can be taught to value death because it serves our society. In Japan, young men who were taught to deny their life force died in kamikaze attacks on Americans; and practically every day, in every place around the world, some young Muslim boy or girl straps a few bombs to himself and goes off to die for Allah.

It’s therefore entirely possible that, if Emanuel and his cohorts spend enough time praising premature death, people will start to buy into it. And you know what?  I don’t even have to phrase this in terms of a hypothesis.  If I just cast my eyes across the Atlantic, I can see the future Emanuel desires.  Europe has had socialized medicine since shortly after WWII and has been pushing euthanasia for decades now.

WaPo columnist Michael Gerson has been looking at what’s happening in Europe.  In today’s opinion piece, he uses the Belgian government’s willingness to grant a serial killer his requested euthanasia as a springboard to discuss Europe’s reverence for medical suicide.

Gerson begins by noting that Belgians opposed to the prisoner’s euthanasia request have pointed out that killing a prisoner who is serving a sentence for murder is remarkably like having a death penalty, which the Europeans find barbaric.  Pro-euthanasia people dismissed this charge. To them, euthanasia is the ultimate act of individual freedom and self-determination. You have the power to cease being and the government will just make sure your decision gets carried out as painlessly as possible.

Put another way:  Europeans will gladly kill you if you’re a good person who has harmed no one, but they draw the line at killing a bad person who has murdered others.  Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it?  Anyway, back to Gerson….

The whole “your body yourself” shtick that pro-euthanasia types in Belgium boast about sounds very nice, of course.  Gerson, though, points out the problem with this “free will” attitude, and the euthanasia system isn’t set up for total free will.  In fact, it’s set up so that the old and the sick are subtly, and not so subtly, told that they’re a drain on society. Gerson explains that the Belgian government has all sorts of legal hurdles before allowing someone to commit legalized suicide and that all these hurdles turn on proving that the soon-to-be-assisted-suicide is mentally or physically defective.  This negates the whole “anyone can cease to live if he wants” and starts to have an icky Nazi quality about it, except that this time the people march themselves to the gas chambers:

[T]he determination of certain societal classes that are helped in committing suicide is hard to separate from a judgment about the worth of those classes. The right to suicide adheres, in this case, not to all human beings but to sick and apparently flawed human beings. And such a “right” begins to look more and more like an expectation. A mentally or physically ill person can be killed, in the end, because they have an illness. A qualification can slide into a justification. This is a particularly powerful social message since people with cancer or severe depression sometimes feel worthless, or like a burden on their families, anyway. It is pitifully easy to make them — with an offer of help — into instruments of their own execution.

And suddenly, there you are . . . right back at the Chinese boy looking at his grandfather in the basket and warning his father that the father’s day will come too.

I’ll close with an anecdote I’ve told before because it deserves repeating. Many years ago, when Holland first enacted its euthanasia law, NPR ran an interview with a Dutchman who explained why euthanasia was a good idea in Holland, while it would be a terrible idea in America.  The secret to Holland’s euthanasia, he said, was socialized medicine.  The man explained that, in America, where medical costs could bankrupt families, those with terminal illnesses could be actively or passively coerced into turning to euthanasia in order to save their family’s finances.

Thus, both this Dutch man and the NPR host who interviewed him were both certain that Americans, when given the choice, would cheerfully throw Grandma from the train in order to save some money.  Europeans, the Dutchman explained, with their cradle-to-grave care, would never be pressured into killing themselves.  The beneficent state would pay all the medical bills, so money would not be an issue when it came to life and death decisions.  The only thing that would matter in Europe, said this Dutchman, was the terminally ill person’s wishes.

I, being a good liberal back in the day, enthusiastically endorsed what he had to say.  Clearly, euthanasia was a dreadful idea in America, where money was God, and people would be tempted to slip arsenic into their dying child’s broth in order to save the college fund for the next kid in line.

The intervening years since I heard that radio interview have revealed that the Dutchman was absolutely and completely wrong. In America, people have willingly bankrupted themselves to save beloved family members.  Mammon becomes meaningless when an extra treatment might give your child or a young mother a few more days, weeks, or years of life.  People have hearts and souls.  They connect to others, especially to those in their families.

The reality is that, when it comes to end of life decisions, the state does not love you.  It really does want you dead when you start costing too much.  If it can’t kill you with the blatant hard sell, it will try to get you to kill yourself by reminding you relentlessly that your best years are having and you should do yourself and society a favor by offing yourself.  Passive-aggressive genocide in a nutshell.  (And somewhere in Hell, a bunch of Nazis are thunking themselves on the heads, saying “Why didn’t we think of that?”)

Hobby Lobby: Trying to get DemProgs to understand what it means

HobbyLobbyStowOhioImpressed by the ill-informed hysterical reaction that my “real me” Facebook friends had to the Hobby Lobby decision, I explained to them that the decision is very narrow and will not (a) ban contraceptives across America and (b) lead to anti-gay lynch mobs. Here’s a slightly revised version of my Facebook post, which still failed to satisfy their paranoia and inability to understand the law.  I’ve also added a little hypothetical that might open their minds.  (No, don’t say it.  It’s improbable, but not impossible, that a DemProg mind can open).

The Hobby Lobby decision addresses one thing only:  whether an administrative rule conflicts with a long-standing law.

In 1993, a Democrat Congress passed, and a Democrat president signed, the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (“RFRA”). RFRA holds in relevant part that the federal government may act in a way that substantially burdens the exercise of religion only if it can establish that its action is the least restrictive means of advancing a compelling government interest. Nothing in the Act distinguishes between individuals and corporations.

The administrative rule at issue is the edict from Health and Human Services (“HHS”) mandating that all corporations affected by Obamacare must provide their female employees with unlimited access to all contraceptives available on the market.

Hobby Lobby is a closely-held, family-run corporation. The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, has a strong Christian faith, and is open about the fact that it runs its company in a way that is consistent with the family’s religious beliefs. These beliefs affect every aspect of the way in which Hobby Lobby is run, whether it’s the fact that even the least of Hobby Lobby’s employees gets paid an hourly amount that’s almost twice as much as minimum wage, or the fact that many of the store’s craft products come complete with little crosses attached to them.

Hobby Lobby has long provided comprehensive insurance for its employees. As part of this insurance, it makes available to its employees 16 different types of contraceptives. Moreover, Hobby Lobby has never said (a) that it would stop covering contraceptives entirely or (b) that contraceptives should be outlawed in America. Instead, it made a very narrow protest to the HHS mandate:  It objected to the fact that the mandate would force it to offer, not 16, but 20 contraceptives to its employees.  The additional 4 contraceptives are or can be used as abortion-causing agents.  The Green family’s religious faith means that it is adamantly opposed to abortion, which it considers murder.

The HHS mandate put Hobby Lobby in an impossible position: It could either use its own money to pay directly for abortifacient drugs or it could pay $475 million a year in penalties. It was this dilemma, it argued, that constituted a substantial burden on its exercise of religion under RFRA. Put another way, Hobby Lobby argued that it faced a Hobson’s choice:  directly fund something it opposes on core religious grounds or go bankrupt.  On these facts, the Supreme Court agreed that Hobby Lobby had satisfied the “substantial burden” requirement under RFRA.

There was something else that the Supreme Court accepted as given: For purposes of the ruling, the Supreme Court accepted as true HHS’s claim that forcing corporations to pay for their female employees’ contraceptives (simply because the Obama administration says it’s unfair not to) serves a compelling government interest.

(As an aside, I was thinking about this “unfair” point. According to my DemProg friends, the demand that corporations pay for contraceptives arises because it’s not fair that women have to shoulder these costs, while men don’t. Let’s put aside the fact that the DemProgs can’t explain why it’s fair that corporations must bear contraception costs.  The really important point is that, if the reason to force corporations to shoulder the burden is so that women don’t have to pay more in costs related to their unique biology just because they are women, corporations should also be required to pay for tampons, sanitary pads and, most importantly, chocolate, all of which are costly menstrual necessities that burden women, not men.  Additionally, corporations should be entitled to learn which employees have gone through menopause, so as to scale back on those uniquely feminine costs.  And now back to the Hobby Lobby case…)

With the Supreme Court having accepted that Hobby Lobby had proved that it was being significantly burdened and that HHS had proved a compelling government interest, the sole issue before the Court was whether HHS was using the least restrictive means to advance its compelling interest. Based on this single, limited issue, the Supreme Court concluded that HHS’s birth control mandate did not meet the RFRA test. The Court had a very simple metric for proving this conclusion: HHS itself handed the Court proof that there was a less restrictive way to serve this compelling interest.

HHS created this less restrictive contraception mandate when religious non-profit organizations objected to paying directly for contraceptives and abortifacients. HHS said that religious institutions could avoid the mandate by signing a document stating that their religious beliefs prevented them from complying with the contraception mandate. With this document, the onus shifts to the insurance company to apply the mandate.  (The Little Sisters of the Poor are challenging this workaround on the ground that it cannot apply to self-insured entities.  Likewise, even if the religious entity has a third party insurance company, the insurance company will simply increase its rates, with the result that the money for the contraceptives and abortifacients will still come from the corporation that has religious objections.  The Supreme Court’s eventual decision should be interesting.)

With HHS having already figured out a less intrusive method for getting “free” contraceptives to women, the Supreme Court held that the same workaround that applies to religious non-profits can apply equally well to closely held corporations if the owners have a sincere belief in a core religious issue. And that’s it. That’s the whole Hobby Lobby decision.

My Facebook explanation was clear enough that those who have been brainwashed into being terrified by the Hobby Lobby decision had only two defenses left. The first was that religious fanatics will use the decision to justify myriad things such as banning birth control nationwide, revoking the rule that corporations must pay for women’s contraceptives, and refusing to hire gays (a fear based upon this letter from a religious leader who clearly hadn’t read the Hobby Lobby decision himself).

The second defense, which I’ll address in the remainder of this post, was that the entire decision is wrong because, as a predicate matter, it treats a corporation as a person. “Corporations aren’t people” my DemProg friends cry, as they’ve been programmed to do since the Citizens United decision.  In other words, Hobby Lobby has no conscience and therefore cannot be treated as a conscientious objector.

I came up with a hypothetical scenario — a probable hypothetical scenario — that should have DemProgs insisting that, yes indeedy, corporations can and should be people — or, at least, Leftist corporations can and should be people.

The year is 2026. Since 2020, Republicans have majorities in Congress and a president in the White House. The wars in Syria and Iraq long ago merged, starting a conflagration that constantly threatens to spill over into every region of the world. The result is the Islamist caliphate equivalent of the Cold War, with the U.S. trying to put out small Islamic fires all over the world in order to de-fang the Sunni and Shia monsters without having to engage them directly on American soil.

The military is more central to American life and survival than ever. Defense costs have therefore skyrocketed, so Republicans went looking for new ways to equip the military. To this end, they noted that America’s business class was arguably benefiting most from the military’s efforts, because businesses were able to carry on and profit primarily because the military kept the Islamists far from American shores. It therefore would be logical for corporations to subsidize a significant part of the war effort.

Based upon this reasoning, in 2022, the Republicans successfully passed a new law, known as the Act for an Affordable Military (“AAM”). The Acts’ supporters affectionately call it “Adopt A Marine.” Its detractors refer to it disdainfully as “America’s A Monster.”

AAM goes far beyond traditional military funding, which relied upon tax revenues funneled to the Pentagon. Instead, AAM directly engages corporate America as an essential part of equipping the American military. Immediately upon the Act’s passage, the Pentagon was tasked with creating rules under AAM (a 3,200 portmanteau document written in vague and broad terms) that would shift onto corporations primary responsibility for equipping troops.

The Pentagon immediately issued a rule mandating that henceforth every corporation will be responsible for outfitting Marines with everything a Marine at war could need:  uniform, pack, weapons . . . the whole megillah.  Moreover, the number of Marine Gear Kits (or “MGKs”) that a corporation must assemble will be equal to the number of employees the corporation has. Thus, a corporation with ten employees must put together 10 MGKs, a corporation with 50 employees must put together 50 MGKs, and so on. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2012 Obamacare decision, this kind of . . . ahem . . . “tax” (i.e., forcing taxpayers to purchase a product, even if they don’t want it themselves) is perfectly legitimate.

Corporations that fail to comply with the MGK mandate will be assessed an annual tax equal to $10,000 per MGK, with no maximum cap. That means that, if a corporation with 50 employees refuses to put together its designated MGKs, it will pay an annual penalty of $500,000. A corporation with 30,000 employees could find itself on the hook for $300,000,000 annually.  Again, the Supreme Court’s 2012 Obamacare decision legitimized this “penalty” for failure to “pay” the “tax.”

Something else has changed now that the Cold War against the new Caliphate is being carried out by Republicans:  The DemProg peace movement is resurgent. Two of the most active peaceniks, Sol and Luna Giggleweed started out in their home office in 2020 (when Republicans finally re-took Congress and the White House following Elizabeth Warren’s ill-fated four-year presidency), designing, creating, and marketing bumper stickers, window signs, mugs, toilet paper . . . anything that could advance the pacifist cause.

With business booming, the Giggleweeds incorporated, calling their new business “Pacifists United Together Zone” or “PUTZ.” They now have 50 full-time employees working in their green-compliant factory in San Francisco’s SoMa district.

Thanks to the Giggleweed’s business acumen, you can now walk into any trendy store and buy one of PUTZ’s $25 king-size mugs emblazoned with “Live Peacefully or Die.”  If that’s too expensive, for $10 you can get a set of 10 bumper stickers reading “Peace : The New Caliphate Wants It Too.” PUTZ also manufactures the usual complement of sweatshirts with peace signs on them; posters urging people to “Visualize World Peace” or “Pray for Israel’s Destruction”; and the ever-popular Naughty Underwear set, in both multigender and cisgender versions, with “Make Love, Not War” glitter-stamped on the crotch.

For the Giggleweeds, peace isn’t just a gimmick to make a motive; it’s also their core ideology. Both Sol and Luna attended the Bush-era anti-war protests, and they oppose Republican-led wars with every fiber of their DemProg beings.

Significantly, even the Giggleweed’s faith is driven by their pacifism. They are ardent members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (aka “PCUSA”).  In 2018, PCUSA’s governing board formally voted that “We, the PCUSA, oppose all wars, except for those wars dedicated to Israel’s destruction.”

Nobody quite knows how it did it, but PCUSA asserted that this vote reflected a core religious principle derived from the Books of Samuel, 1 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  PCUSA’s revised doctrine is immune to challenge thanks to the tattered remnants of the First Amendment (which, in 2018, was amended to state that “Except as to matters of human sexuality and gender identityCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .”).

PUTZ employees are as devout as the Giggleweeds. Indeed, many of them came to the Giggleweed’s attention during the Bush War protests.  Without exception, all of the employees belong to PCUSA or affiliated faiths. Their strong anti-war beliefs (unless, of course, the war is waged against Israel) infuse every aspect of their lives.  They are grateful to work at PUTZ, a corporation with a business model that puts pacifism on the front line, so to speak.

For these reasons, the Giggleweeds and their PUTZ employees were horrified when AAM became law and, even worse, when the Pentagon explicitly passed to corporations the responsibility for providing MGKs. PUTZ therefore joined with PCUSA and other like-minded churches and mosques, which are also on the hook for MGKs, to object to the mandate that they directly invest in MGKs or pay a substantial penalty to help fund the “Republican Anti-Caliphate War Machine.”

The Republican establishment was unmoved by anti-AAM protesters. Instead, it took great pleasure in reminding the protesters and litigants that, thanks to agitation from this same cadre of people in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, Congress in 2016 (Year One of Elizabeth Warren’s disastrous administration) amended RFRA to state explicitly that it does not apply to corporations, regardless of the corporation’s size or whether it’s publicly traded or closely held. There is no way out for the Giggleweeds and PUTZ: they either put together MGKs for the Marines, or they pay $500,000 so that someone else can put the MGKs together for them.

To the Giggleweeds and their ilk, the Republicans have only one thing to say:  It’s always nasty when your own chickens come home to roost.

John Oliver manages to pack all the Left’s stupid Hobby Lobby arguments into one “comedy” shtick

HobbyLobbyStowOhioBecause my husband is an ardent Jon Stewart fan, he’s also a John Oliver fan and instantly started watching Oliver’s new solo HBO show, Last Week Tonight.  Moreover, because John Oliver appears to be slightly less doctrinaire than Stewart (which means that NPR ludicrously tries to cast him as a centrist), not to mention obviously more intelligent, I occasionally watch too in order to get the view from the Left.

Sometimes, Oliver manages to get it right, as happened last night when he pointed out how ridiculous it is for Obama to announce that the U.S. will invest $500 million in Syria’s “carefully vetted moderate militias.”  Oliver also got deservedly positive press from across the political spectrum for his rant against the FCC’s proposed net neutrality rules.

Most of the time, though, Oliver’s just a garden variety DemProg with a nice British accent.  His most recent show was no exception.  For example, Oliver went on a lengthy attack against Uganda’s anti-gay laws.  I hold no brief for anti-gay laws, but I find the DemProgs’ recent obsession with them disgustingly hypocritical.

For decades, sharia-governed countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc., have had the harshest anti-gay laws in the world.  In the Palestinian territories, while the laws aren’t officially on the books, they’re routinely carried out, with the result that gay Palestinians are desperate to get to Israel, where they’ll safe.  Why so desperate?  Because in the Muslim world, the punishment for homosexuality is death and Muslim governments and militias aggressively execute those sentences.

Despite the egregious, and well-publicized, human rights offenses against gays in the Muslim world, DemProgs have been absolutely silent.  They may love gays, but not enough to challenge Islam over the issue.  I’ve searched, but cannot find any evidence that either Jon Stewart or John Oliver ever addressed homicidal Islamic homophobia on Jon Stewart’s show.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

What this means, of course, is that DemProgs will get exercised about homophobia only when it’s safe to do so.  Neither Russians nor Ugandans are going to hunt DemProgs down and decapitate them as the end to any argument.  Moreover, the attack on Ugandan homophobia gives DemProgs a nice double whammy, because it allows them to make blanket condemnations of Christianity while they’re at it — again, knowing that the attacked Christians will pray for their souls, rather than behead them.

Uganda reflects the DemProgs’ usual moral cowardice and hypocrisy.  The attack on the Hobby Lobby decision is worse, because it’s profoundly intellectually dishonest.  You can watch the video and then I’ll address the two worst logical fallacies packed into just a few minutes of Oliver’s mildly amusing and completely wrong rant (Warning: Not Safe For Work):

Oliver’s preliminary attack is made directly against Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, a closed corporation owned by Mennonites, that makes parts for kitchen cabinets. Oliver acknowledges that Hobby Lobby is a tightly held family corporation, that the owners are open about the integration between their faith and their business, and that their faith leads them to treat their employees exceptionally well, and to be extremely charitable. Of course, Oliver cannot end on that final note, so he then crudely attacks Hobby Lobby for selling products that customers can put to obscene or dangerous uses.

Oliver then accuses the Conestoga Wood owners of hypocrisy because they don’t want to pay for drugs and procedures that take a human life. He makes the nonsensical argument that their products can be used to kill people, so that they should have no standing to argue that the government cannot force to kill.

Both these arguments are red herrings, meant to district the audience from the intellectual failing in his core argument.  That argument, which flows from his direct attacks on Hobby Lobby and Conestoga sounds so reasonable on its face that many will miss how dishonest it is:  Oliver claims that Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga’s objections to the Obamacare birth control and abortifacient argument indistinguishable from the usual complaints people make about government expenditures:   “What these companies are arguing is that the sincerity of their beliefs should allow them a line-item veto over federal law. But government is not an a la carte system what you can pick and choose based on your beliefs.”

Having said this, Oliver then shows a short montage of people saying “I don’t want to pay for” such things as “Israel policies,” war, and “Mexican prostitutes.”  The audience laughs uproariously, understanding that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are just more whining taxpayers, indistinguishable from others who object to paying taxes to fund American policies.

Oliver weaves these topics together so skillfully that someone who isn’t paying attention might miss the fact that there’s a difference between tax dollars being pooled together and spent on a variety of things (and more on that later) and a government mandate ordering people to open their wallets and pay directly to the purveyor of something they find religiously objectionable. The two things are entirely different, with the latter being a direct affront on an individual’s sensibilities. (And, although Oliver would prefer to ignore this fact, closely held corporations are a business structure through which individuals operate.)

As an aside, and one that gives even more weight to Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga’s objections, one can make a very good argument that most of the federal government’s tax dollar expenditures vastly exceed the Fed’s mandate. The Founder’s understanding was that tax dollars would be used for traditional government operations: defense, transportation, a functioning judicial system, public health, etc. Under this reading, those Americans who object to non-traditional government expenditures are correct. But most certainly those who object to being forced to pay for a product that clashes with core doctrinal sensibilities are correct under both the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which is the law the Supremes used in deciding the case) and the First Amendment.

 

Found it on Facebook: People are beginning to catch onto the scope of the Obamacare fraud

obama-doctor-needleNo matter where you are in America, the definition for fraud is pretty consistent: Making intentional misrepresentations to people in order to induce them to change their position to their detriment and your benefit. Since October 1, growing numbers of Americans are realizing that they have been the victims of fraud on a spectacular scale, thanks to Obama and the Democrats.  That’s why it’s so ironic that Republicans have suddenly decided that Obamacare is here to stay.

As an example of people’s growing disaffection, I offer a Facebook thread from true blue Marin County. In order to protect people’s privacy, I’ve changed their names and slightly altered wording so that a computer search cannot tie this post to their Facebook accounts. Subject to that non-substantive massaging, the following is an entirely accurate replay of a post a Marin friend put up this morning, followed by comments from friends and neighbors (myself included):

Unhapppy Customer: My Blue Cross insurer is now the worst. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am, because I used to get wonderful insurance from this company. Thanks, Obamacare!

Friend 1: Oh, dear. That’s my insurer too.

Friend 2: I get my insurance from [a non-Blue Cross company]. I make too much money to get an Obamacare subsidy, but I cannot afford very good coverage. I make too much money for Obamacare, and not enough to afford really good coverage. I just had an outpatient surgery the other day, and it’s going to cost me almost $9,000.

Unhappy Customer: I’m really sorry to hear that, Friend 2. I also don’t get subsidies, so I have to pay for everything. The promise was free preventative care, but that’s not what’s happening. Instead, I’ll have to pay out-of-pocket if I want to see my long-time doctors, because none of them are in the Blue Cross network.

Friend 3: I couldn’t agree more. I used to like my Blue Cross Plan. Under Obamacare, though, almost none of my medications are covered. Worse, my deductible has gotten so high, it’s the same as being uninsured for most things.

Friend 4: It wasn’t the recession that killed America’s middle class. It’s Obamacare that’s doing the job.

Bookworm: It’s shocking that, back in 2009, people actually believed the government could mandate vastly more coverage (a lot of which people don’t want), plus huge subsidies, while simultaneously lowering everyone’s premiums by $2,500 per year, not to mention promising that they could keep their doctors and their hospitals.

It’s especially amazing that we were supposed to believe all this could happen when it was overseen by the same state and local governments that destroyed Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and that gave us the wonders of the DMV.

The con should have been obvious, but everyone was so swept away in the rapture of the moment, they couldn’t or wouldn’t acknowledge the problem.

Since I put the above into this post, someone added the usual comment insisting that we should go to Medicare entirely.  She backed off, though, when I pointed out rampant fraud in Medicare (do we really want more of that?), as well as the fact that those countries that have single payer have better access but worse outcomes. I then suggested to everyone in the thread that the open market, where consumers are more in touch with costs — a marketplace without layers of employers, insurance, and government regulations — could lead to both better service and lower costs. The person in favor of Medicare actually thought that the open market wasn’t a terrible idea.

I’ll keep you posted if any other interesting comments pop up on that Facebook thread.

Another Obamacare problem: Not all the people in the operating room are going to be covered by your policy

Obamacare error 404The Marin Independent Journal is something of a joke as an investigative paper.  People in Marin read it, not to get  high-end analyses about news and policy, but, as is true for all small community  newspapers, to find out what’s going on in their neighborhood.  Sometimes, though, what’s going on in the neighborhood is a sufficiently important issue that it deserves to be broadcast widely.  It is to the IJ‘s credit that it’s bringing to its readers’ attention yet another problem with Obamacare, and not one I’ve heard discussed elsewhere; namely, the fact that, when you go in for surgery, even if your doctor is on your insurance plan, the anesthesiologist, whom most people first meet only within a couple of hours of surgery, may not be.

The IJ’s report starts with the story of Marianne Michael, a local Marin woman preparing for back surgery.  More savvy than many medical consumers, Michael knew that the anesthesiologist wasn’t actually part of her surgeon’s practice group, and that she would receive a separate bill.  Before surgery, therefore, she decided to do a little investigation to find out if her insurance would pay her the anesthesiologist:

Much to her surprise, Michael discovered that Anesthesiology Consultants of Marin was not in her network. Michael has also attempted to determine whether other medical groups serving Marin General are covered by her insurance, without much success.

[snip]

Michael said information on Anthem Blue Cross’s website indicated that the Marin Hospitalists Medical Group was also outside Blue Cross’ network of providers for Covered California customers.

[snip]

The dawning of Obamacare has resulted in confusion over which medical groups supplying ancillary services to the hospitals — anesthesiologists, radiologists, pathologists and hospitalists — have contracted with Blue Shield and Anthem Blue Cross to serve their new Affordable Care Act customers. The insured with these plans must pay substantially more for any service provided by a doctor outside their insurer’s network of providers.

Once the confusion is lifted, it’s clear that Obamacare’s newest customers are screwed (emphasis added):

In fact, Blue Shield’s exclusive provider organization (EPO) customers in Marin must pay 100 percent of the cost for out-of-network services.

To recap:  People in Marin, like most previously insured Americans, are accustomed to the fact that, if they’re insured and if they have surgery, their insurance pays for it all:  surgery, hospital, and anesthesiologist (subject to whatever deductible they owe).  In the new regime, though, they’ll be lucky if their policy pays for the surgeon and hospital.  In addition to the deductible (usually higher under Obamacare than before), they’ll find themselves out-of-pocket, often to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, for the anesthesiologist and other independent service providers affiliated with their surgery.  Surprise!!!

Moreover, thanks to Obamacare, this disastrous, expensive, stealth change isn’t limited just to new “Covered California” (i.e., Obamacare network) customers.  Instead, it applies to everyone, regardless of whether they purchased insurance in the remaining marketplace or through Obamacare:

It isn’t just people who purchased insurance through Covered California, the state’s health care insurance exchange, that stand to be affected by the coverage muddle. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were required to offer plans that mirror their Covered California plans. These plans have the same network of providers as the Covered California plans. Michael said she purchased her insurance directly from Anthem Blue Cross.

(One presumes that the sole exception to this is those lucky enough not to have been amongst the 160,000 people kicked off of California’s Kaiser network.  If you’re a Kaiser member, Kaiser offers everything in-house.)

Bad as the above is, according to the IJ, it doesn’t stop there but, instead, gets even worse for Californians (the vast majority of whom enthusiastically supported both Obama and Obamacare).  Thanks to an Anthem Blue Cross snafu, customers pursuing the list of networked doctors were misled to the tune of almost 1000 doctors who were erroneously identified as being part of the Anthem Blue Cross Obamacare-compliant network.  In other words, vast numbers of those who signed up with Anthem Blue Cross because they were trying to keep their doctor (and didn’t Obama promise that they could?), ended up with a policy that probably costs more; that almost certainly has a higher deductible; that, through fraud or negligent misrepresentation, doesn’t allow them to keep their doctor; and that doesn’t cover significant parts of their costs.

Obama was boasting about the 8 million who signed up.  He’s going to regret that boast, because it appears that America is soon going to have 8 million dissatisfied customers, not to mention the millions more who, even though they didn’t sign up, have been left with insurance contracts that, by law, must be just as bad as those offered under Obamacare.

One wonders how much longer Marinites and other Blue Californians can maintain the cognitive dissonance that tells them that Obama is the best president ever and that Obamacare has bent the cost curve down, bringing affordable, high quality health care to everyone.  On a daily basis, the reality of their own lives is proving that all of this is a lie.  Also, one wonders just how craven (stupid? corrupt? evil?) Congressional Republicans are when they say that Obamacare is here to stay, and that they are powerless to revert America’s health care back to a free market dynamic.

(And please don’t get me started on the House GOP’s promise to pass amnesty.  Just let me say that, if I had a Republican representative in the House, I would be on the phone to his office every single day letting him know in the strongest possible terms that I would do everything within my power in his district to destroy his political career and to make sure that, should he ever set foot in his district again, he couldn’t get a job as dog catcher, street cleaner, or McDonald’s clerk, all of which forms of employment are way too honorable for him.)

 

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.