Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Healthcare is next

Steve Forbes on the coming fight over socialized medicine:

Let's clear up some of the myths. Both Medicare and Medi-caid are heavily subsidized by privately insured patients, to the tune of $90 billion a year. Federal reimbursement in these two programs is far below cost, which is why an increasing number of doctors are refusing to treat or are substantially cutting back on the number of Medicare and Medicaid patients they see.

Medicare and Medicaid are rife with fraud. Unlike private insurers, the government refuses to spend real resources on routing out the wrongdoing: overbilling, overtesting and charging for visits not made or tests not given.

The health care industry is 17% of our economy, and we are about to turn it over to the government. The results will be a substantial decline in quality of care, long waits for treatment of chronic or terminal illnesses (if you get treated at all), and a decline in innovation. The Forbes editorial brings up the excellent point that in our current medicaid system, treatment for medicaid patients is often subsidized by patients with private insurance. Medicare/medicaid does not pay market value for treatment, and usually makes these payments late. The result is that health care providers are forced to charge more overall for services -- meaning people with private insurance cover not only their own treatment, but the gap between medicaid and reality.

Another facet of reality that gets ignored when liberals start talking about socialized medicine is that European socialized health systems are in fact subsidized by the US taxpayer through our military involvement abroad. The US heavily subsidizes European defense. Most EU countries have little or no capability to defend themselves and they rely on the US military to do it for them. Yugoslavia in the 90's is the prime example of Europe's military impotence. Instead of spending money on their military, they dump vast sums into various welfare programs.

Forbes does a good job of outlining a free market solution, that not only would provide more people with care, but would improve the overall quality of care for everyone:

--Allow mandate-free insurance policies. True catastrophic health insurance--not the current dollar-for-dollar coverage--is very affordable.
--Permit people to buy health insurance across state lines. Removing such barriers would sharply increase competition.
--Make it easier for small businesses to buy insurance in a pool, whether through trade associations or other kinds of affiliations.
--Equalize the tax treatment of premiums. Companies get a tax deduction for health insurance premiums, as do the self-employed. Why not give that break to employees who choose to buy their own individual policies? They would get a deduction or a refundable tax credit (meaning if they don't have a tax liability they'd get an actual check from Uncle Sam). Many small businesses offer no insurance, or those that do may offer policies some workers find unsatisfactory. These folks should have the ability to easily get their own alternatives.
--Raise limits on contributions to HSAs and on permissible deductibles.

Ultimately we have to foster a culture of responsibility when it comes to health. The effects of a great many health issues - obesity, type II diabetes, heart conditions - can be substantially mitigated, if not eliminated through diet, exercise, and healthy life style choices. Without a sense of personal responsibility towards our health, otherwise avoidable health problems could quickly overwhelm any health care system.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

States' rights, WOOT!

On Tea Party day here in Texas, Governor Rick Perry caused quite a stir. Drudgereport and HotAir reported that he had suggested Texas might succeed. The quote they are referring to:

There's a lot of different scenarios. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot.

Normally, I think HotAir's analysis are pretty spot on, but in this case, I think AP is hyperventilating. Secession talk is pretty typical around here, and it is all really tongue-in-cheek. The annual, and largest, biker rally in Austin is called the "Republic of Texas Rally." Texans are famously loyal to and proud of their state; any wise political is going to heed that sentiment. If it sounds "awful" to out of state ears, then they can go suck an egg for all I care. Personally, I am glad to see someone from our state standing up to D.C. That is his duty as governor. If fending off a challenge from Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the next gubernatorial election is his motivation; it works for me.

There was definitely a strong emphasis on states' rights. "Texans know how to run Texas" as Gov. Perry said. If critics want to interpret that as secession ism, then let 'em. What are they going to do? Have the UN send a strongly worded letter?

Here is the video of his Austin speech:

Tea Party! Yay.

I went to my local tea party; it was a blast. IT looks like nation wide they were a smashing success, though CNN, CNBC and others would like to discount them.

So far Michelle Malkin is the best source with regular updates:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fox News in Decline

The ratings may be up, but the quality of the content seems to be on the way down.

From Victor Davis Hanson:

Footnote. The once insightful Fox News is rapidly devolving into a sort of entertainment circus. That is a tragedy, since the network for years has done wonders in offering an antithesis to the supposedly non-biased biased network news. Each news show now interviews hosts from the other Fox news hours (To save money? Free publicity?). Hawking books (written in short, breezy style, without much analysis) is done on the air rather than as commercials. Anchors show old clips of themselves and invite in analysts to praise their on-air interviews (are they going to be invited back if critical?).

The hosts now constantly blare out their own ratings. Murder and rapine often headline the news in the manner of the local 6PM affiliates. Quiz shows are part of the news; female analysts are almost always either young or blond or usually both, rather than simply insightful. The sober and judicious Brit Hume’s presence is missed. Take away a few top-notch correspondents, and Charles Krauthammer’s sagacity and depth of thinking, and there is increasingly not a lot there. (but I like Neil Cavuto’s business hour and Dennis Miller’s op-eds) All in all, an unfortunate development, since there is no disinterested counterpart to a 60 Minutes or NBC News, and for years Fox offered an invaluable alternative in airing real news deliberately ignored by the mainstream networks.

What is a news junkie to do?

New format

What do you think? Yeah, I am still tweaking the colors a bit. Is it easier to read?

What the heck is Corporatism?

Arguing over whether the "change" we are now experiencing is socialism or corporatism feels like rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic, but, then again, what else are you going to do while waiting for a spot to free up on the lifeboats? So here is a thought provoking column from today's RCM on the subject:

Obama and the Reawakening of CorporatismBy Steven Malanga

But we are entering quite a different age right now, one in which the President of the United States and his hand-selected industrial overseers fire the chief executive of General Motors and chart the company’s next moves in order to preserve it. Conservative critics of the president have said that the government’s GM strategy is one of many examples of an America drifting toward socialism. But President Obama is not a socialist. If his agenda harks back to anything, it is to corporatism, the notion that elite groups of individuals molded together into committees or public-private boards can guide society and coordinate the economy from the top town and manage change by evolution, not revolution.

In a rapid, real time illustration of how badly this social/corporate/whateverism is going to crash and burn, GM (henceforth known as Government Motors) teamed up with Segway to produce the first government concept car. HotAir dubs it the Depressionmobile.

A 200cc 1970's Vespa gets around 80mpg and a top speed in the neighborhood of 60mph. It is 40 year old technology that would kick this things ass. Talk about a giant leap backwards.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Foie Gras Update

Why Won't Geithner Take TARP Repayments?By Investor's Business Daily

Bailouts: Didn't Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner say that it was not the administration's intent to control private companies? Then why is it reportedly reluctant to accept TARP repayments from some banks?

The Ayn Rand Factor

I can't get enough of this topic. Here is an insightful column:

Atlas Shrugged Sales Overturn Policy Calculations
By Robert Tracinski

But the sales figures for Ayn Rand's magnum opus tell us an opposite story. In the midst of this crisis, hundreds of thousands of people are turning to a book that glorifies capitalism.

Meanwhile, where are all of the socialist books on the bestseller lists?

Thus, while Obama has launched the de facto nationalization of two whole industries—finance and automobiles—his administration remains oblivious to the depth and strength of public resistance to socialism in America.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Foie Gras de Banker

“My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

Wow, Obama firing GM CEO, Rick Wagoner, made headlines last week, but he was also busy intimidating financial executives. Less then a week after AIG exec's publicly endured death threats and ACORN mobs being bussed to their houses, Obama is threatening bank exec's with pitchforks. Nice, so much for rule of law. Realising they had made a Faustian deal, some of them even tried to give the TARP money back, and Obama refused it. Politico has behind the scenes details of the meeting:

Inside Obama's bank CEOs meeting

Dimon also insisted that he’d like to give the government’s TARP money back as soon as practical, and asked the president to “streamline” that process. But Obama didn’t like that idea — arguing that the system still needs government capital.

The president offered an analogy: “This is like a patient who’s on antibiotics,” he said. “Maybe the patient starts feeling better after a couple of days, but you don’t stop taking the medicine until you’ve finished the bottle.” Returning the money too early, the president argued could send a bad signal.

A bad signal for whom, Mr President? Might taxpayers be a little annoyed if they found out that TARP money was being crammed down the throats of banks that didn't want it? Let me offer an analogy:

Several CEOs disagreed, arguing instead that returning TARP money was their patriotic duty, that they didn’t need it anymore, and that publicity surrounding the return would send a positive signal of confidence to the markets.

Sorry guys. He's gotcha where he wants ya.

$3.6T shopping spree!

The House and Senate approved largely identical versions of the President’s $3.6 trillion budget with hardly any cuts -- except in defense. The good news is they dropped the idea of taxing charitable giving and refused another $250B in bailout money.

Congress Approves Obama's $3.6 Trillion Budget

There was speculation last week that the Dem’s would have to choose between socialized medicine or cap-and-trade, but that no longer appears to be the case. A draft version of the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009” is working it’s way through House committees.

House Democrats release draft energy, climate bill

The bill by Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts would establish a cap-and-trade program curbing U.S. emissions 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, with a midcentury target of 83 percent reductions of the heat-trapping gases. It also creates a nationwide renewable electricity standard that reaches 25 percent by 2025, new energy efficiency programs and limits on the carbon content of motor fuels, and requires greenhouse gas standards for new heavy duty vehicles and engines.