Odd Citizen

Odd Citizen
An Odd Citizen’s Search For Vanishing Freedoms

Monkeys Manage Arizona’s Fiscal Affairs

April 16th, 2010

Earlier this week I started to prepare an article about Arizona’s government spending, observing that over 20 years the population has grown by 80+% while the state government’s expenditures have tripled. As a result, per capita spending has risen from $500 to $803, a 60% increase. So then I sought to figure out where the extra money was going. No luck. Arizona’s budgets and government expenditures are a black box. The web site published by the state is virtually useless, providing no useful detail at all, and no useful historical data for comparisons.

A comprehensive report describes government spending transparency via. web sites in each state. Arizona ranks at the bottom of that list with a virtually useless website. The only states ranking worse than Arizona were those having no web sites at all.

At this week’s tax day tea party I was able to confront two Arizona legislators, asking why this shouldn’t or can’t be corrected. State Representative Vic Williams, a purportedly conservative republican opined that: (summarizing)

The creation of such a web site would be impossibly complex and expensive. He thought it would cost millions of dollars and wouldn’t work anyway given the complete mess that exists between the state’s incompatible and obsolete computer systems. And he says various departments are constantly swapping allocations and spending in such nimble ways that there is no way to it can be accurately accounted for.

I asked Rep. Williams if this wasn’t evidence of a serious management problem that should be corrected. If spending is, indeed, so chaotic as he claims,then there is not only no transparency, there is no control or accountability either. He shrugged and excused himself.

Later on I confronted State Senator Frank Antenori with the same question. Senator Antenori stated that the state does, indeed, have a web site that provides department level data, but to get details of what the money is actually spent for (staffing levels, salaries, pensions, benefits, equipment, and detailed by program, etc.) I’d have to request the information from each department. He thought this was sufficient transparency — so I’m sending him a link to the survey, above.

Combining the blasé attitude of at least these two legislators toward informing citizens of what actually goes on in the government with the miserable opaqueness of these operations, it is no wonder that Arizona finds itself in fiscal difficulty. The state’s fiscal house resembles the monkey house at the zoo — but at least that has an outside view.

(caption: Arizona bureaucrats who manage the state budget)

Sen. Antenori wanted me to congratulate him for his role in reducing the budget this year by a claimed 20%. But I can’t even figure out whether the budget has actually been passed and signed by the governor. Also, I’d ask the Senator: a) What about the proposed 17% increase in sales taxes on the ballot next election, and b) What percentage growth in spending occurred each of the past five years? How was this extra revenue spent? And finally, having claimed a 20% reduction, I’ll congratulate him when he hacks off another 25% from the remaining budget.

And don’t you dare tell me this would jeopardize education and public safety.

Blocking Obamacare Now

March 30th, 2010

An encouraging article by Dick Morris in BigGovernment.com points out that repeal of Obamacare is likely impossible as long as the Sun God is enthroned. He’ll veto it. However, Morris points out that the recently passed bill is an “authorization” for spending. Until congress passes an “appropriation” bill nothing can be actually spent. So the goal is for Republicans to gain a majority in at least one branch of congress. This will allow them to stop Obamacare in its tracks until such time as Republicans gain control of the White House — then Obamacare can be repealed.

However, nothing will be easy. Undoubtedly the appropriation bill will be attached to something hard-to-vote-against, like national defense. But the possibility of blocking this monstrosity early on is nonetheless encouraging. And this, combined with the potential for favorable Supreme Court rulings may just save us from the disaster.

Little Tyrannies

March 22nd, 2010

We’re tied in knots about a lot of big government tyrannies like nationalization of the health care industry and student loans, nationalizing banking and automobile manufacturing, attempts to regulate CO2 emissions, obesity nannyism, socialist education programs, and massive new taxes. But like the weather, there’s little we can do directly and immediately to resist these big things.

But as government at all levels attempts to control more of our lives they do so by building bureaucracies. By their very nature these bureaucracies generate annoying little irritations and petty regulations. For example, when you go to the dentist or the doctor’s office you’re presented with a sheaf of small print paper having to do with your “medical privacy rights.” Now why I have to sign a form certifying that I have read about my privacy rights (when the doctor’s office maintains the information) — that’s a mystery to me. So I ask the receptionist what dire consequences will fall upon me if I refuse to sign? She says, I’ll just put down “refuses to sign” and attach the papers to your file. I have now struck a small blow against the jack boots of government tyranny.

The same goes for the census form. They can hound you to supply information you don’t consider a constitutional requirement, but short of water-boarding they can’t really force you to talk or fill in the form. There are penalties for supplying false information, but if you simply refuse to lift a pencil or talk, then what?

Martha Stuart and others learned a painful lesson. They were jailed for “lieing to the government.” The principle here is: Don’t ever, ever say anything to any government official. They can’t force you to say anything. They can and will use anything you do say to screw you, so shut your mouth. Omerta is the key.

The income tax code has become the main mechanism for government enforcement and thuggery. With health care mandates we will be expected to perform ever more involuntary servitude filling out government forms and being file clerks in our own lives. Save every receipt and tickie — that’s the way to avoid fines and possibly jail. As for me, I’ve simplified my life. I save nothing and still comply with the tax code by taking a standard deduction. When audited I simply conceded and paid but said nothing. It was far cheaper overall than spending my life as an unpaid government flunkie clerk. It may not work for everyone, but it will for many of us.

As a business owner during the heyday of the “energy crisis” and a related mania over “pollution controls” I was frequently pestered by demands that I fill out questionnaires about toxic runoff from my office parking lot (I didn’t have one) or fuel consumption by my fleet of vehicles (I didn’t have any) or workplace hazards from toxic chemicals I used to produce computer software. My policy was to completely ignore these pests. The questionnaires and demands went directly to the garbage can. I know that no government agency would take any more initiative than to send another request (which also was canned), and that the forms if returned would just end up in files somewhere, never to be seen again.

The moral of this story is that we can and should cease being intimidated into complying with petty, bureaucratic annoyances. If enough of us did this, it would send a true message to government that we’re not going to put up with the crap they dish out.

Even if non-compliance probably won’t slow down the bureaucracy’s dead-headed dishing out of annoyances, it does make one feel better.

Madam Speaker: The President … Our Glorious Leader?!

January 28th, 2010

The start of every State of the Union speech begins with the grave announcement that the “supreme one” has arrived. “Madam Speaker: The President of the United States of America,” he gravely intones. And then the clapping can begin.

What he should say is: “Madam Speaker: The Chief Bureaucrat of the United States Government.” That, after all, is the president’s actual role. The congress makes the laws, the president manages the bureaucracy. The United States is not led by its president nor by its congress. These are the servants of the people, not their masters. We Americans don’t want nor do we need leaders in federal high office. We are not a club, not a corporation, not a ball team. We are individuals who go about our own business in spite of government, not because of it.

Did I somehow get this wrong? Are we a “people” organized and directed by a “leader”? Do we march about doing the work of the nation? Do we have a “national purpose?” Do we have “national goals?” I say nonsense, BS.

Live Free or Die.

Once I Was a Libertarian

January 21st, 2010

For more than a decade I’ve been registered as a Libertarian voter. Before the last election I participated in the local Libertarian gatherings. I’ve contributed money to the Libertarian party and voted for Libertarian candidates. So you could argue that I’m a Libertarian.

Before my Libertarian affiliation I was, and still am at heart a Goldwater Republican. I believe in small, limited government operating within limited means. I believe that people have responsibilities as well as rights. I am a free market capitalist. I believe that government has no business regulating morality, religion, or personal habits. And above all, I am an unabashed patriot. I am proud of America’s accomplishments, which are the fruits of individual enterprise and freedom. I believe in peace through strength and the global interests and responsibility of the U.S.A. I believe that freedom is a fundamental right for all people and I support our country’s advocacy of freedom worldwide.

My reason for registering as a Libertarian years ago was that the Republican party was behaving just like the Democrats and taking for granted my support and the support of other registered Republicans like me. The only way to get some attention was to leave the party. I had the belief that the Libertarian party stood for “less government and more freedom.” That is a philosophy I could enthusiastically support. I had hoped to find a party that would advance an agenda of freedom and work against the leftward drift of the country under both Republicans and Democrats. Especially now, as the Obama led socialists go charging irresponsibly and mindlessly to the left, effective resistance is needed.

The Tea Party movements of the last year have been the most honest and genuinely effective tools to fight against these destructive socialist policies and programs. But where has the Libertarian party been with respect to these grass roots activities? The party has been absent, silent, and null.

During this period of socialist threats to the very essence of our country’s democracy I want to actively resist this leftist tide. While party politics is about getting “our guys” elected, a very small minority party getting their guys elected does nothing to hold back the onslaught.

The current Libertarian party is an inward looking café club. In addition to housing some civil liberties and small government advocates, it also consists of pacifists, anti-war leftists, Pat Buchanan isolationists, xenophobes and protectionists, and sundry drug legalization and gay rights advocates. Strangely, with such a mix I’ve observed very little active debate within the party — they’re just “Not Democrat” and “Hate Bush.”

The Libertarians simply complain about the similarity between Republicans and Democrats, pleading for support of “their guys” while ignoring the current reality that the only true force holding back the deluge is the Republican party. No matter how lame and even complicit this party has been in the past, it is now resisting the Obamafication of the country. The Libertarians not only do nothing, advocate nothing in specifics, but field a candidate in Massachusetts who did nothing to block the Democrat/Socialist agenda. The only blocking action that made sense in Massachusetts was to ensure the victory of Scott Brown. A vote for the Libertarian candidate in Massachusetts, Joe Kennedy, was a wasted vote.

Kennedy himself said it in an interview quoted below:

Kennedy said he believed he was pulling would-be Coakley supporters because his campaign received over 120 emails on election day alone from “people who were going to vote for Martha Coakley that decided to vote for Joe Kennedy,” compared to one such e-mail from the Brown side.

“We are getting all of the individuals who would never ever vote for a Republican, people who pro-gay rights, people who are antiwar, that don’t want to see Martha Coakley (win),” he said.

The idea “that the third-party candidate splits the republican vote,” Kennedy said, is “the biggest lie in politics, and it has been for years.”

So what was about Kennedy’s campaign that appealed to disaffected far-left elements among the Coakley democrats? What futility. He got less than 1% of the vote. And is Scott Brown a suitable symbol of the Tea Party movement? Who knows? But we do know that his election has made a significant difference nationally. It is vitally important for the Harry Reid Democrats to be blocked. This was a moment calling for action, not ideology.

So what do we do to be effective? It’s clear that the simple horse-race logic of party politics, “just elect more or our guys,” is by itself a waste. It takes a willingness of “our guys” to stand up for principles to make a difference. Likewise, to stand alone on a street corner and preach the gospel makes little or no difference in power politics.

Of course what I or you do as individuals won’t sway the larger political winds. In a democracy we each have only one vote. But we do have choices to make and ways to amplify our voices. We can run for office, donate to political campaigns or become advocates of policies we believe in. I concluded long ago that the influence of policy makers, writers and broadcasters was stronger than that of elected officials. In the long run the direction of political winds is most influenced by what people read, see and hear. The politicians are followers, not leaders.

So I’ll continue to blog, argue and donate to organizations I think will make a difference. I may re-register as an independent or I may rejoin the Republicans with the hope of having some influence while they are weak and disoriented. But I’ll say goodbye and good luck to the Libertarians. I guess they aren’t now and never really were my party.

The Right Tool for Budget Trimming

January 18th, 2010

Government budgets need to be hacked, not trimmed. Pictured below is what the seller, Husqvarna, calls a “traditional multi-purpose axe.”

This is the correct tool to use for reducing government budgets down to a practical size. Whole departments need to be eliminated and their employees fired.

Let’s start with the following. Can someone tell me what “services” the following Federal Government departments provide for you personally? Would their disappearance cause you any real hardship? Note that none of these are constitutionally authorized or even permitted Federal Government activities.

Department of Education ($63.5 Bil.)
Department of Energy ($24.7 Bil.)
Department of Commerce ($8.2 Bil.)
Department of Labor ($54.2 Bil.)
Department of Transportation (71.1 Bil.)
Health & Human Services (70.4 Bil.)
HUD (38.5 Bil.)
EPA (7.1 Bil.)
NASA ($18.1 Bil.)
NSF ($6.0 Bil.)
EPA ($8.0 Bil.)
SBA ($22.8 Bil.>

Completely hacking off these departments and activities would reduce the budget by $393 Billion, a good start, but only 13% of the total budget.

When I advocate hacking off 85% of the federal government’s agencies and make a challenge to identify personal consequences I always get the retort, “But what about the national parks?” OK, let’s talk national parks. The Department of the Interior runs the national parks. The Department of the Interior costs the U.S. tax payers 11.5 Billion per year. The budget spends $2.1 Bil. on national parks, 18% of the total Interior Department budget and 0.07% of the total Federal Budget. So I’ll grant you the 0.07%. We’ll transfer this function to the new National Parks Operations Agency, which will contract out the parks to private business operators. They’ll do the job better and for less money. But let’s eliminate the rest. HACK IT OUT.

A few more agencies that need the axe treatment are:

Homeland Security (37.6 Bil.)
Veterans (48.4 Bil.)
Corps of Engineers (4.7 Bil.)

Constitutional Departments:
Office of the President (0.4 Bil.)
Judicial (6.3 Bil.)
Legislative (4.7 Bil.)
State (38.3 Bil.)
Treasury (12.5 Bil.)
Other (7.2 Bil.)

Some Homeland Security activities are needed, particularly with the threat of Islamic Terrorism. But not 37.6 Billion worth. So let’s cut that in half. Veterans and Corps of Engineers are necessary obligations, but they too can do with a 50% haircut each for savings of $90.7 Billion.

Constitutionally mandated activities such as the Judiciary, legislative and office of the president, can be trimmed at least 25%, saving $38.1 Billion and no Federal Budget should have such a large “Other” (it must have no purpose to describe it) so HACK IT and save another $7.2 Billion.

That leaves Defense and entitlements.:

National Defense ($600 Bil.)

Social Security ($660 Bil.)
Medicare ($420 Bil.)
Medicaid & SCHIP (210 Bil.)

Net Interest ($240 Bil.)

The Entitlement Mess: Combining Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid/SCHIP adds up to $1.29 Trillion. These are supposed to be paid for by so-called payroll taxes. But in fact, the money collected (budgeted at $850 Billion for 2009 but actually $803 Billion, down 5.5% from budget) is immediately spent, leaving a deficit of ($1.29 Trillion – 803 Billion=) $487 Billion. So what is to be done about this?

My proposal is to have an plebiscite in the form of: “Which of the following do you prefer?”

A. Stay with the present Medicare/Medicaid/SCHIP program and double or triple the current FICA taxes, including so-called employer paid portions to 35% of income making these programs viable for an unknown future period. In voting for this option you understand that the U.S. will lose its current standard of living and become a third world economy with almost universal poverty – no exceptions for you.

B. Privatize Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid making each program optional and relying on private charity to provide for those who “fall between the cracks.” In so doing, over time, eliminate $1.29 Trillion from the national budget. By voting this option you understand that, although the country will become immensely richer due to a vastly stimulated economy, you will have additional responsibility and duties, and failing these you may some day have to rely on the charity of others.

C. OPEN FOR SUGGESTIONS — this is a vital issue.

This leaves National Defense, a $600 Billion program ripe for some axe work to trim it down to what is actually needed for the country’s defense and to back up its international interests. A reduction of $200 Billion should do the trick, leaving $400 Billion in the budget.

In keeping with the 33% reduction in National Defense, we’ll reduce the budgets of all other remaining departments by a third as well.

After a while, the Interest portion of the budget withers, so we’ll just leave that one alone. After all, we’re not Argentina.

After the hacking the non-entitlement budget looks something like this:

Office of the President ($0.3 Bil.)
Judicial ($4.7 Bil.)
Legislative ($3.5 Bil.)
National Defense ($400 Bil.)
State (28.5 Bil.)
Treasury (9.4 Bil.)
Homeland Security ($18.8 Bil.)
Veterans ($24.2 Bil.)
Corps of Engineers (2.3 Bil.)

Total Budget: $491.7 Billion. We’ve hacked off $529 Billion. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

But we still face a reform of the $1.29 Trillion entitlement mess. This can only be solved by a plebiscite as suggested, above. If it is not solved then we’re doomed to poverty and serfdom.

To place this into perspective, the last time the Federal Government spent about a like amount ($504 Billion) was in 1979. The country had a population of 225 million. By 1989 the budget stood at $1.1 Trillion, double that. The population had risen to 246 million. The cold war had just been won, so we were still in maximum cold war defense mode. The budget had a $152 Billion deficit. The 2009 expenditures amount to $3.0 Trillion with a $400 Billion deficit. The population of the country is now 300 million. We’ve gone from spending $2,300 per capita in 1979 to $4,479 per capita in 1989 to $10,000 per capita in just 30 years. In spite of the Reagan economic boom and the cold war peace dividend, the Bush-Clinton-Bush governments have put the country into a terrible jam. What Obama intends to do to us is frightful.

Note that without the entitlement mess the Federal Government would have to collect “only” $1,430 per capita to finance the government. Entitlements add $4,300 per capita for a total of $5.730 per capita or ($17,190 for a family of 3). The current burden is $10,000 per capita ($30,000 per year for a family of 3). But this whole article uses 2009 budget figures because 2010 is so wildly uncertain. With the Obama/Pelosi/Reid vision of the future it looks more like a complete wipe-out. Just give all your money to the Feds and they’ll decide how to spend it until the whole country collapses.

And this doesn’t even touch on the fiscal mess the individual states have brewed up for themselves. (Maybe more on this later.)

The moral of this story is: Trim the budget with an axe, and vote on the proper future handling of entitlements. It can’t go on this way much longer without drastic reforms.

Cold Fixed With AGW!

January 5th, 2010

Gosh, it’s cold out there. Record breaking arctic cold blankets the U.S., Europe and Asia.

But don’t despair. Relief is nigh. Just crank up all your SUV’s and Coal Fired Power Plants. Fill the atmosphere with enough CO2 to stop that cold with good old AGW.

UPDATE: Al Gore’s doing his part. You can too!

No Respect for Muslims

January 2nd, 2010

The Reuters headline says, “PARIS (Reuters) – Youths burned 1,137 cars across France overnight as New Year’s Eve celebrations once again turned violent, the French Interior Ministry said on Friday.” The perpetrators are described as “youths.” Some youths. Those Frenchie kids are really violent monsters, or maybe they just don’t like cars.

From “Times Online”Why 112 Cars are Burning Every Day one gets the part of the story that Reuters tries to hide.

The figures are stark. An average of 112 cars a day have been torched across France so far this year and there have been 15 attacks a day on police and emergency services. Nearly 3,000 police officers have been injured in clashes this year. Officers have been badly injured in four ambushes in the Paris outskirts since September. Some police talk of open war with youths who are bent on more than vandalism.

“The thing that has changed over the past month is that they now want to kill us,” said Bruno Beschizza, the leader of Synergie, a union to which 40 per cent of officers belong. Action Police, a hardline union, said: “We are in a civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists.”

These are not just “youths.” These are radical Islamists.” why hide the plain truth?

Meanwhile in Denmark there is an attempted murder of the cartoonist who depicted Mohammad in a bomb-turban. Remember this?
These guys just can’t resist an excuse to commit murder and mayhem. The police have refused to release the name of the “foreigner” who they captured in the act.

The Reuters PC approach, “just don’t mention it and it will go away because you don’t want to irritate irritable Muslims” is idiotic. The Muslims will do whatever they want to do. It is only when they realize the harm they’re doing to their own cause and respectability that they might crack down on the bloodthirsty radicals in their midst. For example, if all Muslims were banned from flying on airlines, now that would cause some self examination among the Allah faithful. They don’t have their own airlines, do they? Why let them hide behind a false wall of PC driven “respect?” Muslims will gain real respect only when they force their own to abide by the basic standards of decency, tolerance and humanity that we infidels expect from our own.

We can’t do it for them.

Pork is Corruption. How to Fix It.

December 31st, 2009

OINK! OINK! isn’t funny any more. This isn’t pork, it’s corruption of the worst and most blatant kind. It should get congress members jailed, not just ridiculed.

Here are examples of some of the $4.2 Billion of earmarks added to the grotesquely bloated $636 Billion defense budget.
From Fox News

In all, Congress added in 1,720 pet projects, including:

∙$5 million for a visitors center in San Francisco
∙$23 million for indigent health care in Hawaii
∙$18 million for the Edward Kennedy Policy Institute in Massachusetts
∙$1.6 million to computerize hospital records in Oakland
∙$47 million for anti-drug training centers around the country
∙$20 million for the World War II Museum in Louisiana
∙$3.9 million grant to develop an energy-efficient solar film for buildings
∙$800,000 for minority prostate cancer research
∙$3.6 million for marijuana eradication in Kentucky
∙$2.4 million for handicap access and a sprinkler system at a community club in New York

Our wimpy Sun God President Obama promised to veto any bill containing such earmarks. He lied! Again.

So why do our elected representatives engage in this criminality? They do it for votes. There are voters and campaign contributors behind every one of the above earmarks. They’re all done for the “good” of someone. Why would anyone argue against these good works?

Can it be stopped? Good question. I propose the following reforms to get control of our Federal Government:

  1. The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is fully enforced by the Supreme Court, throwing out the bogus use of “Interstate Commerce” as an excuse to regulate and corrupt anything and everything. All existing legislation relying on the expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause shall immediately become null and void.
  2. Congressional bills are required to cover only a single subject with individual votes on each bill.
  3. Every bill requiring expenditure of money must specify its gross total cost and include a tax provision to fund the spending. Detailed budgets shall be the responsibility of executive department heads who will be held personally responsible for every line item of their budget.
  4. No bill, including any amendments, may exceed 50 pages of 10 point text printed on 8 1/2×11″ paper with 1″ margins.
  5. Any member of the legislative body considering a bill may object to a lack of clarity in the bill’s language. In which case the bill will be sent to the nearest (private) high school for re-drafting before a vote is allowed.
  6. Congress shall be allowed to propose no more than 100 bills per legislative year. (That’s 5,000 pages total.) After 100 bills have been voted upon, Congress shall be sent home to face the voters.
  7. All bills involving expenditures shall expire after five years, after which they must be re-introduced within the 100 bill limits above.
  8. Congress shall pass no law or regulation that does not apply equally to itself as to other citizens.
  9. Service as a congressional representative is a privilege, not a career. There shall be no retirement program for members of congress other than Social Security (if it isn’t repealed).
  10. Unionization of government employees should be outlawed. All employees serve at the pleasure of the head of their department and may be dismissed an any time for any reason. Department heads are personally responsible for all acts or failures of their department.

Short of revolution and a new constitutional convention it would be difficult to implement these reforms. But that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to limit government power and political corruption.

Political Pork is Poison.

Dear Mr. Democrat Representative

December 20th, 2009

I’m sending this plea to my Democrat representative, Rep. Raul Grijalva, who has voted for the health care takeover against my ardent advice.

Dear Rep. Grijalva,
You’re acting like a push-over. Look, Ben Nelson and Mary Lanerieu got lots of boodle for their districts. What did you get for our district? Nada! You need to tell your congressional leaders that you’ve changed your mind about the health care bill, and you won’t change it back until they pay you off, send mucho moola and mountains of goodies to your district. Don’t be a pansie. Fight for the goodies. That’s what we elected you for.

Odd Citizen

Some People Like AGW

December 16th, 2009

Minnesotans for Global Warming brings us this holiday cheer:

Another Hatchet Job on Our Wealth and Freedom

December 11th, 2009

The Pelosi-Democrats have done it again. They’ve passed a bill that is designed to hog-tie the U.S. free market to the detriment of us all. This is like Sarbanes-Oxley, the hastily assembled monstrosity that was supposed to address the problem of corporate misconduct, but which instead imposed an ugly burden on small and rapidly growing businesses by bureaucratizing corporate governance. The new, so called Financial Oversight Bill reaches out its tentacles to regulate everything from payday lenders to the operation of hedge funds and private investment companies. I’ll have to check with my bookie to see if he’s affected too. The House passed the bill with no Republican votes and 27 Democrats voting against it.

Obviously the Democrats in Congress are blaming the current economic situation on the alleged misdeeds of private finance and industry. But the current situation is demonstrably not a failure of regulation or too little regulation. It is the result of politically motivated government efforts to tip the mortgage market to favor those who couldn’t afford houses, to keep interest rates too low for too long, to force banks to make no down payment loans to opportunists and deadbeats, and to entice Fannie and Freddie into buying packaging and reselling securitized mortgages, among other misdeeds. It was then blown into red-hot fever pitch by the shouts of “fire in a crowded theater” by Bernanke and Paulson. And the regulators either couldn’t see the problem because they were incompetent and lazy, or they saw the problem and let political considerations keep them silent. Why should we think that additional regulators would be any more effective, competent and alert than the dunces we already have?

Let’s hope the Senate comes to its senses and kills this socialist cancer before it metastasizes.

What is needed is a citizen’s regulatory agency which would have the duty and the power to take a hatchet to government programs, regulations and agencies that are incompetent, lazy and unneeded. This would eventually eliminate about 80% of the existing government activities, reinvigorate the economy and make us all freer and happier. We wouldn’t even miss the rot that would be hacked out.

Of course Geithner, Cox, Frank and others would have to pay their taxes and penalties, others would go directly to jail, and Obama, Reid and Pelosi could step down to the local level and resume their work as meddlesome liberal busybodies employed by homeowners’ associations, and our congress could become part-time.

Yes, I’m dreaming, but wouldn’t that be an improvement?

More Scientists Call for Honest Review of AGW

December 8th, 2009

The American Physical Society is being split by a petition being circulated by some of its prominent members. Please take time to read an article about this here.

To summarize the article, it appears that about half of the members wish to revoke a statement by the society that supports the AGW hypothesis of the UN-IPCC. The society’s president won’t honor the petition or discuss it with its circulators. I’ve read other blogs in which the circulators of the petition are vilified.

It will be most interesting to follow this case and see if science can overcome politics for a thorough, unbiased, honest review of the politicized climatologist’s work.

On Breast Cancer, Unemployment and Warfare

November 21st, 2009

The hoopla about breast cancer screening recommendations masks a basic and important difference between private health and “public health.”

The public health people study health in terms of statistics. If a test saves one life in a thousand but costs everyone who takes the test $100, then one life is lost but at a cost of $100,000. It may be someone’s logical conclusion that the risk of one life isn’t worth the overall expense of all those tests.

Taking the same example from a private health viewpoint, each of these 1,000 people might consider $100 a small price to pay for early detection of a life threatening disease, or the reassurance of knowing they are healthy.

What we are seeing in the socialized health care bills in congress is the attempt to define health care in the “public health” mode. So the government’s “Preventative Service Task Force” recommends fewer tests while individual doctors recommend the private health alternative. If the Democrats have their way by shoving socialized medicine down our throats a lot of people will die based on rationing due to the public health approach. In fact, pages 1150 and 1189-1190 of the senate bill specify that this same committee’s recommendations will be used to provide or withhold health services.

Unfortunately, this kind of public statistical vs. individual approach applies to all too many if not most of the things government does. The public approach to reducing unemployment, for example, is based on statistical aggregates, the rate of unemployment and tries to bludgeon the rate down. But statistical rates don’t bludgeon. They are aggregates of individual conditions. And it is only at the individual level that the aggregates such as the unemployment rate can be changed.

Even where we assume that an aggregate is needed to get things done it isn’t true. An army is an aggregate. You send an army to fight your enemies, but the fighting is done by individual soldiers, not by “the army” or even by generals. A good general occupies himself primarily with the task of making sure his soldiers have the wherewithal, including his best strategic judgment to beat the enemy. But the general and the army don’t kill the enemy, the soldiers do.

This all seems simple and sensible to me. Health, employment, economic growth, conservation, even warfare are individual efforts without which nothing much gets done.

“Public Health” is a health hazard.

Hasan’s Al Quaida Association

November 8th, 2009

From British newspaper, the Telegraph, we have this:
Fort Hood shooting: Texas army killer linked to September 11 terrorists

I doubt this article would appear in a PC U.S. newspaper. It implies that a Muslim was preaching terrorism at his mosque (how odd, how un-PC), and that the mass murderer, Nidal Malik Hasan, may have been influenced by this to commit an act of Jihad.

Now that Hasan is off the ventilator, I say waterboard him!

Split the Country?

November 8th, 2009

Yesterday afternoon and evening I spent hours upon hours listening to CSPAN’s broadcast debate and vote on the Pelosi health care legislation from both parties. In addition to having my eyes glaze over after the 999th uttering of “the gentleman from” and “the distinguished gentlemen” it was hard to discern the purpose of the speeches. Each side, with few exceptions, repeated talking points, over and over again. In one speech with substance, that of John Boehner, the Republican leader, sections of the bill were cited specifically and criticized. Interestingly enough, the chairman had to issue the order “Members will take seats and cease conversation.” It was equivalent to my old math teacher shouting “Shut up and sit down!”

The overwhelming lesson of the evening after a 220 to 215 vote to adopt the Democrat’s measure was one of complete division. Only one Republican voted for the bill. Between that and the obvious disconnect of speeches it was as if the two parties represented two separate countries.

The Democrats argued that “the poor,” “the children,” “the uninsured,” “the disadvantaged,” “the working poor,” etc. required the intervention of government to protect them from the rapacious insurance companies and medical profiteers that threatened them with an early death for lack of “affordable” health care coverage. One representative got up and said (lightly paraphrasing), “Most people aren’t responsible enough to buy their own health insurance, so the government must do it for them.”

The Republicans argued that the bill would destroy a working health care system, bankrupt the country, and destroy a freedom we all enjoy, the ability to control our own health care. They further observed that the 1,990 page bill would impose onerous regulations, high taxes, and vast new bureaucracies. They offered a simpler bill aimed at what they consider the root causes of high medical costs. That bill was promptly defeated. Five-minutes were allowed for this vote. (An anti-abortion amendment to the Democrat’s bill was given a 15-minute vote window — I wonder why?)

With all the talk, I didn’t hear a single representative ask the two questions that matter most. 1) What Constitutional provision permits the Federal Government to take over the health care industry? and 2) Do the American people really want government control of their personal health care?

The divisions are so deep and fundamental that maybe the country should split into two or more entities, one socialist and the other free.

Allahu Akbar My Donkey!

November 7th, 2009

Mr. Obama warns us about jumping to conclusions. The press, CBS, NBC, ABC, et al begin to paint Major Nidal Malik Hasan (who yelled “Allahu Akbar” as he gunned down and killed 14 soldiers and civilians and wounded 30 others) as a “victim” of cultural insults and stress. One would expect nothing less from these leftist politically correct sources.

But the U.S. Army should have no such excuse. It is becoming abundantly clear that the army hierarchy was aware of Hasan’s radical Muslim leanings. And I suspect but can’t prove that the army was reluctant due to political correctness reasons to do anything about Hasan’s continued participation as an officer. But political correctness makes no sense at all when the army is fighting a war against radical Muslim fanatics, Al Queda and the Taliban. To allow such a man as Hasan to continue wearing an officer’s uniform or even continue in military service is, under these circumstances, irresponsible. The army has a duty to identify and preemptively dismiss such people as security risks.

And this wasn’t the only case of Muslim fanatics as military members committing mass murder. Remember the case in 2003 of the unit in Kuwait waiting for deployment to Iraq — and the soldier (Sgt. Hasan Akbar) who tossed grenades into tents killing two officers and wounding 14 others. I presume he, too, yelled Allahu Akbar. He was tried and sentenced to death. I wonder if he’s still living? Have there been other similar cases covered up for politically correct reasons?

Wake up. This is not a “man caused contingency operation,” this is a war against mass-murdering Muslim fanatics, the likes of which do not belong in the U.S. armed forces.

Narrow Escape From Nancy Pelosi’s MOB

October 10th, 2009

Today I attended the Tucson “Tea Party” held at Tucson Electric Park baseball stadium. I’m happy to report that I escaped the mob scene unharmed and can report to you now. First a few facts. The event, organized by a couple of local women, was well attended. See pictures of the (I’d estimate 3,000 to 5,000 mobsters) below:

North side of stadium:

South side of same:

You can obviously see why Nancy would be frightened out of her wits by the violent nature of this rowdy crowd whose basest emotions were being whipped up by a black radio/TV commentator. a defeated (6 term I think) Republican congressman and a Judge, who is also a political commentator. See below the provocative nature of the presentation.

When the crowd was sufficiently motivated to revolt against those “government dogs”, they then bolted for their cars to retrieve their hand-guns so that they could wreak vengeance upon their Democrat Oppressors. This frightful scene is documented faithfully, below, just as I witnessed it.

You can well imagine how relieved I am to have escaped with my life from such a riotous scene as I’ve described to you above. But after a brandy or two I’m able to reflect with a couple of observations.

First, as one speaker mentioned, there was a paucity of young people attending, even though this was a Saturday at a ballpark. It makes me wonder whether a) the young people simply don’t care about freedom, or b) they’re completely unaware that their future freedom is being stolen from them, or c) they’ve been so completely brain-washed in government schools by leftist teachers that they regard freedom as something quaint and valueless. We need more young people at these events if they are to serve their intended purpose.

Second, although this is Arizona where nobody in his right mind wears a tie, I was somewhat jarred by the attire of the speakers. The MC wore baggy, dirty jeans, a slouch hat, and a tail-shirt not tucked into his pants. He looked poor and sloppy. J.D. Hayworth, the politician, was dressed similarly — dirty, baggy jeans and a work shirt suitable for gardening. The Judge (Napolitano) appeared in a blue blazer. OK, at least he showed respect for the crowd.

In watching music events on TV (I don’t attend popular music concerts) I see the same culture — the musicians seem to think that the more ragged and dirty they look the more they’ll be appreciated … or something like that.

In my own opinion (since this is my blog after all) when you want to present something, be it music or politics to an audience, you owe them the courtesy to dress as if you are visiting their home for the first time or applying for a job. Anyway, I just couldn’t resist getting these observations into the article.

All Together Now: Crisis. Panic. Catastrophe!

September 22nd, 2009

World financial collapse, climate being wrecked by human activity, food running out, population exploding.

What do all of these panics have in common? They are all used as excuses by statists to argue for more government control over humanity. They are all blamed on the developed world, which by their account owes a duty to the developing (poor) countries to spend a gazillion dollars in welfare to rescue the less fortunate masses.

Let’s take them one at a time:

The Financial Collapse is a byproduct of government’s regulation failures, not regulation of the private sector, but regulation of government’s own entities, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, HUD, Treasury and Federal Reserve. These were and remain completely out of control. In the midst of insane expansions of government spending, devaluation of the dollar and the growing dead hand of private sector regulations, the statists are calling for yet more of the same.

Climate Change Once called “Global Warming,” but in the face of actual cooling over the last 10 years it is now called “Climate Change” in order to preserve it as a crisis. This is demonstrably a mania engaging politicians, scientists, news publishers, movie stars and gullible self-promoters such as Al Gore. The proposed solution is to squelch the progress and living standards of successful countries and transfer their assets to help the “poor” Africans. Decreasing the wealth of the developed world and increasing the dependency of the under-developed world makes sense only to statists and nihilists.

Population Growth From a recent Breitbart article:

Ninety-eight percent of the expected population growth will occur in developing countries, especially in Africa, where numbers are set to double to almost two billion by 2050.

“How Niger is going to feed a population growing from 11 million today to 50 million in 2050 in a semi-arid country that may be facing adverse climate (change) is unclear,” said Adair Turner, a member of Britain’s House of Lords.

The population of Uganda was five million in 1950, is 25 million today and could reach 127 million by 2050, Turner said.

We are warned that:

“The inexorable increase in human numbers is exhausting conventional energy supplies, accelerating environmental pollution and global warming and providing an increasing number of failed states where civil unrest prevails.”

As pointed out notably by Mark Steyn in his book, “America Alone,” although Africa and the Arab countries’ populations are growing at an impressive rate, the populations of productive countries of Europe (including Russia) and Asia (including Japan, China) are shrinking rapidly. Only America has sustains a replacement rate of reproduction, in part due to its immigration policies.

The scare-mongers want control over what they view as looming catastrophe. But they seem blind to the reality that what they demand as a solution makes little sense. These alarmed statists led by the the U.N. want to see the (population shrinking) successful countries penalized so that the unsuccessful (population growing) countries can have more space and more resources for their exploding populations of uneducated, violence prone, unproductive, uncreative people. Oh, and by the way, there should be government run population controls to reduce the reproduction rates, but nobody wants to specify whose reproduction rate that should be.

The answer to all this is to step back, take a deep breath, and question the basic presumptions of the catastrophe crowd. Having done so, it should be clear that the unsuccessful, unproductive part of the world should emulate the productive, successful part. The successful countries are able to feed themselves, have stable to shrinking populations, increasing wealth and well being, and in spite of occasional pull-backs are financially successful as well. With respect to global climate, let’s just take a little more time (within the 100 year catastrophe window) to study the matter, paying particular attention to testing our theories against actual data.

It’s not as bad as it seems.

Big Government Begets Corruption

September 21st, 2009

Here’s a clearly stated video explaining how an ever expanding big-government trough attracts the pigs and corrupts the whole system. The only way to reduce waste and corruption is to remove the boodle from the trough — reduce government to its constitutionally permitted role.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Less Government, Less Taxation, Less Regulation = Less Corruption, More Liberty. Do it NOW!

What Next in Afghanistan?

September 15th, 2009

Is it worthwhile or even wise for the U.S. to spend blood and treasure to build up the Afghan state? Do we really care if the Taliban regains control over Afghanistan? If we really cared about Islamic fanaticism then we should smite Saudi Arabia, the source of it all.

Let’s remember that the original purpose of our operations in Afghanistan was to get our hands on Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts. This made obvious good sense given the events of 9/11/01. Our beef with the Taliban was Mullah Omar’s refusal to hand over the Al Qaeda leaders and close the training camps. So we linked up with some Afghan enemies of Mullah Omar and kicked his butt. But we didn’t get Osama and his buddies.

Now, I’d like to offer a recipe for future operations in Afghanistan:

1. Forget state building. Fiercely and single mindedly conduct military operations going after Al Qaeda focusing on Bin Laden, Al Zawahiri, and other top figures, plus Mullah Omar. We’re not making friends here. We’re on a single-minded mission. We should fight with the best weapons we have and ignore the collateral damage.

2. Offer the Taliban a deal. After they deliver us the heads of the above individuals we’ll immediately withdraw and let them fight it out with their countrymen. We really don’t care who wins that battle.

3. We reserve the right to bring down hellfire without limit on the heads of the Afghans if they harbor Islamic terrorists in the future. They can be as viciously Islamic as they want within their own borders, but don’t even think of spreading it to us or our allies.

4. Pakistan will object to operations on their soil. But they have the incentive to take on the Taliban for their own salvation. If they want to team up with us, great. We welcome the help. But without their help we’ll get the job done on our own.

Insulting the Sun God

September 15th, 2009

Thanks to Glen Thrush via Drudge we can see the House of Representatives rules about insulting the Sun God president. (Really!)

Especially useful: The section on how to properly insult the executive branch in the in the chamber.

“Disgrace” and “nitwits” — okay.

“Liar” or “sexual misconduct” — ixnay.

Under section 370 of the House Rules and Manual it has been held that a Member could:

• refer to the government as “something hated, something oppressive.”
• refer to the President as “using legislative or judicial pork.”
• refer to a Presidential message as a “disgrace to the country.”
• refer to unnamed officials as “our half-baked nitwits handling foreign affairs.”

Likewise, it has been held that a member could not:
• call the President a “liar.”
• call the President a “hypocrite.”
• describe the President’s veto of a bill as “cowardly.”
• charge that the President has been “intellectually dishonest.”
• refer to the President as “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”
• refer to alleged “sexual misconduct on the President’s part.”

How can our representatives properly represent us if they are gagged by rules of speech? What about free speech?

I can understand decorum and manners. But going to this lawyerly extreme I don’t think makes any sense at all.

One of the problems we have is that our head of state and our head of government are one and the same. In England they have a better system. The head of state lives in a palace and should not be insulted without insulting the country. That’s understandable. While the head of government governs from a humble address (10 Downing St.) and can be called whatever a representative wants to call him.

Representatives should be able to call our head of governmennt a “miserable, reckless, lieing, coward” without rebuke if he deserves it. We shouldn’t elect a head of government who can’t take it. My further suggestion is that we should follow the British example and install the winner of the Ms. America pagent in the White House as head of state and send the President of the United States Bureaucracy to a boarding house — a nice one, but a boarding house nonetheless.

Sorry Barack, but American citizens don’t need or want a Sun God

Inflation or Deflation? Experts Disagree

September 15th, 2009

First, I must admit that discussions of monetary policy make my eyes glaze over. But it gives me some comfort, or should it be fear, that the so-called experts can’t agree on it either. Below are two articles from British newspapers, one forecasting devastating deflation, the other inflation. My naive take on all this is that a) neither inflation nor deflation is good. Stable money is best; and b) the ugly predictions below are the direct result of government policies designed to use money supply to damp or goose the economy; and c) insane out of control spending on “stimulus” does not improve the economy, it just upsets the monetary balance.

Warnings of deflation from an article in Telegraph.Co.UK/b>

Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research said US bank loans have fallen at an annual pace of almost 14pc in the three months to August (from $7,147bn to $6,886bn).

“There has been nothing like this in the USA since the 1930s,” he said. “The rapid destruction of money balances is madness.”

The M3 “broad” money supply, watched as an early warning signal for the economy a year or so later, has been falling at a 5pc annual rate.

Similar concerns have been raised by David Rosenberg, chief strategist at Gluskin Sheff, who said that over the four weeks up to August 24, bank credit shrank at an “epic” 9pc annual pace, the M2 money supply shrank at 12.2pc and M1 shrank at 6.5pc.

“For the first time in the post-WW2 [Second World War] era, we have deflation in credit, wages and rents and, from our lens, this is a toxic brew,” he said.

It is unclear why the US Federal Reserve has allowed this to occur.

Warnings of inflation from Financial Times of London:

“The comments from Mr White, who ran the economic department at the central banks’ bank from 1995 to 2008, carry weight because he was one of the few senior figures to predict the financial crisis in the years before it struck.”

Worldwide, central banks have pumped thousands of billions of dollars of new money into the financial system over the past two years in an effort to prevent a depression. Meanwhile, governments have gone to similar extremes, taking on vast sums of debt to prop up industries from banking to car making.

These measures may already be inflating a bubble in asset prices, from equities to commodities, he said, and there was a small risk that inflation would get out of control over the medium term if central banks miss-time their “exit strategies”.

Either of the scenarios, above, would mean misery for all of us. We should remember that not too long ago the experts were predicting that the U.S. would become economic road kill due to Japan’s then (apparently) successful economic policies. We can only hope now that while the experts play in the economists’ sand box, that U.S. industry will once again, as it did in the 80’s prove the experts wrong and irrelevant. People make economies. Experts just analyze them. Governments just mess them up.

Maybe we should conclude that simpler is better. Don’t trust the experts too much. Monetary stability can be accomplished with a few strong rules and the discipline to follow them.

Signs of Government Arrogance

September 14th, 2009

While on vacation this summer I visited a picturesque light house maintained by the Coast Guard. While standing next to the tower I looked down from the railing and saw a sign that promised me a jail term or fine if I stepped over onto the vegetation. I thought, “Couldn’t it just say: Please Keep Off of the Vegetation”? Then another threatening sign I noticed on the way out gave instructions and said “Failure to comply with these instructions will result in cancellation of visiting privileges.” As if the instructions, meant to ensure safety of the visitors, were not enough in themselves.

The signs pictured above anticipate that citizens will be criminals and will try to bribe the friendly automobile smog control inspectors and provide rules while visiting a park. As if this was not enough, you are encouraged to go back to town and obtain a complete set of rules and regs to comply with while communing with nature.

While some signs make sense and are useful, government signage tends to evoke an arrogant authoritarianism that grates on the honest citizen. It would be more dignified and civilized for signs to politely guide rather than threaten. But I guess when you have the big stick of the law, jail and fines behind you, then you don’t want to let anyone mistake your command for a mere suggestion.

Did you ever notice the signs that were once prominent in the post offices, which said: “It is a crime to assault a postal worker.” Oh, well, it never crossed my mind. But thanks for warning me anyway.

Jitneys to the Rescue

August 21st, 2009

Always thoughtful and well spoken Coyote Blog discusses light rail economics here. The author has a standing bet that light rail costs more to build than it would cost to supply all riders with Prius cars and more to operate than it costs to fuel those Prius’s. He gives good examples of where his bets already pay off.

This article brings to mind a thought I’ve harbored for some time about public transit. With a few exceptions, I’ve observed that most public transit systems operate empty for most of their routes. They (especially buses) block traffic at intersections and other stops and contribute obviously to noise and pollution.

The curious thing about public transit is that it was once a private enterprise. The San Francisco Bay area of Northern California had a private rail system (the Key Line) that served the entire area all the way to Santa Cruz. No public system does this now. Los Angeles had the Red Cars, also private, which served the entire LA Basin, all the way out to Long Beach. This is also gone. And Washington DC and many other cities had privately owned and operated cable cars and even a New York had a privately owned subway system.

As the private transportation industry was driven out of business by public transit systems (even taxi cab services were licensed and regulated) the quality of services fell apart, and today most public transit is extremely inefficient, dependent on large tax subsidies and weighted down by public service union employees.

In some other countries, however, the private operators of “public” transit survive and prosper. It’s been a few years since I last traveled to these locations, so changes may have occurred, but in Mexico City there were “peseros,” taxicabs that cruised the major routes of the city and would, for a very small fixed (one peso) fare, pick up and drop off as many passengers as they could hold. This system moved a large number of people very quickly and efficiently. In Chile, the Philippines, and Thailand, jitney buses holding from 5 to 25 passengers plied the major avenues offering to pick up and deposit passengers wherever they wanted to board or dismount.

The wonderful thing about jitney transport is that it can and does shift throughout the day to where the passengers are rather than traveling empty on fixed routes. Instead of long waits for the next bus or train, there was always another jitney just behind. And instead of being required to stop at every stop, the jitney skips all stops until a passenger wants to get off.

I haven’t seen anything like this in the U.S., probably due to the attitude that the government must regulate or even provide all public transit. But, in my opinion, it would certainly be worth reconsidering, and if permitted could be very profitable. Anyone out there want to help me start a jitney business?

Questions for Obama’s Propaganda Ministers

August 10th, 2009

In my prior post I tried to analyze the President’s attempt to “debunk” what they see as misinformation about their healthcare bill. On reflection after this exercise it seems to me that they actually have hurt feelings about the opposition, i.e., “How could anyone be so opposed to a bill that is designed to help them?”

It is for this reason that the arguments in their web site were so pathetically lacking in substance. Each of Obama’s representatives argued, in essence: “We’re doing this for your own good. Just trust us.”

And then there is the other side. SEIU thugs beating up conservative opponents of the healthcare bill. The multi-pronged and from all accounts vicious attacks on FreedomWorks.org, the scare tactic attempting to portray tea-baggers as mad fanatics and mobs — albeit in “Brooks Brothers suits.”

More thought about it and I realized that each side sees the issue from a completely different perspective. We can use our logic against Obama’s propaganda campaign all we want, but that doesn’t make our message any clearer. Obama says we object to his health care proposals because we don’t understand how “secure” we’ll be with them. He appeals to our feelings as dependents such as Social Security recipients, veterans, threatened small businesses and people worried about keeping their own doctors. These dependencies, worries over our welfare, he understands completely. His party is built upon pandering to fear and insecurity, so this is a clear target for his propaganda.

What Obama and the left don’t understand is the real reasons the most of us object to government run health care.

1. Healthcare is a personal reponsibility and none of the government’s business.

2. Government doesn’t do anything well or efficiently. We don’t trust it to do health care.

3. The private healthcare system, for all its warts, works better than any of the socialized healthcare systems in the world. We can fix defects in private care. We don’t have a chance to fix anything once the politicians and bureaucrats get their hands on it.

4. We don’t want the bill fixed. We want it abandoned completely. Gone.

Let the Obama propaganda machine answer these concerns instead of the wimpy crap on their http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/ web site.

Sun God Wants to Know Who You Are

August 6th, 2009

This is getting really ugly. Our Dear Leader, The Sun God, now wants citizens to report the misdeads of citizens who oppose socialized medicine directly to the white house. See: Report Your Neighbors OK, like Castro and Chavez the Sun God is organizing neighborhood watch committees to spy on opponents and heretics.

From the whitehouse:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.
(emphasis added)

You may think they just want to get ahead of the buzz, but think again. Every email has an address, and the sun god keeps track of where mail comes from. (See my earlier post:Email Spam From the White House.)

So please join me in sending a message — thousands upon thousands of messages (use a public email address such as Yahoo) — to: flag@whitehouse.gov . Report what you think about their “FISHY” project.

Maybe these people aren’t complete tyrants yet, but don’t count on it.

ObamaCare – Practice Run Needed First

July 25th, 2009

Listening to the Sun God’s bloviations on government run health care some thoughts (other than puking) come to mind.

The Sun God proclaims that there are millions of dollars wasted in health care administration. So what about first applying his efficiency genius to the operation of Medicare, Medicade and other government run health programs. Wouldn’t it be useful and revelatory to see if the “reforms” the Sun God’s minions belch about actually work before applying them to the whole of the health care sector?

Since when has any government program cost less and been more efficient than an equivalent private enterprise? Let the lefty bureaucrats and politicians demonstrate that their methods actually save money and are more efficient using the 45% of the health care sector the government already controls?

When the Sun God talks about paperwork efficiency what comes to mind is Medicare’s byzantine, intricate, confusing coding and payment bureaucracy. Before Medicare things could not have been worse than that, and they might have been better. Let the Sun God fix that first!

Best practices. What best practices? Continual reports emanate from the VA Hospitals about contaminated colonoscopies, mistreatment of helpless patients, incompetent foreign staffers, etc. And these practices persist for months and sometimes years at a time without correction. The Sun God’s mouthpieces echo glowing reports about the efficiency of the VA. I’m eligible for VA care but don’t believe a word they say, so I don’t use it. Let them prove their claims system wide before testing this mess on the whole country.

Hey, Obama, practice makes perfect. You need to practice first. Or better yet, for the good of the country, resign.

We neither want nor need a national community organizer.

Healthcare: About Blue-Dog Public Option

July 2nd, 2009

The so-called Blue-Dog public option sounds a lot like a private option. So what is the difference? The difference is that, like Amtrak or Fannie Mae, no matter what they say in the beginning, it has the backing and potential to be micro-managed by politicians and bureaucrats.

Arizona has a limited public option called “Healthcare Group of Arizona” designed to insure self-employed and small businesss. It operates, in most respects, like a private entity and was “financially stable” and “actuarily sound” in the words of the Blue Dog proposal. At one point the plan became financially unstable and the staff made reforms including rate increases that brought it back into balance. But then, having done so, it began to expand services and coverage, which again got it into trouble. Non-profits tend to measure success by size because profits are nonexistent. Profits require efficiency, size does not.

Quoting from a recent article in Tucson Weekly

Subsequently, the program’s “community-rated” approach was nearly its undoing. The lack of pre-screening, combined with a period of explosive growth–from around 16,000 members at the end of 2005 to almost 27,000 two years later–left Healthcare Group unaware that a storm of claims was brewing.

That enabled critical lawmakers to force a temporary cap on enrollment, driving down membership by about 7,000.

For this fiscal year, Healthcare Group was slated to receive a $5 million subsidy. But that money was cut when it was deemed unnecessary. While that’s not a victory for expanded coverage, it does demonstrate a continued ability for Healthcare Group to operate in the black.

What’s not said is that the financial squeeze resulted in rationing.

I was a beneficiary of this program for several years, during which I observed that:
a) It was not as expensive as private insurance programs, but operated with little or no subsidy. Nonetheless, it wasn’t cheap.
b) The insurance part was poorly managed — nice people, but not very efficient.
c) The quality and quantity of medical services provided via University Physicians, which contracted to operate the program, was excellent.
d) I sincerely doubt it had any influence on medical service price inflation, though I can’t prove it.

So what prevented a private firm from offering a similar service?
For one thing, the market (27,000 customers at the peak) was small. Operating such a business across state lines might make a lot of sense, but that’s proscribed by law — why?

As I see it, the idea of any government run/subsidized health insurance plan as a model or competitive incentive for private insurance makes little sense. What does make sense is:

1) Medical malpractice tort reform
2) Make Medicare truly optional
3) Remove barriers to interstate insurance businesses
4) Reign in state regulation and micro-management of insurance companies and their offerings
5) Encourage physicians to, once again, become entrepreneurs and independent businessmen rather than employees of managed care plans

Stand back and wait for the above to have a beneficial effect on the cost of medicine before proposing more grandiose reform plans, national or otherwise.

Sun God Obama Revealed

June 29th, 2009

Finally, we have a picture of the Sun God, fresh from Egypt.

RA RA RA, God of Sun, God of Planet, God of Man

Oh Sun God, leader, wise man, advisor on parenting, authority on health care, protector of the planet’s air and water, moral authority on everything, expert on (OUR) health — except (YOUR) smoking. Oh Sun God educate my (OUR?) children, protect my (OUR?) health, defend my (OUR? YOUR? … CONDITIONAL?) constitutional rights to speech, etc. If it’s convenient. FIX our (YOUR?) banks, rescue our (YOUR? The UNION’s?) automobile manufacturers. And while you’re at it make people worldwide LOVE us (YOU) and make our (THE CHINESE CREDITOR’S) U.S. Dollar strong — Too much trouble? Oh Well … You are, after all the Sun God. You’ll do (AND SPEND) whatever you damn well please.

« Previous Entries Next Entries »