Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Love This Line - This is the Essence of Wealth> :

NYTM: Have you ever seen “American Idol”?

Arlo Guthrie: No, I have never watched it. But I’m thankful we’re living in a world where we can actually afford to waste your time. What a great thing that is.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Questions for the President, Report On Canada's Program

Questions for the President:
Mr. President, during your campaign, you said, “I can make a firm pledge…Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.” You also said that “no one will pay higher tax rates than they paid in the 1990s.” Your National Economic Council chairman, Larry Summers, has written that employer mandates “are like public programs financed by benefit taxes.” Under the House health reform bill, an uninsured worker earning $50,000 per year, with no offer of coverage from her employer, would face a 15.3-percent federal payroll tax, a 25-percent federal marginal income tax rate, an 8-percent reduction in her wages (to pay the employer penalty), plus a 2.5 percent uninsured tax. In total, her effective marginal federal tax rate would reach 50.8 percent.
Do you stand by those pledges, and would you therefore veto any employer mandate or individual mandate as a tax on the middle class?
From here:

This one inspired by Arnold Kling:
Mr. President, you say you seek to reform America’s health care sector because it is unsustainable. You also say that Americans will get to keep what they have. Aren’t you contradicting yourself?

This one’s not a question, but raises some questions:
"Sure enough, as soon as the hospital emergency staff saw my wife, they knew; it was advanced non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which had dissolved some of her collarbone. My wife had to be told her prognosis was not good, that she had to prepare for the worst. Fortunately for me, my doctor colleague, a high profile media individual, used her influence to get my wife the best specialists in the country—which, yes, meant that my wife is somewhat more special after all. She survived. She endured the most aggressive treatment regimen there is, and though she's left with considerable damage from the radiation, she's alive.
"The incompetent family doctor, who misdiagnosed, suffered no consequence. As well, my wife must keep the same family doctor unless she wishes to wait another six years or so.
"That's socialized medicine. Worse still, one may not openly criticize our system without being told to move to America if we don't like the world's finest socialized medical system. Criticizing our system is tantamount to being a global warming 'denier.' The propaganda is that effective."

Rational Defense of the Non Public Option

"In a nutshell, I hate the poor and want them to die so that all my rich friends can use their bodies as mulch for their diamond ranches."

It's not as comprehensive as I'd like, but it's a cogent explanation of why the opposition to a govt HC program is rooted in the rational belief that a govt system cannot possibly meet the needs of the population at a cost it can pay.

"Basically, for me, it all boils down to public choice theory. Once we've got a comprehensive national health care plan, what are the government's incentives? I think they're bad, for the same reason the TSA is bad. I'm afraid that instead of Security Theater, we'll get Health Care Theater, where the government goes to elaborate lengths to convince us that we're getting the best possible health care, without actually providing it.That's not just verbal theatrics. Agencies like Britain's NICE are a case in point. As long as people don't know that there are cancer treatments they're not getting, they're happy. Once they find out, satisfaction plunges. But the reason that people in Britain know about things like herceptin for early stage breast cancer is a robust private market in the US that experiments with this sort of thing."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Minimum Wage - An Attack on Unskilled Laborers

I wonder if any economist actually contests this theory. I'm sure some politicians may actually believe they are helping people, they are generally not well informed on economics - at least, not based on what they say out loud.

Dr. Boudreaux's logic:
"I’ve never heard of a supermarket that seeks to clear out excessively large inventories of canned peas or laundry detergent by raising the prices it charges for these items. I’ve never heard of a construction contractor who believes that the higher the price he asks to do a job the more likely he is to be awarded the contract for that job. I’ve never encountered a car salesman who, upon my rejecting the price he asks for a car that I just test drove, says “Okay, okay. I’ll talk to my manager and ask if he’ll accept an even higher price for this baby.” I don’t encounter advertisements by merchants bragging that their prices are the absolute highest in town -- guaranteed!"

Thus when we violate liberty by restricting the terms under which citizens may choose to labor for or employ each other, we injure those who most need to find employment - those with low skills and the least to offer in the workplace.

It's laws like this that have led to 25% unemployment for those under 25 in France. Wonder if those who are not hired, or who's positions or eliminated due to this attack on liberty, will realize who screwed them.

A Peek Behind the Islamic Curtain

If you have any interest in understanding the way Iran works, this piece is highly informative about the structure of Iran's government. For example, did you know they have a constituion? It is a fascinating country.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Independence Day?

Dr. Boudreaux:
"Independence really worth celebrating would be the ability of each of us, individually, to make the following sorts of choices, and to make these choices independently of any order or restrictions imposed by government:
• To choose to work at whatever wages we can negotiate, even if these are below some stipulated "minimum wage"
• To choose to install in our homes and places of business toilet-tanks of whatever size we're willing to pay for
• To choose to install showerheads that permit as much or as little water flow as we're willing to pay for
• To choose not to have as much as one cent of our money funneled to corporations, such as General Motors, that we do not support as consumers
• To choose to buy foreign-made goods or services without ever having to pay a special tax
• To choose to ingest whatever substances we, as adults, deem worthwhile
• To choose how much, if any, money to save for our retirement years
• To choose how much, if any, funds to give to help the poor -- and to choose which charities will and will not get our money
• To choose not to support government schools
• To choose to buy only those works of art that we like, rather than have the National Endowment for the Arts make many such choices for us
• To choose the level of safety that we want in our automobiles, and not be compelled to buy that level of safety deemed appropriate by Washington.
Such choices, along with countless others, are regrettably today denied to each individual American."

Do you think these are significant expressions of liberty? Do you want this kind of liberty? Does it trouble you that you don't have the 'right' to make these choices for yourself? If you don't have the 'right' to make these choices, what do you think is meant in the phrase "right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"?

From the Union Horse's Mouth

NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin
"Despite what some among us would like to believe [the NEA is effective] not because of our creative ideas; it is not because of the merit of our positions; it is not because we care about children; and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child.

The NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of million of dollars in dues each year because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them; the union that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees. ...

When all is said and done, NEA affiliates must never lose sight of the fact that they are unions. And what unions do first and foremost is represent their members."

At least he's telling the truth on this one.

He is not crying crocodile tears about the students, or in any way moralizing. He's putting it all there - I don't care about the non-union-member workers, the kids, the country's future or any of that "nonsense."

I'd have no problem with any of this except that this tool has the power of the Federal govt at his back - he's leading a govt authorized monopoly on labor. It's wrong, it is an insult to liberty and it hurts a lot of people.

I just won't be disgusted any more.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What About the Uninsured?

What about the uninsured?
First off, here's the best summary of the 'uninsured' that I've found:
At any one time there are around 45 million people who do not have what is commonly called Health Insurance. The numbers that follow are approximate, but they are accurate enough to explain the truth.
Of that 45 million without "Health Insurance" between 8 and 10 million are illegal aliens. They do not have either employer paid "Insurance" or govt. paid coverage because, well, they're not supposed to be here and if they signed up they'd get caught.
Around 10 million are people who qualify for some government coverage (Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP, etc.) but for some reason have not signed up. In Cleveland Metro General hospital increased its top line revenue by $25 Million in 2008 by simply signing up all of its "free-care" patients who were eligible for government "Insurance".
Another 10 million are people who are temporarily without "Insurance" while they are between jobs, cities, schools, etc.
A final 10 million or so are young people who simply elect not to purchase/accept "Insurance", choosing instead to buy an IPod, flat screen, or Lamborgini. Part of that is due to the high costs of insurance, which is driven largely by govt mandates on what must be covered. Buying stripped down, real insurance (which protects against large, improbable events) is not possible in all states. Young healthy people do the math and realize 'pre paid service plan' 'insurance' is a bad deal for them.
So that leaves 5-8 million Americans who are chronically without "Insurance". There are approximately 160 million Americans with private "Insurance" and another 100+ million with government "Insurance".
Should we should dropkick the entire system for 5-8 million Americans who are chronically without "Insurance"? And are they without Healthcare? Of course not. These are the people who get their flu shots at the local level 1 trauma center. Optimal? Of course not, but they are hardly without Healthcare.
Numbers availble with little effort in all manner of sources including BOTH WSJ and NYT.
Comment #145 - Posted by: bingo at July 22, 2009 3:05 PM (from

Inequality Does Not Matter Unless It's With My Neighbor

The best way to create equality is to make sure we keep our current tax policies (with high rates and multiple doses of taxes on business transactions), government interventions in OSHA, Medicare, Medicaid, the FDA, EPA, etc. Then we can finally get our jobs equalled out overseas, not concentrated in this this one unequally rich location - the USA.

Unless what they mean about equality doesn't have to do with getting all of our wealth spread out across the planet.

If not, what "in the world" do they mean? What is it that they are really trying to justify with all the talk of 'inequality'?

Boyfriend with Health Care Benefits

Thoughts about health care versus health care costs.

The short version? Government interventions into the health care insurance market drive prices higher for several reasons, one of which is highlighted here. To wit, should every insurance policy cover "chiropractors, toupees and acupuncture"? Isn't the requirement that these 'treatments' be covered just an example of rent seeking by their respective lobbying agencies, which allows politicians to curry favor at our expense?

I just won't be disgusted any more.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Playing your your cards right ...

"Dear Dr. Science, What will happen if I play my cards wrong?" Mitch Moody, Johnson City, TN

"You’ll end up in a cubby at some corporation, sneaking off to surf eBay as often as you can get away with it, and counting the days to retirement, or when you’re finally vested in stock options. Either way, you’re measuring you life out in coffee spoons, as TS Eliot put it, and just counting the minutes until they tell you this new experimental mix of chemo and radiation might buy you another two weeks, and you become horrified by the realization that all along you thought this was some sort of rehearsal for the real thing, and that you hadn’t actually been paying attention, or emotionally present for you own life, because you thought circumstances didn’t warrant that yet, that this wasn’t the right time, but that time was just around the corner until you realize that yes, you blew it, indeed you played your cards all wrong."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quotes for the Libertarian

"Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm - but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." T.

"I consider myself a libertarian. It's my gut instinct toward things: Keep the government out of your wallet and out of your bedroom." -- John Tierney

Comments on the German system

From a German about the German system: "Here in Germany, we do currently have the public option competing with the private option. It's been this way for a while, and it's not working. The cost of the public health care has gone up immensely compared to the private options, while their service level has declined. You actually get worse treatment if you have public health care in Germany. The clerk will take your card, and if you're public, you wait longer and get less service. If you're private, doctors love you. A doctor of mine said he wouldn't be able to run his practice if it were not for privately insured patients, because the government pays badly and often late. Try arguing with the government about not paying their bills (btw - my father had the same experience working in a wound clinic for older folks - medicare wouldn't pay, he quit when it took 9 months to get his first check). The public health care has gotten so bad that the German government has now actually FORBIDDEN most people to choose the private option. That's right, unless you earn 50,000€ ($70,000) or more per year for at least three years in a row, you are not allowed to leave the public health care system. Why? Because everybody would do it, and the system would break.

Comment #136 - Posted by: Bleicke at July 22, 2009 2:06 PM from comments

Will on the Global Politics of AGW

I'm not sure what to even say about this post except that I love how Will writes. The humor of watching how the world's leaders pay lip service to AGW but know better than to actually do anything about it (for one they, they realize they cannot) is well represented in this piece.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who Are the Uninsured?

Ever wonder where the "45 million uninsured" number comes from, or why these people are not considered 'insured' when Medicaid and Medicare are supposed to cover the elderly and the poor?

Interesting study - the link will get you to the abstract.

Stossel on Better Health Care - And Pulling Your Own Teeth

"Better" Health Care?

Does it sound like fun to pull your own teeth? My daughter did it, but that was a baby tooth long overdue for departure. Otherwise, I'm thinking it's not a great thing.

Health Care, Stossel on Arrogance

"It's crazy for a group of mere mortals to try to design 15 percent of the U.S. economy. It's even crazier to do it by August. Yet that is what some members of Congress presume to do. They intend, as the New York Times puts it, "to reinvent the nation's health care system".

Like the politicians, most people are oblivious to F.A. Hayek's insight that the critical information needed to run an economy -- or even 15 percent of one -- doesn't exist in any one place where it is accessible to central planners. Instead, it is scattered piecemeal among millions of people. All those people put together are far wiser and better informed than Congress could ever be. Only markets -- private property, free exchange and the price system -- can put this knowledge at the disposal of entrepreneurs and consumers, ensuring the system will serve the people and not just the political class.
This is no less true for medical care than for food, clothing and shelter. It is profit-seeking entrepreneurship that gave us birth control pills, robot limbs, Lasik surgery and so many other good things that make our lives longer and more pain free.
Who will save us from these despots? What Adam Smith said about the economic planner applies here, too: The politician who tries to design the medical marketplace would "assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.""

TennCare Lessons Learned

BLUF: State could not even approximate the impact of the 'public option' on consumer choices, resulting a massive budget busting state program.

Culture War from the Left

The culture war shifts as those with power shift - no reason not to use the power of the State to make others believe what you believe if YOU are the one with State control!

Classic Quotes - "It is bad luck to be superstitious."

- Andrew W. Mathis

Framing the Debate Part 3 - Health-Care Competition

From Stossel's Health-Care Competition

Shared via AddThis

""[T]he Senate Finance Committee seems poised to propose private-sector insurance cooperatives ... as its primary mechanism for stoking competition and slowing the growth of medical costs." Give me a break. Since when is government needed to stoke competition? Competition is what happens when government lets people alone. I defy anyone to give me an example of lack of competition that doesn't have its roots in government intervention."

"...another point that is a favorite of the policy elite: Preventive care will save tons of money. If that's true, there is nothing (but government) to keep people from implementing that principle.

But is it true? This seems to be one of those things we know that isn't so.

I take Lipitor. The drug may extend my life. But this doesn't lower my health-care costs. Years of pill-taking increases costs. If the pill works, I may live long enough to get an even more expensive disease. And maybe I, like millions of others, take Lipitor unnecessarily because we would never have had heart attacks. We then spend more, not less, on health care.
Health-care expert John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis ( says there are "literally hundreds of studies from over the past 40 years that show preventive medical services usually increase medical spending ... Contrary to popular belief, checkups for children and adults do not save the health care system money".

If the policy elite really wanted cost-cutting competition, they would deregulate medicine. No one has ever found a better way to stimulate competition than freedom."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Health Care - One Easy Lesson

From my friend, Barry Cooper:
This issue will affect you, whether you want to admit it or not. This is the quickest summary of this issue I have seen. Read it, and forward it if you want to spread the information. Also, post it on any blogs you are active on. There is still time to stop this job-killing boondoggle.

Imagine there were no health insurance. When you went to a doctor, it would be like going to the mechanic to have your car looked at. Checkups would be like oil changes, for which you pay a small amount of money, for a needed service. Periodically, he would suggest some preventive maintenance, that you would either decide to do, or not, depending on the cost, and your perception of the need to do it. Sometimes, work would be forced on you due to the car malfunctioning, and you would perhaps get estimates from multiple vendors, but be forced to buy from one of them. Cash would always leave your pocket.

Likewise, with doctors, for preventive maintenance, they might suggest a colonoscopy or pap smear. Most of the time, they would find nothing. Most of the time, it would have been wasted money. But some of the time, it would save your life. They only do a fraction of the amount of "preventive maintenance" in countries with socialized medicine we do here, and their rates of death from things like colon cancer are much higher.

And if you had an actual illness, doctors are no different, in principle, from skilled mechanics. You only attract and keep talented people by paying them well. You can get things cheap, but you get what you pay for. This obvious fact is obscured by how most insurance is structured in this country.

There are and can be only two basic forms of health insurance: catastrophic insurance, and prepaid service plans called 'insurance.' In catastrophic insurance, your rates are low because it is true insurance. This means that you assume—because for healthy people it is accurate--that in most years nothing major will happen to you. The insurance companies, for their part, can pool the risk. Things like check-ups are covered—so health maintenance is not compromised-- but you carry a high deductible, like $5,000 or $7,500. This deductible shelters the insurance companies from the many minor events (ear aches, bronchitis) that happen often, but for which they would otherwise have to pay. They know that some people will have heart attacks, or get cancer, and they cover everything (depending on the plan) after the deductible is met. This means that no one winds up carrying the essentially infinite costs of sustained diseases, but that the costs of insuring oneself remains low. It also encourages people to take responsibility for their own health.

In prepaid 'insurance', your monthly cost is MUCH higher, perhaps 5 or even 10 times higher. Since your employer often pays this, and it isn’t taxable, you don’t see this. This is, however, where the concept of the "high cost of health insurance" comes from. For this, you are insulated from the true costs of your healthcare. If the doctor suggests an MRI, which is 90% likely to yield no information you didn’t already have, you say OK, since that is "paid" by your insurance company. In reality, you are simply buying a Catastrophic policy, and prepaying the deductible. Since your company is paying that deductible for you, you use much more "healthcare" than you otherwise would have. Any test, any prophylactic measure—however unlikely to yield positive benefit—you accept, since you pay nothing (that you can see) out of your own pocket.

But of course you ARE paying for these things. They are covered in insurance premiums. The primary reason health costs are so high, is very simply that more healthcare is being consumed. What is the quantity of health care demanded when the cost is zero? Very high.

Tests that were not available 30 years ago (MRI’s, CAT scans, PET scans, various atheroscopic surgeries, or whatever they are) are now routine. However, they are expensive, and most of the time they add nothing. This means that we SPEND more, and see little added benefit. There is no evidence—none—that health providers (hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies) are making record profits. The problem is not profiteering, and the solution is not to put cost caps on things, or ration service.

The problem truly is a lack of competition, but only because the ability for individuals to buy their OWN Catastrophic Insurance is not available in every State. In fact, it is not available at all—for any price--in many States, and ESPECIALLY Blue states, whose representatives are the ones doing the most to push Federal health insurance down our throats. In those States, if you lose your job, you have to either pick up VERY expensive COBRA insurance, which forces you to pay what you were paying, plus what your employer was paying, or go without. If competition were truly in place, then that same person could pick up a policy for $100/month, be incented to take care of themselves, and not run the same risk of bankrupcy from a catastrophic health problem and/or lapse in coverage and potential subsequent "preexisting condition" that is uninsurable.

The reason that Catastrophic insurance is not legal in most Blue states has to do with the history of insurance. As has been shown, if you don’t pay for most of the care you receive out of your own pocket, then your employer is paying it in insurance premiums. Somebody has to pay. There is no other way, if we are going to keep talented people going into the medical profession. Now, if you are being paid, in effect, income, for use with health issues, then you are earning more money than is obvious on your check stub. This income is not taxable under laws passed during WWII.

This income—and it IS income—is typically a bargaining chip for Unions in their negotiations with employers. If individuals could buy their own insurance directly from the insurers, this would reduce and likely eliminate the power of the Unions to use this to increase their own power. Keep in mind that Health insurance was the primary reason that GM and Chrysler went bankrupt. If you now consider that what the Union wanted was INCOME, not actual insurance, you see that the solution to the problem of costs is not to create a massive, new, Federal bureaucracy, but rather to require all States to legalize one-on-one, individual purchases of health insurance, preferably over the Internet. This is available in many States now, and needs to be available in all of them. This will genuinely increase competition, decrease costs, and maintain the quality and freedom Americans expect.

My summary: government interventions have distorted market conditions resulting in excessive costs due to overconsumption of health care, cost shifting from, for example, the state to the hospitals and the hospitals to the privately insured, and government monopoly support of 'chartable' hospitals which allows them to suppress private competition through innovative specialty care facilities.

Where the government monopolies and interventions are not allowed - for example in Singapore - Americans can fly there, get their surgery, take a vacation, and still spend less money than if they paid for the same care in the USA.

Framing the Health Care Disucussion, by Dr. Sowell

This piece by Dr. Sowell well compliments Dr. White's earlier post.

Incomplete Information - "You Don't Say"

The President defended his imprecise forecast for how high unemployment rates would go by saying words to the effect that "We had incomplete information." I was stunned at the admission. I wondered if he knew he was using Hayek's words for describing the reason why governments successfully organize economies. His case was built on the simple, brilliant insight that there is too much information, most of which governments do not have access to - governments always have incomplete information.

For more, google "The Fatal Conceit." This is a great, simple, short read and really tells all that is needed to know about why government organization of the affairs of men will always fail.


"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter -- 'tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." --Mark Twain

What Do The Islamists Want?

This piece answers the question - they want to end free markets and the West. They see free markets as providing a kind of assymetric warfare with which they cannot compete, and in fact, have come to see that arena as one they should not even try to enter for competition. That leaves the choice we've seen - destruction of the arena.

If they can end liberty, if they can stop trade, if they can reduce the West and our allies to an impoverished third world status, they will have equal footing, equality, a chance to better us.

Short of the demolition of world system of trade, they can only take the pot shots we've seen.

Our best defense? I think it's finding a way to liberalize the 'Muslim nations.' The largest driver for radicalization is the unbelievable hypocrisy of nations like Saudi Arabia which use religious police to oppress their citizenry in the name of Islam, while the gentry of that nation jet set around, whoring and drinking and living the life the police prevent the young Muslim from even thinking about.

Am I saying radical Islam is the government's fault? Absolutely, ours to some degree but certainly theirs.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Good Old Days ... Really?

“Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.”

Interesting piece showing how to analyze how things either are or or not better than they used to be.

Three Biggest Lies

I don't know if these exceed the three biggest lies which David Allen Coe famously advertised on his truly dark album "Underground" but these are doubtlessly among the biggest whoppers ever told.

Does he believe them?

I'm not sure whether I'd rather believe that he does or he does not.

Boortz Said It So I Don't Have To

I don't agree with anyone on everything but I do like this bit by Neil Boortz.

Samuelson On Health Care Costs

"In 2000, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- the main programs providing income and health care for the 65 and over population -- totaled nearly 8 percent of GDP. In 2020, CBO projects that will reach
almost 12 percent of GDP. But the deeper source of our predicament is a self-indulgent political culture that avoids a rigorous discussion of government's role. "

"What long sustained this system was falling defense spending and routine, though usually modest, deficits. As defense declined -- from 9 percent of GDP in the late 1960s to 3 percent in 2000 -- social spending
could rise without big tax increases. Deficits provided extra leeway. But these expedients have exhausted themselves. Deficits have risen to alarming proportions; in a risky world, defense cannot drop indefinitely.
Obama would make matters worse. He talks about controlling "entitlement" spending (mainly Social Security and Medicare) but hasn't done so. He's proposing just the opposite. His health care proposal would increase
federal spending. He says he will "pay for" the added outlays with tax increases or other spending cuts, but what people forget is that every penny of this "payment" could be used (and should be) to close the
existing long-term deficit -- not raise future spending and taxes.  There is little appetite for any of this, and so we face the consequences of much bigger government. Certainly higher taxes for future Americans. Probably a less robust economy. The CBO notes that elevated deficits would penalize saving, investment and income, while unprecedented tax burdens could "slow the growth of the economy, making the (government's) spending burden harder to bear." To such warnings, Americans' collective response is: Go away."

Taxing the Rich - How Much Is Enough?

So 1.4% of taxpayers foot over 40% of the tax bill - that makes me wonder how much is enough? When do we reach the point that folks will either stop working/investing or 'lie cheat and steal' to avoid taxes? The 50% level of taxation has been reported to be a threshold this week. That is, when folks are getting to that level of taxation aparently that's when they throw in the towel.

The part that is apparent is that even by taxing the rich as much as we are, there's never enough. There's an unlimited demand for politicians to spend other people's money, and the restraints in the US Constitution which were intended to prevent such have failed. What right to 'life liberty and the pursuit of happiness' can one claim when a politician can take what you traded your life energy to earn, and spend it to get his/herself re-elected?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ever Hear the One About the Feedback Loop?

Given that the earth's temperature has risen and fallen many times, even in just the short amount of time during which humans have inhabited it, one could assume that temperature feedback loops must exist (one must also assume that we are lucky that the sun, during our short time in it's glow, has remained relatively stable). This paper discusses one of those - clouds. Short version - as heat rises and ice melts, cloud formations increase, and clouds are more effective in blocking the sun's heat than ice is at reflecting it.

"Say what?!?"

When I heard this speech on the radio, I was stunned that he chose to ignore his own double speak. I guess it's only stealing if a corporation does it.

From Cafe Hayek:

Barack Obama, Supply-Sider (by Don Boudreaux)
Posted: 14 Jul 2009 07:31 AM PDT
Here's a letter that I sent recently to the Washington Post:
Seeking to encourage African governments to embrace institutions that promote economic growth, President Obama said yesterday in Accra that "No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top" ("Text of Obama's speech in Ghana <> ," July 11).
He's absolutely correct. So I trust that he'll offer the same advice to the U.S. Congress, for this body taxes every dollar of corporate income above $50,000 at a rate of 25 percent - and raises this rate to 39 percent on corporate incomes between $100,000 and $335,000. The average tax rate on corporate incomes higher than $335,000 is greater than 35 percent.
Surely Mr. Obama's understanding of the destructiveness of government confiscation ought not be lost on Rep. Pelosi, Sen. Reid, and Co.
Donald J. Boudreaux

Labor Law and History of Unions

This is a good piece to understand the major pieces of federal legislation that under gird labor unions.

My oped for the day: Unions are a government mandated monopoly on labor, which allows those workers in the union to avoid the perils of competition with other workers for their employer's favor.

The big problem? Unions are bad for workers, in several ways.

First, the Union's primary means to gain power is to breed discontent within the ranks - the more resentful the workforce, the more they see the union as their ally.

Second, the worker's under the union's protection are protected from all the other workers who would work for that same employer for a lower wage - this is particularly punitive for low skilled workers, who cannot produce enough to 'earn back' a high union wage and therefore are not employable at a union company.

The idea that the Federal Govt backs these unions by law - it should be repugnant to any citizen who cares about the less fortunate or about liberty in general.

I have no problem with a union not operating on a Federal mandate - at least that way, they take their own chances and suffer the consequences of what they do or don't do. With the Fed guarding their backs, they bully companies into bad decisions, and the results are becoming predictable. These union companies are finding themselves uncompetitive in the market place. The ultimate cruelty for their employees is finding they have no job and after bankruptcy, no pension.

Unions - bad for workers on all fronts.

A Simple Defense of AGW Scepticism

This is a short bit, but almost says enough to settle the matter. What would prove that man is causing change in the climate that would not have happened otherwise? It's a tough question - the 18 billion dollars plus climate change industry wants to make sure you don't think too much about it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Letter to Congressional Delegation on the Kennedy HC Reform Bill
Sir, for the reasons cited in the accompanying article – summary, this bill is going to cost the fortune we’ve already spent – I vehemently oppose the current health care reform bill.

I do not defend the status quo of US health care – government interventions have resulted in a system that is dysfunctional, over expensive and less effective than it could be. However, government interventions designed to limit the impact of previous government interventions is literally like fighting fire with fire – in the land of the free, shouldn’t we just try freedom first? In other words, doesn’t it make more sense to remove existing government interventions first before trying to ‘fix’ what we broke when those interventions were introduced in the first place?

I ask you examine the work of Herzlinger, Kling, and Porter to find the many options for reforming health care which would work based on INCREASED liberty vice increased Federal government control.

The President’s climate bill, health care reform, the stimulus, increased powers for the Federal Reserve, and Judge Soto Mayor – “No please don’t.”

The Fed's Success

This is a nice summation of how well the Fed has performed it's assigned mission - stabilizing the economy, rescuing us from the inevitable ups and downs that result from free markets. Thanks guys.

Think of this every time someone complains of market failures - for us to know what that would be like, we'd have to have free markets.

Oh the Irony

He doesn't get into the details - but try this on for size. The US Govt owes more than half a million dollars for your household. Yes, the day you become a household, you are a debtor to the tune of a half mil - and growing.

But 'we' can lecture to business and industry about greed and poor judgement.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Personal Help from the Experts

The things they say are indeed funny, thank you Dr. B for making the humor so clear!

From Cafe Hayek: A Win-Win (by Don Boudreaux)

Here's a letter that I sent today to the New York Times:
The Obama administration believes that the price of oil is fluctuating too much, and it blames speculators - whom it wants to rein in ("U.S. Considers Curbs on Speculative Trading of Oil <> ," July 8).

Rather than issue new regulations that might distort prices - prices that typically convey important information about market conditions - Mr. Obama and his lieutenants can better address this problem by themselves becoming speculators. Whenever they believe that speculators are driving oil prices too high (and, thereby, setting the stage for these prices to "fluctuate" back downward) Team Obama can go short in oil. Likewise, whenever they believe that speculators are driving oil prices too low (and, thereby, setting the stage for these prices to "fluctuate" back upward), Team Obama can go long in oil.

Not only will these brilliant public servants earn personal fortunes in the oil market, they'll also, in the process, mute the allegedly excessive price fluctuations (because, for example, selling oil short when its price is rising adds supply to the market today, thus relieving the pressures pushing today's price upward). And because Mr. Obama & Co. would use their own resources, we the public will be better assured that their actions aren't driven by opportunistic politics.
Donald J. Boudreaux

Framing the Health Care Disucussion

This one does a nice job of framing the debate. The terms and assumptions in the public debate are an absurdity.

This bit by my friend, Dr. Darrell Bingo White, frames the situation even more clearly:

Before we try more govt intrusion, we should try less. The govt intrusion is what got us where we are.

In this post, John Stossel makes the simple, obvious, often ignored point - what is 'power'? Who has it?

GM and other businesses can't take your money and your life like the govt can. However, when a govt is not sufficiently limited, its power becomes an irresistable force, creating massive incentives to bend that power to the will of those who compete to control it. The more limited a govt is, the less reason any would have to expend effort to gain favor from or control over that govt. This is the reason why so many paint business as the bad guys - they want a big, powerful govt to bend to their will, and don't like competitors, like GM and other large companies, who have both incentives and the means to compete with those who would rather not have to contest for control over the govt.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"Someones going to get shot""

I was driving through a southern state a couple weeks back and wound up in a mall looking for a chick fil a - kid's request. In walked two young good looking black teenagers - with two white gals on their arms. My first reaction was 'holy crap someone's going to get shot.' But the south is different now, not like when I was a teen, and besides the overly enthusiastic public displays of affection (another social standard that seems to have changed), nothing unpleasant happened. Thank goodness. If I don't like all change, I do like this change.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"Poppop, Did it look like that?"

My son (aka "Hambone") was playing a computer version of Axis and Allies, a WWII simulation game at the home of his great grand father last week. "Poppop" was a Lieutenant ( junior grade) afloat and in charge of several USN vessels on D Day. He made a daring trip ashore to take what was estimated by the Army to be a 3 day supply of blood plasma to the hospital just above the beach. When Hambone saw the beach on the computer, he said, "Did it look like that Poppop?" Poppop took a look and they talked it over, and Hambone later reported that some of the art in the game did, and some did not, look like what Popppop remembered. I was feeling incredibly blessed to have been able to put my son in the company of a family member who had "been there and done that." I wonder how it will seem to my kids and their kids - assuming I'm lucky enough to be the old guy who 'was in Iraq'?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Govt Cuts Off Its Nose to Spite Its Face

... which is not exactly a 'man bites dog' story, more like a 'sun came up again this morning' story. It also illustrates a Friedman maxim, roughly that any govt intervention creates negative eventualities that eventually form the basis for the next govt intervention.

In this case, it's one really pathetic example of government intervention in the market place which can have ONLY negative eventualities - which then so eviscerates GM that the government "had to" intervene to 'save' the company. I wish I was funny enough to make movies about stuff like this - a kind of libertarian Michael Moore.

Gorman on Health Insurance

This piece offers tremendous insight into the price distortions prior govt interventions have had on health care costs. Conclusion follows:

"Eighty years after governments began seeking to determine the shape of U.S. health coverage, economists who study direct-purchase insurance have created a body of literature suggesting that market-oriented health care reform has far more promise than the decades-old plans that seek to impose the Blue Cross model on the entire population. In view of Medicare's insolvency, reform plans calling for further expansions of the Blue Cross single-price guaranteed-issue model, both via Medicare/Medicaid expansions and so-called "public" policies designed by government and sold through government run connectors, are unlikely to succeed in providing more medical care for more people at current expenditure levels.

Direct-purchase of health coverage, along with guaranteed renewability, flexible premiums, and high-risk pools, is a promising approach to reducing health care costs, increasing the value received for health care expenditures, and making more healthcare available for all. Given that roughly the same percentage of people has had health coverage for the last 20 years despite numerous expansions of government coverage programs and a massive increase in illegal immigration, the direct-purchase results also suggest that expecting everyone to have coverage is not a sensible policy goal.

Another danger, one too infrequently considered in the drive to lavish government funds and attention on extending the 70-year-old Blue Cross model to basically healthy people, is that insuring everyone is an unattainable goal. No one can make an adult alcoholic or drug abuser sign up for anything. If government gets out of the way, basically healthy people should be able to make their own health financing arrangements. Furthermore, the focus on universal coverage diverts attention from the radical reforms necessary to save Medicare and Medicaid, two government programs based on the Blue Cross model that are dysfunctional, insolvent, and already failing the frail and vulnerable people who depend on them."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What is seen v what is not seen

My letter to the TNR regarding this story:

The author chose not to comment on all the existing government interventions which have resulted in the currently non-competitive health care insurance market. For those who value liberty - and given that government coercion in the markplace is an affront to liberty - the obvious first step is to remove market distorting government interventions.
The vast majority of what is broken in the US's present health care system is described by Michael Porter of Harvard as a 'broken value chain.' Consumers of health care are insulated from costs and providers of both health care and health care insurance policies are insulated from competition by government interventions. The result is a system that incentivises behaviors like defensive medicine, overconsumption of unneeded care, low quality of information about what treatments and providers are most effective, and business processes and systems which are not responsive to either patient or provider needs. In the end, I'm sure we'll get some bloated, unaffordable govt program which will further validate the Milton Friedman maxim that the negative eventualities of any government intervention rapidly become the justification for the next.

Liberty v Notliberty - How that would look in health care

This is TNR's unimaginative view of a non-govt option insurance future. It completely ignores all of the existing govt incentives that prevent insurance competition. In any issue of liberty, and govt coercion exerted towards how citizens receive and pay for health care is certainly a matter of liberty, the default should be towards no govt intervention - or the least possible amount if intervention is judged necessary. In this case, the 'least possible intervention' would be to remove existing govt interventions and allow the market to work.

Here's a piece written by the late Milton Friedman describing how that could be approached:

Unfortunately, the political scene is not fertile for ideas about how great liberty is. The only political ideas that sell, presently, are how govt can take a little bit of your liberty (the phrase "only $19.95" comes to mind) but will give you much much much more in return.

Which reminds me of this quote:

"The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a good measure of both." Milton Friedman

Govt - Brought to you by Boogey Men for 1000s of Years ...

The only thing different in this report and the average person's anxiety driven fantasy is that your tax dollars were purloined to produce the report. Fantasy is still free in this country. They cannot even prove causality for temperature fluctations - this is nothing but a political sales pitch. Washington Post does a 'nice job' of reporting by not even mentioning the number and significance of the assumptions required to even generate this kind of report. It's the oldest trick in the govt book - identify the boogey man and position the govt as the only posible savior ...

A short piece on just how not settled the science of AGW is:

A short piece on just how absurd 'waxman-markey' is:

"Cap and trade schemes do nothing to foster energy independence, though they hold the distinct possibility of making us more "dependent" on foreign oil imports. Having to pay for expensive carbon credits will be an incentive for many American companies to close their carbon-emitting businesses and move abroad to places less devoted to destroying themselves."

On Health Care Cost Drivers

Dr. B has a gift for wrapping up complex issues in an understandable, concise bite. This one explains why the US's present system drives costs higher by distorting the supply/demand relationship via third party payment.

This one, by John Stossel, explains the innovative system that the British and Canadian government run systems use to hold down their health care costs (although the Canadian system is still very expensive, though it is 'free at the point of sale') - they offer less care.

Then there's this one, pointing out that we only have to speculate a little bit on what the impact of a cap and trade bill would be, since California has already OPTESTed this philosophy:
Cali has outsourced their energy production, employment and overall productivity - they have less money, therefore they spend less per/capita on energy. Great idea.
Finally, notice the pressure within EPA to make sure there are no voices of dissent. If this guy's under this much pressure not to say "hey guys, I don't think we should trust the IPCC report" imagine what the pressure would be on a guy who thinks "this is all a load of hoaxy huey"?