Sunday, August 23, 2009

Medicare is effiecent? Please

If I have to read or hear anymore idiotic arguments that Medicare is an example of a successful government run healthcare program that has demonstrated its efficiency at keeping costs low I think I'll puke. If I wanted to keep my electric bill low, I could do it just like Medicare does with health care -- pay 10% of the bill. Of course, the power company would soon shut of my power. And that is what happens with Medicare as an increasing number of providers refuse to accept Medicare patients. The only alternative is to bill their non-Medicare patients for the difference or close their practice.

This wouldn't have to happen if Medicare paid the same as everyone else. While costs would go up for Medicare, they would go down for everyone else. But this is somewhat of a false savings. If Medicare pays more, it is doubtful the government will charge higher premiums to Medicare recipients, so the rest of us will have to pay higher taxes to cover it. Oh well, we can use what we save on health care premiums.

But cover the entire population with a program run like Medicare? How many health care providers do you think would continue to accept patients whose health plan doesn't pay? What is the solution to that? Pass a law forcing them to accept the heavily reduced payments? And after that a law forcing a percentage of high school graduates to study and practice medicine? That wouldn't require a new program, just authorize the Selective Service to draft them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Politics of Healthcare

The Politics of Healthcare

Obama came into office with a promise to reform healthcare. This meant different things to different people. Universal healthcare available to all at a price they could afford, An optional government run healthcare program, a single payer government healthcare program, whatever.

Now, Obama has defined what he wants and the Democrats are shocked! shocked! I say, that there are those that actually don't want it. Not understanding or accepting that a lot of people don't really want the government involved in their healthcare decisions, the Dems decided that anyone protesting the program must be GOP plants that aren't interested in the healthcare issue, just in seeing Obama fail.

Well, hell yes they want to see Obama fail! Specifically on the healthcare issue. Because they don't want the government involved in their healthcare in spite of what others may think is best for them..

In every issue of national policy, there is at least two sides. Each wants what it thinks is best for the country, each thinks the other is wrong, each thinks that it is right. And each accuses the other of being unpatriotic and of betraying the American ideal.

And both are correct and wrong on all counts at the same time. It is called politics and it is the way things work in a democratic republic (or a republican democracy, take your pick). The answer lies somewhere in the middle, in compromise between opposing views. Once upon a time, this middle ground was sought. Sometimes it still is, but usually only on issues of little importance. On important issues, idealism holds sway and the rhetoric becomes vitriolic. If one side has a majority and wins out, the other is highly resentful and less likely to compromise in the future, especially when they hold the majority.

The best outcome we can hope for on important issues is a deadlock that forces a compromise that neither side is really happy with. That usually means everybody wins.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Air Condition the World?

Air Condition the World?

It isn't enough that Obama wants to be the nation's banker, automaker, father figure and fearless leader that turns the US into the largest socialist-totalitarian state since termites were discovered. Now he wants to air condition the world.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Playing by the rules

What do DPD Officer Robert Powell and the financial markets have in common? A stunning lack of personal responsibility and common sense.

Rather than rely on their own common sense of decency and right and wrong, they rely exclusively on rules made by others to justify their actions. It is not wrong for them to do this, It is what we as a society have been emphasizing for at least the last half century.

In a story in today's Dallas Morning News, these two paragraph at the end stand out:

When questioned by commanders facing increasing public outrage, Powell, who has been a Dallas officer for three years, told his superiors he felt he did nothing wrong in the Moats traffic stop.

According to several Dallas police officers, many young officers share Powell's assessment of the incident. Seasoned officers who have seen the video, including most members of the command staff, said they were aghast and embarrassed at Powell's conduct.
Clearly, the younger generation of cops see Powell's actions justified by both the letter of the law and their job description. Their superiors and veteran cops see it a bit differently. Who is right? Well, I kmow that I would rather encounter one of the veterans.

Most of us think that bankers making subprime housing loans used questionable judgement (well, I'm sure the loan applicants didn't see it that way) but the bankers were just following the rules and guidelines in force at that time. Still, if it were my money at risk, I would rather see common sense rule the day.

In any game, the players have to follow the rules, but when the rules change over time, sometimes the change takes place before the rulebook is reprinted, When different players are unwittingly playing by different sets of rules, keeping score can be the least of their worries and survival becomes the name of the game.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What we don't know about what we know

What we don't know about what we know

The argument between evolutionists and creationists continues and will for some time. Whenever I read the arguments of each side I am astounded and frustrated by how they always seem to be arguing past each other without even trying to understand what the other is saying.

As I see it, evolution is still an unproven theory. There is a lot of support for the theory in the fossil record but the same record also gives rise to questions evolution theory fails to address. Creationists pounce on this as disproving the theory. All it really does is fail to prove it and raise unanswered questions. Until those questions are answered, the theory is neither proved or disproved.

Creationists argue that the world and all that is in it was created at once (usually 8000-10,000 years ago). in spite of the fossil record and other evidence that the universe and the earth are billions of years old. Evolutionists claim this disporves creationism, Not so. Creation theory rpostulates an omnipotent creator. Such a creator could create anything he desired--including the fossil record and astronomical evidense of age. Why? To create a requirement of faith in the face of doubt.

Which side is right? I don't know yet, but as Donald Rumsfeld once said:
As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, We know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know.

One thing I know is that as human beings, we will always assume that what we know we know will not be disproved by what we know we don't know, which means we don't know we don't know everything about what we do know.

And if you know what I just said, you know what I'm talking about.

Do we own the government - or does the government own us?

Do we own the government - or does the government own us?

In Cheryl Hall's column, "Do we own AIG - or does AIG own us", in today's Dallas Morning News, at the end she writes:

Let's face it. We are experiencing the impotency that shareholder rights enthusiasts such as Monks have railed against for years.

Individual shareholders can't outmuscle management. And the vast majority of large institutional investors are too lazy, too uncaring and/or too financially conflicted to keep management in check.

"The result is a class of zombie owners who mostly have no idea what they own and largely don't care as long as the stock price continues its ascent," he says. "Active ownership serves as a counterweight to the natural tendency of CEOs and other high-ranking executives to collude in their own self-interests."

Now, he says, it's time for the federal government to come out of its stupor.

That sounds very much like the relationship of the average voter to the US government:

Individual voters can't outmuscle congress. The major campaign contributors care only about their own special interests and the mainstream media are either too lazy, uncaring or too ideologically conflicted to engage in the kind of objective journalism that both informs the public and helps keep the government in check.

The result is a class of zombie voters who mostly have no real idea who they are voting for and largely don't care as long as the pork rolls in. An active electorate serves as a counterweight to the natural tendency of congressmen, bureaucrats, and lobbyists to collude in their own self-interests.

Perhaps it's time for the American voter to come out of their stupor.

And no, voting for Obama was part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Restored rights for felons?

Restored rights for felons?

In a post over on Alphecca, among the comments is one by AndyA. suggesting that felons who commited non-violent felonies such as political corruption or financial mismanagement should have their rights restored (so they can vote and own guns among other things). A simple reason comes to mind: The loss of rights is one of the consequences of committing a felony. It is one of the things that sets felonies apart from misdemeanors. In this era of plea bargaining, probation and parole, it is often the only thing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Death of Journalism

The Death of Journalism

There is a new movie out about the media's love affair with Obama. It is available at The video is $19.95, but at least check out the trailer.

Tomorrow Belongs to Who?

I woke up the other day with a tune from "Cabaret" running through my head: Tomorrow belongs to me". You know the one. Starts out as an ode to springtime, promise and hope and ends as a Nazi marching song with the verse:
O' Fatherland, Fatherland show us the sign,
Your children have waited to see.
The morning will come when the world is mine,
Tomorrow belongs to me

I wondered why that tune was in my head and then I realized I was hearing different words:
And now, a new Leader has given the word,
The world has been wanting to hear,
"We are the change we've been waiting for"
Tomorrow, it seems, is here.

And then I knew why:

A charismatic speaker who attracts throngs of dedicated, even fanatical followers that go away from his speeches enthralled, excited and motivated to follow wherever he leads but not a damn one of them has a clue what he was really talking about doing or how he planned to do it.

The identification of a prosperous segment of society as greedy profiteers and the cause of all of the nations (or even the world's) ills -- ills to be cured by the confiscation and redistribution of the wealth of that segment.

A plan for national recovery and progress that appears to be based on the nationalization of major industries and financial institutions along with the harnessing of individuals into collective actions to achieve goals defined by the government. Individuals must set aside their personal goals as pursuit of personal goals are greedy and selfish (unless the personal goal involves overcoming a perceived hardship inflicted by the greedy profiteers. Then it becomes a national duty to help). H.R 1388, recently passed by the house includes a plan to set up a "volunteer corp" and consider a mandatory service requirement (read more commentary here). It also refers to uniforms to be worn by volunteers and a "National Civilian Security Force". Hmm...will the shirts be brown or black, I wonder?

All of us being told to get out of the way and get in line or get run over...or rounded up. When voluntary (i.e. unpaid) service is mandatory, that used to be called slavery.

I expect a new energy policy that supports railroads for mass transit. I'd think about investing in cattle car futures but I'll probably be riding in one soon enough. Things move faster these days. A lot has changed in 75 years. I wonder what a 21st century Kristallnacht looks like? Do they still make Zyklon B?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just what we need...

First, read this: Homeland Security plans for violence on US border

Stronger law enforcement? We've needed that for a long time. Just enforcing existing immigration laws would go a long way. Stronger laws would be even better.

Tighter gun control? If by "gun control" they mean "being able to hit the target", I'm all for it. If it means more vlolations of the 2nd Amendment, NOT!!!

Mexico has a problem with drugs and violence and somehow the solution is to infringe on the Constitutional rights s of US citizens? I don't think so. Mexico thinks it has a problem with guns coming in illegally from the US? Well guess what? The US has a problem with Mexicans coming in illegally from Mexico. We can certainly do something about the guns going south by effectively enforcing existing laws. I suggest we do that, then we can use the guns to stop the illegals going the other way.