Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

For "a human being, the question 'to be or not to be,' is the question 'to think or not to think.'" Ayn Rand

30 September 2009

Ohio Senate Passes Resolution Asserting 10th Amendment Rights

The Tenth Amendment Center reports that the Ohio Senate passed a resolution on 29 September 2009 by a vote of 19 - 12 to
claim sovereignty over certain powers pursuant to the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, to notify Congress to limit and end certain mandates, and to insist that federal legislation contravening the Tenth Amendment be prohibited or repealed.
If the Ohio House of Representatives also passes the resolution, Ohio will become the 8th state to have passed such a resolution in 2009. Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Tennessee have already passed such resolutions in 2009. These state sovereignty resolutions are a first step toward forcing the federal government to obey the limits on its powers given in the Constitution.

Charles Key, the author of the Oklahoma sovereignty resolution, says these resolutions are akin to the cease and desist notice a landlord gives a non-paying tenant. Before you eject the tenant, you serve notice. Key says there is a definite plan to follow up on this notice with further action.

The Tenth Amendment Center notes that there have already been a number of state nullification efforts. Among them:
  • A rebellion against Bush's Real ID, which has rendered that law virtually null and void.
  • 13 states have passed marijuana laws opposing federal law.
  • 2 states have passed laws nullifying some federal gun regulations.
  • Up to 10 states may vote on state constitutional amendments banning national health care.

29 September 2009

Oklahoma High School Students Cannot Pass Citizenship Test

One of the principal reasons for acquiring an education is to be informed about history and to have sufficient civics knowledge to be able to function as a citizen in your society. We Americans have always further thought that every American child should be well informed about American history in general, the assertion of our individual rights in our rebellion against the tyranny of King George III and the British Parliament, the struggles we went through in the Revolutionary War and then again in the War of 1812 to achieve and hold onto our independence, the growth of a sense of the American nation from a collection of states and the development of the U.S. Constitution, the problems of lingering slavery and the sectional interests in agriculture versus manufacturing and trading interests, the advance of the industrial revolution with improving standards of living due to unleashing the talents of individuals as no other nation ever has, World War I and the great growth of the federal government, the Great Depression and the further growth of government, WW II and fascism, the Cold War and Communism, the great advances of science and technology, and the ever-continued growth of governments. Every child should understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They should understand the structure of our federal government and the limited, enumerated powers of Congress, the limited role of the President as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief, and the role of all three of the major branches of the government in preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution of the United States of America.

Many Americans argued that these functions were so important that the schooling of America's children had to be undertaken by government. Unfortunately, this viewpoint always failed to comprehend that government never wants to be limited and, most especially, never wants to be forced to base its legitimacy upon its protection of the rights of the sovereign individual. Yet this was the task the Constitution set out to hold government to. To accomplish this, government had to be kept away from the education of our children, not invited to steer their education as government wished it to be. The system of government-run schools we settled upon was largely copied from socialistic Prussia and was well-suited to the purpose of advancing socialism rather than the rights of the individual!

This process was also made easier by the required separation of Church and state, which meant that moral issues were to become almost undebatable in our schools. This kept serious discussions of morality in general out of our schools. This conflict of interest between morality and government is sufficient justification for the incompatibility of education and government-run schools. Thus stripped of morality, children were more and more susceptible to the propaganda of socialism.

Another key requirement to advance socialism was to not teach much of U.S. history and to over-emphasize every mistake ever made in America to try to take away any sense of American exceptionalism. The meaning of our Constitution and its role in protecting the sovereign rights of the individual were subverted. The understanding that rights could only take the form of individual freedom to develop your own ideas and to act to improve your own life in accordance with your own chosen values with only voluntary relationships with others was subverted. Instead the schools taught that each of us is everyone else's keeper, especially if that someone else has fewer material goods than we do. The schools taught a crass materialistic system of values in which little mattered except material goods, so these material goods had to be redistributed equally. The schools always assumed that the material goods were of that quantity available at that particular point in time, no matter that the number of goods grew much more for each new generation. The schools never concerned themselves with how this came to be. After all, this is not of interest to the public sector. Empty minds are what the public sector wants!

We have very solid evidence that the government-run schools have succeeded marvelously in dumbing down American children and making them susceptible fodder for the propaganda of socialism. An especially dramatic demonstration of this is the complete civic incompetence of Oklahoma high school students. In the spirit of disclosure, I graduated from an Oklahoma high school in 1965. The teaching of history then in my school was disgraceful, but it is clearly much worse now.

In an oral examination, 1000 Oklahoma high school students were asked 10 questions randomly selected from the questions used to test immigrants for citizenship in the United States. These immigrants pass the test if they answer 6 of the 10 questions right, which 92.4% of them do on the first try. The test is not a multiple choice test. The respondents actually have to know the answer and cannot get say 25% of them right by randomly choosing one of four multiple choice answers. Oklahoma students are "taught" history and civics every year through elementary school and high school. Let us see how the Oklahoma high school students did. The question asked is followed by the percentage of students answering the question correctly.

1) What is the supreme law of the land? Answered correctly by 28%.

2) What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution? 26%

3) What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress? 27%

4) How many justices are on the Supreme Court? 10%

5) Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? 14%

6) What ocean is on the east coast of the United States? 61%

7) What are the two major political parties in the United States? 43%

8) We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years? 11%

9) Who was the first president of the United States? 23% [George Washington, not John Hanson was expected.]

10) Who is in charge of the executive branch? 29%

Of the 1000 high school students, the breakdown in terms of correct answers was as follows:

None, 4.6%
1, 15.8%
2, 24.6%
3, 26.5%
4, 17.7%
5, 8.0%
6, 2.2%
7, 0.6%
8, 0.0%
9, 0.0%
10, 0.0%

Not one student answered 8 or more questions correctly. Only 2.8% of the students would have qualified to become citizens, had they not been born citizens! There were more students who could not answer a single question than there were students who could qualify for citizenship. 45% of the students could not answer more than 2 questions correctly. 71.5% could not answer more than 3 questions. 12th grade students performed barely better than 9th grade students.

So, it is clear that the socialist government-run schools in Oklahoma have done a fantastic job of rendering Oklahoma students perfectly incapable of defending their sovereign individual rights against the onslaught of socialist, nanny-state government. But is this unique to Oklahoma? No. A similar test was administered in Arizona and only 3.5% of Arizona high school students could pass the citizenship test. Jay Leno's Streetwalking tests across America, even on college campuses, indicate that this is a problem across the entire country.

I would have the federal government pass a law that no one can vote until they have passed a citizenship test. Every American who wants to vote should have to take such a test before they are given a lifetime award of the privilege to vote. What is more, students should not even be allowed to enter high school until they can pass the citizenship test.

There should be at least 200 questions chosen on basic U.S. history, government, and geography which every citizen should be expected to know. At least 50 of these questions should be chosen to be administered to each American who wishes to be allowed to vote. That person should have to answer 80% correctly to be allowed to vote. 60% is too low a measure of knowledge to give anyone the vote for government issues, since the government holds the awesome power of a monopoly on the use of force. Ignorant, child-like people should not have the power to direct that awesome force. Only people aware of the limitations the Constitution puts on the federal government and on the high cost our forefathers paid to protect our liberties, should be entrusted to maintain the government whose only purpose is to protect, preserve, and defend the sovereign rights of the individual.

27 September 2009

Obama will Intuit When to Read General McChrystal's Report

On 20 September 2009, we learned that General McChrystal, the commander in Afghanistan, had given a 66-page report on the deteriorating situation there to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. I saw an interview with Sec. Gates today in which he said he was sitting on the report while Obama decided what the new strategy in Afghanistan would be. He said he would decide when to give it to Obama. Then he corrected himself and said that he would give it to Obama when Obama asked for it.

What is really going on here is this:
  • Obama wants to concentrate on taking over the medical services industry and then on taking over the use and control of all energy, and then on union card check.
  • He needs all of his remaining energy for telling the world that America is nothing special and is just one among equals. Same, same constitutional representative government, dictatorship, communist oligarchy, and kleptocracy. They are all just peachy, except that the first does not do enough redistribution.
  • Obama needs to keep his socialist cadres happy while taking over medicine and energy.
  • Obama cannot do that if he gives General McChrystal the troops he wants in Afghanistan.
  • If Obama does not increase the troop numbers, he is blamed for losing Afghanistan, which he said he would fight for vigorously when he said we should abandon Iraq.
Now if I were President (ha, ha, ha), everything would be different! I would be putting constant suggestions before Congress on how to get the government out of all sorts of properly private sector activities so Congress and I could focus on the rational use of the enumerated constitutional powers of the government. In particular, I would note that defense issues are about the foremost issues for a proper President. I would also very much want to read Gen. McChrystal's report before I tried to formulate a new policy for the conflict in Afghanistan.

But this is not the way Obama functions. No, he seeks new, unenumerated powers as his first priority. He claims to be formulating new strategies for Afghanistan without the benefit of reading a report from his top commander on the ground. Somehow, he will intuit when the right time comes to read this report in the future..... after a new political policy is already in place.

There is a clear theme in place with this Democrat administration and Congress. They are not readers, they are talkers. They talk before they study an issue. They talk faster than they can think, hoping that that means they are talking so fast that we, the People, cannot understand how vacuous they are. Frankly, they are simply child-like. I am reminded of the child who pulls the toy out the hands of another child and shouts, "It's mine.", over and over, even though it isn't. But, they think if they shout this assertion enough, it will become theirs.

Yes, Democrats are people who never developed to the stage of adulthood. Sure, some Republicans are stuck in a state of ossified moral ideals, which represents another form of childishness, but this is but a single wing of that party. The problem of arrested development is more uniform in the Democrat party. This is a party which refuses to concern itself with
  • individual rights in most human activities, except selected sexual and drug use issues
  • whether an action of the government is Constitutional or not
  • whether they have read the legislative bills they vote for or the reports of commanders in the field
  • whether the revenues might ever be available to pay for the new programs they want
  • the health of the private sector, which supplies all the goodies the government wants to redistribute to buy votes
  • producing conflict among the people based on their age
  • producing conflict among the people based on their race
  • producing conflict among the people basd on their gender
  • producing conflict among the people based on their income
  • encouraging the People to be creative and productive
  • the health of the people, which requires motivated doctors, modern equipment, improved drugs, a general dissemination of new techniques and procedures, and affordable health insurance tailored to the needs of the individual
  • whether the People have jobs, though they make great pretense of being concerned
  • whether the interests of America are advanced around the world
  • whether U.S. companies can compete effectively and trade freely around the world
  • whether the People will have the reliable energy they need to produce goods and services, heat their homes and businesses, and can travel to explore America and the world
  • whether employers and employees are free of labor union coercion and violence
  • whether the intrusions of government upon commerce are so heavy that small businesses cannot cope with them and many larger businesses are at least hurt in international competition
  • whether the privacy of the People's financial and medical records is protected
Democrats are like a small child how cannot sit still long enough to read a book or even a few pages. They cannot concentrate on a complex issue, which all governing issues are, long enough to think through the consequences of government action. This inability to concentrate and focus on one issue long enough to think it through leads them to substitute their wishes for the real consequences of their actions. So they wish that raising the minimum wage will result in low income people making more money, but mostly it results in few jobs being made available for those with little developed job skills in reality. They wish that appeasing dictators will make them like us, which it does because then the dictators can take advantage of us to better take advantage of their own people. They wish that people with pre-existing health problems can be given health insurance while everyone's health care costs come down without loss of quality, despite the fact that everyone else's health costs must go up or be rationed in reality. Everywhere wishes are substituted for real consequences.

Unfortunately, when great power is put in the hands of a child, mass destruction often results. It is as though we gave the keys to the family car to a five-year-old and told him to get on the beltway around Washington, D.C. and have a ball.

Democrats Vote Against Allowing Citizens or Senators to Read Health Insurance Bill

The Senate Finance Committee is debating a version of a health insurance bill put forth by its Chairman Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana) called America's Healthy Future Act. Senator Jim Bunning (R, Kentucky) offered an amendment which would require the bill to be printed and posted on a website for 72 hours before the Finance Committee voted on it. The Democrats voted overwhelmingly against the amendment, clearly indicating their will that this bill will follow the Democrat pattern of being passed out of committee without anyone, most especially the citizens, having read it. Then, of course, they intend it to go before the entire Senate for a vote before anyone has had time to read it. Most importantly, the People must be blindsided!

It is reassuring to all of us that the Democrats in the Senate can intuit whether a law is Constitutional and in the best interest of the General Welfare of the People without reading these complex and long bills. The Democrats are all sure they are intuitive geniuses. I am really impressed..... by their insanity.

26 September 2009

Tides Foundation Screed Against Capitalism in Schools

The Tides Foundation is closely associated with Obama and many of his close advisers. It has put out an incredibly distorted DVD called The Story of Stuff on Capitalism, the actions and purposes of the American government, and on the environment. A friend, Paul Cohen, directed my attention to it on 22 September and this afternoon I watched a Glen Beck show in which he discussed it. That such a viewpoint is supported by the Tides Foundation, with its close connections to Obama and friends, should be most frightening. It is still more frightening because the government-run schools are using this widely to indoctrinate our children, just as Hugo Chavez is now indoctrinating the children of Venezuela in its public schools!

Basically, it says that the purpose of government is supposed to be to take care of the people, but instead government is the shoeshine boy for big corporations, which are so big that of the 50 largest economies of the world, 48 are corporations and only two are countries! The purpose of the corporations is to destroy the planet, using up all of America's resources and those of the rest of the world. Then the corporations poison us all with toxins, but many people have to work amid the toxins for them for almost nothing and without health care because they are desperate due to the destruction of the planet! Goods are designed to break quickly so they have to be replaced. Advertising indoctrinates us all into becoming consumers by telling us we suck if we have not purchased the most recently produced stuff with all its arbitrary, useless changes. We are then inundated with trash, about 4.5 pounds each per day. Getting rid of it, further exposes us to toxins and damages the earth with landfills.

It tells our children they must join the environmentalists in ending the use of resources, fight for stronger labor unions and labor protection laws, fight for health care, to end the use of all toxic materials, to end advertising, to close landfills and shutdown incinerators, and join in other socialist goals.

Glen Beck pointed out that its claim that the U.S. only has 4% of its original forests was likely to mislead children. Many of them would conclude that rapacious corporations cut down 96% of all forests and they were never to return. In fact, more forest since colonial times has been lost due to lightening than to lumbering operations. And in both cases, the land usually is replanted. Actually, we have as much forest land now as we did in 1900, and since the 1960s the forests have been improving in terms of health and tree size.

Annie Leonard, the narrator, also claimed that after 9/11 when George Bush might have asked us to grieve and pray, he asked us to shop. Actually, he did ask everyone to remember the dead and to pray for them, those who loved them, and for the United States. He also asked us to not give victory to the terrorists by disrupting our way of life. There was a sharp fall-off in the economy and he did want us to return to business. It was a serious problem, since many businesses did fail at that time. Beck also objected to this statement.

Let us revisit the claim that only two countries have economies larger than 48 corporations. The two biggest countries in GDP are the U.S. and Japan as of 2008. The next largest is China with a GDP of $4.4 trillion. According to Annie Leonard, 48 corporations have revenues in excess of $4.4 trillion! Incredible!!!! It turns out that Walmart is the world's biggest company with revenues of $379 billion. That is big, but China is more than $4 trillion bigger! Maybe she means there are only two countries with tax revenues that put them in the top 50 organizations with respect to revenues. Then Walmart and ExxonMobil have more revenue than does the Japanese government, but not nearly as much as Germany, France, Italy, or the U.K. Spain and Russia have government revenues exceeded by only a few of the largest companies in the world also. Again, the statement is false. Telling lies to our children in government schools should not be tolerated.

The presentation to the children also claimed that one-third of the world's natural resources had been consumed in the last 3 decades. We long ago finished consuming all of the world's oil according to many of the predictions of the past, so such assessments are rarely worth anything. Unless, of course, you simply wish to scare our children.

40% of U.S. waterways are undrinkable. I would be surprised if the percentage of undrinkable waterways was not pretty high in colonial times. Plenty of waterways have parasites and harmful bacteria in them naturally. The children are supposed to assume that all the undrinkable waterways cannot be drunk due to toxins put there by corporations. There are toxins put in the rivers by corporations, but the scale of their responsibility for this statistic is being exaggerated.

The U.S. has 5% of the world population, but consumes 30% of the world's resources and creates 30% of its waste. It also creates most of its medical advances, which should be cut back to 5% of all medical advances allowed by this logic. Apparently, the U.S. is supposed to use or contribute no more than 5% in any category of production, use, and creation. Hogwash. Besides, we have greatly extended the lifespan of people throughout the world, helped to end slavery around the world, and served as the example to many countries to get them to protect property rights and to allow their people some individual rights and more economic rights. I suppose we were only supposed to make a 5% contribution there also.

If everybody consumed at U.S. rates, we would need 3 to 5 planets. Five planets were shown. If everyone consumed at U.S. rates, then we could assume that everyone was as inventive and productive and we would develop many more resources. The size of the resource pie is not fixed, as is usually assumed by socialists.

There are over 100,000 synthetic chemicals in commerce today. This is presented as though it is a bad thing. Is it not marvelous how inventive we humans are?

U.S. industry admits to releasing over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals a year. Wow, U.S. industry is dumping more than 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals a year into our air, land, and water! Well no. The EPA so-called "release report" is really only asking industry what they are making or using, not what they are disposing or allowing to escape. So, copper, silver, nickel, cobalt, chromium, fumed aluminum, and other metals are included even though the copper becomes copper wire, silver becomes jewelry, the nickel, chromium, and cobalt go into metal alloys, and the fumed aluminum is captured in a matrix of other materials. Urethane and styrene are counted as toxic, which they are when in short chain lengths, but after manufacture into a product, they are in a long chain form and pretty inert in most cases. They go into packaging, cushions, car dashboards, sealants, rubbers, etc., and are not much of a safety threat! Ethylene glycol is listed and is used in anti-freeze, but do not drink it, please. Lithium carbonate is listed. Eat a wee bit and it will make you a bit mellow, but do not use more. It is used to treat depression. Also it is used as a fluxing agent for ceramics and a ceramic enamel ingredient to coat aluminum. The products are not dangerous, but the amount used is counted by the EPA. Isopropyl alcohol is also listed. Yes, you should not drink your rubbing alcohol. Ammonia, used in cleaners, is also counted. Again, do not drink your cleaners. Of course, many of the chemicals listed are truly nasty, but they are handled as such and recycled in processes and less and less is released with time. But, it is all counted in this EPA "release" report whether it is released or not or is released in a harmless form.

Our children are told that it is bad that: The average U.S. person consumes twice as much now as 50 years ago. National happiness peaked in the 1950s. We spend 3 - 4 times as much time shopping as Europeans do. The U.S. house size has doubled since the 1970s. Happiness peaked in the 1950s because they were so obviously better than the war years or the Great Depression years before that. Everything most people think is good, is clearly bad in the eyes of these Tides Foundation-supported socialist environmentalists. Clearly, people must not be left free to determine for themselves what is good for them. We need strong leaders to force us to do what is right.

Every garbage can we put out on the curb is filled with stuff that it took 70 other garbage cans worth of stuff to make. Among this garbage waste is, no doubt, the earth that was moved to get to the nickel, silver and copper we use. Given the track record above, I have little confidence in this statistic as stated and implied.

So, this is the view of Capitalism and America that Obama and his allies want our children to have. I believe this is most revealing and very, very threatening. But, this is just the kind of shenanigans one should expect that government-run schools operated by members of one of the most socialist unions in America would lend themselves to. This is very blatantly socialist propaganda worthy of a Hugo Chavez or a Joe Stalin, with a thin, thin veneer of polish. It also fits in nicely with the Cult of the Personality many schools are developing for Obama.

Mark Tapscott Gets It Too

During the presidential campaign, I warned that Barack Obama was a highly committed socialist who wanted to bring radical change for the worse to the U.S. He explicitly told us that that was what he was going to do, though he did not spell out all the changes. Nonetheless, he was also very explicit about quite a few of his radical and foolhardy changes. To fail to understand how he fundamentally viewed politics, government, the nature of man, the environment, and America's place in the world, one had to have one's head buried deeply in the sands of guilt for the slavery of the long past and for Jim Crow laws of the not so far past and be easily hypnotized by glib speech delivery.

Glen Beck has rightly come to be alarmed by the nature of the transformation of America that Obama intends. It is also clear that Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner also has Obama's number. They both understand that this is not just about Obama, but that the stage was set for Obama by many other long-working socialist cadre members with a grand totalitarian vision of a new America. Mark Tapscott is the Editorial Page Editor and wrote a great editorial on 24 September 2009 called Beware the Stalin in progressive hearts. It is well worth your time to read this essay in its entirety.

There are a couple of things I want to draw your attention to in any case.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services issued a gag order telling all of the companies participating in the Medicare Advantage program that they could not tell their customers about the effects of ObamaCare on the program. These companies were threatened with fines and jail time. Obama does not believe in the Constitution and he consistently does care about the First Amendment either.
  • He quotes Thomas Friedman, the NY Times columnist, as saying
    "One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century."
Mark Tapscott then says
That in a nutshell is the totalitarian temptation that plagues all who would use the power of the state to impose their vision of the good society on the rest of us.

It's the ever-present Stalin whispering in the progressive ear: "Ignore those reactionary, loud-mouthed, ignorant Tea Party protesters and decree Obamacare, Waxman-Markey, and all the rest of it. Do it now while you have the power!"
He suggests you read Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism and Paul Johnson's Modern Times to understand how the modern progressive movement came to be so infected with this tendency to totalitarianism. He also warns that there are only two more chances to save America, 2010 and 2012.

John Holdren Claims New Ice Age Likely

John Holdren, Obama's Science Czar, believed that the earth was cooling due to urban air pollution, dust from agriculture, and volcanic ash. He said this caused a 0.2 degree C cooling over the last 25 years. He noted that this seems small, but only a 4C temperature drop is needed to start a new ice age. He said that a 1% increase in low altitude cloud cover would decrease the temperature by 0.8C. We are feeding this effect by adding man-made condensation nuclei to the atmosphere with jet contrails and by other means. Finally, we are changing the earth's reflectivity by urbanizing, deforestation, and enlarging deserts. This is what he wrote in Global Ecology: Readings Toward a Rational Strategy for Man in 1971. The sixth chapter of the book was his essay with Paul Ehrlich, called Overpopulation and the Potential for Ecocide.

You can read a bit more about it at Climate Depot. Marc Morano reminded everyone about this. John Holdren was also one of the first to become an alarmist claiming the likelihood of man-made global warming, which is why he holds his position with Obama. Marc Morano evaluates him thusly:
My personal opinion is that Holdren is a “doom peddler” who latches onto the nightmare-scenario-du-jour — overpopulation, nuclear holocaust, global cooling, global warming (all of which he’s trumpeted at various points in his career) — and then wildly exaggerates it in order to scare the public into adopting his politicized “solutions.”
Holdren does indeed seem to fit that modus operandi very well. While Chicken Little was quickly seen to be ridiculous, John Holdren always seems to escape that fate to rise Phoenix-like once again to scare the public with another doomsday scenario. Somehow the doomsday just never arrives, but meanwhile, Holdren gets lots of attention. He is clearly an effective gloom and doom con-artist, which makes him just the kind of man one would expect Obama to draw upon for advice.

25 September 2009

Abandoned Veterans Await Their G.I. Bill Payments

The federal government never tires of giving us illustrations that its reach into all aspects of our lives has left it with insufficient managerial focus to perform any of the tasks it has abrogated to itself with competence. It insists on using force to take charge of task after task, usually after it declares the task too important to leave to the private sector with its insidious profit motive. Then it does the job without adequate motivation and with complete apathy and inattention. This leaves those who are wise or at least with heads a few feet above the sand, rather than in it, wishing the function could be returned to the private sector or was one of such a few government functions that the government actually would pay suitable attention to doing the task.

Many of our excellent volunteer military citizens take on the arduous and risky military life in part in order to later attend college and get a degree. We promise them this benefit. This academic semester, 277,000 veterans applied for college tuition benefits. More than 200,000 of the applications have been approved to date. However, even though college classes have been in session for weeks, only about 11% of those approved to date have received their tuition payment checks, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The Veterans Administration says it has issued 61,000 payments totaling $50 million to students. Perhaps many of those checks are in the mail or have been processed, but not yet mailed!

Back in March, the VA testified before the House Appropriations subcommittee on military construction, veterans affairs, and related agencies, that the agency did not have enough manpower to launch the new GI Bill that went into affect on 1 August. Apparently Congress was so busy giving money to ACORN, auto company-wrecking labor unions, passing a giant energy-use tax, and plotting the final take-over of medical care, that it could not be bothered to address this function so closely tied to recruiting a volunteer, intelligent, and professional military. Never mind the fact that defending the country is at least an actual Constitutional power given to the federal government.

This is only one failure of the VA which has come to light recently. In 2008, it was found that the VA had not followed procedures properly to tell veterans about the tests and medical experiments they were involved in. Earlier this year, it was discovered that 3 VA hospitals had improperly sterilized endoscopes, which exposed about 10,000 patients to infections, including the HIV virus. Just last month, the VA sent 600 veterans letters telling them that they had Lou Gehrig's disease, though they did not.

The federal government should be forced to downsize drastically. The reasons are:
  • Its function is to preserve, protect, and defend the sovereign rights of the individual, while most of its actions are actually restricting those rights and even predicated on the submersion of the individual within classes defined by income, race, gender, and a few other characteristics which are grossly inadequate to deal with the individuality of Americans.
  • Two-thirds to three-quarters of current federal government spending is to perform tasks beyond the government's enumerated constitutional powers.
  • No organization can hope to have adequate managerial focus on all of the functions the government has abrogated onto itself, especially given that so many of them are radically unrelated.
  • Few of our politicians are sufficiently intelligent, reality-oriented, and excellent problem-solvers to do even the constitutional tasks of the federal government. Almost none of them are wise enough to understand the need to live by the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

24 September 2009

Obama and his ACORN partnership

John Fund made a number of interesting comments in the Wall Street Journal about ACORN and Obama's relationship with it. On the many Sunday news shows he appeared on, only one asked him about his connections with ACORN. Despite the scandals due to the video taping of many workers supporting illegal actions, he said
Frankly, it's not something I've followed closely.
Fund says that Obama and ACORN go back to 1991, when he took time off from his law career to operate a voter-registration drive for Project Vote, which was an ACORN partner and was later folded into ACORN. Obama's effort added 135,000 registered voters in Chicago and gave an upset victory to Democrat Carol Moseley Braun over the incumbent, Senator Alan Dixon in the 1992 Democrat primary.

Obama was recognized as a community organizer expert and became a favored trainer at ACORN's Chicago meetings. In 1995 he served as ACORN's lawyer and worked on a lawsuit to force Illinois to comply with the federal Motor Voter Law. ACORN later used that law's weak voter registration requirements to add huge numbers of fake names to the voter rolls. In 1996, Obama's listing of his supporters in the campaign for the Illinois Senate started with ACORN, though it was not an alphabetical list.

23 September 2009

Murdock - ObamaCare Costs will Float Up and Away

This is again an effort to catch up on an older article with important lessons for us all as we fight the Obama and Democrat Congress in their determined effort to replace the remains of our free market approach to health care with a 100% government micromanaged health care system.

Deroy Murdock did a review of predicted costs on 13 August 2009 for government health care programs and the actual cost as it developed over time later. Murdock notes:
According to a July 31 report from the Congressional Joint Economic Committee’s GOP staff, “major health care reform proposals have generally always cost more — sometimes significantly more — than the highest cost estimates published while the legislation was pending.”

As Congress debated the launch of Medicare in 1965, the House Ways and Means Committee calculated that Part A, the hospital entitlement, would cost taxpayers $9 billion in 1990. In fact, that year’s outlay was $67 billion, outpacing forecasts by 744 percent.

In 1967, Ways and Means predicted that the entire Medicare program would cost the Treasury $12 billion in 1990. Actual expenditure: $110 billion. That is 917 percent more than projected.

Congressional number crunchers reported in 1987 that Medicaid’s Disproportionate Share Hospital payments (cash for medical centers that primarily serve the poor and uninsured) would be about $1 billion, just five years later. In 1992, thanks to loopholes that states exploited to milk Uncle Sam, this narrow program exploded to $17 billion, 1,700 percent beyond what taxpayers were told to expect.
He goes on to note that the ObamaCare-like Massachusetts Commonwealth Care, launched in 2006, was supposed to cost $472 million in 2008, but it actually cost $628 million, an increase of 33%. The 33% increase is my calculated number, since Murdock's number is mistaken. The demand for such government programs is usually much underestimated, though a desire to get programs enacted clearly causes government's to systematically underestimate costs.

This is clearly illustrated by the Obama administration's suppression of the real cost per family of Waxman-Markey carbon cap and trade as the free initial carbon credits stop being free. Obama claimed a cost of $700 or so per family when the program is scheduled to cost more than $1761 per family in a few years time according to government estimates. The Heritage Foundation believes the cost will more realistically average $2,979/ year from 2012 to 2035!

Of course,
government lacks the profit motive, which generally forces private-sector managers to control costs, lest they get fired. Government bureaucrats lack such accountability and rarely get sacked. And when federal expenses zoom into the heavens, Congress orders a fresh round of greenbacks to be spent, which the Treasury obligingly prints.
To which I will add this observation. When a government program grows, there are rewards for the program managers in increased influence, power, and perhaps pay. The incentives to manage costs are not only not there, they are replaced by incentives to spend more and more of the taxpayers' money. This is a phenomena particularly apparent near the end of a fiscal year when equipment, supplies, and furniture purchases are madly made under the philosophy of "use it or lose it."

Murdock observes that the IRS says this fiscal year's individual income tax revenues are down 20.5%, while corporate tax revenues are down 58%! In July, the fiscal year 2009 had overall tax receipts $354.2 billion less than at the same time in fiscal year 2008. Then there is the truly mind-boggling fact that Social Security taxes paid in 2009 are only $19 billion, rather than the $87 billion they were predicted to be this year only last year!

But, no shortage of government tax revenue should be allowed to interfere with the advancement of socialism! No, this is a one-time opportunity for the socialists, who control the presidency and both houses of Congress, for the first time in many years and with the most socialist of all Democrats in all the key posts! They are determined to do as much mischief with this opportunity as possible and there is nowhere they want to do that mischief more than to our medical care. We must fight for our lives, or we will soon be running for our lives, especially those of us who are elderly.

Darwall - Government Medicine vs. the Elderly

Rupert Darwall, a London-based strategist currently writing a book on the history of global warming, wrote an interesting Opinion in the Wall Street Journal on 14 September 2009. He noted that the Patients Association, an independent charity, had examined many end-of-life care cases of the British National Health Service (NHS) and had found "a consistent pattern of shocking standards of care." It gave examples across the NHS of "appalling treatment."

Darwall notes that the usual justification for socialized medicine is to provide access to care for the poor and disadvantaged. But this is best done by a benefits system and refundable tax credits. In reality, it is assumed that health care resources are fixed and it is necessary to prioritize their use for those who can benefit the most from them. So, Britain's NHS is the "national triage service." He notes:
It should come as no surprise that the NHS is institutionally ageist. The elderly have fewer years left to them; why then should they get health-care resources that would benefit a younger person more? An analysis by a senior U.K.-based health-care expert earlier this decade found that in the U.S. health-care spending per capita goes up steeply for the elderly, while the U.K. didn't show the same pattern. The U.K.'s pattern of health-care spending by age had more in common with the former Soviet bloc.
He notes that this assumption of limited resources lies behind Obama's claim that "We spend one-and-a-half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren't any healthier for it." Obama claims this threatens our economic competitiveness.

In my opinion, we would not be so tempted to view it from that angle at all except that we only offer tax breaks to companies for the purchase of employee health insurance. If we separated this cost from companies, then it would not affect their competitiveness and it would solve the problem of people losing their insurance when they lose a job or switch jobs. If the tax break for the purchase of health insurance went only to individuals, as it should, then their spending on health insurance would be viewed just like that on any other consumer spending, except that they would get a tax deduction for it. If Americans wanted to spend 1.5 times what other nations do and if they want to spend more specifically to keep granny alive another year or two or five, that would be viewed as entirely their prerogative.

Darwall questions what makes it bad to spend so much on health care? He does say that distortions such as malpractice suits and the absence of consumer price consciousness should be addressed. Putting insurance in the hands of the individual, rather than his company, and allowing high deductible plans with Health Savings Accounts is an effective answer to the issue of consumer price consciousness. Darwall observes that our greater spending on health care "incentivizes new drugs, new therapies and better ways of delivering health care. Government-administered systems are so slow and clumsy that they turn the lump of health-care fallacy into reality."

A 2002 Wanless report, which Blair's government used to justify a large tax increase to fund more NHS spending, found the NHS to be late to adopt and slow to diffuse new technology. The NHS more than doubled its spending from 1999-2000 to 2009-2010, an increase of more than 7% a year [according to Darwall, but I calculate that to be more than 10% a year], and still remains medically backward. This Wanless report examined five country's health care systems and found that only the U.S. was both an early adopter and rapid diffuser of new medical techniques. The U.S. is the world's "principal engine driving medical advance."

Indeed, which nation's scientists and doctors win almost all of the Nobel Prizes in Medicine? Those working in the U.S., of course. And it does not end with the fundamental scientific advances either, as the Wanless report confirms. Yet, Obama wants us to have the backward equivalent of the British NHS simply because he objects to the way we spend so much on granny to give her a year or two or five more years of life!

No wonder he is so sensitive on the death panel issue. It is because this really is one of the main issues, as recognized earlier by the professional publications of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an adviser to Obama on health care issues and brother of Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. The recent cover story in Newsweek also trod this path. As I have noted before, this path is inevitable once health care becomes a government service, rather than a personal consumer choice. This is so no many how many lies are told by socialist politicians to deceive the People, even if some of those politicians believe the lies.

21 September 2009

Obama Called on Individual Mandate Tax

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had an interesting Review & Outlook article on Obama's interview with the usually very Democrat-friendly Democrat George Stephanopoulos during one of the five non-Fox Sunday news programs Obama was on. George Stephanopoulos asked about the individual mandate,
the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don't.... How is this not a tax?
Indeed, how is a penalty as high as $3,800 a year in the Senator Max Baucus plan not a tax? But, Obama responded with a song and dance that the average family is paying $900 a year on average for the emergency care of people who elect not to have health insurance. The WSJ notes that only 2.2% of national health spending today is due to uncompensated care. In 2007, the per capita cost of all spending on health care in the U.S. was about $7600. For a four person family, 2.2% of four times this amount is $669, not $900. Of course, most family households have fewer than four people in them, so this is as high a cost per family for uncompensated care as you can produce with any semblance of justification and even that creates a false impression of expense. After all, children are only dependents for those tax years prior to the one in which they become 18 for some tax purposes. In any case, they eventually move out, usually.

Stephanopoulos persisted,
That may be, but it's still a tax increase."
Obama responded,
No. That's not true, George. The -- for us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.
Stepanopoulos continued to persist, by offering the definition of tax from Merriam-Webster,
a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.
Obama, equally persistently, continued to reject the idea that the penalty paid to the government for not buying health insurance is a tax. Actually, it is and it clearly is a shattering of Obama's pledge not to increase taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 per year!

Furthermore, it is not a reimbursement of the cost to each of us for uncompensated care that we may in some sense pay for yearly. 2.2% of $7600 is $167.20, which is much less than the $3800 one will be taxed for not buying health insurance. Indeed, many of those this tax is to be levied on are the young and healthy, while much of the uncompensated costs are for illegal aliens and older people who lost their employer-provided insurance when they lost a job.
The way to address the loss of insurance due to losing jobs or changing employers or starting a small business is
  • to allow individuals the same tax deductions they get if employers provide insurance
  • to make insurance more affordable with health savings accounts coupled to high-deductible insurance plans
  • to pull down state barriers to interstate commerce in health insurance
  • to prevent outrageously high court awards for medical malpractice
Note that the Democrat/Obama plans do not want to address any of these real issues. Indeed, they want to outlaw high deductible plans and end health savings accounts. And, of course, they are so in bed with the trial lawyers, among their biggest campaign fund contributors, that they are resisting all tort reform.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office is expecting the individual mandate penalty tax to produce new revenues of $20 billion over 10 years because ObamaCare's new regulations will make health care insurance so expensive that many young people and some who cannot afford it will pay the penalty tax to avoid paying the higher cost of medical insurance.

I marvel at Obama's persistence in lying. He is a much more frequent and polished liar than Bill Clinton ever was. The further a politician is to the left, the more need he has to feel comfortable as a liar. He has to adopt so many foolish policies, while pretending they have a rational basis!

20 September 2009

Decreasing Number of Doctors with Increasing Health Care Demand

From 2003 to 2006, the number of doctors in the U.S. grew at a rate of 0.8% per year. That is an increase of 25,700 doctors per year. Meanwhile, the U.S. population grew at a rate of 1% per year. Patients are increasing at rates faster than doctors.

The Obama/Democrat Congress health care reform effort intends to increase the demand still further for doctors by inducing people without health insurance now to acquire it and use it. They also envision a major increase in such services as preventive care, which they claim will reduce overall medical expenses and therefore the use of doctor time. Medical studies show that preventive care actually costs more and uses more doctor time, however. In addition, the mandated insurance plans will require expanded coverage for many medical services, increasing still further the need for doctors and other medical service providers' services. Despite the inevitable increase in doctor and medical service provider services generally, Obama and henchmen claim that medical costs will come down. Hogwash. Obama and his anti-reality gang of socialist thugs cannot control the effects of supply and demand. They can take actions to increase demand and to decrease the supply with respect to doctors, however.

The U.S. already has only 2.4 doctors per 1,000 population. The median in the OECD nations is 3.1 doctors per 1,000. The Association of American Medical Colleges found that enrollment in medical schools has decreased steadily since 1980. With current health care demand, they found that there would be a 159,000 doctor shortage by 2025. This shortage is already the result of the very unpleasant environment in which doctors have to work with skyrocketing malpractice insurance costs, less than adequate Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates, and arbitrary second-guessing of physician decisions by government bureaucrats for Medicare, Medicaid, and other government health programs.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission says that the number of elderly Medicare patients who had trouble getting a primary care doctor to take them increased from 11% to 17% from 2004 to 2007. ObamaCare will greatly increase the present aggravations of having to deal with government as it gradually takes over the half of the industry it does not yet control.

Investor's Business Daily (IBD) polled 1,376 doctors to see what they thought of ObamaCare. 65% said they opposed it, while 33% supported it. Asked if seniors would get lower quality care under ObamaCare, 65% of the doctors polled agreed and 28% disagreed. Asked if ObamaCare was passed, would they consider leaving their practices or taking early retirement, 45% said they would and 5% gave no answer. This means 360,000 doctors will consider quitting or Going Galt!

Who can blame them? They will be saddled with more paperwork, which is almost no one's favorite pastime. In order to try to fulfill its promises of more affordable health care, the government will put more pressure on doctors to reduce their fees and to spend less time with patients, thereby reducing doctor rewards both in remuneration and in personal satisfaction with a job well-done. With more patients per hour, more mistakes will be made and the number of litigious patients will increase, both leading to still higher malpractice insurance rates. Doctors will be underpaid and more weary even than now. What a life!

Massachusetts began the ObamaCare experiment in 2006. So have Hawaii, Tennessee, and Maine done similar experiments. In all of these cases, expenses increased faster than the national norm and doctor shortages became worse. Services had to be cut back. That is, rationing always resulted.

The Massachusetts Medical Society just released a study that found that insurance premiums are rising at a rate 22% faster than the U.S. as a whole. The doctor shortage is worsening due to the poor practice environment in the state. Primary care specialties (family and internal medicine) are in short supply for the 4th year in a row. The fraction of primary care practices closed to new patients is the highest ever recorded. Doctors in the dermatology, neurology, urology, vascular surgery, obstetrics-gynecology, family and internal medicine are in short supply. Recruitment and retention of doctors is very difficult, especially in primary care and in community hospitals.

Overall health spending, rather than complying with Obama's wishes, is higher than in the U.S. on average and growing faster, according to the Urban Institute. Apparently, Obama's wishes and claims carry less weight than does the law of supply and demand. The IBD survey found that this reality was well-understood by many doctors. 71% of them said they did not believe that "the government can cover 47 million more people and that it will cost less money and the quality of care will be better." It just is not understood by Obama and the Democrat Congress who are determined to use the force of government to force us all into their medical care hell.

Some may say that the American Medical Association (AMA) is backing ObamaCare, so the doctors must be backing it. The AMA only represents 18% of doctors and it is losing those who are members in large numbers because of its backing.

Great Britain's National Health Service (NHS) has a severe shortage of doctors. One-third of primary care trusts are flying in general practitioners from other countries to help them with their overloads. They actually fly in doctors from Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, and Switzerland, according to the British Daily Mail. Many of their resident doctors are already immigrants trained in other countries, in even much larger numbers than is the case in the U.S. or Canada, whose nationalized health care system is not as old as is Britain's. The overworked British doctors refuse to see patients at night or on weekends.

Canadian doctors can fairly readily emigrate to the U.S. and have done so in large numbers. What else is to be expected as a response to rigid work rules and income limits in Canada? The law of supply and demand always works, no matter what some people may wish and choose to impose through the use of government force.

Above all else, above the shortages, the increased costs, and the rationing of medical care that results with government controls, I worry most about the quality of the people who will choose to become doctors under this new regime. The most dedicated to their profession, the most independent-minded, the most creative, the most moral young people will Go Galt on the profession of medicine by refusing ever to become doctors in the first place. Only those who are easily brainwashed with the Obama duty to serve mantra will enter the field of medicine. The advancement and the quality of medical care will suffer horribly as a result during the lifetime of our children and grandchildren.

Many good doctors today will Go Galt and many a prospective good doctor will Go Galt by choosing a profession less enslaved by government. All good professionals are looking to enjoy their profession. They have the ability to excel in many professions, so why not choose one they will enjoy? My own daughter, Kate, worked in hospitals while earning her dual undergraduate degrees in Biotechnology and Biomedical Science with a 4.0 GPA while taking one-third more credits than she needed to graduate in four years. She decided she did not like the way medical care was already practiced and decided not to go to medical school. If medical practice were free of the harm already done by heavy-handed governmental regulations, I believe the profession would have had great appeal for her. As it is, she made the right decision to Go Galt on the medical practice profession and she made it without my input.

19 September 2009

The Obama Huge Health Care Insurance Tax

Let's calculate the tax that an employee will pay if his employer drops his health insurance coverage and pays the 8% payroll tax penalty instead. We will ignore in this calculation any other taxes that some people may pay due to taxes on very expensive health insurance plans or on sugary drinks, which are under discussion in the Democrat Congress. We are going to examine the new hidden tax, the tax which the politicians are pretending will be paid by companies.

A rational company pays an employee the sum of salary, benefit costs, and employer taxes which is justified in terms of the additional income the employee brings into the company. The employer taxes that are a real part of his compensation, despite the fact that they are of no use to the employee, are such things as the employer's contributions to social security, medicare, unemployment insurance, and worker's compensation insurance. If the cost of any of these taxes goes up, then the amount the employer pays the employee in salary and benefits should go down by an equal amount. These are all the costs of employing this individual and they are specific to this individual, unlike some other overhead costs such as for equipment, utilities, liability insurance, advertising, and many other overhead costs. They are also immediately changed upon hiring the individual or letting him go.

Let us suppose you are an employee who is being paid $100,000 per year. Your employer provides a family health insurance policy costing $13,500 a year and pays $10,500 of that cost, while you pay $3,000. After the deduction of your contribution of $3,000, you take home $97,000, ignoring the taxes that are also withheld. The company opts to stop providing health insurance and pays the 8% payroll penalty tax instead. The 8% tax is incurred because you are employed. I can tell you right now that you are going to wind up with 8% of $100,000 less compensation. You did not instantly start producing 8% more income for the company, but your employment is costing the company that amount.

Or, we can do some calculations based on that part of your compensation which is salary plus health care insurance benefit. Your salary plus paid health insurance benefit was $100,000 + $10,500 = $110,500. But now the company must pay $8,000 or 8% of your salary to keep you employed. But you are only worth $110,500 to the company, ignoring all other fixed benefits and taxes. So, the company is going to pay you $110,500 - $8,000 = $102,500. Whoopee! You have a salary increase of $2,500! Ah..... But now you get to pay for your insurance yourself. So, you pay $13,500 for your insurance. After paying for the insurance, you have $102,500 - $13,500 = $89,000 for other uses. Before your employer dropped insurance coverage, you had $97,000 for other purposes, so you lost $8,000. You might as well regard this $8,000 as a personal tax levied on you.

It is worse than this. You also have to pay your marginal income tax rate on the extra $2,500 you now have for your salary!

If you are a high-income employee or employer, Section 441 of HR 3200, the bill favored by Obama, imposes a further surcharge of 1% to 5.4% on you.

People making less money will not pay a full 8% net on their salary as you did. Depending on what their salary is, they will get a part of this back in a tax credit. But, whatever they do not get back is a tax they will be paying. Not your employer. If he does not instantly give you the extra $2,500 in salary, he may save some money for a short time. But, supply and demand in the labor market will cause him to give you your $2,500 salary increase in time.

Obama sure has designed a nice run around on his pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class or those with salaries below $250,000! He pretends he is taxing businesses, while he creates a giant increase in taxes on a great many Americans he claimed he would not tax more. He lied big time. The pretense is just too shallow for many Americans not to see through it.

On the other hand, many Americans actually do think that half the social security tax and half the Medicare tax is paid by the employer, not them. What dull poltroons they are! And they do not have a clue that their pay is reduced by the full amount of the unemployment tax and the cost of workmen's compensation insurance either. Yet, employers are mostly smart enough to take all of these costs of employment into account in setting pay and benefits packages. Those who are not, and there are some, are still driven to about the right compensation by labor market supply and demand and/or by their own company's ability to generate income.

Of course, understood this way, you and your employer should keep the company health insurance plan in place. As long as you both understand that if your company does not provide a plan, then your taxes are going up by 8% plus your marginal tax on $2,500, then he should keep the health insurance plan in place as a fully understood and valuable part of your compensation. If the plan is kept, you are making $8000 more than people with the same salary in companies without plans. They may have a salary $2,500 higher than yours, but you are in reality better compensated.

Aside from ignorance, the other big problem is that the government is going to be dictating the terms of acceptable health insurance plans in time. As it does that, the cost of such plans will increase due to the many things the government wants covered and the low deductible requirements. Preventive care, marriage counseling, mental health coverage, substance abuse, and many other requirements may add costs to the future qualifying plans. This will put more pressure on companies to drop their insurance plans. especially if their employees do not understand the consequences to them.

18 September 2009

Petition to Allow Oil Drilling in U.S.

American Solutions is asking Americans to sign a petition to encourage the Department of the Interior to allow drilling for oil and gas in the U.S. on federal lands and offshore. They are threatening to hold up the decision process until 2012! If enough people respond that we should drill now, there may be a chance that this delay will not be politically feasible. From their website, with a slight modification of the first sentence:

Sending a letter to the Department of the Interior is the next stage of the "Drill Here, Drill Now" campaign. Here’s why:

  • The Minerals Management Service (MMS), an agency within the Department of the Interior, chooses when and where we can drill for American energy through a public process called "Notice and Comment."
  • MMS is currently deciding whether we can drill offshore during the years 2010-2015. If an offshore area is not made open to drilling, there will be no drilling there until at least 2015.
  • What MMS ultimately decides is influenced by input from the public, and the deadline for submitting comments is September 21, 2009.
The petition reads:
I am writing in support of the development of more domestic oil and natural gas resources off our coasts by allowing all of the 31 lease sales proposed by MMS to be kept in the OCS leasing program for 2010–2015.

During the summer of 2008 when gas prices went over $4 gallon, the American people spoke loud and clear in favor of developing the energy supplies that have been off limits to us for too long. Just because gas prices have gone back down does not mean we’ve changed our minds.

It’s important that we begin to develop alternative sources of energy, but oil and natural gas will continue to be an essential part of our energy future for decades to come. We are currently sending billions of dollars overseas to meet our energy demands, even though we have more energy resources than any country in the world.

MMS should make access to all OCS areas a high priority for our nation to improve our energy security, grow our economy and generate local, state and federal revenue.

In terms of our energy security, for over 20 years the federal government denied access to an estimated 18 billion barrels of oil and 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the OCS. The resources expected to be found in these areas represent enough natural gas to heat 15 million households using natural gas for more than 77 years. And, it can produce enough oil to power over 20 million cars and heat 956,000 households for 30 years. These resource estimates may be conservative since the areas in question are largely unexplored, but, if given access to them, the industry can utilize today’s sophisticated technology to further define and tap those domestic resources.

In terms of our economy, opening all available domestic resources to safe and environmentally responsible development will significantly boost U.S. supplies of oil and natural gas. One study in particular indicates that the development of these areas can add 160,000 thousand jobs in the oil and natural gas industry.

Lastly, in terms of revenue, the federal government collected over $23 billion from the energy industry in 2008 which was distributed to state, local, American Indian and federal accounts. Additionally, one recent study indicated development of the resources on federal offshore areas and onshore lands that had been off-limits for decades could generate $1.7 trillion in revenues for federal, state and local governments.

For the sake of our economy, our energy security, and our government’s balance sheets, the next OCS plan should keep all the 31 lease sales in the 12 areas proposed for exploration and production with no artificial restrictions.
As I have noted before, the best practical step to protect us from oil and gas price spikes is to have as many sources of these fuels as possible and as many substitutes as possible, including coal and nuclear and any other economical and reliable sources of energy. Generally, the Obama and socialist-preferred energy choices are not economical and reliable. It is almost as though they are purposely trying to tear our economy and our civilization apart by depriving us of economical and reliable energy. Well, no, that is not quite right, because it is absolutely clear that this is what they are trying to do. Many sources of economical and dependable fuels abroad are a help, but that help is diminished by the fact that most foreign countries operate their oil industries through nationalized companies. The most valuable oil and gas with respect to the maintenance of our economy is that which we obtain in the United States.

It is true that we cannot and that we should not use only oil and gas from the United States. But our own sources do tend to stabilize the issues of availability and price despite being much less fuel than we need. Please do take the time to go to the American Solutions petition and sign it.

The Cost of Waxman-Markey Carbon Cap and Trade

The Competitive Enterprise Institute used the Freedom of Information Act to discover on 15 September that Obama's Treasury Department estimated the cost of the Waxman-Markey Carbon Cap and Trade Bill to be from $100 billion to $200 billion per year. The average cost per household at this total cost has been calculated and found to be $1,761 per household based on the higher end of that range, apparently. [In 2000 there were almost 106 million households and there are more now.] Of course, no such figure was ever announced by the Obama administration. If it had been, Waxman-Markey would not have passed in the House of Representatives.

The Heritage Foundation believes the cost of Waxman-Markey will turn out to be about $2,979 per year from 2012 to 2035 for a family of four and that about 1.1 million jobs will be lost on average because of it between 2012 and 2035. By 2035, there will be 2.5 million fewer jobs due to cap and trade. The average GDP lost will be $393 billion per year from 2012 to 2035, with the lost GDP at $662 billion in 2035. From 2012 to 2035, the accumulated loss of GDP will be $9.4 trillion in 2009 dollars. I expect they are much closer to being right than even the new higher Treasury Department figure as this program matures.

Media Matters for America, a leftist organ, responds that the uncovered report was based on a version of Waxman-Markey prior to the version passed, which included the 300 pages of changes dumped into it in the early morning hours prior to the vote. Many of the carbon emission certificates had to be given away in order to get the bill passed. I would not be surprised if they are right in making this claim. They also point out that Obama plans to redistribute much of this money to those taxpayers or tax filers whom he happens to favor, so many households will not pay anywhere near so much as they would otherwise.

This is beside the point really. The bill passed was just to get the government's foot in the door, so they could control the use of energy in America. That they will achieve, if they can get this bill or something like it through the Senate. To do that, there will be more horse trading. The socialists then intend to use the income from the still sizable effective tax increase to both build a further constituency of dependent voters and to bribe further industries and private companies to build up pressure to expand the reach of the carbon cap and trade bill. Remember, the cost estimates were only for the early years anyway. The bill clearly says that the carbon emission certificates will not be given away as the years go by. The cost of the program to the economy will increase at a rapid rate.

Yes, some of the money may be given back to some individual households. One way or another this is usually what happens when government spends our money. We get some service or other, often one we do not want. Someone is paid to work for the government and they pay taxes and buy goods and services from the private sector. The money filters its way back into general circulation. Unfortunately, it does so with huge waste as measured against the only valid method to make such judgments. How would each individual have spent his money if the choice had been left to him?

OK, so you and your household have $1761. Would you choose to voluntarily send it in to the federal government for the purpose of reducing the use of fossil fuel energy? Actually, it would do no such thing. The government would spend most of it on other purposes. But, of course, there is nothing keeping you from reducing your use of fossil fuels if you think that is a worthwhile thing. Ride a bike to work instead of driving. Take a train to NYC instead of flying. Put better insulation into your house. Hey, go do your environmentally conscientious thing. Just get off this kick of hiring the government to force all of your neighbors to make the same effort to achieve your environmental values. They may believe their time, effort, and money is better devoted to other values.

Besides, the global warming of the late 20th Century was not caused by man's emissions of CO2 and such emissions have not been and will not become the cause of a catastrophe. That this is so is pretty well understood now scientifically. But, the politicians and bureaucrats need every excuse they can find for expanding the power of government and for the formation of international cabals of governments, so they are doing everything they can to perpetuate the myth of man-made global warming due to CO2 emissions.

Obama is giving his first speech to the U.N. next week. It will be given at a one-day session on climate change. More than 100 leaders of nations are gathering for the event. They are laying the groundwork for the Copenhagen conference in December on climate change which is supposed to take nations around the world much deeper into reduced energy use than did the Kyoto conference. These world leaders are firing themselves up to bring more massive use of force down upon the heads of their people to reduce energy use. They will do great mischief, causing the loss of many jobs and bringing on much misery in their efforts to deprive us all of the great facilitator of comfort and action, energy.

Life is all about being able to take action to achieve our self-chosen values. To do this, we need the freedom to choose our own values. A part of the necessary process for choosing our values is to be able to freely explore our world and to experiment scientifically and with our own lives. Choosing your values is itself a long process of exploration and development. That process requires individual liberty and the recognition that each of us owns his own unique life. Having identified our values, we must act to achieve them. One of the great advances in the industrial age was the development of power sources that greatly enhanced our efficiency in action. We could travel further and therefore explore further. We could transport goods over greater distances and hence trade with many more people in many different geographical locations. We learned from them in the process. Man's ability to feed, clothe, and house himself became much easier. This gave many men more time to devote to learning and developing highly specialized skills and knowledge. Energy use to increase the efficiency of human action has become a cornerstone of modern civilized life.

We have been steadily using energy more efficiently. We now insulate buildings better than ever before. We have vehicles that use energy more efficiently. Industries use it more efficiently in manufacturing. Home appliances use it more efficiently. All the normal effects of supply and demand have worked to cause people to use energy ever more efficiently. The more developed countries use it more efficiently than the little developed countries. In some ways the government has encouraged this. In others, it has discouraged this. We have to remember that if government did not take about half of the entire economy's output from us, a substantial part of that output would have been used to further increase the efficient use of energy. Government, as usual, is surely more a problem than a solution.

We should oppose the Obama administrations energy restriction policies for all of the following reasons:
  • They infringe upon our individual rights.
  • The government does not have a Constitutional power to limit the use of energy.
  • Energy use is a cornerstone of modern civilization.
  • The redistribution of income by government is immoral.
  • The claim that CO2 is a pollutant is wrong and foolish.
  • Smaller, lighter cars are more dangerous.
  • Mercury-containing light sources are dangerous.
  • CO2 makes our plants grow better and allows them to make more oxygen.
  • Coal-fired power plants with good scrubbers for sulfur products are less expensive and more reliable than solar power or wind generators.
  • The U. S. has huge coal reserves.
  • The coal industry employs many people.
  • Biofuel is a terrible waste of farm land and resources.
  • It is a mistake to give government more power. It will abuse its use.
  • Every act Obama undertakes is to advance socialism and/or internationalism.
With such a list of reasons for opposing carbon cap and trade, it is mind-boggling that the opposition to it is not more widespread than it is. One would think that only the 15 to 20% of Americans who are hardcore socialists would favor it. Any freedom-lover or rational person should oppose this carbon cap and trade monstrosity.

16 September 2009

An Obama Lie: No Interference with Doctor-Patient

Obama tells so many lies that a rational observer almost has to assume that if he says something, then the opposite is true. Or, at the least, what he has said can never be given the credence of truth.

In his recent speech before a Joint Session of Congress, when Representative Joe Wilson rather indecorously declared Obama a liar to his face on one statement about illegal aliens not getting health care benefits, Obama lied about that and many, many other things as well. One of these was that once he establishes:
a publicly-sponsored insurance option, administered by government just like Medicaid or Medicare ..... I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need."
Michael F. Cannon points out that the Medicare program already gets between you and the care you need. It already has a review of care process in place to put pressure on doctors not to provide some of the care doctors are providing. He quotes a letter from a government bureaucrat involved in this review process. The bureaucrat points out that the doctors are between a rock and a hard place. If they do not lean toward giving more care given a severe medical condition with potential to become life threatening, then they are subject to lawsuits, which will cost them and their hospitals a fortune, even if the court decides in their favor. So, they are under great pressure to consider the worst case outcomes of denying care, rather than simply the straight odds. The review contractors and the reviewing bureaucrats have no such concerns at all. They do not consider the litigation consequences of denying health care.

And of course, the reviewers have the benefit of hindsight and they were not present to actually judge the health situation of the patient either. The records are all they have to go on. This is not always adequate.

A logical person would also consider Obama's claim that he would never let the government get between you and the health care you need if you pass his legislation to mean that Obama is President for Life and Eternity. If the logic of a program requires rationing, the program might deny that logic for awhile, but in the eternal life of government programs, it will eventually generally fall prey to its internal logic. Government-controlled health care must eventually ration health care as doctors become scarce and as expenses rise. You can count on it happening. Obama will not always be there to stop the program from rationing health care. Even if he were, he will no more stop the rationing then, then he has stopped the rationing already in the Medicare program, which is just now enlarging the review programs to ration care under his watch!

15 September 2009

The Evil Core of ObamaCare

What are the minimal elements that ObamaCare will settle for? ObamaCare will at least require that:
  • There is a personal mandate requiring the purchase of government qualified health insurance.
  • The young, those with healthy lifestyles, and the healthy must be in the same insurance pool as the older, the unhealthy, and those with unhealthy lifestyles.
  • Those who cannot begin to afford the resulting health insurance policies will receive a subsidy.
  • The lowest income group will be added to Medicaid.
If there is no "government option" or no "government promoted and controlled co-op" component in the plan, this is good, but these are actually secondary issues. The primary issues are those bulleted above. These four components to the plan will do huge destruction to our economy, to our health care industry all by themselves, and to our individual rights.

The first two items deprive each individual of any choice on how to spend his income and subject those least in need of health insurance to very much more expensive health insurance than they can now purchase as they subsidize others. The young, who may be paying off student loans and trying to find the money to buy a home, will be hit especially hard. Of course, many of the young deserve this since so many voted for the chief socialist community activist scoundrel BO. The first bullet also allows the government to determine what medical services are covered by a qualified insurance plan, which allows them to greatly increase its cost and to buy votes from many who offer those medical services. The second bullet removes all financial incentives for trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

The third and fourth bullets insure that government will spend huge sums of taxpayer money subsidizing the health care of large additional numbers of Americans. This insures that the government will have to dictate prices for medical practices to keep from smashing the piggy bank into a fine powder. As it is, Medicare has unfunded liabilities over the next 75 years which are said to be $30 trillion. History tells us the unfunded liabilities will be much greater than those now estimated. The government will have to make difficult rationing choices respecting health care because of this. This means that bureaucrats will indeed be standing resolutely between patients and their doctors.

The doctors will be treated with no respect and they and hospitals will be unable to find any other segment of American society to provide them enough income that the most able peope will want to become doctors. At the present time, the privately insured have to pay higher rates for medical services than the government pays for people in Medicare or Medicaid. This pool of sacrificial privately insured individuals will no longer be available to pick up the tab, so the costs which will have to picked up by the government will rise rapidly. Some combination of the young and healthy, of the general taxpayer, inflation, and in new taxes will have to pay the nation's health bill.

Many more people will be wanting more medical care, which was going to be a problem in any case due to the aging of the Baby Boomers. Now underpaid doctors and nurses who are treated like slaves will have to carry a heavier load. Soon, fewer and fewer intelligent people will want to become doctors, so the workload for those available doctors will be huge. Very long waits for medical treatment will ensue. Equipment will become more and more obsolete also.

And, the government will have a very tight noose about the entire health care industry and the bodies of each and every American. The right to life will be eviscerated. Each of our lives will be in the hands of a socialist bureaucrat.

A minimal ObamaCare health insurance reform plan has all the essential evil ingredients. Any health insurance reform plan suitable to these socialist thieves must be defeated. If it is not, the loss to Americans is most frightening to imagine.

Socialist Government Requires Company Bank Account Numbers

Just when businesses are feeling really uncomfortable with the knowledge that the federal government is now controlled by corrupt, anti-business forces and seriously committed socialists, the federal government now forces companies to make on-line payments of payroll taxes. To do that, we have to give the government our company checking account numbers.

Is there a pattern here? The government wants to make everyone's individual tax forms available to numerous federal agencies so they can determine whether to subsidize them for the purchase of health insurance or tax them more heavily as part of their proposed "health insurance reform." This same corrupt, socialist, anti-business government suddenly forces every company to give them their bank account number!

This same government has deficits which our great, great grandchildren will still be paying off. Is anyone getting nervous about this? Will the government simply declare that any company with more than x dollars times the number of employees in the account will have to forfeit the excess to the government?

13 September 2009

Pro-Capitalism, Anti-Socialism March in Washington, D.C.

My wife Anna and I went to the Washington, D.C. march on the Capitol on Saturday, 12 September 2009 to demonstrate in favor of:
  • The sovereign Rights of the Individual to his own life, his own liberty and property, and to the pursuit of his own happiness.
  • The moral and practical superiority of Capitalism over Socialism.
  • To defend and protect the Constitution with its severe limits on the power of the federal government in order to protect the General Welfare served by the Rights of the Individual, the violation of which is Tyranny.
  • To oppose the huge Debts destroying the future of our Children.
  • To reduce taxes and stop government spending.
  • To oppose the Chicago Politics of Special Interests and Thieves feeding in a frenzy upon the taxpayers.
  • To send the Czars back to Russia.
  • To prevent the government takeover of Health Care and allow insurance to be bought across state lines and to implement tort reform.
  • To protest the nonsense of Man-Made Global Warming and the Control of Energy Use by government.
  • To protest the Bank and Auto Company Bailouts.
  • To protest the Loss of Jobs due to the Pursuit of Socialism.
  • To protest the government's Anti-Business Bias and the intent to Kill Entire Industries.
  • To protest against Class Warfare and Racism.
  • To protest Congress's failure to read the bills it passes.
  • To protest the Arrogance of King Obama, Queen "Let them eat cake" Pelosi, and Jack "Jackal" Harry Reid and their band of power-lusting allies who refuse to listen to their bosses, The People.
I was impressed that so many Americans have come to understand what is going on and have discovered what the basic principles of good American government are. The media is mostly downplaying the number of people who showed up and is, of course, characterizing them in unflattering terms. The Democrat DC authorities apparently estimated the size of the crowd at 60,000 to 70,000 people, but there was a click head count at one portal into the demonstration area which reached 500,000 counted. The demonstration lasted at least 7 hours. I arrived several hours into the demonstration and I believe there were 100,000s there when I worked my way onto the East Capitol lawn. What is more, on the way there, the trash cans were full of many thousands of signs which had already been discarded by people who had left the demonstration before I got there! I am confident that there were at least about 1,000,000 people who attended the demonstration. You should look at the pictures of people there shown here. Most of the MSM reported that 10,000s of demonstrators attended the protest and many simply said 1,000s protested. How unbelievable! How obviously untrustworthy the MSM is!

I encountered people I knew to be from Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Michigan. I found that many understood that the global climate is primarily a function of sun cycles rather than man's emissions of CO2 from burning fossil fuels. I found that many understood that the real number of unemployed is much higher than the 9.7% the federal government claims it is. Others understood that the Democrat reform of health care was motivated by a desire to control the People's health and lives, not to improve health care. But most of all, I was impressed that most people understood that our government is one of limited powers given in our Constitution. They also understood that those limitations are primarily so that individuals will be free to manage their own lives, rather than being reduced to dependent slaves by their government.

Hurrah!!!! The American people cannot all be fooled for very long!

11 September 2009

The Essence of ObamaCare

First, we have to figure out what ObamaCare is. Is it something different than the various Democrat proposed bills before Congress? If we listen to Obama describe ObamaCare, we see that it is not consistent at all with the bills before Congress. For instance, he cannot resist saying that if you like your present health insurance plan, you can keep it. Nonsense, if HR 3200 is passed by Congress. So, this makes it seem plausible that his plan is different.

But, he also believes the debate has gone on far too long and Congress should hurry and pass a bill. It appears that whatever bill Congress passes, Obama will take credit for it and call it his plan. The plans now being considered by Congress, are apparently all this second-hander's bills, though he is said to favor HR3200. This, of course, makes Obama an out and out liar, given his description of his plan to the People.

What does Obama's plan consist of?
  • Everyone must have basic approved health insurance, though some covered by a company plan may have 5 years before that plan must meet approval criteria and union-negotiated plans may be exempt.
  • A basic plan is really a very comprehensive plan covering hospital expenses, doctor visits, prescription drugs, mental health, preventive care, substance abuse, and much, much more, with boards set up to add still more benefits as lobbyists make a political case for them. Plans cannot discriminate against those who are older or already diseased, obese, or with unhealthy lifestyles, so the young and the healthy will subsidize the older and the unhealthy. Obama says it is their duty to pay for such a gold-plated and charitable plan.
  • Low deductibles and co-pays are required. High deductible plans are outlawed. No co-pay or deductibles are allowed for preventive care. Health Saving Plans are effectively ended.
  • Low to moderate income individuals will be given a subsidy toward buying a qualifying health insurance plan to be paid for with new taxes and supposed savings from Medicare.
  • Additional very low income individuals will be qualified for the Medicaid program, which is already a huge burden on state and federal taxpayers.
  • Employers not offering an approved health insurance plan and paying a sufficient, but as of yet unstated, portion of the cost will be fined or taxed. HR 3200 makes this a tax of 8% of payroll.
  • Insurance companies will be taxed more, which they will have to add to the cost of their insurance plans.
  • High value health insurance plans will be taxed, unless they were negotiated under union contracts.
  • Taxes on high income individuals will be increased. The revenue increase is overestimated greatly.
  • Taxes on corporate foreign profits will be increased. The revenue increase is also overestimated.
  • Taxes on soft drinks may be increased.
  • Cost savings are to be found in the Medicare program to pay for part of the subsidies for insurance for low to moderate income individuals. CBO says these savings will not be anywhere near as great as Obama claims. Medicare has the statutory authority to reduce the money it will spend on elderly and disabled patients, since it can deny services that are not "reasonable and necessary," but the meaning of that has not been determined. Obama's and HR 3200's Independent Medicare Advisory Council has been tasked with defining "reasonable and necessary," so Medicare can start saving money on the elderly and disabled as Great Britain does with its NICE agency.
  • Obama claims preventive medicine will save money, but medical expert studies and CBO say it will cost more money.
  • Many new commissions and agencies are to be formed to watch over the health care system. The IRS will examine tax forms to see who qualifies for insurance purchasing subsidies. Other groups will study effective treatment procedures and require their use.
  • The government will set up a system of universal electronic medical records, presumably with the same success the Civil Aeronautics Board or the Immigration and Customs Enforcement have demonstrated with decades worth of failed computer and records systems. What will happen when they lose our records and there are no written records? What will happen when thieves steal our records?
  • Illegal aliens will not be covered, but no government agency or medical care facility will be allowed to determine who is legally present in the U.S. or not, so they will be added to the Medicaid roles or even be given insurance purchase subsidies, if they are paying taxes.
  • The CBO says the cost will be over $1 trillion in the next 10 years, but most of the expense is in the last 7 years. The CBO does not include $300 billion in additional interest payments on increased debt or the cost of the added federal and state bureaucracies to administer ObamaCare. The expense per year is to go up rapidly and there is much less expense for the first few years as the bureaucracies are set up and the interpreting regulations are issued. Obama now says it will cost $900 billion, but this is only to avoid using any number in the trillion range.
  • Obama said 30 million Americans who cannot afford health insurance will have coverage. CBO says only an extra 16 million Americans will have health insurance, since many who now have it will lose it when their companies decide it is cheaper to pay the tax than to insure them with the Obama gold-plated qualifying insurance plans. If the cost per year is as little as $190 billion/year when the program is underway, the cost per additional insured person will be $11,875 per year. That is 2.56 times what my company presently pays for the entire cost of health insurance per employee per year. Some may quibble with my $190 billion per year cost, but given underestimates of program costs in the past for Medicare and Medicaid, this is a very conservative cost estimate.
This is the essence of the ObamaCare plan. I will have more to say about its consequences in the future. It is guaranteed to result in higher health care costs, rationing of health care, a refusal to allow Americans to pay for additional services out-of-pocket, a loss of jobs, unhappy and less professional doctors, more unionization of the health care industry, and even more massive government deficit spending.