Defenders of Infamy

I’m posting this with the caveat that one can always cherry pick sound bytes to make a point. Nevertheless, whatever else may have been said, or by whom, the record shows that Republicans have tried repeatedly to curb Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while Democrats have strenuously resisted tighter regulation (or even oversight) of the two entities at the root of the currrent financial crisis.

I know there were Republicans in the pocket of Fannie and Freddie as well. And, if anybody can provide a counterpoint video that shows Democrats trying to curb their excesses, and Republicans vehemently opposing closer scrutiny, I’ll be happy to post that as well.

We may be focusing too narrowly on the presidential race in this election, when we should be taking a good hard look at Congress.

Hoping isn’t what’s going to bring about the change that we desperately need.


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Social Engineering as Economic Policy

What we are witnessing today is not a failure of the free market. It is the failure of social engineering as economic policy. And it’s a disaster of epic proportions.

Nobody’s disputing that this disaster was precipitated by irresponsible lending practices, or that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were at the root of the whole debacle, though the ramifications have now spread far beyond them. What people are arguing about is the interpretation of the events that led us here, what should have been done differently, and what should be done to contain the fallout now that the pyramid scheme has blown up.

Hard core free market proponents, like me, will say that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a mistake from the beginning. The government should have kept its nose out of the home mortgage industry, and not attempted to manipulate the market to enable people who couldn’t afford houses to buy them. On the other hand, proponents of the “government is good” and “more is better” philosophy will say the problem was that there wasn’t enough government manipulation. (Could there ever be?)

But, curiously, in 2005, when Alan Greenspan told Congress that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “placing the total financial system of the future at a substantial risk,” and the Senate Banking Committee proposed a reform bill requiring tighter regulation of those two entities, the Democrats opposed it, on a strict party line vote, crushing the bill before it got out of committee. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Christopher Dodd all voted against it. (John McCain, incidentally, was one of the co-sponsors of the bill.)

Huh? Democrats voting against more regulation? Republicans voting for it? One would expect Republicans to favor less regulation, as regulation is antithetical to a free market. But, in this case, it already wasn’t a free market. A free market has its own natural checks and balances. Once the government has removed or impaired any of those natural checks and balances, the market loses its equilibrium and bad things can happen. What the Republicans were attempting to accomplish by proposing tighter regulations on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was to artificially restore the natural constraint that had been removed by shifting the risk from the lenders to the taxpayers.

In a free market, the desire for profit is counterbalanced by the aversion to risk. If the risk incurred by an investment or loan outweighs the profit potential, it’s not in the investor’s/lender’s best interest to participate, so the transaction doesn’t occur. However, when the government removes the risk associated with a bad transaction, by assuming the risk itself, then the natural constraint of risk aversion that would apply in a truly free market is eliminated, and investors will take risks that would otherwise be unacceptable. That’s what happened in the case of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The taxpayers assumed the risk, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made unsound investments.

In today’s mortgage industry, mortgages are always packaged up and sold to aggregators, who sell them to bigger aggregators, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the top of the pyramid as the granddaddies of all aggregators. Because Fannie and Freddie had no risk aversion, lenders further down the chain were free to take risks they wouldn’t otherwise take, knowing the aggregators would buy up the high risk (subprime) mortgages anyway. This was intentional.

Affordable housing is a euphemism for making home loans available to people who would not qualify for a loan under a free market system. The reason someone would not qualify for a loan in the free market is because they present too high a risk. In other words, they can’t afford to pay off the loan. Fannie and Freddie represented a wide scale experiment in social engineering. It was an attempt to use federal policy to “level the playing field” so anybody could “afford” to buy a home whether they could actually afford to pay for the home or not.

When the Republicans wanted to tighten the reins on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and preclude them from making excessively risky investments, it would have meant they could no longer fulfill the mission of making homes “affordable” to those who couldn’t afford them. That’s why the Democrats opposed the bill. And that’s why we’re where we are today.

The great experiment in social engineering has now failed. Dramatically. And, because the experiment was backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. taxpayer, it is our money, and our future, that is getting called in as collateral for this grand social experiment.

Anybody who blames this failure on the free market is either dishonest or naive. It was liberal social policy masquerading as economic policy that got us into this mess. If you want to see more of the same in the future, there are plenty of Democrats still in Congress. And there’s one running for president, too.


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Mommeeeee — It’s Not Fair!

“He got more than me. Mommy, make him give me some of his.” Does that sound like childish whining? Whining, certainly. But, as childish as it may sound, it’s the basis of the most devastatingly destructive politico-economic folly of the modern age. When you take that same concept and translate it into adult language, it comes out as the redistribution of wealth. Wars have been fought, hundreds of thousands of people killed, lives destroyed, property confiscated, free speech banned, totalitarian regimes established, all in the noble name of “fairness.”

Some people are born rich; others are born poor. That’s not fair! So let’s even it out. Of course, not everybody who’s rich was born rich. Many people become rich through their own hard work, intelligence, talent, skill, and enterprise. But that’s not fair, either. Intelligence and natural talent are a result of good genes. Hard work and enterprise are a result of good upbringing. That gives people with good genes and a good upbringing an unfair advantage. So the only way to level the playing field is for everybody to contribute according to their abilities, and everybody to receive according to their needs. What could possibly be more fair than that?

And, if those who have more to contribute don’t want to give up what’s theirs, that’s not fair! So the government should step in and take it by force to redistribute among those who just don’t have the talent, skill, or motivation to produce more for themselves. After all, isn’t the role of government to ensure fairness?

But the problem is bigger than any one government can solve. People all over the world are born into vastly different circumstances, with different opportunities. Some people are born in third world countries with corrupt dictatorships and little technological advancement. Other people are born in America, where generations of individual and economic freedom have created a culture where even the poorest of the poor, who live on government subsidies, are rich by the standards of most third world countries. How do we make that fair?

We would have to redistribute the wealth from America, and all the other first world countries, to all the third world countries. If all the wealth in the world were redistributed evenly, we’d all be living at barely above subsistence level, and nobody would be able to afford to invest in (or even to buy) technology, science, or medicine. When the whole word’s standard of living was reduced to the lowest common denominator, and all progress and advancement was beyond everybody’s reach, perhaps it would finally be fair.

However, once that was accomplished, there would still be people with ingenious minds and obsessive-compulsive work ethics, and some who are unfairly gifted with various sorts of talents. Those people would still be inherently driven to produce things that provide unique value to others. And those who value what they produce would inevitably find ways to pay them for it. Then the people with superior minds or talents or skills would start to amass more than others. And that just wouldn’t be fair. So what do you do with the ones who are too intelligent or too talented or too industrious to support the paradigm of universal equality in all things? You would just have to get rid of them (which is exactly what they did in the Russian and Chinese revolutions). The problem is that there will always be more of those people. They will keep cropping up, because life is not fair.

Observing the natural world, is survival of the fittest fair? No! And there’s a reason for that. Nature is intensely competitive. And human nature, being part of nature, follows the laws of nature. That’s why the most successful economies are those based on free enterprise. Because capitalism is based on human nature. The redistribution of wealth is an attempt to ensure the survival of the least fit at the expense of the fittest. It’s a recipe for reverse evolution. It has never succeeded. It will always fail. Because you can’t reverse or repeal a law of nature.

What those who claim to want “fairness” are really seeking is control. They don’t like the seeming randomness of the free market. They’re disturbed by the negative attitudes sometimes expressed in free speech. Freedom, in general, bothers them.

So, it doesn’t really come as a great surprise that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among other prominent Democrats, seems to think fairness requires the redistribution of public opinion. Conservative talk show hosts apparently have more market share on the “public airwaves” than liberal talk show hosts. That’s not fair! Never mind that the reason they have more market share is because that’s what the market wants. That’s what the listeners have chosen to listen to, of their own free will. In the time-honored tradition of the free market, radio stations book the programs the listeners want to hear.

So, if the liberal lawmakers want the public to listen to liberal radio, but the public isn’t interested, what are the liberal lawmakers to do? Make a law, of course! In the interest of “fairness,” they can legislate that any station that airs conservative views must give equal time to liberals. And if the stations’ profits go down because they can’t sell as much advertising on programs nobody wants to hear, then that’s just tough, isn’t it? After all, we have to be “fair,” don’t we?

The liberals who support the “Fairness Doctrine” will be quick to remind you that the airways are, after all, “public.” But what does that actually mean? Perhaps, if the airwaves are public, it isn’t fair for private enterprises to profit from them at all. Does that mean all radio stations ought to be nationalized? How about television? Perhaps all forms of media should be nationalized, — in the interest of fairness, of course.


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When is a Lie Not a Lie?

The left never seems to tire of reminding us that “Bush lied about Iraq having WMDs!” But was it really a lie? If so, how so? It is an established fact that Iraq had developed and used WMDs previously, against its own citizens, though the left seems to have conveniently forgotten this. In his 1998 State of the Union address, President William J. Clinton said:

Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade, and much of his nation’s wealth, not on providing for the Iraqi people, but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and the missiles to deliver them.

The only real question was, did Iraq still have stockpiles of WMDs immediately prior to the beginning of the Iraq war? At the time, every major power in the world believed that it did. Even the U.N. believed it. Yet one never hears anybody saying the U.N. lied, or Tony Blair lied, or Jacques Chirac lied. It’s always Bush, and Bush alone, who “lied.”

Even assuming there were no WMDs, if President Bush, like all the other world leaders at the time, given the best evidence available, believed there were WMDs in Iraq, was it a lie for him to say what he believed? If not, the claim that he lied must be based on an assumption that he didn’t actually believe there were WMDs in Iraq. But why would he not have believed it, considering that everybody else did? It’s generally accepted today that the reason Saddam Hussein didn’t allow the U.N. inspections was because he wanted his neighbors to believe that Iraq still had WMDs. Was there ever any reason to conclude that Bush knew the “truth” when everybody else was taken in by Hussein’s bluff? If not, Bush did not lie. He was, at worst, mistaken.

But it’s always easier to predict the past than the future. As history unfolds, it’s starting to look like, not only did Bush not lie, neither was he mistaken. There is new evidence that Iraq did, in fact, have WMDs, which it was systematically transferring to Syria all the while it was stalling the U.N. inspectors. This new evidence corroborates older evidence that was dismissed by the left at the time as too “convenient.” Yet the evidence continues to grow. What will the left say if confronted with incontrovertible evidence that there actually were WMDs in Iraq? Will they apologize to President Bush for the “lies” they’ve been telling about him for the past five years? Or will they flat out refuse to acknowledge the evidence because it doesn’t support their worldview? (My money is on the latter.)

On April 7, 2008, The Jerusalem Post reported:

An upcoming joint US-Israel report on the September 6 IAF strike on a Syrian facility will claim that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein transferred weapons of mass destruction to the country, Channel 2 stated Monday.

In January of 2006, The New York Sun wrote:

The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein’s air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.

The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, “Saddam’s Secrets,” released this week.

Even prior to that, in the Fall of 2005, The Middle East Quarterly reported:

Several different intelligence sources raised red flags about suspicious truck convoys from Iraq to Syria in the days, weeks, and months prior to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

These concerns first became public when, on December 23, 2002, Ariel Sharon stated on Israeli television, “Chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria.” About three weeks later, Israel’s foreign minister repeated the accusation. The U.S., British, and Australian governments issued similar statements.

Two former United Nations weapon inspectors in Iraq reinforced concerns about illicit transfer of weapon components into Syria in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s fall. Richard Butler viewed overhead imagery and other intelligence suggesting that Iraqis transported some weapons components into Syria. Butler did not think “the Iraqis wanted to give them to Syria, but … just wanted to get them out of the territory, out of the range of our inspections. Syria was prepared to be the custodian of them.” Former Iraq Survey Group head David Kay obtained corroborating information from the interrogation of former Iraqi officials.

The Daily Telegraph reported prior to the 2003 Iraq war that Iraq’s former special security organization and Shawqat arranged for the transfer into Syria of twelve mid-level Iraqi weapons specialists, along with their families and compact disks full of research material on their country’s nuclear initiatives. According to unnamed Western intelligence officials cited in the report, Assad turned around and offered to relocate the scientists to Iran, on the condition that Tehran would share the fruits of their research with Damascus.

So, when is a lie not a lie?

    a) When it’s an honest mistake.
    b) When it’s the truth.

At this point, we don’t know which of the above is the case. But we do know that there is absolutely no evidence that Bush ever actually lied about WMDs in Iraq. So when will the left stop braying that?


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Published in: on April 10, 2008 at 12:07 am  Comments (21)  
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Sometimes Nothing is the Right Thing to Do

I have always been committed to the principle that it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.
John McCain

Despite the fact that Senator McCain has said the economy isn’t his strong point, he has a lot stronger grasp of basic economic principles than anybody else running for president, not to mention a lot of other people in Washington who ought to know better.

In addition to the Bear Stearns bailout, since the beginning of the year, the Fed has loaned over $260 billion to banks that got into financial trouble by making bad mortgage loans. The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 is on the horizon, and there’s another bill lined up behind it to extend an additional $300-400 billion in federally guaranteed (that means guaranteed by you and me) mortgages for people who overextended themselves to buy houses that were well beyond their means.

Senator Obama talks about “folks [being] tricked into purchasing loans they can’t afford.” Both Senators Obama and Clinton think we need to kick in a $30 billion dollar emergency housing fund (at taxpayer expense) to help bail out these poor victims, never mind that they’re victims of their own greed and irresponsibility. Senator Clinton also wants to freeze subprime mortgage rates and impose a 90 day moratorium on foreclosures for the poor dears. And, earlier this week, Senator Clinton suggested that perhaps the government should start buying up foreclosed homes. It’s not enough for the government to be in the healthcare business, now she wants to get it into the real estate business, too. (Is there any business Mrs. Clinton doesn’t think the government should be in?)

While Senators Clinton and Obama are leaping over one another trying to come up with more innovative and expensive ways for the government to manipulate the housing market, Senator McCain is quietly saying it isn’t the role of the government to bail out either the banks or the borrowers. The Democrats scoff. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean sneers that McCain is taking “the same hands-off approach that President Bush used to lead us into this crisis.”

What the Democrats fail to understand is the basic principles of economics. (But what else is new?) It was not a “hands off” policy that got us into this mess, but a “hands on” policy of lowering interest rates and expanding FHA, FNMA, and FHLMC financing to encourage unprecedented (and unwarranted) growth in the housing market. The government got us into this situation by meddling in the free market. It isn’t going to get us out by meddling more. What needs to happen is the market needs to find a balance where the demand meets the supply. The only way for that to happen is to let it occur naturally. Yes, it means housing prices will drop. They’re doing that anyway. Yes, it’s painful. But it has to happen.

Federal policies aimed at making it easier for first time home buyers to buy houses before they could actually afford those houses led to an artificially high demand, which artificially inflated prices. People (and financing companies) started playing fast and loose, speculating that the manic spiral in home prices would continue indefinitely. But it couldn’t. Supply increased to meet demand, interest rates went up, people who overextended themselves couldn’t meet their payments and started defaulting, demand fell off just as supply was peaking, and the market was oversaturated. Now it has to correct.

The laws of economics weren’t made up by economists, any more than the laws of physics were made up by physicists. These “laws” are based on observation and analysis of naturally occurring phenomena. They can’t be changed or wished away. Imbalances do occur but, over time, they correct themselves. The housing market is self-correcting now. It will eventually reach equilibrium. Any measures that attempt to forestall that will only postpone the inevitable. A problem deferred is not a problem solved.

The Democrats insist that the government can’t just stand by and do nothing. Something bad is happening. We must do something! Anything! They have no idea how to solve the problem, because the problem can’t be solved by more government meddling, and government meddling is the only thing they know how to do. But, since they can think of nothing more embarrassing than standing around doing nothing, they’re leaping over each other trying desperately to show us that they will do something. (Not nothing, like Senator McCain.) And what they’ll do is what they always do. When they see a problem, they throw money at it. Your money. My money. Everybody’s money. Unfortunately, that won’t solve the problem. Because, sometimes, nothing is the right thing to do.

The Democratic response, as usual, is like a parent with a spoiled child. They think it’s their job as parent to prevent their child from ever experiencing any pain, so they go to any lengths to shield it from the consequences of its own actions. But a child who never faces consequences never learns. Sometimes pain is necessary, especially when it’s a natural consequence of irrational behavior.


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Economic Histrionics

Yesterday, I saw an article in the newspaper titled Bush Insists US Not in Recession. Why should he need to insist, I wondered. More to the point, why should his simple statement of an easily verifiable fact be characterized as insistence, which carries a connotation of defensiveness and denial?

A recession is defined as a decline in Gross Domestic Product for two or more successive quarters. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, we haven’t had two successive quarters of decline in the GDP since 1991. The last time we had a decline for even one quarter was in 2001. Considering that we haven’t had a single quarter of decline in the GDP for the last six and a half years, it seems rather whimsical of the media to be declaring we’re in a recession, doesn’t it?

Earlier in the week, I read an article titled Survey Shows Economic Depression Likely. The article went on to say an opinion poll revealed that the majority of Americans think we’re headed for a depression. Oh, my. That certainly sounds scary. A depression is even worse than a recession! And, if the majority of Americans think it’s likely, then it must be, right? I mean, the majority of Americans can’t be wrong….

Then again, if you were to ask the majority of Americans what’s the definition of an economic depression, how many of them would know? Is asking a bunch of random people who don’t actually know what a depression means really the best way to determine if one is imminent? The definition of an economic depression is a decline  of over 10% in the GDP. The fact is, over the last four years of Bush’s presidency, we’ve seen an 11.8% increase in the GDP.

What? How can that be? With all this talk of economic disaster, is it possible that we’ve actually had the opposite of an economic depression? Something must be wrong with the data. After all, why would a majority of Americans believe we’re headed for a depression if it has no basis in fact? — Well, perhaps they believe it because that’s what they’ve been told by the media, over and over, for the past year. And now the very fact that they believe it is being sold to them as evidence that it’s true! 

So, how do you know whom to believe, the mainstream media or the data from the Department of Commerce?  Is it conceivable that all this talk of dire economic straits is hyperbole? Well, look around you. How many bread lines have you seen recently? But, if it is just media hype, why would they want us to believe that? In whose interest might it be to stir up fear and uncertainty in the population?  Whatever could be their motivation?

At the risk of sounding cynical, it is an election year. If the majority of Americans believe we’re headed for a depression, or that we’re in the middle of a recession and our president is lying to us about it, they might get pretty upset and worried and feel like we really need a change. (Seems I’ve been hearing that word a lot somewhere lately.) If Americans are living in fear of an imminent economic collapse, they’ll be all the more receptive to claims that it’s those evil capitalists, with their greed, warmongering, and tax breaks for the rich, that have gotten us into this mess. It only makes sense that we need to elect a Democrat to get us out of it.

Not only will the Democrats punish the large corporations for making too much profit, and end the war by heroically turning our backs on the terrorists and scurrying back home, they’ll raise the minimum wage and provide you with free healthcare, free lunches, and free whatever else they can convince you that you need (whether they can deliver it or not). Why would anybody believe that kind of unrealistic rhetoric? Because a lot of people want to believe it, and most people are more than ready to believe what they want to believe. The Democrats know that very well.

But first they have to convince the majority of Americans that times are bad. Times are very bad. — If the aforementioned survey is a reliable indicator, it looks like phase one is succeeding.


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Published in: on February 29, 2008 at 11:58 pm  Comments (6)  
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Is “I Told You So” Worth the Price?

Romney has gracefully bowed out of the race, explaining that he doesn’t want to divide the party any longer and exhorting us all to unite behind McCain. I regret to see him go. Obviously, I would have preferred for him to be the nominee. (Once again, my record is intact. — Every time I settle on one of the remaining candidates, he’s the next one to drop out.) But it was already clear that McCain was going to win the nomination; so I think Romney did what he needed to do, and I think he did it well.

Nevertheless, a number of conservatives are still planning to vote for the Clintons or Obama. They say it’s because they anticipate the worst, and want the Democrats to take the blame. If you’re one of those people, I have to ask, what exactly is it you want them to take the blame for?

  • For raising taxes to redistribute more wealth from those who earn it to those who don’t?

    Great. They’ll get the blame. You’ll get the bill.
    Is it worth it?

  • For bringing the war back home and fighting the terrorists here instead of there?

    Maybe they’ll be blamed. Or maybe they won’t. They already maintain that the reason the terrorists hate us is because the darned Repbublicans insist on supporting our ally, Isreal, instead of letting the Islamic fanatics destroy it. So, when they bring the troops home, and the terrorists follow, they’ll still blame the Republicans. — Becaues it really is America’s fault that those poor misunderstood terrorists hate us, after all…

  • For universal healthcare?

    Some people will blame them, — like those of us who end up footing the bill for other people’s unhealthy habits, and those who will be compelled by law to buy something they don’t think they need. But others will think it’s great, — the ones who end up getting subsidized by the rest of us. (They vote too, you know.)

  • For more problems with illegal aliens?

    Obviously, the voters don’t really care, since all of the candidates left in the race support the same immigration legislation.

  • For packing the Supreme Court with liberal justices?

    Some people will like it; some people won’t.
    But we’ll all have to live with the consequences.
    Are you OK with that?

Even if the Demos do get the blame, the damage will be done and we’ll be paying the price for years, well beyond the next administration. Is it really worth the price? Conservatives sat out the last election, with the same justification, and all it got us was a Democrat-controlled Congress. What good will it do to turn over the Exectutive Branch as well?

Those who are planning to withhold their votes, or vote for a third party candidate, might as well be voting for the Clintons or Obama, because that’s exactly what the Democrats are counting on. The liberals/Democrats will all rally around whichever socialist wins their nomination. The conservatives/Republicans will be so fragmented that we won’t even present a challenge. That’s the real reason the Domocrats favor McCain. It’s not because they actually support him (he’s diametrically opposed to them on taxes and the war), but because he’s so hated by the conservatives that they know, if he wins the nomination, the Demos won’t have any opposition.

I can relate to the frustration of the people who just want to walk away from this election in disgust, and wash their hands of it. It’s hard to muster the will to fight for a candidate you don’t even believe in. But remember all the federal agencies and presidential appointments. It’s not just the president you’re voting for, it’s which party controls the whole executive branch. If you don’t vote for the Republican candidate, you’re playing right into the Demos’ agenda.


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Published in: on February 7, 2008 at 9:42 pm  Comments (6)  
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Redistribution of Health

Why do I keep picking on poor Mrs. Clinton? Hasn’t she suffered enough (after living with Bill all these years)? I pick on her because she’s a serious contender for the office of President of the United States. And, frankly, that makes me very nervous. It has nothing to do with the fact that she’s a woman. It has everything to do with her political agenda.

 Mrs. Clinton’s proposed healthcare plan “requires insurance companies to offer coverage to anyone who applies, and bars insurance companies from charging higher premiums to those with pre-existing conditions.”1

It sounds great, on the surface. But what isn’t stated is that, if insurance companies can’t deny coverage to anybody, even those who make lifestyle choices that put them at greater risk, and they can’t raise rates for those with greater risk factors, the only alternative left to them is to raise the rates for those who are generally healthy to cover the much higher costs of insuring those who are not. Making the healthy pay more for health insurance so those who use it more can pay less brings to mind a new twist on Marx’s old motto: From each according to their health, and to each according to their infirmity. — But she also promises to make health care affordable for everybody. And that’s where the redistribution of health melds into (surprise!) the redistribution of wealth.

Her plan “offers tax credits to limit health care premiums to a certain percentage of a family’s income. Cost estimated at $110 billion annually, to be paid for by eliminating the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000.”1

I keep hearing this and, the way it’s always phrased, it sounds like Bush implemented special tax cuts for those earning over $250,000. Sounds kind of like he’s doing favors for his rich buddies, doesn’t it? And that’s exactly what it’s intended to sound like. But, just to be clear, the tax cuts in question apply to everybody, not just to those making over $250,000. What Mrs. Clinton is proposing is to make those who earn “too much” ineligible for them. (And the other Democrats are proposing the same thing.) That was exactly the reasoning behind the Alternative Minimum Tax when it was first implemented in 1969, and only affected 155 taxpayers. In 2000, one million households were affected by the AMT, and it’s projected to be 30 million by 2010. This year, 20% of all taxpayers will be affected by it, some earning as little as $50,000.2

It’s easy to win votes by saying we’ll just get the wealthy to pay for whatever we want. Since there are a lot more of us than there are of them, the Democrats figure it should be easy to garner support for a plan that sounds like soaking the rich to benefit the rest of us. But just remember, there are a lot of other tax cuts they want to eliminate too, and, chances are, some of them will affect you.

1 CNN Election Center
2 Washingon Post


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Published in: on January 23, 2008 at 10:56 pm  Comments (11)  
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Mrs. Clinton Lets it All Hang Out

Franky, I’m not crazy about any of the candidates, but I guess I could settle for any of the remaining Republicans — except Huckabee. I just don’t get what the Huckabites see in him.

If Iowa were representative of the rest of the country, and the race came down to Huckleberry vs. Obama, I think I’d have to abstain. Obama’s got the cute factor going for him, with his unpretentious boyish charisma. But, as far as issues go, he ranks even lower than Mrs. Clinton and Fluffy on my scorecard. If this were a personality contest, he’d have it all sewed up. And that’s a problem. Because, for a lot of people, it is a personality contest. Obama may just carry the Democratic party because he really is a likeable guy, while Mrs. Clinton is an excruciating itch (and you can spell that with either a w or a b, depending on your PCQ*).

I thought it was very enlightening to watch Mrs. Clinton in this debate.


She comes across as, not only imperious and belligerant, but bitterly incredulous that the other candidates are too benighted to recognize her manifest right to be the next president of the United States. How dare those pipsqueaks have the unmitigated gall to run against her?!

Did anybody else notice she used the word “I” 13 times in a one minute, six second clip? How megalomaniacal does one have to be to refer to themselves every five seconds? — Yes, Mrs. Clinton, it really is all about you, isn’t it? After all, you had to put up with all those years of playing first lady to one of the world’s most pre-eminent playboys, when you knew you could do a better job if only you could get out from under his shadow. Who knows, maybe you were even the one making policy all those years while he was otherwise occupied with his [ahem] “hobby.” After all the humiliations you suffered, it just wouldn’t be fair if you didn’t get your just desserts, would it? So America owes you the presidency! I understand, Mrs. Clinton. Really, I do. (But I’d rather I didn’t, thank you…)

* Policital Correctness Quotient


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Published in: on January 6, 2008 at 9:57 pm  Comments (1)  
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Could HillaryCare Lead to Lifestyle Legislation?

Mrs. Clinton’s universal healthcare plan would require every citizen to have health insurance. Those with lower incomes (how low?) would get taxpayer-funded subsidies, but most people would still have to pay for it. How will those who choose not to purchase health insurance today feel about the government dictating how they should spend their paychecks? In a free society, shouldn’t that be left to their own discretion? And what will the penalty be for those who don’t comply, and choose to remain uninsured?

Mrs. Clinton would have us believe that her  healthcare plan will reduce overall health care costs because more people will be able to get preventive care, which will reduce the occurence of critical conditions that require expensive treatment. However, there’s a fundamental flaw in this premise. The single most effective means of preventive health care is getting annual check-ups, because they disclose serious underlying conditions. But, among people who already have health insurance coverage, the majority don’t bother with annual check-ups. To ensure the cost-effectiveness of her universal healthcare, would everybody be required to get an annual check-up?

Many of the most expensive preventable medical conditions are related to unhealthy lifestyles (drug/alcohol/tobacco abuse, obesity, laziness, an affinity for high cholesterol foods). Many people who have unhealthy lifestyles avoid going to doctors because they don’t want to be told they need to change their lifestyle. Once the government is in the health care business, will they require people to take their doctor’s advice because, if they don’t, they’ll end up incurring unnecessary health care costs?

Suppose, at your required annual checkup, the doctor discovers you have high cholesterol and you’re overweight. Could you be legally required to adjust your diet and/or take cholesterol medication? What if you refused? Under Mrs. Clinton’s plan, you couldn’t be denied coverage, nor could your rates be raised to compensate for the higher risks you incur. Could you be fined or imprisoned? That just seems like too much government intrusion into one’s private life. But, if the government doesn’t enforce preventive health care, we won’t reap the cost benefits promised by the universal healthcare system, and it will end up costing the taxpayers even more to subsidize those who choose unhealthy lifestyles.

I predict that a great many people will not be willing to change their lifestyles to save the taxpayers money. Many aren’t willing to do so to save their own lives. And, until and unless we have universal healthcare, subsidized by taxpayers, that’s nobody’s business but their own.


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Published in: on December 30, 2007 at 5:20 pm  Comments (7)  
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