It's the story of a black man and a white man trying to meet in the middle, learn each other's cultures, and put the past behind them. If anyone appreciates what they're trying to do, it's me. Unfortunately for them, and only them, this is the funniest thing I've ever heard in a long time. And it gets better.
- Grantland, April 8, 2013
From Mother Jones Magazine,
quoting a conversation in Senator Mitchell McConnell's office about potential political opponent Ashley Judd:
She's clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it's been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she's suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the '90s.
I remember clearly my reaction to stories emanating from Republican headquarters in 1988. Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis was emotionally unbalanced. During one episode of anguished depression, he had actually seen a psychiatrist.
When reporters demanded to know the basis of such charges, the campaign of George H. W. Bush put forth a Rube Goldberg construct. An uncle had died, and Michael Dukakis attended the funeral.
So he had to have been depressed, right?
Everyone get the depression part?
Another relative attended who happened to be a psychiatrist.
Everyone get the psychiatrist part?
And it would have been impossible for Dukakis not to have at least noticed the psychiatrist at the funeral.
Everyone get the "seen" part?
Put the contraption together:
During an episode of 1) anguished depression, Michael Dukakis had 2) seen a 3) psychiatrist.
Samuel Goldwyn once remarked about the career killer any sort of treatment for depression could become. "Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined." The stigma that attaches to emotional counseling has lessened, but it is still substantial.
So when Ashley Judd revealed in her biography that she had sought and gotten treatment for depression, it was bravery in action. Her childhood had been difficult. Divorce and constant relocation were her companions. Her mother, Naomi Judd, eventually became a famous country music phenomenon, but that came later. Financial hardship formed a lot of Ashley's environment.
Resolving childhood issues as an adult can be hard. Violating one's own privacy in an effort to make the healing process less traumatic for others takes some nerve.
Not everyone can do it. In 1972, George McGovern ended up swapping Vice Presidential candidates. Tom Eagleton was out, Sargent Shriver was in. Eagleton was widely blamed for contributing to the depth of McGovern's amazing loss. Bill Cosby later defended Eagleton. What was he supposed to have done? Cosby imagined out loud the questioning of Eagleton. Was there anything in his background that the McGovern campaign ought to know ahead of time? "Well, I am a little crazy."
The bravery in the revelation of Ashley Judd was the subject of a brief part of the McConnell planning session. The "emotionally unbalanced" and "mental breakdown" parts referred to inner conflicts dating back to the sixth grade.
Her privacy had been sacrificed in her effort to encourage others to seek similar healing. The McConnell session was partly devoted to a discussion of how to use that sacrifice of privacy as a political weapon.
Just how the tape of the McConnell planning session, the conversation of the best way to use Judd's sacrifice of privacy against her, came to be made is unclear. Mitch McConnell and his staff insist it was a Watergate style bugging of his office. In the explanation of the magazine, it appears it was more likely a tape made by a participant of the planning meeting.
Mitch McConnell has demanded an FBI investigation. He objects to the violation of his privacy. He further objects to the use of that violation of his privacy for political purposes.
There is no apparent sense of irony.
The story may be one of those too good to be true. True or not, it is a tribute to the value of listening.
A business executive at a company, let's call it New Electronics Exchange, wanted in on the new technology called "the internet." A prototype was set up. It functioned well. The executive insisted it be put on line right away.
A visiting consultant began to suggest a name change to the website, but he was cut off by the decision maker, whose impatience was beginning to approach anger. The consultant was quickly escorted out of the office and the website was put on line.
Within days, as primitive search engines spread the news, messages began to flood into the business for more information about the NewElectronicsExchange. A majority of the requests were of an unexpected nature. People who had been leading lives of hidden, shamed, desperation were surprised to see the new technology openly appeal to them. They wanted to know more about this new electronic sex change.
It was Margaret Thatcher who prompted me to think about that old tale. I heard on the car radio an interview with some former Thatcher associate who recounted fond tales about the influential Prime Minister. But I was distracted as he interspersed his memories with repeated remarks about those around the world who, at that very moment, were celebrating her death.
Were people celebrating about death?
I was tempted to write it off as the usual projection by one of those ideologues so obsessed with endless political battle that he could not imagine any on the other side not as enmeshed as himself. We get that from time to time. It's not always about the death of a political notable. A few months ago, a friend wrote about liberal ideology in theological terms. "I have met many a liberal who's god was the state." He was describing a breed of liberal I have yet to meet in any awareness of what sort of rare individual I was meeting. My friend was engaged in a little projection, as we armchair shrinks put it.
I was prepared to find that most of this supposed celebration about the death of Prime Minister Thatcher was the same sort of presumed symmetry.
Later, I looked for examples of this celebration. A few were obvious.
There were some street demonstrations in Britain and in those lands still under British dominion. There were accounts of abusive emails onto websites devoted to various memorials. You'll find that some percentage of any population are composed of those whose lack of grace approach loutishness. A very small percentage of a population of millions will produce a large raw number.
There were one or two public figures. British MP George Galloway tweeted a takeoff on an Elvis Costello verse: "Tramp the dirt down." Tina Bourne, an opposition politician, posted a note declining to post notes until the adulation was over. Then she posted a note apologizing for her own insensitivity in the previous note.
But most messages, those by public figures, were respectful. Those who were critical directed their pronouncements at specific policies. She had cause a lot of pain to ordinary people. My cursory search did not reveal much celebration on the part of those holding positions of prominence, in Britain or anywhere else.
While driving, I went from station to station. I heard a series of scattered stories about grit, determination and so on. One anecdote had her, as Prime Minister, hosting a dinner for her cabinet. A waiter asked her what she would like to order. "Steak," she said. The waiter politely pressed for more detail. "What about the vegetables?" he prompted, helpfully. She looked around at her all male conservative cabinet. "They'll have steak, too."
It doesn't take much to start a brief website. A little group in Great Britain had, for a while anticipated the passing of Margaret Thatcher at isthatcherdeadyet.co.uk
At the news they began a series of tweets under the hashtag of "Now Thatcher's dead" - #nowthatchersdead
That's what brought to mind the new electronic sexchange of years back. A host of panicked music fans were alarmed at the news: NowThatChersDead. We have it on good authority that, while the world has lost Margaret Thatcher, dead at 87, Cher lives on at age ... #foreveryoung.
It was 1968. Martin Luther King had been killed three months before. Then Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated. Vietnam had started as a bulwark against Sino-Soviet communist expansionism. For many, it still was. But America had largely turned against the war. Staying in was a political loser. Leaving was, as well.
Nixon was campaigning on the need for something short of victory, something more than loss. We would leave with honor. Rival Nelson Rockefeller suggested that, for the sake of the country, Nixon should share his secret plan with President Johnson. Nixon never claimed to have a plan, secret or otherwise, but he issued only perfunctory denials. He didn't seem to mind that voters had the impression that he knew what to do.
As is sometimes the case, what was actually happening in secret didn't quite fit what the public was shown. President Johnson thought he had a path to ending the war. It necessitated agreement from South Vietnam, as well as the communist North. Candidate Nixon was in illegal contact with South Vietnam, assuring that besieged government they would get a better deal later if they refused peace now. The public perception was that North Vietnam was blocking all progress.
Nixon was close to locking up the Republican Presidential nomination. Nelson Rockefeller, with a liberal reputation and a conservative outlook, had seemed sincere in his devout backing of the war. But on July 13, he threw a political Hail Mary for peace. He had a plan, and he was making it public.
Since North Vietnam wouldn't negotiate in good faith, a future President Rockefeller would negotiate for them. Rockefeller proposed a four stage plan for self-negotiated peace. It would begin with an American withdrawal of 70,000 troops. If North Vietnam responded with a next step, outlined by Rockefeller, America would go to a next stage. And so it would go, until all US troops were gone.
North Vietnam would also withdraw its troops in stages, a neutral peacekeeping force would be put in place and free elections would be held.
If North Vietnam did not respond to any of those American actions for peace, the US would escalate again. But if North Vietnam went along, even informally with no public acknowledgement, the US would be out of Vietnam in six months.
I remembered that political desperation move as I thought about President Obama's preemptory offers of peace with Republicans. He has suggested modest cuts to programs for Social Security retirees. Those cuts will be conditioned on some concessions by Republicans. There must be some increase in the tax burden carried by billionaires.
Republican Leader John Boehner reflected the prevailing position of Republican members of Congress:
If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there's no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes.
That's what got me thinking of the Rockefeller plan. In some ways, it's just like the latest in the seemingly endless series of Obama offers. For one thing:
It will never be accepted by an opponent, completely loyal to an extreme ideology.
Listen As You Go -
New Reaction to Slavery and Racial Immigration Laws - Click for Podcast
Introduction, Traditional Service,
9:00 AM, April 7, 2013
St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Florissant, MO
We are told there is a circle of righteousness.
We are told to despise those outside that circle.
And yet we embrace them.
We are told to reject those who are different.
And yet we invite them.
The one who came back for us has taught us
about God's love, about human worth.
We learn to love God, to love every child of God.
More than we fear man,
more than we fear death,
we follow that commandment of love.
We break bread together
in communion with each other.
We kneel in worship to a common God,
in faith with a common vision of active love.
Found on line:
Let Us Break Bread Together
with pianist John Ferguson
Our favorite conservative, T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, resurrects two failed reasons for his opposition to gay marriage. it's bad for kids and God hates it. A considerable body of evidence refutes the first argument. A decent respect for the freedom of others to choose their own religion answers the other. Nobody is asking T. Paine to marry a man if his religion forbids it. My views in slightly greater detail are here.
James Wigderson believes Republicans have a case to make on education reform. He despairs as they blow it on a local candidate who veers from conservative nutrition to a diet of crazed fruitcake.
News Corpse notes with interest as Breitbart.com goes briefly rational, debunking a series of know-nothing theories without disclosing their own embrace of those theories. Hey, you can't read everything.
RANDOM THOUGHTS is upset at an amendment pushed by the Monsanto corporation to allow Monsanto to ignore court rulings and regulations if their genetic development of seeds are determined to be harmful to humans.
In Response to T. Paine's
Adam Smith and the Coming Collapse of Obamacare
Mr. Deming, my friend, I think that President Obama should replace that foolish and dissembling Jay Carney and appoint you as his White(wash) House Press Secretary...
...As I have LONG pointed out and repeated ad nauseum, Adam Smith’s articulated principles on supply and demand are the exact reason why Obamacare will eventually destroy our health care system in the not-too-distant future. The government cannot provide numerous disincentives to doctors, nurses, hospitals, drug manufacturers etc. and not expect the supply of such to decrease.
- T Paine, April 2, 2013
Hey T. Paine,
Thank you for expanding a little more on your thoughts.
To be fair; I think your statement about Mr. Carney can be attributed to his job title, not just to him personally. It's really the Press Secretary's job to do what Mr. Carney is doing. What Jay says in deflection and misdirection is no different than what any of the other 28 Press Secretaries before him haven't done.
I saw that you were trying to be contrary to the point Burr was trying to make. I think my issue is that I don't understand your rationale. I don't understand what it is about the Affordable Care Act that you are asserting will decrease the "supply" of Medical Personnel.
I often hear 'government red tape and bureaucracy' cited as a hindrance in our healthcare system but I still fail to hear how government red tape is at all different or worse than the insurance company's red tape. Furthermore, I don't believe the Affordable Care Act tells Doctors or medical professionals what tests to take.
How would that even work? You're sitting in the Doctors office and they quickly run out to grab the government red phone that has a direct line to Health and Human Services in order to ascertain whether they can hit me in the knee with a little rubber mallet?
Regardless of how you imagine that would work, how would it be at all different than how our insurance companies presently deny funding or coverage of procedures now? Ever need to get 'Prior Authorization' before surgery?
Tort reform would be great! I'm tired of seeing those medical malpractice lawyer commercials too. However, that would probably, eventually, result in lower premiums for the insurance Doctors have out to cover their medical liability, I fail to see how it would help in lowering costs for you and me (I know I'm not a Doctor, I'm also assuming you aren't).
How does lowering my Doctor's premium on his liability insurance decrease the amount I have to pay when I get a CT Scan? Blood-work? MRI? Prescription drug? Wheelchair? Home Hospital bed? As for competing over state lines? You really don't mind the Federal Government taking away the regulation of health insurance from the States? Right now The Affordable Care Act doesn't mandate that. I wouldn't mind that debate, how long's it been since we've debated the Commerce Clause?
The Government telling doctors what to prescribe and what to charge: The Government isn't doing that. The Government (Through Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, etc) as well as Insurance Companies (Blue Cross, Blue Shield, United Healthcare, Cigna, etc) tell you what they will PAY for said services. If Medicare/Blue Cross/Cigna/Whatever says they will pay a Maximum amount for a certain procedure, that is NOT the same as dictating to a Doctor what to charge.
If your Doctor doesn't like the payment schedule Medicare has determined as fair compensation and your Doctor decides to no longer accept Medicare, that is definitely your Doctor's prerogative. I would urge your Doctor to reconsider that decision, however. Since we keep using personal anecdotes, here's another from me: The Medical industry's kind of where I ended up in the professional world. Medicare and Tricare are some of the most prompt and reliable payment sources, in my experience.
If your Doctor wants to give up a reliable payment source because they're going to pay him/her less for a service, I'm glad he/she feels they are in pool of clientele that would make that decision favorable to him/her.
I am hopeful that your Doctor is in the minority, and that the rest put helping and healing over monetary profit.
Trey is a frequent valued combatant in comment discussions, and an occasional, always appreciated, contributor.
Immigration is one of those mixed motivation issues. A lot of issues fit the mold.
Motivations are often elusive. Even when they are obvious there is, at least for protagonists in their own minds, plausible deniability. It's the some-of-my-best-friends syndrome.
Voter suppression is like that. Lip service is paid to non-existent voter fraud. Fear and suspicion of "those people", particularly if they are likely to support a candidate Republicans don't like, is a driving force. For some the motivation may be racial. More transparently, it is political. Fairness and democratic idealism become secondary to winning.
Motivation in restrictive immigration laws has always wavered between economic self-interest and racial or ethnic bigotry. In 1875, when the first restrictive laws were passed, the reasons were openly racial. Keeping Chinese immigrants out was the primary objective.
Later the bias extended to bar all Asians, then Eastern Europeans, and always, always, Africans and those of African descent. Interspersed was economic fear. They were coming to take our jobs. I remember some of the organized opposition as far back as my long ago youth. Economic fear can be a powerful force.
The most organized formula for immigration came in 1924, when Congress passed the Quota Act. The stated purpose was to preserve the ethnic character of the country. Certain steps were taken to increase the tilt toward white people, especially Western Europeans.
The quota was based on the census.
Not the 1920 census.
Not even the 1910 census.
There had been too much immigration from less desirable places of origin. The quotas were set to restore the ethnicity of the country more than a generation before, in 1890.
The formal purpose of immigration quotas to keep the ethnic character of the American population lasted until 1964. Then it became an unspoken, for the most part, understanding.
The latest targets have been Spanish speaking immigrants from Mexico and points south.
The stated arguments are usually economic. They are taking American jobs, something most studies say is not really true. They are stressing the public safety net, going on welfare, taking benefits at the expense of taxpayers, which is provably false.
Every once in a while, racial or ethnic justifications come through. At the heart of insistence of "securing our borders" is a cultural fear. Occasionally, we hear of restaurants instituting "English Only" rules. Barroom bigotry sometimes finds an echo in the halls of Congress.
The motivation of immigrants is pretty much the same as always. Some come to flee political persecution. A few to escape some personal violation of rights. My own grandmother came from the Ukraine to avoid a forced marriage.
Most come for economic reasons, to get away from grinding poverty. Opponents who thunder righteously about waiting in line, following the rules, remind me of stories from the sinking of the Titanic. Those on the upper decks, the wealthy elites, were later critical at the hordes below who would not patiently wait their way-back turn as the ship sank.
I have some empathy for those on the large ship America who erroneously believe the country is dangerously overcrowded. Some really do think we face the heart wrenching decision of pulling up the ladders lest those struggling in the water climb in and capsize the ship.
I have no empathy at all for folks on the ship who openly despise those still in the water. Their sneers say more about themselves.
How we behave toward other human beings will have more to say about our character as a nation, as a people, than all the whites-only quotas history's nativists could ever imagine.
Well, we're at it again. Conservatives are explaining to us that official reports and statements show Obamacare is costing an ever-increasing amount. They cite the CBO and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.
The next time our rightward friends put forward that claim, you can explain to them that they are somewhat mistaken or, depending on your vocabulary and the bonds of friendship, that they are full of what Joe Biden calls malarkey. What us less gentle souls might refer to as what has never been chicken salad.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has indeed issued another report that it is required by law to issue. It is consistent with other reports on Obamacare. The new law will tend to reduce the deficit because it is reducing projected costs of Medicaid and other medical coverage from what they would have been. Those costs are still going up, but at a much lower rate than they otherwise would. In fact, those estimates keep going down, as, unexpectedly, care givers adopt some of the elimination of waste ahead of time.
A single MRI scan, for example, can be looked at by lots of medical people. You don't have to have a new one for each doctor. A scan doesn't get used up as more experts look at it. More eyes don't make the picture fade.
In fact, every time Republicans put forward a proposal to end Obamacare, and the Congressional Budget Office dutifully issues a cost estimate, that estimate shows each Republican proposal increasing the deficit.
What conservatives point to is the CBO ten-year projection for Obamacare. Each year, that ten-year projection is higher. And that means Obamacare is going up, right? Just like conservatives claim? Well, just hold on to your ears, buster.
As full implementation of Obamacare gets closer, each ten-year projection includes more years. So-o-o-o, more implementation costs are included. If I do a ten year projection now on my payments for a house I plan to buy in five years, my estimate will only include five years of payments. Ten minus the five years I'm not yet paying anything. That's especially true if I don't include the rent I'm paying now but won't pay after I buy the house. When I do another ten-year projection a couple years later, it will include 7 years of payments. That's two more years counted in.
Does that mean my costs will go up? Well, only in the upside down bizarro world of contemporary conservative thought. This is not exactly comparing apples and oranges. As a friend of mine suggested, paraphrasing Ezra Klein, it's more like comparing apples and taking your family out to dinner.
Now does that mean conservatives are dishonest? Not necessarily. Sometimes these reports tend to be a little complicated. And, let's face it, deep analysis is sometimes not a conservative strong point.
The Sebelius quote is something else. It's hard to see how conservative reporting isn't a bit too cute for mere conservative misinterpretation.
Last week, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explained that when you prohibit discrimination by insurance companies against those with illnesses, or against those who are older, or against women, companies will compensate by increasing premiums on men, and younger people, and healthier people. Nothing new there. Costs on those with pre-existing conditions go down. Costs on women go down. Costs on older folks go down. Insurance companies will raise other costs when they can get away with it.
She pointed to some subsidies the government will provide to those with lower incomes as they get health coverage for the first time. This will reduce costs on the rest of us as use of the Emergency Room as a first resort is reduced.
People who would have died early without health care will also live longer, which does not appear on balance sheets, but I thought I'd just thrown that into the debate.
She also said that the more honest reporting requirements will mean that more hidden costs will now be public. This will increase reported cost, but not real costs. She suggested that free and honest competition will have a greater effect than some of the claims by reports issued by lobbyists. The Wall Street Journal reports:
"As a former insurance commissioner I have watched what transparency does to a market," Ms. Sebelius said. "This is the first time ever in the history of the United States that insurance companies have to file their rates, it has to be very transparent, they have to offer the same kind of coverage without 5,000 tiny little lines and internal caps, and they have to compete for customers. And I am a believer in the market strategies that in and of itself will minimize the rate impact."
Conservative faith in free competition is limited when it comes to proposals they don't like.
She talked about eliminating the incentives for waste as opposed to providing actual health care. Costs overall will go down from where they would have been.
So how have conservatives greeted this sort of straightforward statement?
How about this from Human Events?
Don’t worry, folks, ObamaCare is blowing premiums through the roof, but there will be subsidies available for lower-income Americans! That means the rest of us will get screwed twice - once when we pay our higher insurance premiums, then again when we pay for all those lovely subsidies.
Or this from hotair?
The unexpected news is that HHS Secretary Sebelius admitted that these individual-insurance premiums are going to be going up, directly because of ObamaCare.
Or from countless conservative blogs? This is one:
So she finally admitted the truth. ObamaCARE has caused insurance premiums to go up (despite Americans being told that the exact opposite would happen.)
Even our own T. Paine was taken in by the false reports:
We are already seeing the bitter fruits from that tree. Our conscience-clause-denying and nominally Catholic Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius now even admits that the government takeover of health care will necessarily raise costs for everyone.
Moral relativism in this case means false witness in service to ideology.
Makes you want to weep for their souls.
The sensational news from CPAC, the annual conclave of conservative activists, was the new interest in whether slaves should have been grateful for their free food and shelter. It was surprising to those of us who thought that question was closed and locked tight with Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.
In fairness, one discussion participant does not a conservative movement make. It is true that the audience was more sympathetic to the slavery advocate than to the lone black woman who reacted to the pro-slavery talk with shock and dismay. But you have to expect a degree of selectivity in that kind of discussion. After all, what sort of person wants to be included in a dialogue that is entitled "Trump the Race Card: Are You Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist and You Know You're Not One?" This was an audience that sided with someone who said slaves ought to have felt grateful. It seems obvious that members of that pro-slavery audience ought to get used to being called racists.
Conservatives could rightly point out that this room of self-selected people would not at all represent conservatism. So where are those voices declaring just that?
Well, we did hear a little about Donald Trump.
News is man-bites-dog, not the other way around. If it bleeds, it leads. The pro-slavery audience getting tough with a lone dissenter was the sort of thing that attracts viewers and readers. So the Donald Trump presentation at the same conference was reported in comparatively subdued tones.
Donald Trump was presenting the case that immigration policy should be changed so that more Europeans could be let in, with fewer from other continents.
Actually, US immigration law was originally designed with folks like Donald Trump in mind. At first it was reactive. In 1875, the public pushed Congress into passing a law to keep undesirables out. Lots of immigrants would still be welcomed, but there were some who would not mix well in polite company. So Congress directed immigration authorities to keep out those nobody wanted around, like prostitutes and convicted criminals and Chinese.
Chinese? Yeah Chinese.
A few years later, Congress got a little more direct. They passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. Chinese were to be turned away completely for ten years. Those who were already here could not become US citizens. A few decades later, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917. It extended the ban to other Asians.
After World War I, Congress got more scientific about it. The Quota Act was passed in 1924. Immigrants could only be admitted on a quota system, in exact proportion to the ethnicity, national origin, and race of those already here. The idea was to preserve the racial character of the nation. A couple of court cases made it to the Supreme Court. The court said that one immigrant from India and another from Japan could be prevented from becoming citizens because they were not white people.
A Congressional report delineated the purpose of the system. It was "used in an effort to preserve, as nearly as possible, the racial status quo in the United States. It is hoped to guarantee, as best we can at this late date, racial homogeneity."
It was a Donald Trump sort of system.
The quota system was finally scrapped in 1965 with the Immigration and Nationality Act. American nativists protested.
There is more than a tinge of racism and ethnic hatred in much of the debate about immigration. But most of us never expected a new debate over whether we should take legal steps to make sure immigrants came from white countries. We actually thought those days were gone forever.
Donald Trump does not define contemporary American conservatism. He is one individual, and a strange individual at that. His lecture at CPAC was sparsely attended. So it is easy to argue that conservatism has moved way beyond it's racially oriented roots.
Except no-one seems to be raising that argument.
It's hard to imagine that just over a decade ago, a Republican leader in the US Senate lost his job as enraged conservatives pushed him out. Trent Lott had congratulated Strom Thurmond a little too effusively on his 100th birthday, saying it was too bad the old racist had never become President.
Today, the preeminent national conservative organization invites speakers and panelists to discuss restrictive immigration and the evils of being known as racist. Endorsements of slavery and proposals to turn back the clock to racially oriented immigration quotas are greeted with a new conservative response:
"And your problem is?"
From Public Policy Polling:
On our national poll this week we took the opportunity to poll 20 widespread and/or infamous conspiracy theories. Many of these theories are well known to the public, others perhaps to just the darker corners of the internet. Here’s what we found:
- 37% of voters believe global warming is a hoax, 51% do not. Republicans say global warming is a hoax by a 58-25 margin, Democrats disagree 11-77, and Independents are more split at 41-51. 61% of Romney voters believe global warming is a hoax
- 6% of voters believe Osama bin Laden is still alive
- 21% of voters say a UFO crashed in Roswell, NM in 1947 and the US government covered it up. More Romney voters (27%) than Obama voters (16%) believe in a UFO coverup...
- More -
In response to Burr Deming's
Health Care Cost and the Adam Smith Tanning Pit
Conservatives deride liberal efforts to contain costs as a sort of King Canute strategy. A king ordering back the tide doesn't accomplish much...
There is a growing body of evidence that it is already working, more effectively and faster than anyone expected.
- Burr Deming, April 1, 2013
Mr. Deming, my friend, I think that President Obama should replace that foolish and dissembling Jay Carney and appoint you as his White(wash) House Press Secretary. You have the benefit of not only being a true believer, but you are absolutely sincere and convincing in your argument; At least to those who share your ideology or do not know any better. (…and I mean that in regards to your being convincing. I honestly would not impugn your sincerity, sir.)
As I have LONG pointed out and repeated ad nauseum, Adam Smith’s articulated principles on supply and demand are the exact reason why Obamacare will eventually destroy our health care system in the not-too-distant future. The government cannot provide numerous disincentives to doctors, nurses, hospitals, drug manufacturers etc. and not expect the supply of such to decrease. When we add 30 million more people to the healthcare roles and then discourage current and future doctors from practicing, well… what did you say happens when supply goes down and demand goes up?
We are already seeing the bitter fruits from that tree. Our conscience-clause-denying and nominally Catholic Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius now even admits that the government takeover of health care will necessarily raise costs for everyone. She underestimates though, in my opinion. Apparently she doesn't see those "subsidies" as costs to us, only as “rich benefits” to the formerly uninsured. Regulation is affecting every facet of the economy and raising costs even more. Insurance costs are soaring, and the big kick in hasn't even started yet. California increase 60%. Washington 51.9%. The young and low information voters who supported Obama will really be hurt badly too. As for my own anecdotal evidence, my health care premiums have doubled since 2008 while the level of care provided by those costs has been significantly cut. See here.
Yep, moving forward with the juggernaut of Obamacare while maintaining the status quo of not fixing Medicare and Medicaid is definitely the way to go here. As I have said before, somehow my being able to point out and say “I told you so” regarding the coming disastrous repercussions of these asinine policies is going to be a very small consolation to me.
This is particularly so because Jay Carney will attempt to clumsily spin that abject failure as to being the fault of Republicans, capitalism, and the greedy rich. And in true fashion the low information voters and leftist ideologues will all nod their heads collectively in agreement.
T. Paine, a frequent dissenting contributor, also writes for his own conservative site, where any clumsy spinning is adeptly unspun, and low information voters become high information participants in democracy.
Please visit Saving Common Sense.
It is such a simple concept, it's hard to see why so many don't grasp it after a few minutes of ... well ... study is optional. More like an open-book test where the book isn't needed. Casual contemplation is the only requirement.
Supply and demand curves are a chart form of common sense. Adam Smith put the x and y of it all into verbal form in the 1700s.
Demand goes up, prices go up.
Demand goes down, prices go down.
Supply goes up, prices go down.
Supply goes down, prices go up.
See how easy that first step can be?
Put it into chart form, and you can get a head start on old, absent minded Adam Smith. Well, also you get a head start because Adam Smith has been dead about two and a quarter centuries now, so he's sort of slowed down.
As supply goes down, and prices go up, cost tends to drive demand down. I like butterscotch pudding. I'm a diabetic so make that sugar-free, please. If butterscotch trees (Save it. I already know) experience an attack of butterscotch beetles (I know, that too) and butterscotch goes to a hundred dollars a cup, I won't like it that much. Chocolate will look a whole lot more attractive. My demand for butterscotch will go down, and the price for butterscotch will go down a little as well. Not all the way, because ... you know ... the Beatles.
And that's how a free market puts a lid on prices.
Health care costs have been the hidden oil spill pushing into the economy. It elevates the cost of things having little to do with health. Like 32 ounce soda drinks in New York City. Health care costs go up and employer provided insurance goes up as well. Which means that pretty much everything that is produced by and for humans goes up. And you end up paying a lot more to see the Mayor's blood pressure rise.
That tendency to increase the cost of all things under the sun is countered by the fact that other costs are going down. A recovering economy will do that. A co-worker who once befriended me described the good old days. You could buy an entire dinner for a dime. Only problem was, nobody had a dime. The accumulated weight of lots of unemployed bridge repair workers pretty much pushes everything down.
But the health costs are real. In times when they don't raise prices on everything, they have other effects, like producing higher unemployment. Higher health rates are also the huge factor in deficits.
Those insurance costs have been murder.
Conservatives point to health care as a prime example of how government produces the problems it is trying to solve. Medicare and Medicaid insulate demand from the marketplace. So prices flow uphill regardless of increased supply because there is no end of demand. Everyone wants more, and everyone wants the best, as long as everyone else pays for it.
So conservatives will solve the problem with a sort of universal cure. Apply some free market and call me in the morning. The free market can be used for lots of things. It's kind of like duct tape. If it can work with my butterscotch pudding, why not apply it to health costs?
Most conservatives, at least those who hold office and like their jobs, recognize that a large factor in Medicare and Medicaid policy is a prevailing public sentiment that it would be immoral to let large numbers of American citizens die without care. So conservatives seek to introduce some part of free market pressure. This is what is behind skin-in-the-game strategy.
The unpopular part of conservative free market theory is that it puts the burden of cost cutting on individual people. The popular part is that something has to be done.
Liberals want to control health care costs through a strategy that promotes health outcomes (people living in health) as opposed to the number of costly repetitive diagnostic procedures performed.
Conservatives deride liberal efforts to contain costs as a sort of King Canute strategy. A king ordering back the tide doesn't accomplish much.
Here is the problem with that reasoning. The last time a skin-in-the-game plan was used was before Medicare and Medicaid were introduced. And, yes, people were dying for lack of health care. And the King Canute strategy? There is a growing body of evidence that it is already working, more effectively and faster than anyone expected.
Fiscal policy expert Jared Bernstein has looked closely at chapter 5 of the recent report of the National Council of Economic Advisers. There are two recent periods during which health care increases fell pretty close to the growth of GDP.
One was a brief period in the 1990s during which insurance providers went from fee-for-service to HMO structures. That was a one time shot, and growth flew right back up after that.
The other is ... well ... now. The recession doesn't explain it. Comparing costs to GDP already takes the recession into account. It does look like reforms in health care structures is working. Score one to fighting back the tide. Hooray for the early stages of Obamacare.
The problem with a short, easy to understand, duct tape, universal conservative cure for everything is that it can become impervious to mere evidence. It is at that point of certainty that it becomes less an economic model than a theology.
Expecting demand-resistance to rising prices is reasonable for butterscotch. The reality is that health care is not butterscotch on a supermarket shelf. It is a rope thrown to a drowning swimmer. Expecting people flailing in deep water to shop for better, less expensive, rope turns out not to be a realistic policy.
Adam Smith, the father of modern free market theory, the father of lines that cross on charts, was extraordinarily absent minded. He tended to ignore the reality that surrounded him.
There is a story that Smith took British political leader Charles Townshend with him to tour a tanning factory. Adam Smith became so involved in talking about free trade theory, he casually strolled into a huge tanning pit. He had to be rescued.
Modern conservatism is antagonistic to evidence of what works. Unlike father Smith, contemporary Republicans reject any help in getting out of the pit.