Monday, March 22, 2010

Yes, that IS a wolf in wolf's clothing: Part I

Well, they did it.

With the passing of the Health Care bill, America may have finally, officially passed into the twilight of our prosperity. If allowed to stand, this new piece of social welfare will be the coup de grace of a century-long effort to pacify and emasculate the American spirit of liberty and the value of the individual.

The economic reality of this bill, combined with the other entitlement bombs ticking away has provided the moment for us to face the prospects of our national mortality. The picture is grim, but you must fully and deeply understand it if America is to have a chance at surviving this altruistic onslaught. And yes, I have read the official 69-page summary of the bill which is probably 68 more pages than the average Congressman ;)

To be clear, this analysis is conducted on an economic premise, not a moral one. And why should it be otherwise? After all, the Democrats pushed this through precisely on the argument that this bill is an economic positive for America and will help cut the deficit. Well, the truth is not so kind.

Health insurance economics: Today
Insurance premiums have been rising steadily for decades for many reasons: general inflation, advanced care options which did not exist in years prior, fraud and waste, etc. But perhaps the largest single driver of rising costs is Medicare and Medicaid. These government programs do not reimburse physicians for the full cost of care provided. The formulas are too complex to go into here but roughly speaking, Medicaid reimburses providers 20-25 percent less than does the private sector. Naturally, doctors and hospitals must pass this loss onto patients with private insurance, thereby raising the cost of care. This is pretty simple economics. The metrics for Medicare are even worse.

The truth of the matter is that your health insurance rates have been climbing so astronomically NOT because of insurance companies themselves. Profit-wise, this industry is among the least profitable of any industry: about 3-4% profit margins. It's because the government has seen fit to underpay doctors and hospitals for the care of about 80 million people. The difference is made up through higher costs for those with private insurance. That my friends, is the simple and inescapable truth of the matter. Yet, the insurance industry makes the perfect bogeyman for the politicians. They certainly could not stand up and shame the doctors of America for having the nerve to pass these costs up the financial food chain. This would create the atmosphere for exposing the true thieves in the process: the government and its recipient class enablers. No, the insurance industry served its purpose just fine. By not fighting today's battle, they bought themselves perhaps another decade until their Saigon. And you can bet that all of today's insurance executives and big shareholders will be long gone by then.

Health insurance economics: Tomorrow
Here is the unavoidable truth. Are you ready? If you have private insurance today, your premiums will continue to rise and faster than before - the promises of D.C. Democrats notwithstanding. The policies unleashed by the newly passed health care bill virtually demand it. Consider the larger points (my comments in red):

1. Six months after enactment, insurance companies could no longer denying children coverage based on a preexisting condition. This is a nearly instant increase in the number of "expensive customers" in your insurance pool. This adds costs.

2. Starting in 2014, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to anyone with preexisting conditions. Clever of them to wait until after Obama faces re-election as this will pose a significant increase in "expensive patients" to be added to the health insurance rolls. What do you think your favorite Chinese buffet would cost if a team of Sumo wrestlers began eating there every night?

3. Insurance companies must allow children to stay on their parent's insurance plans until their 26th birthday. Again, adding further costs. While people this age are typically very profitable customers for the insurance company, a 25-year old still on his parent's family plan is not nearly so. Additional members are always less profitable than individual policies.

4. Expands Medicaid to include 133 percent of federal poverty level which is $29,327 for a family of four. This will mean higher costs coming from the care providers as the previously mentioned problem with short-paying for services will be amplified. This too will be reflected in your health insurance premium.

5. Requires states to expand Medicaid to include childless adults starting in 2014. Ditto.

6. Federal Government pays 100 percent of costs for covering newly eligible individuals through 2016. Remember, the government's version of "paying all of the costs" means about 80%. Again, that 20% balance is to be passed onto you and I who have our own health insurance.

What the future will hold
There are many more provisions that will add to the cumulative effect of those above. There is only one result possible: provider costs and in turn, insurance costs will go up, up and away. For Democrats, this is the perfect, planned result of this bill. As for any liberals who right now are shouting: " yeah, but what about the CBO numbers and the fact that this bill will lower the deficit!?" Well, you've been fed and have swallowed a lie of epic proportions. If you can not acknowledge the simple truths of economic behavior combined with basics of supply and demand explained above, you are not being intellectually honest. If that was not enough, I present you with this. At what point do you cast political loyalty aside in favor of basic, human decency and truth? Yes, I realize you consider health care a right and that by achieving this, you are doing a "good". But if the means to achieve this include outright deception, what then of your moral high ground? Morality of course is another topic for another day which I will address. But strictly economically speaking, the depth and scope of this deception is not only staggering... it is fatal.

For it will create such economic havoc that enough people will clamor for the government's help once again. Yes, it sounds counterintuitive given that it will be the government responsible for the mess in the first place. But such has been the history of much of our collectivist policies. But you must remember two things.

One, they have already shown a complete disregard for public opinion this time around. Now that they've succeeded, the next time will only be easier.

Two, the narrative will be the same: the evil insurance industry is to blame! But this time, healthcare providers themselves will be added to the crosshairs. Why? Because between now and then, let's call it 5-10 years, the average quality of care in America will decline. It must, based on the most basic laws of supply and demand. There are not enough doctors (supply) to go around in many parts of the country today yet we are adding millions of new patients (demand). Add to this the declining incentive to enter the field of medicine because of cost controls that result in lower wages and you will either get fewer doctors OR less qualified doctors to make up the difference. Those fortunate enough to maintain their own private insurance plans will likely continue to have the very best doctors (an increasing number of which are no longer accepting new Medicare or Medicaid patients). These doctors will be vilified as the rich and the greedy. And we know what happens to those labeled as such in modern-day America.

However, there will be many more patients on government-subsidized programs of one name or another who will have to stand in line to be waited on by second-tier doctors and in second-tier facilities. Either way, this new scapegoat will soon enter the barn along with the insurance devils in tow.

Systemically, the writing is on the wall: as costs go up for private insurance plans (which is unavoidable) and individuals and employers get priced out, the government picks these people up into their "Exchange". This dumps more burden onto the private-insurance system in the process (due to the government short-paying for services and the reduction in the size of the private insurance pool) until such time that private insurance ceases to become a business worth pursuing or the government simply nationalizes it.

This bill is not the first step toward a single-payer, Western European model of health care... it is the final step!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

50 Global Warming Myths

With world leaders conspiring in Copenhagen this week to level a crippling Carbon Tax on the developed world, this is an opportune time to educate yourself on this man-made farce.

The link below is a PDF of a pamphlet I created to give you the intellectual ammo needed to debunk the Global Warmists among us. I scaled down a list of 100 Global Warming Myths to a more manageable (and ample) 50.

The original source for this document is HERE.

It is a two-page, 8.5" x 11" document. Print one page, then print the other page on the reverse side. Fold in half and you'll have a small pamphlet to share with others in our quest to expose the largest power grab and wealth transfer the world has ever known.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Obama to troops: don't shoot first!

According to U.S. Army and Marine sources on the ground in Afghanistan, American troops have been placed under a strict Rules of Engagement policy which many believe will cause the death of more U.S. servicemen. These new Rules of Engagement have been approved by President Barack Obama after the insistance of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The rules include:

• No night or surprise searches

• Villagers are to be warned prior to searches

• Afghan National Army, or ANA, or Afghan National Police, or ANP, must accompany U.S. units on searches

• U.S. soldiers may not fire at insurgents unless they are preparing to fire first

• U.S. forces cannot engage insurgents if civilians are present

• Only women can search women

• Troops can fire on insurgents if they catch them placing an IED but not if insurgents walk away from where the explosives are

One would think we learned valuable tactical lessons during the Vietnam War. For the generals to bow to this sort of political dictate is troubling. If we are not in Afghanistan to win (whatever that may mean) then our valiant troops are merely being led to slaughter. How can an American president put our young men and women in harms way with such a decidedly tactical disadvantage? It appears as if President Obama is more interested in what the intelligencia of the United Nations thinks of us than he is protecting American lives. Add this to the long list of emasculating policies Obama and his political cronies are subjecting the United States to. Outrageous is an understatement.

Read more about this outrageous implementation of political correctness below:

The mainstream media won't touch this so it's incumbent upon us to let people know about this misuse of American lives. Please click the link and print the PDF below, cut at the dotted horizontal lines and post copies of this everywhere you can think of!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What "Take America Back" means to me

I often get asked what I believe on various issues and what it is that I'm advocating with the Take America Back bands. Take it back from whom?, I'm often asked. Let me say this... this is not about health insurance, it's not about higher taxes, it's not about cap and trade issues, it's not about the farce that has become our monetary system, it's not about obscene deficits, it's not the degradation of our basic and common culture, it's not even about the government intrusion into private industry. It's much, much larger than that to me.

Those are all merely symptoms of a larger illness. We (the people) have allowed government to take responsibility for us, rather than ourselves. We have continued to elect the same sort of people, year after year, who continually promise one thing but do another. We have been distracted and medicated by the comforts of our credit card society. The bigscreen TV has trumped the town hall and a trip to Walmart has become more important than going to vote. Yes, I am guilty too. I have seen the ball rolling down the hill but, until now, have merely watched and muttered the occasional gripe. I have missed voting in elections. I too, have stood by as America's greatness has been dimmed.

What is this "greatness" of which I speak? It is the freedom to become whatever we desire. The freedom to achieve. The freedom to fail. The freedom to use our God-given abilities to create comfort for ourselves and our families. It's the freedom to live uncoerced my our fellow man. It's the freedom to help others as our conscience dictates. It's the freedom to be free.

A little more than 230 years ago, a group of individuals came together who realized that freedom was the natural state and desire of mankind. They set out to create the most unique and daring social experiment that has ever been attempted. That system, enshrined in the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights, has been an unequivocal success by any measure. It has allowed us to not only achieve great economic and social progress, it has been a beacon to other people around the world that they too can live in freedom. It works because it's foundation is built upon our God-given freedom to live, to prosper and to help others do the same.

What is under attack, and has been for quite some time, is this very foundation. There are those among us who believe the state to be more competent than its citizens. They believe the collective to be more important than the individual. They seek to enslave us to the will of the state not out of some evil dictatorial ambition. No, they truly believe they are saving us from ourselves. The policies mentioned above, regardless of their intent, have consequences. They make us less free. They go by the name of Democrat and Progressive and yes, even some Republicans. Regardless of political party, they seek to embrace us with the protective arms of the state by preying on our fears and dividing us into the have's and the have not's. Our bumper stickers call them socialists or communists. What they really are is... misguided. It is sad that they do not recognize the potential for greatness that is within all individuals and our ability to seek that greatness out on our own -- without the coercion of the state. They misjudge human nature and our natural yearning to be free. It is this fatal misjudgment that threatens all that we have achieved and all that we may become. If they have their way, intentional or not, they will kill America and we know this in our hearts to be true.

THAT is whom I want to Take America Back from.

While I might wish for some other means or some "perfect" political party, the political reality of today says that this is best achieved through the Republican party. Republicans, independents and libertarians indeed disagree on many specific political issues. But on the nature of human nature and our God-given right and will to be free, we all agree. It is this fight we must take up now, together. The one thing that is truly at stake and is threatened by the Left is this common principle we share. This next election must do more than elect Republicans in name only. It is our duty to cut through the political and media clutter to elect people to represent us who believe in the core, fundamental truth and value of our individual freedom. From these people the correct policies will come.

I leave you with some ideas to consider from men far more enlightened than I...

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it" -- Thomas Paine

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err." -- Mahatma Gandhi

"Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better." -- Albert Camus

"Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves." -- Nietzsche

"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

"Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance." -- Woodrow Wilson

"Freedom is the oxygen of the soul." -- Moshe Dayan

Friday, September 4, 2009

Calling a spade, a spade. Or in this case, a Communist

You can't turn on the TV or talk radio show these days without hearing the words "communism" and "socialism" flying around like a swarm of locust. Most Democrats ridicule such talk and simply write it off as the rantings of those right-wing extremists. For Democrats, words like communism and its brethren are just pejorative barbs design to sidetrack debate on the good works they are trying to do. You know -- clean up the atmosphere, healthcare for all, save the economy, etc, etc. Democrats aren't for Socialism or Communism -- they're good Americans just like you and me with different approaches to policy, right? Wrong.

Now, I'm not talking about the average Democrat voter. They are merely followers. I'm talking about the insidious, treacherous intent of the left-wing activists which have overrun the Democrat party. They have been at it, chipping away at the foundation of liberty and capitalism for decades. Now, with control of all branches of government, they are stepping on the gas.

Before you poo-poo the idea that elected leaders could possibly intend to do such a thing, I ask you to continue reading... (my remarks in blue). Note that these prescriptions for communist panacea aren't in linear order.

10 Conditions For Transition To Communism
(Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich, The Communist Manifesto, 1848)

• Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
This can easily be furthered by the imposition of crippling property taxes, among other measures, as means to divest individuals of their private property. America is not near the abolition of private property today as incrementalism is the name of the game. This would likely be one of the last planks to fall on the bridge to communism.

• A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
The United States already has this in place and under Obama and the Democrat leadership, it would intensify. This is the most effective and perverse method to gain control of the nation's wealth and is the engine for wealth redistribution. It is also the most difficult to defeat because of the populist, political power inherent with sticking it to the "rich" -- a definition by the way, which will continually be redefined downward.

• Abolition of all right of inheritance.
This is well on it's way given the existence of the estate or "death tax". It's as high as 45% for estates as little as $1.5M -- that's a small house in many large cities. Many Democrats want to make this tax much higher.

• Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
Existing asset forfeiture laws are the mechanism for this element should it ever come to pass.

• Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
This one is a done deal. The Federal Reserve effectively controls the money supply and though that, the credit supply.

• Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
The "Fairness Doctrine" and a bill now in the Senate to grant authority to Obama to seize computer networks in an "emergency" puts this goal well in reach. The major broadcast networks have effectively turned themselves over to the Left long ago.

• Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
We have been witness to this evolution in just the past year. It's name is GM: Government Motors. This is just the first step as now, government has established a precedent. But beyond the traditional "factory" under Marx, our government has and seeks to absorb other elements of the productive economy. Consider what the government already controls: the Post Office (means of communication), Fannie and Freddie (primary means of home/property ownership), several U.S. banks and investment firms (private equity), Medicare and Medicaid (insurance industry for the poor and retired) and the list could go on. Now, they want control of 1/6 of the U.S. economy by seizing the health care industry. Oh yes, they will privatize it all -- hospitals, doctors and drug companies. The insurance industry as it stands today will be gone within a decade if the government passes Obama care. This is all more than a coincidental trend.... these growing elements of state control lead only to one thing. And it's not more freedom.

• Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded," said Barack Obama. This, along with his proposal to double the size of the Peace Corps and nearly quadruple the size of AmeriCorps is bone-chilling.

• Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equal distribution of the population over the country.
This has been an established trend of the past several decades. I'm not sure the intent here with Marx, but dense populations are inherently dangerous to oppressive governments.

• Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.
This one is complete and is probably the most responsible for the state we are in as a nation. The liberals have had total control of the public education system for decades -- a time during which our education standards and results have plummeted by the way. Decades of children have been taught revisionist history and their receptive minds massaged to embrace the notion of "American Guilt". There is a good account of this here.

You can debate the intent of leftist politicians all you want. What isn't deniable is the fact that policies pushed and implemented by the Left have inexorably led to a less free society. Millions of Americans understand this. That's why "liberal" is a dirty word these days and they now call themselves "progressives". The labels can change but what remains is their fervent desire to metamorphose the "Land of the Free" into a well-intentioned, but nonetheless despotic, Nanny State.

The one inconvenience standing in their way is that thing known as the ballot box. America, are we fully awake yet? I am.

Monday, August 17, 2009

5 Point Health Care Reform Plan


I'm not in favor of government-run healthcare, let me make that clear. America unequivocally has the best care in the world because of innovation born in the private healthcare industry. If we MUST make reforms to appease the political elite and their constituency, here is a plan that would address most of the pressing issues and fairly give everyone a stake in their own healthcare and the systems that provide it. This plan isn't perfect but as Voltaire suggested, "don't let perfect become the enemy of the good."

1. Ensure the viability of the private insurance industry
The worst thing that could happen would be for the existing private insurance industry to wither away. That would ensure a government monopoly and that, as evidenced by history, is not a good thing. This is probably the most contentious issue dividing health care reform advocates and opposition. To bridge this divide, create a set of rules that would explicitly protect the private insurance industry from unfair competition from the government option.

• Prohibit the government from enacting any new taxes on private healthcare plans, their recipients or the groups (employers) who provide them. The goal would be to ensure that the system is not set-up for the purpose of eventual government takeover.

• Give private citizens full tax deductability for individual health care plans and savings accounts.

• Allow inter-state purchase of health insurance. Why in the world is this not allowed? Simple: it is designed to INCREASE insurance costs to help create the "crisis" which, naturally, can only be solved by government. Here's how: the smaller the insurance pool, the generally higher the rates for members of that group.

• Require any new rules or laws to have equal economic impact on the private insurance industry as they would the government run versions. This would reduce the appeal for the government to rewrite the rules to benefit their system at the expense of the private industry.

2. GovCare
Combine Medicare (seniors) and Medicaid (poor) with this new healthcare program (Gapcare?) and call it all GovCare. Streamline the bureacracy and administration of these programs for starters. This should be able to save billions annually.

• Gapcare would cover anyone who meats basic means testing (above Medcaid) and would require them to pay a portion of their monthly premium, perhaps 10-50%. Premium should be fairly low since the government has promised its ability to lower rates by having such a large pool of 30-50 million Americans. Yet a premium must be collected in order for these people to have "skin in the game".

• The rest of the funding for the Gapcare should not come from the general revenue fund nor borrowing. It should come from a combination of savings acheived by putting all the federal healthcare programs under the GovCare roof. It should also come from taxing the foods directly related to a good deal of the nation's health problems. Add a few cents for every high-fructose or liquor beverage along with a few cents for every packaged or prepared food item that derives XX% of its calories from fat or sugar. I'm generally not in favor of any new tax but if you must pay for GovCare, I'd rather it be funded by some of the consumption responsible for our generally lousy state of health. Road work is largely funded by the people who use the roads (fuel taxes and surcharges), why not health care?

• Make all government healthcare options, just that... options. This means allowing seniors to opt-out of the Medicare and allows young adults to go without coverage if they so desire. Just because some politicians deem healthcare a "right" does not mean individuals must be compelled by force of law to accept.

3. Require responsibility
I'm not sure how (legally) this could be legislated but employer-provided health insurance plans should require recipients to pay half of the monthly premium. By creating a larger financial stake in their own health care costs, people are likely to live more healthy (filling another goal of reform) and reduce their individual "health care footprint" on society. It also reduces the cost to many large employers (that currently pay 100%) who may improve the level of plan their group participates in or extend benefits to more employees. This rule would extend to all union and civil service employee insurance programs, regardless of collective bargaining agreements.

4. Let the FDA draw a line in the sand on drugs
One of the big reasons America spends so much of its GDP (about 16%) on health care is that we are taking too many drugs (the legal ones ;) We have truly become a medicated society. Over the last two decades, there has been an explosion of drugs that appeal to the "sniffly nose" crowd. Let the FDA create two drug designations on all new and existing drugs: Life Quality (LQ) and Life Necessity (LN). These would be legitimate medical determinations, not political ones. No insurance program would be permitted to pay for LQ drugs -- not even GovCare. If you want to pay out of pocket for them, fine. The reality is, the drug companies will probably spend less money on R&D for LQ drugs and put more time and effort into real medical breakthroughs.

While they're at it, the FDA should also limit direct-consumer advertising. This might sounds blasphemous coming from someone in the media industry ;) Drug companies currently spend about 30% of their annual revenues on marketing and advertising. This is largely responsible for the huge rise in the use of LQ drugs. The government already regulates advertising for cigarettes and alcohol so this one is no stretch. Limit drug companies to a 10% cap on advertising : revenue.

5. Tort Reform
There simply cannot be health care reform without tort reform. If the democrats are sincere about seeing a better system, they must drop their opposition to this. This is a huge contributing factor in escalating health care costs -- the enormous cost of liability insurance to health care professionals. The culprit is the high costs of litigation and compensation payouts for medical tort claims. There is no debate over the cost impact this has on the system. Most tort claims are paid from the pockets of insurance, and because the public pays into insurance, the public is footing the bill for these claims. There should be caps on punitive damages and non-economic awards. While the Democrats have been quick to vilify the insurance and drug companies, they have been breathtakingly silent on this aspect of cost control. Isn't it time to put the health of the country first, President Obama?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Taxation and tyranny

Why do Leftist TV pundits and liberal "thinkers" consider tax cuts an "income boost" to those who receive them. This is offensive. To speak about tax cuts in terms of how much they "cost" is intellectually dishonest. This is a common tactic of the Left. The government is not GIVING anything to me, in the case of a tax cut, that I haven't already EARNED.

And that's the biggest difference between liberals and conservatives. As a conservative I unabashedly declare that I want to keep more of my own money, more of my own labor. Meanwhile liberals will NEVER say they intend to take more of your money. That is of course, if you're "rich". We're not talking about the ultra wealthy here. They mean (in the last election) $125,000 per year or in other elections, less. I have news for you, $125K is not rich. Especially if you happen to live in a larger city. Especially if you have $75,000 - $100,000 in school loans to pay off because you decided to serve society as a medical professional.

Look, I have no problem paying taxes -- particularly state and local ones. Those are close to home and provide services I can benefit from directly or indirectly. But paying 1/3 of my income to the federal government while others pay nothing... that is obscene. And if a state wants to have high taxes to pay for health care or any plethora of social services, I can choose to move to a state that doesn't. THAT, was the vision and purpose of our federal system of government. A system we enjoy no more.

I have come to the conclusion that liberals really don't believe in the American Dream -- well as long as it is limited to a modest house, two cars and a load of credit card debt. They really DON"T want you to be more successful than others. I don't understand how any logical human being can look at their history of tax and spend policies and conclude otherwise. Instead, they lie, year after year, election after election, about their intentions. "We want to help you" they cry. And because they seized control of our education system decades ago, too many people believe in their false promises and don't see their intentions for what they are: to control your every need. For them, that is the root of their political power. For the rest of us, it is the foundation of a tyranny yet to come but well on its way.

The second pillar of Marx's transition to communism... A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.