Sunday, January 15, 2017
Thursday, January 12, 2017
If Republicans want to force through massive tax cuts, we will fight them tooth and nail.
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.
It has rained bucketsful in the last couple of days, and I have been embroiled in trivia, interspersed with fiction and working on integrating some new plot elements into the book with Niven and Barnes. As well as coming down with a mild but distracting cold.
I say all that, but in fact I’ve also been a bit cloggled by what’s going on in Washington. There are still elements of the Left who hope to stop Mr. Trump’s inauguration; and this is not treated as an act of rebellion. It is one thing to assert one’s right of free speech. It is certainly the right of citizens to say I didn’t vote for him, and I don’t like him. It is another thing to plan disruptions of the inauguration. Preventing the swearing in of the President and asking for support in doing that seems to me an act of actual rebellion.
And blaming it all on Russia – their hacks revealed things about Hillary and the Democratic National Committee that caused people all over the country to change their vote, thus giving Trump the office –therefore this was not a real election — But I can’t go on with this, I believe in rational discussion, but there isn’t any here.
Was it Russian propaganda that turned voters against Hillary? But we have been inundated with foreign propaganda from the earliest days of Independence, and even before. And the Russian hacking – if it was the Russians, since everyone including Boy Scout troops hacked Hillary’s basement server – resulted in revelations to the voters that caused them to change their minds.
Were the revelations untrue? Well, no, not really. So if the Washington Post had hacked Trump’s server and published revelations it would be all right? They might even get a Pulitzer Prize? Well, but this was the Russians! And it was against Hillary! Don’t you see?
I wish I was making that up, but it’s not all that inaccurate as a summary of a dialogue with a reader. Leaving me nonplussed and discouraged.
Republicans now must try to revamp Obamacare into a health care scheme that works. The problem is that there isn’t one for an equalitarian democratic society.
Start from first principles. People get sick, or are born with defects that must be remedied. This cost s money. Most people can afford to pay for most of their health problems, but some problems are simply overwhelming. Insurance was invented for that. Insurance boils down to this: you bet that you will get one or another catastrophic health problem. Insurance companies bet you will not. You win if you get the disease, and the insurer pays. If you don’t get the problem, you lose your bet: what you pay paid is expended, you get nothing for it, and you and the insurance company are quits. If you die from some other cause, they owe you nothing, you owe them nothing, all’s square.
Life insurance is like unto it: you bet you will die before you have paid more in premiums than the policy pays when you die. It’s complicated because if you live long enough, you own the policy and can stop paying, but it still boils down to you bet you die before you’ve paid that much.
When I first went to work for Boeing, the first policy offered to me was insurance against specified “dread diseases”. I don’t recall them all, but they included cancer, leprosy, and other such. The policy was pretty simple: if you got one of those, somebody else paid for it. The insurance didn’t cost much, and I think Boeing paid for part of it. Then came other offers, most of which were variants on co-payment schemes: I paid a premium which was never refunded whether I got sick or not. If I did get sick, I paid a certain maximum amount and above that they paid; there may have been some upper limit on the amount they were liable for, but that depended on the size of the premium. There were other options, but since I was a young guy in good health, the company was liable for most work-place incident problem, and I had no reason to expect disasters. It all looked fine to me.
Over the years, things changed a bit. Health issues that had been invariably fatal were found to be curable or preventable. Sometimes the prevention was difficult. I grew up in a time when smoking was nearly universal – there were cigarettes in the rations issued to the troops – but over time it was shown that smoking really caused health problems. There was a lot of controversy over “freedom to smoke” and the rising costs of health care, but after a while smokers paid a higher premium, and this was probably a great factor in reducing the number of smokers. I quit because the evidence was overwhelming that smoking cost about ten years of productive life, and you can accomplish a lot in ten years. About then I got a chance to join Kaiser health care, and my problems got simpler. Pay Kaiser a reasonable amount every month, and Roberta and I and the four boys were essentially taken care of for a rather nominal per visit fee. End of problem for me.
But that was me. I had a decent income, I could afford the dues or membership fees or whatever you call them. What about those who couldn’t afford it? Who couldn’t afford anything? Who lived off food stamps or begging? Those out of work, some through no fault of their own, some because they couldn’t keep a job no matter how trivial, some because they had more kids than they could raise and no one in the family was making any money; etc. They depended on charity. But in came government and the Great Society. “Don’t you worry, vote for us and we’ll give you your rights. You’re entitled.”
And that’s where we are now. “I’m entitled to any medical care you can have. If there’s a cure, no matter how expensive it is, if you can get it I’m entitled to it too. As to who’s going to pay for it, I don’t know, but I don’t have to care. I’m entitled.”
Actually, not many people would say or think that. It’s more like some intellectual taking about other people. A tenured professor who gets Kaiser or Blue Cross as an employment benefit talking about the chap who shakes a cup outside the campus gate. Or politicians. In any event, the notion of entitlement entered the picture: government exists to protect your right to free stuff, and never you mind who’s to pay for it. You’re entitled.
And that’s where we are now. You are entitled to health care insurance with no restrictions on pre-existing conditions, which means you can wait until you’re diagnosed with lung cancer before you place a bet that you’ll have lung cancer; and you won’t have to pay any more for this insurance than anyone else even though he’s been paying for thirty years.
“I need car insurance. I just had a wreck. Insure my car, and don’t talk to me about pre-existing conditions, I get to pay the same amount as you pay, Mr. Smug Guy. And I can’t afford it anyway, I don’t have a job. So when do I get my check for my wrecked car? It’s just down the street where I hit the telephone pole.”
No one – yet – expects to get car insurance against a collision after the collision. But they do expect Congress to continue providing them with insurance against health problems and to pay no more than anyone else if they have pre-existing conditions. Obamacare gave them that and you Republicans can’t take it away.
And as long as we keep that “entitlement”, we’re going to have a problem. The insurance industry might have absorbed a requirement to let people keep their health insurance after changing employers, even though they had developed a condition at some point. Indeed, you can make a good case for saying that losing one’s job (and therefore employer provided health insurance) should not be a reason for losing the health insurance; you ought to be able to retain it somehow. If you had insurance and developed the conditions, they were not pre-existing: you bet that you’d get something. You got it but didn’t know it. Your employer went out of business: you ought to be able to continue your insurance without a new examination that might discover a condition you didn’t know you had.
But speculation on what’s fair begs the main question: how did my health concerns become your problem? If my kids get sick, why is it your obligation to pay? If I get AIDS, why do you have to pay for the expensive drug cocktail needed to keep me alive? And ironically, that cocktail was discovered through the expenditure of tax money, some of which you paid, and now its discovery lays on you the obligation to buy it for me. Why? Where did you get this obligation to save me? You didn’t have that obligation until you paid for its discovery; now my life depends on it, I can’t pay for it, so you must buy it for me; and if you don’t, well, the tax collector can call armed men, and you better not resist them. Or you could join with others to lay the obligation on the rich; all the same to me so long as I get my drug cocktail.
Of course few AIDS victims think this way and none talk this way, but that’s how entitlements work: you’re obligated to pay for them, and you’ve no choice in the matter. You got the obligation because lawmakers say you have it, and none of this nonsense about religion, either. You have it because we say you have it, and we’ll hire people to make you pay, don’t doubt that.
Obamacare said we’ll take in all the uninsured, regardless of pre-conditions. Insurance companies said that’s madness: who’d insure against something if they could buy it after they get it? If we know they’ve got it, we have to charge at least what it will cost as premium, and if they can afford to pay that, they don’t need the insurance. The Obamacare intellectuals said, “You can’t do that. You can’t charge more just because they had pre-existing conditions.” At which point the insurance companies told them, “We won’t do it. We can’t do it. We’d be broke in no time.”
The Obamacare intellectuals brooded a bit, and said, “Tell you what. We’ll make everyone buy an insurance policy. You set your own prices, but one thing: everyone pays the same price.”
“And what happens if they don’t buy it?”
“We’ll fine them.”
“And if they can’t afford it, or the fines?”
“Oh, we’ll pay them subsidies so that can pay you your blasted premiums. You’ll get your profits, never you fear.”
Now, Obamacare was more complicated than that – immensely more so, thousand pages of complex legalese – but it basically boiled down to that. Everyone paid the same price, existing conditions or not, which was high enough to cover all the medical costs of those enrolled in the various Plans. It was repeatedly pointed out that it would, by its very nature, have to cost more than a plan that excluded pre-existing conditions, or charged those who had them higher crates, but Obamacare passed.
It has certainly reduced the number of persons not covered by any health care insurance. It has done so at a cost that we cannot afford. And while there is waste and fraud in the system – there always is – I’ve seen no evidence of enough to compensate for those costs. Proponents of a “single payer” scheme – socialized medicine, universal government provided health care, whatever you want to call it – love to point this out. You’ve put so many restrictions on the insurance system in order to enforce equality that there’s no way we can afford anything but single payer insurance like Britain, so just give up and go with that.
Meanwhile the tuition costs of college goes up, while we plot to make the new medical school graduates indentured servants working for the government.
And it always adds up the same way: those who make a living working are obligated to pay for those who don’t, at least in health care. Where this obligation came from is never discussed, but it certainly must extend to aiding immigrants, both legal and illegal.
I’m glad I’m not a member of Congress.
Of course nature may take care of the problem for us.
I was listening to some leftist and my eyes glazed over at two questions:
Why should people in Africa get the short end of the stick and go without water and a warm meal on a daily basis?
Why should something as free and basic as education be denied to people?
These questions are asked by many people, even in the media. So these matters have some relevance to the rest of us.
First, this guy has never been to Africa and so has no idea what he is talking about beyond some internalized, elements he gleaned from the mass media and the culture industry.
Second, at what point did I become part of some collective? And at what point did that collective suddenly have responsibility for people in some other collective, somewhere else? Why must I pick up my cross and fight his battles in the Dark Continent? Don’t we have people around us that can’t eat and drink to take care of first? Aren’t the people in this collective he seems to think he’s part of when he wants to complain about something worth his time and effort?
Then the matter of education being “free and basic”. Education is advanced, it requires written and spoken language and those aren’t basic and neither is anything that follows. More importantly, someone has to do the training or the educating. Is that person expected to get up every day out of the kindness of his or her heart to perform these “free and basic” services? Or will the have-nots suddenly have whips to compel them to do what is “good and right for the group”?
History answers this question.
I’m starting to think the left can be seen as the Borg and the right can be seen as the Romulans or the Vulcans — depending on how disciplined they are…… I think you can easily agree with me on Romulans and Vulcans.
The Borg are clearly collectivists. The Borg chase “perfection”
(idealism?). Voltaire commented that behind perfectionism is fear.
Perhaps the Borg Queen fears reality and must achieve perfection by assimilating reality until it conforms with the Will. This is rather like the apparent Christian approach to life, which is corrective.
The Romulans take a similar approach but prefer to accept or reject reality through conquest or destruction, respectively, rather than change reality as the Borg. This is similar with the apparent Shivaist acceptance of life and the apparent Buddhist rejection of it.
The Vulcans do the same but they do not conquer and destroy. They simply protect and isolate themselves, preferring to work through consent and contract while maintaining incredible power to enforce those agreements.
The Vulcans and Romulans are both action and inaction; they are both the eye of the hurricane. The Borg just follow a program….the Borg are the bureaucrats of the universe; they’re they type that always take over the organization and always make the rules under which the organization functions.
Is the universe not trying to avoid Borg invasion as Star Trek progresses? If the left ever become transhumuan… You know, I’m not sure if that would be an anti-utopian novel or a spoof, but it would a funny piece of writing to have a bunch of leftist transhumanists who completely screw everything up and cause the collapse of the entire planet in some ridiculous timeframe like a decade because their technology is great at what it does but the left doesn’t know how to use it — perhaps the Borg don’t know either? This digression seems a good place to end, abruptly.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
Joshua Jordan, KSC
It will be all right. Just pay your taxes and work a little harder.
Steve Sailer on Immigration
Steve Sailer wrote an interesting article that I saw over at Takimag:
Money quote: “Mass immigration tends to work politically like a doomsday machine, a juggernaut progressively cutting down the ability to call off immigration due to diminishing marginal returns. As a Western nation imports more individuals from the self-destructive parts of the world, the demands to admit their extended family members grow as well.”
I don’t have a realistic answer that doesn’t involve weapons of mass destruction. I’m getting to the point where I’m willing to consider their use, but I cannot reconcile my faith with what may need to be done. Right now, for me at least, my faith is losing ground…
Don’t you want more diversity?
A thank you
Long ago when you had your brain tumor problem and even before that you had been noting that Kaiser Permanente had been very good for you. That led me to suggest Loren latch on to KP when he had a chance. And as soon as I could I latched on.
God Bless you for that. They have saved Loren’s life from sleep apnea and more recently a pituitary tumor. And they are making my aging life much easier to handle. They are good folks. And I’m glad I read than on your site.
We still have Kaiser. It hasn’t changed. If you like your health plan you can keep it. Haven’t we that solemn promise? Of course they have to change their membership standards a bit, and take everyone who asks, and can’t charge new members more than they charge anyone else meaning they have to raise prices for everyone, and…
So far they have evaded that, and we’re all safe together.
4chan Claims It Invented the Trump Golden Showers Story
Rush has been warning the inside crowd won’t go quietly, but this is pretty stupid behavior.
Czech government tells its citizens how to fight terrorists: Shoot them yourselves – MSN News
Whether or not EU law overrides member nations’ laws is a point of some contention.
The European Court of Justice came up with a “primacy of EU law” doctrine which says that anything passed by the EU overrides anything conflicting in member states’ laws, including those states’ constitutions. Various national courts, per Wikipedia, “disagree with this extreme interpretation and reserve the right, in principle, to review the constitutionality of European law under national constitutional law.”
I’d take the Post’s reference there as being similar to the usual mainstream media take on the US Constitution’s “supremacy clause.” They report it as “of course, federal law trumps state law,” when the terms of the clause are in fact qualified/constrained.
And of course the Czech Republic has an army (the EU does not) and a somewhat armed citizenry. The Czechs are probably going to do what they damn well please.
Do you think the Wehrmacht can govern a Czech Protectorate? Perhaps EU can appoint a Protector of Bohemia.
Off we go…
“Eventually, the Voyagers will pass other stars. In about 40,000 years, Voyager 1 will drift within 1.6 light-years (9.3 trillion miles) of AC+79 3888, a star in the constellation of Camelopardalis which is heading toward the constellation Ophiuchus.
“In about 296,000 years Voyager 2 will pass 4.3 light-years (25 trillion miles) from Sirius, the brightest star in the sky . The Voyagers are destined—perhaps eternally—to wander the Milky Way.”
“Doomsday scenarios for the human race abound, from climate change to nuclear war, asteroids, and out of control Artificial Intelligence. But what they share in common is a MUCH shorter timeframe than 296,000 years.”
Quite a good brief history and documentation of the Voyagers, including illustrations and videos.
Time to Die?
So this is how empires die?
“We’re broke.” In essence, that’s the message Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work delivered to Defense-Secretary-in-Waiting James Mattis at the December 5 Future Strategy Forum.
Mr. Work admitted that DoD has breathtaking liabilities—as much as $88 billion a year—that ought to be addressed before procuring a single additional plane, ship or tank. Unfortunately, the situation is even worse than that.
I haven’t written lately because everything I see and analyze just confirms certain milder doom and gloom scenarios and I don’t need to be the voice of darkness. But this article is so chilling that I simply must forward it.
I have have grave doubts regarding our national security from about 2018 through at least 2030. It seems to me the third world war could start or started in Syria and articles like this diminish my faith.
I read a Rand Corporation study that said we would likely not be able to defeat the Chinese in what would become a long and protracted war and they likely would not be able to defeat us either until they can expand their naval power. I see no sense in fighting that war.
We’ve been in steady decline since World War II and this may be the end of the road. Let all who live though this know, the Boomers did it and when enough of them die that their lobby weakens, I’ll have no sympathy. ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ Most Respectfully,
Joshua Jordan, KSC
I’ve been trying to suss the state of the “cold war”, particularly as it is expressed through the philosophy of Mutually Assured Destruction. I’ve made little progress. I think I have a pretty good handle on the desire for world domination that motivated Lenin and Stalin, but particularly in the media frenzy accompanying the run-up to the Trump inauguration, I find myself floundering, trying to come to an understanding of just who “them” is.
What brought this question starkly into focus was an article published by the American Enterprise Institute (http://www.aei.org/publication/navys-deterrence-fund-is-just-another-washington-budget-gimmick/) concerning the perennial scramble for DoD dollars. In light of oh so many things, such as the Air Force’s A-10 future plans and the secrecy surrounding the X-37 program, the question begs to be answered: Just who’s in charge and what is the policy?
A long time ago I wrote a paper for the Air Council (USAF) on “Stability”, pointing out that a stabilizing power needs escalation dominance, particularly at the highest conflict levels. Escalation dominance means roughly that the higher the level of conflict, the more dominant you are with respect to this particular opponent. If you are going to impose stability on the world, you need escalation dominance with respect to everyone in the world; if you don’t have that, you had better be careful what conflicts you get into.
MAD – Mutual Assured Destruction – as a strategy gets pretty sticky in a multi-power world. “I can’t kill you but I can make you vulnerable to THEM so give me what I want or we both die – is a scenario with many variants. “If you depose me, we all die.” Is another.
I have no clearances and no particular knowledge of our forces, but I know Obama ordered reductions in the nuclear force, the B-52’s are generally older than their crews and are best described as a bunch of parts flying in close formation, and SAC is no longer the elite force it once was. Certainly Trump knows this and so do any number of the people he has nominated to the cabinet. I also know that restoring top level escalation dominance will be expensive. Of course if you are not trying to impose stability on all parts of the world, there are other options.
Ringling Bros. closing ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ after 146 years
“Attendance has been dropping for 10 years, said Juliette Feld, but when the elephants left, there was a “dramatic drop” in ticket sales. While many said they didn’t want big animals to perform in circuses, many others refused to attend a circus without them.”
I can’t find any relevant old emails, but I’m fairly confident I remember predicting this to at least a couple of people…
Subj: Ringling Bros. closing ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ after 146 years | New York Post
I recall a large flurry of messages predicting this result. I got to go backstage at the circus when I was a kid – my father managed WHBQ which is how he afforded that stupid farm I grew up on – and I thought the elephants, who did a lot of the work setting up the circus, enjoyed the parades and the attention although they resented being used as tractors. I know they hated being entirely idle with nothing to do. So do I.
Fascinating Baseball History – WW II History
Largely substantiated by the Wikipedia article.
The only point of dispute is that, according to Wikipedia, Moe Berg was freelancing during the trip to Japan (though there are some discrepancies in the story that may make the interpretation below more credible, and it’s not otherwise clear why he would have been selected for the trip) when he shot the footage described – but he did show it to the Pentagon after Pearl Harbor.
Subj: Fascinating Baseball History – WW II History
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.