Regulations, Health Care, Nominations and Confirmation, and other important matters. Will our children pay our debts for us?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Amnesty International Boss Endorses “Jihad in self-defence”


If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983


We are a nation of assimilated immigrants.

Immigration without assimilation is invasion.



Mr. Trump has nominated a highly qualified successor to the late Justice Scalia. Most Democrats agree. The Democratic leadership has vowed to oppose, delay, bring the nation to a halt; show that America cannot be governed by Republicans, or anyone but liberals. Demonstrations will continue. Meanwhile, Democrats boycotted the hearings on other Trump appointees.

The Acting Attorney General refused to allow US career civil servants to defend President Trump’s executive orders, and was accordingly dismissed by him; Democrats continue to delay confirmation of President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, and some have said they will continue all year if needed.

It looks to be an interesting year, as California and New York assert their right to rule over the United States, apparently by right of a majority of voters, almost all of that majority being in California.

As of Monday afternoon, Chicago had recorded 52 homicides in 2017 — one more than was recorded in January 2016, according to a Chicago Sun-Times list compiled using Cook County medical examiner’s and other public records.

Interesting times.



Health Care and the Constitution

I have been away awhile, but I am back reading your column again. Your latest post (from the 25th) is dealing a lot with health care in the United States and what part in this the federal government legitimately plays.
On the general subject of health care in these United States, many, many studies have shown that the US spends more per person on health care than most other developed nations, yet enjoys a significantly lower quality of health care than those same developed countries. I do not think any discussions of what to do about health care in the Unite States can accomplish anything until we find out why this situation is true. We are paying for a new Maserati and getting a used junker.
All the while that the ACA was being debated, I kept pointing out that simply changing the payer was not going to solve the health care problem in the United States, we needed to change what we are paying for, because clearly our money is not purchasing quality health care. So where does our health care dollar go?
When I spend a dollar at the grocery store, I can discover how much of that dollar went to the grocer, how much to the shipper, how much to the packer, and finally, how much to the farmer. If I want more food for my grocery dollar, I should reduce the payments to everyone in that list that does not produce the food. However, when I spend a dollar on health care, I cannot discover who got paid how much of that dollar or why they got paid. I cannot determine how much actual care that dollar bought, so I have no idea how to structure the health care market to reduce the non-care costs.
Another basic problem with health care is the very nature of the market. Much of health care is delivered in emergency circumstances. My own daughter was hit by this when her five year old daughter presented with acute appendicitis. The appendix had to come out or it would rupture and likely kill her daughter. So the appendix came out. No one quoted the cost of the pediatric surgery and post surgical care before she signed the consent forms. Later, she was hit with a $30,000.00 bill. Thirty Thousand Dollars. OK. Suppose that the hospital had told her the charge in advance — would she have rejected it? That’s too much, let’s shop around? Let’s not do it all, just get a new daughter when we can afford one?
The point of this is that much health care is delivered UNDER DURESS. We have no real choice in whether we accept the care or not, nor in what is charged. There is no shopping around in a crisis. There is no letting your children die because they are too expensive to keep right now. We just buy the care. What if we bought cars or television sets under the same circumstances? Is a ‘free’ market possible when one of the parties in the market is held under a death threat or the threat of crippling injury? Is there something fundamentally different about the health care market that requires different rules of operation?
The last part of this brings us to the US Constitution. One of your correspondents mentioned the portion of the preamble concerning promoting the general welfare. You vehemently denied that this was any kind of a grant of power. I have always understood you to be a strict constitutionalist — if the document does not say it, it is not there; if the document does say it, it is there. No emanations. No penumbras. We should also add, no shadows.
However, the preamble of the US Constitution does say: ‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.’ That is a neat list of charges: 1. form a more perfect Union, 2. establish Justice, 3. insure domestic Tranquility, 4. provide for the common defense, 5. promote the general welfare, 6. secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. You seem to agree with all of these as the purpose of the Constitution except number 5. On what basis do you exclude it? I am not trying to catch you in any kind of a trap; I am asking for my own edification. I have spent a lot of time pondering that particular clause.

Kevin L Keegan

The preamble is not a grant of power

No, but it lays out the intent of the framers for the powers they are going to grant, which is addressed in section 8:

Section 8

1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

I can find no further definition of what the “general Welfare of the United States” is or how it is to be provided for.  What constitutes the “common Defence” and how it is to be provided for, in contrast, is spelled out pretty clearly an completely in clauses 10 through 16.

Like I said in my original post, I would like to understand the clause.  I do not think the framers meant to authorize today’s welfare state, but there seems to be a lot of leeway in the wording of the Constitution.


There has been a long and well publicized debate on the meaning of the General Welfare phrase in the Constitution; the first explanations were from Hamilton and Madison, and were in the Federalist essays, originally op ed pieces in various popular newspapers explaining why people should support the Constitution drafted in Philadelphia in 1787 (both Hamilton and Madison were influential delegates). We encountered those in high school in Christian Brothers High School in Memphis in the 40’s, and as they were intended to persuade voters, they were not intended to be complex or difficult to understand. I suggest you get The Federalist and look up General Welfare in the index. Once you have done that, there are discussions available on the Internet, but of course they have different views depending on the positions of their writers. The Supreme Court has held that the general welfare clause is not a broad grant of power; there are those who disagree and think it is, and the enumeration of powers granted to the Congress in the rest of Article One is superfluous.

It is clear from both Hamilton and Madison in their Federalist essays that they did not believe this, and the original intent of the Framers was not to give virtually unlimited power to Congress, limited only by their belief that they were acting for the “general good.”

In the present era, there are those who say the intent of those who framed, and those who ratified the Constitution is irrelevant; the Constitution is a “living document” and ought to be interpreted as we think fit. This is at the heart of the controversy about “original intent” and one reason Mr. Trump ran on a platform of appointing only “original intent” Justices to the Supreme Court. At present the Court is divided 4 – 4 between Liberals, who usually reject the original intent of the Framers in favor of finding fresh new rights and powers – emanations from penumbras, in the famous phrase of the late Justice William O. Douglas in a dissenting opinion. Mr. Scalia was the scholarly voice of the “original intent” faction; his death left the court divided, and it is fairly clear that had the Democrats won the Presidency, their nominee would have joined the “living document” faction.

Mr. Trump promised to nominate a distinguished jurist of the original intent view if he were elected. He appears to have kept that promise. Assuming his nominee is confirmed, “original intent” will remain the view of a majority of the USSC, and a study of the Federalist Papers will properly interpret the general welfare clause.


The New Diploma: A Bunch of Certificates?

While I’m a new fan of online learning, there is no substitute for face-to-face teaching.


If Prof. David Gelernter’s doomsday scenario (”A High-Tech Rebirth From Higher Ed’s Ashes,” op-ed, Jan. 23) is ever enacted, the word “college” will be replaced by “post-secondary school,” and what were colleges will be trade schools, equipping students with the tools of their trade and little else. What bothers Prof. Gelernter is the failure of educators “to produce adults who can read and write and speak and listen like adults.” The fault often lies with those behind the desk. If English teachers will accept ungrammatical prose, arguing that it is content and not form that matters, and speech teachers allow students to use “like” and “you know” without weaning them away from such verbal crutches, what can be expected of the young adults who are victims of such sloppy pedagogy?

Em. Prof. Bernard F. Dick


I would think converting our California State Colleges into trade schools giving what used to be a high school education would be a consummation devoutly to be wished.



Perpetual Motion without energy

I have read the article. It has been corrected to show that the time-crystals are NOT in their ground state, so we do NOT have perpetual motion without energy. Not that such a thing is impossible. The electrons in every atom in the universe are in perpetual motion without energy input. Quantum rules forbid electrons in their ground state orbitals from radiating energy, so they maintain their orbital motions until disturbed by an outside force. Those same quantum rules, however, forbid anything from extracting useful work from an electron in its ground state orbital, so the perpetual motion is of no use.
It would have been interesting if a larger system could be shown to have periodic quantum oscillations in its ground state. We could not extract useful work from it; perhaps we would not even be able to observe it happening, but it would extend our understanding of quantum physics.

Kevin L Keegan

A driven oscillator, explicitly stated to be such. Why is the concept of a ground state at equilibrium even relevant to this discussion?

The only thing unique about this experiment is that it involves individual atoms, not macroscopic entities in vibration.

Quote is from the paper at:

Jim Woosley

I will leave this to those who know far more about it than I, but it looks pretty certain that this will not give us free energy. There still ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.


The Rise of the Machines Goes On Apace


Just in case you have not seen it, here is a Wall Street Journal article about the latest robotic barista:



And the beat goes on…


Vetted “refugees” who turned to Jihad

20 “vetted” Muslim refugees who turned to jihad terrorism after being allowed into the U.S.

Senator Jeff Sessions generated the list in response to Obama’s increased Syrian “refugee” immigration. At least one was a former interpreter.

A temporary immigration suspension is necessary while we figure out how to tell if these are really refugees and not Jihadis Saudi Arabia is forcing

on the rest of the world by refusing to accept them within its borders.


Of course Major Nidal Malik Hassan was born in America to West Bank immigrants.


The USAFA doesn’t train warriors anymore

Just Lovely…I can only assume that the other military academies are the same as the AFA now…how disappointing

—– Forwarded Message —–

The United States Air Force Academy Doesn’t Train Warriors Anymore

Jan 17, 2017, 6:00 AM in

Military and Police

By L. Todd Wood:

If the academies do not train loyal warriors, we are indeed lost. Wealthy republics that relied on hirelings for their defense have historically had short lives.


Where regulations come from

Many years ago, my daughters attended a local Montessori school. It was during a presidential campaign season, and the school invited a republican and democratic parent to come talk to the kids. A little while later, the school figured out that they hadn’t covered all their bases, and invited the local head of the Green Party (a parent of one of the children) and myself (a token Libertarian).
My daughters said that I did a good job of explaining what’s wrong with excess government (regulation) with the following set of questions.
First, do you want to make some money babysitting when you’re a little older? (They did.) Would it be a good idea if you knew First Aid as a baby sitter? (Yes) Would it be a good idea to be able to get the kid out of the pool if they were drowning? (Yes) Would it be a good idea if you could cook a healthy meal for the kid? (Yes) I came up with a whole bunch of good ideas for the baby sitter to do.
Then I asked if the government should mandate that you needed all that knowledge before you could babysit. The kids started asking how long and how much money it would take to get all this knowledge. Once I told them, they said “but we’ll never be able to baby sit.”
I said THAT’S the problem with excess regulation. Each regulation is proposed for the best of reasons, to make the world a better place. But if you keep piling more regulations up, then you won’t be able to do anything, much less make the world a better place. You need to ask if this additional regulation will actually improve anything, or will the cost outweigh the benefits.
(I also said that IF they thought they could learn something that would make them a better baby sitter, learn it and tell the parents you know it. Let the parents decide if they want to hire you or the kid down the street who still picks their nose.)
Regulations (in an ideal world) come from efforts to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, they’re not examined to see how much damage they would do, and once put into service, they’re not reviewed for effectiveness.


Mr. Trump hopes to reverse the process.

Regulations must be paid for; seldom do the people who feel good about imposing regulations to make the world a better place actually pay for them; the usual practice is to leave the United States more in debt with each regulation, which is to say, to make our children pay for our good feelings. Eventually the debt comes due, but we are generally gone. You can have your cake and eat it too if you make your children bake it.


voting irregularities

Hello Jerry,
I am pleased beyond measure to read of the continued recoveries of Mrs. Pournelle and yourself.
Here in Michigan, before the courts stopped the recount, many ‘interesting’ things were discovered, including one Detroit precinct where the machines recorded 307 votes when only 52 ballots had actually been cast.
The State is graciously proclaiming Operator Error with regards to the optical ballot scanning machine.
I myself am reminded of the old adage: “Once is a coincidence, twice is incompetence, three times is enemy action.” What then is 255 times?
And this is just one single precinct in a once large city which remains a democratic stronghold. It doesn’t take much imagination at all to apply similar numbers to the large cities across the nation and watch Hillary’s alleged popular vote victory disappear.
Link to the story here:
As always, thank you for all you do.
Dave Porter

If there are really large instances of illegal voting, they will likely be found in California, particularly absentee ballots. No one watched very closely because it was a sure thing that Hillary would win California.


health versus defense versus debt

Not being an US citizen but a very interested spectator as to the antics of the US government, it is the one country in the whole planet which can definitely impact us all by a change of policy, I have to wonder about the merits of the debate. Should there be one? Universal health care is a desirable goal, and one that can be achieved within limits, there are quite a few countries that have systems that work. Yes I know they have their problems (delays, long waiting times and so on) but in the overall view they do work. Those populations tend to be healthy.
On the other hand defense should be more than having the latest and the greatest toys, and I do love those toys. But defense is a national undertaking in the most pure sense of them all. It is one of the main reasons nations exist. So if you believe in the need for national defense you should also accept the draft as inevitable.
It has the added value of making politicians wary of risking their constituencies (or their constituencies votes which is more important to them) in a needless war. Furthermore it drives home the real cost of war which is not kept to the suffering of a few professionals. It is all too easy to order people into harm’s way when they are professionals, which we should always have, but things and perceptions change when it’s your own who are going in.
I dare anyone who’s had a son or daughter taking part in operations in a war zone to say there’s no strain associated with that fact. Heinlein used to say something like this “Romans matrons would say to their sons come with your shield or on it, later the custom declined, so did Rome” I’m not quoting exactly but the sentiment was that you are responsible for your own freedoms.
And so we come to the crux of the matter, can you have both a good defense and universal health, yes you could, but in order to achieve that you need to set some kind of a limit, both the the expense account that is implied in buying every gizmo under the sun so health providers can get fat and happy and the same for defense contractors. It is easy to say extremely hard to implement.
And conscription (or selective service if you will) is the only way to ensure that wars undertaken are those wars to the knife, where you go in to win, not to achieve a draw. Because that’s the only way you can sustain a republic, with it’s own citizen’s blood. And the butcher bill should be paid by politicians not by citizens.

Ariel Fabius

It is not universally agreed that universal health care is so easily attained or that it works so well; Canada’s is tempered by the proximity of US clinics which can relieve much of the waiting times, as an obvious example. But this is hardly the place to debate that.

Republics that defend themselves with paid soldiers – mercenaries – have always encountered the problem that, having given the military power to the mercenaries, they are now at their mercy. As Machiavelli said, they can ruin you by losing battles, or by robbing the paymaster. He advocated that the citizens learn to defend themselves.

That may well require conscription, although Mr. Heinlein was fond of insisting that republics that needed conscription weren’t worth defending.

The quote is from Plutarch: Spartan mothers sent their children to war, presenting their sons with the shield and admonishing them to return “With this, or on it.”

We have tended to finance our welfare state by building a ten trillion dollar debt, which will be paid – we hope – by our children or more likely our grandchildren. Of course robots may so raise productivity that the debt will be meaningless; after all, liberal economists say, “we owe it to ourselves.” We even teach that in schools, if the schools mention the debt at all. And we had better hope for artificial intelligence, because our schools seem determined to avoid teaching anything that someone would actually pay money to have you do. Maybe robots will bail us out.


federal regulations vs. congressional law


One of my unforgettable civil service moments at NASA was in this area.

I wanted to do something that seemed on the face of it against the rules and no one had a definitive answer. So they sent me to the NASA regs. I got my answer but I learned much more. Every time congress passes a bill, every department in the administrative branch looks over the bill to see how it effects their regulations. Each department has their own organization to do this. A one paragraph bill can easily result in 1000’s of lines federal regulations when you combine all branches.

Sometimes 10’s of thousands of lines.

When an abomination like obamacare is passed, at 3000 pages, the repercussions to the federal regulations is mind boggling.


That’s all right, your children will pay for it for you.


Order –

Hi Jerry,

I’m not in favor of Trumps order on ‘vetting’, because it’s simply ineffectual. There is no possible way we can keep bad guys out of the country, short of militarizing both the Canadian and Mexican borders and both coasts. Even with the full military on duty, we could only secure a portion of it. That’s why the wall is absurd (stopping illegal immigration is simple – deny welfare benefits, and fine the heck out of employers – no money, no reason to come). Much like gun control, this is security theater at it’s worst – it may make people feel good, but has little real impact.

So I ask myself, why do it? Why hand red meat to the liberal press?

Maybe to keep them off the scent of the real stories? Like the pass one/repeal two, zero cost on regulations (great), or the politicizing of the NSC (really really bad).

What’s clear to me from the past week is that I’m not a Trump supporter, nor am I a populist. I support some of his policies, but others are just baffling. I do wish he’d grow thicker skin, and end the tweets – he can be a change agent, without destroying the decorum of the presidency. More importantly though, him triggering a trade, or other, war out of ham-fisted off the cuff comments, or an exec order from some nut on his staff is a non-zero possibility.

Tough choice – Hillary would have done no good things, and some bad ones. Trump seems to be a man of extremes – very good, and very bad. Hang on, lower the safety bar, and keep your hands and feet in the car at all times!



I continue to believe Mr. Trump is crazy like a fox. We’ll just have to see.



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.



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