Saturday, April 7, 2012


Obamacare is like something out of the Book of Revelation, one of those beasts with horns protruding at odd angles, feet of clay, hands of brass, and 12 lion's eyes all around a bear's head that slobbers while it growls. A weird, inhuman mishmash, a farrago, a salmagundi, a gallimaufry, both vastly threatening and at the same time oddly pathetic and pitiful. Plus, it has terrible breath.

I am optimistic it will be held unconstitutional.

I saw an interesting short video on Gallup poll findings about the Health Care Act (Obamacare).

72% of Americans think that the individual mandate in the Health Care Act is unconstitutional.  44% think the act, generally, is a "bad thing;" 45% think it is a "good thing."  Almost no one thinks it is a very important problem right now (5% of the population).  72% of Americans think the act will make no difference or make things worse.

Fascinating.  Sounds like the old fogies on the Supreme Court are actually more in tune than the President with the American people.

The Supreme Court heard oral argument last week for 3 days on the "individual mandate," or "must buy" provisions of the law.  The "individual mandate" is the requirement that everyone has to buy a health care insurance policy mandated by the government.

The Solicitor General tried to sell the Supreme Court on the idea that the individual mandate was just a device to require each individual to pay for the health care he will inevitably consume at some point in his life.  This was such a transparent falsehood that even Solicitor General Verilli seemed to have a difficult time with it, coughing, remaining uncomfortably silent, and stumbling frequently when asked to respond to increasingly pointed questions from the Supreme Court.

The reality of Obamacare is that it forces some people to pay way more than they need for insurance in order to give benefits to other people chosen by the government.

The President and HHS get to decide who will be paying the tab, how much, and what kind of stuff they will be paying for.  They also get to choose who gets the pay-out, and how much they get paid.  This is because the President and Congress can do a better job of figuring things out than can a messy old marketplace.  They've already proved it with Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security.

That was facetious.

Having worked with government employees  for two decades, I don't want to give them a monopoly over my health care and health care insurance.  They are not inevitably smarter, more moral, or luckier than me.  This doesn't mean they are worse than me.  I just know they are about the same.  Hence, I would prefer to take care of me, since I am more sensitive to my needs than they are.

Which means that I prefer a market to a government monopoly.  I prefer not being stuck having some shrill liberal bureaucrat telling me what to do as it slips on its latex gloves.

The fiction that Obamacare is just "insurance" is silly.  Insurance is a voluntary scheme.  Obamacare is not.  Insurance works by spreading risk among people willing to pay a relatively small amount of money for risk protection because they think it is a good idea.

To be successful, insurance must be accurate in its assessment of risks and premiums, nimble enough to constantly adjust, and economically sensible enough to convince consumers to buy the product.  Well run insurance schemes tend to make money, badly run ones tend to go under.  Over time this tends to keep pressure on human inefficiency and corruption.  It isn't perfect, but the law of averages is at least working for you.

Not so with Obamacare.  It gets its pool of money by forcing people to pay for it.  If the Obamacare  mandated insurance policy is stupid for you, it doesn't matter.  You pay anyway, either through a premium or by way of penalty.

Obamacare does not have to be accurate about health risks or benefits.  It doesn't have to be nimble about adjusting to changing realities.  It doesn't have to be sensible, or convince people it is sensible.  It just lumbers along compelling people to pay.

This is why any shtick the government uses to get money, except taxation, is fundamentally dishonest.  All payments to government wind up being taxes.  They are spent by politicians as they see fit.  Better to be forthright about it than run a scam that calls a tax "insurance" or a "trust fund" or a "debt."  For instance, government debt is just taxes paid by our children for our expenditures.

Obamacare has few incentives to be economically efficient.  Just like any other government program, it has huge political incentives to increase premiums so it can increase hand outs. This is a big problem for Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, Fannie Mae - you name it.  Over time, government programs tend to become increasingly inefficient and costly.

That's why piling another entitlement program on top of already failing entitlement programs such as SSI and Medicare/Medicaid was such a terrible idea, unless you are convinced that what we really need are much higher taxes in order to equalize incomes.  Heaven on earth will have been reached when we pay all our income to the government, which can then dole it out "fairly," making sure no one "has too much."

Only when we are all equally miserable will we all truly be happy.

And now, some poetry.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

- W.B. Yeats

Friday, April 6, 2012


A beautiful hymn for a very sad day.

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

St. Bernard of Clarivaux, 1153 A.D.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


More good news on the budget.  President Obama has abandoned the idea of a budget, since he cannot even convince Democrats that his budget ideas are worth voting for.

Our government debt situation is at least as problematic as Greece's.  Our present Administration is simply ignoring the issue.  It has no plan at all to stop borrowing.  The Eternal Optimist views all this as a good thing.  President Obama and his comrades are being true to their principles. The sooner the dollar craters out the sooner the average citizen will begin to understand that magical thinking really doesn't work out, and that we cannot keep electing Congressmen and Presidents who insist that borrowing 40% of our budget is a good thing, and what we need is higher taxes, more revenues and more government spending.

This is not sustainable.

It doesn't really matter if President Obama delivers nasty and untrue criticisms of Congressman Ryan's budget proposals, while not proposing any budget himself, because at some point all this is a self-correcting problem. That's the funny thing about money - at some point reality sets in, no matter how good your political skills.  Economics and gravity share that quality.

Right now the question seems to be not whether the U.S. will drive off the insolvency cliff, but when, and who it will drag down with it when it goes.

We really do need a catastrophe to bring us around.  I am optimistic that a "sooner" catastrophe, rather than a "later" catastrophe, would be in our national interest.  And I am optimistic that we will have a government cash flow "bubble" bursting in the relatively near future.  At that point we will not be able to absorb the bubble and pass it on to another part of the economy, as we've been doing for two decades.  There is no American government out there to bail out the American government, when it pancakes.

Just us little people, who have to live within a budget or go bankrupt.  The cool thing is listening to economists and politicians tell us that living within our means is passe and stupid, and that the U.S. government can keep borrowing to fund current obligations indefinitely, without penalty.  Because the government is "different."  It's like listening to realtors tell me that real estate was on a permanent "high" and would never go down, because things were "different" now.  That was just before real estate crashed.