Consider This! Archives

What Works and What Doesn’t: Health Care

(This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!". You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

Liberal columnist Ezra Klein, writing in the Washington Post, June of 2009:

If you ordered America’s different health systems worst-functioning to best, it would look like this: individual insurance market, employer-based insurance market, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration.

Yeah, he really said that, and it was obviously untrue back then. But that didn’t stop his love of socialized medicine. Here he is again in 2011:

The thing about the Veteran’s Administration’s health-care system? It’s socialized. Not single payer. Not heavily centralized. Socialized. As in, it employs the doctors and nurses. Owns the hospitals. And though I think there’s some good reason to believe its spending growth is somewhat understated — it benefits heavily from medical trainees, for instance — accounting for that difference still means a remarkable recent performance.

He also called the VA system, “the program is one of the most remarkable success stories in American public policy.” Of course now everyone’s saying that the system has been awful for decades, so you can’t blame Obama for it. While that’s certainly true, you can blame liberal pundits who have been trying to suggest for years that the performance of the VA means that ObamaCare ought to work. It seems like they’ll say anything to get their policies enacted. Never mind reality.

And they’re making the same claim as a certain presidential candidate did 6 years or so ago. So in a sense, you can blame the President for foisting on us a system based on one that was, and is, a money pit and an abject failure, and which is utterly dishonest about those failures. They can, or should, be able to see what works and what doesn’t, but I guess Obama is going with the idea that this time, it’s gonna’ work.

    (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, “Consider This!”. You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

    Sometimes people ask what the real difference is between the Republicans and Democrats, and sometimes, for certain issues, I’m inclined to agree; not much. However, when it comes to promoting economic growth, there’s certainly a trend that favors one over the other.

    It’s been said that the states are the laboratories of American democracy. Though more and more autonomy has been taken from them by the federal government, there is still enough that one can look across the country from sea to shining sea and see what works and what doesn’t. So what has the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis told us about the year 2013?

    Here were the top 10 states in GDP growth:

    • North Dakota — 9.7 percent
    • Wyoming — 7.6 percent
    • West Virginia — 5.1 percent
    • Oklahoma — 4.2 percent
    • Idaho — 4.1 percent
    • Colorado — 3.8 percent
    • Utah — 3.8 percent
    • Texas — 3.7 percent
    • South Dakota — 3.1 percent
    • Nebraska — 3.0 percent

    This was all while the nation’s GDP growth was just 1.8 percent. Tom Blumer writing at the NewsBusters website noted that only Colorado and West Virginia could be considered something other than deep-red states — and despite having several prominent Democrats in statewide and national office, they both arguably lean red.

    And let’s not forget, as I covered back in February, that Wisconsin, under Republican Governor Scott Walker, went from running a deficit to a $1 billion surplus by cutting taxes.

    In all of this, you’d think that someone would have predicted such an economic outcome from these policies. Oh wait, they did, and those people are called “conservatives”. So if you indeed see what works and what doesn’t, and still ignore it, you might be a Democrat.

      The Real Issue With the VA

      (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!". You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

      Presidential candidate Barack Obama, back in 2007, gave a speech titled “A Sacred Trust”. It was a speech about the military; his plans for it, and for the veterans who came home from it. Here is one thing he said in it, “No veteran should have to fill out a 23-page claim to get care, or wait months – even years – to get an appointment at the VA.”

      How was he going to fulfill that goal? Here was his promise, “It’s time for comprehensive reform. When I am President, building a 21st century VA to serve our veterans will be an equal priority to building a 21st century military to fight our wars. My Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs will be just as important as my Secretary of Defense.” He followed that with specific changes he was going to make. But, whether he made those changes or not, whether or not vets are means-tested for care, whether or not VA budgets were passed on time every year, the result is still the same; long waits, and deaths due to them.

      Obama knew of the problems in the VA before he became President. At least 5 years ago, he was warned about the specific wait time issue. What has changed? Nothing. And now he claiming he was shocked to hear about it; not from his advisors, but from the media. Let’s not forget that he was shocked about the IRS targeting conservatives, up until the point where he claimed that there was “not a smidgen of corruption”. I guess his views on that “evolved”.

      There is another line from that speech that I think bears considering. His plans for the VA were a blueprint for something else. “The VA will also be at the cutting edge of my plan for universal health care, with better preventive care, more research and specialty treatment, and more Vet Centers, particularly in rural areas.” That’s right. ObamaCare was the next step, and what’s happening now with the VA is the future of what’s going to be happening with you. Centralized health care, or passing laws to create facilities and doctors out of thin air, doesn’t work.

      And honestly, this has been the issue for decades. It didn’t start when Obama was elected. Presidents from both parties have presided over this long-running debacle, some say as far back as the Kennedy administration, because the fundamental problems are always there. On MSNBC, one of their military analysts, Army Col. Jack Jacobs, spoke on The Reid Report about how Veterans Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki was a good guy and was doing a good job, but in the end, the VA’s system of health care itself cannot give us what we need from it, regardless of how much money you throw at it.

      Yeah, that really aired on MSNBC. But if the VA is the blueprint for ObamaCare, then the question is this: If we can’t take care of those we are the most indebted to, how is it going to work for all of us? Centralization like this – one of the pillars of the liberal view of government – is a failure. It has been shown not to work, specifically with regards to health care, and yet we just keep doing it bigger and costlier. Vets are dying in service to this social and political experiment. That’s certainly not the war they signed up for.

      And in the meantime, Army Private and convicted felon Bradley Manning has been on the fast-track to get his sex change. Got to have your priorities.

      The White House vowed to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by year’s end. That’s if they agree to leave. Comedian Argus Hamilton says, if given the choice between surviving Taliban attacks in the Afghan mountains and surviving VA care when they get home, they like their chances in the mountains.

        The "Tolerance Police" Claim Their Next Victim

        I mentioned the case of Brendan Eich a little while ago. He’s the genius that basically invented JavaScript, which web programmers are very familiar with and have been using since 1995. He co-founded Mozilla, the company that produces, among other things, the Firefox web browser. He was going to be the company’s CEO recently, until someone noticed he gave $1,000 to the Proposition 8 effort in California to keep marriage to mean one-man-one-woman. He was run out of the company for what I called a Thought Crime. He was eminently qualified to be the CEO of the company, but because he had the politically incorrect idea that marriage should mean what it’s meant for millennia, he was pressured to resign. There were no allegations that he had ever treated someone badly because of their sexual orientation, but he had, according to some, the wrong idea about marriage, and therefore he was unfit to be CEO of the technology company he helped create.

        That’s what I want to stress here. In every other way, he was qualified for the job, but he had opinions that some disagreed with, and they created an atmosphere where Eich could not function in that job. That, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely what the word “intolerance” means. The irony is that those who created that atmosphere would very likely consider themselves the tolerant ones. The sad part is, they are unable to see intolerance in themselves because of the way they have redefined the word “intolerance” to mean “disagreeing with me”.

        That was exhibit A. Exhibit B showed up a couple weeks ago when twin brothers Jason and David Benham were green-lit to host a new show on Home and Garden TV – HGTV – about fixing up dilapidated houses for families in need. Who in the world could be against that?

        Well, in a radio interview, David Benham said this, and made some people mad.

        Read the rest of this entry

          The (Cultural) Freedom of Speech

          (This is part of the script of the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!")

          What is it that they say about conservatives? They’re haters, they’re whatever-phobes, they’re intolerant of people who are different than they are. Then what to make of this story.

          Over 5 years ago, some guy – we’ll call him Bubba – gave $1000 to a political cause. He gave his personal money, not on behalf of anyone else. A bit of free political speech in action.

          Fast forward to today, and Bubba was the target of a campaign to push him out of his job because someone found out about this contribution. Bubba gave in to the pressure, and resigned.

          If Bubba had given money to the Sierra Club to save the whales, or to Planned Parenthood to provide free abortions, and this had happened to him, the Left in this country would be outraged. But because Bubba, whose real name is Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla, gave to California’s Proposition 8, the effort to keep marriage between one man and one woman, the otherwise First-Amendment-loving Left are mum, as well as being the ones who did the pushing.

          I have said it a number of times before, and I need to say it again. The Progressive element in this country is all about Constitutional rights, right up to the point when those rights are used against their pet political causes. Then the hate, intolerance, and phobias that they accuse others of come quickly to the surface. A clearer case of projection – accusing others of what you yourself harbor – is not easily found.

          And consider this. At the time of his donation, Brendan felt the same way about the issue as President Obama, Vice President Biden, and, as it turned out, 60% of California voters. Five short years later, he’s being punished for it by the real Thought Police. There are no allegations that he mistreated, maligned, or otherwise caused harm to any homosexuals in his company. One’s views on this topic have no connection whatsoever with the business of Mozilla; most notably the Firefox web browser. This is completely, 100% a “thought crime”.

          It’s the progressive Left that likes to proclaim that it is more tolerant, that is more free-thinking, right up to the point where you disagree with them. Beyond that point, they want to dictate what you can and can’t think, culturally if not legally, and sometimes even legally; just ask Hobby Lobby, or proprietors that don’t wish to participate in same-sex weddings. No, you must toe the line of the tolerant, free-thinkers. Is anyone noticing the irony here, where “mutual respect” only works one way?

          “If you like your beliefs, you can keep your beliefs. To yourself. If you don’t, you can’t keep your job.”

            What the Detroit Bankruptcy Has To Say To Us

            [This is the script from the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!"]

            Detroit, Michigan, formerly the auto-making capital of the US, if not the world, filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on July 18th, becoming the current capital of big cities going under in the US. What brought Detroit under water is not really debatable; declining income and spending beyond its means. What is being debated are the causes of the two.

            On the spending side, I think it’s no coincidence that the city has had essentially one party rule for the past 51 years. No surprise that the party in question is the Democratic Party. Detroit’s current budget deficit is believed to be more than $380 million, and its long-term debt could be as much as $20 billion. Rather than cutting spending, Detroit ignored the common sense lesson of living within your means, embrace the Paul Krugman idea that austerity kills, and died anyway, spending like there was no tomorrow. Well, there is a tomorrow, and it’s here.

            When tax and spend had to be curtailed, because of a shrinking tax base, then borrow and spend kicked in. I suppose someone like Krugman would say they didn’t borrow enough. When that wasn’t enough, President Obama said that Detroit wouldn’t go bankrupt on his watch, and he tossed boatloads of money at the union-controlled, Democrat-voting auto industry, and pronounced it, merely on the reasoning that he had written a check, that Detroit was coming back. Yeah, no so much.

            Now, even the Obama administration won’t touch them. They’ve stood up for their big spending principles, in DC and in Detroit, and reality has hit them upside the head with the mother of all clue-bats, as in “get a clue”. It doesn’t matter what your intentions are. Consistently spending more – far more – than you have will one day come home to roost. And everyone – both those from whom the money was taken, and to whom the money was given – will suffer. And it will affect the poor disproportionately because the rich have the means to escape.

            And they did escape, which brings us to the income side of the equation. The riots of 1967 chased citizens and businesses alike out of the city, which only accelerated and existing trend, such that in the past 60 years, it lost 60% of its residents. But the riots weren’t the only reason. With corruption, over-promising and the requisite overspending, those that could read the handwriting on the wall did what they had to do. If you can’t change the government, change your location, and they did.

            And if you’re inclined to lay the blame at the feet of greedy corporations that outsource jobs, Walter Russell Mead has some information that tends to suggest a group as, or more, culpable. The city’s $11 billion in unsecured debt includes $6 billion in health and other retirement benefits and $3 billion in retiree pensions for its 20,000 city pensioners. That’s “billion”, with a “B”. But now, these folks, whose union representatives negotiated this package, and now very likely going to get less than 10 percent of that. Like I said, everyone gets hurt, ultimately, with these kinds of policies. Those who got their benefits and hit the road are not unlike the folks who start a pyramid scheme. They cash in early and often, while those who get in later either get very little return, or lose out. The pyramid in Detroit has played itself out.

            Walter Russell Mead, again, has a relevant warning for those in other cities who still think such policies are a good idea, because of their good intentions.

            Progressive politicians, wonks, and activists can only blame big corporations and other liberal bogeymen for so long. The truth is that corrupt machine politics in a one-party system devoted to the blue social model wrecked an entire city and thousands of lives beyond repair. The sooner blues come to terms with this reality, the greater chance other cities will have of avoiding Detroit’s fate.

            I would add that the sooner DC comes to terms with this, the better, for the same reason. And, working our way back in the political process, the sooner the voters of this nation come to terms with this, the better off we will all be. It may not sound, to the untrained ear, to be very caring, or fair, or socially just. But Detroit has a 47% illiteracy rate. 60% of its children are living in poverty. Its crime rate is 5 times the national average. The murder rate is 11 times higher than New York City. Is it caring, or fair, or socially just, to pursue policies that led to that?

            If you continue to vote for those policies, then what visited Detroit will be visiting you soon enough. It may already be in the process of happening. Detroit just got there first. Who’s next?

              The "Consider This!" Podcast, Episode 28

              Maybe this is why I’ve not been blogging much. Well, it’s certainly a contributing factor.

              The latest episode covers the fight of North Carolina pro-choicers against a license plate that advocates a choice, and a rundown of how well the Washington, DC gun ban reduced homicides (hint: it didn’t).

              Click here for the show notes, links to articles mentioned, and ways to get your voice heard on the podcast. You can also listen to the show right on the page, or subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher or the Blubrry network.

                Back with more topics than I’ve ever squeezed into 10 minutes or less, “Consider This!” is back with a new episode.

                A friend of mine posted a graphic of Sen. Bernie Sanders with a  quote from him extolling the results of Social Security, with the tag, “Social Security has done exactly what it was designed to do.” Well sure, in the short term, big government social programs always look good. Think of how Social Security looked in the first 5 or 10 years. People who had paid little or nothing into it got monthly checks from the government. Wonderful.

                John Hawkins at the blog Right Wing News polled conservative bloggers on who the GOP should choose at their 2016 nominee. The short answer? Marco Rubio was the clear winner. He was followed by Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Paul Ryan. The two who topped the list of those they least wanted to see on the ticket were Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Then John asked, want to see something scary?

                The government recently modified its determination of which states have the worst poverty rates. The new measure incorporates a controversial calculation of relative equality that demotes states that have wide gaps between wealthy people and people with less than one-third of state residents’ average income. This income gap is something that liberals have spoken out against, and believe they have an answer to. But with this new measure included, it’s interesting to see what state dropped to the rock bottom of the survey; California.

                A government report released Monday warned that a sudden increase in taxes would result in lower consumer spending next year, and some analysts wondered if the concerns about what could happen might crimp spending throughout the rest of the holiday season. Um, yeah. The Obama administration is just now figuring out what conservatives have been saying, well, pretty much for a generation. In other news, the sky is indeed blue, and math still works.

                Click here for show notes, feedback options, ways to subscribe to the podcast, or just listen to it on the web page itself.

                  "Consider This!", Episode 10 Milestone

                  A couple months ago I started a new project; a political and cultural opinion podcast where I say what I’m going to say in 10 minutes or less. It doesn’t require as much a time commitment from you to listen in, and I want to hear back and make it more of a conversation than a monologue.

                  Today I hit a milestone; the 10th episode. There’s something of a psychological part of this as well. Folks who keep track of such things say that if you get (on average) past episode 7, that seems to be a tipping point. Podcasts that get past that generally continue on. So here I am at 10, and hopefully we’ll just roll along, with your input.

                  My topics are usually varied, but this episode focuses on the Paul Ryan VP pick. Let me know what you think of that choice by either commenting on the show notes, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. You can even use that tried and true method; E-mail.

                    "Consider This!" Podcast Episode 4

                    In the latest episode of my new podcast project, I give my first look at what the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare(tm)) means. If you think there are places where government should just butt out of, you are not going to like what this bill let’s the government do.

                    A comment on a Facebook question posted by La Shawn Barber gives us a new perspective on how to deal with illegal immigrants.

                    You know those machines where you take the next number to be waited on? The government has one. It’s costs $19 million. Every year. Really.

                    And you know all those human interest stories that the media keep running to tell us that we really need ObamaCare? Do they compare to the 130,000 elderly patients in Britain that die every year so that costs can be kept down or beds can be freed up? Yup, 130,000. Every year. Really.

                    Click here for show notes, and ways to listen to the podcast; through iTunes, another podcatcher, or right on the web page. It’s politics in 10 minutes or less (8 minutes and 40 seconds, this time).

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