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Giving Trump’s First Week a Thumbs-Up…ish.

I have reason to be happy with the events of the Trump’s first week. Those reasons are important and I will get to those shortly. But I am by no means euphoric. I can say that I am encouraged by the Left’s sudden love of the Constitution. It has not been in evidence for thirty years.

The only person I busted on as much as I did Hillary Clinton, during the previous year’s insanity, was Donald Trump. Both failed to win my vote. Hillary Clinton proved, during the previous 35 years to be a woman devoid of ethics and substance. Trump has always been a face man, a clown and an excellent real estate promoter.

What he has yet to prove what kind of a president he’ll be, his prolific use of executive orders not withstanding. And it is with these orders I will start.

One of the main reasons I am not entirely unhappy with his use of the Imperial Pen, is that much of what he is doing with that pen is disposing of the truly imperial pronouncements of Barack Obama.

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The Executive Orders

These are pulled directly from a published list at FOX News.

  1. An executive order imposing a 120-day suspension of the refugee program and a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. from citizens of seven terror hot spots: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.
    • This one has drawn a great deal of rhetorical fire from many directions. Companies, to curry favor with the emotionalist class have come out against this order. Google, Nike, and others have built impromptu marketing campaigns with their stance. John McCain and Lindsay Graham have stated that this order will help terrorists recruit people. (Oh, so the bombing and killing they have carped for over many years won’t. But a temporary hold on admission to this country will be a devastating blow to our security!)
    • One of the complaints you hear about this is that Trump doesn’t have the authority to do it. Well the U.S. Constitution and this law say otherwise. Any objections based on presidential authority in this are simply wrong. 8 US Code 1182 outlines the people and groups that cannot be permitted into the country. The administration has EVERY RIGHT to require immigrants and YES refugees to prove they are not a threat under this law. The problem is for years we haven’t even been asking.
    • For those who can’t read English:  This is not a Muslim ban.   This is a suspension of immigration based on geography and lack of verifiable ID.  If you say it is a Muslim ban, you are intellectually dishonest or intellectually disabled.
    • Score one for Trump.
  2. Multi-pronged orders on border security and immigration enforcement including: the authorization of a U.S.-Mexico border wall; the stripping of federal grant money to sanctuary cities; hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents; ending “catch-and-release” policies for illegal immigrants; and reinstating local and state immigration enforcement partnerships.
    • With the exception of the actually building the wall, all these orders are absolutely within the president’s purview to control as the chief executive. These are already law. He is just insisting the law, as it pertains to these areas, is enforced.
    • But the wall will never be built. Not only does Trump NOT have the authority to spend the billions needed to build it, but the processes by which it would be built are a matter of law. And many of those laws stand athwart such an undertaking. The environmental studies and protests alone will run the clock out before the next president could get it done.
    • Call this one a tie for pro and con. He can do all but the wall.
  3. Two orders reviving the Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Access piplines. He also signed three other related orders that would: expedite the environmental permitting process for infrastructure projects related to the pipelines; direct the Commerce Department to streamline the manufacturing permitting process; and give the Commerce Department 180 days to maximize the use of U.S. steel in the pipeline.
    • Naturally, the usual suspects will line up to decry everything about this. We’ll be told that the planet will be destroyed by it. And again we’ll hear how the president lacks the authority to do it. [insert loud game show loser buzzer hear]
    • Fact: The previous administration was required by law to allow both these projects to go forward. But hey found a loophole. The State Department, because Keystone was a joint venture between the US and Canada, had to sign off on the project. And they did – twice. But using his usual perversion of “executive authority”, Obama kept sending it back to Foggy Bottom with implicit orders to do it again, and this time be slower about it. Finally, after it was cleared yet again, Obama still defied the will of the people and stopped it anyway. By reviving the projects, Trump is simply bringing policy into line with the law.
    • As for the environment; I am sure there are morons out there that actually believe the use of a pipeline to move oil is bad. Others who claim so know they are talking through their hats. We are seeing history repeat itself.
      1. When the steel industry first started using pipelines to move kerosene and oil, the rail industry erupted in protest. It’s unsafe! It’s not fair! Now we’re hearing a lot of the same things today. 
        Rail car, oil
        If you have the choice of a pipeline, this is just plain stupid.

        pipeline
        Section of pipeline, sitting in Alaska, not derailing.
      2. Question: When was the last time you heard of a pipeline derailing and pouring oil, sometimes burning oil all over the landscape? True pipelines leak, but we’ve lost infinitely more oil through train crashes and derailments than we’ll ever lose from pipeline incidents.
      3. Question: While pipelines move oil, how much exhaust does the big diesel engine pulling the pipeline emit into the atmosphere? Oh, wait…that’s right. There is no big diesel engine. The system runs on pumps that move more gallons per minutes, further and on far less energy than a train does. So the movement of oil through a pipe is FAR cleaner than using a train.
    • I think it is safe to say that people who continue to fight this are being obstructionist. Trump is not operating outside his authority.
  1. An order to reinstate the so-called “Mexico City Policy” – a ban on federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize or promote abortion. The policy was instituted in 1984 by President Reagan, but has gone into and out of effect depending on the party in power in the White House.
    • This item has been a political football for a generation. Perhaps it can be used to shame Congress into manning up and dealing with it once and for all. It is Congress who should be addressing the issue.   That four Presidents have batted it back and forth for these past decades is just a pox on both your houses.
    • Someone has still to explain to me, in an honest fashion, why I should foot the bill for an abortion on-demand. A purely elective procedure.
  2. A notice that the U.S. will begin withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Trump called the order “a great thing for the American worker.”
    • If Congress ratifies TPP, this order really isn’t worth the paper it is written on. Although, a determined executive can slow-walk its implementation.
    • In that it is not ratified, Trump can do anything he wishes in his treatment of it.
    • The president says he is a free-trade guy. There is no evidence of this, but since the TPP is not an example of free trade, Trump is well within his rights to ignore it for now.
  3. An order imposing a hiring freeze for some federal government workers as a way to shrink the size of government. This excludes the military, as Trump noted at the signing.
    • Trump can run his organization as he sees fit within the law. There is nothing preventing him from taking this step.
  4. An order that directs federal agencies to ease the “regulatory burdens” of ObamaCare. It orders agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement” of ObamaCare that imposes a “fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.”
    • This one is outside his wheelhouse. There are many, myself included who would love to see the government OUT of the insurance business. But that I want it doesn’t make changing the law by fiat okay. If the law says you have it or pay a penalty, you pay.
    • Of course, much of what the law has become has been the result of the imperial actions by Trump’s inept predecessor. Does that excuse the sweeping nature of Trumps order? No. It should have been focused on those illegal executive orders made by B. Hussein Obama. For example, Obama ordered that the law governing federal money to the states, based on their voluntary participation in the program, be ignored.   That was a huge breach of the legal, executive authority. If Trump had undone things like that, he’d be right on target.
  5. On Monday, 30 Jan, the president ordered that any new regulation must be offset by the elimination of two regulations.
    • We are one of the most over-regulated nations on the planet. That, historically speaking, is a relatively new development. Anything to legally reduce that burden is a good thing. And again, as the chief executive, the president is well within his purview to make pronouncements like this one.

Conclusion

Overall, I’d say Trump had a good first week. Reasonable people can disagree on whether it’s been a typical Trump circus atmosphere. No reasonable person would excuse his continued use of Twitter for shallow argument.

He is starting to show shades of a typical politician in that his tax reform was pushed back to the summer and now until as far as 2018. This is totally unsatisfactory. This will be a true failure on his part and even more so on the part of congressional Republicans. But even this pathetic decision has a silver lining.

You’ve heard me talk a bit about the Convention of States. In my next piece, I’ll show how not messing with taxes right now might payoff in the long run.

So for Trump’s first week, I give the president a 6 for substance and a 10 for showmanship.

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Pipeline Photo Credit: US Department of State Flickr via Compfight cc

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Is it Scary or Exciting?! Dash!

The 100 Centimeter Dash! From the Shelf to the Button.

Have you seen this Dash thing?

I just don’t know what to make of this affiliate link.  Now, truth be told, I am a very low tech guy.  (I’ve been working for weeks to make Street Politics a membership site. ANY of my LEAST techy friends would have had that up and running in December with about 1/2 hour’s worth of work. I needed a 2-hour tutorial video.  Anyway it will be up in March.) 

Still, I knew we’d see things like these buttons some day.  But now it is really here!

And the ramifications are mind-blowing.

I can use this!

Look at the first item in the illustration above.  Iams.  My dog eats the stuff by the metric ton!  I hate humping those big bags from the supermarket.  I could stick a Dash thingy to the wall in my mudroom and *doink* in a day or two, Maggie has a new bag of food.

The button runs on batteries.  But no biggee.  Three years from now, when the watch battery in it runs down, I go into my junk drawer and push the button that says batteries and that’s fixed.  Damn!

I have been planning a post on the “internet of everything” for a while.  This is just a minuscule portion of the radical shifts we are going to see very soon.  We are, in many ways, moving beyond some of the freakiest stuff ever imagined in Sci-fi movies. 

If you are under 25 I feel a bit sorry for you.  To you, these kinds of developments probably run between “cool” and “meh”.  But if you lived in a time when a four-pack assortment of Styrofoam gliders was an impressive toy, and Atari was mind-blowing, today’s technology can be overwhelming.  And I worked on missile systems in the early 90’s!!!!! 

In fact, my MK-26 launcher (the coolest weapons system ever built), with it’s two racks of circuit cards had more computing power than the Apollo 11 Command Module.  My cell phone has more power than those two systems – COMBINED!  And now we have these buttons.  Geeks and young people have no idea how much this freaks me out.

So okay, call me a Luddite.  I’ll own it.  And it’s not a bad thing.  But our lives are changing at such an amazing rate.

A Slightly Bigger Picture

I recently read a Motley Fool sales letter talking about the “internet of everything”.  We are a hair’s breadth away from a time when our cell phones, with near-zero preparation on our parts, will tell us that our car is being stolen and will be sending the thief’s face recognition data to the police station before we can dial 911.

All the chatter, these days, is about bringing back manufacturing jobs to the U.S.  That’ll be great.  But the possibilities coming with this technology, will make the manufacturing jobs little more than icing on the cake.

If you doubt that, look at Wawa stores.  They added automated ordering to their deli.  That didn’t result in fewer people working in the stores.  More had to be hired to keep up with the demand.  That is what happens when you have high quality service and cutting-edge innovation.  

I’m going to get a couple of these buttons.  One for the Pop Tarts my doc says I’m not allowed to eat, and one for Maggie’s 2-ton bag o’food.  Let the FedEx guy test his Workman’s Comp benefits.

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Obamacare: Repeal The Phony Healthcare System

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See part one here.

Why Not Go All The Way?

In 2009, while medical costs were up and a recession was getting underway, the government saw another opportunity to do something they’d been dying to do since Truman; a complete takeover of the medical insurance industry.

Here’s how the plan came together.

First, they never refer to the insurance takeover as a takeover or insurance. Call the takeover scheme “health care reform”.

Next, design a system that will fail rather quickly.

Wildly exaggerate results.

  • For example, we are repeatedly being told that there are now 20 million people who didn’t have insurance before that are now “insured.”  That’s not even a half truth.  First of all, millions lost jobs.  In doing so they lost their insurance.  thousands of companies either cut back hours, reducing workers to part-time because they could no longer offer insurance to employees, while other simply abandoned plans to expand for the same reason.
  • Tens of millions of working age people gave up and left he workforce.  Many of them now qualify for Medicaid.  And that is where they and many others already below a certain level ended up.  So many millions of the so-called insured are actually just Medicaid recipients.  That IS NOT a net plus by any measure.
  • So, truth be told,  far less than 20 million are on any kind of new insurance, and most who are, are heavily subsidized by others.  The others are the people who must not only buy insurance at wildly inflated rates for themselves, based on their own risk viability, they must also pay considerably more to take care of the so called 20 million  “newly insured,”
    • Update/NOTE:  As it turns out, my numbers are rather charitable and based on TV propaganda. As of 7 Jan 17, there are actually 11 million people (about .3% of the population) signed up for one of the “exchanges” under healthcare.gov.  So, if there are 20 million people now covered under Obamacare, and I doubt there are, that means about 9 million were added to the Medicaid roles.  That, my friends is a portrait of a miserably failed system.  Source: Washington Post, quoting HHS figures.  You have to love WAPO.  The article starts out saying how wonderful Obamacare is.  They throw percentages around in a way that would impress the credulous.  All that is to cushion the upcoming truth.  Or they are hoping you’ll quit reading before you get to the bad stuff.  But their own numbers reveal very few people are actually buying into the system. If there were no underlying fear of reprisal, fewer still would be buying.

Continuing With the Obamacare Plan

Uh…oops!

When the whole “market exchange” idea fails, and it will, the left can say, “Look at all the good things we’ve done. But all the greedy hospitals and insurance executives and doctors still ruined it! We need universal government ‘health care’!”

That is precisely what was perpetrated under Obamacare.  Single payer government health care was the outcome intended by the designers of Obamacare.

One of the crises the Obamacare is now touting as a reason to rush ahead with the insurance scam is the 2009 recession. People were loosing their health insurance because they were losing their jobs. (An excellent reason to have never linked the two.) Ironically (?) the very same recession has been needlessly dragged out to the present day by things like Obamacare.

But, oh dear, what to do?

And now the Republicans are talking of “replacing” Obamacare with something they say will work better. They say their program will be better and will still include mandatory insurance for pre-existing conditions. But that too must fail. Or at least fail to stop the insane upward cost spiral we see today caused by Obamacare.

If you enact laws that says this is how you will insure people, you are already screwing the pooch. Insurance people, who are taking all the risk, know how to do that better than ANY government social engineer. And when you introduce your clever new insurance laws and don’t separate out pre-existing conditions and 26 year-olds on their parents plans (WTF?), you are simply creating Obamacare-lite. In other words, you haven’t fixed the problem. You’ve only delayed the collapse for a bit.

Here is the alternative that will work. You:

  • Set a timetable for ending all the government mandates on medical insurance for all those above the poverty line and not on Medicare or insurance through the military.
  • Repeal laws that prevent competition in the industry.
  • End all subsidies and tax breaks for employment-related medical insurance. That’s just an extra impediment to the efficient bet between the customer and the insurance company. The money the employer saves in medical set-asides and compliance can be put into the employee’s paycheck. With that kind of money, an individual can create a serious health savings account.
  • End all subsidies for wellness programs. They have been proven not to work. They are used as sops for doctors and others to suck up extra insurance money.
  • Thwart jackpot justice in the form of egregious damage awards. The U.S. courts were not set up to ruin doctors.
  • Along that same line, move first to eliminate those mandates that encourage doctors to practice defensive medicine.  Then eliminate all mandates.  It is not up tot he government to decide how much you pay, and for what coverage.  It is up to yo and the insurance company.
  • Encourage people to seek minor, non-emergency treatment (no longer covered under our adult approach) from facilities that post their rates. Educate them to shop their medical dollar. You’ll be AMAZED at how inexpensive routine treatment will become.

This list is not exhaustive by any means. But by doing these things we take the billions of dollars sloshing around a bloated and mismanaged system and let it move much more effectively between patient, insurer and doctor. By extracting the government money from the system, the incentive to bilk the system as government systems always are bilked, is eliminated.

Don’t dicker.  REPEAL!

In short, the plan should not be repeal and replace.  It should be repeal.  Give the industry a year or two to put real insurance offerings together and on a predetermined date, phase people off the government dole and into private policies designed to take care of CATASTROPHIC medial needs.

Once you’ve done all these things, if you want to still take care of those who are uninsured for reasons other than personal irresponsibility, you can do so at far less cost than under the Obamacare circus tent.  You provide them vouchers for care.

The one role the government has to play in this whole picture is punishing fraud. That is a legitimate role for any government. Fraud by insurers and doctors and fraud by people trying to get on a government program who don’t belong there. And punishments should be brutal. We can be confident that insurance companies in the United States can come up with selections of coverage and prices that work better than anything the federal government and the existing monstrosity, with its 2700 page law and 30,000 pages of regulation, have.

And the costs to the consumer would be dramatically reduced!  They will be lower than they were before Obamacare was ever conceived.
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Pansy Rants vs Real Violence

Are These Pansy Rants Supposed To Be Helpful?

I have a thousand chores to complete here. I have two posts I promised my friend, Kathleen. I am almost ready to launch my membership writers’ program. And the furniture business is not going to stand itself up. BUT…I saw this post on Facebook the other day and I just cannot let it go by without comment. It is too mindless and too indicative of what we have descended to in the course of four weeks – not that we were in such a great place to begin with.

First, let me say that I have no skin in who won the election. I voted for Cruz in the primary and Darrell Castle in the general.

But to listen to the Donald Trump cult, you’d think we just solved all the countries problems with one election. The fact is there is STILL no indication we’ve solved anything. Trump is the same Twitter Twat I said he was a year and a half ago. His idea of free trade is protectionism (for the truly slow, that’s not free trade and is counterproductive).

Also, for Trump to look at an issue and take the opposite view of Obama, simply because it is the opposite of Obama, is not a demonstration of clear thinking. But that is how I would characterize his stands on issues like Russia and Israel. There are very good reasons to disagree with BHO on these issues. I disagree with him. But Trump announces his disagreement without a reasoned argument. That is left to his apologists after he tweets out the cards he’s holding.

And yet…

That said, all the hysterical fear about Trump has, so far, been farcical. There is a reason why you don’t hear about all the incidents of Trump supporters running wild and beating up gays, and minorities and shooting illegal aliens. The reason is that it is not happening. And it won’t happen. At least it won’t if the members of the opposing cult would kindly calm the fuck down!

Look at the meme above. It is the most egregious pile of self-righteous shit I’ve seen in a long time. And that comes after an election year loaded with self-righteous shit. The drama queens who think like this are the main problem we face right now.

Here’s just a short list of why going back to November.

And the problem isn’t going away.  This is what we were treated to this week

Who, I ask you, contributes, at least rhetorically, to the actions of these subhuman, unworthy pieces of crap? And who, among those who would look at the meme above and shed a tear, has come out and condemned the skanks who did it? So far, I haven’t seen the Hollywood pansies who cried all over the airwaves about Trump for the last two months say anything. Your silence is your acquiescence.   For you, it’s kinda okay. I mean the abusers  did hate Trump and all, so there’s that anyway.

The fact is the supposedly “peace-loving, kind-hearted, socially evolved, open-minded” persons who say they hate all the exaggerated characterizations of Trump are the people who will likely be the greatest impediment to our society doing what is has done since 1791. That is to accept the political realities of an election and engage as supporters of the present powers or stand as the loyal opposition.

Instead we get this.

Intellectual Dishonesty

“I am not mad at you that Hillary Clinton lost…,” the post reads. Liar! The author of this thing is the equal opposite of the Trump cult followers. Their cult lost. They are furious!

Here’s how the election shakes out. About 30-35% of the country, very early on, dove in for Trump or Clinton. There was nothing anyone could say to sway them. ANY disagreement toward either was called “hate”. The media fanned these flames every day from June of ’15 until November of ’16.

The remaining 65-70% of the country paid little attention to it all. But, as a result of their obtuseness and apathy, in the end, they were left with a choice between the two worst candidates ever fielded for the Oval Office. As it turned out, just enough people in just enough states decided that Trump was the less disgusting person. They held their noses and voted for him.

The Trump cult crowed and the Clinton cult cried. Trust me when I tell you that the rest of us, no matter who we voted for, just shook our heads and marveled at the display.

It isn’t unusual to see some crowing and crying in the day or two after an election. But this year there is a conscious effort to draw a big fat line between voters who didn’t want a felon in the White House and those who pretended she wasn’t a felon. The flames of resentment are still being fanned two months after the polls closed.

And the rhetoric, like that displayed above has gone completely over the top. “I don’t think less of you because you vote one way and I vote another…” Liar! The very hallmark of the modern, American left (and a quality the Trump cult fails to see in themselves and their candidate) is the fact that if you disagree with me, you are a bad person. You are a hater. Anything that is not of our thinking is to be insulted. The people who disagree are to be hounded. If we’re lucky, we can even ruin their ability to make a living. That is what the far left (and the Trump cult) calls victory.[1.The Trump cult is hailing Megyn Kelly’s exit from FOX as a victory. They think they got her fired. Morons. If they had been paying attention, she’s been fielding offers for a very long time. She’ll leave for an easier time slot, more money and more editorial input.]

One Can Only Shrug and Laugh

As I write this, I am amazed Scientology hasn’t had more success in this country. There are so many credulous idiots, right and left, just waiting to be taken in by feel-good bullshit.

The FB post is actually laughable in it’s portrayal of self as tolerant – “I don’t hate you because…”or “I don’t think less of you because…” It then goes on to accuse anyone who voted for Trump of being the worst form of person conceivable in this country.

So here’s the divide being created by such drivel. On one side your have those who are clearly declaring that they are incapable of moving on – “you and I won’t be ‘coming together’ to move forward or whatever” – because I am a damaged snowflake, unable to climb down from my high unicorn and confront reality like an adult.

On the other side you have the Billy Bobs who think Trump critics are such because they “hate” Trump. These guys, in their ignorance of economics, think Trump will make America great again by taxing companies into doing what he wants and risking trade wars. They think the Donald is conservative. They think tweeting what you think on every issue is a good idea. They also think his tweets make sense. Now, that’s actually funny.

Fortunately, as I said previously, a good 70% of the people, likely more, are not participating in the post election idiocy.  You might not know it looking at social media.  That’s only because the 30% are more vocal and strident on their complaints and criticisms.

But if I ever had to choose between the two camps, I’ll stand with Billy Bob. He may be dumber than a bag of hammers, but at least he’s trying.

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Dumping Obamacare: This is not Rocket Science!

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It’s Also Not Multiple Choice!

There is one and only one condition under which the Republicans can save the medical insurance industry and protect citizens from Obamacare. It is the only way to create an economy of scale that will permit the average American citizen to afford coverage that ONLY A GOOD insurance policy can provide.

The U. S. Government needs to get THE HELL out of the insurance business. Once it has done so, there are as many methods to creating and securing good medical coverage as there are imaginative providers.

We have at least two generations that have grown up dealing with an insurance industry that had been used as a piñata, stuffed with pounds of goodies, created by the nanny state, for the groping, supposedly helpless citizens to gather up. Anyone under the age of 45 has never lived in a country where their healthcare wasn’t a byzantine monstrosity.

To explain my position, a bit of history and definition of terms might be in order.

First, what is health INSURANCE? If you look at the definition Wikipedia suggests, we are told that in the United States, health insurance is any program that helps pay for medical expenses, whether through privately purchased insurance, social insurance or a social welfare program funded by the government. The article goes on to be wrong about in every other conclusion it draws as well.

And therein lies the very crux of the problem we face with Obamacare and it’s repeal. The only thing that falls under the definition of health insurance, in the context of this discussion, is a fiduciary relationship between an individual and a private insurance provider which, based on the premiums charged, provides an agreed set of benefits to the individual. Anything else, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, is not insurance. Those are wealth transfer schemes. Whether you think they are important or not, doesn’t change what they are.

Why? I’m glad you asked.

As I said in Street Politics (On Amazon Kindle) insurance is a bet. Insurance companies, now dependent on the government for their survival, and self-appointed social engineers working for the government, chafe at hearing insurance is a bet. It threatens their ego to think they are bookies in a gambling scheme. And in this case, they are low-life bookies who have been gaming the system since the 60’s.

But the fact remains insurance is absolutely a bet.

You (or your employer – the second problem we’ll address) put your money down every month betting that you are going to be sick or injured. Based on actuarial tables, the insurance company bets you will stay healthy. If you get sick, you win the bet. The insurance pays the doctor, the hospital, or in some cases you, the winnings. The cost of your ante (monthly premium) is based on what the actuarial tables say is the insurance company’s risk vis a vis your age and overall health.

No matter what anyone tells you, true insurance only works, and medical care only remains affordable, when it is a clean, two-party bet and the payoff only applies to a catastrophic situation.

Before WWII health insurance was a means for individuals to hedge against serious illness or injury. But over time, and in narrow-minded reaction to economic pressures, the government perverted the idea. First, with taxes rising during the war and post-war, executives were paying shameful percentages of their income to the government. Smart, high-wage employees started to ask for compensation other than money. Along with snappy benefits like company cars and paid vacations came employee-provided health care.

Well, when the unions got wind of that, driven as they are by class envy, they decided that health insurance should be a part of every workers pay package. Well…, it complicates things, and the risk becomes a bit fuzzy, but okay. Employers rolled with that. But as post-war fears of inflation took hold, the government beat the bushes looking for ways to thwart it. One of the ideas was to set price and coverage controls in health insurance. They also codified tax breaks for people carrying such insurance. And that would be the camel’s nose under the tent.

What’s That Goddamn Camel Doing In Here?!

Fast forward about a decade and a half. With its early interference in the health insurance industry as precedent, the government was primed to interfere more. And the American people gave them the excuse(s).

Anecdote: Poor Mrs. Jones. Her son got a nosebleed on Thursday and it wouldn’t clot. She had to go the emergency room and have it cauterized. It cost $X to have it done. She isn’t rich. She shouldn’t be penalized just because her son got a nosebleed. There oughtta be a law!

 Anecdote: Poor Mr. Smith. All his kids caught really bad colds at the same time this year. One had a fever so high Mr. Smith had to call the doctor. He was charged for a house call and medicine. He has health insurance. Why can’t the bad, rich insurance company help him with that?

 With one non-catastrophic malady after another, voters began to hound their legislators about how their medical insurance didn’t cover nose bleeds, minor stiches, colds, birth control and on and on. With each complaint, politicians found fertile ground on which to plant their incumbency desires. Why dip into your savings to pay for one of the things responsible people save money for? Can’t Mommy Government wipe your noses for you?

“Oh, hell. That was the easy part. I just told them if you like you doctor you can keep your doctor. And they believed it.”

Sadly, not considering the consequences of their actions, the people loved the Mommy State making the big, bad, rich insurance companies pay for every conceivable thing they might suffer. By the 80’s, the mountain of mandates placed on insurance companies had reduced their profits to near zero. Government, by that time already in bed with the big companies, was interfering with interstate trade and telling companies what states they could and could not operate in. This went along with reams and reams of needless compliance.

The insurance companies, under no obligation to commit suicide, passed the costs the government had placed on them along to the customer. Insurance was getting very expensive. With each turn of the government screw, hospitals were seeing more and more guaranteed revenue streams. They had no reason to compete with each other for nosebleeds and coughs. They ran their charges right up to what the law allows, whether they needed to or not.

Photo Credit: Palazzochigi Flickr via Compfight cc

In the next segment, BHO goes all in for a scam designed to fail.

Matt Jordan is the author of Street Politics:  It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! Grab your copy here.

 

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The Convention of States Movement

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The Convention of States Movement is now gaining real traction.  I find this exciting for a few reasons, which I’ll discuss below.

What is the Convention of States?

There is a process, championed by George Mason, inserted into the Constitution whereby citizens, can seek to directly make amendments.  This is done by persuading 3/4 of the states to call a Convention of States (CoS). 

Independence Hall, Philadelphia,blue sky, convention
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Site of the First Constitutional Convention. The signatories endeavored to correct flaws and abuses in The Articles of Confederation.

In the face of profligate spending and broad overreach by the federal government, a problem stretching back to FDR, the present battle for a Constitutional Convention has been joined.  We are on the cusp of success!  The framers of this movement have chosen wisely to limit the scope of the convention. 

Some people fear that when seated, the CoS will declare itself an open convention.  This is unlikely.  But this author, for one, wouldn’t be opposed to such a move.  While the CoS will move to make a few reductions in federal power, the sad fact is, we are in need of a major reset back to an adult adherence to the Constitution.

But the present CoS is not looking to upset the apple cart to that extent.

You Need to AT LEAST Look at the Project

This process is going to be an interesting one.  And you should be interested.  If a convention is seated it will have a profound impact on how business is done inside the Beltway.  By reigning in the power of the federal government, we will expand the power of your state and local governments.  This is a benefit few people appreciate, so dependent have we become on the big Mommy State.  Most importantly this convention, and the trend in thinking it will inspire, will be a windfall for your personal liberties.

But there is more to it than even that.  One of the most unseemly aspects of the American political scene is the level of ignorance that exists among citizens.  People have no idea even what conservative or liberal means anymore.  Many don’t know, or in some cases do know but don’t care, that their government has ruled over them illegitimately for generations.  

People actually think it is the job of the president of the United States to “run the country” or show “leadership” to congress.  This is the exact opposite of what the founders intended.  And we, as a nation, have bought off on these wrong-headed notions to our detriment.  

But with the CoS movement we have a chance to relearn what we used to know from elementary school Civics classes.   And the learning will be far more interesting than any political campaign; even more exciting than the bread and circus we experienced with the 2016 debacle. 

By just by paying attention to the issues being discussed you will find yourself drawn to the discussion.  Ideas that you might think boring will suddenly take on new meaning.  You will find out quickly where you truly stand on the political/philosophical spectrum in this country.  This is the kind of event that can inspire a renewed sense of true citizenship, far more than petty, partisan politics.

So even if you presently see yourself as disinterested in politics, give the movement a look.  I hope some of you will come back and thank me later.

This movement is for everyone, but I have a special note to conservatives.  We on the right do a lot of shouting about the way things ought to be.  And some did a lot of crowing after the’16 election. Some actually believe we achieved a conservative victory.  Well, if you consider yourself a conservative and a proponent of the Constitution and you don’t get your hands dirty with the CoS Project, you’re not really a conservative. At least not one who can hoot about making America great again, or about respect for our founding documents, in a substantive way.

If you haven’t visited the link to George Mason yet, please take a moment to do so now.  It is short and instructive. Mason.

There are discussions below directly from the CoS website.

Photo Credit: Independence Hall Sangre-La.com Flickr via Compfight cc

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2016: What Did We Learn?

Wow! 2016. What a Year, Huh?

It was the year of Brexit. It was the year of Hurricane Matthew (you’re welcome). We lost a lot of cool celebrities. But we also got rid of Castro. Finally!  2016 was the year I billed Mexico for my garden wall. It seemed like the smart move at the time. They didn’t find it funny.  There was also some kind of election thingy, wasn’t there?

I Celebrate My Wrong-ness!

I am late getting back to you on one of my 2016 predictions. I have just spent several days in WordPress/Plugin hell trying to create a membership program for this site. I hope to create a talent incubator for political writers. And it will be for left, right, young, old, gay, straight, Lithuanian, Latvian…

It would be about time we had some talent here. Until that happens, you still have sweet, lovable me.

If you are a frequent visitor here, you will have read my warnings about the Federal Reserve’s December 2016 rate hike. I will state for the record, I was anticipating from ½ to full point increase.

With Trump’s victory (the Fed sees him as a problem) I expected the Fed to go big. I warned people here to keep a sharp eye on their retirement accounts because a big rate increase would throw cold water on the stock market.

When I am wrong, I say I’m wrong. The Fed only bumped their rates to big banks by ¼ point. The Wall Street nose-dive I worried about did not occur. If the Fed is going to do anything in relation to Trump, they will wait until next year to see if he actually intends to “drain the swamp.”

If he really does enact the agenda he ran on, expect the Fed to punish him with draconian rate hikes. This won’t necessarily be a bad thing in the long-term, but it will be very painful for all of us at the outset. For the record, the Fed IS the very slime at the bottom of the entire Beltway “swamp”.

But There Was a Glimmer of Right-ness.

Poor Stuart Varney.   From Late November until his last vacation, he was having on-camera, autoerotic spasms waiting to see the Dow at 20,000 before Christmas. Every guest who came on his show was asked to make a prediction on the possibility. He could taste 20,000!

Sadly, and predictably, it didn’t happen. And there is the tiny space in which I was right. While ¼ point was not enough to completely knock the wind out of Wall Street, the market has been quite flat since the very day of the announcement.

So much for all the talk of a “Trump” rally. What we saw was a run up to the Fed’s rate announcement followed by a slightly dampened market.

Poor Varney will have to sit alone in his room, doing god-knows-what, dreaming about the big moment. [1.I’m kidding, of course. I am a devoted Varney fan and watch his show almost every day.]

One last Street Politics prediction: As I said in a previous post, I predicted in 2013 that we’d see the National Debt at $20 trillion by the end of 2016. Ooooooh! So close! I lost a bottle of Johnny Walker Black by a mere whisker of $50 billion.

In case you think that was a wide margin to miss by, the debt as of 12:45 PM on New Year’s Eve, 2016 stood at $19,949,833,450. I missed by less than 1%! From two and a half years ago!

Political Lessons

If ever there was a year in which we could have had our eyes open to how things really work, it was 2016. This was the year in which cult-like devotion out-performed any concept of quality statesmanship. The mob stole the show.

2016 laid naked our political and intellectual immaturity. It gave us a chance to really evaluate how far we’ve regressed as citizens and voters. After a primary offering several very good candidates, we left ourselves with a choice between a petulant, impulsive teenage girl and Hillary.

You would think the LEAST observant among the talking head class would have volumes of lessons. You’d expect the old, stale views would be abandoned in the hopes of quality elections in the future.

But it seems they’ve learned nothing of lasting value…or even of short-term significance.

I watched an interview on this subject led by Chris Stirewalt, one of my favorite commentators. I expected at least some hope that 2016 didn’t circle the toilet in vain. I was, for the most part, disappointed.

Stirewalt interviewed two journalists who had provided their “lessons learned”, three each, for discussion. Josh Kraushaar, political writer for the National Journal put up this list:

  • The Obama coalition is on life support
  • Data is only as good as the analyst
  • Clinton campaign lost because it got overconfident

All those statements are basically true. But, come on! Have we not come out of every election since JFK with at least the first and third item touted by every pundit?

Of course the Obama coalition is on life support! He’s a lame duck. His party lost. The Obama coalition was officially flat-line on 8 Nov 16. It will never be heard from again. Sadly, we can’t say the same for BHO. He’ll be holding court every day, opining negatively about the Trump administration. He was a weak and feckless president, even more so than Carter. He’ll crave validation wherever he can find it.

Kraushaar’s second point, “Data is only as good as the analyst”??? WTF? Is that a major lesson we learned in this election. I thought we learned that when Mondale and Reagan were neck and neck – and then Reagan took 49 states. Josh, please!

And data doesn’t win elections. Even your understanding of data doesn’t win elections. That point is a virtual corollary to a complaint I heard a Clinton staffer make. “We had such a good ground game in every state! And yet we lost!”

(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

You can have a phone bank that calls every phone in America. You can offer every single voter (and in Hilary’s case lot’s of illegal aliens) a ride to the polls. You can have every statistician in the country analyzing your data. If you have a candidate that absolutely no one likes, who is under investigation by the FBI, you lose the election.

 

The only reason this one was so close is Donald Trump was only marginally less distasteful, to a frustrated 60% of the electorate, than Clinton!

Then it was Daniel Halper’s turn. He is the New York Times Washington Bureau Chief. This was his list of political profundity:

  • Don’t learn too many lessons from past elections
  • Conventional wisdom is often wrong
  • Ideology is insignificant

Well, bust my buttons! Is there something the other 310 million of us missed? Is this new?

Don’t learn too much from past elections is right! Other than 2010, how many times since Bush 41 have we heard that the GOP is the walking dead? “They’re on the wrong side of history,” we were told. The reason talking heads say we can’t learn from past elections is because Halper’s second and third points are correct.

But the same talking head class spends every election season reinvigorating the same wrongheadedness framed in these lists. Conventional wisdom, remaining stagnant since Reagan, is why I wrote Street Politics: It Ain’t your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! The people are bone weary of canned, handled, poll-tested campaigns.  And they already reject “conventional wisdom”.

That’s why the Donald was able to enter the election and say, “I’m going to build a wall” or blurt out something that was trending on his beloved Twitter feed, and people went wild! “He speaks the truth,” was a refrain we heard constantly. [emphasis mine]

His continued dependence on Twitter and recent shallow stunts are why he didn’t earn my vote and has yet to earn my trust.

Photo Credit: torbakhopper Flickr via Compfight cc

I did said as early as 2013 that there was a dire need for a genuine, in your face candidate. Carly Fiorina could have been that. Certainly Rand Paul could have been. But they opted for caution. And yes, I will stipulate that since June of 2015 the press decided there were only two candidates in the race, Trump and Clinton and covered the two accordingly. ALL other candidates were ignored unless one of the prime darlings was attacking them.

And ideology is indeed insignificant. It is dead. When you see ideology being touted, you are being lied to. The Democrat party, the party of the “little guy,” has completely whored itself out to Wall Street and Hollywood money, while scut-mouthing the same rich people. Most of the GOP wouldn’t know a conservative idea if it fell out of the sky, landed on their faces and wiggled. (I stole that line from Dan Aykroyd in The Great Outdoors)

This is the inevitable result of an entrenched two-party system. When loyalty to party is everything and principles are nothing. Hell, even the “Christian Right” gleefully cast aside it’s core principles in favor of a candidate who, if he ever had a genuinely conservative thought, was only a conservative for 1 ½ years before he ran for president. So much for ideology.

It was Stirewalt who finally evoked anything other than cynicism on my part during this interview. First, he stated the only valid (if not self-evident) lesson of the 2016 campaign. “In 2012, people voted for Obama because they wanted to. In 2016 people didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because they didn’t want to.” Wow! These guys are smart!

In the wrap-up, Stirewalt said, “Tell me the name of another journalist who distinguished themselves in 2016.”

It was at that point my head exploded, splattering the walls of my living room with pieces of my superior brain. “Me!” I shouted. “I was touting the real lessons we needed to heed since early two thousand and goddamn fifteen!”

They didn’t hear me. They never do.

Matt Jordan is host of streetpolitics.us and author of 16 20 24: A Path to Consistent Conservative Victory,  on Kindle as: Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore!

Kindle Version, STREET POLITICS: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! 50% of all author proceeds go to fighting Multiple Sclerosis!!

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