Wednesday, January 27, 2010

little differences of opinion

As I have many times before, I recently watched a political discussion where a statist had centered his argument on a popular (and generally worthless) idea. The idea was that proposed legislation was worthy of passage because of the good intentions of those who wrote it. The problem arises that everyone thinks they have good intentions. Aside from a few actual psychopaths, we can safely assume that even history's monstrous leaders never woke up and asked themselves, "How can I make life worse for my people? How can I advance the cause of evil?" Even as they sent countless people to their deaths in gas chambers, dissident executions, mass starvations, and other atrocities, it's a safe bet that they had convinced themselves that it was for the greater good, that they were using the government's power to solve the people's problems but that every great omelet requires breaking a few eggs. And, they seldom acted without some imprimatur of popular support: Many people agreed to trust the politicians and governments to solve perceived social problems, rather than to tackle the problems as free individuals with the uncoerced aid of others.

There are plenty of ways to encapsulate the dichotomy between that way of thinking and the thinking represented by the American ideal. Here's one of them. (Click to see it full-sized.)

the choice

Friday, January 22, 2010

5 Real Ways To Make Health Insurance Affordable

Rather than Obamunist "Care", there are alternatives, says Dr. C.L. Gray, president of Physicians for Reform.

1. Sell insurance across state lines:
  • State mandates drive up costs; health insurance for a 25-year-old male in New Jersey costs nearly six times what it does in Kentucky, largely because of state mandates.
  • Allowing businesses to purchase insurance across state lines empowers consumers, not Washington, and does not cost a dime.
  • An effect of this would be to make the more ridiculous state mandates, like insurance coverage birth control for women when out of pocket it costs them less to get a month of "The Pill" than it does to get a month of Ipad or other cell phone service. 
2. Let individuals purchase health insurance with pre-tax dollars, just like businesses can:
  • Insurance companies serve businesses, not patients; businesses purchase employee health insurance with pre-tax dollars while individuals purchase insurance with post-tax dollars making their insurance far more expensive.
  • This reform lets patients buy products that meet their needs and makes insurers more accountable to patients.
3. Encourage Health Care Savings Accounts (HSAs), along the lines of Education Savings Accounts. FlexBenefit accounts could be allowed to rollover at the very least.
  • HSAs reduce health care costs without rationing (cutting Medicare); they also let patients control their own money, decreasing health care spending by 13 percent. Things always cost more when a 3rd party is paying the bill.
  • During 2005 and 2006, traditional insurance rose 7.3 percent annually while lower cost / higher deductable plans combined with HSAs rose only 2.7 percent annually.
4. End abusive medical litigation. Easier said than done, but real tort reform is a must on so many levels.
  • Frivolous litigation drives physicians out of medicine; bringing tens of millions of new patients into the system requires more physicians, not fewer.
  • Frivolous litigation reform lowers cost and improves access to care; Americans spend approximately $124 billion every year because physicians practice defensive medicine.
5. What about the uninsured?
  • We can insure the uninsured without expanding American debt; approximately 25 percent of patients who visit the emergency rooms do not have health care coverage.
  • A system of tax credits can help the uninsured purchase coverage; this would cost approximately $80 billion annually.
  • Doctors taking charity tax deductions by treating indigent patients.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Liberals "Close Achievement Gaps"

How? By dumbing down the whole curriculum, that's how. Berkeley High School is their model:

If liberal politics and good intentions helped all students learn, then Berkeley High School should be an exemplar to all California. Yet, according to its governance council, Berkeley High was identified last year as the high school with "the largest racial equity/achievement gap in the state."
And why is this? Could it be that White or Asian American students are more likely to have both parents at home, parents who actually *care* about their children's academic performance? Could it be that the very same students are not as immersed in a culture that looks down on academic achievement and "acting white"? Or perhaps that should be "acting Asian".

NO, the good liberals at Berkeley can't acknowledge *that*, because that would be "racist". As opposed to the real racism of believing in "authentic blackness".

The worst part, as far as low-performing students are concerned, is that you can't expect the school district to turn its record underachievement around — not when its governance council, which makes recommendations to the school board on operations, approves a plan with a preamble that quotes Karl Marx: "From each according to his (or her) ability, to each according to his (or her) need."
There is the tip off--right in the Berkeley High preamble.
Then there's the science lab issue. Last month, the East Bay Express reported that the council was working to eliminate science labs at Berkeley High. The story burned through the Internet as it fed into the town's stereotype as a left-wing bubble that puts political correctness before all else.

The story also bolstered the common suspicion that some educators want to close the achievement gap by dumbing down public schools. As Peggy Scott, a governance council parent who voted against the plan, told KQED's "Forum's" Michael Krasny on Wednesday, "Closing the achievement gap really means bringing the bottom up, and the problem is that it does seem and it does feel like what might be happening is trying to bring the top down."

It turns out, as The Chronicle's Jill Tucker later reported, Berkeley High's science labs are conducted before or after school. As district spokesman Mark Coplan explained, years ago, the district decided to use parcel tax money to fund labs — which meant they had to be extracurricular. When you have science labs before or after the regular school day, some kids can't make them.

Berkeley Unified Superintendent William Huyett contends that the district did not plan to get rid of science labs, but to "integrate the labs into the regular school day" — which could benefit some students. The school board will look at the issue next month.

That said, action-plan supporters on the governance council have to own up to the fact that they are talking about taking something away from Advanced Placement and college prep students. As science teacher Mardi Sicular-Mertens told KQED, eliminating the labs means eliminating about 20 percent of instructional time from a program with "a proven track record."

Another cause for alarm: It is not clear where the money that went to this academic program will go, other than toward unnamed "equity grants."

Scott told me that the governing council never voted on the Marx-loving preamble. That's good to know, given this language: "Every students (sic), particularly" minority students, "have access to rigorous culturally-relevant curriculum that empowers them to be active participants in creating a more just society AND have any support they need to access and excel in curriculum."

Here's an example: "de-track" freshman math in favor of "heterogeneous classes." Beware: Those terms are educratese for dumping honors and dumbing down content.

The result will not be a more just society. Instead, a declining number of Berkeley High students will be able to do the math.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Obamacare Reveals Moral Bankruptcy Of The Left

We already knew of their financial bankruptcy, but the Leftist Democrats always preened about how moral they were, and how much they cared.

Oh really?

Throughout this fight over ObamaCare, Leftist Democrat Senators have lied about the privacy of medical records....they've lied about the deficit....they've lied about the costs of health insurance premiums and how the bill will affect senior citizens. They have lied over and over to their constituents about all these issues.

That's why it's time that we tell Democrat Senators how corrupt their vote for ObamaCare really was. Obviously, they won't agree. So let each Senator make the argument that, "I am not a crook."

That argument never wins elections.

Already, more than a few Democrat Representatives and Senators are either switching parties or announcing their retirements. They know the American people are disgusted with the moral bankruptcy of the U.S. Congress -- a situation that has become obvious to anyone who watches the nightly news.

Consider the following despicable practices which were perpetrated in order to push ObamaCare through the Senate last month:

1. Bribes
* A $100 million bribe to treat Sen. Ben Nelson's state different from all others, in exchange for Ben Nelson's vote.
* A $100-300 million bribe to treat Sen. Mary Landrieu's state different from all others, in exchange for Mary Landrieu's vote.
* $10 billion for community health centers operated by groups similar to ACORN, in exchange for Sen. Bernie Sanders' vote.
* A bribe to Sen. Max Baucus not only to treat Montana different from most other states, but also a bribe in order to treat Libby, Montana, different from any other town!
* A bribe to Sen. Chris Dodd consisting of a $100 million medical center in Connecticut.
* Bribes to Sens. Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan, Bill Nelson, etc., etc., etc.
* In fact, there are so many bribes in the Senate version of the ObamaCare bill that the bribe-meister himself, Majority Leader Harry Reid, publicly bragged that if your senator doesn't have a bribe in this bill, it "speaks poorly" of him.

2. Extortion
* Threats to take away Sen. Joe Lieberman's chairmanship because of his opposition to the government run "public option."

3. Fraud
* Senators are claiming that the Senate-passed version reduces the deficit, even though:
a. $247 billion of the bill's costs are being snuck through in separate legislation;
b. The "savings" rely on $465 billion of Medicare "cuts," which no one believed were achievable, unless they want to concede the truth about "death panel" rationing on the elderly; and
c. The "savings" rely on making new taxes take effect 3-5 years before any of those tax monies are spent!
* Senators are claiming that the bill would make Medicare solvent -- but this claim can only be made by fraudulently double-counting the effects of the phony Medicare cuts.
* Senators are claiming that health care costs would be brought under control, when the government's own Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that costs would go up $245 billion.
* Senators are claiming that premiums would be brought under control, even though the Congressional Budget Office found that policies under the "exchange" (i.e., those policies which you would have to buy, under penalty of law) would be 10-13% more expensive than if Congress did nothing.

4. Secrecy / hiding from the public 
* The final version of the 2407-page bill wasn't revealed until less than 48 hours before Congress began voting on it.

And there is a "marriage penalty" too.Some married couples would pay thousands of dollars more for the same health insurance coverage as unmarried people living together, under the health insurance overhaul plan pending in Congress, says the Wall Street Journal.

The built-in "marriage penalty" in both House and Senate health care bills has received scant attention. But for scores of low-income and middle-income couples, it could mean a hike of $2,000 or more in annual insurance premiums the moment they say "I do."
  • The disparity comes about in part because subsidies for purchasing health insurance under the plan from congressional Democrats are pegged to federal poverty guidelines.
  • That has the effect of limiting subsidies for married couples with a combined income, compared to if the individuals are single.
  • People who get their health insurance through an employer wouldn't be affected.
  • Only people that buy subsidized insurance through new exchanges set up by the legislation stand to be impacted.
  • About 17 million people would receive such subsidies in 2016 under the House plan, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.
The bills cap the annual amount people making less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level must pay for health insurance premiums, ranging from 1.5 percent of income for the poorest to 11 percent at the top end, under the House plan:
  • For an unmarried couple with income of $25,000 each, combined premiums would be capped at $3,076 per year, under the House bill.
  • If the couple gets married, with a combined income of $50,000, their annual premium cap jumps to $5,160 -- a "penalty" of $2,084.
The disparity is slightly smaller in the Senate version of health care legislation, chiefly because premium subsidies in the House bill are more targeted towards low-wage earners, says the Journal:
  • Under the Senate bill, a couple with $50,000 in combined income would pay $3,450 in annual premiums if unmarried, and $5,100 if married -- a difference of $1,650.
  • Republicans say the effect on married couples whose combined income makes them ineligible for subsidies is even greater -- up to $5,000 or more -- but that is more difficult to measure because it includes assumptions about the price of insurance policies.