Zombie: The real reason why Americans hate universal healthcare (repost)


[I originally published this essay in December of last year, before I started blogging for PJM. I was planning to write a new last-minute plea for sanity as we approach the zero hour for the health care vote in Congress — but I inevitably ended up just re-phrasing the ideas contained in my original essay. So rather than repeat myself, I present below a reprise of what many have said is the one and only essay you’ll ever need to read about universal health care.]

Read the whole thing

Zombie’s argument basically boils down to this: a nontrivial percentage of healthcare expenses are due to unhealthy diet, self-intoxication (tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs,…), high-risk behavior (DUI, dangerous sports, unprotected and/or promiscuous sex,…), cultural habits (deep suntanning, first-cousin marriages,…), and the like. All else being equal, a social libertarian would say “live and let live”. But once we get to foot the bill for fixing the damage wrought by somebody else’s irresponsible behavior, this will turn all of us into the type of nannies every social libertarian loathes. “Freedom to do your own thing” or “protecting you against yourself”: pick one.

The question is not whether Zombie envisages a libertarian utopia. (S)he doesn’t. A person who, through no fault of their own, ends up with crushing medical expenses (accident, genetics dealing a bad hand, or just sheer bad luck) is still dependent on the mercy of strangers, and (s)he realizes that as well as any. (S)he merely argues that the ‘solution’ for this problem will involve a price American society is unable and unwilling to pay — not so much in money as in freedom.

Democrats explain why you should oppose 0bamacare

Compiled by John Hawkins (see also Van Helsing):

“There’s going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this, but if you lose Massachusetts and that’s not a wake-up call, there’s no hope of waking up.” — Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN)

“Bluntly put, this is the political reality: First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate’s reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.” — Patrick H. Caddell & Douglas E. Schoen

“The problem is this: we are spending almost a trillion dollars and folks are telling me I should vote yes and we will fix it later. You wouldn’t buy a car for a trillion dollars and say yeah, it doesn’t run but we will fix it later.” — Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA)

“There’s a lot of discomfort with the reconciliation process, the self-implementing rule, where you wouldn’t have a formal vote on maybe the most important policy of the past 40 years. I have a big issue with the way they’re doing the process. I think it’s wrong and my constituents don’t like it.” — Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA)

“I was one of the authors of the legislation that created the budget reconciliation process in 1974, and I am certain that putting health care reform and climate change legislation on a freight train through Congress is an outrage that must be resisted.” — Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)

“I don’t believe reconciliation was ever intended for (health care reform). It doesn’t work well for writing major, substantive legislation.” — Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)

“Anyone who would stand before you and say ‘well, if you pass health care reform next year’s health care premiums are going down,’ I don’t think is telling the truth. I think it is likely they would go up.” — Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)

“While deeming, like reconciliation, has been used by Republicans and Democrats in the past, the context in which it would be used in this case leads me to conclude that it would poison an already terribly partisan atmosphere and leave the Congress even less able to find bipartisan solutions to fiscal problems that are on the verge of becoming overwhelming.” — Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD)

“This bill represents a giveaway to the insurance industry. $70 billion dollars a year, and no guarantees of any control over premiums, forcing people to buy private insurance, five consecutive years of double-digit premium increases.” — Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)

Comment of the day

Commenter “methinks” at Althouse on 0bama’s speech to the Democratic caucus (many of the other comments are worth reading too):

The crowd was dull because people who know they are going to their own slaughter usually do have that stunned, dull demeanor as they turn their glazed eyes toward their executioner.

That part in his speech about how they’re Democrats because being a Republican means that you would never help your fellow man in need is particularly endearing. Voluntary help by reaching into your own pocket to help a fellow man in need doesn’t count – only theft of your neighbour’s property in pursuit of your vision of justice is moral.

That’s what the Soviets did. They perverted morality so that everyone lived in opposite land.

3/20/10 7:12 PM

“Woe unto those who call evil good and good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20)

Bach’s 325th Anniversary Video II: Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582

When Bach was barely the age of a college kid today, he heard, or saw the score of, a piece by French organist André Raison where he broidered a series of simple variations on top of a four-bar bass line. Realizing the potential of the theme, Bach extended it to double the length, wrote a set of twenty variations that exploited his at the time peerless organ technique, then added a double fugue for good measure. (A double fugue is a fugue with two primary themes, brought in separately or — in this case — together.)

The end result is one of the most colossal pieces in the entire organ literature. Below it is presented in two parts (again due to YouTube length limitations): the split occurs just before the end of the passacaglia which segues immediately into the fugue.

From YouTube, here is a surprisingly “neat” performance by an organist I never heard of named Bernhard Karrer.

If you are an organophobe, try this orchestral arrangement (part 1: passacagliapart 2: fugue) by, and conducted by, Leopold Stokowski. Or here is a piano transcription of just the passacaglia (which is quite tricky to play, as there is no pedal keyboard and the pianist would really need an extra hand ;-))


J. S. Bach’s 325th Birthday

Halevai (would that it were so). Exactly 325 years ago, on March 21, 1685, in the German city of Eisenach, Johann Sebastian Bach was born. His body may have died, but his music is more alive than ever.

In honor of the day, here is Itzhak Perlman performing (YouTube video split up in two parts) the Chaconne from the Partita for Solo Violin in D minor, BWV 1004. A “chaconne” is roughly the more stylized classical equivalent of what jazz, rock, and metal soloist often do: spin out ideas over a repeated bass line. (If the bass line moves to voices other than the bass, the piece is called a passacaglia, of which Bach wrote a marvelous example for organ.) Violinist Nigel Kennedy, not without reason, refers to the composer as “Jazz Bach”.

The theme Bach ‘riffs’ on is very basic, and the limitations of solo violin playing (especially with a modern bow) mean many things have to be hinted at rather than played. Yet, this piece manages to not bore the listener for one second. And Perlman has enough technique that he can squeeze an emotional performance out of this “Mount Everest of solo violin music”.


Grim milestone

RASMUSSEN (via Instapundit:): 44% “Strongly Disapprove” of Obama; only 43% approve of Obama at all.

23% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-four percent (44%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21. That matches the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President (see trends). . . . Overall, 43% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. That also matches the lowest level yet recorded for this President. Fifty-six percent (56%) disapprove. [12% “somewhat”, 44% “strongly”]

[Insty snarks:] “Will the press start talking about “the increasingly unpopular President Obama” any time soon?”

0bamacare vs. Medicare passage

Tom Maguire applies the Fisk-O-Tronic to Ezra Klein, who claims equivalence between 0bamacare and Medicare, “which was also passed while unpopular”. Some “inconvenient details” Ezra overlooks:

The tough vote!  A bit more research (I cleverly went with “medicare senate votes 1965“and took the first result) shows us that Medicare passed the House in April by a tough vote of 313-115 and went to the Senate where a similar bill wheezed through on July 9 by 68-21.  The House-Senate conference reported a bill on July 26 and the final product cleared the House by 307-116, the Senate by 70-24, and was signed into law on July 30.  Hey, in time for the August recess, just like Obama wanted!

Some Times story mentioned that the bill cleared the relevant Senate committee by a tooth-pulling 12-5.  As to bipartisan backing, the final bill was supported by a majority of House Republicans (70-68) and 40% of the voting Republican Senators (13-17).

Well.  I wonder how many of the lefty bloggers who took the tough decision to move this DNC talking point forward regret doing that today.

Making sense on civil service

Knock me over with a feather: former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown (!) is actually stating a hard truth about the civil service (h/t: Mickey Kaus):

From our out-of-sync tax system to our out-of-control civil service, it’s time for politicians to begin an honest dialogue about what we’ve become.

Take the civil service.

The system was set up so politicians like me couldn’t come in and fire the people (relatives) hired by the guy they beat and replace them with their own friends and relatives.

Over the years, however, the civil service system has changed from one that protects jobs to one that runs the show.

The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life.

But we politicians, pushed by our friends in labor, gradually expanded pay and benefits to private-sector levels while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages that pay ex-workers almost as much as current workers.

Talking about this is politically unpopular and potentially even career suicide for most officeholders.

And congrats are due to Mickey Kaus on getting enough signatures for a primary challenge to Barbara “Braindead” Boxer. Personally, I’ll take a Mickey Kaus type Democrat over a RINO wuss any day of the week. Unfortunately, they’re a dying breed.

Legislative malpractice

This picture snapped by Dr. Helen Smith (a.k.a. “Instawife”) says more than a thousand words:

In the comments to another picture (unrelated) posted by Insty, I found this righteous rant on the same topic:

You’re right; we are living in the age of America’s decline. I can remember both my own parents and many others of their age who absolutely refused to accept government help and would have starved before asking for it. They thought that their obligation was to make enough to deal with their own problems and that people who took money from the government were lazy beggars.

I could see among the people my age, starting in the 70’s, that this attitude no longer pertained. The thinking seemed to be that if they could get by without working, no matter who was paying the bill, they were happy with the situation.

Our population has grown and ingested a large number of lazy people who think themselves entitled to a free living at someone else’s expense. They’ve not the slightest qualm at using the IRS as a weapon to force those who work for their money to pay large sums of that money to support the parasites and sloths who refuse to support themselves.

If Obamacare passes, as a nation we’ve just taken the anchor, wrapped it around our necks, and jumped overboard. We’re done and absolutely, irrevocably doomed to national default and currency destruction. I’m embarrassed to think that I live in a country whose political class is either so stupid, or so venal, as to not admit this.

I used to be very angry at the 52% who voted for Obama. I now realize that it was the entire system that could produce such ignorant fools that was at fault. America has got a lot of waking up and growing up to do, and they’re only just beginning those tasks. The next decade is going to be damned ugly because the sheeple are going to find out just how much the mistakes they’ve allowed to happen are going to hurt them.

UPDATE: Roadside billboard has Dhimmi Carter saying: “They can’t call me the worst president anymore”. Signed: “Paid for by a small business owner”.

Ratings: Cartoon Network beats CNN, MSNBC

Don Surber (via Insty):

TV Newser has the February prime time rankings.

USA is No. 1, Fox News No. 2, TBS No. 3, TNT No. 4 and the History Channel No. 5.

At No. 26 is MSNBC and CNN is No. 32.

Over at 13th place, the Cartoon Network is beating both of them.

It’s the credibility gap.

Heh. Don also points us to the full listing at TV Newser.

Zombie: Anarcho-left meltdown

In the category: “Reality outdoes satire” read this simultaneously hilarious and depressing account by Zombie of the latest ideological divisions in the West Coast (left)<super>5</super>anarchist movement. You’ll need Aspirin or Advil for headaches after reading it, though.

And supporting the wraparound theory of extremist political lunacy (a.k.a. the “konvergence of kooks”), Zombie introduces us all to the concept of “National Anarchism“.

US-Israel spat: two opposing analyses

Concerning the recent US-Israel spat over recent Israeli building permits in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo (a.k.a. Shuafat Ridge) here are two opposing analyses.

Cal Thomas upbraids the 0bama administration for “having made America Israel’s new enemy”.

On the other hand, Daniel Pipes, no fan of 0bama himself, argues that it is a manufactured dispute over a trifle, calculated to divert attention from (behind-the-scenes-agreement on) more important matters.

We link, you decide. Obviously, I hope and pray that Pipes (generally a very astute analyst) is right, but I fear it might be Thomas.

VDH: Reflections on the revolution in America

Victor Davis Hanson: has another “read the whole thing” piece, reflecting on the 0bamist revolution. A teaser or two:

Some of the revolutionaries are guided by genuine noblesse oblige. Others act out of guilt and can justify their own consumption if they “care” for a distant poorer other. Still more explain their own privilege through using government to redistribute income. A few are driven by genuine hatred — stemming from the fact that the highly educated academic or artist makes far less than the doctor, lawyer, CEO, or — heaven forbid — tire store owner, family orthodontist, or owner of a half dozen Little Caesar pizza franchises.

How can that be that the PhD who reads Old English, or the painter who emulates Pollock, or the writer who is the next Fitzgerald, or the AP teacher is given so much less by society than the crass, smug captain of industry, who reads less, has no real taste, and hardly understands his own existential dilemma? Should not salary and capital be predicated on good intentions, high education, rhetoric and argumentation, and a bit of necessary sarcasm?

Only a professor could puncture New Class envy so devastatingly.

[W]e are witnessing  a quiet but insidious revolution. At home, if successful, the state and its vast array of newly hired employees, will administer our health care system, as well as education loans (and that will need a sort of new agency like the Postal Service or DMV). We now take for granted take-overs of much of the automobile industry and financial organizations. Should cap and trade pass, the administration would be dictating energy use. If you add it up — going to the doctor, driving a car, stopping by an ATM, flipping on the lights, taking out a student loan — you could run bump into a lot of new federal bureaucrats. And that’s the point, isn’t it after all?

I doubt anyone in the administration believes that these new public sectors of the economy will be better run.[…] So the point instead is I think fourfold:

a) those who profit from running these new agencies will be our new anointed class, at the top, Ivy-League technocrats, and lower down among the ranks, the politically deserving: power and patronage; b) the resultant cost increases will require more taxes on those whose ill-gotten gains should be properly redistributed to the commune; gorge the beast; c) in political terms, a constituency that either administers or receives federal larges (think of an ACORN/SEIU hybrid) will prove a predictably loyal base in future elections: dependent future voters; d) federal and state wages and pensions will remind us all during tough times that government “service” is the only steady, reliable, and fair employer: we will all end up the same.

[…]I’m sorry — I don’t take seriously much of anything from this wannabe revolutionary bunch.

NEJM survey: Physicians on 0bamacare

The New England Journal of Medicine has a survey of physicians’ opinions on 0bamacare. Some highlights (emphases mine):

Physician Support of Health Reform in General
62.7% of physicians feel that health reform is needed but should be implemented in a more targeted, gradual way, as opposed to the sweeping overhaul that is in legislation.
28.7% of physicians are in favor of a public option.
3.6% of physicians prefer the “status quo” and feel that the U.S. health care system is best “as is.
Health Reform and Primary Care Physicians
46.3% of primary care physicians (family medicine and internal medicine) feel that the passing of health reform will either force them out of medicine or make them want to leave medicine.
Health Reform, Public Option, and Practice Revenue/Physician Income
41% of physicians feel that income and practice revenue will “decline or worsen dramatically” with a public option.
30% feel income will “decline or worsen somewhat” with a public option. [That adds up to 71% (!) who feel it will decline.]
9% feel income will “improve somewhat” with a public option, and 0.8% feel income will “improve dramatically” with a public option.
Health Reform, Public Option, and Physician Supply
72% of physicians feel that a public option would have a negative impact on physician supply, with 45% feeling it will “decline or worsen dramatically” and 27% predicting it will “decline or worsen somewhat.
24% of physicians think they will try to retire early if a public option is implemented.
21% of physicians would try to leave medicine if a public option is implemented, even if not near retirement age at the time. [Can you spell: “g-o-i-n-g    G-a-l-t”?]
Health Reform and Recommending Medicine to Others as a Career
36% of physicians would not recommend medicine as a career, regardless of health reform.
27% would recommend medicine as a career but not if health reform passes.
25% of physicians would recommend medicine as a career regardless of health reform.
12% would not recommend medicine as a career now but feel that they would recommend it as a career if health reform passes

Conquest’s Third Law states that “the behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.” It is pretty much the only way the 0bama-Peelousy flogging of a dead horse can be rationalized, as its passing will be disastrous not just for the United States but for their own party. Pretty much the best way to guarantee a landslide GOP victory in November is to ram this monstrosity down Middle America’s throats “so they can read what’s in it”.

Then again, “Vision of the anointed” hubris may itself be an adequate explanation.

UPDATE: “Turn” on C2 points me to an “AP flying pig moment”: AP fact-checks the claim that 0bamacare will reduce insurance premiums and finds it wanting.

Just because video: Black Sabbath, “Paranoid”

Yes, I am still alive — “realspace” isn’t giving me any breaks.

From an early show in Paris, here is Black Sabbath performing probably their biggest European hit ever, “Paranoid”. The band clearly started experimenting with down-tuning around that time (culminating in the “Master of Reality” sound) — anybody with perfect pitch will immediately notice that the song is a half-step down from the studio recording.


Are Jews about to leave the Democratic plantation?

Following the bizarre overreaction of the 0bama administration to Israel announcing construction in a neighborhood in its own capital city, Roger Simon wonders if the love affair between Jews and the Democratic Party might finally be ending.

Relatedly, Jennifer Rubin notes unprecedented condemnations by both ADL and AIPAC.

See Israel Matzav for extensive further coverage (just keep scrolling) — Carl himself lives in the neighborhood concerned (Reches Shuafat/Ramat Shlomo), I believe.

Coffee Party: Strange Brew

Fenway Nation puts it best: “Astroturf Yields Weak Coffee Crop. Dozens Turn Out Nationwide For ‘Successful’ Coffee Parties”. Read the whole thing.

Insty has more:

UPDATE: Dan Riehl has more on the far-left connections of, well, just about every “coffee party” organizer here and here. As a “grassroots” “nonpartisan” movement this doesn’t even pass the laugh test.