Healthcare — free, top-quality, available, pick any two

In response to a commenter here I wrote the following:

Healthcare — free, top-quality, available, pick any two. I have lived under multiple healthcare systems. If the price for “free” and “available” is involuntary euthanasia of the elderly, I’ll pass. If “free” and “available” means “7th-rate”, so will I. If “free” means “whoever has the best connections gets the best quality care”, it’s just “inequality” in a different way. (Except, of course, that the “deserving” New Class of bureaucrats, academia, and “helping” professions think they will get first dibs in a system run by them.)

Israel comes the closest to a workable socialized medicine system (thanks to an unusually healthy age pyramid) and even their system is increasingly becoming two-tier: gold-plated for those able to afford private care and bare-bones for everybody else.

Old Maggie had it dead to rights: “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” It was 0bama’s misfortune (but also his innumeracy — a common characteristic of “wordsmith intellectuals”, in my experience) to try and implement more socialist schemes just as the state ship was reaching the shoals of bankruptcy. [I couldn’t resist the Monty Python reference :-)]

American Thinker: From Cordoba to Marbella, and everything in between

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via American Thinker: Clarice’s Pieces: From Cordoba to Marbella gives an excellent summary of the insanity of the past week, from Marie-Antoinette 0bama’s Marbella trip to tge Ground Zero mosque, and everything in between. Zjust about the one thing missing is the fire-sale of Newsweek to the husband of Rep. Jane Harman.

Light blogging continues here as, in realspace,we wrap up a relocation to a new assignment.

Krauthammer: VAT is coming

Charles Krauthammer: The VAT is coming  [Read the whole thing]

OBAMA KNOWS that the debt bomb is looming, that Moody’s is warning that the Treasury’s AAA rating is in jeopardy, that we are headed for a run on the dollar and/or hyperinflation if nothing is done.

Hence his deficit reduction commission. It will report (surprise!) after the November elections.

What will it recommend? What can it recommend?

Sure, Social Security can be trimmed by raising the retirement age, introducing means testing and changing the indexing formula from wage growth to price inflation.

But this won’t be nearly enough. As Obama has repeatedly insisted, the real money is in health care costs – which are now locked in place by the new Obamacare mandates.

That’s where the value-added tax comes in. For the politician, it has the virtue of expediency: People are used to sales taxes, and this one produces a river of revenue. Every 1 percent of VAT would yield up to $1 trillion a decade (depending on what you exclude – if you exempt food, for example, the yield would be more like $900b.).

It’s the ultimate cash cow. Obama will need it. By introducing universal health care, he has pulled off the largest expansion of the welfare state in four decades. And the most expensive. Which is why all of the European Union has the VAT. Huge VATs. Germany: 19 percent. France and Italy: 20%. Most of Scandinavia: 25%. [Israel’s is somewhat lower, at 16% — Ed.]

American liberals have long complained that ours is the only advanced industrial country without universal health care. Well, now we shall have it. And as we approach European levels of entitlements, we will need European levels of taxation.

Obama set out to be a consequential president, on the order of Ronald Reagan. With the VAT, Obama’s triumph will be complete. He will have succeeded in reversing Reaganism. Liberals have long complained that Reagan’s strategy was to starve the (governmental) beast to shrink it: First, cut taxes – then ultimately you have to reduce government spending.

Obama’s strategy is exactly the opposite: Expand the beast, and then feed it. Spend first – which then forces taxation. Now that, with the institution of universal health care, we are becoming the full entitlement state, the beast will have to be fed.

And the VAT is the only trough in creation large enough.

As a substitute for the income tax, the VAT would be a splendid idea.

Taxing consumption makes infinitely more sense than taxing work. But to feed the liberal social-democratic project, the VAT must be added on top of the income tax.

Ultimately, even that won’t be enough. As the population ages and health care becomes increasingly expensive, the only way to avoid fiscal ruin (as Britain, for example, has discovered) is health care rationing.

It will take a while to break the American populace to that idea. In the meantime, get ready for the VAT. Or start fighting it.

People of a classical-liberal bent in Western countries who see things going pear-shaped look to the USA as an alternative to immigrate to. At this rate, why should they bother?

Related news item:

Instapundit apologizes to prostitutes

Glenn Reynolds:

WHEN YOU BLOG, SOMETIMES YOU SAY THINGS YOU DON’T REALLY MEAN. AND THEN YOU SHOULD APOLOGIZE.

So, yes, I apologize to prostitutes everywhere for comparing them to Congress. It was a hideously unfair slur, and I never should have said it . . . .

Posted at 9:23 am by Glenn Reynolds

Ouch. In related news, according to a CBS poll (!), public approval of Congress stands at 14%. 76% disapprove. Those of Nancy Peelousy and Dingy Harry Reid stand at 11% and 8%, respectively. Mrs. F2 wondered if the pollsters accidentally sampled the Pelosi and Reid households to even get to these percentages…

0bamacare passage: Let this be a Pyrrhic victory

I woke up to seeing that the Deemocratic [sic] cabal managed to ram an inpopular health care down Uncle Sam’s throat, 219 yes against 212 no (all Republicans plus 34 Democrats). Yes, this was 0bama’s promised bipartisanism all right: in the opposition to 0bama’s agenda.

It’s easy to feel depressed now, but in truth this is a black cloud with a huge silver lining. Dan Riehl puts it best:

You may have to wait for the GOP’s new Fire Pelosi site to open. It’s that jammed and donations are pouring in.

Powerline points to some silver linings.

This bill has limited benefit for the middle class, though it does have some. It isn’t as if the system didn’t need reform. But, as always, Obama has over-promised. And not only will this under deliver, as the reality of the reform becomes known, it won’t be popular. Obama fancies himself part Lincoln, part FDR. He’s neither, in point of fact.

Most importantly, the Democrats are exposed. Obama flushed them out of their hole to save himself. That’s not a hero, it’s a selfish traitor to his party. On top of that, we now have what matters most on the heels of this fiasco – something to fight for. And fight we will.

And we will win in the end. Too many solid citizens were already up in arms, taking to the streets before this. Those numbers will not shrink. They will grow exponentially. As the saying goes, this is not the beginning of the end. It is the end of the beginning.

Let them have their self-congratulatory night and day or two. They’ve been drunk on power and ideology throughout this debate. Kicking the snot out of them when their hangover sets in – and it will –  may be the political highlight of many of our lives.

Some related, must-read, articles, mostly on Pajamas Media:

  • Victor Davis Hanson: “We’ve crossed the Rubicon
  • Constitutional challenges to 0bamacare
  • Paul Hsieh MD: “Obamacare: The coming battles
  • Rick Moran: “This was rammed down the throats of the American people with as much cynicism, trickery, deliberate obfuscation, and budgetary tomfoolery as has ever been seen for a major piece of legislation in the history of the republic.” Read the whole thing.
  • Via Ace: Stocks ueber-bull Jim Cramer suddenly became a bear.
  • Fenway Nation: “Blue dogs, Constitution euthanized after outliving usefulness.”
  • Prof. Jacobson offers some pep talk.
  • Peter Suderman: “It’s being hailed as a major legislative achievement, and in size and scope, it certainly is. But for those of us who do not take comfort in legislation of great size and scope, it’s an achievement of dubious merit./ But it’s not just the size and scope. It’s also that this bill is unlikely to achieve most of the objectives that have been set out for it. […W]e’re left with a highly expensive, fiscally dangerous expansion of health insurance that locks even more people into a broken system. That’s an achievement, all right, but not a particularly good one.”
  • Insty predicts: “A brief poll bump for Obama based on positive news coverage of the bill passage. Then, more decline.” Also points to the first “0bamacare: repeal it!” bumper stickers for sale. (Anybody can now design such a thing and put it up for sale in mere hours.)
  • Ira Stoll: ““Republicans despondent because they think the bill is a government takeover that is about to ruin the American health care system may want to cheer up. First, if the bill is half as terrible as the Republicans say it is, Americans are going to be so upset about it that they blame the Democrats. That will redound politically to the benefit of the Republicans, and it may even make a repeal of the bill possible. Second, even without passage of this bill, health care costs were growing to the point where they were putting pressure on family and government budgets, and it was about to get worse because of the aging of the Baby Boom generation into Medicare. Now the Republicans have a plausible way of blaming the Democrats for all these problems, which were going to happen anyway under the course set by a Republican administration.”
  • Speaking of which, Bloomberg: US bonds might lose AAA credit rating?!
  • Updates to follow later.

Ours is not to despair now. In fact, the passage of this dreck sandwich pretty much guarantees a GOP takeover of Congress come November. Let us make this the textbook political example of a “Pyrrhic victory”.

UPDATE: for a list of the 34 Democrats who voted “no” below the fold (sourced from official roll call), click “More”.

UDPATE 2 (h/t: scottishbuzzsaw): Bill Whittle: “The common people– otherwise known as the Host Organism”: Heh. Read it all.

Continue reading

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.

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.

NHS: patients treated in broom closets

At Tammy Bruce’s website (h/t: Dan Riehl via twitter), a long and very worthwhile blog post detailing how unsustainability problems are driving the British NHS to care levels I would consider unacceptable for dogs, let alone humans. In brief:

  • Patients are already being treated in broom closets, etc., due to lack of space
  • Still the NHS wants to cut hospital beds by as much as 1/3
  • Patient neglect is routine at some hospitals, including some top-rated ones
  • In the name of cost-cutting, doctors now need to seek approval for pretty basic procedures

But remember, as Nancy Pelosi said, we need government healthcare so ‘artistes’ don’t need to get a job so they can keep their healthcare.

Obama: The Atonal President

[Still busy as heck, but couldn’t resist blogging this:] James Taranto has a hilarious musical metaphor for the 0bama administration: The atonal president.

“Audiences Hate Modern Classical Music Because Their Brains Cannot Cope”: an arresting headline from London’s Sunday Telegraph. This is the argument of a new book, “The Music Instinct” by Philip Ball:

Mr Ball believes that many traditional composers such as Mozart, Bach and Beethoven subconsciously followed strict musical formula to produce music that was easy on the ear by ensuring it contained patterns that could be picked out by the brain.
In the early twentieth century, however, composers led by [Arnold] Schoenberg began to rally against the traditional conventions of music to produce compositions which lack tonal centres, known as atonal music.
Under their vision, which has been adopted by many subsequent classical musicians, music no longer needed to be confined to a home note or chord.
But such atonal music has been badly received by audiences and critics who have found it difficult to follow.

These modern compositions “confuse listeners’ brains,” Ball argues, and thus put them off. The idea may have broader implications:

Dr Aniruddh Patel, a researcher at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California, said that tonal music such as traditional classical music uses some of the same mechanisms needed for processing language.
“This may be one reason such music is congenial to the human mind,” he said. “It may be a reason why atonal music is more difficult when first encountered.”

Hmm, does this remind you of anything? Here’s a hint:

Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people.

That, of course, is President Obama, in his State of the Union Address, on the failure of ObamaCare. His excuse so closely parallels Ball’s explanation of modern music that you could have written essentially the same headline: “Voters Hate ObamaCare Because Their Brains Cannot Cope.”

But what’s striking about the Telegraph piece is that Ball and others who study this stuff go out of their way to avoid making any qualitative judgments. After explaining that Schoenberg’s music is “fragmented,” making it “harder for the brain to find structure,” Ball adds this disclaimer: “That isn’t to say, of course, that it is impossible to listen to, it is just harder work. It would be wrong to dismiss such music as a racket.”

Yet David Huron of Ohio State University describes such music this way: “The result is an overwhelming feeling of confusion, and the constant failures to anticipate what will happen next means that there is no pleasure from accurate prediction.”

So the modern compositions sound disorderly and give the listener no pleasure. Is this not the definition of a racket? Ball seems to be suggesting that while these pieces are aesthetically displeasing because they are defective in form, some sort of underlying substance makes them worthy. But this is bunk. The value of music consists only in its appeal to the human mind.

On this point, the analogy to politics and policy breaks down. It is possible for a good policy to be inartfully presented (or, for that matter, for a skilled politician to make a bad policy attractive). The claim that ObamaCare is a good idea but Obama presented it badly is not inherently absurd, as is the claim that a piece of music is good even though it sounds bad.

Or is it? Obama is asking voters to believe that ObamaCare is a good idea and that the reason they think it is a bad idea is that he isn’t good at persuasion. But if he can convince them of that, he can convince them of anything–which means that the claim that he is bad at persuasion is wildly false.

The result is an overwhelming feeling of confusion. It would be wrong not to dismiss ObamaCare as a racket.

In both senses of the word 😉