Monthly Archives: November 2009

A New Low

Unbelievable.  Then again, maybe it IS believable.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Wednesday night injected race into the national debate on health care, saying any black lawmaker who votes against President Obama’s sweeping overhaul isn’t really black, the Hill newspaper reported.

“We even have blacks voting against the health care bill,” Jackson reportedly said at a Congressional Black Caucus reception Wednesday night honoring the 25th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s run for president.

“You can’t vote against health care and call yourself a black man,” the Hill reported him saying.

What an ass.

And on a second note:

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.

Sadly, This is What it Takes

Perhaps not so sad after all.  One of Tzun Tzu’s admonitions is that we should never want the current circumstances to be anything other than they are.  What is; IS.  So, we should waste no gnashing of teeth on the fact that the government can’t distribute well, but that the private sector can:

Raleigh, N.C. — Walmart stores in central North Carolina will offer the H1N1 vaccine in conjunction with Mollen Immunization between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

A total of 20 stores will be selling H1N1 shots.  What are the chances that Walmart runs out?  Or makes you stand in the cold rain to get your shot?

Pay to Play

When the government is in control, normal incentives go out the window.  The signal to get better is gone.  The signal to get cheaper is gone.  The signal to innovate is gone.  What’s left is a stagnant paradigm and an unending battle to improve on the obsolete.  But every once in a while, something like this comes along:

A $20 donation to Rosewood Middle School would have gotten a student 20 test points – 10 extra points on two tests of the student’s choosing. That could raise a B to an A, or a failing grade to a D.

If we can’t teach ’em to learn, teach ’em to buy!

Rookie of the Year

Gawd.  Obama continues to make the Rookie of the Year race close.  This gem is in response to critics of his Administration’s decision to try the 9/11 masterminds in NYC.

“(What) I think we have to break is this fearful notion that somehow our justice system can’t handle these guys,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News.

Asked if he understood why some people were offended by trying the men in U.S. courts, he replied: “I don’t think it will be offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.”

So, the President, trying to showcase the US Judicial system, declares that the defendants are guilty and, AND, he has passed judgment too!

Not that I don’t agree.  Of course I think they are guilty and should die for their crimes.  But I am not the President of the United States.

I just wish that Obama would remember that he IS a little more often.

Conservative

I love it.  I really love that “ah-haa” moment when the light bulb clicks and someone sees what’s really happening.  When the fog dissipates and the realization of the truth occurs.  I simply LOVE that moment.

Taxes and the economy are concepts that don’t register with younger folks; never did with me.  I didn’t make enough to really PAY taxes and I had jobs that really didn’t put me in full view of the economy.  In short, I just didn’t care.

So it is refreshing to see the “care” start to sink in for some of these folks:

“Well, for one, I know nobody wants to pay taxes for anybody else to go to the doctor — I don’t,” said Kate Kuhn, 20, of Acworth, Ga. “I don’t want to pay for somebody to use my money that I could be using for myself.”

How awesome is that?  Especially enlightening is the part where young Kate mentions that she might be better served “using the for herself.”

And maybe it’s not so much that I didn’t care when I was younger, it’s that no one took time, including me, to tell me what the trade offs were.

For example, according to Pew in October, nearly 82% say they favored a ban on policies took into account pre-existing conditions.  When a separate poll explained that such a ban would result in higher premiums support for that ban went down to 43%.

Another example, mandatory coverage:  67% of those asked were in favor of all people having health insurance.  But when asked with the added detail that those who failed to obtain such coverage would face Federal penalties, support plunged to 28%.

“I think it’s crazy. I think it infringes on our rights as a citizen, forcing us to do these things,” said Eli Fuchs, 26, of Marietta, Ga.

Music.  Sweet Music!

Additional Cost of Health Care

The big knock against private insurance is that profit is immoral.  “How  can you make money off other people being sick?”  That’s all we hear from the Leftists when it comes to this plan.

The thing is, these people have no clue, ZERO, about the role that profits play.  Profits, see, are the thing that incent “better behavior.”  If you have a lemonade stand and are making stupid money, I am going to start my own lemonade stand.  And how am I going to make money or steal your customers?  I’m going to have to challenge you on price or quality.  Maybe both.

THAT’S the power of profits.  When it comes to making sure the public is getting as good a deal as possible, you have to make sure that the incentives are aligned as such.  If you want to have the lemonade drinking public better served, you can use lots and lots of tools and regulations and edicts.  Or.  Or you can allow for free market and the profit signal.

Oh, the other benefit of those who like to make profits?  They don’t like to see their money just flushed down the toilet.

WASHINGTON — The government paid more than $47 billion in questionable Medicare claims including medical treatment showing little relation to a patient’s condition, wasting taxpayer dollars at a rate nearly three times the previous year.

Excerpts of a new federal report, obtained by The Associated Press, show a dramatic increase in improper payments in the $440 billion Medicare program that has been cited by government auditors as a high risk for fraud and waste for 20 years.

For you Leftists out there; that better than 10% just in WASTE.  Insurance companies bring in about 2-3% in PROFIT.  That’s 3-5 times the difference.  Talk about waste.

When Swine Fly

Yowza!  Into day 5 of my personal experience with the Pig Flu.  Very not fun.  Very.  On the upside-I shouldn’t  need the vaccine now.  Which, it would appear, is a good thing; ’cause there ain’t none.

BARRE – Dozens of central Vermonters were turned away from an H1N1 flu vaccination clinic Saturday morning after health-care workers quickly ran through the 500 doses they had on hand.

By 8 a.m. – an hour before the clinic was supposed to begin – a queue of flu-wary residents braced against a cold and persistent November drizzle outside the Barre Auditorium. By 10:30, an hour and a half before the clinic was scheduled to end, nurses closed the doors.

And here’s the best part:

Vaccinations at Saturday’s clinic were reserved for people in “priority groups” who, by virtue of age or medical condition, are more prone to serious complications if they contract the virus, commonly known as swine flu.

Already the alternate rationing has begun.  See, normally when there is a properly functioning supply and demand market, the price of a good will rise with the demand.  This increase in price will signal to the market an unmet need, or, a better way to allocate scare resources.  New producers enter the market adding to the supply and delivering the required amount of the good to service that demand.  But when the supply and demand does not depend on price, the market does not respond.  At this point, the supply is determined by fiat.  And instead of being treated like an investment; it’s a cost.  A cost that must be minimized.  Oh, an added benefit of market exposure.  Iin order to compete, the price of the good will come down, or, barring that, undesirable features will be removed:

a queue of flu-wary residents braced against a cold and persistent November drizzle outside the Barre Auditorium.

Government Rationing

Doesn't this look like your last trip to the grocery store?

And new ones added:

I trek 25 miles from Rockville to the Fairfax store every month or so because it offers so much. First, there’s the Market Cafe for lunch, then the Wine Cellar to stock up on our favorites. Then we spend probably an hour strolling through the store, buying the best and most varied produce I’ve ever seen, meats that are packaged to last more than a day or two, and all those odd products I can’t find elsewhere. When we check out, not only is the cashier the most pleasant anywhere, but the grand total is competitive with other local stores.

or this one:

“They have ‘regular’ groceries at very competitive prices, but they also have ‘higher end’ gourmet foods. Most importantly, they have a willing, helpful and friendly staff almost too anxious to help a customer.”

Crazy free market!  Trying to profit by selling FOOD!  Everyone has a right to food!

Such utter bullshit.

Welcome Wagon

The Pink Elephant has moved. And she has a name; Tabitha Hale

Good luck in Washington; do us proud!

Adult Talk in the World

This assessment should shake up team Obama:

BEIJING — China’s top banking regulator issued a sharp critique of U.S. financial management only hours before President Barack Obama commenced his first visit to the Asian giant, highlighting economic and trade tensions that threaten to overshadow the trip.

Liu Mingkang, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said that a weak U.S. dollar and low U.S. interest rates had led to “massive speculation” that was inflating asset bubbles around the world. It has created “unavoidable risks for the recovery of the global economy, especially emerging economies,” Liu said.

The situation is “seriously impacting global asset prices and encouraging speculation in stock and property markets.”

I LOVE getting schooled by China!

schools in session

Freddie and Fannie: Just the Beginning

I am convinced that Fannie and Freddie were the causes that led to the current recession.  I am sure that when incentives were created to give people money who had no or little ability to pay that money back, bad bad things were going to happen.

But somehow all of that got lost in all of the fall out.  What we heard was how evil those greedy corporations are.  What we heard was how Wall Street doesn’t look after Main Street.  What we heard was that it was Big Corporations that are somehow “Too Big To Fail” that brought this country to its knees.

What we didn’t hear was the story behind Fannie and Freddie:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Freddie Mac, the second largest provider of U.S. residential mortgage funding, on Friday posted a loss of $5 billion in the third quarter and predicted it would need more government support amid a “prolonged deterioration” in housing.

And why is the company losing so much money?

delinquencies worsened on loans it guarantees.

Well, heck, what can ya expect?  The little brother of Fannie Mae is surly the runt of the litter and can only look on as big sister excels, right?  Right?

Its larger rival Fannie Mae on Thursday said it would need $15 billion from the U.S. Treasury after a whopping $18.9 billion third-quarter loss.

Whoops!  Didn’t see THAT one coming.

But hey, Fannie and Freddie–ya know, they are players but really, they aren’t THAT big; are they?  Or are they?

Results at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are widely watched as a barometer of the U.S. housing market since they own or back nearly half of outstanding mortgages.

Jeepers.  By golly, they ARE that of a player in the market!  And maybe, just maybe, when those two players begin to change the way in which they do business, the rest of the market attempts to adapt?

In other words,  I guess what I’m saying is that when Fannie and Freddie, backed by good Ol’ Unc [that’s the USofA to you and me], begin too incent market forces to provide mortgages to people who can’t afford mortgages, you end up with a bunch of:

horse.shit

But hey, what’s $51.7 billion between friends?  Or even $60.9 billion?  At least your good for it, right?

Starting in 2010, the company will begin accounting for $1.8 trillion in mortgage-backed securities it guarantees on its balance sheet to meet new guidelines. This will increase interest income and interest expenses, and could have a significant negative impact on net worth, it said.

Hmm, something smells in the State of Denmark.

Shares of Freddie Mac were flat at $1.23 in light after-hours trading following the results.

And if you’ll buy shares at a buck 23, I have some fertilizer for your garden…