Thursday, December 31, 2009

Karl Rove, I agree with you *vomits*

by Cylinsier

In one of today's political ticker articles, CNN reports on some of Karl Rove's suggested New Year's Resolutions for Barack Obama and his administration. Shockingly, they are appropriate and far from partisan. Maybe Rove's divorce has caused him to rethink his life. Or maybe I'm just becoming more conservative...nah, Rove must have rethought his life.

From CNN's story, the first suggestion is:

Mr. Obama should work on his habit of leaving a room of people with deeply divided opinions thinking he agrees with all of them. That leads to disagreements over essential issues, like the meaning of his pledge to begin withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011 and the nature of the new military mission there.

Wow. Very insightful, you fat bastard. I agree, President Obama's biggest mistakes so far have often resulted from a lack of initiative in taking sides. Obama needs to tell people where he stands and stop trying to please everyone. Just please the people who voted for you.

Rove on Biden:

Every time he opens his mouth, the West Wing staff uses him to make the president look good by comparison.

Well, yeah. But maybe that's part of the plan! No, seriously, I agree again. Biden has been much better of late, though.

Back to the administration in general:

Why not resolve to have a few less "historic" moments? How many can one president really have, anyway? A little more grace toward his predecessor would help him, as would less TV time. He is wearing out his welcome and his speechwriters—judging by the quality of their work lately.

There's stink of some partisan sniping here, but a grain of truth as well. I get what Rove is saying. There does seem to be a preoccupation with setting this administration up to be the best ever. How about we just get shit done and let history decide how good it was? But fuck Rove on the "wearing out his welcome" comment. He's the President, bitch. Get over it. And "less TV time?" Really? Consider the age we live in.

On Desiree Rogers, who is in charge of White House guests:

[She] should take a lead from Santa Clause and make her list and check it the White House gates.

El oh El. You rotund fuck. I agree again, though. The biggest embarrassment to this administration so far, in MY HUMBLE opinion, is those clowns who got through the gate at that party. Are you shitting me? Secret Service must have been on crack at the time.

So what does this mean, me agreeing with Karl Rove? Did hell freeze over? Maybe, but neither he nor I believe in hell. Whatever it is, let's put partisan politics aside and admit there is always room for improvement. Thank you Karl Rove for saying some stuff that lightened my day a little. Now go jump off a cliff.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The healthcare battle nears conclusion, but who are the winners?

by Cylinsier

The highest hurdles have been cleared. Both houses of Congress have passed their mangled, well-intentioned versions of health reform, each resembling a good plan in some ways and yet each bearing the scars of political machinations. The final step is cobbling the two together into something both houses will agree on, and then sending it on to the President for it to become official.

There are a lot of people, on both sides of the aisle, calling for this thing to be totally dismantled. They want a fresh start, and I don't totally disagree with them. There is enough in these bills to dislike that I too would like to take it back to the drawing board, but that is unrealistic at this point. One way or the other, there seems to be little if any chance that the Democratic majorities will remain the same in either house of Congress after next year's elections. Considering the paper thin margins by which each bill passed, and the nauseatingly partisan politics employed by the right and conservative left in attempting to stonewall this bill, there is no second chance. If this bill is tossed, then we have to be okay with that being all she wrote on this issue until the system collapses, because nothing is going to be done about it sooner.

There are also a lot of good reasons to see this bill passed. Admittedly, some are going to be of the petty nature; I can't be the only one that allows himself a bit of satisfaction in thinking about how hard the right has fought on their platform of lies and deceit, only to still see a bill passed (wishful thinking in many ways; the GOP is most likely secretly patting themselves on the back for doing so good a job of neutering the bill). But at the end of the day, whether or not this bill is signed and passed should depend on whether or not it improves the system in any way for the people of this country. Nothing else should play into it.

To determine whether or not the bill is an improvement, we need to understand it. It is my opinion that the final product is going to be most similar to the Senate version, as the House is already signaling making concessions to favor it. So what does the Senate version look like? According to Reuters, the bill includes:

  • a mandate for US citizens to purchase health insurance.
  • Federal subsidies for individuals up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line.
  • Federal tax benefits for small businesses.
  • Penalties for employers who do not provide plans to employees when said employees tap into subsidies to purchase coverage.
  • the creation of State-based insurance exchanges.
  • contracting between OPM (which overseas federal insurance plans) and private insurers to create non-profit plans available in the exchanges.
  • a medicaid increase in all states who's Senator didn't play mercenary with their vote.
  • the removal of the preexisting conditions copout.
  • the removal of higher charges based on gender, health history or employment.
  • the removal of insurers' ability to drop people when they get sick.
  • the removal of lifetime limits on coverage.
  • requiring insurers to cover preventative care.
  • a provision to streamline paperwork as well as other measures to reduce overhead costs.

Really, the House version isn't terribly different in most ways; its just some of the numbers that differ. The big difference is the public option, which existed in the House version, but which seems dead now. There was also a medicare increase floating around, but Senator Lieberman killed that.

So why are the above things good? Well, the mandate may not make people jump for joy, but its important to understand why that is included before being critical of it. If you remove insurers' ability to deny coverage because of preexisting conditions (and you should), but do not mandate insurance, then you will have a huge number of people who don't buy insurance until right after they get sick, then get a policy quick to cover costs, then cancel. The system can support that kind of use for approximately 3 seconds before succumbing. The mandate is probably the least popular part of the bill excluding debates of cost, but it has to be there or the whole thing falls apart.

The rest should be pretty straightforward unless you're a total asshole. There's nothing there that you can argue doesn't benefit a large number of people. So let's draw the line in the sand right here and make it crystal clear: the people that are against this bill have one argument, and that is cost. Sure, these are all good things, but how much of my paycheck do I have to fork over for it? Well, I don't think we're truly going to know that until the deal is done. Note that most of the above benefits don't kick in until 2014, so we'll sure have plenty more time to talk about it. But to say whether or not the cost outweighs the benefits, we're just going to have to wait and see.

I can tell you that the cost would have been nil, or even negative, if some people had just stopped bitching early on and let us have a public option or single payer, but there was too much money in politicians' back pockets and too much propaganda on Fox News for that to happen. Really, if we get boned by this bill, we have no one to blame but ourselves; for being gullible, for not putting the right people in office, and for succumbing to our own arrogance and selfishness. In a way, this bill failing might be a good thing for us. Americans seem to have a hard time learning by any means but the hard way nowadays.

But the reason I think this bill needs to be passed is twofold: first, I do firmly believe that more people will benefit from this bill than people will suffer from costs. I'm not saying there won't be a few people that see prices go up without a change in quality of coverage. Actually, most people will probably see no change at all. But the people that see their quality of life improve because of this bill will outweigh, probably by far, the people that see any kind of degradation. That's enough reason to support it for me. It seems everyone in support of this bill and reform in general also views the issue that way, while everyone against it seems to think only of how it will affect them personally. Morally condescending comments about being selfish pricks aside, the world and specifically this country does not run on the whims of a select few, regardless of how much money you have or your class status. The needs of the many outweigh that of the few. That's not an argument on what philosophy everyone should subscribe to, that's a law of nature.

The second reason I support this bill's passage is because I firmly believe that the people of this country, when it comes down to brass tacks, have just enough collective intelligence to recognize that any shortcomings of this bill are a result of it not going far enough as opposed to too far. If we start talking about making changes to this bill in a few years, it will be a move towards single payer, not away. I believe that because that is how things have always worked in this country. Just look at Civil Rights. It didn't happen overnight. There were baby steps, in some cases frustratingly and dishearteningly slow steps, towards something that actually worked the way it was supposed to. We might have had a shot at changing this overnight, but we missed it. That's not a reason to stand still for another decade or so. We need to take the first step to complete the journey. Comprehensive reform is still a ways off, but if this bill passes, it'll be just a bit closer.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

House Dem to Switch to Republican

by Cylinsier

Per CNN's political ticker, Parker Griffith of Alabama will switch from Democrat to Republican by the time he runs for reelection next year. If you were wondering, yes, he was a Blue Dog.

I think we're all thinking the same thing here, and that is, "Really? Alabama? You were a Congressman from Alabama and you didn't think we all didn't already know you were a Republican?"

I mean, shit, he was a Blue Dog from the bible belt. Kind of like when Lance Bass came out of the closet. Everyone just nodded and went on with their day. But I do have to give Griffith some credit. At least you came out. The other Blue Dogs still want to pretend they are Democrats. Kudos for wearing your true colors with pride.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

More Alan Grayson Fireworks

By Ellipses

Grayson starts the shame-game of rattling off death stats for specific elected officials at about the 15:00 mark. It's not really a secret if I were able to, I'd cut myself in half so that part of me could live and vote in Al Franken's district and part of me could live and vote in Alan Grayson's district.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Here's what happened in the Senate today

By Ellipses

A meaningful amendment is actually proposed... and what happens? Coburn shits on it, mashes it into the carpet with his feet, and lights it on fire.

Coburn requires that Sanders' single payer amendment be read in its entirety (767 pages). The clerk reads it for a few hours and then Sanders withdraws his amendment and proceeds to use his 30 minutes to say "Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you're cool, fuck you, fuck you, I'm out!"

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dick Armey really is a brigade of cocks

By Ellipses

And another charmer by America's favorite lesbian:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Franken Flogs Thune

By Ellipses

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Bend over America, Lieberman isn't done

by Cylinsier

As reported by CNN, it seems that Joey L has had a chat with his wife about how expanding Medicare to cover those 55 and older who do not have insurance will hurt their income from her health care lobbying. After some soul searching, they've decided that they aren't willing to risk that income, and that fucking Americans over is a much more palatable course of action.

Seriously, who is this guy kidding? Just put the R next to your name now and quit being coy. The soon-to-be ex-senator's paper-thin excuse (that's a lot of hyphens) is, and I quote, "We don't need to keep adding on to the back of this horse until the horse breaks down and we get nothing done." Gee, that sounds an awful lot like the argument in favor of reforming the current health care system. You know, the one that's going to collapse under its own weight in, I don't know, about ten years. Which would serve us right at this point. I kind of hope we don't do anything and it comes back to bite us in the ass. We obviously need to learn the hard way.

Let's first establish that expanding Medicare does NOT add things on the back of this so-called horse. The reason most of us pay so much money for health insurance is because you are paying premiums to cover the risk of your entire insurance pool. Yes, that means those of us, like me, who are comparatively young and healthy, are paying higher premiums than we need to to cover the asses of the just-shy-of-medicare aged folks who may or may not be getting their arteries scraped next week on our dime. Now, not even most of those will be eligible for Medicare because you can't get it at 55 unless you are uninsured, so a lot won't even change. All it does is take those high riskers on no or unaffordable plans and give them a new option. Its such a vanilla solution that you have to be a total prick to oppose it. However, theoretically, it puts the high risk patients on a plan that already exists to cover high risk patients and provides incentive for private insurers to lower the rates for the rest of us. Why would they follow through on that? I don't know, they probably won't because they like to make money, but that's the theory. Will it raise the cost of Medicare? Yes, in theory, by a very small margin that should by all rights be offset by the huge savings the private insurers will more likely than not try to pocket instead of passing back to us. So really, Lieberman is right, but not because the plan changes too much. He's right because it doesn't do enough.

Basically, its a plan that plays right into the Republicans' hands; it allows the private insurers a chance to slip even higher profits by us. And they STILL won't vote for it. That's the level of assholery we're dealing with.

Of course, in the long run, it would be beneficial because its one decade's worth of patients closer to covering all of us in a single payer system, and maybe that's what scares them. Another part of this current bill increases the bar for who can buy Medicaid. Yet another increases the age of dependents who can stay on their parents' plans to something absurd like 30 (I guess accounting for the WoW crowd who live in their parents' offense cause I'm a gamer too). And even another aspect had something to do with a government agency designed to regulate all this. So yeah, it does have its sneaky socialist aspects which can seem scary to old white men who remember when you were supposed to shoot anyone who claimed to be a socialist, the irony of them subsisting almost entirely on social programs at that age notwithstanding.

But the GOP isn't going to be happy until nothing at all gets passed, and they have Lieberman playing the role of inside man in their scheme now. It calls to mind the saying, "beware of the wounded animal." The GOP is cowering in the corner on three legs, but I'll be damned if you can't get within 20 feet of them without getting mauled right now.

As a quick aside, I love Mitch McConnell's quote in the CNN story on the bill: "We do not believe this bill, this nearly 2,100-page monstrosity, is real health care reform." Yeah, and people did not believe the world was round 600 years ago. Its like every time you turn around, the bill has grown another handful of pages all on its own, despite the fact that the Dems make huge cuts to it constantly. I'm setting the over-under of the bill's length by January 1st at 2,300 pages. I'll take the over.

So what's the end game here? Do we get a bill or not? And is it worth it? Well, we're going to get something, considering the Democrats are set on cutting as much of the bill away as it takes to get the needed votes. However, I think its safe to assume that it will not make things better at this point, and in fact might make them worse in the immediate future. But that's okay with me as long as there is a long term outcome that will be favorable. We have to face a fact here, and that fact is there is going to be a difficult period of time ahead for Americans and its going to last about 20 to 30 years. See, when the last of the baby boomers hit retirement age, we're going to be in the unenviable position of going through a couple of decades where the working class is outnumbered by the retired class. This isn't the boomers' fault. Its not like they all got together and said, "hey, let's all get born together so we can fuck the system for our kids and grandkids down the road." But that's what's going to happen. There is no model for a system that can produce more energy than it consumes; we are going to be faced with government programs that hemorrhage money for a while. That doesn't mean the system is broken. It just means the burden is unbalanced.

There will be people who try to imply that the system is broken and will try to have it demolished at that time, and it will be important to avoid that temptation. Its very easy to want to do what benefits you at the expense of future generations, and very difficult to inconvenience yourself for the benefit of future generations, but it is the latter that we must strive for. Its going to be a hard sell. And really, its starting right now. We have a situation where we need to secure the health of our citizens not just now, but for generations ahead, and the opponents are the shortsighted among us. They are those that do not consider or care about those that will come after they die. They care only about themselves. And that's what it comes down to; like all past arguments over government programs and all future ones to come, the health care debate is a fight between doing what is easy and what is right. However, we cannot do both.

In Congress, the motivations are more likely about doing what you think your voters want; let's not pretend that we have close to 60 heroes working for us there (or close to 40 if you are on the other side). They might be generally decent people, but they are political mercenaries at the end of the day. That's just how the system works. That's why, in spite of what the libertarian and anarchists crowds say, we must remember that we as voters do ultimately control what our country does and does not do; we control it by telling our congressmen and congresswomen what to do. If you voted in the last election and you write a letter to your representation, and everyone else does the same, they will listen. They have to, or else they lose their jobs. They are our employees and it works. If you live in Connecticut, where ever other member of Congress from your state does not have their heads buried up their asses, send Lieberman a note and remind him who his bosses are. The rest of the country will thank you for it eventually.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Glenn Beck Pure Gold

by Cylinsier

Oh, this must be why Glenn Beck's show is 20% lunatic ravings and 80% gold commercials. Gotta hold on to that one last sponsor while you can!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Beck - Not So Mellow Gold
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Grayson Tells Cheney to "STFU"

By Ellipses

This is turning out to be a good week... so far, Rachel Maddow has torn a "Cure the Gay" dude a new asshole and Alan Grayson has advised Dick Cheney to shut the fuck up. If I can get Al Franken to call Glenn Beck a pudding-dicked taint-licker, it will be somewhat of a holy trinity :-)

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This is why the GOP is irrelevant

From Mitch McConnell's Internetz (Notice the dates):

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rachel Maddow is my Favorite Lesbian

By Ellipses

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Tim Murphy Represents the Town of Selfish, Pennsylvania. Population: about 1,200

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By Ellipses

Call it chaos theory, 6 degrees of separation, or simply coincidence. A spur-of-the-moment phone call this past summer resulted in the most entertaining piece of junk mail I've received in a long time.

You may remember the video of a guy chasing congressmen and senators around D.C. trying to elicit a firm yay or nay response to the "birther" question. Some expressed "concerns" that the birthers "have a point," while others bolted in the opposite direction or hung out in a book store for an inordinately long period of time. That last one was Tim Murphy, republican congressman representing the 18th district of Pennsylvania.

Since I didn't have shit-else to do at the time, I gave Mr. Murphy's offices a call (both the D.C. one and his home base office in Upper St. Clair). I spoke to a nice intern named Andrew at the USC office. I asked what Mr. Murphy's official position was on the birther issue and was in turn asked what I thought of the issue. Naturally, I asked if my response would determine Mr. Murphy's position and was told that Andrew could not comment explicitly on Mr. Murphy's position, but he was interested in knowing what his constituency thought of it. I call bullshit, but I'm not going to take this up with an intern. Anyway, I provide the 411 on my identities and get added to a mailing list, apparently.

And on Friday, that tree bore big, delicious fruit!

I feel almost privileged to be the recipient of the 4-color folio-o-horseshit that Mr. Murphy no doubt deposited into my mailbox DIRECTLY from his putrid, gaping anus while balanced precariously out the passenger's side window of his sedan: The RESULTS of his 2009 Healthcare Survey!

So, what do my fellow Keystoners have to say about doctorin' in Amurka?

The mailer I received has some charted highlights, but the pertinent part of this is the url to view the "entire survey and more detailed information."

The .pdf on Murphy's website is what I am using, rather than the bits and pieces in the mailer.

The first major thing I notice is that there is no mention of sample size, level or method of stratification, survey methodology such as survey format, method of data collection, margin of error, date of data collection, or an indication of whether the sample was representative, and if so, representative of what population?

The personal message from Mr. Murphy indicates that "thousands of people" responded to the survey. To put that in perspective, Nielson research extrapolates Pittsburgh DMA viewing statistics from a sample of fewer than 300 households in the Tri-State area. To create a database representative of census demographics for the Pittsburgh Metro Area with a margin of error of +/- 3%, a sample of 1,000 individuals is sufficient. "Thousands" of respondents, if stratafied and representative, would be severe overkill for accuracy of representing the 18th congressional district.

"Similar to the national average, 97% of respondents in the 18th Congressional District do have health insurance."

The word "similar" may have debatable meanings, but when I look at the various numbers on the uninsured in America, 30-45 million is a FAR CRY from 3% of the total population. The national average is more like 10-15%.

Pennsylvania, on the whole, has about 13% of its residents uninsured. Mr. Murphy represents an older, more affluent district, but goddamn! 97%? That's Massachusetts-style coverage right there! I won't call bullshit on this, though, because I can't find stats on health insurance coverage saturation by congressional district. If anyone else knows of a source, please chime in.

Of this near-fully insured population, 29% purchase their own insurance, 52% have employer-sponsored insurance, and 37% have medicaid or medicare. Obviously, there is some overlap in supplemental policies in addition to possessing government-run insurance.

85.8% of respondents rate their coverage as excellent or good, while only 13.2% rate it as fair or poor. On the mailer, the chart shows 1% rating their coverage as "Other." Normally, with a rating question such as this, you would either use a scale of 1-4, 1-5, 1-7, or 1-10, with an option for "don't know." "Other" wouldn't even be a possible response.

40% of respondents "believe America's current healthcare system is not broken." Apparently, 40% of Mr. Murphy's constituency live under rocks. Luckily, 44% believe that it IS broken... and 16% probably can't figure out into which hole they should stick their food.

1 out of 3 respondents think health care should be a top priority of the president and congress. 29% believe it "should be made a medium and low priority."

85% of respondents saw their health care costs increase over the past year. Then, there is this interesting statement: "What causes the increase? This year $2.5 trillion will be spent in the U.S. healthcare system, of which $800 billion to $1 trillion is wasted or misused." First, is that figure DIFFERENT from last year? Has there been an increase, in the last 12 months, in the amount that was wasted or misused? If not... if that figure is static, then why the increase? If 800 billion dollars was wasted last year and 800 billion dollars will be wasted this year, why did health care costs increase? Secondly, isn't 800 billion dollars within the ballpark of the CBO's cost estimate for the most recent incarnation of the public option? Why isn't Mr. Murphy advocating for a public option with a mandate that it be financed in part through savings extracted from eliminating waste and misuse?

More than 58% of respondents oppose the idea of the government requiring an individual to buy coverage. 58%... of a group of people that is 97% insured. So, just about every one of these folks has insurance, but they don't want the government to require all those uninsured people to have coverage... which is exactly the reason that their costs have increased (not because of waste and misuse).

60% of people think that people on medicaid should be able to buy a private policy. 56% of people think people on medicaid should be given tax credits to buy insurance. I'm just wondering... how many people on medicaid pay enough in taxes that a credit would be enough to cover the cost of insurance? Policies can easily cost 500 dollars a month for a young, healthy person. How many people who are eligible for medicaid pay 6,000 dollars a year in taxes?

Bar graph number 10 appears to be constructed with n-size on the y axis, that is, the actual population of respondents for each question. It looks like about 1,200 respondents, total, responding to that question. Of those, 400 (35% of 1,500) cited "high out of pocket costs" as the main concern with their current health insurance plan. The "other" bar is at about 375 respondents (31%). Within the "other" response, at least 7.75% of responses could have been grouped into "high out of pocket costs" since they are responses like "co-pays too high." This puts "cost" as a primary concern for about 43% of respondents.

Graph #14 offers some interesting insight into the perspective of those who responded to the survey. 66% of respondents say that people on medicaid should have the option of buying private insurance. Doesn't everyone have the option to buy private insurance? Can't every one of us go onto Ætna's, or BC/BS's, or Cigna's website and buy a policy? Isn't the reason that people are on Medicaid (and yes, it's medicAID that is mentioned in the question text) that they can't afford private insurance and they don't get affordable insurance from their employer? Again with the poor people!

Graph #16 just evokes a question of semantics. Should people be allowed to purchase policies from different states? 70% say yes and I have no problem with that. My question, though, is this: If an insurance exchange is set up and various insurers can put a low cost plan into the exchange (along with a public option)... if I bought insurance through that exchange, would I only be able to buy insurance from a Pennsylvania insurer? I doubt it. I would expect the exchange to be a central repository of insurance products, which would be offered to all Americans, regardless of what state they live in.

After the aforementioned graphs, we have a string of questions that illustrate how unwilling people are to pay any taxes for reform.
  • 76% don't want to pay a national sales tax
  • 83% don't want higher payroll taxes
  • 91% don't want higher taxes for married people
  • 93% don't want a tax on their mortgage
  • 76% don't want a cell phone tax
  • 56% don't want a junk food tax
  • 54% don't want an alcohol tax
  • 92% don't want a tax on charitable donations
  • 86% don't want a higher income tax
  • 56% don't want a tax on employers who DON'T offer insurance
  • 91% don't want a tax on their health insurance
  • 62% don't want to tax people who DON'T pay for their insurance
  • 95% don't want a tax on health care services
  • 84% don't want a tax on health care savings accounts
  • 94% don't want a tax on prescription drugs
  • 72% don't want an oil refinery tax
  • 87% don't want a power company tax
  • 52% don't want taxes on US companies who do business overseas
  • 89% don't want a tax on dividend income
  • 78% don't want a tax on capital gains
  • 93% don't want an inheritance tax

A couple of "poor man cross tabbing" observations:
48% of people DO want to tax companies who "do business overseas" but only 11% want a tax on dividends and 22% want a tax on capital gains. So, some people want to tax the multinationals on the front end but presumably don't want to decrease their own personal income from those companies. I wonder if they realize that "doing business overseas" doesn't actually mean "sending jobs to China."

More people are in favor of "affect me now" taxes (income, sales, payroll, cell phone, investment) than are in favor of an inheritance tax that would be used to pay for health care. Now, I am pretty much opposed to inheritance taxes on principle, but it seems that some respondents are more concerned with what happens to your material wealth after you're dead than they are with your present-day income potential. Maybe if these folks had more of a functionalist perspective, we could get beyond the arguments of abstraction.

38% of respondents want to tax people who don't pay for their insurance. This is where some dialogue with the Murphy camp would come in handy. Who are these people? Are we talking about veterans and old people or are we talking about poor people on medicaid again? I mean, do 1 out of 3 people want a poor tax to reduce the cost of their own health insurance (since 97% of these people are insured)?

I wonder if the 95% of people who don't want a tax on health care services know that they are already paying a pretty hefty hidden tax on every MRI, CAT Scan, lab test, x-ray, and aspirin that they receive to offset the cost of treating a guy who doesn't have insurance.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

We're getting some publicity...

by Cylinsier

So we've attracted the attention of a libertarian blog with my previous post:

The Tenth Amendment Center

I can honestly say I love knowing we're getting peoples' attention. I commented on the above blog but unlike us, they do not have open comments so I am not sure if it will be posted. I hope so though! Anyway, if you want to see what kind of ire I've attracted, follow the link above. Maybe we can start a list of arch nemeses soon.

In all seriousness, they are polite folks so if any stray libertarians are looking for a good blog to frequent, this may be for you.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Libertarianism as a fashion statement

by Cylinsier

There has been a movement recently among conservatives to identify as libertarian while at the same time blatantly illustrating a total lack of understanding of what libertarianism is. Basically, it occurs when a particularly staunch conservative is railing against some perceived socialist/communist/atheist/islamist/fascist threat and then, as if to remind us that his opinions are not grounded in partisanship (which they are), he adds, "and I'm not just saying this because I'm a Republican. I'm a libertarian." Another thing we can credit Glenn Beck for, by the way.

Here's the problem: what these conservatives are really advocating when they talk about states' rights and small central government is not really libertarianism, its more anti-federalism. Libertarianism is, at is most basic level, the belief that government should not legislate social or economic freedoms. Its more or less a kind of organized anarchy. There are plenty of reasons why that system wouldn't work, but there's no reason to go into that because its not a system that these fauxbertarians are really advocating; ask someone claiming libertarianism if they are in favor of global isolationism, or legalization of all drugs, or gay marriage. You'd be hard pressed to find one that says yes.

The big difference between real libertarianism and anti-federalism is that the latter doesn't support the elimination of government from citizens' lives, just the elimination of the federal government. Its really an ideology of convenience; most of these so-called libertarians were not in favor of states' rights trumping federal law when Bush was President. Rather, its a situation of not wanting the other guy's government to be in control, which signifies a lack of respect for the way our government works in my opinion, but that's another story.

Setting aside the transparent reasoning for supporting anti-federalism, what the fauxbertarians exhibit in their outspoken support of state supremacy is a total lack of knowledge of history. While no other country that I can immediately think of has tried a style of anti-federalist government in modern history (I suppose feudalism might count if you want to go further back), the United States actually did try confederacy as a style of government. It failed miserably. In 1781, our young nation ratified the Articles of Confederation. By 1788, the founding fathers had already convened to replace it. As a Federal Union, we have lasted 221 years. As a confederacy, we lasted 7.

The problem with that Articles was that giving such great power to the different states while giving so little power to a governing body over them allowed each state too much freedom to act in their own personal interests without regard to the common good. States were free to tell their armies what to do without having to confer with other states. They were free to refuse to pay federal taxes. They were free to print their own currency and refuse to accept the currency of other states. The "United States" was more like a collection of 13 individual nations than 13 parts of a whole. Anti-federalists either do not remember learning about this time in school, or they simply refuse to acknowledge it. But just like each individual citizen has a responsibility to maintain personal order for the sake of society, each individual state had a responsibility to maintain order for the Union. And also just like individuals, without some form of governing body enforcing basic laws, there was no incentive for these states to do so under the Articles.

Anti-federalism does have one thing in common with libertarianism; both systems function on the belief that people or individual states are inherently fair and self-regulating and will ultimately make the correct decisions without being forced, and that acting for personal gain and prosperity can be achieved without harming the overall welfare of society. As history has shown us repeatedly, this is not the case by any means. The vast majority of people are short-sighted and self-serving. Allowing a system like anti-federalism to become the rule of the land would lead to eventual collapse. We tried it for 7 years before the founding fathers realized that. We teach our children in schools to learn about government from the fathers' decisions, so why do so many refuse to learn this lesson? Anti-federalism doesn't work.

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