Tuesday, December 31, 2013
On the Cusp With a Question
The price in the grocery store for marjoram or oregano, plants that are probably as difficult to grow and process as marijuana, is between 4 and 5 dollars. The price for pot, while it was illegal, was eight to twenty times that, because it included the risk factor for the grower/seller in that he or she was in danger of arrest and prosecution for producing and selling the marijuana.There was a market clearing price which the willing seller and willing buyer would agree on and the buyer was necessarily willing to pay for the risk factor to the grower/seller.
Tomorrow, there will be so small a risk factor that we can proceed as if there is none, but the growers/sellers will still price their product much higher. I can see including any sin tax that the Colorado government puts on it, but I can't see still paying for the no longer existing risk factor.
So if I'm right, prices should plummet over the next several months. I guess I'll have to visit a store to see the prices now and in the future. I'll update if I'm right.
Labels: Colorado Marijuana Legality
Thought of the Day
Eric the Contrarian
Labels: Eric the Contrarian quote
Monday, December 30, 2013
Summer Fun in the Southern Ocean
More of a journalism junket than a scientific expedition, this Russian ship full of alarmist AGW true believers is stuck in the well above average sea ice around the cold Antarctic continent. The reason we even care about this ship is that it's summer in the Southern Sea, nearly first of July to us, and these guys, looking for proof of polar amplification of global warming, have found just the opposite. It's colder and there is ever more sea ice. That is exactly what the true believers in the mid 80s promised us would not happen.
Their would-be rescuers are very close and there is little danger of any tragedy so it is safe to let the schadenfreude brim over.
The more they try to explain away the higher than average sea ice, the sillier they sound.
Labels: Global Warming; Stuck in the Ice
The NYT Entrely Loses the Point, Again.
Lawmakers who refuse to support effective gun safety measures often prefer to talk about better screening of the mentally ill to identify deranged would-be perpetrators before they can carry out mass shootings. This is, of course, a political dodge. Even in the handful of states where law enforcement agencies are trying to confiscate the guns of unstable individuals, state and federal laws too often enable the mentally ill to reclaim their guns as a right under the Second Amendment.
Many lawmakers don't support any gun control laws (now called 'gun safety measures') because none of them are effective; that is, as Thomas Jefferson, quoting Beccaria, wrote, because gun control laws only succeed in disarming the law abiding.
We never lose our 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th or 8th Amendment rights no matter what we do. For example, if we lie under oath (like President Clinton) or defame someone (like the Daily Mail did to Kiera Knightly), we still can talk about anything we want the very next second. There can be no prior restraint of our speech absent extraordinary (and so extraordinary as to be largely mythical) circumstances.
We can lose our 2nd Amendment rights and the list of things that can cause this loss, which list used to be two items long, is now low double digits long. That said, I'm OK with completely, floridly psychotic people, who are a danger to themselves or others, not being able to own a gun legally. What dodge is it, political or otherwise, to seek to enforce already existing laws that prohibit just such a thing? This editorial starts fuzzily and then falls totally off the table.
The editorial talks about a few crazy people apparently not adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution (the legal criteria on the BATFE form) who were crazy and did crazy things but did not lose their 2nd Amendment rights. I just couldn't see what those examples meant to the thesis of the editorial. Are they for taking guns from crazy people or is that merely a political dodge of the real problem? To say this thing fails to hang together logically is being very kind in criticizing it. It's like the authors were schizophrenic about guns and madness, or something. Here's the big finish.
Most mentally ill persons are not violent, though The Times’s analysis of 180 confiscation cases in Connecticut (dealing with people posing an imminent risk of injury to themselves or others) found that close to 40 percent of those cases involved people with serious mental illness. The common denominator in gun violence, however, is not deranged individuals; it is the easy access to assault rifles and other high-powered weapons afforded all Americans. A few determined states are attempting to deal with this issue, but real solutions must involve federal legislation and national standards, which are nowhere in sight.
The common denominator in gun violence is not easy access to assault rifles. Rifles used in gun violence is the opposite of a common denominator, it is a rara avis. In 2012, of the 8,855 murders where a firearm was known to have been used, there were only 332 cases where a rifle of any kind was known to have been used. That's 3.74%. Many more people were stabbed, beaten to death with clubs, etc or with hands and feet. Use of assault rifles to murder someone is even rarer, as most rifles in America do not fit the definition of assault rifle. The statement about a non-existent common denominator is just plain stupidity, a non-sequitur stupidity at that.
The common denominator for the recent, tragic mass murders seems rather to be crazy people with a gun, usually in a gun free zone. I'm thinking of Cho at Va Tech, Loughner in Arizona, Holmes in Aurora, Lanza at Newtown and Alexis in the DC Navy Yard, but I'm sure there are plenty more I've forgotten. Of these, only Holmes and Lanza used an AR 15 type rifle, the rest used a shotgun or one or two handguns. 2 out of 5 is not my idea of a common denominator. It's no one's idea of one except to the super geniuses at the NYT.
Also, and sorry to have to repeat this, again, an assault rifle by definition shoots a smaller bullet in a smaller case with less powder than a high powered rifle, or a full sized bullet with a reduced amount of powder in the smaller case than a high powered rifle (and there is no such thing as a high powered handgun). Assault rifles are in no way high-powered. More ignorance.
If you don't know squat about guns, don't try to lecture me on what we need to do about them.
Labels: NYT idiocy; Gun Control
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Don't Be Fooled
This was kind of funny in a sad way. The ASPCA is asking for $.60/day for dogs and cats while the Alyssa Milano ad for UNICEF only wanted $.50/day for starving children. Do we really care more for abandoned pets than we do for foreign children in distress?
Also, one of the things UNICEF is handing out to poor people are mosquito nets to help prevent malaria. I bet DDT would be cheaper and more effective (and we now know that, properly used, it has no deleterious effect on mammals or birds). Where's the life giving DDT? Oh, that's right, lying do-gooder Americans got it banned 50 years ago, consigning tens of millions (mainly children) in the tropics to death for no real reason.
Labels: ASPCA; Stupidity and Deceit
Thoughts on the Passing of Mikhail Kalishnikov
The reason I put the challenge quotes around his invention of the AK 47 is that I have always maintained that he merely modified/simplified the German (Hugo Schmeisser & team) design of the STG 44. Mr. Kalishnikov always denied it, but let's look at the facts. First the cons. There are interior differences in how the bolt works and locks in the AK and STG (rotating bolt versus tilting bolt). The charger handle is on opposite sides in the two assault rifles. The AK has wooden furniture in front of the receiver; the STG has a metal hand protector. That's pretty much it for the cons.
Now the pros.
Check out the photos:
So perhaps they are not peas in a pod but I for one cannot look at an AK and not think STG.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
David Suzuki Speaks About Overpopulation
The Legal Case for Israel
This is pretty long, but it is very good. (h/t Legal Insurrection) I'll post anything I think discredits this.
Thought of the Day
These are facts, historical facts, not schoolbook history, not Mr. Wells' history, but history nevertheless.
The greatest trick the Democrats ever pulled was switching their party's history with the Republicans.
Labels: Allen Guelzo quote
Friday, December 20, 2013
Labels: Modern Graces
Thursday, December 19, 2013
MSCL: Blister In The Sun.
I've been working hard on a case that has frustrated me no end these past 3 years. It was the Jordan Catalano of my W.C. caseload. We're not out of the woods, but we got some pretty good news today. I kinda feel like Clair Danes in a completely normal, heterosexual, non-cross dressing way. Whatever happened to A.J. Langer anyway?
Difficult to Believe This Is Not Photoshopped
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Note to Film-Makers
No more CGI giant scruffy beings with horrible personal grooming and broad Cockney accents.
That credit card is maxed out.
The Central Political Divide
The central divide in American politics is this: One side believes that social good can only be accomplished by governmental action--laws, regulation, taxation, programs, etc. and the other side believes that too much governmental action is the enemy of freedom and all that is good about America. The divide is between statists and libertarians. Let's see.
On gun control (not Elmer Keith triangle stance), the statists say that we need to pass new legislation to stop school shootings--we need to get sane regulation on the types of guns used, their magazine capacity, universal background checks, etc.. That is the only way to solve the problem. The libertarians say we don't need new legislation. We don't really care what types of guns people store or use to shoot paper targets. What we care about is people using guns to shoot other people. We already have laws against assault and murder and if those don't stop the shootings, then lesser punishment laws about magazine size or how mean a gun looks will have no effect on people intent on breaking the murder statute.
OK that one works. The statists have an infinite confidence in the efficacy of laws and regulation enforced by the government. The libertarian knows that it is people's moral fiber that prevents bad actions, and ever more laws have not only a diminishing effect but a positively bad effect in diluting respect for real laws. As strong a supporter for law and order as I am, a particularly stupid malum prohibitum law I am perfectly willing to ignore. I just won't tell you which ones. Somebody might read this one day.
Nicholas Kristof's Wilful Blindness
A year ago, America was shocked by the murder of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But momentum to take action has faded, and we still lose that many lives to gun violence every eight hours on average.
The price of our gun policy can be seen in this breathtaking statistic: More Americans have died from guns here in the United States since 1970 (nearly 1.4 million) than American soldiers have died in all the wars in our country’s history over more than 200 years (about 1.2 million).
Let me add that since 1970 nearly 1.8 million Americans have died in automobile accidents. This will make more sense below.
The figures used to get 26 dead from "gun violence" every 8 hours (32,300/yr and therefore 1.4 million/half century) include gun suicides, which generally make up just under 2/3 of all gun related deaths in America. I continue to think that gun suicide is not the same problem as gun murder or gun accident. Self murder is a sin and a shame, but it's not the crime that turning your desire to end a life of someone, who does not share your decision, is. Gun haters always inflate with suicides the numbers of people killed by guns in an effort to make the problem seem bigger. It's dishonest advocacy, particularly when you don't point out your numbers include gun suicides, as Mr. Kristof didn't.
Gun deaths are not a price of our gun policies. Self Defense is a God given right (to life). Crime of any sort is the unfortunate result of freedom, in that if you are truly free, you are free to break the rules. I'm going to stick with freedom always, even when I know the price is crime. We can work to reduce crime with swift, efficient and just punishment. I have been in that business, and I think I know its limitations.
Then Mr. Kristof trots out a murderer up in Attica named John Lennon (not that one) who says he's guilty of murder, "But without a gun, I would not have killed.”
I am loath to take the advice of murders. They have shown, in a very real way, that they cannot be relied on to follow any law as he has been unable to follow the primary malum in se law, against taking another's life. I have to doubt their judgment a bit. And the guy who tells me that the murderer has a valid point loses a bit of his credibility for supporting the murderer's opinion. Kristof doubles down supporting this bromide from the killer:
“I’m all for the market system,” Lennon says, “but when the products are killing machines, why shouldn’t we tighten measures to keep guns out of the hands of people like me?”
We have. If the laws prohibiting felons from having guns aren't effective, why is it likely that new laws will be?
Then Mr. Kristof makes a very silly comparison.
He’s right. Take cars, which are also potentially lethal instruments ubiquitous in America. We’ve undertaken a remarkable half-century effort to make automobiles far, far safer — and that is precisely the model for what we should do with guns.
Cars? OK, starting with the obvious. Cars are designed to carry people from one place to another. The fact they obtain a lot of speed in doing so, and that speed, combined with the mass of the car, can then become deadly to passengers and others if something goes wrong, is a byproduct of a car's central purpose. They do not exist to kill. Guns, on the other hand, only exist to kill things and hand guns really only exist to kill people. We can make cars safer because they are not "perfect killing machines" no matter what the highway carnage is over the years. Safer cars are still cars. We cannot make guns safer. Their very reason for existing is to kill. Safer guns would no longer guns. Does someone as smart as Nicholas Kristof not know this? I find that very difficult to believe.
OK, it just may be that he is talking about making guns safer by keeping them out of the hands of people like the murderer in Attica. Ah, but that's the hard part. Unless you embrace the fantasy of "future crime" you don't know who is the murderer until after the murder (that is, too late). Fat lot of good locking up Mr. Lennon for decades, and making him ineligible to posses a gun legally ever again, did for his unnamed murder victim. Fat lot of good the federal laws about felons and guns will do for Mr. Lennon's next victim if he is released and decides to kill again. The willingness to believe that a law, mere words on a page, will fix everything is astounding on the left. It is the worst form of magical thinking.
We need to approach gun safety in the same meticulous way we approach safety in motor vehicles and so many other aspects of life: It’s ridiculous that a cellphone can require a code to use, but a gun doesn’t.
It is ridiculous to think that a code would render a gun less deadly in the hands of a person willing to murder. I am rapidly beginning to think that Mr. Kristof is the typical Harvard grad, great, even brilliant, on some things but wholly lacking in common sense. Now I boldly tread into the next paragraph about a dead teacher at Newtown.
One of the heroes at Sandy Hook was Victoria Soto, a 27-year-old teacher who was killed while trying to hide and protect her students. It would be nice if Washington could show a fraction of that courage, but instead, on this issue of guns, politicians display paralysis and fecklessness. So, as Lennon writes, and he should know: “we parade through life to the relentless drumbeat of death.”
I mean no disrespect to Ms. Soto, who, I have no doubt, was very brave and did her very best with her students; but let's keep it in mind that she failed to protect those children from the murderer. It is a common complaint that the left cares more about intent and less about actual effectiveness. Had Ms. Soto defied Connecticut law and carried a gun into her classroom a year ago and shot Mr. Lanza dead before he killed one of her charges, would she still be considered a courageous hero by Mr. Kristof and his ilk? We'll never know because the laws of Connecticut created at the school a gun free zone that the school followed zealously while the murderer merely relied upon it for dozens of minutes of killing, uninterrupted by anyone capable of effectively fighting back.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote, quoting Beccaria, all gun control laws do is disarm the law abiding.
How in the world is that safer?
This is a subject matter on which Mr. Kristof really has not yet ventured.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Subtle Inuendo Follows
A year after Newtown, America's gun carnage continues with no end in sight
Slate calculated that the US death toll from gun violence since Newtown is more than 33,000. When will we wake up?I'm awake. So people who are intent on taking human life did not look on the horrible tragedy of 20 young grade school kids (and a half dozen teachers and administrators) murdered by a crazy person and immediately mend their errant ways and decide not to kill anyone else, ever. Is that the result that Mr. Cohen was rationally expecting? Let's start with his numbers.
But a year later what is even more unimaginable, more difficult to comprehend and more shocking than this horrible act of violence – is that the carnage continues with seemingly no end in sight.
A 2010 meta-study by a researcher at the Harvard Injury Control Center lays out the sobering consequences of expanded gun ownership:
The evidence is overwhelming … that a gun in the home is a risk factor for completed suicide and that gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns.
Ah, but what about protection say gun advocates? How will I ever keep my family safe from the hordes of home invaders? As the study says, "There is no credible evidence of a deterrent effect of firearms or that a gun in the home reduces the likelihood or severity of injury during an altercation or break-in."
This is the former Democrat State Senator Evie Hudak's position--you think you can defend yourself with a gun but we know better. Only Harvard researchers could look at the hundreds of thousands of successful defenses by a gun each year to criminal activity and not see "credible evidence" that having a gun when you need it is a good thing. We non-Harvard types know better.
If there is one thing that we do know about gun ownership in America, it is that buying a gun and keeping it one's home for "protection" dramatically increases the possibility of dying (or having a family member or friend die) from gun violence.
Well, for sure if you go out and buy a gun with which you intend to kill yourself, your chances of dying by gunshot are increased substantially. And again, if there is no gun in the house, the incidence of gun accident there is very low indeed. As to the idea that the mere presence of a gun in the house increases your chance of being a victim of gun murder... That's not as clear. The study I believe Mr. Cohen is citing without attribution is not a good one as it did not take on causation at all, merely post hoc propter hoc.
It's even worse for children. By one estimate, more than 75% of guns used in suicide attempts and unintentional injuries in those between birth and age 19 were kept in the home of the victim, at relatives or with friends. Imagine if Americans were told that every time they went to the gun store to buy a weapon.
So 3/4 of suicides and accidents with guns for child victims involved guns kept "in the home of the victim, at relatives or with friends". So 1/4 involved guns held by non-relative strangers. Doesn't that seem high?
As Mr. Cohen notes, gun ownership has soared in the United Sates from an already high number to an even higher number. Despite the tens of millions of new guns purchased over the past several decades the rate of American gun homicide rate per 100,000 has fallen by at least 40%. Is that not refutation to anyone saying more guns lead to more gun crime, at least for the ultimate taking of another life?
Mr. Cohen doesn't mention that statistic.
The potential gun confiscators can't handle that truth.
Labels: Gun Violence; Michael Cohen
Detecting Irony is Not This Guy's Strong Suit
Here is an example of the unrecognized irony. Mr. Wright goes through the low lights of white police on black victim crime in New York City:
Let’s fast forward to 1997 to Abner Louima, who was sodomized with a toilet plunger handle in a police precinct or Amadou Diallo who in 1999 died in a hail of 41 shots fired by members of the now defunct “Street Crimes Unit.” Or Sean Bell, shot dead in a hail of police bullets on his wedding day. Let’s land on 2010 where stop-and-frisk became standard police policy in New York.Then he later writes this, regarding the serial, sporadic one punch assaults:
Like so many instances of irrational bad behavior by a mindless few, the impact paints young black people with an overly broad and negative brush.But isn't that just what he did to white NY policemen, brought out a few instances of irrational bad behavior which he then uses to condemn all whites? Well, yes, it is. Here's another:
Now the so-called “knockout game” has created a new game – “red light, green light,” where whites stop in their tracks and head in another direction as a group of young black men approach, albeit without violent intent or concern to harm another human being.
But how is the white person on the street supposed to know that the young black men approaching have no violent intent? Generally, out on the streets, people play the odds with their safety involving people they don't know. Menacing looking people of any race are to be avoided of course but what about normal looking guys of one race or another? Does one ignore the criminal stats in deciding what the odds are that this group is invisibly menacing? The crime statistics indicate that anyone of any race is more likely to meet violence at the hands of young black men than any other group selected for a subset of race, age and gender, despite the fact that young black men are a mere 4.6% of the population of America. I'll get back to this disturbing statistic below.
Then Mr. Wright talks about movies.
The fact of the matter is, most black people have an incredible sense of control, compassion and sense of ethical fortitude. If not, every reminder of slavery from Birth of a Nation to Mandingo to Roots to 12 Years A Slave would have kindled mass insurrection based on the sheer inhumanity perpetrated on black people in America and manifested in the media.
This "sheer inhumanity perpetrated on black people in America" by whites during the 256 year history of slavery here was undoubtedly horrible generally, but does Mr. Wright not know that slavery and the inhumanity that necessarily follows it was a world wide phenomenon from the beginning of human civilization through the 18th Century and well into the 19th Century? Wasn't just in America, Will. But thanks, black Americans, for not rioting and committing mass murder every time you see a movie about slavery. We appreciate it. That's setting the bar pretty low, however, for American black's incredible control, compassion and sense of ethical fortitude. And don't get me wrong, I have know many black men whose ethical fortitude blew mine away.
Then there is this.
As I sat around the Thanksgiving Day table with my many young nephews, all between ages of 12 and 23, I prayed that some irrational, self-righteous vigilante pumped up on stories would not take it upon themselves to cause them harm just because they might be together with their friends walking toward them in a group.
This is the part about crime statistics again. Mr. Wright is misdirecting his prayers. The number of white, self-righteous vigilantes harming young blacks is at most 500 per year. Each one may a horrible tragedy but all of them taken together is an incredibly rare event in a nation of 313 plus million, of which 13.8 million are black young men, about 4 per 100,000 black young men. It is 13 times more likely that Mr. Wright's young nephews will be the victim of violence perpetrated by another black. That's what I'd be praying never happens. But then, ironically, I'm not blinded to reality by my irrational antipathy to whites.
Saturday, December 07, 2013
I had convulsions in Virginia when I was but months old from a lack of something essential in the formula I was given. No memory of that at all.
I had my tonsils removed when I was pretty young in Denver in the '50s and the only things I remember are the cribs with lockable, barred tops on them and the girl in the crib/cage next to me puked blood out the side. No memory of any pain.
In Mobile, Alabama, about the time President Kennedy was shot, I was riding a flexible flyer sled with wheels instead of metal snow runners. I turned down a very steep driveway and pulled the steering handles too quickly to avoid running into the garage door and flipped the wheeled sled and suffered a green-stick fracture of either my radius or ulna or both on the left. No real memory of pain.
The year before that I pulled the venetian blinds too hard and wrong and instead of lowering they came off the wall above the window and broke my nose and sliced off a part of it. The doctor reattached it successfully. I recall blood but no pain
The next year I sprained my left ankle very badly playing football at my military school in Mobile. I remember just a little pain but the ankle would re-sprain easily for the next decade or so. One time, I was doing alternately ice and hot water to get it ready for a fencing match at Stanford and that was extraordinarily painful.
I had my wisdom teeth removed surgically in 1965 or so and there was no physical pain but I had to hold ice blocks against both sides of my jaw and the nurse put the TV on White Christmas and left. I could neither look away nor get her back to change the channel so I had to watch the whole freakin' thing. 4/10 psychological damage, I reckon.
I was practicing soccer at my high school in Richmond, Virginia probably in '68 or '69. My school, Collegiate School for Boys, is the alma mater of multi-billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller and Seahawk's QB Russell Wilson and my best friend then who is now very high up in the administration of the National Gallery in DC, Frank Kelly, who went low for a high arcing ball I was trying to head. I fell over him backwards and broke my right radius and ulna. People said it sounded like a pistol shot. I knew something was wrong but the pain was pretty minor, until the doctor, resetting it hours later, said, before he forced the bones back into place, after shooting the break site up with lidocaine, "This might hurt a little." My memory is that I almost passed out from the pain then but it was over quickly. Probably a 9/10.
Driving before I had a license down our mile long driveway outside Richmond in early 1968, I lost control in the loose gravel and ran into a tree and I broke the windshield from the inside with my chin which caused a two inch cut there. The doctor down the road who stitched it up had the shakes (from alcoholism) so that was harrowing but not painful and the worst thing about it was I didn't get to go see Jimi Hendricks at the convert venue then called the Mosque. I never saw Hendrix play live.
Outside Richmond in 1970, I shot myself in the left knee showing off during single action army Colt pistol practice for a girl I had invited along. Didn't hurt at all until very late that night when a bat came down the chimney and I had to move to a guest bedroom. I'd rate the worst pain with that a 2/10.
By 1975 I had received several pain pill prescriptions but I don't think I took a single pill.
In 1987 in Denver I was playing softball for the Denver District Attorney team and I was running flat out to catch a foul near left field and I turned at the last second to glove the ball when I heard a snap and I fell down. ACL full tear left knee. I had a murder trial the next week so I didn't get it fixed which may have been a mistake as I'm now sure I tore up my cartilage from the unstable knee shifting. No pain I can recall, but when I finally did get the ligament reconstructed the doctor harvested replacement tendon from the front under and below the knee cap. That harvest site hurt a lot and I'm sure I took some pain pills during the first week after surgery.
I had an inguinal hernia on the left side probably from birth (good story of a very pretty young female doctor discovering that) and my doctor now, Mervyn Lifschitz, talked me into getting it fixed in 2000 or so. The surgeon went in through my belly button and there was never any pain.
Shortly after than I had a kidney stone and everyone made a big deal about it and I took a lot of pain pills until it passed a few weeks later.
My right femur head was pretty deformed, perhaps again from birth, and that degenerated over time so that I finally had to have it replaced with a titanium ball and socket joint in 2007, I think. No pain that I can recall, and no physical therapy. Cool.
In 2010 I fell on the ice taking out the trash and suffered a big tear on my already partially damaged right rotator cuff. I had surgery to tie it back together. I think I took two pain pills. The immobilizer sling was a pain in the neck but not painful and physical therapy was no fun but thankfully brief.
This year in August I tore my left Achilles tendon running hard after a soccer ball on the Playa at Burning Man. Had to get that surgically repaired. It never hurt but it's taking a long time to heal up. I sure hope that's about it.
The good thing about the real pain I'm in now is that for the first time really ever, I can have greater empathy for my hurt clients--something I have not had a lot of since I was so rarely in pain after injury or surgical repair.
Thought of the Day (Stone Racist Edition)
Ernesto "Che Geuvaro" Lynch
Friday, December 06, 2013
Thought of the Day
Bet Your Bottom Dollar
He has his reasons.
1) Young people are not actually invincible, he writes, and when they get really sick, like someone he knows in the White House, they'll sign up (and they'll be able to because of the rule for no turn downs for pre-existing conditions). The problem with only signing up once you're really sick is that you instantly become a burden on the system rather than being a benefit to it by paying for insurance you may not actually need. To the extent that Obamacare transfers wealth, it depends on transferring it from young, generally poorer people to old, generally richer people. That doesn't seem very fair. So it only helps if the young people paying more than their fair share are healthy and rarely use the actual health care. So this 'vincibility' is no help to the train wreck legislation. Obamacare needs the under-utilizers of health care to pay a lot into the system. That's what makes it work, at least in theory.
2) Going without insurance is morally wrong. OK, let me stop laughing. That's not going to persuade a lot of millennials, who are pretty much shameless and proud of it. They won't sign up if they can't afford it, even with federal deficit spending to help pay for it. And if they can't go out drinking etc., and afford health insurance, they'll skip the insurance That's why a lot of them don't get health care now. In a second of clarity, Cooper writes:
This one doesn’t carry much weight yet...
Gee. Ya' think? But then he immediately resorts to magical thinking again:
Getting insurance will be part of living in a decent society where everyone chips in when they can afford it, and free-riding is frowned upon — and over time, young people will come to see this as part of being a responsible citizen.Kind of important caveat--"when they can afford it." Free-riding is frowned upon? Does Ryan even know any 20 somethings? They don't frown on free-riding; they want to learn how they can get in on the free-riding. They really don't want to be responsible citizens, for that is the death of being cool (or whatever term they use for cool now). OK, don't have any liquid in your mouth when you read the next reason.
3) It’s the law. Law of the Land! But that and 10 pennies will get you about a dime these days. I'm not saying that young hipster types disobey the law for kicks (or whatever term they use for kicks now). Nor do I think they are stupid. But if the punishment is less than the cost of getting health insurance which they can't afford and don't really feel is all that necessary, they'll risk the punishment; and the punishment under the law of the land is pitifully small and difficult to administer. This argument, such that it is, will convince very few millennials.
4) People haven’t grasped how the subsidies work yet. But, goshdarn it, as soon as the morally upstanding, law abiding young adults learn that other people are partially paying for their insurance, they'll just come a-runnin'. They gotta'. Maybe? But, probably not. Of course deficit spending subsidies are all going on the millennials' national debt bar bill, so this might not be too persuasive to the politically savvy youngsters. However, the price the poor but healthy young will have to pay to subsidize the rich but decrepit seniors will be so high that even generous stipends will not reduce the cost to a generally affordable range; and we're back to hoping, with starry-eyed Mr. Cooper, that a general ability for the young to afford it will somehow magically show up. Since the 18-27 age group suffers 38% underemployment, this magical thinking seems a particular stretch of imagination.
5) Pressure from mom and dad. I'm laughing again, but only because I am a parent of three millennials. I am sure Mr. Cooper has never seen the interplay between normal college grad children and their parents, otherwise he would not have dared to write such drivel. Moral authority, legal authority, parental authority--yeah, these are Obamacare's aces in the hole. And when you're young and asset-less, bankruptcy isn't as scary as it is to those with something actually to lose.
6) Being uninsured sucks! This guy should write for Portlandia or something! Maybe It's Always Sunny... (which has a more realistic portrayal of older millenials than Cooper has here). Come on, guys, goshdarn it, you just gotta get health insurance! Listen, if the 20 somethings can withstand their parent's constant nagging, they can probably withstand the tiny Jiminy Cricket* voice they don't really hear. It only sucks, however, if you get hurt or sick and then it's not so bad if you're, like most of them, pretty freakin' poor. What really sucks is paying a lot for something you may never need or use. It's rare you see so long a period of unabashed, magical thinking as Mr. Cooper displays her.
Then Mr. Cooper reveals why he is capable of such self-delusion; he tells us he's only 27. And the pieces of the puzzle all fall into place and we older readers know the source of his wishing and hoping. He's too young to know any better (not stupid, inexperienced). Now, how can I say I know more about 20 somethings than a 20 something? Because I'm outside looking in and Mr. Cooper is stuck in the kaleidoscope of the group and I have first hand knowledge of history Mr. Cooper only seems dimly aware of. But he's not done yet--the big finish:
Finally, the White House has a long time to bring about this change. As Ezra Klein usefully details, Obamacare has many fail-safes built in to keep the system going for a couple years at least even if young people stay away en masse at first. Eventually, young people will forget they ever worried about Obamacare, and buying health insurance (if you don’t get it through work) will be part of becoming a full-fledged adult.They just gotta grow up! If this is its best case scenario, Obamacare is doomed indeed.
Listen, there are a lot of college age people out there who can't wait to quit the shallow, sybaritic lifestyle and start making real money through hard work and rational risk taking. Unfortunately, those people think like Rush Limbaugh and won't support Obamacare on principle. The vast majority, however, who are prolonging their adolescence into their thirties, who are putting off careers, marriage, responsibility and all the other trappings of "full-fledged" adulthood, and who really like the shallow sybaritic lifestyle, they're just not going to be able to afford Obamacare. End of story.
*Disney character in Pinocchio who was the conscience of the wooden boy. I doubt Mr. Cooper has seen it.
UPDATE: James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal on line takes on the less than formidable arguments of young Ryan Cooper here. Money quotes:
But "It's the law" overstates the case. "People hate paying fines and generally prefer to follow the rules, even if it would be cheaper to do [sic] pay the fine rather than pick up insurance," Cooper writes. But the Supreme Court held, in NFIB v. Sebelius, that the "fine" is actually only a tax. It is no more a violation of the rules to forgo insurance and pay the tax than it is to rent a home or buy one with cash and forgo the mortgage-interest deduction.[...]
It's also true that people with "lower" incomes--i.e., up to four times the poverty line--are eligible for subsidies, which will make buying insurance more attractive for some young adults than it would be if they were paying the full price-controlled cost. But to the extent that subsidies induce young people to become insured, that just shifts the burden to future taxpayers by requiring the federal government to borrow money. Some will also enroll in Medicaid, which won't improve the insurance pool at all and will actually worsen it if the new welfare cases previously had private insurance.
We mean....merely to observe that the habits of responsibility are often poorly developed in the young. They also are less likely to have the financial wherewithal to support responsible habits. They have less income to pay for insurance as well as less wealth to worry about losing should catastrophe strike.One final objection. Read over Cooper's list again and ask yourself: Is that kind of stern exhortation what they signed up for when they voted for Obama in such large numbers? No, they were attracted by his glamour and his vague idealism. To the extent that they favored ObamaCare in concept, it was because they liked the idea of "helping people," not punishing them. Much less submitting themselves to be punished.
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Thought of the Day
To put it bluntly, Occam’s Razor has moved. Things that were once possibilities now seem almost certainties to me.
Principal among those is that Obama’s academic records are perpetually unavailable for a reason — and that reason is most likely that they reveal he received financial preferences, scholarships and/or loans, as a foreign student. They probably also reveal academic mediocrity, but that’s par for the course for many of our politicians (except it becomes embarrassing in Obama’s case where he has the reputation of being brilliant).
Labels: Roger Simon quote
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Missing the Point Entirely
No, it's not. It is one of the least consequential facts of the real world. Here is the central paragraph:
And, crucially, Obama described the overall problem as the result of the rich pulling away from the rest. He noted that the share of the country’s wealth is increasingly going to the top while tax cuts for the wealthiest have cut into investments that benefit the rest, emphasizing that this has made it harder for poor children to escape poverty. Meanwhile middle class incomes have stagnated thanks to technological advances and declining unions. Result: The “basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed.”
What a crock. The rich generally have the ability and the means to earn more money. They work hard, they take calculated risks, they get things done and they make money. Duh! But the real world is not a zero sum game, that is, it is not a place where one can only gain wealth by taking it away from someone else. I buy something from someone else. He makes money. I use the product to improve my life or perhaps to make money too. If I didn't get a benefit from what I buy, I wouldn't buy it. The idea that the richer the rich get the worse everyone else is has to be one the stupidest lefty talking point out there. It is merely critical theory, lefty cant.
Tax cuts for the wealthy? Talk about failing to see the forest for the trees! The Bush tax cuts, which President Obama has seen fit to make permanent for most of us, were across the board. Everyone who paid federal income taxes got a tax cut. Why can't the left be honest about history that anyone can look up? It does them no good to say things we know are false.
The tax cuts have cut into investments (federal spending) that benefit the rest? No one is helped with waste and fraud. The reason we're in an L-shaped recovery falls solely on the current administration and the Democrat controlled Senate. The policies they have implemented have reduced job creation by the private sector. What's made it harder for poor children to rise above poverty is the lack of family support and the horrible schools the Democrats produce wherever they are in control. It is the lack of growth both in the number of jobs and the wages paid for the ones still extant that has stagnated wages for the middle class. Robots and unions have so little to do with it that even mentioning them is a waste of breath. The cause of the "fraying" of the social fabric is in part because the federal leadership has reached abysmal depths of competency. One more paragraph.
Obama discussed the need to prioritize growth; for universal pre-K education; to raise the minimum wage; tax and trade policies that encourage companies to grow here; more investments in worker retraining; proposals to reduce the cost of going to college; and other ideas.
This is a veritable parade of the wrong things to do. Pre-school, including head start, has no effect on an individual's success in the upper grades. None. It's a complete wast of money and near the bottom of things it would be good to do.
Raising the minimum wage costs the economy jobs. It puts people out of work or it keeps the unemployed from finding a job. There is a mutually agreeable wage which the employer will pay and the employee will work for. It is based on the skill level of the worker and the rigors of the job. Artificially raising the floor for the wages of entry level jobs by legislative fiat does not make the worker more valuable to the employer. It costs jobs. That's precisely the wrong thing to do to jump start a moribund economy.
It is also our tax and regulation policies, inter alia, which cause business to seek out more favorable wage rates overseas. The President has done not one thing to make America more hospitable to the kind of jobs he claims to want to increase (manufacturing jobs, for example) In fact, the Democrats have done the opposite. Result--stagnate to anemic growth.
We wouldn't have to "retrain" workers if we had "trained" them in the first place, during the 12 years of public education. But the product of that broken system, where more money is paid per student than in any other industrialized country of size in the world, is so lacking in common sense and valuable skills, the students cannot get jobs that pay what they could reasonably desire. Many of the federal jobs programs are total failures as well.
If you work hard at college and learn things that can actually be a help to businesses, then you may well find a career that is satisfying and lucrative. But colleges are failing to educate their students almost as much as K-12 is failing too many of its students. So making more poli sci majors, or gender studies majors, might not translate into more jobs for those college grads.
Other ideas? yeah, the ones so cool and exciting that we don't bother to mention them. Why even write that? Nothing the President discussed would lead to growth, prioritized or not. If you have no idea what the problem even is, there is very little hope you can successfully engage the problem. Income inequality is not the problem, it's not even a problem.
This is Marxism (which always fails spectacularly) and wealth envy (a mortal sin) disguised as compassion for the poor. Under Obama, the poor have indeed grown in numbers and lost economic ground but it wasn't the rich doing well that caused it.
UPDATE: I see I'm not the only person not at all concerned with this so called defining issue of our time. According to Gallup polls, only 1% of Americans think the "gap between rich and poor" is the most important issue facing the country today. But what do those idiots know? The President and syncophant Greg Sargent know better than them.
Wringing a Ton of Outrage Out of an Ounce of Offense
Here's the tweet which accompanied a photo of Ms. Parks at the time (as opposed to the President's photo of himself accompanying his praise of Ms. Parks): "today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism."
Who could be incensed at that? one might reasonably ask. Hint: it's the last two words. Only knuckle-dragging Neanderthals like the Republicans could be so stupid as to think that racism has ended. Fine, racism is today universally hated by the enlightened people, a super-majority of America, but it has not been completely eradicated. Glad we clarified that.
The tweet lacks a modifier for the word racism. James Taranto thinks it should have said 'ended Jim Crow laws'. I'm not sure adding "institutional" or "Democrat-enforced" would have placated Prof. Cooper. Let's go to the tape. Ms. Cooper tells us what the real problem is.
If they really cared about Rosa Parks’ memory, Republicans would attempt to emulate her courage in challenging the white male entitlement that demanded she give up the seat that she paid for. That kind of white male entitlement still dominates both the GOP and the American political scene today.I'm not sure what "white male entitlement" is to Ms. Cooper and her ilk, but I'm pretty sure it is not pursuing happiness through the fruits of one's labor. But let's be clear, the law that required Ms. Parks to sit in the back of the bus was solely, completely the product of Democrats. The Republicans opposed such laws and tried, for the near century after they passed the 13th through 15th Amendments, to make political freedom and equality a reality for black people in America with Civil Rights bill after Civil Rights bill, right through the 1964 version. And I can assure Prof. Cooper that no Republican would insist she give up her seat on the bus. Moving on. She points out the political reality of black voters and the Republicans.
The fact that an overwhelming number of blacks have abandoned the party that fought so for their emancipation and equality is sad and slightly mystifying. It's not like the Democrats have done actual good for them. But I'll skip over my pitiful lack of understanding here and go back to Ms. Cooper's grand umbrage.
In contemporary elections, it is routine that more than 90 percent of black America votes for anyone but the GOP.
GOP cronies and conservatives masquerading as moderates (Arne Duncan, here’s looking at you) would stop the kind of union busting in places like Chicago that continue to erode the school system and disadvantage the predominantly black and brown students that attend Chicago public schools. Old school civil rights figures would decry the school reform movement and see clearly that it places black children back in the very kinds of conditions that Brown v. Board of Education was meant to rectify.
It is completely unclear what teacher "union busting" has to do with the horrible public school system that exists in too many of our large cities, like Chicago. I think teacher unions are the largest impediment to improvement (along with insufficient security and discipline and lack of tracking). I note that the worst performing schools with the greatest amount of money per student are nearly all in Democrat run cities, mostly by black Democrat mayors and city councils, but perhaps that is an inconvenient truth which Prof. Cooper would be unwilling to credit. I'm not sure about the reform movement wanting to place black children back into separate but unequal schools, certainly the DC voucher program, which the Democrats defunded a few years back, served mostly poor black students in horrible schools (with about the highest dollars per student spent in America) and allowed them the freedom to attend, largely on the taxpayers dime, schools they chose, believing they were better. Who's being anti-freedom, anti-choice here? Not the Republicans.
Companies like Wal-Mart would pay their workers a living wage and acknowledge that they could do so and still remain profitable each year to the tune of billions of dollars.
Are the workers at Wal-Mart exclusively black? I didn't know that. I believe they are paid the market clearing price for what their abilities are worth. Wal-Mart has a small retail profit margin of 3.8%. Higher wages just for the sake of higher wages at Wal-Mart would necessarily cause prices there to rise and hurt the millions who depend on the low prices to be able to buy things. If the ratio of shopper to worker at Wal-Mart is as low as 100 to 1 (and I have no idea) how is artificially increasing wages creating the greatest good for the greatest number of people? But wait, weren't we talking about civil rights and schools? How did Wal-Mart enter a discussion of Rosa Parks and Republicans?
Moreover, Parks, who began attempting to register to vote and encouraged others to do so in Alabama in the 1940s, would balk at the brazen voter suppression efforts that the GOP continues to lead under the guise of implementing voter identification laws and gerrymandering voting districts to dilute the power of the black and Democratic vote.
Since Ms. Parks worked at the NAACP, her efforts at enrolling black voters doesn't shock me. Nor am I shocked by the mindless repetition of the Big Lie that maintains that perfectly rational, and constitutional, laws requiring photo IDs to vote is "brazen voter suppression". This past election in Texas, a whopping .2% of voters had to cast a provisional ballot because they could not present a valid photo ID on or before election day. They voted, but they still had to prove who they were within a week to get it counted. Not the scale of of "brazen voter suppression" I would waste time worrying about. It was less than .1% (about 750 provisional votes) the cycle before. I'm glad those who are not eligible to vote could not vote. Their illegal votes did not cancel out legal votes. And regarding redistricting after the Census. The Democrats are notorious for Gerrymandering. Pot, kettle, black, etc.
Most of all, if Republicans cared about Rosa Parks’ legacy, they would stop their war on women.
If anyone tells you that someone is waging war against someone or something else and there are no soldiers, bombs and machine-guns involved, that person is lying to you. And what a dreary, illogical lie this is. OK, professor, I'll bite. How are the Republicans waging war against women? She talks about Rosa Parks' anti-rape activism but apparently that is a head fake as this is her evidence of a Republican "war on women":
Yet the GOP persists in passing draconian anti-choice legislation in locales around the country, and the blatantly right-wing Supreme Court is poised to hear yet another case, arguing for a religious exemption to businesses that don’t want to provide free birth control to their employees under the Affordable Care Act.
Oh, abortion and birth control. Not rape. Abortion and free birth control. That's the whole of women's worth to the Democrats? They're just a vagina to Democrats. Women are not concerned with jobs, taxes, security, crime... just those two things? Thought I speak with the tongues of angels, and know all things, if I'm a woman, the Democrats think all I care about is abortion and free birth control. Draconian? The professor has absolutely no sense of proportion to call recent legislation draconian; and if she thinks the Supreme Court is "blatantly right-wing" she must be so far left she's already across the international date line. Democrats pretend to support the First Amendment, but they are the ones pushing speech codes, making up a right not to be offended, and shutting down the free exercise of Christianity wherever possible.
Affixed to the picture of Rosa Parks that the RNC tweeted is a quote that reads: “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”
Unfortunately, this means that the GOP should be afraid. Very afraid. Continuing to support policies that redistribute wealth upward, continuing to gut public education, refusing to regulate guns, doubling down against healthcare reform, and policing the bodies of women is a potent and heady chemical mix that might just make the GOP implode from the inside out.
What policies redistribute wealth upward, whatever that means? 47% of American workers pay no federal income tax and those not in the labor force (a percentage way up under the Obama Administration) suck tax revenue up and pay nothing. The top 10% pays 71% of income taxes and takes barely a thing from the federal government. Ms. Cooper has it 180 degrees wrong. How are Republicans "gutting" public education? No clue from the professor. Regulating guns. So from 2009 deep into 2010, the Democrats controlled the White House and the House and had a 60 vote advantage in the Senate but it's the Republicans alone who refuse to pass new and generally unconstitutional infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. Yeah, right. And in what way are we "policing" the bodies of women? Again only the dreary and fatuous talking points repeated with not a jot of evidence in support. And wasn't this supposed to be about race? It's merely the same sham parade of alleged Republican horribles, yet again.
Moreover, the GOP’s refusal to grapple with the persistent and enduring problem of racism will find them on the wrong side of history just a couple of generations hence. For instance, though Marissa Alexander is now free on bond in Florida, awaiting a second trial for firing a warning shot at her abusive ex-husband, by all indications conservative prosecutor Angela Corey insists on using taxpayer money to try her again and to lock her up for 20 years based on Alexander’s attempt to defend herself.How are we refusing to grapple with racism by praising the courage of Rosa Parks? If even that sort of embrace and praise of one of the heroes of the civil rights movement is met with vitriolic derision and scorn, how are we ever to have a serious discussion of what role racism plays in the present state of most black Americans? Ah, the current cause célèbre, Ms. Alexander. The key question in her prosecution was whether it was a warning shot form a woman who rationally felt threatened or a missed shot from a vengeful woman. Guess which way the mixed race jury went after 12 minutes of deliberation? But Ms. Cooper knows more than they who listened to all the testimony. It's straight up racism ever to prosecute a black perpetrator, I guess. The big finish, with a gymnastics conceit, is even more tedious. I'll skip over it and end with this observation. There's more wisdom in a paragraph of Thomas Sowell's or Walter Williams' writing than in the entirety of this hissy fit.
And I didn't even have to mention the problem of black racism against whites.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Thought of the Day (Psycopath Edition)
Ernesto "Che Guevara" Lynch, who apparently was not a big fan of the First Amendment
Monday, December 02, 2013
Thought of the Day
P. J. O'Rourke, on the persistent narcissism of the Baby Boomers
Labels: P. J. O'Rourke quote
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Thought of the Day (Psycopath Edition)
Ernesto "Che Guevara" Lynch