Monday, December 7, 2009


This blog is inactive as of 11/2009. I am now posting everything at my main blog, and everything is also over there.

Go to Easy Opinions

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

We Can't Stop Government Growth

Can the Rampaging Leviathan Be Stopped or Slowed?
11/02/09 - by Robert Higgs
Senior Fellow in Political Economy, and Editor of The Independent Review at The Independent Institute.

[edited] There are critical difficulties restraining the growth of government. Even when restraints on government are enacted into law, the government does not obey. So, constitutional amendments are worthless. The Constitution already contains the NinthThe enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. and TenthThe powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Amendments. With those amendments and four bucks you can get a latté at Starbucks.

"Solutions” to the ongoing growth of government are a dime a dozen and utterly worthless in themselves. Every genuine solution must be implemented by enough people and money. Marshalling people and money will require ideological conversions on a substantial scale. These conversations themselves will require many people and much money, if such conversions are possible at all.

The troubling fact remains, that if any truly effective measures are approved to limit the government, the rulers would likely resort to whatever legal or illegal violence proved necessary to prevent those measures from taking effect.

If Ron PaulCongressman from Texas, noted for wanting a much smaller and limited government were miraculously elected president, he would not live to take office. Opponents of the government’s ongoing growth must bear in mind that we are dealing with violent, heavily armed, utterly unscrupulous people who, if pushed to the brink, will stop at nothing to retain their power and privileges.

We who abhor the continued growth of government cannot stop or slow it in the near term. But, we can take heartNot much of a comfort -ag from the knowledge that ultimately this criminal enterprise will attain such bloated size and scope that it will implode, as the Soviet Union and other overreaching systems have imploded.

Governments that grow without other limits find that their predation becomes greater than their prey can support. Thus, the government in this country and many others contain the seeds of their own destruction.

Leading the People
08/2008 - EasyOpinions by Andrew Garland

My personal experience with radicals in college was scary. They don't mind threatening others, regardless of the academic setting or discussion.

[excerpt] He argued that only a radical change in government would bring about a better society. I disagreed. He said that I should join the demonstrations against the University to end the Vietnam war. I thought a sit-in demonstration against the University was misdirected. I suggested the he should demonstrate against the government; the University was not at war.

He said that his movement would become stronger, and eventually I would agree with him. I asked, what if I didn't agree with him, even later? He flashed anger and told me that if I didn't agree on my own, he would make me agree. I saw that as the end of the discussion.

We Must Spend or We Are Going to DIE!
04/2009 - EasyOpinions by Andrew Garland   (satire, excerpt)

From: Ruling Class
To : Public
Re : We must tax and spend now, or we are all going to DIE!

We don't want to tax and spend (cough), but we must react to the crisis that we have identified. We are going to borrow, spend, and tax reluctantly to support our actions. The alternative is DEATH. No one wants that.

So what if you are poor in the future? At least you will be alive, and we will continue to guide you through supportive government to help you out of poverty. We will create and assign the jobs of the 21st century. Your children will pay most of the taxes, and we are training our children to have the public spirit that will allow them to rule wisely.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blunting the Costs of Healthcare Reform

States of Personal Privilege
10/09/09 - WSJ Opinion by by Kimberley A. Strassel

Quip: This bill is vital to our country and will save a lot of money. We just don't want to depend on it.


Powerful senators have avoided the most costly provisions of healthcare reform for their own states. They want "reform" for the nation, so long as it doesn't disadvantage the people who support or vote for them.

  • The Baucus bill vastly expands state Medicaid programs, requiring the states to pay an additional $37 billion.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is worried about losing his seat next year. He has arranged for the federal government to pay Nevada's increased Medicaid expenses for the next five years. This applies to only three other states: Oregon, Rhode Island, and Michigan, because they "are suffering more than most."

  • The Baucus bill would tax expensive insurance plans at 40%, so that those with "luxury" health insurance help to pay for the poor. But states like New York and Massachusetts have a lot of those plans, having a lot of union members with great benefits, and high-cost insurance mandated by state regulations.

    New York Sen. Chuck Schumer didn't want angry, overtaxed voters, so he and other similarly situated Democrats carved out a deal to reduce the tax on 17 states, mostly with Democratic politics.

  • The Baucus bill taxes pharmaceutical companies, on the principle that they are filthy rich and involved in health care.

    But, New Jersey boasts it is the "global epicenter" of the drug industry, where "15 of the world's 20 largest pharmaceutical companies have major facilities." Its Sen. Menendez has a deal for a $1 billion tax credit for companies investing in drug R&D.

  • Many Dems assure us that the Baucus bill will "bend down" the health-care cost curve. Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry aren't counting on it. They included $5 billion in the bill to reduce costs for union members.

So, health-care "reform" is good, smart, and necessary, so long as it isn't fully applied to the states of the senators who are pushing it.

Most senators are saving up their special demands for the Senate floor. Then, we'll know how much change Democrats truly believe in.

Baucus Bill Bull: The Hypocrites In DC Are Trying To Pass a Doozy
10/14/09 - PJTV: Medically Incorrect (video 3 minutes)

A video opinion of the Baucus bill by Dr. Peter Weiss.

Dr. Weiss is an OB/GYN at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, the Medical Director of Rodeo Drive Women's Health Center and Rodeo Drive Dermatology and Aesthetics, and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the UCLA School of Medicine.

Obamacare Bails Out Medicare
09/12/09 - Easy Opinions by Andrew Garland
"Healthcare Reform" is a huge tax hike plus rationed medical services.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Better Through Creative Statistics

Reagan's Unemployment Numbers
10/03/09 - DonSurber's blog - Comment by John D.


John D:  I am a little confused when I see unemployment numbers from the Reagan years compared to unemployment since 1993.

I believe that the Clinton Administration changed the formula for figuring unemployment to make the numbers smaller. They stopped counting the long term unemployed and those that had quit looking for employment.

Are the Reagan numbers being compared to numbers using the new method, or have the Reagan numbers been recalculated?

Surber:  They are not recalculated. Good point.

Don't believe government statistics and historical comparisons.

The Democratic President Clinton changed the unemployment computation to make his administration look better compared to Reagan and Bush the father. Bush the son didn't change it back; doing so would have made him look worse.

So, now we have unemployment statistics that specifically leave out the long term unemployed and those not looking regularly for work. People who are in part-time jobs are naturally left out, even if they consider this a fallback from former full-time employment.

This is fine for government, which claims that things are just as good as 20 years ago. This supposed progress is a result of manipulating the numbers.

This distortion builds over time as the definitions change to make things look better. The numbers become more unreal, leaving us ignorant about how effective our policies are.

USA Healthcare is First - Infant Mortality is Low
01/08/09 - Easy Opinions by Andrew Garland

Health statistics are intentionally misrepresented to argue for socialized medicine. The major argument is that the US spends more than Europe, but lags behind in health outcomes. So, US healthcare is both expensive and inefficient. Actually, government administration hides much of the socialized cost, and the USA has better health.

Consumer Price Index -
Things You've Suspected But Were Afraid to Ask

10/01/06 - Shadow Stats by Walter J. Williams (John Williams)
Via 11/05/08 - Alpha Dominance

[edited] Inflation, as reported by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is understated by roughly 7% per year, due to recent redefinitions of the numbers and flawed methods, particularly adjusting prices for changes in quality.

The CPI was designed to help everyone adjust their financial planning to the impact of inflation. Since the earyl 1980's, these statistics have changed to meet demands from miscreant politicians. Politicians were and are intent upon stealing income from social security recipients, without public discussion or Congressional approval.

The Clinton Administration changed the CPI to significantly understate inflation, along with changes in the late-Carter and early Reagan Administrations. Thas has reduced current social security payments by roughly half from where they would have been otherwise.

Anyone who receives payments adjusted by the CPI has been similarly damaged. On the other side, the government makes out like a bandit making payments adjusted by this lowered CPI.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Memo - Health Plan Deficit Reduction

From:   Chairman [redacted] of the [redacted] Committee
To:        Healthcare Reform Drafting Group II
Re:        Finessing the Health Plan Deficit

( This is a Class I rice-paper memo. )

The estimated deficit for our health reorganization plan is causing us trouble in the press. President Obama has promised not to raise taxes on the middle class, and not to increase the deficit. Unfortunately, we have to live with this until the plan passes Congress.

After passage, we will spend what it takes, just like the last times.

Please hold off on more complexity. I asked for enough boards, committees, commissions, and regulators to confuse things and distract our opponents. You went overboard, but that is not a big problem. Just don't add more.

(Jim, that advisory commission on do-it-yourself birthing is out. I know it would save money, but it is out for now.)

Here is how we will handle the cost. Pick a big cost to convince people that we are serious. Too small looks like we might be hiding things. (If they only knew.) Keep it under $1 trillion over 10 years. That seems to be the right psychological price point for the public.

Now, this is how we will "pay for it". Assign whatever fees (not taxes!) you want against insurance companies, big businesses, and "private" doctors. Make the fees big enough to cover the entire added cost of the plan. Yes, even if you think we can't raise that much money from those fees.

The Congressional Budget Office will score the plan based on the fees we say we will raise. They will find that the plan is covered, and that is all we care about. We have convinced the public that only deficits matter, not the actual cost.

Our opponents will express doubt that we can collect all of the money we say we will. But, that is just their opinion, and the CBO will go along with us.

So, we will have a plan that does not increase the deficit, and there are no taxes on the middle class, only fees on evil companies and rich doctors.

To Fred: Yes, the fees would be passed through, and effectively would be a tax on employees and patients. I appreciate your insight. Forget about it. We will be rearranging everything in any event, after the bill is in effect for a while.

Good work everyone. Just a few more all-nighters, and we will get this thing passed. Remember that there are enough boards, committees, commissions, and regulators to provide plum assignments for all of you.

This is a rice-paper memo, distributed on edible paper and written in edible ink (raspberry). Please eat this memo after reading.

Nutrition Label: Fat 0g   Protein 0g   Carbohydrate 4g
Dietary Fiber 1g.  Free of gluten and tree nuts.

US Printing Office G5-034 236 Washington D.C.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Leading the People

Leading The People
If You Don't Agree Now, You Will Later

08/30/08 - EasyOpinions by Andrew Garland

My post from a year ago still applies. Here are two excerpts:

Brad said that his movement would become stronger, and eventually I would agree with him. I asked, what if I didn't agree with him, even later? He flashed anger and told me that if I didn't agree on my own, he would make me agree. I saw that as the end of the discussion.

Brad's Friends want to be elected, then use that power to make your life better, and you better, whether you agree or not. Brad's Friends are not motivated by respect for their fellow citizens or a regard for the truth. They want to produce a grand experiment to make a better world. Eventually, they will make you agree with them.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Van Jones: What's New?

To President Obama:

Van Jones is your Green Jobs Czar, a position of importance and power in deciding how to restructure US industry. He has recently been in the news for his speeches and petitions. He signed a petition asking that the US Government, then under President Bush, be investigated for complicity in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

He declared that he became a Comunist in his recent past. He stated that black high school students might shoot another black student, but that they had never tried to shoot many people at once, as two white students did in the Columbine tragedy.

It seems that you will announce soon that he has resigned, or that you have fired him, or that you are going to keep him in your administration.

Whatever you do, please tell me, what is new to you about this information? If you already knew about these aspects of his history, then why should you now fire him or ask him to resign?

If your actions are based on recent information, new to you, then what's new?

What Van Jones Signifies
09/05/09 - PowerlineBlog by Scott Johnson

[edited] Do not write off Van Jones as a one-off nutjob in the Obama administration. He signifies. The Obama team sought him out and signed him up for his job as green jobs commissar precisely because of who he is.

He is a self-proclaimed Communist. A vulgar Marxist twice over. A supporter of cold-blooded cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal. A 9/11 Truther. A racist hater, whose hatred extends to the United States. And, insofar as his current job is concerned, we have a man who sees the "green jobs" con as a tool for overthrowing capitalism.

He is the complete, left-wing, nightmare package.

I will add that he seems to me to be a well-dressed, fit man, with energy and personal charisma. He speaks very well, simply and with good phrasing, if you ignore the content. He reminds me entirely of President Obama.

Van Goes Under The Bus — Updated
09/05/09 - PajamasMedia by Ed Driscoll

A collection of links and comment about Van Jones, who he is, what he said, and how people are reacting.

Jennifer Rubin said in Commentary Magazine:

[edited] The immediate issue is that the White House is harboring such a figure. It is under siege for its leftward lurch, and is battling the tag that the president is out of touch with ordinary Americans. It’s hard to believe that Van Jones isn’t a fictional character dreamed up by Obama’s conservative critics. Unfortunately no, Jones is very real.

Where is the policy paper?
07/26/09 - Easy Opinions by Andrew Garland

Obama and Congress must have thoroughly investigated before writing down new law to change all of healthcare. Where is it? Let's see it.

Or, are they legislating off of a cocktail napkin?

Obama's Green Jobs Snake Oil

Obama's Green Snake Oil
Obama ignores the cost of his global warming plan.
01/28/09 - Reason Online by Jacob Sullum

[edited]Obama says that his plan to reduce global warming is actually a way of stimulating the economy. The plan immediately spends for weatherizing buildings, alternative energy production, and more power transmission. He ignores the enormous cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. He falsely portrays this economic burden as a boon.

Consider this to see the fallacy: If Obama could snap his fingers and make global warming disappear, should he do it? By his logic, no, because then we'd lose all those wonderful green jobs that will help pull us out of the recession.

Obama: "Climate change could result in violent conflict, terrible storms, shrinking coastlines, and irreversible catastrophe." Does Obama's cap-and-trade proposal make sense? We need to know how likely are those outcomes, how costly they would be, and whether his plan would prevent them.

Critic Bjorn Lomborg wrote "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming." He argues that adapting to climate change is much less costly than trying to prevent it. Prevention is unlikely to have any measurable impact. I'd like to hear why Obama thinks this criticism is wrong.

Dispelling the Global Warming Myth

There is a close correlation between global temperature and solar output. See the graph.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Legislative Language

No funds shall be used for pork roasting within any federal facility except in accord with the provisions of 12.14(f)(4).

Notwithstanding the language in 3.7(b)(2), pork roasting is approved in any amount, anywhere.

5.   Restrictions

5.1   The President's authority under this bill is strictly limited to the explicit provisions of this bill, narrowly considered and constructed.

5.2   The sense of this section 5.2 is constructed from combining the language of sections 5.13 through 5.17 after striking out the words "dog", "cat", and "fish" wherever they appear in those sections.
. . .

5.13   The dog cat President fish
5.14   is fish hereby cat cat
5.15   cat dog empowered dog to cat
5.16   dog dog do dog dog anything cat
5.17   fish dog he fish cat wants. dog fish

Ignorance is bliss! But see (hhh)(1) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4)
08/11/09 - Classical Values by Eric

[edited] I finally understand why the Congressmen who are pushing the healthcare bill HR3200 have not read it, and have come up with something unreadable. It's quite deliberate.

If people could actually read it, they might learn too much. If they learned that a new cancer drug would not be available, or that their father's heart surgery would not be covered, millions and millions of ordinary people would be outraged and up in arms, and it would be very bitterly personal, like Mike Sola, the guy whose son has cerebral palsy and who learned he wouldn't be covered.

A Few Words About Policy
Would Obama try to legislate from some scribbles on a cocktail napkin? Would he think "give me anything, we'll rearrange it later to do what we want"?

Join me in the demand to "Show me the policy paper!" If any politician refuses or says that it doesn't exist, then mock him with "Show me the cocktail napkin!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ObamaCare May Save Social Security

ObamaCare Saves Social Security
08/11/09 - InsureBlog by Henry Stern

[edited] The healthcare bill we reference is "America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, Revised Standard Edition". It has the potential to save Social Security from bankruptcy:
Page 425. "The term ‘advance care planning consultation’ means a consultation between the individual and a practitioner [doctor] ... if ... the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years."

So, seniors are encouraged to have these consultations at least every 5 years. What are they?

Page 432. "For purposes of reporting data on quality measures for covered professional services furnished during 2011 and any subsequent year, to the extent that measures are available, the Secretary shall include quality measures on end of life care and advanced care planning that have been adopted or endorsed by a consensus-based organization, if appropriate. Such measures shall measure both the creation of and adherence to orders for life sustaining treatment."  (note)Can you imagine 1000 pages of this language?

So, a "consensus based organization"The End of Life Quality Treatment Board will come to order. All in favor of 'Non-Heroic Treatment Plan 103' say Aye. The plan is approved by 8 votes to 1. I declare this a consensus. We are adjourned."" will determine advanced care planning. It will create orders for life sustaining treatment that will be measured for compliance. It could order anything from a pain pill to life saving surgery, depending on whatever utilitarian measures it wants. And, that will be that. Are you reassured?

This implements social justice. Rich and poor will be prescribed the most cost-effective lifesaving or pain-numbing treatment, according to expert guidelines.

If you are a federal politician, federal employee, or approved union member, you are not covered by this act. You have other, nicer choices for your care, provided by private insurance companiesAren't the insurance companies supposed to be the spawn of the Devil? arranged for you by your union or the federal government.

Social Security will save a lot as most people's lives end on a more rational basis.

This prompted my comment (sarcasm warning):

It is shortsighted to bring quality of life issues into discussion only because of explicit costs for healthcare at the end of life.

It is obvious that we cannot support useless members of the tribe who are no longer able to work.

What is less obvious, and much more important, is to factor in carbon use. This is also a cost to society, and to Gaia herself.

We should accept that when our personal carbon footprint goes up past our productivity, then we need a talking to.

When an individual can no longer bicycle to work, it may be better to accept the end rather than be a carbon burden on us all.

It is inescapable. Some must continue on in the cycle of life so that others may live without damaging the Earth.