Friday, March 20, 2009

What's the difference between Obama and Jesus?

Stop me if you've heard this one...

What's the difference between Obama and Jesus?

One thinks he's the Messiah, the other was a carpenter who could assemble a cabinet.

It is pretty astounding that Obama has not yet filled all the openings in his cabinet. He was supposed to be the uber-competent President, but clearly is inexperienced and not a good judge of governing talent.

He is a good judge of political talent. He spins a good spin. He is great at getting people to feel enthusiasm. He makes a good campaigner.

Too bad he was elected to govern.

At this time in his Presidency, Bush had filled his cabinet. And remember that Bush had 41% less time to prepare to be President because of the Florida recount. Obama does not have all the top spots filled and still has most of the lower level Treasury spots to fill (which one would think would be the highest priority spots to fill).

Also, Bush had to deal with a Democratic majority in the Senate (thanks to the non-entity from Vermont who switched parties). Obama has a lopsided majority in the Senate from his own party who would confirm anybody (even tax cheats like the Treasury Sec'y).

But then none of this really surprises those of us who warned against Obama. Does anybody really think McCain would be at a loss finding people to run the gov't? Does anybody think that if he'd appointed Phil Gramm we would be two months into the Presidency without a plan to right the economy? Does anybody suspect that a conservative Treasury Sec'y would advocate huge deficits and sanction the Federal Reserve creating $1.2 Trillion out of thin air (as the Fed did yesterday).

People are griping (rightly) about the $165 million in AIG bonuses, but $1.2 Trillion of insta-cash is a huge pile. To put it in perspective, you'd be pretty ripped if somebody misspent $1,000 of your mone. $165 million is to $1.2 Trillion as $1,000 is to $7.28 million.

Hello Mr. Inflation, how long do you intend to stay in the United States?

I used to think of Obama as Carter 2.0, but now I am confident that people will eventually stop comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter out of respect for Jimmy Carter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Asking others to pay for themselves is not immoral

Eugene Robinson wrote, "The way we ration health care now -- according to the individual's ability to pay -- is immoral", and he goes on to advocate higher taxes to pay for the uninsured.

First of all, it is an exaggeration to say that such health care is rationed because some cannot pay for it. Rationing is a system whereby one's access to a good or service is controlled despite one's ability to pay, not because of it.

There is nothing immoral about letting one's ability to pay determine whether one gets health care. I would argue that it is morally hazardous to make others pay for all, while some escape payment altogether. Today, 40% of Americans pay no federal income tax at all. Are we now to give them a free ride on all their health care costs as well, while placing a higher burden on others (some of whom are struggling as well)?

We already pay for the health care of the indigent. I balk at paying for the health care of those who merely wish to pay less than health care actually costs. Many people forgo health care insurance despite the fact that they can afford it because they prefer to pay for cell phones, manicures, private school, etc. Health care is essential, these others are not. They choose not to pay for health care insurance because it is very expensive. This is irresponsible. I don't like that it is expensive, but I know that paying out of pocket is even more expensive. One must prepare for the worst and hope for the best -- or take responsiblity for one's gamble.

If Eugene Robinson wants to help those who fall into the gap between medicaid and affordable health care, I urge him to spend his time and money supporting a charity that will help such people. Some exist. If they are not to his liking, he should start one of his own.

However, to demand that I contribute to his charity is theft. To make gov't tax collectors force me to contribute to his charity only makes it legal theft -- it does not change what it is.

When I was poor, I depended on charity and was grateful for it. I pay the gift forward. That is the proper response. To suggest that the gov't do my work for me would be laziness.

I see two problems with gov't run health care insurance:
  • It eliminates the incentive to spend health care dollars wisely. Even though my company pays for less than half of my premium, as a payer, I remain motivated to keep health care costs down so as to keep next year's premium reasonably priced. Participants in a guaranteed health care system who themselves pay little tax to begin with, have no such incentive. It would soon make health care much, much more expensive than today. Unless taxpayer funded health care maintains an incentive to use health care wisely (and counting on the good behavior of others is folly) then the system will not work. We cannot hope to insulate people from the costs of living. We must encourage people to take part in hoisting the burden, not attempt to shift it from them.
  • Because we have a progressive tax system, most people would end up getting a discount on their health care insurance. Those who pay no federal tax would get free health care and have no idea who was paying their bills for them. They would be unlikely to recognize the gift, but would come to expect it as an entitlement. It is one thing to provide health care insurance to people in the gap, it is folly to provide it at a discount and make others pay far more than their fair share. It encourages irresponsiblity. Charity is fine, but reckless charity damages the recipient by discouraging self-care, lowering self-esteem and cementing dependence.
I have never seen a proposal for taxpayer funded health care that addresses these concerns. I am waiting.

Why I believe in the death penalty

When I contemplate what this man did to his own daughter and grandchildren, I have the urge to bring an end to his breathing (after due process of law).

The Pope is off his rocker

Speaking in Africa today, Pope Benedict XVI said that the distribution of condoms is not the answer in the fight against AIDS in Africa. "You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem."

This is factually incorrect. Condoms may not entirely eliminate the problem of AIDS, but the fact is that unprotected sex is the major vector for the disease and condoms almost entirely shut down that vector (except that they can break or be used incorrectly).

What if the Pope were to say, "You cannot resolve the problem of germs with antiseptics. On the contrary, it increases the problem." Would you then insist that surgeons stop scrubbing before operations? that hospitals stop using alcohol, iodine and betadine?

The Catholic church has made a fetish of opposition to contraception. I will grant that human life begins at conception. That is a scientific fact. It does not follow that all conceptions must be protected against safe abortion, but it is impossible to argue that once sperm hits the egg it is anything other than a human being. I am sympathetic to those who wish to protect such innocent lives, even though I do not entirely agree with the position.

But to argue against preventing such human life is a step too far. It makes no sense, especially if one believes that human life should be protected from the moment of conception. The fact is that preventing conception also prevents the subsequent abortion of that human being. To the hypothetical person in question, the matter is moot whether she is conceived and killed or never conceived at all. But to most of us on this side of the womb, the distinction is considerable. Most of the eggs that erupt from a woman's ovaries are shed without conception. What is true for women's eggs is many orders of magnitude truer of sperm.

It is hard to argue the value of any of them until they are united -- not brought within close reach of one another -- united as one genetic whole. Nature does not value them. Nature does not even value fertilized eggs unless they manage to implant themselves in a receptive womb. Many fertilized eggs are spontaneously aborted. What value then do they have before they even come into being?

Leave aside that argument and assign some value to potential, preconceived human life for the sake of argument. Does such life then take priority over adult human beings? That is what the Pope is arguing -- that the use of condoms is worse than protected sex. He says, despite the obvious scientific contradiction, that they make the problem of AIDS worse. This is completely irresponsible.

Yet because of this fetish against contraception, the Pope is unwittingly (or perhaps disingenuously) encouraging unprotected sex. One cannot dispute that abstinence is the perfect contraception and prophylactic, when practiced without failure. But to suppose that abstinence is going to be successfully practiced in a majority of cases, much less 100% of the time, is to ignore the fact that human copulation has been popular for millions of years prior to the Christian Era -- popular since the species first emerged, in point of fact. To argue in favor of abstinence only is to guarantee conception will occur and disease will be spread. This, in turn, leads to at least some abortions, some unwanted births and some very unfortunate deaths from AIDS.

Just as environmentalists who oppose a dam must take responsibility for any deaths that result from a subsequent uncontrolled flood, the Pope and his fellow fetishists must take responsibility for the abortions and AIDS deaths that result from the unprotected sex that will inevitably occur amongst those they teach to avoid condoms.