“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.” – Robert Heinlein
Solutions time again.
I’ve done a bit of blogging on the subject of US Health Care problems recently, and I could go on. One of the CATO daily podcasts last week (State Health Insurance Mandates Raise Prices) highlighted problems with health care created by government intervention in insurance markets. Just another in a long list of government interferences in the marketplace that negatively impact the system; which they then tell you they can fix by interfering in the system to a greater extent. Another podcast, McCain and Obama on Health Care, points out that at least the discussion on health care will be about the right subject, cost, if the presidential race is between McCain and Obama.
There have been solutions that I’ve found compelling in the past. One of them, from Downsize DC, I’ve blogged on before.
Here’s another solution:
Congressman Ron Paul has introduced a bill that would solve these problems, immediately. His “Comprehensive Health Care Reform Act” (H.R. 3343) would . . .
Give you a 100% refund from your taxes of every dollar you spend on medical care, including insurance premiums.
Make it easier for your employer to deposit the money it now gives to the health insurance companies into a Health Saving Account that would belong to you
This money would come to you tax free — you could use it to fund your health care and your insurance premiums
This means your health insurance would belong to you, not your employer You would have the money to pay small medical expenses with your Health Savings Account, which would allow you to reduce your insurance premiums by buying a Major Medical Plan, instead of a Cadillac Plan
You would also earn interest on the money in your Health Savings Account, tax free — you would get this interest instead of the insurance companies getting it (collecting interest on premiums is how the insurance companies make their money — these profits could be yours instead)
Plus, you would become your doctor’s customer, instead of the government or your insurance company being your doctor’s customer
This would place the consumer in charge, creating competition that would lower prices and improve quality
It’s ludicrous to think that the people who brought you 53.3 trillion dollars in unfunded Medicare and Social security debt can fix the health care problem by getting more involved in health care (especially when they are responsible for funding nearly half of our current health care expenditures) the most logical solution is to give the individual back the control of his health care, and let self-interest drive down the costs.
I’ve talked to dozens of people over the years who have whined (yes, I mean you, whiner) about the theft of the 2000 elections by George W. Bush, because the popular vote wasn’t for Bush, it went to Gore.
Never mind that the election was a statistical tie (as was the 2004 election) in most locations around the country. Never mind that the legislatures of most states (including Florida) are empowered to choose who their electors should vote for in the event of no clear victor in a national election. Never mind that the method of selection for national representatives (other than the Senate) is left up to the states to determine, and that includes the President. I’m no friend of election in the first place, so maybe I’m biased. Still, one has to wonder what limitations on majority rule can be maintained when everything becomes a popularity contest, a beauty pageant, first and foremost.
Several people have made a point to tell me that the thing that most needs fixing in our government is the electoral college, because of this outrage. How outraged will they be when their own party takes the popular vote and renders it meaningless by using the super delegates to select Hillary Clinton to compete against John McCain instead of Barack Obama?
Think it can’t happen? Then you don’t understand your own party. From the Wikipedia:
Superdelegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention include all Democratic members of the United States Congress, Democratic governors, various additional elected officials, members of the Democratic National Committee, as well as “all former Democratic Presidents, all former Democratic Vice Presidents, all former Democratic Leaders of the U.S. Senate, all former Democratic Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Minority Leaders, as applicable, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee.”
The 2008 Democratic National Convention will have approximately 796 superdelegates. Delegates from state caucuses and primaries will number 3,253, resulting in a total number of delegate votes of 4,049. A candidate needs a majority of that total, or 2,025, to win the nomination. Superdelegates account for approximately one fifth (19.6%) of all votes at the convention.
This has been done before, as Dan pointed out. The truly pointless candidacy of Walter Mondale can be wholly laid at the feet of the super delegates.
What I want to know is how will Bill spin it afterwards? After he uses party muscle (and bribery; er, contributions to super delegates) to get what he wants?
I don’t think it will happen, though (sorry Dan) The representative for the district I reside in, Lloyd Doggett, is a long time leader of the Texas Democrat party, and he announced Texas’ intention to throw the Clintons under the bus by publicly declaring his support for Barack Obama before the recent debates here in Austin.
The second half of the show dealt with smaller government. Smaller government as in most government power being in the hands of local and state governments (as the founders intended) rather than in the hands of large federal bureaucracies (as the US government is currently structured) This is a trend that is occurring now, with California and several other states being willing to go head to head with the feds over things like pollution controls and the drug war.
What we are seeing is not new, this is the way that an out of control Washington D.C. is reigned in. The states simply ignore what the federal government tells them to do, or actively thwarts it (as in the case of Medical Marijuana) It was known as the Principles of ’98 (1798, to be exact) the first time it was tried, and Jefferson was it’s architect. My only question is, why this has taken so long to take root?
In a general sense I have no problem with this. I fly the Gadsden flag for a reason. It hearkens back to the times before the Constitution, when individual land owners within the several states decided to act to secure their rights as free men. Individual freedom first and foremost. State power should be subservient to this. Which is where I draw the line.
The bill of rights for the US Constitution should continue to (and currently do) apply to all governments constituted within the federal boundaries of the United States. Which means there will be no establishment of religion (as Dan calls it, a “god-abama”) or various other governmental permutations that would violate the basic rights of the individuals who reside in those areas. If different states really want to secede (like Vermont for example) more power to them. If they want to stay members of the United States, they need to conform to the requirements of the constitution.
I’ve often wondered why we don’t invite other countries into the US as states, rather than drafting these ridiculously convoluted trade treaties. I can understand why other countries might decline, considering the vampiric nature of our current government; but if we could get back to the kind of government we started with, before the cause of individual rights was lost in the political subterfuge of states rights and slavery, what population wouldn’t want to join?
March 2nd addition – I completely missed the solution to Dan’s God-abama conundrum. The solution goes like this:
If you’re homeschooling, teach whatever you like. I’m betting parents that homeschool aren’t going to teach ID [intelligent design] Even if they do, the percentage will be so low as to be insignificant.
Private schools will not teach ID, because they survive on the prestige of their alumni. If the alumni are flipping burgers because they can’t fathom critical thinking (all that is required to understand the evolution vs. ID argument) chances are the school won’t be in business too long.
Government schools are the only chance for ID to take hold, and that is why it must be resisted without compromise in that arena. If there were no government schools, there would be no widespread issue concerning what science is or isn’t, because the blindly religious would maintain their own failing schools or home school, and the rest of the population would rally around verifiable results.
I’ve often thought that the way to get what we want out of the schools, if we have to pay for them with taxes, is to issue vouchers to the parents directly and let them hire the teachers and maintain the schools. We hand the job of crafting tests and developing standards that verify real educational results to the businesses that demand an educated workforce. And then let the market determine the outcome.
But that wasn’t the question asked at the beginning of this thread. The question was about ID in relation to Dan’s assertion that we could let the religious have segments of the US as their own playgrounds so that they would leave the rest of us alone.
And in that framework the answer is NO to ID.
A market solution is the only counter to Dan’s original conundrum. And it only occurred to me today, even though I’ve frequented http://www.schoolandstate.org for a few years now.
Separating school and state is the only workable solution short of standing on the establishment clause and allowing the states to secede, because schooling is the major point of contention between the religious and the secular.
March 4, 2019. So much crazy here. I wish I had access to the original audio for the Common Sense episode this was about. Sortition was a thing I was into. I remember that. Sortition is itself not a problem so long as the incapable are barred from serving. This measure should also be taken on the subject of election. President Trump proves this. Election itself is not a problem so long as everyone within the country is mobilized to vote and required to vote. This removes the popularity contest that is the problem with the current system. Everyone voting means that popularity of the candidates is irrelevant. Issues will rule the day again. But sortition works in a pinch, too.
February 23, 2008 – Guest: Christoph Wilcke, Human Rights Watch
Theocracy Alert features an example of our failure to bring a true understanding of freedom to Afghanistan, while at the same time failing to understand what democracy is ourselves. Democracy demanded the inclusion of sharia law in the Afghan constitution; and yet true freedom has to include freedom of speech, which can bring on the death penalty if you don’t say the right things under islamic law.
Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh faces the death penalty, in a country the US controls, for saying something that we take for granted in the US:
His death sentence, imposed after a closed-door trial during which he was not allowed a lawyer or a hearing, has become a rallying cry for foreign critics who want Afghanistan to hew to international norms on human rights.
The student’s troubles began when he downloaded an article written by an Iranian writer living in Europe that questioned the Islamic precept of allowing men to take several wives. Kaambakhsh, who is also a journalist in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, was arrested in October after he circulated copies of the article at the city’s Balkh University.
He was convicted and sentenced to death on Jan. 22.
Why are we putting up with this crap? Either he is pardoned (hell, apologized to) or we pack up our troops and head home. What are we spilling our blood over there for? So these people can play their stupid religious games? I don’t think so.
Hudsonville Michigan wants to have the mission to Strive to Serve God. Wander by mLive.com and let them know what you think about the state explicitly serving the church. (kudos to infidels.org for the link)
“Hasn’t Michigan heard of the Bill of Rights?” -Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Today’s guest, Christoph Wilcke discussed the plight of Fawza Falih Muhammad Ali who is also facing a death penalty, in Saudi Arabia, for witchcraft. Witchcraft? What century is this, again? These guys are our allies? what a (cruel) joke.
Campaigning group Human Rights Watch has petitioned King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to halt the execution by beheading of a “witch” who in 2006 was convicted of “witchcraft, recourse to jinn [supernatural beings], and slaughter of animals”.
Fawza Falih Muhammad Ali is currently languishing in Quraiyat Prison having “exhausted her appeals” against the sentence. The illiterate defendant was arrested back in 2005, and allegedly beaten and obliged to fingerprint a confession that she couldn’t read.
“Earlier, her interrogators blocked her access to a lawyer and the judges, and denied her the right to professional legal representation, thus depriving her of the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses against her. She claims that some of the witnesses were unknown to her and that others had made statements against her only as a result of beatings.”
Following Fawza Falih’s conviction in April 2006, an appeals court ruled in September of that year that she “could not be sentenced to death for ‘witchcraft; as a crime against God because she had retracted her confession”. However, lower court judges “then sentenced her to death on a ‘discretionary’ basis, for the benefit of ‘public interest’ and to ‘protect the creed, souls and property of this country'”.
Joe Stork, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, concluded: “The judges’ behaviour in Fawza Falih’s trial shows they were interested in anything but a quest for the truth. They completely disregarded legal guarantees that would have demonstrated how ill-founded this whole case was.”
February 24, 2007 – Creationism at the Grand Canyon
Theology Alert features a discussion of media exposure given to FFrF through Jay Sekulow, Pat Robertson’s pet Rottweiler at the ACLJ on his radio program. This merits mention because Dan and Laurie take the time to rebut the maliciously uttered lies concerning FFrF and it’s merchandise. As usual, they’re response to the hatred is full of laughter.
The Gideon society placed this bible here for your edification. Just who was Gideon? One would suppose that he was a person of exemplary character and great worth to have a worldwide society named after him. Here are some of Gideon’s accomplishments.
He slaughter thousands in battle by plotting with the lord to use treachery.
He murdered thousands more for worshiping false gods.
Gideon tortured and killed still more for daring to taunt him.
Gideon plundered the bodies of his victims to fashion a jeweled priestly vestment for himself.
Gideon fathered an offspring who killed 69 of his stepbrothers.
Read the bible for yourself. You will find the story of Gideon in Judges, Ch. 6 through 9. The tale of Gideon is just one of many horror stories in the bible, a book that glorifies behavior that you abhor. Millions of people have been hoodwinked by what their clergy and leaders have told them of the bible.
Make up your own mind about the bible, read it for yourself.
They then finish the subject with a few bible verses that prove that “Warning: Literal Belief in this book may endanger your health and life” is a true statement.
There was also a brief discussion of this segment on the Colbert show:
I voiced my personal thoughts on the subject here.
The interview in this episode was with Jeff Ruch of PEER concerning the faith based parks; political appointees overruling civil servants and ordering them to break parks service rules. Specific to the title of the episode, requiring the parks service to certify a book for publication concerning the Grand Canyon’s origin in Noah’s flood.
Anyone with children will probably find the subject troubling, since the issue here is formally adopting fundamentalist dogma as official doctrine, and passing this misinformation on to children.
I’d just like to point out that I didn’t blog on the subject of the Democratic debates, even though they were in Austin, and even though I watched some of the program, and I didn’t blog on it for several very good reasons.
First off, that wasn’t a debate. It was a town hall meeting. I’ll talk about these things when we actually see a debate again. Secondly, Barack Obama cleaned the floor with Hillary Clinton from my perspective, and there was little need to talk about it during the viewing. Third, I still don’t like Hillary Clinton as a politician. I don’t trust her after her husband’s presidency and I don’t like political dynasties of any stripe. The trend is downward when you get on that course. So it was just a chance to see Obama shine one more time, not that I’m planning on voting for him in the general, mind you.
Can we not all just agree that, not only were the wrong Kennedy’s assassinated, but that the wrong person climbed out of the Chappaquiddick that cold night in 1969? The video at least asks that question.
Mea culpa review 2017. I just experienced another moment of existential pain in leaving that joke on this post. Oh, My. God. I think to myself, and I’m not even religious to start with, how crass can I get? In addition to leaving that atrocious joke in the entry, I took out the thought bubble below and instead listed the beliefs I held at the time. Beliefs I had for my hatred of Hillary Clinton. It’s not that I thought about anything that deeply then other than World of Warcraft and finding a new purpose in life, but I did have my reasons and I still don’t like her.
However. I started to delete the following thought I had imposed in the middle of the article, but then I realized I needed to save this most of all. I needed to preserve it as an example of just how blind the average person can be to their own biases.
Hillary’s mouth opens, fast forward till it closes. Listen to Barack Obama talk. Repeat process. The ‘debate’ was a remarkably one sided victory for Obama when viewed that way
This. This is misogyny in a nutshell, and I would have told you at the time that I didn’t hate Hillary Clinton because she was a woman. That is how subtle this crap is in our heads. Just more food for thought and one more post in the errata label series.
Last week the Senate passed the Conference Report of the 137-page Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 2082). The big media story about the bill is its ban on waterboarding, which will apparently prompt a Presidential veto.
If so, President Bush would veto the bill for the worst possible reason, but it may give Congress a fresh start. The problem with H.R. 2082 is that it could just as well be called the Don’t Read the Bill Act. Or maybe, the Not Really a Bill Act.
You see, the bill authorizes funding for the federal government’s various intelligence agencies, but it doesn’t tell us the amount that will be spent. That’s “classified information.” Of course, we don’t expect an itemized list of the cost of every intelligence operation, but the people – and apparently, most members of Congress – aren’t even allowed to know the total cost of the bill. If there is a “national security” reason to keep that information classified, then “national security” can be the excuse to justify all kinds of corruption and abuses of power.
Why can’t Congress even know the total amount they’re spending on our behalf? Whose money is it, anyway?
And why would any self-respecting member of Congress permit this to happen?
Probably because this is their standard operating procedure. They normally don’t know what’s in the bills they pass. As long as government grows, they’re happy. As long as they can say they’re “protecting America” by passing bloated, secret intelligence bills, they can’t be bothered with the details.
This is, of course, the latest salvo in the ongoing struggle to get Congress to Read the Bills. You might think they’d take the time to read legislation that they intend to pass into law; but as the above shows, they not only don’t read most of the bills, sometimes the bills don’t even contain verbiage sufficient to describe what it is they are voting on.
The blog entry over at DownsizeDC includes a detailing of the other bills passed by congress over the last two weeks, but most likely not read as well.
“Inflation has now been institutionalized at a fairly constant 5% per year. This has been determined to be the optimum level for generating the most revenue without causing public alarm. A 5% devaluation applies, not only to the money earned this year, but to all that is left over from previous years. At the end of the first year, a dollar is worth 95 cents. At the end of the second year, the 95 cents is reduced again by 5%, leaving its worth at 90 cents, and so on. By the time a person has worked 20 years, the government will have confiscated 64% of every dollar he saved over those years. By the time he has worked 45 years, the hidden tax will be 90%. The government will take virtually everything a person saves over a lifetime.”
It’s not like this is a novel concept. The local talk show host, Jeff Ward, refers to Social Security in this fashion repeatedly. (he even has a sound bite of Republican front runner John McCain calling Social Security a Ponzi Scheme. I was listening to the show when he said it, and I was listening to the show when Ward found the clip again. I wonder if McCain would be willing to repeat and affirm his words today?) It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.
fraudulent investment operation that involves paying abnormally high returns (“profits”) to investors out of the money paid in by subsequent investors, rather than from net revenues generated by any real business.
I closed with the observation “Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck” which is an expression I’ve heard dozens of times. However, when I plugged it into Wikipedia, by accident, I came up with a bit of trivia that I didn’t know.
The important point to remember about Ponzi schemes is, no matter who runs it, the Ponzi scheme eventually fails. It’s funny, Charles Ponzi’sinvestors were always certain that the schemes would work, if only the government wouldn’t get in the way and stop them. Now the government is running it’s own Ponzi scheme and insisting that it won’t fail.
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”
And they violated this oath (blatantly) by
They voted to pass S. 2248, a new law designed to replace the so-called “Protect America Act.” This bill violates the Bill of Rights . . .
* It permits the President to spy on Americans without a warrant. * It grants retroactive immunity to tele-communications companies that collaborated with the Bush administration in previous warrantless spying, thereby creating an incentive for other companies to engage in similar crimes in the future (only Qwest Communications insisted on warrants).
Will this new, un-constitutional power, prevent future terrorist attacks? Of course not, nothing can do that, just as there is no law or power that could completely stop murders by domestic criminals.
Kay Bailey Hutchison essentially bragged that this was what she was going to do in canned responses to my requests that PAA be allowed to sunset. Citing unnamed threats to national security she (like most conservatives) was all to willing to give up our freedom for the appearance of greater security.
At least she answered letters sent to her office. John Cornyn has never responded to a single request that I have sent him.
If only Texas allowed for a method to recall Senators from Washington, I’d be agitating for that right now. As it is I think it would be a crime to send either of them back to Washington. It was the job of the government to protect us from 9-11 in the first place, not remove our freedom as a consequence of their failure.
All is not dark on the subject of illegal spying on us by our government, with the duplicitous assistance of our telecommunications companies. Perhaps the House understands the Constitution, or at least the will of the people:
Speaker Pelosi announced the sunset of PAA. She pointed out that the government still retains all the powers it needs to spy on suspected terrorists under the old FISA law, which remains in place. She also talked about the need for the government, and the telecommunications companies, to operate under the rule of law.
Goodbye Protect America Act; which is the next best thing to not passing it in the first place.
Some serious house cleaning is in order at the federal level. The problem is that the house cleaning needs to go deeper than those individuals who can be removed by the people through election. Don’t ask me how we achieve this goal; I only wish there was a tool suitable to the job at hand. I’ve often thought that anyone who draws a salary paid directly with taxes should be able to be fired directly by tax-payers. That would be a suitable tool. Don’t hold your breath on it’s being crafted any time soon.
The interview featured an anonymous FFrF member who, while passing numerous religious billboards, thought to counter them with one encouraging participation in a non-religious group, FFrF. The Imagine no Religion billboard spurred the erection of two opposing billboards; one of them a disclaimer from the billboard owner, and another from an evangelical group out of Virginia (it’s actually a rather frightening image) which asks why do atheists hate America?
I have to agree with the assessment that the addition of “in god we trust” to the Feds money, and “under god” to the pledge in the 1950’s has disenfranchised the freethinker segments of the US population. The devout out there now take it for granted that it was always this way, leading to atheists being the last group that it’s ok to discriminate against.
Instead of Why do atheists hate America; the question should be, Why does America hate atheists?
FFrF is looking to expand the billboard campaign. Wouldn’t mind seeing one in Austin. It’d be a nice break from the usual mix of beer, anti-drug and church sponsored billboards that we get around here.
February 17, 2007 – The ‘Alabamification’ of the Nation
Theocracy alert covered Bill Maher’s visit to Ham’s Creation Museum in an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, which airs on HBO (podcasts are available on iTunes) I can’t find a video capture of it, but I’m sure it was priceless. Dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden? What will the creationists evolve into next?
Also, the Gum Game merited a mention. One of the abstinence only gov’t funding recipients (the Rockville Maryland Pregnancy Center) conducted a classroom lesson (for 9 years, no less) which involved all the students in a class chewing the same piece of gum as a demonstration of how STD’s are transmitted. I wonder how many diseases were spread during the course of this lesson?
My main complaint? Her rejection of democratic controls when they don’t align with her agenda. Term limits helping the Religious to elect people who think like them. Initiative and referendum being an access point to get religious based laws on the books. If you think voting solves anything (and I don’t, but most progressives do) then you have to accept that the majority opinion is what is important, even when it is at variance with your opinion.
[As far as the article goes, I have to take exception with her overly simplistic categorization of all people who support a return of states rights as white supremacists and misogynists. In fact, I found very little to agree with in the article other than a shared view of a relative lack of value in the the majority of current occupants of the Supreme Court (a la the Kelo v. City of New Londongutting of private property rights. OrGonzales v. Carhart the symbolic right-to-life victory over an abortion procedure used in less than 1% of abortions; but does, in fact, set a precedent of congress intervening in standard medical practice when it is deemed necessary.) other than that, I’d have to say that Ol’ Joey would label her a Femmenazi; and I’d have a hard time disagreeing. This guest, like Rothschild, showed a fair amount of political dogma.]
A brief discussion of Judge Roy Moore (the ten commandments judge) and the Federalist Society and the changes they have wrought in the appointment of justices warrants mention. The interview finished up with a discussion of a lawsuit in Pike county Alabama concerning four Jewish children whose rights were being infringed, and were in fact being physically assaulted and intimidated for not being christian. Apparently you don’t want to live in Alabama and be anything but devout christian.
This episode also included Intelligent? Design?, a song created from a poem written by Philip Appleman. It sums up the problems with creationist theory with a bit of humor. I’ve played this bit for a few friends, and it’s always gotten a laugh.