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Sunday, March 21, 2010


Competition for March Madness

The moguls at CBS must be wringing their hands this afternoon as one of the big weekends they count on for ratings and profits runs into unexpected competition from an unexpected source that normally produces tedious programming at best - Congress! So the guys at C-Span will have the attention of the public but sadly, since they are non-profit, no ad time to sell.

I kind of think the Dems may have reached the point where they have enough commitments from their caucus to "vote yes if you absolutely need me" so that beyond Pelosi's Cheshire grin (aped to perfection by Stony Hoyer on today's Meet the Press), they can measure off a small majority for the vote which will take place sometime before midnight. There is only a minor chance that something could happen to upset their applecart, and in that case, they will devise some pretext for scrapping the vote and slinking out of DC, with a promise to bring it back (however unlikely). The most likely banana peel for Dems to slip on would be some expectation that even 50 Senate "reconciliation" votes are not there.

But more likely is passage of the Senate bill by the House with some 216-218 votes, cementing the termination of Congressional tenure for 50 Democrats or more in that House come November.

I hope while you're on site, you get a chance to read the comment to our last post made by "Rufus T. Firefly" which makes many good points in spite of disagreeing with some of the post. Whatever the plausible merits of the Health bill might be, they are beside the point of what is actually going on here, and why this has been a partisan political fight from the beginning. The Dems grab for 17 per cent of the economy, similar to 1994's effort, is about recruiting and expanding public sector SEIU members who would have a major stake in expanding government revenues, Democratic politics, and fundraising (from union dues) to support both. This is simply about using socialist policies and programs to solidify political power through a sophisticated feedback loop. It is more subtle than what Chavez does in Venezuela, but with similar goals and outcomes. Now do you understand the left's otherwise incomprehensible crush on Chavez and others of his ilk?

In fact, this explains the disappointment of the MoveOn.org crowd with the bill, since Dems were forced to delay the public option. Make no mistake that it is still the intent of Dems to add a public option and take private enterprise (not just insurers) out of the health care business. Pelosi has said as much in speeches to the party's base. The current bill is "just a starting point."

It also explains the right's bid to use the Tea Party movement to galvanize opposition to the bill and rehabilitate the GOP. And that's working.

On the merits, everyone knows the CBO numbers are fictional and that there is no effort being made to control costs. Just the opposite. For a preview of the Federal fisc in a few years, just take a look at the fiscal condition in New York, California, New Jersey, Illinois, and any of a number of other broken states that tried to do more and provide a bigger safety net than they could really afford.

In fact, that's the bottom line. Sure, it would be nice if health insurance were an entitlement (health care already is, no one is refused care, though there may be limits) but it is not affordable. (Why are so many people uninsured anyway? Because for many the calculus is that they should risk going without, even if they would prefer to be covered. This goes for medicaid eligibles too. Many who could sign up simply don't). Over the years, we have learned that Medicare as constructed really isn't affordable either. Social Security was affordable as originally constructed (but we on the right would have constructed it differently) but not with the benefit package that has evolved. When GWB challenged the third rail and proposed to fix that system, he was brutally pilloried for his partial privatization plan.

The Obama socialist ethic is deeply imbued in the Community Organization work he did before he became a legislator. If you listen carefully to the left wing of the Democratic party in Congress, the class warfare drumbeat is constant for socialist entitlements. This is a cultural and political agenda, borne of frustration with a capitalist system that is admittedly difficult to negotiate for those starting with a smaller bankroll. However, ours is the only system that offers the mobility to overcome that handicap. If EU style socialism, with cradle to grave government support is so great, why isn't there a flock of emigres from the US to Europe, or even to Canada? Why do we have immigrants flowing here in a constant stream, legal or otherwise, whether government benefits are available or not? We all know the answer - this is where the opportunity is, the chance for a better life. But it won't be for our descendants if they gravitate to socialist solutions.

I'd like to believe that someday, Thomas Sowell will be revered and remembered rather than Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or Ralph Nader. Thomas Who? His writings point the way to a better life for today's challenged youth, but chances are, few have heard of him or ever read his writings.

Unfortunately, I'm not very bullish on the future of our younger generation. While there are exceptional kids in every generation, too much of today's youth seems more than willing to accept a mediocre outlook, rely on entitlements, and get by. They have absorbed 12 years of ceaseless brainwashing in the public schools by unionized teachers and textbooks that subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, promote liberal causes and standards of thinking. They just don't seem driven enough to me and capitalism thrives on drive. They don't even seem that interested in what's going on and how it affects their future. They have a vague idea that things aren't setting up well for them, but somehow that's not their fault and they don't think they can impact it. I hope I'm wrong. Either way, they will get the government they deserve.

That's what makes the elections of 2010 and 2012 so important. The boomers and X generations will have a short window to dominate the electorate, and they constitute the last generations where the public schools were still used as an assimilation tool to promote the republican form of democracy in America, the Constitution, scientific methods free from political influence, and the paramount importance of achievement as the surest road to a better life. If 2010 is just about anti-incumbency, it's about nothing. That's just exchanging the current set of bums for a new set. If it's about a broken state like Massachusetts turning to a Scott Brown, that's something that could make a difference.
One amusing thing noted in the poltical nonsense that passes for Sunday morning news shows is the Dems' insistence that their bill does not do what it plainly does- provide for a government takeover of health care and insurance. They blame the bill's image on the fear tactics used by their Republican opponents. But can this really be the case? Are they actually saying that somehow their oratorical greats like Obama, Kennedy, Rockefeller and Waxman have been outdebated by the likes of Cantor, Ryan and (shudder) Boehner and McConnell?

We raised some drinking money on St. Patrick's Day selling 400 shares of Newpark Resources (NR) at 5.61. We'll have the purchase info on that little block for the first post after Denver. On the 19th, we bought 25 more shares of Con Ed preferred (ED.PR.A) for the IRA at 89.25, More de-risking.

We're off to Denver on Tuesday to baby sit the insurance commissioners and try to keep them from doing any more mischief. Maybe, we can find a friendly computer out there for a post.

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