Doug Archives

The Free Market Wins Again

If you know the name Martin Shkreli, it’s likely because news stories about his popped up on your Facebook or Twitter feed. I saw articles about him from folks who don’t usually post about current events, but what he did had many people in an uproar.

He was criticized last month after his Turing Pharmaceuticals company announced an increase in the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per capsule after buying the rights to sell the drug. Daraprim is the only approved treatment for a life-threatening parasitic infection. Many of my more liberal friends used this to “prove” that the free market has failed, and that government must step in to assure affordable medicine for all. The uproar caused Shkreli to reconsider the price hike.

I came somewhat to his defense, noting that the reason he was able to acquire the rights to the drug was because the previous company wasn’t making a profit. So instead of those needing the drug being left high and dry, someone with enough money to do so kept it from going away entirely. Clearly the previous company didn’t price it well enough to keep it around, so an increase was inevitable. But I, too, thought the price hike was rather over the top.

But in steps the free market. In a situation where one company is price gouging, the opportunity for another company to work it to their advantage is ripe. Which is exactly what happened.

A San Diego biomedical company on Thursday announced it’s selling an alternate medication to Daraprim for $1 a capsule, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Mark L. Baum, CEO of Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, told the paper that one catch is that its formula isn’t FDA-approved and may be sold only through a doctor’s prescription to a specific person. He added that the process of getting FDA approval would take years and cost millions, while not filing keeps prices low and profits higher.

Some folks seem to think that making a profit is evil in and of itself, never mind drug manufacturers doing it, but without profit, there is no money to research new medicines. And part of the cost of that research is the government. Ironically, it’s the government that some folks believe can save us from these price hikes. Sorry, when government gets involved, that’s not what happens.

So somehow, without a new law being passed or a new rule being created by the FDA, the situation rectified itself, and those needing help now have a lower-price option than even before Shkreli bought the rights.

Hillary and Bernie seem to think that government is our savior in all things, and that the free market has failed. Well, it’s not, and it hasn’t. Without government’s help, the price of medication has gone down, rightly punishing a bad decision on the part of one company. You can thank the free market for a lower price, and the choices you have. When the government screws up, you can’t just switch governments, but you can switch corporations far, far more easily.

Be Sociable, Share!

    In discussing the gun issue on Facebook from my personal account with some friends, a couple of studies were referred to me that show, generally, more guns, more murder. Now, it kinda’ does make sense that the more guns you have in an area, chances are the more gun violence you’ll see. But my issue with these kinds of studies is that they just count guns, as if it’s the guns acting on their own.

    But consider this. If you compare the number of guns in gangland Chicago vs the number in a quiet suburb of gun-loving Texas, you’d see pretty quickly that just counting numbers of guns is misleading. It depends on who has them. And what has been clear from what we see is that highly restrictive gun control law shift the balance from the good guys to the bad. The UCC shooter had more guns on him than those who were physically carrying one among the campus population. And in fact, the UCC shooting is something of a microcosm of my point.

    When the shooter arrived, the number of guns on campus increased dramatically, and he started killing with them. More guns, more murder. But then, twenty minutes later, the armed police arrived. When faced with good guys with guns, the bad guy with a gun killed himself. More guns…less murder.

    So who had the guns made all the difference. And when UCC needed help, who did unarmed security guy call? Guys with guns.

    So the mantra of the pro-gun crowd is that a good guy with guns will stop a bad guy with a gun. ThinkProgress, the liberal blog, noted an MSNBC report of a guy who did have a weapon on campus, and suggested there were others. So see? A good guy with a gun didn’t help the situation! Well, if you actually listen to the guy talk, he said he was quite a distance from the building where the shooter was, so that going that distance with an active shooter around would make them targets, and having to go that far they might be mistaken by the police for the bad guys. If the shooter had been close at hand, though, he was ready.

    So here’s a guy being a responsible citizen, keeping himself and others out of the line of fire, not acting like a vigilante and not trying to hunt down the shooter. If he’d tried and gotten hurt, he’d likely be castigated by ThinkProgress as proof that good guys with guns are no protection. Instead, he used as an example that good guys with guns are no protection. They get to grind their ax either way. Only if he’d acted irresponsibly and it happened to work could he be in any way shown as an example of a good guy with a gun. But then ThinkProgress, I imagine, would rightly suggest that this was a bad idea in general. No matter how it worked out, they get to use this story in pursuit of their agenda.

    Look, nobody ever said that a good guy with a gun is a guarantee of a particular outcome. But if you criminalize self-defense, if you outlaw the carrying of a weapon by otherwise law-abiding citizens, you can be guaranteed that there will be no one available to help out. As Glenn Reynolds often says, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

    People often try to get to what they call the “root cause” of crime. Some say that poverty creates crime. If that were so, we should have had an explosion of it during The Great Depression. If that were so, the wealthy Osama bin Laden shouldn’t have been a problem, or Bernie Madoff, or any of a number of white collar criminals. If poverty is a contributing factor, seems it would be hard to spot a trend.

    Let’s stick with mass shootings for a moment. There’s a link in the show notes to an article showing that mass shootings have been getting more frequent, even before Sandy Hook. It’s to an article in Mother Jones, which is a magazine and website with a decidedly liberal political bent, so folks who often dismiss information because it was reported by Fox or Breitbart can’t just handwave it away. President Obama was right that it seems he’s coming out to do press conferences quite a lot after these incidents.

    But what has changed? Our gun laws are pretty much the same as they were under George W. Bush. And if the guns in these shootings were obtained illegally, it should be no surprise that criminals don’t obey the law. We had a recession, but, if you listen to the administration, the economy has been looking better all the time. And if you look at the motivations of these shooters, few if any had an economic motivation. What about mental health? Many of these shooters had issues in that area, but then again, we’ve had guns and mental health issues in this society for over a century, but haven’t seen anything like this in the past. So is it more complicated than that? Perhaps. But perhaps not.

    I want to turn to some time-tested wisdom, in updated language, that explains this pretty well.

    Wise discipline imparts wisdom; spoiled adolescents embarrass their parents. When degenerates take charge, crime runs wild, but the righteous will eventually observe their collapse. Discipline your children; you’ll be glad you did—they’ll turn out delightful to live with. If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

    These are the words of a government official, King Solomon, as written in Proverbs 29, and from The Message translation. It really brings out much of the meaning of the Bible if the King James Version seems a little opaque.

    There is much in here about discipline; internally to ourselves and externally to those in our charge. But it comes down to that last part. “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves…” King Jimmy phrased it, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” What has been happening in our society? The influence of the Christian church has been waning. You don’t have to be a theologian or historian to notice that. There are a number of reasons for that, not the least of which is part of the church is watering down or outright rejecting of some of its own teachings. But our society has also decided that moral restraints are not needed, and everyone should do what they want.

    And, indeed, some have done exactly that. Some Facebook friends have told me that they believe human nature is essentially good. But Solomon, thousands of years ago, saw human nature for what it was, and realized that only God can change it, in the individual and in society at large. Are we just harvesting what we planted? Solomon figured that out. I think we’ve forgotten it.

    I’d say, “pardon the sermonizing”, if I thought this wasn’t useful, but I think it most definitely is. It wasn’t some feel-good words over a graphic of a sunrise or a flower. It was, I believe, the truth, and a truth that has been the truth for a very, very long time.

    Be Sociable, Share!

      Closely Held Corporate Policies

      An Office Depot in Schaumburg, Illinois refused to print flyers with a prayer on them. The prayer would be distributed by pro-life women praying for the people in Planned Parenthood. The prayer asked God to work in the hearts of the workers to convert them and stop performing abortions. The women tried to get Office Depot’s Office of the Chairman to reverse the decision, but was told that wouldn’t happen.

      The company claimed the prayers advocated the persecution of people who support abortion, and so they wouldn’t print it. So now, praying for conversion, enlightenment and salvation is considered an act of persecution. You know, it doesn’t matter your religious beliefs, how can anyone consider that the slightest bit of persecution?

      If a Christian printer were given a flyer to print that advocated something he or she disagreed with on religious grounds, you know what the outcome would be? And yet Office Depot can come up with its own policy out of thin air, refuse to take some business, and few even take notice.

      The double-standard is persecution, especially when it includes excessive fines and re-education. Yeah, yeah, it’s nothing like how Christians are persecuted under ISIS or the Chinese government, but it’s indicative of a trend in this country that goes against the tolerance that the Left claims to revere.

      I’ll say it again; businesses are allowed to decide who they’ll do business with. They are all equal in this regard, but apparently some are more equal than others.

      Related to this is an article that asks, “Is the Left Losing Their Hold on Pop Culture?” It provides a few quotes from celebrities who, while clearly on the Left otherwise, standing up for Christian bakers, and Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. Here’s one to consider:

      Once again, the gay community feels the need to be sore winners. Is it so difficult to allow this woman her religion? Or must we destroy her in order for her to betray her faith. No matter how we judge, it’s truth. The rights we have all fought for, mean nothing, if we deny her hers.

      If you don’t recognize the name Christopher Ciccone, that’s OK. I wouldn’t have either if he hadn’t been identified in the article as Madonna’s openly gay brother. Just a few people are quoted, but it at least gives me hope that the over-reaction from the Left on these issues are at least causing the more sober thinkers on the Left to reconsider the slippery slope that they’ve put us on. I guess the question is; how big an impact is this having? The article I reference in the show notes does indicate a 4-to-1 agreement with freedom over force, which is an encouraging sign. But businesses are still being put out of business over this, so it seems that we’ve got quite a vocal minority winning the day.

      Be Sociable, Share!

        Nobel Regrets

        Quick trivia question: Who won Nobel Peace Prize in 2009? The answer; newly-elected President Barack Obama. And the obvious follow-up question is, why? To his credit, he wasn’t sure why either. The thought was that this would encourage him to be a peace-maker. A new book is at least shedding some light on the regrets that the Nobel committee had in making that decision.

        In a new memoir titled "Secretary of Peace: 25 years with the Nobel Prize," Geir Lundestad, the non-voting Director of the Nobel Institute until 2014, writes that he has developed doubts about the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to grant Obama the Nobel Peace Prize over the past six years. While the prize was designed to encourage the new president, it may have not have worked out as intended.

        When I posted this on the “Consider This!” Facebook page (my podcast), listener Pil Orbison said that, while President Obama wasn’t a Helen Keller or Indira Ghandi, no two Nobel prizes are alike. She said that what Obama did for the economy and healthcare certainly gave others a better outlook on our nation, and no other President could have done that.

        Let’s set aside whether or not what Obama has done has improved either the economy or health care. The Nobel Peace prize is for what you actually have accomplished, not for what the committee hopes you will accomplish. That standard isn’t applied to any other Nobel Prize. They don’t give out the Chemistry award for what someone might discover, or to someone who shows promise in that field. The Peace Prize has, or should have, the same criteria.

        Sure, the Nobel committee can have whatever criteria they want, but this article shows what can happen when you pin your hopes on a guy just because of his politics or the promises he made on the campaign trail. Politicizing the prize cheapens it for those who truly deserve it; people like Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malala Yousafzai, or PLO terrorist Yassar Arafat. Oh yes, he got one too.

        Be Sociable, Share!

          The Guns of Oregon

          On October 1st, 2015, Chris Harper-Mercer went onto the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, went into a classroom, and started shooting. As I write this, the death toll sits at 9, with 7 wounded. It shocked the nation, again. As it should. The President of the United States held a press conference to express condolences to the families of the victims, as he should. The problem was, he didn’t stop there. He followed up his comforting words immediately with fightin’ words.

          Just 6 hours after the shooting, and when details about it were still very sketchy, President Obama came out with guns blazing, so to speak, pushing for more gun control. We didn’t know the name of the shooter, we didn’t know how he got the guns, and we weren’t even sure of the casualty count. But none of that mattered to him. I understand and share his anger and frustration at the various mass shootings in this country, but even before we knew any relevant details, he was out there calling again for “common-sense gun-safety laws”.

          This is a classic mistake that politicians of both parties make; jumping the gun, so to speak, in order to make political points while the emotions are high. They propose new laws in order to be seen as doing something, even if that something would have done nothing to solve the problem at hand. They try to get their agenda passed because something must be done, and this is something, so it must be done.

          Those who despise the Patriot Act should realize that part of the reason it passed was because it was “something”. I think the Patriot Act has actually kept us safer, but it did indeed go too far in certain areas and needed to be scaled back. Passing gun control while emotions are high, and before we even know where our current laws failed, would make the same exact mistake. Keep that in mind. The President said that he thought this issue should be politicized. Sorry, but that’s the worst idea ever. Read the rest of this entry

          Be Sociable, Share!

            Charlie Hebdo Follow-up; Surrender

            “Je Suis Charlie!” That was the hashtag activism that came out of the Islamic extremist attack on the offices of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, in response to their cartoons of Mohammed. It was the most French many of us had ever spoken, defending a satire magazine that most of us had never heard of prior to that.

            I don’t like it when cartoonists mock Jesus, but in America the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, and so they are allowed to. In France, this same idea was behind the Je Suis Charlie movement. We will not be intimidated by extremists.

            Right up until we are.

            Recently, the Charlie Hebdo editor-in-chief, whose name is in the article in the show notes and which I will not attempt in case I butcher it, waved the white flag of surrender and said that the magazine would no longer draw cartoons of Mohammed. A dozen of his colleagues died for, and the world erupted in support of, their right to mock. All that was for naught. Violence prevailed. The terrorists won.

            To be sure, you can understand their concern. Who wants to poke that particular hornet’s nest again? Why put yourself in that literal line of fire? But his reasoning seemed to be strained. He claimed, “The mistakes you could blame Islam for can be found in other religions.” Perhaps, although the offices were not shot up by enraged Evangelicals, cantankerous Catholics, agitated Jews, or belligerent Buddhists. In fact, the terrorism perpetrated worldwide has predominantly come from one particular religion, but it’s not politically correct to notice that. Oh, and interestingly, no word from Charlie Hebdo about no longer drawing cartoons mocking Jesus. They know perfectly well that the Christian response will most likely be a strongly-worded letter. #ReligionOfPeace

            So just in case you were wondering whatever happened to all that solidarity and righteous indignation spent in the service of free speech, that’s what happened. The French surrendered.

            Be Sociable, Share!

              I’ve not lived in a state that has the Whataburger chain, but I know that folks who do love their stuff. The Whataburger chain in Texas decided recently that it would not allow the open carrying of guns in any of its restaurants. Management said that some patrons felt uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm. They will, however, still allow those carrying a legal concealed weapon to enjoy their burgers on the premises.

              Let me just say that I will defend Whataburger’s right to deny service to open-carry patrons. It’s their right to determine who they will and won’t serve, or who they allow on their premises, even if what those patrons are doing is perfectly lawful. They can conduct their business as they see fit, and potential customers can choose to eat where they want. This is what we call “freedom” and “the free market”.

              But boy oh boy, if they are ever asked to cater a same-sex wedding, they’d better comply. It’s much less dangerous to the life of your business to exclude lawful gun owners. If you think it’s silly to create a hypothetical situation where someone would ask Whataburger to cater a wedding, just ask Memories Pizza in Indiana how silly it is to ask a hypothetical question about catering a same-sex wedding with pizza. But you may find that difficult to ask; their answer closed their business. #LoveWins?

              Be Sociable, Share!

                Lessons From the Greek Tragedy

                Imagine, if you will, a guy who fills out a loan application, but lies on it about his current financial situation, or he tells the truth about his bad situation but signs a promise to get his financial house in order if he can get this loan. Now let’s say he doesn’t make the changes he promised, but spends the money on the same things that got him into the mess he was in before the loan. When it’s time to make payments on the loan, he complains he doesn’t have the money and wants to renegotiate the terms of the existing loan and get a new one.

                You’re the loan officer. What do you do? The guy’s telling you he needs the money to eat and to pay his other bills. But he didn’t change his free-spending ways like he promised and now he’s in a bind again. Is it prudent to give more cash to a guy who can’t change his spending habits, and can’t repay what you’ve already given him?

                No, it’s not. That’s not being heartless; that’s just being a good steward of the bank’s money. And if you keep giving this guy money, and he doesn’t repay it, what about the depositors who’s money it is that you’re handing out? When they need their money, where will it be?

                The guy I’m talking about is the country of Greece. And just like Margaret Thatcher’s description, their socialism was working great, right up until they ran out of other people’s money. You can only soak the rich for so long, and so they went to the European and international banks for bailouts. And more bailouts. But each time, though they promised to mend their free-spending, socialist ways, they didn’t and wound up in the same situation.

                There are 2 major problems that this situation has highlighted. First, the European Union has certainly caused state sovereignty to seep out of the individual countries, such that it’s understandable why citizens of Greece would be insisting that the EU be held at least partially responsible. If Greece must bow to the EU on some matters, the EU must be willing to help. With great power-grabs come great responsibility.

                But the other major problem is one that our own country needs to come to terms with. The Greek government got in over its head with promises it made to various groups. Welfare, pension, and other government payments got to the point where merely servicing those was drowning the country in debt. They made the promises, so they had to keep them. And when the government over-promised, the people voted in politicians who would give them more stuff, until the government had to tax and tax, and borrow and borrow, to keep up. And all that taxing and borrowing reduces economic growth and devalues the currency. So more taxing and more borrowing, and the death spiral continues.

                So then, who should pay for the bad choices of the Greek people? Should we allow the Greeks to default on their obligations, and then have the German and the French people have to bail out their banks? How in the world is that fair? “But what about the Greek people?”, those on the Left were asking when those Greek people voted to stiff their creditors. “Why should they be punished for the actions of their government?” Well, because they voted for the guy who squandered the money and walked into the bank to ask for more. And if the Greeks are let off the hook, there are other European countries looking to try the same ploy. I’m looking at you, Spain, Portugal and Italy.

                The problem is that the Greeks poked a big hole in their own boat, and no amount of bailing by themselves will keep them afloat. More bailers, if you will, would help, and the EU is going to continue to help in the bailing, but the Greeks need to agree to quit making the hole bigger, and take steps to plug it. That’s going to take some hard choices on their part, but that’s the problem with socialism. Once you get used to the idea of free money and benefits, you get to thinking that they are your “right”. Going back to fiscal responsibility is a much harder road to travel.

                The Greeks are learning that lesson. Well, I hope they are. I’m not so sure after they voted to default on their loans. I also hope that we’ll learn it, too. But I begin to wonder about my fellow countrymen when I see how popular presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is, who is an avowed socialist. “Ignore the News, Vote for Sanders!”

                Be Sociable, Share!

                  In June of 2013, the Supreme Court’s liberals declared that the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton, was unconstitutional, because, as they said, the power of the individual state in defining marriage is “of central relevance", and the decision to grant same-sex couples the right to marry is "of immense import." Basically, it’s the state, and not the federal government, which should determine what marriage is and license accordingly.

                  Two years to the day later, those same liberals overrode those immensely important marriage laws in 14 states and proclaimed same-sex marriage from the federal bench. And it once again proves something I’ve said on this podcast so many times; for the Left, it is all about politics. Constitutional matters, federalism, and some supposed regard for the rule of law, all of it, take a back seat in order to get their political agenda passed. The individual state’s ability to define what marriage is, is of central relevance, right up until it isn’t.

                  Chief Justice John Roberts, in his dissent, noted this, "This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us.” Right, that’s what states were allowed to determine on their own, and in fact it was going that way with, as I said, only 14 states left holding on to traditional marriage.

                  I will say, as an aside, that this thought by Roberts – that the court is not a legislature – was rather ironic, given his previous rewriting of ObamaCare. It’s like two, two, two Supreme Court chief justices in one!

                  Let me ask you this; which would have been better? Should the Court have allowed same-sex marriage to work its way through the culture, gaining support as it had been doing, or do what it did and just impose it by judicial fiat? Before you answer, consider how well that worked for abortion. It is still a hard fought battle in the culture, and in the state legislatures as well. Rather than let it organically happen democratically, abortion was imposed, and the backlash has been with us ever since. I oppose abortion, and I also oppose a government that will override me and my state’s rights to govern ourselves. I oppose same-sex marriage, but again, the Court’s liberals (and if I may, it seems that liberals in general) have no problem holding state law immensely important one day, and the next day overruling them, so long as their political agenda is served. As I mentioned in the previous episode, the process is just as important as the outcome, and the process, both here and with the ObamaCare ruling, are deeply flawed and set a bad precedent for future courts to reinterpret words, and override the will of the people.

                  There have been many predictions about what comes next. Some, on the pages of TIME magazine, are already pushing polygamy. That effort has been going on for years, but it got a boost with this ruling. There are those already calling for the abolishing of tax exempt status for religious institutions – churches and religious schools – that won’t teach the liberal orthodoxy about same-sex marriage or won’t perform them. These are likely coming down the road. But, as Erick Erickson noted, the first thing to come will be … silence. The day of the ruling, a newspaper in Pennsylvania said they wouldn’t print letters to the editor on the topic anymore. I have a friend who, when asked what the Bible says about homosexuality, gave a straight answer (so to speak) and was immediately pounced on for being bigoted and hateful. You don’t have to thump anyone with a Bible anymore; it just has to be in the room for someone to claim you’re evil.

                  So silence will fall, but just because you don’t hear a particular opinion anymore doesn’t mean it’s not there. However, if a baker or a photographer can be put out of business for not participating in a same-sex wedding, how much more of a target are those churches that won’t perform them for what 5 justices have now deemed is a “fundamental right”?

                  With the ObamaCare and the same-sex marriage rulings, the court has done two things. It has taken power away from you at both the federal and state level.

                  If you ever complained that Washington, DC was unresponsive to the needs of the people, the ObamaCare ruling should bother you, at the very least. That is, unless you’re celebrating the topic of the ruling, then the process is likely nothing you’re concerned about. I’ve seen it in my Facebook feed. However, from this day forward, federal agencies like the IRS, and all the way up to the President, don’t have to restrain themselves to the actual wording of the laws Congress passes. ObamaCare said you got subsidies through exchanges established by the states, but an unelected federal agency changed that. Your representatives, and by extension you, have lost more influence. The government can do what it wants.

                  And if you ever complained that your state government was unresponsive to the needs of the people, the same-sex marriage ruling should bother you, too. But again, the winners are too busy celebrating to see how this, too, has erased their influence and yours at the state level. It just takes 5 Supreme Court justices to invalidate anything a state does. Vote however you want, call your state representative as much as you want, but in the end, a majority of 9 unelected justices get the final say for over 320 million people. One man, one vote, indeed.

                  If you celebrate these rulings, and if you’ve ever been a proponent of power to the people, or you’ve ever put forth the idea that every vote should count, you either have not been paying attention, or have no idea at all what those phrases even mean. At least, I’d really hope that this can all be explained by ignorance and apathy, because the alternative is worse; willful misuse of the founding principles of this country, and that will bring us down faster than any law you can pass.

                  The Left loves the platitude “Government is just another name for the things we choose to do together.” Of course, by the phrase “choose to do together”, they mean “use a panel of 9 lawyers to force everyone to do what they want”. Platitudes are useful in the meantime, but in the end, for the Left, it’s all about politics.

                  Be Sociable, Share!

                    The Supreme Court case, King v Burwell, was essentially a question of whether the ObamaCare law would be interpreted as written, or as it was meant to be written, as best as the justices could divine the intent of Congress. The particular issue was whether the IRS could provide subsidies to those who needed them in states where they had their own health insurance exchanges, or in all states, even if they didn’t have an exchange.

                    What the law said was that the IRS would administer those subsidies through the exchanges “established by the states”. However, what the IRS did was to funnel them through state and federal exchanges, which is not what the law, y’know, actually said. They essentially reinterpreted the law to mean that exchanges not established by the states qualified as exchanges established by the states.

                    Some states said, no, that’s an unconstitutional reading of the law. There are other places in the law where it specifically refers to the states and the federal government combines, but it does not here. That is true. Here’s something else painfully true; this particular wording was exactly what was meant when the law was written.

                    How do we know this? Jonathan Gruber, the well-paid architect of the law itself, told us so. It was a classic carrot-and-stick approach. The carrot was billions in tax dollars. The stick was that if you didn’t set up a state exchange, you wouldn’t get any of it. There a link in the show notes to a video explaining all this and him saying, “I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.”

                    This was not a case of trying to read a crystal ball and discover the intent. This was not trying to reach into the minds and writings of the founding fathers and trying to glean what they meant on some obscure constitutional point. You can’t search YouTube to find out what Washington and Jefferson were thinking, But Gruber is all over the Internet, on and off the record.

                    This was a game of chicken. Would the states blink first, and all setup exchanges, or would the feds blink and change the law. As it turned out, the fed’s blinked, but instead of changing the law, they just did what they wanted, and the IRS (which, last I checked, was not part of the legislative branch of the government) ruled that it would provide subsidies through the federal exchange as well.

                    And Chief Justice John Roberts and his cohort said, “Eh, seems legit.” OK, the ruling was a bit longer than that – 21 pages longer – but in the end that’s what they did. They claimed that if the subsidies were stopped it would ruin the implementation of ObamaCare, ignoring completely that that was the point all along.

                    Justice Scalia, writing in his typically entertaining dissent (which is basically the high point of this whole ruling), said that if an exchange not established by a state is actually an exchange established by a state, then words have no meaning. Truer words, that do have meaning, have never been spoken.

                    I don’t think those who are celebrating and praising this ruling have any idea at all what it could mean in the future for the power government has over us. And by “those who are celebrating”, I mean, generally, Democrats. The process, however fatally flawed and upside down it is, doesn’t matter as long as they get what they want. It’s always about politics.

                    From this point on, federal government agencies can now interpret the law any way they please. Really. Restrictions that were in place in the ObamaCare law were cheerfully ignored in furtherance of a political agenda, and the Supreme Court gave them 6 thumbs up. George Will, writing at the Washington Post, put it this way.

                    The most durable damage from Thursday’s decision is not the perpetuation of the ACA, which can be undone by what created it — legislative action. The paramount injury is the court’s embrace of a duty to ratify and even facilitate lawless discretion exercised by administrative agencies and the executive branch generally.

                    Theprocess has been butchered by this ruling. Sure, ObamaCare proponents got what they wanted, but at a price to their own power as a people that I’m sure they are blissfully unaware of. The political process of a government restrained by law, influenced by the people, which has been slowly eroding anyway, just did a nose dive.

                    You say lobbyists have too much power? I’d agree, because they just had to go to one place – Congress – to spend their dollars budgeted for graft. Now, they can bypass the middleman and go straight to the IRS or any other federal agency and bribe an unelected bureaucrat. And that bureaucrat doesn’t have a campaign coffer he or she needs to keep funded, so it’ll be cheaper for the lobbyist. It’s a win-win! But remember, you don’t figure into either of those two wins.

                    Some folks, when I bring this up, claim I’m just mad because my side lost. Well, I don’t deny that I don’t like the outcome of the ruling, but even beyond that, and looming larger, is the power grab I see in DC. Unfortunately, all I get in dissent is, “Blah blah blah. Too bad. You lost. I don’t care.” Yes, literally, those words.

                    Be Sociable, Share!

                      On Wednesday evenings around the country, many churches hold mid-week services or children’s programs, or bible studies. Sometimes, all three. A few weeks ago, a pastor was leading one of those Bible studies when a visitor came into the church and sat in on the group. He was welcomed to join in. He requested to sit next to the pastor, and so he did.

                      An hour passed by with readings from the Bible and discussion, perhaps about what the text meant, perhaps about how to apply it personally. Even, perhaps, asking for the visitor’s thoughts, though I would imagine that the group, not wishing to create an awkward situation, probably didn’t push him to participate in an unfamiliar setting, content to let him listen in, and yet willing to let him speak should he want to.

                      I don’t know what was discussed, or what the passage was that was the topic of the evening, but the visitor later said that the people were very nice to him. So nice, he said, that he almost … almost … didn’t do what he had come there to do. But in the end, he did, and when he was done, the pastor and 8 others had been shot dead.

                      Dylann Roof had come there to start a race war; to start an uprising that would supposedly boil over into a full-blown conflict.

                      At this point, we can only guess what he imagined the sequence of events would be leading to that war. Certainly he had seen the news reports about riots in the streets in other cities when a white man killed a black man, so it’s conceivable that he thought his actions would create the same situation, only more violent, because unlike many of those other instances, these would be killings that were obviously pre-mediated, with no other explanation than hatred. He wouldn’t have any self-defense case. He wouldn’t be a cop who may, or may not, have thought his life was in danger. No, nothing would be murky about this. This would be a clear cut case of racially-motivated murder, possibly causing an even more violent reaction than those previously.

                      But all his plans were taken apart piece by piece, because of who he targeted. He targeted those who believed that you should love your enemies, and pray for those that hurt you. He targeted those who believe that the merciful are blessed. He targeted those who are told to forgive as freely as they themselves have been forgiven.

                      He targeted a Christian Bible study. And while he was committing those acts of hatred, of malice, of evil, he had no idea that he was also opening up the floodgates of the love that those he killed professed. Those that survived, and hundreds of others in Charleston, though undeniably hurting, expressed that love to him. A reporter covering the crowd that stood outside the arraignment had a difficult time keeping his composure in the face of such love.

                      Inside the proceedings, instead of acrimony and hatred, surviving family members expressed the forgiveness that the evil had certainly not expected.

                      I would like to note that the faith community in other cities with unrest – Baltimore, Cleveland, and others – did take a stand and tried to calm and heal the tensions in their area, sometimes meeting with gangs to come to a truce, sometimes with special services for those in need because of the riots. But because there were riots, they got the headlines, and the tweets, and the Facebook posts. But in Charleston, riots didn’t happen, so they didn’t mask what good things were happening.

                      So now it can be seen, and it is surprising, amazing and, dare I say, perplexing many who see the love of God in action. It’s been there, perhaps in the background, not grabbing the front page, but it’s been there nonetheless.

                      There are those that believe that God, or even just religion, isn’t necessary to express this kind of love. We can, so the idea goes, work this up within ourselves without any help, because the capacity is clearly there in people. I would say that, yes, the capacity is there, because we are made in the image of God, and since God is love, we too have that ability. But while we, within ourselves, might be able to approximate the appearance of such a love, it is but a dirty reflection of what is truly possible. If, instead, we let, not our love, but God’s love shine through us, that’s when you’ll see what it really looks like, and it will be surprising, amazing, and perplexing.

                      Some will ask, “Where was God? Why wasn’t He protecting His church?” That question has been asked many times, in many situations, throughout history. Perhaps one of the earliest examples of an answer to this comes from a man who was sold into slavery by his brothers. Through a series of events, over the course of years, he became second in command of the biggest economic power of his time. And in that position, was able to return good for evil, and save his family from a major catastrophe. You may recognize the Biblical story of Joseph, the son of Jacob. Or you may recognize the musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. Either way, when his brothers felt extremely uncomfortable in the presence of the one they hurt, Joseph forgives them, telling them that, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” We don’t always get to see the big picture – we may not live to see the big picture – but for those who trust Him, God uses the evil to work out the good. Dylann Roof intended to start a race war. He failed because God’s people let Him shine through them.

                      If you’re wondering how such forgiveness and love can really happen, I have a suggestion. Somewhere near you, very likely, is a church. Now, you don’t have to jump in completely to their Sunday service. You might just want to test the waters. Try getting your feet wet at, perhaps, a Wednesday night Bible study. One of those almost stopped a gunman filled with hate. Imagine what it could do for you.

                      Be Sociable, Share!

                        How One-Party Rule Has Affected Cities

                        A few thoughts on this particular subject.

                        Chicago, Illinois; the safest city in the US because of its strict gun control laws. Heh, no, not really. It’s got some of the highest gun crime in the country in spite of, or perhaps because of, it’s strict gun control laws. Gun control is one of those things that liberals insist works in spite of the reality to the contrary.

                        Here’s another: in spite of Chicago being a liberal paradise – not having a single Republican governor for over 80 years since 1931 – somehow the city’s economy is crumbling. It’s Democrats who keep insisting that they, and not Republicans, know how to bring the poor out of their situation, and believe that if we only spend enough money on a problem, it’ll get solved by government. And yet Moody’s Investor Service, which rates, among other things, the municipal bonds of cities, has downgraded Chicago’s credit rating to junk level. It also said that the city’s future outlook is negative, which I guess means that someday the credit rating could drop to “extra junk”, “junkier”, or maybe “double secret junk”.

                        I’ve mentioned Detroit, Michigan in the past. They’ve had Democratic mayors since 1962; about 30 years less than Chicago, but still over half a century. And yet the economy and infrastructure have seen better days. The city of Baltimore, Maryland was in the headlines for riots over the death of a black youth in police custody, and the state of its economy came to the fore during that; an economy where poverty was still rampant. And its mayors? Only 1 Republican since 1947.

                        Read the rest of this entry

                        Be Sociable, Share!

                          What’s Your Opinion of Opinion Polling?

                          The founder of our Stones Cry Out group blog, Rick Brady, was much more a student of polling than I, but I wanted to give a few observations of my own, such as they are.

                          The science of polling the general public has had its good and bad times, and it appears it’s going through one of those rough patches at the moment. Mark Olson, who also blogs here, refers to polls as “cricket races”; basically a snapshot of where things are in a particular race, that has as much bearing on our lives as a race amongst crickets. If it’s a slow news day, release the results from a poll, and call it news.

                          Some might put the word “science” in the phrase “science of polling” in scare quotes, not convinced that it’s much of a science at all. I do have some respect for those whose lives are in various statistical occupations. It seems like a black art, but, for example, one pharmaceutical client I worked for years ago had a Quality Assurance group that tested the products coming into the warehouse before they could be shipped out, and they explained quite a bit to me.  I couldn’t relate what they said now – I really can’t remember it all – but basically, given a good random sample, they could give you a good reading on whether or not the batch that just came in was good enough to ship out. Yeah, the only way to be totally sure was to test it all, but to get close enough to 100% sure without going overboard, there was a lot of science backing up their procedures.

                          Sampling people, on the other hand, is nowhere near as straightforward as sampling pharmaceuticals. People can say one thing, and yet do another. Which apparently happened in a big way over in the UK recently, when the conservative Tories trounced the liberal Labor Party in national elections, gaining their first outright majority since 1992. This even though Nate Silver, the US polling expert, had a look at all the UK polls and proclaimed that a Tory win of a majority of seats in Parliament was “vanishingly small when the polls closed – around 1 in 500.”

                          So much for that prediction. But the predictive value of polls is lessened when the pollsters themselves hide some of their results. It happened in the UK, and it happens quite a bit, apparently. No pollster wants to publish results that wind up being way out of line with those from other polls. No one wants to be the outlier, but that’s what happened in the UK. A last-minute poll by one group got the percentages virtually dead on to what the voting results were, but they didn’t publish it, “chickening out”, as the group’s CEO explained. It’s a herd mentality that we see in news coverage as well.

                          Read the rest of this entry

                          Be Sociable, Share!

                            Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act

                            The state of Indiana has come under fire for passing their version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. RFRA, as it’s called, was passed in response to court cases that eroded First Amendment protections of the exercise of religion. Religious freedom used to be judged on a case-by-case basis, considering whether each law had specific exemptions for religious groups. Charles Schumer, Democratic Senator from New York, introduced a bill in 1993 to set a standard on how religious freedom cases should be considered; using the same standard that another First Amendment protection – freedom of speech – was adjudicated. I’ll get to the details of that standard in a moment. The bill passed the US Senate 97-3, and by acclamation in the House. Bill Clinton signed it on November 16, 1993. Today, that same action at the state level is being called “bigoted” by Democrats.

                            States have been doing this ever since a Supreme Court decision said that the federal RFRA didn’t apply to the states. Most of the states that have one use language identical to the one Clinton signed. But while religious freedom used to be supported by Democrats, the rise of a particular protected class (and reliable Democratic voting bloc) changed all that; homosexuals. Once again, as we have seen so many times, politics trumps everything else for the Left, even, apparently, the Bill of Rights.

                            The fear being stoked is that this will allow Christian businesses to turn away gays just for being gay. Here are a couple of articles that are lists of frequently asked questions about the Indiana RFRA, and they explain, no, that sort of discrimination is not protected. If a Christian denies service to someone simply because they are gay, on the grounds that it’s a sin according to Christian doctrine, you would have a tough time proving those religious grounds in court. According to Christianity, we are all sinners. None of us are perfect. So that business owner would have to deny service to everyone, including him- or herself.

                            Participation, one way or another, in a same-sex marriage ceremony has been the typical cause of contention. And all of the examples that I’ve seen that have been taken to court are regarding business owners that would bake cakes, take pictures, or arrange flowers for a gay customer for any purpose other than a same-sex wedding ceremony. This is most definitely not discrimination against gays because they’re gay. It is, however, a religious objection to a ceremony that the business owner does not wish to participate in.

                            Read the rest of this entry

                            Be Sociable, Share!

                              The “Consider This” Podcast, Episode 100: Listener Feedback, and Mark Twain on Economics

                              It’s milestone time! Episode 100 of the Consider This Podcast has been released; conservative commentary in 10 minutes or less. (OK, but since this is a special occasion, that time limit has gone out the window.)

                              Well, I made it all the way to episode 100! If you’ve been listening, thanks so much. If you haven’t, might as well start now.

                              I start out the show with greetings and feedback from listeners. Yes, there are people out there actually listening to this, and I appreciate it very much.

                              Then we take a trip back to Camelot, as Mark Twain’s character did in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”. In that book, there is a short chapter about … economics. No, really. And it’s trying to teach a lesson that, over a hundred years later, we’re still having to relearn.

                              Let me know your thoughts on these or other subjects. Click on the link for the show notes and ways to send your feedback, including calling 267-CALL-CT-0 (267-225-5280) or emailing Subscribe to the podcast in iTunesStitcherBlubrry, or

                              Be Sociable, Share!
                                 Page 1 of 75  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »