Doug Archives

Wal-Mart Out-ObamaCares ObamaCare

One of the big promises of ObamaCare was that, with a much larger pool of insured people, the cost to the average individual or family would go down. That’s how insurance works, right? You spread out the risk over a bigger population, and the required payouts become less than the premiums taken in. More people, less risk, lower costs.

You’d think so. But as it turns out, the insurance offered by one of those eeevil corporations, Wal-Mart, beats the equivalent ObamaCare plan handily. David Todd, an independent insurance agent based in Little Rock, Ark., compared the health plans.

Todd looked at a 30-year-old woman who could qualify for the government subsidy. “The nonsubsidized premium is $205 a month for this 30-year-old. If they get a subsidy, then the premium is zero. But that person has to come up with $6,300 if something catastrophic happened,” he said.

The Walmart monthly premium for the same 30-year-old woman would be about $40. Her deductible would be $2,750, minus $250 in cash advance, for a total net deductible of $2,500.

Todd said some Obamacare exchange family plan deductibles can go as high as $12,000 before benefits kick in.

This is what the government considers “subsidized”; pay thousands up front and get your money back, depending on when you spent it, over a year from now. OK, but what is the actual coverage like? Very good question. Let’s take a look at some of the particulars.

Walmart also offers a free preventive health plan that mirrors the Obamacare plan. Its employees can take advantage of a wide range of free exams and counseling, including screenings for colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, chlamydia, diabetes, depression and special counseling for diet and obesity.

Their children can get more than 20 free preventive services, ranging including screenings for genetic disorders, autism and developmental problems to obesity, lead poisoning exposure and tuberculosis. There are also 12 free vaccinations, and free hearing and vision testing.

Walmart employees pay as little as $4 for a 30-day supply of generic drugs and only $10 for eye exams through a separate vision plan.

Oh, and in Chicago, where this comparison was done, Wal-Mart employees have access to about 2 ½ times as many doctors than those with ObamaCare do. What does it say about ObamaCare that doctors and hospitals would rather do business with a private company than with the government?

Well, it says that we’re going about this all the wrong way.

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    Live By the CBO, Die By the CBO

    Dana Milbank explains that the Congressional Budget Office issued glowing reports years ago about how ObamaCare was going to save money. The Obama administration trumpeted those findings far and wide. I noted at the time that the system was gamed because the administration knows the rules by which the CBO comes up with estimates, and wrote the bill to get the best looking numbers at the start. It wouldn’t matter that later estimates would be worse; it would have already been sold to the American people.

    But now, things are looking much worse.

    The congressional number-crunchers, perhaps the capital’s closest thing to a neutral referee, came out with a new report Tuesday, and it wasn’t pretty for Obamacare. The CBO predicted the law would have a “substantially larger” impact on the labor market than it had previously expected: The law would reduce the workforce in 2021 by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers, well more than the 800,000 originally anticipated. This will inevitably be a drag on economic growth, as more people decide government handouts are more attractive than working more and paying higher taxes.

    This is grim news for the White House and for Democrats on the ballot in November. This independent arbiter, long embraced by the White House, has validated a core complaint of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) critics: that it will discourage work and become an ungainly entitlement. Disputing Republicans’ charges is much easier than refuting the federal government’s official scorekeepers.

    The President’s spokesman, Jay Carney, tried to spin it as people who would "spend more time with their family", or perhaps become entrepreneurs. The latter guess is just that; a guess trying to make it sound wonderful. The former is a euphemism for living off the dole because the benefits are better.

    Carney noted that these were "personal choices", but he conveniently neglects to mention that they are personal choices spurred on by the government. People respond to incentives; that’s why things like tax deductions work the way they do. ObamaCare is pushing people to dependency.

    The CBO numbers prove it.

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      Escaping Canada (Temporarily)

      I knew that many Canadians were leaving their borders to come to the US to avoid the long waits they have to endure up there. I just didn’t know how many. Well a free-market think tank, the Frasier Institute, has published the numbers for 2013. Turns out just under 42,000 folks fled the country, at least temporarily, to jump the line and get the timely care they needed. That was down just slightly from the just over 42,000 that came here in 2012.

      This brings up a question in my mind. With the advent of ObamaCare down here, where will these folks go now? And I guess the next obvious question would be, where will we go?

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        Voter Fraud: Proven to be Easy and Undetectable

        One of the reasons used against the idea of requiring ID to vote is that there has been so little voter fraud detected, that this is a solution looking for a problem. Well, the Department of Investigations in New York City recently finished up a report that shows that voter fraud can be pretty darn easy. Worse, we would have no idea at all that it was actually happening.

        Undercover agents from the DOI tried to cast ballots as felons or dead people at 63 polling places last fall. Of the 63 attempts, 61, or 97%, were successful. Now, when they voted, they did so with a write-in for a fictitious “John Test” to keep from affecting the vote count. Ultimately, the DOI published its findings a few weeks ago in a 70-page report accusing the city’s Board of Elections of incompetence, waste, nepotism, and lax procedures.

        Of the two attempts that failed, in the first case, a poll worker followed the agent outside and the “voter” was advised to go to the polling place near where he used to live and “play dumb” in order to vote. In the second case, the investigator was stopped from voting only because the felon whose name he was using was the son of the election official at the polling place. So basically, we’re talking about a 100% success rate, completely undetectable, with just a few changes in circumstances.

        So the Board of Elections immediately got down to business and started coming up with ways to avoid this in the future. Heh, no, of course not. This is government we’re talking about! John Fund, who wrote the article I’m referring to, put it this way. “The Board approved a resolution referring the DOI’s investigators for prosecution. It also asked the state’s attorney general to determine whether DOI had violated the civil rights of voters who had moved or are felons, and it sent a letter of complaint to Mayor Bill de Blasio.”

        Yup, they pointed fingers instead of fixing the problem. That’s why the legislature needs to deal with this, so entrenched bureaucracies don’t stick us with a broken system that’s easily gamed. And, as I’ve noted before, when Georgia got its voter ID law, minority participation went up, and higher than majority participation did. A win-win situation, and one that gets around a government board that is too busy with their little fiefdom to do the right thing. Who could be against that?

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          Who Really Killed the Incandescent Light Bulb?

          This year, the traditional incandescent light bulb is becoming extinct. There was a big push by environmentalists to force the change to higher efficiency bulbs, like Compact Fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs. The idea was that they light with less energy, and so everyone should use them. Never mind the market; coercion was necessary.

          And one of the things they like to trumpet about this was that the light bulb industry supported this move. The thought is that if even they think it’s a good idea, government ought to force the issue. But not one of those environmentalists ever considered this:

          Competitive markets with low costs of entry have a characteristic that consumers love and businesses lament: very low profit margins. GE, Philips and Sylvania dominated the U.S. market in incandescents, but they couldn’t convert that dominance into price hikes. Because of light bulb’s low material and manufacturing costs, any big climb in prices would have invited new competitors to undercut the giants — and that new competitor would probably have won a distribution deal with Wal-Mart.

          Basically, with a low-cost light bulb, the major players in the market couldn’t just jack up the price on their wares. Someone else could step in and, with a low cost of entry into the light bulb market, build a better mousetrap, so to speak, and the world would beat a path to their door.

          Unless. Unless the light bulb companies could push government regulations that would make the bare minimum light bulb incredibly more expensive. They’d get their price hike, and they’d further their hold on the industry by keeping out competition, because start-up costs are now much higher.

          Now, you may be saying, “See, Doug? Eeevil corporations are to blame for this! And you’re always defending them!” Two things. First, the law itself is the problem, and the blame for that comes, not from corporations, but from a big government with the power to pass such a law, and which is more than willing to stick its hand into your wallet. Government did this, not corporations. And I’ll reiterate that, if you don’t like a corporation, you can stop buying from them immediately. If you don’t like your government, you’ll have to wait for the next election cycle, and hope there are enough people who agree with you.

          Second, I don’t blame corporations at all for trying to lobby the government for things that will benefit them. If I did blame them, then I’d have to blame every single grassroots organization that does the same sort of lobbying, even those environmentalists. Is lobbying the government an evil thing to do? Not at all! But government should know its boundaries and should stay within them. That’s why we have a constitution. But these days, the Constitution has been reinterpreted to say, for example, that you must buy a particular financial instrument. If the government can force you to buy something, I think it’s gone far beyond what the framers of the Constitution ever intended, and that power is for sale to the highest bidder.

          Oh, and consider this. If anyone claims that certain government policies are required because the free market has failed, just let them know that we really haven’t had a “free market” in decades. Light bulbs and ObamaCare are only the two most recent examples.

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            How World Poverty Fell 80% in Less Than 40 Years

            In 36 years, from 1970 to 2006, the world poverty rate fell 40%. 40%! This is huge news, but you probably didn’t hear about it anywhere else. I certainly didn’t until I saw the link someone posted. But the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would have put it, is how this happened. For the explanation, I defer to Arthur Brooks.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss80iuEBC6A

            It turns out that between 1970 and 2010 the worst poverty in the world – people who live on one dollar a day or less – that has decreased by 80 percent. You never hear about that.

            It’s the greatest achievement in human history, and you never hear about it.

            80 percent of the world’s worst poverty has been eradicated in less than 40 years. That has never, ever happened before.

            So what did that? What accounts for that? United Nations? US foreign aid? The International Monetary Fund? Central planning? No.

            It was globalization, free trade, the boom in international entrepreneurship. In short, it was the free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world.

            I will state, assert and defend the statement that if you love the poor, if you are a good Samaritan, you must stand for the free enterprise system, and you must defend it, not just for ourselves but for people around the world. It is the best anti-poverty measure ever invented.

            Not aid, not handouts, and not a government interfering with the economy; capitalism and free enterprise are the poor’s best friend. Remember this the next time a politician has a “bold new approach” to income inequality and poverty.

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              Creation Debate: Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham

              Tickets sold out immediately for the Answers in Genesis Museum’s night of debate between Bill Nye "The Science Guy" and Ken Ham, proprietor of Answers in Genesis. The topic is “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”

              Since tickets sold out so fast, the debate will be live-streamed on the Internet at http://debatelive.org/ . The debate will be on Tuesday, February 4th, at 7pm. Should be interesting.

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                Did Democratic Dominance Doom Detroit?

                I posted something on my personal Facebook page about how one of the booming businesses in Detroit is photographing the dilapidated buildings. I labeled my link to the article, “Documenting decades of Democratic dominance.” Can you tell I like alliteration?

                This bothered one of my Democrat friends who said that my bias was showing, and that blaming Democrats for Detroit was like blaming Republicans for the Katrina response. His contention was that both were unfair. I, and some other friends of mine, had to point out a few differences.

                • The Republican administration wanted to come into Louisiana before the storm hit to be ready when it arrived, but the Democrats in the state capitol wouldn’t allow it.
                • The Democrats at the city level in New Orleans failed to use the resources they already had to evacuate their own people.
                • Democrats have been running Detroit for 50 years. To say that blaming their policies is unfair, is to make one wonder how long one party has to rule a city for their policies to actually affect that city.

                So no, the analogy isn’t even close. And the devastation in Detroit wasn’t caused by Mother Nature, either.

                This is yet another example of how Democrats seem to take the stance that it’s never their policies that failed, and in fact the best way to solve any problems they cause is to do the same thing with more money. That has always been Paul Krugman’s solution regarding stimulus spending. That has always been the solution for failing public schools, poverty programs, and every other idea that just isn’t panning out the way they thought it should.

                Oh, and when ObamaCare drags down our economy, expect the same excuses, because we’re hearing them already. Republicans are being accuses of “sabotaging” it, when all they did was make the Democrats own it by not voting for it. As it is, the need to a revamp of the website, and delaying key parts of the law, are not sabotage by any means. But Republicans will get the blame while the Democrats will throw more money at a program that was sold as a way to reduce the deficit.

                Blame is useful, if it is honestly applied. Using it, we can find our mistakes, and correct them. Democrats will never accept it, even after a half century track record. Does that give you confidence?

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                  Bill de Blasio was recently elected as the mayor of New York City. De Blasio is a liberal Democrat, as opposed to the liberal Republican Michael Bloomberg, who just left the post. The NY Times wrote a rather hopeful piece on de Blasio just before the end of the year, which included this paragraph.

                  His administration could be a redemptive moment for a national left whose policies were often blamed for the crumbling of urban centers in the 1960s and 1970s, yet has now started to reassert itself in smaller jurisdictions with bold new approaches on issues like income equality and poverty.

                  1960s and 70s? How about the 2010? Detroit anyone? Anyone? Bueller? That city had half a century of Democratic rule, and look where it is now! But the Times conveniently forgets this, preferring to suggest that Democrats only screwed up 50 years ago, and really haven’t had a chance since then. These “bold new approaches” are simply novel ways of destroying the economy, which hurt the poor the most.

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                    This issue has been in the news before, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen an opinion from this high up in the Catholic church.

                    To deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians who are Catholic, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, “makes perfect sense” because it is a discipline that goes back to St. Paul, “the very first years of the Church,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis and now the chief justice at the Vatican’s highest court.

                    In an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo on Dec. 13, Cardinal Burke explained that it is necessary to protect the Sacrament, the Communion wafer offered at Masses, from “being profaned, being violated by someone receiving unworthily,” someone “who knows that he or she is unworthy and yet presumes to come forward and to take the Holy Eucharist.”

                    For our Catholic readers, what’s your take on this?

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                      Good news on the religious liberty front. Gabriel Malor writing at Ace of Spades give a great rundown of the main points of the district court judge’s ruling with regards to forcing the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to cover, or exempt themselves, from the ObamaCare™ requirement that they cover contraception or abortion. In a snark-less post, it’s just a matter-of-fact examination of the ruling, and why this may have a very tough road to the Supreme Court, assuming it’s appealed that far.

                      Some highlights (but, as they say, read the whole thing):

                      This is the first litigation to result in a final injunction against the contraception mandate for religious non-profit organizations that come within the Obama Administration’s purported exemption to the mandate.The 7th, 10th, and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeals have all found the mandate to be an unacceptable burden on the free exercise of religion for for-profit businesses that don’t come under the exemption. This case is important, though, because it recognizes that even the act of having to claim the exemption is an unacceptable burden on religion.

                      Very late in this case, the government realized that, although the Archdiocese and its constituent organizations are covered by the mandate, the regulations might not actually force a third party they designate to provide the objectionable contraception coverage. The judge was not amused:

                      The Obama administration has handed out so many exceptions to the law, it can no longer claim the law serves a compelling purpose.

                      The administration, as it has frequently done with respect to disobeying laws it does not like, argued that it had to enforce the contraception mandate in such an infringing manner because it could not do it any other way. The district court pointed out the obvious flaw in this line of thinking:

                      A very interesting and damaging ruling.

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                        Next Step: Accepting "Open Marriage"

                        Now that same-sex marriage has been accepted by some states, it’s no longer a draw for the evening news, so ABC News in America has decided to move on to the next big thing; open marriage. These are marriages where fidelity is more of a suggestion than anything else. It’s not polygamy, which at least formally acknowledges, in one manner or another, a lasting relationship with more than one spouse. Instead, open marriage, or polyamory, means two people are legally married while continuing to see other people.

                        So ABC News decided to present a generally positive quote-unquote “news” piece about those for whom commitment is something only for mentally disturbed people. The most critical thing said in the whole segment was that reporter Nick Watt thought it just wasn’t his thing, and that his wife wouldn’t like it. But the rest of the segment, including questions to a psychologist, was generally positive. Not a hint of an opposing viewpoint.

                        This is what passes for “news” in the 21st century; one-sided advocacy journalism. Even if Watt isn’t personally in favor of it, showing one side only, on a controversial topic, on a news show, is advocacy.

                        Do other news organizations do it? Yes, on both sides of the aisle. But while Fox News and the Wall Street Journal get lambasted anytime they don’t play it down the middle, so many liberal news watchers have such a blind spot when something like this airs. Conservative media bias is outrageous. Liberal media bias is…hey look, a unicorn!

                        The other issue, of course, is that those who said that same-sex marriage would lead to a slippery slope have been, yet again, proved absolutely on target. We aren’t falling for it, but the news media is pushing.

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                          UN Data Shows More Guns, Less Violence

                          “More guns, more violence”, so goes the mantra that, apparently, many liberal politicians and their voters keep chanting. In one way, it sort of makes sense, if you think about it without considering anything else other than the number of guns.

                          However, there were some maps made by the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime that tend to set this mantra on its ear. Remember, now; this is data from the UN, not some conservative think tank.

                          The map shows that where gun ownership is higher, the number of homicides is, generally speaking, lower. In most cases, where the country is orange or red on the gun ownership map – the high end of the scale – they’re green on the homicides map, meaning the low end. Places like the US, which no one would deny is awash in guns, to those places in Europe where you can still get them, more guns mean fewer homicides. And all these values are population based; per capita.

                          And to just reinforce the point, when the country is green on the gun map – where it’s difficult to get guns – you’re extremely likely to see red on the homicide map; one might say figuratively and literally. Fewer guns in Central and South America, Africa and Russia don’t translate into rainbows and unicorns, unfortunately.

                          It’s time to stop chanting and take an honest look at the facts. The unicorns might just be grazing in another field entirely.

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                            More ObamaCare Broken Promises

                            President Obama gave something of an apology in November for his promise that if you liked your health care plan or doctor, you could keep them, period. Turns out what he meant was that if he liked them, you could keep them. And he turned out to be very difficult to please.

                            But he’s not the only one who was going around making that promise. Here’s a link for the occasions where these Senators went and did likewise.

                            SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA)
                            SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-NC)
                            SEN. MARK BEGICH (D-AK)
                            SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO)
                            SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA)
                            SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA)
                            SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY)
                            SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL)
                            SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV)
                            SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT)

                            Baucus actually wrote most of the bill that eventually became ObamaCare, and was a major player in health care policy for decades before, so his transgression is especially grievous. They were fed a line, which a few of them at least should have known to be false, and parroted it to the people.

                            The American people were not promised a website; they were promised that they could keep their plan and doctor. Will these Democrats pay a price for this? Will saying something so transparently false hurt them at the ballot box? Do Democratic voters really want people who lie this brazenly, or are just tools for those that do, representing them? Will they vote them out? We’ll see, but hold not thy breath.

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                              Does Religion Cause the Most Wars?

                              Sam Harris, says in his book The End of Faith that faith and religion are “the most prolific source of violence in our history.” The three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history, begs to differ.

                              For those wars, the authors note the causes of each. Consider this; they categorize 123 as being religious in nature, which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, more than half of them, 66, were fought in the name of Islam. Take those out, and the percentage of non-Islamic religious wars is a mere 3.23%.

                              So the next time someone tries to use the Crusades as a way to paint religion as the primary source of all war, just ask them, “Is that the best you can do?” Takes quite a bit faith to believe that.

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