Consider This! Archives

What Works and What Doesn’t: Health Care

(This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!". You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

Liberal columnist Ezra Klein, writing in the Washington Post, June of 2009:

If you ordered America’s different health systems worst-functioning to best, it would look like this: individual insurance market, employer-based insurance market, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration.

Yeah, he really said that, and it was obviously untrue back then. But that didn’t stop his love of socialized medicine. Here he is again in 2011:

The thing about the Veteran’s Administration’s health-care system? It’s socialized. Not single payer. Not heavily centralized. Socialized. As in, it employs the doctors and nurses. Owns the hospitals. And though I think there’s some good reason to believe its spending growth is somewhat understated — it benefits heavily from medical trainees, for instance — accounting for that difference still means a remarkable recent performance.

He also called the VA system, “the program is one of the most remarkable success stories in American public policy.” Of course now everyone’s saying that the system has been awful for decades, so you can’t blame Obama for it. While that’s certainly true, you can blame liberal pundits who have been trying to suggest for years that the performance of the VA means that ObamaCare ought to work. It seems like they’ll say anything to get their policies enacted. Never mind reality.

And they’re making the same claim as a certain presidential candidate did 6 years or so ago. So in a sense, you can blame the President for foisting on us a system based on one that was, and is, a money pit and an abject failure, and which is utterly dishonest about those failures. They can, or should, be able to see what works and what doesn’t, but I guess Obama is going with the idea that this time, it’s gonna’ work.

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    What Works and What Doesn’t: Gun Control

    (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, “Consider This!”. You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

    For the month of May, 2013, the number of shooting victims in New York City went up 43% vs. May of last year. New mayor Bill deBlasio is proud of this. Well, OK, not the statistic per se, but of the fact that he’s made the New York police force reactive instead of proactive. Sure, 129 people were shot last month, but hey, at least gang-bangers are free from having to be stopped and frisked. I mean really, you have to have your priorities, people!

    OK, here’s the thing. If liberals like deBlasio think that guns are the problem, why are they against getting them off the street? I understand the personal liberty issues, and I think they are worth serious consideration, but was any judgment ever passed on them in this case? If not, the mayor is reaping what he’s sown. Well, actually the citizens of the Big Apple are the ones getting reaped.

    Look into those questions, but meanwhile, if you see what works and what doesn’t, and still ignore it, you might be a Democrat. And sure enough, that’s what he is.

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      (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, “Consider This!”. You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

      Sometimes people ask what the real difference is between the Republicans and Democrats, and sometimes, for certain issues, I’m inclined to agree; not much. However, when it comes to promoting economic growth, there’s certainly a trend that favors one over the other.

      It’s been said that the states are the laboratories of American democracy. Though more and more autonomy has been taken from them by the federal government, there is still enough that one can look across the country from sea to shining sea and see what works and what doesn’t. So what has the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis told us about the year 2013?

      Here were the top 10 states in GDP growth:

      • North Dakota — 9.7 percent
      • Wyoming — 7.6 percent
      • West Virginia — 5.1 percent
      • Oklahoma — 4.2 percent
      • Idaho — 4.1 percent
      • Colorado — 3.8 percent
      • Utah — 3.8 percent
      • Texas — 3.7 percent
      • South Dakota — 3.1 percent
      • Nebraska — 3.0 percent

      This was all while the nation’s GDP growth was just 1.8 percent. Tom Blumer writing at the NewsBusters website noted that only Colorado and West Virginia could be considered something other than deep-red states — and despite having several prominent Democrats in statewide and national office, they both arguably lean red.

      And let’s not forget, as I covered back in February, that Wisconsin, under Republican Governor Scott Walker, went from running a deficit to a $1 billion surplus by cutting taxes.

      In all of this, you’d think that someone would have predicted such an economic outcome from these policies. Oh wait, they did, and those people are called “conservatives”. So if you indeed see what works and what doesn’t, and still ignore it, you might be a Democrat.

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        The Real Issue With the VA

        (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!". You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

        Presidential candidate Barack Obama, back in 2007, gave a speech titled “A Sacred Trust”. It was a speech about the military; his plans for it, and for the veterans who came home from it. Here is one thing he said in it, “No veteran should have to fill out a 23-page claim to get care, or wait months – even years – to get an appointment at the VA.”

        How was he going to fulfill that goal? Here was his promise, “It’s time for comprehensive reform. When I am President, building a 21st century VA to serve our veterans will be an equal priority to building a 21st century military to fight our wars. My Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs will be just as important as my Secretary of Defense.” He followed that with specific changes he was going to make. But, whether he made those changes or not, whether or not vets are means-tested for care, whether or not VA budgets were passed on time every year, the result is still the same; long waits, and deaths due to them.

        Obama knew of the problems in the VA before he became President. At least 5 years ago, he was warned about the specific wait time issue. What has changed? Nothing. And now he claiming he was shocked to hear about it; not from his advisors, but from the media. Let’s not forget that he was shocked about the IRS targeting conservatives, up until the point where he claimed that there was “not a smidgen of corruption”. I guess his views on that “evolved”.

        There is another line from that speech that I think bears considering. His plans for the VA were a blueprint for something else. “The VA will also be at the cutting edge of my plan for universal health care, with better preventive care, more research and specialty treatment, and more Vet Centers, particularly in rural areas.” That’s right. ObamaCare was the next step, and what’s happening now with the VA is the future of what’s going to be happening with you. Centralized health care, or passing laws to create facilities and doctors out of thin air, doesn’t work.

        And honestly, this has been the issue for decades. It didn’t start when Obama was elected. Presidents from both parties have presided over this long-running debacle, some say as far back as the Kennedy administration, because the fundamental problems are always there. On MSNBC, one of their military analysts, Army Col. Jack Jacobs, spoke on The Reid Report about how Veterans Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki was a good guy and was doing a good job, but in the end, the VA’s system of health care itself cannot give us what we need from it, regardless of how much money you throw at it.

        Yeah, that really aired on MSNBC. But if the VA is the blueprint for ObamaCare, then the question is this: If we can’t take care of those we are the most indebted to, how is it going to work for all of us? Centralization like this – one of the pillars of the liberal view of government – is a failure. It has been shown not to work, specifically with regards to health care, and yet we just keep doing it bigger and costlier. Vets are dying in service to this social and political experiment. That’s certainly not the war they signed up for.

        And in the meantime, Army Private and convicted felon Bradley Manning has been on the fast-track to get his sex change. Got to have your priorities.

        The White House vowed to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by year’s end. That’s if they agree to leave. Comedian Argus Hamilton says, if given the choice between surviving Taliban attacks in the Afghan mountains and surviving VA care when they get home, they like their chances in the mountains.

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          The "Tolerance Police" Claim Their Next Victim

          I mentioned the case of Brendan Eich a little while ago. He’s the genius that basically invented JavaScript, which web programmers are very familiar with and have been using since 1995. He co-founded Mozilla, the company that produces, among other things, the Firefox web browser. He was going to be the company’s CEO recently, until someone noticed he gave $1,000 to the Proposition 8 effort in California to keep marriage to mean one-man-one-woman. He was run out of the company for what I called a Thought Crime. He was eminently qualified to be the CEO of the company, but because he had the politically incorrect idea that marriage should mean what it’s meant for millennia, he was pressured to resign. There were no allegations that he had ever treated someone badly because of their sexual orientation, but he had, according to some, the wrong idea about marriage, and therefore he was unfit to be CEO of the technology company he helped create.

          That’s what I want to stress here. In every other way, he was qualified for the job, but he had opinions that some disagreed with, and they created an atmosphere where Eich could not function in that job. That, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely what the word “intolerance” means. The irony is that those who created that atmosphere would very likely consider themselves the tolerant ones. The sad part is, they are unable to see intolerance in themselves because of the way they have redefined the word “intolerance” to mean “disagreeing with me”.

          That was exhibit A. Exhibit B showed up a couple weeks ago when twin brothers Jason and David Benham were green-lit to host a new show on Home and Garden TV – HGTV – about fixing up dilapidated houses for families in need. Who in the world could be against that?

          Well, in a radio interview, David Benham said this, and made some people mad.

          Read the rest of this entry

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            The (Cultural) Freedom of Speech

            (This is part of the script of the latest episode of my podcast, “Consider This!”)

            What is it that they say about conservatives? They’re haters, they’re whatever-phobes, they’re intolerant of people who are different than they are. Then what to make of this story.

            Over 5 years ago, some guy – we’ll call him Bubba – gave $1000 to a political cause. He gave his personal money, not on behalf of anyone else. A bit of free political speech in action.

            Fast forward to today, and Bubba was the target of a campaign to push him out of his job because someone found out about this contribution. Bubba gave in to the pressure, and resigned.

            If Bubba had given money to the Sierra Club to save the whales, or to Planned Parenthood to provide free abortions, and this had happened to him, the Left in this country would be outraged. But because Bubba, whose real name is Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla, gave to California’s Proposition 8, the effort to keep marriage between one man and one woman, the otherwise First-Amendment-loving Left are mum, as well as being the ones who did the pushing.

            I have said it a number of times before, and I need to say it again. The Progressive element in this country is all about Constitutional rights, right up to the point when those rights are used against their pet political causes. Then the hate, intolerance, and phobias that they accuse others of come quickly to the surface. A clearer case of projection – accusing others of what you yourself harbor – is not easily found.

            And consider this. At the time of his donation, Brendan felt the same way about the issue as President Obama, Vice President Biden, and, as it turned out, 60% of California voters. Five short years later, he’s being punished for it by the real Thought Police. There are no allegations that he mistreated, maligned, or otherwise caused harm to any homosexuals in his company. One’s views on this topic have no connection whatsoever with the business of Mozilla; most notably the Firefox web browser. This is completely, 100% a “thought crime”.

            It’s the progressive Left that likes to proclaim that it is more tolerant, that is more free-thinking, right up to the point where you disagree with them. Beyond that point, they want to dictate what you can and can’t think, culturally if not legally, and sometimes even legally; just ask Hobby Lobby, or proprietors that don’t wish to participate in same-sex weddings. No, you must toe the line of the tolerant, free-thinkers. Is anyone noticing the irony here, where “mutual respect” only works one way?

            “If you like your beliefs, you can keep your beliefs. To yourself. If you don’t, you can’t keep your job.”

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              What the Detroit Bankruptcy Has To Say To Us

              [This is the script from the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!"]

              Detroit, Michigan, formerly the auto-making capital of the US, if not the world, filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on July 18th, becoming the current capital of big cities going under in the US. What brought Detroit under water is not really debatable; declining income and spending beyond its means. What is being debated are the causes of the two.

              On the spending side, I think it’s no coincidence that the city has had essentially one party rule for the past 51 years. No surprise that the party in question is the Democratic Party. Detroit’s current budget deficit is believed to be more than $380 million, and its long-term debt could be as much as $20 billion. Rather than cutting spending, Detroit ignored the common sense lesson of living within your means, embrace the Paul Krugman idea that austerity kills, and died anyway, spending like there was no tomorrow. Well, there is a tomorrow, and it’s here.

              When tax and spend had to be curtailed, because of a shrinking tax base, then borrow and spend kicked in. I suppose someone like Krugman would say they didn’t borrow enough. When that wasn’t enough, President Obama said that Detroit wouldn’t go bankrupt on his watch, and he tossed boatloads of money at the union-controlled, Democrat-voting auto industry, and pronounced it, merely on the reasoning that he had written a check, that Detroit was coming back. Yeah, no so much.

              Now, even the Obama administration won’t touch them. They’ve stood up for their big spending principles, in DC and in Detroit, and reality has hit them upside the head with the mother of all clue-bats, as in “get a clue”. It doesn’t matter what your intentions are. Consistently spending more – far more – than you have will one day come home to roost. And everyone – both those from whom the money was taken, and to whom the money was given – will suffer. And it will affect the poor disproportionately because the rich have the means to escape.

              And they did escape, which brings us to the income side of the equation. The riots of 1967 chased citizens and businesses alike out of the city, which only accelerated and existing trend, such that in the past 60 years, it lost 60% of its residents. But the riots weren’t the only reason. With corruption, over-promising and the requisite overspending, those that could read the handwriting on the wall did what they had to do. If you can’t change the government, change your location, and they did.

              And if you’re inclined to lay the blame at the feet of greedy corporations that outsource jobs, Walter Russell Mead has some information that tends to suggest a group as, or more, culpable. The city’s $11 billion in unsecured debt includes $6 billion in health and other retirement benefits and $3 billion in retiree pensions for its 20,000 city pensioners. That’s “billion”, with a “B”. But now, these folks, whose union representatives negotiated this package, and now very likely going to get less than 10 percent of that. Like I said, everyone gets hurt, ultimately, with these kinds of policies. Those who got their benefits and hit the road are not unlike the folks who start a pyramid scheme. They cash in early and often, while those who get in later either get very little return, or lose out. The pyramid in Detroit has played itself out.

              Walter Russell Mead, again, has a relevant warning for those in other cities who still think such policies are a good idea, because of their good intentions.

              Progressive politicians, wonks, and activists can only blame big corporations and other liberal bogeymen for so long. The truth is that corrupt machine politics in a one-party system devoted to the blue social model wrecked an entire city and thousands of lives beyond repair. The sooner blues come to terms with this reality, the greater chance other cities will have of avoiding Detroit’s fate.

              I would add that the sooner DC comes to terms with this, the better, for the same reason. And, working our way back in the political process, the sooner the voters of this nation come to terms with this, the better off we will all be. It may not sound, to the untrained ear, to be very caring, or fair, or socially just. But Detroit has a 47% illiteracy rate. 60% of its children are living in poverty. Its crime rate is 5 times the national average. The murder rate is 11 times higher than New York City. Is it caring, or fair, or socially just, to pursue policies that led to that?

              If you continue to vote for those policies, then what visited Detroit will be visiting you soon enough. It may already be in the process of happening. Detroit just got there first. Who’s next?

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                Tea Party "Terrorists"

                [This is part of the script from the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!"]

                A Rasmussen poll release on June 27th found that 26% of Obama voters think Tea Partiers are a bigger terror threat than radical Muslims. Fred Thompson asked in a tweet, “So… how many people were killed by exploding Constitutions?”

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                  Attorney Generals Are Not Judges

                  [This is part of the script from the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!"]

                  The Supreme Court said that the people of California have no standing to defend a constitutional amendment that they passed if the state won’t defend it. It’s now open season on laws that state administrations don’t like. Exhibit A.

                  Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane announced Thursday afternoon she will not defend the state in a federal lawsuit filed this week challenging the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, calling the prohibition “wholly unconstitutional.”

                  Who promoted her to judge? Whether or not it’s unconstitutional is not her call to make. The Attorney General represents the state and defends its laws; all of the state and all of its laws.

                  If a state Attorney General refuses to defend those laws, that’s an abdication of his or her primary responsibility; their oath of office. AGs do not (or at least should not) have this prerogative. Otherwise you’ll have one set of laws when one administration is in power, and another set for another administration.

                  The Supreme Court said that they’re leaving it up to the states to decide what marriage is. But are we leaving it up to the state governments or to the state’s people?

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                    Marriage "Equality"

                    Episode 36 of my podcast, "Consider This!", came out this morning. Here’s the (slightly edited) script for one of the segments regarding the call for "marriage equality".


                    When the Supreme Court took up two cases regarding same-sex marriage recently, Facebook lit up with red equal signs of people proclaiming their support for what they call “marriage equality”. And that’s how I’ve heard the debate framed by supporters for years, as an issue of equality. One group gets to do something that another group doesn’t. Where’s the sense of fairness, of everyone being equal under the law?

                    Well, to understand the underlying problem here, let’s take two other areas where one could demand equality. Let’s look at voting and driving. Are you for voting equality and driving equality? Should some voting or driving laws be different for different people, or not even available at all to some?

                    Let’s take a group of people I’ll call blind people. Now, should they have both voting and driving equality? I’m going to hazard a guess that you said yes to voting but no to driving. I don’t need to be a mind-reader to get that one right. But, but, equality! What about equality? Shouldn’t we really be taking to the streets and demanding the Supreme Court rule on driving equality for the blind?

                    No, of course we shouldn’t. But why equality for one thing and not another? Steven Smith, a Professor of Law at the University of San Diego, wrote an article using this example of why we treat the two situations differently.

                    That is because an ability to see is not a relevant qualification for voting, but it is a relevant qualification for driving. We know this, though, not by applying the idea of “equality,” but rather by thinking about the nature of voting and of driving. Probably there is no disagreement about these particular conclusions. But if you did happen to encounter a good-faith disagreement, you would not be saying anything helpful if you thumped the table and declared that “blind people should be treated equally.” You would only be begging the question.

                    You can’t drive if you’re blind, or under a certain age, or haven’t taken a driving test. Heck, you can’t vote if you’re a felon, or under a certain age, or mentally incompetent. So even with voting, there are inequalities. And therefore, just demanding marriage equality, without considering the nature of marriage, is useless.

                    And so what, then, is that nature of marriage? That’s the next logical question, and something I will be taking up in a subsequent episode. Until then, I have another link in the show notes to a rather lengthy paper by the Heritage Foundation on what marriage is, why it matters, and the consequences of redefining it. I’ll be pulling points from it for when I tackle this subject later on. You may want to take a look at it and perhaps write or call with your thoughts to be included in the episode.

                    But this foundation of the issue of equality needs to be laid first. Suffice to say, for now, that just spouting “Equality” with your fashionable, red equal sign doesn’t really mean much. It’s not an argument. It’s not a reason. It’s just a slogan.


                    If you want to let me know what you think, call 267-CALL-CT-0 (267-225-5280) for the feedback line, or e-mail considerthis@ctpodcasting.com.

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                      The "Consider This!" Podcast, Episode 28

                      Maybe this is why I’ve not been blogging much. Well, it’s certainly a contributing factor.

                      The latest episode covers the fight of North Carolina pro-choicers against a license plate that advocates a choice, and a rundown of how well the Washington, DC gun ban reduced homicides (hint: it didn’t).

                      Click here for the show notes, links to articles mentioned, and ways to get your voice heard on the podcast. You can also listen to the show right on the page, or subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher or the Blubrry network.

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                        Back with more topics than I’ve ever squeezed into 10 minutes or less, “Consider This!” is back with a new episode.

                        A friend of mine posted a graphic of Sen. Bernie Sanders with a  quote from him extolling the results of Social Security, with the tag, “Social Security has done exactly what it was designed to do.” Well sure, in the short term, big government social programs always look good. Think of how Social Security looked in the first 5 or 10 years. People who had paid little or nothing into it got monthly checks from the government. Wonderful.

                        John Hawkins at the blog Right Wing News polled conservative bloggers on who the GOP should choose at their 2016 nominee. The short answer? Marco Rubio was the clear winner. He was followed by Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Paul Ryan. The two who topped the list of those they least wanted to see on the ticket were Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Then John asked, want to see something scary?

                        The government recently modified its determination of which states have the worst poverty rates. The new measure incorporates a controversial calculation of relative equality that demotes states that have wide gaps between wealthy people and people with less than one-third of state residents’ average income. This income gap is something that liberals have spoken out against, and believe they have an answer to. But with this new measure included, it’s interesting to see what state dropped to the rock bottom of the survey; California.

                        A government report released Monday warned that a sudden increase in taxes would result in lower consumer spending next year, and some analysts wondered if the concerns about what could happen might crimp spending throughout the rest of the holiday season. Um, yeah. The Obama administration is just now figuring out what conservatives have been saying, well, pretty much for a generation. In other news, the sky is indeed blue, and math still works.

                        Click here for show notes, feedback options, ways to subscribe to the podcast, or just listen to it on the web page itself.

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                          "Consider This!", Episode 10 Milestone

                          A couple months ago I started a new project; a political and cultural opinion podcast where I say what I’m going to say in 10 minutes or less. It doesn’t require as much a time commitment from you to listen in, and I want to hear back and make it more of a conversation than a monologue.

                          Today I hit a milestone; the 10th episode. There’s something of a psychological part of this as well. Folks who keep track of such things say that if you get (on average) past episode 7, that seems to be a tipping point. Podcasts that get past that generally continue on. So here I am at 10, and hopefully we’ll just roll along, with your input.

                          My topics are usually varied, but this episode focuses on the Paul Ryan VP pick. Let me know what you think of that choice by either commenting on the show notes, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. You can even use that tried and true method; E-mail.

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                            10 Years of Blogging, Now What?

                            Indeed, I’ve been blogging for a decade. Couldn’t believe it when I went to find out how long for this post. It’s been fun and interesting, though, even if most of my readers have been either friends or the occasional visitor whom Google sent my way.

                            But there’s something else I’ve dipped my toe into a couple of times; podcasting. Audio programs that you can either subscribe to (usually with iTunes, but there are others programs for that) or just listen to them on their web page. In both cases, I didn’t have to deal with all the elements of the entire process (web site, getting the proper subscription feeds set up, writing and producing the show, etc.), I was just responsible for some portions and someone else dealt with the other details.

                            But since the end of Shire Network News, I’ve really wanted to get back into it. So I’ve made the plunge and started this new experiment.

                            Setting it up has taken some time, which is why I haven’t been posting much to the blog in the past couple of weeks, but I don’t intend to give that up. In fact, reading current events and coming up with blog posts has been the main source of material, such that I have 3 episodes written, and one that is now available.

                            In iTunes. I’m actually listed in iTunes. How cool is that?

                            And so begins “Consider This!”, a political and cultural opinion podcast that I want to be more of a dialog than just a monologue. Click here to go to the website for the show, where you can play the episodes right on the web page, or subscribe to it via iTunes or your “podcatcher” of choice. You can also contact me in a number of ways; comments on a particular episode, e-mail, and Twitter. I’ve set this up so that this show could be one of a number of different shows in the “Consider This! Podcasting” network, but for now, it’s just the one.

                            Let’s see what happens.

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