January 6, 2010

ObamaCare Will Redistribute Wealth — and Health

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:03 pm

Joe Klein at Time has a not-fine whine.

He starts out pretty well:

In the snarkier precincts of the left-wing blogosphere, mainstream journalists like me are often called villagers. The reference, so far as I can tell, has to do with isolation: we live in this little village on the Potomac — actually, I don’t, but no matter — constantly intermingling over hors d’oeuvres, deciding who is “serious” (a term of derision in the blogosphere) and who is not, regurgitating spin spoon-fed by our sources or conjuring a witless conventional wisdom that has nothing to do with reality as it is lived outside the village. There is, of course, some truth to this. Washington is insular; certain local shamans are celebrated beyond all logic; some of my columnar colleagues have lost touch with everything beyond their armchairs and egos.
But there is a great irony here: villagery is a trope more applicable to those making the accusation than to those being snarked upon. The left-wing blogosphere, at its worst, is a claustrophobic hamlet of the well educated, less interested in meaningful debate than the “village” it mocks.

True that, and add the sensible conservative blogosphere to that when they occasionally tire of what Klein complains of — and they may have degrees indicating that they’re “educated,” but given the quality of their output, describing the quality of the education that gave rise to it in favorable terms is highly dubious.

But then Klein goes on to brag about something that no Democrat politician will ever have the courage to admit:

Ultimately, it (ObamaCare) means an annual income redistribution of $200 billion to help the working poor pay for insurance, which is why Republicans oppose the bill.

While it’s nice to see the admission that it’s about income redistribution, it isn’t even near the top of the list  of reasons why Republicans, independents, libertarians, and a lot of open-eyed Democrats oppose the bill. Three of the biggest reasons are:

Lucid Links (010610, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 10:18 am

Zero Hedge wonders if the government is fudging the unemployment numbers.

Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by “fudge.” I don’t think any definitions have changed, and I doubt that there’s any data manipulation going on at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But …. for this to happen, a lot of people collecting unemployment would need to tell BLS that they not only aren’t working, but that they have dropped out of the workforce. The 376,000 increase in “marginally attached” workers doesn’t solve ZH’s puzzling question, which is why it seems that 30% or so more people are collecting unemployment benefits than you would expect from BLS’s unemployment stats.

Why would this be the case? Perhaps (emphasis perhaps) there are a lot of people who retired for Social Security benefit collection purposes who are also collecting extended unemployment benefits. It looks like you can do that without a reduction or “offset” against Social Security benefits in 46 states. It also looks like doing so wouldn’t cause the earnings penalty to kick in if unemployment benefits collected would exceed the Social Security earnings penalty thresholds, because these benefits aren’t income from work.

I’m not totally there with a conclusion, and there are probably a lot of personal considerations in the mix, but I think a pretty good case can be made that a lot of those who are doing this are double-dipping the social welfare system, which in the big picture is supposed to be a safety net, not an ongoing lifestyle enabler. This may be the largest element of the discrepancy ZH has exposed.

So how much of the money involved in the seemingly endless extensions of unemployment benefits is going to people who are also collecting (in these cases, usually tax-free) Social Security benefits?

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To the previous item, add the possibility that a lot of people collecting Social Security disability payments might also be collecting extended unemployment benefits. Disability apps are also way up, and I would think that despite a clogged system, the number of those collecting disability benefits is also way up.

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Speaking of unemployment, here is how ADP’s Employment report came in just now:

Nonfarm private employment decreased 84,000 from November to December 2009 on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the ADP National Employment Report®. The estimated change of employment from October to November was revised by 24,000, from a decline of 169,000 to a decline of 145,000.

The decline in December was the smallest since March of 2008. Employment losses are now rapidly diminishing and, if recent trends continue, private employment will begin rising within the next few months.

This would be good. As the Kudlow excerpt at my first Lucid Link item yesterday showed, the fact that it may finally be happening has nothing to do with any Obama administration initiatives. It should have and would have happened much sooner if tax cuts instead of bogus stimulus had been the remedy chosen.

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Awwww, poor babies — The National Republican Congressional Committee isn’t flush with cash. I wonder why?

Here’s a suggestion for those who really want to make a difference: Don’t give NRCC or any similar national or statewide GOP organization a dime. Instead, contribute directly to candidates whose sensible conservatism you are sure of, and to Tea Party and think tank PACs that will force candidates to say where they stand on key issues before dispensing campaign cash.

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A repeat BlogNetNews performance — with repeat gratitude to those thanked a week ago.

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Did you know that high school science labs are “white”? Neither did I, but Berkeley (CA) High School has figured that out, and wants “to eliminate before- and after-school science labs.”

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Great point by Ron Hart at the Panama City News Herald:

After recovering from the last downturn in our economy (under the peanut version of Obama — Jimmy Carter), Southwest Airlines, FedEx, Microsoft, Apple, Genentech, Charles Schwab, Oracle and Home Depot were founded by optimistic entrepreneurs. They made billions for themselves, made millionaires out of more than 100,000 workers, employed millions of people and paid billions of dollars in taxes. I do not see that happening now with Obama’s policies.

Not to the same extent. Even setting aside the uncertainty overhang that began with the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy a year and a half ago, there’s Sarbanes Oxley, which works to make selling out to an existing bigger company a better alternative than going public. And even if companies do go public, they’re less likely to do so in the US than they were before SOX came along.

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Columbus, Ohio passed a 25% income tax increase last year, increasing the rate from 2.0% to 2.5% (using the proper language of taxation, the new rate is 25% higher than the old one). In doing so, they’re extracting even more money from voteless suburbanites who work in the city and happen to number 50% of those who pay the tax.

But the city still won’t spend money on the basics:

Residential streets to miss out
City has enough money to repave only some of main, heavily used roads; neighborhoods unhappy

But Mayor Coleman can’t wait to spend money to fund art in public buildings. That may be an idea worthy of debate, Mayor, but only when you know the road situation is under control, which it obviously isn’t.

John Gray, in a letter to the Cbus Dispatch, has a wry suggestion in his title: “Maybe city can pave roads with canvas.” From his text: “We should start with Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s office and decorate his chair by putting a new mayor in it.”

Boring Site Maintenance News

Filed under: General — Tom @ 8:52 am

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve done a long overdue site spruce-up.

There’s a new link to my Twitter account, which at the moment merely relays new blog posts (that might change), and another new link to my Pajamas archive.

I went through the blogrolls completely (ugh), purging a bunch of dead links and adding a few new ones (additional suggestions welcome).

I also updated the testimonial quotes, the greatest hits drop-down (now a Top 50), and the “Highlights, History, Purpose” post (formerly the BizzyBlog Manifesto).

The front-page pics are now mostly at Photobucket, which should improve site loading and cut down on bandwidth burned.

Onward and upward.

Positivity: Couple celebrates ‘miracle baby’

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Cincinnati:

Last Updated: 8:45 pm | Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When Alisha Loudon learned she was pregnant in November 2008, doctors warned her she had a 50 percent chance of surviving the pregnancy.

Now her doctor says she should have bought lottery tickets: The Cherry Grove woman and her daughter, Addison Paige, are both doing just fine nearly six months after delivery.

Loudon, now 30, had already survived one potentially deadly bout with blood clots, and doctors warned her against pregnancy, worried she might not survive a second round.

Her pregnancy was a surprise. But Loudon credits a combination of determination, medicine and prayer for her survival – and her daughter’s healthy birth.

“It was very, very scary,” she said. “You have all these doctors sitting there, and they never once said, ‘It’s going to be OK.’”

To think, it all started with a back ache.
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