No One Wants to Pay for the Free Stuff

Hide Our Heads

Apparently, we can’t handle the truth…

What to take from this Reason article wherein we find that millenials are deeply cynical about government, believe it to be bloated and inefficient, and would like to see it spend less money while at the same time wanting access to free health care and a guaranteed “living wage?” Probably nothing earth-shatteringly huge, except that as long as someone else is footing the bill, we all want all of the “free” services that we can get.

“Would you like a Ferrari?”

“Yes.”

“Would you like a Ferrari even if it means that you’ll have to pay for it, heavily, for the rest of your life.”

“Well, when you ask that way…”

But when you’re convinced that someone else always owes more taxes (a misguided sense of “fairness”), then there is always someone else to pick up the tab. The conversation about green energy is similar.

“Would you like all energy to be generated through clean, renewable sources?”

“Yes.”

“Would you like all energy to be generated through clean, renewable sources even if it doubles your current energy bill?”

“Well, when you ask it that way…”

Of course, this ignores all sorts of subsidies and market-distorting realities that mean few of us know the actual cost of most of the staples in our lives (farm subsidies, energy subsidies, unequal tax and regulatory burdens on a variety of industries…) so what we actually pay for our energy, food, medical care, and Ferraris is anything but transparent. While transparency would be nice, what we have is such distortion that our supposedly free market is more like a pool where some bits are a tad murky and others are utterly opaque.

But here’s the thing: when it comes to politics, we usually stop at that first question and answer set. We rarely step back to truly understand the cost of our legislation and our expectations. Why would we imagine folks would make rational choices when they aren’t actually given enough information (or that information is so obscured as to be indecipherable) to choose rationally?

More Obamacare Fun

Firstly, our friend, Steve Green, is pointing out some of what I was mentioning below and then goes a few thoughts deeper on the subject in The Week the Wheels Came Off Obamacare.

The pols and pundits can argue and fingerpoint until they’re blue in the — finger? — but Obamacare’s numbers paint a bleak picture of broken promises and outright lies. After a full month, nearly 40,000 people have successfully signed up for health insurance at HealthCare.gov, out of an administration goal of over seven million by the end of March. At that rate, the administration will have met its goal sometime in the autumn — of 2028.

Mind you, the goal of Obamacare was to provide coverage for some 47,000,000 uninsured Americans. So take those 15 years and multiply them by about seven. You’re gonna need a bigger calculator.

Ignored in those dreary statistics is the fact that people are being dumped out of their current coverage and onto the nonfunctional exchanges faster than the exchanges can handle them. An estimated 1,500,000 have lost their coverage, up against those newly insured 40,000. The best guess is that seven or eight million more face the same fate.

And that’s just the first few paragraphs.

This little article dives into the numbers in Kentucky– and it’s dismal.

These notes serve to reinforce my belief that when the numbers start turning positive, the “newly covered” are going to be nothing of the sort. Folks stripped of coverage by government mandate will be the first, largest influx of Obamacare enrollees.

More Healthcare Thoughts

Firstly, from one of our longtime blogging friends, Trench Reynolds, here is a link to his entire healthcare category. His thoughts largely meet my own, but he has a more professional view of the subject.

Secondly, a blog post from Roger Fraley, a friend here in Colorado who we don’t get to see nearly as often as we’d like.

More thoughts later.

Predicting the Lie of Obamacare Succes

Sometime, when the “glitches” with the Affordable Care Act websites are fixed and the system is chugging along dysfunctionally, someone is going to start sharing the number of folks who have signed up for “cheap, affordable” healthcare. Those numbers will tell us that thousands upon thousands of people are signing up and we will be lead to believe that those people were the kinds of folks who used to be shut out of the system because they couldn’t afford care or because they had pre-existing conditions. There will be some truth to those assertions.

And there will be a huge lie, too.

See, with literally hundreds of thousands of people losing their insurance coverage because of the ACA, a huge number of the first wave of folks signing up will very likely be those who had, until recently, been covered. That is, they had already been in the system, they had already had coverage, and they had already entered into a voluntary contractual relationship with insurance companies, paid their money, and had their needs met. Perversely, that voluntary relationship was destroyed by the ACA, which then compels an involuntary relationship with another insurance company. Even better, with the new rules, some of those folks will likely be getting government subsidies on their insurance costs.

Read this from a Kaiser Health News story:

Health plans are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who buy their own coverage, frustrating some consumers who want to keep what they have and forcing others to buy more costly policies.

The main reason insurers offer is that the policies fall short of what the Affordable Care Act requires starting Jan. 1. Most are ending policies sold after the law passed in March 2010.  At least a few are cancelling plans sold to people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Now, let’s say it again: the government will be paying people to break their voluntary contractual relationships in order to compel them into doing what they were already doing.  And those folks will then be held up as examples of how well the system is working. And we will be told that this is more efficient and effective.

Read the original.

View from the Tar Pits

Velociman’s view from the tar pits is five minutes of reading extremely well-spent.

There is a strange poetry to his words.

Calexico. With a side of Kenny Loggins.

I would have imagined that Calexico would have done better with “I’m Alright” (the theme to Caddyshack) but this cover of Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” has proven me wrong. Loads of fun.

Royal Z Club Pink Nibbles

Royal Z Club Pink Nibbles

Royal Z Club Pink Nibbles

According to my wife, this one has a little tiny bite to it, which is where I found the name for this drink. Of course, it’s entirely possible that someone else has made a similar drink and that it has another name– I did a cursory search, found nothing, and ran with the ball.

Chalk the little nibbles up to the generous dose of ginger flavor and the spicy bitters. More importantly, though, it’s a sweet, cool breeze on a hot summer day.

Ingredients:

1 oz of Domaine De Canton
1/3 oz of Ciroc Vodka
2/3 oz of Seven Tiki Spiced Rum
Tspn of Grenadine Syrup
Tspn of Fee Brothers West Indies Falernum
5 drops of Angostura Bitters
2-1/2 – 3 oz of grapefruit juice

Pour all the ingredients into a shaker, fill the shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a large martini glass. Garnish with whatever citrus fruits you happen to have around the house. If you find it too sweet, dial back the falernum and grenadine to taste.

Note: don’t settle for Rose’s Grenadine. It adds sweetness without adding flavor– either buy a good grenadine syrup (like Monin or Sonoma, for example) or make your own from one of the recipes easily available online that has both the flavor and the color to finish off your drink properly.

I have a feeling that this one might serve as the basis for a few variations. It’s easy to make and tasty with enough alcohol to be effective.

So, What You’re Telling Me…

…is that our “not quite good enough job growth” has  been downgraded to “nowhere near replacement level job growth.”

Well. That sucks.

Between December of 2012 and February of 2013, 699,000 jobs were created; for an average of 233,000. Between March and May of 2013, however, the economy created only 466,000 jobs; for an average of 155,000 jobs.

Read the original.

Economic Drift

There was no good to be found in today’s job report. It was a blunt reminder that our nation is continuing to drift through an economy unmoored by continued uncertainty and growing unemployment. The ragged appearance of a drop in unemployment is, of course, a lie; while the economy added some 88,000 jobs, the loss of nearly half a million workers who simply abandoned the idea of finding work.

They gave up hope.

In March, 496,000 people took themselves out of the labor force altogether, meaning they stopped searching for work.

When unemployed people quit looking for jobs it can lower the jobless rate. But for all the wrong reasons. Hiring was weak in March. The 88,000 jobs employers added aren’t even enough to keep up with population growth.

So that March drop in the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent likely has more to do with frustrated job seekers giving up than employers buying into the economic recovery.

It is important to note that this is not new. This is not something that simply happened this month or something as a reaction to recent political events: no, this is the continuation of the bleeding. The job participation rate (which you can also see at the linked article) has been falling with regularity for the last decade and most precipitously over the last five years or so.

No, our problems are deeper than any recent political failures and our current leadership has show precisely no capability of conceiving of a plan to solve those problems.

Read the original.

Death Takes a Great Critic

The test of the greatness of a critic is in two things: firstly, do you feel as if you understand the art better for their insight, and, second, have they explained their love or hate of the thing in such a way that you have a good idea whether you’ll enjoy it. Roger Ebert wasn’t a critic that I always agreed with (his review of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang managed to point out all the bits that I loved about the movie while explaining how those things left him cold) but who gave me a greater understanding of the movies and of the artistry of the medium.

His political and social offerings weren’t particularly welcome from my corner, but I always believed that he had a right to voice those opinions and use his podium how he saw fit. He carved out his own space in every medium that he chose from television and newspapers to books and social media; most admirably, he did it honestly, bluntly, and on his own terms.

He critical eye will be missed.

Read the obituary.