A Change Would Do Us Good

 

America’s two-party political system worked remarkably well until recently.  Unlike most nations who have gone through all manner of revolutions, rule by despots, booms and busts, the USA has been (save for the Civil War) stable and improving since it was founded.

But something feels different now, not only culturally, but also politically.  50 years ago the Democrat and Republican parties were both made up of conservatives, moderates and liberals.  Cross-party coalitions were not only possible, they were routine.  Policy moved forward, generally in the best interests of the majority of citizens.

Think back – president John Kennedy was a conservative Democrat who believed in free markets, small government, exploiting natural resources, and peace through a strong military.  Nelson Rockefeller was a liberal Republican who served as Gerald Ford’s vice-president.  When America elected a president, all of our citizens coalesced behind him, regardless of party, presenting a united front to the world and joining forces to advance the well-being of all.

Those days are gone.  Today’s Republican party is still made up of a few liberals, a few conservatives, and the rest moderates.  Because of these ideological differences, and the fact that Republicans are a more independent lot, they will never vote as a bloc.  But the Democrats have adopted a tactic that requires monolithic devotion to their hard-left leadership.  They must bloc vote against anything proposed by Republicans.  Last week’s votes on the future of health care are proof.  Until the Republicans can muster a core group that outnumbers the bloc-voting Democrats, there is no chance of meaningful policy change.  And that won’t happen any time soon.

This state of affairs was inevitable as money became a greater influence over congress than the will of constituents.  As voters became less engaged and knowledgeable about government, party bosses learned that political offices can be bought, through slick and often dishonest campaign advertising, and also through policy that patronizes voters who don’t pay taxes with largess from those who do.

Money now rules politics, and the party bosses control the money.  A house campaign costs a minimum of $1 million these days, and candidates for senate offices will spend $5 million and up.  And these numbers ratchet up exponentially with every election.  Spending more than the competition does not guarantee a win (Hillary Clinton reportedly spent $1.2 billion on her losing campaign), but failure to raise a war chest usually promises defeat.

The few voters who are engaged can’t contribute this kind of money, and the low-cost old-school practice of door-to-door campaigning just doesn’t work like it once did.  The Democrats find themselves having to pay for “protestors” to advance their messaging.

With few exceptions, anyone who wants to become a congressman or senator (and stay there), must have the money that only K Street, deep pocket donors, and the party leaders can provide.  As a result, true representative government is totally dead in the Democrat party, and barely breathing in the GOP, thanks only to the life support system known as the House Freedom Caucus.

The situation has the Capitol, the press, and a good portion of the general public totally disoriented.  On top of that, our executive branch, elected on good intentions, can’t seem to stay on task.  Meanwhile, our treasured public institutions – schools, churches, military, media – flounder around in a fog.

We know from history that when there is disorientation and discomfort with the status quo it can’t and won’t continue.  Change is inevitable.  Something is going to happen, probably something nobody has anticipated.

It might be a direct change forced upon our system of government.  More likely it will be an unanticipated outside event – a war, a new technology, a financial disaster, an epidemic.  Who knows?  Maybe a space ship full of little green men will land in front of the Capitol.

My life experience has shown me that there’s no point getting too upset about the way things are, because things will change.

And right now, a change would do us good.  As long as it’s not the change that happened to Russia, China and all the other socialist failures.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

I’ve been thinking ’bout catching a train,
Leave my phone machine by the radar range,
“Hello it’s me, I’m not at home,
If you’d like to reach me, leave me alone.”
A change (a change) will do you good!

Sheryl Crow – A Change Will Do You Good

Interesting – watch this great amateur video of Sheryl live from the front row.  The instruments and vocals are picked up from amps and stage monitors, not the big main cabinets the rest of the audience hears.  This is what it sounds like to the performers on stage.

 

Let the Miracle of the Free Market Work For Health Care

We have two problems with our health care delivery system:  access and cost.  In 2010, ObamaCare was passed to address both problems.  Predictably, it failed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made voting for ObamaCare very simple,   instructing her fellow Democrats to “pass the bill so that you can see what’s in it.”  All but 34 of them did.  Not one Republican voted for ObamaCare.

The American people never did like the Affordable Care Act, especially after the President’s fake-out that we could keep our doctors and insurance plans. Costs have increased even more rapidly, and access to plans and care has become even ‘iffy-er’ as more insurers jump ship every day.

Throughout Obama’s term outnumbered Republican legislators set up “show votes” to signal their desire to repeal ObamaCare.  But that talk was cheap when they knew the bills had no chance of getting past Obama’s veto.  “There’s nothing we can do about it,” they whimpered, even though they had complete control of the nation’s purse-strings and could have cut off the funding.

So the people did the only thing they could do to get rid of this economy-crushing, freedom-sucking, unsustainable mother-of-all-government-programs.  They elected majorities in both houses of Congress and a Republican president who promised to do away with ObamaCare, once and for all.   “NO MORE EXCUSES”, they told Congress.

But it seems voting this hot mess out is not nearly as simple as voting it in.  Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is trying to ram his “ObamaCare Light” plan through Congress.  But unlike Pelosi’s sheep, conservative legislators in the Freedom Caucus and Republican Study Group and a few brave senators want to see what’s in it and make it right before they pass the bill.

Ryan’s AHCA plan disguises and leaves in place many of the worst provisions of the ACA.  There are so many details that I won’t even try to elaborate here.  But I have one overriding concern about Ryan’s plan.  It does nothing to reduce the cost of health care, and may have the opposite effect.

Only one thing lowers the cost of any product, and that’s competition.  Until consumers make their own health care buying decisions in a competitive free market with transparent pricing, costs will never be reduced.

The GOP plan doubles down on the Medicaid expansion of ObamaCare, continues government subsidies in the form of refundable tax credits (some citizens will get cash back from the government because they pay little or no federal tax), and retains mandates that force individual and employer participation.  This distorts the market and makes health care just one more entitlement, edging us ever closer to a single-payer national plan.  And it further isolates the end consumer from health care purchasing decisions.

The first step must be the complete repeal of ObamaCare.  In 2015 both houses of Congress passed a bill under reconciliation that would fully repeal ObamaCare at a future date.  It was, of course, vetoed by President Obama.  Why not present the same bill to President Trump?  Then let the “invisible hand” of the free market find the appropriate price levels for health care instead of over-prescribing and over-pricing everything by running it through the same big-government machine that pays $700 for a toilet seat.  With all the complexity and control of ObamaCare completely out of the picture, Democrats and Republicans would be forced to start fresh with new legislation to protect consumers and provide a humane, and hopefully more efficient, safety net.

Even before ObamaCare the federal government was the biggest purchaser of health care.  The worst thing our legislators could do right now is pass a watered-down bill that leaves too much of the nasty old fat in the sausage, hoping to squeeze it out later.

Most of us can take care of ourselves and our families if the government will just get out of the way and let the miracle of the free market work.  That would be a big step toward making American great again.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

All I need is a miracle, all I need is you
All I need is a miracle, all I need is you
All I need is a miracle, all I need is you

Mike and the Mechanics – All I Need Is A Miracle

 

 

The ObamaCare Zone

obamacare-zoneWhat made the United States an economic powerhouse with the highest standard of living in the world?  Without a doubt, it is our belief in free market economics.  Why then would we even consider nationalizing one of the largest segments of our economy?  After six years of ObamaCare we have been to the edge of the abyss, looked in, and recoiled at what we saw.  Government takeover of private industries is always a disaster.

We are at a watershed moment in history, with an opportunity to hit the reset button and get it right.  It’s time to set aside the political posturing and get to work on repairing our health care financial system – not as an entitlement, but as a BUSINESS.  Because that’s what it is.

Problem:  When an industry like health care is removed from the free market and taken over by the government (nationalized), it always results in higher costs, reduced access and choices, and poorer products (outcomes).

Solution:  Repeal ObamaCare immediately, remove as much government interference as possible and restore free market for health care and insurance.  Implement reasonable regulations to protect consumers and maintain fair competition.

Problem: Health care costs and health insurance premiums continue to increase much faster than normal inflation.

Solution:  Require consumers to have “skin in the game” by paying directly for minor medical care – health insurance should be geared toward major medical coverage. Make medical expenses and premiums tax deductible for individuals, just like they are for corporations.  Require all medical providers to show costs to consumer before treatment.  Require insurers to offer large pool pricing and ERISA protection for individual plans at rates comparable to corporate group plans.  Establish reasonable restrictions on malpractice payouts.  These reforms will put purchase decisions in the hands of consumers where normal free market forces will result in price competition and improved product.

Problem:  Even though health care is not an entitlement, most Americans want to help fellow citizens who are legitimately unable to purchase their own care and/or insurance.

Solution: There are many ways to provide a safety net for the truly needy, such as subsidies and/or tax relief for private health insurance, taxpayer funded or subsidized health clinics, etc.  Regulations should prevent health insurance companies from cancelling coverage due to claims experience.  On the other hand, insurance companies can not be expected to cover consumers with pre-existing conditions, so state assigned-risk pools are necessary.  In all cases rigid vetting is absolutely necessary.  Our system can not support unlimited care for non-citizens and false claims of disability and indigence.

Problem: Many Americans fear that if the government is not between them and their health care, and they are left to their own devices to purchase health care, the powerful health care industry will abuse them for profit.

Solution:  The strongest motive to provide a good product is profit.  Consumers make good purchasing decisions every day.  The cost of products goes down as the quality improves, because consumers will always, always, ALWAYS select the best value when they are spending their own money.

Repeal ObamaCare now.  Release the health care and insurance industry to seek honest profits in the free market by competing for customers.  Implement common sense regulations that are fair for providers and consumers alike.  Stop pretending that health care is free and everybody is entitled to it.  Let the magic of the American free market work again.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

 The Twilight Zone – the Ventures

 

 

 

 

No More “Fake News” – Repeal ObamaCare Now!

coverbatboyThis just in: the mainstream news industry has confirmed the existence of “fake news”.

It’s not yet clear exactly what qualifies as “fake news”.  Some online political trouble-makers have learned that there is nothing to prevent them from writing stories that are flat-out untrue.  Worse, they have learned that lazy mainstream journalists and pundits will often repeat their fabrications without an ounce of verification.

The label “fake news” can apparently be used by a reporter to discount any news that doesn’t support his ideology.  It is also acceptable for one to use fake news to plant his own ideology in the minds of the low-information masses.

And there has been, especially in the recent election silly season, a serious epidemic of Facebook and Twitter users (of all political persuasions) sharing and re-posting titillating but bogus information without testing its veracity – or even reading anything more than the title.

Now, I can cut Average Joe and Jane some slack for not knowing journalistic “best practices”.  But it’s pretty hard to excuse paid media professionals who engage in fake news.  Facebook and Google claim they are going to crack down on fake news.  Who can take them seriously after they were caught manipulating search results and “trending” lists to drive viewers toward their left-wing point-of-view?

After all the hand-wringing and accusations about fake news, it is astonishing how left-wing media pundits still have no shame about making their own false or misleading public statements.  On last weekend’s Sunday news shows, the “media professionals” strapped on their Pinocchio noses and went to work.

Karine Jean-Pierre dropped this little stool on ABC’s This Week : “Donald Trump does have a vote in Congress to repeal, to take away, health care from many Americans.”

There was no mention of how many people lost their private coverage due to the ACA.  In fact, she didn’t mention ObamaCare at all.  No elaboration on how Congress’ proposed replacement plans are designed to cover more people rather than fewer.  Certainly no reporting on the need to beat back the crushing cost increases taxpayers currently bear (my forced ObamaCare premium is 400% higher than my private insurance was, and is now mostly subsidized by the taxpayers.)

Jean-Pierre just laid out her fake news “fact” that President Trump wants to take your health insurance away.  Job done, let’s go get a Starbucks.

During that same show, there was an advertisement paid for by the taxpayers, encouraging viewers to sign up for ObamaCare.  The ad’s appeal is that “most people who are enrolled receive ‘financial help’ with their premiums” – specifically, your individual premium might be as high as $650 per month, but you might only pay $50 per month.  Fake advertising news alert:  it’s not “financial help,”, it’s a taxpayer-funded subsidy.

If ObamaCare is such a good deal for everyone, why do we have to pay for TV advertisements to drum up business?

The left-wing media has become so adept at “fake news” that half of the Democrat party’s sobbing supporters believe Vladimir Putin actually hacked into the voting machines and threw the election for his buddy Donald Trump.

Here’s hoping the incoming administration will discard the corrupt mainstream media like a Hillary Clinton disk drive and take its messages straight to the people by whatever alternative means are available.  Because chances are, if it came from the mainstream media, it’s fake!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

You’re a fake, baby
You can’t conceal it
Know how I know?
‘Cause I can feel it!
You’re a fake, baby
No rhyme or reason
‘Cause in your mind it’s lyin’ season.

FAKE – Alexander O’Neal

Now here’s a funky one!  O’Neal on Soul Train, mid 80s.

 

 

 

Obamacare for Dummies

aca-for-dummies

 

The Affordable Health Care Act

History

In March of 2010 the Affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare) became law.  The bill passed the House by a vote of 206 – 212, and the Senate by 60 – 39.  Not one Republican congressman or senator voted for ObamaCare.  70% of Americans were opposed to the new law.  But hey, the Democrats are smarter than everybody else.  They know what’s best for us.

Features

  • If you like your insurance plan, you can keep your insurance plan.
    • Well, maybe not.  But you will have many good plans to choose from.
      • Unless the exchanges collapse because the insurers are bleeding money from mandated cost items. Actually, you will probably get stuck with very few plan choices from very few (maybe only one) insurance company.
  • If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.
    • But that’s only if your doctor chooses to accept your new insurance plan that pays him a lot less money and puts all kinds of requirements and restrictions on him.  It’s pretty unlikely.
  • Insurance premiums will go down $2500 per year
    • And then they will go way, way up.  Because
      • kids stay on your policy until age 26
      • people with expensive pre-existing conditions are welcomed to the pool
      • plans are required to provide more benefits, many of them for “free”
      • competition is reduced because only a few very large companies can manage the complexity and cost of implementing the government plans
      • new people on the plans, especially those plugged into Medicaid, will have much higher claims experience
      • oh, by the way, deductibles and co-pays will go crazy.  You may have to pay the first $14,000 of medical bills.
  • There will be no tax increases due to ObamaCare
    • The only way citizens can afford ObamaCare is if the government pays a huge portion of the sky-high premiums as a subsidy.  So the cost to the taxpayers is enormous.
      • But who cares?  The government doesn’t have to raise taxes.  They can just print more money and add to the national debt.
      • Oh, and if you don’t have insurance, you will have to pay a penalty.  But that’s not a tax.  Even though it is in the tax code, assessed and collected by the IRS.  The Supreme Court said so – it must be true.
  • ObamaCare will not add to the national deficit or debt
    • Umm, well.  Sorry.  That’s a fib.  See above.
  • There will be very few Americans who do not have health insurance
    • Unless healthy young people decide they can’t or don’t want to pay for ObamaCare and decide to just pay the fine.  Or not pay the fine.  Whatever.
    • And then there are the people who find enrollment in ObamaCare so complex they don’t even try.
  • ObamaCare will not be given to illegal immigrants at taxpayer expense
    • The government will, however, provide free ObamaCare to undocumented Democrat voters.

Conversion to HillaryCare in November 2016

  • The government tried, but ObamaCare didn’t work very well, so they are going to put you all on single-payer national health insurance like Canada.  They didn’t intend for this to happen. Really. It’s just one of those things.  But Hillary has a great new plan:
    • Long waiting lists for care.  This has been perfected by the VA Hospitals.  You may have to wait a year or so for that procedure.  This reduces cost because after a year many patients have assumed room temperature and no longer need care.
    • Your doctor will be a kid from Bangladesh who came here on an H1B visa.  He speaks English, but you still won’t understand a word he says.  This reduces cost because he will work for $20k per year, and you will give up trying to get well because you won’t know what’s wrong with you.
    • 80% of hospital wards will be converted to maternity units.  Our new undocumented Democrats do tend to have a lot of babies.

Quiz (True or False)

  1. Adding eight years of children’s coverage to a health care plan will reduce plan costs.
  2. Allowing people with pre-existing conditions to join a health care plan at the same premium level will reduce plan costs.
  3. Anything the government does will cost less and work better than it does in the private sector.
  4. Doctors don’t mind making less money or being told what to do.
  5. It doesn’t matter if premiums go way up as long as the government is paying for most of the cost (after all, if the government is paying for it, it’s free).

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

 

Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard!

 

 

 

Reacting to Crises vs. Thinking About Tomorrow

crisis-economica-empresas-internetEvery now and then I complain that the news media/liberal government is totally geared to our tiny little attention spans (the news media and liberal government are now inseparable and indistinguishable). They fully understand and exploit how soon we forget one earth-shaking news story when the next one comes along.  We don’t care whether the last crisis was explained, let alone resolved. Instead we lurch ahead to the latest shocking crisis.  And the news media/liberal government seemingly never runs out of crises.  We’re so busy dealing with the latest crisis that we never take the time to look ahead.

Do you feel manipulated?

A few weeks ago the earth stopped rotating because Central American kids were walking across our southern border expecting (and receiving) amnesty.  It was 24/7 news.   What happened?  The hand-wringing, the speeches, the headlines, the passion, the crisis – it all just . . . stopped.

Benghazi?  Forgotten.  Kidnapped Nigerian girls?  Who cares.  Even the Ferguson riots don’t matter today.

The VA scandal?  Hmmph.  The IRS targeting of conservative groups?  No big.  Trayvon Martin?  Operation Fast and Furious?  Free birth control pills for Sandra Fluke?  Syria?  Ukraine?  Hamas lobbing rockets into Israel?   Fagettaboutit.

I thought ObamaCare was a BFD.  Joe Biden said so.  But I haven’t heard anything about it in the news for a long time.  Have you?  Everything must be just peachy.

Today it’s all about ISIS.  Or ISIL.  (Why can’t the news media/liberal government just pick one label?)  The shocking beheadings supercede any and all previous shocks. Until the next shock.

Rahm Emanuel said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”   Hillary Clinton doubled down on the same strategy.   They are disciples, along with Barack Obama, of Saul Alinsky and the Cloward-Piven Strategy, which advises socialists to stir up as much crisis as possible in order to drive the frightened and under-informed into the warm and waiting arms of a big-government oligarchy. Cloward and Piven were deep-thinking socialists from Columbia University – Barack Obama’s alma mater.  But I digress.

Wouldn’t it be great if our political leaders would, just once, look ahead a little instead of just reacting to the latest crisis?

They could be figuring out how to match up the capabilities of the work force with the needs of employers.  Or maybe what role our tremendous energy resources could play in the world economy.  We could be working on a mathematical solution to our insolvent social security system (it is do-able).  Shoot, maybe somebody could be thinking about how to deal with the cancerous radical Muslim ideology that threatens to overwhelm the politically-correct Western world.  Our president says, “we don’t have a strategy yet.”

We need political leaders who are thinking about tomorrow to replace those who only react to the latest crisis.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

Yup, the gig with the USC marching band – Classic!

Yeah, Joe, It’s A Big F***ing Deal!

big fucking dealMarch 23, 2010:  Vice President Joe Biden introduced Barack Obama to the adoring gathered media, grabbed a handshake, lit up his biggest goofy grin, and told the President, “This is a big fucking deal!” 

Yeah, Joe, it was.  It still is.

Four years later, citizens still scramble to make sense of it all – to try to save some scraps of access to quality health care in the age of ObamaCare – over 11,000 pages of intentionally obtuse regulations – a stack of paper over three feet high, and growing – a set of laws that no longer resembles the one passed by Congress – shuffled almost weekly by politically-motivated Obama imprimaturs – a Reid/Pelosi head fake toward the ultimate goal of national health care.

There are few winners, many losers, and a rush-hour freeway full of people who are just totally baffled.  As the (extended) enrollment deadline of March 31 approaches, American families are coming down to crunch time.  How the hell are we going to have health insurance that we can afford, and that actually works?  And what will be the cost to a nation already punch-drunk from the economic fun-house imposed on us by a Peter Principle community organizer with no clue?

Like all Americans, my wife and I are on the front lines in the ObamaCare battle. I don’t want to bore you with details – each of us has his own sad ObamaCare ballad to sing.  In short: our policy was cancelled because it was not ObamaCare compliant.  ‘His Eminence’ declared we could “keep our insurance” –  then we could not – then we could.  When we finally could, the premium was nearly double.  But as responsible conservative Americans do, we bit the bullet and paid the freight.  Then, a few months later, we moved to another state and found we had no choice but to buy into ObamaCare.

The Health Care dot gov website, although somewhat functional, was replete with errors and inconsistencies.  The deductible is $500.  No wait, this page says $5000!  That page says our doctors are in the network and will be paid by insurance.  But wait!  This page says they are not in the network and there will be no reimbursement!  Phone calls to the insurance provider go directly to voice-mail hell.  The one “advisor” who eventually called me back was at the end of her rope – apologetically as baffled as the rest of us.

Having lost our grandfathered policy, we had no choice but to enroll for coverage on the “exchange” and accept whatever the government decided to give us – aka the ‘Soviet’ position.  Yes, the taxpayer-funded subsidy makes our premium attractive.  But we don’t know if we can keep our doctors and top-notch local hospital.  We are pretty sure we won’t have access to the premier cancer and heart clinics that are the best hope of those most in need of God’s medical mercy.  There are 11,000 pages of fine print that are way beyond our control.  It feels like we have been sold a ten-dollar buffet lunch where a dollar’s worth is about all you can stomach.  Worst of all, we – for the first time in our lives – are ashamed to be forced into leaning on the hard-working taxpayers of our once-proud country.  Except for my Obama Phone – but that was just to make a point.

Yeah, Joe.  ObamaCare is a big fucking deal.  You guys screwed the country out of the best health care system in the world.  It’s a big, sad, fucking deal.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

A spelling test compliments of Country Joe McDonald
at Woodstock, 1969.  Plenty of “F-Bombs” as reprised by VP Joe Biden –

   the Vietnam song – Country Joe McDonald