Saturday, August 25, 2012

Canard, it is not

Jesse Singal at The Daily Beast (link included for completeness, but not recommended) is reviving the idea that Obamacare contemplates no elite panel of experts who will judge what treatments will be available to Americans.

Desperate Measures: Paul Ryan Tries To Revive the “Death Panel” Canard, contains Singal's complaint that when Paul Ryan said,
"Obama’s health care law "puts a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of Medicare who are required to cut Medicare in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors.""
...Ryan has shown mendacity, ignorance or both. The Liberal objection to Ryan's point is that nowhere in Obamacare is there any required government judgment regarding what treatments a given individual may have. True, but irrelevant. The pretense that a bunch of bureaucrats prohibiting certain treatments for everyone does not constitute a "death panel" is belied by years of exactly such decisions made by Britain's NHS and, topically, by Ontario's Health Ministry.

Last-hope prostate drug not funded
There are two tiers of men with advanced prostate cancer in Ontario: Those who get access to a remarkable drug through private insurance, and those who get a death sentence.

The grim news is often delivered at the London Regional Cancer Program to men whose shoulders sag and jaws drop when told Ontario's Health Ministry has for 15 months refused to pay for a medication covered by every other Canadian province.
For a more comprehensive examination of the question, see this article at The Heritage Foundation:
Comparative Effectiveness Research Under Obamacare: A Slippery Slope to Health Care Rationing
Abstract: One element of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is the advancement of “comparative effectiveness research” (CER). Intended to compare available treatment options, CER can benefit patients if used for informational purposes only, but it could also be harmful in practice. The expansion of the Medicare bureaucracy under the PPACA will allow the use of CER for more government micromanagement of personal medical decision making—hurting patients, doctors, and the practice of medicine.

...The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has created a quasi-governmental entity, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), to advance CER and its use by doctors, patients, and others.
There are several links in that article which document US government health care "best practice" advice which has already killed people.

If you believe the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute will live up to its Orwellian moniker, I have an almost new solar-panel manufacturing plant I'd like to sell you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The investment that's Left

Last week the president took time off from golf and fundraising to brag about what a great thing he did in bailing out the UAW General Motors:
“Now, I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.”
Barack Obama, Pueblo, Colorado - Thursday Aug 9

“I want to say what we did with the auto industry, we can do it in manufacturing across America.”
Barack Obama, Colorado Springs, Colorado - Thursday Aug 9
That's what we're all afraid of.

The president should have waited to comment on the wonderfulness of Government Motors, as these stories from Forbes and Investors Business Daily show:

General Motors Is Headed For Bankruptcy -- Again
Obama's $25 Billion Government Motors Lemon

Any competent CEO/CFO would insist on knowing these facts, certainly he would do so before wishing GM's fate on every other US manufacturer. I'm sure Mr. Obama did know these things. Think about it. Unlike every other CEO/CFO, he has the CIA, the NSA, the CBO, the GAO, the FBI, Tim Geithner, Harry Reid and John Corzine to help him out with industrial intelligence.

The president failed to mention his accomplishment in trashing the contracts for GM bondholders. Nor did he speak of raping Delphi salaried pensioners. Recognizing those acts as counter to the rule of law would involve ideas, not intentions.

At the moment, the GM bailout is just barely a better investment than A123 and Solyndra, two "green" initiatives the president has funded. He is at least consistent. The president dumped $500 million into A123 for batteries, and $500 million into Solyndra for solar electricity to charge the batteries.

What's the return on investment from that? A bunch of temporary jobs in China, a taxpayer funded bankruptcy and the Chevy Volt.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Liberal Ayn Rand?

At Slate, Beverly Gage asks "Why Is There No Liberal Ayn Rand?"
Ask Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan how he became a conservative and he’ll probably answer by citing a book. It might be Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Or perhaps he’ll come up with Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, or even Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. All of these books are staples of the modern conservative canon, works with the reputed power to radicalize even the most tepid Republican. Over the last half-century, they have been vital to the conservative movement’s success—and to liberalism’s demise.

We tend to think of the conservative influence in purely political terms: electing Ronald Reagan in 1980, picking away at Social Security, reducing taxes for the wealthy.
The answer to "Why Is There No Liberal Ayn Rand?" is right there, in the first sentence of the second paragraph. It's blindingly obvious (it's even Ms Gage's point) that "Liberals" don't think in terms of ideas. Ideas are hard work, intentions are easier. Liberals like to think in terms of intentions, and mostly they think in terms of how they interpret the intentions of others based on their own intentions to improve humanity. Liberals don't think like free people, they think in terms of how to apply power to the purpose of perfecting their fellows. To a Liberal, making everybody else perfect is what Liberty means.

The reason there's no Liberal Ayn Rand is the same reason there's no Liberal Rush Limbaugh. It's been tried and it has utterly failed. It's the very definition of oxymoron.

You might as well ask why there's no "Liberal" John Galt. A question you couldn't ask if you'd bothered to pay attention to certain compelling arguments from your opposition. Even if the ideas weren't compelling to you, would the demands of diversity not require you to attempt to understand? Would not a reasoned defense of your own ideas demand it?

And here the answer is again - in the first sentence of the third paragraph:
Liberals, by contrast, have been moving in the other direction over the last half-century, abandoning the idea that ideas can be powerful political tools. This may seem like a strange statement at a moment when American universities are widely understood to be bastions of liberalism, and when liberals themselves are often derided as eggheaded elites. But there is a difference between policy smarts honed in college classrooms and the kind of intellectual conversation that keeps a movement together. What conservatives have developed is what the left used to describe as a “movement culture”: a shared set of ideas and texts that bind activists together in common cause. Liberals, take note.
But it's yet more subtle than that. First, the tea party people needed no institutional bastion of conservatism, controlled by an insular elite, to "re-educate" them. They'd have a hard time finding one if they did. They didn't need the ivory tower re-education camps in the first place. They get it innately. They fundamentally understand it. When they read Ayn Rand, they can see today's headlines. Our president's success as a community organizer doesn't make them swell with pride. Rather, it reminds them of Wesley Mouch.

"Liberals" have not abandoned the idea that ideas can be powerful political tools, they have abandoned the idea that anyone but them is allowed ideas. They are shocked, shocked when anyone deigns to challenge their intentions.
Liberals have channeled their energies even more narrowly over the past half-century, tending to prefer policy tweaks and electoral mapping to big-picture thinking. When was the last time you saw a prominent liberal politician ascribe his or her passion and interest in politics to, of all things, a book? The most dogged insistence on the influence of Obama’s early reading has come from his TeaParty critics, who fume constantly that he is about to carry out a secret plan laid out a half century ago by far-left writers ranging from Alinsky, the granddaddy of “community organizing,” to social reformer Frances Fox Piven.
In fact, no. Tea party criticism is not about the books Obama may have read, it's about the books he "wrote."
Liberals may argue that they are better off knocking on doors and brainstorming policy than muddling through the great works of midcentury America.
Policy without theory is untestable, and I can see why "Liberals" would consider that a strength. It allows them the excuse that without Obama's stimulus the unemployment rate he promised wouldn't go over 8%, but hit 10% (and more), deserves a Mulligan. He meant well.

And that Obama predicted the unemployment rate, with stimulus, would now be 5.6% is irrelevant. Get that? Not below 6%, but 5point6%. This is the same administration that quibbled over whether an unemployment rate of 8.254% should be reported as 8.3%.

So much for the precision wisdom of the centralized planners. You know, those very same people who turn out to be even more wrong than our president... in some book written by Ayn Rand.

Nothing to see here about testing ideas, let's just MoveOn:

Ms Gage continues:
Some of this imbalance is due to the relative weakness of the current American left. Liberals are not the logical counterweight to conservatives; leftists are, but they are few in number.
Some of this imbalance is due to self delusion. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama (who, as a teen, was mentored by an avowed Communist, wrote about hanging out with Marxists in college and who, in 1996, received the endorsement of the Chicago branch of the Democratic Socialists of America), Bernie Sanders, Maxine Waters, Barbara Boxer and Debbie Wossname-Schultz are not left? The self-declared Communist (Van Jones) and admirer of Mao (Anita Dunn) whom Obama appointed to positions of power were not left? Please.

And, finally, a note is required on the lead sentence of the closing paragraph:
In the current election this means that liberals also run the unnecessary risk of ceding intellectual authority to the right.
Excuse me, but this is the risk Liberals continually choose. They do it gleefully, confident in the ascendance of their intentions, and with no thought about ideas. There is no necessary or unnecessary when peering down from the summit of moral superiority.

This election may represent increased risk for those who don't have, or care about, ideas; but they don't care enough to read Atlas Shrugged or Capitalism and Freedom to find out about the ideas that oppose them. Many of us who've read Atlas, have also read Das Kapital and Rules for Radicals and The Black Book of Communism. We have some idea what we're up against, and, unlike Ms Gage, we can even name Liberals we used to consider serious thinkers. We were wrong, but we could say why.

Monday, August 13, 2012

And the winner the statists picked is... China

China just bought the battery manufacturing darling of the US DoE and the Granholm adminstration.
A company that two years ago was one of the most promising U.S. innovators in the clean-fuel auto industry was rescued from collapse Wednesday. Its buyer: A Chinese auto-parts company.

Wanxiang Group Corp., one of China's biggest parts makers, offered a $450 million lifeline to A123 Systems Inc., a maker of advanced batteries for electric vehicles that received U.S.-government backing. The deal would put the firm's lithium-ion technology and its U.S.-funded manufacturing plant into the hands of a company that has slowly acquired a passel of auto assets across the Midwest.
A123 has ripped off the American taxpayer for $249 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy. It was one of former governor Granholm's favorite picks, to the tune of $100 million. The Chinese are grateful, I suppose, for taxpayer assistance while A123's stock dropped from $26.00 to $0.82. Without said assistance, A123 might have been gone before they could buy it. Worse yet, from Obama's point of view, Bain Capital might have turned it around.

TOC has mentioned A123 as an excellent example of government "investment" failure.

So. Is anyone wondering why the Chinese didn't buy Solyndra? My guess is that they, unlike the Obama administration, sometimes know a hopeless investment when they see one. And the fact that Obama himself deigned to appear at, and specifically cite Solyndra, while leaving A123 to the likes of Debbie Stabenow, does tell you that the more money government uses to tilt the market the higher the political profile, and the worse the results. A123's jobs may be going to China now, but at least there are still jobs.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Good choice, Mitt!

You'll find some of the few dollars the president has allowed me to keep in your campaign contribution fund today.

By choosing Paul Ryan you have demonstrated that you care about ideas. Or, can at least be influenced to appear to care about ideas. We will see which it is, and it matters very much.

You have called this a pivotal election. Indeed, it is. Picking Representative Ryan indicates you appreciate what "pivotal" means.

You have drawn a clear, bright line on the federal budget and entitlement reform. Resist any impulse to blur it. Your choice remains inspiring only so long as there is no prevarication and no obfuscation about the choice we face in November. There must be no quarter given the statists now scurrying for cover. To do so now will destroy your campaign. That's the beauty of your choice.

It's going to get even uglier than it has been, and we expect you to stay the course you have set. We know who built that.

This election is pivotal because ideas matter. That is the whole of it. People who care about the Founding Principles of the United States are awakening to an innate, fundamental and visceral commitment to those principles. They may not be able to articulate this, or relate it to their daily lives, but Paul Ryan can show them why it matters.

The general population's ignorance of basic economics makes a campaign of ideas seem risky, but in our guts "we" know Obama is wrong. If "we" don't know that, the Liberty experiment is over. Paul Ryan can show us why.

Thanks, Mitt, you've given us the battle we want to fight.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Voters less likely to vote for Obama are less equal than others.

Obama campaign sues Ohio over early voting law for military
The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have filed a lawsuit to block a new state law allowing men and women in uniform to vote up until the Monday right before an election, while the cutoff on early voting for the rest of the public is three days earlier.
If you're a Seal Team 6 member from Ohio, Obama thanks you for your usefulness in campaign propaganda service, but he doesn't think you're mature enough to vote.

He's not the first Democrat to attempt this, of course. So did AlGore.

I suppose the rationale is that military voters already have picture ID's, so they should lose their franchise, no matter their superficial melanin content. Anything else would be racist.