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Posts Tagged ‘paternalism’

Paternalists push potent pot proscription

Posted by Richard on April 1, 2016

The folks who fought against legal marijuana in Colorado have been fighting rear-guard actions ever since they lost at the polls, pushing local bans on pot shops, ever tighter restrictions on edibles, etc. Their latest effort involves the old “today’s marijuana is much more dangerous than the stuff you boomers smoked in college” argument:

A proposed ballot initiative and an amendment to a bill in the state House would cap the THC potency of recreational cannabis and marijuana products at a percentage below most of those products’ current averages.

The initiative would limit the potency of “marijuana and marijuana products” to 15 percent or 16 percent THC.

The average potency of Colorado pot products is already higher — 17.1 percent for cannabis flower and 62.1 percent for marijuana extracts, according to a state study.

Supporters of the legislation, introduced byRepublican state Rep. Kathleen Conti, say they’re being cautious until more research has been done and protecting the brain development of adolescents. But opponents say the measures are unreasonable and could squash some of the legal cannabis industry’s most popular categories.

“All the studies that have been done on THC levels have been done on THC levels between 2 and 8 percent,” said Conti, whose district encompasses parts of Greenwood Village and Littleton. “Most of the marijuana coming in now, the flowers are being rated at a THC count of about 17 percent on average, so this is dramatically over, and we really don’t know that we’ve gotten the true feel on the health risks associated with that marijuana.”

Let’s apply the same silly argument to another popular intoxicant. The alcohol content by volume (ABV) of the average mass-produced American lager beer is between 4 and 5 percent. The ABV of beers sold in grocery stores is capped at 3.2% (yes, Colorado still clings to that silly restriction). But more and more people are turning to tastier craft beers, and those often have an ABV of 7, 8, or even 10 percent and higher. And who knows what additional risks beer drinkers are taking when they switch from Coors Light to a Double IPA or (horrors!) a barleywine ale? Especially the adolescents. We should cap beer potency at 5% ABV. It’s for the children! (Never mind that it’s already illegal for adolescents to use either alcohol or pot.)

And OMG, what about distilled spirits? Someone who’s used to quaffing a pint or three of 5% ABV beer may not realize the danger of downing a pint or three of 90 proof (45% ABV) bourbon!

Of course, this is nonsense. Except for a small minority with no self-control (many of whom live under a bridge), people imbibe and smoke until they reach a comfortable level of inebriation and then stop. If they’re drinking Coors Light (or smoking 8% THC pot), they drink (smoke) more; if they’re drinking Upslope Imperial IPA (or smoking Purple Lady), they drink (smoke) less. If they’re drinking Bulleit (or vaping a concentrate), they drink (vape) much less.

Limit the THC content of legal marijuana, and users will burn more vegetable matter to achieve the same high, which is bad for their lungs. (Or they’ll switch to black market pot; anyone see an opportunity for a Baptists-and-bootleggers alliance here?)

But then, the puritans secretly believe that pursuers of such sybaritic pleasures deserve to be punished/harmed by them. That’s why it’s illegal for brewers and distillers to add B vitamins to their products, which would significantly reduce the incidence of liver damage among heavy drinkers.

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Protecting the public from entrepreneurial snow-shovelers

Posted by Richard on February 14, 2015

The northeastern US is being pounded with yet another snowstorm this weekend, so it seems appropriate to call out the latest “Nanny of the Week” story at as a cautionary tale for any ambitious young entrepreneurs in that part of the country.

Matt Molinari and Eric Schnepf, both 18-year-olds from Bound Brook, N.J., were going door-to-door in their neighborhood Jan. 27, handing out homemade flyers that offered snow-shoveling services. School had already been canceled for the next day, when a winter storm was expected to bury their portion of the Garden State under several inches of cold white powder.

But their offer of a free exchange of services for cash caught the attention of the local police force.

According to local news reports, the cops told the kids they weren’t allowed to solicit business by going door-to-door without a permit from the local government.

To get a permit for door-to-door solicitation in Bound Brook, Molinari and Schnepf would have had to pay the borough $450 (and the government-issued permission slip is only good for 180 days at a time, which is fine if you’re trying to run a snow-shoveling business, but not so great if you’re trying to offer services year-round).

At that cost, they’d have little chance of making any profit — unless the fine folks of Bound Brook are willing to pay $100 to have their driveways and front walks cleared.

A similar incident was reported in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion on Jan. 28 as the snow was falling up and down the east coast. Police reportedly told two men they were not allowed to engage in door-to-door solicitation of snow-shoveling services without permission from local officials.

Supposedly, such door-to-door solicitation rules protect people from scams, “distraction robberies,” and the like. But if that were true, then why not prohibit all door-to-door distribution of flyers (not just charge a permit fee) in order to protect people from dishonest roofers, driveway sealers, lawn aerators, assorted handymen, and fraudulent charities? I’m pretty sure a $450 fee won’t prevent roofing or home repair scams that bilk scores of people out of thousands of dollars each, but it sure puts the kibbosh on teens offering to shovel snow, rake leaves, or mow lawns.

For that matter, why don’t we just prohibit people from walking through their own neighborhoods between 9 AM and 3 PM, when most home burglaries occur? Think of how much safer we’d all be!

SMDH (shaking my damn head).

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Blogger threatened for writing about nutrition

Posted by Richard on May 1, 2012

After being hospitalized with diabetes,  Steve Cooksey adopted a low-carb, high-protein diet. Within 30 days his diabetes was under control without drugs, and in three months he lost 45 pounds. He decided to start blogging about his success. When the North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition (NCBDN) discovered what he was doing, they informed him that he was breaking the law by “providing nutritional counseling” without a license. His blog could be shut down and he could face fines and jail time.

What kind of “nutritional counseling” did Cooksey offer? Responding to someone concerned about a diabetic friend, Cooksey wrote, “Your friend must first and foremost obtain and maintain normal blood sugars.” The NCBDN informed him that this kind of “assessing and advising requires a license.” It was OK for him to list the foods he ate, but if he recommended them to others, the NCBDN declared, he was “providing diabetic counseling which requires a license.”

This isn’t an isolated incident, according to WorldNetDaily. In fact, the FDA has gone much further and wants to go further still:

The actions against Cooksey are part of a growing trend by government officials to crack down on any groups or persons that offer alternatives to traditional medical treatment.

In 2010, the FDA raided the offices of Daniel Chapter One, a Christian ministry that promotes a diet based on the bible chapter that is its namesake after a federal judge refused to allow the FTC to level a massive fine against the company.

“They came in screaming and hollering, ‘This is a raid, hands up.’ I saw a gun in my face,” said Jim Feijo, founder of the company.

“They patted Jim down and removed him from the office. They didn’t show me a warrant. They came in very aggressively, that was needless,” said Tricia Feijo, Jim’s wife and partner and a trained homeopath.

Under Obamacare, the FDA has determined that a person’s own body is considered a drug and subject to regulation.

The Centeno-Schultz clinic in Denver pioneered Regenexx, a treatment in which a patient’s stem cells are removed, cultivated for two weeks in a lab then re-injected back into the body. The procedure is used to treat patients with knee injuries, partial rotator cuff tears in the shoulder and lower back disc bulges.

In 2008, the FDA informed Dr. Christopher Centeno that it considered the stem cells to be a drug and subsequently stopped the clinic from cultivating patients’ stem cells.

The FDA has even suggested that bottled water when used to treat dehydration should be regulated as a drug. Under the organization’s “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Products and Their Regulation by the Food and Drug Administration,” the agency said it should have the authority to regulate all vitamins, supplements, herbs and other natural substances, including water when used to “treat” dehydration.

Want to do something about outrageous nonsense like this? Life Extension Foundation’s Legislative Action Center is a good place to start.

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The war on raw milk

Posted by Richard on March 13, 2012

In California, dairy farmer James Stewart is being prosecuted for selling unpasteurized milk to unsuspecting consumers. No, wait, I got that wrong. He sold it to consumers who eagerly sought him out and stood in line for the opportunity to buy it.

In France, you can buy raw, unpasteurized milk in vending machines, and Mark Perry noted the irony:

… We always hear about France being an example of heavy-handed government bureaucracy and “European-style socialism,” but that seems to more accurately describe California’s approach in this case while France takes the “laissez-faire” approach.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is putting pink slime in school lunches.

Because the government knows what’s best for us.

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More food stamps, and many more government limousines

Posted by Richard on June 2, 2011

Billll noticed an interesting juxtaposition of data: food stamp participation is up 39%, and government limousine use is up 73%. Michelle Malkin has the depressing food stamp graph, while iWatch has more details on the Obama administration surge in government limousines (HT for both links: Doug Ross).

I'm not surprised by either statistic. We are governed by people whose goal is to diminish the private sector and increase dependency on government, while increasing the size and power of government. They are succeeding.

And as is typical of socialists, they're making sure that, as Orwell put it, "some animals are more equal than others."

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The power of the technician

Posted by Richard on November 21, 2010

Daniel H. Fernald thinks TSA administrator John Pistole's response to the growing "Don't touch my junk" movement is a symptom of a problem that won't be solved by defeating Obama in 2012. It's much more fundamental. Woodrow Wilson is implicated. And French philosopher and sociologist Jacques Ellul explained it almost fifty years ago:

Politicians are decision makers. They control the levers of power. The trouble, according to Ellul, is that in an increasingly complex environment, they often don’t know how to use them.

This is where the expert, the “technician,” comes in. At the outset, the expert’s role is merely to advise political leaders on how best to accomplish politicians’ stated policy goals. The expert’s role soon progresses to determining the “one best means” of accomplishing those goals. Finally, the expert technician decides on not merely the means of pursuing the “one best means” but also determines the policy goal toward which “the one best means” is directed.

As the power of the technician waxes, that of the politician wanes, until he is little more than a rubber stamp.

The monstrous Leviathan into which TSA has quickly, albeit all too predictably, morphed is a textbook illustration of Ellul’s thesis. Several elected representatives of the people politely suggested that a political technician, a bureaucrat, might possibly want to think about maybe giving, you know, just a bit of thought to not forcing American citizens to choose between being irradiated or groped, and he simply said:


That’s a quote. He didn’t mince words, he didn’t equivocate, he didn’t evade the question. He simply said, “No.”

And the politicians did nothing, because they had no power to do anything. The technician had the power, and they all knew it.

Read the whole thing.

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Obama the keeper

Posted by Richard on September 28, 2010

Today in Albuquerque, President Obama said he embraced Christianity because it "spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead – being my brothers' and sisters' keeper …"

The problem is that to him the word "keeper" has approximately the same meaning that it has at the zoo. 

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License to describe

Posted by Richard on September 24, 2010

According to the Institute for Justice, in the 1950s, one in twenty members of the workforce had to have a government license to do their job; today, it's one in three. Defenders of all this government regulation and control argue that it's all about protecting consumers. That argument is specious enough when they're talking about laws to protect us from unskilled flower arrangers or hair braiders.

But the District of Columbia tops even those absurd licensing examples; it recently decided that tourists need to be protected from sightseeing guides who lack sufficient historical knowledge. So new regulations make it a crime, punishable by up to three months in jail, for tour guides to describe things without a license. Getting a license requires completing a bunch of paperwork, paying hundreds in required fees, and passing a multiple-choice test covering "an arbitrary hodgepodge of knowledge about the District."

Segs in the City provides sightseeing tours of Washington on Segways. Ironically, they don't need licenses for the Segways, or for teaching their customers how to ride them, but they do need licenses in order to describe the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. The Institute for Justice and Segs in the City's Tonia Edwards and Bill Main have filed a federal lawsuit arguing that they have a "First Amendment right to communicate for a living."

Check out this short video. And then support the Institute for Justice's fine work by donating a few bucks

[YouTube link]

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Controlling the people and redistributing the wealth

Posted by Richard on March 26, 2010

For a long time, the Socialist Democrats have hidden their true agenda from the American people. No more. They're now so cocky and confident (and so contemptuous of their opposition) that they're dropping the facade of moderation and centrism.

On Tuesday, Rep. John Dingell (SD-MI) was asked on a Michigan radio program why Obamacare would not be fully implemented until 2014 when so many people are dying each year due to lack of insurance (a claim based on a totally bogus study, BTW). Dingell explained that "it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people."

The same day, a New York Times story (I'll link to the excellent fisking at Sweetness & Light) made it clear that the government takeover of the health care industry is "the federal government's biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago" and the centerpiece of Obama's plan to reverse the Reagan Revolution and redistribute wealth. 

And just today, as the Senate was preparing to pass the "reconciliation" bill containing the House "fixes" for Obamacare, Sen. Max Baucus (SD-MT) addressed the Senate as follows: 

Too often, much of late, the last couple three years the mal-distribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America. This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.

So. Now that it's a done deal, the Socialist Democrats are proudly proclaiming what they previously and angrily denied, what they previously denounced as right-wing lies and fear-mongering: the government takeover of the health care industry is intended to control the people and redistribute the wealth. It's intended to turn citizens into subjects and to ensure equality of misery.

They're slightly less crazy-sounding, but fundamentally not all that different from Hugo Chavez.

But don't worry about the constitutionality.  Rep. John Conyers (SD-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and noted constitutional scholar, has assured us that it's all authorized by the Constitution's "Good and Welfare Clause."

Costa Rica's looking better all the time. Or maybe Honduras, where they still respect the rule of law.

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Student faces expulsion for fake drill team guns

Posted by Richard on February 9, 2009

I saw this story broadcast on 9News the other night, shook my head in disgust, and went on about my business. Yet another good kid victimized by idiotic "zero tolerance" laws — this sort of thing seems to happen every other day, doesn't it? I'm sorry to say I'm so inured to this stuff that I barely notice these petty outrages anymore.

But Jed (who still isn't back up and running) thinks the blogosphere ought to take note, so I'm happy to oblige:

Marie Morrow, a 17-year-old senior at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, is serving a 10-day suspension. Her punishment could be extended at an expulsion hearing later this month.

Morrow is a student leader in the Douglas County Young Marines, a group dedicated to teaching leadership and life skills.

Cherry Creek Schools suspended Morrow after other students reported seeing guns inside her SUV, which was parked outside school while she was in class.

The school also called police, who seized the three drill team guns made of wood, plastic and duct tape. Police told Morrow to claim them in time for her after-school drill practice off-campus.

School administrators, however, were less understanding. The guns were declared "authentic representations of genuine weapons," triggering a mandatory expulsion statute in state law.

"The law doesn't make any distinction between a genuine weapon and a facsimile," said Cherry Creek Schools spokeswoman Tustin Amole.

Amole says federal and state laws mandate expulsion, and that school districts only have discretion to determine the length of that expulsion.

Asked who had the discretion to deem the props "dangerous weapons," Amole said school administrators and police made the decision based on state law that defines a "dangerous weapon" as "a firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, or a firearm facsimile that could reasonably be mistaken for an actual firearm."

Reasonably mistaken for an actual firearm by someone brainwashed with anti-gun propaganda. Or an idiot. Or a school administrator. But I repeat myself.

UPDATE: Check out Zombyboy's story from his misspent youth, which shows just how far we've regressed in the last twenty-odd years.

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A pretty impressive plumber

Posted by Richard on October 16, 2008

Regarding Samuel Joseph "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, Scott at Conservatism Today got it about right:

Seriously. This guy is the epitome of American values, hard work and self-sufficiency – and the MSM is going to do everything in its power to destroy him. Just remember, they are destroying you at the same time. Favorite line: "I have parents, I don't need another set of parents called the government." Next favorite: "We are the greatest country in the world, stop apologizing for it."

Here's another great Joe the Plumber quote (from Marina Lee):

“It’s not right for someone to decide you made too much—that you’ve done too good and now we’re going to take some of it back…That’s just completely wrong.”

Here's some Joe the Plumber video. The first one (1:31) is from his home last night after the debate (via The Barton Bulletin).


This one (3:57) is from his press conference this morning.


Where do we order the "I support Joe the Plumber" t-shirts and bumper stickers? I wish McCain (and many other Republicans) sounded this good. 

A friend commented that many recent newsmakers (like Dodd, Frank, Pelosi, Obama …) have reminded her of Ayn Rand's villains, but that Joe reminded her of John Galt. That's a stretch. I suspect Joe is more of an Eddie Willers. But, damn, we need lots more Eddie Willers in the world. 

BTW, did you pooh-pooh Scott's remark above about the MSM going after Joe? The effort to dig up dirt on Joe is already well under way. Charlie Martin (emphasis added):

Okay, according to Jonathan Martin (no relation as far as I know), a Politico reporter has found a tax lien against Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, who is apparently “Joe the Plumber.” For about $1200.

Now, the county webserver is being wiped out by people trying to look at that docket, so it’s a little hard to find out the whole story — like, was it paid? Was it part of a pending tax dispute? — but in the mean time, think about this for a minute. This guy had the temerity to actually argue with Obama over a point, and get attention — so now national political websites/newspapers are sending reporters to search his tax records?

I mean, at least it used to be campaign operatives doing this kind of thing.

Martin soon followed up with another example, and then another

Now, according to Allahpundit, they've dug up "paperwork irregularities" that may put Joe out of work. And Allahpundit wondered (emphasis added):

Should have known better than to ask a media darling a tough question before your affairs were in order, Joe. Exit question: The law’s the law and it is, after all, his own fault for not having the papers he needs. If, say, an illegal alien had asked McCain a tough question and some righty media source responded by bringing his status to light, would the left feel the same way?

Anyone who dares criticize Obama must be punished, and the press is eager to help. I feel sorry for Joe Wurzelbacher. The left and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) are conducting an anal probing of this decent, hard-working man and won't rest until they destroy him. 

I'm going to keep my eyes open for a Joe Wurzelbacher legal defense fund. I suspect he'll need one, and if so, I'll help.

UPDATE: Another roundup of how they're trying to destroy Joe the Plumber. (HT: Instapundit)

UPDATE: Instapundit noted that "They've done more investigations into Joe the Plumber in 24 hours than they've done on Barack Obama in two years . . . ." Read the whole thing. This has quickly gotten disgusting.

UPDATE (10/18): CafePress has "I heart Joe the Plumber" shirts. (HT: Instapundit) But I don't want to "heart" Joe. I want to support Joe. Don't miss my new post about Joe and related matters.

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Protecting freedom of choice

Posted by Richard on March 8, 2008

Today's Wall Street Journal featured a fine opinion column defending freedom of choice and challenging paternalistic efforts to address three current issues. The author addressed three things in the news lately: subprime mortgages, health insurance, and payday loans. In each case, he argued, efforts to protect people from themselves with more regulation are wrong-headed and counter-productive.

Regarding the "mortgage crisis," the author argued that liberal credit, subprime loans, and adjustable-rate mortgages made home-ownership possible for countless people who otherwise couldn't have achieved it. And for most of them, this was and still is a very good thing: 

According to the national delinquency survey released yesterday, the vast majority of subprime, adjustable-rate mortgages are in good condition,their holders neither delinquent nor in default.

There's no question, however, that delinquency and default rates are far too high. But some of this is due to bad investment decisions by real-estate speculators. These losses are not unlike the risks taken every day in the stock market.

The real question for policy makers is how to protect those worthy borrowers who are struggling, without throwing out a system that works fine for the majority of its users (all of whom have freely chosen to use it). If the tub is more baby than bathwater, we should think twice about dumping everything out.

Regarding health care, the author argued that paternalism has denied people access to affordable options and restricted them to "gold-plated health plans" that they don't want and can't afford:

Buying health insurance on the Internet and across state lines, where less expensive plans may be available, is prohibited by many state insurance commissions. Despite being able to buy car or home insurance with a mouse click, some state governments require their approved plans for purchase or none at all. It's as if states dictated that you had to buy a Mercedes or no car at all.

Regarding payday loans, the author noted that these services, although expensive, allow people of modest means to cope with emergency needs at a far lower cost than the alternatives of bouncing checks or missing payments. The effort to restrict, regulate, or outlaw these services could cause great harm to their supposed victims:

Anguished at the fact that payday lending isn't perfect, some people would outlaw the service entirely, or cap fees at such low levels that no lender will provide the service. Anyone who's familiar with the law of unintended consequences should be able to guess what happens next.

Researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York went one step further and laid the data out: Payday lending bans simply push low-income borrowers into less pleasant options, including increased rates of bankruptcy. Net result: After a lending ban, the consumer has the same amount of debt but fewer ways to manage it.

The "less pleasant options" also include loan sharks with mob connections who break legs when payments are late.

The author concluded with words that made me cheer:

Since leaving office I've written about public policy from a new perspective: outside looking in. I've come to realize that protecting freedom of choice in our everyday lives is essential to maintaining a healthy civil society.

Why do we think we are helping adult consumers by taking away their options? We don't take away cars because we don't like some people speeding. We allow state lotteries despite knowing some people are betting their grocery money. Everyone is exposed to economic risks of some kind. But we don't operate mindlessly in trying to smooth out every theoretical wrinkle in life.

The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else.

If you're reading this on your computer, you're probably already seated. Good. If not, sit down. The author of this wonderful column? George McGovern. Yes, the George McGovern.

Now, listen up, all you doom-and-gloom libertarians and libertarian-conservatives. You whine about how we're losing more and more of our freedoms, about the inexorable growth of Leviathan. You think we're losing the battle for liberty. You speak with contempt about the "sheeple" among whom you live, who are all too eager to "trade their birthright for a mess of pottage." You're wrong. In terms of the intellectual climate, the culture, the prevailing values and beliefs, we've made tremendous progress in the last 40 years.

No, we're not yet on the verge of a libertarian nirvana or a shining city on the hill. But we're not descending into darkness, either. Things have changed, and they've mostly changed for the better.

Except for in a few primitive backwaters and on college campuses, the superiority of "free minds and free markets" is almost universally acknowledged (even if grudgingly, by some). 

And the most radical leftist in my lifetime to be a major-party presidential candidate, the man who in 1972 advocated essentially democratic socialism and a cradle-to-grave welfare state, is today arguing for economic liberty and freedom of choice in a column entitled "Freedom Means Responsibility."

I think that's just way, way cool. Thanks, George! And cheer up, my friends — we're winning the war of ideas, and the future is bright!

(This message brought to you by Denver's most Pollyanna-ish curmudgeon — or curmudgeonly Pollyanna. Something like that. A tip of the hat to Rick Sincere, who had some good comments of his own.) 

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2007’s wackiest warning labels

Posted by Richard on December 14, 2007

Speaking of year-end best and worst lists, Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (M-LAW) has announced the winners of the 11th annual Wacky Warning Label Contest. The first place winner submitted a tractor label that warns "Danger: Avoid Death."

Personally, I like the runner-up, a Shrek iron-on T-shirt transfer that cautions "Do not iron while wearing shirt." See it and the other winners here.

The wacky folks who hang out at Fark posted some wacky warnings of their own (some real, others Photoshopped). And if you're not reading my blog regularly, you may have missed the wacky German biting trout warning.


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SCHIP override fails, BDS worsens

Posted by Richard on October 18, 2007

The House this morning failed to override the President's veto of a Democratic bill mandating a massive 140% expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) — which, despite the name, is a federally-funded program that covers many adults (adults are the majority in some states), and despite the tear-jerking tales of poverty and need, has replaced private insurance for many families with incomes of $60,000, $70,000, or more.

But before the vote, Rep. Pete Stark exhibited yet more serious symptoms of Bush Derangement Syndrome (Michelle Malkin has a video clip), which is becoming increasingly virulent and appears to be completely resistant to treatment (emphasis added):

A longtime war critic, Stark said the president couldn't find $35 billion to expand SCHIP but at the same time had requested an extra $200 billion to pay for military operations in Iraq.

"Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war? You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old, enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement," Stark said.

"President Bush's statements about children's health shouldn't be taken any more seriously than his lies about the war in Iraq. The truth is that Bush just likes to blow things up in Iraq, in the United States, and in Congress. I urge my colleagues to vote to override his veto," he continued.

The President, meanwhile, despite six years of evidence to the contrary, still clung to his childlike faith that if he just showed enough compassion by throwing money at Democratic causes, people like Pete Stark would grow to like him. Bush originally proposed "only" a 20% expansion of the SCHIP program, which led to accusations of child murder. Now, he says he's ready to negotiate a "compromise" bill with the Democrats. I suppose that means expanding the program somewhere between 20% and 140%. 

Given today's muddled moral and intellectual climate, I suppose it's fruitless to insist that a State Children's Health Insurance Program, if it must exist, ought to exist — and be funded — at the state level.

But the President just won the initial fight over SCHIP, despite a huge, multi-million-dollar advertising and PR campaign by Democrats and their supporters. If he had any cojones or commitment to the principles of fiscal responsibility and limited government that his party supposedly represents, he'd counter-offer with a bill cutting funding by 20% and limiting coverage to children only, and to households in the bottom two quintiles of household income (lower and lower middle classes). Or at least the bottom half of household income — jeez, that's not exactly harsh!

If you own a $300,000 home, commercial property, a Volvo SUV, a Suburban, and an F250 pickup, you should have been buying your own damn insurance. 

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The real goal of SCHIP

Posted by Richard on October 5, 2007

About six years late, President Bush finally vetoed a bloated spending bill — the massive 140% expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) passed by the Democrats (Bush had proposed "only" a 20% expansion). As you might expect, there were plenty of Republican senators who voted with the Dems — enough to override the veto. But on the House side, it fell a couple of dozen votes short of a veto-proof majority, so Dems are mounting a major effort to swing more squishy Republicans, with my congresscritter, Dianne DeGette, leading the way

It's a particularly egregious fraud of a program, promoted as helping poor sick children (who doesn't want to help poor sick children?). But the "children" are up to 25 years old and not very poor — and the majority were already insured (emphasis added):

Under SCHIP, the taxpayers fund health coverage for children in families of four earning as much as $72,000 per year, though not all eligible families enroll. Democrats in Congress want to open the program to families of four earning $83,000 per year or more. President Bush is OK with expanding SCHIP to cover well-off families – but only if the states enroll 95 percent of those lower-income children first.

Yet SCHIP is senseless. Like its much larger sibling, Medicaid, the program forces taxpayers to send their money to Washington so that Congress can send it back to state governments with strings attached. Both programs force taxpayers to subsidize people who don't need help, discourage low-income families from climbing the economic ladder – and make private insurance more expensive for everyone else.

SCHIP casts a much wider net than suggested by its stated purpose – namely, providing coverage to children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid (which ostensibly serves only the poor) but still can't afford private insurance. According to a study in the journal Inquiry, 60 percent of children eligible for SCHIP already had private coverage when the program was created.

Inevitably, many families simply substitute SCHIP for private coverage. Economists Jonathan Gruber of MIT and Kosali Simon of Cornell University find that, in effect, when government expands eligibility for SCHIP and Medicaid, six out of every 10 people added to the rolls already have private coverage. Only four in 10 were previously uninsured.

The financing of this massive 140% expansion is also egregious. First, the proponents are, in the time-honored tradition of all entitlement expansions, grossly underestimating the long-term costs. Second, they claim that they're "paying for it" with a 156% increase in the cigarette tax, but:

… according to the free-market Cato Institute, even that won't be enough. Americans have been slowly kicking the cigarette habit in recent decades. But to fund SCHIP at its expected expenditure levels in 2020 would require some 22 million new smokers.

Of course, there won't be 22 million new smokers. That means a rise in general taxes — not on smokers, but on you.

This is what the Democrats have mastered: creating a phony need, then proposing a tax on someone unpopular to fix it. When taxes don't come in as expected, they raise taxes on everyone.

It should be noted that SCHIP was initially enacted in 1997 with lots of Republican support (there are always plenty of Republicans eager to demonstrate how compassionate they are in the vain hope that liberals will like them more). And you have to marvel at the folks in Washington of both parties, who see no problem with enacting a State Children's Health Insurance Program at the federal level. 

But the SCHIP program was a Democratic idea, and according to a recent Politico article, specifically a Clinton staff idea with a hidden long-term goal (emphasis added):

Back in 1993, according to an internal White House staff memo, then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's staff saw federal coverage of children as a "precursor" to universal coverage.

In a section of the memo titled "Kids First," Clinton's staff laid out backup plans in the event the universal coverage idea failed.

And one of the key options was creating a state-run health plan for children who didn't qualify for Medicaid but were uninsured.

That idea sounds a lot like the current State Children's Health Insurance Program, which was eventually created by the Republican Congress in 1997.

"Under this approach, health care reform is phased in by population, beginning with children," the memo says. "Kids First is really a precursor to the new system. It is intended to be freestanding and administratively simple, with states given broad flexibility in its design so that it can be easily folded into existing/future program structures."

The Clintonistas, already salivating at the prospect of returning to the White House in January 2009, are no doubt also already planning those "future program structures" for health care. A big expansion of SCHIP now would be helpful when it's time for the next phase. Plus, it would further weaken the Republican Party's tattered remnants of a principled opposition to complete government control of health care.

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