Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cruising the Web

Well, that first game was extremely depressing. Ugh!

However, I stayed up late to watch San Antonio totally embarrass Golden State at Golden State. If you add the end of last season to this, GSW has now lost four in a row. That game was a joy to watch. Who would think that, on the night of KD's opening game with GSW, that the talk and highlights afterwards would be about Jonathan Simmons who played lights out and had a LeBronesque block of Curry? Can we hold the playoffs now?

If the Republicans hadn't chosen such a terrible candidate, the real October surprise wouldn't be his abuse of women, but the stories we're learning every day from WikiLeaks and now the report on the disaster that is Obamacare. And the story on Obamacare worsens every day. Kevin Williamson reminds us of how fantastical the program always was.
The Democrats promised something very unlikely: That we’d provide more health-care coverage for more people and spend less money doing it — and that the typical annual health-insurance premium for an American family would decline substantially, by an average of $2,500 a year. The opposite is happening: Premium prices have gone up, and they are expected to go up by 25 percent in the coming year. That’s an average of 25 percent: Some places will see much steeper increases.

Is there another product you use the price of which increases at that rate, or anything like that rate?

The terrifying fact is that the architects of Obamacare thought they could brazen their way through this, that they were so smart that they could tell you rubes whatever it was you needed to hear to get the bill passed and then just fly by the seat of their pants, fixing everything on the fly in a grand display of enlightened technocratic adhocracy.

Oops.
Williamson returns to the basics of economics to explain yet again how this law was designed to stifle productivity.
This all goes back to fundamentals: What drives down prices is abundance. Abundance comes from productivity. Productivity comes from investment. Investment requires stable market conditions for investors, entrepreneurs, workers, and firms to execute medium- and long-term plans. If you were the manager of a large investment fund, how much money would you put into a medical-devices startup, not knowing what the tax or regulatory environment is going to look like the day after tomorrow — or what the larger health-care ecosystem is going to look like in a year or two? If you were a top-performing student with a knack for science, why on Earth would you go to medical school when you could go make four times the money as an intellectual-property lawyer, six times the money on Wall Street, or, with a little luck, forty times the money in Silicon Valley? Given the current Democratic appetite for price controls and regulatory aggression, how much of your own money would you invest in an experimental pharmaceutical? If you were a top-performing manager being courted by a hospital consortium and a technology company, why would you go to work for the hospitals?

Obamacare was intended, in theory, to enhance competition. The Democrats were never quite clear on how that was going to work, but that’s what they said. In Philadelphia, the nation’s fifth-largest city, those shopping for health insurance have a grand total of two insurers to choose from. Until recently, the state of Pennsylvania had 13 insurers; today, it has eight.

It is worth keeping in mind that the people who brought you Obamacare want to apply the same model across the commanding heights of the U.S. economy.

As the WSJ writes, if there is any electoral justice, Democrats should continue to pay for ramming through this disaster.
The public is witnessing—and the unlucky are experiencing—the collapse of one progressive promise after another.

At every stage of the ObamaCare saga, liberals said not to worry. Sure, the law was unpopular when Democrats rammed it through Congress on a partisan vote in 2009-10, but voters would learn to love it once the subsidies started rolling. That didn’t happen, and in 2014 President Obama tried to buck up Democrats by saying that “five years from now” people will look back on the law as “a monumental achievement.” Two years later it’s worse.

Nothing could shake the liberal faith in their supposed landmark: Not the Healthcare.gov website fiasco of 2013, or the millions of individual health plans that were cancelled despite President Obama’s promise about keeping them. The left kept the faith as the entitlement subtracted from economic growth, hurt incomes and killed jobs. MIT economist Jonathan Gruber called the critics stupid, and Mr. Obama denigrates anyone who disagrees with him as illegitimate or politically motivated.

Now reality is confirming what the critics predicted. ObamaCare’s regulatory mix—benefit mandates, requiring insurers to sell coverage to all comers, and narrow ratings bands that limit how much premiums can vary by health status—was tried by several states in the 1980s and ’90s. Every one saw the same results that are now unspooling nationally: high and rising costs, low and declining enrollment, and less insurer and provider competition.

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to solve these predictable disruptions with subsidies and a mandate to buy insurance or pay a penalty. But most people don’t think ObamaCare plans provide value for the money, especially if they are non-subsidized.
The Democrats argue that Republicans should just, basically, swallow their criticisms of the law, and yield to the greater wisdom of the Democrats to fix the system they broke in the first place.
The Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren left wants a new “public option,” higher subsidies, more price controls and even more intrusive regulatory control. Hillary Clinton has endorsed all of this.

“The Affordable Care Act has done what it was designed to do,” Mr. Obama declared last week in Miami, apparently meaning that the law has reduced the number of uninsured. But most of the coverage gains have come from dumping patients into Medicaid, a failing program that provides substandard care. Nominally private exchange plans increasingly resemble Medicaid too.
Every Democrat who voted for this mess should be made to suffer at the polls. That includes Indiana's Evan Bayh and Russ Feingold looking to return as Wisconsin's senator.

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Chris Jacobs explains that, while the Democrats can point to the exchanges, what they're not telling you is how bad the coverage is for people buying on the exchanges.
Even as it stands now, however, the exchanges are little more than Medicaid-like ghettoes, attracting a largely low-income population most worried about their monthly costs. To moderate premium spikes, insurers have done what Medicaid managed-care plans do: Narrow networks. Consultants at McKinsey note that three-quarters of exchange plans in 2017 will have no out-of-network coverage, except in emergency cases. And those provider networks themselves are incredibly narrow: one-third fewer specialists than the average employer plan, and hospital networks continuing to shrink.

In short, exchange coverage looks nothing like the employer plans that more affluent Americans have come to know and like. Case in point: At a briefing last month, I asked Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, what health insurance he purchased for himself. He responded that he was not covered on the exchange that he himself runs but instead obtained coverage through California’s state-employee plan. Which raises obvious questions: If Covered California’s offerings aren’t good enough to compel Lee to give up his state-employee plan, how good are they? Or, to put it another way, if exchange plans aren’t good enough for someone making a salary of $420,000 a year, why are they good enough for low-income enrollees?

Therein lies Obamacare’s problem — both a political dilemma and a policy one. Insurers who specialize in Medicaid managed-care plans using narrow networks have managed to eke out small profits amid other insurers’ massive exchange losses. As a result, other carriers have narrowed their product offerings, making Obamacare plans look more and more alike: narrow networks, tightly managed care — yet ever-rising premiums.

While restrictive HMOs with few provider choices may not dissuade heavily subsidized enrollees from signing up for exchange coverage, it likely will discourage more affluent customers. The exchanges need to increase their enrollment base. The combination of high premiums, tight provider networks, and deductibles so high as to render coverage all but useless will not help the exchanges attract the wealthier, and healthier, enrollees needed to create a stable risk pool. By reacting so sharply to its current customer base, insurers on exchanges could well alienate the base of potential customers they need to maintain their long-term viability. In that sense, Obamacare’s race to the bottom could become the exchanges’ undoing.

And there is worse to come.
Still ahead: Budget crises in the states that accepted temporary federal bribes to massively expand their Medicaid rolls. More premium hikes on the exchanges, as ever fewer healthy people sign up for coverage — prompting even lower enrollment, and more price hikes, in a sharp “death spiral.”

The “Cadillac tax” will kick in soon, too — so if your union has won great health coverage at the bargaining table, that plan will pay a penalty to Uncle Sam.

The legal challenges aren’t done yet, either.

Ah, I guess this explains Hillary Clinton.
Lying really does get easier the more you do it.

While telling an untruth might feel uncomfortable at first, your brain becomes desensitized to lies as the fibs start piling up, according to a study published in Nature Neuroscience.

Chris C. W. Cooke writes to give some encouragement to Republicans thinking that they're witnessing the end of their party.
As damaging as Donald Trump has been — and may continue to be after the election — the GOP has proven pretty resilient, all told. Currently, the Republican party is having serious trouble winning the White House — trouble that started with the normal swing of the pendulum, and that, this year at least, has been continued by the party’s penchant for self-destruction. But is that endemic, as the doom and gloom merchants insist? Possibly not, no. Indeed, if the GOP had chosen somebody good this year — anyone other than Trump, really — the landscape would now look very different indeed. Probably, the GOP would be winning. And then what would the headlines read? “Republican comeback,” mostly likely. Maybe even “Unified government.” Put a Kasich or a Walker or a Rubio at the top of the ticket this year and, of the last four elections, the GOP would have won half — two out of four. Is that what is meant by extinction?
I'm also cautiously optimistic. If Clinton wins, she'll be facing a world full of problems. Nothing is going to be easy and she'll be facing an increasingly gridlocked Congress. She is already unpopular so her ability to rally the country to help her pass policies that she will not have any mandate to pass. Sure, the Democrats will try to act that she got elected with a strong mandate, especially if she has a big win in the Electoral College. But her mandate was just to not be Donald Trump, not for her personally or anything she talked about in the campaign. I'm looking for their to be a backlash against Hillary in the Democrats in 2018 just like there was in in 1994 and 2010 and 2014.

American politics has long had a pendulum-like quality. Even after five straight victories by the Democrats from 1932 to 1948, that didn't mean the end of the Republican Party.

Fred Lucas, author of Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections gives an interesting look back on other presidential elections when people claimed that the election had been rigged. Any student of American history, including my students, could tell you about 1800, 1824, 1876, 1960, and 2000. I thought these details about 1960 were fascinating.
Earl Mazo, a Washington reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, began his investigation after he said Chicago reporters were “chastising” him and other national reporters for missing the real story.

He traveled to Chicago, obtained a list of voters in the suspicious precincts, and began matching names with addresses. Mazo told The Washington Post: “There was a cemetery where the names on the tombstones were registered and voted. I remember a house. It was completely gutted. There was nobody there. But there were 56 votes for [John F.] Kennedy in that house.”

Mazo also found that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s charge that other counties were doing the same thing in favor of Republicans proved to be true—but nothing on the scale of what happened in Chicago.

In Texas, Mazo found similar circumstances.

The New York Herald Tribune planned a 12-part series on the election fraud. Four of the stories had been published and were republished in newspapers across the country in mid-December.

At Richard Nixon’s request, Mazo met him at the vice president’s Senate office, where Nixon told him to back off, saying, “Our country cannot afford the agony of a constitutional crisis” in the midst of the Cold War.

Mazo didn’t back off and Nixon called his editors. The newspaper did not run the rest of the series. “I know I was terribly disappointed. I envisioned the Pulitzer Prize,” Mazo said. …

The entire matter wasn’t void of accountability.

Illinois state special prosecutor Morris Wexler, named to investigate charges of election fraud in Chicago, indicted 677 election officials, but couldn’t nail down convictions with state Judge John M. Karns.

It wasn’t until 1962 when an election worker confessed to witness tampering in Chicago’s 28th Ward that three precinct workers pleaded guilty and served jail sentences.

Pulitzer-winning journalist Seymour Hersh reported hearing tapes of FBI wiretaps about potential election fraud. Hersh—whose books indicate he is a fan of neither Kennedy nor Nixon—believed Nixon was the rightful winner.

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Dennis Prager speaks out on the videos in his PragerU program that had been restricted on YouTube. As he points out, the presenters of these lectures are totally unexceptional, diverse and respected group of people giving short talks on important and interesting topics. There is nothing racist or sexist or offensive about any of these videos. Yet they were restricted by YouTube. The only reason could be that these are conservative views.
Obviously, then, the explanation is not algorithms that catch violence and sex. Rather, Google/YouTube doesn’t want effective (each video has at least 1 million views) conservative videos. Does that mean that it has left-wing censors looking for every widely viewed conservative video? They don’t have to. Left-wing viewers simply “flag” our and others’ videos as inappropriate, and YouTube does the rest.

I have never devoted a column to PragerU. I have done so here because if YouTube gets away with censoring as big a website as PragerU — after a major editorial in the Wall Street Journal and coverage in the New York Post, Boston Globe, Fortune, National Review, and many other places, and a petition signed by over 70,000 people (the petition is at prageru.com) — what will happen to other conservative institutions?

For the probable answer, see your local university.

The question, then, is this: Will Google and YouTube do to the Internet what the Left has done to the university?
It's a scary thought. And we won't really know what's going on until it's too late.

1 comment:

Gallifreakin said...

If Nixon had won in 1960...
No Cuban Missile Crisis, because the Soviets probably had more respect for Nixon.
Would we have beat the Commies to the moon?
A non paranoid bitter Nixon fights communism in SE Asia without limits, South Vietnam free at end of his two terms.
Rockefeller wins, promising to continue strong America with social net to protect underclass, but loses South.
Carter, revanchist Southerner with some racist tendencies defines Dems for a generation and R's continue winning for 16 years.