Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is constructive change possible?

I think so -- but let me share with you a correspondence I had with a friend of mine last night, who will only be identified as Q. I'll call myself A:

Q: Do you think that participation in the system as it exists now is necessary to bring about peaceful secession, or can it be achieved without direct participation?

A: I suppose peaceful secession would be possible without direct participation in the system -- especially in a revolutionary situation in which the federal government bared its teeth against the states or the people -- but I have difficulty picturing how it would work, because our fellow Ohioans are so attached to the rule of law that they would not be likely to accept a change by any other means.The beauty of peaceful secession within the system is that it is achieved through the rule of law. A government thus instituted will immediately be accepted many nations (other then the rump USA and others under its thumb) as legitimate.

I also think it would be easier to pull off. Granted, right now -- especially given the response of many of our friends to Glenn Beck's rally, during which my stomach did flip-flops, it seems unlikely and to many, hopeless. But my experience agrees with Rush Limbaugh (Aug. 5) that secessionism isn't the "rantings of extreme kookism" anymore.

Ohio historically has been one of the most pro-Lincoln unionist of states, but my personal encounters with people suggest a rapidly growing acceptance of secession (especially if attempted gradually after a few nullifications of federal law). Ohioans today are less likely to be hostile to secession in principle than convinced that it will not work, or that it will result in an extremely violent federal backlash. If a poll were taken today, I think 20-25% of Ohioans would be open to secession, nearly double what I estimated from a Zogby poll two years ago.

One of the problems with promoting new ideas in this state is that people are likely to say that they won't work before they consider the idea's merits. Ohio [is] a tough environment for an intellectual.

Q: Personally, I'm having trouble finding a reason to participate directly (elections, etc.) these days. Almost as if it gives "them" credence, if you know what I mean. And so many are so blind. Things really shake them to their core and they hold on to false truths so tightly. I was there once, but libertarianism came so much easier to me I think. I'm not sure why, but I feel like I wasn't nearly as thoroughly brainwashed as many I encounter these days... or they're genuinely just so diametrically opposed as to be hopeless... I haven't decided.

A: Libertarians are still in the wilderness. While it seems to be an obvious answer for people like us, a lot of people perceive the Libertarians to be wild anarchists. In my opinion (and I've talked about this with Ken Matesz*), there are shades of Libertarian just as there are shades with everything else. The "conservative" Libertarian (I'm calling myself one of those) is one who believes that some government is necessary at all levels; but with very little federal government, a little more state -- or even better, a weak national government in the State of Ohio -- and all the local government the people want (I call this decentralism).To more directly address your concern:

If I were not a classified state employee**, I would be working on [a Libertarian] campaign for State Senate. His district appears in polls to be nearly evenly divided between the R and the D (there is no incumbent running), and he has an outside shot of winning with, say, 38% of the vote. I think we all need to be involved in the system, but we must have the courage to actively support and build up the Libertarian (or if that is too extreme for you, the Constitution) Party as (1) a viable alternative to the "two evils", and (2) a base on which the secessionist movement will grow when the time comes (and I am confident that it is coming soon -- within two years). In the meantime, we need to prepare our fellow Ohioans for accepting the actions that will be needed to restore liberty.


Now, I half expect a frequent commenter to this blog to come in with his Constitutional arguments as to why it is impossible for a state to secede. However, he has yet to satisfactorily answer this question of mine:

When can we come to the conclusion that the federal government is fouled up beyond all repair; and when we reach that conclusion, what can we do about it?

His answer, in essence, is to apply the Article V amendment process -- one that we have shown to be dangerous to liberty, and one which the current power élites are likely to respect about as much as they do the rest of the U.S. Constitution.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Constitution. It was divinely inspired, and if followed, would effectively protect our freedoms. But the revolution will come when the people realize that in the last ten years it has become a dead letter.

* Libertarian candidate for Governor.
** Who is barred from partisan political activity by section 124.57 of the Ohio Revised Code. In this post, my toes are probably touching the line marking non-compliance, but as I understand the letter of the law, I am not crossing it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Zack Space should be getting heartburn about now

... with this third-party ad that is appearing in his district. One thing it should do effectively is to make Joe Dinnerbucket think long and hard before voting knee-jerk Democratic in his (and John Boccieri's) Congressional race.

As Capitol Confidential at BigGovernment.com points out:

The ad reminds voters of the issues at stake — the budget, securing our borders, reckless growth of government and the cost of the Cap and Tax bill – and in Ohio Cap and Tax is a huge liability. Ohio is already experiencing some of the highest unemployment rates in the country (10.4%) and Cap and Tax would send upwards of 100,000 Ohio jobs overseas. The bill would damage the state so much that even the State Senate has gone on record opposing the bill.
Ohio has waited thirty years for an economic recovery -- but as I pointed out last Thursday, jobs are not the answer. Small business opportunity (entrepreneurship) is.

Why liberals resort to namecalling

Charles Krauthammer at the Washington Post has written a neat summation of what we all know, but which the mainstream media refuse to acknowledge. The left tries to "marginalize" the American people because they can no longer use reason to back their arguments.
... Promiscuous charges of bigotry [example] are precisely how our current rulers react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.
  • Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.
  • Disgust with the federal government’s unwillingness to curb illegal immigration? Nativism.
  • Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.
  • Opposition to a 15-story Islamic center and mosque near ground zero? Islamophobia.

Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. Majorities oppose Obama’s social-democratic agenda, support the Arizona law, oppose gay marriage and reject a ground-zero mosque...

It is a measure of the corruption of liberal thought and the collapse of its self-confidence that, finding itself so widely repudiated, it resorts reflexively to the cheapest race-baiting (in a colorful variety of forms).

Indeed, how can one reason with a nation of pitchfork-wielding mobs brimming with “antipathy toward people who aren’t like them,” a nation that is, as Michelle Obama once put it succinctly, “just downright mean”?

The Democrats are going to get beaten badly in November. Not just because the economy is ailing. And not just because Obama overread his mandate in governing too far left. But because a comeuppance is due the arrogant elites whose undisguised contempt for the great unwashed prevents them from conceding a modicum of serious thought to those who dare oppose them.

But don't start counting the chickens yet. The likely beneficiary of this revolt will be mainstream Republicans -- the same people we were so eager to get rid of just two years ago.

What we need is a revolution, a peaceful one if at all possible; but one which restores rule to the people of the several states, as our Founding Fathers envisioned. Merely switching from one élite party to the other isn't going to cut it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Free market may kill "cap and trade" before it starts

From 21st Century Wire, via The Liberty Voice:

Plagued by a free fall in carbon emissions prices and the perennial failure of Washington to pass any binding Cap and Trade Bill, it seems that the Chicago Climate Exchange is on its last leg, announcing that it will be scaling back its operations.

Chicago Climate Exchange or CCX, is North America’s sole voluntary, legally binding greenhouse gas trading and carbon “offset” projects in North America and Brazil. Reuters reported on Aug 11th that Intercontinental Exchange Inc, the operating body for the CCX, will be scaling back major operations this month, a move that includes massive layoffs. This is likely due to the complete market free-fall of their only product… carbon emissions.

Anthony Watts from the climate watchdog website Watts Up With That posts a graph from the CCX which shows carbon prices dropping like a stone, bottoming out this week at the embarrassingly low figure of 10 cents per tonne. Compare this to trading prices during its brief heyday in May and June 2008 where market highs reached $5.85 and $7.40 respectively, and you can say that most investors will be evaluating carbon as one of today’s more worthless commodities [as any rational person would have pointed out in the first place].

Further down in the article, they get to the truth of the matter:

Like all government rigged quasi-commercial schemes, the only real beneficiaries are the initial shareholders- a special inner circle who are naturally ahead of the curve knowing about legislation and policy before it comes into existence. They are sometimes called the great and the good, the in-crowd, or the smartest men in the room (again, see Enron). Of these, almost all have jumped ship out of the market while their preferred shares- or in the case of the larger energy and manufacturing monopolies, their gratis “carbon allowances” given to them free by their governments- are still worth something. If you’re on the inside, it’s simple: get in early, make money and then get out.

Pointing out the obvious is always a painful thing in the world of human affairs. The real reason for the complete and total failure of the concept behind trading an atmospheric gas like CO2 is something few within the green block will dare to even mention now, and it’s the same reason why the whole movement will go down in history as one of the most
flamboyant efforts in the history of economics. It’s not just hubris. The whole idea behind making CO2 a commodity was to make it expensive and thus reduce the amount produced, which would (they hoped) reduce the effect of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming, or ‘climate change’ as it’s now commonly referred to.

There was only one massive problem with this equation- there has been no global warming since 1998. So despite the hundreds of millions, perhaps billions spent on research and computer models addressing this possibility, no scientist or body has been able to show that man’s CO2 contribution has had any effect on the global temperature. Another massive blind spot for climatists is their almost religious denial that the sun might have any effect on the earth’s climate (studies show that it does, of course)- a major sore spot in any debate on global warming.

So, there you have it. Another scam exposed. And like Humpty-Dumpty, "all the king's horses and all the king's men," after having gone to great lengths to make this rotten egg, still "could not put Humpty-Dumpty together again."

But it's not dead yet. There are rumors out of Washington that one of the reasons U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to hold a lame-duck session after the election is to pass a cap-and-trade bill while that Congress is not politically accountable. We need to be alert, to ensure that such a bill never passes.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck: You're still not getting it

I find much to like about Glenn Beck. I admire his willingness to witness for God on his program, his courage in connecting the dots of those who are trying to destroy our country, and his emphasis on the virtues of faith, hope, and charity.

With this in mind, I had great hopes when I began to listen to his 8-28 Restoring Honor rally in Washington, which is still going on as I write this. However, I had to turn it off. I was beginning to get sick.

For all of his commitment to liberty, and I believe that commitment is genuine, he has a blind spot. He still thinks that liberty and union are compatible goals at this point in our history. He still cannot distinguish between respect for the sacrifices of our military, and the fact that they are being used for evil purposes.

He wants us to return to God, while he and 300,000 other people are prostrating themselves at the altar of nationalism. The Biblical record is clear that God does not care about maintaining empires. He causes them to be built, and causes them to be destroyed, according to His purposes. That he has no use for blind nationalism should be clear from the fall of Israel and Judaea in the books of the Kings, and of Babylonia in the book of Daniel.

As to honor, isn't honor being faithful to your values, abroad as well as at home? Is it not respect for God, even to the point of understanding when God's will and the nation's are moving in opposite directions?

Oh, to be sure, I had some clues this was going to happen. I was disappointed when he chose the steps of Lincoln Memorial for the site of his rally; for he chooses to honor the man who, more than any other, began the process of destroying our Constitutional government. Then, when I heard that one of his featured speakers was going to be Sarah Palin, I knew that the message I had hoped to hear from him was going to be, at best, corrupted. I certainly am not alone in this assessment. Ron Paul argued essentially the same thing in the Foreign Policy website only yesterday. (Other concurring voices have arisen. See the updates at the end of this post.)

Please understand, I'm not totally naïve. I know there are times when we must protect our country from attack, and that we must be prepared to sacrifice lives to do it. In fact, we live in such a time right now. If ever we needed a military to defend our homeland from invasion, it is now -- in Arizona! But the policy of the feds is to sacrifice lives to protect oil and somehow reform very traditional Islamic societies in Iraq and Afghanistan -- not to provide for the national defense.

We must face up to the fact that terrorism, of which 9-11 was a symptom, is partially our fault. I am not defending Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, or the imam who wants to build the Islamic cultural center in New York. What they are doing is despicable, and they need to be neutralized. But al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and that imam would not have the support they do against us, if we had followed George Washington's wise counsel and minded our own business -- something we have not done since at least 1845, when we decided to poke into Mexico to pick up some additional territory.

We say we believe in liberty and justice, but what gives us the right to say that our ideas of liberty and justice are the only legitimate ones? The experience of Iraq and Afghanistan should serve as harsh reminders to us, that carrying out our ideas of liberty and justice require a mature understanding of the Western concept of the rule of law over men -- a maturity that neither society yet enjoys.

Can we really speak of honor when we persist in upholding a system that is broken beyond repair?

Where is honor when we talk about economic opportunity, then preserve the Federal Reserve Bank that steals from them by issuing funny money; when we pursue environmental policies on the basis of questionable science; or admits immigrants into this country with no expectation that they will speak our language and respect our laws and traditions?

These are the times that try men's souls, as Thomas Paine once wrote. Glenn, that includes you. Prayerfully consider the possibility that we live in a time when united we fall, divided we stand. It's not conventional wisdom, and it certainly was not what we learned in school. But in a world that is being increasingly oppressed by multinational corporations and overcentralized governments, it may very well be the truth.

Update 8/28: Chuck Baldwin also appears to agree with me when he writes that we need a revolution, not a movement. Here are two brief excerpts:

The American people need to wake up to this [truth]: a “conservative” movement–even a conservative Tea Party movement–will not save us. The only thing that will save us is an old-fashioned State revolt... As long as freedom lovers are content to remain satisfied with the status quo by allowing party politics and media celebrities to dominate their efforts, there will be no stopping this socialist avalanche that is crashing down upon us.

The Tea Party movement of 2010 (if left free of Big-Government neocons) could certainly translate into positive developments this November; that is for sure. A revival of the “Ron Paul Revolution” in 2012 could also make a significant contribution, but it is
going to take a State revolution to seal the deal. I, for one, am ready.

Update 8/29: Concurring opinions from several young men at Free South Carolina (video). Great quotes: "Managed dissent is not dissent." "The United States very cleverly learned from these other totalitarian and repressive societies: As long as there are these little outlets for people's tension and exasperation. The vast majority of them will be content to express their dissent this way. Ultimately, it is not dissent. It is peaceful, it is non-meaningful, it is non-change inducing."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More reasons why the GOP is no answer

Some readers might wonder why I have been so hard on the Republicans lately (recent examples 1, 2, and 3). It certainly isn't because I like the Democrats! If we are to regain our freedom, lower taxes, and maintain a sustainable economy that benefits all of us, we have to change our thinking. It's not about just R and D anymore. We have to think outside the box and look at other possibilities (such as my L or our friends' C).

Here is why we need to do so, from Rebecca Sink-Burris, a Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate from neighboring Indiana. While I think her race for U.S. Senate is a waste of time (not because she is Libertarian, but because she is running for U.S. Senate), her message is clear and needs to be broadcast to the general public.

Remember: the lesser of two evils is still evil.

Virtual buckeye to Jeremiah Arn via Facebook.


Anyone who has followed Ohio politics for more than 25 years or so finds it difficult to hear the word "jobs" in political discourse without thinking of James A. Rhodes (left) who dominated Ohio politics during his sixteen years as Governor (1963-1971, 1975-1983). He was a man obsessed with the idea that every Ohioan should have a decent job. The accomplishments for which he is most remembered are the expansion of vocational and technical high schools, and the creation of a system of community colleges, both of which continue to prepare young (and often, not so young) Ohioans for the workplace.

As everyone knows, Ohio has been dragged out from the industrial era kicking and screaming -- and almost 30 years after Youngstown Sheet went down the tubes, Ohio politicians are still kicking and screaming; so when John Kasich (right) "welcomes" the thought that he is a "reincarnated Jim Rhodes", he is strikng a nerve for many Ohioans.*

Ohio desperately needs a paradigm shift.

Most of us realize, at least instinctively, that our service-based economy is not going to last much longer. The currency is going to hyperinflate, goods from abroad will become unaffordable due to high oil costs (and the depreciated dollar), and multinational corporations aren't going to make their bucks off the American consumer, because the American consumer isn't going to have the money to spend.

"Jobs" are of vital importance only in an industrial economy, where large corporations employ 30-40% of the workforce. In the economy we had two hundred years ago, toward which I believe we are returning, having a "job" conveyed a very different meaning.

Two hundred years ago, a job was something a slave had; or a man who was too poor, timid, or unintelligent to run his own business. Those who were poor, but ambitious, saved their wages to buy the tools they needed to get out on their own as soon as they could.

Everyone else ran a farm, a store or local bank, or made something -- bread, tools, wagons, barrels, whatever. Enterprise was free because no one was large enough or powerful enough to corrupt the system. Competition was brutal, but you had control of your own destiny, and learned to adapt your business to the market -- or if you failed, you looked for a job.

It is not the function of the state to create jobs. It is the function of the state to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to compete on a level playing field, by ensuring that every child has the opportunity to get a useful education, by protecting the sanctity of contracts, and by protecting our property from force and fraud.

If the state wants to strengthen the Ohio economy, it would secede to get out from under the federal tax burden; then reduce taxes and entitlements to a point where it becomes profitable for ordinary people to go into business for themselves. It can review banking regulations to remove any barriers to lending to small business.

But what the state should not do is to continue our feckless search for industrial jobs, which, by now we should know will never return.

It's time to move on, Ohio, and neither Mr. Kasich nor Gov. Strickland seem to have the foggiest idea how to do it. We do have an alternative. Consider Ken Matesz (Libertarian) for governor who appears to be on the right track.

One thing is clear, Ohio will not recover until Ohioans change the way they think about politics and the economy.

* I agree with Joe Hallett at the Columbus Dispatch that the comparison is inaccurate, if for no other reason than that Gov. Rhodes did not have Mr. Kasich's conservative ideology, but the point of this post is to discuss what Mr. Kasich wants the voters to believe.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Republican buzz alert!

In the wake of yesterday's sound and fury, we now have Mr. Kasich announcing his second major policy initiative, "regulatory reform." The blurb introducing the story in today's Hannah Report (it was e-mailed -- no link available) reads:
Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich promised what he called "common sense" regulatory reform during a press conference outlining his campaign's second major initiative.

And this means, what... ? Shuffling some organizational charts, maybe?

The only meaningful "regulatory reform" will come when the powers of government are significantly reduced -- at the state as well as at the federal level.

I don't think Mr. Kasich has that any more on his mind than Gov. Strickland does.

If he really wants to do something constructive, he will give us a realistic plan for eliminating the $8 billion budget deficit -- which necessarily will involve a major reduction in the size of state government (assuming that he does not want to raise state taxes to confiscatory levels -- something that usually does not sit well with the GOP).

Further evidence that Congress is irrelevant

If you're the Department of Homeland [In]Security, and Congress isn't passing the illegal alien amnesty act that your boss favors --- well, just ignore Congress and it'll go away...

I'm not kidding. the Houston Chronicle reported yesterday that DHS is in the midst of dismissing large numbers of deportation cases, because the illegal immigrants in question "have no serious criminal records."

Let me see if I understand this. "Illegal immigration" is not a crime, but illegal means "not according to or authorized by law" and crime means "a gross violation of law."

I guess I'm just having trouble getting the hang of this doublethink thing.

Virtual buckeye to Old Rebel at Rebellion.

Inflation, simplified

This is the clearest explanation I have heard of what taking the dollar off the gold standard (thanks to the Federal Reserve Bank) has done to the value of our money:

In 1933, Americans were paid $20.67 for each ounce of gold they surrendered. If they had simply lost one of those ounces behind the sofa, today they could exchange it for over $1,200. But if they had taken that $20.67 and misplaced it until today, that amount of money would only buy what a mere $1.32 would have bought them the day they turned in their gold.

Virtual buckeyes to Tammy Bertram and Teri Cain Owens, via Facebook.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sound and fury, signifying nothing

The Plain Dealer reports that Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester and minority leader) demanded at Cleveland City Club today that President Obama fire his entire economic team.

And this would accomplish what...?

He would just have to replace it with another gang of Wall Street stooges who would do basically the same thing, so I'm not getting the point, other than that Rep. Boehner hopes to pick up a little support for Republican candidates.

If he really wanted to do something constructive, he'd call for abolishing the Federal Reserve Bank.

Ron Paul: "We can't even maintain the zinc standard"

The U.S. Mint is finding even the cheapened cents and nickels too expensive to produce, observes Congressman Paul in his Facebook site, citing an article by Rocky Vega in The Daily Reckoning.

As far as I am concerned they can quit minting both anytime -- rounding up to the next dime isn't going to break anyone these days.

More importantly, it reminds us that a hyperinflation is coming, and to keep building up our stocks of gold and silver. (You can buy a 1964 Kennedy half dollar, which is 90% silver and is quite common, for about $7).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Effect of third-party candidates unpredictable

There has been a great deal of talk about how votes for Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates will influence Ohio's elections, particularly for House of Representatives. The conventional wisdom seems to be that both the Libertarians and the Constitutionalists appeal principally to conservative voters; therefore, votes for those two parties will help the Democrats.

However, as Gongwer pointed out last Friday, the Libertarians do not fit so simply into the conservative mold, since the party also favors same-sex marriage* and legalization of drugs -- both positions that are traditionally associated with Democrats. The Libertarians are fielding 23 House candidates this year. According to Gongwer, about half are in districts closely contested between the major party candidates.

The mainstream media, as usual, are not taking third-party candidates seriously; but in an election year where voters are clearly disenchanted with both major parties, maybe they should. Keep in mind that in multi-party elections, something with which the United States has very little experience, the dynamics change. A strong Libertarian candidate in a closely contested race could win with 35-40% of the vote! A few Libertarian State Representatives could have enormous influence in a chamber in which neither the Republicans nor the Democrats had a majority. (Of course, the same is true of the Ohio Senate, but it seems unlikely that the Republican Party will lose its majority there).

Virtual buckeye to the Ohio Libertarian Party, via Facebook.

* I disagree with the Libertarian Party on this point.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The mosque in New York

It is clearly evident that the imam who wants to build an Islamic cultural center 600 feet from 9-11 Ground Zero has stirred up a hornet's nest. The fallout suggests to me that too many people are not thinking, just emoting.

This is an excellent object lesson in the limitations of government in a free society. Many commentators have suggested that the historical preservation commission should use the zoning or historical preservation laws to keep the mosque out. Assuming that the New York commission was following its standard architectural guidelines, what the commentators are asking for is an abuse of authority. Don't we suffer enough of that already? A government using (or abusing) the law against a religious organization puts at risk our First Amendment freedom of religion -- not just for Muslims, but for everyone else as well. Whenever a church, synagogue, or mosque does something that people don't like, the one thing we don't want to do is to just bring government in to suppress it.

However, I don't mean to suggest that nothing can be done. What the imam wants to do is repugnant to the character of this country. It deeply offends the family, friends, and coworkers of those who died on 9-11. Every opinion leader in New York* should be making that clear to him, ad nauseam and beyond. If he is unshaken, try bribery with private funds. If he'll move it to Brooklyn (where most of New York's Muslims live), we'll make it easy for him to build -- there.

If that fails, a little civil disobedience might be in order. The construction companies and their unions could make it hard to find a builder. I'm sure most New Yorkers would cooperate to make it hard for the imam to do business of any kind. Protesters near the front door could get quite annoying, especially if the protests run over a long period of time.

I would also suggest to the imam that it might be difficult to protect his building from arson and vandalism. (Note, I am not suggesting that anyone commit arson or vandalism -- just stating the fact that enough people are sufficiently angry about the mosque's location to consider committing one of those crimes, and that such offenses can be hard to prosecute).

Social pressure is a potent weapon that we have allowed to rust in recent years. New Yorkers could use it very effectively to check the imam's ambition, while effectively guaranteeing the freedom of Muslims to worship -- just not in lower Manhattan.

One more thing. That imam needs to be closely watched. The moment he commits sedition -- that is, advocating the overthrow of the government by force or other unconstitutional means -- he will be tried in a court of law. Freedom of religion should not be a defense for attempting to destroy the legal system that makes it possible.

* This is a local issue. President Obama should not have commented on it; but if he felt he had to use the "bully pulpit" on this issue, he should shown more sympathy for the protesters.

Watch the jobs vanish

Check out this map from americanobserver.net. Watch Ohio go from multicolor to almost solid black (over 10% unemployment) in just 3 years.

Notice which areas still have the least unemployment -- North Dakota (in my opinion, because of its state bank) and the D.C. area.

When the D.C. area turns black, the rest of us will start showing brighter colors.

Virtual buckeye to Rebellion.

Obamacare will benefit big insurers

Investor's Business Daily reports that regulations being developed to support the national health care plan will have the effect of decreasing competition and increasing costs.

Starting in 2011, insurers serving the individual or small-group market — i.e., companies with 100 employees or less — must have MLRs of at least 80%. For large groups, it's 85%. Violate those minimums and an insurer must rebate the difference to policyholders.
An MLR is "medical loss ratio", or the percentage of health premiums used to pay medical costs. The difference is used to pay administrative costs and advertising. While at first this might seem like a reasonable regulation, it is one that can be met only by a few of the largest insurance companies. The effect of the regulations will be to drive smaller (but often more innovative) companies out of the health care business.

"What we need is lots of creativity and innovation in payment processes and new ways of managing care," said James Capretta, fellow at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. "Instead, what we're getting is a regulatory process that is ratcheting down on creativity and innovation in a way that is dangerous."

The Department of Health and Human Services has asked the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the organization representing state insurance officials, to study MLR guidelines used by the states. Interestingly, Ohio (according to the article) sets an MLR of 80% for health insurers in all markets -- which might explain why so many Ohioans are unhappy with their health insurance.

If these regulations are implemented, it appears likely that things will get worse; but then, it only supports a pattern we have seen for some time: big government supports big business at the expense of the taxpayers.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Think Ohio couldn't make it on its own? Think again.

Kirkpatrick Sale (left) has extensively studied the size (both land area and population) of nations and their relative effectiveness -- economically, politically, and in their ability to maintain the literacy and freedom of their peoples.

His conclusion: Ohio (land area 40,000 sqare miles, population 11.5 million) is a bit on the large side. Of the 223 independent political entities in the world, Prof. Sale finds* that 58% are smaller than Switzerland (which, at 7.7 million is much smaller than Ohio). And 85 of the 223 have an area less than 10,000 square miles -- one-quarter that of Ohio.

He has summarized his findings into Sale's Law: "Economic and social misery increasers in direct proportion to the size and power of the central government of a nation." He backs this up with a brief review of four periods of world history when governments radically centralized -- the most recent being 1910-1970. Accompanying those periods were the most devastating wars, the most severe depressions, and the highest inflations in modern history.

The entire article is very interesting, and may be found in Truth to Power, to which a virtual buckeye is due.

The biggest barrier to freedom and independence is the one that resides between our ears.

* Using a Wikipedia ranking based on United Nations population statistics.

Friday, August 13, 2010

President Obama to raise money for Gov. Strickland Aug. 18

Laura Bischoff at the Dayton Daily News reports that the President will be at the Columbus Athenaeum for lunch Aug. 18. Tickets will cost $500 per person -- $2,000 for "priority seating."

At a time when Democratic politicians all over America are distancing themselves from the President, our Governor chooses to embrace him!

That should say something about where Gov. Strickland's loyalty lies.

What we really need is a good protest like the one they had in Texas on Monday.

Ohioans still losing homes to mortgage bankers

... which, after all, is the meaning of "foreclosure."

According to Business First in Columbus, home foreclosures in Ohio during July increased 27% from June, and 23% from July 2009. There has been one foreclosure filing for every 376 households. Ohio was ranked the 11th worst in the nation for July foreclosures.

I suppose we should be grateful that we dropped out of the top ten, but the statistics still reflect an awful lot of human misery.

Don't mess with Texas

A crowd demonstrated in Austin, Texas on Monday in 104-degree heat, and the mainstream media can't be bothered. Not only did they demonstrate, as displayed below (and reported in Human Events); but their Governor Rick Perry reportedly got an icy reception from Emperor President Obama when he wanted to hand him a letter requesting additional federal help in protecting the southern border from drug cartels and gangs. Democratic politicians in Texas have become allergic to the President.

While most of the speakers were candidates running for state and local office as Republicans, the rally itself had a Tea Party flavor to it, albeit with a Texas twist.

Attendees carried signs with anti-Obama and anti-government messages, similar to Tea Party slogans:

• Rejecting Socialism is Patriotism
• I Love My Country, I Fear My Government
• Free Markets, Not Freeloaders.
• Sounds Like Marx, Acts Like Stalin, Must Be Obama

The Tea Party favorite “Don’t Tread on Me” flags were joined by the Texan “Come and Take It” rallying cry from their War of Independence against Mexico.

And there were plenty of signs that said “Hands Off Texas,” “Don’t Mess with Texas,” and “Secede.” [!]

This led Old Rebel at Rebellion to observe:

Readers send me emails asking if I think secession from the immoral empire will happen within our lifetimes. These days, it looks like it could be within a few months.

I don't think it will happen quite that soon. Keep in mind that, at the present time, no state is prepared to secede. None have an active state militia and none have developed an alternative currency; but the pressure is building. Americans have had enough of federal arrogance, and will soon be ready to throw it off.

Ohio will not secede on its own, but once the collapse begins, we will join most of the rest in finding our way out. I expect this to occur within the next two years.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Tea Parties' dilemma

Does a grass-roots organization need to raise money? Or can it even survive if it doesn't? This is the question facing many Tea Party movements as they grapple with the fact that "money is the mother's milk of politics." * Here's what Kenneth B. Vogel writes in politico.com.
Many tea party organizations have shied away from the heavy-handed solicitations that flood the e-mail boxes of political activists. And the handful of tea party groups that have raised substantial amounts, either by embracing aggressive fundraising or through pre-existing connections to wealthy donors, are viewed suspiciously within the movement.

Local groups have been left to literally pass hats seeking donations at their meetings or rely on their organizers’ bank accounts, while some national groups have failed to live up to their bold fundraising predictions.

“I don’t blame them, since most of these people are so new to the process, and they don’t know anything beyond the protests, but at the end of the day, the energy and the passion will only take you so far,” said Ned Ryun, president of American Majority, a nonprofit group that teaches grass-roots conservative activists how to influence the political process. “Without money, nothing quite works like it could.”

The Tea Parties themselves need money less than do the candidates they favor. It runs against the grain of libertarianism to funnel money to a Tea Party, which then distributes it to candidates the group collectively favors, but which an individual may not.

Tea Parties need to steer members into the campaigns of those it likes, some of whom will do fundraising for those candidates. It does not have to be a corrupt bargain, as long as the candidates and the donors have a natural community of interest. But to completely ignore this reality will cause the Tea Parties to become nothing more than a "flash in the pan."

Virtual buckeye to Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State Charlie Earl (in Facebook).

* California politician Jesse Unruh said this in 1966.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Secession" is "not the rantings of extreme kookism anymore"

Thus says none other than heretofore neoconservative Rush Limbaugh, in response to a caller on his show August 5.

Let's see, secession has now been treated seriously by some mainstream media (Fox News, The Arizona Republic) and by talk radio commentators (Glenn Beck, in addition to Mr. Limbaugh).

Reasonable people are now concluding that getting out from under a régime that fails to work for the people who elected it is not such a crazy idea anymore!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why Arizona should secede, part III

Parts I and II

At the end of June, I suggested that the immigration crisis had reached the point where Arizona should seriously consider, and prepare for, secession from the United States. Nothing in the recent federal appellate court decision has persuaded me to the contrary, nor has the $1,000,000 price the Mexican drug lords allegedly have put on the head of Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio.

What is interesting now, is that a writer for one (sort of) mainstream medium, The Washington Times, now is advocating secession for Arizona. Columnist Jeffrey Kuhner sees this as

Mr. Obama's decision to sue Arizona is a betrayal of his constitutional oath to secure our porous border. The administration's spin is that the "border has never been more secure." It points to an influx of Border Patrol agents and more resources devoted to enforcement technology. Yet the reality remains: Aliens continue to cross every day. Arizona is home to more than a half-million illegal immigrants. Phoenix has become the kidnapping capital of America. Mexican drug lords order contract killings on Arizona sheriffs. Violent crime is pervasive. Instead of helping the people in need of protection, Mr. Obama is in effect siding with the lawbreakers.

The ruling also prevents the state from defending itself; it is unilaterally disarming the people of Arizona in the face of a dangerous enemy. The federal government has shown repeatedly that it is unable and unwilling to secure the border. The Arizona law has the overwhelming support (70 percent) of Arizonans (as well as Americans).*

The President's decision to sue Arizona is striking at the very purpose of government as defined in the preamble to the United States Constitution -- to "form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity." How, in the name of all that is just and holy, does preventing Arizona from protecting its own borders in the face of the federal government's failure to do so, promote any of those objects?

And why, in the name of all that is just and holy, is Ohio doing little or nothing to support Arizona (at least in principle) in this hour of crisis?

* Read the comments. As usual, those who support Arizona give reasoned arguments in their support. Those who support the feds resort to little more than namecalling. Why do the namecallers continue to go on with so little challenge?

Virtual buckeye to Rebellion.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bangladesh restores its constitution. Why can't we?

I never gave much thought to Bangladesh, one way or the other. However, this article from India's national newspaper, The Hindu, was stirring in the way the Bangladeshi judiciary acted to restore the freedoms of the people.

The action has some politically controversial aspects, including leaving open the question of how to reconcile freedom of religion and a statement that Islam is their state religion; but it is clearly evident that the decision enjoys great support from the current leadership of the nation, and from its people.

The Hindu's writer, Haroon Habib, makes an essential point that could have been made by Thomas Jefferson:

Nonetheless, there are some crucial lessons to be learnt from the judgment. One is that it is the fundamental duty of all citizens to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution against any onslaughts as and when they are made.

Maybe you have to be a poor Asian country to restore what is right. When we get rich and fat, it becomes too difficult...