How much do tax rate cuts cost?

December 4th, 2010

Someone please explain how when the Government reduces tax rates (irrespective of revenue), this action somehow “costs” taxpayers more money and therefore needs to be “payed for”? Now, if the argument is that the Government spends X dollars and cannot possibly reduce spending, we have a BIG problem. But, tax rate cuts (or failing to allow increases) do not need to be payed for with tax rate increases. They could cut (and we mean CUT) tax rates and in order to not go further into debt, stop spending so much money.

Rooting Out Waste, Fraud and Abuse

August 25th, 2010

The House Oversight Committee proudly states its concise mission: “The House Oversight Committee is determined to root out waste, fraud and abuse throughout the federal government.”

Fantastic.

But they need to narrow it down just a little. We don’t think it’s quite in the purview of the Federal Government to root out waste, fraud and abuse in all areas of American life. Roger Clemens has been indicted for lying to this committee. The Oversight Committee should indict itself for conducting hearings on baseball players. Even if MLB was conducting an international drug and child trafficking ring, the Oversight Committee would be responsible only for investigating how law enforcement agencies were spending/allocating resources.When a congressional committee can flatly ignore its purpose and conduct under-oath hearings of individuals for activities conducted in the context of their non-government job, every citizen can be placed under the same scrutiny. Sure, he could have invoked his right to not incriminate himself, but he isn’t being charged with controlled substance crimes. The prosecution believes Clemens lied to a congressional committee that had no right to question him.

So the moral of this story is; if ever you do something to enhance you performance at work, even if you are unlikely to be prosecuted for the act, don’t lie to people who shouldn’t be questioning you.

David

Hate the Hate Haters

August 25th, 2010

Nancy Pelosi has kind-of clarified her comment on investigating the funding of people opposing the building of a mosque two blocks from where terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center complex in the name of Islam.

We have been trying for some time to get funding for just thinking to no avail. With any luck, she’ll let us know how it works. We have not seen anything that would require funding to be investigated. If you go out and ask someone if they thinks it’s a good idea to build a 15 story building to celebrate the religion invoked on 9/11 so close to ground zero that the original structure was hit by an aircraft landing gear, they say “no” and no funding is needed for the decision.

The Imam has indicated that the mosque is for building bridges. If 68% of Americans believe it is at least in poor taste and shouldn’t be built, we don’t understand how pissing off two thirds of a nation helps. It doesn’t help when the Imam has been taped blaming the United States for 9/11.

Jonah Goldberg wrote an interesting piece about anti-Islamic hate crimes. We looked into his numbers and a little more. In 2001, anti-Islamic hate crimes peaked at well under half the number of incidents aimed at Jews, then settling at about 10%. Of more interest though, the number of incidents reported as anti-Jewish has changed very little every year over the last 15 years. Perhaps we should be investigating how Jew haters have maintained funding for so long.

David

But (that country) has Social Programs That Work

August 24th, 2010

When we hear people argue that some European country has socialized medical care or wage controls or command/control employment and makes it work, we immediately think; and they also have really good beer. And, that’s brilliant; we should try that here in a similar way. And because every country over there has a state of equivalent population or economic scale, that’s where it should be tried.

One of the main reasons our country was conceived in the way it was is precisely so individual states could try new things without destroying the nation if it failed. The Constitution has precious few limitations on state governments for that very reason.

Massachusetts has a variation of government health care. Fine. If they want it, let them have it. They may need to rethink how much it’s costing them though. California is facing similar budget issues as Greece and they should probably do something about it. But the point is; some ideas are better than others and on paper or in your heart are not realistic ways to test which is best. History is often a good guide, but people and attitudes do change and sometimes things should be tried in the real world of today. In America we have a huge advantage over the rest of the world, if we take advantage of it. We can test variables in states that actually want to implement ideas to see if they work. If so, other can adopt the legislation. If the concept fails when implemented in real life, only one state has to reconfigure back to the previous status quo.

The feds maintain interstate highways but if a state wants to pay for ultrahigh speed highways and have minimum speed limits of 75 mph and maximum of 150 mph, why should the feds say anything? Let them try it and see if the residents believe it’s worth the price of the road and the potential loss of life. If a state wants to ban the driving of gasoline powered vehicles on public roadways, let them.When the residents get hungry they will probably change the laws, but they should have the ability to try their dumb ideas out. If we keep letting the Federal government imposing dumb ideas on all of us, we won’t have any breathing room for the good ideas. The feds aren’t as good at getting rid of laws as they are at implementing them.

David

Where Does Your Money Go?

August 24th, 2010

Education is wonderful. Everyone should get some. Much like most good things, it isn’t free. So, who should pay for yours? If your answer involves another state, you don’t know the Constitution as well as you should.

There has been some traffic given to an  article about how the stimulus has cost more than the Iraq war. Well that’s like shooting fish in a barrel with dynamite. They don’t even account for the fact that the stupid Keynesian theory is costing much more in terms of the economy’s overall suffering. It did however touch on a couple of important points of comparison. Medicare and education each received more funding than the Iraq war.

People can have very defensible positions as whether going to war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the other related expenses to the war on terror (as it’s called in Government documents).  The Department of Education should not exist according t0 the Constitution. Federal health care programs should not exist either.

If you are someone that believes that we should not be spending so much money the fighting in Iraq, please explain why the Federal government is spending more money per year on education than  the ENTIRE war on terror.

Like it or not, defense is part of the Federal Government’s job. If you don’t like our military being sent to fight in places you think we should be fighting, vote for people that agree with you. If you think the Government should be paying for health services for those in need and education, your probably right, you just need to remember that it’s the state you live in that has the Constitutional authority to do it.

David

Arizona Immigration Law

April 26th, 2010

A quick bit about the new law in Arizona that has made a lot of news as of late.

We tried to find what the main complaint is about the new law and came up with little more than leftist bitching. The Constitution is brought up repeatedly without getting to any real arguments. We did find a statement from the ACLU that parrots the same line as almost all writings about the Constitutionality of the law. The only point that may have merit is on making being in the country illegally a state offense. We admittedly have not researched this issue yet and will therefore refrain from opining. That is not the main Constitutional complaint, however.

The claim is that because the Constitution states that the Federal Government is responsible for protecting against invasion, the States are forbidden from enforcement. The idea here is that the Feds should handle all aspects of immigration and enforcement and that State police are not trained to handle the delicate intricacies of immigration law.

That is one of the dumbest arguments  we have ever heard. Guess what the Constitution is even more explicit about Federal authority. Money. All aspects of our monetary system is under the purview of the Feds. So following the model of the ACLU, we should be able to go to the police station to pay a fine and give them counterfeit money without repercussion. The cops would just say; “although we have reasonable suspicion to believe that you are illegally passing counterfeit money, that’s a Federal crime and we can’t do anything.” Really? Does the ACLU and their liberal friends really think that’s correct? No. We are pretty sure that it would be reasonable for the police to detain you even if they aren’t trained in the delicate intricacies of counterfeiting  currency.

AX

The Abortion Issue is an Abortion

April 26th, 2010

We have long wondered why Republicans have placed themselves on the wrong side of the abortion issue. Roe v. Wade was a direct attack on the Ninth and Tenth Amendments; so it’s easy to see why the Left likes it.  However, Republicans seem to want the exact opposite in the form of a federal law forbidding abortions. Even if it’s unrealistic, that position makes us angry.

The justifiable part of the position is that abortion is homicide. Fine, call it homicide. That doesn’t always mean murder. Homicides are justified all the time for various reasons. Few Republicans believe woman should sacrifice her life (and possibly the unborn child) when an abortion could save her life. It’s a justifiable homicide. But all this discussion skirts the real issue.

Even murder is not a federal offense. There are very specific circumstances where a murder can become a federal crime, but those are rare exceptions. Unless the abortion occurred on Federal property, it would never be a federal crime. Homicides are under the jurisdiction of states. The U.S. Constitution does not give the Federal Government  power to enforce that type of crime. Abortion is a states rights issue plain and simple.

Republican elected representatives have come to bow to the religious right because they have a large and mobile voting block. Once that happened, Democrats took their natural position on the opposing side. That side is an easy stance for a party of Nationalist opposing federalism at the same time.

The cure is easy, although it does take effort. Vote in the primaries. That is where the tide can be changed and return the Republican party back to the side of federalists. Also, vote for presidents based on who they would pick to serve on  Federal Courts (including the Supreme Court).

Returning the entire abortion issue to the states would result in abortions being legal in all but maybe two or three states. If a person doesn’t like the outcome in their state, move to one where the majority agrees with you. The concept of federalism is not to make all states exactly the same. The opposite is far preferable. People all over the world live in nation states surrounding themselves with like-minded people. We have the advantage of pooling for defense and useful regulations. Although the Feds have taken the latter to places it should have never gone, the ideal is still sound.

AX

The definition of is

April 23rd, 2010

Political parties aren’t what they used to be. Democrats and Republicans have changed tactics and, to a much lesser extent, stated positions. Lincoln was a Republican. The Ku Klux Klan was comprised of Democrats. That much is basic history. But things seem to have changed. Or have they? To hear contemporary Democrats, one would believe that Republicans wish to return to the days of slavery and only Democrats can help the oppressed. Have political parties switched sides in the race debate? How and when did this role reversal happen without anyone noticing? The answer; political illusion. The switch never happened. The party that promoted itself with the exploitation of minorities still does. The party that made every attempt to equalize opportunity still does.

Here at AmendmentX.info we have long wondered why in countries that abolished slavery after the United States, black people seem to have fully integrated into society and aren’t constantly recalling events of 150 years ago. Here in the States, people of Asian descent had been persecuted in the past and yet now are generally not considered an at risk (of discrimination) population.

Starting with Asians; they were not enslaved at the rate of Africans. The abuse was not to the scale in almost any way. Fair enough, by there was a degree of parity with Africans that simply isn’t present now. Two things seem to missing that would appear to be vital to maintaining the feeling of repression for a group of people. First, the minority people themselves must be willing to limit themselves to what the majority gives them as stipends. If an American wants to raise their standard of living, they aren’t going to be able to stay on the Government dole. If they are willing to live on what they don’t earn, they can continue to cite how they deserve it because of something someone else did to long dead people a long time ago. It would seem Asians are unwilling to make that compromise. Second, in order to get the masses of minorities to unite and get the Government to hand out money to them, it is useful to have a political party that purports to stand up for the oppressed. Holding that position, the party would become dependent on an indefinitely oppressed group. So to keep the party viable, the leaders would have to make the supporters of the party believe they need to help poor minorities while at the same time keeping minorities poor. Asians neither have such a party, nor do they seem to want it.

By keeping black Americans in the belief that only Government can solve their problems, Democrats have a block of people that will vote for the party that directly states that they want give them other people’s money. Republicans tend towards teaching how to fish rather than just giving the fish. Republicans may initially seem to not care, but are actually showing a lack of racism by ignoring race and trying to make the starting line equal.The argument that modern racist groups tend toward the Republican party is just a silly point. Although it may be true, the reason should be obvious. Modern racists are stupid and don’t understand the point of this post. They haven’t got the brain power to see reality beyond their idiotic prejudice. Hence they aren’t for Republicans as much as they are against what Democrats are saying. Because Democrats have re-branded their lines (without re-branding the intent) as no longer oppressing minorities, the ignorant believe only what they hear and not what can be seen. Digging just below the surface and thinking about what is happening instead of what is merely said results in often different views.

This idea goes to many aspects of life. The concept of “no child left behind” should send shivers throughout your being. The child that is behind isn’t dragged up with the rest of group; simply because that is not possible. Some kids just don’t learn as fast or as much as others. Some may need a lot of extra help. So how can none be left behind? We could use big hammers and beat knowledge into their little heads. But if that doesn’t work, the only other solution is to slow everyone else down so they can all cross the finish line at the same time. While no child would be left behind, the whole country pays the price. OK, not the whole country. Just those that can’t afford to pay for the public school system and have enough left over to pay for private school.

AX

Health Care for All (in a way that would work)

April 15th, 2010


The current health care law has unconstitutional mandates for compelling individuals to purchase health insurance from private companies. Although in past entries we have suggested that it may be a good idea have citizens show in some way that they have some means of providing for their own health care costs, that idea always had problems. While the very wealthy may be able to show complete self insurability; determining where to set the bar of minimum level coverage is problematic. Additionally, the current law forbids exclusion for pre-existing conditions, but the penalty for failing to have insurance is less than almost any policy. Buying insurance on the way to the hospital isn’t insurance, it’s cost shifting. Shifting from you to someone else. All this does is make insurance companies nonviable.

There is a much better and simpler way to ensure that everyone has a level of health care available to them that is reasonable. Setting up government health care facilities that are open to the public and only provide a predetermined level of care. Because anyone that makes it to the door is treated, we would indeed have universal coverage. The level of treatment would be limited in several aspects. Elective cosmetic procedures would not provided at these facilities. Only cosmetic surgeries that are medically necessary would be covered. Three or four patients per room would be the norm. The hospitals and clinics would be largely self regulating in the level of treatment because of budgets. The budgets would hold at reasonable levels in much the same way welfare and food stamps don’t runaway. Because some 85% of the population has health insurance now, if that figure doesn’t change (and it shouldn’t significantly), the people paying without benefiting would want to keep the budgets to a reasonable level that allows those in need to receive treatment without breaking the bank.

Employers and individuals that have or provide insurance would not be eager to give it up because the benefits are still valuable compared to the government system. Having a separate system allows those treated in the government facility the dignity of not walking past the single occupant room where someone just had a “not government covered” procedure.


The education system works in this same way now. Everyone pays for the government system, but those who wish to pay extra can take advantage of a better, separate private system and all people are compelled to show that their children are covered by some sort of education (including home home schooling, which would be the equivalent of being self insured). Public and private education levels are not the same but government funding does not require equity of outcome. The government schools will continue to provide education to failing students until they either progress or drop out on their own. The hospitals would be no different.

Many hospitals already operate in a manner  similar to this concept already. Almost anyone that lives in a big city can think of facilities they would rather go to compared to others. Usually the least preferred hospitals are the heavily subsidized facilities. To attempt to equalize the conditions in the various hospitals by law is to eliminate the reward for achievement in a country that became the best on Earth by promoting the idea that you get what you earn. If no matter how hard you work you can never get ahead, why even try?

AX

 

The slippery slope of wheat and depression.

March 2nd, 2010

Although the title suggests this post will be about getting drunk on wheat beer after being upset and making up some excuse about ice causing a fall, wait where were we going with this? Oh yeah, economic recessions can be a very dangerous time in many ways. Slippery slope arguments are usually only effective when preaching to the choir because the opposition can quash them with the simple question; what’s your evidence that (fill in the blank) will actually happen? Here at AmendmentX we prefer to know ahead of time where the slippery slope goes.

So, there you are having a conversation with a pro-big -government type and he is arguing that the Federal Government should get involved in your life in some way. It really doesn’t matter what the discussion is about because the Feds have no business in your personal life. Call it health insurance or schools or whatever. You try to make that point, but your not getting far because you can’t come up with any time that the Feds have been messing with someone you know. So, you want to whip out the slippery slope argument, but your afraid he’s just going to call you paranoid. It’s OK, just because your paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t coming after you.

Try asking a few questions just to get a feel for how your big-gov pal really feels about a government getting in their backyard. Here’s a few to get started. “Do you think the Fed should regulate farming?” (Obvious answer, but you are putting him in a comfortable mood.) “Should the Fed regulate ALL farming?” (again expect an affirmative answer, but if he strays, he’s going in the direction you want anyway.) “Should people be allowed to eat what they grow?” (Duh.) “So, if you have a garden and eat what you grow, should the Feds regulate what you grow even if you never sell it?” (If they haven’t said no, reiterate that this is food and is for you and your family and no one else, and that you are not talking about during times of war. By this time, he should be wondering where you are going with this. Good, we’re getting there.) “Let’s say that the Government decides to fix the price of food, for the public good of course, and part of the bill that regulates the price of the food and regulates how much money farmers earn, for their own good of course, also allows the Feds to monitor, regulate, and fine you for non-compliance for just growing yourself some food. Are you OK with the Feds fining you for growing your own food?” (You’ll probably have to repeat that last bit a couple of times.)

If you are speaking with someone that actually believes that it is just fine for the Federal Government to impose penalties on individuals for growing a garden, you can try making the state’s rights versus Federal Government case, but the wall behind him is more likely to be persuaded. At this point, your best bet is just try to get some understanding behind why he thinks command/control totalitarian governments are better and give up on reasoning your way through a debate. You can’t win against faith based arguments.

If, on the other hand, you are talking to someone that sees that bureaucrats  in Washington D.C. should not concern themselves with an individual’s garden, you are almost ready to go for the kill. With a bit of luck or persuasion, your adversary should be calling you paranoid (yes, we want this now). If not, keep digging. Make the case a little by saying that under the Interstate Commerce Clause, the Federal Congress could seize that control. Now throw in that even if you had already planted and grown your garden, so long as you haven’t harvested yet, the law would not be retroactive.  So, the Feds could control price, the pay for farmers, and how much food is grown by whom. All because of economic conditions, not war.

We are looking for him to say something like; “That’s never going to happen.” If you can get there, you win because it already has. And it was upheld by the Supreme Court.  The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 as amended in May1941 (before we entered the war), allows for exactly what was described above for wheat and other named foods. Now you may not grow wheat. And it is true that under certain rules, a small farm could be exempted from fines (although not regulation). The logic behind supporting this legislation is that if you don’t buy your food on the open market, that loss in the marketplace affects the price of goods, and therefore, the Interstate Commerce Clause gives authority. So the only question left for your hapless foe is; “What else do you not buy that the Government may want to know about?”

Lest anyone think that this was some obscure case back in the forties that only applied to large farms. It has been used as precedent to regulate what is grown inside people’s houses this quite recently. The Supreme Court has ruled (2005) that the Federal Government may regulate certain plants (marijuana) even though state law makes possession and consumption legal. Overriding state medical use laws, the Feds can enter your house and arrest you even if your state has changed its laws to reflect the will of the body politic. Although the original offending law was passed and held constitutional during a time of economic depression, 2005 was no such time. You may be considering that the 05 decision was the Court and not Congress. True, but that only goes to show that we must be very careful what gets passed when conditions are right to take steps toward oppression. The original case came before the Court because of a law. Many years later, the Feds use the same law (or the court precedent that directly resulted from the law) to empower the Federal Government and reduce not only state’s rights, but individual’s as well.

Here at AmendmentX.info we try not to speculate more than… well,  some. But it is difficult to imagine the person who is pro government  wanting one government that they can’t control (Federal, because other states get a voice too) overriding the state law they just fought for and going to jail for smoking pot they thought was legal. Perhaps these people forget that the Feds do more than just give away other people’s money.

We don’t have to  guess where all slippery slopes lead. The end of the road for big government is your living room.

AX

General Welfare

February 24th, 2010

Article 1 § 8 of the Constitution allows the Congress the power to “To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; ” among many other things. This is of course is the opening to the Powers of Congress section.  Note that this section of the Constitution was of great importance and focus of the construction process. Because this section empowers the new Federal Government with enormous power of the Union, special care was taken to ensure the proper phraseology. As with the rest of the document, succinctness was extremely important so as to not give rise to misinterpretation due to an overabundance of legalese.

 

Reading the passage in a natural way, there are three major parts; what, why, and a caveat. The what is funding, the why is what the money is spent on, and the caveat is a limitation on how the money is collected.

Assuming that the Congress hasn’t had too many problems taxing (although an amendment was later added to increase their ability to collect more), we will skip that portion of the passage. How that money is spent has been a source of great debate. The focus of this post will be limited to the General Welfare Clause.

The welfare clause juxtaposition to the defense clause is more than coincidental. Welfare is defined by Merriam-Webster as 1 : the state of doing well especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity. So, “provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States” begins to gain meaning. Common defense is easy to define. Remembering that the Constitution was solely written to govern the Federal Government and that state is defined in all contexts other than our country as a sovereign nation, The Federal Government was established to band the several states for their protection and in doing so, maintain the strength of the New World against outside invaders. That strength necessarily means more than just militarily. Maintaining cohesion amongst the states is essential to true strength among multiple sovereigns.

The general welfare of the United States inextricably linked to common defense and once again is carefully phrased. Far from the Constitution proposing that the Federal Government should be giving money to individual citizens as “welfare checks”, this clause was specifically intended to prohibit such activity. General does not naturally mean specific or individual. The welfare (health and prosperity) is for the United States, not the individual states or citizens thereof. Remember, at the time the Constitution was written, the Federal Government was prohibited from collecting taxes directly from individuals by Article 1 § 9. The common theme throughout the document was keeping the Federal Government removed from the individual lives of the citizens as much as possible.

The introductory clauses of A1§8 were placed in front of the specific powers of Congress to explain the necessity of the following enumerated powers. That the preamble to the Constitution reflects this line of reasoning. Beyond that, Madison himself felt compelled to further iterate this point in Federalist Paper 41. (On a side note, take a look at the Second Amendment. The introductory statement gives reason to the actual restriction on infringement of arms. To illustrate the point, consider this statement; A sturdy house being necessary to protect from wolves, the right of pigs to build brick houses shall not be infringed. Would a reasonable person believe that if pigs live away from wolves they can be prohibited from building brick houses?)

After the introduction portion of §8, the rest of the section is devoted to how the Congress may procure the money to finance its various endeavors pursuant to the first part of the introduction and how to provide for the common defense and general welfare. The powers enumerated in the body effect the means for ensuring the successful defense with armies and a standing Navy as well as accommodating for the general welfare through such powers as establishing post offices and post roads, regulating the monetary system, the power to create a copyright regulatory system and others powers enumerated therein. Additionally, §9 follows up with a set of prohibitions relating directly to taxation (of various forms) and activities legislatures are wont to do that are detrimental to the general welfare (such as bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and suspension of habeas corpus).

One reason the Federal Government has been diligently trying to redefine the term general welfare (not to mention the interstate commerce clause and the necessary and proper clause) for so long is the Tenth Amendment. Because the Tenth Amendment strictly forbids the Federal Government from exercising powers not specifically enumerated in Article 1, the only way to increase power is to invent enumerated powers. With a complicit Supreme Court, those pretended powers become real.

AX

Climategate

December 3rd, 2009

We find the idea of labeling every government issue that is even the least bit scandalous with a “gate” suffix, stupid. The climate scientist e-mails that were recently hacked wasn’t even an American instance. But we digress.

No, this has nothing to do with the Tenth Amendment. What we can and must conclude from the correspondence of these global warming alarmists is that not only is their data highly suspect, but more importantly, they have rigged the peer-review process. That means that ALL of the anthropogenic global warming rhetoric must be essentially thrown out. If you believe that people are some, partially, or completely responsible for climate change (including the lack of rise in temperature over the past 11 years) you must use new data. If you are like most Amendment X readers you may be saying “Dark beer tastes better than light beer.” Also, “What about the raw data?” Well, that was thrown out once these “scientists” had manipulated the information into what they wanted. So, start over. If you have substituted global warming for religion and therefore every form of descent is heresy, your dogma likely incompatible with this blog. If on the other hand you have an open mind, you can still believe in anthropogenic global warming and embrace better, more cost effective solutions such as those proposed in the fabulous new book, Super Freakenomics. (review forthcoming)

AX

New author

November 11th, 2009

We are pleased to introduce a new author to AmendmentX.info; G.

G was a mentor in our philosophy and is a contributor to many debates and should give a slightly different view on a variety of subjects. G will have occasional posts and may or may not contribute regularly. As we don’t have a regular posting schedule, this should be of little consequence. Enjoy.

AX

Obama phone (or not)

October 26th, 2009

There are a lot of rumors going around about Obama giving poor people a cell phone and talk time at taxpayer expense. This rumor is not true and it would be unconstitutional (like several other welfare programs that exist unconstitutionally). It is true that if you meet certain income requirements you can get a free cell phone and time to conduct your drug deals whatever. The program is funded by all telecommunication companies that provide interstate service. The legislation does not specify how those companies fund their contributions, although most of them pass it on openly in your bill as Universal Coverage Fee. Because the fee is not a personal tax and only interstate companies are required to pay, Congress has the authority to collect it. Speaking of Congress, it was the Republican controlled legislature in 1996 that effectively caused the current system to be giving phones to drug dealers people. In 2004, under the Republicans, the program was expanded to give service to another 1.25 million drug dealers people.If Democrats want to call Republicans cold-hearted for opposing the program now, they should look first at who started it. If Republicans want to call Democrats wasteful for giving phones to drug dealers poor people, they too should look at who started it. Nothing about the program is new this year except that some forms for telecommunication companies have been made available online. The recent uproar seems to stem from Trac-phone’s participation in the program and advertising campaign. Remember, just because an ad says new doesn’t mean it is new.

AX

Don’t ask, don’t tell

October 22nd, 2009

The Weekly Standard has an excellent piece on what is publicly referred to as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Of particular note is that there is no such legislation. The term stems from an executive order by President Clinton. We will not get into the actual debate here except to suggest that openly homosexuals could be segregated in much the same way as women. (Women are not allowed in combat for example) Of importance to this blog is found in the actual legislation that Clinton was attempting to circumvent. The law disallows open, non-coerced homosexuality. More importantly, at the beginning  after Constitutional authority for the law, subsection “(2) There is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces.” The U.S.armed forces are regulated by Congress under authority of Section 8 of article I of the Constitution of the United States. While some rights are retained by those serving, those rights are far from complete. Free speech via words and clothing immediately come to mind. There are political and rational reasons reasons to allow women to serve and also to limit their roles. Race is on different footing. Other than purely visual characteristics, there is no difference between men (in general) of different races any more than hair color or eye color. Distinguishing on those basis would be a violation of due process. On personal traits however, distinctions should be made. A pacifist should not be allowed in combat roles regardless of any other characteristics and their background is irrelevant. If everyone should be allowed to serve, wouldn’t pacifists be part of everyone? So now that we have established that individuals can be classified into what roles they may be allowed to serve in, all that’s  left is deciding the lines we are willing to draw.

AX

Pre-existing conditions

October 22nd, 2009

Taking a quick look over the most prominent health care bill in Congress, the Baucus bill sheds some light on what Democrats want to do. The President has come out on many occasions to state that he would not support a bill that would; reduce benefits, cause waiting, or raise the price of health care. Well, if he told the truth, he won’t be supporting this one. The 1502 page proposed bill covers a great many things, but we will take an example to show how much you can trust what you hear.

The Baucus bill creates entities without definition. For pre-existing conditions, section 2215;”(a) ESTABLISHMENT OF HIGH RISK POOLS.— ‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this title, the Secretary shall establish 1 or more high risk pools that— ‘‘(A) provide to all eligible individuals health insurance coverage (or comparable coverage) that does not impose any preexisting condition exclusion with respect to such coverage for all eligible individuals; and ‘‘(B) provide for health benefits coverage and premium rates described under subsection (b).”

OK, so this phantom pool is just a group of individuals with pre-existing conditions that get a subsidy for insurance. Well, not really. That’s only true if the subsidy stays under $5billion. If that amount is exceeded, subsection (2) applies ‘‘INSUFFICIENT FUNDS.—If the Secretary estimates for any fiscal year that the aggregate amounts available for payment of expenses of the high risk pool will be less than the amount of the expenses, the Secretary shall make such adjustments as are necessary to eliminate such deficit, including reducing benefits, increasing premiums, or establishing waiting lists.”

The bottom line is; everyone will get what they want, unless they don’t. If you are part of the latter, which is estimated to be around 85% of the population, voting is REALLY important.

AX

Insurance mandates revisited

October 7th, 2009

We have been trying to come up with a method to compel private health insurance without screwing up the free market. If the Government follows a plan of setting a fine (in some form or another) of a fixed amount for failure to have health insurance, that amount will become the new minimum for premiums. For example, if the amount is fixed at $3600 per annum, people who currently do not feel a need to have insurance would not pay more than $300/month for insurance because that is the fixed minimum to pay. The insurance companies could charge less to gain market share, but there is little incentive to go much below because they know everyone will have to spend $300/month if they don’t get insurance at all. In this situation, even HSA’s could see a dramatic increase in premiums. Tying the penalty to income makes much more sense. Setting the penalty to something like 7.5% of AGI means that insurance companies would not have a fixed minimum premium. For example, if a person earns $50,000/year (AGI), they would pay $3750 for failure to have insurance. For that individual, the $312.50/month is competitive with insurance that would provide benefits (unlike a fine). On the lower end of the scale, people with less income would not be forced to purchase expensive policies that they cannot afford. The $126.25/month for a $25,000/year earner would buy a catastrophic coverage plan and still put money into the risk pool. On the upper end, affluent people could save money (although they typically carry insurance now). The dollars from the penalties would be used to purchase insurance for the person from an insurance provider of the Government’s choice. Although there is the potential for favoritism, only idiots would pay to have the government choose their provider. While we are not fans of government over-regulation of private industry, at this point it is political reality that something is going to change. While they are disallowing exemptions for pre-existing conditions, disallow income based premiums. Insurance companies do not use income as a factor now, so that limitation would not be burdensome. Additionally, subsequent violations would  increase the penalties for failure to obtain insurance. An annual increase of 2% would soon make it unreasonable not to get insurance on their own and the additional dollars would pay for the poor. The government purchased minimal insurance savings as well as the additional money from increasing fines would help pay for insurance food stamps for the poor.

AX

Secret tape released

October 7th, 2009

In a rare occurrence, President Obama was actually doing his job as called out in the Constitution. General McChrystal flew to Denmark to meet with the Commander in Chief while the President was there to campaign. apologize for America. make treaties. secure locations for missile defense. bid for the Olympics. Obama didn’t like the news reporting that he hadn’t spoken with the commander of the troops in what Obama called a “war of necessity.”  So, he had the General meet him for a whole 25 minuets inside Air Force One before Obama left Copenhagen. We found a tape that reveals the details of that meeting.

Obama: What’s your problem, boy?

McChrystal: Sir?

Obama: You can’t go to London and speak your mind like you did yesterday.

McChrystal: Sir, we need more troops in Afghanistan to prevent terrorist organizations from taking over.

Obama: No, we don’t. Just like I said about Iraq, we don’t need more troops to secure the country.

McChrystal: But it worked in Iraq and now we are drawing down troop levels just as predicted by supporters of that surge.

Obama: Let me be clear; I don’t like you. I don’t like the Army. I don’t like what you people do.

McChrystal: Sir, I just think we should have a plan.

Obama: We have a plan. By we, I mean Joe Biden. And by plan, I mean law enforcement.

McChrystal: With all due respect, Joe Biden is an idiot. Besides, didn’t you just stop all prosecutions of suspected terrorists?

Obama: So. I mean, no. Not stopped, just not happening now. Anyway, I inherited this problem from the previous administration.

McChrystal: What problem, sir?

Obama: All of them.

McChrystal: And you signed an Executive Order closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Obama: Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. Let me be clear, this isn’t about me; it’s about you. If I thought you were important, I would spend hours with you drinking beer. The truth is; I would disband the entire military if I thought I could get away with it. We don’t need it. We could just have a massive civilian national security force. I can just talk to the other leaders in the world and convince them that they love me. Look how well that strategy is working in Iran.

McChrystal: Sir, Iran just started testing missiles that could send nuclear weapons into Israel.

Obama: I inherited that.

McChrystal: And you shut down strategic missile defense projects.

Obama: I can fire you just like I fired your predecessor Afghanistan.

McChrystal: With all due respect, I am very good at commanding troops.

Obama: Well, I’m pretty good at throwing people around me under the bus. You’re lucky Congress keeps funding the war, because I wouldn’t.

McChrystal: What do you want me to do, sir?

Obama: Let me put my finger to in the air and see which way the political winds are blowing.

McChrystal: Does that really work?

Obama: Not so much. But that’s not important now. What is important is that I get back to campaigning. working for ACORN. giving people that need pacemakers pain killers. running an auto company. spending time in the White House. getting competition in the insurance marketplace. talking to the Dalia Lama. fulfilling my promise to cut the deficit in half. celebrating my 15th wedding anniversary. replacing the White House lawyer. stuff, you know Presidential things. Now, get out of my airplane.

AX

Harvard uninsured death study

October 5th, 2009

The American Journal of Public Health published a paper written by several people associated with the Harvard Medical School. This paper opens with “The United States stands alone among industrialized nations in not providing health coverage to all of its citizens. Currently, 46 million Americans lack health coverage.” Moving past the obvious point that ALL people in the US have access to health care (although not health insurance), there are a few problems with this paper and its findings. One must keep in mind that the authors of this study are activists for single payer government health insurance. Because this paper has been bandied about the news with people crying that 122 people die every day from lack of insurance, we thought we would take a quick look at the paper. First, and easiest to find, is right in the limitations section. The rate of those insured is based on a snapshot of interviewees on whether or not they have health insurance at the time of the interview. If all participants were experiencing a short lapse in coverage, the entire study would be worth absolutely nothing. The authors make the bold presumption that if a person is ever without insurance, they will perpetually be either uninsured or only intermittently insured. They go on to declare that intermittent insurance is just as bad (as far as risk factor) as being uninsured. Beyond that, the study found that of those interviewed, those rated poor to fair health by physicians were 33% more likely to be uninsured (although still only 4.8%) than all other groups combined; thereby increasing the overall death rate of the uninsured.

Although the authors took great care to make the study appear to control for many factors (such as if a person has smoked more or fewer than 200 cigarettes in their lifetime), one glaring omission is present; cause of death. With those aged between 17 and 34 comprising of 44.2% of the study group, and assuming the 49.8% male ratio holds true, cause of deaths is rather important. Males died at a 33% higher rate overall and were less likely to be insured. Black Americans were also 25% more likely to die than any other group. Mexican Americans, while only 5.5% of the group, were twice as likely and four times as likely to be uninsured as blacks and whites respectively. When a young male dies in a car crash, drug/alcohol related death, gang related death, or some other non-health related death is not removed from this type of study, the results should not be relied upon. If the authors had their way and these young, uninsured males were covered by National Health-care, they would be deaths of those WITH health care. But just as dead.

The study omits those covered by current Government care so we will limit our stupid extrapolations on from those provided by the study.  61 people die every day in this country with adequate health insurance. 99.4% of those uninsured survive every year. Former smokers are over 71% more likely to die than current smokers. Exercise has no effect on your mortality rate. Skinny people are almost twice as likely to die as the obese. Numbers can be manipulated fairly easily and starting with a defective set makes them all suspect. When counting the elderly (people covered by Medicare) just imagine how many people die while covered by government insurance.

The federal government has no business being in the insurance industry. Don’t let people from what you may think are prestigious institutions fool you with bad papers. The presentation may be first rate and you may hear politicians relay them, but it’s BS.

AX

Insurance mandates

September 29th, 2009

A lot of conservatives have been railing against the idea of requiring health insurance. The basis for the argument is that they hate Obama. Also, they complain about transfer of money from young healthy males to old women. While we here at AmendmentX believe that transfer of wealth is facially a bad idea, where does the money come from that currently pays for the coverage of high cost insurees? Where the pundits miss the boat is that everyone in the United States currently receives health CARE and that cost is paid by people. So, the transfer of wealth now comes from people who have insurance or actually pay with money for treatment. By keeping those unwilling to buy insurance from having to, the conservatives are effectively mandating a transfer of wealth from responsible and wealthy people whom are no better able to afford it than the young males they purport to protect.

Universal coverage is a political reality. We have it now. It is however less economical to treat large numbers of people in emergency rooms. Beyond that, the majority of the body politic wants some sort of change. That change does not mean government health insurance. It means lower premiums. Something is going to change about the current system and we can either argue for something that actually helps, or we can let the socialists give us a government plan. As to the Constitutionality of required coverage, look no farther than Medicaid and Medicare. We already pay the government through forced taxation money to pay for other people’s health care. Requiring people to pay for their own is easier to swallow.

AX