Collected Poetry

 

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Collected Poetry

VOLUME EIGHT  

 

Original materials - Copyright © 2013 by Gary Bachlund    All international rights reserved

 

“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.” Czesław Miłosz (1911-2004)

 

Nemesis met Hubris

A Nemesis met a Hubris
  out in a Daydream's stroll;
Hubris wore his Coat of Pride
  as was that costumed role.
Ambition strode demeanor's stride
  with broad pronouncements bold.
Nemesis shyly slyly
  dogged the steps they strolled.


Nemesis suffered Hubris
  and thought to stay a while,
While Hubris slyly did its self
  image "I" beguile.
The focal point for Hubris
  was inner like a child,
An ego that was super,
  centered, domiciled.


Wonderful, I am, I am,
  as I've awaited me,
So Hubris saw his Mirrored Self
  unabashedly.
Self reflected in the Self
  of circular circles round,
Which Nemesis regarded
  as a Vortex deep, unsound.


When Hubris dared then faltered,
  Nemesis would assist;
Hubris blamed and paltered,
  Nemesis could not resist.
Came the time for Hubris
  to dash upon Pride's Pocks,
With Nemesis' tiller sure to guide
  Hubris into painful Paradox,


As best laid plans' intentions
  find plans ere crushed awry
And Nemesis does its duty
  beaching Hubris high and dry.
Tides will come and times will go
  along the Coasts of Years,


As Hubris in each age and time
  traverses Vales of Tears.
Lessons learned forgotten
  is the story of each age,
As each Hubris meets old Nemesis
  at the turn of each stories' page.

 

Envoi:   "The man of system… seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it." In "The Theory of Moral Sentiments," Adam Smith, Part VI, Section II, Chapter II.

 

Addendum of Unanticipated Consequences:   "The impact on community service workers is another unanticipated consequence of the health care law, which is making coverage available at little or no cost to many uninsured people but disrupting coverage for others who already had it. Abby Grosslein, a Vista member in New Orleans, said she thought it was strange that the health benefits provided by a federal agency did not meet the standards of a law adopted more than three and a half years ago. 'It would be nice if the government waived the penalty because we are a federally funded program,' said Ms. Grosslein, 24, who is completing her third year of service with AmeriCorps. 'It’s as if the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.' Moreover, she said: 'The Affordable Care Act has been on the books since 2010. Why are we hearing only now that our health plan is not compliant?'," by Robert Pear, New York Times, 26 December 2013.    [ 1 ]

 

Addendum of not Examining Close Enough:   "The fact that more people ended up being caught in this in this, uh, change, uh, I think it's -- I'm not, I'm not particularly a media trained person so I tend to be pretty blunt about it -- it's, it's crappy. It's not right! You know, these are people that thought they would be able to keep their plans because the president said so and I think the president made this point himself. That's, that is, that is just the reality of the situation and I think it's unfortunate that at that ensnared more people than they thought." In "Obama Speechwriter: The Keep Your Plan Pledge Wasn't 'Examined Closely Enough'," quote of Jon Lovett, RealClearPolitics, 29 January 2014.    [ 2 ]

 

Addendum of Governments' Inaccurate Underlying Assumptions:   "The European energy system is currently in crisis. By adopting the Climate and Energy Package at the end of 2008, the European Union made strong commitments for 2020: a 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, 20% of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources and a 20% improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency. But these targets were based on misguided assumptions. The expected economic growth made the first commitment a challenging target but it was also supposed to ensure that the deployment of renewable energy sources would be affordable. The expected rise in fossil fuel prices would make renewables profitable and would allow subsidies to be phased out. By paving the way for a climate-friendly economic growth, the European Union had the ambition to become the world leader in renewable energy manufacturing and in the invention of innovative and sustainable ways of life. For once, the EU strategy was ambitious and comprehensive. But none of its underlying assumptions proved accurate." In "The Crisis of the European Electricity System," Jean Piasanu-Ferry, Commissariat général à la stratégie et à la prospective, January 2014.   [ 3 ]

 

Addendum of a Nemesis named Opium:   "...one thing is clear, as shown by latest quarterly report from the US Special Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction: The $7 billion US program to eradicate poppy cultivation there over the past decade has been a flop. The country is today the world's largest supplier of opium, the purified latex sap from the Papaver somniferum poppy species that is usually then converted into heroin. It accounts for about three-quarters of the global recreational supply, and surging Afghan production is one reason why street heroin prices have been falling across the globe." In "What did $7 billion spent on opium eradication in Afghanistan buy? More opium." by Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, 3 July 2014.

 

Addendum of a Nemesis named Missing Files:   "A government investigation has found that the State Department has incomplete files or is missing files for more than $6 billion in contracts over the last six years. In one case involving State Department operations in Iraq, officials couldn't provide 33 of the 115 contract files requested. Those missing files were for contracts worth $2.1 billion." In "Report: Government Missing Files For $6 Billion In Contracts," by Associated Press via Huffington Post, 4 June 2014.

 

Addendum of More Federal Waste:   "The federal government wasted millions of dollars in building a housing project for Border Patrol agents in Arizona near the Mexican border, spending nearly $700,000 per house in a small town where the average home costs less than $90,000, a watchdog report found. The analysis by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection overspent by about $4.6 million on new houses and mobile homes in the small town of Ajo southwest of Phoenix. The agency has spent about $17 million for land, 21 two- and three-bedroom houses and 20 mobile homes. Construction was completed in December 2012. Customs and Border Protection paid about $680,000 per house and about $118,000 per mobile home, according to the report. The average home cost in Ajo is $86,500." In "Report: Border Patrol homes cost $680,000 each," by Astrid Galvan, Associated Press, 11 September 2014.

 

Addendum of Fewer and Federally Fewer:   "...the analysis finds that exchange plan networks include 42 percent fewer oncology and cardiology specialists; 32 percent fewer mental health and primary care providers; and 24 percent fewer hospitals. Importantly, care provided by out-of-network providers does not count toward the out-of-pocket limits put in place by the ACA." In "Exchange Plans Include 34 Percent Fewer Providers than the Average for Commercial Plans," Avalere, 15 July 2015.

 

 Addendum of All Pain and No Gain:   "Charles McConnell, who served two years as assistant energy secretary under President Obama, told a House subcommittee that the total reduction in U.S. emissions by 2025 foreseen under the CPP will be offset by just three weeks of emissions in China. 'To get some perspective on how irrelevant EPA’s plan is, after exacting tremendous pain on the U.S. economy and ratepayers, a full year’s worth of annual reductions in 2025 would be offset by Chinese emission in just three weeks,' Mr. McConnell said at a Thursday hearing of the House Science Committee’s environment subcommittee. He said the CPP, which has been challenged in court by 27 states, will result in 'double-digit electricity price increases in over half of our states,' as well as hidden costs in transmission upgrades and back-up generation." In "Former top Obama energy official calls EPA’s Clean Power Plan ‘all pain, no gain’," by Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, 28 May 2016.   [ 4 ]

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]     " 'We want to hold the president to his word: If you like your health-care coverage, you can keep it, and that just hasn’t been the case,' said Donald 'D.' Taylor, president of Unite Here, the union that represents about 400,000 hotel and restaurant workers and provided a crucial boost to Obama by endorsing him just after his rival Hillary Rodham Clinton had won the New Hampshire primary. Taylor and Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, laid out their grievances this week in a terse letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), saying they are 'bitterly disappointed' in the administration. A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on the union leaders' claims that they were misled. A person familiar with Obama’s meeting with the labor chiefs said he 'listened to the group’s concerns with empathy'but explained that the law would not permit the administration to take the steps they requested." In "Labor union officials say Obama betrayed them in health-care rollout," by Steven Mufson and Tom Hamburger, Washington Post, 31 January 2014.

 

 Locking People Out of the Workforce

 

          The estimates made from year to year by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) were once optimistically expressed as regards the ACA -- ObamaCare. As a proverbial Nemesis comes to amend the estimates, one reads:  

          "A historically high number of people will be locked out of the workforce by 2021, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday. President Barack Obama's signature health-care law will contribute to this phenomenon, the CBO said, citing new estimates that the Affordable Care Act will cause a larger-than-expected reduction in working hours—eliminating the equivalent of about 2.3 million workers in 2021. In 2011, the CBO estimated the law would cause a reduction of about 800,000 full-time equivalent workers." In "CBO nearly triples estimate of working hours lost by 2021 due to Affordable Care Act," CNBC, 4 February 2014.

          Another proof of nemesis meeting hubris is now found in the ACA -- which some US Democrats now complain has been unfairly nicknamed ObamaCare.

 

 Hitting Average Americans in the Wallet

 

          One reads of a union representing 300,000.   "...a new report by Unite Here, 'The Irony of Obamacare: Making Inequality Worse,' cannot be dismissed by the White House, by Democrats on Capitol Hill, or by the left-leaning punditocracy, as a politically biased document. 'The promise of Obamacare was the right one,' the report states, 'and the hope for extending health care coverage to the un- and under-insured a step in the right direction. Yet the unintended consequences will hit the average, hardworking American where it hurts: in the wallet.' Unite Here disputes the contention of Obama administration experts that the president’s health care law does not incentivize employers to drop coverage for their workers. The union notes that the same administration experts also told the nation that employers would not cut workers’ hours to get below the 30-hour-per-week threshold for 'full time' work, even as 388 employers announced hours cuts since early 2012. As to the workers who have been dropped from employer health plans and pushed into Obamacare insurance exchanges, Unite Here foresees economic hardship." In "Big union backs off Obamacare," Orange County Register, 14 March 2014.

          While those trusting too deeply in the left-right or Democrat-Republican model balk at some news sources as biased, one reads directly from the union's own site. 

          "Ironically, the Administration's own signature healthcare victory poses one of the most immediate challenges to redressing inequality. Yes, the Affordable Care Act will help many more Americans gain some health insurance coverage, a significant step forward for equality. At the same time, without smart fixes, the ACA threatens the middle class with higher premiums, loss of hours, and a shift to part-time work and less comprehensive coverage."

 

 Making Inequality Worse

 

          The next union-written accusation against the ACA is startling. "Transferring A Trillion Dollars in Wealth: Most of the ACA's $965 billion in subsidies will go directly to commercial insurance companies, one of the largest transfers of public wealth to private hands ever. Since the ACA passed, the average stock price of the big for-profit health insurers doubled, their top executives were paid more than a half billion dollars in cash and stock options, and in the past 2 years, the top 10 insurers have spent $25 billion on mergers and acquisitions. Strangling Fair Competition: Before reform, different types of health plans were regulated under different bodies of law. The Obama Administration has blocked many non-profit health funds from competing for the law's proposed trillion dollars in subsidies by refusing to set fair regulations for different types of plans. The unbalanced playing field will give employers of people covered by these plans powerful incentives to drop coverage. Moving to Part Time Work: The Administration's experts say employers won't follow the incentives and drop coverage. But they also told the nation that employers would not cut workers' hours to get below the 30-hour per week threshold for 'full time' work, even as 388 employers announced hours cuts since early 2012." In "UNITE HERE Report: 'The Irony of ObamaCare: Making Inequality Worse'," Unite Here Union Site, 11 March 2014.

          Given the ACA was passed by Democrat lawmakers' votes without Republicans, this becomes an increasingly problematic political game for that party, which is now being seen as "making inequality worse."  Given the repeated accusations by Democrats that Republicans make inequality worse, one might correctly deduce that both parties are contributing to such worsening inequality. How interesting.  See:  Income Inequality  .

 

 Quietly Dropping Forecasts

 

          After some years and the incompetent "scoring" offered by the Congressional Budget Office when considering the ACA at its outset, one learns:   "The CBO has consistently projected that President Obama's overhaul will reduce the deficit, and the agency estimated that the Republicans’ 2011 effort to repeal the legislation would increase deficits by $210 billion from 2010 to 2021. In April, the agency quietly signaled that it can no longer make that projection; that the law had been changed and delayed so much that there is no longer a credible way to estimate the long-term effects on the deficit of all elements of the program taken together. 'The ACA’s financing provisions were assumed to be effective so as to get a favorable score out of CBO upon enactment,' he said. 'But no one is keeping track of whether they’re being enforced. . . . We receive occasional updates on the gross costs of the law, but none on whether the previously projected savings provisions are producing what was originally projected'." In "CBO Quietly Drops Forecast That Obamacare Will Cut the Deficit," by Eric Pianin, Fiscal Times via Yahoo Finance, 5 June 2014.

          Imagine that. The hubris of the CBO is meeting its nemesis yet again. Simple arithmetic and reality once again are trumping politically motivated forecasts. One might aptly assert that Lying continues   -  government flexing its sinews.

 

 Suddenly

 

          And now one finds adjunct teaching staff in American colleges confront an arithmetic problem:   "Faced with $47 million-a-year unfunded ObamaCare liability, the 17-campus system has asked the state for the OK to create its own health program. It says it can't afford to pay its 8,586 non-permanent workers ObamaCare's essential benefits package, at $5,400 a pop. The jobs of graduate and teaching assistants, visiting professors and student employees are on the block. The other option is raising tuition, but President Obama is cracking down on colleges over student debt. 'This is an unfunded mandate that's coming down on us,' UNC System COO Charlie Perusse complained. No kidding. Belatedly, academia is waking up to the business realities of ObamaCare." In "Professors Suddenly Don't Like ObamaCare Either," Editorial, Investors Business Daily, 27 June 2014.

          And as to further instances of nemesis, one reads:   "Dr. John Jay Shannon, promoted to the top position at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System just weeks ago, is charged with finding $67 million in savings from the program by November. If he’s unable to, Cook County taxpayers will have to pony up to pay for the program. Shannon told Crain’s that the county had 'unrealistic expectations' that CountyCare would be 'some kind of profit center' for the public health system. But Cook County officials were far from alone in thinking the federal funding would boost. Advocates of the Medicaid expansion nationwide regularly castigate states that have decided against expanding the welfare program. The White House recently released a report attempting to shame states for refusing $88 billion in 'free' federal taxpayer funding to expand Medicaid — but Cook County’s experience suggests states may not be able to count on the programs remaining free." In "Chicago Faces $67 Million Shortfall After Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion Busts Budget," by Sarah Hurtubise, Daily Caller, 14 July 2014.

 

[ 2 ]    One reads, "it's crappy? It's not right?" Perhaps as experiences accrue. But...

          " 'You’ve heard about the controversies, the process about the bill…but I don’t know if you’ve heard that it is legislation for the future – not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America,' she told the National Association of Counties annual legislative conference, which has drawn about 2,000 local officials to Washington [2010]. 'But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it – away from the fog of the controversy'." In "The Context Behind Nancy Pelosi's Famous 'We Have to Pass the Bill' Quote," Democratic Underground, 17 November 2013.

         But the fog of controversy, alluded to in 2010, has not diminished but rather increased.

 

 It's Not My Responsibility

 

        In "Jon Stewart Grills Pelosi On Why Obamacare Website Failed: 'I Don't Know... It's Not My Responsibility'," The Daily Show, excerpt at RealClearPolitics, 31 January 2014.

        One begins to see notice of a gathering controversy. "The promise of the Affordable Care Act is right there in its title: Affordable. Yet, anti-poverty agencies across the country fear that even with the federal financial assistance available under the law, health insurance will remain unaffordable for significant numbers of low-income Americans. 'For those with very low wages trying to raise kids, after paying for housing, electricity, food, transportation, and child care, asking people to pay another $50 or $100 a month, that's just out of reach,' said Sireesha Manne, a staff attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty." In "Is Affordable Care Act really affordable for all?" by Michael Ollove, USAToday, 14 January 2014.

         One revisits Obama's speechwriter's admission:  "That's, that is, that is just the reality of the situation and I think it's unfortunate that at that ensnared more people than they thought."

         Ensnared? "...it's crappy. It's not right." And this is linked to "it's not my responsibility." Nemesis met hubris.

 

 Simple Math

 

         And in the context of "doing the math" one finds simple arithmetic tells a tale of numerical nemesis telling clearly of plotical hubris. One reads:   "Slom pointed out Hawaii has the lowest exchange enrollment rate in the country — around 8,000 people — despite the $204 million grant, yet the Connector’s interim director Tom Matsuda is lobbying lawmakers for another $4.7 million in state funds for fiscal year 2015 to maintain its operations. The exchange is supposed to be self sufficient by the end of 2014, but since enrollment is so low, the 2 percent tax on every transaction doesn’t cover the exchange’s operational costs, Matsuda told lawmakers. ...U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, said at the hearing residents of her state are “frustrated and embarrassed” because of the low enrollment in the Obamacare exchange, and “very concerned” about how the $204 million federal Affordable Care Act grant has been allocated and spent." In "GAO to investigate Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange," Malia Zimmerman, Hawaii Reporter, 17 April 2014.

         The simple math?  $204,000,000 / 8,000 = $25,500 per person to set up the website, with more money needed because "since enrollment is so low, the 2 percent tax on every transaction doesn’t cover the exchange's operational costs."

         See directly below:  Incompetence  - from whence to thence, and below that, A Countdown Song   - counting upwards to down, with sources enough to prove a point.

  

[ 3 ]    As inaccurate underlying assumptions as admitted in the quote above, one watches the European Carbon Exchange follow a rather similar trajectory to the now-collapsed Chicago Climate Exchange.

         In 2103, The Economist noted the downward trend for investors:   "...massive overcapacity in the ETS, which has driven the price of carbon down from almost €30 a tonne in 2008 to about €5 this year." In "The First Hurdle," The Economist, 19 February 2013. 

 

 Below Junk

 

         Only a month later, the political underpinnings of this "trading system" fall away. "Europe's flagship environmental policy has just been holed below the water line. On April 16th the European Parliament voted by 334 to 315 to reject proposals which (its supporters claimed) were needed to save the emissions-trading system (ETS) from collapse. Carbon prices promptly fell 40%...." In "Below Junk Status," The Economist, 16 April 2013.

         At the end of 2013, one saw the last traded price in December 2014 was €5.59.  This proves that those making money from the mandated one-time policies are the traders, while investors who entered at the top of that "market" have lost about 85 percent of an original "investment."

         For a comparable narrative in numbers and parallel history in the collapsed Chicago Climate Exchange, see the footnotes to the rhyme: Green Job  .

 

[ 4 ]  To continually mandate increasing costs onto consumers, government acts as ruler over the average Joe, unsuspecting that as governments' size and power increase, the individual citizen and his freedom are decreased. These mandates violate the Coase Theorem as surveyed below in Incompetence - from whence to thence.

         That governments' mandates fall on consumers in time simply moves governments towards being ever more Totalitarian .

 


 

Incompetence - from whence to thence

"...transaction costs, however, could not be neglected, and therefore, the initial allocation of property rights often mattered. As a result, one normative conclusion sometimes drawn from the Coase theorem is that property rights should initially be assigned to the actors for whom avoiding the costs associated with the externality problem are the lowest. The problem in real life is that nobody knows ex ante the most valued use of a resource, and also that there exist costs involving the reallocation of resources by government. Another, more refined, normative conclusion also often discussed in law and economics is that government should create institutions that minimize transaction costs, so as to allow misallocations of resources to be corrected as cheaply as possible."  In "Coase theorem," Wikipedia article.   [ 1 ]

 

Governments in competence
Cheer their promise clear;
They'll do this and then comes that,
So never, ever fear.
        Parties in competence
        Play partisanship passing through,
        Proposing all will ever be well
        If voters quaff their brew.
                Policies in competence
                Assure that all's left right;
                And for their bright-aired message
                All should appear upright.

Governments in competence
Pile high each house of cards,
Built upon their shiftless sands
And hailed by shilling bards.
        Parties in competence
        To celebrate their wins,
        Such on-high folks puff with pride
        And blindly view their sins.
                Policies in competence
                Are peddled as guarantees,
                Which shifting sands and teetering cards
                Erode in agonies.

Governments in competence
Have emptying myths to sell
Which, when the little people buy,
Prove just an empty shell.
        Parties in competence
        Reward in competence with coin,  
[ 2 ]
        But such rewards are limited
        To incompetents who join
                Policies in competence
                That raid the public purse,
                Rewarding governments' in competence,  
[ 3 ]
                With debt dark days and worse.

 

Envoi:   "...the truth is that demand will always exceed supply – because the supply is free." In "Seeing the GP can be bad for your health," by Glenda Cooper, Telegraph UK, 27 September 2014.

 

Addendum of Government Cutting Its Billion Dollar Losses:     "The Department of Homeland Security, positioning itself to cut its losses on a so-called invisible fence along the U.S.- Mexico border, has decided not to exercise a one-year option for Boeing to continue work on the troubled multibillion-dollar project involving high-tech cameras, radar and vibration sensors. The result, after an investment of more than $1 billion, may be a system with only 53 miles of unreliable coverage along the nearly 2,000-mile border. The virtual fence was intended to link advanced monitoring technologies to command centers for Border Patrol to identify and thwart human trafficking and drug smuggling. But from the beginning, the program has been plagued by missed deadlines and the limitations of existing electronics in rugged, unpredictable wilderness where high winds and a tumbleweed can be enough to trigger an alarm." In "Costly virtual border fence in tatters," by Brian Bennett, Tribune, 22 October 2010.

 

Addendum of United States 'Exchanges' for In Competence:   "...Grace-Marie Turner -- president of the not-for-profit Galen Institute -- details why PCIP's problems are indicative of impending problems in the ACA's state insurance exchanges, which are set to launch in 2014. For instance, 'many of the triggers for exploding costs are the same' between PCIP and the exchanges, she notes, including that health insurance starting in 2014 'must cover many more benefits than the policies most people have been purchasing.' According to Turner, the exchanges will 'provide huge subsidies ... to help people buy the expensive health insurance the law mandates,' but 'many healthy people will find that the premiums, copayments and deductibles they are facing will make this insurance very unattractive.' If healthy people avoid the exchanges, the marketplaces would serve mostly sick individuals, and costs would soar, just as they did in the high-risk pools, she suggests. Further, Turner notes that if the exchanges 'experience even a fraction of the excessive costs that the high-risk pools have seen, Congress will have no choice but to cut eligibility, provider payments or subsidies'." In "Are High-Risk Pools a Preview of Obamacare's Failure?" by Matthew Wayt, California Healthline, 24 April 2013.

 

Addendum of Perverse Incentives In Competence:  "Workers in low-wage industries clocked the shortest average workweek on record in July, new Labor Department data show. The 29 million non-managerial workers in private-sector industries which pay up to about $14.50 per hour, on average, put in a 27.4-hour week, a level previously matched only at the depths of the recession in 2009. As the recovery began that summer, average weekly hours staged a recovery that erased most of the recession's decline. But the workweek recovery began to reverse in early 2012, and the drop-off has accelerated in 2013 — just as the onset of ObamaCare's employer mandate created new incentives for employers to restrict workers to fewer than 30 hours per week." In "ObamaCare Pushes Low-Wage Workweek To Record Low," by Jed Graham, Investors, 6 September 2013.

 

Addendum of The United States' Justice Department In Competence:  "Nine of 10 Louisiana children who receive vouchers to attend private schools are black. All are poor and, if not for the state assistance, would be consigned to low-performing or failing schools with little chance of learning the skills they will need to succeed as adults. So it’s bewildering, if not downright perverse, for the Obama administration to use the banner of civil rights to bring a misguided suit that would block these disadvantaged students from getting the better educational opportunities they are due." In "Justice Department bids to trap poor, black children in ineffective schools," by Editorial Board, Washington Post, 1 September 2013.

 

Addendum of India In Competence:  "What’s so important about India’s economic problems? It’s more what they tell us about the state of the country than the severity of the problems themselves. The stock market jitters, the currency crash, the GDP slowdown and the government deficit aren’t enough in themselves to sink India. All economies go through rough patches every now and then, but the question isn’t about a downturn. The question is whether the Indian political system has what it takes to get the economy back on track. Two horrible things happened in India this week: an inept government reeling from serial corruption scandals and mounting evidence of economic failure pushed two bad bills towards enactment. There’s a wasteful “food security law” that will do much more to nourish India’s rich world of government corruption than to help the poor on a sustainable basis, and a poorly designed “land reform” law that could be even more crippling." In "Why Syria Isn’t the Big Story This Week," by Walter Russell Mead, American Interest, 31 August 2013.    [ 4 ]

 

Addendum in Green Policy In Competence:   "Of the $595 million identified by Labor as having been appropriated or allocated specifically for green jobs activities since 2009, approximately $501 million went toward efforts with training and support services as their primary objective, with much of that funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act)." In "Labor’s Green Jobs Efforts Highlight Challenges of Targeted Training Programs for Emerging Industries," from "Report to Congressional Requesters," United States Government Accountability Office,
June 2013.   
[ 5 ]

 

Addendum of Farm Policy In Competence:  "California farmers feel more threatened by climate policy than they do by climate change, according to a new study from the University of California, Davis. The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, found that the greatest climate risk Yolo County farmers believe they face in the future is not drought, water shortages, or temperature changes, but government regulations." In "Policies worry farmers more than climate change, says new study," Phys.org, 11 September 2013.

 

Addendum of Peronista In Competence:   "Argentina’s artificially overvalued currency is one of an array of economic problems facing Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, president. Others include stubbornly high inflation, state subsidies that are sapping resources, and an abysmal business climate that has seen investment all but dry up." In "Risk of default adds to woes for Argentina’s Fernández," by Benedict Mander, Financial Times, 16 September 2013.    [ 6 ]

 

Addendum of an Economic Advisor In Competence:  "The aim was to smother the selected villages with help and jump-start them into self-sufficiency. ...convinced the models would be so successful that the world would be morally forced to fund the expansion of his plan throughout Africa. He was fuelled by the profound conviction that the world can be changed for the better – and that he was right and everybody else was wrong. What he forgot was the human factor. It turns out that people are not always rational. They don’t always do what’s in their own best interests, even when the benefits are completely clear to a development economist." In "How Jeffrey Sachs failed to save Africa," by Margaret Wente, The Globe and Mail, 21 September 2013.

 

Addendum of Political Bankruptcy In Competence:  "The argument? The Republicans who have brought Washington to stillstand [ sic ] are repeatedly and democratically elected by voters and given a mandate to block. The parties themselves are fomenting an increasingly radicalized culture that deepens political, societal and geographic divisions in the country, argues the newspaper. And finally, there are few politicians in America who are willing or capable of thinking beyond their own electoral constituencies. 'At the moment, Washington is fighting over the budget and nobody knows if the county will still be solvent in three weeks,' the paper concludes. 'What is clear, though, is that America is already politically bankrupt'." In "Shutdown Spectacle: 'America Is Already Politically Bankrupt'," by Charly Wilder, Spiegel International, 2 October 2013.   [ 7 ]

 

 Addendum of Inadvertent In Competence:   "North Carolina health officials said Friday that they had inadvertently disclosed the personal information of tens of thousands of children receiving Medicaid coverage, but were tight-lipped about precisely what caused the massive privacy breach. The state Department of Health and Human Services issued a written release saying that new Medicaid cards for nearly 49,000 children were mailed on Dec. 30 to the wrong people. The information on the cards includes the children’s names, Medicaid identification numbers, dates of birth and the names of their primary care doctors — personal medical data that is supposed to be tightly protected under federal law." In "49,000 NC Medicaid Cards Mailed To Wrong Addresses," CBS Charlotte, 4 January 2014.

 

Addendum of Disconnected In Competence:   "...citizens who seek a fair hearing to have an innocent, HealthCare.gov-generated mistake corrected to fill out a seven-page paper form that is then inexplicably shipped to Kentucky, where it is entered into a government database that isn’t actually connected to anything. It’s a digital dead end for those who dare to complain. Typical. As a result, 22,000 Americans who have submitted an appeals request remain without proper coverage and they have no recourse. And, according to The Post, in the latest show of non-transparency from this administration, officials have 'not made public the fact that the appeals system for the online marketplace is not working.' There is 'no indication that infrastructure . . . necessary for conducting informal reviews and fair hearings had even been created, let alone become operational,' and administration officials are refusing to give any information as to when the appeals process might start moving. This is an administration that wants to hide things rather than fix things." In "The Insiders: Obamacare – The incompetence and denials keep coming," by Ed Rogers, Washington Post, 3 February 2014.

 

Addendum of Chavismo In Competence:   "Both sides tend to view each other with a hatred fostered by Marxist talk of class war. More fundamentally, most of Venezuela’s problems stem from incompetence and corruption from within chavismo itself. Dialogue cannot mend that. It is all a sad reflection of the dream that Chávez once held out. With characteristic generosity of spirit, even if paid for by Venezuela’s oil wealth, he wanted to build a shining citadel on the hill, with justice for all. Since then, there has been social improvement but little justice, and less shining. Venezuela has instead become a malandro, or hoodlum, nation, that only other thuggish states admire." In "Venezuela: the ‘malandro’ nation," Financial Times Editorial, 4 March 2014.

 

Addendum of Acceptable Waste - a Government In Competence:   "The reality is that federal spending has grown too massive to be adequately overseen, and the resultant waste, fraud, and abuse squanders public
resources and undermines trust in government
." In "The Federal Government Makes $100 Billion a Year in Improper Welfare Payments," by Veronique de Rugy, National Review, 18 February 2014.

 

Addendum of Medical Care for the Dead:   "The Illinois Medicaid program paid an estimated $12 million for medical services for people listed as deceased in other state records, according to an internal state government memo. The memo dated Friday, which The Associated Press obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, says the state auditor compared clients enrolled in the Medicaid database with state death records dating back to 1970. Auditors identified overpayments for services to roughly 2,900 people after the date of their deaths." In "Medicaid paid $12M for Illinois dead, audit finds," Chicago Tribune-Review, 18 April 2014.

 

Addendum of Money Rolling Out the Door:    "A lot of the time, Medicare was fooled. The government paid. Since 1999, Medicare has spent $8.2 billion to procure power wheelchairs and 'scooters' for 2.7 million people. Today, the government cannot even guess at how much of that money was paid out to scammers. Now, the golden age of the wheelchair scam is probably over. But, while it lasted, the scam illuminated a critical failure point in the federal bureaucracy: Medicare’s weak defenses against fraud. The government knew how the wheelchair scheme worked in 1998. But it wasn’t until 15 years later that officials finally did enough to significantly curb the practice." In "A Medicare scam that just kept rolling," by David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 16 August 2014. 

 

Addendum of Government Payments In Competence:   "By its own estimate, the government made about $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them - tax credits to families that didn't qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary. Congressional investigators say the figure could be even higher." In "Government made $100B in improper payments," by Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press, 9 July 2014.

 

Addendum of Subsidies Paid In Competence:   "The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office was to tell a House committee on Wednesday that its investigators were able to get subsidized health care under fake names in 11 out of 18 attempts. The GAO is still paying premiums for the policies, even as the Obama administration attempts to verify phony documentation. Those additional checks appeared to need tightening; the GAO said parts of the fake documentation it submitted for two applications actually got verified." In "Agents get subsidized 'Obamacare' using fake IDs," Associated Press, 23 July 2014.

 

Addendum of French Railway In Competence:   "France's national railway operator SNCF has ordered 2,000 new trains that are too large for many of the stations they are due to serve. The train operator has admitted failing to verify measurements it was given by the rail operator before ordering its new rolling stock. The costly mistake has sparked an urgent €50m operation to modify 1,300 platforms on the regional network. SNCF has admitted that one in six regional train stations is affected. In the worst cases it has discovered two trains can no longer pass each other on adjacent lines." In "French railway operator SNCF orders hundreds of new trains that are too big," by Kim Willsher, Guardian UK, 21 May 2014.

 

Addendum of Community Redevelopment In Competence:   "City officials spent as much as $537,000 per home renovating 30 houses under a federal program to fight blight only to sell most for less than $100,000 apiece, a Detroit News investigation has found. The Detroit Land Bank transformed eyesores — some that were rotting and burned — into gleaming gems, with glass-tiled bathrooms, stainless steel appliances, underground sprinkler systems and even $35,000 geothermal heating in a few. The goal was to entice middle-class families into East English Village and Boston Edison to strengthen the neighborhoods. But as the land bank works to sell the last three homes in the program that began in 2011, even some buyers say the costs are outrageous for a bankrupt city. Susan Hanafee was shocked to learn from The Detroit News that $430,000 was spent on the three-story Boston Edison home she bought last year for $80,000." In "Detroit spends $8.7 million to flip 30 homes that bring in $2 million," by Christine MacDonald, Detroit News, 29 May 2014.

 

Addendum of Social Security In Competence:   "After spending nearly $300 million on a new computer system to handle disability claims, the Social Security Administration still can't get it to work. And officials can't say when it will." In "Social Security's $300M IT project doesn't work," Associated Press, 24 July 2014.

 

Addendum of Losing Track of Guns In Competence:   "The Pentagon has been unable to locate more than 40 percent of the firearms it has provided to Afghan security forces at a cost of $626 million, according to a report by a government oversight agency made public Monday. The report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) states that the Defense Department's two information systems that track weapons sent to Afghanistan are full of errors." In "Report says Pentagon has lost track of thousands of firearms given to Afghan forces," FOX News, 28 July 2014.

 

Addendum of Manipulating Public Data In Competence:   "Roughly half the schedulers at multiple Veterans Affairs hospitals said they received instructions from supervisors to falsify data and hide the true time it took patients to be seen by a doctor after making an appointment, new details from an internal VA audit show. Schedulers said supervisors directed them to manipulate information so their centers could meet performance goals, which would help top officials get bonuses, according to documents obtained by CNN." In "More VA employees said they were told to falsify data, by Curt Devine, Meredith Turk and Scott Bronstein, CNN, 29 July 2014.

 

 Addendum of Transparent Losses:   "A government website intended to make federal spending more transparent was missing at least $619 billion from 302 federal programs, a government audit has found. And the data that does exist is wildly inaccurate, according to the Government Accountability Office, which looked at 2012 spending data. Only 2% to 7% of spending data on USASpending.gov is 'fully consistent with agencies' records,' according to the report." In "$619 billion missed from federal transparency site," by Gregory Korte, USA Today, 5 August 2014.

 

Addendum of Military Acting In Competence:   "According to the National Priorities Project's CostOfWar.com, a website providing a running tally of the expense incurred by U.S. wars, the cost of the Iraq conflict is now nearly $801 billion. However, when medical and disability claims are included, as well as the cost of replacing equipment and weapons, economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes estimate the eventual cost of the war could be between $4 and $6 trillion, The Christian Science Monitor reports. Some of these funds include $20 billion spent annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to NPR. In addition, a recent report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting estimates that between $31 and $60 billion may have been lost to waste and fraud thanks to 'poor planning and payoffs' over the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan." In "Government Finally Accounts For $6 Billion Worth Of Lost Cash In Iraq," by Harry Bradford, Huffington Post, 27 October 2011.   [ 8 ]

 

Addendum of United States Government Personnel In Competence:   "Hackers stole Social Security numbers, health histories and other highly sensitive data from more than 21 million people, the Obama administration said Thursday, acknowledging that the breach of U.S. government computer systems was far more severe than previously disclosed. The scope of the data breach — believed to be the biggest in U.S. history — has grown dramatically since the government first disclosed earlier this year that hackers had gotten into the Office of Personnel Management's personnel database and stolen records for about 4.2 million people. Since then, the Obama administration has acknowledged a second, related breach of the systems housing private data that individuals submit during background investigations to obtain security clearances." In "US: More than 21 million affected by government data breach," by Jack Gillum and Josh Lederman, Associated Press, 9 July 2015.

 

Addendum of Environmental Protection In Competence:   "A spill that sent 1 million gallons of wastewater from an abandoned mine into the Animas River, turning the river orange, set off warnings Thursday that contaminants threaten water quality for those downstream. The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed it triggered the spill while using heavy machinery to investigate pollutants at the Gold King Mine, north of Silverton." In "Animas River fouled by 1 million gallons of contaminated mine water, EPA accidently releases water; Durango residents warned to cut back on water use as health officials evaluate river," by Jesse Paul and Bruce Finley, Denver Post, 6 August 2015.    [ 9 ]

 

Addendum of US Veterans' Care In Competence:   "The VA's inspector general found that out of about 800,000 records stalled in the agency's system for managing health care enrollment, there were more than 307,000 records that belonged to veterans who had died months or years in the past. The inspector general said due to limitations in the system's data, the number of records did not necessarily represent veterans actively seeking enrollment in VA health care." In "307,000 veterans may have died awaiting Veterans Affairs health care, report says," by Curt Devine, CNN, 3 September 2015.    [ 10 ]

 

Addendum of the Continuing European Union In Competence:   " The European Union misspent 6.3 billion euros ($6.8 billion) in 2014, the bloc's financial watchdog said on Tuesday, urging Brussels to make its unwieldy budget more responsive to shocks like the migration crisis." In "EU misspent over EUR 6 bn last year: watchdog," EUBusiness, 10 November 2015.

 

Addendum of Hoping to Suppress Embarrassing Audits:   "...the report, submitted to the European Commission in October 2015, was clearly not well received. Lack of evaluation and the huge costs of 23 projects, which allowed migrants getting back home to buy cows in Georgia, or set up pastry shops in Morocco, are the main focus of the report. The executive responded to the Court last autumn with comments so incendiary that they were 'unpublishable', making 'the whole report unintelligible for the reader', a well-informed source told EurActiv." In "Commission attempt to suppress EU immigration audit infuriates lawmakers," by Aline Robert translated by Samuel White, Euractiv, 1 February 2016.

 

Addendum of Lots of Empty Buildings:   "The federal government spends more than $1.7 billion a year to maintain 770,000 empty buildings while other agencies are leasing or buying new space, and Rep. Jeff Denham is fed up. 'This is something that hasn’t been handled in Republican or Democrat administrations because it’s too big of a bureaucracy,' Denham (R-Turlock) said in an interview in his office. 'There’s no incentive for the agencies to sell.' He said if politicians are going to talk about cutting government waste, selling empty buildings is a good start." In "The government spends $1.7 billion a year on 770,000 empty buildings, and one Central Valley congressman is fed up," by Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times, 3 March 2016.

 

Addendum of Lost Paperwork:   "The Obama administration set a record for the number of times its federal employees told disappointed citizens, journalists and others that despite searching they couldn't find a single page requested under the Freedom of Information Act, according to a new Associated Press analysis of government data. In more than one in six cases, or 129,825 times, government searchers said they came up empty-handed last year. Such cases contributed to an alarming measurement: People who asked for records under the law received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, also a record." In "US gov't sets record for failures to find files when asked," by Ted Bridis and Jack Gillum, Associated Press, 18 March 2016.

 

 Addendum of the Late 1800s:   "In the late 1800s, it took railroad companies six years to lay 1,907 miles of track for what was to become the Transcontinental Railroad (or as Barack Obama calls it, the Intercontinental Railroad). Building that railroad line required tunneling through mountains — at one foot a day — building bridges — including one that spanned 700 feet — and doing all the work almost entirely by hand. As best, it will now take seven years for California to lay 119 miles of track — on relatively flat ground in the middle of nowhere." In "California’s $64 Billion Bullet Train To Nowhere Gets Delayed … Again," by John Merline, Investors Business Daily, 24 May 2016.   [ 11 ]

 

See: For Your Common Good  - in the fat cat neighborhood

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]  "...government should create institutions that minimize transaction costs, so as to allow misallocations of resources to be corrected as cheaply as possible." And yet more often than not they do not, by reason of inability, outright refusal and the normal outcome of just plain unintended consequences. 

 

 Have Regard to the Total Effect

 

         Coase sums up his argument:  "It would clearly be desirable if the only actions performed were those in which what was gained was worth more than what was lost. But in choosing between social arrangements within the context of which individual decisions are made, we have to bear in mind that a change in the existing system which will lead to an improvement in some decisions may well lead to a worsening of others. Furthermore we have to take into account the costs involved in operating the various social arrangements (whether it be the working of a market or of a government department), as well as the costs involved in moving to a new system. In devising and choosing between social arrangements we should have regard for the total effect." Ronald Coase, in "The Problem of Social Cost," Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 3 (October 1960), University of Chicago Press.

         One need only then examine in a society where improvements are shown and whom they benefit, and compare this with worsening situations and whom such situations affect badly.

         Unsurprisingly each politician -- and each party enthusiast -- says it is the opposing candidate's or party's fault. An interesting challenge for further research would be to identify what politicians and which policies they have advocated have been responsible for "worsening."

         Or one can laugh aloud at the folly of expecting to find any population of political partisans who willingly confessed their errors in policy.

 

 Routine Mediocrity

 

         The awareness of incompetence as a likely normal facet of government itself has been made for decades, One reads:   "The best we get from government in the welfare state is competent mediocrity. More often we do not even get that; we get incompetence such as we would not tolerate in an insurance company. In every country, there are big areas of government administration where there is no performance whatever--only costs. This is true not only of the mess of the big cities, which no government -- United States, British, Japanese, or Russian --- has been able to handle. It is true in education. It is true in transportation. And the more we expand the welfare state, the less capable even of routine mediocrity does it seem to become." In "The Sickness of Government," Peter F. Drucker, National Affairs, Issue 14, Winter 1969.

         One finds a slow shift as incompetence is shown by a political party's lock on government. An example is a political endorsement, partisan of course, but what stands out behind the reasoning is simple evidence of incompetence, as one reads: "...cracks are showing in the edifice of state government itself. The Department of Children and Families, the Probation Department, the state crime lab, the board that regulates compounding pharmacies, the state Labor Department’s unemployment system, the Health Connector website — voters have come to know all these terms as shorthand for the kind of bureaucratic failures that make them doubt state government’s ability to help Massachusetts move forward. Effective activist government isn’t built on good intentions. To provide consistently good results, especially for the state’s most vulnerable and troubled residents, agencies need to focus on outcomes, learn from their errors, and preserve and replicate approaches that succeed." In "Charlie Baker for governor," Editorial Board, Boston Globe, 26 October 2014.

         The skeptic in me editorializes slightly differently; modern politicians are demonstrating ever more consistently that they are first interested in themselves, their perks and their acquisition of power and money. The bureaucracy beneath such leadership would naturally emulate this, which explains decades' long waste and ineffectiveness, especially in an entrenched clerisy focused first on itself, and therefore on political leadership which may say and promise anything with the most soaring rhetoric, but never really rock the ship of state.

         See the clarity of what is a very Fat, fat government  .

 

[ 2 ]   "I'd provide that any rule giving government officials -- whether elected, appointed, or members of the civil service -- preferential treatment compared to ordinary citizens would have to withstand 'strict scrutiny.' That is, I'd treat discrimination based on government employment status the same way we currently treat racial discrimination. To withstand strict scrutiny, a government action must serve a 'compelling government interest,' and must be narrowly tailored to serve that interest. And there must be no less restrictive means of achieving the same goal. That would be especially true where the distinctions -- special privileges relating to legal process, or the right to bear arms, for example -- parallel those enjoyed by the nobility in the Framing era. Applying this to distinctions between government employees and citizens would undoubtedly knock down a lot of those distinctions. But, in my opinion, that wouldn't be so bad. Frankly, our political class seems to have gotten a little full of itself." In "Stop privileges for government officials: Column, Politicians and police don't deserve special treatment," by Glenn Harlan Reynolds, USAToday, 26 August 2013.

         One notes that the Coase Theorem applies well here, as government at some levels and many times at many levels obviously involves "costs" and there become "social costs" as the number of middle men, bureaucrats, and functionaries inserted into any transaction cost the sides in such a transaction more, and then more as time and the expansion of middlemen continues, for all the reasons so often expounded by the middlemen themselves.  See:  Government Speaks  ,  and the simply-worded explanation of the Ratio    between public and private sectors of any economy. 

 

[ 3 ]   An example among too many examples of incompetence:  "A woman who embezzled $320,000 from a California state agency was later hired by the state's High-Speed Rail Authority -- and she says nobody asked about her background. Prosecutors say she embezzled from the Department of Child Support Services. In 2011, Moore was hired by the High-Speed Rail Authority. Her job  included making travel plans for officials. Her state job application didn't ask whether she'd been convicted of a crime and Moore says nobody asked her." In "Embezzler was hired by CA high-speed rail agency," San Francisco Chronicle, 29 August 2013.

 

 Public Servants Stealing

 

         Another:  "Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) of the Environment and Public Works Committee reacted, chastising EPA officials for complaining about the sequester cutting their agency's budget even though 'their own employees are stealing' from them': 'There appears to be corruption to the umpteenth degree,' Vitter said. 'I think it's appalling that Administrator McCarthy and former acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe could claim that sequester is depriving the agency of important resources when in fact their own employees are stealing from the government. It's clear that further investigations are necessary, and at the appropriate time we'll need answers - a whole lot of answers'." In "EPA Employee Charged with Stealing $886,186 Since 2000," by Craig Bannister, CNS, 23 August 2013.

         One notes that a back story to each of these and so many more stories of incompetence, there are career bureaucrats who have failed simply and repeatedly to act in the public's best interest.

         It becomes obvious that corruption violates criminal law, but also that it adds to the ineffectiveness of government, doing the inverse of that which Coase recommends, that is to "minimize transaction costs, so as to allow misallocations of resources to be corrected as cheaply as possible." But as is so often the case with governance, it is just politics and debt.  See:  Politics    and  Debt  - you bet!

 

[ 4 ]    The article states a basic truth about what government becomes:  "The paternalistic state, theoretically devoted to the welfare of poor farmers, is staffed by very human and often very venal officials. Business interests wanting to develop land can bribe politicians and officials to get the government to force land sales; a system established to protect the poor is easily perverted into the instrument of their destruction. As a result, the business of land sales for economic development in India often degenerates into an unholy mess. NGOs, farmer organizations, corrupt officials, desperate farmers, families with conflicting claims and many other parties get caught up in struggles that can go on for years. Sometimes violent rebel groups get involved in land controversies, and even in their absence these battles can turn violent as farmers fight desperately to hold onto the only security they know. What makes these struggles even more bitter at times is the knowledge on the farmers’ part that the bureaucrats aren’t giving them the full and fair price for the land. Like their counterparts in China, Indian officials and politicians see the gap between the price paid by investors and the price paid to farmers as a revenue source that both supports local government and in some cases lines the pockets of local officials."

 

[ 5 ]   Incompetence? $501 million for "training and support services" / $595 million total = 84.4 % of "Recovery and Reinvestment" went to "training and support services," or additional "social costs" in the sense as given us by the Coase Theorem and imposed by government fiat.  No new infrastructure there. No long-term "shovel-ready jobs." Not even permanent "green jobs." Just "training and support services," whatever that means. This was the inverse of minimizing "transaction costs, so as to allow misallocations of resources to be corrected as cheaply as possible." One half-billion dollars for "training and services?" In competence? Of course.  See:  Doing the math  .

 

[ 6 ]    As to government incompetence in Argentina, one reads further:  "President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who said May 6 that the government wouldn’t devalue the peso, is struggling to hold onto dollar reserves which have fallen 31 percent to $29.4 billion amid annual inflation of more than 28 percent. Reserves are the government’s only source to pay foreign creditors. Since changing her economy minister, cabinet chief and the head of the central bank on Nov. 18, the peso has fallen 25 percent, the most in the world, according to data compiled by Bloomberg." In "Argentina Devaluation Sends Currency Tumbling Most in 12 Years," by Katia Porzecanski, Bloomberg, 23 January 2014.

 

[ 7 ]    It it worth reviewing the quote cited often but not often enough:  “The whole government is a Ponzi scheme.” Quote of Bernie Madoff, in "The Madoff Tapes," by Steve Fishman, New York Magazine, 27 February 2011.  See:  Sam?  - the Debtor Man.

         But more than "politically bankrupt," real coming bankruptcies are now being seen which have been obscured by government.

 

 Huge Liabilities - Surprise!

 

         One reads:   "The nation’s state public employee pensions combine for an underfunded ratio of 39 percent – or $4.1 trillion – according to a new report that uses more stringent accounting practices similar to ones taking effect this year. Illinois pensions combine for a national low of just 24 percent funded while Wisconsin plans are the healthiest – just 57 percent funded – according to a report released Tuesday by State Budget Solutions, a nonpartisan nonprofit with the mission of reforming governments’ approach to budgeting. The liabilities, which indicate the strain the pensions payments are placing on state finances, were calculated according to the 15-year Treasury bond yield of 3.2 percent (as of Aug. 21). It’s a far more conservative rate of return than the 7-to-8-percent over 20 or 30 years commonly used by most governments in their financial reports. Rounding out the bottom five after Illinois ($287 billion in total unfunded liabilities) are: Connecticut (25 percent funded; $77 billion in unfunded liabilities), Kentucky (27 percent funded; $71 billion in unfunded liabilities) and Kansas (29 percent funded; $33 billion in unfunded liabilities). Mississippi ($49 billion in unfunded liabilities), New Hampshire ($14 billion) and Alaska ($24 billion) are all tied at 30 percent funded." In "New Era of Pension Finance Shows Huge Liabilities for States," by Liz Farmer, Governing, 4 September 2013.

         New era of pension finance? As in the end stage of a Ponzi scheme collapse, the amount of income necessary to obscure the outgo fails, and a curve of collapse ensues. Slowly at first, and progressing into a final catastrophic moment.

         For one state alone, one learns of numerical realities which political action has attempted to hide. As with all Ponzi schemes, the books are cooked so that the suckers are never given an even break.

 

 Using Accurate Numbers for the First Time?

 

         One reads:   "This January, for the first time, CalPERS is being forced to give an honest accounting of it books. Thanks to State Budget Solutions, we now know that CalPERS will report an unfunded liability of $640,000,000 ($640 BILLION). It is funded at a rate of 42%." In "California UnFunded Pension Liability Now $640,000,000,000—Using Accurate Numbers for First Time," by Stephen Frank, California Political News, 4 September 2013.

         For examples of why this is happening, see:   Fat cats richly rich of late - a comparative and sourced criticism of the nouveau "fair share" folks.

 

[ 8 ]   That article comes from 2011. Time passes in competence....

         One reads further as time passes:  "In all, $6 billion are missing and it’s highly unlikely any of the money will ever be recovered. The cash was supposed to be used to pay contractors but it just disappeared and documents that could help track the dough cannot be located. How convenient! The paper trail, which federal law says must be maintained in the case of government contracts, has been destroyed or was never created to begin with. How could this possibly happen? Like a lot of government agencies, outside contracts are a free-for-all at the State Department with virtually no oversight." In "$6 Bil Vanishes From State Dept. Under Hillary Clinton," Judicial Watch, 7 April 2014.

 

 Unable to Account

 

         And further:  "The U.S. Army lost nearly half of a billion dollars-worth of equipment in Afghanistan, a new report from the military’s watchdog says. Late last week the Department of Defense’s Inspector General published the summary of an audit report it conducted for fiscal year 2013 and said that the 401st Army Field Support Brigade 'did not report in a timely manner 15,600 pieces of missing equipment valued at approximately $419.5 million'." In "Army Lost Nearly $420M-Worth of Equipment in Afghanistan," by Lee Ferran, ABC News, 4 November 2014.

         And yet further:   "The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials." In "Pentagon loses track of $500 million in weapons, equipment given to Yemen," by Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, 17 March 20015.

         By the end of the sixth year of the Nobel Peace Prize recipient's administration, war continues. Bombing sorties in Iraq. Drone attacks throughout the Middle East. Massive amounts of funds disappearing in competence....

         Consider the question for "liberal" America in 2015:  A Modern Observation on The Anti-War Movement  - "Where have all the critics gone, long time passing?"

 

[ 9 ]     The competence of the environmental protectors comes into question, according to other environmental protectors.

 

 Can't Be Known?

 

          "Environmental officials in New Mexico on Friday chastised the Environmental Protection Agency for their slow notification of a mine wastewater release in southwestern Colorado heading for their state. New Mexico's environment secretary, Ryan Flynn, told The Associated Press on Friday that the EPA downplayed the danger the contamination posed to wildlife, saying that potential harm can't be known until the contents of the wastewater and their concentrations are known." In "New Mexico officials chastise EPA as wastewater in Animas River heads their way, State's environment secretary says EPA downplayed water's danger," by Jesse Paul, Denver Post, 7 August 2015.

          The Environmental Protection Agency says of its own error, "potential harm can't be known until the contents of the wastewater and their concentrations are known" in a river flowing on to new destinations as the "potential harm can't be known until...." The budget is about $8 billion, and the bureaucrats in competence are paid to know, one might imagine.

 

[ 10 ]    Just wait.....

 

[ 11 ]  In a simple visualization of modern government's incompetence, one takes the actual number of miles of track reported above to compare what was accomplished by hand in the late 1800s in less time than California's boondoggle of today.

 

 

 

          If California's state government is as "progressive" as the politicians say it is in their political jargon, what does the word "progress" mean when so little progress in the modern day is compared to the enormous achievement using antiquated technology of over a century ago? Objectively, government has regressed in its ability to accomplish such a project, as it has progressed into having no shame in being so demonstrably regressive. At least the Lying continues -  government flexing its sinews.

 


 

A Countdown Song - counting upwards to down

"From the first I heard of this I could never understand how any fool could think one could add fifteen bureaucrats between a man and his doctor and reduce costs." A comment to an article titled "NBC News: Negative Obamacare Effects 'From Maine to California'," by Guy Benson, Townhall, 14 August 2013.


Put one bureaucrat between,
 and the costs rise up unseen.
Put two bureaucrats between
  and the numbers start to beam.
Put three bureaucrats between
   and they rake the sweetest cream.
Put four bureaucrats between
    and the costs begin to teem.
Put more bureaucrats between
     and those costs become obscene.
Put enough bureaucrats between,
      and prosperity's a downward dream.

 

 Envoi:  "The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, / Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit, / Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, / Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."  In "Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám," Omar Khayyám (1048-1131) in the translation of Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883)

 

Addendum of the Law:  "The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people - and especially of government - always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended. Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it." In "Unintended Consequences," by Rob Norton (n.d.), Library of Economics and Liberty.

 

Addendum of Causing Havoc:  "Lawmakers who interfere with commerce and the normal creation of jobs in an economy run the risk of doing harm rather than good. Unintended consequences from regulating or legislating to achieve a goal can occur and cause havoc in the markets or an economy." Mark Skousen (b. 1947)

 

Addendum of an Efficient Solution Ignored:  "...the transaction costs eat away, and ultimately eclipse, the price signals that would have led to the most efficient distribution of resources. In cases like these with potentially high transaction costs, the law ought to produce an outcome similar to what would result if the transaction costs were eliminated. Hence courts should be guided by the most efficient solution." In "The Problem of Social Cost." Wikipedia.

 

Addendum of the Transaction Costs:   "The letter bringing the news the president told me would never come arrived in Thursday's mail. It said, in part, 'Among other things, these (Affordable Care Act) requirements will cause your benefits to change to include federally-mandated Essential Health Benefits. Since your current benefit plan does not conform to these new mandates, your current health plan will cease upon your anniversary date.' There it was, in black and white, notification that I would not be able to keep my current health care plan – whether I liked it or not." In " 'Obama Lied, My Heath Care Died'," by Peter Roff, US News and World Report, 11 October 2013.

 

Addendum on the Faith:   "It is often said that mankind needs a faith if the world is to be improved. In fact, unless the faith is vigilantly and regularly checked by a sense of man's fallibility, it is likely to make the world worse. From Torquemada to Robespierre and Hitler the men who have made mankind suffer the most have been inspired to do so have been inspired to do so by a strong faith; so strong that it led them to think their crimes were acts of virtue necessary to help them achieve their aim, which was to build some sort of an ideal kingdom on earth." David Cecil, in "Library Looking-Glass: A Personal Anthology," Harper Collins, 1977.

 

Addendum As the World Turns:   "It seems Nancy Pelosi was wrong when she said 'we have to pass' ObamaCare to 'find out what's in it.' No one may ever know because the White House keeps treating the Affordable Care Act's text as a mere suggestion subject to day-to-day revision. Its latest political retrofit is the most brazen: President Obama is partly suspending the individual mandate. The White House argued at the Supreme Court that the insurance-purchase mandate was not only constitutional but essential to the law's success, while refusing Republican demands to delay or repeal it. But late on Thursday, with only four days to go before the December enrollment deadline, the Health and Human Services Department decreed that millions of Americans are suddenly exempt." In "Obama Repeals ObamaCare," Wall Street Journal, 20 December 2013.

 

Addendum of Premium Increases:  "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told House Ways and Means Committee members on Wednesday that she expects health insurance rates to increase as the Affordable Care Act takes full effect. 'I think premiums are likely to go up,' she conceded under questioning, 'but go up at a slower pace' than they have already under Obamacare. President Obama famously promised in 2008 and 2009 that his health insurance overhaul plan would lower the cost of health care for an average family by $2,500 per year." In "Sebelius admits Obamacare will raise health insurance premiums in 2015 and tells Congress to expect 'no delay beyond March 31' for the individual mandate," by David Martosko, Daily Mail UK, 12 March 2014.

 

Addendum of Meeting the Metrics:   "Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, hospital pay is becoming increasingly linked to quality metrics rather than the traditional fee-for-service model where hospitals were paid based on their numbers of tests or procedures." In "Hospitals Soon See Donuts-to-Cigarette Charges for Health," by Shannon Pettypiece and Jordan Robertson, Bloomberg, 26 July 2014.

 

 Addendum of a Democrat Governor's Admission:     "Gov. Mark Dayton made a stunning admission on Wednesday about rising health insurance costs and the future of MNsure. 'Ultimately I’m not trying to pass the buck here but the reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable,' Dayton said." In "Gov. Dayton Declares Affordable Care Act 'No Longer Affordable'," by Jennifer Mayerle, CBS Minnesota, 12 October 2016.

 

Addendum of the It:   'It Is What It Is' is an idiomatic phrase, indicating the immutable nature of an object or circumstance. (Wikipedia)

AN ORDERLY, TICKING TIMELINE

 but first some markers....

 

a)   2008 -- "Obama says his health care plan will garner large savings – $120 billion a year, or $2,500 per family – with more than half coming from the use of electronic health records. And he says he’ll make that happen in his first term. We find his statements to be overly optimistic, misleading and, to some extent, contradicted by one of his own advisers. And it masks the true cost of his plan to cover millions of Americans who now have no health insurance." In "Obama’s Inflated Health 'Savings'," FactCheck.org, 16 June 2008.

 

b)    2009 --  "In fact, one of our core principles is that if you like the health care you have, you can keep it." Sen. Harry Reid, Congressional Record, S.8642, 3 August 2009.

 

c)   2010 -- " 'Staffers who draft legislation, staff the debates and were behind closed doors merging the bills are exempt from the health-care reform they helped to pass,' said Jill Kozeny, a spokeswoman for Grassley." In "Problem over health coverage for Capitol Hill is resolved," by Jerry Markon, Washington Post, 21 April 2010.

        Three years later one reads:  "...in New York City, a family of 3 with household income of $80,000 will be required to pay a whopping $12,784 for the second cheapest silver plan with a $3,000 deductible. This family won’t be eligible for a tax credit. Washington says $12,784 is 'affordable' for them. But not for a member of Congress with more than double that income. Under the scheme the lawmakers are pushing, they would have to pay only $3,193 for the same plan. Nothing in the Affordable Care Act allows this break for members of Congress and their staff. But for weeks, lawmakers from both parties — who can agree on nothing else — have been conspiring to weasel out of paying what the public has to pay. On this one issue, Republicans and Democrats are thick as thieves." In "Congress Exempts Itself From the Law," by Betsy McCaughey, American Spectator, 7 August 2013.

 

d)   2010 -- "You've heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don't know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention—it's about diet, not diabetes. It's going to be very, very exciting. But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy." Nancy Pelosi, a quote of 9 March 2010, in "The Ghost of Gaffes Past," by David Weigel, Slate, 27 December 2010.

 

e)    2011 -- "In first selling the plan to Congress, President Obama said that "no one" who liked their current plan would be dumped into a subsidized insurance market by their employers." In "Report: Nearly a Third of Companies Could Cut Health Insurance," by Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic, 7 June 2011.

 

....5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 and ....
 

2013 -  " 'It's just not affordable for employees...." In "Restaurant Chains Cut Estimates for Health-Law Costs," by Scott Thurm, Wall Street Journal, 27 March 2013.

        "When the final diagnosis is done, Obamacare may have nasty side-effects." In "Will Obamacare destroy jobs?" The Economist, 21 April 2013.

        " '...the burden on the city would be tremendous." In "Dearborn Cuts Hours of Part-Time City Employees as Obamacare Provisions Go Into Effect," by Daniel Lai, The Patch Dearborn, 7 May 2013;    "... limit the hours students work during summer and winter breaks to exempt them from qualifying for an OU health care plan under a provision of the Affordable Care Act." In "University cuts student work hours to prevent health insurance costs," by Sara Jerde, The Post, Ohio University, 14 May 2013.

        "...restrictions will make non-profit plans like ours unsustainable, and will undermine the health-care market of viable alternatives to the big health insurance companies." In a letter to "Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi," by James P. Hoffa, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Joseph Hansen, UFCW and D. Taylor, UNITE-HERE, published as "Union Letter: Obamacare Will ‘Destroy The Very Health and Wellbeing’ of Workers," by Tom Gara, Wall Street Journal, 12 July 2013.

        "Shipping giant UPS is the latest large company to point to Obamacare as it cuts employee health benefits." In "UPS cites Obamacare in cutting benefits to spouses," by Bruce Kennedy, MSN, 22 August 2013.
         "A recently-leaked letter from Delta Air Lines to the Obama administration states that the 'cost of providing health care to our employees will increase by nearly $100,000,000 next year,' much of it due to Obamacare." In "Delta Air Lines: Next Year, Our Health Care Costs Will Increase By 'Nearly $100 Million'," by Avik Roy, Forbes, 22 August 2013.

        "...a large number of single people between the ages 18-34 who do not have children have a substantial financial incentive not to 'cross-subsidize' older, sicker Americans covered under the health care system. Without the younger generation purchasing through the exchanges, the exchanges will quickly dry up." In "Study: 'Obamacare' Will Lead To Health Insurance 'Death Spiral'," CBS DC, 25 August 2013.

        "...the reform's rules and requirements will be rolling out through at least 2020. That’s good news for lobbyists who want to sign up clients for the long haul." In "ObamaCare's architects reap windfall as Washington lobbyists," by Megan R. Wilson, The Hill, 25 August 2013. 

        "U.S. officials have said repeatedly that the marketplaces, which are the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law, would begin on time." In "U.S. delays deadline for finalizing Obamacare health plans," by David Morgan and Caroline Humer, Reuters, 28 August 2013.     [ 1 ]

        "Aetna Inc, the No. 3 U.S. health insurer, said on Thursday it has decided not to sell insurance on New York's individual health insurance exchange, part of the country's healthcare reform." In "Aetna pulls out of New York health insurance exchange," Reuters via Yahoo, 29 August 2013.

         "...federal officials dumped another 300 pages of Obamacare rules on states and insurers just last week. 'How the heck can anyone (individuals, carriers, businesses) make any plans and stay compliant if they issue a rule just one month before it takes effect?' independent insurance agent Robert Slayton in Naperville said to us. Good question." In "Editorial: What will Obamacare cost in Illinois?" Chicago Tribune, 1 September 2013.    [ 2 ]

         "Time Warner Inc is planning to transfer its U.S. retirees from company-sponsored health plans and move them to private insurance exchanges." In "Time Warner to move retirees to health care exchanges," Reuters, 8 September 2013.

         "After extending health care coverage to many of its part-time employees for years, Trader Joe's has told workers who log fewer than 30 hours a week that they will need to find insurance on the Obamacare exchanges next year, according to a confidential memo from the grocer's chief executive." In "Trader Joe's To Drop Health Coverage For Part-Time Workers Under Obamacare: Memo," by Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post, 11 September 2013.

         "Graduate students at IU have also fallen victim to Obamacare, as the university will be limiting the number of hours they can work to keep them under the 30-hour threshold as well." In "Indiana University Lays of 50 Workers Because of Obamacare," by Sterling Beard, WRTV-Indiana via National Review, 12 September 2013.

         "Labor leaders have complained for months that without the subsidies, the Affordable Care Act would drive up the cost of some union plans, leading employers to drop coverage and jeopardizing health coverage for millions of union members." In "White House: No Subsidies for Union Health Plans," by Samuel Hananel, Time, 13 September 2013.

         "To hold down premiums, major insurers in California have sharply limited the number of doctors and hospitals available to patients in the state's new health insurance market opening Oct. 1." In "Insurers limiting doctors, hospitals in health insurance market," by Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 14 September 2013.    [ 3 ]

         "A funny thing happened a couple of months ago: labor leaders finally awoke from their coma and realized that Obamacare was not only bad for unions, but for working families in general." In "Labor Leaders, Obamacare and the Fate of the Unions," by Shamus Cooke, Workers Action, in Truth Out, 15 September 2013.

         "...this is becoming a major drain on state and local finances, arguably more important than more-widely-discussed problems with public employee pensions. But Obamacare will give states and cities a major out. Instead of providing health care to under-65 retirees, they can tell them to go buy health plans in the Obamacare exchanges." In "Obamacare Is Secretly A Bailout Of State And Local Governments," by Josh Barro, Business Insider, 17 September 2013.

         "...boom times for what might be called an Obamacare cottage industry, providing work for dozens of former administration and mostly Democratic Congressional officials whose immersion in health policy minutiae, and friendships, make them invaluable to private business." In "Reaping Profit After Assisting on Health Law," by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, NYTimes, 17 September 2013.    [ 4 ]

         Home Depot is transferring roughly 20,000 part-time workers to the taxpayer-funded Obamacare exchanges, marking another step in the nationwide rollout of President Barack Obama’s most prized accomplishment. 'Unfortunately, the ACA [Affordable Care Act] precludes us from offering the limited liability medical plan we’ve been offering the part-time associates,' said Stephen Holmes, the company’s director of corporate communications." In "Home Depot sends 20,000 employees into Obamacare," by Neil Munro, Daily Caller, 19 September 2013.

         "Critics of the provision argue the 30-hour mark for 'full-time' employees will cause some businesses to reduce the hours of their workers to fewer than 30. That way, they won't be considered full-time employees and their employers won't be required to offer them health care insurance. 'Numerous employers have begun to cut workers' hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly,' Teamsters president James Hoffa wrote in the letter." In "Pelosi 'optimistic' about fixing some labor worries in Obamacare," by Ashley Killough, CNN, 22 September 2013.

         "Most employers help out with those costs, but not all. 'We saw this two-and-a-half years ago and thought, 'Has anyone else noticed this?' said Kosali Simon, a professor of public affairs at Indiana University who specializes in health economics. 'Everyone said, 'No, no. You must be wrong.' But we weren't, and that's going to leave a lot of people out'." In "'Family glitch' in health law could be painful," by Kelly Kennedy, USA Today, 23 September 2013.

         "My premium, the letter added, would go from $209 a month to $348, a 66.5 percent increase that will cost $1,668 annually." In "Study: Insurance costs to soar under Obamacare," by Kathy Kristof, CBS Money Watch, 26 September 2013.

         "Milwaukee County would end health insurance coverage for some or all of its 4,400 employees and instead provide a subsidy toward individual coverage purchased through the new federal exchanges, under an idea floated in County Executive Chris Abele's 2014 budget." In "Proposal in 2014 budget could save $10 million," by Steve Schultze and Guy Boulton, Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, 1 October 2014. 

         "Rampant fraud on a New York City contract last year didn’t stop a major nonprofit from landing a slew of federal contracts to sign people up for ObamaCare." In "Fraud firm gets OK to sign people up for ObamaCare," by Leonard Greene, NYPost, 1 October 2013.

         "Obamacare is expected to increase patient demand for medical services. Combine that with a worsening shortage of doctors, and next year you may have to wait a little longer to get a doctor's appointment. And the crowded emergency room may become even more so." In "Doctor shortage, increased demand could crash health care system," by Jen Christensen, CNN, 3 October 2013.

         "...in order to qualify for subsidies in South Carolina, she needs to get above the poverty line, and she is not quite there. Yvonne and an estimated 7 million others now find themselves in a coverage gap." In "Obamacare's coverage gap: The poor caught in between," by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, 4 October 2013.

         "...Obamacare has led to increased costs for businesses, municipal governments, and colleges all over the country." In "Obama’s hometown government proposes dumping 400 part-timers from health plan," by Michel Volpe, Daily Caller, 8 October 2013.

         "Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, '40 to 67 percent' of customers will not be able to keep their policy." In "Obama administration knew millions could not keep their health insurance," Lisa Myers and Hannah Rappleye, NBC News, 29 October 2013.

 

  

Detail from a federal PPACA "cartoon" style pamphlet for the public, repeating the "you can keep your current policy" lie.

  

         "If Americans are allowed too much discretion over how they spend their health-care dollars, Mrs. Clinton said, 'We just think people will be too focused on saving money and they won't get the care for their children and themselves that they need . . . The money has to go to the federal government because the federal government will spend that money better'." In "The Outrage Arrives," Business World editorial, Wall Street Journal, 29 October 2013.

         "...according to the latest annual Kaiser Family Foundation employee health benefits survey. Premiums for employer-provided family coverage rose $3,065 — 24% — from 2008 to 2012, the Kaiser survey found. Even if you start counting in 2009, premiums have climbed $2,370." In "Health Premiums Up $3,065; Obama Vowed $2,500 Cut," Yahoo Finance, 24 September 2013.

         "...the redistribution of wealth has always been a central feature of the law and lies at the heart of the insurance market disruptions driving political attacks this fall. 'Americans want a fair and fixed insurance market,' said Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who advised Mr. Obama’s team as it designed the law. 'You cannot have that without some redistribution away from a small number of people'." In "Don’t Dare Call the Health Law 'Redistribution'," by John Harwood, New York Times, 23 November 2013.

         "Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it." In "With Affordable Care Act, Canceled Policies for New York Professionals," by Anemona Hartocollis, New York Times, 13 December 2013.

         " 'Everybody was thinking that Obamacare was going to come in with more affordable rates. Well, they’re not more affordable'." In "New Health Law Frustrates Many in Middle Class," by Katie Thomas Reed Abelson and Jo Craven McGinty, New York Times, 20 December 2013.

         "Obamacare as written is already gone, dismantled by its namesake. Obamacare itself has not, strictly speaking, collapsed of its own weight. Rather, it has been changed from its original, unworkable form first by Chief Justice John Roberts and then by the president into some new, unworkable mishmash. Obamacare per se is already gone." In "Obama has begun repealing Obamacare," by Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, 23 December 2013.

 

2014 - "AOL Inc. blamed President Barack Obama’s health-care law for its plan to reduce its spending on contributions to employees’ 401(k) retirement plans. AOL, owner of websites such as the Huffington Post, will still match employee contributions to retirement plans up to 3 percent of their paychecks, Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong said. Under the new policy, it will make the matching payments in a lump sum at the end of the year, forcing employees who leave before then to forfeit the benefit, he said in an interview today on CNBC. 'Obamacare is an additional $7.1 million expense for us as a company,' Armstrong said. 'We have to decide whether to pass that expense to employees or cut other benefits'." In "AOL Blames Obamacare for Plan to Reduce Retirement Benefits," Bloomberg, 6 February 2014.

         "...the board of Cover Oregon voted to shut down the state’s troubled enrollment site and let the federal government manage Obamacare signups in Oregon, according to the Associated Press. Despite Gov. John Kitzhaber’s enthusiastic support—and $300 million in federal assistance—Cover Oregon has placed fewer than 64,000 residents in private health plans since last October, and most have had to submit applications on paper." In "Oregon to ditch troubled health insurance exchange," by Geoffrey Cowley, MSNBC, 25 April 2014.

         "As of November 2013, the federal exchange healthcare.gov. is estimated to have cost $677 million according to former HHS, Kathleen Sebelius. Since 2011, the federal government has spent nearly $4.7 billion to help implement the exchanges, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates." In "Over $5 Billion and Counting for Obamacare Websites." by Brianna Ehley, The Fiscal Times, 13 May 2014.

         "'There should be a red siren going off for state budget writers and taxpayers about the cost of this, and yet there seems to be very little alarm,' said Joshua Archambault of the Pioneer Institute. 'There will be a big bill due when they run the eligibility for these individuals at the end of the year'." In "Bill for Obamacare blunder: $173M," by Chris Cassidy, Boston Herald, 2 August 2014.

         "Seven months after major glitches in the Washington health exchange were discovered, authorities acknowledge that thousands of state residents still don't have insurance they can use to go to the doctor or fill a prescription. Although some problems have been resolved during the past few weeks, new issues also have come to light in Washington's implementation of the federal health care overhaul." In "7 months later, many still can't use Washington health coverage," by Donna Gordon Blankinship, Associated Press/KOMO News, 6 August 2014.   [ 6 ]

         "Pre-ObamaCare, about half the states had a system in place for helping people with pre-existing conditions: state high-risk pool plans, which for years offered government-subsidized coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions. But the Affordable Care Act banned those pools." In "From HIV to cancer to Crone’s, ObamaCare fails the sick," by Peter J. Pitts, New York Post, 10 August 2014.

         "...through March 2014, the total cost of the project was $946 million. $840 million of this was spent by the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), with the rest by the IRS and Department of Veterans Affairs. But the development costs continue to rise and are likely already over $1 billion." In "The billion dollar web site you paid for," by Larry Seltzer, ZDNet, 13 August 2014.

 

 

 

         As above:  "A full 318 days after the Obama administration's medical insurance overhaul website's glitch-prone launch, taxpayers visiting healthcare.gov for critical information are instead encountering 'Lorem ipsum' – Latin-language filler text used by graphic designers as a placeholder when they don't yet have meaningful information to publish. The nonsense words appear when users reach Web pages dedicated to 'why health coverage is important,' 'how to appeal a Marketplace decision,' 'health coverage for military veterans' and the unemployed, and 'who's eligible to use the Marketplace.' In all, MailOnline found 13 mission-critical pages on the site that provided no meaningful information – just 'Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet ...' Other affected areas of the site include 'reporting income and household size,' 'health coverage for immigrants,' what to do 'if you have Medicare,' 're-enrolling in the Marketplace' and 'Health coverage for incarcerated people.' And users looking to 'Renew or Change a Plan' are met with a trio of online mini-chapters consisting only of the words: 'Add bite content here'." In "'Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet': Obamacare website displays nonsense text to users nearly a YEAR after troubled rollout – and some in Congress have the same problem," by David Martosko, Daily Mail UK, 15 August 2014.

         "Nearly 400,000 people in Massachusetts will need to reapply for health insurance before the end of the year, and many of them probably do not even know it. They are people who do not have employer-sponsored health insurance and who instead sought insurance through the state.." In "About 400,000 in Mass. must seek new health plan," by Felice J. Freyer, Boston Globe, 15 August 2014. 

         The article also notes the costs associated:   "Maydad Cohen, a special adviser to Governor Deval Patrick, told the board that oversees the Connector Thursday that the state will request an additional $80 million in Medicaid funds to complete rebuilding of the website. That brings to $254 million the cost of the failed Connector project and its rebuilding, with all but $30 million paid by the federal government."

         "Many businesses said Obamacare is jacking up their employee health coverage costs, and they expect it to do so even more next year, two new surveys of businesses by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York have found." In "NY Fed: Firms 'widely' see Obamacare boosting health costs," by Dan Mangan, CNBC, 18 August 2014.

         "The bank reports that 78.8% of businesses in the district have made no change to the number of workers they employ as the specific result of ObamaCare and 3% are hiring more. More troubling, 18.2% are cutting jobs and employees. Some 18% shifted the composition of their workforce to a higher proportion of part-time labor. And 88.2% of the roughly half of businesses that modified their health plans as a result of ObamaCare passed along the costs through increasing the employee contribution to premiums, an effective cut in wages..." In "Unemployed by ObamaCare," Wall Street Journal, 21 August 2014.

         "A worrisome trend is emerging among some Californians who thought they were safe and secure under Covered California: Their plans are being canceled without consent and sometimes without notice." In "Obamacare: Does Covered California really have you covered?" by Emily Bazar, San Jose Mercury, 27 August 2014.

         "In particular, certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act will tend to reduce labor force participation, with the largest effect stemming from the subsidies that reduce the cost of purchasing health insurance through exchanges. Because the subsidies decline with rising income (and increase with falling income) and make some people financially better off, they reduce the incentive for some people to work as much as they would without the subsidies." In "An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024," Congressional Budget Office, Pub. No. 5005, p. 46.

         "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in May that Florida had 983,775 enrollees in the exchange as of April 19. That marked the end of the annual signup period for plans on the exchange. Yet, insurance companies reported 762,723 members on exchange plans when they filed for their new rates in June, according to a study by Jack McDermott, director of life and health insurance products for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. That’s a difference of 221,052, or 22 percent. OIR spokesman Harvey Bennett said reasons the enrollment numbers are lower could include members who didn’t pay their first premium after signing up, those who decided to drop out or duplicate enrollees." In "Obamacare insurance exchange enrollment in Florida less than originally reported," by Brian Bandell, South Florida Business Journal, 29 August 2014.

         "Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday dropped another financial bombshell on Chicago’s 25,000 retired city workers and their dependents: their monthly health insurance premiums will be going up by a whopping 40 percent — in spite of a pending lawsuit and a precedent-setting Illinois Supreme Court ruling. Last year, Emanuel announced plans to save $108.7 million a year by phasing out the city’s 55 percent subsidy for retiree health care and forcing retirees to make the switch to Obamacare." In "Emanuel socks city retirees with 40 percent health insurance hike," by Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, 12 September 2014.

         "The cost of the Obamacare subsidy that the U.S. Treasury will pay on behalf of people who earn under 400 percent of the federal poverty level and who buy a government-approved health-care plan on a government-run health-insurance exchange will increase by approximately 8-fold in its first ten years of operation, according to the latest budget estimate from the Congressional Budget Office." In "CBO: Cost of Obamacare Subsidy Will Increase 8-Fold in 10 Years," by Terrence P. Jeffrey, Cybercast News, 15 September 2014.

         "PreferredOne, the insurer that sold nearly 60 percent of all private health plans on Minnesota's Obamacare exchange, on Tuesday said it would leave that marketplace. PreferredOne's plans were the lowest-cost options on that exchange, known as MNSure. PreferredOne cited the costs of doing business on MNSure as the reason for its surprising decision, saying that selling plans is 'not administratively and financially sustainable going forward,' according to KSTP.com, the website of that Minnesota TV News network." In "Big Minnesota insurer leaves Obamacare site," by Dan Mangan, CNBC, 16 September 2014.

         "George Washington University’s student newspaper, The GW Hatchet, reports that the university has 'traded in a more expensive employee health care plan to avoid paying nearly $1 million in additional taxes.' The article noted that GWU will offer 'a cheaper plan to ease faculty concerns about rising costs'." In "ObamaCare hits George Washington University," by Spencer Irvine, Academia Org, 24 September 2014.

         "...new technology is allowing hospitals to determine the patient's responsibility in advance of treatment. Starting the cost conversation early is especially important now because patients are facing higher deductibles and larger payments for services. Some are surprised to find out that they have to fork over thousands of dollars before their insurance even kicks in, hospital administrators said. The policies available on the Affordable Care Act exchanges are hastening this trend. Many enrollees are opting for the bronze and silver plans, which often carry deductibles upwards of $5,000 and $2,000, respectively." In "Hospitals ask patients to pay upfront," by Tami Luhby, CNN, 29 September 2014.

         "Des Moines-based Wellmark had sought a rate increase of between 11.9 percent and 14.5 percent for about 19,000 of its customers. That increase is for individual policyholders who have Affordable Care Act-compliant plans. The dominant health insurer in Iowa, Wellmark is raising rates on about 250,000 policies. A vast majority of those rate increases are less than the 6.1 percent threshold that would require Gerhart's approval. CoOportunity had initially requested a rate increase of 14.3 percent. That increase was later revised to 19 percent on average, the commissioner said." In "Three health insurers get OK to increase rates," by Matthew Patane, Des Moines Register, 8 October 2014.

         "The latest example comes from the University of Colorado Boulder, where administrators posted an online notice last week informing students that their university-provided employment would be capped at 25 hours per week as a result of the Affordable Care Act." In "CU Boulder becomes latest university to cut student work hours under Obamacare," by Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, 9 October 2014.

         "...the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in. Such plans already represented a growing share of employer-sponsored coverage. Now, they're also the mainstay of the new health insurance exchanges created by Obama's law." In "Many insured struggle with medical bills," by Ricardo Alonso-Zalidivar and Jennifer Agiesta, Associated Press, 13 October 2014.

         "Sticker shock awaits thousands of people with health coverage through PreferredOne, the top seller on the MNsure exchange during its first year. The Golden Valley-based insurer said Wednesday that its individual market subscribers will see an average premium increase next year of 63 percent due to high claims costs." In "Big jump for PreferredOne premiums," by Christopher Snowbeck, Star Tribune, 15 October 2014.

         "Over 214,000 doctors won't participate in the new plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA,) analysis of a new survey by Medical Group Management Association shows. That number of 214,524, estimated by American Action Forum, is through May 2014, but appears to be growing due to plans that force doctors to take on burdensome costs. It's also about a quarter of the total number of 893,851 active professional physicians reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation. In January, an estimated 70% of California's physicians were not participating in Covered California plans." In "Over 214,000 Doctors Opt Out of Obamacare Exchanges," by Barbara Boland, Cybercast News, 28 October 2014.

         " 'Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.' That was MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the key architects of ObamaCare, explaining how ObamaCare was purposefully designed to obfuscate how it was financed, how the subsidies worked and other unpleasant features of the law. 'If you made it explicit that healthy people were going to pay and sick people get money, it would not have passed,' Gruber said, adding that the bill 'was written in a tortured way to make sure the (Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as a tax'." In "5 Ways ObamaCare Hides Its Costs," by John Merline, Investor's Business Daily, 11 November 2014.

         After the video 'testimony' of Jonathan Gruber as to the "stupidity of the American voter," a look back was done.  One hears to voice of a Democrat senator relying on Gruber's "big computer models" and conclusions in 2009:  "In addition to CBO, MIT's Jon Gruber has also done a study on premiums. And what does he conclude? He concludes, using Congressional Budget Office data, the Senate bill could mean people purchasing individual insurance would save every year $200 for single coverage and $500 for family coverage in 2009 dollars. Most people think he is one of the best outside experts. He has big computer models. He takes the CBO data and, in some respects, he has helped CBO by giving some information to CBO that it otherwise does not have. Mr. Gruber also points out that people with low incomes would receive premium tax credits that will reduce the price they pay for health insurance by as much as $2,500 to $7,500." In "BAUCUS: CBO Claims of Lower Premiums Came from Gruber," from a report by Phil Kerpen, C-SPAN, 31 July 2014, from a Speeh to a Senate Session by Max Baucus, (D) Montana, 9 December 2009.

         "The tax will start in 2018 and impose a 40 percent levy on the cost of individual health plans above $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for family coverage, with both employer and worker contributions included. Every dollar above those thresholds is taxed at that 40 percent rate, the tax is not deductible by the employer and the thresholds are indexed to inflation." In "You're gonna pay for that-Obamacare's Cadillac Tax," by Dan Mangan, CNBC, 11 November 2013.

         "Roanoke City Public Schools will become the first area division to outsource its substitutes to a New Jersey-based company. Beginning Jan. 5, Source4Teachers will staff the city’s substitute teachers, substitute aides and substitute clerical workers. The move to privatize subs will cost about $1.6 million, and it is unclear whether it will save money. Officials have said it will help tame costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, as well as the law’s tracking and reporting requirements." In "Roanoke School Board votes to outsource substitute teachers," by Annie McCallum, Roanoke.com, 12 November 2014.

         "The problem is not that he said it. The problem is that he thinks it. The core problem under the damn law is it was put together by a bunch of elitists who don’t fundamentally understand the American people. That’s what the problem is." Quote of Howard Dean, in "Obamacare Architect" 'Stupidity of the American Voter' Helped Pass Law," Morning Joe/MSNBC, 12 November 2014.

          Additionally this day one read:  "...a number of low-priced Obamacare plans will raise their rates in 2015, making those options less affordable. On top of that, penalties for failing to secure a health-insurance plan will rise steeply next year, which could take a big bite out of some families' pocketbooks. 'The penalty is meant to incentivize people to get coverage,' said senior analyst Laura Adams of InsuranceQuotes.com. 'This year, I think a lot of people are going to be in for a shock'." In "Obamacare 2015: Higher costs, higher penalties," by Aimee Picchi, CBS News Money Watch, 12 November 2014.

          "In previously posted but recently noticed speeches, Gruber discusses how those pushing the bill took part in an 'exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter,' taking advantage of voters' 'stupidity' to create a law that would ultimately be good for them. In this fourth video, Gruber's language is not as stark as in three previous instances, but his suggestion that Obamacare proponents engaged in less-than-honest salesmanship remains. 'Barack Obama's not a stupid man, okay?' Gruber said in his remarks at the College of the Holy Cross on March 11, 2010. 'He knew when he was running for president that quite frankly the American public doesn't actually care that much about the uninsured....What the American public cares about is costs. And that's why even though the bill that they made is 90% health insurance coverage and 10% about cost control, all you ever hear people talk about is cost control. How it's going to lower the cost of health care, that's all they talk about. Why? Because that's what people want to hear about because a majority of American care about health care costs'." In "Obamacare architect discussed misleading public in 4th newly uncovered video," by Jake Tapper, CNN, 13 November 2014.

         "...the ACA is also accelerating the demise of rural outposts that cater to many of society's most vulnerable. These hospitals treat some of the sickest and poorest patients — those least aware of how to stay healthy. Hospital officials contend that the law's penalties for having to re-admit patients soon after they're released are impossible to avoid and create a crushing burden. 'The stand-alone, community hospital is going the way of the dinosaur,' says Angela Mattie, chairwoman of the health care management and organizational leadership department at Connecticut's Quinnipiac University, known for its public opinion surveys on issues including public health. The closings threaten to decimate a network of rural hospitals the federal government first established beginning in the late 1940s to ensure that no one would be without health care. It was a theme that resonated during the push for the new health law. But rural hospital officials and others say that federal regulators — along with state governments — are now starving the hospitals they created with policies and reimbursement rates that make it nearly impossible for them to stay afloat. Low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements hurt these hospitals more than others because it's how most of their patients are insured, if they are at all." In "Rural hospitals in critical condition," by Jayne O'Donnell and Laura Ungar, USA Today, 14 November 2014.

           Additionally this day one read:  "Former White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN that Gruber's remarks in general were 'very harmful politically to the president.' Gruber 'speaks from the Ivory tower with remarkable hubris about the American voter and by extension the American Congress,' Carney told The Lead with Jake Tapper. 'Any health care reform that sought to control costs and expand insurance would involve winners and losers. And that's always going to be the case.' Many of the videos were discovered by a Philadelphia-area financial adviser named Rich Weinstein who has spent the last year researching Obamacare after his family insurance premiums doubled." In "Obamacare architect in 6th video: 'Mislabeling' helped us get rid of tax breaks," by Jake Tapper, CNN, 14 November 2014.

           An Income Inequality Observation for the countdown:   "Four U.S. states and the federal government have padded Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber's wallet to the tune of $5.9 million since 2000, including millions connected to his work on the Affordable Care Act. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist has been pilloried for collecting $392,600 from the Obama administration's Health and Human Services Department while the law was being written, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Gruber's consulting contracts give states and the feds access to a proprietary formula that can determine how changes in a health care system's structure will affect costs. The 'Gruber Microsimulation Model' is what he sold to the White House. It helped Obama's team anticipate what the influential Congressional Budget Office (CBO) would say about various features of the final plan – and whether their costs would officially be considered 'taxes'." In "Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber has billed federal and state governments at least $5.9 million for advice, as more videos surface showing him undercutting the landmark law," by David Martosko, Daily Mail UK, 15 November 2014.

            "...the increases for 2015 are staggering, ranging from 20 percent to over 60 percent. And consumers need to plan for more rate hikes over the next several years, especially those who have coverage through their employer. One of the biggest causes behind these increases is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), so called because it was supposed to provide more affordable health insurance for all." In "Health insurance costs have nowhere to go but up," by Ray Martin, Money Watch, CBS News, 20 November 2014.

           "While President Obama campaigned on a promise that his universal health care plan would lower premiums, his controversial adviser and plan architect was privately warning the state of Wisconsin that Obamacare was poised to massively increase insurance costs for average residents, internal documents show. Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist currently under fire for suggesting the Obama administration tried to deceive the public about the Affordable Care Act, was hired by former Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle in 2010 to conduct an analysis on how the federal health-care reform would impact the state. Mr. Gruber's study predicted about 90 percent of individuals without employer-sponsored or public insurance would see their premiums spike by an average of 41 percent."  In "New deception questions: Obamacare adviser warned of premium increases as Obama vowed savings," by Kelly Riddell, Washington Times, 24 November 2014.

           "Democrats made a mistake by passing President Barack Obama’s health-care law in 2010 instead of first focusing more directly on helping the middle class, third-ranking U.S. Senate Democrat Charles Schumer said today. 'Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them' in electing Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2008 amid a recession, Schumer of New York said in a speech in Washington. 'We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem -- health care reform.' Schumer said Democrats should have addressed issues aiding the middle class to build confidence among voters before turning to revamping the health-care system. He said he opposed the timing of the health-care vote and was overruled by other party members." In "Democrats Erred by Acting on Health Care in 2010, Schumer Says," by Kathleen Hunter, Bloomberg, 25 November 2014.

           "ObamaCare appears to be a windfall for Big Insurance. Over the first three years the law was in effect, the insurance market actually got more concentrated, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. Between 2010 and 2013, for example, the number of states where the top three insurers controlled 80% of the individual insurance market or more went from 30 to 38." In "ObamaCare Has Been A Boon To Insurers, Not Patients," Editorial, Investors, 2 December 2014.

           "The Affordable Care Act is expected to provide around $10 billion in subsidies this year to make health insurance affordable for low- and middle-income people. But a quirk in the law is denying subsidies to a significant number of low-income people, especially those with families." In "Obamacare 'Glitch' Puts Subsidies Out Of Reach For Many Families," by John Ydstie, National Public Radio, 2 December 2014.

            "...four years after its passage, the ACA has managed to cover only one out of four previously uninsured people, spending $57 billion to do it. And it’s forced millions to give up plans they liked and pushed employers to cut hours and jobs — as well as inciting voters to retire dozens of Democratic members of Congress. Instead of lying about ObamaCare, some top Democrats are taking another tack, distancing themselves from this increasingly toxic issue. Shrewd politicians like Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) can spot a loser." In "Still cooking the ObamaCare books," by Betsy McCaughey, New York Post, 9 December 2014.

           " 'Consumers here were told that networks are going to be the same as they were before Obamacare ... and those are flat out lies,' Flanagan said." In "Patients outraged after losing doctors under Obamacare," by Wyatt Andrews, CBS News, 12 December 2014.

 

2015 -  "Companies with more than 100 full-time workers must offer affordable health insurance to at least 70% of their staff. This 'employer mandate' was supposed to take effect in 2014, but the Obama administration delayed it to this year. And those that don't comply face hefty penalties. Companies will be fined if they don't offer coverage and even just one of their workers gets subsidized insurance on an Obamacare individual exchange. For 2015, the fine is $174 a month times the number of full-time employees (minus 80 workers)." In "Affordable Care Act is finally hitting employers." by Tami Luhby, CNN Money, 2 January 2015.

           "...being forced to pay so much out-of-pocket 'is as good as not having insurance' in an era of ever-rising health care costs. Inpatient care last year averaged $17,553, and insurance plans require people to pay a portion of that even after meeting their deductibles, up to an out-of-pocket maximum that can easily exceed $10,000 a year for families. Median household income in the U.S. is around $53,000, and the average American has less than $6,000 in savings, according to a 2012 report by Pitney-Bowes Software. A quarter have no emergency savings at all, Bankrate.com reported in June." In "Dilemma over deductibles: Costs crippling middle class," by Laura Ungar and Jayne O'Donnell , USA Today, 3 January 2015.

           "For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar. Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed." In "Harvard Ideas on Health Care Hit Home, Hard," b Robert Pear, New York Times, 5 January 2015.

           "...up from 8.4% in 2010 and nearly double the 5.3% that households were paying for employer-provided health coverage in 2003. 'Workers are paying more but getting less protective benefits,' the report's authors noted. 'Although the Affordable Care Act offers a platform from which to build, securing a more affordable future will likely require action beyond those reforms, focusing on costs of care, particularly for the privately insured'." In "Workers paying more for health insurance, but getting fewer benefits," by Noam N. Levey, Chicago Tribune, 7 January 2015.

           "Enrollment in the state's healthcare program for the poor, known as Medi-Cal, has exploded by 50% since President Obama's signature law took effect. Although the federal government picks up most of the tab, state costs have also been growing, and faster than expected. Meanwhile, the annual bill for healthcare for public retirees — a benefit promised decades ago — has more than doubled in the last decade. Current and retired workers have accumulated $71.8 billion in healthcare benefits as of June last year, and the state has set aside almost nothing to cover the costs." In "California's soaring healthcare costs bode ill for the budget," by Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, 8 January 2015.

           "CoOportunity Health has failed. The Affordable Care Act set aside funding for health care co-ops, to enable the organizations to compete in places where there aren’t many insurers. CoOportunity Health was the second largest co-op in the country in terms of membership, and one of the largest in terms of the federal funding it received. But then CoOportunity hit a kind of perfect storm, says Peter Damiano, director of the University of Iowa’s public policy center. First, the co-op had to pay a lot more medical bills than those in charge expected." In "Health Insurance Startup Collapses In Iowa," by Clay Masters, Iowa Public Radio, 14 January 105.

           "The government's health insurance website is quietly sending consumers' personal data to private companies that specialize in advertising and analyzing Internet data for performance and marketing, The Associated Press has learned. The scope of what is disclosed or how it might be used was not immediately clear, but it can include age, income, ZIP code, whether a person smokes, and if a person is pregnant. It can include a computer's Internet address, which can identify a person's name or address when combined with other information collected by sophisticated online marketing or advertising firms." In "Government health care website quietly sharing personal data," by Ricardo Alonso-Zalidivar and Jack Gillim, Associated Press, 20 January 2015.

           "...AFSCME leader Gerald McEntee blasted Obama’s idea as 'bulls - - - -.' Now the manure is hitting the fan. In 2018, about half of companies will have to pay the tax if they don’t first reduce benefits below what Washington considers 'excessive': $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. Companies are already raising deductibles and copays or skimping on coverage, according to Towers Watson benefit consultants. Not that the president’s team ever admitted that ObamaCare would tax health benefits — quite the contrary. When ObamaCare required the value of your health benefits to be reported on you W-2, raising fears that it would be taxed, White House spokesperson Stephanie Cutter said, 'Don’t believe it . . . you will absolutely not pay taxes on these benefits.' In 2011, ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber told a select audience that he thought the administration would get away with the deception by 'mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people'." In "Killer 'Cadillac' tax: Even Democrats are angry," by Betsy McCaughey, New York Post, 20 January 2015.

           "Obama administration officials and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act say they worry that the tax-filing season will generate new anger as uninsured consumers learn that they must pay tax penalties and as many people struggle with complex forms needed to justify tax credits they received in 2014 to pay for health insurance. The White House has already granted some exemptions and is considering more to avoid a political firestorm." In "White House Seeks to Limit Health Law’s Tax Troubles, by Robert Pear, New York Times, 31 January 2015.

           " 'I was blindsided that the subsidy has to be paid back,' said Riddle, adding she didn't even use the coverage, which she had until she qualified for Medicare in October. 'I'm in shock...but I have no choice'." In "I have to pay back my Obamacare subsidy," by Tami Luhby, CNN, 13 February 2015.

           "One goal of ObamaCare was to compel the private companies of the U.S. health industry to become adjuncts of the federal government. In that respect the law is succeeding beautifully, judging by the flood of amicus briefs on behalf of the White House in the Supreme Court challenge to ObamaCare’s illegal subsidies. King v. Burwell is pulling everybody out of the woodwork from the big hospitals to the various physician lobbies to the major insurers. These business supplicants have little and often nothing to contribute on the legal merits. But they do want the Justices who might be inclined to obey the law’s text—which limits subsidies to exchanges established by states, not the 36 run by the feds—to know the woe that withdrawing the subsidies would visit on patients and especially on their corporate welfare." In "Until King Dumb Come," Editorial, Wall Street Journal, 13 February 2015.

           "This week, three House Democrats who helped usher ObamaCare through that chamber — Sander Levin, Jim McDermott, and Lloyd Doggett — sent a plea to the White House, asking it to grant the uninsured another chance to enroll. Their concern: Millions who are about to file taxes will learn they owe a penalty — sorry, 'shared responsibility payment' — for not having coverage. At the same time, they'll be out of luck getting coverage this year, since open enrollment is already closed. Which means they will owe a far bigger penalty next year, when it more than doubles. 'Without a special enrollment period, many people (who will be paying fines) will not have another opportunity to get coverage this year,' the Democrats said in a statement." In "Democrats Keep Running Away From ObamaCare," Investors Business Daily editorial, 17 February 2015.

           "The tax mistake is a self-inflicted injury that comes on the heels of what President Barack Obama had touted as a successful enrollment season, with about 11.4 million people signed up. California, which is running its own insurance market, on Thursday announced a similar problem affecting about 100,000 people in that state." In "Nearly 1 Million Obamacare Customers Received Wrong Tax Information From Government," by staff, CBS News, 20 February 2015.

           "The Washington state ObamaCare exchange says that it withdrew the incorrect amount of money from the bank accounts of 13,000 people. Some of the people say that more than three times the correct amount was withdrawn for their monthly premium for health insurance." In "State's ObamaCare overcharges 13K," by Peter Sullivan, The Hill, 25 February 2015.

           "The Oregon exchange had cost the state $248 million. Additional controversy erupted in August when Oracle Corp., which was hired to create the exchange, sued the state agency in charge. The company alleged a breach of contract and accused then-Gov. John Kitzhaber of attempting to 'vilify the company in the media. ' The state responded with a lawsuit of its own, accusing the Redwood City, Calif., company of lying to Oregon officials, failing to deliver on contracts and filing about $240 million in false claims." In "Oregon abolishes its hopelessly bungled health insurance exchange," by Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times, 7 March 2015.   [ 9 ]

           "Experts and practitioners cite declining federal reimbursements for hospitals under the Affordable Care Act as the principal reasons for the recent closures." In "Rural hospitals, beset by financial problems, struggle to survive," by Guy Gugliotta, Washington Post, 15 March 2015.   [ 10 ]

           "Large companies have also seen their costs increase. As a result, some of them have cut employee hours to avoid triggering the coverage requirement altogether. The only other choices are to cut jobs or to raise prices to cover the higher costs—an unattractive option in today’s tepid economy. This unsettling reality is apparent everywhere you look, with countless businesses having already made similar decisions. And it’s not just limited to multinational corporations: movie theaters, grocery stores, retirement homes—they’re all having to shift employees to part-time to avoid the ACA’s steep penalties." In "ObamaCare and part-time employment: Shame on who?" by Teresa Oelke, The Hill, 10 March 2015.

           "This filing season, for the first time, millions of Americans are facing tax implications — and new forms that even seasoned preparers are finding confusing — related to their health insurance status. The changes are not only complicating things for tax filers, but also costing many of them money. Under the Affordable Care Act, people who remained uninsured last year must either pay a penalty with their taxes, one of the most contentious elements of the law, or claim an exemption. The Obama administration has said up to six million people would owe a penalty of $95 or 1 percent of their household income, whichever is greater." In "Under Health Care Act, Many Tax Filers Are Discovering Costly Complications," by Abby Goodnough, New York Times, 21 March 2015.  (Simple math: six million x $95 or more = $570 million or more of a windfall tax-as-penalty collection by the federal government through the IRS.)

           "...signed by Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, Chris Coons, Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Jon Tester and independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats. 'We are writing to share our concerns regarding scheduled changes to the definition of the small group market under the Affordable Care Act (ACA),' the senators wrote in the letter, dated March 12. 'Under the law, employers with 51 to 100 employees will be included in the ACA’s definition of small group market starting in 2016. Instead of providing stability, we believe expanding the definition will force those historically defined 'large group plans' into the 'small group market,' where they could experience higher premiums, less flexibility, and new barriers to coverage. We therefore encourage you to delay the effective date in the definition change for two years so the market can more smoothly transition to the new rules. We appreciate the Administration’s efforts to ensure the law is implemented in the least disruptive, most beneficial manner. For example, the Administration has delayed implementation of the employer shared responsibility requirements. At the same time, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) has experienced delays in implementation. As enacted, the ACA was to have provided this market segment two full years of experience under the employer mandate and in SHOP exchanges before re-categorizing their plans into the small group market. Because these two very significant building blocks have not occurred as anticipated, we believe continuing on with the redefinition of small group next year would be particularly harmful and disruptive'." In "EXCLUSIVE: Democratic Senators Beg For Another Obamacare Delay," by Patrick Howley, Daily Caller, 23 March 2015.

           "  'How do you misallocate that large amount of money?' asked Rep. Andy Harris, a Baltimore County Republican and critic of the health care law who first requested the audit last year. 'Neither answer is good: It was either incompetence or it was intended'." In "Audit says Maryland overbilled federal government $28.4M in health exchange launch," by John Fritze and Meredith Cohn, Baltimore Sun, 27 March 2015.

           "Presently, over 27 cents on every dollar is spent by the federal government on health care, primarily Medicaid and Medicare." In "27.49% of Everyone's Tax Bill Is Spent on Health Care," by Jeryl Bier, Weekly Standard, 16 April 2015.

           "Democratic state lawmakers on Thursday shot down a proposal that would have required all California state legislators to get their health insurance from Covered California, the benefits exchange set up to implement Obamacare in the state. The Assembly Rules Committee split along party lines, with seven Democrats opposing AB 1109 and three Republicans in support of the bill by Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita). The measure would have forced lawmakers to give up the taxpayer-subsidized health plans provided by the Legislature and individually sign up for Covered California." In "Democratic lawmakers reject switching their health coverage to Obamacare," by Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 23 April 2015.

           "Nearly half of the 17 insurance marketplaces set up by the states and the District under President Obama’s health law are struggling financially, presenting state officials with an unexpected and serious challenge five years after the passage of the landmark Affordable Care Act. Many of the online exchanges are wrestling with surging costs, especially for balky technology and expensive customer-call centers — and tepid enrollment numbers. To ease the fiscal distress, officials are considering raising fees on insurers, sharing costs with other states and pressing state lawmakers for cash infusions." In "Nearly half of Obamacare exchanges are struggling over their future," by Lena H. Sun and Niraj Chokshi, Washington Post, 1 May 2015.

          "An 'unelected board without adequate oversight or accountability would be taking actions historically reserved for the public’s elected representatives in the U.S. House and Senate,' it states. The groups also warn that if the board is not set up, its powers transfer to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, which they say is too much power for one person. Legislation to repeal the board sponsored by Reps. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) has 222 co-sponsors, including 19 Democrats." In "500 groups urge repeal of ObamaCare cost-cutting panel," by Peter Sullivan, The Hill, 5 May 2015.

          ". 'Now that it is clear that the state will not provide sufficient support for the Hawaii Health Connector's operations through fiscal year 2016 (ending June 30, 2016), the Connector can no longer operate in a manner that would cause it to incur additional debts or other obligations for which it is unable to pay,' Connector officials said in a report released Friday to the nonprofit's board of directors." In "Insurance exchange sets deadlines in preparation of ending services," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 10 May 2015.

          "Many consumers dropped out right away because they failed to pay their initial premium for coverage to take effect." In "Amid slower growth, California's Obamacare exchange cuts proposed spending," by Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 13 May 2015.

           "City Comptroller Scott Stringer laid out the grim facts last week on how the most progressive law in decades means disaster for New York City. The bottom line of Stringer’s report: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, Uncle Sam will cut more than $800 million in payments to the city’s Health and Hospitals Corp, by Fiscal Year 2019. The president’s signature law slashes federal payments that long helped out hospitals serving lots of patients who lack insurance. The idea was that the law would boost coverage so dramatically the aid would be unnecessary." In "The dire ObamaCare threat to New York’s hospitals," by Post Editorial Board, New York Post, 16 May 2015.

          "...insurer filings are public information, available on state websites. And in the three cases where I could see supporting data about premium revenue and losses, those losses appear to be large. Moda of Oregon says that its claims were 139 percent of revenue, making for a margin of -61 percent. If I am reading their somewhat confusing table right, Health Service Corporation of New Mexico says it lost $23 million on revenue of $121 million. CareFirst of Maryland says that claims were 120 percent of revenue, which if we add in some money to pay for overhead, amounts to ... less than or equal to what they're asking from regulators. I can't find claims experience data for Tennessee, but that state told the Wall Street Journal that it lost $141 million on exchange plans last year." In "Sticker Shock for Some Obamacare Customers," by Megan McArdle, Bloomberg, 25 May 2015.

          "The roughly $6 billion in exchange start-up costs pale in comparison to the ongoing insurance overhead that the ACA has added to our health care system — more than a quarter of a trillion dollars through 2022." In "The Post-Launch Problem: The Affordable Care Act’s Persistently High Administrative Costs," by David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, Health Affairs Blog, 27 May 2015.

           " 'The rates we thought would be adequate were not enough,' Shipley said in a Journal interview. 'As we obtained more information and paid claims and have gotten that additional experience, it’s clear to us that rates need to be higher in order to cover the costs associated with those plans.' He said Blue Cross and Blue Shield lost money on such plans in 2014 and in 2015, but he would not provide an exact figure. Shipley did say 'we’ve seen some very large and significant claims with this block of business'." In "Blue Cross seeking 51 percent premium hike," by Jessica Dyer, Albuquerque Journal, 28 May 2015.

          "Dozens of health insurers say higher-than-expected care costs and other expenses blindsided them this year, and they're going to have to hike premiums for individual policies well-beyond 10 percent for 2016. The proposed double-digit hikes would apply to plans sold on the health insurance exchanges created under President Barack Obama's law, as well as individual coverage sold through brokers and agents." In "Many health insurers go big with initial 2016 rate requests," by Tom Murphy, Associated Press, 1 June 2015.

          "The company filed for rate increases in mid-May averaging 38.7 percent for plans aimed at complying with the Affordable Care Act requirements. It said that with 8,484 customers in the individual market, it is losing money in that part of its business because of the high medical bills from 1 percent of its customers. They accounted for about 39 percent of the $10.6 million in claims generated by the entire group of 8,484. In the first six months of 2014, Premera said it had 33 members whose medical claims topped $7 million." In "Premera seeks 38.7% rate hike for individual health insurance in Alaska," by Dermot Cole, Alaska Dispatch News, 2 June 2015. (For the 33, the average is over $212K per person.)

          "If medical expenditures paid out for healthcare services under the ACA individual plan are too high, the division’s ability to drastically reduce this requested increase will be limited'." In "DCCA NEWS RELEASE: State Insurance Commissioner’s Statement on HMSA’s Request to Raise Premiums for Individual ACA Health Plans almost 50 percent," State of Hawaii Newsroom, 2 June 2015.

          "Health insurance costs will probably jump by 10 percent or more next year for many Kentuckians buying coverage through Kynect, the state-run insurance exchange created under the federal Affordable Care Act." In "Most health insurance rates expected to rise next year in Kentucky." by Mary Meehan, Lexington Herald-Leader, 3 June 2015.

          "Eight Minnesota health plans have proposed big premium increases for 2016, ranging from 11 to 74 percent." In "8 Minnesota Health Plans Propose Big Premium Hikes for 2016," by Cassie Hart, ABC5News, 3 June 2015.

          "Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged that the plaintiffs had strong arguments about the plain meaning of the contested words. But he wrote that the words must be understood as part of a larger statutory plan. 'In this instance,' he wrote, 'the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase'." In "Supreme Court Allows Nationwide Health Care Subsidies," by Adam Liptak, NYTimes, 25 June 2015.

          " Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back. Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans — market leaders in many states — are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota, according to documents posted online by the federal government and state insurance commissioners and interviews with insurance executives. The Oregon insurance commissioner, Laura N. Cali, has just approved 2016 rate increases for companies that cover more than 220,000 people. Moda Health Plan, which has the largest enrollment in the state, received a 25 percent increase, and the second-largest plan, LifeWise, received a 33 percent increase." In "Health Insurance Companies Seek Big Rate Increases for 2016," by Robert Pear, New York Times, 3 July 2015.

          "Aetna Life Insurance has begun sending hundreds of city residents letters warning that plans purchased through the city’s health exchange, known as D.C. Health Link, will terminate at the end of the year. The company is the smaller of two that now offer plans known as Preferred Provider Organizations, or PPOs, which give D.C. residents some freedom to choose their doctors and hospitals. The changes highlight the city’s struggle to operate one of the smallest independent health exchanges begun under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It has also raised uncertainty among the District’s many self-employed, under-employed or retired workers, who need to purchase their own insurance, as to whether they will be able to afford comparable coverage next year." In "D.C. residents to lose some insurance options next year on health exchange," by Aaron C. Davis, Washington Post, 10 July 2015.

          "...more lower- and middle-income people must pay for ObamaCare with their own money, the less likely they are to participate. They are concluding that ObamaCare plans—with their overly rich mandated benefits, narrow physician networks, and hidden income redistribution—do not offer a good value for the price. This is not a formula for healthy insurance markets. These rate hikes aren’t final, and some may be rejected by state insurance commissioners. In Tennessee, Mr. Obama encouraged regulators to exert such political control. But a business can’t continue to pay more than $1 for every $1 of revenue forever, and ongoing insurance volatility and rising health industry consolidation may ensure that the 2016 premium blast is not a one-time event." In "The Unaffordable Care Act," Wall Street Journal, 10 July 2015.

          " 'The destructive fact of cost overruns due to Obamacare's Medicaid expansion will be less money for education, public safety and roads. In addition, when state lawmakers balance their budget, they will put the most vulnerable already on Medicaid on the chopping block first, and protect the able-bodied childless adults that are part of the Obamacare expansion—this is a result of the perverse funding structure in the ACA ." In "Higher costs for Obamacare's new Medicaid patients," by Dan Mangan, CNBC, 13 July 2015.

          "The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last month on Obamacare has brought the issue of American health care into sharp focus yet again, and nowhere is that focus more warranted than on our country’s broken Medicaid program. Along with exploding the cost of private health insurance, Obamacare bent the cost curve up on Medicaid. A recent report issued by the program’s administrators found that the cost of Medicaid will nearly double over the next decade, to just shy of a trillion dollars per year. New enrollees were supposed to cost less to insure than those already in the program; instead, the expanded population costs far more than we were told. Rather than draw down unnecessary emergency room use, evidence suggests Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is making the ER problem worse." In "Obamacare's Medicaid expansion is failing," by Patrick Ishmael, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 20 July 2015.

          "The Affordable Care Act's 'Cadillac Tax' provision will charge employers an excise tax on high-cost plans -- 40 percent on every dollar over $10,200 on individual and $27,500 on family plans. Jeni Simon, a consultant with Aon Hewitt, told school board members Tuesday that companies already are redesigning their health plans in order to avoid paying the tax." In "St. Paul schools may adjust health plans to avoid 'Cadillac tax'," by Josh Verges, Pioneer Press, 22 July 2015.

          " 'It is a difficult time for health insurers of every size,' Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said in a statement. 'The onerous burdens of Obamacare have shocked health insurance markets and caused instability in pricing and predictability, and as a result, we’ve seen premiums spike upward. Start-ups in insurance, especially health insurance, are always a tough row to hoe. Obamacare has made that even more difficult,' Donelon continued." In "The Taxpayer-Funded Louisiana Co-Op Created Under Obamacare Has Collapsed," by Melissa Quinn, Daily Signal, 27 July 2015.

           "The insurance division said Coventry Health Care of Iowa, which has been on Iowa's ACA exchange since its inception, was being granted an average 19.8 percent increase for approximately 35,000 to 47,000 policyholders. Meanwhile, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield was granted an increase of 24.5 percent on average for 23,000 policyholders with ACA-compliant plans." In "Iowa approves double digit rate hikes for ACA plans," by Ed Tibbetts, Quad-City Times, 26 August 2015.

          "CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the state's largest insurer, is raising rates up to 26 percent on average after absorbing more than $100 million in losses incurred as more older and sicker patients received coverage under federal health care reform. The Maryland Insurance Administration announced Friday that it approved new premium rates for CareFirst and four other insurance companies that sell plans to individuals and small businesses on the state's online exchange created through the Affordable Care Act." In "CareFirst health insurance rates to rise as much as 26 percent ," by Andrea K. McDaniels, Baltimore Sun, 6 September 2015.

           "Nearly 1 in 4 of the Americans who picked a health plan this year through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces have dropped or lost their coverage, according to new federal data." In "Coverage in Affordable Care Act health plans wanes since winter," by Amy Goldstein, Washington Post, 8 September 2015.

           "Employer-based health insurance premiums climbed 4.2% this year for family plans, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation report. That's up from 3% the year before. Since 2008, average family premiums have climbed a total of $4,865." In "Health Premiums Have Climbed $4,865 Since Obama Promised to Cut Them $2,500," by John Merline, Investors, 23 September 2015.

           Twenty-one of 23 co-ops nationwide were losing money as of Dec. 31, the inspector general report found. Furthermore, enrollment was falling below projections for 13 of the 23 plans." In "Another ObamaCare nonprofit bites the dust," by Peter Sullivan, The Hill, 25 September 2015.

           "The state approved a 27.3 percent rate hike for Hawaii Medical Service Association members and 34.4 percent increase for Kaiser members in Obamacare plans for 2016." In "State approves 27% Obamacare rate hike for HMSA; 34% for Kaiser," by Kristen Consillio, Honolulu Star Adversier, 5 October 2015.

           "The largest private provider of health insurance policies on Kynect, Kentucky's health insurance exchange, is going out of business. The Louisville-based Kentucky Health Cooperative Inc. announced Friday that it will end current memberships on Dec. 31 and will not add new members because of financial problems." In "Kentucky Health Cooperative going out of business; 51,000 insurance customers affected," by Jack Brammer, Lexington Herald-Leader, 9 October 2015.

           "...many midsize companies would have been forced to buy policies in the heavily regulated small-group market. Even Democrats heralded the repeal as one that would protect small and midsize businesses by 'limiting premium increases.' (Never mind that ObamaCare itself was supposed to do that.) This is, in fact, the 10th time that Obama has signed an ObamaCare repeal bill into law." In "Obama Just Signed His 10th Bill Repealing (Parts Of) ObamaCare," by John Merline, Investors, 9 October 2015.)

            "Some unions, including Unite Here, which represents local hotel workers, and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, which has an office in Aptos, have teamed up with health insurers, insurance agents, the National Association of Counties and the Government Finance Officers Association, to form the Fight the 40 Alliance lobbying Congress to repeal the Cadillac tax." In "Cadillac tax exit strategy in Santa Cruz," Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 10 October 2015.

           "Consolidation is the name of the game in health care as well, as ObamaCare's costs drive mergers and buyouts in the hospital and insurance industries. There were twice as many hospital mergers in 2014 as there were the year before President Obama signed his signature bill into law. Earlier this year, insurance giants Aetna and Anthem announced plans to acquire Humana and Cigna, respectively, turning the "big five" insurance companies into the big three. Both industries cite ObamaCare's massive new set of rules, regulations, taxes and fees as prompting these mergers." In "Hillary Clinton's Hidden Big Business Agenda Exposed," Editorial Staff, Investors, 12 October 2015.

           "...the cooperative relied on federal support, and federal authorities announced last month they wouldn't be able to pay most of what they owed in a program designed to help health insurance co-ops get established." In "Largest health insurer on Colorado exchange collapses," by Kristen Wyatt, Reporter-Herald Colorado News, 16 October 2015.

           "Arches, the only co-op health plan in Utah, began offering insurance through the Affordable Care Act in fall 2013, beginning coverage in January 2014. The nonprofit group says it's ceasing operations because of a lack of funding from the federal 'risk corridor' program, which was built into the Affordable Care Act and intended to protect insurance companies from their losses." In "Arches Health Plan to stop operations," by Ben Lockhart, KSL TV, 27 October 2015.

          "...small business owners, who are finding huge cost increases. A recent story in the Santa Cruz Sentinel quoted a local sock shop owner saying their health care costs will go up 85 percent next year. The reason is that Covered California allowed small business to keep their original insurance plans for two years, but this year they have to offer new insurance plans with essential ACA benefits." In "Californians face increased ACA costs," Santa Cruz Sentinel, 3 November 2015.

           "Some newly insured patients wonder whether it's worth paying for coverage they can't actually use. Even when they do find a provider, reports show they face crippling out-of-pocket costs they didn't expect. Doctors or hospitals may be left out of insurance networks for many reasons; the decision is usually up to the insurance company, not the provider, but it usually comes down to reimbursement, which can be lower through plans obtained via the Obamacare marketplace." In "Doctors, Hospitals Say 'No' to Obamacare Plans," by Kimberly Leonard, US News and World Report, 4 November 2015.

           "Some 250 patients receiving treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center are facing a crisis because they signed up with the only ObamaCare insurer in New York that provides coverage at the world-renowned hospital — and the insurer is going bust. Now the patients either have to find new insurers and doctors or pay higher out-of-pocket costs for extended care at Sloan. State regulators are removing Health Republic Insurance of New York from the ObamaCare exchange as of Nov. 30 because the company is gushing red ink — losing more than $130 million in 18 months." In "ObamaCare leaves 250 cancer patients in peril," by Carl Campanile, NY Post, 6 November 2015.

           "...the sticker shock is coming not on the front end, when they purchase the plans, but on the back end when they get sick: sky-high deductibles that are leaving some newly insured feeling nearly as vulnerable as they were before they had coverage. 'The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,' said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. 'We have insurance, but can't afford to use it'." In "Many Say High Deductibles Make Their Health Law Insurance All but Useless," by Robert Pear, New York Times via CNBC, 15 November 2015.

           "State and federal regulators are shutting down Health Republic because it is going broke." In "NY hospitals, doctors fear Health Republic meltdown will cost them millions," by James T. Mulder, Syracuse Media, 16 November 2015.

           "...as The New York Times reported this weekend, even the words 'affordable' and 'care' have turned out to be untrue as well. The sharp rise in premiums has garnered the most headlines in the first three open-enrollment seasons of Obamacare, but equally if not more pernicious has been the increase in deductibles. As Eric Pianin explained for The Fiscal Times on Monday, deductibles have increased an average of 11 percent on Bronze level plans for 2016, intended to be the most affordable of all options, and now average over $5700. For Silver level, deductibles rose 6 percent and now average over $3100. Consumers have to pay both the premium and then thousands of dollars for care out of their own pocket before insurance takes effect." In "Obamacare’s Bait and Switch Has Left Consumers Scrambling in 2016," Ed Morrissey, Fiscal Times via Yahoo Finance, 20 November 2015.

           "The CEO of UnitedHealthCare on Tuesday said he regretted the decision to enter the ObamaCare marketplace last year, which the company says has resulted in millions of dollars in losses. 'It was for us a bad decision,' UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley said at an investor’s meeting in New York, according to Bloomberg Business." In "UnitedHealth CEO regrets entering ObamaCare," by Sarah Ferris, The Hill, 1 December 2015.

           "The lone health insurance cooperative to make money last year on the Affordable Care Act's public insurance exchanges is now losing millions and suspending individual enrollment for 2016. Maine's Community Health Options lost more than $17 million in the first nine months of this year, after making $10.9 million in the same period last year. A spokesman said higher-than-expected medical costs have hurt the cooperative." In "Lone profitable ACA insurance co-op losing millions," by Tom Murphy, Associated Press, 10 December 2015.

           "CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have estimated the budgetary effects of H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, as passed by the Senate. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting H.R. 3762 would decrease deficits by about $474 billion over the 2016–2025 period. That estimate includes two components: Excluding macroeconomic feedback effects, the act would reduce deficits by about $282 billion. In addition, the changes in economic output and other macroeconomic variables that would result from enacting the legislation would reduce deficits by about $193 billion, CBO and JCT estimate. The budgetary effects of the act would result from changes to both direct spending and revenues. (CBO has not estimated any effects this act might have on discretionary spending.)" In "Budgetary Effects of H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, as Passed by the Senate on December 3, 2015," Congressional Budget Office, 11 December 2015.

            "A new study reveals that many Obamacare customers pay more than 10 percent of their incomes toward coverage. And te share of income eaten up can be much greater for some people, particularly if they use a lot of health services under their plan." In "Obamacare plans put big dent in customers' wallets," by Dan Mangan, CNBC, 24 December 2015.

           "The study found that the median single enrollee earning between $35,310 and $47,080, or a family of four earning between $72,750 and $97,000, will spend almost 15 percent of their income next year on Obamacare insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs in 2016, even with federal government subsidies. The percentages increase for those with worsening health and those over age 45. And 10 percent of people in the income range the Urban Institute researchers looked at, between 200 percent and 500 percent of the federal poverty level, will spend more than 21 percent of their income on health care costs." In "Affordable Care Act Hasn’t Made Health Care Affordable, Study Finds," by Millie Dent, Fiscal Times via Yahoo Finance, 29 December 2015.

 

2016 - A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than seven million people who are eligible for exchange coverage would pay less in penalties than for the least expensive insurance available to them. More than half would not qualify for subsidies, the analysis found." In "Many See I.R.S. Fines as More Affordable Than Insurance," by Abby Goodnough, New York Times, 3 January 2016.

           "This year, the penalties are hitting harder, ranging from a minimum of $700 for an individual to as much as $10,000 for a family of four, depending on income. The average penalty in 2016 will be $969. That’s a 47 percent increase from last year, according to a recent analysis by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation."  In "No health insurance? Californians face tax bite of up to $10,000 per family," by Claudia Buck, McClatchy, 14 January 2016.

           "UnitedHealth, based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, shocked the health sector in November when it said it planned to scale back its offerings in the marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act, citing a sicker-than-expected customer base which the company said was skewing the economics of the plan. It doubled down on that threat on Tuesday. 'By mid-2016, we will determine to what extent, if any, we will continue to offer products in the exchange market in 2017,' UnitedHealth Group President and Chief Financial Officer David S. Wichmann told investors." In "UnitedHealth loses $720 million offering plans under Obamacare, may withdraw next year," by Tom Howell Jr., Washington Times, 19 January 2016.

           "Christina Loucks of Franklin, Tennessee, a small city near Nashville, says the way she figures it, she might still come out ahead financially by paying a $695 fine. The insurance plans she's looked at would cost her about $100 a month in premiums, after subsidies. That works out to around $1,200 a year. But the coverage comes with deductibles of several thousand dollars. If she got seriously ill, she would be on the hook for that before her insurance started paying. Normally, she just goes to the doctor for allergy prescriptions." In "Health Care Fines Press Millennials as Deadline Nears," by Associated Press, 27 January 2016.

           "Stung by losses under the federal health law, major insurers are seeking to sharply limit how policies are sold to individuals in ways that consumer advocates say seem to discriminate against the sickest and could hold down future enrollment. In recent days Anthem, Aetna and Cigna, all among the top five health insurers, told brokers they will stop paying them sales commissions to sign up most customers who qualify for new coverage outside the normal enrollment period, according to the companies and broker documents." In "Licking Wounds, Insurers Accelerate Moves To Limit Health-Law Enrollment," by Jay Hancock, Kaiser Health News, 4 February 2016.

           "With billions in taxpayer dollars at stake, the Obama administration has taken a 'passive' approach to identifying potential fraud involving the president's health care law, nonpartisan congressional investigators say in a report due out Wednesday." In "Feds 'Passive' About Policing Obamacare Fraud, Report Finds," by Associated Press via NBC News, 24 February 2016.

           "It is now defunct. Cover Oregon is a case study in government incompetence and corruption. The $300 million the state got from Washington to build its exchange remains up in smoke. The state continues to pursue a lawsuit against its vendor, mostly, it seems, to drive up billables for a Portland law firm connected to John Kitzhaber, the former governor forced from office as the exchange was collapsing." In "Oregon’s Obamacare Disaster," by Brian McNicoll, Townhall, 26 February 2016.

           "The company even took the hard line of walking away from business. In New Mexico, the company sought a rate increase averaging 51.6 percent, after it said it lost $19.2 million in 2014 on its individual business in the state. New Mexico insurance regulators rejected the request but were willing to approve a lower increase, according to published reports. Instead, HCSC pulled out of the New Mexico exchange." In "Blue Cross parent lost $1.5 billion on individual health plans last year," by Ameet Sachdev, Chicago Tribune, 11 March 2016.

           "President Obama described ObamaCare as a great product. So why did one in four of those who signed up in 2015 cancel their plans?" In "25% Dumped Their ObamaCare Plans Last Year, White House Admits," Editorial Board, Investors, 15 March 2016.

           "...the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that President Obama's centerpiece legislation would result in an average of 201 million people having private health insurance in any given month of 2016. Now that 2016 is here, the CBO says that just 177 million people, on average, will have private health insurance in any given month of this year—a shortfall of 24 million people. Indeed, based on the CBO's own numbers, it seems possible that Obamacare has actually reduced the number of people with private health insurance." In "CBO Misses Its Obamacare Projection by 24 Million People," by Jeffrey H. Anderson, Weekly Standard, 28 March 2016.

           "Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota increased its individual health insurance premiums by an average of 49 percent in 2016. Even with that increase, the health insurer is expected to endure significant financial losses through 2016. Blue Plus, another Minnesota health insurance company, increased its rates by 45 percent; and Group Health Inc. and HealthPartners Insurance Co. increased their rates by over 30 percent." In "Statewide view: Obamacare anything but affordable for millennials," by Lindsey Stroud, Duluth News Tribune, 2 April 2016.

           "...several trends are coming together that suggest that pattern will break when plan premiums are announced in early November. Many plans may increase prices by 10 percent, or more. Over the last two years, I’ve written articles warning against scary headlines that exaggerate premium increases. Next year, those scary headlines are more likely to be accurate." In "Get Ready for Higher Obamacare Rates Next Year," by Margor Sanger-Katz, New York Times, 6 May 2016.

          Only days later in the NYT:  "They bought policies on the newly created New York State exchange. But when they called doctors and hospitals in Manhattan to schedule appointments, they were dismayed to be turned away again and again with a common refrain: 'We don’t take Obamacare,' the umbrella epithet for the hundreds of plans offered through the president’s signature health legislation." In "Sorry, We Don’t Take Obamacare," by Elizabeth Roesenthal, New York Times, 14 May 2016.

           "Highmark is suing the government demanding payment of almost $223 million, the full amount to which the health insurer says it is legally entitled for 2014 under an Obamacare program designed to limit the business risk of selling plans. Highmark's suit, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, effectively rejects the government's position, announced last year, that it would pay Obamacare insurers only 12.6 percent of what they were claiming under the health-care law's 'risk-corridor' program. Because of that policy, all eligible Obamacare insurers are being paid just $362 million out of the $2.87 billion they had claimed for 2014. Highmark itself has gotten about $27 million." In "Health insurer Highmark sues US over Obamacare payments," by Dan Mangan, CNBC, 18 May 2016.

           "Several notable insurers requested large increases for 2017. UnitedHealthcare, which has pulled out of insurance marketplaces in many other states, asked for a 45.6% increase to premiums. Though UnitedHealthcare is the largest U.S. insurer, it signed up just 2% of individuals who purchased insurance through New York State of Health last year. Oscar, the venture-capital darling that recently raised $400 million in a financing round from Fidelity, asked for an 18.4% average increase. In a letter to insurance brokers, the Manhattan company said its rate hikes ranged from 8% to 30% around the state. Though the insurer is valued at $2.7 billion, based on the money it has raised, it lost $120 million last year." In "New York Obamacare insurers ask for big rate hikes, Health insurers are requesting double-digit bumps to premiums across the state, with UnitedHealthcare seeking a 45.6% hike," by Jonathan LaMantia, Crain's New York, 18 May 2017.

           "Adjusted projections show InHealth Mutual would end the year with negative $20 million in assets if it were to continue to operate, according to the agency's complaint in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. Medical claims were coming in this year at a pace of $3 million a week, said an InHealth board resolution consenting to liquidation that was attached to the state complaint. Actuaries estimated it would have had to increase premiums by 60 percent in 2017 to catch up." In "Ohio shutting down state's Obamacare nonprofit co-op InHealth – claims paced $3M per week," by Carrie Ghose, Columbus Business First, 26 May 2016.

           "...UnitedHealth announced it was leaving most of the 34 states where it offers Obamacare plans, citing financial problems that include a lack of profitability in the exchanges. Other insurers have followed suit, including Humana, which has said it may exit some insurance markets or raise premiums to ensure sustainability." In "UnitedHealth pulls out of Obamacare in California," by Robert King, Washington Examiner, 31 May 2016.

           "...Prices for silver health plans on the federal exchange rose 42 percent from 2015 to 2016...." In "Oklahoma Had Highest Price Increases On Federal Insurance Marketplace Last Year," by Adam Brooks, KGOU News, 1 June 2016.

           "The largest health insurer in Texas wants to raise its rates on individual policies by an average of nearly 60 percent, a new sign that President Barack Obama’s overhaul hasn’t solved the problem of price spikes." In "Blue Cross asking for 60 percent rate hike for Obamacare plans in Texas in 2017," by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Dallas Morning News, 1 June 2016.

           "Around 92,000 people with individual plans from UnitedHealthcare, Humana Insurance, RMHP and Anthem will need to find other coverage for 2017 during open enrollment, Nov. 1, 2016–Jan. 31, 2017. This represents approximately 20 percent of the 450,000 Coloradans who get their insurance through the individual market, either through the state exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, or off the exchange." In "Division of Insurance releases preliminary 2017 health insurance information," Department of Regulatory Agencies, State of Colorado, June 2016.

           "Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, the biggest player in the state with 103,000 individual market customers, is the latest insurer to pull back from the state's ObamaCare exchange after piling up $500 million in losses. The hit to Minnesotans buying coverage on and off the exchange is just the latest in a series problems for what ranks as among the least-stable markets in the nation. In 2014, the dominant insurer in the marketplace, PreferredOne, dropped out of the exchange. For 2016, Blue Cross and Blue Shield hiked premiums by 49%." In "Minnesota Shows Everything That's Wrong With ObamaCare," by Jed Graham, Investors, 27 June 2016.

           "The insurance companies in question were told by the Obama administration that they could expect to have their bottom lines propped up by the 'risk corridor' program. The magical thinking behind this boondoggle was that insurers enjoying big profits from Obamacare would pay into a pool from which less fortunate plans would be subsidized. In late 2015, however, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that profitable insurers had paid in a mere $362 million while their unprofitable counterparts had requested $2.87 billion to cover their losses. Thus, the losers would be paid only 12.6 percent of their requests. Since that unwelcome news was delivered, Health Republic Insurance Company has filed a class action lawsuit against the government for $5 billion, Highmark Health has sued for $223 million, Moda Health filed a $180 million suit, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina has sued for $129 million, and Land of Lincoln Health has filed a $70 million suit. It isn’t clear that these lawsuits are going anywhere. The defendant in the class action suit, for example, is “The United States of America” and the plaintiffs ask the court to strike down provisions of two congressional budget resolutions that require the risk corridor program to be budget neutral." In "Insurers Try to Sue Their Way Free of Faustian Bargain," by David Catron, American Spectator, 28 June 2016.

           "Illinois moved Tuesday to take control of Land of Lincoln Health to begin an orderly shutdown of the insurance company, meaning about 49,000 people will lose their health coverage in the coming months. The state said it will allow policyholders to buy coverage from a different insurer before their Land of Lincoln plans are terminated, but it's unclear when the policies will lapse." In "Illinois seeks to shut down state Obamacare insurer; 49,000 to lose insurance," by By Ameet Sachdev, Chicago Tribune, 13 July 2016.

           "Monthly premiums in California's health insurance exchange will increase by more than 13 percent on average next year after two major insurers requested large rate increases, officials said Tuesday. The increases are significantly higher than the 4 percent hikes in each of the last two years. They come as many other states report big premium spikes in the fourth year of President Barack Obama's health overhaul." In "Covered California proposes 13 percent premium increase," by Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press, 19 July 2016.

          "Humana, one of the nation’s top health insurers, is pulling out of ObamaCare plans in all but a handful of states after a year of nearly $1 billion in losses. The company plans to exit nearly half of the markets next year, it announced during an earnings report Thursday. It will take part in 'no more' than 11 state marketplaces, down from 19 states this year, the company said." In "Humana to leave 'substantially all' ObamaCare markets," by Sarah Ferris, The Hill, 21 July 2016.

          "In Illinois, Oregon and Ohio, a combined total of about 92,000 people are being forced to find a new plan. A co-op in a fourth state, Connecticut, will last until the end of the year. The Obama administration acknowledges there are extra problems when a co-op shuts down in the middle of the year. At a Senate hearing in March, Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), admitted that a co-op in Iowa and Nebraska, called CoOportunity, should have been shut down before it entered 2015. The co-op ended up failing shortly into the year." In "Frustration mounts over ObamaCare co-op failures," by Peter Sullivan, The Hill, 1 August 2016.

          "In a recent report to Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the cost of expansion was $6,366 per person for 2015, about 49 percent higher than previously estimated." In "Cost of Obamacare Medicaid Expansion 49% Higher Than Previously Estimated," by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Cybercast News, 12 August 2016.

          "If insurers continue to lose money, more are likely to withdraw from the marketplaces, a move that would reduce choices for consumers and could contribute to higher premiums. In one county, Aetna’s exit in 2017 could leave no insurers offering policies through its marketplace. Aetna said it will exit 11 of the 15 states where it offers coverage through the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare. That affects about 80 percent of its customers covered through insurance marketplaces." In "Aetna decision exposes weaknesses in Obama’s health-care law," by Carolyn Y. Johnson and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, 16 August 2016.

          "Many companies are cutting jobs in response to rising health care costs spurred by the Affordable Care Act, according to a new survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York." In "Obamacare Causing Companies to Cut Jobs," by Vipal Monga, Wall Street Journal, 16 August 2016.

          "Seven entire states are projected to have just one carrier in 2017: Alaska, Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming, according to research by the Avalere consultancy. And more than half of the country, 55 percent, may end up having two or fewer insurers to choose from on those government-run exchanges, Avalere said. 'And there may be some sub-region counties where no plans are available,' a report by Avalere on its analysis found." In "One-third of US won't have choice between Obamacare plans in 2017," by Dan Managan, CNBC, 22 August 2016.

          "Now that the Obama administration is in its waning months, the media have been less reticent about reporting the truth about 'reform's' catalogue of failures. Even the most biased outlets have reported on the exodus of insurers from Obamacare’s exchanges. The New York Times, for example, provides an honest report on a study showing that '17 percent of Americans eligible for an Affordable Care Act plan may have only one insurer to choose next year.' Even more amazing is a report from CNBC titled, 'Aetna’s Obamacare pullout means the 'insurance death spiral' has arrived.' When a notorious purveyor of White House talking points runs such a story, written by a longtime Obamacare critic like Sally Pipes, it’s safe to say that the 'it’s working' argument is a goner. More to the point, however, is this passage: 'Obamacare’s critics have long predicted that exchange plans’ high premiums and deductibles would keep all but the sickest Americans from enrolling… insurers would lose money no matter how much they raised premiums. Eventually, insurers would have no choice but to pull out'." In "Obamacare’s Collapse: The Weirdest Excuse Yet," by David Catron, Spectator, 22 August 2016.

          "...in July 2013, the website told consumers that they 'may be able to keep your current doctor,' in contrast to the president's unequivocal statement: 'Here is a guarantee that I've made. If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance. If you've got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor'." In "Obamacare Website No Longer Addresses 'You Can Keep Your Doctor'," by Jeryl Bier, Weekly Standard, 24 August 2016.

          "This week Illinois' insurance regulator said ObamaCare premiums in the state will jump as high as 55%. The Obama administration's response to this and other news of massive rate hikes: Don't worry. Be happy. Anyone shopping for ObamaCare coverage in Illinois this fall is in for a big shock. The average increase for cheap Bronze plans is likely 44%. It's 45% for the lowest-cost Silver plan, and 55% for the cheapest Gold plan." In "Massive ObamaCare Rate Hikes Are A Good Thing, White House Says," Investors Editorial, 26 August 2016.

          "...the administration’s promise of a menu of health-plan choices has been replaced by a grim, though preliminary, forecast: Next year, more than 1 in 4 counties are at risk of having a single insurer on its exchange, said Cynthia Cox, who studies health reform for the Kaiser Family Foundation. Debate over how perilous the predicament is for the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, is nearly as partisan as the divide over the law itself. But at the root of the problem is this: The success of the law depends fundamentally on the exchanges being profitable for insurers — and that requires more people to sign up." In "Health-care exchange sign-ups fall far short of forecasts," by Carolyn Y. Johnson, Washington Post, 27 August 2016.

          "Obamacare failed because it flunked Economics 101 and Human Nature 101. It straitjacketed insurers into providing overly expensive, soup-to-nuts policies. It wasn't flexible enough so that people could buy as much coverage as they wanted and could afford — not what the government dictated. Many healthy people primarily want catastrophic coverage. Obamacare couldn't lure them in, couldn't persuade them to buy on the chance they'd get sick. Obamacare failed because the penalties for going uncovered are too low when stacked against its skyrocketing premium costs. Next year, the penalty for staying uninsured is $695 per adult, or perhaps 2.5 percent of a family's taxable household income. That's far less than many Americans would pay for coverage. Financial incentive: Skip Obamacare." In "Editorial: Why Obamacare failed," Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, 9 September 2106.

          "Prices for medicine, doctor appointments and health insurance rose the most last month since 1984. The price increases come amid a broader debate about climbing health care costs and high premiums for Obamacare coverage. A recent report by Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits forecasts that the average family health care plan will cost $18,142, up 3.4% from 2015. That's faster than wage growth in America." In "Health care costs rise by most in 32 years," by Patrick Gillespie, CNN, 16 September 2016.

          "...there’s no end in sight for the losses that he said forced the Omaha-based insurance company to remove itself from the exchange for 2017, only hours before the deadline to stay or leave. Although Blue Cross’ individual exchange policies cover only about 20,000 of its 750,000 customers, those policies have lost $140 million since 2014. If Blue Cross remained in the market, it estimated that the loss could reach $250 million by the end of 2017. 'We cannot take another hit,' Martin said." In "Blue Cross Blue Shield out of Nebraska's Obamacare marketplace; may return if changes to law are made," by Steve Jordon, World-Herald, 24 September 2016.

          In an election cycle, "Clinton went on to say that Obamacare 'works fine' for people with 'modest' incomes or who are eligible for government subsidies, but 'the people that are getting killed in this deal are small business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies.' He added: 'You’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half'." In "Bill Clinton on Obamacare: '“It’s the craziest thing in the world'," by Paul Mirengoff, Powerline, 3 October 2016.

          "BlueCross is only the latest insurer to head for the exits. Community Health Alliance, the insurance co-op established under ObamaCare, is winding down due to financial failure, leaving 30,000 people without coverage. UnitedHealthcare said in April it is departing Tennessee’s exchange after significant losses. That’s another 41,000 people needing new plans. All told, more than 60% of our state’s ObamaCare consumers will lose their coverage heading into 2017. When they go in search of a replacement plan, they will confront two unfortunate realities: a dearth of options and skyrocketing costs." In "ObamaCare’s Meltdown Has Arrived," by Andrew Ogles and Luke Hilgemann, Wall Street Journal, 7 October 2016.

          "At least 1.4 million people in 32 states will lose the Obamacare plan they have now, according to state officials contacted by Bloomberg. That’s largely caused by Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and some state or regional insurers quitting the law’s markets for individual coverage." In "More Than 1 Million in Obamacare to Lose Plans as Insurers Quit," by Zachary Tracer, Tatiana Darie and Katherine Doherty, Bloomberg, 14 October 2016.

          "Because of market turmoil and decisions by United Healthcare and Aetna to withdraw from Affordable Care Act exchanges in Pennsylvania for 2017, the remaining insurer in the Philadelphia area, Independence Blue Cross, has been granted a bigger rate increase -- 28 percent -- than it requested in the spring, the state Insurance Department said Monday. Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller said additional companies beyond United and Aetna were considering ending their ACA individual-exchange businesses in Pennsylvania. If that happened, some counties might have been left without any offerings on the exchange, which is where individuals have to buy plans to qualify for federal subsidies." In "Phila. area faces hefty increases in Affordable Care Act rates," by Harold Brubaker, Philadelphia Inquirer, 17 October 2016.

          "...Obama also admitted that there are problems with the law that need to be addressed, including costly premiums and persistent gaps in coverage. 'Part of the problem is a Democratic President named Barack Obama passed the law,' the president said to cheers. 'But just because a lot of the Republican criticism has proven to be false doesn’t mean that there aren’t legitimate concerns.' Obama compared the Affordable Care Act as it exists today to a 'starter home,' saying it was a good first step to reducing the U.S. uninsured rate." In "President Obama Explains How He Wants to Fix Obamacare in Speech at Florida College," by Maya Rhodan, Time, 20 October 2016.

          "Some of Chicago’s largest hospitals said they will not be part of any Cook County Affordable Care Act marketplace plans in 2017. University of Chicago Medical Center and Rush University Medical Center both said they don’t plan to be in network for any Obamacare marketplace plans next year. The change means patients with doctors at those hospitals will either need to find a plan off the marketplace, and lose Obamacare subsides, or find a new doctor." In "Major Chicago Hospitals Not In 2017 Obamacare Marketplace Plans," by Shannon Heffernan, WBEZ Chicago, 19 October 2016.

          "Insurers are raising the 2017 premiums for a popular and significant group of health plans sold through HealthCare.gov by an average of 25 percent, more than triple the increase for this year, according to new government figures. The spike in average rates for the 38 states that rely on the federal marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act was announced by federal health officials on Monday." In "Obamacare premiums to go up by double digits," by Amy Goldstein, Washington Post, 24 October 2016.

          "When the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period begins next week customers will see some changes, including fewer choices and higher prices. In Pennsylvania, the number of insurers in the marketplace has gone from 13 to eight. In Philadelphia, just two insurers are left and premiums are expected to rise 53 percent." In "Open Enrollment In Affordable Care Marketplace Will Bring Unpleasant Changes To Consumers," by Pat Loeb, CBS Philly, 24 October 2016.

          "According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, premiums in the Sunshine State are set to go up by as much as 27 percent. Other states are looking much worse. Oklahoma is looking at a 75% increase." In "Obamacare premiums in Florida to rise up to 27%," by Wanda Moore, WPTV Florida, 1 November 2016.

          "While Obamacare has brought health insurance to millions of people in the U.S., some in the program are finding that the medical care they need is too expensive to actually use. Michelle Harris, a 61-year-old retired waitress in northwest Montana, has arthritis in both shoulders. She gets a tax subsidy to help buy coverage under Obamacare, though she still pays $338 a month for the BlueCross BlueShield plan. Yet with its $4,500 deductible, she says she’s doing everything she can to avoid seeing a doctor." In "These Patients Are Covered by Obamacare But Can’t Afford Treatment," by Zachary Tracer and Katherin Doherty, Bloomberg, 4 November 2016.

          "The nation’s health care tab grew at the fastest rate in eight years in 2015, driven by the coverage expansion in President Barack Obama’s law and by costly prescription drugs, the government said Friday. The growth of 5.8 percent in 2015 boosted total health care spending to $3.2 trillion. That’s an average of $9,990 per person, although the vast share of that money is spent caring for the sickest patients." In "US health care tab hits $3.2 trillion; fastest growth in eight years," by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press, 2 December 2016.

          "Research by the Center for Health and Economy has found the sum will be needed to cover double-digit premium hikes. "In "Obama's healthcare reforms will cost taxpayers an extra $10 BILLION next year because of double-digit premium hikes, new study finds," by Associated Press, 15 December 2016.

 

2016 - " 'Largely every projection it had, they failed, yet they gave the executives over $170,000 in performance bonuses with little to no documentation. Now the federal government is saying, ‘Hey, we would like our 10 million dollars back please,’ ' she said. 'Ultimately these are the kind of deals that create the distrust in government that has created this political environment'." In "Federal report finds Colorado Obamacare exchange potentially misused millions," by Chris Vanderveen, KUSA-NBC 9News, 4 January 2017.

          "Remember when Democrats were promising that ObamaCare would cut the deficit by $1 trillion in its second decade? Turns out they were off by, well, about $1 trillion. A report from the centrist Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says that, left in place, ObamaCare would reduce the deficit by between $350 billion and $150 billion over the next 10 years, depending on whether or not you account for the economic harm caused by the law. It might look like a big number, but it's far smaller than the $1 trillion Democrats promised. What's more, a realistic accounting shows that ObamaCare is on track to substantially increase the federal deficits." In "Another ObamaCare Promise Bites The Dust ," Editorial board, Investor's Business Daily, 5 January 2017.

          "Aetna Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini escalated his criticism of the Affordable Care Act, saying Obamacare’s markets are nearing failure as premiums climb and healthier individuals drop out." In "Aetna CEO: Obamacare in 'Death Spiral'," by Zachary Tracer and Katherine Greifeld, Bloomberg, 15 February 2017.

 

 =    >   ≠

 

          Detail from an editorial cartoon [below] captures the many administrative changes made in the PPACA over years:  "President Obama this week approved yet another delay to provisions in the Affordable Care Act, giving insurers until 2016 to sell a type of insurance policy that’s supposed to be banned under the health-reform law. The ban, which was supposed to begin this year, would prevent insurers from selling bare-bones plans that might be affordable but don’t abide by 10 'essential service rules' required under the new law. When insurers began canceling such coverage last year, however, several million Americans were forced off plans they had chosen, with most alternatives being more expensive. That undermined Obama’s frequent claim that 'if you like your health insurance, you can keep it,' and turned into one of the most controversial elements of a law that hardly lacks detractors. In November, Obama announced a one-year delay in the ban on 'substandard' plans, as he used to call them. Now, extending the delay to 2016 will “provide consumers with choices so they can decide what is best,” the government says. Yet these limbo plans — temporarily allowed but bound to vanish at some point — defy the whole intent of Obamacare, as if the president is losing faith in his own plan. 'This is a political move to minimize the impact of this as an argument against Democratic candidates,' says Sean Nicholson, a management professor at Cornell University." In "Even Obama seems to be losing faith in Obamacare," by Rick Newman, Yahoo Finance, 7 March 2014.

 

Detail from a Gary Varvel editorial cartoon, 7 March 2014

  

Looking back, while counting upwards to down, one can remember -- "It's going to be very, very exciting."    [ 7 ]

Yes it is, because it is what it is.      [ 8 ]

 

It is Believed to be Unaffordable:   "The surveys offer no evidence that the rule changes contribute to the insurance marketplaces' relatively low popularity among the nation's uninsured. One of the surveys, by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., shows that among people who are uninsured and do not intend to get a health plan through one of the exchanges, the biggest factor is that they believe they cannot afford it." In "New health insurance marketplaces signing up few uninsured Americans, two surveys find," by Amy Goldstein, Washington Post, 6 March 2014.

 

And It Is Unrecognizable:   "HHS is also trying to pre-empt the inevitable political blowback from the nasty 2015 tax surprise of fining the uninsured for being uninsured, which could help reopen ObamaCare if voters elect a Republican Senate this November. Keeping its mandate waiver secret for now is an attempt get past November and in the meantime sign up as many people as possible for government-subsidized health care. Our sources in the insurance industry are worried the regulatory loophole sets a mandate non-enforcement precedent, and they're probably right. The longer it is not enforced, the less likely any President will enforce it. The larger point is that there have been so many unilateral executive waivers and delays that ObamaCare must be unrecognizable to its drafters, to the extent they ever knew what the law contained." In "ObamaCare's Secret Mandate Exemption," Wall Street Journal editorial, 11 March 2014.

 

Mission Accomplished:   "Health insurance premiums are showing the sharpest increases perhaps ever according to a survey of brokers who sell coverage in the individual and small group market. Morgan Stanley’s healthcare analysts conducted the proprietary survey of 148 brokers. The April survey shows the largest acceleration in small and individual group rates in any of the 12 prior quarterly periods when it has been conducted. The average increases are in excess of 11% in the small group market and 12% in the individual market. Some state show increases 10 to 50 times that amount. The analysts conclude that the 'increases are largely due to changes under the ACA'." In "Survey Of 148 Insurance Brokers, With Delaware Up 100%, California 53%, Florida 37%, Pennsylvania 28%," by Scott Gottlieb, MD, Forbes, 7 April 2014.

 

Mission Not Accomplished:   "The Obama administration is struggling to resolve widespread data discrepancies that could call into question coverage for millions under the health overhaul, the government's health care fraud watchdog reported Tuesday. In a pair of reports, the Health and Human Services inspector general found that key personal details submitted by many consumers do not match up with records the government has on file. It also found shortcomings in the internal safeguards used by the federal insurance exchange and some state marketplaces to check the accuracy of information submitted by consumers. That's critically important, because it can affect an individual's eligibility for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance." In "IG Report: Obama administration struggles to resolve "inconsistencies" in health sign-ups," by Ricarso Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press, 1 July 2014.

 

A Net Gain of Zero At Best:  "We were led to believe that the Affordable Care Act will take care of 47 million uninsured Americans when it comes to their healthcare. According to the 2010 projections by the Centers for Medicine and Medicaid Services (CMS), 14 million Americans will enroll in 2014 in the new Health Insurance Exchanges. That would still leave 33 million Americans uninsured by the end of this year. Yet even that modest forecast has already been reduced by half, with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projecting that just 7 million Americans will enroll this year. So that will leave some 40 million Americans uninsured. These figures are well short of the goal of delivering affordable health care to all. Compounding the problem is that millions of Americans are already receiving cancellation notices for their current policies, a number that can reach an estimated 7 to 12 million because those policies do not meet the ACA's mandated standards. That will leave the net gain of zero at best, based on the government's latest projections of 7 million enrollees or net negative of 5 million more uninsured if the cancellation hits 12 million as reported by NBC. Do the math and you're back to about 47 million uninsured, the same number as before Obamacare became law." In "Do the Math: Obamacare Won't Change the Number of Uninsured," by Munir Moon, Huffington Post, 5 February 2014.

 

A Public Employee Stating ObamaCare will "hurt" them:  Interesting detail from a public employee union which seeks to avoid participating in the PPACA:   "H.R. 1780 (Camp, R-Mich.) would require most federal employees to leave the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and instead join health plans established under the Affordable Care Act." In "Which of these bills can hurt you?" published by the National Treasury Employees Union, April 2014.   

 

A Court Case Decision, circa 2014:   "The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Halbig that the administration had illegally provided ObamaCare subsidies in 36 insurance exchanges run by the federal government. Yet it wasn't the 'administration' as a whole that issued the lawless subsidy gift. It was the administration acting through its new, favorite enforcer: the IRS. And it was entirely political. Democrats needed those subsidies. The party had assumed that dangling subsidies before the states would induce them to set up exchanges. When dozens instead refused, the White House was faced with the prospect that citizens in 36 states—two-thirds of the country—would be exposed to the full cost of ObamaCare's overpriced insurance. The backlash would have been horrific, potentially forcing Democrats to reopen the law, or even costing President Obama re-election." In "The ObamaCare-IRS Nexus," by Kim Strassel, Wall Street Journal, 24 July 2014.

 

A Democrat Speaks after Halbig:   "President Barack Obama made a major political mistake by lying about the details of his health care plan, according to former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.). 'The rollout was so bad, and I was appalled -- I don't understand how the president could have sat there and not been checking on that on a weekly basis,' Frank told HuffPost during a July interview. 'But frankly, he should never have said as much as he did, that if you like your current health care plan, you can keep it. That wasn't true. And you shouldn't lie to people. And they just lied to people'." In "Barney Frank 'Appalled' By Obama Administration: 'They Just Lied To People'," by Zach Carter, Huffington Post, 1 August 2014.

 

See a fable:  The Story of Innocent Bloat   and also the rhyme, You Topia 

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]   The delay comes three years after passage of the law.  "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010." Wikipedia. The article also notes this is now a historically partisan effort. "On December 23, the Senate voted 60–39 to end debate on the bill: a cloture vote to end the filibuster by opponents. The bill then passed by a vote of 60–39 on December 24, 2009, with all Democrats and two independents voting for, and all Republicans voting against except one (Jim Bunning (R-KY), not voting)."  However the long arch of this story continues, it is assured that the political divide will remain.

         As to the "tax" versus "penalty" nuance, one reads:  "In a victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld his signature health care law's individual insurance mandate in a 5-4 decision, upending speculation after hostile-seeming oral arguments in March that the justices would overturn the law. The mandate has been upheld as a tax, with Chief Justice John Roberts, a Bush appointee, joining the liberal wing of the court to save the law." In "Supreme Court upholds Obamacare individual mandate as a tax," by Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News, 28 June 2012.

 

 Tax and Not a Tax

 

         One does not finesse such words easily.  "Democrats told us Obamacare was not a tax. Then they argued in front of the Supreme Court that it was a tax. Now they want to tell us again that Obamacare is not a tax. Jack Lew, the Obama White House Chief of Staff, was trying to persuade Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday that Obamacare was not a tax. But it didn’t work out so well for Lew when Wallace played audio of the Obama lawyer arguing that Obamacare was a tax in front of the Supreme Court." In "Busted: Audio of Obama Lawyer Arguing Obamacare Is a Tax Stuns WH Chief of Staff Jack Lew (Video)," Jim Hoft, Gateway Pundit, 1 July 2012.

         And yet the word play continues:  "The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) final rule on Obamacare’s individual mandate, released this week, uses the term 'Shared Responsibility Payment' more than 50 times to describe the mandate’s non-compliance penalty, which the Supreme Court in 2012 defined as a tax. The IRS also used the term 'shared responsibility penalty' in the rule, which does not identify the individual mandate as a tax." In "New Obamacare rule uses terms ‘shared responsibility payment’ and ‘penalty’ instead of ‘tax’," by Patrick Howley, Daily Caller, 28 August 2013.  How amusing that the tax agency of the federal government is concerned with the word, "tax."

           As to an insight into a portion of the tax which is a "shared responsibility payment," see a part of what has been Passed on to you. Passed on to you? Of course, as one learns the Congress has a special relationship to Obamacare.

 

 Required Gold for the Members of Congress

 

           " 'You see, bronze and silver's only good enough for everyone else in the country. For members of Congress and members of the Senate and their staff, it's gold or nothing.' The fact sheet also says that the only way for members of Congress to get subsidies for their insurance plan is by using the Washington, D.C., health insurance exchange, or SHOP. 'All Members of Congress, including representatives of U.S. Territories, and their designated staff will be required to purchase health insurance via the DC SHOP in order to receive a Government contribution,' it says. 'The DC SHOP offers health plan options with in-network access to medical providers across the nation and overseas.' Harris said allowing members to be subsidized for only buying gold-level coverage is probably why many members don't want to eliminate the subsidy for Congress, something Republicans have been pushing." In "Congress, staff required to buy gold ObamaCare plans," by Pete Kasperowicz, The Hill, 3 October 2013.

           A year later, that "shared responsibility payment" is now entered on the proposed 1040 Form for 2014 as a tax per the graphic below. Under "Other Taxes," one finds line 61, "Health care: individual responsibility."

 

 

           Coming as it does in the calculations, it is not reduced by other deductions as are other taxes. The administration argued in court that the ACA, now called ObamaCare, was not a tax, while the Supreme Court ruled it was. It is what it is.

           Ironically, according to the proposed IRS form's verbiage this Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act turns out to be one's "individual responsibility." After selling the program as a public subsidy, out trots vocabulary that one is individually responsible. Such is bait and switch of political rhetoric.

           Individual responsibility, complete with massive cost overruns, arguments that it is and is not a tax, once said to cut costs for a family by as much as $2,500 and now found to raise premiums for many, and held aloft financially by subsidies while awash in paperwork complexity and confusion.... Are those who birthed and supported this new law, while exempting themselves, to be held individually responsible?

 

[ 2 ]   "It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow." Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 62, 1788.

 

 Let's Argue About Words

 

         As regulations continue to be issued, "voluminous" is an apt adjective, now being redefined depending on political party views.

         One read a subjective comparison:  "The law, as enacted, is 906 pages long. ...That’s still really, really long, but it brings the law down from insanely large to sometime almost manageable. It’s hard to imagine anyone reading a 2,400-page document, but 906 pages puts the law in the realm of some of Stephen King’s longer novels. (And, for Republicans, “Obamacare” is just as frightening.) To double-check the 906-page figure, I visited the Obama administration’s website for the law, HealthCare.gov. Clicking on the “Full Text of the Affordable Care Act” link yields a 974-page PDF." In "Is 'Obamacare' really that long?" by Tom Giffey, Leader-Telegram, 17 July 2012.

         One reads a year after that rationale of the continuing new regulations which have come from the 906 page law:  "The 109 final Obamacare rules that have been published in the Federal Register so far take up 10,516 pages in the register. These pages carry an average of about 1,000 words each. So, the final Obamacare regulations published so far amount to approximately 10,516,000 words. This is only an approximation, of course, because some pages in the Federal Register carry more words than others, and some regulations end in the beginning or middle of a page. The final Obamacare rules that have been published so far range from the regulation for implementing an excise tax on tanning services, to a 546-page regulation on hospital payment systems, an 196-page regulation on electronic health records, revisions to Medicare and an 111-page regulation for the Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP)." In "Obamacare Regulations Are 8 Times Longer Than Bible," by Penny Starr, CNS News, 10 September 2013.  Objectively, this is a little larger than Giffey's comparison to "some of Stephen King’s longer novels."

         A review of a new book suggests an increasing complexity:  "Don Silver, a personal-finance author, has written an e-book to help explain the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare. 'This book is dedicated to both the tens of thousands of government workers who either participated in creating the 20,000 pages of law and regulations of ObamaCare, or will be involved in implementing and enforcing the law as well as the millions of individuals and families in the United States who will be part of this social experiment,' Silver writes." In "Food for thought on Obamacare," Philly.com, 11 September 2013.

        The caution Hamilton made in 1788 seems more than apt in 2013, "no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow." From the perspective of the Coase theorem, it seems sure that " institutions that minimize transaction costs, so as to allow misallocations of resources to be corrected as cheaply as possible" has become its polar opposite. This suggests some basic and predictable outcomes which Coase's studies imply.  See:  Incompetence  - from whence to thence.

 

[ 3 ]    One notices some media is criticizing other media with the condemnation contained herein: "...liberal pundits cling to ObamaCare. They know all too well it is the only 'get' from this president, and without it the most liberal president ever elected will not have advanced their agenda one iota (unless you count slashing defense). Their agenda, however, doesn’t include protecting union employees. Nor does it include sheltering young voters from the burden of buying insurance they don’t want and can’t afford. It doesn’t include protection of the low-wage workers whose hours were slashed. The modern, liberal welfare state is a goal unto itself; the 'people' be damned." In "Liberals turn on ObamaCare," by Jennifer Rubin, New York Post, 14 September 2013.

 

 Creating Appearances

 

        Looking back one finds the "broad consensus" for the act was less than that. One reads:  "Far more troubling, however, is the lack of disclosure on the part of the White House, the Senate, the DNC and other Democratic leaders who distributed Gruber's work and cited it as independent validation of their proposals, orchestrating the appearance of broad consensus when in fact it was all part of the same effort. The White House is placing a giant collective bet on Gruber's 'assumptions' to justify key portions of the Senate bill such as the 'Cadillac tax,' which they allowed people to believe was independent verification. Now that we know that Gruber's work was not that of an independent analyst but rather work performed as a contractor to the White House and paid for by taxpayers, and economists like Larry Mishel are raising serious questions about its validity, it should be made publicly available so others can judge its merits. Gruber began negotiating a sole-source contract with the Department of Health and Human Services in February of 2009, for which he was ultimately paid $392,600. The contract called for Gruber to use his statistical model for evaluating alternatives 'derived from the President's health reform proposal.' It was not a research grant, but rather a consulting contract to advise the White House Office of Health Reform, headed by Obama's health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, to 'develop proposals' for health care reform." In "How the White House Used Gruber's Work to Create Appearance of Broad Consensus," by Jane Hamsher, Huffington Post, 25 May 2011.

        In the passing years, Gruber has become a celebrity of sorts by declaring the American voter "stupid."

 

[ 4 ]    One reads that some in the politically connected elite reap a windfall, and so: "The nation's health care spending will jump by 6.1 percent next year as the big coverage expansion in President Barack Obama's overhaul kicks in, government experts predicted Wednesday. That's more than 2 percentage points higher than the growth rate forecast for this year, and compares with a growth rate that has hovered under 4 percent, historically low, for the past four years." In "Government Says Health Spending to Jump Next Year," by Andrew Miga, Associated Press, 18 September 2013.

        While projected costs "jump by 6.1 percent next year," one also learns that fewer will benefit than was forecast:  "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services now expects 11 million uninsured Americans to obtain coverage next year, down from about 22 million projected a year ago, according to the report, which appeared in the journal Health Affairs. It said healthcare spending would rise 6.1 percent in 2014, partly due to the implementation of Obamacare, compared with a previous projection of an increase of 7.4 percent." In "U.S. government scales back Obamacare impact for 2014," by David Morgan, Reuters, 18 September 2013. The "projection" adjustment is halved. How often do private concerns, small businesses as much as families and individuals. miss "projections" by half?  See: Incompetence - from whence to thence, which is found above.

        Indeed, it seems 'adjustments' have been made throughout the process.

 

 Stark Gap Between Promise and Reality

 

        "The Obamacare that consumers will finally be able to sign up for next week is a long way from the health plan President Barack Obama first pitched to the nation. Millions of low-income Americans won’t receive coverage. Many workers at small businesses won’t get a choice of insurance plans right away. Large employers won’t need to provide insurance for another year. Far more states than expected won’t run their own insurance marketplaces. And a growing number of workers won’t get to keep their employer-provided coverage. Every branch of the federal government played a role in weakening the law over the past three years, the casualty of a divisive legislative fight, a surprise Supreme Court ruling, a complex implementation and an unrelenting political opposition. The result has been a stark gap between the promise of Obamacare and the reality — one that has fueled a deep vein of skepticism about the law as it enters its most critical phase." In "Obamacare: One blow after another," by Jennifer Haberkorn and Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico, 23 September 2013.

 

[ 5 ]   More on this "unfortunate side effect from the same article:  "Typing Samuel's average earnings of $15,000 a year and her state into the subsidy calculator on the Kaiser Family Foundation website, reveals that, if her employer did not offer healthcare and she were to enter a healthcare exchange, she would be eligible for government subsidy and would pay $300 a year towards the $1,449 cost of a plan. Samuels, who is already struggling financially, said this will represent a massive additional burden should her hours be cut by her employer." In "US employers slashing worker hours to avoid Obamacare insurance mandate," by Karen McVeigh, Guardian UK, 30 September 2013.

          Not factoring the insurance policies' deductibles before they pay a portion of health care costs, this example among many shows that the "poor" will be paying more either way. They will pay premiums and deductibles at some level, or they will be assigned a penalty for not paying their Shared Responsibility Payment per the new IRS rules.

          An old adage applies: damned if you do; damned if you don't.

 

[ 6 ]    While the "glitches" in the Washington State Health Care Exchange were found in 2014 and some remain unresolved, one notes that the PPACA was signed into law, 23 March 2010, and Washington State enacted its bill creating that exchange in 2011. One reads:  "With bipartisan support, the 2011 Washington State Legislature enacted Senate Bill 5445, establishing a health insurance exchange." In "Washington State Health Insurance Exchange," Washington State Hospital Association, n.d.  Thus, a federal law of 2010 becomes state law in 2011, and by mid-2014, this "exchange" is still not working correctly years after its creation.

 

[ 7 ]      "You've heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don't know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention—it's about diet, not diabetes. It's going to be very, very exciting. But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy." Nancy Pelosi, quoted in "The Ghost of Gaffes Past," David Weigel, Slate.com, 27 December 2010.

 

 Very, Very Exciting and Taken Out of Context

 

          Pelosi's "gaffe" has become oft repeated, including here. One reads a partial explanation from Pelosi herself:  "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came to the Chronicle for an editorial board meeting Wednesday. I used the opportunity to ask Pelosi about her most famous and quoted statement from 2010. On March 9, 2010, Pelosi said of the Affordable Care Act, 'We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy'. What did you mean by that? I asked. Pelosi said that the quote 'was taken out of context' and it is most often quoted 'by the far right'." In "Nancy Pelosi says she read Obamacare bill," by Debra J. Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 October 2012.  One notes in true political speech traditions, this was not an answer to the question. What did Pelosi mean? Perhaps exactly what she said; it is what it is.

         For a reflection on the terms so often used and so infrequently defined, please see: Left is Right, as Right is Left .

         For other assertions about the future outcome of the ACA which might be "taken out of context" but not easily said to be "by the far right," one recalls: "First, no matter what you’ve heard, if you like your doctor or health care plan, you can keep it." Barack Obama, "Remarks of President Barack Obama," Office of the Press Secretary, 15 August 2009.

 

 The Saddest Part

 

         From continuing news one learns, as above, that this statement is proven ever more untrue. As yet another example:  "The furious employee asked not to be identified, but the employee did write a letter. In part, it reads, 'The saddest part is when during the announcement we were told our job loss is due to the new Affordable Care Act.' An Emory spokesman, Vincent Dollard, said the new health care law backed by the president played a role in the layoffs. Dollard added the economy was also a factor." In "Emory Healthcare to cut 100 jobs partly because of Obamacare," WSB-TV Channel 2 Atlanta, 13 September 2013.

        For another "healthcare" view expressed by a member of the same political party as the president, see the rhyme and accompanying footnotes:  The Robert Reich Song  - to the tune of "The farmer in the dell."   

 

[ 8 ]   It is what it is. It is not health care. It is a "qualifying health plan." It is mandated insurance seeking premiums in a variety of methods and avenues, from purchase, to purchase with a subsidy, to a fine payable to the federal government for failure to comply.

 

 The Poor Pay Too

 

         These qualifying health plans come with deductibles at all levels, meaning the poor pay too. Strangely neither the proponents nor opponents highlight this "feature" or "unfortunate side effect" of the plan, making this observer suspicious that the whole political dance -- including much of the media -- has focused on other issues to the exclusion of this fact.

         The website for ObamaCare tells what it is. One reads:   "There are four tiers of 'qualifying health plans' you or your employer can purchase on the exchange. They range from lower quality, but more affordable 'Bronze plans', to 'Silver plans' to a more expensive plan with better coverage called a 'Gold plan'. There is also a 'Platinum plan' which is the highest quality and cost plan. Lower premium plans will have higher deductibles, less benefits and larger out of pocket costs" In "ObamaCare | Health Insurance Exchange," ObamaCareFacts.com, accessed 25 September 2013.

         The tiers are: Bronze = 60% coverage, Silver = 70% coverage, Gold = 80% coverage, and Platinum = 90% coverage, with the rest being "out-of-pocket" expenses. Doing the simplest of math, if someone with Bronze coverage suffers an accident or illness with costs of $10,000, the "out-of-pocket" expense to the ObamaCare covered customer will be $4,000. If the accident or illness' costs reach $100,000, those "out-of-pocket" expenses will total $40,000. Thus, the lowest premiums will still bring potential bankruptcy to middle and low income individuals who suffer significant costs of an illness. Thus equating the PPACA law requiring purchase of healthcare insurance with actual health care has been a false equivalence. It is a matter of requiring all to purchase a product.

 

 Opportunistic Pricing and the Outcome of Inefficiency

 

         Which Bronze-insured American might meet $100,000 in costs in a year? One reads of a significant differential in medical costs for a procedure:  "Shetty is not a public health official motivated by charity. He’s a heart surgeon turned businessman who has started a chain of 21 medical centers around India. By trimming costs with such measures as buying cheaper scrubs and spurning air-conditioning, he has cut the price of artery-clearing coronary bypass surgery to 95,000 rupees ($1,583), half of what it was 20 years ago, and wants to get the price down to $800 within a decade. The same procedure costs $106,385 at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 'The current price of everything that you see in health care is predominantly opportunistic pricing and the outcome of inefficiency,' Shetty, 60, said in an interview in his office in Bangalore, where he started his chain of hospitals, with the opening of his flagship center, Narayana Hrudayalaya Health City, in 2001." In "Heart Surgery in India for $1,583 Costs $106,385 in U.S.," by Ketaki Gokhale, Bloomberg News, 28 July 2013. Thus an American with "Bronze" ACA-approved insurance could easily experience direct billing of 40% of the cost of a coronary bypass, or $40,000, even after ObamaCare insurance.

         It is what it is. What is it? It is requiring the purchase of healthcare insurance. And so a revisit to an anonymous quote which in part spawned this essay in rhyme and news report citations:  "From the first I heard of this I could never understand how any fool could think one could add fifteen bureaucrats between a man and his doctor and reduce costs."

         It -- the "it" which Congresswoman Pelosi finds so "very, very exciting" -- is the requirement for more middlemen in medical care, the insurers in cooperation with government subsidies which will go in part to fund these private insurers. That is what "it" is.

 

 Ludicrous Prices

 

         As noted:  "This is the fundamental fact of American health care: We pay much, much more than other countries do for the exact same things." In "21 graphs that show America’s health-care prices are ludicrous," by Ezra Klein, Washington Post, 26 March 2013. One may ask, what are the forces which drive higher costs in the US than outside its borders?

         One finds an interesting argument from a physician, which is in line with the observations per the Coase theorem:  "Is it a coincidence that the only industry that uses a third party to handle almost all financial transactions has the highest rate of inflation? Paying someone to pay your bills for you will always result in you paying more (how could it not?). Sometimes people argue that healthcare is so complicated that people could never understand the cost of what it provides (even some of my colleagues in medicine have suggested this). This amazes me. We live in a society where we regularly purchase cars, plane tickets, computers, complicated cell phone plans and a multitude of other goods and services, all of which have multiple factors that contribute to their price. Still a price is given for these goods and services and that price is paid by the consumer. There is no need to bother a third party for any of these other important and complicated financial transactions. So what makes healthcare so special? What about healthcare makes it the only industry in this country where the people involved can’t place a true value on what they do?" In "The True Cost of Healthcare," by David Belk, MD, circa 2011.

         An excellent question, considering that the purchase of a home is a significantly greater purchase than the purchase of a coronary bypass. Or considering that the four-year tuition at some universities approaches these kinds of numbers as well.

         Thus, without taking the side of the proponents or the critics of ObamaCare per se, one notes simply that it is what it is. It is a according to the Supreme Court's judgment a "tax," and additionally a "mandate" that all citizens purchase insurance which is a potential windfall to insurance companies, and a monopoly in some geographic areas. When healthy people are required to enroll and pay premiums to mitigate the costs of premiums for the unhealthy, profits are assured to continue because consumers of the product must either purchase or pay increasing fines which are paid to the government -- in order that the middleman sector of the relationship between a physician and a patient prosper. It is a set of mechanisms in law which place more middlemen and "social cost" onto the health insurance system.

         Unavoidably to both its supporters and its detractors, it is what it is. A tax in part, a coerced purchase by law and all, of course, a quasi-monopoly "for the common good" -- of certain but not all insurance companies. Someone is going to pay.

         See above: Incompetence  - from whence to thence.

 

[ 9 ]   Of Kitzhaber and only three weeks before the state abolished its "bungled health insurance exchange," one reads: "Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned office Friday amid allegations of criminal wrongdoing, almost exactly one month after being sworn in for an unprecedented fourth term. Secretary of State Kate Brown will replace him." In "Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber quits amid criminal probe," by Hannah Hoffman, Statesman Journal, 14 February 2015. 

 

 Conform to a Paid Agenda

 

         As an update to that resignation, one learns:   "John Kitzhaber told his staff that new state energy policies should match those that special interests were paying his fiancée to promote, newly released records show. In "Kitzhaber told staff state policies should match Cylvia Hayes' paid agenda," by Nick Budnick, The Oregonian/OregonLive, 16 July 2015.

         The allegations of criminal wrongdoing are being further investigated.

         One might consider the relationship between government and its ability to become involved in Corruption , and so often to exhibit what its Incompetence  - from whence to thence.

 

[ 10 ]    The article also noted that the poor cannot pay what the PPACA requirements for insurance coverage demand: deductibles up front. ""...deductibles charged by some of the new insurance plans created under the health law. In many cases, they 'are running between $2,500 and $5,000,' and people can’t pay them, said Maggie Elehwany, chief lobbyist for the Rural Health Association." For the sake of the PPACA's "ten essential service rules" added to the need for insurers as well as medical industry to not lose money and thereby collapse in locales, the poor and middle classes can no longer seek out purely catastrophic coverage plans, on the one hand, or go to fully government funded trauma centers which had been applying cost shifting strategies to cover shortfalls. The poor in America by reason of the PPACA are required to pay deductibles up front, while the political imagery suggested they would receive "subsidies." The countdown continues.

 

 Uncharted Territory

 

         Alongside the countdown, the tax penalties increase, especially on the poor:  "The tax during the first year was $95 or 1 percent of income above the filing threshold — a relatively minor bite. This year, the penalty will be $325 or 2 percent of income, and by 2016 it will be $695 or 2.5 percent of income. 'The substantial increase in penalties under the individual mandate next year is a big wild card,' said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy organization. 'We’re in unchartered territory here about how effective these bigger penalties will be in nudging people to get insured'." In "Obamacare enrollees must double to make budget projections work," by Tom Howell Jr., Washington Times, 13 September 2015.

 

A REVISIT TO A PROMISE ACROSS A FEW YEARS

 

         This quote began the timeline as seen above in sampled news reports. "Obama says his health care plan will garner large savings – $120 billion a year, or $2,500 per family – with more than half coming from the use of electronic health records. And he says he’ll make that happen in his first term. We find his statements to be overly optimistic, misleading and, to some extent, contradicted by one of his own advisers. And it masks the true cost of his plan to cover millions of Americans who now have no health insurance." In "Obama’s Inflated Health 'Savings'," FactCheck.org, 16 June 2008.    See:  President Cool  

         In 2014, the math becomes clear, clarifying the "overly optimistic" and "misleading" political rhetoric:   "During his first run for president, Barack Obama made one very specific promise to voters: He would cut health insurance premiums for families by $2,500, and do so in his first term. But it turns out that family premiums have increased by more than $3,000 since Obama's vow, according to the latest annual Kaiser Family Foundation employee health benefits survey." In "Health Premiums Up $3,065; Obama Vowed $2,500 Cut," Yahoo Finance, 24 September 2012.

         Pelosi's "fog of controversy" seems to be dissipating. The basic delta between the promise and the reality?  $ 5,565.00.

 

a promised savings of   -  $2,500.00      ↔      a real increased cost of  + $ 3,065.00

 

This basic and demonstrable truth in numbers gives proof to the PPACA lie made of words, and continues to inspire an awareness of this moment in history alongside all earlier historical times when Nemesis met Hubris 

 

 


 

People walk away

"But the problem with using taxes to raise revenue was that it made the city a more expensive — and less attractive — place to live and do business. People and corporations kept leaving. " In "How Detroit went broke: The answers may surprise you - and don't blame Coleman Young," by Nathan Bomey and John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, 15 September 2013.

 

Comes that fateful day
When people walk away.
Market forces force the play,
And purchase goes astray.
What had once held its sway
Just withers with decay.

Comes, returns the future day,
As free men make their getaway.
Failing myths swing and stray
And they too pass away.
Lessons lost must then replay;
Freed people walk away.

Flux is ever underway,
As passing time will weigh
All walled and forced display,
As people stroll away.
Umbrage mounts, against delay,
For market forces disobey.

Though it seems an old cliché,
People walk away.

 

Addendum of Tourists Walking Away:  "Jordan’s tourism sector lost around 700 million dinars ($1 billion) in potential revenue last year as a result of a 'negative' image propagated by foreign media, according to government ministers. Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Samih Maaytah told a press conference that the tourism sector had generated around 2.1 billion dinars in 2010 and contributed 14 per cent to the gross domestic product. Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef Al Fayez and Jordan Tourism Board chief Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat said the government wanted the support of the media in improving the situation. 'We consider the media as a partner in promoting the interests of the country, especially considering the difficult economic and political circumstances the region has been going through,' Maaytah said." In "Jordan’s tourism sector loses $1 billion in 2011," by Musa A Keilani, The Gulf Today, 1 June, 2012.

  

Addendum of an Electronic Walking Away:  "If the FCC could be convinced to hand over some of those powerful frequencies to the public, meshes could span huge distances. 'We need free networks, and we need free bandwidth,' says Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia University and head of the Software Freedom Law Center. But given the power of the telco and defense lobbies, don't hold your breath. The notion of a truly independent global internet may still be a gleam in the eye of the meshers, but their visionary zeal is contagious. It harkens back to the early days of the digital universe, when the network consisted mostly of university scientists and researchers communicating among themselves without corporations sitting in the middle or government (that we know of) monitoring their chats. The goal then, as now, was both connection and control: an internet of one's own." In "How to Keep the NSA Out of Your Computer," by Clive Thompson, Mother Jones, September/October 2013.

   

Addendum through a Historical View: "A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for social or political reasons. Sometimes, it can be a form of consumer activism."    [ 1 ]

 

Addendum for Metro New York:   "When people leave a city, they take their incomes with them, of course. The Internal Revenue Service lets us track the flight of income by publishing migration data based on tax returns. According to the IRS, metro New York suffered a net loss of 1.4 million domestic migrants between 2000 and 2010. (The IRS’s emigration tally is smaller than the census’s because not everyone files a return.) During the 2000s, domestic emigrants took $49 billion to other parts of the country. The cumulative loss, as the years pass and people keep heading for the exits, is staggering. ...the high net outflow of people from the New York metro area bodes ill for the region’s future, as it represents a huge drain of spending power and a diminution of the tax base. People are voting with their feet to leave New York. Some may move for retirement to warmer climes, but others are doubtless leaving for a lower cost of living and lower tax rates. New York is losing out, and there’s much work to do in fixing the policies that drive up its costs and taxes." In "Leaving Town," by Aaron Renn, City Journal, Special Issue, "After Bloomberg: An Agenda for New York," 2013.

 

 Addendum of New York Statewide:   "In 2014, 126,000 New York tax filers fled to other places in the United States — more than from any other state, according to the study posted on newgeography.com by two demographers. The Empire State also lost the most 'high earners,' who reported incomes of more than $200,000 a year." In "Taxpayers are fleeing New York in droves," by Kirstan Conley and Danika Fears, New York Post, 15 September 2016.

 

Addendum for Detroit: "The Motor City's engine is dying. Detroit's population shrank by more than 25% in the last decade, according to Census statistics reported in the New York Times. The city's population fell to 713,777 in 2010, a drop of almost 240,000 residents. That's 100,000 more than Katrina-ravaged New Orleans lost." In "The Incredible Shrinking City: Detroit Is Becoming a Ghost Town," by Peter Gorenstein, The Daily Ticker, Yahoo Finance, 25 March 2011.

 

For a rhyme and commentary on the continuing story of Detroit, see:   Voted  - not sugarcoated.

 

Addendum for Evangelical Lutherans: "Nearly 30 percent of ELCA churches reported an average worship attendance of fewer than 50 people in 2010. From 2003 to 2011, average weekly worship attendance dropped 26 percent. And from 2009 to 2010, ELCA membership decreased 5.9 percent, the sharpest rate of decline among mainline denominations, according to the National Council of Churches. 'Since the inception of the ELCA, we've seen decline every year, and it has accelerated over the last five years,' said Elizabeth Eaton, bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod. 'It doesn't matter where a congregation is situated, we have congregational decline in every demographic, every geography'." In "The shrinking church," by Nicole Radziszewski, The Lutheran, ELCA, January 2013.

 

Addendum for North American Jews:  "The number of American Jewish households affiliating with a synagogue has increased by 15 percent in the past decade, even as the 'core' Jewish population is shrinking and the number of intermarried families has grown." In "Study: Shul Affiliation Rising, but Jewish Population Declining," by Julie Wiener, The Jewish Federations of North America, 27 February 2013.

 

Addendum for Britain's Jews: "...the Jewish community of Britain has changed seismically in recent years. For one thing, it has grown much smaller. The numbers have shrunk by nearly half since its high-water mark immediately after the second world war, with tens of thousands of Jews marrying out, or just opting out, of the faith, while others emigrated to the new state of Israel." In "Britain's Jews fall in number but grow in self-confidence," by Ned Temko, Guardian UK, 15 September 2013.

 

Addendum for French Jews:  "In the first three months of 2014 more Jews left France for Israel than at any other time since the Jewish state was created in 1948, with many citing rising anti-Semitism as a factor." In "Anti-Israel protesters rally across France, defying ban imposed after synagogue clash," by Nicholas Vinocur, Haaretz, 19 July 2014.

 

Addendum on a Continuing Exodus:   "The Jewish Agency, which works closely with the Israeli government and acts as a link for Jews around the world, reported that 9,880 western European Jews immigrated to Israel in 2015 — the highest annual number ever. The vast majority, close to 8,000, came from France where a rise in anti-Semitic attacks has shattered the sense of security of the world's third-largest Jewish population." In "Western Europe Jewish migration to Israel hits all-time high," by Aron Heller, Associated Press, 14 January 2016.

 

Addendum for America's Episcopalians:  "Since Spong became a bishop, the Episcopal Church nationally, whose elites often aligned with Spong, has lost 25 percent of its membership. Although Americans remain about as church-going as ever, the 50 year exodus from and demographic implosion of liberal oldline Protestant denominations continues unabated. Fifty years ago, one of every 6 Americans belonged to the largest 'Seven Sister' Mainline denominations. Today, it’s less than one of every 16 and falling. Hardline liberal church activists like Spong, of whatever age, seem largely indifferent. For them, their liberationist ideology is more important than the institutional or spiritual health of their denominations. And for them, every cause du jour is supposedly just like fighting segregation 50 years ago. Never mind that universal Christian teaching never countenanced racism and was in fact the basis for opposing it." In "Bishop Spong’s Unintended Consequence," by Mark Tooley, American Spectator, 14 October 2013.

 

Addendum for American Methodists:   "The United Methodist Church saw a reduction of at least 71,971 U.S. members in 2011. Put another way, the denomination in the United States lost in one year roughly the equivalent of the Minnesota Annual (regional) Conference and Red Bird Missionary Conference combined. This snapshot comes from reports from 55 of the 59 U.S. conferences, which followed spring and summer annual conference gatherings. The vast majority disclosed declines between 2010 and 2011 in membership, worship attendance or church-school participation — three commonly used metrics for charting disciple-making. Twenty-eight U.S. conferences reported losses in all three categories. Eighteen noted membership drops of 2 percent or more." In "2011 numbers show U.S. members still sliding, UMNS Report," by Heather Hahn, United Methodist News Service, 2 August 2012.

 

Addendum for Dutch Catholics:   "The Catholic bishops of the nation that pioneered legalized euthanasia for children, prostitution, and 'gay marriage' have come to Rome to tell Pope Francis that he is facing a Church that has 'drastically secularized' and hemorrhaging members. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Willem Jacobus Eijk Cardinal, Archbishop of Utrecht and chairman of the Dutch bishops’ conference, said that the Catholic Church in the Netherlands is facing a near collapse. 'The number of practicing Catholics is diminishing very quickly,' he said. 'In the 1950s 90 percent of Catholics still went to church every Sunday. Now, it’s only five percent.' This mass exodus has hit the bishops hard in their bank accounts. 'The Dutch Church,' the cardinal said, 'does not have a subsidy from the state but depends on voluntary contributions of the faithful. Therefore, we are forced to close many churches.' He quoted figures from the Dutch Office for National Statistics that said in 2010 that just under 16 percent of the population identified themselves as Catholic, adding that this number is expected to drop to about 10 percent by 2020. The same office estimates that Islam will become the second largest religion in the Netherlands by the same year, with only about four or five percent expected to be Protestant Christians." In "Dutch bishops tell Pope the Church is collapsing as they face hundreds of closures," by Hilary White, LifeSiteNews, 5 December 2013.

 

Addendum for a Telecommunications Company:   "Frontier Communications Corp.'s fourth-quarter profit fell 41% as the regional telecommunications company's shrinking customer base and recent debt-extinguishment losses weakened results." In "Frontier Communications Q4 net down 41% as customer base shrinks," by Ben Fox Rubin, Dow Jones Newswires, 22 February 2013.

 

Addendum for an Auto Company:   "Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto blames the state of California for Toyota Motor's decision to relocate its North American headquarters from the city to Plano, Texas. 'The state of California lost Toyota,' Scotto said on 'Power Lunch' Tuesday. He pointed to a number of issues in the Golden State that negatively affect companies' bottom line: tax structure, workers' compensation and liability insurance." In "California drove Toyota out of state: Torrance Mayor," by Jaewon Kang, CNBC, 29 April 2014.

 

Addendum for some News Media:   "Data released Tuesday show CNN shedding 48 percent of total viewers since last November and MSNBC dropping 45 percent. The numbers were even worse in the all important demographic of people aged 25 to 54 as CNN's ratings dropped 59 percent and MSNBC's 52 percent." In "CNN and MSNBC Lose Almost Half Their Viewers in One Year," by Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters, 27 November 2013.   [ 2 ]

 

Addendum for a Retail Business:   "Analysts predict a wider second-quarter loss and the ninth straight sales drop when J.C. Penney reports on Aug. 20, though improvements are projected for the second half of the fiscal year. The quarter was the first entirely under Chief Executive Officer Mike Ullman, who returned in April to undo the failed strategy put in place by former CEO Ron Johnson. Ullman has ramped up discounts and run ads apologizing to the department-store chain's customers, even while he's forced to work with Johnson's store remodels that so far have driven away shoppers and led to almost $1 billion in losses." In "J.C. Penney heads for 9th quarter of plunging sales," by Matt Townsend, Bloomberg News, 23 August 2013.

 

Addendum for the Electric Car Makers:  "GM sold sold 1,023 Volts in February and 603 in January, and fell short of its goal of selling 10,000 Volts last year, the AP reported. 'Even with sales up in February over January, we are still seeking to align our production with demand,' GM spokesman Chris Lee told USA Today." In "GM Suspends Chevy Volt Production After Poor Sales," by Mark Hachman, PCMag, 2 March 2012.    [ 3 ]

 

Addendum of a Gun Manufacturer Walking Away:   "Citing Maryland’s recently enacted firearm laws and the prospect of more restrictions, the U.S. arm of legendary Italian gunmaker Beretta announced Tuesday that it would move its manufacturing operations to Tennessee next year. The move makes Beretta the latest maker of guns or ammunition to move all or part of its operations to another state because of tightened gun control laws." In "Beretta leaves Maryland over gun laws, heads for Tennessee," by David Sherfinski, Washington Times, 22 July 2014.

 

Addendum for a Hospital:   "A local hospital is closing its doors. Wellmont Health System is citing unprecedented changes in health care as the reason for closing Lee Regional Medical Center. Company officials say three reasons led to the decision -- reimbursement cuts associated with the Affordable Care Act, extremely low community use of the hospital and a lack of consistent physician coverage." In "Wellmont closing Lee Regional Medical Center," by Preston Avres, WCYB TV-5, 11 September 2013.

 

Addendum for a Media Conglomerate:  "Late last month, Tribune reported that earnings tumbled in the second quarter of this year as revenue dropped sharply in its TV broadcast division and advertising continued to decline at its newspapers. The company reported net income of $66.3 million in the three months that ended June 30, which represented a 61.2% plunge from $170.8 million in the year-earlier period." In "Tribune newspapers, including L.A. Times, prepare for cost-cutting," by Meg James, Los Angeles Times, 26 September 2013. 

 

Addendum of Walking Away to Relocate:   "In a statement, Nestlé USA’s Chief Technical Officer Martial Genthon said the decision to consolidate production to one location came after exhaustive analysis. 'Unlike other manufacturing facilities we operate in California, the Chatsworth facility presents some challenges to our business needs,' said Genthon. 'While the decision to stop manufacturing Hot Pockets at our California facility is a tough one because it affects 360 of our Nestlé employees, it is the right decision for our business.'Nestlé USA bought the Hot Pockets and Lean Pockets brands in 2002. Local business owners like Lonell, who has owned a small machine shop in Chatsworth since 2011, said she can understand the move given the city and state’s high tax rate." In "Nestlé To Relocate Chatsworth Hot Pockets Facility To Kentucky," CBS Los Angeles, 6 August 2014.

 

Addendum for Arts Organizations:  "It’s no secret that American orchestras are having a tough time. Dwindling audiences, donors running for the hills, and an economy that turns orchestra endowments into pocket change, make for orchestral headaches." In "Saving American Symphony Orchestras in Four Movements," by Ted Gavin, Forbes, 18 January 2012.

 

 Addendum of Walking turned into Running Away:  "Every year, many thousands of Eritreans go to extraordinary lengths to escape their country and start new lives elsewhere. This small nation in the Horn of Africa, with less than 6 million people, is one of the world’s biggest providers of desperate refugees." In "Eritrea: the African North Korea which thousands will risk anything to escape," by David Blair, Telegraph UK, 3 October 2013.    [ 4 ]

 

Addendum of Wealth Walking Away:   "Financial wealth is mobile, and so, ultimately, are people—generating tax competition that largely explains the erosion of these taxes." In "Fiscal Monitor: Taxing Times," International Monetary Fund, October 2013.    [ 5 ]

 

Addendum of a Puerto Ricans Exodus:   "The island's problems have ignited an exodus not seen there since the 1950s, when 500,000 people left for jobs on the mainland. Now Puerto Ricans, who as citizens are free to move and work anywhere in the US without passports or green cards, are again leaving in droves. They are choosing the uncertainty of the job market in Orlando or New York City or Philadelphia over what they view as the certainty that their dreams would be crushed by the island's grinding economic problems. 'We used to move a lot of machinery into Puerto Rico, and executives who worked in the pharmaceutical industry here,' said Neftaly Rodriguez, whose father founded Rosa del Monte. 'Now we are packing people up to go out. Everybody is looking for a better opportunity.' Puerto Rico lost 54,000 residents – 1.5% of its population – between 2010 and 2012 alone. Since recession struck in 2006, the population has shrunk by more than 138,000 to 3.7 million, with the vast majority of the outflow headed to the mainland." In "Puerto Ricans fleeing debt battle," by Michael A. Fletcher, Guardian UK, 3 December 2013.   [ 6 ]

 

Addendum of Taxable Income Leaving:   "...tax increases on the rich under the previous governor failed to raise much money, but did accelerate an exodus of money and talent out of the state. A new Illinois Policy Institute study, based on latest IRS data, finds a record number of people have been fleeing Cook County, home to Chicago. 'The income of the people who left Cook County in 2012 was $2 billion more than the income of the people who moved into Cook County. ... The 2011 and 2012 outmigration will cost the county nearly $30 billion in taxable income over the next decade'." In "Illinois, paced by Chicago, goes from powerhouse to poorhouse," Stephen Moore , OC Register, 13 September 2015.

 

Addendum of Cubans Continuing to Flee Cuba:   "Mr. Heredia is one of about 25,000 Cubans who arrived by land and sea in the United States without travel visas in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, according to government figures. He, like many others, is also an unexpected throwback to a time that experts thought had long passed: the era when Cubans boarded homemade vessels built from old car parts and inner tubes, hoping for calm seas and favorable winds. As the number of Cubans attempting the voyage nearly doubled in the past two years, the number of vessels unfit for the dangerous 90-mile crossing also climbed." In "In Rickety Boats, Cuban Migrants Again Flee to U.S.," by Francis Robles, New York Times, 9 October 2014.

 

Addendum of the French:   "What is certain is the steady rise in the number of emigrants across all sections of society, from young people looking for jobs to entrepreneurs to pensioners. According to a French Foreign Ministry report published at the end of last month, the top five destinations are the UK, Switzerland, the US, Belgium and Germany. The French consulate in London has estimated that up to 400,000 French nationals live in the capital, a number equal to the population of France’s sixth largest city. The Foreign Ministry recorded 1.6 million expats at the end of last year. But that figure only includes people who had registered at French consulates abroad. 'So the real figure is twice as high,' says Hélène Charveriat, the delegate-general of the Union of French Citizens Abroad." In "French say au revoir to France: Over two million French people now live abroad, and most are crossing the channel and heading to London," by Anne Penketh, Independent UK, 10 October 2014.

 

Addendum of a Venezuelan Exodus:   "Tomas Paez, a Central University of Venezuela sociologist publishing a study about the diaspora, said up to 1.6 million people, or about 6 percent of the population, are living abroad. Almost 90 percent of them have left since 1999 and the exodus has been fastest in the last six years, toward the end of the Chavez era and into Maduro's term, he said. As much as 90 percent of emigrants have at least a bachelor's degree, Paez said, and their flight is a brain-drain affecting sectors from the oil industry to hospital care." In "Economic crisis, political strife drive Venezuela brain-drain," by Julia Symmes Cobb and Carlos Garcia Rawlins, Reuters, 15 October 2014.

 

Addendum of a "patriotic" ex-American Company Walking Away  "If Ms. Bresch’s deal isn’t a call to Washington to address what is clearly a growing trend that it has remained nearly silent on, the nation will most likely continue to lose large employers and taxpayers in droves to countries with lower tax rates. Almost 20 large United States companies have announced plans to give up their United States citizenship over the last two years. Just on Monday, the Irish drug maker Shire cleared the way for a merger with AbbVie, the drug maker based in Chicago, and Walgreen is considering an inversion through a deal with Alliance Boots, a European drugstore chain. 'It’s not like I’ve not been vocal and up there talking to anybody who'd listen to me,' Ms. Bresch told me in an interview about the crusade she had been on in Washington for years, talking to lawmakers about overhauling the corporate tax code to make United States companies more competitive. 'But you know what they all say? Yeah, uh huh, O.K. Uh huh.' She added: 'We were one of the last ones in our sector to do this. So it’s not like I was blazing the trail. If you put on your business hat, you can’t maintain competitiveness by staying at a competitive disadvantage. I mean you just can’t. The odds are just not in your favor.' She’s right about her competitors. Teva Pharmaceutical Products, which is based in Israel, and Actavis, which is now based in Ireland after a tax-driven acquisition of Warner Chilcott in 2013, pay much less in taxes." In "Reluctantly, Patriot Flees Homeland for Greener Tax Pastures," by Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times, 15 July 2014.   [ 7 ]

 

Addendum of "unpatriotic" Companies Walking Away:  "President Barack Obama says U.S. corporations that adopt foreign addresses to avoid taxes are unpatriotic. His own administration helped one $20 billion American company do just that. As part of the bailout of the auto industry in 2009, Obama’s Treasury Department authorized spending $1.7 billion of government funds to get a bankrupt Michigan parts-maker back on its feet -- as a British company. While executives continue to run Delphi Automotive Plc from a Detroit suburb, the paper headquarters in England potentially reduces the company’s U.S. tax bill by as much as $110 million a year." In "Obama Aides Let Delphi Use Tax Tactic President Assails," by Zachary R. Mider, Bloomberg, 6 August 2014.    [ 8 ]

 

Addendum of Shedding Residents:   " 'The more violent a place is, the less attractive it is for residents who live there, the more they want to leave,' says John Roman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center. 'The more the people with the means to leave do that, the more the people who are left behind tend to be victims and victimize others.' Large cities with high homicide rates that are also losing ground demographically include St. Louis, Montgomery, and Jackson. (All of which have higher homicide rates than Chicago, by the way). There are a few suffering cities whose populations are growing, such as Memphis and Newark. But by and large, the cities with the highest homicide rates are shedding residents." In "The Little-Studied Link Between 'Murder Capitals' and Population Decline," by Kriston Capps, City Lab, Atlantic, 16 July 2014.     [ 9 ]

 

Addendum of the Empowerment of Walking Away:   "Politicians like to talk about empowering the middle class or other segments of the voting population, but they're typically a little fuzzy on what empowerment really means. That makes sense when you consider that elections are essentially about politicians asking to get power rather than share it. The truth is that we all have more power as consumers, volunteers, supporters and members than we do as voters. That's because the key to empowerment is the ability to walk away." In "The Ability to Walk Away Is Key to Empowerment," by Scott Rasmussen, Creators, 29 September 2014.

 

Addendum of Hotel Cancellations:   "Diners were denied dishes that used only traces of alcohol – such as beer-battered fish, a pudding with 'drunken cherries' and rum ice cream. Drinkers were offered only non-alcoholic beer and elderflower cordial. Forced to improvise, chefs are now trying to source chicken and beef sausages instead of pork varieties for breakfast and have replaced the popular hog roast with rabbit terrine. The £220-a-night hotel is believed to be one of the first in the country to introduce the strict Muslim policy but staff say the changes have caused business to plummet, with many reservations cancelled." In "Welcome to Hotel Sharia: No more bacon or booze as trendy venue bought out by a Muslim multi-millionaire," by Tom Kelly and Emily Kent Smith, Daily Mail UK, 14 November 2014.

 

Addendum of Chinese Students:   "...hundreds of thousands of Chinese families have voted with their tuition dollars to avoid the domestic university system and send their child overseas to study. The flight from Chinese universities has accelerated to the point where nearly one in three international students in the US is now Chinese (a total of 287,000). And education experts back home say the deficiencies of the local university system – from excessive bureaucracy to poor-quality teaching, from corruption to lack of academic freedom – are largely to blame. The difficulty in navigating these choices was highlighted in early September when three of China’s leading universities responded to a call from President Xi Jinping to intensify 'ideological education' in China." In "China’s university system faces criticism for being unfit for a modern economy," by Patti Waldmeir, Financial Times, 7 October 2014.

 

Addendum of a Car Company Going into Exile:   "FIAT, the largest true automotive manufacturer in Italy and an icon of the industry, has for all intents and purposes gone into exile. For tax reasons, FIAT is now based in the Netherlands, and is headquartered in London. The heart of the company is now in Detroit, where Chrysler is traditionally headquartered. The stock is now listed on Wall Street, with a comparatively unimportant secondary listing in Milan. Most of the Fiats made for the European market are produced in the Polish city of Tychy. When FIAT was considering whether to leave Italy, FIAT chef Sergio Marchionne had stipulated that the almost-violent unions would have to agree to reasonable work processes. But through their strikes, Italy’s unions virtually forced FIAT into exile. It is an open secret that Germany and Berlin are currently persona non grata for Italian companies, which are hoping to escape from destructive unions, debilitating bureaucracy, an overburdened legal system, fulminant corruption, and a political system that appears incapable of reform." In "Pitfalls of Monetary Policy," by Roland Tichy, Jewish Voice from Germany, 29 December 2014.   [ 10 ]

 

Another Addendum of a Car Company Moving Away:   "...there need to be bigger changes to the tax system to keep companies from moving." In "Mercedes departure adds to calls to lower New Jersey taxes," by Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press, 7 January 2015.

 

Addendum of Coffee Flowing:   " California’s Farmers (Farmer Brothers coffee company, that is) has announced that it is fleeing our state for a less expensive destination that includes Oklahoma on the short list. Any humor, however, will no doubt be lost on the 350 employees who are about to lose their South Bay jobs paying $40,000 to $80,000. Farmer Brothers, a fixture in California for more than 100 years, is just another of a long list of firms that, fed up with California’s high taxes and anti-business environment, have left for less costly states. Other recent refugees include Chevron, Nestle, Sony, Charles Schwab, Occidental Petroleum, Toyota, Campbell Soup, Nissan and Comcast, all of which have moved all or a significant portion of their work force out of state." In "Farmer Brothers — another company driven out of California by high costs," by Jon Coupal, Daily Bulletin, 17 February 2015.

 

Addendum of People's Capital Walking Away:   "The new Leftist government still aims to hit a surplus target of 1.5pc of its GDP this year, as it seeks to implement a series of revenue raising measures and remain in the monetary union. But since Syriza were elected in late January, tax revenues have collapsed and capital has fled the country's banks. Economists fear continued political uncertainty will see the economy contract this year, making surplus targets a near-impossibility." In "Greece is 'close to the abyss' as black hole in public finances widens," by Mehreen Khan, Telegraph UK, 15 April 2015.

 

Addendum of Russian Capital Walking Away:   "Amid Russia’s economic woes, billions of dollars continue to disappear in offshore havens. The net outflow of capital from Russia reached $32.6 billion during the first quarter of 2015, according to the nation’s Central Bank. The bank is now forecasting that capital flight may reach $131 billion by the end of the year. In reporting first quarter numbers, the Central Bank also upwardly revised the 2014 figure for net capital outflow to $154.1 billion from the previously reported $151.5 billion. That figure marks the highest annual total of capital flight since the Central Bank started tracking the trend back in 1994." In "Russia: Massive Capital Flight Continues," EurasiaNet, 30 April 2015.

 

Addendum of British Physicians Walking Away:   "...Dr Clifford Mann, chairman of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said the flow of British-trained doctors going abroad – as they are unprepared to work under conditions now common in the health service – needed to be stopped because it was wasting hundreds of millions of pounds." In "NHS hospitals pushing young medics to brink of 'burnout' by relying on them to work extra hours," by Charlie Cooper, Independent UK, 20 June 2015.

 

Addendum of High Net-Worth Individuals Walking Away:   "An increasing number of countries are offering opportunities to obtain citizenship or residency in exchange for a substantial financial contribution to the domestic economy. ECPs (also referred to as Citizenship-By-Investment Programs) are particularly attractive to small states, for which inflows can be large enough to have a significant economic and fiscal impact, while an increasing number of advanced economies are also offering Economic Residency Programs. These programs are increasingly being mainstreamed, as high net-worth individuals consider citizenship/residency as a means to improving international mobility, tax planning, and family security while also seeking investment opportunities. Further, a growing number of intermediaries have recognized the business opportunities as more countries launch new programs that cater to such needs." In "Too Much of a Good Thing? Prudent Management of Inflows under Economic Citizenship Programs," by Xin Xu, Ahmed El-Ashram and Judith Gold, International Monetary Fund, WP/15/93, May 2015.   [ 11 ]

 

Addendum of German Catholics Walking Away:   "Germans who are officially enrolled in congregation are subject to a “church tax,” and so disaffected Catholics have an incentive to drop their registration, rather than simply stop attending Mass. The number of Catholics taking that step has increased sharply in recent years. In 2013, 178,805 Catholics formally dropped off the parish rolls in Germany. In 2014 that figure jumped by 22%, to 217,716, according to official statistic released by the German bishops’ conference." In "Mass exodus continues from German Catholic Church," Catholic World News, 17 July 2015.

 

Addendum of Mom and Pop Investors Running Away:   "Mom and pop are running for the hills. Since July, American households -- which account for almost all mutual fund investors -- have pulled money both from mutual funds that invest in stocks and those that invest in bonds. It’s the first time since 2008 that both asset classes have recorded back-to-back monthly withdrawals, according to a report by Credit Suisse." In "Fed Up Investors Yank Cash From Almost Everything Just Like 2008," by Oliver Renick, Bloomberg, 28 August 2015.

 

Addendum of Smokers Walking Away:   "...smokers are buying cigarettes in ways that avoid New York's $4.35 per pack tax, the highest in the nation. They cross state lines, shop from black market vendors and travel to Native American outlets to save $6 per pack or more, experts say. New York is losing big. In the past five years, the state's cigarette tax collections have dropped by about $400 million, according to data and estimates from the office of state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli." In "Millions up in smoke: NY has nation's highest cigarette tax; why do so few pay it?" by Teri Weaver, Syracuse Media, 13 December 2015.

 

Addendum of Greek Business Emigrating:   "According to the president of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE), some 6,000 Greek enterprises have emigrated to Bulgaria in the last couple of years alone. At the same time, the GSEVEE chief says, Greeks are behind about 60,000 new tax registrations and bank accounts in the neighboring country." In "Thousands of firms flee to Bulgaria," Ekathinmerini, 2 February 2016.

 

 Addendum of Decamping:  "Tepper registered to vote in Florida last October, listing his residence as a Miami Beach condominium, and followed up in December by filing a court document declaring that he is now a resident of the state. He also carried out a business reorganization on Jan. 1 that relocated his Appaloosa Management from New Jersey to Florida, which is free of personal income and estate taxes. The move could save Tepper hundreds of millions of dollars in state taxes several years from now." In "N.J.'s wealthiest resident decamps to tax-friendly Florida," by Bloomberg Wire Service, 17 March 2016.

 

 Addendum of Californians Walking Away:   "During the 12 months ending June 30, the number of people leaving California for another state exceeded by 61,100 the number who moved here from elsewhere in the U.S., according to state Finance Department statistics. The so-called 'net outward migration' was the largest since 2011, when 63,300 more people fled California than entered."  In "California's skyrocketing housing costs, taxes prompt exodus of residents," by George Avalos, Mercury News, 23 June 2016.

 

 Addendum of the Wealthiest of the French Walking Away:   "The wealthiest of the French are leaving the country in their thousands, according to a new report. From 2013 to 2014, there was a 10 percent increase in the number of departures from France for those earning over €100,000 a year. In fact, a full 4,109 households up and left France in 2014 (the most recent year with available statistics), according to a report submitted to the French Parliament's Finance Commission that was seen by Les Echos newspaper." In "More of France's top earners leaving the country," TheLocal.fr., 24 November 2016.

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]   Source: Wikipedia. The list of boycotts for various reasons is long: "...the practice dates back to at least 1830, when the National Negro Convention encouraged a boycott of slave-produced goods. Other instances of boycotts are their use by African Americans during the US civil rights movement (notably the Montgomery Bus Boycott); the United Farm Workers union grape and lettuce boycotts; the American boycott of British goods at the time of the American Revolution; the Indian boycott of British goods organized by Mohandas Gandhi; the successful Jewish boycott organised against Henry Ford in the USA, in the 1920s; the boycott of Japanese products in China after the May Fourth Movement; the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott of German goods in Lithuania, the USA, Britain and Poland during 1933; the antisemitic boycott of Jewish-owned businesses in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and the Arab League boycott of Israel and companies trading with Israel. In 1973, the Arab countries enacted a crude oil embargo against the West, see 1973 oil crisis. Other examples include the US-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, the Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles...."

        A distinction should be made between unorganized actions as a social phenomenon by a segment of a populace -- such as migration from church denomination to church denomination, and demographic trends in housing and employment choices, as seen in these last decades --  and organized actions, in which a political aim is defined and targeted for a specific goal. While the later seem to be more prevalent, it is the former and amorphous behavior of whole market places which more clearly proves that "people walk away."

 

[ 2 ]    "In news consumption surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, the share of Americans who regularly watch a nightly network news program – ABC, CBS, and NBC – has declined from 60 percent in 1993 (the earliest available measure) to just 27 percent in 2012." In "Study: Network News Viewers at All-Time Low; Half under Age 30 Never Watch News," by Barbara Boland, Cybercast News, 10 January 2014.

 

 Shutdowns and Sharp Declines

 

        As to CNN, recent statistics prove "people walk away."  One reads:   "CNN‘s Anderson Cooper dropped 47% February to February in overall audience to average 421,000 viewers, and 46% in the news demo to 127,000 viewers for the month, according to Nielsen. In his defense, Cooper’s lead-in, Erin Burnett Outfront, dropped 39% to post an average of 293,000 viewers in February – CNN’s smallest monthly haul in the timeslot in more than two decades — and slipped 32% in the news demo to 100,000 viewers. Morgan’s getting scrubbed from 9 PM at CNN because, for instance, he logged 347,000 viewers for the month — down 46% – and 100,000 demo viewers — down 38%." In "February Cable News Numbers: CNN Tumbles As Fox News Channel Logs 146th Consecutive Win; MSNBC Hangs On," by Lisa de Moraes, Deadline Hollywood, 26 February 2014.

        A few years later, one reads:  "The latest statistics come against a backdrop of a troubled print media industry marked by shutdowns of newspapers and sharp declines in circulation and advertising revenue." In "US newspaper industry hollowed out by job losses," Agence France Presse, 6 June 2016.

 

[ 3 ]      :...Obama reiterated his commitment to green technologies by vowing to flood America's highways with plug-in cars and will ask Congress for new programs to support sales and development of electric vehicles. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015, Obama said on Tuesday." In "Obama promises to have 1 mln electric vehicles by 2015," International Business Times, 27 January 2011.  Per the year 2013, it seems this "commitment" was obviously non-committal. But then again, as to the pretense of commitment, see:  Leadership Failure - spoke a failed leader and the well-sourced Bankrupt green  .

 

 Spend a Lot for a Little

 

        The question then is:  "So what is the American taxpayer getting for their money? There are about 250 million vehicles on US roads which account for less than 50% of America's oil consumption. Replacing 3,351 gas-powered vehicles with Volts will roughly decrease America's oil consumption by .0007%. At the pace of 10,000 electric cars sold per month attained in August, we can theoretically reduce oil consumption by a full 1% in a bit over 40 years at the cost of over $36 billion in federal subsidies. Only American politicians and green extremists could possibly think that this is money efficiently spent." In "Volt Sales in August Cost Taxpayers Over $25 Million," submitted by Mark Modica, NLPC, 9 September 2013.

  

[ 4 ]    People walk away and some people must flee. This is a truth from throughout history.

 

 Citizens as Captives

 

        "However, compounding that – in fact, in large part to prevent an influx out of the country – no ordinary Eritrean has the freedom to leave Eritrea, and anyone caught attempting to escape faces indefinite incarceration in secret prisons, forced labour, and the jailing of close relatives. Largely unknown to the outside world, this is a state where every citizen is a captive. How many Eritreans would leave if they had the option? According to one Eritrean student, it would “empty overnight”. But dramatic predictions aside, it is true that many Eritreans have little incentive to stay. Compulsory conscription which can last as long as fifteen years, limited political rights, and the pull of the diaspora are all factors that might trigger an exodus. Aware of this, the government persists in trying to confine the entire population." In "How Long Can Eritrea Remain A Closed State?" by Andy Ryan, Think Africa Press, 22 January 2013.

        The supposed "constitutional democracy" in Eritrea is in fact a one-party state. One learns:  "The People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) is the current ruling political movement in Eritrea. Successor to the formerly Marxist-Leninist and African socialist Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), the PFDJ holds itself open to nationalists of any political affiliation." Wikipedia article on the People's Front for Democracy and Justice. Open to nationalists "of any political affiliation" is an odd statement. "Open" as long as they belong to the one party and as to critics of the one-party system....

        "...in September 2001 the government closed down all of the nation's privately owned print media, and outspoken critics of the government have been arrested and held without trial, according to various international observers, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. In 2004 the U.S. State Department declared Eritrea a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its record of religious persecution." Wikipedia article on Eritrea.

 

[ 5 ]     Other human assets are also extremely fungible: talent, perseverance and doggedness, loyalty and trust, allegiance and more. Many qualities more than merely man's monetary assets can simply "walk away." Or they can be driven away, which is often rather the same thing, is it not?

 

 Wealth Fleeing

 

        One sees people and their assets "walking away" in the following:  "Over the entire period New York lost a net of almost $80 billion of adjusted gross income. The states are in a race for capital and businesses and jobs, and New York is the big loser — year after year after year. New York politicians have long pretended that state taxes don't really influence decisions about where people locate their families and their businesses. But now even the economic development experts in Albany really believe that. The Empire State is engaged in a $140 million dollar advertising campaign — 'New York Open for Business' — which tries to entice startup companies to locate inside the state's borders with sales and property tax breaks. But if tax breaks offer companies an incentive to enter a state, it should be self-evident that having one of the highest business tax burdens in the nation is an invitation to leave." In "New York Finds High Taxes Send State's Wealthy Fleeing," by Stephen Moore, Investors Business Daily, 23 January 2014.

        One also reads a parallel tale:  "Nearly 88,000 people took $5.5 billion with them when they left New Jersey in 2010 in search of states with lower taxes, according to a report by RegentAtlantic Capital, a Morristown-based investment adviser. The data was drawn people who filed 2009 federal tax returns in New Jersey, and then filed in another state the next year. According to the report, about 41 percent of the money went to Florida and 20 percent to Pennsylvania. In the case of both states, more money emigrated to them than immigrated to New Jersey. The Garden State saw $825.8 million head west across the Delaware River, and $569.6 million came with folks moving to New Jersey. About $778.6 million moved to Florida, while $264 million moved north to New Jersey from the Sunshine State." In "About $5.5 billion left NJ in 'tax migration,' study finds," by Tom De Poto, Star-Ledger, 6 March 2014.

        In the same vein one reads a general summary:  "...capital flows to where it is best treated. Travis Brown, author of the new book How Money Walks, reports that the nine states without a personal income tax gained $146 billion in new wealth while the nine states with the highest income tax rates lost $107 billion. States are now competing for wealth transfers like never before." In "The New War Between the States," by John Fund, National review, 30 May 2014.

 

[ 6 ]    "Puerto Rico’s drop in population has far outpaced that of American states. In 2011 and 2012, the population fell by nearly 1 percent, according to census figures. From July 2012 to July 2013, it declined again by 1 percent, or about 36,000 people. That is more than seven times the drop in West Virginia, the state with the steepest population losses." In "Economy and Crime Spur New Puerto Rican Exodus," by Lizette Alvarez, New York Times, 8 February 2014.

 

 A Modern Exodus

 

        " 'We are seeing the biggest outmigration from Puerto Rico to the US that we've seen since at least the 1950s,' during the US economic boom, said study author Mark Hugo Lopez. 'It looks like the island is on a long run cycle of population decline'. ...As a result, the island's population is aging, decreasing the productive population and forcing an ever smaller number of working people to fund the tax and retirement system." In "Puerto Ricans flock to US mainland as island crisis worsens," by Diego Urdaneta, Agence France Presse, 22 August 2014.

        One report identifies a root cause:  " 'The population is down by 1 million people,' he said. 'All the talent left the island because of really bad government policy.' The exodus started back in 2006, when a tax break for manufacturers who set up shop on the island was allowed to expire. Employment fell around 10 percentage points between 2006 and 2010, according to a report by the New York Federal Reserve." In "Puerto Rico's 'death spiral' can be traced back to one mistake," by Linette Lopez, Business Insider, 7 August 2015.

        The demographics is being noticed:  "Alameda, one of Puerto Rico's most respected economists, made his remarks after on Tuesday the Puerto Rican Statistics Institute published recent U.S. census figures showing that between July 2004 and July 2015 the island lost 9.2 percent of its population, which currently stands at 3.4 million. 'The worst thing of all is that people of ... working age are going,' he said, adding that 28 to 32-year-olds are the group that has been most affected by emigration to the United States." In "Puerto Rico's population fell 9 percent since 2004 because of economic crisis," EFE, 24 December 2015.

        Those who argue in slogans such as People before profits reject a salient fact. Without profits, no company is motivated to invest and strive to accomplish. The ever-present argument is heard to Raise those taxes! .  Yet when taxation is so high as to suppress profit making, profit making withers, and with it private employment in profitable, private entities also withers. And then the entities walk away, along with "all the talent."

        The story of a government like Puerto Rico has experienced and "really bad government policy" such a government has enacted, as phrased by the article above, becomes simply a tale of the usual pretense of government. It is "The Story of Innocent Bloat ."

        Perhaps as a footnote to the massive debt and complaint about no new revenue from Puerto Ricans, one learns there is yet money enough in Puerto Rico for politicians. One reads:  "Clinton attended a private fundraiser at The Condado Plaza Hilton here for about 90 minutes, where about 200 people turned out, contributing between $1,000 to $2,700. After the event, Clinton boarded a private jet to return to the U.S. mainland." In "Clinton raised up to $500,000 during Puerto Rico trip," by Jeff Zeleny, Tom LoBianco and Dan Merica, CNN, 4 September 2015.

        Of course such monies will not be used to pay down the territory's debt because -- well -- ..... Politics .

 

[ 7 ]   Amusingly, the New York Times article chooses the word, "patriot," to describe a company walking away from the United States. The reason is found in the article:  "Heather Bresch grew up around politics. Her father is Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia and a former governor."  The editorial stance of media in the United States seems an apologia for one party against another, whereas Noam Chomsky noted recently,  "Nobody should have any illusions. The United States has essentially a one-party system and the ruling party is the business party." And slowly the "business parties' true constituency is fleeing the world's highest corporate tax rate. Republican? Democrat? The names become ever more meaningless, when a bottom line for a profitable business is -- and must be -- considered.

 

 Just Cast Your Vote and Pay the Bills

 

        What then explains the word "patriot" as employed by a New York Times writer? It is a political apologia, which is reserved for one side of the "business party," while seldom used as apologia for the other.  The explanation has had holes shot through it, as a senator becomes silent:  "Too bad Manchin isn't in a postion to feel the need and find a way to keep Mylan paying taxes to the United States, the country that presumably will continue to enrich her firm via Medicare and Medicaid. Would he try to cut federal drug payments to Mylan by roughly the amount of taxes his daughter is taking to the Netherlands? I don't know, because my call to the senator's office was not returned. As for Americans less privileged and powerful than these two characters, your role is clear: Just cast your votes and pay the bills." In "How to Renounce America and Still Be Called a Patriot," by Ron Fournier, National Journal, 16 July 2014.

        "Privileged and powerful?" One notes that some high-ranking academics fell on their swords for this family. One learns:  "...Heather Bresch E.M.B.A. controversy refers to a controversy regarding the granting of an Executive MBA by West Virginia University to Mylan Chief operating officer Heather Bresch. An independent panel concluded that Bresch did not complete the graduation requirements. West Virginia University's president, provost and business school dean resigned as a result of the investigation, and the university's general counsel and the president's communications officer relinquished those roles." In "Heather Bresch M.B.A. controversy," Wikipedia, n. d.

        While the New York Times paints a company leaving the United States as "patriotic," one reads an opposite view of such companies:  "Big time companies are moving their 'headquarters' overseas to dodge billions in taxes... That means the rest of us pay their share."  In " Positively Un-American," by Allan Sloan, Fortune Magazine, 21 July 2014. Daughter of a sitting American senator -- patriotic or positively un-American? One suppose the words shift based on solely political allegiance.

 

 Scam

 

        But cracks in the facade of political unity appear:  "AbbVie shareholders will continue to control 75 percent of the company, which will still be managed by executives outside Chicago. But the merged company will now file its tax returns on the island of Jersey – a speck of land in the English Channel, where Shire is incorporated. AbbVie, which racked up more than $10 billion in Humira sales last year, will slash its effective corporate tax rate from 22 percent to 13. The cost to the U.S. Treasury? Possibly as much as $1.3 billion by the year 2020." In "The Biggest Tax Scam Ever," by Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone, 27 August 2014.

        Rolling Stone's writer bemoans that "the biggest tax scam" is in fact legal, and supported by donations to political parties. Deliciously, while assailing the Bush administration, Rolling Stone also notes:  "The stupid Clinton Treasury," McIntyre says bitterly. "They were warned about this before they put out the regulations. Then they discovered that all the people who were telling them they were idiots were right."

        As to rising medical costs in the United States, one learns yet more of Manchin's daughter as CEO.  "As a pharmaceutical company run by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s daughter faces scrutiny for hiking prices on life-saving allergy injection pens, Manchin is remaining mum. The Democratic West Virginia senator’s daughter, Heather Bresch, is CEO of Mylan, which manufactures EpiPens. A two-dose package cost around $94 nine years ago. The cost averaged more than six times that in May." In "CEO who gouged price of EpiPen is daughter of Democrat senator," by Associated Press, 24 August 2016.

 

 Riches for the Few, Price Hikes for the Many

 

        More:  " 'EpiPen prices aren't the only thing to jump at Mylan,' NBC News reported. According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Bresch's total compensation went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068 from 2007 to 2015. That's a striking 671 percent increase. That period coincides with the time when Mylan acquired the rights to EpiPens and steadily hiked the average wholesale price from about $55 to $320. A standard 2-pack now costs between $600 to $700. The price has prompted outrage among many consumers who have taken to social media to complain that they can no longer afford the potentially lifesaving medicine." In "Senator's daughter who raised price of EpiPen got $19 million salary, perks in 2015," by Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post, 24 August 2016.

        See Bring presents to the party  .  One might ask the Democrat Senator from West Virginia about how Income Inequality is fueled, and how it is so easily ignored.

 

[ 8 ]   In addition to the oddity of an administration terming some companies walking away as "unpatriotic" while others might be termed "patriotic" in the media depending on participants and political affiliation, the other oddity is that walking away is currently legal. One reads of political speech:  "President Barack Obama has denounced so-called tax inversions as unpatriotic and has urged Congress to stop them, in an election-year push that Democrats hope will appeal to middle-class voters who feel corporate America isn't paying its fair share. But Republicans and Democrats disagree about the best solution, rendering congressional action this year unlikely." In "Facing logjam in Congress, Obama seeks steps to curb tax breaks for firms moving overseas," by Josh Lederman, Associated Press, 5 August 2014.

 

 Obama Awards

 

        But aside from the "election-year" rhetoric, one sees behind the scenes as the Bloomberg article above adds:  "Only this year did Obama include a measure in his annual budget proposal to prevent some tax-driven address changes, which are known as 'inversions.' Thanks to gaps in a Congressional ban on contracts with inverted companies, his administration continues to award more than $1 billion annually in government business to more than a dozen corporate expats."  

        The logical connection then is to ask if the Obama administration in making such awards is itself acting against its own political speech. The answer from the facts alone is a clear-cut yes. Pay a politician or political party enough, and one is allowed to walk away, rather in the manner of a protection racket. Rhetoric is employed then to obscure this plain political truth.

        But the plain truth of taxation reality is not obscured. One reads that the exodus from high-tax America continues:  "...simply shaming companies that reduce their tax bill through these inversion maneuvers isn’t a solution. And pushing for laws to bar companies from these deals seems increasingly quixotic. Every time a new tax law is enacted, the lawyers and accountants find a way around it. Ultimately, the only way inversions will stop is when the corporate tax code changes so it becomes more attractive for American companies to be American companies." In "A Tidal Wave of Corporate Migrants Seeking (Tax) Shelter," by Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times, 25 January 2016.

        As working capital that a business might use for investment and growth is siphoned away by taxation, businesses move to counter those effects. For this, as one example, one sees now shrinking Chicago losing population as well as jobs and businesses as all move outside the highest taxation jurisdictions. Now it becomes a national phenomenon, and the effects will be ever more serious until the federal government acts in a rational manner. This is not expected, for Fat, fat government is not interested on being on a diet.

        The New York Times article notes in simple prose:  "Until Washington lawmakers reform the tax code, we will continue to see an exodus of American companies from our shores in search of a lower tax rate."

 

[ 9 ]  The article makes a generalization, but one may make the assertion personal and specific, by asking one's self, "Do I want to live near to incidents of violence and other crime? Worldwide one reads of migration by reason of escaping violence, such as in war zones. People only walk away, carrying off what they can. In Illinois, moving vans carry off families and their belongings.

 

 An Illinois Exodus

 

        "Illinois logged a record exodus in 2014, sustaining a net loss of 95,000 people to other states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And two of North America’s largest moving companies revealed data showing that Illinois’ rate of outbound traffic spiked in 2014, confirming the Census Bureau’s numbers. As a result of massive out-migration, Illinois’ population shrank by 10,000 people from July 2013-July 2014. This means that more people fled Illinois than were born in Illinois in 2014. The state’s population had not decreased since 1988." In "Illinois had record mass exodus in 2014," by Michael Lucci, Illinois Policy Institute, 7 January 2015.

 

[ 10 ] And so the themes come together as if the gathering coda before a grand finale.  "...destructive unions, debilitating bureaucracy, an overburdened legal system, fulminant corruption, and a political system that appears incapable of reform."

        Incapable of reform? The reform is occurring, but not on the side of government and its bureaucracy, or on the side of legal systems and unions incapable of foreseeing their ultimate loss, because people and car companies and customers and even wealth flees. The flight from burdens and rush to greater freedom from them is the reform.

        This behavior -- that people walk away -- is rational when one considers the hunger for capital of Fat, fat government .

 

[ 11 ]  This working paper surveys "high net-worth individuals" seeking shelter for their wealth, with the perspective that this development between free individuals and free nations may also be seen as tax avoidance in some other national jurisdiction. This is an important distinction, because it leans in the direction of national capital controls, if not outright capital and asset confiscation by those nations which wish to circumvent "high net-worth individuals" from walking away.

 

 An Oxymoron: Communist Capital Flight

 

        This is particularly interesting given "high net-worth individuals" in such countries as officially Communist China who are "walking away." See:  We ran out

        The concern as shown in the IMF Working Paper is interesting, given that the head of the IMF is exempt from taxation for the logic that an IMF chief should be regarded as both a CEO and diplomat.  For some additional information on this non-taxable position by a bureaucrat for those little people who are obligated to pay taxes, see:  Hippogrizzly -  a zoological fantasy.

 


 

Oh, fence! - in its present tense

 

"...to inflect (a verb) systematically; state or set out the conjugation of (a verb)."

I'm offended by you;
You're offended by him.
He's offended by her,
She offends for a whim.

 
You're offended, we learn;
Yet they offend me.
Offence is given, taken,
With such passion, such glee.

 

What a folly jolly game!
What a noisy fuss!
Offence is given, taken!
Ah was it ever thus.

 

I'm offended by you;
So circles this rhyme.
Begin at its beginning,
And push the paradigm....

 

Envoi:  "People with good sense are slow to anger, and it is their glory to overlook an offense." Proverbs 19:11.

 

Addendum of the Un-Offended:  "If I had a large amount of money I should found a hospital for those whose grip upon the world is so tenuous that they can be severely offended by words and phrases yet remain all unoffended by the injustice, violence and oppression that howls daily." Stephen Fry (b. 1957)

 

Addendum Defense as Offense:   "Mao Zedong opined that 'the only real defense is active defense', meaning defense for the purpose of counter-attacking and taking the offensive. Often success rests on destroying the enemy's ability to attack. This principle is paralleled in the writings of Machiavelli and Sun Tzu." In Wiki article, "The best defense is a good offense," accessed July 2013.

 

Addendum of Reflection:  "When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger." Epictetus (AD 55-c.135)

 

Addendum of Ease:  "It is very, very easy not to be offended by a book. You just have to shut it.” Salman Rushdie (Indian born British Writer, b.1947)

 

Addendum of Being Unreachable:  "Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it” Rene Descartes (1596-1650)

 

Addendum of the Offence of Banning Offence: " 'The decision was taken by transgender individuals who were uncomfortable with having drag performances at the event. It was felt that it would make some of those who were transgender or questioning their gender uncomfortable.' The organisers of the main Pride Glasgow event said they understood the rationale behind the decision, but the banning of drag acts was 'against what an inclusive event should be about'." In "Drag queens banned from Pride event 'because they may offend transgender people'," by Hannah Al-Othman, Evening Standard (UK), 20 July 2015.

 

Addendum of the Offended as the Real Offenders:   "No legislation, no invention of new crimes and punishments, can possibly introduce irony, forgiveness and good will into minds schooled in the art of being offended. This is as true of radical feminists as of sectarians and radical Islamists. While we have a moral duty to laugh at them, they have also made it dangerous to do so. But we should never lose sight of the fact that it is they, not we, who are the transgressors. Those who suspect mockery at every turn, and who react with implacable anger when they think they have discovered it, are the real offenders." In "A Point of View: Why people shouldn't feel the need to censor themselves," by Roger Scruton, "A Point of View," BBC, 8 November 2015.

 

Addendum of Whining for Mommy:   "The economist Steven Horwitz maintains Americans are increasingly expecting adult supervision. The idea of microaggression encourages people to see themselves as victims and to find an external “adult” to resolve any and every slight. That “adult” is most often associated with an increasingly powerful central government that issues ever more complex and intrusive rules and demands for proper behavior and thought. In many ways, the hypersentivity found at many universities is not a pathway to a more moral culture, but a road into a regressive, illiberal world where the powerful tell us how, what and when to think." In "Victimhood permeating our culture," by Dennis Clayson, Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, 8 November 2015.

 

Addendum of the Offendedness Sweepstakes:   "... it is generally considered unacceptable to question the reasonableness (let alone the sincerity) of someone’s emotional state, particularly if those emotions are linked to one’s group identity. The thin argument 'I’m offended' becomes an unbeatable trump card. This leads to what Jonathan Rauch, a contributing editor at this magazine, calls the 'offendedness sweepstakes,' in which opposing parties use claims of offense as cudgels. In the process, the bar for what we consider unacceptable speech is lowered further and further." In "The Coddling of the American Mind," by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic, September 2015.   [ 1 ]

 

Addendum of Offendedness and the Liberal Professor:   "Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones. Not, like, in a person-by-person sense, but students in general. The student-teacher dynamic has been reenvisioned along a line that's simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher's formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best." In "I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me," by Edward Schlosser, Vox, 3 June 2015.   [ 2 ]

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]    An "offendedness sweepstakes" has been underway, in plain numbers. One reads:  "Businesses started caring a lot more about diversity after a series of high-profile lawsuits rocked the financial industry. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Morgan Stanley shelled out $54 million—and Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch more than $100 million each—to settle sex discrimination claims. In 2007, Morgan was back at the table, facing a new class action, which cost the company $46 million. In 2013, Bank of America Merrill Lynch settled a race discrimination suit for $160 million. Cases like these brought Merrill’s total 15-year payout to nearly half a billion dollars. It’s no wonder that Wall Street firms now require new hires to sign arbitration contracts agreeing not to join class actions." In "Why Diversity Programs Fail," by Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev, Harvard Business Review, July–August 2016.

          These sizeable settlements and a host of judgments and penalties assigned over decades suggests a grievance industry, a phrase which has come into media reporting. 

 

 Controlling Strategies Fail

 

          The Harvard Business Review notes, "Strategies for controlling bias—which drive most diversity efforts—have failed spectacularly since they were introduced to promote equal opportunity. Black men have barely gained ground in corporate management since 1985. White women haven’t progressed since 2000. It isn’t that there aren’t enough educated women and minorities out there—both groups have made huge educational gains over the past two generations. The problem is that we can’t motivate people by forcing them to get with the program and punishing them if they don’t. The numbers sum it up. Your organization will become less diverse, not more, if you require managers to go to diversity training, try to regulate their hiring and promotion decisions, and put in a legalistic grievance system."

          While the politics of this is in flux, the reported numbers are not. In workplace environments, when employees and management stand ready to litigate grievances -- offences, as perceived by a variety of changing scenarios -- cooperation as a hallmark of working together erodes. The workplace becomes quickly a battlefield for winning arguments about who offends whom, and this social game outweighs notions of working together.

 

[ 2 ]     The article for Vox is written under a pseudonym. It notes:  "I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to 'offensive' texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students' ire and sealed his fate."

 

 The Understandable and Lawful Slipping Away

 

          It becomes instructive then to recall the prescient imagery written by William Golding. "The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away. Once there was this and that; and now-- and the ship had gone." William Golding, Lord of the Flies, 1954, in Ch. 5, "Beast from Water."

          When texts by Edward Said and Mark Twain embody texts which seemingly offend students, one notes that Golding's was also targeted by those who took offence. One reads of "The Lord of the Flies":   "Its stances on the already controversial subjects of human nature and individual welfare versus the common good earned it position 68 on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books of 1900–1999." In "Lord of the Flies," Wikipedia article, n. d.

          A parallel article from Vox tells the same story:  "Kipnis described this experience as Kafkaesque. She wrote in a second essay that she wasn't allowed to know the charges against her before she met with investigators, and she wasn't allowed to record the proceedings. Prominent commentators, including Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine and Josh Marshall at TPM, cited her case as proof that colleges are going overboard and restricting students' and professors' freedom of speech. The investigation was ultimately resolved Friday in Kipnis's favor, finding no violations." In "Why Northwestern investigated a professor for writing an essay about 'sexual panic'," by Libby Nelson, Vox, 2 June 2015.

          What then may be concluded about the "legalistic grievance system," in the parlance of the Harvard Business Review? It has become a sort of cultural madness fueled by individual fascist tendencies and funded by the lure of monetary settlements and judgments.

          After all, Mark Twain, Edward Said, William Golding, liberal professors and so many more are all "offensive" to someone somewhere somehow sometime. In trying to remedy this, "the numbers sum it up." Society becomes Balkanized, less diverse in its rancorous separation and new segregation on "a road into a regressive, illiberal world where the powerful tell us how, what and when to think."

 


 

Sam? - the Debtor Man

“Don’t let your mouth write no check that your tail can’t cash.” Bo Diddley (1928-2008)

 

Sam? That's Sam the Debtor Man;
            He says you owe, poor Everyman.
            The bills are his, but the debt is yours.
            His halls of power are corridors
            Which pass the buck and pass again
            For all Sam's men have such a yen
            To upper crust themselves on high
And pile their debts on the little guy.

Sam? Yes, Sam's the Debtor Man;
            He's got no sense and got no plan
            Except to bumble, rant and rave,
            And never, never, ever save.
            Pile up debt as if commonweal?
            He palms the ace in his debtor deal.
            Sam's little club is rich and proud,
Its few held high above the crowd.

Sam? Whoa! Sam's the Debtor Man;
            He schemes and dreams that someone can
            Repair the mess that's built on greed
            By calling it the common need.
            Someday, somehow, and sometime sure
            Someone somewhere'll find the cure.
            The cure's been known but well ignored,
For commonsense Sam has abhorred.

Sam? Damn! Sam's the Debtor Man
            And flush with ego, quite more than
            Makes much sense to the working folk
            Who labor under his indebted yoke.
            Sam wasn't always so corrupt;
            But something's happened, quite abrupt,
            To tell, in numbers, storied tales
That litter time with the details.

Sam? Poor Sam's a Debtor Man;
            To pay his debts he's got no plan.
            Kick the can and kick again,
            And kick the debt to other men.
            Such a leader? Such a loss.
            Such a mess? Or double-cross?
            For the people, it was said,
But massive debt kills all things dead.

 

Envoi:   “Debt, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave driver.” Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913)

 

Addendum:   “Debts and lies are generally mixed together.” Francois Rabelais (1494-1553)

 

Addendum:   “Home life ceases to be free and beautiful as soon as it is founded on borrowing and debt.” Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

 

Addendum in a 2009 Quote:   "I found this national debt, doubled, wrapped in a big bow waiting for me as I stepped into the Oval Office." Obama quote in "Obama Gets Partisan," by Jonathan Stein. Mother Jones, 6 February 2009. Wikipedia:  Debt - 2009 - $10,413 trillion (estimated)

 

 Addendum of a 2015 Downgrade Six Years after Obama's 2009 Quote:   "Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's on Friday downgraded the credit rating of the United States, stripping the world's largest economy of its prized AAA status. In July, S&P placed the United States' rating on "CreditWatch with negative implications" as the debt ceiling debate devolved into partisan bickering. To avoid a downgrade, S&P said the United States needed to not only raise the debt ceiling, but also develop a 'credible"' plan to tackle the nation's long-term debt." In "S&P downgrades U.S. credit rating," by Charles Riley, CNN, 6 August 2015.

 

Addendum of the Obama Debt circa 2016:   " 'With the deficit we inherited, the cost of the crisis we face, and the long-term challenges we must meet, it has never been more important to ensure that as our economy recovers, we do what it takes to bring this deficit down. That is critical.' On the day Obama delivered this speech, according to the U.S. Treasury, the federal debt stood at $10,843,355,058,860.91. As of the close of business on Jan. 7, 2016, the federal debt stood at $18,887,876,761,105.13. That means the debt has increased by $8,044,521,702,244.22 since Obama gave his speech to the joint session of Congress declaring that he and members of Congress have a responsibility not to pass on to children 'a debt they cannot pay'." In "FLASHBACK—Obama’s First Speech to Congress: We Can’t Pass on to Our Children a Debt They Can’t Pay," by Terence P. Jeffrey, Cybercast News, 11 January 2016.

 

Addendum of Watching the Debt, Wrapped Up in a Big Obama Bow:   " 'In addition,' said CRS {Congressional Research Service] , 'this gives Treasury the authority to prematurely redeem securities held by the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Trust Fund and Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund.' 'The total federal debt consists of debt held by the public and intragovernmental debt,' the CRS said in another report published in 2011. 'Debt owed to the public represents borrowing from entities other than the federal government, and includes borrowing from state and local governments, the Federal Reserve System, and foreign central banks, as well as private investors in the United States.' 'Intragovernmental debt,' said CRS, 'consists in debt owed by one part of the federal government to another, which are mostly held in trust funds'." In "150 Days: Treasury Says Debt Has Been Frozen at $18,112,975,000,000," by Terence P. Jeffrey, Cybercast News, 12 August 2015.

 

Addendum of the November 2015 Unfreezing the Debt:   "The national debt has surged more than half a trillion dollars in the last three weeks, as the suspension of the debt ceiling in late October has allowed the government to borrow as much as it wants. Before the debt ceiling was suspended, the national debt stood at $18.15 trillion. But over the last 22 days, it soared $578 billion. As of Friday, total national debt stood at $18.72 trillion." In "National debt spikes $578 billion in three weeks," by Pete Kasperowicz, Washington Examiner, 24 November 2015.

 

Addendum of Obama-Debt in December 2015:   "...in the remaining 4 weeks of November, the US managed to add another $335 billion in total debt, bringing the total increase for the month of November to a whopping $674 billion, and total US debt to a record $18.827 trillion." In "U.S. Total Debt Soars By $674 Billion In November," by Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 1 December 2015.

 

Addendum of a Rapid Increase:   "The national debt hit $19 trillion for the first time ever on Friday, and came in at $19.012 trillion. It took a little more than 13 months for the debt to climb by $1 trillion." In "National debt hits $19 trillion," by Pete Kasperowicz, Washington Examiner, 1 February 2016.

 

Addendum of Obama-Debt Up 122% in August 2016:   " The federal government’s 'debt held by the public'—as opposed to its 'intragovernmental debt'—has topped $14,000,000,000,000 for the first time in history, according to the latest numbers released by the U.S. Treasury." In "U.S. ‘Debt Held by Public’ Tops $14,000,000,000,000; Up 122% Under Obama," by Terence P. Jeffrey, Cybercast News, 16 August 2016.

 

Debt Growth Placed in a Recent Historical Perspective:

 

 

Addendum Spoken by a US Senator in 2014:  "Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill railed against the national debt, speaking in Kansas City as part of her 'McCaskill on Main Street' tour on Wednesday. McCaskill said the debt would 'put us in a position where we’re not a first-tier nation anymore,' calling it 'irresponsible.' 'I do believe a $17 trillion debt is irresponsible. I do believe that,' McCaskill said, while adding that she supported raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment insurance." In "Democratic Senator: Debt Is Going To Make U.S. 'Not A First-Tier Nation Anymore'," by Andrew Kaczynski, BuzzFeed, 19 March 2014.

 

Addendum of Local Debts added to National Debts:   Debt is at an all time high with all government. The numbers are so big, we become immune to them. Individuals feel powerless to do anything about it. It’s worse when someone totals it up. For example, in Detroit, if every man, woman and child wrote a check for slightly over $26,000 today, the city would be okay. Most people don’t have that kind of money sitting around, so they ignore what’s going on or feel helpless." In "Why Chicago is NOT Detroit, But Illinois Is," by Jeff Carter, Points and Figures, 19 July 2013.   [ 1 ]

 

Addendum of Local Debts  added to National Debts II:  "The new round of borrowing brings Chicago’s total long-term debt to nearly $29 billion. That’s $10,780 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.69 million residents. More than a decade ago, the debt load was $9.6 billion or $3,338 per resident." In "City of Chicago’s cash cushion plummets, debt triples, arrests drop, water use rises," Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, 26 July 2013.   [ 2 ]

 

Explosive Addendum:   "U.S. federal debt has exploded in recent years, growing from $5 trillion (or 36% of GDP) in 2007 to an estimated $12 trillion (72% of GDP) by the end of 2013. Making the interest payments on this debt poses a permanent burden on future taxpayers. At the moment, interest rates are at historic lows, with the government paying an average rate of only 2% to service its outstanding debt.1 That contrasts with an average rate of 4.5% paid over 2000-2009 and 6.6% over 1990-1999. Most projections call for interest rates to rise back to more usual historical levels over the next several years." In "Off-Balance-Sheet Federal Liabilities," by James D. Hamilton, Working Paper 19253, National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2013.    [ 3 ]

 

A Slip Sliding Addendum:    "The response exhibits a clean partisan split: 55% of Republicans say the American dream is still achievable for most and 27% say it is not, while 53% of Democrats say the American dream is no longer achievable and 27% say it is. Complementing this pessimism about American dream, the majority perceive the gap between the rich and the poor as increasing. 64% of Americans say the gap is increasing, while 23% say it is staying the same and only 4% say it is decreasing. In fact, majorities of both Democrats and Republicans see the wealth gap as increasing." In "American dream slipping away, but hope intact," by Ben Henderson, YouGov Poll, 7 August 2013.   [ 4 ]

 

Addendum of Harsh Realities:   The fiscal gap is much bigger than the debt the federal government owes to the public, which is around $11 trillion, because it includes more things. Technically, it’s the value in today’s dollars of all projected future expenditures, including debt payments, minus all projected future taxes and other receipts, into the indefinite future. Kotlikoff put the fiscal gap at $222 trillion as of 2012 and estimates that because of tax hikes and sequestration, the gap is now at about $200 trillion even. A $22 trillion improvement in one year is impressive and inspiring. Still, the remaining shortfall is equal to 10 percent of the national gross domestic product every year, indefinitely. It’s up from around $60 trillion in 2003, he estimates. 'We’ve been spending our kids’ money for decades,' Kotlikoff says. 'It’s time we started acting like adults'." In "A Truly Smart Idea Republicans and Democrats Actually Agree On (No, Seriously)," by Peter Coy, Business Week, 23 August 2013.   [ 5 ]

 

A Children's Treasury of Debt:   "Since the beginning of September 2008, in fact, the Fed's ownership of Treasury securities and MBSs has increased seven fold. As of the close of business Thursday, the Fed said, it owned approximately $2,052,055,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities and approximately $1,339,771,000,000 in mortgage- backed securities—for a combined total of about $3,391,826,000,000 in Treasury securities and MBSs. The U.S. Treasury divides the U.S. government debt into two parts: debt held by the public, which includes publicly traded Treasury securities such as Treasury bills, notes and bonds, and intra- governmental debt, which is money the Treasury has borrowed out of the Social Security trust fund and other government trust funds and then used to pay current expenses." In "$3.39T Quantitative Explosion: Fed Owns More Treasuries and MBSs Than Publicly Held Debt Amassed From Washington Through Clinton," by Terrence P. Jeffrey, Cybercast News, 22 September 2013.

 

Easy Enough for Children to Understand:   "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today". Wimpy, in the Popeye cartoon series, circa 1932.    [ 6 ]

 

Addendum of the Beggar:   "Cartoons depicting the U.S. as a beggar and on a life-support machine have been cropping up in publications this week as the Republicans and Democrats scrambled to agree an extension to the debt ceiling before tomorrow's deadline. A Chinese minister has also accused the 'gentlemen' on Capitol Hill of showing little concern that their 'monkey business' had been damaging America's reputation around the world." In "Debt debate turns America into a laughing stock: China mocks default limit 'monkey business' as it depicts the U.S. as a beggar, by Simon Tomlinson, Daily Mail, 16 October 2013.

 

Addendum as Old News Update - January 2014:    "Uncle Sam—AKA the federal government—went on a New Year’s Eve binge, adding a net of $125,202,709,546.99 to its total debt in just the one day of Dec. 31, 2013, according to the U.S. Treasury. That equals approximately $1,088.60 for each of the 115,013,000 households the Census Bureau currently estimates there are in the United States. Overall, in the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which ended on Dec. 31, the total debt of the federal government jumped $613,787,258,252.83 That equals $5,336 for each household in the country. At the close of business on Dec. 30, 2013, the total debt of the federal government was 17,226,768,075,403.16. By the close of business on the next day—New Year’s Eve—the debt had risen to 17,351,970,784,950.15—a one-day jump of $125,202,709,546.99." In "Uncle Sam’s New Year’s Binge: Borrows $1,088 Per Household in 1 Day," by Terence P. Jeffrey, 3 January 2014.

 

See:   Leadership Failure  - spoke a failed leader

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]   Politicians have portrayed themselves for decades as competent managers of the public trust, but one learns an alarming reality. "Unfunded retiree health care costs loom larger than ever for localities across the country, and the health law’s guarantee of federal subsidies to help people with modest incomes afford coverage has made the new insurance markets tantalizing for local governments. A study issued this year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found 61 of the nation’s major cities wrestling with $126 billion in retiree health costs, all but 6 percent of that unfunded." In "Detroit Looks to Health Law to Ease Costs," by Monica Davey and Abby Goodnough, New York Times, 28 July 2013.

 

Rudimentary Math

 

           Doing rudimentary math:  Adding the national "debt per person" to a city's debt per person still ignores county, state and personal debt obligations, but yields shocking numbers, symptoms of the utter folly of a indebted social welfare government. A cursory look at Detroit's "Median household income, 2007-2011 -- $27,862" [Source: State & County QuickFacts, United States Census Bureau. (Last Revised: Thursday, 27-Jun-2013)] added to the "debt per person estimated from the National Debt clock shows that a citizen of Detroit might "owe" a minimum of $79,413 on an income of $27,862, or 2.85 times household income.

           But, there is no "average" household, for we read:  " 'The paper's own calculations back up Mayor Dave Bing's assertion at last week's White House Jobs Summit that Detroit's unemployment rate was "probably close to 50 percent'." In "Detroit's Unemployment Rate Is Nearly 50%, According to the Detroit News," Huffington Post, 18 March 2010.

           Therefore half the households must be removed from equation, leaving a minimum of twice the debt on half the households, or 5.7 times an average Detroit household's income is "assigned" debt already accrued by government, for one collects nothing from a household wholly subsidized by government to begin with. Such a number as the above is of course incorrect, for when one adds in county, state and personal debt, a working citizen in Detroit is being told by various levels of government that he is liable for more than 600 percent of his income in "public" debt. Is there any wonder that bankruptcy proceedings are underway? With this in mind, please see:  In a moment of candor  - a Democrat spoke .

 

[ 2 ]   From the same article in the Sun-Times, one learns another testimony about the utter incompetence of politicians, as well as unions' management:  "The condition of Chicago’s four city employee pension funds is growing ever more precarious. The firefighters pension fund has assets to cover just 25 percent of liabilities, followed by: Police (31 percent); Municipal Employees (38 percent) and Laborers (56 percent)."  This fiscal reality also shows politicians have been utterly incompetent, liars, corrupt or all of the above. 

 

 Double Whammy Time

 

          But the picture is more grim than the above statistics from one city newspaper. One learns:  ""If you define municipal debt simply as what states and localities have borrowed, the total nationwide comes to about $3 trillion. Nevertheless, these governments actually owe more than twice that much, according to estimates from groups like the States Project. The reason for the discrepancy is that states and localities carry another kind of debt—promises of retirement benefits to public-sector workers—and they have radically underfunded the systems that must pay for it. As Boston University Law School professor Jack Michael Beermann wrote recently in the Washington and Lee Law Review, the situation is a 'double whammy' for future taxpayers, who not only will have to pay for 'the consumption of prior generations' but also will receive 'reduced government services' as increased spending on retirement debt crowds out other programs." In "The Indebted States of America," by Steven Malanga, City Journal, Summer 2013.

          It is assured that a new era in politics dawns, in which fancy rhetoric will no longer be able to hide basic numerical truths.

 

 Direct Results

 

          In this example, one learns:  "Illinois’s five state pension systems had 43 percent of assets needed to cover obligations in fiscal 2011, the lowest ratio among U.S. states, Bloomberg data show. Quinn, 64, has said finding a fix 'has confounded legislatures and governors for 70 years.' 'Today’s downgrade is the direct result of the pension crisis we face and our inability to act without state legislation,' Owen Kilmer, a spokesman for County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, said in an e-mailed statement. “'We will continue to be negatively affected by the state’s lack of attention to local pension funds.' About half of the county’s tax base includes Chicago, the third-most-populous U.S. city." In "Chicago Home County Cut by Moody’s on ‘Formidable’ Pensions," by Brian Chappatta, Bloomberg, 16 August 2013.

          Preckwinkle errs. The "state" is acting, by not acting and making the pretense of some kind of political stalemate. These politicians are acting by trying yet again to "kick the can" down the political road. That is what has created the pension and debt crises over time, and what will exacerbate them until the inevitable occurs: insolvency becoming bankruptcy with its partial default, and perhaps the final step (as one saw in the collapse of the USSR), dis-corporation and total default.

           See:   Under funding sharks .

 

[ 3 ]    Given the data in this quote, which differs only in degree from other data -- "$5 trillion (or 36% of GDP) in 2007 to an estimated $12 trillion (72% of GDP) by the end of 2013" -- one may revisit the 2009 quote from an American president one more time:  "I found this national debt, doubled, wrapped in a big bow waiting for me as I stepped into the Oval Office."  How big is the bow and gift wrapping after five years? Do the math. Then ask -- how does this happens?  Doing the math will offer a partial explanation.

 

 Sooner or Later

 

          For this one reads opinion pieces as I did this summer of 2013:  "Sooner or later, Washington won’t be able to continue borrowing. Just as unions and banks will now tussle over whether pensioners or bondholders should have first claim on Detroit’s remaining revenues, Washington can dicker with Beijing over whether the Social Security checks should go out or the Middle Kingdom gets all the interest due on its holdings of U.S. bonds. At that point, we can auction off the Grand Canyon and spend the Fourth of July remembering what a great civilization we spent away." In "Obama plays politics with economy," by Peter Morici, Post and Courier, Charleston, print edition, 30 July 2013. Obama? How about Republicans and Democrats alike?

 

Not Immediate but Looming?

 

          One reads of the Republican and Democrat leadership in this time, found in a short news excerpt: " 'We do not have an immediate debt crisis,' Boehner said on ABC News’s 'This Week With George Stephanopoulos.' 'But we all know that we have one looming. And we have — one looming — because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They’re gonna go bankrupt.' Boehner’s remark that there is no present debt crisis echoed President Obama, who told ABC News last week, 'We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt,' But, Boehner said, he disagrees with the president about what should be done about the debt right now'." In "John Boehner: Debt crisis not 'immediate,' but 'looming'," by Sean Sullivan, Washington Post, 17 March 2013.  For a political clarification of the words -- ignoring the magnitude of the numbers -- please see:  Donkey Skins and Elephant Hides 

          One may learn that as a next Rome burns with massive debt, the many Neros of politics fiddle, amassing personal wealth while chattering on about Income Inequality 

 

[ 4 ]    "There is, in the end, a limit to how tightly past taxpayers, or their representatives, can bind the citizens of the future." In "We Are All Going to Pension Hell," by Megan McArdle, Bloomberg News, 7 August 2013.   See:  End Game .

 

[ 5 ]      If indeed the nation through its governments at all levels is currently "spending our kids’ money for decades," then there is an inherent lie in the following assertion:  

 

Pointy-headed Bureaucrats in Washington

 

          "...if, in fact, people start thinking the government’s the problem instead of the solution, then what that leaves you is whatever the marketplace does on its own. And what we’ve seen is a marketplace that increasingly produces very unequal results. And it – so it – it disempowers our capacity for common action to do something about poverty, to do something to help middle-class families. And I think the second element to that argument that has been made, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly, is that government has hurt middle-class families or hurt white working-class families, because, you know, pointy-headed bureaucrats in Washington are just trying to help out minorities or trying to give them something free." Barack Obama, in interview, PBS NewsHour, 28 August 2013.

          Given the once calculation that the "U.S. federal debt has exploded in recent years, growing from $5 trillion (or 36% of GDP) in 2007 to an estimated $12 trillion (72% of GDP) by the end of 2013," it becomes obvious that the next generations' potential productivity is being sacrificed by "pointy-headed bureaucrats in Washington" and elsewhere, such that municipalities are declaring bankruptcies, public pension funds are severely under-funded and government debt is only rising.

          One also notes that "common action to do something about poverty" has been going on since the Johnson administration's War on Poverty program and beyond, with no diminution in the number of poor as reported by the federal government. Is a war lasting over fifty years, continuing to produce "unequal results" and not any closer to being won cost effective? Winning that war? Or is it evidence of Incompetence  - from whence to thence?

          Thus anyone, much less an American president, who asserts that government is the answer and not the problem is in fact simply not up to Doing the math  .  Not even the most basic math. Or such an assertion is -- by the numbers -- a political lie.

 

[ 6 ]  "Wimpy is soft-spoken, very intelligent, and well educated, but also cowardly, very lazy, overly parsimonious and utterly gluttonous. He is also something of a scam artist and, especially in the newspaper strip, can be notoriously underhanded at times." From WIKI article: "J. Wellington Wimpy." 

          How oddly does this sketch of a cartoon character seem to match such Congressional testimony in demeanor as from the current and previous Fed chairmen.

          Unsurprisingly, many in the public sphere urging on rapidly-rising public debt are in the upper five percent of all Americans, and as such could be noted as both comparatively wealthy and by their simple economic wealth, uninterested in the issue of income inequality. See: Income Inequality for a reflection on this odd political stance by the wealthy in positions of public power who gain ever more wealth in spite of such political stances. Apparently Uncle Sam, the debtor man, is making some people rich in the process of being ever more indebted. Go figure.

          But as to Wimpy's repetitious but false promise, one reads of real politics just as sophisticated as that of Wimpy, as reality catches up to empty promises. As one example among thousands from inept government:  

 

 Paying with a Credit Card

 

          "For now, the debt problems have done damage mainly in Puerto Rico, where it substantially raised loan costs for a government that has come to rely heavily on borrowing to fund its daily operations. 'You cannot pay daily expenses with your credit card, and that's what Puerto Rico has been doing for years,' said Deepak Lamba-Nieves, research director of the Centre for a New Economy, a San Juan think tank. 'We borrowed just to keep the lights on'." In "Puerto Ricans fleeing debt battle," by Michael A. Fletcher, Guardian UK, 3 December 2013.

          The political rhetoric that the workings of public debt are somehow different in principle from the workings of private debt has been advanced, but in terms of simple math there is no difference. This shows how often the Wimpy ploy is trotted out by those who would exploit debt for some temporary political purpose and then walk away from the resulting problem whenever possible. The end result of unpaid debt is, of course, always someone else's fault.

          See:   We ran out .

 


 

Orange - know thing rimes

Old door hinges were once orange,
Sore engendering time turned each green,
For in jest each crusted door hinge
Rimed far from orange or grenadine.

Not clearly seen, not crystalline,
Each orange door hinge greened,
Patina painting tints and sheen
Till each was stripped then cleaned.

Each orange door hinge gleams again
As restorations reveal
Again brassy orange door hinges
For having scrubbed away the teal.

Rime? I'm amused quite anytime
When in an orange more tinged mood
Or injudiciously think sublime
On each door hinge, bright orange hued.

 


 

Free bees - nature's tale

"Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained." Helen Keller (1880-1968)

 

Free bees are the bees to love
For free bees come from up above,
Where free bees are that gift so free
Which wing their way to you and me.

Free bees are the bees to crave
For free bees buzz, cradle to grave,
As free bees grant their boon to all
And for them we've our wherewithal.

Free bees comb the commonweal
Sipping nectar as they steal
From ripening blooms as can be found
To feed their hive where these abound.

Free bees sting, though, when aroused,
When stingers stick all those who've drowsed
Too long by summer's free bee fest
And thought that all was bounty blest.

But comes the winter, Aesop told,
When free bees shiver in the cold.
Wings turn sluggish, moods turn sour,
And brittle breaks the free bees' bower.

Such is ever the cycle's wave
As in sects free bees fail to save
Nectar for when time turns bleak,
And free bees wither from their peak.

Prey and predator is the rule,
And balance is that prancing school
Which swings its pendulum forth, then back,
When free bees are culled by nature's wrack.

Unicorns will rarely believe this tale,
For bounty's unction must ever prevail,
And when such balsam into toxins turn
The sweetest zealots too must burn.

Free bees fly alone, in swarms,
But colonies fail in end days' storms
Which come as seasons always change
And such imbalances rearrange.

 

Envoi:  "Our welfare system is broken — and everyone knows it. The people trapped on benefits year after year with little hope of moving on know it. The frontline staff struggling to administer no fewer than 30 benefits know it. And the taxpayers funding a welfare system that encourages dependency know it, too." In "Our welfare system is broken," by Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrats web site, 16 September 2010.  [ 1 ]

 

Addendum:  "The first destroyer of the liberties of a people is he who first gave them bounties and largess" Plutarch (c. 46 – 120 AD)

 

Addendum of Promises Impossible to Fulfill:   "The welfare state is responsible for two current crises: the financial crisis that has slowed down or even reversed growth and stalled economies around the world, and the debt crisis that is gripping Europe, the United States, and other countries. It has piled mountains of debt on the shoulders of the most vulnerable among us—children and young people—and has issued promises that are impossible to fulfill. The crisis of unfunded obligations is approaching." In the introduction to "After the Welfare State," Tom G. Palmer, Jameson Books, Inc., 2012.   [ 2 ]

 

Addendum of a Herald:   "The Dutch government heralded the end of the welfare state on Tuesday as the fifth-largest eurozone economy presented an austerity-driven budget for 2014. 'The classic welfare state is slowly but surely turning into a society of participation,' King Willem-Alexander told parliament, laying out the Liberal-led government's plans for the year. 'It is asked of all those who can to take responsibility for their own life and that of those around them,' the king said in the speech written by Prime Minister Mark Rutte." In "Dutch herald end of welfare state as austerity hits," Agence France Presse, 17 September 2013.  [ 3 ]

 

Addendum of No Motherfucking Job:   "Greenslate, a 29-year-old La Jolla California surfer and musician who sings that he does not want a 'motherfucking job' and has 'fuck no' guilt about living on $200 of what he calls 'free money' — or what the government called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Benefits — while he avoids a job to hang out on the beach, sing and chase women." In "The new face of SNAP? Food stamps buy lobster for surfer and his buddies," by Caroline May, Daily Caller, 10 August 2013.  [ 4 ]

 

Addendum of Being Aware:   "Our business is to be aware of what is happening, and then to use our imagination to see what might happen, how this might be abused, and then if possible to see that the enormous powers which we now possess thanks to these scientific and technological advances to be used for the benefit of human beings and not for their degradation." Quote of Aldous Huxley, from his speech, "The Ultimate Revolution," Berkeley, 20 March 1962.

 

Addendum of the Freeloader Dilemma:  "One chap works, saves and provides for his retirement. When the time comes, he gradually exhausts his savings, and perhaps has to sell his house, to pay for care. His neighbour, by contrast, makes merry and never puts a penny aside. He gets the same care in retirement, funded wholly by the taxpayer. The first chap is understandably aggrieved (really aggrieved, believe me: every MP has met a version of him at a surgery). It’s the second, though, who has behaved rationally. All benefits systems run up against the problem. Economists call it the Freeloader Dilemma. Wherever you draw the line, you will always end up penalising some people for being provident, rewarding others for being idle." In "EU rules threaten the Coalition's welfare reforms," by Daniel Hannan, Telegraph UK, 23 January 2014.   [ 5 ]

 

Addendum of Mother Nature Preventing Layabouts:   "The idea of everyone in a community pitching in is so universal that even bacteria have a system to prevent the layabouts of their kind from enjoying the fruit of others' hard work, Princeton University researchers have discovered. Groups of the bacteria Vibrio cholerae deny loafers their unjust desserts by keeping the food generated by the community's productive members away from V. cholerae that attempt to live on others' leftover nutrients, the researchers report in the journal Current Biology. The researchers found that individual bacteria produce a thick coating around themselves to prevent nutrients from drifting over to the undeserving. Alternatively, the natural flow of fluids over the surface of bacterial communities can wash away excess food before the freeloaders can indulge." In "Tiny acts of microbe justice help reveal how nature fights freeloaders," by Morgan Kelly, News at Princeton, 6 January 2014.   [ 6 ]

 

Addendum of Freebies for a Heroin Kingpin:   "The head of the largest heroin operation in Polk County, FL history, along with numerous others who work for him, are illegal aliens who collect food stamps. Four of the operation’s women also collect WIC payments. In addition to raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money, the ringleader collected $900 every month from the government. 'You, the hard working taxpayer of this state, were paying him for this,' the Polk County Sheriff said." In "Heroin Kingpin Busted in Florida is an Illegal Alien…on FOOD STAMPS," by Brian Hayes, TopRightNews, 26 January 2014.

 

Addendum of a Story Like Others:   "While living the life of luxury on a 1-acre manicured lot, Gloria Valle-Clas collected between $305,000 and $377,000 in food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid benefits. Using two separate Social Security numbers and as many as 12 aliases, she duped government agencies into sending her monthly assistance checks and picking up her medical bills for nearly a decade. 'Conduct like this should incense all Americans,' U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp said Thursday. 'To be ripping off our government — every agency by every means possible'." In "Woman living in luxury sentenced for stealing up to $377,000 in government benefits," by Jane Musgrave, WPXI Pittsburgh, 11 April 2014.

 

Addendum of Welfare Weed:   "The Berkeley City Council has passed a law requiring medical marijuana dispensaries to distribute 2 percent of their stashes to people making less than $32,000 per year or $46,000 per family. Under the new ordinance, which was approved unanimously this summer, only city residents will be eligible and they must have a prescription. 'Basically, the city council wants to make sure that low-income, homeless, indigent folks have access to their medical marijuana, their medicine,' Councilman Darryl Moore told CBS San Francisco." In "Welfare weed: Berkeley orders dispensaries to give out FREE marijuana for low-income residents," by Pedro Oliveira Jr., Mail Online, 5 September 2014.

 

Addendum of Doing the Immigrant Care Math:   "Documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by Judicial Watch show that HHS paid the Baptist Children and Family Services (BCFS) $182,129,786 for the 'basic shelter care' of 2,400 unaccompanied minors (UAC) over several months this year. " In "Report: HHS Spent More Than $182 Million for 'Basic Shelter Care' of 2,400 Illegal Immigrant Minors," by Caroline May, Breitbart, 3 December 2014.   [ 7 ]

 

Addendum from a Quiet Catastrophe:   "One out of 6 prime-working-age adult males in the United States is not temporarily unemployed, or 'between jobs,' or 'looking for work.' No, a huge cohort of men in America is now neither employed nor looking for work. They are just skating by on a combination of girlfriends, wives, mothers and government benefits. Their status, argues Nicholas Eberstadt in 'Men Without Work,' is a 'quiet catastrophe'. Until relatively recently, choosing not to work was a luxury only the wealthy could afford." In "The New Non-Working Class," by Mona Charen, Real Clear Politics, 6 October 2016.   [ 8 ]

 

See:   Gimme  ,  and an obvious truth:  People like to freeload  

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]   While the Liberal Democrat leadership of the UK admits that citizens are "trapped on benefits year after year," one finds the old Soviet thinking against the notion of "freebies" for those who did not work -- for the state.

 

 All Will Have to Work

 

        One reads:  "We want to achieve a new and better order of society: in this new and better society there must be neither rich nor poor; all will have to work. Not a handful of rich people, but all the working people must enjoy the fruits of their common labour. Machines and other improvements must serve to ease the work of all and not to enable a few to grow rich at the expense of millions and tens of millions of people. This new and better society is called socialist society. The teachings about this society are called socialism." In "To the Rural Poor" (1903) by Vladimir Lenin, "Collected Works," Volume 6.

        One finds this echoed in an article about an adage. One reads also:  "In accordance with Lenin’s understanding of the socialist state, article twelve of the 1936 Soviet Constitution states: In the USSR work is a duty and a matter of honor for every able-bodied citizen, in accordance with the principle: 'He who does not work, neither shall he eat'." In "He who does not work, neither shall he eat," Wikipedia article, n. d.

        Of the adage specifically:  "In the spring of 1609, John Smith cited the aphorism to the colonists of Jamestown: Countrymen, the long experience of our late miseries I hope is sufficient to persuade everyone to a present correction of himself, And think not that either my pains nor the adventurers' purses will ever maintain you in idleness and sloth... ...the greater part must be more industrious, or starve... You must obey this now for a law, that he that will not work shall not eat (except by sickness he be disabled). For the labors of thirty or forty honest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintain a hundred and fifty idle loiterers."

         This becomes among the great questions for government as time passes. When funding for "charity" is coerced and then said "charity" is administered by the state, is it indeed charity? Is it charitable? The looming crisis for many governments -- is it affordable? The answers to the first questions are in flux, but the answer to the last is obvious, and should inform discussion of the earlier questions.

 

 A Feather-filled Mattress as a Way of Life

 

        But the image of the social welfare state is undergoing change through scrutiny. One reads:  "... we must acknowledge that a proportion of the people claiming benefits don’t deserve them; that there are people for whom benefits have become a way of life. Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum — and I consider myself a socialist — you can support the welfare state while also criticising those who abuse the system. But I fear we now have a welfare state that is no longer a safety net, but rather a feather-filled mattress on which to recline while playing your Xbox. Every day my colleagues and I, and those we work closely with in social services and employment agencies, are confronted by people who have never worked and who think it is their right to receive state benefits." In "I'm a socialist but, as an NHS doctor, I know Benefits Street is telling the truth about lazy welfare cheats," by Max Pemberton, Daily Mail, 21 January 2014.

        The same news source reports:  "Almost a million people who applied for sickness benefit have instead been found fit for work, according to figures published today. A third (32 per cent) of all new claimants for employment and support allowance (ESA) were assessed as being fit to work and capable of employment between October 2008 and March 2013 - totalling 980,400 people, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said. More than a million others withdrew their claims before reaching a face-to-face assessment - this can be because of individuals recovering and either returning to work, or claiming a benefit more appropriate to their situation." In "New figures show a THIRD of all people who applied for sickness benefit were found fit to work," by Ted Thornhill, Daily Mail UK, 25 January 2014.

 

 Free Riding

 

        As to the concept of free riders:  "In economics, collective bargaining, psychology, and political science, 'free riders'" are those who consume more than their fair share of a public resource, or shoulder less than a fair share of the costs of its production. Free riding is usually considered to be an economic 'problem' only when it leads to the non-production or under-production of a public good (and thus to Pareto inefficiency), or when it leads to the excessive use of a common property resource. The free rider problem is the question of how to limit free riding (or its negative effects) in these situations." In "Free rider problem," Princeton.edu.

 

 Enormous Irony

 

        One sees social welfare governments now struggling with the free rider dilemma, whereas Lenin was content to state "all will have to work." The irony in this is enormous, for the so-called political Left has advocated freebies in terms of social services while attacking a so-called political Right for opposition, all the while the Marxist-Leninist stance has been "all will have to work." As Nick Clegg takes notice of "the taxpayers funding a welfare system that encourages dependency." It seems the free rider dilemma is born of and sustained by very nice people who think an over-burdened welfare state cannot go bankrupt trying to reach "social justice." But Keller's observation suggests specifically that those dependents on welfare actually owe something back to society.

        The simple arithmetic is ever more clearly being examined, as the words of politics cannot obscure the realities of numbers.

 

 Promises Which Simply Cannot be Honored

 

        One reads, "The IEA calculated the Government would need to slash spending by more than a quarter or impose significant tax hikes because official calculations had failed to factor in future pension and healthcare liabilities. 'As populations age, tax bases will grow more slowly while government spending rises faster,' its report said. In a stark warning, the think-tank said Britain faced tax rises within just two years equivalent to more than 17pc of GDP – more than £300bn - in order to meet all future spending commitments. This is larger than the entire annual NHS budget and would increase taxes from 38pc to 55pc of national income. Philip Booth, the IEA’s programme director, said tax increases of this magnitude would be 'impossible' to implement 'without choking off economic growth and actually reducing tax revenues. The underlying problem is that successive governments have made promises which can simply not be honoured from the existing tax base. The electorate is grazing a fiscal commons at the expense of future generations,' he said." In "UK faces 'crippling' tax rises and spending cuts to fund pensions and healthcare," by Szu Ping Chan, Telegraph UK, 13 March 2014.

        While the political classes rage against this imagery, one may well argue that today's promises are to be paid by tomorrow's tax base. How might one make the assumption that a next generation of taxpayers will accede to the burdens of today's promises? It will be in their best interest to default on such promises, and this is the best prediction for the near term future. After all if a Lenin can foresee that "all will have to work," and if simple arithmetic proves that taxing the next generation to fund this generation's political promises will consume much in its future path to pay for yesterday, then a prophecy is simple to make. And the reason is extremely simple to understand.

 

 The Free Stuff Express Stalls

 

        In the snail's pace of political coming to awareness, one sees awareness dawning:  "...we will get to a place where the NHS becomes unaffordable and we will have to make some very difficult decisions which will get to the very heart of the principle of the NHS and its values. This will open up a whole series of discussions about whether the NHS is fit for purpose, whether it’s affordable, and whether the compact with the citizen of free healthcare for all is sustainable in the longer term'." In "NHS may be forced to abandon free healthcare, Britain's top doctor says," by Bill Gardner, Telegraph UK, 19 January 2015.

        "Stark warning" and "a whole series of discussions?" The problem is a wordy one, for numbers tell a much simpler story. In any system in which people are paid for a product or service, someone somewhere somehow must pay for said product or service. The rest is pie in the political sky, designed to "sell" the masses on electing a certain brand of political leadership which, as its product, manufactures visions of "free" disconnected from basic economics, and even Marxist-Leninist conclusions. It has been and remains a scam benefitting the political class in greatest measure.

        For a simple explanation in rhyme, see:  Robbery  .

 

[ 2 ]    Promises that are impossible to fulfill? It seems so by various reports.

        One reads that critics of reducing the total cost of the welfare state have no solutions, only complaints:  " 'Don’t get me wrong, but you can survive in Germany without doing anything – that’s just not normal,' says Edmund Phelps, American economist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Due to the demographic development he sees Germany facing a 'huge mountain of problems' that can only be solved if job dismissal protection and unemployment insurance were to be scrapped and if trade unions and public banks were to disappear. This is unacceptable to social organisations, trade unions and social movements. They already criticise the laws passed in recent years that have clamped down on citizens’ benefits and claims and, at the same time, increased co-payments and contributions. However, they too lack any really viable idea as to how to finance the high costs. Already each German pays on average around 40% of his or her income to the state and the social agencies." In "Welfare State Germany," by Christine Sommer-Guist translated by Heather Moers, Goethe Institut, November 2008.

 

 Huge Cracks Develop

 

        Yet, "The Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) said the report couldn't mask the fact that the social security system in Germany had developed 'huge cracks' and that the burden of higher social contributions was borne largely by workers. Klaus Ernst, deputy chairman of the opposition Left Party called the hike in spending on social welfare a 'warning sign.' Ernst warned that rising unemployment meant that more people were depending on handouts - a fact that posed a serious challenge to the German welfare state." In "Report shows huge rise in social welfare spending in Germany," Deutsche Welle, 15 July 2009.

        Welfare state spending as a cause of the European recessions?  "...surprisingly few people in Europe have bothered to understand the role that the welfare state played in creating it. The European debate zoomed in on two extreme positions, both bordering on caricatures as “Keynesian” versus “German.” The Keynesian school has a penchant for cradle-to-grave welfare states and sees Europe’s main problem to be a grossly insufficient fiscal expansion once disaster struck. The German school blames the entire euro-area crisis on bloated budget deficits and a lack of fiscal discipline. One side thinks thrift is a vice, the other sees deficits as immoral. Each has its own fix at the ready: Keynesians call for a government-spending spree, Germans for purification by austerity. Yet both fail to understand how a rapid expansion of state spending is part of the story in most economic crises, and that the composition of expenditure growth causes particular problems for post-bubble economies." In "To Thrive, Euro Countries Must Cut Welfare State," by Fredrik Erixon, Bloomberg, 18 April 2012.

 

 Bloated, Unfair, Corrupt and No Longer Economically Affordable

 

        One finds this in the UK as well:  "It’s not just that much welfare spending has become bloated, unfair and sometimes outright corrupt, it is also that it is no longer economically affordable. Osborne couched his case in highly political terms, as you might expect after the latest British Social Attitudes survey. This showed a high degree of public support for further cuts in welfare spending. Where once the Tories were regarded as cruel and heartless for wanting to slash benefits, it now seems that they can’t be tough enough." In "Europe and Britain sinking under weight of welfare costs," by Jeremy Warner, Telegraph UK, 8 October 2012.

        And of France under official Socialist leadership:  "President Francois Hollande pressed the French to accept reduced pension and welfare benefits as part of a national effort to revive a moribund economy and stem a rise in unemployment that has caused his popularity to slump." In "Hollande Presses French to Embrace Social Revamp to Spur Growth," by Gregory Viscusi & Mark Deen, Bloomberg News, 28 March 2013.

 

 Welfare Habits Too Costly

 

        Budget-busting?  "Scandinavia’s weakest economy can no longer afford the kinds of entitlements its citizens were raised on," according to Danish Finance Minister Bjarne Corydon. 'We live in a world of global competition for jobs,' the 40-year-old minister said in an interview in Copenhagen. 'For any finance minister wanting to be taken seriously, it’s something to deal with. That requires a modernization of the welfare state'." In "Scandinavia’s Weakest Nation Finds Welfare Habits Too Costly," by Peter Levring, Bloomberg, 30 August 2013.

        While one may add economic news of other nations to this growing picture, the simple numerical fact is that what Plutarch termed "bounties and largess" have become as he predicted so many centuries ago. The quotation above from Huxley is applicable, because as society changes is becomes demonstrable that "welfare" at the levels now causing economic crises is simply resulting in "degradation."

        The "simple numerical fact" can be expressed as a Ratio  .

 

[ 3 ]     It is worth noting historically that the early advocates of "welfare" implied something quite other than "free."  The purpose of society is that all share in the lifting, not ride atop others. One reads:  "Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained." Helen Keller (1880-1968)

         One sees far too often that this "sense of responsibility for each other's welfare" is absent. By reason of its absence, such an individual can demand society care for him, without a corresponding responsibility of the recipient of public largesse "giving back" in some measure.

 

 A System that Encourages Dependency

 

         Thus the modern welfare state which a liberal British politician, Nick Clegg, alongside liberal Dutch politicians is being correctly seen as "broken," by reason that many who receive public support no longer feel the responsibility to support themselves or others. Clegg calls it a "system that encourages dependency." European finance ministers find "welfare habits too costly."

         But Plutarch observed millennia ago this truth. "The first destroyer of the liberties of a people is he who first gave them bounties and largess." It is modern politics, supposedly liberal by today's rhetoric but a "destroyer" by the rhetoric of millennia ago, which has fallen into a well-known trap for having forgotten the lessons of history, among them that what has always been at stake is personal liberty, set at odds against the demands for "welfare" from those who evidence little regard for their responsibility for, as Keller so clearly states, "each other's welfare."

 

[ 4 ]   It is assured that one who believes in "free money" will offer up his vote to any politician who hints that such a thing is available, sustainable and most importantly, "free."  See Free Money  .

         "Freebies" become an ever more expensive problem for the US system, fiscally as politically with little will being shown by government to tackle the growing costs and diminishing returns:  "...there is little talk of simplifying America’s welfare system. Britain is trying to fuse multiple benefits into one and place a cap on the total that any individual may receive. Germany has brought its jobless rate down impressively, partly by creating one-stop shops where the unemployed both claim benefits and are shown how to find work or acquire new skills. Yet America remains stuck with a system so complex that even its fans struggle to measure how well it works. A simpler system that tried to encourage work at every step would fit with the grain of American society." In "Taxing hard-up Americans at 95%," The Economist, 7 September 2013.

 

 Strangling Government and Strangling by Government

 

         Another take on the growing and ever more indebted welfare state swamping all else:   "This is the central budget story, and it's largely missed -- or ignored -- by political leaders, the media, political scientists and the public. The welfare state is taking over government. It's strangling government's ability to respond to other national problems and priorities, because the constituencies for welfare benefits, led by Social Security's 57 million, are more numerous and powerful than their competitors for federal support. Politicians of both parties are loath to challenge these large, expectant and generally sympathetic groups. ....Both liberals and conservatives are complicit in this charade, but liberals are more so because their unwillingness to discuss Social Security and Medicare benefits candidly is the crux of the budget stalemate. This refusal is rich in irony: The pro-government party in rhetoric has become an anti-government party in practice. " In "The End of Government," by Robert Samuelson, Washington Post, 10 February 2014.

 

[ 5 ]    The so-called freeloader dilemma is referred to in many terms, such as parasitism, resource dilemma and free rider problem, and the better known "tragedy of the commons." This is among the great problems for government today, as welfare which turns to unsustainable debt for a future generation expected to pay for welfare today is illogical, if expedient to the political voices of today. One reads:  "Also, free riding on the provision of a collective good is often characterized as morally wrong. H. L. A. Hart (1955, 185–6) says that, if others are cooperating for mutual benefit and I benefit from their cooperation, then I have an obligation to do my share." In "The Free Rider Problem," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 21 May 2003.

 

 Having Responsibility for Each Other

 

         This conclusion dovetails with Helen Keller's astute observation: "Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained."

         But when conceives of the administrators of welfare within the government as parasitical as well, then one may well understand the enormous challenge with Keller's view clarifies. The recipients of public monies themselves have an obligation to the public, and this is the balancing act ongoing in various political arenas in the moment. If the sponsor's "responsibility" to provide services to the recipient, what then is the recipient's responsibility to the sponsor? This question is rarely asked, and rarely answered. It is easier by far for a politician or recipient of public largesse to speak the word "free," rather than consider what the cost is. The cost evidences itself in the tragedy of the commons, in massive and growing public debt, and in growing inequality, especially among the political class which appoints itself guardian of the poor. Keller reminds us that as long as this continues, "social justice can never be attained."

 

[ 6 ]    While "tiny acts" of microbes might be seen to act against the layabout and freeloader and parasite, one finds individual behavior in more free societies have developed strategies to "prevent nutrients" from "drifting over to the undeserving." I suggest economic absence -- or perhaps economic distance -- is such a social strategy within human populations. Please see the rhyme and sourced footnotes for People Walk Away  .

 

[ 7 ]    The median per capita income in the United States in 2014 is approximately $ 50,000.  The HHS grant to the "Baptist" agency is above this yearly income level.  $182,129,786 / 2,400 = $75,887.41 per unaccompanied minor "over several months." US Census Bureau QuickFacts for 2012 states that media per capita income for the US was $28,051, and median household income was $53,046.

 

 Wealth for the Few through Government Charity

 

         One learns more of the Baptist Children and Family Services tax-exempt foundation.  According to the BCFS Health and Human Services Form 990 for 2012, Part 1 line 8 says there were contributions and grants of $67,325,953, and Part VIII line 1e shows government grants of $63,321,644. Thus 94 percent of the "contribution" were government grants -- essentially tax payers paying for charity work done by a Baptist agency. Part IX line 7 says salaries and wages for 2012 were $33,534,874, such that 49.8 percent of these government grants went to salaries and wages of BCFS employees. Kevin Dinnin, chairman of BCFS, was paid $447,799 according to the BCFS Health and Human Services Form 990 for 2012.
 

US per capita income 2012

US median household income 2012

Amount claimed by BCFS

per each unaccompanied minor "over several months"

Kevin Dinnin,
BCFS chairman's remuneration 2012

$28,051

$53,046

$75,887

$447,799

 

         What one may then conclude, using the vocabulary of this time, is that a 1% fat cat and politically connected chairman oversees a tax-exempt "Baptist" charity which receives most of its "contributions" from government. 94 percent to be more accurate.  This chairman and his charity which pays its employees almost half the "contributions" as payroll and benefits paid on average about three times the amount of a US citizen's per capita income and 2/3s of a US household's median income for "several months" of care for non-citizen unaccompanied minor immigrants.

         Viewed from the standpoint of simple numbers, it seems this Baptist entity pays itself very well indeed from government funds for its "charitable work." 

         For more on the larger scandal of this contemporary and most political scandal, see Modern Times and Charity  .

         For more on Mr. Dinnin's "charitable" one percenter salary, see Income Inequality .

         The road to riches for too many seems paved with government grants and greased by politics. Indeed, one might argue People like to freeload   .

 

[ 8 ]    The Pew Research results comment on simple demographics without making an overstated political point. What was was, and what is is. This foretells the obvious; what will be will be. The curve bends down, from 73% in 1960 to 61% in 1980 to 46% in 2014. When will the number of children in a "traditional family" drop low enough to be considered problematic? Perhaps yesterday and the many yesterdays which preceded?

         As one surveys such information as the above chart, it seems that as long as the socio-political elite can command enormous sums for their "charitable work" while the poor struggle, the state only serves to exacerbate the problem with "freebees" to keep an underclass from revolution against the elite. But it is assured that a "non-working class" will have time to contemplate their response....

 


 

So shall ism

"Communism is a cow of many; well milked but poorly fed." Spanish Proverb.

 

So shall you do as we say;
So shall you just toil and pay
            That party grandees all might play.
So shall you, without delay.

So shall leaders name their terms,
So shall ism reconfirms.
            The proletariat must firm be led,
So thereby they can well be bled.


So shall you do as you're told;
So shall you be hard cajoled
            That you be right well controlled.
So shall you, by threat, by scold.

So shall ism now needs a crutch,
So shall ism now owes too much.
            Milked till dry, the little folk see
So shall ism's state is never free.


So shall shackles all renew,
So shall ism comes for you.
            Thrown off chains issued anew.
So shall ism dictates? True.

 

Envoi:   "Tyranny lives by suppression; Liberty thrives on freedom. The fatal mistake of the great Russian Revolution was that it tried to establish new forms of social and economic life on the old foundation of coercion and force. The entire development of human society has been AWAY from coercion and government, away from authority towards greater freedom and independence." In "Sacco and Vanzetti," by Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman, originally published: "The Road to Freedom," Vol 5, Aug 1929   [ 1 ]

 

Addendum of Fewer Means of Escape:  “Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.” John Stuart Mill (1806–1873), "On Liberty" (published in 1859)

 

Addendum of the Ruling Passion:   "It is to deny what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion as others have done before them. ...Distinction will be his paramount object, and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm, yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down." In Abraham Lincoln's Lyceum Address, delivered to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois on 27 January 1838, titled "The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions."    [ 2 ]

 

Addendum of the Millennial End:   "During the Christmas holidays of 1949 I decided to spend my spare time reading Karl Marx to try to understand the appeal of communism for many people. For the first time I carefully scrutinized Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto. I also read some interpretative works on the thinking of Marx and Lenin. In reading such Communist writings I drew certain conclusions that have remained with me as convictions to this day. First, I rejected their materialistic interpretation of history. Communism, avowedly secularistic and materialistic, has no place for God. This I could never accept, for as a Christian, I believe that there is a creative personal power in the universe who is the ground and essence of all reality — a power that cannot be explained in materialistic terms. History is ultimately guided by spirit, not matter. Second, I strongly disagreed with communism’s ethical relativism. Since for the Communist there is no divine government, no absolute moral order, there are no fixed, immutable principles; consequently almost anything – force, violence murder, lying – is a justifiable means to the 'millennial' end. This type of relativism was abhorrent to me. Constructive ends can never give absolute moral justification to destructive means, because in the final analysis the end is preexistent in the means." In "Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story," by Martin Luther King, Jr., Harper & Brothers, 1958.   [ 3 ]

 

Addendum of Division:  "A socialist is somebody who doesn't have anything, and is ready to divide it up equally among everybody." George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)   [ 4 ]

 

Addendum of Venezuelan Socialism:   "Every serious poll confirms, for the first time, that a solid majority of the public opposes the government. Even pro-“chavista” polling companies, such as Instituto Venezolano de Análisis de Datos, agree: In its most recent survey, 55 percent of Venezuelans considered Maduro a dictator." In "Venezuela: The Protesters' Power Is Rising," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, National Interest, 11 June 2014.   [ 5 ]

 

Addendum of Venezuelan Socialism, Part Two:   "The monthly Venezuelan minimum wage, Bs.5,622.48 (US$20.39) now fails to cover the cost of the basic shopping basket, and the majority of foods needed for a health diet are now missing from shelves, according to graduate research and analysis center Cendas-FVM. A family of five people has to spend over six monthly salaries to be able to afford the most basic products required. On April 20, Cendas highlighted that the value of the basic shopping basket rose by Bs.1,364 ($4.95) in February to March alone, having increased by almost 100 percent with respect to March last year. President of the Venezuelan Food Industry Chamber (Cavidea) Juvenal Arveláez also reported that annual inflation in the food sector could reach three digits, rising as high as 103.6 percent. Arveláez added that these are industry figures, as the Central Bank of Venezuela BCV has not published official data." In "Basic Food Items out of Reach for Four in Five Venezuelans," by Sabrina Martín, PanAmPost, 24 April 2015.

 

Addendum of No Authoritarian Socialism:   "...no Authoritarian Socialism will do. For while under the present system a very large number of people can lead lives of a certain amount of freedom and expression and happiness, under an industrial-barrack system, or a system of economic tyranny, nobody would be able to have any such freedom at all. It is to be regretted that a portion of our community should be practically in slavery, but to propose to solve the problem by enslaving the entire community is childish. Every man must be left quite free to choose his own work." In "The Soul of Man under Socialism," Oscar Wilde, 1891.   [ 6 ]

 

Addendum of Capitalism Favored Over Socialism:  "Despite the fact that most people are very concerned about the gap between the rich and the poor in their country, majorities across the globe are willing to accept some inequality to have a free market system. A global median of 66% say most people are better off under capitalism, even if some people are rich and some are poor. Belief in the free market tends to be highest in developing countries (median of 71%). Nearly two-thirds or more in all nine of the developing economies surveyed agree that most people benefit from capitalism, including 80% of Bangladeshis, 75% of Ghanaians and 74% of Kenyans. Publics in emerging markets also generally support the free market. More than half in 21 of the 25 countries surveyed agree that most people are better off in a free market system even if there is some inequality, including roughly three-quarters or more in Vietnam, China, Nigeria, Turkey, Malaysia and the Philippines. Support is much lower in Colombia, Jordan, Mexico and Argentina. Argentines are the least likely to see the benefits of capitalism among all 44 countries surveyed." In "Emerging and Developing Economies Much More Optimistic than Rich Countries about the Future." Pew Research, Global Attitudes, 9 October 2014.

 

Addendum of So Shall Slogans:   "In Main Currents of Marxism, Kolakowski wrote that 'Marxism has been the greatest fantasy of our century.' According to him, socialism signifies giving the solution which can never exist. 'At present,' the author pointed out, 'Marxism neither interprets the world nor changes it; it is merely a repetition of slogans.' And this is because the ruling elite does not represent the society's needs, but places empty ideology above anything else. Clearly the most important premise of the socialist rule is that it can be exercised by those who possess power. The system which exacts stern order and blind obedience may only triumph through violence, fear, and military coercion. At the same time this system generates only alienation, and stagnation. The sad story of our times is that the system which claims to embody the rights, privileges and welfare of the working class is the same system whose biggest enemy is its very citizens. Kolakowski jokes that socialism would be a splendid idea if only there were no people." In "On Leszek Kolakowski," by Mark Michalski, Crisis Magazine, 1 April 1983.   [ 7 ]

 

 Addendum of Power, Wealth and Weapons in the Hands of the Masses:    "...the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. This last word means 'government by the masses,' a joke on par with 'People’s Republic of China' or 'German Democratic Republic.' The slogan of the Libyan Jamahiriya is 'Power, wealth, and weapons—in the hands of the masses.' If only the last third of that were true, Gaddafi would be history. The self-dubbed 'Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution' isn’t called that much in the West. Media outlets dub him 'Wacky Gaddafi' or some other moniker denoting his lunacy. But his madness has a name: socialism." In "Muammar Gaddafi, Socialist," by Daniel J. Flynn, Human Events, 4 April 2011.

 

Addendum of an ex-Soviet Citizen on an American Socialist:   "I'm enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism and what it really means! Socialism sounds great in speech soundbites and on Facebook, but please keep it there. In practice, it corrodes not only the economy but the human spirit itself, and the ambition and achievement that made modern capitalism possible and brought billions of people out of poverty. Talking about Socialism is a huge luxury, a luxury that was paid for by the successes of capitalism. Income inequality is a huge problem, absolutely. But the idea that the solution is more government, more regulation, more debt, and less risk is dangerously absurd." Quote of Garry Kasparov, posted to Facebook, 2 March 2016.

 

 Addendum of Losers Against Achievers:   "...brushes with communism’s downsides prompted Menaker and many of her friends to embrace capitalism with a rabid intensity. 'Socialism is a conspiracy of losers against achievers,' Menaker said. 'America is the only country where you can come naked with no language and make it in 25 years'." In "Why Soviet Refugees Aren't Buying Sanders's Socialism," by Olga Khazan, Atlantic, 12 April 2016.

 

 Addendum of the End of Progress:   "Socialism will mean the end of progress. The Socialists will bring about nothing but general indolence. They ignore the basic inequality of man, and the inevitable outcome of a revolution will be a boring mediocrity and the tyranny of stupid men; there will be a flock without a shepherd. Socialism is nothing but an ill-adapted and misunderstood Christian ideal. It will annihilate all individuality and can be maintained only by force and terrorism because it demands a power for the state such as only despotic rulers possess. Democracy is a sort of quarantine against the pest of tyrannical ambitions."  In "Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Kafka," William Hubben, Macmillan, 1952.

  

Addendum of the Ending:   "Every revolutionary ends by becoming either an oppressor or a heretic." Albert Camus, The Rebel, 1951.

 

See:    Socialists love money  

  

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]   "Living in a socialist country for 30 years of my life, and required to study the theory of Marxism/Leninism from elementary school through college, I am familiar with some distinct characteristics of socialism. They include: Controlling people by making them dependent on government for basics such as medical care, property rights and income. / Applying separate standards in medical and other services for government employees and acolytes vs. the rest of society. / Brainwashing the population starting as early as possible with propaganda that is pro-central government and anti-free market capitalism. / Polarizing society by dividing people into groups by ethnicity. / Controlling speech, enforcing political correctness and attempting to suppress opposition media. / Collecting citizens' personal information using all resources available, including NSA programs. / Intimidating opposition through Justice Department investigations of journalists, IRS intimidation of groups and individuals who oppose government policies, and information collected on citizens that becomes quite handy./ Demonizing and destroying the livelihood of anyone — from members of the Tea Party to rodeo clowns — who dares to criticize the president. / Controlling economic resources via EPA and other regulations despite negative economic consequences. / Conducting show trials of freethinkers, such as the 13 felony counts brought against Internet prodigy Aaron Swartz, potentially leading to 30 years imprisonment. / Calling for sacrifices in the name of the collective good, promises of a bright future and endless lies about disastrous government failures here and now." In "A Russian Immigrant Sees U.S. Making Same Mistakes As USSR," by Svetlana Kunin, Investor´s Business Daily, 5 September 2013.

 

 Short-Lived Experiments with Socialism

 

         In contradistinction to someone who has experienced the decades' long failure of Soviet Socialism, one reads:  "Up until now, capitalism has managed to crush any short-lived experiments with socialism or to co-opt cultural challenges." In "How can we change the world?" by Todd Chretien, Socialist Worker, 9 September 2013.

         As one learns from this "Green Party" American born in 1969, avid younger socialists of today have either ignored or not learned that socialism in the 20th century was not a matter of "short-lived experiments." Rather, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics existed from 1922 until its economic collapse in 1991, hardly short-lived. Rather, the Cuban Revolution took control of that nation in 1959 and exists until today, over fifty years' in control socialist Cuba is also hardly "short-lived."

 

 State Control Does Not Work

 

          One learns:  "With infrastructure crumbling, food shortages acute and an average monthly salary of just $25 (£16), it has become apparent that near-total state control of the economy does not work." In "Fidel Castro says his economic system is failing," by Rory Carroll, Guardian UK, 9 September 2013.

          So while one learns from someone who has lived under socialism, Svetlana Kunin, that it is "disastrous," one still hears those who have not lived under socialism, Chretien, that "capitalism has managed to crush any short-lived experiments with socialism." Not learning from a century of socialist history is -- well -- not learning the lessons of socialism. One wonders if Chretien stands with Lenin and Stalin, as with Guevara and the Castro brothers, as with Mugabe and the ZANU-PF, as with the Communist Party of China, as with.... So many "short-lived experiments with socialism."

          Among them is this short-lived experiment:  True socialism, oh yes, he said  .

 

[ 2 ]   Ruling passion? "They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working Men of All Countries, Unite!" In "Chapter IV. Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties," The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx, 1848.  Thus the new "ruling passion" merely replaces the old "ruling passion."

 

 Exercising Dictatorship

 

         One reads:  "....Dictatorship does not necessarily mean the abolition of democracy for the class that exercises the dictatorship over other classes; but it does mean the abolition of democracy (or very material restriction, which is also a form of abolition) of democracy for the class over which, or against which, the dictatorship is exercised." In "The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky." V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 28, p. 235.

         Thus, one sees a very real substitution of "ruling class" by a new "ruling class" -- the dictatorship -- such that there remains that "gratification of their ruling passion." Notice that Lenin says outright that "democracy" will function to restrict "democracy for the class over which, or against which, the dictatorship is exercised." Therefore, simple logic shows that democracy itself becomes restricted by dictatorship of a ruling class.

         In terms of history, one notes that Lincoln's statement precedes Marx' statement by a decade. Lincoln knew the lesson of history that rulers seek "gratification of power," and Marx' apologia for the gathering of this power is nothing particularly new in that moment, though it seemed to be at the time. It was a statement of replacing a ruling class by another ruling class, which Lenin shows us to be simple substitution. One class seeks "gratification of power" and the next class seeks the same "gratification of power." Any and all dictatorship is "coercion and force" for the purpose of seeking "gratification of power."

         Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman reminded us:  "Liberty thrives on freedom" and not on "coercion and force."

 

[ 3 ]    For more insight into Marx' view of "justifiable means," please see: A Working Class Classified   .

 

[ 4 ]    Shaw's observation becomes amusing in light of the economic collapse of the USSR, as well as the enormous debt piled up by the United States. One reads of the US federal debt, now significantly higher than when the comment was made:  "We need to live within our means. We need to eliminate wasteful spending. If we did those two simple things, we would not need to raise the debt limit." In "Grayson Fights Against Federal Debt," States News Service, 4 February 2010.

 

 Stealth Socialism

 

         This same Congressman stated recently:  "We’ve had a government takeover of the bond market. Stealth socialism’s been created. Government simply ends up owning more and more and more. If government had taken over the steel industry, maybe it would have been more noticeable." In " 'I scared the crap out of them!': Alan Grayson details how to work with the GOP," by David Dayen, Salon.com, 18 September 2013.

         It is amusing, as with so many political celebrities in the US of both major parties, to note that Democrat Grayson, an attorney, has an estimated net worth of "$31.41 million," In "The 50 Richest Members of Congress," Roll Call, 16 September 2010. Thus one sees how many politicians amass capital, across the political spectrum all the while complaining of each other's "politics."

         With so many wealthy politicians, one gains an ever greater clarity about and appreciation for the truth that truly some Socialists love money  .

 

[ 5 ]     A dictator? This is of course consistent with Marxism. One reads:  "The chief reason why the 'socialists' do not understand the dictatorship of the proletariat is that they do not carry the idea of the class struggle to its logical conclusion (C f. Marx, 1852). The dictatorship of the proletariat is the continuation of the class struggle of the proletariat in new forms. That is the crux of the matter, and that is what they do not understand. The proletariat, as a special class, alone continues to wage its class struggle. The state is only a weapon of the proletariat in its class struggle. A special kind of cudgel, rien de plus!" In "The Dictatorship Of The Proletariat," V. I. Lenin, Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30.

         While Maduro becomes a dictator, he rages against an opposition which is not in power, and terms them "fascists."

 

 The Century of the State

 

         But fascism, like socialism and the Marxist-Leninist urge towards dictatorship, relies on state power against those who would oppose it. One reads:  "Granted that the 19th century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the 20th century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century. If the 19th century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the 'collective' century, and therefore the century of the State." Benito Mussolini quoted in "The Doctrine of Fascism, Wikipedia article, n. d.

         Given this clear statement, one sees that the so-called "right" of fascism calls for the "collective" under state control, while the so-called "left" of socialism calls for a "collective" under state control. According to these models, the average Joe faces two seeming choices -- dictatorship of the fascist or dictatorship of the socialist. There is no distinction between them from the perspective of an individual wishing to be free.

 

 Mussolini's Definition

 

         One reads further:  "State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management." Benito Mussolini, 1935, "Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions", Rome: 'Ardita' Publishers.

         Thus one learns that the similarities between socialism and fascism are greater than their differences, and the political jargon of Left and Right are essentially meaningless.  See:   Left and Right  .

         Mussolini demands a dictatorship of "control, assistance or direct management" while Marx and Lenin demand a dictatorship and ownership in the name of the state. Bandy words about all day, but these political theories both devolve to a clear and demonstrable "so shall ism." And both are plainly Totalitarian  .

         An amusing and instructive insight into words is found courtesy of an Italian author who observed:  "In Italia i fascisti si dividono in due categorie: i fascisti e gli antifascisti." In "Citazioni di Ennio Flaiano," Wikipedia article on Ennio Flaiano (1910–1972). "In Italy the fascists are divided into two categories: the fascists and the anti-fascists." Might the same be true for varying flavors of socialists, who campaign one against another in order to grasp onto and hold political office?

         The only remaining question in the competition between socialism and fascism is which dictator gains the "right" to rule? For this the political rhetoric must be confused and confusing for the average Joe, and for this Maduro's predecessor in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, asserted what I question: Jesus was a socialist? 

         Lenin called the state "a special kind of cudgel."  Marx called for "dictatorship."  Mussolini called for state "control." Such is the nature of statist doctrine which places a "better" over you, to dictate, to enforce with cudgel, to control. So shall ism.

 

[ 6 ]    Some avid socialists -- among them Marxists.org -- include Wilde's article among their apologia for socialism. A close reading of Wilde's remarks clearly rejects "authoritarian" elements of what socialism has meant over the last century, as well as other forms of Totalitarian government.         

         Wilde is clear:   "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognises infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of ones neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he?" In "The Soul of Man under Socialism," Oscar Wilde 1891.

 

 The Selfishness of So Shall Ism

 

         Thus, using government to enforce opinion -- such as political correctness attempts to do -- is in Wilde's view against "social" socialism. It is in fact state socialism, and it is this distinction which explains much confusion over the strange word, socialism, which is defined in so many ways as to be its own antithesis.

         Wilde's remarks are far more akin to the distinction which German poet, Erich Kurt Mühsam, between state and society, in which socialism was possible in society but not by the application of power through law of the state.

         "So shall ism" insists on such things as a one-party state and enforced political correctness.

         And yet we find that single party states align themselves with socialist theory, a theory which has pretended to be about economics but which is ultimately about political power. As such "so shall ism" is, in Wilde's clear distinction, selfish, and in Mühsam's clear distinction all about the state, not society which stands.

 

 The State Is Like a Thorn in Society’s Flesh

 

         In 1932, Mühsam observed, "It is certainly clear that wherever society exits there is no room for the state, but that wherever the state is it is like a thorn in society’s flesh, it does not permit it to form a people who can socially inhale and exhale, and instead divides them into classes and thereby prevents them from being a society. A centralized construct cannot at the same time be a federalist construct. A system of management organized along authoritarian lines is a government, a bureaucracy, a commanding power, and this is the mark of the state; a community built upon equal rights and mutuality is, when considered within the bounds of their physical proximity, a people, when considered as a general form of human living, a society. State and society are opposing concepts; the one excludes the other." 

         In Wilde's parlance, the state is selfish. Society and especially individuals are unselfish. The distinction is clear. This is why governments and their apologists reject such a threatening distinction.

         So one may easily contrast a "dictatorship of the proletariat [which] is the continuation of the class struggle of the proletariat in new forms" in the Marxist's approach to Wilde and Mühsam noting that it is the state itself -- even when pretending towards "class struggle" -- which is not social, but selfish and which handily becomes totalitarian because of the great Marxist error -- placing a dictatorship in the midst of political progress.

         This is why "social" socialism stressing freedom -- as Wilde and Mühsam both note -- is seen as such a threat to state socialism. As an example of this, see an example of state Socialism's Last Hurrah  - not democracy in any town.

 

[ 7 ]     This age seems an age in which the "Left" -- which can also be called the "Right" under certain rhetorical circumstances, as are National Socialism and Italian Fascism supposed to be -- begins to shed disciples.

 

 Something in Common

 

         One reads:   "...Federico Jiménez Losantos. He spoke with the paradoxical authority derived from his recent militancy in the Communist Party. He had gone through the CP, tilted even farther to the left in Red Flag, and knew the Chinese experience firsthand, until he finally broke away from that nefarious ideology. In his opinion, it was abominable for the intellectuals in our scene, who should be defending freedom and supporting the victims, to become accomplices of the tyrannies. Following Federico’s example, and probably encouraged by his resolute eloquence, several voices spoke up, among them Sánchez Dragó, Jorge Semprún, Xavier Domingo, and a few other writers who had something in common: they all came from the left. They had been communists in their early youth and later, nauseated, they had separated from the doctrine and the party, denouncing the inflexibility of its leaders and, above all, the divorce between theoretical socialism and its real manifestation. While the communists talked about the bright future awaiting post-capitalist society, the societies they controlled were repugnant dungeons, as Solzhenitsyn warned in 'The Gulag Archipelago'." In "Why They Quit Being Leftists," by Carlos Alberto Montaner, Independent Institute, 17 November 2008.

         Consider the bias of the modern socialist historian, who must ignore so much to present socialism as a "new" alternative, in the rhyme and footnotes -- Everything is bias .  Consider also the fluid nature of the monikers, Left and Right .

         Of late the parlance of crony capitalism has become popular, but it has far more to do with corporatism than capitalism and far more to do with government regulation and a command-style economy than with freedom. One reads:  "Business has very powerful lobbies; competitive markets do not. The diffused constituency that is in favour of competitive markets has few incentives to mobilise in its defence. This is where the media can play a crucial role. By gathering information on the nature and cost of cronyism and distributing it among the public at large, media outlets can reduce the power of vested interests. By exposing the distortions created by powerful incumbents, they can create the political demand for a competitive capitalism." In "A strong press is best defence against crony capitalism," by Luigi Zingales, Financial Times, 18 October 2015.

         While the argument seems persuasive, a "political demand for a competitive capitalism" requires a political demand for less political power over economies. Restraining corporatism is not done by restraining business, but rather by restraining government from favoring one business over another, the large corporation over the small business, and the politically connected over those not politically connected.  For "competitive capitalism" to gain against both "crony capitalism" and its sister, "So Shall ism," it is government which must be restrained, such that the wealthy feel at ease as they Bring presents to the party  .

 


 

French Lesson en anglais - mêmes choses, mais en pire

"More than 8,000 French households' tax bills topped 100 percent of their income last year, the business newspaper Les Echos reported on Saturday, citing Finance Ministry data. The newspaper said that the exceptionally high level of taxation was due to a one-off levy last year on 2011 incomes for households with assets of more than 1.3 million euros ($1.67 million). President Francois Hollande's Socialist government imposed the tax surcharge last year, shortly after taking office, to offset the impact of a rebate scheme created by its conservative predecessor to cap an individual's overall taxation at 50 percent of income." In "Taxes on some wealthy French top 100 pct of income: paper," Reuters, 18 May 2013.  [ 1 ]

 

Half enslaved means Conservative;
While fully enslaved is French for Left.
This language lesson teaches
That politics is become bereft
Of words with clear, bright meaning
To tell a basic truth or two,
For all such words now belong
To the collapsing socialist stew
Which teaches that half's Conservative,
While taxing all is Left.
The question then is socialist:
Where is freedom? What is theft?

Dare one ask the teachers

For definitions plain?
Or is the language of politics

Full corrupted and insane?

All to serve the masters

Who'd tax more than one hundred percent,

To somehow prop the system

Which is teetering, frail and bent?  [ 2 ]

 

Envoi:    "...plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." (Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in the January 1849 issue of his journal, "Les Guêpes")

 

Addendum from an Expat:  "From a senior United Nations official who is now based in Africa: 'The best thinkers in France have left the country. What is now left is mediocrity.' From a chief legal counsel at a major French company: 'France is dying a slow death. Socialism is killing it. It’s like a rich old family being unable to give up the servants. Think Downton Abbey'." In "The Fall of France," by Janine di Giovanni, Newsweek, 3 January 2014.   [ 3 ]

 

French Lessons:   "A truck dumped a huge pile of manure outside France's National Assembly on Thursday in a protest against the French political elite." In "Critic of France's Hollande Says It with Dung," Agence France Presse, 16 January 2014.

 

Addendum of 'Quelle surprise':   "Overseas investment in France fell by 77 per cent last year as Britain retained its position as the most attractive country in Europe for foreign business. A report by the United Nations showed just £3.5billion of foreign money went into France in 2013 – the lowest amount for 27 years. By comparison, foreign investors spent £32billion in Britain. This will inevitably add further fuel to ongoing accusations that the French economy has been woefully mismanaged by Socialist President Francois Hollande." In "Foreign investment in France plunges by 77 per cent as Hollande's socialist policies drive businesses away," by Peter Allen, Daily Mail UK, 31 January 2014.    [ 4 ]

 

Addendum en baisse:   "The economy has shriveled in four of the last six quarters. And it would have shriveled a lot more had it not been for the dominant government sector, including a slew of state-owned or state-controlled coddled and protected monopolistic mega-enterprises. And despite incessant talk of austerity, that government sector continues to grow. When Markit, a global business survey company, tried to figure out why its private-sector Purchasing Managers’ Index for France was so much worse than France’s GDP figures, though they track pretty closely for most countries, it found that output of the government sector has grown 2.1% since the second quarter 2012. But once the government sector is removed from the equation, private-sector GDP actually declined during that period by 0.2%. And it remains 3.2% below the pre-crisis peak. The private sector has never recovered! Evidence is piling up that the private sector is now getting into deeper trouble. It shows up in the number of business failures that in 2013 exceeded those of crisis year 2009!" In "France’s Private Sector Is Mired In A Disaster Worse Than 2009," by Wolf Richter, Business Insider, 13 February 2014.   [ 5 ]

 

 Addendum sur un exode moderne:    "France has been losing talented citizens to other countries for decades, but the current exodus of entrepreneurs and young people is happening at a moment when France can ill afford it. The nation has had low-to-stagnant economic growth for the last five years and a generally climbing unemployment rate — now about 11 percent — and analysts warn that it risks sliding into economic sclerosis. Some wealthy businesspeople have also been packing their bags. While entrepreneurs fret about the difficulties of getting a business off the ground, those who have succeeded in doing so say that society stigmatizes financial success. The election of President François Hollande, a member of the Socialist Party who once declared, 'I don't like the rich,' did little to contradict that impression. Mr. Hollande’s election, and especially his proposal — since ruled unconstitutional — to impose a 75 percent tax on the portion of income above one million euros (about $1.4 million) a year, have only reinforced that perception. 'It is a French cultural characteristic that goes back to almost the revolution and Robespierre, where there's a deep-rooted feeling that you don’t show that you make money,' Ms. Segalen, the recruiter, said. 'There is this sense that 'liberté, égalité, fraternité' means that what's yours should be mine. It's more like, if someone has something I can't have, I'd rather deprive this person from having it than trying to work hard to get it'." In "Au Revoir, Entrepreneurs," by Liz Alderman, New York Times, 22 March 2014.

 

Addendum of Deep Gloom:   " A deep gloom appears to have taken hold in France. A recent survey showed that two-thirds of the French are 'pessimistic' about their country's future. 'Viewed from the outside, France under François Hollande is like Cuba, only without the sun but with the extreme right,' the newsweekly Le Point recently wrote. The country is '"impoverished, over-indebted, divided, humbled and humiliated and finds itself in a pre-revolutionary situation in which anything seems possible'." In " A Tour of France: Examining the New Sick Man of Europe," by Alexander Smoltczyk, Spiegel Online, 23 July 2014.   [ 6 ]

 

Addendum of a Government Myth:   "Just as France's and Italy's poor economic results prompt the leaders of the euro area's second and third biggest economies to step up their fight against fiscal austerity, it might be appropriate to ask whether they even know what that is. Government spending in the European Union, and in the euro zone in particular, is now significantly higher than before the 2008 financial crisis." In ""European Austerity Is a Myth," by Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, 19 August 2014.   [ 7 ]

 

Addendum of Assigning Blame Somewhere Else:   "The tendency to blame outsiders – primarily Ms Merkel – for France’s woes would flourish amid the rising concern about national identity that lies at the root of the nation’s 'morosité'." In "After decades of stalling, a day of reckoning for France," by Jonathan Fenby, Financial Times, 25 August 2014.

 

Addendum of a Public Accusation:   "Francois Hollande's former partner says that France's socialist president hates the poor, in her potentially explosive memoirs she penned after the collapse of their relationship earlier this year. In Merci Pour Ce Moment ('Thank You For This Moment') Valérie Trierweiler claims that, in private, the leftist leader refers to the less wealthy with scorn, calling them 'the toothless'. He portrays himself as a man who does not like the rich. In reality, the president does not like the poor,' Trierweiler wrote. 'He, the man of the left, calls them 'the toothless', very proud of his humour'." In "Socialist President Hollande 'Hates the Poor' Says Ex Valérie Trierweiler," by Umberto Bacchi, International Business Times, 3 September 2014.    [ 8 ]

 

See:   Left is Right, as Right is Left 

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]      "The French Stalinist Maurice Thorez spent the second world war in Moscow, where he called himself 'Ivanov'. When France was liberated, he came home and entered government. After Charles de Gaulle stepped down as French leader in 1946, Thorez picked up one of the general’s pet projects: the creation of a school, the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, to train the new republic’s top bureaucrats. This caste, Thorez must have thought, was the “vanguard of the proletariat” that Lenin had always talked about. ENA has since produced countless members of the French political and financial elite, culminating in President François Hollande." In "The French elite: where it went wrong," by Simon Kuper, Financial Times Magazine, 10 May 2013.

 

[ 2 ]        A set of news quotes spanning a number of years suggests corruption in France is today's normal. But then Karr's observation above suggests otherwise; normal, but not new.

 

 Bribery and Cronyism in Government

 

            From 2005:  "The French judge who first uncovered the corruption scandal engulfing the country's most senior politicians has claimed that bribery and cronyism are still rife at the highest levels of government. Eric Halphen, whose investigations into kickbacks from public works programmes led to a number of President Jacques Chirac's closest allies going on trial last week, said that the prosecutions 'in no way' signalled an end to the corruption that has blighted French politics for decades." In "Corruption is still rife at top level of French government," by Henry Samuel, Telegraph UK, 27 March 2005.

            From 2011:  "Former French president Jacques Chirac was found guilty on Thursday of embezzling funds and violating public trust for hiring members of his political party for non-existent civil jobs while he was mayor of Paris." In "Former president Chirac convicted in corruption trial," France 24, 16 December 2011.

            Of the previous Conservative administration, one reads:  "French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been placed under formal investigation over claims his 2007 election campaign received illegal donations from France's richest woman." In "Nicolas Sarkozy to be investigated in Bettencourt scandal," BBC News, 21 March 2013.

            Of the current Socialist administration:  "...a sordid web of political and personal deceit. The man with the numbered bank account who finds that traveling to Switzerland is "a pain in the ass" is none other than Cahuzac himself -- until recently the minister, guardian and auditor of French public finances." In "Trouble in Paris: A Crisis of Democracy Rocks the Fifth Republic," by Ullrich Fichtner, Der Spiegel, 8 April 2013.

            And with a soupçon more detail:  "On Tuesday, Jerome Cahuzac, who resigned as budget minister two weeks ago, was formally charged with “laundering the proceeds of tax fraud” after admitting he had held an undisclosed Swiss bank account containing some 600,000 Euros. Cahuzac, who had previously denied the charges, said he had the account for around 20 years." In "France and Spain rocked by corruption scandals in the political system," MercoPress, 4 April 2013.

            Right or Left in the parlance of today's news from France, one thing is numerical: "France’s first recession in four years is more bad news for Hollande’s Socialist government after the number of jobless people hit an all-time high in March." In "French economy falls back into recession," France 24, 15 May 2013.

            A German editorial offers this:  "But the French welfare state costs money, a lot of money. The country has neglected to make decisions on how much its individual achievements are worth, and how certain luxurious aspects of life it has come to appreciate could be modified to conform to not-so-luxurious realities, including the 35-hour workweek, a retirement age of 60 for some workers and unemployment benefits of up to €6,200 ($8,122) a month. As a result, there is a sense of gridlock, and a sour public mood is following on the heels of bad economic news." In "Bonjour Tristesse: The Economic and Political Decline of France," by Mathieu von Rohr, Der Spiegel, 5 June 2013.

 

 The Sick Man

 

              As time passes, the outcome from political policies are evidenced in economic consequences:  "Among the Continent’s four biggest economies, France is the only one where businesses reported declines in output and in new orders. “France now stands out as the sick man of Europe, because so many other countries have moved ahead,” Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London, tells Bloomberg Television." In "More Evidence France Is the New Sick Man of Europe," by Carol Matlack, Business Week, 6 January 2014.

 

[ 3 ]      It seems ironic that the modern French socialists have stumbled into such tax brackets as 75 to 100 percent, all the while the economy stumbles further. But this was foreseen by another Frenchman of the 19th century. One reads the last words of Bastiat's Protection and Communism in translation:

            "Is it the function of the government to guarantee to each the free exercise of his faculties, and the free disposal of the fruits of his labour--that is to say, property--or to take from one to give to the other, so as to weigh in the balance profits, contingencies, and other circumstances?
            "Ah! Sir, if you arrive at the same conclusions as myself--if, thanks to your talents, to your fame, to your influence, you can imbue the public mind with these conclusions, who can calculate the extent of the service which you will render to French society? We would see the state confine itself within its proper limits, which is, to secure to each the exercise of his faculties, and the free disposition of his possessions. We would see it free itself at once, both from its present vast but unlawful functions, and from the frightful responsibility which attaches to them. It would confine itself to restraining the abuses of liberty, which is to realize liberty itself! It would secure justice to all, and would no longer promise prosperity to any one. Men would learn to distinguish between what is reasonable, and what is puerile to ask from the government. They would no longer overwhelm it with claims and complaints; no longer lay their misfortunes at its door, or make it responsible for their chimerical hopes; and, in this keen pursuit of a prosperity, of which it is not the dispenser, they would no longer be seen, at each disappointment, to accuse the legislature and the law, to change their rulers and the forms of government, heaping institution upon institution, and ruin upon ruin. They would witness the extinction of that universal fever for mutual robbery, by the costly and perilous intervention of the state. The government, limited in its aim and responsibility, simple in its action, economical, not imposing on the governed the expense of their own chains, and sustained by sound public opinion, would have a solidity which, in our country, has never been its portion; and we would at last have solved this great problem--'To close for ever the gulf of revolution'."

 The Universal Fever for Mutual Robbery

 

            But Protection and Communism in the modern state has come to be, in Bastiat's terms, and therefore it is assured that "the universal fever for mutual robbery" is the fundamental cause of what ails the nation and the government of Hollande.

            Protection? This is the term Bastiat employs. One finds it in current news: 

            "France has successfully bottled up its problems, thanks to a large and powerful state and the practice of closet protectionism. In France, government spending accounts for 56pc of GDP, the highest in the eurozone. To an extent that would be unthinkable in most other countries. Consumers, businesses and government operate a buy-French policy on just about everything from wines to cars. The result is that the effects of a loss of competitiveness can be disguised. But now the chickens are coming home to roost." In "France has been ignoring its problems, now the chickens are coming home to roost," by Roger Bootle, Telegraph UK, 19 May 2013.

            Metaphoric chickens coming home to roost?  One reads: "Outside, throughout the country, unemployment reaches new highs each month, factories are shut down daily, hundreds of thousands take to the streets to protest gay marriage, and the French are increasingly outraged over a barrage of new political scandals as the country hovers on the cusp of waning global relevance." In "Bonjour Tristesse: The Economic and Political Decline of France," by Mathieu von Rohr, Spiegel, 5 June 2013.

 

 A Bundle of Problems

 

            The news continues its assessment of an ailing socialist France.  "Frederic Schaeffer is an editor at the French business paper 'Les Echos.' 'On the one hand, the agency considered the nation's reforms to be insufficient,' he told DW. High levels of public debt were also targeted, with the country's debt load amounting to 53 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) - matched in Europe by just a few. France has repeatedly failed to meet EU deficit rules under which fresh borrowing must not exceed three percent of GDP. This year, it's expected to log a four percent deficit - despite tax hikes. As of 2015, public spending is to be cut in order to meet the three percent deficit target. S&P, however, has severe doubts about France being able to live up to its promise. ...French companies have another headache as well: non-wage costs. The nation's social welfare system has a cumulative deficit of 25 billion euros ($33.8 billion). But cutting such benefits would result in a lower purchasing power, with consumption playing a major role in stabilizing the domestic economy. And citizens are increasingly losing patience. The latest protests in Brittany have shown that people are fed up with tax hikes." In "Downgraded France has 'bundle of problems'," by Johanna Schmeller, Deutsche Welle, 18 November 2013.

            It seems as if Bastiat was prescient. The "universal fever for mutual robbery, by costly and perilous intervention of the state" has indeed brought "frightful responsibilities" as, in the modern parlance, indeed "the chickens are coming home to roost" to a government which cannot fathom why without admitting the fundamental error.

            As Pogo says in a classic cartoon, "we have met the enemy, and he is us."

            The enemy in the moment is government debt and time passing with resolving this growing problem. 

 

 Record High Public Debt

 

            One reads:  "According to the INSEE, public debt was 93%, or €1925 billion, in 2013, a new record, and higher than the €1841 billion recorded in 2012. The French Ministry of Finance argues that this number should not include financial support provided to European states like Greece, Spain or Portugal. It should also exclude the contributions made to the European Stability Mechanism, the measure put in place to help ailing banks. When excluding financial support to troubled countries, and the capitalisation of the European Stability Mechanism, the debt ratio is 90.4% of GDP. The Minister of Economy highlights that 'it would then be in line with government forecasts,' and effectively blames the EU for another French mishandling of public accounts." In "French public debt at record high," by Aline Robert, EurActiv France, 31 March 2014.

            One notes that this report on 31 March 2014 quotes the Minister of Economy, but as one reads below, as of the election results of the weekend, on 1 April 2014, said Minister and his compatriots "resigned." And in a parallel irony, the "raise those taxes" president, Hollande, is now calling for cutting taxes.

            "...plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

 

[ 4 ]     See the above for a comparison of the phenomenon of investments "walking away."   People walk away  .

 

 Resignation by Government

 

          And as to walking away, one reads:  "France’s socialist prime minister resigned along with his entire government yesterday following a meltdown in local elections. Jean-Marc Ayrault admitted that a huge swing to the Right, including to the extremist National Front, was down to him and his Left-wing government. And last night socialist President Francois Hollande – whose rule has become synonymous with a 75 per cent top rate of income tax – admitted to mistakes and said his priority was now to cut taxes." In "France's government resigns en masse (but Hollande's clinging on): Failing socialist policies blamed for elections rout," by Peter Allen and Daniel Martin, Daily Mail UK, 1 April 2014.

 

[ 5 ]     The simplest of ratios clarifies easily.

           A nation's economic "pie" is a measure, the GDP; then the Public Sector = GDP - Private Sector, while the Private sector = GDP - Public Sector. As the public sector as a percentage of GDP increases, the private sector simply diminishes. The private sector is the economic arena of entrepreneurship, true private investment and economic creativity accompanied by volatility.  The public sector fills its purse from the private sector, and as the purse is filled and the private sector purse emptied, the public sector crowds out entrepreneurship, investment and creativity. Thus growth in an economy cannot be sustained by a public sector, as demonstrated by the economic implosion of a number of government-directed economies, the poster child to date being the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

 

 The 100% Attempt

 

           Hollande, as an official socialist president of France, has tried 100% taxation of the wealthy, and much more, to be greeted with protests, and the economic and demographic truth that people and capital and political support all walk away. The article notes that "the dominant government sector, including a slew of state-owned or state-controlled coddled and protected monopolistic mega-enterprises" is a "dominant share" of the GDP and "continues to grow" in an economy that "has shriveled in four of the last six quarters." The ratios as equations become self-explanatory. When what is "dominant" cannot effectively grow the economy, the obvious other choice awaits. But the stance of socialism as governance and economic leadership stands in part against the private, the individual and the free, and must in some way repudiate something of itself to let loose economic creativity and growth. This gulf between socialist theory as exemplified by Hollande and the malaise of France economically explains why such socialism is never real revolution.

           Again as Bastiat reminds, government must become "limited in its aim and responsibility, simple in its action, economical, not imposing on the governed the expense of their own chains, and sustained by sound public opinion, would have a solidity which, in our country, has never been its portion; and we would at last have solved this great problem--'To close for ever the gulf of revolution'." 

           Would that the French president heed a French political theorist such as Bastiat over the often-failed theory of a German displaced to England, who spent his life begging for money and raging against his butcher, baker, teagrocer, greengrocer and "piano chap." See the several documented footnotes to People before profits  .

           What France needs is greater profits for its people in the private sector, that they may sustainably fund people in the public sector. Alas, a century and more of socialist thought has promised a different vision, and then repeatedly failed to deliver on its promises. Why? Because the greater the public sector, the smaller the private sector.  See Ratio  .

 

[ 6 ]        One notes a Left-leaning Le Point speaks of an "extreme right," which I note is political jargon with little meaning, as the extreme right known as National Socialists were socialists and officially anti-capitalist in their political rhetoric.  See: Enemies of Capitalism

           When an extreme right and an extreme left are anti-capitalist, are they not more alike than different?

 

[ 7 ]    The notion of what share of an economy should be in the private sector and what share in the public sector has been debated by economists and politicians. Some idea may be had about France's "austerity" after two successive collapses of cabinets under President Hollande. The chart below is based on Eurostat figures:

 

 Government Austerity is a Myth

 

           This data reflects the validity of Bershidsky's and others' argument that "austerity" in France is indeed a myth. From 2007 to 2013, the share of government expenditures has risen significantly against France's private sector economy, and while higher that the EU average in 2007, the government has grown beyond that to more than half the entire economy. This leaves a single question awaiting answer: at what percentage doe a government sector overwhelm a private sector to destroy it? It is likely France will be among the examples to answer this economic question.

           One reads of forecasts in mid-2014:  "Markit’s PMI services gauge for France fell for the third month to 48.2 in June, pointing to an outright fall in GDP following zero growth in the first quarter. The International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecast this year from 1pc to 0.7pc, warning that there would be no 'appreciable decline' in French unemployment until 2016. 'Volatile and uneven leading indicators point to the risk of a stalled recovery,' it said. The IMF said public debt should peak at 95pc of GDP next year but a 'growth shock' would push it to 103pc by 2016. The Fund warned of a “negative spiral of low growth and falling inflation” that is pushing up real borrowing costs and further choking investment, already dismally weak. Core inflation was 0.3pc in May." In "IMF warns of negative spiral in France as recession looms again," by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph UK, 3 July 2014.

           The adage reminds -- time will tell.

 

[ 8 ]    The accusation that a socialist president "hates the poor" is not so far fetched when one considers a historical footnote to the grand arch of European socialism.  See a class struggle theorist's own scorn for the poor:  A Working Class Classified  .

 


 

Springing

A blurred balloon flies
                                        which never was before
As springtime comes to snicker
                                    at old winter's door,
Little voices voicing
                                their once upon a time
Are aging now as then
                            in noisy pantomime.
Windows shut shutting out
                        let in a glimmered glow
Of tinkling blue and voices
                    banishing passed snow.
Life passes as it does
                and as it will to come
In cheeping as in pecking
            for those now quarrelsome.
Out my winters springs
        this bounding buoyant day
Which I have seen
    might see again
Till years draw me away.

 


 

Yesterday is spent

"After two years of pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions, a reduced minimum wage and the slated firing of 150,000 public workers imposed during his watch as Finance Minister, new PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos has now admitted that it could all fail and Greece could still be pushed out of the Eurozone of countries using the euro as a currency. Greece administered the austerity measures on orders of the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) in return for two bailouts of $325 billion to prop up an economy killed by generations of politicians packing public payrolls with hundreds of thousands of needless workers in return for votes." In "Venizelos Says Greece May Be Pushed Out of Eurozone," by Andy Dabilis, Greek Reporter, 1 May 2012.

 

The public sector fattened
As the private shrunk away.
And now they have less money
To pay their public pay.

Slash and cut, reduce the fat?
But fat remains the weight,
And all the politics aside,
This was the well-known fate.

Borrow to pay for yesterday
Is mindless, short of sight,
For more and more was owed and owed
While productivity took to flight.

Soft socialism fails softly
While making loud its noise;
Although it takes a bit of time,
Flux swings to equipoise.

Stein's law comes to call
For that which cannot win,
But saying this oft and loud
Is deemed a Panhellenic sin.

Yesterday is spent and gone,
While its debts do lingers on;
What was then social is now not,
In the clever socialist's talk-a-thon.

The public sector fattened
And the private shrunk away.
Socialist Greece goes begging,
For having spent its yesterday.

 

What comes next in the storyline?

Mere words both lie and twist?

Numbers likely will toe the line;

Wordy words will then be pissed.

 

Yesterday is spent and gone,
Its social promise a numbered joke;
What was once social is now not,
As comes debt's crushing social yoke.

 

Envoi:   "...I like to think that Herb would have preferred what seems to me the more rhetorically satisfying version, whose provenance I cannot now recall: “If something can’t go on forever, it won’t.” Either way, what amounts to a simple tautology has shown again and again its power to strike through the vaporous fogs of public debate to astound us with the force of revelation...." In "Herb Stein's law," by James Bowman, The New Criterion, January 2013.

 

Addendum:   "But beyond a $1.2 trillion debt (roughly a quarter-million dollars for each working adult), there is a more frightening deficit. After systematically looting their own treasury, in a breathtaking binge of tax evasion, bribery, and creative accounting spurred on by Goldman Sachs, Greeks are sure of one thing: they can’t trust their fellow Greeks." In "Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds," by Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair, 1 October 2010.

 

Addendum:   "...successive Greek governments from the left and the right used political pressure to hinder the collection of accurate financial data, masking the size of its problem, in order to stay within European monetary union guidelines." In "A brief guide to the Greek financial crisis: 2009 to the present," by George Kalantzakis, "Reinventing Greece," May 2013.

 

Addendum:   "While the overall unemployment rate rose to 27 percent, according to statistics service data released on Thursday, joblessness among those aged between 15 and 24 jumped to 64.2 percent in February from 59.3 percent in January. Youth unemployment was 54.1 percent in March 2012." In "Greek youth unemployment over 60 percent in February," Reuters, 9 May 2013.

 

Addendum:   "The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Greek: Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα, known mostly by its acronym PA.SO.K. (Greek: ΠΑΣΟΚ, pronounced [paˈsok]), is a centre-left party. It was founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou. In 1981 the PA.SO.K. became Greece's first social democratic party to win a majority in the Hellenic Parliament. It is a member of the Socialist International, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and the Party of European Socialists."  In "Panhellenic Socialist Movement," Wikipedia, 2013.

 

Addendum from the Little Guy:  "May I give you the view from Cyprus? Not as an economist, not as a theorist about whether ECB should buy bonds, print money; whether Germany is paying for the South etc. etc. This is what I see around me. The Cypriot and Greek governments have been engaged in total corruption for the past 5 years since Cyprus joined the Euro. In fact, the collapse of the state and the banking system in Cyprus has to do with a massive transfer of wealth from the private sector to the public sector. The government uses all income and huge bond issues and loans from Russia etc. to pay state workers obscene salaries and to give jobs to pals (Public sector growth rate, 2% p.a.: 1998, 18000 workers, cost €36 million; 2008, 70 000 workers, cost €2.8bn per year). Why did Cyprus banks buy so many Greek bonds? Because their government told them to. It is about family ties. It is about Hellenism. It is about cronyism." In an anonymous comment posted to the Economist article, "The Sleepwalkers," 25 May 2013.

 

Addendum:   “When one with honeyed words but evil mind persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.” Euripides, in "Orestes," 408 BCE.

 


 

Skepticism

When one considers mankind, much proves a cheat.
Some are filled with hope; some favor deceit.
Trust on and think, tomorrow will pay?
Tomorrow is falser than the former day.
Life should be built on trusting men,
But one should pause and think -- then again....

 


 

Doing the math - blindly on politics' path

 

From one United States of America's federal government website, "Recovery.gov is the U.S. government's official website that provides easy access to data," accessed 30 March 2013.  "Funding for Federal Contracts, Grants and Loans February 17, 2009 - December 31, 2012."   [ 1 ]

 

Doing the math
    On its sure, downward path
    Predicts a predictably sad aftermath.
Simple division
    Results in derision
    As government draws your debt deep bath.
Funds now" received"
    Divided by jobs now "achieved..."
    Results? Like a thieving psychopath.
Corruption and waste?
    Or stupidity's haste?
    Soon comes the coming economic wrath.
Throwing away cash
    Is again proven damn rash,
    And government's the guiltiest sociopath.

 

                    Envoi:     It is you who has reaped this millions of late?

                                    You, among these few thousands they state?

                                     If not, I'll tell you a tale that is true --

                                     The majority of the folks are just ignored -- likely you.

                                     Recover your senses, review data and math,

                                     Concluding with me the majority's path

                                     Is to pay the freight on this excessive zeal

                                     Which distributes such funds for the un-commonweal.   [ 2 ]

 

Addendum of Recovery:  "New estimates derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey by Sentier Research indicate that the real (inflation-adjusted) median annual household income in America has fallen by 4.4 percent during the "recovery," after having fallen by 1.8 during the recession. During the recession, the median American household income fell by $1,002 (from $55,480 to $54,478). During the recovery—that is, from the officially defined end of the recession (in June 2009) to the most recent month for which figures are available (June 2013)—the median American household income has fallen by $2,380 (from $54,478 to $52,098)." In "Incomes Have Dropped Twice as Much During the 'Recovery' as During the Recession," by Jeffrey H. Anderson, Standard, 23 August 2013.

 

Addendum of Recovery but not for Median Wealth:    "...the 'recovery' feels like a recession. A new study published by the Russell Sage foundation helps explain why many families feel like they’re falling behind: They actually are. The study, which measures the average wealth of U.S. households by income level, reveals a startling decline in wealth nationwide. The median household in 2013 had a net worth of just $56,335 -- 43% lower than the median wealth level right before the recession began in 2007, and 36% lower than a decade ago. 'There are very few signs of significant recovery from the losses in wealth suffered by American families during the Great Recession,' the study concludes. Not surprisingly, lower-income households have lost a larger portion of their wealth than those with higher incomes...." In "For most families, wealth has vanished," by Rick Newman, Daily Ticker via Yahoo Finance, 24 June 2014.

 

Addendum of Doing the Math Again:  "The Justice Department made a long-overdue disclosure late Friday: Last year when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder boasted about the successes that a high-profile task force racked up pursuing mortgage fraud, the numbers he trumpeted were grossly overstated. We're not talking small differences here. Originally the Justice Department said 530 people were charged criminally as part of a year-long initiative by the multi-agency Mortgage Fraud Working Group. It now says the actual figure was 107 -- or 80 percent less. Holder originally said the defendants had victimized more than 73,000 American homeowners. That number was revised to 17,185, while estimates of homeowner losses associated with the frauds dropped to $95 million from $1 billion. Holder needs to come forward and explain exactly how this happened and why. He used a press conference with the cameras rolling to give out numbers that proved to be false -- and they appear to have been willfully false." In "Eric Holder Owes the American People an Apology, by Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg News, 11 August 2013.   [ 3 ]

 

Addendum of Doing the Math -- Simple Math:   "...Homeland Security built 21 homes and bought 20 other mobile homes for $15 million. Comparable homes go for between $70,000 and $100,000, the paper said. The homes were build to be rented to border agents and officers. Homeland Security officials repeatedly refused to answer the newspaper’s questions about the project...." In "Report: DHS spends $600,000 to buy $100,000 homes," by Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, 16 August 2013.   [ 4 ]

 

Addendum of Others Doing the Math:  "There are 115,310,000 households in America. Government spending in the U.S. as of Q2 2013 was a little over $5.8 trillion. That equates to $50,328.68 per household. The median household income was reported in February at $51,404. So, median household income is almost equal to government spending (98%). So, governments spend almost dollar-per-dollar of median household income." In "What’s In Your Safe? Declining Household Income, Share of Entitlements At $607k," by Anthony Sanders, Confounded Interest, 17 August 2013.

 

Addendum of Simple Division:  "When President Barack Obama stepped on the ground here Friday, into a village initially known as Slocum Hollow, he visited a city that has been managing decline for more than 70 years. None of his policies of the past four-plus years has done a thing to point Scranton back in the right direction. Even the nearly $60 million in federal stimulus funds provided to the city by the Obama administration failed to create more than 34 jobs, as of 2012. " In "Obama showcases his own failure," by Saleno Zito, Tribune Pittsburgh, 24 August 2013.   [ 5 ]

 

Addendum of Doing the Affordable Care Act Math:   "Hawaii's Obamacare exchange, which has been allocated more than $205 million in federal funds, had signed up just 5,744 people in private insurance plans as of last Friday —the lowest enrollment tally in the nation. That works out to $35,749 in allocated federal dollars per private plan enrollee—making the Hawaii Health Connector the least efficient state-run exchange by that metric as well. And the Washington, D.C., exchange, which ranked as the second least efficient, has a whopping average of $20,449 per enrollee. That's $13,588 more than the third least efficient state by that metric, Vermont." In "Bang for bucks: Best and worst Obamacare exchanges," by Dan Mangan, CNBC, 31 March 2014.

 

Addendum of the Urban Legend:  " 'You, there: stop complaining and start hiring!' That is essentially the Obama administration’s message to businesses. This is an administration that seems to believe that $1 million spent on pollution control will create more than 1.5 net jobs. Who comes up with such numbers? One would be Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), who recently wrote in the Washington Post that there is no 'tsunami' of regulations to worry about, no matter what the Chamber of Commerce says. All is fine and dandy because OMB says regulations cost no more than $62 billion annually. Sunstein, who is in charge of keeping tabs on the costs of government regulations, also recently saw it fit to undermine his colleagues at the Small Business Administration, telling a Senate hearing that SBA’s oft-cited report finding of $1.7 trillion in regulatory costs is an 'urban legend'." In "The Cost Of Government Regulation," by Wayne Crews, Forbes, 6 July 2011.   [ 6 ]

 

Addendum of Politics as a Big Blind Spot:   "Our first instinct, in all versions of the study, is to leap instinctively to the wrong conclusion. If you just compare which number is bigger in the first column, for instance, you’ll be quickly led astray. But more numerate people, when they sense an apparently wrong answer that offends their political sensibilities, are both motivated and equipped to dig deeper, think harder, and even start performing some calculations — which in this case would have led to a more accurate response. 'If the wrong answer is contrary to their ideological positions, we hypothesize that that is going to create the incentive to scrutinize that information and figure out another way to understand it,' says Kahan. In other words, more numerate people perform better when identifying study results that support their views -- but may have a big blind spot when it comes to identifying results that undermine those views." In "Science confirms: Politics wrecks your ability to do math," by Chris Mooney, Grist, 8 September 2013.

 

Addendum of Minus Is a Plus:   " 'Disappointing data showing U.S. GDP suffered a steeper than previously thought downturn at the start of the year has been rapidly overtaken by more up-to-date survey data, which show the economy surging in June,' said Chris Williamson, chief economist for Markit. The same old story remains: This recovery is underway, but it's choppy and still very slow." In "3 reasons not to freak out about -2.9% GDP," by Annalyn Kurtz, CNN, 25 June 2014.   [ 7 ]

 

Addendum of New York State Math:   " 'The new New York is open. Open to innovation. Open to ambition. Open to bold ideas.' The spot is promoting the Start-Up NY program. Now the results are starting to come in: 76 jobs so far. In the entire state. From a program that has spent $28 million advertising its own existence. That’s $368,000 per job." In "Government logic: Spending $28M to create 76 jobs," by Kyle Smith, New York Post, 12 April 2015.

 

Addendum of New York Times Math:   "As bodies littered the streets and the sick lay dying in front of overwhelmed clinics last year, President Obama ordered the largest American intervention ever in a global health crisis, hoping to stem the deadliest Ebola epidemic in history. But after spending hundreds of millions of dollars and deploying nearly 3,000 troops to build Ebola treatment centers, the United States ended up creating facilities that have largely sat empty: Only 28 Ebola patients have been treated at the 11 treatment units built by the United States military, American officials now say. Nine centers have never had a single Ebola patient." In "Empty Ebola Clinics in Liberia Are Seen as Misstep in U.S. Relief Effort," by Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times, 11 April 2015.   [ 8 ]

 

Addendum of Doing the Department of Defense Math:   "President Obama's $500 million plan to raise an army of Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State horde is falling far short of its target, attracting only a few dozen recruits to the cause. 'As of July 3, we are currently training about 60 fighters,' Defense Secretary Ash Carter told lawmakers Tuesday. He and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey faced skeptical lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee as they addressed the administration's strategy for fighting the Islamic State. Even after Obama said a new effort to train Iraqi fighters is starting to pick up, Carter's estimate showed how far behind they are on the Syrian side of the border." In "Defense Secretary Carter says just 60 Syrian rebels in training," Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News, and The Associated Press, 7 July 2015.    [ 9 ]

 

 Addendum of Michigan's 918 Jobs Costing Billions:    "As of 2015, Michigan had 918 battery manufacturing jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's even after billions of dollars granted to this industry by state and federal lawmakers. In contrast, there were 4.6 million Michigan jobs as of June 2016." In "After Billions in Subsidies, Just 918 Michigan Car Battery Jobs," Michigan Capitol Confidential, 30 July 2016.

 

 Addendum of Big Fat Recovery for the Top 1%:    ""From 2009 to 2012, average real income per family grew modestly by 6.9%.... However, the gains were very uneven. Top 1% incomes grew by 34.7% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.8% from 2009 to 2012. Hence, the top 1% captured 91% of the income gains in the first three years of the recovery." In "Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States," by Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley, 30 June 2016.

 

Addendum of Denmark Doing the Math:   "...population projections show that Denmark's 600 billion-krone ($91 billion) welfare system is facing a future of more customers and fewer people around to pick up the bill." In "Aging Danes Hope Robots Will Save Their Welfare State," by Peter Levring, Bloomberg, 16 August 2016.   [ 10 ]

   

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]    The simplest of math for the data for the State of California, as per the above:  "Total fund received" of $27,254,240,000 divided by the "Recipient Reported Jobs" numbering 14,079 = $1,935,807.94 per job reported.  Is there any question that this "investment" is idiotic? Whether "corruption and waste" or "stupidity," the economic reporting from the federal government's own site shows massive funds spent for an extremely few jobs.

          The private sector, so often faulted by those who believe in the various versions of socialism as theory (which includes that today termed crony capitalism), create jobs when they can at far less expense -- and little to the taxpayer.

 

 327 Jobs Per Month

 

          It should be noted that the website suggests that this data is for the period of 2009 to 2012, and a similar division is as follows: approximately 45 months divided by 14,079 jobs = 327 jobs per month. What then is the federal government's definition of recovery? The numbers suggest recovery is now defined as losing money -- massively. 

          For other reflections on this, see:   Bankrupt green  and  Fat, fat government .  This is but one example among all too many from around the nation as around the world.

 

 Cost-per-Job Analysis in U.S.

 

          In a similar vein, while one can argue how various statistics are computed, the simplest explanations are often telling.  One reads of the "greentech" plans of the government:  "Without much fanfare, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently updated the list of loan guarantee projects on its website. Unlike in 2008, when Barack Obama pledged to create 5 million jobs over 10 years by directing taxpayer funds toward renewable energy projects, there were no press conferences or stump speeches. But the data are nonetheless revealing: for the over $26 billion spent since 2009, DOE Section 1703 and 1705 loan guarantees have created only 2,298 permanent jobs for a cost of over $11.45 million per job. As the astronomical cost of the DOE’s loan guarantee program indicates, subsidizing renewable energy is not a good deal for taxpayers. " In "The Department of Energy Spends $11 Million Per Job," Institute for Energy Research, 8 May 2013, citing the Department of Energy Loan Programs Office of the federal government. 

          Given the outlandish cost of a single "permanent" job, whether that cost be 11 million or 1.9 million, the salient observation is that a private sector entity can create a job without any public monies.

          This is the challenging criticism of the current "green" politics, in which a few men become fabulously wealthy while the many lose jobs.  See:   Albert Gore -- a study in the massive acquisition of capital.

 

 Cost-per-Job Analysis in Europe

 

          Lest the news citations seem to indicate this is uniquely an American issue, one reads of Italy and an egregious example of government waste:  "...when EU money does flow, things often take a strange course. Take for example the €7 billion training project, half financed by Brussels' social fund, that was meant to help young Italians find jobs. A study found that, although several thousand courses were taught, only 233 people ultimately found a job as a result. This means that every job cost about €30 million." In "Bungle Bungle: Italy's Failed Economic Turnaround," by Hans-Jürgen Schlamp, Spiegel International, 6 October 2014.

          While social media keeps people entertained with the relatively unimportant, a worldwide mess caused by fattened government continues, making rich the few at the ultimate expense of the many. How odd that so many believe the political rhetoric, when in fact Lying continues -  government flexing its sinews.   

 

[ 2 ]    "As of March of this year, 47.7 million Americans are now on some form of food stamps. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of Americans resorting to food stamps increased more than 171%. In 2000, there were just 17.1 million Americans on food stamps. (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, June 7, 2013.) There are more individuals on food stamps in the U.S. economy than the entire population of Spain—46.17 million. (Source: World Bank web site, last accessed June 21, 2013.)" In "What Recovery? Americans on Food Stamps Outnumber Population of Spain," by Michael Lombardi, Yahoo, 25 June 2013.

          A simple comparison of numbers and rhetoric finds a large population of poor people as set against the federal government's own admission that our betters spend over one million dollars per job.

          Where is the logic? Where is the sense? Which few have benefited from millions in cash while millions benefit from food stamps? Taken together, the simplest explanation is corruption or utter incompetence on the part of government.

          A comparison of the "one millions dollars per job" with economic realities shows either corruption or incompetence, but certainly a disdain for the many who have lost in the recent "recovery" summers announced by the administration.

 

 The Welfare Safety Net Is Exploding

 

          One reads:  "During January 2000 there were 75 million Americans over age 16 that did not hold a job. Today there are 102 million in that category---about 27 million more. Yet the number of participants in OASI (old age social security) is up by just 6 million during the same period. Moreover, there is no doubt about what happened the other 21 million citizens: they are on disability, food stamps, welfare or have moved in with friends and relatives or landed on the streets in destitution. In short, the US economy is failing and the welfare state safety net is exploding. And that means that the true headwind in front of the allegedly “cheap” stock market is an insuperable fiscal crisis that will bring steadily higher taxes, lower spending and a gale-force of permanent anti-Keynesian austerity in the GDP accounts." In ""The Born-Again Jobs Scam," by David Stockman, ZeroHedge, 11 July 2013.

          Doing the math, here is simple multiplication: the government's "$1,935,807.94 per job reported" x 27 million unemployed = an astounding $52,266,799,800,000.00. In prose, to fund employment according to the government's style of "recovery" would cost more than three times the entire gross national product of the nation for a year. Incompetence? Corruption? The best guess is a little of both. Or, as an Obama economic advisor said, Pretty darn fucked .

          "Doing the math" is simple, instructive and its results alarming as it fully and completely contradicts the political rhetoric and media inattention of this "modern" era of political corruption and incompetence.

 

 Who Will Clean Up the Mess?

 

          It seems major American media is beginning to "do the math." What is being seen is, of course, alarming. "A CNBC.com analysis of more than 120 of the nation's largest state and local pension plans finds they face a wide range of financial burdens as aging work forces near retirement. Thanks to a patchwork of accounting practices and rosy investment assumptions, it's not even clear just how big a financial hole many states and cities have dug for themselves. That may soon change, thanks to a new set of government accounting standards that could serve as a nasty wake-up call to states and cities relying on rosy scenarios and head-in-the-sand accounting. Even less clear is who will pay to clean up the messes. Will it be the millions of retirees owed trillions of dollars in benefits, the bondholders who lent states and cities trillions more, or local taxpayers who may have to pay more to cover the shortfalls or see deeper cuts in public services?" In "Pandemic of pension woes is plaguing the nation," by John W. Schoen, NBCNews, 5 August 2013.  For the full explanation, one might review:  Politics   and   Debt - you bet!

 

[ 3 ]    As to "doing the math," it took the federal government ten months to re-do their simple arithmetic. The correction was not made in a press conference, but as an addendum to a DOJ website, one notes, as an "extensive review" after the press double checked the assertions of a press conference from ten moths earlier.

 

 Inadvertent Inaccuracy

 

          "The initial version of these remarks inadvertently contained inaccurate numbers stating that the Distressed Homeowner Initiative netted 530 criminal defendants in cases involving more than 73,000 victims and losses of more than $1 billion, in FY 2012. An extensive review of the reported cases concluded that the original figures included in the Distressed Homeowner Initiative included not only criminal defendants who had been charged in Fiscal Year 2012, as reported, but also a number of defendants who were the subject of other prospective actions – such as a conviction or sentence – in Fiscal Year 2012. In addition, the announcement included a number of defendants who were charged in mortgage fraud cases in which the victim(s) did not fit the narrow definition of distressed homeowner that the initiative targeted. While all of the cases originally reported were part of our collective efforts to ensure stability and fairness in our financial and housing markets, the remarks below reflect the accurate, up-to-date data regarding the Distressed Homeowner Initiative." An "update" to "Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Distressed Homeowner Initiative Press Conference," Department of Justice, Washington DC, 9 October 2012, and updated ten months later, 9 August 2013.

          "Inadvertently inaccurate" for the accurate numbers were only 20 percent of the government's "trumpeting." Odd? Not at all, for one learns Lying continues .

          Some investigative reporting is now "doing the math" as regards various political boasts of government. The above is but one example, and one in which a government agency boasted of something when the reality proved to have been smaller, this error more than ten times the correct number. Consider such an error in scale: 10 + 10 = 200?  Perhaps $27,254,240,000 / 14,079 jobs created = $1,935,807.94 per job? Is this an error? Or fraud? Or stupidity? In a similar manner, one reads of consistent estimates of cost overruns, so de rigueur today that it may well be argued that politicians are not to be believed. Which politicians? For one concise answer, please see Politics .

 

[ 4 ]    Doing the math for the DHS: $15,000,000 / 41 homes = $365,853.66 per "comparable house" worth "between $70,000 and $100,000."  For such as this repeated again and again -- corruption or stupidity -- one sees that Uncle Sam has become Sam? -- the debtor man. When politicians ask a populace to trust in them, in their expertise and policies, one must question whether trust has been long misplaced.

          Which political party can justify such profligacy? Yet they do, each saying it's the other's fault all the while jointly voting to take on ever greater public debt. Uncle Sam has indeed become the world's biggest debtor, and hefty portions of this are in "investments" which turn sour, as in pork that is wasted, as in the corruption of what some call "crony capitalism" to obscure the reality of what such government activities are.  See:  Bankrupt green

          Such as all these is the greatest reason why political discourse has become little more than a shouting match of my "team" against the other "team," as if all were just sport. A blood sport.

 

[ 5 ]    Doing the math for Scranton:  "nearly $60 million in federal stimulus funds"  / 34 jobs =  about $1,760,000 per job.  One may notice a rather consistent range of numbers from sampling, demonstrating that a federal program seems to require numbers well over one million dollars to create a single job. What sort of inexpert management of the economy is this? Or is perhaps some "social cost" added via Corruption

          What is certain is the article's title, "Obama showcases his own failure," aligns with some basic data and sourced quotes suggesting this to be an accurate assessment. See:   Leadership Failure - spoke a failed leader.

 

[ 6 ]    As to the notion of costs of regulations, assertions are not numbers, but words.  One reads words:  "In light of the chaotic and uncoordinated character of modern regulation, the absence of good priority-setting, and the system of 'legislation by anecdote,' movement in the direction of a cost-benefit state is in many ways a salutary development. As we have seen, balancing is far better than absolutism. The point is especially important in light of the fact that with respect to protection of human health, absolutism may actually be counterproductive and hence far from what it seems." In "THE COST-BENEFIT STATE," by Cass Sunstein, Chicago Working Paper in Law & Economics, February 2013.

 

 Compare and Contrast

 

          A "cost-benefit state" should be able to explain how it is that -- in simply doing the math as per the several glaring examples above -- to create one single job a federal government  should spend between "$1,935,807.94 per job reported" and "$11.45 million per job," -- per that government's own data -- or purchase for "$365,853.66 per 'comparable house' worth 'between $70,000 and $100,000'."

          Perhaps a Sunstein-like political argument would be that such "doing the math" is "counterproductive and hence far from what it seems." Such stimulus, subsidy and unjustifiable expenditure of taxpayer funds seems like either gross incompetence with a does of tangy stupidity, basic corruption, or a combination of the two. Certainly Sunstein's "cost-benefit state" is not going to argue for the "benefit" of one job costing in the millions to create.

          Given that the private sector does this often at NO cost to government, such a "cost-benefit" explanation from government must be a creative endeavor.  Or perhaps those in government are in Cahoots ?

 

 Government Assumes Its Perfect Right

 

          Most corruption in government across history has been accompanied by apologists, and today's are no different from those of yesteryear, excepting that the next generation is not learning this basic story. Government becomes easily corrupt. As has been noted of political power, "I begin by taking. I shall find scholars later to demonstrate my perfect right." Attributed to Frederick II of Prussia (1712-1786). One might suspect that Sunstein would have been at home among such scholars in that court.

 

[ 7 ]    The assertion that a negative 2.9 percent GDP will be "recovered" based on some data which is not the next quarter's reported GDP is a forecast, as were the first -1% estimate, off by 1.9%.

          While CNN terms this a "downturn," the British press uses the verb, shrink.  "The latest revision came as a result of a weaker pace of healthcare spending than previously assumed, which caused a downgrading of the consumer spending estimate. Consumer spending - which is responsible for more than two-thirds of US economic growth - increased by 1% in the quarter, rather than the 3.1% rate as first estimated. Trade was also a bigger drag on the economy than previously thought, with exports falling by 8.9% rather than a previously estimated 6%." In "US GDP shrinks 2.9% in first quarter," BBC, 25 June 2014.

          Exports rely on trade, which seems to be falling worldwide in the moment, and consumer spending is dependent on take home pay and easy credit. One only need wait for the next GDP report, to determine whether forecasts for recovery as trustworthy or not.           In parallel to Khayyam's "the moving finger writes," the clock ticks....

          What seems arithmetically certain, as above, spending public money at "$1,935,807.94 per job reported" -- as documented by the federal government's own web site -- seems wildly expensive to the public.

 

[ 8 ]  "Hundreds of millions" may be approximated as a real number of at least $200 million, at the minimum. $200 million / 28 = $7,142,857 per treated patient. Such is the financial reality of the administration's "aid" to the Ebola crisis, according to the New York Times. As the report states:  "... the United States ended up creating facilities that have largely sat empty."

          The apologists for such waste would appear immediately, if this were a more noteworthy story. Rather such government waste is considered in the modern media as of little import, when compared to White House Easter egg rolls, as but one example.

 

[ 9 ]   An Obama administration official testifies that sixty insurgents are being trained through a $500 million budget. Simple math divides the sixty into that budget yields a per person cost of $8.33 million per solider. 

          This makes a fine argument for Incompetence  - from whence to thence.

 

[ 10 ]  Whether the United States or any of the Western "social welfare" nations, the simple fact of a most basic math tells that some less wealthy population in the future will be burdened with that greater and still growing debt which "compassionate" social welfare state politicians have been promising as sustainable.

          The whole of it has been a 20th century arithmetic lie and is become a politically-made catastrophe. One only need think of Denmark's demographic-economic plight soon to grow, or at the massive and growing debt piled up by the United States. Just ask Sam? - the Debtor Man.

 


 

  I never met a philosophy

"What is your aim in philosophy? – To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle." Ludwig Wittgenstein, in "Philosophical Investigations," 309, (1953).

 

Fly me out of the bottle,
And buzz me philo-psych;
I never met a philosophy
I did or did not like.
Tax on, o my words,
Lest they large collapse!
Pile and pour them loud
Into meta-thunderclaps.
 
Show me bottle necks
I might crawl through jolly quick.
For if I do it fast enough,
Fat words won't make me sick.
But wings when torn away
Don't fly beyond that neck;
Wit, then sheen, point overall
To begin again this trek.

Shrewd dinger had his cat,
A fly in our bottle's goo.
So is it this or is it that?
Or maybe why by who?
Fly me to the bottle;
Flatter and invite me in.
I never met a philosophy
Quite clear as Hendricks's gin.
 
Chicken Little told me --
Worry was apt and right,
And aiming a philosophy
At bottles seems delight,
When pondering ponderous words
In heaps and hoards so hard,
There comes a time for bottles
Flies hold in high regard.
 
Fly me out of the bottle,
But after I've had my swill;
I never met a philosophy
I did not like nor will.
Tax on, o my terms,
Investigating tomes!
Pile up, and even verse,
Bottoms up in catacombs.

Throw away the ladder
After clambering down,
Or rush off to the cinema
That's showing in your town.
Class is over; case dismissed,
The bottle-fly's propositions
By being proposed exist.

 

         Envoi:       How many philosophers dance on the meta-head of a pin?

                            And how many fly to be lost in that bottle of gin?

                            The point is iced, clearly wet, poured and drunk.

                            Everything's clear muddled; gosh, the thinks that we've thunk!

 

Addendum:    "Metaphilosophy is the philosophical examination of the practice of philosophizing itself. Its definitive aim is to study the methods of the field in an endeavor to illuminate its promise and prospects." Nicholas Rescher, Philosophical Dialectics, an Essay on Metaphilosophy, (2006).

    

Addendum:    "'To show the fly the way out of the fly bottle '— that, Wittgenstein once said,  was the aim of his philosophy. While it is perhaps unclear whether anyone —  philosopher or fly — should be flattered by this comparison, his overall point is  clear enough, as Paul Horwich notes in his recent piece, 'Was Wittgenstein  Right?'" In "Of Flies and Philosophers: Wittgenstein and Philosophy," by  Michael P. Lynch, New York Times, 5 March 2013

 

Addendum:   "Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!" Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991) as Dr. Seuss, in "Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!" (1975)

 


 

I have a little -ism - sung to the tune of "I Have a Little Dreidel," original lyrics by Samuel S. Grossman, and music by S. E. Goldfarb.

"No matter how remote from these notions the rebellion may be, no matter how destructive and self-destructive it may be appear, no matter how great the distance between the middle-class revolt in the metropoles and the life-and-death struggle of the wretched of the earth - common to them is the depth of the Refusal. It makes them reject the rules of the game that is rigged against them, the ancient strategy of patience and persuasion, the reliance on the Good Will of the Establishment, its false and immoral comforts, its cruel affluence." Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation (1969).

 

I have a little -ism. I built it out of words.
I followed it with -ation, terms clotting into curds.
Oh, -ism, wondrous -ism, my revolution's storm,
You'll march into the battle, in -ism's uniform.

I then went on in volumes, explained with theory deep,
In such delicious detail that most folks fell asleep.
But, -ism, wondrous -ism, my battle plan's complete,
You'll march to -ism's drumbeat, with -ism's booted feet.

The bourgeois sorts of critics who'd scorn my brilliant work
Will come to rue their judgment as -ists all go berserk.
Oh, -ism, wondrous -ism, my revolution's fist,
You'll conquer all before you, and none shall dare resist.

My -ism liberates and my -ism negates too,
And if you don't agree, -ists will come to negate you.
Oh, -ism, wondrous -ism, my revolution's dream,
Shall conquer all before me, that I may sip its cream.


My -ism topples cultures, break's civilization's clay,
And when the end begins, my -ism will hold sway!
Oh -ism, brilliant -ism, now take this world by storm!
You'll march into the battle but wear my uniform.

 

Envoi:   "No, you cannot expect people to understand the higher reaches of philosophy. Culture should be taken out of the hands of the dollar chasers. We need a national subsidy for literature. It is disgraceful that artists are treated like peddlers and that art works have to be sold like soap." Herbert Marcuse, in "Negations: Essays in Critical Theory" (1968)   [ 1 ]

 

Addendum:   "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" George Santayana (1863-1952)

 

Addendum:    "All liberation depends on the consciousness of servitude, and the emergence of this consciousness is always hampered by the predominance of needs and satisfactions which, to a great extent, have become the individual's own." Herbert Marcuse in "One-Dimensional Man" (1964)    [ 2 ]

 

Addendum:    "Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff." Frank Zappa (1940-1993)   [ 3 ]

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]  This silly demand by an author would place government in the position of choosing which "art" is supported, which "culture" should be approved and which literature should be read. Presumably that of which he would have approved, of course.

         Sadly and yet amusingly one finds the consumers of literature to be declining.

 

 A Brutal Truth

 

         One reads:  "New York state students' math and reading scores on standardized exams plunged this year, which federal and state officials said could be a harbinger of results in dozens of states moving to tougher tests tied to new curriculum standards. Overall, 31% of New York state students in third through eighth grade were proficient in math and reading on state exams this year, down from 65% in math and 55% in English in 2012 on different tests, according to several people who had seen the results that will be officially released Wednesday. They said just under 30% of students in New York City were proficient in math and 26% in reading. 'The only way you improve is to tell the truth,' U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. 'And sometimes that's a brutal truth'." In "National Test-Score Declines Are Likely," by Lisa Fleischer and Stephanie Banchero, Wall Street Journal, 6 August 2013.  The truth seems to be that teaching is showing itself progressively ineffective.

         This becomes understandable when one realizes that teaching literature as literature has become replaced with teaching various stances on approved political stances. The irony?

 

 Read a Little

 

         "Dwight Macdonald, who spat on the ambitions of the midcult man, took an interesting journey himself in the 1960s. He became a movie critic and later a contributor to the Today show. When student radicals took over buildings on the campus of Columbia University, Macdonald celebrated them and responded mildly when members of the Students for a Democratic Society (which gave birth to the terrorist Weathermen) literally set fire to the manuscript of a professor. The man who had denounced the barbarism of the American middle saw true barbarism in practice and found it wonderfully stimulating. 'You know how sympathetic in general I am to the Young, they’re the best generation I’ve known in this country, the cleverest and the most serious and decent,' he said. And then, speaking words that would mark the disgraceful epitaph of the successful assault on the remarkable American cultural moment of the 1950s, he said, wistfully, 'I wish they’d read a little'." In "How Highbrows Killed Culture," by Fred Siegel, Commentary, April 2012.

 

 Consciousness of Servitude Leads to Liberation?

 

         From Macdonald and Marcuse, one finds the longing for this "consciousness of servitude" which would encourage "liberation," servants leaving their masters. Alas, when those taught to be conscious of their servitude -- exploitation in the older Marxist verbiage --  it seems that such bourgeois skills as reading have been shown to wither within a given demographic. And reading as a skill opens intellectual doors to alternatives to this taught "consciousness of servitude," such that what Marcuse really imagines is a government which would approve his work and assign it to readers to read. But then, "I wish they'd read a little" tells that liberation often ends up being "liberation" from such thinkers as these. People walk away. This too is a kind of liberation, but not in the sense of those who would employ the term as synonym for something else.

 

[ 2 ]  The great problem of the 20th century for the various instances of Marxist and post-Marxist thought has been "the predominance of needs and satisfactions" as seen in consumer oriented societies. Marcuse would have the individual develop a "consciousness of servitude." This same thinker would have government subsidize literature, while book publishers and sellers manage to do this rather effectively, but most especially individuals who walk away from an author may today be "satisfied" that a given author has not established a broad "need" for his work. Ergo, the appeal to government to replace marketing wherein authors' works "have to be sold like soap." Or in used book offers at Amazon....

 

[ 3 ]  Ownership? One reads: "In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property. We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man’s own labour, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence. Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily. Or do you mean the modern bourgeois private property? But does wage-labour create any property for the labourer? Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage-labour, and which cannot increase except upon condition of begetting a new supply of wage-labour for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage labour. Let us examine both sides of this antagonism. To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion. Capital is therefore not only personal; it is a social power." In "Chapter II. Proletarians and Communists," Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848.

 

 Communism is for Confiscation

 

         How does the avid communist make a distinction between "hard-won self-acquired, self-earned property" when that property becomes a capital share in an investment fund? Or stock position in a company? Certainly avid socialists in academic environments hope their retirement funds are safe from confiscation by the state. And yet this is sometimes untrue, as one might learn from the rhyme, Ode to the Indiana Teachers Union - a coerced communion.

         Ridding the world of the "collective product" of capital means ultimately confiscation by the state of funds and property at some level above an arbitrary amount as set by "social power." And so, the individual who builds capital must be subsumed by the "ism" of "the single sentence: Abolition of private property." Is there any wonder that Communism has been seen over a century's history to implode economically? Is there any wonder that progressive leadership which deems itself the arbiter of a "common good" can so easily put aside an individual's property and capital when deemed to be necessary to the interests of the state? Alas, "people like to own stuff."

         Including Communists. Please see:  Capital for Communists - a story growing old, and Enemies of Capitalism for some historical clarification.

 


 

Subtracting - from a verse of Gustave Flaubert

"In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be,' he said. 'And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be. And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for.'" In "Secretary of State John Kerry  [ 1 ]  revisits childhood days in Berlin visit," by Matt Viser, Boston.com, 26 February 2013

 

Stupidity lies in wanting to draw conclusions.

Stupidity lies in wanting to draw.

Stupidity lies in wanting to.

Stupidity lies in wanting.

Stupidity lies in.

Stupidity lies.

Stupidity.

Stupid.

That’s something.

That’s something worth.

That’s something worth fighting.

That’s something worth fighting for.

Stupidity lies in wanting to draw conclusions.

And we tolerate it.

 

Envoi:    "In politics, stupidity is not a handicap." Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

 

Addendum:   "If stupidity got us in this mess, how come it can't get us out." Will Rogers (1879-1935)   [ 2 ]

 

Addendum:    "People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use." Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)   [ 3 ]

 

Addendum of the State Department Theologian:   "After witnessing a demonstration by the Grand Imam, identified by the State Department as K.H. Ali Mustafa Yaqub, Kerry then used a club to beat the drum, which is used to call Muslims to prayer. 'It has been a special honour to visit this remarkable place of worship,' Kerry said in a handwritten note to memorialize his visit. 'We are all bound to one God and the Abrahamic faiths tie us together in love for our fellow man and honour for the same God'." In "Kerry Tours Giant Mosque In Indonesia," Reuters, 16 February 2014.    [ 4 ]

 

Addendum of Possible Israeli Apartheid:  "If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming 'an apartheid state,' Secretary of State John Kerry told a room of influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting Friday. Senior American officials have rarely, if ever, used the term 'apartheid' in reference to Israel, and President Obama has previously rejected the idea that the word should apply to the Jewish state. Kerry's use of the loaded term is already rankling Jewish leaders in America—and it could attract unwanted attention in Israel, as well. ...Leading experts, including Richard Goldstone, a former justice of the South African Constitutional Court who led the United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict of 2008 and 2009, have argued that comparisons between the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and 'apartheid' are offensive and wrong. 'One particularly pernicious and enduring canard that is surfacing again is that Israel pursues 'apartheid' policies,' Goldstone wrote in The New York Times in 2011. 'It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations'." In " Exclusive: Kerry Warns Israel Could Become 'An Apartheid State'," by Josh Rogin, Daily Beast, 27 April 2014.   [ 5 ]

 

Addendum of "That's not the way I think":   "This is a time here in Africa where there are a number of different cross-currents of modernity that are coming together to make things even more challenging. Some people believe that people ought to be able to only do what they say they ought to do, or to believe what they say they ought to believe, or live by their interpretation of something that was written down a thousand plus, two thousand years ago. That’s not the way I think most people want to live." In "Remarks at Embassy Addis Ababa and the U.S. Mission to the African Union," Remarks by John Kerry, US Department of State, 1 May 2014.    [ 6 ]

 

Addendum of Democrat Diplomacy and a Billionairess:   "In Luanda, capital of Angola, Mr Kerry met another African leader who could step down for the sake of his people after a lot longer in power. A notable achievement of President José Eduardo dos Santos during his 35 years in charge is that his daughter Isobel is said to have become Africa’s first billionairess. Mr Kerry did not even try to tell papa to hold free and fair elections." In "An easier part of the world—not," Economist, 10 May 2014.

 

Addendum of Kerry's State Department Diplomatic Explosives:   " The Department of State requires the following items, Meet or Exceed, to the following: /  LI 001: 1.1 Comp C-4 M112, 1.25 lb Block w/Taggant, 360, EA;  /  LI 002: Detonating Cord - 50 Grains / Foot, 18000, FT;  /  LI 003: Detonating Cord - 25 Grains / Foot, 45000, FT;  /  LI 004: Cast Booster - 230 gram - (1/2 pound), 18000, EA;  /  LI 005: Sheet Exp - PETN based - C2 Thickness, 180, LB;  /  LI 006: LINEAR Shaped Charge, Copper, RDX, 400 Gr/ft, 144, FT;  /  LI 007: LINEAR Shaped Charge, Copper, RDX, 600 Gr/ft, 144, FT;  /  LI 008: Blasting Cap - Fuse Type #8- High Strength, 1350, EA;  /  LI 009: Blasting Caps, Elec., 12 ft., 250 ms del., 1800, EA;  /  LI 010: Blasting Caps, Elec., 12 ft., 500 ms del., 1800, EA;  /  LI 011: Blasting Caps, Elec., 12 ft. 750 ms del., 1800, EA;  /  LI 012: Blasting Caps, Elec., 12 ft. 1000 ms del., 1800, EA;  /  LI 013: Blasting Caps, Elec., 12 ft. instant, 1800, EA;  /  LI 014: Safety Fuse, Green - Military M700 type, 18000, FT;  /  LI 015: Electric Igniter, 6 ft. MJG, 12600, EA;  /  LI 016: Fuse igniter, pull string type, 9000, EA;  /  LI 017: Conical Shaped Charge 11 gram RDX, 900, EA;  /  LI 018: HELIX, (Liq & Activator) 1-3/8" x 8" (ALUMINUM POWDER), 1296, EA;  /  LI 019: HELIX LIQUID (NITROMETHANE), 1296, EA;  /  LI 020: Fuse Lighter, M81, 4050, EA;  /  LI 021: Red Dot Smokeless Powder Double Base, 180, LB..."    In "13--Explosives, Solicitation Number: FY14-GC-273, Agency: Department of State," 2014.     [ 7 ]

 

Addendum of the Somersaults:   "...he often seems out of sync with the White House in his public statements. White House officials joke that he is like the astronaut played by Sandra Bullock in the movie “Gravity,” somersaulting through space, untethered from the White House." In "Obama Could Replace Aides Bruised by a Cascade of Crises," by Mark Landler, New York Times, 29 October 2014.

 

Addendum of Very Troubling and Disturbed:    "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Saturday vowing to defy American policies in the region despite a deal with world powers over Tehran's nuclear program was 'very troubling'. 'I don't know how to interpret it at this point in time, except to take it at face value, that that's his policy,' he said in the interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television." In "U.S. 'disturbed' by Iranian leader's criticism after deal," by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin Nouri, Reuters, 21 July 2015.

 

Addendum of Kerry Mobilizing Hollywood:   "Secretary of State John Kerry met with the heads of major studios on Tuesday to talk about how to counter the ISIS narrative." In "John Kerry Meets With Hollywood Studio Chiefs to Discuss ISIS," by Ted Johnson, Variety, 16 February 2016.

 

 Addendum of a Bumpy Start:   "...his first meeting with Mrs May as PM got off to a bumpy start as he walked straight into the door of 10 Downing Street. He stopped on the steps of No 10 to pose for pictures but as he turned to enter the Prime Minister's residence, he hadn't noticed the door had shut. Mr Kerry ended up banging his head on the door knocker as he turned to walk through what he thought was an open door." In "John Kerry vows to help Britain to success after Brexit in his first meeting with Theresa May - but starts by walking straight into the door of No 10," by Matt Dathan, Mail Online, 19 July 2016.

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]    "Kerry's financial disclosure form for 2011 put his personal assets in the range of $230,000,000 to $320,000,000...." (In Wikipedia article on John Kerry." 

 

 The Rich Win

 

             One might note the following from a supporter of Kerry's Democrat Party in the United States, Warren Buffett (b. 1930) . who stated, "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." 

            An interesting comparison might them be made to the following: "The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor." Helen Keller (1880-1968)  In "Helen Keller: Rebel Lives," by Helen Keller & John Davis, Ocean Press, 2003.

 

[ 2 ]       Kerry has managed to show great diplomacy by admitting that "all kinds of information" is under surveillance," including that of Western allies. "Speaking to a press conference today, Kerry said: 'I will say that every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs and national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that. All I know is that is not unusual for lots of nations'. But the remarks did not wash with Merkel who responded, through a spokesman: 'If it is confirmed that diplomatic representations of the European Union and individual European countries have been spied upon, we will clearly say that bugging friends is unacceptable. We are no longer in the Cold War'." In " 'Spying on allies is not unusual': John Kerry hits back at claim US bugged 38 foreign embassies as Angela Merkel brands it 'unacceptable'," by Alan Hall, Daily Mail, 30 June 2013.  For more on Kerry's "not unusual" see:  Sir Veiled Lance .

            But then again admission that his nation's government is bugging friends comes from the man who said "you have a right to be stupid if you want to be."

 

[ 3 ]      "The reference to a country of Palestine was something that a State Department spokeswoman was later obliged to disavow, assuring reporters that US policy had not changed, according to AFP. Last November, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the Palestinian delegation’s status to that of a nonmember observer state, thereby granting de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood. The US voted against the move at the UN, along with only a handful of other countries, including Israel. When asked later Thursday about his comments, Kerry reportedly asked, 'Did I say that?' "Kerry refers to country of Palestine." The Times of Israel, 26 July 2013.

 

 Pedal and Backpedal

 

            And then.... "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry backed away Friday from his candid comments that seemed to signal American support for the Egyptian military coup and the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi." In "Kerry backpedals on controversial comment on Egypt," by Deb Riechmann, Associated Press, 2 August 2013.

            For a continuing insight into the US State Department one reads this excerpt from an exchange between a State Department Spokesperson and a reporter: "PSAKI:  We have determined that we do not need to make a determination. / LEE: Isn’t that the same as not having a position? / PSAKI: I will — I will let you parse yourself." In "Psaki: ‘We Have Determined That We Do Not Need to Make a Determination’ on Egypt'," Washington Free Beacon Staff, 6 August 2013, transcribed and recorded in video.

 

 It Is and It Isn't

 

            Not being aware of the facts yet speaking suggests "a right to be stupid."  One reads:   " 'Last year, not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank,' U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told guests at a Munich conference on Saturday, according to a U.S. State Department transcript. His comments, however, came just days after Israel’s Shin Bet security service detailed the Israeli deaths from terror attacks originating in the territory in 2013." In "Kerry Says No Deaths From West Bank Terror in 2013, Just Days After Shin Bet Lists Fatalities," Algemeiner, 3 February 2014.

            Or as Secretary of State Kerry said unequivocally:  "In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be...."

            And "That’s something worth fighting for."  Please see: A Modern Observation on The Anti-War Movement - "Where have all the critics gone, long time passing?"

 

[ 4 ]    Secretary of State Kerry perhaps was not informed by his staff of this trend in religion worldwide, but in this instance, Indonesia:   "Despite being touted as the Muslim world’s largest democracy, a new survey released by the Pew Research Center on Tuesday revealed that 72 percent of Indonesia’s Muslim population would favor an Islamic legal code as the 'official law of the land' if given the option. The survey, which focused on 39 countries and interviewed 38,000 people, found that most followers of the world’s second-largest faith want their religion to shape not only their personal lives, but also their social and political interactions as well." In "Seventy-Two Percent of Indonesian Muslims Favor Shariah Law: Pew Forum," by Arientha Primanita & Ethan Harfenist, Jakarta Globe, 1 May 2013.

            As to Kerry's theological statement, "'We are all bound to one God," one notes that he speaks for a nation which professes separation of church and state in official affairs, acknowledges more that the "Abrahamic" religions, as well as secular atheism. The statement is therefore in appropriate for a government spokesman, but in addition Kerry fails to make the distinction between "God" and "Allah" which Muslims in neighboring Malaysia are making in law. 

 

 Obligatory and Without Exception

 

            "Without much fanfare, the Aceh provincial administration and legislative council have approved the Qanun Jinayat (behavior-governing bylaw) that obliges every Muslim and non-Muslim in Aceh to follow sharia, the Islamic legal code. 'The qanun does indeed oblige everyone in Aceh to follow sharia without exception,' councilor Abdulah Saleh, who was involved in the deliberation of the qanun in the council, confirmed on Thursday. The Qanun Jinayat was approved by the legislative council on Dec. 13 and signed by Governor Zaini Abdullah. It was a revision of the controversial 2009 Qanun Jinayat that introduced the punishment of stoning to death. Following outcry from human rights activists, the provincial administration under then governor Irwandi Yusuf refused to sign or implement the bylaw and it was deliberated again under the new administration. Saleh said that the newly approved qanun stipulated that all violators of sharia would be tried under Islamic law regardless of their religion." In "Aceh fully enforces sharia," by Hotli Simanjuntak and Ina Parlina, The Jakarta Post, 7 February 2014.  See: There's God and then there's Allah  .

            But of America, Kerry said, "In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be."

 

[ 5 ]    "While running for president in 2008, Obama rejected associating the label with Israel, calling it 'emotionally loaded, historically inaccurate, and it's not what I believe'." In "MKs pan Kerry for saying Israel could become 'apartheid'," by Yifa Yaakov and Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, 28 April 2014.

 

 Emotionally Loaded and Historically Inaccurate

 

            One notes stupidity "that’s something worth fighting for" was answered by a senator in Kerry's own political party. The answer reads:  "Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and any linkage between Israel and apartheid is nonsensical and ridiculous.— Sen. Barbara Boxer (@SenatorBoxer) April 28, 2014" A Twitter message.

            "In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be...."

 

[ 6 ]      John Kerry quote about those who disagree with his abortion stance:  "I completely respect their views. I am a Catholic. And I grew up learning how to respect those views. But I disagree with them, as do many." In "Boston College to Honor Pro-Abortion Rights Secretary of State John Kerry at Graduation," by Matthew Archibald, Cardinal Newman Society, 25 April 2014.

 

 A Right to Be Stupid

 

             Christianity is two thousand years old.  How does that fact connect to some people wanting to "live by their interpretation of something that was written down a thousand plus, two thousand years ago. That’s not the way I think most people want to live?"  Odd. The fact and opinion do not relate logically, nor is an American Secretary of State empowered to speak in an authoritative manner for or even about "most people." But "In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be." This allows one to "respect" while disagreeing with one's declared faith -- of over two thousand years in duration. Hmm.

 

[ 7 ]      This is but one of many solicitations online at the State Department asking for bids from suppliers for explosives, blasting caps and fuses, igniters and detonating cord and more. One might well keep such information in mind when listening to the political leadership of the department speak of such things as a "peace process." Boom.   

             See:  A Modern Observation on The Anti-War Movement  - "Where have all the critics gone, long time passing?"

             And remember, "In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be...."

 


 

Manny Festo's Presto Change-o

Manny Festo wuz-is not a not-seen friend of mine,
Whose always all ways has stuffed to say bombast opine.
                Ought and ought not must, his could just could not knot
                Into his this-and-that and those it's mostly whaddies got.
Manny Festo's altitude demands a fist full change
And that is proven clear enough whenever we're in range.
                He'll fire off his salvo of whaddies writing wrong,
                Demanding -- you might've guessed it -- that we all just go along.
Manny actually maniacally thinks he's god the answers all.
That live-and-let-live stuff? No! That don't fly at all.
                Manny's got his declaration, an intensely aimed intent,
                Expecting we'll all go on, to his conned fist views well bent.
Manny's not the kind to hear that plain old answer, "no,"
And when he hears it often, the likely hood's he'll blow.
                Manny's fist is destiny, composed so long in prose,
                And he don't take too kindly when other views oppose.
Do as I say, demands Manny, fist to make demands;
Dammit all, with all them words someone misunderstands?
                Marching march to beating beat of Manny's puffed parade
                Is a single file as Manny imagines in his all alone charade.
Manny Festo's kinfolk have generationed down
And lived around us everywhere in each Manny Festo'd town.
                Thus it wuz-is-will as Will erects out rage,
                Readying its theater to explode upon some stage.
Look at me, little great man me, and read what's written long.
If only men would go along, join in Manny Festo's song.
                That folks don't's a mystery, when all is plainly prosed,
                Poor Manny Festo's two-bit tome ain't ever as he supposed.
Manny Festo's Presto Change-o's not so hot so fine...
Mostly it's always all ways puffed and ass-like asinine.

                Oh there'll all ways be some folks to champ he on --

                They're Manny Festo's, authored to tarry on.

Diverse itty bitty minds can be chock full of pride,

Where Manny Festo'd lunacy can lurk and grow inside.

                Being, becoming, booming in such sharp surety

                As wuz-is in its ideologically manic purity.

Presto Change-o, cries Manny Festo's voice...
Knowing all the answers, in which we should have no choice.

 

 Envoi:    “Manifesto. Read my Manifesto. I've written a Manifesto. It's all in the Manifesto!” Theodore Kaczynski (b. 1942)   [ 1 ]     [ 2 ]

 

Addendum:  "This is the text of a 35,000-word manifesto as submitted to The Washington Post and the New York Times by the serial mail bomber called the Unabomber. The manifesto appeared in The Washington Post as an eight-page supplement that was not part of the news sections." As editor's note to "The Unabomber Trial: The Manifesto," Washington Post, September 1995.   See:  Jackass 

 

Addendum:   "At an SDS convention in Chicago on June 18, 1969, the National Office attempted to persuade unaffiliated delegates not to endorse a takeover of SDS by Progressive Labor who had packed the convention with their supporters. At the beginning of the convention, two position papers were passed out by the National Office leadership, one a revised statement of Klonksy's RYM manifesto, the other called "You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows". The latter document outlined the position of the group that would become the Weathermen. It had been signed by Karen Ashley, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, John Jacobs, Jeff Jones, Gerry Long, Howie Machtinger, Jim Mellen, Terry Robbins, Mark Rudd, and Steve Tappis. The document called for creating a clandestine revolutionary party." Wikipedia on "Weather Underground," accessed February 2013.   See:  From Ivied Walls and Towers

 

Addendum:  "For the first time ever in English, this volume presents all of the manifestos and communiqués issued by the RAF [ Red Army Faction ] between 1970 and 1977, from Andreas Baader’s prison break, through the 1972 May Offensive and the 1975 hostage-taking in Stockholm, to the desperate, and tragic, events of the “German Autumn” of 1977. The RAF’s three main manifestos – The Urban Guerilla Concept, Serve the People, and Black September – are included, as are important interviews with Spiegel and le Monde Diplomatique, and a number of communiqués and court statements explaining their actions." In "The Red Army Faction, A Documentary History, Projectiles for the People," by André Moncourt and J. Smith, Kersplebedeb Publishing and PM Press 2009.   See:  Left is Right, as Right is Left    

 

Addendum:  "Though rarely upset during the trial, McVeigh disliked prosecutor Joe Hartzler, who referred to McVeigh as a 'coward,; and called his anti-government documents a 'manifesto.'" In "McVeigh saw blast as valiant," by Howard Pankratz, Denver Post, 4 April 2001

 

Addendum:  "On Wednesday, the network received a package from the Virginia Tech shooter, Cho Seung-Hui (more on that here). In the package were documents and images that Seung-Hui mailed to NBC in his final hours. NBC's coverage of this development, along with video clips from Seung-Hui's 'multimedia manifesto,' can be found at MSNBC.com." In "Details of what the Virginia Tech shooter sent to NBC News," Chicago Tribune, 18 April 2007.  See:  Downly down with the struggle

 

Addendum:    "This is the astonishingly detailed 1,500-page manifesto published on the internet by Anders Behring Breivik on Friday, hours before he carried out his attacks which would leave at least 93 dead." In "'Vlad the Impaler was a genius': The crazed and hate-filled 'manifesto' of the mass murderer," by Neils Sears, Daily Mail UK, 25 July 2011

 

Addendum:  "The image of idyllic California, as cable watchers from coast to coast know, took another devastating blow in mid-February, when the disgruntled former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner went on his wild, manifesto-driven killing spree." In "Paradise Lost," by K. E. Grubbs Jr. and Shawn Steel, Weekly Standard, 11 March 2013.   See:  Full Circle

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]      "Theodore John 'Ted; Kaczynski, Ph.D (pron.: /kəˈzɪnski/ ka-ZIN-skee, or ka-CHIN-skee; Polish: Kaczyński, pronounced [kaˈt͡ʂɨȷ̃skʲi]; born May 22, 1942), also known as the "Unabomber", is an American terrorist, mathematician, social critic, anarchist, and Neo-Luddite. Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski engaged in a nationwide bombing campaign against modern technology, planting or mailing numerous home-made bombs, killing three people and injuring 23 others. Kaczynski was born in Chicago, Illinois, where, as a child prodigy, he excelled academically from an early age. Kaczynski was accepted into Harvard University at the age of 16, where he earned an undergraduate degree, and later earned a PhD in mathematics from the University of Michigan. He became an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley at age 25, but resigned two years later." Wikipedia article on Ted Kaczynski.

 

[ 2 ]      "Kacyznski, also known as the Unabomber, is serving a life sentence for killing three people and injuring 23 in a nationwide series of mail bombs sent between 1978 and 1995. He’s also a member of the graduating class of 1962, which meets this week for its 50th reunion; and while Kaczynski was unable to attend — he’s currently incarcerated in a federal Supermax prison — he sent in a status update for the fete. The Unabomber lists his occupation as 'prisoner,' and under awards includes, 'Eight life sentences, issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, 1998.'" In "Unabomber Sends Bizarre Class Update to Harvard Alumni Directory," by Courtney Subramanian, Time Magazine, 24 May 2012.

 


 

Readerly and writerly  - vocabulating mightily

"All the toys one commonly sees are essentially a microcosm of the adult world; they are all reduced copies of human objects, as if in the eyes of the public the child was, all told, nothing but a smaller man, a homunculus to whom must be supplied objects of his own size." In "Mythologies" by Roland Barthes, translated by Annette Lavers, Hill and Wang, New York, 1984

 

Readerly and writerly, said-wrote one thinking boy.
    Readily but right was he to break apart each toy?
What's each's bourgeoisie status? Should one one's toys destroy?
    It seems their nature anyway, so why then play so coy?
Words in piles of words top words, more horses for old Troy,
    Shifters, drifters' words stack high, and they then redeploy.
Utterer and utterance? How apt? Hobbledehoy?
    Signify those signifieds! Rein hobbyhorse's breaking joy.
I myth the good old lisping daze when words would dash or buoy.
    Micro-marco-cosm? Adult mutterers' words decoy
As their semi otic, mother tongued mythologies shout, "ahoy!"

 


 

Toadies compete with kowtows - ever the game as power allows

"Journalists are now Photoshoppers of news: Guantanamo once bad, now good; we all grew to stop worrying and to love Predators; renditions, the Patriot Act, and preventative detentions must have gone with George W. Goldstein. Those noisy free-for-all press conferences are now like Xerxes’s court at Persepolis, where toadies compete with kowtows." In "Brave New World," by Victor David Hanson, PJMedia, 19 February 2013

 

Toadies compete with kowtows
As deeper and lower each bows.
Message men lick the spittle
While Average Joes deeply drowse.

Circling high around smarty-pants
Are clustered the newsy sycophants.
With crumbs from the table as victual,
They dance in their adoring trance.

Once good is bad, once bad is good,
Their dissonance rings round their neighborhood.
Hypocrites change like the winds, and whittle
Their messages out of may, might and could.

Droning on with critique lost at sea,
Opinion today is a panoply
Of yes but, maybe, ought and it'll,
As deadwood sprouts from the deadwood tree.

Messiah is come, shout hip, hip, hooray,
And so they broach no critique this day.
Change not their jot nor alter their tittle;
Their ideology parades in bright toady display.

 

See:    All the news is screaming  ,  also  I need no boots  ,  and  Could and May  - an up-to-date play

 


 

Everybody should

Everybody should....but everybody won't.
Such is life in each do and each don't.
                Collective nouns stumble, inconsistent in their nets,
                Which fail to catch all with even hooks or bayonets.
Everyone should... idealists spew such words,
But with each hardened won't they flounder afterwards.
                Should should be fine, well-intentioned, perhaps good,
                But it failed in the days of your own childhood.
Willfulness stands firm with its overt won't
When collectives legislate their collective don't.
                Cooperation then, when freely given free,
                Will trump collective visions most abundantly.
This is the tension between liberty and law,
And those who will not see it remain blind to what they saw.
                Everybody should....but everybody won't.
                Such are our lives in each do and just won't.

 

See:   You Topia  ,  for this theme permeates "modern" politics

 


 

Wordalacious permutations

"Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth." Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969)   [ 1 ]

Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth;
Truth is the lie delivered from the magic of being art.

Magic is truth delivered from the art of being a lie;
A lie is truth delivered from the art of being magic.

Art is truth delivered from the magic of being a lie;
Truth is art delivered from the lie of being magic.

Magic is the lie delivered from the truth of being art;
The lie is magic delivered from the art of being truth.

Art is the lie being delivered from the magic truth;
Truth is magic being delivered from the lie of art.

Magic is art being delivered from the lie of truth.
The lie is truth being delivered from the art of magic.

 

            Ambiguity's acuity congruity, all said to impress.

            Gussied up wordily and in its finest dress.

            Saucy all, oh gee!  Old word games recrudesce.

            Ingenuity? Discontinuity? Vacuity's my best guess.

 

Addendum:    "'But that,' said Peter, 'was only because he committed the extra sin of being found out.'" Dorothy L. Sayers, in "Gaudy Night" (1935)

 

Addendum:    "....since brevity is the soul of wit, / And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, / I will be brief." In "Hamlet," William Shakespeare (1603)

 

Addendum:    "...a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice." Mark Twain, in a letter to D. W. Bowser, March 1880.

 

See:    Musicology    and also a commentary in rhyme on utopia, entitled  You Topia 

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]    In "Minima Moralia" (1951) E. Jephcott, translated (1974), § 143.  The humor I find in this set of permutations is "wordy." Adorno was one wordy fellow, and by recent comments, one could now say without disagreement as to the fact that he is member in good standing of the "dead white men" club so criticized in some recent avant garde circles. (See my short article: On Stereotypical Adjectives to Describe Music .)

 

 Ideology Always Reflects Coercion?

 

           His complaints were often centered on economics far more than art, and specifically the "popular." One reads, "All are free to dance and enjoy themselves, just as they have been free, since the historical neutralisation of religion, to join any of the innumerable sects. But freedom to choose an ideology - since ideology always reflects economic coercion - everywhere proves to be freedom to choose what is always the same." A quote from "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception," by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer (1944).

           Are not the various streams of political thought of both the left and the right ideological, and if so do they all reflect coercion. If so, then Adorno's and Horkheim's ideological thought reflects coercion too.

           The great humor I find in this is simple: while he complained about not only freedom but other ideologies, he was in hope that we would be "free" enough to enroll in his ideology. Ah, such was/is/will be evangelization.

 


 

A Greek drama - semi colon and comma

"If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy." Dorothy Parker, in "The Collected Dorothy Parker," Penguin Books, 2001

 

Dear Anna Fora thought, then thought,
                and thought to be writ of thought:
Her ex, Uscitatio, had risen up,
                with passions deep distraught.
Another ex, Ordium, would clear elucidate
                what all this then must be about,
Yet high Perbole, ignoring proportions,
                ventilated with a great shout.

The black-hearted Ethopoeia became
                most empathetically vivid,
But Refutation refused to agree,
                making her all the more livid.
Little Me, Iosis, had belittled,
                or perhaps had even degraded;
In this I rude Tapinosis
                directly and cruelly aided.

Their penult, it seems, had but once
                been writ so perfectly penned,
Yet civil discourse had to debate
                over its most uncivilized end.
While all the superlatives gathered,
                being at their non-adverbial best,
The opposing Appostion
                thought it all an ill-wrote jest.

Syntax became its own sin tax,
                without reason, purporting rhyme.
Reflexive verbs thought mostly of themselves,
                meditating "Aye, I've, yes, and I'm..."
That alliterative ancient battleaxe, Cismus?
                She pretended to not even care,
As effect, Zio, had well described,
                poor Aporia was caught unaware.

Rhetor, the writer, scrawled in a gamboling style,
                of worrying, rambling, associative bile,
But in answer, Auxesis sang sweet aloud
                in her goodly good and better best style.
Attributive Apodosis then thought
                they all might have a chatty chat;
But met Onymy, that changeable cad,
                exchanging his this for a that.

Anton O'Masia spoke of She Who Must Be Obeyed,
                a haggard Rhetor justly reacted with fear.
Anna Diplosis repeated -- Repeat after me!
                Belittling Me, Iosis, at worst could but sneer.
Compound subject and its compounded twin
                both thought Must must be imperative.
But what, some asked, was it then all about,
                queerly questioning in their declarative.

Hypophora answered questions she'd asked,
                while Kairos waited for the time to be ripe;
Paralepsis cleverly skipped over
                Grammar's and Grampar's traditional tripe.
Peroration thought it best to close,
                but Paralepsis ignored, favoring, I suppose...
Until Epizeuxis and Epimone repeated,
                then repeated, again and again;
Diatyposis tried sagely to offer advice,
                but Epizeuxis thundered, "Again! and amen!"
 

 


 

Parataxis prophylaxis - it's syntaxis round a roamin' axis

A pair of taxis came, the second after the first --

They'd missed the conjunction, what was worse --

 

Arranging themselves side by side like claws --

Hey buddy, come on, just get inside --

 

Both it seems would get no fare --

I left the pair of taxis snare --

which one was I to take?

both drivers would bellyache.

 

no clear juxtaposition spoke.

the problem was, I was broke.

 

my pockets stuffed with without.

and left high fun right there, thereabout.

 


 

In a world of make-believe - at its end one learns to grieve

"This meal happened to be a make-believe tea, and they sat 'round the board guzzling in their greed; and really, what with their chatter and recriminations, the noise, as Wendy said, was positively deafening." J. M. Barrie, in "Peter Pan" (circa 1902-11)

 

In a world of make-believe
Don't plunk your money down.
All's intended to deceive
In a make-believing town.

What you see ain't what you get.
What you want's not there.
What's peddled is a losing bet
Which masquerades as fair.

In a world of make-believe
Don't bet your bottom dollar.
Don't be stupidly naive;
Behind the scenes lies squalor.

In this world of make-believe,
You can have it all, assured,
Until the time you cannot,
And then you will be cured.

What you see is not the whole,
But surface noise so bright
To hail, to cheer and to extol
As if all will be quite right.

Make believe is theater, and
What lives behind its scenes
Is reality, hard, not grand;
Stark reality contravenes.

What you see behind the scenes
Does not glitter to be gay,
But dashes dreams to smithereens;
Then believers run away.

Will you go and make-believe,
Blinded to each outcome?
Then of those who would you deceive,
You're welcome to their hokum.

 

If you would play at make-believe,
That is not reason I should.
When proof is hid, I'd disbelieve

For the sake of simple selfhood.

 

Addendum of Make-Believe Promises to Repay:   "When a government has a great deal of debt relative to the size of its economy, its credit rating may also be lower. Three of the nations potentially at risk of default had among the world's highest debt levels, at 120% of GDP or more based on 2014 estimates. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Greece's debt is projected to hit nearly 175% of GDP by the end of this year, more than that of any other nation in the world except for Japan." In "Not just Argentina: 11 countries near bankruptcy," by Alexander E.M. Hess and Alexander Kent, USA Today, 1 August 2014.

 

Addendum of Bankruptcy via Corporate Fraud:    "Parmalat at last filed for bankruptcy protection on December 24, in what became known as the biggest corporate fraud in Europe’s history. Nobody knows with certainty whether missing funds were used to plug operating losses, pay creditors, or illegally enhance the financial situation of its management. Tanzi confessed to embezzling about €470m to deal with losses in other family-owned corporations and admitted that he was aware that accounts were being falsified. These frauds were committed, he said, to conceal losses of around $10bn largely in Parmalat’s subsidiaries based in Latin America. Meanwhile, bogus balance sheet figures allowed Parmalat to continue borrowing." In "Europe’s biggest bankruptcy remembered," European CEO, 23 March 2012.

 

Addendum of After the Fact in Iceland:   "Iceland is drawing up plans to tax foreigners who buy its bonds or to remove certain interest privileges to keep from being overwhelmed by a flood of money drawn by the highest interest rates in western Europe. The country is about to start the tricky process of removing the capital controls that have been in place since what the central bank governor, Mar Gudmundsson, calls 'the third biggest bankruptcy in the history of mankind'." In "Iceland central bank preparing new weapons to fight capital rush," by Marc Jones, Reuters, 1 February 2016.

 

Addendum of Just a Few American Bankruptcies:   Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy, 15 September 2008, assets: $691 billion; Washington Mutual Bankruptcy, 26 September 2008, assets: $327.9 billion; WorldCom Bankruptcy, 21 July 2002, assets: $103.9 billion; General Motors Bankruptcy, 1 June 2009, assets: $91 billion; CIT Bankruptcy, 1 November 2009, assets: $71 billion; Enron Bankruptcy, 2 December 2001; assets: $65.5 billion; Conseco Bankruptcy, 17 December 2002, assets: $61 billion; Chrysler LLC Bankruptcy, 30 April 2009, assets: $39 billion; Thornburg Mortgage Bankruptcy, 1 May 2009, assets: $36.5 billion; Texaco Bankruptcy, 12 April 1987, assets: $34.9 billion; Financial Corp. of America Bankruptcy, 9 September 1988, assets: $33.8 billion; Refco Bankruptcy, 17 October 2005, assets: $33.3 billion; IndyMac Bancorp, Inc. Bankruptcy, 31 July 2008, assets: $32.7 billion; Global Crossing, Ltd. Bankruptcy, 28 January 2002, assets: $30.1 billion; Bank of New England Corp. Bankruptcy, 7 January 1991, assets: $29.7 billion; General Growth Properties, Inc. Bankruptcy, 16 April 2009, assets: $29.5 billion; Lyondell Chemical Company Bankruptcy, 6 January 2009, assets: $29.3 billion; Calpine Corporation Bankruptcy, 20 December 2005, assets: $27.2 billion; New Century Financial Corporation Bankruptcy, 2 April 2007, assets: $26.1 billion; UAL Corporation Bankruptcy, 9 December 2002, assets: $25.1 billion; Delta Air Lines Bankruptcy, 14 September 2005, assets: $21.8 billion.

 


 

Could and May - an up-to-date play

"A modal verb (also modal, modal auxiliary verb, modal auxiliary) is a type of auxiliary verb that is used to indicate modality – that is, likelihood, ability, permission, and obligation." From Wikipedia article.  [ 1 ]

 

Could and May
Met Might one day
And thought:
Let's guess together.

Hmm, said May,
We could then say
What ought
To be done with the weather.

Yes, said Could,
We might be right.
If not,
It's all about whether.

Wow, said Might,
We could! We should,
Distraught
As birds of a feather!

Could and May
And Might today
Have taught
Us panic together.

Might and Could
With May
Withstood
An opposing whatever.

The trio sure,
Though insecure,
Raged fraught
As true bellwether.

 

Could and May

And Might, we say,

Are bought,

Alarms tied with tether.

 

Envoi:    "...and could destroy the entire global support system." In an announcement for the Club of Rome's "Book launch and cocktail, European Parliament, Brussels," 5 December 2012, and "Economy is Curable but Ecology May Not Be," and article by Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, in ""Overcoming the Crisis," for a Club of Rome organized event on 15 April 2009, "Global Warming Might Threaten Water Supply," an article for Voice of America, by Rosanne Skirble, 11 November 2012

 

Addendum of Could Be:    "The development of an advanced statistical, rather than phenomenological, theory of the global population system could be the next step in working out the theory of growth of mankind." In "Global Population Blow-up and After," Report to the Club of Rome, by Sergey P. Kapitza, Global Marshall Plan Initiative, Hamburg, 2006   [ 2 ]

 

Addendum of Susceptibility to Illusions and Fallacies: "The history of human folly, and our own susceptibility to illusions and fallacies, tell us that men and women are fallible." Steven Pinker, in "The Better Angels of Our Nature" (2011)

 

Addendum of Could and May I:    "Could it be? Yes, it could." from "Something's Coming," lyrics by Stephen Sondheim in "West Side Story" (1956), and "You may be right / I may be crazy / But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for" in "You May Be Right," by Billy Joel, in the album "Glass Houses," (1980)   [ 3 ]    [ 4 ]

 

Addendum of Could and May II:   "Robert Redford told the United Nations on Monday that negotiations on a global deal to tackle climate change could be the world's "last chance" to save the planet. 'This December, the world must unite behind a common goal," said the American actor and producer. Because look, this is it. This is our only planet, our only life source. This may be our last chance'." In "Robert Redford sees 'last chance' to fix climate," Agence France Presse, 29 June 2015.   [ 5 ]

 

Addendum of May be Hot:   " 'We don't even know how far we've gone, or if we've gone over the edge,' Brown said at a climate summit at the Vatican. 'There are tipping points, feedback loops, this is not some linear set of problems that we can predict. We have to take measures against an uncertain future which may well be something no one ever wants'." In "Jerry Brown’s climate warning: 'We are talking about extinction'," by David Siders, Sacramento Bee, 21 July 2015.    [ 6 ]

 

Addendum of Might be Cold:    "Some 15 or so years from now, the 'polar vortex' might not sound so bad. European scientists warn of conditions that, by 2030, could lead to a decade of winters with freezing temperatures — a 'mini ice age' the likes of which hasn’t been seen in 370 years."  In "Global freezing: A 'mini ice age' could be on the way by 2030, scientists say," by Shawn Langlois, Market Watch, 15 July 2015.   

 

Addendum of Could Be Wet:   "Florida has more private property at risk from flooding linked to climate change than any other state, an amount that could double in the next four decades, according to a new report by the Risky Business Project. By 2030, $69 billion in coastal property in Florida could flood at high tide that is not at risk today, the report found." In "Florida leads nation in property at risk from climate change," by Jenny Staletovich, Miami Herald, 27 July 2015.     [ 7 ]

 

Addendum of Life Could Come to an End:   "It's an idea that most of us would rather not face -- that within the next century, life as we know it could come to an end. Our civilization could crumble, leaving only traces of modern human existence behind. It seems outlandish, extreme -- even impossible. But according to cutting edge scientific research, it is a very real possibility. And unless we make drastic changes now, it could very well happen." In "'Earth 2100': the Final Century of Civilization?" by Alexa Danner, ABC News, 29 May 2009.   [ 8 ]

 

Addendum of Life Going on but in Poverty:     "Climate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 by disrupting agriculture and fueling the spread of malaria and other diseases, the World Bank said in a report Sunday." In "World Bank: Climate change could result in 100 million poor," by Karl Ritter, Associated Press, 8 November 2015.   [ 9 ]

 

See:    The Scourge of the Planet    and  Scare Tactics 

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]    "PROPHECY, n. The art and practice of selling one's credibility for future delivery." From Ambrose Bierce's "The Devil's Dictionary" (1911).

 

[ 2 ]    "Among all forms of mistake, prophecy is the most gratuitous." George Eliot, "Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life" (1874).

 

[ 3 ]     "It could be that all existence is a pointless joke....” Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir (2010).

 

[ 4 ]     "Because I could not stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson. See:  Because I could not stop for death - (1990) 

 

[ 5 ]     The last chance. Hmm. Where has the world heard this before? See:  Apocalypse sometime .  Consider also the seeming self-loathing by which the actors in the current drama manage to eke out a small living for themselves, while crying aloud that the world is ending, and that we humans are The Scourge of the Planet  .

 

[ 6 ]    Let us enjoy a politician beginning a sentence with "We don't even know...."  Given the various theories, disagreements, estimates of enormous costs and more, it is glaringly obvious that It's too hot, and it's too cold  - a cabaret song in the Russian style.

            It could be. It may be. It might be. Conditionally, of course. What is not in doubt and requires no modal verb to report is that Governor Brown enjoyed his trip to the Vatican on a private plane, in the company of a billionaire donor, in order to predict that extinction might be coming. See: Free Money .

 

[ 7 ]     Could be. Wiggle words of the modal sort allow the "could" to wiggle free if history proves them inaccurate. One notes that the "could" is forecasted out into a distant enough future as to prevent measuring the actual facts.  "By mid-century, the number of 95-degree days could reach 76, or more than two and a half straight months of scorching, AC-busting days."

          One also notes that the Risky Business Project is headed by billionaires and political personages. Their claim of "mid-century" allows a thirty-five year window to wiggle. "Could," after all, is not "will." It is a statement of "maybe." Given that all business entails risk, the title of the entity, Risk Business Project, tells little, as do most slogans and catchall phrases so dear to the hearts of those who would sway a public to a cause.

          Consider how such words and simple phrases manage to stir the pot .  Please note, that it is not asserted than such words and simple phrases "might" or "may" or "could" manage to stir the pot. They are intended to do so, and they do.

          Consider how cyclic is the long history of climate change, pictured in Globaloney - sung to the children's tune, "Baa, baa black sheep."

          As the Risky Business Project suggests that some decisions are "risky," consider the proven risks turned into proven losses as seen in the citations which support the image of politics which ends being Bankrupt green .  No "maybe," "could," "might" or "may" is found at the end of such narratives.

          Consider our political betters, the upper crust, the political folk, the academic and media who so often employ "could." After having made so many proven errors, modal verbs assure wiggle room for today and the The Privileges of Intellectuals .

          Could it be so many have been wrong? Might it be so?

 

[ 8 ]  As an instructive example of how often "could" appears in the news, one "could" search in one's browser for how many instances of "could" and "might" are found in only those news excerpts found on this web page alone. Moving from one to the next is a simple and interesting game. "Could" one speculate that much in the news "could" be speculation? It "might" be a surprise. It "may" illustrate the point all too clearly.

          So much news writing is predicting, rather than reporting. As a result, could and may and might fill speculative writing, predicting the future into decades and even a century into the future. For this, some research into previous centuries' predictions would -- not could -- be instructive to all who so easily grasp at wiggly could and squiggly may and giggly might.

 

[ 9 ]     "The sky is falling," said Chicken Little (2007) .

 


 

Democracy is radical

"You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police ... yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts: words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home -- all the more powerful because forbidden -- terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic." Winston Churchill, Blood, in his speech, "Sweat and Tears," 13 May 1940

 

Democracy is radical
When radically restrained
With deference to dissidents
To its form well appertained.

Democracy is radical
When its fist is seldom formed,
When radically weak enough
And by liberty well informed.

Democracy is radical
When majorities are meek,
And cannot rule radically
As majorities often seek.

Democracy is radical
When power is diffuse,
And radically is it difficult
To turn it to abuse.

Democracy is radical
When democrats demure,
Eschewing radicals' fancies
And remaining amateur.

Democracy is radical
Until its slip restraints,
And morphs to radical dictatorship,
One of history's complaints.

Radical is the strangest word,
With meanings quite opposed,
Each opposite another, as
Sometimes liberty's bulldozed.

Democracy is radical
When radical it's not,
With government humble, limited,
And not a juggernaut.

 

Envoi:   "Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." Paulo Freire (1921-1997)

 

Addendum:   "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine." Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)   [ 1 ]

 

Addendum:   "'Bread and Circuses' is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome." Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)   [ 2 ]

 

Addendum of a Democrat:   "As for me, I am deeply a democrat; this is why I am in no way a socialist. Democracy and socialism cannot go together. You can't have it both ways." Alexis de Tocqueville, "Notes for a Speech on Socialism" (1848).    [ 3 ]

 

Addendum:   "In politics as in religion, my tenets are few and simple. The leading one of which, and indeed that which embraces most others, is to be honest and just ourselves and to exact it from others, meddling as little as possible in their affairs where our own are not involved. If this maxim was generally adopted, wars would cease and our swords would soon be converted into reap hooks and our harvests be more peaceful, abundant, and happy." George Washington (1732-1799)

 

Addendum:   "In today's Western society, the inequality has been revealed of freedom for good deeds and freedom for evil deeds. A statesman who wants to achieve something important and highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly; there are thousands of hasty and irresponsible critics around him, parliament and the press keep rebuffing him. As he moves ahead, he has to prove that every single step of his is well-founded and absolutely flawless. Actually an outstanding and particularly gifted person who has unusual and unexpected initiatives in mind hardly gets a chance to assert himself; from the very beginning, dozens of traps will be set out for him. Thus mediocrity triumphs with the excuse of restrictions imposed by democracy." In "A World Split Apart," an address given at Harvard Class Day Afternoon Exercises by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 8 June 1978.     [ 4 ]

 

 Addendum of Radical Arrests:    "...the board was definitely in violation of the Open Meetings Act by not allowing the public to speak. 'It’s not that they should have. They’re mandated to,' Parsley said. 'The people need to have their voice. It’s not a dictatorship. It’s a democracy.' The sheriff arrested six of the board members. The seventh board member was not arrested because he voted against the other members. As they were escorted out of the building, the crowd cheered." In "Entire county board arrested following citizens arrest by 2 military veterans," Ocala Post, 26 December 2014.

 

See:   Democracy is stupid   and   Almost democracy    and also  Dissent 

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]    "Democracy. The theory that two thieves will steal less than one, and three less than two, and four less than three, and so on 'ad infinitum'; the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." In "The Jazz Webster," a section in "A Book of Burlesques," H. L. Mencken, 1916.

           Such as Mencken's humor is mirrored in writer's of an earlier age. Consider this:  "Society is made up of two great classes: those who have more dinners than appetite, and those who have more appetite than dinners." Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794).

 

 There is Only One Fight -- For Freedom

 

           One compares this:  "If the ideals Alinsky espouses were actualized, the result would be social revolution. Ironically, this is not a disjunctive projection if considered in the tradition of Western democratic theory. In the first chapter it was pointed out that Alinsky is regarded by many as the proponent of a dangerous socio/political philosophy. As such, he has been feared -- just as Eugene Debs or Walt Whitman or Martin Luther King has been feared, because each embraced the most radical of political faiths -- democracy." In "There Is Only the Fight..." by Hillary D. Rodham, 1969 thesis in partial fulfillment of a BA, Wellesley College, p. 74. This fawning over some "chic" social revolution is all the more ironic given that Rodham wrote these words as a college student who then became a wealthy politico preaching For Your Common Good - in the fat cat neighborhood, all the while amassing a fortune from her "public service." If there is only "the Fight," it seems one ex-Senator and ex-Secretary of State has proven that fight is for personal wealth.  For this one may return to reflect on Mencken's imagery of thieves and Chamfort's imagery of appetite.

 

[ 2 ]     "Any institution which does not suppose the people good, and the magistrate corruptible, is evil." Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794)  The obvious solution is therefore to consistently suspect a "magistrate" of being corruptible, and even evil. Of course this upsets the magistrate. Especially when corrupt.

 

[ 3 ]      Today's "democratic socialist" borrows a word and attaches it to socialism, as if 51 percent of a vote creates the mandate for a dictatorship of some kind. 

 

 Vive la difference

 

           De Tocqueville foresaw this, noting:  "Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."

           The original:  "La démocratie étend la sphère de l'indépendance individuelle, le socialisme la resserre. La démocratie donne toute sa valeur possible à chaque homme, le socialisme fait de chaque homme un agent, un instrument, un chiffre. La démocratie et le socialisme ne se tiennent que par un mot, l'égalité ; mais remarquez la différence : la démocratie veut l'égalité dans la liberté, et le socialisme veut l'égalité dans la gêne et dans la servitude."  in "Discours prononcé à l'assemblée constituante le 12 Septembre 1848 sur la question du droit au travail", Oeuvres complètes, vol. IX, p. 546.

           Therefore the so-called tyranny of the majority is to be tempered, even in democracy, by minority protections.

           This is instructive, for it turns out in the real practice of socialism, an elite forms, acquires and aggrandizes wealth and power and then moves to "restraint and servitude."

           See Socialists love money to consider socialism's view on capital, and see So shall ism to consider the notion of "restraint and servitude."

           The need to subvert democracy as procedure and expressions of other than approved political goals has been seen by intellectuals.

 

 The Conquest of the State

 

           One reads:  "The creation of the proletarian state is not, in short, the act of a miracle worker: It too is a making, it is a process of development. It presupposes preparatory work of organization and propaganda. It is necessary to give greater powers to the already existing proletarian factory institutions, make similar institutions develop in the villages, make certain that the men who form them are communists conscious of the revolutionary mission that the institution must adopt. Otherwise all our enthusiasm, all the faith of the working masses will not succeed in stopping the revolution taking place miserably in a new parliament of con artists, windbags and chancers, making new and more daring sacrifices necessary for the advent of the proletarian state." In "The conquest of the state," Antonio Gramsci, trans. by Michael Carney, L'Ordine Nuovo, 12 July 1919.

           Indeed and often, "the advent of the proletarian state" accomplished by the "conquest of the [ non-proletarian ] state" has been subverted. One reads clearly of generations of communists and socialists returning to the Old-fashioned schemes of "con artists, windbags and chancers." But then, such is the nature of any Totalitarian .

           I suspect Gramsci too would have been such a totalitarian, for his willingness to "make certain that the men who form them are communists conscious of the revolutionary mission that the institution must adopt." Indeed, re-reading him, such terms as con artist and windbag come to mind, obscured by the myth which lies like a blanket over some several failed ideas served up as if fresh.

 

[ 4 ]     "The citizens are busy with their daily lives and cannot be expected to keep up with the intricacies of all public issues, so power must be delegated to a political class, which will tend to become corrupt. The more the government does, the greater the loot to be gained by the corruption, and thus the greater the temptation to undertake even more so as to increase the haul. Collective-action problems are endemic: As a group we want honest and neutral government, but as individuals we want that for everyone else while we ourselves get special treatment, so the temptation to undermine democratic virtue is constant." In "Detroit and the Special-Interest State," by James V. DeLong, RealClearPolicy, 5 August 2013.

           For more on this truth, consider:  Voted   - not sugarcoated.

 


 

Lit from within

for my friend, Julie

 

Lit from within is what we are,
Burning like some distant star,
With fires and fuels not all our own,
Each stardust along millennia thrown.
Lit from within, as from without,
Erupts with each most singular shout
Of next, and more, and imagine that,
Each creativity's agile acrobat.
For your lighting of my within
You must imagine my brightened grin,
For what you've lit with colored fires
Adds to beauty's widening gyres.

 

Envoi:    "You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star." Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

 


 

Ain't it a pisser? - right in the kisser

"The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act." Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

 

Ain't art sometimes a pisser,
-----you champ of ceramic art?
There was a time that fountain
-----might have echoed with a fart.
Ready, made, then gaga go!
-----Now all's said to be worth
-----a hell of a lot of dough.

Comb through all the choice little traps
-----in a game of hidden noise,
Some lost or broken, some just replaced,
-----fixed by replacement boys
As an assist in all that ready made
-----now in highfalutin joints
-----which display it to their accolade. 

Ready, made, assisted,
-----rectified to be correct,
Reciprocal types or hung on wire
-----such junk as one would resurrect,
And conned old sewers swoon to say
-----what wonders on display!
-----Or so it seems, anyway.

The irony to modern art
-----is that it ever too grows old,
Sclerotic, even orthodox,
-----when young it was once so bold.

That air in broken ampoules curved,
-----by cycles axled on stools, once
-----new is now so well preserved.

Solemn explicators' words
-----pair a graph their day in court,
In heady adulation
-----where bright do thoughts contort
Into brilliance and éclat profound
-----which cries with glee:
-----look at what I've just found!

Modern posts to postmodern art
-----in exhaustion, seeking new
Avant garde precursors
-----of which one finds a slew.

To break in newest shards,
-----they carry forth tradition.
-----Beware braking savant guards!

Ain't art sometimes a pisser?
-----It's in all the highbrow books.
There was a time that fountain
-----might have gotten yellowed looks.
Ready, made and gaga go!
-----What will you contribute to the act?
-----Just likely more of the status quo.

 

Envoi:    "Wake up. The avant-garde is dead. It’s been marketed." Will Self (b. 1961)

 

Addendum:    "...because every avant-garde is the negation of a previous avant-garde", attributed to Umberto Eco, "Form as Social Commitment", p.142

 

See:    anythingis  - that new old refrain, and also  Modern Art 

 


 

Speak truth to power

"Just as the burden of war itself must now be borne by every citizen as well as by every soldier, so the preparation for war must necessarily be the responsibility of the whole nation." In "Speak Truth to Power," published by AFSC, a Quaker organization, published in 1955.

 

Would you speak truth to power?
Or would you really rather not?
When power changes parties,
Speaking truth's put on the spot.

Mostly truth's finessed and spun,
Nuanced and cosmeticized,
Because party folks all play that game
Where some truth's anaesthetized.

Where have all those flowers gone,
Indeed, long time still passing?
It seems we'll never learn,
As power goes on amassing.

Many folks who'd speak truth to power
When an opposition takes the reins,
Blankly, mutely, submissively smile
When their side wins in its campaigns.

For this, power takes all unto itself
While parties preen and pose,
For power does as power does
And truth to power speakers dose.

 

Envoi:    "If tyranny and oppression come to this land it will be in the guise of  fighting a foreign enemy." James Madison (1751-1836)

   

See:    A Modern Observation on The Anti-War Movement  - "Where have all the critics gone, long time passing?"

 


 

Revolution revolves but once - lèse majesté remains among its stunts

A revolution is promised, so say

One cries out with loudest cheer,

But when the power yields to them

For revolving which continues on

The point was, is and ever will be

To topple in order to concretize

 

Revolution is a funny term,

And see the clarity of revolutions' squall

One party dominates -- that's the rule,

Revolution is a lie in this,

Revolution spins around but once,

When revolutions stop so short,

 

...revolutions, which revolve then cease,

Its propaganda cannot be more clear:

One party's candidates' slate

The faux, fake revolutionary zeal

And bow before one party's fists

Or similar social common good

 

Revolutions with their wordy fire

But after power is assumed

Winner takes all, coercive, hard,

To one revolution, never more,

Those who against tyranny rage

Where tyrants opposition quell

 

Revolutions are often a family thing,

Revolving which revolves yet more,

For this the old upper crust,

Yields to a new royalty,

A revolution is promised, say

One cries out with required cheer,

the histories of each yesterday.

see, comrades, the revolution's here.

revolutions cease as stratagem,

makes revolutionaries woebegone.

that revolutions spin one single spree

new power, not to revolutionize.

 

a word which should well make one squirm

which broaches no further turning at all.

its enforcers acting, harsh and cruel.

for it is merely newest power's kiss.

for it believes everyman's a dunce.

one sees revolutionaries abort...

 

as the revolutionaries' masterpiece,

democracy's pretense elects in drear

which is an act to perpetrate

by which opposition is made to kneel,

like history's bloody Bolshevists,

which passionately thunders true falsehood.

 

burn with passion in one lone gyre,

the revolving stops, and is never resumed.

as the revolution must quick retard

for a next might well then settle the score.

seem to follow on the very same stage

as so many histories truthfully tell.

 

lingering long, while abandoning

but rather stops at a new tyrant's door.

Toppled as it was unjust,

Demanding uncritical loyalty.

the histories of tomorrow's yesterday.

see, you fools, revolution's here.

 

   See:    Crush the bourgeoisie    and also  Death in peacetime 

 

Envoi:    "Revolution - In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment." Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary and
Other Works, 1911.

 

Addendum of the Revolutionary Council:    "Iraqi officials say President Saddam Hussein has won 100% backing in a referendum on whether he should rule for another seven years. There were 11,445,638 eligible voters - and every one of them voted for the president, according to Izzat Ibrahim, Vice-Chairman of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council. The government insists the count was fair and accurate. Saddam Hussein - who has ruled Iraq since 1979 - was the only candidate." In "Saddam 'wins 100% of vote'" BBC News, 16 October 2002.

 

 Addendum of an Egyptian Revolution:   "'We're so tense and on edge all the time. There's a general sense of depression and disappointment,' Manal says. When I ask her if she regrets the revolution, her answer comes without hesitation: 'One hundred per cent, I regret it. What is freedom and democracy? It's about making life better,' she says, 'traffic better, jobs better and more things available. That hasn't happened. Nothing has happened. Everything's changed for the worse'." In "Egypt's youth: 'What has the revolution done for us?'," BBC News, 28 May 2013.  [ 2 ]

 

See:    Islamophobia 

 

Addendum of a Rubber Stamp:  "Kim Jong Il was unanimously re-elected to North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament, state  media said Monday, in elections closely watched for signs of a political shift or hints the  autocratic leader is grooming a successor. Turnout Sunday was 99.98 percent, with all voters  backing the sole candidate running in their constituency, the official Korean Central News  Agency reported." In "Kim wins re-election with 99.9% of the vote," New York Times, 9 March 2009  

 

See:    Responsibility 

 

Addendum of the Ossified:   "Government critics call Cuban elections perfunctory, noting that only the Communist Party is permitted  [ 1 ]  on the island and only one approved candidate is on the ballot for each seat in  parliament. Castro and his older brother Fidel, now retired, have headed up the government for five decades." In "Former Cuba leader Fidel Castro makes rare appearance to cast vote in  elections branded 'closed' and 'perfunctory'" by Anna Edwards, Daily Mail UK, 4 February 2013  

 

See:    Socialism's Last Hurrah  - not democracy in any town   [ 3 ]

 

Addendum for the Counter-Revolutionary:   "The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos." H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)

 

Addendum in the color of Orange:   "The current Ukrainian revolution is a revolution of dignity and values. The Ukrainian people are tired of living in a lawless, corrupt society under an oppressive regime that pretends to be democratic. Today they have had enough: they want change and they are showing that they are willing to die for their beliefs. Ukrainians who went to the streets to defend their rights and freedoms did not come to fight. Standing peacefully on the frozen Miydan for two months, they hoped that their government would hear them. It did not happen, and they revolted against their entire political system, which is based on mis-governance, rent-seeking and corruption." In "Ukraine's government will not listen, so time to take action is now," by Myroslava Gongadze, KyivPost, 25 January 2014.   [ 4 ]

 

Addendum of Latter-Day American Revolutionary Thought:   "We must realize that today's Establishment is the New George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution." William O. Douglas, in "Points of Rebellion" (1969).

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]     "We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power." George Orwell, in "1984" (1949).

 

[ 2 ]     An example of a "continuing" revolution is found, to the despair of the democratically-elected "tyrant."  "At his inauguration on Thursday, Mansour, who was appointed as head of the constitutional court on Sunday, said this week's protests had 'corrected the path of the glorious revolution that took place on 25 January 2011', and that continued revolution was needed until 'we stop producing tyrants'." In "Egypt prepares for backlash as Morsi allies reject new regime," by Martin Chulov and Patrick Kingsley, Guardian UK, 4 July 2013.  Of course, this perspective all depends on what one means by words -- democracy, tyranny and revolution. Certainly for the democratically-elected tyrant, such a revolutionary "correction" is a "coup" even if a large portion of the population cheers on the correction. Given the "democratic" news as found in the New York Times cited above that North Korea's "tyrant" "wins re-election wins 99.9% of the vote," one learns that words mean much -- and nothing, depending on who wields them.

 

[ 3 ]    A young Fidel Castro stated, "A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past." As of this year he is 86 years old, and struggles to keep the past sixty years of "revolution" from revolving beyond his party' singular control. It seems by the clarity of language as he once used it, the Castro brothers are now struggling to hold onto the past, and therefore are properly and correctly indentified as entrenched totalitarians, for they will tolerate no revolution to today. Such is the nature of power and of revolution.

          As the crumbling of the Cuban non-revolving revolution which defines any opposition to is as "counterrevolution" proceeds in time, one might well contemplate: "Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides: / Who cover faults, at last shame them derides." Shakespeare, in King Lear: Act 1, Scene 1.

         From the Manifesto of the Communist Party of 1848, to the slow-motion withering of the Frankfurt School, to the economic collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to the national insolvency of many governments around the world burdened with almost un-payable debt, one watches the sands of time and the "struggle between the future and the past," in which now Marx, Lenin and now the Castro brothers are most assuredly part of "the past." A future is a revolution, so Castro observed, and his party cannot long hold, any more than did the Soviets. As Orwell notes above and as Marx foresaw, the revolution was always intended to "establish the dictatorship," complete with single-party dominance and the crushing of political dissent. Liberty is the true counterrevolutionary.

 

[ 4 ]     The term, "rent-seeking," is relatively new in economic parlance, but informative.  An elite extracts its rent via  various forms of coercion, adding no additional value to society in general. This is among the complaints in the ongoing revolution in the Ukraine.

          Rent-seeking benefits the few at the expense of the many, and among such behaviors are political dictatorships and tyrannies, even when disguised as arrived at by democratic procedures. As with the former Baath Party's "democratic" elections in Iraq, the sham elections in Castro's Cuba, the one-party states in China and North Korea, rent-seeking serves the "revolutionary" elite which arrives into leadership and then guards against a further revolution which might topple them from power.

 

 The Profitability for the Few of Creating No Value

 

          The term is defined:   "Classic examples of rent-seeking, a phrase coined by an economist, Gordon Tullock, include: a protection racket, in which the gang takes a cut from the shopkeeper's profit; a cartel of firms agreeing to raise prices; a union demanding higher wages without offering any increase in productivity; lobbying the government for tax, spending or regulatory policies that benefit the lobbyists at the expense of taxpayers or consumers or some other rivals. Whether legal or illegal, as they do not create any value, rent-seeking activities can impose large costs on an economy." Definition in "Economics A-Z terms beginning with R," The Economist, 2014.

          An example clarifies:   "Indeed, a 2011 paper by Patrick Bolton, Tano Santos, and José Scheinkman argues that a significant amount of speculation and deal-making is pure rent-seeking. In other words, it is wasteful activity that achieves nothing more than enabling the collection of rents on items that might otherwise be free. The classic example of rent-seeking is that of a feudal lord who installs a chain across a river that flows through his land and then hires a collector to charge passing boats a fee (or rent of the section of the river for a few minutes) to lower the chain. There is nothing productive about the chain or the collector. The lord has made no improvements to the river and is helping nobody in any way, directly or indirectly, except himself. All he is doing is finding a way to make money from something that used to be free. If enough lords along the river follow suit, its use may be severely curtailed." In "The Best, Brightest, and Least Productive?" by Robert J. Shiller, Project Syndicate, 20 September 2013.

          The creation of carbon credit markets may be seen as such a way "to make money from something that used to be free." See the footnoted documentation to a failed carbon credit market as an example of this:  Green Job  .

          Other documentation furthers the explanation of this phenomenon:   "In public choice theory, rent-seeking is spending wealth on political lobbying to increase one's share of existing wealth without creating wealth. The effects of rent-seeking are reduced economic efficiency through poor allocation of resources, reduced wealth creation, lost government revenue, national decline, and income inequality. Current studies of rent-seeking focus on the manipulation of regulatory agencies to gain monopolistic advantages in the market while imposing disadvantages on competitors. The term itself derives, however, from the far older practice of gaining a portion of production through ownership or control of land." Wikipedia, "Rent-seeking."

          Therefore Gongadze's complaint against the embattled Ukrainian regime is apt as a new revolution ensues in which "they revolted against their entire political system, which is based on mis-governance, rent-seeking and corruption."

          Thus the rhyme tells an ironic truth about most revolutionaries who aggrandize power and then rage against further revolution, as demonstrated now in Kiev, but many times over in the last centuries:  "...revolutions, which revolve then cease, / as the revolutionaries' masterpiece."

 


 

The turkeys vote for Christmas

"...plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose." Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in Les Guêpes, January 1849.

 

The turkeys vote for Christmas,
And the pigs for bacon and eggs.
The salmon cheer for a spread of lox
And the frogs for their provençale legs.
Waving wheat mills to flour,
As bouquets cut withered to die.
The deadly harvest for all things
Is reality's piece of your pie.

The wizards of smart are stupid;
The sellers of wind blow hard.
Dare not to cross them, fellows,
Or suffer their every canard.
The planet, look, it's dying
Yet living better than most,
And most of the public panic
Is a withering, blithering joke.

Things go on, and things all pass.
And people with them too.
Such is life divorced from lies.
That's right. For me, For you.
Realities are what they are,
And nothing changes much.
From vital, healthy youth we go
To hobbling with our crutch.

I'll vote for no more slicing
And dicing of honest work.
I'll cheer no more for lazy bones
Who'd rather most not shirk
That they may feed quite well on that
That's voluntarily given.
Such predatory weakness
Is for what the idle have striven.

Outrage is the latest bunk
So many glib folks have to sell.
Upset is the latest thing
In the floods of show-and-tell.
All is horrid! We must act,
Cry those who'd palm an ace.
Save the this and save the that,
That you may earn their grace.

The pig who votes for bacon and eggs
Must contribute something grim.
Those frogs who'd offer up their legs
Are all bulbs grown dark from dim.
Lemmings have their cookbook,
In which many look to serve
The lemmings in a lemming stew,
Lemmings might so well observe.

Turkeys vote for Christmases,
Never envisioning their slaughter.
Stand too near to storming seas?
Be drowned in their raging water.
Waving wheat withers in each drought,
As trends and fashions die.
The deadly harvest of fools so wise
Drones a dark dirge as its lullaby.

 

Envoi:   “Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.” Jean-François Revel (1924-2006)

 


 

Degrees on the wall

"I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years." Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)   [ 1 ]

 

Degrees on the wall
But no commonsense,
Paid for with loans
That have grown immense,
Groan with new lessons
In the college of hard knocks
Which says some degrees
Are just laughingstocks
In a world where such
Degrees on the wall
Guarantee none a win.
Now so many graduates
Learn the state they're in.

 

 Envoi:  “College isn't the place to go for ideas.” Helen Keller (1880-1968)

 

Addendum of the Mirage:   " 'The economic situation (of young adults) is completely parallel and analogous to the (Depression-era) GI generation — raised in relative affluence, and then just as they are to start in that affluent world, it all comes crashing down,' says Morley Winograd, who has co-authored several books on Millennials, the generation born from 1982 to 2003. 'And so they have to find new ways to persevere. They just have assumed that everything that came before them was a mirage — that it was false, built on unsafe foundations.'" In "Grim job prospects could scar today's college graduates," by Chuck Raasch, USA Today, 19 June 2012

 

Addendum of Reality:   "'Student-loan programs and federal assistance programs are based on some sort of implicit assumption that we're training people for the jobs of the future,' Mr. Vedder, director of the center and a professor emeritus at Ohio University, said in an interview. 'In reality, a lot of them are not.'" In "Millions of Graduates Hold Jobs That Don't Require a College Degree, Report Says," by Allie Bidwell, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 28 January 2013    [ 2 ]

 

Addendum of Decline:  "It’s a parent’s nightmare: shelling out big money for college, then seeing the graduate unable to land a job that requires high-level skills. This situation may be growing more common, unfortunately, because the demand for cognitive skills associated with higher education, after rising sharply until 2000, has since been in decline." In "Why Are So Many College Graduates Driving Taxis?" by Peter Orszag, Bloomberg, 26 June 2013.   [ 3 ]

 

Addendum of Pedagogy:    "Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world." Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968)

 

Addendum of Graduates Living with their Parents:   "Overall, about three-fourths of college graduates reported having at least one full-time job since graduation. The median salary earned by these graduates was $28,000, with differences between groups.... The debt that they owe to pay off their college education has affected the decisions these graduates make about their lifestyle. More than a quarter chose to live with their parents because of the debt that they owe. Likewise, about a quarter took a job they were not enthusiastic about so they could pay down their loans and put off furthering their education. In addition, many — over half — received financial help from their parents, often for basic needs such as food (22%) and housing (30%). In addition to having debt, graduates were also uncertain about their preparation. Half of the sample reported that they felt less prepared to enter the workforce than the generation before them, and almost two thirds felt they will need to get more education. Those who did an internship while in college felt more prepared to enter the workforce." In "Chasing the American Dream: Recent College Graduates and the Great Recession," by Charley Stone, M. P. P., Carl Van Horn, Ph.D. and Cliff Zukin, Ph.D., John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, May 2012.

 

 The comedic touch:   "Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.” Terry Pratchett, in "Hogfather" (1996)

 

Addendum of Degree Inflation:   "Welcome to the world of degree inflation. A new report finds that employers are increasingly requiring a bachelor’s degree for positions that didn’t used to require baccalaureate education. A college degree, in other words, is becoming the new high school diploma: the minimum credential required to get even the most basic, entry-level job." In "The college degree has become the new high school degree," by Catherine Rampell, Washington Post, 9 September 2014.   [ 4 ]

 

Addendum of a Market Glut:   "There are currently 6.5 million more students in the U.S. with bachelor's degrees than there are jobs available that require such degrees, including jobs expected to be created by 2022, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)...." In "6.5M More Students With Bachelor's Degrees Than Jobs Available As Obama Expands Program To Bring More Foreign Workers," by Taylor Tyler, Headlines & Global News, 17 October 2015.

 

 Addendum of the Real Numbers:   "Developed western economies such as the UK and the US are not brimming with jobs that require degree-level qualifications. For every job as a skilled computer programmer, there are three jobs flipping burgers. The fastest-growing jobs are low-skilled repetitive ones in the service sector. One-third of the US labour market is made up of three types of work: office and administrative support, sales and food preparation. The majority of jobs being created today do not require degree-level qualifications. In the US in 2010, 20% of jobs required a bachelor’s degree, 43% required a high-school education, and 26% did not even require that. Meanwhile, 40% of young people study for degrees. This means over half the people gaining degrees today will find themselves working in jobs that don’t require one." In "The knowledge economy is a myth. We don’t need more universities to feed it," by Andre Spicer, Guardian UK, 18 May 2016.

 

 See:    Doctor Oppression comes to call 

 

NOTES

 

[ 1 ]     "A public library is the most democratic thing in the world. What can be found there has undone dictators and tyrants: demagogues can persecute writers and tell them what to write as much as they like, but they cannot vanish what has been written in the past, though they try often enough...People who love literature have at least part of their minds immune from indoctrination. If you read, you can learn to think for yourself." Doris Lessing (b. 1919) 

             She also stated:  "With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one - but no one at all - can tell you what to read and when and how."

 

[ 2 ]      "Student loan debt is reaching bubble-bursting levels. By comparison, in October 2007, the start of the subprime mortgage crisis, 16% of subprime mortgages were 90 days delinquent, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. By January 2008 it accelerated to 21%. If the economy heads off the fast-approaching fiscal cliff and tax rates spike for lower- and middle-class Americans, it may accelerate student loan defaults to crisis levels." In "The looming crisis of student loan debt," by William J. Bennett, CNN Contributor, 6 December 2012.

 

 Paying Many Fat Cats Can Be Expensive

 

             For the so-called student debt crisis, one might look at costs involving education. At the university level, one learns:  "The Chronicle of Higher Education survey used federal tax filings to analyze the base pay, benefits and deferred compensation plans of 212 presidents at 191 public research institutions for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The Chronicle surveyed compensation at private colleges in 2010, and found that 36 private college presidents earned more than $1 million. The median pay of the 494 presidents surveyed was $397,860." In "Salaries of public college chiefs rise, median tops $400,000," by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, Reuters, 12 May 2013. 

             Additionally, one reads:  "Purdue has a $313,000-a-year acting provost and six vice and associate vice provosts, including a $198,000 chief diversity officer. It employs 16 deans and 11 vice presidents, among them a $253,000 marketing officer and a $433,000 business school chief. Administrative costs on college campuses are soaring, crowding out instruction at a time of skyrocketing tuition and $1 trillion in outstanding student loans. At Purdue and other U.S. college campuses, bureaucratic growth is pitting professors against administrators and sparking complaints that tight budgets could be spent more efficiently. 'We’re a public university,' Robinson said. 'We’re here to deliver a high-quality education at as low a price as possible. Why is it that we can’t find any money for more faculty, but there seems to be an almost unlimited budget for administrators?' In "Bureaucrats Paid $250,000 Feed Outcry Over College Costs," by John Hechinger, Bloomberg, 14 November 2012.

             In another critical article, one finds a word newly coined and darkly humorous:  "In September 2012, for instance, as the university system faced the threat of another $250 million in state funding cuts on top of the $1 billion lost since 2007, UC San Diego hired its first vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion. This new diversocrat would pull in a starting salary of $250,000, plus a relocation allowance of $60,000, a temporary housing allowance of $13,500, and the reimbursement of all moving expenses." In "Multiculti U.," by Heather MacDonald, City Journal, Spring 2013, vol. 23, no. 2.

             Amusingly, it is being more often noted that bureaucracy is a large share of the increase in costs.

 

 Administer Soaring Tuition Costs

 

             One reads:  "Over the last 25 years, the universities’ enrollments have collectively grown by 26 percent, while their ranks of full-time administrators have risen 75 percent. This has happened not only at private universities, but also at some public ones. It’s a large part of why tuition is going up, said Andrew Gillen, research director at the nonpartisan Washington think tank Education Sector, which collected the federal data and supplied it to the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. During the same 25-year period, tuition at four-year universities nationwide has increased an inflation-adjusted 85 percent, federal figures show." In "Massachusetts colleges, saying they're trying to hold down costs, add administrators 3 times faster than students," by Jon Marcus, New England Center for Investigative Reporting, 19 May 2013.

             Of course, in the competition for much, some will cheat:  "Sometime in 2004 Richard C. Vos, the admission dean at Claremont McKenna College, a highly regarded liberal arts school outside Los Angeles, developed a novel way to meet the school president’s demands to improve the quality of incoming classes. He would simply lie. Over the next seven years Vos provided falsified data–the numbers behind our ranking of Claremont McKenna in America’s Top Colleges–to the Education Department and others, artificially increasing SAT and ACT scores and lowering the admission rate, providing the illusion, if not the reality, that better students were coming to Claremont McKenna. He got away with it thanks to a disturbing lack of oversight; he was trusted to hand-calculate the data and submit it without review. What had made this longtime employee break bad? He felt the same pressure to deliver as any executive does, Claremont McKenna spokesman Max Benavidez says. (Vos, who resigned in January 2012, couldn’t be reached for comment.)" In "Why Forbes Removed 4 Schools From Its America's Best Colleges Rankings," by Abram Brown, Forbes, 12 August 2013.

 

[ 3 ]       "It seems that many students - and their parents - are wading into a miasma of college tuition financing they are ill-prepared to understand. All too anxious to start attending the college of their choice, indeed often the college of their dreams, students and parents know little about the terms of the loans they obtain for tuition. One would have thought somewhere in all the high school honors courses and all those science and math courses SOMEBODY would have mentioned the concept of compound interest. Yet, many high school graduates and college students do not seem to understand this theory as to credit cards and college loans for tuition."  In "Financial Illiteracy Exacerbates Student Loan Crisis," by Michael P. Tremoglie, Main Street, 27 June 2013.

             "At the turn of the century, recent college graduates had an average debt of $15,100. Last year the average debt of graduates was $27,253. This increase in the debt burden has not been matched by economic gains for college graduates. According to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, 10 percent of recent graduates of four-year colleges have monthly student loan payments that exceed of 25% of their income. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which only recently began looking specifically at the employment situation of people in their first few years out of college, says that as of 2011 25.5 percent of recent college graduates were jobless." In "A quarter of recent college graduates lack jobs," by John Carney, CNBC, 6 September 2013.

 

[ 4 ]       A corollary to this observation is that a high-school diploma now seems to no longer be evidence of preparation to hold a job, suggesting that the public school teachers are no longer capable of preparing students to that minimum level. While teachers' unions and professional organizations might bristle at this, the conclusion is inescapable, if one accepts the opinion of the Washington Post.

 

 Expensive Education to Get an Average Wage Job

 

             Further one finds:   "...dramatic falls. 'Between 2001 and 2013, the average wage of workers with a bachelor’s degree declined 10.3 percent, and the average wage of those with an associate’s degree declined 11.1 percent,' the New York Fed reported in its study. Wages have been falling most steeply of all among newly minted college graduates. And jobless rates have been rising. In 2007, 5.5 per cent of college graduates under the age of twenty-five were out of work. Today, the figure is close to nine per cent. If getting a bachelor’s degree is meant to guarantee entry to an arena in which jobs are plentiful and wages rise steadily, the education system has been failing for some time." In "College Calculus, What’s the real value of higher education?" by John Cassidy, New Yorker, 7 September 2015 Issue.

             There is reporting which lumps realities together as if one. If in 2015, "close to nine per cent" of college graduates are "out of work," the other side of the number suggests 91 percent are "at work." But at what are these graduates working? Their degrees' stated discipline? A related field? An unrelated field? At what pay level? The interesting thing about statistical reports is sometimes how little they report.

 


 

This debt is your debt - a parody on Woody Guthrie's non-folk song, "This Land Is Your Land"

"'This Land Is Your Land' is one of the United States' most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 based on an existing melody, in critical response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", which Guthrie considered unrealistic and complacent."  In a Wikipedia article. Recorded in 1944 and published in 1945. I opine that Mr. Guthrie's original words complaining of "private property" were also unrealistic and foolhardy, given the perspective of social welfare states being unable to control fast-rising entitlement spending alongside un- and under-funded pension plans, public and private alike and public expenditures on risky and bankrupt schemes.

This debt is your debt, this debt is my debt,
So say the folks who pile it skywards,
They say we choose to bear their burden,
So debt is dumped on you and me.

As we go trudging taxation's highway
We see above us their first-class skyway,
And see below us the crumbling cities.
More debt is heaped on you and me.

Most politicians enjoy high living,
While struggling folks hear, "keep on giving,"
And all around us their mantra's sounding:
This debt is made for you and me.

Generations coming, they've made no contract,
And yet the parties say they'll be owing.
The news is chanting, those words repeating:
This debt was made for you and me.

This debt is your debt, this debt is my debt,
They keep on saying as if a contract,
While giving loans to their bankrupt cronies,
As more debt is made for you and me.

 

Envoi:    "The power to borrow money is general and unlimited, and the clause so often before referred to, authorises the passing any laws proper and necessary to carry this into execution. Under this authority, the Congress may mortgage any or all the revenues of the union, as a fund to loan money upon, and it is probably, in this way, they may borrow of foreign nations, a principal sum, the interest of which will be equal to the annual revenues of the country. — By this means, they may create a national debt, so large, as to exceed the ability of the country ever to sink. I can scarcely contemplate a greater calamity that could befal this country, than to be loaded with a debt exceeding their ability ever to discharge.." Brutus (10 January 1788) -- Brutus was the pseudonym for Robert Yates (1738-1801)

 

See:    Debt  

 


 

A spasm of isms

A spasm of isms
Darkens the skies,
Its wordy wide words
Buzzing like flies.

Terms multiply
Used this way, then that,
As out of the pan
Into fires flies such fat.

Define, redefine,
Then clutter and crash
Words against words
In a twiddling mishmash.

It's this and it's that
But not that over there!
It's right and it's wrong
And it's ever unfair!

Confounding, such terms
Terminally confuse
As is often the aim
When seizing words ooze

In spasms of isms
Which grumble, then war
In battles of wits
O'er each why and what for.

It's not, yet it is,
As words drop in mid flight,
To wither in a jumble
When realities bite.

 

 Envoi:   "Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort." Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)

 

See:    By Rivers of Thought     and also  For Your Common Good 

 


 

Rejecting belief - believe you me!

"This is especially true because of the 'endarkenment'—a rapidly growing movement towards religious orthodoxies that reject enlightenment values such as freedom of thought, democracy, separation of church and state, and basing beliefs and actions on empirical evidence. They are manifest in dangerous trends such as climate denial, failure to act on the loss of biodiversity and opposition to condoms (for AIDS control) as well as other forms of contraception. If ever there was a time for evidence-based (as opposed to faith-based) risk reduction strategies, it is now." In "Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?" by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences, 9 January 2013

Rejecting belief while crying
"Believe in what I say"
Is belief enough to come
To gnaw your belief away.

Denying models, forecasts,
Even when their faults are shown,
Is to anger true believers
Who would gnaw you to the bone.

Rejecting belief while believing
Is a model par excellence,
The reaction to which we often see
Is a yawning nonchalance.

Collapse? Think Armageddon,
And all past centuries' fears
As predicted by true believers
And beliefs to which each adheres.

 

See:    Apocalypse sometime  , and also  The Truth 

 


 

Murderous murderer murdered - "M" as in the myth of Che Guevara

  

 

"The laws of capitalism, blind and invisible to the majority, act upon the