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  Bill Maher appears to be drifting toward Libertarianism. This is the third significant comment he has made in the last few months that appears to reject leftist economic orthodoxy. It also seems to be a warning shot over the bow of that fiscal Titanic known as California. (Did someone give him “Road to Serfdom” or “The Fatal Conceit” for Christmas? It’s what captured David Mamet.)

income-blog480

2012 election results from Gelman and Feller, NYT. As clear in the above figure, Obama dominated among low-income households even in red states. Meanwhile, Romney held an advantage among high income households even in many states that went blue.

DemocratViewRepub

The Democratic View of typical Republicans

The one post on Liberty Haven that has elicited the most aggravated commentary is “The True Irony Behind Leftist Complaints Over ‘Red State Socialism.'”  It would seem that many leftists have a very peculiar view of the red-state /blue state divide in this country.  Apparently, they conceive of “liberals” as consisting mostly of urbane, well-meaning, educated, coffee-house Manhattanites, San Franciscans, and Portlanders — while conservatives, they think, mostly live in trailer parks in Kansas and Oklahoma, eating mayonnaise sandwiches as their kids do wheelies on min-bikes in between rusted appliances on the dirt patches they call front lawns.  These people only vote Republican, so the story goes, because roughly half-a-dozen evil-genius billionaires, who have oppressed, polluted, and slave-laboured their way to great power, have managed to take control of Talk-Radio and Fox-News — and, by using barely-veiled appeals to all the darker sides of human nature, have inflamed the rubes against the altruistic, governing geniuses of the Democratic party, enticing their minions to hold giant, smelly rallies in which they proudly wave misspelled signs and hang teabags on their hats.  All this, of course, is only partly true.

suburban-family

More realistic view of typical Republicans

The image of election results above and the New York Times article that it accompanied give the real story of this last election (indeed, the last six elections) — and falsifies once and forever more any concerns about low-income rubes and “red state socialism.”  The simple fact of the matter is that Romney dominated among voters making $50,000 or more. Specifically,  he won voters with family income from $50,000 to $99,999 by 52% to 46%, and voters with family incomes from $100,000 to $199,999 — and those making $200,000 or more — both by the same margin: 54% to 44%.   Interestingly, Romney even won this demographic even in some states that are considered leftist strong-holds.  Romney won the $50,000 to $100,000 in Oregon, Wisconsin and Minnesota — and really cleaned up among the $100,000 to $200,000 income group all across the nation, even winning it in Illinois, while running close to even in MA, CA, and NY.  Obama, like Clinton, won because of an incredibly lopsided victory among low income groups. This puts to rest any notion about the supposed ‘hypocrisy’ of ‘red-state socialism.’  Yes, Illinois gives more money to Washington D.C. than it takes in.  But that quite obviously doesn’t mean that Illinois Democrats are giving more money than they take in.  The majority of the revenue that the Feds take from Illinois obviously comes from its higher incomes, which is the group that voted for Romney. And yes, it is also true that the Feds spend more money in Missouri than they take in — but that obviously doesn’t mean that Missouri Republicans are net takers from the government.

The fact remains that it is neither hypocritical nor dumb to complain about the unsustainable size of our tax-and-spend government no matter what state you live in.

(And once again, I must stress that the lefty-elitism that continuously slanders the red-state rural mindset is indeed ironic — as the rural red states are the cradle of American progressive ideology. The U.S. has now become a William-Jennings-Bryan nation.)

 I have a number of very good friends who are brilliant, knowledgeable, and as liberal as can be. They are indeed correct about many of the things they think, and this gives them confidence in their rather screwy economic theories – theories that have been effectuated hundreds of times and have had a 100% failure rate, often with conspicuously disastrous results. I normally do not care that people believe false things, but the problem is that my friends are always agitating for the national implementation of their catastrophic schemes – always demanding that every person in every town in every state succumb to their wishes, whether it is their economic views of health care, stimulus packages, or retirement accounts. So we often get into friendly debates on their big government ideas, and in every case, I have asked them the same question: “Now, I know you are not advocating socialism, but I still would like to know why you think socialism failed?” This is a question that I’ve never seen answered, either publicly or privately, by someone who supports big government. Even when I become obnoxious and almost dare them to answer it: nothing. Typically, they respond that they are not socialists — despite my opening disclaimer.  Of course, I was not calling anyone a socialist. Few people are anymore.  I just wanted to see if they could possibly explain the complete failure of all 100+ nations and regions that have tried socialism without admitting to the inherent flaws that plague all big government schemes – no matter what the political label. The reason socialism failed in the 20th century is the same reason all the biggest government nations and states are failing now: Oppression and fleeing of producers, cronyism, skewed price signals, lack of competition due to monopolistic control, etc.

My friend, Jason, is one such liberal with whom I have enjoyed a few debates, and he is even more brilliant and knowledgeable than most. He recently tried to offer an explanation for California’s fiscal meltdown. Evidently, it has to do with their “freeze on property taxes.” Okay, one region down. Now how about Illinois? And what about all the other failures, dozens of which are listed below? Jason has yet to answer any of these questions. But I will fill in the table below if he ever does…

Big Government or Socialist Region:

Jason’s Explanations for Economic Failure

California

“First of all, California is too complicated to ascribe a single theory to. Second, Cali’s abysmal freeze on property taxes is perhaps the biggest driver of the state’s fiscal woes…”

Illinois

Greece

Portugal

Italy

France

Cuba

Venezuela

North Korea

20th Century Examples of Big Government Failures

Albania

Algeria

Angola

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Benin

Bulgaria

Belorussia

Chile

China

Congo

Czechoslovakia

East Germany

Estonia

Ethiopia

Georgia

Hungary

Kampuchea

Kazakhstan

Kyrgyzstan

Latvia

Lithuania

Moldova

Mongolia

Mozambique

Nicaragua

Poland

Romania

Senegal

Somalia

Tuva

Tajikistan

Turkmenistan

Ukraine

Uzbekistan

Vietnam

Yemen

Yugoslavia.


Pre-20th Century Big Government Failures

Equity Colony, Washington (1897)

Ruskin Colony, Tennessee (1896)

Kaweah Co-Operative Commonwealth, California (1880s)

Fruit-Lands, Massachusetts (1843)

Brook Farm, Massachusetts (1841)

Orbiston, Scotland (1825)

Owen’s New Harmony, Indiana (1825)

Nashoba Tennessee (1825)

Plymouth Plantations(1620)


Where is the ACLU? Where are the leftist defenders of artistic freedom?  Why are the pundits at MSNBC not complaining about the jailing of Mark Basseley Youssef, the film-maker of “Innocence of Muslims”?  Indeed, far from defending him, many on the left take pains to denounce him. But why?  Why do so many condemn Youssef as “hateful” and “bigoted” – yet always laud Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (or innumerable anti-Christian artists)?  Perhaps, it has something to do with the column on the right in the table below.

Deliberately provocative and meant to offend? Known ahead of time it would enrage Muslims? Resulted in protests and violence? Denounced and scapegoated by Obama for Benghazi – and director was jailed?
Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” Yes Yes Yes No
Van Gogh’s “Submission” Yes Yes Yes No
Westergaard’s Danish Cartoon Yes Yes Yes No
“Innocence of Muslims” Yes Yes Yes Yes

Interestingly, many on the left have very suddenly developed a well-defined sense of moral outrage over films that offend the very religious– an outrage that can be found nowhere in well-known, American leftist rhetoric or literature for the entire century prior to September 11th, 2012. Indeed, progressives have always stood alongside libertarians in their defense of artists in every major dispute they have had with religious conservatives — every time, that is, until just now. Regardless, the following facts should be considered troubling to those who still appreciate artistic freedom and the first amendment:

  1. On September 14th, Hillary Clinton told the father of Ty Woods, who was the CIA agent and ex-Navy Seal slain at Benghazi, that they would get the filmmaker who was responsible for the video that led to the “spontaneous protest” and resulting attack on the consulate. The administration then continued to blame the Benghazi tragedy on a film-protest for twelve days.
  2. The next day, federal officials began reviewing Youssef’s probation, and he was brought in for questioning by authorities in a well-televised perp-walk.
  3. Federal authorities arrested him within a few weeks.
  4. The night before a Congressional hearing on the Benghazi tragedy, the State department leaked that there was no protest before the consulate and that, despite the oft-repeated administration narrative, it was a well-planned terrorist attack by an Al-Qaeda linked group using sophisticated military tactics.
  5. On November 8th, Youssef was sentenced to 1 year in jail for trivial probation offenses.

“I am Obamacare” woman is not poor, did not qualify for Medicaid, and could have purchased insurance. Still, Obamacare spent $30,000 to reduce what should have been a $14000+ bill to a $4000+ bill –and with her current cost of insurance, this was not even a good deal for her.

Let us be clear: No one in the United States is denied medical care because of a lack of money. No one. Medicaid covers all necessary medical operations for the poor. With that in mind, let us take a closer look at the medical story of “Miss M,” now famous as the “I am Obamacare” woman, to show how misleading the story is. What her famous note is implying and what politicians who spread her story would like you to believe is that Miss M is poor, that poor women in the United States could not get hysterectomies and so were dying of cancer, and that President Obama saved her life and paid for all her bills. All of these implications are not just false; they are dangerously so. As we shall see, under Obamacare, Miss M would have paid significantly more for her operation than without it – or if she had a Health Savings Account. Worse, the true cost of her operation exposes how harmful this program will be for the poor. Here are the facts:
1) Medicaid pays for hysterectomies –as well as all other necessary medical expenses. Poor women not only were getting hysterectomies in the U.S., but they were getting the highest quality medical care in the world – and without the dangerous and agonizing wait lines of nations with single payer systems. The only reason Miss M would not qualify for Medicaid and a “free” hysterectomy is because she is not poor.
2) Miss M admits that despite being employed she was not buying health insurance for herself – which is now illegal under Obamacare. Indeed, all the pro-HCR politicians derided those who were choosing not to purchase healthcare as “free riders” who were “gaming the system.” Today, Miss M is paying $237 a month in insurance. Had she been paying this same amount since she was 27, she would have paid $22,752 into insurance companies by the time she was 34. This is what she is advocating everyone be forced to do.
3) According to Healthcare Blue Book, the total fair price for a full hysterectomy with cancer in the U.S. is $14,125 – including operation, anesthesia, physician services and hospital stay. Miss M’s bill, she notes, was $40,316.02 – and, according to her, this did “not include the doctor, assistant, the anesthesiologist…” Why would she not check prices ahead of time and search for a less expensive hospital rather than pay nearly three times the amount of a fair price for a full hysterectomy for cancer, seemingly setting fire to more than $26,000? Because it is not her money. The government is paying for it. Such lack of price shopping, wasteful spending, and perverse incentives is the main driver of the high health costs today—and Obamacare will only add to it.
4) Miss M then notes that she is still forced to pay $4155.69 for the operation. (Note that this is nearly as much as the highest of high deductibles for people with a Health Savings Account!) But she is thankful it is so cheap. Unfortunately, she is forgetting the $22,752 she would have been paying into insurance companies for the previous 8 years, as forced by Obamacare. So instead, her own out of pocket expenses would have been $26907.69 for all her medical expenses of the last 8 years, including an operation that probably would have only cost her $14,125 if she had price shopped and negotiated. Meanwhile, the taxpayer, a word not mentioned on her blog, was on the hook for roughly $30,000 for her operation. And she is also a taxpayer and helps pay for that too.
5) Had she purchased a cheap, high-deductible plan for $50 to $100 a month, she would have been likely billed $5000, not much more than the $4155.69 in Obamacare – for which she is currently paying $237 per month. Over 8 years this high deductible would only have cost $4800 to $9600 – as opposed to the $22,752 at her current insurance rate. She’s paying $10000 to $20000 more with Obamacare. The same is true if, instead of a high deductible, she had put her $237 a month into a savings account that she set aside for health care. In both these cases, she saves a significant amount of money, and the tax payer pays nothing. But despite all the extra money Miss M would have been paying, she is still getting a better deal than the vast majority of young women between the ages of 27 to 34 – who never need such a major operation. They are truly the victims of Obamacare, forced to overpay insurance companies and then forced to overpay taxes for an inefficient system – and never reaping benefits.
6) Miss M says, “Without Health Care Reform, PCIP would not exist and I would not have been able to get the insurance I needed to get the surgery I required.” Well, if she means she couldn’t have waited until she needed an operation and then purchased insurance after the fact, that is true. However, the notion that she was too poor to afford a $50 to $100 a month for a high deductible plan is false. If so, she would have qualified for Medicaid. What is more, even if we assume she never purchased any insurance, even a cheap high deductible, and never saved any money, her total bill would have been $14,125. For the same $237 she’s paying now, she could have paid that off with $150-a-month loan and still have money to pay for an $87 high deductible insurance plan. Plus, she would have saved the $4155.69 she owes with Obamacare. Oh, and she would have saved the $22,752 that she didn’t pay into insurance for the prior 8 years, which she would now be forced to do. And again, economically speaking she is getting a better deal than most women her age in Obamacare. The vast majority of healthy women at her age are exclusively payers into the system – and get essentially no benefit at all.
7) Finally, as is always the case in big government systems, the biggest victims will be the poor. When the government can no longer be so wasteful, it will have to start implementing Venezuelan-style price controls, which is happening now in Massachusetts. This will stress doctors and hospitals, cause many medical centers to close, stop many doctors and hospitals from taking Medicaid patients, and cause practitioners to leave the system. Then come the wait lines –as the wealthy move to the head of the line with private hospitals. The poor will still have a “right” to “free” health care, they just now won’t be able to get it.  As we saw in Canada, that’s when the real tragedy begins.

Corporations

In 2009, 750 women in labor in Britain were denied treatment at hospitals because of lack of available care.

Imagine if Kim Jong Un had hired Tim Burton to produce a lavish propaganda-parade celebrating the benevolence of North Korea’s governmental programs and you may get a glimpse of the creepiness of London’s Opening Ceremonies promoting Britain’s National Health Service. It not only had everything that makes most propaganda so sinister: lavish spectacle combined with blunt, oafish, political advocacy; it also was oddly mixed with the dark and jarring imagery of a disaffected artist-director. The result was so uniquely bizarre and embarrassing that its descent into self-parody appeared purposeful. There were moments, indeed, when one thought the director was really a saboteur, intentionally trying to be horrifying by continuously tainting the commemoration with dark, Orwellian excess. What else can be said about the blue-lit expanse of hundreds of hospital beds, attended by an army of identically-dressed, frozen-smile nurses, all surrounding a giant baby head? As always, such naked promotion is made worse when we know the underlying reality – e.g., that in 2009 750 women in labour were turned away from England’s hospitals because of lack of bed space. Some had to drive as much as 99 miles to find a hospital that could take them. British newspapers routinely recount the horrors of British medical care, including one analysis by a doctor and senior consultant who accused the NHS of prematurely ending the lives of tens of thousands of elderly patients every year “because they are difficult to manage or to free up beds.”  Such accounts expose the rotting heap beneath the gaudy displays. So in a way, the creepy and disastrous ceremonies are a perfectly fitting tribute to their National Health Service.

The Opening Ceremonies also extravagantly expose everything that is wrong with propaganda in general. It is, in brief, a massive effort to get people to look the other way, to pretend that nothing is really wrong and to gawk mindlessly at pageantry and shiny symbols. In the end, the best way to generate good will and support for a governmental program is simply to ensure that it is helpful and beneficent in its realization: It is not to produce massive, strictly-choreographed, happy-faced spectaculars that clumsily and shamelessly attempt to glorify the program and, worse, link it with patriotism.  After all, goods and services that are truly useful to us don’t become the subject of national controversy, and indeed we often don’t even much notice them.  Smart phones, computers, GPS, the produce and supermarket industries, etc. — don’t need giant pep rallies trying to convince us to ignore criticism and maintain allegiance.  We don’t need a giant, national parade in the U.S. to prove to the world that our children are being fed.  But they do need such a showy device in Britain to trumpet that their babies are being delivered without incident.  And the reason they need it is because people are correctly suspecting it’s untrue.  All such propaganza hints at failure and suffering.  So whenever a nation ostentatiously boasts in such eye-catching displays about the way it feeds, shelters, or heals its people, you can be sure that the misery has already begun.

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