Archives for October 2011

Healthcare and the free market

As the fight on healthcare seems set to reignite, it’s a good time to think a bit about some of the problems with health care and how a free market solution might actually reduce health care costs in the long term.  I can hear the more progressive readers right now, wailing and gnashing their teeth, but hold your horses for just a moment.  Some of these, even progressive might like.

Certificates of need

In many places, in order for a hospital to expand, there is a requirement for a “certificate of need”.  This certificate requires government approval for any new service.  In short, it’s a cap on competition.  For example, here in Albany, Georgia,Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is the only hospital permitted to offer birthing services.  HCA Palmyra, a private hospital, has been trying for years to offer these services and have been getting blocked.

Phoebe has a lot of services, and is able to effectively block any health care group that wants to cross it.  As a result, Albany has a much higher healthcare cost compared to other cities its size.  The reason for this is that the certificate of need prevents competition.  Competition drives down prices, which means a lower total cost to health care.  Even if you calculate in insurance paying for it, the insurance companies want the lowest price possible.  They’ll direct you to where the cost is minimal.

Even President Obama agrees, competition in healthcare is good.  I agree.  Certificates of Need prevent competition and protect the current providers.  This wouldn’t be tolerated in any other industry, so why in healthcare?  Get rid of these certificates and let competition drive down costs.

Produce more doctors

Obama’s teleprompters stolen, White House in a panic

Given all of the criticism that President Barack Obama has received for his frequent use of Teleprompters, this story was just too humorous to pass up:

When you see President Obama speak, there is a pretty typical setup including the presidential seal on a podium, the see-thru Teleprompter and a portable sound system.

Thieves saw the truck carrying that equipment and couldn’t resist the target.

We’re told the truck was parked at the Virginia Center Commons Courtyard Marriott in advance on Wednesday’s presidential visit to Chesterfield.

Sources said inside that vehicle was about $200,000 worth of sound equipment, several podiums and presidential seals, behind which only the President himself can stand.

They told NBC12 around 12:30 Monday afternoon that truck was recovered in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express near the airport and hotel staff confirm police activity.

For what it’s worth, I never really liked the meme; but I understood where it came from. Obama is great at giving a speech, but he isn’t good at shooting from the hip, especially when he is caught off script.

Enjoy this one, my conservative friends.

Cain’s 9-9-9 plan continues to come under fire

If you watched the Republican debate last night, you noticed the increased scrutiny on Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan. The criticism isn’t without risk. If they hit him too harshly, they risk victimizing him and emboldening his base of support. If they’re too lenient, the quick-witted Cain wll turn make sure that it blows up in their face.

But Cain has tipped his hand in what he has to come back with as conservatives lay out very serious concerns about the proposal; and it’s clear that he isn’t ready to argue on substance. His staff has responded to criticism with a simple line, “the problem with that analysis is that it is incorrect.” Cain’s own recent defense of the plan laid out in an editoral leaves more questions than answers.

Even the editors at the conservative National Review are unconvinced that Cain’s good intentions will bring the benefits that he claims:

21% of loan program guarantees went to Georgia Power

I’ve written a lot about Solyndra and it’s loan guarantee courtesy of the Obama White House.  However, over at The Atlantic, Megan McArdle took a look at the Department of Energy’s loan guarantees.  She was looking for something completely different, but in her infographic, she revealed some interesting information.

First, she reveals that 29% of the guarantees went towards what are called the “1703 program”.  Three quarters of that program, according to McArdle, goes towards the building of two nuclear power plants by Georgia Power, which in turn is a division of the Southern Company.  That’s 21.75% of the guarantees in that program went to them.

Now, I’m a big proponent of nuclear power.  I think it’s clean, efficient, and – even after Japan’s issues – safe.  I’m glad to see the Department of Energy isn’t focused solely on pie-in-the-sky energy creation.  However, does a company with a market cap of  $36.44 billion really need loan guarantees from Uncle Sam?  Seriously?

I suspect some on the left will be upset by the fact the loan guarantees went towards something as evil as nuclear power.  I have a problem with Uncle Sam guaranteeing loans in general, but for a huge company like Southern Company in particular.

Now, one downside of nuclear power is that it’s expensive and takes a while to actually start making money back.  I get that, I really do.  However, it will start making money back unless it’s due to gross mismanagement.  People need electricity and nuclear can provide it.  A sound company like the Southern Company shouldn’t have a problem getting private funding for a reactor, so why are we guaranteeing the loan?  Honestly?

Rick Santorum needs to get over himself

In case you didn’t catch it, the folks at Saturday Night Live lampooned the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination over the weekend (not the first time they’ve done it). Hilarity ensued.

The skit was pokes fun at the seemingly endless stream of debates that the candidates have gone through over the last few months (there is another one tonight!), including the recent Bloomberg debate. In this faux debate, Republican candidates are seated based on their likelihood of winning the GOP nomination. Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are seated in the studio along with Rick Perry, who is cast off to the side. Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich are locked in a janitor’s closet. Ron Paul was left in the parking deck of the studio. And Rick Santorum was left at a gay bar in San Francisco.

Santorum, whose only real constituency in the race is social conservatives, was apparently not very happy with the sketch:

Although Santorum, played by Andy Samberg, had only a limited roll in the sketch, he was portrayed as upset and uncomfortable.

New Hampshire radio station WGIR asked Santorum on Sunday about the sketch — the former Pennsylvania senator said that while he hadn’t yet seen it, he had been “hammered” for his support of conservative principles.

“We’ve been hammered by the left for my standing up for the traditional family and I will continue to do so,” Santorum said. “The left, unfortunately, participates in bullying more than the right does. They say that they’re tolerant, and they’re anything but tolerant of people who disagree with them and support traditional values.”

I’ve got no sympathy for Santorum. He is obviously entitled to his beliefs and opinions. That’s not in dispute, and it’s absurd for Santorum to say otherwise. This isn’t bullying. It’s damn fine comedy.

Occupy Wall Street: The Young and the Clueless

“Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain - and since labor is pain in itself - it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.” ~French Economist Frederick Bastiat, 1845, Economic Sophisms”

“There are many well-meaning people today who work at placing an economic floor beneath all of us so that no one shall exist below a certain level or standard of living, and certainly we don’t quarrel with this. But look more closely and you may find that all too often these well-meaning people are building a ceiling above which no one shall be permitted to climb and between the two are pressing us all into conformity, into a mold of standardized mediocrity.” ~President Ronald Reagan

For the past few weeks, America has been treated to a steady news coverage diet of Occupy Wall Street, a motley amalgam of former hippies, idealistic but misinformed college students, Marxist advocates, seekers of mayhem for mayhem’s sake, and the just plain clueless. Welcome to the Flea Party, the far left’s answer to the organic uprising of the TEA Party. However, that is where the comparison stops. Whereas the TEA Party uprising has been peaceful, the Flea Party has been a study in anti-social behavior masquerading as noble civil disobedience.

DeMint denies Romney endorsement

You may have seen a report yesterday from Roll Call noting that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who is a voice for the tea party movement in Congress, was about to endorse Mitt Romney in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. It’s apparently not true:

“That story is a fabrication made up of anonymous sources that obviously have no clue what Senator DeMint is thinking,” spokesman Wesley Denton said. “He has said over and over again that he is not leaning toward any candidate yet and may end up not endorsing in the presidential race.”

Matt Hoskins, who runs DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, said DeMint is “looking to see who wins over the grassroots, and so far Governor Romney has not done that.”

“These operatives don’t know what they’re talking about. Senator DeMint is not leaning toward anyone at this point,” Hoskins said of the story this morning.

The idea isn’t too far fetched. DeMint did endorse Romney than the rest of the candidates combined, back in 2008. However, DeMint made it clear earlier this year that he wouldn’t endorse Romney, who has received more endorsements from members of Congress, this time around without a repudiation of RomneyCare, which served as the blueprint for ObamaCare.

It’s probably wise for DeMint and other members of Congress to steer clear of endorsements. You don’t want take an early shot in the dark on a candidate and then come up empty; only to find yourself on a new president’s bad side.

“Capitalism without Bankruptcy is like Religion without Hell”

Leave it to Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute to use a fantastic quote to describe the true state of American “capitalism” (i.e., corporatism) so well:

I wish both the Occupy Wall Street and 53 Percenters would take a look at this and realize that, if they’re both true to their values and not partisan hacks, they really have a lot in common. Two sides of the same coin and all that. Maybe they can meet in the middle and join up with the rest of us.

Also, make sure to read his op-ed back from 2008, where he lays out all the reasons the bailouts were bad, and uses that fantastic line again.

Ron Paul proposes sustainable budget plan

While most candidates are ignoring spending — the real problem with the budget, Ron Paul is taking this issue head on. Yesterday, Dr. Paul proposed $1 trillion in spending cuts as a part of a signficant budget and regulatory overhaul:

Ron Paul’s opinions about cutting the budget are well-known, but on Monday, he got specific: The Texas congressman laid out a budget blueprint for deep and far-reaching cuts to federal spending, including the elimination of five Cabinet-level departments and the drawdown of American troops fighting overseas.

There’s even a symbolic readjustment of the president’s salary to put it in line with the average American salary.

“Our debt is too big, our government is too big, and we have to recognize how serious the problem is,” Paul said during an afternoon speech in Las Vegas ahead of Tuesday’s GOP debate there.

The plan, Paul said, would cut $1 trillion in spending his first year in the White House and create a balanced federal budget by the third year of his presidency.

Paul isn’t just speaking in platitudes and slogans here. He’s serious about restoring fiscal sanity. This plan would eliminate five cabinet positions and their agencies (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education) and freeze spending for remaining executive agencies and departments at FY 2006 levels. It would repeal also ObamaCare and Sarbanes-Oxley, and allow young workers to opt-out of federal entitlement programs.

Arrogant White House won’t support repeal of CLASS Act

Despite the Department of Health and Human Services axing the unsustainable CLASS Act, which was passed as part of ObamaCare last year, the White House says that President Barack Obama will veto any attempt to repeal it:

President Obama is against repealing the health law’s long-term-care CLASS Act and might veto Republican efforts to do so, an administration official tells The Hill, despite the government’s announcement Friday that the program was dead in the water.

“We do not support repeal,” the official said Monday. “Repealing the CLASS Act isn’t necessary or productive. What we should be doing is working together to address the long-term care challenges we face in this country.”

Peter Suderman notes over at Reason that the Congressional Budget Office has laid the path to repealing the law since it won’t result an impact on the deficit, but the position of the White House obviously makes that difficult.

So why not support repeal? We all know the supposed “savings” of ObamaCare weren’t real, which has been acknowledged by Medicare Actuary Richard Foster. The CLASS Act is evidence of that and repealing it would provide Republicans with substantive rhetoric to use against Obama and Democrats showing that the lied to Americans about the program.

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