Archive for December, 2009

Pirates, Narcissists, and Congress

December 27, 2009

Since I live in Iowa and regularly write to my elected representatives, I get Senator Tom Harkin’s email newsletters. He sent me one on Christmas Eve, crowing about Senate passage of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (hereafter PP&ACA). This, in spite of the fact that I have practically worn out his aides expressing opposition to this big-government monstrosity. Senator Harkin is a primary architect of the plan, so I admit that my faith that my input would have any effect was lacking. I have included a link to the newsletter at the end, in case you suspect that I make this stuff up.

The attitude of arrogance embodied by Harkin’s form-letter style email touches many raw nerves that jut like promontories into a sea of disenfranchisement. In that sea is tossed the flotsam and jetsam that are our inalienable rights; legally guaranteed us by our Constitution but made shipwreck by the lawless pirates in this Congress (and the progressive ones that preceded it).

The very title of the bill offends me. The premise underlying the bill is that the evil insurance companies are defrauding the people and the answer is big government “protecting” us. Forgive me, but I don’t believe an organization that can’t manage to break-even moving an envelope from Bozoo WV to Kalamazoo MI is qualified to decide the details of health care coverage. Of course, if the new legislation drives all the insurance companies out of business, then of course, the government would HAVE to take over. Right? That would be pirate progress!

What I want to do here, is simply interpret some of the language in Harkin’s newsletter from Progressive-speak to the common-sense understanding of the American Patriot. There is a rule in understanding the speech of pirates and other narcissists; they often tell you the truth about what they are doing or what their plan is, but it is so far outside the norm of acceptable behavior that most hearers figure the speaker must mean something other than he has plainly said. One must also recognize that the vast majority of the population has been trained to at least try to think the best of others. In the absence of clear comprehension of the intent of the narcissist, the hearer will put the best spin possible on what he has heard.

Let me demonstrate how this works with one of the first statements made in Harkin’s newsletter: the PP&ACA “reduces the deficit”. That sounds good doesn’t it? I’m definitely in favor of reducing the deficit. Aren’t you? The deficit is accrued by the government spending more than it takes in. You and I want the deficit reigned in by cutting government spending. The Progressive plan is not, however, to cut spending. It is to raise taxes. See how this works? The deficit reduction statement can be true (just ignore the other spending coming down the pike), but now I don’t like it at all. Listen more carefully to Progressive-speak.

According to Harkin, the PP&ACA is a “prize that has eluded Congresses and Presidents going back to the [Teddy] Roosevelt administration”. The fact is, Teddy was at the head of a long line of “Progressive” politicians whose core tenets have moved us ever further from the individual liberties that our founders fought to give us, toward the “collective good” envisioned by Teddy Roosevelt. (I think of the Borg, but I don’t want to be assimilated.) He then claims this “prize” is on par with the passage of the Social Security Act of 1935 and Medicare in 1965. I agree that it is on par, and in my book that is not good.  At the end of the newsletter, Harkin ties in the reference to these earlier Progressive triumphs inferring that now people LIKE Social Security and Medicare, even though they originally  met with fierce opposition. Further, he states that these programs are “hugely successful”. This is a key to understanding how the Progressive/pirate mindset is able to effectively ignore an active and vocal majority which is in clear opposition to their actions. They are betting that you will eventually come around. But, they don’t really understand how people actually feel about these programs.

Let me explain what I mean. I have have been working and paying Social Security taxes for more than thirty-five years. This money, invested in the stock market would have made me a multimillionaire by now. Instead it has helped support a massive government bureaucracy (“hugely successful” from a Progressive point of view) and, if it is not totally bankrupt before I need to quit working, it might pay me a pittance. So, if I collect meager payments from Social Security in a few years, am I in favor of the system? Or, am I just trying to cut my losses? Harkin thinks these programs have widespread support and the PP&ACA eventually will too – a feather in his Progressive hat. He just doesn’t get the fact that in my view, big government has been stealing my retirement in increments for more than thirty-five years. And now, some say, these “hugely successful” Progressive programs are essentially bankrupt.  I’m betting your view is essentially the same as mine.  How could you not agree with me?

There is a list of supposed benefits enumerated in Harkin’s newsletter, designed to take advantage of people’s innate tendency to believe the best. But note that the list is preceded by a caveat. Narcissists often tell you the awful truth, if you are brave enough to really hear it.

Look at that list very carefully. What is it doing? Is it regulating interstate commerce, an arguably legitimate function of the Federal government? Or, is it dictating the internal business decisions of insurance companies? If the Congress is certain that the three-to-eight percent profit posted by the average insurance company is not the whole truth, then regulate their accounting practices. If the posted profits are the truth, then this bill is a very thinly veiled move to nationalize the health insurance industry.

How about an important issue Senator Harkin left out of his newsletter? How do you feel about the government forcing you to buy an “acceptable” health insurance policy? That is the bargain here – if they legislate that people who are healthy enough to feel they don’t need insurance must buy it anyway, they get these mostly lower-income young people to subsidize the rest. And that, is something the insurance companies did not heretofore have the leverage to do.

Finally, is is a good deal? How good? Why, good enough that Congress has exempted itself.

As promised: here is a link to the Harkin Email.

Also, here is some analysis in a Wall Street Journal article.  The closer one examines this PP&ACA, the more tyranny is revealed.

Nebraskans take unfair advantage?

December 20, 2009

How will Nebraskans view Senator Nelson’s agreement to support the Senate health care bill in exchange for having the Federal Government making the other 49 states pay Nebraska’s expanded Medicaid bill FOREVER?  Will they be appreciative of his winning this windfall for the folks at home?  At least some patriots in Nebraska are incensed.  They have principles that won’t  let them rejoice at taking unfair advantage of the rest of us.

In fact, they scheduled a protest this afternoon.  Check out information on protest in Omaha here.

My, reaction to the news about Nelson’s sell out at our expense was visceral.  Looking at the the Americans for Prosperity web site (link above) reminds me that my neighbors in Nebraska have a Senator who isn’t listening to them, any more than Harkin is listening to us here in Iowa.  As those protesters go to Omaha and then return home (in a snow storm).  I pray for their safe travels, and their success at getting Nelson’s attention.

Carte Blanche

December 15, 2009

It’s common wisdom that you can get in trouble by giving someone a signed blank check or  running up your credit card debt beyond your ability to repay.  It’s bad enough when one makes this mistake and then has to face the consequences.  We have a more dangerous situation.  Our Congress, has (in effect) our credit card, and they are spending at will, as though they were representing us.  Further, they are preparing to raise the credit limit by $1.8 trillion.  Because they have the power to write the laws by which this process is governed, they are more nefarious than any identity thief.

I recommend this short Heritage Foundation video

Relationship with the Almighty

December 13, 2009

In the Gospels, the interactions between Jesus and the members of one family gets a fair amount of attention:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. John 11:5

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. John 11:20

Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” John 11:35,36

Whatever else one may draw from these passages, one thing is clear; there is a vital loving relationship between Jesus, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. It was even evident to outsiders. Martha felt free to bring a complaint to Jesus. Jesus felt free to tell her that she was obsessing about her responsibility to serve beyond anything that He desired. When Jesus came after Lazarus’ death, Martha ran out to seek solace from her grief in His presence.

This kind of loving relationship between men and women and the Sovereign of the Universe is what God desires. The emphasis of the Bible is on the relationship of God and man, but not understanding relationship (because understanding is damaged by sin), men often get the idea that it is about ministry or some other kind of service (like Martha), or knowledge, or something else. That there was originally a relationship between God and man is mentioned in the context of it being damaged by sin in Genesis 2 &3. God interacted with Adam, planting a garden for him to live in, expressing concern about his lack of a partner, letting him name all the creatures God made. Then after sin enters the equation, these passages explicitly speak of the man and his wife attempting to hide themselves from God’s presence when they heard Him coming. What purpose would God have had for presenting Himself in a form that would walk in the garden (and be heard) if it were not to better relate to Adam and Eve whom He had placed there?

So, in Genesis we see the relationship with God broken by sin. In the Gospels, we see Jesus modeling relationships where the participants care about one another and seek each others company. That is why He came, to make a way for that broken relationship to be repaired.

That problem of the compulsion to shrink away from God when He appears is not confined to Eden. In 1 John 2:28 we find this: And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. Look. The solution to the problem is to “abide” (NAS) or “continue” (NIV) in Him. Jesus came to reconcile sinners to a Holy God. He already paid all the penalty for our personal wrongdoing. Take Him up on that offer of reconciliation. Abide. Continue. Love.

Global Warming Evidence Found in Eastern Iowa

December 9, 2009
Wednesday Snow

Global Warming Evidence

The (insurance) facts don’t add up.

December 9, 2009

Last week Senator Harkin was talking about a subpoena to coerce insurance industry executives to explain the current round of rate increases. With just a little bit of research one can find examples of rate increases between 25% and 54% all over the country and from many different insurance companies. The Democratic majority’s rhetoric and their massive heath care bill are clearly based on the assumption that the evil insurance companies are behind the problem and that government needs to force them into line.

I found one liberal article that was decrying the fact that insurance companies that were paying 95% of each premium dollar for medical costs in the early ’90’s are only paying out 81% now. That fact was apparently fuel for another of Harkin’s speeches, where he cited a 428% increase in insurance company profit margins, while worker salaries increased only 29%. Go ahead, see if that doesn’t seem like a blatant attempt to mislead with statistics – I’ll wait.

Recently, the AP’s Calvin Woodward reported: “health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent’’ of revenue, a return “that’s anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries.’’

So, Senator Harkin, I say let’s do it. All the claims (no pun intended) don’t add up. Let’s put this massive misguided attempt to take over 1/6th of the economy on hold. Let’s get to the bottom of what is really driving the escalating cost of health care. Then let’s work on that.

All you insurance company executives, are you just waiting for the government to take over your business? You are grossly at fault in this situation by hiding the facts from the public you “serve”.  If you are tired of the Congress trying to make you the villain, don’t make it so hard to get to the truth.

Just say AHHH (while we shove this down your throat).

December 6, 2009

42% want Federal Government to address health care (Rasmussen Polls).

“You can’t write a bill based on CBO, you have to write a bill based on what’s best for the country and get CBO to score it,” Schumer said. “It’s all in good faith and good spirit…It’s complicated. It’s many issues, and it takes awhile,”  — Chuck Schumer

That’s the deal with these Progressives. They work on the arrogant assumption that they know better than “We the People” what we need.  No need for you to worry about inalienable rights endowed by your Creator, when we have these guys to decide what our rights should be.  Why wouldn’t they worry about that Rasmussen poll?  They are sure that they can buy enough votes with the entitlement end of this plan that the 68% of us who want them to  quit it, won’t matter.  It worked for Mary Landrieu.

In case you are wondering, here is the list that is working over the weekend with the White House to get to a compromise “Public Option” that they think they can pass.

Chuck Schumer – NY
Harry Reid – NV
Jay Rockefeller – WV
Sherrod Brown – OH
Tom Harkin – IA
Russ Feingold – WI
Mary Landrieu – LA
Ben Nelson – NE
Tom Carper – DE
Mark Pryor – AR
Blanche Lincoln – AR
Joe Lieberman – CT

Economic Stimulus or Bailouts and the Bathtub

December 5, 2009

Back in the ’80s I was working for a major US corporation that was trying to manufacture and market a computer to the consumer market before most consumers had any idea they wanted computers. The people in charge of marketing and sales came upon the idea of offering all sales outlets a no-risk stocking plan. To the best of my recollection, the way it worked was that an outlet could warehouse and stock as many as they wanted. Payment was only due upon final sale to a customer. In a nutshell, they created a massive distributed stocking pipeline that was then filled with product that was technically still owned by the company. Sales were entered on the books when the product shipped from the factory, ignoring the non-standard net-due agreements. There were plenty of people in the company who raised the alarm early-on that the plan violated accepted accounting practices. They pointed out that we were hiring, expending resources, and consuming material based on I.O.U.’s written to ourselves. The proponents kept pointing to the “sales” numbers; in their minds, eventual profits were assured.

However, once stores figured out that most consumers didn’t know they wanted computers, they began to want their stocking space back. When they product began to be returned, all that creative book keeping began to come unraveled. The company donated computers to schools until they were saturated. Truckloads then went in the local landfill. Hundreds of technicians that I helped hire and train had to find other work.

The “economic stimulus” bill kind of works the same way, though there are a few different possible scenarios.

  1. The government removes money from the economy by taxing businesses and individuals, and places it into the economy by giving it to other businesses or individuals. On the macro scale, this is a little like bailing water out of the bath tub and pouring it back into the same bath tub. The people doing the bailing get counted as the recipients of “created” jobs. On the micro scale, how this looks depends on whether one is on the removing end or receiving end of the redistribution. One thing to keep in mind in assessing this approach is that the people who had money to be taxed are the ones who had figured out how to make a profit (and create jobs) and the “bailees” are those who had not figured out how to make a profit or create jobs. Which do you want to reward?
  2. The government prints money and places it into the economy by giving it to businesses and individuals. This might seem to avoid the taxes of (1) but in practice it works the same way by diluting the profits and property of the ones who had previously been making things go. Say you invest in company A which issues 100 shares of stock with the potential of a total profit $10 per (initial) share in two years. After one year, the company runs out of operating capital and issues another 100 shares of stock without any real upside to the valuation or eventual potential. Your expected gain just went down by half.
  3. The government borrows money to accomplish 2, with all of the detriment thereof, plus the added benefit of interest owed.

All of these approaches incorporate a cardinal rule of politics: the politicians decide how to redistribute the money removed from the economy in such a way as to maximize the likelihood of reelection.  Can this work?  Let’s  say I take money from Bill Gates for example, and give it to nine other “deserving” individuals.  Bill won’t like it.  But he only gets one vote, even though we took enough to get nine others to vote for me.  That’s the root of the problem we have now.  Politicians have become experts at bribing people to vote for them.  Voters vote based on perceived personal benefit rather than on any kind of principals.   It takes uncommon character for an individual to voluntarily refuse the government windfall because he recognizes that it is making him complicit in the Progressive plot to inject government into every transaction and decision.

I’m going to have to restate that quote from Alexis de Tocqueville:  “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

Nothing new under the sun.

December 4, 2009

“But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land You gave our forefathers so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces.   Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings You have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress. Nehemiah 9:36, 37

With passage of the health care bill, the government will rule over our bodies.  “They” have been ruling over our cattle (and other livelihood) since the 16th amendment was ratified February 3, 1913.

But back up a little to Nehemiah 9:28  — “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in Your sight. Then You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to You again, you heard from heaven, and in Your compassion You delivered them time after time.

You know what to do.  If not, here is a hint: 2 Chronicles 2:14 — if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

A Day Late and a Dollar Short …

December 1, 2009

… where I came from that colloquialism is used to describe someone who exhibits lackluster commitment toward achieving true success.  The Commander in Chief is ninety days late and a fair number of troops short on his “strategy” for Afghanistan.  I have been reading the declassified version of the report that General McChrystal delivered to the Secretary of Defense on August 30th.  Today is December 1st.  The General made a compelling argument about time being of the essence in that report.  His strategy is clear and cogent and makes irrefutable common sense.  I pray that God will uphold our troops in spite of the lack of support in the Oval Office.  I have never before in my lifetime questioned that the President was on the same side as American troops in the field.  God help us.