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Views on the News

March 20, 2010

Views on the News*

When comprehensive immigration reform was proposed it failed because government demonstrated it was unable to fulfill its previous commitments, and it still can’t be trusted on immigration, much less on health care reform. President Obama was presented with a three-page blueprint for a bipartisan agreement to overhaul the nation's immigration system, but the proposal's viability is threatened by politics surrounding the healthcare debate. This blueprint included tougher border security, a program to admit temporary immigrant workers and a biometric Social Security card that would prevent people here illegally from getting jobs. In 2006 when comprehensive immigration reform was last proposed, lack of trust in government doomed this comprehensive reform. The most egregious underachievement was the inability to finish building the border fence between Mexico and the United States despite years of effort and billions spent. Unfortunately the border fence still has not been completed, despite being downsized and after spending billions on the effort, again raising government trust as a critical immigration issue. For more than a year, health care has sucked most of the energy out of the Congress, and using reconciliation to push healthcare through will make it much harder to come together on a topic as important as immigration. The health care issues are percentage of people covered, health care costs, health insurance premiums, health insurance availability, and defensive medical procedures. Although labeled health care reform, in reality health care is already universally available. The administration focus has been to take over the health insurance industry as a means to control health care delivery and quality. Just as with comprehensive immigration reform, lack of trust in government has doomed comprehensive health care reform, since the Medicare entitlement is already bankrupt and Obama has ignored this problem in his haste to control one sixth of the economy. Government has proven again and again that it can’t be trusted to fulfill it’s current commitments, much less new and expanded reform requirements, especially since this behavior doomed comprehensive immigration reform in the past and has doomed comprehensive health care reform for the future.

(“Senators give Obama a bipartisan plan on immigration” by Peter Nicholas dated March 12, 2010 published by Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-immigration12-2010mar12,0,5784564.story )

 

Obama and the “progressives” in this administration are so impressed with themselves that they are unable to listen to the American people rejecting their ideas and the direction they are envisioning. Conservatives don’t worship the past but they see it as a valid reference point in decision-making about the future. Those who fashion themselves more “progressive” suggest we should go into the future experimentally and without the safety net of tried-and-true precedence. When certain ideas and ideals from the past are resurrected in spite of the fact that they have never worked anytime or anywhere, these “visionaries” are convinced that the reason they failed before is because those sincere people way back when were simply not as enlightened as we are today. The term for this hubris is political gnosticism. The term gnosticism is from the Greek and carries the idea of knowledge, but is especially related to various forms of superior or esoteric knowledge. Basically, a gnostic is a puffed-up know-it-all who has greater powers of insight and discernment than mere mortals. In political terms these “best and brightest of the best and brightest” flock together just knowing that if they could run things the way Plato envisioned in his Republic, in other words, as a great big, all-seeing, all-knowing, political aristocracy, the world would be a better place. The new political gnostics don’t trust markets or anything else they can’t control, so they seek such control as a concession to their brilliance. Gnostics think they always have a better idea than average every day people, so we should blindly trust them. It is hard to pull off political gnosticism without arrogance and the propensity to impatiently lecture the moronic masses. Obama is always the least experienced and probably least qualified in any room, since in fact he has no real experience in anything. A messianic image was part of his campaign, and apparently he bought this fantastic image. At every turn, the American people, when given the chance via ballots, rallies or meetings with legislators, have sent not-so-subtle signals to Washington that they don’t want bigger government, they don’t want ObamaCare, and they are not happy with what is going on. It is too bad we have so few political leaders who have actual experience these days building something or sweating a payroll... real experience can make all the difference.

(“The Practice of Political Gnosticism” by David Stokes dated March 14, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/DavidStokes/2010/03/14/the_practice_of_political_gnosticism

Obama the Entrepreneurship Expert” by Monty Pelerin dated March 15, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/obama_the_entrepreneurship_exp.html )

 

It seems that every other day, one hears of another "crisis" that must be dealt with immediately by government expansion, and we are warned that we need the government to protect us. We are asked to sacrifice, and we are told that there is no time to think, and we must act immediately so Washington can do the thinking for us.  The American people instinctively sense that there is something terrible happening, something that is antithetical to the indomitable spirit of benevolence, self-reliance, independence, and freedom that has characterized our nation from its beginning. Our government has been hijacked by collectivist radicals whose every act is designed to expand their power and chip away at our freedom. The essence of what has made this country great is the notion that each individual owns his own life, that every moment of that life is infinitely valuable and irreplaceable, that his sacred moral right is the freedom to live and pursue his own happiness. Each of us has the right to work, produce, and enjoy the fruits of their own achievements, and our only obligation toward others is to allow them that same freedom.  Protecting the right of each individual to exist and live as he chooses, so long as he does not infringe on the same rights of others, is the ultimate purpose and moral justification of a rational government in a free society. When one asserts that capitalism is the best system to achieve "the common good," one is conceding the basic premise of collectivism: that the moral purpose of a government is to not merely protect, but provide for its citizens. And since it produces nothing, the only way a government can distribute wealth to some citizens is by first taking that wealth by force from those who have produced it. Once the legitimacy of actual, objectively definable rights has been undermined by the tenets of self-sacrifice, needs take the place of rights. There can be no such thing as a "right" to violate the rights of others.  A simple test for determining if a purported "right" is legitimate is this: Does it require the compulsory, active participation of someone else? This means, does the satisfaction of this right require others not merely to refrain from interfering with someone who claims this right, but to take some positive action, such as providing goods or services? For the reasons described above, every form of welfare state is fundamentally, irreconcilably at odds with legitimate individual rights. There are two options: a free society with a strictly limited government, or a runaway state with a limitless claim on individual lives. Those who have hijacked our government know this, they have made their choice, and their constant acts of secrecy and dishonesty show that they know that their goals are indefensible. The upstanding, responsible citizens of America must stop yielding to intimidation by the snarling leftists who claim that they have a right to do as they wish with our earnings and lives because they claim that they want to help people. Free people can allocate their own resources any way they wish, but they have no right to ours, and when the collectivists throw out the accusation that our refusal to submit to tyranny is selfish, we must proudly proclaim that they are correct! 

(“America’s political Crisis” by Deborah B. Sloan dated March 17, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/americas_political_crisis.html )

 

Entitlement spending could take several routes to become a fiscal apocalypse, but doing nothing will allow Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to accumulate massive debts; and if reforms target maintaining all current benefits, taxes will eat up much of America's income. Without Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, the budget would be roughly in balance over the coming decades, but with these programs, and without reform, a fiscal crisis is inevitable. To balance the budget over the next 25 years would require an immediate and permanent 30 percent increase in all federal taxes. Even though more than half of government spending goes to entitlements, the era of entitlements is a relatively recent phenomenon in the history of our country and within the space of a human lifespan, our society has become a culture conditioned to accept (and expect) entitlements as the norm without questioning the consequences. It has been a very effective strategy to enlarge government. Social Security was originally intended to provide supplemental retirement income for workers (and their spouses) after they retired and reached the age of 65. At the time Social Security was enacted, it was palatable to the American public and a reasonably safe bet for the federal government, since most people didn't live long enough to become eligible. For several decades, Social Security did not appear to be the obvious Ponzi scheme that it is. Before too long, Social Security was funding all sorts of things for which it was never intended (e.g., disability and dependent children) because Congress viewed it as a giant vote-buying machine. Further, they saw that great big pile of money from Social Security payroll taxes and couldn't help but spend it and replace it with worthless IOUs. Perhaps more worrisome, within thirty years of Social Security's being enacted, the average life expectancy increased to about 70. As a result, over time, there were more and more living eligible recipients and fewer workers per recipient, but by this time, it was politically impossible to stop the Social Security juggernaut. What was originally envisioned as a supplemental income came to be viewed as a total government-funded pension. If the money collected through payroll taxes had not been spent as fast as it came in, Social Security might still be solvent today. Estimates vary, but right now, the Social Security Administration is posting an unfunded liability of about $38 trillion. For the first time, Social Security is paying out more in benefits than it is collecting in payroll taxes. Had Social Security never been enacted, or had it been reformed when we had a chance, our country would be in much better financial health now. We are today witnessing the inevitable implosion of the largest Ponzi scheme ever devised by mankind, so now Social Security essentially defines "unsustainable." The obvious remedies are to raise the age of eligibility to at least 70 (today the average life expectancy is nearly 79), increase Social Security withholding taxes, establish some form of means testing (i.e., don't pay Social Security benefits to retiring millionaires), and perhaps somehow correlate total lifetime benefits paid with total contributions. These measures will buy us time, but they won't fix the fundamental problem. In short, it is utterly impossible to continue down the path FDR established 75 years ago. If Social Security doesn't pose enough of a threat, then there's this: Left unchecked, Medicare will utterly bankrupt the nation. Medicare was enacted in 1965 following other "Great Society" welfare measures. At the time, the average life expectancy was 70, and more significantly, medical care was not as sophisticated or expensive as it is today. To LBJ and the liberal Congress of 1965, Medicare appeared to be a relatively small-ticket vote-buying initiative. The problems Medicare (and Medicaid) present today nearly dwarf Social Security, but we can employ the same tactics to buy some time while we formulate a more realistic solution for the long run. The fact is that our current entitlement programs threaten to consume virtually 100% of GDP if left unchecked. In truth, we can't go on much longer without making some unpopular changes. Why Obama is pushing for an expansion of our current entitlement system defies logic. We can't even afford to maintain the programs we already have. While it’s true that Social Security and Medicare have remained popular even as the programs threaten to bankrupt the country, they are different from ObamaCare because at least conceptually, everybody pays into them and everybody receives benefits. Yet ObamaCare would be a welfare program in which one segment of the country receives benefits, while others have their coverage disrupted, and are punished with higher taxes, longer wait times, and poorer quality of care.  All Americans should save for their own retirement and health-care needs. Only those whose savings are insufficient should receive supplements. Let us pray that all of us wake up from our entitlement stupor in time to enact necessary changes before the entire nation falls prey to a true financial and social crisis.

(“The Land of Entitlements” by David S. Van Dyke dated March 13, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/the_land_of_entitlements.html

Entitlement Apocalypse” by Andrew G. Biggs dated March 22, 2010 published by American Enterprise Institute at http://www.aei.org/article/101761

:”Why ObamaCare Would Fail” by Philip Klein dated March 19, 2010 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2010/03/19/why-obamacare-would-fail )

 

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac crashed in 2008, after guaranteeing some $1.5 trillion in junk mortgages, and are still hemorrhaging red ink today, which is why the Obama Administration removed the ceiling on cash that these two so-called government-sponsored entities (GSEs) can receive from Uncle Sam. Taxpayers might have thought that given their spectacular collapse and the accounting scandals preceding it, these entities would disappear into the night. Think again. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now dominate the housing market as never before: There has been a dramatic shift to government dependence for mortgages. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will likely reemerge as what they were before: enterprises that unfairly dominate the market because of the assumed guarantee of their debt by Uncle Sam. That continued tacit federal backing sharply lowers borrowing costs for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, putting would-be private competitors at an impossible disadvantage, just as it did before the fall when these ugly twins manipulated their ties to Uncle Sam to monopolize the field. To appeal to voters, Congress will again pressure the new Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make it easier for constituents to get mortgages. The FDIC, which has been around for three-quarters of a century, still can't charge premiums based on the riskiness of bank loans and other assets. The Bush Administration botched an opportunity in 2008 to put these entities in receivership, with the idea of either liquidating or privatizing them. A winding down of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would have led to a birth of new players, well-capitalized and ready and willing to buy, package and sell home mortgages--and subject to failure. The Obama Administration won't formally nationalize the current Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because that would swell the official budget deficit, and it certainly won't countenance the idea of privatizing them. That will have to wait until we have a Republican President and a Congress with enough new members who won't have been corrupted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the way previous occupants on Capitol Hill were. Certainly public opinion will back privatization and the two companies should be recapitalized, broken up into at least a half-dozen entities and sent out into the real world, with no ties to Washington.

(“Ugly Beasts Loom Again” by Steve Forbes dated March 29, 2010 published by Forbes Magazine at http://www.forbes.com/2010/03/10/fact-and-comment-opinions-steve-forbes.html?boxes=opinionschanneleditors )

 

One-sixth of the U.S. economy is threatened with a takeover by the federal government on the erroneous rationale that "tens of millions of people in the U.S. are without health care insurance, and therefore are being denied access to adequate health care," but this is an absolute lie. Nor does some large number of people "die every day from lack of health insurance coverage." That too is a lie. Access to the health care providers (professional services) and medicine (products) of the best health care system in the world is already universal and available to every U.S. citizen, legal resident, illegal alien, prisoner, detainee, or visitor -- regardless of whether anyone is covered by any insurance policy or health plan. For heaven's sake, even the illegal aliens have figured out that anyone who walks into an emergency room is required by law (EMTALA) to be treated, regardless of the person's ability to pay. The Biggest Lie: Without health care insurance, there is no access to health care. Health care insurance coverage is but one method of paying for health care products and services. Doctors and hospitals are quite open to accepting cash, checks, or credit cards for their services rendered and have no problem with getting paid directly -- meaning they get their money right away, don't have to fill out and file mounds of bureaucratic paperwork with insurance companies, don't have to worry about what treatments are approved and reimbursable by the insurance companies, etc. In fact, when health care is directly paid for by a patient, then issues like preexisting conditions, escalating premium rates, denied claims, dropped policies, and all of the regularly lamented shortcomings of the health insurance industry become moot. Case in point: Elective surgery such as breast augmentation is a medical procedure that isn't covered by any health insurance, but somehow, there doesn't seem to be any access issues to the procedure or lack of them occurring. Yet most people are led to believe that they simply can't afford to pay for their own health services directly. That's why they purchase health insurance, or their employer purchases it for them as an employee benefit. Any form of insurance (home, car, flood, health care, etc.) is nothing more than a financial instrument used to mitigate an unacceptable potential financial risk. Insurance doesn't work unless more people are paying into a common pool than are taking money out of it. The whole idea of insurance coverage is to spread financial risk among many people so that any one member isn't hit with some catastrophic expense should a major need occur. The whole ObamaCare health care reform debate isn't really about people who already have health insurance; rather, it's being crafted supposedly for the benefit of all those who are without coverage and who need it, but can't afford it. The law of supply and demand dictates that if 30 million or more new customers are added to a marketplace (the demand) and there is no proportional increase in the number of service providers (the supply), then prices will go up as service availability goes down -- which means that the whole system gets worse for everyone, not better. The real issue is that there are those who wish to argue that despite all the adverse (if not catastrophic) consequences of ObamaCare to the system, health care is a "basic human right" and therefore the basis for a massive new government entitlement program. There are those in our society who can afford these necessities, and there are those in our society who can't. For those who can't afford the basic human necessity of proper health care -- just like food, clothing, and shelter -- that need becomes the basis of voluntary charity and aid. Conversely, the government version of involuntary charity via taxation is called "welfare." Whether it's private charity or a government welfare program that helps people buy something they otherwise couldn't afford but need, that's fine. Just recognize that that's the issue -- not an entitled right, not an access or availability problem, not a lack of insurance policies. Now, if making health care more affordable for everyone is really the goal -- to thereby lower the threshold of who can readily pay for it directly and/or indirectly via an insurance policy, and thus reduce the necessity of charity and/or welfare for those who need assistance -- then free-market business forces and scientific and technological advances, along with increased competition -- not intrusive government forces -- are the answers. ObamaCare isn't really about making health care more available or affordable to those who need it and can't afford it. It isn't about lowering insurance costs or reducing the federal deficit. What has been proposed achieves none of these objectives. ObamaCare is the national version of MassCare, implemented in Massachusetts, that has destroyed the state economy and degraded the quality of health care, just to cover another 400,000 people. Newt Gingrich remarked that last year Democrats were passing bills without reading them, and this year, they are passing bills without voting on them. ObamaCare is simply a leviathan of a lie, whose only practical impact for generations to come will be increased welfare-state dependency on government, greater government intrusion and control over people's personal lives and privacy, reduced availability of health care providers as more of them are driven from their professions -- all of which translates to higher and higher costs, which only accelerates the country's financial death spiral.

(“The Big Lie of Health Care Reform” by Robert Gelinas dated March 13, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/the_big_lie_of_health_care_ref.html

The MassCare Massacre” by W. James Antle dated March 17, 2010 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2010/03/17/the-masscare-massacre )

 

As homegrown terrorism grabbed headlines at the end of 2009, Islamist pressure groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim American Society (MAS), and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) felt the need to look as if they were responding forcefully, but all they offered was spin and denial of the very radicalism that they themselves have helped breed. First we witnessed the typical smokescreen that attempts to paint Muslims as victims. For example on the Fort Hood massacre, MAS Freedom Foundation strongly condemned the actions of Major Nidal Hasan, but quickly segued into warnings about an anti-Muslim backlash. The national communications director of CAIR played a victim card of his own when he claimed receipt of death threats since the shooting. More obfuscation followed the terror-related arrests of five Virginia Muslim men in Pakistan, as self-appointed Islamic spokesmen could not bring themselves to acknowledge fully the roots of radicalization taking place among America's Muslims. For example, the executive director of CAIR granted that a "problem" exists in the Muslim community, yet he remained in complete denial about its source: political Islam (Islamism). Particularly illuminating was the assertion that there are no "similarities or connection," ideological or otherwise, between the disappearance of the jihadist Somali youths from Minneapolis and the jihadist young men from Virginia. MPAC did little more than pay lip service to the "problem" by calling for better Muslim community relations with law enforcement. MAS’s intentional avoidance of Islamism was most evident when he "acknowledged that the emotions of young Muslims were stirred by 'injustices' they see unfolding in places like Iraq and Afghanistan." Barely more than a week after admitting to a vague radicalization "problem," CAIR opened up the victimology playbook once more with an e-mail blast minimizing the danger of radical Islam to the U.S. and instead pins the blame on American foreign policy in the Middle East. As expected, none of these so-called leaders addressed Islamism as a real and thriving movement or recognized the fuel of anti-Americanism that perpetuates it. The contrast between the above groups and truly moderate Muslims was especially pronounced in the wake of the Fort Hood massacre. Moderates such as the founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), were out front on the fact that Hasan's actions had been motivated by his Islamist ideology. Real anti-radicalization efforts from the Muslim community require a balanced perspective that integrates our faith with our American citizenship. One can debate U.S. foreign policy, human rights abuses abroad, and democracy-promotion without poisoning the minds of Muslims and creating a childish and artificial barrier that separates them from the Western world -- thus forcing men like Nidal Hasan to choose between being a proud American and a proud Muslim. Of course, CAIR, MAS, and MPAC are not likely to change. The time has come for true American Muslims, along with politicians and the mainstream media, to stop promoting and legitimizing Islamist groups in the United States as "Muslim civil rights organizations," because they are anything but.

(“Islamists Respond to Terror Cases with Denial” by Sid Shahid dated March 14, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/islamists_respond_to_terror_ca.html )

 

In less than a year, the Mainstream Media has gone from ignoring Tea Parties; to mocking and insulting their participants; to grudging coverage with ridiculing overtones; and now finally giving wide attention to the movement, albeit grudgingly and ungraciously. The real Tea Party story is quite simple and an eloquent tribute to democracy: a genuine movement of ordinary people rising to the demands of their all-American principles. The Tea Party movement is actually a political restoration movement, one that reflects our Constitution and the precepts of limited government. The restorationists are neither anti-elitist nor anti-intellectual. It represents a fundamental difference between those who seek to provide for themselves and those who see government as provider of all material goods. The Tea Party movement is a valiant resistance to decades of profligate entitlement spending, which has had the real effect of worsening every problem it was intended to fix, landing the country, at last, in a sea of impossible debt. Tea Partiers, like the Liberty Boys of 1776, stand steadfast on the principle of equality in the rule of law, not government-ordered equality in material-world goods.  Rather than losing all hope in the American system of liberty, justice and limited government, these community-builders are rallying to express their firm commitment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law, not equality of material-world goods. The Constitution is designed to preserve liberty, not "empathy," for as any sentient person knows, empathy is entirely dependent upon which type of tyrant is sitting in the seat of judgment. We are witnessing a clash of worldviews in which, as the Tea Partiers have recognized, fence-sitting is simply not an option. Americans will now either rise to reverse the tides of socialist tyranny, which have taken root for decades, or they will oversee the bitter end of our grand experiment in democracy.

(“The Real Tea Party: Community Builders vs. Community Organizers” by Kyle-Anne Shiver dated March 14, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/the_real_tea_party_story_commu.html

Reading Tea Party Leaves” by Jonah Goldberg dated March 17, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/JonahGoldberg/2010/03/17/reading_tea_party_leaves )

 

The new and much-publicized Coffee Party movement sports a fairy-tale narrative about a spontaneous uprising of concerned Americans appalled at the Tea Parties and determined to restore civility, but the truth, easily researchable on the internet, is that plenty of left-wing establishment fingerprints are all over the birth of this supposedly spur-of-the-moment operation. It all allegedly started with a random musing in a post by Annabel Park on Facebook in which she called for an alternative to the Tea Party movement. Annabel Park is an Obama-supporter, filmmaker (she made one for the Obama campaign), and former New York Times strategy analyst, in other words, she's a “progressive” activist. CoffeePartyUSA.com apparently was being run off of a “Citizens for Webb” GoDaddy account and received support and services from liberal Astroturf Democracy in Action. At great expense, and drawing on the resources of billionaires like George Soros, the Left has created a formidable galaxy of activist organizations that help groups like the Coffee Party get going with web design, fundraising, and other technical assistance. About the time of launching the Coffee Party, Park attended what was billed as RootsCampDC at the Washington office of a liberal teachers' union called the National Education Association. The kick-off events were not well attended, probably because it is unclear what the Coffee Party is trying to do. They claim not to be opposed to the Tea Party, Park makes a point of saying that the genesis of this movement is a desire to counter the Tea Party movement. Despite the Coffee Party’s call for civilized political discourse, Park just so happens to be part of the extremely immature and uncivilized crowd that has attempted to marginalize the Tea Party movement by invoking the homophobic “tea bagger” sexual slur in her Twitter posts. It isn’t shocking that this movement is being run by partisan malcontents. While they’re busy sipping latte’s over arugula-infused crumpets, the rest of us can get down to the business of working within the democratic process to advance positive public policy solutions for all Americans.

(“Strange brew: The Coffee Party” by John O’Hara dated March 15, 2010 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2010/03/15/strange-brew-the-coffee-party/

The Coffee Party Con” by Thomas Lifson dated March 16, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/the_coffee_party_con_1.html )

 

* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news. I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning. Individual issue updates this week include:

·    Language at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/changinglanguage.php

·    Media at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/roleofmedia.php

·    Budget at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/budget.php

·    Education at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/education.php

·    Environment at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/environment.php

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.returntocommonsensesite.com