The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” says a proverb often attributed to Yogi Berra. Imagine the world of freedom, or lack of it. Who could foresee the technologies that make our lives so rewarding and convenient? The same technologies have us all under the government’s giant microscope. Thankfully, the brave have turned the microscope around.
In the months since Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the spying that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been perpetrating upon Americans and foreigners, some of the NSA's most troublesome behavior has not been a part of the public debate.
National Treasury Union President Colleen M. Kelly recently described the 2014 IRS budget allocation as “woefully inadequate.” But the agency has not proven itself to be an efficient steward of taxpayer dollars. Here are ten ways the IRS lost the trust of the American people.
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Given how poorly states like California and Illinois have funded the pension funds for their own employees, one would think that this would stop dead in its tracks any plan to have the government assist in managing private sector funds too. The spate of recent activity, however, suggests otherwise.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The problem for NSA apologist is that when guys like Snowden disclose that the government conducts comprehensive surveillance in ways that would have made 1984’s O’Brien drool, it puts the entire progressive agenda in jeopardy.
The east coast and parts of the southern U.S. were to varying degrees paralyzed by blizzards a few weeks ago. The snow as expected rendered the roads treacherous, and in anticipation of slick streets, shoppers flocked to the grocery stores in advance.The rush into grocery stores, and its aftermath, offers worthwhile lessons in economics.First up, […]
The financial world is plodding along like a drunken sailor avoiding debt collectors by keeping no cash in his wallet. It’s not the kind of calm that’s going to last or end well. But the storm will have to wait until after the Olympics.What a game! We’ve never watched ice hockey closely before. But watching […]
“When they come for my gun, they will have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands,” is a common refrain I often hear from the Neo-Cons when there is a threat, credible or otherwise, that the U.S. government is going to take their firearms.And, when I hear this crazy talk, I agree with […]
The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self-sufficient.But our systems of state charity — aka welfare — have too frequently had the opposite effect: They have actually created dependency. It is time to rethink the way we help people.I’m going to […]
In times of war and national emergency, it’s sometimes necessary to sacrifice civil liberties to secure vital gains in public safety. In those cases, we may have to accept a loss of privacy or freedom rather than invite mass slaughter of Americans.The National Security Agency’s domestic phone records collection is not one of those.Never have […]
President Obama crowed in his State of the Union speech about the economy, even mentioning “a rebounding housing market.” Maybe he was referring to friends in high places, like the seller of Penthouse One in New York, which just closed for $50.9 million, all cash. Millions of mere-mortal homeowners likely wanted to throw something at […]
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is acting in a bipartisan way to cover up the biggest single threat to the bipartisan political alliance that is stripping America of its wealth: the United States Congress.There is no question that the following policy is bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are completely agreed that the following information […]
Recent difficulties with implementing the Affordable Care Act have increased opposition to the program. A majority of Americans now oppose it. Problems with the HealthCare.gov website are in all likelihood temporary. However, there are serious long-term problems, particularly considering long-term finance and labor supply issues. Given the mounting difficulties with and growing concerns about the […]
Amidst all the revelations about how the American people, many of whom are absolutely convinced they live in a free society, have their telephone calls, emails, website visits, and who knows what else under surveillance by their own government, let’s not forget the massive infringements on financial privacy that have gone on for decades.Consider, for […]
Image: ShutterstockBitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem, along with alleged co-conspirator Robert Faiella, was arrested by federal authorities last week for allegedly laundering more than $1 million worth of Bitcoins. This is a tiny amount compared to the largest drug-and-terrorism money laundering case ever. Yet when British bank HSBC was found guilty in 2012 of laundering billions, […]
Do you trust your doctor? Most patients assume their doctor is working in their best medical interests whenever he or she orders a diagnostic test or recommends a particular treatment. Customers might wonder whether an unscrupulous auto mechanic is being truthful when he recommends a brake job or a new transmission. But most patients trust […]
The exercise had an awesome name, inspired by the movies: “Quantum Dawn 2.”On July 18, scads of U.S. banks, stock exchanges and government agencies took part in a digital fire drill — a practice run in the event all of Wall Street came under massive cyberattack.This isn’t the first time banks have come under an […]
The faces of the Detroit bankruptcy are the thousands of pensioners whose promised benefits are suddenly part of the restructure negotiation. When Motown filed for Chapter 9 last July, the city had $11.5 billion in unsecured liabilities. The vast majority of this was pension and health care benefits owed to retired city employees.The images of […]
So you’ve maneuvered the Obamacare website, plugged in your top-secret information and found out how much you are forced to pay to avoid a fine.And for some of you, it turns out you qualify for a government subsidy — making the premium sound like a bargain. But signing on that line to accept the government’s […]
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”As the inequality gap grows, there is an ideological battle unfolding in the West.On the one hand, there are those who think government can fix things. It must do more, tax more, […]
On Feb. 7 the United States will once again reach its statutory debt limit, meaning it cannot legally borrow any more money. Since the obvious option of cutting spending to match the amount of revenue that the government collects is off the table for some inexplicable reason, Congress will have to pass a new, higher […]
The New York Times published an interminable article on health care recently. Plenty of facts — how scrupulous are these journalists! — but the article displayed absolutely no comprehension of the basics of cause and effect. I was left wondering about the whole point.The article details how the health care system rewards specialists to an […]
For critics of the surveillance state, it is tempting to see President Obama’s speech a few weeks ago as a partial victory: Prompted by Edward Snowden’s leaks and the public pressure for National Security Agency reforms, he announced significant changes to the program that collects and stores information about all telephone calls. And he promised […]
Government has a serious problem. It’s got nothing worthwhile to do. All the cool things in life come from the private sector, and this is more obvious than ever. The market is creating whole worlds before our eyes, while the government seems ever more like a hopeless anachronism.
Government’s life depends on public frenzy about some grand task it is seeking to accomplish. But today, there is no epic struggle, no grand historic project, no leading us to the light, no vanquishing evil and all those other things government used to claim to do.
It has certainly flopped as the Savior of the Economy. It can’t educate the kids, it can’t give us riches and it can’t even deliver mail.
So its idle hands do the devil’s work. Government grabs our money and dishes it out, roughs people up in the name of safety or security or whatever and otherwise hectors and prods us in a billion dumb ways that make it harder and harder to achieve a better life.
Oh, but wait! Let’s not forget the War on Terror. Surely, there is a job worth doing.
Just last week, the headlines blared that government authorities had done it again. They had marvelously protected the homeland from a catastrophic bombing. The plot, fortunately foiled, involved an amazing bomb sewn into underwear, to be worn on another U.S. flight.
But the U.S. officials intervened and saved the day. They bombed the heck out of the nasty terror cell, slaughtered a few of these vermin. Ah, the world is safe for another day.
This is what we were told. I saw the headlines and smelled a rat, but I moved on. But then the headlines continued the next day and the next. You know how this happens. You finally relent and read the thing because the editors think it is important and, of course, it is irresponsible not to be “in the know.”
But by the time I actually started paying attention to the latest act in this security theater, the story had changed — not just a little, but a lot. It turns out that the U.S. had an agent inside this terrorist operation. He was a Saudi national in the pay of the CIA, and he was operating in Yemen. Pretty exotic stuff.
The details continued to pour out. This guy was not just an informant. He actually delivered the real bomb to the CIA! Now, that’s an effective agent. Right? It seems so. What’s more, he was the actual guy who was going to carry out this operation.
And the operation itself? A suicide bombing. He volunteered to die. He was given the bomb that he would use. He took the bomb to the CIA. To what extent he was the actual plotter, the guy who talked others into this whole thing and whether the bomb even worked — these things are all unknown. All that is known is that this unnamed informant turns out to be the terrorist in question and that he himself did all of this on behalf of the CIA.
Now, let’s just say you are an Islamic follower in Yemen and like nearly everyone else in this region, you are pretty fed up with U.S imperialism. This young punk from Saudi Arabia suggests a plot to blow up an American airliner. Maybe this sounds interesting and epic, but maybe somewhat reckless.
In fact, you are going to be pretty suspicious of this whole idea, but he is driving everyone crazy with demands that he be given a bomb. Then he even suggests that he be the suicide bomber. You might be thinking, “Hmm, whatever else, at least this plot could result in one fatality: this stupid punk from Saudi Arabia!
“Here’s your bomb. Knock yourself out. Break more than a leg.”
I, of course, have no idea if this is what happened. But the CIA’s involvement here compromises the narrative enormously.
As David Shipler wrote in The New York Times:
“The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.
“But all these dramas were facilitated by the FBI, whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naively played their parts until they were arrested.”
In the Middle Ages, there was a profession called the wine taster. His job was not to discern the vintage or tell if the bouquet had a hint of blackberry. His job was to make sure the wine was not poison.
But let’s say many years went by and none of the wine was poison. The wine taster started getting nervous for his job and profession. So he went around the city and tried to get people to poison wines. He made himself a presence among all the vandals and vagrants and volunteered to do the poisoning himself.
If the news of his mischief came out, do you think he would have been a hero or a villain? It seems that he would have been and should have been completely washed up. He was going around trying to get people to poison wines as a way of maintaining his job. This is a moral outrage. He would surely be out of work.
This is what the government is doing to us these days. It is trying to inspire terrorism and then claiming credit for having discovered it. Then it scares people into thinking that their job is extremely important, and therefore, without it, we would all be sunk.
In other words, this looks less like national security and ever more like a racket.
People say that terrorists are desperate cowards. Maybe. But then what phrase is left for a government that does this sort of thing as a way of maintaining its lease on life in times when ever more people are fed up with the whole game?