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 […]
Ah, what a weekend, with blue skies, singing birds, budding cherry blossoms and the government’s announcement that it has totalitarian control over everything. Wait, what was that last thing? It was an Executive Order released late Friday that no one on the planet seemed to notice until about 30 hours later. It is unnumbered, but called “National Defense Resources Preparedness.”
Let’s call it NDRP. The first I heard of it was Sunday morning. Something called The Examiner had a write-up about this order in which President Obama would, in the event of an emergency or even in “peacetime,” assume control of all energy, food, water, people — the whole of the material and natural world as we know it! — and claim the right to requisition professions to serve the state.
Nuts, right? Some more of the conspiracy stuff that has lately been clogging up the web. By 6 a.m., there was still only that one news story, but there were 463 forum discussions and 1,410 blog commentaries. Six hours later, there were eight news stories (none of them from a mainstream source), plus 712 forum discussions and 3,640 blog commentaries. Oh, and an uncountable number of Tweets.
How could all these paranoids be yammering on about something that hadn’t even been conformed by The New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC? No wonder the government has such trouble governing this nation of gullible oddballs.
There was only one problem: this link. Here is the order itself as hosted by the White House. You can read it with your own eyes. It was issued Friday evening, March 16, 2012, the last day of spring break for many colleges, just as most news shops had closed up for the week and people were otherwise planning barbecues and outings.
Here at Whitehouse.gov we find the announcement that “The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency,” and so therefore it must assume all control of energy, food, water, health care, equipment and, of course, people
Yes, you read that last one correctly. The executive branch claims it can perform a civilian draft of people of “outstanding experience and ability without compensation and to employ experts, consultants or organizations.” (Emphasis mine.)
The authority cited in the document is the Defense Production Act of 1950, another dictatorial imposition, but which happened to have congressional approval. The dictator this time was President Truman. It allowed him to requisition every manner of resource to fight the Korean War: to draft people into war and to enable the executive to impose wage and price controls at will.
This was the Act that Sen. Robert Taft spoke about on the campaign trail in 1952. He regarded it as unconstitutional, illegal and totalitarian, nothing more than an attempt to reclaim the total state of World War II as part of the regular powers of the state in all other times. He said it was the surest sign that we had lost our moorings as a nation.
Historians of the period regard this act as the thing that cemented in place the political culture of the Cold War, in which the government accumulated ever more weapons of mass destruction, instituted the draft, went to war with whomever and wherever and presumed total control over all industry, all while the civilian population lived in fear of nuclear holocaust.
It is no different today: an unconstitutional power grab piled on top of a previous unconstitutional power grab piled on top of previous cases. So far as I can tell — and the real experts really need to get involved here to explain the details — there is very little new here at all except that perhaps the claim that the government can force everyone into slavery without compensation, plus the addition of a strange role for the Federal Reserve.
Part III, Sec. 301(b) says: “Each guaranteeing agency is designated and authorized to: (1) act as fiscal agent in the making of its own guarantee contracts and in otherwise carrying out the purposes of section 301 of the Act; and (2) contract with any Federal Reserve Bank to assist the agency in serving as fiscal agent.”
This suggests that any federal department that is part of the executive branch can make a separate deal with the Fed to print as much money as the agency needs to do whatever it wants, without having to ask Congress for any kind of special allocation. It is also possible that this power already existed.
As the day progressed, a number of people from the “responsible” portion of the blogosphere began to say pretty much the same thing. This is nothing new. It is merely an update of what existed previously. There was an update in 1994 and one under every previous administration. There is nothing to see here: This is business as usual for the executive branch.
It’s been going on for sixty years. Make that eighty. Make that 100 if you count the wartime central planning of World War I. Actually, take it back further to the Civil War, when Lincoln assumed dictatorial powers. Or go back to the Adams administration, which criminalized sedition during a war fever over France.
True, the water in which the frog is being boiled is perhaps slightly hotter than before, but don’t blame Obama for coming up with the idea for frog soup! True, this point has some relevance for those who would try to score some political victory at the expense of the Democrats alone. What I don’t get is why this background is supposed to bring comfort to anyone who has in mind the broad interest of human liberty.
What is true now was true in 1994 and true in 1950 and true in 1932 and true in 1917. Anyone with a love of human liberty should be alarmed by the presumption of totalitarian control anytime, and especially during our own times, when there might be something we can do about it.
These powers might be old as the hills, and the battle between power and liberty is the core drama of human history, but there is a major difference this time: We have digital media that allow us to see this stuff with our own eyes.
That’s what makes the difference.