Mar 242010

Holman Jenkins explains how President Obama and Congress joined with the insurance industry to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

We’ll let Angela Braly, CEO of insurer WellPoint, take the story from here. She was recently hauled before Congress to justify her company’s proposed 39% rate hike in California. She explained the source was two-fold: rising medical costs and healthier customers dropping their coverage, forcing the sick to pick up the tab.

Now this sounds like two problems, but for WellPoint and other insurers it’s really only one problem. Once everyone is required by government mandate to buy insurance, the industry’s survival is no longer threatened: It can just pass its skyrocketing costs along to customers. Once customers can no longer refuse to buy the industry’s product, the problem of costs won’t be fixed, but it no longer is the insurance industry’s problem.

There, in that one sentence, we give you the failure of ObamaCare, the failure of the congressional health-care debate, the failure of health-care politics in this country


Under the law just signed, employers have even more incentive than they did yesterday to lavish excessive health insurance on their high-end employees. They have less incentive to cover low-end workers, or even hire them.

Mar 222010

Headline: House Passes Historic Health Bill

You’d think the Obama media would be a little more cautious about putting up headlines that label last night’s congressional action (whether you want to call it a vote or something else) as “historic.” Here are a couple of other actions I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past few days, which have also been deemed historic:

  • Reichstag passes the enabling bill, 23 March 1933
  • The First Roman Triumvirate was formed, 60BC (but kept secret, somewhat like the provisions of the health care bills)
Mar 112010

Great quote from George Will. He also tells us about a progressive president who once wanted to apply the same principle to his marriage.

Progressives are forever longing to replace the governance of people by the administration of things. Because they are entirely public-spirited, progressives volunteer to be the administrators, and to be as disinterested as the dickens.

Mar 062010

Some of the letters in Wednesday’s WSJ respond to an earlier article by saying the problem with schools isn’t tenure. Several of them mention the parents. We’ve all heard these things before, but let’s hear them out again:

More important determinants are parental support…


Your editorial really should be about “No Parent Left Behind.” Why are the parents not being held responsible for their children’s lack of will and motivation in wanting to learn? If we go back half a century and review why schools were effective, we see that the majority of parents supported the schools in their quest to educate future generations. … Get the parents on the ball as they were in the past.


at the minimum, parents also need to receive the baton their children’s teachers pass them every day after school, and work to return eager, prepared learners to the classroom the next morning.

Good points, all of them. But if the parental role is so important, why is it that we have removed schools further and further from the control of parents over the past several decades? We used to have local control of schools. Then we consolidated into bigger districts where the parents’ voice counted for little. Then we went to state control voice where it counted for even less. And now we’re moving to federal control, where the Governor of Michigan is spending her time, not looking at how schools can help children learn, but with what’s wrong with the state’s application for federal funds. Is it any wonder that parents join in expecting ever more centralized governmental authorities to do something about the lack of learning?

Mar 062010

Peter Grier, math wizard and Christian Science Monitor reporter, says the following in an article headlined, “John Patrick Bedell: Did right-wing extremism lead to shooting?

John Patrick Bedell, whom authorities identified as the gunman in the Pentagon shooting on Thursday, appears to have been a right-wing extremist with virulent antigovernment feelings.

If so, that would make the Pentagon shooting the second violent extremist attack on a federal building within the past month. On Feb. 18, Joseph Stack flew a small aircraft into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. Mr. Stack left behind a disjointed screed in which, among other things, he expressed his hatred of the government. (For more on this incident, click here.)

If so??

So what about if Bedell was not a right-wing extremist? What if he was a left-wing extremist? Would that change the count? Would that mean this would have been the 3rd violent extremist attack attack on a federal building this month? Or the first? What are the rules of addition and subtraction that we’re supposed to use here?

And what about that phrase, “among other things”? If you accept Grier’s invitation and click on the link, you find out that one of the “other things” Stack hated was corporations. If you go looking for his exact words, you find that he used language even more virulent than President Obama’s. Does this mean that President Obama is almost a rightwing extremist, too? Does Janet Napalitano know about this?

Mar 042010

The next time anyone suggests that we take seriously something that President Obama said, we should point to the media attack on Jim Bunning. The next time anyone suggests that we need higher taxes to pay for important social programs, or to bring down the deficit, or anything else, we should point to the media attack on Jim Bunning. The scandalous behavior of the media and everyone else who participated in the orchestrated smear campaign on the Senator from Kentucky shows the pointlessness of any of this.

I say orchestrated, because there is no way that anyone who pays any attention to the news or did his own thinking would have repeated the attacks on Bunning without referring to the Pay-Go legislation that President Obama and Congress had enacted just a few weeks ago. Only mindless functionaries could have failed to bring that into the discussion.

Or, maybe it’s the case that Pay-Go did come to mind, but nobody took Congress or the President seriously when that legislation was enacted. If that’s the case, there is no reason to take them seriously whey they say or do anything else.

If the news media had done its job of reporting instead of smearing, we could have had a valuable discussion. Instead of repeating the claim that one person was holding up the legislation, we could have come to grips with the points that Bunning raised in an opinion piece that came out in USA Today after the smear had done its work. Here is a quote:

Many people asked me, “Why now?” My answer is, “Why not now?” Why can’t a non-controversial measure in the Senate that would help those in need be paid for? If the Senate cannot find $10 billion to pay for a measure we all support, we will never pay for anything.

Exactly. We will never pay for anything. If the Senate couldn’t find $10 billion anywhere else in the budget to pay for this, there is no need to ever raise taxes again. It would be pointless. The government is just going to print whatever extra money it wants to spend, no matter whether we’re taxed at 10 percent or 90 percent. People may claim that we need to bring down the deficit, but if they took part in the attack on Bunning, we will know their words are worthless. If they didn’t care about the deficit when trying to find money to for a modest extension to unemployment benefits, they will never really care about the deficit, no matter what they claim. It will be a waste of time to believe them.

Mar 032010

Holman Jenkins points out how President Obama and the Democrats are desperately avoiding the one reform that might actually do something to bring down health care costs and make health care insurance available to more people. They are rushing to enact the worst possible system before people get it into their heads to enact the reforms that would create the competition for health insurance companies that Democrats claim to want (but don’t really). Such reforms could have been part of a grand compromise, but Obama and the Democrats don’t want a health care system that the people would want:

Here, Mr. Obama squanders the opportunity his presidency represented. For it’s entirely possible to visualize incorporating this insight about the proper role of insurance with a system of guaranteed coverage and individual mandates à la ObamaCare, and indeed back when Mr. Obama was believed to be smart, we would have guessed this was the direction in which he would head.

But Mr. Jenkins is slightly off target. I don’t think it’s really the case that President Obama lacks intelligence. True, he’s acting rather unintelligent about this issue, but I think it’s just an act.

The problem is that Democrats feel threatened whenever people make their own choices. They are desperately afraid that people will find out that markets can accomplish most of our health care objectives, so do what they can to disable them or corrupt them to keep them from working.

They dislike choice, whether it’s a grandma who apprehends an armed rapist instead of letting the police handle it, or customers who want to buy fresh food from their Amish neighbors, or parents who want to choose the schools for their children. They especially dislike the idea of people making important health care choices. Those are especially dangerous decisions to allow people to make, because they are consequential decisions. (At one time I thought there was an exception to this rule. I thought they wanted people to have the right to choose when it came to abortion and drugs. But with the Sarah Palin candidacy we learned that their idea of abortion choice was limited to only one choice. I’m not sure about recreational drugs. Maybe that’s still an exception to the rule.)

If there are Ten Commandments of the left, here is Commandment #1 (with apologies to Martin Luther’s Small Catechism):

  • Thou shalt have no other gods before the Great God, the State.
  • What does this mean? We should fear, loathe, and distrust markets above all things.