Monthly Archives: March 2010

Quote of the Day, Polish Edition

Today’s QotD comes from our housekeeper. Magda moved to the US from Poland several yeas ago. In Poland, she was a professional (an accountant, I think). Here, she cleans houses for about $20 an hour. In Poland, she had access all the grand services of European Socialism, including, of course, healthcare.  She came here to better her life.

She asked my wife what she thought about the health care bill passing, and after my wife’s response, she said:

It will be just like at home.  If you need something special, like an MRI, you will have to wait a year.  It’s OK for regular things, but for special, you need to pay to get care faster.

There’s a reason people give up their lives and leave their homeland to move here.  There’s a reason people risk their lives to travel 90 miles in the water using not much more than an inner tube to get to our shores.

We are slowly getting rid of those reasons.  When they’re gone, where will people run to freedom?


“Idiot” might not be strong enough

After a recent police involved shooting, the Baltimore Police Commissioner refers to the dead criminal as an ‘idiot’.  Apparently, that upset grandma.

Family members were outraged by the comments from Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III. On television after officers Jordan Moore and Keith Romans were shot Sunday on McElderry Street, he called Miller an “idiot” and said shooting at police “defies logic.”

“If I could meet the commissioner I’d punch him in the mouth,” said Miller’s 80-year-old grandmother, Daisy Dawson. “And I don’t care where they’d lock me up. I’d leave my fist inside his mouth.”

Police stood by the statement.

“People can form their own conclusions about someone who pulls out an illegal gun in an attempt to kill two police officers,” said the department’s chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi. “I think there are many people who feel that ‘idiot’ and ‘moron’ doesn’t go far enough.”

I’m normally not one to immediately believe a police version of events, but in this case, the guy actually shot two cops.  I’m not sure what other questions need to be addressed.  Yes, he’d still be alive if we didn’t have draconian drug laws, but he shot at cops to get out of a pot charge.  I think I’d shoot for jury nullification or something.

Government success!

Well, if you think moving lots of money from productive uses to non productive uses (out of the pockets of consumers to purchase and destroy cars) is success, then Cash for Clunkers worked!  Because it didn’t have any other positive effect.

Eventually, we’ll learn.  The question is whether it will matter when we do.

This is pretty telling

From the Pew Research Center, a word cloud of what we think of Congress

Shortly before the House vote, the Pew Research Center asked Americans to provide the one word that best describes their current impressions of Congress. The results were overwhelmingly negative. Of those offering a response, 86% said something negative while just 4% gave a positive one-word description. The three most frequently offered terms were dysfunctional (21 people offered this), corrupt (20) and some version of selfish (19). Many of the words reflected perceptions that Congress has been unable or unwilling to enact legislation (inept, confusing, gridlock, etc.).

Please note that the figures shown in the chart represent the actual number — not the percentage — of people offering each word. With such a wide range of terms volunteered, no single word was offered by more than 3% of the 749 people asked the question.

Here’s hoping they get Changed ™ in November.

Link via Hit and Run

Campaign contributions trump the citizens. Again.

Senator Zirkin tried, but failed to get an amendment passed that would ‘allow’ Maryland residents to receive shipments of wine, which as of today, is still a legal product.

The move would have upset an uneasy compromise reached last week between proponents of direct shipping – a majority of the 47 senators – and Sen. Joan Carter Conway, the head of the health committee and a unwavering opponent of the bill. They agreed to amend a direct shipping study to Conway’s Winery Modernization Act, a bill that includes a slate of technical changes to winery law. (Here’s our latest story on the winery legislation in the General Assembly, and our longer overview.)

Zirkin’s gambit prompted nearly 30 minutes of debate on the Senate floor, with some direct shipping proponents urging him to give up his amendment so as not to scuttle the modernization bill, and others clamoring for a chance to put the idea to a full-Senate vote.

Sen. Delores G. Kelley, D-Baltimore County, said her office received more than 900 calls from direct shipping supporters this year.

“I must keep my word and I must support this, because apparently it’s the only way it will come before us,” Kelley said.

In the end, Zirkin acquiesced to those who asked him to withdraw his amendment – “I wish you had done that 25 minutes earlier,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller deadpanned – but not before Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick and Washington, tried to force a vote on the issue. He took the unusual step of resisting Zirkin’s attempt to withdraw his own amendment, calling for vote on the motion.

But now, all those people who say they are for direct shipping being legal don’t actually have to vote on it and put the contributions from the distributors at risk.  Well done, Senate, well done.

A short lesson on consumers, producers, and trade

A quick Econ lesson from Don Boudreaux, short enough for an elevator ride

Consider the following example: you fly to New York City.  You get a cab at LaGuardia Airport and ask the driver to take you to Times Square in Manhattan – which is west of LaGuardia.  Soon, though, you notice your cab headed east.

“Where are you going?” you inquire.

“To Times Square, but via Montauk,” the driver responds.

“Montauk!  That’s a hundred miles east of here, and Times Square is west of here!  What the heck are doing?!”

Your driver informs you that the taxicab business isn’t just for riders; its for drivers, too.  Drivers need incomes, and his income of late has been too low to enable him to pay his bills.  “So,” your driver announces, “by first going out to Montauk before heading to Times Square, I’ll make a lot more money off of you than I would if I drove you directly to Times Square.  You’ll get there, but just not as quickly or as inexpensively as you would if I drove you their directly.  Relax and enjoy the view.”

The above little tale sounds nuts.  No taxi driver would do such a thing and justify his actions in that way.

But what the fictional driver in my little story does differs in no fundamental way from what producers everywhere do when they succeed in getting government to protect them from competition – for all such protection involves government preventing consumers from striking the best deals they can find.

Remember the Louisiana Florist license?  Same idea.  Central planners simply can not know enough to make better choices than all individuals.

I’m just not that worked up about it

As I’m sure you know, the House passed the Senate version of health care ‘reform’.  As I’m also sure you know, there’s a lot of hand wringing and celebration, depending on your perspective.

I’m not all that worked up about it.  I’m actually far more angry that my money is being used to buy votes than I am about what they were voting on, although I’m certainly not a supporter of passing this bill.

Here’s why I’m not worked up:

It’s not all that different from the current system. Sure, it’s going to be a less effective and more expensive version of the current system, but at least a lot of the costs and redistribution will be transparent.  We weren’t going to move towards what I’d like (and what would work), which is a system where the patient is the consumer and pays most of the costs at the time of service (fee for service).

I can provide for myself. I suggested previously that you plan for Obamacare.   I will not need to rely on the government for my health care, so plans can get worse, they can ration care, I will always be able to pay my own way if I need to get better care.  They can talk all they want about making care the same for everyone, but they can’t actually do it.  So while the rest of you move towards more expensive less effective care, I will be in a position to spend my own money and get whatever I need.  Sure, my taxes will go up, sure costs will go up, but I either can handle it or will work to be able to handle it.

It’s unconstitutional, and I have some faith in the Supreme Court. Might be 5-4, but right now, I’m pretty sure when the challenges get to the Court, most, if not all, of this law will be ruled unconstitutional.  Because it is… nowhere does the Constitution give Congress the power to do this.

This vote will destroy the power of the Left for 20 years. I’m completely convinced the Left has committed suicide with this.  Congress will learn just what Change ™ means in November, and President Obama will be replaced in 2012.  My hope is that we will see a more limited government movement, with the power struggle between big government Republicans and new small government Republicans and Libertarians, giving Liberty an actual shot.

My final point:  if you are counting on the government to take care of you, expect to be disappointed.

Quote of the Day, healthcare edition

Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek says

Putting any part of the economy into the hands of politicians is like putting the space program into the hands of astrologers.

And no, I’m not surprised at Donna Edwards lack of intelligence.

I’m not the only one

I flipped past the NASCAR Bristol race today on my way to the NCAA tournament.  Normally, I wouldn’t miss a Bristol race, but I no longer take NASCAR seriously.

I’ve never seen a Bristol race without every seat filled.  Looked to me they were at 2/3 capacity today.  At Bristol, supposedly the hardest race ticket to get.

I guess I’m not the only one turning them off.  We’ll see how the ratings go.

Quick sports post

Two things.

First, the NCAA Mens’ Basketball Tournament might be my second favorite sporting event behind the World Cup.  The difference is that I like soccer, and don’t really care much about college hoops, but I love the tournament.  Love the upsets.

Second, I have the solution to the NFL OT problem.  No need for this foolishness

If the team that falls behind by three points on the first series also kicks a field goal, then the game would continue under current sudden death rules.

Clearly, after moving the kickoff back, the team winning the toss had an advantage, and statistically that’s been shown.  Instead, the players union needs to change its collective skirt, man up, and play an extra period.  15 minutes is too long?  Fine, play 10, or 7.  But play a timed overtime.  If it’s tied after that, it’s a tie, in the playoffs, go to sudden death.

There is no other solution other than leaving it be.

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