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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Republican alternative to Obamacare is another wrong-direction big-government boondoggle: the proper long term goal is health insurance for NOBODY

UPDATE: A week later I posted a more refined version of this at Flopping Aces.

National Review's Yuval Levin is all happy about a Republican Senate proposal to replace Obamacare with a new pile of junk. Some elements are benign, like removing barriers to interstate insurance competition. (These barriers were a problem long before Obama cranked them to the max with government-run state-specific insurance exchanges.) Other elements are massive new government interventions that are supposed to be improvements on Obamacare's massive government interventions, like the new Republican proposal to provide fully or heavily subsidized catastrophic health insurance to every American who is not way above the poverty line. (The subsidies are 100% for the poor and don't phase out until three times the poverty line.)

Levin claims that this government provision of catastrophic health care to half the nation will not be expensive:
The cost to the federal taxpayer would only be the cost of the tax credit.
Right, all we have to pay is the price, equal to one 12th of the economy (1/2 of 1/6th). Believing that wouldn't be expensive is like believing Obamacare won't be expensive but guess what? Nobody believes that anymore, not even the most low-information of low-information voters.

Obamacare needs to be thrown in the trash, lock stock and barrel, and a rapidly growing majority supports that course, but Republican lawmakers are out to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by splitting the anti-Obamacare consensus into two camps: those who want to replace Obamacare with another big government boondoggle and those who just want to get rid of it. (Ace of Spades had a post on this opposition-splitting effect the other day.)

For now the country should just go back to the way things were. The uninsured were not without health care. They were getting "free" health care by not paying their bills at county hospitals and in many emergency rooms. That was the proclaimed big problem, which Obamacare was going to fix by forcing everyone to buy insurance. Now the Republicans want to solve the problem of the uninsured getting free health care by giving the uninsured... free health care.

There is obviously no urgency to make this nominal change from de facto free health care for the poor to officially free health care for the poor. This is not something to split the anti-Obamacare consensus over. Whether free health care is the right solution is a big subject that would need to be debated. It is crazy to impose such an unnecessary and premature policy as a condition for doing what is right now both urgent and agreed upon.

Making health care free is NOT the solution: all government aid should be billed to the account of the recipient

As I have been advocating for many years, all government aid should be billed to the account of the recipient, to be paid back with full market interest according to an ability to pay formula over the life of the recipient, whether the aid be for health care, unemployment benefits, welfare, farm price supports, or Social Security, or anything else.

Many aid recipients will never have the ability to fully repay so such a system will still be costly, but billing the aid to the account of the recipient keeps incentives to responsible behavior intact, as far as it is possible to do so. That maximizes the bang-per-buck from giving aid, which means that whatever aid is given it should be given this way.

Philosophers can argue over how much aid should be given but how to give it is determined purely by economics. Every penny of aid should be billed to the account of the recipient. Keep the books straight, which also has the salutary side benefit of keeping clear who owes who. Our present system of giving aid away instead of loaning it sends the perverse signal to recipients that they must be owed, or why would society be giving them stuff?

The result of this wrong signal is a nasty, ungrateful, bitter underclass that blames its poor condition on the rest of society and responds by grabbing as much as it can, not just from social services, but through crime against people and property. The current national epidemic of blacks attacking random whites on the street is one of these byproducts. People who feel that they are owed a bitter debt often have an urge to take a pound of flesh, so make it clear: no, society does not owe you, you owe society, and here is an accounting of exactly how much and for what. You owe more than you will ever be able to repay, so don't ever pretend that it is you who are owed.

The ultimate goal is not health insurance for everybody but health insurance for NOBODY

The deeper problem with the proposed Republican alternative to Obamacare is that these stupid establishment Republicans buy into the Democratic premise that the health care market is inherently dysfunctional and in need of massive government regulation. They don't begin to understand what actually needs to be done to let this market function efficiently. Like Democrats, they just pull a bunch of  unnecessary government interventions out of their ass.

The ideal system—what any policy today should be aiming for as its long-term objective—is not a system where everybody has health insurance but a system where nobody has health insurance. Self-insurance (paying for health costs out of one's own savings) is inherently more efficient than 3rd party insurance and everyone is automatically self-insured up to their level of savings/wealth. Over time, unimpeded economic development raises the prosperity of every segment of society, moving more and more people, and eventually all people, to the point where self-insurance is the most rational choice for them. At that point everyone is paying with real money (their own money rather than insurance company money), causing them to shop for price. The result is a normal market where prices get driven down by competition and all need for regulatory cost-control disappears. That is the goal to aim for.

Ironically, Obamacare's rapid destruction of the existing health insurance industry could prompt a big step in this direction. Obamacare has already put a significant portion of the population into the ranks of the uninsured/self-insured and once the exemption on the employer mandate expires the number of the uninsured will rise dramatically. In this situation if government just vacates the field of health care regulation then a lot of the newly self-insured will likely remain self-insured.

This would inject price competition which would bring self-insurance within the reach of more and more people, creating a "virtuous cycle." We have a chance here to bring the era of artificially over-insured health-care to an end.

Unfortunately, we instead now have to fight a second big push for a different big government solution. Go to Hell you stupid establishment Republicans. It's another self-inflicted wound, like pushing for immigration reform that Republican voters overwhelmingly despise.

Hey, if you want to commit suicide go ahead and commit suicide, but don't "suicide" other people: don't suicide your political party.

What kind of health insurance aid should be billed to the account of the recipient, insurance premiums or the actual cost of the care delivered?

This is a technical point for the wonks out there (if Krugman and Klein haven't completely flipped the meaning of wonkery from unbiased policy analysis to purely biased political spin).

Suppose that under a system where all aid is billed to the account of the recipient, need-qualified individuals were allowed to choose for themselves whether they want to have a monthly insurance premium added to their debt to society or whether they want to let the cost of actual health care services rendered be added to their debt as these costs are incurred. Which should they want to choose?

With the government acting as a source of liquidity (making loans to cover claims of need), letting actual health care costs be billed to one's account would amount to a kind of quasi-self-insurance. It would be financed via debt rather than savings, but the benefits would remain.

When people buy insurance it reduces their incentive to avoid the insured risks. If you know that obesity incurs lots of expensive health risks, you have far stronger incentive to avoid those by avoiding obesity if you have to pay the health costs out of your own pocket.

Ditto for  other health-risky activities like drug use, extreme sports, unprotected sex, careless use of power tools, etcetera. People who don't have 3rd party insurance are a lot more careful about a lot of things.

This is one of the reasons why self-insurance is more efficient. The total costs that end up being covered are substantially higher when 3rd party insurance is involved so the price has to be higher by at least the same amount. Then there are administrative costs of insurance (which in the health field are gigantic), and worst of all is the resulting lack of price competition. Nobody is shopping for price so prices go through the roof.

Self-insurance makes sense for anyone who can self-insure, so if the system of billing aid to account allows this option it would be the sensible way for most aid recipients to go. Of course this is also what society would like. Quasi-self-insurance by the needy would leave them a financial incentive to avoid risky behavior, reducing overall costs, and it would give them incentive for shop for price when they do need medical services, allowing the needy to become a major driver of the price competition that would turn our current out-of-control cost-regulated health market into a normal cost-minimized competitive market.

The incentive effects that come from billing aid to the account of the recipient are not as strong as for non-needy people who pay for things with their own money rather than with government subsidized liquidity, but for anyone who expects to get on their feet and eventually pay down their social debt it isn't that much different, especially for young people, many of whom are needy just as a function of being young and not yet having developed their earnings potential. In other words, the benefits to society are still plenty strong so this is the solution that society would choose: to have actual health costs get billed to the account of needy recipients, not monthly insurance premiums.

On the other hand, if aid recipients are forward-looking enough to think that paying insurance premiums makes more sense for them personally than the risk of owing a big medical bill, that is something to encourage, so let aid recipients choose: they can have premiums billed to their account, or they can have actual costs billed.

Just note very clearly that what we do not want is the universal health insurance that Obamacare and the Obama-lite Republicans have both fixed as their objective. We want the opposite. The ideal is a society where nobody has 3rd party health insurance but everyone instead is self-insured, even if some are only quasi-self-insured via government loan.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Evil is Coming: ticking-clock Newtown video makes more sense with a pro-gun narration

A group called Moms Demand Action ("for gun sense in America") just put out a video marking the one year anniversary of the Newtown massacre. From a pro-gun perspective their video invokes some very effective imagery, using the impending sound of a ticking clock to highlight the vulnerability of a classroom full of undefended children.

That's the story of Newtown, where a psychopathic loser took advantage of the "gun free zone" at Sandy Hook Elementary School to murder two classrooms full of first graders and their teachers without being opposed by anyone equipped to defend against him. When seconds mattered the Newtown police were only 15 minutes away, but the Demanding Moms don't get it.

Their response to Newtown? They are on a nationwide crusade to create more gun-free zones. Holy cow. (Bob Owens has more on the bullying Moms here.) Still, for those who actually understand that seconds matter, that ticking clock is very evocative. It just needs the right voice over, which I have tried to provide (100% fair use):

If anyone thinks this is not the time to invoke Newtown in the gun-rights debate, tell it to the Demanding Moms. This video is a rebuttal to their ill-conceived manipulation, which should not go unanswered.

Video script

Pro-gun voice-over (by Alec Rawls):
Evil is coming, just as it came to Newtown one year ago.
Part of the original voice-over (from the Moms Demand Action "No More Silence" video):
With 26 more school shootings since that day...
Pro-gun voice-over:
Evil is coming and everyone knows it, but nobody is preparing to confront it. They want to, but they are not allowed. Denied their constitutional right to bear arms, would-be defenders can only sit and wait. 
What society in human history ever gathered its children together, then issued a public guarantee that they would be left completely undefended? How much longer will we sit by as this invitation to slaughter the most vulnerable members of our society is repeatedly accepted?
Original voice-over:
Ask yourself, is silence what America needs right now?

No, silence is not what America needs

But it is what our Democrat-controlled media systematically delivers when it comes to gun-rights understanding. A full half of the country had in unison one single immediate response to the news of the Newtown massacre: "Why the Hell wasn't there anyone on-site who was equipped to defend this entire school full of children?"

We all know the reason: because the Democrats have managed to strip whole swaths of their fellow citizens of the Constitutional right to bear arms, but we still can't help erupting in questioning anger at the sheer unmitigated perversity of it. It screams out of us every time one of these psychopaths is able to go about his evil business unopposed, yet nowhere does our Democrat-controlled media breathe a hint of what a full half of the country is thinking and saying. Our voices are silenced by a relentlessly biased media, yet it is our voices that need to be heard, because it is we who are correct.

Our dissembler in chief

At last year's Newtown prayer-vigil President Obama artfully misrepresented the pro-gun position:
Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?
But every gun rights advocate in the country knows that this violence, visited on our children "year after year after year," is not the price of freedom but is the price of our violation of freedom (the Constitutional right to bear arms). It is a price that the Democrats are willing to pay, choosing to leave everyone's children undefended in the face of repeated mass murder rather than relinquish their opposition to one of our country's founding liberties.

Conservatives are indeed willing to pay a high price for freedom in those instances where the price of freedom is high but this is not one of those instances. The freedom to bear arms makes us safer, just as all of our liberties contribute to our security and our prosperity. The price we have to pay for liberty is the price of defending it, not some supposed price that liberty itself inflicts!

This is what a moral pervert we have for a president. He sees liberty itself as a negative and strikes at the tree of liberty wherever he has a chance, socializing one sixth of our economy with Obamacare; using the power of the state (in the form of the IRS) to systematically attack his political opposition; even running "assault weapons" to Mexican drug cartels with no plan to track the guns, only a plan to use them, when they are discovered at crime scenes throughout Mexico, to ensnare America's law abiding gun industry, blaming our right to keep and bear arms for Obama's own intentional abuse of those rights.

Is there anyone in the whole country who still believes a single word that comes out of this man's mouth? He spent four years clearing the path for the Muslim Brotherhood to ascend to power in Egypt, advocating for them at every turn, often by name, only to see the Egyptian people, who had always sided with the Islamofascists against Israel and the United States and Europe, turn against the Brothers when, thanks to Obama, it was now they who were facing the Islamofascist hell. That turn against the Muslim Brotherhood (the parent organization of al Qaeda) is a bigger turn of events than Bush's victory in Iraq. It is a huge victory for liberty, and all because Obama's unbounded hatred for liberty is so extreme that it stimulates even the Islamic world's liberty-challenged immune system to vomit him out.

We have to do the same here in America. Vomit out his poisonous Obamacare and vomit out his rottingly sweet attempt to depict gun rights, not as a valuable liberty, providing crucial defense against both common and uncommon crime, but as a negative: not something to fight for but something to fight against. Vomit out this liberty-hating monster. Overthrow his every machination and hope that the low-information Democrat half of our electorate, the willful idiots who seek to curtail their own thoughts as our Democrat-controlled media wants their thoughts to be curtailed, do not stay asleep long enough to carry him over any more finish lines.

In that vein, here's hoping that the words I so jarringly put in the mouths of the Demanding Moms might be clear enough to pull even their grief-stricken heads out of the sand. After all, it is their ticking clock. Shouldn't they know better than anyone that seconds count? Come on woman in the video, show us that you have a brain in your head. Show us that a person who comprehends the horror of murderous seconds cannot really be in favor of defender-free zones!

Don't you DARE try to defend those children!

Yeah, they actually said it. In response to the Newtown massacre Professor Erik Loomis from the University of Rhode Island passed along the following message (originally penned by another angry leftist named Lee Papa, aka Rude Pundit):
"First f**ker to say the solution is for elementary school teachers to carry guns needs to get beaten to death."
They know that these murders were enabled by the state's unconstitutional disarming of all would-be defenders but they care more about their disarmament goals than about the murders and are desperate to switch the blame to those who seek to uphold a citizen's duty to be prepared to defend oneself and others.

Professor David Guth also wants death for those who believe in being prepared to defend themselves and others. More specifically, he wants death for their children:
#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.
And here is funny-man Jim Carrey's contempt for the lives of those who would seek to defend children:
"Any1 who would run out to buy an assault rifle after the Newtown massacre has very little left in their body or soul worth protecting."
I sent him a few responses of my own:

That butt-hole routine was sick but hilarious. Carrey's latest routine is just sick.

The purpose of liberty is to empower moral agency

The anti-gunners need to learn some moral theory. Illiberal "liberals" always think that they are the sophisticated ones but anyone who doesn't understand why gun rights make us safer doesn't understand the first thing about why liberty works.

If human beings did not have moral comprehension it wouldn't much matter if we were free. Not being cognizant of value we would not be capable of pursuing value and so nothing of value would be lost by our not having the freedom to pursue value (or "happiness" as it is listed in the Declaration of Independence). But moral agency changes everything.

Our open ended faculties of intelligence are able to follow evidence, not just about what is possible in the world, but also about what there is to value in the world. Whether this is a product of godless nature or is because god made us in his image (Genesis 1:27), what separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is our capacity to make progress in the discovery and pursuit of value.

What do we see to find value in? In the words of Linnaeus, "know thyself," ("homo sapiens"). There are vast catalogs of music, humor, drama, dance and sport, all with their unique attractions, discovered and explored and developed by humans questing after value. There is literature and learning. There is love of the natural world and the lesser-minded animals that need our guardianship and our husbandry.

Most basically there is our love for each other: man and woman, parents and children, friends and colleagues. We discern the lovable qualities in each unique individual just by witnessing their spirit in action, and we see their hateful qualities, where instead of acting to preserve and advance what the human mind can see to value some have a perverse desire to trample value, as if it raises them higher to bring other people and things down.

This is the difference between moral rationality and moral irrationality. Moral rationality husbands and follows all evidence of value, then acts for every discovery of value wherever it is enough at stake to be worth accounting. But moral rationality is not the only human mode. We evolved through the process of natural selection where different available human modes compete on the basis of which produces and nurtures the most offspring.

Here two main modes are possible. People can make their way in the world either by producing things that other people find valuable, then  trading or selling what they produce, or they can make their way by trying to steal what others have produced. These competing strategies are both broadly present in the human population today, but the stealers are a clear minority, essentially our criminal class, salted away in every race, making up something less than 20% of the total population.

Most people are moral. Their nature is to produce value, and this strategy (for those who follow it) is facilitated by moral rationality. If you have an eye for value, if your tendency is to follow evidence of value and to act for value then you will be better at producing value. You will be more successful in the be-productive reproductive strategy, and this seems to be the course that the bulk of mankind has followed. This is our evolutionary path. This is you, right? Know thyself.

This human nature creates a fundamental fellowship. Why are people all over the world so able to embrace each other as genuine friends, eager for each other's well being? Because when we look for what there is to value in each other we all see this same thing: that we all share this basic moral rationality that seeks to make progress in the discovery and pursuit of value. This makes us allies in our fundamental nature. We revel in each other's discovery of value, each other's talents, each other's inventiveness. We love each other's moral agency.

This is why people are willing to undertake even grave risks in defense even of unknown others. Because being morally competent, we know the worth of other people's lives, that we have this shared ability to recognize and act for value. We risk even for unknown others because we have a rational expectation that others are worth risking for.

The fact of moral agency, that our open ended faculties of intelligence are capable of apprehending value, is the key moral fact of our existence. Lower animals (with some limited exceptions) don't have moral agency, and they certainly have no capacity for moral rationality. Only the human being can recognize whether he is making a contribution to the world around or is reducing the sum of human attainment by predating upon it. We easily, even automatically, use constructs like Kant's "categorical imperative" (what if everyone were to behave the way I am behaving?) to magnify our understanding of the implications of our existence for the world around. All of which lead the moral majority to first want to be fair: to not be a cheater, but instead be one of those who makes his way by making a contribution and getting rewarded for it, not by stealing from others.

All progress in the discovery and pursuit of value comes through moral agency. That moral fact demands the empowerment of moral agency, which in turn requires maximum equal liberty rights. The pursuit of value requires freedom of action. If progress in the discovery and pursuit of value is to be maximized then moral agency must be maximally unleashed, limited only where one person's liberty interferes with similar such freedom for others.

One of the most important things people must be free to do is defend themselves and each other, because the cheaters and the stealers and the predators are still out there. When we identify them we can take away their gun rights, but it is counterproductive in the extreme to disempower the moral agency of the morally competent in this most crucial area, and this is what the anti-gunners want. They don't want to disarm just the people who have revealed a criminal nature. They explicitly want to disarm everybody except the government, proving that they have zero comprehension of the primacy of moral agency.

Listen up you liberty hating fruitcakes: all value comes through the empowerment of moral agency, which first requires liberty. To be against the empowerment of moral agency in some crucial area like saving lives is to be a wanton destroyer of value of the highest magnitude. You are Godzilla smashing Tokyo. You are a F4 tornado vacuuming up towns in the Midwest. And then to project the most tender concern for innocent life, as you work perfectly overtly to insure that there will be no defenders of the innocent, how is that even possible?

Much can be excused on account of grief but most of those who are trying to use the Newtown massacre to attack gun rights have suffered no personal loss that clouds their understanding. Like President Obama, they are intentionally misusing tragedy to misdirect blame, determined to create more of the defender-free zones that will give them more mass murders that they can use as more fodder to advance their ultimate goal of a government monopoly on power.

Evil is coming, not just in the form of broken losers, but also in the form of usurping tyrants, as regular as any "26 more school shootings," but looming a million times larger in human history. Evil is coming and half the country is actively trying to pave the way for it, using the demagoguery of misdirected blame to disempower the moral agency of a nation.

UPDATE:  Without the defender-free-zone part, Arapahoe shooter wants none of it, kills himself

From  the Christian Science Monitor:
As they investigate the latest school shooting in the United States – Friday at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo. – one thing is clear to law enforcement officials there: The presence of an armed deputy sheriff on regular duty at the school was the key factor in preventing more deaths and injuries. 
As soon as he heard the first of five gunshots, that officer and the two school administrators he was talking to raced toward the commotion shouting their presence and ordering students and staff to follow the school’s lock-down protocol. 
As a result, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said at a briefing Saturday afternoon, the heavily-armed shooter realized he was about to be confronted by an armed officer, and he took his own life.
Makes it pretty obvious that that young Mr. Pierson would not have gone human-hunting in the first place if he didn't think he would have a chance to engage in unopposed slaughter, especially if, as one of his classmates suggests, the reason why he went off is because he "didn't like losing." Pierson, who was an incessant and very proud debater, had lost by getting himself kicked off the debate team. He wanted first of all to kill the debate team coach but he was armed with molotov cocktails and other implements for killing many others as well:
Senior Chris Davis, 18, was among many students Saturday trying to make sense of Pierson's shooting rampage. 
"He was a weird kid," Davis said. "He's a self-proclaimed communist, just wears Soviet shirts all the time." 
Pierson became easily aggravated, "always liked to be right" and didn't like losing, Davis said. 
"It seems realistic, now, that he did it," Davis added.
As is typical for our Democrat-controlled press, The Denver Post deliberately tried to make those who only read above the break think that this leftist was a pro gun conservative, leading off a story on Pierson's "strong political beliefs" with this quote from one of his classmates:
"He had very strong beliefs about gun laws and stuff," said junior Abbey Skoda, who was in a class with Pierson during her freshman year. "I also heard he was bullied a lot."
Since Pierson used a gun the implication would seem to be that he must have been pro-gun, not anti-gun. Only those who read to the end of the article find out what Pierson posted on facebook:
The Republican Party: Health Care: Let 'em Die, Climate Change: Let 'em Die, Gun Violence: Let 'em Die, Women's Rights: Let 'em Die, More War: Let 'em Die. Is this really the side you want to be on?
The Post went on to scrub from its own article a statement from a classmate that Pierson was "a very opinionated socialist," reporting instead that the classmate had only described Pierson as "very opinionated." Liars.

Senior editor Lee Ann Colacioppo explained the change:
“We decided not to have another student apply a label to the shooter — a label the student likely didn’t even understand,”
The whole article was about the other student's views of the shooter. Only when he turns out to be a leftist like Colacioppo does this "labeling" become something pernicious that should not be credited in a news report.

So in the Post's view it is a-okay to write the article so that skimmers will wrongly think Pierson was some kind of pro-gun Tea Party conservative but evidence that he was actually a leftist has to be excised as a matter of "principle." Dirtbags.

RELATED:   Survey shows that if allowed, 13.4% of teachers would carry guns in school!
72.4% of educators say they would be unlikely to bring a firearm to school if they were allowed to do so. 36.3% of educators surveyed report owning a firearm, 37.1% of whom say they would be likely or very likely to bring it to school if allowed.
.363 x .371 = 13.4. That is far above the average rate of carry in any "shall issue" carry permit state. Florida with the highest number of CCW permits (over a million) has a permit rate of 6.2% of its adult population. Georgia has the highest CCW rate at 11% (ibid.). 13.4% is huge!

It is not surprising to me that adults who are responsible for classrooms full of children want to be able to protect them, but I expect that many anti-gunners would be surprised, if they were to learn about it. Well they had better not learn about it then. CNN reports the teachers' strong pro-gun response under the following headline:
Survey: Teachers don't want to carry guns, do support armed guards
Because you see, a majority of teachers would not carry guns. Ergo, that's the news: "teachers don't want to carry guns." Propagandist hacks.

CNN also claims that: "the survey was not a scientific measure of opinion," but nothing on the survey site suggests that this was not a controlled study:
School Improvement Network surveyed 10,661 educators from all 50 states to find out how safe our schools really are, and the best ways to keep them secure.
The survey group's summary report actually understates the pro-gun response. Check out question 6 in the detailed survey results:
How likely would you be to bring a firearm to school if you were allowed to? 
Very Likely 10.7%
Likely 6.9%
Somewhat Likely 10%
Somewhat Unlikely 7.2%
Unlikely 15.7%
Very Unlikely 49.5%
Likely and very likely sum to 17.6%!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Higher education is wasted on sugarbabies

Instapundit links to a young woman who is leaning towards accepting an offer to prostitute her way through college. I left a comment on the implications of the sugardaddy-scholarship [links added]:
Regardless of what anyone thinks about it, this is happening at a substantial and rapidly growing rate, contributing to the female-heavy nature of college. On the anecdotal side, I recently saw a couple of very pretty co-eds at the coffee shop looking at pictures of a 70-ish white-haired beau. I thought they looked high school age but apparently they were college girls, since the sugarbaby described her sugardaddy as a college professor. They talked about how he was still kind of cute, making the case to each other that this was a good way to go. 
Not for society. Highly educated females for the most part do not support families the way educated men do. They either don't have children or they have children with highly educated and/or big earning men who provide the support while the woman's earning potential goes largely unused. [It's called "hypergamy." High earning women show a marked preference for still higher earning men, while high earning men are glad to support lower earning women.]
Luckily our present college system is going to collapse, hopefully sooner rather than later, under the weight of its own needless cost, to be replaced by a system where the only credentials are test scores in various areas of knowledge. Together with free or inexpensive online education the result will be a genuine meritocracy, in contrast to our present faux-meritocracy, limited to those who are wealthy enough, or dumb enough, to take on a house-mortgage worth of debt. Until then our majority-female colleges will become ever more female, and ever more heavily stocked with the most corrupt gold-digging type of female, the least likely people in the world to ever support a family. A worse misdirection of resources is hard to imagine. 
[Sugarbabies are the most instinctively hypergamous of all females. Almost all women find alpha-male qualities like financial success and social status to be attractive when they see it, but here we have very young women actively prostituting themselves in search of these qualities. They are hyper-hypergamous, making it a virtual certainty that they will remain hypergamous, and highly averse to supporting a family, for the rest of their lives.]  
Like the rest of the blue-state Obama-world it is all going to go away. As our host likes to remind us: "Something that can’t go on forever won’t."   But unsustainability only brings about an ending when it smashes into the ground. Before things get better they are first going to get much worse.
I'm not against women taking advantage of their sexual desirability however they see fit. With the coming economic collapse everyone is going to be struggling to find a way to survive and it is not at all a bad thing that there is an "old fashioned way" that many women will be able to manage this: by finding men who are able and willing to take care of them. If only all women could find this most longstanding of human relationships, ideally the respectable way, but that is going to be rarer and rarer going forward, with fewer and fewer men able to provide support, together with feminist-era marriage laws that establish extreme disincentives to male participation, making semi-respectable the best that many women will be able to find.

It's all part of the downward slope we have been on since the radical stinking left-wing liberty-haters managed to get control of our institutions. They socialized retirement (undermining childbearing by replacing personal savings and investment with a massive system of transfer payments from the wealth-poor young to the wealth-rich old); they are socializing a full sixth of the economy with Obamacare (not only designed from the beginning to destroy private health insurance, but like social security, Obamacare is also anti-natalist, transferring resources from healthy young people who are wealth poor to unhealthy old people who are wealth-rich); they are intentionally forcing energy prices up ("under my plan" said Obama in 2008, energy prices will "necessarily skyrocket"); and they are regulating the economy to death while imposing every employer mandate they can think of.

We are going all the way down baby. There's no avoiding the crash landing. Just hope that in the aftermath we can get our Constitution back and re-establish a society that protects and fosters liberty.

That's why sooner is better than later. The faster that illiberal institutions like Obamacare implode the less damage they have a chance to do, increasing the chance that we will be able to recover.  Faster is also better demographically. All of these anti-natalist forces  (Social Security, Obamacare, the wasting of higher education on hyper-hypergamous sugarbabies) are chopping our society off at the roots. They cannot end too soon.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Capitol Police Board confirms "stand down" order during Navy Yard slaughter

House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, speaking for the Capitol Police Board's review of this September's mass shooting incident at the Navy Yard, confirmed yesterday that Capitol Police superiors did in fact order CP's fully geared-up SWAT team (CERT) to retreat from the scene of the ongoing slaughter. From Roll Call's Hannah Hess:
“The facts are clear that the CERT was initially directed to the incident command post, and the facts are clear that they did not make it to the incident command post,” Irving said. “We also have radio transmissions from a Capitol Police unit at the command post that reflected they would be unable to make it due to heavy traffic congestion”
Irving tries to present the order to proceed to the command post as an order to proceed towards the Navy Yard, where the command post would presumably be set up, but it is an established fact that the CERT team was already at the scene of the ongoing slaughter before any order from superiors was received, making the order to proceed to the incident command post an order to retreat from the scene of the shooting.

Here is what we know about the situation at the time that the CERT team first contacted their superiors (from the BBC, 9/18/13). The CERT team, which had coincidentally been near the Navy Yard, heard directly about the active shooter situation and had already gotten itself in position to intercede when superiors were first contacted:
Multiple sources in the Capitol Police department have told the BBC that its highly trained and heavily armed four-man Containment and Emergency Response Team (Cert) was near the Navy Yard when the initial report of an active shooter came in about 8:20 local time.
The officers, wearing full tactical gear and armed with HK-416 assault weapons, arrived outside Building 197 a few minutes later, an official with knowledge of the incident told the BBC.
According to a Capitol Police source, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Washington DC's main municipal force, told the Capitol Cert officers they were the only police on the site equipped with long guns and requested their help stopping the gunman. 
When the Capitol Police team radioed their superiors, they were told by a watch commander to leave the scene, the BBC was told.
In a bizarre twist the Roll Call report does not provide this context, allowing Irving to get away with his pretense that the order to proceed to the incident command post was an order to advance rather than an order to retreat (or "stand down"). The title of Hess' article refers to the "stand down" controversy ("Congress Unlikely to Intervene in 'Stand Down' Controversy"), but the article itself never addresses whether the CERT team was told to stand down. 

Hess must simply be ignorant of the most basic facts of the story she is supposed to be covering. Why else would she fail to report the biggest scoop a young reporter is ever likely to have dropped in her lap? It's not like this is a partisan issue where our Democrat-dominated media has a strong interest in presenting the police as helpless to protect the public from active shooters. This slaughter could have been stopped by the police and confirmation of that fact would seem to be a plus for the Democratic Party's anti-gun position that we should all be willing to trust the police for our defense without feeling any need to be prepared (by bearing arms) to defend ourselves.

In any case, Hess has left this story unbroken, leaving the opportunity for others to break it, as I for one am glad to do. So thank you Mr. Irving for providing us with the content of that communication between the CERT team at the active shooting scene and their superiors: they were told to retreat to the "incident command post," which at that point would have been back at headquarters, since no forward command post would yet have been established. And thanks to Hannah Hess for accepting Irving's ludicrous spin that the CERT team was blocked by traffic from reaching the shooting scene that they were calling from, allowing me to break what should have been her scoop.

As for the CERT team's failure to complete its retreat to the not-yet-existent "command post," supposedly because of "traffic," the real story isn't hard to figure. They never made it to their designated retreat point, not because of traffic, but because they would have been beside themselves with anger and shame. They should have disobeyed the stand down order and risked being fired rather than allowing the slaughter of innocents to proceed. It is not surprising that they would accept any excuse (traffic) to not return to the masters who ordered this betrayal of their purpose and their trust.

According to Fox News the murderer arrived on the scene at 8:15 and was not killed until after 9. If he had been engaged at 8:20 when the CERT team arrived it is hard to disagree with the Capitol Police source who suggested at the time that: "some lives may have been saved if we were allowed to intervene."

UPDATE:  It seems there was an already established "incident command post" when CERT received its order from Capitol Police superiors to retreat there. This advance post must have been created by the District's municipal police, not the Capitol Police, and is presumably where the CERT team was told that they had the only long guns on site and were asked by the municipal police to help stop the shooter (as reported by the BBC above). They say that they arrived immediately at the command center and only moved aside while awaiting orders from Capitol Police headquarters. From Hess' report: 
The union disputes that claim [that they never reached the incident command center], saying that the CERT officers arrived at the incident command post within minutes of the first call for assistance but relocated to ensure other first responders could reach the incident while they awaited further instructions from the Capitol Police.
Sorry for getting this wrong in my initial write-up, but the only change in the interpretation is that it makes Irving out to be a bold-faced liar. He said that the CERT team never got to the command post when they clearly did, supposing that is where they were asked to help stop the shooter. But he is still admitting to the stand down order. The ordered retreat is just now a shorter retreat, back to the nearby command post, but it had to have been an order not to engage the shooter or the team would obviously not have left the scene.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Those with employer provided health care will suffer WORSE under Obamacare than individual purchasers

O-care news coverage has so far focused on the extreme price hikes for people who buy health insurance for themselves. Good to see Avik Roy at Forbes today noting that what is happening to individual purchasers of health insurance will also happen to everyone who gets health insurance through their employers, its just that the employer side cancellations are being delayed by a year through non-enforcement. In the short term, according to the government's own 2010 preditions, 50% will lose their existing health care plans because the plans don't meet the Obamacare requirements and because Obama's rules for grandfathering existing plans are intentionally so restrictive that few plans are covered (dropping in a few years to no plans covered). These lost plans will be replaced with Obamacare-compliant plans that will often cost twice as much.

The harm in the case of individual plans is limited because the affected individuals can resist by refusing to buy the hugely more expensive plans. They'll have to pay a penalty, and they will be going without health insurance, but that's the extent of the damage. Most people would be better off paying for health care out of pocket anyway. For anyone who has substantial assets self-insurance is much more efficient than a low deductible plan. Only the most major major-medical insurance (very high deductible) makes any sense at all.

But with employer provided health care (mandated by Obama for all employees who work more than 29 hrs/week for all companies of over 50 employees) there is no way for individuals to escape the full damage wreaked by Obamacare. Basic economics says that the imposition of this employer mandate will not and cannot lead to an increase in total compensation for employees, who either will see their wages fall by the increase in the cost of their health insurance or will lose their jobs. The actual result is certain to be a combination of the two.

The best outcome would be for wages to fall by the full amount of the Obamacare price increases (many hundreds of dollars a month for most people). This would create the least disruption in the labor market, but wages are famously sticky in the downwards direction (as those with seniority in their various enterprises gang up to heap the economic pain on those with less seniority). Thus the more likely scenario is that wages will at first only stagnate for those who keep their jobs, but there will be huge layoffs and huge decreases in profitability for most companies, who will then have no choice but to belatedly whack the wages and salaries of their remaining employees. No one will escape unscathed.

Basically, the entire economy is screwed, and employees are going to realize it in 2014 when their existing health care plans are cancelled and they are either told by their employers to pony up for the more expensive Obamacare plans or they are sent packing. Obama cannot force companies to raise total compensation and under his powerfully recessionary policies total compensation as driven by market forces will be falling, not rising. It's just a question of how people are going to take the fall: in their wages or on the sidewalk. Hope for the former, but either way, its going to be big and its going to be bad.

UPDATE:  O-mouth Jay Carney has been heaping scorn on all the attention being paid to cancellations when they only affect "5% of the population." Yeah, but that's only because the employer mandate was pushed back a year. Next year the majority of all pre-existing plans will be illegal. 

That link is to Ace of Spades, who has done a nice job of countering the fraudulent media meme that prices are going up under Obamacare because the coverage is better. No. In many cases it is worse. Far higher premiums with far higher deductibles. The price increase is because those who pay for their own health insurance, either directly or through their employers, are being forced to pay for those who don't. The primary driver of higher prices is redistribution.

This point was nailed emphatically by the Obama-voting Democrat Kirsten Powers in an interview with Bret Baier on Fox. Powers just had her own health insurance policy cancelled and doesn't like the pretense that it is because her previous insurance plan was "substandard":
“My blood pressure goes up every time they say that they’re protecting us from substandard health insurance plans... All of the things they say that are not in my [now cancelled] plan are in my plan,” Powers lamented. “All of the things they have listed — there’s no explanation for doubling my premiums other than the fact that it’s subsidizing other people. They need to be honest about that.”

On the employer side, Megan McCardle analyzes survey data on how many companies will continue to offer health care coverage, finding that the news is worse than it is being spun, but the truth is actually much worse because what employers say now about whether they will continue to offer health insurance is colored by all the lies they have been told about costs not going up. Once the one year delay of the employer mandate ends and employers get hit with the same enormous price increases that individual purchasers are getting hit by now the best case scenario is that they will start dropping coverage en masse, choosing to pay the Obamacare penalties instead, as individuals are doing.

As noted above, the alternatives are even worse. If employers provide the more expensive insurance then they will either have to lower wages accordingly (Obama can't raise the market determined price for labor, which is the price for total compensation, not wages alone), or they will just lay off workers until labor supply and demand are equilibrated at the new higher total compensation level. Given that nominal wages are notoriously sticky downwards the most likely outcome is massive layoffs, so hope that employers choose instead to drop coverage and pay the penalties.

These penalties will still add to total compensation, prompting a combination of wage decreases and layoffs, but it can't be as bad as participating in O-strap-a-bum-to-your-back-care.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cut child-support payments in half for children born out of wedlock

Instapundit recently called out Ann Althouse for having zero tolerance for bias against women while at the same time having broad tolerance for extreme legal bias against men. Eighteen years ago I wrote in the Stanford Review about my own encounters with this mindset:
I could hardly believe my ears. Was this really the same woman friend who for years had been adamantly pro-choice? Where she had always insisted that to force a woman to carry a child to term was an unconstitutional slavery, she now was now insisting that unintended pregnancy warranted a lifetime of slavery.
Of course we all know the punch line. The subject under discussion was male obligations:
Watch out guys. Do not be lulled in to thinking that your "liberal" girlfriend's attitudes towards sex make pre-marital sex risk-less for you. Feminism is only interested in sex being as risk-free as possible for women, and that means shifting as much of the risk as possible onto you.
Since women are the one's who get to choose whether to continue a pregnancy they should face a strong financial incentive to bear children within marriage (where the outcomes for children are far superior). My proposal at the time:
Half might be the best compromise for an already compromised situation, leaving strong incentives for both would-be fathers and mothers not to conceive or bear children outside of marriage. Half of a divorced father's child support payments is still a tremendous obligation, considering that, for women, most people judge it a tyrannical wrong to impose any obligation to become a parent. But there is a baby involved, whose mother has already proven herself irresponsible by having a child out of wedlock. The strength of that need calls for splitting the incentive equally between the man and the woman, even though the woman is the one who ultimately has the choice.
The current rules for how much support the bigger-earning ex has to pay in child support to the more-custodial ex are complex and under the proposed reform that would still be the case. The only thing that would be simple is the ratio of the single man's obligations to the married man's obligations: one half.

That isn't to say that existing child-support levels in cases of divorce are correct. I believe they are far too high, and generally try to squeeze as much out of the man as possible, going back again for more every time he gets a raise. The proper level would be one that strongly deters the woman from seeking a divorce, so that she will only do so when a marriage is genuinely intolerable, and not enable her to simply enjoy the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed at the man's expense but without providing the partnership and assistance that justified this support within the marriage.

Nice essay by Dalrock on the need for women to face a heavy loss of support if they seek divorce, otherwise the institution of marriage will not function and men will be deprived of basic fairness. Hey women: if he's not married to you, why the hell should he be supporting you as if he was? Thus to a rough approximation, the level of support that a divorced woman with children should enjoy should be half that of a married woman's, and that level of support should be halved again for a never married woman.

Mrs. Instapundit (Dr. Helen Smith) has a new book on the extreme disincentives to marriage that the feminist legal revolution has created (Men on Strike). On this front, it might seem that having a man's financial obligations to any children he sires within marriage be double his obligation to children sired outside marriage would increase the disincentive to marry, but not so. The obligations of married men would remain unchanged. They would face no added dis-incentive.

There would just be less dis-incentive for men to risk siring a child outside of marriage, but the point here is that the obligations of men in this situation are already much higher than they should be, certainly in comparison to the obligations imposed on women, where our society has decided as a matter of protected constitutional right that women have no obligations whatsoever:
His body, his labor, his hopes for family in the future, are all confiscated over the exact same unintended pregnancy for which our constitutional process has decided that women must not be forced to sacrifice anything. [Again, from my 1995 article.]
That imbalance is a moral crime. Unfortunately, it has only gotten worse over the last eighteen years.

UPDATE   Neo-neocon makes a different suggestion: that unmarried men be allowed to opt-out of child support in exchange for their relinquishing of all parental rights. That's closer to equality with the present standard for women (who face NO un-consented-to obligations) than my proposal is, and for that reason is even less likely to ever be adopted in our anti-male culture. Would it provide a better balance between the needs of children and the liberty interests of adults? Probably not, as it gives a free pass to men who like the idea of having lots of children they take no responsibility for.

My old Stanford Review and Thinker articles

I managed recently to restore a lot of these old articles that I had long ago collected on my rawls.org website. They all got wiped out sometime around 2000 when I switched from Mac to PC but earlier this year I figured out how to add my old Mac-created website to my newer PC-created one. 

A lot of it bears the test of time I think. Mr. Knowitall is fun, but the most important of the restored stuff is under the "Moral Science" tab, like how to vastly improve both crime control and the protection of liberty at the same time. Instead of protecting liberty indirectly as we do now, by tying the hands of the police, protect liberty directly, by articulating the full ideal of liberty and placing it in the Constitution so that nothing that shouldn't be criminalized can be criminalized.

That is a much more secure way to protect liberty and it does not depend on any restrictions on police methods. The apparent conflict between liberty and crime control disappears, and is seen to be just an artifact of our clumsy indirect way of protecting liberty.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Is John Cook planning to use systematically biased “correct” survey answers to make unbiased skeptics look biased?

Crossposted at WUWT (with some improvements here to the intro and postscript)
After finalizing a long post on John Cook’s crowd-sourced consensus-rating survey (to be titled “I take Cook’s survey so you don’t have to”), I submitted my completed survey to Cook’s website and received an automated response that included a key new bit of information, suggesting what likely shenanigan Cook has planned.
I am not going to rewrite the post because it describes why I gave the ratings I did to each abstract in the random survey that Cook’s website compiled for me. The likely shenanigan has to do with how the rating rules are applied so I want it to be clear that what I wrote on that subject was innocent of any awareness of how Cook might be biasing the survey. I am just adding this brief introduction.
The new information (new to me) is that Cook seems to be claiming to have in his back pocket a correct answer to what each of the ratings should be. From the automated response:
Of the 10 papers that you rated, your average rating was 3.1 (to put that number into context, 1 represents endorsement of AGW, 7 represents rejection of AGW and 4 represents no position). The average rating of the 10 papers by the authors of the papers was 2.6.
It seems impossible that Cook could actually have gotten large numbers of authors to apply his rating scale to their papers. Maybe this is why he drastically reduced the number of included papers from the 12,000 mentioned in the survey to only those with abstracts shorter than 1000 characters (as discovered by Lucia at The Blackboard). Maybe the full reduction is to papers that not only have short abstracts but were also self-rated by authors. If so there is a clear selection bias and the abstracts in Cook's sample are not representative of the literature [commenters say that this limitation to self-rated abstracts has also been verified at The Blackboard].
Supposing that Cook really does have author-ratings for all the papers used in the survey, there is a major slip between the cup and the lip. The authors are described as rating the papers, while surveyors are asked to rate only the abstracts. This is critical because according to Cook’s rating rules the ratings are supposed to be based on what is or is not specifically mentioned. Obviously full papers discuss a lot more things than abstracts, especially unusually short abstracts. Thus if everyone is applying the rules correctly surveyors ratings should be systematically higher (assessing less conformity with consensus assumptions) than authors’ ratings.
This stood out to me because I had just spent several hours describing how I had to rate abstract after abstract "neutral," even though it clearly proceeded from "consensus" presumptions, just because its abstract had not directly mentioned those assumptions. The full papers might well have, making the author ratings and the surveyor ratings apples and oranges.
Suppose (as is likely) that survey participants who are referred by skeptic websites rate the abstracts accurately according to the instructions while those who are referred by credulous websites misapply the instructions so as to exaggerate the degree of consensus. This misapplication of the rules will bring the ratings of the consensoids closer to the ratings of the authors than the accurate ratings from the skeptics will be, making the consensoid surveyors look less biased than the skeptic surveyors when they are in fact more biased. Mission accomplished.
My original post is after the jump. It's point is rather different: that the revelation from the survey is how neatly the various papers fall into simple categories of wasted effort on the "consensus" plantation. In contrast, Cook's attempt to gauge the degree of consensus turns out to be not very effective, which is another reason (besides its coming from John Cook) why people shouldn't feel much need take it.
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