Sunday, August 30, 2009

Logical Fallacies and the Health Care Debate

I'm tired of hearing that 60% or more of US bankruptcies are due to medical bills. In law school, one of the first things you cover are logical fallacies.

Basic logical equation:
Sam is a man. Men are mortal. Sam is mortal.

This does not mean:
There is a man named Sam. All men have names. All men are named Sam.

What is another reason why people with high medical bills declare bankruptcy? How about THEY'RE SICK AND CAN'T WORK??? That's why these bankruptcies happen. Don't let people shove this idea down your throat. I am incredibly bothered by the inability of the proponents of this system to debate government sponsored (or run) health care on the merits. The reason it is expensive is due to ridiculous malpractice insurance and Congress-sponsored pharm patents. NOT because we allow private business to run our health care.

Respect to Senator Kennedy

I've been torn in the coverage of Senator Kennedy's passing. I completely disagree with the idea that he was a bridge between parties, but yet I also don't know how much politics has relevance in death. As a Senator, his life is colored by his political persuasion, but no more than a handy-man should be characterized by his craft. Senator Kennedy should be praised for being a man of convictions, which rarely were swayed. The Lion of the Senate can be contrasted against the lambs, who blew with the wind (or greenbacks). I can agree with the basic sentiments of Senator Kennedy's speeches, which is that the poor need not go under-represented in our chambers. I can disagree with just about everything else. But what I can say, is that this is a man I admire in disagreement.

Friday, August 28, 2009

They're Just LIke Us

(Whew, that was a tough week. I love my new job, but it is a lot of work and not a lot of blog time. I'm trying to work out a new schedule to keep the posts current, so please work with me. )

Up front, I am fine that Howard County has spent itself out of the ability to build new developments. I grew up in this county and can remember about 20 some years ago when 32 was first being built and Clarksville had little more than a Pizza Hut and a Mom & Pop video rental place. My position stated, I find it disconcerting that our government has purchased expense luxury programs at the expense of making mortgage payments. The news from today is symptomatic of why I am against liberal government. There are some essential elements of local government, the most important of which is to maintain the government offices that allow commerce to proceed. These offices allow our businesses and employers to continue business. They are much more important than "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors" (if anyone was outside last night between midnight and four, I have to break out some Samuel L. on you and say "they deserve to die..."). These "course of business" offices are more important than Health "Don't-eat-fast-food" Howard too. What is unfortunate is that these run of the mill offices are not stepping stones for our officials. They don't get you to Park Place.

So I'll say it again...Kick Them Out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Anthony Jordan Post

Hello Everyone,
I apologize for my absence, but I've started at a new job and am trying to find the time to post.

Anthony Jordan, who is running for County Council in District 2, made a recent post that is a must-read for anyone who is tired of seeing scores of incumbents run into retirement as the problems they originally ran on continue to give them campaign fodder without being solved.

Thank you for all of your continued support and readership. It is the only thing that keeps me posting some days. Even if you have nothing more to say that "Liked it" or "Disagree Completely", a simply post is great for telling not only me, but also all the other readers, who is reading.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Government Programs in Action

The New GI Bill can't process claims in time for school. Anyone who tried to start classes without a fully paid bill in the pursers office can imagine what these vets will be going through.

VA claims are back-logged...and Obama wants to fix it...hopefully he is better at that than fixing GTMO.

Really? I Mean...REALLY?

I submitted a Letter to the Baltimore Sun today. I was furious and the letter flew off my fingers in about 10 minutes:

I’ve submitted many letters to the Baltimore Sun in the past, but this is the first occasion in which I write out of disgust. To suggest that those exercising vocal opposition to federally run health care somehow brought on a racially motivated attack on a 76 year old man by a self-described white supremacist (“Hate Rise?”, 9/20/09) goes beyond the pale. The non sequitors in this article alone could make one laugh had the ideas behind the writing not been so offensive. I do not understand the aversion to debate that propigates itself by demonizing town hall speakers and protestors. President George Bush was burned in effigy, his policies were equated to those of the Nazis, and there was strong disagreement with those actions taken by his administration. Yet despite the ongoing and ever-available violence in this city, the Sun never saw fit to connect those protestors to the crimes of a small minded psychotic. I’d suggest that this paper return to the black and white of issues, and cut down on the blue.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Delegate Cardin Sittin' in a Tree

G-R-A-F-T-I-N-G

Del. Cardin showed once again that our politicians see the state as their playground and all of the state agencies as their toys. He engaged Baltimore County air and watercraft to stage a raid that was to lead to his proposal in marriage...awwwwww. While hearts around the state melt, allow me to pound the table a bit. WHAT?!?! Are you kidding me?

At any point in the planning stage did anyone go "Um, chief...so what if...you know...a real crime happens while we're..."

"Shut up Johnson. Just make sure the champagne stays cold and you get a shot of her when she says 'yes'."

William Easterly Blog

William Easterly has a blog. This is the author of White Man's Burden, which I have mentioned in earlier posts. I will admit that I am still slogging through the book, but that says everything about my attention span and nothing about the content. It is a great book, just not one conducive to metro reading.

Don Draper Politics

Mad Men is finally back on TV and I caught the third season premiere last night. One of my favorite parts was at the end when Don is talking to his daughter who broke his suitcase:

Don: We'll find out how much it costs and then take it out of your allowance.
Daughter: But I don't have an allowance.
Don: Then don't break things.

It made me think on how this new expansion of government services is being sold to the American public. In funding health care reform, Obama has promised that taxes will only be raised on the "wealthy". If we, as a country, are embarking on what some will suggest to be a moral mandate to provide coverage for those unable to provide for themselves (rather than use already existing subsidies to help these people to the table), shouldn't this burden be borne across all income classes. Some, including this commentator, are certain that the tax burden will "trickle down", but I am bothered by the fact that the vast majority of people in favor of this plan are not going to have to pay for it. This is why the arguments have spun into "death panels" and "keep gubment outta my bidness". The real argument of the shared burden of additional government services (the second pillar of logical opposition to government expansion) is off the table. If this administration wants a fair and reasoned debate, lets put all the cards on the table. The "death panel" crew may decide that the argument is too complicated for a florescent yellow poster-board and go home.

It pains me to see a man that writes an article like this to scold others for being "smug." But it also cracks me up to see reform proponents talk about how much we spend on health care without addressing the follow-up of "THIS IS 17% OF OUR GDP WE ARE MESSING WITH." This is why Congress is normally better off with using the three stages of intervention 1) oversight; 2) regulation; 3) criminalization, rather than entering the market themselves.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Has the Middle Been Lost?

I was reading an article (hard copy) in the paper today where Obama adviser John Podesta suggested that the right had abandoned the "middle" on the healthcare debate and that Obama would not have a very hard time reclaiming it. I think he's right, but not just on healthcare.

As a conservative minded person, I think I share the concerns of many when I say that there really isn't a reasoned voice speaking for our side of the debate. Many Republicans talk about how the base is energized and that this speaks trouble for Obama, but that is misleading. The left was energized after Bush's first term, but the general electorate was turned off by their over-emphasis on exiting Iraq and a general concern that Kerry was being directed by pacifists (i.e., "Kerry will make us less safe"). Now, supposedly the right is energized, but the people that are energized are not like me, don't think like me, and don't represent my views.

The counter to that is something that sneaks into my thoughts every once in a while. The media get to draw their own bad guy. "Look, the right has big pointy horns to kill homosexuals with, and big mean claws to impose religion onto the secular culture. And when they're done, they're going to drink a beer, watch NASCAR, and shoot their guns into the sunset." You and I know that this is a misrepresentation of real conservative thought, just as barefoot hippies throwing red paint on people wearing fur coats or professors who believe we should return all the land to the Native Americans are not a proper representation of the left. Most of us fall in the middle.

That then brings me back to my original concern that while these town halls are showing disagreement with Obamacare, the manner in which that disagreement is shown is leaving open the middle. Yelling and screaming with posterboards about death panels will get you on TV, but it won't get you votes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

First Trapeze, now Oz. Steakhouse.

Hmm, let's put an upscale shopping center in the middle of nowhere...put some offices around it...maybe some houses...and then jam three high end restaurants into it.

(Trapeze Closes)

Um, two high end restaurants should be fine.

(Oz Closes)

Well...one will be ok, plus look there's Quizno's across the street.

(Quiznos Closes)

Who liked Quizno's anyway, we still have Tapas! And a gas station!

Good Luck Jordans! I'll be in to visit. You've also got the new Loony's South crowd, which should have some nice synergy.

MUST READ

Please read this. It is an editorial (in, you guessed it, the WSJ) about the displacement of government costs and how this displacement affects democracy. If 40% of the cost is put on 1% of the people, yet 100% of the people have the right to vote on the spenders, we will have a problem. The rich are one of the most vulnerable minorities in a democracy and are currently being painted as criminals for their success.

Another fascinating line from the op-ed is describing payroll withholdings as "anesthetizing". It is so true. If you had to write a check to Uncle Sam 4 times a year for THOUSANDS of dollars, do you think we would have as many people saying "Well...I don't know...I guess government sponsored health car is a good idea" or "Let's stimulate the economy!" or "I think my House representative is Tony Blair, but I forget what district I'm in." Heck no.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sun's Gonna Rise

After reading this editorial on Obama's push to get his legacy passed within his first (possibly only) term, I thought of an idea to toss around. What about creating a sun-set clause on this new health-care program? Admittedly, the program will cost trillions of dollars and many will be put in a precarious position if the health-care evaporated, but these problems can easily be solved with an exit strategy that would make those chosing to use the government unharmed by the experience (unharmed by the closure itself, not necessarily the program). I believe a fair term would be four years. If the program is a failure, it will have additional exposure to the democratic process if it must be reaffirmed by a legislature that has had four years of turn-over. If it is a success, it will be politically unpopular not to renew and possibly make permanent.

After reading this editorial, I would be just as happy to give the Dems the rope to hang themselves with.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Howard County Homeless...shhhhhh

It appears that there is a movement across the country right now that deserves our county's attention. This movement has no standard bearer or lobbyist group. It's core values are common sense and dignity. The methods are plain. The WSJ reports today that many municipalities are fostering "tent cities" for the area homeless rather than zoning and policing them out of existence. City actors and volunteer groups provide aid to the clusters of homeless, allowing them to live safely with dignity, and (gasp) some measure of self-determination.

The counter-argument is that these people should be packed into over-crowded shelters or counseling centers. A problem with this position is that many of our homeless citizens would like to live on their own without "the rules of the benevolent." Yes, they have substance abuse problems. All too often judgment gets in the way of assistance and the effort is lost.

Here in Howard County, we have a significant homeless population of between 100-200 people that do not live in shelters. For the most part, they live in the woods that surround our highways. They seek assistance in places like the Route One Day Center, that provide a place to eat, shower, and receive essential medical treatment without judgment or refusal. It is time for our county government to look at these other jurisdictions and find a way to be the first in Maryland to take a new approach to homelessness and the dignity of the individual.

Is this a Library or a Transformer?

I am a big time reader. My wife bought me the Kindle for a wedding present and it is probably my most prized possession (until football comes back around, at which time I will go back to adoring my TV). Before using the Kindle, I loved going to the library, reserving the new books, and saving money on everything free the library offers. I was pleased to see the Miller Branch library is going to be renovated, but slightly taken aback at all of the plans they have for it.

...an organic garden...
...Howard County Historical Society Offices...
...an indoor water feature winding throughout the first floor...
...plum trees...
...a room designed like a big iPod (really)...

Plans for a spiral staircase were scrapped due to the tough economic times. I had no idea that spiral staircases were more expensive than AN INDOOR WATER FEATURE.

Oh, and it is intended to invoke similarities with:
...a stone cottage...
...the Patapsco Female Institute...
...the old Thomas Viaduct railroad bridge(?)...
...the Enchanted Forest amusement park...

Maybe it's just me, but I remember when they put a coffee bar in the Central Branch library. It lasted about a year. People tended to just go to the library for the books.

Office of Unamerican Activities


There has been a bit of a debate in the press recently about whether certain members of Congress said the town hall protesters were "Unamerican". I'll say up-front that I am not a protesting type of guy. I am often invited to T.E.A. parties or placard waving protests and I respectfully decline, preferring the conversational/(potentially) collaborative forum of a blog to that of snippy quips or rhythmic chants.
However, I can't help but be offended by the idea that when Dem's protest it is patriotic, but when Republicans protest, it is Unamerican, sponsored by lobbyists, or otherwise inappropriate. I will say I was slightly disturbed at the manner in which some protesters made their voice heard and the questionable sophistication of their arguments, but there is something "feel good" democratic about the vociferous debate promoted by these individuals. I would say their disagreement is much more patriotic and "American" than the promotion of empty slogans and trendy t-shirts with the President's face on them.
My concerns about Obama-care have been well represented on this blog. They do not fit on a sign. Consider this website my posterboard. That's my patriotism right there.
Photo: Kimberly P. Mitchell / Associated Press

Friday, August 7, 2009

HoCo GOP Happy Hour

No matter your party affiliation, if you're looking to meet some of the new candidates for 2010 office, come over to Rams Head in Savage, MD at 6 pm for the Howard County GOP Happy Hour. It should be a great time with some interesting conversation.

(Afterward, go to Victoria where they've just put Delirium Tremens on tap!!!)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Temptation of Power

Anyone who has ever been in a leadership position knows that it is tempting to give yourself more power. Where certain functions of an organization may have operated outside of your control or oversight before, you may want to get your hands on it. Oftentimes this is the wrong choice and can upset the equilibriums that had made the organization successful in the first place.

Exhibit A

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Love Confession

I've been a little lax on the posting recently, but I thought it was important to share this clip from CNN.


Some take-aways:
1) "Allah knows I love jihad" is proof that these terrorists are nothing more than ignorant thugs that have hijacked a religion. That is like a Catholic saying "God knows I love confession." Jihad can be loosely translated to "struggle" and is in reference to internal struggle to follow God's law. Osama Bin Laden took a liberal interpretation as a figure of speech and used it to manipulate the young and impressionable.

2) Check out the white dudes with the red hair. Remember that the next time you shift uncomfortably as a guy with a turban walks by.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Crackpot Economics

Great editorial in the WSJ today about the Free Money Program offered by Congress.

I'm not going to comment too much on how Obama promised no new taxes for those making less than $250K but now appears to have changed course. If you believed him when you voted for him...and believed him when he dumped trillion of dollars into our banks reserves...and gave everyone car allowances...then you are stupid, and your stupidity should be taxed accordingly. The rest of us have been bracing for this tax hike for the last 8 months.

I wonder if one day the poems may go "First they taxed the people making over $250,000, but I didn't say anything, because I didn't make that much. Then they taxed the people making over $125,000, but I didn't say anything then either, because I didn't make that much. Then they taxed me, but there was no one left to speak."