Archive for the ‘Free Markets’ Category

I hate disagreeing with George Will and Charles Krauthammer because they’re such intelligent people. Still, that’s what I have to do because, last night, I loved watching Cathy McMorris-Rodgers’ response to President Obama’s depressing SOTU Address. Here’s the first highlight of Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ speech:

Tonight the President made more promises that sound good, but won’t solve the problems actually facing Americans. We want you to have a better life. The President wants that too. But we part ways when it comes to how to make that happen. So tonight I’d like to share a more hopeful, Republican vision…

One that empowers you, not the government…It’s one that champions free markets — and trusts people to make their own decisions, not a government that decides for you. It helps working families rise above the limits of poverty and protects our most vulnerable.

This is a beautiful explanation of why Republicans believe what they believe. Absent were apologies or tip-toeing so Republicans don’t offend liberals. It was just old-fashioned optimism based on the ability of families to “make their own decisions.” Thankfully, Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ speech wasn’t a laundry list of conservative proposals. This had the feel of a chat at the dinner table. That said, idealism was an integral part of the speech:

The chance to go from my Washington to this one was unexpected.

I came to Congress to help empower people, not politicians, to grow the working middle class, not the government and to ensure that everyone in this country can find a job. Because a job is so much more than just a paycheck; it gives us purpose, dignity, and the foundation to build a future.

While I watched Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ rebuttal to President Obama’s SOTU Address, I thought it was sad that President Obama couldn’t sincerely tout these principles. President Obama talks about empowering individuals but only within the context of government first making things possible.

While the speech was idealistic, it also sent the message to Democrats that Republicans won’t put up with Democrats’ policies of decline:

Because our mission, not only as Republicans, but as Americans, is to once again to ensure that we are not bound by where we come from, but empowered by what we can become.

That is the gap Republicans are working to close. It’s the gap we all face: between where you are and where you want to be. The President talks a lot about income inequality. But the real gap we face today is one of opportunity inequality…And with this Administration’s policies, that gap has become far too wide.

We see this gap growing every single day. We see it in our neighbors who are struggling to find jobs…a husband who’s now working just part-time…A child who drops out of college because she can’t afford tuition or parents who are outliving their life’s savings.

Last month, more Americans stopped looking for a job than found one. Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the President’s policies are making people’s lives harder.

The great thing about Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ speech is that it wasn’t negative. It’s that she offered a vision to get America working again:

Republicans have plans to close the gap, plans that focus on jobs first without more spending, government bailouts, and red tape. Every day, we’re working to expand our economy, one manufacturing job, nursing degree and small business at a time. We have plans to improve our education and training systems so you have the choice to determine where your kids go to school…so college is affordable…and skills training is modernized.

The impressive takeaway was that it connected with people. SR-Bing measured people’s online reactions, splitting it into Republicans, Democrats and independents. While Democrats stayed luke-warm throughout, independents gave Rep. McMorris-Rodgers high marks throughout the speech.

The lesson Republicans should take from Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ speech is that independents appreciate a political party that empowers families, not politicians and bureaucrats.

While it isn’t likely that many people saw Rep. McMorris-Rodgers’ speech, that isn’t what’s important. What’s important is that she’s given Republicans a path forward to winning elections this fall. That’s why this speech was a success.

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Yesterday, I wrote this post highlighting Paul Thissen’s reaction to my post about how unions didn’t build the middle class. The activists in the MOB, aka the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers, aren’t unlike NATO in that, an attack against one is an attack against all of us. When they saw that Speaker Thissen had taken issue with my post, Mitch Berg and the Lady Logician jumped into the discussion. Here’s how the Lady Logician responded to Speaker Thissen’s tweets:

You misrepresent the smaller gov’t policy stance to mean no govt & that is simply NOT what small gov’t ppl want. No one is arguing against roads & education but when govt gets in2 the minutia of telling ppl what lightbulbs 2 buy or what HEALTHCARE to buy or whether or not they can own a specific type of dog, then we are going to argue.

Here’s Mitch’s response to one of Speaker Thissen’s tweets:

The evidence is, in fact, that gov’t research *follows* corp. innovation. Ditto education. Not other way around.

Mitch wasn’t done schooling Speaker Thissen. Here’s the rest of Mitch’s tweets to Speaker Thissen:

So did gov’t build roads out of pure goodwill? Or did biz pay for them? You’re saying government is the only body that can give us clean water? Record shows that’s untrue. Most municipal water systems in the US *started* as private enterprises. Nearly a quarter still are. The “gov’t brings us all riches” argument is the black/white one. Markets, not politics, deal well with nuance. Either is “private enterprise is lost without government”. Or rather it’s a fallacious place to start the conversation. At best, it’s “assisted” by gov’t. But the idea that prosperity follows infrastructure is utterly ahistorical.

That’s a typical Mitch-slap. Spoeaker Thissen probably didn’t realize conservatives were this principled about free markets and limited government. The reality is that Speaker Thissen didn’t address why he thinks government is equipped to run a complex online health insurance business for the entire state. That’s essentially what MNsure is. (That isn’t just my opinion. It’s what Jim Nobles said on Almanac last Friday.)

Was government responding to free markets when they passed legislation that specified what types of lightbulbs could be used? Why did government inject itself into the discussion as to what dogs were legal in Minnesota? Was there an outbreak of dog violence against people? Or were they just inserting themselves into an issue because they were reacting to one of their special interest allies? I’m pretty certain it’s the latter.

Speaker Thissen’s tweet that questioned whether people could get to their jobs or companies could move their goods without public roads dovetails with President Obama’s now-infamous statement that entrepreneurs didn’t build their companies, that government did. That’s BS. Mitch is right in saying that government might assist entrepreneurs but government isn’t what makes businesses thrive.

The Anything But Affordable Care Act is a perfect example of how twisted leftist thinking is. I wrote here about how MNsure made things worse for one Minnesota family:

This Minnesota family is a young married couple with three children. Until ObamaCare and Dayton’s MNsure came along they shared the cost of their Blue Cross-Blue Shield family health insurance policy 50/50 with the father’s employer. Thanks to ObamaCare, the cost of that policy sky rocketed and is no longer affordable to the family. After endless hours of working with MNsure, here is what resulted.

Without the parent’s consent, MNsure jammed their three children onto government insurance. The children are now covered by Medicaid at no cost to the family or employer, but 100 percent cost to the taxpayers. The father had to go with a single insurance plan from his employer and purchase a separate new policy for his wife. Because of the confusion and disarray at MNsure, neither he nor his wife currently has health insurance ID cards for the insurance they have already paid for.

That’s why limited government conservatives complain about government overstepping their constitutional authority. Additionally, this shows government isn’t capable of running a business.

In other words, government should get its claws out of the things it isn’t qualified to do and focus on the things that constitutions limits it to. Limited government conservatives don’t hate government, even though that’s the propaganda that ABM and other leftist propaganda organizations spread. It’s that we understand that the best decisions for families happen at a family’s kitchen table.

It’s time Speaker Thissen figured that out.

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Ken Braun’s article contains a history tutorial that questions whether unions built America’s middle class. Here’s the heart of Mr. Braun’s argument:

Criticizing highly paid union officials for taking lavish trips on the backs of their dues-paying members is often met with a predictable counter-criticism about supposedly “overpaid” CEOs. But there’s an important difference: Unlike labor leaders, the jobs of workers don’t exist without the CEOs.

Executives are necessary at any large corporation. They are either the actual owner (and sometimes founder) of the company, or they are the representative of the ownership (shareholders.) Whether an outsider agrees or not with CEO pay is immaterial. The pay is set by the ownership and based on the creation of profits which make jobs possible. No profits, no company, no jobs.

The UAW doesn’t build cars, and it isn’t necessary to build cars. As recently as 2007, the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency reported that non-union Americans working at U.S. assembly plants owned by foreign automakers built more than one-third of the planet’s American-made cars.

UAW president Bob King recently proposed a hefty 25 percent dues hike on his members. Unlike the financial decisions made by the CEOs of the Detroit Three automakers, King’s plan isn’t going to improve profitability, build a single car, or create auto jobs.

This post isn’t an attempt to vilify unions. It’s putting things in the proper historical perspective. Certainly, there isn’t a credible argument that people, acting in their own self-interest, can’t determine their financial course through life. They’re the people that think they’re commodities, important assets that can market themselves as people who can change the financial trajectory of a business.

People who think like that attract higher wages. The key is whether they create products that add value to society. If they don’t, the market will tell them. If they’re creating things of value, the markets will reward them for their ingenuity.

Here’s another important part of Braun’s argument:

The War itself substantially blasted away the manufacturing spine of the rest of the globe, leaving American manufacturers and their workers in an historically absurd position of super-dominance. With or without a UAW, disproportionate prosperity was going to flow to American workers for decades afterward as the rest of the world recovered from the rubble.

As a result of WWII, the US, specifically Detroit, had the industrial infrastructure to build products that the world needed. Russia, Germany, Japan and other nations simply didn’t have that infrastructure. Industrial infrastructure, skilled labor and a strong work ethic build things. Good intentions don’t. Eventually, Japan rebuilt. After they rebuilt, they became competitive on the world stage again.

Unions didn’t have anything to do with Japan rebuilding. Now that they’ve moved parts of their operations stateside, they’re locating in right-to-work states. Predictably, right-to-work states’ populations are growing. That’s because people love a) the stability of never going on strike, b) lower state income tax rates and c) warmer climates.

This paragraph is a fitting finish to Mr. Braun’s article:

From here forward, middle class jobs will come from smart decisions made by the leaders of American free enterprise – entrepreneurs and executives at companies large and small. Exploitation of workers is most likely to happen when Big Labor bosses cash in the dues money and go to Disney World.

In other words, free markets will reward great ideas.

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Glenn Reynolds’ latest USA Today column highlights why the Anything But Affordable Care Act, aka the ABACA, is destined for failure:

In his excellent book, Two Cheers For Anarchism, Professor James Scott writes:

One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called ‘Irish Democracy,’ the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.

Simply put, people, making decisions based on their own self-interests, are saying no to the ABACA. They’re saying no because it’s a rip-off. It’s a rip-off because it was designed by politicians, whose highest priority was passing a bill, not cutting families’ health care costs.

While the political class worries about ‘the art of the possible’, families worry about doing what’s right for their families. The fact is that politicians ignored their constituents when they wrote this bill in Harry Reid’s and Nancy Pelosi’s offices. By making this federal legislation, President Obama eliminated the states’ experimentation, which is the strength of the US’s federalist system.

Top-down, government-centric systems don’t work because they implement a system that isn’t individualized. Does anyone think that a nation that loves its iPhones and individualized apps would accept a system where their health insurance and health care choices are made for them?

It’s possible that something called the Affordable Care Act will still be in place a decade from now. If it still exists, which isn’t guaranteed, it won’t look anything like the system that’s currently in place.

That’s because Americans aren’t satisfied with accepting conventional wisdom. When we see difficulties, our initial instinct is to fix them.

Now, as February draws near, things don’t look much better. Far fewer than half the number needed by March 31 have signed up. And, as it turns out, most of the people signing up for Obamacare aren’t the uninsured for whom it was supposedly enacted, but people who were previously insured (many of whom lost their previous insurance because of Obamacare’s new requirements). “At most,” writes Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle, “they’ve signed up 15% of the uninsured that they were expecting to enroll. … Where are the uninsured? Did hardly any of them want coverage beginning Jan. 1?” It looks that way.

Based on public sentiment, this would’ve been the right time to let a good crisis go to waste. It’s pretty apparent that the people are speaking with a loud, passionate voice that they want this system scrapped. They aren’t sending mixed signals on this. They aren’t sounding an uncertain alarm. They’re saying that a) they don’t want to return to the previous system and b) they’re rejecting President Obama’s top-down system.

What they’re saying with exceptional clarity is that they want to design a system that a) puts them first, b) puts doctors, not politicians and bureaucrats, in charge of the health care system, c) lowers health care costs and d) lets them create their own network of health care providers.

The Anything But Affordable Care Act is 0-for-4 on those merits. That’s why it’s destined for failure.

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Scott Gottlieb’s post about HealthCare.gov’s conversion rates contains some dry reading but it contains an interesting tidbit. First, a little background to the interesting tidbit:

The day the Obamacare data was released, I was coincidentally meeting with Jonathan Bush, the CEO of Athena Health. So I put the question of conversion rate to him, since he sells a specialized service into the healthcare space. He said that the conversion rate for Athena’s web site, for doctors who visit the site to evaluate Athena’s suite of services and then make a purchase, is 22%.

According to HHS’s own statistics, the conversion rate for HealthCare.gov is 5%. Here’s the interesting tidbit:

The problem is that the Obamcare plans aren’t attractive to consumers. They were designed in Washington to suit political prerogatives rather than being designed in the marketplace to meet the demands of consumers. They’re laden down with costly mandates that leave the products too expensive. The plans try and make up for these costs by using narrow networks of cheap doctors and closed drug formularies.

That’s what happens when government demands socialist policies but families require free market capitalism solutions. While that doesn’t mean much in the short term, it puts the ACA behind the proverbial 8-ball in the long-term. Fighting against the will of the people is a sucker’s bet that the administration will lose. It’s inevitable. People want what they want. Markets respond to what people want, although it isn’t a stretch to say that governments don’t rooutinely respond to what people want.

Here’s what Robert Laszewski said about the Affordable Care Act:

If an entrepreneur had crafted Obamacare he would’ve gone to a middle class family. A family of four make(s) $54,000 a year has to pay $400 in premiums net of subsidy and for that the standard silver plan has an average deductible around $2,500 and a narrow network. They’re going to pay almost $5,000 for that? So the entrepreneur would say I’ve got $5,000 in premium and all this deductible, what do they want for that? And they probably would’ve said we want office visits and lab tests because the kids need to go in occasionally and then we want catastrophic care. The problem with Obamacare is it’s product driven and not market driven. They didn’t ask the customer what they wanted.

Telling families what they want is foolish. It’s like telling American families that they don’t like a gas-using sedans, that they’d rather buy a Volt. How’d that work out?

Here’s another of Mr. Laszewski’s opinions:

I think that’s the fundamental problem with Obamacare. It meets the needs of very poor people because you’re giving them health insurance for free. But it doesn’t really meet the needs of healthy people and middle-class people.

That’s tough criticism but it’s fair criticism. People are staying away in droves. There’s a reason for that. It’s likely that families went shopping but didn’t find products or prices they liked.

That’s what happens when people design things without listening to the people they’re selling the product to.

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Each time that the jobs report is released, the White House posts its spin about what it means. This is from the most recent post about the jobs report:

As our economy continues to make progress, there’s a lot more work to do. Though December’s job growth was less than expected, we continue to focus on the longer-term trend in the economy – 2.2 million private sector jobs added and a 1.2 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate over the course of 2013. Today’s numbers are also a reminder of the work that remains, especially on one of our nation’s most immediate and pressing challenges: long-term unemployment.

What’s interesting is that chronic unemployment doesn’t happen during robust economic recoveries. This chart will cut through the Obama administration’s spin:

According to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve’s statistics, the increase in GDP for the 17 quarters after the 1981 recession was 23.1%. For the 17 quarters since the end of the recession in Q2 of 2009, the gain in GDP has been 10.3%. You can’t see the 17-quarter gain for the Reagan recovery because the growth literally went off the chart.

This isn’t a nostalgia post. Quite the contrary. It’s a comparison between President Reagan’s pro-growth, low taxation, low regulation policies and President Obama’s policies of crippling regulations and major tax increases. The statistics speak for themselves. This chart speaks for itself, too:

According to that graphic, the annualized GDP growth under Reagan topped 7% for 5 straight quarters, with a high of 9.3% for Q3 of 1983.

At the same time during the Great Stagnation under President Obama, annualized growth rates were 3.9%, 3.8%, 2.5% and 2.4%. In short, the Great Stagnation’s statistics indicate that economic growth has been pathetic. President Obama won’t face the voters again but the people who voted for his economic policies will face the voters next November. Every person who voted for the Obama budget is a Democrat. They can talk all they want about preventing another Great Depression with the stimulus but that’s speculation at best.

The recession Reagan inherited was deeper and had more perils to be fixed. America’s industrial infrastructure was crumbling. People were speculating whether the Big 3 automakers would forever trail the Japanese. Those same people wondered if Japan and Germany would be the new economic superpowers.

The Kemp-Roth tax cuts included capital gains tax cuts, which helped Detroit rebuild their assembly lines. In less than 3 years, Detroit was humming with activity.

That was only part of America’s problems. They faced high unemployment and even higher inflation. Thanks to President Reagan’s pro-growth tax and regulatory policies, millions of jobs were created. The unemployment rate dropped dramatically because people got great jobs, not because people quit looking for work. Inflation dropped, too.

Five years after the banking crisis, the economy is still struggling. The jobs being created are mostly part-time jobs. Median household income has dropped. Regulatory burdens are adding crippling compliance costs. Instead of using their profits to create jobs, small businesses are spending that money complying with Washington’s insane regulations.

Reaganomics worked because it gave businesses an incentive to take chances. That’s the only time-tested method for lifting people out of poverty and for turning the middle class into entrepreneurs. President Reagan understood that. President Obama doesn’t.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these graphs and charts are worth a few chapters in a book because they show which policies worked and which policies are failing.

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Greg Gutfeld’s column offers the perfect explanation why the Affordable Care Act, aka the ACA, is destined for failure. Mr. Gutfeld starts by highlighting what iTunes would look like if it was a government invention:

Now imagine if iTunes had been run by the government. This is how I see it:

To enjoy my recently repurchased Marshall Crenshaw’s song “What Do You Dream Of”, I’d have to pay for an additional 19 songs I do not want, in order to help pay for someone else’s desire to listen to Ke$ha. Or worse, Enya. The iPod would come with a mandated airbag, and it would be the size of a baby’s head, and weigh 45 lbs. It would require that 34 percent of the music I purchase be polka. It would probably start overheating after an hour of use, break down, and give you thyroid cancer.

But as a reasonably compensated guy, the government believes that my desires for my music would require purchasing other music I don’t want, and I’d have to subsidize the musical choices belonging to some old guy I don’t even know.

And chances are all the music would suck (think Dave Matthews and Maroon 5). It would all cost more and satisfy less, which is what happens when choice is replaced by coercion.

That’s essentially what the ACA requires. This isn’t pie-in-the-sky. Those are the principles behind the ACA. Young healthies are essential to the equation because their overpaying pays for older, less healthy enrollees. Then Gutfeld explains why it’s destined for failure:

My point: just as civilization is moving toward an endless fragmentation allowing for options beyond our wildest expectations, President Obama believes the opposite course is “the right thing to do.” It is his warped version of progress. It’s no different than a young man staring at the advances in medicine and thinking, “No thanks, I’ll take the newt’s tail and onion powder for my cancer.” Ancient Chinese secrets no longer are acceptable medicine, except with Obamacare, what’s retro is now progress.

It’s like choosing to eat raw meat even when you know fire’s been invented and works reasonably well under certain circumstances. That’s what Obama is doing. He’s staring at a Ferrari V4i, and thinking, “No thanks, I’ll take this penny-farthing.”

There’s no questioning that world is going megachoice. President Obama’s ‘reform’ relies on limiting choice. By definition, the ACA is a dead man walking. The choice movement is the irresistible force. For all of this administration’s efforts to fix HealthCare.gov, the ACA’s biggest flaw is that it limits appealing choices.

So, you can be depressed over Obamacare, because it’s worth being depressed about. But it can’t win. Not against the human, creative mind and its desire for options. Sooner or later it will collapse, and then people will have the freedom to choose — the way health care should have been from the start.

It isn’t a question of whether the ACA will collapse. The only questions still to be answered are when will it collaps and how much destruction will it cause before it collapses. Charles Krauthammer wisely stated that anything that can’t be sustained won’t be.

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The latest Democratic chanting point on the Affordable Care Act has been that President Obama didn’t really break his promise that you could keep your health insurance plan if you liked it. The chanting point has become that the policies getting canceled were substandard policies that insurance companies foisted on unsuspecting dupes (you). That’s certainly the message Henry Aaron is peddling in this article:

Of late, numerous reports have told of people surprised by letters telling them that insurance plans they now have will not be renewed. Many are puzzled. Weren’t they told that if they like their insurance they could keep it? Opponents of health reform in general are seizing on the fact and asking in an accusatorial manner: “Isn’t this a betrayal of trust?”

No. To see why, imagine a new law enacted to promote food purity. As it is being debated, you are told: “If you like what you eat, you can keep on eating it.” The new law takes effect, and one day, you find that the market no longer carries certain foods you have been buying. As it happens, those products included elements found to be bad for your health. The pure food act barred their use.

There’s a huge flaw with this logic. They’re called Cadillac health insurance policies. Last night on Megyn Kelly’s show, a woman talked about how she had such a plan. When her husband got cancer that eventually killed him, the policy saved her family from huge expenses. The treatments cost over $300,000. Thanks to their health insurance policy, their out-of-pocket expenses came to $1,500. That’s in addition to the premiums they paid.

When the policy wasn’t offered anymore, this woman chose to continue this coverage, paying the premiums out of her own pocket. She did the right thing. She wasn’t putting a burden on society. She didn’t complain about not getting her policy subsidized. She just paid the premiums.

This fall, she got a notice that her policy was canceled thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s penalty on Cadillac plans. That’s right. The Affordable Care Act is making Cadillac plans obsolete. That’s why the unions are upset. All these years, they’ve settled for smaller wage increases, which are taxed, in exchange for premium quality health insurance policies, which aren’t taxed.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, these union workers won’t have the option of a Cadillac plan plus they’re stuck with the lower pay increases that they negotiated.

It’s difficult to see how Cadillac plans are the equivalent of “products [that] included elements found to be bad for your health.” The full name of the Affordable Care Act is actually the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. One of the Democrats’ first chanting points was the PPACA would protect families from medical bankruptcies. This lady’s Cadillac health insurance policy did that and then some.

It’s insulting that Mr. Aaron insists that the canceled policies are sub-standard policies. It’s insulting on multiple levels, starting with the fact that those policies can’t be sold if they aren’t first approved by that state’s insurance commissioner.

Early in her political career, Ms. Sebelius was Kansas’ insurance commissioner. Is she now admitting that the policies she approved were sub-standard? When President Obama called these insurance plans sub-standard, he essentially accused the 50 state insurance commissioners incompetent.

Second, in many places, competition among insurers will lower premiums. Bloomberg Government has reported that the more plans offered in an exchange, the lower the premiums.

In Minnesota, a state recognized as a leader in health insurance innovation and access, most rural cities have few options. In fact, many of these places have a single option in terms of insurance providers competing.

Third, people can hold down premiums by selecting plans with comparatively high deductibles.

That option isn’t brought to us by the Affordable Care Act. That was available to clients who had health savings accounts and a catastrophic policy, both of which are illegal under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

The problem was a misdiagnosis of the situation in 2009. The US health care system needed extensive work. It didn’t need to put an incompetent administration in charge of a complex industry. Democrats didn’t need to give bureaucrats the authority of who could keep the health insurance plans they liked. Democrats didn’t need to tell people what insurance policies were “sub-standard” and which ones were government-approved.

What Democrats should’ve done is get out of the way so innovators couls’ve put together a package of real reforms.

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Charles Krauthammer’s latest column offers this advice:

It’s Halloween. There is a knock at your door. You hear: “We’re the government and we’re here to help.”

You hide.

With the Affordable Care Act failing beyond even the most pessimistic Republican’s worst nightmare, that’s sage advice. This, though, is the most disturbing information in Dr. Krauthammer’s column:

So that your president can promise to cover 30 million uninsured without costing the government a dime. Which from the beginning was the biggest falsehood of them all. And yet the free lunch is the essence of modern liberalism. Free mammograms, free preventative care, free contraceptives for Sandra Fluke. Come and get it.

And then when you find your policy canceled, your premium raised and your deductible outrageously increased, you’ve learned the real meaning of “free” in the liberal lexicon: something paid for by your neighbor best, by subterfuge.

That last clause in the last sentence reminded me of this famous quote:

As soon as A observes something which seems to him wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X, or, in better case, what A, B, and C shall do for X… What I want to do is to look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is. I call him the Forgotten Man. perhaps the appellation is not strictly correct. he is the man who never is thought of…. I call him the forgotten man.

There’s a poem that goes with that famous quote. It says “If you promise to not tax me, I promise not to tax thee. Instead, let’s tax that fellow behind the tree.” That’s the essence of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, it can’t survive without the “forgotten man” subsidizing someone else’s health insurance.

In this instance, the forgotten man are really forgotten people. Specifically, they’re called “young healthies” by the pundits. They’re being counted on to buy health insurance they don’t need. If they don’t buy insurance in significant numbers, there isn’t a way for the government or the insurance companies to pay for health care of older people and/or people with pre-existing conditions.

Another forgotten man in this are middle class families who make too much to qualify for premium support but who’ve been getting squeezed with higher taxes and higher costs of goods. They’re getting hit with higher premiums, thanks to A and B conspiring to force the forgotten man, aka middle class families, into buying health care coverages they don’t want or might never need.

That’s why it’s wise to be suspicious of politicians promising free lunches.

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Ed Morrissey’s post about traffic at the HealthCare.gov website is today’s top read. In his post, Ed cites this Washington Post article:

The number of visitors to the federal government’s HealthCare.gov Web site plummeted 88 percent between Oct. 1 and Oct. 13, according to a new analysis of America’s online use, while less than half of 1 percent of the site’s visitors successfully enrolled for health insurance the first week.

Based on a sample of two million users, or 1 percent of all online users in the U.S., which Millward Brown Digital has permission to track, it suggests that the rush of traffic administration officials cited as the cause of the site’s problems trailed off within a matter of days.

Of the 9.4 million unique visitors to the site during the launch’s first week, according to the analysis, roughly a third attempted to register, and a third of that number, 1.01 million, completed registration. Ultimately, roughly 36,000 Americans signed up for an insurance plan online, the report said.

Then Ed included this commentary:

If any commercial web portal only ended up with a 0.384% success rate in its first week of operation followed by an 88% plunge in traffic, the project team would find itself out on the street. If it happened to a publicly-traded company that sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into the project, the CEO and the executive management team would be joining them on the sidewalk.

If the individual mandate and the penalties didn’t exist, people would stay away in droves. To put it in Yogi Berra’s words, it’d sound like this:

If people don’t want to come out to the ball park, nobody’s gonna stop ’em.

That’s what happens when something is voluntary. This administration isn’t into voluntary. Pointing a proverbial gun to people’s head is more this administration’s style. The Affordable Care Act isn’t about free markets matching needs with products. It’s about the federal government telling people what they must do:

Update: The schadenfreude has run deep on the Right over this Daily Kos entry from September:

My wife and I just got our updates from Kaiser telling us what our 2014 rates will be. Her monthly has been $168 this year, mine $150. We have a high deductible. We are generally healthy people who don’t go to the doctor often. I barely ever go. The insurance is in case of a major catastrophe.

Well, now, because of Obamacare, my wife’s rate is gong to $302 per month and mine is jumping to $284.

I am canceling insurance for us and I am not paying any f***ing penalty. What the hell kind of reform is this?

Conservatives have been predicting this since President Obama signed the bill into law. The only thing that’s less surprising than finding out people’s insurance rates are going up is that the federal government ran another deficit last year.

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