This isn't at all fully thought through, but it's been on my mind, and it's the basis of more work that I have coming down the pike. (It's the theoretical basis for a newer Campaign Countdown). So herewith. The question on my mind is distinguishing between a thesis like "Boomers are responsible for X" and a thesis like "the ruling class is responsible for X." I believe the first thesis is nonsense (leaving aside the pragmatics of it), and the second is not. This post is an attempt to explain why.
Take the thesis that "Boomers are responsible for X" (Please!). I don't agree with it in the slightest. I need to work this out more fully, but in short form, I think that thesis is a sort of category error. (An older tech friend of mine suggests that "is" be replaced, where found, with "can be characterized by'; what follows partakes of that flavor.)
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Like I've been saying, ObamaCare and the website debacle are a teaching opportunity for single payer
Nancy Folbre provides a fine example in the Times. I'll quote her conclusion, which I think should have been the lead:
A single-payer insurance system, whether based on an extension of Medicare or on the Canadian model, promises many profoundly important benefits. Right off the mark, it promises simplicity.
Why should it have been the lead? Because it speaks to the ordinary
consumer citizen, to whom the case for single payer must be made. (Yes, I know the Times demographic skews way away from the poor schlubs like us, but you want the Times demographic regurgitating a lead will propagate as widely as possible.)
The rest of the article is pitched to policy makers and influencers and NPR-believers, but not the worse for that: Read below the fold...
[W]hile the IRS is in charge of enforcing the individual mandate, Health and Human Services will handle applications for people who want to be exempted. Millions are likely to apply for those exemptions, including the 5.2 million low-income people who live in states that did not expand Medicaid.
“The IRS is in an unenviable position because the data is coming from HHS, and I wouldn’t be very confident they’ll do much better here than on their other tasks,” said Brian Haile, a health policy analyst with the tax firm Jackson Hewitt.
For long-term deficit reduction, lawmakers would need to change the biggest drivers of the debt, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which make up almost half of federal spending. Many lawmakers are hesitant to trim these programs with a record number of Americans living in poverty and amid pushback from interest groups including AARP, the nation’s largest seniors’ lobby with 37 million members.
Republican aides said the chances of a smaller-scale agreement hinge on whether Murray drops her demand that so-called loophole closings be part of a deal and instead accepts increased user fees as a form of revenue. Republicans may be willing to offer concessions such as extending unemployment benefits to reach a deal, they said.
I like it a lot better when they're posturing and fighting and getting nothing done than when they're quiet. When they're quiet, they're co-operating, and that means they're up to no good. Read below the fold...
Not just the football players raping a 16-year-old girl (brought to national attention by Anonymous, to their great credit) but the high school administrators obstructing justice by trying to cover it up:
Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey faces three felony counts [from the grand jury]: one charge of tampering with evidence and two counts of obstructing justice. He also is charged with making a false statement and obstructing official business, both misdemeanors, [Republican Attorney General Mike] DeWine said.
Also indicted was elementary school principal Lynnett Gorman and wrestling coach Seth Fluharty, both of whom are charged with misdemeanor failure to report child abuse. Volunteer assistant Steubenville football coach Matt Bellardine was charged with four misdemeanors: allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business, making a false statement and contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child.
In October, [the grand jury] indicted William Rhinaman, 53, the director of technology for Steubenville City Schools, on charges of tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, obstructing official business and perjury.
I tend to think of corruption as pay-offs: Money in an envelope from a developer to a code enforcement officer, or a bankster wining and dining the municipal finance authorities; "under the table" stuff. (And we certainly have a rich vocabulary for corruption, don't we?) But this corruption -- the evidence tampering -- is different and perhaps more insidious. WaPo: Read below the fold...
Imagine that. Kaiser Health News:
Many doctors are disturbed they will be paid less -- often a lot less -- to care for the millions of patients projected to buy coverage through the health law’s new insurance marketplaces.
Some have complained to medical associations, including those in New York, California, Connecticut, Texas and Georgia, saying the discounted rates could lead to a two-tiered system in which fewer doctors participate, potentially making it harder for consumers to get the care they need.
If you're Walmart running a clinic, that's not a bug. It's a feature. Anyhow, what's wrong with a two-tiered system? The poor deserve to suffer! Read below the fold...
In a state where 15 percent of the population, about 640,000 people, are uninsured, 56,422 have signed up for new health-care coverage, with 45,622 of them enrolled in Medicaid and the rest in private health plans, according to figures released by the governor’s office Friday.
So, remind me what we need the Marketplace -- and the mandate -- for in the first place? Read below the fold...
The Times has a horrifying story under a dull headline:
Tension and Flaws Before Health Website Crash
Yes, well, an oncoming "train wreck" will do that.
[O]ver the past three years five different lower-level managers held posts overseeing the development of HealthCare.gov, none of whom had the kind of authority to reach across the administration to ensure the project stayed on schedule.
As a result, the president’s signature initiative was effectively left under the day-to-day management of Henry Chao, a 19-year veteran of the Medicare agency with little clout and little formal background in computer science.
Mr. Chao had to consult with senior department officials and the White House, and was unable to make many decisions on his own. “Nothing was decided without a conversation there,” said one agency official involved in the project, referring to the constant White House demands for oversight.
Yet that same White House also let Obama swan around the country making ludicrous statements like this, four days before launch:
“[OBAMA:] This is real simple. It’s a website where you can compare and purchase affordable health insurance plans side by side the same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak, same way you shop for a TV on Amazon. You just go on, and you start looking, and here are all the options.”
That's complete management dysfunction.* Read below the fold...
Yes. I remember where I was; I was in (public) school, in the third grade. The school closed down, but didn't make any kind of announcement, which was weird. My mother came to pick me up, and told me the news. Read below the fold...
White House recommends Democrats use the economy as a bright shiny object to distract from ObamaCare
Eager to draw contrasts with Republicans, the White House is pushing its economic agenda as it attempts to give Democrats something to talk about other than the troubled health care rollout.
The White House is deploying Vice President Joe Biden and Cabinet members across the country, drawing attention to improvements in the still sluggish economic recovery and detailing the costs of last month's partial government shutdown.
Sluggish in the same way that a dead parrot is sluggish ("OBAMA: It's resting. Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plumage!").
Meanwhile: Read below the fold...
What a great rant. True, true, true. I've always hated "folks," and now I know why:
The Way We Live Now: Just Us Folks
The word is everywhere, a plague spread by the President of the United States, television anchors, radio talk show hosts, preachers in megachurches, self-help gurus, and anyone else attempting to demonstrate his or her identification with ordinary, presumably wholesome American values. Only a few decades ago, Americans were addressed as people or, in the more distant past, ladies and gentlemen.
Now we are all folks. Television commentators, apparently confusing themselves with the clergy, routinely declare that “our prayers go out to those folks” — whether the folks are victims of drought, hurricane, flood, child molestation, corporate layoffs, identity theft, or the war in Iraq (as long as the victims are American and not Iraqi). Irony is reserved for fiction.....
While the word “folks” was once a colloquialism with no political meaning, there is no escaping the political meaning of the term when it is reverently invoked by public officials in twenty-first-century America. After the terrorist bombings in London on July 7, 2005, President Bush assured Americans, “I’ve been in contact with our homeland security folks and I instructed them to be in touch with local and state officials about the facts of what took place here and in London and to be extra vigilant as our folks start heading to work.”
Bush went on to observe that “the contrast couldn’t be clearer, between the intentions of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who’ve got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks.” Those evil terrorists. Our innocent folks. ...
The specific political use of folks as an exclusionary and inclusionary signal, designed to make the speaker sound like one of the boys or girls, is symptomatic of a debasement of public speech inseparable from a more general erosion of American cultural standards. Casual, colloquial language also conveys an implicit denial of the seriousness of whatever issue is being debated: talking about folks going off to war is the equivalent of describing rape victims as girls (unless the victims are, in fact, little girls and not grown women).
Yes, yes, YES!!!! Read below the fold...
[Previously posted at Naked Capitalism. This my second long-form attempt to show the ethical failure at the heart of the ObamaCare marketplace. I still don't seem to have found the right language. --lambert]
I probably shouldn't even tangle with David Cutler; he's from Harvard, and he's wicked smart. Anyhow. Also too, he advised the 2008 Obama Campaign on health care. But there were some things he said in this recent interview with PBS (and in his now famous 2010 letter to Larry Summers) that really ticked me off, and so I want to lay down a few markers. First, let's look at two charts: Read below the fold...