Here is a handy-dandy way to determine whether the failure to order some exam or treatment constitutes rationing: If the patient were the president, would he get it? If he’d get it and you wouldn’t, it’s rationing.
It may seem absurd to worry about whether wealthy or well-insured people get every last test and exotic or speculative treatment when millions of Americans have no health insurance and millions more have gaping holes in their coverage. But the well-insured happen to include virtually all the people making the key decisions about health-care reform — members of Congress and their staffs, the White House staff, Washington journalists, and so on. These people’s fears that they would lose the right to “choose my own doctor” (code for getting treatment with all the bells and whistles) helped kill Hillary Clinton’s attempt to reform health care in the early 1990s. Fear of rationing could kill Obamacare for the same reason.
California has exerted a weird, hypnotic pull lately, as Americans have watched the Golden State roll toward what might just be financial Armageddon. The state government is facing a $24 billion deficit, but Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento, Calif., are showing very little ability to get the problem solved.
As a result, California is “less than 50 days away from a meltdown of state government,” the state controller said last week.
It’s hard to know whether to stare in horror or avert your eyes.
Our advice: Stare. Because in California’s example, there are lessons for Minnesotans and North Dakotans to learn.
One such lesson has to do with public-employee pensions and a state’s fiscal health. California faces unfunded public employee retirement benefits of somewhere between $300 billion and $1 trillion, a panel discussion at the Milken Institute’s State of the State Conference concluded in May.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to move ahead with the nomination of Mary Smith to head the Justice Department’s Tax Division, over Republican objections that Smith lacks significant relevant experience.
At a committee meeting, three Republican senators spoke against Smith, noting that she has never held a job specializing in tax law. She has never written or spoken on tax issues, does not have a specialized degree, and has never taken a continuing legal education course in tax law, said the committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
“Tax law is very specialized and it’s certainly not an area where you learn on the job,” Sessions said. He argued that Smith could be an embarrassment to the administration, saying, “You should not put people in a job they’re not prepared to handle.”
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called Smith the “worst choice” that President Barack Obama has made in all of his appointments. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the Republican whip, said there must be “thousands of highly experienced tax lawyers who would love to have a job like this.”
No Democrats spoke in defense of Smith before voting for her, though Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) noted that the committee has received letters supporting her nomination ….
Smith is a partner at Schoeman Updike Kaufman & Scharf in Chicago. … The committee voted 12-7 along party lines to send Smith’s nomination to the full Senate
Imagine you had to pick someone to shepherd a gigantic multinational corporation through a bankruptcy in order to salvage it. Would you look for someone with extensive experience in the firm’s industry, or would you prefer someone with demonstrated savvy on Wall Street in turning around troubled firms? If the firm made cars, perhaps you could think of it as a choice between a Lee Iacocca or a Mitt Romney.
Or, maybe, you’d just pick someone from the mail room, as Barack Obama apparently has in the GM bankruptcy:
It is not every 31-year-old who, in a first government job, finds himself dismantling General Motors and rewriting the rules of American capitalism.
But that, in short, is the job description for Brian Deese, a not-quite graduate of Yale Law School who had never set foot in an automotive assembly plant until he took on his nearly unseen role in remaking the American automotive industry.
Nor, for that matter, had he given much thought to what ailed an industry that had been in decline ever since he was born. A bit laconic and looking every bit the just-out-of-graduate-school student adjusting to life in the West Wing — “he’s got this beard that appears and disappears,” says Steven Rattner, one of the leaders of President Obama’s automotive task force — Mr. Deese was thrown into the auto industry’s maelstrom as soon the election-night parties ended.
“There was a time between Nov. 4 and mid-February when I was the only full-time member of the auto task force,” Mr. Deese, a special assistant to the president for economic policy, acknowledged recently as he hurried between his desk at the White House and the Treasury building next door. “It was a little scary.”
Scary? Well, yes, and not just for Mr. Deese, whose executive experience actually is less than Obama’s. He’s never run any business, let alone worked in the auto industry. He joined the Hillary Clinton campaign by taking a hiatus from law school, which he began after working as an assistant to Gene Sperling, now an advisor to Tim Geithner. His entire resume consists of campaign work.
Perhaps Deese will do a good job, but I’m not terribly sanguine about the prospects of GM prospering under the guidance of someone who hasn’t ever met a payroll or sold a car. A President who took his own job seriously would never have appointed a second-tier adviser to this position. A national media who took their jobs seriously wouldn’t let him get away with it, and don’t count this NYT piece in their favor. They give a glowing report to this political-hackery appointment.
What is the greatest mystery in American history? Rattle off a few answers. I bet you won’t think of mine…
Here is my nominee for biggest mystery: the decline and fall of public school education. Don’t agree? Give me a minute and I’ll convince you.
Here are the towering facts: The U.S. spends a huge amount on education; more per student than anyone else; more and more every year. Simultaneously, over the last 70 years, literacy has fallen, SAT scores have fallen, American competitiveness has fallen, and the general knowledge of ordinary citizens has fallen. Teenagers graduate from high school who can’t read their diplomas; the country now has 50,000,000 functional illiterates. I recently saw on television that the wealthiest, most successful country in the world–that would be us–hovers around 18th internationally on reading, and 25th in science.
I submit that all of these facts taken together are paradoxical; one might say, impossible. It’s as if I told you that an ordinary man consumed 5000 calories a day and lost weight. So this, I submit, is the greatest mystery in our history.
But why have our educators allowed this decline to take place? Or is “allowed” a trick word, and they have actually abetted this failure? Ah, mystery on top of mystery. This is a puzzle that academic historians should be trying to solve.
For starters, can’t we all agree that genuine experts, making a sincere effort, would have our schools functioning at a higher level? Why, oh why, don’t our educators do a much better job?
In the interest of brevity, let me just list the three most common answers given to that question:
1. Our educators mean well but they get caught up in fads.
2. Our educators have a lot of bad luck. Who could guess that all their wonderful ideas would have so many unintended consequences?
3. A harsher theory is that our educators, alas, are nitwits. (Smart people, it’s often remarked, don’t go into Education.)
The problem with all these theories is that, if true, we would see a greater range of outcomes. After all, there are thousands of these people. Now and then they’d have to get lucky; the law of averages would have to have its day. There’s only one problem with this: there are, it seems to me, no successful results, and no good ideas. All we see is a grinding mediocrity.
It goes beyond a failure to find ideas that increase education; many have embraced ideas that are clearly destructive. Our experts really don’t seem all that interested in education as most people understand this term. Reading, writing, arithmetic, and geography, for example, don’t seem to be priorities. What we see in education makes sense only if we assume that our educators have an agenda we don’t know about, or that they are malevolent, or both.
So what agenda, you’re wondering, are they actually focused on? What’s the answer to the mystery? Here is my deduction: that those at the top of the Education Industrial Complex, since the time of John Dewey, have been collectivists first, and educators second or third. The goal of creating an educated child was too often superceded by the goal of creating a cooperative child.
Broadly speaking, they undermined educational success in two ways. First, they found reasons to delete and dilute the curriculum. Second, the things they did teach, they often taught in confusing, unhelpful ways. I could reel off a list of 50 failed pedagogies, none of which lived up to the hype or the hope, things such as New Math, Reform Math, Constructivism, Bilingual Education, Self Esteem, et cetera.
The paradigm of bad pedagogies, of course, is Whole Word, I.E. any non-phonics way of teaching reading. Around 1931, every public school in the country was told that phonics was out, and the children should be taught by Look-Say (think Dick and Jane). This switch is one of most amazing (and revealing) events in American educational history. Try to think of another instance where a profession abruptly decided to reverse everything ordinarily done for centuries.
Once you assume that all these conclusions are true, you find there’s no mystery at all. Everything that’s happened in American education is as logical as 1 + 2 = 3. My estimation is that if we tossed out the ideological admixture, we’d see steady improvement. Don’t think we can improve things by tweaking around the edges. We need an intervention. We need surgery.
Although a little too late for my tastes (in consideration of the current political structure), I find this a little too late but still worth the read:
Dear friends, family, loved ones, conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, my brother in law, Sam, and my cousin Joe: I am sorry and you were right.
These are not easy words for anyone to utter, much less a leftist from Berkeley, or a recovering leftist, that is. Even though I’ve been in recovery for 14 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days, leftists are always right in your face, in an I-hate-you-if-you-disagree sort of way. Hence, this letter of amends to all the people I’ve lectured, scolded, ranted and raved at, and otherwise annoyed during my 30 plus years of “progressive” politics.
My recovery program urges a fierce moral inventory, a cleansing of heart and mind (kind of like a “forgiveness tour” but without the scary dictators), so here goes:
- Anti-Catholic Legislation
- Atlas Shrugged
- Bills I Support
- BO – Biography
- Capping Pay
- Credit Crisis
- Disenfranchise Voters
- Equal Opportunity
- EU Ratification
- Food Stamps
- Former Obama Supporters
- Free Market Economics
- Free Press
- Free Speech
- Global Warming
- Going green
- Government Debt
- Health Care
- Liberal Business
- Mark Levin
- Michelle Obama
- Minister of Culture
- Neutral Govt
- Obama & Bush
- Obama – Cabinet
- Obama – Domestic Policy
- Obama – Foreign Policy
- Obama – Fundraising
- Obama – Housing Bill
- Obama – Spending Bills
- Obama – Stimulus Bill
- Obama Budget
- Obey Obama
- Personal Amusement
- Personal Debt
- Political Attacks
- Preventing Credit Fraud
- Record Collections
- Redistribution of Wealth
- School Shootings
- Science and Politics
- socialized medicine
- Space exploration
- Strange but True
- tax cheats
- Tax Cuts
- Tea Party
- The Left
- Tolerant Liberals
- Town Hall
- United Nations
- Useful Idiots
- Voting Rights