Detroit became the largest city in America to seek bankruptcy protection today when a judge ruled them eligible. If the city ends up creating a plan, it is very likely that union contracts will be null and void, leaving them the ability to start from scratch. My guess is that anything possible will be done to keep unions where they are because the Democratic Party is dead without union intervention. This may also become a situation where municipal bonds were actually a terrible investment.
Unions are striking back by any means necessary in Wisconsin, including anonymous one-star Amazon reviews of Scott Walker’s new book. Then there are the John Doe investigations targeting anyone who raised funds for Scott Walker’s recall campaign. Democrats in the state want to dry up fundraising, especially in-state, for Walker’s next campaign. Then they can re-instate collective bargaining, make teachers pay union dues involuntarily and put them in the union-owned health insurance plan again. They’ll lose income, but at least they’ll also be afraid of having their tires slashed for speaking against the union.
There are two choices for states. Either reduce your public union costs now or go bankrupt later. Even if Walker loses next year, he will still win because people in the state know how it could be. As for Detroit, they’re another casualty of the Obama touch.
It appears that progressives are trying to use state government to praise a federal government program. One of the hallmarks of Obamacare advocacy is making arguments that contradict other arguments that are already hard to verify or believe. Republicans are admonished to accept Obamacare because it is “settled law” after the Supreme Court decided on the law. One of the decisions by the Supreme Court was that Medicaid was administered by states and therefore cannot be expanded against the wishes of a state’s government. Obamacare itself was written so that states could opt out of creating exchanges.
This is not a minor issue. The Senate had a lot of reasons to be afraid of passing the ACA. Some of the less liberal Democrats were concerned for their future election prospects if they let the federal government “force” states to do things. It’s why they enforced Obama’s original promise of letting people keep their health plans. The Supreme Court voted on the law as written, and states are free to avoid exchanges and not let additional people explode Medicaid rolls.
Are Republicans acting in bad faith by not letting the federal government do what they want? To make that argument, you have to accept that the Obama White House also acted in bad faith. The president made a deal with House members to separate coverage of abortion and contraception. Instead, the HHS secretary has held the line, making both items mandatory for all employers to offer. Then there is the whole “if you like it, you can keep it” thing. Not only is a plan not Obamacare compliant if it doesn’t meet certain expensive standards, insurance companies won’t offer those plans anymore. The standards for compliance were created around the same time the bill was passed. The lie stood for three years before it was discovered by everyone.
Even with the abstentions, California and New York (about 1/6 of the US population) are supposedly enrolling record numbers. In New York’s case, however, people have just 3 weeks to be covered by January 1, 2014. Their website is using a registration system already developed to make any New Yorker who wants to do anything online with the state create an online account. They are also bypassing a lot of the subsidy nonsense by throwing everyone with a low enough income into Medicaid.
The dirty secret is not that the Obamacare website is terrible, (it is) but that a successful purchase means a major increase in cost for the unsubsidized consumer. Most states that opted out of exchanges also opted out of Medicaid expansion. If people going to Healthcare.gov cannot get on Medicaid, they face a new Obamacare plan (probably through major donor Blue Cross) that runs about 20% of the median income. Under the employer mandate, they can’t offer an employee a plan more than 10% of their income. A malfunctioning website is better than a working website handing out unaffordable insurance.
I was surprised and saddened to hear about the death of Paul Walker. For those who don’t know him, he was one of the stars of the popular “The Fast and the Furious” movie franchise. I was not exposed to these movies until just this summer, when I was schooled in the franchise by someone who wanted me to go the the sixth movie with them. Like many franchises, Fast and Furious started out as an augmented reality based on a magazine article about street racing. The first had Walker as an undercover Fed trying to catch truck hijackers. The second was an investigation into organized crime. By the fifth movie, Walker, the original gang and other characters brought in along the way were committing international heists against drug lords.
Paul Walker himself was an interesting amalgam of America. His was the son of a fashion model and a sewer contractor. Raised a Mormon, he entered Hollywood at a young age, playing kids and teenagers in the 1980s and 90s. The first Fast and Furious movie was released in 2001 and made him a household name. Walker himself loved cars and that was a major factor in his death.
The sixth movie in the series came out last month on DVD and had been in the news lately. Breitbart.com had two articles about the movie and the series in the last week. This piece explains what’s good about the franchise and why Hollywood should follow its example. One thing I try to remember is Andrew Breitbart’s statement that politics is downstream from culture. As much as we point out the flaws in the entertainment industry, we have to shine a light on what’s right about the industry as well and help to encourage it.
Rest in Peace, Paul Walker. May your example lives on.
It looks like there are only three weekends of shopping until the obligatory day of giving gifts is upon us. There’s a week less for the people celebrating Hanukkah this week. I plan to give a gift in everyone’s name to The Human Fund.
Black Friday has recently become the day that labor activists complain about all the employers and the hours they make people work. Other times of the year, they lament the fact that jobs have moved to China, where there isn’t an industry devoted to paying people the maximum amount to do the minimum amount of labor. Black Friday’s description is not one of foreboding. This is the day retailers usually expect to get into the black and revenue exceeds expenses.
Think about that. These businesses operate for 11 months out of the year just to break even. They may not be charities that exist just to employ people, but it seems to be one of the by-products. An employee can expect to work over four months just to pay federal taxes. The employer is in a similar, yet bigger, boat. The secret is that very few businesses are a true license to print money. For one thing, government requires the license be paid for. Plus, if a business were pure profit, everyone would open one.
This year’s labor story was about the number of places opening on Thanksgiving. This is annoying, but hardly unexpected. Plus, the evidence shows that people went to shop on Thanksgiving Day, proving right the instincts of retailers. It’s also why I don’t feel particularly bad about the employee / manager of a Pizza Hut who kind of resigned over opening on Thanksgiving. I feel for the franchise owner who has to consider the potential for revenue on a day where many more stores are open and people get hungry when they’re out shopping. If you think being open for 11 months before a profit is bad, add a couple more weeks and you see the profit margin of a restaurant.
I end up looking at this from a cultural perspective. Blue laws used to regulate the hours of certain businesses, especially on weekends and holidays. Consumers in their infinite wisdom, found these laws to be too restrictive on the right to shop. The result is unrestrained capitalism. At least more people have jobs now. They can rest when Obamacare takes their job away next Thanksgiving.
Since cowboy movies fell out of favor, many of us got our first exposure to Indians from classrooms or stories about Thanksgiving. This was a celebration of survival and thanks for the one thing that human beings cannot reclaim, life itself. Early settlers were in an equal or lesser position than the native inhabitants of the United States. They have few provisions and were ill-prepared for living off the land with harsher winters than most of Europe. The early days were marked with help and trading between the two communities.
Native Americans (who likely came from Eurasia) occupied most of the United States as various tribes. The tribes warred and traded at times in their histories, as each tribe had different cultural aspects from each other. Low population density and satisfactory natural resources kept these tribes at a low technological level, rarely leaving any permanent structures. Some groups were even nomadic. This likely led to some of the “bad” deals made when Europeans bought land for small amounts of money. To them, it meant that they could keep everyone else off that land forever.
Native Americans groups and their sympathizers have made an industry out of the shoddy treatment they have gotten by the “white man” for the last 400 years. In America, there is a recourse for such grievances and many tribes have taken the government to court for three centuries over them. Trying to go outside of legal bounds has become an exercise in guilt-tripping Americans to somehow both leave all the good parts of the United States while still leaving all the nice buildings and technology Native Americans enjoy today.
The reality is that these tribes are not monolithic and certainly not all saints. The ones who slaughtered American soldiers at the Battle of Little Bighorn were not the liberal fantasy of the peace-loving spiritual framer. The lopsided result was due to the overwhelming superiority of European and American technology. The Native Americans who live in squalor today are doing so for the same reasons Americans live in squalor. They have both decided to live off the government.
Much like a Tea Party rally, the descendants of European “conquerors” have left the United States in vastly superior shape than when they landed on Plymouth Rock. Would a Native American complaining on TV today really want to have all their ancestral land back if it meant living off the land and in the dirt, uncertain of where their next meal is coming from? Would they bury their useless iPod and sit by the fire in rancid animal skins?
Thanks, America. Some of us are welcome.
Those of us who (grudgingly) supported Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012 kept trying to look for the fables preference cascade. I mentioned it four times before the election. My hope was that conservatives were already against Obama and independents and moderates would finally be tired of him. The problem is that motivating the uncommitted is like herding cats. The cascade has to start among the ranks of the most devoted.
You won’t see Obama’s inner circle or the more famous Obama supporters (like the ones in the media) turning on him. They are the inner circle. They not only have a financial and social reason to prop him up, they also gave up on really believing in anything when Obama started playing both sides well into his first year in office. Almost immediately after October 1, President Obama started losing the support and forgiveness of his foot soldiers.
The last president to have broad support among almost all groups was Ronald Reagan. Since then, Democrats have decided to close ranks, trying to hold the 40% or so needed to attract the other 10% and win enough votes to secure elections. It’s not that white men choose their candidates to oppose the choice of women and minorities, this group was ejected from the Democratic Party to make the rest feel like special snowflakes. The fact that most Democrats in power are white males is purely coincidental.
Barack Obama was chosen for the same reason any crooked cop or politician is. He was willing to look the other way as money went from the federal budget to the party’s donors. Obama frequently greased the skids as well, when he wasn’t collecting his fundraising rewards. He was also comfortable with exploiting a paranoid siege mentality where the slightest hyperbole by a conservative was treated like a call to violence. How many times have peaceful opponents been called dangerous?
Those who once supported Obama were the targets of the most abuse. Showing the world at large that there was life after turning on Obama might encourage others to do the same. This whack-a-mole strategy is why is takes a cascade to change the minds of people. The cascade came in the form of millions of true believers either signing up for more expensive insurance or getting letters cancelling their current plans. Obama’s approval went from the 40s to the 30s and the best he can hope is that it will level off.
I finally got that change, 13 months too late. Hooray.
The international deal with Iran, where they get their money back from sanctions that barely work so that they have no impediments, was dropped on us Saturday night. On Sunday, only Israel (and Saudi Arabia, interestingly enough) seemed to oppose it. Of course, the UN is essentially an anti-Semitic hate group who constantly looks for ways to diminish Israel.
And yet, Sarah Palin was smart enough to bring us back to the reason why this deal is not in our American specific interest either. She asked if the arrangement included the release of Americans jailed for being Christians. Iran is a theocracy, something our founders thought was a bad idea. International law allows them to be lousy to their own people, but the line stops at Americans, whether they were born in Iran or not.
Given the low opinions Democrats have of Barack Obama and the unique relationship America has with Israel, this agreement could be overridden in the Senate with 67 votes (or 51, did Harry Reid change that yet?) A veto override is usually the last step to the land of lame ducks. It’s just hard to decide sometimes if Obama’s foreign policy is worse than his domestic policy.
One of the things Fox News enjoys is to refer to MSNBC as NBC News. MSNBC is a different organization with different leadership and a different news philosophy, sort of. In the real world, however, there is little separation between the two. Brian Williams’ first show was on MSNBC at 9pm doing a late nightly news broadcast. Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell are firmly in both channels. Much of MSNBC’s news content is provided by the network.
Sarah Palin has been trying to re-forge a relationship with NBC. In 2008, Palin was set up on a number of hostile interviews by Nicolle Wallace, one of the likely sources for “Game Change,” especially since Wallace does not come off as a moron in the book. She appeared on Today the same week ABC was promoting Katie Couric, essentially neutering ABC’s potential ratings boom. She recently was interviewed by Matt Lauer about her new book and handled herself very effectively.
However, with the lack of real repercussion for the words of MSNBC’s Martin Bashir against her has made it necessary for Palin to let NBC News know there are some consequences. She has publicly dropped plans for a multi-part series of interviews with Lauer from Wasilla, Alaska. It was nothing Lauer or Today did, but what NBC did not do to sanction the hosts that use the NBC banner to spew hatred. It goes right to the heart of any corporate relationship. Discourage behavior by hurting them financially. If Palin were to make the further step of moving her interview to Good Morning America, it would be a major reversal.
Sometimes it takes building a relationship to be able to use it for change.