Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mao's Great Famine‏

An email from a Western correspondent living in China who was once himself a Maoist

Well I've been reading again -- this time going over old familiar territory using new, unbelievable sources: Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe as reported in national, provincial and city archives in China.

Can it be possible? - Author Frank Dikotter, China historian in HK, claims a new law allows such access and basically confirms the details of what we knew generally back in the 70's. Whereas we used transcripts of mainland radio broadcasts and reports of mainland newspapers and magazines, refugee accounts and documents smuggled out, he got access to official documents which, while they have shortcomings, add a degree of authenticity and first person, including the words of major players as reported in provincial reports of meetings in Beijing. No-one comes out well, even those who were persecuted for their honesty, as they were usually enthusiastic supporters before they saw for themselves the degree of horror in the countryside.

Their disillusionment was they thought officials at the lower levels, people were better than they! -- e.g unrealistic grain seizure quotas were increased at every level before they got to central level. They were often met by starving villagers to death -- i.e. The Chairman's delusional and venal behaviour was reflected at all levels of the party with any villager questioning the quotas being branded a bourgois conservative, anti-party element and often beaten to death.

I guess this marks the beginning of a whole new genre of revisionist scholarship bound to embarrass Professor Barme and the New Sinologists who appear to insist we should draw a line under 1978 and ignore anything before it!

As for me it only underscores the inadequacy of my mea culpa. And what of those who still cry Shihuizhuyi hao! (Socialism is great!)? Are present-day officials any better? Only a matter of degree perhaps.

One typical line from the good Chairman. "It is necessary for half of the people to die so the other half can eat their fill!" The legendary Zhou making endless calls to local cadres in 1959 demanding they fulfil their quotas despite knowledge of the famine.

The official policy of exporting grain to one and all, often free, to demonstrate the superiority of Chinese Communism. Liu Shaoqi giving the GLF his enthusiastic support. The enormous loss of state stored grain due to neglect, insects, rot, theft and corrpuption extending up to 80% in some places. Deng Xiaoping insisting quotas be collected ruthlessly "As in war". Its all very depressing reading.


Obamacare Reality Bites: And HHS waivers

The Obama-inspired overhaul of medical insurance has just started to kick in, and already reality, in the form of economic law, is biting back. Companies are canceling or threatening to cancel coverage because the new terms of doing business make business as usual uneconomical. For example, some insurance companies announced they would no long write child-only policies. The new rules say that beginning now, no insurer can refuse coverage to an already-ill child and that the premiums can’t be higher than those charged for well children. (In a few years the “antidiscrimination” rule will apply to adults.)

Anyone with a smidgen of economic knowledge – heck, how about just some common sense? – would know that this cannot work. How can you run an insurance company when parents can wait until their children are seriously ill to buy coverage — and then the insurer can’t set the premium according to the expected medical services. That’s not insurance. It’s welfare filtered through business.

Well, now, when the companies announced they would stop writing those policies, the Department of Health and Human Services relented and waived the rule (at least for a while).

A pattern emerges. Companies claim they can’t live with a particular Obamacare mandate, and HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius issues a waiver. When McDonald’s and other companies said that their limited mini-med policies would become prohibitively expensive if the government enforced its no-benefit-cap rule, Sebelius granted a waiver. She is now considering a request for a waiver of the rule mandating no less than an 80-85 percent medical loss ratio on mini-med polices. That’s the percentage of revenues paid in benefits rather than administrative costs. Companies with a high workforce turnover say insurance administrative costs are naturally higher than with a stable workforce and thus the mandated medical loss ratio is impractical. (It’s been pointed out that the medical loss ratio was not intended as a measure of efficiency.)

At issue here is not the details of the more than two thousand pages of law. It’s the discretionary power the government has acquired because of it. A one-size-fits-all law was written by Congress. During the debate over the legislation many of us warned that such an approach would defy the laws of economics and would therefore have undesirable unintended consequences. We said, for example, that price caps which ignore real market conditions would cause producers to exit the market, leaving people without services they want.

So Secretary Sebelius is busy granting waivers. On one level this is good: The direct consequences of Obamacare will be less severe than they would have been. But at another level this is not good at all. Obamacare has increased the amount of discretionary power bureaucrats have over our lives. Whatever standard HHS uses in judging waiver requests will be arbitrary. How big does a hardship have to be before a request gets a favorable ruling? Will a company’s CEO have to be careful about criticizing the Obama administration – even on nonmedical issues – for fear that a future waiver request might be turned down? Bureaucrats are human too. (Sebelius has warned insurers not to publicly blame premium increases on Obamacare mandates.)...

Finally, we readily describe the negative effects of this law as “unintended consequences.” I’d like to suggest that they may not be so unintended. It is hard to believe that some of the higher-ups did not realize that price controls and similar restrictions would push insurers out of the market. I would not be surprised to learn that this was widely anticipated and that the ruling elite intended to exploit problem to amass even more power over medical insurance. One need not be a conspiracy aficionado to think this. One need only understand purposive human action.



The Lies of ObamaCare

Yet more evidence is emerging that Obamacare is a lie, a complete fraud perpetrated on the American people. Prior to congressional enactment of the legislation, Barack Obama promised in his State of the Union Address that it would “reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses.”

Now we know that’s a lie. Not only are insurance companies already warning of higher premiums because of Obamacare, now the Department of Justice (DOJ) is preparing to sue Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan because, get this, premiums are too low.

Specifically, because the insurer negotiates with hospitals and other health care providers for the lowest possible rates for its customers, Obama’s DOJ is arguing that that is increasing the costs for everyone else. Never mind that Blue Cross covers 2.4 million people in Michigan, or about 27.7 percent of those with insurance in the state.

Those 2.4 million people just are not paying enough, according to Obama.

So, they will wind up paying more for their health care if the Administration’s lawsuit succeeds. Why? Because if Blue Cross’ contracts with hospitals and other health care providers are deemed invalid, it will not result in others getting the same rates as Blue Cross had. It will mean that Blue Cross customers will pay as much as everyone else.

Further, it will set a precedent that no company can negotiate for a lower rate. This puts the lie to Obamacare. The intention never was to lower rates for the insured. It was to drive up the costs to force individuals off of private health insurance — and into government’s waiting arms.

Obamacare always was a road to government control. That’s why it includes an individual mandate to purchase insurance starting in 2014, and that’s why its own regulators admit the bill will force up to 69 percent of enrollees off of their employer-provided plans. How else to get folks to incrementally be forced into a single-payer system?

The whole purpose Obamacare, therefore, is to drive up costs, creating a health care affordability crisis in the nation. In the mean time, the Administration accuses companies of “price-gouging”.

It’s already started. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has warned insurers not to inform enrollees that premium hikes are a direct result of Obamacare: “[S]everal health insurer carriers are sending letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act… [T]here will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases,” Sebelius wrote in a letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Sebelius has the answer. She writes, “Later this fall, we will issue a regulation that will require state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases filed by health insurers, with the justification for increases posted publicly for consumers and employers.” Never mind that insurance carriers are already required to notify enrollees of hikes in premiums, how dare insurers tell their customers the real reason for the hikes?

Sebelius promises to “keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014.” The implication? If you are an insurer, and you speak out against Obamacare, they will shut you down...

The Obama Administration is taking great pains to force health care costs up to compel the American people onto government-run health care. Meanwhile, they are regulating blame for those premium hikes to private insurers.

All of this is proof that Obamacare was a lie from the very beginning. The Administration does not care about lower costs, because they don’t even care about the costs. What they want is control.



Close to a trillion down the drain

What if I told you that the Chairman and CEO of IBM, Samuel J. Palmisano, approached President Obama and members of his administration before the healthcare bill debates with a plan that would reduce healthcare expenditures by $900 billion? Given the Obama Administration’s adamancy that the United States of America simply had to make healthcare (read: health insurance) affordable for even the most dedicated welfare recipient, one would think he would have leaned forward in his chair, cupped his ear and said, “Tell me more!”

And what if I told you that the cost to the federal government for this program was nothing, zip, nada, zilch?

And, what if I told you that, in the end and after two meetings, President Obama and his team, instead of embracing a program that was proven to save money and one that was projected to save almost one trillion dollars – a private sector program costing the taxpayers nothing, zip, nada, zilch – said, “Thanks but no thanks” and then embarked on passing one of the most despised pieces of legislation in US history?

Well, it’s all true. Samuel J. Palmisano, the Chairman of the Board and CEO for IBM, said in a recent Wall Street Journal interview that he offered to provide the Obama Administration with a program that would curb healthcare claims fraud and abuse by almost one trillion dollars but the Obama White House turned the offer down.

Mr. Palmisano is quoted as saying during a taping of The Wall Street Journal's Viewpoints program on September 14, 2010: "We could have improved the quality and reduced the cost of the healthcare system by $900 billion...I said we would do it for free to prove that it works. They turned us down."

A second meeting between Mr. Palmisano and the Obama Administration took place two weeks later, with no change in the Obama Administration's stance. A call placed to IBM on October 8, 2010, by FOX News confirmed, via a spokesperson, that Mr. Palmisano stands by his statement.

Speaking with FOX News' Stuart Varney, Mort Zuckerman, Editor-in-Chief of US News & World Report, said: "It's a little bit puzzling because I think there is a huge amount of both fraud and inefficiency that American business is a lot more comfortable with and more effective in trying to reduce. And this is certainly true because the IBM people have studied this very carefully. And when Palmisano went to the White House and made that proposal, it was based upon a lot of work and it was not accepted. And it's really puzzling...These are very, very responsible people. They don't have a political ax to grind. They are very familiar with the subject; they understand exactly what the issues are."

Given the fact that Mr. Obama’s own Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services actuary debunked the claim that health insurance costs would diminish over the next decade and given that the budget deficits for 2010 and 2011 are in the $1.2 trillion–$1.4 trillion ballpark, the question begs to be asked: Why would Mr. Obama balk at a sure-thing savings of almost $1 trillion?

CMS actuaries also say that Medicare cuts mandated by the law are unrealistic and unsustainable. An April 22, 2010, CMS report about the financial and coverage effects of selected provisions of the new law estimates that about 15 percent of hospitals and other healthcare providers could lose money treating Medicare beneficiaries as a result of the proposed cuts.

And the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that the deficit for the 2010 budget year, which ended Sept. 30, will total $1.29 trillion. The Obama administration has projected that the deficit for the 2011 budget year, which began on Oct. 1, will climb to $1.4 trillion and that over the next decade, it will total $8.47 trillion.

So, again, I ask you, with the main issue being the economy, including the audacious spending habits of elected officials in Washington DC, why would Mr. Obama and his team balk at facilitating not only the saving of almost $1 trillion in healthcare expenditures, but the opportunity to affect an issue victory in the 2010 midterm election cycle?

Mr. Zuckerman concluded: "When you are in a situation where this country is facing a huge deficit and where anybody who knows anything at all about the healthcare system knows how much waste, fraud and abuse is involved in that system...not to take this offer up, frankly, does not make sense."

Mr. Zuckerman is correct, but only to a point. It doesn’t make sense if Mr. Obama is trying to reduce waste and fraud, and make health insurance affordable for all Americans. It does make sense if those were never the goals in the first place.

As I wrote in an article titled, Cloward, Piven & Obamacare: “...the goal of the Progressives is to crash the system; to overwhelm the system to such an extent that it fails. It is at this moment of failure that Progressives believe they can enter the situation as the “knight in shining armor.” It is at this particular moment of vulnerability that Progressives believe the American public will acquiesce to the false choice of “something is better than nothing”; to a government-run universal healthcare plan to rescue the devastated American healthcare system, a system Progressives themselves threw into chaos, courtesy of their ridiculous health insurance reform law."

It is one thing to be – as a good many elected officials in Washington DC are – arrogant, self-absorbed spendthrifts, so detached from the actualities of what Americans require and want from their government. It is quite another to willfully abuse the system – and the American people – in an attempt to bring about an ideological “change” – a “fundamental transformation” – of the very system of government that has made the United States the most prosperous nation in the history of the Western Civilization and the last best hope for freedom and liberty for all in the world.



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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