Monday, December 19, 2011

A need for a new conservatism?

Some excerpts below from an article with which I disagree. There is a long history in conservative thought of respect for the individual and respect for individual liberty and that seems to me an ample foundation for opposing the Fascist instincts of Leftism and building a civil society. There has never been much of a conservative "philosophy" because none is needed. Cautious, humane and constructive instincts are all that is needed

The writer below also thinks that Leftists have a coherent guiding philosophy. He must not know much history. Fom Marx up until WWII, Leftists were enthusiastic antisemites, racists and eugenicists. Such views may still be in them deep down but it is far from what they now preach. Their only consistency is hunger for power over others

Modern conservatism grew up less as a return to first principles than as a reaction to the New Deal, the rise of Communism and an uneasy sense that a destructive social evolution was afoot driven by liberal intellectuals resident in increasingly powerful urban centers. Initially animated by fears over communist expansion, conservatism brought together free market economists, social traditionalists, state’s rights advocates, libertarians, anti-communists and others concerned that the original idea that was America was being lost in the headlong rush toward the implementation of the liberal schema through a vastly empowered federal government seeking control of the levers of American life.

It began to come into focus in the writings of William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk and several others as they gave voice to those whose inchoate discomfort was beginning to turn into a real fear for the loss of the American ideal. But it was mainly reaction characterized aptly by Buckley’s formulation that it was conservatism’s purpose is to stand “athwart history, yelling Stop”.

It is simply not enough to define a political project by what it is against. It must be distinguished by what it proposes. Otherwise, it is amorphous and rudderless; its effort ad hoc and issue driven to no particular end. Because conservatives defined their ideology primarily in opposition rather than in affirmation, they missed the opportunity to develop an affirmative program geared toward reaching a goal instead of one whose mission was to dismantle that of its great adversary. This matters because if conservatives are only reactionary, they do not propose an organized program aimed at establishing something. Conservatism must not merely be a revanchist project.

The Left moves relentlessly toward a defined goal while the Right, when it has the electoral opportunity, merely stops the rate of Progressive change. But it does not legislate toward a goal because it has not adequately defined one. It is not enough to say one wants “smaller government” or “lower taxes” or “less regulation”. That does not define what government conservatives want, only what they do not want. They must describe their theory of government as government that “is”, not government that “isn’t”. They need to define a political philosophy as an affirmative project that sets forth the basis for government; its legitimate functions, its purposes and its scope.



Government price fixing: health care edition

There's a very interesting recent paper which shows that the US health care system expensive as it is, is expensive because of government price fixing:
This raises the question of what exactly changed in the 1980s. Daeho Kim, a graduate student at Brown University, offers a provocative hypothesis in a new working paper. As Kim explains, a 1983 Medicare reform created the prospective payment system, or PPS, which offered fixed reimbursements for the use of a medical technology. If a physician decides to use bypass surgery as a cardiac treatment, she won’t be paid on the basis of what it cost her to perform the surgery. Instead, she’ll be paid the national average cost. This way, there is a strong incentive to beat the national average cost of performing bypass surgeries, thus lowering, in theory, systemwide costs.

But something quite different seems to have happened. A big part of the story is that providers can choose from a number of different cardiac treatments, some of which are more expensive than others. PPS encouraged them to focus on the treatments where the marginal cost — the cost of providing one more treatment, in this case — fell below the average cost, even if there are more cost-effective treatments available. Kim suggests that PPS may account for one of the most distinctive aspects of the U.S. health system — our extraordinary overreliance on costly treatments.

In short, the bureaucrats fixed the prices for a specific treatment but left the doctors and hospitals free to choose an expensive specific treatment over a cheap one. With the obvious effect that everyone now gets the most expensive possible treatment for whatever condition it is that they have.

Now one could argue that having the wise, those in government (it is to laugh again!), fixing the prices right this time would beat that problem. That is, in part, a bet that your average drone at the UK Department of Health is cleverer than your average drone at the US equivalent: good luck with that one.

But the real answer to that is that it isn't in fact possible to calculate, in the absence of a market, what is the correct price. For as Hayek pointed out, the whole thing is just too complex for that: the market is what we have to use to calculate the correct price. Thus it is impossible for the wise governors (titter) to ever get the price right: which is why we don't want them setting prices.

I'm perfectly happy for there to be government involvement in health care. I can see a valid place for social insurance, I'm entirely fine with tax-financed health care of some kind. But in order to get the right amount of the best of it we're going to have to let the idiocy of the interaction of the marketplace replace all those very clever people in offices setting the prices for us.



Obama’s NIH Stimulus Program: $390,000 Per Job ‘Created Or Saved’

The stimulus gave about $8.2 billion to the National Institutes of Health to be used for grants to universities and other research institutions.

The Government Accountability Office released a report today examining “the number of full-time equivalent (FTEs) jobs supported by NIH Recovery Act funds.” By June 2011, about 21,000 FTEs were supported by the funds. Divide $8.2 billion by 21,000, and that comes to about $390,000 per job.

And these figures don’t just reflect jobs created. They also include jobs that were “saved.”

The GAO also conducted a select sample of 50 grantees. Of those, only 29% said the funds “supported jobs that did not exist prior to receiving NIH funding.” 54% replied that the funds “supported jobs that existed prior to receiving NIH funding.” (The other 17% did not respond to that question.)

Those 50 grantees received about $911 million in stimulus funds and “created or saved” 2,365 jobs. Doing the division reveals that to be about $385,000 per job.

So, who says that the clean-energy sector is inefficient? As a prior Capital Hill analysis pointed out, the Obama Administration’s grants for green jobs came to only $135,294 per job!

On the other hand, the NIH’s heftier price tag might be worth it. So far, no Solyndra-like scandal has emerged from these grants. So far ...



Economics Reporter from New York Times Has Accidental Encounter with Reality, Learns Nothing

Earlier this year, I wrote about how the person Obama put in charge of Medicare made some very interesting observations about prices, competition, and markets, but then drew exactly the wrong conclusion about what was needed to solve the third-party payer problem in health care.

We now have another example of someone producing very good information and then failing to learn the obvious lesson. Catherine Rampell of the New York Times wrote about how politicians used to be much more willing to increases taxes.

She obviously wants readers to conclude that bad, mean, wicked Republicans are being too dogmatic because they won’t agree to big tax hikes. But the chart she prepared tells a completely different story. The only budget agreement that actually produced a balanced budget was the 1997 deal, and that deal contained tax cuts rather than tax increases!

But don’t believe me. Look at her chart.

I suppose I also should say that her chart is misleading because it accepts the dishonest Washington definition that a “spending cut” occurs any time politicians increase spending by less than previously planned.

And even if one uses that dishonest definition, the make-believe spending cuts usually evaporate very rapidly. The tax increases, unfortunately, are far more durable. And the net result is higher spending and oftentimes more red ink.

But even with those two big methodological shortcomings, her chart is a strong argument that tax increases don’t work.



Regulations FROM Dummies

Quick question: What is the most obvious thing keeping us from an economic recovery led by job creation? If you answered the increasingly burdensome mountain regulatory red tape from the government, you’d be in the heavy majority of the country who thinks that way as well. If you were to ask the current White House the same question, you’d get a completely different answer (and a list of excuses, blames, and finger pointing).

In a fantastic article this week in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Regulation for Dummies”, the Journal takes a look at the evidence of whether costly, job killing regulations have indeed increased during this Administration or not. (Hint: The answer is YES!)

This is not a shock or surprise to small business owners like myself or the millions of others around the country. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and historically have been where most job creation happens, when we are crushed by over regulation we can’t afford to expand or hire more people. To quote from the Journal:
The evidence is overwhelming that the Obama regulatory surge is one reason the current economic recovery has been so lackluster by historical standards. Rather than nurture an economy trying to rebuild confidence after a financial heart attack, the Administration pushed through its now-famous blitz of liberal policies on health care, financial services, energy, housing, education and student loans, telecom, labor relations, transportation and probably some other industries we've forgotten. Anyone who thinks this has only minimal impact on business has never been in business.

If you only listened to the President or his top staff give speeches or media interviews, you would walk away convinced that they all understand that you can’t have a serious jobs recovery when Big Government is in the way. But if you follow the news stories out of the NLRB, EPA, HHS, Commerce Dept. or any other part of the Administration, you would see job-crushing regulations emanating at a unprecedented pace. As the Journal eloquently puts it, “Mr. Obama can claim he is the progressive second coming of Teddy Roosevelt as he did in Kansas last week, or he can claim to be a regulatory minimalist, but not both. The facts show he's the former.”

The President can reference Teddy Roosevelt all he wants in his speeches, but to quote Teddy Roosevelt, “Actions speak louder than words.” If this Administration were serious about real jobs recovery and real economic growth, they would be acting to decrease regulations, cut spending, and offering small business friendly reforms.

Final question: Why does the Administration talk one way and act another? The answer is unfortunately bought and paid for by Big Labor. The President’s re-election hopes hinge on convincing the public he is in agreement with them on the problems, while satisfying the demands of Big Labor to keep their money coming in.



U.S. to leave Iraqi airspace clear for strategic Israeli route to Iran

The U.S. military’s fast-approaching Dec. 31 exit from Iraq, which has no way to defend its airspace, puts Israel in a better place strategically to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Iraq has yet to assemble a force of jet fighters, and since the shortest route for Israeli strike fighters to Iran is through Iraqi airspace, observers conclude that the U.S. exit makes the Jewish state’s mission planning a lot easier.

Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said the Iraqi military will maintain radars to monitor the country’s airspace, but it has not taken possession of American F-16s to guard that space.

“The country has a capable and improving capability to see the airspace, a viable system to provide command and control, but no system to defeat incoming air threats until it gets either the F-16s or ground-based systems or, optimally, some of both,” Gen. Buchanan told The Washington Times.

Iraq made the first payment in September for 18 F-16s that will not arrive until next fall at the earliest. This means Israel would have a theoretical window of about 12 months if it wants to fly over Iraq unimpeded by the Iraqi air force.

Retired Air ForceGen. Thomas McInerney, who advocates a U.S. strategic bombing raid to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites, agreed that Iraq’s open airspace would make it easier for an Israeli mission.

“Yes, it will be,” he said. “However, it will be much easier for Iranian forces to get to Israel through Iraq via land and air.”

Gen. McInerney said he thinks there is a good chance that Iran, stretched economically by Western sanctions and fearing threats from Israel, will launch a war against the Jewish state through Iraq.




Do we need big government?: "Federal-government spending now consumes roughly a quarter of all the goods and services produced in this country over the course of a year. Throw in state- and local-government spending, and it’s more than a third. And, according the Congressional Budget Office, unless there is a drastic change in our current policies, we are on course for government to consume nearly 60 percent of GDP by mid-century. And President Obama believes that government is still too small?"

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


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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)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Look at any leftist in a position of power and the racist, anti-Semite and eugenicist tendencies show up. They have not left their roots at all.

Obama and Holder both are showing all three of these quite clearly.