Thursday, July 05, 2012

Essential Liberty

In honor of the establishment and preservation of Essential Liberty, we offer a few remarks from an young American Patriot standing watch on the front lines in Afghanistan, followed by insights from our Founding Fathers, as fitting reminders of the constant vigil which must be maintained in defense of Liberty.

Wisdom from the Warfront -- Enemies Foreign and Domestic:

"As an officer who faces combat challenges daily, and who has experienced my share of heartache in defense of our great nation in accordance with my oath, it pains me to see our elected 'leaders' so willfully defy their oaths to support our Constitution. But, war has taught me that we just take today at our best, because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

"The seemingly insurmountable battle to salvage what is left of American Liberty simply means God will provide a great movement and great leaders to get the job done in His timing. While we may see no solution, it's undoubtedly already in the making and I can only pray that He continues to use me in His service, along with all the other great Americans Patriots across our country.

"Battles would not be great and triumphant if they were easy. The more the Left undermines Rule of Law, the more glorious the reconstitution and restoration will be, the mightier the battle, and the mightier the men who will fight it. I simply pray that I continue to grow to fight that war, just as I am fighting this one, and that God preserves me to do so. God provided us with the means and the personal example to triumph over the greatest of evils, He has provided us with the solutions to our own problems, we simply must trust it is within His plan.

"Keep fighting the good fight, do not despair on the 4th of July, but celebrate that Providence provided us with the greatest blueprint for governments among men in 1789, with the spirit of 1776. As Alexander Hamilton said, 'The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.' Our rights are only referenced by the Declaration, but endowed by our Creator, and as such, are self-evident. Obama cannot erase them and long after we are dead and gone, the rights of man will be preserved in the essence of God's creation available only through reflection in His gift of reason. Evil ultimately will not prevail -- we are blueprinted with Victory."



Obamacare: 21 New or Higher Taxes

Ryan Ellis puts together some important data on the tax impact of Obamacare:

1. Individual Mandate Excise Tax(Jan 2014): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying "qualifying" health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following

1 Adult 2 Adults 3+ Adults
2014 1% AGI/$95 1% AGI/$190 1% AGI/$285
2015 2% AGI/$325 2% AGI/$650 2% AGI/$975
2016 + 2.5% AGI/$695 2.5% AGI/$1390 2.5% AGI/$2085

Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS)

2. Employer Mandate Tax(Jan 2014):  If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $2000 for all full-time employees.  This provision applies to all employers with 50 or more employees. If any employee actually receives coverage through the exchange, the penalty on the employer for that employee rises to $3000. If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee ($600 if the period is 60 days or longer). Combined score of individual and employer mandate tax penalty: $65 billion/10 years

3. Surtax on Investment Income ($123 billion/Jan. 2013):  This increase involves the creation of a new, 3.8 percent surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single).  This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income

Capital Gains Dividends Other*
2010-2012 15% 15% 35%
2013+ (current law) 23.8% 43.4% 43.4%
2013+ (Obama budget) 23.8% 23.8% 43.4%

  *Other unearned income includes (for surtax purposes) gross income from interest, annuities, royalties, net rents, and passive income in partnerships and Subchapter-S corporations.  It does not include municipal bond interest or life insurance proceeds, since those do not add to gross income.  It does not include active trade or business income, fair market value sales of ownership in pass-through entities, or distributions from retirement plans.  The 3.8% surtax does not apply to non-resident aliens.  

4. Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans($32 bil/Jan 2018): Starting in 2018, new 40 percent excise tax on "Cadillac" health insurance plans ($10,200 single/$27,500 family). For early retirees and high-risk professions exists a higher threshold ($11,500 single/$29,450 family).  CPI +1 percentage point indexed.

5. Hike in Medicare Payroll Tax($86.8 bil/Jan 2013)

6. Medicine Cabinet Tax($5 bil/Jan 2011): Americans no longer able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin)

7. HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike($1.4 bil/Jan 2011): Increases additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

8. Flexible Spending Account Cap - aka"Special Needs Kids Tax"($13 bil/Jan 2013): Imposes cap of $2500 (Indexed to inflation after 2013) on FSAs (now unlimited). There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education.  Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. 

9. Tax on Medical Device Manufacturers($20 bil/Jan 2013): Medical device manufacturers employ 360,000 people in 6000 plants across the country. This law imposes a new 2.3% excise tax.  Exemptions include items retailing for less than $100. 

10. Raise "Haircut" for Medical Itemized Deduction from 7.5% to 10% of AGI($15.2 bil/Jan 2013): Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  The new provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI; it is waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only.

11. Tax on Indoor Tanning Services($2.7 billion/July 1, 2010): New 10 percent excise tax on Americans using indoor tanning salons

12. Elimination of tax deduction for employer-provided retirement Rx drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D($4.5 bil/Jan 2013)

13. Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tax Hike($0.4 bil/Jan 2010): The special tax deduction in current law for Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies would only be allowed if 85 percent or more of premium revenues are spent on clinical services

14. Excise Tax on Charitable Hospitals(Min$/immediate): $50,000 per hospital if they fail to meet new "community health assessment needs," "financial assistance," and "billing and collection" rules set by HHS

15. Tax on Innovator Drug Companies($22.2 bil/Jan 2010): $2.3 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to share of sales made that year.

16. Tax on Health Insurers($60.1 bil/Jan 2014): Annual tax on the industry imposed relative to health insurance premiums collected that year. The stipulation phases in gradually until 2018, and is fully-imposed on firms with $50 million in profits.    



The Joy of Government-Run Healthcare: The UK’s Gilded Bureaucrats and Dying Patients

I’m not sure whether this is a post about America’s dismal future if Obamacare is allowed to take root or whether this is a post about bureaucrats ripping off taxpayers.

But I do know that it shows that the insiders take care of themselves quite nicely when the government seizes more control of a nation’s healthcare sector.

Here’s a report from the UK-based Telegraph about how bureaucrats at a Scottish branch of the National Health Service are bilking taxpayers.

National Procurement, a branch of the NHS National Services Division, arranged for staff who are deemed to be “regular users” of cars for business to get the cars through a taxpayer-backed vehicle-leasing scheme. …Figures provided by National Procurement in response to a Freedom of Information request showed that…one in eight members of staff, had used the 4x4s and convertibles to drive to work. Much of the insurance, petrol, road tax and leasing is funded by the state.

And we’re not talking cheap automobiles. Keep in mind, when you read this next passage, that £25,000 is almost $40,000.

One employee was leased a £27,000 Mercedes, while three other workers have been driving £23,000 S-line Audi A3 sports cars. Another employee received a £28,300 Audi TT. Since the beginning of this year, five new cars have been leased to staff, including a four-door BMW worth more than £30,500. Other leased vehicles include another Audi sports car worth more than £25,000 and three Range Rover Evoques costing up to £29,500.

So how do they work this scam? Simple, they take needless trips.

…staff have had to clock up a minimum of 5000 business miles during office hours to qualify for the scheme. …A department source told the Herald newspaper that some members of staff were using their leased cars for 80-mile round trips between National Procurement’s two offices, in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, and South Gyle in Edinburgh, even though there are adequate video conferencing facilities at both locations.

One hopes that this scandal in a Scottish branch is an exception and that most bureaucrats don’t behave in a similarly reprehensible fashion.

But given the bloated size of the National Health Service bureaucracy, it’s more likely that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There is an entitlement culture in most government bureaucracies, and I would be shocked in the paper pushers and memo writers hadn’t figured out how to manipulate the system

And since there are more than 1.6 million of them, the magnitude of the fraud is presumably enormous.

The obvious follow-up question is whether taxpayers in the United Kingdom are getting some good value from this army of cosseted bureaucrats?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Here are some chilling excerpts from a story in the Daily Mail.

NHS doctors are prematurely ending the lives of thousands of elderly hospital patients because they are difficult to manage or to free up beds, a senior consultant claimed yesterday. Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia… There are around 450,000 deaths in Britain each year of people who are in hospital or under NHS care. Around 29 per cent – 130,000 – are of patients who were on the LCP. Professor Pullicino claimed that far too often elderly patients who could live longer are placed on the LCP and it had now become an ‘assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway’.

Here are a couple of horrifying examples.

Professor Pullicino revealed he had personally intervened to take a patient off the LCP who went on to be successfully treated. He said this showed that claims they had hours or days left are ‘palpably false’. In the example he revealed a 71-year-old who was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia and epilepsy was put on the LCP by a covering doctor on a weekend shift. Professor Pullicino said he had returned to work after a weekend to find the patient unresponsive and his family upset because they had not agreed to place him on the LCP. ‘I removed the patient from the LCP despite significant resistance,’ he said. ‘His seizures came under control and four weeks later he was discharged home to his family,’ he said.

In other words, government-run healthcare in the United Kingdom is a great scam if you’re an insider. But not such a good deal if you’re someone who needs, well, healthcare.

Sort of makes you wonder what Paul Krugman was thinking when he wrote, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”

I guess the English newspapers are making up stories to denigrate their own nation. If you want to see more of these “false” stories, click here, herehereherehereherehereherehere, here and here.


Also see EYE ON BRITAIN for daily updates on the NHS



Affordable Health Care Act: Not affordable: "Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Obama Care and the individual mandate to purchase health insurance or pay a fine, individuals are starting to face the sobering reality that the costs of health care and health care insurance are going to go up -- way up -- instead of down"

Obama’s victory is now his challenge: "'In my first term, we passed healthcare reform,' President Obama joked this spring. 'In my second term, I guess I'll pass it again.' Thanks to the Supreme Court, Obama can take that item off his agenda. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. guaranteed Thursday that healthcare will still be at the center of this year's presidential race."

Mexican politics: "Thousands of people rushed to stores on Tuesday to redeem prepaid gift cards they said were given them by the party that won Mexico’s presidency, inflaming accusations that the election was marred by massive vote-buying. At least a few cardholders were angry, complaining they didn’t get as much as promised."

How Amazon survives the State: "Here's a snapshot from the American landscape of convoluted crony capitalism: starting this September, if a man in Los Angeles buys a book from, the local sales tax he pays could go to the city of San Bernardino, which will then give 80 percent of the tax money back to Amazon itself."

We’re all socialists now, except for libertarians: "The Sunday edition of the New York Times published an interesting article that is certain to make some Americans who read it uncomfortable. Why is that? Because the article, which is entitled, 'What’s a Socialist?' makes a point that many ordinary Americans hate hearing: that by adopting the welfare state, Americans in principle became socialists, just like Europeans."



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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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