Monday, July 30, 2012

The qualities of independence and self-reliance that made America great have slowly leaked away

Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1962, America was a far different place from what it is today. President John Kennedy was presiding over Camelot, and despite fouling up the invasion of Cuba, his approval rating hovered at around 80 percent. Unemployment was 5.2 percent with the average family income at $6,000 a year.

Most Americans did not have much money but made do. Millions bought Elvis Presley's record "Return to Sender" and went to see "Lawrence of Arabia" in movie theaters. At home, "Wagon Train" was the top TV show.

Years later, the film "American Graffiti" featured the ad campaign "Where were you in '62?" Well, I was on Long Island, hanging around. During the day, we swam at the Levittown pool and played stickball in the street, and in August, my father took us to a lake in Vermont. Also, we went to Jones Beach and baked in the sun without block while secondhand cigarette smoke engulfed us on the blanket.

My folks had little disposable income, certainly not enough for air conditioning or a color television set. But again, there was little whining in my working-class neighborhood. We had fun with what was available. Most everybody worked. Nobody was on welfare.

In fact, just 6 percent of Americans received welfare payments in 1962. Now that number is 35 percent. More than 100 million of us are getting money from the government, and that does not count Social Security and Medicare, programs workers pay into. This is a profound change in the American tradition.

Also, we now have close to nine million workers collecting federal disability checks. In 2001, that number was about five million. Here's my question: Is the workplace that much more hazardous than it was 11 years ago? Is our health that much worse?

The answer is no. What we are seeing is the rise of the Nanny State.

Self-reliance and ambition made the United States the most powerful nation on Earth. But that ethic is now eroding fast. Instead, many Americans are looking to game the system, and the philosophy of "where's mine" has taken deep root. About half of American workers pay no federal income tax, leaving the burden to be shouldered by the achievers. As The Edward Winter Group once sang: "Come on and take a free ride. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!"

Presiding over and joyously encouraging this societal shift is the purveyor of social justice President Barack Obama. His entire campaign is now built around making the rich "pay their fair share." And where will that money go? To those in need, of course. And those legions are growing larger every single day.

Fair-minded people do not begrudge a safety net for Americans who, through no fault of their own, need help. A compassionate society provides for those battered by life. But what is happening in this country is far beyond a helping hand. We are creating a dual society. In one corner: Americans who work hard to succeed. In the other corner: folks who want what you have.

And the second corner is the growth industry.



If You Can't Win on the Facts ...

I am normally very understanding of the need for Presidential vacations, Presidential weekends off, or even Presidential naps.

It's a tough job and there is always someone, somewhere doing something illegal, dangerous, and/or stupid somewhere on the planet that demands your attention.

Having written that, I am becoming increasingly irritated with the fact that the total Obama campaign strategy is: Destroy Romney personally.

There is an old saying that goes something like: "If you can't win on the facts, argue the law. If you can't win on the law, call your opponent names."

The Obama campaign can't win on the facts; The economic situation is what it is and it is not good. They can't win on the law; about the only thing they've gotten passed is Health Care and you know how popular that is.

So, they are reduced to the third option: Calling their opponent names: Romney the maybe job outsourcer. Romney the maybe tax evader. Romney the too rich guy. Romney the manipulator of Winter Olympics. Romney the … (pick one). In short, they got nothin'.

The national press corps - which has by no means given Obama a free ride - still buys into the Obama campaign's act. They treat campaign advisor David Axelrod like he is delivering tablets from the Mount each and every Sunday.

They also buy into the "Romney the …" bit. I had a reporter call recently suggesting that the reason Romney won't release 5-10-20 years of tax returns is because there might be some years when he didn't pay any taxes.

I said that was an assumption he was not allowed to make. Or, if he did want to make that assumption he had to assume that Obama won't release his college records because he never actually accumulated enough hours to graduate but was waived through the system into law school. A long silence was followed by, "… well." Sauce for the goose and all that.

There was a small item this week that Obama was meeting with his Cabinet. Not a big deal, except this was only the second time in 2012 he felt the need to have a Cabinet meeting.

Before you get all huffy about how many Cabinet Meetings did George W. hold in his re-election year, I checked with people who worked in the White House back then. The answer is six, which was about average over the course of his Presidency.

I understand this is only the end of July, so Obama might hold four more Cabinet meetings before the end of the year, but to misquote Grantland Rice, that's not the way to bet.

The Obama campaign has had its collective knickers in such a twist over Obama's "you didn't build that" line that we have to believe it hurt even as the campaign claims it was taken out of context.

The Republican National Committee has a YouTube video titled, "The More Context You Get, the Worse it Sounds." Ok, doesn't exactly trip off the tongue but it's on YouTube.

The reason the Obama is reacting so strongly can be found in Gallup data released yesterday that show Obama's standing among business owners is 35 percent approve while 59 percent disapprove. The highest approval group for Obama are professionals who approve by a 52-43 margin. Not exactly a landslide, but way better than -24.

As to Mitt Romney's opening day as an international traveler; he did say that the threats of strikes by immigration agents and customs officials were "disconcerting" but I don't believe Romney's Salt Lake City Olympics ever confused the flag of South Korea with that of North Korea as the Brits did before a soccer match Wednesday in Scotland.

Nevertheless it might have been better for him to have said, "I know a little about organizing an Olympics. A million things CAN go wrong; some things DO go wrong; but I have complete confidence that the London Games will be terrific." He didn't, and we'll have to wait to find out how (or whether) Romney was briefed for his meetings in London.

As for Obama, he still won't have the facts or the law on his side so he's reduced to calling his opponent names.

The most famous stanza of one of Grantland Rice's poems should be hung on the walls of the White House and the campaign headquarters in Chicago:

"For when the One Great Scorer comes, To mark against your name,

He writes - not that you won or lost - But how you played the Game."



It's massive bureaucratization that has made healthcare so expensive

If you thought most of the increased costs in health care were going to the physicians and surgeons and specialists, you would be most definitely wrong. Take a close look at the chart that accompanies this article. The number of doctors in America has roughly doubled, perhaps a little more. Perhaps 125% growth. The population of the US has increased about the same amount over the same period of time.

But take a good look at the number of administrators that have been added to the US health care scene in these past 40 years! Over 3000%!

When something, ANYTHING, increases by 3000%, that means the number has increased exponentially, not linearly or even geometrically. 125% growth over 40 years is about a doubling in number. 3000% growth means 'it has grown in magnificent leaps and bounds'!

If there were 10 doctors in your hometown in 1970, there would be roughly 25 doctors working there today to take care of everyone. If there were 25 administrators in the medical field in your town in 1970, there would be over 750 health care administrators in your town today. Where do you think the increased costs in health care have occurred over that time frame, in doctor's salaries or what is more commonly referred to as 'G&A' expenses ('General Administrative')?

The federal government has made it clear that they think the problem is in doctors' fees since they have repeatedly been lowering the 'Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates' for the past 2 decades at least.

But they don't control the salaries of the CEOs and the administrative staff of these large hospitals and medical practices so they can't 'lower' the reimbursement rates to them directly, at least as they can with the doctors.

Are there more or less support staff nowadays than way back when? Think about the elementary school, junior high school, high school you attended perhaps as far back as the Dark Ages of the 1960's (Triassic Period) or the 1970's (Jurassic Period). Do you remember tons of 'other people' working there other than the great teachers you had and perhaps a principal, assistant principal, some office support staff, coaches and 2-3 driver's ed teachers?

According to a recent Texas education report, every public school had roughly as many support staff and administrators in it as the number of full-time teachers and educators.

In every school. In 2009. That is a 1-to-1 ratio for those of you keeping score at home. So it is not just health care where the number of administrative staff has exploded over the past 35 years, is it? Public education suffers from the same sclerotic bureaucratic diseases as modern American medicine today.

What is driving this surge in administrative staff in the medical world and public education?

You guessed right. More regulation and laws from Washington, the state capitals and the local governments. (see 'Regulations') We have had doctors tell us they spend 50% of their waking, working-day time filling out paperwork, complying with regulations and overall, making darned sure they do not get sued by anyone. 50% of their precious time. Even with all those staff support people.

Weren't doctors trained to 'fix' people and help cure them of what ails them? Why do we tolerate such a clear waste of time and talent when so many people are sick and need their help?

That would be like paying LeBron James $100 million ostensibly to play basketball for the Miami Heat and win championships....'but, oh, by the way, fill out all these attendance and concession forms in triplicate before, during and after the game and make sure you have them on my desk by 9:30 pm every night, win or lose!'

Making our well-trained medical personnel to fill out forms for half the time they are at work is like asking Secretariat to run in The Kentucky Derby with 5000 pounds of weight on his broad back.

We want them to do their jobs which is to heal people and help them get well. Just like we should all want great teachers to 'just teach our kids well' and not be over-worked secretaries, truant officers, psychologists and crowd control police.

We recently read of a large medical center where 42 administrative personnel were making well in excess of $1 million per year in salary. A piece. Per head. Per capita. Generous benefits on top of those generous salaries. The two top executives were pulling down $6.2 million and $4.3 million in annual salary.

That is a lotta tongue depressors and MRIs that have to be sold to pay for those high salaries, doesn't it? Medicare and Medicaid only covers some of those costs so where does the medical industry turn to get the money to pay for these high salaries and other costs of what are typically hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollar enterprises?

You. If you pay 100% of your health care. Which you probably don't. In which case, it comes out of your insurance company's pocket. In which case your health care premium goes up 16% per year as does the cost to your employer.

Before Obamacare kicks in full force in 2014, that is.

Want to take a dizzying look at the number of regulations now underway for Obamacare and 'being promulgated' (we love that word for some reason) as we speak and have been for the past 2 years?

Take a look at this CMMS link NOT on a full stomach and see if you understand a darned thing about what is going to be happening as of January 1, 2014 if Obamacare is not repealed, rolled back or significantly amended and improved (streamlined)

Here's just one footnote from the Federal Register of just one of these hundreds of new regulations:

"7 This language underscores and is not inconsistent with the scope of the disclosure requirement under the existing Department of Labor claims procedure regulation. That is, the Department of Labor interprets 29 USC 1133 and the DOL claims procedure regulation as already requiring that plans provide claimants with new or additional evidence or rationales upon request and an opportunity to respond in certain circumstances. See Brief of amicus curiae Secretary of the United States Department of Labor, Midgett v. Washington Group International Long Term Disability Plan, 561 F.3d 887 (8th Cir. 2009) (No.08-2523) (expressing disagreement with cases holding that there is no such requirement)."

You wanna bet that every hospital and medical facility in America is going to have to hire tons of new administrative people, lawyers and Executive VPs for Compliance in the next several years?

Where do you think health care costs are heading in America then?




Homosexual marriage to be introduced in Scotland: "Scotland could become the first part of the UK to introduce gay marriage after the SNP government announced plans to make the change. Ministers confirmed they would bring forward a bill on the issue, indicating the earliest ceremonies could take place by the start of 2015. Political leaders, equality organizations and some faith groups welcomed introducing same-sex marriage. But it was strongly opposed by the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland."

The ignoramus strikes again: "Barack Obama has said that ‘AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers’, even though the rifle, most associated with terrorism and communism, is not issued to the US military or any of its Western allies. The US military’s primary rifle is the M-16. An AR-15, the civilian variant of the M-16, was allegedly used by James Holmes to killed 12 people and wound 58 people at a screening of the film ‘Dark Right’ in a cinema in Aurora, Colorado this month. Early reports that Holmes had been arrested with an AK-47 proved false. The AK-47 was first produced by the Soviet Union and takes its name from its creator Mikhail Kalashnikov and 1947, the year it was introduced into service. The rifle was subsequently issued to most Warsaw Pact armies and exported to throughout the world."

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


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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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