Saturday, May 19, 2012

Obama Mandate Forces First Catholic College to Drop Insurance

Franciscan University appears to be the first casualty of the new Obama HHS mandate that requires Catholic colleges, groups and businesses to pay for drugs that may cause abortions and birth control for their employees.

Although President Barack Obama declared “If you like your health care coverage you can keep it,” when it came to passing Obamacare, a Catholic college in Ohio has determined it will no longer offer a student health insurance plan.

“The Obama Administration has mandated that all health insurance plans must cover “women’s health services” including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing medications as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA),” the university says in a new post on its website. “Up to this time, Franciscan University has specifically excluded these services and products from its student health insurance policy, and we will not participate in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life.”

“Additionally, the PPACA increased the mandated maximum coverage amount for student policies to $100,000 for the 2012-13 school year, which would effectively double your premium cost for the policy in fall 2012, with the expectation of further increases in the future,” FUS continues.

“Due to these changes in regulation by the federal government, beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the University 1) will no longer require that all full-time undergraduate students carry health insurance, 2) will no longer offer a student health insurance plan, and 3) will no longer bill those not covered under a parent/guardian plan or personal plan for student health insurance,” the college said.

Franciscan University says the current student health insurance plan will expire on August 15.

More HERE

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Will Homosexual Marriage Force Black Churches to Reconsider Democratic Party?

President Obama's affirmation of gay marriage threatens to undermine the near-monolithic black support Obama enjoyed in 2008. Several members of the black clergy now say they intend to sit out the presidential election. One poll from last November found black opposition to gay marriage at 58 percent, higher than the rest of the country, which is about evenly split.

The real question is this: What took black church leaders so long to reconsider their near blind support for the Democratic Party?

The historical strength of black churches has been that of a moral and spiritual refuge in a once-hostile country of legalized slavery and Jim Crow. This explains why so many civil rights leaders came out of the church. The moral cause was just and clear: Equal rights mean equal rights -- for everyone.

But equal rights and equal results are two very different things. The modern civil rights movement lost its way by failing to appreciate the difference. To achieve "equal results," the Democratic Party, among other things, demands redistribution of wealth, a government response to the "gap" between the rich and poor, higher minimum wages and higher taxes on the so-called rich.

The Democratic Party opposes education vouchers, despite polls showing that black and Hispanic inner-city parents want them. The Democratic Party is the party of race-based preferences and also opposes privatization of Social Security.

The Democratic Party is the party of the welfare state -- a neutron bomb dropped on the intact nuclear family. Author/editor/professor Marvin Olasky, in his book "The Tragedy of American Compassion," traces the growth of welfare. During a mere three-year period in the 1960s, welfare rolls increased nearly 110 percent. President Johnson established "neighborhood centers" whose workers went door-to-door, apprising people of their welfare "rights and benefits."

Until the so-called "War on Poverty," the poverty rate declined steadily. At the turn of the century, nearly 70 percent of Americans were poor. But by the time of the "War on Poverty," the rate stood at approximately 13 or 14 percent. What happened? Welfare created dependency and decreased the incentive of the welfare recipient.

The Heritage Foundation compared families on welfare versus families eligible for welfare but that, for one reason or another, refused to take it. The results were startling. Heritage reported: "Young women raised in families dependent on welfare are two to three times more likely to drop out and fail to graduate from high school than are young women of similar race and socioeconomic background not raised on welfare. Similarly, single mothers raised as children in families receiving welfare remain on AFDC longer as adult parents than do single mothers not raised in welfare families, even when all other social and economic variables are held constant."

The Democratic Party is the party of Roe v. Wade, even though blacks are more pro-life than whites. Former President Jimmy Carter, a religious man who called himself "twice born," thought the Democratic Party made a tactical and moral error by embracing abortion-on-demand as a federal right guaranteed by the Constitution: "I never have believed that Jesus Christ would approve of abortions, and that was one of the problems I had when I was president, having to uphold Roe v. Wade. ... But except for the times when a mother's life is in danger or when a pregnancy is caused by rape or incest, I would certainly not and never have approved any abortions. ... My position on abortion ... is to minimize the need or requirement for abortion and limit it only to women whose (lives) are in danger or who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest. I think if the Democratic Party would adopt that policy, that would be acceptable to a lot of people who are now estranged from our party because of the abortion issue."

The Democratic Party is the party of tax-the-rich. Never mind that Democratic Party icon President John Kennedy sounded downright trickle-downish when he said: "It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low -- and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut rates now. The experience of a number of European countries has borne this out. This country's own experience with tax reductions in 1954 has borne this out, and the reason is that only full employment can balance the budget -- and tax reduction can pave the way to full employment. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budgetary deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous expanding economy which will bring a budgetary surplus."

The Democratic Party is the party of minimum wage. Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman said, "We regard the minimum wage as one of the most, if not the most, anti-black laws on the statute books."

For all these reasons, having nothing to do with gay marriage, black churches should have broken with the Democratic Party long ago. Better late than never

SOURCE

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The War Against Doctors

Imagine completing college, then 4 years of graduate school and finally working as a trainee for three to ten years while earning 3-4 times the Federal Poverty level. Then you are permitted to work on your own and go into business, but are unable to set the rates that you will charge your customers. You are required by the federal and state government to pay for the privilege of working, and have to comply with intrusive regulations making it more costly to conduct business with no ability to pass these costs along to your customers. You have almost a 100% chance of being sued during your career and in many cases cannot get insurance to protect you. Your job requires 60-80 hours per week and weekends and nights no longer belong to you. Your business is being threatened by individuals who have not gone down your path and want to get into your business “through the back door”, because they believe that they can do an equivalent job without all of the sacrifice that you have made. And they are getting this opportunity.

This is the reality for US physicians.

SD is a plastic surgeon who needed to leave her state and move across the country because it became impossible to meet overhead and to earn a salary. MB is a urologist in the southeast who could not afford her overhead because insurance companies slashed her reimbursements, so she had to move into an 1100 square foot office. RA is a surgeon in the north who faces the possibility of losing his entire referral base which the local hospital now controls, unless he cooperates with them. JS, an ophthalmologist and her husband, a surgeon, could not make ends meet in California because insurance reimbursement is so low and had to leave to provide for their family of 4.

At a time when it is trendy to invoke the term “war” against various groups, such as the contrived, GOP “war against women” or “war against seniors”, it may appear trite to say that there is a war against doctors; but there is. This has been going on for decades and cannot be blamed on President Obama or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but sadly, both have facilitated an escalation of this war.

One might ask- is there a war against doctors? The simple answer is yes and it is all about money and control. There is no healthcare without doctors, who happen to be at the center of the myriad of healthcare events under their daily control. Healthcare is a $2.3 Trillion annual economy accounting for approximately 16% of our gross domestic product. There is tremendous incentive to control doctors and hence, the flow of huge dollars. Entities have unsuccessfully tried to do so in the past. Insurance companies in the 1980s tried doing so using capitated HMOs. Publicly traded Wall St. firms in the 1990s made a futile attempt to buy medical practices to squeeze out profits by controlling physician behavior.

The lessons of the past were not lost on the architects of the ACA, but it required a group assault on physicians, coming at them from different directions. The cabal of the hospital and the insurance industries, along with the federal government posed an almost insurmountable challenge. In exchange for the support of the American Hospital Association, the federal government gave hospitals a tremendous advantage, by outlawing physicians from opening their own hospitals, which would naturally compete against existing hospitals. Furthermore, the ACA promotes Accountable Care Organizations as a preferred reimbursement model for healthcare. This arrangement is like capitated HMOs, but on steroids. The third party payer issues a single payment for a hospitalization and leaves it to the ACO to divide the payment fairly (not likely). In anticipation of this change in reimbursement, hospitals are purchasing physician practices in an attempt to control healthcare market share. The likely outcome will be fewer doctors who are self-employed, as reported in the Wall St. Journal, and ultimately, the demise of the private practice of medicine.

The war against physicians is being waged on many fronts. Trial attorneys are fighting to preserve the status quo of the medical malpractice system, where they are the primary beneficiaries. It is coming from non-physician healthcare providers such as nurse practitioners or optometrists. They hire aggressive political lobbyists and spread around hundreds of millions of dollars to influence politicians who then create laws that confer physician status upon these allied healthcare professionals.

Public awareness of this war on their doctors is essential in order to understand the antipathy of doctors for Obamacare, and the concern that they have regarding the future of medicine in the US. It warrants a strong public outcry because when the doctors no longer work for their patients, but instead for some other entity, then heaven help our patients.

SOURCE

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New York Times Jumps the Shark With Anti-Capitalist Propaganda

We’ve come to a fork in the road: either we return to capitalism (i.e., voluntary exchanges based on mutual best interest) or we plunge the rest of the way into socialism (an economy based entirely on bureaucratic coercion, i.e., slavery). History has shown repeatedly that the former leads to wealth and dignity, the latter to poverty and tyranny. Here’s where the New York Times — official mouthpiece of the liberal ruling class — comes down on the issue:
A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are “clinical psychopaths,” exhibiting a lack of interest in and empathy for others and an “unparalleled capacity for lying, fabrication, and manipulation.” (The proportion at large is 1 percent.) Another study concluded that the rich are more likely to lie, cheat and break the law.

The only thing that puzzles me about these claims is that anyone would find them surprising. Wall Street is capitalism in its purest form, and capitalism is predicated on bad behavior. …

I always found the notion of a business school amusing. What kinds of courses do they offer? Robbing Widows and Orphans? Grinding the Faces of the Poor? Having It Both Ways? Feeding at the Public Trough? There was a documentary several years ago called “The Corporation” that accepted the premise that corporations are persons and then asked what kind of people they are. The answer was, precisely, psychopaths: indifferent to others, incapable of guilt, exclusively devoted to their own interests.

Demagoguery demonizing economic freedom couldn’t have gone any further over the top in the darkest days of Stalinist Russia. At least the mask is off, so that we know what we are up against. Liberal = communist.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Obama’s campaign slop to women: "Barack Obama is buying votes. The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) is a blatant sop thrown to a voting block on which his next presidency may depend: women, specifically, liberal women. Obama also hopes it will weaken Mitt Romney, who is trying to woo women himself and, yet, cannot endorse the PFA without alienating conservatives."

Uncle Sam or Uncle Sugar? "It seems that no matter which party is in power, the government always grows. Why is this? The answer is relatively straightforward. Politicians get attention -- and applause -- for doing things. When things are going poorly, people never call their congressman and scream, 'Don't just do something, sit there!'"

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My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access 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)

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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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Friday, May 18, 2012

Ideology and "what works"

Like The "Progressives" of the early 20th century, President Obama and many of his fellow Leftists these days are quite fond of making the claim that they are simply motivated by "what works" and are not driven by ideology the way conservatives are. The philosophical emptiness of such claims is thoroughly amusing and I have always seen it as just too shallow to be worth a reply. Just how empty the claim is can be shown by a simple question: "How do you define "what works"?" -- or -- "When do you know that something has "worked"?"

The inevitable answer to that has to be in terms of ideology: "Whether something leads to greater economic equality", would certainly be a common Leftist answer to my question. But that simply shows that the Leftist subscribes to an ideology that economic equality is desirable.

In his latest book, however, Jonah Goldberg is marginally more respectful of the claim. He first documents the claim at some length but instead of wiping it off with a simple question, he devotes a whole chapter to refuting it. And his conclusion is that both Left and Right have ideologies -- but ideologies that are different.

Jonah does note however that in the past it was in fact conservatives who abjured ideology and customarily pointed to Leftists as ideologues. And I think that view is essential to understanding conservatism. In his book Inside Right, Ian Gilmour, once Lord Privy Seal of England under Margaret Thatcher, offers an historical study of conservatism and concludes that conservatives are "trimmers": People with ideas that change with circumstances without much in the way of pre-established doctrines or policy consistency.

In my own historical study of conservative thought I noted many instances of such claims from conservative thinkers and concluded that conservatism can only be understood as a psychological disposition -- a tendency towards cautiousness -- and that different policy responses may be generated by that underlying psychological conservatism from time to time -- though a desire for individual liberty is a common outcome of that psychological disposition.

So I side with the earlier conservative thinkers and say that it is conservatives who are the non-ideological ones. The Leftist claim on that distinction becomes mere trickery. They think that by claiming to be something that is really true of conservatives, they can gain some added respectibility for their policies and deflect attention from whom the real practical people are. It is a sort of reverse-projection: Instead of seeing their own faults in others, they see the strengths of others in themselves.

So I see Jonah as too kind to the Left. They are just crooks who will say anything if it will get them power. Conservatives should not let the Left get away with stealing our clothes. And the best way to do that is to keep asking them my questions above.

Conservatives don't have to make broad claims about standing for "what works". Rather we just deal with individual issues as they arise and point out what the consequences of a Leftist response to those issues is likely to be. The track record of socialism is so dismal that that is not hard to do. If anything engenders caution, it is socialism

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'Obama was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii': President's OWN literary agency promotional booklet from 1991 claims he WAS born in Africa

The simmering political row over President Obama’s heritage was dramatically reignited today as a 1991 booklet boldly announced that the Democrat was ‘born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.’

In the cover for a 1991 promotional booklet by Mr Obama’s then-publisher Acton & Dystel, he is as ‘the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, (who) was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.’

The information, which could be used as more ammunition against the incumbent, comes months before what will likely be a close campaign between Mr Obama and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The 36-page promotional booklet was exclusively obtained by Breitbart, and was sent out to colleagues within the publishing industry in the early 1990s.

A later biography, which can still be found on Acton & Dystel’s archives, reads: ‘Barack Obama is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. ‘He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, has been a long time New York Times bestseller.

The blue, teal, and silver booklet was printed in part to celebrate Acton & Dystel’s 15th anniversary, and also to display the breadth and depth of authors the imprint published.

Other authors featured include Ralph Nader, former Speaker of the House Thomas P. O’Neill, and pop group New Kids on the Block.

Miriam Goderich, who now works at partner company Dystel & Goderich, is listed as the pamphlet’s editor. An assistant for Ms Goderich told MailOnline that she was not commenting on the story at this time.

New York Magazine columnist Jonathan Chait writes that the ‘controversy’ was little more than the result of a ‘lazy literary agent.’

More HERE

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Number of babies born to ethnic minorities surpasses whites in U.S. for first time

America has reached a landmark point as, for the first time in its modern history, most of the babies being born there are non-white. White children aged under one are outnumbered by those from ethnic minorities including blacks, Hispanics, Asians and mixed race, US Census Bureau figures show.

Of the four million children born in the US in the 12 months to July 2011, 50.4 per cent were from ethnic minorities. That compares with 37 per cent in 1990.

The figures also reveal the prolonged impact of a weak economy, which is resulting in fewer Hispanics entering the U.S.

Roderick Harrison, a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau who is now a sociologist at Howard University, said: 'This is an important landmark. This generation is growing up much more accustomed to diversity than its elders.'

In recent years, births have been declining for both whites and minorities as many women held off having children due to the economic slump, although the drop has been larger for whites.

Minorities increased 1.9 per cent to 114.1 million, or 36.6 per cent of the total U.S. population, lifted by prior waves of immigration that brought in young families and boosted the number of Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years.

But a recent slowdown in the growth of the Hispanic and Asian populations is shifting notions on when the tipping point in U.S. diversity will come - the time when non-Hispanic whites become a minority.

After 2010 census results suggested a crossover as early as 2040, demographers now believe the pivotal moment may be pushed back several years when new projections are released in December.

The annual growth rates for Hispanics and Asians fell sharply last year to just over two per cent, roughly half the rates in 2000 and the lowest in more than a decade. The black growth rate stayed flat at 1 per cent.

More HERE

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Health care: No, the state doesn't know best

by Jeff Jacoby

PRICES WERE OUT OF CONTROL at the end of 3rd-century Rome, and the Emperor Diocletian was determined to rein them in. In AD 301 he issued his famous Edict on Prices, a complex piece of legislation that banned speculation and established price ceilings for a wide range of goods and services. But the ambitious law failed. Though violators could be punished with death, inflation and speculation persisted. Goods were hoarded, or sold on the black market. The economic crisis worsened. Eventually the law was abandoned. Like countless rulers before and since, Diocletian discovered the hard way that price controls don't work. They worsen the problem they are intended to solve, leading to shortages, rationing, and even higher prices.

Yet the belief that government can control inflation by fiat never seems to lose its allure.

Which brings us to the "Health Care Quality Improvement and Cost Reduction Act of 2012," a 178-page bill introduced in the Massachusetts House this month amid jaunty predictions of cheaper insurance premiums for Bay State families and tens of billions of dollars in medical savings over the next 15 years. An even longer bill -- 235 pages -- has been introduced in the state Senate.

These bills aren't written in Latin and they don't impose the death penalty, but their core principle is not much different from Diocletian's: The state knows best. What fraction of the local economy should health care consume? How fast should medical spending rise? On what business model should provider networks be organized? How should hospital and doctors fees be calculated? Where should consumers get information on quality and cost of care? When are a provider's high rates justified? What penalty should it bear when they aren't? In the world these plans envision, decision after decision comes not through the voluntary interplay of doctors, patients, hospitals, and insurers, but from government agents who impose them from above.

Adding up the "dizzying and expansive" array of decrees in the House legislation, health-care analyst Joshua Archambault of the Pioneer Institute finds 941 instances in which the bill mandates that something "shall" be done. Among these are more than 25 kinds of penalties, fines, and surcharges, for price control and punishment always go hand in hand. Looming over all would be a new Division of Health Care Cost and Quality, a command-and-control behemoth that would dominate the state's medical and health-insurance landscapes, with the power to affect billions of dollars and millions of lives.

And would any checks and balances restrain this behemoth? In the language of the House bill, it "shall be an independent public entity not subject to the supervision and control of any other executive office, department, commission, board, bureau, agency or political subdivision." Throw in a toga, and Diocletian would feel right at home.

This is "Health Reform 2.0," as some on Beacon Hill are calling it -- the logical follow-on to Mitt Romney's 2006 overhaul. In practice, the RomneyCare model has meant less freedom, more tax-funded subsidies, surging growth in insurance premiums, longer wait times to see a new doctor, and undiminished reliance on emergency rooms. For those who deem such outcomes a success, more top-down interference with health care may seem like a splendid idea.

But those who regret having believed the exaggerated hype about "Health Reform 1.0" -- particularly Romney's 2006 assurance that everyone in Massachusetts "will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced" -- may want to take the latest rosy predictions with more than a grain of salt.

State Representative Steven Walsh, the Lynn Democrat who co-chairs the Legislature's Health Care Financing Committee, swears that this time "reform" will accomplish everything its advocates dream of. "Bring on the skeptics," he crows. "We're going to be a healthier community because of this in five years and we're going to save an awful lot of money doing it."

If only. Bureaucrats, no matter how well intentioned, cannot know how much medical services should cost or how insurance premiums should grow. Ham-fisted state intervention is responsible for much of what ails the Bay State's markets in health care and medical coverage. More ham-fisted intervention isn't the cure.

Many things have changed over time, but the laws of supply and demand aren't among them. Price controls invariably make economic problems worse. It was true in Diocletian's Rome. It's no less true in Deval Patrick's Massachusetts.

SOURCE

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My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access 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)

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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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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Note

I am going back into hospital today. Not sure how it will affect my blogging

Too Big to Manage

Yesterday I asked: If JPMorgan Chase’s loss of $2 billion shows the need for more bank regulation, what should the federal government’s $1.3 trillion deficit tell us? And Michael Cannon pointed out that in the private sector, people who make big mistakes tend to lose their jobs, unlike the public sector.

Today another theme is being heard, at the Wall Street Journal, on NPR, and many more places including even here at Cato@Liberty: banks like JPMorgan, which has annual revenue of $100 billion, are just “too big to manage.”

And again I have to wonder: if large banks are too big to manage, what should we think about the federal government? The federal government is the largest landowner, the largest insurer, the largest employer, the largest banker in the country. It operates everything from a judiciary to the most complex armed force in history to numerous health insurance programs to a retirement system to a highway system to a peanut subsidy program.

If JPMorgan is too big to manage, can we possibly expect competent management of such a massive operation that doesn’t even face the feedback of profit and loss?

SOURCE

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Review of The Death of Liberalism, by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

Review by HERBERT LONDON

The redoubtable R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. has done it again; he has written yet another penetrating analysis of the liberal establishment in his latest book, The Death of Liberalism, (Thomas Nelson, 2012)

Although this is a polemic with the biting attributes of Tyrrell's acid-like analysis, the points are critical, or as he puts it, fatal. For example, as he notes, the increase in the national debt is crushing and no amount of expropriation in the form of new and higher taxes can retire it.

At bottom Tyrrell, relying on a transparent admission by Herbert Croly in the Promise of American Life, maintains that liberalism is an expression of the belief "that the average American individual is morally and intellectually inadequate to a serious and consistent conception of his responsibilities as a democrat." Hence, the need for government social engineers who arrogantly do the necessary bidding for reform.

The new progressives invariably invoke the goals of justice and fairness, but their policy applications are anti-democratic and illiberal. They claim, as an example, that universal health care will engender low cost and high quality care, but overlook the fact that it entails stripping many Americans of cherished liberties.

Clearly statism of the kind promoted by the new progressives argues for aggressive legislation to right the wrongs of the past, from the unequal distribution of wealth to urban woe. In the process, liberty is compromised and the promised goals of this intellectual exercise prove elusive. As Tyrrell contends, liberalism is exhausted, a victim of failed policies going back to the New Deal.

He notes accurately, I believe, that the white working class believes in the nation, its history, Constitution, and customs. It is suspicious of elites and believes that the progressives have deserted them, despite rhetorical gestures made in their direction. The liberal schemes for the future are a composite of socialism, fascism, and American bred big government melded together in a brew that is designed to engender citizen dependency and infantilism.

When the Obama led government took over AIG, Chrysler, General Motors, and the banks that were deemed "too big to fail," the sign of progressive overreach was readily visible. This spectacular expansion of federal authority placed one-sixth of the economy under government control. What Tyrrell describes as socialism with "a friendly face."

As I see it, Tyrrell has effectively captured the liberal impulse for government's insinuation into every aspect of economic life. Where I hesitantly challenge Mr. Tyrrell is whether the evidence he has compiled leads inexorably to the death of liberalism. After all, communism died, but leviathan prevails. It might well be asked if the number of Americans seduced by government activity is not larger than those who do not feed from the public trough.

Consider for the sake of argument the fact that 45 million Americans are on food stamps (1.8 million in New York with a total population of 8 million); 50.5 million receive Medicaid; 46.5 million are on Medicare; 52 million receive Social Security benefits; 26 million are receiving earned income credit. These payments account for well over 70 percent of the federal budget and limits are not on the horizon.

Consider as well benefits to home owners, crony capitalism activity and the role interest groups play in deriving special treatment from government. It is one thing to say, as erstwhile President Clinton did, that the age of big government is over, and quite another matter to see it put into effect. Big government is not deleveraging because too many people have a stake in its retention.

Perhaps claims of The Death of Liberalism are exaggerated. But on the essential issue Tyrrell is correct-liberalism is draining energy from the body politic, forcing the United States into a crisis of unparalleled proportions. Of course, this may be a crisis that isn't wasted and restores the traditions that gave this nation vitality. As I see it, hope is the harbinger of appropriate change and Tyrrell may be on to something.

SOURCE

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Obama’s Jobless Rate Reality

For the third straight spring, the American economy is experiencing a “failure to launch.” Our nation’s unemployment rate continues to inch lower — from 8.2 percent in March to 8.1 percent last month – but it’s dropping for all the wrong reasons (i.e. people leaving the labor force). And despite the Federal Reserve’s optimistic projections of sustained job growth over the coming months, the fundamentals of the U.S. labor market remain weak.

Record numbers of workers are exiting the job market — 340,000 of them last month alone — and the ranks of the long-term unemployed continue to hover at elevated levels.

Since Barack Obama took office, America’s civilian non-institutionalized population has expanded by more than 8 million people — however there are 319,000 fewer Americans working today than in January 2009. As a result of this failure to create jobs, America’s labor participation rate is at a 30-year low of 63.6 percent — and still falling.

This largely unreported statistic translates into less productivity and a bigger burden for taxpayers, but it also means America has a much higher unemployment rate than the one Obama’s administration has been touting. In fact had America’s labor participation rate remained constant over the duration of Obama’s term, the current unemployment rate would be 11.1 percent.

More HERE

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Europe's high-taxing Right is headed for a fall

Nobody should be surprised if voters also give Angela Merkel and David Cameron the boot at the next ballot

Readers presumably understand that Europe's economic crisis is also the crisis of social democracy—of the idea that markets must be made to co-exist with high levels of taxation, regulation, unionization, welfare spending and subsidized health care and education. Eutopia may be nice in theory; it may even work for a while. But eventually social-democratic policies will lead to economic stagnation, policy paralysis and national bankruptcy on the continental scale we are witnessing today.

So, naturally, Germany's Social Democrats romped to a 13-point victory in Sunday's elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, the country's largest state.

"All politics is local," goes the clich├ę, and it would be tempting to read the German result that way, too. The state had long been a Social Democratic stronghold before tipping into the hands of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats in 2005. Mrs. Merkel remains broadly liked as chancellor and doesn't face an election until next year. And the German economy is the envy of Europe.

And yet Mrs. Merkel's party keeps losing state elections: In its old stronghold of Baden-W├╝rrttemberg last year; in her home state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Are Germans doing so well that they've decided to become politically flippant about their prosperity? Would Christian Democrats be doing a bit better politically if the economy were doing a bit worse?

The resurgence of the Social Democrats in Germany is of a piece with the strong showing of Labour last month in Britain's local council elections. It's of a piece with the pathetic showing this month of Greece's center-right New Democracy, and of the resurgence there of the hard left. It's especially of a piece with Francois Hollande's improbable rise to the French presidency, on the strength of economic ideas whose intellectual sell-by date was sometime in the mid-1970s.

Have the gods gone crazy? No. But maybe there's a message here for Europe's joy-fearing conservatives, who seem to have convinced themselves that managing an economy should be like running a 19th-century nunnery—an exercise in the stern suppression of animal spirits.

Take euro-conservative tax policy. In France, Nicolas Sarkozy responded to the euro-zone crisis by increasing some VAT rates to 21.2% from 19.6%, introducing a 3% surcharge on high incomes, and raising the effective capital-gains tax to 32.5% from 31.3%. In Britain, David Cameron raised VAT to 20% from 17.5% and kept the top marginal rate at 50% (now coming down to a still-exorbitant 45%).

Germany? Tax cuts Mrs. Merkel promised when she was re-elected never materialized, though corporate rates have come down. The new conservative Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy is raising the top marginal rate of income tax to 52% from 45%. In Holland, the right-of-center government increased the top VAT rate two percentage points to 21% and doubled the country's bank tax prior to its sudden collapse last month. Italy's technocratic administration of Mario Monti has imposed new levies on property, luxury goods and repatriated wealth.

No wonder the natives are stirring. Europe's right-of-center leaders came to office on the perception that they are better economic managers than their left-of-center counterparts. What they've mainly shown is that they are just as incompetent—only a lot more severe.

Raising consumption taxes in an otherwise flat-lining economy is especially galling if it's joined to the perception (accurate or not) that the government plans to lay off government workers. Why should Europeans be made to sacrifice on an altar of austerity whose benefits have so far failed to materialize, except perhaps as a slightly more palatable debt-to-GDP score? Just who is this thing called "the economy" meant to serve?

The astonishing political result is that it is now the left that has captured the language of growth. Never mind the precise formulas: blowout deficit spending, loose monetary policy, millionaire surcharges, a Tobin tax, euro bonds financed by anybody who can turn water into wine, a "mild" dose of inflation. At least the left is talking growth, not redistribution. That's a mark of political progress.

Here's something else the European left seems to be recapturing: the language of sovereignty and democracy.

For years, it was the right that had a corner on that particular market, with its suspicion of all things Brussels. But Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy undercut that reputation with their serially ill-fated efforts to broker grand bargains for "saving" the euro zone. Their prescriptions were rubbish—Does Greece look like it's been rescued? Has Mrs. Merkel's fiscal pact held up?—but their arrogance was worse. Nobody wants their economic future dictated to them by leaders they didn't elect, in languages they probably don't understand. Yet that's exactly what "Merkozy" sought to impose.

Now it's gone, and good riddance too. The French will probably soon come to regret Mr. Hollande, but it's unlikely Mr. Sarkozy will be missed. Nobody should be surprised if voters also give Mrs. Merkel, Mr. Rajoy and Mr. Cameron the boot at the next ballot. At its best, the right should stand for the idea that the purpose of government is to allow people to flourish, mainly by getting out of their way. Today's European right stands instead for imposing penalties on people in order to atone for the sins of government. That's a right that deserves to lose, and will, until it learns that voters want freedom, not chastity.

SOURCE

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The Demise of Employer-Based Health Insurance

There is no question that the President wants a “single payer,” where hospitals and physicians are all paid from a single source, a single government-run program funded by general taxation. The fact that this leads to shortages, waiting lines, and rationing does not seem to concern those who have this single-minded goal.

Before he became President, Senator Barack Obama addressed members of the AFL-CIO. He stated:

"I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its gross national product on health care, cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. Everybody in, nobody out-- a single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. That's what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we've got to take back the White House, we've got to take back the Senate, and we've got to take back the House."

The messy business of passing health care reform began in earnest as soon as President Obama took office. His party did have control of the House and Senate, but loud opposition began and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was passed by the slimmest of margins in early 2010. In order to keep the semblance of continuity, the new law was built on the current system of employer-based health insurance. Americans have an independent streak and would not accept a government single-payer system in one fell swoop.

Employer-based health insurance has proven inadequate. It developed in a time when people were less mobile and the norm was to find a job and stay with it until it was time for the retirement dinner and gold watch. Now that people tend to regularly change jobs, getting into and out of health insurance policies leads to disruption of care as different doctors are in different plans.

Despite its drawbacks, 170 million Americans depend on employer-based coverage. What will happen if they lose it in the next two years, thanks to PPACA? The law was actually designed to discourage employers from covering their workers, as the penalty for not meeting the employer mandate is quite small, while the “minimum essential coverage” will be very expensive. The House Ways and Means Committee found that 71 of the Fortune 100 companies could save $422 billion from 2014-2023 by dropping insurance and paying the fine.

In addition, price limits on premiums with increasing mandated benefits will serve to drive the insurance companies out of business.

If PPACA is not overturned or repealed, President Obama will probably get his wish.

And would Americans get “fair” and “equal” care? On George Orwell’s Animal Farm “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Under socialism, the ruling elite never seem to have to abide by the rules that they so methodically craft for the rest of us. President Obama knows that his wife and daughters will be immune to the downside of single payer, while the rank and file will suffer greatly. The people will beg for relief from excessive taxation and access to better medical care, but will they be able to find it?

Rather than moving toward single payer, it would be better to eliminate any middleman in most encounters between patient and physician. Allow the patients to pay for routine care and purchase their own health insurance plans with the least government meddling. Big government stifles initiative and punishes achievement.

Our Constitution envisioned citizen legislators who would create laws that are so fair they are happy to live by them. It is what Americans really need. Let’s hope the Supreme Court completely voids PPACA and we can have a system based on liberty, personal initiative, and freedom to access the best care at the lowest cost. Only when the government gets out of medicine will we ever achieve that goal.

SOURCE

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My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access 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)

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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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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Obama Is the Extremist, Not Conservative Talkers

Some conservatives believe that other conservatives, on talk radio and Fox News Channel, are damaging the cause of conservatism by dishonestly overstating their case against President Obama to increase their ratings and profits.

More reasonable Republican politicians, they argue, would like to cooperate with Obama on bipartisan solutions but don't have the power to resist these extremists with the megaphones and so have buckled in lock step to their demands and become the party of "no" and the purveyors of gridlock.

The problem is that the presuppositions underlying those allegations are wrong. There may be some exceptions, but the large majority of leading conservative voices are doing their very best to save this nation from Obama's policies, which they believe are leading to the nation's financial, cultural and national security ruin. Obama is a leftist, very extreme by historical standards. To compromise with his positions would not be in the best interest of the nation but would advance the cause of leftism, so any pressure conservatives can bring to bear on Republican politicians to strongly oppose his agenda is laudable.

I can't conceive of too many situations in which splitting the difference with Obama has advanced or would advance the cause of conservatism or constitutional liberty. We wouldn't reduce our debt, for example, by agreeing to reduce the levels of increases in spending. We couldn't improve the quality, cost and availability of health care by agreeing to more government intervention when we believe in free market solutions. We couldn't prudently agree to a half-measure stimulus package when we believe stimulus spending not only doesn't stimulate the economy but does further increase the debt. We couldn't agree to some compromise reductions in our nuclear and conventional forces if we believe that even these lesser cuts would jeopardize our national security. We couldn't agree to meet Obama halfway on energy policy by signing on to policies that punish conventional energy only half as much and waste just half as many billions on quixotic green energy debacles.

We can get mired in a semantic argument over whether Obama is a card-carrying communist, a European socialist, an admirer of Hugo Chavez's and Daniel Ortega's or, as he says, a fierce advocate of the free market, but such quibbling is more misleading than the labels themselves.

Perhaps Obama doesn't technically favor ushering in Karl Marx's "dictatorship of the proletariat" en route to the "withering away of the state" and the promised utopia. But the issue isn't whether Obama subscribes to this or that brand of socialism -- Marxism, Trotskyism, Stalinism, Leninism, democratic socialism or whatever. The point is that he's a radical leftist who subscribes to the radical leftist worldview, and many of us believe that if left unchecked, he would go much further than he's gone to undermine our Constitution and our freedom tradition. Considering the degree to which he has thwarted and circumvented the Constitution and the rule of law -- and otherwise abused his executive authority during his first term -- despite facing re-election in 2012, there is no telling how radical he might become with four more years in lame duck status.

I do think a strong case can be made that he has Marxist leanings and thus believe the term is warranted as a general descriptor. For 20 years, he belonged to a church that emphasized race and materialism more than it did Christian theology. He appointed radical czars, some of whom self-identify as Marxists, and others support Chavez's track record in oppressing media freedom. He constantly demonizes the "wealthy," business and "excess profits." He obsesses over redistributing wealth. He seems to subscribe to the Marxist theory of surplus value, believing labor never receives its fair share and often abusing his executive authority to remedy that perceived injustice. He is in favor of ever-increasing government control of business and industry -- not just health care -- and has a manifest distrust of the market.

Call him what you want, but don't tell me he isn't an extreme leftist by American standards. He might be a moderate in Europe, but not here.

If not for strong conservative voices opposing his radical agenda, he would have gone much further: larger and more stimuli, much greater deficits and debt, even higher percentages of people on the welfare rolls and not paying income taxes, an even more lawless Justice Department, a single-payer health care system, the consummation of the war on conventional energy and further wasteful green energy experiments, a more progressive income tax code, a possible value-added tax, more liberal activist judges, greater unilateral disarmament, further relaxation of border control, more government control over business -- and more.

Thank God for conservative talkers and other voices on the right who aren't deterred from doing what is right for fear of being called extremists themselves.

SOURCE

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Myths About Inequality

Because they do not seem to have any real solutions to real problems, the leftwing in this country has become fixated on a non-problem: inequality. In the process, people who harp on this idea often get their facts wrong. The following is my attempt to set the record straight.

Myth: Those at the bottom are worse off because the rich are better off.

"The rich are sucking up all the income," said Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs on Morning Joe. Surveying the past two decades, Brian Wesbury gives this answer:

Yes the top 1% saw its share of that income rise from 8.5% to 16.9%. And, yes, the bottom 50% saw its share fall from 17.7% to 13.5%, but that smaller share in 2009 was $1.05 trillion, a 265% increase… In other words, it is true that incomes at the top have risen faster than average incomes, but it is not true that any group has been made worse off. Incomes and living standards for all Americans, including those in lower-income brackets, are up. At the same time, tax burdens for those in lower-income groups have fallen substantially.

Myth: The rich are not paying their fair share of taxes.

In fact, higher income taxpayers pay a considerably larger share of the tax burden than their share of personal income (see the chart here):

* The top 1% of the income distribution earns 18% of personal income, but pays 27% of total federal tax liabilities.

* The top 10% earns 31% of the income, but pays 44% of the taxes.

* By contrast, the bottom 60% of the population receives 25% of the income, but pays only 14% of the taxes.

Myth: The income of the rich has been rising relative to everyone else.

In fact, a large part of the apparent growth in income inequality is simply the result of differences in the way Americans pay taxes. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Phil Gramm and Steve McMillan explain it this way:
In 1986, before the top marginal tax rate was reduced to 28% from 50%, half of all businesses in America were organized as C-Corps and taxed as corporations. By 2007, only 21% of businesses in America were taxed as corporations and 79% were organized as pass-through entities, with four million S-Corps and three million partnerships filing taxes as individuals.

Because of those changes, over the past 20 years the share of income of the top 1% of taxpayers coming from S-corporations tripled. Similarly, lowering the rate on capital gains encouraged taxpayers to realize gains and pay taxes on them. The lower rates on dividend income encouraged companies to pay dividends to individuals instead of keeping the funds as corporate retained earnings. Overall:
If the share of income coming from businesses, capital gains and dividends had remained at the levels before the tax rate changes of 1986, 1997 and 2003 respectively, the income of top 1% filers would have been 31% lower in 2007.

Myth: The U.S. tax system is less progressive than the tax systems of other countries.

In fact, the United States has the most progressive tax system of all developed countries. According to the most recent report from the OECD, the United States "collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10% of the population." As Gramm and McMillin explain:
When the U.S. collects 16.1% of GDP in income taxes, the top 10% of taxpayers pay 7.3% and the other 90% pick up 8.9%.
In France, however, they collect 24.3% of GDP in income taxes with the top 10% paying 6.8% and the rest paying a whopping 17.5% of GDP. Sweden collects its 28.5% of GDP through income taxes by tapping the top 10% for 7.6%, but the other 90% get hit for a back-breaking 20.9% of GDP.

If the U.S. spent and taxed like France and Sweden, it would hardly affect the top 10%, who would pay about what they pay now, but the bottom 90% would see their taxes double.

Myth: Income is the best measure of well-being.

Many wealthy people live modest lives. And many low-income families take advantage of anti-poverty programs that furnish them with housing, Food Stamps and medical care. Surely the best measure of well-being is not what people earn, but what they consume. As it turns out, there has been very little change in inequality of consumption over the past 25 years. As Diana Furthgott-Roth explains:
Government data on individual spending patterns show that the ratio of spending between the top and bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, measured on a per person basis, was essentially unchanged between 1985 and 2010. In 1985 people in the top quintile had spending that was 2.5 times that of people in the bottom quintile. By 2010, this ratio was 2.4.

SOURCE

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Why are All the Leftist Politicians Who Hate the Rich…So Filthy Rich?

Have you ever noticed how almost all the leftist politicians who hate and want to punish the rich with draconian tax increases…are filthy rich themselves? Confusing, isn’t it?

Actually, once you know the truth it's really quite easy to understand.

Take France’s new Socialist President Francois Holland. He never stops talking about his dislike and disgust for the rich. He is almost more obsessed with hate for the rich than Obama is. Yet it turns out Holland is…drumroll please…filthy rich himself.

That’s right. Socialist Holland owns not one, not two, but three homes in Cannes on the French Riviera. Unbelievable.

In America let’s think of the biggest haters of the rich. Obama is now filthy rich. He has been since selling his autobiography after getting elected to the U.S. Senate, and buying a $2,000,000 Chicago home (with help from a convicted felon). Once Obama leaves the White House (hopefully soon), he’ll spend the rest of his life getting paid millions for books and $200,000 a pop for speeches to the business groups he hates so much.

Bill and Hillary Clinton hate the rich. They left the White House broke and owing millions in legal fees. After quickly capitalizing with books, speeches and foundations they turned zero into an $80,000,000 fortune in a few short years. I’ve never heard of a job like that. I’m not referring to being President. I’m referring to hating the rich. It seems to magically make you…filthy rich.

Al Gore is far richer than his old boss Bill Clinton. Gore the bore is worth about one billion dollars from his TV network, documentaries and stock options. All of that wealth is based on disliking the rich, and trying to tax them to death in order to save the world from global warming. But Gore uses more energy on one trip in his private jet than all of us do in a decade of driving. And Al’s 20,000 square foot mansion uses more electricity in a year than most of us pay for rent in a decade. And, don’t forget Gore started out the privileged son of a U.S. Senator.

Or take New York’s disgraced ex-Governor Eliot Spitzer. The great anti-business, anti-Wall Street crusader never bothered to disclose that his daddy owns half the buildings on Manhattan’s Fifth Ave. I’ve never owned one building in my life, yet I fight for capitalism every day. I am a capitalist evangelist. Yet someone whose daddy practically owns the world’s most exclusive avenue takes great pleasure in putting self-made rich men in prison. Do you see the irony there? Do you see the pattern?

These people are hypocrites of the highest order. They are angry and guilty for having never earned a dime of their own fortunes. By dumb luck they were dropped down the right chimney, lucky sperm club members who had everything handed to them.

So, they hate self-made rich people. Self-made men and women remind them of what they are not. They remind them of the wealth they never earned. Remind them of the deep-seated guilt they feel every day of their lives. Remind them, but for the grace of God, they could (and probably would) be riding a bus in the Bronx, headed to a blue collar job.

That’s why leftist politicians (and lawyers, media and the Hollywood elite) hate the self-made rich so much. Because they never earned their own money- and they know it.

I figured it out 30 years ago in college. I was Obama’s classmate at Columbia University, Class of ’83, a blue-collar, middle class, S.O.B. (son of a butcher) surrounded by filthy-rich, spoiled brats. Almost all my classmates were sons and daughters of privilege. They went to the fanciest prep schools, vacationed in Europe, lived in mansions on leafy streets in legendary towns from Great Neck to Sutton Place to Beverly Hills. Yet they all hated the rich. They wanted to bring down capitalism.

“Woe is me.” They were pitiful and pathetic in their white guilt. Their act to make believe they weren’t the luckiest, most spoiled, and privileged bunch in the world made me ill.

Nothing has changed in 30 years. The rich kids I met at Columbia hated the rich because they were embarrassed by the tens or hundreds of millions they had without deserving or earning it. Today they are the mainstream media, the leftist D.C politicians, and the donors that support them.

They still hate the rich. They just never disclose to anyone how rich they were on the day they were born, how every door has been opened, how everything has been handed to them their entire lives, and how every failure has been papered over with mommy and daddy’s money.

That’s the secret. Show me a self-made man or woman and I’ll show you a fiscal conservative. I'll show you someone that is proud of their success and feels they deserve to keep more of their own money.

But show me a leftist politician who hates the rich, and 95% of the time I'll show you spoiled brats who inherited their wealth, power and connections.

And the other 5% of leftists (like the Obama's and Clintons) got filthy rich by attacking the rich. That turns out to be a very lucrative business.

SOURCE

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My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access 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)

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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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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Note

I am out of hospital again but still have some health problems. I do however hope to be pretty back to normal with blogging tomorrow

"Liberals" in America today are just socialists

Calling socialists liberals is as deceptive as calling goose gizzards foie gras. It fools no one but the epistemologically blinkered. The term liberal allows liberals to pose as concerned, generous and forward-thinking individuals and to act under what was once an honorable term for anyone who advocated or endorsed liberty. And as any well-read American knows, liberals do not advocate liberty. Quite the opposite.

The subject here is the devolution of the term liberal, not its evolution.

Even out-and-out communists are called liberals. President Barack Obama is called a "liberal." The late Senator Ted Kennedy was called a "liberal." Barney Frank is a liberal. Obama's cabinet is largely staffed by liberals (unless outed, as self-confessed communist Van Jones was). Communism and socialism still carry a bad reputation, so everyone, including the Main Stream Media, and even well-intentioned pundits and commentators friendly to liberty, use the term liberal. The MSM, however, does it to dodge the reputation. Others use it from habit or ignorance, or because calling liberals socialists or communists in drag might open a can of worms they couldn't handle. This is courtesy carried to a fault. Underlying the fault is a fear of the inevitable clash between those who advocate freedom, and those who do not.

Obama's campaign slogan, "Forward," is simply a Progressive marching order. "Forward" to what? To socialism. To communism. To a command economy and a slave state, one half governed by bureaucrats, the other half by an alliance of Islam and quivering religionists of various stripes, willing to pay jizya to Islam in order to be granted their "religious freedom."

The Washington Post trumpeted "Forward" with no reservations or even curiosity about its Communist and Nazi origins. But then the Washington Post has been in the Saul Alinsky camp for over a generation.
One Alinsky benefactor was Wall Street investment banker Eugene Meyer, who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1930 to 1933. Meyer and his wife Agnes co-owned The Washington Post. They used their newspaper to promote Alinsky.

Agnes Meyer personally wrote a six-part series in 1945, praising Alinsky's work in Chicago slums. Her series, called "The Orderly Revolution," made Alinsky famous. President Truman ordered 100 reprints of it.

In 1989, The New York Times waxed poetic about Alinsky's powerful friends, and also provided some important information in the course of a review of a biography of Alinsky by Sanford D. Horwitt:
By the end of World War II Alinsky had won a measure of national renown. His ''Reveille for Radicals'' (1945) hit the best-seller list, and he secured the fervent support of important liberals like Agnes E. Meyer of The Washington Post and the retail magnate Marshall Field 3d. Though it undercuts his larger portrait, Mr. Horwitt shows that much of Alinsky's acclaim rested upon his promise that social reform and a democratic revival could take place through what Meyer called an ''orderly revolution,'' which would bypass the new power of the unions and reject the growth of an intrusive New Deal state. Thus ''Reveille for Radicals,'' which ostensibly celebrated social conflict, was panned by most of the left but acclaimed by Time, The New York Times and other mass circulation publications.

Neither Time, nor the Washington Post, nor the New York Times has changed its tune. If anything, they have grown more shrill from the standpoint of endorsing not just Alinsky but socialism. But they repress that term socialism, and deny they are of the Left. They'll admit only that they're "progressive" because, you see, they're "humanitarians." Well, so were Pol Pot, and Mao, and Stalin, and Lenin, and Hitler. So are Robert Mugabe, and Hugo Chavez, and Ahmadinejad, and all the Kings of Saudi Arabia.

But, what are uncountable millions of dead of humanitarianism, when "progress" has been made, and man has been nudged "forward" into impoverished, straight-jacketed societies?

Let's set the record straight. Liberals are fundamentally collectivists. Specifically, either socialists or communists. Their policies and programs are demonstrably socialist or communist, whether one is speaking of Social Security, Medicare, the Federal Reserve, the income tax, and innumerable regulatory and confiscatory programs and policies, practically every bit of legislation that has been entered into The Congressional Record and The Federal Register for the last one hundred years. The term liberal should be retired, put out to pasture, and substituted with the appropriate and correct terms.

Here is a sampling of definitions of the term liberal:

1. Having, expressing, or following political views or policies that favor civil liberties, democratic reforms, and the use of government power to promote social progress3. Of, designating, or belonging to a political party that advocates liberal social or political views, esp. in the United States, Great Britain, and Canada. The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Company) 1985. (This is the first definition. Root meanings connected with generosity, open-mindedness, tolerance, etc., follow it. This is a significant order.)

6a. Of, favoring, or based on the principles of liberalism. 6b. Of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; esp. of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideas of individual esp. economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reform designed to secure those objectives. Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (G. & C. Merriam Company) 1967. (Meanings connected with generosity, tolerance, etc. precede the political meanings.)

II. 1. Any person who advocates liberty of thought, speech, or action; one who is opposed to conservatism: distinguished from radical. 2. Liberal party, a party in English politics formed by the coalition of the Whigs and Radicals about 1830: opposed to Tory. The Practical Standard Dictionary of the English Language (Funk & Wagnalls Company) 1939. (Meanings connected with generosity, etc. precede the political ones.)

And finally:

3. (Polit.) Favorable to democratic reform and individual liberty, (moderately) progressive (the Liberal Party). The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Sixth Edition, 1976. (Here, too, meanings connected with generosity, etc., precede the political definition. This is an acceptable condensation of the term from the two-volume Compact edition of the OED, 1971, whose entry is about half a foot in length in very tiny print, most of whose information is not relevant to my purpose here.)

Notice that the older the dictionary, the more liberty-linked the definition is. The American Heritage definition marks the end of the road for the term liberal, stressing the use of government power to promote social progress. Social progress is a catch-all euphemism for the collectivization of society and the assumption of more and more power by the government. It does not mean the liberation of men from other men's alleged needs or claimed "rights," but the forced or legislated chaining of all men to each other's alleged needs or alleged, government sanctioned "entitlements." It is the devious and misleading byword for incremental socialism, or Progressivism.

You will never hear Brian Williams of NBC or Bob Schieffer of CBS counter George Will or Charles Krauthammer with a statement, "But, we the Left don't think that's a good policy" You will never hear them admit that they are of and for the Left. That would be "telling," as a con artist's "tell" is a warning that he's about to scam you.

More HERE

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Why unions hurt the middle class

Big Labor is Fighting UsBy David Nace — For decades we have been told that unions help the middle class. We have heard it from unions, from politicians that receive union contributions and from a sympathetic media. However, when one examines the facts, this claim is completely false.

How can an organization that represents a small minority the workforce, just over 10%, but whose actions force the other 90% to pay higher prices for everything they purchase and in addition, higher local, state and federal taxes, claim they are helping the middle class? Yet that is exactly the claim that unions and their political supporters have made for decades.

Even in times of greatly expanding union membership, the middle class paid a price for union expansion through higher unemployment and higher prices. Starting in 1933, FDR used the National Industrial Recovery Act (NRA) to encourage companies to establish cartels in most industries and set the minimum prices that could be charged in exchange for favorable unionization policies in their companies. These policies more than doubled the number of union members in just one decade. The Supreme Court ruled that the NRA was unconstitutional 2 years later, but the damage had already been done.

The NRA increased the cost of products by 40% at a time when few people could afford higher prices. Consequently, industrial production fell by 25% after the NRA was enacted. To put this into perspective, by 1930 the economy had already started to recover from the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Unemployment which was 5% before the crash had spiked at 9% in the winter of 1929 and then started to fall. Once the Smoot Hawley Tariff, NRA and other progressive policies were enacted, however, unemployment rose from 9% to 20% and stayed above 15% for the rest of the decade. It was not until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and 12 million people were inducted into the military, that employment returned to pre-Stock Market Crash levels.

Today, union membership is a far cry from its peak in the 1950’s when 30% of the workforce was unionized. Only about 10% of the workforce is unionized and approximately half works for local, state and federal governments.

When unions in a manufacturing company make wage or benefit demands or impose restrictive work rules, they raise the cost of products that the company makes. If few other companies make that product, the other 90% of the middle class is forced to pay higher prices. However in many cases, suppliers in other countries are able to provide that product at a lower cost. This eliminates American middle class jobs. The demise of the steel and auto industries is a perfect example of what happens when union demands exceed the realities of the market place. When an entire industry is decimated by the exorbitant wages and benefits of a few unionized companies, the middle class is hurt by lost jobs throughout that industry.

Unions in the public sector are even more damaging to the middle class. As the result of unions using member dues to help elect both Democratic and Republican politicians that will support union wages and benefit demands, only 10% of the workforce is able to impose costs that the other 90% of taxpayers must pay for. When these same politicians allow extravagant retirement benefits in union contracts, but fail to fund the benefits to avoid making the taxpayers aware of the true costs, the middle class is hurt even more. Many states will not allow the modification of union retirement benefits regardless of the extravagance of the benefits or the cost to the taxpayers. The middle class taxpayer is ultimately left to fund the benefits promised by union supported politicians but never funded.

Unions have done an excellent job of portraying themselves as the defender of the middle class. In reality, whether the union concentration is 30% or 10%, the only people that have benefited from unionization are union members and union leaders, to the detriment of the rest of the middle class.

SOURCE

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'Taxmaggedon' Is a Real Threat

Next year's scheduled increases on dividends and capital gains will retard investment and derail the recovery

Nine years ago this month Congress passed President George W. Bush's Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act. That bill's lower rates on capital, as well as the continuity in tax policy it established, have helped make our economy far more resilient.

The legislation's centerpiece was a reduction in the taxation of dividends and capital gains to 15%. Unfortunately, the 2003 tax rates, including those on capital income, are due to expire at the end of the year.

Capital warrants special tax treatment because of the central role it plays in generating economic growth and jobs. Capital is the very lifeblood of the market economy, the mainstay of innovation, and the foundation for future prosperity. As more of it is put to work today, labor output and wages will rise tomorrow. An appreciation of that critical relationship should guide how the tax system treats earnings from capital.

The double taxation of dividends—with corporate earnings first taxed 35% at the corporate level and then, when paid out to shareholders, taxed again—has been a long-standing and well-recognized distortion in the tax code. It favors debt financing over equity capital formation, because interest is deducted as a cost of doing business and lowers taxable income, while dividends are taxed twice.

The preference for debt financing and leverage shortchanges shareholders and is not healthy for corporate decision-making. Double taxation penalizes dividend payments and discourages managements from making them.

Congress did not eliminate the double taxation of dividends in 2003, but it substantially ameliorated the distortion. Dividends are now taxed at 15%, rather than the typically higher income-tax rates paid by shareholders. Importantly, the 15% tax rate was applied to capital gains as well. Capital gains previously had been taxed at 20% with special rates for assets held five years or longer. This symmetry between dividends and capital gains harmonized and simplified the regime for the taxation of capital and still stands today as a key achievement in modern tax policy.

Corporations responded to the lower rates on dividends by paying out more of their profits, which raises the returns to those holding stock and thus increases equity prices. Both trends strengthen Americans' retirement savings. As recent actions by Google, Apple and scores of other companies attest, corporations today find it more difficult to sit on cash instead of rewarding shareholders with dividend payouts.

With the expiration of the 2003 tax law at the end of this year, taxes—not only on capital earnings but also on ordinary incomes—will return to the much higher levels that previously existed.

This would be devastating to the fragile economic recovery, and to every American still looking for work. Combined with the expiration of temporary payroll tax relief, the United States faces what has now been labeled "taxmageddon"—a fiscal headwind so strong that it threatens a swift return to recession.

What seems to be lacking is a clear path to the future. Here are some suggestions for policy makers.

First, remember the principle that you always get less of anything you tax. For this reason, society discourages undesirable activities by imposing so-called "sin" taxes. By the same token, high marginal tax rates discourage work, risk-taking and capital formation.

Second, tax rates should be held as low as possible, consistent with maintaining fiscal balance. Low tax rates are not in conflict with fiscal sanity if the rate of government spending as a fraction of gross domestic product is reduced, or if the tax base is broadened with more fundamental tax reforms. It is encouraging to see so much interest gathering in support of changes to the tax code that would scrap many special tax breaks in favor of deeply lower marginal tax rates.

Third, marginal tax rates should be as neutral as possible across different types of economic activities. Otherwise the tax code distorts behavior in ways that sap economic strength, as market participants rely less on market price signals and more on government commands to decide how economic resources are used. Social engineering through the tax code comes at a very high cost.

Finally, policy makers should remember to "do no harm." A reversion to the kind of drastically higher marginal tax rates that existed in the past would be bad enough. It would only add insult to injury to use the economic crisis as an excuse to raise the tax burden on capital formation and thus reduce the lifeblood of America's job creators.

Unfortunately, we face that real prospect, as prominent proposals by the administration would triple the top dividend tax rate to nearly 45%, while doubling the top rate on capital gains to 30%. If one intended to cripple job creation, depress stock prices, and lower the value of retirement savings for working Americans, these proposals would be just what we should choose.

As taxmageddon looms, let's hope we choose wisely.

SOURCE

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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My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access 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)

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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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Monday, May 14, 2012

The New Radicals: Democrats

My new piece at Daily Caller looks at how the Democratic Party’s approach to tax policy has changed over the decades.

The piece was prompted by a recent article from Norm Ornstein and Tom Mann claiming that needed bipartisan reforms are being blocked by the new “ideologically extreme” Republican Party.

Baloney. It’s the Democrats who have changed. The party’s leaders have moved far to the left on economic issues.

As evidence, I point to this Cato Journal article from 1985 by Democrat Richard Gephardt, who was a leader on tax reform. As a free-market guy, I agree with the great majority of what Gephardt said, yet I agree with virtually nothing that modern Democratic leaders say about tax policy.

Regarding ridding the tax code of special breaks, Gephardt says, “I confess that I am not qualified to act as a central planner and I do not know anybody on either committee who is.” Amen!

And Gephardt says, “We in Congress take pride in the free market system.” When was the last time you heard a Democratic leader say something like that?

SOURCE

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The Average White Guy Vote

CANTON, Ohio-Rudy is the quintessential average white guy, right down to his last name. "It literally is Guy," he said, laughing at the irony.

Born in New Eagle and raised in Charleroi in Pennsylvania's Monongahela Valley, Guy comes from a long line of Democrats. "My grandfather worked at Corning Glass, my father worked in the mines, the steel mill and finally at Corning," he recalled. "The family always had union ties, and that usually meant a tie to the Democratic Party."

That's no longer true for him, however: "As my life started to improve financially, I realized that unions seemed to be damaging the economy and Democrat legislation always seemed to impact my wallet."

Guy lives in a Canton suburb lively with soccer fields, businesses, car cruises and recycling programs. He has a blended family of six daughters and one son; his wife, Cheryl, is a nurse and a registered Democrat.

His story is not much different than that of those West Virginia Democrats who protest-voted for a convicted felon over a sitting president in last Tuesday's state primary.

The problem for President Barack Obama and down-ticket Democrats on November's ballot is that average white guys aren't just found in West Virginia; they're in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other states, too, and they can tip this fall's election.

According to Gallup's latest battleground numbers, Obama's main electoral strengths are with voters who are nonwhite, nonreligious, single or postgraduates. Republican Mitt Romney's strength is with white voters, particularly men, those who are religious, and those who are 30 or older.

Romney leads Obama with white male and female voters and does significantly better among men, 59 percent to 32 percent.

Among white women, Romney leads by nine points, 50 percent to 41 percent.

Rudy Guy says Obama has lost his registered-Democrat wife's vote: "Cheryl and I pretty much see eye-to-eye on the Republican Party's legislation direction."

Some Democrats like to portray the GOP as a party of white, middle-class, married Christian men. Interestingly, the president, who ran as someone who would unite the nation, has disconnected with the next largest plurality in the electorate behind women - white guys, men who once were the backbone of the Democratic Party.

These are the men whose skills include fixing the wiring in your home, mining the coal that supplies 82 percent of Ohio's and 48 percent of Pennsylvania's electrical power, and running the small businesses that keep our communities (and other small businesses in them) rolling along.

They make the widgets and fix the computers we use, own the lawn-care companies that tend to our neighborhoods and schools, volunteer as our children's coaches, and attend church probably less often than they would like because of work or community commitments.

They are the sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of European immigrants whose commitment to work, family and God all held equal priority. College either was not an option or was skipped so that they could use their hands and their ingenuity to become gainfully employed.

Many also are employees of what today appears to be the next great economic frontier - the energy industry. Yet, oddly, they are ignored by Democrats, or used by the president to sell class warfare in his re-election campaign.

They did vote for him in 2008 - but the polls suggest they are not coming back this time.

The loss of the average white guy is why you see President Obama devoting so much effort on trying to encourage the college-educated young to vote, said Mark Rozell, political-science professor at George Mason University. "He needs to offset substantial losses among predominantly white, non-college-educated men who are a big component of those left behind by the struggling economy," Rozell explained.

And the quintessential example of that is Canton's Rudy Guy.

"It seems to me that Obama is intent on punishing anyone who is employed with a job over minimum wage," Guy said. "In the last three years, I've seen my spendable income drop, my cost for health-care insurance go up, and my benefits go down.

"Three years ago the question was, 'Are you better off now than when Bush took office?' Most of us weren't. But am I better off today than when Obama took office?"

His answer is simple: "No."

SOURCE

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The real solution to high gas prices

In these tumultuous times, Americans seem to have trouble finding common ground. But it’s safe to say that most of us can agree that gasoline, at around $4 per gallon, is uncomfortably expensive.

The law of supply and demand would seem to suggest an effective solution to our problem. An increase in long-term supply would lead to a long-term drop in prices.

But that’s far too cut-and-dried for President Obama. “There are politicians who say if we just drill more, gas prices will come down,” he told reporters recently. That won’t work, he insisted, because Americans “use more than 20 percent of the world’s oil and we only have 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.”

His preferred approach: greater federal intervention in oil markets.

The president wants to spend more than $50 million to hire more bureaucrats at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Obama calls that putting more “cops on the beat.” Here’s the problem with that approach: you can have as many cops as you want, but unless someone’s breaking the law, there’s nobody for them to arrest.

And there’s no evidence anyone is manipulating gas prices.

Last year, for example, the nation’s “top cop,” Attorney General Eric Holder, empaneled a working group to “explore whether there is any evidence of manipulation of oil and gas prices.” Holder hasn’t bothered to release a report, but it’s safe to say that he would have done so if his task force had identified any potential wrongdoing.

Just about every time gas prices go up, lawmakers demand an investigation into “price gouging.” And the results, time and again, come back negative. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Trade Commission investigated and “found no instances of illegal market manipulation that led to higher prices during the relevant time periods.” Other federal investigations over the years have reached the same conclusion.

Oil prices go up, and they come back down again. The increases are usually driven by a jump in demand, and the decreases are usually triggered by a jump in supply.

In early 1998, for example, oil-exporting countries ramped up production in the belief that prices were destined to remain high and that they could earn even higher profits by producing more oil. Instead, a recession in Asia led to an oversupply of crude, and the price tumbled to about $10 per barrel.

Over the years prices increased again, until something similar happened four years ago. The rise of China and years of economic growth drove the price of oil higher and higher. Crude topped $147 per barrel in July of 2008. Then, in the face of worldwide recession, it plunged. By Christmas it was as low as $32 per barrel.

So while prices are indeed high right now, it seems likely that, by the time Obama’s extra bureaucrats could even be hired, gas prices will have cycled down again.

In fact, it’s federal intervention that tends to foul up markets. In his book “The Quest,” energy expert Daniel Yergin explains that price controls, implemented under Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, didn’t help consumers.

“They did succeed in creating a whole new federal bureaucracy, an explosion in regulatory and litigation work for lawyers, and much political contention,” he writes. “But the controls did little for their stated goals of limiting inflation – and did nothing for energy security.” Not surprisingly, oil prices tumbled after President Reagan lifted price controls, which he did with his first executive order.

President Obama is certainly correct that drilling more today wouldn’t instantly decrease oil prices. It takes years, after all, to bring a new well online and begin generating oil from it. As former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister puts it, oil companies think in “energy time,” while our national leaders think in “political time.”

By blocking construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and by limiting offshore oil exploration, for example, the Obama administration has shown it’s more interested in rewarding its radical environmentalist supporters than in adding to future oil supplies.

The entire country will pay more for fuel because of those decisions in the years ahead: that’s “energy time.” Meanwhile, attacking non-existent price gougers happens in “political time.” Will voters allow the president to get away with such transparent pandering? Only time will tell.

SOURCE

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Employers could save billions by switching workers onto Obamacare (and the taxpayer)

A new survey of Fortune 100 companies finds that the health care overhaul, contrary to the claims of its authors, created some perverse incentives for employers to drop workers from company insurance plans.

Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee surveyed the top 100 companies about how much they spent on health care -- a total of 71, covering 5.9 million employees, responded. The results suggested it would be far more attractive for companies to drop workers from those plans than keep them.

Even after paying a penalty of $2,000 per employee, the companies stand to save $28.6 billion in 2014 alone by shifting employees to health insurance exchanges governed by strict federal standards. The companies stand to save more than $422 billion over the first 10 years of the law by doing this.

"The penalties for the employers who drop coverage are very low, and the subsidies for the workers in the exchanges are very high," said James Capretta, with the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

If the companies indeed take this step, the move would fly in the face of pledges by the law's backers, including President Obama, that U.S. workers would not lose their employer-provided health plans.

Shifting over to the insurance exchanges, while potentially a hassle for employees who had that decision mostly taken care of at their jobs, might not necessarily be a bad thing. The new exchanges would offer several choices of plans, and workers would get generous federal subsidies -- which only phase out at about $88,000 income.

The exchanges could be attractive to both employers and workers. That is especially true of small employers. Many companies would not want to be the first to drop coverage, but if a competitor did, others might feel compelled to follow suit, causing a snowball effect.

The higher cost of subsidies, though, would fall on the taxpayers.

SOURCE