Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Moral, Emotional and Intellectual Bankruptcy of Progressivism

By Arnold Ahlert

Last Thursday, President Obama did the nation a profound favor, albeit unintentionally. He revealed the utter fraud of a progressive ideology that is about nothing more than the accumulation of power – by any means necessary. It is an ideology where there are no values, save those that apply to a given moment, right here, right now. If and when the moment changes, progressives like the president are entirely comfortable with taking positions that are completely the opposite of those they previously embraced, even as they remain immune to their own hypocrisy.

Up through last Wednesday, the president and his minions in government and the media waged an unrelenting campaign against “bad apple” insurance companies and their “substandard” policies. Policies for which millions of “unwitting” Americans had developed a thoroughly misguided sense of satisfaction, undoubtedly buttressed by assurances from the president himself that, irrespective of the Democrats and their social utopian impulses, if they liked what they had, they could keep it – period.

Then that lie unraveled. And make no mistake: other than for those equally corrupted by the same ideology, it was indeed a bald-faced lie. It was not, as some have asserted, an utterance made by a somewhat misinformed president. The Wall Street Journal blew that nonsense out of the water when it exposed the bankrupt machinations of Obama's advisors. Two quotes from that article are invaluable with regard to understanding the progressive mindset. “Simplification and ease of explanation were a premium, and that was true throughout the process,” said Jon Favreau, who served as Mr. Obama's top speech writer. Translation: Americans are too stupid to understand anything told to them, unless it's reduced to the simplest of terms. “You try to talk about health care in broad, intelligible points that cut through, and you inevitably lose some accuracy when you do that,” said a former unnamed official.

Translation: it's OK to lie in order to advance the progressive agenda.

Which is precisely what the equally contemptible and corrupted New York Times did when they asserted that Obama “clearly misspoke,” rather than lied. Unfortunately for the Times and other true believers, Obama “clearly misspoke” on 30 separate occasions.  Nonetheless the Times' editorial continues. “By law, insurers cannot continue to sell policies that don't provide the minimum benefits and consumer protections required as of next year. So they've sent cancellation notices to hundreds of thousands of people who hold these substandard policies.”

Yet as of last Thursday, they can sell those “substandard” policies once again. The moment has changed, and that which was contemptible for at least three years prior to that moment has been re-defined as acceptable.

The “by law” part? Once again, when you embrace a bankrupt ideology, the law becomes as malleable as anything else – even as one professes allegiance to it, much as Democrats endlessly repeated that Americans must accept ObamaCare because it is the “law of the land.”

Really? Which part? Certainly not the employer mandate, which the president imperiously postponed, absent any input from the apparently superfluous legislative branch of government. Ditto for the 75 percent insurance premium subsidies for Congress and their staffs. And now, in a grandiose assertion that would make any dictator proud, the president has broken the law's backbone, namely the requirement that all insurance policies must comply with the ObamaCare mandates.

Hopefully, by the time you are reading this, many Americans will have figured out that the president's “fix” is as big a lie as his original assertion. Most Americans whose insurance has been cancelled won't be able to get their old policies back, for two very good reasons. One, they no longer exist. Two, with a big hat tip to National Review's Andrew McCarthy, insurance companies are not going to put themselves in the position of being held legally liable for issuing polices based on a presidential “waiver,” as opposed to legally enforceable law. McCarthy illuminates the details:

“The health-insurance companies … would be deluged with lawsuits by insureds who claimed that the policies were illegal and wrongly denied coverage for this or that treatment. The insurance companies themselves would get into the act, filing suits to be compensated for payouts they'd made based on the illegal policies. The Obama 'waiver' would avail them of nothing in a court, where a judge would be obliged to follow the law, not Dear Leader's enforcement preferences.”

It is useful to reveal that the aforementioned contempt for the average American's intelligence is once again in play here. Don't think for a nanosecond that the president isn't fully aware of the reality that the proverbial toothpaste cannot be shoved back into the tube. This particular lie is all about shifting the onus of blame back onto the same “bad apple” turned “good apple” soon-to-be “bad apple” again insurance companies, rather than where it truly belongs.

As in, they don't call it ObamaCare for no reason.

A remarkable quote from president's speech last week further underscores the bankruptcy of progressivism. After once again blaming everyone else for the debacle of the website's rollout, he said something that should stun every American. “What we're also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” Obama and Democrats concoct a 2000 page healthcare bill and another 11,000 pages of regulations that apply to it, and the president is just now discovering that buying insurance is complicated?

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

Unfortunately in this particular case, that hubris and ignorance only serves to advance the progressive agenda. While I refuse to believe dim-bulbs like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, or even Obama himself had the foresight to know how bad the ObamaCare rollout would be, there is little question they are more than willing to use the misery of millions of Americans to advance their ultimate healthcare agenda, as in moving to a single-payer, government-controlled system. And I am certainly willing to believe that an inveterate liar like the president is fully aware that his half-in, half-out hybrid insurance purchasing scheme will facilitate that transformation.

And then what? Let me reduce that reality to its simplest terms. Before ObamaCare, many Americans were doubtlessly dealing with “heartless” insurance companies. But here's the thing: if they got too heartless, one could sue them and/or switch to another company. When a government bureaucrat makes the same decision – much like Kathleen Sebelius already did when she was willing to allow a 10-year-old girl in need of lung transplant to die, rather than bend the rules to save her – Americans will have no recourse. As for litigation, good luck suing the federal government. Even if ObamaCare survives in its current incarnation, Americans will be beholden to a new level of heartlessness known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB will be comprised of a group of appointed “experts” tasked with deciding whether the “greater good” is served by giving Grandma a new hip – or a new cane.

Thus, the ultimate question arises. Have you had enough yet? Have you had your fill of a naked lust for total control being promoted as caring and compassion? Are you sick and tired of seeing the outright destruction of dignity and integrity that serving one's government masters demands? Are you aware of that fact that even if this disaster comes to full flower, the Congressional Budget Office projects that 32 million people will still be uninsured ten years from now, even as an additional $1.8 trillion will be spent by the federal government to achieve that result?

How come our progressive champions never mention that reality?

Because, in the end, what's going on isn't really about healthcare. It's about control. And if 32 million people are left out in the cold? So what. Remember when this whole thing blew up, Press Secretary Jay Carney noted that “only” 5 percent of the country would be losing their health insurance coverage. That number represents 14 million Americans whose lives have been turned upside down. But that was when insurance companies were still “bad apples” offering Americans “substandard” plans.

Now they're not bad apples, and those plans are OK. At least until they're not again.

That's vintage progressivism – in all it's moral, emotional and intellectual bankruptcy. With any luck it will be consigned to the ash heap of history, as Americans continue to get shafted, one dropped doctor from their new policy after another, one policy cancelation after another – and most importantly, one unsustainable lie after another unsustainable lie.



Crisis of Political Authority? I Wish!

By Robert Higgs

I have often received unsolicited copies of recently published books from the publishers, who hope to obtain reviews that will help them drum up sales. Today’s mail delivery brought me such an unrequested volume, a book titled The End of Authority: How a Loss of Legitimacy and Broken Trust Are Endangering Our Future, by Douglas E. Schoen.

Skimming quickly, I found that the book deals with what the author calls “a crisis of governance, a crisis of legitimacy, and, indeed, a crisis of authority.” “All around the world,” he declares, citizens “have lost confidence in those charged with the responsibility of governing them.” (Notice the language, “those charged with the responsibility,” rather than “those who, by hook and by crook, have impudently imposed themselves on their exploited subjects.”) In this dire situation, Schoen intends his book “to offer clear, unambiguous solutions” to this allegedly urgent problem (p. 245).

My first reaction was, “Crisis of Authority? I wish.” Although ruling elites may be distressed by the various expressions of discontent and even outrage being expressed by particular groups of (what they surely take to be) troublemakers, they are accustomed to a certain amount of discontent and rebellion. Suppressing such outbreaks and pounding, tricking, or soothing people back into line are all in a day’s work for the rulers. Given the ruling elites’ disproportionate possession of wealth, connections, and firepower, they usually succeed, and I expect that in most cases those who are feeling pressed today will, sooner or later, succeed in reining in their restive populations. The Arab Spring will turn to Arab Summer, Arab Fall, and Arab Winter. The Tea Partiers will lose interest and drift away—many have already been coopted or politically disarmed by the established major parties. The little bands of libertarians will squander their energies, feuding with their fellows and arguing about not-so-pressing issues in lifeboat ethics. The European rioters will be tear-gassed, sprayed with fire hoses, and beaten about the head and shoulders until they find better uses for their time and energy.

Douglas Schoen clearly writes as a friend of the international elite, for whom he has worked in the past as a pollster, consultant, and strategist. One has only to consider what he takes as a given, namely, that existing Establishment institutions deserve to occupy their powerful positions in social and economic life and ought to be reconfigured to exercise their powers more effectively—that is, in a way that gives rise to fewer troublesome reactions from the peasantry.

Well, one man’s treasure is another man’s trash. I have a different view of the situation. I perceive that the existing institutions—above all, the various nation states—have highly problematic legitimacy. To speak more bluntly, the state in particular has none at all, aside from the somnolent or distracted acquiescence of the mass of its subjects. If there really were a crisis of authority for the state per se, I could only say, thank God, it’s about time; bring it on! A few thousand years of people’s being bullied, plundered, humiliated, and even killed by their loving masters is more than enough, and the subjects can scarcely move fast enough to suit me in challenging this immoral domination.

Even before I opened the book, I had a strong premonition that I would find its message impossible to swallow. Four blurbs on the dust jacket express high praise for the author and the book. The blurbs are signed by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski, and publisher Steve Forbes. If such persons actually approved of what Schoen has to say, I knew with almost complete certainty that I would not approve. Call me an incurable skeptic, but I simply cannot imagine that anything good could come from the current masters of the world, the very people who have contributed so magnificently to the world’s present horrors.



Obamacare "Success Story" is Actually Unable to Afford Insurance

On October 21st, President Obama spoke about Jessica Sanford, a woman in Washington state who had previously been unable to buy insurance and was able to buy an affordable, decent plan using Washington's health insurance exchange (Washington Healthplanfinder).

Except she wasn't.

Shortly after being told she was eligible for a subsidy to purchase a "gold" plan for $198 a month, she was informed that there was an error on the website in calculating her tax credit amount, and that her plan actually cost $280 a month. That was also a mistake—it turns out Sanford, who is self-employed single mother, was not actually eligible for any subsidy and has to pay the full cost of the plan. Sanford, who makes around $50,000 a year, is unable to afford the plan and will instead pay the $95 penalty.

Sanford's son has attention deficit disorder and has medications that cost $250 per month, and Sanford has been uninsured for the past 15 years. While she had thought that the Affordable Care Act was going to help her and her son, it in fact made their situation worse.

I feel for this woman. She was lied to by multiple parties, and simply wanted to get insurance for herself and her son. It is not her fault that she was deceived, and now she's being fined for being unable to afford something. This is absolutely ridiculous and a total embarrassment for the Obama administration.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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