Monthly Archives: February 2010

“Price Controls by Any Other Name…”

Our president, and all he has wrought.

Price Controls by Any Other Name

by Michael D. Tanner

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and coauthor of Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It.

Added to on February 23, 2010

In 301 AD, the Roman emperor Diocletian imposed price controls on most commodities and professions in the empire. The penalty for raising prices was death. Yet the controls failed utterly, leading to shortages, more inflation and the near collapse of the imperial economy.

Now, nearly two millennia later, President Obama seems determined to demonstrate how little we’ve learned.

Yesterday, the president proposed giving the federal government the power to regulate insurance premiums. Undoubtedly, this will be politically popular — at least, in the short term. Insurance companies aren’t exactly America’s most loveable industry. Recent premium hikes will result in real hardship for many Americans.

There is, of course, a certain arrogance in the assumption that Obama, Nancy Pelosi and a bevy of government bureaucrats know exactly what something should cost. No doubt, as soon as they finish setting insurance prices, they’ll move on to negotiating Tracy McGrady’s contract renewal.

[A]ttempts to control prices by government fiat ignore basic economic laws — and the result could be disastrous for the American health-care system.

But more important, attempts to control prices by government fiat ignore basic economic laws — and the result could be disastrous for the American health-care system.

Most people think of prices and costs as the same thing, but from an economic perspective, they aren’t. Prices are what people pay to receive a good or service. Costs are what it takes to produce the goods and services. In this case, limiting the prices that insurers can charge does nothing about the underlying costs of health care.

Insurers unable to charge more for an increasingly expensive product can be expected to trim costs in one of two ways:

  • They can drop their most expensive customers — in this case, the sickest, who consume the most health care. Many companies are already doing this, a major source of dissatisfaction with the health-care system. In fact, the president wants to prohibit companies from doing this.
  • They can cut back on their reimbursement rates to hospitals and physicians. But neither doctors nor hospitals, any more than insurance companies, are willing to operate at a loss. If payments fall below their costs, they’ll simply stop taking patients. One only has to look at government programs like Medicare and Medicaid to see how this works.

Medicare already reimburses at roughly 80 cents on every dollar of actual costs. Medicaid pays even less. As a result, more than a third of physicians have closed their practices to Medicaid patients; 12 percent no longer accept Medicare patients.

If private insurers begin similarly to cut back their reimbursements, some hospitals may go out of business, and some doctors may close their practices. Retirement in Florida may begin to look a lot better than another snowy New York winter. Others will stop accepting insurance or set up “concierge” practices in which they see only a small number of privately paying patients.

Thus, price controls on insurers will ultimately lead to rationing — the lack of available health-care goods and services.

If the president doesn’t want to learn from history, he can look to the experience of other countries. Canada and Britain impose global budgets and strict limits on health-care prices. As a result, more than 750,000 Britons are waiting for admission to hospitals. Every year, British physicians cancel almost 50,000 surgeries because patients on the waiting list become too sick for the operations to proceed.

In Canada, almost 800,000 people are on the waiting list for care. And, according to the Canadian Supreme Court, many are in chronic pain and some will die while waiting for treatment.

If Obama were really interested in making insurance more affordable, rather than just scoring political points, there are many things he could do. For example, he might try to create some genuine competition in the insurance market by allowing people to buy insurance from outside of the state in which they reside. Insurance companies in New York or New Jersey could be made to compete with all 1,300 insurance companies nationwide (including some 500 nonprofit insurers). That’s the kind of competition that holds down prices for other goods and services.

Or Obama could try to tackle underlying health-care costs, by repealing government regulations that add as much as much as $169 billion a year to the cost of care, according to Christopher Conover of Duke University.

Instead, the president has chosen the economic equivalent of throwing some insurance executives to the lions in the Colosseum. As health-care reform, it would be about as effective. Diocletian would be proud.

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and coauthor of Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It.


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“The biggest story in the world!” or “American News Media is a Joke,” V 982,379,923.239842

Climategate: The World’s Biggest Story, Everywhere but Here

The biggest scandal of our times is a non-story to U.S media. Why are the London papers covering the Climategate collapse, but not ours?

I’ve had a post on “Climategate” and my stance on “global warming” building in my draft folder for weeks, but I just cannot keep up with the awesomely ever-changing story  to make a finished post.  I should just give up and post the list of headlines instead.  I think the above blog post will do in the meantime.  You’d better be paying attention to this and doing your homework.

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Can you smell what Barack is cookin??

From Gateway:
Sunday, February 7, 2010, 1:14 PM
Jim Hoft

The US Lost Another 20,000 Jobs in January But the Unemployment Rate Dropped to 9.7%.

BB sent the latest unemployment graph this week.

It’s an Obama world. Up is down. Square is round. Trucks are jokes. And, losing 20,000 jobs actually brings down the unemployment rate. The US lost another 20,000 jobs in January but the unemployment rate dropped to 9.7%. The new counting methods saved or created 541,000 jobs. Today Alan Greenspan confirmed that Team Obama has been cooking the books.
Judith Apter Klinghoffer at History News Network reported:

We all blinked furiously when we read the government’s claim that the number of unemployed rose in January by 20,000 but the unemployment rate fell from 10% to 9.7%. Somebody has obviously been cooking the numbers in a most ingenious manner. On Meet the press, Alan Greenspan explains the absurdity thus:

MR. GREGORY: Dr. Greenspan, one more question about jobs. So you think that unemployment rate goes up again before it comes down?

MR. GREENSPAN: I’m not sure. One of the reasons is the official data on unemployment is a sample and it fluctuates, and–as we observed in, in the January report. If you literally took it seriously as to the exact numbers, there were 784,000 job increase in January. Now, that didn’t happen. And so that what we can expect is a backing and filling. I think we’re going to stay at approximately the 9 to 10 percent level here for a goodly part of the rest of this year with the sole exception of that period when they start to hire a very large number of census workers. Remember, this is the decennial census.


MR. GREENSPAN: And that’s going to have some positive effect. But it’s very difficult to make the case that unemployment is coming down anytime soon.


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Official: Obama doesn’t give a crap what the majority of Americans want

Typical liberal- he’s knows what’s best for you better than you do.

Obama Tells Democrats They Must “Finish the Job” & Ram Health Care Through Congress


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Nuts. Obama Lashes Out at GOP Super-Minority for “Obstructionism?”

What a douche.  Seriously, this guy needs to man up.  I wouldn’t tolerate this kind of whiney blame game from my kids, so it is expecially irritating coming from one who is supposed to be a leader.

From Gateway Pundit:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010, 6:12 AM
Jim Hoft

The return of the fisted hand lecture… Republicans in Congress don’t have enough members to vote for a bathroom break but that didn’t stop Barack Obama from lashing out at their “obstructionism” today in his speech on Capital Hill. Obama insisted that democrats have incorporated numerous Republican ideas in their radical unpopular legislation. He said he was tired of extending a hand and getting a fist in return.
CNN reported:

President Obama tore into the Republican opposition on Capitol Hill Wednesday, blaming the GOP for what he called politically motivated opposition on virtually every issue.

Democrats have been willing to incorporate Republican ideas on health care and other issues, he said, but Republicans have not been willing to do the same.

Addressing a gathering of Senate Democrats, Obama promised to “call (Republicans) out when (Democrats) extend a hand and get a fist in return.”

Senate Republicans, he said, have tried to employ the filibuster more over the past year than in all of the 1950s and 1960s combined. The GOP’s strategy has been “20 years of obstruction packed into one,” he said.

“If you want to govern, you can’t just say no,” he argued. “It can’t be about just scoring points.”

In the real world, Democrats have locked out Republicans repeatedly for over a year and dumped late night thousand page documents on the GOP’s doorstep for a scheduled vote in the morning. The White House hasn’t even contacted the Minority Leader in months. Now that their radical agenda has proven to be so unpopular with a majority of Americans they finally have a need for the minority party- as scapegoats.
Good luck with that, Barack.

More… You may have noticed that Obama used that “extended hand” analogy again today. He uses it when he talks about the killer Iranian regime too. The only difference is that he sounds angrier when he’s talks about the Republicans.


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Tebow ad exposes the intolerance of the “tolerant” Left

from Hotair: posted at 11:00 am on February 2, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Sally Jenkins, a pro-choice columnist for the Washington Post, writes a devastating essay today on the reaction from her side of the abortion issue to the Super Bowl ad featuring Tim Tebow that celebrates choosing life.  Jenkins says she couldn’t disagree more with Tebow on the issue of abortion, but cannot believe the kind of knee-jerk overreaction coming from NOW, which Jenkins presumes refers to “National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us.”  Jenkins says the overwrought reaction exposes the intolerance of the supposedly tolerant Left and shows that so-called “pro-choice” groups are really more pro-abortion:

I’m pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I’ve heard in the past week, I’ll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the “National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time.” For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.

Tebow’s 30-second ad hasn’t even run yet, but it already has provoked “The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us” to reveal something important about themselves: They aren’t actually “pro-choice” so much as they are pro-abortion. Pam Tebow has a genuine pro-choice story to tell. She got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her beauteous Heisman Trophy winner son, a chaste, proselytizing evangelical.

Pam Tebow and her son feel good enough about that choice to want to tell people about it. Only, NOW says they shouldn’t be allowed to. Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikini selling beer is the right one. I would like to meet the genius at NOW who made that decision. On second thought, no, I wouldn’t.

As for those who say the Super Bowl is no forum for personal perspectives on life, Jenkins offers a particularly compelling counterargument:

His critics find this intrusive, and say the Super Bowl is no place for an argument of this nature. “Pull the ad,” NOW President Terry O’Neill said. “Let’s focus on the game.”

Trouble is, you can’t focus on the game without focusing on the individuals who play it — and that is the genius of Tebow’s ad. The Super Bowl is not some reality-free escape zone. Tebow himself is an inescapable fact: Abortion doesn’t just involve serious issues of life, but of potential lives, Heisman trophy winners, scientists, doctors, artists, inventors, Little Leaguers — who would never come to be if their birth mothers had not wrestled with the stakes and chosen to carry those lives to term. And their stories are every bit as real and valid as the stories preferred by NOW.

Shouldn’t tolerance include hearing opposing viewpoints, or at least allowing them to be aired in public forums?  After all, tolerance means putting up with something, not agreeing with it.  If the only ideas we allowed to air publicly were those that had almost-total consensus, that’s not tolerance but political correctness — a rhetorical straitjacket that goes against the very idea of free speech.

When groups like NOW want to silence people like the Tebows, they’re doing so to protect their own turf.  The ad asks people to choose life, not to ban abortion.  If NOW really was pro-choice, they’d see nothing invalid about showing the end result of one choice and the faith that carried the Tebows from that terrifying diagnosis to the pinnacle of athletic and scholarly success.  Tebow represents hope in the midst of hopelessness.  NOW doesn’t want people to have hope; they want women to buy abortions, and this ugly response has made that crystal clear.


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You should have gotten your kids KY for Christmas

They’re going to need it: Future-Generation Crushing Budget Obama Just Unveiled

But let’s not forget, this is all Bush’s fault, the math is skewed, blah, blah, blah.  I know, I know, Barry is just a feather in the wind, here. Right? Whatevs, there ain’t no way to hide your lying eyes…

You thought Bush was bad?
The stimulus has obviously taken its toll.
Spending Restraint? What Restraint?
Everything Is Going Up, Up, Up

Obama Is No Deficit Hawk
National debt exploded once Democrats took over Congress.
Same too with debt held by the public.
Now look at debt as a share of the GDP.
Public Share Of Debt Is Booming.

Now check out why Goldman thinks this is no V-Shaped recovery.

Now check out why Goldman thinks this is no V-Shaped recovery.

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