How Obamacare Defines ‘Responsibility’

A friend of ours owns his own business and has chosen to forgo health insurance for himself. If he gets sick, he intends to pay his own way. Not having health insurance, however, means that our friend must pay an Obamacare fine, or what Chief Justice Roberts calls a tax.

Our friend reports that the IRS refers to the fine as a ‘shared responsibility payment.’ The implication here is that the uninsured party would consume health care resources without paying for them, making himself a parasite on society. Hence the need for a payment to insure some degree of personal responsibility.

Our friend, however, has the means to pay his own way, and he’s not the type of person who would free ride off the labor of others. And yet the law presumes him to be a free-rider and forces him to make the Obamacare payment. Maybe in the event that he incurs a medical liability, he should withhold payment for billed services up to the amount of the ‘shared responsibility’ payment he has already made. Otherwise, wouldn’t he be paying twice?

It surely says something about the inverted morality of the welfare state that it treats our hardworking and thrifty friend as a social deviant to be fined, while respecting those who don’t work and use Medicaid to impose their medical costs on taxpayers.

Of course, it does happen that uninsured people sometimes free ride by failing to pay their medical bills. In fact, preventing that sort of free-riding was one of the major arguments advanced in favor of Obamacare. Free-riding, however, amounts to not much more than two percent of overall health care costs. This two percent loss rate is comparable to the loss rate the retail industry absorbs due to employee theft. For the sake of that relatively minor cost, Obamacare turned the health insurance industry upside down. As with most government entitlement programs, Obamacare was a solution in search of a problem.

Meanwhile, Obamacare insurers are now trying to use the courts to obtain a taxpayer bailout.

In the clown world of big government and leftist ideology, ‘responsibility’ means that citizens who pay their own way are taxed and fined to support individuals and corporations that don’t.

Book Recommendations

A student interested in summer reading recently asked us for book recommendations. We didn’t want to overwhelm him, so we sent a fairly brief list. Here’s the list, with a couple of additions.

Economics:

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

The Armchair Economist by Steven Landsburg

Finance:

A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel

Sociology:

Is there Anything Good about Men? by Roy Baumeister

Fiction:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

History:

Modern Times by Paul Johnson

The Harvest of Sorrow by Robert Conquest

Art:

Art for Dummies by Thomas Hoving

Communism in the Classroom

My 13-year-old nephew, who attends a government school in Rhode Island, reports that his teacher told the class that “communism could have worked,” if only it had been done correctly, with the right people in charge.

We don’t suppose this teacher has ever read the chapter from F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom entitled “Why the Worst Get on Top.”

The good news, however, is that our nephew also reports that none of the bright students in the class believes the teacher’s claim.

Let’s face it; today’s schools are not hiring and retaining the best and the brightest.

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Surprise! Cholesterol is Good

A panel of experts recently reviewed the relevant medical literature and found that high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol were associated with longer life and lower rates of heart disease.

Cholesterol does not cause heart disease in the elderly and trying to reduce it with drugs like statins is a waste of time, an international group of experts has claimed.

A review of research involving nearly 70,000 people found there was no link between what has traditionally been considered “bad” cholesterol and the premature deaths of over 60-year-olds from cardiovascular disease.

Published in the BMJ Open journal, the new study found that 92 percent of people with a high cholesterol level lived longer.

[…]

“What we found in our detailed systematic review was that older people with high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels, the so-called “bad” cholesterol, lived longer and had less heart disease.”

Vascular and endovascular surgery expert Professor Sherif Sultan from the University of Ireland, who also worked on the study, said cholesterol is one of the “most vital” molecules in the body and prevents infection, cancer, muscle pain and other conditions in elderly people.

“Lowering cholesterol with medications for primary cardiovascular prevention in those aged over 60 is a total waste of time and resources, whereas altering your lifestyle is the single most important way to achieve a good quality of life,” he said.

Lead author Dr Uffe Ravnskov, a former associate professor of renal medicine at Lund University in Sweden, said there was “no reason” to lower high-LDL-cholesterol.

Despite this evidence, we don’t expect the medical profession to change its position on cholesterol anytime soon. After all, statins are the most profitable class of drugs in history. Maybe the narrative will change once the patents start to expire.

Here at Yet, Freedom!, we strongly support free markets and the profit motive. We acknowledge, however, that the profit motive can plausibly give drug companies the incentive to sell people more medications than they really need. As with all market transactions, the caveat emptor advisory remains fully applicable.

Modern Liberalism Progresses from Tragedy to Farce

Modern liberalism has an economic component–the welfare state–as well as a ‘social justice’ component. Each component serves the interests of elite liberals in various ways. The welfare state serves primarily to increase the public’s dependency on government, thus creating a reliable vote farm that secures and enhances the power of professional liberals. As for social justice, liberals pursue it in order to feel better about themselves by engaging in virtue signaling.

Both domains of liberalism face a constant need to expand. Liberal politicians need to constantly find new ways to extend the welfare state in order to buy votes. Likewise, as the public’s views evolve to ever greater levels of support for minority rights, liberal virtue-signalers constantly need to invent novel ‘rights’ to champion in order to distinguish themselves from the benighted masses. So as gay marriage becomes yesterday’s news, it’s now time to launch the struggle for trannys in the restroom.

Since liberals must constantly expand both civil ‘rights’ and welfare, it’s always relevant to ask: what’s next? As far as welfare is concerned, a relative of ours recently told us that she couldn’t imagine what goods or services might still remain for liberals to offer that they weren’t already giving away. We replied, “Free college tuition.” Then the very next day, we happened to run across this story:

At $7 to $10 a package, plus sales tax (in 40 states), a month’s supply of something as simple as a box of pads or tampons can be one expense too many for struggling families. And unlike toilet paper—which is ubiquitous in public restrooms, required by federal and municipal regulations and viewed as essential to everyday health and sanitation—girls living in poverty are typically left to access tampons and pads on their own.

Infrequent changing of tampons or pads is unhealthy, unsanitary and unsafe. Not using one at all is unthinkable. Reusable products like menstrual cups are a tough sell when school bathrooms lack privacy for proper washing and care. Without basic hygiene supplies, what is a student to do?

Let’s start with giving tampons and pads away for free in schools. It not only makes it easier for girls to manage their periods and focus their attention on classwork, but it signals to young women that their needs matter and that their period is an important part of being healthy—all things that contribute to a better learning experience.

When the cutting edge of the welfare state is free tampons, and the frontier of Civil Rights extends to removing the sex-exclusivity of restrooms that has existed since time immemorial, we can safely conclude that modern liberalism has reached the point of diminishing returns. Modern liberalism once championed noble causes: eliminating poverty, illiteracy, urban blight, racial segregation. With tampons and tranny bathrooms, however, the causes have become farcical.

We don’t doubt that feminine hygiene products are important. But at $7 per month (plus tax!) we wonder: is there no responsibility too small for liberals to leave to the citizenry? One suspects that liberals would willingly relieve their dependent political clients of the very last of life’s responsibilities, thus reducing them to the equivalent of kept zoo animals. Provided, of course, that those zoo animals continued reliably to vote Democrat.

Orlando Exposes Political Cynicism

The recent mass shooting in Orlando should be a huge embarrassment for America’s political establishment. The shooting, after all, represents a failure of government in its primary responsibility: safeguarding the American people from violence. To evade responsibility for this abject failure, the political class desperately wants to change the subject by providing a distraction. And so, in order to defect attention and to reframe the issue, they have shifted attention to the issue of gun control. In this endeavor, the political class has been assisted, as usual, by its lapdogs in the national media. The effort , unfortunately, has been successful. Nearly all discussion in Congress and in the media is now focused on gun control, rather than on the failed policies and practices—immigration, political correctness, and an inadequate FBI investigation—that enabled the terrorist attack.

The political class is actually quite fortunate that the terrorist used a gun. Otherwise, if the terrorist had used, say, pressure cooker bombs like the terrorists who blew up the Boston Marathon, the pols would have found it much harder to reframe the issue. In that case, they probably wouldn’t have been able to talk with straight faces about the need for more ‘pressure cooker control.’

Making guns the issue is an exceedingly cynical ploy. Even the intellectual mediocrities populating our political class are smart enough to know that guns will never be eradicated from American society, any more than prohibition eliminated alcohol or drugs. Any attempt to go door-to-door to confiscate 300 million firearms would lead to civil war. As a result, criminals and terrorists who want guns will always find a way to obtain them. Very strict gun control in France did not stop terrorists from shooting up Paris.

The above observations are so patently obvious as to be almost banal in their expression. The more interesting question is what recent events tell us about the nature and character of our current political class. Instead of responding to the attack with candor and sagacity, the political class resorted to cynicism and disingenuousness. Instead of accepting responsibility, the pols, including President Obama, engaged in deflection and ass covering. The political class, as usual, showed itself more interested in evading accountability, and in preserving and enhancing its own power and privileges, than in serving the legitimate interests of the American people.

The political class fails to keep terrorists from entering the country. Then government agencies are too incompetent to catch up with and unravel terrorist plots, even when tipped off. The political class puts the American people in danger, and then tells the people they shouldn’t have guns with which to protect themselves. The political class fails, but suffers no consequences; instead, it’s the people who must give up some of their rights. GTFO.

The current political class is, in a word, despicable. Of course, to a considerable degree, the public gets the political class it deserves. A better class of voter, such as perhaps existed in America’s historical past, would never allow the pols to get away with such transparent cynicism and malfeasance. Our despicable political class reflects, sad to say, the degraded state of the typical American voter.

Happy Father’s Day!

To celebrate, here’s our annual Father’s Day pic of a coal miner and his daughters. Those girls were living in poverty-stricken 1970s Appalachia, but unlike one-third of American kids today, they at least they had their biological dad, or what was left of him, living at home. #MalePrivilege

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