War on the middle class

Victor Davis Hanson suggests that the middle class is hardest hit on many political issues:

  • ObamaCare
  • student loans
  • immigration
  • gun control
  • energy policy
  • the Fed’s quantitative easing

Hanson writes (my emphasis):

On almost every left-right issue that divides Democrats and Republicans — as well as Republicans themselves — there is a neglected populist constituency.

The result is that populist politics are largely caricatured as Tea Party extremism — and a voice for the middle class is largely absent.

The problem with ObamaCare is that its well-connected and influential supporters — pet businesses, unions and congressional insiders — have already won exemption from it.

The rich will always have their concierge doctors and Cadillac health plans. The poor can usually find low-cost care through Medicaid, federal clinics and emergency rooms.

In contrast, those who have lost their preferred individual plans, or will pay higher premiums and deductibles, are largely members of the self-employed middle class. They are too poor to have their own exclusive health care coverage but too wealthy for most government subsidies. So far, ObamaCare is falling hardest on the middle class.

Consider the trillion-dollar student loan mess. Millions of young people do not qualify for grants predicated on either income levels, ancestry or both. Nor are their parents wealthy enough to pay their tuition or room-and-board costs. The result is that the middle class — parents and students alike — has accrued a staggering level of student loan debt.

Illegal immigration also largely comes at the expense of the middle class. The supporters of amnesty tend to be poor foreign nationals who desire amnesty. Corporate employers and the elites of the identity-politics industry do not care under what legal circumstances foreign nationals enter the United States.

Lost in the debate over “comprehensive immigration reform” are citizen entry-level job seekers of all different races who cannot leverage employers for higher wages when millions of foreign nationals, residing illegally in the U.S., will work for less money. …

Middle-class taxpayers are most responsible for providing parity in subsidized housing, legal costs, health care and education for those who entered the country illegally, especially once corporate employers have let their undocumented older or injured workers go.

There is a populist twist to proposed new federal gun-control legislation as well. The wealthy or politically influential, who often advocate stricter laws for others, usually take for granted their own expensive security details, many of them armed.

In contrast, new gun-control initiatives would mostly fall on the law-abiding who hunt and wish to defend their own families and homes with their own legal weapons.

Energy policy has become a boutique issue for the wealthy who push costly wind, solar and biofuels, subsidized mostly by the 53% of Americans who actually pay federal income taxes and are most pressed by the full costs of higher fuel, electricity and heating costs.

The Federal Reserve’s policy of quantitative easing and de facto zero interest rates have stampeded investors desperate for even modest returns from the stock market — to the delight of wealthy Wall Street grandees. The poor are eligible for both debt relief and cheap (and often subsidized) mortgage rates that remain near historic lows.

The real losers are frugal members of the middle class. For the last five years they have received almost no interest on their modest passbook savings accounts. In other words, we are punishing thrift and reminding modest savers that they might have been better off either borrowing or gambling on Wall Street.

 

LTE: Free people in a free society

Re “On insurance, easiest choice may not be best” (Monitor Forum, Dec. 12):

Lisa Kaplan Howe informs us that people “were allowed to keep” old insurance policies. But this turns on its head the relationship between a people and their government.

Free people in a free society aren’t allowed to keep things – it is their inherent right to keep what they think is best for themselves. The question should not be what the government allows people to do; it should be what the people allow their government to do.

Should a woman have the right to choose what insurance is right for her, or should government make that choice for her? Obamacare interferes with a woman’s right to choose her insurance; now many women have lost their choice of doctors.

Howe warns us that we “may be paying more than you need to.” Does she not know that the new Obamacare policies have much higher premiums and higher deductibles? She tells us that “assisters won’t keep any of your personal information.” Is she unaware that the assisters (navigators) have not had background checks and that some of them could be felons? Has she not heard of all the security flaws in the website that make it easy for hackers to obtain private information? Obamacare has proven to be a disaster. The solution is more freedom of choice. Let people decide what is best for themselves, not what the government will “allow” them to have.

(Published in Concord Monitor, Dec. 19. I like that the Monitor added emphasis as seen above.)

No, it’s not a parody

This Tweet is from the official Barack Obama Twitter account, now run by his OFA team.

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Twitchy has some of the reactions:

  • In all seriousness, the person tweeting for the @BarackObama handle must be a tea party plant.
  • So this is who Barack Obama views as his constituency. Oh boy.
  • Pat Sajak: If I were sitting with #PajamaBoy, health insurance would be way down on the list of thing we needed to talk about.

Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of spoofs are flying around the twitter universe. E.g.

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Obamacare alone didn’t sink Obama

Obama’s approval ratings are about the lowest of all recent presidents; 55% disapprove. Much is due to ObamaCare, but Jennifer Rubin identifies many other reasons:
  • Obama managed to get rid of only a sliver of the Bush tax cuts, to the dismay of liberals.
  • He falsely predicted a catastrophe if the sequester occurred.
  • He pleaded ignorance to scandals involving the Internal Revenue Service and spying on reporters.
  • His erratic behavior on Syria and dangerous appeasement of Iran rattled Congress, our allies and the American people (who now give him negative reviews on foreign policy).
  • The vast majority of Americans (79 percent in the Post/ABC poll) still think we are in a recession and a plurality (45 percent) trust Congress more than the president to fix it.

Obama has lost support among many of his key constituencies including Hispanics, women, self-described liberals, and young voters.

“It’s been a long, disappointing year for many of President Obama’s most ardent supporters,” a dispirited Liz Halloran writes for NPR. “From drones and Syria, to immigration and the Keystone XL pipeline, the list of issues on which the president has induced frustration and disillusionment is not a short one.”

Mass killers are leftists, not right wingers

The Arapahoe high schooler who tried to kill a teacher, and who did injure one student before killing himself was a self-described Keynesian, who mocked the free market, and hated Republicans. The mainstream media always hope that a killer will be an angry conservative, but it is always the opposite.

This time they knew that he was a socialist but they decided not to report that fact. Hey, if it fits the narrative, even if it is false, report it. If it does not fit the narrative, ignore it. It would be refreshing if they ever reported the simple facts and not their preconceived notions.

Tweeter Gabriel Malor chronicles a host of occasions where the media speculated that the killer was a conservative, Tea Partying, Right Wing Nut Job (RWNJ). Every time the media was wrong.

  • census-taker Bill Sparkman was found hanged. Media speculated it was Tea Party. (He killed himself.)
  • Joe Stack flew a small plane into an IRS building. Anti-tax TP rhetoric blamed. (He quoted from the Communist Manifesto.)
  • Amy Bishop shot colleagues at University of Alabama faculty meeting. Gun-loving Tea Party suspected. (She was an Obama voter.)
  • John Patrick Bedell shot two Pentagon security. A right-wing extremist, media asked? (A registered Democrat and 9/11 Truther.)
  • massive Times Square car bomb found. Bloomberg speculates it’s someone upset about ObamaCare. (Actually, plain vanilla jihadist scum.)
  • Muslim cabbie stabbed in NYC. Media speculates: a RWNJ? (Actually, a Lefty art student off his meds.)
  • James Lee took hostages at Discovery Channel HQ. Media speculates: climate change denier? (An environmentalist who hates humans.)
  • Jared Lee Loughner shot up campaign event of Rep. Giffords. Media: TP rhetoric is to blame. (An apolitical conspiracy theorist.)
  • James Holmes shot up theater in Aurora, CO. Brian Ross suggests he’s a TPer on live TV. (Just another unmedicated nutter.)
  • Tsarnaev brothers bombed Boston Marathon. Media suggests RWNJ commemorating “Patriot’s Day.” (Actually, just more jihadist scum.)
  • recently the media retroactively blamed right wing for JFK assassination. (Actually, Oswald was a communist defector.)
  • several more at the link.

Will the MSM ever acknowledge that it is leftists, not conservatives who do the killings?

Even the uninsured don’t like ObamaCare

The uninsured, the supposed beneficiaries of ObamaCare, think that it’s a bad system that’s worse than the old bad system. A recent poll found that:

  • Only 24% of uninsured adults thought the law was a good idea; half thought it was a bad idea.
  • 56% of the uninsured believe the law will have a negative effect on the health care system.
  • 42% said ObamaCare will have a negative effect on themselves and their families.

Peter Suderman of Reason magazine wrote “Let that sink in: What that means is that regardless of how bad the old system—the system that for whatever reason left them uninsured—was, a majority of people without health coverage now think that Obamacare makes it worse.”

Another poll found that 56% of Americans aged 18 to 29 disapprove of ObamaCare, compared to just 39% who support the law. Just 29% of the young uninsured said they were likely to enroll.

The financial viability of ObamaCare depends on young, healthy people to enroll so that their premiums will subsidize the older, sicker enrollees. When most of them decide to do without insurance rather than pay the high premiums (and suffer the high deductibles), that bodes ill for the taxpayers.

Remember Julia?

Here’s the updated story now that Julia has turned 26 and has her own business:

  • She received a cancellation letter. She liked her old insurance but couldn’t keep it due to ObamaCare regulations.
  • Because HealthCare.gov has so many glitches, she phones a navigator, who tells her to lie about her income so she can qualify for a subsidy.
  • She refuses to lie, but now her premiums have doubled and her deductible has skyrocketed.
  • Even worse, she can’t keep her old doctor – and can’t find a new doctor.

An Argument for the Oxford Comma

Okay, I am a nerd. And yes, I do prefer the Oxford comma. And this is a good example of why:

… highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.

From the comments:

If I ruled the world, the Oxford comma would be required by law. But then my world wouldn’t be nearly as funny as this one, in which Mandela is a very old dildo-collecting demigod.

Also in the comments is another good example favoring the Oxford comma:

I’d like to thank my parents, George W. Bush and Oprah Winfrey.

Consider yourself normal if you have no idea what an Oxford comma is.

Americans prefer the pre-ObamaCare health care system

Some interesting results from a Reason-Rupe poll:

  • 55 percent of Americans say they prefer the old pre-ObamaCare health care system, while 34 percent prefer the new health care system.
  • 70 percent of Americans oppose making young people pay more for health care to help fund health care for older or less healthy Americans.
  • 57 percent believe lower cost health care plans that provide fewer benefits than required by the Affordable Care Act should be allowed.
  • 54 percent of those surveyed feel government is generally a “burdensome part of society that impedes the ability of people to improve their lives,” while 41 percent feel “government is primarily a source of good and helps people improve their lives.”

Many more poll questions and responses here.

Education – we can do better

“In 100 years, we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching Remedial English in college.” — Joseph Sobran

A former Marine Corps Drill Sergeant took a job as a teacher. Just before the school year started he injured his back and had to wear an upper body cast under his shirt. Assigned to the toughest students in the school, the sergeant walked into the classroom, opened the window and sat down at his desk. When a strong breeze made his tie flap, he picked up a stapler and stapled the tie to his chest.

There was dead silence. He had no trouble with discipline that year.

Which leads us, albeit indirectly, to our schools. A website from the NH Department of Education, my.doe.nh.gov/profiles, has a wealth of data about individual schools, a school district, or the entire state.

I have been looking at the statewide data but similar data is available for individual schools or school districts such as my town of Sunapee, or Claremont, or the Kearsarge Regional School District. What really caught my eye is the student assessments. The 11th grade numbers are particularly disappointing – only 37% are proficient in math; only 40% are proficient in writing. To put it bluntly, three-fifths of our kids are illiterate.

We can and should do better. There are schools in NH and in other states that score higher. We could learn from those schools. Heck, we probably could do better just by listening to our own school’s teachers. I can’t help thinking that some of our problems are due to bad dictates from our state’s Department of Education.

I have talked with some parents and teachers. One comment I heard more than once is that we set the bar too low. One NH school sets the bar so low that two-thirds of the kids are on the honor roll. Some public school teachers send their own kids to private school to be challenged by higher standards. When faced with difficult challenges most kids can accomplish amazing things.

Marva Collins demonstrated that fact when she started a school in inner-city Chicago. Marva took in learning-disabled, problem children and even one child who had been labeled by Chicago public school authorities as borderline retarded. At the end of the first year, every child scored at least FIVE grades higher. The “borderline retarded” girl went on to graduate from college Summa Cum Laude. Mrs. Collins’ curriculum is based on classical literature, including Aesop’s Fables and works by William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, and even Plato – in 3rd and 4th grades.

Equally amazing is an Alabama family with 10 kids, all entering college by age 12. The first became the youngest graduate ever of Auburn University. Another is on her way to become one of the youngest physicians in American history. A sister became a licensed architect by age 18. One of the boys will complete his masters in Computer Science just after his 17th birthday. The parents aren’t brilliant people. All they did was find out what their kids really enjoyed, and then encourage them to follow their passions. They never pushed their kids to get straight “A”s but just to “have a fun day.” These parents “are convinced that all children have the capacity to learn at the rate theirs have.”

Those two parents and Marva Collins were confident that kids could learn quickly and well when given challenging materials. Internationally, most other countries demand more from their kids and those kids achieve more. High expectations lead to high results. I would very much like to hear from more teachers and parents. Is it just a few, or many, or most of them who think that we should set higher standards?

Which brings us to Common Core Standards. It is touted as setting higher standards but some experts say it actually sets lower standards. The people who developed Common Core had little to no previous experience writing standards. The two most experienced members, Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, refused to sign off on the new standards and are now actively opposing them.

How is Common Core working out in the real world? The simple fact is that it was never tested in the real world. That is why one Manchester, NH parent complained “Why are you experimenting with my kids? Please don’t tell me this isn’t experimental when my middle school daughter comes home crying because she failed a math quiz because she got the correct answers using the outdated method she was taught last year. This parent respectfully and passionately asks this board to stop experimenting on his kids.”

A mother wrote, “My ten year old daughter asked me what it would take for me to let her stay home from school forever. Forever. Not tomorrow, not this week. Forever. … these Common Core standards … are hurting children, causing them to give up on themselves at ten years old.”

And from a teacher: “Children are drowning in school anxiety, families find their evenings descending into a sea of tears, and the usual joy of school and all it should entail has been vanished … because the “great minds” behind Common Core can’t craft clear homework directions, select age-appropriate curriculum or resist the urge to burden kids with high-stakes testing at every turn.”

Amazing medical device for healing burns

This “skin cell gun” is an amazing device for healing 2nd degree burns. It is so incredible that I wondered if it was a hoax – but it is not. It is a very real, life-saving device.

The skin cell gun is like a paint sprayer but instead of paint it sprays skin cells. Doctors collect adult stem cells from the patient’s undamaged skin, place them in a sterile syringe then spray onto the burnt skin. Temporary dressings provide nutrition for the stem cells to grow and create new skin. Compared to the weeks or months of conventional treatment, the skin gun works in days and weeks.

The FDA still has not approved the device after more than 5 years of development, so it has been used for only a limited number of experimental procedures. Which raises the question of freedom of choice. If you are badly burnt should the decision of how to treat the burn be between you and your doctor or should the government make that choice for you? I suggest that the FDA’s approval be advisory, not prohibitory. If your doctor and you decide that the treatment is best for you, then the government should not have any right to stop you from employing a treatment that could save your life.

Oh, one other thing. ObamaCare created a new tax on medical devices such as the skin gun. People, especially those who have benefited from life-saving medical devices, worry that the new tax will discourage development of future devices.

Is this where food stamps should go?

A woman called to check her food stamp balance. It was about $400 because she didn’t know she was still getting benefits. She tweeted that she “might let them build up and sell them.” After all, she has a cable bill of $140 to pay.

She has an iPhone (how much does that cost per month?), WiFi, and “needs to smoke me a joint” so she is going to call her “weed man.”

Her air conditioner is cranked up high “It’s soooo cold in my house. Everybody keep telling me to turn the AC off.”

She has money to spend at Hooters, IHOP, and TGIF Fridays. “I needed to take myself out. I had a rough week.” She is going to buy a new iPad for her mother.

All this we know via her Tweets. What more don’t we know about this food stamp recipient?

German scientists predict global cooling this century

Two German scientists contend that an approximate 200-year solar cycle, along with the well-established 65-year cycle of the Atlantic/Pacific oscillation (AMO/PDO) agree well with actual global temperatures of recent centuries.

EIKE_2

Both cycles are on a down slope. The solar cycle recently passed its maximum and will decrease for the next century. The AMO/PDO cycle will cool for about the next 20 years. The scientists conclude that “the global temperature will drop until 2100 to a value corresponding to the “little ice age” of 1870.”

The 80th anniversary of the end of prohibition

Today (Dec. 5, 2013) is the 80th anniversary of the end of Alcohol Prohibition. It started with good intentions, but the results were a disaster.

  • alcohol consumption went up
  • the industry went underground
  • violent crime spiked
  • the prison population grew
  • people died from homemade dangerous product

Prohibition, whether for alcohol or for drugs, makes a bad problem much worse.

Democrats Are the Out-of-Touch Extremists

The public overwhelmingly believes the country is headed in the wrong direction, that current economic policies aren’t working, that President Obama is doing a bad job, that government should be smaller and that ObamaCare should be repealed. But not Democrats.

Those are findings from a new poll by Investor’s Business Daily. On issue after issue, large majorities of the public tilt one way, but the Democrats tilt the other way.

Is the country headed in the right direction? 64% say no. Among Independents, 71% say we are headed in the wrong direction along with 92% of Republicans. But 66% of Democrats think we are headed in the right direction.

On all of the poll’s questions, Independents aligned with Republicans and against Democrats.

Police Seize Money from Innocent Mother

As much as 90 percent of U.S. currency contains trace amounts of cocaine. Police took advantage of that fact to steal $7500 from a poor mother. She had withdrawn the cash from ATM machines and had the receipts to prove it, yet police labeled it drug money and used the corrupt civil asset forfeiture laws to take the money without any arrest, much less any trial.