The Liberal Arts

Thomas Sowell:

An op-ed piece titled “Conservatives, Please Stop Trashing the Liberal Arts” appeared last week in the Wall Street Journal. But it is not conservatives who trashed the liberal arts.

Liberal professors have trashed the liberal arts, by converting so many liberal arts courses into indoctrination centers for left-wing causes and fads, instead of courses where students learn how to weigh conflicting views of the world for themselves. Now a professor of English, one of the most fad-ridden of the liberal arts today, blames conservative critics for the low esteem in which liberal arts are held.

Surely a professor of English cannot be unaware of how English departments, especially, have become hotbeds of self-indulgent, trendy fads such as trashing classic writings — using Shakespeare’s works as just another ideological playground for romping through with the current mantra of “race, class and gender.”

Surely he cannot be unaware of the many farces of the Modern Language Association that have made headlines. And when our English professor uses a phrase like “critical thinking,” he must be at least dimly aware of how often those words have been perverted to mean uncritical negativism toward traditional values and uncritical acceptance of glittering catchwords of the left, such as “diversity.”

Diversity of political ideas is not to be found on most college campuses, where the range of ideas is usually from the moderate left to the extreme left, and conservatives are rare as hen’s teeth among the faculty — especially in English departments. Academics who go ballistic about an “under-representation” of ethnic minorities in various other institutions are blissfully blind to the under-representation of conservatives among the professors they hire. On many campuses, students can go through all four years of college without ever hearing a conservative vision of the world, even from a visiting speaker.

The problem is not political, but educational. As John Stuart Mill pointed out, back in the 19th century, students must hear opposing views from people who actually believe them, not as presented by people who oppose them. In the 18th century, Edmund Burke warned against those who “teach the humours of the professor, rather than the principles of the science.”

During my years on the lecture circuit, I liked to go into college bookstores across the country and see how many of their courses assigned “The Federalist” among the books students were to buy, as compared to how many assigned “The Communist Manifesto” or other iconic writings on the left.

“The Federalist” is a classic, written by three of the men who were among those who wrote the Constitution of the United States. It is a book of profound thoughts, written in plain English, at a level aimed at the ordinary citizen.

It might even be called “The Constitution for Dummies.” There are Supreme Court Justices who could benefit from reading it.

My survey of college bookstores across the country showed “The Communist Manifesto” virtually everywhere, often required reading in multiple courses — and “The Federalist” used virtually nowhere. Most college students will get only the left’s uncritical negativism toward the American form of government, under the rubric of “critical thinking.”

The liberal arts in theory could indeed make valuable contributions to the education of the young, as our English professor claims. But the liberal arts in practice have in fact done the opposite, not just in the United States but in other countries as well.

The history of the 20th century shows soft-subject students and their professors among the biggest supporters of extremist movements, both fascist and communist — the former in central and eastern Europe before World War II and the latter in countries around the world, both before and after that war.

Those who want liberal arts to be what they were supposed to be will have to profoundly change them from what they have become. Doing that will undoubtedly provoke more denunciations of critics for “trashing” the liberal arts by criticizing those who have in fact already trashed the liberal arts in practice.

Case in point: Apparently there is a poll out there that says that the American people are in favor of giving Nuclear Weapons to Iran so they can nuke us with them in the future. Now, how could that be?

Oh, right, the Liberal News Intelligensia (The Liberal Art of TV News) said so and then you click over to “Dancing with The Stars”…That’s how. 🙂

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell
Political Cartoons by Chip Bok
Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel
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Witch Hunt

The sanctimoniously outraged Liberals are on the march AGAIN. Out to hang people in the name of “tolerance”! (the irony of that is lost on them in the fog of their own hatred and mindless zealotry). How dare you oppose us! bAnd the truth doesn’t matter because they are red-eyed bull (ies) who just want to steamroll over all the “haters” (aka people who have a different opinion than the almighty righteous leftist mafia!). After all, you have no choice but to agree with them or else, that’s the American (Left) Way. 🙂

Earlier this week, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law a religious freedom bill that some think is discriminatory, and could lead to businesses being allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers.  The governor soon found himself under siege by nearly 3,000 angry protestors, according to The Hill. The publication also reported businesses voicing their opposition to the measure, with Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeting his “disgust” over law. Yelp proposed that businesses boycott the state, and said it had cancelled all of its travel there. Angie’s List’s CEO said he plans to cancel a $40 million expansion to their headquarters in Indianapolis, cannibalizing 1,000 jobs over five yeas in the Eastside neighborhood. Oh, and Miley Cyrus called Gov. Pence an “a**hole,” which perfectly captures the hyper- emotionalism exuded by the left that often lends to them taking positions that seek to kill the debate.

Let’s go through the some of the facts about this bill. For starters, 40 percent of states have similar laws (via WaPo):

Indiana is actually soon to be just one of 20 states with a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Here are those states, in dark teal:  (and they are all bigots!) 🙂
Forty percent of U.S. states have something similar to Indiana, as does the federal government.

The Washington Post also mentioned that President Bill Clinton signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act … in 1993. It was introduced in the House of Representatives by then-Congressman Chuck Schumer (D-NY). By a voice vote, it passed the House, then worked its way to the Senate, where members voted 97-3 in favor of the law. I’m going to bet that these protestors won’t be showing up at Bill Clinton’s residence, or any of the members of the U.S. Senate–current and former–who voted in favor of the bill, to voice their outrage.

This ignorance of the law was exuded during the Hobby Lobby case last summer. Also, it’s worth noting (again) that RFRA isn’t a “blank check” to discriminate.

Here’s RFRA:

(a) IN GENERAL- Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).(b) EXCEPTION- Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person–

(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and

(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Here’s Indiana’s law:

Sec. 8. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. (b) A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Looping back to Hobby Lobby, Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle had a great post noting that there’s–you know–a process to determine if one’s religious beliefs are genuine [emphasis mine]:

1) What can stop a company from arguing that it is against the owner’s sincere religious beliefs to pay workers a minimum wage?The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is not a blank check to religious groups to do what they want. The law says that the religious belief must be sincerely held, and also that the government can burden the exercise of that belief if it has a compelling state interest that cannot easily be achieved in any other way. That’s why no one has successfully started the Church of Not Paying Any Taxes, though people have been trying that dodge for years.

2) How can we tell if a belief is sincere?

Hobby Lobby closes its stores on Sundays and otherwise demonstrates a pretty deep commitment to fairly stringent Christian values, of which opposition to abortifacients is often a part. There will always be some gray area, of course, that allows people to claim special treatment for spurious beliefs, but the government has done a fair job over the decades of sorting out genuine beliefs from obvious attempts to dodge the law. Hobby Lobby seems to fall pretty squarely within the “sincere belief” camp.

To further quell the left’s hysteria over this law, here is a pro-gay rights law professor, Daniel O. Conkle, writing for USA Today on why Indiana needs RFRA [emphasis mine]:

I am a supporter of gay rights, including same-sex marriage. But as an informed legal scholar, I also support the proposed Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). How can this be?

The bill would establish a general legal standard, the “compelling interest” test, for evaluating laws and governmental practices that impose substantial burdens on the exercise of religion. This same test already governs federal law under the federal RFRA, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. And some 30 states have adopted the same standard, either under state-law RFRAs or as a matter of state constitutional law.

Applying this test, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that a Muslim prisoner was free to practice his faith by wearing a half-inch beard that posed no risk to prison security. Likewise, in a 2012 decision, a court ruled that the Pennsylvania RFRA protected the outreach ministry of a group of Philadelphia churches, ruling that the city could not bar them from feeding homeless individuals in the city parks.

If the Indiana RFRA is adopted, this same general approach will govern religious freedom claims of all sorts, thus protecting religious believers of all faiths by granting them precisely the same consideration.

But granting religious believers legal consideration does not mean that their religious objections will always be upheld.

In any event, most religious freedom claims have nothing to do with same-sex marriage or discrimination. The proposed Indiana RFRA would provide valuable guidance to Indiana courts, directing them to balance religious freedom against competing interests under the same legal standard that applies throughout most of the land. It is anything but a “license to discriminate,” and it should not be mischaracterized or dismissed on that basis.

Keep in mind; Conkle also noted that the courts, even in states with RFRA statutes, have rejected recent claims of religious exemptions amongst marriage-related businesses. But also said that those who disagree with gay marriage should have their day in court as well.

The position that wedding-related businesses having the right to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers based on religious grounds is popular. While a plurality of Americans support gay marriage, they also support religious protections for those who disagree as the Associated Press-Gfk poll showed in February. Though, if you head over to Gallup, you’ll find that a solid majority support gay marriage.

Then again, the former finding is not surprising; it’s the 57 percent figure in AP’s poll that show Americans support gay marital rights, but also religious freedom.

In short, this faux outrage is grounded with folks who didn’t get the memo. Actually, it’s probably folks who refuse to read the memo. A Democrat proposed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and it was signed into law by a Democratic president. It’s a 22-year old law! Forty percent of states have RFRA tests within their state laws, and it’s not a “blank check” to discriminate given that there is a high threshold in determining genuine religious beliefs, satisfying a compelling government interest, and making sure the latter is honored in the least intrusive way possible. 

Nevertheless, this silliness has forced Gov. Pence to discuss a “clarification” bill with legislators over the weekend.

It’s not necessary.

UPDATE: Seattle Mayor bans municipal workers from traveling to Indiana on city funds. Yet, it appears his state has RFRA statutes 

UPDATE: Then-State Senator Barack Obama voted for RFRA in Illinois, which the White House did not refute (via Weekly Standard):

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago, and it lays out a framework for ensuring that a very high level of scrutiny is given any time government action impinges on the religious liberty of any American,” Pence said. “After last year’s Hobby Lobby case, Indiana properly brought the same version that then-state senator Barack Obama voted for in Illinois before our legislature.”This Week Host George Stephanoplous later asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest to respond to Pence’s claim: “Josh, you just heard the governor say right there this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.”

Earnest didn’t dispute the Indiana governor’s statement. “Look, if you have to go back two decades to try to justify something that you’re doing today, it may raise some question about the wisdom of what you’re doing,” Earnest said.

UPDATE: Via Allahpundit: Here’s the video of Clinton signing RFRA in 1993.

UPDATE: Via HRC: Illinois has a public accommodation law that prohibits discrimination by sexual orientation from private businesses and government entities “that provide services to the general public.”  Yet, only 21 states have such accommodations. Again, why is this bill controversial? If this law permits somehow permitted a “blank check” on discrimination, which it does not, it would’ve happened in Indiana and elsewhere long ago.

But the truth doesn’t matter to Liberals, especially “morally outraged” liberals who have no capacity for rational thought and it’s all out nuclear war on anyone who stands in the way of their fight for “tolerance” 🙂

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

The Unhappy People

Republicans are the party of hate. I know this because the media tells me so. You didn’t know? Did you miss a meeting or something?

ReThuglicans are trying to destroy the country’s economy, oppress minorities, drive gay people into the sea and literally destroy the planet. That is, after all, why Ronald Reagan created crack cocaine and AIDS and why the Koch brothers exist, right?

Those are all incredibly stupid statements, but they’re also perhaps exaggerated versions of statements various factions within the Democratic Party’s coalition believe and Democratic leaders espouse.

If ignorance truly was bliss, you’d think progressives and the Democratic base would be among the happiest people in the world. But they’re not. They’re miserable people obsessed with the prospect that someone, somewhere, is having a type of fun they don’t approve of or making more money than someone else. In short: not living in a manner expressly endorsed by leftists.

In a fit of hilarity to anyone who knows history, Democrats routinely attack Republicans for “representing the past,” for “having no new ideas” while espousing and implementing policies that date back to the beginning of the 20th century and have failed everywhere they’ve been tried.

How could they do this? How could they get away with this and fool so many people into believing proven lies?

Democrats don’t debate history. They don’t debate facts. They don’t engage. Democrats accuse.

Like the guy in Times Square playing 3-Card Monte, progressives want to keep the attention on everything but what they’re actually doing.

With President Obama touting failures such as Obamacare as wonderful success stories, no one in the mainstream media is bothering to cover the millions upon millions of Americans who are demonstrably worse off because of the law.

Politics, thanks to the media and the Democratic Party, have become a con game. And we’re all the marks.

When in doubt, when boxed into a corner and someone is on the verge of spotting the red queen in your palm, break out the “ists” and “phobes.”

Racist, sexist and homophobe are the weapons of choice for the Left. Not the weapons of last resort, mind you. These are the first and usually only weapons they use. Where facts should live, only charges of hate reside. And it works.

More than 30 states have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts to protect people of faith from state governments mandating their citizens do things that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. It’s not a permission slip to hate or to discriminate, but you’d never know that by the coverage of Indiana joining those other states this week. But don’t take my word for it, take the word of pro-gay marriage Indiana University law professor Daniel Conkle.

In spite of the fact that almost three dozen states have similar laws, none of which have ended up in the wholesale hunting down of gay people nor any discrimination, the media set about lying to instill fear and anger in the hearts of Americans.

Huffington Post ran a story by blogger Amanda Terkel calling the law “anti-gay.” In it, Terkel writes “Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) quietly signed legislation…” then goes on to add enough qualifiers to twist the story so as to allow it to be “accurate” when no “anti-gay” actions result.

By the way, when Gov. Pence “quietly signed” the bill into law he tweeted a picture of the signing ceremony. That is akin to screaming a secret into the sound system from the 50-yard line at halftime of the Super Bowl. HuffPo is not known for letting facts stand in the way.

But progressive activist blogs weren’t the only ones content to lie about what happened in Indiana. CNN “journalist” Eric Bradner tweeted his story on the new law by saying, “Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs law allowing businesses to reject gay customers in name of ‘religious freedom.’”

Aside from that not being remotely close to the truth, Bradner couldn’t help himself from putting the words “religious freedom” in quotes not only in his tweet but in the story itself. That’s why I put “journalist” in quotes when referring to CNN’s “politics reporter covering 2016.” Any GOP candidate who gives so much as a quote to this tool shed should be automatically disqualified from consideration.

Bradner’s “reporting” spread across the Internet like a cold on a plane. Contently uninformed progressives from the business world and the entertainment industry were outraged. Someone named Marc Benioff professed his company’s intention to wipe Indiana off its map. “Today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination,” the ignorant CEO tweeted.

Oddly, Benioff’s company, SalesForce, gladly does business with the progressive communists in China who imprison and murder its citizens for whatever reason they want, but Americans harming no one is a bridge too far.

The pudgy CEO wasn’t the only millionaire or billionaire to swallow the hook. I’m not going to link to any more of them because it would just give progressive websites money, but Apple CEO Tim Cook, Miley Cyrus, Ashton Kutcher and Mr. Sulu all called for boycotting Indiana. Unthinking minions followed suit, all led by a media that should know better.

They do know better. They just don’t care. The narrative, the progressive agenda, must be advanced.

Having moved on from their “hands up, don’t shoot” lie, some new outrage must be advanced to keep the mindless angry. It’s why the 3-Card Monte guy never stops talking…

Always ready to distract from her own troubles and jump on a left-wing bandwagon, Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT.”

Hero…

Personally, I agree with the man who, when he signed the federal version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, said, “We are a people of faith. We have been so secure in that faith that we have enshrined in our Constitution protection for people who profess no faith. And good for us for doing so. That is what the first amendment is all about. But let us never believe that the freedom of religion imposes on any of us some responsibility to run from our convictions. Let us instead respect one another’s faiths, fight to the death to preserve the right of every American to practice whatever convictions he or she has, but bring our values back to the table of American discourse to heal our troubled land.”

Of course that was a really, really long time ago, way back in 1993, and the man was President Bill Clinton. Something none of those “news” organizations, CEOs, celebrities or any member of the progressive flying monkey outrage army bothered to mention or probably even knew. Googling, like thinking, is too hard for some.

They’re content to label anyone who disagrees with them an “ist” or a “phobe” of some sort, so let’s just call ourselves “Ist-a-Phobes” and cut out the middleman. I’d rather be called that than “progressive” any day of the week.

On the plus side, progressives haven’t yet called for “camps” or mass executions of people who disagree with them. That’s a major step “forward” for them from the last century, so we’ve got that going for us. (Derek Hunter)

Give them time, though they already have the Education system to use and abuse so they don’t have to lock you up physically, just mentally so that you can’t escape. 🙂

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Death Spiral

The Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, the case challenging the Obama administration’s decision to award tax credits for health insurance sold through federally established exchanges, could turn on the question of whether a ruling that ends the tax credits on federal exchanges might cause something known as a “death spiral” in health insurance markets.

The good news is the answer is probably no, but the bad news is that’s only because the death spiral has probably already started.

A death spiral generally occurs when insurers are forced to raise premiums sharply to pay promised benefits. Higher premiums cause many of the healthiest policyholders, who already pay far more in premiums than they receive in benefits, to drop coverage.

When healthy policyholders drop coverage, it leaves the insurer with little choice but to raise premiums again because they now have a risk pool that is less healthy than before. But another premium increase means many of the healthy people who remained now drop their policies, too, and this continues until the only people willing to pay the now-very-high premiums are those with serious medical conditions.

The death spiral isn’t just a theory. Eight states learned this the hard way in the 1990s when they enacted two policies known as “community rating” and “guaranteed issue,” requiring health insurers to sell coverage to anyone who wanted it at the same price.

This quickly set off a death spiral because people knew they could wait until they were sick or injured to buy insurance, and premiums rose sky-high as healthy people exited the individual insurance market while the sick remained.

 

New Jersey enacted both community rating and guaranteed issue in 1992. By 2003, the lowest monthly premium for a family policy in the state was $3,810 and nearly 40 percent of the people in the individual market had dropped their coverage.

Obamacare includes both community rating and guaranteed issue. The hope of the politicians who passed Obamacare was the individual mandate would keep the relatively healthy from dropping insurance coverage, thereby avoiding a death spiral.

They hoped to FORCE people to pay by government cudgel to avoid the inevitable. Remove the choice to cause the death spiral and subsidize the hell out of it (literally and figuratively). Sounds like an Agenda rather a “good” thing, doesn’t it? 🙂

During oral arguments in King, Justices Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed concerns that not allowing subsidies in the 37 states using the federally established exchange would set off a death spiral in those states. Their fear was that while subsidies would no longer be available, and there would effectively be no individual mandate, community rating and guaranteed issue would remain.

Many commentators saw Justice Kennedy’s comments as a signal he isn’t willing to stop subsidies on federal exchanges, either because of the serious consequences of doing so or because surely Congress could not have intended to put states in the position of choosing between creating an Obamacare exchange or seeing health insurance markets destroyed.

What Justice Kennedy and many others may not understand, however, is the death spiral is probably already underway in all 50 states, regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in this case.

According to the Manhattan Institute, premiums climbed by 41 percent on average from 2013 to 2014, and premiums are likely to rise sharply again after two insurance company bailout programs included in Obamacare expire in 2017.

The other sign health insurance markets are in the early stages of a death spiral is the age mix of those buying policies through Obamacare. Originally it was estimated that around 40 percent of enrollees had to be in the relatively healthy 18 to 34-year-old age segment, so their premiums could be used to pay for the health expenses of older, less-healthy enrollees. So far it appears only some 28 percent of enrollees are in that coveted age group, which also comprises around half of the uninsured.

All of this means insurers are getting a risk pool that is less healthy than expected, and more premium hikes are around the corner. While subsidies hide some from the full impact, others in the middle class will not be shielded.

It will undoubtedly take a few years to know for sure, but for anybody concerned about setting off a death spiral or thinking Congress surely didn’t intend to do so, don’t worry. It looks like it’s already here, whether Congress intended it or not.

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok
Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson
But enough about President Obama.
Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler

Commander-in-Chief PETTY officer

There seems to be no end to the damage President Obama will inflict upon the nation of Israel. While wooing a genocidal regime in Tehran, this administration has treated our staunchest Middle East ally with a mix of pettiness, contempt and rage.

Following Benjamin Netanyahu’s huge election victory, Obama grumbled that it was time to “reassess” America’s relationship with Israel. Monday he began that effort when, for the first time ever, the U.S. delegation refused to speak in defense of Israel at the UN Human Rights Council. The council was adhering to the sinister-sounding Agenda Item 7, which mandates the discussion of “Israeli human rights violations” at every meeting.

Now the administration has shifted from mere rhetoric and diplomatic maneuvers to irreparable harm. The Jewish Press revealed that the U.S. has declassified Top Secret intelligence on Israel’s nuclear program:

The United States has just revealed a stunning amount of information on some of Israel’s the most closely guarded secrets: information about its military cooperation with America and 20 years’ worth of details on Israel’s nuclear technology development, up to the 1980s.

The 386-page report, composed in 1987 by the federally funded Institute for Defense Analysis, (an NGO that operates under the Pentagon), is titled “Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations.”

It was declassified by the Pentagon in early February – but oddly, the report has been redacted so as to black out or withhold everything the Institute wrote on America’s NATO allies – but to reveal all that American experts assembled in Israel.

Interestingly, no one reported the declassification other than two hostile news agencies that apparently were tipped off: Russia’s Putin-funded RT network and Iran’s mullah-funded Press TV. The Weekly Standard explains why this report’s release is such a big deal:

Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons. To do so might spark a regional nuclear arms race, and eventual nuclear confrontation.

The declassification is a serious breach of decades’ old understandings concerning this issue between Israel and its north American and certain European allies.

The Pentagon’s February declassification coincided with intense pressure on the Netanyahu government by the Obama administration, trying to force the Israeli prime minister to cancel a planned speech to Congress questioning the wisdom of a highly risky nuclear deal with the Iranian regime.

However, in the past 24 hours several media in the U.S. and elsewhere have now chosen to report on the February declassification by the Pentagon. This coincides with stepped up efforts this week by the Obama administration to weaken Israel’s deterrent capabilities, including leaking to the Wall Street Journal incorrect allegations that Israel directly spies on the U.S.

Consider me unsurprised that the guy who smiled and nodded his way through two decades of anti-semitic sermons and is friends with Israel haters like Rashid Khalidi and Bill Ayers is doing everything he can to undermine that nation. I wouldn’t be surprised by year’s end to see Obama refer to Israel as “the Zionist entity.”

It will be interesting to watch politically savvy Democrats distance themselves from Obama’s intensifying assault on the Middle East’s only democracy. Hopefully they won’t wait for Iran to get nukes before speaking up. (they will, and it’ll be GWB’s fault!)

Question for the comment section: Why should any ally trust the U.S. government now? (Jon Gabriel)

Under Obama, you can’t. Period. Neither can America.

THE AGENDA IS THE AGENDA now matter how narcissistic, petty,dangerous,  or unconstitutional it is no one is safe from THE EGO FROM THE DAWN OF TIME!

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert
Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson
Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
Political Cartoons by Gary McCoy

Cut!

Raise the cost of something, and inevitably demand for that thing goes down. It’s a venerable principle in economics.

So five years ago when ObamaCare was being enacted, we and many others warned that its coverage mandates for employers would result in hours being cut back and workers being laid off. We were criticized at the time as Chicken Littles. Now comes a survey of 743 personnel executives by the Society of Human Resource Management, as reported by Robert King of the Washington Examiner, that shows businesses are doing just that. Nearly 14% of firms have cut part-time hours for workers, King wrote, and another 6% plan to do so.

Still worse, 5% of companies have already either cut or plan to cut the total number of workers they have, thanks to ObamaCare.

ObamaCare’s employer mandate requires businesses with 100 or more employees to provide health insurance to 70% of their workers who put in 30 or more hours a week. That goes up to 95% next year.

Meanwhile, small businesses with 50 to 99 workers will start feeling the pinch in 2016, when the mandate hits them, too.

So it’s only logical: Businesses are cutting hours to avoid having to pay for the mandate — a predictable response in the real world, but apparently not in the world of the economists, politicians and planners who concocted ObamaCare’s destructive rules.

As for “bending the cost-curve down,” as President Obama promised repeatedly, forget about it. The survey found that 77% of companies had higher health-care costs this year than last year, and just 6% saw their costs decrease. For those who had costs rise, 24% saw costs go up 16% or more.

If you want to know why this job recovery has been the worst since the Great Depression, you need look no further than these depressing statistics.

In September 2009, President Obama addressed Congress, vowing that his healthcare plan would “slow the growth of healthcare costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” But costs for all three have actually grown.

During the campaign in 2008, Obama repeatedly said that his health reform plan would save the average family $2,500 a year in premiums. But this year, almost half of those surveyed by CBS and the New York Times characterized “the affordability of basic medical care as a hardship.” That’s a quarter more people than said so last year.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, the New York Times, and Avalere Health crunched government numbers and concluded that even premiums for coverage offered on the exchanges would rise between 2 and 5% during 2015.

Meanwhile, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research determined that premiums in the non-group market in 2014 increased by 24.4% over what they would have cost without Obamacare.

Costs for small businesses have also grown. Last year, the average cost of employer-sponsored health insurance for an individual exceeded $5,700. That’s 23% more than in 2009, the year before Obamacare was signed into law.

One in 10 businesses has laid off workers to cope with growing healthcare costs. And “one-third of small firms say they are purposefully not growing as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” according to a National Small Business Association Survey.

Meanwhile, one in five companies has reduced employee hours to avoid falling afoul of Obamacare’s employer mandate, which requires companies with 100 or more employees who work more than 30 hours a week to provide health insurance this year. Next year, companies with 50 or more workers will be subject to the mandate.

Companies who fail to comply must pay fines of the lesser of $3,000 per employee who receives subsidies in Obamacare’s insurance exchanges or $2,000 for every worker after the first 30.

The cost of Obamacare has also grown dramatically for the government — and thus for taxpayers. In 2009, President Obama claimed that his plan would cost a little more than $900 billion over the next decade. But according to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office, the law’s net price tag has ballooned to nearly $1.2 trillion.

The law’s ballooning cost is largely the result of its failure to slow overall health spending. Nationwide, health spending grew 5% in 2014, compared to a 3.6% increase the year prior, according to a new report from Altarum Institute. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services forecast spending to grow by 6% a year from 2015 through 2023 — “largely as a result of the continued implementation of the ACA coverage expansions.”

To make matters worse, the health law has also failed to deliver “the best care, not just the most expensive care,” as the President promised in 2009. Under Obamacare, Americans now have fewer healthcare options than before.

The number of insurers selling to individual consumers in the exchanges has dropped by more than 20% compared to the year before Obamacare took effect, according to the Heritage Foundation. Consumers who buy coverage on the exchanges often find that their preferred hospitals are out of network, McKinsey & Co. reports.

Meanwhile, Deloitte surveyed 20,000 doctors and discovered that many are cutting their work hours or leaving the practice of medicine altogether. USA TODAY recently reported that many doctors are limiting their intake of patients who bought coverage on the exchanges; the reimbursement rates offered by their policies are just too low.

“Physicians who are in solo practices have to be careful not to take too many patients reimbursed at lower rates or they’re not going to be in business too long,” said the President of the Medical Society of the State of New York.

For patients, this exodus of doctors translates into less access, longer waits before appointments, and less one-on-one time with the few doctors who will see them. Last year, patients had to wait an average of 18 days for appointments with specialty doctors. This waiting game is “going to get worse and not better,” according to a study from consultancy Merritt Hawkins.

But since it “felt good” and they “had the best of intentions” and it’s all the fault of evil insurance companies the Liberal won’t hold themselves responsible for making things much worse than if they hadn’t meddled in the first place.

This is Your Car Speaking…

Now your car gets to decide.

Ford is hoping to prevent accidents and speeding tickets by introducing cars that can see what the speed limit is and preventing heavy-footed motorists from driving any faster. Ford’s Intelligent Speed Limiter tech will first appear on the new Ford S-Max that’s launching in Europe that could just change the way that we drive.

And we all know liberals prefer anything that comes out of Europe as it’s more “civilized” than dirty, grungy, evil capitalist America. 🙂

This sounds like a great option to have if you know you’re a bit too easily tempted to slip over the speed limit, especially when driving in a new area. The local limit will be displayed in the car’s dash so if you missed a sign you can rest easy knowing the car didn’t.

Yeah, just trying “going the speed limit” on The Squawk Peak Freeway and watch people honk at you and go around you like you’re crawling along.

But it might be a good idea in Paradise Valley where they love speed traps. 🙂

Does it read School Zones? (apparently not as it has a lower limit of 20 mph so anything under that is your old school problem).

A camera mounted on the windshield scans the road signs on the sides of the highway and, when the vehicle enters a 20mph zone, the system reduces the top speed to match. Rather than controlling the speed with automatic braking, the car limits its own velocity by adjusting the amount of fuel being pushed to the engine.

If a burst of speed is required, however, users can either deactivate the system by pressing a button on the console or temporarily get past it with a hard press on the gas pedal. If the vehicle is coasting downhill and starts to build up speed, the car will sense its motion and sound an alarm to get you braking. It’s not the only bit of new safety tech available on the new whip, either, since deep-pocketed motorists can also get pedestrian detection and collision warnings. That frees drivers up to wonder why any car firm would call a car SMAX and think we wouldn’t notice.

Smacks of government intervention. So if you press the button to deactivate it and never re-activate it will there be a fine or penalty for that coming down the pike?? Or maybe your insurance will deny your claim?

Or when they decide that you can’t override it, “for your own good”?

Remember when Seat Belts “dinged” at you incessantly and they had to limit the time on them or else they’d ding until the cow’s come home?

The government and the manufacturers can only engineer so much of human behavior, for now.

But they will make it more like your living room to distract you though:

Ford has unveiled the Service Delivery Network, a cloud-based platform that uses Microsoft Azure to put internet services in your car, whether they’re app-based remote controls (like telling your car to warm up in the morning) or Sync updates.

So how long before we get anti-distraction software that says you can’t use it while driving because it’s unsafe? 🙂

And anybody else worried that all this technology is going to make for a less alert driver because the car is “watching out for you” so much you can do your nails or read the newspaper much more efficiently then?

Or is that just boring old, old/no “old fart” tech me??

oh, then theirs HACKERS:

Technology is slowly becoming integrated into many different aspects of cars, requiring an internet connection to function to its full potential – talking to nearby vehicles, being aware of road conditions, getting traffic data via the cloud – and we are increasingly closer to completely internet-dependent vehicles.

However, while cars are becoming more dependent on internet-connected technology – whether it’s in the dashboard, entertainment system, brakes, acceleration, lights and so on – cyber criminals are gaining a greater understanding of how to hack into web-based systems and therefore hijack cars powered in this way.

This essentially means being able to break into a vehicle without actually touching it, or taking control without being inside. (The inquirer)

Taking your car to the dealership because it was hacked (or “my car has a virus”), now that’s an auto repair bill too far, don’t you think?

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy