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12/21/2009 4:34:26 PM - Modern Democracies Are Flawed - Part II

Mere weeks after I noted that the political structure of modern democracies is completely dysfunctional (in my "Universal Health Care Financing Problem Solved" blog), along comes Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska to irrefutably prove my point.

One of Nelson's primary concerns - the reason why he wasn't voting for ObamaCare in the first place - was because of the increased Medicaid (which is shared by both federal and state governments) expenditures that would pummel Nebraska residents if ObamaCare is enacted into law.

So...in the spirit of "what's best for Nebraska, but certainly not the country", Nelson struck a deal whereupon the federal government would cover ALL additional Medicaid expenditures for Nebraska FOREVER.

Well, that's great if you live in Nebraska, but I'd like to raise three salient points.

First, what if you live in one of the other 49 states? Not only are you going to be paying wildly more for medical care in the future (assuming you're one of those people that will actually pay, and not one of the millions of freeloaders that will simply be given something for nothing) but you're going to be paying more in federal taxes to subsidize medical care in Nebraska. Well, that's just brilliant...assuming, of course, your intention is to crater the economy and drive many of the nation's brightest and most ambitious to other countries. Personally, the Bahamas are starting to look pretty good to me. No property tax, no income tax, and no inane "Universal Health Care".

Second, does anyone (with an IQ north of 87) actually believe that when the "individual" (whether it be a state, a city, a minority group, an individual, etc.) seeks to pull as much from the "collective" as possible so that they "get" more than they "give", that efficient, intelligent, and fair laws are the result? Of course not. It's no different with our political system. Whereas Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declares such sweetheart deals as "business as usual" and the "way that legislation is crafted" (and it is), it's also an unbelievably short-sighted, incompetent, inefficient, and unfair way to legislate.

Lastly, why would Nelson vote for something that he believes to be bad for his state (and therefore all states) as long as his state gets a free pass? Doesn't he realize that the legislation will eventually wreak so much havok on the other 49 states - exactly what he was concerned about with Nebraska - that, one way or another, the mayhem will eventually find its way back to Nebraska (in the form of increased federal taxes, higher unemployment, etc.)? In the end, it's one of two things: he either doesn't care, or he's simply not bright enough to grasp the obvious. Either way, it's a damning indictment of the types of people that routinely seize the reins of modern democracies.

Do I expect lawmakers to do better? No. Personally, I think they're all idiots and in it for themselves. That's one of the reasons why, as I noted weeks ago, I don't really believe in modern democracies. I think that they're fatally flawed. I don't think that governments presiding over hundreds of millions of people will ever be intelligently managed, efficient, or fair. The Greeks had it right. City-States - and no larger.

- TZ

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1/19/2010 10:02:14 AM by TZ

I should add that the special Nelson deal came after a similar deal was struck for Louisiana...and preceded yet another special deal whereupon "Cadillac health plans" for unions (such as the SEIU - Service Employees International Union) would not have additional taxes levied upon them...as opposed to the normal rank-and-file (i.e. all of those people who aren't "friends" of the people currently doling out the special exemptions.)

This, then, in a nutshell is how modern democratic politics work...and why I often say that the entire idea is fatally flawed. The goal of a politician in modern society is not, as the Founding Fathers originally intended, to put in a few years of "public service" for the good of the country but rather to maintain their (hopefully) lifelong political job. Since their primary desire is always to simply get re-elected, they never make the hard choices (such as whether a country can actually afford something before spending the money) but rather simply seek to take in as much as possible and then dole it out in selective ways to those people who would keep them in office to, presumably, repeat the transfer of wealth again in the future.

Obama campaigned on an idea of changing the system - taking it back from the "special interests". He ran as a left-of-center centrist, and now many profess to be surprised by how far left he's turned. I'm not surprised. I saw him for the charlatan - the politician - that he always was, and the fact that he was the most liberal Senator in the Senate should have told people something. People often want to believe in something, and when faced with two bad choices will pick the one that best lines up with their own values- at least on the largest couple of issues - and convince themselves that the person for whom they're campaigning really cares about them.

I think it's all total nonsense. Obama said, over and over and over again, that he would televise the health care debate on C-Span. Nope - in fact, I've never seen such major legislation crafted exclusively behind closed doors. Obama said that he'd bring together the left and right and govern in a non-partisan way. Nope. You can't get more partisan than trying to jam through legislation that will remake one-sixth of the US economy on a 100% partisan (60 Democratic Senators versus 40 Republican Senators) vote. Obama said that he'd eliminate special interests from the political process and take Washington back for the people. Nope. The SEIU is the very definition of a "special interest group" and granting them a special exemption from the higher taxes necessary for many others to pay for the health care "overhaul" (I'd technically call it a "disaster" in its current form) is exactly what he said he would not do. There are a hundred more examples one could easily make, but I think that Nancy Pelosi - the Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives - said it best when, in response to a reporter recently asking why the health care debates weren't being televised on C-Span as Obama said, replied that Obama said "a lot of things" on the campaign trail. The amazing thing is that a major politician someone can flaunt the fact that politicians say "a lot of things" on the campaign trail - in order to get votes, and not because they're actually going to do it - and not have it adversely affect their popularity or their chances of getting re-elected.

-TZ

1/19/2010 6:07:45 PM by TZ

Come on, Scott Brown! If Brown wins in Massachusetts not only will it throw a huge wrench in the works for ObamaCare (which I think is beyond terrible), but it will also send a message - however temporary - that simply trying to ram something through despite overwhelming opposition by the majority of the country simply isn't going to be tolerated.

The most ironic - and honestly, hilarious for me considering my disdain for Ted Kennedy - is that getting universal health care passed was always one of Kennedy's primary concerns, and now it could all be derailed (and force the Democrats to at least make some compromises, as opposed to just jamming a hard-line partisan bill through and instantly remaking one-sixth of the US economy) by a Republican taking his place in the Senate. Massachusetts, I would point out, hasn't had a Republican Senator in almost 40 years. If that doesn't tell you that people are unhappy with the current situation regarding ObamaCare in the country (and spiraling deficits, inane "job growth" policies that do nothing to actually incentivize the creation of jobs, etc.), nothing will.

All of this said...I don't know much about Scott Brown (and won't be voting since I don't live in Massachusetts), except that he'll vote against ObamaCare if elected. Given that I think that ObamaCare will be an exclamation mark on the decline of US exceptionalism and competitiveness, it's worth putting him into office simply to stop that juggernaut of stupidity.

Interestingly, many Democrats have come out and said that if Brown does win the Senate race in Massachusetts, they'll hold up his certification so that the Democrat currently in control can vote for ObamaCare. That will be interesting to see. If you think that people are angry now (when apparently voting a Republican into the Senate in Massachusetts), wait until you see their reaction if such a blatantly political and despicable act were actually attempted. Democrats, I think, will get crushed in the political races in late 2010 if they do that. They may well get crushed regardless, and I suspect that no matter what happens in Massachusetts they'll probably lose control of either the House or the Senate.

-TZ

1/19/2010 7:13:44 PM by TZ

Game over, man, game over!

Brown is going to win the Senate race in Massachusetts. 52% of the precincts have now reported in and Brown is winning 53% to Coakley's 47%. The fat lady is approaching the stage and the singing will commence shortly.

This is honestly amazing and a huge repudiation for the idiocy that Obama is trying to ram down the country's throat. Brown was behind by 25-30% a few months ago and about 20% in mid-December. For him to have come from behind and now easily win the election is practically unprecedented, and to do it in a steadfastly Democratic state is monumental.

If the Democrats don't wake up, they're going to take a beating in the 2010 elections.

As I've previously noted, I don't like either political party - or even the concept of parties. I think that lifelong politicians are in politics for themselves (whether for personal gain, ego, visions of grandeur, or whatever) and that the whole system is catastrophically flawed. That said, ObamaCare is a huge disaster in the making and will crater the country's long-term future if enacted, and thus anything that stops its passage or at the very least dilutes its effects are a positive.

America was supposed to be the land of opportunity - not of guaranteed benefits. The current system is fatally flawed, but simply having the government take even more of the private sector's wealth and transfer it to whomever the politicians in power deem worthy is certainly not the answer.

As for the government theoretically being able to bring more "efficiency" to health care...honestly, is there anything that the government does efficiently? As Obama orally blundered last year (when trying to make a point about the government's efficiency, and inadvertently pointing to a fine example of the exact opposite), there are three major mail carriers in the US - Federal Express (FedEx), United Parcel Service (UPS), and the US Postal Service (USPS.) Guess which two rake in huge profits in better times but still managed to remain solidly profitable throughout the worst of the financial crisis, and which one loses billions of dollars per year in good times and bad, requiring a perpetual "bailout" from the government? Yeah, that's right...the USPS. So you want the same dimwits that can't efficiently move a package from point A to point B to manage health care? Good luck with that.

-TZ

1/19/2010 8:55:41 PM by TZ

The Senate race is over. Brown defeated Coakley with 52.7% (versus 46.3%) of the vote...and simultaneously stuck a finger in the eye of Barack "We'll air the health care debates on C-Span" Obama, Nancy "He said a lot of things on the campaign trail"Pelosi, Harry "We've lost in Iraq" Reid, and all the others who thought that they could take quick advantage of an accidental (and in the case of the dimwit Al Franken, I suspect fraudulent) supermajority and shove through what I suspect is probably the worst piece of legislation ever seriously debated.

It's hilarious, and all the more so because despite Ted Kennedy's unbelievably hypocritical stance on Senatorial replacements (amongst other things such as green energy) it will wind up being his vacant seat that put the nail in the coffin of ObamaCare as it's currently conceived. (For those who don't know, Kenndy pushed for and had the law changed in Massachusetts so that a Republican governor could not temporarily specify a replacement Senator for John Kerry in case Kerry won the Presidential election in 2004...but then pushed to have the law changed back a few years later when a Democratic governor was elected and he was concerned that his failing health meant that a replacement Senator would need to be elected, which meant that ObamaCare supporters might be one vote short of being able to block a Republican filibuster and cram that lame legislation down an unwilling country's throat.

What I really want to know is...with flexible "ideals" - and I use the word only in a mockingly sarcastic way - like that, how is it that Ted Kennedy was never approached as a spokesman for the rubber industry? His moral flexibility ("whatever benefits what I want is right") would have put Reed Richards' (Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four comics) physical flexibility to shame.

-TZ

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