Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘socialism’

Republican leaders continue to embarrass themselves on healthcare reform

Posted by sanityinjection on July 14, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has just released the latest version of a Republican healthcare bill to replace Obamacare. And almost immediately, the bill is in danger of failing a procedural vote just to allow it to be debated. And so, like the sand in the hourglass, these are the days of the Republican-controlled Congress, marked chiefly by a complete inability to accomplish anything of importance. But the paralysis on healthcare is especially embarrassing because this is the issue on which so many Republican legislators ran. Remember the refrain: “Repeal and replace!” It seems like forever ago now.

The danger is very real that voters will punish a do-nothing Congress in the next election. Republican voters who believed the promises will be especially ticked off. So knowing this, why can’t the GOP caucus get its act together?

The problem, as usual, is that leadership is over-complicating the bills. In order to try to please and gain the support of all three wings of the party – liberal, centrist, and conservative – they keep adding things to the legislation to win over these groups. Of course, since those factions have very different goals, each thing leadership adds ends up losing more votes on one side than it gains on the other.

What McConnell and his team should do now is abort this latest bill and start fresh by remembering *why* Republicans were opposed to Obamacare in the first place. It wasn’t because they were against expanding access to health insurance for the poor. For most, it wasn’t even because they opposed spending more federal money on healthcare. No, think back and recall that there was one single provision of Obamacare that Republicans across the spectrum were dead-set against. That was the individual mandate, which forces Americans to purchase health insurance and fines us if we don’t.

The individual mandate is prima facie unconstitutional (I don’t care what the Supreme Court said.) It is difficult to imagine a similar federal law requiring Americans to purchase any other good or service. It’s also thinly disguised socialism, as the purpose of the mandate is to force wealthier and healthier people to pay into the insurance system to subsidize the premiums of poorer and sicker people.

The essence of effective legislating is not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good. Or to put it another way,  a small victory is always better than a large failure. The only way I can see for Republicans to salvage something out of the healthcare mess is to simply pass a stripped-down bill that only does one thing: repeal the individual mandate. GOP legislators would then be forced to either support the bill or be caught nakedly going back on their campaign promises without any extra language they can point to to justify their opposition. It should be able to get enough Republican votes to pass both the House and Senate.

Of course, the Democrats will scream that repealing the individual mandate will “kill children” because of the socialist funding system mentioned above. This polemic, however, can be easily undercut by establishing a private, non-profit charitable fund to help pay for health insurance for those who cannot afford it but are ineligible for Medicaid. Contributions to the fund, however, will be a matter of public record. Then it will be up to the Democrats to get all their rich Hollywood celebrity friends, and George Soros, to put *their* money, instead of our money, where their mouths are. Heck, if they want to, they can buy multiple health insurance policies for themselves to put more money into the system. But once again, there will be no political place to hide on either side of the aisle.

I’m not under any illusion that anything as sensible as what I’ve just outlined is going to happen. Over-complicating things is what keeps Washington going, it’s what pays the salaries of all the bureaucrats and lobbyists. It’s an excellent example of why bigger government invariably becomes worse government.

Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Communism/socialism vs. America

Posted by sanityinjection on July 17, 2009

This excerpt is from a recent blog by Saturday Night Live alumna (and smoking hot conservative) Victoria Jackson:

“Sonia, an Iranian who lived five years in Russia…said “Did you hear the story about the professor and the classroom?  It explains communism so well.  The professor told the class that after every test,  all the students’ grades would be averaged and all would receive the same grade.  So, after the first test, the A students who studied all night and the F students who partied all night, all received a C.  As the semester went on, the A students quit studying, and all received an F.”…

…At least I got to live at the tail end of a magical place called America.  I’m an eyewitness who can tell my grandchildren about a faraway land of freedom where the people who worked the hardest were rewarded.  And everyone tried to out perform each other and so, everything was top quality.  Houses and cars and pools and food.  They were all the biggest and best in the world.  And people respected God and humbly thanked Him for their blessings.  But gradually, the people started taking their blessings for granted.  They started to expect rewards without working for them. They felt entitled.  Even the strangers who moved into the land felt entitled. No one thanked God.  They even started to mock Him.  Bible studies started to be referred to as “Hate Speech” gatherings.”

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

F*** the rich

Posted by sanityinjection on July 15, 2009

Apaprently, that’s the new motto of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. Their newly unveiled health care expansion bill proposes to pay for its $1.2 trillion cost primarily by way of a new surtax (surtax means, “on top of all the other taxes they already pay”) of between 1 and 5.4% on those who earn more than $350,000 annually.

For the record, let me state that I don’t make anything close to that figure and probably never will. So I have no immediate self-interest at stake if such a tax is imposed. But I’m appalled that the party controlling our federal government has apparently committed itself to wide-scale redistribution of wealth – punishing those who have been successful in order to help those who have not.

You have probably heard the economic arguments a million times, how taxing the rich simply shrinks the overall economic pie by diminishing investment capital. (In fact, something like 60% of tax revenue already comes from just the top 5% of earners.) I’m not going to belabor this point, as true as it is.

Instead, let me make a philosophical argument. Most of us accept the principle of paying taxes to the government to support the essential services that government provides (though we often disagree about what those services should be.) We like to imagine that every American makes a contribution – though in fact huge swathes of people pay no federal taxes at all because of their low incomes. (I am not convinced that someone who makes $20,000 a year can’t afford $1 in federal taxes as opposed to $0.) We also like to imagine that every American pays a fair percentage of their income in taxes. (In fact, wealthy Americans not only pay more in absolute dollars – which they should – but are taxed at higher rates determined arbitrarily.)

However, it should make us uneasy when the government starts singling out groups of taxpayers and making them pay more in taxes while others are spared. Imagine, for example, if the federal government decided that Asian-Americans should be taxed at a higher rate because they are, on average, better educated and more successful than other Americans, and can “better afford to pay.” I think we would all agree that would be an outrage.

So why isn’t it an outrage when the group in question is defined by income level? People who make $350,000 or more are not crooks who take advantage of the poor; they are ordinary Americans who have worked hard to become successful in their fields, and generally added great value to our economy by creating jobs, developing new products and services, or expanding consumer access. They are already paying *more* than their fair share under our current tax system. To impose an additional surtax is just punitive.

With each passing day of this Administration, our government’s policies seem more and more to reflect the maxim, “From each according to ability; to each according to need.” If that sounds familiar, it should – it is one of the founding principles of socialism – and an official slogan of the Soviet Union. Is that what we want to model our country after? Was that model so stunningly successful that it should be resurrected here in America?

Keep this in mind when you hear the Democrats talking about the “ability to pay” of the wealthy and those who “need” subsidized health care. They are not trying very hard to conceal their goal here. I just wish there were more voices outside the Republican Party (Nobody takes Republicans seriously when they cry socialism anymore) willing to stand up and denounce this for what it is. Middle America needs to remember that, to paraphrase Martin Niemoller, if they do not speak out on behalf of the rich now, there will be no one left to speak out for them, when our government eventually comes for them.

Our society will self-destruct when we reach the point where all those who are productive are sucked dry of their lifeblood in order to nurture those who are not. Don’t look now, Ayn Rand, but Atlas is shrugging.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »

What is the connection between Belgian socialism and English as the official language of the US?

Posted by sanityinjection on July 23, 2008

Even many of those who follow international politics may be unaware that the small European nation of Belgium is facing a severe constitutional crisis. There has been serious talk of the country splitting in two, although this seems unlikely for the present. The root of the problem is the antagonism and distrust between Belgium’s French-speaking and Dutch-speaking communities.

Before I get to how this is at all relevant to Americans, let me go back a bit. Belgium became an independent nation in 1830 when it broke away from what is now called the Netherlands. The main difference was a religious one – Belgians are mostly Catholics while the Dutch are mostly Protestant. The other difference was that the Belgian clergy and upper classes spoke French rather than Dutch. Thus, in the new Belgium French was the official language. The Dutch-speaking or “Flemish” population did not like this much, and over the next century gradually gained enough political power to make Belgium a bilingual country.

After World War II the math changed. The steel industry of the French-speaking south (“Wallonia”) declined, while the service-oriented economy of the Flemish north grew. Economic power shifted north even while the majority of the population, and the political power remained in the poorer Wallonia. Decades of welfare state socialism meant that the wealth produced by the Flemish was taxed by the government and redistributed through government programs to the French-speaking Walloons.

Matters came to a head beginning in 1968 when the bilingual Catholic University of Louven was split into two separate universities, one French-speaking and one Dutch-speaking. This lead to increasing autonomy for the two regions of the country, which now mostly govern themselves. But many of the Flemish increasingly are tired of economically propping up the poorer Walloons, and the political power of those who would split the country into two is growing.

OK, now how does this all relate to the US? We are fortunate because with the exception of the South during the civil war, we’ve never had a large, dissatisfied minority group concentrated in one region of the country that could try to split away (though Utah’s Mormons came close at one point.) And even then, Southerners and Northerners shared a common language and heritage.

However, in the 21st century the demographics are changing. The Latino population of the southern and western states is growing by leaps and bounds. And more and more of the Latino immigrants in these states are not learning English. Now before I go any further, I have no problem with *legal* Latino immigration. Latinos work hard, serve in our military and contribute financially and culturally to America just as other ethnic groups have. Most Latinos view America as the land of opportunity and are happy to be here.

The problem, though, is that Latino communities are increasingly starting to demand that public business be conducted in Spanish, to accomodate the growing Spanish-speaking majorities. This would further discourage residents in these areas from learning English, and lead to a situation where one half of the country can barely even communicate with the other half. Combine that with the rise of Latino political power while economic power remains mostly in Anglo hands, with a left-wing Congress funding welfare programs for the Spanish-speaking states, and pretty soon we’ve got another Belgium right here in the US. Only it will be the Anglo north calling for separation.

Far fetched? Not over a period of decades, it’s not. It only took about 70 years for Belgium to go from bilingualism to separatism. The conclusions I draw are these: Immigrants who come to the US *must* learn English, and the public business of our country must always be conducted first and foremost in English. In the past, I have been opposed to declaring English the official language of the US because it effectively already is, and it seemed like an unnecessary provocation to do this. But I am starting to think it may well become necessary to prevent first cities, then states, from gradually supplanting English with Spanish and laying the foundations for a fundamental division of our country.

Let me be very clear: For me, this is not a racial issue. America is a better place because of its ethnic diversity. What we must avoid though, is creating a linguistic, economic, political, and cultural divide that breaks down along geographic lines.

Posted in Foreign Affairs, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »