Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

BOSS TRUMP

December 14, 2015

We have a new Teflon Don. The resilience of John Gotti may be responsible for the coining of the nickname, but the old mob boss is now a whisper in history to the shout that’s known as Donald Trump. And arguably, Trump is the more deadly.

 

Few people, myself included, anticipated the staying power of the new Teflon Don. I’d assumed that his refreshing bluntness (read: bah, humbug to political correctness), his financial independence immunizing him to the demands of special interests, and his outsider status burnished by an astute business knowledge often lacking in career politicians, would fuel an ascent that would, however, fizzle in weeks to months–just as Republican candidate after candidate rose and fell in succession during the prior presidential election. A barrage of self-launched anti-Trump missiles would inevitably bring the campaign crashing back to Earth. Well, like so many others, I was wrong.

 

His most recent missile, supporting a moratorium on all Muslims entering the U.S. has, if anything, increased his poll numbers. My assumption that 75% of the conservative and right-of-center independents were just biding their time, waiting for another candidate to gain enough traction, may still be correct, but may now be only 70%–and falling.

 

I hate political correctness. I hate arrogant Washington insiders with about as much understanding of economics as Stalin. I hate the ineffective prosecuting of the terrorist threat and ineffectual protection of our borders. But I never thought anger would so cloud the sensorium of the electorate as to believe that a man with bull-in-a-china-shop diplomacy skills should serve as the international face of the U.S. And I don’t care if he gets Mexico to pay for the wall (although that would be a nice perk). But the true danger is making him the face of the Republican Party.

 

Now, I consider myself a conservative but only grudgingly associate with the GOP, which more often than not is as embarrassing as the Democrat Party. However, we remain a two-party system and the only alternative is Hillary. Trump’s antics give fuel to the specious arguments that conservatives are all racist, bigoted shills for the wealthy. While Trump will have no impact on the entrenched beliefs of the far left, my fear is that he’ll dramatically influence the undecided independents and the low-information crowd that arguably decide the election to move to Hillary’s camp, and cause many conservatives to stay home on election day. And this would spell disaster for our country and possibly set back conservatism for decades. No wonder the liberal media can’t get enough of him (they gave him more coverage this past week than the San Bernadino terrorist attack).

 

I still think it likely that Trump will implode, but I’m becoming less certain of that outcome with each passing week.

 

After all, he is the Teflon Don.

 

THE BAD PARENT

December 10, 2012

I’ve had conversations with parties of opposing views that seem to think a job is a job, whether it be in the public or the private sector. After all, what’s the difference between someone getting a paycheck for a service provided through government employment and that same service through a company in the private sector?

Plenty.

The government, by virtue of its ability to legislate, shields itself from market forces, rather than operating within them. It can, for a while, manipulate the marketplace by printing, borrowing, and stealing (legally, of course, through fees and taxes). Hence the inflated retirement benefits that are driving all our governments at all levels to the brink of bankruptcy. We’re like one big, bloated General Motors, with the exception that no one exists to bail us out if (and I fear it’s when) we fail. Many people have become so used to these ploys that have seemed so successful or decades that they think it can go on forever. They also point to the corruption in the private sector as justification for growing the government slice of the economy, failing to recognize that crony capitalism that aids and abets this bad behavior is government-mediated. How many people in the street really know that the Dodd-Frank legislation, 800 pages of directions for more regulations, defines the big banks as “systemic” and therefore “too big to fail,” providing them with government (read: taxpayer) guarantees? This enables them to borrow at lower rates than their small brethren, giving them the edge they need to perpetuate the precarious status quo. Almost all governmental good intentions have toxic unintended consequences.

The marketplace can be a cruel mistress, but left to its own devices it is self-correcting. Governments can’t beat it. Delaying a tremor only leads to an earthquake down the line. That’s not to say that bad behavior shouldn’t be monitored and punished. Government policy, however, goes well beyond this, trying to manipulate market forces and pick winners and losers. The only real losers, ultimately, are the American people.

Currently, the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over how to deal with the upcoming “fiscal cliff.” In a bygone era the ruling class placed politics above the public good, but were loathe to admit it. In this new, progressive society, they revel in it. To wit: Zerlina Maxwell, a Democratic strategist, has suggested that Republicans put forth their idea for the entitlement cuts, as Democrats have already put their piece, the tax rate increases, on the table. This seems to parallel the president’s approach to date in his dealings with the legislature. The administration taxes the top one percent, a populist move (that generates little revenue), and requires the Republicans to do the heavy lifting—define the unpopular entitlement cuts that must happen if any hope of reversing the economic decline and paying off the burgeoning debt is to occur. This is a politically unbeatable “good parent/bad parent” strategy for the Democrats. One tells the child he can watch TV and play on the X-box and the other makes him eat his broccoli and clean his room. Bad parenting, it seems, wins votes.

It just doesn’t pay the bills.

WHERE’S THE MONEY?

March 8, 2010

As the President and Congress move closer toward passing the unpopular health care reform bill, the New York Times reported last month that “virtually every state is making or considering substantial cuts in Medicaid, even as Democrats push to add 15 million people to the rolls.” The Washington Post reported that “because the program is large and expensive, the spurt in Medicaid caseloads has produced far more damaging effects on state budgets than” food stamps or welfare benefits.” On the cost-cutting side, The Boston Globe editorialized that “Fear of intrusion in the doctor-patient relationship so inhibits insurers that they are shunning one of the most obvious ways to cut medical costs: Avoiding costly procedures when they are proven to do no good.” They cited a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study which found that “doctors could save $5 billion a year by treating patients with chest pain with drugs rather than surgically inserted stents” which “has been largely ignored.” The Globe suggests that “the government should give the medical profession the impetus to determine the most effective treatments for a range of ailments by establishing committees to determine the best practices.”

On the personal front, I’ve marveled at the burgeoning age of my patients. A few days ago I saw a 90 year-old, and 84 year-old, and a 94 year-old in succession, and hardly a day goes by now where one of my octogenarians doesn’t present to the emergency room somewhere in atrial fibrillation, a rapid, irregular heart rhythm that is becoming epidemic. The ability to live long enough to glut the health care system is testimony to the success of out ability to manage, and modulate, the many chronic ailments we haven’t yet learned to cure.

While the Democrats argue that, when presented with pieces of the proposed health care legislation (such as immunity from denial of pre-existing conditions by the insurers, and portability of insurance), their constituents give universal approval. This fuels their arguments that the overwhelmingly negative reception by the voters to the legislation is simply a manifestation of the distortion of the facts promulgated by the Republicans. But I think the politicos (intentionally?) underestimate the collective wisdom of the people. The people know in their hearts you don’t get “something for nothing,” and the addition of millions to the rolls will add billions to the cost. They also know that health care reform is needed and inevitable, but the current proposal, as I’m hearing ad nauseam in the media, is “a dog that won’t hunt.”

The only way to get more “bang for the buck” is to change practice patterns, and increase competition. I’ve suggested ways this can be accomplished in prior posts. I welcome other innovative ideas.

Addendum: In my last post I noted that Medicare reimbursement was slated to be reduced by 21% in March 1st. In the interest of full disclosure, this cut has been placed on hold. It has not been repealed. The jury remains out on what the outcome will be.