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Eternal Vigilance - Price of Freedom

Discussion in 'Legal & Political Archive' started by longcolt, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. longcolt

    longcolt Zephyrhills, FL Active Member

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    Interesting article that makes some good points!

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010
    by Thomas Sowell


    If eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, incessant distractions are the way that politicians take away our freedoms, in order to enhance their own power and longevity in office. Dire alarms and heady crusades are among the many distractions of our attention from the ever increasing ways that government finds to take away more of our money and more of our freedom.

    Magicians have long known that distracting an audience is the key to creating the illusion of magic. It is also the key to political magic.

    Alarms ranging from "overpopulation" to "global warming" and crusades ranging from "affordable housing" to "universal health care" have been among the distractions of political magicians. But few distractions have had such a long and impressive political track record as getting people to resent and, if necessary, hate other people.

    The most politically effective totalitarian systems have gotten people to give up their own freedom in order to vent their resentment or hatred at other people-- under Communism, the capitalists; under Nazis, the Jews.

    Under extremist Islamic regimes today, hatred is directed at the infidels in general and the "great Satan," the United States, in particular. There some people have been induced to give up not only their freedom but even their lives, in order to strike a blow against those they have been taught to hate.

    We have not yet reached these levels of hostility, but those who are taking away our freedoms, bit by bit, on the installment plan, have been incessantly supplying us with people to resent.

    One of the most audacious attempts to take away our freedom to live our lives as we see fit has been the so-called "health care reform" bills that were being rushed through Congress before either the public or the members of Congress themselves had a chance to discover all that was in it.

    For this, we were taught to resent doctors, insurance companies and even people with "Cadillac health insurance plans," who were to be singled out for special taxes. Meanwhile, our freedom to make our own medical decisions-- on which life and death can depend-- was to be quietly taken from us and transferred to our betters in Washington. Only the recent Massachusetts election results have put that on hold.

    Another dangerous power toward which we are moving, bit by bit, on the installment plan, is the power of politicians to tell people what their incomes can and cannot be. Here the resentment is being directed against "the rich."

    The distracting phrases here include "obscene" wealth and "unconscionable" profits. But, if we stop and think about it-- which politicians don't expect us to-- what is obscene about wealth? Wouldn't we consider it great if every human being on earth had a billion dollars and lived in a place that could rival the Taj Mahal?

    Poverty is obscene. It is poverty that needs to be reduced--and increasing a country's productivity has done that far more widely than redistributing income by targeting "the rich."

    You can see the agenda behind the rhetoric when profits are called "unconscionable" but taxes never are, even when taxes take more than half of what someone has earned, or add much more to the prices we have to pay than profits do.

    The assumption that what A pays B is any business of C is an assumption that means a dangerous power being transferred to politicians to tell us all what incomes we can and cannot receive. It will not apply to everyone all at once. Like the income tax, which at first applied only to the truly rich, and then slowly but steadily moved down the income scale to hit the rest of us, the power to say what incomes people can be allowed to make will inevitably move down the income scale to make us all dependents and supplicants of politicians.

    The phrase "public servants" is increasingly misleading. They are well on their way to becoming public masters-- like aptly named White House "czars." The more they can get us all to resent those they designate, the more they can distract us from their increasing control of our own lives-- but only if we sell our freedom cheap. We can sell our birthright and not even get the mess of pottage.
    __________________
     
  2. mudnducs

    mudnducs Oregon City Member

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    Tom Sowell stands with guys like Victor Hanson, Mark Levin, Bruce Thornton, Milton Friedman, Fred Hayek.....giants of conservative thought in the 20th and 21st century.

    This is excellent stuff!
     
  3. Cougfan2

    Cougfan2 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    Those on the far left have found out that class warfare works and are using it at every turn.
     
  4. bugeye

    bugeye Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Countries that don't solve their problems die, and health care is a real problem, to say it is a distraction is absurd, this system is about 17% of our GDP, some distraction!

    So I guess the state of our health care system needs no reform as it represents freedom itself, sheesh. Like I have have any real choice, I have to go the to preferred providers and can't even find out how much anything is going to cost me let alone my insurance company, "hey were is the menu"? This country needs real health care reform, and not that BS bill the Senate managed to pass after they were primed with over 60 million dollars of health care money via the lobbys, to buy (assure) their rights to fleece us forever.

    I guess there is no problem with a system that costs each of us $8000 per year (that's everyone - even the people who aren't covered by insurance), when the rest of the developed world does it for $4000 each (half price and they cover everyone!). A system that provides emergency services for nearly everyone then haunts the people who can't pay with collectors while the rest of us, who do pay, cover them. Or one that allows the health insurance companies to take about 24% right off the top, when the actual work they are doing is simple adminstration that the gov can do for less than 10%.

    And as to what should be our concern, and not a distraction, it is the increase in corporate power as it molds itself seamlessly into the government by buying our elected representatives.

    And this line of his "The most politically effective totalitarian systems have gotten people to give up their own freedom in order to vent their resentment or hatred at other people-- under Communism, the capitalists; under Nazis, the Jews. "

    Yeap, and under lim-beck, that is just what is being done with progressives!

    And he poinst to the gov, but not to who is buying them, just another feature of the brainwashing you folks are getting from the right wing think tanks. "The money is your friend, you have no reason to fear them, they are buying congress for your own good, its to protect your freedom, this is what the founders intended, unlike the gov we don't want your money, we only exist to spread pure good" talk about a bunch of magicians!
     
  5. Cougfan2

    Cougfan2 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    This country needs real health care reform, and not that BS bill the Senate managed to pass after they were primed with over 60 million dollars of health care money via the lobbys, to buy (assure) their rights to fleece us forever.

    Agreed. I've never said we don't need health care reform, just not the current bill they're trying to shove down our throats.
     
  6. bugeye

    bugeye Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Agreed, but this is just the tip of the iceberg, the money now owns the gov, the repubs in both parties and the Senate Dems, it is like taxation without representation once again! Realistically, given the lack of public unity and the freedom the corps have to buy congress, there is no way that we can get any useful health care reform. Just one more thing we can't solve here because we have more sacred cows then India. The solution to this problem isn't hard, you have to have the will to kick all the players in the rear and tell them to cut costs or else. We need common antibiotics at the drug store just like the rest of the world does, "sorry doc you'll have to find another way to make your boat payment"! We need nurse practitioners to provide low cost front line services, also at the drug store. We need providers to stop doing unnecessary things because they have extra capacity and need more revenue. We need insurance companies to cut their overhead, cut out the BS and do the simple administration job your supposed to be doing. We need providers to become more efficient. We need tort reform so that more unneeded proceedures can be skipped.
     
  7. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Well said. Now understand that NONE of that wish list of yours was in that massive HC bill. All of those people who would have had to follow your wishes bought off any effect on themselves in secret closed door meetings at the Capitol and the White House.

    Those ideas you list are the conservatives' wishes.

    The Republicans want to scrap the existing mess and start over, doing just what you said and a few more things. One is requiring that insurance companies sell across state lines. Right now that's illegal so there's little competition in each state. The insurance companies bought that off behind closed doors too.

    Notice that NOTHING you listed requires a gov. health care program nor does any of it cost the taxpayers a dime. NONE of it gives up our individual freedoms to a socialized (socialists') program.

    Next thing I know you'll be voting for Sarah Palin or Ron Paul. :D
     
  8. longcolt

    longcolt Zephyrhills, FL Active Member

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    No one can deny that health care is a big issue. My wife alone pays over $700 per month to Blue Cross for her marginal plan due to a preexisting condition. She is retired and that payment is a major burden I can assure you.

    So we do need reform. But a national government run system smacks of socialism and I know the hidden cost of government systems in the UK, Canada and Europe. Its in the form of massive taxation, hidden in a way that few can determine the actual cost of the health care per individual. I can assure its a heck of a lot more than 8k per year. Plus if you have a real problem get in line for services. It may take a year to get a MRI to locate a cancer tumor, and by then you are dead. Thats a stretch I understand but it is a common occurrence in countries that have socialized medical care.

    There has to be a better way to spread the cost around to everyone and limit the profits of insurance companies and medical providers. Tort reform would be a good place to start. Elimination of pre existing condition enrollment issues.

    It would be cheaper if the government simply paid all the medical bills directly for uninsured folks or those that cannot afford insurance than for the government to build another huge Department of Health Care packed full of Union workers making 100K each with their Cadillac benefit packages.

    The current Medicare system, which is bankrupt, only pays a Doctor about 50% of the billed amount. So if they only have to pay 50% of the cost why are they bankrupt???
    Medicare is a perfect example of what will happen if the government gets its hooks into 1/6th of our economy. They will just add more and more people to control when you have to turn in your urine for monthly checking.

    They they will want you to wear a device to measure how much carbon you are exhaling and charge you for the excess over the norm. Soon oxygen will be taxed also so they can save the Polar bears. Sounds stupid, but then so is the whole concept of carbon credits and global warming and the Cap and Trade tax game.
     
  9. 2506

    2506 Seattle Well-Known Member

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    Medicare isn't bankrupt. Yet. I think it's 2019 or 2020 when that might happen.
     
  10. bugeye

    bugeye Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Sorry mate the Republicans want to tell you they want to do it, but that party is a solely owned property of whatever corporation thows the most quarters in their hats, sheesh. Also, the only thing on my list that Repubs have been down with is tort reform, and by the way they could have gotten that and more if they had played ball with the curent bill. Other than that the repubs are bound and determined to make sure we have the highest priced and least efficient delivery system in the world. The actual Republican plan is totally useless except for a few items that are allready in the current bill, except maybe for the idea of health care saving accounts but again you would have to sell that idea to private insurers, and that would be tough.

    Agreed the curent bill as pased by the Senate is bad, and we can't afford it, and the pay for itself stuff is just economic voodoo. That bill relies upon voluntary deals made by the admin to the insurance, drug, and providers, and maybe they keep them and maybe they don't.
     
  11. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Please understand that there's never been a dime put away for Social Security or Medicare. The govt. spends all of it every year. The "fund" is only on paper.

    Miraculously, we "borrow" the money as it comes in and we "owe" the money to "ourselves" after we've spent it. Ain't that quaint? Don't try that at home. Don't try that in business either because it's called a Ponzi scheme.

    This "fund" which is to "run out" is just debt we owe to ourselves. It's already gone.

    The national debt right now is said to be about 12xx trillion dollars but they "forget" what our unfunded liabilities are for medicare, medicaid and social security. If you add all of that in, it's closer to $100 trillion.

    Now, if you figure just the $12 trillion (just approved to go to $14 trillion) that's about $40,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. Every new baby is born owing more than $40k!!

    But if you look at the whole of the unfunded liabilities - the whole $100 trillion, it's more like $340,000 per person, or about $1.4 million for a family of four. We owe that. The real truth is that every new baby born today is born owing $340,000!

    Get worried. Next year the first of the baby boomers turns 65. There are exactly 20 years of baby boomers to come. As we retire and stop producing, we stop paying taxes and start collecting SS and Medicare. Costs go way up as government tax income falls off.

    Right now our deficits are putting each person farther in debt (climbing national debt) about $6500 per year, or about $26,000 for a family of four. That's just the budget, not the additional SS, medicare and medicaid money they are also "borrowing" from us and for us.

    Get ready. They have screwed us and it won't work.
     
  12. bugeye

    bugeye Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Medicare isn't bankrupt, where did you get that info? Medicare and Medicade pay a fraction of the bill just like my Blue Cross does. Even given you fears of government inefficiency Medicare - Medicade runs on a 3% overhead. Of course other parts of the gov do some services for them like the IRS who does the collections, still they are running way under 10% overhead compared to about 24% for private insurance companies. Of course big insurance has to sell itself, and give big bonus money to executives and of course requires plenty of our hard earned bucks to buy congress.....

    So give efficiency its due, as bad as the gov may be they are more than twice as efficent as health care insurance than private enterprise. The government run insurance programs are the largest in the country, and they are plenty expensive as they cover the elderly and infirm (the most expensive ones to provide services for). The gov gets away with paying a low percentage of what is billed because they are the 500 pound gorilla in the insurance game. They could do this if they were the insurer for the rest of us too, however, I think that private enterprise could provide a low overhead plans if they knew it was either that or the hi way. One thing that might be interesting is for groups of our employers, who pay most of this insurance anyway, to throw the money into a pool and cover themselves, they should easily be able to run with an even lower overhead than 10%. Really there is good money to be made even being efficient, however, I'm sure the vested insurance giants will pay off to prevent that too. Money = Power, and big insurance is stealing about 200 billion a year from our misery!
     
  13. slingshot1943

    slingshot1943 salem or Well-Known Member

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    I think everyone knows what Gunner is talking about. The people who ignor it and claim other wise amaze me!
     
  14. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Think of what GM did to bankrupt itself. It made agreements to pay out generous pensions, even including the continuation of health care insurance. Its retired workers don't even have to use medicare.

    However, it didn't fully fund that upcoming liability. The company was growing and they expected to pay for it out of future profits.

    When they actually started shrinking in size, and having far fewer active employees, they wound up with more people on the generous retirement program than they had working!

    We all know that it was plain news during the "bailout" that GM had $100 billion in unfunded retirement liabilities even though the total stock in the company was worth less than $1 billion!!!!!!

    How can someone who's worth less than $1 bil and is losing money ever pay $100 bil in retirement liabilities? Of course they couldn't and we are bailing them out as an alternative to bankruptcy.

    Who's going to bail out the US in the next few years as we find ourselves in the same boat that GM did - too many people taking from the system and not enough people paying in?

    There is no money set aside for SS, medicare etc. for the retirees who's ranks are about to swell. The money in the "trust fund" has been borrowed and spent. It's all gone and we can't afford to pay it back.
     
  15. bugeye

    bugeye Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Gunner, do you have any opinons on the 1000 trillion dollar derviatives trade. because you don't seem to be worried about that at all. You do know it was that trade that nearly took us to financial ground zero 18 months ago, don't you?
     
  16. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    You have some serious misconceptions. First, the only way that medicare and medicaid get away with paying less to hospitals is by giving them grants for equipment and expansion, etc. It's the same way they blackmail others. "If you take this money then you must..."

    Many private doctors already won't accept medicaid patients and some won't accept medicare patients because they don't pay enough. Hospitals accept them for the reasons I stated.

    Hospitals are required to accept any patient, not just for the emergency room but for real time care until the patient is stabilized. That's the trade-off for accepting federal grants. It looks on the one hand as if the rates are low, but add in the grants which aren't enumerated and you could get the real number. The government loves fuzzy math.

    We all know that poor people without insurance use hospital emergency rooms for their primary care because it's "free." So is their hospital room and all care if they are indigent.

    Did you ever wonder why all hospitals have gone to hiring their own staff of doctors instead of relying on community doctors? It's because they are required to give that care and community doctors won't come running for free. Doctors who visit their patients in the hospital are visiting paying patients.

    So many costs are hidden and juggled that it would boggle your mind.

    Don't give me any sass. My wife is the administrator of a 450 bed hospital and this is often the dinner subject.
     
  17. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Your number isn't correct, but the concept is.

    1. The "Community Reinvestment Act" caused lenders to make home loans, most often with low starting variable rates, to people who couldn't afford them. This was a "feel good - everyone is entitled to own a home" government mandate. It was primarily funded by Freddie/Fannie who were quasi-governmental entities.

    2. As "everyone" could now afford a home demand skyrocketed and so did prices. Wall Street began to package those phony loans and sell them worldwide to investors as "good" loans. Those "derivatives" became a hot seller as housing prices rose and the underlying collateral seemed to be increasing.

    3. A combination of a recession and variable rate interest deadlines began to start causing foreclosures. The market dried up and home prices began to fall, partly caused by so many foreclosures for sale at distressed prices by lenders. The snowball was going in the other direction.

    4. The value of risk investments which were backed by those home loans began to collapse. Every bank, Wall Street firm, private investor and foreign investor saw the value of those packaged "assets" collapse. Banks and Wall Street firms were required to write the value of those packages down to their true new value. That act is called "mark to market" or mark the price on your financial statement to its actual market value. As firms did that, their assets disappeared and they were broke. Banks didn't have enough reserves to qualify as banks.

    5. In order to bail out Wall Street and the banks, a temporary "bailout" amount was quickly arranged by Bush and the Fed just before Bush left office, I'm sure you recall. It wasn't nearly enough but it put a finger in the dam, if you will. Beyond that the Federal Reserve quietly began buying that paper by the trillions and I believe that's what you may have been referring to. NO one can find out how much the Fed pumped in. In the news recently you'll recall that some congressman wanted an audit of the Fed and the Fed - a private entity - refused. They are outside of our control. We don't know how much they "created."

    No one in the public or private sector knows. It's a "private" bank but WE owe that money! They have all the power to create our money or borrow on our behalf, but no accountability to us! They aren't part of our government!

    Now, don't give me any sass. In my first life I was an auditor and other things including a branch manager and head office operations officer for the then largest bank in Oregon - The First National Bank of Oregon before they sold out to Wells Fargo.

    This seasoned bank auditor is telling you we've screwed the pooch.
     
  18. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Yep, it's bad. The repubs are asking to scrap it totally and start over with some basics we've been talking about and build from there. For one thing, they are afraid of these huge debts and deficits we have which we already can't afford.
     
  19. bugeye

    bugeye Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, that is some very interesting information.
    However my argument was made on the basis of things you seem to not take issue with.
    I take it your are agreeing with what I said about medicare - cade not being bankrupt?
    I also take it that you didn't disagree with the statments I made about overhead costs of Medicare - cade compared to private insurance companies. The grants and reduced payment programs that you mentioned are not part of overhead, they would be part of operating costs.
    I also take it your agreeing that private insurers limit the amount they will allow a provider to charge for a proceedure. It would be good to know how much less care-cade pay for similar services, maybe someday I'll have time to do that research.
    And I guess you can't find the menu for the price of services either, even though there is a menu based on the max the insurers will allow a provider to charge for services.
    So, apparently I can't really have that many misconceptions about the scope of my argument.

    i really haven't looked deeply into the operating costs of medicare - cade other than the huge figure in the federal budget, to come up with some good relative performance vs. the privates from that complexity would be tough. If I remember last time I took the budget figure and divided it by the number of served people it came out at about $8500 each, or just about what it costs to insure the average person, and that seemed pretty good since they are covering the old and infirm or basically the people no private health care insurance company would cover for a reasonable rate. I wonder if the grants you speak of are in that part of the federal budget. Interesting stuff.
     
  20. bugeye

    bugeye Oregon Well-Known Member

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    You need to find out about the dervatives market!

    http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/its_the_derivatives.php

    Derviates play no role in your description of the fiasco, with no role assigned to Lehman Brothers or to AIG who was sitting on over 50 billion in derviates that needed to be paid out instantly to avoid bankrupcy after Lehman fell. So, your really not looking at dervatives and the CDS at all in your analysis. The CDS is the real reason that the gov jumped in with TARP to stop the finacials from falling over like dominos. Lehman is also an interesting case, they were so leveraged they were one slight mistep away from falling for years before they did. The lack of government regulation of these financials continues until this day, and even Milton Freidman said he was wrong when he said they didn't need regulation in 1999.

    This is the progression I see,

    1. The fed started loaning out dollars for just about no interest after 9/11 to stimulate the economy, something they have done since.

    2. Since the fed rate was low government bonds (that finance the defecits) had to be lower, because you really wouldn't want member banks to be able to simply make a profit off of getting money from the fed and buying government bonds with it.

    3. So, the safe money from all over the world stopped buying gov bonds and started looking for another safe investment.

    3. Investment banks started buying mortgages and bundeling them up into huge bonds that the safe money bought as they had good ratings and seemed safe. They also bought credit default swaps on these bonds that insured that the buyer would never loose a dime on them. These CDS's were issued by investment banks who set aside not a penny to cover them in the event of a fall. Other parties, who didn't even own the security were allowed to buy CDS's too and the unregulated marked sold them. This is like buying fire insurance on your neighbors house and is gambling on a scale that makes Vegas an insect. This system cascaded out of control and demanded an unsustainable rate of mortages, with lots of money to be thrown at getting them, and industry responded.

    Then we get to your 2, the Community Investment from 1977 had little impact on this fiasco as it's scope was only in a few urban areas, and not in the countrywide (pun intended) propagation of inflated housing. It just seems like some people have to blame the gov for everything and will hold the Countrywide's, Lehmans, Goldman's, Citi's, AIG's, Washington Mutual's, Watchovia's, BOA's, ENRON's, LTCM's , accountable for nothing. What does get picked on is Freddie Mac that was started by the Gov to compete with Fannie May, as fannie once had a near monopoly on buying mortages from the issuing institutions.

    The unregulated CDS is the greatest danger to the worlds financial system, it is like an H bomb to the deficts A bomb.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010