#Obamacare: more proof that liberals don’t “get” economics

April 22, 2014
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Obamacare insurance commissioner

Sometimes I think one of the greatest acts of charity I could perform would be to buy progressives each a copy of Thomas Sowell’s “Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy,” because they clearly were not paying attention in high school or college:

The practice of offering relatively inexpensive health plans with bare-bones provider networks has created tension between making health care affordable and keeping it accessible. It’s set to come to a head this week in Olympia.

The growth of “narrow networks” in Washington comes as the Affordable Care Act limits the ability of insurance companies to control their costs. That’s made it harder to offer plans at a range of prices — something the companies want to do as they compete for comparison shoppers on the health exchanges.

Many companies figured out they could sell cheaper plans that offer consumers fewer choices of where to get care. That caught some consumers, and Washington’s insurance commissioner, by surprise.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler says companies need to justify those narrow networks.

Mr. Kreidler wants insurance companies to prove they need to narrow their networks; after all, under Obamacare, they’re not really allowed to run their own businesses anymore. So he’s proposing new rules, regulations, and reporting requirements that have even the people running Washington’s exchange screaming that this will increase costs to the consumer and hinder companies from providing effective service. Kreidler, however, like many other fans of bureaucracy, just doesn’t get it:

Kreidler says he doesn’t believe prices will increase. He sees himself as walking a fine line, but with his compass oriented decidedly toward the consumer.

“Oriented” like a missile aimed straight at their wallets, he means.

Moe Lane provides a succinct explanation of why, to put it kindly, Mr. Kreidler’s belief is… “ignorant:”

There are three major elements to healthcare plan decisions:

  • Cost: How much does it cost per month or year, just to have it?
  • Deductible: How much does the consumer have to kick in for any given procedure?
  • Network: Who is willing to take you on as a patient, if you use that plan?

With me so far?  Good.  What Obamacare does is turn all of this into a zero-sum game: it mandates an across-the-board, let’s-slap-something-together, we-don’t-care-about-your-stinking-special-circumstances product and doesn’t really care how insurers and consumers cope with the situation.  So the insurers are left with a quandary: if they want to keep the networks intact, thanks to the various mandated procedures and general bureaucratic detritus either the total cost will go up, individual plan deductibles will, or both. And the same is true for the other two categories: push one down and the other two rise. All the good intentions in the world will not alter this calculation.

To use another example, the three legs of Obamacare mentioned above are like a balloon: squeeze one portion, and another must expand. It’s a law of physics, just as the cost to do business and the consequent price of insurance policies are subject to immutable laws of economics.

But technocrats like Mike Kreidler think they can control complex economies with a flourish of their pen, without there being any consequences for others. Perhaps along with a good book on economics, he should learn a lesson in humility and study the parable of King Canute.

Meanwhile, Washington voters should think of Mr. Kreidler and his “compass” as their premiums go up. They elected him with 58% of the vote in 2012; 2016 would be a good time to undo that mistake.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Ted Cruz explains #Obamacare’s success in one graphic

April 13, 2014
"Your MEA shop steward"

“Obamacare salesman on the job”

With the recent announcement of more than seven million sign-ups for Obamacare, the administration and its supporters have been running around shouting “Success! SUCCESS!!”, as if an enrollment figure means that the implementation of the law itself, with its myriad problems (for example) (1), will be just a matter of working “the bugs” out.

Nevertheless, seven million was the administration’s goal, and they met it. So, how does one explain this victory? How did they do it?

Senator Ted Cruz is ready with the answer:

obamacare broken window bastiat ted cruz

Apparently the good Senator is a student of Frederic Bastiat’s “Parable of the broken window.” Would that the rest of Congress were.

Footnote:
(1) For lots more, check out my Obamacare archives.

via Dan Mitchell

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


From Wyoming to New York: America’s Best and Worst States for Tax

April 5, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’m very disappointed in my beloved California; we’re only #4 on this list. Surely we can do better and drive more people and jobs away!

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Last August, I shared a fascinating map from the Tax Foundation.

It showed which states have chased away taxable income and which ones have attracted more taxpayers (along with their taxable income).

In other words, what are the “Golden Geese” doing with their money?

Well, the obvious and unsurprising answer is that they are escaping high-tax states and moving to states that aren’t quite so greedy.

Now we have another map from the Tax Foundation. They’ve just released the latest data on state and local tax burdens as a share of state income. Because of lags in data, we’re looking at 2011 numbers, but that’s not important. The main thing is to notice that the states with the highest tax burdens are very much correlated with the states that suffered the great loss of taxable income.

State-Local Tax

You can tell a few additional things just by looking at the…

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#Obamacare to cost employers more than $5,000 per employee

April 2, 2014

 

"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

The American Health Policy Institute did something unusual: rather than estimate the effects of Obamacare from the outside, they went to 100 large employers and asked the directly what their expected costs would be over the next ten years. The results were eye-opening — and disturbing:

Obamacare will cost large companies between $4,800 and $5,900 more per employee and add hundreds of millions to their overhead, according to a new survey.

(…)

Factoring in the health care law’s added mandates, fees, and regulatory burdens, employers anticipate cost hikes between $163 million and $200 million in 2016, a 4.3 percent increase. By 2023, employers will be paying 8.4 percent more than “what they would otherwise be spending” for their employees’ health care.

In the next 10 years, the total cost of Obamacare to all large American employers is estimated to be from $151 billion to $186 billion, according to the study.

“This study is a c-suite diagnosis of how [the Affordable Care Act] ACA is shaping large employer behavior,” Tevi Troy, president of the American Health Policy Institute, said. “We don’t know yet precisely how employers will react, but the study shows that employers will have to make real changes or incur heavy costs, which means that the ACA will have a significant impact on those in employer-sponsored health care.”

While noting that some will say the results will “lead to more economical use of health care dollars,” the study questions whether the increase in health costs could bring the “end of the employer-sponsored health care system.”

I don’t think there’s any “may” about it: the perverse incentives of Obamacare scream at employers to save money by dumping their insurance plans, pay the fines instead, and let the employees try their luck on the exchanges. (And luck is what they’ll need.)

This, of course, is what was intended all along, part of the Obamacare Trojan Horse that Harry Reid admitted we’re all supposed to ride to the land of single-payer, state-run healthcare. Blowing up the existing health care and insurance industries, which most people were satisfied with, was all part of the plan.

We shall have a chance to comment on said plan next November. I, for one, am looking forward to it. Aren’t you?

Read the rest at the Free Beacon.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Greetings from Obamaland…Oops, I Mean Greece

March 29, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

It’s easy to mistake the two; Obama has us well down the same road.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

As much as I condemn American politicians for bad policy, things could be worse.

We could be Greek citizens, which would be very depressing. Indeed, you’ll understand why I put Obamaland in the title after you read today’s column.

Simply stated, Greece is a cesspool of statism. The people seem to be wonderful (at least outside of polling booths), but government intervention is pervasive and atrocious.

Here’s an example. As I was coming in a taxi from the airport to the city yesterday, we passed some sort of protest. There were a couple of hundred people at the rally and probably about 50 riot cops.

I naturally wondered about the situation, expecting that it was radical statists or some of the crazies from Golden Dawn. But the cab driver explained that it was pharmacists.

So why are pharmacists protesting? I found out from some of the locals at…

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Time for a Free-Market Postal System

March 25, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Revisiting one of my pet peeves: privatizing our hugely inefficient and money-losing postal service. In this case, Mitchell presents Britain’s success at doing just that.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

It’s not often that I agree with the Washington Post , but a government-run monopoly is not the best way to get mail delivered.

Moreover, it’s not often that I agree with the timid (and sometimes reprehensible) Tory-led government in the United Kingdom, but they just put the Royal Mail into the private sector. And that’s something deserving of loud applause.

Here’s a slice of the big news from the Financial Times.

The goal of privatising Royal Mail had defeated governments for 40 years. …Even prime minister Margaret Thatcher balked at the political risk of selling off a public service that carried the Queen’s head on its stamps. This time, the legislation went through parliament.

My Cato colleague, Chris Edwards, is suitably impressed.

Here’s some of what he wrote for Cato-at-Liberty.

Britain privatized its Royal Mail in 2013, proceeding with an initial public offering of shares that raised about…

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Got cancer? Got #Obamacare? Good luck…

March 19, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Among the many “benefits” brought to us by the Affordable Care Act has been the narrowing of provider networks. To deal with increased costs brought on by Obamacare’s increased coverage mandates, insurance companies are offering fewer doctors and hospitals on their approved lists. For many people, this has meant losing access to the physicians they liked, contra President Obama’s oft-repeated promise lie.

If you’re a cancer patient, you have a particular problem. We’ve met Edie Sundby, a stage-4 cancer sufferer who’s losing her provider network, thanks to Obamacare, but what if you were able to keep your doctors, but needed specialized or experimental treatment?

Under Obamacare, good luck:

Some of America’s best cancer hospitals are off-limits to many of the people now signing up for coverage under the nation’s new health care program.

Doctors and administrators say they’re concerned. So are some state insurance regulators.

An Associated Press survey found examples coast to coast. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is excluded by five out of eight insurers in Washington’s insurance exchange. MD Anderson Cancer Center says it’s in less than half of the plans in the Houston area. Memorial Sloan-Kettering is included by two of nine insurers in New York City and has out-of-network agreements with two more.

In all, only four of 19 nationally recognized comprehensive cancer centers that responded to AP’s survey said patients have access through all the insurance companies in their states’ exchanges.

Not too long ago insurance companies would have been vying to offer access to renowned cancer centers, said Dan Mendelson, CEO of the market research firm Avalere Health. Now the focus is on costs.

This is a marked deterioration of access to the premier cancer centers for people who are signing up for these plans,” Mendelson said.

Those patients may not be able get the most advanced treatment, including clinical trials of new medications.

Emphasis added.

The article mentions another problem, one that’s been noted since the Obamacare web sites went online: it’s hard to tell if the physician and hospital you want are included in the plan you’re looking at. Thus someone in Los Angeles  may sign up thinking they have access to a top-notch cancer facility, such as Cedars-Sinai, only to discover the truth after they develop cancer. Their only options then are to go elsewhere (if there is an “elsewhere”) or pay out of pocket, which may be financially devastating or downright impossible.

Later on, the writer quotes officials who feel these are not serious problems, that they can be worked out, but what about the people who need treatment now and used to be able to get it under the old system? Though the large insurance companies were nothing better than rent-seeking collaborators in Obamacare, I’m not blaming them for this; they’re just acting rationally in the face of increased costs, a problem created by government.

At the end, the writers report that the Obama administration has promised “closer scrutiny” of insurance companies, especially for cancer care, presumably to include the design of provider networks. Great. So the solution to a problem created by regulation will inevitably be more regulation, which will make the problem worse and a genuine solution more difficult, not easier. Here’s the process:

  1. Government creates a problem through bad regulation.
  2. Businesses respond logically to the problem, irking consumers.
  3. Consumers complain about the response.
  4. Government proposes more bad regulation to deal with the response, ignoring the core problem government itself created and creating new ones.

Rinse and repeat.

Meanwhile, the poor cancer sufferer keeps on suffering.

Thanks, Obamacare!

via Dana Loesch

RELATED: In the Elections Have Consequences category, Colorado Mountain College is cutting back on hours for part-time faculty to avoid the expensive new employer mandates under Obamacare. I wonder how many voted for Obama? Whoever you are, congratulations. You got what you voted for. (h/t Conservative Intelligence Briefing)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Sweden, Spending Restraint, and the Benefits of Obeying Fiscal Policy’s Golden Rule

March 16, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

It’s really kind of embarrassing to admit the world’s most successful capitalist nation in history could learn a thing or two about sound public fiscal policy from what was once the poster-child nation of Social Democracy. But useful, like many such humblings. One hopes our leaders in DC will learn it well.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

When I first started working on fiscal policy in the 1980s, I never thought I would consider Sweden any sort of role model.

It was the quintessential cradle-to-grave welfare state, much loved on the left as an example for America to follow.

But Sweden suffered a severe economic shock in the early 1990s and policy makers were forced to rethink big government.

They’ve since implemented some positive reforms in the area of fiscal policy, along with other changes to liberalize the economy.

I even, much to my surprise, wrote a column in 2012 stating that it’s “Time to Follow Sweden’s Lead on Fiscal Policy.”

More specifically, I’m impressed that Swedish leaders have imposed some genuine fiscal restraint.

Here’s a chart, based on IMF data, showing that the country enjoyed a nine-year period where the burden of government spending grew by an average of 1.9 percent…

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Whether You Call it Socialism, Statism, Fascism, or Corporatism, Big Government Is Evil and Destructive

March 15, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

In one sense, it’s just arguing over terms, but I do think proper nomenclature is important to understanding. But Mitchell has a point that “Socialism” and “Fascism” are too emotionally charged and may instead impede understanding. “Statism” is a good, neutral noun to use in their place, though I also like Goldberg’s (from H.G. Wells) “Liberal Fascism.”

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Regular readers may have noticed that I generally say that advocates of big government are “statists.”

I could call them “liberals,” but I don’t like that using that term since the early advocates of economic and personal liberty were “classical liberals” such as Adam Smith, John Locke, and Jean-Baptiste Say. And proponents of these ideas are still called “liberals” in Europe and Australia.

I could call them “socialists,” but I don’t think that’s technically accurate since the theory is based on government ownership of the means of production. This is why I’ve been in the strange position of defending Obama when some folks have used the S word to describe him.

I could call them “fascists,” which Thomas Sowell explains is the most accurate way of describing the modern left’s economic ideology, but that term also implies racism. But while leftists sometimes support policies that hurt minorities

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The War on Poverty Has Made a Difference…but the Wrong Kind

March 2, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

The Left likes to talk about ending the “war on drugs,” and may well have a valid point. I just wish they’d also be open to ending the “war on poverty,” which has done nothing but trap people in poverty. Have a look at the original post for a chart that shows what might have happened with poverty in America, if government hadn’t become involved.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

On several occasions, I’ve observed that the poverty rate in America was steadily falling , but that progress came to a halt in the mid-1960s when the government declared a War on Poverty.

And I almost always included a chart showing the annual poverty rate over several decades.

Moreover, I posted graphs showing how government programs trap people in dependency because of very high implicit marginal tax rates. And that’s true in other nations as well.

But it didn’t matter how many times I revisited this issue, I was never clever enough to look at the poverty-rate data to estimate what would have happened if the federal government hadn’t become involved.

Fortunately, John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis was insightful enough to fill the breach. He shows that the War on Poverty has made a big difference. But in the wrong way.

Poverty Goodman

Here’s some of what John…

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Minimum Wage: West Virginia Democrats exempt themselves

February 28, 2014

500px-Flag_of_West_Virginia.svg

Weird, isn’t it? If having the state mandate higher and higher wages for everyone is such a good idea, why on Earth would WV House Democrats vote to exempt themselves from a law being imposed on everyone else?

Last week, the Democrat controlled House in West Virginia passed legislation raising the state’s minimum wage to $8.75 an hour, $1.50 higher than the federal minimum wage. The action is part of a nation-wide effort by Democrats to make a minimum wage increase central to their platform for the midterm elections. The increase didn’t effect all workers, though. Democrats exempted many of their own staff from the wage hike. Businesses may have to pay the higher wages, but the legislature will avoid many of the consequences. 

Why, it’s almost as if West Virginia Democrats didn’t believe in private what they were preaching in public.

But we all know that can’t be.

via reader Lance

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Minimum Wage Laws: Sabotaging the Ladder of Economic Opportunity

February 23, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

The only people who truly benefit from minimum wage increases are union bosses, who salivate at the prospect of more dues coming in, money they can use to buy legislators.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

If I banged my head against the wall every time politicians advocated bad policy in Washington – which is a tempting impulse, I would have been institutionalized because of brain damage a long time ago.

But it’s difficult to maintain my self control when I think about minimum wage laws.

All sentient human beings should know higher minimum wage laws will mean more unemployment. Just ask them, for instance, what would happen if the minimum wage was raised to $100 per hour. Once they admit that would lead to massive job losses, they’ve accepted the principle and it’s simply an empirical issue of figuring out how many jobs are lost when the minimum wage is $75, $50, $20, $10, $6, etc.

At the risk of stating the obvious, businesses seek to make money and they won’t hire somebody who can only produce $6 of value per hour if…

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LA restaurant imposes surcharge to pay for #Obamacare

February 18, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

What is it we like to say, folks? That’s right, “Elections have consequences!” When you vote for a party that insists against all sound reason on passing legislation that raises a business’ cost, said business is likely to pass that cost along to the consumer — us.

It’s called economics, progressives. You should acquaint yourselves with it, sometime.

Anyway, a hot new Los Angeles restaurant, Republique (1), has added a 3% surcharge to all tickets to cover the cost of their new, more expensive, Obamacare-mandated insurance:

Republique has taken heat from patrons for the tacked-on cost, but managing partner Bill Chait told Southern California Public Radio there is a method behind the madness.

The restaurant wanted its 80-plus workers to be full-time workers, but the health care law in the coming years will require large employers to provide health coverage to its full-timers or pay fines.

Although the Obama administration has delayed the mandate for companies of 50 to 99 employees to 2016, critics say the rule is forcing employers to trim payroll or move people to part-time status ahead of time.

From there, employees can fend for themselves on new insurance exchanges set up under Obamacare.

“There’s an inherent incentive to put people in the exchanges and not through the restaurant and their employers if they’re part-time employees,” Mr. Chait told SCPR.

But that wasn’t good enough for Mr. Chait or chef Walter Manzke.

Chait and Manzke decided that they needed full-time staff to provide the best service possible to their customers, and that in turn meant paying more for insurance. And that in its turn lead to the decision to charge customers more. All of these are reasonable business decisions, and I have no problem with Chait and Manzke’s decision. It’s their business, their property. And they seem to have made their peace with it. (2)

(Or maybe they don’t want to tick off their trendy, mostly liberal customers by complaining…)

What I do have a problem with is government forcing them to make a choice that leads to higher prices for consumers, especially when it’s clearer every day that this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law, which a majority of the nation has never wanted and which was shoved down our throats, is not going to do a bloody thing it promised and in fact is going to make things worse. (For the latest example…)

Obamacare doesn’t just need to be repealed. It needs to be staked and buried under a crossroads at midnight.

Here’s a video report from KCAL 9.

via The Right Scoop.

Footnote:
(1) No menu online? Dudes, really?
(2) You can have fun watching customers argue with each other over the surcharge in their Yelp reviews.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


A Primer on the Laffer Curve to Help Understand Why Obama’s Class-Warfare Tax Policy Won’t Work

February 7, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Busy day today, but this should give readers some good ammunition against nitwits preaching redistributionism and class warfare.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

My main goal for fiscal policy is shrinking the size and scope of the federal government and lowering the burden of government spending.

But I’m also motivated by a desire for better tax policy, which means lower tax rates, less double taxation, and fewer corrupting loopholes and other distortions.

One of the big obstacles to good tax policy is that many statists think that higher tax rates on the rich are a simple and easy way of financing bigger government.

I’ve tried to explain that soak-the-rich tax policies won’t work because upper-income taxpayers have considerable ability to change the timing, level, and composition of their income. Simply stated, when the tax rate goes up, their taxable income goes down.

And that means it’s not clear whether higher tax rates lead to more revenue or less revenue. This is the underlying principle of the Laffer Curve.

For…

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#Obamacare: Los Angeles residents turned away at the doctor’s office

February 6, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

This is a story happening all across the country, and it is all due to the chaos caused by Democrats and their precious healthcare “reform:”

After overcoming website glitches (1) and long waits to get Obamacare, some patients are now running into frustrating new roadblocks at the doctor’s office.

A month into the most sweeping changes to healthcare in half a century, people are having trouble finding doctors at all, getting faulty information on which ones are covered and receiving little help from insurers swamped by new business.

Experts have warned for months that the logjam was inevitable. But the extent of the problems is taking by surprise many patients — and even doctors — as frustrations mount.

Aliso Viejo resident Danielle Nelson said Anthem Blue Cross promised half a dozen times that her oncologists would be covered under her new policy. She was diagnosed last year with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and discovered a suspicious lump near her jaw in early January.

But when she went to her oncologist’s office, she promptly encountered a bright orange sign saying that Covered California plans are not accepted.

“I’m a complete fan of the Affordable Care Act, but now I can’t sleep at night,” Nelson said. “I can’t imagine this is how President Obama wanted it to happen.”

That last reminds me of what peasants in Russia used to say about the Tsar: “It can’t be the Tsar’s will our lives are so bad; it must be his evil advisers! If only the Good Father knew, he’d fix everything!” Hopefully the scales of naivete will fall from Ms. Nelson’s eyes, soon.

It’s true there are serious problems with inaccurate information about which providers are in a given network, leading people to think the doctor they want will accept them, only to find out otherwise; that one I’ll lay at the insurers’ doorstep. (Unless someone knows better?)

But the shrinkage of provider networks, something the article and the state insurance people it quotes try to blame on insurance companies trying to save money is, well, less than half the story.

If Obamacare didn’t impose so many needless requirements and instead let insurers design plans to meet individuals’ specific needs, and if it didn’t mandate coverage for anyone regardless of preexisting conditions, expenses wouldn’t have grown to the point where limiting networks to contain costs became necessary.

In the end, the laws of economics win, no matter what Nancy Pelosi demands. When you mandate increased costs, the company has to cut expenses or raise prices, or, as we’re finding under Obamacare, do both.

Of course, when you have a problem caused by government interference, the solution is more government interference:

Looking to head off potential problems, government regulators and patient advocates are pushing for tougher rules to ensure health plans provide timely access to care.

Last week, the California Assembly approved legislation enabling people who lost coverage because of the overhaul to keep seeing their doctors if they’re pregnant or undergoing treatment for cancer or other conditions.

You know, I’m glad pregnant women can continue to see the doctor they like. Everyone should be able to — but they shouldn’t have to go crying for a special fix to take care of a problem caused by the Blind Idiot God “Government” in the first place!

There’s a day of reckoning coming for the Democrats. Bet on it.

via ST in email

RELATED: And speaking of increased costs and the laws of economics — “AOL CEO says ObamaCare adding $7 million to costs.” Gee, what do we think will happen to all those employer-based health plans?

Footnotes:
(1) “Glitches.” The LA Times must’ve gotten the DNC memo on proper spin. “Glitches” sounds so minor and temporary compared to the truth of a huge, honking, crashing failure.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Everything You Ever Needed to Know about the Left’s View of Income Inequality, Captured in a Single Image

January 26, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Good illustration. Everyone understands pizza.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

If you want to know why the left is wrong about income inequality, you need to watch this Margaret Thatcher video. In just a few minutes, the “Iron Lady” explains how some – perhaps most – statists would be willing to reduce income for the poor if they could impose even greater damage on the rich.

This picture is another way of getting across the same point. It was sent to me by Richard Rahn (famous for the Rahn Curve), and it uses two pizzas to show how leftist policies would “solve” inequality.

Leftist Fairness

I like this analogy, and not just because I also used the pizza analogy to make the same argument in this TV interview.

The growing or shrinking pizza is useful because it helps to focus people on the importance of growth.

Nations that follow the right policy recipe can enjoy the kind of strong…

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Social Democratic Sweden headed for private health insurance?

January 22, 2014
Wave of the future?

Wave of the future?

The poster-child for European social democracy seems to be learning that government-controlled healthcare just doesn’t work. Via Reason:

According to Sweden’s insurance trade industry organization, Svensk Försäkring:

“The number of private health care insurance policies has increased in recent years. In 2011 about 440,000 people had private health care insurance. Most of these people have their policy paid by their employer.”

The trend continues, with the English-language The Local reporting last week that “One in ten Swedes now has private health insurance.” The site also says, “More than half a million Swedes now have private health insurance,” though that seems to refer to the growth in the number of policies, with many more of the country’s 9.5 million people actually covered by private insurance.

Why the growth? From The Local:

“‘It’s quicker to get a colleague back to work if you have an operation in two weeks’ time rather than having to wait for a year,” privately insured Anna Norlander told Sveriges Radio on Friday. “It’s terrible that I, as a young person, don’t feel I can trust the health care system to take care of me.’”

In a separate article about Sweden’s shrinking welfare state, The Local also noted that “visitors are sometimes surprised to learn about year-long waiting times for cancer patients.”

There’s more about Sweden’s move away from Socialism and toward free-market solutions. I’ve written about this trend myself, with regard to education and prosperity in general.

Like many people living on either coast, I have friends who are downright Europhiliac — anything Europe does is better, wiser, and more fair than what’s done in the United States, and we should move toward their model.

I can’t wait to tell my progressive friends how Sweden proves they’re right.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obamacare chronicles: Target part-timers to lose their health plans

January 22, 2014
"Targeted"

“Targeted”

Why, because the company found it more economical to cancel the plans, give the employees a cash payout, and tell them to go find their insurance on the exchanges.

Just as the progressives planned:

Target Corp. (TGT) will end health insurance for part-time employees in April, joining Trader Joe’s Co., Home Depot Inc. and other U.S. retailers that have scaled back benefits in response to changes from Obamacare.

About 10 percent of part-time employees, defined as those working fewer than 30 hours a week, use Target’s health plans now, according to a posting yesterday on the Minneapolis-based company’s website. Target is the second-largest U.S. discount retailer by sales and had about 361,000 total employees last fiscal year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the largest regulatory overhaul of health care since the 1960s, creating a system of penalties and rewards to encourage people to obtain medical insurance. The law known as Obamacare doesn’t require most companies to cover part-time workers, and offering them health plans may disqualify those people from subsidies in new government-run insurance exchanges that opened in October.

“You see a lot of retailers making adjustments in contemplation of the full effect of the employer mandate penalties in 2015,” Neil Trautwein, a lobbyist with the National Retail Federation, a trade group in Washington, said in a phone interview. “Even though it is not effective yet, it is already having an effect on the job market and putting companies where they would probably not otherwise want to be.”

The move should also reduce the cost of Target’s health benefits, Trautwein said.

That last makes plain what we already knew: that Obamacare creates perverse incentives for employers to cut hours and, in the case of Target and others, drop coverage, because it saves them money, regardless of the cost to the employee. But, hey, the employees may well qualify for a subsidy… increasing the burden on an already-suffering middle class and making both dependent on government. But that’s the point: the non-reforming reforms that create such friction in the system that the people will eventually accept a single-payer solution.

Just ask Harry Reid.

Meanwhile, to those Target part-timers who voted Democratic in the last two elections and thought they were getting “free” healthcare or that their plans would be left alone… Congratulations. This is what you really voted for.

Elections have consequences, folks.

"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Yep.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Go ahead, increase the minimum wage. Then, kiss those jobs goodbye.

January 14, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we won our minimum wage increase!”

I’ve said time and again that because wages are a cost for businesses, they have to find a way to control them so they can earn a profit that makes it worthwhile to stay in business. Mandate wages that are too high, and companies will find creative ways to trim those costs back down.

Such as replacing the workers with machines:

Fast food doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore. With our technology, a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices.

Our alpha machine frees up all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant.

It does everything employees can do except better:

It slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.

Our next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem.

Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices.

It’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.

The labor savings allow a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better.

That’s from the web site of Momentum Machines in San Francisco. You can bet all those progressive Bay Area burger-flippers and baristas demanding a $15 per hour minimum wage will be screaming “unfair!” when they find themselves replaced.

Not that I’m some sort of anti-technological Luddite; far from it. But these idio… er, “people” demanding a huge increase in the minimum wage need to recognize that their bosses have choices to make, and one of those choices may well be a very rational decision to cut back hours or eliminate jobs altogether. Is it worth winning a $15 per hour rate, when you wind up collecting nothing?

Keep it up, burger flippers, and you may well pave the way for the return of the automat.

Forward into the past?

Forward into the past?

via Melissa Clouthier

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The War on Poverty Has Been a Disaster for Taxpayers…and for Poor People

January 8, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Maybe after 50 years of empirically verified failure, we should try something else.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I’ve shared many charts over the years, but two of the most compelling ones deal with poverty.

Poverty Rate DataThe numbers in this chart, which are based on Census Bureau data and scholarly studies (see here, here, here, and here), show that the poverty rate was steadily falling in the United States – until the federal government decided to launch a so-called War on Poverty.

Once Washington got more involved and started spending trillions of dollars, we stopped making progress. The poverty rate has changed a bit with shifts in economic conditions, but it’s stayed remarkably steady between 11 percent and 15 percent of the population.

So why have we stopped making progress? This second chart shows how redistribution programs create a dependency trap. The plethora of handouts from government make self-reliance and work comparatively unattractive, particularly since poor people are hit with very high implicit…

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