“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Do They Think We Are All Stupid?

I mentioned the New Jersey gubernatorial race in this post yesterday.

As part of his assault on his Republican opponent, Chris Christie, Jon Corzinne's campaign has been running non-stop ads, courtesy of Corzinne's Goldman-sourced personal fortune, attacking Christie for allowing insurance companies to "drop mammogram" coverage.

The entire thrust of these ads are that insurance companies wouldn't cover anything unless the government mandated that they do so.

Does Corzinne think we are all stupid? And, by extension, do the Washington Democrats, as well?

I guess they must, because their argument is so fallacious and obviously wrong that it caused me to think of who would believe it?

Of course, the truth is that, in a mandate-free, more competitively-governed health insurance market, you could choose exactly the coverage you wanted, and pay for that. No less, and certainly no more.

No company "drops" unmandated coverage. It's not that simple. But by mandating something, politicians then scare unsophisticated voters into believing that any candidate who is against mandates must be "for" dropping said coverage.

I'm guessing Corzinne and, by extension, Wonderboy and his minions in the Congress, are aiming at the least-sophisticated voters. The ones already on welfare or getting government subsidies of one type or another.

Because anyone who buys, say, auto insurance, knows you can elect, at some point, when the value of your car is sufficiently low, to not pay for collision damage coverage.

Why anyone would think that you should not be able, in a competitive insurance market, to buy what you want, and not what you don't, is beyond me.

But the way Corzinne's ads keep hammering away on this falsehood, it's evident he has no respect for the intelligence of New Jersey voters.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Conundrum of The New Jersey Voter

It's tough to be a voter in New Jersey this year. One really feels there's no practical, quality choice in the gubernatorial election.

The Democrats are, of course, propping up failed liberal Jon Corzinne. After being kicked out as co-head of Goldman Sachs' years ago, Jon bought a New Jersey Senate seat. Tiring of that, and not expecting the Democrats to retake the upper chamber, he then bought the governor's seat.

Perhaps he thinks getting his ticket punched there, twice, gives him presidential credentials. Or maybe he's just bored with working for a living, so political elective office makes sense.

Who knows?

Either way, he's taken the wreckage left by the last governor, who resigned under an ethics cloud, and worsened it. New Jersey is probably closer behind California in its fiscal mess than most people, or state citizens, realize.

Then we have "Chris Christie."

What a guy! A product of the Christie (no relation) Todd Whitman-influenced state Republican party, he's been coached to alter his positions like a custom-made suit.

I never trust someone who flips on right-to-life issues suddenly, and without reason. Christie did this so that a pro-life stance, his original view, wouldn't hinder his chances in a solidly Blue state.

However, as an independent who registers Republican, even I can see how Christie is corrupt even before winning the governorship.

The reports of his cutting a deal to spare his brother an SEC prosecution ring true. So does his paying off Justice department cronies with no-bid contracts for outsourced legal work.

Sure, sure, he got a bunch of convictions as a federal prosecutor. Sure, so did Rudy Giuliani.

But I think the comparisons stop there.

You knew what Giuliani was for, and against, even if you didn't live in New York City. Christie merely mouths platitudes about lower taxes and spending, but offers no solid plans for such empty concepts.

This is a state in the choke-hold of lawyers, of either party, in the state legislature. It's going to take a lot to restore any shred of fiscal rectitude in the state.

Faced with these unappetizing choices, one considers the independent, Chris Daggett. Daggett actually details how he'll cut a range of taxes and extend the sales tax to more items, without raising the rate. Of course, there's no plan for spending cuts in his campaign, either.

But the real question is how to vote without feeling you've rewarded vagueness, incompetence, or corruption, or wasted your vote.

I can't vote for Corzinne. Just isn't going to happen. I never liked him or his policies, and they have demonstrably failed.

I voted for Lonnegan in the Republican primary. I don't like Christie, and I don't trust him. With only a prosecutorial career and no clear ideas on governing, voting for him is like buying a pig in a poke. And, no, I'm not poking fun at his weight or girth.

But I just have doubts about voting for Daggett. It's a classic prisoners' dilemma. If I knew a lot of other voters, disgusted with both of the other clowns, would choose Daggett, then so would I.

I mean, how much worse can things get? And several local and regional news organizations have endorsed his candidacy.

But if I vote for Daggett and Corzinne wins, then I did waste my vote.

but if I vote for Christie, I'm not voting with a clear conscience.

It's all very disturbing. A microcosm, really, of my disappointments with both parties on the national level, too.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Polanski Edges Closer to Extradition

Remember the flap over Roman Polanski's arrest in Switzerland earlier this month?

It hasn't gone away.

A news article this week reported that the Swiss have refused to allow Polanski to leave jail for house arrest, citing the obvious flight risk. After all, he's in Europe because he fled a court sentencing in the US in the first place.

What is comical is that Polanski's lawyer says they will attempt to offer ever larger financial assets as collateral to get Polanski sprung.

By the way, he's 76 and probably has enough money that losing a chalet or two pales besides being imprisoned in the US for flight from his original sentencing.

Polanski is reportedly suffering from "depression because of his incarceration."

Hmm. I wonder what sort of depression or other psychological impairments the admitted rapist's 13 year-old victim suffered after he drugged her, then sexually assaulted her?

Yes, it seems the Swiss are acting in such a way as to deliver this little moral package to Wonderboy's doorstep one day soon.

How will he reconcile Hollywood's affection for him, and its denizens' demands that Polanski be pardoned for art's sake?

Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Sad Tale of Federal Regulatory Overkill & Thrift Shops

Remember the stampede in Congress to regulate toy imports from China and, then, by extension, regulate the testing and safety of toys sold in the US?

Talk about unintended consequences. I read about this at the time, but didn't really grasp the full impact.

Yesterday I visited a local resale shop to donate some items. One was a piece of clothing one of my children had outgrown. The other was an all-plastic toy.

The toy was an accessory for small metal cars. It was a simulated garage with a few electrically-powered moving parts.

When I spoke to an employee at the shop, she smiled as she took the article of clothing, then simply said,

"Sorry, we can't take the toy."

I somewhat dimly asked why not, and she reminded me that, with the imposition of recent regulations, all second-hand shops had to drop handling toys.

She told me that they can't afford the liability, should someone buy a used toy at the shop and then sue them for violating laws regarding lead, paint, or anything else now prohibited.

I looked at the toy I held, then at the woman. I knew it was useless to appeal that the toy had no paint, because it was obvious that the shop had to simply stop handling toys of all sorts.

Clearly, they had been told by their insurer that it wasn't enough for them to try to discriminate between lawful and unlawful donated toys.

It was safer for them to simply stop taking and reselling any toys.

This seems to me to be a sad state of affairs. In the current economic recession, I'm sure there are quite a few parents who would be happy to find some less expensive toys at resale shops.

But, now, that's impossible. A reliable source of used toys has been shuttered, raising costs to parents who can't necessarily buy new toys for their children all of the time.

How sad that a previously-functioning market for still-usable, used toys has been permanently destroyed by Congress' regulatory overreach.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The False Advertising For A Public Health Care Option

I happened to see an ad for public option health care yesterday. The ad in question made use of alleged "facts" that were calculated to prove the wisdom of a public option, i.e., government-run health care.

Among the things I recall about the ad were that it alleged that one insurance company controlled more than 90% of some measure of insurance, though it didn't mention what that measure was. There were similar statistics cited, without sources, to suggest that there is no competition in the health insurance sector.

Here are two other pro-public option ads you can find on YouTube.

I found it notable that this first video only engaged in ad hominem attacks. That is, the health insurance CEO is bad simply because he lives in a large house and is paid a large salary. There's no mention of his background, how long he worked to attain that position, or how well, or poorly, he has done for his shareholders.

We know nothing about the family that lost their home, allegedly due to health-related expenses. We don't know if the home was too expensive for their budget, or what their lifestyle was, and how it may have contributed to their medical expense woes.

In short, there are no contexts for either emotional appeal.

This video is just a farce. I guess the intent is to suggest that insurance companies can change policy rules on a whim. I don't think that's at all true. In fact, my guess is that, being subject to state regulations, they probably have to appear before a state insurance commission with rate increase requests.

However, for some states, like mine, New Jersey, there are so many mandates and such an inhospitable health insurance climate, that the best, cheapest plans allowing the buyer to tailor the policy for her/himself, won't do business there. Instead, we are hostage to what is, admittedly, a non-market in health insurance, in which rate increases are simply dictated.

But that's a consequence of political actions by state legislatures, not the insurance companies. I know for a fact that health insurance coverage is about half as expensive just sixty miles west of me, across the Delaware river, in Pennsylvania.

What public option proponents don't discuss is any of the following:

-Most situations of a lack of competition in health insurance were constructed by politicians.
-Industry concentration is a common occurrence in most multi-state industries.
-Insurance companies are, for the most part, publicly-owned. Thus, so-called excess profits for insurance companies are, in fact, good for their shareholders, who could be American voters and taxpayers, should they so choose to buy the equities of those insurance companies.
-Comparing US health care spending to that of other countries makes no allowance for more innovative treatments and drugs used in the US. Nor does it address whether it is good, or bad, to spend more on something like health care. Perhaps more spending denotes better outcomes, longer lifespans and higher satisfaction with outcomes.
-Comparing foreign country health care costs with those of the US, without mentioning different tort lawsuit environments, is a gross misrepresentation of the true situation. Much US health care expense is engendered in defense of unregulated tort lawsuits for damages beyond simple medical malpractice.

In short, the public option proponents grossly distort, limit and hide the context of their so-called "evidence" against a health insurance market devoid of government-run providers, but allowing inter-state competition without mandated coverages in policies.

Such a situation would, in fact, allow for the most competition, with no tax-free, hidden-cost government 'competitor' undercutting actual costs, and driving private insurers from the marketplace.

If insurance companies were allowed to easily sell policies across state lines, without the needless complexity of conforming with 50 state insurance commissions policies,' and state-created mandates were eliminated, health insurance policy costs would drop immediately.
Add tort reform, and US health care costs for the same excellent level of care would fall even further.

The simple truth is that today's health insurance market is what it is as a consequence of many state legislatures, and the federal government, through Medicare and Medicaid, not through the design of the insurance industry.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Shame of Edolphus Towns (D-NY)

To the sullied names of Democratic Senators Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad, we can now add the name of New York Democratic Representative Edolphus Towns.

Towns has refused to take a vote in his committee to investigate Countrywide Financial's "Friends of Angelo" VIP mortgage loan program.

Of course, Towns' own two mortgages from Countrywide have no bearing on the matter, do they?

Not at all. Not in Frisco Nan's new House of Responsibility and Transparency.

California Republican Representative Darrell Issa is pressing for this investigation, and even Illinois Democrat (and Rahm Emmanuel replacement) Congressman Mike Quigley favors taking the vote and even publishing the names of any Congressional Members who accepted favors from Countrywide and Mozillo.

But Towns still refuses to either recuse himself or take that vote.

Apparently, a recent committee meeting at which the vote was again skipped saw the Democratic Representatives slinking out the back door of the meeting room.

Towns is a disgrace to his state and the nation. He openly supports tax cheat and fellow Black Caucus and New York Representative Charlie Rangel, too.

It's corrupt representation like this that weakens our Republic. And, hopefully, will lead to a change of party majority in the House next year.