Political Stupidity

I have found a wonderful blog – The Archdruid Report by John Michael Greer.  There is so much there to read and digest, but let me give a couple of wonderful snippets from some of his posts.

In Scientific Education as a Cause of Political Stupidity we get:

the affluent classes in the industrial world have spent the last four decades or so throwing the working poor under the bus and then rolling the wheels back and forth over them, while insisting at the top of their lungs that they’re doing nothing of the kind.

Wage earners, and the millions who would be happy to earn a wage if they could find work, know better.  Here in America, for example, most people outside the echo chambers of the affluent remember perfectly well that forty years ago, a family with one working class income could afford a house, a car, and the other amenities of life, while today, a family with one working class income is probably living on the street. Shouting down open discussion of interests by insisting that all political decisions have to do solely with values has been a common strategy on the part of the affluent;

And in the wonderful post They Died of Progress there is a clear-eyed and extremely rational look at America’s defense establishment and the decline and fall of empires:

Those of my readers who’ve read up on the last years of vanished empires—the Austro-Hungarian or Ottoman Empires, Romanov Russia or Habsburg Spain, and so on down the list of history’s obituaries—know the results already: the imperial state reduced to a massive but fragile shell, invincible in appearance but shockingly vulnerable in reality, resting ever more unsteadily on a crumbling foundation of ineffective or broken weapons, decaying or abandoned facilities; a political leadership blithely unaware of the gap between its fantasies of invincibility and the reality of accelerating systemic failure; a high command too busy feathering its own nest and playing political games to notice the widening cracks; and a dwindling corps of servicepeople, overworked, underpaid, and demoralized, who nonetheless keep on struggling to prop up the whole brittle mess until the inevitable disaster sweeps their efforts aside once and for all.

Your time there will be well rewarded

Some 2010 Top 10’s

Top 10 Books

  1. I Shall Wear Midnight – Terry Pratchett
  2. Bloodlands – Timothy Snyder
  3. Decision Points – George W. Bush
  4. The Big Short – Michael Lewis
  5. Changes – Dresden Files Book 12 – Jim Butcher
  6. American Assassin – Vince Flynn
  7. Merchant Kings – Stephen Bown
  8. One Second After – William Forstchen

Most overhyped book of 2010 – Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – by a wide, wide, wide margin

 

Top 10 TV Shows You Aren’t Watching But Should

  1. The Good Guys – Fox
  2. Pawn Stars – History Channel
  3. Top Gear – BBC America
  4. Burn Notice – USA Network
  5. American Pickers – History Channel
  6. Human Target – Fox
  7. The Defenders – CBS
  8. Castle – ABC
  9. Psych – USA Network
  10. In Plain Sight – USA Network

Only TV comedy at which you might actually laugh – The Big Bang Theory

Most Disgusting TV Reflection on the Decline of  American Civilization – Cougar Town

 

Top 10 Movies

  1. zippety doo-dah – there’s nothing we even want to buy the dvd of

 

Top 10 Signs of the Apocylypse

  1. There is more outrage over Michael Vick and dogs than the millions of babies killed every year in this country
  2. I know about Snooki and The Situation and I’ve never, ever, ever watched a second of Jersey Shore
  3. People still are spouting off about how smart The Least Experienced Man to Ever Be Elected President is
  4. Corruptocrat Charlie Rangel gets a standing O from the Democrats after being Censured
  5. Obamacare
  6. John Edwards has the gall to show up at Elizabeth Edward’s funeral
  7. Keith Olbercrazy is still considered to be a “newsman”
  8. The Denver Broncos
  9. “We can’t just rely on the parents”,  Michelle Obama
  10. North Korea is not a glow-in-the-dark example of American “moderation”

Least Surprising News of 2010 – California faces multi-billion dollar budget hole

Most Surprising News of 2010 – 63 seat wipeout is just ho-hum for a week or so and then back to “Democrats in Charge”

 

 

Private Competition with the Public

The Denver Depressing Newspaper had a column by Ed Quillan about the recent Town Hall held here in Colorado by King Barry I and a comment that was made by one of the questioners of His Messiahness:

“How in the world can a private corporation providing insurance compete with an entity that does not have to worry about making a profit, does not have to pay local property taxes . . . ? How can a company compete with that?”

Of course The Teleprompter-in-Chief had already given his example of Federal Express and UPS competing profitably with the Post Office – except the law is set that they cannot compete with the Post Office in delivering regular type mail directly to the public.  Does anybody think that a) the Post Office will give up this monopoly in order to level the playing field? or b) that the Post Office would stand a chance if Fed Ex and UPS could really compete completely.

What you have with Fed Ex and UPS is a private company that can compete by offering a superior product (actual on-time delivery with the ability to track your packages, etc) which people will pay for in order to get the service they want.  I’m sure Ed can remember the time when you were prevented (not that an option didn’t exist, it was against the law) from sending anything other than with the Post Office.  And it was a drop off and pray that it might show up sometime and maybe would only be slightly crushed.  Track your package? – hear the postal employees laugh at you.

Which is not to say the government can’t learn from competition.  The Post Office does give you tracking and delivery times (well, within a day or two – not up to the level of a FedEx or UPS).  Ed, do you think the PO would have done this on its own?  <gales of laughter>

Then we move on to other examples from Ed:

Water: The cheapest bottled water I saw at the supermarket was the house brand at 99 cents per gallon. The Salida Municipal Utility Department delivers potable water to my kitchen for about 1/6 of a cent per gallon. Private water costs at least 600 times more than public.

So the public was taxed to put in place all the pipelines and infrastructure to deliver water to each house.  And after all that fleecing is done, they can deliver water for 1/6 cent per gallon.  Is the cost of all the infrastructure included in that price?  No – its already paid for.  Would any other water provider be given the right of way to install their own infrastructure to compete with what was already in place?  Of course not.

So instead they compete on a different playing field – bottling the water, marketing it, transporting it, selling it, and making a profit.  The fact that its water in both cases is not really comparing apples to apples.  Now, if the Salida Water Department was willing to compete in bottling and marketing and selling their water – then you would be able to see if the public and private can co-exist.  Again, my money would be on the private company wiping out the public one should that happen.

Education: Private schools (and home schooling) seem to compete just fine these days, despite all the tax support provided to public schools. Even my backwater county has two, one K-8 and the other K-12.

Here we start getting a little closer to a regular comparison,  but there is one little issue.  All those people sending their children to private school or doing it at home are FORCED to pay for the public schools that they don’t even use.  How about rebating back all the property taxes that they must pay – or be sent to jail – and then see how the public and private areas compete?  The public schools would go down the chute – or they would actually have to start educating their students instead of indoctrinating them in ecoNazism and Obama Worship.  But I would expect that most of them would simply go out of business if they had to compete on a level playing field.

Transportation: In cities, private taxis, limousines and shuttle vans co-exist with public buses, subways and streetcars.

Again, the public buses, subways, and streetcars (I guess this means Denver light rail) forcibly extract money from everyone – even those who don’t use the buses, subways or streetcars.  And then they provide horrible service, at inconvenient times, with an ever rising cost, and are continually complaining about how their budget is insufficient and even more must be beaten out of taxpayers.  Most of these “services” are really just pension boondoggles that are run for the convenience of the unions and employees.  Again, want to compete on a level playing field?  Actually have the people who use these systems pay the full cost of what it would take to transport them back and forth?

Again, the private option if it could compete on a truely level playing field would wipe out “public” transportation.  Which is why the government makes sure that a) the costs are hidden by spreading them to the huge number of people who don’t use the service and b) sets monopoly power to ensure there is not competition.

Electricity: Over the years, I have preferred dealing with private providers like Xcel, as opposed to municipal or co-op suppliers. Despite all those scary Reddy Kilowatt ads that I saw in my youth, warning that public power was Bolshevism or worse, the private electrical utilities appear to be thriving.

Can people in Salida actually choose between two different power providers?  Can anybody in America?  It would be interesting if people actually could choose between a government provider which was mandated to have 25% renewables and all the crap that keeps getting piled on electricity generators and a private company that just worked hard to get your electricity at the lowest price they could make a profit on.  Again, want to be who wins?

But the whole false dicotomy set up here, is that in none of these examples mail, transportation, water, electricity is there the government mandate (i.e. do this or go to jail) that is in the health care bills.  You MUST have health insurance or the IRS will deduct it out of your bank account.  Your employer MUST provide health insurance that meets the standards of some government twit or they will be fined 8% of payroll costs.

The fact that they want to stack the deck so that almost all small businesses will just dump their private insurance and pay the 8% fine and have to leave their employees to the tender mercies of the benevolent government bureaucrats.  And that they will then (later of course, the details always come later) tax the crap out of anybody who still has private insurance and force them into the public plan too.

We know that all of the “government” services couldn’t compete with the private sector without the playing field being stacked in the government’s favor.  And we also know that the public health option will be exactly the same thing.

And putting the actual control of life and death in the hands of a government–any government–isn’t freedom.  Its serfdom.

P.S.  Being a good liberal Ed had to snark at the start and end of his article about the guy who asked the question:

The student, Zach Lahn, was an aide to state Sen. Greg Brophy, a Wray Republican, although he did not so identify himself.

Apparently only Democrat aides and plants and ACORN members get to identify themselves as they wish (and he is a college student), not Republicans.  And then the lovely hit at religion:

To address Zach Lahn’s question, private companies do find profitable ways to compete with public options. Now here’s a question for him. On Twitter, he identifies himself as a “determined Christian conservative.” So where in the Bible does the Gospel-writer Luke, a physician, criticize Jesus for unfairly competing by healing a woman who “had suffered under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse,” as well as the blind, lame and leprous, all at no charge?

Jesus also didn’t demand that 50% of your money which is what we know “free” healthcare will cost us through the government.  You know they are down to the bottom of the barrel when liberals start talking about Jesus.  I mean as a positive thing.