Should any reason for wanting to speak be good enough?

Can the government require a person to give reasons before speaking in public? If so, what reasons must it accept?

The answers to these questions remain somewhat unclear, but their importance is difficult to overstate.  Licensing requirements for public speaking — especially to large numbers of people (more than 10) — are central to the regulation of speech in public spaces, which is perhaps the most important issue in contemporary speech law and policy.  As a constitutional matter, that issue is the crux of recent cases that have found or assumed a right to speak in public to persuade others.  As a statutory matter, some states have expanded the right to speak anywhere in public, including parks, street corners, and even meetings of various legislative bodies.

But some jurisdictions — including populous states like California, New York, and New Jersey — require people to speak only in designated “First Amendment” areas, typically on college campuses, away from any people who might be persuaded. The government interest underlying these laws is easy enough to identify, since the costs and benefits of public speaking are very different than talking to the plants in one’s home.  One can support an individual right to speak freely, and even support the extension of that right into public spaces, while still believing that the First Amendment permits public speech to be regulated more stringently than yelling at the TV set in one’s living room.

Free speech advocates have recently challenged these good cause requirements on First Amendment grounds.  If successful, their challenges could effectively compel states to issue public speaking licenses to anyone who is not a felon, mentally ill, or otherwise excluded from the scope of First Amendment coverage.  In speech law lingo, this would mean constitutionally mandating a “shall issue” regime for public speech licenses.  It is important, therefore, to understand the arguments both for and against the constitutionality of restrictions on public speech.

The extreme position holds that any kind of good cause requirement is unconstitutional.  As one district court judge put it, “[a] citizen may not be required to offer a ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights.  The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.” When framed this way, the point is rhetorically powerful, but substantively weak.  Surely not every “cause” is “good” enough to trigger First Amendment coverage.  If a person turned in a public speaking application with the explanation, “I need to speak in public so that I can urge the ouster of elected officials,” few would think that denying the license would violate his First Amendment rights.  It is not clear why the result would be any different if the insufficient cause were conveyed through evidence other than an outright declaration.

It follows that some good cause requirements — or at least some “not bad” cause requirements — are constitutional.  Or, to put it another way, the right to free speech does not encompass a right to speak in public for any reason whatsoever.  It is equally clear, however, that some “causes” for speech are constitutionally protected, and therefore cannot be excluded by a good cause requirement.  If a person (we can call him Brad) wants to speak because the government is deciding legislation that would deprive him of his home — and is not himself a felon, mentally ill, or otherwise subject to the categorical restrictions approved in Schenck v. United States — then his claim to speak in public would fall squarely within the “core” interest of speech on topics of public interest.

Separating these extreme cases, a host of harder questions remain.  What if it’s just a commission-level hearing, one that can be appealed to a city council or state agency?  What if he wants to opine on the merits of various American Idol finalists, a generally lawful activity whose constitutional coverage is nevertheless unclear?  What if his “bad” reason for speech is not likely ever to manifest itself in illegal activity?

One partial answer to these questions is to say that free speech is always a good cause, and that licensing regimes therefore cannot deny speech to people seeking to use it publicly for that purpose.  There is much to like in this approach.  Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, after all, identified the support or opposition of political candidates as the “core” of the right to keep and speak. And although the Court found the need for that right to be “most acute” during election season, it did not explicitly limit it as such.  In fact, long before Citizens United, courts recognized political speech as deserving greater protection than commercial speech.

But this does not necessarily mean that the First Amendment requires that a person be able to speak in public — let alone to large groups — any time he invokes political need.  After all, the right of free speech itself typically requires a person to show something like good cause — a reasonable fear of imminent harm as a result of political action, for example.  In other words, the core of the right to speak is the right to speak to lobby the government; the core of the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, is free speech.  And if that core right is compatible with a good cause requirement, shouldn’t the right to speak also be?

The difficulty of this question arises from the fact that the right to address the government for redress of grievances and speech for that purpose are closely related but not coextensive.  When a person petitions the government, he generally does not know whether he will ever have to actually speak in public — fortunately, the vast majority of citizens never do.  But in light of Citizens United, the rule cannot be that only those people who actually petition the government for a redress of grievances are validly exercising their First Amendment rights.

How should the law treat the inevitable space between purchasing a public address system and actually using that microphone to speak?  Does the First Amendment require the government to recognize as “good cause” a generalized claim to free speech in the absence of a specific legislative harm?  One way to frame the issue is to ask what level of risk is necessary to “trigger” the right to speak in public for purposes of petitioning the government.  A person who is 100% certain to face a justified need for armed speech would surely have “good cause”; a person who is 100% certain not to have such a need would not have good cause.  (The latter person could probably still talk to his plants, and his cat, and might have some kind of cognizable interest in public speaking, but it is hard to see how it would be grounded in petitioning the government.)  When does the risk become constitutionally salient?  Ten percent?  One percent?

Of course, people often have no way of knowing with precision the chances of their facing a “real” threat.  Free speech law and good cause requirements approach this uncertainty from two different angles.  Free speech law is about ex post risk assessment, in the sense that the event has already happened, and the law seeks to determine whether the speech was proportional to the harm the government was inflicting.  Good cause requirements do the same thing from an ex ante perspective, transposing the threat assessment before the action takes place.

To be sure, one might argue that reasonableness, proportionality, imminence and other “good cause” elements of free speech should only apply to actions of speaking, not to preparations for those actions.  There is some strength to this argument as well.  It is difficult to assess a risk ahead of time, which is one reason why well-tailored good cause requirements are typically more forgiving than free speech doctrine.  Thus a person seeking a license in Maryland need only show that the “permit is necessary as a reasonable precaution against likely government action,” rather than demonstrate the “imminent or immediate danger of loss of freedom or property” necessary to justify an action of free speech.  It is also true that mere preparations for free speech might never involve physical harm to anyone, so the state’s interest in public safety is presumably lower than when it comes to actual speech.  Nonetheless, when such preparations include the public carrying of a bullhorn, the risk of misuse is undeniable.  It is that risk which good cause limitations seek to minimize.

None of this means that good cause requirements are always constitutional, only that challenges to them should focus on the details of their implementation.  If a public-speech licensing regime operates like a ban, it should be evaluated as such.  For the most part, though, the matter is one for legislatures to decide.  These days, most of them seem to be moving in the direction of loosened restrictions.  The Constitution has nothing to say about that trend.  But it also has very little to say to those legislatures who have chosen to maintain a “may issue” approach to public speech, including its attendant good cause restrictions.  The First Amendment is busy enough these days without being deployed in fights where it does not belong.

As you can see, it isn’t very difficult to translate the kinds of restrictions gun control advocates propose for the Second Amendment to the First. And it shows just how weak their arguments are.

“Good cause” to speak to large groups of people or to petition the government for a redress of grievances requiring various fees, licenses, background checks, fingerprints and mental health screening (all of which can be required to carry a gun in California) would generate howls of outrage from almost everyone. But those same requirements—and then some—are just “common sense” when it comes to the Second Amendment.

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Last night, amid much media attention, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced that she had vetoed S.B. 1062, an anti-gay bill that would have quickly meant that gays in Arizona would be forced to sit at the back of the bus, be banned from Woolworth’s lunch counters, prevented from attending state colleges, be harassed and probably lynched.

At least, that’s what you would think if you listened to the anti-Christian, liberal, mainstream media. (Every year I’m out of the business, I’m not sure if I become more conservative or they become more odious and despicable.)

Let’s make this perfectly clear, contra just about every major newspaper in this nation: This is about gay “marriage.” Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not about a local coffee shop refusing to serve a gay person a double-half-caf-venti-soy-latte. It’s not about a restaurant refusing to serve dinner, or a caterer refusing to do a birthday party. It’s about gay “marriage.” Full stop.

The truth? The proposed bill closely mirrors the Clinton-era Religious Freedom Restoration Act that passed Congress two decades ago overwhelmingly. The media response, starting with the execrable Kirsten Powers, that this was a “Jim Crow” law is dishonest and slanderous.

SB1062 would amend the Arizona RFRA to address two ambiguities that have been the subject of litigation under other RFRAs. It would provide that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business, and it would provide that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion.

But nothing in the amendment would say who wins in either of these cases. The person invoking RFRA would still have to prove that he had a sincere religious belief and that state or local government was imposing a substantial burden on his exercise of that religious belief. And the government, or the person on the other side of the lawsuit, could still show that compliance with the law was necessary to serve a compelling government interest. As a business gets bigger and more impersonal, courts will become more skeptical about claims of substantial burden on the owner’s exercise of religion. And as a business gets bigger, the government’s claim of compelling interest will become stronger.

Number of times the words “gay,” “homosexual,” or “same-sex marriage” appear in the bill? Zero.

Two decades ago, gays would go on TV, write op-eds, give speeches insisting that all they wanted was civil unions. They didn’t want to change the definition of marriage. Marriage was inherently religious and they they just wanted to be able to be counted as family and visit their partner in the hospital.

That didn’t last long. For the past 10 years, they’ve been pushing hard for “marriage,” and thanks to a compliant and sympathetic media, they moved the unwashed masses and various judges around the nation and they got that too.

You’d think they’d be happy with all they’ve accomplished in just a couple of decades. But they’re not. They know there’s quite a few Americans—Christians, Muslims, Orthodox Jews—that, while not supportive of their cause, have resigned themselves to having lost this battle in the culture war and adopted a live-and-let-live attitude. That cannot stand.

It’s not enough to live-and-let-live on the gay “marriage” issue. You need to agree, you need to participate, and if you don’t you’ll be forced out of the public square, if you’ve got a business, you’ll have the almighty power of the state come and take it from you.

Because, shut up!

But it’s the mainstream media that most disgusts me in this situation. One wag on Twitter noticed this:

Which, of course, prompted the enlightened journalists to bring us our news to furrow their brows and wonder why the Washington Post Wall Street Journal was so out of line.

I’d encourage you to give these two analyses over at Newsbusters a look to see just how bad professionally trained, unbiased journalists treated the story. And remember, it’s not just print media.

Even left-of-center Bernard Goldberg, who has written some really good books on media bias, has decided that in this particular war on Christians, he’d like to sign-up.

Should the government, with its immense power, force someone to violate deeply held convictions?  If I owned a catering business, I wouldn’t want to put food on the table for a neo-Nazi convention – or risk a hefty lawsuit if I didn’t.  (Maybe the Arizona law, instead of focusing on religious rights, should have dealt more generally with issues that violate our conscience — like being forced to cater a neo-Nazi function.  Maybe that kind of “conscientious objector” law would have been more acceptable to more people, even with its potential for abuse.)

Lazy journalist. That’s exactly what the proposed law did.

But we all give up some rights when we join society and when we open a business on Main Street that purports to do business with the general public.

You can find that in the Constitution right after the part about the 2nd Amendment only applying to muskets.

I can see the endgame on this even if Goldberg can’t or won’t: This will stop when Christians are driven from the public square and churches are required to perform same-sex “marriages” or have their tax exempt status stripped from them and every federal, state and local government can use it tax, zoning and whatever other law they can locate, to drive churches out.

The goal is to create a two-church system, much like what exists in China today. You have official, state-sanctioned churches (these will be the ones that will go all Thomas Jefferson on Leviticus, Romans 1 and others), then you’ll have underground house churches.

Kirsten Powers will be attending the former, I’ll be attending the latter.

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Last week, Fox News talking head and columnist Kirsten Powers wrote a column for USA Today that accused legislators in Kansas of creating a new system of “Jim Crow” laws with their efforts to protect religious believers from being forced to violate their consciences by providing services to gay nuptials.

Four days later, she published another piece, this time in The Daily Beast, taking aim at similarly minded legislation in Arizona.

There’s some debate about the breadth and effects of the Kansas and Arizona legislation. I’m not particularly interested in the specifics of the proposed laws, mainly because the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn them in the blink of an eye as they did with California’s Prop. 8.

There’s no doubt, however, that there is need for this type of legislation. From Colorado to Oregon to New Mexico, religious believers are being threatened with fines, the shutdown of their businesses and even jail time for refusing to participate in same-sex “wedding” ceremonies.

Pope Powers conveniently absolves any Christian wedding service supplier of what they might see as complicity in a sinful act because apparently gays don’t see their relationship as sinful or something.

 This is why the first line of analysis here has to be whether society really believes that baking a wedding cake or arranging flowers or taking pictures (or providing any other service) is an affirmation. This case simply has not been made, nor can it be, because it defies logic.  If you lined up 100 married couples and asked them if their florist “affirmed” their wedding, they would be baffled by the question.

Well, if the gay couple doesn’t see it that way, then you’re absolved. That makes everything so easy. In her first column, Powers likened serving the gay couple to prison ministries. I never really thought that prison ministries provided shivs to inmates who wanted to use them on guards or other inmates, but there are plenty of grossly imperfect analogies to go around.

Everything that should be said on this topic has already been said, somewhere, online. So I’ll just highlight a couple of parts of responses that mirror my thinking on this issue.

First, I’ve mentioned it before, but remember when this whole issue was all about tolerance? This headline says it all: “When ‘leave us alone’ became ‘bake us a cake!'”

Second, this bit from Elizabeth Scalia:

Powers ends her piece writing, “Maybe they should just ask themselves, ‘What would Jesus do?’ I think he’d bake the cake.”

Perhaps he might; it seems to me that baking a cake for a same-sex wedding, even if one does not agree with the concept, may well come under the heading of walking along a road for two miles with someone who “presses you into service” for one.

But perhaps he wouldn’t; all we can do is make our best guesses. True, if the road is heading toward that nebulous region of “tolerance” that has become so difficult to locate in American society, we should all be willing to walk a ways with each other, but eventually we will reach departure points that can and should be respected. Many can travel as far as Powers’ “he’d bake the cake” exit, but then must get off, before the road reaches “Jesus would officiate at a same-sex wedding.” That is the logical next stop, and a place we simply cannot get to, if we are following Jesus’ map.

And from Erick Erickson over at RedState comes the crux of the entire issue:

It is not staggering that there are aggrieved gay rights activists who think the state should be able to force people to recognize as normal that which most Christians view as sinful. What is staggering is the number of Christians who apparently think the State has the right to decide and enforce this issue.

You might think Jesus would bake a cake for a gay wedding. I think you are wrong. I do not think Jesus Christ would participate in the ratification of a sin — and a marriage between two people of the same sex is a sin.  Are you really going to tell the millions of Christians in the United States who think otherwise that not only are they wrong, but the state should be able to force your opinion of what Jesus would do on them? In your pride, you might think 2000 years of Christian orthodoxy and the majority of practicing Christians in the world today are wrong — but don’t think among people of practicing Christian faith you are in the majority.

I understand if you are not a believer and define yourself based on your sexual preference that you think the government should legitimize you by forcing others to treat you in a particular way. But it boggles my mind to think any Christian should want the government to force their view of Christianity on another believer.

If you think the government should be able to force Christians to provide goods and services to a gay wedding or risk losing their business, why not command a preacher’s service? If a Christian baker cannot opt out, why should a preacher be able to opt out? And why not take from churches their tax exempt status if they fail to participate?

Christians should serve. But the government should not force them to.

When George W. Bush is in the White House, the shrill screams from the left was about the imminent theocracy that was going to be forced on the nation because Christians believed abortion was wrong. Now, the same leftists who were waving the bloody flag are intent on forcing religious believers into second-class citizenship. You may not operate a business according to your conscience or your principles or the HHS with its contraceptive mandate or gay-rights activists with their “human rights” commissions and allies like Powers will stop you.

And it’s not clear how far Powers would actually allow the standard that she has set to be applied. Would a Christian IT worker be forced to get a porn site up and running? Would a gay business be forced to cater a Westboro Baptist Church social?

Finally, Ed Morrisey:

The religious beliefs of these vendors can and should be assumed to be sincerely held, and under the law the government is required to assume that about religious beliefs. Wedding cakes and photographers are not exactly scarce commodities, nor are they an overriding state interest in the same sense that housing might be in discrimination claims. Both sides have used the legal and legislative systems like sledgehammers, and states have been too eager to impose forced participation rather than foster tolerance and let adults figure out their options.

Tolerance does not mean acceptance or participation. It means allowing people to make their own choices about what they choose to do, and to respect the ability of their fellow citizens to do the same as long as it does no injury to them. What this contretemps shows is that America is getting a lot more intolerant the more “tolerant” we become.

Exactly.

Other interesting reading on this issue:

A Live-And-Let-Live Law

Why I cannot sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple

Of Consciences and Cakes

Against Christian Hypocrisy

 

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Back at the height of Catastrophic Anthropogenic (human-caused) Global Warming alarmism, our betters in Sacramento passed Assembly Bill 32 which created a carbon marketplace (a concept championed by the likes of Enron) that oil producers and power plant operators would have to participate in by buying credits to offset their carbon dioxide output.

After several years of ramping up, AB32 kicks into high gear next year. Like most government forays into the marketplace, it’s having unintended consequences in the form of even higher gas prices.

Experts expect that will lead to a rise in gas prices that could fluctuate unpredictably.

Read that carefully. It’s not suggesting that under some circumstances gas prices would go down. No, gas prices will fluctuate from “a little higher” to “Arm, leg.”

But Democrats have a plan that will solve this problem: A new tax.

“We must reduce the amount of carbon we put into the air, and that will come with a price.
Nothing is free. A carbon tax is not free and cap and trade is not free,” Steinberg said while unveiling the proposal to the Sacramento Press Club.

“Under either, applied to fuel, consumers will undoubtedly pay more at the pump. It may not be popular to say, but that’s necessary. Higher prices discourage demand. if carbon pricing doesn’t sting, at least a little bit, we won’t change our habits.”

Which, of course, will further the income inequality in the state as gas taxes are inherently regressive. Google’s billionaires in the Silicon Valley will whine, but the people in the Central Valley will feel the real pinch.

But this is all for your own good.

Steinberg’s plan calls for spending the taxes generated — estimated at more than $3 billion in the first year — to improve public transportation and give income tax credits to California families making up to $75,000 a year. That would give about $600 back to the average qualifying household, Steinberg said.

“How many more Californians could we lift from the reach of poverty while healing our climate at the same time?” Steinberg said.

It’s a tax that heals the planet and lifts people out of poverty! Also, unicorns!

Seriously, think about the math there for a second. Does anyone really believe that anyone making less than $75,000 is going to come out ahead under this scheme?

On a related note: Government raises taxes on cigarettes with the belief that higher prices will lower demand. It raises taxes on gasoline in the belief that people will drive less the more the price goes up. Both of these are logical and have sound economic theories behind them. Then they go and raise the minimum wage and state that higher prices on labor won’t cause businesses to try and use less of it.

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And you shouldn’t get angry at a lefty hack for being a lefty hack.

I don’t blame MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber for this laughable piece of analysis that purports to claim that Obamacare is a net gain to the economy less than a week after the Congressional Budget Office released a report that estimated Obamacare will reduce employment by 2.5 million full-time equivalent positions over the next decade.

Who I do blame is the Los Angeles Times for their vanilla tagline describing Mr. Gruber.

Jonathan Gruber is a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.

What the Times didn’t bother to tell its readers is that Mr. Gruber has been paid almost $300,000 by the Obama administration for “special studies and analysis” of health care bills.

This is pretty poor journalism not to disclose this fact, but not unexpected by the left-leaning editorial page.

Don’t let journalists sell you on their unbiased umpire who calls ‘em as they see ‘em schtick. The difference between journalism now and journalism more than a decade ago is that journalists in 20th century at least made an effort to fake impartiality.

Journalism. Wound. Self-inflicted.

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I posted a link to this article by Chris Conover at Forbes’ Apothecary blog at my “night job” website the other day. If this graphic turns out to be true, then expect Obamacare to go down in flames, taking a lot of Democrats with it.

winnerslosers11

These numbers, if accurate, are devastating. The “losers” category is 55.3 percent of Americans. The “winners” is just over 11 percent. For that 1/3 who experience no real consequences from Obamacare, you can bet the majority of them will turn against it as well—they’ll know more losers than they will winners.

When all is said and done, were Obamacare fully in place right now, 166 million of today’s population could reasonably count themselves as losers in various ways, while only 34.6 million would be lucky enough to count as winners. That’s a ratio of 4.8 losers for every winner–not a particularly good outcome for any policy initiative, much less a “signature” legislative initiative.

Even if we focus on big winners (11.4 million) vs. big losers (40.3 million) this imbalance does not change appreciably: there are 3.6 big losers for every big winner. Similarly, if we ignore “minimal” winners and losers, there’s still 2.7 remaining losers for each remaining winner. No matter how we slice and dice the results, the conclusion challenges the conventional wisdom of the law’s proponents. Losers actually vastly outnumber winners regardless of which definition is used.

If this was how Obamacare was originally sold, you can guarantee that it would never have passed Congress in the first place. If this had come out in 2012, you can bet that President Obama would’ve never been reelected.

 

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As my time in journalism school at Cal Poly continues to retreat into the dim corners of my memory, there are still handful of in-class incidents that I remember from those halcyon days of the early ’90s.

This morning on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace made a statement that triggered on of those memories.

Professor Victor Valle, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, had just started teaching in the journalism program and I was in his reporting class. The day’s topic was how to cover a story with competing interests and the example he used to start the discussion was a video of the homosexual rights group ACT UP vandalizing a Catholic church.

After showing the video, Valle opened up the class discussion with something along the lines of you have two competing interests here: The Catholic has the right not to be vandalized, but the gay activists are protesting the church’s position on contraception and how it leads to the spread of AIDS in the gay community. How do we weigh these two sides when writing a story on this topic?

I didn’t see it. I raised my hand and pointed out the logical leaps required to hold the Catholic church to blame for the spread of AIDS because they opposed condom use.

  1. Yes, the Catholic church opposes the use of condoms, but…
  2. The Catholic church also preaches sexual abstinence before marriage.
  3. Gays cannot marry. (This is the early ’90s, so I didn’t even need to get into fact that Catholics believe homosexual behavior is sinful in and of itself.)
  4. If the ACT UP protesters followed Catholic teaching from A-Z, it would be nearly impossible for them to become infected with AIDS. What right did they have to attack the Catholic church for its position on condoms as if that’s the only Catholic doctrine they were violating that was getting them sick.

By the time I was finished, there were no “competing interests” to weigh. The vandals were wrong and you wrote the story with just one interest: The church didn’t deserve to be vandalized.

This morning, during a debate between the head of NARAL and the lawyer defending the Little Sisters of the Poor in a lawsuit over Obama’s contraception mandate, host Chris Wallace wrongly used the same formulation from Professor Valle’s class more than two decades ago.

Let me bring this back, because it seems to me that there were two legitimate competing interests here. One is religious freedom and the other is women’s access to health care.

No, the problem as it’s been stated so many times before the only interest here is religious freedom. The nuns aren’t seeking to prohibit anyone’s “access to health care.” (Is the local Rite-Aid pharmacy limiting my access to “health care” when they put the condoms in a locked display case?) They don’t want to be forced to pay to fund what they see to be someone else’s sinful behavior.

As National Review writer Charles C.W. Cooke (and others) have pointed out, the formulation NARAL and the Obama administration is pushing would be paralleled by saying that National Review is infringing on Cooke’s 2nd Amendment rights because they refuse to buy him an AR-15.

There is no “access to health care” issue here. There never has been. It would be nice if the mainstream media could wrap their simple minds around it.

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Let me start out by saying that I think there needs to be some sort of social safety net for Americans who find themselves out of work or  down on their luck.

However, I think the one we have now is far too generous and we’ve reached a point where too many Americans are far too eager suckle at the public teat and the easy availability of government assistance has caused a breakdown in societal and family ties.

Case in point: Former GOP Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts on “Fox News Sunday” this morning discussing the possible extension of unemployment insurance to 99-weeks (again, for going on 5 years):

We have done it before. We did it — it will probably pass, the three-month proposal put forth by Reid and Heller is something that will move forward. But as a Republican, I made proposals to just find a way to pay for it. Happy to help. My mom is on welfare. [emphasis added]

Really? The mother of a former U.S. senator whose net worth two years ago was estimated between $314,652 and $1,927,614? (And it would be decidedly atypical if his income as a former senator went down after leaving office.) Is  he really not helping his needy mother out? If he is, is she not reporting that income to continue receiving aid from taxpayers?

Prior to FDR’s New Deal and its extension under LBJ’s Great Society, churches, mutual aid societies and families were the social units that helped out those down on their luck. Government takeovers through various welfare programs have largely caused mutual aid societies to cease to exist, and churches are no longer seen by many as a primary source of help to the needy. (Test: Commission a poll to gauge awareness of SNAP, Obamaphones, etc. vs. the term “mutual aid society” and see if most of the public even knows what the latter are/were.)

Now, the family unit is no longer a bedrock societal building block. It’s one thing if you’re talking about a minimum wage, part-time employee at McDonald’s being unable to help out a sibling or parent who doesn’t have a job, but it’s something completely different when you’ve got a former U.S. senator of substantial means who is unwilling to help his own mother.

Instead of creating a safety net where the government is the last resort of the needy, it is the first resort. Government, then church, then the wealthy will help out their own family if the first two somehow fail.

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To borrow a line from “Best of the Web Today”: Longest blog post ever written.

I’m not going to actually try to provide a one-stop post detailing every screw-up surrounding the president’s signature health insurance reform. I’ve spent a lot of time over at my “second job” posting link after link after link to stories of Obamacare SNAFUs, FUBARs and glitches.  If Democrats continue to hold fast to defending the clusterf— that is Obamacare, I can see a decade or two of GOP dominance (if they don’t screw it up), simply because those swing voters in the middle aren’t going to quickly forgive or forget what’s been done to the health insurance, doctors and hospitals they liked.

While much of the reporting in the past couple of months has been focused on Obamacare horror stories, make no mistake there will be “winners” in this debacle—even if it’s only limited to those who will be going on Medicaid due to the expansion of that program to people at 400 percent of the poverty level. (And those new Medicaid enrollees might be wary of what they’re getting.)

The recent focus has been on the “losers” because of that old journalism saw: “If it bleeds, it leads.” You can get some “happy” stories about the Obamacare winners, but the ones that are gripping, the ones that people remember, are the horror stories.

Which brings me to this article from a couple weeks ago courtesy of the New York Times.

Mike Horrigan is a lifelong Democrat with heart problems who supports President Obama’s health care law because he expects it will help many people obtain better insurance, including himself.

But under the new law, the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Horrigan’s coverage by a state high-risk insurance program was eliminated, then replaced by a more expensive plan. His wife’s individual plan was canceled for being substandard, then suddenly renewed — also at a higher price.

Here’s the big problem with Obamacare: Mike Horrigan is supposed to be a winner under the program, instead he’s a loser.

Horrigan was one of those disadvantaged under the old system. He had a pre-existing condition. He was difficult to insure. He got his insurance through a high-risk program run by the state.

One of the key equalizers in Obamacare was that health insurance companies could no longer charge sicker individuals more than healthy ones. (Which effectively made health insurance companies no longer health insurers, but healthcare “facilitators” of some sort.) So, apply that Obamacare regulation to Horrigan and what should you expect to happen?

You expect Horrigan’s costs to go down. He’s now supposed to be subsidized by the premiums of all those healthy people. Their costs should be higher than they would be pre-Obamacare, and Horrigan’s should be lower.

But it isn’t.

Why?

I suspect it’s some combination of the ridiculous one-size-fits-all mandates that Democrats put into the legislation (does Mr. Horrigan really need maternity coverage?) and the government and insurance companies trying to torture actuarial tables to produce some numbers they were never designed to produce so the companies don’t simply go bankrupt by guessing wrong.

Imagine the idiots in Washington passing a law that says that you can’t have different auto insurance rates based upon age, gender and driving history. Now, suddenly, insurance companies have to figure out how much to charge so they can stay a going concern when they can’t charge different prices to a 16-year-old “invincible” boy and a 45-year-old mother of two. That’s what they’ve done to the health insurance market.

It’s quickly becoming obvious that Obamacare (not just the web portal) isn’t going to do even the smallest portion of what President Obama and the Democrats promised. It’s not going to solve the problem of 30 million uninsured Americans. (In fact, it’s very likely that due to the 5 million-plus individual plan cancellations and the slow pace of Obamacare enrollments, that there will be more uninsured Americans on Jan. 1 than their were on Sept. 31.) It’s not going to bend the cost curve down. It’s not going to improve peoples health outcomes.

Is the average family going to save $2,500 over their 2009 premiums under Obamacare? No. It’s likely that the only people who save money under Obamacare are those who are put on the expanded Medicaid program  or receive heavy subsidies.

Back to the Times article:

Rachel Bryant, a small-business owner who lives just outside Winston-Salem, felt unlucky when she received a notice from Blue Cross saying that her plan was being canceled and that the replacement would raise her monthly bill to $675 from $408.

But when Ms. Bryant, a single mother of two young children who earns about $30,000 through her legal services business, finally succeeded after many tries to log onto the online marketplace, HealthCare.gov, she learned she was eligible for subsidies that would bring down her premiums to just $150 a month.

“I’m extremely happy,” said Ms. Bryant, 36. “I’m not going to go bankrupt because of medical bills. I’m looking forward to it, and I’ll put up with the frustration and the bother.”

Well, she had insurance before, so she wasn’t going to go bankrupt. But if she could afford $408 a month for her health insurance, can someone explain to me why the government wants to raise that price to $675 and then put other taxpayers (or the Chinese) on the hook for $525?

Any honest individual with a basic grasp of math will quickly understand that this funding model is not sustainable.

I believe President Obama when he says he will block any repeal of Obamacare while he is president. I suspect there are enough Americans like the Horrigans who will continue to whistle past the graveyard and keep enough Democrats in the House and Senate to prevent a 2/3rds majority to override a veto.

But it won’t long survive Obama’s departure.

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The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto has uncovered these hypocrisies on the part of  New York Times columnist Paul Krugman before, but today’s is especially amusing.

Paul Krugman tells different stories depending on his audience

Paul Krugman tells different stories depending on his audience

The tune never changes. Krugman will deny the obvious in an effort to forward the ball for his team.

I fully expect in the coming days to hear my House Rep., Lois Capps, recycle her bogus claim that somehow unemployment insurance is an economic stimulus. It’s a crock, but it’s as predictable as the sun rising in the East.

And you’ve also got this howler from National Journal’s Ron Fournier a purported journalist who sees his job to bash the GOP (I’ve considered applying to National Journal as their “Democrat Bashing” columnist, but they’re apparently not filling that position), calling the GOP “heartless” because they won’t spend money they don’t have.

This prompted an appropriate question from Andrew McCoy:

And one wonders why there’s so little trust of politicians or the media.

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