Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fiendish Filing Fee Follies Fool Faithful Followers

For the second cycle in a row, the Republican Party of Arkansas has raised their filing fees.  I still don't know how much.  Maybe one of you out there knows and will tell the rest of us.   But I have heard the complaints about it and I know that they are higher.

It is reasonable to suppose that some of the increase is a reflection of the increase in brand value.   That is, a Republican nomination gives a candidate a better chance to win state-wide, so the party is able to charge more for candidates to have the privilege of wearing that brand.   That part is reasonable.   Still, there is a point where one can raise prices, but lose revenue in that too high a filing fee will discourage some candidates.

If filing fees keep going up, it is going to be hard for the common person to become a Republican candidate for an office of any size without a corporate sponsor.    Maybe that is part of the point of the higher fees too.  It helps keep out the Tea Party trash.

Another part of it may be a way to end-run the increasing disgust with the party among many members of its base.   How many times have you heard someone say "I don't give money to the party anymore, I give it directly to the candidates."   Well, the candidate now has to turn around and give it to the party, so they get grassroots money either way.  Nor is that the only party expense most candidates face.   They have to buy tickets to party fundraisers, even whole tables worth in some cases.   Maybe the prices changes are simply a response to a grassroots no longer willing to fund the party apparatus directly.

What is particularly galling is that establishment candidates often get help from the party in fundraising, while grassroots candidates rate far less.  Imagine this scenario:  An establishment candidate might get his filing fee back from the party in donations once he wins the primary, while if a grassroots candidate wins the primary it is never seen again.   And all that money spent on tickets to party fundraisers?  After the primary is over, if a grassroots candidate loses, the money his contributors gave can wind up being given to his establishment opponent.   If the grassroots candidate wins, he then has to raise money again to compete in the general.

The bottom line is that if you play their game long enough, the house always wins.  Nobody reading this blog is psychopathic enough to out-scheme the folks who run a major political party.   If you want any chance to win, you have to join their side of things or start your own game.   I am happy with many of the grassroots Republicans who have been elected to some of the smaller offices in this state, I am just loathe to donate money to their campaigns knowing that it will go into the coffers of the political party of Boozman, Griffin, and yes, John Boehner.  

If the party pushes it too far, this is going to become a problem for more and more people.  I think the party is OK with that because it will clear the road for the establishment types.  They will still be able to get contributions from the corporate side which has no trouble giving to the Roves of the world so long as they get cut in on the looting, but the grassroots side will be reluctant to give to even grassroots candidates just as they are now reluctant to give to the party.    This is an unstable situation that can't last.   People need to start thinking outside the box going forward.  I am anti-party myself, and suggest that we move to a much more decentralized model for the reasons outlined here.

MyRA and Fool Me Twice

Resident Obama has announced that the federal government will start offering what amounts to a financial product which he calls "MyRA". Basically, instead of investing our retirement nest egg ourselves, or hiring a private broker to do so, we give the money to the government. The government invests it in "safe" government bonds, with a "guaranteed return."  

The man who told America "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period" is now telling Americans "If you like your retirement savings, you can keep your retirement savings."     He was lying then (not just didn't see it coming, it was a specific feature of the ACA whose impact was discussed), and he is lying now.

Dear readers, please do not give these thieves any more of your money than you have to.  What they extract under threat of imprisonment is bad enough, but to voluntarily hand over your savings to individuals this disreputable is beyond foolish.  MyRA is not a retirement plan so much as it is a tax on stupidity, and we each get to decide how much we pay.

This is pretty much a repeat of the Social Security "trust fund."   Because the Baby Boomers were so large a demographic compared to their parents, they overpaid into the fund during their working years.  Now they are retiring and its time to pull the money out.  

Unfortunately, the money is gone.  Congress took it and spent it on giveaway programs to the rich, the poor, and the middle class in order to buy votes.   There is nothing in the Social Security "trust fund" but I.O.U.s, such as those in Mr. Cary's briefcase.    When it is time to issue checks from monies in the fund, all they can do is go borrow some more or stick a gun to your head in order for you to pay on the I.O.U.s.

We have been doing Q.E. for years, which is little more than creating money backed by debt then handing the banksters et al the money, while the debt is charged to our account.   This flow of magic money has been propping up the stock market for years.   When it finally stops, stock values will find their true value somewhere lower.

If the government wanted to prop up the stock market, they could have at least used the overpayments to the Social Security Trust fund to invest in stocks.   That way when it is time to withdraw money from the fund all they would have to do is sell some stock.  They would have equity securities in the fund, not just our own debt.   Now to draw money from the fund they have to raise our taxes, or increase the debt load on us even more.  

So instead of using the Social Security trust fund money to invest in the stock market or other more tangible assets, they spent it all on giveaway programs and left us I.O.U.s that are in reality nothing more than debt with our own names on it.   Now they want to prop up the stock market, so they spend other money garnered from issuing more debt with our own names on it.

I don't know if there has ever been a bigger bunch of thieves in human history than the Republicrats who have looted America over the last century, at an accelerating rate since the 1970s.    Anyone foolish enough to trust them with their life savings will get robbed.   Oh, they might get a certain amount of dollars back, but those dollars will be denuded of much if not most of their buying power.

I am not even sure that the U.S. will not simply default on their bond obligations outright.  Some type of default is inevitable of course, as the debt levels that the two parties have run up simply cannot be repaid.  It is an open question as to whether the default will come through massive inflation, a new currency, or outright default.  In any of these scenarios though, what the "investor" in MyRA will get out will have less real value than what was put in.

I suspect part of the reason Obama is doing this is that he wants to borrow without limitation.   He wants to make it so that a battle about raising the debt ceiling is a battle about whether retirees get their retirement funds.   That is a lot harder to vote for than a vote to stiff the Chinese.    If millions of Americans invest in MyRA, we have seen the last real budget battle to stop increases in the debt ceiling.   We will just print dollars until the world is awash in them.   And then the music will stop.  Instead of the music stopping at a time of our choosing, foreigners will pick that time for us.

Seeing how this is so, and that this is clearly a political trap to make any effort to stop the debt increases politically untenable, why don't the Republicans try to stop him?  Because they are traitors, obviously  Anyone who isn't smart enough to have figured that out by now is a prime candidate to put their life savings in MyRA.    They don't want a real fight over raising the debt ceiling, because they have "friends" that they would like to hand out taxpayer money too as well.

A debt ceiling would force hard choices and fiscal discipline, and the Republicans are only around to pretend to be the party that stands for that, not actually stand for that.  After all, if they did not pretend to stand for that, then another political party might arise which actually stood for that, and the elites which fund both sides would have to cease their feasting.  No, the special interests will feast on the future earnings of the taxpayers until the market stops them, because the Republicrat politicians won't.

Mark is in favor of the reforms to the candidate selection system espoused at Neighbors of Arkansas.

Blue Cross Gaming the So-Called "Private Option", Legislators Contemplate Going "Full Retard"

Concerning Blue Cross cutting specialists reimbursements under the so-called Private Option" by 15% the Arktimes notes...

"Blue Cross's controversial decision is only tangentially connected to the private option itself, and ultimately is an issue that state lawmakers and officials don't have much direct control over. Any attempt at a legislative fix would amount to the state enforcing price controls on a private company.

"I don't think anyone wants to go there," Leding said. Lamoureux agreed: "I'm not in the business of setting the prices of milk or bread or health care and I wouldn't know how to do it if I was." - from the David Ramsey article on Arktimes.

That is correct Senator, and you also don't know how to effectively do all the government meddling in the health insurance market that you have done- but this has not stopped you from screwing it up at great expense. Blue Cross was already the 800 lb gorilla in health care, now thanks to the government herding people into a system only Blue Cross was in position to fully exploit, they are King Kong. If the dollars they get are fixed, they can still make tons of money by cutting expenses.

Of course in the long run specialists will leave the state in favor of surrounding states with higher pay. This will leave Arkansans with "coverage", but without care. That will only increase Blue Cross's profits even more as their "premiums" (i.e. payments from the taxpayers) will remain the same even while their payouts decrease as people can't find a specialist that will do the job for what Blue Cross offers.

Blue Cross is just gaming the system that the government put in place, like many private businesses are doing. Either this is the "Private Option" or it isn't. If you are going to meddle in the health care market as much as you have, it is going to cause dislocations like this. You are either going to have to back off, or go full retard. That is, wind up setting their reimbursements and by degrees telling them how they must run their company until health care is just another wasteful government program. In other words, you will wind up doing what you already admitted that you don't know how to do.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Senator Bryan King on the "Private Option" Drama, and the Fight for the Republican Brand

I recently had an opportunity to interview State Senator Bryan King.   King has been twice named to the Arkansas Watch list of "Ten Best Legislators".   The subject of the interview was the battle over Obamacare in Arkansas specifically, and the risks overall to the Republican brand in this state generally:

Some people think that the Arkansas Republican party is split on the gigantic issue of Obama-care. Is that your view? 

King:  No. It's not the 800 pound gorilla in the room.  It’s the 8,000 pound elephant in the room. 

I don't see the Republican party split. Most of the rank and file members, county committee organizations, and leaders of the Republican Party are against the private option. They see it as I do -- still expanding Obama Care.

Moore: Some members of your party went from at-first trying to deny that the so-called "Private Option" was in fact an implementation of Obama care to saying "Well, we had no choice, Obamacare is the law and we were stuck with it anyway." That sure was not what they were saying last year when they were campaigning, but what about their present claim that nothing could have been done to stop the implementation of Obamacare? Is there anything they could have and should have done differently that would have blocked the implementation of Obamacare in this state?

KIng: First, the statement that we had no choice is completely untrue. Each state had some things that had to be done to comply with the Obama Care. One of the key components of Obama Care was the expansion of Medicaid.   This was clearly left up to the states to decide. Arkansas did not have to expand

Were we stuck with it?  That claim is misleading. Delays in implementing this law have been happening.  In fact,  just a couple months after the regular legislative session President Obama delayed the employer mandate. 
The employer mandate was the biggest argument for Private Option supporters, Beebe included, that Arkansas had to expand Medicaid. Beebe said the mandate would put 35 million in taxes on small businesses. One thing Beebe always does is overestimate the impact to skew the numbers.

There were Republican members calling this the "conservative" choice. There were Republicans saying this was a good deal for the state and bad for the federal government. I have never understood this argument as good for our country or state. I get tired of "free" federal money being promoted. I always tell them look at our national debt and tell me how federal money is free. We were told the whole session that we wouldn't address medicaid expansion. We were told medicaid expansion would be for a special session. This was thrown at us at the end of the session and now we are having to deal with the consequences. The Private Option turned into the WashingtonDC version of the ACA.

Moore: Your earlier answer indicated a rift between what the people who run the Republican party are doing and what the rank and file want done. Obamacare is not the first time this has happened, it is part of a depressingly consistent pattern. What is behind it? Why does the party constantly try to cajole the grassroots to the left on things like Obamacare, Education, Amnesty and open borders, and the growth of government, especially through debt?

King: I would not blame the party. I would say that Private Option has caused many to question our new found Republican majority. The first problem was the election of Representative Davy Carter as Speaker of the House. Representative Terry Rice was clearly the conservative and a handful of Republicans and all the Democrats, along with Governor Beebe, put Carter in as Speaker. 

Not all of us will agree on everything. I have made your top ten list  two times. But even you and I disagree. However, when the people of Arkansas elect a Republican majority - they expect certain values.. Gun rights, protecting life,  and photo identification for voting were some positive outcomes but with all the Democrats voting as a block and a few Republicans with them, Arkansas passed the largest expansion in Arkansas history. It is sad.

Me: It seems like there is a "battle for the soul" of ARGOP. What are the stakes? What do you see happening to ARGOP if this dissonance between what the grassroots want and what party officials do is not corrected?

King: I was elected to the House in 2006. That year was a tough year for Republicans. Pres Bush was unpopular, the war was unpopular, and Republicans were not known as fiscal conservatives. Politics is cyclical. Anybody that thinks otherwise will be reminded in a election cycle.  The other problem is political obstructionism. For example, myself and other legislators could not get straight answers out of DHS about the cost of the Private Option and the demographics of the enrollees. So as Audit Chairman, I asked for a special report on the Private Option. This should be a simple request to  find out the cost to taxpayers, right? But the meeting to approve the request turned into a political melee with Democrats and some Private Option supporting Republicans. Representative John Burris was the biggest obstructionist and said things like "this is a waste of time" and called wanting answers "grandstanding”.

If tea party and typical Republican base voters continue to see things like expanding Obama Care along with political obstructionism - then we will lose.

Me: What can the rank and file member of the party do to fix this? It seems like the emails, phone calls, faxes, and the rest are just completely blown off. How can the average county committee member affect change?
King: Do not give up and support those that are fighting the good fight. Look at the recent John Cooper election in Jonesboro. He fought off two Private Option supporting Republicans in the primary. Both candidates outspent John Cooper by a huge margin, but he still won. He then runs against a Beebe-backed Democrat that supported the Private Option. The race was primarily about the Private Option and Cooper still won. When the grassroots get motivated and works hard - great things will happen. We need to keep working for the right people for the right reasons.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Florida Group Unloads on "Private Option" Obamacare and the Politicians Who Sold It.

Wow.  Some legislatures in other states heard all of the chest thumping that some Arkansas legislators were doing about how great the "Private Option" is.   An advocacy group in Florida did a detailed study on the matter and found the same things we did, only they back it up with even more detail and embarrassing (if they have the requisite sense of shame which makes embarrassment possible) quotes from many Arkansas legislators.  Read that report here.  

Speaking of adding detail, the home team at the Arkansas Project also had a good piece up from Conduit for Action showing why the so-called "triggers" that would end the Medicaid expansion that many legislators to this day are denying is happening cannot be pulled.    Several legislators told us that if we did not get some very real reforms or if federal funding was curtailed then the state would automatically withdraw from the program.   Those assurances are utterly false as we suspected for a long time.   Read the details on why in this report.

And of course six months ago these legislators were telling us we could back out of the plan if we wanted.  Today the Director of DHS says that if the legislature fails to fund the "Private Option"/ Obamacare then there "is no plan B."   Of course he does not want there to be a plan B, he wants government to expand like all Democrats and most Republicans.   Government officials never seem to have a plan B to cut spending, nor do they seem interested in developing one.  To listen to them, we must keep growing government end of discussion.

The thing is, government can't continue to grow while our economy doesn't.   Taxpayers are backing all this spending and our income is not growing so the spending can't keep growing either.  If government, not just with this issue but with all of them, does not get a plan B to reduce spending, economic reality will impose a "plan B" of its own on us.   Really, it is time to face up to the reality that we cannot keep spending more money so that we can at least deal with this crisis on our own terms rather than Plan A.  Which is to keep ignoring reality and keep spending money that we don't have, until the day we can't.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Even the Stones Will Cry Out in Defense of Marriage

Luke 19:   37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the
Lord!”“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” 
There is absolutely no doubt that Jesus defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, as this account in Matthew 19 demonstrates...
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a]and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Some translations render that last phrase "tear asunder."   Let no man tear asunder what God has joined together.   Let us then be careful about tearing down the definition of marriage which Christ Himself gave in order to cobble it together into some fanciful re-definition concocted by post-modern men.

Not that Christian theology is necessary to make a valid defense of marriage.  On this issue, it does not matter whether you believe Man is the result of four billion years of evolution or if you believe that Man is the creation of God Almighty. The bottom line is the same; one social arrangement is clearly the "right" one for society to uphold with the exalted recognition of "marriage" - the nuclear family.

There is intense pressure in today's culture to cast aside the true definition of marriage and set up in its place an absurd and patently false doctrine that in terms of marriage two men equals one man and one woman.  Never mind that it is obviously not so.   The two arrangements are not equal biologically, sociologically, parentally, mathematically, or morally.  Still, the elites in this nation seemed obsessed with the idea that they can re-define reality at their will, and this issue seems to be their tool of choice to condition us to accept their power to redefine all truth.

So great is their sway on the culture that many big pulpits have run from the fight- and therefore we may know that they will run from any tough fight.    Some have totally capitulated, others have simply remained silent or soft-sold the issue in the hopes that it would go away or that someone else would do something.   The national Christian religious figures have failed to cry out.  

Perhaps they have been so flattered by their toadies and hangers-on that they have forgotten that God is able to replace them, even if He must use stones.    If they are silent regarding the truth of God, the very stones could cry out in their stead.   

 In this instance though, God has not replaced them with stones, but rather by a Louisiana red-neck named Phil Robertson.  The Duck Dynasty good ole' boy is not the most eloquent spokesman for the cause of defending God's definition of marriage. He does not present himself as well as many.   He is not the most educated spokesman.   He is probably not the most knowledgable of scripture either.   There are men in pulpits all over this land who are vastly superior to Phil Robertson on all these points- but they won't express the truths he expressed.   They will not use any of their gifts to proclaim the truth on this issue because it draws too much heat and not enough acclaim from "those who matter."

People across this whole nation stood behind Phil Robertson because he said some things, mingled with whatever coarsity, that they were longing to hear from their pulpits, but did not hear.  Indeed, in many churches today, one can sit under the feet of some of these "pastors" for a year and never hear the word "sin" come from their lips.   It doesn't poll well in focus groups or something.

So yes, these men who were too cowardly to fulfill the duties of their pulpit were replaced on this occasion by Mr. Robertson.  They may keep their pulpits, but they have lost their calling.    And some might have more than that to worry about.   How much faith in God does a man have when he won't preach the truth out of fear of man?   Not much according to Revelation and this list of those who will be kept out of the New Jerusalem...

Re. 21:8 But as for cowards and the unfaithful, and the polluted, and murderers, fornicators, and those who practise magic or worship idols, and all liars--the portion allotted to them shall be in the Lake which burns with fire and sulphur. This is the Second Death."

Could it be that someone knows all the right things, and even believes all the right things, but is still counted with the Murderers and liars, simply because they are cowards?   The commonality of all these groups is that they don't really have faith in God.   This lack of faith simply manifests in different ways.   I call on the pastors of this nation to ask God for a renewed and increased amount of faith.