Friday, July 25, 2014

Death and Politics

You know what number I'm going to miss hearing about? The number of "Americans who died because they didn't have access to health care". That number was touted all the time during the debate over the Affordable Care Act. An internet search shows numbers quoted that were all over the map--but about 45-thousand seemed to be the most popular one used by advocates. For the next year or so those same politicians and groups might quote that figure as the "number of lives saved" by the implementation of the ACA--making the assumption that all of the people who "would have died" actually went to the doctor, were properly diagnosed, followed their treatment protocol properly and were "completely healed" of their malady. But eventually, that figure will no longer be used for political purposes--and I'll miss that. Of course, there was never any mention of the number of Americans who died every year despite access to health care. That number is about 2.5-MILLION annually. Kind of dwarves the other number doesn't it? And remember, those were people who had health insurance or Medicaid or Medicare and somehow, they still died. Since death numbers are a very successful political tool, the Left will now have to adopt some new "frightening figures" to quote in support of their growth of Government agenda. My prediction is they will select on of two options: One would be "deaths caused by income inequality". A federal grant will fund a study at some state university that compares the life expectancy for those living in the top 1 or 2% and those in the rest of the income brackets. Then the Liberal think tanks will extrapolate fromt that the "number of people who die because the rich don't pay enough in taxes". That of course ignores the fact that the rich tend not to engage in behaviors that lead to early death--like drug use, committing crimes involving weapons, drunk driving, smoking and imitating stunts they see on MTV "reality shows". The second option will likely be "deaths caused by Global Climate Change". Because this is a "worldwide crisis", that number will be huge--perhaps billions! The anti-business groups will add up everyone killed by heat, cold, floods, tornadoes, droughts, mudslides, lightning strikes, wildfires and earthquakes (those are all "caused by fracking" now--and fracking leads to the release of carbon dioxide so it counts!). And then they will claim that is the "death toll" from Climate Change and that's how many lives we can "save" by paying three times as much to heat and light our homes. The number that Liberals should really rally behind is the 41-thousand Americans who die from illegal drug use every year. That is nearly the same number that died from "lack of health insurance" and that warranted a trillion dollar government program and thousands of pages of new regulations that may or may not be constitutional. Of course, "saving" all of those lives would likely result in too many minorities going to prison--and there are no big corporations to tax or over-regulate in order to "fix" the problem--so I doubt I'll be seeing any "concern" over that "epidemic" anytime soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ewww, Ick

America has a long tradition of naming schools after it's heroes. We place the names of those whom kids can look up to, can model their lives after and who can aspire to be on the buildings where they spend so many of their formative years. It's why there is a Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt School in nearly every city in the country. And now the Gary, Indiana School District is going to uphold that tradition by renaming one of its schools in honor of Michael Jackson. I'll give you a minute to digest that. Children will be attending Michael Jackson School. Now that you've fought off the urge to vomit, let's explore why this is going to happen. In a word: MONEY. Specifically, the money that Jackson's mother, Katherine, is offering the district to participate in an image-cleaning effort for the family meal ticket--even though he is dead. That image-cleaning effort is needed because the vast majority of Americans consider Jackson to be serial pedophile and a drug addict with serious body-image issues to boot. That majority of Americans who question Jackson's well-documented relationship with children apparently does not include the Gary School Corporation Chairwoman Charmella Greer who says "those accusations were never considered during discussions about renaming the school. "He is one of the most beloved artists in the world," Greer told The Associated Press. Jackson's family is always quick to point out that he was found "not guilty" in the only molestation case that did not settle out of court with a big cash payout before going to trial. However, that argument then places Jackson into the same company as one Orenthal James Simpson--acquitted by a California jury. But money talks and widely-held perceptions walk. I'm guessing the Michael Jackson School Media Resource Center will be a little light on books dealing with the school's namesake. And on-line video of Donald Brashear's chilling ABC interviews with Jackson will be blocked from viewing on school computers. Better to present the argument that such actions don't exist in the real world--and that if you tell anyone about them, they won't believe you anyway because I'm rich and famous and your parents are just trying to shake me down for big bucks. Perhaps the Gary, Indiana School District should place a call to the folks over at Penn State University--which tore down a statue and removed the name of "beloved" football coach Joe Paterno after it was shown that he only knew about accusations against an assistant coach and just never bothered to tell anyone about it--for some perspective on which is more important: money someone is willing to give you for an "honor" and the shame that person's name can bring to you and your school. I can't wait for Katherine Jackson to be quoted as saying she "hopes they name an elementary school for her son because Michael always loved the littlest kids the most".

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wheel Tax Mania

How much is the street in front of your house worth to you? What value do you derive from having curbs and gutters on your block? What is it worth to you not to have potholes, standing water and cracked or heaving sidewalks along your street? For a growing number of people here in the Fox Valley, the answer to those questions is apparently twenty bucks. The Oshkosh Common Council is the latest to hear from residents facing special assessments for street reconstruction projects how "unfair" it is that they have to pay such a large bill. I've been covering city politics for 16-years now and I can tell you that these complaints have been a regular occurrence for all 16-years. But the hot new trend among the "I don't want to pay for my street" crowd is the demand for a Wheel Tax upon all vehicles registered in the city. Appleton Alderman Joe Martin should get the lion's share of the credit (or blame) for this trend. He's the one who started calling for it in that city--and now every anti-assessment supporter is jumping on the bandwagon, touting the Wheel Tax as the great "equilizer" when it come to paying for road projects. The only problem is, the Wheel Tax is not as "fair" as the proponents would have you believe. The Oshkosh Corporation will never have to pay the Wheel Tax for all of the vehicles it drives around the city because it is only collected on passenger vehicles registered with the DMV. That also means the Pepsi distributor in town, the UPS delivery center and any other business relying on commercial trucks and other heavy equipment will not pay a single cent (other than gas taxes) toward the reconstruction of their street. However, all of those businesses do pay property taxes--and by placing a special assessment on the projects, they will pay the exact same amount per linear foot as everybody else on the street. THAT is "fair". Perhaps if I hadn't paid a $5600 assessment for reconstruction of my street shortly after moving into my house, I'd have a bit more sympathy for those paying this year, or next year or the year after that. But I knew what the bill was going to be and I set aside enough each month to pay it in full when it finally arrived. Now, everyone else can do the same thing--just like all of the people who paid their special assessments before me--and the people who paid before them. As an added bonus, you will have a greater appreciation for the real value of the street and sidewalks in front of your house. And that is rare for a government service nowadays.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

They're Both the Same

In listening to the protesters who were picketing outside of Hobby Lobby in Grand Chute last weekend go on about how the company being allowed to not pay for four types of birth control pills--out of 20 available--is a huge afront to the "human rights" of women, I realized those ladies are the same as the NRA guys who rail against government bans on certain types of weapons and ammunition as an afront to their Constitutional rights. They both firmly believe that even the slightest exemption to a law (or in the case of the NRA guys, a clearly-established Constitutional amendment) puts the entire law (or amendment) in jeopardy. It's two disparate groups fighting the same philosophical (and perhaps legal) battle. Of course, the two sides would never join forces or express support for each other. The NRA crowd tend to share the values of Hobby Lobby's family founders and would argue that the company shouldn't have to pay one cent for any contraceptives, period. The pro-choice ladies wouldn't be caught dead at an NRA meeting because they believe guns are inherently evil--even though 99.99% of all gun owners never commit a crime with them and manage to not accidentally shoot themselves or other people. But again, the things that they love so much are basically the same as well. Guns can be used to take a life--and contraceptives and abortions are meant to just keep that life from ever happening. On another topic, the next time you hear a Liberal criticizing Israel's response to Hamas launching rockets into the country from the Gaza Strip, call them an anti-Semite. It's the same strategy those on the Left like to use to discredit criticism of President Obama--by labeling those opposed to his social and economic agenda as being "racist". But attacking Israeli leadership is attacking a global minority that has been oppressed for centuries--and it's the same as attacking an American minority who has also risen to power. If the racial makeup of the person in power is the determine places them above logical questioning of their leadership and decision-making, than a ruler's religous beliefs should be afforded the same "cloak of protection". The only difference here is that Israel is fighting forces trying to destroy its country--while President Obama is fighting forces trying to keep him from destroying his country.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Generation Lost In Space

I enjoyed all of the Apollo 11 retrospectives this weekend, marking the 45th anniversary of man landing on the moon.  But what is a bit depressing is that my generation of Americans is NEVER going to do something that impressive or that important.

Neil Armstrong was 38 when he walked on the moon.  Buzz Aldrin was 39.  The average age of the engineers that designed and made all of the systems on-board the spacecraft work was 28.  These were young men who accomplished the greatest technical feat in human history--less than 70-years after the Wright Brothers got the first airplane off the ground.

I'm 41 and I have to wonder what is the greatest thing people around my age--once known as "Generation X"--have done?  The Space Shuttle was a Baby Boomer accomplishment.  The same for the internet, the Hubble Telescope, smartphones, laptop computers and mp3 players.  Facebook and Twitter and most other social media platforms that revolutionized inter-personal communications were actually developed by people younger than us.

Mine was supposed to be the generation that put a man on Mars (and returned him safely to the Earth)--but that funding was cut in the 1970's because the Baby Boomers weren't interested in space travel anymore.  So we ended up making rovers to check out the Red Planet--but is that really as landmark an achievement as actually walking around out there?

I'm told my generation is accomplishing "far more important things" than exploring the solar system.  Mine will be the generation that reverses the 12-thousand year pattern of increasing global temperatures.  Mine will be the generation that finds the source of energy that never runs out and doesn't pollute.  And mine is the generation that made sure employers had to provide free birth control pills to women.  Why do I doubt I will live to see the 45-year anniversary specials for any of those "accomplishments".

About the best I can come up with is that my generation saved rock and roll by bringing grunge and alternative into the mainstream back in the 1990's--and slaying the talentless "hair metal" bands of the 1980's.  Of course, Poison and Motley Crue are still touring and making money--while Nirvana is no more--so I guess we kind of failed on that front too.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why I Weep For the Future of This Country

Today's example of America's decline into the abyss comes from Virginia, where a father traveled halfway around the world in order to establish a new kingdom on the continent of Africa.  Jeremiah Heaton claimed a desolate area between Egypt and Sudan by planting his own flag and declaring the country "The Kingdom of North Sudan".

Heaton did not make this trek in order to establish a new democracy where people could live free of excess taxation.  He doesn't want to have a country where people can practice their religious beliefs however they see fit without Government mandates.  He doesn't even fear Government storming his house at night to take away all his guns.  Instead, Jeremiah Heaton declared himself the King of North Sudan for the sole reason that his 7-year old daughter can call herself a "real princess". 

In case you haven't noticed, being a princess is the hot thing for girls now.  You can blame Disney for that, as  every movie and TV show they produce is about princesses.  So we have an entire generation of girls whose life goal is to be second in command of fictional countries.  I guess you could say that is an upgrade from the previous generation of girls, whose life goal was to be a celebrity with a sex tape and a heroin addiction.

But with the princess infatuation comes the belief that these girls are entitled to pretty much anything they want.  If Daddy isn't going to supply it, they will either throw a fit--or manipulate someone else into getting it for them.  Hence the sense of entitlement that permeates the "Millennial Generation".  Mom and Dad gave me everything that I wanted and now everybody else should be doing the same--even though I'm supposed to be an adult."

Can't you imagine Heaton's little girl at her first day of school this fall one-upping the other kids in her class? "Oh yeah, well I'm a real princess, so you have to do what I tell you to do!"  And I already feel sympathy for the poor guy that ends up marrying her some day.

Heaton is quoted in the Washington Post as saying "“I wanted to show my kids I will literally go to the ends of the earth to make their wishes and dreams come true.” But don't you think the time it took him to travel to this place that is so desolate that nobody wants to claim it for their own country might have been better spent in the actual company of his daughter?  Studies show that girls who spend more time interacting with their dads tend to have greater self-confidence and fewer body issues?  And the money wasted on airplane flights and travel visas and renting vehicles and guides could have gone into an Educational IRA or state-run college savings plan so "the Princess" wouldn't have to take out student loans to get her degree--which will probably make her more money than her "royal title".

Just thought you might like to get a little insight into the next generation of Americans.  Maybe they deserve all of the debt that we are piling on them.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Breakin' the Law

Can you think of a law the Government pays you not to break?  There is no Non-Speeder Subsidy Program.  There are no grants provided to everyone who doesn't rob a bank.  You don't even get a tax credit for not killing your husband when he leaves the toilet seat up and the TP roll empty.  Complying with laws was just expected--and was not "rewarded" financially.

And then along came the Affordable Care Act and its Individual Mandate, which made it the "Law Of The Land" as President Obama likes to put it, that every American have health insurance coverage.  And in order to get people to comply with the new law, the ACA contained a new subsidy program (the cost of which still has not been released) that would help lower-income people--in effect, paying them--to comply with the law.

I was thinking about that yesterday as the press releases poured in from liberals like Mary Burke, Senator Tammy Baldwin and the group Citizen Action Wisconsin decrying the Department of Health Services report that 38,000 people who had been on BadgerCare before eligibility standards were changed did not purchase new policies through the Federal Exchange this year.  Those are 38-thousand people who were living above the poverty line--but who were still going to receive the largest Government subsidies to comply with the Individual Mandate.  Many of them likely just chose not to.

The folks that I just mention don't believe that it's the fault of those 38-thousand or so that they are now breaking the "Law Of The Land"--even though the Government is offering to pay them to comply.  They believe that it is Evil Governor Scott Walker's fault--for not paying them enough to comply with the law.  They continue to criticize the Governor for failing to take $200+Million from the Obama Administration to expand BadgerCare--so the real cost of the Affordable Care Act is eventually hidden in state budgets and not in the Federal budget.

Another thing I find interesting is that when 38-thousand people are convicted of Felony Drug Possession in Wisconsin, those same liberals and their support groups blame the statutes themselves--saying they are "bad laws" that need to be changed or thrown out so that there are fewer offenders needing to be punished.  Yet they will be the last people on Earth to ever suggest the ACA be changed so that there are "fewer offenders" of the law.

Meanwhile, I'll just sit here waiting for my big check for good behavior.