Friday, October 30, 2009

Here's what Pelosi's health care bill will do to you and our nation.

Here's a quick overview of what the Pelosi health care bill will do, compliments of Citizen's Council on Health Care.
Today, Speaker Pelosi released the U.S. House health care takeover bill, H.R. 3962. They say they want to debate the bill beginning on Nov 2nd. The 1,990 page bill is nearly 1,000 pages longer than the original House bill, H.R. 3200.

Do you trust a 2,000-page health insurance reform bill to keep your life and liberty intact? Will your Representatives read it? They didn't bother to read the first House bill when it was only 1,018 pages. Here are just 11 of many concerns in the bill:

  • MANDATE: Mandates that every individual buy health insurance that meets federal approval or face fines and jail time. This alone will enable government-run health care.
  • RATIONING ALLOWED: HR 3200's language prohibiting health care rationing was eliminated.
  • SINGLE-SELLER BUREAUCRACY: Government-run National Health Insurance Exchange where "private" insurance is sold.
  • SINGLE-PAYER: "Public option" plan, created for the purpose of moving everyone (except Congress) to single-payer.
  • ENCOURAGES EMIGRATION: Eliminates 1996 welfare reform law 5-yr waiting periods for federal benefits.
  • ENTITLEMENT EXPANSION: Adds 10 million people to taxpayer-funded Medicaid at a cost of $425 billion.
  • FEDERAL CONTROL: Feds define "essential benefit set" for all insurance policies, allowing denial of care and rationing.
  • END OF MARKET: Individual health insurance market is eliminated (individuals forced to use the Exchange).
  • SMALL BUSINESS THREAT: New taxes, bureaucratic requirements, penalties and fees threaten survival of small business, but HHS today declares reform will "strengthen" small businesses. HHS Report
  • MORE TAXES: New taxes on health plans and medical products passed down in higher health care premiums.
  • PATIENT TRACKING NUMBER: Federal patient identification card - every patient tracked; every patient carded at the clinic; every medical decision controlled.
COST: Although the Congressional Budget Office reports a $104B reduction in the federal deficit, the CBO admits, "These estimates are all subject to substantial uncertainty." They also note in the second sentence of today's report, "this analysis does not constitute a final and comprehensive cost estimate for the bill."

According to the CBO, the bill costs $894 billion over 10 years, and expects to raise $460.5 billion from a high income surtax. The bill makes $425 billion in cuts. After adding 10 million Medicaid recipients to the federal tax rolls at a cost of $425 billion, Congress will require state taxpayers to begin picking up part of the cost in 2015. The CBO says Congress can expect to raise $167 billion in new penalties on individuals and employers.

Isn't there something inherently wrong with depending on penalties for federal revenue??
What can you do? Call your Congressman or woman and tell them your opposition to the bill and why.

Here's what CCHC talking points.
  1. Tell them to read the bill. Call your members of Congress (find them online here) or call the Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Call one or two of them every day. Make a schedule of each day of the week with names and numbers. Get up in the morning, drink your coffee, and give them a call.
  2. ASK them what they are doing to protect you. ASK them what they are doing to preserve your freedom. Don't retreat. Don't give up. Don't listen to the propaganda intended to discourage you.
  3. Email Congress by using the webpage from our friends at FreedomWorks. NOTE: Interject or use your own words for more impact.
  4. Call the White House 202-456-1414 and 202-456-1111 AND email the President (
  5. Contact the Blue Dog's Policy Co-Chair (Rep. Baron Hill - IN) at

"What do abortion and global warming have in common? Tons..."

Those are the first words of an article written by Bradley Mattes with the Life Issues Institute.

He goes on to say:
There’s a growing trend within the environmental activist community to promote abortion as a way of going green. Reducing the world’s population, they claim, is central to protecting the planet.
Isn't that a bit far fetched to connect abortion to the environmental movement? Not if you look at some of the comments coming out from radical environmentalists.

Mattes notes several comments by environmental groups.

One of the most extreme examples of this earth-worship theology is the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. According to them, all of the earth’s environmental problems would disappear if we followed their plan—but then, so would all of mankind: “Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth’s biosphere to return to good health.” Before you dismiss the misguided link between abortion and global warming as some “wing-nut” segment of environ-mentalism, take note that the National Wildlife Federation, Audubon Society, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Policy Institute, Friends of the Earth and the Cousteau Society all subscribe to the view that people are a major threat to the environment, even if their answer isn’t wiping out the entire population.

Then Matte notes the editorial in the September 19, 2009 issue of British medical journal Lancet which says:

"There is now an emerging debate and interest about the links between population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and rights [abortion], and climate change.”

Following their lead, the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science was commissioned by a group called the Optimum Population Trust to come up with a “cost-benefit analysis of reducing carbon emissions.” The study equated human beings with the derogatory term of “emitters.” The title of the study is “Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost.” Their finding was that for every seven dollars spent on “basic family planning”—by their own definition this includes abortion—they would cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than one ton. This proposed solution, they say, should be considered a “primary method” of solving global warming.

Then there's the study from Oregon State University.

Lest you think America is going to let the British have all the glory labeling humans a plague on the earth, Oregon State University weighed in. Its research says the best thing you can do for the environment is to not have any children at all. According to their report, “Reproduction and the Carbon Legacies of Individuals,” we’re responsible for the carbon footprint of our descendents. They say going childless is more “green” than a lifetime of recycling.

Frankly, a closer examination of the issue shows a very logical relationship between radical environmentalism and abortion. They flow from the same materialist, secular naturalist worldview. If man isn't made in the image of God and nature is all that exists and there's no life beyond this life, then man is really an impediment to the environment. And if the god of nature has replaced the Creator God then we better do all that we can to protect nature including killing the unborn and the elderly and the physically and mentally handicapped.

Abortion and radical environmentalism are very closely related.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pelosi new, big government health care bill includes something for everyone -- higher taxes, mandates, subsidies, penalties, and deficits.

Here's Nancy Pelosi's new health care bill in the US House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a $894 billion health care bill Thursday that would extend coverage to 36 million Americans through a mix of subsidies, tax incentives and penalties on individuals and small businesses, but the final package falls short of the more liberal vision of a public health insurance option.

Party leaders would like to start debate on the bill next week and hope to have a final vote before Veteran's Day on Nov. 11.
While it doesn't establish a single payer health care system, it certainly will move things in that direction. It's another example of a government "solution" which will cost lots of money and only make matters worse.

Unveiling the bill at the Capitol, Pelosi said the bill would meet the goals of “affordability of the middle class, security for our seniors, responsibility to our children. It reduces the deficit, meets President Obama’s call to keep the costs under $900 billion over 10 years and it insures 36 million more Americans.”
Pelosi says, “The bill is fiscally sound, will not add one dime to the deficit as it expands coverage, implements key insurance reforms and promotes prevention and wellness across the health system,” Pelosi said.

The legislation would require health insurers to offer broader coverage and end practices that discriminate against higher-risk individuals. It would also establish a national insurance exchange with subsidies to lower- and middle-income households to make coverage more affordable.
But then later in the story we find that in the second half of the ten year period it will create deficits.

The Congressional Budget Office offered Pelosi and her team some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the bill shouldn’t add to the deficit over the first decade after its enactment. The bad is that the legislation is projected to create deficits over the second five years, a fact that should give budget hawks plenty to worry about.

Yet the bill will have people opposing it for various reasons.

Pelosi’s decision to strip a $245 billion package of doctors’ payments also threatens to anger party moderates. The so-called “docs’ fix,” which would fill a long-standing shortfall under Medicare reimbursement rates, would put the overall cost of the bill well over $1 trillion and create more than $200 billion in red ink for the federal government over the next 10 years – two big “no-nos” from President Barack Obama’s perspective.

The bill should cause plenty of headaches for the industries impacted.

The legislation imposes as much as $150 billion in Medicare cuts on the prescription-drug industry – almost double the $80 billion cuts in the Senate bill. It imposes a 2.5 percent tax on medical device manufacturers, a quietly influential force on Capitol Hill, And health insurers, who have already agreed to end many of the practices banned by the bill, would have to compete with a government-run insurance vehicle that would put pressure on them to lower premiums.

In addition, businesses with a combined annual payroll exceeding $750,000 will be forced to pay penalties for its uninsured workers.

As expected, the House bill generates most of its income by imposing a graduated surtax on married couples who make more than $1 million and individuals whose adjusted gross income exceeds $500,000. The initial income thresholds were $350,000 for couples and $280,000 for individuals.
The bill is merely another step in the wrong direction. In the end it will cost more, reduce quality and affordability of health care. Government can't run or manipulate the health care economy in a major way without messing things up.

Again the result of a flawed worldview. One which fails to understand human nature and the proper role of government.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Newspapers continue to hemorrhage. What industry is next? Higher education.

Newspaper circulation numbers continue to hemorrhage. They're now down another 10% over the past six months; the biggest drop in a decade.

It's the largest drop recorded so far during the past decade's steady decline in paid readership -- a span that has coincided with an explosion of online news sources that don't charge readers for access. Many newspapers also have been reducing delivery to far-flung locales and increasing prices to get more money out of their remaining sales.

This has been brought on by the the access to the Internet. What industry will next be impacted by the Internet? Education and especially higher education. Marvin Olasky points this out in a column entitled: "Classroom without Walls: Online Higher Education."

He addresses the question of whether online education can match the classroom experience.
Online media can bring words and photos equivalent to those of a newspaper, but can online education match the classroom experience? And, since college tuition buys not only education (sometimes) but higher status and improved future earnings, will online diplomas be satisfactory union cards?
The evidence suggests online education can be better, at least academically, as classroom education.

Some new evidence suggests that the answer to both questions will soon be yes. More than 1,000 studies of online learning have been published during the past 13 years. A U.S. Department of Education analysis of them concluded that, on average, "students in online learning conditions performed better than those
receiving face-to-face instruction" in the same courses. One reason is that face-to-face is often not face-to-face: Many college students snooze in big lecture halls. In good online courses, though, instructors require every student to answer questions and stay involved.
He then relates his own experience as a university professor.

I've spent three decades in college classrooms and have been to only five operas, all in New York, but here's a tentative analogy: Opera in person is great if you're up close and can both hear the music and watch the expressions on the singers' faces. It's not so great if you're in the balcony. I enjoyed last month sitting with my wife, Susan, in the Lincoln Center plaza and watching Metropolitan Opera HD films, especially since the price was right (free). That's far better than paying $160 just to hug the back wall of the hall.

Similarly, it's great for students to sit in a small seminar with a wise, passionate Christian professor pushing students to think. It's a waste of time and money for students to sit at the back of a big lecture hall as a time-serving tenured mediocrity drones on. The Washington Monthly last month ran an article, "College for $99 a Month." Author Kevin Carey wrote, "The day is coming—sooner than many people think—when a great deal of money is going to abruptly melt out of the higher education system, just as it has in scores of other industries that traffic in information that is now far cheaper and more easily accessible than it has ever been before."

Such articles along with the Department of Education study show that online education has moved from the margins to the center, and that online degrees will soon be thoroughly respectable. The best Christian colleges, the highest-prestige private ones, and the best-funded state universities with good football teams will survive in a bricks-and-mortar way, but online schools will take the place of many mediocre ones.
I think this new development, while being disruptive will be, overall, a definite positive. It will for one breakup the elite, secular worldview which increasingly has a near monopoly on higher education.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gallup says more Americans identifying themselves as conservative in 2009.

A recent Gallup poll shows more Americans identifying themselves as conservative. 40 percent say they're conservative, 36 percent moderate, and 20 percent liberal. The last couple of years, conservatives and moderates were tied at 37 percent.

I thought it was interesting the make up of the different parties. Republicans are predominantly conservative. While among Democrats moderates hold a slight plurality with 39 percent to 37 percent for liberals and 21 percent for conservatives. Of course, what one means by a liberal, moderate and conservative is important. Looking at the political leadership of the Democrat party, liberals are definitely in control.

Political Ideology, 2009 -- by Party ID

The poll also looked at adults' views on different issues. There was movement across the board in favor of less government, less supportive of unions, more supportive of second amendment rights, more pro-life, supportive of promoting "traditional values", and less supportive of global warming.

Americans Also Moving Right on Some Issues

In addition to the increase in conservatism on this general ideology measure, Gallup finds higher percentages of Americans expressing conservative views on several specific issues in 2009 than in 2008.

Of course, the big question is how these attitudes will affect political decisions. I wouldn't be surprised if liberals in Congress try to jam through more liberal policies while they have majorities in Congress even if that means some of their more moderate to conservative Democrats lose in 2010.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Financial crisis hitting poor and minorities hardest; indictment of liberal government policies and worldview.

The current recession brought on in part by the housing bubble has hit the poor and minorities much harder than the middle class and wealthy. That's the point made by Peter Schweizer author of the new book, "Architects of Ruin." He describes the thesis of his book for the Powerline blog.

For all the ink that has been spilled about the mortgage crisis in America, there remains a secret that almost all the major media has ignored: for all the talk of unsold condos in South Florida and McMansions sitting empty in California, the epicenter of this crisis is really in urban and minority neighborhoods....

Studies show that those hardest hit by the financial crisis are poor and minority neighborhoods. A massive study by the Boston Federal Reserve Bank looked and hundreds of thousands of mortgages and foreclosures and discovered that "in the current housing crisis foreclosures are highly concentrated in minority neighborhoods." The study notes that this is a unique phenomenon, "even relative to past foreclosure booms." The study found that those in poor and minority neighborhoods were seven times more likely to lose their homes to foreclosure that then general population.
What's the reason this housing crisis has hit minorities and poor the hardest?
This reality gives us evidence to find out who got us into this mess in the first place: housing activities and government officials who pushed for and got an aggressive affirmative-action lending program for home mortgages.

The idea sounds appealing enough: encourage homeownership in order to reduce crime, unemployment, and broken families. But activities pushed their agenda by demanding that lending institutions loosen their lending standards and look the other way when lending to people with bad credit. Activist groups such as ACORN, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Service Employees International Union pushed banks to use "less traditional income sources such as food stamps, unemployment, part-time jobs, non-court ordered child support and foster care payments" while considering a mortgage application.

Liberal activists also pushed banks to agree "to lower down payment and closing costs" for lenders. What this meant is that the borrower would have little or no money in the game--no incentive to hang on if times got tough. The activists also pushed banks to allow people to take out larger loans on lower incomes, upending the traditional notion that people should only be allowed to have a mortgage payment account for, say, 28% of their income. Activists argued that this was all necessary in the name of social justice.

Subprime lenders such as Countrywide were all too happy to go along because it allowed them to sign even more loans that they could eventually sell to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Countrywide provided, in their own words, "zero- and low-down payment loans and underwriting guidelines that recognize diversity and cultural differences in the way minorities and immigrants may view and conduct their personal financial situations." Defaults and credit histories were now "cultural differences."

Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide, proposed "elimination of down payment requirements for low-income and minority borrowers" to close the gap in home ownership. He wanted to look at "alternative payment histories" on loans and "properly factor in cultural differences on credit, income and spending habits." From a business proposition this made perfect sense. Countrywide was selling most of its mortgages to Fannie Mae anyway, so they wouldn't have to remain on the books. In any given year 30% of the mortgages that Fannie Mae was buying were from Countrywide.

But now that the mortgage bubble has burst, who are the activists blaming? If they once accused banks of making too few loans to minorities, now they claim they are making too many. They claim the financial crisis is a result of unscrupulous lenders giving high-interest or adjustable rate mortgages to poor applicants who didn't know what they were signing. When the rates adjusted, bam, they lost their homes. But the problem is there is little evidence to prove this. Indeed, the problem seems particularly focused on the black community.

The Boston Federal Reserve found in a study of subprime lending that blacks suffered foreclosure rates three times those of whites and Hispanics, and Hispanics twice that of whites, even when they had the same kinds of loans. Blacks tended to put less money down, had lower incomes, and had taken on more debt. They were given the loans because of the flexible underwriting rules activities and their allies in Washington had been pushing for three decades.

The Boston Fed study also found that when it came to adjustable-rate mortgages, the majority of people who lost their homes were foreclosed on before the rate was even adjusted. So it wasn't bad loans. The problem was an affirmative action lending problem that encouraged people to take out loans that they should not have.

There is also no evidence of racism in lending. A study by the New York Federal Reserve Bank looked at more than 75,000 adjustable-rate mortgages and found that minorities did not pay higher interest rates than whites. Indeed, the study concluded that "minority borrowers appear to pay slightly lower rates, as do those borrowers in zip codes with a larger percentage of black or Hispanic residents."

The real culprits here are the social activists and their allies in Washington who pushed an activist agenda. They helped to propel us into the mortgage crisis we face today.

This is a good illustration of the abuse of government power and a faulty view of human nature held by liberal politicians and activists. They thought they could use the levers of government power to create a more equitable society by government fiat rather than recognizing the importance of character and responsible conduct, e.g. living within one's means, not buying what you can't afford and so forth. The result? The ones liberals intended to help were the ones actually hurt the most.

I fear they are attempting to apply the same mindset to the health care problem. Their good intentions are misguided and will actually harm, in the long run, those they intend to help.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

If Obama and Cong. Democrats pass a health care bill will it solve our health problems? Douthat says will merely kick problem down the street.

Are the problems with our nation's health care system going to be resolved if Obamacare is passed with or without a public option? It may reduce the number of people who don't have health insurance but it won't resolve the under cost problems driving premiums upward. In other words, it will give the appearance of a solution but in fact make the overall situation worse.

That's the analysis of the situation by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, who in a column published in the Star Tribune, does a good job of giving an overview of the situation. He says:

Three major problems plague American health care. The cost of premiums is eating up an ever larger share of take-home pay. The cost of our public health care programs is eating up an ever larger share of the federal budget. And millions of people who need insurance are priced out of the market.

Now that Max Baucus’s version of health care legislation has been blessed, at least provisionally, by the hands of Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, it’s increasingly likely that Congress will pass reforms that address the third problem, while making the first two problems somewhat worse.

What will the Baucus type bill do?

If a Baucus-esque bill passes into law, we should expect a significant decline in the number of Americans without health insurance. But for Americans who have employer-based insurance — still the lion’s share of the working-age population — premiums could climb more swiftly than ever.

That’s exactly what’s happened under Massachusetts’s recent reform, the best state-level parallel to what Congress is attempting. The Baucus bill includes measures that might partially counteract this trend — delivery system reforms, for instance, and an excise tax on the highest-premium plans. But their effects are speculative; the Bay State’s swiftly rising premiums are facts on the ground.

Meanwhile, our long-term fiscal trajectory will remain as unsustainable as ever. Baucus’s legislation is revenue-neutral only under rosy political assumptions, and it adds another entitlement to an already-groaning system.

He points out what the reform won't do.
But any lawmakers voting “yes” should have no illusions about what they’re voting for. This version of reform probably won’t make health care more affordable for most Americans, or place the system on firmer footing for the long run. Despite all the talk about a once-in-a-generation opportunity, our political class will have barely finished congratulating itself before rising costs will force everyone back to the negotiating table to consider more radical approaches.
He also touches what many view as the liberals endgame and how a public option moves us closer to -- federal government takeover of health care through a single payer plan.

We know what one such approach would look like. It’s the eventual endgame that liberals pushing a “public option” are aiming for: a federal takeover of the health-insurance sector, paid for by rising tax rates, in which the government guarantees universal access while using its monopoly power to hold down costs.

Douthat has an alternative which he thinks will address the concerns of both those on the right and the left.

But there’s another path, equally radical, that’s more in keeping with the traditional American approach to government, taxation and free enterprise. This approach would give up on the costly goal of insuring everyone for everything, forever. Instead, it would seek to insure Americans only against costs that exceed a certain percentage of their income, while expecting them to pay for everyday medical expenditures out of their own pockets.

Such a system would provide universal catastrophic health insurance, in other words, while creating a free market for non-catastrophic care. In the process, it would marry a central conservative insight — that we’ll never control spending so long as Americans are insulated from the true price of their medical care — to the admirable liberal premise that nobody should go bankrupt paying for life-saving treatment.

The details would vary depending on your political predilections. Under the more free-market approach, championed by Harvard’s Martin Feldstein, the government would provide vouchers for the purchase of private catastrophic plans. Under a more liberal version, like the one sketched out by Berkeley’s Brad DeLong, the government itself would act as the insurer. And liberals and conservatives would no doubt disagree about where to set the income threshold, and what additional interventions to support.

I don't think his suggestion won't gain much support from President Obama and Democrat leaders in Congress who see this as their opportunity to push through what they want.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

US Postal Service facing "acute financial crisis" says Postmaster. Do we really want the government now taking over our health care system?

The Postmaster General says the Post Office is facing an "acute financial crisis".

The following is from a posting on the National Press Club's website.

The 234-year-old U.S. Postal Service is in acute financial crisis, John Potter, the 72nd Postmaster General said Thursday [October 8th] during a National Press Club luncheon.

After losing a projected $7 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, Potter said he is working to help the USPS reinvent itself. It won’t be an easy task, as 28 billion fewer pieces of mail were sent last year compared to fiscal year 2008, he said. Potter said that holiday mail, one of the traditionally highest volume periods of the year, was flat last year — and he expects it to be flat this December, as well.

In addition to more people using email rather than snail mail, and the lagging economy that is causing fewer people to mail printed ads pieces and other promotional materials, Potter believes the USPS’ deficit also grew out of a three-year-old law that added more than $5 billion to annual costs for prefunding retiree health benefits.

“I was nervous about it because I knew we just couldn’t afford to pay that bill when it came due last week,” Potter told the gathered crowd. “Our mailers were nervous, too. They were concerned we’d have to pull back on service to make ends meet — and that would have negatively affected their businesses.”

To stave off the deficit, Potter cut $6 billion in expenses and reduced the USPS career workforce by 40,000 positions. But the man who led the USPS for eight years, and championed the development of a strong privacy program, said that unless the USPS makes significant changes he forecasts losses of $5 billion per year for the foreseeable future.

Options he’s considering include reducing the current six-day per week deliver service of the mail to five days per week, which would cut $3 billion per year from the budget; and adding additional products and services for sale at the organization’s thousands of retail outlets as do postal services in other countries. In Japan, he noted, postal customers can purchase life insurance. In France, postal stations sell mobile phones.

“I am not wedded to any one approach, but we need to generate new revenue,” the postmaster insisted, noting that solutions may not come easily because of the way the USPS is organized. It is overseen by Congress, but is charged with running like a business. He did admit that politics is an issue he contends with, but said he’d prefer to keep his eye on the real issue of finding ways to balance his budget.

Certainly the Post Office like every other business is facing tough economic times which, coupled with the rise of the Internet and email, makes it's primary activity - delivery of mail - increasingly less attractive to the general public. I increasingly have second thoughts every time I put a 40 plus cent stamp on a letter.

The question is: should the government be in the postal business? Or can it effectively be in the postal business? The problem with government is it's not accountable to the market hence consumers. Therefore it's it's often incredibly inefficient in how it does things. And because it's owned by the government it simply doesn't go out business, it just runs up deficits which are covered by the taxpayers.

I think the experience with a government run postal office is instructive when considering plans to expand the government's reach and control of health care in our nation.

If the government can't effectively run the postal service, there's no question in my mind the government has no business taking on something as complex as the health care industry. Unfortunately, the stakes are much higher with health care; people's very lives are at stake versus delivering some letters and mail to our homes on time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One of, if not, the most important index in society - Marriage Index.

The Center for American Values has released a Marriage Index tracking the health of marriage in America. We know about the leading economic indicators tracking the health of the economy. The marriage index will now do it for marriage.

There are five major factors they track: percent of adults married, percent of married person "very happy" with their marriage, percent of intact first marriage, percent of births to married persons, and percent of children living with their biological, married parents.

The report addresses: Is there a need for a marriage index and why the above factors as the basis for it? Has the health of marriage declined or are families just more diverse? Why has the African American family been disproportionately affected? What can be done to improve the score?

Since 1970 the index has dropped from 76.2 to 60.3. In the African American community it's dropped from 64 to 39.6.

Marriage is the foundation of the family and and by extension society. If the foundation is weak so will the rest of society be weak. For many people there's a disconnect between society's social ills and bad family situations. Yet the effects are real. All one has to do is one's own life and think about why we do what we do, our strengths and weaknesses, and we realize the habits, attitudes formed while young stay with us. That's not to say family life is destiny and many people have overcome deficiencies in their family life to do well. But the key is the need to "overcome" which takes effort and work. Many people don't overcome.

Family is the key character forming institution in society. If kids don't get it right there, they will have a strike or two against them once they leave their family. Frankly, many, most of society's social ills have be laid at the doorstep of marriage and family deterioration.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Would the international, global warming treaty, the Copenhagen Treaty, be a threat to American sovereignty?

Here's a link to a posting of an excerpt of a talk on global warming given by British Lord Monckton in the Twin Cities last week. (The full talk is posted here.)

He asserts that the United Nations Climate Change Treaty which is scheduled to be signed in Copenhagen in December 2009
will establish an international government entity designed to enforce provisions of the treaty which would then place enormous restrictions on developed countries regarding CO2 omissions. In turn this would have significant negative consequences for our economy.

Here's a link to a draft of the treaty being negotiated.

Here are a couple of the controversial provisions in the treaty. The first provision would
establish a world governmental entity to enforce the provisions of the treaty.

38. The scheme for the new institutional arrangement under the Convention will be based on three basic pillars: government; facilitative mechanism; and financial mechanism, and the basic organization of which will include the following:

World Government (heading added)
a) The government will be ruled by the COP with the support of a new subsidiary body on adaptation, and of an Executive Board responsible for the management of the new funds and the related facilitative processes and bodies. The current Convention secretariat will operate as such, as appropriate.

To Redistribute Wealth (heading added)
b) The Convention’s financial mechanism will include a multilateral climate change fund including five windows: (a) an Adaptation window, (b) a Compensation window, to address loss and damage from climate change impacts [read: the "climate debt" Monckton refers to], including insurance, rehabilitation and compensatory components, © a Technology window; (d) a Mitigation window; and (e) a REDD window, to support a multi-phases process for positive forest incentives relating to REDD actions.

With Enforcement Authority (heading added)
c) The Convention’s facilitative mechanism will include: (a) work programmes for adaptation and mitigation; (b) a long-term REDD process; © a short-term technology action plan; (d) an expert group on adaptation established by the subsidiary body on adaptation, and expert groups on mitigation, technologies and on monitoring, reporting and verification; and (e) an international registry for the monitoring, reporting and verification of compliance of emission reduction commitments, and the transfer of technical and financial resources from developed countries to developing countries. The secretariat will provide technical and administrative support, including a new centre for information exchange [read; enforcement].

A second would mean the compensation of third world countries by the West:
17. [[Developed [and developing] countries] [Developed and developing country Parties] [All Parties] [shall] [should]:]
(a) Compensate for damage to the LDCs’ economy and also compensate for lost opportunities, resources, lives, land and dignity, as many will become environmental refugees;

(b) Africa, in the context of environmental justice, should be equitably compensated for environmental, social and economic losses arising from the implementation of response measures.
I'm told the site had over 120,000 hits as of Monday morning despite being posted only last Thursday.

Certainly Obama signing and then the Senate ratifying the treaty would have a major impact on our economy. This has the makings of a battle royale.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Whither global warming and "cap and trade" expected to cost Minnesota families $1,700 a year.

With unusually cold temperatures there hasn't been as much talk about global warming. The operative code word now is "climate change".

Yet despite the refusal of Al Gore to acknowledge the errors of his work on global warming, the push for "cap and trade" continues. The proposal is expected to cost the typical American family between $1770 and $2900 a year.

Passage of cap and trade will be one of those tax increases which will force the already shaky US economy off into a ditch like ill-advised government policies did in the 1930s, extending the Great Depression through the entire decade.

We shall see what happens in the coming years of this decade.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spirituality in America: far from a biblical worldview

A poll on spirituality in America recently reported by Parade Magazine (October 4, 2009) reveals how far we as a society have slipped from a biblical understanding of faith and spirituality, in which faith is grounded in truth revealed in the Bible and is integrated into all aspects of our lives.

The poll indicates that although Americans tend to be spiritual minded, its largely a self-styled, self-determined, and self-centered spirituality that is practiced, if at all, for people's own peace of mind and has little impact on how they think, the choices they make, or how they live their daily lives. Click here to read the Parade article.

Sadly, the poll reflects the pervasive post-modernism that has infected American society. It begs the question posed by The Truth Project(TM): Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who's leading the conservative resurgence in the US? President Obama?!

Rich Lowry has a humorous and clever column on the resurgence of the Republican Party and conservative causes in general. It's not the result of a prominent conservative spokesperson or political figure. Rather it's being led by President Obama, albeit unintentionally, and his aggressive push for a liberal agenda in Congress. People appear to be moving aggressively back in the conservative direction after drifting to the left over the past few years.

Lowry writes:
In nine months, he has breathed life into the Republican Party, boosted pro-lifers, tarnished the reputation of regulation, bolstered traditional values, increased the public's desire for immigration restriction and shifted independent voters rightward. No, Obama hasn't turned back the oceans. But revivifying conservatism almost before books announcing its death could be published qualifies as a feat almost as miraculous.
He points to polling showing a resurgence of identification with conservatism and related causes.
Gallup's surveys in recent months are a long catalog of the Obama snap-back. Fifty-three percent of Americans want government to promote traditional values -- "a return to the prevailing view from 1993 through 2004." Half of Americans want less immigration -- "a return to the attitudes that prevailed in the first few years after 9/11." Forty percent of Americans describe themselves as conservative -- "a level last seen in 2004." Fifty-one percent of Americans call themselves pro-life -- "a significant shift from a year ago." a significant shift from a year ago."
The rapid shift in public views on the issues is quite remarkable. If Lincoln is right and public sentiment ultimately guides the political process then change will follow though exactly when is uncertain.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jesus, football, secular intolerance and confusion.

There's an interesting article in US Today which highlights the intolerance and confused thinking of the modern secular person who attempts to hide behind guise of open mindedness and tolerance.

The article is entitled, "And I'd like to thank God Almighty". The writer Tom Krattenmaker has a beef with high profile athletes who use their public notoriety to espouse their Christian beliefs.

He says:
"They are also leveraging sports' popularity to promote a message and doctrine that are out of sync with the diverse communities that support franchises, and with the unifying civic role that we expect of our teams. Typifying the exclusive creed taught by many sports-world Christians is the belief statement published by Baseball Chapel, which provides chaplains for all major- and minor-league baseball teams. Non-believers in Jesus, the ministry declares, can look forward to "everlasting punishment separated from God."
Yes, they are promoting the belief held by Christians since day one. That Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. (In fact, those are Jesus' very words.)

Krattenmaker doesn't like this narrow religious belief because it's "out of sync with the diverse communities that support franchises." In other words, their views are not politically correct.

He goes on to say that these sports teams are "our team" and intimates that these athletes should not be making these sorts of narrow comments, because these teams are supported by "tax-paying" persons.

The implication is clear: these athletes should drop their comments about Jesus being the only way to heaven, because people pay taxes and we have this notion of the separation of church and state. Thinking along this line means the belief should never be made even in churches, because taxes benefit churches which use public fire and police protection.

Realizing he could be a tad bit intolerant himself, which would be form of hypocrisy given his claims, he throws in the comment:

These sports stars, like all Americans, have a right to express their faith.

And of course

Evangelical players and ministry representatives in sports aren't out to harm anyone, of course. On the contrary, they see themselves as fulfilling the Bible's Great Commission ("Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Matthew 28:19). In this sense, their mission is pure altruism: They seek to share the gift of eternal life.

But then again there's this one little problem. This pesky belief that their belief in God is the right one.

But there's a shadow side to this. If their take on God and truth and life is the only right one — which their creed boldly states — everyone else is wrong.

Can't we all just get along and say everybody is right?

Of course, according to Mr. Krattenmaker, there's the view of American Christians delivered to us by the Pew Forum poll which should resolve the question.

It's not just non-Christians who might have a thing or two to say about this exclusive theology. According to a December 2008 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life, 65% of American Christians believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. Our pluralism is a defining and positive reality of American life — but not one that is much valued by those who define the faith coursing through the veins of sports culture.

So that settles it, if two-thirds of self identified American Christians don't believe a basic tenet of Christianity - the uniqueness of Jesus as the only way to salvation - it should be dropped and no longer spoken about in public by athletes who still happen to believe what the Bible says.

Krattenmaker then pulls out Tim Tiebow the star quarterback on the University of Florida football team who as you might have guessed it is an outspoken evangelical Christian, one of those guys with a narrow view of salvation. The author again doesn't want to appear too intolerant so he says we should applaud Tiebow's good works but he's one of those "who promotes a form of belief that makes unwelcome judgments about everyone else's religion."

In making and acting on rigid claims about who is or isn't in good standing with God, the Bob Tebow organization is working at cross purposes with the majority of Americans — indeed, the majority of American Christians — and their more generous conception of salvation.

Certainly, Tim Tebow must be applauded for the good he does working on his father's missions, but he should be seen, too, as one who promotes a form of belief that makes unwelcome judgments about everyone else's religion. Let's not forget the twinge that is felt by sports-loving Jewish kids and parents, for example, or by champions for interfaith cooperation, when adored sports figures like Tebow use their fame to push a Jesus-or-else message.

Is sports-world evangelicalism really "good for everything"? Certainly a lot, but not everything. Not if you're Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, non-evangelical Protestant, agnostic or anything else outside the conservative evangelical camp.

The illogic and confusion of Mr. Krattenmaker comments are very evident. First, he's being just as narrow as those he accuses of being narrow. Is his implicit view the only way, e.g. there any many roads to salvation? Isn't it narrow for him to think he has the right answer?

Second, has he ever thought that just maybe there's a unity, consistency between beliefs of Christianity which says we're to love God, aka Jesus and love our neighbor? Jesus thought so when he said the two commands go together. That you can't just pick and choose which tenets of Christianity you like and discard the rest? That these players wouldn't be the same person if you tried to chop up their faith into acceptable and unacceptable beliefs?

I think what Mr. Krattenmaker wants is a faith of his own making. The faith of good deeds and nice guys and of course one where all religions lead to salvation. (Even if that defies the laws of logic.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Obama seeks to invoke the blessing of God while at the same time rejecting His standards regarding marriage and human relationships.

President Obama reaffirmed his intention to overall the mores of American society in his address to the Human Rights Campaign Fund event. (You can view it here.) He wants to do so by jettisoning the belief that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman and children need a mother and a father.

How so? By his intention to redefine the institution of marriage by repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and establish a marital type status under the guise of domestic partnerships.

He also made his purpose clear when he said:
You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman.

What he is saying is there really is no difference between the two types of relationships. His view is not only morally wrong but factually wrong from both a health and societal perspective.

I'd be interested in what he grounds his view in. What ethical system he looks to? It's certainly not found in the moral tenets of Christianity or any other major religious system. Nor in the natural law rooted in the nature God has given to us.

Both Christianity and the natural law clearly reject the view that homosexual relationships are on par with those between a man and a woman. From just a biological and health perspective, homosexual behavior violates our natures and what's healthy for the human person.

Obama also sought to invoke God's blessing when he said
, "Thank you for the work you're doing. God bless you. God bless America."

It's also very postmodern, e.g. relativistic that the president would seek to invoke the blessing of God on our nation and those actively seeking to overturn God's moral standards while at the same time stating it's his goal to reject God's standards in practice.

The President would do well to read and take to heart the words of the prophet Isaiah 5:20 "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!"

Read more at: President would do well to read the prophet Jeremiah who sa

Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize. For what?

It's announced that President Obama is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Of course the award is given for some particular accomplishment, or normally so. President Obama's accomplishment? Giving the world hope apparently. I'm not sure that's the case and, in fact, in my view his policies are inviting trouble both on the security and economic fronts.

His selection probably says more about the politicized nature of the Nobel Peace Prize. Here's an interesting list of past recipients of the award by the folks at Powerline.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Will health care be better whatever form Obamacare passes Congress?

With significant majorities in both the US House and Senate, some sort of health care bill will no doubt be jammed through the Congress and signed into law. The question has to be asked will health care be improved or worsened in America. With greater government involvement and control, the answer is clearly worse. All we have to do is look at other nations which already have socialized medicine. They're trying to move away from it.

The salient question is about quality of health care not access. Today very few people don't have access to health care though many don't have insurance. Efforts to mandate health care insurance will provide illusory success. What I mean by that is many people still won't have insurance even if you mandate it. It's estimated that 15% of people don't have auto insurance even though it's required by law. But regulations and price control efforts will stifle access to quality health care and reduce innovation and development of treatments for people who are truly sick.

Gary Bauer highlights a couple of these concerns regarding where Obamacare could take us.

The Contradictions Of ObamaCare

In recent days, the Wall Street Journal’s website has posted two columns that have exposed the glaring contradictions of ObamaCare. In the first column, Peter Suderman notes that in our federalist system of government the states have been called “laboratories of democracy,” free to try “novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

Several states have already experimented with key elements of ObamaCare, and the results are not good. But Obama and congressional Democrats are about to put the rest of the country at risk by nationalizing those failed experiments. You can read Suderman’s article here.

The second column, entitled “Obama’s War On Specialists,” was an analysis of how the Obama plan will impact any American suffering from heart disease, cancer or any ailment requiring a specialist. Here’s what it said:

“Democrats are systematically attacking specific medical fields like cardiology and oncology … trying to engineer a ‘cheaper’ system so that government can afford to buy health care for all -- even if the price is fewer and less innovative ways of extending and improving lives. …The increase in specialists has tracked advances over 50 years in medical science and technology. Democrats look at these advancements and see only the costs, not the benefits. …

“Markets are supposed to determine the composition of the workforce, not a command medical economy run out of Washington. …Americans might take a different view of health-care ‘reform’ if they understood that it means snuffing out the best medicine.”

This is a very important point that cannot be ignored. Last year, the Director of the Congressional Budget Office told Congress, “In explaining why health costs rose over the past several decades, most analysts agree that the most important factor has been the emergence, adoption, and widespread diffusion of new medical technologies and services.” [Emphasis added.] Do we want to save money by going back to 1970s technology, by denying MRIs and life-saving drugs like the socialized “command medical economies” in Europe?

The Washington Times recently pointed out: “A new study by … the University of Pennsylvania shows that for the eight most common types of cancer, Americans have dramatically higher survival rates than Europeans. For all malignancies, the five-year survival rate for men is 66.3 percent in America. In Europe, it is only 47.3 percent. The rate is 63 percent for women in America, but only 55 percent for European women.” The lives those statistics represent are at stake in this debate.

Share these facts with friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives so that they understand what this plan will do to specialist care in this country.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pawlenty to assuage so-cons in Iowa

Gov. Pawlenty's trip to Iowa next month provides him with an opportunity to assuage erstwhile Huckabee supporters of his social conservative credentials. He should then make the case for an electable candidate who is a fiscal and small government conservative as well.

Gov. Pawlenty headling Iowa GOP event next month.

MN Lottery sales go up and expect a push for more gambling in Minnesota.

The Minnesota state lottery reports record sales of lottery tickets, $481 million sold in fiscal year 2009. And a record $123 million going into the state's coffers. The result? Expect a push for more gambling in Minnesota.

Reasons there will be a big push for expanding gambling in the state are the state's ongoing budget deficit and the need for a new Vikings' stadium. One's already hearing on sports talk radio, the answer to building a new Viking stadium is one arm bandits. And Rep. Tom Hackbarth recently proposed a constitutional amendment to place slot machines at the horse race tracks. This would put the Vikings and the NFL in a tough spot, because the league is very nervous about any link between football and gambling. If this were to pass, it would mean gambling efforts directly subsidizing a NFL football team.

Beyond those issues, gambling is simply a bad idea. We already have too much gambling in Minnesota. Gambling constitutes a tax on the poor who gamble in disproportionate numbers to others in society. And the social costs far outweigh any social benefits, e.g. crime, family break-up to mention a few. It's a corrupting influence on society and should be rolled back not expanded.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We've so far avoided a depression, but for how long given Obama's policies?

There's article in the Washington Post by columnist and economist Robert Samuelson entitled, "Why there was no depression." I would add the word "yet", because I don't think we're out of the woods yet. I say that because the problems and sources of problems underlying the 1930s Great Depression are still distinct possibilities today with policy proposals trumpeted by President Obama.

The Depression in the 1930s is attributed largely to bad government policies. Raising up tariffs dramatically during the early 1930s which choked off trade and reduced economic activity. Raising taxes dramatically on businesses, which create jobs, and private individuals. Bad monetary policy -- keeping interest rates artificially low which distorted investment and business decisions. And so forth.

Now fast forward to 2009. There are efforts to restrict trade on some goods and services with other countries, e.g. tariff barriers.

And the Fed has continued to print money and have kept interest rates artificially low.

President Obama has exploded the government's debt load and to close the gap he'll invariably choose taxes increases over spending decreases. He'll allow many of the Bush tax cuts to expire in the next year or two. He's proposing "cap and trade" policies which will slow economic activity and drive up the cost of goods and services for families. Estimates suggest cost increases would be the equivalent of anywhere from a $800 to $1700 tax increase per family. And he's proposing a massive increase in health care spending. By as much as $100 billion a year.

Arthur Laffer in a Wall Street Journal article, "Taxes, Depression and Our Current Problems" argues that bad fiscal policy played an important role in continuing and deepening the depression.
The damage caused by high taxation during the Great Depression is the real lesson we should learn. A government simply cannot tax a country into prosperity. If there were one warning I'd give to all who will listen, it is that U.S. federal and state tax policies are on an economic crash trajectory today just as they were in the 1930s. Net legislated state-tax increases as a percentage of previous year tax receipts are at 3.1%, their highest level since 1991; the Bush tax cuts are set to expire in 2011; and additional taxes to pay for health-care and the proposed cap-and-trade scheme are on the horizon.
The longer I look at things, the more convinced I am that government got us into this mess and government will likely keep us in this mess longer than necessary.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Obama is "helping" the pro-life movement?

President Obama is arguably the most pro-abortion president in our nation's history. Yet ironically he maybe helping move our nation in the pro-life direction.

Two polls out in May and August note a significant movement in the American public's identifical with pro-life positions and views.

A newly released Pew Research Center Poll found:

For most of the last two decades, a clear majority of Americans has supported the right to abortion. A new poll, though, suggests that support for abortion may have declined, with the public almost evenly divided over the issue.

The apparent shift, which contradicts some other recent polls, appears in a poll by the Pew Research Center released on Thursday. A 2008 poll by Pew researchers had found that those in favor of keeping abortion legal outnumbered opponents, 54 percent to 40 percent. In the new Pew poll, the gap has narrowed: 47 percent of those surveyed said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 45 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases — a difference within the poll’s margin of sampling error.

The reason for the shift is? President Obama in the opinion of the Pew researchers.

The new survey did not find the reasons for the shift in opinion. But Pew researchers pointed out that the shift has occurred since the election of President Obama, a Democrat who supports abortion rights but has often spoken about the need to reduce the number of abortions. New York Times/CBS News polls, as well as others, found no such shift after Bill Clinton — also a Democrat who supports abortion rights — took office. Pew has no comparable data on the issue dating back that far.

Add in a Gallup poll and the shift is even more striking. Gallup found a significant shift in the number of people who identify themselves as pro-life v. pro-choice. And 60% of respondents believe abortion should be either illegal under all circumstances or legal under a few circumstances versus 37% who believe it should be legal under all circumstances or legal under many circumstances. Up from 57% to 41% in May of 2008.

A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.

The new results, obtained from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002.

The May 2009 survey documents comparable changes in public views about the legality of abortion. In answer to a question providing three options for the extent to which abortion should be legal, about as many Americans now say the procedure should be illegal in all circumstances (23%) as say it should be legal under any circumstances (22%). This contrasts with the last four years, when Gallup found a strong tilt of public attitudes in favor of unrestricted abortion.

Though I think Obama's policies are awful in regards to abortion, I guess we can thank him for his "help" in moving overall public sentiment in the pro-life direction.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The social radicals' radical -- gay activist Kevin Jennings in the Obama Department of Education.

Kevin Jennings, homosexual activist, appointed by President Obama to be the assistant deputy secretary of safe and drug free schools in the department of Education.

Here's some of what Mr. Jennings believes and stands for. According to and linked to by Powerlineblog:

If you were looking for a tutor or even a babysitter for your child would you hire...

...a person who founded and ran an organization where instructors had explicitly described to middle school youngsters how to perform homosexual sexual acts?

...a teacher who had been told by a boy of 15 that he had been sexually abused by an older man, but did not tell authorities or his parents or do anything to protect the youngster from the abuser?

...a man who publicly stated that he was inspired by a man who was the number one proponent and promoter of pedophilia in the country?

...a person who wrote the forward to a book called
Queering Elementary Education?

...a person who has publicly, in writing and in speeches, ridiculed and demeaned people of faith?

...a person who has publicly, in writing, encouraged young people to defy their parents and religious leaders?

It's reported that Mr. Jennings had these laudatory words to say about a Harry Hay the founder of NAMBLA, the Man Boy Love Association, a pedophilia group.
One of the people that’s always inspired me is Harry Hay, who started the first ongoing gay rights groups in America. In 1948, he tried to get people to join the Mattachine Society [the first American homosexual “rights” group]. It took him two years to find one other person who would join. Well, [in] 1993, Harry Hay marched with a million people in Washington, who thought he had a good idea 40 years before. Everybody thought Harry Hay was crazy in 1948, and they knew something about him which he apparently did not—they were right, he was crazy. You are all crazy. We are all crazy. All of us who are thinking this way are crazy, because you know what? Sane people keep the world the same [sh*tty] old way it is now. It’s the people who think, ‘No, I can envision a day when straight people say, ‘So what if you’re promoting homosexuality?’ Or straight kids say, ‘Hey, why don’t you and your boyfriend come over before you go to the prom and try on your tuxes on at my house?’ That if we believe that can happen, we can make it happen. The only thing that will stop us is our lack of faith that we can make it happen. That is our mission from this day forward. To not lose our faith, to not lose our belief that the world can, indeed, be a different place. And think how much can change in one lifetime if in Harry Hay’s one very short life, he saw change from not even one person willing to join him to a million people willing to travel to Washington to join him. You can see the same changed happen in your lifetime if you believe you can.’’
Considering what Mr. Jennings stands for and believes, his appointment makes an mockery of the mandate of the office he's now heading up "safe schools".

Moral bankruptcy is in full bloom at the Obama Department of Education. One more reason to abolish the Department of Education?