Sunday, March 26, 2017

The false masters of words

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – – that’s all.”
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

We seem to have lots of Humpty Dumptys in politics, their words mean what they choose, not what most people think they mean.

Take the “Freedom Caucus”.  What do they mean?  It certainly doesn’t mean freedom to govern ourselves according to generally accepted rules.  To them it means freedom to do what they damn well please, to hell with whoever else's freedom they tromp on.

Just what are “conservatives” conserving.  It certainly isn’t resources.  It certainly isn’t careful consideration before making any changes.  To too many “conservatives” it means either conserving the power of large corporations or conserving a very narrow view of religion. ironically, the latter don’t hold the former to “you cannot serve both God and Mammon.” - Matthew 6:24.

As I’ve written more times than some of my readers would like, “free market” means, according to the Humpty Dumptys is again, free for the sellers to do as they please.  To them the free market is not providing buyers with all the information they need and is not avoiding externalities such as pollution and worker safety.  These to them are impediments to “free markets”.

“Liberals” misuse words also, but their goals tend to be more friendly to the general populace.  But sometimes their “liberality” works counter to the general welfare or unnecessarily creates opposition to certain desirable goals: like letting people lead the lives they choose.

I think “gay marriage” has lost a lot of otherwise “liberal” votes because many supporters have a different view of marriage.  I’ve always thought this problem should be dealt with by a “granny rule”.  If two grandmothers choose to live together, is it our business whether they sleep in the same bed or in different rooms?  It is “our business” if one of them dies.  Does the survivor have to sell the house to pay the inheritance of the deceased’s children and grandchildren?  To avoid this situation, any group of people who choose to live together should be able to have a civil contract that protects the interests of each member of the group.

Friday, March 24, 2017

There never can be a free market in health care

I submitted the following comment to David Brooks “The Trump Elite. Like the Old Elite, but Worse”, New York Times, 2014-03-24, (Warning, my comment is buried among several others.)

There never can be a "free market" in health care.  Sure the sellers are free to leave the market, but few of the buyers are free to leave the market.

Let's hope it doesn't happen to you, but suppose you are in a car crash on a rural road.  First responders find you unconscious and decide to send you to a big city hospital rather than the nearest small town hospital.  Depending on the severity of your injuries, they call an ambulance (very expensive) or a helicopter (really expensive).  Oh yes, there is no free market in either because there are not many sellers of either, not many being only one.

There can be a free market in insurance providers, but how free a market is there when only five or six providers in your market?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Health care, RINO's and rhinos

I posted the following to the New York Times article "Yes, Senator, You Wouldn't Want to Lose Your Mammograms – or Women Voters".  See

I think we should stop calling "Republicans" Republicans.  They definitely are not the party of Res Publica (public things).  They either are corporatists or stone throwing sinners.

I always wonder where the party I once was a precinct officer of would have become if John Anderson had won the nomination in 1980.

- End of NYT submission

Around the time Ronald Reagan became President the term RINO started being used heavily: Republican in Name Only.  It was used to cast out those who believed in the "big tent" that both parties claimed to be.

But I often wonder if the term shouldn't be "RHINO", a big, lumbering mammal with poor eyesight and a willingness to attack anything it sees as a threat.  Which is just about anything that moves.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Republican governors’ oxen gored

Republican governors are complaining about the cuts to the Federal grants they received.  These governors include many whose states already receive far more in federal money than their residents pay in taxes.


My comment was “States’ rights to federal funding?”

I also added a comment to Socrates who began "The Grand Old Parasites want everything and systematically refuse to pay for it.  They want something for nothing and refuse to acknowledge that taxes are the cost of civilization.”

Ironically, "taxes are the cost of civilization" supposedly was said by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, appointed by Theodore Roosevelt.  I think both are spinning in their graves at the current status of their party.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Can travelers stop Trump?

I thought I saw an article in BBC News that many people in other countries who could travel to the U.S. are choosing to go elsewhere.  For example, a British professor who received a travel grant decided to use it to travel to a conference not in the U.S.  In addition, travel to the U.S. supposedly is down.  Is this seasonal or because of Trump.

Trump’s travel ban is having an effect on doctors for small towns.  See  Many of these small towns depend on foreign doctors because many U.S. doctors aren’t interested in working in low-paying areas.

I wonder how much people leaving the U.S. and people not considering can put a crimp in the support of Trump.

What if all those U.S. residents who are foreign-born decided to go elsewhere?  I have many foreign-born friends, some who are also citizens.  I would not like to see them leave.  But as with the doctors, if large numbers of engineers, professors, programmers moved outside the U.S., would the U.S. economy be hurt enough to get many of Trump’s enablers to abandon him?

What if large numbers of temporary visitors decided to go elsewhere?  Would the travel industry feel it enough to complain to politicians.

If this came to pass, I know who Trump would blame: me.

Actually probably not me, but I’m sure he would find lots of scapegoats other than himself.

An additional thought along these lines.  How much do U.S. travelers enable other anti-democratic leaders?  Could a large enough boycott have an effect on these leaders, or would their countries become another North Korea?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Republicans are all for choice except…

“Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love, and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”
Jason Chaffetz, Republcian Rep., Utah

But Republicans don’t want to give people much choice when it comes to transportation.  We should all rely on cars and planes.  Forget trains, buses, and subways.  They would rather build more and more freeways, taking away the tax bases of central cities.

The cost of a cell phone pales in comparison to cost of a car, even a decent used one.  Then there is all the gas, service, and parking places for it.

And the car has destroyed many a downtown because people prefer going where there is “free parking”.  But what is the cost of that free parking: rain runoff (filled with contaminants) and heat radiation.

And what is the cost of health care compared to a cell-phone.    We each pay $238 for medical insurance deducted from our Social Security checks.  We don’t pay anyway near that for our cell phone service.  And the iPhone that is not fully paid for costs only $16.67 per month.

And what is the cost to the rest of us for an uninsured person?  Companies should worry about people showing up sick because they can’t get afford medical care.  All of us should be concerned about somebody who doesn’t get care for a communicable disease.  Did you ever hear about Typhoid Mary who worked in food service?  See  Although she never became sick from typhoid, she was a carrier who infected many of the families she cooked for.

Health care for all of us means better health for all of us.  True conservatives would want to keep as many people well as possible.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Good companies benefit from good regulations

The New York Times had an article on a small group of business in Toledo that thought less regulation would help their businesses.

See “The President Changed. So Has Small Businesses’ Confidence”, Landon Thomas Jr, 2107-03-12

Many people fail to realize that government makes businesses run more smoothly because it levels the playing field by keeping other businesses honest.  Government is the force that reduces externalities.

Does a quality restaurant want to compete with a sloppy restaurant that has unsanitary conditions, pays extremely low wages, and just dumps its garbage anywhere.  Food inspections have saved lots of lives and protected other restaurants from unfair competition.

Does a trucking company that follows safety laws want to compete with a company that overworks its drivers who are encouraged to speed.

Does a quality manufacturer want to compete with a manufacturer who cuts costs by avoiding a lot of safety practices?

Does a food processor want to face a law suit from a person who has a really bad reaction because the company didn’t follow government labelling regulation?

Does any company want to do business with a bank that doesn’t keep a government-mandated reserves?  It has happened over and over again that people and companies have lost a great deal of money when a bank went belly-up.  The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has certainly reduced the losses of many a company.

If a government didn’t enforce certain standards of safety and fiduciary responsibility, would more businesses be looking at costly law suits?  By showing that they were making every effort to follow the regulations, wouldn’t they blunt these suits, especially if they kept good compliance records.

And well-run companies will also pay less insurance than their slap-dash competitors.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot patents and copyrights.  Boy, lots of companies would be screaming bloody murder if their intellectual property wasn’t protected by government registration.