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The Court Upholds Free Speech

Today’s Supreme Court ruling removing overall limits on contributions to candidates for federal office by individuals restores some measure of freedom, and specifically freedom of speech.

Let’s get something straight. Money equals speech. I can write all day long on this blog and nobody reads it unless energy is expended trying to attract readers. The more money I spend, the more energy I can exert, and the more readers I can attract. The same is exactly true for political candidates.

The crazies (including four Supreme Court Justices) will scream that the ruling increases the likelihood that those with money will have an advantage and potentially use that money to corrupt politicians. Baloney!

The fact is that the ruling keeps in place the $2,600 per candidate per election limitations on individual candidate contributions ($5,600 per election cycle, per candidate, split between primary and general elections). The ruling means that some rich guy like George Soros is now free to give $5,600 per election cycle to every left wing progressive growth destroying candidate he can find running for federal office. He can now, for example, directly contribute a total of $560,000 to 100 different candidates for Federal Office as well as contribute $32,400 per year to each of the three  Democratic national committees.

OK, great, the Koch Brothers can do the same on the other side of the ledger and, taken together, more money will be legally available to candidates and political parties to get their message directly to the voters. Further, this change likely means more money directly supporting candidates and less money for PACs and Super PACs who cannot speak directly for candidates. MORE SPEECH IS ALWAYS BETTER.

Another factor needs to be understood here. Every voter has a vested interest in sending money to candidates and parties they support AND EVERY VOTER SHOULD DO SO!

In my small town I hear constant whining about how developers are the ones who contribute to local political candidates, supposedly swaying their decisions as elected officials. Funny thing is that my town has 17,000 voters, only about 300 people who contribute any amount to political campaigns, and typically less than 5,000 people who actually vote in local elections. If just 1,000 voters here gave $25 to a particular candidate it would make a significant difference in both who would want to be a candidate, how much they could communicate to the voters, and whose interest they would actually represent at city hall.

We need to thank our Supreme Court for affirming our right to free speech in elections. Our democracy needs to be a competition of ideas if it is to remain credible in the eyes of all voters. Let the games begin and may the best man or woman win. More speech! Please!

Regards, Pete Weldon
americanstance.org

Posted in Freedom, Money.


Preserving a Viable Democracy

Our politics and policies have regressed to a level that threatens democracy.

Political Spittle: A recent email from Jim Messina, Barack Obama.com has the subject “This is some sick crap.” This guy leads Obama’s political efforts. He is not some small time leftist blogger. The tone and purpose of this stuff is to enrage the gullible and motivate their hatred of some object of scorn, in this case the Koch brothers. That this language goes out under Jim Messina’s name is the same as if it went out directly from Barack Obama.

The purpose of the spittle is to inspire hatred, resentment, and envy to motivate action.

While there is nothing new about political spittle there is something new about the number of voters dependent on government to whom the spittle is targeted.

Vested Financial Interest:

I could find no study that measures the number of people eligible to vote who also receive benefits from federal programs, but can extrapolate from the above that about 90 million voters, 40% of all voters, depend on government aid and many more have family members who depend on government aid.

Stated another way, at least 40% of current voters have a financial vested interest in voting for candidates who promise to maintain or expand federal aid programs. Now add in 20 million public sector employees and about 50% of all voters have a direct vested financial interest in growing government.

Political Spittle + Financial Vested Interest = Votes

Those with a direct financial vested interest in an election outcome easily embrace false and fabricated arguments supporting that vested interest.

Fomenting hatred and resentment among those dependent on government largess is unethical, yet it has become the standard modus operandi of Democratic politics.

A democracy that is trusted by the citizenry depends on independent individuals voting based on their conscience, not their financial interest. The reason conservatives must get control of the Federal government is not to lower spending, it is to lower dependency and in the process preserve democracy.

Regards, Pete Weldon
americanstance.org

Posted in Freedom, Responsibility.


Choice Goes Begging

The realities of Obamacare bring to light the failure of our health insurance and delivery system, a system built on government rules rather than patient needs. This reality predates, and is only made more oppressive due to, Obamacare.

One of the big deals about Obamacare is that individual health insurance policies must be “guaranteed issue” meaning that that coverage cannot be denied due to pre-existing conditions. The other big deal about Obamacare is that every individual not covered by an employer plan is supposed to be forced to buy coverage or pay a tax (they call it a “Shared Responsibility Payment”). When you combine these two key attributes you are supposed get everyone in the game so, while everyone shares in the cost of everyone’s medical problems, the risk pool is very large and the costs therefore spread across almost all healthy and sick people.

Nice concept. Lousy reality.

Little discussed is the more important reality that no one in America has market driven choice of health insurance and delivery. Government mandates across the spectrum of health care insurance and delivery limit choice of products and procedures, and also disincentivize doctors and other medical professionals.

This post has the numbers. The realities are:

  • You are stuck with your employer’s plan, which may be very good for you but you better check the plans of a potential new employer before you change jobs. Further, many employers may drop coverages under Obamacare, forcing you into an individual “Marketplace” policy.
  • You are stuck with an Obamacare “Marketplace” policy. Use of the term “Marketplace” is something out of a George Orwell novel. There is no marketplace. There are just paper pushers selling one set of government approved coverages and requirements with add-ons that cost even more.
  • You qualify for Medicaid. You get what the government tells you are are going to get and you must go to doctors and medical facilities the government tells you to use.
  • You are 65 or older and qualify for Medicare. The government forces you to take Medicare under penalty of a rising premium for every month you qualify that you don’t enroll. Another interesting twist to Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans is that they are (with few exceptions) only “guaranteed issue” during the initial six month enrollment period beginning when you are about to turn 65. After that, you may be denied the right to coverage if you want to change your Medicare Advantage or Supplement plan or insurance provider. As a practical matter for most people, you are stuck with the Medicare choice you make when you turn 65, for the rest of your life.

Contrast the realities above with other consumer driven market based insurance products such as auto, life, home, and liability coverages. We must ask why health care is treated with such an over bearing government presence both before and after Obamacare.

You need to ask the question, “Why don’t I have any choice in the matter?”

Regards, Pete Weldon
americanstance.org

Posted in Freedom, Responsibility.


Obamacare Is Near Death

You now have the choice not to buy health insurance.

The foundation of Obamacare is the individual mandate. That is, without the mandate it was presumed that millions of healthy people would choose to remain uninsured, driving up the cost of insurance for everyone else.

The mandate was the core issue in a case brought before the US Supreme Court. The Court upheld the mandate as constitutional.

But now, the Obama administration has effectively waived the mandate through administrative rule making.

These new rules provide waivers for almost all of Obamacare until October 1, 2016. That’s right! The one year waiver previously put in place in late 2013 is now a three year waiver.

Further, there are now 14 reasons you can avoid paying the tax (“the Shared Responsibility Payment”) for not complying with the mandate (not buying health insurance). I love this one, “You experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance. – Please submit documentation if possible.”

Current 2013-2014 Obamacare Marketplace sign up statistics show insufficient participation of the young and healthy to establish a self sustaining risk pool.

Now, the waiver of most of the insurance requirements until October 2016 plus the effective waiver of the “Shared Responsibility Payment” will further bias that risk pool toward the old and sick, increasing the cost to those actually purchasing health insurance. In other words, there will be little or no “shared responsibility” and the government (taxpayers) will be forced to further subsidize health insurance pricing to keep insurance companies in business (through direct payments to the insurance companies unless the Obamacare law is changed by Congress with the President’s signature). Similarly, the government will experience ever increasing pressure to control actual health care costs, limiting patient choice and disincentivizing medical professionals and health care facilities.

Obamacare is near death and it is time to pull the plug. What we now have is a comatose political contraption on life support that is costing hundreds of billions of dollars a year to provide health insurance to a few million people. By any objective measure Obamacare is a complete disaster.

The challenge now is to stop complaining and start building a truly competitive national health insurance market supplemented by taxpayer support of those in financial need through Federal catastrophic coverage and direct tax credits.

Regards, Pete Weldon
americanstance.org

Posted in Money, Responsibility.


Compulsion and Freedom

Values implicit in American principles continue to be destroyed in service to power.

The source of government funding and thus power is compulsion, the threat of loss of your assets or freedom if you don’t comply.

In an American world this very power to compel carries with it the responsibility to serve for our government is of, by, and for the people. Implicit in serving the people is respect for diversity of beliefs, free markets, ownership, and rule of law.

It is clear, however, that the concept of public service is now corrupted to mean getting elected for the purpose of imposing your will on those who disagree with you.

What world do we live in when our government compels us to financially support people so they can choose not to work, compels us to buy healthcare coverage we don’t want, compels us to accept Medicare as the only healthcare choice when we turn 65, limits the amount of money we can spend speaking, selectively prohibits political speech, maintains a digital history of our personal behavior, and in the case of our current President, unilaterally changes laws to suit a personal agenda?

The world we live in now is definitely not American. It has many of the characteristics of cronyism and fascism. Large businesses, trade groups, and unions seek rents with explicit government approval while the government seeks to control the economy and control political opposition. If you have doubts see the recently passed farm bill, the 2009 stimulus bill, the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank bill, the Federal Reserve, and the IRS as starting points.

We do not live in America.

Our political leaders have sacrificed our freedoms, our opportunities, and our futures to political expediency of the moment, to getting re-elected at any cost in dollars and principle, to political bribes, to a false promise of human security that can never be purchased and can only be earned.

Where are the leaders who will stand for individual freedom and individual responsibility? Where are the voters who will elect them?

We must apply our time and treasure to the continual pursuit of American leadership if we believe in these principles for, even in America, freedom is never free.

Find candidates for political office who are committed to American principles then work and spend to get them elected.

Regards, Pete Weldon
americanstance.org

Posted in Freedom, Responsibility.