Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

The Democrat agenda – reducing self-sufficiency and increasing dependency

Two articles, both from Investors Business Daily.

The first explains how Obamacare encourages people to stop working or reduce their work hours in order to get more benefits from the government.

Charles Krauthammer explains:

First, the Congressional Budget Office triples its estimate of the drop in the workforce resulting from the disincentive introduced by ObamaCare’s insurance subsidies: 2 million by 2017, 2.3 million by 2021.

Democratic talking points gamely defend this as a good thing because these jobs are being given up voluntarily. Nancy Pelosi spoke lyrically about how ObamaCare subsidies will allow people to leave unfulfilling jobs to pursue their passions:

“Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.”

[...]Pelosi’s vision is equally idyllic except for one thing: The taxes of the American factory worker — grinding away dutifully at his repetitive mind-numbing job — will be subsidizing the voluntary unemployment of the artiste in search of his muse. A rather paradoxical position for the party that poses as tribune of the working man.

[...]In the reductio ad absurdum of entitlement liberalism, Jay Carney was similarly enthusiastic about this ObamaCare-induced job loss. Why, ObamaCare creates the “opportunity” that “allows families in America to make a decision about how they will work, and if they will work.”

If they will work? Pre-Obama, people always had the right to quit work to tend full time to the study of butterflies. It’s a free country. The twist in the new liberal dispensation is that the butterfly guy is to be subsidized by the taxes of people who actually work.

In the traditional opportunity society, government provides the tools — education, training and various incentives — to achieve the dignity of work and its promise of self-improvement and social mobility.

In the new opportunity society, you are given the opportunity for idleness while living parasitically off everyone else. Why those everyone elses should remain at their jobs — hey! I wanna dance, too! — is a puzzle Carney has yet to explain.

So, if you are working, you are going to be taxed more to pay for the leisure (or laziness) of your fellow citizens. And why must the Democrats do this? In order to continue to win elections by getting the votes of people who want you to work harder and longer so that they don’t have to work.

So how much are we paying people to not work or to work less? 

Major welfare programs as of 2012

Major welfare programs as of 2012

Again, Investors Business Daily explains.

Excerpt:

In 2011, the latest year for which we have complete spending data, federal outlays on all means-tested welfare programs targeted for the poor hit $746 billion, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service.

But this doesn’t include two of the fastest-growing taxpayer-funded cash subsidies: unemployment insurance and disability, which are not based on one’s income level, so are not considered anti-poverty programs. That’s another $250 billion a year. All told, federal income transfer programs (not including Social Security and Medicare) have hit $1 trillion.

Adding state spending, the Senate Budget Committee found another $257 billion spent each year. The welfare state is now larger than the GDP of 175 of the 190 wealthiest countries.

Astoundingly, if all this spending were simply sent in the form of a check to every household in America living below the poverty level, we could raise each of these family’s incomes not just above the poverty line, but double that level, according to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation. Every poor family of four could have a cash income of $44,000 a year — which in most countries would be princely.

Most Americans probably have no idea how expansive the welfare state is. That’s because the cost is disguised by more than 80 separate means-tested programs counted by the CRS, including cash benefits, health care, social services, food, child care, training, and housing and utility subsidies. They often have overlapping and uncoordinated missions. This explains the vast duplication of effort, with at least 12 programs offering food and nutrition, 18 offering housing assistance, nine offering vocational training, and so on.

In all, just over 100 million Americans now get some form of welfare-based government benefit. This does not include Medicare or Social Security. Obama’s economics team thinks the more the better, because these are programs that “stimulate” the economy.

Oh, and by the way: These numbers do not include the ObamaCare expansion of Medicaid, which could add 20 million to the rolls over time. Obama boasts of 5 million more Americans now being eligible for Medicaid under ObamaCare, as if that’s an applause line.

That only leaves the question of who is paying for all this vote-buying today. Well, the money is being borrowed and added to the national debt. And who is going to pay for that? Your children. Especially if you bothered to get married before having children, because those are the children most likely to get the high-paying jobs that our slavemasters in government love to redistribute.

 

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Doctor shortage: how Obamacare makes it harder to find a doctor

Remember how Obama promised that if you liked your doctor, then you could keep your doctor? It turns out that there is more to making policies than just saying what you’d like to do in a scripted campaign speech. The truth is that some health care policies will make you lose your doctor, regardless of what the President reads off of a teleprompter. Is Obamacare one of these policies? Let’s see.

Avik Roy writes about it in Forbes magazine.

Excerpt:

On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported that, due to Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage, among other factors, UnitedHealth expects its network of physicians “to be 85 percent to 90 percent of its current size by the end of 2014.” The result? Some retirees enrolled in Medicare Advantage will need to find new doctors. And it’s a trend that could accelerate in future years.

[...]Over the next ten years, Obamacare was designed to spend around $1.9 trillion on expanding health coverage to the uninsured. The law pays for this new spending with $1.2 trillion in new taxes, and $716 billion in cuts to Medicare, relative to prior law.

[...]The private insurers who supply Medicare Advantage plans, like UnitedHealth and Humana, have been responding to the cuts by squeezing out inefficiencies in the way they deliver care. One obvious way to do that is to pay doctors and hospitals less—or kick out the providers who refuse to accept lower reimbursement rates. And that’s what United has done, according to the WSJ report from Melinda Beck.

“Doctors in at least 10 states have received termination letters, some citing ‘significant changes and pressures in the health-care environment,’” writes Beck.

Another one of my favorite health care policy experts is the ex-Canadian Sally C. Pipes, who knows all about the horrors of single-payer health care. It killed her mother! Here’s what she had to say about the doctors shortage in a Forbes magazine article from earlier this year.

The first problem is that we have an aging doctor population and since we do such a poor job of educating our children (public school indoctrination centers) we aren’t making any new ones:

Right now, the United States is short some 20,000 doctors, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The shortage could quintuple over the next decade, thanks to the aging of the American population — and the aging and consequent retirement of many physicians. Nearly half of the 800,000-plus doctors in the United States are over the age of 50.

The second problem is that adding more regulations and burdensome paperwork makes a lot of people not want to be doctors any more:

Obamacare is further thinning the doctor corps. A Physicians Foundation survey of 13,000 doctors found that 60 percent of doctors would retire today if they could, up from 45 percent before the law passed.

The third problem is that the government isn’t reimbursing doctors as much as private insurance companies do, and it makes them refuse to take government-funded patients:

They’ve long limited the number of Medicaid patients they’ll treat, thanks to the program’s low reimbursement rates. According to a study published in Health Affairs, only 69 percent of doctors accepted new Medicaid patients in 2011. In Florida, just 59 percent do so. And a survey by the Texas Medical Association of doctors in the Lone Star State found that 68 percent either limit or refuse to take new Medicaid patients.

Medicaid pays about 60 percent as much as private insurance. For many doctors, the costs of treating someone on Medicaid are higher than what the government will pay them.

These underpayments have grown worse over time, as cash-strapped states have tried to rein in spending on Medicaid. Ohio hasn’t increased payments to doctors in three years; Kentucky hasn’t raised them in two decades. Colorado, Nebraska, South Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, and Arizona all cut payments in 2011.

By throwing nine million more people into the program without fixing this fatal flaw, Obamacare will make it even harder for Medicaid patients to find doctors.

It’s not just Medicaid that’s the problem, either. It’s the government-controlled exchanges.

Healthcare providers are signaling that they may turn away patients who purchase insurance through the exchanges, too.

In California, for example, folks covered by Blue Shield’s exchange plan will have access to about a third of its physician network. The UCLA Medical Center and its doctors are available to customers of just one plan for sale through the state exchange, Covered California. And the prestigious Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is not taking anyone with exchange insurance.

Now I know what you’re thinking – why not just force doctors to work for lower wages, like a good socialist country might? Well, that actually makes the shortage worse, because people don’t like to learn hard things and then work hard for little pay. And doctors work VERY hard – it’s not an easy profession to get into. That will just make all the doctors leave the country for other countries where they can be paid fairly for the work they do.

And in fact that is exactly what happened in a 100% socialized health care system in Venezuela, according to this report from the left-leaning Associated Press.

Excerpt:

Half the public health system’s doctors quit under Chavez, and half of those moved abroad, Natera said.

Now, support staff is leaving, too, victim of a wage crunch as wages across the economy fail to keep up with inflation.

At the Caracas blood bank, Lopez said 62 nurses have quit so far this year along with half the lab staff. It now can take donations only on weekday mornings.

I recommend reading that entire article for a glimpse of where the Democrats are trying to take us. There is not a dime’s worth of difference on policy between the Democrat party and the socialist party of Venezuela, except that the socialists have been in control in Venezuela for longer, and so they are further along the road to serfdom.

In other news, the Washington D.C. insurance commissioner was fired after raising concerns about the “fix” proposed by Obama in his speech last week. That’s also something that you might expect to see in a country like Venezuela. That’s what happens in authoritarian socialist countries. Whistleblowers and critics just disappear.

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New study from the Federal Reserve finds that QE stimulus doesn’t grow the economy

Investors Business Daily reports on our incompetent government’s policies.

Excerpt:

For four years now, we’ve heard policymakers and pundits alike defend the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing based on the idea that, without it, the nation’s economy would have imploded.

Now, a new study from the Fed itself suggests that’s not the case.

The study, by San Francisco Federal Reserve economist Vasco Curdia and New York Fed economist Andrea Ferrero, suggests that quantitative easing (QE) has done little to boost the economy’s trajectory.

“Asset purchase programs like QE2 appear to have, at best, moderate effects on economic growth and inflation,” the economists wrote in a special research note that was released last week.

In their study, Curdia and Ferrero looked specifically at the impact of the Fed’s QE2 program, which totaled $600 billion.

Assuming the $600 billion program lasts for five years — with the Fed buying bonds the first year, holding them for two, then selling them off for the remaining two — the spending turns out largely to have been a waste.

That level of QE stimulus, even when coupled with the Fed’s promise to hold interest rates at zero, likely boosted GDP by a mere 0.13 percentage point, the study found. It added just 0.03 percentage point to inflation.

Bottom line: $600 billion in QE2 spending boosted GDP by less than $200 billion.

[...]And even that minor amount of growth was due in large part to the Fed’s explicit vow to hold official interest rates at close to 0% until the unemployment rate reaches 6.5% or lower, Curdia and Ferrero said.

Take away that promise, and QE2 added just 0.04 percentage point to GDP and 0.02 percentage point to inflation.

What caused it?

With $17 trillion in total U.S. debt — an amount that’s now growing at a rate of $1 trillion a year — the authors argue that the Fed is essentially trapped into printing money through QE.

If QE — which now pushes $85 billion a month into U.S. Treasury and agency debt — stops, interest rates will soar, dragging the economy down.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been sanguine about this, suggesting this enormous pile of debt can all be sold off with little disruption.

We’re not so sure. Once the Fed begins selling off its massive $3.6 trillion in assets acquired under the QE program (see chart), it will send interest rates surging and tank the economy.

Even more troubling is what it says about current politics.

The White House and a Democrat-led Senate have boosted spending dramatically — outlays as a share of GDP rose initially by 25% under President Obama

The Fed, by buying up much of the newly issued federal debt, has become the No. 1 enabler of a spendthrift government that’s pushing us to the brink of fiscal disaster.

At $85 billion a month, QE2 spending is roughly equal to the amount of federal debt we add each month.

We elected a Keynesian who thought that government could create economic growth (jobs!) by borrowing money and printing money. The countries of the world largely cheered our decision to elect him. He failed to grow the economy and he failed to create jobs. Eventually, the money he’s been spending to keep a sinking ship afloat is going to run out.

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Real unemployment rate for youth is 22.9%

I found an article  from the Wall Street Journal via Lonely Conservative in Captain Capitalism’s latest round-up .

Excerpt:

When the recession began in December, 2007, 59.2% of the under-25 population was in the labor force, meaning they were either working or looking for work. Today, that figure has fallen to 54.5%. That may not sound like a big drop, but it makes a huge difference. If the so-called participation rate had remained unchanged, there would be 1.8 million more young people in the labor force today than there actually are. Counting those people as unemployed, rather than out of the labor force, would push the unemployment rate up to 22.9%. That’s only a hair better than the 23.9% youth unemployment rate in the euro zone, and has shown only very modest improvement during the recovery.

The decline in the participation rate among the young can’t all be attributed to the recession. Labor force participation among young people peaked at just under 70% in 1989, and has trended downward ever since, primarily due to rising rates of college attendance.

The decline accelerated during the recession, as many young people sought refuge in college or other forms of education or training. In a normal cycle, that might have worked out well, leaving a generation of highly educated workers ready to re-enter the job market when the economy recovered. Instead, they have been graduating into a labor market that remains deeply challenged, especially for those without much work experience. To make matters worse, many graduates are carrying hefty debt burdens, and those who can find work are often being forced to low-skill jobs.

But are these young people victims? Or are they doing this to themselves?

Young UK socialists rejoice over Maggie Thatcher's death

Young UK socialists rejoice over Maggie Thatcher’s death

I was looking over the Captain’s blog and I found a post where he argues that young people are not victims.

He writes:

However, before we all jump on the baby boomer generation (and don’t worry, history will be INCREDIBLY harsh on them) we have to look at our own generational selves in the mirror.  Specifically, whether we deserve all these programs or not.

Of course, the question is moot and academic.  I don’t think there will be any money to be paid out in the first place, but let’s just say there was.  Do our generations really deserve all the unicorns, puppies, hope, and change the government says we’re entitled to?  I say no and here is the reason why.

Gen X and Gen Y are doing the EXACT same thing as their baby boomer predecessors did.  They are spending more money than they make.  They expect other people to take care of themselves.  They are entitled WAY more than the baby boomers ever were.  And (most importantly) THEY VOTED IN DROVES FOR BARACK OBAMA and thus THE MORTGAGING OF THEIR OWN FUTURES.

Much as I loathe the baby boomers, the successive generations, mine included, are worse.  Despite BLATANT and OBVIOUS financial problems our generations faced, we lacked the adult maturity (let alone simple 2nd grade mathematics) to turn this country around.  And while the baby boomers have been voting more and more conservative, it is the younger generations through galactic stupidity, ignorance and selfishness that merely nailed a couple more nails in the US-coffin and thus our own futures.

Like I said, I doubt there will even be any money for Gen Y, Gen X and any future generations to make good on all those socialist entitlement goodies we promised ourselves.  But before we start blaming previous generation’s for our current problems, we should start blaming ourselves for making our future problems worse.

We should be careful about pitying young people who are struggling to find work, and who won’t get a dime from social programs like Social Security and Medicare. They are voting to punish employers with taxes and regulations. Most of them don’t know or care about what they are doing – they don’t connect their vote to their unemployed status. They think that education means jobs, and that they can vote in order to feel good and be liked, and still find work. They think that if they pay into these entitlement programs, then the money will be there. They trust Obama and they vote for him. They are not victims.

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Surprise! Social Security ran a $47.8 billion dollar deficit in 2012

CNS News reports.

Excerpt:

The Social Security program ran a $47.8 billion deficit in fiscal 2012 as the program brought in $725.429 billion in cash and paid $773.247 for benefits and overhead expenses, according to official data published by Social Security Administration.

The Social Security Administration also released new data revealing that the number of workers collecting disability benefits hit a record 8,827,795 in December–up from 8,805,353 in November.

The overall number of Social Security program beneficiaries—including retired workers, dependent family members and survivors and disabled workers and their dependent family members—also hit a record in December, climbing from 56,658,978 in November to 56,758,185 in December.

In 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was an average of 112.556 million full-time workers in the United States, of whom 17.806 million worked full-time for local, state or federal government. That left an average of only 94.750 million full-time private sector workers in the country.

That means that for every 1.67 Americans who worked full-time in the private sector in 2011, there is now 1 person collecting benefits from the Social Security administration.

There are about 310 million people in the United States.

Now consider that the same people who make you wait in line at the post office and the department of motor vehicles are teaching your children in public schools. What are the children learning there? Are they learning marketable skills so that they will be able to get private sector jobs and pay for these programs? No, they are learning about recreational sex, global warming, feminism, gay activism and other leftist dogma. They learn how to feel offended, how to blame men, how to blame white people, how to blame job creators (“the rich”), and how to blame the our armed forces.

We have borrowed over one trillion dollars from future generations to pay for these entitlement programs, and there is no reason to believe that a bunch of brainwashed children will be up to the task of paying for those entitlements. We shouldn’t be aborting 1 million unborn children a year either – we should be marrying and raising them with two opposite sex parents. The welfare state is just not sustainable when we destroy the supply line of new law-abiding productive workers. We have a growing public sector parasite feeding on a shrinking private sector host. It just won’t work for much longer.

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