Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Visiting day at the Belmont Club

As you can tell from my placing it in the Gold Standard of my blog roll, I greatly admire Richard Fernandez's Belmont Club. Not having time to write a posting today with any pretenses to quality, I would like to quote a few comments from the day after the Bad Medicine Bill was passed. (Many of the following are excerpted from longer discussions. Names of commenters precede their words; Wretchard is Richard Fernandez.)

k. paul boyev md: Never again will anyone have to make that AWFUL choice between spending the last of their money on medicine or on another pack of Camels.


Matt Beck: Missing from the Democrats’ jubilation is any awareness that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are all already broke; that all the governments of the developed world are already deeply in debt, and there is no way to pay for this; that we are already fighting two wars in the Middle East, and may soon be fighting with a nuclear Iran; that a burgeoning trade war with China is just heating up; that the US economy is not coming back any time soon, if ever; that the unique demographic conditions that made American post-war prosperity possible in the first place are played out (as Mr. Fernandez mentions); or, most puzzlingly, that the electorate is steadfastly against them and that their own political necks are in the noose.


Lifeofthemind: John Edwards was right. At least he convinced Barack Obama to follow his ambulance chasers model of America. There are Two Americas, one is full of productive people who are generally pretty healthy and often do not need much in the way of non-catastrophic insurance. The other is both unproductive and addicted to every conceivable pathology that the mind of man can conceive. …

The constituents of the Democratic Party are the people who elected John Conyers and John Dingle. They are the retirees of the UAW. To save them from the consequences of destructive behaviors that were chronicled by Arthur Hailey in Wheels the Democrats first stole two of the Big Three auto companies and gave them to the union. Then they attacked Toyota in an orchestrated campaign to reduce competition. Now they have chained the rest of the country to pay for the health benefits of these people and their supporters.


Wretchard: Always trust the math. Whenever you hear the words “too big to fail” it is really someone arguing that they are exempt from operations of arithmetic. …

Obama’s only chance to square this account is to hope the math changes, that the coefficients are altered by technology. Otherwise subtract abortion from the numbers of new labor entrants, add illegal immigration, divide by higher taxes and multiply by entitlements and see what you get. Does it work? If it does then fine. Otherwise no amount of spin can save it.

My worry is that the numbers don’t work. If so it’s not a question of if, but when the smash will come. But for those long accustomed to simply having things happen it’s inconceivable. Perhaps it is only in politics that one can say, “I want to be the next FDR, to make my mark on history,” with a straight face. Those things are not dished up to order like room service.


Josh: My worry is that the numbers don’t work.

They don’t. In that way, this is the biggest fraud ever. Bernie Madoff, you’re pardoned, go home. AIG, pikers. Citibank, pikers. Fannie and Freddie, pikers. Greenspan, you’re a punk.


Leo Linbeck III: Watching a fair chunk of the festivities last night, I guess I finally understood why Obama and Pelosi were doing what they were doing. … They want to be remembered as the Lyndon Johnson or Franklin Delano Roosevelt of their time. Men who, in their minds, stood strong against a tide of hatred and atavism to enact the two greatest government programs in US history: Social Security and Medicare. …

But here’s the punch line: they’re right, but not in the way that they think. Unless dramatically changed, Social Security and Medicare are destined to bankrupt our nation. Together, according to the Federal Reserve, they have an unfunded liability of – steel yourself – $90,000,000,000,000. Ninety trillion dollars. That is $300,000 for every man, woman, and child in the US. And given that the total private assets of US businesses and households is only $250,000 per person, these two programs alone have, quite literally, made the United States technically bankrupt. …

Mr. President, Madame Speaker: enjoy the party while it lasts. I’m sure that in the final weeks before he was discovered to be a fraud, Bernie Madoff threw some great parties. But now he’s just another cheat who got the crap beaten out of him for crossing the wrong guy in prison.


Lifeofthemind: The general consensus of the discussion here seems to be that three things are likely to happen, although the order may vary.

1. The enrollment of 15-20 million new citizens through an Amnesty process, with a similar number to follow under relaxed immigration rules including “family reunification.”

2. A severe reaction by the voters, the belief in which is justified both by recent special and gubernatorial elections as well as historical off year patterns, at the midterm elections that cost the Democrats at least control of the House and conceivably the Senate.

3. A series of disasters and humiliations that will befall America including economic trauma and foreign aggression.

The question seems to be as to whether the effects of the first and third events will be used to ensure a series of measures that place political control beyond the reach of the current moderate conservative majority.


Joe Hill: The real story of the events of the past week, the significant thing unreported and uncommented upon is that our political system is broken. In overwhelming numbers the public passionately opposed this legislation and still the legislature passed it on the narrowest of partisan votes. How does that happen in a democracy? The answer is it doesn’t. We have seen our elected representatives turn into oligarchs with many of the most extreme in sinecured seats gerrymandered to ensure lifetime tenancy and there they sit trading the public purse for votes. What faith can a nation have in system such as that and what happens when the people lose faith in the government they have?

The whole posting and comments are recommended reading.


No comments: