Fishy Figures & Transparency

We’ve all heard about the 47 Million people that are uninsured, and the breakdowns for those figures have been posted here and in other places.  And yet there are another set of figures that are being used to justify government’s interjection into another portion of our lives.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is working on a alternative healthcare bill that, quite frankly, is probably going to turn out just as bad if not worse than what is in the House.  And here are some of the numbers that he is throwing around to justify his version of healthcare hell as reported by the online version of Newsweek:

One study "found that every year in America, lack of health coverage leads to 45,000 deaths," he told the committee. "No one should die because they cannot afford health care. This bill would fix that."

If only all this were irrefutable. But Baucus’s claims are shaky. It is questionable whether more insurance would save 45,000 lives a year. Unfortunately, just having insurance doesn’t automatically improve people’s health. Sometimes more medical care doesn’t really help. Sometimes people don’t go to doctors when they should or follow instructions (take medicine, alter lifestyles). Indeed, many people don’t even sign up for insurance to which they’re entitled. An Urban Institute study estimated that 10.9 million people eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2007 didn’t enroll.

The 45,000 figure cited by Baucus is itself an unreliable statistical construct built on many assumptions. It’s based on a study of 9,004 people ages 17 to 64 who were examined between 1988 and 1994. By 2000, 351 had died; of these, 60 were uninsured. The crude death rates among the insured (3 percent of whom died) and uninsured (3.3 percent) were within the statistical margin of error. After adjustments for age, income and other factors, the authors concluded that being uninsured raises the risk of death by 40 percent. They then extrapolated this to the entire population by two techniques, one producing an estimate of 35,327 premature deaths and another of 44,789.

This whole elaborate statistical edifice rests on a flimsy factual foundation. The point is not to deny that the uninsured are more vulnerable (they are) or that extra insurance wouldn’t help (it would). The point is that estimating how much is extremely difficult. Advocates exaggerate the benefits. Remember: Today’s uninsured do receive care.

Hmmm….Unreliable statistics….I wonder where else this has been used.  Let’s look at the following from the Wall Street Journal:

While Americans may have a lower life expectancy than other affluent countries, the disparity is mainly due to Americans’ poor personal health-care practices — not to any flaw in health-care treatment. "The U.S. actually does a pretty good job of identifying and treating the major diseases. The international comparisons don’t show we’re in dire straits," says University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Samuel Preston, a researcher who has studied the matter.

The real problem, it turns out, is that Americans are accident-prone, health unconscious slobs. Until the mid-1980s, the U.S. had the highest per capita cigarette consumption in the developed world, and the U.S.’s obesity rate today is more than twice that of Canada and ten times that of Japan. These aren’t problems of the health care system (i.e. in the diagnosis and treatment of disease). These are problems of behavior. Adjust that data for the higher U.S. incidence of homicide and obesity, and Americans actually have the highest life expectancy in the developed world.

And here we have been told that the mortality of Americans is greater than other industrialized countries (which coincidentally have socialized medicine) due to shortcomings of our healthcare system.  Of course, who have been telling us this lie?  The proponents of “health care reform.”

The response of the proponents to any scrutiny is to shut down any analysis & criticism.  In other words, the opposite of transparency as promised by then candidate Barack Obama.  Except that is not going to happen here.  Again, from the Wall Street Journal:

Polls show overwhelming agreement outside the Beltway that it’s more important for Congress to get health-care reform done right than done quickly. A Polling Company survey conducted last month found 95% agreeing that members of Congress shouldn’t vote on any bill they haven’t read in full.

That’s why the bipartisan duo of Rep. Brian Baird, a Washington Democrat, and Rep. Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, came up with the "72-hour resolution," which would require all non-emergency legislation to be posted online, in final form, for at least 72 hours prior to a floor vote. "Members of Congress are too often asked to make decisions on bills that can be longer than telephone books and are only given a few hours to actually read them," says Rep. Baird. "Both parties are guilty, and both should stop doing it."

Although Barack Obama campaigned last year for transparency and openness in government, their idea has languished in committee since June. It has 67 Republican and 31 Democratic co-sponsors—a rare show of bipartisanship. Normally, bills can’t be considered for a floor vote until House leadership schedules them. That’s why Messrs. Baird and Walden filed a discharge petition to dislodge their bill from committee this week. If a majority of members (218) sign it, their proposal can be voted on over the objections of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But the notion of a 72-hour waiting period is anathema to Democrats who fear that they are running out of time to pass a sweeping health-care bill. This week, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag told Bloomberg News that "the goal" is to finish the entire health-care debate "over the next six weeks or so, maybe sooner." The six-week deadline is critical because it would mean a health-care bill would pass into law just before voters in Virginia and New Jersey go to the polls on Nov. 3 to elect a governor and state legislators. Right now, the GOP leads in both states and nervous Democrats see that as a measure of their stalled health-care reform plans.

So it appears Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress have decided to ram a bill through as quickly as possible. On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee voted 12 to 11 to reject a proposal to require a 72-hour waiting period and a full scoring of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office before the committee casts any final vote. Only one Democrat, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, voted for the waiting period. Chairman Max Baucus said the idea would delay a vote on the final bill for two weeks and he didn’t want to waste another moment.

On the House side, Mrs. Pelosi has told reporters that members will have "a period of time that is sufficient" to consider the final health-care language. But she clearly doesn’t want her hands tied. House leadership aides were stationed on the House floor where members must go to sign the 72-hour discharge petition. Mr. Baird acknowledged that leadership aides were strongly discouraging his fellow Democrats from signing. As of yesterday, 173 members had affixed their names, but they included only five of the 31 Democratic co-sponsors.

So not only are there bad figures being used to justify this legislation, but a wall has been raised to keep the populace from seeing what their Representatives and Senators are voting on.  And to keep anyone from finding out what they are up to, they want to rush this legislation through.

But should such “important” legislation be rushed through?  Not in my book, especially when I have seen the adage “haste makes waste” too many times.  Considering that President Obama took a weekend off before signing the TARP bill after Congress jumped through hoops to get it passed tells me that no legislation outside of an bona fide national emergency must be passed immediately.

The whole “healthcare crisis” is a manufactured one, one that would provide political power to people who have no business having such power over the citizens of this country. 

We the People must impress upon our Congress-critters that they work for us, not the other way around.  It is time for them to provide their bosses (us) a progress report on exactly what they are doing, and not beat around the bush.

Otherwise, it’s time to fire their asses.

The Mood of America

According to a Rasmussen poll, the level of political anger in America compared to when President Bush was President is:

  • Higher – 59%’
  • Lower – 22%
  • Same – 16%

Considering that another Obama campaign promise just bit the dust, I’m not surprised.  I am, of course, referring to the Democrats rejecting the Republican proposal to post the text of the  “new” healthcare bill 72 hours before voting on it.  This transparency was a campaign promise made by then candidate Obama and echoed by many of the Democratic candidates.  So the next poll question results make a little more sense:

Neither Democrat nor Republican leaders understand what is needed today.

  • Agree with statement – 60%
  • Disagree with statement – 30%
  • No opinion – 10%

Both of these polls are non-partisan.

Then here’s today’s Presidential approval index graphic:

The politicians on both sides of the aisle had better be very worried – there are a lot of angry people out there just waiting for their chance to make sure there is real change in government

Obama Forever?

If this is a ringing endorsement to lift the two-term restriction for the Presidency of the United States, I don’t know what else could be.  From World Net Daily:

Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi told a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly today he’s pleased with the direction President Obama is taking the United States, calling him "my son" or "our son" several times.

Gadhafi’s visit to New York has been a series of controversies piled on top of disputes, and his message this morning at the U.N. continued the precedent. He took a "victory lap" through the surprised audience, blasted the U.N. as unfair and suggested he be given a permanent seat on the Security Council.

But he praised Obama.

According to interpreters for the speech, he challenged, "Can you guarantee after Obama how America will be governed? We are content and happy if Obama can stay forever as president of America."

Gadhafi also reportedly referred to the U.S. president as a "black African Kenyan."

How lovely…  A dictator that supports terrorism supporting a weak United States President.  From the Daily Telegraph:

Obama’s popularity at the UN boils down essentially to his willingness to downplay American global power. He is the first American president who has made an art form out of apologizing for the United States, which he has done on numerous occasions on foreign soil, from Strasbourg to Cairo. The Obama mantra appears to be – ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do to atone for your country. This is a message that goes down very well in a world that is still seething with anti-Americanism.

It is natural that much of the UN will embrace an American president who declines to offer strong American leadership. A president who engages dictators like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez will naturally gain respect from the leaders of the more than 100 members of the United Nations who are currently designated as “partly free” or “not free” by respected watchdog Freedom House.

The UN is not a club of democracies – who still remain a minority within its membership – it is a vast melting pot of free societies, socialist regimes and outright tyrannies. Obama’s clear lack of interest in human rights issues is a big seller at the UN, where at least half its members have poor human rights records.

The president scores highly at the UN for refusing to project American values and military might on the world stage, with rare exceptions like the war against the Taliban. His appeasement of Iran, his bullying of Israel, his surrender to Moscow, his call for a nuclear free world, his siding with Marxists in Honduras, his talk of a climate change deal, have all won him plaudits in the large number of UN member states where US foreign policy has traditionally been viewed with contempt.

Simply put, Barack Obama is loved at the UN because he largely fails to advance real American leadership. This is a dangerous strategy of decline that will weaken US power and make her far more vulnerable to attack.

As we saw last week with his shameful surrender to Moscow over missile defense, the president is perfectly happy to undermine America’s allies and gut its strategic defenses while currying favour with enemies and strategic competitors. The missile defense debacle is rightly viewed as a betrayal by the Poles and the Czechs, and Washington has clearly give the impression that it cares little about those who have bravely stood shoulder to shoulder with their US allies in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wider war on terror.

The Obama administration is now overseeing and implementing the biggest decline in American global power since Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately it may well take another generation for the United States to recover.

So our elected President maligns the country that he leads, pisses off our allies, and cozies up to the scum of the world.  No wonder the UN loves Obama, and would like to see him in the Presidency as long as possible.

I feel much safer, don’t you?

Lurking In The Background

Obamacare, from a lot of different sources, is going to be a tough vote regardless of how many TV shows President Obama appears on, nor how many arms he twists.  While Senator Baucus marks up his proposal amid wheeling and dealing, one begins to wonder what kind of compromised hell is about to become unleashed upon the American public.  We have been led to believe that there is a health care crisis, where in reality there is not, at least in the sense that people would be thrown out of hospitals into the streets to die.

While Obamacare has to pass both halves of Congress plus the President, there is something that only has to pass the Senate and be signed by the President to become the law of the land.  It’s a landmine called “American Clean Energy and Security Act,” aka Waxman/Markey Bill, aka Cap & Trade.

While I’ve discussed this bill in an earlier post the stupidity of passing such a law, time has a way of making things a little more clearer.  For instance:

The House passed HR2454 by a bare 7 votes.  What became known after the fact is that many of the Representatives did not read the bill much less understand it before voting on it.  This was understandably unbelievable, and started in motion the demands of the public for our elected Representatives to read what they are voting on.  The backlash of voting on a 1,300+ page monstrosity without reading carried over into the health care bill.

And now a report has come to light that originated from the Treasury Department which states that the costs to the average American family is not the $175 per year, but over $1700.  From IBD Editorials:

Throughout the debate, the bill’s defenders said Waxman-Markey would cost “less than the price of a postage stamp per day,” a small price to pay, they declared, for saving the Earth from global warming. Their evidence: a Congressional Budget Office report that estimated the cost would be $175 per household a year.

But, as is often the case in Washington, it’s what they didn’t say that was more important.

While the House debated and eventually voted, filed away within the walls of the Treasury Department was an internal estimate that projected a cap-and-trade law would cost Americans up to $200 billion a year in new taxes. These taxes won’t be levied directly but will be paid when power providers and other carbon dioxide producers buy CO2 emission allowances from the federal government and then pass the costs on to customers — as will inevitably happen.

Overall, the costs would be “the equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15%,” Declan McCullagh reports on his “Taking Liberties” blog on CBSnews.com.

“At the upper end of the administration’s estimate, the cost per American household would be an extra $1,761 a year,” McCullagh wrote.

Not only would the average American household be affected, but every single business as well.  This will be an economy killer for sure.

This is the monster lurking in the wings while our attention is diverted by the media, politicians, and President with the Healthcare fiasco.  Remember – there is more than one campaign promise that Obama needs to make good on, and for absolutely no reason to inflict this legislation on the American people.  From another IBD article:

In a speech last week at the U.N.’s World Climate Conference in Geneva, Professor Mojib Latif of Germany’s Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University, one of the world’s foremost climate modelers and a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledged that the Earth has been cooling and is likely to continue that trend for the next couple of decades. Al Gore, call your office.

Latif has been looking into the influence of cyclical changes to ocean currents and temperatures in the Atlantic, a feature known as the North American Oscillation. When he factored these natural fluctuations into his global climate model, Professor Latif found the results brought the allegedly endless rise in global temperatures to a screeching halt.

Latif conceded the planet has not warmed for nearly a decade and that we are likely entering “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.” Latif still believes in a warming trend and thinks it will resume. But he at least acknowledges the empirical evidence of cooling, that there are factors at work here other than your SUV, and that doom will not occur the day after tomorrow.

So who says global warming will happen at all?  Computer models are only as good as the data and the program, and modeling anything as complex as the climate of the Earth is nearly impossible.  The number of variables is staggering, and who says that the program itself takes care of all the interactions of the climate  And of course, the random events such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and sunspots cannot be predicted nor accounted for because of their unknown impact upon the environment (duration, amount of energy released, particles, radiation, etc.).  Anyone who states that they can predict the climate of the Earth is a nut – the weather can’t be predicted two weeks in advance.

So what is the American Clean Energy and Security Act?  Nothing more than a concealed tax on the American people and, dare I say it, a payoff to an unknown entity that would make millions on the passage of this bill.

So write your Senators and tell them “no.”

How Do You Know?

One of my cats is recovering from a urinary tract infection, and is doing very well with some new medication.  But something is puzzling me…

The warning on the side of the bottle states, “May cause drowsiness.”

Now tell me – with a cat, how do you know?

Think about it…