Friday, November 21, 2014

A Modern Fable

The Fable of the Lazy Security Guard 

A man stood outside the bank.  He had a gun, and a handwritten note demanding 100,000 dollars in small, nonsequentially number bills. An alert security guard stood inside the bank, behind a locked door. Having been alerted to the pending robbery attempt, he had locked the door.  He refused to open it.

The would-be robber's presence came to the attention of a bystander, who heard the robber banging on the bank door and demanding admittance to the bank.

"What's going on," the bystander asked.

"This darn security guard," replied the would-be robber, tucking his gun into his waistband to avoid detection, "he won't open the darn door and let me in.  I want to make a withdrawal!"

The bystander, thinking he correctly perceived the circumstance as being one in which the unbeknownst to him would-be robber was, he thought, a valued customer of the bank, became belligerant and directed his loudly projected voice at the door and the security guard behind it.  "Open the door, damn it all to hell, people have business in there, and you need to start doing your job!"

A crowd gathered.

They saw the bystander taking up the cause of the robber, and heard him chastening what now seemed to be, to their perception, the indolent, shiftless, lazy security guard for "failing to do his job."

Finally, seething with indignity, the bystander took a crowbar, prized open the door of the bank whereupon the would-be-robber became a robber in fact.  As it happened, he was able to clean out the vault at the bank, including all the safety deposit boxes.

The next week, a hue and cry arose as account holders began to receive notices that their payments were being reversed for NSF (insufficient funds).  A few were further dismayed when they discovered the loss of important personal valuables, even items they planned to bequeath to their children, now long gone from the vault.

The Moral of the Story:

Sometimes, doing "nothing" is doing your job.  Sometimes, bystanders who criticize others for doing "nothing" are blithely ignorant of duty and honor.  And sometimes, when you think that someone has a valid moral claim on the property of others, they do, in fact, not have such a claim.

Can the Giant be Roused? Slumber versus Rigor Mortis

There are wonderful visual images in literature, in Gulliver's Travels, for example, the image of Gulliver, as the Lilliputians called him, a "man-mountain," being restrained by the smallest of strands and pegs. Popular culture also offers stunning visuals, the "Final Destination" series of movies has the recurring theme of a morgue, and in the first outing, the director takes us inside the morgue where a body is on the slab being prepared for embalming.  Oddly, literature and popular culture depend on the image of the human body in repose to set stories into action, to create tensions, and the like.  Fortunately, these are stories.  They entertain, they can amaze, inspire, and even startle or frighten.  Who avoids a vague unease when presented, by Edgar Allen Poe or a modern director, with the reality of having been buried alive?

When we write, when we create, we reflect the image of God, or at least, we can reflect it.

God is a writer. He has written in stone, as the story of the Ten Commandments tells us, and He writes in hearts, as the testimony of His grace tell us.

When we write, we can reflect His image in us. I think that is certainly the case with the writing of JRR Tolkien, whose The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are suffused with a distinctly Christian and Catholic theology. The long struggle between good and evil plays out in the story. Death and Resurrection do too. Redemption and forgiveness are there. Agape defines the fellowship of the Ring.

Today, though, I've been in a conversation with friends about our Nation. That conversation puts me, again, in mind of how I see the Nation in which we now find ourselves. I'm including this short video link from youtube.

You'll understand me better if you watch it, and understand that I see America, particularly, and Western Civilization generally, as Theoden, and the culture of the last six or seven decades as Grimma Wormtongue, bathing us in despair, self-loathing, and a willing acceptance of our own end.


Obama and his sycophants are not, necessarily Grimma, at least not alone. The gospel of doubt, of fear, of self-loathing, is preached in academia, has fed generations of college students who, in turn, became America's teacher corps. That same gospel is then replicated as efficiently as the production of RNA and DNA in a cell in schools the Nation over.

You can hear the whisper of it. "You aren't an exceptional nation. In fact, you're a tired, old thing, worn from years of taking more burdens on than anyone should have done. You've had your day on the stage, and what do you have to show for your ham-fisted attempts after all, except the loathing of France, the mocking of Russia, and the shadow of China on your heels?"

For my Republican friends, you should mark this point. 

We do not need a technical Republican. We do not need an efficient manager. We need a wind of inspiration. A voice, a clarion, waking us sensibly both to the present danger of our despair and to the bright possibilities of returning to the track where we so vigorously trod before, a path into a future filled with new mornings and bright days. This means, unfortunately for some of you, that we do not need Romney, and we do not need Bush. Neither has the voice. Neither embodies the message. Even among the proven, successful governors, it will not be enough that we select the best governor of the most productive State, unless that governor has that prophetic voice that echoes Reagan's in message and impact.

We need our own Gandalf.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Idiots We May Yet Prove to Be

Do you understand how you were duped?

Do you understand why it was convenient to get you to think that we could give everyone that didn't have health insurance that health insurance they didn't have, and that we could give you more extensive coverage than you had, without TAXING you?

You do see, don't you, that this is precisely what happened with the enactment of ReidPelosiObamacare?

They told you 40 million American were going without health insurance.  They talked about insurance issues at the margins. By this, I mean, the issues of pre-existing conditions exclusions and life-time caps on coverage. 

They omitted emphasizing to you that the 40 million included millions that CHOSE other approaches to health care than to have a health insurance policy. 

They omitted reminding you that many instances of "pre-existing conditions exclusions" were not LIFETIME DENIALS of coverage, but were, instead, limited periods of 90 days or 6 months, at the beginning of an insurance policy's coverage, for existing, diagnosed medical conditions. 

Instead, they relied on your willingness to believe the most horrible things about INSURANCE companies ... something you are willing to do because, GOD CURSE THOSE COMPANIES, they are for-profit companies, designed and intended to provide a return on investment to their shareholders.  And, as you might be willing to admit, you don't like the idea that someone creates a business, builds it up, sustains it, even in the face of close, scrupulous regulation (insurance companies are among the most closely regulated business), and make a profit from that business.  Why should they profit off of the misery of others? You may have even asked yourself that question.

So, when the idea of increased cost got hidden behind the idea of imposing additional layers of taxation of insurance companies, and further regulation of those companies, you kept quiet.  After all, you didn't have skin in the game.  You had Boyking's promise, "If you like your coverage, you can keep your coverage.  If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor."  Obviously, with promises like that, you were smugly satisfied to know that the evil insurance companies were being brought to heel, reigned in, and forced, essentially to disgorge profits they were unjustly creating by their scheme of pre-exclusionary denials and lifetime coverage caps.

Of course, it was a scam. 

No provision of ReidPelosiObama compels PRICE CONTROL on insurance companies.  The laws of economics in a free economy authorize a producer of a product to include in the retail price of the product it sells the costs of producing the product.  For example, media coverage suggests that the McDonalds Corporation maintains a pricing structure that produces a profit margin of 15 %.  To clarify what that means, think about that dollar menu.  If you buy a McDouble, and it if is priced to support a 15 % profit margin, McDonalds all-in cost for the McDouble is about $ 0.85.  Selling the burger for a dollar would produce a $ 0.15 profit.

Now, imagine a bovine disease killing 1/10th of America's cattle herds.  The price of beef will increase due to reduced availability and unreduced demand.  Or, imagine a spike in fuel costs, fuel being necessary for transporting cattle to slaughterhouses and beef to market.  As a consequence, do you see how the all-in cost to produce a McDouble could easily increase to $ 0.95?  What will McDonalds do?  It can absorb the cost, of course, and businesses often make a business judgment that it is necessary to reduce their margin of profit.  In the long run, however, if McDonalds Corporation's earning expectations are going to be met, if its shareholders are going to be rewarded for investing their nickels and dimes, then the price of the McDouble will have to come up.  In fact, to maintain McDonald's profit margin, it will have to rise to $ 1.10.

Set aside the supposed MORAL question of whether health insurance companies should be in the business of making profits.  I know some of you will say that the obvious answer is that they should not, and I'm not writing this post to challenge that decidedly unbiblical notion.  This post simply reaffirms what, in the absence of driving notions of greed and jealousy, you would have seen as obvious when this whole debacle of ReidPelosiObamacare was pushed through the legislative process.

For now, we have an economic system that has not converted fully to a statist, command control mode.  To be sure, we are far closer to socialist control of the market than we are to free market principles; likewise, to be sure the teaching value of ReidPelosiObamacare -- for the Statist -- is that you have agreed with their wisdom, risen from your stupidity, and begun to accept as a certain truth a principle that just isn't so:  namely that producers of a product can be forced to absorb additional costs of production of a product or provision of a service, while not increasing the PRICE YOU PAY. 

Of course, to the dismay of Democrat Party faithful, like Senator Mary Landrieu, who supported ReidPelosiObamacare and soon to be former Senator Kay Hagan, the Making Health Care Unaffordable Act actually began to take effect.  When it did so, it operations immediately began to deform the market from the shape it had taken when operating on principles closer to free markets. 

Individual choices on health care funding were immediately restricted.  This reduction in liberty was accomplished by reducing your ability to reduce personal income tax liabilities by shifting some earnings from your paycheck to medical expense accounts.  In a previous job, I was able to set aside $ 7,000.00 a year for unplanned but predictable medical expenses.  Yes, you see, even with existing health coverage a family of ten will incur predictable but uncovered costs, including co-pays on office visits, prescriptions, and specialty diagnostic services such as MRIs.  By deferring that income into such an account, I did not pay income tax on it.  Of course, I also did not have access to that money to buy McDoubles, or to purchase a new car, or the like.  But I could meet the regular, dependable additional costs of health care that we faced as we raised our family. 

Why would there be a scheme that allowed you to earn money, not receive it in your paycheck, and spend it only on medical related expenses?  Well, obviously, it was a system that rewarded careful thought, consideration, and forward planning.  We knew, for example, with our brood, that broken arms, cavities, eyeglasses, sniffles and sneezes, would be a recurring part of life. We also knew that only an all encompassing and impossibly expensive health care insurance plan could meet every eventuality of life. The tax avoidance scheme didn't reward us with a Cadillac Escalade (or with the health insurance version of one).  It didn't reward us with a week vacation to Disney World.  Instead, it "rewarded" us with the ability to meet some of those marginal expenses of health care that insurance -- if it was to be priced reasonably -- simply could not cover.

But ReidPelosiObamacare ended that program.  Well, it reduced it so that the amount an individual could defer from taxation into such accounts was reduced to about $2000.00 a year.

What is the net effect of doing that?

The net effect of that is to reincorporate any amount exceeding $2000.00, amounts previously excluded from income back into one's income.  Do you follow?  In other words, it INCREASED THE TAXABLE INCOME of persons that had, previously, avoided taxation by directing some income into forward-thinking, sensible approaches to provide for health care uncertainties.  As a result, additional REVENUES were generated to the government.  By the way, doing this, FORCING EARNINGS back under taxation, did not reduce contingent medical expenses for us or for anyone else.  Eyeglasses still cost money ... until the next Boyking or Girlking takes the throne and tells optometrists and opticians that they have to give eyeglasses away.  MRIs still carry costs and co-pays.  So, to fund other activities of the federal government, ReidPelosiObamacare ended that program.

Marginal plans were identified as not meeting minimum requirements of ReidPelosiObamacare; those providing them were required to make changes.  A hard-working young man of my long acquaintance, my son, James Henderson, lost his health insurance coverage previously available to him through his employer.  In fact, millions did, and that is even before the "employer mandate" takes effect.  Companies like Home Depot, Walgreens and Trader Joes, that had provided health insurance coverage for its less-than-fulltime staff had to come to grips with the new Statist reality and dumped their employees out onto the market.

The reality immediately smacked Democrats in the face. THEY FOISTED THIS STATIST IGNORANCE on the Nation, and had already taken a beating in the 2010 Congressional elections, where Republicans were swept into control of the House.  The boyking immediately began a self-preservation program of changes, deferrals, delays, exclusions and limitations to the LEGAL REQUIREMENTS of ReidPelosiObamacare.  These actions were not taken because the Boyking realized the error of his way.  They were done only in a failing effort to "preserve future political viability" for himself and for no other reason whatever.

And all this happened because, in fact, Americans often do not closely tend the garden of our society.  In fact, over time, Americans have oddly begun to treat the vegetable plants in the garden -- businesses that produce goods and services -- as weeds, and the weeds in the garden -- government regulation that stifles growth and opportunity -- as prized petunias.  The "weeds" of government talk about how selfish the tomato plants are, and you begin pinching off the plant, thinking that somehow it will continue to grow the fruit you love -- blue ray players, low profile tires, hot and ready low calorie entrees, or the like.  And you manure the weeds of government, tolerating their encroachments in the garden, their noxious capacity to steal life from other plants, their demand, always increasing, for growing room.

The cure exists. 

It isn't easy, to be sure.  But the weeds have to go.  Government intrusions have to stop.  They have to be torn up out of the garden, root to tip.

For this reason, you have to rise from your slumbers.  You have to educate yourself to the present danger.  And you have to hold Republicans, now coming into command of the entire Congress, accountable.  They must undo ReidPelosiObamacare.  Not by dribs and drabs.  To do a piecemeal repair of the travesty is to admit the inadmissible, that such encroachments are wise or warranted.  They are not.  This is a ground upon which we can stand.  This is a ground on which the Congress can stand.  This is a ground on which we can judge our own collective wisdom in giving them this great responsibility.

Or we can prove Mr. Gruber correct and proceed like the idiots he thinks we are.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Can the Giant be Roused? Slumber versus Rigor Mortis

There are wonderful visual images in literature, in Gulliver's Travels, for example, the image of Gulliver, as the Lilliputians called him, a "man-mountain," being restrained by the smallest of strands and pegs. Popular culture also offers stunning visuals, the "Final Destination" series of movies has the recurring theme of a morgue, and in the first outing, the director takes us inside the morgue where a body is on the slab being prepared for embalming.  Oddly, literature and popular culture depend on the image of the human body in repose to set stories into action, to create tensions, and the like.  Fortunately, these are stories.  They entertain, they can amaze, inspire, and even startle or frighten.  Who avoids a vague unease when presented, by Edgar Allen Poe or a modern director, with the reality of having been buried alive?

When we write, when we create, we reflect the image of God, or at least, we can reflect it.

God is a writer. He has written in stone, as the story of the Ten Commandments tells us, and He writes in hearts, as the testimony of His grace tell us.

When we write, we can reflect His image in us. I think that is certainly the case with the writing of JRR Tolkien, whose The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are suffused with a distinctly Christian and Catholic theology. The long struggle between good and evil plays out in the story. Death and Resurrection do too. Redemption and forgiveness are there. Agape defines the fellowship of the Ring.

Today, though, I've been in a conversation with friends about our Nation. That conversation puts me, again, in mind of how I see the Nation in which we now find ourselves. I'm including this short video link from youtube.

You'll understand me better if you watch it, and understand that I see America, particularly, and Western Civilization generally, as Theoden, and the culture of the last six or seven decades as Grimma Wormtongue, bathing us in despair, self-loathing, and a willing acceptance of our own end.


Obama and his sycophants are not, necessarily Grimma, at least not alone. The gospel of doubt, of fear, of self-loathing, is preached in academia, has fed generations of college students who, in turn, became America's teacher corps. That same gospel is then replicated as efficiently as the production of RNA and DNA in a cell in schools the Nation over.

You can hear the whisper of it. "You aren't an exceptional nation. In fact, you're a tired, old thing, worn from years of taking more burdens on than anyone should have done. You've had your day on the stage, and what do you have to show for your ham-fisted attempts after all, except the loathing of France, the mocking of Russia, and the shadow of China on your heels?"

For my Republican friends, you should mark this point. 

We do not need a technical Republican. We do not need an efficient manager. We need a wind of inspiration. A voice, a clarion, waking us sensibly both to the present danger of our despair and to the bright possibilities of returning to the track where we so vigorously trod before, a path into a future filled with new mornings and bright days. This means, unfortunately for some of you, that we do not need Romney, and we do not need Bush. Neither has the voice. Neither embodies the message. Even among the proven, successful governors, it will not be enough that we select the best governor of the most productive State, unless that governor has that prophetic voice that echoes Reagan's in message and impact.

We need our own Gandalf.