Sweden’s Shrinking State

Ah, Sweden, the very mention of it will often bring about the phrase ‘liberal paradise’. The land where healthcare is free, everyone lives long lives, and there’s no crime or violence, despite huge taxes and a massive public government.

All of it sounds wonderful except: it hasn’t been that way since the early 1990′s and its government is shrinking by the day.

Yes, this ‘paradise’, it seems, has been deregulating and lowering both taxes and spending for the past 20 years at a rate that’s absolutely astonishing. This myth of the ‘perfect state’ has come about due to a few things:

  1. Between 1850-1950, Sweden had one of the fastest growing economies in the world, it amassed massive capital, and was largely unregulated.
  2. Between 1950 to 1980, all the state programs began with the huge surpluses they had, and marginal taxation skyrocketed to 70% – this is the liberal paradise that people mention. Times were good, really, but it was unsustainable.
  3. Starting in the 1990s, the ‘banking crisis’ occurred where banks collapsed, the healthcare system utterly failed, killing thousands, and the entire financial system started to collapse on itself. Spending as a percentage of GDP  was at an all time high of 71.1% (for reference, the US now spends 103%). The education system was on the verge of collapse and many, many jobs evaporated overnight.
  4. Sweden went from 4th richest OECD country to the 16th in the span of 20 years.

Strangely, no big government advocate seems to know of the 1990′s Swedish banking crisis. It’s in plain view: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Sweden#Crisis_of_the_1990s and is a well studied piece of history in Sweden itself. The reasons are clear: big government intervention. Sweden, instead of continuing to go down the bad course, actually did something that is rarely done: they reversed course.

In 1994, following the banking crisis, massive market reform came down and entire industries were deregulated. Private schools were started, a voucher system was put in place, and largely, the majority of top performing schools in Sweden are for profit. The banking system was deregulated, many services were cut, taxes lowered, and spending as a percentage of GDP was cut from 71.1% to 53.3% an overall reduction of the state by over 30%.

Even the citizens are wanting less state provided healthcare. A rise of private insurance has been growing in Sweden, In 2011 about 440,000 people had private health care insurance in the country of 9.5 million (source: http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/22/socialist-swedes-take-to-private-health). If this public paradise was so great, why is it radically moving towards privatizing and deregulation faster than the US is moving towards socialization? Now, Sweden is still less ‘free’ than what most libertarians would wish, but it does show that a country can turn itself around and that even the most praised ‘ideal liberal states’ are not immune to the ill effects of big government.

For more reading on the subject, an article that appeared in Forbes does a great job going into more detail: http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2012/05/13/look-to-sweden-obamas-high-tax-gurus/

Let’s not “try again” with Obamacare, please

The old saw about “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again” may seem appropriate to the democrats dilemma with Obamacare, but, it isn’t. 

I would be laughing my bippy off — rolling on the floor, holding my sides in uproarious laughter, save for one thing:  the Obamacare mess is so darned serious! 

This scribe, along with a few thousand others, warned for years,  years mind you, that all these problems WOULD occur if Obamacare became law.

We were laughed at, hooted down, made the punch line of off-color jokes, and generally derided for our temerity to even question the superior intellect of Obama and his coterie of brainy brats and computer models and their exclusive circle of leftist whiz kids all with the common purpose of saving us –  the lowly peons of the proletariat  – from ourselves.

Well, they failed… failed miserably.  And we have God to thank for it.

As my family gathers round the Thanksgiving table in a few days, I intend to offer thanks to God for all the blessings of the past year — among them His interference in the machinations of the wicked political left as they have so forcefully attempted to curtail and deny Americans the rights granted us by God, Himself, through the entanglement of a law spawned in the deepest, darkest, bowels of Hell, itself, Obamacare. 

And NO.  I am not kidding.  I feel THAT strongly about the dangers to myself, my family, and my country presented by Obamacare.

Have you wondered just WHY the government is having so much trouble setting up Obamacare and getting it running?   There is a very good reason why they are failing so miserably.

See, the government of the United States was NEVER intended to do such a thing. It was not devised by the minds of the Founding Fathers to run the lives of its people.

When America was founded, the LAST THING Americans wanted was a strong central government. They fought a revolution to rid themselves of just such a government.

America was never intended as a nation of people who were wards of the government.  That’s one reason our laws were centered onindividual freedoms.  

The Founding Fathers — and all early Americans – simply understood that Americans were responsible for themselves.  They knew there was no such thing as a “right” to healthcare.  Had one raised the question one would have been laughed down as a complete idiot back then. 

Yes, Americans have rights.  They are  the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. And that’s it! 

The people who founded this country knew there was a demarcation line, a conceptual separation, if you will,  between governing and meddling in the lives of their citizens.  They also knew that government meddling would end in reduced freedoms for the citizens of the country.  So,  they deliberately stayed their hand to leave us the most free people on the globe. 

At first that list of guaranteed rights for American may seem short.  Ask yourself why ONLY those rights were codified in our laws.  Then consider this:  “Why only THESE? Observe that all legitimate rights have one thing in common: they are rights to action, not to rewards from other people. The American rights impose no obligations on other people, merely the negative obligation to leave you alone. The system guarantees you the chance to work for what you want—not to be given it without effort by somebody else.” (Emphasis mine)   SOURCE:  http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?id=13873

Am I saying that they (the early Americans) were smarter than modern Americans?  Yes, in fact, I am. They were certainly better educated and far more intelligent than most of our intelligentsia today.   And as smart politicians go, they were light years ahead of the Washington brain trusts in our government today.

America’s government was never supposed to do what the ACA (Affordable Care Act — aka– Obamacare) calls for it to do today.

Americans were intended to be FREE!  The ACA slaps a ball and chain on EVERY American – effectively stripping Americans of the right to think for themselves, fend for themselves, and be responsible human beings and good citizens.

Not even completely out of the starting chute yet and already Obamacare is a massive failure.  It will only get worse.

Now the political left is offering up every possible explanation as to why it isn’t working and offering all sorts of “fixes” for it.

Now they want to “reform” it.  BEWARE!  Reforming Obamacare will only make it worse.  

Obamacare MUST be REPEALED, not reformed. If Americans wish to save their country, they must repeal Obamacare – and forget any sort of socialized medicine for America.

Look.  Let me make it as plain as I know how:  We can have either America or socialized medicine.  WE CANNOT HAVE BOTH.

Despite massive spending, underachievement prevails

r-SAN-FRANCISCO-MINIMUM-WAGE-HIKE-large570Did you know that the number of people on food stamps has grown over the past 13 years by nearly 30 million, which accounts for almost 20% of households receiving taxpayer-funded food subsidies?  At the same time, the federal government is spending more per household than ever before – in fact, a 152 percent increase since 1965.

Our middle class is shrinking – the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, due in large part to insanely complex government rules and regulations that only those with resources can bypass.  In fact, the top 7% of households own 63% of the nation’s wealth.  During the so-called economy recovery, the other 93% of families lost wealth, putting into question the effectiveness of big spending government stimulus packages and who, in reality, the recovery truly helped.

ABC News reports that nearly 50 million people in the United States live in poverty, but yet, most Americans view our nation as the most prosperous in the world, fundamentally superior to our foreign counterparts despite our poor education system, insanely expensive healthcare industry and THE biggest government that we’ve ever had.

In fact, our healthcare system spends twice as much per person than any other developed nation in the world, a cost that accounts for more than 16% of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Our healthcare spending has increased at twice the rate of inflation, but yet our pharmaceuticals continue to kill and emergency rooms remain clogged with people using it as their primary care service.

A much-maligned segment of the population, the top 1% of income earners in the country have a greater net worth than the bottom 90% put together.  Perhaps this is due to nearly a quarter of all jobs in the United States that pay a wage of less than $10/hour.

Worse, spending in Washington continues to grow, more than it ever has despite record tax revenues.  Federal politicians managed to rack up $755 billion in deficits through the first eleven months of 2013′s fiscal year.  Spending during the same period amounted to a whopping $3.2 trillion.

Now, the government wants to take over healthcare.  Already the most expensive healthcare system in the entire world, the 10,500-page Obamacare monstrosity has authorized the government to spend even more money.  The new healthcare system’s broken Healthcare.gov web site cost the American taxpayer $634 million to build.  Obamacare has caused many insurance companies to cancel policies and create more expensive alternatives.  Premiums have risen and job hours have decreased to sub-30 hours to avoid Obamacare penalties.

The evidence of the big government effect is clear and overwhelming, and it is costing the American taxpayer trillions of dollars in reckless spending.  Both the Democrats and Republicans represent the cause of these problems, and our nation will never truly fix our ailing spending habits until we replace those responsible for it.

If you like your gun, you can keep your gun

21guns_fire600Gun owners and freedom-loving Americans are often considered by anti-gunners to be conspiracy theorists when arguing that the government’s intended plan is not just gun control, but gun confiscation.  However, perhaps Obama’s famous utterances about his healthcare mess over the past dozen months will bring clarity to those who want a disarmed America.

Obama was recorded no less than 29 times telling the American people that “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan”, a claim that has been repeatedly proven false in insurance cancellation letters sent to average Americans.  Apparently, Obama is “sorry” that so many Americans fell into the trap that he set for them, losing health benefits that they liked and forced into purchasing a more expensive alternative.

Although the White House’s spin machine claims that the president meant “only if your healthcare plan hasn’t changed”, most Americans know the truth.  The president lied.  The White House has been caught directly lying to the American people about one of the most unpopular pieces of legislation ever signed into law.  The fact is the majority of Americans cannot keep their healthcare plans because Obamacare’s new regulations force insurance companies to change them.  The president knew this.  The president LIED.

Naturally, it is no real surprise that gun-owners of America are inherently fearful that the government’s claim “nobody wants to take your guns” is, just like the president’s healthcare claim, a LIE.

It should come as no real twist of logic that people naturally become distrustful of entities that have proven themselves untrustworthy.  Would you put your trust in someone who repeatedly lies to you?  Then why do so many anti-gunners feel that freedom-loving Americans are simply wrapped around the conspiracy axle with their distrust of the official government line?

If our government lies to the American people about something as important as our healthcare, what makes people believe that the government would suddenly tell the truth about gun ownership?  I recognize that chalking this up to a conspiracy is a simple answer and the easiest way to marginalize legitimate fear, but history of our government tells a very different tale.

Here is a good example of the hilarious anti-gun mind at work, from the DailyKos, of course.  “If you are using a gun with an extended clip…we want to take your gun.”  Unbeknownst to author “themoderateman”, that statement refers to absolutely any gun that is not a revolver, because virtually any gun can accept an extended “clip”.  Also, please ignore the usage of the word “clip” rather than “magazine” – most anti-gunners have never shot a gun in their lives and, as a result, rarely possess the ability to discuss them intelligently.

Or, let’s take this one: “If you are currently intoxicated with alchohol (typo uncorrected) or some other drug…give us your gun, right now.”  Any time you get intoxicated, the government should have the ability to take your gun away from you, even if you’re not using it.  Wonderful!

Or better yet, the second to last paragraph:

Bottom line, as a person of principle, not an etch a sketch faux varmint hunter, let me be clear, you can keep a gun to hunt, you can keep a reasonable handgun to protect your property and person, and you can keep your goofy gun collections but you MAY NOT HAVE SICKO GUNS DESINGED TO DO NOTHING OTHER THAN KILL PEOPLE!!!!  We liberals want to take THOSE GUNS away.  We really do!

We have yet another emotionally-driven argument from an emotional liberal who unknowingly supports the confiscation of virtually EVERY weapon in the United States, but then allows some gun use out of the kindness of his heart for those tasks that HE believes to be worthy of gun ownership.

Impressive, isn’t it?

Just remember, if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan.

Why does Sebelius still have a job?

Unlike the real world, where managers and employees are judged on results and held accountable for their performance, in Washington, D.C., loyalty and partisanship almost always come first. Accountability comes later, if it comes at all.

This happens in every administration, and President Obama’s is no different, as we’ve seen with the fatal mistakes made regarding the Fast & Furious gun program and in the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Democrats, claiming to see these as partisan witch hunts designed to hurt the administration politically, circled the wagons. Obama stood loyally by Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton.

Loyalty is generally a good thing, in politics, as in life. But Kathleen Sebelius and her agency’s rollout of Obamacare is different.

Sebelius’ department had 3½ years to prepare to implement the Affordable Care Act. No one ever suggested that commandeering one-sixth of the American economy would be an easy task. (Many Republicans suggested the opposite and were dismissed as killjoys for their efforts.) But after the debacle of the last two weeks, liberals and Democrats—not conservatives or Republicans—should be calling for Sebelius’s head.

The administration’s handling of the implementation of Obamacare over the past three years has been a slow-moving train wreck: a mixture of embarrassing delays, hard-to-justify waivers, and assorted bad news about the unintended consequences of the law. Some of this was Sebelius’s fault, some of it was not.

The crowning blunder came 10 days ago with the rollout of healthcare.gov website, the centerpiece of the administration’s effort to sign individuals up for coverage through the government-run health care exchanges that are at the heart of the legislation. To say this was vitally important to the overall success of the law is an understatement. It is the aspect of Obamacare that the president himself has said is utterly essential—and backed up those words by letting the federal government shut down rather that give in to Republican demands to gut it. Nonetheless, its premiere was a giant flop – and Kathleen Sebelius is responsible.

The government’s website apparently cost more than $500 million to build—and counting. This is more than LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Spotify, and yet it has been a disaster from the get-go, freezing, crashing, and locking people out.

The administration’s line is that the website was overwhelmed by surprisingly strong demand, which they cast as a good thing. Programmers who peeked under the hood of the website scoffed at that assertion, saying that the site was so poorly constructed, so full of glitches and buggy code that it could never have supported even the most modest traffic levels. Some of that code was actually caused by spelling errors in Javascript.

Worse still, despite repeated warnings about the deficiency of the site, it apparently was not even taken out for a test drive before the administration launched the thing.

“It wasn’t designed well, it wasn’t implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it,” database programmer Luke Chung told CBS. “I would be ashamed and embarrassed if my organization delivered something like that.”

The website remains a mess to this day, and even though Sebelius has issued repeated assurances her team is working around the clock to get it fixed, serious damage has already been done. According to one estimate, just 51,000 people in the entire United States were able to complete applications on the site during the first week.

Obama himself was reduced to pleading with people not to give up on signing up. Sebelius, dispatched this week to do damage control on “The Daily Show,” only made matters worse by stumbling through an interview with an exasperated Jon Stewart—a supporter of Obamacare—who couldn’t get a straight answer from the HHS secretary about why businesses received a one-year delay from being hit with penalties in the law but individuals did not.

When the Obama administration loses Jon Stewart, you know things are bad. But supporters of Obamacare have a right to be furious with Sebelius. Her agency’s bungling has put Obama’s signature achievement, and his legacy, at risk.

Republicans are fond of saying that government would work much better if it were run like a business. Any corporation that allowed a COO to mismanage a new product line as important to its image as the Affordable Care Act is to Obama’s would be contemplating their severance package.

The fact that Republicans haven’t called for Sebelius’ scalp should tell Democrats all they need to know about how much conservatives think she is hurting Obamacare’s cause. If the president cares about rescuing his signature policy initiative, he should consider putting it under new management right away.

Article originally published at: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/10/11/president_obama_should_fire_sebelius_120303.html

Hospitals refusing to accept Obamacare patients

GTY_hospital_lpl_130822_16x9_992Americans who expect to take advantage of high-cost healthcare services may be in for a surprise as many hospitals are refusing to accept Obamacare insurance, according to a new report from WatchDog.org.  Most hospitals, the report cites, will only accept Obamacare from one or two insurance providers.

Worse, insurance bought privately outside of Obamacare would have been honored.  “For example, fourth-ranked Cleveland Clinic accepts dozens of insurance plans if you buy one on your own. But go through Obamacare and you have just one choice: Medical Mutual of Ohio.”

The problem is Obamacare’s cap on premiums has prompted many insurance companies to significantly limit reimbursement to doctors.  More and more hospitals are beginning to refuse heavily used and risky Obamacare plans that were purchased within the healthcare “marketplace” due to fears that policyholders simply cannot afford expensive medical services.

Read the entire report: http://watchdog.org/114137/top-hospitals-opt-out-of-obamacare/

Healthcare.gov sending private data to third parties

According to a TheVerge.com story, the monumental Healthcare.gov web site failure is violating its own privacy policy by sending private user data, like username and password reset codes, to third party services such as Pingdom, DoubleClick and Google Analytics.

While the information is encrypted before it is sent, the violation of its own privacy policy stands as yet another debacle that the untested Healthcare.gov web site is in the middle of.  According to an email to TheVerge.com, Google has no use for this information and is unsure why the information was ever sent.

Read the entire report: http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/31/5047932/healthcare-gov-transferring-private-user-information-third-parties