Friday, April 24, 2015

Republicans Secretly Love Obamacare

I hate to say I told you so because I would love to see the Obamacare disaster repealed, but like I warned all along, Republicans only want to share in the looting.
Five minutes after Obamacare passed, Republicans called for its repeal, but Obamacare was modeled on the Heritage Foundation plan implemented by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. When Republicans chose Romney as their presidential nominee in 2012, it was an implicit embrace of Obamacare. The only part Republicans didn’t like was the giant slush fund for Democrat activists. When Republicans refined their slogan to “repeal and replace”, they meant modify the slush fund so Republican activists could share in the looting. The Republican House, which controls all federal spending, funded this abomination over and over since it passed. That’s not what people who really wanted to repeal it would do.
As recently as March, at the end of Obamacare’s enrollment debacle, The Washington Post reported, “The president’s health care law continues to wreak havoc on American families, small businesses and our economy, and as I’ve said many times, the problem was never just about the website – it’s the whole law,’ [Speaker of the House John Boehner] said in a statement Monday afternoon. ‘Millions of Americans are seeing their premiums rise, not the lower prices the president promised. Many small businesses are afraid to hire new workers, instead cutting hours and dropping health coverage for existing employees. Many Americans can no longer see their family doctor, despite the pledge no one would lose access to their physician. Seniors are feeling the impact, losing their Medicare Advantage plans the president promised they could keep. And taxpayers are being forced to pick up an unaffordable tab.’”
Boehner’s assessment was accurate, and on the basis of that assessment, he promised to repeal the disaster. Just a month later, he made the case that Obamacare could only be replaced with a similar big-government program. New Republic quotes Boehner, “The challenge is that Obamacare is the law of the land. It is there and it has driven all types of changes in our health care delivery system. You can’t recreate an insurance market overnight. Secondly, you’ve got the big hospital organizations buying up doctor’s groups because hospitals get reimbursed two or three times what doctors do for the same procedure just because it’s a hospital. Those kinds of changes can’t be redone. So the biggest challenge we are going to have—I do think at some point we’ll get there—is the transition of Obamacare back to a system that empowers patients and doctors to make choices that are good for their own health as opposed to doing what the government is dictating they should do.” Complete repeal would do what Boehner says he wants, but he ruled that out.
Then a predictable thing happened on the way to this election: President Obama self-destructed. Republicans no longer needed to lie about wanting to repeal Obamacare. The New York Times notes, “Republican attacks on the health care law dominated the early months of the campaign, but now have largely receded from view. The focus instead has been more on tethering Democratic candidates to Mr. Obama with a broad-brush condemnation of his policies.”
The Times continues, “Even though Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who could become the majority leader if he wins re-election and his party nets six seats, has stuck by his promise to repeal the law ‘root and branch,’ he has conceded that is quite unlikely to happen.”
Republican criticism of Obamacare, based on their own plan, has always been a charade for political gain. As economist Lew Rockwell put it, “Since the corporatist scheme was written by big pharma and its cartel allies, the GOP secretly (and now, not so secretly) loves it. In the old days, Republicans pretended to dislike Medicare, too.” Obamacare is another excuse for stealing people’s money and transferring it to giant corporations, much like Medicare Part D which Republicans passed while Bush the Younger was president. As the Mises Institute points out, Obamacare is a predictable evolution of the government takeover of healthcare both parties have advanced for a century. There’s nothing revolutionary about it.
I wonder how many times the people who fell for this Republican lie have fallen for them before and will continue falling for them.
The reason people fall for the ubiquitous lies of both parties is they fundamentally misunderstand the nature of government. Government exists to steal our money. The bigger and more powerful government gets, the richer politicians, all of whom are self-serving, become. This is why there’s no meaningful difference between the two parties except their lying rhetoric. Both parties support ever more warfare, welfare, and expansion of the size and scope of government. Because the state is an inherently criminal organization, stealing money and ordering people around at the points of its guns, it attracts the worst people in the region it controls to work for it. Government is brutally efficient at stealing our money and oppressing us while presenting the illusion of being legitimate, just incompetent.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fill Up While You Can

As I write this, lists local gas prices as low as $2.69. We haven’t seen prices that low in forever. There’s a couple reasons for it.
The good news is despite President Obama’s war on oil and thanks to oil shale, the US is on the verge of surpassing Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer. Bloomberg reports, “The U.S. will surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer by 2015, and be close to energy self-sufficiency in the next two decades, amid booming output from shale formations, the IEA [International Energy Agency] said.” Oil and gas production in the US is booming, and that’s about the only economic sector that is. The private sector still provides. The laws of supply and demand still work.
But that’s not the real story. The best lies are based on half-truths, and that’s what’s going on here. The establishment wants us to believe that suddenly, in just the last few weeks, US production has ramped up so much that it drove down prices. All hail Obama!
Of course that isn’t true. In an interview with Indian newspaper The Economic Times, legendary investor Jim Rogers tells what really drove down prices. The Times explains, “Even as crude oil prices have dipped to all-time lows, Jim Rogers of Rogers Holdings told ET Now that the decline is 'artificial'. ‘Some of this (oil price decline) is artificial. OPEC is trying to drive down prices because of Shale competition. The oil situation is very artificial at the moment.’”
I hate to disagree with Rogers, but even he’s only half right. OPEC was dumping oil, but not because of shale competition. OPEC doesn’t exist to drive prices down. It exists to keep them high. In fact, these low prices are causing problems for the Saudis. Vox presents another piece of the story. “Oil that's below $90 a barrel will throw the Saudi budget into deficit. But the Saudis have a big cash stockpile accumulated over the years,” Vox reported. “Oil that cheap will cause much more serious budgetary problems for the Saudis' regional rival, Iran. It's also bad for Russia, whose behavior in Syria has been at odds with Saudi policy. And Saudis hope that cheap oil will also crimp American production, effectively putting a floor under further price drops.”
The reality is these low prices are driven more by politics than economics. The economics are bad for the Saudis. “Of course this is not an uncontroversial strategy. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the ultra-rich Saudi investor potentate, recently released an open letter criticizing the Kingdom's official strategy of complacency,” Vox continued. “Even the biggest budget reserve will eventually go broke, after all, and further technical innovations could keep Bakken production profitable even at levels where it doesn't currently make sense.”
But the political elephant in the room oddly unmentioned in any stories about this recent, sharp fall in gas prices is the upcoming US election in which Republicans are threatening to take over the Senate. If they do, they’ll be able to force Obama into a bunch of unpopular vetoes, improving their chances at winning the presidency and both houses of Congress in 2016. This is why this midterm election is the most expensive in history, with nearly $4 billion being spent. The bigger and more powerful the government gets, the more wealth there is to be stolen in each election. Therefore the more money gets spent on each election.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Bloomberg informs, “Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, said it cut production by 408,000 barrels a day last month amid signs of a supply glut and Brent oil trading below $100 a barrel.”
The article continues, “The Saudi decline is the largest monthly drop in production since December 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Other estimates collated by OPEC, based on secondary sources, show that the kingdom cut output by 55,200 barrels to 9.86 million a day last month.”
The party is over. The Saudis know how long it takes to turn oil into gasoline. They cut production in order to drive up prices right after the US election. They’re helping Democrats because Obama has kindly agreed to blow a bunch of Syrians to bits and bomb Syria back into the stone age for them. In the Sunni-Shia regional civil war our government has dragged us into, Shiite Iran is enemy number one for the Sunni Saudis, and taking down President Assad in Syria is a stepping stone to attacking Iran. Obama helped the Saudis arm and train Sunni Islamic State [ISIS] fighters, and he’s destroying oil facilities in Syria. The Saudis drove down the price of gas in an evil quid pro quo. Not to mention Saudi Arabia continues to sell oil in dollars.
So fill your gas tank with cheap gas while you can. After election day, prices will climb back over $3 a gallon, then back over $3.50, in hopes of extending the life of the doomed US dollar.