Was Sarah Palin right? 1


By Tom Quiner

Let us revisit a notorious statement from last year:

“The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

Sarah Palin, August 7, 2009

Ms. Palin was excoriated by the Obama administration and his cheerleaders in the media for her use of the term “death panel.”  Her statement is worth revisiting in light of who President Obama nominated to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Obama has mandated massive cuts in these two programs.  The new administrator will make those cuts. That man, should his nomination be approved, is Dr. Donald Berwick of Harvard Medical School.

Let us review Dr. Berwick’s philosophy so we can put Ms. Palin’s fears to rest regarding “death panels.”  I have accumulated several of his quotes which sets out his vision for medical care:

• Talking in London to the Brits about their system, he said:  “I hope you will never, ever give up what you have begun.  I hope you realize and affirm how badly you need — how badly the world needs — an example at scale of a health system that is universal, accessible, excellent and free at the point of care — a health system that, at its core is like the world we wish we had: generous, hopeful, confident, joyous and just.”

Free care is what he wants.  Don’t we all!  But Dr. Berwick is just getting warmed up:

• “I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it.”

In other words, he believes in a single payer system.

• “You cap your health care budget, and you make the political and economic choices you need to make to keep affordability within reach.  You plan the supply; you aim a bit low; you prefer slightly too little of a technology or a service to too much; then you search for care bottlenecks and try to relieve them.”

In other words, you ration.

• “You could have protected the wealthy and the well, instead of recognizing that sick people tend to be poorer and that poor people tend to be sicker, and that any health care funding plan that is ‘just’ must redistribute wealth.”

Translation:  socialism.

Last year, President Obama signed a bill which funded the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (aka Healthcare Rationing Council).  Here is Dr. Berwick’s take on what comparative effectiveness is all about:

• “The first is to determine whether a therapy works or not. The second is to determine how well the therapy works compared to other therapies. The third is to do a cost-benefit analysis. If a new drug or procedure is effective, and has some advantage over existing alternatives,then does the incremental benefit justify the likely additional cost?”

Now we get to the nitty-gritty:  if you’re paying for your own health care, you get to make those decisions yourself.  If the government is subsidizing it, as they shall under Obamacare, they make the decision, not you.

Dr. Berwick makes it clear what that will mean to you:

• “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care, the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

Will healthcare be withheld (rationed) to some sick Americans?  According to the President’s nominee to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the answer is yes. That’s what rationing means.  Some get it, some don’t, and you don’t get a say in it.

Call it what you want:  Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research or a death panel, the result is the same.

Government job growth continues 2


By Tom Quiner

The rest of the media is catching up with Quiner’s Diner.

Last week, we wrote about the explosion of new government jobs under the Obama administration at the same time employment in the private sector has plummeted.

We wrote about how these government jobs are overwhelmingly directed to government unions who overwhelmingly support one political party (here’s a clue: it’s not the Republicans).

We wrote about how these government union jobs enjoy wages and perks that far surpass the private sector.

This story has finally trickled down to the Drudge Report.  Here was their headline today:

“Obama redistribution victory:  private pay plummets, government handouts soar.”

Here was a headline on the Des Moines Register this morning:  “Federal work force isn’t facing cutbacks like private sector.”

Here was the USA Today’s headline:  “Private pay shrinks to historic lows as gov’t payouts rise.”

The USA today quoted University of Michigan economist, Donald Grimes who said: “the trend is not sustainable.  Reason: The federal government depends on private wages to generate income taxes to pay for its ever-more-expensive programs. Government-generated income is taxed at lower rates or not at all.  This is really important,” Grimes says.

The Register stated that “average compensation for federal civilian workers increased nearly twice as much as did the private sector from 2000 to 2008.”  When you include all their perks and wages, the average federal civilian worker earns $119,982.

President Obama plans to add 274,000 MORE full-time civilian workers to the Executive Branch, HIS branch alone, by 2011.  That doesn’t include the rest of the government.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that private sector, construction, manufacturing, and business services all lost more than 100,000 jobs in February. Even worse, the service-providing sector lost more than 375,000 jobs.  On the other hand, government jobs continued to explode with 9000 new jobs in the same time period along with another 26,000 jobs in the education and health service fields.

The Obama/Pelosi/Reid team are pursuing a conscious course of action:  to redistribute wealth.  One of the savviest ways to do it is to transfer it to government unions who pay them back with campaign contributions and votes at election time. In fairness, that’s politics.  But it comes at a price.  The folks who pay the bills, namely the entrepreneurs and employees of America’s small businesses, have to sacrifice even more to support folks who live much better than they do.

Are you okay with that?

Boswell earns 100% score on the “Pelosi Index” 1


By Tom Quiner

By and large, Iowans are sensible and frugal.

Yes, Des Moines and Iowa City have their fair share of big-spending liberals. But most Iowans have been blessed with some common sense.

That leads me to Central Iowa’s Congressman, Leonard Boswell.  I think Mr. Boswell is a good guy.  Having said that, I disagree with him on most major political issues.

I spent some time on The National Republican’s Trust website, and they produced an interesting index.  It’s called The Pelosi Index.  Here’s what the site says about it:

THE PELOSI INDEX, analyzes and tracks every member of Congress’ true voting record and details how often these self proclaimed moderates vote to support Pelosi’s radical transformation of America.”  It tracks the votes cast on 12 key Pelosi legislative initiatives.

Get more details here: http://nationalrepublicantrust.com/PelosiIndex/index.php

Congressman Boswell, a Democrat, earned a perfect score of 100 percent.  So did other Iowa Democrats, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsback.

By contrast, Republicans Steve King and Tom Latham earned a zero rating.  I commend them for voting against these bills.  The legislation included in The Pelosi Index tripled the Bush deficits in one year.

America cannot sustain that much spending without creating financial instability and prolonged economic hardship.

This November, we have a golden opportunity to do something about our deficits: elect a Republican Congress.  According to the late, great economist, Milton Friedman, spending declines most when we have a Democrat in the White House and a Republican controlled Congress.

Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich were a dream team in some respects.  Let’s give Congressman Boswell a much deserved retirement.  We need fiscal restraint, and Congressman Boswell has demonstrated he’s not about to provide it.

Dear Abby’s dilemma reflects America’s dilemma 4


By Tom Quiner

Did you read Dear Abby on Saturday?

Read it here:  http://www.kansascity.com/2010/05/21/1962299/dear-abby-couples-polar-politics.html#ixzz0onsfxhFQ

In a nutshell, a young couple are experiencing difficulties in their relationship due to significant political differences.  The writer poses this question:  “How can we learn to have a mutual respect for our political opinions while not compromising what each believes?”

The question reflects a deeper problem facing America.  Political differences were manageable as long as both sides share some basic values.  Those values were stated in the Declaration of Independence:   that each person has God-given fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Both political parties agreed on this value system until this generation.

Today’s Democratic Party has moved away from the value system that served America so well. Instead, today’s Democrats pointedly reject the notion that a person has a fundamental right to life.

Their position on that issue today is certainly reminiscent of their position in 1860 when they rejected the notion that certain human beings had a right to freedom, a right to their own life. President Lincoln’s famous warning is relevant today:  “a nation divided against itself cannot stand.”

What a chilling thought.

There’s hope.  Polling data shows America is becoming more pro life.  Technology lets us see into the womb in wondrous way.  Anyone willing to look sees the beauty of humanity unfold from the moment of conception.

The spark of creation is dazzling.  One peek and the case for Life becomes compelling and the case for abortion becomes sickening.

Just as the couple in Dear Abby are having a tough time, America is faced with a huge challenge as long as one political party wishes to impose their radical vision on the rest of us.

Neither side has any respect for the other’s view.  We’re at war with each other.  None expressed the dilemma more eloquently than a famous Senator: “While the deep concern of a woman  bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion-on-demand is not in accordance with the values our civilization places on human life.  Wanted or unwanted,  I believe that human life even at its earliest stages has certain rights which must be recognized.  The right to be born; the right to love; the right to grow old.”

The late Senator, Teddy Kennedy, said it so well.  Yes, you read correctly.  Senator Kennedy later changed his mind for political reasons.  My hope is that Democrats will change their mind again for political reasons as a growing number of Americans realize what is actually in the womb:  a person.

The Democrats were on the wrong side in 1860.  They are again in 2010.

What Should We Do About Global Warming? 1


By Tom Quiner

As seen in the Des Moines Register on November 29, 2009

Two heartbreaking tragedies hit Great Britain earlier this decade.

Tragedy #1 killed 2,000 people .   Tragedy #2 killed 25,000.

If you went by the media coverage, tragedy #1 was worse.  Those people died from a heat wave that swept the entire European continent back in 2003.  Media coverage positioned the cause of the catastrophe as global warming.  Press coverage was huge.

What was the cause of tragedy #2?  Excess cold.  It received minimal coverage.  In fact, cold temperatures  account for about seven times the number of deaths in Europe  overall  than heat-related deaths.  BBC coverage was modest.  International coverage was nonexistent.

If global warming is real, what will it do to us?  For one thing, it will help reduce deaths related to cold temperatures.

Former Vice President and global warming activist, Al Gore, told us “the debate is over” when it comes to global warming.  And yet recent and surreptitiously obtained correspondence from global warming scientists reveal some have been manipulating and suppressing data to support their cause.

What is one to think other than the debate isn’t over?

The subject of climate change raises three legitimate questions:

  1. Is the earth in fact warming?
  2. Is it caused by man?
  3. Can we do anything about it?

These questions are debatable, and the debate rages.

There is another question that isn’t discussed enough:  is this problem the best place to spend limited resources?  In other words, are there other problems, big problems, that are more fixable than global warming?

Let me introduce you to The Copenhagen Consensus (www.CopenhagenConsensus.com).  They assembled eight top international economists (including three Nobel laureates) to crunch numbers on the world’s biggest challenges.  Specifically, they assigned a cost/benefit ratio to a wide-ranging list of problems.  Since resources are limited and all of our problems can’t be fixed, countries are forced to prioritize.  These economists give us a fresh, analytical way to approach the challenges we face.

The video clip below gives you a quick introduction to the Copenhagen Consensus:

The results were surprising.

The Copenhagen Consensus believes that mankind is in fact changing the planet’s climate. However, they believe its impact is manageable.  They believe there are some upsides (fewer deaths due to cold temperatures and longer growing seasons) to offset some of the downsides.  But their numbers reveal that the cost/benefit ratio of reducing carbon emissions worldwide is cost-ineffective.  An investment of $800 billion over the next century would reduce temperature increases by just 0.4 degrees.

Is that worth it?  Every dollar spent in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions will generate but 90 cents in offsetting benefits.

On the other hand, the Consensus tells us that each dollar invested in clean energy research and development will generate $11 in results, especially technologies that allow us to store more energy from intermittent energy sources like wind and solar.

They looked at another problem:  disease in third world countries.  Affordable drugs can reduce the consequence of heart disease and diabetes. Malaria is a growing problem in these countries, too, because it’s getting harder to treat.  These problems are fixable with money.  The Copenhagen Consensus says $500 million could save a half a million lives a year, most of them children.  Every $1 spent fighting disease in these countries generates $20 in benefits.

Malnutrition is a big problem in parts of Asia and Africa.  Every dollar spent in research to make technological improvements generates $16 in economic benefits.

In all, the panel identified and ranked 30 international challenges based on prioritization, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency.  Carbon reduction finished dead last.  Issues such as expanded immunizations for children, improvements in third world rural water supplies, and microfinancing programs are a few that give a much bigger bang for the buck than cap and trade policies.

Global warming generates the most media coverage.  It’s a movement with big money and celebrities behind it.  It’s the issue of the moment.

Let’s be sure our political decisions are backed up with honesty and sound thinking.