(Last) Weekly Roundup: November Surprise And The Day The Masks All Slipped Edition

Praise be to Pfizer, the vaccine is here. It’s 90% effective! Given that COVID-19 only appears to affect about one percent of people anyway, one wonders if perhaps this vaccine actually increases your chance of getting it. Don’t assume the math doesn’t actually work that way. This country has entered a hall of mirrors now, or perhaps it’s that horrifying sense of paranoid disconnection from reality associated with a Maureen Dowd level of marijuana edible consumption. You can’t trust anything you read. Trump said there was a vaccine coming; the media rushed to “debunk” this irresponsible claim. But there was a vaccine coming. It just wasn’t going to be ready until we had a President who doesn’t ask awkward questions about our absolute dependence on India and China for low-quality, high-profit pharmaceuticals.

If, indeed, we have that President. Your mileage might still vary. But you would’t know it from reading social media, because the past twelve days or so have witnessed an unprecedented and terrifying display of power on the part of Silicon Valley — one that should upset the Molotov-throwing Antifa soldiers as much as it worries the “Farmers For Trump”.

In every great quasi-criminal business enterprise, there’s a moment where the mask slips and the actual evil of said enterprise is revealed for all to see. Consider the infamous cost-of-lawsuit calculation where Ford knowingly allowed the Pinto to be built with a defect that could cost 180 additional deaths, because the cost of settling those lawsuits would be less than the cost of fixing the problem, which was estimated at $11 per car. A lot of people walked away from Ford as a result. I’m less certain about that because automobile manufacturing is a slippery slope when it comes to cost of human life. You can always make the car safer, but doing so allows your competition to undercut you, thus reducing the number of safer cars distributed to the public. That being said, the threshold for these decisions should probably be more than the $75/car that would be the modern equivalent of a Pinto problem.

Naturally, Ford was playing in the minor leagues compared to what modern corporations can accomplish. The vast majority of them have a business model built on sweatshop labor from start to finish; your smartphone is dependent on child labor, as is your electric car or your enviro-smug hybrid. In much the same way that the “glitches” in the recent voting process never handed Mr. Trump 144,000 or even 144 unattributed votes, the “inevitable” changes in society always seem to favor the megacorps. The ridiculous state-level overreactions to COVID-19 put the heads of small businessmen in the guillotine, then the corporate-approved riots dropped the blade on their necks. Everything you buy comes from Amazon now; the firm’s wealth and value have soared as it earns billions of dollars in extra profits. Playing along, the government shutters the parks, closes the gyms, encourages you to stay home passively absorbing the pedophile productions of Hollywood and Netflix. President-Elect Biden plans a 100,000 strong COVID Job Corps. These new jobs will fix the economy. If you can see yourself as a Job Corps swabber, you’ll want to hustle for an interview, because Mr. Biden also says he will also lift the “refugee cap” from Trump’s 15,000 per year to 125,000 per year. There will be unlimited “student visas”. If you work in tech, you know how the student visas are used.

The megacorps have no limit to their appetites. Their competition has been crushed, their audience is literally captive, but they can’t deliver an increased profit report in the next fiscal year without serious cuts to those pesky labor costs. President-Elect Biden hears them. They are too big to fail. We’ve become Saudi Arabia, only instead of selling oil to prop up a failed state we are just going to print more money. As is always the case, this flood of cash will increase the value of capital and destroy the value of savings, putting a nice layer of tile on the ceiling separating the middle and upper classes.

Amazon’s perfidy should be no surprise; the company has always played hardball, most notably with state sales taxes. As long as it was a competitive advantage for Amazon to dodge sales taxes, that’s how it was; once the competition had all moved online, Amazon used the introduction of internet sales taxes to impose a crippling regulatory and infrastructure on the competition, all of which had to absorb the same compliance cost with far less sales volume to spread it around. Yet there is something understandable about the firm’s greed. It simply wants to maintain tech-stock levels of growth from now until the heat death of the universe. This is insane, but it is the natural consequence of capitalism.

Less understandable, and less human: the sudden, universal, and airtight decisions by social media powerhouses to subvert the democratic process. For months prior to the election, Twitter and Facebook/Instagram hectored its audience to vote by mail. Hell, Spotify was doing it. “Learn how voting by mail is safe and secure”, they said, knowing it was neither. How could it be? We’ve all seen what it looks like when these mail-in votes are counted — or maybe you haven’t, because videos of the vote-counting process are stricken from the Internet with the kind of lightning alacrity we were always told couldn’t be applied to child porn or the Taliban’s beheading videos. During the election and in its immediate aftermath, Twitter censored Mr. Trump and his allies, performed mass exorcisms of wrongthink from their membership, and plastered their screens with Orwellian reassurances that all was in fact well with the election. Who are you going to believe? A blue-text statement about voting, or your own lying eyes?

(It’s worth noting that all may in fact be well with the election, but at this point the appearances of impropriety have become legion and therefore deserve serious consideration on the part of everyone involved. Surely Mr. Biden and his supporters would rather see a fully audited process; they cannot claim their “mandate” without it.)

There was no escape from the tech companies, which spoke with a single voice. A data scientist raised $244,000 in a day via GoFundMe to perform a review of voter registrations, only to have GoFundMe freeze the funds and seize the campaign. This decision was widely cheered, but why? If there is no fraud, as we have all been repeatedly reassured, then who cares how a bunch of idiots spend their money? The mere suggestion of impropriety in the voting process became grounds for the banhammer. Four years ago, we were told that Russia had easily compromised a single day of in-person voting. The methods of this compromise were always glossed over; when push came to shove, it turned out to be $50,000 worth of Facebook ads, which deranged the multi-billion-dollar Clinton machine like a stalled moped laid across the superconducting rail of a bullet train. Today, we are told that voter fraud is impossible, that the pictures of poll workers opening Chinese parcel-company envelopes filled with ballots are no cause for concern. LEARN HOW VOTING BY MAIL IS SAFE AND SECURE, AMAZON PRIMECITIZEN!

This behavior is more closely allied to Amazon’s sales-tax shenanigans than one might suspect. For years, the social-media companies and tech giants have used “common carrier” immunity to shield them from product liability claims or criminal charges. These immunities, put in place decades ago to ensure that you couldn’t sue AT&T because someone used a pay phone to put a hit out on your Mafia-connected sibling, were folded, spindled and mutilated beyond recognition to suit Facebook and Twitter. These firms claimed that they did not monitor content and that they were therefore not liable for all the horrifying things done using their platform. (If nothing else, there’s the fact that Facebook is mentioned in one of three divorce cases.)

This pretense of common carrier immunity continued unabated right up until the moment that it was no longer necessary to ensure the survival of those companies. On that day, which can be fixed somewhere around the third of November, 2020, they went all-in on political activism, secure in the belief that they could deliver an election to a friendly administration. Even an idiot can see that Twitter and Facebook have chosen sides. It’s now time to hold them responsible for their content. A tech company big enough to censor President Trump is big enough to keep kiddie porn off its pages. Making this explicit would also make room for the creation of genuinely common-carrier social media. Don’t look for that to happen. Every “disruptive” Silicon Valley company ends up using its bankroll to legally prevent any possible future “disruptors” from “disrupting” their revenue streams. The same thing will happen with social media.

“Guess what, Jack,” you may be saying. “I don’t give a shit about what Twitter does, or what Amazon does. I’m perfectly adapted to the modern paradigm; I bring my whole self to work because everything about me from my edgy sexuality to my satisfied atheism is totally compatible with the system as it exists at this moment. I believe all the things you read on those little black modern-pledge-of-allegiance signs in front of all the expensive downtown housing. As far as I’m concerned, anybody who doesn’t share my beliefs is a Nazi, and there’s nothing more American than punching Nazis.” Well, this is a very felicitous state of affairs in which to find one’s self nowadays — but ask yourself if it will last? Can you guarantee that your beliefs, your behaviors, your skin color will always be acceptable to The Powers That Be? Think about it for a moment. There’s a line somewhere in your head that you won’t cross. Maybe it’s giving up your hard-earned private property to people who are less “privileged”. Maybe it’s allowing your children to be “educated” in something that sickens your heart. Maybe it’s watching your parents or siblings be euthanized because their healthcare is too expensive for a public system to bear. When the Overton window moves to shine some light on that line in your head — and it probably will, given enough time — how certain will you be about the inherent righteousness of The Current Year?

The 4chan crowd likes to say that 2020 has “redpilled the normies”. This is in the Matrix-referencing sense that we are now being shown the lines of power and control behind the scenes, not in the “don’t forget to say something belittling about a woman’s outfit on the first date” sense of “redpill”. No matter who you are or where you stand on today’s issues, chances are you now know who among the powerful is with you and who is against you. This knowledge is power. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

* * *

For Hagerty, I wrote about an old Volkswagen and a deadly crime of quite another sort.

100 Replies to “(Last) Weekly Roundup: November Surprise And The Day The Masks All Slipped Edition”

  1. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    Civilization as we knew it is gone. Vanished. Poof, gone in the night.Two chances it will return, slim and none. And I’m pretty sure slim just caught the bus out of town. What was a few years ago deemed reprehensible is now accepted, nay, encouraged behavior. “The ends justify the means” is now the way of the world.

    Well, two can play that game. I can be your best friend or your worst enemy. The choice is yours. But you need to chose wisely, because you’re stuck with the choice you make. I don’t have a reset button. Consider this your only warning.

  2. AvatarKevin Jaeger

    People are always whining about the imminent arrival of fascism in America and I generally sneer at the idea.

    While this existing state of affairs isn’t exactly fascism, the forging of the security state, big media, big tech, big government, academia, all entertainment and the Democrats into a disciplined alliance is certainly something quite terrifying. I’m not sure how this actually unfolds from here but every conservative in America now has no question about who the enemy is and how determined they are.

    Maybe this alliance won’t hold once Trump is gone but I have my doubts. This coalition isn’t about Trump. It’s about POWER.

    • AvatarDepressed Clutch

      Let’s not omit the most powerful member of the coalition: the Chinese Communist Party (Islam is in on it as well, but seems to have suddenly dropped off the radar).

      While articles like this are extremely insightful, I tend to feel very hopeless after reading them. The only redeeming feature of this level of pessimism is that it tends to balance the disappointment that I feel about never being a father.

      • AvatarI COME IN PEACE

        I kind of have the opposite reaction – or maybe a sort of vulcanization or glimmer of hope – that more and more people, who have any sense of reason – are taking notice of the current election-dumpster-fire and discussing it with others on a larger scale. The collective pit being felt in everyone’s stomach is the kind of wake-up call that everyone could benefit from, no matter how bitter it tasted going down in the first place. In the past it felt that you could barely get anyone interested in the political/corporate direction of America. Today political discourse seems to be more common, though a great deal of it are from people that are being gas-lighted on a scale we’ve never seen. Being a victim of abusive gas-lighting a number of years back, my Spidey Senses are tingling a lot these days.

        Whether or not all this hoo-hah this is enough for people to say either ‘take this job and shove it’ or ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore’, then start ‘taking action’ is another question – I certainly hope we never, ever have to be put in that situation or see that play out in this country. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that there are those of us hanging around that also detect and see through the horseshit, feel and think much of what Jack wrote about above. But perhaps we can’t really put it into words so well.

  3. AvatarNoID

    I wish, just for a moment, someone would take the Galactus-sized spray bottle of Poo-Pourri away from the gatekeepers of global media so that the world would understand, for just a moment, that Biden and all the other polished, blessed, right-thinking politicians and other public figures of the world are full of just as much bullcrap as Trump. They just talk gooder and have several multi-billion-dollar conglomerates running interference for them 8 days a week.

    • Avatarscotten

      I didn’t like any of the candidates, but I could not vote for the one who said repeatedly that the US “was rounding the corner” in dealing with Covid-19 while hospitalizations are hitting the roof all over.

      • Avatarsilentsod

        I wonder if there was an event in the past two decades that led to the consolidation of hospitals in America and the shutting down of a number of locations that would be considered wasteful during normal operation and important during a pandemic.

        Well, best not to let that bother me!

        I also don’t let the pandemic with a 99.95%+ survival rate bother me and I simply take care around at risk groups.

  4. AvatarJohn C.

    On the Quantum, it is interesting how many poor choices by automakers an enthusiast is willing to tolerate to prove he is different. I have myself displayed this when I bought a 2011 Saab 9-5 about two weeks before the factory controlled by the Russian mob closed. I had been in traffic been next to a nice Alfa 164 and figured the classy looking guy driving it had enjoyed 20 +/- years of distinction.

    On the Quantum, even our Chinese friends understood to put in a 2.2 liter, because the German engine choices were pathetic. It is my my understanding the pre 83 GTI VW of America was trying to Americanize to reach a wider audience, yet here VW stuck them with the 1.7, the only gas four they were certifying. Did they even offer that four with the auto, I know Audi made you buy the five?

  5. Avatar-Nate

    I’ve owned three different A1 platform VW’s and loved them all .

    Not apeedy but so much fun to drive and very well screwed together to boot .

    Cheap and cheerful .

    I’ve not yet had quite that amount of fun with a sold vehicle but I’ve had a few bumps in my road, this taught me to not only carry the sale and new owner info including his driver’s license # (else you don’t buy any vehicles from me) but I also carry in a copy and have them date and time stamp it for my records .

    This came to be *very* helpful one particular time .


  6. AvatarMopar4wd

    I guess I’ll bite

    The vaccine won’t make it in time for the inauguration. It was never going to make it before the election Trump was pretty alone in that prediction. The media in general has been portraying it that way for months. Vaccines take along time to prove out. Is there some manipulation of that? Probably.

    COVID lockdowns were problematic and I agree big companies got their way much more the small ones with a few exceptions, but that’s pretty much the way that all works in this country anyway this was more an acceleration then a course change.

    On the common carrier thing. First the big social media companies had been moderating more and more over the past 2 years it wasn’t a new thing in the last month. I agree some of the reason for the moderating is actually they expect to be regulated and welcome it to some extent as it would be near impossible for smaller newcomers to pay the costs to moderate at scale. Which leads to a question, what would you like to see? If they become publishers I expect free speech will be much less all around. If you tell them to not moderate anything those with the most (or will and know-how) money to manipulate the system will win the info war. And you also get back to raising the entry bar. The current system is imperfect but it seems better then some of the other options.
    Also big tech is not alone in this the media in general including a number of right leaning outlets have decided instead of fact checking it’s safer to just cut away from questionable info.

    While I agree with you the monoparty is not good voting Trump seemed to be a cutting of your nose to spite your face solution. Hopefully his method of breaking party control by using the existing parties apparatus but his own platform will help breakdown the two party system with better candidates.

    On fixing some of our problems in this country stagnant wages and income inequality are my big worries. My biggest is healthcare, which is what pulled me away from the GOP in the first place. Socialized medicine would be one of the few clear choices that would help income inequality. If your house hold income is under 150-170k a year you will most likely be healthier and richer under single payer and beyond that….well your income is getting redistributed in the best possible way.

    • Avatartrollson

      Incredible that you can just pull a number out of your ass and say “above this number, your income should be redistributed”.

      • AvatarMopar4wd

        Not really pulled out of my butt. Basically took assumptions from Canadian tax rates and various Medicare for all plans and did some back of envelope calcs. at 150K your in the top 18-19% of income earners in the country. That means for about 80% of the population it would be a better deal. I’m not saying just tax the rich, everyone would get taxed more but it would be offset more for the 80% who spend much larger chunks of income on healthcare. That income number gets high every year by the way as medical has outstripped inflation almost every year for the last 30 years. It has accelerated alot since around 2004.

    • AvatarNewbie Jeff

      “Socialized medicine would be one of the few clear choices that would help income inequality. If your house hold income is under 150-170k a year you will most likely be healthier and richer under single payer and beyond that….well your income is getting redistributed in the best possible way”

      There’s a lot wrong here, so let’s sort this out…

      First of all, the primary problem with the US private healthcare system’s costs is the government’s interference with it. The proof is that every time the government introduces more interference, it gets worse (e.g. ACA). “Free” ER care (I actually think that was Reagan) has made the emergency room one of the most expensive visits to the hospital… what should be band-aids, stitches, and aspirin is prohibitively expensive because the few patients who pay are paying for a lot of patients who don’t pay. Medicare reimbursement rates are another cost driver… again, directly attributable to government involvement. A “public option” would just continue the path that has already put US health care in the state that it’s in…

      Next… we already have socialized health care, and it’s bankrupting the country. Medicare is the most expensive program in the federal budget… period. I realize most Americans don’t care anymore, but how are we going to afford “Medicare for All”? Raising taxes? If taxes are raised, then the middle class pays for it. If the program is paid with debt… then the middle class still pays for it. Any real world implementation would probably be a tax hike AND more deficits…

      What about illegal immigrants? The party of “Medicare for All” is also the party of making any human physically present within the country’s borders a citizen… if anyone thinks we’re already getting swamped by migrants to the detriment of Americans already living here, just wait until there’s “free” health care as soon as you can get across the border…

      What does socialized health care look like in America? A completely shit standard of health care “for all”, and an extremely expensive elite niche segment only for the very rich. My girlfriend is a British citizen originally from Poland. She uses NHS for colds and flu… for anything elective, she goes to Poland to use the private system there. Repeat: she bypasses two socialized health care systems (NHS and Poland’s “public option”) to use a private system that she pays for out-of-pocket.

      It is an absolute fantasy to think socialized health care will be high-quality, available to everyone in the country, with sustainable costs, and without disastrous effects on budgets. This does not exist anywhere on earth.

      • AvatarNick D

        Let’s not overlook the broken “non-profit” hospital systems that gobbled (past tense) almost all independent practitioners and small hospitals to hollow them out in rural areas to earn higher reimbursement rates from transfers to big city medical centers. Rural hospitals are nothing more than substandard urgent care clinics, and you wouldn’t want to go to one for anything other than a few sutures in an area where you won’t care about a scar.

        Only 34% of healthcare spending is private insurance (with another 10% coming from debt collectors bankrupting working people, garnishing stagnant wages, and ruining families credit scores), and is eclipsed by the 37% from the Federal government via Medicare and Medicaid. https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/downloads/highlights.pdf

        The US spends twice as much as any other developed country on healthcare. Imagine what an extra $2 trillion or so would do for the economy and if there weren’t situations like this: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2020/07/29/anthem-blue-cross-profits-soar-as-patients-postpone-care-in-pandemic/?sh=16b272c920a4

        Self-insured private employers spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with health insurance matters that diverts time from their business, and its only getting worse. Insurance premiums, ever-higher out-of-pocket deductibles, and out-of-pocket maxes ARE the most significant cause of stagnant wages. The number of 401k hardship withdrawals I see at work for medical bills – where people drain 6-figure 401ks accumulated over decades of hard work – make me ill, and only kick the can down the road.

        I don’t have an answer other than to know an NHS-type of system or Canadian style single payer are as bad as bitching about the state of affairs while doing nothing to try (key word) and change them, but no one says they don’t want healthcare like Australia or Germany or Japan – and yes I fully recognize those countries are visibly different than the US. Regardless, it does not follow that I should resign myself to communism and throw in the towel.

        Re: ER visits and EMTALA – there’s a policy choice that needs to be made. Sure, we’d dramatically cut costs by requiring proof of payment BEFORE services are provided, but if my kid’s school bus crashes, do I really want to provide insurance info while he’s bleeding in the street? I think we’re better than that, regardless of ability to pay or even immigration status.

        • AvatarMopar4wd

          My household income is above average (but no where near the top 20%. You would have to increase my tax rate (before any deductions) by 250% to match what it costs me in out of pocket and premium costs.

          Like Nick D says the costs our current system puts on the rest of our economy are extraordinary. For a long time not having gov healthcare was a an economic pro to doing business in the US, now given the huge cost increases it’s a detriment.

      • AvatarMopar4wd

        The thing is there is a ton of data in the world showing that free markets perform considerably worse on health outcome versus cost then the more controlled ones. Even most of the right leaning policy wonks seem to agree more control is needed, the only exceptions are libertarians who seem to be able to offer no evidence to support their stance.
        Now typically most people would invoke Singapore or the Swiss, but I’m thinking those people haven’t studied it that closely.
        The Swiss system does forces everyone to have insurance, it also sets the rates for insurance for basic plans and does not allow insurance or healthcare companies to make a profit on basic services (they can make it on upgrades like private hospital rooms etc). These plans are also not allowed to change rates based on age sex previous conditions etc (sound familiar). Now the Swiss do have deductibles and Co pays but they are capped at hugely lower numbers then the US. I think Deductibles are capped at around $1500 bucks and Copays $450 for the year. My plan has 3K deductible and Copays can go up to closer to 6K. The Swiss plan is also notably more expensive then countries in Europe with more government controlled systems.
        Top Tip Obamacare is based on many of the ideas of the Swiss system as layed out by Newt in the 90s.

        Which brings us to Singapore. In the Singapore system they force everyone to have a health savings account and the government controls minimum amounts required by individuals to contribute. It also forces healthcare companies to be upfront with their pricing so people can pick to use their health-savings accounts in wise ways. The government also provides income based backup systems if you drain your account and can’t pay (think a better functioning version of medicare/medicaid). Now here is the key part most major medical service pricing is set by the government and more items are constantly being added to the list instead of being open to the suppliers. The reason is that the system was not working as it intended as people started adapted into a modern society and actually using the system. In fact their costs have been rising almost twice as fast as inflation (notably worse then the US which has the next highest rate of healthcare cost increases) last I checked a few years ago.

        I used to live in a Canadian border town. I had lots of friends who were Canadian, they all thought our system was stupid. (I’m sure some didn’t but everyone I every met has). So one night bored by being in a town of 800 in the middle of winter I ran the calculations and at the time 20years ago I found if you made about 75K you were better off paying the taxes, and is has gotten far worse since then. That was the first point in my life I decided free markets are good but they can’t fix everything.

        Now I’m older and not so black and white so I’m willing to experiment with fixing what we have instead of going full gov health care. I think price transparency, more reasonable caps on deductibles and a few other things might wok but, my gut tells me full gov healthcare is likely the only long term solution.

        • AvatarNewbie Jeff

          “The thing is there is a ton of data in the world showing that free markets perform considerably worse on health outcome versus cost then the more controlled ones”

          Is there? If there’s anything everyone should have learned by now, it’s that “data” is cherry-picked, compartmentalized, and manipulated. Let’s consider some real-world outcomes: the US private healthcare system was not overrun by coronavirus, even in NYC where the state/local response failed spectacularly (and yes, federal government resources were utilized to flex capacity). Italy’s socialized system was overrun. Other socialized systems – such as France and Israel – are at risk of being overrun. I’ll also note that the US sits on the largest stockpile of emergency medical equipment. I’d say this alone shoots a hole in the “cost vs outcome” argument…

          You didn’t really address my points about cost or the inconvenient fact that we would implement “full gov healthcare” with almost zero control over immigration. I would be more willing to entertain higher taxes to pay for a government system if I had the reasonable assurance that resources wouldn’t be “compassionately” donated to the rest of the world. Scandinavian healthcare systems may be better examples of socialized healthcare, but do you know what else they do? They protect it. They tightly constrict immigration and deport freeloaders… does anyone here actually think today’s Democratic party would shut down immigration and deport illegals so American taxpayers are the sole recipients of the system they pay for?

          NHS, probably the closest example of what our “Medicare for All” would look like, runs out money next year. Also, in line with my point about immigration, the promise of funding diverted into NHS was a primary driver of the Brexit referendum.

          The politics of US health care trajectory is standard ideological creep… every election cycle, Democrats sell the American people that just a little more socialized health care is the fix, and none of their voters seem to question why the last 20 election cycles of the same idea still hasn’t delivered the results they were promising then.

          • AvatarMopar4wd

            Immigration and Healthcare are separate issues. I’m not an open borders guy, I think some where between 15-18% of the US population being immigrants is about the limit (I think we are at 15% now).
            On the data cherry pick whatever you want it’s really hard to prove that free markets perform better, (on healthcare) most right leaning studies can’t manage to cherry pick enough to prove their own points. This has resulted in conservative policy wonks like Avik Roy even limiting free markets in their newest plans.
            On COVID it varied by country some were overrun like Italy others with similar health systems were fine.
            As for results over the last 20 years the current reforms were largely the reforms proposed by the GOP in the 90’s, really they are just an easy target for lawmakers to point too. Real reform is hobbled by healthcare lobby which is why we have what we have. With Health care controlling 20% of GDP they are too powerful to make any reforms that actually reduce costs. Also History lesson, one of the first political figures to suggest socialized medicine was Republican Teddy Roosevelt, so not a new idea at all.

          • AvatarNewbie Jeff

            “Immigration and Healthcare are separate issues”

            Not when when “full gov healthcare” replaces the current system… we don’t even require proof of citizenship to vote, most cities and some entire states actively undermine federal efforts to enforce immigration law. Do you really think there will be any measures to preserve the integrity of Medicare for All? It’s just common sense that the program would have to be somewhat fiscally sustainable… if illegal immigrants have been flooding the US for decades looking for work, you don’t think they’ll flood the US looking for free healthcare? Do you think the same cities that issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants are going to turn those people away so Americans are prioritized for the government healthcare they pay for?

            “On COVID it varied by country some were overrun like Italy others with similar health systems were fine”

            Right. Like ours. This is a tangible outcome for the US system, as imperfect as it is.

            “Real reform is hobbled by healthcare lobby which is why we have what we have”

            What is it you think they’re lobbying for? They openly lobby for the next government subsidy scheme dreamed up by Democrats, knowing they’re going to be first in line to benefit… which is why most happily supported the ACA. They’ll do anything to avoid real free-market competition where cost pressure is exerted downward while having to compete for customers based on quality and value.

            Teddy Roosevelt also probably operated under the long-since discarded assumptions of fiscal sustainability and realistic policy implementation. Again… NHS runs out of money next year. What then? Ration services? Cut other parts of the government? Raise taxes? The US is already going bankrupt on the “halfway socialized” programs currently in place….so what, just keep printing money?

          • AvatarMopar4wd

            Our current system which leaves unpaid bills at the ER would seem just as bad at driving up costs as having the government just pay every bill. It would eliminate the billing and paperwork costs at least. If an undocumented immigrant uses an ER service now and doesn’t pay, the hospital has to eat the cost or apply for grants to defray the costs. If the gov just paid every bill those costs would be less and overhead reduced.

            Notably France, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, and Japan all had lower fatality rates of COVID then the US, and all of them I would regard as having more government intervention then our system.

            The healthcare lobby killed the Gov option in Obamacare, and you are right, there is a reason for it, it would have shrunk their influence. The lobby seems to regard Republicans as mostly harmless to their profits, but has spent alot of money with the Dems to make sure reforms go their way, my guess is they see them as a bigger risk. They don’t really seem worried by free market concepts.

            Right now it doesn’t seem like either party really cares about how anything is paid for. In general I see that as bad. I mean 3 years ago the party of budgets passed thru a huge revenue cut with nothing to balance it. Which like the old saying goes only the party not in power cares about the deficit.

    • Avatarhank chinaski

      Setting any arbitrary income level as ‘wealthy’ as to direct a punitive tax is a fool’s errand in the age of MMT, money printer go ‘brrrrrr. The trajectory of housing costs or tuition relative to salaries and inflation over the last 3 decades is another tell.

      The ACA accomplished one thing very well: cementing monopolies on the insurance *and* hospital system side through mergers and acquisitions, same as the Financial Services Modernization Act did for banks in the aughts. Profits and control for both sides of the coin have never been higher, and this in a market where as many as 25% of customers in a given market can’t pay. If a public option ever sees the light of day, expect Medicaid levels of access and quality, with the rent-seeking middlemen still dug in like ticks.

      Regarding post-election mania, all mainstream media has has gone full Pravda. NPR in particular has full-on ‘there is no evidence of fraud’ and ‘President Elect Biden’ Tourette’s. It’s worked into every piece short of sports and weather. Well,not really, because Covid and climate change.

      Watching Congress shamelessly, repeatedly fellate the tech CEOs is nauseating. Jack mentions Nazis, and these clowns deserve a Nuremburg of their own.

      • AvatarMopar4wd

        On a personal level I think any healthcare tax for full socialized medicine should be a flat rate income tax not only a tax on the rich. (see my notes above) Basically the rich will pay more just because of the percentage not a target. And yes I realize many of the left would disagree with that.

        On the election I want it to be fair if there are problems they should be investigated. From what I can tell, there is little evidence that they were not fair, most of the suits brought by the Trump admin have been dismissed for lacking evidence and the few PACER docs I have read (when articles actually link to them) seem to support that there is little evidence by the suits own admissions.
        But again recount, study do whatever you want I think have a fixed election is much more dangerous then Trump winning.

  7. AvatarDaniel J

    1. According to Jack Dorsey (Twitter CEO), they don’t influence elections. If anyone can believe that. Even Ted Cruz laughed at how ridiculous Jack Dorsey’s answer was. For the last 4 years we have all been told how Trump’s Russia spies influenced the last election on Facebook, but of course, Jack Dorsey and his Twitter minions who censor anything they don’t like, aren’t influencing elections.

    2. After I’ve said all that, I still take a libertarian stance. They can run their business the way they want to run it. I understand their is nuance to the laws in regards to common carrier and platforms vs publishers. Fundamentally, I disagree with Ted Cruz and many on the right (Ben Shapiro surprisingly, as he used to be more libertarian). People could still go to the NY Post and see the story. Twitter is only censoring on its own site. If people are too lazy to go to the source of the material then that’s on the people. Because of Big Tech’s censoring, we have new platforms coming out. This is how business should work. The only government intervention I’d like to see is to deregulate companies who want to enter this game and to get rid of the lobbys for Big Tech. I don’t see anyone complaining about Reddit. I saw no one complaining back in the day when Usenet mods were censoring political content. Heck, when I hit up a BBS it was up to the host ot moderate. It was their equipment and their servers, and everyone understood that. So now that 40 million or 1 billion users, it all of a sudden matters? As Jack here keeps telling folks not to buy from China, I’ve been saying for years don’t use social media.

    3. Amazon has been charging AL sales tax for over 5 years now. In many cases for us they aren’t the cheapest game in town either. Yes, they won the Virus lottery early on but at least here we’ve been mostly open since mid May and most small businesses are back. Blame the Governors for keeping the states locked down.

    4. I just listened to Matt Taibbi’s interview with Megyn Kelly discussing how the Left comes after journalist even just asking the questions that doesn’t fit the narrative of the Left. How dare Lee Fang ask why there isn’t outrage over blacks shooting blacks. The Right, and most importantly, the classical liberals, have lost the culture war a long time ago. There is no going back. The only thing I see that is positive is that the center left is moving more center or the right is just deciding to be more tolerant of those who might be pro 1A and pro 2A but socially liberal in other areas.

    • AvatarMopar4wd

      Point one I mostly agree twitter and facebook can help change election leanings just as Newspapers and TV have done before.

      I used to kind of be a liberal libertarian. I generally agree with your second point, it’s pretty much exactly how I see it.

      Also agree on point three.

      Point four may be where I differ. There is plenty of built in bias in the media going both ways. Part of that is conservatives attacking the media for the past decade has resulted in far fewer conservatives wanting to be journalists (kind of self fulfilling prophecy). But in general thy have kind of leaned center left for half a century from what I can tell. My bigger issue is the idea that the conservative media doesn’t do the same thing. In fact earlier this week Matthew Sheffield a conservative journalist who writes for the Washington Examiner, The Hill and other right leaning media and also founded the media research center which was pretty much designed as a site critical of liberal media, wrote a long Twitter thread on how he has actually the right leaning media has much bigger issues excepting anything that doesn’t fit there narrative then left leaning media (he also contributes to Washington Post) He basically points out that the left media has a inherent Bias but does actually make an effort to report fairly where as the majority of right media doesn’t are as long as it supports their agenda. I don’t know how to link to a twitter thread or I would forward it along.

  8. Avatar98horn

    We lost our freedom quite a while ago. When Snowden revealed that the NSA was recording every phone call, email, and electric transaction, warrantless, of course, of every American citizen, the collective reaction was a giant shrug. And that was it. The power elite now knows that it can do anything to us, and we’ll just take it. They’ve been cooking us slowly up until now, but we can expect the pot to reach a full boil in the next 4 years. The great arc of the American Experiment ends in a boot stamping on our faces, forever, while Siri and Alexa silently records our screams for posterity.

    • AvatarMopar4wd

      It’s amazing but not shocking, People get upset when liberties are taken away however if you take them away in the name of convenience or safey, the public seems to be much less upset.
      I fought it for a long time but I eventually gave in and use way to much tech collecting way to much data.

  9. AvatarMozzie

    Jack, do you have material for us to read as it concerns Amazon and sales tax? I haven’t been following them very closely. Although Amazon has made agreements with some jurisdictions to collect and remit sales tax, most of the complexity we are subject to today comes from the South Dakota vs. Wayfair, Inc., et al. supreme court decision changing businesses’ nexus from the physical to the economic test. As a result states started adopting the decision and changing their collection requirements with varying threshholds.

    Things get really fun once you look at home rule jurisdiction states and how the complexity increases.

    SCOTUS decision: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-494_j4el.pdf

  10. Avatarcoreytrevor

    Trump said some correct things about the plight of the working class and tried to fight some corporate interests, but unfortunately he was too unfocused and lacked the detail oriented personality and ideological steadfastness needed to effect any of these aims. The narcissistic side of him also did I think care too much about being respected as a business man by real business leaders to credibly stand up to them. He also foolishly underestimated the power of the media and pointlessly flouted norms that they cared about to impress a small portion of his base.

  11. AvatarVTNoah

    I’m honestly interested to see these concrete examples of election fraud everyone is referencing. I haven’t been digging around that much because I find it difficult to believe the Dems could pull of something on that grand a scale. Jack, the example you provided noted that it’s not uncommon for foreign US citizens to use EMS to mail stuff back to the US and there was a source saying they used the service to mail their ballot.

    If there was widespread fraud, why didn’t the democrats go “whole hog” and snag some additional congressional seats to go with it? They lost a few house seats last time I checked and they will likely continue to be the minority in the senate due to the upcoming runoffs in GA. They are also the minority on the Supreme Court. If indeed they were seizing the reigns of power by electing Biden. The reigns are connected to a geriatric hamster who’s decided to take a nap for the day.

    • Avatarstingray65

      The Dems mostly lost seats in safe states (CA, NY) where they likely felt they had little need to cheat or rural areas where they were uncompetitive and/or where there is no big corrupt political machine to hide the fraud. When you need to make up thousands of votes in a hurry, you also don’t have time to fill out complete ballots, which is why there are so many Biden only votes in swing states. The fraud in the Presidential race is at so many levels ranging from dead people voting, to middle of night ballot dumps, to computer “glitches” that only go one direction, to counting mail-in votes illegally due to missing signatures, IDs, privacy envelopes, postmarks, etc. that mean they should be discarded, to blocking Republican observers from the ballot counting rooms (which makes all votes counted during their absence invalid). This multi-level cheating is why you hear excuses in the media and by Democrats saying well yes perhaps a few hundred dead people voted, but that isn’t enough to change the results, while the conveniently ignore all the other levels of cheating and illegal vote counting that together could easily be enough to shift the results.

      The other proof of fraud is statistical, as many districts have near 100% to 200% voter turnout, or swung from strong Republican to pro-Biden with no explanation (i.e. big growth in Democrat registrations since last election). On a macro-level the statistical probability that every statistical anomaly or suspicious event went in Biden’s direction ranging from Fox’s early Biden call for Arizona when 25% of the votes were outstanding, to all the events above is less than zero. Thus I have not seen or heard one example of big unexplained dumps of Trump votes in the middle of the night, or lots of dead voters in Trump dominant precincts, or Democrat observers being kicked out of Republican dominant precinct counting rooms, or Trump precincts with 200% voter turnout, or Republican run states/precincts ignoring election laws and counting ballots without the necessary signatures, envelopes, postmarks, etc., or computer “glitches” that shifted Biden votes to Trump, or stacks of Trump votes with no down-ballot votes. If errors and cheating were “random” you would expect to hear lots of stories where Trump benefited, but there have been none by a media that would love to report them, which is statistically impossible in a fair election.

  12. AvatarRick T

    Some things never change. Read up about the 1982 gubernatorial election in Chicago where (Republican) Thompson was up by 15% in the polls but won by a scant 5,000 votes out of millions. You’d have to be worse than naive to think anything is different today in Chicago or any other big city run by Democrats:

    “Locker was shocked at the sheer magnitude of the number of fraudulent votes and the fact that fraud occurred in every single Chicago precinct. More than 3,000 votes had been cast in the names of individuals who were dead, and more than 31,000 individuals had voted twice in different locations in the city. Thousands of individuals had supposedly voted despite being incarcerated at the time of the election, and utility records showed that some individuals who voted were registered as living on vacant lots.”


    • Avatarstingray65

      I keep hearing the media say “we have talked to the Sec. of State in many Republican and Democrats states and they all say they see no signs of significant voter fraud or systemic error in the vote totals”. Of course these election officials are all bureaucrats with nice salaries and pensions who are in charge of making sure elections are “free and fair”, and if they admitted to rampant fraud and corruption of the voting process they would be fired and/or sent to jail, so they are not exactly the best source for “investigating voter fraud”, which makes them the perfect “credible” source of the pro-Biden media to deny the need for any investigations into things that might lead their guy to lose. The fact that social media and the mainstream media (except Tucker Carlson) are blocking or discounting any messages or evidence of fraud is another tell that they don’t want the truth to come out.

  13. AvatarEP


    Is it really that hard to believe that lots of people don’t like Trump, don’t approve of his policies, and voted against him?

    Do we really need to invent conspiracy theories to explain everything in the world?

    • AvatarNick D

      You hit the nail on the head. I agree that the votes themselves are valid, particularly when GOP Secretaries of State in contested states (like GA) call that out and Trump’s own DHS can’t find any evidence of fraud. There are hundreds of illegal votes out of the millions cast – as there are in any national election, but not a result-changing amount. I just attended a continuing ed where the Federalist society speaker relayed that the biggest change from a recount was 2,600 votes, and opined the lawyers representing Trump in groundless claims may expose themselves to sanction.

      I work with a lot of blue collar manufacturing types, and more than a few weren’t going to vote Trump again due to his style – one in particular was turned off when Mick Mulvaney – at a taxpayer funded podium on government time – announced Trump Doral would host the G7 Summit. Matthis’ departure also resonated.

      He would have benefitted greatly from doing a bit of homework on the role. A predecessor left a concise summary of the key points that I keep on my desk.


      • Avatarstingray65

        Yea – sanctioning lawyers who work on the Trump fraud cases must be one of those “unifying” messages from the Democrats that will ease the division and hate of the Trump years. Maybe they and any other wrongthinkers can also be sent to the “Truth and Reconciliation” camps that Robert Reich and AOC are recommending for anyone who worked for Trump or supported Trump as a way of healing the national wounds.

        • AvatarNick D

          Lawyers don’t get sanctioned for their client’s position – otherwise every criminal defense lawyer arguing “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit” would lose their license. They get sanctioned for intentionally lying or misleading the court when they have personal knowledge to the contrary. These disputes can and should be fully litigated in public, and I personally find it appalling that the hoards are coming for Trump’s law firms by seeking to pressure other clients to dump them. Everyone deserves a day in court, but making demonstrably false statements isn’t the way to do it.

          Story excerpt below.

          At the city’s federal courthouse on Thursday evening, attorneys for Trump asked a judge to issue an emergency order to stop the count, alleging that all Republican observers had been barred.
          Under sharp questioning from Judge Paul S. Diamond, however, they conceded that Trump in fact had “a nonzero number of people in the room,” leaving Diamond audibly exasperated.
          “I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?” asked Diamond, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush. Denying Trump’s request, Diamond struck a deal for 60 observers from each party to be allowed inside.
          At one point on Friday afternoon, 12 Republican observers and five Democrats were watching the count, according to a ballot counter who was working.

    • Avatarstingray65

      EP – I agree, it is crazy to think that a guy who doesn’t know what office he is running for, can’t tell the difference between his wife and sister, campaigned every other day from 9 to 9.30 AM rain or shine, and attracted far more Trump supporters than the dozen or so of his own supporters who attended his few events, would need to cheat to win more electoral votes than Trump who attracted thousands of people all over the country who stood in the rain, cold, and under Covid threat for hours to see him speak?

      It is similarly crazy for those Trump conspiracy nuts to not believe that a guy who is strongly disliked by the large Sanders/AOC contingent of his party, had no career accomplishments except being re-elected to a small state and being chosen VP by Obama, and had strong evidence of massive corruption in his family released days before the election, could honestly win far more votes than saint Obama?

        • Avatarstingray65

          I’m sure that is correct – the 95% negative media coverage of Trump for 4 years, and media collusion to hide or discount Joe’s senility, corruption, and radical agenda no doubt played a major role in the Trump Derangement Syndrome and Trump fatigue votes.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      There’s nothing “conspiracy theory” about vote fraud. It’s the default behavior in elections around the world and it requires no grand conspiracy to explain it. It would be *more* unlikely if, after four years of ceaseless propaganda comparing Trump’s left-of-Bill-Clinton, Israel-first, Platinum-Plan-prison-reform administration to Hitler day and night, a large number of relatively low-function people working the polls tirelessly ensured that Hitler got a fair shake despite his raw evil.

      That being said, if you don’t want people to call fraud on your behavior, one good way would be to AVOID using COVID-19 to have GOP poll watchers escorted out by the cops while you lead your workers in a round of cheering, at which point you cover the windows of the room where the votes are being counted. That’s one small step you can take to keep the conspiracy theorists quiet: don’t create the appearance of a blatant conspiracy.

      • AvatarMopar4wd

        If I understand it correctly. A few people broke the rules and were taken out of the polling place. There was GOP poll watchers in the room at all times, and several Democrats not following the rules were also kicked out at the same time. The GOP watchers kicked out started hitting the windows and chanting so the polling place heads taped the windows to prevent distractions. As I recall in the court filling they eventually admitted there had been 12 GOP watchers in the room the whole time but got the judge to agree to 65.

        • AvatarNewbie Jeff

          “The GOP watchers kicked out started hitting the windows and chanting…”

          Sounds like a peaceful protest. I’m sure the media will expend all effort and consideration to ensure their “voices are heard”.

        • Avatar-Nate

          There you go again, use the truth and facts instead of wild conspiracy theories and making up B.S. as you go along .

          The simple facts are : lying cheating and so on are fine, _if_ they benifit the gop ~ if any democratic president ever was remotely as corrupt and openly so as trump, they’d all be singing a very different tune .

          Meanwhilst those of us who actually beleive in conservatism as getting screwed along with the rest of America.


      • AvatarVTNoah

        Jack – can you point to the story that specifically mentions it? I seem to have read that Trumps lawyers brought that up in court and then admitted that in fact the GOP poll watchers were in the room doing their job.

        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          I’ve been looking for it — as you might imagine, all attempts to find it on Google now promptly take you to the officially approved version that says it was done to protect voter information (from being viewed through windows 30-50 feet from the desks, at an angle).

      • AvatarNewbie Jeff

        “There’s nothing “conspiracy theory” about vote fraud”

        I find it fascinating that people who lived for years consumed by the media-driven conspiracy that Trump was a Russian agent are now the ones telling us that there’s no way fraud is at play in battleground states with razor-thin margins of victory.

        If Democrats are so confident that Biden was legitimately elected, then what’s the harm in a little bit of Mueller 2.0? Certainly it’s not that investigations themselves are partisan strategies designed to plant seeds of doubt in the public consciousness and have an excuse to dig up dirt on political rivals. No, none of that. So let’s have an investigation.

    • Avataryossarian

      “Is it really that hard to believe that lots of people don’t like Trump, don’t approve of his policies, and voted against him?”

      no, it’s not hard to believe, nor is it hard to believe that the people who don’t like trump rigged the election because they didn’t have a viable candidate.

  14. Avatarstingray65

    Since the Healthcare thread between Mopar and Newbie Jeff is already long I will respond here.

    The mostly private healthcare sector in the US is responsible for over 50% of global medical innovations. The new US developed Covid vaccine will apparently be sold at a lower price to socialized medicine Europe than in the US, and this is just the latest example of the free-ride that everyone else in the world gets from US medical innovation that is fueled in part by the higher prices Americans pay for healthcare. If profits are reduced on new drugs and treatments due to socializing the US medical system (more than it already is) it will mean fewer and slower advanced in life-saving medical treatments and drugs. Proponents of socialized medicine NEVER consider where medical innovation will come from is the US dumps its private sector medical sector.

    Private medicine can be very cost effective when people are price sensitive by paying out of their own pocket for everything except major emergency treatments, as demonstrated by the price trends for mostly elective and private pay cosmetic surgery and lasik surgery, which have actually declined (see: What economic lessons about health care costs can we learn from the competitive market for cosmetic procedures? American Enterprise Institute – AEI). Getting rid of insurance and government paperwork and requirements also leads to much lower costs that can be passed on to patients as demonstrated by a cash only clinic in Oklahoma (see: What Happens When Doctors Only Take Cash).

    To use an automotive analogy, the major problem with medical costs is that everyone expects to receive Rolls Royce treatment even when they have a well used Ford Pinto budget. The other major problem with medical costs is that most people with used Ford Pinto budgets tend to be the same people who are very accident prone and not very good with upkeep and maintenance (i.e. dangerous hobbies and lifestyles, drug abusers, junk food eaters, smokers, obese, non-exercisers, etc.). If some homeless druggie staggers into a Rolls Royce dealer and asks to test drive a new Phantom the manager will likely suggest he consider using a city bus and politely shove him out the door, but if the same homeless druggie staggers into an ER with a heart attack or liver cirrhosis he will expect all the medical care that the hospital can provide to keep him alive until he can find his next fix, and the medical system is designed to give it to him. This is why medical systems all over the world are in financial crisis. Socialized medicine basically taxes everyone at BMW X7 levels and then provides everyone with Mitsubishi Mirage level of care because the people who can actually afford a BMW tend to be good drivers and take care of their vehicles and their income and costs savings is used to fund the homeless druggies’ deferred maintenance and accidents, which is why you have to wait months for non-emergency treatment and years for the latest drugs to be approved in socialized systems.

    There are only two real alternatives to this bankrupting medical cost problems: 1) allow hospitals and doctors to deny expensive care to people who have self-inflicted health problems and no value to society that would allow them to ever pay it back (i.e. they get bandages and cheap pain killers and shoved out the door), and/or 2) privatize the medical system so that people pay most of their own medical expenses and require price transparency of medical treatment providers to allow price shopping, which is the only way the cost curve will ever bend down enough to make it cheap enough to provide more medical care for our druggie friend and other unfortunates. Option 2 could be achieved with medical savings accounts and cheap catastrophic insurance policies that would be effectively incentivized by fears of option 1. It might also be expected that the thought of option 1 treatment might encourage more people with bad health habits to adopt healthier lifestyles, which is really the most humane and effective form of help they can get.

    • AvatarMopar4wd

      I think one of the only good arguments against gov healthcare is research. and development. I think it’s a fair tradeoff to contain costs. Also it should be noted about 35% of new treatments are created by federally funded university grant programs so it’s not like it would just stop.
      I think the problem with free market healthcare is two fold.
      One a lot of the cost is driven by catastrophic medicine, heart attacks cancer etc. People are very unlikely to cost shop during these times and sometimes might not even have the chance.
      Two When people have to pay alot for service they often just avoid them. You know why Dental insurance and Health insurance pay for checkups at no cost? They are trying to avoid major issues that cost them more later. If people have to pay for routine stuff they often don’t do it. Which then brings them into the catastrophic category.
      This was proven out quite well when HSA’s first rolled out 15 years ago. There were two people who used them. Those that never got sick and those that got really sick. The people who got really sick knew they were going to burn thru the start and hit the catastrophic. They used the savings in premium to cover it. What that meant was those customers made the risk pool and costs almost a wash with conventional health plans. After a couple years it got even worse because alot of those “never use it” people were avoiding preventive medicine and their average health outcomes fell also increasing costs.
      Look the info is out there. Countries like Switzerland and Singapore use the competitive model and guess what the government had to come in and create price controls because it was still too expensive.

      • Avatarstingray65

        You will never know if it is a fair tradeoff, because all the socialized systems you like rely on free-riding today to get the results they achieve. How well would those systems work if you take away most of the innovations they have gotten for free from the US in recent decades? Price controls are just a mechanism for greater free-riding on the US, because when the Swiss or UK government say x-40% is the maximum we will pay for your innovation, the innovator will simply charge x+40% in the less price sensitive market to recover the lost profit.

        The problem with medical innovation is that it has been so effective at increasing the length and quality of life, but there has been zero incentive in government or insurance dominated health-care markets to work on medical innovations that cut costs because the “buyers” are not very price sensitive. Thus we have unhealthy people who are being kept alive at great expensive with modern medical innovation where all the innovation incentive is on finding even more ways to keep such people alive even longer at even greater expense. The only mechanism for allowing continued medical innovation and bending the cost curve down is to make more buyers of medical services price sensitive. In fact we do the opposite by forbidding insurance companies from charging people with bad health habits higher rates, and of course socialized medicine does the very opposite because unhealthy people tend to be the lowest income and hence don’t pay any taxes into the system to pay for their very expensive self-inflicted health care problems.

        Sure the heart attack victim won’t shop around, but most medical services are non-emergency or elective and if those people start to get price sensitive the medical system will react like any other industry and figure out how to become more price competitive as we have seen with cosmetic surgery and lasik. You seem to discount this because you claim it hasn’t worked in Singapore or Switzerland, but those are also heavily government controlled healthcare systems with a veneer of heavily regulated private sector involvement, and true market based medicine actually hasn’t been tried anywhere in the world except in those few sectors such as cosmetic surgery and lasik.

          • Avatarstingray65

            Of course we have tried it – prior to WWII almost all medical systems were entirely private. Communism/Fascism is what brought in socialized medicine in Western Europe under Nazism and postwar Labor/Socialist governments, and 3rd party payer came in the US under WWII wage controls when employers offered free health care as a way to attract workers when they weren’t allow to pay higher wages. It wasn’t very costly for governments or employers to provide this benefit initially because medical technology and labor was very cheap and primitive, and you basically went to the hospital to die, but without the constraints of price sensitivity and the constant desire for better care and health outcomes (especially when someone else is paying), health care costs have exploded and are usually the largest budget item for most governments.

          • Avatarstingray65

            It is a lot more than 19% of health care that can be cross-shopped. If you need a new knee or even many forms of cancer treatment you can shop around because it is not emergency level care where seconds or minutes are critical. Most estimates put emergency care at less than 10% of total health spending (see link). The reason catastrophic health insurance policies are cheap is because they are rarely used, and even many catastrophic medical problems are shoppable. With transparent pricing and comparison shopping tool apps, there would be no reason someone with a cancer diagnosis or broken arm or other non-emergency medical need couldn’t quickly check to see which medical care provider offered the best price.

            As for your link about US medical costs versus other countries. What they almost never address is the population profile of the various countries. The US costs are driven in part because of high levels of obesity and obesity related health problems which is in part because of the larger black and Hispanic populations that tend to be more obese than white or Asians. Thus if you compare costs with white Europe or Asian Japan you will save on obesity related costs versus the US. Similarly, the cost comparisons rarely compare health outcomes on a common demographic basis or adjusted for quality of service. Thus you have statistics where higher life expectancy in Japan or Germany is used to shame the expensive US healthcare system, but they never compare Japanese American lifespans with Japan or German-American lifespans with Germany, because if they did I would bet serious money the US comes out on top. Furthermore, you also need to ask whether Canadians would rather pay more to get faster treatment, which apparently many do because they often come to the US for care where they pay out-of-pocket rather than wait months or years for treatment in the “free” system of Canada. Similarly, UK NHS patients would probably prefer to pay more to get the much higher cancer and heart disease survival rates in the US, which is why the rich and famous Brits almost always come to the US when they have serious ailments (see Mick Jagger).

            The other issue that socialized systems are having serious problems with is attracting and keeping medical personnel, because the pay and status in such systems is not very good. The UK NHS would collapse overnight if they couldn’t steal cheaper doctors and nurses away from Eastern Europe or Africa to fill their personnel needs, which of course creates problems for those areas who have trained the personnel only to lose them to richer socialized medical systems. But again, that is the problem with socialized medicine – they only way they know how to cut costs is to reduce the salaries of doctors and nurses, cut spending on new equipment and medicines, and prolong waits for non-emergency care.


    • AvatarNick D

      “There are only two real alternatives to this bankrupting medical cost problems: 1) allow hospitals and doctors to deny expensive care to people who have self-inflicted health problems and no value to society that would allow them to ever pay it back (i.e. they get bandages and cheap pain killers and shoved out the door),”

      I know two families well that have severely disabled children. One has downs, and the other has a very rare condition requiring a ventilator 24/7 and oodles of specialized care and medicine. Neither will have a normal life, in terms of quality or span, or in ability to earn income sufficient to repay healthcare costs.

      Both families knew this before their child was born and chose to give birth, and care is paid for by low-visibility state programs for these sorts of situations because no self-insured employer or parent could ever hope to cover a fraction of care costs on their own.

      Should care be denied because they will never “pay it back” to society?

      I’m glad these costs are socialized. They should be in any decent society. Shit, I’d pay double if I knew how.

  15. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    Every single lawsuit filed by Democrats regarding election rules, and every rule change instituted at their behest had the direct effect of degrading voting security.

    My question to those who voted for Biden is, if Trump is really the potential totalitarian you claim he is, why wouldn’t you cheat to defeat him?

    My challenge to those who believe mass mail-in voting is perfectly safe is I will offer you a chance to make $20. All you have to do is loan me $10. I will then take that $10 bill and a $20 bill of my own and put them in a stamped business envelope, and ask you for your address. I’ll address the envelope to you, seal it, and in big letters I’ll write all over the envelope, “$30 In Cash”. Are you willing to risk that $10?

    • Avatarstingray65

      Good analogy Ronnie, but you might add another two layers to make it even more realistic by including a note on the envelope stating what the cash is for and addressing all envelopes to a single charity. Envelope 1 has a label for a $30 charitable contribution (Biden) and envelope 2 has a label indicating a $30 to make gambling bet (Trump) and see how many of each arrive with the cash intact, and then how many of the gambling envelopes that survive the postal system and do arrive at the charity actually get counted by the charity as contributions to their cause.

    • AvatarMopar4wd

      I mean my kids great grandma sends them cash on their birthdays not in a card just in the envelope. You can often see what’s in it easily. Seems to always get here.
      Voting by mail isn’t new Trump himself does it. This again just accelerated a trend.

      • Avatarstingray65

        That acceleration is the problem, because rather than set up a reliable and protected system to deal with much larger volumes of mail-in ballots, the Democrats used the Covid “emergency” to further reduce current already inadequate levels of security. Thus they sent out millions of unsolicited ballots to out-of-date and inaccurate registered voter lists so that dead people, people who moved years ago, pets, illegals, felons, etc. who were ineligible to vote got ballots. Then they eliminated the need for verified signatures, security envelopes, pre-election day deadlines for receiving completed ballots, and used Covid distancing concerns to reduce the number of observers to watch the ballot reception and counting to make sure all remaining verification procedures were followed. Of course Republicans have wanted to verify voter lists, and invest in more secure ballot handling systems, but because such reforms would reduce the degrees of freedom for voter fraud the Democrats have always refused.

        I have also always received cash that was sent through the mail, but then again my parents and grandparents never put “envelope contains $30” prominently on the outside.

      • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

        Your kids’ great grandma may send cash in the mail, but will you?

        Please stop deliberately conflating requested absentee ballot voting with mass mailing of ballots to unverified voter rolls.

        Also, please tell us why every single Democratic lawsuit filed before the election had the effect of reducing voter security. When all the mispriced items in the grocery store favor the store, it’s not an accident.

  16. AvatarPaul M.

    Here in south for years Republicans have limited access to voting places for minorities. Few places to vote in minority areas. Voting on a working day that limits minorities ability to vote because they are working men and women(not white collar), unless after hours, and then long lines and eventually they get tired. All those years Democrats did not cry like little babies that Republicans do now.

    In Georgia where I live since 1985, I have seen solid red suburban counties in Gwinnett and Cobb turn solid blue Democrat. The most populous counties in Georgia are blue now (Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb). Unless you have lived around Atlanta that change for 30 years ago may seem unbelievable now. The red sheriffs in Gwinnett and Cobb became blue. The population of Georgia increased by 1 million since 10 years ago. Majority of that increase are minorities. Demographics are not helping Republicans. Whites are 52% now in Georgia.

    Even Forsyth county where once Hosea Williams took African Americans by bus to demonstrate against lack of any of them living up there because of Ku Klux Klan just 20 years ago or so, now has good representation of minorities. You can’t make this stuff up. It is the demographics stupid. Not voter fraud.

    And Georgia is not alone. look at Arizona. Look at Colorado and Nevada. Next will be North Carolina and Texas. It is a trend that won’t stop. Republicans can cry all they want, they only have themselves to blame. If you can not have a cabinet that is representative of makeup of this country with Ben Carson the only African American and no Hispanics you lose. Trump has all the white men he needs on that cabinet. YOU LOSE. It was fair elections. Now Republicans are crying.

    Sad thing is Trump had some good things to say first time around. Stop open borders. Stop outsourcing. Stop wars. But mostly that stuff was ignored this time around and all he could talk about was tax breaks for rich and companies, and stock market. As though that helps blue collar workers. He only has himself to blame. Plus that disaster of first debate. He would have been thrown out of any high school debate content with that act. Plus trying to take people’s health care away. You can’t make this stuff up.

    But go ahead and keep crying wolf about voter fraud. Funny same Midwestern states that went his way with razor thin margins rejected him with razor thin margins this time. And he loses more and more in Arizona and Georgia. It is over. DEAL WITH IT.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Well to be accurate there has been plenty of “crying” by Democrats. Thats why we had the infamous “consent decree” that limited oversight of polling places. Depending on whom you believe, this was either intended to shield voter fraud or prevent voter intimidation… but the Democrats pushed for that in a way that makes Trump’s post-voting behavior seem like a mild sneer of disapproval.

      • Avatarsgeffe

        Sleepy Joe (and Commie-la to follow after Joe is either 25th-Amendment-ed out or suddenly perishes under Scalian circumstances) will NEVER be MY President! It’s pretty obvious that there was malfeasance in the last states, coincidentally all under Democratic rule! (You expect me to believe differently after all those votes were found in the early morning, with NONE for Trump???!!!) And I’m sure that the fix is already in for the Georgia runoffs, so we’ll have the Supreme Court packed with activist liberals, D.C. and Puerto Rico becoming states, which will cement a Democratic Senate majority, and of course that sniveling piece of human excrement, Chuck Schumer, won’t hesitate to dispense with the filibuster, meaning that they can shove the Green New Deal, completely government-run “health care,” gun confiscation,and God-knows-what-else AOC and “the squad” want to unleash on America, or what’s left of it! And that brainless piece of shit we “elected” had the temerity to call for “unity” after showing nothing of the sort for the last five years!!!!

        There will never be another Republican President in my lifetime!

        I’m afraid it’s going to take a new “Revolutionary War” to get our country back! With the Democrats controlling academia, the media, the culture, and big technology, I suppose it was only a matter of time. 🙁

    • AvatarNewbie Jeff

      “All those years Democrats did not cry like little babies that Republicans do now”

      Again… look at the overt capacity for Orwellian Doublethink and crippling self-deception on display here. Democrats didn’t cry like babies?

      For years after 2016, Democrats openly embraced the conspiracy that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to win the election. Democrats howled endlessly that the election had been “stolen” from them. “Not my President” was a popular, pervasive slogan among the American Left. Promised Democratic members of Congress like John Lewis declared immediately after the election that – direct quote “this is not a legitimate president”.

      As the Mueller removed dragged on, Democrats kept digging in… every Trump associate hounded by the powers of the federal government – often under blatantly unconstitutional circumstances – was declared a victory on the way to the inevitable truth of collusion. Then of course the investigation concluded, and lo and behold… there was no collusion. Democrats “did not cry”? All of a sudden, the Mueller investigation became just as “illegitimate” as the president it was supposed to depose…

      It is perhaps not surprising that so many Democrats who tore apart the integrity of 2016 now lack the slightest concern about 2020… but what is utterly unreal is how many shills they’ve thoroughly brainwashed among the general population. By all means, Winston… Democrats never cried.

      • AvatarPaul M.

        Yet, Democrats did not cry like little babies about election results. They may have out of desperation talked about Russian collusion. Ukraine whatever. But never once did I hear Democrats cry about votes of other Americans being fraud. We were shocked Hillary was not elected, but didn’t blame other Americans. We hated the electoral college system but didn’t question votes.

        But I get it. I have homes in Atlanta and out there in rural areas of Georgia. In rural areas I see trucks with Trump flags. Other trucks honking horns for those with Trump flags. Shops still selling Trumps banners. Those people like you and Jack don’t get it. How can it be if in most square footage in America Trump is leading except for little square footage in cities.

        Rural areas in north Georgia mountains, or coastal areas of Georgia don’t have the population density of Atlanta. You lost. Because you have lost cities where majority live. Not just in NY and LA and Chicago. But now in Atlanta, and Phoenix. And Vegas. And Denver. Get it??????? NO FRAUD.

        Soon you lose Texas because of Dallas and Houston and San Antonio and El Paso. And North Carolina because of Charlotte and Raleigh and Winston Salem and …. Just like you have lost Virginia and Maryland.

        If you want to win, embrace not just the white, but represent African Americans and Hispanic and others.

        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          Well golly, I reckon my hick ass never realized there wuz a lot of people who live in them thar cities before. You’d think I’d’a knowed, bein’ a native New Yorker who has also lived in Baltimore proper and Washington DC, but maybe I warn’t payin’ no mind to hit at the time. Tomorrow morning when I’m out on the back forty chawin’ my ‘baccy and milkin’ a cow, I reckon I’ll ponder it a bit.

        • AvatarDan

          I think that Trump is a narcissistic buffoon who did more damage to this country than anyone since Ted Kennedy and he not only deserved to lose but belongs in jail. And that’s coming from someone who voted for him twice.

          That said, Republicans are the only ones who talk about voter fraud because the way the system is set up they couldn’t do much of it if they wanted to. There isn’t one great ballot counting office in the sky. There are thousands of county election boards. (R) votes are spread out piecemeal throughout all of them. Finding fifty thousand votes in the middle of the night, or disappearing fifty thousand of yours, would require coordinated action across dozens of them. Everyone would be in on it. Keeping it quiet would be impossible.

          In the Dem urban areas with absolute ownership of every aspect of local government and upwards of 20% of the state on a single voter roll it’s so easy to meaningfully cheat and get away with it that it’s most of the way to incomprehensible that they don’t.

        • AvatarNewbie Jeff

          “Yet, Democrats did not cry like little babies about election results. They may have out of desperation talked about Russian collusion. Ukraine whatever”

          Ha… literally in a world of complete, paralyzing self-deception. I imagine Orwell would have been shocked to see the dystopian theme of Doublethink so literally manifested in an actual human being.

          “We hated the electoral college system but didn’t question votes”

          No, you questioned the institution of how the US has functioned as a representative republic for 240 years and vowed to dismantle it.

          “Rural areas in north Georgia mountains, or coastal areas of Georgia don’t have the population density of Atlanta. You lost. Because you have lost cities where majority live”

          Actually, you lost them. Democrats lost ground in every demographic – a slim loss among black Americans, but a statistically significant loss among Hispanics. Two Florida House seats in heavily Hispanic districts flipped to Republicans. Democrats LOST House seats when they were expecting a landslide. I know this because I read and understand the news.

          “If you want to win, embrace not just the white, but represent African Americans and Hispanic and others”

          By “embrace”, do you mean telling black people that they’re not black if they don’t vote for you?

        • Avatarstingray65

          Paul M. – So you think the solution for Republicans is to try to be more like the Democrats in big cities? Do you mean the big cities that are all bankrupt due to poor management? Do you mean the big cities where the “racist” police have open season on unarmed black men, AND very generous pensions that allow them to retire at age 45? Do you mean the big cities where they have “common sense gun control” that keeps guns out of the hands of everyone except criminals and “racist” police? Do you mean the big cities where the streets are covered in human poop and used drug needles, and mentally ill wander the streets? Do you mean the big cities where taxes are high to support terrible public schools that turn out thousands of “graduates” each year who can’t read or do simply math? Do you mean the big cities were Covid deaths have been the highest in the nation? I guess we should be grateful to all those big city residents who supposedly voted in record numbers to bring these benefits of big city living to all the deplorables living in the country.

    • Avatararbuckle

      “It is the demographics stupid.”
      “It is a trend that won’t stop”

      Trump didn’t lose in 2020 because of a lack of appeal with hispanic voters. In fact he probably was able to maintain margins in certain states because of a shift in that demographic towards him.

      The black share of the electorate has been nearly flat for the past 20 years and even with that group Trump saw increases in 2020.

      I’ve been hearing about how “demographics are destiny” for my entire life from both sides of the political spectrum but the actual data isn’t bearing it out. People just aren’t as politically autonomous as the pundit class wants them to be. If you absolutely have to talk about a “demographic bucket” where Republicans are struggling it is with urban whites.

    • AvatarDaniel Sharpe

      That may be a “Georgia” thing. I live in Alabama, and sure, there were some half hour voting lines, but that was about it. Even when we had huge turnout for Obama’s first election, we had maybe an hour for voting lines.

      One of the issues that has been repeated here locally is that if they want to improve voting lines during national votes, then vote for local elections. Then they can budget properly. We have 50-60 percent national election turnout and then we have 20 percent mayoral voting and if we are lucky, 30 percent for Governor. Voting Precincts here are setup based on average turnout and registration for all elections, not just when people decide they want to vote for the national elections.

      The constitution doesn’t state that voting has to be easy. I have to renew tags and licenses, and that takes hours at the DMV or tag office. If people want to vote, then they can wait in line.

      • AvatarDaniel Sharpe


        Speaking of crying, what about Nancy Pelosi who tweeted and publicly said that the 2016 election was hijacked? What about the left media saying the election was stolen? What about Hilary stating not to concede?

        Trump isn’t crying, he’s actually exhausting his legal options. Sadly, ALL Americans should know where the fraud is and how to fix it, regardless of who wins and loses.

  17. Avatarhank chinaski

    So there was another rally. Antifa/BLM preyed on the elderly, women, and families as they dispersed, isolating and attacking the weak like hyenas do. Sucker punches. Green lasers. Fireworks. Cops sitting on their thumbs. Again.

    The demographic changes mentioned above are real. Barely budging the needle for blacks or hispanics won’t save Texas even if the based Cubans delay Florida. Urban Blue normies are already moving out to the exurbs due to lockdowns and riots. Cali refugees are fleeing to Texas and Idaho.

    All they had to do was wait for ’24. The GOP would have put up Nikki Haley or another Washington General star. The Steal was a desperate, foolish, lashing out, likely to invoke a backlash.

    • AvatarNewbie Jeff

      “If you absolutely have to talk about a “demographic bucket” where Republicans are struggling it is with urban whites”

      “Urban Blue normies are already moving out to the exurbs due to lockdowns and riots. Cali refugees are fleeing to Texas and Idaho”

      These are excellent points made by Arbuckle/Hank… I think these socio-political realities are indicative of the power of weaponized identity politics in the hands of the American Left. They demonstrate the ability of the American Left to not only convince people to vote against their own interests (how in the world has “America First” become so toxic?), but to actually deeply hate their own identity and country. Their political loyalties are completely de-coupled from anything grounded in tangible policy… for white Democrats, their world has become an eternal struggle towards “fighting systemic racism”, “fighting climate change”, “free healthcare”, and “democratic socialism”… thus, the real world changes but “the struggle” never does. They live at the feet of political culture idols, worshipping the underwhelming Obama, the impotent Sanders, or the completely insane AOC. This loyalty to manufactured political “morality” is universally transferable and resilient… nothing about reality can put a dent in it. This is why they’ll vote for the destruction of California, flee when it makes the state un-liveable, and not have the slightest cognitive dissonance voting for it again in Denver, Boise, or Phoenix.

  18. AvatarKen

    What would you do if you found out there are still real Nazis? Nazis who surveil their citizens, imprison them and strip away their rights. Would you take action? Would you “punch them in the face”?

    Well, there are, right now, in the current year, and they’re in China. The Xinjiang “re-education” interment camps house near 1 Million men, women, and children, based on ethnicity and religion. This slave / child labor pool is utilized to mass produce goods; including masks. The output of “modern Nazi” labor camps, may quite literally, be on your face.

    For all your touting of inequality, basic human rights and Climate Change, will you inconvenience yourself and NOT buy China?

    Better yet, would you *gasp* buy American?

    Our short sighted, internal fighting over red-herrings, to maintain the status quo of capital consumerism over actually producing, will continue to weaken us and will be our downfall to external threats.

  19. Avatar1a

    This should be all you need to know, Americans:

    “Elections Canada does not use Dominion Voting Systems [note they are headquartered in Toronto]. We use paper ballots counted by hand in front of scrutineers and have never used voting machines or electronic tabulators to count votes in our 100-year history. — In Canadian federal elections, we use paper ballots that are counted by hand in front of scrutineers. (We do NOT use machines to count ballots.)”

    The leftist commenters even on this site are impossible—extremely low-calibre mental capacities. I just “can’t” anymore with leftists—that ship has sailed.

    I’m late to this page and don’t read many comments (have any of you heard of paragraphs? condensing?), but please consider reading Rudy Giuliani, Lin Wood, Sidney Powell on that social media hellhole starting with “T”.

    • AvatarEric H

      The reason Canada doesn’t use these has nothing to do with security.

      Canada has lots of local polling places and the votes are totaled locally and the counts are sent in with the ballots.

      Counting is quick and the paper ballots are there for any recounts. It’s pretty much the way they’ve done it since Canada was a country.

      • Avatar1a

        Lol, this is in regards to FEDERAL elections—they use tabulators/machines in local elections!!! This -is- about security of federal elections!!!

        And they don’t want Internet voting as some have pushed for!!!

        Canada also has VOTER ID laws!!!

        !!! = flashing lights!!!

        • Avatar1a

          FYI did anyone watch today’s press conference of said individuals in my post from yesterday? I wonder if any networks covered it (I don’t watch them). A good watch!

        • AvatarEric H

          This is how Canada does it’s federal elections.
          Parliamentary systems are different.

          You vote for your local Minister of Parliament (MP), the majority party installs their Prime Minister.

          Keeping your head in the sand really is the best way to stay ignorant.

          • Avatar1a

            Your first word is “this”. Can you define what “this” is? To what are you referring? You make no sense.
            Also—“its” not “it’s”.

  20. Avatardanio

    >Consider the infamous cost-of-lawsuit calculation where Ford knowingly allowed the Pinto to be built with a defect that could cost 180 additional deaths, because the cost of settling those lawsuits would be less than the cost of fixing the problem, which was estimated at $11 per car.

    I recall a lecture by Dennis Gioia that was presented to our Business Ethics class with regards to the Pinto case. Mr. Gioia was a recall coordinator with Ford at the time and partly responsible for some of the decisions made. What I discovered to be most profound about the Pinto case was that the cost of a human life used to calculate whether a safety fix was necessary was in fact set by NHTSA. Ford was aware that increasing safety awareness would be a dilemma for them and looked for an equation to settle their decisions on matters like this.

    What struck me about this is how much of an “engineering” mentality this was, to think, “we abided by the equation!”. The equation didn’t have a variable to account for Ford’s eventual criminal liability in that they “should have known better”. What didn’t help their decision making was that criminal liability cases such as the Pinto were somewhat without precedent up until that point, when societal attitudes towards vehicle safety and corporate responsibility had changed from decades past.


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