Friday, July 17, 2009
Lalalalala. Thank you for your emailed support. There is something about this type of thinking that remedies the soul-warping effects of 1,018 pages of exposure to the thought processes of people (a la Pelosi) who are convinced that adding the numbers up is a vile and irrational effort:
Specifically, let’s also stop citing the Nordic countries as examples. The temporary success of (comparatively speaking) twelve herring-eating homogenous people is not an example that applies to anything outside of perhaps Minnesota, and they elected Stuart Smalley, so under any system they need serious free anti-psychotic medication immediately.
To which I can only add this: The taxation rates in those Nordic countries are extremely high. They actually pay for their socialized medicine, which puts them a giant step ahead of this exercise in nihilism. You can have socialized medicine with very high tax rates. You cannot have socialized medicine without very high tax rates.
The doofuses who composed this attack on centuries of post-enliightenment western thought have not grasped this principle. See this very short survey of OECD tax rates from which this table is drawn. You want it, you gotta pay for it, this bill doesn't pay for it. Therefore it won't work, QED. Dingbats.
By now I would already have descended into clinical depression were it not for a timely find on the estimable Coyote Blog. I tried taking the Shrink's advice - take plenty of breaks. Yeah, sure. You can't break because you'll go break windows just to relieve your feelings.
However, his advice to employ humor is working well. Here is the video that saved my sanity:
And yes, that's exactly what this is.
As a native of the US: The single most frustrating thing is that I'm not hearing any objections to the speed at which they are trying to move. WTF. You don't craft far-reaching ridiculously expensive legislation in days or weeks unless you are trying to pull a fast one. It's the kind of thing where you'd almost think there is some kind of legal challenge you could make to ensure that they would spend the requisite time to craft something that might work... or preferably I'd want to pay the government a salary to do nothing. Would probably be more helpful.
But I do love the homeopathic medicine video. As a certain well-known doctor used to say, if homeopathic meds work, why don't we have homeopathic cocaine and heroin?
Socialized everything works well in the Nordic countries because everyone is, quite frankly, white.
Once this thing passes, and it will, will a dissproportionate amount of care and expense be linked to the same groups that use a disspoportionate amount of welfware dollars and prison cells?
Then Minnesota's generous welfare benefits started attracting folks from Chicago and Gary who wanted to escape the rising crime there. Unfortunately, they brought the crime with them.
Now Norway and Sweden have taken in significant numbers of non-Lutheran immigrants. Malmo is so bad now that ambulances can't go into parts of the city without police escort. Norway is seeing crime go through the roof.
We can go on all day about similar or different system inputs. I haven't gotten my parallel universe scope working yet so we'll never isolate anything to one variable. But at what point doe we address the "gib muh gib muh gib muh" entitlement attitude of the U.S. population?
As one example, the difference of the Haitian-derived segment of the US black population vs the native black population. It isn't subtle.
Also, regarding RSM's comments, which I thought very good, the problem with the US "give me" psychology is that we are not only asking for the benefits, but we refuse to pay for them. That is a mistake that other countries haven't committed. Reasonable levels of widely accessible and efficiently delivered health care are without doubt a public good. Carrying constantly expanding levels of debt in order to provide substandard access is not.
The top tax rates in most developed countries are now very comparable to those in the US. They achieve their impressive welfare systems by high levels of MIDDLE CLASS taxation, which is exactly what this administration is refusing to do.
The US can have low taxes on the average taxpayer, or it can provide hefty benefits to the average taxpayer. It cannot do both.
I agree with Charles. The impressive and egalitarian social welfare structure of the very small northern European republics is breaking down when it comes to immigration. High levels of individual taxation have produced a social equation in which a family's possessions are protected from vicissitudes of fortune. The converse is that individuals who are starting with nothing have high levels of leisure, impressive educational opportunity, but low levels of effective social transition.
Because the US has such a very large group of recent immigrants as well as native large groups that are disproportionately poorer due to past factors, social cohesion in the US depends upon a social structure that provides a great deal of opportunity for individuals to advance.
There is little real opportunity to advance if social policies are of the "freeze frame" type seen in most socialized countries in Europe. And if it's not working there, where socialism has racked up impressive, solid achievements, I think we can all rightly guess that three weeks of heavily lobbied effort aren't going to get the US anything successful.
One of the reasons for the dynamic aspects of US culture is that it is highly open. You can make money in landscaping, cleaning, by creating a delivery business, etc. Access to opportunity does not depend on social contacts in the upper-crust or the ability to put up with 10 years of higher education. The small business segment is a huge part of the US economy and a huge part of domestic demand. If we enact policies that strip the capital out of the average person's hands, we will be cutting away at our own aorta. Economically, the result will be disastrous.
I live in a suburb of a city that has had a massive boom in residential and retail construction the last 10 years (much of it centered around new high-tech industries). Nearly all the labor for this boom was provided by recent Hispanic immigrants (I have no idea what percentage are illegals), and one of the big Hispanic neighborhoods is fairly close to my house.
Driving through that neighborhood, I see a fair amount of shabby apartments and duplexes. But I see many more small, but neat free-standing homes. And most of them have either a new addition, or deck, or elaborate and immaculate gardens--bartered with relatives that do construction and landscaping, I'm sure. There's also a large number of taco trucks that roam around the area selling cheap and good lunches wherever the temporary labor happens to be. If I can catch one at lunchtime, I always eat there--they tend to be extremely good food.
Currently there's not a big problem with crime or unrest of any kind here. If Washington makes it difficult for these small businesses to thrive, these folks will lose hope. I've seen what happens in a segregated town when the minority undergoes a sudden economic downshift relative to whites. It ain't pretty.
Links to this post: