Welfare program succeeds at giving out welfare, film at 11

WunderDataVox is still pointing to the Number Of Obamacare Signups as evidence of…something: Obamacare succeeded for one simple reason: it’s horrible to be uninsured

What has Obamacare ‘succeeded’ at exactly? Signups! You know, because the number (7 million something) was bigger than another number (7 million) that was arbitrarily laid down as a magic number benchmark of (something). And that’s all you need to know if you are part of the New, Data-Driven Journalism: ‘Success’!

Look. You created a welfare program (or something equivalent to one). The welfare program gives a nonzero amount of Money (or something equivalent) to a certain class of people. And so, lo and behold, some nonzero number of people, mostly drawn from that class, come ‘sign up’ for getting that Money. Is this fact, in itself, noteworthy? Is it surprising? Is it an achievement? Is it ‘success’?

Sure, if you are retarded.

Look, I can’t keep on doing this. It’s too much. Just wake me when the Obamacare discussion stops being retarded. Which is going to be a long sleep because that will be precisely never o’clock.

But do they “like-like” Obamacare?

Smart People are trumpeting a Gallup announcement today that states which ‘like Obamacare’ [sic] are reducing their, and have a far lower, percentage of ‘uninsured people’ than states which don’t ‘like’ [sic] Obamacare.

What is this ‘like’ vs ‘not like’ distinction they are referring to? It mostly boils down to ‘expanding Medicaid’:

…states expanding Medicaid have had faster growth in the public program than those that have opted not to participate. States that do not expand Medicaid…

News flash: Medicaid is a welfare program. It is welfare. ‘Expanding Medicaid’, if it means anything, means giving more people more welfare.

The other (secondary) reason cited is that the ‘like’-Obamacare states have set up ‘exchanges’ [sic] and people have ‘bought’ [sic], i.e. obtained subsidies to partially or almost-wholly pay for, insurance plans on those ‘exchanges’. Which is, in such cases, just another form of (disguised, apparently, though not if you think about it for more than 2 seconds) welfare.

So boil it down and we are being given the jejune information that states which have expanded welfare programs are able to engineer the (good?) result of more people being on welfare.


It’s just that this information is being conveyed by everyone using different words, and so the listener – and perhaps even the speaker! – might not realize that this is what is being said. The most magic word involved here is ‘insurance’. ‘Getting people insured’ qua ‘insured’, regardless of details and cost and even the precise definition of what it means to be ‘insured’, is of course the Smart Person holy grail.

So fine. But what am I meant to cheer, or be impressed by, in this result? That is not so clear when you think about the actual mechanics of what has taken place.

What I gather has taken place in the states that ‘like’ [sic] Obamacare is this. Initially, some number of people were ‘uninsured’. To state this more neutrally, let’s think about what this means vis-a-vis their health care provision (which is what I actually care about; I don’t give a rat’s ass about ‘insurance’ as such): it means that if they needed health care, inevitably, it would be paid for one way or another by others – primarily, taxpayers. Then, they were given ‘insurance’ by Obamacare because their state ‘liked’ it. This either means they were (a) given Medicaid, i.e., will have their health care paid for by taxpayers, or (b) given a (presumably) subsidized ACA insurance plan on the exchange, i.e., will have their health care paid for by others – primarily, taxpayers.

In short: some number of people who previously had their health care paid for by taxpayers will now have their health care paid for by taxpayers. (But in, like, a different way, and with different paperwork.)

SUCCESS! Could anything be more obvious than that this miraculous transformation of these people from [being given taxpayer-funded health care] to [being given taxpayer-funded health care] must now be replicated at any cost all across the Union?

And if you disagree, you must not be a Smart Person.

Top men have made a plan. Top. Men.

Wonkblog says that the administration ‘has a plan’ to ‘avoid’ the Obamacare Risk Corridors becoming a ‘bailout’ (i.e. not really necessarily a bailout per se but costing taxpayers a lot of money nevertheless).

What is this ‘plan’? Let me boil it down for you:

1. Save any money it takes in, just in case it costs money later, and hope the saved money will be enough to cover any later liability (fingers crossed!)
2. Don’t pay early-year claimers all that’s owed to them under the corridor, promise it to them in yearly installments and hope that future years they’ll turn green anyway & we can net things out then.

This is a ‘plan’ to ‘avoid’ any possibility of a large taxpayer hit, you wonder? And the answer is a resounding no, according to the actual article:

So what happens if at the end of the three-year program, HHS hasn’t collected enough payments or it’s collected too much? Well, HHS doesn’t know yet what happens then

Um, what happens then is that (assuming that ‘hasn’t collected enough’ is the likely situation) taxpayers will either have to make good on the tranched insurance protection their wise Congressmen sold to insurance companies, or renege somehow. Or in colloquial terms, taxpayers will have to ‘bail out’ insurance companies to the tune of $X billion, for some unknown but possibly large and not even apparently bounded X.

And that’s the ‘plan’!

I’d hate to think what ‘no plan’ looks like.

I Don’t Understand Why Kathleen Sebelius Had To Resign

What did she do wrong? Can someone explain?

I look at Kathleen Sebelius and see a well-coiffed woman in a pants-suit. She seemed to wear that pants-suit successfully. She looks serious and businesslike and even has shortis whitish hair, so as not to be too threateningly feminine. She’s even also skinny for pete’s sake. You could picture her getting invited to a fancy DC-area cocktail party.

Therefore, what’s the problem?

Or we can just look at her background. Wiki says she has a master’s degree in ‘Public Administration’. You could therefore put some letters after her name. That’s a credential. What more do you need? She should just be kept in whatever position she holds (as long as she wants to hold it) thereafter. (Credential).

Then for the subsequent 30 years it looks like she’s been doing ‘jobs’ involving getting elected to stuff. So what more qualification do you need? How can we not have her in roles involving power and authority now?

I bet she even ‘leaned in’. Now granted this is just a conjecture on my part, but an educated one. I’m just saying that if you were a fly on a wall at one of the numerous meetings we presume she was always having about this and that at HHS, her ‘leaning’ posture was probably in rather than out. Maybe she even wore reading glasses (just a guess) and asked pointed questions like, ‘How are we doing on those timelines?’ and then nodded her head thoughtfully at the responses while checking her Blackberry.

All I’m saying is that when I think about whether she satisfies all the criteria for success and qualification and doing a good job that we actually impose when selecting who will be our leaders (in particular female ones), as far as I can tell she passes with flying colors. I can literally think of no single criterion that we currently impose on leaders and authority figures that she doesn’t fully satisfy just fine. With respect to those criteria, she passes with flying colors as far as I can tell.

I mentioned the pants-suit right?

Klein: We Won We Won Neener Neener

Der Wunderkinder: Kathleen Sebelius is resigning because Obamacare has won

It’s a lovely mentality, isn’t it, that conceives of a policy as ‘winning’. Back in grownup-land, policies might succeed or fail, they might be costly or efficient, they are helpful or unhelpful, while all along they have distributional effects, they have subtle unintended consequences, and so on and so on.

But in Wunderkindia, it’s all about whether they ‘win’. It’s only about whether they ‘win’.

Maybe I’m being unfair though. Let’s dig into the 5th-grade-level prose that is apparently in conformance with Vox’s style guide to see what he means by ‘win’:

In other words, the law has won its survival. [...] And Sebelius can leave with her head held high. She can leave with the law she helped build looking, shockingly, like a success.

It’s ‘won’ its…survival. And therefore it’s a ‘success’ because…it will survive. The law existing means the law is successful means the law won.

But why did we want the law to exist? Why do we care that it ‘survives’? Do we even remember? (Something about ‘getting people insured’ qua insured regardless of cost no doubt)

When Obamacare supporters like Ezra Klein strike postures of foisting these policies because they care so much and want to improve lives, just remember that when the rubber meets the road all they really care about is their policy ‘winning’. They win and the bad guys lose.

If Obamacare has ‘won’, who has ‘lost’? The American middle class, obviously. Congratulations on your big ‘victory’ in raping the American middle class, I guess.

It’s us vs. them. It’s Smart People vs. the rabble dummies. It’s high school all over again.

Except for CLOs, of course

It’s morally and economically imperative for regulators to ban banks from doing trades regulators inconsistently and arbitrarily label as ‘prop trades’ unless banks complain that taking off those trades will lose them a lot of money and (gasp) widen spreads in the space in which case regulators should go ahead and unilaterally give them an arbitrary, extralegal ‘extension’ during which banks can just go ahead and disobey the morally and economically imperative law that was passed banning the activity and which is supposedly in effect.

What’s really going on here, you may wonder. Well CLOs are the one product from the Scary Three-Letter Acronym Family that ‘still work’ and so, nobody wants to rock the boat. Oh yes, the Volcker Rule surely was an intelligent rule based on informed judgment and sound, highly consistent principles.

Why do we want all people to be insured?

Why do we want so much for all people to ‘be insured’?

It’s not as if this is a recent development but it’s been getting under my craw lately just how much debate on Obamacare and health-care financing/distribution centers on the single, monolithic issue of how many people ‘are insured’. How exactly did this get to be the all-encompassing metric of everything towards which all of society’s rules ought to point?

I mean, what’s so great about ‘being insured’? For one thing this way of speaking ignores all the economically-meaningful details of whatever insurance one may have. $1/year premium and no deductible? $2000/month premium and $25k deductible? In both cases, the person ‘is insured’ and we’re supposed to rejoice (equally?).

Similarly, elevating ‘being insured’ to some kind of holy, sanctified, sought-after-at-any-cost status ignores ways of dealing with things that, nevertheless, don’t qualify as ‘insurance’ on technical grounds. We are constantly told that people who ‘weren’t insured’ would use the ER and Medicaid and whatnot. But now they will ‘have insurance’, so that’s better. But wait: why is that better? For whom? By what standard? No explanation is proffered. Who needs one? ‘Being insured’ is good and ‘not being insured’ bad, period, say all the Smart People. And nevermind the fact that (in a sense) all those people were ‘insured’, it just wasn’t by an insurance company, it was by taxpayers-and-whoever.

But I went too far with that ‘at-any-cost’ part, didn’t I? Cost is not even mentioned in the first place. As far as I can tell, I’m supposed to think that increasing the percentage of people who ‘are insured’ (whatever that means) by one basis point is worth spending X dollars – for any value of X whatsoever. The ledger of this retarded debate, as conducted by (retarded) Smart People, has only one side to it.

So I’ll ask again: why do we want to much for all people to ‘be insured’? It’s not obvious if you really think about it. Which few seem to.


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