Wednesday, February 24, 2010


You know how I said in my post a while back that insurance companies have a "de facto monopoly"?

Well, I stand corrected.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

They just can't make up their minds can they.

Remember how the Republicans were going on and on about how the Democrat's healthcare plan was too damn long and complicated? Well, now that Obama's condensed it down to an eleven-page summary, it's too short.

Hey GOP-ers, next time you start ranting about "relativism" and how terrible it is? I'm going to mock you,  and there will be pots and kettles involved.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I see your Tarantino and raise you a non-arcane parliamentary tactic.

I saw on my RSS reader yesterday that Harry Reid has finally grown a spine and decided to start fixing up the House and Senate healthcare bills into to one complete bill that's ready to be passed. There were quotes from Republicans saying that this whole reconciliation thing is absolutely not kosher, and some comments from Democrats who were saying the same thing. But it just so happens that both healthcare bills are budget bills, and so passing them with budget reconciliation is completely legit. Also, reconciliation is not an "arcane parliamentary tactic", and in fact the Republicans used it all the damn time

My newsfeeds also told me that the GOP are now waving their arms and  going "ZOMG SEE?! THE HEALTHCARE SUMMIT IS A TRAP!" and after a trip over to Reddit I saw that the conservative blogosphere is doing about the same thing. They've been doing this ever since Obama decided to have a summit, and I think it's hilarious.

You see, it is a trap - but this isn't because of anything Obama did. This meeting is just him going "Okay guys, show what you've got." If they actually had any new ideas this wouldn't be a problem - but they don't, and they know it. All the stuff on their website is already in the Senate bill, and none of it will fix the real problem. Everything that would is something that they now couldn't support even if they wanted to. Meanwhile some people are wising up to the fact that this healthcare reform stuff sounds pretty good once you understand what it does.

And of course there's the public option.  We've now got twenty senators who want it in the final bill, and it just so happens that this particulat component is the part of the bill with the most public support. If the senate Dems can get their shit together and pass the thing already, then not only does everyone get some health insurance... and as a side bonus the GOP will end up looking like a bunch of paranoid idiots when it doesn't bring about the revival of the Soviet Union.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

On the need for standards.

The conservative talking point of labor laws and environmental regulations "kill jobs". This has always struck me as an oversimplification, but until recently I'd never given much thought to exactly how it might be right or wrong.

Well, I found this blog post about minimum wage laws by "The Drage"... and I think I get it now. His argument against them is basically that employees should be able to charge as little as they want for their labor, and that establishing or raising the minimum wage increases unemployment by making employers pay more for the same labor. Emphasis mine:
"How long do you think the company will keep [its workers] employed [following a minimum wage increase] if they're not worth what they're being paid? Well, if they don't perform to their new standard then chances are they will be let go and the company will go find employees who are worth the $7.25 an hour that they are forced to pay. Furthermore, the company's total labor costs will increase. Is it likely that the company will be able to raise prices enough to offset the increase in wages in this economy? Probably not. Therefore, the company will have to find some way to cut costs and the first place they'll likely look is payroll."
Great Scott, I do believe I've found the problem.

Utah likes their women barefoot and pregnant.

Utah Bill Equates Miscarriages With Criminal Homicide. 

You can't even say that the intent here was to keep women from getting illegal abortions - for one thing, they're already illegal. For another, it opens a huge legal can of worms - anything a woman does that could have caused he to miscarry could be classified as "reckless behavior" and get her a life sentence.

This is not about abortion, it's about controlling womens' behavior. I've explained at length how I came to think this, and every time a pro-life group tries pushing through more of their legislation it only gives me more proof.  "Parent notification" laws  are the most specific when describing the consequences of noncompliance - the parts about how to comply are very vague, which makes it obvious what their real purpose is. Fetal personhood laws are worse, because they effectively give fetuses more rights and protections than pregnant women - exactly the kind of thinking that leads to laws like this one in Utah. 

 The fact that these laws allow "exceptions" doesn't make them better. If anything it's even more of a giveaway that this isn't about saving every embryo, it's about letting women get abortions only when the anti-choicers think it's okay.

I suppose you could make this shit up.

NYT, "A Small Price for a Large Benefit":
FORECASTS involving climate change are highly uncertain, denialists assert — a point that climate researchers themselves readily concede. The denialists view the uncertainty as strengthening their case for inaction, yet a careful weighing of the relevant costs and benefits supports taking exactly the opposite course.
Emphasis mine. This is really the only reason that I can see why the IPCC "Climategate" e-mails are causing such a stir - even without them, a lot of other researchers have come up with a lot of other evidence for climate change independently of one another. But deniers take every tiny suggestion of inconsistency as damning evidence. This perplexes me because, as the author of this article explains, taking action isn't going to cost that much.

The actions we're trying to take have obvious benefits even if you don't care about anyone's carbon footprint. Oil wells renew so slowly that they might as well be a nonrenewable resource; we have to import a lot of it to meet out needs, and the process of refining it into a usable form adds to its cost. Coal also renews very slowly, and mining it is extremely labor intensive and dangerous, not to mention highly damaging to our national landscape. And using our energy sources more efficiently means we spend less money on it in the long run, and have more money for other things. So switching over to renewable energy sources - even if climate change turns out to be less serious than expected - seems like a pretty good idea to me.

Well the climate deniers - the "skeptics" - seem to think that these are bad ideas, and that we shouldn't bother pursuing them because global climate change might not even be real. And in fact the implication (or in some cases, the statement) that accompanies the outrage over the "Climategate" e-mails and other "counterevidence" they find is that anthropogenic climate change is all a hoax. I guess that might be possible - maybe not likely, but for the sake of argument let's assume for a moment that someone really is making all this up.


I mean, if this is a hoax then it's a pretty elaborate one, because nearly every single professional scientific organization in the world and 97% of publishing climate scientists are in on it by now, not to mention individual national governments, political parties, and a good portion the media. No one would go to all that trouble just for shits and grins - so what's the benefit and who gets it? "Profit" isn't going to cut it here, because there are plenty of ways to make a profit that don't involve orchestrating a massive global conspiracy. If any of the "skeptics" out there have ideas on this then I'd be very interested to hear them, because I can't think of any.