Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Curious Redemption of East Anglia

UK legislators have come out and pardoned East Anglia University and Professor Phil Jones, who were implicated in the Climate-gate scandal.

Let me get this straight, because I can’t understand how the British government is in a position to do this.

In November 2009, it became accepted that East Anglia’s research was less than credible due to evidence of fabricated data. Shortly after, the UK lawmakers came out and condemned East Anglia for the data manipulation, mostly because it compromised the global perception of British science. Oh, and also because the British government was implicated in the scandal, considering public funds were used to produce the faulty data. Then, after the hubbub died down and the lawmakers had escaped the pressure, we’re just supposed to take the UK's word that now East Anglia should be exonerated, and everything was kosher the whole time?

Imagine a guy robbing a bank, and his getaway driver is right outside while the act is perpetrated. The bank robber gets caught and is incarcerated, while the driver escapes conviction but is suspected of plotting the crime. Then 6 months later after everything cools off, the driver comes out of the woodwork and says the bank robber is innocent and that he should be released. Is the court going to believe him and just let the bank robber off the hook?

Well in this analogy, imagine East Anglia is the bank robber, and the UK legislature is the driver. And the world is the court. We’re not going to believe it either, and we're not going to let them off the hook to keep pushing carbon caps and credits.

But the juiciest part of all is that they try to spin the devious verbiage in an email that says: "I've just completed 'Mike's Nature trick' of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years ... to hide the decline."

Most people will not take the threat of global warming as seriously when temperatures are declining, unless you’re Al Gore and fully invested in the belief that the world is going to climate-hell. Of course, if you're Al Gore, everything from blizzards to earthquakes is rock-solid evidence that the world is committing suicide because we’re such bad tenants.

But Phil Jones knew that most people are not so dim as to believe that "cooling means warming," and that’s why he tried to hide the cooling data.

A second grader could easily decipher the meaning of the above sentence about hiding data. Perhaps the word "hide" has a meaning that's lost in translation as it moves across the pond, like how "chips" are fries, or to "pinch" is to steal something. But I doubt it. So the rest of Western culture should be deeply offended that the British parliament thinks so little of us.

We need to just use some common sense and recognize that, yes, crucial data used in IPCC reports was manipulated, and that, yes, the veracity of the science that many had believed is now legitimately in question. And before diving headfirst into costly global carbon regulation, we should make damn sure the theory is foolproof. It certainly isn’t now, and that's why they had to fudge the data. What the “consensus” thought to be a sure thing has proven to be a bit of a long shot.

But that's not stopping the British government from betting the farm.

William Sullivan

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sharpton says 2008 election was a commitment to socialism

Al Sharpton claims that the American people knew they were voting for a socialist when they voted for Barack Obama. According to Sharpton, when they voted for Obama, they "voted for socialism." (1)

But recall that in the 2008 election, anyone who used the term "socialist" in reference to Obama was immediately dubbed a racist. The expression had become a racial slur to Barack Obama's supporters, a synonym of the n-word, and was as taboo to utter as Barack Obama’s middle name during the campaign.

So it's unlikely that most Americans knew he was a socialist before he was elected. Americans only began to believe it when they saw the Obama administration seek to control the energy, banking, auto, and ultimately the insurance and healthcare industries.

But sadly, Al Sharpton is right about one thing. He said that socialized healthcare was "not some concept the president introduced after he won." Americans should have known he promised socialism, because all we needed to do was listen. There were clues every time he talked about "social justice" or redistribution of "the pie."

But rather than paying attention to the substance of what Obama was saying in the campaign, many Americans just listened to a well-oiled spin machine tell them that he was not a socialist. They just accepted the Obama campaign's word that he sought bipartisanship and transparency, and took solace in the fact that he was not George Bush. They buried their heads in the sand, only occasionally peeking out to clap their hands when Obama gave one of his wonderful “chicken-in-every-pot” speeches.

Sharpton said that with the healthcare bill, Obama “delivered what he promised” to the American people. But it’s evident now that he did not deliver what the American people thought they were being promised.

The American people have had the false promises of bipartisanship and transparency rubbed in their face for over a year, and never more shamefully than this past weekend. Obama’s healthcare bill did not receive one Republican vote, so it was hardly bipartisan. And as far as transparency, the bill itself was hidden from the public until days before the vote, and even if it would have been available for longer, it was such a convoluted monstrosity that teams of paralegals would need weeks to decipher it.

What Obama claimed to offer the American people was a reprieve from Washington nonsense. No more business as usual with lobbyists and special interests. No more backroom deals to get votes. But there were more earmarks and hidden pork in this bill than most Americans wanted to see in a decade. And to further the corruption, he bribed representatives of his party to sell out their own constituency to pass his overwhelmingly unpopular healthcare legislation, and created an expansion of debt that requires the need for an unprecedented burden on the middle class. This is not what most Americans signed on for when they bought his rhetoric about “hope and change.”

But according to Al Sharpton, that should not matter. Obama was elected, so no matter how bad it tastes or how badly they feel misled, the American people just need to deal with a government takeover of our healthcare system.

And even though it’s an ideology that is entirely contrary to our constitutional republic’s form, Americans should somehow just be alright with the fact that our president is a socialist.

We're not. And that's why we're outraged. And that's why Americans will continue seeking "change" in November.

William Sullivan


Friday, March 19, 2010

Insurance Reform Is Just a Red Herring

Americans have heard an awful lot of sales pitches from the Democratic Party to warrant the confirmation of the Senate healthcare bill, which recently passed into law in an historic and unprecedented vote. Historic because of the scope, and unprecedented because of the conniving manner in which the broadly unpopular bill found passage.

The most common theme in Democratic infomercials leading up to the vote was the assurance that the bill is designed as an attempt to reform insurance practice. But that just masks their true intention.

Propaganda campaigns in recent years have portrayed insurance companies as vampiric corporations that plot the demise of their policy holders for profit. Maligned as heartless villains that will not provide coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, insurance companies line their pockets with premium while the poor American people suffer unnecessarily. Obama’s plan will supposedly see to it that they reform their practices to run their insurance companies correctly and honestly, and that will solve all the problems.

But before we allow ourselves to believe that Obama’s goal is righting the wrongs of insurance companies, we should take a closer look at the practice of insurance.

Health insurance, like all insurance, is based on a gauge of probability called the “law of large numbers.” The stronger the likelihood someone will get sick, the higher the premium the person will pay.

Break this down to a base historical analogy. The insurance industry has roots in ancient Egypt, as people began to insure freight as it traveled on the Nile. If a merchant had cargo that he wanted to insure, any potential insurer must take into account many factors, including the cost of the cargo, natural phenomena like storms, distance traveled, and external factors like piracy. If a particular merchant was transporting a thousand pounds of gold 100 miles downriver, the insurer would require a large amount of money as incentive to insure the cargo.

Now ask this. Would it make sense to charge the same hefty premium to someone shipping a bag of clothes to the other side of the river?

Such is exactly what this healthcare bill offers. It will require that young Americans, who are less likely to get sick, pay higher premiums to compensate for mandatory reductions in premium to those who are more likely to get sick. This is the only way to compensate if there is to be any incentive to insure anyone, and it is entirely contrary to the idea of insurance.

Insurance companies cannot survive the government's plan, which by 2014 will disallow insurance companies to consider pre-existing conditions and mandate that health insurance be kept by all Americans. This will trigger a domino effect that will destroy private insurance.

Younger Americans will undoubtedly dislike paying increased premium for care that they do not receive. Yet this bill requires that they must have insurance, so they will have to go with the government plan. While insurance companies crumble without the offsets of younger policyholders, the government option will remain because it will not be hindered by such insurance constants as probability and profit margins. Profits and incentive to insure are trivial, because any financial shortfall in the government's plan can be reconciled by a seemingly endless pool of untaxed public revenue.

Insurance reform is not their aim. It is simply their expressed aim in the package they present to the public. This is because Americans tend to become tense when they hear the words, “universal” or “single-payer” healthcare. But “single-payer” healthcare is absolutely their goal.

And this should make Americans truly afraid. We have seen how such systems work. We have seen the fiscal drain on economies that employ them, and know about the necessity of rationing service and have heard about lengthy waiting periods for simple service.

Most Americans today like that their family’s health is more than just a number to healthcare providers, and enjoy quality service as a result of their payments. They shudder at the thought that one day a trip to the hospital could be remotely like a routine trip to the Post Office or DMV, where prominently cold, callous workers try to make it through the day, simply fulfilling their role as a government bureaucrat, stamping forms, and slowly processing the inconvenient requests of the masses.

But sadly this may be in America’s future, because this administration is cobbling the road to socialized medicine. They just choose less threatening verbiage and call it “reform.”

William Sullivan