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The healthcare problem:

Megan McArdle (via Instapundit):
Everyone in the healthcare debate is looking for a villain: heedless consumers, careless doctors, grasping pharma companies. But the truth is, most of the increase in health care costs comes from new treatments, not abuse of the system. And a lot of those new treatments raise a question: how much are we willing to pay for marginal improvements in survival, or quality of life?
I don't know how much of the cost increase is due to the new treatments, vs. artificial price controls via Medicare, but certainly things like CT scans which didn't exist thirty or forty years ago add to the total cost of medical care we're paying today.
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Down memory lane

Q & O Blog reminds us of this Democrat campaign promise, from 2006, two short years ago:
“Democrats have a commonsense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices by cracking down on price gouging, rolling back the billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks and royalty relief given to big oil and gas companies, and increasing production of alternative fuels.”
Well?  You guys won big in '06.  How's that commonsense plan for lowering gas prices working out?

It used to be that when one party promised something and failed to deliver, we tossed them out on their asses and gave the other guys a try.

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Indentured Servitude

Also known as "Mandatory National Service."  A really, really bad idea.  But Armed Liberal over at Winds of Change floats the insidious trial balloon once more:
I'd like to see this principle extended, and based on raising my own sons, think that taking a year or two between high school and college to do some kind of public service would be a good thing for most kids. Some might choose to join the military. Others would perform other kinds of community service. Those who needed it might attend two years of an academic boot camp, designed to make sure they could read and calculate effectively when they got out. We'd have a surplus of undertrained 18 year olds afoot, and we'd have to figure out things to do with them. Parks need supervision, community organizations need workers, much of it - like the WPA - will be make-work. But to a big extent, that might be a better thing than paying universities to babysit them.
My response, as posted in the comments on Winds of Change:

Indentured servitude by any other name . . . evil ideas are no less evil because pretty names are contrived for them, or lofty aspirations are assigned to them.

"Hell is paved with good intentions."  Welcome to Hell, here's your accordion.

The fundamental problem is that the entire underlying theory of the political system of the United States is that the individual citizen is sovereign, and all powers of the government derive from the sovereign individual.  Indentured servitude (or "mandatory national service") completely inverts this relationship--to advocate it, you must concede that every individual's life belongs to the state. That leads directly to serfdom. (Now, it's given that almost everybody has forgotten this inconvenient truth about the American political system, but it still hanging on, if only by a thread.)

Practically, the assertion that "taking a year or two between high school and college to do some kind of public service would be a good thing for most kids" may or may not be true. 

But is it important enough to you that it's worth advocating a form of indentured servitude?

And, also practically, no one can guarantee that all of these young serfs will not be used for purposes which are in the long run destructive to the body politic.  Government has a pretty bad record of ignoring unintended consequences.  I do not think that subjecting all people from ages 18 to 24 (or whatever) to two years of mandatory "service" will be nearly as beneficial as some may think it will be.

There are some ideas which reach the level of "horrifying" for anyone who believes that freedom and liberty are worth aspiring to.  Mandatory national service is at the top of that list.
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Because the last one went so well . . .

Remember how lumping a bunch of existing organizations into the Department of Homeland Security was supposed to make things better?  If you've been subjected to the security at a U.S. airport recently, you've got a good idea how well that's working out.

So, of course, people now think that lumping together NOAA (the weather bureau guys) and the USGS (the topographic map guys) would make perfect sense.

On a possibly related note:  Why exactly is James Hansen, noted global climate doom prophet, doing working at NASA?  Just askin'.
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I am not making this up

How an actual, honest-to-goodness news story today begins--from the Times of London:
American and Iraqi forces are driving Al-Qaeda in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country in the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.
"One of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror?"  Where the heck did that happen?  Somebody call Barack Obama and the rest of the reality-impaired community, quick!
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That'll make a lot of lemon bars

550 tons of yellowcake have made their way from Iraq, which had no WMD's or any programs to create them prior to the criminal Bush war crime of attacking that peaceful regime of Saddam Hussein, to Canada, where thousands of church basements await for the delectable Iraqi treats.

Or something like that.
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"The man is Ted Baxter"

You know, Bill O'Reilly's aggressive populism often makes me nervous at least.  Of course, populism generally makes me nervous at least.

It is not a surprise that Rush Limbaugh absolutely nails O'Reilly with the pungent observation which is the title of this post.

And, in case you don't know who Ted Baxter was, here's a link.

Via Conservatism with Heart.
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I did not realize . . .

McClatchy Newspapers, inept bumbling owners of the Kansas City Star newspaper among others, has as a corporate slogan "Truth to Power."

This of course is a well-known leftist code phrase meaning "we'll continue to throw juvenile hissy-fits and stand on the table and hold our breath until we turn blue (sic) and write obscenely biased "news" articles until you give in and let us immature wild-eyed spoiled brat activists have our way with everything."

Arrogant SOBs.
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Hope, continued

In the Boston Globe:
Jamie Kalven, a longtime Chicago housing activist, put it this way: "I hope there is not much predictive value in his history and in his involvement with that community."

Go read the entire story.  I don't think that this "hope" is exactly what a certain U.S. Presidential candidate was shooting for.  However, the only way we can truly judge a person's character is in what he has done, and the company he has kept in doing it.

Hat tip:  Instapundit/Hugh Hewitt.
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Oldthought, Newthought

Oldthought:  Global warming will turn the Midwest into an arid Dust Bowl of drought, with a climate closer to the Sun Belt than today's Rust Belt:

If global warming continues unchecked, within 100 years its impacts will significantly alter the Midwest, with the Great Lakes climate resembling that of today's Sun Belt, a panel of scientists said Tuesday.

While shorter winters and longer growing seasons might sound like improvements, the climate-change consequences on balance will largely be negative, the researchers said.

In Ohio and the other Midwest states, they likely will include worsening summertime droughts and heat waves, intensifying storms, declining water levels and purity, increasing air pollution, and a greater risk of insect- and rodent-borne diseases.

Newthought:  Climate change will turn the Midwest into a flooded boggy marsh.
Floods like those that inundated the U.S. Midwest are supposed to occur once every 500 years but this is the second since 1993, suggesting flawed forecasts that do not take global warming into account, conservation experts said on Tuesday.
Who's right?  Well, this is climate change we're talking about.  It's so marvellously complicated that only true, certified experts can say.  Because, you see, they're experts, you can tell by the Ph.D. on their business cards and the fat, lucrative government and private grants they've been getting to study the ongoing calamity which is anthropomorphic climate change.  So, of course, from the IPCC's mouth, the answer is:  Both are!  Yes, both searing drought and devestating flood are predicted by the holy and infallible computer models.

Or so they'd have you believe.

Here's (once more) what I think.  Climate changes.  Always has, always will, despite the best and worst efforts of humans.  Is "global warming" real?  Yeah, there might have been a warming period, but now appears to have peaked around 1998.  (That's ten years ago).  Is carbon dioxide responsible for that warming?  Well, to take that view, you have to explain why CO2 seems to be a lagging indicator vs. global temperature, not a leading indicator.  I'm not aware that anyone has done so.  Also, the greenhouse effect of CO2 is not linear--if you double the CO2 in the atmosphere, you do not double the contribution to heat retention--the effect diminishes as you add more CO2.

Contrary to the popular view, the question of anthropogenic global warming is not settled.  The scientific debate continues--and the side with the "consensus" is also the side that with troubling regularity refuses to reveal their data and methods to the scientific community so that both data and methods can be objectively evaluated.  There is also a troubling myopia among the true believers that carbon dioxide and only carbon dioxide can possibly explain the climate changes we have thus far experienced--this is backed up primarily by computer models which are written and tweaked so that carbon dioxide explains the climate changes we have thus far experienced.  Anybody see the problem with this?

Science isn't supposed to work by press release and Congressional hearing, but by smart guys ripping each other's data and methods to shreds, until a true view of how are world works comes into focus.  I don't think that process has finished yet regarding Earth's climate system.  Until it actually does, moving this issue from science into public policy is dangerously premature.

Finally, if global warming is real, and the climate of Kansas City becomes more like Dallas, and the climate of Sioux Falls becomes more like Wichita, I don't see a downside for society as a whole.  Yes, lots of people will have to adapt, but history reveals that people are pretty good at adapting.

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