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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Paul Krugman, "The Big Kludge": Or What Happens When a Community Organizer Becomes President

Do you think Apple or General Electric would ever consider appointing a charismatic community organizer with no managerial experience as their CEO? I don't think so, because their boards of directors would be wise enough to know that any such appointment would likely lead to chaos within their companies.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Big Kludge" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/28/opinion/krugman-the-big-kludge.html?_r=0), Paul Krugman ponders why America doesn't simply offer free medical insurance to all Americans. Krugman writes:

"Of course, we don’t have to imagine such a system, because it already exists. It’s called Medicare, it covers all Americans 65 and older, and it’s enormously popular. So why didn’t we just extend that system to cover everyone?

The proximate answer was politics: Medicare for all just wasn’t going to happen, given both the power of the insurance industry and the reluctance of workers who currently have good insurance through their employers to trade that insurance for something new. Given these political realities, the Affordable Care Act was probably all we could get — and make no mistake, it will vastly improve the lives of tens of millions of Americans.

Still, the fact remains that Obamacare is an immense kludge — a clumsy, ugly structure that more or less deals with a problem, but in an inefficient way."

Hmm. "Make no mistake, [Obamacare] will vastly improve the lives of tens of millions of Americans"? In fact, Krugman is correct: Obamacare could ultimately improve the lives of tens of millions of Americans, but at the cost of tens of millions to other Americans, unless that cost is simply added to America's national debt, which is currently over $17 trillion and rising by the second.

Medicare and Medicaid are popular? For sure, but they are also plagued by fraud. As stated in a Forbes article entitled "Medicare And Medicaid Fraud Is Costing Taxpayers Billions" (http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2012/05/31/medicare-and-medicaid-fraud-is-costing-taxpayers-billions/2/) by Merrill Matthews:

"How much Medicare and Medicaid fraud is there? No one knows for sure. In 2010 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report claiming to have identified $48 billion in what it termed as 'improper payments.' That’s nearly 10 percent of the $500 billion in outlays for that year. However, others, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, suggest that there is an estimated $60 to $90 billion in fraud in Medicare and a similar amount for Medicaid."

Yes, there is an ongoing problem involving the manner in which the US government has tackled health care issues.

But back to Krugman, who concludes his op-ed piece by declaring:

"A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn’t have to be that way."

Big government doesn't have to be "bad"? Possibly, but Obama is certainly doing his best to prove the opposite. As observed by Kathleen Parker in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "The White House Comedy Club" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-the-white-house-comedy-club/2013/10/25/4765e700-3db2-11e3-b6a9-da62c264f40e_story.html?hpid=z3):

"We reportedly eavesdrop on our allies and force citizens to buy insurance through a system we can’t manage. We concoct character-smearing rumors and attach them to our political adversaries. And that’s just the executive branch. Most important, we have damaged our bonds of trust with nations we need to keep as friends.

Any one of the above would make for a very bad week in governance. Combined, they suggest an uncomfortable conclusion to the world we purport to lead: The lights are flickering in the city on the hill, and our ship of state is foundering."

And as noted by Jackson Diehl in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Foreign policy based on fantasy" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jackson-diehl-foreign-policy-based-on-fantasy/2013/10/27/cfd74b06-3cc2-11e3-a94f-b58017bfee6c_story.html?hpid=z3):

"Israel and Saudi Arabia worry that Obama will strike a deal with Iran that frees it from sanctions without entirely extirpating its capacity to enrich uranium — leaving it with the potential to produce nuclear weapons. But more fundamentally, they and their neighbors are dismayed that the United States appears to have opted out of the regional power struggle between Iran and its proxies and Israel and the Arab states aligned with the United States. It is the prospect of waging this regional version of the Cold War without significant U.S. support that has prompted Saudi leaders to hint at a rupture with Washington — and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to talk more publicly than ever about Israel’s willingness to act alone."

Yes, Obama's Middle East policy has spawned antagonism from traditional American allies and chaos throughout the region. It is no accident that an al-Qaeda affiliate caused the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians in Iraq over the past two months (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/car-bombs-kill-scores-in-baghdad-in-sign-of-crisis-in-iraq/2013/10/27/7ae9c376-3cb3-11e3-b7ba-503fb5822c3e_story.html?hpid=z1). Yup, we're talking about that same al-Qaeda, which, according to Obama while campaigning for reelection in 2012, was "decimated" and "on the run" (see: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/9/intel-clashes-obamas-election-year-al-qaeda-claims/?page=all).

Bush was responsible for the mess in Iraq? I agree, but what does that matter five years into the Obama administration? Let's not forget who was responsible for escalating America's inane, boots-on-the-ground involvement in Afghanistan.

Big government does not necessarily have to be bad? I agree. But when big government is managed by a community organizer with no management experience, don't expect things to go right.

Instead, expect "I didn't do it," or its variant, "I didn't know about it." (Ask Jay Carney for a copy of the White House transcript of Obama's recent conversation with Merkel in which Obama tried to explain away US eavesdropping on Merkel's cell phone.)

Expect the "Big Kludge."

2 comments:

  1. It's quite possible that a community organizer with no managerial experience would have done a better job than the CEO's of Enron, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Bothers, AIG and many other failed US corporations. Even those companies with exemplary boards of directors missed the early warning signs.

    Do you think Israelis would vote for someone who would cave into the demands of hostile foreign governments by releasing 26 convicted Palestinian murderers without getting any concrete commitments towards peace in return?
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4446241,00.html

    Do you think they would vote for a Finance Minister who struggled with learning disabilities, dropped out of
    high school, never earned a bagrut (high school matriculation certificate) and had no prior experience in politics?

    In short,'Sheepeople' love false messiahs so long as they're attractive, smile, shake lots of hands, kiss babies and begin every second sentence with the words "I promise to...".

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  2. Hey ...
    There is Medicaire and Medicaid fraud (and it should be curbed), however, the real problem is .... with private insurance.
    In 2007, the chief genius of my insurance company (United which ate my Oxford) "made" 1.6 billion. If I understand it correctly, nobody investigated the deaths of those whose medical care was denied. This was when I started to receive "intelligent" letters asking me to go and see my doctors, because they were for preventive medicine. Nice. Well, not really. These letters were followed by other letters which informed me that my insurance company will cover the entire 0% of the cost of medical care they sent me to. No, I am not making this up.
    Each time I had to call and ask politely: "Are you nuts?" I still have the letters.
    I am sure that this chief genius just deserves his billions, but I am not sure about the rest. Some excesses of insurance reality have been trimmed, but, frankly, the main problem with Obamacare idiocy is the wrong path - it should have been a single payer system.

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