Another dark day in the history of our Republic. Obamacare (aka ACA) has survived its second encounter with SCOTUS. In spite of the clear intent of Congress to goad states to get into the healthcare business; in spite of progressives in Congress intending the secretly composed and hastily passed healthcare law to promote an ultimate single payer system through the sequential revelation of ACA’s obvious shortcomings; in spite of ACA’s clear statement that subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance in an exchange “established by the state”; in spite of all that SCOTUS today struck that language and rewrote the law. Subsidies will be available to all, whether they signed up on state run exchanges or the fed’s disastrous healthcare.gov.
The important part that most people will miss is what SCOTUS really said with this ruling. I will spell it out, and you will read about it elsewhere later. SCOTUS said –
• We know better than Congress what it meant when crafting a law;
• No matter what Congress stated in the law, we know what the law really should have said;
• According to our liking, we have the power to re-legislate and fix laws to make them right for the nation.
It used to be that SCOTUS only adjudicated laws and their application according their concordance with the Constitution.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in a 21-page opinion. But for years the progressives in Congress have openly and often admitted that, while ACA is a flawed and incomplete approach to national healthcare, its obvious problems as they arise will give impetus to a single payer national health service to replace the ACA.
Again highlighted by SCOTUS, the legal industry has used a logic and inference process that is peculiar to itself. It is purposefully intended to be fluid and poorly understood, giving rise to ad hoc interpretations, reinterpretations, and argumentation ad infinitum so as to create and sustain a fully employed and growing priesthood that can live off the productive labors of whatever land it has been able to infect.
In the schooling and professional experience of people like me, such a system of logic would not have underpinned any successful scientific experiment or engineering project. No bridge or MRI or airplane could have been designed and built with it. No correct medical diagnosis could be based on it, no successful search of a massive database could have been conducted using it, and no contributions to our understanding of the universe would occur under its influence.
Most informed people know that our legal system is drastically broken. Today, along with secret courts, draconian federal grand juries, lawless government takings, and citizens being subjected to double or even triple jeopardies, the law industry employs a distinctly Queen of Hearts logic and semantic – words infer and mean when and what they want them to infer and mean.
That this rot today infects our highest legal institution – The Supreme Court of the United States – makes its power complete and totally extra-constitutional. With this extremely important ruling SCOTUS has set new precedence to enable it to fashion laws at will through the new provisos – never mind the language of the law, we know what Congress really meant; and if the law seems broken or as the ACA, “inadvertently poorly crafted”, then we can fix it to say what Congress should have said instead. Now we have a really supreme Supreme Court.
[update] This post would not be complete without the words of Justice Antonin Scalia who wrote the dissent to today's horrendous ruling by SCOTUS.
“This court … rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.” And this court goes through “summersaults of statutory interpretation” that lead to “the discerning truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.”
The majority opinion and ruling, including Justice Scalia’s dissent document may be accessed in its entirety here (starting on p27).
FN reports that the latest polls continue to indicate that the entire country is still not ready to embrace the ACA (or maybe we should really call it SCROTUMscare since it hits the overwhelming number of us in the shorts); anyway 50% of Americans "wish the law had never been passed", and 45% are "glad that it was".
[26jun15 update] SCOTUS is on a roll. Before discussing its ruling on gay marriages, I want to point the reader to two summaries of the Obamacare subsidies ruling that concur with my take on the lasting impact (sea change if you wish) of this decision. The abbreviated dissent by Justice Scalia is available here, and WSJ’s 26jun15 lead editorial ‘The Political John Roberts’ is available here.
So now SCOTUS has upheld “disparate impact” to enforce federal housing law in Texas Dept of Housing v. Inclusive Communities Project. “This is the legal doctrine that purports to prove racial discrimination based on different racial outcomes, such as the existence of a neighborhood with few minorities. No evidence of discriminatory intent, or actual discriminatory treatment, is required.” (more here)
Here we see writ large the progressives’ ‘equal opportunity’ as actually being ‘equal outcome’ legislation – something they have denied for decades. That this ruling abets existing racial differences and creates additional ones. Justice Thomas’ dissent cuts to the fundamentals, “To presume that these and all other measurable disparities are products of racial discrimination is to ignore the complexities of human existence.”
And finally today’s SCOTUS ruling that gay marriage is to be legal in all 50 states. First, it is interesting (but not expanded here) to see the shift in the court’s view over the last 30 years of homosexuals marrying each other. Be that as it may, RR has never opposed homosexuals entering into the exactly same, legally binding union that has been traditional for heterosexuals in their institution labeled ‘marriage’. In former times ‘I am married’ carried a distinct meaning and therefore more information when used to communicate such unions. It allowed you to unambiguously identify the relationship within a social and cultural frame. Retaining ‘marriage’ to also label homosexual unions now ambiguates ‘I am married’, requiring something like ‘I am heterosexually/homosexually married’ to transmit the same information.
Without going into the ‘slippery slope’ arguments as to who in the future can marry whom or what, it has seemed to me that expanding the language to give gays their own word for such a long-lasting, love-based union would be productive. In a previous (5apr13) post I introduced ‘garried, garriage, to garry’ to label such a union. Now I find that on 26 June 2013 this was also proposed and included in the ‘Urban Dictionary’. Go figger.
In any event, there will be much more to say about the ins and outs of garriage as regards procreation, child rearing, public accomodations (‘I now identify myself more as a woman.’), couples based social norms, and so on. But one thing is for sure, no one should ever mistake this SCOTUS as anything other than a political instrument advancing the progressive agenda for society and governance.
[27jun15 update] Ramirez is incomparable. H/T to RR reader for the image.
Late yesterday afternoon Jo Ann and I were at the annual company picnic of a recent high tech start up. It was a jolly event held in a local park with well over a hundred people in attendance – the employees brought their families and significant others, their kids were running around and bouncing in and out of an inflatable structure that made my back hurt just looking at it. The company had laid out a lavishly catered buffet and tubs of soft drinks and adult beverages. Everyone was talking about how much the company had grown since last year’s picnic, and even since the last Christmas party.
As we sat in our camping chairs with the fold-out side tables (we always take ours for reliable and comfortable seating in a choice shady spot), we mused about the scene playing out around us. This company now employs about one hundred people who are primarily young college graduates , all of them smart, with most having STEM degrees. The firm is in the financial engineering sector making new and innovative software for institutional investment advisors.
So where did all this enthusiasm and productivity come from that now pays good salaries for young workers with families, and lets them establish and advance in rewarding careers? As we looked through the crowd, we identified several employees who possibly could have started their own companies, but they didn’t. In fact, none of these young and talented people started the company which now focuses their professional lives and sustains their families. None of them would have had the idea to bring together the specific and critical elements that have made this company the success it is today.
Contrary to what we are told by socialists like President Obama, Senator Warren, and Senator Sanders (and the class warrior Hillary), these employees did not create their jobs. It was the founders of the company who envisioned how a certain new technology could be productized and introduced into an extremely competitive and sophisticated marketplace. It was these founders who effectively communicated their vision to a small group of investors (aka ‘angels’), and convinced them to accept the risks entailed in a new start-up in whose growth they would all share. But before any monies changed hands, it was also the founders who had to establish a relationship of trust with the investors, trust that included a belief that the founders were honorable, had the necessary talents, and would dedicate themselves to the project at a commensurate level of risk to themselves, their families, and their own financial futures.
As these founders became the management of the company, they worked uncounted hours, starting with a small team that also put their professional fates into a fledgling organization which at the time neither had nor could afford sufficient office space. People worked out of their homes until enough demonstrable product was developed to attract more investment and workers to warrant an adequate corporate presence. All during this time the founders were on airplanes flying to conferences and customer presentations across the country. And all this time all the other corporate functions had to be cobbled together in the right sequence and worked with an ever critical eye to controlling costs.
And as the products began to mature and be sold, more people were added to develop additional features and functions along with new products to expand the company’s footprint in the financial marketplaces. The level of risk and intensity of work did not diminish as the company grew, was nationally acknowledged, and accepted in the marketplace. During this time the company was always hiring more staff to build, sell, and maintain an expanding catalog of software that was now being used by thousands of investment professionals. In such a growth phase that continues today, a young company plows back all revenues to pay for ongoing expenses that will hopefully be covered in the future by increased sales. And the work to deliver online services to keep a growing customer cohort satisfied is an organizational and technical challenge that is known only to entrepreneurs who in the last decades have built the ecommerce infrastructure that everyone today takes for granted.
As we enjoyed our excellent BBQd chicken and tender tri-tip, and listened to the happy throng around us – many still dissecting the happenings of their work days – it was again clear to me (for this was not my first time) how this wonderful country has worked since the days of its founding. Throughout our history, all our entrepreneurs have ever wanted from their country was the running room to make real their dreams. They have always been willing to live with the inevitable yet unknown risks to their health, years spent, and their families. They have always and are still willing to take on the markets and their competitors. But in the last century, what they have come to fear most is collectivism and the heavy hands of Leviathan. Knowing this, the overwhelming numbers today would rather work for someone who will take such risks, or better yet, wiggle into the belly of the beast and work for Leviathan itself.
So when we recall those now infamous words, “You didn’t create that …!”, the audacity of the lie and its addled acceptance both saddens and enrages those who have actually created wealth and wealth producing jobs.
[This is the transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 3 June 2015.]
For weeks now we have been hearing about the need to renew the Patriot Act that has authorized the federal government to collect data on literally every phone call made in the United States. No probable cause was needed. Who you are, who and when you called, and how long you talked were all being recorded and stored by the National Security Agency. This made more than a few Americans nervous about Big Brother listening in to their private conversations. And since the government habitually lies, few believed that the actual voice content of the conversations was not also surreptitiously recorded.
Then yesterday the Associated Press announced the results of an investigation (here) they have been conducting over the last year to find out what are all those antenna and camera laden small aircraft doing circling over our cities and towns. Well, it turns out that the FBI operates its own secret air force of hundreds of light planes whose ownership is shielded under innocent looking private company names. It’s as if they don’t want you to find out that they also are recording your phone conversations and taking very high definition pictures of people from a mile up; whoda thought of that?
But the FBI is not alone. It turns out that the Drug Enforcement Agency and the US Marshalls Service have and operate their own fleets of aircraft with similarly obscured ownership. It’s a wonder that with so many hundreds of peeping toms up there, that they don’t bump into each other as they’re trying to get a better look. Now if you think that’s bad enough, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Here come the drones, small remotely operated quad-rotors and fixed wing aircraft that can be bought and flown on the cheap, each carrying appropriate sensors to see and hear what we are doing. We have become the most watched and worried over citizens of any country in the world.
Lowell Robinson RIP. A sad email from a friend this morning reported the passing last night of Lowell Robinson, one of the giants of our community. Lowell was the founder of what today we know as Robinson Enterprises, a multi-faceted business that has served Nevada County for decades. He also put his money where his mouth was as a prominent supporter of uncounted philanthropies, local educational programs, and political causes. We will miss his good humor, wisdom, and generosity.
IQ scores have been rising for decades. So we learn from the work of James Flynn, a social scientist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Since IQ is a relative or a ‘normed measure’ of intelligence represented by the bell curve in which 100 is set so as to indicate the average or mean IQ, and every ten point difference from 100 is one standard deviation, your 80 or 120 IQ respectively says that about 2.5% of the population scores lower than you, or the same percentage scores higher. But Dr Flynn reports that IQ tests have had to be made tougher over the course of the last century in order to keep the mean at 100.
IQ scores shot up in the 1920s after WW1, then plateaued, and then shot up again after WW2. Scores plateaued again in the 1970s (coincident with when Great Society education started kicking in). After picking up for a quarter century, the recent rise has again slowed down. One of the several theories to account for this ‘Flynn Effect’ is that childhoods have become longer as countries became richer during the last hundred years or so.
Several people are beginning to notice Jonathan Rauch’s (Political Realism, 2015) development of what he has labeled “transactional politics”. The left-leaning political commentator sounds almost like a conservative when he defends ‘political machines’ as the grease that keeps the wheels of government turning, and not grinding to a halt as seems to be the current propensity of Washington. He observes that “American government may be less corrupt. But it also has more difficulty getting anything done.” One of his nostrums includes reinstatement of ‘earmarks’ as the currency which allowed (motivated?) politicians to wheel and deal and then compromise in getting major legislation through Congress. I’ll have more to say about Rauch’s thoughts in a future post on our government’s sclerotic corruption, a dysfunction that is now beyond the tipping point as also analyzed by Charles Murray (By the People, 2015).
We again gratefully contemplate the terrible price paid by those who gave their all so that America may remain the land of opportunity and the home of the free. The words and photo from Memorial Day - 30 May 2011 still apply.
Thought I’d inject a little braggadocio for some of our county’s STEM elite young people. This morning we celebrated the winners of the TechTest2015 at the annual TechTest Survivors’ Breakfast held at Tofanelli’s in Grass Valley. TT2015 was the ninth presentation of this grueling four-hour merit scholarship exam (which you can inspect or try your hand at here) given on 11 April 2015. The test sponsored by the Sierra Economics and Science Foundation with its scholarship fund counting among its contributors Nevada City Rotary Club, Telestream, Riskalyze, Nevada County Republican Women Federated, and various private individuals.
SESF ED Russ Steele opened our little feast attended by test takers and their parents. Director Mike McDaniel was the master of ceremonies, and NUHS physics teacher John McDaniel, who heads the TechTest Academic Committee that administers and grades the test, gave some pithy insights as to how this year's test takers attacked various problems. As SESF Director of Research, it is my privilege to write the test and conduct the winter preparatory seminars for test takers. The top three scores were earned by Casper Hendrickson, Aaron Van Doren, and Ryan Crenshaw pictured on the right. On the left wearing their Survivors’ t-shirts are the other scholarship winners attending the breakfast (save the chubby old guy on the end). Again it was a lively and festive affair with everyone sharing their plans for further study and careers. Hats go off to the parents for raising this outstanding crop of arrows that we now launch into our country’s future.
And for completeness, TechTestJr2015 will be given tomorrow at NUHS to eighth graders from various county middle schools. This exam intends to motivate the younger students to take STEM subjects in high school. Also sponsored by SESF, it is now in its fourth year. It awards prizes for high scorers consisting of electronics and other technology related kits for assembly and study.
This afternoon the Nevada County Supervisors heard a presentation on the State of Jefferson by the movement's local steering committee. It was followed by public comment from both pro and con residents of our county. I made the following statement during the public comment segment.
I too want to thank you for hearing from the State of Jefferson steering committee. I am a proponent of advancing this historical experiment in constitutional self-government. It is indisputable that the voices and values of rural counties have been largely ignored in many state houses. Until recently these counties have been resigned to their second class status by staying the same ol’ same ol’ course. But to more of us, continuing to follow Rodney King’s appeal to ‘just get along’ brings to mind a famous man’s definition of insanity.
We realize that today the SoJ movement is still new, not well understood, and therefore opposed by more than the usual collectivists whose historical aim has always been to increase the size of Leviathan under which we labor today. For them the creation of smaller and more like-minded jurisdictions such as SoJ is counter to the global unification goal they hold dear.
It also appears that our Nevada County government staff has taken a strong stand against SoJ by suggesting that when compared to other so-called SoJ counties in northern California, our county stands out as the best while still ‘working together with’ Sacramento. However, to me the staff’s data tables tell a different and more illuminating tale. Historically these rural counties have enjoyed productive economies based on agriculture, timber, mining, and recreation. But that was before Washington and Sacramento unleashed their massive bureaucratic assault, enforcing on them versions of dubious and scientifically unsupported bromides that promise to save the environment and stop manmade global warming.
Today the years of buckling under diktats from the likes of the EPA, CARB, Water Resources Board, and other government agencies have devastated the region’s economies and resulted in the dire statistics that our county staff has assembled. Nevada County’s placement at the top of that sorry heap has less to do with any bounty from Sacramento, than with our fortunate proximity to a large urban corridor, and our historical but now diminishing industrial base. In short, the data you have been presented is simply a detailed epitaph in the making for rural counties that have gone along to get along with Leviathan, only to reap a dismal reward for their cooperation.
To my mind the only remaining viable alternative to SoJ is our joining or even leading the growing national movement to restore ‘permissionless innovation’ by simply adopting ‘Just Say NO!’ as a response to insane and inane regulations. As a fortuitous coincidence, today is the release date of By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission from the celebrated political scientist and sociologist Charles Murray. This book is a ‘how to’ manual for America’s small businesses and political jurisdictions going viral to effectively resist and turn back regulations which are “pointless, stupid, and tyrannical”. It contains a detailed plan of how Americans can start saying NO!, one regulation at a time. And in the event you missed Murray’s nationally published essay on the subject this weekend, I will gladly email you the link. Gentlemen, I suggest that change for the better is afoot across this land.
Finally, all the arguments against SoJ rest on stasist projections. Stasism is the belief that we can see tomorrow only through the lens of current practices kept rigidly unchanged. Its corollary is ‘if it hasn't been done, it can't be done’. But proponents of the State of Jefferson believe that in this most exceptional country the world has ever seen, the new and the never-been-tried has always served as a beacon to innovation, enterprise, and in the end, a better life. Thank you.
Gov Jerry Brown demonstrated to many of us that he has entered his dotage. The man called Sen Ted Cruz “unfit for office” for no other reason than the senator’s rejecting the politicized consensus of manmade global warming to which Moonbeam added that the same scientists now blame current weather events on a roundly rejected long-term prediction that clearly contradicts what we observe daily.
Sgt Bergdahl has been found culpable of desertion in an investigation headed by a two-star general conducted over the last year. A three-star next in line has reviewed the findings and has found them to be sufficient to indict a man who spent five years with the Taliban, and then was retrieved through the release of five raghead combat commanders. We expect him to be court-martialed and sent to Leavenworth for the rest of his life. However, there will be no reprieve for those who gave their lives searching for Bergdahl, and those yet to sacrifice theirs when these commanders are repatriated by the Taliban. The shame of the whole affair lies with our leadership who should have left Bergdahl with his new Muslim comrades to demonstrate his allegiance by either joining their fight or making good his escape.
Well, we have finally led the Saudis from behindto take the initiative and assemble a coalition of ten nations (excluding the US) to strike the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Houthi have driven out the legitimate Yemeni government backed by both the Saudis and touted by Obama as proof positive that his anti-terror policies were working. But when his latest of big lies was exposed by the rapid and unexpected rebel attacks, our Community Organizer in Chief ordered the Marines guarding our embassy in San’a to lay down their weapons in exchange for safe passage high-tailing it out of the country with our diplomatic staff. In days gone by the Marines would have fought to hold the embassy until one of our nearby assault task force units got there to explain the matter to the Houthis. But those days are gone at least until January 2017.
[26mar15 update]Growing hundreds of dollars of almonds for thousands of dollars of water. That is another quiet result of government’s misallocation of water subsidies. That data is presented in Mother Jones (more here). It turns out that in more open and competitive markets resources are automatically allocated so that the cost of the finished products is minimized. But even small subsidies tend to cause major misallocations of such input resources – water in California is an example of that in spades. H/T to reader for this.
The wonders of smartphones. Fred and Margie Buhler make up part of our ‘road warriors’ party. They are known to Nevada County residents for their long years of supporting community causes. Fewer know that they are also expert photogs, and take marvelous pictures on their many travels. Last night Fred emailed me the nearby photo he took a few hours before on a walk here in the Arizona desert. He took it with his new iPhone6, and I was blown away by the result. The actual picture is even better than what you see here since I decimated the resolution for this post, but you get the idea what can be done with the smartphone in your pocket, especially if you know ‘how to paint with light’.
IWD was launched in 1917 by the American Socialist Party to oppose the war and support nascent communist movements across Europe. Their message of ‘bread and peace' was later attributed by Leon Trotsky as the real start of the communist and socialist revolutions. The underlying message to attract ideologically vanilla people was social justice for women, it’s upshot being that under socialism women would do better and be more equal than under capitalism.
Well, it hasn’t turned out to be that way despite that the IWD celebrations to this day continue spreading the lies that launched the movement. A. Davies and J. Harrigan write (‘For Gender Equality, You Can’t Beat Capitalism’) that “socialist leaders used International Women’s Day ostensibly to highlight their commitment to gender equity. Yet contrary to its socialist origins, more than 100 years of evidence since the first International Women’s Day suggests that free markets are the single best solution to inequity, gender or otherwise.”