Friday, November 15, 2013

Bloomberg, Obama, Health, and Capriciousness

Now, I am not a lawyer, but …

The most recent exception Obama has announced to his eponymous law is a bit troubling. While it is certainly true that the executive branch has the discretion to decide whether or not to enforce a particular law against a particular person, it is also true that laws should be written so that ordinary citizens can easily understand their import.

In the case of the ACA, so many loopholes and exceptions have been created and granted that no reasonable person can have any assurance that any part of the law will be effectual either now or in the future – and every assurance that the law will be unevenly enforced, depending on the whims and velleities of the administration.

This reminds me of the decision of Milton Tingling in striking down Nanny Bloomberg’s soda ban: one of the reasons he found the law invalid was that it was “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences.” (PDF) Does that not describe Obamacare as well?

I should think, therefore, that an enterprising lawyer could argue that the entire law should be struck down as unconstitutionally vague.

Any lawyers out there?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How Obama should explain Obamacare

There’s a obvious way to explain the fact that Obamacare has led to the cancellation of millions of health insurance policies, so I thought I’d give our President a helpful tip. Here’s what he should say:

I understand that many of you have had your policies cancelled, are upset that new policies under the ACA will cost you more than you were previously pay, and cannot afford the increased premiums.

Let me be clear: No one feels your pain more deeply than I.

However, you are, perhaps, missing some of the benefits of the ACA. Sure, it probably will be more expensive than your present plan, but you’ll get a lot more for your money. Besides, the biggest health problem facing America is obesity; so, if you just cut down on the amount of food you buy, not only will you be able to afford your new health care, but you’ll eat less and thus be at far less risk for obesity-related diseases.

This will, in the final analysis, save both you and your country a great deal of money. You should thank me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why don't we just skip all the fighting and declare defeat now?

Let me see if I can get the logic straight here:
  1. “In part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action, as well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin” … the international community will pressure Syria to give up chemical weapons.
  2. Because the “credible threat of U.S. military action” was so important in achieving this (potential) diplomatic breakthrough, “I have, therefore, asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path.”
  3. Therefore, while we needed the threat of force to get on the “diplomatic path,” that threat is not necessary in order to assure that we keep moving down that path. But Assad will understand that the U.S. can renew that threat at any moment – and Congress will surely go along.
  4. Or, more likely, Obama cannot convince even the members of his own party in the Senate to authorize a military strike, so he's avoiding a catastrophic political/foreign policy defeat. Gosh, it's a good thing Putin and Assad are too dim to figure this out!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Wow -- a cogent criticism

So – a commenter mentioned that it would be worthwhile to mention where in Religio Medici my little quotation comes from: It's Section XXIV of Part I. Widely available on line; I like Bartleby.

Sir Thomas Browne and demosclerosis

The august Instapundit links today to Mickey Kaus’s discussion of Walter Russell Mead, which leads to links to discussions of demosclerosis, a term invented by Jonathan Rauch in Demosclerosis: The Silent Killer of American Government (1994).

Basically, the idea is that the government is too big and does too much, so too many people are invested in and lobby for particular government programs, causing the true commonweal to be ignored.

But this is not a new problem. It happens in all large systems. For instance, in his Religio Medici (1643), Sir Thomas Browne wrote

Tis not a melancholy Utinam of my own, but the desires of better heads, that there were a general Synod; not to unite the incompatible difference of Religion, but for the benefit of learning, to reduce it as it lay at first, in a few and solid Authors; and to condemn to the fire those swarms and millions of Rhapsodies, begotten only to distract and abuse the weaker judgements of Scholars, and to maintain the trade and mystery of Typographers.

As a quondam typographer, I’ve long liked this sentiment. I have, more than once, added to the “swarms and millions of Rhapsodies” – books which, I can only hope, were never read and, if read, not remembered.

Of course, now there is hardly any typography left … and don't get me started on copy-editing and proofreading.

To return to my point: Let us reduce, not learning, but the Federal law “as it lay at first,” stripping from it that legislation which serves “only to distract and abuse the weaker judgements” of lawyers, judges, politicians, and pundits.

Monday, January 7, 2013

You didn't build that; you can't shoot that

I should begin by confessing that I do not own any firearms. I do, however, own two target bows, and, six weeks after I picked up my first real bow, I placed 50th in the NCAA nationals (then Title IX killed Men's Archery at my college *sigh*). And when I do go to a shooting range, I do tolerably well -- shooting is shooting, after all: though the mechanics change, the mind is the same.

However, my wife just got her rifle and pistol permits from the State of New Jersey ...

Reading the arguments for gun control, I was struck by a powerful sense of déjà vu. They are very similar to the Obama economic policy, which is aimed first to belittle and then to prevent unapproved entrepreneurial activity. Your economic role is, preferably, to be an employee or client of the government; failing that, you should do non-profit work; or work for a creative or academic industry; or, if nothing else fits, work for an approved large corporation (GM, Goldman Sachs, Solyndra, etc.).

If you insist on working for yourself, following your own ideas, then you will be punished -- first by thousands upon thousands of pages of Federal regulations, then by the tax code, and, finally, if you get through those, by societal disapprobation. (See, e.g., the roles of businessmen in Hollywood movies.)

In other words, the Obama doctrine has no room for people doing their own thing in the marketplace -- only in the bedroom. The marketplace must be carefully controlled, for everyone's mutual well-being, by the government and its "Gleichschaltung" businesses.

Similarly, so must violence be controlled: Just as you have no business coming up with your own ideas for economic activity, you have no business defending yourself. If you are accosted by a violent criminal, your only approved option is to call the police. If they somehow fail to arrive in time (when seconds count, the police are only minutes away), then it is your duty to die.

Unapproved defence, like unapproved business, can only lead to societal chaos.