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Monday, August 31, 2009

"Medical Tourism"

Mike Zemack LaFerrara of OActivists recently noted:
The 8/29/09 NJ Star-Ledger’s lead editorial discusses the emerging practice of Americans going overseas for surgery and other medical care when it is of decent quality and much less expensive. Though they don’t use the term, this has been called "medical tourism". They claim it’s an indictment of our health care system, but won’t acknowledge that it is really an indictment of American medical statism.
Mike replied to the editorial, and both the editorial and his response can be found here. I obtained permission from him to reprint his response below which I thought provides a very succinct overview of the health care debate along with the general solution. Here is his reply:

Also called "medical tourism", the Star-Ledger hints at what free markets create - competitive conditions under which "patients can receive quality care at lower costs". But the editors don't draw the obvious lesson from their own observations. Instead, the Ledger exposes a gross fraud being put over on the American people by the Left during this health care debate...that the only choice we face is between the status quo and complete socialized medicine. What's missing from this false choice is the third option - the only real antipode to the two choices cited above - a free market in health care. In this, the Left is all too often aided and abetted by conservatives and Republicans who, as the editors point out, merely defend "the world's greatest health system."

Ours does have its strengths. It is still the freest, making America the engine of innovation. If it weren't for America's market, cutting edge medical technology research would dry up, both here and abroad.

But the fact is, our "sick" American health care system is a government created monstrosity. Nearly 50% of health care spending is by government, through programs like Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, and a host of smaller state-level carbon copies...socialism. Nearly 40% of the spending is through the allegedly "free" part - the quasi-private, government created, government regulated, and government protected cartel of health insurance companies. The third-party-payer system and the state-imposed trade barriers protect them from nationwide competition as well as the necessity of having to compete directly for the consumer's business. Hundreds of government-imposed insurance mandates (nearly 2000 nationwide, from community rating to guaranteed issue to benefit) have turned "insurance" policies into pre-paid wealth redistribution schemes. Our government-crippled insurance market has turned private insurers into conduits for government coercion. This is not indicative of a free market, but is in the nature of fascism...i.e., socialism through the back door. This double- barreled government assault on medicine creates huge and unnecessary administrative expenses, empowers government and insurance company bureaucrats, disrupts the patient/doctor relationship, drives up costs, disconnects the patient from the providers, etc.

The problems in American medicine have grown in lock step with the growth of government intervention over the past 75 years. Any honest and objective health care reform debate must begin with an examination of how we got to this point to begin with. That is not what is happening. Instead, we get defenders of the semi-socialist, semi- fascist, semi-free status quo ... against those advocating more government control and/or outright nationalization masquerading as "reform". We get statists on each side, while the freedom alternative gets no major party sponsorship.

The only real alternative to all of the above is a free market. Instead of everyone being forced to pay for everyone else's health care, whether through government-run programs or government- controlled "private" insurers, people should be free to assume responsibility for their own health care with their own money. Insurers and providers should be free to compete directly for the consumers' business. A free market leaves patients, providers, consumers, and insurers free to contract voluntarily with each other to mutual advantage, based upon the principle of individual rights, without the kind of massive government coercion noted above. The absence of physical force is the hallmark of a free market. That is what the "free" in free market means. The government's only job, but an important one, is to protect against fraud and breech of contract, and to mediate legitimate contractual disputes.

The natural incentives of a free market ... the consumer seeking good value and the provider seeking expanded sales ... have been proven both in theory and practice to lead to increasing quality and ever- expanding affordability. Health care is more valuable and needed than most other products and services, but it is no different in the most basic fundamental respect ... it is man-made. As such, the same laws of economics apply to medicine as to any other economic sector. Most importantly, a free market is the only moral solution, because it forbids the predatory practice of people seeking to force others to provide for them what they perceive to be their "right" to health care.

Instead, everyone is guaranteed their unalienable rights to their own life, liberty, and pursuit of their own health care (and happiness).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Welcome to the U.S. Congress, 0 A.T.K.

Apparently, Kennedy's death marks the end of a political era. Given the sycophantic hysteria being displayed by the liberal media, I recommend we christen a new historical epoch: A.T.K. or "After Ted Kennedy". Let's kick off the new epoch with some astonishing quotes (and a song) which should make you desperate to truly be at the end of this era.

Here, Ed Klein, former foreign editor of Newsweek and former editor-in-chief of The New York Times Magazine, discusses how Kennedy used to joke about Chappaquiddick:

One of his favorite topics of humor was, indeed, Chappaquiddick itself...

I mean that is just the most amazing thing - not that he didn't feel remorse about the death of Mary Jo Kopechne - but that he still always saw the other side of everything and the ridiculous side of things too.

Yeah, what a guy. Incidentally, here is a sickening synopsis of what happened that night. (HT: Harold). I doubt you will be "guffawing" after you listen to this "side" of things.

Here, at a townhall meeting, LA congresswoman Rep. Diane Watson (D), praises Castro and the Cuban Revolution saying:

You can think whatever you want to about Fidel Castro -but he was one of the brightest leaders I have ever met - and you know the Cuban revolution that kicked out the wealthy - Che Guevara did that - and then after they took over they went out among the population to find someone who could lead this new nation and they found - well, just leave it there [laughs] -they found an attorney by the name of Fidel Castro.

First, I'd like to see her go to Miami and give that speech. Second, don't you need wealthy people to rob if you are a socialist? She should ask that question to all of the surviving Cuban refugees who for some reason left their "bright" dictator behind.

But, not to worry. The Republicans will save us. Here is the song that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) wrote and dedicated to his buddy, Ted, titled "Headed Home". If you can listen to more than 8 seconds of this - you have my respect and sympathy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

In Memoriam - an Anti-American

Ted Kennedy stood for everything that America is not - which is precisely why he is being posthumously lionized by the liberal media.

America's Founding Fathers fought an intellectual and military battle against the very concept of monarchy - the idea of inherited political power. Americans rebelled against the notion that they were feudal serfs to be herded like chattel by the decrees of some aristocratic tyrant. As Jefferson said:
"We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain forever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."
The Founders recognized that rights are the inalienable possession of every individual and that government derives its power from the just consent of the people. Morally, the legacy of the America Revolution is the legacy of individualism. Throughout our history, the symbol of America has been the self-made man - the independent producer freely pursuing his values neither sacrificing for others nor sacrificing others to himself. Indeed, the moral and political battle for individualism represents the very essence of the American Revolution and is the foundation of the American spirit.

What did Ted Kennedy stand for?

Ted was born into a family overseen by the politically ambitious and connected patriarch, Joseph Kennedy. Joseph worked behind the scenes, using his fortune and political connections to get his son John elected to the Senate and ultimately, the Presidency. After Ted was expelled from Harvard for cheating on an exam, he enlisted in the military where this time, "his father's political connections ensured he was not deployed to the ongoing Korean War." Riding the coat tails of his popular brother and the pseudo-prestige of the Kennedy family, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962.

And what did this magnificent specimen achieve while in the Senate?

In 1969, after leaving a party, Teddy's passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, was killed when he drove off a bridge. Kennedy ignominiously and criminally left the scene and "did not call authorities until after Kopechne's body was discovered the following day." He then used his political connections to allow for a "secret inquest" into the "Chappaquiddick incident" after which he was not indicted.

Kennedy used his other 50 years in the Senate to fulfill the Kennedy family's dream of doggedly avoiding the slightest shred of productive activity while promoting policies to strangle and loot the productive members of society. Kennedy's body of "work" in the Senate is a pean to the liberal values of statist control and wealth redistribution excepting, of course, his own. Apparently, he considered his "lifework" to be his efforts on behalf of socialized medicine, and, fittingly, Obama's statist monstrosity has now been renamed in his honor. Those that value freedom and individual rights can only hope that this vicious bill will suffer a similar fate.

Indeed, Kennedy's second-handed prestige, derived from an aristocratic life of pull peddling and power lust, represents everything America is not. If there is one symbol that needs to be overtly and permanently excised from the American political consciousness, it is the wistful notion of a Kennedy "Camelot" - the notion that the incestuous venality of aristocracy and the anti-American concept of monarchy should ever be revered in this nation of individuals.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Waiting Under Socialized Medicine

Another day, another socialized medicine horror story and another ominous preview of what is to come under Obamacare. The Daily Mail reports that in the UK:

Thousands of women are having to give birth outside maternity wards because of a lack of midwives and hospital beds.

The lives of mothers and babies are being put at risk as births in locations ranging from lifts to toilets - even a caravan - went up 15 per cent last year to almost 4,000.

Health chiefs admit a lack of maternity beds is partly to blame for the crisis, with hundreds of women in labour being turned away from hospitals because they are full.

Of course, as facts and reason unequivocally demonstrate, socialized medicine must lead to spiraling costs, shortages, rationing, and declining quality. It is a fact of nature just the same as gravity or electromagnetism. I have previously argued that ultimately, the real problem underlying this issue is not the minutia of Obama's monstrous thousand page bill but the inability to think in principle [1, 2,3]. If one thinks in principle, it is clear that the disastrous results of socialized medicine can be seen as a concrete example of a larger principle - the principle that socialism is immoral and impractical and leads to chaos, misery, and tyranny. And, yes, medicine is a service like education, mail delivery, or carpet cleaning. With this in mind, two quotes from this article stand out. First,

Jon Skewes, a director at the Royal College of Midwives, said: 'The rise in the number of births in other than a designated labour bed is a concern. We would want to see the detail behind these figures to look at why this is happening.

This statement represents pure pragmatism, or the total rejection of thinking in principle in favor of "experience". Such a statement follows directly from modern philosophy which rejects the absolutism of reason in favor of pragmatism. Pragmatism reduces man to the level of an animal, rendering him unable to make even the simplest generalization. Consequently, Mr. Skewes is intellectually paralyzed. The facts before him are not enough (because it is never enough), and he yearns for even more "detail." And since he can not think in principle, what is he likely to conclude from his observation of this "detail"? Do you think he has the ability to grasp that the ultimate solution is to scrap socialized medicine and return to a free market in health care which ethics and the science of economics proves will be moral and practical? Quoting:

'There is no doubt that maternity services are stretched, and that midwives are working harder and harder to provide good quality care.

However, we know the Government is putting more money into the service. 'The key now is to make sure this money is spent by the people controlling the purse strings at a local level.'

To a pragmatist, making sure the money is spent by people at the "local level" appears to be the "key". Incidentally, such an idea is not only abstractly similar to what the Obama supporters tell us, it is literally equivalent to Obama's claim that the key to his plan is cutting "wasteful" spending. This topic is the subject of an excellent editorial by Amit Ghate titled Misconstruing the Cause of Waste. Ghate argues that fundamentally, "government is the source of waste — not its solution." Why is this always true? Ghate writes:

The ramifications to waste are threefold. First, by prohibiting certain activities, government eliminates competition. For example, private companies like FedEx are legally barred from competing with the Postal Service — creating that paragon of efficiency, the USPS. Next, because it can confiscate our money to pay its bills, government has little incentive to control costs. Should it overpay for services, salaries, or pensions, government simply takes more from helpless taxpayers. Finally, because the government has usurped their prerogatives, individuals no longer decide what is worthwhile and what isn’t. Government forcibly disconnects the decision of what’s valuable from the people who actually pay for the values.

Consider one last quote from this article that represents an underlying premise of socialism which never ceases to amaze me: the myth of the omnipotent Central Planner. This is the idea that a handful of government bureaucrats know better than millions of individuals who coordinate their decisions based on free market price signals. Quoting:

Care services minister Phil Hope said: 'The number of maternity beds in the NHS reflects the number of women wanting to give birth in hospital. Giving birth can be unpredictable and it is difficult to plan for the exact time and place of every birth.[emphasis mine]

Really - giving birth is "unpredictable"? Is it as unpredictable as how many people will buy pizza, shoes, or computers? Somehow, those businesses know how much to make (and they can't even use the nine month rule...). Hope is right that "planning" is difficult which is exactly why it should not be left up to government bureaucrats who are motivated by politics and not profit. As Beth Haynes stated in The Fatigue of Central Planning:

A market economy is the result of an uncountable number of individual decisions and actions, coordinated through price signals which provide crucial information on the availability of every imaginable resource. Profit and loss calculations provide essential feedback on the relative efficiency with which a multitude of producers use those recourse to meet the needs and desires of an even larger number individual consumers.

Central planning consistently fails because it is impossible for a small number of individuals, let alone one man, to obtain the requisite information, create the necessary plans and subsequently attempt to implement them.

Or, as Dr. Reisman stated in A Word to Environmentalists:

More fundamentally, what is the appropriate method for Man to use in dealing with Nature in general? Is it the motivated and coordinated human intelligence of all individual market participants that is provided by a free market and its price system? Or is it the unmotivated, discoordinated chaos in which one man, the Supreme Dictator, or a handful of men, the Supreme Dictator and his fellow members of the Central Planning Board, claim a monopoly on human intelligence and on the right to make fundamental decisions?

Mr. Hope continues:

'Local health services have plans to ensure high quality, personal care with greater choice over place of birth and care provided by a named midwife.

So, why are women giving birth in elevators and toilets? Anyway, what is his plan? Quoting:

'We recognise that some parts of the country face particular challenges due to the rising birth rate and that is why last year we pledged to increase funding for maternity by £330million over three years.

'We now have more maternity staff than ever before and we have already met our target to recruit 1,000 extra midwives by September.' [emphasis mine]

In other words, after over one hundred years of facts and evidence from dozens of countries that have experienced first hand the stagnation, misery, chaos, and tyranny (or in Hope's newspeak, "challenges") of socialism, Mr. Hope believes that this time - he will make it work.

I do not need to wait for more detail to know how this will turn out, but unfortunately, for those living under socialized medicine, they will have to wait.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Finally, A Viable Solution: RI gov to shut down state government

In the face of bankruptcy,
Rhode Island will shut down its state government for 12 days and hopes to trim millions of dollars in funding for local governments under a plan Gov. Don Carcieri outlined Monday to balance a budget hammered by surging unemployment and plummeting tax revenue.

...Critical workers such as state police, prison guards and child abuse investigators still will report to work during the shutdown", Carcieri said.

What's amusing to me is that this is regarded as a crisis. What else should the state be doing except these "critical" functions? The only problem I see with this plan is it lasts only 12 days.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Who Are The Real "Masters of Deception"?

The theme of some recent posts [1, 2] has been related to the left's view that the vehement opposition to Obama's socialist policies has no validity. My posts attempted to analyze and debunk leftist claims that these protesters are nothing but a "misinformed mob" being "manufactured" by conservative "masters of deception" and the health insurance lobby.

As a follow up to these posts, I offer some more concrete evidence and some worthwhile links.

Perhaps the most striking demonstration of my point comes from
New York Times op-ed columinst Charles M. Blow who states:
They [the conservatives] have started Operation Master and Slaves of Deception — cooking up scary, outlandish claims about the plan and feeding them to a desperate base, eager to believe the worst about the man they loathe the most, President Obama.

Conservatives are now on fertile ground. Still enraged by the ignominy of having been trounced, they are most likely feeling marginalized, ignored and afraid. For them, it has been less about clarifying health care reform and more about a clarion call to resistance.
In conclusion, does he attempt to rebut this "deception" using a logical, reasoned argument to demonstrate how Obama's plan will "work" and to answer his oppositions' rational argument that a complete government takeover of medicine will lead to rationing, shortages, and waiting lines amid stifling bureacracy, spiraling costs, and declining quality - as the laws of economics and evidence from every country that has ever tried it unequivocally demonstrate? As expected, Blow offers text-book modern pragmatism:

The conservatives are never going to play ball... Most important, this two-year window may be the only time Democrats can push through reform without Republican support.

The time is now. Just do it.

It can be seen in yet another piece, Analysis: Health overhaul tactics need overhaul written by Steven Hurst, that factual and logical arguments against Obama's plan are not even on the left's radar. He quotes Robin Lauermann, professor of politics at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa.:
"The people don't have sufficient information, and I'm surprised the administration and others backing reform haven't done much more to educate the public"
It never occurs to them that people might have more than sufficient "information". As always, the left casually claims that the idiot American's just need to be "educated" and kept from being conditioned by the conservative Masters of Deception. Quoting Hurst:
The lack of one specific piece of legislation for the president to sell has opened the door for opponents inside and outside government to heap unfounded allegations on the reform process.
First, note the use of "reform" which I analyzed here. Again, the left blurs the meaning of this term by conflating "efforts at improvement" (reform) with their own false view of what constitutes "improvement" ("socialism"). Second, in what sense are the "allegations" of the protesters "unfounded"? Concerns over socialism are predicated on over two hundred years of moral, political, and economic facts and reasoning which unequivocally demonstrate that socialism represents an immoral violation of individual rights and leads in practice to misery, suffering, and tyranny.

Hurst then characterizes Palin's now famous "death panel" claim to be an "outrageous" "scare tactic". Stephen Borque offers an indirect rebuttal of Hurst's claim in this excellent
post at One Reality arguing that "death panels" is actually a perfectly appropriate term to characterize Obama's plan. Quoting Borque:
It is not a misrepresentation to call an all-powerful government board that controls access to health services a “death panel.” It is a perfectly apt label. What else shall we call a central committee of bureaucrats who make “recommendations” that must be obeyed, meting out from a dwindling pile of loot (dwindling, because the American health industry will be choked to death; loot, because it is paid for by the seized earnings of citizens and the virtual enslavement of medical professionals) every treatment, therapy, medicine, test, doctor visit, and hospital stay? What better than “death panel” could capture the meaning of a council of wise government officials who sit around a table deciding who gets what health care, like the Three Fates, spinning, weaving, and - yes - cutting?
For the most blatant and classic example of an "argument from intimidation", consider New York governor David Paterson's claim, echoing the argument made by Paul Krugman, that any opposition to health care reform is "racist". Quoting this article:

Gov. Paterson blamed a racist media Friday for trying to push him out of next year's election - launching into an angry rant that left even some black Democrats shaking their heads.

"The reality is the next victim on the list - and you can see it coming - is President Barack Obama, who did nothing more than trying to reform a health care system."

An excellent piece, Boycotting the Boycotters, recognizes this phenonmena and details the left's intolerance. Quoting:

But now that they are in power, Democrats are brazenly wielding punitive weaponry against dissenting Americans and are using the power of the state to shut up citizens.

The Democratic leadership - and its friends in the mainstream media - seem determined to brand opposition to the president's legislative agenda as illegitimate, even racist in origin. Individuals and grass-roots organizations are helping the statists' cause by advocating boycotts and other means of stifling dissent.

The strategy is clear: Intimidate people from speaking up or from attending public protests by telegraphing that anyone can be made a demon for standing up and exercising basic, constitutional rights.

Caroline Baum wrote a good article for Bloomberg which echoes my argument related to the left's "blame game". Quoting Baum:

The effort to blame right-wing groups is transparent. If my feedback on a recent column is indicative of the political persuasion and demographic distribution of the protesters, these are ordinary Americans energized by the debate, frustrated at not having a voice and motivated to exercise their right of free speech. Attempts to smear opponents and shut down debate are, well, un-American.

On the topic of real "masters of deception", Beth Haynes at Wealth Is Not the Problem wrote a wonderfully concise post exposing the left's Orwellian misuse of three important terms: competition, insurance, and capitalism:

Don't be fooled by the incorrect use of these terms. Proponents of increased government control over your private health matters are using the language of freedom and and capitalism to sneak in a system that has more in common with the central planning of socialism and fascism than it does with the individual rights protected in our Constitution.

I encourage you to check out her explanations.

Finally, for a full and utter refutation of the argument that the protesters are "astro turf", I offer this video linked at The Dougout, which provides a spine chilling demonstration of the power of an independent, reasoning mind in operation and sheer inspiration that all it takes to defeat evil is the one thing that the intellectually bankrupt left fears the most: principles.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jours Heureux! - Follow Up

In February, I wrote a post titled Jours Heureux! in which I discussed the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Maria Cosway. It is probably my favorite post this year because I enjoyed writing and researching it so much and it allowed me the rare opportunity to contemplate a topic that is both beautiful and intriguing. I say "rare" because so much of this year has revolved around the rather unpleasant themes of political and economic crisis. Also, given the present context, any chance to reflect upon the life of Jefferson, a man who is the premiere historical embodiment of the committment to freedom and individual rights, is a profound and necessary inspiration to those of us who carry the torch for these same values.

In the post, I had linked to a miniature that Trumbull had painted of Jefferson and presented to Cosway. I also linked to a picture of an engraving of Cosway that Jefferson kept at his home, Monticello. Shortly after I wrote that post, I had a chance to visit Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia for the first time. When I stepped into the South Square Room and saw the engraving hanging in front of me, needless to say, a few chills went up and down my spine.

Monticello has an excellent
web site which allows you to virtually tour the house. If you go from the Northeast Portico to the South Square Room, the engraving is on the wall to your left just as you pass through the door. You can click on a picture of the that wall but it is hard to see. It is hanging on the top left, between the silhouettes and the two large pictures. There are two chairs against this wall. The site has a link to the Cosway engraving at the bottom of the web page.

To truly experience a sense of that era and that time in Jefferson's life, I also recommend that while on the tour, you listen to the music that I
linked in the post. Jefferson sent a copy of the song to Cosway in a letter saying:
...I send you the song I promised. bring me in return its subject, Jours Heureux!
The song was from Antonio Sacchini's opera "Dardanus" which premiered in Paris in 1784. The song is:

Jours heureux, espoir enchanteur!
Prix charmant d'un amour si tendre!
Je vais la voir, je vais l'entendre
Je vais retrouver le bonheur!

(Happy days, Enchanting hope!
Charming prize of a love so tender!
I'm going to see her, I'm going to hear her
I'm going to find happiness again!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why Liberals Don't Read Their Bills, Evade Their Constituents, but "Penetrate the Message Wars"

Much has been made of the fact that Democratic congressmen have admitted to not having read the monstrous bills that they are attempting to ram through the House. Says Rep. John Conyers:

“I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill,’” said Conyers.

“What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”

Meanwhile, as anger over the legislation being debated in the Congress spills over into town hall meetings, news is emerging from all over the country that Democratic congressmen are simply avoiding meeting with their outraged constituents. As I discussed in my last post, the Democrats in Congress have condescendingly dismissed these protests as "manufactured", "astro-turf" protests carried out by racist "anti-reform mobs", or as Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid recently called them, "evil mongers". (I should note that Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee did graciously make time for the town hall protesters, although, the speakers did have to talk loudly in order to be heard over her cell phone conversation! And, Barney Frank managed to insult and disrespect his constituents very nicely as usual - although give him props for showing up.) For the latest example of their tactics, consider this post which details a left wing organization's attempt to pressure Glenn Beck's sponsors into pulling ads:
We're making incredible progress. As Glenn Beck's advertisers learn of his hateful rhetoric, and how deeply it concerns thousands of organized people across the country, they're deciding that they don't want their companies associated with Beck's divisive fear-mongering. [emphasis mine]
As always, there is no discussion of the content or validity of Beck's claims - only the accusation that he is "hateful" and a "fear-monger."

When liberals take time off from ad hominem and smears in order to broach the subject of proof, what do they offer as "evidence"? Consider this
op-ed written by Obama himself arguing for socialized medicine in which he offers nothing but mushy sentimentality, vague platitudes, and outright contradictions [1]. Additionally, recall Harry Reid's reference to Sen. Mark Begich's melting glacier "pictures" as evidence, and Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk's "feeling" that glaciers were melting - while literally in space. And finally, we can now add this smoking gun offered by Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Stabenow:
"Climate change is very real," she confessed as she embraced cap and trade's massive tax increase on Michigan industry - at the same time claiming, against all the evidence, that it would not lead to an increase in manufacturing costs or energy prices. "Global warming creates volatility. I feel it when I'm flying. The storms are more volatile. We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes." [emphasis mine]

While scientists like Dr. Will Happer rely on scientific reasoning to explain the causal relationship of CO2 to climate, economists such as Dr. George Reisman soberly demonstrate how individual rights and capitalism allow for the best possible way to adapt to any circumstance, and rational businessmen, like CEO John Mackey, offer intelligent approaches to health care that address the causes of the crisis, the liberals offer us anecdotes and expressions of their feelings.

In a previous post, I attempted to explain the reasons why such tactics are necessitated by their approach to ideas. Since they take a non-conceptual or non-objective approach, they must rely on faith or belief in the absence of evidence which necessitates appealing to others on the basis of non-cognitive factors such as emotion or mysticism. Consequently, the left must urge others to believe their ideas, not because they can prove that they are right, but because it feels good, or equivalently, because the opposing view scares them. Any rational scientist would be eager to stand up and demonstrate the validity of his theory by reference to the facts and the use of logic. Conversely, the intellectually bankrupt left hides from their opposition and offers nothing but slurs and appraisals of their emotions.

This is part of the reason that liberal congressmen, in defiance of economic and scientific logic, impetuously vote for Byzantine bills that threaten to upend a significant portion of the economy without bothering to analyze the details. The bills appeal to them on an emotional level - the level on which they are accustomed to operating. While it is a fact that the bills appeal to them emotionally, the question of why the particular content of these bills appeals to them still remains. I believe the answer rests on further consequences of the denial of objective epistemology and ethics.

To start, consider a another popular leftist tactic. Quoting an Obama adviser on their failure to pass health care:

Another adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, "We always knew how challenging health care was. We knew it in the campaign. It's really compounded by trying to do it in a very tough environment. I think a lot of the stuff we've been doing lately is right. You've just got to figure out how to penetrate the message war." [emphasis mine]

This sentiment is expressed over and over by members of the Left. In other words, they never question the logic or reasonability of their own position - only the notion that the message is not being conveyed properly, i.e., people are not being properly conditioned by their appeals to emotion or the public smearing of the opposition. Consider their absolute obsession with Fox News, their threats to impose censorship of conservative talk radio (excuse me, a "fairness doctrine"), and their own diabolical emphasis on propaganda [1,2]. It is also not a coincidence that they connote these efforts as a form of "war".

When an individual rejects the efficacy of his own mind, like an animal, he must turn to a group for guidance, protection, and a sense of pseudo-self worth. The subjectivist left regards people, not as individuals, but as members of collectives whose identities are determined by the attributes of their group. Accordingly, they do not evaluate an idea in terms of truth or falsehood. That is too "simplistic." According to the left, people are conditioned by their circumstances, their "environment", or their race, socio-economic class, or gender. Therefore, it is not necessary to reason or offer a policy that is logically consistent with abstract principles pertaining to individual rights or the laws of economics. One must condition the opposition or "penetrate the message war" by finding some non-cognitive form of appeal, i.e., by offering warm and fuzzy platitudes or demonizing the opposition.

Accordingly, the left must view ideas as the arbitary products of warring mobs. "Of course you would argue for capitalism," they might say, "you are a white male." "Of course you would argue that 2+2=4", they might say, "you are funded by the math lobby." The view that the validity of an idea is a function of group identity is the root of the now famous statement made by Justice Sotomayor in a lecture:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

It is also the root of the fact that in the same lecture "she raised the possibility that people of different races 'have basic differences in logic and reasoning'" which would imply the existence of "Black Logic, White Logic, or Latino Logic." Such a view combines two theories: determinism and collectivism. Determinism holds that man is a product of factors outside of his control. Collectivism holds that the factors which determine him are a function of his membership in a particular group. Both reject volition and the efficacy of the independent, reasoning mind.

As I argued in the previous post, a faith based approach to knowledge has a frightening corollary. If there is no objective frame of reference by which to resolve truth and thereby provide a rational means for persuasion, the only alternative is physical force or violence. This has particular implications in the case of collectivism. Quoting Ayn Rand:

The philosophy of collectivism upholds the existence of a mystic (and unperceivable) social organism, while denying the reality of perceived individuals—a view which implies that man’s senses are not a valid instrument for perceiving reality. Collectivism maintains that an elite endowed with special mystic insight should rule men—which implies the existence of an elite source of knowledge, a fund of revelations inaccessible to logic and transcending the mind. Collectivism denies that men should deal with one another by voluntary means, settling their disputes by a process of rational persuasion; it declares that men should live under the reign of physical force (as wielded by the dictator of the omnipotent state)—a position which jettisons reason as the guide and arbiter of human relationships.

For a practical example of this, consider my previous analysis of the philosophy of Cass Sunstein, Obama's regulatory czar, who holds the view that people are an amorphous blob that needs to be "nudged" by the state into performing their duty as "citizens". Quoting Sunstein:

...If people are mostly watching a conservative station – say, Fox News-they will inevitably be affected by what they see. Whatever one’s political view, there is, in an important respect, a problem from the standpoint of freedom itself. This is so even if people are voluntarily choosing the limited fare. [emphasis mine]

In other words, people are "inevitably" conditioned by what they experience which implies that people do not have volitional control over their own mind. Apparently, according to Sunstein, once an idea impinges upon someone's consciousness, they are helpless to stop it. This, he declares, is a problem "from the standpoint of freedom" which implies that the government must monitor and control what people "experience" so that they are not conditioned improperly (meaning conditioned by non-liberal ideas.) In principle, such an idea leads directly to all out dictatorship. No problem for him. Consider another Sunstein whammy related to your "duty as a citizen":

...If people are constructing a Daily Me that is restricted to sports or to the personal lives of celebrities, they are not operating in the way that citizenship requires. This does not mean that people have to be thinking about public affairs all, most, or even much of the time. But it does mean that each of us has rights and duties as citizens, not simply as consumers. As we will see, active citizen engagement is necessary to promote not only democracy but social well-being too. And in the modern era, one of the most pressing obligations of a citizenry that is not inert is to ensure that “deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary.” For this to happen, it is indispensable to ensure that they system of communications promotes democratic goals. Those goals emphatically require both unchosen exposures and shared experiences. [emphasis mine]

(Do not ask what an "unchosen exposure" might be.)

In effect, he is implying that since people will act in accordance with how they are conditioned by their group identity or by the nature of the ideas which they unconsciously assimilate (mostly from Fox News), it is up to special philosopher-kings to rule (or "nudge") the masses into performing desired behaviors and effecting desired outcomes.

So, what is a desirable outcome and how will our leftist philosopher kings ensure that they can achieve it?

The rejection of objective reality leads to the belief that anything is possible as long as one believes it is possible. Quoting Ayn Rand:

A later school of more Kantian Pragmatists amended this philosophy as follows. If there is no such thing as an objective reality, men’s metaphysical choice is whether the selfish, dictatorial whims of an individual or the democratic whims of a collective are to shape that plastic goo which the ignorant call “reality,” therefore this school decided that objectivity consists of collective subjectivism—that knowledge is to be gained by means of public polls among special elites of “competent investigators” who can “predict and control” reality—that whatever people wish to be true, is true, whatever people wish to exist, does exist, and anyone who holds any firm convictions of his own is an arbitrary, mystic dogmatist, since reality is indeterminate and people determine its actual nature.

In other words, at some level, the politicians believe that they can control reality. If they can form a consensus, condition people to accept their ideas, or "keep hope alive", they can make anything "work". Since anything is possible (as long as the right people are in charge), anything can be made to happen. The government can create prosperity by taking over auto companies and forcing them to make cars that no one wants. They can prop up toxic banks with money they create out of thin air. They can create prosperity by robbing the earnings of some to literally buy junk or "clunkers". They can stimulate prosperity by increasing the costs of energy. They can enslave doctors, increase quality, and decrease the cost of medical care all at the same time!

And what is a desirable outcome?

The philosophical pragmatist does not hold any explicit moral theory but absorbs it from others. Obama's default morality is altruism, or self-sacrifice which has dominated the West for two thousand years. In particular, he upholds liberation theology which fuses Marxism with Christianity. As a Marxist, Obama views the world in terms of two warring collectives, the capitalists and the proletariat or, in their terms, the exploiters and the exploited. Since the "exploiting" mob is evil, any idea espoused by the"exploiters" must be tainted or "manufactured" in order to acheive some selfish end. Conversely, since Obama regards his goals as morally "pure", i.e. based on religious altruism, any claims made or actions taken in defense of the exploited are morally valid, i.e., the ends justifies the means.

A moral theory that upholds sacrifice must uphold egalitarianism, the belief in equal outcomes regardless of effort, ability, or character. Since such a theory is a contradiction, in practice, it means that the state must punish the most productive in order to serve the least productive. Quoting Ayn Rand:

Since nature does not endow all men with equal beauty or equal intelligence, and the faculty of volition leads men to make different choices, the egalitarians propose to abolish the “unfairness” of nature and of volition, and to establish universal equality in fact—in defiance of facts. Since the Law of Identity is impervious to human manipulation, it is the Law of Causality that they struggle to abrogate. Since personal attributes or virtues cannot be “redistributed,” they seek to deprive men of their consequences—of the rewards, the benefits, the achievements created by personal attributes and virtues. It is not equality before the law that they seek, but inequality: the establishment of an inverted social pyramid, with a new aristocracy on top—the aristocracy of non-value.

The premise underlying virtually every welfare scheme, every intervention into the economy, and every strangling regulation is altruism and egalitarianism, i.e., the idea that those who pursue their own life and values are evil and that the government is morally justified in expropriating the wealth of those who have earned it and redistributing it those who have not.

In summary, leftist ideology can be reduced to the following: People need to be ruled in order to effect outcomes that are consistent with the default morality of altruism or self-sacrifice. Why do people need to be ruled? Because, people will act in accordance with how they are conditioned by their group identity or by the unconscious assimilation of evil ideas. It is up to special philosopher-kings to rule (or "nudge") the masses in order to bring about desired behavior and outcomes, i.e., behavior untainted by the pursuit of selfish motivations leading to equal outcomes regardless of individual effort or character. Therefore, as long as a proposed bill is morally consistent with altruism and practically entails state control, the liberals will vote for it. The details are irrelevant.

The similarity in form to secular leftists in government to theocratic dictators in the Middle Ages or the Inquisition is not a coincidence. The difference between the non-conceptual left (who reject objectivty on secular grounds) and the non-conceptual right (who reject objectivity on religious grounds) is nominal. In both cases, a non-objective approach leads to appeals to faith, bizarrely arbitary or contradictory claims (such as religious miracles or Keynesian economics), warring mobs, violent censorship of dissenters, philosopher-king power lust, economic stagnation, and human misery. Conversely, historical periods associated with belief in the efficacy of reason and the power of the human mind give rise to the valuation of freedom and individual rights, scientific progress, technology, economic prosperity, and human happiness - and individuals who proudly and explicitly defend their ideals.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Insurance Negation Plan

One of the key provisions of Obama’s health care plan prevents insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of so-called pre-existing conditions. In other words, according to him, as soon as someone has an illness, he should be able to show up at the insurance company and buy a policy in order to cover the subsequent costs. In fact, he appears to regard the fact that insurance companies deny coverage on this basis as morally despicable and tantamount to evil.

Of course, he is disregarding the fact that such a policy on the part of insurance companies, far from being evil, is the essence of insurance!

Imagine for a second that we apply Obama’s theory to the car insurance market. Imagine that insurers allowed anyone with a “pre-existing” car problem to obtain insurance immediately. Then, as soon as your car needs repair, you would call up the insurance company and say “ok, I need 'insurance’ now.” Under these conditions, why would anyone pay premiums, i.e., buy insurance? In what sense could this even be called insurance? Such a plan should rightly be characterized as nothing more than a wealth transfer. Consequently, Obama’s plan should not be regarded as a “reform” of insurance, it should be regarded as a negation of insurance.

The whole purpose of insurance is to pool risk in such a way that most of the time, premiums from some members of the pool are sufficient to cover claims from other members in the unlikely event that they have a claim. The premiums are priced based on the probability of a claim in such a way that the pool is almost guaranteed to take in more than it pays out. That is why on a private market, people choose policies with deductibles and/or policies that only pay in the event of catastrophes. The less likely a payout, the less the premium and vice versa.

There is no magic here. The insurance company must take in at least as much as it pays out or there is no reason to have an insurance company. Obama acts as if the process of insurance somehow creates a magic pool of infinite dollars that can be drawn upon to pay endless claims for anyone at anytime. There is no magic formula by which private or public insurance can pay out more than it takes in. Someone has to pay! Government schemes are just smoke and mirror ploys to redistribute wealth.

Forcing insurers to write policies for those with pre-existing conditions will skyrocket premium costs for everyone else as insurers find ways to pass on their increased costs to others. More likely, it would force private insurers out of business since no one would buy policies until they have a condition. The government would then tell us that the "free market" has failed and that it needs to step in to offer coverage. Since the government would not deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, this would amount to a welfare scheme since you would only obtain the government coverage as soon as you have a problem. This is precisely why Obama's plan must force anyone not covered to purchase the government plan and provides yet another example of how government intervention begets disaster which begets more government intervention...

Of course, the whole reason premiums are so high and, in many cases, impossible to purchase in the non-employer provided market is precisely because the government provides incentives and/or forces insurance companies to provide more coverage than otherwise would be demanded on the open market. Since benefits are tax deductible but cash wages are not, employers have an incentive to pay employees with health care benefits. As these plans became popular, the government began mandating coverage for pre-existing conditions and disallowing variable deductible policies. These government policies continually force premiums higher and have all but eliminated the individual health insurance market. On a free market, individuals would purchase insurance in the same way they purchase car insurance. In other words, they would pay out of pocket for small problems and have reasonably priced catastrophe insurance in the event something major goes wrong.

Can someone ask Obama why is there no crisis in the car insurance market? That's too simple.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obama's Scare Tactics through a Jaundiced Eye

In the wake of passionate protests over Obama's health care plan, his administration has gone on the "offensive":
Briefing reporters Tuesday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs suggested that the opposition is being organized by a small group seeking to create "manufactured anger."

"I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the AstroTurf nature of so-called grass-roots lobbying," Mr. Gibbs said.
Leveling these accusations, that those opposing health care "reform", are nothing more than an "anti-reform mob" or "astro-turf" protesters organized and funded by the insurance lobby, has become the M.O. for leftist supporters of socialized medicine. The protests, the left claims, are designed to intimidate the American people into opposing the Dear Leader:

Braced for a fight he never got, President Barack Obama went on the offensive in support of his health care plan Tuesday, urging a town hall audience not to listen to those who seek to "scare and mislead the American people."
Paul Krugman even had the temerity to accuse the protesters of racism! Says Krugman:

...they're probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they've heard about what he's doing, than to who he is.

Ironically, in this instance, the Left is posing as calm, rational expositors of the Truth while dismissing the protesters as an uninformed, irrational mob. Yet, the reality is precisely the opposite. This typical leftist tactic, i.e., castigating their enemies with ad hominem attacks, smears, and even violence, is an approach I have discussed before in detail [1,2], and I believe it has a deeper philosophical explanation that goes to the essence of the debate over freedom and dictatorship. If one wishes to advocate freedom rationally, it is important to be aware of the causes and use of this tactic in order to defeat it.

Fear is "an emotion experienced in anticipation of some specific pain or danger". If someone knows something to be dangerous, it is entirely rational and practical to experience fear. The angst and passion demonstrated by the protesters is hardly "manufactured." Rather, it is a real and rational response to an anticipated danger: the potentially deadly consequences of Obama's socialist health care plan. These protesters have not been misled. On the contrary, the intensity of the protests has increased in direct proportion to increased knowledge of its frightening provisions, which even liberal Camillie Paglia rightly fears will lead to a "nightmare of red tape and mammoth screw-ups."

A conceptual approach to the problem would require Obama to argue for his plan and explain exactly how it will “work” using facts and logic. All he has to do to convince the protesters is to show them - stand up and explain exactly how this plan will work. I would not fear living in a home that was built according to the laws of physics and mechanics. Similarly, I would not fear a rational government policy . Of course, he can not do this, because, logically, his plan must fail, and consequently, examples of a conceptual approach to health care can only be found in the work of opponents of socialized medicine. See, for example, John Lewis' excellent
executive summary of the bill, Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh essay on the history of socialized medicine, Moral Health Care Versus Universal Health Care, this recent WSJ article on the economics of socialized medicine, or Dr. Reisman's essay, The Real Right to Medical Care Versus Socialized Medicine. These essays demonstrate, unequivocally, that socialized medicine is immoral and impractical.

On the other hand, consider a non-conceptual approach to health care, i.e., an approach that does not rely on facts, logic, or principles. If you abandon reason, how can you demonstrate that you are right? Logically, if you abandon a conceptual approach there is only one path left, faith, i.e. you must urge a belief in the absence of evidence. You must urge that others accept your idea on the basis of some non-cognitive method such as emotion or some form of mysticism. You must urge others to believe your idea, not because you are right, but because it feels good to them.

As I have argued countless times [
1, 2, 3], Obama does not take a conceptual approach to any problem. He is a philosophical pragmatist who rejects reason as an absolute. As he once said, "as a manager of the economy you should base your decisions on facts not ideology". In other words, he does not want to hear debates about freedom, individual rights, or economics. His goal is to act and make things "work". What is his definition of "work"? Every pragmatist has a default philosophy absorbed from others. In Obama's case, his default philosophy is liberation theology or Christian Marxism which he absorbed from his mentor, Pastor Wright [see also "black liberation theology"]. To Obama, "to work" means to achieve an egalitarian society based upon the religious morality of self-sacrifice fused with the economic precepts of Marxism. This wholesale rejection of reason forms the guiding non-philosophy of modern academics, which is to say, the Left.

One implication of a non-conceptual approach, such as pragmatism, is that Obama must appeal to people in some non-cognitive fashion such as appeals to emotion. This is vividly demonstrated in the above quotes. Their entire approach consists of demonizing the protesters as a racist, uneducated, mob, motivated, ironically, by emotion! In fact, their whole conception of the problem is one of warring mobs as it has to be under this doctrine. If faith is our only means of cognition, then logically, man's only choice is to join a gang with no means of persuading its opponents except physical violence. In this type of world, since nothing is true (except that nothing is true), and nothing can be proved absolutely, Obama's only recourse is to seek "consensus" (as opposed to a solution), and if that doesn't work, the point of gun.

This is why, rather than elucidate his reasoning, he seeks to forge a consensus, which, in practice, means getting others to “feel” good about his ideas. To get people who are scared to feel good about his plan, he must paint his critics as the cause of the fear rather than face the flawed logic of the plan. Further, he and his supporters must suggest that anyone who disagrees with them is immoral. Ayn Rand identified this fallacy as the "
argument from intimidation":

[It] consists of threatening to impeach an opponent’s character by means of his argument, thus impeaching the argument without debate.

The essential characteristic of the Argument from Intimidation is its appeal to moral self-doubt and its reliance on the fear, guilt or ignorance of the victim. It is used in the form of an ultimatum demanding that the victim renounce a given idea without discussion, under threat of being considered morally unworthy. The pattern is always: “Only those who are evil (dishonest, heartless, insensitive, ignorant, etc.) can hold such an idea.”

Note, this is exactly the tactic employed by Krugman when he declares, in essence, that anyone who disagrees with Obama is a racist. Quoting Rand:

How does one resist that Argument? There is only one weapon against it: moral certainty.

When one enters any intellectual battle, big or small, public or private, one cannot seek, desire or expect the enemy’s sanction. Truth or falsehood must be one’s sole concern and sole criterion of judgment—not anyone’s approval or disapproval; and, above all, not the approval of those whose standards are the opposite of one’s own.
One might argue that the cause of these tactics is some form of elitism, i.e., the intellectuals on the Left see themselves as Philosopher Kings anointed to grasp and convey Truth to the illiterate "red state" Americans. This philosophy is essentially Platonism, which I discussed in detail in this post as it relates to Cass Sunstein. I consider both pragmatism and Platonism to be different forms of the same essential problem, i.e., the rejection of reason and objectivity. One form (pragmatism) tends to lead more to skepticism, cowardice, and consensus seeking while the other form (Platonism) leads to elitism and power lust. Of course, most Leftists exemplify mixtures of both forms.

There is a further more ominous implication to the non-conceptual approach to knowledge - the relationship of faith and force. Quoting
Ayn Rand:

I have said that faith and force are corollaries, and that mysticism will always lead to the rule of brutality. The cause of it is contained in the very nature of mysticism. Reason is the only objective means of communication and of understanding among men; when men deal with one another by means of reason, reality is their objective standard and frame of reference. But when men claim to possess supernatural means of knowledge, no persuasion, communication or understanding are possible...Anyone who resorts to the formula: “It’s so, because I say so,” will have to reach for a gun, sooner or later.
Whether it be the Byzantine health care bill, taxation, cap and trade, the Fairness Doctrine, "Choice Architecture", collectivized farms, state run media, gulags or concentration camps, this is precisely why the Left, as does any movement based on faith and not reason, always reaches for a gun.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Simplistic vs. Complexistic

In my recent post, The Modern Intellectual's Virtue of Complexity, I claimed that social scientists, who reject reason and principles, have an affinity for complexity, while physical scientists, who tend to embrace reason and the scientific method, regard simplicity or increased generalization as a virtue. If one rejects reason or regards it as "limited", he must regard any integration of percepts into concepts and principles as hopelessly naive. Such a doctrine gives rise to the anti-concept: "simplistic", which is used to smear anyone who offers a clear and easy answer to a problem (because it is clear and easy).

I also argued that because the physical sciences deal with deterministic phenomena, the modern assault on reason and rational epistemology has had relatively less of a destructive impact. Conversely, the social sciences, which deal with human beings and therefore volition, bare the scar tissue of the philosopher's relentless assault on reason as can be seen in the convoluted and downright bizarre theories routinely offered by these disciplines. I offer the success of modern technology derived from physics, chemistry, and biology as against the "triumphs" of modern economists, psychologists, and philosophers as proof of which approach works. Think Galileo, Newton, and Darwin versus Robert Reich, Cass Sunstein, and Paul Krugman.

An interesting real life example of these ideas played out recently. According to
Mark Morano, a recent editorial by Rudy Baum, the editor-in-chief of the American Chemical Society, claiming that “the science of anthropogenic climate change is becoming increasingly well established” and that the "consensus" view was growing "increasingly difficult to challenge, despite the efforts of diehard climate-change deniers” has caused a spirited revolt against Baum by skeptical, outraged chemists worldwide. Quoting Morano:
The editorial was met with a swift, passionate and scientific rebuke from Baum's colleagues. Virtually all of the letters published on July 27 in castigated Baum's climate science views. Scientists rebuked Baum's use of the word “deniers” because of the terms “association with Holocaust deniers.” In addition, the scientists called Baum's editorial: “disgusting”; “a disgrace”; “filled with misinformation”; “unworthy of a scientific periodical” and “pap.”
Morano quotes dozens of scathing letters calling Baum to the carpet for making such an absurd claim. They are all so good, all I can say is read the link for more details.

One of the scientists cited in Morano's article is Dr. Will Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics at Princeton, who
was fired by Gore in 1993 for "failing to adhere to Gore's scientific views". Happer recently offered this brilliant testimony to the U.S. Senate and reading it is truly a breath of fresh air. After reading it, I was tempted to write a post titled "Global Warming, RIP", and all I can do is offer him the highest compliment possible - it is truly "simplistic."

Now let's transition to the social sciences as briefly as possible. This
article discussed recent polls that show Americans are "cooling" on global warming.
Here's what Gallup found: The number of Americans who say the media have exaggerated global warming jumped to a record 41 percent in 2009, up from 35 percent a year ago. The most marked increase came among political independents, whose ranks of doubters swelled from 33 percent to 44 percent. Republican doubters grew from 59 percent to 66 percent, while Democratic skeptics stayed at around 20 percent.

What's more, fewer Americans believe the effects of global warming have started to occur: 53 percent see signs of a hotter planet, down from 61 percent in 2008. Global warming placed last among eight environmental concerns Gallup asked respondents to rank, with water pollution landing the top spot.
In light of all the facts cited above, from prominent scientists revolting against the global warming orthodoxy based on experimental data and logic to polls showing that Americans increasingly think it is a hoax or at least not significant relative to their livelihood, do you think intellectuals on the Left might reconsider their position?
Ask Daniel Weiss, a senior fellow and director of climate strategy at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, why increasing numbers of Americans dispute global warming and place the economy ahead of the environment, and he'll say those findings are wrong.

"I don't accept their premise. I think the Gallup Poll is mistaken," said Weiss, whose organization will send its chief executive officer, former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, to Monday's clean energy confab. "I would want to look at their questions to see how they got to this place."
Keep in mind, this is a man who is not skeptical of computer climate models that attempt to predict the earth's temperature in one hundred years but is intensely skeptical of a Gallup Poll. More likely, as Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute points out:
...the planet's average temperature hasn't risen since 1997, despite a 5 percent gain in the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the same period. Twelve years doesn't make for a long-term trend, Ebell said, but every year that goes by with no increase in average temperatures makes it harder to assert the climate is sensitive to carbon dioxide.

"I think there's a huge amount of skepticism among the public. They've heard all these claims, and now they've been informed that there isn't any recent warming," Ebell said. "The public, without having a lot of information about it, is pretty astute. I think the alarmists are having a hard time making the case for global warming simply because reality is against them and the public has figured it out."
Sounds reasonable, right? Not if you are Senator Harry Reid.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., responded that the science showing the greenhouse effect on Earth's climate is solid. He pointed to pictures from Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, which reveal the virtual disappearance of a glacier in the past 35 years.
Let's see - Professor Happer's explanation of the causal effects of CO2 on the earth's climate versus pictures of a glacier from Mark Begich....I'm going to go with Happer. But let us not forget the economists:

Worse still, agreed Reid and Weiss, eschewing environmental policies hurts the economy. Prominent venture capitalists and executives from Fortune 500 companies such as General Electric say investing in green energy will boost the economy, creating millions of high-tech jobs. Even a policy as simple as retrofitting existing buildings and constructing new buildings according to green standards would bolster the construction sector, as well as reduce waste and pollution, Reid said.

"The country that makes the clean energy technologies of the future is going to be the one that dominates the world economy," Weiss said.

Ok, so economists think that the country that pays more for "clean" energy rather than less for uh, "dirty" energy that has no discernible effect on anything is going to dominate the world economy? I'll have to email Robert Reich or Paul Krugman to explain that one to me. However, I will point out Reid's flagrant commission of the broken window fallacy in claiming that "retrofitting" buildings will somehow help the economy - a claim logically equivalent to suggesting that we blow up the United States periodically to help the economy - a claim that I have debunked countless times [1, 2] .

Unfortunately, we haven't heard from all the social scientists yet. What do psychologists have to say? According to an article titled,
Psychological Barriers Hobble Climate Action:
Psychological barriers like uncertainty, mistrust and denial keep most Americans from acting to fight climate change, a task force of the American Psychological Association said on Wednesday.
But, not to worry. The psychologists have identified why humans are so inept at assimilating leftist propaganda.

Habit is the most important obstacle to pro-environment behavior, the task force found.

But habits can be changed, especially if changing saves money and people are quickly made aware of it. People are more likely to use energy-efficient appliances if they get immediate energy-use feedback, the task force said. [emphasis mine]

Now some of you "simple minded" members of the "anti-reform mobs" may be tempted to inquire further as to the nature of habit changing "energy use feedback". But, I say, as long as whatever they do results in "pro-environment" behavior, I'm all for it.

And anyway, they have more mundane methods:
It identified other areas where psychology can help limit the effects of climate change, such as developing environmental regulations, economic incentives, better energy-efficient technology and communication methods. [emphasis mine]
Did I miss the section on "developing environmental regulations" in psychology class?

I must not be very smart, but I guess I rather be simplistic than complexistic.