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      I was born in 1968, the year Wallerstein calls one of “world revolution”. It was a revolution that both failed and succeeded: women and minorities got more rights, often a lot more, but the end result was an oligarchy, where most people were equal in their lack of power, and where every year saw ordinary people becoming poorer, no matter what the official st […]
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The bigger problem with Obamacare and why people will hate it

I’ve noticed a certain sentiment appearing in so-called “progressive” blogs about Obamacare that I find particularly awful.  It’s that people who are desperate for healthcare will be so grateful for something better than the Republican sharp stick in the eye that they will put up with endless amounts of indignities to get it.  Yep, those truly sick or with relatives who are truly sick will gladly spend hours and hours of frustration in front of a hot display trying to log in and get their information correct so they can see the exchange plans.

There’s an underlying heartlessness about this sentiment.  It’s like, well, what did they expect??  They’re poor and they’re sick.  They should be happy we’re doing anything for them at all.  This strikes me as just a hair better than the “let ’em all die!” attitudes of the Tea Party people.

But that’s not why I think Obamacare will eventually come to be loathed by anyone forced to jump through hoops and face indignity after indignity before they even get to see what their options are.

No, I think the biggest problem with Obamacare that will make people loathe it is the lack of the employer mandate.

See, it’s a little like getting on an airplane and finding out the guy in the seat next to you paid a LOT less for his flight.  If you have employer provided insurance, you probably have a policy that doesn’t cost you the equivalent of a couple new car payments.  You health insurance payments are your benefits, not an added expense.  It’s like you’re getting a bonus every month.  You can go on vacation and if you get a severe case of tourista or break your arm, you won’t come back home with a huge bill to pay off for treatment.  (Note to self: vacation in Canada)

And this is a problem because there is a lot more temporary work these days.  A lot more people who were formerly covered by their employers suddenly aren’t anymore.  I met a lot of people like that in New Jersey.  They couldn’t afford their insurance anymore because they were part time employed or unemployed or self-employed or employed by contract.  Those numbers are growing all of the time in this Little Depression.

So, many of them go without treatment, like the lovely, elegant blonde woman in her fifties I met.  She and her husband both lost their jobs and tried to pay their mortgage on what work they could get.  She let her dental care lapse.  And now she has a mouth full of rotting teeth.  Rotting front teeth.

Or the guy I met at the bar of a local restaurant where I was waiting for my car to be fixed who kept bugging me about signing up for his financial services company.  I finally had to be rude to him and tell him to leave me alone (I had been laid off about a week before).  He got quiet and despondent and said very softly, “I wish I had health insurance again”.  Then I noticed how thin and pale he looked.

How would these so-called “progressives” like it if they had to pay for their health insurance by nagging equally poor women at bars for business?  You can only avoid bars for so long.  Or New Jersey, where the problem is lurking in plain sight.

This administration and its party thought all they had to do was pass the bill and then celebrate.  Implementation would take care of itself apparently.  And if the employer mandate didn’t happen or the deductibles weren’t capped, it was no big deal because it was only the poorest and sickest of the poor who would suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  It’s like all of DC has been living in a glass dome for 5 years and has no idea how segments of the formerly well cared for middle class has fallen through the floor caused by the chronic unemployment they have left festering while they allowed the Republicans to control the message.

They have created a new tier of second class citizens.  Oh sure, the employer mandate will come, maybe.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, there will be resentment and seething and anger.  The costs still come out of our pockets or our income tax returns and now, we’ll have no choice to be shaken down by the private insurance market.  We will be captives to it.

Not all of us.  Just those of us unlucky enough to lose our jobs in the name of “shareholder value”.

The strange silence

Martin Wolf  of the Financial Times and Bill Moyers discussed the government shutdown /debt ceiling crisis last week.  Check out the whole interview here.  I was particularly struck by this part:

BILL MOYERS: Would you agree that despite what happened this week and the political victory that President Obama seems to have won, would you agree that the conservatives have really won the argument about government?

MARTIN WOLF: I think that is true. What has surprised me is how little pushback there has been from the Democrat side in arguing that the government really did have a very strong role in supporting the economy during the post crisis recession, almost depression, that the stimulus argument was completely lost though the economics of it were quite clearly right, they needed a bigger stimulus, not a smaller one.

It helped, but it didn’t help enough because it wasn’t big enough. And they’re not making the argument that government has essential functions which everybody needs in the short run. Well, we can see that with the national parks. But also in the long run the strength of America has been built, in my perspective, particularly in the post war period, since the Second World War on the way that actually the public and private sectors have worked together with the government providing enormous support for research and development.

It’s been the basic support of America’s unique position in scientific research. You look at the National Institutes of Health which are the most important medical research institutions in the world, these are all products of the willingness of the United States to invest in the long term interest. Then there’s the infrastructure, think of the highway program, which was the most important infrastructure project under the Republicans interestingly.

And those arguments seem to have been lost. So I am concerned that the government that I think Grover Norquist once said he wants to drown in the bath. If you drown your government in the bath in the modern world, we don’t live in the early 19th century, it’s a different world, that the long term health of the United States will be very badly affected.

It’s strange to me that a government which has obviously achieved very important things, think of the role of the Defense Department in the internet, has achieved such important things, that’s just one of many examples, it should be now regarded as nothing more than a complete nuisance. And the only thing you need to do is to cut it back to nothing.

And it does seem to me that the Democrats have, for reasons I don’t fully understand, basically given up on making this argument. And so in a way the conservatives, the extreme conservative position has won, because nobody is actually combating it. So it’s only a question of how much you cut and how you cut it rather than, “Well, what do we want government for? What are the good things about it? What are the bad things about it? How do we make it effective? And how do we ensure that it’s properly financed?”

I’ll touch on the effects of sequester on the future of science in this country in another post but right now, I want to talk about the strange silence from the Democrats and the dangers that wait for them if they don’t start speaking up, soon and loudly.  And part of this has something to do with Joan Walsh and Feministing and what Atrios said a couple days ago:

I don’t offer that as a defense (except for things that happened before his watch, of course), but while ultimately the man in charge is the man in charge, I think that often criticisms of things which happen during this administration are just heard as criticisms of Obama by people who are, understandably, fans and invested in his success.

I’m going to step right into this (because why stop now after five years?) and hypothesize that there are some “fans” on the left who would sell their children into neofeudal serfdom in a heartbeat before they would suffer the completely unfounded accusations of racism that other “fans” would heap upon them if they even dared to strenuously question the Obama administration.

It is pointless to tell these “fans” that there is nothing wrong with criticizing the president and his policies. It doesn’t make you the grand master of the local KKK or mean that you’ve failed Martin Luther King Jr.  In fact, I might even go out on a limb to suggest that the reason Bill Clinton gets so much negative attention from these “fans”, in spite of the fact that his record is more liberal than Obama’s, is because these “fans” are projecting their pent up frustration on a legitimate white target as a proxy. They simply cannot overcome their fear of ostracism if they criticize the president in the strong terms they would like to use.  Just thinking about it makes them feel uncomfortable and oogy.

This is ridiculous but it appears to be useless to point out that if people on the left don’t get over this conditioned Pavlovian response (courtesy of Obama’s campaign strategists) they are condemning their side to complete and utter fecklessness and continued perceptions of ineptitude.  But I might suggest that this is exactly what the bad guys want.  If you don’t raise a fuss, no effective regulation gets implemented and ideas that benefit most of the people in America never see the light of day and are considered politically impractical by the savvy people.

Not only that but I would be remiss if I did not point out that the last time the Democrats had control of the White House, the Senate and the House, they passed a much less than adequate stimulus bill and gave us Obamacare.  Yep, it had control of the executive and legislative branches and still found it politically impossible to even introduce the concept of public option or single payer or even cost controls, for gawdssakes, into the debate over a national healthcare policy.  How does that happen??  I don’t mean how does it happen that these things never even got discussed in a legitimate way with our side in complete control of the dialog.  I mean how does it happen that our side stayed so quiet about the fact that the Obama administration had effectively emasculated it?  The sequester should have been the last straw but from the “fans”?  Hardly a peep.

Russell Brand has a point.  If the side that professes to be the one that stands up for the great masses of people who are being treated poorly doesn’t do anything when it’s in charge, then why vote?  Why not do something different?

This is a BIG problem for the Democrats because there is a slim possibility that they could gain control of the House again and have complete control of government policy for 2 years starting in 2014.  And if that happens, it will be because voters will have had enough and the Republicans will have finally hanged themselves.  And if THAT happens, there’d better be some changes made.

But I personally will not take the left seriously if I don’t hear some harsh criticisms of the way this administration has squandered its first two years in office leaving millions of people unemployed, underinsured and at the mercy of very determined social security and medicare cutters.

If your demoralized, older but wiser youth vote, or ladies’ vote, or “name your base here” vote doesn’t show up for the next big election in sufficient enough quantities and decides to seek its own path, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Lambert picked out my favorite line from the Brand interview:

My new rule for when I fancy doing a bit of the ol’ condemnation is: “Do the people I’m condemning have any actual power?”

Exactly.   There’s nothing worse than spinning your wheels and becoming nasty, mean spirited old bigots in the service of the powerful.  Fox News viewers take note.

Wait for it…

So, Kathleen Sebelius is now taking the fall for the disastrous roll out of the ACA.  I think the website sign up debacle is only the tip of the iceberg.  We haven’t heard the consternation over the cheap, flimsy coverage maps yet but that’s coming.

But I’m a little surprised that all of this is dumped on Sebelius, who, after all, didn’t actually write this piece of legislation that was furiously lobbied by the health care industry, obstructed by Republicans and signed with gusto by Obama and his party.  By the way, it was that party that decided that protecting the president from criticism and pushing this “signature accomplishment” through as the equivalent of political dick waving was more important than, you know, getting the uninsured quality health insurance.  I think we have the Joan Walshes of the world to thank for guilting the left into sacrificing themselves and their own best interests in order to create a criticism free zone around the president.  Consider it political Poopourri.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Sebelius.  Asking for her resignation might look bad, especially because 1.) She’s a woman and the Obama administration is notoriously Bro country and 2.) if Obama had been paying attention in the past five years, he would have been aware that there are a lot more formerly middle class people without insurance who have a history of expecting better performance from their benefits managers.  We’re not just talking the generational poor anymore.  We’re talking about the people who used to be called “creative class”.  Yeah, remember that meme?  Memories.

But nevermind all that.  Whether she’s fired or not, those of us who have seen the modern corporate hive mind at work up close and personal (and decided that they would NOT be voting for Obama because of it) know that it’s completely unnecessary to fire Sebelius.  Nooooo.  The most logical thing to do is to hire a bunch of consultants to study the Department of Health and Human Services and…

Reorganize.

Yep, restructuring, baby.  You know it’s coming.  Complete with a whole new set of acronyms that would make the Navy green with envy.   Political jockeying, kissassing, more meetings and power point presentations than you can eat and a whole lot of hapless underlings who will sit around in vamp mode waiting to be told who they report to and what the heck they’ll be doing.

Let’s get this reorg started!

The healthcare site problem, let me take a whack at this

I have about 7 minutes to knock this one out before the bus comes. The editorial board at the nytimes weighs in this morning on the healthcare site. But if you’ve never worked in corporate America on an project that requires IT, you may miss the subtle nuances of that kind of experience.

From what I’ve seen, there are usually a couple people waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy down on the totem pole who know what’s going on and how to fix it, or want to take a new approach and have spent 6 months carefully identifying bottlenecks and opportunities.

The problem is that no one will ever hear from these people. That’s because they have to fight two management structures. They have to fight the IT management structure, which is full of borgs and vogons, and they have to fight the executive structure, whose business appears to be positioning on a status and power ladder.

To make any effective changes, the person who knows the answer has to get his expertise percolated up to the point where these two structures meet, and that is about 6 or seven levels up from where he or she sits. The borgs aren’t going to do anything without a change log thingy and the most political person in IT is, well, political. So, it’s his business to tell his mirror in the executive side that everything is peachy keen and people are working on it. The person on the executive side is covering his ass.

No one is going to put their necks on the line for the poor schlub in the trenches. Ell have meetings and tasks will be assigned but the real problems will likely not be addressed any time soon. Mostly, people just learn to live with it and find workarounds until a new contractor is brought in to design a whole new system.

The problem may very well be that there are too few full time employees ensuring the continuity of the code and coherence of the system and the MBAs are getting in the way because without systems to manage, they would have no purpose in life.

Gotta go.

I am blogger, hear me roar

I have the powerrrr!!

That’s why I was laid off, drive a beat up 2nd hand car with 110,000 miles on it and pay for my own health insurance.  My master plan to take over the world by posting unfiltered observations on an obscure outpost in the Oort belt of the blogosphere is working brilliantly.

Extreme too.  Some of my friends are vegans.  I take the bus to work.  And I want the Social Security I worked for since I was 17.

OOoooooo, scary.

For the record: If the Government defaults, Republicans are to blame

Our word is good and has been for more than 150 years.  There is absolutely no reason to default.  And Republicans have been so good at getting just about everything they want from the normal legislative process and incredibly weak Democratic president, that they have no reason to complain about spending.  Sequester?  They got it.  Slashing food stamps and taking the food out of the mouth of babes?  No problem.

So, they don’t like “entitlements”, which is just a code word for Social Security and Medicare.  Why not just keep on doing what they’re doing?  Eventually, the Democrats will get tired and let the babies have their way and they’ll put one more tiresome difference between the parties to bed.  Corey Booker will be joining the Senate in the fall, why can’t Republicans just wait for more pragmatic financier toe lickers hand picked by Obama’s DNC to come onboard?

But no, they can not wait.  The best defense is a good offense or something like that.  Why not just go at the problem whole hog and cause a lot of innocent people to lose money and demand that something be done, preferably in a hurry and without much thought of the consequences?  That’s what we’re looking at.

It’s because Republicans like it this way.

Well, Duh. (in which RD and Lambert apologize for being prematurely correct)

It’s been almost two weeks since the ACA exchange sign up system has been up and running and we have an initial evaluation courtesy of the NY Times, From the Start, Signs of Trouble at Health Portal:

WASHINGTON — In March, Henry Chao, the chief digital architect for the Obama administration’s new online insurance marketplace, told industry executives that he was deeply worried about the Web site’s debut. “Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience,” he told them.

“So much testing of the new system was so far behind schedule, I was not confident it would work well.”
—RICHARD S. FOSTER, who retired as chief actuary of the Medicare program in January

Two weeks after the rollout, few would say his hopes were realized.

For the past 12 days, a system costing more than $400 million and billed as a one-stop click-and-go hub for citizens seeking health insurance has thwarted the efforts of millions to simply log in. The growing national outcry has deeply embarrassed the White House, which has refused to say how many people have enrolled through the federal exchange.

Even some supporters of the Affordable Care Act worry that the flaws in the system, if not quickly fixed, could threaten the fiscal health of the insurance initiative, which depends on throngs of customers to spread the risk and keep prices low.

“These are not glitches,” said an insurance executive who has participated in many conference calls on the federal exchange. Like many people interviewed for this article, the executive spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying he did not wish to alienate the federal officials with whom he works. “The extent of the problems is pretty enormous. At the end of our calls, people say, ‘It’s awful, just awful.’ ”

Interviews with two dozen contractors, current and former government officials, insurance executives and consumer advocates, as well as an examination of confidential administration documents, point to a series of missteps — financial, technical and managerial — that led to the troubles.

Politics made things worse. To avoid giving ammunition to Republicans opposed to the project, the administration put off issuing several major rules until after last November’s elections. The Republican-controlled House blocked funds. More than 30 states refused to set up their own exchanges, requiring the federal government to vastly expand its project in unexpected ways.

The stakes rose even higher when Congressional opponents forced a government shutdown in the latest fight over the health care law, which will require most Americans to have health insurance. Administration officials dug in their heels, repeatedly insisting that the project was on track despite evidence to the contrary.

Dr. Donald M. Berwick, the administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2010 and 2011, said the time and budgetary pressures were a constant worry. “The staff was heroic and dedicated, but we did not have enough money, and we all knew that,” he said in an interview on Friday.

Um, money is not the problem.  After all, the social security system, IRS and Medicare don’t have these problems.  Those of us who have seen modern IT initiatives at work in these modern times have a completely different take on this.  It’s a tale about private companies seeking big contracts, using a lot of money to wine and dine the purchasing managers, executives with big bonuses and lots and lots of subcontractors here and in India that have to do the grunt work.  As I wrote earlier this year when the first signs of unreadiness were posted:

The official line is that employers and their reporting systems are not ready yet.  Also not surprised.  The idiots in charge hired Accenture to run their technology.  The hiring managers should have come to former Pharma people for a performance evaluation of Accenture first but you know, workers are never asked to critique decisions like whether hiring Accenture to design information systems was a good idea.

Here’s how it works.  Accenture breezes into a company with their sharp suits and flashy presentations and completely bamboozles the management with promises of slick vaporware. Then they subcontract out to a couple of companies, who subcontract to India.  The Indian subcontractors do the best they can with limited information and the template code into which every business model must fit.  That gets passed back to the poor guy stateside who has to debug and rewrite everything.  The final result is, well, never final.  I’ve never known an Accenture job that actually completed on time, under budget and with all the bells and whistles that were initially promised.  The Pharma landscape is littered with systems that don’t work very well but have pushed aside the in-house programs they outbid to replace.  Meanwhile, the Accenture guys just move to another company.  Commence the parties and golf outings!

And why should we be surprised?  This health care policy was all about campaigning and the worst kind of politics.  It was not about well crafted public policy. It was about letting the private sector make a profit off of healthcare for the uninsured and those of us already paying astronomical rates for individual policies.  In fact, almost from the start, the Obama administration made it perfectly clear that the dirty f^&*ing hippies could be safely ignored and no one had to pay attention to public options or single payer.  They were not invited to the meetings where “everything is on the table” because the Obama crew and their law and biz school pedigrees already knew what was best for Obama.  Best for us?  What did that matter? Highjacking those Democratic activists who thought so highly of their intellectual capabilities was incredibly easy and after that, they didn’t need to answer to anyone.

I keep saying it all goes back to the primaries of 2008 but does anyone listen?  {{sigh}}

Don’t expect anyone to accept responsibility.  In fact, every subcontractor involved is busily pointing fingers at each other in that NYT article.  Maybe it would have been better to let ONE government agency handle it and NOT insist that every private IT industry partner with their hands out participate.  I expect that the Obama administration and its armchair cheerleaders will say something like, “Well, it’s too late to do anything about it now and the money’s already spent so, you know, suck it up.”.  Then the Republicans will point at it as just another example of government failure when we’ve already had so many instances of government success that could have been better examples.  A better response might be “Medicare for All” where everyone is covered and the government (that would be US, oh best beloved) has the size and power to force cost control measures on the medical industry. It’s only one possible solution from many possible solutions of national health care policies from around the world. Something like single payer or public option would set Republicans’ hair on fire and guarantee Democratic majorities for generations.

I’m not sure what the Obama fan boys (white male graduate student types) thought they were getting when they forced Obama on the rest of us but what they actually got was a guy who is ideologically opposed to New Deal type initiatives and loves modern finance solutions (and how has that worked for us in the past 5 years?) and Accenture was right up his alley.  And note that we haven’t even discussed whether the exchanges offer a good, affordable product that isn’t inferior to the one you might get if you were covered by your employer.  Those of us in the individual market who used to have company plans know the difference.  Our number is legion these days and we’re a lot harder to bamboozle.

As Jon Stewart pointed out last week, the administration has had 4 years to get this right.  That’s a lot of time.  There really shouldn’t be any acceptable excuses.  On the other hand, this *IS* how the private sector works when it comes to big, expensive interfaces.

You get what you vote for.  Oh, you didn’t vote for this?

For more continuing coverage and critique, check out Lambert’s ObamaCare ClusterF^&* series at Corrente where Lambert was prematurely correct on the technology rollout. This post from May seems especially relevant.

One more thing:

I haven’t been paying attention to this site as much as I used to due to real life stuff but oddly enough, a few months ago I was going through the spam filter in my hip waders when I ran across a slew of comments about the upcoming implementation of the ACA.  These comments were all unreservedly enthusiastic about the ACA, which I thought was really weird.  It’s weird because we haven’t set up any trigger words in our settings file that would automatically filter out these kinds of comments.  You can gush all you want about the magic beans in Obamacare and your comment should get through without any interruption.

So, why were these comments automatically tagged as spam?  My theory is that these comments came from a company that was originally hired by either the DNC or the Obama campaign in 2008.  At one point in time back then (about may-June 2008), we got sick of the comments that accused us of being racists or stupid or stupid racists or old women or failing to jump on this historic bandwagon of “yes we can”dom so we started throwing certain usernames and IP addresses of the most persistent and annoying of these commenters into the spam filter.  The policy of this site was to not allow our readers to be subjected to a lot of spamesque peer pressure.  A lot of other sites allowed comments like that through and they quickly became unrecognizable campaign mouthpieces.  We didn’t want that to happen here so we spammed them.

Now, I rescued those comments from the spam filter and put them in the moderation queue for further research but haven’t done the actual work yet because cross referencing them against the settings file entries seems tedious but if anyone else wants to take this on, let me know and I’ll forward them and you can knock yourself out.  But the reason I bring this up is that I’ve been to the NYTimes comments section on the article listed above and it seems like there are an awful lot of “I logged into the exchange the first day and got a great deal on an insurance policy so quicherbitchin” type comments there.  They may be genuine, if so they are among the tiny few that got on the exchanges and purchased successfully (I think the number is something like 51,000 successful logins and fewer successful purchases).

But if they’re not, I’d like to know who or what is paying for the online astroturf.

Let’s get something straight

George Will is a twit.  I never liked his bow tie.  It was never cool.  And since he jumped to Fox, he’s now required to not only be conservative, now he has to pander to his audience with over the top rhetoric that makes no damn sense.

HOWEVER,

It is absolutely true that the ACA has created two classes of citizens: those who are protected (at least temporarily) by their employer’s health insurance policies, and a second class that will be systemically exploited by a private insurance market.  The systemic exploitation comes from a mandate to buy insurance, a lack of transparency on how the rates are determined, and a vastly inferior product.  Oh, yes it is a vastly inferior product.  If you can’t get covered while you’re on vacation like the person who is lucky enough to have employer provided insurance, then it’s a bad product and that’s just one of the many differences between the two.

There are no controls on costs, which means that hospitals that are cashing in big on employer-insurance company private contracts don’t want to participate, further reducing access to treatment.  The only control that the consumer has is to not use the product that they were forced to buy.

I’m not sure what you would call that but if only some people are forced to participate into buying crap while other people get a pass (for now), but it sure smacks of something from the pre-civil rights days.  Then, to top it all off, it falls most heavily on minority populations and everyone who was laid off in the past several years.  If I were the Democrats, I’d be worried about that last group.  They’re sprinkled all over suburban districts these days.

So, George Will is still a twit and he doesn’t really mean what he’s saying.  He’s just saying it because someone is paying him the big bucks to say it.

But that doesn’t mean that the “separate but equal” idea doesn’t have real meaning when it comes to Obamacare.

Worst suspicions realized with Obamacare

Have you been following Lambert and Team’s Obamacare ClusterF^&* series on Corrente? They’re culling the internet and getting personal stories about what it’s like to sign up for the exchanges from around the country.  It ain’t pretty.  Some of their findings:

  • The sign-up procedure appears to be a way of matching your credit score to how much you will pay for a policy.  If you’ve been out of work for some time, have medical bills or have some other unforeseen life event that affected your credit score, expect to pay more for your health care.
  • The exchange policies are thin.  They are mostly in-network policies.  Unfortunately, you can’t always predict whether the guy who treats you in the ER is going to be in your network.  Come to think of it, that time I broke my wrist on vacation in Florida probably wouldn’t be covered so now you’re going to have to think ahead and purchase policies when ever you go out of town for any reason.
  • Cancer treatment may not be covered, or not covered in the way you thought.  You may not get the best treatment or the doctor you want because of the restrictions on the policy.
  • The websites are kludgy and definitely not ready for prime time in some places.

Here’s my overall impression: If you’re covered by your employer, you should consider yourself extremely lucky but be aware that no job is secure these days.  If you’re not covered by your employer, you fall into this “separate but equal” category thing.  Obamacare is supposed to help you get affordable healthcare but you might as well be using the other entrance, drinking from a spigot and barred from the nicer places of business.  They don’t want your kind hanging around.  If this is a *national* healthcare policy, it should be unconstitutional.  The difference is that now the discrimination is based on how you are employed.

On the other hand, there’s a possibility that now a lot more people will know what it feels like to be a discriminated minority.

Hard to believe that Democrats went along with this.

 

Thinking like a Republican…

(I don’t mean the Eisenhower-Lincoln-Teddy Roosevelt kind, I mean the hardass Ted Cruz, Grover Norquist, Eric Cantor kind)

… if I were a Republican who was really ambitious and had adopted the values and attitudes of my sponsors, I would see this debt ceiling battle as possibly my party’s last stand.  With the gullible generation dying off, my party is going to start losing seats gradually.  It’s going to get harder and harder to do what I was elected to do, that is, kill the New Deal and that pesky Social Security.

I don’t have to kill it all by myself.  All I have to do is cripple it enough that people start seeing it as welfare.  I just have to drive a wedge between generations and make sure that younger people start seeing seniors as spoiled, bigoted, whiney, freeloaders.  They’ve gotten a pass up to this point because my party has made sure that they feel  that their own benefits are not under attack.

But if I don’t hold out for “entitlement reform”, which unsophisticated seniors who watch Fox think is medicaid, food stamps and student loans or something for younger people who haven’t had to “build character”, then I haven’t done my job.  And if that means that the US has to default on its loans to generate enough of a crisis that cutting social security and sending it on its way towards oblivion is presented as the ONLY option for saving all of us from catastrophe, then I will have fulfilled my mission and my sponsors will reward me generously even if my party loses in the next mid-term election.  In fact, sacrificing my party is Ok.  We’ll just become like the House of Lords or something for awhile and let the rifts in the Democratic party deal with our new normal.

So, bring on the default.  What do I care?  This is what I was brought up and indoctrinated to do for the past 80 years.  There is nothing more insidious than Social Security and Medicare.  They’ve got to go even if we have to sacrifice our political careers and bring the world’s economy to a screeching halt.  The general public still doesn’t really get what we are up to.  It thinks this is about the deficit.  That’s fine.  They won’t know what hit them.  Time is fleeting but it’s still on our side and nothing will deter us or deflect us from our goal.

Now, if I were a Democrat, I’d stop calling Republicans crazy.