Free Market Health Care

Writing in Forbes Magazine this week, Shikha Dalmia tells of the American myth regarding health care:

Both ObamaCare’s supporters and opponents believe that –unlike Europe– America has something called a free market health care system. So long as this myth holds sway, it will be exceedingly difficult to prescribe free market fixes to America’s health care woes–or, conversely, end the lure of big government remedies.
The major difference between America and Europe of course is that America does not guarantee universal health insurance whereas Europe does. But this is not as big a deal as it might seem. Uncle Sam, along with state governments, still picks up nearly half of the country’s $2.5 trillion annual health care tab.

Ms Shickha goes on to explain that although U.S. health care costs are higher as a percent of GDP than those of Germany and France, it is because these EU countries ration health care by restricting access.

But the most potent form of rationing in France and Germany–and indeed much of Europe–is not overt, but covert: delayed access to cutting-edge drugs and therapies that become available to American patients years in advance.

The point is that there is no health care model, whether privately or publicly financed, that can offer unlimited access to medical services while containing costs. Ultimately, such a model arrives at a cross roads where it has to either limit access in an arbitrary way, or face uncontrolled cost increases. France and Germany, which are mostly publicly funded, are increasingly marching down the first road. America, which is half publicly and half privately funded, has so far taken the second path. Should America offer even more people such unlimited access through universal coverage, it too will end up rationing care or facing national bankruptcy.

The only sustainable system that avoids this Hobson’s choice is one that is based on a genuine free market in which there is some connection between what patients pay for coverage and the services they receive. That is emphatically not what America or any Western country has today. Looking to these countries for solutions as Obama and other advocates of universal health coverage are doing will lead to false diagnoses and false cures.

Don Watkins over at the Ayn Rand Center believes that it is time for a debate on the morality of universal health care:

Ezra Klein asks: What happened to the moral case for health care reform? Why is the Obama administration relying on the argument that its plan will save the government money rather than supposedly ethical notions such as “equal treatment for everybody”? According to Klein, those are the kinds of arguments that could sway the American public toward accepting socialized medi…, sorry, “national health care.”

Well, let me register my agreement with Ezra: it is time for a moral debate about health care.

* It’s time for a debate between those who demand “equal treatment for everybody” (except those who are to be unequally taxed to pay for it)–and those who demand equal freedom for Americans to purchase as much health care as they can afford.

* It’s time for a debate between those who believe it’s proper to force some people to pay for the health care needs of others–and those who believe that individuals should pay for their own health care or else appeal to private charity.

* It’s time for a debate between those who think doctors should be made into state employees, taking orders from bureaucrats who will decide which tests to perform and which treatments to offer–and those who believe that doctors have a right to offer their services to willing consumers on a free market.

* It’s time for a debate between those who think that the government should be able to dictate the private choices of individuals on the grounds that “society” is picking up the tab for their behavior–and those who think that each individual should be free to act on his own judgment, while taking responsibility for his own choices.

* It’s time for a debate between those who appeal to an entitlement mentality that demands the unearned–and those who believe in paying for what they get.

The health care debate is ultimately about morality. We face a choice between European-style health care based on European-style egalitarianism and envy–and American-style freedom in medicine based on American-style individualism. So, Ezra, which do you think is consistent with America’s founding principles?

Winter Soldier II?

Another war has ended and the bottom-feeding media is having difficulty selling newsprint. Soldiers have returned to life in America and a nasty recession has greeted their return. Transferred to the post at Fort Carson, just outside of Colorado Springs, a few acclimating soldiers committed violent crimes and others suffered from stress disorders. When caught by the authorities, the criminal perpetrator's "devil in the details" seems somehow to begin with the Iraqi war halfway around the world.

Just as John Kerry testified before Congress as a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against The War (VVAW)during the Winter Soldier Hearings in April of 1971, another set of stories are emerging from ex-soldiers interviewed by the Colorado Springs Gazette. First let's remember Kerry's testimony as related by Mark Steyn:

In his testimony to Congress in 1971, Kerry asserted a scale of routine war crimes unparalleled in American history -- his "band of brothers" (as he now calls them) "personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads . . . razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan." Almost all these claims were unsupported. Indeed, the only specific example of a U.S. war criminal that Kerry gave was himself. As he said on "Meet The Press" in April 1971, "Yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I used 50-caliber machine-guns, which we were granted and ordered to use."

The Gazette starts its military hit piece by setting up a "universal truth" argument:

For as long as wars have been waged, soldiers have been sent to kill or be killed. The lucky ones survive. Some return home unscathed; others are shell-shocked and emotionally scarred for life.

That’s been true forever. But something changed in Iraq. Thanks to modern medicine, transportation and gear, soldiers survived injuries that would have killed yesterday’s troops. They patrolled streets without battle lines, where smiling civilians waved one day and silently watched ambushes the next. Multiple deployments moved soldiers from war to home and back, again and again.

Most found a way to cope. But in one Fort Carson unit that took heavy casualties, men began to break.

Fort Carson houses some 20,000 regular Army troops including 3,700 from 4th Infantry's mechanized 4th Brigade Combat Team. The Colorado Springs newspaper's story, written by Dave Phillips, is about 10 members of the 4th Brigade, who "have been arrested and accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter since 2006."

Doing the math, ten violent crimes from a total population 20,000 troops is a very small percentage (.05%) and it is less than .3% of the 4th Brigade's troops. The percentage numbers get even smaller when you consider that 100% of the troops will be rotated out of unit assignments about every three years, so the affected troop personnel are at least one third higher than static headcounts. As a benchmark, violent crimes in Denver last year represented .63% when measured against population.

But this two part series on the perceived effects of war on these soldiers was a gut-wrenching intrusion into their privacy and that of their relatives. How much of the articles detail is speculation and how much ot the writing is empirical fact is not easily decipherable :

[Antonio Marquez] used a stun gun to repeatedly shock a small-time drug dealer . . . over an ounce of marijuana, then shot him through the heart.

In August 2007, Louis Bressler, 24, robbed and shot a soldier he picked up on a street in Colorado Springs.

In December 2007, Bressler and fellow soldiers Bruce Bastien Jr., 21, and Kenneth Eastridge, 24, left the bullet-riddled body of a soldier from their unit on a west-side street.

In May and June 2008, police say Rudolfo Torres-Gandarilla, 20, and Jomar Falu-Vives, 23, drove around with an assault rifle, randomly shooting people.

In September 2008, police say John Needham, 25, beat a former girlfriend to death.

These facts are indisputable but the conversations detailed in the report, while interesting, are certainly not all truth. Some soldiers interviewed admitted to lying to superiors. As can be seen in all feature stories based largely on personal interviews, the holes in the story are often filled in by the writer's speculations and assessments of what might have been.

Read Part I here and Part II here. The Cliff Notes version is at the Washington Examiner. Please keep in mind that this is not Winter Soldier II.

Neither Rain, Nor Snow . . .

The U.S. Post Office is self sufficient. Just ask them. Well, maybe we should ask The WaPo:

Combine the impact of new technologies with the gut punch of the recession, and in the past year alone, the Postal Service has seen the single largest drop-off in mail volume in its 234-year history, greater even than the decline from 1929 to 1933 during the Great Depression. That downward trend is only accelerating. The Postal Service projects a decline of about 10 billion pieces of mail in each of the next two years, going from a high of 213 billion pieces of mail in 2006 to 170 billion projected for 2010.

The situation is so dire that the Postal Service, which is projecting a $6 billion shortfall by the end of September despite a recent postage rate increase, will go to Congress this month to seek emergency relief, looking to cut home mail delivery from six days a week to five. Already, the Postal Service has cut hours at hundreds of post offices across the country, including 56 of the Washington area's 386 outlets. It has consolidated routes, dropping 158 delivery routes locally [in DC], offered workers early retirement and imposed hiring and salary freezes. Still, said Postmaster General John E. Potter, the service is in "acute financial crisis."

The bottom line:

Over the next three months, more than 3,200 post offices and retail outlets — out of 34,000 — will be reviewed for possible closure or consolidation.

Downsizing is a business imperative, says Linda Welch, acting vice president of delivery and post office operations at the Postal Service. “Revenues have declined, and mail volume continues to decline,” she says.

Not only have e-mail and electronic bill paying made for a skinnier mail stream, but the recession has caused a sharp pullback in advertising mail that has hurt the Postal Service even more.

A Tale of Two Cities

School board members across the country are well "schooled" [pun intended] in the political art of squeezing more property tax and state-provided support from local taxpayers and state legislators. The methodology is simple. First draw up and submit a generous spending budget packed with all the bells and whistles. Provide alternate budget data that shows that any deviation from the budget will result in the cutting of classroom teachers and a significant increase in class sizes. Then the board should emphasize that this path is not good "for the children."

In Fort Wayne, IN, property tax bills for the year have reached the taxpayers and the new state law governing property tax caps is already affecting the hallowed halls of Fort Wayne Community Schools (if you are to believe the very liberal Journal-Gazette).

FWCS will collect $1.1 million less in property tax revenues this year as a result of the caps, most of it lost to the 2.5 percent cap on rental properties. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. When the tax caps are fully phased in next year, the credits are expected to grow to $23.6 million, with an estimated loss of $2.6 million to the school district.

Kathy Friend, chief financial officer for FWCS, said the money will reduce all but one of the district’s property tax-supported funds, including the capital projects fund that covers much-needed improvements to school buildings. Debt service obligations are the only expenses exempt from the loss, which is why circuit-breakers aren’t truly a cap. Taxes can still increase with voter-approved projects.

By 2011, tax credits countywide are estimated to reach $29 million – a figure too great to make up with simple budget trims. Local government officials will ultimately have to look at either raising other taxes to bridge the shortfall or slash public services – or both.

Fort Wayne city schools will enroll about 31,200 students for the 2009-10 school year distributed among 35 elementary, 12 middle and 7 high school buildings using a fleet of about 250 buses at a cost of $11,359 per student. Last year the school district employed 1931 (FTE) teachers with an average pay of $51,277 . . . along with a generous fringe benefit package which includes underfunded pension entitlements.

So with a $356 million budget, how badly will the chump change of $1.1 million be missed? Well, predictably the school corporation laid off 108 teachers whose salaries total over $5 million. Then they ran out and hired 95 of them back when the federal stimulus funds were granted to the district.

The district will receive more than $7.1 million from President Obama’s package to dedicate to Title I and more than $6.8 million for special education over two years.

Now lets look a school district with a real funding problem . . . Olmsted Falls, OH.

The failure of operating levies in both November 2008 and February 2009 have led District officials to begin the process of implementing the Educational Reduction Plan approved by the Board of Education this past January. With no significant improvement in poll results between the February and November elections, the Board of Education has made the decision to not place the operating levy back on the ballot in May 2009 (which would have been the next opportunity to do so). In the meantime, cuts to programs and services, which will take effect with the start of the 2009-2010 school year or sooner, include but are not limited to:

• Elimination of all High School busing (for public, private and parochial schools)

• Reduction in K-8 busing services (details to be provided as they are finalized)

• Implementation of salary freeze for administration (enacted at 3-17-09 Board of Education meeting)

• Shifting of custodial maintenance work week to reduce weekend overtime (new schedule already in place)

• Implementation of hourly fee for weekend usage of school buildings (effective April 6, 2009)

• Reduction of summer maintenance personnel (effective Summer 2009)

• Elimination of Summer Discovery / Magic programs (effective June 2009)

• Elimination of HS Business program (enacted for 09-10 school year)

• Elimination of HS German program (enacted for 09-10 school year)

• Reduction of HS Industrial Arts courses (enacted for 09-10 school year)

• Reduction of HS Latin courses (enacted for 09-10 school year)

• Additional Reductions in District Personnel (in areas of physical education, music, technology and media centers)

• Reduction of all building supply budgets (completed)

• No purchase of new Language Arts textbooks and related curriculum materials

The Board will continue discussions regarding exactly when to next place the operating levy back on the ballot - August 2009 and November 2009 are the next two ballot opportunities

There is speculation that the Olmsted falls board will also implement an "extra-curricular participation fee" policy whereby parents will have to shell out up to $1,000 for their children to play sports, sing in the choir or take part in other activities beginning this fall.

Olmsted voters have not approved a supplemental operating funds initiative in ten years, but they did approve the building of an additional school two years ago.

Obama's Heathcare Lies

The Associated Press reminds us that Obama's healthcare rhetoric included the promise that private insurance plans would remain an option under his proposed reforms that would also include a "public option."

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama seems to leave little room for doubt when he promises that his health care plan will let people keep the coverage they have. His vow sounds reassuring and gets applause, but no president could guarantee such a pledge.

Employers sponsor coverage for most families, and Obama's plan still leaves companies free to change their health plans in ways that workers may not like. Employers can even drop insurance altogether.

"No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people," Obama said Monday, addressing the American Medical Association. "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what."

He didn't let up.

"If you like what you're getting, keep it," Obama said. "Nobody is forcing you to shift."

Lo and behold! IBD picked up the the House version of the new legislation . . . and what did they find?

It didn't take long to run into an "uh-oh" moment when reading the House's "health care for all Americans" bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.

When we first saw the paragraph Tuesday, just after the 1,018-page document was released, we thought we surely must be misreading it. So we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee.

It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:

"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law."

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.

From the beginning, opponents of the public option plan have warned that if the government gets into the business of offering subsidized health insurance coverage, the private insurance market will wither. Drawn by a public option that will be 30% to 40% cheaper than their current premiums because taxpayers will be funding it, employers will gladly scrap their private plans and go with Washington's coverage.

The nonpartisan Lewin Group estimated in April that 120 million or more Americans could lose their group coverage at work and end up in such a program. That would leave private carriers with 50 million or fewer customers. This could cause the market to, as Lewin Vice President John Sheils put it, "fizzle out altogether."

What wasn't known until now is that the bill itself will kill the market for private individual coverage by not letting any new policies be written after the public option becomes law.

The legislation is also likely to finish off health savings accounts, a goal that Democrats have had for years. They want to crush that alternative because nothing gives individuals more control over their medical care, and the government less, than HSAs.

With HSAs out of the way, a key obstacle to the left's expansion of the welfare state will be removed.

The public option won't be an option for many, but rather a mandate for buying government care. A free people should be outraged at this advance of soft tyranny.

Washington does not have the constitutional or moral authority to outlaw private markets in which parties voluntarily participate. It shouldn't be killing business opportunities, or limiting choices, or legislating major changes in Americans' lives.

It took just 16 pages of reading to find this naked attempt by the political powers to increase their reach. It's scary to think how many more breaches of liberty we'll come across in the final 1,002.

The strange thing about this is that a recent Rasmussen poll shows that 70% of Americans rated their present health insurance plan "good" or "excellent." So we will now spend $4 Trillion to displace 79 million Americans from their present coverage.

Bill Gates' Folly

Equity Private at finem respice spots this news about Bill Gates and friends filing a patent for a method to stop hurricanes. TechFlash reports:

Microsoft's chairman is among the inventors listed on a new batch of patent applications that propose using large fleets of vessels to suppress hurricanes through various methods of mixing warm water from the surface of the ocean with colder water at greater depths. The idea is to decrease the surface temperature, reducing or eliminating the heat-driven condensation that fuels the giant storms.

I am reminded of Michael Crichton's writings in his prologue to Jurassic Park where he derides man's "intoxicating vanities" that would permit belief that man is capable of altering or harming the earth:

This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can't imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven't got the humility to try. We've been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we're gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.

Dr. Crichton also rightfully observed that things environmental are not always as they seem:

Most people assume linearity in environmental processes, but the world is largely non-linear: it's a complex system. An important feature of complex systems is that we don’t know how they work. We don’t understand them except in a general way; we simply interact with them. Whenever we think we understand them, we learn we don’t. Sometimes spectacularly.

Equity Private was thinking the same way when she wrote this about "Gates' Folly."

It is difficult to connect with the concept that complex systems are... well... complex. That is, just pulling a lever or two on the "input" is not guaranteed to get you either the results you want, nor assure you won't get worse results in some other way. This is easy to recognize as the not-a-law "law of unintended consequences," but very difficult to apply critically to grand ideas by charismatic visionaries with a talent for public relations- the somewhat crass art that has become the central skill requirement in modern politics.

The deeper issue from my perspective is still one of conceit. "Hurricanes are caused by warm surface water. Let's just cool the surface water. Problem solved." Not quite, I suspect.

Who exactly would be liable for the sudden weather changes on the African West Coast?

Sarah Palin, Political Genius

The New York Times and the Obama media have begun piling on Sarah Palin with opinion hit pieces such as this, this, and this.

Low and behold, from an unexpected extreme liberal source comes an assessment of Governor Palin that only her stanch conservative supporters believe and understand totally. Ladies and Gentlemen: Straight from the Socialist Republic of San Francisco, I present the one, the only . . . "Da Mayor" Willie Brown!

The pundits are wrong. Conventional wisdom is wrong. Sarah Palin's decision to step down as Alaska governor was a brilliant move.

Palin has some of the best political instincts I have ever seen. She became a pop-culture superstar overnight when John McCain made her his veep pick, and she's still second only to President Obama among politicians the public is interested in. Even in liberal San Francisco, she'd be front-page news if she ever came to town.

But that kind of celebrity comes at a high price. What a lot of people don't know is that Palin entered Alaska politics as a reformer attacking the corruption of the state's Republican establishment. As such, she was the darling of the Democrats - until she hooked up with McCain.

After the election, with Palin back home but positioning herself for a 2012 presidential run, it was clear she would catch nothing but ridicule from Alaska's Democrats. It was not going to be pretty.

If Palin wants to play on the national field, she has to be free to move around. She has to be able to drop into Indiana, Ohio or Tennessee and help Republican candidates raise money. She has to be available for radio and TV.

She has to be like Gavin Newsom, free to roam around the country, safe in the knowledge that things will pretty much take care of themselves back home.

Instead, Palin faced the prospect of being constantly pinned down in a state that is a day and a half away from the rest of America. She would have been totally isolated in every sense of the word.

Now she can study up on issues where she is lacking and become a full-time political celebrity.

The pundits call her a quitter, but let's be honest - the pundits never liked her to begin with. Better to take one hit for stepping down and move on than to stay in Alaska and die a death by a thousand cuts.

Governor or not, Palin is still the biggest star in the Republican galaxy. After all, who else have they got?

Justice Ginzberg does not favor Eugenics

Writer Emily Bazelon conducted an interview for the New York Times Magazine with Ruth Bader Ginzberg on "The Place of Women on the Court." The questions were carefully crafted to elicit only the liberal feminist view of the necessity for women on the Supreme Court and to discuss only the "woman's rights" aspect of Roe v. Wade. I am saddened to see that many reputable conservative bloggers used a partial quotation from the interview to the twist the meaning of the justice's remarks (see here, here, here, and here).

The interview questions were all pro-female and anti-male in nature obviously emphasizing female sexism. I cannot bring myself to recite all of the leading questions and the generally narcissistic responses from Ginzberg. The Roe v. Wade discussion unexpectedly elicited a mistaken view that Justice Ginzberg favored Eugenics otherwise known as Social Darwinism. The dialogue was as follows:

Q: If you were a lawyer again, what would you want to accomplish as a future feminist legal agenda?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that had changed their abortion laws before Roe [to make abortion legal] are not going to change back. So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.

Q: Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.

Obviously, her final sentence wiped away the eugenics part of her answer.

Sarah Palin's Slow Fade

J.B. White at RattlerGatorBlog magically ties together two political leaders that he has deeply admired. Enjoy.

Keep on Keepin' On, Sarah!

If you've read my blog for some period of time beyond the last few months you know that I love Sarah Palin. I still have a difficult time figuring out what's not to love. All of the critiques friends and pundits have delivered ultimately embarrass them far more than Sarah. So it is with her decision to step down. I received an excited call on Saturday while driving to Jacksonville asking if I had heard the news about Palin. No, I replied, worried that something tragic had happened to her.

She resigned!

Resigned, I asked? (Relief swept over me; something like, "Oh. Okay.") What happened, I asked?

Once the basic information was given to me, I immediately determined this was a savvy move -- regardless of what her ulterior motive might have been. I explained to my friend that the Democrats ginned up manufactured B.S. scandals during the last election cycle. I know, because I received repeated calls about this or that obviously ridiculous phony scandal. I wanted to ask my friend this: did he really believe they wouldn't continue to do the same? Did he doubt there was a set-up waiting for her within the realm of Alaska Democrat politics? With a very willing D.C. and New York media at the ready?

I get extremely upset by people who should know better participating in the outrageous sliming of this good woman. And my recollection is similar to John Hayward's and I acutely remember all of this because it reflected my conventional wisdom at the time and all of those around me, including my mentors:

From my endless archives, a few samples of how the major media wrote off Ronald Reagan repeatedly:

Newsweek, 1971, “Ronald Reagan’s Slow Fade,” ended with the judgment that “the somber truth is that Sacramento may mark the end of Ronald Reagan’s political road. . . By every normal measure, Ronald Reagan ought to be entitled to any political future he wants. A close aide said, 'The Presidency? Oh, he’s not interested. Four more years and I think you’ll see Ronald Reagan riding one of his horses off into the sunset.'” And see Stephen Roberts in the New York Times Magazine: “In 1976, the reasoning goes, Reagan would be 65, and too old to run.” “When a guy’s built on celluloid,” Democratic State Senator George Moscone said, “he goes up fast, but he burns out quickly.”

After the 1976 campaign, Newsweek offered a reprise, “Into the Sunset": "The concluding line of Reagan’s convention speech — 'There is no substitute for victory' — could also turn out to be a epitaph for his own political career."

And not to be left out, John Coyne wrote in some magazine called National Review that "Reagan seems somewhat out of step with the new political stirrings, a man very much of the Sixties. . . . For a decade he has been a central symbol of everything that is best in what we call the conservative movement, and if his approach and his ideas are obsolete, then so are those many of us who believe in him. And it’s never much fun to be a middle-aged anachronism."

Everyone should apply the appropriate discount to the Palin commentary and analysis they read today.

I'd like to tell all of Sarah Palin's enemies to put that in their "sho' nuff pipe" and smoke it till you gag, fool!

Where Have You Gone, Ron Wilson Reagan?

On September 12, 2009 The Tea Party Movement goes to Capital Hill!

H/T: The Other McCain

TEA Time For Sarah?

Bloggers are beginning to speculate on the underlying purpose of Sarah Palin's resignation as Alaska's governor. Early on, influential conservative bloggers such as Bill Kristol and Mark Levin marked Palin's July 3rd press conference as the beginning of her 2012 presidential campaign. As time has passed, another theory is emerging.

Yesterday my mind was moved to another distinct possibility by Richard Fernandez at his Belmont Club blog on Pajamas Media

The text of her announcement, as excerpted by the AP suggests that she may be aiming to position herself as the center of a movement — in effect going outside the system – rather than aspiring to be just another one of the Republican Presidential candidates for 2012. Sarah Palin may be calculating that, with employment rates at their lowest point in decades and with polls showing a widespread fear for the country’s future, that a crisis is brewing or will soon burst. A real crisis would seek a natural center, a point around which to rally; and she would be it. For the Republican Party, a Palin at the center of “Tea Parties” and other unconventional protests would raise the risk of draining away support from the party, which to be fair, has done precious little to harness dissent itself.

In a hastily arranged news conference at her home in suburban Wasilla, Palin said she will formally step down July 26, and Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell will be inaugurated at the governor’s picnic in Fairbanks. She said she had decided against running for re-election as Alaska’s governor, and believed it was best to leave office even though she had two years left to her term.

Palin hinted she had a bigger role in mind, saying she wanted to make a “positive change outside government.” But she kept supporters in suspense, promising on Twitter: “We’ll soon attach info on decision to not seek re-election … this is in Alaska’s best interest, my family’s happy … it is good. Stay tuned.”

If something resembling a crisis does break out in the next six months then Sarah Palin’s “unconventional” or “puzzling” move will be retroactively described as an act of genius. But if nothing impends, then Sarah Palin will risk wearing herself out on the public stage even before the 2012 election season begins. Whether or not she has made the right move remains to be seen. In politics as in all else, “something must be left to chance; nothing is certain … [but] no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside the enemy.”

The "Tea Parties" idea appeals to me, but it is not without its dangers. In the discussion following his post, Richard (posting as Wretchard) observes:

If Sarah Palin continues to be politically active she will have a destabilizing effect, the only question being who she destabilizes more, the Democrats or the Republicans. Her greatest impact would be if she led “movements”, which by their nature focus on a particular issue and draw support from across party lines. Movements are far more volatile political beasts than electoral political parties. They can grow explosively or get out of hand. Unless they are revolutions “movements” don’t capture power by themselves. However their effect is normally captured by electoral parties.

The real challenge for the Republican Party is to re-architecture itself so that it can derive impetus from the grassroots movements instead of feeling threatened by them. But the Republican Party may have to lose many more hacks and opportunists before it can do so.

So far in 2009, there have been approximately 2000 TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Parties across the United States, but the government-controlled media has managed to minimize their effect upon the citizenry. What is needed is a lightning rod personality to spark the grassroots effort to reign in "government terror by taxation and spending." Sarah Louise Heath Palin is the right person at the right time, because unlike the Obama administration, which spends all its time telling us what we cannot do, Palin has always told us what we are capable of doing.

Tea, anyone?

Sarah Palin: One Day Later

Sarah Palin has now posted her reaction to the media storm that followed her press conference announcing her resignation as Governor of Alaska. This Facebook posting indicates that we have not heard the last of Sarah in American politics:

For months now, I have consulted with friends and family, and with the Lieutenant Governor, about what is best for our wonderful state. I even made a few administrative changes over that course in time in preparation for yesterday. We have accomplished so much and there's much more to do, but my family and I determined after prayerful consideration that sacrificing my title helps Alaska most. And once I decided not to run for re-election, my decision was that much easier - I've never been one to waste time or resources. Those who know me know this is the right decision and obvious decision at that, including Senator John McCain. I thank him for his kind, insightful comments.

The response in the main stream media has been most predictable, ironic, and as always, detached from the lives of ordinary Americans who are sick of the "politics of personal destruction". How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it's about country. And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make. But every American understands what it takes to make a decision because it's right for all, including your family.

I am now looking ahead and how we can advance this country together with our values of less government intervention, greater energy independence, stronger national security, and much-needed fiscal restraint. I hope you will join me. Now is the time to rebuild and help our nation achieve greatness!

God bless you! And I look forward to making a difference - with you!

Grand Old Gang

“Grand Ol’ Gang” by Andy Thomas is one of two paintings Thomas has done depicting U.S. Presidents gathered together for a friendly game of poker.

So I said to him, "Barack, I know Abe Lincoln, and you ain't Abe Lincoln."

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

......Abraham Lincoln

H/T: Doug Ross