Monday, September 30, 2013

Sauce for the goose

From Instapundit:

SHOCKING NEWS FROM SCIENCE: Millionaire men happy to date non-millionaire women; millionaire women mostly interested in millionaire men. “It seems that financially independent men want to share their wealth with those less fortunate. With women, the story is much different.”

Hogamus hergamus, women hypergamous.

So millionaire men are paragons whose romantic preferences have nothing to do with money while millionaire women will ignore character and virtue to focus on finances, right? Not exactly. Here’s what the linked story actually says - in the title no less (emphasis mine):

Millionaire Men Prefer To Date Women With Less Money

Millionaire men don’t ignore a woman’s financial status any more than millionaire women do. Rather, millionaire men have an active preference for women with less money. And while rich men’s desire for “a partner they can take care of” can certainly be dressed up as “shar[ing] their wealth with those less fortunate,” it looks a lot like hypogamy to me.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I may not agree with what you say ...

… but I will defend to the death your right to say it. - My mother's explanation to me of the meaning of freedom of speech under the United States Constitution and, yes, I do realize she was quoting - or at least paraphrasing - someone else.

Julian Bond, President Emeritus of the NAACP, was asked recently about the IRS targeting theTea Party, especially in light of his objections to the IRS auditing the NAACP during the Bush Administration. Mr. Bond replied in part:

I think it’s entirely legitimate to look at the tea party. I mean, here are a group of people who are admittedly racist, who are overtly political, who’ve tried as best they can to harm President Obama in every way they can.

That's an interesting argument. Bond appear to be saying that it is legitimate for the IRS to take a special look at the Tea Party because it is:

- it is admittedly racist;
- it is overtly political;
- it has tried its best to harm President Obama.

I'm going to leave aside the issue of whether the Tea Party is overtly political in any sense that matters to the IRS, and the issue of whether the Tea Party has tried to harm President Obama (as well as the issue of what he means by "harm"). Those would be rich subjects to explore but they are not my focus. Furthermore, I am going to note in passing that the Tea Party is not "admittedly" racist but that is not my focus either. My focus is on Mr. Bond's apparent belief that an organization's racism has something to do with whether it is appropriate for the IRS to subject it to exceptional scrutiny. It does not.

The IRS does not exist to police the beliefs of individuals or the policies of groups.

If I believe that straight white Anglo-Saxon Protestant men are the only hope for the country and want to set up a group to educate everyone about my beliefs, I should be able to do so without the IRS subjecting me to a more intensive examination than it would give me if I believed that straight white Anglo-Protestant men were the bane of the country and wanted to educate my fellow citizens about those beliefs. It is no business of the IRS whether an organization is racist, sexist, or feminist; whether it is pro-men, anti-Catholic, pro-amnesty, anti-ethanol, pro-salt, anti-war, pro-LGBT, or anti-Asian. It is no business of the IRS whether an organization supports abortion or opposes it; supports Obamacare or opposes it; supports Israel or opposes it; supports the NAACP or opposes it. It is most emphatically no business of the IRS whether an organization supports the IRS or opposes it.

The only concern of the IRS is whether an organization's activities conform to the guidelines laid down for the type of organization it claims to be.


I wrote this post in May and then realized I didn't know how to finish it. Those who agree with me, agree with me - there's no need for a big finish to convince them. Those who disagree with me see the world too differently for what I write to make any difference. It's not a difference of degree; it's a difference of kind. To people of the latter persuasion, if someone's stance, position, or utterance is wrong, then it's perfectly reasonable to use every means at their disposal, especially government power, to make sure that someone is, at minimum, disadvantaged and, preferably, silenced. Or, rather, not just perfectly reasonable - it's the obligation of decent human beings to make sure that sure error is stamped out.

It's depressing and frightening to realize I'm sharing a country with people who think the way Julian Bond does. It's puzzling and ironic to realize that many of those who think like Mr. Bond are self-proclaimed representatives of the very groups whose views have been so often silenced by society and government in the past.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I have a Dan Quayle moment

I watched the pilot of ”Mom”, the new CBS comedy on Monday. I didn’t have any clear idea of what it was about but I like Allison Janney so I figured, “Why not?” The answer turned out to be, “Because it’s not funny.”

Being an alcoholic and drug addict is not funny.
Having a parent who is an alcoholic and drug addict is even less funny.
Having two parents who are substance abusers is still less funny.

Having an affair with someone who is married is not funny.
Having an affair when married is even less funny.

A young boy playing a video game that involves hitting prostitutes is not funny.
A father who encourages his son to play such a video game is even less funny.

Getting pregnant before graduating from high school is not funny.
Being the third generation in your family to get pregnant before graduating from high school is every less funny.

It’s not that these topics can’t be funny - they can. (Well, not the video game that involves hitting prostitutes.) If you’ve read The Cracker Factory by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt or the Walsh Family series by Marian Keyes, you know that humor can be wrung from alcoholism and drug addiction. But that humor relies on unflinching, clear-eyed honesty about the damage done by these illnesses and about the insanity of trying to live with them, either as sufferer or as by-stander. The humor comes from acknowledgement of and confrontation with the pain, the darkness. “Mom” has none of that honesty; it refers to but does not reveal any of that darkness; and hence it has none of that humor. It is, quite simply, a lie and a very distasteful one.

Smarter than your average bear

My understanding of Obamacare was that if I got sick or injured and didn’t have health insurance, I would immediately be able to enroll via the exchanges. It turns out this isn’t true. The Wall Street Journal quotes the following explanation from a Salon piece:

One thing these conservatives are telling young people is that Obamacare will be different [from the current system]. Because it guarantees that people with preexisting medical conditions can buy insurance, they claim opting out carries no risk. Get sick or injured? Then you can reconsider your decision to opt out.

But this is a falsehood.

For the first year, Obamacare will have an unusually long open-enrollment period. It starts on Oct. 1, but eligible individuals can sign up through March, even if stricken by accident or illness. After that, though, anyone who decides, or is persuaded, to "skip" Obamacare will be as vulnerable as I would've been if I'd never applied for insurance and dropped that check in the mail. They'll be locked out of the system until the next open enrollment period begins on Oct. 14, 2014. That open enrollment period will last just 53 days. Break a leg or develop a serious illness in the interim and you get to choose between paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket or suffering for months and rolling the dice with a delayed diagnosis.

I hate Obamacare with a passion but the existence of a limited open-enrollment period each year means the law is considerably less stupid than I thought it was. It’s also a good reminder to me that when I hear about someone or something on the other side being unbelievably dumb, it’s probably best not to believe.

The WSJ argues that even this small window for enrollment doesn’t make buying health insurance a rational choice for “the ‘young invincible’ demographic.” Perhaps not but it does make forgoing health insurance more risky. And if not enough young, healthy people enroll, the government can up the pressure by changing the open-enrollment period to only once every two years (an idea I believe I first read about ages ago at JustOneMinute).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Repeal, catastrophize, permit, universalize

As I said in my previous post, I recently received a letter from my health insurance company, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. That letter informed me that due to the Affordable Care Act, the insurance plan I currently purchase cannot be renewed in 2014. I saw no reason to complain to Horizon about this - there’s nothing my insurance company can do - but I did write to my United States Congressmen: Senator Robert Menendez (D); Senator Jeff Chiesa (R); and Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D). Here’s the email I sent each of them:

I purchase health insurance, as an individual, from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield. Today I received a letter from Horizon informing me that due to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, my current insurance plan cannot be renewed on my anniversary date in 2014. Obviously, President Obama "misspoke" when he promised me that if I liked my health care plan I would be able to keep it.

Ideally, I would like the ACA repealed: there are too many surprises and it fails to achieve its objectives. However, if the ACA is not repealed, I urge you to do three things.

First, modify the ACA so that anyone who wants to can purchase a catastrophic health insurance plan; this will help make health insurance truly affordable. Given that health insurance costs vary by State but ACA subsidies do not, this would be very helpful to those of us in the extremely expensive State of New Jersey.

Second, modify the ACA to permit me and everyone else to keep the insurance plan we have. If the ACA plans turn out to be superior and worth the price, people will migrate to them on their own, without being forced to do so.

Third, if you're going to leave the ACA in place, please pass legislation prohibiting the Executive branch from issuing waivers, delaying the employer mandate, giving Congress a special deal, and so on. If the law is a good idea for some it is a good idea for all.

I would really, really like a law that says the exchanges must include an offer of catastrophic health insurance, preferably with a choice of deductibles, ideally with the ability to choose a policy with a deductible of $1000, $2000, $3000, and so on. I’d pick one with a deductible of at least $10,000. This would let those of us who want to buy actual health insurance rather than ”a spectacularly inefficient prepayment plan” do so. And it should be much cheaper than policies which cover routine expenses I could easily pay for myself.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Opening salvo

President Barak Obama, in a New York Times op-ed, dated August 16, 2009 (emphasis mine):

This is what reform is about. If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care you need. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. You will not be waiting in any lines. This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance. I don’t believe anyone should be in charge of your health care decisions but you and your doctor — not government bureaucrats, not insurance companies.

I live in New Jersey. I purchase health insurance, as an individual, from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield. Today I received a letter from Horizon. That letter begins (emphasis in original):

Dear Valued Member,

I am writing to provide you with important information about your Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey Individual health insurance plan and how the federal health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will affect you.

The ACA requires health insurance plans to meet new requirements. Because of these requirements, your current insurance plan cannot be renewed on your anniversary date in 2014. However, new plan options will be available for you to purchase.