WHAT’S THE PLAN?

Suddenly we’re inundated with images of pitiful refugees.  A human wave has washed up on Europe’s shores and everyone asks how did this happen?  What’s the plan?  Actually this crisis has been building for quite awhile. The Syrian Civil War started back in 2011 and in the ensuing years over 7.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced and 4 million are now refugees.  The turmoil has spilled over into Iraq, while bordering Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon have pretty much reached their humanitarian limits. Israel seeing the trend is building a fence to deter any movement in their direction.  This river of refugees is being further fed with new streams from the now failed Libyan State and North Africa.  Afghanistan facing western withdrawal is another growing tributary. Europe having difficulty dealing with the immigrants they already have is faced with the real possibility of destabilization.

It didn’t have to be this way.  We pointed out in in our “SSSSHHHH” posts going back to November of last year and expanded on in our “But Admiral the Wind has Changed”  post, that there were things that should be done and the time was ripe to do them.  First, the Arab league as a whole needs to allow open immigration and  civil rights to all Arabs.  For centuries Arabs considered themselves as one people.  They share language, customs, history and to a large part religion.  We may never comprehend how Arabs  ignore the plight of their fellow Arabs, but maybe nobody pushed them to live up to their humanitarian obligations.  Now is the time to do just that.  The main players in the Arab World need us more than we need them.  Oil now is a limp club.  On the other hand Iran looms as a monster threat. Our protection or not is a stick, but Europe could provide the carrot with financial help in settling the refugees.  This has to be cheaper and far less disruptive than taking them all into Europe.  It’s simply too expensive for these welfare states to take in vast number of refugees. Syrians, Palestinians and Iraqis released from wasted lives in refugee camps could actually invigorate their new host countries to the benefit of all.  History surely points in that direction

Second, aid the Kurds in setting up buffer zones around their territory for displaced minorities such as the Christians and Yesidis.  Some progress has been made in this endeavor  but much more can be accomplished.  Every person who finds safety and protection under the Kurdish wing, is one less refugee in a camp in the adjoining nations or ending up in Europe.  It is well past the time that we realize the opportunities possible in a closer relationship and quiet alliance with the Kurds.

Talking about France and Britain taking in thousands of refugees when the problem is in the millions,shows the futility of the cries for Europeans and even the U.S. do more.  Even those thousands are politically unsustainable and could result in governmental upheavals.  The rise of extreme parties in  Europe parallels the increase in migrants.  Donald Trump’s rise in the polls is hardly a signal that the U.S. can do a lot more.  Our position always has been that it is essential to solve a Mideast Problems in the Mideast and Muslim Problems in the Muslim World.  Never has this been more true than it is today.

Victory Lap

There was Secretary of State John Kerry taking a much deserved Victory Lap as he announced that the administration had achieved the two thirds majority required to pass the treaty with Iran that the vast majority of Americans craved.  Oh wait, they only got 34 votes in the Senate out of 100.  According to the latest Q-Poll 55% of Americans oppose this agreement vs. 25% support.  We’re confused.  How does something like this happen?  Well the administration says it’s just an executive agreement, but aren’t really major agreements between the U.S. and other countries by definition treaties?  More importantly who gets to decide?  The President says he gets to decide just like he could tell the congress when it is in session or not.  That’s his opinion but that’s all it is.  The courts for instance held that congress not the President determines when it is in session.  So why didn’t Senate just tell the President that it is a treaty and he needs two thirds?  Surely they are on solid constitutional grounds.  As we read Article II, Section 2, Clause 2. it basically states

The President… shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur….

Could anyone imagine Wilson telling the Senate that he bound us to the League Nations because it wasn’t a treaty so he didn’t need their two thirds majority.  Reagan doing the same with Nuclear Arms deals with Russia.  How about Clinton and NAFTA?  Sure would’ve made a president’s job a lot easier.  The Senate had the right to demand the deal be presented as what they thought it was, a treaty.  We are told by our betters that couldn’t happen, but why not?

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The Long Journey to “More”

In the Musical “Oliver” the title urchin asks simply for “More”.  Over our long history the vast majority of humanity, having “More” than the bare basics of food, clothing and shelter was a dream.  Sometimes they didn’t even have even those and failed survive.  Anatomically modern homo sapiens  appeared in Africa  about 200,000 years ago. If we go by the introduction of The Big Bang Theory, we think mankind’s progress was  pretty straight line march from there.   Actually it wasn’t till 12,000 year ago that we got around to domesticating plants and animals to have agrarian societies.  It it is only in the last few centuries a good part of humanity has risen beyond subsistence.  Given the history of mankind, is this real and sustainable progress or just an aberration.  If we use as a baseline our earliest forebears we can determine what constitutes “More.”  Even though being blessed with a better brain and opposable thumbs, they spent their time much like the rest of the animal kingdom, finding food and  shelter, resting and procreating.  All they had to work with was their own physical abilities.  In order to actually have more required first of all was taking time from there basic pursuits and investing it thinking of new ways to improve and physically putting it into practice.  Better hunting and gathering tools and practices, fire, domesticating dogs and then other animals and finally agriculture to name some milestones on the way to “More”.

Unfortunately, it took enormous amounts of time to achieve to these breakthroughs.  Even though our ancestors had some tools 2.6 million years ago, it took another 800,000 years just to get to fire or 400 times the the birth of Christ to the present.  Given this timeline major innovation was a rare occurrence.  Even when it happened it often was lost and had to be reinvented again and again.  Just because something was discovered or invented in one place didn’t mean was duplicated elsewhere.  Innovation was hardly early on the path to more. Continue reading

UPDATE TIME

We took some incoming over our our April 17th post “All in the Plan”.  While most of the media was awaiting for Hillary’s coronation, we put forth that Pres. Obama would sandbag her and clear the way for a weaker candidate such as Elizabeth Warren to lose to the Republican.  This would leave the party machinery in his hands and clear the way for Michelle’s ’20 bid.  Now Hillary is a justice department criminal investigation away from being history.  If one goes forward, our prediction looks spot on.  Just look for the administration to leak that there would be a justice department revolt if they didn’t allow the investigation to go forward.  They’ll say that they would’ve liked to protect Hillary but their hands were tied.  Of course, we know from the IRS Scandal and other actions or non actions that the Justice Department Marches  to the Obama tune.  It will be fascinating to see if we’re right .  So far we like our chances.

“Dave’s Plan” to Reform Obamacare, first proposed in a policy post last October, had some of its principles endorsed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  His plan includes direct tax credits to buy Catastrophic Health Insurance across State Lines.  While welcome moves in the right direction, it lacks the costs savings inherent in “Dave Plan” of people spending their own savings and the credit and paperwork reductions that drive the plan.  If people like where the Governor seems headed, we urge them to look at the far more comprehensive “Dave’s Plan” that stands to deliver the greatest system wide savings.  Maybe this has opened the door for this discussion.

It would be hard to find a greater difference from our advice in for the Mideast in the “Sssshhh! Mideast Policy” postings from November and January and what has actually transpired.  We proposed aligning with those we had the most common interests, the Israelis and the Kurds.  While protecting our interests and humanitarian goals, we would let the Shia and the Sunnis sort out  their ideological differences with reform being the ultimate outcome and none of them getting nuclear weapons.  This meant pushing Iran to the wall while their oil income was disappearing, even entertaining an air strike.  What  actually happened is that we guaranteed Iran will get a nuclear weapon thus assuring that an arms race including nuclear weapons will sweep across the Mideast.  Could anything be more dangerous?  We’ve given very little to the Kurds thereby failing to utilize a people that could really help us towards  our goals.  We have great fears about how all this will turn out.

Also ignored was our advice to Urban America to continue to support the police and not throw them all under the bus for the possible actions of a very few bad apples.  What we have instead is a “Black Lives Matter” movement that celebrates in Ferguson Missouri the death of a thief who physically assaulted a policeman who was acting in a perfectly proper manner.  That officer lost his career and lives in fear for his life.  No wonder police across the country are holding back and doing the minimum.  This puts our urban areas on a downward slope from which they will have a hard time recovering.  It’s been a long time since race relations have been this bad and they seem to be getting worse.

No, we won’t get discouraged and will continue add our thoughts to the public discussion.

A CHANCE TO COMPARE, A HIP STORY

In their 7/7/2015 Op-Ed “The Coming Shock in Health-Care Cost Increases”  Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the guiding forces behind the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and Tophor Spiro state:

Still, most analysts expect that the growth in health-care costs will rise without further action. And the latest data from the Census Bureau indicate this acceleration may be starting. The country is at an inflection point: Will we let our foot off the brakes, or will we permanently bend the cost curve?

Just a few years in and not fully implemented, The Affordable Care proponents are out giving dire warnings of uncontrolled rise in heath-care costs. Isn’t this exactly what the ACA’s opponents predicted?  Ah, Emanuel & Tophor have come up with a solution:

 Before it is too late, the Obama administration must focus on a reform that can be scaled. Medicare should lump together physician services, hospital costs, tests, medical devices, drugs and rehabilitation services related to common ailments—such as broken hips, heart stents and cancer treatments—into a bundle. It could then pay a medical provider a discounted amount for the whole array of services.

Wow, what a discovery!  Imagine common procedures sold as package or bundle at an all inclusive price. Why hasn’t anyone ever thought of this before?  Oh wait, in areas not commonly covered by insurance or government programs, package pricing has been the norm.  For instance, Cosmetic surgery, Lasik and many dental procedures  are ones that people pay for out of their own pockets  and are regularly priced as a package.  Google Lasik or breast augmentation and you’ll have offers covering what the whole procedure will cost.  Even if you were going to pay yourself for a hip replacement or stents by Medical Tourism, you’d be offered a package price covering everything often including transportation.  More importantly the cost history of any of these compares very favorably to areas where the Government and insurance companies dominate.  Taking inflation into consideration Lasik has had hardly had a price increase.  The same seems to b true of breast augmentation surgery.

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