McCain takes brave stand on health insurance reform… again

The media is applauding John McCain for his “maverick moment” in killing Trumpcare.

I’m no huge fan of John McCain, but I want to note that this is not the first time that McCain has taken a brave stand on health insurance.  Back in 2008, when he was running for President, he proposed eliminating the tax deduction for employer-provided health plans.

Economists agree that the tax deduction is a major reason that our health care system is so screwed up:

  1. It’s a huge government give-away, and it disproportionately benefits people who make a lot of money (since their health plans are typically more costly). #welfarefortherich
  2. By linking employment and health insurance, it creates uncertainty and anxiety for anyone who is sick and/or unemployed.  (And then the economy gets gummed up with people who are afraid of leaving their jobs because of concerns about health insurance.)
  3.  It encourages the over-consumption of health care by putting one more entity between the consumer and the entity that is paying for that health care. (consumer -> employer -> insurance company -> provider group -> health care provider)

I’m unaware of any other Presidential candidate – from either party – who’s been willing to take that brave stand.  What did McCain get for his bravery back in 2008?  Barack Obama hammered him with fear-mongering ads that called the plan “radical.”

Rethinking that CNN wrestling video – A win-win for Trump and CNN

Earlier this month, CNN expressed outrage when Trump posted a video showing him bodyslamming and punching the network.

It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters.

But I think they’re misreading it, perhaps intentionally.  In the video, Trump inflicts fake violence on Vince McMahon, presumably with McMahon’s consent.  Trump gets free media coverage.  McMahon gets a ratings boost for his little wrestling show.  It’s a win-win.

After the original attack, McMahon even expressed fake outrage in response to the fake violence.  “I’ll never forget this!  I’ll never forget this!”

The Two Georges

Thanks to Malcolm Gladwell and the New Yorker, I’ve finally come to fully appreciate the difference between George Jones and George Strait.  I’m a huge fan of country music and Americana, but somehow I’ve remained fuzzy on these two guys.  Of course, I prefer the “hard-living, dissolute megastar” to the “contented, golf-obsessed businessman.”

Who would have guessed that Malcolm Gladwell was such a huge country music fan?  He actually suggests that the answer to our polarized politics may be for the folks on the coasts to listen to more country songs like this one, written by the great Bobby Braddock…

Maybe he’s right!


NYT calls tax scam an “ambitious art initiative”

Man pays $2.4 million for celebrity photos.  Man agrees to pay an additional $2.4 million to the photographer if his tax avoidance scheme pays off.  Man donates photos to a government agency and values gift at $20 million.  Another government agency balks at accepting that valuation, perhaps because the market value of the art would seem to be  $2.4 million, since that’s what he paid for it.

The New York Times is unsure if this is a tax grab.  Maybe.  The man is also puzzled.  He can’t understand why his actions aren’t “being celebrated.”

We were asked to help facilitate a major gift to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia that would provide it with a unique collection of art from one of the world’s most praised photographers and that’s exactly what we did.

Note the passive construction.  He declines to mention who asked him.

HT Althouse.

Son of My Father – Giorgo Moroder

Our local Mexican grocery store – called Super A – always plays the best music.  It’s not uncommon to hear an old song by Dion or Ray Charles while you’re shopping for avocadoes.  (They have the most delicious avocadoes in the world — tiny little Haas avocadoes that are almost always perfectly ripe.)

The other day I Shazamed this incredible song I’d never heard before.  I’d also never heard of Giorgio Moroder, who turns out to be the “king of Italo disco,” the writer of major hits like “Take My Breath Away,” and a producer who worked on Blondie’s “Call Me.”  Who even knew there was a thing called “Italo disco?”

Gladwell and Scalia on desegregation

In the latest episode of Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell questions the reasoning in Brown v. Board of Education

“For Leola and Oliver Brown, [Brown v. Board of Education] was a matter of principle.  They didn’t think there was anything wrong with the quality of education at Monroe, the all-black school.  They just thought that the Topeka school board shouldn’t be telling them where they could or couldn’t send Linda to school, particularly if the only reason the school board could come up with was the color of Linda’s skin.”

His point here is that the Brown remedy should have focused on providing black students access to the white schools, instead of creating more and more complicated student assignment systems in which many African American students were bused to faraway white schools (where they typically lost access to quality black teachers).

Gladwell might be surprised to learn that none other than Justice Antonin Scalia agreed with him.  From a dissent in the 1992 case Freeman v. Pitts:

…an observer unfamiliar with the history surrounding this issue might suggest that we avoid the problem by requiring only that the school authorities establish a regime in which parents are free to disregard neighborhood-school assignment, and to send their children (with transportation paid) to whichever school they choose. So long as there is free choice, he would say, there is no reason to require that the schools be made identical. The constitutional right is equal racial access to schools, not access to racially equal schools..

Italics added.