Another Obamacare fiasco? Guess what? We’ll rationalize that disaster into something awesome, tout de suite. You can’t keep your insurance if you like it? Consider yourself lucky. Obamacare disincentivizes work. Be grateful! The Affordable Healthcare Act will cost three times as much as initial estimates? Spending creates jobs. The exchanges have been a disaster? Stop rooting for the president to fail, for God’s sake.
The Treasury Department just announced it will delay a coverage mandate for companies with 50 to 99 employees for a year. And liberals who grouse about the anarchic tendencies of grassroots conservatives will be prepared to rationalize why this news is not only unavoidable but great for Americans. It always is.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the Obama administration has probably missed half of the deadlines of the Affordable Care Act. Here’s a list of 13 executive alterations Now, if all this haphazard implementation were only a matter of improving what are onerous and poorly written facets of Obamacare, that would be one thing. A bad thing, yes. But what makes this free-for-all an especially blatant abuse of power is that the delays are enacted almost exclusively for political reasons.
So, question: when was the last time policy was executed as chaotically and with such little regard for the law? I don’t want to sound like a troglodyte, but the president, as head of the executive branch of the federal government is constitutionally obligated to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” not implement laws in an expedient manner, or a more prudent manner, or even in a way that he believes is more moral or a helpful for people struggling to find affordable health care. This is why we write bills down and debate them prior to passage. Or, at least, it used to be.
June 24, 1938. “Shirley sees her old friend the president. Shirley Temple leaving the White House today after a very important conference with the President. Shirley told Mr. Roosevelt about losing a tooth last night, and he told her about Sistie and Buzzie losing their teeth. Shirley expects to be in Washington a week checking on the affairs of state with different government officials.” (Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative; via Shorpy)
“ Marxism criticizes the achievements of all those who think otherwise by representing them as the venal servants of the bourgeoisie. Marx and Engels never tried to refute their opponents with argument. They insulted, ridiculed, derided, slandered, and traduced them, and in the use of these methods their followers are not less expert. Their polemic is directed never against the argument of the opponent, but always against his person. ”
“The boys,” as the president affectionately called [his private secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay], became Lincoln’s official biographers. Enjoying exclusive access to his papers—which the Lincoln family closed to the public until 1947 (the 21st anniversary of the death of Robert Todd Lincoln)— they undertook a 25-year mission to create a definitive and enduring historical image of their slain leader. The culmination of these efforts—their exhaustive, ten-volume biography, serialized between 1886 and 1890—constituted one of the most successful exercises in revisionism in American history. Writing against the rising currents of Southern apologia, Hay and Nicolay pioneered the “Northern” interpretation of the Civil War—a standard against which every other historian and polemicist had to stake out a position.
Hay and Nicolay helped invent the Lincoln we know today—the sage father figure; the military genius; the greatest American orator; the brilliant political tactician; the master of a fractious cabinet who forged a “team of rivals” out of erstwhile challengers for the throne; the Lincoln Memorial Lincoln .
That Abraham Lincoln was all of these things, in some measure, there can be no doubt. But it is easy to forget how widely underrated Lincoln the president and Lincoln the man were at the time of his death and how successful Hay and Nicolay were in elevating his place in the nation’s collective historical memory.
While Lincoln prided himself on his deep connection to “the people,” he never succeeded in translating his immense popularity with the Northern public into similar regard among the nation’s political and intellectual elites. The profound emotional bond that he shared with Union soldiers and their families, and his stunning electoral success in two presidential elections, never fully inspired an equivalent level of esteem by the influential men who governed the country and guarded its official history. To many of these men, he remained in death what he was in life: the rail-splitter and country lawyer—good, decent and ill-fitted to the immense responsibilities that befell him.
Responding to a CBO report that suggested the law would encourage more than 2 million people either to seek less work or to leave the labor market completely, progressives picked up their tricornered hats and their muskets, and started to shout incoherently about “freedom.” In a lovely illustration of the truism that progressives really haven’t the slightest clue what it is that conservatives believe, the Huffington Post’s Senior Congressional Reporter, Michael McAuliff, spoke for the cabal, suggesting ludicrously that,
There’s an irony in the GOP complaining that ACA lets people quit jobs. I mean, what’s wrong with freedom?
To answer a remarkably misguided rhetorical question, there is nothing at all “wrong with freedom.” As Patrick Henry rightly argued, above all other things “liberty ought to be the direct end” of government, for, after that, everything else is mere indulgence. But there is an awful lot “wrong” with using the word “freedom” where it does not apply. After all, it is one thing for a person to choose not to work and to accept the natural consequences of that decision, but quite another indeed for a person to choose not to work because others are being forced to subsidize his well-being. One can reasonably attest that redistributing wealth to underwrite preferred social outcomes is “necessary” or “virtuous” or “kind” or “practical” — or even, more cynically, that it is the inexorable end product of a democratic system in which one man can vote himself the contents of another’s wallet. But one cannot claim that it makes either man “free” — at least not without twisting the word and the concept that it represents beyond all meaningful recognition.
Does the Obama administration really plan to make the case that negative liberty is but a mirage and that, the state of nature’s “forcing” one to work being akin to actual compulsion, the state must step in everywhere to liberate the citizenry from reality’s harsh claims? One suspects not.
At the very same time as the White House and its friends were taking credit for having emancipated the American people from the indignities of having to keep down a career, others seemed to be insisting that the labor market and the government are wholly discrete entities. This isn’t about Obamacare “killing” jobs, the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler wrote, “it’s about workers — and the choices they make.” “Look at it this way,” he explained. “If someone says they decided to leave their job for personal reasons, most people would not say they ‘lost’ their jobs. They simply decided not to work.” To an extent, this distinction is a fair one, although there is a great deal of truth in The Economist’s observation that “a job is an economic transaction between a seller and a buyer of labour, and can be ‘destroyed’ if either seller or buyer walks away.”
Either way, it fails to address the material question, which is, “Why, in this case, will those people ‘decide not to work’?” The answer, of course, is that the intrusive federal action that one party supports and the other opposes has changed the calculation for them. It really is this simple: Before Obamacare, there was a status quo. With Obamacare, the government changed that status quo. As a result of that change, people are making different decisions. One can claim that the change will help to diminish youth unemployment or allow the elderly to enjoy more leisure time or do wonders for the gardening industry. But one can’t pretend that the state doesn’t have full culpability for those different decisions being made. That is a step too far.
National security is often synonymous with secrecy. But when it comes to software development, the U.S. defense and intelligence establishment can be surprisingly open.
This week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — or DARPA, the research arm of the U.S. Defense department — published a list of all the open source computer science projects it has funded, including links to source code and academic papers that detail the code’s underlying concepts.
Anyone is free to not only peruse the source code and add to it, but actually use it to build their own software — and that includes foreign governments. The belief is that because anyone can contribute to these projects, the quality of the code will only improve, making the software more useful to everyone. It’s an approach that has paid off in spades among web companies from Google and Facebook to Twitter and Square, and the government has now realized that it too can benefit from the open source ethos.
Washington, D.C., 1920. “Potomac Sales Co., front.” Adding to the scant contemporary documentation of the Dixie Flyer, one of many “assembled cars” (i.e., major components supplied by third parties) from the early years of motoring. (National Photo Company glass negative; via Shorpy)
RevMedx recently asked the FDA to approve a pocket-size invention: a modified syringe that injects specially coated sponges into wounds. Called XStat, the device could boost survival and spare injured soldiers from additional pain by plugging wounds faster and more efficiently than gauze.
The team’s early efforts were inspired by Fix-a-Flat foam for repairing tires. “That’s what we pictured as the perfect solution: something you could spray in, it would expand, and bleeding stops,” says Steinbaugh. “But we found that blood pressure is so high, blood would wash the foam right out.”
So the team tried a new idea: sponges. They bought some ordinary sponges from a hardware store and cut them into 1-centimeter circles, a size and shape they chose on a whim but later would discover were ideal for filling wounds. Then, they injected the bits of sponge into an animal injury. “The bleeding stopped,” says Steinbaugh. “Our eyes lit up. We knew we were onto something.” After seeing early prototypes, the U.S. Army gave the team $5 million to develop a finished product.
But kitchen sponges aren’t exactly safe to inject into the body. The final material would need to be sterile, biocompatible, and fast-expanding. The team settled on a sponge made from wood pulp and coated with chitosan, a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance that comes from shrimp shells. To ensure that no sponges would be left inside the body accidentally, they added X-shaped markers that make each sponge visible on an x-ray image.
The sponges work fast: In just 15 seconds, they expand to fill the entire wound cavity, creating enough pressure to stop heavy bleeding. And because the sponges cling to moist surfaces, they aren’t pushed back out of the body by gushing blood. “By the time you even put a bandage over the wound, the bleeding has already stopped,” Steinbaugh says.