About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Steven Rattner Is Basically an Asshole" And A "Lying Scumbag"

Whoa!! That's not me saying those nasty things about Mr. Rattner. I'm just your dutiful reporter telling it like it is, as a preamble to my commentary on Mr. Rattner's ObamaCare editorial in the NY Times.

John Cook in an article at Gawker is responsible for the first half of the headline above, and somebody pseudonymed "suyts" in an article on a blog named "suyts space" is responsible for the second half.

Apparently, Mr. Cook is put off by Mr. Rattner's supposed money and power-grubbing style:
Why wouldn't you like someone who decided, when he was a reporter at the Times, that he deserved the status, power, and money that had been acquired by the idiots he covered?
As for suyts, well, he or she is upset by Mr. Rattner's hypocritical and envious attitude about Mitt Romney's investment prowess. It seems Mr. Romney socked away up to $100-million in a tax-free IRA account and that struck a nerve with Mr. Rattner.

Speaking on CNN as a "private equity insider," Mr. Rattner complained that neither he nor any of his investment equity pals "had even known this was a possible trick" and that "Americans would find that pretty distasteful." Suyts, employing a rather crude nickname, said of Mr. Rattner:
Can you imagine anything as stupid as what Rat is suggesting?  You take your taxes to a CPA or even H&R block.  They get done with them but they failed to get you all of the tax breaks and refunds available.  And, when you ask for an explanation, they’ll say “that Americans would find this distasteful.”  How stupid is that?
Well, anyway, that explains my headline. It's their bad, not mine.

In point of fact I actually rather admire Mr. Rattner, President Obama's former "Car Czar" and current NY financier, NY Times Op-Ed writer and MSNBC analyst who manages NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "personal and philanthropic assets," who reportedly resigned from the Obama administration in the midst of a scandal and SEC investigation alleging kickbacks "involving officials with New York state's pension fund" and who has reportedly settled with the SEC by paying "more than $5 million in fines to the federal agency" and by accepting "a ban from the securities industry for several years."

Such a long and varied history of honorable public and private service commands admiration.

Anywho, some probably biased critics -- like the minions at the Boston Globe -- refer to Mr. Rattner's famous "Cash for Clunkers" program as "classic government folly." They allege the program encouraged American consumers to "take 'free' money to make a purchase most of them were going to make anyway, while simultaneously wiping out productive assets that could provide value to many other consumers for years to come." The spurious Globe report concludes: "By any rational standard...this program was sheer folly."

Moreover, a recent study concludes that the program was slightly less effective than running in place:
The government's "cash for clunkers" program boosted auto sales by 360,000 during the two months it was in place...But in the seven months that followed, sales were down by 360,000 compared with what they would have been without the program.

None other than President Obama has referred to Mr. Rattner's signature achievement in government as "successful beyond anybody’s imagination."

The truth, as always, is probably somewhere in the middle.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand, a NY Times Op-Ed piece written by Mr. Rattner entitled: "Beyond Obamacare," in which Mr. Rattner argues that the new healthcare law of the land kinda, sorta needs "death panels:"
Well, maybe not death panels, exactly, but unless we start allocating health care resources more prudently — rationing, by its proper name — the exploding cost of Medicare will swamp the federal budget.
Given Mr. Rattner's competence and expertise both inside and outside of government, I think the country should take his counsel seriously. I won't go into the specifics of Mr. Rattner's exact plan because I haven't read the ObamaCare law, much less the Medicare law, so I'm operating strictly on information contained in Mr. Rattner's Op-Ed piece and, frankly, I haven't finished that either.

However, near as I can tell, Mr. Rattner wants the ObamaCare law to have more "teeth" in it when it comes to "reducing the cost of treating people in the last year of life." Like Willie Sutton the bank robber, Mr. Rattner suggests that's where the money is and, if Medicare and ObamaCare are to be saved, that's where we ought to get the savings.

Some might object that Mr. Rattner isn't talking about rationing at all, but is in fact recommending a kind of ObamaCare Star Chamber that sits in judgement of all our geezers and decides which of them needs putting down.

I doubt that's what he has in mind. His language is so fluent and his tone so tender...well, contrary to John Cook who writes that "everyone thinks Rattner is an arrogant prick," I happen to believe Mr. Rattner has a sympathetic soul and the best interests of all Americans at heart.

The details of Mr. Rattner's plan to save Medicare and ObamaCare are not the point! As he says himself, there are plenty of model health care systems in the world to draw upon, such as the National Health Service in England "which provides universal coverage with spending at proportionately almost half of American levels."

The point is ObamaCare has taken the power of healthcare decision-making out of the hands of individual Americans and has put it in the hands of selfless, imaginative, public servants like Mr. Rattner. Now is not the time to criticize these folks who literally have the lives of the rest of us in their hands. Now is the time to support and celebrate them, and to draw upon their singular expertise and exemplary moral character.

Without advisers like Mr. Rattner we would have to make healthcare decision on our own! We'd be lost like babes in the wood!

Besides, it irks me that we're talking about ObamaCare as if it is flawed and in need of reform before it has even kicked in! We need to give this wondrous new health system a chance! 

We need to allow the experts, like Mr. Rattner, to figure out what is in our best interests. Isn't that why Congress passed ObamaCare in the first place?

Of course there will be bumps in the road. That's understandable. As Mr. Rattner declares in his Op-Ed, Medicare is bankrupting the country. Still. Despite the ObamaCare fix. Without creative ways to cut costs, Mr. Rattner says the healthcare "spending target looms impossibly large."

Mr. Rattner is positive the cost problem boils down to that pesky and expensive "last year of life" which Medicare and ObamaCare continue to subsidize to the hilt. He explains:
No one wants to lose an aging parent. And with price out of the equation, it’s natural for patients and their families to try every treatment, regardless of expense or efficacy.
I don't know about you, but he has a point, doesn't he? I'm excited to have Mr. Rattner on the job helping us out of the quagmire the administration he served created. He's truly an out-of-the-box thinker. And you know what? I think I know where he's heading with his Op-Ed.

I think Mr. Rattner sees ObamaCare and Medicare being saved by a program similar to "Cash For Clunkers." You know, the government would give young folks free money -- a stipend of a few hundred dollars -- to withhold million-dollar medical treatment from their elderly folks during their last year of life.

In turn, the government would stipulate that these young folks must use their stipend to procreate new models. For instance, they could rent a sexy, but otherwise unaffordable, bridal suite at the Ritz Carleton.

You get my drift. Society benefits all around.


LD Jackson said...

Oh, what great sarcasm you are capable of, Mr. Sherman. I am still chuckling, even though your topic is so completely serious.

Really though, this is exactly what many of us were worried about when the liberals were busy shoving Obamacare down our throats. The devil is always in the details and they were very few and far between. When we started digging for the facts, we were shouted down and told we were crazy. The more the law is implemented and especially when we see how they think, per Mr. Rattner's editorial, the more I am convinced we were not so crazy as we were made out to be.

Jim at Conservatives on Fire said...

Mr. Rattner could be any more correct. ObamaCare must have some real teath when it comes to rationing health care. ObamaCare will cover how many more millions of American with health insurance? Yet, there are no plans to add doctors or nurses or facilities. Oh yes, ObamaCare will have to be rationed strictly. Sadly, by definition, rationing means there will be shortages. Abd, when they are dhort on the service you need, you will just have to be a good citizen and do the right thing and die. But, you can die knowing that someone else can live. The trick is figuring out how to be that someone else.

Sherman Broder said...

Thanks, Larry. I enjoy writing it.

And to think Sarah Palin was raked over the coals for her "death panel" comment.

Sherman Broder said...

Unfortunately, I think we're stuck with ObamaCare and a lifetime of health care grief either way. Even if Romney wins, nothing much will change.

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Ryan Silva said...

The Rat is a lying corrupt scumbag only looking out for his own self interests. Oh and maybe his elite pals as well like Bloomberg. This guy lectures people on how bad our income inequality problem is in the US meanwhile he is bribing NY pension officials to invest in his private equity firm, raking in millions of dollars. Definition of hypocrite.