Catholics, Protestants, Church of England, the Kirk, Presbyterians, Puritans, Divine Right of Kings and Parliament

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 1st, 2014

Politics 101

(Originally published January 26th, 2012)

English Catholics and Protestants were Fiercely Religious and willing to Kill or be Killed for their Faith

To understand the founding political structure of the United States you need to understand 17th century Britain.  The run up to the 17th century.  And the Protestant Reformation.  When Christianity split into Protestants and Catholics.  And their beliefs and practices.

Catholics are born with original sin.  Protestants aren’t.  All Catholics have a chance to go to Heaven.  God sorts out the Protestant’s going to Heaven before birth.  Doing good deeds can help Catholics make it to Heaven.  They won’t make any difference for Protestants.  Catholics burn away their sins in Purgatory.  Then comes Judgment Day.  Clean souls go to Heaven.  Unclean souls go to Hell.  Protestants go straight to Heaven or Hell when they die with no layover in Purgatory or judgment.  Catholics believe priests have special powers and the Pope is infallible.  Protestants don’t.  Catholics have saints, altar rails, candles, pictures, statues and stained glass windows.  Protestants don’t.  Catholics believe priests change the wine and bread at Communion into the actual body and blood of Christ.  Protestants think they just represent the body and blood of Christ.

These are some significant differences.  Especially in a time when everyone was fiercely religious.  And did everything in this life to prepare for the afterlife.  Even buy an indulgence from the Catholic Church to buy their way through Purgatory and into Heaven.  One of the pet peeves of Martin Luther that he included in his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 Germany (which was then a collection of German princedoms).  This was serious stuff for the laypeople.  Who were willing to kill or be killed for their faith.  Which they did a lot of in Britain.

When Queen Elizabeth died King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England

King Henry the VIII hated Martin Luther.  Was a staunch defender of the faith.  But he wanted a divorce.  So he could marry a woman who would give him a son instead of more daughters.  But he needed the Pope to grant him this.  And the Pope refused.  Henry VIII also wanted to get the Catholic Church out of his affairs.  So he created an English church.  The Church of England.  With him as the guy in charge.  At first his church was going to be protestant.  Fully anti-Pope.  But he had Parliament pass the Act of Six Articles that made his Protestant Church very Catholic.  After Henry VIII died succeeding rulers pulled the Church back and forth between Protestantism and Catholicism.

Edward VI pulled it back to Protestantism.  Then that bread and wine issue came up again.  So they wrote a new prayer book that was deliberately vague.  Which caused the Catholics to riot.  When he died his sister, Queen Mary, took the throne.  An ardent Catholic.  Out went that new prayer book.  In came Catholicism.  And she arrested and burned Protestants at the stake.  Then she died.  And in came Queen Elizabeth.  A Protestant.  So the Church of England became Protestant again.  With a little Catholicism mixed in.  But it wasn’t Catholic enough.  So the Pope excommunicated her in 1570.  Angry, she oppressed the Catholics.  Yet the Protestants weren’t happy, either.  That little bit of Catholicism was just way too much for their liking.  Especially those hardcore Calvinist Protestants (the people we call Puritans even though at the time it was more a derogatory term).  Who Elizabeth then arrested and executed.

There was a Protestant uprising in Scotland and they, too, broke from the Catholic Church.  Without consulting their very important friend and ally.  Catholic France.  Which was home for an exiled Mary Queen of Scots.  A Catholic.  But she didn’t have the power to fight against the Protestants.  So she joined the fight against the Catholics.  But she had some Catholic baggage the Scottish couldn’t forgive and they forced her to abdicate anyway.  Her son, James VI, became king.  The Church of Scotland was Presbyterian (Calvinist Protestantism).  But Scotland had a lot of Catholics as well.  The Scottish Parliament made James the head of the Scottish Church.  The Kirk.  Which was a problem for the Presbyterians.  Because they said a king couldn’t be the head of their church.  When Elizabeth died James became King James I of England.  Changed the spelling of his name from ‘Stewart’ to ‘Stuart’.  And became the head of the Church of England.  Who the Presbyterians said was way too Catholic.

King James I believed in the Divine Right of Kings and Hated Parliament

When Mary Queen of Scots abdicated James VI was only a baby and raised by a Presbyterian handler.  His Regent.  Who ruled for James until he came of age.  Who must have been strict for James did not like the Scottish Presbyterians.  Who were very similar to English Puritans.  Elizabeth had oppressed Catholics and Puritans.  Who were now both looking for a little relief from King James I.  James met with some Puritans and Catholic bishops.  The bishops resented having to meet with Puritans.  And the Puritans wanted to do away with the bishops.  But James preferred Catholics over Puritans.  So he persecuted the Puritans.  Some of who embarked on a ship called the Mayflower and sailed to religious freedom in America.  Where they would allow anyone to practice any religion they chose.  As long as they chose Puritanism.

Now even though James preferred the Catholics there were a lot of Protestants in England.  And a strong anti-Catholic sentiment.  After all England’s two great enemies, Spain and France, were Catholic.  So he continued some Catholic oppression.  One Catholic took great offense to this and decided to do something about it.  Blow up Parliament.  And the king.  Robert Catesby planned the Gunpowder Plot.  But someone warned the government.  And they caught Guy Fawkes in the cellar surrounded by gun powder just before he could light the fuse.  They sentenced Fawkes and the other conspirators to death.

James was not a fan of Parliament, either.  It was different in Scotland.  There they did pretty much what he wanted.  But the English Parliament didn’t.  And this really bugged him.  For he believed in the Divine Right of Kings.  Parliament didn’t.  And they told him so.  Also, Parliament controlled the purse strings.  If he wanted money, and he did, he would have to work with Parliament.  Or find another means to pay for what he wanted.  He chose to find another means.  He forced people to loan him money.  And even sold a new hereditary title.  The baronet.  But it was never enough.  When he died the kingdom wasn’t as rich as Elizabeth left it for him.  Worse, he left a political mess for his successor.  King Charles I.  Who became the first king whose subjects put on trial.  And executed.  Following the English Civil War.  Which he, of course, lost.

The Radical New Ideas Sown in the 17th Century would have a Profound Impact on the American Founding Fathers

King Charles I ruled in 17th century Britain.  A momentous time of change.  In Britain.  The Old World.  And the New World.  A king would be tried for the first time by the people.  Religious scores would be settled far and wide.  Attempted, at least.  And new states would rise in the New World where they would live under the religion they chose.  Governed by representatives of the people.  Who governed at the consent of the people.  Radical new ideas.  That were sown in 17th century Britain.  And would have a profound impact on the American Founding Fathers.

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The Left wants a Health Care System like Britain’s NHS despite the NHS having Crippling Deficits

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 19th, 2014

Week in Review

Obamacare is not going well.  The say it is.  But it isn’t.  The White House can all of a sudden give us a number like 8 million enrollees when they said earlier they couldn’t tell until the insurance companies tell them.  And the other big question is this.  Are these enrollees?  Including all people who enrolled whether they paid or not?  Or are these only the people who paid?  Or are most of these people enrolling in Medicaid?  Those who won’t ever pay?  If that 8 million aren’t paying customers Obamacare is doomed.

So the financial foundation of Obamacare is likely very perilous.  Where the sick and poor are probably signing up more than the healthy with money.  And the delay of the employer mandate to sometime after the midterm election takes a bad financial foundation and makes it worse.  For they can’t keep delaying the funding parts until after elections.  Because someone has to pay for all of the subsidies.  As well as the high cost of the old and sick.  Which alone may bankrupt Obamacare (see Labour considers raising national insurance to fix £30bn NHS ‘black hole’ by Toby Helm posted 4/19/2014 on the guardian).

Radical plans to increase national insurance contributions to plug a looming £30bn a year “black hole” in NHS funding and pay the spiralling costs of care for the elderly are being examined by Labour’s policy review.

The Observer has learnt that the idea is among options being considered to ensure NHS and care costs can be met under a future Labour government, without it having to impose crippling cuts on other services in successive budgets.

Senior party figures have confirmed that a scheme advanced by the former Labour minister Frank Field – under which funds from increased NI would be paid into a sealed-off fund for health and care costs – is being examined, though no decisions have been taken.

Recent figures based on data from NHS England and the Nuffield Trust and produced by the Commons library suggest that NHS costs alone will go from £95bn a year now to more than £130bn a year by 2020.

Some have suggested that they designed Obamacare to fail.  So they can get what they really want.  Single-payer.  Or national health care.  Like they have in Britain with their National Health Service (NHS).  Which is running an enormous deficit.  Based on the above numbers it currently is 31.6% (£30bn/£95bn).  Which is just unsustainable.  But this is what an aging population will do.  When you have more people leaving the workforce consuming health care benefits paid for by fewer people entering the workforce.  Which should be a huge warning for the United States.  Because they have an aging population, too.

At the current exchange rate that £30 billion comes to $50.37 billion.  Is this what the US can expect?  No.  Because they have five-times the population Britain has.  So their deficit will be approximately five-times as big.  Or $251.85 billion.  That’s a quarter of a trillion dollar shortfall PER YEAR.  At least.  And $2.52 trillion over a decade.  So unless the Americans can somehow make their people less sick so they won’t consume health care resources the deficit alone for Obamacare will be more than twice the original CBO projection for the total cost over 10 years.  Which means the Americans will have to do what the British must do.  Increase taxes.  Charge for some health care services in addition to these higher taxes.  Or impose crippling cuts to services.  Hello rationing.  And longer wait times.

This is the absolute worst time to impose a single-payer/national health care system.  Just as the baby boom generation fills our health care system in their retirement.  It might have worked if we had kept having babies the way we did before birth control and abortion slashed the birthrate.  But we didn’t.  And now we have a baby bust generation stuck footing the bill for a baby boom generation.  Fewer paying for more.  And the only way to make that work is with confiscatory tax rates.  Or death panels.  Because you have to raise revenue.  Or cut costs.  There is just no other option.  Or people can work longer, pay out of pocket for routine, expected expenses and buy real insurance to protect themselves from catastrophic, unexpected medical expenses.  Which is actually another option.  And probably the only one that will work.

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Gun Crime in Chicago and Knife Crime in Britain have same Root Cause

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 16th, 2014

Week in Review

Chicago is adrift in a sea of blood.  Despite their strict gun laws there is an epidemic of gun violence in the city.  And the reason for this, say those on the left, is the availability of guns elsewhere.  Guns that are brought into Chicago and get into the hands of innocent young kids.  Forcing them to leave their peace-loving ways.  That’s the problem.  Get rid of all the guns and those kids will stay peace-loving and as pure as the wind driven snow.  For without guns there can be no violence.  Because what person would never think about picking up a knife (see Impose tougher sentences for knife crimes, says top judge by David Barrett posted 4/16/2014 on The Telegraph)?

The most senior judge in England and Wales has called on magistrates to impose tougher sentences for youths who carry knives.

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice, said more severe punishments could help cut the “prevalence” of such crimes.

In a ruling at the Court of Appeal in London, Lord Thomas said: “Given the prevalence of knife crime among young persons, the youth court must keep a very sharp focus, if necessary through the use of more severe sentences, on preventing further offending by anyone apprehended for carrying a knife in a public place and to securing a reduction in the carrying of knives.”

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, has previously expressed his concern about knife criminals being handed cautions and other non-custodial punishments.

Mr Grayling brought in new measures in December 2012 which were designed to impose mandatory jail sentences on anyone who uses a knife or offensive weapon to threaten and endanger others.

Britain has very strict gun laws.  It’s like Chicago writ large.  So people can’t go to a part of Britain where there are lax gun laws.  Buy guns.  And taking them to another place in Britain that has strict gun laws.  Even their police don’t carry guns while walking a beat.  They do, however, have units that carry guns.  In response to rising gun crime.  But it’s the knife crime that Britain is struggling with.  And much of the knife violence in Britain is due to the same cause of the gun violence in Chicago.  Gangs.

Is knife violence preferred over gun violence?  Perhaps.  No doubt it is more difficult to stab an innocent bystander in a ‘drive-by’ stabbing.  But because knives are so easy to get almost any gang member can carry a knife.  And anyone with mental health issues can easily pick one up in most any kitchen.  And cause harm.  As in Calgary and Regina, Canada.  And in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.

It’s not the guns or the knives that are causing people to harm others.  These people are just determined to cause harm.  You can try to take away every conceivable weapon but if they want to cause harm they will find a way to cause harm.  Which is what we should be doing.  Trying to prevent them from causing harm.  Not just trying to prevent one way they can cause harm.  With guns.

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The Democrats think they can do National Health Care better than Britain despite the Obamacare Website Rollout Disaster

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 30th, 2014

Week in Review

Those on the left settled for the Affordable Care Act.  It’s not what they wanted.  But they think it can, in time, give them what they want.  Single-payer health care.  Or a true national health care system.  Like they have in Britain.  Oh how the left would love to have a no nonsense National Health Service (NHS) in the United States.  A system totally funded by general taxation.  Because that would be better than Obamacare.  And far better than what Obamacare replaced.  Now those who think that are either lying to the American people.  Or are completely ignorant to what’s going on in the NHS.  For the highly esteemed NHS is on life support (see £10 each can save the NHS by Norman Warner and Jack O’Sullivan posted 3/30/2014 on the guardian).

A care and cash crisis is sending the NHS bust. In its present form, a shortfall of £30bn a year, or more, is expected by 2020. Paying off the nation’s deficit means five more years of further deep public expenditure cuts, whoever is in government. So, over-protecting an outdated, cosseted and unaffordable healthcare system inevitably means starving other vital public services, unless we choke off economic growth and worsen the cost of living with big tax increases. That might be worth contemplating if the NHS was offering brilliant care. But it isn’t.

Just look at the thousands of frail elderly people who get the care they need only by queuing in A&E and spending weeks in hospital – the most expensive and often the worst way to look after them. And let’s not forget that the NHS is sleepwalking through an obesity epidemic.

These are truths hidden from public view. Many politicians and clinicians are scared to tell people that our much-loved 65-year-old NHS no longer meets the country’s needs. Frankly, it is often poor value for money, and the greatest public spending challenge after the general election…

Our specialist hospital services should be concentrated in fewer, safer, better-equipped and more expert centres with 24/7 consultant cover and improved transport links…

A new integrated “National Health and Care Service” would pioneer a “co-producing” health partnership between state and citizen, with annual personal health MOTs agreeing responsibilities over the year for both services and the individual. At the heart of this relationship would be an NHS membership scheme, charging £10 a month (with some exemptions) collected through council tax for local preventative services to help people stay healthy.

This is one of several new funding streams urgently needed to renew impoverished parts of our care system but preserving a mainly tax-funded NHS that is largely free at the point of use. We have to escape the constraints of general taxation if we want a decent system…

Just 3.5% of the annual 500,000 deaths lead to payment of inheritance tax. We must expect the elderly, after their deaths, to contribute more. NHS free entitlements, such as continuing care, could be reduced or means-tested and hotel costs in hospital charged, as in France and Germany.

Britain has an aging population.  Fewer people are entering the workforce to pay the taxes that fund the NHS.  While more people are leaving the workforce and consuming NHS resources.  So less money is going into the NHS while the NHS is spending more and more money on patients.  Leading to a deficit that they can’t pay for without killing the economy.  Or taking money away from other government services.

If the NHS was providing quality health care they could probably justify taking money away from other areas.  But it’s not.  The one argument for passing Obamacare was that it would reduce the burden on emergency rooms.  But it’s not doing that in Britain.  The wait times are so long to see a doctor or get a procedure that people are going to the emergency room (A/E in Britain) and waiting for hours instead of waiting for months.  Further increasing costs and wait times.  And frustrating patients.

So what is the solution to a failing national health care system?  Close hospitals and make people travel further for treatment.  And charge them £10 ($16.64) monthly in addition to some of the highest tax rates they already pay to fund the NHS.  So, to summarize, to make national health care work in Britain they need to close hospitals, make people travel further for care, charge them more money and make them wait longer for treatment.  Which is basically the argument against the Affordable Care Act.  It would lead to rationing.  And longer wait times.  Worse, the quality of care will decline.  As it has in Britain.  As it will in the United States.  For we also have an aging population.  And we have about five-times the people they have in Britain.  Which will make our problems five-times worse than theirs.

What’s happening in the NHS is no secret.  Any proponent of national health care no doubt looks at Britain and their NHS.  So they must be familiar with how it’s failing.  Yet they press on for a similar system in the United States.  Why?  If it won’t improve our health care system why do they want national health care?  This is the question we should be asking the Democrats.  Why?  Of course they will say Britain just isn’t doing national health care right.  After all, they’ve only been doing it for 66 years.  So what do they know about national health care?  While we, the liberal Democrats will say, will get national health care right from the get-go.  Because we are just so much smarter than everyone else in the world.

Of course the British could, and should, fire back with, “Yeah?  How did that Obamacare website rollout go?  You’d think that someone who is so smart that they could do national health care right from the get-go could actually build a sodding website that works.”

But, of course, they didn’t.  And the website was the easiest part of Obamacare.  A one and done thing.  And if they couldn’t do that right do we really want these people anywhere near our health care?  No.  Especially when the British are struggling with national health care after trying it for 66 years.  For national health care is apparently more difficult to do than building a sodding website that works.

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Byzantine Empire, Bosporus, Silk Road, Dutch East India Company, English East India Company, Tea Act and Opium Wars

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 11th, 2014

History 101

(Originally published May 15th, 2012)

To encourage Risk Takers to Travel Halfway around the World Mercantile States granted Monopoly Charters

The modern world began because Europeans had a penchant for silk and spices.  Something they enjoyed during Roman times.  When the Romans ruled the world.  And the Mediterranean Sea was nothing more than a Roman lake.  But when the empire stopped conquering new lands and sending the spoils of war home they had to turn to other means to pay for the cost of empire.  Taxes.  To pay for the Roman government and their public spending.  And the Roman legions.  This excessive government spending led to the fall of the western half of the empire.  But the eastern half lived on for another 1,000 years or so.  Why?  Because the capital of the Byzantine Empire was Constantinople.  On the Bosporus.  Trade crossroads of the world.

This city was so rich everybody wanted to conquer it.  So they could have all those riches.  For everything that came along the Silk Road from China crossed into Europe at the Bosporus.  Soon Muslims fought Christians in the Holy lands.  Then more Christians came.  The Crusaders.  Those who didn’t die went back to Europe with some of those Chinese luxuries.  Spices.  Silk.  Porcelain.  Etc.  Sparking a renewed interest in these finer things in Europe.  Especially the spices.  For European cooking was horribly bland at the time.  The Ottoman Turks eventually took Constantinople.  Renamed it Istanbul.  And controlled that lucrative trade.  Making those much sought after Asian goods rather expensive in Europe.  Which they had no choice but to pay.  Because if you wanted those luxuries you had to go through Istanbul.  Until the Portuguese sailed around Africa and found a direct route to those cherished goods, that is.

It was the Commercial Revolution.  A new age of international trade.  A trade even more profitable than what the Ottoman Turks controlled.  Because big ocean-going vessels can carry more cargo than anything coming over land on the Silk Road.  And these new European maritime powers wanted that wealth.  And the power it would provide.  To encourage risk takers to get into those wooden ships and travel halfway around the world they granted monopoly charters.  The Dutch East India Company (VOC) was one of the largest.  And one of the wealthiest.  But this was not your typical company.  The VOC established overseas colonies.  It waged war.  Established treaties.  Even coined its own money.  Because of this thousands of VOC ships stuffed full of valuable cargoes sailed to Antwerp and Amsterdam, making the Dutch very wealthy.  And powerful.

The Tea Act allowed the Company to Ship their Tea Directly to America and exempted them from any Duties

Of course the Dutch weren’t the only ones doing this.  They had competition.  Portugal.  Spain.  France.  And England.  Who would bump into each other numerous times fighting for control of this trade.  And those colonies.  The English and the Dutch would fight 4 wars.  Which is how Dutch-founded Manhattan became part of the British Empire and, subsequently, one of America’s greatest cities.  The English East India Company gave the VOC a run for its money.  Parliament even passed legislation to give the English a monopoly on all trade with their American colonies.  The Navigation Acts.  Which stated that all trade to and from America had to be on English ships.  And all trade had to go through an English port.  Where the ships were unloaded and the cargoes inspected.  And taxed.  Then they could reload their cargoes and continue on their journey.  All tenets of mercantilism.  This kept the lower-priced Dutch goods out of America.  And prevented the Americans from selling to the Dutch directly for higher prices.  So it shut down the Dutch from all American trade (except for a prosperous black market). And brought in some lucrative tax revenue for England.  While extending shipping times and increasing prices for the Americans.  Which they were not happy about in the least.

The English East India Company (the Company) was similar in structure to the VOC.  And soon made the Indian subcontinent a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company.  But it wasn’t cheap.  Waging war was costly.  As was managing those conquered territories (something the Romans had also learned).  Then a famine in Bengal in 1770 claimed about one-third of the local population.  Making laborers more scarce.  And more expensive.  All at a time when the sales of their imported goods were falling in Europe.  There were warehouses full of unsold Chinese tea that they couldn’t sell.  Making for a bad time for the Company.

Higher costs and lower sales spelled trouble.  And that’s what the Company had a lot of.  Trouble.  So the Company turned to Parliament for help.  And Parliament helped.  By allowing the Company to ship their tea directly to America without having to unload it in a British port.  Or pay a duty on that tea.  Which would greatly reduce their costs.  And allow them to sell it in America cheaper than they did before.  So Parliament passed the Tea Act in 1773.  Making life better for all involved.  But the Tea Act left in place another tax in the previous Townshend Acts.  Which was a bigger problem than getting cheaper tea (which they could get on the black market from the Dutch).  These taxes on the British subjects in America were unconstitutional.  Because there were no Americans sitting in Parliament.  This was taxation without representation.  A much bigger issue than cheap tea.  So they threw that first ‘cheap’ tea into Boston Harbor.  The Boston Tea Party being a major step towards war with the mother country.  And American independence.

Britain became the Lone Superpower after Abandoning their Protectionist Mercantile Policies and Adopting Free Trade

The American Revolutionary War was not the only headache the British got from their mercantile policies.  Part of those policies required maintaining a positive balance of trade.  So there was always a net inflow of bullion into the mother country.  That’s why raw materials shipped into Britain from America.  And finished goods shipped out to America.  Finished goods are more valuable than raw materials.  So the Americans had to make up for this balance of trade in bullion.  Resulting in a net inflow of bullion into the mother country.  Very simple.  As long as you can manufacture higher valued goods that other people want to buy.

And this is the problem they ran into with the Chinese.  For though the British wanted those Chinese spices, silk and porcelain the Chinese didn’t want anything the British manufactured.  Which meant Britain had to pay for those luxuries with bullion.  Including all that Chinese tea they craved.  Which resulted in a net outflow of bullion to the Chinese.  The British fixed this problem by finding the one thing that the Chinese people wanted.  Indian opium.  Grown in Bengal.  Of course, this turned a lot of Chinese into opium addicts.  The addiction problem was so bad that the Chinese banned opium.  But the British were able to smuggle it in.  They sold so much of it that they used the proceeds to buy their tea.  Thus reversing the bullion flow.

Not the finest hour in the British Empire.  The Chinese and the British would go on to fight a couple of wars over this opium trade.  The Opium Wars.  Which the British did all right in.  Even gaining Hong Kong in the bargain.  They didn’t build any long-lasting love with the Chinese people.  But Hong Kong turned out pretty nice under the British.  Especially after they abandoned their protectionist mercantile policies and adopted free trade.  Which made the British the lone superpower for about a century as they modernized the world by leading the way in the Industrial Revolution.  And the Chinese in Hong Kong were very happy indeed to be there when the communists took over the mainland.  And caused a famine or two.  For they lived comfortably.  In a state founded on mercantilism.  That achieved its greatest prosperity during the free trade of capitalism that followed Britain’s mercantile ways.

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More Budget Cuts increase Wait Times to see Doctor in the National Health Service

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 23rd, 2014

Week in Review

The problem with national health care is that it is zero-sum when it comes to budgeting.  There is one big pie of funding that they divide throughout the system to pay for all of its parts.  But anyone who has ever paid attention to a budget debate in Washington has seen that there is never enough in the pie.  And no one is ever satisfied with their slice of the pie.  Worse, every department will spend every last cent in their appropriation lest they reduce next year’s appropriation by the amount of any unspent funds in this year’s appropriation.  No matter how wasteful that spending is.  Such as for conferences in Las Vegas.  Or extravagant office parties at home.

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is straining under the cost of an aging population.  More people are leaving the workforce than are entering it.  Which means fewer people are paying taxes.  Just as the number of people using the resources of the NHS is growing.  Forcing the NHS to do more with less.  Which has everyone complaining about their chunk of the NHS budget (see ‘Unprecedented’ cuts see GPs warn half of Britain will be unable to get appointments by Charlie Cooper posted 2/23/2014 on The Independent).

More than 34 million people will fail to secure an appointment with their doctor at some point this year, the GP’s professional body has claimed, blaming “unprecedented” cuts to funding for family practices.

The Royal College of General Practitioners said that the profession was “on its knees” and called for GPs to get a larger share of the NHS budget.

However, the Department of Health dismissed their findings – which would imply that more than half the UK population will miss out an appointment this year – as “complete nonsense” and accused the college of “sensationalising” the issue.

General practice has seen its share of the NHS budget – which totalled more than £109bn in England last year – significantly eroded in recent years, from 11 per cent in 2005/06 to 8.5 per cent in 2011/12…

“GPs and practice nurses want to provide high quality care for every single patient who seeks a consultation, and over the last decade we have increased the number of patients we see each year in England by 40m,” she said. “However [we] can’t keep doing more for less…”

“The GP survey showed the vast majority of patients are satisfied with their GP and rated their experience of making an appointment as good,” the spokesperson said, adding that GPs had been given an extra £50m to modernise services and stay open longer.

Whenever you want to see your doctor you need to make an appointment.  In the NHS that could take a few weeks.  Which is driving a lot of people to the A/E (accident and emergency departments).  Because they are sick now.  And don’t want to wait 2 weeks to see a doctor to get an antibiotic for their strep throat.

If you read the comments following the linked article you can get a feeling of what the British people think about the NHS.  And an idea of what Obamacare may lead to.  They love their NHS.  But are exasperated by it.  Some think the doctors are too greedy.  But there isn’t a mad rush to become a doctor to relieve the doctor shortage.  So whatever the pay is it isn’t enough to get people to join the profession.  Which ultimately increases the wait times to see a doctor.

The problem is that aging population.  People who remember a kinder and gentler NHS remember one before the baby boomers retired and overloaded the system.  Who are living longer into retirement.  Consuming more of the NHS’ limited resources than people did before the baby boomers retired.  Had Britain (and every other advanced economy) not reduced its birthrate around the Sixties they would not have this problem now.  But they did.  So they are.  As we will, too.  And every other advanced economy with an aging population will.  Making it a very bad time for national health care.  Yet President Obama and the Democrats have given us Obamacare at precisely this time.  Which is guaranteed to make health care in the United States worse.  If you don’t believe that just read the comments following the linked article.

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Britain and Scotland disagree over Scottish Currency in an Independent Scotland

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 16th, 2014

Week in Review

The Eurozone was a grand idea to make an economic zone that could compete against the United States.  A United States of Europe, if you will.  But the Eurozone has suffered a sovereign debt crisis that was unavoidable.  As many analysts have identified the problem causing the Eurozone all its sovereign debt woes.  The lack of a political union.

The solution they say is for member states to give up some of their sovereignty and allow a Eurozone government have more control.  Like the United States of America has.  Which means putting even stricter controls on member states when it comes to their spending.  Which, in turn, would limit their deficits.  And their borrowing needs.  Which brought on the sovereign debt crisis in the first place.  Excessive spending beyond their ability to pay for with taxes.  Normally not a problem for other countries when another country spends itself into oblivion.  Unless, of course, there is a currency union with that country.  Which makes their problems your problems.  Problems that are impossible to solve without a political union.

The Eurozone sovereign debt crisis illustrates that a currency union without a political union will not work.  Which makes the movement for Scottish independence very interesting (see Britain warns Scotland: Forget the pound if you walk away by Belinda Goldsmith, Reuters, posted 2/13/2014 on Yahoo! News).

Britain warned Scotland on Thursday it would have to give up the pound if Scots voted to end the 307-year-old union with England, declaring the currency could not be divided up “as if it were a CD collection” after a messy divorce…

The message was aimed at undermining the economic case for independence and one of the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) key proposals – that an independent Scotland would keep the pound…

The debate has intensified in recent weeks with Bank of England chief Mark Carney cautioning that a currency union would entail a surrender of some sovereignty…

The SNP [Scottish National Party] has indicated that if London prevented a currency union, an independent Scotland could refuse to take on a share of the UK’s 1.2 trillion pounds ($1.99 trillion) of government debt which Britain has promised to honor…

Osborne said the nationalist threat to walk away from its share of UK debt would mean punitively high interest rates for an independent Scotland and was an “empty threat”.

“In that scenario, international lenders would look at Scotland and see a fledgling country whose only credit history was one gigantic default,” Osborne said.

Currently there is a political union between Scotland and England.  The United Kingdom (UK).  And Scottish independence would go contrary to what some analysts say is needed to save the Eurozone.  Political unity.  The problem in the Eurozone is that no one nation wants to give up any of their sovereignty and have some distant power tell them what they can and cannot do.  The way some in Scotland feel about London.  That distant power that governs the United Kingdom.

The British pound is one of the world’s strongest currencies.  A product of the powers in London.  Because they have political control across the UK.  If they lose their political control over Scotland will it damage the British pound?  If the Eurozone is any measure of a currency union without a political union, yes.  So it will be interesting to see what happens between these two great nations.  Whose people made the world a better place.  People like the great Scotsman Adam Smith.  And the great Englishman John Locke.  To name just two.  So whatever happens let’s hope it’s in the best interest of both countries.  For countries everywhere enjoying economic freedom and human rights can thank these two countries for their contributions to the British Empire.  Which helped spread the best of Western Civilization around the world from the United States to Canada to Australia to Hong Kong.  And beyond.

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Anchor/Passport Babies proof that People wished Britain/America had conquered the World

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 8th, 2014

Week in Review

The problem with a generous welfare state and porous borders is that they attract a lot of foreign-born people to your country to cash in on those generous welfare benefits.  Some even make the journey while pregnant so their child is born in the country with the generous welfare benefits.  And not the cruel, cold-hearted benefit-free country they are escaping.  Giving them an ‘anchor’ in the country they’d much rather live in than the country they don’t want to live in.  Their native country.

The United States has a porous border with Mexico.  And many Mexicans give birth in the United States while in the country illegally just so their child doesn’t have to grow up in Mexico.  Which when you think about is a statement on how these Mexicans feel about the ‘imperial’ United States.  They must really hate them for not taking the rest of Mexico when they won the Mexican War.  Had the Americans done so there would be no need for anchor babies.  For they would already be enjoying American citizenship south of the Rio Grande.  Based on the number of Mexicans entering America illegally, at least.

The United States isn’t the only country people want to live in.  Canada, too, is a beautiful country with a generous welfare state.  The winters are a little colder, though.  But that doesn’t stop people from trying to become Canadian citizens with anchor babies.  Only they call them ‘passport babies’ in Canada (see Canadian citizenship bill to be tabled Thursday by Susana Mas posted 2/2/2014 on CBC News).

Alexander said the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act would also aim to reduce the current backlog of applications and change the conditions for eligibility.

The government is also considering changes to tackle the problem of so-called “birth tourism” or “passport babies,” but Alexander told CBC News they would not be included in this bill.

Americans and Canadians aren’t better people.  They just live in countries that allow their people to be better.  Which is the problem in Mexico.  Not the people.  As the Americas were colonized Britain was further along in representative government than Spain.  Free market capitalism replaced mercantilism quicker in British America than it did in Spanish America.  And democratic institutions were more developed in British America than they were in Spanish America.  Such that the foundation for representative government, free market capitalism and democracy was more robust in British American than it was in Spanish America.

Because of this when the Americans gained their independence great peace and prosperity followed.  A first following a civil war.  Allowing America and Canada (later granted their independence from the British Empire) to be lands of opportunity.  With strong human rights.  Ironically, in large part to the School of Salamanca.  One of the greatest gifts Spain gave to the world.  Which is why people want to have their babies born in these countries.  So they can be as great as they want to be.  Because only representative government, free market capitalism and democracy can make this possible.  At least based on history.

But you can’t have people entering your country unchecked.  Especially if they’re coming for the benefits.  And your country has annual deficits and a growing national debt.  For adding more people to the benefits roll when you can’t afford it will transform the country from that land of opportunity people want to come to into the country they are fleeing.  Countries with high spending and devalued currencies that lead to black markets and lawlessness.  The very things people want to get away from by having their babies in the United States and Canada.

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Progressive and Regressive Taxes and Marginal Tax rates

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 6th, 2014

Economics 101

(Originally published July 9th, 2012)

The Beatles fled Britain to Escape a Confiscatory Top Marginal Tax Rate of 95%

George Harrison wrote Taxman.  The song appeared on the 1966 Beatles album Revolver.  It was an angry protest song.  For George Harrison was furious when he learned what exactly the progressive tax system was in Britain.  In the song the British taxman is laying down the tax law.

Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman

That’s one for you, Mr. Harrison.  And nineteen for us.  The government.  Meaning that for every £20 the Beatles earned they got to keep only £1.  This is a 95% top marginal tax rate.  A supertax on the super rich imposed by Harold Wilson’s Labour government.  So if the Beatles earned £1 million because of their incredible talent and hard work touring in concert, working on new albums in the studio and making movies, of that £1 million they got to keep only about £50,000.  While the government got £950,000.  If they earned £10 million they got to keep about £500,000.  While the government got £9,500,000.  As you can see 5% is a very small percentage.  Which is why George Harrison got so angry.  The harder they worked the less of their earnings they were able to keep.

Is this fair?  George didn’t think so.  Nor did his fellow Beatles.  For they fled Britain.  Moved to another country.  Becoming tax exiles.  For they were little more than court minstrels.  Who the government forced to entertain them.  Earning a lot of money so they could take it away.  To help pay for an explosion in social spending Harold Wilson unleashed on Britain.  Socializing the UK like never before.  And all those social benefits required a lot of taxes.  Hence the progressive tax system.  And marginal tax rates.  Where the super rich, like the Beatles, paid confiscatory tax rates of 95%.

The Top Marginal Tax Rate was around 70% under President Carter and around 28% under President Reagan

As social spending took off in the Sixties and Seventies governments thought they could just increase tax rates to generate greater amounts of tax revenue.  For governments looked at the economy as being static.  That whatever they did would result in their desired outcome without influencing the behavior of those paying these higher tax rates.  But the economy is not static.  It’s dynamic.  And changes in the tax rates do influence taxpayer behavior.  Just ask the Beatles.  And every other tax exile escaping the confiscatory tax rates of their government.  Because of this dynamic behavior of the taxpayers excessively high tax rates rarely brings in the tax revenue governments expect them to.

Even when it comes to sin taxes government still believes that the economy is static.  Even though they publicly state that taxes on alcohol and tobacco are to dissuade people from consuming alcohol and tobacco.  (The U.S. funded children’s health care with cigarette taxes clearly showing the government did not believe these taxes would stop people from smoking).  Perhaps some in government look at sin taxes as a way to discourage harmful habits.  But the taxman sees something altogether different when they look at sin taxes.  Addiction.  Knowing that few people will give up these items no matter how much they tax them.  And that means tax revenue.  But unlike the progressive income tax this tax is a regressive tax.  Those who can least afford to pay higher taxes pay a higher percentage of their income to pay these taxes.  For sin taxes increase prices.  And higher prices make smaller paychecks buy less.  Leaving less money for groceries and other essentials.

Most income taxes, on the other hand, are progressive.  Your income is broken up into brackets.  The lowest bracket has the lowest income tax rate.  Often times the lowest income bracket pays no income taxes.  The next bracket up has a small income tax rate.  The next bracket up has a larger income tax rate.  And so on.  Until you get to the high income threshold.  Where all income at and above this rate has the highest income tax rate.  This top marginal tax rate was around 70% under President Carter.  Around 28% under President Reagan.  And 95% under Harold Wilson’s Labour government in Britain.  An exceptionally high rate that led to great efforts to avoid paying income taxes.  Or simply encouraged people to renounce their citizenship and move to a more tax-friendly country.

When the Critical Mass of People turn from Taxpayers to Benefit Recipients it will Herald the End of the Republic

Progressive taxes are supposed to be fair.  By transferring the tax burden onto those who can most afford to pay these taxes.  But the more progressive the tax rates are the less tax revenue they generate.  What typically happens is you have a growing amount of low-income earners paying no income taxes but consuming the lion’s share of government benefits.  The super rich shelter their higher incomes and pay far less in taxes than those high marginal tax rates call for.  They still pay a lot, paying the majority of income taxes.  But it’s still not enough.  So the middle class gets soaked, too.  They pay less than the rich but the tax bite out of their paychecks hurts a lot more than it does for the rich.  Because the middle class has to make sacrifices in their lives whenever their tax rates go up.

As social spending increases governments will use class warfare to increase taxes on the rich.  And they will redefine the rich to include parts of the middle class.  To make ‘the rich’ pay their ‘fair’ share.  And they will increase their tax rates.  But it won’t generate much tax revenue.  For no matter how much they tax the rich governments with high levels of spending on social programs all run deficits.  Because there just aren’t enough rich people to tax.  Which is why the government taxes everything under the sun to help pay for their excessive spending.

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Don’t ask me what I want it for
If you don’t want to pay some more
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
And you’re working for no one but me.

This is where excessive government spending leads to.  Excessive taxation.  And confiscatory tax rates.  Taking as much from the wealth creators as possible to fund the welfare state.  And as progressive tax systems fail to generate the desired tax revenue they will turn to every other tax they can.  Until there is no more wealth to tax.  Or to confiscate.  When the wealth creators finally say enough is enough.  And refuse to create any more wealth for the government to tax or to confiscate.  Leaving the government unable to meet their spending obligations.  As the critical mass of people turn from taxpayers to benefit recipients.  Heralding the end of the republic.

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It was a Bad Year for the NHS which Portends a Bad Future for Obamacare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 29th, 2013

Week in Review

Britain has had its problems with their National Health Service (NHS).  Where national health care is proving to be unaffordable.  Especially now that their population is aging.  People are living longer into retirement and consuming more health care resources.  While a falling birthrate is producing fewer new taxpayers to replace those retirees leaving the tax-paying workforce.  Forcing them to raise taxes on those still paying taxes.  Or cutting spending on those who aren’t paying taxes.  Those consuming the lion’s share of their limited health care resources.  Those retirees.

Those are the choices.  And they are the only choices.  Because when it comes to national health care it’s a zero-sum game.  Either you take more from some to pay for others.  Or you spend less on everyone to make those limited resources cover more people.  Which is the great flaw in national health care.  Because your health care depends on what others are willing or able to give you.  Something that’s been happening ever since health insurance became an employee benefit.  For before that you paid for your health care.  And no one denied you anything.  Because you were in control by paying your own bills.  But then came the third parties.  First the health insurance companies.  And then the government.  As always is the case when you introduce ‘middle men’ costs rise and efficiencies fall.

As health care became a benefit it required generational theft.  Taking money from the young and healthy to pay for the old and sick.  When health care became a right the generational theft grew greater.  And when government took over the generational theft grew even greater.  As government is notoriously less efficient than private health insurers.  Requiring ever more money to provide the same level of health care found in the private sector.  Which is why 2013 was not a good year for the NHS (see Was 2013 the NHS’s annus horriblis? by Nick Triggle posted 12/27/2013 on BBC News Health).

It has been a bruising year for the NHS in England…

It kicked off with the publication in February of the Francis Inquiry into events at the Stafford Hospital, which accused the service of betraying patients.

By the start of the summer, another 14 hospitals with the highest death rates were being hauled over the coals for their failings in their care…

As autumn came, another review – this time on complaints – was scathing about the attitude of the NHS to complaints.

The report, led by Labour MP Ann Clywd who had broken down on radio over the care given to her late husband, said there was a culture of “delay and denial”.

Of course, controversy has surrounded the health service before…

But that was about how the service was structured.

This year has been about the very basics – the quality of care – and so in that sense it has felt different…

According to Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network, the giant hurdle in the way of further progress is money.

“This is perhaps the trickiest position the NHS has ever been in,” he says.

“We are looking at a period of 10 years where money will be incredibly tight and what we are seeing now is a mismatch between what is being asked for and what is achievable.

The United States has an aging population just like Britain.  And has the same problem paying for their health care as they do.  Requiring ever greater amounts of generational theft.  As Obamacare all but picks up our young by the feet to shake whatever money they can out of their pockets.  Which begs the question if the NHS is such a case study in what not to do why did President Obama and the Democrats do the Affordable Care Act?

The answer is simple.  Because Obamacare is not about health care.  It’s about government power over one-sixth of the U.S. economy.  For if it was about health care they wouldn’t have done the Affordable Care Act.  Because of the lessons offered by the NHS.  Lessons President Obama and the Democrats ignored when passing Obamacare into law.  As they weren’t being honest with the American people.  Because they want what the British have.  Even if it reduces the quality of our health care.  Which is obvious by their passing the Affordable Care Act despite all of their woes in the NHS.  Which will soon be our woes.

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