Medicare Ads and Other Inane Policies

Medicare Ads and Other Inane Policies

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

We’ve all seen them, the Medicare TV ads exhorting seniors to apply for enhanced benefits. Government appears to be coaxing often reluctant retirees into greater dependence.

But this is a colossally bad idea, even for those of us who support helping citizens in their sunset years. It stimulates greed (it’s freeeee!) and entitlement in the demographic which government programs have already made into the most wealthy. It expands the reach of government into our lives.

But it’s worse than that. The ads are pitching benefits in a program already teetering on bankruptcy. Americans were told that their mandatory payroll contributions were put in a fund to finance payouts in retirement, but that was a lie. Politicians raided the trust long ago and today’s retirees are dependent on the (inadequate) contributions of today’s payers – yes, like any other welfare program.

The rational response would be reforms that include reducing expenses where possible. Instead, we spend untold millions to pump up program outlays. Not smart. Consequences to follow.

But screeching Medicare ads aren’t the only government initiative which, partisan disagreements aside, simply don’t make sense. Take electric cars. They’re touted as a big key to a carbon-free future. We’re pouring public funds into subsidies, charging stations and other enticement for owners.

We may disagree over the feasibility of carbon reduction strategies to ultimately reduce climate change, but it doesn’t matter. Electric cars aren’t the answer. They still require energy that must be produced somehow.

The pollutants may come from an electricity generating plant instead of a car’s exhaust, but the damage done isn’t greatly different. The environmental costs of battery production and disposal as well as the extra power sources needed to service a national fleet of autos make EVs an environmental loser.

But politicians use them anyway to bolster green credentials. Buyers like the subsidies, the perks and driving a cool car. Manufacturers are joining the ranks of the uber-rich. So, the beat goes on.

EVs could have some environmental benefit if nuclear generation sourced their electricity. Once again, stupidity intervenes.

The environmental Left decreed long ago that nuclear was off-limits. Nuclear power plants would henceforth be discouraged by excessive regulation and harassment. The strategy has basically worked, but it’s a shame.

It’s still true that nuclear is by far the most environmentally friendly, non-emitting energy source available. Nuclear-producing France pays 50% less for energy with 10% the amount of pollution experienced by Germany, which sanctimoniously exited the nuclear market years ago.

Here‘s more lunacy. A year ago, America had finally achieved energy independence, after decades of kowtowing to Arab sheiks and oil-rich autocrats . Within days, the Biden administration returned us to supplicant status. Pipeline permits were canceled, offshore drilling cut back and even the remote ANWR oil deposits were shut down.

Meanwhile, with our consent, Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline was approved, which will dominate Western Europe‘s natural gas supplies. Biden unsuccessfully begged OPEC to increase oil production, so US gas prices have predictably skyrocketed and a cold winter looms.

Again, the environmental benefits of our foolishness are nil. Pipelines are the most environmentally safe way of transporting natural gas. The fuels from Russia and the Middle East are no cleaner than ours.

We have more inane policies. Children too young to vote, drink, smoke or drive are now permitted to change their socially constructed gender by irreversibly altering their bodies-without parental consent.

$450,000 payouts are seriously proposed for illegal immigrants who were separated from their children in a humane effort to avoid mixing children with adults during detention. In spite of causing no known harm, GMO bans limit the amount of food available to starving Africans.

The driving force for these nutty, harmful policies is the relentless pursuit of electoral success by pandering to special interest groups. We’ve come a long ways from Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a “wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another…”

Listen to political analysts uncritically predicting the fate of multi-trillion dollar spending bills based solely on how the vote would affect legislators’ prospects for remaining in office another term.

It’s disgraceful, but we expect no more, so that’s what we get.

Race Baiters Are Trying To Divide Us

Race Baiters Are Trying To Divide Us

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Americans are barraged with messaging from left-wing politicians and their supportive media informing us we are a fundamentally racist nation, frozen in amber from our slaveholding past, and denying it only proves how racist we are.

But the facts are against these purveyors of resentment. Yes, racism exists–duh-but America is the least racist nation on earth. To label us unregenerate bigots is a slur purposed to divide us by skin color.

First, America in this century has elected to its highest offices two members of racial minorities,  if anything aided, not hindered, by their race. Hundreds of other blacks hold elected positions, cabinet posts and positions of influence.

Moreover, this nation of supposed bigots boasts the largest legal immigrant population in the world, with 40 million citizens born outside the country, quadruple the immigrant population in 1965. America is the world’s greatest magnet for immigrants, who seek freedom and fairness.

Black Americans, both native-born and immigrant, have also benefited from the promise of liberty and equality. It is true they have not obtained the financial and social success of some other groups. But know that family breakdown and substandard education have caused more harm than racial animus ever could.

The linchpin of systemic racism allegations is the charge that blacks are regularly gunned down by rogue cops. Again, facts intrude.

According  to the FBI Uniform Crime Report last year, policeman made 10 million arrests which resulted in 1004 fatalities, 41 unarmed, nine of those black. The same year 89 police officers and about 10,000 black citizens were murdered.

Yet the left continues to attack normal Americans as racists.  When usual indices of racism i.e., actual mistreatment of minorities, failed to materialize, the definition of racism was expanded to include believing in the goal of color blindness.

When “racism“ lost its bite due to overuse, “white supremacy” became the all-purpose insult. Whiteness is composed of such subversive notions as “merit,” “family,” “rationality,” “getting the answer right,” and “capitalism.”

This racialized environment was the background in which the recent Virginia election took place. When Terry McAuliffe lost, predictably out came the race card.

“He’s run a racist campaign from start to finish,” it was said of Glenn Youngkin.  It was asserted that Republicans decided “tap dancing with white supremacy is their way back to power,” Youngkin made “racial appeals to working class white voters” and “this country simply loves white supremacy.”

These claims not only lacked evidence but were laughable because Youngkin’s successful running mate for lieutenant-governor was Winsome Sears, a black woman of Jamaican descent and his attorney-general was Cuban-American. Sears spoke movingly of her experience as an immigrant, later a Marine and an American living the Dream.

Evidence of Youngkin’s racism was based largely on his opposition to Critical Race Theory in the public schools and his support of parents who were threatened for opposing it. CRT is the thoroughly un-American notion that character is determined by skin color. Whites are inherently racist as is the country they founded, while blacks are incapable of racism by nature.

The racial haters defending CRT first defended it as necessary, then denied it was being taught. By the time of the election, analysts were insisting that CRT “isn’t real” and is “code for white parents don’t like the idea of teaching about race.”

Again, they have a problem with their facts. There is a torrent of published information showing state and local education officials supporting CRT and schools surreptitiously teaching it. Under Governor Terry McAuliffe, the Virginia Department of Education declared that “teachers should embrace Critical Race Theory” in order to “re-engineer attitudes and beliefs systems.”

The relentless lies and deceit about race are a political strategy of the Left, which has determined the future of the Democrat party lies in racially dividing the nation, while posing as the champion of the growing minority groups.

Martin Luther King‘s dream was of a nation where we would judge each other by the “content of our character” not skin color, where race wouldn’t really much matter. Whether his vision or its opposite prevails will determine the future character of America itself.

Union Paybacks Affect Us All

Union Paybacks Affect Us All

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Most of the attention of our nation’s businesses entities is focused on attempts to win government favors. That’s typical of political economies sliding into corruption mode.

America’s unions have been a big winner of the competition. They poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Democratic campaigns. Their bet paid off when Democrats swept the presidency and both houses of Congress. Not only that, ole’ Scranton Joe is a longtime friend.

So White House favors have flowed in a torrent. For example, a new law mandates union labor on virtually all federal projects, automatically adding 20 to 30% to the cost. There is also a provision making union dues tax deductible, another huge union subsidy.

The Green New Deal is union friendly. A $4500 tax credit is available for electric vehicles only if the car is union made. The $14,500 tax credit for homeowner energy-saving devices also requires the work be done by union members.

Worst of all, the “jobs bill“ would abolish the 26 state right-to-work laws. Tens of millions of workers would be forced to pay union dues and support union political causes.

There are legitimate reasons why workers may decline to join a union. The benefits of membership may not be worth the dues. They may not support the union’s political views.

Especially ambitious or capable workers may not want to be bound by union work rules, promotion and salary schedules, typically designed to protect the weakest performers. Moreover, many workers are repulsed by the 2,100 documented cases of union corruption, including embezzlement, racketeering and inflated salaries.

But it’s no secret that mandatory membership would massively increase union rolls and coffers. Joe Biden may have lied about a few things here and there, but his vow to have “the most pro-union administration in history” meant business.

But if the unions are experiencing a bonanza, how about the rest of us? After all, only 6.3% of private sector workers are union members (about half of government workers are unionized). How do the other 93.7%, and those of us not considered “workers“, fare?

Not that well. You may have heard of the supply chain shortage and the massive backup at our ports. You’ve seen prices rise and empty shelves starting to appear.

In response, President Biden recently announce a “gamechanger”, ordering more hours for the ports. Union work rules regarding off-hours pay make the option a significant burden for the port operators. But it would increase cargo movement by less than 10%, hardly solving the problem.

The dysfunction in America’s ports isn’t news. The World Bank rates LA and Long Beach 328 and 333 worldwide for speed and efficiency. Not one US port was in the top 50.

Here’s the reason. Our ports lack modern technology. Automated cranes and other laborsaving devices operate worldwide over twice as fast as our outdated equipment.

But unions demand the obsolescence to preserve make-work jobs. The International Longshoremen’s Association has a contract blocking the use of automated cargo handling equipment.

Biden could take action, but he won’t. His Build Back Better bill specially prohibits using any funds for automation.

Government unions, because they needn’t worry about any economic impact on their employer, are even more abusive of the public trust. The main reward for teachers’ union loyalty has been the party’s staunch, enduring opposition to school choice.

School choice for underprivileged children is rightly considered the civil rights issue of our time. Many leading Democrats, like the Obamas, Clintons and Kennedys send their own children to desirable schools but deny the same privilege to millions of children who will be economically handicapped for life by the school they attend.

The teachers’ unions displayed their impressive clout again during the recent pandemic. Long after research data had thoroughly discredited the wisdom, (children were essentially COVID-19 proof), they selfishly kept schools closed. The education fallout is proving to be catastrophic.

Unions historically have played a role in improving the plight of workers. Private sector unions particularly deserve the right to exist, to organize and to be treated fairly. But when the scales are tipped to afford them political benefits not enjoyed by other Americans, we all get hit.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

Bulk Mail Voting Is The True Threat To Democracy

Bulk Mail Voting Is The True Threat To Democracy

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

A recent cover of The Week magazine proclaimed “Undermining Democracy.  The GOP’s blueprint for nullifying Democratic votes in 2024.”

The article was another installment of the concentrated effort on the Left to convince Americans that voter fraud is essentially nonexistent, just a hoax used by Republicans as an excuse to deny the franchise to underprivileged Americans.

But is it true?  Are Republicans using strategies like restricting the number of weeks early voting is allowed, cleaning up outdated voter rolls and requiring voter ID simply to squelch minority votes?

The Week article didn’t describe one voter who had been even partially hindered from voting. Critics seldom do because such cases are devilishly hard to find.

Any limiting of access is illegal under federal law and the Department of Justice has a large and aggressive enforcement unit. Yet during the eight years of the Obama administration, just four cases were filed under the relevant voting rights section.

Moreover, a 2019 survey of turnout data from all 50 states concluded that voter ID laws, for example, “have no negative affect on registration or turnout“ for any race, gender, party or age group. The Census Bureau in 2012 reported that blacks nationally had a higher turnout rate than whites.

Mississippi had a higher percentage turnout of black voters than white, unlike Connecticut, New York or Delaware.  Much reviled Georgia’s black turnout percentage was higher than New York’s in 2018 and 2020, all during times when Republicans were being loudly accused of voter suppression. They must be the most inept vote suppressors in history.

The Maricopa County 2020 audit was meant to clear up some of these issues of fraud versus suppression. It was never intended by its sponsors to overturn the election.  So all the chortling by its detractors when that didn’t happen is their mistake.

Nevertheless, both sides felt vindicated. One thing for certain is that allegations that voter fraud  doesn’t exist were again demolished. Voters voting in multiple counties, mail-in ballots from prior addresses, dead people voting, deleted files and duplicated ballots were all uncovered.

But the commission whiffed on the issue of bulk mail voting. The practice of sending unsolicited ballots by mail to millions of voters is by far the greatest potential threat to election integrity.

Unfortunately, they looked for evidence of mail fraud in the wrong place at the wrong time. The audit was of the accounting process and never really addressed how the ballots were generated in the first place.

Mail-in fraud has caused entire elections to be canceled and major schemes have been busted in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and other states.  But any fraud discovered is likely only the tip of the iceberg. Fraud from bulk mail voting/ballot harvesting occurs out of sight  and leaves few traces.

Unlike in-person voting, there is no ability to assure the vote is cast independently.  Arizona’s  sole safeguard has been the notoriously easy-to-game signature verification process with no ID required.

Normally, chain of custody violations are considered a major breach by election officials. Here, there is no chain of custody. What could go wrong?

There’s a reason that after Democrats discovered electoral gold in 2016, votes by mail more than doubled in 2020, and just 28% voted in person on election day. Yet as far back as 2005, the bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform advised that “absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”

Our sister democracies know that. 74% ban absentee voting entirely for citizens living in the country, 6% have very strict restrictions and another 15% require photo ID to obtain a mail ballot. France and Mexico banned mail-in voting after massive fraud and political intimidation were finally discovered.

America has a serious problem. Our elections do not have, and do not deserve, the confidence of a majority of Americans.

The overriding problem is not lack of access to the ballot. In fact, a plurality of voters believe it is too easy to vote.

It’s not stolen elections or miscounted ballots. It is intentionally flawed election laws that permit massive security leaks, raising the undeniable possibility of widespread cheating.

That, friends, is the true threat to democracy.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

Surprise, Surprise!  It’s Time To Go Through The Debt Limit Raising Hassle Again

Surprise, Surprise! It’s Time To Go Through The Debt Limit Raising Hassle Again

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Democrats are clamoring for immediate action to avert a financial crisis which would be blamed on Republicans, just because. Meanwhile, the Republican campaign conservatives aren’t showing much enthusiasm for this rare possibility of achieving significant fiscal reform.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen rolled out the traditional arguments for raising the debt limit in the Wall Street Journal. Raising the limit doesn’t authorize additional deficit spending, which is true, as far as it goes.  But it does ratify the overspending that has occurred, which keeps the ball rolling for spenders.

But she whiffs on the real point. The greater danger to our credit-worthiness would be to continue the present course. As our indebtedness climbs to stratospheric levels and interest rates return to normal, our fundamental ability to service the debt becomes questionable, as our geopolitical rivals well know.

America is going to pay its debts. Yet in an obvious attempt to bullrush Republicans into compliance without conditions, Secretary Yellen warns that any failure could cause economic damage so severe as to be permanent.

Indeed, the titanic struggle over the 2011 debt limit increase, which resulted in a $2.1 trillion spending cut, caused a significant downturn in financial markets. However, spurred by the spending cut and the vitality of America’s private sector, all the losses and more were made up within the year.

Yellen notes that Congress has raised or suspended the debt ceiling 80 times since 1960, so it must be no big deal, right? But what’s wrong with this picture?

All 80 times, the effect was to increase America’s borrowing capacity. It has never been reduced. The routine, expected raising of the debt limit is the enabling mechanism that has allowed us to slide into treacherous financial territory.

Republicans have never had a better opportunity to break this self-perpetuating cycle. Democrats are on a world record spending binge. Their majorities are slim and fractious.  They desperately need Republican cooperation.

So Republicans are threatened with being saddled, again, with responsibility for the dreaded government “shutdown”.  Previous shutdowns prohibited WW II veterans from visiting their DC memorial and prevented the viewing, even from the highway, of Mount Rushmore.

But government employees and beneficiaries were exempted. Nonessential employees got the best deal of all. They were furloughed but promised a complete pay reimbursement after the “shutdown.” Road trip!

Both Yellen and Biden insist that raising the debt ceiling in the past was bipartisan.  That doesn’t make it right, of course.  Still, the claim holds true only if you consider a 98.8% negative Democrat vote on the three debt ceiling bills during the George W. Bush administration to be “bipartisan.“

But the screws on Republicans get tightened anyway. “I can’t believe Republicans will let the nation default“ by not raising the debt limit, Chuck Schumer mourned at a recent press conference. As usual, the Chuckster was making it up.

Democrats control the White House and both houses of Congress. They don’t need a single Republican vote to do whatever they wish. They could have simply included the debt limit provisions in a budget resolution, a reconciliation bill not subject to the filibuster and thus not requiring Republican votes to pass.

Schumer instead moved the debt limit to regular legislation requiring 60 votes so that Republicans could be blamed for its failure. Democrats understandably don’t want the political blame for pushing  our nation deeper into debt. But why should Republicans bail them out when the budget-crushing Biden era spending bills have passed with almost exclusively Democrat support?

Based on their record when in power, Republicans may not be sincerely interested in living within our means either.  If they are serious, they must learn from past mistakes. Previous budgetary reforms included in debt limit bills have failed because they were later amended or ignored.

This time, Republicans must demand limitations that are self-activated and self-enforced, not subject to congressional amendment, at least for a time certain. Congressional proposal of a debt-limiting constitutional amendment should be on the table.

For common sense fiscal conservatives, this is our time. Success requires boldness and bravery.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.