Ever watch The Twilight Zone? The stories are all written to a formula. You are presented with a set of circumstances which seem completely natural, comprehensible and familiar. Only something is wrong. There's an element that doesn't make sense, doesn't fit. This builds up to a climax until an epiphanic moment when you're mentally zoomed out to see a wider truth you never expected. Suddenly you realize all of your prior assumptions were wrong, what was really happening was entirely different only you had no way of knowing it. Only then does it all become perfectly clear and it's the opposite of what you'd thought before. The truth comes as a complete surprise.
When you step out of that moment and back into reality, your epiphany will cause you to retreat from your previously-held belief system and realize you've been had.
- Mark Fisher @ PS Tracks
All you've experienced are SNIPPETS of factoids, not a truth that can only be revealed in a context.
The context of just about everything you know is missing.
And factoids are not truths.
They are merely factoids that just appear to be truths.
You are...and have lived for your entire life...in The Twilight Zone.
FAR MORE CRUCIAL THAN WHAT WE KNOW OR DO NOT KNOW IS WHAT WE DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. – Eric Hoffer
EXCEPT WITH THE FIRST ONE CAN DELIBERATELY MAKE ONESELF EXEMPT!
JOHN MAULDIN writes:
For all of measurable human history up until the year 1750, nothing happened that mattered.
This isn't to say history was stagnant, or that life was only grim and blank, but the well-being of average people did not perceptibly improve. All of the wars, literature, love affairs, and religious schisms, the schemes for empire-making and ocean-crossing and simple profit and freedom, the entire human theater of ambition and deceit and redemption took place on a scale too small to register, too minor to much improve the lot of ordinary human beings. In England before the middle of the eighteenth century, where industrialization first began, the pace of progress was so slow that it took 350 years for a family to double its standard of living. In Sweden, during a similar 200-year period, there was essentially no improvement at all. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the state of technology and the luxury and quality of life afforded the average individual were little better than they had been two millennia earlier, in ancient Rome.
"The first order of business (and creativity) is to try." - says Elon Musk, CEO of SPACE-X and TESLA Motors, inventor of PayPal, interviewed on CNNs Fareed Zakaria Jan. 5, 2014, a full year after SNIPPETS covered Elon Musk in these newsletters.
"Think of things that have not been done before...and if you can't, you haven't tried hard enough."
The Primacy of Human Capital
It is not just that Gordon and others miss the importance of information and entrepreneurial effort in industrial revolutions, missing the forest for the trees. It is that they miss the most important factor of all: capital. But not capital in the sense of money. I am thinking of capital in the more important way that Nobel laureate Gary Becker describes it: as human capital.
It is the investments we have made in ourselves that have been the true source of economic growth. Education, training, information sharing, the transfer of knowledge have all been fundamental in the human experiment. The more open a society becomes, the more it shares its information and knowledge and the fruits of its labors, and the more empowered its people and the more productive its civilization become.
As Isaac Newton said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." In Newton's time, there were a handful of giants; today there are thousands. And because of their ubiquity, most go unnoticed. The division of labor, the most significant of Adam Smith's insights, means that there are just so many more small but important realms of human endeavor where giants can roam and have an impact. When was the last time we celebrated the giants of material sciences? Who are the Newtons of the world of ceramics? We may not be able to name them, yet their work has a profound impact on our lives. I daresay that our Killer Robot would not be possible without their seminal work. Or the work of thousands of other innovators.The End of Growth?
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN CUT BACK ON YOUR EXPENSES AT THE SAME % RATIO TO FOLLOW OBAMA'S LEAD?
I'm going to bite the bullet too. Will you join me?
IT WAS A PLAN TO MAKE EVERY INSURANCE COMPANY IN THE PLAN PERPETUALLY PROFITABLE.
WARREN BUFFETT MADE MOST OF HIS MONEY BY INVESTING IN INSURANCE COMPANIES.
LAST OBSERVATION ABOUT WARREN BUFFETT.
HE'S SMARTER THAN YOU!
WaPo, January 2
By Charles Krauthammer
First order of business for the returning Congress: The No Bailout for Insurance Companies Act of 2014.
Make it one line long: "Sections 1341 and 1342 of the Affordable Care Act are hereby repealed."
End of bill. End of bailout. End of story.
Why do we need it? On Dec. 18, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers was asked what was the administration's Plan B if, because of adverse selection (enrolling too few young and healthies), the insurance companies face financial difficulty.
Jason Furman wouldn't bite. "There's a Plan A," he replied. Enroll the young.
But of course there's a Plan B. It's a government bailout.
Administration officials can't say it for political reasons. And they don't have to say it because it's already in the Affordable Care Act, buried deep.
First, Section 1341, the "reinsurance" fund collected from insurers and self-insuring employers at a nifty $63 a head. (Who do you think the cost is passed on to?) This yields about $20 billion over three years to cover losses.
Never heard of these? That's the beauty of passing a bill of such monstrous length. You can insert a chicken soup recipe and no one will notice.
Nancy Pelosi was right: We'd have to pass the damn thing to know what's in it. Well, now we have and now we know.
The whole scheme was risky enough to begin with — getting enough enrollees and making sure 40 percent were young and healthy. Obamacare is already far behind its own enrollment estimates. But things have gotten worse. The administration has been changing the rules repeatedly — with every scrimmage-line audible raising costs and diminishing revenue.
First, it postponed the employer mandate. Then it exempted from the individual mandate people whose policies were canceled (by Obamacare). And for those who did join the exchanges, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is "strongly encouraging" insurers — during the "transition" — to cover doctors and drugs not included in their clients' plans.
The insurers were stunned. Told to give free coverage. Deprived of their best customers. Forced to offer stripped-down "catastrophic" plans to people age 30 and over (contrary to the law). These dictates, complained an insurance industry spokesman, could "destabilize" the insurance market.
Translation: How are we going to survive this? Shrinking revenues and rising costs could bring on the "death spiral" — an unbalanced patient pool forcing huge premium increases (to restore revenue) that would further unbalance the patient pool as the young and healthy drop out.
End result? Insolvency — before which the insurance companies will pull out of Obamacare.
Solution? A huge government bailout. It's Obamacare's escape hatch. And — surprise, surprise — it's already baked into the law.
Which is why the GOP needs to act. Obamacare is a Rube Goldberg machine with hundreds of moving parts. Without viable insurance companies doing the work, it falls apart. No bailout, no Obamacare.
Such a bill would be overwhelmingly popular because Americans hate fat-cat bailouts of any kind. Why should their tax dollars be spent not only saving giant insurers but also rescuing this unworkable, unbalanced, unstable, unpopular money-pit of a health-care scheme?
The GOP House should pass it and send it to Harry Reid's Democratic Senate. Democrats know it could be fatal for Obamacare. The only alternative would be single-payer. And try selling that to the country after the spectacularly incompetent launch of — and subsequent widespread disaffection with — mere semi-nationalization.
Do you really think vulnerable Democrats up for reelection will vote for a bailout? And who better to slay Obamacare than a Democratic Senate — liberalism repudiating its most important creation of the last 50 years.
Want to be even bolder? Attach the anti-bailout bill to the debt ceiling. That and nothing else. Dare the president to stand up and say: "I'm willing to let the country default in order to preserve a massive bailout for insurance companies."
In the past, Republicans made unrealistic and unpopular debt-ceiling demands — and lost badly. They learned their lesson. Last year, Republicans presented one simple unassailable debt-ceiling demand — that the Senate pass its first budget in four years.
Who could argue with that? The Senate capitulated within two days.
Who can argue with no bailout? Let the Senate Democrats decide: Support the bailout and lose the Senate. Or oppose the bailout and bury Obamacare.
Happy New Year.
"In disquisitions of every kind there are certain primary truths, or first principles, upon which all subsequent reasoning must depend." --Alexander Hamilton
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