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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Road Apples, #122

Mittens vs Santorum...apparently both are neck-n-neck for the GOP nomination in Pennsylvania.  Rather astounding actually.  As of about 9am this morning, I think that Rick Santorum has offended everyone other than white males between the ages of 42-60 who are devoted and practicing Catholics.  Maybe.

Steve Ballmer...Is it just me or does Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer look like Gru from Despicable Me?  Judge for yourself:

Still not the best celebrity look-alike I've seen lately; that would go to the Guy Smiley/Mittens comparison.

Scranton City Councilman Jack Loscombe...A story in today's paper (I'd link to it, but the Scranton Times has this pay-per-view deal that I don't care to support) documented the lawsuit by Scranton City Council member Jack Loscombe.  In his suit, Mr Loscombe seeks to have his pension reinstated while serving as a member of council.  By way of background, there is a law in Scranton, dating back to the 60's, that states if a retired firefighter serves on city council his pension is suspended for the term of his service.  The argument by Mr Loscombe is that he has a "right" to the pension.  The argument by the city is that, well, there is a law against "double dipping".  As for me, I think there are two central issues:

  • Mr Loscombe's claim that his pension is some kind of sacred "right" is silly at best, as there is no "right" to a municipal pension.  Mr Loscombe's pension is a benefit of having served the city, but the "right" is far from absolute, as there are numerous instances where a pension can either be attached (by the IRS or a court) or cancelled all together (in the case of a felony conviction).  
  • The city's law against double-dipping seems like a solution in search of a problem.  What's the harm if Mr Loscombe receives his council pay and his firefighter pension?  The pay comes from a different pot of money than the pension payment.
The bigger issue I have with Mr Loscombe is that I view him as having an automatic conflict of interest when dealing with firefighter contract negotiations.  In those situations, who does Mr Loscombe serve?  The taxpayers or the members of the firefighter union?  Typical Scranton.

Supreme Count & "Obamacare"...Just for giggles, you may be interested to know that the very concept of the healthcare mandate came from the Heritage Foundation.  Interesting citation...

"The concept of the individual health insurance mandate is considered to have originated in 1989 at the conservative Heritage Foundation. In 1993, Republicans twice introduced health care bills that contained an individual health insurance mandate. Advocates for those bills included prominent Republicans who today oppose the mandate including Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Robert Bennett (R-UT), and Christopher Bond (R-MO). In 2007, Democrats and Republicans introduced a bi-partisan bill containing the mandate."

Citation here.  If the Supreme Court strikes down "Obamacare" then so be it...but scoring political points on the part of the GOP will not solve the very real problem with endless double-digit healthcare cost increases in  this country.  Oh, and let's shoot down the talking point of "harnessing the power of the free market to solve the nation's healthcare problems"; such a notion is a ridiculous best.  When was the last time you heard of someone suffering from a heart attack "shopping" for the best price for medical care?  You can't buy a pacemaker on eBay either.  The free market simply doesn't function well when the profit motive conflicts with larger societal needs, which also explains why we don't have a for-profit military, police corporations protecting the population and Haliburton running your local fire department.

Yes, I'm very much open to other solutions to the nation's very real healthcare problems, but those solutions need to be more than just political soundbytes.

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