Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dear Justice Alito

I sure hope that fifty million people won't continue to go without health insurance and many of them die prematurely or have to declare bankruptcy because you didn't understand the basic principle of insurance.

JUSTICE ALITO: But isn't that really a
2 small part of what the mandate is doing? You can
3 correct me if these figures are wrong, but it appears to
4 me that the CBO has estimated that the average premium
5 for a single insurance policy in the non-group market
6 would be roughly $5,800 in -- in 2016.
7 Respondents -- the economists who have
8 supported the Respondents estimate that a young, healthy
9 individual targeted by the mandate on average consumes
10 about $854 in health services each year. So the mandate
11 is forcing these people to provide a huge subsidy to the
12 insurance companies for other purposes that the Act
13 wishes to serve, but isn't -- if those figures are
14 right, isn't it the case that what this mandate is
15 really doing is not requiring the people who are subject
16 to it to pay for the services that they are going to
17 consume? It is requiring them to subsidize services
18 that will be received by somebody else.
19 GENERAL VERRILLI: No, I think that -- I do
20 think that's what the Respondents argue. It's just not
21 right. I think it -- it really gets to a fundamental
22 problem with their argument.
23 JUSTICE GINSBURG: If you're going to have
24 insurance, that's how insurance works.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Citizens Untied

One of the concerns about the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling is that big money will monopolize the public dialog. After all, if money is speech, then those who have more money have more speech. Which in turn means that speech isn't really free, after all.

That aside, the presumed outcome would be that establishment candidates will steamroll over anyone independent enough to not have unlimited resources behind them. Which conventionally gives the advantage to Republicans, since they're the party of the rich.

But it turns out that you don't have to be part of the Establishment to be rich. This year's Republican primary isn't really Mitt Romney against Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul - it's really Mitt Romney against Foster Freiss and Sheldon Adelman, in which a couple of rich, independent fanatics can bankroll the process of pulling the Republican Party to pieces along its fault lines of libertarian freedoms, religious moralism, nationalist xenophobia, and commercial pragmatism. Instead of locking in a sustainable Republican advantage, "Citizens United" may end up being its Achilles Heel.

Stand Your Ground

If Florida's "stand your ground" law had worked as intended, Trayvon Martin would have shot George Zimmerman.