The ObamaCare Train Wreck

Thoughts from Richard Epstein.

Even its supporters are having trouble excusing it. Read this from Ezra Klein.

Hey, it’s not like this wasn’t perfectly predictable, and predicted.

[Update a while later]

Was the site crash caused by rate shock?

[Update a few minutes later]

Wow, even the New York Times is becoming racist:

“These are not glitches,” said an insurance executive who has participated in many conference calls on the federal exchange. Like many people interviewed for this article, the executive spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying he did not wish to alienate the federal officials with whom he works. “The extent of the problems is pretty enormous. At the end of our calls, people say, ‘It’s awful, just awful.’ ”

Interviews with two dozen contractors, current and former government officials, insurance executives and consumer advocates, as well as an examination of confidential administration documents, point to a series of missteps — financial, technical and managerial — that led to the troubles.

It’s almost like these people think politics is more important than actually competently running the government.

Laughing At Candy Crowley

More people should laugh at the partisan clowns at CNN:

PAUL: (Laughs) No. I’ve always been a Republican, and I’m one of those people who actually is a real lover of the history of the Republican Party from the days of abolition to the days of civil rights. The Republican Party has a really rich history. In our state, I’m really proud of the fact that the ones who overturned Jim Crow in Kentucky were Republicans fighting against an entirely unified Democratic Party, so I am proud to be Republican. I can’t imagine being anything else.

What an idiot she is. Why would he want to become a member of the true racist party?

The Perverse Incentives Of ObamaCare

Yes, by all means, you should earn less money:

This, right here, is the toxic essence of the welfare state. It’s already been proven over and over that for the lower classes, welfare incentivizes permanent dependence: Since one gets more money receiving a raft of federal entitlements than one would get earning a salary at a low-level job, it’s a rational economic decision to remain unemployed, on purpose. Which millions of Americans do, generation after generation, creating a permanent underclass that only consumes the common treasury without ever contributing anything to it.

What Obamacare does, as demonstrated by this eye-opening article, is bring the same economic disincentive to the middle class: It is now a rational economic decision for the average American to earn less money. And to earn less you must work less, and when you work less, you contribute less to the common good.

With people intentionally contributing less to the common good, there will be less federal money available to finance the subsidies (which are fiscally unaffordable even without this problem), leading to an unavoidable downward economic spiral for the entire nation.

That’s OK. Remember, the president told us that, at some point, you’ve earned enough money. He’s just lowering that point.

The Expensive ObamaCare Web Site

There is no good excuse for it:

From the evidence, it’s clear that the Obamacare exchange servers saw errors of all different kinds. They weren’t prepared for the load, even though this was never very heavy. California reported about 600,000 unique visitors, and Colorado reported about 55,000 unique visitors.

There were screen captures of database errors, not because the data was bad, but because the structure that holds the data was misdesigned.

There were 404 errors, which are totally design errors, meaning that the web sever was trying to get to a page that didn’t exist. (This led to the best hashtag of the day, #404care.)

There were non-descript server errors like the one I got from the California server.

There were user-interface errors. At about 10:00 AM, Colorado suspended new accounts on its site (it’s one of the ones using its own site, not the main exchange site), and didn’t get around to allowing new accounts again until 3:00 PM. At that point, the “New Account” button sent you to the login page for existing accounts. If you chose to enter your childhood phone number for a secret question, it wouldn’t take it, no matter what format (certainly not the format it used when asking for your current phone number).

This is why I say it was clear that this wasn’t just one of those things. The volume of inquiries wasn’t high by large-system standards, and the rest of the errors were in the control of the programmers.

These were design and execution errors, pure and simple. They were all catchable, with proper beta and load testing.

Yup.

The Paleo Diet

Is it a fad? An interesting interview by Ben Domenech:

…the existing food movement that sprang up around organic food was largely driven by, particularly in the early years, the vegetarian world and the plant-based diet world, with a good bit of progressive ideology. And so that is alienating to a lot of people who might want to be healthier, who do care about where their food comes from. We saw the same thing happen in the environmental movement. You’ve got scores of hunters who care deeply about conservation and practice it in their own lives, and but due to differences in culture hunters have largely been excluded from the environmental movement.

I think there was a latent demand for an alternative approach to healthy eating and healthy living that wasn’t, that didn’t require you to buy in to all this other ideology. Because basically until paleo, until this general evolutionary approach came along, the only options were, you can be a sort of like a hippie vegan progressive, or you can eat tons of McDonalds and become obese and proudly tout that you don’t care where your food comes from, or you can go on some fad diet. And those aren’t actually very good options for a lot of people.

So, first I just think there was latent demand for it. And then there there’s definitely something to the fact that paleo doesn’t look down on eating meat and that definitely appeals to a slightly more masculine group of folks. The latest surveys have shown that paleo is actually split about 50/50 between men and women, but that’s far more men relative to all other dietary movements, which tend to be 70, 80% women. So, people will say it’s all macho, all these men are into it. It’s actually about 50/50, but it just feels a little bit more masculine relative to everything else.

It really has taken off more among libertarians than the general population, I think.

Damning ObamaCare With Faint Praise

Even its supporters are struggling:

Wing and Young have set up quite a straw man, taking ObamaCare opponents’ most exaggerated fears and exaggerating them even further.

They set up a straw man on the other side of the debate as well. The article opens with the “concession” that “the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect. . . . Like most laws, Obamacare never will be perfect.” (That “most” is a nice touch. One wonders if they have an example in mind of a law that is perfect.) But we don’t recall anyone promising that ObamaCare would be perfect. What Obama and his backers promised was that it would be very, very good–that it would provide “universal” (or nearly so) coverage while reducing costs and maintaining or improving the quality of medical care.

Now, however, Wing and Young dramatically scale back that promise, describing ObamaCare as an “ambitious reform effort meant to make a dent in the nearly 50 million Americans who currently lack health insurance.” Again, that’s a contradiction in terms: It was in fact “ambitious,” but it would not have been so if it meant only to “make a dent.”

This is all by way of setting a very low standard for evaluating ObamaCare, one that will ensure it will be judged a “success” as long as it doesn’t destroy America. But the meat of the article is actually an indictment of ObamaCare, at least if one applies a reasonable standard of asking whether on balance it is a good piece of legislation.

It’s not. It’s an awful piece of legislation, perhaps the worst in history. At least recent history. Which is no surprise, when you consider the manner in which it was passed.

Thoughts Of Old Blighty

I agree with Lileks:

As I’ve noted before – this week, I think – the middle portion of Holst’s “Jupiter” has always hit me as the most English Thing Ever – uncomplicated at its heart, outwardly stern, stoic in its cultural patriotism, sweeping up everyone in a broad assertion of national identity that prides itself for the treble virtues of tradition, decency, and resolution. Doesn’t mean that’s the case, of course; music seduces. There’s a reason the Sirens sang instead of sending sailors well-written notes. One of the most moving national anthems I’ve ever heard is for Oceania, from “1984.”

But.

Holst captured something at its peak and its prime, a moment of leonine gravity as true as it was idealized. I’ve waited decades to go there and stand at the place where I start to hum it to myself. Wonder where that’ll be.

Anyway. My daughter has been to a dozen countries because I want her to get the flavor for the Marvelous Elsewhere early on, and also experience the joys of seeing home through new eyes when you return. We have the occasional dinnertime conversation about why America is different, and why America is good, arguments to counter the schoolmates who say the world would be better off if there wasn’t an America. (You can imagine the usual reasons.)

I hope the lessons take.

Sadly, too few want to teach them. And that is also my favorite movement from The Planets. When I was a kid, all I knew it as was the theme to the evening news (Huntley and Brinkley, I think, on NBC), but just the opening of it. Hmmmm…[googling] Yup. I never heard the whole thing until I bought an album of the entire suite, and I loved the middle section.

[Update a few minutes later]

Amazing. I still tear up when I listen to that passage. Just beautiful. You can hear where John Williams got a lot of his influence for the movie scores.

[Afternoon update]

OK, there seems to be some dispute about the Huntley-Brinkley theme, and it does seem to be Beethoven. OK, so which news show from the sixties used the Holst?

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!