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Posts Tagged ‘AFFORDABLE CARE ACT’

DEMOCRACY BECOMES A THUGOCRACY

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on April 7, 2014 at 12:07 am

And the most glorious exploits do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men; sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations, than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles whatsoever.

–Plutarch, Life of Alexander

In 1994, Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, shut down the Federal Government.

Officially, the reason was a budget impasse with President Bill Clinton.  Unofficially–and in reality–the reason was altogether different.

Clinton had forced him to sit in the back of Air Force One on a trip to Israel for the funeral of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabinl.

“This is petty,” Gingrich confessed to startled reporters. “I’m going to say up front it’s petty, But I think it’s human.

“When you land at Andrews [Air Force Base, in Washington, D.C.] and you’ve been on the plane for 25 hours and nobody has talked to you and they ask you to get off by the back ramp….

“You just wonder, where is their sense of manners, where is their sense of courtesy?”

Gingrich’s childish verbal tirade was a public relations disaster for the Republicans. “Cry Baby,” screamed the New York Daily News, next to a picture of Gingrich in a diaper.

When House Democrats brought a poster-sized image of the cartoon onto the floor, the Republican majority forced them to remove it.

But the damage was done, and Republicans paid a fearful price for the shutdown and Gingrich’s candor about the reason for it.

Fast forward 19 years later, and, once again, the public–and, most especially, federal employees–faced the hardships of another Republican-led government shutdown.

The official reason given by Republicans was: They wanted to save the country from the dangers of providing healthcare insurance to all Americans, not simply the wealthiest 1%.

To hear Republicans tell it, Obamacare–actually, the Affordable Care Act–would “destroy the medical system as we know it.”

The Act aims to:

  • Increase the quality and affordability of health insurance;
  • Lower the uninsured rate by expanding public and private insurance coverage;
  • Reduce the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government;
  • Forbid insurance companies the right to deny coverage for “pre-existing conditions”; and
  • Require employers with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance to their fulltime workers–or pay a large penalty.

Republicans also claimed that it would bankrupt the country–although the Congressional Budget Office stated that the ACA would lower future deficits and Medicare spending.

After passing the House and Senate, the ACA was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.

On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court–whose Chief Justice, John Roberts, is a Republican–upheld the constitutionality of the ACA,

Yet House Republicans continued searching for a way to stop the law from taking effect.  By September, 2013, they had voted 42 times to repeal “Obamacare.”

But their efforts achieved nothing, since the Democratic-led Senate refused to go along with such legislation.

Finally, unable to legally overturn the Act or to legislatively repeal it, House Republicans fell back on something much simpler.

Threats and fear.

Threats–of voting to shut down salaries paid to most Federal employees.

Most employees, because they themselves would continue to draw hefty salaries while they were denying them to FBI agents, air traffic controllers and members of the military, among others.

And fear–that would be generated throughout the Federal government, the United States and America’s international allies.

It was the my-way-or-else “negotiating” style of Adolf Hitler:  Do-as-I-say-or-I-will-destroy-you.

When Obama and Senate Democrats refused to knuckle under to yet another Republican extortion effort, House Republicans made good on their threat.

They shut down the government.

Republicans claimed that Obama and Senate Democrats were the ones who refused to see reason and negotiate.

By “negotiate,” they meant: Agree to Republican demands to de-fund “Obamacare.”

But then the unthinkable happened: A Republican gave away the real reason for the shutdown.

“We’re not going to be disrespected,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) told the Washington Examiner. “We have to get something out of this.  And I don’t know what that even is.”

Marlin Stutzman

With Newt Gingrich, the real reason for the government shutdown was his petty ego.

A subsidiary reason was to bully President Clinton into gutting Republican-despised Federal programs to help the poor and middle-class.

Nineteen years later, Republicans–as admitted by Martlin Stutzman–were out to get “respect.”

And they were out to get it the same way a thuggish gang leader gets it: By demanding: “Do what I say or I’ll kill you.”

At the end of World War II, Americans tried to cleanse West Germany of its former Nazi leaders and their supporters.

Such thuggishness will continue unless, somehow, Americans cleanse their own government of those who “negotiate” Nazi-Republican style.

CRIMINALS WILL ALWAYS BE CRIMINALS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on February 21, 2014 at 4:08 pm

State and local governments are trying to deny their part-time employees healthcare benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

These workers include prison guards, police dispatchers and substitute teachers.

President Barack Obama’s health-care reform law requires employers to provide insurance for part-time employees who work more than 30 hours per week.

Yet many government employers claim they can’t afford it–and plan to limit worker hours to 29 per week instead.  Among those states affected:

  • “Our choice was to cut the hours or give them health care, and we could not afford the latter,” Dennis Hanwell, the Republican mayor of Medina, Ohio, said in an interview with the New York Times.
  • Lawrence County, in western Pennsylvania, reduced the limit for part-time employees to 28 hours a week, from 32.
  • In Virginia, part-time state employees are generally not allowed to work more than 29 hours a week on average over a 12-month period.

President Obama and those who helped craft the Affordable Care Act may be surprised at what has happened.  But they shouldn’t be.

It was, in fact, entirely predictable.  Consider the following:

When William J. Casey wa a young attorney during the Great Depression, he learned an important lesson.

Jobs were hard to come by, so Casey thought himself lucky to land one at the Tax Research Institute of America in New York.

His task was to closely read New Deal legislation and write reports explaining it to corporate chieftains.

He quickly learned that businessmen neither understood nor welcomed Franklin D. Roosevelt’s efforts to reform American capitalism.

Businessmen didn’t want legal commentary.  Instead, they wanted to know: “What must we do to achieve minimum compliance with the law?”

In short: How do we get by FDR’s new programs?

Fifty years later, Casey would bring a similar mindset to his duties as director of the Central Intelligence Agency for President Ronald Reagan.

He was presiding over the CIA when it deliberately violated Congress’ ban on funding the “Contras,” the right-wing death squads of Nicaragua.

But the “Casey Doctrine” of minimum compliance didn’t die with Casey (who expired of a brain tumor in 1987).

It’s very much alive among the American business and political communities as President Obama seeks to give medical coverage to all Americans, and not simply the ultra-wealthy.

For part-time employees, who work fewer than 30 hours, a company isn’t penalized for failing to provide health insurance coverage.

Obama prides himself on being a tough-minded practitioner of “Chicago politics.”  So it’s easy to assume that he took the “Casey Doctrine” into account when he shepherded the ACA through Congress.

But he didn’t.

The result was predictable.  And its consequences are daily becoming more clear.

Employers feel motivated to move fulltime workers into part-time positions–and thus avoid

  • providing their employees with medical insurance and 
  • a fine for non-compliance with the law.

Some employers have openly shown their contempt for President Obama–and the idea that employers actually have an obligation to those who make their profits a reality.

One of these is John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, who has been quoted as saying:

  1. The prices of his pizzas will go up–by eleven to fourteen cents price increase per pizza, or fifteen to twenty cents per order; and
  2. He will pass along these costs to his customers.

“If Obamacare is in fact not repealed,” Schnatter told Politico, “we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders’ best interests.”

After all, why should a multi-million-dollar company show any concern for those who make its profits a reality?

Consider:

  • Papa John’s is the third-largest pizza takeout and delivery chain in the United States.
  • Its 2012 revenues were $318.6 million, an 8.5 percent increase from 2011 revenues of $293.5 million.
  • Its 2012 net income was $14.8 million, compared to its 2012 net income of $12.1 million.

Had Obama been the serious student of Realpolitick that he claims to be, he would have predicted that most businesses would seek to avoid compliance with his law.

To counter that, he need only have required all employers to provide insurance coverage for all of their employees—regardless of their fulltime or part-time status.

This, in turn, would have provided two substantial benefits:

  1. All employees would have been able to obtain medical coverage; and
  2. Employers would have been encouraged to provide fulltime positions rather than part-time ones, since they would feel: “Since I’m paying for fulltime insurance coverage, I should be getting fulltime work in return.”

The “Casey Doctrine” needs to be kept constantly in mind when reformers try to protect Americans from predatory employers.

MACHIAVELLI SAW IT COMING

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics on November 25, 2013 at 12:30 am

All the warning signs were there in The Prince for anyone to read.

Especially President Barack Obama.

And either he skipped those chapters or he ignored their timeless advice for political leaders.

The chapter he should have started with was 6: “Of New Dominions Which Have Been Acquired By One’s Own Arms and Ability.”

Niccolo Machiavelli

Early in his first term as President, Obama decided to reform the American healthcare system.  Before taking any such action, he should have carefully considered the following:

…There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. 

For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries, who have the laws in their favor, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.

Another chapter he should have consulted was 19: “That We Must Avoid Being Despised and Hated.”

For openers, Niccolo Machiavelli writes:

…The prince must…avoid those things which will make him hated or despised.  And whenever he succeeds in this, he will have done his part, and will find no danger in other vices….

He is rendered despicable by being thought changeable, frivolous, effeminate, timid and irresolute—which a prince must guard against as a rock of danger…. 

[He] must contrive that his actions show grandeur, spirit, gravity and fortitude.  As to the government of his subjects, let his sentence be irrevocable, and let him adhere to his decisions so that no one may think of deceiving or cozening him.

The prince who creates such an opinion of himself gets a great reputation, and it is very difficult to conspire against one who has a great reputation.  [He] will not be easily attacked, so long as it is known that he is capable and reverenced by his subjects.

Obama started off well.  Americans had high expectations of him.

This was partly due to his being the first black elected President.  And it was partly due to the legacies of needless war and financial catastrophe left by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama entered office intending to reform the American healthcare system, to make medical care available to all citizens, and not just the richest.

But that was not what the vast majority of Americans wanted him to concentrate his energies on. With the loss of 2.6 million jobs in 2008, Americans wanted Obama to find new ways to create jobs.

This was especially true for the 11.1 million unemployed, or those employed only part-time.

Jonathan Alter, who writes sympathetically about the President in The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies, candidly states this.

But Obama chose to spend most of his first two years as President pushing the Affordable Care Act (ACA)–which soon became known as Obamacare–through Congress.

The results were:

  • Those desperately seeking employment felt the President didn’t care about them.
  • The reform effort became a lightning rod for conservate groups like the Tea Party.
  • In 2010, a massive right-wing turnout cost the Democrats the House of Representatives, and threatened Democratic control of the Senate.

Yet even worse was to come for the President.

Throughout his campaign to win support for the ACA, Obama had repeatedly promised that, under it:  “If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep your plan. Period.  If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.  Period.”

But, hidden in the 906 pages of the law, was a fatal catch for the President’s own credibility.

The law stated that those who already had medical insurance could keep their plans–so long as those plans met the requirements of the new healthcare law.

If their plans didn’t meet those requirements, they would have to obtain coverage that did.

It soon turned out that a great many Americans wanted to keep their current plan–even if it did not provide the fullest possible coverage.

Suddenly, the President found himself facing a PR nightmare: Charged and ridiculed as a liar.

Even Jon Stewart, who on “The Daily Show” had supported the implementation of “Obamacare,” ran footage of Obama’s “you can keep your doctor” promise.

Jon Stewart

The implication: You said we could keep our plan/doctor; since we can’t, you must be a liar.

As a result, the President now finds his reputation for integrity–long his greatest asset–shattered.

According to a CBS poll released on November 20, only 37% of Americans approve of Obama’s job performance, down from 46% in late October.  CBS called that rating “the lowest of his presidency.”

All of which takes us to the final warning offered by Machiavelli:

Whence it may be seen that hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil….

NEGOTIATING WITH NAZIS AND REPUBLICANS

In History, Military, Politics on October 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm

On October 1, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said President Barack Obama told Congressional leaders at a White House meeting that “he will not negotiate.”

Boehner accused Democrats of being unwilling to negotiate key elements of the Affordable Care Act–in return for Republican agreement on a spending bill.

The Republicans were seeking–for now–a one-year delay in the rolling out of “Obamacare.”

Obama, in turn, said that he would not submit to Republican “extortion” and “blackmail.”

He said that the House should pass a “clean” spending bill–one without conditions–that met America’s obligations to its citizens and creditors.  Only then would be be willing to discuss possible changes in “Obamacare.”

Republicans countered with slogans such as: “If Obama will negotiate with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, why won’t he negotiate with Congress?”

Seventy-three years ago, another democratic leader found himself accused of being unreasonable and unwilling to negotiate.

That leader was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  And those accusing him were among the most powerful men in the Third Reich.

Winston Churchill

This was not a favorable time for Britain.

On September 1, 1939, Adolf Hitler had ordered his Whermacht (army) to invade Poland.  In six weeks, Polish resistance vanished and Poland became the first of a series of Nazi vassal-states.

Then, on May 10, 1940, after waiting out the winter, Hitler’s army quickly overran Norway and Denmark.

And then it was the turn of France.

In six weeks, the German army accomplished what it couldn’t during the four years of World War 1.  It  bypassed the heavily defended Maginot Line and destroyed one French army after another.

The defeated French were forced to sign the armistice in the same railway car they had used in 1918 when they forced Germany to surrender after World War 1.

Although the British had committed their air force and army to defending France, both had been easily swept aside by the Wehrmact and Luftwaffe (air force).

Driven almost literally into the sea, the British evacuated about 338,226 men from the port of Dunkirk.  It was a miracle made possible by Hitler’s unexplained halt of the German advance and the arrival of a fleet of civilian and naval vessels from England.

“The battle of France is over,” Churchill warned his countrymen.  “The battle of Britain is about to begin.”

But not before Hitler offered his own version of “peace with honor.”

On July 19, the Fuehrer addressed the Reichstag, Germany’s rubber-stamp parliament:

“From Britain I now hear only a single cry–not of the people but of the politicians–that the war must go on….

Hitler addressing the Reichstag

“Mr. Churchill ought, for once, to believe me when I prophesy that a great Empire will be destroyed–an Empire which it was never my intention to destroy or even to harm.

“In this hour I feel it to be my duty before my own conscience to appeal once more to reason and common sense in Great Britain as well as elsewhere.

“I consider myself in a position to make this appeal since I am not the vanquished begging favors but the victor speaking in the name of reason.

“I see no reason why this war must go on.”

The assembled parliamentary deputies and bemedaled generals were convinced the British would accept Hitler’s “generous” offer of peace.

They took it for granted that the British would be grateful for the opportunity  Hitler was giving them to get out of the war.

The Fuehrer, they believed, had been truly magnanimous.  How could the British be insane enough to turn him down?

Soon enough, they–and the Fuehrer–got their answer.

Correspondent William L. Shirer, waiting to make a broadcast at the CBS studio in Berlin, listened as the BBC introduced one of its own correspondents.

Sefton Delmner, fluent in German, had covered Nazi Germany for years.  Although not authorized to speak for the British Government, his response could have come directly from Churchill himself.

Sefton Delmer

“Herr Hitler,” said Delmer in his most deferential German, “you have on occasion in the past consulted me as to the mood of the British public.

“So permit me to render Your Excellency this little service once again tonight.

“Let me tell you what we here in Britain think of this appeal of yours to what you are pleased to call our reason and common sense.  Herr Fuehrer and Reichskanzler [Reich Chancellor] we hurl it right back to you, right in your evil-smelling teeth.”

German officials listening to the broadcast in Shirer’s office were stunned.

“Can you make it out?” one demanded of Shirer.  “Can you understand those British fools?  To turn down peace now?  They’re crazy!”

Although devastated by the forthcoming bombing raids of Hitler’s Luftwaffe, England held out.

Months later, it gained two powerful allies: The Soviet Union (invaded by Hitler on June 22, 1941) and the United States (attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941).

In the end, by standing up to Fascist aggression, England and its democracy were saved.

Americans can only hope the same proves true for their country.

DEMOCRACY BECOMES A THUGOCRACY

In Bureaucracy, History, Law on October 7, 2013 at 1:24 am

And the most glorious exploits do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men; sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations, than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles whatsoever.

–Plutarch, Life of Alexander

In 1994, Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, shut down the Federal Government.

Officially, the reason was a budget impasse with President Bill Clinton.  Unofficially–and in reality–the reason was altogether different:

Clinton had forced him to sit in the back of Air Force One on a trip to Israel for the funeral of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabinl.

“This is petty,” Gingrich confessed to startled reporters. “I’m going to say up front it’s petty, But I think it’s human.

“When you land at Andrews [Air Force Base, in Washington, D.C.] and you’ve been on the plane for 25 hours and nobody has talked to you and they ask you to get off by the back ramp . . . You just wonder, where is their sense of manners, where is their sense of courtesy?”

Gingrich’s childish verbal tirade was a public relations disaster for the Republicans. “Cry Baby,” screamed the New York Daily News, next to a picture of Gingrich in a diaper.

When House Democrats brought a poster-sized image of the cartoon onto the floor, the Republican majority forced them to remove it.

But the damage was done, and Republicans paid a fearful price for the shutdown and Gingrich’s candor about the reason for it.

Now, here we are, 19 years later, and, once again, the public–and, most especially, federal employees–are facing the hardships of another Republican-led government shutdown.

Once again, the official reason given by Republicans is: They want to save the country from the dangers of providing healthcare insurance to all Americans, not simply the wealthiest 1%.

To hear Republicans tell it, Obamacare–actually, the Affordable Care Act–will “destroy the medical system as we know it.”

The Act aims to:

  • Increase the quality and affordability of health insurance;
  • Lower the uninsured rate by expanding public and private insurance coverage;
  • Reduce the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government;
  • Forbid insurance companies the right to deny coverage for “pre-existing conditions”; and
  • Require employers with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance to their fulltime workers–or pay a large penalty.

Republicans also claim that it will bankrupt the country–although the Congressional Budget Office stated that the ACA will lower future deficits and Medicare spending.

After passing the House and Senate, the ACA was signed into law by President Baraco Obama on March 23, 2010.

On June 28, 202, the United States Supreme Court–whose Chief Justice, John Roberts, is a Republican–upheld the constitutionality of the ACA in the case,

Yet House Republicans continued searching for a way to stop the law from taking effect.  By September, 2013, they had voted 42 times to repeal “Obamacare.”

But their efforts achieved nothing, since the Democratic-led Senate made it clear it would never go along with such legislation.

Finally, unable to legally overturn the Act or to legislatively repeal it, the House Republicans fell back on something much simpler.

Threats and fear.

Threats–of voting to shut down salaries paid to most Federal employees.

Most, because they themselves would continue to draw hefty salaries while they were denying them to FBI agents, air traffic controllers and members of the military, among others.

And fear–that would be generated throughout the Federal government, the United States and America’s international allies.

It was the my-way-or-else “negotiating” style of Adolf Hitler:  Do-as-I-say-or-I-will-destroy-you.

When Obama and Senate Democrats refused to knuckle under to yet another Republican extortion effort, House Republicans made good on their threat.

They “shut down the government.”

Since then, Republicans have repeatedly claimed it is Obama and Senate Democrats who refuse to see reason and negotiate.  By “negotiate,” they mean agree to Republican demands to de-fund “Obamacare.”

But now a Republican has given away the real reason for the shutdown.

“We’re not going to be disrespected,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) told the Washington Examiner. “We have to get something out of this.  And I don’t know what that even is.”

Marlin Stutzman

With Newt Gingrich, the real reason for the government shutdown was his petty ego.

Of course, another major reason was his desire to bully President Clinton into gutting Republican-despised Federal programs to help the poor and middle-class.

Now, 19 years later, Republicans–as admitted by Martlin Stutzman–are out to get “respect.”

And they’re trying to get it the same way a thuggish gang leader tries to get it: By demanding: “Do what I say or I’ll kill you.”

At the end of World War II, Americans tried to cleanse West Germany of its former Nazi leaders and their supporters.

The thuggishness we are now witnessing will continue until, somehow, we cleanse our own government of those who “negotiate” Nazi-Republican style.

THE CASEY DOCTRINE

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law on August 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm

When William J. Casey was a young attorney during the Great Depression, he learned an important lesson.

Jobs were hard to come by, so Casey thought himself lucky to land one at the Tax Research Institute of America in New York.

His task was to closely read New Deal legislation and write reports explaining it to corporate chieftains.

He quickly learned that businessmen neither understood nor welcomed Franklin D. Roosevelt’s efforts to reform American capitalism.

Businessmen didn’t want legal commentary.  Instead, they wanted to know: “What must we do to achieve minimum compliance with the law?”

In short: How do we get by FDR’s new programs?

Fifty years later, Casey would bring a similar mindset to his duties as director of the Central Intelligence Agency for President Ronald Reagan.

He was presiding over the CIA when it deliberately violated Congress’ ban on funding the “Contras,” the right-wing death squads of Nicaragua.

But the “Casey Doctrine” of minimum compliance didn’t die with Casey (who expired of a brain tumor in 1987).

It’s very much alive among the American business community as President Barack Obama seeks to give medical coverage to all Americans, and not simply the ultra-wealthy.

The single most important provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)–better known as Obamacare–requires large businesses to provide insurance to full-time employees who work more than 30 hours a week.

For part-time employees, who work fewer than 30 hours, a company isn’t penalized for failing to provide health insurance coverage.

Obama prides himself on being a tough-minded practitioner of “Chicago politics.”  So it’s easy to assume that he took the “Casey Doctrine” into account when he shepherded the ACA through Congress.

But he didn’t.

The result was predictable.  And its consequences are daily becoming more clear.

Employers feel motivated to move fulltime workers into part-time positions–and thus avoid

  • providing their employees with medical insurance and 
  • a fine for non-compliance with the law.

 

 

 

 

 

Some employers have openly shown their contempt for President Obama–and the idea that employers actually have an obligation to those who make their profits a reality.

The White Castle hamburger chain is considering hiring only part-time workers in the future to escape its obligations under Obamacare.

No less than Jamie Richardson, its vice president, has admitted this in an interview.

“If we were to keep our health insurance program exactly like it is with no changes, every forecast we’ve looked at has indicated our costs will go up 24%.”

Richardson claimed the profit per employee in restaurants is only $750 per year.  So, as he sees it, giving health insurance to all employees over 30 hours isn’t feasible.

Nor is Richardson the only corporate executive determined to shirk his responsibility to his employees.

John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, has been quoted as saying:

  1. The prices of his pizzas will go up–by eleven to fourteen cents price increase per pizza, or fifteen to twenty cents per order; and
  2. He will pass along these costs to his customers.

“If Obamacare is in fact not repealed,” Schnatter told Politico, “we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders’ best interests.”

After all, why should a multi-million-dollar company show any concern for those who make its profits a reality?

Consider:

  • Papa John’s is the third-largest pizza takeout and delivery chain in the United States.
  • Its 2012 revenues were $318.6 million, an 8.5 percent increase from 2011 revenues of $293.5 million.
  • Its 2012 net income was $14.8 million, compared to its 2012 net income of $12.1 million.

In May, 2012, Schnatter hosted a fundraising event for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney at his own Louisville, Kentucky mansion.

“What a home this is,” gushed Romney.  “What grounds these are, the pool, the golf course.

“You know, if a Democrat were here he’d look around and say no one should live like this. Republicans come here and say everyone should live like this.”

Of course, Romney conveniently ignored a brutally ugly fact:

For the vast majority of Papa John’s minimum-wage-earning employees-–many of them working only part-time-–the odds of their owning a comparable estate are non-existent.

Had Obama been the serious student of Realpolitick that he claims to be, he would have predicted that most businesses would seek to avoid compliance with his law.

To counter that, he need only have required all employers to provide insurance coverage for all of their employees—regardless of their fulltime or part-time status.

This, in turn, would have provided two substantial benefits:

  1. All employees would have been able to obtain medical coverage; and
  2. Employers would have been encouraged to provide fulltime positions rather than part-time ones, since they would feel: “Since I’m paying for fulltime insurance coverage, I should be getting fulltime work in return.”

The “Casey Doctrine” needs to be kept constantly in mind when reformers try to protect Americans from predatory employers.

OBAMA FLUNKS, MACHIAVELLI REIGNS

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on July 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Barack Obama is one of the most highly educated men to occupy the White House.

In 1988, he entered Harvard Law School, graduating in 1991.  He was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review at the end of his first year, and president of the journal in his second year.

In 1991, he accepted a two-year position as Visiting Law and Government Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School to work on his first book, Dreams of My Father, published in 1995.

He then taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years—as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996, and as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004.

President Barack Obama

And yet, for all his experience as a scholar, there remains a truth about which he remains woefully ignorant.

It is a truth that Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political science, understood all too well.

In his pamphlet, The Prince, Machiavelli laid out the qualities that a successful ruler must possess.  There were some to be cultivated, and others to be avoided at all costs.  For example:

He is rendered despicable by being thought changeable, frivolous, effeminate, timid and irresolute—which a prince must guard against as a rock of danger…. 

[He] must contrive that his actions show grandeur, spirit, gravity and fortitude.  As to the government of his subjects, let his sentence be irrevocable, and let him adhere to his decisions so that no one may think of deceiving or cozening him.

Niccolo Machiavelli

So how has Obama fared by this standard?

Consider the July 2 press release from the Treasury Department on the signature achievement of his administration, the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare:

“Over the past several months, the Administration has been engaging in a dialogue with businesses – many of which already provide health coverage for their workers – about the new employer and insurer reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively….We have listened to your feedback.  And we are taking action.

“The Administration is announcing that it will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin.”

[Boldface in the original document.]

* * * * *

In short: The administration is delaying until 2015 the law’s requirement that medium and large companies provide coverage for their workers or face fines.

Now consider how Obama’s self-declared enemies reacted to this announcement.

Since 2011, right-wing Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted 37 times to repeal or defund all or parts of ObamaCare, most recently in May.

They can only be encouraged at this latest show of timidity on Obama’s part.

And thousands of employers bitterly resent having to provide medical coverage for the men and women whom they would prefer to own rather than pay at all.

This can only convince them to dig in their heels and evade or sabotage the law any way they can.

Susan Collins, the U.S. Senator from Maine, recently confessed as much:

“I’ve heard from countless employers…who say that the onerous penalties and provisions in ObamaCare provide perverse and powerful incentives to not hire new workers or to cut back on the hours that their employees are allowed to work.”

This comment points to a self-defeating part of the legislation:

The health care law requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide affordable insurance coverage to workers. For part-time employees, who work fewer than 30 hours, the company isn’t penalized for refusing to provide health insurance.

Thus, greed-fueled employers will move even more employees into part-time positions.  They can dodge the requirement to provide health insurance and avoid paying a fine.

Obama’s enemies have called him a practitioner of hard-knuckled Chicago-style politics.  But, in reality, he is precisely the sort of other-worldly political leader Machiavelli warned against:

Many have imagined republics and principalities which have never been seen or known to exist in reality. 

For how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather learn to bring about his own ruin rather than his preservation.

Long before he took the Presidential oath, Obama should have committed to memory this famous passage from Machiavelli:

From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved than feared, or feared more than loved. 

The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved….

I conclude, therefore, with regard to being loved and feared, that men love at their own free will, but fear at the will of the prince, and that a wise prince must rely on what is in his power and not on what is in the power of others….

A CEO’S TEARS

In Business, Law, Politics, Social commentary on July 1, 2013 at 12:01 am

Break out the handkerchiefs.  A CEO is about to cry.

When the Affordable Care Act takes full effect, Papa John’s Pizza will change in two ways.

First, it will be forced to do something it hasn’t done since its founding in 1984: Offer healthcare coverage to its 16,5000 employees or pay a penalty to the government.

Second, according to the company’s CEO, John Schnatter, the prices of his pizzas will go up.

 John Schnatter

How far up?

By as much as eleven to fourteen cents price increase per pizza, or fifteen to twenty cents per order.

But Schnatter isn’t going to take this lying down.  He’s determined to pass along those costs to his customers.

“If Obamacare is in fact not repealed,” Schnatter told Politico, “we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders’ best interests.”

After all, why should a multi-million-dollar company show any concern for those who make its profits a reality?

Consider:

  • Papa John’s is the third-largest pizza takeout and delivery chain in the United States.
  • Its 2012 revenues were $318.6 million, an 8.5 percent increase from 2011 revenues of $293.5 million.
  • Its 2012 net income was $14.8 million, compared to its 2012 net income of $12.1 million.

Click here: Papa John’s turns in strong domestic and international Q2 | PizzaMarketPlace.com

Nor should anyone expect Schnatter to take a pay cut, just so his employees can obtain medical care when they need it.

Schnatter’s total calculated compensation for 2011 came to $2,745,219.

Click here: John Schnatter: Executive Profile & Biography – Businessweek

“We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry,” Schnatter–a supporter of Mitt Romney–admitted in an interview with Politico.

To demonstrate his opposition to providing medical insurance for all Americans, Schnatter hosted a fundraising event for Mitt Romney at his own Louisville, Kentucky mansion in May.

The luxurious setting for the fundraiser gave Romney a rush of pure, plutocratic ecstasy.

“What a home this is,” gushed Romney.  “What grounds these are, the pool, the golf course.

“You know, if a Democrat were here he’d look around and say no one should live like this. Republicans come here and say everyone should live like this.”

John Schnatter’s estate

Of course, Romney conveniently ignored a brutally ugly fact:

For the vast majority of Papa John’s minimum-wage-earning employees–many of them working only part-time–the odds of their owning a comparable estate are non-existent.

John Schnatter is not the first pizza magnate to attack proposed changes to federal health care.

In 1993, Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain charged that President Bill Clinton’s proposed health care reform law would cost his company Godfather’s Pizza money and jobs.

“For many many businesses like mine, the cost of your plan is simply a cost that will cause us to eliminate jobs,” Cain told Clinton in a famous exchange.

In a typical demonstration of corporate thinking, Judy Nichols, a Papa John’s franchise owner in Beaumont, Texas, said:

“I have two options, I can stop offering coverage and pay the $2,000 fine, or I could keep my number of staff under 50 so the mandate doesn’t apply,” she told Legal Newsline.

In short: Defy the law, and employee healthcare needs be damned.

Nichols added that the the law might cost her $20,000 to $30,000 in taxes: “Obamacare is making me think about cutting jobs instead,” she said.

Translation: If you force me to behave responsibly, I’ll just have to take it out on willing-to-work Americans.

So how can America cope with behavior that destroys not only lives but the economy as well?

By passing–and vigorously enforcing–a nationwide Employers Responsibility Act.

Among its provisions:

Employers would be required to provide full medical and pension benefits for all employees, regardless of their full-time or part-time status.

Increasingly, employers are replacing full-time workers with part-time ones—solely to avoid paying medical and pension benefits.  Requiring employers to act humanely and responsibly toward all their employees would encourage them to provide full-time positions—and hasten the death of this greed-based practice.

The seeking of “economic incentives” by companies in return for moving to or remaining in cities/states would be strictly forbidden.

Such “economic incentives” usually:

  1. allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting employees from unsafe working conditions;
  2. allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting the environment;
  3. allow employers to pay their employees the lowest acceptable wages, in return for the “privilege” of working at these companies; and/or
  4. allow employers to pay little or no business taxes, at the expense of communities who are required to make up for lost tax revenues.

Employers who continue to make such overtures would be prosecuted for attempted bribery or extortion:

  1. Bribery, if they offered to move to a city/state in return for “economic incentives,” or
  2. Extortion, if they threatened to move their companies from a city/state if they did not receive such “economic incentives.”

This would

  • protect employees against artificially-depressed wages and unsafe working conditions;
  • protect the environment in which these employees live; and
  • protect cities/states from being pitted against one another at the expense of their economic prosperity.

CEO GREED VS. EMPLOYEES NEED

In Business, Politics, Social commentary on December 12, 2012 at 2:28 am

When the Affordable Care Act takes full effect, Papa John’s Pizza will change in two ways.

First, it will be forced to do something it hasn’t done since its founding in 1984: Offer healthcare coverage to its 16,5000 employees or pay a penalty to the government.

Second, according to the company’s CEO, John Schnatter, the prices of his pizzas will go up.

John Schnatter

How far up?

By as much as eleven to fourteen cents price increase per pizza, or fifteen to twenty cents per order.

But Schnatter isn’t going to take this lying down.  He’s determined to pass along those costs to his customers.

“If Obamacare is in fact not repealed,” Schnatter told Politico, “we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders’ best interests.”

After all, why should a multi-million-dollar company show any concern for those who make its profits a reality?

Consider:

  • Papa John’s is the third-largest pizza takeout and delivery chain in the United States.
  • Its 2012 revenues were $318.6 million, an 8.5 percent increase from 2011 revenues of $293.5 million.
  • Its 2012 net income was $14.8 million, compared to its 2012 net income of $12.1 million.

Click here: Papa John’s turns in strong domestic and international Q2 | PizzaMarketPlace.com

Nor should anyone expect Schnatter to take a pay cut, just so his employees can obtain medical care when they need it.

Schnatter’s total calculated compensation for 2011 came to $2,745,219.

Click here: John Schnatter: Executive Profile & Biography – Businessweek

“We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry,” Schnatter–a supporter of Mitt Romney–admitted in an interview with Politico.

To demonstrate his opposition to providing medical insurance for all Americans, Schnatter hosted a fundraising event for Mitt Romney at his own Louisville, Kentucky mansion in May.

The luxurious setting for the fundraiser gave Romney a rush of pure, plutocratic ecstasy.

“What a home this is,” gushed Romney.  “What grounds these are, the pool, the golf course.

“You know, if a Democrat were here he’d look around and say no one should live like this. Republicans come here and say everyone should live like this.”

John Schnatter’s estate

Of course, Romney conveniently ignored a brutally ugly fact:

For the vast majority of Papa John’s minimum-wage-earning employees–many of them working only part-time–the odds of their owning a comparable estate are non-existent.

In a typical demonstration of corporate thinking, Judy Nichols, a Papa John’s franchise owner in Beaumont, Texas, said:

“I have two options, I can stop offering coverage and pay the $2,000 fine, or I could keep my number of staff under 50 so the mandate doesn’t apply,” she told Legal Newsline.

In short: Defy the law, and employee helathcare needs be damned.

In fact, that’s exactly what Schnatter recently announced he will do: Reduce his workers’ hours–since Obamacare mandates that only employees working more than 30 hours per week are covered under their employers’ health insurance plan.

Nichols claimed that the the law might cost her $20,000 to $30,000 in taxes: “Obamacare is making me think about cutting jobs instead,” she said.

Translation: If you force me to behave responsibly, I’ll just have to take it out on millions of willing-to-work Americans.

So how can America cope with behavior that destroys not only lives but the economy as well?

By passing–and vigorously enforcing–a nationwide Employers Responsibility Act.

Among its provisions:

Employers would be required to provide full medical and pension benefits for all employees, regardless of their full-time or part-time status.

Increasingly, employers are replacing full-time workers with part-time ones—solely to avoid paying medical and pension benefits.  Requiring employers to act humanely and responsibly toward all their employees would encourage them to provide full-time positions—and hasten the death of this greed-based practice.

The seeking of “economic incentives” by companies in return for moving to or remaining in cities/states would be strictly forbidden.

Such “economic incentives” usually:

  1. allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting employees from unsafe working conditions;
  2. allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting the environment;
  3. allow employers to pay their employees the lowest acceptable wages, in return for the “privilege” of working at these companies; and/or
  4. allow employers to pay little or no business taxes, at the expense of communities who are required to make up for lost tax revenues.

Employers who continue to make such overtures would be prosecuted for attempted bribery or extortion:

  1. Bribery, if they offered to move to a city/state in return for “economic incentives,” or
  2. Extortion, if they threatened to move their companies from a city/state if they did not receive such “economic incentives.”

This would

  • protect employees against artificially-depressed wages and unsafe working conditions;
  • protect the environment in which these employees live; and
  • protect cities/states from being pitted against one another at the expense of their economic prosperity.

SLAVERY IS GOOD, BIRTH CONTROL AND EVOLUTION ARE BAD

In History, Politics, Social commentary on October 24, 2012 at 12:00 am

If you

  • hate slavery
  • favor access to birth control and
  • accept evolution and the “Big Bang” theory

then you might have second-thoughts about joining the Republican Party.

Consider the following:

ON SLAVERY:

Jon Hubbard, a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, says in a new book that slavery was “a blessing” for African-Americans.

In Letters to the Editor: Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative, Hubbard writes:

“The institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.”

No doubt that must now give huge comfort to all those generations of blacks who endured 300 years of bondage, usually under the most brutal conditions.

Oh, I forgot.  All those millions of former slaves are now dead.

No doubt Hubbard forgot, too, when he wrote that.

ON BIRTH CONTROL:

On August 1, Congressman Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) compared the requirement that private insurance plans provide contraception coverage to two of the most devastating attacks on American soil.

“I know in your mind, you can think of the times America was attacked,” he said at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

“One is Dec. 7, that’s Pearl Harbor Day. The other is Sept. 11, and that’s the day the terrorists attacked. I want you to remember Aug. 1, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.”

August 1 marked the first day private insurers must include birth control coverage in their plans without charging a co-pay, as required by the Affordable Care Act.

Thus, the right of even poor women to obtain affordable contraceptive coverage is now on a moral par with sneak attacks that massacred thousands of innocent men and women.

ON EVOLUTION AND THE BIG BANG THEORY:

On September 27, Congressman Paul Broun (R-Ga.) gave a speech at the 2012 Sportsman’s Banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell, Georgia.

In this, he said that evolution and the big bang theory were “lies straight from the pit of Hell.”

“God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.

“It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

Broun, who is actually earned a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1971 from the Medical College of Georgia, continued:

“You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the earth’s but about 9,000 years old.

“I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.”

Referring to the Bible as “the manufacturer’s handbook,” he said:

“It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society.

To add unintentional humor to the situation, Broun is a high-ranking member of the House Science Committee.

Thus, a man who

  • rejects science
  • embraces primitive-era theology as a substitute for rational thinking and
  • believes in devils and a savior as actual beings and Hell as an actual place

now commands power to shape scientific inquiry for the United States Government.

Americans quickly condemn and ridicule tyrants like Adolf Hitler and religious fanatics such as Osama bin Laden as psychopathic oddities–whose like could never appear in the United States.

In fact, American history is littered with political tyrants and religious fanatics.

It’s long past time for Americans to study that history–with its would-be tyrants like Richard Nixon, Huey Long, Joseph McCarthy, Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney.

And its religious fanatics like Charles Coughlin, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Donald Wildmon.

And it’s long past time for Americans–who pride themselves on being a deeply religious people–to remember that warning from Jesus in Matthew 7:5:

“You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

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