tuesday morning group

When You Need Help, There's Always (Clarke Hogan's) Mom

Of all places and of all people. ... Today at the monthly Tuesday Morning Group meeting a polite older woman approached me about helping out on a bill I mentioned in a short presentation. She asked, "Could Clarke Hogan help?" Hogan is a former member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and House budget conferee who did not seek re-election last year. So I replied that the thought was hypothetical since he's no longer a delegate. She replied:

But I'm his mom. Maybe he can call someone.

Ohhhhhhh kay! Boy could he. So, yes, mom, let him call away! It's not like Mary asking Jesus for a favor at Canaan, but it might help.

I gave her the bill number and the pertinent information. Man, it's great when moms show up at grassroots activist meetings.

Quote Of The Day: From Today And Years Ago

Session hasn't started yet and already we have a Quote of the Day. However, it comes as no surprise as today is the second Tuesday of the month which means it's Tuesday Morning Group Coalition meeting day. TMG President and dear friend John Taylor supplies it, and it wins not only for its self-deprecating humor, but because it mentions . . . us! At downtown Richmond's Bull & Bear Club, high atop the James Center in the capital's financial district, Taylor, whose sense of humor is matched only by his assured and ready opinions on constitutional government (see his Tea Party speech), recounted a story relevant to a recent cabinet appointment by Governor-elect Bob McDonnell. But first, the punchline:

Years ago the Family Foundation sponsored a conference on education. ... They asked me to moderate a panel — mainly because they didn't want me to speak!

Now, about that story: On the panel that Taylor moderated was none other than Senator Henry Marsh (D-16, Richmond), one of the General Assembly's most obstinate liberal reform obstructionists on education as well as other issues. Marsh, who is black, outrageously said that after all the hardships to desegregate public schools, the school choice and charter school movement was the effort to re-segregate public schools. After he finished his demagoguery, a young black man on the panel, of whom Taylor was not familiar, stood up and said, (from Tertium Quids):

Where once George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway to keep black kids out, some politicians (like Marsh) were now standing in the doorway to keep them from leaving.

Marsh left the meeting very soon afterwards.

That young man was Gerard Robinson, nominated yesterday by Governor-elect McDonnell to be Secretary of Education (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot). Come to think of it, even though it was years ago, Secretary Robinson's remark to Senator Marsh, makes a dynamite QOD. Sorry, John.

It's Switzerland, Stupid

In the debate over health care "reform," liberals point to models in England, Canada and other socialist countries as systems we should emulate, despite their abject failures and rationing. The next time a liberal tells you the Euros do it better, agree. Then add, "if you mean Switzerland." Switzerland?

Yes. It just so happens Switzerland has, perhaps, the best consumer driven approach to the health care marketplace. There are spots of consumer driven health care percolating here, such as "doc-in-box" services and clinics at chains such as Wal-Mart and CVS, which drive down prices for non-emergency care. But Switzerland is where it's at, according to Regina Herzlinger, the Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard, no less, and author of Who Killed Health Care? (and this Washington Post piece).

She was the featured speaker today at the Tuesday Morning Group monthly meeting in Richmond. Here's how it works there, in a nutshell:

There is a government mandate: All citizens must buy health care coverage, because neither the government nor employers provide any! The result is massive competition and more than 80 insurance companies in that small nation. (What is the U.S. down to? Six, not including the government?) Even nuns in the mountains have formed insurance companies.

The policies have high deductibles so people are not tempted to use their insurance when you have an earache. People are forced to more cost effectively spend on their health care. This creates competition for services, just like any other trade, such as computers, phones, restaurants or clothes: Health care providers line up to provide the best service possible, or a niche service that's needed, at the best cost possible to win customers. Because customers pay out of their own pocket, there's no haggling by insurance companies and government to determine a price in which doctors must settle for their service. Instead, doctors set their own prices and if patients don't like it, they go to someone else. Insurance is used for what it is really intended — serious illness or injury.

The result is health care costs are 5 percent lower in Switzerland than here and takes up only 11 percent of GDP, while it accounts for 17 percent here. Not only that, insurance companies rebate you half your money if you stay healthy. They also create reinsurance pools among themselves to minimize risk.

But if the Obama administration doesn't want to look to the one European country that does it right — better, in fact than we do it now — maybe he'll stop apologizing for America long enough to look to a country we supposedly had to apologize to. Dr. Herzlinger pointed to an experiment in South Africa, of all places, where an insurance company paid clients to stay healthy. It motivated them to eat right, live a better lifestyle and exercise. The result is that the percentage of certain illnesses are lower in the RSA than in the USA.

One last observation by Dr. Herzlinger: If you think outsourcing of certain jobs is bad now, wait until socialized medicine is approved by Congress and the Obama administration. She predicts jobs and services will get exported to India, Singapore, Brazil, Costa Rica and Argentina.

The Feds Only Regulate Big Business, Right?

Wrong. Way wrong. According to Andrew Langer, president of the Institute for Liberty, who spoke today at the Tuesday Morning Group, the federal government's regulatory burden on small business equals $7,700 per employee. For a small, family-owned company, with 10 employees, that's a $770,000 annual gorilla on its back. This is small business, the engine that creates about two-thirds of all American jobs. That figure doesn't include state and local regulations, either. Get the picture as to why we need smaller government?

The irony is that many big businesses don't mind regulation. It locks in many advantages it has over competitors. That's why Philip Morris lobbied for the recent bill that empowers the FDA to regulate tobacco (see New York Times). Large companies have the wherewithal, lawyers, accountants and savvy to maneuver around and take advantage of the avenues and loopholes the regs provide.

But you poor small business owner saps . . . good luck. More is on the way (see Entrepreneur's Daily Dose blog).

One Minute Economics Lesson

A delightfully insightful and quick explanation of the wonders and efficiencies of what was once known as capitalism in this county by one of our favorites, Don Boudreaux, chairman of the Economics Department atGeorge Mason University, courtesy a heads up from the Tuesday Morning Group's John Taylor:

Editor, Washington Post

Dear Editor:

Supporting Pres. Obama's efforts to "redistribute" incomes, E.J. Dionne quotes an administration official: "'Over the past two or three decades, the top 1 percent of Americans have experienced a dramatic increase from 10 percent to more than 20 percent in the share of national income that's accruing to them,' said Peter Orszag, Obama's budget director. Now, he said, was their time 'to pitch in a bit more'" ("The Re-Redistributor," March 2).

This "Progressive" mindset poisons sound thinking.

First, in market economies incomes aren't "distributed"; they're produced and earned. Second, persons whose earnings rise disproportionately more than those of other persons generally achieve this outcome by increasing their production disproportionately more than other persons increase theirs; the fact that someone's income rises means that he or she already is pitching in more. Third, the share of federal individual income-tax revenues paid by America's top one-percent of income earners has recently been on the rise. In 2006 (the latest year for which data are available) this tiny group of Americans paid a whopping — and all-time high — 39.9 percent of such taxes.

Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux Chairman, Department of Economics George Mason University Fairfax, VA 22030

Quote Of The Day

Session hasn't even started yet and there was a calendar's worth of QODs at the monthly Tuesday Morning Group meeting alone! Perhaps the best one:

John Taylor, the sharp and never-afraid-to-say-what's-on-his-mind president of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, Tertium Quids and leader of the Tuesday Morning Group Coalition:

"People come to me all the time who want to run for office. But they're not active . . . they don't attend Tuesday Morning Group meetings."

Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax):

"That's the kiss of death!"

Social Issues In The Age Of Obama

Last Month, Chris Freund, vice president of policy and communications for The Family Foundation of Virginia, addressed the Tuesday Morning Group Coalition's monthly meeting in Richmond. He was part of a panel which discussed everything from the environment to economics. It's not a pretty picture. Scary, actually: card check, FOCA, partial-birth abortion on demand, liberal judges, God out of the public square entirely, "fairness doctrine," high taxes, cap and trade us into rationing energy, no drilling nowhere. You get the idea. So, while the media is sucking everyone into the new Era of Good Feeling ushered in by the "messiah," a little dose of reality (to find the entire panel and the topics discussed, click here):

Congrats Tertium Quids

We like to think this lil' ol' Internet-age broadsheet of ours has made a lot of progress in about eight-and-a-half months. It has. But nothing like the even younger Tertium Quids blog. We admit we're partial to Norman Leahy's prose and the general way of thinking there and at its sister organization, The Virginia Institute for Public Policy, but there's no denying the run they're on. A couple weeks ago they started podcasts with great interviews with newsmakers such as Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), Attorney General Bob McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and new Republican Party of Virginia Chairman, Delegate Jeff Frederick (R-52, Woodbridge).

Then, yesterday, at the monthly Tuesday Morning Group meeting, sponsored by VIPP, TQ blog maestro Leahy announced plans for a weekly Web-streamed radio show, featuring guests and caller questions. News to follow here as it gets closer to launch. We've always looked forward to reading TQ's point-of-view. Now we're equally excited about hearing it.