Monday, July 30, 2018

Study: ‘Medicare for all’ projected to cost $32.6 trillion over ten years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan would increase government health care spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years, according to a study by a university-based libertarian policy center.

That’s trillion with a “T.”

The latest plan from the Vermont independent would require historic tax increases as government replaces what employers and consumers now pay for health care, according to the analysis being released Monday by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia. It would deliver significant savings on administration and drug costs, but increased demand for care would drive up spending, the analysis found.

Sanders’ plan builds on Medicare, the popular insurance program for seniors. All U.S. residents would be covered with no copays and deductibles for medical services. The insurance industry would be relegated to a minor role.

“Enacting something like ‘Medicare for all’ would be a transformative change in the size of the federal government,” said Charles Blahous, the study’s author. Blahous was a senior economic adviser to former President George W. Bush and a public trustee of Social Security and Medicare during the Obama administration.

Responding to the study, Sanders took aim at the Mercatus Center, which receives funding from the conservative Koch brothers. Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch is on the center’s board.

“If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all, and achieve better health outcomes, while spending substantially less per capita than we do, it is absurd for anyone to suggest that the United States cannot do the same,” Sanders said in a statement. “This grossly misleading and biased report is the Koch brothers response to the growing support in our country for a ‘Medicare for all’ program.”

Sanders’ office has not done a cost analysis, a spokesman said. However, the Mercatus estimates are within the range of other cost projections for Sanders’ 2016 plan.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Oath and Consecration of the Newly Elected Bishop Methodius

The solemn affirmation of the Orthodox Faith by a newly elected bishop. I don't recall this ceremonial oath before. Perhaps it is unique to the Serbian Church. The English translation is imperfect but you can clearly get the gist of what is being said.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Great Scandal

I am extremely reluctant to go there, but it is the subject of discussion and debate in the religious blogosphere right now. That being the ongoing fallout from the Cardinal McCarrick affair. The most common questions are who knew what, and when did they know it? And as of right now very few people in positions of authority in the Catholic Church seem to want to address those questions. But the real questions, that are being studiously ignored in the mainstream press/media are, to what extent does the so called "lavender mafia" in the Catholic Church bear responsibility for this? How many other McCarricks are out there, and who is protecting them?

Those seeking a solid, no holds barred discussion of these questions should probably be reading Rod Dreher's blog. He has a lot of background where the subject is the sexual abuse scandals within the RCC and he has sources that either nobody else has or that others are choosing to ignore. A word of caution, this is a spiritually poisonous subject and some of the details are ugly. Proceed with caution.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Food for Thought

Services in Honor of the Royal Passion Bearers of Russia

More than 100,000 marched in a procession from the Church on the Blood in Yekaterinburg to the monastery of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers outside the city. There followed a moleben in honor of the Royal Passion Bearers and a hierarchical liturgy that night.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Vigil for the Holy Royal Martyrs of Russia

Butchered 100 years ago tonight by the Communists.

The Trump Putin Meeting

Some people are using the word "treason" in reference to Trump's behavior. That's an overstatement. But it was way beyond horrible. An American President just stood in front of the world and effectively took the word of a foreign dictator, the leader of an unfriendly power, over the intelligence and security services of his own country. And he did it after blowing off most of our country's friends and questioning our alliances. Oddly Trump reminds me of Tsar Peter III and his bizarre fawning relationship with Frederick II of Prussia. The man is without doubt the most incompetent booby ever to occupy the highest office of the republic.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

David Bentley Hart: The Yankees Are a Moral Abomination

I have had my occasional disagreements with Dr. Hart, but all is now forgiven...

Soberly considered, the New York Yankees and their fans present a moral dilemma. Our consciences, naturally abhorring everything abominable, tell us that such things simply ought not exist. And yet we also know that the evil they represent is one we would not really want eradicated. Somehow we depend on it, not because it appeals to some morbid subliminal fascination with the horrific in us, and not even because it teaches us about the world’s deep Darwinian laws, but because it answers to a psychological need.

By exciting in the rest of us that sweet cold loathing that only they induce — that strangely tender malice, at once so delicious and yet so purifying — the Yankees and their followers provide an emotional cleansing. They give us occasion for the discharge of a dark, dangerous passion, but one unburdened by guilt. The detestation that any rational soul spontaneously feels for the Yankees is so innocent, so uncontaminated by spite — just instinctive revulsion before something obscene, like the goat-headed god of the diabolists. And there are few luxuries more gorgeously nourishing than the license to hate with an unclouded conscience.

Yankees fans, of course, never having drunk from those healing springs, typically mistake this hatred for envy, and so for an inverted admiration. But nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, those of us whose teams hail from smaller markets sometimes fall prey to a slightly petulant, even bilious resentment of all that boughten glory — the exorbitant free-agent contracts, the legions of scouts, the colossal television revenues — but who can blame us? And how could we fail to be vexed by the fawning servility of a national media incapable of telling the beautiful from the meretricious?...

Read the rest here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Baptist claiming trademark on name/image of Elder Arsenie wields law against Orthodox Church

A bizarre legal battle is playing out in Romania right now, as the Romanian Orthodox Church is fighting for the right to use the name and image of Elder Arsenie (Boca), a faithful son of the Church, against a private individual who owns the right to use the elder’s name and image that were trademarked with the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

Elder Arsenie, who reposed in 1989, was one of the great Romanian spiritual fathers of Communist times, and is revered today as a saint, although he has yet to be canonized. Thousands go on pilgrimage annually to his grave at Prislop Moanstery in Silvașu de Sus, and images of him are seen as a blessing.

At least one such image, bought at Prislop Moanstery, began miraculously weeping in May 2015. A miracle is known to occur at his grave as well: Even though the temperatures there can be extremely low, often reaching -5 degrees, all of the flowers that have grown on his grave neither wither nor freeze and die by the extreme temperatures but instead remain in full blossom. From winter to summer, the elder’s grave remains full with blossomed, multi-colored fragrant flowers.

But now those beloved images are being confiscated by the police, Balkan Insight reports.

Police have been called to the monastery twice this year, and also to a shop in the western city of Arad in May. Daniel Gheorge, one of the two owners of the Fr. Arsenie trademark, complained to police that the monastery and shop were selling images of Fr. Arsenie without the proper license.

Through his lawyer, Gheorge has made more than 100 complaints against churches and stores.

Read the rest here.

The bond market is flashing a warning sign on the economy

The U.S. economy is more vibrant than it has been in years, yet the bond market insists a recession could be on the horizon.

Some market pros say that warning from the Treasury yield curve, which has long been viewed as reliable, is not as relevant as it once was because of the long years of central bank easing that has depressed interest rates and turned debt markets into far more placid arenas.

The curve has been getting flatter by the day — meaning short-end interest rates are rising faster than long-term rates, and they are growing closer together. A flattening curve is a warning about economic weakness ahead, but should the curve invert— where the short end yield, like the 2-year, is actually higher than the 10-year—that would be viewed as a very solid recession warning.

On Friday, the gap between the 2-year yield and 10-year yield narrowed to just 25.5 basis points, a new 11-year low.

“The bond market is telling us the [economic recovery] is going to end soon, so let’s price it in with certainty,” said George Goncalves, head of U.S. fixed income rate strategy at Nomura. “They might be right, but they’re too early to call the end of the business cycle. It’s more the fact that it’s flattened so low, and it’s that people are dismissive of this economic recovery…If you look at the facts, why are people jumping on this ‘recession yield curve’ bandwagon when they haven’t given the U.S. economy a chance to see how much it can run? It could show up two years later. Why price it in with such certainty?”

Read the rest here.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Democratic Socialism Is Democratic Doom

A political novice who calls herself a “democratic socialist” wins an unexpected Democratic Party primary victory, and now political taxonomists are racing to explain just what the term means. Here’s my definition: political hemlock for the Democratic Party.

I write, of course, of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s the onetime Bernie Sanders organizer whose victory last month over long-term New York congressman and party boss Joe Crowley is being compared to Tea Partyer Dave Brat’s 2014 primary defeat of the Republican House majority leader, Eric Cantor — a sign of what’s to come, both for the Democratic Party and the country at large.

Well, maybe. It wasn’t long ago — March — that Marine reservist and former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb was feted as the Democratic future for winning a House seat in a Pennsylvania district that Donald Trump had carried by 20 points. The shared secret of Lamb’s and Ocasio-Cortez’s success is that they ran energetic campaigns, reflected the values of the people they sought to represent, and faced lackluster or entitled opponents.

Not every political contest is a battle of ideas. Sometimes it’s just a matter of showing up.

Still, it should be said: “Democratic socialism” is awful as a slogan and catastrophic as a policy. And “social democracy” — a term that better fits the belief of more ordinary liberals who want, say, Medicare for all — is a politically dying force. Democrats who aren’t yet sick of all their losing should feel free to embrace them both.

Start with democratic socialism. The Democratic Socialists of America, of which Ocasio-Cortez is a member, believe in economies defined by state-owned enterprises and worker-owned cooperatives. Versions of this have been tried to varying degrees before: Israel in its first decades; post-independence India; Sweden in the 1960s and ’70s.

It always led to crisis: hyperinflation for Israel in 1980s; an I.M.F. bailout for India in 1991; a banking meltdown for Sweden in 1992. It’s usually a recipe for corruption: State-owned enterprises such as Pemex in Mexico or Eskom in South Africa are local bywords for graft and mismanagement. It frequently leads to dictatorship. Hugo Chávez was also a democratic socialist.

Read the rest here.