American Cities, Repeal Obamacar & Dee-fense!

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Published on The Daily Impact  March 15, 19 & 23  2017

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American Cities Fight for Their Lives — Alone

 

 

 

The city of Homer, Alaska, achingly beautiful, is fighting for its life against a relentless enemy. Like several other American cities, it is losing its war. The government in Washington insists it’s not happening.

 

 

 

This American city of 5,000 people is under siege by an implacable enemy. Its food supply has been poisoned, its water supply affected, its main industry crippled, it loses big chunks of its territory every month or so, and several times the enemy has almost severed its only road out. The city has committed all its resources to the fight and regularly pleads with the state government for help, but the state is so besieged by other towns and cities, also under attack, that there is not enough to go around. Appeals to the national government are pointless because in the view of the national government, the enemy does not exist.

The city is Homer, Alaska, and the enemy is of course climate change. Here’s what Homer is up against:

  • For nearly a hundred years, the average low temperature in February has been 19 degrees Fahrenheit; last February it was 30 degrees.
  • Warmer winters mean more rain than snow, and rain is eroding the coast and threatening to cut the road.
  • The lack of snow means the streams run shallower and warmer, threatening the area’s billion-dollar fishing industry.
  • The warmer ocean waters in the area foster frequent blooms of toxic algae that poison the shellfish.
  • Rising water is eating away the city’s seawall, which it has no way to replace.

Many of the towns competing with Homer for state help are in even worse shape — they are sinking into melting permafrost, or sliding into the ocean’s rising waters while being battered by more frequent and ferocious storms, and threatened by wildfires that now erupt almost year-round. The state is doing what it can but it is impoverished; once swimming in oil money with plenty for everyone, it is now watching the last dregs of North Slope oil trickle away through the aged and decrepit Alaska Pipeline.  

Nor is Alaska the only state under siege. The residents of South Miami and Miami Beach, Florida, are regularly dealing with rising sea water bubbling up around their ankles in their city streets on days when their is no storm — “blue-sky flooding” is what they call it. It’s sea-level rise, caused by global warming, and for them it’s not theoretical, it’s here. Now. [Make that three years ago: see Miami Beach, October 9: Apocalypse Foretold]

Norfolk, Virginia knew it was in trouble five years ago, it was losing streets and waterfront property to the encroaching sea and was facing the prospect of more, more powerful, hurricanes. It pleaded with state government for help with the enormous costs of mitigation, and was told that any request containing the words “climate change” would not be considered.

All these thousands of people with their backs to the wall, fighting for their futures, their very survival, with an enemy toward which most of their political leaders maintain an attitude of amused disdain. There is no such thing as climate change, insist the legislators and governors of Florida, and Virginia, and South Carolina, and Washington, D.C. The President of the United States has said that climate change is a hoax, perpetrated by China to get an advantage in global trade, or something. The federal government is in the process now of defunding and dismantling the agencies and programs that research, and help fight, this enemy.  

So the people in their thousands fight on, losing ground as slowly as they can, much like the people facing the tsunamis of opioid addiction and black lung disease and failing pension funds and closing clinics and cancelled policies. Fighting on alone until they die, while their government in Washington plays billionaire games with tax breaks and subsidies for people who don’t need them, partying madly at the all-you-can-eat, free-champagne Titanic buffet.

—————————

Repeal Obamacar and Set Car Insurance Free

 

 

 

See, it’s drivers like this who are ruining the insurance industry under Obamacar. No more, if the Trumpists have their way. (Wikimedia Photo)

 

 

 

The Trump administration is preparing legislation to repeal and replace Obamacar — their name for the automobile insurance industry, which they say is imploding because of President Obama. “The American people are sick of being forced to buy this hated insurance,” said a Trump spokesman who declined to be identified on the grounds that the President is certifiable and could turn on him at any moment.

“The first thing we’ve got to do,” said the spokes individual, “is get rid of the mandate. It is simply not fair to make everyone buy one-size-fits-all insurance. Or to ask someone whose Mercedes is parked in an air conditioned garage most of the time to pay for the mishaps of someone running around and running into things in a 1989 Honda. In the future we’re only going to sell car insurance to people who don’t have car accidents. Besides, people don’t want to have car insurance, they want access to car insurance, and we’re going to give them lots of choices they can’t afford. Because freedom of choice is what matters.”

In order to stimulate competition in the industry, the proposal bans the term “automobile insurance” and replaces it with “automobile default swaps.” Since it is no longer insurance, there is no further need to regulate the market or the companies in it, and they will be free to do whatever they want. This has always, say the plan’s proponents, been good for America.

Asked what the administration plans to do to protect people damaged by uninsured motorists who in the future may wipe out their cars and their families without recourse, the spokeshuman said, and we quote, “What?”

The plan authorizes the creation of “individual accidental savings accounts.” Poor people will be authorized to set aside up to $50,000 a year in a special account for paying for collision damage. Plus they will be encouraged to do so by not having to pay any federal taxes on the interest earned. “This is a saving of several dollars a month — you get it eventually, when your accountant finally gets your tax refund — and frankly I can’t imagine any poor person not taking full advantage of it.”

Then the spokesthing went on to make an offhand comment that has since become controversial: “Frankly,” it said,  “if these people would buy fewer Bentleys and Jaguars and content themselves with Fords and Chevies, it would be better for them and for America.” This is being widely criticized as an ignorant observation, given the popularity of Lincoln Town Cars among the indigent.

The Obamacar Repeal and Replace legislation has several additional provisions that are proving wildly popular among President Trump’s base (which is now estimated to consist of 250 people in a Johnstown, Pennsylvania bowling league):

  • cars may no longer be used to transport people to or from abortion clinics.
  • car insurance will no longer be offered to LBGTQX drivers. “They have accidents,” said the spokesbeing, “we can’t have that.”   
  • Under no circumstances will insurance be granted to people who, in the words of the statute, “look Muslim. Or Mexican. Or brown.”

In short, said the spokesdude, “America’s long nation Obamacar nightmare is about to be over, as we set car insurance free, to return to the wild where it belongs.

———————————————-

DEE-FENSE! DEE-FENSE! DEE-FENSE!

 

 

 

The F-35 has single-handedly made America Number One again — at wasting money on weapons that don’t work. But wait there’s more. (Photo by Heath Canjandig/Flickr)

 

 

 

It is entirely fitting and proper that we scrape together $85 billion by defunding federal programs that “show no results” — such as Meals on Wheels, school lunch programs and health care for poor people — and give it to the defense department. Because unlike these loser programs, the defense department always gets results. If you have any doubts at all about this, three examples should suffice to set you straight:

I. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program has already made America proud by achieving the rank of most expensive military program in the history of the world. At one trillion dollars, this project accounts for fully one-twentieth of the U.S. national debt. But thanks to the Pentagon managers and the defense contractors who refused to pinch pennies when it comes to national defense, the F-35 is a shining example of what money can do:

  • The F-35 has 276 critical deficiencies that must be fixed before the craft can be considered ready for duty, and an average of 20 more such deficiencies are being discovered every month.
  • The software package that controls the plane’s functions in combat is not yet capable of a few things, such as tracking moving objects on the ground, detecting incoming enemy radar signals, or firing the 25mm machine guns. (Which may be a good thing — when the doors open so the machine guns can fire, the aircraft yaws to the left, making it unlikely the gun will hit what it was aimed at.)
  • The aircraft is capable of carrying and deploying two air-to-air missiles (long range, useless in a dogfight) and two bombs. This is about as much armament as a Piper Cub could carry.
  • The aircraft’s helmet, which features the world’s most advanced heads-up display and aiming controller, often displays more targets than exist and often can’t hit what the pilot is aiming at.     
  • Despite all this and more, the Air Force declared the aircraft ready for deployment last year. The Marines activated a squadron of them and sent them to Japan, where they are trying grimly to get them airborne once in a while. One month later the Air Force grounded all its F-35s pending further developments.

II. The USS Zumwalt is to the sea what the F-35 is to the air — a fabulously expensive tribute to military intelligence. The promise was that this super-sized, hard-to-detect destroyer with a tiny crew would give the United States dominance of the world’s oceans at a bargain price. So far we have learned:

  • Forget the bargain price. Initial estimates were that the ships would cost $1.34 billion each and we would build 32 of them. The first one cost $7 billion (about what we spent for our last aircraft carrier) and we can only afford three of them.
  • Of the eleven critical technologies required to make this vessel work, only three are “mature.”
  • The promise that this “smart ship” would require a crew of only 95, compared with the usual 500 or so, was never studied. Or realized. The present vessel has 147 hands on deck, and everyone is praying nothing goes wrong with the ship and that it never has to do any fighting.
  • The ship’s Advanced Gun System delivers 24 pounds of explosive in a 155mm shell to a target 60-80 miles away (NOT another ship, it can’t do that) for $800,000 per round. It is so expensive that practice is unthinkable, and combat may be unaffordable. The round it replaced, which delivered the same 24 pounds of explosive with slightly less range and accuracy, costs $700.
  • Launched last October in Maine, the ship sprang a leak trying to get to nearby Norfolk, Virginia. And, heading for its new home port in California, the ship lost power — both of its propeller-drive shafts seized up entirely — in the Panama Canal and had to be towed to safety.

III. Littoral Combat Ships — fast, shallow-draft vessels for close-to-shore fighting — are a dream at which the Navy has been throwing money for more than a decade. Half a billion dollars later. one prototype vessel, launched in 2006, rides at anchor, unused and unusable. [“Lesson on How Not to Build a Navy Ship,” The New York Times.]

Obviously, the solution to all these problems is to throw more money at them. Which, apparently, is what we are going to do.

[POST SCRIPT — If you want a complete, factual briefing on how the Pentagon screws these things up so magnificently, watch the movie The Pentagon Wars, starring Kelsey Grammer. Funny as hell, until you realize it’s not a comedy. Written by James Burton, who lived it, and whom I got to know in his later life as a supervisor in Loudoun County, Virginia.]

 

 

 

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