Taxing the young to pay for the old to dwell in sickness

One of the consequences of ObamaCare is that young families will pay higher taxes (via higher insurance premiums) in order to subsidize the sickness of old people.

Demographically, if you tax people for being young in order to subsidize old-age morbidity, you will have less young people and more sickly old people.

Specifically, young people will put off having families (because they have less income to support a family on), so that old people like Obama’s grandma can have a surgery days before she dies.

The only economically sensible reason to have “health care reform” is to allow more old people to die faster. (In military terms, increased old-age mortality under ObamaCare would be a LIHOP — let it happen on purpose.) Of course, when the American people realized this, they panicked (much of their youth is behind them, but their old-age care is still ahead of them).  This hurts those who already invested political capital in a bill that was originally intended to LIHOP eldercide.

So now, a bill whose initial goal was to shuffle the old and sick off the stage will subsidize the old and sick at the expense of the young and healthy.

This debate is out of control. Obama should “press the reset button” and try again in two years.

Liberal Democrats and Liberal Democracy

First, major props to Trans Pacific Radio, whose coverage of the 2009 Japanese Lower House Election was fantastic. It was insightful, in-depth, timely, and far better than anything else available in the English language. Great job!

The loss of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to the Social Democrats is all over the internet. Catholicgauze, Curzon, Younghusband, and The Economist all have interesting thoughts.

It will be interesting ot see if the Social Democrats can govern, or if they will collapse back into a marginal opposition party. Taiwan and Japan appear to be examples of how one-party rule and democracy can occur at the same time.

China, of course, is watching.

Would ObamaCare Cover Illegal Immigrants?

Brendan thinks so.

The mechanism would be as followed: while ObamaCare has paper-prohibitions on numerous things (such as the rich getting means-tested care, and illegal-immigrants signing up for the plan), the law provides that the Internal Revenue Service share income data, but not that Homeland Security share legal residency status.

If this is true, ObamaCare contains a double-standard, holding Americans to a “trust-but-verify” standard while illegal immigrants are held to a “trust without verification” standard.

Relatedly, NPR notes that half of all illegal immigrants already have health insurance.

The Greencine Five, Part XII: Purple Butterfly, Happy Together, The Road Home, In the Year of the Pig, King of Chess


Purple Butterfly is a slow-moving spy thriller that takes place in Shanghai immediately before Japan’s invasion of China. Purple Butterfly is really good, but the lack of dialogue and the physical similarity of two characters leave some reviewers confused. The film centers around a Japanese intelligence service’s secret war against the Purple Butterfly Organization in a setting that could easily be transferred to Peshwar, or Bali. The set-up, that a Chinese factory worker is mistaken for a Japanese spy, sounds like a comedy. Instead, an increasingly dark story of betrayal, confusion, and revenge brilliantly defines the murkiness that is the fog of war.


Happy Together is a film by Wong Kar Wai, better known for his atmospheric “Hong Kong” trilogy (Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love, and 2046), as well as Chungking Express. Happy Together was released to controversy, as it his first homosexual romance. Those who enjoy atmospheric Chinese-language gay romance films will enjoy Happy Together.


The Road Home is Zhang Ziyi‘s break-out performance, and probably her best. The film is set in Manchuria before the Cultural Revolution, which is rememberd similarly to the 1950s in the United States: stable, prosperous, uniform, culturally conservative, and safe. It is the story of an illiterate farm girl and the teacher she falls in love with. The film’s style is consciously taken from Titanic (the most popular movie in the history of Chinese cinema), and even shares with it the use of flashbacks to tell the main story.


In the Year of the Pig is a pro-Ho Chi Minh documentary about the Vietnam War, produced in 1968. I was shocked at how different the style and tone is from Hearts and Minds, an anti-war movie films in 1974. Year feels like its policy film from the 1950s, where clean-cut men in suits criticize France, discuss why some American policy was reasonable at the time, and argue for the need for a change. If the speakers are indeed Communist-sympathizers, then it is striking just how serious and alluring that movement must have been. Alternatively, Year may the voice of a lost moderate-liberal position on foreign policy that has yet to reemerge.


King of Chess is weird. It looks like someone spliced together documentary footage of the cultural revolution, added a rock anthem soundtrack, and then proceeded to combine two featurettes (one about the rustification campaign, the other about a psychic boy and an evil professor in Taiwan) together. That’s because it is. The production of the intended movie collapsed early on, requiring the filming of another, parallel story to fill out the running time. My friend criticized it as the most boring we watched since The World. It definitely isn’t the best film we’ve watched.

Tibet in Context

While China is often criticized for its invasion of Tibet (which had never been part of China, but had been part of the Chinese Empire for thousands of years), India is rarely criticized for its invasion of the princely states in the mid-to-late 20th century. Upon independendence, the Indian Union was one of many sovereigns in South Asia, some of which (Hyderabad and Kashmir, famously) did not wish to be part of India. India these complaints and used a combination of threats of force and force to compel its neighbors to join its socialist polity.

india_1950If Nehru was really has shocked at China’s invasion of Tibet as he seemed to have been, then his foreign policy really was a foolish as his disastrous economic policy, which held India back for two generations.

This is not to defend China. It is to criticize India.

Control without Responsibility

This piece by Victor Davis Hanson is acceptable, but it messes Obama’s political timing, and so ends up sounding over the top. Obama is not some enemy from 2,500 years ago dedicated to class warfare. Rather, he is a smart politician who wants control and desires to avoid the responsibility that comes from it. This is not simply a selfish stance, but rather an honest belief that government is best done by politically-minded experts who are not accountable to the public.

The economy revolution we are experiencing in the United States is without parrallel, except for China under Deng Xiaoping. Just as Deng was, economically, the first post-Chinese leader of China, Obama may be the first post-American leader of America. From automobiles to banking to insurance to health care, the government under Obama acts as both regulator and competitor, allowing it to influence the marketplace without any particular government minister fearing the bad consequences of his actions.

Like Deng, Obama also faces unsustainable social spending. In China, Deng introduced the Family Responsibility System which freed the central government from having to care for millions of Chinese. In the United States, Barack Obama will introduce “death panels ” that will free the central government from having to care for millions of elderly Americans. Here again is the theme of control without responsibility. Obama, like Deng, will consign millions of poor and elderly Americans to earlier deaths, while avoiding responsibility by blaming the family (if they really wanted grandma alive, they could fork over the thousand-a-day themselves…).

Our ObamaCare Future: Domestic Policies Dictated by China

Noam Scheiber’s piece is chilling if you want a domestic policy seperate from what China would appreciate. The piece correctly notes that with trillion-dollar deficits we can only afford policies that China approves us, but that certainly China (which has no socialized medicine) is in favor of socialized medicine in the United States

I’m actually wrapping up a piece on the U.S.-China economic relationship this week, and several Treasury officials have told me that, during the recent Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the Chinese confided that they would have been more concerned about the deficit had we not responded aggressively to the recession, even though the response made the short-term deficit larger. The Chinese understood the importance of running a big short-term deficit to offset our economic shocks and restore growth, these officials say. And the Chinese were apparently reassured when administration economic officials explained how much of the short-term deficit was a function of the recession and the financial crisis (about two-thirds). Not surprisingly, the Chinese are most concerned about the structural deficit (that is, the portion of the deficit left over once you strip out the effects of the economic downturn) and what happens to it over the long-term. Despite the ugly top-line numbers, that hasn’t really changed–there isn’t much reason to be more pessimistic about the long-term structural deficit than we were beforehand.

The further into debt Obama’s terrible policies (the “Public Option,” Geithner, Bernanke, and so on) put us, the more indebted (in every sense) we are to the Chinese Communist Party.

Short Review of “Notes from China” by Barbara Tuchman

Over the weekend I read Notes from China by Barbara Tuchman. Notes from China was written after Stillwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945. Her criticism of the KMT government in that book (as well as Nixon’s opening to China) worked together to make the Chinese authorities identify her as a “friend of China,” and so Mrs. Tuchman became one of the first Americans to visit China after the thaw in relations.

Notes from China is a time-capsule. While much of the infrastructure of the Cultural Revolution is in place (Mao, the Gang of Four, Communes, Revolutionary Committees, Reeducation, Rustification, and so on), the naked violence had ended with the death of President Liu Shaoqi some year earlier. While Tuchman notes that the government is in control but not stable, she fears it will be many years until China moves from agriculture and embraces the world.

As Tuchman had spent four weeks in China before the World War, she is one of the few westerners (along with Sidney Rittenberg and Sidney Shapiro) to publish first-person accounts of China before and after the Communist take-over. Like the Sidneys, Tuchman is struck by the abolishment of extreme poverty, though she is much more critical of the total thought control.

Notes from China concludes with an essay that discusses Zhou Enlai’s request for a meeting between himself, Mao Zedong, and President Roosevelt in Washington, DC in 1945. The reasons for the request, the probable consequences of granting such a meeting, and why it was unlikely is discussed in an in-depth but very readible manner.

Notes from China is a great, first-person account of the late Cultural Revolution, and the reasons for the collapse of the KMT government in the 1940s.