Obamacare Strikes Yet Again

Insurers will seek significant premium hikes under President Barack Obama’s health care law this summer….

For example, in Virginia, a state that reports early, nine insurers returning to the HealthCare.gov marketplace are seeking average premium increases that range from 9.4% to 37.1%.

And

The health law’s nagging problems center on lower-than-hoped-for enrollment, sicker-than-expected customers, and a balky internal stabilization system that didn’t deliver as advertised and was already scheduled to be pared back next year.

Who is truly surprised by this?  Oh, yeah….

Market Choice?

Can’t have that.

The Obama administration is locked and loaded for a fresh push on gun control initiatives—reportedly moving to advocate for so-called “smart gun” technology….

Smart gun technology research may well be a good idea, and having smart guns—weapons that can be fired only by their legitimate owners—certainly seems like a good idea.

Even Government involvement in funding basic research—the secrets of the universe kind of thing—or doing its own basic research might be a good idea.

However, Government involvement in engineering research, which smart gun tech development surely is, and Government involvement in determining, or even merely jawboning, what products it wants in a free market most assuredly are not legitimate.

Minimum Wage Laws and Special Groups Impact

Fast-food workers and civil rights groups in Birmingham, AL, are mounting a constitutional challenge to a recent state law that bars cities from setting their own higher minimum wages, alleging the law violates the workers civil rights.

The plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the state’s Republican Gov Robert Bentley, claiming the bill he signed into law in February was tainted with “racial animus” toward the predominantly African-American city.

One of the lawsuit’s main claims is that the state law disproportionately impacts minority residents who live and work in Birmingham, many in low-wage, fast-food industry jobs that leave them impoverished and on public assistance.

A Foreign Policy Fallout

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Tuesday that the biggest military contract in Australia’s history, a $40 billion tender to build 12 submarines, will go to a French naval contractor.  That’s a defeat for Japan’s bid, and with it a lost opportunity to deepen cooperation among the leading Pacific democracies facing China’s rising military.

For all of Turnbull’s rationalizations, this was a major factor in rejecting the Japanese offer:

The most significant influence may have been China, Australia’s largest trading partner, which openly campaigned against Japan’s bid. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned his Australian counterpart in February to remember World War II….

A New Form of Government Subsidy

And so a new form of market distortion by government.

Consumer-goods giant Unilever NV was set to raise money in bond markets Monday that will cost them almost nothing, in the latest sign of how the European Central Bank’s stimulus measures are slashing funding costs across the continent.

On the other hand, there’s this example of an impediment to private enterprise borrowing:

In one tranche of a €1.5 billion ($1.68 billion) deal, the Anglo-Dutch company was set to sell €300 million of debt maturing in 2020 with a coupon of 0%, potentially offering investors a yield of just 0.06%, according to deal guidance released Monday by underwriting banks.

Minimum Wage Revisited

Kevin Williamson, at National Review, had a thought that’s only now percolating to the surface of thinking Americans and that still is avoided by the American Left.

Properly understood, raising the minimum wage—and having a minimum wage at all—is camouflage, something to talk about and fight about while we’re not talking about and fighting about the more important underlying issue.  Declaring that all American workers shall be paid at least $15 an hour is not the same as ensuring that all American workers produce $15 an hour worth of value, and, eventually, the disconnect between those two considerations must make itself felt.

Saviors

Don Boudreaux, at Cafe Hayek, had some thoughts on this sort of folk.  Here’s one:

Saviors need victims who need saving.  And if such victims are not real and readily available, the saviors conjure them up by convincing themselves that this or that group of people are helpless victims eager to be raised from the muck of their misfortunes by the saviors.  Sometimes the saviors convince even the groups they seek to save that they—the members of these groups—are indeed mired in a muck from which they can be extracted only by the saviors.

Another Intrusive Government Regulation

US regulators proposed requiring the nation’s largest banks and financial firms to hold back executives’ bonus pay for four years, extending by a year the common industry practice on Wall Street incentive payouts.

The plan would also require a minimum period of seven years for the biggest firms to “claw back” bonuses if it turns out an executive’s actions hurt the institution.

In a free market economy—that is to say, a healthy economy—this would be a business decision, validated or rejected by that business’ owners and its marketplace customers.  However, in this Progressive-Democrat Party administration, this is a Government Decision, made by Government Know Betters, because those actually participating in an economy, with their own money on the line, can’t possibly understand the situation.

Who Enrolls in Obamacare?

What’s the effect of that on costs under Obamacare?  The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association rudely conducted a study of the matter, and they found

  • New enrollees in individual health plans in 2014 and 2015 had higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, depression, coronary artery disease, HIV and Hepatitis C than those enrolled before ObamaCare.
  • New enrollees received significantly more medical care, on average, than those with individual or employer-based plans.
  • New enrollees had more inpatient admissions, outpatient visits, prescriptions filled and emergency room visits.

A State Appeals Court Missed the Point

Recall the California case, Vergara v California, in which nine students and the nonprofit advocacy group Students Matter, sued the State of California, arguing that the State’s tenure laws and its firing and layoff policies made it too hard to fire bad teachers, thereby denying students a decent education.  At trial, the students won, and the laws were struck as unconstitutional.  Naturally, teachers unions—California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers—anxious to protect its tenure perks, appealed.

Last Thursday, a State appellate court

said the plaintiffs had not successfully proven that some students were indeed getting an inferior education because of job protection provisions.