Obamacare Premiums

Stephanie Armour noted that Obamacare premiums are expected to be lower in 2020 than they are this year, and she wondered whether that means Obamacare is working, or if there remain problems to be fixed.

The drop doesn’t address the core problem with Obamacare: it’s a government welfare program that mandates coverages at prices independent of the risk being transferred.

Falling premiums? They’re still much too high, as are deductibles (which Armour completely omitted from her article), especially when compared to what would be the case in a free market, and they’re for coverages that aren’t, generally, needed, to boot.

Leverage

Since so many American businesses—Apple, Alphabet, the NBA, to name a few—put their individual fiscal game ahead of American values, especially regarding Hong Kong and its citizens ongoing struggle for their own liberties (which just happen to lie at the core of our values), here are some thoughts on the fiscal value of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China.

Since 1997, mainland Chinese companies have raised $335 billion by floating in Hong Kong, tapping a broader range of shareholders than they could onshore.
…since the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to its US equivalent, and the city has no capital controls, a listing there can generate hard currency for foreign takeovers and investments. It would be harder to use a Shanghai stock sale for the same goal.

Secular Authority and Morals

A letter writer in a recent Wall Street Journal‘s Letters to the Editor section, demurred from Attorney General William Barr’s remarks on secularism and religion at the University of Notre Dame’s Law School and de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. The letter’s author wrote,

Our society can teach morality, ethics, civility, self-reliance, and humility without reference to religion or any particular faith. Children can be taught….

Certainly, such principles can be taught.  But how to enforce them? Relying on Government for enforcement means relying on the men who are in Government from time to time, men with views on the legitimacy of those principles and the means of their enforcement that are as variable as those men. And each man’s views will vary over time.

Free Speech and Social Media

Facebook MFWIC Mark Zuckerberg has come out against private enterprise censoring politicians’ speech or the news we citizens choose to consume.

Sort of.

Zuckerberg wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in which he pushed back, a little, against Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth’s (D, MA) demand that he censor President Donald Trump’s commentary on Facebook.  But he continues to show that he doesn’t take free speech seriously.

He wrote

…a strict First Amendment standard would mean allowing content like terrorist propaganda or bullying.

Red Flag Law in Action

It seems an old veteran in Massachusetts had his legally-owned firearms confiscated by the local police—for no reason at all, other than a waitress chose to call the cops on him after eavesdropping on a part of a private conversation he was having with a friend in her restaurant. The waitress’ uninformed tattling also got him fired from his school-crossing guard job.

While he was at a local diner, [Stephen] Nichols was speaking to a friend about a school resource officer who apparently was constantly leaving his post to go for coffee in the morning.
Nichols said he was worried somebody would come in and “shoot up the school” while the officer was out on one of his coffee runs.

Yes and No

Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) wants to break up Facebook, and in the meantime, she wants Facebook to shut down free speech the speech of those of whom she disapproves—especially political ads posted to Facebook (for a fee charged by Facebook) by Republicans and Conservatives.  Zuckerberg’s response?

Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg wrote that the company does not believe its role is to “prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny.”

In Which Zuckerberg is Right

Attorney General William Barr has taken up ex-FBI Director James Comey’s battle for government backdoors into private citizens’ encrypted private messages.  Apple MFWIC Tim Cook won a similar fight regarding iPhone passwords and a demand that government should be allowed backdoors into those, and Comey’s FBI was shown to have been dissembling about that difficulty by the speed with which a contractor the FBI hired successfully broke into an iPhone the FBI had confiscated.

Now Barr has broadened the fight, demanding Facebook give Government backdoors into Facebook’s planned rollout of encryption for its messaging services.  He wants Facebook, too, to hold off on its rollout until Government is satisfied it has such backdoors.  Barr’s cynically misleading plaint includes this tearjerker:

An Elizabeth Warren Demand

Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) has begun issuing her orders to our private business executives.  And she’s not even the Progressive-Democratic Party nominee for the office, much less the President [bold face emphasis added].

I write in regard to the Business Roundtable’s (BRT) new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation issued on August 19, 2019. … I write for information about the tangible actions you intend to take to implement the principles, including whether, to make good on your commitment, you will implement the steps laid out in the Accountable Capitalism Act I plan to reintroduce in the coming weeks.

In Which Alphabet may be Getting One Thing Right

Alphabet’s Google subsidiary is developing a new Internet protocol, and competitors are worried that the protocol would mak[e] it harder for others to access consumer data. Some thoughts on that below.  Congress is concerned, too, and its “antitrust investigators” are looking into the matter.

A Chinese Firewall

…erected by the European Court of Justice.  The ruling is a partial victory for Alphabet’s Google subsidiary in a “right to be forgotten” case brought by Google as it appealed a fine imposed by the French watchdog, the National Commission for Computing and Liberties, which wanted Google to delete all references worldwide to personal data an EU citizen wanted “forgotten.”

The ECJ ruled that the EU’s “right” applied only within the EU—the partial victory.  However, it added that