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Virginiaish Inquistion

By Tom Toles



Simplicity itself

If somebody loses his job and doesn't have enough money for a place to live and ends up sleeping outdoors and gets sick and has no health insurance and dies, is that the efficiency of the market at work? It certainly is, and if you think that whatever outcomes the market delivers are the efficient ones, and that's your scale of measuring the "fair" distribution of goods and services in an economy, well, then, things are, in fact, as simple as you would like them to be.

It will be simplicity itself to get the deficit under control if we just get rid of Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security all at once. I mean really easy. The market doesn't need them or care about them. Why should you? Because that might impact you and people you know? Hey, time to make the tough choices, pal! The deficit was what you said you were frantic about, so let's have at it.

Simplicity has been the snake oil in the political discourse for some time now. Technology is allowed to get more complex by the second, but the social/government part of modern life is supposed to regress to hunter-gatherer times, when the magic of the marketplace was actual spells and incantations. Halloween and Election Day go hand-in-hand. Let's go dabbling into the magic! -Tom Toles




By Tom Toles  | October 6, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Environment & global warming  
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The average life expectancy in the 1930's was about 59.

That is scewed downwards by high infant mortality.

Really good article here.

Posted by: BradG | October 11, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

"Plus... how much of your tax money actually goes towards real charity, and not a bureaucratic office??"

Dear EthelredTheUninformed,

Social Security is among the most efficient charities on Earth, if you choose to categorize it as such, with the lowest administrative overhead- under 1%.

Posted by: hayesap8 | October 7, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: EthelredtheUnready
Better hope you die before you get old. The Bible also says, “Give, and it shall be given to you. For whatever measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return.”

But that quote is for giving voluntarily... not having Caesar (aka government) take from the public via a sword (aka taxes). It is better to give from the heart, not through taxes.

Plus... how much of your tax money actually goes towards real charity, and not a bureaucratic office??

Posted by: alutz08 | October 7, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim, we had no Social Security for a lot longer than a century. We had no Social Security for virtually all of human history, and the old and infirm were taken care of, without government interference. The conventional wisdom is that Social Security saved the elderly during the Great Depression. In fact, the first SS payments were sent out in 1942!
EBTnut, I never felt I was "busting my hump" sitting in an office in front of a computer monitor all day. I could easily do that until I couldn't sit up anymore, and I'm a long way from that, at the age of 58. Sure, I'd like to sit home and receive a government check in the mail for doing nothing, but society can't afford that, as we've been slowly discovering for the past several decades.

Posted by: DirtFarmer1 | October 7, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Two words: Defense Budget. The most sacred of all cows.

After 10 years of maintaining the military in the field, is it any wonder that we are broke? But is it even on the table? No. If this is a global war on terrorism, why is America the only one really fighting? Or more importantly, the only one paying?

We could have it all. But not if you include endless war with an unspecified opponent. In which case, we get nothing, nothing that is but endless debt & death.

Oh and Cuccinelli is an ass.

Posted by: pete1013 | October 6, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Dirtfarmer doesn't seem to realize that back in the early part of the century, there weren't a lot of "old" people. The average life expectancy in the 1930's was about 59. Today its about 78. Do you really want to bust your hump for 40 hours a week for 60 years, then just curl up your toes?

Posted by: ebtnut | October 6, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Enough with the global warming stuff, already. Or "climate change." Whatever.

No amount of science is going to be "enough" science for people who simply do not trust scientists. As long as there is one holdout, and it doesn't matter who pays that holdout's salary, who says, "No, no, no," there will be a person to point to to say, "See? Told you so. Proves it."

No matter that, that person is also a scientist. Is that irony? The part about not trusting scientists, I mean. Except when they say what we want them to say.

Look... We WILL eventually run out of oil, and will eventually even run out of coal, though not as quickly. And, really, we've given science a shot, and people are not only not interested, but in deep denial. So, what's to do?

Do without heat, maybe, so the next person can be wasteful?

Nope. We're in this together, and we can go to hell in a handbasket together or not at all. "Together," you say? So be it.

I'll keep voting AGAINST hell in a handbasket, thanks very much, but will also continue to heat my home. Makes no sense, does it?

Posted by: jonroesler | October 6, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Dirtfarmer1 writes:
"Where is it written that simply by virtue of reaching a certain age, you are entitled to sit on your backside and live off the labor of others? Even the Bible says, "They that will not work, neither shall they eat."

Better hope you die before you get old. The Bible also says, “Give, and it shall be given to you. For whatever measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return.”

Posted by: EthelredtheUnready | October 6, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

He who pays the piper, calls the tune.

If scientists do research with government money, they can be regulated by the government.

What is so secret about the emails?

Posted by: win_harrington | October 6, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

To raise climate-gate to the level of Galileo is twisted,Tom.

Posted by: quiensabe | October 6, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It could be worse. If the religious right still really ran things, they'd still be hanging little girls as witches, instead of merely attacking science with creepy lawyers.

Posted by: bourassa1 | October 6, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Get real! We have people living on the streets and under bridges. We have people working three jobs in order to make enough money to survive.
Without the government to protect people from the tyranny of corporations, there is no hope for the working class people let alone those unemployed. We have a corrupt government that supports the rich and no one else. The politicians are working for the corporations who pay them off in contributions.
We have a corrupt government and anal retentive (conservative) people who are sociopath and could care less who starves to death as long as it is not them.
This country is turning into to a greedy and selfish Oligarchy.

Posted by: OchamsRazor | October 6, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Russia also had the hottest summer on record.

Meteorologists, who by and large are climate change deniers, noted last winter that the Arctic Circle was much warmer than normal. These warmer temperatures disrupted the storm systems that normally keep the cold air oscillating around the North Pole, allowing this cold air to penetrate much further south than normal. Just to repeat that for those that didn’t follow: the WARMER temperatures in the Arctic Circle made it COLDER elsewhere.

Russia having had the hottest summer on record means that more pack ice melted in the Arctic Circle (where it was also warmer), which means that the winter in the Arctic Circle will be warmer since open water is warmer than pack ice. The warmer Arctic will result in less storm activity in the Arctic Circle making Russia, and DC, colder. Hence the expected coldest winter on record.

If Global Warming is a myth, then eventually the summers will be cooler. But since temperatures have been rising since Industrialization (which seems like quite a coincidence), I am going to bet on warmer summers and colder winters. Now maybe this is just part of a natural cycle, but to deny what is CLEARLY occurring is delusional, regardless of what caused the warming.

As for noting that the winters are colder while failing to note record summer temperatures or disappearing pack ice disingenuous. Don’t play cards with these folks, they will cheat.

Posted by: chrisp339 | October 6, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

R-i-g-h-t!! So now the supremely righteous climate scientists are the equals of Galileo, and skeptics are the inquisitors. Great way to move the debate forward - call your opponents all sorts of names - Nazi, inquisitor, hun ???

Posted by: devesh_f10 | October 6, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Janet 8 wrote, in part,

"Toles, Lyndon Johnson transferred the Social Security funds to the General Fund in the 1960s. Prior to that, the SS funds were only used for SS payments."

In fact, Social Security funds have ALWAYS been invested in U. S. Tresury bonds. You could look it up at

Posted by: billh39 | October 6, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

DirtFarmer1 writes: "Before Social Security, old people were not dying in the streets. They were being taken care of without government intervention."

This is simply astounding. You know, we tried the experiment of not having Social Security. We tried it for over a century of having a country. That's why we have it now -- because there was a depression, and things got really bad, although perhaps not quite as apocalyptic as that. Is it not enough to see that you're heading for a cliff -- you have to actually go over the cliff before you can admit that perhaps you have steered the car in another direction?

Posted by: ScienceTim | October 6, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

The real snake oil is the notion that the federal government must solve every perceived/invented social problem. Before Social Security, old people were not dying in the streets. They were being taken care of without government intervention.
Medicare was passed because we were told that old people should never have to depend on charity. So the government invented its own "charity" and called is Medicare.
These programs are funded by plundering the wages of working people (payroll taxes), despite the fact that retired people already own almost half the nation's wealth.
Where is it written that simply by virtue of reaching a certain age, you are entitled to sit on your backside and live off the labor of others? Even the Bible says, "They that will not work, neither shall they eat."

Posted by: DirtFarmer1 | October 6, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Toles, Lyndon Johnson transferred the Social Security funds to the General Fund in the 1960s. Prior to that, the SS funds were only used for SS payments.

When Clinton left office there was a surplus, I think. I'm not sure because it's part of the General Fund and who knows. I do know that at that time more money was paid into the SS funds than were paid out.

Then Bush used the SS funds to fund two wars. And started Medicare D.

Then Obama came in and used SS funds to pay back his union donors, etc. in the form of a failed Stimulus plan. Then the Porkulus and Health Care debacles.

People have paid into SS and retirees do pay for their Medicare premiums and deductibles.

What should be done is to keep the SS funds separate from the General Fund, but with our current deficit I doubt it could be done; Medicare drug prices should be negotiated with Big Pharma as Canada and Europe do, doubt this will happen since Big Pharma gave Obama money to fund his Health Care Ads to push ObamaCare; Medicaid should be left to the states without Obama putting illegal aliens on these rolls.

Obama will do none of this because it doesn't fit into his agenda and/or not feasible at this late date.

And Toles, no person in the US is denied treatment in a hospital.

But my question is why do US prisoners receive better treatment for illness than those homeless people who haven't committed a crime? And taxpayers are paying for it.

That's a question that should be asked of our government.

Posted by: janet8 | October 6, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Simplicity is something that the Left does not understand. Social Security was supposed to be a retirement fund. People pay into the system during their working years and when they retire they receive monthly checks. Simple. Not for our Federal Government which designed the system. Social Security needs more and more people paying into the system which now pays more than just retirement benefits. Sounds like a Ponzi scheme to me. If you want fairness Mr. Toles than support Government fiscal responsibility. A Government where the books are balanced. Where the Government is not shaking down the taxpayer to make unworkable entitlement systems work. Mr. Toles your "fair distribution of goods and services in an economy" sounds like an update of Karl Marx and his "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Been tried, didn't work. If you want fairness Mr. Toles than promote a fiscally responsible Government. And promote entepreneurship. Public sector jobs cost the Government, us, money. Private sector jobs provide the Government, us, money. Isn't simplicity wonderful? It isn't quite the kryptonite the Left thinks that it is.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 6, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Finally, courtesy of Virginia and General Cuccinelli, climate change/warming/cooling/disruption theory will have a chance for real and binding debate. The royal, gold-plated, champagne room climate conferences that 'decided' for all of us that that this theory was beyond contestation (and just more meat for environmentalist lap dogs such as Toles) will finally be put under the microscope.

The Virginia State Motto: "SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS" (Latin for "thus always to tyrants") applies here.

Make fun of Cuccinelli all you want, Mr. Toles. Prepare for you and your views to be judged.

Posted by: pararanger22 | October 6, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Attorney General Cuccinelli is given the responsibility to protect Virginia taxpayers from fraud. Mr. Mann presented his hockey stick graph, complete with incomplete information, in his quest for grant money. The people of Virginia should be protected from possible deceptive practices used to secure their tax money for further research. Funny how the graph has been revised since it's original debut. But what did Mr. Mann care about midievel climate information? It didn't fit his agenda.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 6, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

The answer, Tom, is far more complicated and nuanced: More Government control. The social/government part of modern life isn't regressing to hunter-gatherer times, I'd say it's progressing to the days of Poland circa 1980. Progress.

Posted by: skinnynomore | October 6, 2010 2:21 AM | Report abuse

Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are sacred cows... untouchable. To reduce the deficit, how about reducing redundancy in government? I'll bet there are about 10,000 redundant jobs in the Federal Government. 10,000 cushy jobs lost! Too bad! Now those people can join the line of unemployed and apply for government money (our tax dollars) formerly their paycheck. Simplicity.

"The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other."
-Ronald Reagan

If the roots are unharmed, and the soil is good, things will grow in the spring.

Posted by: chaunceygardener | October 6, 2010 2:18 AM | Report abuse

Moore te, it's Global Climate Disruption now. Get it right or the 10:10 people will push a button and, well, you know.

Posted by: skinnynomore | October 6, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

The deficit is the major weapon that conservatives, recognized and subversive, will use in an attempt to annihilate social programs like medicare and social security. As more and more money is spent to service the interest on the national debt, options for social spending will vanish. Imagine what will happen when interest rates return to more normal levels.

Posted by: Cameades | October 6, 2010 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Jornolibist, it's called "climate change" not "global warming," because the overall warming of the globe causes severe climatic disruptions - cold, heat, drought, flooding, storms. But you already knew that, didn't you. I wonder what it's like to live in your paranoid world where thousands of evil scientists are conspiring to make everyone believe in climate change, because of course they are going to make millions - er, billions - from it - maybe you've been watching too much Spy Who Shagged Me.

Posted by: moore_te | October 6, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

That's exactly what Michael Mann might have said after he finished his manmade global warming hockey stick model and someone asked what about Russia?

Posted by: jornolibist | October 5, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

It's cold in Russia? Well this just changes everything.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | October 5, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

What does Michael Mann have to hide? Oh maybe something about the temperature declines he left out of his manmade global warming model Gore uses? If there is alllll this science proving man made global warming why don't you hear anything about Mann's ongoing global warming studies? It's got to be tough to get inspired about perpetuating the manmade global warming hoax when you're cold. Russian news just reported it looks like Russia will have the coldest winter in 1000 years and it could be the start of a new ice age. Polish scientists said something about the speed of the Gulf Stream....brrrrrrr.

Posted by: jornolibist | October 5, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

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