Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Golden Age vs Utopia Part 1A: Restoration vs Progress

The following is a comment I posted on Digby basically recasting the argument of Part 1. At some point I will try to provide a synthesis.
Conservatives don't believe in Progress with a capital P. I am not being flip, I have recently been examining Conservatism in its larger historical and cultural context and have convinced myself that the difference between Conservatives and non-Conservatives is not defined by capitalism, or authoritarianism, or even by religion as conventionally defined. Instead I see Conservatism as a continuum from pre-Christian European thought.

If you examine any of the mythic traditions of Europeans or better Indo-Europeans you see a clear pattern of devolution: in the beginning was the Golden Age of the gods, followed by the Silver Age of the heroes, finally terminating in the Bronze Age of mortal men. And even within the world of men there is thought to be a devolution, our grandfathers being more morally strong than us, and our remote ancestors even more so. It is also striking that these traditions are largely lacking in eschatology, there is very little sense of their being any kind of collective end times, and where you do see it as in Scandinavian Ragnorak it is seemingly imported from Christianity.

In this worldview everything good and true about the world is transmitted from the past to the present, and it is the paramount duty of man to conserve that transmitted truth and where practice has departed from tradition to restore it.

In contrast to conservatism is the Enlightenment. Some time during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries people almost abandoned the idea that all truth was to be found in Classicism on the one hand (Renaissance meaning literally re-birth) and folk knowledge and traditional law and ritual on the other (the Ancient Constitution) but that with Newton we could see farther because we were standing on the shoulders of giants. And with this came the idea of Progress and Utopianism that place the Golden Age in the future.

Utopianism is a mortal danger to Golden Age Conservatism, Change means abandoning the old and so tried and true, for the new which is inherently risky. From this perspective Conservatives are not worshipers of authoritarianism as such, only of that kind of authoritarianism that maintains the old order, which historically has manifested itself in the form of 'King and Church!'. Certainly they reject the kind of Utopian Authoritarianism manifested in Communism. Nor are Conservatives inherently selfish, within traditional structures they can be generous enough, it is just that their whole world view rejects the idea of progress towards Utopia via societal transformation. Which also explains their ambivalent relation to Christianity, it provides strength to traditional structure "Honor thy father and thy mother" while at the same time the Teachings of Jesus both challenge those structures directly AND point to an ideal future and/or end times in direct contrast to Conservative belief in a Golden Age in both the medium and long term past.

A lot of what seems like Conservative Evil to Progressives is simply a rejection of the whole concept of Progress to start with. Progressives look at the world and see it in dangerous need of improvement, Conservatives look at the world, see it as degraded and want to restore it to its past glories. Think of it as two people standing back to back each wondering why the other just can't see what they see so clearly. It is because Progressives are looking forward to a Bright Future and Conservatives are looking back at a Glowing Golden Past.

I am going to be developing this idea on my own blog, but I think it explains a lot about a whole range of Conservative thought from its strong attachment to partriarchy and traditional gender roles, to its acceptance of all types of traditional authority, to its resistance to the idea of drastic action on global warming. It is not just that they reject the slogan "Change we can believe in!", they don't believe in 'Change' to start with.

They are after all Conserve-atives.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Golden Age vs Utopia Part 1: a Different Reading of Conservatism

Over at Open Left Paul Rosenberg is leading a conversation focused on how liberals can counter the authoritarian streak characteristic of modern movement conservatism, one that allows conservatives to front counter-factual and contradictory arguments in favor of their positions. For example conservative Republicans are simultaneously arguing against cuts to Medicare and calling for a Bi-Partisan Commission to propose massive cuts to Medicare. At one level there is an incoherency at play but this is not because the argument is at bottom irrational, instead the key is to be found at the core of conservatism itself, something which is much older that current conceptions of 'left' and 'right' and even of 'liberty' and 'tyranny'. What distinguishes conservatism is orthogonal to each. But before discussing that a disclaimer. The following is based on a lifetime of reading, but is not a research paper. I don't have access to a major research library and most of my own library is in storage meaning I am working out of my own head without a safety net except a stray Google search or two. I fully stand behind what I write and will defend it on its own merits, but in the end it is a blog post, something meant to start discussion and not to definitively end it. With that in mind:

Conservatism as it name itself implies is all about holding on to what you have which in turn can manifest itself as selfishness, an attitude of "I've got mine, Jack". Equally it tends to manifest itself as a devotion to the established order which in turn means acceptance of ones own place in that order, which can manifest itself as subservience to authority. Additionally conservatives tend to accept established religion, even or especially when that religion is traditional and dependent on revealed truth. And finally many conservatives tend to be suspicious of novelty in thought which manifests itself as appearing to be close-minded and ignorant. All of which leads liberals to see conservatives as selfish, subservient, fundamentalist ignorami open to manipulation by the Becks, Palins and Limbaughs of this world. But I suggest that ignores the fountainhead of conservatism, a common factor that drives all of these manifestations. Instead the key is that Conservatives believe in the Golden Age, one that by definition occurred in the past.

The concept of the Golden Age lies deep within western myth and thought and can be summarized that the History of the World is one of decline. When you examine the deepest strata of European and indeed Indo-European thought you see a sequence that the Greeks identified as Golden, Silver, and Bronze. The Golden Age is that of the Gods, struggling amongst themselves and with their opponents the Titans or Giants. This Battle which ultimately results with the victory of the Gods is explicitly set at the Beginning of History. The subsequent period, the Silver Age, is marked by the lives, loves and struggles of the Heroes, demigods and men that are literally and figuratively larger than life. And then we come to the Age of Men. who in comparison to the 'Men of yore' are puny, almost inconsequential. That is traditional European society and thought was oriented to the past, to your ancestors, your tribal heroes and your tribal gods, all of whom might in various ways still be present but whose acts are explicitly set in the past.

Accompanying this belief in past ages of heroes and gods is the idea that older is better when it comes to law and ritual each of which is supposed to have been passed down unchanged from the hero or god who first set them down. Wherever you look in ancient European thought is that success in ritual and law depends on strict adhesion to the exact sequence of acts and language handed down from your ancestors, even as that language had developed in ways that the ancient words were quite meaningless to anyone but the priestly class, and often enough even to them. That is experts in Roman ritual report that certain words and actions were entirely traditional and their semantic import quite lost on more modern audiences.

Which gets us to the heart of conservatism, which in this context is just inherited thought of European (and perhaps Indo-European) predecessors, novelty is a bad thing and worse a dangerous thing. Because there are consequences to getting ritual wrong. Many years ago the Professor who introduced me to Celtic Mythology told the class something that jolted at least me: "The Ancient Greeks hated their gods". This was I think (deliberately) too strong, but in re-reading Greek, Celtic and Scandinavian mythology with this new insight it was abundantly clear that pre-Christian Europeans feared their gods and equally feared their dead, between whom there were no clear and fast lines (dead family blending into dead ancestors blending into heroes and then to the gods, none of whom were necessarily dead in a final sense at all). In Greek mythology the Erinyes the Furies, the goddesses charged with punishing transgressions by men were also known as the Eumenides, the Kindly Ones. Why the dichotomy? Professor O'Hehir explained it was the same reason the Irish almost always call the Fairies, who are after all tricksters who steal babies and replace them with changelings, 'The Good People'. Because they might be listening.

Examined in the light of this traditional mindset a lot of contemporary conservatism starts looking much more coherent. If you start from the fundamental premise that ideal order was established in the distant past by your ancestors and tribal gods and was handed down to you on strict conditions that you don't vary from that on penalty of visitation by those ancestors or the instruments of those gods (the Furies/Kindly Ones) the novelty not only isn't "Change you can believe in" it is inherently dangerous. And such beliefs easily extend themselves to a commitment to the current social and economic order which clearly exists with at least the forbearance and perhaps the approval of the invisible powers that be, in such a world view Divine Right of Kings and Patriarchy and Revealed Truth (and its counterpart resistance to Science, i.e. new knowledge) all merge into Cosmic Order.

What is absent from this Cosmic Order? Any idea of an ideal future. The essence of traditional European thought, which I am identifying with the basis of modern conservatism can be summed up as "There were giants in those days". And this doesn't just apply to the distant heroes of myth, it equally applies to your own ancestors: the pioneer, the immigrant who came to America with nothing, the grandparents that made it through the Depression by hard work and Faith, that is by sticking to traditions handed down from the distant past. Because that is what conservatives do.

If Conservatism is about venerating and where possible maintaining the Golden Age what is its counterpart? Well I suggest it is Utopianism, the idea that perfection lies at the End of Time and not the Beginning, in Christian terms in Heaven and not in Eden. And I suggest that it was through Christianity that the old European order was first challenged. Because Christ and the early Pauline Church is all about Change in preparation for the End Times, there is nothing about throwing money changers from the Temple, the Sermon on the Mount, and Pauline doubts about such things as traditional marriage (because "It is better to marry, than to burn" doesn't disguise that Paul and the early Church thought abstinence was the best path for ALL the truly faithful). And if we turn back to myth we see how problematic some of this was. In purely pre-Christian Greek myth there is little to no expression of a future heavenly state, certainly not for the masses. While certain heroes might expect to be elevated to the status of demigods or be transported to an island in the Far West, mostly the dead are confined to the dark of underground or night, they don't walk by day. And even in Celtic Myth whose texts were initially committed to text by Christians you only see hints of anything more definitive than that of the Greeks. Whereas Scandinavian myth is more conceptually confused. Its texts were first written down several centuries after the oldest Irish texts and so are more penetrated by Christian Eschatology. In particular the common Indo-European motif of the battle between the Gods and the Giants, which in Vedic, Greek and Celtic tradition are clearly set at the Beginning in Scandinavia Ragnorak gets set at the End of the World and come complete with a new creation myth, all of which creates a confusing mishmash that is an appropriate metaphor for modern conservative thought.

But despite the challenges Traditional European thought/conservatism was able to accommodate itself to Christianity and vice-versa as Christ the King came largely to supersede Christ the Redeemer and Popes and Kings alike claimed their powers were directly derived from God. But the late Middle Ages the Church had mostly inserted itself into the role of preserver of tradition and source of revealed religion, while never quite displacing ancestor worship and inherited law. By say 1500 AD the concept of the Christian Conservative was fully formed and to a large degree unchallenged.

Then started a period of a few centuries that presented Conservatism with a whole new set of challenges. Subject for a forthcoming post.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Minaret for Stonehenge

(this unfinished post was originally set for Angry Bear but started drifting in too political and idiosyncratic a way. I may or may not finish it, proceed at your own risk but feel free to comment)

Parts of the Left Blogosphere are ablaze with outrage over the recent Swiss vote to ban future construction of minarets. And given who was promoting the law and the current state of relations between various mostly immigrant islamic populations of western Europe and the larger communities of the various countries you would have to be a fool to deny that there is some bias entering the equation. But I think people need to step back and look at this in a larger context. Would you support a proposal to but a minaret next to Stonehenge? Or closer to home in any designated Historical District in any town or city in America? Would it be religious hatred to deny a permit to build a huge mosque in the center of Colonial Williamsburg? Because there is a Church with a steeple right at the center of Duke of Gloucester Street, wouldn't blocking a permit for a mosque of equivalent size and a minaret of the same height as the steeple be a priori proof of religious discrimination? http://www.history.org/Almanack/TourtheTown/flash.cfm

Well maybe. On the Planet Kumbaya. But don't expect a groundbreaking anytime soon, that a rule, regulation or law has an impact on the free exercise of religion does not a priori invalidate that rule or law, as a non-lawyer it seems to me that such a judgement rests on intent. More examples below.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Advice from a General

Gen. Anthony Zinni, USMC, (Ret.) Remarks at CDI Board of Directors Dinner, May 12, 2004
And what I thought I would do tonight is go through the ten crucial mistakes to this point that we've made. Because I think it helps frame what, in fact, has happened over time ... and is going to be the first part of that history. And I will conclude with maybe some thoughts on the way ahead, at least from my point of view.
Gen Zinni was CentCom Commander prior to Tommy Franks and in this days of demanding that we listen to the Commanders no matter what, some wonder why nobody wanted to listen to Tony Zinni in real time. There is a lot of selective memory going on about the period between Sept 11, 2001 and March 20, 2003 and equally about the events in Iraq and Afghanistan prior to the Surge announced in January 2007. There has been a tendency towards triumphalism among war supporters along the lines of "The Surge Worked" which totally ignores that Army Chief of Staff Shinseki was effectively sacked in 2003 because he testified to Congress that more troops would be needed, and that Zinni's reaction was in point 8 of the linked speech:
The eighth problem was the insufficiency of military forces on the ground. There were a lot more troops in my military plan for operations in Iraq. I know when that plan was presented, the secretary of defense said it was "old and stale." It sounded pretty new and fresh to me, and looking back at it, now because there were a hell of a lot more troops. It was more the (Eric) Shinseki model that I think might have been a hell of a lot more effective to freeze the situation. Those extra divisions we had in there were not to defeat the Republican Guard, they were in there to freeze the security situation because we knew the chaos that would result once we uprooted an authoritarian regime like Saddam's.
If Rumsfeld had just listened to his Generals we might not have had to waste four plus years and thousands of Americans dead that were in large part the result of going in too light the first time. Bush/Rumsfeld apologists themselves have a lot to apologize for. You screwed up and trusted the Neo-Cons. Bad move.

War is a racket.

Smedley Butler on Interventionism

-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Peterson Conspiracy: Cross Posted from Open Left

As they say, even paranoids have real enemies. In the last couple of weeks there has been a renewed effort to push the parallel bills Conrad-Gregg and Cooper-Wolf each of which would establish a Bi-Partisan Commission to tackle the 'Entitlements Crisis' by sending a set of proposals to Congress that could only be voted up or down on a model set by BRAC (the Base Realignment and Closure Commission of the 1990s. The current push is to attach this to whatever legislation is used to raise the Public Debt Ceiling, something that has to be done in the next few weeks to avoid defaulting on some interest payments. The problem is that Conrad-Gregg and Cooper-Wolf did not come out of nowhere and 'bi-partisan' does not mean what it would normally mean. Instead these bills exist to realize the vision of one man, a man who has founded and lavishly funded a series of 'Bi-Partisan' Institutions and Working Groups whose goals are, at times perhaps unknown to many of the participants in them, explicitly to destroy the crown jewel of the New Deal, that is Social Security, while also doing as much collateral damage to Medicare and Medicaid as possible in the process.

The man and his goal were revealed to the wider world in this important piece by William Grieder in the Nation last March Looting Social Security and was in fact the cover piece which had the result of having Peter G Peterson's face staring at you from the cover. Who is PGP? Well the Grieder article gives you a start, but suffice it to say that you couldn't make him or his career up, it reads more like an over the top conspiracy thriller than anything (though with less special effects and explosions). For today's purposes let us just start with his role as founder and funder of the Concord Coalition. Like most of PGPs efforts it is cast as a bi-partisan group devoted to fiscal responsibility and typically has titular leaders drawn from both parties. For example if we go to About the Concord Coalition
The Concord Coalition is a nationwide, non-partisan, grassroots organization advocating generationally responsible fiscal policy. The Concord Coalition was founded in 1992 by the late former Senator Paul Tsongas (D-Mass.), former Senator Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson. Former Senator Bob Kerrey (D-Ne.) was named a co-chair of the Concord Coalition in January 2002. The Concord Coalition is dedicated to educating the public about the causes and consequences of federal budget deficits, the long-term challenges facing America's unsustainable entitlement programs, and how to build a sound economy for future generations.
Bolding mine. For PGP and his like-minded colleagues, followers and employees the problem mostly start and stop with 'entitlements', a word whose existence largely owes itself to Peterson to begin with. The current head of Concord is Robert Bixby and its current main instrument is its Fiscal Wake Up Tour in which Bixby and former Comptroller General David Walker go around the country essentially selling 'Entitlements Crisis'. Now while Walker is invariably described by his former title and so an a more or less neutral observer, he actually has a day job with a somewhat more revealing title: President and CEO of the Peter G Peterson Foundation, itself endowed by PGP with a cool billion (with a 'b') dollars to promote its mission. About the PGPF On this page you will see the smiling faces of PGP himself and Walker and among other things a link to I.O.U.S.A.: the Movie itself a documentary of the Fiscal Wake Up Tour, which the About page proudly reports:
The Foundation awarded the Concord Coalition $1.5 million to expand its highly acclaimed Fiscal Wake-Up Tour, an urgent, bipartisan call for changes to America's fiscal policies in the tradition of Paul Revere.
. So lesson one. Anytime you see the names Robert Bixby or David Walker know that you are talking full time employees of the PGP founded Concord Coalition or the Peter G Peterson Foundation. Lesson two. Almost every time you see the buzzwords 'fiscal responsibility', 'bi-partisan' anything, 'intergenerational equity' odds are you are only one or two degrees of separation from a PGP entity or employee. But what does this have to do with Cooper-Wolf SAFE Commission. Well if we follow the link on the PGPF About page announcing the grant we find the following:
Partners in the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour include The Concord Coalition, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation. The Concord Coalition is a 501(c)3 organization focused on promoting federal fiscal responsibility.
What the hell is 'left-leaning' Brookings doing in this mix? Well there is a tale. Back in 2008 Brookings and Heritage announced the formation of their 'Fiscal Seminar' which in time produced the following report Facing Our Fiscal Future (PDF) itself signed by sixteen authors, seven from Brookings, three from similarly 'left leaning' the Urban Institute, and one from the Progressive Policy Institute. Certainly seems bi-partisan. Until you realize that PPI is the creation of signatory Will Marshall and was the prime vehicle for sending Clintonism down the DLC/New Democrat/Third Way which mostly adds up to 'Renouncing FDR and All His Works'. And that a bunch of the Brookings people are similarly Clinton-Rubinista Deficit Hawks like Alice Rivlin and that the Urban Institute people include similarly hawkish former CBO Director Robert Reischauer. Plus among the remaining signatories from the center to right we have Robert Bixby (again), Maya MacGuineas (an author of a draconian Social Security 'reform' plan known as Liebman-MacGuineas-Samwick or LMS), and Stuart Butler the author of a detailed plan from 1983 to undermine and kill Social Security under the charming name Social Security Reform: Achieving a "Leninist" Strategy (PDF) which has to be read to be believed. What do we find if we delve into Facing our Fiscal Future? Unsurprisingly we find a reprise of the central message of the Fiscal Wakeup Tour
The authors of this paper are longtime federal budget and policy experts who have been drawn together by a deep concern about the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook. Our group covers the ideological spectrum. We are affiliated with a diverse set of organizations. We have been meeting informally for over a year, under the auspices of The Brookings Institution and The Heritage Foundation, to define the dimensions and consequences of the looming federal budget problem, examine alternative solutions, and reach agreement on what should be done. Despite our diverse philosophies and political leanings, we have found solid common ground. We agree that: • Unsustainable deficits in the federal budget threaten the health and vigor of the American economy. • The first step toward establishing budget responsibility is to reform the budget decision process so that the major drivers of escalating deficits—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—are no longer on autopilot.
Once again the "ideological spectrum" means from barely center-left to right, and the only problem that matters is not military spending or regressive taxation, nope everything is the fault of Social Security and Medicare. And what is there solution? One establish a system of triggers that would automatically slash Social Security and Medicare benefits (and so keep Congress's hands clean when and if) or
Alternatively, the trigger process could require that a commission make recommendations for closing the gap to the president and Congress on which an up or down vote must be held.
. I.e. some version of Cooper-Wolf. Pete G Peterson and associates want to kill Social Security under the guise of 'fiscal responsibility'. And PGP has spent decades founding organizations largely or wholly devoted to that end and committed a billion dollars of his own money to do so. In the days and weeks to come look for the key words, starting not least with 'bi-partisan', and names like Bixby and Walker. These people are paid professional agents of the open conspiracy to roll back the New Deal. And that ain't paranoia talking. Follow the links.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Senate Health Care Bill & CBO Scoring

by Bruce Webb

The new Senate Health Care Bill (big PDF) and the CBO Score. The outlines were reported last night, an $894 billion bill offset with enough taxes and fees to produce a $127 billion ten year reduction in the projected deficit, plus another $650 reduction in the ten years after that. (Traditionally CBO limits itself to 10 year scores, but the Republicans asked for a longer time frame for the stimulus bill, goose and gander). Also widely reported, but not quite correctly was the news that the bill would extend coverage to 94% of all Americans, or alternately all American citizens. In fact once you include Medicare and exclude illegal immigrants the actual coverage for legal American residents rises to 98%.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Food Security in America: a comment on Hullabaloo

There is a lot of discussion in the blogosphere around this NYT article and the response to it from the right: Hunger in U.S. at a 14-Year High which includes this response from Robert Rectum, er Rector at Heritage
“Very few of these people are hungry,” said Robert Rector, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “When they lose jobs, they constrain the kind of food they buy. That is regrettable, but it’s a far cry from a hunger crisis.”
Which prompted well deserved outrage. But I tried to frame it a little differently over at Digby with the following and thought I would share it here.

There is a big difference between being hungry and being mal-nourished. Many third world people would likely shake their heads at the idea that anyone can starve in America, after all even the most meagre food stamp allocation would allow a family to buy enough corn meal and cooking oil to sustain life with maybe some potatoes and other root crops thrown in. Or alternately you could buy a fifty pound bag of rice. Or a bushel of oatmeal and some bacon trimmings. Whatever your heritage chances are that you have ancestors that lived day in and day out on that or less.

But we are not 21st century Sudan, 20th century China, 19th century Ireland, 17th century Scotland, there is no reason why Americans should not have access to balanced nutritional meals anymore than there is reason to deny them a change of clothes or a daily bath just because after all your great-great grandfather didn't have indoor plumbing.

I bring this up because it is a common rhetorical move from the right to argue that poor people in America are not really poor because they are fat, or have a TV, or a cell-phone. Or because in the end if they have a heart attack they will be admitted to the ER: "You can't be poor, look at how big your kids got eating government cheese".

I don't quite know how to counteract this move, there is nothing in the Declaration of Independence that promises 'life, liberty and the pursuit of a pizza and a side salad' but kids have a sense of injustice that goes beyond simple hunger pangs.

I wrote about this last Christmas Eve with a post called 'Why Does Santa Hate Poor Kids'
Because most every year every kid in poverty learns a hard lesson, rich kids get lavish gifts from Santa and dollar bills from the Tooth Fairy and big Easter Baskets from the Easter Bunny, while poor kids get squat. Which is a pretty fine way to socialize kids into just accepting their proper role in society.

So I don't know how much actual biologic hunger there is in this country, but people and especially children deserve something better than simple subsistence, that you can live on rice and beans doesn't mean that you should when all around you are living in relative lavishness. Did Charlie of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" REALLY need that chocolate bar? Well yes he did and not just because his stomach was growling.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thoughts on trying Terrorists in NYC

Article III Section 2 - Trial by Jury, Original Jurisdiction, Jury Trials

"The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed."

Of course we have it from the highest authority that the Constitution is just a god damn piece of paper and where it isn't that Article II Section 2 obviously rules over all other Articles and that pesky Bill of Rights.

Trial by jury? In New York? Where do these anti-American terrorist lovers come up with crazy shit like that?

How do mature societies deal with this?

"We are not afraid to ride public transportation.

We are not afraid to walk down a crowded street.

We are not afraid of each other.

We are not afraid to say that terrorism in any form is never the answer.

We’re not afraid is an outlet for the global community to speak out against the acts of terror that have struck London, Madrid, New York, Baghdad, Basra, Tikrit, Gaza, Tel-Aviv, Afghanistan, Bali, and against the atrocities occurring in cities around the world each and every day. It is a worldwide action for people not willing to be cowed by terrorism and fear mongering.

The historical response to these types of attacks has been a show of deadly force; we believe that there is a better way. We refuse to respond to aggression and hatred in kind. Instead, we who are not afraid will continue to live our lives the best way we know how. We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

We are not afraid."

Conservatives are fond of mocking people for adopting a "Pre-9/11 Mindset" as if not living in a state of constant fear and paranoia and xenophobia is somehow a bad thing. This doesn't mean not being vigilant, it means not dismissing written intelligence warnings titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States".

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Read the Bill! Part 3; and a possible reading error

by Bruce Webb

On July 28th I put up a post on what I considered to be the most important provision of the Tri-Committee Bill as introduced. The post was called Sec 116: Golden Bullet or Smoking Gun

(a) IN GENERAL.—A qualified health benefits plan shall meet a medical loss ratio as defined by the Commissioner. For any plan year in which the qualified health benefits plan does not meet such medical loss ratio, QHBP offering entity shall provide in a manner specified by the Commissioner for rebates to enrollees of payment sufficient to meet such loss ratio.

(b) BUILDING ON INTERIM RULES.—In implementing subsection (a), the Commissioner shall build on the definition and methodology developed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under the amendments made by section 161 for determining how to calculate the medical loss ratio. Such methodology shall be set at the highest level medical loss ratio possible that is designed to ensure adequate participation by QHBP offering entities, competition in the health insurance market in and out of the Health Insurance Exchange, and value for consumers so that their premiums are used for services.
A Qualified Health Benefit Plan or QHBP is one that meets all the requirements outlined in the bill to be qualified for the Health Insurance Exchange itself scheduled to start on Jan. 1, 2013. Among those requirements is compliance with the detailed Acceptable Benefits Package whose fine points are to be established by the Health Benefits Advisory Committee who will be appointed after enactment of the bill. Premiums of a QHBP will be governed by requirements to meet a set Medical Loss Ratio whose set point will be established in accordance with principles set out in Sec 161.

All of this is clearly forward looking, a procedure is being set out that will govern insurance plans once the Exchange is established and three years are given to get the Health Choices Commissioner and the HBAC in place, for the MLR methodology to be established, for the final benefits package to be defined, to get all of that through the pubulication process, and to go through contract negotiations with the various insurance companies in time to meet the Jan 1, 2013 deadline. Altogether a pretty ambitious schedule, but one necessary to govern the Exchange going FORWARD.

On October 29th, a new and somewhat re-organized bill was introduced which included a whole new Title I called Immediate Reforms which were to go into effect right away on enactment of the bill. This included some truly new proposals including a new high risk pool to cover current uninsured between now and the start of the Exchange, plus a provision that allows family plans to cover children up to the age of 26. plus it moved some other protections on pre-existing conditions and prohibition of recessions forward. But it also did something curious, and ultimately inexplicable, it also moved the provisions of Sec 116 forward. In the new bill the equivalent language to Sec 116 is found in new Sec 102

(a) Group Health Insurance Coverage- Title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act is amended by inserting after section 2713 the following new section:

`(a) In General- Each health insurance issuer that offers health insurance coverage in the small or large group market shall provide that for any plan year in which the coverage has a medical loss ratio below a level specified by the Secretary (but not less than 85 percent), the issuer shall provide in a manner specified by the Secretary for rebates to enrollees of the amount by which the issuer's medical loss ratio is less than the level so specified.
`(b) Implementation- The Secretary shall establish a uniform definition of medical loss ratio and methodology for determining how to calculate it based on the average medical loss ratio in a health insurance issuer's book of business for the small and large group market. Such methodology shall be designed to take into account the special circumstances of smaller plans, different types of plans, and newer plans. In determining the medical loss ratio, the Secretary shall exclude State taxes and licensing or regulatory fees. Such methodology shall be designed and exceptions shall be established to ensure adequate participation by health insurance issuers, competition in the health insurance market, and value for consumers so that their premiums are used for services.
`(c) Sunset- Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to health insurance coverage on and after the first date that health insurance coverage is offered through the Health Insurance Exchange.'.
(b) Individual Health Insurance Coverage- Such title is further amended by inserting after section 2753 the following new section:

`The provisions of section 2714 shall apply to health insurance coverage offered in the individual market in the same manner as such provisions apply to health insurance coverage offered in the small or large group market except to the extent the Secretary determines that the application of such section may destabilize the existing individual market.'.
(c) Immediate Implementation- The amendments made by this section shall apply in the group and individual market for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2010, or as soon as practicable after such date.
Okay the language is a little more bureaucratic and comes in the form of inserting new language into an existing title the Public Health Service Act but otherwise it is all the same thing, just old wine in new bottles. Right? Oh, oh, maybe not.

Yesterday on the assumption that it was the same thing I put up a post at Angry Bear STILL the Most Important Sentence in the House HC Bill citing only the (a) section. Commenter Gerald Weinand who took my advice to closely read the bill added this
Subsection (c) reads:
‘(c) Sunset- Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to health insurance coverage on and after the first date that health insurance coverage is offered through the Health Insurance Exchange.’.

I read through Title III. A. Sec. 304 and didn't see any refernce there to MLR's at all. Is the 85% established for policies offered through the exchange?
Well I was thrown for a loop. Instead of the orderly process set out in Sec 116 to establish rules for an Exchange that would start three years out via a scheduled process overseen by people to be appointed we have new rules that are subject to "Immediate Implementation" and which SUNSET on the day the Exchange opens. Moreover you can search through the bill as Gerald did and as I belatedly did and not find any specific mechanism to govern profits AFTER establishment of the Exchange.

I am not sure what to say, I only had this pointed out to me late last night, but my current thinking is that someone, somehow just screwed up. In their zeal to get certain protections in place right away they swept Sec 116 which clearly is focused on a FUTURE Exchange and tried to enforce its requirements on the current market. Which leads to some curious problems of language. What does ''adequate participation' mean in reference to an existing market? What about ensuring 'competition'? This language which makes perfect sense in the context of a competitive future exchange is pretty odd when applied to a market that already exists. Plus how do you immediately implement a methodology that has yet to be developed? How do you apply a process that mandates rebates on plans that are already in place based on MLRs that are on average about four points under the minimum set out in the legislation? Does every company in America expected to rebate 5% of its current premiums?

Well I got more questions than answers. But one partial solution is to get everyone on one page. Up to now people have been forced to rely on the original Tri-Committee Bill as introduced, only after Oct 29th did we have access to the bill as brought to the floor of the House, which induced some people, okay me, to read it too quickly. Well we now have some breathing room to examine the House Bill as passed with Amendments, Previously I had been linking to and using PDF versions which were pretty clumsy to navigate. The following link is to the bill as passed and engrossed, and should I think be the starting point for future discussion. ttp://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c111:2:./temp/~c1113ofzd6::
If that link is unstable you can Google it or use this pdf version:

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Abortion Coverage and Health Care Reform: an e-mail exchange

The following is the last (for now) stage of an e-mail exchange with my reply leading off. I deleted names not because any of the views expressed are in any way embarrassing but because I didn't get permission. Hopefully none of them will get too mad at me. But I thought my reply addressed a larger issue and I wanted to save it.

Me to (Man 1) I think you are missing the larger point. The argument for including abortion as a covered service is not at basis an economic one but instead stems from two deeper philosophic disputes: the separation of Church and State and the nature of a patriarchal society. I mean where do you stop? There are religious arguments against circumcism. And Christian Scientists have a valid argument that they shouldn't have to pay for the medical health care of others, particularly as their own practices are excluded. That is to the degree that objections to abortion are authentically based on religion enforcing those beliefs is a violation of the establishment clause.

But I don't believe these objections are actually religiously based, or rather that those religious objections are ultimately not based on any devotion to the principle of sanctity of life. For example immediately after Moses delivered the Ten Commandments to the Chosen including "Thou shalt not kill" his Lieutenant and Successor Joshua led his people into the Promised Land and exterminated nearly all its inhabitants excepting the one city whose people they saved to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, i.e. slaves. (I strongly suspect that the original Hebrew carried the meaning 'murder' and not 'kill'-in ancient law as today two very different concepts) So if the fundamental objection is not religious as such, or if the religious objection itself derives from some source other than the sanctity of life then from where does it derive?

Well the answer is pretty clear, from the same motive that would have women wear burqas or have widows perform purdah (religious suicide after a husband's death) or condemning women to death for BEING raped or having eunuchs as harem guards or in milder form strictly imposing the principle of chaperonage. That is whether you look at this from the biological or anthropological or sociological or historical perspective it is blindingly obvious that men are fundamentally driven by a desire to control the sexuality of "their" women whether that be consort or dependent. Thus the danger of birth control and abortion is that one of "your" women may be having sex with someone else without your knowledge and perhaps worse enjoying it more, and that you will never know. That this cross-cultural imperative has ended up embedded into those cultures religious practices is perfectly natural but let us not fool ourselves into thinking that its origins are spiritually based in some concept of the sanctity of life. Scratch the surface of anyone of 'God's children' and you can see the jealous baboon hidden inside. These guys are just defending the pack against outsiders who want access to the females. Pandering to this desire is just government enforcement of the basest kind of patriarchy.

Sure we could and probably should set up an alternative form of financing for abortion but ultimately being only a little bit of a slave is like only being a little bit pregnant, the question is whether women should be autonomous or not. Me I am a sucker for freedom and equality.

On Nov 8, 2009, at 9:03 AM, Man 1 wrote:

i am hoping i understand this: without being robbed by the insurance companies, most women would have enough money to pay for their own abortion if they needed one. at least that's close to the point i am trying to make. i fail to understand how that would "hold another person and their right to freedom of choice captive to religious, moral, and political motivations." rather the opposite. it seems to me that (Man X) is the one trying to hold others captive to HIS religious, moral, and political motivations. It seems to be impossible to convince people who think they don't have religious views that that IS a religious view.

if you (he) are seriously saying that not only does a woman have a right to an abortion (i agree) but she has a right to a government paid abortion, i hope you can see why you drive "conservatives" crazy.

On Nov 8, 2009, at 4:40 AM, Woman 1 wrote:

I assume that within less than ten years, an abortion case will go to
the Supreme Court, challenging that portion of the law. As the
non-profit or reduced profit players in health care see their fat
profits dry up, the case might even be brought by, or supported by

Either way, general prosperity will expand when the punitive burden of
health coverage is lifted. There may not be money available for a
particular woman, but the numbers of women having the means will rise.

(Woman 1)~off to read the news this morning~

On Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 9:42 PM, (Man 2) > wrote:
(Man 1):

Save how for an abortion? With a declining income that has been undermined
for the last 30 years with increased expenses, lower paying jobs, denial of
equality, and a lack of opportunity. I find it reprehensible a political
party would hold another person and their right to freedom of choice captive
to religious, moral, and political motivations.

We will fund healthcare for cancer caused by smoking, we will fund
healthcare for those who over eat and suffer from diabetes, we will fund
healthcare for those who choose to use their heads as a battering ram on the
highways of America from riding motorcycles, we will fund healthcare for
those who abuse themselves from over dosing on drugs and alcohol; but god
forbid, a teen or the lady driving Reagan's Pink Cadillac gets pregnant and
it is then we choose to become self-righteous

Sunday, November 01, 2009

HR676: Political Fool's Gold

In discussions around the blogosphere about HR3962, the House Health Care Bill, some individuals suggest that at 1990 pages it was simply bloated and used the 30 page HR676 (Single Payer) as a clean, easy, effective alternative. Which led me to wonder "How the Hell can you reform the entire U.S. Code as it relates to health care in 30 pages?" So I read the bill and found out that it is a mirage. HR676 is so far from a political starter as to be literally laughable. To see why I offer some language and interpretation.
One of the most fervent promoters of HR676 is Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and who naturally have a web page with all kinds of resources for defenders, including of course a link to the full text of the bill. So as a public service I suggest people wanting to push back on my analysis start there: http://www.pnhp.org/publications/united_states_national_health_care_act_hr_676.php

What I propose is a section by section analysis of the bill in real terms at each point asking the question "How do you sell this?" I don't think you can, once you get beyond the aspiration of Universal Single Payer, one which I share fully, there really is nothing here. So---
(a) SHORTTITLE.—This Act may be cited as the ‘‘United States National Health Care Act or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act’’.
(b) TABLEOFCONTENTS.—The table of contents of this Act is as follows:
Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Definitions and terms
Sec. 101. Eligibility and registration.
Sec. 102. Benefits and portability.
Sec. 103. Qualification of participating providers.
Sec. 104. Prohibition against duplicating coverage.
Subtitle A—Budgeting and Payments
Sec. 201. Budgeting process.
Sec. 202. Payment of providers and health care clinicians.
Sec. 203. Payment for long-term care.
Sec. 204. Mental health services.
Sec. 205. Payment for prescription medications, medical supplies, and medically necessary assistive equipment.
Sec. 206. Consultation in establishing reimbursement levels.
Subtitle B—Funding
Sec. 211. Overview: funding the USNHC Program.
Sec. 212. Appropriations for existing programs.
Sec. 301. Public administration; appointment of Director.
Sec. 302. Office of Quality Control.
Sec. 303. Regional and State administration; employment of displaced clerical workers.
Sec. 304. Confidential Electronic Patient Record System.
Sec. 305. National Board of Universal Quality and Access.
Sec. 401. Treatment of VA and IHS health programs.
Sec. 402. Public health and prevention.
Sec. 403. Reduction in health disparities.
Sec. 501. Effective date.

Sec. 101: "(a) IN GENERAL.—All individuals residing in the United States (including any territory of the United States) are covered under the USNHC Program entitling them to a universal, best quality standard of care."

"(c) PRESUMPTION.—Individuals who present themselves for covered services from a participating provider shall be presumed to be eligible for benefits under this Act, but shall complete an application for benefits in order to receive a United States National Health Insurance Card and have payment made for such benefits."

Meaning that undocumented workers and people on student and work visas are covered fully. A further provision covers tourists and visitors but provides some vague language about reimbursement and payment by the home country.

(a) IN GENERAL.—The health care benefits under this Act cover all medically necessary services, including at least the following: (1) Primary care and prevention. (2) Inpatient care. (3) Outpatient care. (4) Emergency care. (5) Prescription drugs. (6) Durable medical equipment. (7) Long-term care. (8) Palliative care. (9) Mental health services. (10) The full scope of dental services (other than cosmetic dentistry). (11) Substance abuse treatment services. (12) Chiropractic services. (13) Basic vision care and vision correction (other than laser vision correction for cosmetic purposes). (14) Hearing services, including coverage of hearing aids. (15) Podiatric care. (b) PORTABILITY.—Such benefits are available through any licensed health care clinician anywhere in the United States that is legally qualified to provide the benefits. (c) NO COST-SHARING.—No deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, or other cost-sharing shall be imposed with respect to covered benefits."

I particularly like the "at least". Want weekly chiropractic and acupuncture visits? Designer prescription sunglasses? Six-months at the Betty Ford Clinic? You got it, and at ZERO out-of-pocket expense. Great for that undocumented landscaper with a bad back or for hypochondriacs, but ya think this might get kind of expensive overall?

(1) IN GENERAL.—No institution may be a participating provider unless it is a public or not-for-profit institution. Private physicians, private clinics, and private health care providers shall continue to operate as private entities, but are prohibited from being investor owned."

Sorry Walgreens and Payless, goodbye Perle Vision, and oh yeah if you want to open a mental health clinic anywhere be sure to able to finance it on your own. And don't make a profit on selling any product or service. What about existing institutions? Not to worry-Uncle Sam will compensate you for "reasonable financial losses incurred as a result of the conversion from for-profit to non-profit status. "

(a) IN GENERAL.—It is unlawful for a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this Act"

Subtitle A—Budgeting and Payments

The government pays for everything including construction of health facilities and all equipment.


All health care institutions get paid a single monthly payment. Physicians, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, nurse practioners can either be salaried or get payment on a single set fee schedule. Which allows no variation because it will be established with the following criteria.

"(B) CONSIDERATIONS.—In establishing such schedule, the Director shall take into consideration the following:
(i) The need for a uniform national standard.
(ii) The goal of ensuring that physicians, clinicians, pharmacists, and other medical professionals be compensated at a rate which reflects their expertise and the value of their services, regardless of geographic region and past fee schedules."

"Subtitle B—Funding"

"(c) FUNDING.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—There are appropriated to the USNHC Trust Fund amounts sufficient to carry out this Act from the following sources:
(A) Existing sources of Federal Government revenues for health care.
(B) Increasing personal income taxes on the top 5 percent income earners.
(C) Instituting a modest and progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income.
(D) Instituting a small tax on stock and bond transactions. "

Okay we will tax the top 5 percent of income at some unknown rate plus payroll at some unknown but graduated rate plus a similar unknown transaction tax. Good luck to the CBO in scoring that. Because they'll need it.

Title III: Administration

Set up bureaucracy

Title IV: Other provisions


(a) VA HEALTH PROGRAMS.—This Act provides for health programs of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to initially remain independent for the 10-year period that begins on the date of the establishment of the USNHC Program. After such 10-year period, the Congress shall reevaluate whether such programs shall remain independent or be integrated into the USNHC Program.
(b) INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE PROGRAMS.—This Act provides for health programs of the Indian Health Service to initially remain independent for the 5-year period that begins on the date of the establishment of the USNHC Program, after which such programs shall be integrated into the USNHC Program. "

Likely elimination of the VA system. Certain elimination of IHS.

Title V: Effective date

Except as otherwise specifically provided, this Act shall take effect on the first day of the first year that begins more than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply to items and services furnished on or after such date."

Oh yeah and we will get the conversion of the entire health care delivery system from for-profit to non-profit including all necessary buy-outs in a single year.

Sorry, this is not a serious policy proposal, this is an aspirational manifesto that would take the U.S. health system far beyond even the British NHS. Under this system only the ultra-rich could ever dream of having a private room or a private nurse, everyone else is reduced to the lowest common denominator. It is common to hear commenters saying "no one is contemplating a government take-over of the medical system" or "no one is proposing an NHS system". Well sorry this is exactly that. The only terms that describe a system that makes all for-profit delivery of all medical, dental, mental health, substance abuse, vision and long-term care ILLEGAL and further makes any private insurance supplements ILLEGAL would set off all kinds of rhetorical alarms.

Progressives come on! I don't care how much of a bleeding heart you may have but do you really want to go to the country on the platform of "We provided universal free coverage to all illegal immigrants while abolishing the VA hospital system, oh and the Pharmacy section at your supermarket. Vote for us!" This is not serious policy, this is just posturing for effect. This bill demagogues itself.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Health Care Exchange: Eligibility vs. Enrollment

(cross-posted at Angry Bear)

In the near four months since it passed out of Committee there has been little discussion of the Senate HELP Bill and the reason is clear, Max Baucus made it clear that Senate Finance would write a bill from the ground up. What this has meant is that the basis for comparing and contrasting alternate bills has been HR3200, the House Tri-Committee Bill. There are three main bills that have been presented in opposition to HR3200 with the Senate Finance Committee coming at it from the center-right while Wyden's Free Choice Act and HR676, Single Payer, coming from the left.

The major critiques of HR3200 have focused around the Public Option, with SFC debating whether it should even be part of the bill, while the Free Choice Act and HR676 arguing that it is too weak. This latter set of arguments seems to me largely driven by a profound misreading of the bill that may in its turn be driven by ideology from the Single Payer Now folk that have combined into a toxic stew that has led both the original HR3200 and his successor to be labeled in the harshest possible ways.

In the eyes of many progressives the problem with the PO is that it is just too cramped and limited to a "small sliver" of the American people, that "200 million people" will find it unavailable, that only people who are currently uninsured can get it, and so on. Well none of that is right, but seeing why will take some lengthy quotation and parsing, which for those interested can be found under the fold.

During the campaign Obama promised people that if they liked their current insurance they could keep it, and the bill does that, but what too many people took away is the idea that if they had current insurance, particularly through their employer that they HAD to keep it, that only those people who didn't have coverage at all, mostly the young, the self-employed, and workers in small businesses, would be served by the Exchange and the PO. Well lets go to the text, in this case the new House Bill.
(a) ACCESS TO COVERAGE.—In accordance with this section, all individuals are eligible to obtain coverage through enrollment in an Exchange-participating health benefits plan offered through the Health Insurance Exchange unless such individuals are enrolled in another qualified health benefits plan or other acceptable coverage. (p.156)
The key word here is "enrolled". Under the bill if your employer offers you insurance it has to be in the form of a Qualified Health Benefits Plan or QHBP, meaning that it has to meet all the accessibility, affordability and coverage provisions applicable to an Exchange plan which should mean in practice there would be little advantage to getting a QHBP Plan inside or outside the Exchange. So the bill writers and subsequently the CBO built in the assumption that most people who accept employer coverage, to the degree that they added a provision for employers to auto-enroll employees in the lowest cost plan offered by the employer. This process led many people to believe they were then simply locked into the company plan. Well not so fast, NOTHING permently locks you in, instead you have a number of different opt-out options.

Now one not acceptble option is simply not to have insurance at all, there are some religious exceptions but under the Individual Responsibility section there is a requirement for individuals to prove they have 'Acceptable Coverage'. And what is that?
(2) ACCEPTABLE COVERAGE.—For purposes of
this division, the term ‘‘acceptable coverage’’ means
any of the following:
(A) QUALIFIED HEALTH BENEFITS PLAN COVERAGE.—Coverage under a qualified health benefits plan.
(B) GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE; COVERAGE UNDER CURRENT GROUP HEALTH PLAN.—Coverage under a grand- fathered health insurance coverage (as defined in subsection (a) of section 202) or under a current group health plan (described in sub- section (b) of such section).
(C) MEDICARE.—Coverage under part A of title XVIII of the Social Security Act.
(D) MEDICAID.—Coverage for medical assistance under title XIX of the Social Security Act, excluding such coverage that is only available because of the application of subsection (u), (z), or (aa) of section 1902 of such Act.
Coverage under chapter 55 of title 10, United States Code, including similar coverage furnished under section 1781 of title 38 of such Code.
(F) VA.—Coverage under the veteran’s health care program under chapter 17 of title 10 United States Code.
(G) OTHER COVERAGE.—Such other health benefits coverage, such as a State health benefits risk pool, as the Commissioner, in coordination with the Secretary of the Treasury, recognizes for purposes of this paragraph.
Well that is clear enough, an individual meets his responsibility requirement by showing he is covered under his employer plan, his spouse's employer plan, perhaps a parent's family plan or by a range of other public insurance plans. And in any of those latter situations the employee can opt-out of new employer coverage offers. But one of these opt-out possibilities is somewhat hidden here, that is the one that allows any employee to opt-out of employer coverage altogether and get an individual or group plan through the Exchange, including the PO, because in doing so he would meet the requirement of (A), the Public Option is explicitly defined as a QHBP. So where did the idea that the PO was only for the uninsured and was so limited to a fraction of the population arise?

Well a couple of places. First as noted the expectation is that most new employees without health insurance would simply enroll in whatever employer supplied plan level that met their needs, and that those who failed to do so would simply be auto-enrolled by the employer as provided in Sec 412 (c)
(1) IN GENERAL.—The requirement of this subsection with respect to an employer and an employee is that the employer automatically enroll such employee into the employment-based health benefits plan for individual coverage under the plan option with the lowest applicable employee premium.
(2) OPT-OUT.—In no case may an employer automatically enroll an employee in a plan under paragraph (1) if such employee makes an affirmative election to opt out of such plan or to elect coverage under an employment-based health benefits plan offered by such employer. An employer shall provide an employee with a 30-day period to make such an affirmative election before the employer may automatically enroll the employee in such a plan. (p. 273-4)
If the employee does opt-out during that 30 days he is not "enrolled" and so falls under the definition of "exchange eligible individual" as defined in Sec 302. At which point the provisions of Sec 411 (3) kick in:
Beginning with Y2, if an employee declines such offer but otherwise obtains coverage in an Exchange- participating health benefits plan (other than by reason of being covered by family coverage as a spouse or dependent of the primary insured), the employer shall make a timely contribution to the Health Insurance Exchange with respect to each such employee in accordance with section 413.
In short you are 'exchange eligible' unless you ACCEPT enrollment or ALLOW yourself to be auto-enrolled. On my reading there is no such thing as a lockout for any given individual, if you want the PO you can get it, though not without taking some positive action.

But what about employers? Why are they locked out of the Exchange and the PO? Well the answer is that they aren't, at least not permanently, that is simply the result of misunderstanding the language governing 'transition'. Subject for another post.

Friday, October 30, 2009

HR3962: the new House Bill and its Scoring

by Bruce Webb

Well I have been venturing around the blogosphere and it is grievously clear that most people did not take my advice and Read the Bill!. Well it is not too late: http://docs.house.gov/rules/health/111_ahcaa.pdf (3.3 MB) Moreover CBO followed up with their preliminary analysis:

The above image is Table 2 and it shows the before (current law) and after numbers. There is a substantial amount of confusion on this with some people adding where instead they should be subtracting and I'll have to admit while I got the arithmetic operation I mislabeled the results elsewhere. So lets sort it out.

Under current, pre-reform law CBO projected that by 2019 there would be 54 million uninsured American residents, which figure includes undocumented workers. Since under current political conditions it is impossible to extend real reform to include "illegals" any solution will be by nature incomplete. In the case at hand CBO projects that the House bill would extend coverage to 36 million residents leaving 18 million without insurance. Of that 18 million a third or 6 million will be "illegals" leaving 12 million legal non-elderly residents without coverage (some people have tried to add 18 + 12 to get to 30, going the wrong way down One Way Math Street). This 12 million number will include both the so-called 'invincibles' who would rather pay the fine than get coverage as well as people who are Medicaid eligible but for whatever reasons can't manage the paperwork labyrinth. But generally if you are a legal resident of the U.S. who wants insurance you will be able to get it. (Affordability is another question, I think the bill contains adequate provisions for that, others will have differing opinions, we can fight that out in comments or on subsequent posts).

In percentages that adds up to 94% of the total non-elderly population up from 81% today, while it is 96% of the legal non-elderly population, up from 83% today. Not exactly the Universal Single Coverage that people like me would like, but still closing roughly 75% of the gap. Not bad considering the somewhat artificial restraints of both keeping the bill's cost under $900 billion AND making it deficit neutral over the ten year window.

(Minor note. People are still referring to 'HR3200' but as you can see the bill number has changed to 'HR3962'

(Cross-posted at Angry Bear)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Early English Land Law, Freedom and Property Rights: in 800 Words or Less

Well I am kidding about the 800 words, but in truth you could fill many bookshelves with authoritative works on these topics individually and in combination, and most of those books remain unread by me or were read decades ago. Making this an impressionistic piece that will sound a lot more definitive than it is. If you wan't to fix it simply do a mental pause and insert a 'probably', 'apparently', or 'this blogger believes' about every two sentences and you will possibly approach the appropriate balance.

When the Germans first appear in European historical sources in the first centuries B.C. it is not clear that they had any settled idea of property rights in land. Certainly they had inherited from their Indo-European speaking ancestors the concept of the 'ham', the 'home' or better 'homestead', but also town or village as in Notting-ham or hamlet. What makes a 'homestead'? Well I would go along with Fustel de Coulanges, author of the classic the Ancient City, that it is marked by an enclosure (that may or may not double as a barrier for men or beasts) and a central hearth, and indeed that idea has come down to us today in the form of 'hearth and home'. But this home was not to be permanently associated with a particular piece of ground among the Continental Germans, not for many centuries, instead the German home could be relocated and re-established. Which was a good thing because in the fifteen hundred years roughly bounded by 700BC and 800AD the Germans were on the march in Europe as this old-fashioned but attractive map shows us: http://www.emersonkent.com/map_archive/germanic_migrations.htm.

This mass movement was not uncontested nor did it totally displace the previous inhabitants, Spain remained Iberian (Both "Spain' and 'Iberia' are pre-German conquest words) and France remained largely Celtic, though it did take on the national name of its Germanic conquerors the Franks and the German rulers of North Africa and Spain were ultimately pushed back by the Arabs, Meanwhile what the Romans called Germania was in turn under pressure from new people from the East including the Huns and Magyars. http://z.about.com/d/ancienthistory/1/0/7/N/2/shepherd-c-038-039.jpg

I am not concerned, or honestly well enough informed, to discuss the political, economic, and social organization of the German invasions/conquests in Southern France, Spain, North Africa or Italy, except to say they seem to have generally adopted Mediterranean customs themselves oriented on the City and so the City State, something that is by nature centered and permanent and corporate. Instead I want to look at Northern Europe and particularly Britain as the Germans transitioned from a condition of mass movement of peoples to final settlement.

Ancient Germany, from which the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes emerged to conquer what became known as Angle-Land or England was not a land of cities. It had cities, particularly in the West, and its kings and nobles had fortified places for defense where they might reside on a semi-permanent basis, but primarily it was a land of villages. Nor were these villages always co-terminous, between the cleared area of the village and fields there would be stretches of forest to which the villagers would claim various levels of customary use. This doesn't mean that Germans were simply atomized into individual villages, instead they had the concept of the 'land' and the 'land lord', too they had the 'kingdom', the 'people' and the 'king' and their was an acknoweldged identiy between nation and territory even as the bounds of that territory moved as the nation or tribe did, but my contention is that they had no equivalent of the modern conception of property ownership, that every square inch of land belongs to someone or something. I'll go further and surmise that even the 'allod', property that is held free and clear of all encumbrances is foreign to original German conceptions and that while the dictionaries tell us that any relation between 'allod' and 'allot' is fanciful false etymology there is some evidence that when Germans moved into new territory that they did divide the use of the land up by share, and that like many ancient peoples let this allocation up to the Gods by reinterpreting what may seem to us like random events (birds flying this way or that, reading entrails, or indeed rolling dice). So fanciful coincidence or not I am going to suggestion reading the German allod as alloted share of the cleared area plus and equivalent allocation of rights to the common areas of the tribe or village.

(My knowledge of Roman Civil Law is skin deep, so feel free to jump in in comments on this next part)
Roman Law has various terms that together cover what we think of property rights today. We have 'usus'/use, 'possessio'/possession, and 'ius'/lawful right. And each may lie in different hands at any given time. moreover there may well be any numbers of layers, or example both German king and peasant alike may have degrees of possession, use and right over the same piece of dirt and there might well be some sort of land lord in between. In this schema tax, rent, and produce are simply different names for what is in origin a more or less equitable claim by each on the use.

In the next installment I will try to localize this to Anglo-Saxon England and then draw in the concept of freedom and then equality.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What the Bruce Web (and Bruce himself) isn't

Okay a disclaimer. I left academia 16 years ago and have not had access to a major research library since whereas for many of the twenty years before that I worked as a part-time student or full-time career employee in the Library of the University of California at Berkeley, which at the time was and probably still is the biggest research library west of the Mississippi. Moreover for most of that time my job was as a bibliographer in the Department that among other things handled inter-library lending and borrowing meaning I had potential access to just about any academic monograph or journal article in the world and the training to search it out. These days I have a public library and Google and an increasingly dated amount of wetware knowledge sloshing around between my ears. I try to be rigorous in my approach and source where I can but in the end these are daily blog posts and not researched seminar presentations and certainly not based on being current with the literature.

So I welcome criticism, even within limits ridicule, and even more so criticism and ridicule that comes with accessible links to relevant material, just understand that these posts are designed to start conversations and not settle them definitively.

F.W. Maitland: Great English Historian? or Greatest?

Maitland: an Index
Well I am biased but for anyone interested it his the history of property law as it developed from pre-Norman Conquest times Maitland is indispensable. And since he died in 1906 most of his work is available in the public domain, the link is to PDFs of his published works including most noteably Domesday Book and Beyond, which uses the great land survey of 1086 as a jumping off point for exploring the centuries which came before and (with Pollack) the History of English Law Down to the Time of Edward I (i.e. 1282)

I am going to be doing some backfilling on the Kennedy-Webb discussion using ideas largely derived from various works of Maitland though informed by other authors as well and so wanted to offer an opportunity for others to kind of check my work by consulting some of the sources. Just don't blame Maitland for what may seem terrible over-simplifications, properly speaking any of these historical topics deserves and largely has gotten book-length and multi volume treatment, if I get even a couple of people introduced to Maitland it is worth it.

By the way Maitland was an excellent writer, it is practically a miracle how he can address deep issues of legal history, constitutional history, and God help us "Forms of Action in Common Law" and not only keep the reader awake but fully engaged with the argument at hand.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Magna Carta: What it is and what it isn't

I would think most educated people in the Anglo-American tradition and in those countries who either had English Common Law imposed or adopted as the basis of their own national law have heard of the Magna Carta and understand that it is in some sense the fountainhead of that law. But to a large degree this is a misconception of its nature and purpose, it is not a grant of privileges from the King to his subjects, instead it is if anything a confession by King John in 1215 that he has overstepped what later became known as the Ancient Constitution. Britain did not and still does not have a written Constitution, instead its fundamental laws and institutions were considered at least through the nineteenth century to have been transmitted literally from time immemorial, that is in time prior to memory. And this is to my knowledge typical of all ancient European law and perhaps all Indo-European law (people with knowledge of Vedic Indo-Iranian law please jump in) and maybe all law, rather than looking back at some indefinite point where people entered into a Social Contract there seems to be a sense that Law precedes society altogether. A concept that may be echoed (or not, you tell me) in John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Now certainly there were attempts at compiling and codifying the law, notably associated with the names of King Alfred the Great and Edward the Confessor, but the common view before Maitland was that the law itself was pre-existent. (A recent book that I confess I have yet to read but by the very thorough historian Patrick Wormald is Making of English Law: King Alfred to the 12th century). This was not the exclusive view, some maintained that the Common Law came over from Normandy with the Conquest in 1066, but generally the idea that King Alfred and then Edward the Confessor were law compilers and not law makers won out. (Though Alfred seems to have a more expansive view of his powers in this regard.)

What does any of this have to do with the Magna Carta? And what is so important about the Magna Carta to start with? I mean this is an economics blog! Well I am not sure, I am kind of making it up as I go along, those who want to follow and correct this line of thought can follow along.

A translation of the Magna Carta can be found at Constitution.org http://www.constitution.org/eng/magnacar.htm where it is after the Athenian Constitution held as the second oldest foundational documents for our own Constitution. Yet in reading the Magna Carta it is with a few partial exceptions not foundational at all, instead it is a restoration of the Ancient Law to the time before innovations by King John, his brother Richard the Lion-Hearted and their father Henry II. Now there are two provisions which are foundational if not actually considered original to the Magna Carta.
14. And for obtaining the common counsel of the kingdom anent the assessing of an aid (except in the three cases aforesaid) or of a scutage, we will cause to be summoned the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons, severally by our letters; and we will moveover cause to be summoned generally, through our sheriffs and bailiffs, and others who hold of us in chief, for a fixed date, namely, after the expiry of at least forty days, and at a fixed place; and in all letters of such summons we will specify the reason of the summons. And when the summons has thus been made, the business shall proceed on the day appointed, according to the counsel of such as are present, although not all who were summoned have come. & 63. Wherefore we will and firmly order that the English Church be free, and that the men in our kingdom have and hold all the aforesaid liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably, freely and quietly, fully and wholly, for themselves and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all respects and in all places forever, as is aforesaid. An oath, moreover, has been taken, as well on our part as on the art of the barons, that all these conditions aforesaid shall be kept in good faith and without evil intent.
Thus Ch. 14 lays down the principle of 'no taxation without representation' while Ch. 63 affirms the pre-existing rights of all Englishmen. But note that these two do not precisely map, you will look in vain for the concept of 'democracy' tout court in the Magna Carta, there is no hint that the Parliament promised in ch. 14 includes FULL representation of the people.

Instead if you read through the Great Charter, the Magna Carta, you will see that it is primarily a reassertion of the King's Tenants in Chief's (those who held their land directly from the King) property rights against the King rights with only some secondary protections for sub-tenants and freemen.

But words and concepts you will not find in the Magna Carta: Equality and Democracy. Instead it is a fairly straightforward defense of the principle that Liberty=Freedom from coercion from above over property, where property includes ones own person. This is not to concede that the concepts of equality and democracy are not inherent in English and hence American society all along, just to recognize that it would be a long time before those were recognized in law.

Revolution 3200

Chris Bowers at Open Left has a complaint: Burris Not Committed To Voting Against Cloture
Following up on Monday's article "President Burris," yesterday I talked over the phone with Jim O'Connor, a spokesperson for Senator Roland Burris. In regards to Burris's statement that he would vote against any health care reform bill that does not include a public option, I had two questions:
1. Will Senator Burris deny unanimous consent on a motion to proceed with a health care bill that does not have a public option?
(Such a motion is required for a bill to be sent to the floor for debate and amendment. If a unanimous consent motion fails--and it only takes one Senator to object for it to fail--then a cloture vote is required for a bill to be sent to the floor for debate and amendment.)

2. Will Senator Burris vote against cloture on a health care bill that does not have a public option?
(This is the logical follow-up to question #1. Given that Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are the only two Republicans who would even theoretically vote for cloture on any health care bill, if three Democratic Senators say they will vote against cloture on any health care reform bill that lacks a public option, then it will be impossible for such a bill to reach the floor of the Senate.)
O'Connor's response to both questions was that Senator Burris stood by his statement to vote against any health care bill without a public option, bit that the Senator was still working on his floor strategy when it came to procedural votes. O'Connor stated that Burris did not seek to be an obstructionist, but to build consensus around the public option, which is good legislation and which polls show to be popular.
So, Burris is committed to voting against final passage of any health care bill that does not include a public option, but he has so far not committed himself to using procedural motions to block any such bill. As such, it is entirely possible he would still give unanimous consent, or vote for cloture, on a bill that does not contain a public option. Then again, he hasn't ruled that out, either.
Overall, this means that there is not even one Democratic Senator who has committed to blocking a health care reform bill without a public option. It would only take three, but right now the number is still zero.
I responded in comments:

"Overall, this means that there is not even one Democratic Senator who has committed to blocking a health care reform bill without a public option"
Christ! Stop the Presses!!! Not a single Democrat has come out against the principle of democratic majority rule!!!!!!!!!!

If Democrats can't find 50 votes against a bill without a public option, considering that most Republicans are going to vote No on any kind of reform, then that is just the breaks of a little game we call democracy. Trying to maintain the principle "The ends justify the means" is the reason the Far Left (and I don't mean that the way Faux News means it) and the Far Right have ended up settling their political struggles with deadly street battles between Black Shirts and Red Shirts. Come on, listen to your Uncle John

"You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right"

Voting against cloture simply to save the PO is not a solution, it is instead destruction of democratic principles. Don't throw out the democratic baby with your seemingly progressive bathwater. Even if the end result of the immediate process is not exactly "all right".

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wrist taking a week off

Some excess blogging and mousing caused some tendons to become veddy painful. So along with mousing with my other hand my blog entries might be kind of brief for the next week or so.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Marx, Smith & the Ages of Man: Capitalism & Progress

In a comment to the post on Gavin Kennedy's blog Adam Smith's Lost Legacy (reposted here Gavin Kennedy responds I made the open admission that while I at one point possessed copies of Smith's 'Wealth of Nations" and Marx's "Capital" I read neither in full, nor am I in a position to see how much Marx drew directly on Smith but clearly they share a certain worldview in common.

In particular both share a belief in a kind of progress where civilization develops through a series of stages largely marked by their mode of production. In this view man starts out as a hunter-gatherer, progresses to nomadism as men follow than domesticate the herds, then to settled agriculture, which leads to the village and then the 'civis', the city, which is the literal basis of civilization. Per Mr. Kennedy Smith identified 'shepherding' and 'agriculture' as the 2nd and 3rd Ages of Man. These ideas cannot be separated from the idea of Progress and Civilization in the moral sense, a civil society being less violent and more devoted to the principle of Liberty which Kennedy following Smith seems to find inseparable from the notion of Private Property.

Certainly this overall framework has become almost dominant in Anglo-American thought, it is what lead Friedman to identify Capitalism and Freedom and Greenspan to conclude that Capitalism and hence capitalists were inherently moral and that cheating and gaming were outliers to the capitalist norm.

Well unfortunately I reject this whole historical framework, it seems to me just another version of the strain of thought which brought us the White Man's Burden and Manifest Destiny so common in 19th century thought but which by rights should have been blown away with the Guns of August 1914. In light of the events of 1914-1918 this from Mr. Kennedy is deeply ironic.
The group and individual violence common in many such primitive regimes of ‘tribal’ property is well documented in anthropological studies. Marxists idealise the ‘forest’ mode of subsistence as “primitive communism”, but it certainly had a bloody record among populations over hundreds of millennia, with women mainly suffering as victims and ‘war’ booty, and men suffering early and violent deaths (proportionally greater than well-known, so-called “murder capitals” in modern times).
Because whether we look forward from 1914 to WWII or backwards to the American Civil War and the Peninsular and Continental Wars that accompanied the development of 'civilized capitalist' society the idea these decades had a less "bloody record" than those of the hundreds of millennia before seems pretty unfounded by evidence.

Equally unfounded is the notion that modern 'opulence' is a product of private property and the associated idea that this opulance spread with civilization from North to South
Societies with individual property forms developed fairly high forms of civic society, at least for short periods, and while the annual distribution of “the necessaries, conveniences, and amusements of life” remained skewed, the long accumulations of stone-civilisations spread across Europe and the north Asian landmass, while not much changed elsewhere.
Well this would come as somewhat of a surprise to the builders of Timbuktu, Anghor Wat, Chichen Itza, Babylon, and Memphis (Egypt). And perhaps Kublai Khan might have wondered why his fabled Pleasure Dome in Xanadu didn't make the cut.

World History is studded with instances where there were major centers of concumption that could fairly be describe as 'opulent' that were not directly linked to the concept of private property. In fact I would think that in most cases that opulence was more often a matter of having control of three major sources of direct income: taxation, tribute, and trade tariffs. The English monarchy is not quite unique in its ability to draw large portions of its historic income in land rent but largely so, on the Continent the wealth of Princes and Kings was more often drawn from controlling trade, hence the series of very rich states on either side of the Rhine and the relative wealth of the cities around the Baltic and North Seas.

Plus there is a more fundamental misunderstanding built into the whole concept of the Ages of Men. Back in my own college days, and ironically from a Professor named Smith, I took a course that focused on the Nomads of Central Asia from the Huns on down to the modern day Basseri of Northern Iran. Contrary to the opinion shared by Smith and Marx nomadism is not an intermediate mode of production between hunter-gathering and agriculture, the romantic idea of shepherds following their sheep wherever they wandered is a historical, economic, and ecological fantasy. A nomadic existence is only possible if the nomads know to a near certainty that where they end up for the night has sufficient grazing and water for the herds, and just as importantly that you won't have to fight to gain access. A stable nomadic society relies on its own variety of private property that establishes its rights to the resources at each stage of its migration path at the time the group reaches it. In many cases multiple groups will have rights to the same path, only time shifted so as to maintain the carrying capacity of the soil which in general is exactly the kind of soil that won't support settled agriculture to start with.

In fact nomadic society is largely dependent on an existing system of settled agriculture. The nomads stock in trade is wool, cheese, meat and skins which are traded for necessities and luxuries with village and townspeople in the form of grain, vegetables, tea, tobacco, rugs, and jewelry, none of which are readily produceable under mobile conditions. In Central Asia generally nomadic groups are functionally separated from townsfolk though they might share the same tribal identity while in the Mediterranean nomadism is more often directly attached to the village with the boys and young men taking the flocks to the hills in the summer, but either way there is an indispensable interaction between shepherd and farmer.

Similarly the notion that hunter-gathering societies are inherently less opulent than 'civilized' city dwelling ones is to ignore some other historical realities. The Tribes of the Pacific Northwest led fairly comfortable lives prior to the arrival first of the fur hunters and then the farmers, loggers and most destructively white fishermen. Previously the salmon and the steeltrout and the smelt and the herring literally ran like clockwork, with each month and season having its own run of fish up the rivers. This coupled with the unlimited mollusk production of the tidelands allowed for a very comfortable and cultured and peaceful lifestyle punctured only occassionally by a raid by the more warlike Makahs or tribes from what is now Canada.

So depending on the eco-system (a concept foreign to Smith and Marx) either hunter-gathering or nomadism might represent the highest and best use of the property and settled agriculture as measured either by leisure or life-style often a step downwards. In fact if we take a quick overview of world civilization we can see that the development of agriculture often was marked by explicit exploitation of agricultural workers by their 'civilized' masters. Certainly in Western Europe the development of large scale agriculture from Roman latifundia or villa to Medieval Estates to British Enclosures were always marked by higher levels of labor exploitation where the previous pattern of a free Greek or Roman farmer was replaced by one marked by slavery and further north a mix of servile and free peasants (the former an inheritance from Rome) were over time reduced to pure tenants at will who could and were ultimately ejected from their lands.

Kennedy assures us that: "The distant past is, well, distant." Well that is the problem, it is distant enough that modern controllers of property have been able to define Liberty as the Right to Defend Private Property while distancing themselves from the actual history of how that property was acquired. Is it fair to tax you extra because your great-grandfather was a Robber Baron? Well maybe. Is it fair to tax you extra because your many, many great-grandfather was an actual robber baron in 1215?

1215 was the year that the Great Charter, the Magna Carta was first issued, which Kennedy cites as the point to which the development of political liberty can be traced. And there is a sense in which the liberty of free Englishmen was affirmed in the Charter. In practice though this liberty was restricted to the land lords who were protected from arbitrary demands of the King but by that same token freed to use the new legal innovations imported by the Plantagenet Kings to impose what was in origin Roman land law on an English system built on entirely different roots. Kennedy explains Smith's views as follows:
In Smith’s Lectures on Jurisprudence (1762-63) he gives a very clear account of the very ‘slow and gradual’ political evolution of liberty: Magna Carta, trial by jury, independent judiciary, rule of law, Habeas Corpus, through the absolute monarchies of the ‘allodial’ and ‘feudal’ disorders of Europe from the fall of Rome in the 5th century to the Constitutional Monarchies after the English civil war, 1740-60 {bcw-typo for '1640-60}, and the ‘Glorious Revolution’, 1688.
From the standpoint of the once free peasant and the semi-free serf, that period of 'Liberty' is EXACTLY the same period in which his own property rights were extirpated. Something that apparently didn't bother Adam Smith or his lawyer contemporary William Blackstone a bit. In fact something that they couldn't even see.