Could this have anything to do with why Obama/Sibelius are reluctant to publish Obamacare enrollment numbers until mid-November?

Number of people who successfully enrolled into Obamacare:

Day 1: 6

Day 2: 248

h/t ZeroHedge

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Apologies

for the lack of posts recently. I plan on posting some more items shortly.

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Europe is burning, slowly

Walter Russell Mead posted a lengthy yet worthwhile report about the impressions he developed during a two-week trip across Europe. It might be worthwhile your time to skim through it.

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Obamacare web site problems could be hiding even larger issues

As I’ve mentioned before, the Obamacare insurance exchange web site has been experiencing severe problems since its implementation.

None of these have been resolved. The situation has become so dire that policy wonk Ezra Klein has been continually and increasingly lambasting the Obama administration for their handling of the site (h/t Economic Policy Journal):

 In the months before the launch almost every senior member of the Obama administration had a little calendar board tacked up in a prominent spot in their office. “75 days until Obamacare” it would say. The next morning they would tear off the page. “74 days until Obamacare” it would say. The message — to them and to their visitors — was clear: This was the White House’s top priority.

We’re now negative 14 days until the Affordable Care Act and most people still can’t purchase insurance. The magnitude of this failure is stunning. Yes, the federal health-care law is a complicated project, government IT rules are a mess, and the scrutiny has been overwhelming. But the Obama administration knew all that going in. They should’ve been able to build an online portal that works.

Early on, President Obama like (sic) to compare the launch of the Affordable Care Act to Apple launching a new product. Can you imagine how many people Steve Jobs would’ve fired by now if he’d launched a new product like this?

Meanwhile, a Forbes article discusses the main reason behind the site’s inability to perform: people need to register before shopping for health insurance, presumably to provide the government with sufficient information to determine their eligibility for subsidies. Several computer systems need to interact with one another during this registration process, and it appears that there wasn’t sufficient understanding about the specifications of this process. The Obama administration was aware of the potential problems of this bottleneck, yet refused to delay implementation of the site to avoid giving Republicans any more ammunition about Obamacare.

Beyond the IT problems, however, lies a far more fundamental issue. The very structure of Obamacare “drives up the cost of the insurance plans that are offered under the law’s public exchanges.” According to an analysis conducted by the Manhattan Institute, “the cheapest plan offered in a given state, under Obamacare, will be 99 percent more expensive for men, and 62 percent more expensive for women, than the cheapest plan offered under the old system. And those disparities are even wider for healthy people.” The Forbes article then goes on to ask an obvious question:

If 50 million people are uninsured today, mainly because insurance is too expensive, why is it better to make coverage even costlier?

And provides an answer:

Obamacare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance. It was designed to force those people to pay more for coverage, in order to subsidize insurance for people with incomes near the poverty line, and those with chronic or costly medical conditions.

But the laws’ supporters and enforcers don’t want you to know that, because it would violate the President’s incessantly repeated promise that nothing would change for the people that Obamacare doesn’t directly help. If you shop for Obamacare-based coverage without knowing if you qualify for subsidies, you might be discouraged by the law’s steep costs.

This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.

If this reasoning is correct, then it is highly likely that these IT “issues” won’t be resolved anytime soon.

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Is red state America seceding?

Fascinating article by Patrick Buchanan here.

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A CEO who resisted NSA spying is out of prison. And he feels ‘vindicated’ by Snowden leaks.

Just one major telecommunications company refused to participate in a legally dubious NSA surveillance program in 2001. A few years later, its CEO was indicted by federal prosecutors. He was convicted, served four and a half years of his sentence and was released this month.

Prosecutors claim Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio was guilty of insider trading, and that his prosecution had nothing to do with his refusal to allow spying on his customers without the permission of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But to this day, Nacchio insists that his prosecution was retaliation for refusing to break the law on the NSA’s behalf.

After his release from custody Sept. 20, Nacchio told the Wall Street Journal that he feels “vindicated” by the content of the leaks that show that the agency was collecting American’s phone records.

Read the entire article here.

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Obamacare’s web site is really bad.

Obama tried to compare what’s going on with the site to Apple.

“A couple of weeks ago, Apple rolled out a new mobile operating system, and within days, they found a glitch, so they fixed it,” Obama said. “I don’t remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads or threatening to shut down the company if they didn’t.”

Ezra Klein and Evra Soltas punctures the poor analogy without breaking a sweat.

But the Obama administration doesn’t have a basically working product that would be improved by a software update. They have a Web site that almost nobody has been able to successfully use. If Apple launched a major new product that functioned as badly as Obamacare’s online insurance marketplace, the tech world would be calling for Tim Cook’s head.

I have a more fundamental problem with the analogy.

I don’t have an iPhone. While some in my family do, I don’t. So whether Apples operating system upgrade is a success or not is irrelevant to me.

Meanwhile, clowns on Capital Hill who claim to know what’s in our best interests crammed through a law that they didn’t read yet massively transforms how health care is provided to Americans. This idiocy resulted in regulations implementing Obamacare totaling over 20,000 pages, Obamacare call centers that can answer questions IN 150 LANGUAGES, and a non-functioning web site,

Apple used its own capital to make changes to its operating system in a manner it felt appropriate. The ones who ultimately benefit or get hurt by the success or failure of that launch are Apple’s customers, management, employees, and shareholders.

I helped pay for the salaries and benefits of the bureaucrats who wrote the 20,000 pages of regulations, the employees in the call centers who can answer questions in Tatar, and the code writers of a non-functioning web site. If you’re an American tax payer, so did you.

What benefit will I receive? Nothing. I have medical insurance through my employer, so I have no intention of participating through the insurance exchanges. (Whether the focus on insurance is appropriate could be a topic for another post.) What costs will I bear? Aside from the costs described above, it is not unreasonable to expect higher premiums, higher deductibles, and lower quality of care simply because there will be more people demanding these services from the same (hopefully) stock of health care providers.

The Obama administration’s pathetic attempt to compare the problems with its web site to how a business handles challenges when trying to provide services to its customers simply shows how utterly clueless it is about economics in general and enterprise in particular.

h/t Economic Policy Journal

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