Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Not A Carnival, Just A Sideshow

My google-fu is so weak I can’t even find the post from a few months ago when the Koch brothers were looking to hire “motivated young people” for a “temporary acting gig”. So I’m not sure whether that ad was related to Dave Weigel’s tale of “A Confusing Attempt to Denounce Obamacare”:

The young couple holding hands outside the entrance to “Creepy Carenival” held on the National Mall July 23rd were rather baffled by it. “I think it’s something about Obamacare?” the woman said. “I think they’re going to talk about it?” They had happened upon it on a walk; they weren’t sure if the message would be for or against.

The event had been put on by Generation Opportunity, a lobby group of free-market minded youngsters who mostly advocate on millennial issues like youth unemployment and student debt. Obamacare, their spokesman informed me, was their first foray into healthcare. In case there’s any confusion, they’re against it: they say that it increases health premiums for those 27 and under who wish to buy healthcare through the federally mandated program….

I chatted with a few performers and blue-shirted young men from Talk of the Town, the entertainment whose games were hired out for the festivities. Their employers, it appears, did not provide health insurance: The young acrobat was still on her parents’— she says will think about what to do once she turns 26 (but “her views are her own and do not represent those of Generation Opportunity”). Another, older carnival worker said he bought his direct through the insurance company. A third young man, running the high striker, had been instructed to give a flimsy hammer to anyone under 27, and an actual sledgehammer to anyone older. I read aloud a placard at his station, which said that women under 27 would on average see their premiums rise by 44 percent, and men by 91 percent. “You’re the first person all day to read that,” he informed me. When I asked him about the meaning of the trick versus real hammers, he shrugged. Some staffers quickly swooped in to explain—something about the game being rigged against you—but the exact gist remained a bit opaque…

Here’s SourceWatch’s description of “Generation Opportunity”:

Generation Opportunity (GenOp) is a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization based in Arlington, Virginia funded by Freedom Partners, a multimillion dollar Koch-tied funding vehicle. On the group’s website, its describes itself as “a free-thinking, liberty-loving, national organization of young people promoting the best of Being American: opportunity, creativity and freedom.”[1] According to OpenSecrets, “[i]n the three years for which tax information is available, Generation Opportunity has raised almost 86 percent of its funds from just two Koch-linked nonprofits…

So, just another Kochsucker scam — but at least this one entertained a few Mall walkers during the Silly Season. If only all the money the Kochs lavished on politics were wasted so harmlessly.

34 replies
  1. 1
    Nicole says:

    So… they are saying a young person will pay more for healthcare in the first year that their parents are no longer paying for it? Because, see, I discovered my housing costs went up when I moved out of my parents’ home. But no one thought “rent” was worthy of a carenival stand.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    Apparently, in the wingnut mind, people who are 27 stay 27 forever.

  3. 3
    NotMax says:

    The solution, obviously, is to take a cue from Wild in the Streets or Logan’s Run and remove those who turn 27.

    Unless they’re internet gajillionaires who will pledge to support the (R) candidates.

  4. 4
    Punchy says:

    They gave out REAL sledgehammers to anyone over 27? I would hope all the DIYers and railroad workers would show up there instead of Lowe’s for their wares. Not to mention, wouldnt a bunch of men carrying real slegdehammers on the Metro and Bus lines be a bit disconcerting?

  5. 5
    hells littlest angel says:

    “Kochsucker”? Really?

  6. 6
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    It’s the same gig complete with the freaky Uncle Sam. I think Wonkette did a photo feature a few days ago and called him Uncle Speculum. Anyhoo … pretty awful.

  7. 7
    satby says:

    @hells littlest angel: Kochsucker is totally appropriate.

  8. 8
    Kay says:


    It’s just a really dumb way to look at health insurance. Younger people have always been subsidizing older people in health insurance. In fact, if you have employer-provided insurance, you’re subsidizing older people without any adjustment in premiums for age. The ACA has rates that vary by age. It’s more fair to younger people than the employer-provided system, not less fair:

    So it is natural to inquire how the private sector outside the individual and small-group market has handled this potential economic conflict between the young and the old, men and women and the healthy and sick. Is Obamacare unique in unleashing war upon the young, on the healthy and on the “bros” in the United States? The answer is no.
    Every employed American must realize that employment-based health insurance coverage is implicitly community rated with respect to age, gender and health status.
    Two individuals performing roughly the same job and acquiring the same health insurance policy – one young and healthy, the other older and stricken, perhaps, with diabetes or a recent bout of cancer – will not be asked to make different contributions to their health insurance coverage. Nor would their take-home pay reflect their age and health status through a backward shifting of the employers’ premium contribution.

    This is just dumb:

    For the law to work, the ACA needs healthy young people to subsidize the old—this is how insurance works, and it means an uptick in their premiums.

    If they had or have employer-provided health care now they already pay for older people, and they pay MORE for them, because it isn’t age-rated.

    It is MORE unfair to young people in the private sector , outside Obamacare. The Kochs are promoting financial illiteracy.

    The people who are paying the biggest “unfair” subsidy in the ACA aren’t even young people. They’re healthy older people. They pay way more due to their age and use less. The unluckiest Obamacare purchaser is a healthy 60 year old, not a healthy 20 year old.

  9. 9
    Baud says:


    You’ve proven that Obamacare incentivizes people to get sick to obtain more value!

  10. 10
    hells littlest angel says:

    @satby: It’s a pun on a word that has been used primarily as an anti-gay slur. It also, like “repiglican” or “republitard”, makes the user sound like a not-too-bright twelve-year old.

  11. 11
    MattF says:

    Thing about health care– you can’t anticipate when you, personally, will need it. That’s what this ‘insurance’ thing is all about.

  12. 12
    Kay says:


    Obamacare is pegged on the employer-provided system. The intent was to put people on the same footing as those who have employer-provided coverage. In this case, ACA purchasers get a better deal not a worse deal, because Obamacare age-rates. Older people pay more.

    This isn’t really about age, because Obamacare adjusts for age. It’s about creating a division and resentment between sick people and healthy people. But that’s WAY too nasty for a political campaign, so libertarians have to dress it up as “intergenerational transfer”.

    I always think they should take this all the way. What the hell. Just tell the truth. Let’s all start pointing fingers at one another for using health insurance in differing amounts. I can bitch at you for your thyroid problem and you can bitch at me for my use of pregnancy care. The whole country would descend into a nasty, really personal gripe session and none of us would be spared. They’ve already done it to a certain extent, with that ridiculous year-long campaign to target birth control and depict women as deadbeat sluts. Take it all the way. Let’s target everyone for something or other.

  13. 13
    MattF says:

    @Kay: Also, a more technical point, is that individual health care needs tend to come in bunches– real people have good years and bad years. In real life, it all averages out, but it gives you the opportunity to pick on any individual for being sick ‘all the time’.

  14. 14
    Baud says:


    Resentment got Reagan elected. Can’t blame them for trying again.

  15. 15
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @Kay: Most healthy 20 year olds CAN’T FUCKING AFFORD healthcare even if it was “fairly” pitched to their risk, so who’s subsidized now???

    This crap is cooked up by and only appeals to the very privileged children of the very privileged. What crap.

  16. 16
    Kay says:


    My favorite example of this is when Bush was privatizing Social Security and he decided to sell it as “Social Security rips off black people”. It was complete bullshit, dumb on its face, a misunderstanding of the difference between infant mortality and longevity, but they all repeated it. He held town hall after town hall repeating this dumb lie.

    Here’s why. First, Mr. Bush’s remarks on African-Americans perpetuate a crude misunderstanding about what life expectancy means. It’s true that the current life expectancy for black males at birth is only 68.8 years – but that doesn’t mean that a black man who has worked all his life can expect to die after collecting only a few years’ worth of Social Security benefits. Blacks’ low life expectancy is largely due to high death rates in childhood and young adulthood. African-American men who make it to age 65 can expect to live, and collect benefits, for an additional 14.6 years – not that far short of the 16.6-year figure for white men.

  17. 17
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @hells littlest angel: I don’t know about primarily. While it is certainly used as an anti-gay slur it also has a history of being used to be a toady, a kind of TL but with more doucheyness.

    I think it’s out of date and done but let’s not be excessively glib here and forget that there are many people who used it as a slur on those who aid and abet the powerful in screwing their own class, and that fellatio can be a metaphor for ego stroking–in fact, it continues to be.

    ETA: I don’t want to downplay how problematic this term is. For one thing, it was applied exclusively to men, as if women can’t have power and climb their way up in organizations as well. It dates to a time when women’s importance was utterly dismissed.

  18. 18
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @Kay: Black men in the South have lower mortality due to homicide in their younger years but a shorter life expectancy as adults. To be fair, the research showing this came out late in the Bush years or early in the Obama years, I don’t recall exactly. It was the study that split Americans into 9 different cohorts.

    But the problem is that in other countries people with jobs that led to lower life expectancy could retire sooner (as in Greece so famously) but we set up our system to favor powerful, white collar manager and leader types who could wait a very long time before retirement. Working class people jump for that 62 thing and get screwed.

  19. 19
    Geeno says:

    @hells littlest angel: Actually it goes back to a sign at a Tea Party rally a few years back that said “Since you don’t like Teabaggers, can we call you Kochsuckers instead?”, and the tag stuck.

  20. 20
    Nicole says:

    @Kay: seriously, I do get that, and have tried to explain it to some conservative right-wing acquaintances (the horse racing board I frequent has a surprisingly lively and relatively balanced political room. Little is agreed on, but it’s always entertaining). What I can only assume is that the Kochs et al are trying to use it as a new politics of resentment, to try to lure younger voters to the Right early. But I don’t know. In any event, it’s funny to me that they are basically aiming this at 27-year-olds, fresh off their parents’ coverage.

    I remember how sick to his stomach my dad was when I turned 22 and went off his coverage. I spent three years without coverage (and fortunately did not rollerblade myself into a serious accident during that time). Got a job that provided coverage for two years and then when that ended, was just as sick to my stomach trying to find individual coverage, at age, wait for it, 27.

  21. 21
    Cervantes says:

    @hells littlest angel: Well, if intelligence is normally distributed, would you argue that 25% of all twelve-year-olds are “not too bright”? Or even 50%?

    Anyhow, I’m with you on the usage in question.

  22. 22
    Kay says:


    My eldest son has a little of this, unfortunately. It’s mostly good-natured, but there’s an edge to it.

    I told him his youngest brother has “used” more health insurance than a lot of older people (he was born with a bad left eye that required specialists and surgery) and he’s 12 years old. My eldest can consider his premium as supporting the youngest f he wants :)

  23. 23
    Baud says:


    Ask your eldest whether he prefers to pay for Internet access with a flat fee or a tiered pricing approach. Because the economics are basically the same.

  24. 24
    lol says:


    It’s also part of the “When Social Security was designed, they only expected people to live a few years” nonsense that Alan Simpson perpetuates. Life expectancy has gone up since the 30s because we’ve eliminated polio, smallpox and a shitload of other childhood diseases. Life expectancy at retirement has only gone up a few years.

  25. 25
    Nicole says:

    @Kay: Ah, youth. I think it’s very hard to imagine your body not being there for you until it finally starts to happen. I had my first back spasm at 41 and it was a very painful, weeklong revelation.

  26. 26
    Nicole says:

    @lol: it’s a good point. I read a book on American history and how our political leanings today are still shaped by the climates of where the Europeans settled and one of the interesting tidbits was that even in colonial days, the New England settlers often lived into their 70s and beyond. It was not unusual for New Englanders to know their grandparents. The South, due to disease, was a whole different story.

  27. 27
    hells littlest angel says:

    @Geeno: Who cares what it goes back to? People who use it sound to me like fucking fools.

  28. 28
    Mike in NC says:

    You have to wonder how much money the Koch brothers have sunk (or pissed away) in their dumb “Americans for Prosperity” ads, which appear to have been produced by a bunch of junior high school imbeciles.

  29. 29
    Ruckus says:


    Life expectancy at retirement has only gone up a few years.

    And I believe that this was taken into account a number of years ago. As well the younger people not dying pay into SS during their lifetimes. So the whole line of “reasoning” used by Simpson is bullshit. Either he knows this and is lying or is a complete idiot. Actually these are not exclusive.

    And of course don’t forget that some are trying to bring back those wonderful childhood diseases by not vaccinating.

  30. 30
    Ruckus says:

    @Mike in NC:
    The amount? Pocket change. The Kochsucker brothers are worth so much that their spending is nothing more. Look at it another way, wouldn’t they spend more than pocket change to try to affect a change if they believed in their own bullshit? They are worth over 100 billion, a few hundred million is nothing. They are such cheapskates that they probably did hire jr high schoolers.

  31. 31
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Nicole: I think one of the major reasons midlife crises happen is that many people have just gotten to the point where they have the freedom, wherewithal or fearlessness to have some interesting adventures… just as their bodies are starting to malfunction in age-related ways. It’s a real bringdown.

  32. 32
    g says:

    @Another Holocene Human (now with new computer): This group’s logic is about as strong as its attention span. They had the creepy Uncle Speculum character to scare young women away from the ACA, and then only days later at another event they had an activity where young girls were posing with the character, snuggling up to him affectionately. Kinda undercuts your message, eh?

  33. 33
    Liberty60 says:


    The people who are paying the biggest “unfair” subsidy in the ACA aren’t even young people. They’re healthy older people

    And here I am, being healthy and middle aged, like a sucker!

  34. 34
    Nutella says:

    So these people demonstrating against Obamacare are working for a Koch outfit that doesn’t pay for their health insurance. Good thing we’ve got the exchanges and that rule change to allow 25-year-olds to be on their parents’ policy to make up for their billionaire employers being cheapskates.

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