One way to find out what people think is to ask them

Justice Scalia, expressing his deep concern for young people during hearing on the health care law:

SOLICITOR GENERAL VERILLI: To live in the modern world, everybody needs a telephone. And the — the same thing with respect to the — you know, the dairy price supports that — that the court upheld in Wrightwood Dairy and Rock Royal. You can look at those as disadvantageous contracts, as forced transfers, that — you know, I suppose it’s theoretically true that you could raise your kids without milk, but the reality is you’ve got to go to the store and buy milk. And the commerce power — as a result of the exercise of the commerce power, you’re subsidizing somebody else –
JUSTICE KAGAN: And this is especially true, isn’t it, General –
VERRILLI: — because that’s the judgment Congress has made.
KAGAN: — Verrilli, because in this context, the subsidizers eventually become the subsidized?
VERRILLI: Well, that was the point I was trying to make, Justice Kagan, that you’re young and healthy one day, but you don’t stay that way. And the — the system works over time. And so I just don’t think it’s a fair characterization of it. And it does get back to, I think — a problem I think is important to understand –
JUSTICE SCALIA: We’re not stupid. They’re going to buy insurance later. They’re young and — and need the money now.
VERRILLI: But that’s –

Maybe not:

As the country gears up for implementation of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this month’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll takes a step back and examines views on health insurance more broadly among some key subgroups, including young adults, the uninsured, and those with pre-existing conditions. The poll finds that the large majority of Americans want and value health insurance. More than seven in ten young adults – a special focus of outreach and enrollment efforts – say it is very important to them personally to have insurance. Cost remains the biggest barrier for the uninsured, with four in ten citing the expense of coverage as the main reason they don’t have it. Roughly half of those under age 65 believe they or a household member has what would be considered a pre-existing condition, and a quarter of them say they have either been denied insurance or had their premium increased as a result. With the expected marketing effort for the ACA’s health exchanges still not in full swing, negative views of the law continue to outpace positive views, with 43 percent unfavorable and 35 percent favorable. However, unfavorable views are a mix of those who feel the law goes “too far” in changing the health care system (33 percent) and those who feel it “doesn’t go far enough” (8 percent). The poll also shows that differences in how the law is branded may make a difference in how it is perceived by the public. When asked how they feel about “Obamacare” rather than the “health reform law,” higher shares express both favorable (42 percent) and unfavorable (47 percent) views, and Democrats are more enthusiastic.
Among the public overall, 87 percent say it is “very important” to them personally to have health insurance, 88 percent describe health insurance as “something I need,” and two-thirds (68 percent) say insurance is worth the money it costs.
Even among younger adults – a group that many have speculated may be resistant to getting coverage under the ACA – more than seven in ten rate having health insurance as “very important,” and similar shares feel it is something they need and that it is worth the money. Overall, just a quarter of those ages 18-30 feel they are healthy enough to go without insurance.

An advocacy group called “Young Invincibles” argued exactly this during the health care debate. They even submitted a brief to the Court with polling info that came out roughly same as that quoted above, but apparently Scalia didn’t read it.








Ford Has a Better Idea

One of the weird things about crack smoking Rob Ford’s crack smoking video is that he uses some crackhead logic about “getting it back”:

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told senior aides not to worry about a video appearing to show him smoking crack cocaine because he knew where it was, sources told the Star.
Ford then blurted out the address of two 17th-floor units — 1701 and 1703 — at a Dixon Rd. apartment complex, to the shock of staffers at a city hall meeting almost two weeks ago, the sources said.

If the video was taken on a cell phone, it’s probably somewhere on the Internet by now, yet this whole scandal has treated it like a MacGuffin, a single thing that could be found and destroyed.

In other Ford news, the Mounties have made a second arrest in the murder of one of his crack-smoking buddies. There’s no evidence that either of the two guys arrested are tied to Ford, but you won’t see my shocked face if they are.

I like to read the Canadian papers to get my daily dose of Ford, but Comrade Mary thinks Gawker has better illustrations.








Some Good News On The Repro Rights Front

SCOTUS is punting on the 7th Circuit’s block on Indiana’s law stripping Planned Parenthood of funding, meaning the block will remain:

The Supreme Court will not disturb a lower court ruling that blocks Indiana’s effort to strip Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood because the organization performs abortions among its medical services.

The justices did not comment Tuesday in rejecting the state’s appeal of a federal appeals court ruling in favor of Planned Parenthood.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the state law targeting Planned Parenthood went too far. Indiana is among more than a dozen states that have enacted or considered laws to cut off taxpayer money to organizations that provide abortion.

So that’s some good news, at least.

The case now goes back to federal court in Indianapolis to determine whether a temporary injunction blocking the 2011 law should be made permanent.

But American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ken Falk says he believes the state will drop the case.

Falk says the court decisions have held that Indiana can’t deny women the right to choose their own medical providers. The state Legislature tried to deny Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions.

Meanwhile, about a dozen other states will keep engaging in these particular acts of coitus with all available domestic poultry at taxpayer expense, including apparently Ohio (now under total GOP control, mind you.)

Fun.








You could look at it as losing your public school, or you could look at it as gaining a free tablet

We talked about how Louisiana is a school reform success story, earning a high grade from both reform industry insider Michelle Rhee and the voter suppression law lobby-shop, ALEC.

We also talked about this innovative reform industry plan for Excellence in Profiteering. It’s called Course Choice in Louisiana (but was recently revealed as Value Vouchers in Michigan). Innovation is like lightening. It can strike in two places at exactly the same time, as it obviously did in the case of Course Choice/Value Vouchers/Whatever They Will Call It In Your State.

We talked about the exciting 21st century career opportunities Course Choice is already creating in Louisiana in the vital door-to-door-sales sector of the economy:

“Help change the landscape of public education in Louisiana!
On your own time! With the potential to make $75k+ in 6 months or less!
Company Description: SmartStart Virtual Academy (“SVA”) (a division of SmartStart Education) is a state-approved Course Choice provider. This means that SVA has been authorized to offer FREE courses to high-school students in the state of Louisiana for graduation credit. SVA is offering 22 approved courses — both core-classes (such as reading, math and science) and career-ready courses (such as web-design and publishing).”

In the interest of accountability, let’s see how this reform industry experiment is going so far:

Southwood High School junior Randall Gunn is a straight-A student.
So when the school’s principal saw his name come up as registering to retake several courses online, it immediately raised a red flag. Gunn was called into a counselor’s office and told he was enrolled in three Course Choice classes — all of which he already had passed standardized tests with exceptional scores.
“I had no clue what was going on,” Gunn said. “I have no reason to take these classes and still don’t know who signed me up.”
More than 1,100 Caddo and Webster students have signed up to participate in what some say are questionable Course Choice programs. According to parents, students, and Webster and Caddo education officials, FastPath Learning is signing up some students it shouldn’t — in many cases without parent or student knowledge. A free tablet computer is offered to those who enroll, and some educators believe that’s all the potential enrollees hear. Money to pay for the courses comes from each school district’s state-provided Minimum Foundation Program funding.
Half of the money — courses range from $700 to $1,275 each — must be paid to FastPath and other providers up front. Neither students nor their parents are responsible for the tablet devices if they are lost or stolen. And they can keep them even if they don’t pass the course.
“This all goes back to all of the education reforms that were passed within eight days during last year’s session. This is what you get,” state Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Dubberly, said of the apparent lack of oversight.
“I have graduating seniors signed up for math classes,” Roberts said. “I have even seen kids, sophomores, enrolled in second-grade math and reading classes. There’s no rhyme or reason to who these companies are signing up or for what classes.”
One example is freshman Shakelvin Calhoun. Calhoun was signed up for junior- and senior-level classes, and said he still is unsure how he was enrolled.“ It was a complete surprise to me,” he said. “We still can’t figure out how I was signed up or why I was put in those classes, but I don’t want to have anything to do with it.”

At least 104 Webster Parish students, mostly elementary age, were signed up for 208 classes when the company’s representatives went door to door over a 10-day period last month in Minden’s housing projects and densely populated neighborhoods.

Here’s the best part:

If Course Choice moves forward and all of the 104 students participate, that would take more than $250,000 from the district’s MFP funding. Continuing to deduct from the district’s allocation ultimately will put a strain on the ability to keep teachers in the classrooms, Busby said.



Somalia On The Rio Grande

If it were just a matter of Texans killing Texans — with the victims embracing their fates — then I might be willing to let it all go with an “everyone to hell in their own handbasket”  reaction.  But, of course, the generalized Gresham’s Law tells us what follows from this kind of thinking:

Five days after an explosion at a fertilizer plant leveled a wide swath of this town, Gov. Rick Perry tried to woo Illinois business officials by trumpeting his state’s low taxes and limited regulations. Asked about the disaster, Mr. Perry responded that more government intervention and increased spending on safety inspections would not have prevented what has become one of the nation’s worst industrial accidents in decades…
Alfred_Rethel_001

This antipathy toward regulations is shared by many residents here. Politicians and economists credit the stance with helping attract jobs and investment to Texas, which has one of the fastest-growing economies in the country, and with winning the state a year-after-year ranking as the nation’s most business friendly.

Even in West, last month’s devastating blast did little to shake local skepticism of government regulations. Tommy Muska, the mayor, echoed Governor Perry in the view that tougher zoning or fire safety rules would not have saved his town. “Monday morning quarterbacking,” he said.

Raymond J. Snokhous, a retired lawyer in West who lost two cousins — brothers who were volunteer firefighters — in the explosion, said, “There has been nobody saying anything about more regulations.”

I’d be surprised, except for the fact that there’s nothing out of the ordinary here, if you look at matters like a (certain kind of) Texan: Read more