Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Looking Ahead

An Alternate Future Essay
© 2011 Ross Williams

The era of Positive Rights hit what many thought was the pinnacle of Progressiveness in the spring of 2017 when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – long the main Progressive court in the nation – ruled that persons below the poverty line were entitled to “certain vehicle repairs and maintenance” pursuant to their educational and employment-seeking activities required under the rules for receiving any form of welfare. The government can’t require welfare recipients to either go to school or seek employment if it doesn’t provide reasonable ways to get there; public transportation covers only a fraction of the country. The Supreme Court, packed by Obama, agreed and the federal government thus found itself in the auto insurance business.

The presidential election of 2020, fortunately the formality that Chicago Mayoral elections had long been, was noted for the clanging rhetoric pitting the privately-employed remnants of the middle class against the federal patronage workers. “If the poor can get free oil changes, why can’t we?” the privately-employed asked. They were prevented by law from saying much else.

The answer was plain: the Wealthiest Americans have no need for handouts because they’re wealthy. Instead, they need more regulation to keep them from collecting and flaunting their obscene wealth. If the Wealthiest Americans wanted to, they could try this trick in state legislatures. The Supreme Court, operating under its 2012 ruling, Florida et al v. Sebelius, requiring all matters of state jurisdiction to first be granted by federal court ruling or Congress, had no objections and so in 2021 the states of Idaho, Montana, Texas and Alabama – dominated by Wealthiest Americans – passed laws requiring all auto insurers in their state to cover routine vehicle maintenance in every Comprehensive policy they sold. While varying from state to state, these typically included oil changes, battery replacements, tire changes, wipers, belts, hoses, wiring and charger couplings for all automobiles, even the outdated gas-only vehicles banned by the EPA in 2013 by their authorities under the Clean Air Act.

In 2022, 19 more states passed similar laws, and by 2028, all 49 states and the District of Columbia required auto insurers to pay for routine maintenance of vehicles. ...but only for electric and hybrid vehicles. In 2023, the Supreme Court ruled that coverage of the maintenance costs for gas-only powered vehicles could not be required under state law as federal law already prohibited gas-only vehicles for anything other than collectors of antiquities and “certain civic or educational functions of historical intent”. Gas-only vehicles were, essentially, a luxury item even though most were still operating daily by the Wealthiest Americans living in Appalachia and the remotest parts of the western states.

What happened next was almost completely unexpected by anyone with government accreditation.

The cost for Comprehensive automobile insurance increased by 4,500% between 2020 and 2034, puzzling government economists.

Additionally, an oil change, a typical oil change that cost $50 at most instant-change shops in the spring of 2017 on a standard two-cylinder hybrid, and $55 in 2021 when States started requiring them to be covered by comprehensive insurance, cost instead, on a nationwide average, $75 by 2028, $95 by 2030, and $125 by the 2034 mid-terms.

Costs for other vehicle maintenance items rose similarly.

Economists in the Government Accountability Office, in the Congressional Entitlement Office, and the Internal Revenue and Regulatory Compliance Service were dumbfounded. It had long been established that government regulatory oversight kept prices low – sometimes [according to certain Liberal critics] artificially low – and the Progressive leadership in Congress, the White House and the Courts were unready for the ramifications. Liberal opposition attempted to capitalize on the upheaval, and even attempted to use some of the tactics of the Wealthiest Americans and their outlawed Republican and Tea Parties during the tumultuous days of the Early Progressive Republic, though they stopped short of using the S-word. No sense in risking a conviction on Sedition charges by calling Progressive policy socialism!

The rise of vehicle maintenance costs baffled everyone. It could not be explained by the rising cost of materials; government regulations kept that under control, even if cheap North Korean parts were all that could be found for the price. It could not be explained by the rising cost of labor. The Labor Rate Equalization standards were being properly applied and the quadrennial IRRCS audits found no significant deviations.

Since not everyone had comprehensive insurance for their vehicles, many Americans could no longer afford to maintain their vehicles; they were going bankrupt – 11.5 million bankruptcies in 2031 alone linked to vehicle maintenance, not including Wealthiest Americans. Tens of millions of Americans [also not including Wealthiest] were forced to drop their comprehensive insurance between 2020 and 2035 because of the sharp rise in premiums.

The federal Transportation Assurity Administration, which oversaw the guaranteed vehicle maintenance program for those under the poverty line, was not equipped to handle a huge influx of new clients who were thrust into poverty by rapidly rising costs. Congress held hearings repeatedly in 2033 and 2035 but reached no conclusion or consensus.

It was a Chinese economist, working with her Mexican colleague and collaborator, who put forth the outlandish hypothesis in their Nobel Prize-winning paper in 2036 that suggested a reactionary and disproven notion behind it all. This was all it took to unite the Progressives and Liberals in defense of America from the economic hegemony of China and Mexico: the world’s and western hemisphere’s largest economies, respectively. Their answer? “Free Trade”.

Free Trade had been debunked as a means for the wealthy to enslave the poor, and using the middle class as its “useful idiots”. Every economist of the 21st Century knew that! Hell, even Keynes hinted at it.

But the “Free Tradist” argument is useful to look at despite its obvious flaws; it went as follows:
1] Before government required insurance to cover vehicle maintenance costs, vehicle owners got their vehicles repaired if and when they had the money to. Various mechanics – in one example, oil change shops – would attempt to lure customers by offering discounts and free services in connection with the oil change. Refilling wiper fluid, tire inflation, $5-off Wednesdays ... that sorta thing.

2] After states required Comprehensive coverage for these items, vehicle owners with Comprehensive insurance stopped worrying about the immediate cost for the oil change; insurance paid for it. Instant oil change shops then stopped offering discounts, and started charging for each of the extra services that used to come free. In one shop in Iowa, checking tire pressure – not even filling tires to required pressure, just checking – cost an extra $15. Filling tires was another $10 [$6.50 national average for both combined].

3] No one in the government caught on to this because “free” services had never been charged before, and once they started to be charged the charges were deemed “fair” and “reasonable” by Federal Procurement, Standards and Enforceability Agency rulings.

4] Acceptable insurance overhead for the processing of services had been fixed by federal law in 2015 to 125% of the “fair” and “reasonable” cost of the provided services, over the actuarial pool from which those services are rendered. This meant that Progressive Insurance could charge an insured driver – if premiums could be broken down by service – $32.50 in premiums for covering checking and inflating tires in Iowa where the cost was $25 in 2035, for each of five oil changes per year, when there had been no cost for this to be done twenty years earlier. Insurance premiums of $162.50 per year to pay $125 in charges for something that had been a free service a generation ago.

[Editor’s note: I don’t think I need to explain the insane dishonesty behind the concept of a “free” service when discussing the failings of the “free trade” philosophy; the Wealthy use such lures as the bait to ensure willing compliance with their Terms Of Slavery.]

5] ...and it went on interminably.

What the SinoMex Free Tradist tirade famously neglected to consider in its attack on the ideals of Progressivism is that real people were suffering real harms to their positive rights. They apparently didn’t get the memo: we, in America, stopped rewarding the Wealthy for being better than others in 2012 with the reelection of Obama, and started treating everyone identically. In every way! “Opportunity” was the Wealthy code-word for monetary manipulation of the system, through the false promise of financial benefit to the poor and middle classes.

“Equal opportunity” was false; there is only equal outcome. That is the only way human civilization can Progress. Countries like Mexico and China will eventually see through the mirage of their opulent society, just like we did. Better roads and newer schools mean little when a family is bankrupt due to vehicle maintenance issues. Roads and schools are not sustainable; vehicle maintenance – just like health care before it – is the very definition of sustainable.

Our unpatriotic critics among the Liberals continually spread conspiracy theories that Progressive policy has only been affordable thus far because we allowed Arizona, New Mexico and southern California to be annexed by Mexico in 2022. Despite the $15 trillion we earned from parting with useless desert and Los Angeles, it wasn’t done for the money; the only down side was we also lost San Diego. It was done, instead, for repatriation of imperial conquest – a point that was made at the time and that the Wealthiest Americans refused to hear. They had a history of not listening to reason; it is no coincidence that privately employed persons in America are not permitted to engage in political discussions with the federal patronage workers who keep our Republic free. It’s bad enough that Liberals are allowed to have some of these jobs themselves.

Further, there is no truth to the rumor that we spent the Annexation proceeds by 2027. It was 2029, at least, before that $15T was spent. But the results were worth it. The same health care for all, and it’s rare that anyone goes to Cuba for treatment now that we’ve forbidden travel again.

And it looks like we now are going to have the same federally protected right to vehicle maintenance as well. Luckily, Canada and Russia are in a bidding war for the annexation of Alaska to get the ball rolling. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Let Sarah Palin come out of Argentinean exile and stir up her self-sufficiency witchcraft with a different government in charge of her precious wilderness.

All I can say is: It’s about time!


Crystal ball gazing time is over. It was fun. But don’t laugh yet.

In the ‘60s, poor people couldn’t afford to go to the doctor, and Congress gave us Medicaid. We felt sorry for poor people ... pity is easy to acquire when using other peoples’ money.

In the ‘70s the middle class woke up and discovered it was their money being used to give poor people something they didn’t even have themselves – free doctor visits. And the middle class even had health insurance. What did health insurance pay for, then? Well, catastrophic care. ...like if a car blows through a stop sign and totals your new Chevy Monza. It didn’t pay for routine procedures, like immunizations or oil changes.

Also in the ‘70s, people started screaming to their state legislatures about “Well-baby care! Well-baby care!” “Studies show” that routine pre-natal and neo-natal care is the best predictor of healthy children, and people are forgoing some routine doctor visits ... so why can’t these procedures be covered? After all, those without jobs can get it “free”. ...and state insurance regulators made it so.

Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, item after item after item was nagged about to be included in health coverage ... and state insurance regulators made it so.

And the cost of health insurance went up with each new procedure that was covered.

And the cost of routine doctor visits went up for each new procedure that was covered because now “insurance paid for it”. And the cost of health insurance went up with each new increase in the cost of covered procedures.

And the notion of suing doctors for being unhealthy and having undesired outcomes didn’t help any, either.

The idea of positive rights had long been around: We The People have the right TO ... go to dental school ... have a happy childhood ... be protected from unscrupulous fast food cookeries who use desiccated cat in their “beef” topping ... whatever else. This despite the Constitution saying nothing of the sort.

We The People only have negative rights: the right to NOT ... be subjected to government intrusion into our daily lives, irrespective of pretense or benign claim to benefit. Speech, writing, associations, religion, legal railroading, ... etc.

Positive rights come with financial costs to everyone except the person exercising the right. The right TO health care means that everyone else pays my doctor. Yes, it may just be a half a cent per year per person, but there’s 300 million of us. That adds up.

Negative rights have no cost to anyone except the person exercising them. If I want to stand on the street corner and exercise my right of free speech – where my right is manifest in being left alone by the government to do it – then the cost of building my soap box, buying the bullhorn, and writing a compelling speech that will attract the attention of passers-by is on me.

If freedom of speech were a positive right, then the cost of building the soapbox would be everyone’s; the cost of buying the bullhorn, everyone’s; the cost of speech writing, everyone’s; the cost of corralling the first 400 people to stand and listen, everyone’s. You’d still pay for these things, even if you didn’t want to hear it. And then won’t you wish your rights were negative rights? The right to NOT be compelled by the government to do something you may not want to do?

Hell, you’ll pay for my right to free speech even if I have nothing to say.

There is no right to health, health care, or health coverage in our national charter. Seeing it there takes eyesight aided by self-righteous messiania. There is only the right to be free from the government telling us what to do – even if it’s for our own good. Especially if it’s for our own good.

Alright. You can laugh now.


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