Tea Party in a paragraph

From a nice Molly Ball article about the GOP Senate primary in Mississippi:

McDaniel, however, routinely casts his mission not as a break with the past but as a bulwark against a frightening future. “Millions in this country feel like strangers in this land,” he says. “An older America is passing away. A newer America is rising to take its place. We recoil from that culture. It’s foreign to us. It’s offensive to us.” This is a remarkably frank declaration of the vision of the Tea Party embraced by liberal social scientists: an expression, above all, of old white people’s anxieties at the prospect of an urbanizing, liberalizing, diversifying America.

Dare I say, maybe those liberal social scientists are onto something?  This is your Tea Party– a bunch of old white guys and their cultural compatriots who are simply afraid of an America that is not dominated by old white guys.

Liberals vs. conservatives and means versus ends

A friend and reader, Jeff D, sent me this interesting article about the inefficiencies of Medicare Advantage (running Medicare through privately managed for-profit plans) along with some cogent points:

There are several very cool things about this article:

1) Explains one factor that contributes to the high cost of managed care (similar to NC Senate proposal for Medicaid)
2) The data on insurer “risk scores” down to the county level (though the graph they use is so cluttered it prevents you from detecting the changes it is intended to display)
3) The admission from the GWB Medicare administrator that ““We very intentionally tried to overpay them a little bit.” The take-away –> we are willing to pay more for services if doing so undermines the welfare state which is capable of providing them more efficiently. Our actions can be interpreted as a tacit acknowledgement of this fact. [emphasis mine]
4) The power of doctors/insurers/AMA to keep the cost of their services to taxpayers secret through data suppression.
To me, this gets to the fundamental fact that for many conservatives, markets and/or small government are an end in and of themselves.  There’s a huge asymmetry here as there are scant few liberals who see big government or government run programs as an end in themselves.  The point of government and government programs is that they address problems that we think need addressing, whether it be keeping people healthy, safe, psychologically stable, or what have you.  I think I speak for many liberals when I say it’s the goal I care about, not so much how we get there.  Take Medicare where the goal is healthy seniors with a reasonably efficient policy.  If the government is more efficient than private providers– as it clearly is here– than the government should be the one providing.  If a free market system works better, oh, I don’t know, cleaning services for government buildings, than free markets it should be.  Again, the point is the outcome.  Medicare Advantage is just a classic case of Republicans being far more focused on means than ends.
I have no great desire for big government or government programs.  I do, however, have a desire for using government to address what I consider to be pressing social problems and promoting the general welfare.  If there are cases where less government or free markets promote these goals better, great, than that’s what I want.  And throughout, I really care about policy efficiency– are we getting a good bang for the buck on our policy choices.  And I don’t care too much whether a government monopoly or a free market gets us that efficiency, I just want efficient policy that accomplishes national goals.  I wish conservatives did, too.

Photo of the day

Truly awesome D-Day gallery from the Guardian.  These are interactive images (at the site, not here) where you can see the same image from then and now.

Omaha Beach

June 1944: American craft of all styles pictured at Omaha Beach, Normandy, during the first stages of the Allied invasion. 7 May 2014: A view of the beach near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Photographs by Popperfoto/Getty and Peter Macdiarmid/Getty


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