Yes, Virginia, Medicaid Expansion Will Harm the Poor

Last week, Virginia’s general assembly voted to expand Medicaid under the auspices of Obamacare. The commonwealth’s legislators had wisely resisted doing so for years, but four GOP state senators broke ranks to vote for this bill in exchange for a provision stipulating an anemic work requirement. The “news” media have, of course, touted this betrayal as a victory for the poor. It is however, precisely the reverse. Expansion will consign thousands of truly poor and disabled Virginians to purgatorial Medicaid waiting lists while advancing able-bodied adults with incomes above the federal poverty level (FPL) to the front of the line.

Why would Virginia pursue such an obviously unjust policy? Like all Democratic programs, it’s about power and money. Obamacare incentivizes expansion states to shift Medicaid’s focus to able-bodied adults by paying over 90 percent of their coverage costs, while the federal share of costs for traditional Medicaid patients remains below 60 percent. This does not mean, however, that doctors and hospitals will receive more money. Providers will continue to be paid less by Medicaid than the cost of treatment whether the patients are expansion or traditional enrollees. The extra money will go to political slush funds and insurance companies.

Medicaid expansion doesn’t work like the original program, which was administered by the states as a safety net for poor children, pregnant women, the disabled, and the elderly. Management of Obamacare’s corrupted version of the program is farmed out to insurance companies. A typical example is Wellcare, which accrued over $10.6 billion in 2017 from its coverage of able-bodied adults. The company plans to reinvest $2.5 billion of that revenue in the acquisition of Meridian Health Plans of Illinois and Michigan, which will increase its Medicaid portfolio by 37 percent. Meanwhile, truly poor patients die on waiting lists.

This is not conjecture. A recent study, conducted by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), revealed that at least 21,904 Americans have withered away and died on Medicaid waiting lists in the states that expanded the program under Obamacare. Even worse, the 21,904 figure reported in the study almost certainly understates the true death toll. A number of expansion states were somehow “unable” to provide FGA with death totals, while others implausibly claimed that there were none to report. It is nonetheless clear that Medicaid waiting lists in expansion states constitute a kind of death row for the genuinely poor.

The worst carnage has occurred just north of the Beltway. Maryland is easily the deadliest state for traditional Medicaid applicants, chalking up no fewer than 8,495 deaths among individuals languishing on its waiting list. During the same time period, even as these patients were left to die, the bureaucrats of the Old Line State enrolled very nearly 300,000 able-bodied adults under the aegis of Obamacare. Louisiana took second place in killing its traditional Medicaid patients. The Pelican State reported 5,534 deaths among the unfortunates who wound up on its waiting list, while 451,000 able-bodied adults were enrolled under Obamacare’s expansion.

Additional states whose Medicaid waiting lists have killed a thousand or more people include New Mexico, where 2,031 poor and disabled patients died while the state signed up 259,537 enrollees under Obamacare’s expansion scheme. Michigan left 1,970 of its residents to die while enrolling 665,057 in its new and improved Medicaid program. West Virginia allowed 1,093 patients to die on its waiting list while signing up 181,105 able-bodied enrollees. The remaining expansion states are mere also-rans with death tolls ranging from Iowa’s paltry 989 down to Minnesota, which managed to leave only 15 of its poor and disabled citizens for dead.

This is the august company Virginia’s General Assembly chose to join last week. The Old Dominion will become the 33rd state to take Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion bait, demonstrating that the commonwealth’s politicians have learned little or nothing from the deadly experiences of the previous states that were gaffed by their own greed. Those Medicaid expansion states still have nearly 250,000 poor, disabled, and elderly individuals wasting away on waiting lists. Yet Obamacare advocates in Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska — blissfully unaware of the death tolls quoted above — are working to pass expansion in November via referenda.

Maine activists have already tricked the voters of the Pine Tree State into passing a referendum approving expansion, but the program hasn’t been implemented because Governor Paul Lepage has refused to go forward: “My administration will not implement Medicaid expansion until it has been fully funded by the Legislature at the levels DHHS has calculated, and I will not support increasing taxes on Maine families.” This speaks to one of expansion’s most profound ironies. Even if Washington continues footing most of the bill, herding the able-bodied into Medicaid is a budget buster for the states. It nearly broke Maine the last time they tried it.

Medicaid expansion under Obamacare privileges able-bodied adults with incomes above FPL, states can’t pay for it in the long haul, and it causes the genuinely poor to be dumped onto waiting lists where they quietly die in their thousands. Yet the Old Dominion’s newly-minted Governor, Ralph Northam, will gleefully sign an expansion bill into law this week as the leaders of his party and the media beam benevolently from on high. His name may even be uttered by the Great Mentioner as potential presidential material. For any Democrat, that’s certainly well worth a little inequity, the occasional budget deficit, and a few thousand human sacrifices.

The post Yes, Virginia, Medicaid Expansion Will Harm the Poor appeared first on The American Spectator.

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Of Morality And Marshmallows

The Atlantic reports on a new study suggesting that the famous “marshmallow test” is unreliable as a predictor of future economic instability. Excerpt:

In the case of this new study, specifically, the failure to confirm old assumptions pointed to an important truth: that circumstances matter more in shaping children’s lives than Mischel and his colleagues seemed to appreciate.

This new paper found that among kids whose mothers had a college degree, those who waited for a second marshmallow did no better in the long run—in terms of standardized test scores and mothers’ reports of their children’s behavior—than those who dug right in. Similarly, among kids whose mothers did not have college degrees, those who waited did no better than those who gave in to temptation, once other factors like household income and the child’s home environment at age 3 (evaluated according to a standard research measure that notes, for instance, the number of books that researchers observed in the home and how responsive mothers were to their children in the researchers’ presence) were taken into account. For those kids, self-control alone couldn’t overcome economic and social disadvantages.

The failed replication of the marshmallow test does more than just debunk the earlier notion; it suggests other possible explanations for why poorer kids would be less motivated to wait for that second marshmallow. For them, daily life holds fewer guarantees: There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity.

Maybe so. But might it also be the case that children raised in more affluent homes will have been taught the value of resisting their impulses? I say this because one of my own children has had a very demanding sweet tooth from earliest childhood. He is also impulsive by nature. It has taken years of effort on the part of his mother and me to train him to say no to his impulses — not only for sugar, but, as he has gotten older and started earning spending money, his enthusiasms for buying things that strike his fancy. Many times I have pondered the difficulty he is going to have managing his money if he doesn’t get this impulsiveness under control. He’s a very good kid, highly moral and responsible, but impulsiveness is his Achilles’ heel.

He’s not being raised in poverty. We are middle class people, but culturally I guess that puts us with more in common with the affluent than not. Our impulsive child has been raised in a stable household — materially and emotionally — so there are no environmental factors that nurture his impulsiveness. From an Orthodox Christian point of view, this is simply one of his passions, something he has to struggle against. I have my own particular passions (anger and gluttony). Orthodoxy teaches that life itself is a struggle to crucify the passions and order ones desires towards the will of God. There is nothing wrong in principle with wanting to eat a marshmallow, but if your reason and your will are overcome by that desire to eat a marshmallow, you are weak, and can fall into sin. The regular fasting that Orthodox Christians do is designed to train the will to desire what God desires for us, not what we desire for ourselves.

Anyway, all of that is prelude to what I want to tell you. Last night, I was at a dinner party with some friends. One of them, N., told a long story about a local carpenter she and her husband had hired to do some renovations on their house. I won’t tell the story in depth, because the story is hers to tell, and she’s a writer. The gist of the story is that N. and her husband have been working with this guy for a long time — it’s a big project — and have gotten to know him well. He’s working class, and economically quite precarious. N. said the man has become a friend, and that she and her husband have been working hard to help him stabilize his life.

N. said — again, I’m summing up, but the details are sort of breathtaking — that the carpenter’s personal life is a study in chaos. He cannot grasp that he has the power to determine future events by the choices he makes today. A sense of moral agency totally escapes him. He sees N.’s ordinary family — they have kids — and thinks that they are simply one of fate’s winners. N. talked about the extraordinary lengths she and her husband have gone to befriend and to help this man, but how ultimately it has been futile. No matter what they say to him, no matter what they do for him, he cannot get it together. And he is leaving all kinds of chaos in his wake (several wives, kids, etc.).

I told N. that my wife and I have been in the very same situation, trying to help someone just like that who had become a friend … and in the end, concluding that it was futile. I wrote about it in the past on this blog: how I had gone to my lawyer, offering to pay him to represent this impoverished friend in a particular case. Lawyer said he would take my money and meet with the friend, but that in his lengthy experience with these cases, he could tell me that I’d be wasting my money and his time, because my friend would not follow through. It’s in the nature of people who get themselves into these kinds of situations, he said, to keep doing what got them into that situation in the first place. I told him I would be willing to take that chance to help her.

Next time I saw this friend, I told her to make an appointment with Lawyer X., that he would be willing to advise her, and that I would pay the bill. She thanked me profusely, but said that wouldn’t be necessary that she had decided to … well, that she had decided to keep doing the same stupid thing that got her into this bind in the first place. The country lawyer’s practical experience in dealing with the poor was wiser than my heart-on-the-sleeve idealism. Not for the first time did I feel like a character in a Flannery O’Connor story. (My future epitaph: “Call me Azzberry”.)

At dinner last night, my friend and I dwelled on the intractability of human nature in cases like this. She said that she had to conclude that a stable family life in childhood provides psychological goods that cannot be given through any other way. There aren’t enough government programs, personal charitable efforts, or anything else to compensate adequately for a chaotic childhood. My friend was certainly not saying that we can wash our hands of the responsibility for our neighbor’s welfare, but she was concluding — accurately — that we have to recognize the limits of our ability to change the lives of others. She was also saying that her experience with the carpenter made her more fully aware of how important it is to do everything she can to give her own children a stable home life.

Notice that I’m not saying — nor did I hear her to say — “affluent” home life. My folks never had a lot of money. We were an ordinary working-class to lower-middle-class family. But the gift my mother and father gave me of an orderly, stable childhood was priceless, I now see. How did they do it? They were both imperfect people who endured their share of difficulties in marriage, caused by their own flaws, as well as a period of economic stress. My father is no longer with us to discuss the matter, but the truth is, neither one of them would have been given over to much self-reflection on the question. They were the kind of people who would have simply said, “We made a vow,” and left it at that. For them, that was reason enough to stay together — that, and they always made it clear that the needs of us kids came before their own. That was just how my folks went through life. Not to get too philosophical about it, but for them, that was the Tao.

That wouldn’t have guaranteed stability in my family’s or my late sister’s, but they gave us such a good model of how family was supposed to work. Again, I don’t want to hold my mom and dad out to have been perfect. I don’t think there are any perfect families, and certainly mine had its particular flaws, some of which had unfortunate long-term consequences. That said, I am so very grateful to my parents for holding things together, and showing my sister and me that it is possible to build that kind of life, even when you don’t have much money.

My father was the chief breadwinner in our household, and, because they were a traditional 1950s-era couple, he was the one who dictated how our financial resources would be handled. I find this interesting with relation to the Atlantic article because having grown up very poor in the Great Depression, he ought to have been shaped by the experience of inconstancy in a particular way. Remember, the Atlantic writer said:

There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity.

That’s how my father grew up, but that same experience made him far more likely to do what he could to hedge against chaos. He talked to Ruthie and me a lot about these things, relating him to his childhood. His own father was away from home for most of my dad’s early childhood, entirely because he had to work and send money back to support his wife, children, and elderly mother, who lived in the household. That sense of vulnerability made a profound impression on my dad, who was determined that his children would not feel it, if he could help it.

Daddy wasn’t unique in that. What I can’t quite understand today is why his response to childhood poverty and insecurity was so very different from what is normal today. That is, Daddy’s response was to live as an adult in such a way that he was less vulnerable to that chaos, and in which his own children were made less vulnerable to the chaos that would have come had outside pressures broken the family apart. I’ve written many times in this space about how he had deep compassion for people who were poor and suffering victims of circumstance, but also something bordering on contempt for people who were poor and suffering, but who always blamed others, or fate, for their suffering. He would say, “You can’t do nothin’ for people like that.” This was the opinion of a man who had once been poor, and who had lived his entire life in the same community as poor people, and working with them. Kind of like that country lawyer I mentioned above.

It seems to me that aside from his personal qualities, my father was the beneficiary of a local culture that, for better or for worse, had a strong bias against people living morally disordered lives. I should add that my dad had much more hostility towards middle class and wealthy people who lived that way. “They know better,” he would say. “They don’t have an excuse.” In his case, it wasn’t so much a matter of religion — my dad wasn’t particularly observant — as it was a matter of shame and honor. The culture that shaped my father’s code said it was dishonorable for men and women to live in ways that violated its core moral code. I heard my dad say on a number of occasions, “There’s no shame in being poor,” but he also spoke with stern judgment against men who abandoned their families, people who wouldn’t work, and so forth.

That code could be harsh, but it was more realistic about life than a lot of what passes for wisdom today. I think that has a lot to do with why Jordan Peterson is so popular. He gives to young men a sense of moral agency. Peterson is not Moses coming down from the summit of Sinai, but he talks common sense to a culture that has forgotten it. There has never been a society, and never will be a society, in which somebody can live like a fool and not pay the consequences — and for that matter, inflict consequences on others. You can’t not show up for work and expect to keep your job forever. You can’t ignore your kids and expect that they will grow up to be responsible people. You can’t get loaded every weekend and wonder why your roof is falling in, and won’t fix itself. You can’t allow television and social media to raise your children, and expect that they will be good.  And so forth.

“The world doesn’t owe you a living,” my father would lecture me, usually when I hadn’t done my homework, or failed to do something I was supposed to have done. I suppose this attitude is what made my dad a natural conservative. He couldn’t stand people who were ungrateful and lazy. His basic attitude towards us kids was: I bust my ass to provide for y’all, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you waste the opportunities you’ve been given. There was a time in my life when I thought he was so square, but the older I get, the more I see that there really isn’t any other way to live. My dad was keen to help people who were down on their luck, and I see now that he allowed himself to be taken advantage of by some folks with hard-luck stories. Mostly, though, what he was eager to do was to teach people how to help themselves, and to encourage them to do so. For him, this was a matter of natural justice. A society in which people were rewarded even though they did the wrong thing, or failed to do the right thing, was not a just or good society. And doing the right thing always meant subjugating your own desires to the greater good, especially the greater good of your family.

Here’s a funny thing: a few years back, when I was working with the African-American actor Wendell Pierce on his memoir of growing up in south Louisiana, I spent some time speaking with his Uncle L.C. Edwards, the last surviving member of Wendell’s parents’ generation. Uncle L.C. was the same age as my father, and like him, had grown up in rural poverty. I loved the stories of L.C.’s parents (that is, Wendell’s grandparents): poor black farmers who weren’t educated, but who had a very strong religious ethic, and who placed enormous value on education and self-discipline as the only reliable means of self-advancement. Poverty was the enemy of both L.C. and my father, but Lloyd and his siblings also had to deal with Jim Crow. If memory serves, every one of the children of Wendell’s grandparents got educated, and escaped poverty. I’m telling you, the chapter on Papo and Mamo (the grandchildren’s name for L.C.’s parents) is worth the price of the book. Here’s a characteristic excerpt:

One Christmas evening after supper, the Edwardses went to call on their College Point neighbors, to wish them a happy holiday. The kids were startled to go into one house and to see that all that family had eaten for their Christmas meal was potatoes and grits. When they returned home, Papo told the children, “This is what I mean when I tell you it’s important to save for a rainy day. If you put your money aside now, you will have enough to eat well on Christmas.”

Given the man Papo was, if the Edwardses had any food left, he probably took it to that poor family and didn’t tell his own children for the sake of preserving their neighbors’ dignity.

His children remembered Papo as a slow talker but a deep thinker. He never made a quick decision, but acted only after prayer, deliberation, and sleeping on it. Whatever the answer was, he arrived at it through careful reason, not passion. Acting on impulse was the sure way to lose your money, in Papo’s view.

Papo worked for a time in a sugar factory and received his weekly wages in a brown packet. He had a firm rule with himself: Wait twenty-four hours before spending a penny of it. Uncle L.C. said that as a young working man, he thought his father’s rule was silly. You have the money, he figured, so why not enjoy it?

But when he got married and started a family of his own, he understood Papo’s good sense and followed the rule himself. Uncle L.C., who worked at the DuPont chemical plant, has done well through saving and investing over the years. To this day, he credits Papo for teaching him by word and example the importance of being careful with your money and not letting your passions guide your decisions.

Talking with L.C. was like speaking with a black version of my own father. Though he had long been in retirement when I met him, L.C. was always thinking of ways he could make a little money. He told me about how he would take fatherless black boys from a nearby trailer park, and try to teach them something about working to make money and to plan for the future. He told me how sorry he felt for those young men, who had no father in the home to offer them direction, or a sense of responsible manhood.

But his pity had strict limits. Like my own father, L.C. was death on those who wouldn’t work or practice self-discipline. He told me about how his own wife, a retired public schoolteacher, quit her job the very day the last of their adult children no longer needed their help paying for college. She was of a generation for whom education was the most precious thing, their ticket out of poverty and oppression. Today, though, she was worn down by students who wouldn’t work, wouldn’t behave themselves, and parents who blamed the schools and the teachers for their kids’ failures.

American culture is far less friendly to the worldview of those Depression babies like L.C. and my father. Politics and economics are complicated things. You can’t simply apply a moral code to every situation, and expect it to solve the problem. But let’s recognize this: very few Americans in 2018 are as materially poor as my dad and L.C. Edwards were when they came into this world in the 1930s. Is there anybody in America today who is poorer than a black child born to uneducated farmers living in the Deep South under American apartheid? And yet, look what they did with what they had been given! There never will be a society in which family won’t matter, and in which moral self-discipline won’t matter. 

The wealthy, and those with social connections, can absorb a lot more disorder than the less well off can, but money won’t last forever.

The world we have today is wealthier, and in some ways is better able to defray the cost of that disorder. We have more of a social safety net today than we did back then. But this world is much poorer in social capital, which is not something you can raise from Chinese bankers.

There’s a lot of brokenness in this country, and no clear way to fix it. The people my dinner companion and I were talking about last night are white. They live in Charles Murray’s fictional Fishtown. They diverge greatly from the core values and practices of stable middle-class and well-off Americans, in ways that were not true a couple of generations ago. Society has grown far more individualistic and tolerant of non-conformity. This is not entirely a bad thing! But the cost to people who don’t have a lot of social and material capital to begin with has been immense. People love to imagine that if only we brought good jobs back to America, or voted in this or that political party, then these problems would solve themselves. I don’t believe that’s true. That’s no reason not to try to improve opportunities for people, but there are no government programs or private charitable initiatives that can meaningfully compensate for the loss of a sense of moral order and purpose.

Finally, I phrase occurred to me while writing this post, a fragment from something I’d read ages ago. I googled it, and the source turned up here. Here is the excerpt I was thinking about. The writer is talking about the 1950s:

It was a more human world in that it was a sexier world, because sex was still a story. Each high school senior class had exactly one girl who got pregnant and one guy who was the father, and it was the town’s annual scandal. Either she went somewhere and had the baby and put it up for adoption, or she brought it home as a new baby sister, or the couple got married and the town topic changed. It was a stricter, tougher society, but its bruising sanctions came from ancient wisdom.

We have all had a moment when all of a sudden we looked around and thought: The world is changing, I am seeing it change. This is for me the moment when the new America began: I was at a graduation ceremony at a public high school in New Jersey. It was 1971 or 1972. One by one a stream of black-robed students walked across the stage and received their diplomas. And a pretty young girl with red hair, big under her graduation gown, walked up to receive hers. The auditorium stood up and applauded. I looked at my sister: “She’s going to have a baby.”

The girl was eight months pregnant and had had the courage to go through with her pregnancy and take her finals and finish school despite society’s disapproval.

But: Society wasn’t disapproving. It was applauding. Applause is a right and generous response for a young girl with grit and heart. And yet, in the sound of that applause I heard a wall falling, a thousand-year wall, a wall of sanctions that said: We as a society do not approve of teenaged unwed motherhood because it is not good for the child, not good for the mother and not good for us.

The old America had a delicate sense of the difference between the general (“We disapprove”) and the particular (Let’s go help her”). We had the moral self-confidence to sustain the paradox, to sustain the distance between “official” disapproval and “unofficial” succor. The old America would not have applauded the girl in the big graduation gown, but some of its individuals would have helped her not only materially but with some measure of emotional support. We don’t so much anymore. For all our tolerance and talk we don’t show much love to what used to be called girls in trouble. As we’ve gotten more open-minded we’ve gotten more closed-hearted.

Message to society: What you applaud, you encourage. And: Watch out what you celebrate.

The author of those words is Peggy Noonan. She published them in, get this, 1992. Some things have gotten better over the last 26 years. For example, when she published this, David Dinkins was mayor of her town, New York City, and the city would record just over 2,000 homicides. Know how many the city recorded last year, 25 years after the column was published? Only 290.  Progress is real!

On the other hand, I can’t get out of my head the words spoken to me by a professor at an Evangelical Christian college. Speaking about the student body, which is predominantly white, he told me that he didn’t think most of them would ever be able to form stable families. I was shocked by this.These were not kids from the blighted projects or wretched rural trailer parks. Why not? I asked.

He said, “Because they have never seen it done.”

We live in a society in which the moral code that we applaud and the people we celebrate all say: Take the marshmallow now, and don’t worry about the future. This is going to cost us.

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It’s Walker Percy Weekend 2018

Greetings from St. Francisville, Louisiana. When I checked into my hotel for Walker Percy Weekend (I live in Baton Rouge, now, 40 miles away), the desk clerk looked at my driver’s license, then said: “You Miss Ruthie’s brother? Lord, everybody loved Miss Ruthie.”

That made me feel so good. Back home. If you want to know why everybody loved Miss Ruthie, here it is.

If you are not a Mars Hill Audio Journal subscriber, well, what’s wrong with you? It’s so, so great. People still stop me to thank me for putting them onto it. Users of iOS can download the Mars Hill app, and listen to some content for free. Ken Myers has produced a special Walker Percy discussion that everyone, not just Journal subscribers, can access on the app. Here’s the script for the introduction:

This is the Friday Feature for June 1st from MARS HILL AUDIO; I’m Ken Myers.

Today is the first day of the fifth annual Walker Percy Weekend in St. Francisville, Louisiana. The website for this unique festival celebrating Walker Percy’s life and work assures potential participants that it will be “intellectually serious but broadly accessible.” We also learn that bourbon will be consumed, although (one hopes) not in quantities comparable to some of Percy’s characters. As I recall, in Love in the Ruins, Dr. Thomas More holed up in a Howard Johnson’s with 15 cases of Early Times.

Love in the Ruins, published in 1971 and a finalist for a National Book Award, bears the subtitle The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World. Percy once commented on the book: “A serious novel about the destruction of the United States and the end of the world should perform the function of prophecy in reverse. The novelist writes about the coming end in order to warn against present ills and so avert the end.” As Ralph Wood has recently written, Percy “doubted the efficacy of a serene Christian humanism. Better to serve as the canary in the coal mine, so as to detect the asphyxiating gas that sickens unto death.”

Ralph Wood has given talks at previous Walker Percy weekends. I’m told he won’t be there this year, but two weeks back, The American Conservative published an article he wrote about Love in the Ruins called “Walker Percy’s Funny and Frightening Prophecy.” Earlier this week, I called Dr. Wood in his office to chat about the article and about Percy more generally. We agreed that Percy’s work is not as well known as it may have been 20 years ago, or at the time of his death in 1990. I asked Wood why he thought Percy has not enjoyed as much attention as another 20th century Southern Catholic writer, Flannery O’Connor.

[RALPH WOOD QUOTE]

Since this weekend is an occasion for concentrated attention to Walker Percy, at least in St. Francisville, we’ve just released a new Audio Reprint: a reading of an article by John F. Desmond called “Walker Percy and Suicide.” The article compares themes in Percy’s fiction and non-fiction with reflections about selfhood in Camus and Kierkegaard. You can purchase that reading for $2 from our website and listen to it through our app or via any web browser.

Way back in 1993, on volume 3 of the Journal, I talked with Jay Tolson, who had just written Pilgrim in the Ruins: a Life of Walker Percy. In his book, Tolson reported that — before he started writing fiction, he read a number of works by Kafka and Dostoevsky, stories about figures who were outcasts in search of spiritual meaning. I asked Jay Tolson if Percy felt himself to be such a figure.

[TOLSON QUOTE]

Jay Tolson, from volume 3 of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal. Tolson’s Pilgrim in the Ruins: a Life of Walker Percy was the first Percy biography to appear after Percy’s death in 1990. In 1997, Patrick Samway’s book, Walker Percy: A Life, was published. Samway was a guest on volume 27 of the Journal, in a conversation in which we talked about Percy’s relationship with the characters of his books.

[SAMWAY QUOTE]

Patrick Samway, the author of Walker Percy: A Life, from volume 27 of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal.

By the way, we’ve just released volume 139, and if you’re not currently a subscriber, I invite you to take the plunge, sign up today, and enjoy over two hours of listening to something intellectually serious but broadly accessible. Guests include Simon Oliver, Matthew Levering, and Esther Lightcap Meek, and the overarching theme that emerged in the six conversations was how modern culture obscures the nature of Creation.

On next week’s Friday Feature, I’ll be talking with Jeremy Beer about the late Christopher Lasch. For MARS HILL AUDIO, I’m Ken Myers.

I’m off to the Magnolia Cafe now, where Charlie Clark and I will be hosting a back porch conversation about his Fare Forward article, “The Walker Percy Option.” The event is sponsored by The American Conservative, which is picking up the bar tab. Don’t you wish you were here?

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Louisiana Governor Signs Knife Law Reform, Removes Switchblade Ban

Louisiana Governor Signs Knife Law Reform, Removes Switchblade Ban
Louisiana Governor Signs Knife Law Reform, Removes Switchblade Ban

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- On 25 May, 2018, Governor Edwards of Louisiana signed HB 892 into law. The bill now becomes ACT 341, which reforms Louisiana knife law, removing a 1950’s era ban on switchblades.  From wafb.com:

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) –

On Friday, May 25, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed 79 bills into new laws.

The bills he signed are as follows:

(snip)

ACT 341 – HB 892 Provides relative to the illegal carrying of certain knives.

The wording of HB892, now ACT 341, is as shown at legiscan.   From legiscan.com:

(4)(a)
The manufacture, ownership, possession, custody or use intentional concealment on one’s person of any switchblade knife, spring knife, or other knife or similar instrument having a blade which may be automatically unfolded or extended from a handle by the manipulation of a button, switch, latch, or similar contrivance located on the handle. Section 2. R.S. 14:95(J) is hereby repealed in its entirety.


CODING:
Words in struck through type are deletions from existing law; words underscored are additions.

The legislative history of R.S 14:95 indicates the switchblade ban was put into place in 1956. The banning of switchblade knives was based on a propaganda campaign initiated in New York by Congressman James J. Delaney. Congressman Delany made a name for himself by pushing emotional appeals to ban switchblade knives, claiming that they were only useful for crime. Other New York politicians joined him. The same arguments used by the knife banners are in use today by current activists pushing for a disarmed population. From 1958, arguing for a national ban on switchblade knives, Senator Frank J. Pino:

New York State Senator Frank J. Pino of Brooklyn had a glib rebuttal for the sportsman angle. He testified, “Actually, these knives are, I would say inherently dangerous, they have only one purpose. They are just deadly. They are lethal weapons, and they are suited for crime, that is all they are suited for. So that the sportsmen really have nothing substantial to complain about. But they do complain. It is an emotional thing with them, somehow.

Sound familar? It should. Substitute “assault weapons” for knives and the same paragraph would fit in perfectly with the emotional arguments being pushed today to ban semi-automatic rifles. In 1958, there were plenty of semi-automatic rifles available. They could be freely ordered through the mail. So could anti-aircraft cannon, anti-tank cannon, and ammunition. But crime was very low, and the understanding of the limits of the Commerce clause was still relatively strong.

It was understood that the federal govenment could not regulate commerce inside of state borders.  That is why federal legislation was restricted to banning importation of switchblade knives and banning interstate transportation of switchblade knives. Even the interstate transport ban was recognized by the Department of Justice as problematic, and expansive of federal power. From knife-expert.com:

Deputy Attorney General William P. Rogers wrote, “The Department of Justice is unable to recommend enactment of this legislation. 

 “The committee may wish to consider whether the problem to which this legislation is addressed is one properly within the police powers of the various States. As you know, Federal law now prohibits the interstate transportation of certain inherently dangerous articles such as dynamite and nitroglycerin on carriers also transporting passengers. The instant measures would extend the doctrine upon which such prohibitions are based by prohibiting the transportation of a single item which is not inherently dangerous but requires the introduction of a wrongful human element to make it so. “Switchblade knives in the hands of criminals are, of course, potentially dangerous weapons. However, since they serve useful and even essential purposes in the hands of persons such as sportsmen, shipping clerks, and others engaged in lawful pursuits, the committee may deem it preferable that they be regulated at the State rather than the Federal level.”

In the end, the power of yellow journalism to create crises where none existed, triumphed. Congress passed the federal ban, following the example of several states. A pattern for the passage of national laws based on an emotion driven, media favored agenda, had been created.

Louisiana has joined the trend of reversing that injustice. The number of states that still ban switchblade knives is growing smaller and smaller.

It has taken six decades, likely confiscations of millions of knives from people who never harmed anyone; thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of lives ruined by arrests and convictions that served no useful purpose.

It is an object lesson in bad legislation.

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©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch


About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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At slave auctions children were forcibly separated from their mothers …

On March 2 and 3, 1859, Pierce Mease Butler of the Butler Plantation estates in the Georgia Sea Islands sold 436 men, women, and children, including 30 babies, to buyers and speculators from New York to Louisiana. Slave auctions were long a part of the fabric of American life, but on the eve of the Civil War, this unprecedented sale was noteworthy not only for its size but because of the fact that the Gullah Geechee slaves of Butler Island, Georgia, had generally not been sold on the open market.

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An Overdose Is Not a Murder

A couple of years ago at a motel in Columbus, a young woman shared a bag of heroin with her father. Both of them nodded off. Because she woke up and he did not, she was sentenced to three years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

That arbitrary outcome encapsulates the senseless cruelty of a strategy that in recent years has gained favor among prosecutors across the country: treating opioid-related deaths as homicides, regardless of intent. The resulting prosecutions not only are manifestly unjust but could make fatal overdoses more likely by discouraging bystanders from seeking help.

A recent New York Times investigation identified more than 1,000 arrests or prosecutions related to accidental opioid deaths in 15 states from 2015 through 2017, a period when the annual number of cases almost doubled. According to a 2017 report from the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), annual press mentions of such prosecutions more than tripled between 2011 and 2016, from 363 to 1,178. DPA found examples in all but four states.

Twenty states have laws that specifically address drug-induced homicide, DPA senior staff attorney Lindsay LaSalle notes in the report, while others “charge the offense of drug delivery resulting in death under various felony-murder, depraved heart, or involuntary or voluntary manslaughter laws.” Possible prison sentences range from two years to life. Under federal law, drug distribution resulting in death or serious injury is punishable by 20 years to life.

Although legislators and prosecutors may portray such cases as a way to punish callous, death-dealing drug traffickers, the defendant is usually someone close to the decedent. As a practical matter, that makes sense, because the higher up you go in the distribution chain, the harder it is to prove a connection between the defendant and a particular consumer.

The upshot is that a defendant’s role in “distributing” a drug may be limited to buying it for someone else, arranging a purchase, or sharing a stash. When money changes hands, the dealers are often selling just enough to finance their own habits.

Looking at cases in Pennsylvania during the first half of 2017, the Times found that three-quarters of the defendants were themselves drug users. Last year WITI, the Fox station in Milwaukee, reviewed the 100 most recent prosecutions for drug-induced homicide in Wisconsin and found that “just 11 defendants were higher-level drug dealers,” while the rest were friends, relatives, or “low-level street dealers.”

A woman in Minnesota got four years for sharing a fentanyl patch with her fiancé. A New York woman got six years for mailing a friend some heroin at his request while he was on a business trip in Chicago. A Louisiana man got a life sentence for using heroin with his girlfriend.

“Many law enforcement officers hope that the cases act as a deterrent,” the Times notes. But it may not be the kind of deterrent they have in mind.

Because prompt medical attention is crucial in saving people from potentially fatal opioid overdoses, 40 states and the District Columbia have enacted “911 Good Samaritan” laws that shield bystanders from some drug-related charges when they call for help. But those laws do not apply to homicide charges.

A 2002 analysis of drug-induced homicide prosecutions in New Jersey found that most of the defendants were friends of the decedents and “in some cases the people who sought emergency care for them.” A Minnesota woman is serving a six-year prison sentence because she let her husband take methadone prescribed for her, even though she called 911 and tried to save his life. A woman who was charged with drug-induced homicide in Illinois because she helped her husband buy heroin was the person who called 911 when he overdosed.

“The most common reason people cite for not calling 911 in the event of an overdose is fear of police involvement,” DPA’s LaSalle notes. “The only behavior that is deterred by drug-induced homicide prosecutions is the seeking of life-saving medical assistance.”

© Copyright 2018 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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UMC gears up to push back against looming state budget cuts, which it says could “decimate” the New Orleans hospital

University Medical Center in New Orleans is again revving up a campaign aimed at preventing further cuts to public health spending in Louisiana, warning of dire consequences if the budget ax falls. Hospital officials gathered with business and community …

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No Way José

With at least 11 million false-documented illegals in the United States – the real number is doubtless twice that – it’s clear that Mexican nationals feel entitled to defy U.S. immigration law. At the same time, the Pueblo Sin Fronteras crowd, denounces the United States as exploitive and slams the American founders as a pack of white supremacists. That calls for a look at José Vasconcelos (1882-1959), a major figure in Mexican history and influential to this day. 

Vasconcelos served as rector of the National University of Mexico, and president Alvaro Obregon appointed him as minister of public education from 1921-24. The next year he authored The Cosmic Race, an essay contending that “the mixed race that inhabits the Ibero-American continent,” is destined to become “the first synthetic race of the earth,” surpassing the “four racial trunks: the Black, the Indian, the Mongol, and the White.” 

“The basis of white civilization is fuel,” explains the erudite Vasconcelos, who ran for president of Mexico in 1929. “It served as a protection against the long winters. Then, it was discovered that its power could be used not only for warmth, but also for work; and the motor was born.” On the other hand, “the mestizo, the Indian, and even the Black are superior to the White in a countless number of properly spiritual capacities.”

According to Vasconcellos, who was also an attorney, “no race returns. Each one states its mission, accomplishes it, and passes away.” Therefore, “it will be seen immediately that we belong to tomorrow, while the Anglo-Saxons are gradually becoming more a part of yesterday.” 

The future belongs to “the Hispanic race,” and “only the Iberian part of the continent possesses the spiritual factors, the race, and the territory necessary for the great enterprise of initiating the new universal era of Humanity.” As the other races pass into history, Vasconcelos hails, “the creation of a new race,” and “only the Iberian part of the continent possesses the spiritual factors, the race, and the territory necessary” to create “the final race, the cosmic race.” 

And so on, a rather vile gazpacho of racism and ignorance from Mexico’s minister of public education from 1921-24, who went on to run for president.  So there’s a “final solution” aspect to his thought, which Mexican-American Communists like Bert Corona quickly spotted. 

As Corona told biographer Mario Garcia in Memoirs of Chicano History, Vasconcelos’ racial theory was “close to the kind of German racial superiority theory supported by Hitler. In fact, Vasconcelos himself became a fascist. Many Chicanos considered Vasconcelos and his views of the ‘cosmic race’ as an inspiration. But I recall Vasconcelos as a fascist.” As for the notion that Latinos, Mexicanos or Chicanos are superior to everyone else, Corona explained, “I couldn’t accept all this. We’re not a superior race.”

Corona, who has a charter school named after him, is right about that, but Vasconcelos’ cosmic-race theory remains the inspiration for groups such as the National Council of La Raza and MEChA, the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán, the lost raza homeland that leftists created in the sixties. California attorney general Xavier Becerra, the sanctuary state enforcer once on Hillary Clinton’s short list as a running mate, is a proud MEChA alum. 

The cosmic-race theory fuels the sense of entitlement that sends caravans to the border, demanding entry to the United States and benefits from American taxpayers. After all, the incoming dreamers are only fulfilling their destiny by displacing the evil white “Yankees.” As Vasconcelos wrote, after Spain conquered America, “the Napoleonic stupidity gave Louisiana away to the Englishmen from this side of the ocean, to the Yankees.”

Our age, says the Cosmic Race author, isa conflict of Latinism against Anglo-Saxonism,” and the anglos are destined to disappear. Vasconcelos’ spiritual followers are working  hard on the replacement process. When California senate boss Kevin de Leon appointed false-documented Mexican national Lizbeth Mateo to the California Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee, he said the dreamers were “in many ways more American” than those who want illegals deported. 

In other words, they are better people, and more deserving than those actual U.S. citizens who seek to uphold the rule of law and respect U.S. sovereignty. Vasconcelos is also in the house when California politicians protect violent criminals from federal officials. After all, even the worst criminal illegals are superior to those inferior Yankee anglos, who are destined to disappear. 

As Bert Corona said, no way José. Latinos, Mexicans and Chicanos are not a superior race, even if leftist Democrats think so. All parties would do well to ignore the fascist Vasconcelos and take up a more worthy cause.

Since the 1920s, Mexico has been dominated by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), a reactionary kleptocracy, prone to violence against protesting students, that prefers to export problems to the United States. True dreamers should stay home and work for a more democratic Mexico that upholds human rights, respects international borders, and allows the entrepreneurial energy of the people to flourish.  

Read more from Front Page Magazine…

Knife Rights’ Louisiana Switchblade Ban Repeal Bill Signed

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KnifeRights.org
KnifeRights.org

Gilbert, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- Knife Rights’ bill to repeal Louisiana’s antiquated ban on the possession of switchblade knives, HB 892, was signed by Governor Edwards! Switchblade Freedom Day in Louisiana will be August 1, 2018, when the new law goes into effect.

We’d like to acknowledge Representative Mark Wright for his sponsorship and leadership and Senator Bodi White for shepherding the bill through the Senate.

Thanks to all of you who called and emailed your legislators and Governor Edwards to ask them to support the bill. When you call and email, it is a huge help to Todd Rathner, our Director of Legislative Affairs, who worked tirelessly in Louisiana on this bill.

Knife Rights would also like to express our appreciation to Dan Zelenka, President of the Louisiana Shooters Association, for his efforts in laying the groundwork for this bill. We are also grateful to Knife Rights board member and Louisiana resident Tom Gresham and Knife Rights member Clifford Grout for their roles in assisting us in this effort.

HB 892 repeals the total ban on switchblade knives in Louisiana and allows for the possession of a switchblade knife provided it is not “intentionally concealed on one’s person.” That provision was necessary to gain the neutrality of the Sheriffs and the State Police. Manufacture and sale of automatic knives would also become legal.

Allowing for the concealed carry of a switchblade in Louisiana is complicated because it would require a significant change to Louisiana’s concealed carry law. Knife Rights will continue to look for opportunities to fix this aspect of the law in the future.

Knife Rights’ record of 29 bills repealing knife bans at the state and local levels in 21 states in the past 8 years is unrivaled. With your support, Knife Rights is rewriting knife law in America.

Knife RightsAbout:
Knife Rights (www.KnifeRights.org) is America’s Grassroots Knife Owners Organization, working towards a Sharper Future for all knife owners. Knife Rights is dedicated to providing knife owners an effective voice in public policy. Become a Knife Rights member and make a contribution to support the fight for your knife rights. Visit www.kniferights.org

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