Reform Proposal: Legislative Suicide Clauses

You should read Megan McArdle's post predicting the objectively measurable effects of ObamaCare. She's doubtful that the claims of ObamaCare supporters about mortality rates, medical bankruptcy rates, cost inflation, etc. will be fulfilled.

Which reminded me of something I've batted around my brain for a few years now: legislation should have self-executing suicide clauses. Bills making their way though Congress should have a section describing either:

  1. the specific and objective benefits the legislation will bring about, over a specified timetable; or

  2. a disclaimer that the legislation predicts no specific benefits. (In which case, hopefully, everyone will ask why it's even proposed.)

If specific benefits are claimed, then the legislation will be automatically repealed if those criteria aren't met; the legislation must specify how the repeal will be carried out.

For example, during the Health Care Summit last month, President Obama claimed that "family insurance premiums in the individual market would decrease 14 to 20 percent".

Had this proposal been in place, the obvious retort would have been: "Oh, yeah? Let's put that test in the legislation's suicide clause. So if premiums don't decrease by at least 14 percent [over whatever timeframe you're imagining], Obamacare is automatically repealed. Deal?"

"Uh, er, well,…"

This would quickly separate the True Believers from the Bullshitters. Nancy Pelosi claims the bill will "create 4 million jobs, 400,000 jobs almost immediately"? Either put that in the Suicide Clause, Nancy, or shut up about it.

This simgle reform would cause advocates to get much more modest and realistic in their claims. And the public would then be able to judge far better than now whether a law would be worth passing.

Halfway Full Of Fishing Rods

… and a tickle on our backs:

  • My home state makes the big time, as Reason.tv chronicles the battle between Kim Ong, owner of Kim's Spa & Nails in Derry, New Hampshire, and New Hampshire's Board of Barbering, Cosmetology, and Esthetics. Kim's sin was to offer fish pedicures. Comments Reason, reasonably:
    That's right, the state that lets adults motorcycle without a helmet or drive without a seat belt won't tolerate tiny fish nibbling at the dead skin on your feet. This is just one small example of a larger problem. Most people have no idea how many local, state, and federal regulations entrepreneurs struggle against, notes Adrian Moore, an economist with Reason Foundation. "Every day new businesses try to start but find out they're not allowed to because of some regulation or it's too expensive because of some regulation," Moore says.
    I hate to see my favorite magazine making fun of my favorite state. I pledge a $10 campaign contribution to any and all bona fide candidates to the NH legislature who will promise to disband the Board of Barbering, Cosmetology, and Esthetics.

  • My local fishwrapper, Foster's Daily Democrat, commits, once again, its occasional sin of reporting opinion as fact. A recent article covered a Portsmouth gathering in support of the late "Granny D's" position on campaign finance "reform". Present were an array of activists; music was provided by the Leftist Marching Band. The Foster's reporter, Geoff Cunningham Jr., couldn't help but get caught up in the cause, irksome sentence emphasized:
    Meanwhile, the effort to push for fair elections continues. Task Force Chair and state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, said her group is looking to join Maine and Connecticut in establishing a public fund that could be drawn upon by those looking to run for state office.
    God yes. Why should politicians need to rely on people voluntarily giving money to their campaign when they can just arrange to to tap into a taxpayer-funded spigot?

  • Speaking of Granny D, I wasn't aware until recently that she was a 9/11 Truther; her obituaries avoided mentioning that. As charming as the old lady was, she had a few rabid bats in her belfry.

  • Further bit of trivia: that's the same statement Van Jones, President Obama's ex-"green jobs czar" signed, one of the reasons he's the ex-czar. He was embarrassed enough to have his name removed (it was #46) when it came to light last year.

  • A rare bit of good news: Bastiat's "broken window fallacy" was illustrated in Sunday's episode of the Pearls Before Swine comic strip. What's next, Blondie taking on the perils of trade protectionism? Prince Valiant on the folly of the minimum wage and occupational licensure?

  • Today's post title from here; actual lyric here.

Up in the Air

[4.0
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

This was nominated for 6 Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Actor, two Supporting Actresses, and (derived) Screenplay. Didn't win any of 'em, but … still, that's pretty good.

It's the story of Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney. He works for a company that handles mass employee firings at other firms. (I'm not sure how the economics works: how many companies are in enough financial trouble to do mass firings, but still have enough money lying around to hire Clooney's company?) Bingham's job requires him to spend most of his life away from his nominal hometown, Omaha. The opening scenes of the movie establish exactly how well choreographed his routine is: he navigates airports, security checkpoints, hotels, and restaurants with breathtakingly precise efficiency. And Bingham is just fine with his life: no wife and kids, no personal commitments, no strings.

Bingham is also pretty good at his job. His task is to let people know it's time to clean out their desks, but he wants to inspire them to see that as a push to a life where they might actually capture their true life's ambition a little better. (Whether he's doing that to minimize unpleasant reactions, or a genuine desire to help, who knows?)

But two complications arrive, in the form of our two Supporting Actress nominees: Bingham meets beautiful Alex, also a road warrior, who seems to be a kindred spirit, dedicated to a rootless life. And Bingham's company hires young hard-charging Natalie, who's determined to minimize the travel on which Bingham thives; she proposes a plan by which all the firing will be done via Internet video conferencing from Omaha.

It's a swell movie, well outside the usual cookie-cutter romantic comedy formula. The dialog is clever and insightful. And Clooney manages to make his character sympathetic and interesting.


Last Modified 2012-10-04 8:07 AM EDT