Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Return Of The Mutual Aid Society

The title is probably misleading, as the Odd Fellows and Knights of Columbus are still around, but Reason has a fascinating story in the "reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated" vein: mutual aid societies (in the guise of "sharing ministries") have made a comeback in the wake of Obamacare.
I predicted that Obamacare would lead to the demise of Samaritan and two similar organizations in the U.S. This model, I thought, wouldn’t be able to compete with the heavily subsidized plans soon to become available on the new health-care exchanges.
Wow, did I get that wrong. As The New York Times reported recently,
[M]embership in sharing ministries has more than doubled over the last six years, to 535,000 from about 200,000…The growth seems to have come largely through word of mouth, at churches, schools and workplaces.
There's also this:
The opportunity to help their fellow Christians is something these men and women deeply value. "Instead of wanting to be part of an insurance company, I wanted to be part of something where the body of Christ was banding together and doing what the bible commanded in a more personal and real way," Samaritan's Executive Vice President James Lansberry told me in an interview.
 Yes, this. One of the basic problems I see with the state-centered approach to charity is how much it divorces the giver from the recipient. I'm not sure how real that connection can be in an organization that now numbers 200,000 members, but it certainly seems more likely than a huge bureaucracy numbering millions.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Finding The Right Enemy, Part Deaux

Shot. Chaser.

Obamacare Enrollment Is Not The Same Thing As Paid For

Something I came across thanks to a tweet by Rich Weinstein yesterday: it turns out that, while Obamacare enrollment is only a smidge off-target, comparatively, the number of people who have actually paid for coverage is a vastly different thing:
As The Hill notes, only 8.8 million people have actually paid for their services, "a drop of almost 25 percent compared to the 11.7 million people who were signed up at the beginning of 2015." As the Kaiser Family Foundation report in the story at the tweet above notes,
Affordability remains a challenge. A recent Kaiser poll found that the overwhelming reason why people who are uninsured say they are uncovered is cost – 46% of uninsured, non-elderly adults say they tried to get coverage but found that it was too expensive. However, it is difficult to separate lack of affordability from lack of awareness of financial help that may be available, which could be addressed through more intensive outreach. For example, going into this last open enrollment period, another poll found that 82% of uninsured adults had not been contacted in the previous 6 months about the health law.
Ya think? It was always a bad idea to rely on young adults as the fiscal backbone of Obamacare. Such have poor-paying jobs, and careers delayed by minimum wage hikes keeping young people out of the labor market at near record levels — and thus delaying their advancement to other, better-paying jobs.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Cultural Parasite

So the new Ghostbusters trailer came out a few days ago. The distaff casting of the leads has turned into a culture war flashpoint, with its obvious, tedious "girl power" message front and center. Predictably, Salon has slings and arrows for the doubters (an earlier version of the headline apparently called them "angry baby men"). I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the film itself when released may have funny moments in it, but is not funny in its entirety. This is hard to do when one's form is dictated by Maoist denunciation. That this is not likely to produce good results should come as no surprise, and we can pretty readily predict the form of the destructor when it comes to any ensuing criticism:

It seems to me there's a common thread here between this reboot and Anita Sarkeesian, and it is the demand to insinuate oneself in and hijack a successful franchise and inject dogma into it for entirely political reasons. The business of making a film or a TV show or a video game are all acts that require financing and courage, two items culture critics such as Sarkeesian notably lack. Such are also, notably, philistines, which is to say they oppose the very process of making art. But there is no guarantee the public will lap up the output of such efforts. I have a rule that if a comedy can't generate enough good material to make me laugh in a trailer, it's not worth seeing, and this appears to be no exception. The problem with the Ghostbusters reboot is precisely that it has been sold as feminist agitprop, and now that the filmgoing public has figured this out (thanks to an uninspiring trailer featuring bored actors and limp deliveries), the search for villains has begun.