The Danish government has been inadvertently paying benefits to citizens fighting for the Islamic State in Syria, Danish officials said Tuesday, as outrage grows that militants are manipulating the countryâ€™s generous welfare system.
About 145 Danes have traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight for militant groups since 2012, according to the Danish security and intelligence services.
Officials said this week that they had identified a number of Danish citizens who, while receiving government disability pensions, had traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
â€œIt is a huge scandal that we are paying out money from the welfare funds in Denmark to people who are going to Syria and elsewhere in the world to undermine democracy that we have been fighting for for hundreds of years,â€ the countryâ€™s minister of labor, Troels Lund Poulsen, said.
Last year, the news media reported that more than two dozen Danish citizens receiving unemployment benefits had traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS, even though the law requires recipients to live in Denmark.
In a bold move today that is sure to create controversy among fans of the company, Mattel announced its new Barbie doll; â€˜Public Assistance Barbieâ€™ will be marketed directly to inner-city youths and children of welfare recipients.
â€Since 1959 Barbie dolls have been through major changes to reflect the times we live in. Today with over 40% of Americans on some sort of public assistance, we felt the time was right for â€˜Public Assistance Barbie,â€ said Mattel spokesman Rick Reynolds. â€œAfter doing research on people receiving assistance, we have come out with what we think is a fair and sensitive portrayal of that kind of person with our new doll. Each Public Assistance Barbie will come with a new Cadillac, Puma sweats, a pack of Newports, an Obama phone, an EBT card, and a rack of Budweiser. She will also come in three styles: heavily tattooed and pierced, pregnant and smoking, and a â€˜black eyeâ€™ version from when drunken Ken beat her for not paying the cable bill. Public Assistance Barbies will be on the shelves in time for your holiday purchases, and will come in special theft-deterrent boxes. EBT cards cannot be used to purchase, unfortunately.â€
Daniel Henninger argues, in the Wall Street Journal, that we have nothing to worry about: Obamacare is going to collapse of its own weight.
The public’s dislike of ObamaCare isn’t growing with every new poll for reasons of philosophical attachment to notions of liberty and choice. Fear of ObamaCare is growing because a cascade of news suggests that ObamaCare is an impending catastrophe.
Big labor unions and smaller franchise restaurant owners want out. UPS dropped coverage for employed spouses. Corporations such as Walgreens and IBM IBM are transferring employees or retirees into private insurance exchanges. Because of ObamaCare, the Cleveland Clinic has announced early retirements for staff and possible layoffs. The federal government this week made public its estimate of premium costs for the federal health-care exchanges. It is a morass, revealing the law’s underappreciated operational complexity.
But ObamaCare’s Achilles’ heel is technology. The software glitches are going to drive people insane.
Creating really large software for institutions is hard. Creating big software that can communicate across unrelated institutions is unimaginably hard. ObamaCare’s software has to communicateâ€”accuratelyâ€”across a mind-boggling array of institutions: HHS, the IRS, Medicare, the state-run exchanges, and a whole galaxy of private insurers’ and employers’ software systems.
Recalling Rep. Thomas’s 1999 remark about Medicare setting prices for 3,000 counties, there is already mispricing of ObamaCare’s insurance policies inside the exchanges set up in the states.
The odds of ObamaCare’s eventual self-collapse look stronger every day. After that happens, then what? Try truly universal health insurance? Not bloody likely if the aghast U.S. public has any say.
Enacted with zero Republican votes, ObamaCare is the solely owned creation of the Democrats’ belief in their own limitless powers to fashion goodness out of legislated entitlements. Sometimes social experiments go wrong. In the end, the only one who supported Frankenstein was Dr. Frankenstein.
CNS News reports that the United States has arrived at that interesting point in the evolution of the Welfare State at which the takers outnumber the givers.
The number of Americans receiving subsidized food assistance from the federal government has risen to 101 million, representing roughly a third of the U.S. population.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a total of 101,000,000 people currently participate in at least one of the 15 food programs offered by the agency, at a cost of $114 billion in fiscal year 2012.
That means the number of Americans receiving food assistance has surpassed the number of full-time private sector workers in the U.S.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 97,180,000 full-time private sector workers in 2012.
The population of the U.S. is 316.2 million people, meaning nearly a third of Americans receive food aid from the government.
Richard Fernandez likens the economic destruction being produced by the current delusional and ever over-reaching Welfare State policies of the international elite to the waste of human lives produced in WWI by the diplomatic and strategic incompetence of an earlier elite, predicting that Obama, Bloomberg, Jerry Brown, and their European equivalents are going to wind up not long down the road just as popular as Germany’s Wilhelm II and Russia’s Nicholas II were in 1918.
A whole generation is finished. Like their counterparts a hundred years ago, the European young are being sent to their professional death in millions. The carnage at both ends of the age spectrum â€” with the old being killed off and the youngâ€™s professional lives essentially buried â€” is a sign that the welfare state, the future on offer to â€œJuliaâ€ and Sandra Fluke, is now an empty box.
The guys who voted for Hope and Change voted for nothing. The cupboard is bare. Everything that is left in the dying system is being spent to provide a luxurious lifestyle for people like Sir David Nicholson.
Itâ€™s broke. Bust. Finished. Itâ€™s not true, as Mayor Bloomberg confidently says that government, unlike ordinary people, doesnâ€™t have to pay their debts.
â€œWe are spending money we donâ€™t have,â€ Mr. Bloomberg explained. â€œItâ€™s not like your household. In your household, people are saying, â€˜Oh, you canâ€™t spend money you donâ€™t have.â€™ That is true for your household because nobody is going to lend you an infinite amount of money. When it comes to the United States federal government, people do seem willing to lend us an infinite amount of money. â€¦ Our debt is so big and so many people own it that itâ€™s preposterous to think that they would stop selling us more. Itâ€™s the old story: If you owe the bank $50,000, you got a problem. If you owe the bank $50 million, they got a problem. And thatâ€™s a problem for the lenders. They canâ€™t stop lending us more money.â€
Itâ€™s not true any more than it was true that machine gun bullets wouldnâ€™t kill you at the Somme if you went over the top kicking a soccer ball, as some did. …
Bloomberg canâ€™t believe theyâ€™ll stop; because thatâ€™s the way its always been in the past? The establishment genuinely thinks the music will keep playing. And they wonâ€™t believe it will stop until it actually does.
The current elite has abused, as very few elites have abused in the past, the power of trust. Theyâ€™ve taken legitimacy built by generations of competence and used it to paper over mediocrity and madness. The trust they had to squander was immense; and they squandered it.
When the crash happens the disillusionment will be tremendous. It wonâ€™t be the kind of disillusion that loses elections or topples a government. It will the kind of disgust that pulls down a civilization.
I missed the part about there being some democrat president who actually wanted to cut retirement programs, but that (flattering-to-his-own-side) detail aside, I think Mr. Yglesias is basically right. A kind of all-time first.
The welfare state has entropy, Original Sin, and Man’s Fallen Nature on its side. Opposing it, reducing it, reforming it is hard. Being a liberal is like ordering a second Martini or agreeing to have dessert, easy. That’s actually why there are so many liberal politicians. The guys determined to be elected, at any cost, figured out long ago which side has the easier task.
What we learned, in other words, is that even with a Democratic President in the White House who’s eager to cut spending on retirement programs they still don’t get cut. That’s how robust the welfare state is. Recall that the last time we had a Republican President in the White House what he did was make Medicare benefits significantly more generous. Recall also that Mitt Romney ran on a pledge to increase Medicare benefits for ten years and then offset that by cutting benefits for younger people in the future. That’s how robust the welfare state is. Concern trolling about Democratic senators’ willingness to blink on taxes is neat, but all we’re seeing again and again is confirmation of Paul Pierson’s thesis from Dismantling the Welfare State?, namely that dismantling the welfare state is incredibly difficult.
If you want to worry about something, worry about the United States of America. What we’ve seen time and again for the past five years is a breakdown of responsible party government in the United States. Nobody gets their way legislatively, so nobody has to take the fall when things work out poorly.
This is a true story. It happened exactly as described.
It was around noon on election day, November 6, 2012. I was sitting in McDonalds. A group of old retired men were enthusiastically talking about the election. …
A couple was waiting in line. They were a typical, mid-forties, white, middle class couple. They were listening to the old guys discussing the election and the state of the union in general.
One of the retired guys said something negative about “Obama-Care” and the middle-class white guy in line turned to him suddenly and said, “Oh yeah, well I’ll have you know that if it wasn’t for Obama’s healthcare plan, I wouldn’t have any health insurance right now.”
This silenced the old guys. He continued, appearing to speak to the room in general, “Obama made it possible for me to cut the cost of my insurance by over 80%, so I voted for him again.”
The entire room was silent. Nobody said a word. Before I knew what I was doing, I heard myself addressing him.
“You actually sound like you’re proud of that”, I said.
“You’re damn right I am,” he replied indignantly.
“In other words, you’re proud of the fact that instead of paying for your health insurance yourself, you and Obama have ganged up on ME and have forced me, at the point of a gun, to pay for part of your health insurance. You’re actually PROUD of the fact that you are mooching off of me and all those people working behind the counter in McDonald’s… that you’re part of a gang that is using the power of the government to FORCE us to pay for your healthcare. Instead of feeling ashamed… instead of bowing your head and cowering in front of all the people you are depending on to pay for your healthcare insurance… instead of meekly thanking them for the sacrifices they are being forced to make in order to benefit YOU… instead, you stand there claiming that you’re PROUD! What do you have to be PROUD of? Are you proud of the fact that you’re unable or unwilling to take care of yourself? Are you proud of the fact that you’re stealing part of their wages for your own personal greed? No… shame is what you should feel. Disgrace… embarassment… and gratitude… along with a strong dose of remorse… because YOU can’t or won’t take care of yourself and so you joined a mob of others who can’t or won’t take care of themselves… and together you’ve figured out how to force US to take care of you. Shame on you.”
Nobody said a word. The guy was stunned and his wife stood there mortified. The room was absolutely silent for a moment, then one of the retired guys started clapping… and within a few seconds, he was joined by another… then by someone across the restaurant… and pretty soon it sounded like the entire restaurant was applauding.
I had delivered my little sermon while still seated at my table. I remained seated and looked down at my meal… angry at myself for having lost my temper and butting in rather than minding my own damn business.
Within a minute or so, the room quieted down again and everyone went about their business, pretending nothing had happenned.
Then I heard the guy quietly say to the McDonald’s counter person, “Can I change my order… I’d like that, to-go please.”
Life in America gets more like living in an Ayn Rand novel every day.
Janet Daily, in the British Telegraph, recognizes that America is having the kind of election that European countries are incapable of having: an election in which one party is proposing to face economic reality.
Whatever the outcome of the American presidential election, one thing is certain: the fighting of it will be the most significant political event of the decade. Last weekâ€™s Republican national convention sharpened what had been until then only a vague, inchoate theme: this campaign is going to consist of the debate that all Western democratic countries should be engaging in, but which only the United States has the nerve to undertake. The question that will demand an answer lies at the heart of the economic crisis from which the West seems unable to recover. It is so profoundly threatening to the governing consensus of Britain and Europe as to be virtually unutterable here, so we shall have to rely on the robustness of the US political class to make the running.
What is being challenged is nothing less than the most basic premise of the politics of the centre ground: that you can have free market economics and a democratic socialist welfare system at the same time. The magic formula in which the wealth produced by the market economy is redistributed by the state â€“ from those who produce it to those whom the government believes deserve it â€“ has gone bust. The crash of 2008 exposed a devastating truth that went much deeper than the discovery of a generation of delinquent bankers, or a transitory property bubble. It has become apparent to anyone with a grip on economic reality that free markets simply cannot produce enough wealth to support the sort of universal entitlement programmes which the populations of democratic countries have been led to expect. The fantasy may be sustained for a while by the relentless production of phoney money to fund benefits and job-creation projects, until the economy is turned into a meaningless internal recycling mechanism in the style of the old Soviet Union.
Or else democratically elected governments can be replaced by puppet austerity regimes which are free to ignore the protests of the populace when they are deprived of their promised entitlements. You can, in other words, decide to debauch the currency which underwrites the market economy, or you can dispense with democracy. Both of these possible solutions are currently being tried in the European Union, whose leaders are reduced to talking sinister gibberish in order to evade the obvious conclusion: the myth of a democratic socialist society funded by capitalism is finished. This is the defining political problem of the early 21st century.