Monday, November 26, 2012

Finding Out What's in It

Bethany Mandel at Commentary points out one way that the Affordable Care Act is harming the very people it was intended to help, especially those workers in the restaurant business:
Since the president’s reelection earlier this month, four large restaurant chains, Papa Johns, Applebee’s, Denny’s and Darden Restaurants (the company that owns the Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and LongHorn Steakhouse chains) have all recently released statements about their companies’ plans to respond to the increased costs of complying with Obamacare regulations.

According to the healthcare law, every full-time employee must be provided with comprehensive medical coverage if the company employs more than 50 full-time workers. If a company refuses to comply, they will be faced with fines of $2,000 per year, per employee, as of January 1, 2014.
According to Mandel, it's coming as a bit of a shock to the left that Obamacare has severe economic consequences for lowly employees, but, of course, it does:
Appearing on Fox News Business early last week, Applebee’s CEO Zane Tankel explained the steps his business would have to take in order to stay in operation:

The costs of fines or healthcare for dozens of employees per restaurant have the potential to bankrupt individually owned chains across the country. The Applebee’s in New York City would face fines of $600,000 per year if insurance isn’t provided for full-time staff, and estimates for offering federally approved insurance would cost “some millions” across the Applebee’s system.

The restaurant industry, already operating with razor thin margins, doesn’t have the ability to absorb tens of thousands more in healthcare expenditures without a considerable increase in sales. It’s a basic realty of economics: more has to be coming in than going out.

The only solution for restaurants that want to stay open and maintain competitive pricing would be to cut employee hours to part-time status. This is the conclusion already reached by several large chains–companies that provide jobs to tens of thousands of working class Americans.
This would be devastating to many of those workers, however:
If workers are moved to part-time status, the onus for paying for insurance would then be placed on employees who have suddenly seen their incomes reduced drastically. Another provision of Obamacare is the requirement for Americans to purchase insurance or face a financial penalty, a tax as defined by the Supreme Court.

Some of these employees may qualify for Medicaid and would be exempt from the tax specifically designed to compel Americans to purchase insurance, regardless of their desire to do so. Cash-strapped states would then be on the hook for expanding Medicaid in order to fulfill the needs of the estimated 11-17 million Americans newly enrolled on Medicaid thanks to Obamacare.

These workers, directly pushed further into poverty by Obamacare via reduced hours would then be enrolled in a system with the worst healthcare outcomes in the country, including the ranks of the uninsured. The costs of providing millions more with insurance would then be passed on by states unable to afford the Medicaid loads they already have. As a result, residents should expect fewer services from their states or higher taxes, if not both.
Nancy Pelosi said that we had to pass Obamacare in order to find out what's in it, and she rammed it through the House of Representatives without a single Republican vote. Now it's the law and we're starting to discover what's in it. Inter alia, the very people the Democrats claim to care so much about - young, poor, single moms struggling to make ends meet for their children - are going to get clobbered. They shouldn't feel too bad though. They can take comfort in knowing that liberals care about them.

Why Does Homosexuality Exist?

The Supreme Court decides this week whether to hear an appeal of the California Supreme Court's ruling that Proposition 8, the 2008 voter initiative that limited marriage to a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

In addition to the constitutional questions surrounding gay marriage, there are some interesting biological questions to be asked about homosexuality as well. For instance, given the assumption that homosexuality is genetically based and the further evolutionary assumption that traits that confer no reproductive advantage eventually die out in a population, why does homosexuality exist in the first place?

Evolutionary biologist David Barash tackles this question at The Chronicle of Higher Education. He writes:
If evolution is true then homosexuals, who of course reproduce at far lower rates than do heterosexuals, should not exist, but of course they do.
This is a vexing enigma for evolutionary theorists and Barash surveys the various speculations scientists have advanced to explain the existence of a phenomenon which, evolutionarily speaking, should not exist. The speculations he adduces sound unconvincingly feeble, but they're evidently the best that the theorists have been able to come up with.

Barash admits that the solution to the mystery of the existence of a trait that confers no reproductive benefit has eluded our best scientific minds:
The sine qua non for any trait to have evolved is for it to correlate positively with reproductive success, or, more precisely, with success in projecting genes relevant to that trait into the future. So, if homosexuality is in any sense a product of evolution — and it clearly is, for reasons to be explained — then genetic factors associated with same-sex preference must enjoy some sort of reproductive advantage. The problem should be obvious: If homosexuals reproduce less than heterosexuals — and they do — then why has natural selection not operated against it?

Anything that diminishes, even slightly, the reproductive performance of any gene should (in evolutionary terms) be vigorously selected against. And homosexuality certainly seems like one of those things. Gay men, for example, have children at about 20 percent of the rate of heterosexual men. I haven't seen reliable data for lesbians, but it seems likely that a similar pattern exists. And it seems more than likely that someone who is bisexual would have a lower reproductive output than someone whose romantic time and effort were devoted exclusively to the opposite sex.

Across cultures, the proportion of the population who are homosexual is roughly the same. What maintains the genetic propensity for the trait?

Nor can we solve the mystery by arguing that homosexuality is a "learned" behavior. That ship has sailed, and the consensus among scientists is that same-sex preference is rooted in our biology.
The author continues at some length to try to explain the inexplicable fact of homosexuality. He's adamant that homosexuality is a product of evolution, but despite his promise to explain why he offers no substantive evidence to support the claim. He also insists that it's a genetically based phenomenon but offers scant evidence to support that view.

Maybe someone ought to call the departed ship back to port and give it another look.