style="margin-top:40px; BROADSIDES

August 31, 2002

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ENDOWED UPDATE: Bestselling author and NEA-welfare cheat Jonathan Franzen has contacted the New York Post in an attempt to spin his way out of using a taxpayer-funded $20,000 hand-out from the National Endowment for the Arts to buy neat-o stuff for himself rather than funding his latest writing project. The Post reports:

Jonathan Franzen's NEA fiasco continues to unfold. First, we reported that the best-selling author of "The Corrections" had stunned impoverished scribes everywhere by spending his $20,000 tax-funded fellowship on sculpture. Now Franzen tells PAGE SIX that he's reconsidered. "I had hoped to use my . . . fellowship to support artists whose work I admire," he writes us. "I've since discovered that, under the terms of the program, this is not possible. The award money from the NEA will be used for its intended purpose - research for the new novel I'm working on." Franzen says he'll still be buying 20 grand worth of art but "with personal funds."

What Franzen doesn't explain is why an affluent author requires one cent of taxpayers' money to write. Is a pencil and paper that expensive?

  • B. Sides @ 10:20 PM
  • August 29, 2002

    GOING IT ALONE: The United States hasn't a qualm about prosecuting the war against terrorist nations without moral or material support from alleged allies. As usual, SecDef Donald Rumsfeld put it best in a Q&A session before 3,000 U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton: "It's less important to have unanimity than it is making the right decision and doing the right thing, even though at the outset it may seem lonesome." Rumsfeld went on to give weak-kneed multilateralists a history lesson; he pointed out that just prior to the outbreak of World War II, Winston Churchill alone called for action to preempt further aggression by Hitler's Germany. But "it was not until each country got attacked that they said 'Maybe Winston Churchill was right. Maybe that lone voice expressing concern about what was happening was right'."

    President Bush needs no allies nor U.N. approval to fulfill his most fundamental obligation: defending the citizens of the United States against attacks by other countries. And if meeting that obligation requires preemptive strikes against nations that hire mercenaries-masquerading-as-religious zealots to kill Americans, then I have some advice for our handwringing allies: cover your ears.

  • B. Sides @ 10:59 AM
  • August 26, 2002

    ENDOWING THE ENDOWED: Popular perception has it that the federal government's National Endowment for the Arts funds the awe-inspiring creations of starving, undiscovered artisans who languish between ear-severing madness and artistic genius. Perhaps that was the case when Congress and Lyndon Johnson violated the Constitution by creating the NEA in 1965, but no longer. In fact, the NEA admits that financial need isn't a factor when it comes to handing out money to moochers-disguised-as-artists.

    So what are the factors the NEA considers when wasting taxpayers' money, oops, I mean, endowing the arts? Maybe the NEA's website provides a hint or two. The work of the NEA is apparently so vital to the survival of the Republic that it has both a "vision" and a "mission" listed on its website. "VISION: A Nation in which artistic excellence is celebrated, supported, and available to all." Ahh...isn't that nice? Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and stuff. But what the hell does it mean? Wait...maybe I'm jumping the gun...maybe the mission statement will clarify things. "MISSION: The National Endowment for the Arts enriches our Nation and its diverse cultural heritage by supporting works of artistic excellence, advancing learning in the arts, and strengthening the arts in communities throughout the country." Great piles of verbal manure, Batman! Nimrod's subjects at the Tower of Babel were more intelligible.

    The NEA is unable to explain precisely what it does and for whom it does it, and, in light of this New York Post report, it's little wonder why. According to the Post, the NEA gave bestselling author Jonathan Franzen $20,000 of taxpayers' money to further his writing endeavors. "Although it's widely believed that NEA doles out dough on a need basis to starving artists," the Post's Richard Johnson reports, "the bonanza often goes to scribes who are already raking in cash hand over fist. That was the case again this summer when shocked writers everywhere learned that Franzen, this year's National Book Award winner, was taking his turn at the public trough."

    It's bad enough that monies confiscated from working Americans who make oodles less than Franzen are used to fund his career, but here's the clincher: the Post reports Franzen used his NEA handout to buy two "pricey" paintings for himself.

    This comes as no surprise. All government income redistribution and price regulation schemes primarily benefit those who don't need it. Show me a federal farm subsidy and I'll show you a large corporation or multimillionaire receiving the lion's share of it. Show me a HUD housing subsidy and I'll show you politically-connected real estate developers and builders making millions from construction and management of poor quality housing projects. Show me a Medicare or Medcaid program and I'll show you mind-boggling fraud by approved contractors. And show me a grant by the NEA, and I'll show you a millionaire author who uses it for interior decorating.

    The case of Jonathan Franzen, a literary welfare cheat, is just one example of how governmental attempts at philanthropy always miss the mark. It's also a muscular argument for halting taxpayer funding of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and other welfare-for-the-unneedy programs such as Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio.

    Actions do indeed speak louder than words. And the NEA's actions leave little doubt as to its true mission: The National Endowment for the Arts enriches the rich at the expense of those who aren't.

  • B. Sides @ 10:31 AM
  • August 22, 2002

    DON'T DELAY, SAYS DELAY: In a gem of a speech delivered in Houston, House majority whip Tom DeLay (R, Texas) becomes the the first member of either house of Congress to explain in detail the justification for liberating Iraq. The full text of DeLay's speech is here. DeLay cautions that advances in Saddam's weapons programs and his continued support of terrorist strikes means the United States must liberate Iraq -- and soon.

    This is a particularly powerful excerpt:

    "Many of those questioning the President’s policy have served America well for many years. And I respect their service to our country. But I couldn’t disagree more strongly about the grave costs of avoiding a confrontation with Iraq. Toppling Saddam would, they say, 'seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken.' Ladies and gentlemen, these critics are dead wrong. Removing Saddam from power and liberating the Iraqi people would do more to advance the war against terror than any step we’ve taken yet. Removing Saddam would send a clear and unambiguous signal to every other state sponsor of terror: 'Shape up, because the price of subsidizing terror is now more than you can afford.' Returning their government to the people of Iraq would signal democratic reformers around the region that the United States is deeply committed to expanding freedom. It would demonstrate that we stand ready to help any willing country discover the blessings of self-government. And, by assisting reformers in Iraq to govern themselves, we would show that the United States has no intention of ruling in place of fallen dictators. But most importantly, ending Saddam’s dictatorship would deprive terrorist groups of refuge, training, support, and access to Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. We would be fools to require American standards of criminal evidence in making the case against state sponsors of terror including Saddam Hussein`s Iraq. Our challenge is clear. Iraq’s vile dictator is a central power in the Axis of Evil. President Bush is committed to ending the threat from Saddam Hussein’s terror regime. Only regime change can destroy Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. Only by taking them out of his hands can we be certain that nuclear, biological or chemical weapons won’t wind up in the hands of terrorists. I offer my full support to applying the Bush preemption doctrine to Iraq. The President needs to know that the Congress stands behind his campaign to protect the American people . . . As Americans, we're not governed by fear and appeasement. As Americans, we inherit a higher obligation than placating contemporary opinion. As Americans, we reject the illusion of greener pastures offered by moral equivocators. As Americans, we offer unceasing hostility to terrorists, tyrants, and every system of oppression. Because, as Americans, we're born to a special destiny. We won't evade the defense of freedom. We won't take counsel of our fears. We won't seek shelter in the naïve comfort of misguided hopes. And we won't shrink from the mission before us. For in the last analysis, we'll answer, not to the fickle whims of the international community, but to posterity."

  • B. Sides @ 4:11 PM
  • August 21, 2002

    LET THE DESTABILIZATION BEGIN: Saudi Arabia's substitute dictator, Crown Prince [rolling eyes] Abdullah cautioned the United States that an attack on Iraq may "destabilize the region," Reuters reports. That's pretty much the point, Your Royal Evilness. (Note that Reuters mischaracterizes Saudi Arabia as "a key U.S. ally." If the Saudis are a key ally, then why at this very moment is the United States mobilizing to remove Saddam from power in the face of Saudi opposition? The fact is, there's no such thing as a key American ally.)

    The United States should destabilize countries ruled by tyrants who are funding lethal attacks on Americans, and taking out Saddam is the first step. After reading Mark Steyn's list of regional benefits of a Saddamectomy, it's obvious why Abdullah has his robes in a wad. Ousting Saddam, Steyn writes, "means more oil, which means cheaper prices at the pump, which means more pressure on the House of Saud, whose underpants get tightened a notch with every per barrel dollar drop. Thus, Saddam's removal could be seriously crushing. Even without total internal collapse, the less money they're getting from oil the less they have to fund Islamist recruitment in Europe, South Asia and North America, and the more internal dissension there is in the kingdom the more likely their excitable young men are to wage the jihad at home rather than abroad."

    Poor, poor Abdullah . . . there might not be a Saudi throne for him to inherit after the United States liberates Iraq. Oh, well. New York City could always use another cab driver.

  • B. Sides @ 12:01 PM
  • August 20, 2002

    FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST! Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants-of-European-descent thereof! Economist and cigarette aficionado Walter E. Williams has unconditionally pardoned white Americans for being descendants of people who may have owned his ancestors.

    (Thanks to Scorpio for forwarding this item.)

  • B. Sides @ 8:04 AM
  • August 19, 2002

    CONGRESSIONAL AMNESIA: There are ninnies, many of whom are in Congress, demanding that President Bush get a congressional declaration of war before lowering the boom on Saddam. This is especially strange since, as Rush Limbaugh explains in a column for, Congress passed a joint resolution on September 14, 2001 which "authorized" the president to "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States."

    If that doesn't constitute a congressional declaration of war, what does?

  • B. Sides @ 1:47 PM
  • WAR? WHAT WAR? While the press, pundits and politicians in the United States debate going to war with Iraq, Mark Erikson, writing in the Asia Times, notes an interesting development: the war started months ago.

    This report, first noted by Instapundit, makes a strongly persuasive case that the United States, Britain, Turkey and Germany have been waging war on Iraq since President Bush's intelligence directive last March ordering Saddam's removal.

    Erikson points out that at the time of Bush's March directive, the combined American/British force around Iraq numbered about 50,000. "This number," Erikson reports, "has grown to over 100,000, not counting soldiers of and on naval units in the vicinity. It's been a build-up without much fanfare, accelerating since March and accelerating further since June. And these troops are not just sitting on their hands or twiddling their thumbs while waiting for orders to act out some type of D-Day drama. Several thousand are already in Iraq. They are gradually closing in and rattling Saddam's cage. In effect, the war has begun." Providing logistical assistance in this effort are Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Jordan.

    Three details Erikson reports are particularly interesting and, of course, went largely unreported (if reported at all) in the United States. In Kuwait, there's "a 250-man, highly-specialized German NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) warfare battalion equipped with 'Fuchs' (fox) armored vehicles"; on August 9, a Turkish force of 5,000 invaded Iraq and took "over the Bamerni air base north of Mosul"; and in June, CIA director George Tenet visited the 1,800 American special forces already inside Iraq.

    Given the evidence assembled by Erickson, it's difficult to disagree with his conclusion that the American-Iraqi war has been underway since spring. The question is, why is most of the American press oblivious to it or ignoring it? A combination of several factors answers that question. Some news outlets, such as the Howell Raines' New York Times, are rabidly opposed to war with Iraq and would rather not acknowledge that they've failed to stop it. Others, particularly the electronic press, don't consider it an official war until they see live video feeds of bombs exploding and enemy tracer fire filling the night skies. And many in the American fourth estate are just too damned lazy to bother doing any investigative reporting beyond determining the proper pronunciation of "Iraq."

  • B. Sides @ 9:05 AM
  • WELL, DUH! The Tampa Tribune's Brad Smith reports the biggest non-scoop of the year: the Pentagon engages in disinformation during war. Stop the presses! The Pentagon leaks of the last several months regarding Iraqi war plans were probably planted to either misinform, distract or intimidate the enemy, Smith has learned.

    If this comes as news to Brad Smith and the Tribune's editors, then they are are woefully ignorant of history. Disinformation is part and parcel of every successful military effort. The best example is relatively recent: Operation Fortitude in 1944. Under Fortitude, a campaign of orchestrated leaks revealed that the newly created (and largely fictitious) 1st U.S. Army Group under the command of General George S. Patton would spearhead the continental attack on German forces at Pas-de-Calais in France. Hitler fell for Operation Fortitude and concentrated most of his defenses at Calais, leaving the Normandy coast vulnerable to the Allies' massive Operation Overlord invasion. Less than a year later, Hitler put a gun barrel in his mouth.

    Maybe I'm being too hard on Brad Smith; maybe his assignment is to report on the obvious. Brad's next big scoop: bears crap in the woods.

  • B. Sides @ 6:44 AM
  • August 15, 2002

    MUST BE A COINCIDENCE: Or is it? Last week, Opinion Journal noted an interesting omission on a map of the Middle East posted on the Mercedes-Benz website. The map detailed the locations of Mercedes dealerships in the Middle East and included the names of the countries in that region, including countries which don't have a Mercedes dealership. One country, however, wasn't labeled: Israel. When Opinion Journal pointed this out, Mercedes promptly responded; but rather than designating Israel as Israel, Mercedes deleted all the countries' names from the map.

    Was Mercedes going out of its way to avoid mentioning Israel on its website? And, if so, why? Perhaps Mercedes was being careful not to offend Yasser Arafat who, the New York Post reports, is rumored to have used ill-gotten gains to purchase a major stock holding in Mercedes' parent company.

  • B. Sides @ 3:57 PM
  • August 14, 2002

    ARAFAT-POCKETS: Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat is a multi-billionaire. Eschewing Enron, WorldCom and AOL-TimeWarner stocks, Arafat opted for a more basic investment method: theft. In its frontpage story today, the New York Post reports that Israeli military intelligence has obtained records from PLO offices which show that Arafat is worth at least $1.3 billion and may, according to another Israeli source, have as much as $11 billion stashed around the world. Resembling a mobster more than a political leader, Arafat enriches himself in part by running extensive kickback schemes that result in higher prices for the already impoverished Palestinian consumers.

    But Arafat's kickback rackets yield pocket change compared to largest source of his personal riches which "is believed to be the approximately $6 billion contributed by the United States, Japan and European countries as financial aid to the authority from 1993 to 2000, sources" told the Post. And who was president of the United States during that time? Why, the old legacy-and-intern seeker himself, Bill Clinton. Unwilling to undertake the difficult task of securing a real peace, Clinton attempted to buy a facsimile of it by paying off the troublemaker, Yasser Arafat. The subsequent rash of terrorism unleashed on Israel is a testament not only to Clinton's reckless quest for a positive legacy but the foolhardiness of using bribery as a cornerstone of foreign policy.

    Bribing belligerents not to be belligerent always results in more belligerence. President John Adams' decision to bribe the Barbary pirates to not harass American ships led to more harassment and demands for larger bribes. The pirates of North Africa didn't halt their attacks on American vessels until President Thomas Jefferson decided that, in lieu of payment, he would send the United States Marines to the Barbary Coast.

    Bribery does not secure peace; defeating the enemy does.

  • B. Sides @ 12:35 PM
  • August 12, 2002

    GREAT MOMENTS IN DIPLOMACY: "This fatso Sharon . . . I hear he eats an entire lamb for dinner. How can anyone fall asleep after that?" -- Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak to Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres, as quoted in the New York Times

  • B. Sides @ 8:44 PM
  • August 09, 2002

    CLINTON'S RED LEGACY: Bill Clinton never met a communist he didn't like. Dodging the draft, a young Clinton declared that he loathed the American military and opposed the war to halt communist aggression in Vietnam. Proving he was more red than yellow, Clinton visited that hot tourist spot of yesteryear, the Soviet Union, where he protested against the Vietnam war in an KGB-organized anti-U.S. rally.

    As president, Clinton continued schmoozing the dwindling membership of the Comintern. He extended diplomatic recognition to Vietnam; he accepted laundered commie campaign contributions from China's regime; he looked the other way while Chinese agents absconded with our country's most closely-guarded nuclear secrets; and he decided that Darth Castro would make a fine foster father for Elian Gonzalez, allowing INS stormtroppers to kidnap the little boy at gunpoint and send him back to Castro's island concentration camp.

    And Clinton left little doubt which end of the political spectrum he prefers when, in what ranks as one of the strangest moments in presidential history, he publicly offered condolences for the 1994 death of North Korea's monstrously brutal Stalinist dictator, Kim Il-Sung. Clinton punctuated his condolences in a dangerous fashion: he moved to implement a mindnumbingly bad agreement negotiated in 1994 by That Simpleton Jimmy Carter several weeks before Kim arrived at the gates of Hell. As this New York Post editorial explains, the agreement provided that the U.S., South Korea and Japan "would build North Korea two modern 'light water' nuclear reactors" in exchange for Pyongyang halting its nuclear weapons program -- the idea being that a light water reactor would not yield weapons-grade plutonium.

    Of course, North Korea agreed to the deal. And, of course, North Korea didn't abide by the deal. "It was a bad deal then and it's a worse deal now," the Post writes. "North Korea has not frozen its weapons programs. And it turns out that the modern reactors -- whose construction is due to start this week -- will produce weapons-grade plutonium anyway."

    And here's the kicker: the United States continues to honor its side of the Carter-Kim agreement and is assisting North Korea, a charter member of the Axis of Evil, with the reactor construction! As the New York Post insists, President Bush should cancel this remnant of Bill Clinton's fetish for communists, and move to replace North Korea's deadly regime.

  • B. Sides @ 5:11 PM
  • August 08, 2002

    GREAT HEADLINES FROM THE ONION: "Lou Dobbs Hosts 'Moneyline' From Window Ledge"

  • B. Sides @ 11:58 PM
  • WORST MERGER EVER: I wasn't aware of the particulars of the 2000 merger deal between AOL and Time Warner until I read this scathing editorial in today's Washington Times. Once you read it, you have to wonder what made the deal even remotely attractive to Time Warner. I mean, you don't have to be Thurston Howell III to figure out that there wasn't anything good in it for Time Warner. Hell's bells, even Lovey Howell would've realized it.

    The Times points out that on "Jan. 10, 2000, the day the merger was announced, the combined company, based upon the closing prices of both AOL and Time Warner, would have been worth nearly $350 billion. Today, with AOL Time Warner's stock price hovering around $10 per share," the company is worth less than $50 billion.

    It gets better (or, if you're an AOL TW stockholder, worse.) Just prior to the merger, Time Warner had five times more revenue than AOL, yet, as the Times reports, "the terms of the merger left Time Warner shareholders with only 45 percent of the combined company." This is particularly inexplicable since it was obvious to even novice internet industry observers that at the time of the merger, America Online was struggling to acquire and retain subscribers. And the struggle continues.

    AOL's sales are nosediving because internet consumers are recognizing America Online for what it is: an unnecessary middleman. AOL offers nothing unique to its subscribers that they can't get by directly accessing the internet via a substantially cheaper internet service provider. In short, America Online is running out of reasons to exist. It is, as the Times characterizes it, "a vastly oversized anchor, pulling down the rest of the ship."

    "In the annals of American business history," the Times declares "it is difficult to imagine a more lopsided, wealth-destroying merger than the one then-Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin orchestrated — to the everlasting detriment of Time Warner shareholders. They not only relinquished more than half the value of their premium media properties to dot-com upstarts, but now they must also absorb nearly half the losses related to AOL's evolving collapse."

    Yet the question at the heart of AOL Time Warner matter remains unanswered. How did Gerald Levin manage to sign the merger paperwork while his head was up his ass?

  • B. Sides @ 10:57 PM
  • August 07, 2002

    JOINT CHIEFS GIVE SADDAM THE FINGER: Rowan Scarborough reports in today's Washington Times that the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanmiously support using the military to oust Saddam from power.

    In the article, SecDef Donald Rumsfeld is quoted reacting to panty-waist concerns that other countries may oppose a U.S.-backed regime change in Iraq: "When you have a neighbor that is that big and has that big an army and has chemical weapons and has used them on its neighbors then it's like the little guy in the neighborhood's fairly careful about what he says publicly . . . I don't know of anyone I've talked to out in the region who would walk across the street to shake Saddam Hussein's hand."

    Well said, Mr. Secretary.

  • B. Sides @ 2:42 PM
  • August 06, 2002

    THE 'KERNEL OF EVIL': The moral clarity wrought by the September 11 attacks is exposing the Saudi regime as an enemy of the United States. And influential defense policy advisors are taking note. Today's Washington Post reports that the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board received a briefing last month which "described Saudi Arabia as an enemy of the United States."

    The briefing, void of political correctness, charged that the "Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader . . . Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies" and is "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" in that region. The briefing strongly urged the U.S. to "demand that Riyadh stop funding fundamentalist Islamic outlets around the world, stop all anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli statements in the country, and 'prosecute or isolate those involved in the terror chain, including in the Saudi intelligence services.' If the Saudis refused to comply, the briefing continued, Saudi oil fields and overseas financial assets should be 'targeted' . . ."

    Clearly, the policy advisors behind this briefing believe the Saudis are members-in-good-standing of the Axis of Evil. Broadsides reached the same conclusion on July 9.

  • B. Sides @ 5:17 PM
  • August 05, 2002

    WHO GIVES A DAMN? The U.N. secretary-general is warning against an attack on Iraq. Heaven forfend! The Independent quotes Kofi Annan as saying, "It would be unwise to attack Iraq, given the current circumstances of what's happening in the Middle East." By "current circumstances," Kofi means Israel's struggle against state-backed Palestinian terrorism. Since everyone knows that Iraq and other member nations of the Axis of Evil (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia) are funding this latest round of Palestinian terrorism in an attempt to distract the United States from invading Iraq, Kofi is either hopelessly stupid (which he's not) or shamelessly complicit (which he is.)

  • B. Sides @ 10:28 PM
  • KA-BOOM! U.S. and British war planes left their precision-guided calling cards at the doorstep of "an Iraqi command and control facility" in southern Iraq today. Whether this was a routine retailiation for a no-fly zone violation, as the Associated Press reports, or the preliminaries of a full-scale invasion is open to debate. Either way, Saddam is minus another military facility.

  • B. Sides @ 4:01 PM
  • DEMS FAVOR WAR: least one Dem does. During an interview on NBC's Meet the Press yesterday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman and botched hair transplant victim Joe Biden predicted that the United States will go to war with Iraq. Saying that America has "no choice but to eliminate" security threats posed by Saddam's regime, Biden concluded "there probably will be a war with Iraq." The Washington Times has the details of the Biden interview.

  • B. Sides @ 3:37 PM
  • August 04, 2002

    RECKLESS SPECULATION: What would a blog be without it? So here goes.

    Consider this hypothetical . . . Let's say you're a middle eastern, beret-wearing, megalomaniac dictator who sports a cartoonish Harry Reams-ish mustache, and you're working feverishly to develop nuclear and biological weapons. You're in such a hurry because the president of the United States has made no secret of his intention to remove you from power, and recent press reports based on leaks from the White House and the Pentagon indicate he will soon direct the American military — the same military machine which decimated your armed forces in a little more than 100 hours — to invade your country. Understandably, you're quite anxious. On the heels of these ominous press reports, you find out that the American commander-in-chief is leaving Washington for a month-long vacation; you see him on television golfing, fishing and visiting with family. Though still worried, you're somewhat relieved for now; you figure that, surely, the president of the United States won't undertake a military invasion while he's on an extended vacation. And you might even feel it's safe to lower your guard a bit . . .

    Is President Bush's sojourn in Texas really an attempt to lull Iraq into a false sense of security? The timing is interesting: it will end just before the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks. And an attack near that date would be powerfully symbolic and motivating to our troops.

    This "vacation" just may be a prelude to war.

  • B. Sides @ 4:09 PM
  • August 01, 2002

    I'M OLD! GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! The AARP and die-hard socialists lost big yesterday when the shamelessly titled Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act died peacefully in its sleep on the Senate floor. This latest effort to force American earners to pay someone else's bills "would have provided broad coverage only to those with low incomes (less than twice the federal poverty level) or those with drug costs over $3,300 a year." Opponents estimated the cost of such a handout to be — hold onto your wallet — $395 billion over ten years; given that all government handouts balloon in cost, it's a sure bet that that figure would have skyrocketed. Fortunately, the Senate's cumbersome procedural and amendment rules left this budgetbuster eleven votes short of passage. The House passed another version several weeks ago, but the Senate roadblock yesterday should put the matter on hold at least for the rest of this congressional session.

    Most everyone in Washington — Democrats, Republicans and the press — is on the Free-Meds-4-Old-Farts bandwagon, including President Bush; the only point of contention is how many hundreds of billions to spend on it. In all the panderous hot air swirling around this latest proposal for another taxpayer-funded freebie for seniors, there's one little fact purposefully never mentioned: there's no need for it.

    As is always the case (that is, if government permits it), the effectiveness of the free market's philanthropic endeavors vastly outpaces government's socialistic attempts at coercing charity. Most, if not all, pharmaceutical companies (yes, the same pharmaceutical companies vilified by officeholders and bureaucrats) provide very generous patient assistance programs, most of which are listed here. Though each program differs a bit, generally anyone, regardless of age, who cannot legitimately afford medications may receive up to a three-month supply directly from the pharmaceutical company free of charge. All the patient has to do is ask. It's important to note that these programs do not involve the government, which has the same effect on proponents of big government as a crucifix does on Dracula.

    The pharmaceutical companies are even assisting seniors who aren't poor enough to receive free meds nor wealthy enough to purchase them at the retail price. Most notable in this regard is Pfizer's Share Card program, which was launched in March of this year. Enrollment is free and open to any Medicare-eligible person with a gross annual income of less than $18,000. Once accepted, the patient can purchase a 30-day supply of any Pfizer medication (Dilantin, Zoloft, Viagra, Zyrtec etc.) for a mere $15. GlaxoSmithKline has a similar program which offers its products at a 30%-40% discount to qualifying Medicare-eligible customers. With the Pfizer and GSK programs, there is no third-party with deep pockets, such as the government and insurance companies, paying for the product on behalf of the consumer. Rather, the cost of the product is paid directly by the consumer; and as a result, the price, subjected to market forces, plummets.

    Judging from the incalculable expense of the various government prescription entitlements under consideration now, one would think Congress and the president aren't aware that these many pharmaceutical company-funded programs exist. That's unlikely, however, since nearly all the programs are listed in detail on Medicare's website!

    As Medicare's website and pharmaceutical websites demonstrate, the issue of affordable prescriptions for lower income seniors has been addressed and all but solved by the free market. The question is, why do Congress and President Bush pretend otherwise?

  • B. Sides @ 4:30 PM
  • Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11


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