The Year We Dug The Trenches

2015 was a great year for confirmation bias. As a society we’ve gotten much better at limiting our exposure to dissenting views. We belong to Facebook groups with other like-minded people. Media outlets on both the left and right have gotten better at showcasing the viewpoints that their audience wants to hear. This has had a negative impact on political discourse by increasing party loyalty and further divorcing politics from policy. 

We view those with whom we disagree with increasing otherness. Democrats see and alien race in Republicans. Right wingers are monsters who want to take rights away from anyone who isn’t a white man. Republicans see Democrats as dangerously naive socialists, weak on foreign policy and hell-bent on taking more and more from honest, hardworking Americans. Continue reading

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King v. Burwell could be the end of the ACA

In the wake of a Republican electoral takeover, the political Right just got more good news. The Supreme Court decided to take up King v. Burwell, the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Understanding this challenge to the law requires understanding of the complex architecture of the ACA, so here goes.

To expand coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, a major goal of the ACA, Congress did three things. First, it forbade insurers from turning down those seeking insurance who had a pre-existing condition; this is called guaranteed issue. But to ensure that people didn’t game the system and just enroll for insurance when they got sick and needed care (which was my plan once I found out about the ACA), they created the individual mandate, requiring United States citizens to have health insurance at all times. This mandate was declared unconstitutional in a prior Supreme Court challenge to the law, but it survived by being construed as a tax. Continue reading

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Republicans’ bullish senate chances threaten Obama’s legacy

Obama’s presidency may as well have eight months left. Now even Nate Silver, former New York Times statistics whiz, is predicting that Republicans are more likely than not to win control of the Senate in 2014.

If that happens, President Obama’s last two years will be a brutal struggle against Congress with little to show for the first six years of his presidency but a stimulus of questionable efficacy and a healthcare act that’s hurt more people than it’s helped.

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Hobby Lobby case demonstrates the pitfalls of our expanding government

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court took up an important case regarding the Affordable Care Act requirement detailing that companies provide health insurance that covers IUD’s and morning-after pills, such as Plan B and Ella, to their employees. Certain privately-owned companies — such as Hobby Lobby, the company bringing the suit before the court — have religious owners who object to the idea of being forced to subsidize actions they believe are tantamount to murder. The court is now forced to make a decision with far-reaching consequences, as a result of the federal overreach contained in the Affordable Care Act, which broaches the sanctity of private contracts and puts the federal government in charge of traditionally state issues.

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Net Neutrality is a bigger threat to the internet than unregulated ISP’s

On the surface, net neutrality is a great idea. The free and open culture of the Internet is what makes it a beautiful thing, and price discrimination against users and websites would do terrible things to the blossoming Internet that we know and love.

While net neutrality guarantees that such price discrimination cannot happen, the market alone serves the same purpose. More importantly, however, net neutrality concedes the government’s ability to regulate the Internet — which is incredibly frightening.

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Threatening the rule of law is unacceptable

When I visited Italy last semester, I went to the beautiful island of Capri, where one can find the famed Blue Grotto. Usually, to see the grotto, one would have to pay a dude with a boat to take them inside. But because I was almost out of money, I wanted to swim inside once all the boats had left — for free. I searched the Internet to find people who had done this to make sure it was safe, and I discovered that it was perfectly hazard-free, but also illegal. One commenter, however, suggested that swimming in the Blue Grotto was not actually illegal, but instead just “Italian Illegal.”

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Bundy’s Rebellion is another drop in the bucket of libertarian insurrection

Say what you want about Cliven Bundy, but his standoff against tax collectors over unpaid cattle grazing fees is just the reminder America needs of our deep roots in libertarian insurrection.

If you’re not familiar with Bundy’s rebellion, here’s a refresher. Cliven Bundy, a Nevada cattle rancher, has been grazing his cattle on federal lands for over 20 years. In 1993, federal rules changed, and Bundy was required to pay a grazing fee. Twenty years and several court orders later, Bundy hasn’t paid a dime. As a result, a few weeks ago, government officials tried to herd Bundy’s cattle off federal lands. Not to be ousted, Bundy and a gaggle of armed supporters showed up to the scene, ready to stick it to the man. The federal representatives abandoned Bundy’s cattle, and are still trying to figure out how to react.

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