Grind for December 13th, 2018
“I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.”
– Stephen Hawking
Fourth straight week of Yellow Vest protests in France
The Yellow Vest movement (named after the high-visibility vests French drivers are required to keep in their cars) began in France last month in opposition to a fuel tax increase.
Since then, the movement has evolved into a full-blown working-class revolt against President Emmanuel Macron and his policies.
Over 300,000 people have taken place in violent demonstrations that have led to hundreds of arrests and injuries. At least four people have been killed.
Macron promised on December 5th to postpone the fuel tax, but protests have continued. This week, they spilled into Belgium and the Netherlands.
The Yellow Vest protests are bound to have a major impact on the French economy, warned Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire: “It’s a catastrophe for commerce, it’s a catastrophe for our economy. We must expect a new slowdown of economic growth at year-end due to the protests.”
Protestors are criticizing Macron for his elitist policies and lack of understanding regarding the working class. According to polls, up to 70% of the French population supports the protest.
“Macron came out of the banks and finance, and that goes down very badly for many people,” complained Paris protestor Thierry Paul Valette. “We do not like rich people in France.”
Last week in Brussels, hundreds of people wearing yellow vests called for the resignation of Prime Minister Charles Michel. Protestors carried banners reading “social winter is coming” and fought law enforcement with rocks, flares, and fireworks. At least two police cars were set on fire.
In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, protestors in yellow vests marched through the streets singing patriotic songs and handing out flowers.
“Our children are hardworking people, but they have to pay taxes everywhere. You can’t get housing anymore,” said Ieneke Lambermont, 67. “The social welfare net we grew up with is gone…The government is not there for the people. It is there to protect its own interests.”
In the meantime, French politicians on both sides of the spectrum have called for new elections.
Macron’s approval rating has dropped to 23%.
Obamacare: Audit in Louisiana reveals widespread fraud
One of the major problems with any welfare program is that people who don’t qualify for it will try to obtain the benefits.
A prime example is Medicaid – a joint federal and state program that assists low-income individuals with healthcare costs. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act gave states the opportunity to implement an expansion that makes the program available to more people.
Louisiana implemented the expansion in June 2016.
According to a recent audit, 82 of 100 people who signed up to receive the expansion don’t qualify for the benefits. In other words, people are lying about their income in order to qualify.
This data suggests Louisiana could be losing up to $85 million to ineligible beneficiaries.
“This is huge. It really is,” says auditor Daryl Purpera. “As more and more state auditors realize what this is doing to them, it’s going to come to a point where all 50 of them are going to have to declare they can no longer say the state’s books are accurate. I really do believe that day is coming.”
Over the past decade, Louisiana’s Medicare spending has increased from $6 billion to $12.4 billion. Today, the state spends 36% of its total budget on Medicaid. A full fourth of the state’s population is enrolled in the program.
“The report is stunning. It is breathtaking,” says Louisiana Senator John Kennedy (R). “There are no words in English to describe what our legislative auditor found…The Department of Health just threw the money in the dirt.”
Kennedy has proposed legislation that would force states to verify a person’s income before awarding Medicaid benefits. As it stands, checking income data is optional.
“Every dollar that’s stolen from the Medicaid system by a fraudster is a dollar that cannot go to help the truly needy,” argues Nicholas Horton, director of the Foundation for Government Accountability. “So states should absolutely be focusing on closing gaps.”
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:
Did you know… The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.