Despite President Obama’s Promises People are losing the Health Insurance and Doctors they wanted to Keep

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 24th, 2013

Week in Review

During the Obamacare debate President Obama promised people that if you liked your health insurance you could keep your health insurance.  And if you liked your doctor you could keep your doctor.  Turns out that wasn’t true (see UPS to drop 15,000 spouses from insurance, cites Obamacare by Jessica Chasmar posted 8/21/2013 on The Washington Times).

Citing Obamacare, the United Parcel Service plans to remove 15,000 spouses from its health care plan because they are eligible for coverage elsewhere.

Rising medical costs, “combined with the costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, have made it increasingly difficult to continue providing the same level of health care benefits to our employees at an affordable cost,” UPS said in a memo to employees, Kaiser Health News reported…

The health law requires large employers to cover employees and dependent children, but not spouses or domestic partners, Kaiser reported.

There’s a good chance that the new health insurance the spouses get may be in another network.  Meaning not only did they lose the health insurance they liked.  There’s a good chance they may have to find new doctors.  Two promises the president broke.  So is he a liar?

Of course, he is.  The whole point of Obamacare is to set the stage for a single-payer health care system.  AKA national health care.  President Obama even said he was a proponent of single-payer, universal health care.  But we couldn’t get there immediately.  As he told the AFL-CIO before he was president (see Obama on single payer health insurance uploaded to YouTube).  So all the while he was promising we could keep what we liked he was lying to us.  For single-payer is what he wanted.  It’s what he always wanted.  And he promised to deliver it if they won the White House and Congress.  Which they did.  For the first two years of his presidency the Democrats had control of all three branches of government.  And passed Obamacare along straight party lines.  But they had to buy some votes.  There was the Louisiana Purchase.  And the Cornhusker Kickback.  But to get other Democrats who had elections coming in 2010 they had to get rid of the public option.

The public option was basically single-payer health care.  Which was a bridge too far for key Democrats.  So they dropped it.  Once they did they got the crucial 60th vote in the Senate to prevent a Republican filibuster.  But the public option hasn’t gone completely away.  They just have a more devious way to implement it.  Via the state exchanges.  Just another name for single-payer health care.  So it’s no surprise that we’re slowly but surely losing the private health insurance we had and wanted to keep.  And our doctors.  Because that was the plan all along.

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Big Brother is Watching You…Pee in China

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 24th, 2013

Week in Review

The problem with big government bureaucracies is that they’re always looking at ways to create new public sector jobs.  It’s why the U.S. federal government grows with each passing year.  And why the Chinese are considering this (see Miss your mark in the toilet? Pay $16 fine by AFP posted 5/20/2013 on The Times of India).

People with a poor aim are to be fined if they miss their mark when using public toilets in a Chinese city, officials said — [sic] provoking online derision over how the rule will be enforced.

The penalty will apply to those who urinate outside the bowl of facilities in Shenzhen, the southern boom town neighbouring Hong Kong, although draft regulations seen by AFP did not specify a minimum quantity of spillage required to be classed as a violation…

Users of China’s rumbustious weibo social networks poured scorn on the measures, raising the prospect of hordes of toilet inspectors being deployed to inspect performance.

“A number of new civil servant positions will be created. There will be a supervisor behind every urinating person to see whether the pee is straight,” wrote one poster.

Another added: “Very good measures. I expect they can create 20 jobs on average for every public toilet…”

Chinese toilet discipline can be notoriously wayward, with pictures of people defecating in public sometimes appearing on weibo.

No surprise, really.  Dirt-poor peasants who have nothing of the basic comforts of life—such as indoor plumbing and flush toilets—are moving to the big cities into a world they’ve never known.  But the public defecation is not the outrageous part of this story.  That thing about the potty police is.  And I feel sorry for the nervous pee-er who can’t go when someone is watching them.  Waiting to observe his urine stream.  So the potty police can give them a slap on the buttocks and say, “Nice pee pee.”  Or go Sergeant Hartman all over them.  (That’s a reference to the drill sergeant in the movie Full Metal Jacket.  We’d link to a YouTube clip of one of his many R-rated tirades but decided not to.  Those who are familiar with the movie will understand the reference.  And those who aren’t probably won’t enjoy hearing his abusive potty mouth.  On a side note, I met him once at an air show.  Active duty Marines waited in line to have him insult them and make them drop and do pushups.  Just so they could say he did.  People love R. Lee Ermey that much.  He’s a great American.  A Vietnam veteran who served in combat.  And was a real-life drill instructor.  But I digress.)

Can this happen in the United States?  Well, if anyone had said the federal government would force you to buy something against your will a decade ago no one would have believed it.  But here we are with Obamacare.  And the individual mandate.  So, men, enjoy your urinations in public restrooms while you can.  For it may not be long before you have a federal bureaucrat observing your urine stream.  For Big Brother may be watching you…go pee pee.

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Only 5% of Black Students Graduate High School Ready for College based on ACT Scores

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 24th, 2013

Week in Review

The left keeps saying we need to have a discussion on race in this country.  By that they mean they don’t want to have a discussion on race.  They just want to keep saying this as they turn any incident into a racial incident.  Thus keeping the races apart, not together.  Why?  Because if there is racism in this country then there is a need for them to end racism in this country.  Which they do with a bloated and growing government bureaucracy at every level (city, county, state and federal).  And how has that worked for black Americans?  Not well (see Latest ACT test results reveal huge race gap as only 1 in 20 African Americans students ‘fully ready’ for college by ASSOCIATED PRESS posted 8/21/2013 on the New York Post).

Just a quarter of this year’s high school graduates who took the ACT tests have the reading, math, English and science skills they need to succeed in college or a career, according to data the testing company released Wednesday.

The numbers are even worse for black high school graduates: Only 5 percent are fully ready for life after high school…

When the testing agency broke down the results by race, fault lines emerged. Just 5 percent of black students are ready for college work in all four areas. Among American Indians, 10 percent are ready in all subjects, while 14 percent of Hispanics are ready. Pacific Islanders post a 19 percent readiness rate for all four subjects. White students have a 33 percent rate, and 43 percent of Asian-American students are ready for studies in all four subjects.

No surprise, really.  For the government helps no group of people more than impoverished black Americans.  And after over 40 years of trying life has gotten worse for them.  Not better.  And the data bear this out.

The key to wealth and prosperity is a college education.  Doctors and engineers can become wealthy and prosperous.  But to get to college you have to do well in high school.  If you look at data from the past few years (see High School Graduation Rates, Out-of-Wedlock Births and Median Family Income posted 7/25/2013 on Pithocrates) you see a similar trend in high school graduation rates as you see in ACT test results.  Asians graduated high school 93% of the time.  Whites graduated 83% of the time.  While blacks only graduated 66.1% of the time.  Is it because Asians are genetically smarter than whites and blacks?  No.  It’s because of the Asian family.

Asians have the lowest out-of-wedlock births at 11.3%.  While whites come in at 29.2%.  And blacks come in at 67.8%.  Children that have a mother and a father do better in school.  Because they have more parental supervision at home.  Twice as much as a single-parent household.  Two-parent households are pushing their children to do their homework.  To do well in school.  So they can score high on the ACTs (and SATs).  So they can go on to college.

A lot of single mothers are heroes.  Sacrificing so much in their life for their children.  But it’s hard. Much harder than a two-parent household.  Where you can have a full-time income earner.  And a full-time stay-at-home parent.  Where two are sacrificing for their children.  Instead of one.  While providing a powerful male role model.  Which is why more Asians are graduating and going on to college than whites and blacks.  Especially blacks.  Which is probably the discussion we should be having.  What destroyed the black family?  Who took the father out of the black household?  Something facilitated that.  And it wasn’t racism.  Was it the coarsening of society?  A bloated welfare state?  A nonjudgmental attitude?  Finding racism even where it doesn’t exist?  All of the above?  Perhaps.  For it was something.  It just didn’t happen.

When there was horrible segregation blacks fought and suffered to go to college.  Today 95% of black high school kids just don’t care.  So what’s different between then and now?  The disintegration of the black family.  And LBJ’s Great Society.  Which tried to do good.  But only ended up destroying the black family.  By replacing black fathers with Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).  And placing single-mothers into housing projects.  Where groups of fatherless children joined together in gangs.  Got into trouble.  And took that trouble into their schools.  This is how it started.  With government.  And now the Democrats exasperate it.  Why?  Because it gives them the opportunity to be the party trying to end racism.  Giving them the black vote.  Which is all they want.  And they just don’t care about the lives they destroy in the process.

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Things go from Bad to Worse in the Middle East as American Allies fall on Opposite Sides of the Egyptian Power Struggle

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 24th, 2013

Week in Review

Some may think the Middle East is a homogenous region.  Where all Muslim people are the same and think alike.  But it’s not.  And they’re not.  There are huge divides between people in the Middle East.  There isn’t just tension between the United States and this region.  There’s tension between the different Muslim people.  Something President Obama apparently didn’t know with his ‘let’s make nice to Muslims so our former enemies don’t hate us’ foreign policy.  The geopolitical power struggles that exist everywhere else in the world exist, too, in the Middle East.  And you just can’t treat everyone the same (see Obama Caught Between Polarized Allies in Egypt Crisis by Terry Atlas posted 4-19-2013 on Bloomberg).

U.S. regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey are backing opposite sides in the violent power struggle in Egypt, complicating U.S. diplomacy as the most populous Arab nation is torn by conflict.

In pressing Egypt’s interim government — and the military leaders who hold the real power — for political reconciliation with Islamist protesters, President Barack Obama is finding that U.S. influence is being challenged by financial and political support from Middle East countries pursuing their own stakes in Egypt’s future…

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have pledged billions of dollars in aid to the new Egyptian government. Qatar was a financial backer of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi’s administration, and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced last week’s government crackdown on pro-Mursi protesters as a “massacre.”

“What Qatar and Turkey say is almost a 180-degree opposite of what the Emirates and the Saudis are saying publicly,” Katulis said.

There was a balance of power in the Middle East.  And because there was a balance of power there was peace in the Middle East.  And there was one man instrumental in keeping that peace.  Hosni Mubarak.  American friend and ally.  And friend of our other friends and allies in the region.  Those who want to maintain the balance of power.  And the peace.  And our friends were not happy when President Obama told Hosni Mubarak he had to go.  Especially Saudi Arabia.  Who is trying to check the spread of radical Islamism spreading in the region.  Something Mubarak did.  Because he and his allies and friends didn’t want radical Islamism spreading through the region.  And neither does the United States.

Yet President Obama threw the one man that was instrumental in suppressing Islamist revolution in the region, by suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, under the bus.  And did nothing as the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power.  Even recognizing the anti-American Muslim Brotherhood as the legitimate ruler of Egypt.  Despite warnings from every quarter.  As the Muslim Brotherhood inspired/spawned Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda.  All anti-Western terrorist organizations.  All anti-Israeli terrorist organizations.  And all anti-American terrorist organizations.  These are the people that President Obama said the U.S. can work with.  Despite their credo being: “God is our objective, the Koran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle [jihad] is our way, and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations.”  These are the people that President Obama wanted to make nice to so they would stop hating us.  Because he was naive and inexperienced.  And tended to believe a little too much of the myth-making the American media was spreading about him.

The balance of power and the peace it brought is now gone.  And the U.S. has allies falling on both sides of the Egyptian power struggle.  What a mess.  And it’s not isolated to Egypt.  The Muslim Brotherhood is spreading its tentacles throughout the region.  Making the Middle East a tinderbox.  Where it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.  Sadly.

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Spain’s Massive Investment in Solar Power has Greatly increased the Cost of their Electric Power

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 24th, 2013

Week in Review

People think renewable energy is the answer to all our energy problems.  But that isn’t quite so.  In fact, all it does is increase the cost of our electric power.  For sunshine and wind may be free.  But the equipment to harness the energy in sunshine and wind is not free.  It is very, very expensive.  And you need a lot of it.  You will not see one wind turbine service the power needs of one metropolitan area.  You may see a wind farm providing a small percentage of the electric power needs of a large metropolitan area.  And only when the wind blows.

Wind can blow day or night.  But it can also NOT blow day and night.  While solar panels will not work at all at night.  So you have massive investments to install renewable energy generation capacity.  And there will be times when they will provide no power.  So what do you do?  What do you do when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine?  You turn to old reliable.  The electric grid.

This is why renewable energy is so costly.  It cannot replace our fossil-fuel power plants that can provide reliable power day or night in any type of weather.  It can only supplement what we call our baseload power.  Like our beloved coal-fired power plants.  One of the most cost-efficient ways to produce reliable electric power.  Which the power companies have to still run and maintain day and night.  For those who don’t have a wind turbine or a solar array providing their electric power.  And to light up the night.  So instead of one cost-efficient power generation system we have two systems.  One cost-efficient and one cost-inefficient.  And those who invested heavily into renewable energy are now having to deal with these very real problems (see Out Of Ideas And In Debt, Spain Sets Sights On Taxing The Sun by Kelly Phillips Erb posted 8/19/2013 on Forbes).

With so much sunshine at its disposal, Spain has aggressively pursued the development of solar energy: over the past ten years, the government has made significant advances in pressing solar energy and is one of the top countries in the world with respect to installed photovoltaic (PV) solar energy capacity.

It might, however, be too much of a good thing. Spain is generating so much solar power, according to its government, that production capacity exceeds demand by more than 60%. That imbalance has created a problem for the government which now finds itself in debt to producers. And not by a little bit. The debt is said to have grown to nearly 26 billion euros ($34.73 billion U.S.).

So how do you get out of that kind of debt? You propose incredibly onerous taxes and fines, of course. And you do it on exactly the behavior that you encouraged in the first place: the use of solar energy panels. That’s right. Spain is now attempting to scale back the use of solar panels – the use of which they have encouraged and subsidized over the last decade – by imposing a tax on those who use the panels…

…many residents in Spain generate enough electricity from solar that they get paid to selling the excess energy back to producers. This, it turns out, is a problem. The government is putting a stop to that, too: as part of the reform efforts (read: desperate measures), there will be a prohibition on selling extra energy.

If the power companies are providing all the power at night they have to maintain their power plants.  And their power distribution system.  Which means they even have to trim the trees away from their overhead power lines from people who use solar power during the day.  Nothing changes for the power companies.  Except that they can’t sell as much power as they once did.  So their costs of producing power remain the same.  But their revenue has fallen.  Forcing them to operate at a loss.  Or find other ways to replace their lost revenue.  Which they have to.  Because they must have the same capacity available during the day that they have at night.  Even if they aren’t selling as much power during the day as they are at night.  And the last thing they want to do is buy excess power back from homeowners with solar panels on their house when they’re producing their own power that they can’t sell.

Baseload power plants like coal and nuclear take time to bring on line.  They have to produce the heat that boils water into steam.  Then superheat the steam to remove all water from it.  So the steam can spin the generator turbines without damaging the vanes on the turbine.  And once they start these plants up they run these systems at full capacity where they produce power most cost-efficiently.  During peak demand they may bring on some gas-fired turbines that can start and produce power quickly.  And add them to the grid.  When the peak subsides they can shut down these gas-fired turbines and let the baseload generation carry the remaining load.

The Spanish government invested heavily into solar power for whatever reason.  It’s ‘free’ power.  It’s ‘clean’ power.  Or it was just a good way to create a lot of jobs.  But what Spain has now is a surplus of peak power generation during the day that doesn’t eliminate the need to maintain baseload power generation during the day.  Creating a surplus of electric power during the day no one wants.  While requiring power companies to maintain their baseload power during the day so they can provide power at night.  Incurring great costs on the power companies.  Which must be passed on to the same people who paid for the renewable energies subsidies.  The electric power consumer.

This is a classic example of a Hayekian malinvestment.  Friedrich Hayek of the Austrian school of economics said this is what happens when governments interfere with free markets.  They make investments to produce what they think is best while the market demands something else.  The market demanded low-cost electric power.  Which baseload power plants (coal and nuclear) provided.  But the government intervened and subsidized the more costly solar power.  This bad investment—or malinvestment—has only increased the cost of electric power for the Spanish consumer.  And now the Spanish have a big problem on their hands.  What to do with this surplus of peak power no one wants to pay for?  And how to replace the lost revenue of the power companies so they can cover their costs?  Two problems they didn’t have until the government intervened into the free market.

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