Huge Financial Losses in Romneycare portend even Greater Losses for Obamacare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 11th, 2014

Week in Review

Mitt Romney is a Republican.  He was governor of the predominantly Democrat state of Massachusetts.  The first to implement universal health care.  Something the Democrats kept saying during the Obamacare debates.  And since.  Calling the universal health care system in Massachusetts Romneycare.  In fact they said that Obamacare was nothing more than Romneycare writ large.  Basically Romneycare at the national level.  And that the Democrat Obamacare will be as successful as the Republican Romneycare.  Well, it turns out Romneycare isn’t that good after all (see Report finds billions wasted on health care by Liz Kowalczyk posted 1/9/2014 on The Boston Globe).

It’s no surprise that money is routinely wasted on unneeded medical care, but for the first time, officials have estimated just how many health care dollars may be squandered in Massachusetts. It could be as much as $27 billion a year…

One large chunk of that went toward readmitting hospital patients who could have stayed home if their discharge planning had been better, such as having proper instructions for taking medication…

It also blamed emergency room visits that could have been prevented with better primary care and treatment for hospital-acquired infections. Other factors included inappropriate imaging tests for low back pain, and unnecessarily inducing labor early in women, which can increase health problems for infants…

In its report, the group pointed out that per-person spending on health care in Massachusetts is the highest in the nation and grew far faster than the national average until 2009. After that, increases in both national and state spending slowed…

The commission also analyzed high-cost patients, providing the first statewide attempt at “hot-spotting’’ — the identification of chronically ill patients who repeatedly visit emergency rooms and are often hospitalized…

It found that 5 percent of patients accounted for nearly half of all medical spending among those covered by Medicare and commercial insurance.

Because of the inefficiencies of universal health care Massachusetts may waste up to $27 billion a year.  That’s about $4,063 per person in Massachusetts they throw away each year.

Massachusetts had a 2012 population of 6,646,144.  The 2012 U.S. population was 313,914,040.  The U.S. population is about 47.2 times (313,914,040/6,646,144) the population of Massachusetts.  If Obamacare is truly Romneycare writ large then we can forecast the Obamacare losses at $1.3 trillion ($27 billion X 47.2) EACH year.  Which is greater than the original cost projection over 10 years.

Romneycare is a financial disaster.  And Obamacare will be an even greater financial disaster.  Which may add a trillion dollars to the deficit each year.  Which will push the United States to a Greece-style bankruptcy.  Only worse.  Making Obamacare the program that bankrupts the United States.

President Obama wanted to change the United States.  And he will.  Into a bankrupt third-world banana republic.

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Nero, Hitler and Obama and the Lies they Told

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 29th, 2013

History 101

Nero used the Great Fire of Rome to rebuild Rome to his Liking and to Persecute Christians

Roman emperor Nero does not have the greatest of reputations.  For instance, a popular story about him is that he fiddled while Rome burned.  Of course he didn’t fiddle.  For the fiddle didn’t exist yet.  But the lyre did.  And he could play the lyre.  In fact, he even composed music for the lyre.  But the historical record is a little sparse to say definitely what happened when Rome burned.

That said Nero was not all that dismayed that Rome burnt.  Because he didn’t like the way the city looked.  And he wanted to rebuild Rome into a glorious city befitting him.  And the fire allowed him do just that.  For to build the city Nero envisioned required that he first destroy the city that was there.  And the fire conveniently did that for him.

But it did more.  The year was 64 anno Domini.  In the year of our Lord.  Being that Jesus of Nazareth lived temporally until His thirties that puts the Great Fire of Rome about 30 years after His death.  And during the rise of those pesky Christians that Nero really didn’t like.  Who worshipped Jesus as God.  And not him.  Nero.  Putting crazy thoughts into people’s heads.  That Nero wasn’t God.  So Nero blamed the Great Fire of Rome on the Christians.  Allowing him to torture them.  And execute them.  Earning the moniker of the first persecutor of Christians.  So Nero profited well from the Great Fire of Rome.  He got his new city.  And he suppressed the ascendancy of those pesky Christians.

Adolf Hitler used the Reichstag Fire to make the way Clear for the New Nazi Germany

After World War I Germany was reeling.  Reparations were crippling her.  There was hyperinflation.  Germans were struggling for food and heat.  Creating the perfect political climate for a guy like Adolf Hitler to rise in politics.  After a failed attempt to seize power—the Beer Hall Putsch—he turned to legal channels to secure power.  Winning elections.  In time the Nazi Party rose in prominence.  But it could not win a majority in the German Parliament.  Until, that is, the Reichstag fire.

Following World War I Europe was being pulled between two political ideologies.  Fascism.  And communism.  Both were brutal dictatorships.  While both proclaimed to be for the people.  Well, Adolf Hitler’s Nazis were fascists.  Who were sharing power with the communists.  But they didn’t want to share power with the communists.  Which they didn’t have to do after the Reichstag fire.

Hitler blamed the communists for the fire.  He persuaded President Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree.  Suspending civil liberties.  And then turned the power of the state against the Communist Party.  Clearing the way for the rise of the Nazis to power.  Historians still debate who set that fire today.  But one thing it did was clear the last obstacle in the way of the Nazis.  The communists.  With the Communist Party outlawed the Nazis no longer had to share power with them.  Allowing them to rise to a majority in Parliament.  And from there it was but a short path to Hitler’s absolute power.  Thanks to a fire that got rid of the old.  And made way for the new.

President Obama is On the Record saying that he is a Proponent of Single-Payer Universal Health Care

The American left has longed wanted national health care.  For it is the Holy Grail of socialist/communist states.  As it touches everyone.  And makes everyone dependent on the state.  All brutal dictatorships have/had national health care.  Cuba.  North Korea.  The Soviet Union.  Nazi Germany.  These states also were/are anti-capitalist.  So anti-capitalism and national health care go hand-in-hand.  That is, the only way to have national health care is to give up some capitalism.

Which is a problem for the proponents of national health care.  For people like their capitalism.  And the liberty and high standards of living it gives them.  So proponents of national health care can’t be honest when they’re trying to take away people’s health insurance.  So they lie (see ‘Keep Your Plan’ Vow False; Media Knew It by Investor’s Business Daily posted 10/29/2013 on Yahoo! Finance included here in its entirety).

NBC News on Monday claimed to have uncovered evidence that President Obama knew all along that his promise that “you can keep your health plan” under ObamaCare wasn’t true. The story came out just as millions across the country are getting cancellation notices from their insurance companies.

“Buried in ObamaCare regulations from July 2010,” NBC said, is an estimate that shows “the administration knew that more than 40% to 67% of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.

Although ObamaCare included a provision meant to grandfather health plans sold before 2010, regulators defined what “grandfathered” meant so narrowly that most plans wouldn’t qualify.

Yet Obama went on repeating this promise, saying, as he did in June 2012, that “if you’re one of the 250 million Americans who already (has) health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.

That the administration knew this wasn’t true is troubling.

But the mainstream press also knew — or should have known — that Obama’s “you can keep your plan” promise was phony. It just didn’t bother to report on it at the time.

As far back as early 2010, health reform experts, Republican lawmakers and conservative policy analysts had been citing the same 40% to 67% figure that NBC News claims to have unearthed: The Commonwealth Fund, a favorite source for health care reporters, pointed out in a June 22, 2010, blog post that the administration “estimated that between 40% and 67% of health plans will relinquish grandfathered status” by 2013, meaning that millions of plans would get canceled.

An October 2010 article in the widely read Health Affairs said that, in addition to those losses, “the Obama administration has projected that between 39% and 69% of employer group plans” and “up to 80%” of small business plans would be canceled.

On Sept. 22, 2010, Sen. Mike Enzi , R-Wyo., said forcing 80% of small firms to change plans “breaks the president’s promise” about keeping your health plan.

In May 2011, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that 51% of employers said they would have to drop plans and buy new ones because of ObamaCare.

An Aug. 29, 2011, memo by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor noted that “by the administration’s own estimates, 40% to 67% of individual insurance plans” will be canceled.

In a December 2011 paper, the Galen Institute’s Grace-Marie Turner noted that “millions of people are losing the coverage they have now, and tens of millions more will surely follow.

(IBD also covered this extensively at the time.) In addition, the Congressional Budget Office had reported in March 2010 that ObamaCare could cause 4 million to lose their employer-provided health insurance. It later raised that to 7 million, and admitted the number could be 20 million.

And years ago, Republicans like Enzi and Cantor pushed ObamaCare changes that would have prevented the massive cancellations going on today.

But with a few rare exceptions, the mainstream press completely ignored evidence that millions would be forced to drop their current insurance.

Now news reports are rife with stories of angry families getting insurance cancellation notices, learning that ObamaCare-approved plans will cost far more, and wondering why they didn’t know this was coming.

On Monday, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., introduced a bill aimed at preventing these cancellations. The one-page bill, “The Keep Your Health Plan Act,” states simply that any health plan sold this year to the individual can also be sold next year.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has a similar bill in the Senate.

The question is whether Senate Democrats will block this bill — as they have almost every other GOP-sponsored ObamaCare bill — in the face of rising public anger about Obama’s misleading and now broken promise.

President Obama doesn’t like the existing health care system.  And is on the record saying that he is a proponent of single-payer universal health care.

So to get what he wants he first has to destroy the old.  Private health insurance.  And then set up the new.  Obamacare.  His pathway to single-payer universal health care.  Something the American people don’t want.  So he lied to the American people.  And created Obamacare to destroy the one obstacle in his way.  The private health insurance industry.  Then he can act against the will of the people.  And get what HE wants.  Power.  Through legal means.  Just like Hitler.  Who was also a good liar.  And, thankfully, that’s where the similarities end.  Well, that.  And destroying their countries.  For awhile, at least.

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Some People Diagnosed with Dementia in the NHS wait up to a Year for Treatment

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 7th, 2012

Week in Review

Now that the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare what can we expect from the new universal health care program?  Well, we could look at another universal health care program and see how they are doing.  And not just any.  But one of the best national health care systems in the world.  The UK’s National Health Service (see Report highlights ‘barriers’ to dementia diagnosis by Adam Brimelow posted 7/2/2012 on the BBC News Health).

Many patients face “shocking” delays for dementia diagnosis and treatment, according to a report by MPs and peers…

Its report says some people have to wait more than a year for an appointment at a memory clinic…

The inquiry was set up to examine big discrepancies in dementia diagnosis rates. Across the UK it is estimated that only 43% of people with the disease have a formal diagnosis…

The report says there is strong evidence to show the benefit of early diagnosis for people with dementia, their families, and also to the taxpayer…

It also identifies big variations in access to memory services. Some people reported having to wait more than a year for an appointment at a memory clinic, while for others it was just a few weeks.

And it says people often received no information or support following diagnosis…

Jo Webber, from the NHS Confederation, said dementia was one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS.

With an aging population dementia is a big problem.  And really something that shouldn’t have been hard to forecast.  You’d think a national health service that put people before profits would have been better prepared. 

Some wait for more than a year while some only wait a few weeks?  That doesn’t sound very universal.  Like a national health care program with universal coverage should be. 

The NHS is really not to blame.  The idea of national health care for an aging population is.  When you have more people leaving the workforce than entering it.  Paying ever higher tax rates to fund the health care for that aging population.  The NHS is busting at the seams.  A big chunk of the UK’s annual deficit is for the NHS.  Forcing them to do more with less.  Because they just don’t have the resources for more.  Which leads to rationing of services.  And wait times of a year or more.

So here is a peek into the future under Obamacare.  Just one side note.  The US population is approximately five times as that of the UK.  So we can probably expect five times the rationing.  And 5 times the wait times.  Meaning we’ll have even more people going without.  And waiting.

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LESSONS LEARNED #77: “Liberals only call for bipartisan compromise when they’ve lost majority power and can no longer dictate policy.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 4th, 2011

The Liberal Ruling Class hails from the Ivy League

Liberals hail from the Ivy League.  Where they’re taught important life skills.  Arrogance.  Conceit.  And condescension.  It is here at these universities that they learn to hold everyone in contempt.  Yes, there are some out there with true liberal bona fides that didn’t go to the Ivy League, but they are the exception.  Not the rule.  These people may bleat the liberal line as well as the Ivy Leaguer, but they are not going to ascend to the Ruling Class.  And though they won’t admit it, the Ruling Class holds most of these liberals in contempt, too.

Amassing wealth and power in a few, elite hands is nothing new.  Even in early America.  The Planter Elite of the Deep South were a small minority of the population.  But they held the wealth and power in the Deep South.  And they wielded it during the Philadelphia Convention.  They held the founding of the new nation hostage.  Unless the land where all men were created equal had slavery there would be no new nation.  So there was slavery.  And the Ruling Class of the Deep South gave themselves extra political clout in the new federal government.  Thanks to the Three-Fifths Compromise.  The minority planter elite were able to inflate their numbers by counting 3/5 of each slave.  Thus inflating their numbers in the House of Representatives.

So for the first 50 years or so of the new nation the new federal government spoke with a decidedly southern accent.  And often dictated policy in the new nation.  And for those 50 or so years the Deep South was happy to be part of the union.  Because they sort of ran the show.  Then all that immigration into the north started to change the balance of power in the House of Representatives.  Which left the presidency (where they did whatever they could to make sure the president would be sympathetic to southern views and willing to compromise to save the union).  And the Senate.  And to maintain power in the Senate they had to hold on to slavery. 

The Planter Elite used Slavery to Concentrate Wealth and Power in their Hands

The Ruling Class, the Planter Elite (approximately 5% of the Southern population), used slavery to concentrate wealth and power in their hands.  It was truly an old-school aristocracy in the Deep South.  The ‘landed aristocracy’ in these states owned these states.  And up to the mid 19th century they took this disproportionate power to Congress.  They advanced and blocked legislation to protect their slaveholding interests.  To maintain their minority rule.  Their power.  And their wealth.

As immigration began to tip the balance of power away from them they turned their focus to the Senate.  Each state got two senators.  Population numbers didn’t matter.  What mattered was that there wasn’t more ‘free’ states than ‘slave’ states.  And that there was no prevailing antislavery sentiment.  As there was throughout the northern states at the time.  Not only did they eschew slavery, they weren’t even returning runaway slaves to their rightful owners.  So while they could the Planter Elite would use the power of the federal government to override any state law they felt counterproductive to their interests.  And dictate policy to these recalcitrant northern states.

For you see, slavery is a lot like socialism.  It doesn’t work well when those trapped in it can escape it.  And that was a problem for the Deep South.  Their slaves were escaping to these northern states.  And these uppity northern state governments refused to return this southern ‘property’.  Not only were they taking a financial loss on these runaway slaves, but this northern sanctuary was encouraging more slaves to run away.  This would not do.  So they passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 compelling them to return these slaves to bondage.  Or be fined and/or jailed.  This did not go over well in the North.  And it placed the country on the road to civil war.

The Civil War was a Battle between Privileged Aristocracy and the Equality of Self-Government

All during the run up to the Civil War, the Ruling Class, the planter elite of the Deep South, participated in the democratic process.  Because for a long time they were free to dictate a lot of U.S. policy.  From a stacked deck (thanks to the Three-Fifths Compromise).  And repeated threats of secession if they didn’t get their way.  Politicians on both sides of the slavery issue made compromise after compromise to keep the union together.  But that all changed with the election of Abraham Lincoln.  A Republican.   Which was the party taking a moral stance on the issue of slavery.  This did not bode well for the Ruling Class. 

South Carolina seceded first.  Then the rest followed.  The planter elite in these states led their states out of the union.  And into civil war.  Arguing that Lincoln’s federal government was going to infringe on their states’ rights (in particular their right to continue the institution of slavery).  They called it the War of Northern Aggression even though they fired the first shot at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.  And they told their brave soldiers to fight these Yankee invaders to protect their country (i.e., state), their families and their way of life.  And they did.  Some 300,000 dying in the process.  But not to maintain the institution of slavery.  For 95% of all Southerners didn’t own any slaves.  They fought to protect their country, their families and their way of life.  Most of which was a life of backbreaking labor on a small patch of land they called the family farm.  That was in no way threatened by the North.  But the Ruling Class lied.  To protect their interests.  Their wealth.  And sacrificed a generation of their own people.  Because to them, they were as expendable as the slaves on their plantations.  Actually, they were more expendable.  For Confederate soldiers didn’t show up on their balance sheets.  But slaves did.

The Confederate soldier fought valiantly.  But lost.  In what was a battle between the Old World.  And the New World.  Between the privilege of aristocracy.  And the equality of self-government.  Between the Ruling Class.  And ordinary Americans.  The balance of power shifted.  Away from the Deep South.  But, alas, not to the people.  Instead, to the North East.  To the Ivy League.  Where another Ruling Class would rise.  And take over the reins of government.  Keeping class warfare alive and well in the United States.

Tea Party Republicans are Decidedly Anti-Ruling Class

The players may change but the Ruling Class lives on.  Those who feel entitled to an elevated position because of their birthright.  Or wealth.  Most often both.  Which is what you need to get into the Ivy League.  And you have to think correctly.  Which isn’t too much of a problem for they make sure you do so in their curriculum.  Which is heavy on liberal progressivism.  And light on staying out of other people’s business.

Case in point, Obamacare.  Universal health care.  The holy grail of liberalism.  The people didn’t want it.  Based on the polling.  And the town hall meetings.  They didn’t want the government intruding into their health care.  But they had both houses of Congress.  So they could do just about anything they wanted.  Dictate policy.  And sneak things through in the dead of night.  Which they did to make Obamacare law.  Strictly along pure partisan party lines.  Some of their members paid the ultimate price and lost in the following election.  But they take care of their own.  The Ruling Class.  Though out of office, they’re never out of power.

That is until a bunch of uppity freshmen Republicans descended on Congress.  Tea Party Republicans we call them.  And decidedly anti-Ruling Class.  And they’ve become a problem.  For they won’t accept the established order.  They can’t be bought.  And they don’t care if they get reelected.  The boobs.  All they care about is keeping their campaign promises.  Which is anathema to the Ruling Class.

And soon the shoe was on the other foot.  The Ruling Class lost the House in the 2010 midterm election.  And had to deal with obstructionism.  And by obstructionism I mean responsible governing.  Per the will of the people.  From that contemptible Tea Party.  For they are interfering with the natural order of things.  That is, letting liberals do whatever they want.  So now the liberals cry foul.  And demand bipartisan compromise.  Until they can dictate policy again.  They way it should be.  According to the Ruling Class.

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Obama Prolongs the Recession with High Food and Gas Prices and anti-Business Policies

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 27th, 2011

Consumer Spending and Wages are Flat thanks to Inflation

Consumer spending at last shows some growth.  No, wait a minute.  It’s not growth.  It’s only inflation (see April consumer spending shows weak gain by the Associated Press posted 5/27/2011 on the Los Angeles Times).

Consumer spending rose 0.4 percent, reflecting a surge in the category that covers food and gasoline, areas which showed big price gains last month, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Excluding price changes, spending rose a much smaller 0.1 percent.

Incomes rose 0.4 percent but after-tax incomes adjusted for inflation were flat for a second straight month.

Analysts are worried that weak income growth and big gains in gasoline and food prices are leaving consumers with little left to spend on other products. That could dampen economic growth. Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

Increased consumer spending is a good thing.  But not when consumers are only paying more for the same stuff.  That’s not new economic activity.  That’s just inflation making life more expensive.  Food and gasoline are the main culprits.  And it’s gasoline that plays a large role in making food more expensive.  Because gasoline is used everywhere in bringing food to our grocery stores.

Worse, Americans are paying more.  But not earning more.  Which leaves less disposable income to stimulate the economy. In other words, the U.S. is still in recession.  And won’t be coming out of it anytime soon.

Still no Recovery in the Housing Market

So we’re still mired in recession.  Of course that means houses should still be cheap.  With low interest rates.  Put the two together and someone should be buying houses at least (see Pending Home Sales Plunge, Reaching Seven-Month Low by Reuters posted 5/27/2011 on CNBC).

Pending sales of existing U.S. homes dropped far more than expected in April to touch a seven-month low, a trade group said on Friday, dealing a blow to hopes of a recovery in the housing market.

Damn.  Housing sales had been the backbone of the U.S. economy.  Because furnishing a house drives so much consumer spending.  The more people that bought houses the better.  So that was U.S. policy.  Putting people into houses.  Which led to the subprime mortgage market.  A housing bubble.  The subprime mortgage crisis.   And a glut of foreclosed homes on the market driving housing prices down further.

It’s a buyer’s market now.  Because so few are buying.  So the economy is not going to get any assistance from the housing market any time soon.

Universal Health Care Ruins Massachusetts First, then the United States

So things are bad.  But can they get any worse?  Are there any new big regulatory compliance or taxes in the pipeline?  Anything that could snuff out even the most anemic of economic recoveries?  As it turns out, yes (see Health Insurance Premiums Continue to Rise Under RomneyCare by Peter Suderman posted 5/27/2011 on reason).

Not only are Masachusetts’ health insurance premiums higher than elsewhere in the U.S. on average, they’ve grown at a faster rate since the adoption of RomneyCare, according to a report released yesterday by the state government. The report, which was published by the state’s Division of Health Care Finance & Policy, notes that for the last two years, private group insurance premiums rose by between five and 10 percent per year despite the fact that the regional consumer price index, which measures inflation on common goods and services, rose by just two percent..

The Obama administration has explicitly stated on numerous occasions that RomneyCare was the model for the federal overhaul. Given the Bay State’s spiraling costs, it seems more and more likely that, thanks to ObamaCare, we can all expect higher health insurance premiums in our future.

So Obamacare is Romneycare at the national level.  So the American people can expect spiraling health care costs and insurance premiums.  That can’t be good for the economy.

Obamacare hasn’t really kicked in yet.  Most of the activity has been by companies seeking waivers to be excluded from the requirements of Obamacare as it places too great a cost burden on their small businesses.  But these are only one-year waivers.  So small business costs will be going up eventually.  When they do in fact comply with Obamacare.  And that will be a great disincentive to hire new employees.  Being that small business is the biggest generator of jobs, Obamacare will further stretch out this recession.  Or make it an even more severe recession.

The Obama Administration would like Gas at $8/Gallon

If only we could get a break on gasoline prices.  That is such a large part of consumer prices that if they went down the economy might tick up.  So the government should focus all of its powers on lowering gas prices (see Obama’s Bad Policy, Harmful Regulations Add to Gas Prices by Darrell Issa posted 5/27/2011 on USNEWS).

From the campaign trail, then Senator Obama spoke of increased electricity prices as a means for advancing his agenda, noting that costs would “necessarily skyrocket.” Energy Secretary Stephen Chu was equally blunt. “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe [currently $8 a gallon],” Mr. Chu announced. Last year, President Obama declared that America must be the nation that leads the “clean energy economy.”

So the plan was to make gasoline prices high all along.  To make gasoline so expensive that the more expensive green energy became cost competitive.  To encourage the American people to choose it.  And by ‘encourage’ I mean force.  Talk about devious. 

Even as compliance costs for traditional and affordable sources of energy rise, the administration’s willingness to promulgate even tighter regulatory controls and raise taxes on oil and gas producers rolls along. In his fiscal year 2012 budget, President Obama requested more than $60 billion in direct tax and fee increases on American energy production over the next 10 years.

Tighter regulatory controls and higher taxes won’t help the economy.  Especially when those controls and taxes are on the one thing that drives most prices.  Gasoline.  It’s almost as if the Obama administration is trying to prolong the greatest recession since the Great Depression.

The Government’s Help is killing Small Business

So how about the man in the street.  Or, rather, a man on an airplane.  Stephen Carter, Yale law professor, sat next to a small business owner on a recent flight.  An actual person.  Not the abstract business people who are trying to cheat the government out of their taxes or take grandma’s medications away.  A flesh and blood real person.  They had an interesting conversation.  About small business.  The greatest generator of American jobs.  And he asked this business owner why he was prolonging the recession by not hiring new employees (see Carter: Economic Stagnation Explained, at 30,000 Feet by Stephen L. Carter posted 5/26/2011 on Bloomberg).

“Because I don’t know how much it will cost,” he explains. “How can I hire new workers today, when I don’t know how much they will cost me tomorrow?”

He’s referring not to wages, but to regulation: He has no way of telling what new rules will go into effect when. His business, although it covers several states, operates on low margins. He can’t afford to take the chance of losing what little profit there is to the next round of regulatory changes. And so he’s hiring nobody until he has some certainty about cost.

One thing business people don’t like is uncertainty.  Because when they screw up they can’t just raise taxes or print money.  They have to deal with real the consequences of bad decisions.  So they are very careful about making costly decisions.  Like hiring people.

“I don’t understand why Washington does this to us,” he resumes. By “us,” he means people who run businesses of less- than-Fortune-500 size. He tells me that it doesn’t much matter which party is in office. Every change of power means a whole new set of rules to which he and those like him must respond. ‘‘I don’t understand,” he continues, “why Washington won’t just get out of our way and let us hire.”

Republican.  Democrat.  It doesn’t matter.  Every time there is a change there are new rules to follow.  And more of that thing they so hate.  Uncertainty.

“I think about retirement a lot,” he says. “But I can’t.” I wait to hear about how much he loves the business he founded, or about his responsibilities to his employees, or perhaps to the town, somewhere in the Dakotas, where his factory is located. Instead, he tells me that it’s impossible to make a sensible decision about winding down his firm when he doesn’t even know from one year to the next what the capital gains rate is going to be.

So it’s just not the Wall Street robber barons affected by the capital gains tax.  The greatest employer, small business, is affected, too.  He is just one of many.  Unable to make decisions like when he can retire.  Does he have enough money to retire?  And pay his capital gains tax?  If not it could be a problem.  Because you just can’t un-retire when you sell or close down a small business if you calculated wrong.  Instead, you’ll be an old guy trying to find a job.

I ask him what, precisely, he thinks is the proper role of government as it relates to business.

“Invisible,” he says. “I know there are things the government has to do. But they need to find a way to do them without people like me having to bump into a new regulation every time we turn a corner.” He reflects for a moment, then finds the analogy he seeks. “Government should act like my assistant, not my boss.”

An assistant doesn’t tell the boss how to run his business.  Because an assistant doesn’t know how to run his boss’ business.  Government bureaucrats aren’t even as knowledgeable as the assistant.  The assistant at least has a job in a business.  Few in Washington have ever run a business.  Let alone had a real job.  Yet here they are constantly trying to tell others how to run their businesses.

On the way to my connection, I ponder. As an academic with an interest in policy, I tend to see businesses as abstractions, fitting into a theory or a data set. Most policy makers do the same. We rarely encounter the simple human face of the less- than-giant businesses we constantly extol. And when they refuse to hire, we would often rather go on television and call them greedy than sit and talk to them about their challenges.

Recessions have complex causes, but, as the man on the aisle reminded me, we do nothing to make things better when the companies on which we rely see Washington as adversary rather than partner.

The best thing Washington can do to help small business?  Stop helping. 

In the Recession Business?

From small business regulation to inflation to the high cost of health care to the high cost of gasoline it would appear that the current administration is actually in the recession business.  Or utterly incompetent.  One almost has to lean towards incompetence.  Because there is an election in 2012.  And making the worst recession since the Great Depression more like the Great Depression can’t possibly help at the polls.  Even if you have compromising photographs of the Republican candidate having a good time with someone that is not his or her spouse.

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The International Fight against Universal Health Care

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 16th, 2011

The Most Effective Cost Control Mechanism is Market Forces

They keep saying that they’re not trying to nationalize our health care.  In fact, Obama promised that if you liked your doctor you could keep your doctor with the new Obamacare.  Of course, that decision won’t be entirely yours.  For your doctor may choose to drop you.  And if they keeping cutting Medicare doctor reimbursements, doctors will finally say enough is enough.  I’m outta here.  No more Medicare patients.  Which could force you to find another doctor.  Even though Obama promised that wouldn’t happen.

There’s a lot of talk about controlling costs in Medicare.  And there’s only one way to that with the current system.  You pay doctors less.  Which they are always trying to do.  Is that fair?  Put yourself in their position.  Would you keep seeing patients?  After doing what so few other people do (go to college, medical school, serve an internship and a residency after racking up huge student loan debt that has to be paid back at the same time you have to pay ever rising medical malpractice insurance premiums leaving you with little money to enjoy the first decade or so of your new medical career)?  Because some government bureaucrat says you’ve earned enough money?  All the while no government restrictions are placed on public sector pay and benefits?  To add the ultimate insult to injury, a lot of those same bureaucrats telling doctors that they’ve earned enough money and should be happy with what the government deems is appropriate will no doubt make more than the doctor.  With far less training.  And far less responsibility.  Which just ain’t right.

They like to blame the doctors for the runaway costs.  But they’re not the lone scapegoat.  They also blame the pharmaceutical companies.  The hospitals.  And, of course, the great ‘big bad’ in the health care industry, the insurance companies.  Whose costs keep going up.  Greater than the rate of inflation.  So the runaway costs in the health care system must be their fault.  Because they’re greedy.  It can’t have anything to do with the system we force them into.  Where third party payments shut out all market forces (the person receiving the service isn’t paying the bill), thus eliminating the only effective cost control mechanism.  And introduces government.  Making health care a public good.  Where non-health care government bureaucrats determine fair pricing, supply and demand.  And you know where that will lead to.  To the here and now.

Labour fights against Market Forces for the NHS in the UK

Government bureaucrats don’t like privatization.  Or market forces.  They’d rather manage things.  Because they’re smarter.  Narcissistic.   And they covet that money and power.  They want all those tax dollars funding health care to go through their fingers.  And having people dependent on them for their health care makes that a whole lot easier.  So when conservatives try to introduce effective cost mechanisms, liberals push back.  In the US.  In Canada.  And in the UK (see NHS bill to ‘substantively’ change, says Oliver Letwin posted 4/16/2011 on the BBC).

Labour wants the plans for the NHS in England, which encourage more private sector competition, to be scrapped.

Under the shake-up, GPs are also to be given control of much of the NHS budget.

To cut costs, reduce wait times and improve quality of the NHS, the UK is trying to decentralize the NHS.  Give more decision-making authority to the general practitioners (GPs) in the local communities.  Letting the local health care providers in the communities they serve determine how to best spend the NHS money.  Which, of course, is anathema to Big Government liberals.  Such as Labour in the UK.

Liberals fight against Market Forces for the CHA in Canada

Wherever you find national health care, you’ll find bitter partisan debate over the money paying for that health care.  Except in Cuba.  Or North Korea.  Luckily, for them, there are no opposition parties.  And no one complains about anything.  For they know better.  But Canada has a national funded health care system.  And opposition parties.  Which can get pretty nasty when they’re trailing in the polls (see Liberals drop gloves with attack ad on Harper’s ‘secret’ health agenda by John Ibbitson posted 4/16/2011 in The Globe and Mail).

Conservatives are reacting with fury to a Liberal attack ad that accuses them of harbouring a secret agenda to cut health care funding if they obtain a majority government.

“The Liberal ad uses some of the dirtiest tricks in the book — including twisting words out of context and deliberately altering dates to make old words appear recent,” Tory campaign manager Jenni Byrne wrote to party supporters in reaction to the new attack ad.

In America, the go-to strategy is to threaten Medicare.  In the UK it’s the NHS.  In Canada, it’s the Canada Health Act (CHA).  The reason is, of course, the sheer size of this budget item.  If you’re trying to cut a budget deficit, that’s where you do it.  Cuts elsewhere just won’t be big enough to matter.  And everyone knows it.

If Mr. Harper is given “absolute power,” the ad warns, he plans to cut $11-billion from the federal budget. “Where would Harper’s cuts leave your family’s health?” the narrator asks.

“The stakes are too high. Vote Liberal.”

So you threaten certain death for you and your family should the opposition get elected.  While all the time promising yourself to cut the deficit.  Which, of course, you won’t.  For it will require cuts in health care funding.  And you’re not going to do that.  For there will be another election.  Eventually.  Sure, it makes you a hypocrite.  But a hypocrite with a job.

The Conservatives do plan to cut government spending as part of their own plan to balance the budget, but they promise to do so without reducing transfers to provinces, including health transfers.

It is true that the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien cut funding for health care in the 1990s as part of its efforts to eliminate the federal deficit. Once the budget was balanced, the Paul Martin government signed a ten-year accord to increase funding by six per cent a year. The Conservatives, when they came to power, honoured that commitment, and pledge to continue the arrangement, as does Mr. Ignatieff.

Anyone living near the Canadian-US border only knows too well the consequences of painful health care cuts.  When doctors and nurses get pay cuts, they scoot across the border for higher paying jobs in the US.  Which makes Canadians’ long waits for health care even longer.  This is the ultimate consequence of national health care.  Cost problems you solve by rationing services.  Whether in the UK.  Canada.  Or the USA.

Massachusetts:  Blueprint for Obamacare

We have Obamacare now.  Maybe.  We’ll see.  There’s a popular movement to repeal it.  After it was snuck through Congress.  By the time people learned what was in it (long after Congress voted it into law), the majority of the population didn’t want it.  It’s a big reason why the Republicans won back the House of Representatives in the 2010 mid-term elections.  For the people felt betrayed by their representatives.  So they fired a bunch of them.  Except Nancy Pelosi.  Who the good people of San Francisco reelected with like 80% of the vote even though her national approval numbers as Speaker of the House were closer to 10%.  Which makes it clear that the San Francisco district she represents is an anomaly in the American fabric.  Where the people think against the national grain, so to speak.  But I digress.

Anyway, before Obamacare there was Massachusetts.  And their little experiment in universal health care.  Which now covers every man, woman and child.  Well, almost.  Only 98% are covered.  That other 2% are the state’s Republicans.  I’m kidding, of course.  I don’t know who that 2% is.  Except that they must be the most unlucky sons of bitches ever to live in Massachusetts.  To live in a state where everyone gets free health care and they still get bupkis.  Imagine how that would make you feel.

But even there, in that universal health care utopia, they have a problem.    They gave health care to everyone (except that unlucky 2%, the poor bastards) but they never figured out how to pay for it (see Massachusetts, pioneer of universal health care, now may try new approach to costs by Amy Goldstein posted 4/15/2011 on The Washington Post).

Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D) is trying to “shove,” as he put it, the health-care system here into a new era of cost control. He is proposing a new way of paying for care that would try to propel changes in the way it is delivered. It would give lump payments to teams of doctors responsible for almost all the care of a group of patients, with bonuses for saving money and dispensing high-caliber services that keep people healthy.

Interesting.  Sort of going the route of the GPs in the UK.  Decentralizing the health care system.  After they just centralized it.

Massachusetts in 2006 created a health insurance exchange, a requirement that most residents carry coverage and subsidies to help them pay for it — central elements now in the federal law. As a result, 98 percent of the residents here are now insured, the highest rate in the nation. But the state’s first round of health-care changes devoted far less attention to medical costs.

“We did access first,” said state Senate President Therese Murray (D). “Now we have to figure out how we afford that.”

Oops.  No doubt during the debate for universal care the opponents said something like, “Are you out of your minds?  You have any idea what something like that will cost?”  Which, of course, the proponents replied, “Don’t worry about it.  We have a plan.”  And that plan was apparently to get the law passed first then figure out how to pay for it.

Fee-for-service medicine “is a primary contributor to escalating costs and pervasive problems of uneven quality,” the commission unanimously concluded in 2009.

Despite the consensus, huge questions loom: Who should be part of the new medical teams? How would the idea work for most doctors who practice alone or in small groups? How much clout should the state wield to blunt the ability of powerful local health systems to drive up costs? And, importantly, how heavy a hand should the government use to compel change?

Fee for service is NOT the problem.  It’s never the problem.  If I want to hire a contractor to build a deck in my backyard, I’ll ask some contractors to quote their fee to build a deck.  If the prices are $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 for identical services, guess who I’m going to hire.  Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say that each of these prices are fair prices for each of these contractors because of their cost structure (e.g., one may have his office on the beach and pays ten times as much in property tax as the others and therefore has to charge more). 

Now in a system where the government steps in to make prices fair, let’s see what happens.  Say a bureaucrat gets three quotes and determines the fair price is $10,000 (the average of the three).  So the contractor who quoted $15,000 now has to build decks at $10,000 and lose money, eventually going out of business.  The contractor that quoted $5,000 will get rich making over a 100% profit on each deck.  And me?  I’ll end up paying twice as much as I had to for the deck.  This is what happens when you don’t let the market set prices.  You get a mess.

In the pressure-cooker of medical costs in the United States, Massachusetts offers a particularly vivid example. The spending per person on health care is 15 percent higher than the national average — even taking into account the comparatively high wages here and outsize role of medical research and training. The move to near-universal coverage, state figures show, accounts for a sliver of recent increases in insurance premiums, which have soared above inflation. The main reason has been a rapid escalation in prices.

“The growth is outstripping every single measure of society’s ability to keep up,” said Glen Shor, executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector, which runs the insurance exchange.

So much for the theory of an insurance exchange being the panacea Obama claimed it would be.  For whenever has a bureaucracy been cost efficient?  Never.  It’s impossible.  You can’t manage an economy and do better than market forces.  It’s never happened yet in human history.  So why do some people (i.e., Big Government liberals) still think they can do a better job?  Oh, but we must remove filthy, nasty profits from health care.  This ‘public good’ deserves better.  It deserves the tender love of a caring government bureaucracy.  Not some evil corporation trying to maximize profits.  Of course, look at what happens when these corporations do just that.  Stuff we like and want to buy is plentiful and inexpensive.  But God forbid if we do that to health care.

Some doctors are embracing the new way of working. David C. Pickul is the medical director of the physicians group affiliated with Lowell General Hospital, in an economically bruised community about 30 miles northwest of Boston. The group is in the third year of a five-year “alternative quality” contract with Blue Cross involving a hub of 70 primary care doctors and a looser group of 200 specialists who are responsible for 20,000 HMO patients. The team now has a financial incentive, Pickul said, to track down patients when it is time for their mammograms or for eye exams for those with diabetes. Under Blue Cross’s quality rating, Lowell has soared the past two years.

Blue Cross is not alone. At Partners HealthCare, the famous Boston-based medical system that dominates health care here, Massachusetts General Hospital has been conducting a Medicare experiment in which nurses are assigned to coordinate care for about 2,500 older patients with multiple ailments. The experiment, which began five years ago, so far has reduced hospital re-admissions by one-fifth and cut medical spending by 7 percent.

“Frankly, the market has already . . . responded,” said Gary Gottlieb, Partners’ president and chief executive. “There is enough momentum for us to do this without instrumental regulation” by the state.

The governor and some other officials disagree. The need to lower costs, they say, is urgent enough that the government should step in, and they have been laying groundwork.

Financial incentive?  Isn’t that another word for profit?  And this pursuit of profits has done what?  Improved patient quality?  Reduced hospital readmissions by one-fifth?  And cut medical spending by 7 percent?  Amazing what will happen when you let the market respond.  What a success story.  But they want to do what?  Step in?  To lower costs?  After the market lowered costs already by 7 percent?  You got to be kidding me.  Whatever happened to if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?

And Alice Coombs, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, is especially concerned about physicians who work alone or in small groups, older physicians who might choose to retire rather than switch or new doctors who might leave for other states.

And how do you solve that problem?  With compulsory medical service.  Which universal health care coverage gives you.  If you worry about doctors opting out of a new cost-contained system, you make it impossible to opt out.  You simply nationalize health care.  Letting the doctors know, yeah, they may be miserable and unhappy with the new system, but you’ll be just as miserable and unhappy where ever you go.  So why move out of state?  For any where you go, we’ll be there.  Understand?  So just keep curing the people and stop your bitching. 

Sure will make all that medical school, internship and residency worth it, won’t it?

The Song Remains the Same

Liberals everywhere want to expand the size of government.  And a national health care is the holy grail of government expansion.  But everywhere it’s tried the same thing happens.  Cost and wait times increase.  Quality decreases.  And services are rationed.  Most people (especially liberals) want to blame the greed of those who work in health care.  So they come up with new ways to manage and control costs.  Which inevitably adds yet more layers of bureaucracy.  Which benefits liberal governments.  At the expense of the taxpayer.  And patients’ health.

But nothing they try works.  Costs keep going up.  For good reason.  Because the problem is not the greed of the health care people.  It’s the health care system.  There are no market forces in it.  Which is the most efficient cost control mechanism.  Of course, admitting this is an admission that Big Government has failed.  And liberals can’t have that.  So they fight.  Demonize.  And scapegoat. And try to scare the bejesus out of everyone by saying conservatives want to cut health care funding so they can kill your family.

Whatever the name, whatever the country, the song remains the same.  Conservatives will try to cut deficits by reforming the biggest budget item.  And liberals will fight them every step of the way.  Ultimately giving us a health care system with greater costs, longer wait times, lower quality and rationed care.  As demonstrated everywhere in countries with a national health care system.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #38: “Repeating a lie doesn’t make it true.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 2nd, 2010

If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit; even if O.J. Simpson did it.

A lie is a lie.  No matter how well you say it.  Or how often you say it.  O.J. Simpson has said over and over that he didn’t kill his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.  Or her friend, Ronald Goldman.  Few believe him.  Even Oprah Winfrey told Mark Furman recently on her talk show that Simpson did it. And she’s no racist.  She even endorsed Barack Obama for president.  And he’s black.

But if you repeat the lie enough people will believe it.  The Simpson jury apparently believed it.  And they believed Furman was a racist and that he lied under oath.  But Furman is no more a racist than you are.  And although he was a pretty good detective, he actually forgot a thing or two he said in his past.  Like using the ‘n’ word during an interview with a writer who was working on a screenplay about cops.  A recording surfaced during the trial where Furman did in fact make some pretty nasty racial slurs.  But it was probably more bravado than racism.  A young cop trying to sound like a tough and gritty L.A. cop in front of a screenwriter.  Besides, Furman was a Marine.  And Marines aren’t racists.  ‘Nuff said.

Anyway, armed with that, the defense repeated the lie that racist mark Furman planted the infamous bloody glove that did not fit.  The shrunken leather glove that didn’t fit Simpson’s gloved hand.  “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”  And they did.  Simpson went free, though he’s in jail now for other crimes (armed robbery and kidnapping).  And Furman pleaded no contest to perjury.  The only criminal sentence in the Simpson/Goldman murders.  And very sad testament to the L.A. criminal law system.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”  Anita Hill cried wolf.

President Bill Clinton looked into the camera and wagged his finger at America.  “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”  But the infamous blue dress begged to differ.  In some people’s world, playing with each other’s genitals and climaxing on someone may not be sexual relations.  But you’re not going to do any of that with a hooker unless you pay for it.  And what do hookers do?  They sell ‘sexual relations’.

Clinton did, in fact, lie.  Though to this day he still says what he said was not untrue.  He can say that all he wants but the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct says otherwise.  They suspended his license to practice law because they say he lied about Monica Lewinsky.  Makes one wonder about all those other denials about sexual misconduct with Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Sally Perdue, Dolly Kyle Browning, etc.  He denies the allegations.  But then again, he also denied the Lewinsky allegation. 

Then there was Clarence Thomas.  During his confirmation hearings, the Democrats brought in Anita Hill to testify.  She alleged inappropriate behavior.  Nothing illegal, but inappropriate.  And they gave him a full-blown public anal exam during his confirmation hearing.  Because Hill cried wolf.  There was no substantive proof.  Just some wild-ass allegations.  Of which he was all of a sudden guilty until proven innocent.  The feminist stood tall with Anita Hill.  But nary a one came to the defense of the Clinton women.  Even after the infamous blue dress.  They all stood by their man.  Bill Clinton.  Misogyny and all.  (And the allegations against Clarence Thomas were nowhere close to ‘blue dress’ level).

Pragmatist liberals lie to impose their liberal agenda because the ends justify the means.

Everybody lies.  It’s the degree of the lie, though, that matters.  And the reason.  Militant feminists, for example, will accept and perpetuate any lie to protect a ‘feminist’ man.  Any by a ‘feminist’ man I mean one who will be a staunch supporter of Roe vs. Wade and abortion in general (which they feared Clarence Thomas was not).  And lying in court is especially useful.  As the character Louie DePalma (played by Danny DeVito) illustrated so well in the TV show Taxi.  When Alex Rieger (played by Judd Hirsch) asked Louie if he knew what it meant to lie under oath in a court of law.  Louie replied, “Yeah, it means they gotta believe whatever you say.”

Some liars are just trying to stay out of trouble.  Or jail.  Others, though, are people who lie for another reason.  They’ll fabricate or sustain a lie for a ‘higher’ purpose.  We call these people pragmatists.  These people believe the ends justify the means.  And if the ‘ends’ are important enough, then any means employed are justified.  Liberals are pragmatists.  They have specific ends in mind.  They want legal abortion.  Universal health care.  More government.  Less free markets.  Etc.  And because only approximately 20% of Americans want the same thing, they have to tell a few lies to impose their liberal agenda.

Ronald Reagan was senile.  George W. Bush is stupid.  Sarah Palin is stupid and inexperienced.  Rush Limbaugh is a hate monger.  Glenn Beck is a fear monger.  Members of the Tea Party are a bunch of racists.  Business owners oppress their employees.  Republicans hate the poor.  And hate gays and lesbians.  Hate minorities.  Hate women.  And hate just about anyone liberals have a vested interest in.  Or so the liberal lies go.  Over and over and over again.

The 20% (liberal Democrats) try to rule the 80% (center-right America) with an able assist from the mainstream media, university professors, celebrities and activist judges.

America is a center-right country.  That means liberal Democrats are in the minority.  Which means they can’t impose their agenda at the voting booth.  They can’t legislate their liberal agenda.   So they lie to build a coalition.  To try to pull independents and moderates to their cause.  You know the lies.  Republicans will force women into back alleys for abortions.  Republicans want to defund Social Security.  Republicans will bring back Jim Crowe laws (which, ironically, Democrats put into law).  Republicans want to transfer the tax burden from the rich to the poor.  Etc.

And they have willing accomplices.  Though they are only 20% of the population, they are a very strategically located 20%.  They’re in the mainstream media.  They teach at our universities.  They star in our favorite movies and TV shows.  They perform our favorite music.  And they sit in our courts (what they can’t legislate in Congress, they legislate from the bench).  It’s a small 20%.  But they have a hell of a bully pulpit.  And they use that bully pulpit with extreme prejudice.

And then you have the politicians themselves.  Who will tell any lie.  Smear any character.  For they feel untouchable.  Because they write and enforce the laws.  They ARE the law.  And they think like Louis DePalma.  That the truth doesn’t matter.  Because the people gotta believe whatever they say.  Or should.  Because they are the law.  But we, the other 80%, know they lie.  The DePalma analogy still fits, though.  We see the typical liberal Democrat as a lying, corrupt, despicable scoundrel, lacking any vestiges of integrity who enrich themselves at the expense of the people they serve.  And who can’t see Louis DePalma in that?

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