Category: Economics

November 30, 2016

Having health care is not a milestone

by admin — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Wising up — Tags: Comments Off on Having health care is not a milestone

I signed up for Apple Care, our state’s health care exchange. Until  now I’ve paid for my health care out of pocket and that has worked wonderfully well for me. I’d like to continue to do that and have a high deductible policy that covered me in case of disaster but that’s not available to us here.

So, let me tell you what shopping for health care was like.

I have five plans available to me.   Five.  That’s it, just five.  Only two of those plans cover the clinic where my primary care giver practices. None of the plans cover my local hospital.

Community Health Plan of Washington rates two stars on Yelp.  Ugh.  They also don’t have my provider’s clinic in their network.  Oh joy.

Molina Health Care of Washington has complaints filed with BBB that reflect the same lack of customer service and support I’m seeing in reviews on Yelp.  They say they cover my provider but give the number of comments I see that say they said this or that but it wasn’t true am I expected to believe them?  Yeah, not happening.

Amerigroup Washington Inc has BBB complaints and they aren’t pretty . . . and they don’t cover my provider clinic, and this site (health care review) has ugly reviews as well.

Coordinated Care of Washington has mixed (mostly bad) reviews, seven BBB complaints and doesn’t cover my provider.

United Health Care has horrible reviews though they say they have my provider clinic in their network.

By the time I’ve done all my research I am exhausted and depressed and my coverage hasn’t started yet.

So my question to you is . . . mandating everyone have health care isn’t a milestone of progress. It has resulted in a quagmire of incompetence and inefficiency. Next time you have to do anything with your health care coverage and run into a coverage or payment problem exacerbated by the Affordable Care Act and you reach the point where you realize it’s neither affordable nor does it provide care, please remember the government can do NOTHING better than the free market.

 

August 20, 2015

Daily Rant

by admin — Categories: Economics, Feeding the Soul, Social networking, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on Daily Rant

Apparently Bernie Sanders is advocating a free bachelor’s degree for all and someone on Laissez Faire Capitalism posted a mocking cartoon.  I took exception to Bernie Sanders’ socialistic thinking and posted this:

This is so interesting. It speaks to a complete failure to understand economics and the mechanics of supply and demand. The question regarding training for jobs is also apparently not being properly considered. Fascinating. I think this is actually willful stupidity, not lack of intelligence. If people want jobs they need to seek training that would make them suitable for jobs. Free education is worth exactly what the student pays for it . . . nothing. If they don’t work for it, struggle for it, PAY for it, they don’t value it. Proof of this is the number of unemployed with liberal arts degrees. Come on Barnie. Quit being deliberately stupid.

René Robichaud is apparently feeling abused and used and posted this.

I’ll tell you what really worths nothing. Poverty. Working your ass off for years saving enough money to go to university and trying to live in this economy. Taking loans coming out of university with no work experience, having a hard time securing a liveable wage, having to pay more than 50K+ in debts trying to survive on a salary paying debts for a good portion of your life with an interest rate going to a crooked system of banks based on world debt and indentured servitude to the upper class. Not everyone is in the same boat. Education should be equal for ALL CLASSES, it could be paid through a common tax for everyone to have the same opportunity to get an education based on what they want to do (poor and rich alike). The struggle of the people to meet ends is not viewed as an opportunity for economic development anymore, but as an act of self-preservation and slavery to a system of debt.

Okay, couldn’t pass that up . . . you know me, right?

Rene, you are SO wrong. If you make bad choices and end up in debt, that is YOUR problem. It should not be MY problem or anyone else who works hard and makes GOOD choices. The concept of indentured servitude to the upper class is a socialistic ideology that is warped at the core. It’s the “I am a victim” meme of the weak, stupid and lazy. If you have trouble living on the wage you make make the changes that FIX IT instead of blaming someone else for your inadequacies. You are NOT entitled to the product of the labor of others. Education CANNOT be equal for all classes because that is not how things work in real life. The product of a couple of low income and low intellect cannot achieve what the child of hard working intelligent people will. To dream they can is self-deceiving and not helpful. If you WANT something, stop whining and start working to make it happen. Be smarter, be stronger, work longer and harder and make it happen. Stop expecting others to make you something you desire but aren’t willing to work for.

December 18, 2012

Rephrasing the argument

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on Rephrasing the argument

This morning the Tea Party’s Facebook feed has another “bad Obama” posting.  Various conservative groups run this sort of thing almost weekly.  The latest is a repeat of how “bad” Obama is because he vacations in Hawaii and he’s off to do it again soon and it costs $4 million and “ew, isn’t that horrible”.  It reads like something you’d find in a sensationalist rag right below the newest bat boy sighting; rhetoric that attracts lemmings and does nothing to change minds.

I listened to a CATO podcast last week entitled “Be Charitable to Your Opponents’ Views” and it changed the way I argue about things like this. It’s my hope that all who listen get as much out of it as I did.  It made such a huge impact in the way I think I’ve left it in my RSS feed to listen to again.

This latest Tea Party posting is an excellent example of how we (fiscal conservatives) are phrasing arguments without insight or intelligence.  Instead of arguing on an emotional level, we need to make reasoned arguments on why we see the philosophy behind the behavior is misguided.  We need to make the opportunity (and argument) to change minds instead of just collecting nods from those who already agree with how we feel.

Here’s the cut to the chase piece on this “Obama wasting tax payer money on vacation” rhetoric.  Before we can hope to make a reasoned argument about it, we must understand how Obama thinks.  He believes in wealth redistribution and Keynesian principals of stimulus. When we start with that premise, we understand he thinks he’s doing a good thing, stimulating the economy.  By shortsightedly couching the argument as “Bad Obama”, we’re spouting unconvincing conservative rhetoric.  People who don’t think the way we do immediately stop listening and we’ve lost the argument.

So, the conversation needs to be rephrased. We need to make the reasoned Hayek versus Keynes argument.  We need to educate.  We need to explain why spending of tax payer money on vacations (or most everything else the government does) is based on proven flawed reasoning and the result is a reduced economy.

We’re failing because we’re voicing the message ineffectively. We need to argue the principles behind the philosophy and why they’re wrong.  We need to shy away from the bat boy sighting rhetoric.

July 31, 2012

Milton Friedman’s 100th

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on Milton Friedman’s 100th

Today is Milton Friedman’s 100th birthday.  There are few people for whom I have as much respect, nor any I laud more frequently.  In celebration of his birthday, I’d like to extend this idea.

What if, in the process of writing new legislation, a short treatise was required that referenced all the prior related legislation, what it was intended to do, where it failed or wasn’t being enforced and how the new legislation was going to fix the problem the previous legislation was unable to.

If we forced our legislators to look at the big picture, maybe we could get some to grasp reality and stop pushing out new legislation like so many deformed babies.  Over-regulation is killing our business, our country and our freedom.

Milton Friedman said “The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.”  Wise words from a very wise man.

June 16, 2012

Favorite news sources

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Energy, Feeding the Soul, Government, Politics, Social networking, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on Favorite news sources

In my RSS feed (I use Bloglines as I’m still boycotting Google) I have over 30 hard and soft news sources.  I can get away with having this many because most don’t produce a lot of data daily.  For example, one of my favorite singers, Diana Krall, adds concert dates every couple months.  I subscribe so I know when she’ll be coming to our area.  The rest of the time the feed is empty.  Others, like Breitbart News, Daily Caller and Reason TV and Magazine, put out dozens of news items a day but I don’t read them all.  Many news feeds are all reporting on the same thing.  Much of it I can mark as read and move on.  Many of the sites are aggregate news sources (pulling news from other sites) which makes them a feed inside a feed.  I keep them on the list so I can get the newest news and follow the progress as the story develops or changes.  I get more of the big picture and I prune away any feed that can’t consistently report accurately.  I don’t have time for someone’s speculation.  That’s not news, that’s bias.

Here are some of my longest read feeds:

  • Cato Daily Podcast (my most favored feed)
  • Wall Street Journal (podcast, twice daily tech news briefing)
  • Cato (not prolific but interesting and educational informed commentary)
  • Libertarian News (rss for their US news aggregate only – see websites for other available feeds)
  • Breitbart News (a real hit and miss as much of this is a repeat if other news sources.  They chop one short video interview into multiple sound bite “stories” which is pretty irritating and some of their reporters can’t spell or use a dictionary (anyways not a word, and sherriff has only one r).  Despite that, Breitbart still rates highly with me as a news source.  They are also a member of the New Media.)
  • Reason TV/Magazine (libertarian commentary, some of it very good, some of it imminently skip-worthy)
  • Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom (not prolific but thought provoking)
  • Downsizing the Federal Government (reporting on unconstitutional action/legislation, waste, fraud.  The feed is not prolific but usually interesting)
  • Daily Caller (fairly comprehensive, includes in-house reporting)
  • The Washington Independent (Fed Gov’t news, mostly in-house reporting)
  • Spokesman (reporting on Washington State legislators and legislation)
  • Supreme Court of Washington (WA State SC)
  • Public Sector (highlighting Public Sector Union waste/fraud/mismanagement and general self-serving duplicity/stupidity)
  • Freedom Foundation (small government commentary/news)
  • Liberty Live
  • Ron Paul 2012 (the philosophy, the rallies, the videos, the supporters)
  • CNS News (about a dozen items a day, mostly a repeat of other sources.  I’ll eventually prune this feed as it’s mostly a skip/mark as read.)

I also have a couple websites I visit daily.  After the top two, the rest on the list are for a slow news day or if I need a different slant on something breaking.

  • Townhall Cartoons (good political cartoons from a conservative viewpoint – weekdays only)
  • Drudge Report (news aggregate. Drudge was the seed for the New Media with the breaking of the Lewinsky story.  Epic.)
  • Libertarian News (a dot org with comprehensive news – includes categories for Sci/Tech (good comprehensive coverage), national news (CNN, Fox, BBC, Reuters, AP and Al Jazeera) world news (same list of sources) and tabloid headlines (the total superficial including Yahoo and The Daily Mail from Britain)
  • Newsmax Breaking News (conservative news, usually fairly stodgy)
  • Olympia Watch (Washington State political)
  • National Journal

Add to that a couple inspirational sites like Daily Good and Gimundo, a couple DIY sites (Make and One Project Closer) and one health specific (Celiac.com) and I’ve got a pretty well rounded source for news every day.  I just have to stay aware that much of what I read is someone’s personal, and occasionally not very learned, opinion.  And I have the Daily Mail tabloid news when I need to check on fashion and the slow motion train wreck of celeb’s lives on slow news days.  How could I possibly get through life without knowing which celebs have saggy knees!  <rolls eyes>  For the real girly, I check out shoepr0n on Tumbler where the only topic is fashion footwear.  With all that, who needs TV news?

Once you start an RSS feed you’ll find you do a lot of feed pruning until you’ve developed a comfortable volume with an array of content.  As you use the feed, you’ll get a feel for what is slanted by the author or site’s inclination to disaster-monger and you will find yourself weeding out the worst until you have a fairly reliable source for ALL the news.  Your perception will change when you are no longer restricted to just what the main stream media feels you should know.

April 1, 2012

Still riding the “ain’t no such thing” global warming horse

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Energy, Feeding the Soul, Government, Politics, Wising upComments Off on Still riding the “ain’t no such thing” global warming horse

The rain can stop any time now. If it doesn’t, I’m considering ark building as a potential hobby.

There’s lots going on in the global warming debate. Much of the steam has seeped out of the global warmists’ engine. Poland, among other EU eastern border countries, has told the rest of the EU to eff off, they’re going to continue to use their plentiful coal to produce the energy needs of their country. While that was a big thing when they started spouting it at the initial upswell of the global warming debate, now the figurative flipping-off is causing nary a ripple.

India and China are building thorium nuclear power plants patterned on research the US did middle of the last century. As a country, our failure to embrace our own research and our inability to be nimble in retrenching to a better/safer/cheaper nuclear technology is leaving egg on our faces. It’ll be interesting to see what Japan does over the next 10 years.

The EPA has backed off on its suit against a gas drilling company in Texas. It seems the methane in the drinking water was a pre-existing condition. Who knew?!  <rolls eyes>  I’m hoping the ruling against the EPA on the Sackett case in the Supreme Court was a bit of a wake-up call but I’m wasting zero time and energy holding my breath in anticipation. Governmental arrogance is a well established trait unlikely to change.

I read a really good article on Climate Realists this morning about past warm periods/droughts (decimated the Roman population) and wet periods (people literally had limbs and digits falling off) and plague (fleas brought in by the rat migration due to drought). I need a time machine so I can send those who think we actually have any influence on climate back in time. I’ll even let them pick ice age or drought! See how generous I am?! And no, I’m not bringing them back. I envision this as a one-way trip. I see it as their civic duty to reduce the current population’s influence on the climate by engaging in a little population reduction, a nice little bit of forced altruism.

So, today we’re testing to see if you’re up on the facts on CO2. Yeah, that’s me, poking people through the bars of their cage.  <evil laugh> I have to get my ever-so-cheap thrills where I can. It is, after all, still raining.

So, pick one.

  • I think ALL of the CO2 in the Earth’s Atmosphere is from man.
  • I’m not sure how much “Man Made” CO2 is in the Earth’s Atmosphere.
  • There is .04% CO2 in the Earth’s Atmosphere and of that “Man” has added an extra 4% (1 part in 62,500)

If you pick the first, the time machine line forms to my left. If you picked the second, I’m a little surprised you stayed awake long enough to read all the way through this post. You can go back to sleep now.

March 17, 2012

Parasites

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Politics, Social networking, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on Parasites

Have you had days when you didn’t feel particularly nice?  I think we all do. Now that I’m older, I generally try to rein in the chaos-generating waves, where in the past I would have let my pencil fly.  So, here is the kinder, gentler take on Sandra Fluke and the argument she’s put forth.

Has the Sandra Fluke thing bothered you at all?  I have to say, it’s bothered me on a number of levels.  I’m wondering if her last name isn’t a signifier.  You do know what a fluke is, don’t you?  It’s a parasite which leeches your nutrients and weakens you.  It’s a bit ironic that Ms. Fluke is studying to be a lawyer, a totally different kind of parasite AND shares the name of a class of parasites.

So why do I have trouble with Ms. Fluke’s stand on the taxpayers paying for her birth control?

  • The entitlement mentality (“you owe it to me”).  This is just wrong, but it is what we get when we raise a generation of citizens with an absence of ethical self-actualization.  This is the “easy path” generation.  They are not an accurate reflection of the ideology that built this great nation.  The French, they are among us.
  • Since when did women’s “rights” include me paying your bill?  A woman has the right to equal opportunity, not the right to be turned into a dependent of the taxpayer.
  • It embraces the socialistic ideology of equality without effort.  While she is fully capable of finding an extra $9 a month to pay for her own birth control, she feels she should be entitled to someone else picking up the tab.  It does not speak well of her that she’s unable to budget her resources sufficiently to handle this herself.  Sadly, she’s of an age where she will probably never gain that degree of ethical self-actualization.  A parasite is born.

Maybe the movement chose the wrong person as front person.  To choose a lawyer in training who shares a name with a common parasite may have just been a wrong move.

Here’s a psychotherapist’s take on the whole affair. If you read nothing else about the Sandra Fluke affair, please make the time to read this.

February 1, 2012

Pay no attention . . .

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Politics, Wising upComments Off on Pay no attention . . .

. . . to the man behind the curtain.

I’m pretty sure everyone’s seen the ad with the cartoon characters representing the tapped out Federal Reserve with Ben Bernanke and Obama hiding in the vault with all the government IOUs.  You get a real feel for the slight-of-hand going on in our government.  I don’t know about you, but I find it really distressing.

Yesterday I watched a video about a company Romney managed that was deeply engaged in Medicare fraud to the tune of massive amounts of money.  Politifact judged the video to be mostly true.  Romney managed to divest himself and Bain Capital of the company at exactly the moment the Feds descended on the company with warrants.  Romney was either a clueless manager and the timing if the divestment was fortuitous or he is one clever bastard willing to countenance fraud in search of a better bottom line for Bain Capital.  Let’s call this a smoking gun and move on.

Then, this morning the CATO Daily Podcast was on Romneycare.  The podcast is mostly about the fact checking of Santorum’s claim that Romneycare increased free-ridership five-fold, but that’s not the most illuminating piece of the podcast.  Right at the end of the podcast is the real jewel.

Listen all the way to the end and then tell me what you think.  Clever bastard or ignorant dupe?  After you finish the podcast, you should have a clue what I think.

January 12, 2012

On personal economics

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Feeding the Soul, Wising upComments Off on On personal economics

In my RSS feed this morning was an article by A. Lawrence Chickering about annual get-togethers he had with William F. Buckley Jr. and Milton Friedman on the second weekend in January.  I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for their conversations.  I have no doubt they would have been educational and thought provoking.

One particular piece struck my “OH!” nerve.

Milton never stopped teaching. One morning we went to the Alta Lodge ski shop to buy various trifles. I finished my shopping and impatiently waited for him at the door of the shop. “Got everything you need?” I asked. “Nope,” he responded. “But I’ve got everything I’m willing to pay for.”

In everything I’ve watched and read about Milton Friedman, that is quintessentially Milton.  He was an enormous advocate of the free market system and free will, and that singular comment resounded strongly within me.

There are things I really want, thing I could make an argument for needing, but they aren’t things I’m willing to pay for.  Maybe I should say, they are things I’m not willing to pay that much for.

I saw a new tablet by Lenovo that’s due out in 2013.  It’s something I am sure to covet for a long time to come, but it’s not something I’ll be willing to pay full retail for.  I may get the second edition of the tablet (Windows 8) after the tablet’s been in production for a while and the price has dropped or I can find it at an affordable (to me) price when it shows up on Amazon used.  Maybe.

I like the freedom to spend my money as I choose and how I choose.  I like buying things discounted and second hand.  I don’t have a burning desire to buy things brand new as soon as they hit the market.  If it’s something I need/want, I can wait.

November 18, 2011

Hearings on tax reform

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on Hearings on tax reform

I watched the Senate’s hearing on “Could Tax Reform Boost Business Investment and Job Creation?“.  It’s fascinating. I’ve noted the important parts below. Listen to any bits that interest you.

There are four tax reform presenters (Entin, Stone, Mastromarco and Hanlon) and about a dozen lawmakers listening and answering questions. Each presenter has five minutes for opening remarks and each lawmaker has five minutes to comment and question.

Brady introduces the presenters with their education, significant job history and positions.

Entin talks about how taxation effects the economy negatively. He’s anti-Keynes and for tax reform and says taxes negatively impacts capital investment and ultimately hurts the workers. He’s for diddling with the current tax code which implies leaving the ability to engage in favoritism in place is a good thing. He’s well educated and smart but still sees the government as the “smart” manager of taxation and spending. Of the “retain the current tax code” crowd, he’s the most educated and aware of how theory and the real world don’t match.  He sees and understands the inequities in the current tax code.

Stone plays the part of the village idiot, unable to connect theory to history/proven fact. He’s straight Keynesian, advocating for increased taxes and thinks government taxation and government spending is the only answer to every question. He is unable to see or admit what he’s advocating has never worked and he does a lot of fumbling to try and avoid admitting or facing it. When the Senators start commenting and questioning him, one of them (Mulvaney @ 65:08) excoriates him for advocating policies that have been proven not to work. While Entin may see the tax code as fixable, which is bad, this guy is much much worst. He is advocating bigger government with the government distributing the taxes to influence/control (“fix”) the economy. This guy is bad news. It’s a good thing he’s not very articulate. Only people who already believe his warped logic are going to listen to him.

Mastromarco advocates for the Fair Tax. His intro speech starts at 42:24. While it’s well worth listening to he wastes a lot of time in the beginning blasting other plans instead of highlighting the excellence of the Fair Tax plan. That bit made me wince. Brady questions him at 54:25. One of the senators asks him about the likelyhood of tax avoidance (Campbell @ 86:21). Stone comments on the Fair Tax at 59:18. I don’t think Stone realizes how strongly he’s advocating for the benefits of the Fair Tax. He talks about how it would encourage hard work and investment like that is a bad thing, calling those activities a “natural disaster.” I did say he was the village idiot, didn’t I? The guy is as dumb as a rock. Mastromarco rebuts Stone’s Fair Tax comments at 63:39.

Hanlon advocates reform of the current tax system. He’s for greater infrastructure spending, increased taxation, taxing the rich and raising corporate tax rates. Hanlon’s the village idiot’s slightly more articulate understudy.  He may have been included to give Stone’s position support.  I don’t see that as one of the outcomes of the hearing.  I think he just widened the target area for some of the lawmakers’ shots.

61:18 – Casey talks about the inequity between types of companies in the current tax code to which Hanlon responds. More past, present and future ineffective tax code tweaking mentioned here.

65:08 – Mulvaney has some excellent comments about the current tax code and the comparison of real world versus theory. His section is a must watch. Stone props up his position as the village idiot in non-answering Mulvaney’s questions. “I think, I think, I think, I think . . . ” Who decided this was the guy to support the Keynesian model? Personally, I think they erred in their choice of an advocate.

After a bit of self-back-patting blah-blah-blah, Coats talks about good stuff starting at about 71:18. Start listening closely when he talks about consensus and the corporate tax rate/code and how uneven/unfair/unequal it is. That bit’s really good and Entin’s response to him is excellent and highlights how confusing and unequal the current tax code is.

77:20 – Duffy talks about the global marketplace and how our current tax code impacts our global competitiveness. He nails Stone and Hanlon by questioning them about taxes in other countries. Stone again reprises his village idiot role. The guy just doesn’t learn. In his responses, Hanlon again holds up his village idiot’s understudy role.  Duffy’s articulate and informed and Stone and Hanlon look even worse in comparison.

90:00 – Duffy asks Hanlon about a carbon tax, global warming and taxation. Well worth watching Duffy’s five minutes just for Hanlon’s squirming to avoid answering Duffy’s questions. Stone’s fumblings are equally amusing. Duffy’s responses to Stone are spot on. Entin’s comments are very interesting as are his revelations about burden tables. This last bit is in response to Stone’s comments about the “right size” of government and are some of the most enlightening of the hearing. Entin’s comments at the end support the Fair Tax plan without naming names.

95:43 – Brady’s closing remarks are good.  I got the impression most of the lawmakers are truly fed up with the current tax system, lobbyists and corruption.  If they can hold that light up and stay strong, we may actually make progress from their efforts.

Watch or don’t watch. I thought it was good.  If we’re informed we can fight for smaller government and a more effective and prosperity generating tax code.  I know enough to tell my legislators which way I expect them to jump.

Conversely, if we aren’t informed, we are going to believe legislators and lobbyists without it tipping our bullshit meter.

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