A take on the healthcare plan

Economix had a fun tear down of the current plan put forth by the President and the GOP to replace the current ACA.  The author’s politics run counter to Trump’s and the far right, but he does a pretty good job of keeping it real from an economic standpoint.  He also points out that one of the big issues of repealing the ACA is how much of it was based on Republican ideas.  If you’re protesting your own ideas, your alternative options tend be even more limited and extreme.

One of the things he briefly touches on, but doesn’t really address, is that success is sometimes measured by how we failed less than previously.  Specifically I am speaking about the rise of costs and premiums, which continued to rise at rapid rates during the ACA, with many traditionally conservative states seeing the largest increases.  The success is that some of the increases were less than the increases seeing prior to the ACA.  That kind of measuring for success works in the short term, but if you’re measuring against a flood, either do something different or build a boat…
Another thing the author glosses over is the use of subsidies.  Although he points out that the Feds will subsidize the premium for the States, which he uses as an argument for why some states should have adopted the ACA, he ignores their premise for why they might have rejected it in the first place – It doesn’t matter whether the Federal government or the State government subsidizes the premium, it’s still a redistribution of wealth.  If you’re opposing the ACA, or any similar plan, because of your opposition to Taxation, any argument involving subsidies is going to fall flat.

Take the analysis for what it is, a visual breakdown of the shortcomings of the current and proposed plans, as well as a bit of insight as to why things might not be working as they could.  It’s a fun read and he lists his references, so if you disagree with a particular point, you can at least see what he based his argument on.

No Longer Economically Viable

There was this Michael Douglas movie back in the early 90’s- Falling Down, where an out of work defense worker spirals downward after he is let go by his company.  In their words, his skill set and position were no longer economically viable for the company to continue employing him.  In the 20 years since that film was made, in one variation or another, this has become an increasingly heard line.  Computers, AI, automation, efficiency, downsizing, up sizing, globalization – whatever the term, the reality for many is that their job is longer there, and probably won’t be in any human form as this trend continues.  As we continue to innovate and upgrade our technological capabilities, we have been able to downgrade our workforce.  We can do more with less, a lot less, and in many cases, those less no longer have to be human.  What happens when even many of our skilled trades no longer need to be staffed by a human agent?  What happens to our workforce, our population, our economy?  Corporations don’t have to pay robots and networks, and the increase in profits that they realize from the improved efficiency and lower labor costs will eventually be overtaken by the reality that their customer base is no longer employed.  Sure, as science, technology and society progress, there will be new vocations, new disciplines that will employ some people, but that come close to employing our growing population?  I don’t think so.  I think we will need to answer these questions, and sooner rather than later.  At a time when the United States cannot even bring itself to admit that their government and economy are anything but pure democracy and capitalism will now need to answer questions that make such things passe’ in comparison.  I am still young enough that, one way or another, I may live to see the answer to the question as completely relevant…

Accidental Success

I think this current administration may end up one of the more successful ones in history. Not because of great leadership, Trump is a lousy leader. And not because of his deft skills, I think he’s proving rather unqualified, so far.

No, it’s going to be great by accident, as a by product of him being himself. I may be wrong, President Trump has shown a penchant for learning on the job- right before he goes and shoots himself in the foot, but I digress.

One of the reasons I say this is President Trump’s relationship with the media, or lack there of. He has managed to insult and alienate most legitimate news sources, angering them and forcing them on the defensive. The media has enjoyed a fairly easy relationship with most recent presidents. They were courted, treated nicely. Trump has provided a rather rude awakening for them, and this is a very good thing. Surrounded by plenty of web sites willing to print false news to either benefit or disparage the current president and gain those oh so precious page views, the Press is now forced to go on the offensive, rooting out every story and making sure they have the facts right the first time. President Trump is under the magnifying lens of a group that hasn’t had to work very hard in generations – but they still remember how to do their jobs.

Slash and earn!

OK, so maybe the title isn’t right on the money… but I confess to a love of puns.

Trump is on a tear in his second week, looking to continue his momentum to “get things done”.  One of his latest acts is one I endorse.  With great power comes a really big damn mirror that you should look in so your reflection can say, “Is this really necessary?”  Well, a big mirror and maybe some hallucinogenic edibles.  One of the failings of politicians at virtually every level of government is that they feel this horrible urge to equate doing their jobs with the passing of legislation, which invariably leads to unnecessary laws and regulation. Historically, I’m not sure if what President Trump is doing has been effective, but I am curious to find out.

Marching side by side

Protests are a funny thing, most people don’t like them even when they have legitimate points.  Most recently I think of the election, the equal rights and various civil rights protests going on since the 9th of November, but I’m also thinking of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Vietnam protests and, of course, the protests of Dr. King.  Most of these protests were condemned and derided, even as they spoke to fairly large segment of people.  Protests on a national or semi-national scale take time to gain momentum, especially the ones pre social media.  If enough of your population is motivated to come together in mass to protest a social issue, overcoming the apathy and inertia so common to a populace that live relatively comfortably, you should probably take it seriously, even if you don’t agree with it.

Protests are inconvenient, they block are walkways and streets, they make noise in the otherwise idyllic cacophony found in most metropolitan hubs.  They draw attention to negative things, uncomfortable social disparities, and they often include people who we determine should not be there.  You know them, the ones that we think of as already having all those pesky rights and social niceties, those privileges already afforded them.  Why should they be out there protesting?  It’s easier to maintain apathy when you can criticize the inconsequential.

It will be interesting to see how President Trump handles these protests to some of his ideas, indeed, to himself.  He’s notoriously thin skinned and not one to take a perceived slight.  President Obama could probably give him some advice in that area…

When they came for… I remained silent

With the election and subsequent results, America may be finding its voice for the first time in nearly 60 years.  Then, as now, it is not a cohesive voice, with the country speaking as one, but there are elements of cooperation, of banding together in order to be heard.  President Trump’s first full week in office is certainly an eventful one, and it has certainly created…activity.  His supporters are a boisterous lot, but I think they may have been drowned out by the backlash from those who aren’t so enamored of him.  The decision to gag the media right at the beginning of the week did not sit well with many- I know it certainly made me nervous.  Then there was the silliness with alternative facts.  I have to give Conway credit, I could in no way have delivered that line without it positively dripping with irony.  It remains to be seen what people will do with this voice, this activity that has people rising from their decades of apathy.

I have burgeoning fear, however, that perhaps this country of ours is a bit too large to remain United.  Economics, education, religion – our views differ on many things, but generally congeal along liberal and conservative lines, with something in the middle being the practical, logical, choice.  I do not believe ourselves capable of much logic, any more.  Perhaps Europe and Asia have it right, break countries down into smaller regions.  Do people feel like they have a voice when that is done?  Can a country be a United States when they are the size of Luxembourg?  I hear Cuba has an opening for an enterprising individual…

No clothes and nobody to tell him

Trump orders a media blackout at the EPA

It seems his approach to generating new jobs/business will be to essentially remove regulation as a barrier.  I won’t argue that there are many areas where we are over regulated.  Perhaps I’m being self-serving, but I’d argue that the shipping industry is one such area.  With that in mind, beware the brain surgeon who uses a butcher knife.

One thing I am not happy about is the media blackout.  This has me very concerned.  Trump is moving to reduce lines of communication and potential avenues of criticism, his thin skin and penchant for a heavy hand is showing.

 

Manic Monday

Well,

It’s the start of his first full week in office.  Kind of interesting.  Pulls out the TPP, and wants to renegotiate NAFTA, too.  I support that move.  Then does the usual Republican thing with abortions, which I wish would just stop.  Enough political back and forth between the Right & Left on that.  His plan to defund Planned Parenthood is a bad one.  Not because of the actual funding issue, but the reasoning behind it.  It’s not consistent or honest.  Myself, I would prefer it if PP were completely privately funded but able to bill the .Gov just like other hospitals.  It removes the political sword from their necks and gives them the autonomy they need, and should have, to operate with their best interests in mind.  I say this as somebody who is pro choice but very much against abortion.

I’m none too happy on his picks for education or the FCC.  His education pick has no damn clue about public education, though I am for charter schools.  His pick to head the FCC has been in bed with cable and telecom so much that I’m pretty sure it’s their logos on his underwear.  Tom Wheeler was a very welcome surprise but I don’t think we’ll find the same advocate in Ajit Pai.

Snoop on them as they would snoop on us

http://lastbestnews.com/site/2017/01/prairie-lights-putting-the-public-in-public-records/

Ed writes on something that should be a non-issue, but very clearly is not.  Here in the Big City, the local rag has done battle many times with the Powers That Be to gain access to records that are open to us by the mandate of the People.  Time and time again they have gone to court, time and time again the P.T.B. lose, yet they continue to gird their loins for battle.  Windmills, it seems, are not as puissant as they used to be.

The government surrounds itself in secrecy, sequestering itself behind closed doors and ramparts of red tape and ingenue, as if the People should believe their protestations of innocence and benevolent action.  It’s not conspiracy if we’re doing it for the good of the people!  The funny thing about the business of negotiation, especially as it pertains to government, is that little secrecy is needed.  Our aims are clear, 1)To benefit ourselves first  2)To grow the strength and wealth of our nation 3)To advance our beliefs in the rest of world.  The particulars might not be shared at the first meeting, but the gist will always be known.  When we deal in secret, as we did with the TPP, we can no longer assure that our government is advancing the aims of her People.

You might be saying to yourself, if you’re inclined to speak aloud while reading a blog, “But TSW, the veritable Danny DeVito of online writers, what about terrorism and military secrets and FUD, oh my?!”  Well, what about it?  Do the world governments not know that we spy on them?  Do terrorists and various sundry despots not know that we are coming for them?  Will McDonalds ever reveal what the Hell is in their McRib?  Only the last can be answered in the negative.  We can have operational security and accountability without giving our hand away during play, but at the end of the governmental poker game, the People must demand to see the hands and count the cards, and the number had best be 54. We play with the Jokers, you see…

Socially Contracted Resistance

I was having a bit of lunch with Dave and I brought up a conundrum I was working on.  The couple in Oregon that possessed a bakery that refused to bake a cake for a gay couple.  I found the ruling against them reprehensible as I firmly believe that, with a few exceptions, the state should not compel the services of a private individual.  Despite it being a significant cultural and semi-religious event, the marriage of any two people is hardly a necessary action requiring legal or medical intervention.  And yet, I find almost all forms of racism or sexism to be incredibly stupid- I simply cannot attach a personal or emotional response to the idea of prejudice being attached to a race or sex purely on the grounds that they are that particular race or sex.  If you’re a hoodlum, whether your black, white, or any other color is irrelevant next to the actions that you, or your group, are taking right now.  Your color or sex did not, in and of itself, make you take actions that would have you designated as a deviant, criminal, or person of low or criminal character.

Yes, I understand that religious training, personal upbringing, sociological conditioning can cause people to associate certain aspects of race or gender with attributes that are considered negative.  However, if you step back from that, the reasoning and evidence do not hold up.  Women can, within physiological norms, be just as capable as men in any traditional role.  Jews are not part of a cabal controlling the world, at least no more so than any other political or religious group.  Blacks are not inherently inferior to whites.  So, to me, the idea of refusing to service an individual or group purely on the basis of their skin color, sexual orientation, etc, makes no sense to me.  From a self-interest perspective, racism and sexism don’t make a lot of economic sense unless you’re attempting to perpetuate a form of control over a population for the purposes of actual gain.  In today’s day and age, I don’t believe that is especially viable in the United States.

And therein lies the conundrum – if I support the right of people to choose, to not be coerced into service, does that weaken my firmly held position on all people being inherently equal.  I fear that if we were able to suddenly repeal all legislation requiring non-discrimination, to remove the yoke of the State, that we would begin to separate ourselves along racial and religious lines again.  I do not believe I would have thought that two to four years ago, but after the election of Presidents Obama and Trump, I have seen a much deeper sexism and racism than I thought existed here.  This conflicts with my deeply held belief that we have an implicit obligation to work to better ourselves and our fellow human beings as much as possible.  As Dave reminded me, there is a difference between legal and moral, and I’m not unaware of the difference.  Right now the State has gathered together increasing power over its citizens to the degree that even the thought of compelling service in support of racial and sexual equality is not enough for me to want to allow them to do it.  Perhaps it is time that we take an apparent step back in order to move ourselves very painfully forward.  And yet, beware that yo do not get what you have asked for…