Tag Archives: medicare

Obama’s Record

Obama begins his latest email with the following large, friendly letters:

Sometimes, I admit, I just have to do what I’m told. Thankfully, this is not one of those times. So, no thank you, Mr. President. I’ll pass.

This email is all about his record. Lots of pretty graphics, a la Julia. Lots of claims. Lots of facts gotten wrong. But what does it matter? Those getting these messages as opposition research, such as myself, will just shake our heads and laugh at the latest antics that are apparently designed to appeal to a large number of us, and those getting these messages as true believers will hang on every word just as they always have. Like I’ve said before, it’s imperative that this election go landslide one way or the other. For it to come down to a nail-biting cliff-hanger will mean great damage to the already fragile ties that bind us Americans together.

But, because I’m a bitter partisan, I’ll just go right ahead and talk about this latest line of lies and exaggerations and the subterfuge the President and his election staff have concocted for us.

Just. Because. I can.

So, yes, 5.4 million new jobs have been created during the President’s term. That’s great. Every new job is a good thing, even if they are only McJobs. Beggars can’t be choosers and I, for one, am happy there are that many new jobs.

Of course, I won’t leave it at that. No, the real problem isn’t that there were than many new jobs created, the problem is that we have no way of knowing if that is a good number or a bad number. Looking at the graph in that pretty picture indicates to me we’ve stagnated. Yes, we got out of the Pit of Despair, but we haven’t really gone anywhere after that. In September, the number of jobs needed to maintain a steady unemployment rate was just over 104,000 per month. 5.4 million jobs total since Obama took office (45 months) comes out to 120,000 jobs per month, or just a smidge over the number necessary to maintain the status quo. And we see that the unemployment number has just now reached the number it was when Obama took office.

5.4 million, for all its goodness, is a number without context. And so we cannot really criticize or praise the President based on it. We can, however, look at the number of people who have dropped out of the job market entirely and who are therefore not listed in the unemployment roles, even though they, of all people, are the most unemployed, and may need employment as badly as any other. We can look at many different numbers. 5.4 million appears to be a good thing for the President. But it really isn’t. There are just too many other numbers pointing down, down down.

Obamacare did nothing to create the generics market in prescription drugs. It did make MediCare even less solvent, and it did it while making it even more unwise for doctors to participate in it. Doctors need to be paid, just like any other group. And if they aren’t going to get paid, they’ll adjust their practices so they start getting paid, or they’ll go out of business. By cutting the already low amounts doctors are paid for accepting Medicare patients, Obamacare has effectively ripped off those who relied on it for their primary medical benefits.

Obamacare also created in out consciousness the idea that 25-year-olds are “children”. Pardon while I laugh.

From Julia, to Lena, to Fluke, Obama apparently has a different sort of soft spot in his heart for women than the previous Democrat President. But both men do apparently make it primarily about sex. Lena and Fluke diminished their gender by proclaiming that women need, and should want, the government “helping” them in their reproductive needs. Where does this become empowering? Since when does trading dad for “Big Daddy”, family for Sugar Daddy Government, become a good thing in anyone’s life? And so this marketing schtick is disingenuous: President Obama doesn’t want a woman’s health choices to be between her and her doctor. He wants the government squarely involved, telling the woman what they can and cannot do with their body, telling doctors what they can and cannot do with a woman’s body. From support for government-provided contraceptives, to Obamacare, to the side he’s chosen in cultural battles, Obama things government needs to be involved in all the intimate aspects of a woman’s life.

Why has he pushed so hard for such deep involvement in lady’s health, and not gone nearly so far for men? Is he sexist or something?

Or something?

This is just false. President Bush set the timeline and the schedule by which all soldiers were out of Iraq. So the schedule carried over into the next administration, but President Obama had nothing, zilch, zip, zero, nada to do with this except not getting in the way.

Government involvement in the financing of higher education has created consistent and repeated examples of unintended consequences. Costs for higher education have risen astronomically faster than the economy has grown, in large part due to the guaranteed payments promised by more and more common and substantial financial aid programs. So he’s doubled Pell Grants funding. And the cost of college has continued to skyrocket and so the greater dollar number simply means its effectively paying for the same amount of more expensive education.

A real solution would involve cutting public college budgets, cutting grants and government-provided financial aid, forcing colleges to compete once again on price, even as they do on academics and “campus life”. Make colleges reflect the realities of the world around them, and they’ll produce graduates better prepared to go into that world and make something of it.

Why is the government providing loans to businesses? Aren’t there banks to do this? We’re broke, we don’t have any more money as a government. Sending good money after bad isn’t a good way to get out of a mess. Yes, we need to encourage the growth of business, but that can be done more effectively by getting the government out of the way than by pouring more money down the hole.

Yet another lie. Obama supported pumping millions upon millions of dollars into failing companies in hopes of preventing them from going into bankruptcy. Which they did anyways. While there have been claims that the money has been repaid, the US taxpayers still own significant percentages of stock of these automakers, and these stock have continued to lose value to such an extent that it seems Chevrolet, at least, is likely to go into bankruptcy again.

Romney supported letting the companies go into bankruptcy without the bailouts first. Obama sent the companies huge amounts of money that did nothing to help the situation. The outcome would have arguably been the same, except we wouldn’t still be losing money on the deal had Romney had his way.

Fuel efficiency only affects new cars. You’d have to shell out $20,000 to save that $8,200. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that while mandated fuel efficiency has gone up, prices of gas have gone up faster.

I’m conflicted regarding required fuel efficiency standards. I don’t like the idea of the government dictating business policy. But I’m happy that vehicle manufacturers have taken these requirements and have started developing to meet them while maintaining entertaining driving characteristics. I’d rather see import restrictions dropped so we can experience the benefit of a wider car market, eliminating the union-supported protectionism that straps our current car market. With care manufacturers fighting on a global scale, we the consumer would only benefit.

Other pretty images tout the President’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which purports to help women fight against wage discrimination, when in reality it removes standard and accepted and tested and working limitations on suing. Lilly Ledbetter was a liar and a cheat who waited until her supervisors were dead and so could not contest her claims against the company she claims she discovered underpaid her when documented evidence indicates she new of the pay disparity long before. The bill ought to have been called the Lilly Ledbetter Lying And Getting Away With It Act.

And then there’s DADT, or the “I was against it before I was for it” moment of this administration. Remember, President Obama was for traditional marriage when it would help him politically (getting more of the more traditional black American vote) and then chose, in a highly publicized moment of internal enlightenment, to support homosexual marriage when it would benefit him politically (shoring up support from the wary homosexual lobby). Craven? Yes.

So yes, the President has a plan to keep the country moving forward for the next four years. A plan of stagnation and economic ignorance. A plan of political theory rather than leadership capability. A plan of “you have to pass it before you’ll know what’s in it” rather than bipartisan progress.

No thanks. I’ll pass. The other guy’s got experience and experience. Two things you lack in spades, Mr. President.

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Breaking: Government Issuing $3300 Checks To Every American

Without money
Without money (Photo credit: Toban Black)

Welfare spending in 2011 topped $1.03 trillion. That’s $1,030,000,000,000.

To put it another way, divide that astronomical amount by the number of  people in the US (Google says it’s 311,591,917 as of this writing), and you get $3,305 per American.

If you think 108 million Americans are very much interested in keeping their handouts coming strong, that’s $9,537 for each and every one of them in 2011.

Just to be clear, this number does NOT include any of the following budget items:

  • Social Security (adds another $725 billion)
  • Medicare (adds another $480 billion)
  • health care for veterans without service-connected disabilities
  • veterans pension programs

From the Daily Caller (via the Daily Caller)

Update: 47% is those who pay no income tax, not those who receive welfare. Welfare recipients were around 108 million in 2011. Edited article to reflect.

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Net Neutrality: Taken For Fools

I, Pandora has had a mixed history on Network Neutrality.

Network what?

Network Neutrality is one response to fears that infrastructure and service companies, such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, spell doom for the freedom of the internet as they inevitably begin controlling access to content, enhancing access to content they own, control, or partner with, and limiting access to content they deem contrary to their best interest.

The majority of Network Neutrality supporters want the FCC to step in and set rules requiring the infrastructure/service companies provide equal access to all content and forbidding them from interfering in any way with the freedom of the internet.

Sounds good, right?

As with any other debate, you have to get to the deeper issues. And this debate is rife with deeper issues.

When I first heard of Network Neutrality I was gung-ho for it. I did not understand the goals at the heart of this push.

“Don’t be hasty, master Hobbit!”

There was a reason liberal Democrat leaders were more for this program than Republicans and conservatives. Liberals dream of more regulation and control and private and free systems. The freer the system the stronger the urge to a liberal to regulate it.

My confusion over Network Neutrality did not continue long. I supported it in March of 2007, and by August of that year I wrote about the inherent conflict between government regulation and innovation.

Government regulation is the enemy of innovation.

In the arguments over Net Neutrality, I feel for the plebes. I don’t want my traffic throttled any more than it already is by the ISP. But is it the government’s responsibility to control this? And if we allow the government to say who can access the internet and at what speed, where is our moral authority when the government wants to say who can’t access the internet?

Perhaps I am more libertarian than I like to think myself to be.

Later I quoted Rep. John Sununu (R – New Hampshire) regarding the slippery slope of wishing for government interference:

If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that it’s pretty presumptuous to predict what the future will be. We should be very, very cautious about imposing regulations based on what we think competitors will do in the future and how we think consumers will respond based on what we think competitors will do.

Gee, that sounds familiar.

Oh, yea. Attorney General Eric Holder, in a 60 minutes spot on healthcare and specifically Medicare and Medicaid’s extremely high levels of fraud made perhaps the most blind statement regarding human nature I’ve ever heard from a lawman:

People didn’t think that something as well-intentioned as Medicare and Medicaid would necessarily attract um… fraudsters.

People not thinking. Not considering the implications of what they want.

Just because it’s well intentioned doesn’t mean it’s right and good and free of the failings that so plague us mortals.

Are Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast completely good in their actions so far regarding the internet? No.

Comcast has been slapped once for purposely throttling connections to certain types of content during peak times load times.

But is the government the solution?

In my article regarding regulation versus innovation I make it clear that while there is a place for regulation, that regulation is best applied to the government itself, limiting it’s ability to tamper with our system of free enterprise.

There is a question I’d ask of anybody regarding this issue. If Thomas Edison were alive today which entity would be the greatest enemy of his innovation: Government or Business?

Sonia Ericson, writing in TechNewsWorld today provides a meaningful and realistic and proven alternative to network neutrality: private control.

ICANN is currently the organization closest to being “in control” of the internet.

It’s a private organization which controls the distribution and changes to the domain names which make the internet navigable.

(A)sking the FCC to “protect” the Internet means inviting government oversight, which injects more politics — not less — into the operation of the Net.

Sonia then talks about someone I’ve met:

Ashwin Navin, cofounder of BitTorrent, also says he doesn’t support government regulation of the Net, even though his name appears on an OIC letter. He says he’d rather see Internet service providers come up with a self-regulatory plan based on a pledge to keep the Net open and the creation of a third body to arbitrate. Indeed, Navin says that his own company’s scuffle with Comcast was ultimately solved without formal rules after a netizen noticed that Comcast was degrading service and brought the matter to the public’s attention.

“The problem is disclosure,” Navin says. “Consumers need to know if the ISP, which is the most invisible layer in the stack, is responsible for an improved or degraded experience for any of the services they use.”

Geek Out Alert!

In my days working for Fry’s Electronics, Ashwin’s step-dad hired us to build and repair his wireless network. He introduced me to Horchata and I watched the Blue Angels practice over his backyard. Ashwin and his brother came by once while I was there and I basked in the presence of those gods of the internet, the business minds behind BitTorrent.

But Ashwin has a point. A good point. A point I may elaborate on further in the future.

Suffice to say that information is the grease for the wheels of the free market and capitalism. And the internet, above all else in the history of markets, has enabled the dissemination of information more efficiently and the finding and gauging of information more easily.

Why do we trust the government to act in our best interest when it comes to such a powerful information force as the internet? The government has no competitors to blow the whistle on it’s misdeeds. The government self-interest lies in a dearth of information.

Trust the government and be taken for a fool. I’ll not be joining you in your foolishness.

Today’s Interesting Stuff: 10/12/2009

Where’re the headlines?

Interesting
Interesting

Reason.org reports on a study published in October 2008 in the Journal of the American Medical Association which busts the balloon of “common knowledge” regarding who clogs emergency rooms and doesn’t pay.

Show of hands: who believes it is the uninsured who use a disproportionately high amount of medical care in US emergency rooms while paying a disproportionately low amount of their bills?

I did. In the face of a lack of public evidence to the contrary and because it sounds plausible. It passed the “stink” test.

Well, it’s deodorant is wearing out and the reek of the rotted corpse is becoming harder and harder to conceal.

(R)esearchers at the University of Michigan … concluded that “available data do not support assumptions that uninsured patients are a primary cause of overcrowding, present with less acute conditions than insured patients, or seek [emergency room] care primarily for convenience.”

(P)atients with public insurance, such as Medicaid and Medicare, are more likely to crowd into emergency rooms for minor complaints than are the uninsured. Only about 17 percent of E.R. visits in the United States in the last year studied were by uninsured patients, about the same as their share of the population.

Additionally:

A 2007 study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine looked at charges and payments for 43,128 emergency department visits between 1996 and 2004. “What surprised us was that uninsured patients actually pay a higher proportion of their emergency department charges than Medicaid does,” reported co-author Reneé Hsia, a specialist in emergency medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. “In fact, 35 percent of charges for uninsured visits were paid in 2004, compared with 33 percent for Medicaid visits.”

Read the whole story here.

In other words, it’s the people already on that paradigm of balanced care, the public option, that are the dead weight on the system. They are leeches. They suck eagerly at the public teat like so many thirty-year-old, basement dwelling, XBox playing nerds living off their own mother’s inability to to force their children to grow up.

In nature the parent birds push their own children out of their nest in a fly or fall choice.

We humans have compassion and a sign of a healthy society is more likely found in their care for their poor rather than the lack of the poor. But to forcibly take from the productive members of society and play the enabler to the myriad sponges found around every willing and leaky faucet is not to help but to kill.

“Where are the headlines?”  a friend asked.

With the wonder of the internet and the example of Big Government and the slaying of the beast ACORN in recent weeks, we must embrace this truth about a fundamental change in our society: we are the 4th estate.

Each and every one of us have the power, through viral spreading of messages through the networks of facebook and youtube and twitter, myspace and orkut, blogs and the wider web, to build a story, however under-reported in the mainstream media, into a tsunami which cannot be ignored by those we’ve sent to do our bidding in DC and statehouses across this nation.

Are you doing your part in this brave new world?

Government Is Big

Bringing home the glory in the Duh! category today, the Washington Post, reporting on Obama’s Executive Order mandating federal agencies monitor and decrease their greenhouse emissions and environmental footprint, noted the government is big.

Administration officials said they could not estimate the federal government’s carbon footprint, since it has never been measured before, but the government ranks as the nation’s largest energy consumer. It occupies nearly 500,000 buildings, operates more than 600,000 vehicles and employs more than 1.8 million civilian workers.

Read the whole story here.

Very big.

500,000 buildings?

Five Hundred-Thousand buildings?

What in heaven’s name have we allowed the government to do in order to meet our needs for an accountable system of government?

I feel like Frankenstein’s creator: “It’s ALIIIIVE!”.

And well I should. After all, as an involved member of this greatest nation on God’s green earth I’m one who votes and talks, exercising the rights guaranteed by a Constitution won with the blood of thousands and defended by the blood of millions. And therefore I’m responsible, maybe not for the problem directly, but for the solution certainly.

I’m not one to get into the whole green thing. The clerk at Bed, Bath & Beyond said she wanted to use the bamboo kitchen utensils I was checking out because she’d heard they were more environmentally friendly. I told her I used them because they work better than regular wood utensils, nothing green about it.

But here’s something real greens and conservatives and concerned citizens across the country can all get behind: cut back on the footprint of the government by cutting back on the government.

In a galaxy far, far away…

…where President Obama lives. He was joined recently by the members of the Nobel Prize Committee.  It’s probably more true to say they’ve been there all along, considering who they like to reward.

But breaking information regarding the nature of that world has come to light courtesy of a small, fuzzy friend”

The Real Winner

Ironic Surrealism has the lowdown on the real winner of the Nobel Peace Prize:

The real Peace Prize winner.
The real Peace Prize winner.

Government-Run Business, Epic Fail

As I’ve said before, several times, government involvement and control of business is a recipe for failure, disaster, loss, pain, hurt, evilness, etc.

In the Wall Street Journal, John Steele Gordon:

In 1913, for instance, thinking it was being overcharged by the steel companies for armor plate for warships, the federal government decided to build its own plant. It estimated that a plant with a 10,000-ton annual capacity could produce armor plate for only 70% of what the steel companies charged.

When the plant was finally finished, however — three years after World War I had ended — it was millions over budget and able to produce armor plate only at twice what the steel companies charged. It produced one batch and then shut down, never to reopen.

But epic failures on the Government’s part aren’t relegated to such ancient history.

Medicare is a prime example of government-run medical care:

Last year the Government Accountability Office estimated that no less than one-third of all Medicare disbursements for durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and hospital beds, were improper or fraudulent. Medicare was so lax in its oversight that it was approving orthopedic shoes for amputees.

And such failures through the history of government are not aberrations, they’re inherent to the system. John Gordon argues there are at least seven reasons government failure is the rule and not the exception when it comes to running things:

  1. Governments are run by politicians, not businessmen
  2. Politicians need headlines
  3. Governments use other people’s money
  4. Government does not tolerate competition
  5. Government enterprises are almost always monopolies
  6. Government is regulated by government

John Gordon ends his argument admitting that Capitalism isn’t necessarily pretty or perfect:

Indeed, to paraphrase Winston Churchill’s famous description of democracy, it’s the worst economic system except for all the others. But the inescapable fact is that only the profit motive and competition keep enterprises lean, efficient, innovative and customer-oriented.

In other words, Government hurts and harms. Damage and destruction are in it’s nature. Why else is government the best at war?

And private enterprise is the best there is at alleviating suffering and maximizing wealth to the most people most effectively and efficiently.

Read John Gordon’s whole article.