Paying For Social inSecurity

I’ve been trying to explain this to people for many many years now:

A Radical Re-Imagining Of The Tax System

Russell Roberts, Forbes, 1-23-09

The payroll tax [Social inSecurity & Medicare] a regressive tax that falls harshly on the poor. And it is deceptive, an unacceptable characteristic of a tax in a democracy.

Half of the payroll tax appears to be paid by employers. In fact, studies of the payroll tax show that the employer merely lowers worker compensation in response to the tax burden. So workers pay virtually the entire 15%.

Worse, the payroll tax gives the illusion that taxes are “contributions” toward future social security payments. In fact, the payroll tax is used to finance current recipients of Social Security and Medicare along with other government spending such as the war on Iraq and welfare for wealth farmers.

This fools workers into thinking such programs are cheaper than they actually are. This artificially encourages the demand for such programs.

Does this clarify it a bit? Sometimes all it takes is a different person’s words to understandingly explain.

Rationing Health Care

I finally ran across an article advocating single-payer that openly admitted that there would be rationing. They’re absolutely right. They’re right as well when they say rationing takes place today. The important question is who decides what health care is worth what. If it’s the patient or those around them, that’s fine. The problem is when it’s a disinterested 3rd party that makes an irrevocable choice.

When Canadians need health care (in a timely fashion – instead of waiting for months) They come south of the border and can get it here. Tests and procedures that they may have to wait 6 months for there can be gotten in two days here.

Where will we go if we can’t get the health care we need and want in the US? Go south of OUR border into Mexico?

There’s another issue it brings up as well, and that is the “cost” of a human life. I would like to see that codified in any health care legislation … and in any OTHER legislation that’s supposed to be for our own good. Health standards, product safety, OSHA, and the like. It’s not uncommon to see “safety” legislation costing $50 million to save one life. If it’s your own life or that of someone you know, it’s hard to say that there is any price too high to pay for even just a few more months of life. When we’re all paying that price for someone else that we don’t know, that’s a different matter.

“Even if it’s just one life” is the battle cry, but that’s a totally untenable standard. Even when it gets to the courts, there is a saying: Hard cases make bad law. When you’re looking at the person face to face (or their grieving widow or parents or whoever) and have to say that it just would have cost too much to make that change that would have prevented that 1 in 100 thousand cases from happening to your loved one, it’s had to tell them – so sorry, but life has no guarantees.

Given unlimited funds, there aren’t many patients whose life can’t be extended by a few days, months, or even years. Where do we draw the line and, more importantly, who draws it? Something to think about.

The newest Climate Change bill

It appears the world is finally waking up. Will it be in time to save us a lot of money and grief? That I’m not so sure about. The House passed their bill today, adding a 300 page amendment at the last minute.

The Climate Change Climate Change The number of skeptics is swelling everywhere. By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL

The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. — 13 times the number who authored the U.N.’s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world’s first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak “frankly” of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming “the worst scientific scandal in history.” Norway’s Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the “new religion.” A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton’s Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists’ open letter.)The collapse of the “consensus” has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth’s temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

I tried, I really tried to read the whole stinking bill and the amendment. In the less than 12 hours between its introduction and passage it would be absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to read, rearrange and understand the bill as finally voted on unless you are a photographic memory speed reader … and even then I don’t think you could have time to sort it all out and understand it.

This is a sad day for America and for the world in general. The religion of anthropogenic catastrophic gobal warming (excuse me, climate change or whatever term of the day is being used) has little more basis in fact than any other mythology of the present or past.

Free Pot (From the Worst of the Federal Laws)

On Liberty, 1869, by John Stuart Mill

“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”

Link to the full text: On Liberty

I’d almost forgotten about this little gem of an essay until Barney Frank used it while introducing his annual reducing/eliminating penalties for medical marijuana bill(s). My only complaint is that it doesn’t go far enough, not by a long shot. We’ve got to start somewhere though and I’ll take a win however we get it.

The War on Drugs, like every other attempt at prohibition, will never succeed at anything but making money for the crooks and cops and politicians. Oh – and those who profit from building and running jails and the attorneys and staff who have a great practice in representing drug dealers, and the hit men for the cartels (since they can hardly work differences out in a court), and the gangs and …. I could probably write pages listing those who gain from the war on drugs in one way or another, and none of them are people and practices we want to encourage.

Alcohol Prohibition brought us Al Capone and the mafia along with almost a century of resultant alcohol abuse patterns. At least then, it was brought on it was all at once, and there was no hiding from the fact that it was the attempt at Prohibition itself that was causing the surrounding crime and corruption. The slow tightening the screws of the attempts at drug prohibition have made it much easier to blame everything but the law itself for the corruption and violence that always goes along with it. If nothing else, think about this …. When was the last time you heard of liquor store owners shooting it out over customers or suppliers?

Health Care? How About Some Truth Care?

For Single-Payer Healthcare – Yahoo! News:According to a study by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, switching to a single-payer system would: 1. Create 2,613,495 million new permanent good-paying jobs (slightly exceeding the number of jobs lost in 2008) — and jobs that are not easily shipped overseas 2. Boost the economy with $317 billion in increased business and public revenues 3. Add $100 billion in employee compensation 4. Infuse public budgets with $44 billion in new tax revenues

This just totally confuses me… how something like this gets put out and how people actually fall for it. This is supposed to save money, but create 2.5 million jobs? And what about all the people that worked for the insurance companies. How many of those jobs would be lost?

Boost the economy by $317 dollars? Only if it takes over $317 billion dollars out of the private economy (after all, it’ll take a few … ok, probably a lot, of bureaucrats to run such a program with their expenses and the support staff to cover them, and the regulators to make sure it’s all done according to the rules and then the political staff to decide what the current year’s rules will be, and all the lobbyists trying to get their piece of the pie to be larger, and …Wink

Add $100 billion in employee compensation? Once again, paid for by whom? The evil nasty greedy corporations, CEO, business people, and other assorted demons? If their costs go up the same (or worse) in a different part of the business, there wouldn’t be any money left to pay anyone more. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Corporate executives have a legal fiduciary duty to maximize the value of the company and its bottom line. Smaller businesses try to live on what’s left over after all the costs are paid out. A lot of them are already on the brink. Yep, those employees will make more … right up until they get fired or the business fails.

Infuse public budgets with <plug your own number in>. New tax revenues? That means someone, or a lot of someones, will be paying more in taxes. Where does that money get cut? Let’s say it’s some rich jerk. He’s not making as much so he decides not to build that new house after all. The construction workers don’t get work, the suppliers don’t sell the construction material, there’s no new house for maintenance workers to maintain, the money that they aren’t making means they don’t get to buy their kids that birthday present, they can’t afford the new car this year, they can’t even afford the fast-food dinner once a week anymore. You see the money “spent” by the government but you don’t see the other things that money would have been spent on if it hadn’t been taken by the government in the first place.

There’s an essay that was published in 1850 which still lays it out in very understandable terms this whole process. It was written by Frederic Bastiat and titled That Which is Seen And That Which is Not Seen Well worth the read.

More on Health Care

This is a perfect example of reporting bias in an effort to make a particular point of view more appealing. By only giving a small slice of a picture and then implying that it’s representative of the whole picture, it’s just a shade of, in today’s doublespeak, misspeaking.

Obama Administration Eyes Health Care in Green Bay as Possible Model – washingtonpost.com:When President Obama touches down today in Green Bay, Wis., he will be landing in one of the highest-value health communities in the nation, a city that by numerous measures has managed to control medical spending while steadily improving health outcomes.

and also

In the final two years of a patient’s life, for example, they found that Medicare spent an average of $46,412 per beneficiary nationwide, with the typical patient spending 19.6 days in the hospital, including 5.1 in the intensive-care unit. Green Bay patients cost $33,334 with 14.1 days in the hospital and just 2.1 days in the ICU, while in Miami and Los Angeles, the average cost of care exceeded $71,000, and total hospitalization was about 28 days with 12 in the ICU.</ br></ br>
Some differences can be explained by big-city prices, acknowledged Elliott Fisher, principal investigator for the Dartmouth Atlas Project, “but the differences that are really important are due to the differences in utilization rates.”

Differences in utilization rates in plain english is people not being admitted to hospitals and not receiving intensive care when they are. Can you say “rationing?”

The Future of American Health Care?

This is what we want in the US for a health care system?

Canada’s ObamaCare Precedent – WSJ.com:

The problems were brought home when a relative had difficulty walking. He was in chronic pain. His doctor suggested a referral to a neurologist; an MRI would need to be done, then possibly a referral to another specialist. The wait would have stretched to roughly a year. If surgery was needed, the wait would be months more. Not wanting to stay confined to his house, he had the surgery done in the U.S., at the Mayo Clinic, and paid for it himself. Such stories are common. For example, Sylvia de Vries, an Ontario woman, had a 40-pound fluid-filled tumor removed from her abdomen by an American surgeon in 2006. Her Michigan doctor estimated that she was within weeks of dying, but she was still on a wait list for a Canadian specialist.

And these are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not unusual for some provinces to shut down everything but real emergency care near the end of the year because they are out of money. Not just hospitals and testing facilities, but clinics and regular doctor’s offices. It’s not that long since you could get your dog in for an MRI faster than yourself. Canada’s solution? Ban pets from access to after hours access to the equipment.

There’s that awful word, “rationing” popping up lately. Could this happen here?

Only half of ER patients are treated in a timely manner by national and international standards, according to a government study. The physician shortage is so severe that some towns hold lotteries, with the winners gaining access to the local doc.

A bit further afield, until recently, you could not get treatment for macular degeneration in Britain until you had gone totally blind in one eye. Where are the Europeans that need care NOW and can afford to pay for it come here to get it going to go next?

Midas Mulligan Needed Now?

When I read this I got an incredible feeling of having fallen into a dream – or more like a nightmare.

Treasury Plans Wider Oversight on Compensation – NYTimes.com:The strictest oversight of all will come from Mr. Feinberg, the administration’s compensation czar, who will actively vet all executive compensation changes at the companies that have received more than one taxpayer lifeline.

I’ve mellowed out a lot over the years from my rabid Ayn Rand days, but this sounds like it’s right out of Atlas Shrugged. They must be joking, right?

Are Some Minorities More Right Then Others?

The common wisdom has it that the American white male has all the advantages and that anyone else is automatically relegated to a lesser status. If that’s the case then why do we find the following:

Published: June 6, 2009

Asian-Americans are renowned — or notorious — for ruining grade curves in schools across the land, and as a result they constitute about 20 percent of students at Harvard College.

As for Jews, they have received about one-third of all Nobel Prizes in science received by Americans. One survey found that a quarter of Jewish adults in the United States have earned a graduate degree, compared with 6 percent of the population as a whole.

West Indian blacks, those like Colin Powell whose roots are in the Caribbean, are one-third more likely to graduate from college than African-Americans as a whole, and their median household income is almost one-third higher.

What is the difference in these groups? Blacks from the Caribbean are just as black as any other. There’s no way to tell them from any other blacks and yet they consistently outperform the averages. Jews have been discriminated against for hundreds if not thousands of years, yet they consistently do better than the average. Asian Americans? Shoot, we put a bunch of them in internment camps for years less than 60 years ago.

The only consistent differences are in culture. All three of these groups come from and pass down a culture that respects and expects education and effort from their children. Maybe it’s not just a racial discrimination thing after all?

Think about it.