To Accompany the July 11, 2013 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
My Free Speech Political Quotations and Commentaries Directory and Log
If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't
George S. Patton
Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney in the 2012 elections 65,909,451 Obama
60,932,176 Romney votes.
Among the 48 million people of food stamps, how many voted for Mitt Romney?
The GOP will never win without gaining half the food stamp votes.
Barack Obama received some good news from the IRS.
He will be allowed to write off the first half of his second term as a complete
Quotations repeated in David Albrecht's Summa Blog
- Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself. –Mark Twain
- You can lead a man to Congress, but you can’t make him think. –Milton Berle
- We have the power to do any damn fool thing we want to do, and we seem to do it about every ten minutes.” –J. William Fulbright
- There is no distinctly American criminal class – except Congress.
- Being elected to Congress is regarded as being sent on a looting raid for one’s friends. –George Will
- There is more selfishness and less principle among members of Congress than I had any conception of, before I became President of the U.S. –James K. Polk
- When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators. –P.J. O’Rourke
- With Congress, every time they make a joke it’s a law, and every time they make a law it’s a joke. –Will Rogers
- I don’t mind what Congress does, as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses. –Victor Hugo
- I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a congress. –Peter Stone
- This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.
"The Senate Bill on Immigration Reform," Nobel Laureate Gary Becker,
Becker-Posner Blog, July 3, 2013 ---
"What to Do About Immigration, Legal and Illegal?," Richard Posner,
Becker-Posner Blog, July 3, 2013 ---
"Bit by Bit Strategy," by Walter E. Williams, Townhall, June
26, 2013 ---
"Distrusting Government," by Walter E. Williams, Townhall, July
3, 2013 ---
From the TaxProf Blog on June 25, 2013
The IRS Scandal, Day 47
- IRS: IRS Charts a Path Forward with Immediate Actions
- IR-2013-62: Report Outlines Changes for IRS to Ensure Accountability, Chart a Path Forward; Immediate Actions, Next Steps Outlined
- Danny Werfel (IRS Principal Deputy Commissioner): Charting a Path Forward at the IRS: Initial Assessment and Plan of Action
- IRS: Exempt Organizations (EO) Recommended Actions
- FS-2013-7: Highlights from the IRS Report
- FS-2013-8: IRS Offers New Streamlined Option to Certain 501(c)(4) Groups Caught in Application Backlog
- House Ways & Means Committee Democrats: New IRS Information Shows “Progressives” Included on BOLO Screening List
- Sander Levin Memorandum: Preliminary IRS Investigation Update — TIGTA’s Failure to Disclose that “Progressives” Were Included on the IRS “ Be On the Look Out ” (BOLO ) Lists
- Accounting Today: IRS Outlines Steps to Fix Problems with Tax-Exempt Applications
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution: More Evidence Refuting Democrats' 'Nothing to See Here' IRS Narrative
- The Atlantic: These Liberal Buzzwords 'Targeted' by IRS Debunk the Conservative Conspiracy
- Bloomberg: IRS Employees Used Terms Including ‘Progressive,’ ‘Israel’
- Bloomberg: IRS Look at Progressives Complicates Tale of Tea-Party Scrutiny
- Bloomberg: IRS Offers Faster Tax-Exemption Route to Delayed Groups
- Cartoon: IRS Drone
- Columbia Journalism Review: The IRS Scandal Unwinds
- Forbes: Should You Lawyer Up Against The IRS? You Bet
- The Hill: IRS: Targeting Went on Through May
- Huffington Post: IRS Targeted Progressive Groups, Too, Documents Reveal
- Journal of Accountancy: IRS Controversy Could Cause Tax-Exempt Processing Slowdown
- L.A. Times: IRS Workers Were Told to Flag 'Progressive' Groups, Memos Show
- National Review: A ‘Far Broader’ BOLO List? Some IRS Storytelling Deserves Additional Scrutiny in Washington.
- National Review: ‘Lookout List’ Not Much Broader Than Originally Thought, Contrary to Reports
- New York Daily News: Dems: Liberal Groups Were Also Scrutinized by the IRS
- New York Magazine: The Vast Anti-Conservative IRS Conspiracy Targeted Liberal Groups, Too
- New York Times: Documents Show Liberals in IRS Dragnet
- Politico: IRS: Post-Scandal Criteria Still Inappropriate’
- Politico: Sander Levin: IRS Tea Party Probe ‘Flawed in a Fundamental Way’
- Reason: IRS Apparently Singled Out Groups Not Represented by Attorneys
- Time: IRS Chief Finds Lingering Malpractice In Agency Review
- U.S. News & World Report: Top IRS Official Removed From Job, Not Fired, Likely Still Works at Agency
- USA Today: IRS: Other 'Inappropriate' Screening of Groups Done
- Wall Street Journal: IRS Halts Political Screening of Groups
- Washington Post: Grassley: IRS Paid $42k in Bonuses to Lois Lerner
- Washington Post: IRS to Make It Easier for Groups to Get Tax-Exempt Status, New Chief Says
- Washington Post: New IRS Chief: Improper Screening Was Broader, Lasted Longer Than Previously Revealed
- Washington Times: New IRS Chief Admits More Targeting Cases
The IRS Scandal, Day 50
- American Thinker: Treasury Audit: IRS Targeted 292 Tea Party Groups; 6 Progressive Groups
- The Atlantic: The IRS Scandal Will Never, Ever Die
- Daily Caller: Democrats Say IRS Targeting Report Is Unfair
- The Hill: The IRS’s Latest Misstep on the 501(c)(4) Front
- Huffington Post: IRS Scandal Becomes Republican Party's Zombie
- Huffington Post: J. Russell George: No Sign Progressives Were Mistreated by IRS
- Human Events: So Much for the “IRS Hassled Progressives Too” Excuse
- Human Events: Top Ten Most Ridiculous Items Purchased with IRS Credit Cards
- MSNBC: IRS Chief Challenged by Ways and Means Committee
- National Review: GOP Congressman to IRS Chief: ‘This is Junk!’
- National Review: IG: ‘Progressive’ Groups Not Targeted by IRS
- National Review: IRS Hearing: Dem Blames GOP for ‘Culture of Intimidation’
- National Review: Krauthammer’s Take: IRS Tactics Are ‘Stonewalling 101’
- New York Post: The ‘Progressive’ IRS
- Politico: Daniel Werfel Slammed for ‘Incomplete’ Report
- Politico: IRS Debate Shifts Again
- Politico: IRS Throws a Monkey Wrench Into Tax Reform Plans
- Reason: Under Questioning, Werfel Concedes Liberal Groups Received Less IRS Scrutiny Than Conservative Groups
- Tax Analysts Blog: Get to the Bottom of It, by Christopher Bergin
- Tax Analysts Blog: Revelations Show Lois Lerner Blew It, by David Cay Johnston (Syracuse)
- Town Hall: IRS Inspector General: Liberal Groups Weren't Inappropriately Targeted
- Town Hall: The Only Real Question for the IRS: Where Are the Lefty Victims?
- USA Today: IRS: Liberal Groups Got Less Scrutiny Than Tea Party
- Wall Street Journal op-ed: What's in a Name?, by Angela Hunt
- Wall Street Journal op-ed: Cover the IRS, Don't Cover For It: Apologists in the Media and Elsewhere Falsely Claim the Scandal Was Just a Bungle, by Peggy Noonan
- Wall Street Journal: IRS Inspector Firm on One-Sided Targeting: Small Number Faced Extra Scrutiny, While All Tea-Party Applications Were Reviewed
- Washington Examiner: Treasury: IRS Targeted 292 Tea Party Groups, Just 6 Progressive Groups
- Washington Post: Dems Have More Questions for IRS Audit Author Russell George
- Washington Post: House Panel Voting on Pressing IRS Figure Who Refused to Testify to Return for More Questions
- Washington Post: Treasury Investigator Says IRS Screened Only a Few Progressive Groups for Political Activity
- Washington Post: Watchdog Defends IRS Report in Letter
- Washington Times editorial: A Ship of Fools: The Out-of-Control IRS Needs an Out-of-Town Audit
- Washington Times: Audit Confirms IRS Targeted 292 Conservative Groups – Just 6 Liberal Groups
- Washington Times: IRS Auditor Reaffirms That Conservatives, Not Liberals, Were Targeted
- Washington Times: Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Double Amputee, Slams IRS Worker on Disability
- Weekly Standard: Dem Congressman Calls for Continued IRS Use of 'BOLO Lists'
- Weekly Standard: IRS's National Taxpayer Advocate: Exempt Organizations Division May Have Violated the Law
"‘Lavish’ IRS confab," by Bob Cusack, The Hill, June 26, 2013
The IRS held a 2008 conference in Atlanta that included an open bar, elaborate hors d’oeuvres and a video of agency employees dressed as Olympic athletes with makeshift torches.
Two people who attended the three-day event put on by IRS’s Office of Chief Counsel described it as “very lavish” and “over the top.” The agency said Tuesday it cost taxpayers about $2.4 million.
The “grand finale” of the conference, held during President George W. Bush’s administration, was an awards dinner at the Georgia Aquarium catered by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, according to an IRS document provided to The Hill.
Continued in article
It's common to glibly assume that most USA corporations follow the lead of General Electric and pay no corporate income tax. Most corporations do not pay 35%, but many pay at least a third of that. Similarly, many of the 52% of Americans that pay some income tax take advantage of deductions and credits to reduce their taxes to around 10%.
"GAO: Corporations pay one-third of statutory rate," by Peter
Schroeder, The Hill, July 1, 2013 ---
The nation's largest corporations have paid a tax rate that is about one-third of the statutory corporate rate, according to a new government report.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that large, profitable corporations paid an effective tax rate of 12.6 percent in 2010, even though the statutory tax rate stood at 35 percent.
Even when taking into account state and local taxes, or taxes paid to foreign nations by the companies, the effective tax rate climbs to only 17 percent, or roughly half the statutory level required by the U.S.
A combination of exemptions, deferrals, tax credits, and other incentives combine to drastically trim the amount of taxes a large corporation actually pays to the United States, the GAO found.
Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/domestic-taxes/308781-gao-corporations-pay-one-third-of-statutory-rate#ixzz2Xth5T5HY Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook
The companies examined had $10 million or more in assets, and the rate actually paid is slightly lower than the amount those companies reported to the government (13.1 percent).
The study came at the request of Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who headed the Homeland Security subcommittee on Investigations in 2012. Levin, who still chairs the panel, has been hotly critical of U.S. companies that rely on offshore maneuvers to reduce their American tax burden.
He argued Monday that the report proves that corporations are not paying "their fair share" come tax time.
"When some U.S. corporations use unjustifiable loopholes and offshore gimmicks to avoid paying Uncle Sam, their tax burden is shifted onto hardworking American families and small business," he said in a statement. "Today’s GAO report quantifies just how much of the corporate tax burden has been shifted onto other taxpayers: America’s large, profitable corporations are now paying a lower tax rate than our teachers and firefighters.”
Coburn too chastised "giveaways and loopholes" that allow corporations to drastically trim their tax bill and used the report to bolster the case for comprehensive tax reform.
Continued in article
Corporate income taxes are becoming less and less important as a revenue source for the government. This is why I think they should be phased out in favor of a business VAT tax that is easier to collect and not so easy to avoid with tax deferral and avoidance strategies.
"Global R&D incentives compared," by By Laughlin Cutler, Esq., Douglas
M. Sayuk, CPA and Camille Shoff, Esq., Journal of Accountancy, June 2013 ---
A lot of (mostly optimistic) economy graphs (as of the end of June 2013)
Scroll down and down and down.
"Men are disappearing from the workforce," by Tami Luhby, CNN Money,
June 19, 2013 ---
Disability is contributing to a steady decline in the number of men in the American workforce: In 2012, 3.1% of working-age males were receiving federal disability benefits, up from 1.9% in 1982, according to National Academy of Social Insurance data cited by CNN. Other factors in the decline, aside from recession and downsizing, include increasing rates of incarceration. Just 88% of men ages 25 to 54 are participating in the workforce today, down from 97% in 1956.
Lt. Col. Gade is an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy. In 2005, he lost his right leg in combat in Iraq. His views do not reflect those of the Defense Department, Army or the U.S. Military Academy. This essay is adapted from an article in the upcoming Summer 2013 issue of National Affairs.
"Why the (Veterans Administration) VA Is Buried in Disability Claims The
biggest factor by far is how Veterans Affairs defines 'disability.' by
Daniel Gade, The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2013 ---
For a sense of how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is coping with an unprecedented number of disability claims, consider that nationwide nearly 900,000 disability claims are backlogged or sitting in the processing queue. Veterans wait, on average, 273 days for their claims to be processed. For new claimants from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the wait is 327 days. In some claims centers, the average wait approaches two years.
Budget cuts are not to blame. The VA's 2013 budget is $140.3 billion—more than double the 2001 level, adjusting for inflation. And it's not that the VA hasn't made enormous efforts to address the problem: For each of the past three years, VA claims-processors have managed to handle more than one million claims.
The VA has identified a number of factors driving the claims increase, including higher demand driven by a weak economy, an aging generation of Vietnam veterans and hundreds of thousands of post-9/11 veterans leaving the service. Making matters worse, the move to digital from paper claims is just getting started and the VA and the Defense Department continue to struggle in implementing compatible medical-records systems.
But the biggest issue by far is how the current system defines "disability." The average American may picture a disabled veteran as a wartime amputee, burn patient or wheelchair user. Fortunately, this isn't the case. The number of major amputations from Iraq and Afghanistan combined is less than 2,000, and the number of serious burns is around 2,500.
The reality is that the majority of veterans' disability claims are for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or minor physical conditions, including common age-related ailments such as hearing loss, lower-back pain and arthritis. Furthermore, 62% of the claims in the backlog of unprocessed claims are not first-time claimants, but are from veterans reapplying for increased benefits.
The financial structure of the claims process gives veterans further incentive to make claims. By getting a disability adjusted upward to 90% from 70%, a veteran will gain an additional $500 per month. It should come as no surprise, then, that many veterans will appeal or refile their claims in hopes of getting a higher disability rating. There are so many conditions that the VA dubs disabilities that the average veteran in the system now claims more than eight conditions as "disabling." The average during the post-World War II era was one or two.
By categorizing minor conditions as disabilities, the process threatens to become a kind of stealthy welfare system, where those with minor conditions might feather their nests at the expense of both taxpayers and truly disabled veterans trapped behind them in a line that stretches over the horizon. This also harms the veterans who are being told the lie that they are "disabled" and being paid to believe it. Sadly, this process can decrease veterans' work incentives and dull their ability to contribute to society after military service.
The good news is that a small number of simple steps would result in a more just, streamlined and efficient claims system. First, the VA's authorizing legislation should be updated so that only true disabilities are compensated. There is no moral or financial reason why minor or age-related conditions should be labeled as disabilities or compensated as such. Of course, the VA should continue to treat veterans for their service-connected conditions of whatever severity, but the era of labeling a veteran "disabled" for age-related degeneration should end.
Second, the claims currently in the queue should be prioritized. First-time claims should move to the front of the line so that seriously injured veterans can get necessary assistance.
Third, the focus of the entire system should shift to retraining, rehabilitating and reintegrating veterans into the workforce. Those with serious disabilities should be compensated for their pain and reduced quality of life, but they should also be encouraged to work. Paying veterans to stop working is the wrong course for veterans and for broader American society.
The real crisis is not a backlog of claims; it's that the current system is focusing on the wrong goals. Instead of working to push the maximum number of claims through the system, the VA should take a step back and ask what we really owe our veterans.
Social Security Disability Insurance --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_Disability_Insurance
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) is a payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program of the United States government. It is managed by the Social Security Administration and is designed to provide income supplements to people who are physically restricted in their ability to be employed because of a notable disability, usually a physical disability. SSD can be supplied on either a temporary or permanent basis, usually directly correlated to whether the person's disability is temporary or permanent.
Unlike Supplemental Security Income (SSI), SSD does not depend on the income of the disabled individual receiving it. A "legitimately" (i.e. according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and via other similar legal and medical backing) disabled person of any income level can theoretically receive SSD. Most SSI recipients are below an administratively-mandated income threshold, and indeed these individuals must in fact stay below that threshold to continue receiving SSI; but this is not the case with SSD.
. . .
- Social Security provides a regular monthly payment that supplements any current disability benefits already received. It also provides annual cost of living increases. A portion of these benefits may be tax free.
- Regardless of a person's age, after receiving SSDI benefits for 24 months, they are eligible for Medicare, including Part A (hospital benefits), Part B (medical benefits), and Part D (drug benefits). The date of Medicare eligibility is measured from the date of eligibility for SSDI (generally 6 months after the start of disability), not the date when the first SSDI payment was received.
- If a person receives Social Security disability benefits, any COBRA benefits may also be extended from 18 to 29 months.
- Social Security disability entitlement "freezes" Social Security earnings records during a person's period of disability so that reduced earnings during a period of disability will not have an adverse effect on retirement benefits. The resulting benefits computation may raise, but will not lower, future Social Security retirement benefits.
- A person receiving Social Security Disability Insurance may have a dependent (child, adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild or grandchild) eligible for Social Security benefits. This child must be under age 18 or under age 19 if in elementary or secondary school full time.
- A person receiving Social Security Disability Insurance may have a spouse eligible for Social Security benefits. The spouse must be 62 or older or caring for a child of the wage earner who is younger than age 16 or disabled.
- Benefits can be paid on the record of a disabled, retired or deceased parent to an unmarried child of any age if the child became disabled before the age of 22.
- Social Security will provide a person opportunities to return to work while still paying them disability benefits.
This is a pretty good blog for those seeking disability benefits, especially
SSI benefits ---
One problem, in my opinion, of the SSD program is that family income and wealth are not taken into consideration. The 20-yer old wife or husband of a spouse making $10 million a year is eligible for SSD (and Medicare) lifetime benefits if she or he becomes mentally or physically disabled and unable to continue working. Joint ownership of $100 million in investments will not prelude receiving lifetime SSD and Medicare benefits even when entitled to half of those investments in the case of divorce.
I have a physician friend back in Iowa who has a very high income annually to a point where he and his working wife could well have afforded the best of care for their disabled child in a care home. Nevertheless the child received the maximum SSD benefits and Medicare that now continue into adult life.
In May 2013 there were over 14 million persons under age 65 receiving non-VA
Social Security Disability benefits ---
The trend since 1970 is shown at
The number of recipients has doubled since 2002. There are many causes for this doubling, including the rise in unemployment (faked claims are especially high among workers who lose their jobs) coupled with the expansion of the definition of "disability" to cover depression and other forms of mood swing mental illness that were less commonly qualified for disability benefits in the 20th Century. This is in most cases fair and equitable if mental illness impairs job performance. Both soft tissue (e.g., spinal column) and some mental illnesses present rule enforcement problems because, with the help of questionable physicians and shyster lawyers, these impairments become more easily faked than, say, amputations and disabling cancer. To my knowledge, SSD recipients who are granted permanent lifetime disability are not required ever again to prove continued legibility. The millionaire SSD guy on the golf course daily may really have had a back injury 27 years ago.
At age 65 most SSD and SSI recipients are shifted into the Social Security retirement system even if they paid very little into the system, such as those that never were able to work since early childhood and paid nothing into the system.
"Three Lies You Learned in School," Everyday Einstein, June 27,
Quantitative Easing (QE) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantitative_Easing
Quantitative easing (QE) is an unconventional monetary policy used by central banks to stimulate the national economy when standard monetary policy has become ineffective. A central bank implements quantitative easing by buying financial assets from commercial banks and other private institutions, thus increasing the monetary base. This is distinguished from the more usual policy of buying or selling government bonds in order to keep market interest rates at a specified target value.
Expansionary monetary policy typically involves the central bank buying short-term government bonds in order to lower short-term market interest rates. However, when short-term interest rates are either at, or close to, zero, normal monetary policy can no longer lower interest rates. Quantitative easing may then be used by the monetary authorities to further stimulate the economy by purchasing assets of longer maturity than only short-term government bonds, and thereby lowering longer-term interest rates further out on the yield curve. Quantitative easing raises the prices of the financial assets bought, which lowers their yield.[
Quantitative easing can be used to help ensure that inflation does not fall below target.Risks include the policy being more effective than intended in acting against deflation – leading to higher inflation, or of not being effective enough if banks do not lend out the additional reserves. According to the IMF and various other economists, quantitative easing undertaken since the global financial crisis has mitigated some of the adverse effects of the crisis.
Another Lie College Students May Now Be Learning in School
"Quantitative Easing Is Not 'Printing Money'," by Martin Feldstein, Business Insider, June 27, 2013 ---
There's a bit of slight of hand in the above article. There's a difference when the U.S. sells a treasury bond to China relative to selling a treasury bond to itself (errrr read that the Fed). The main difference is that the USA has to pay off the debt to China when it comes due. If QE comes to an end Uncle Sam has to either raise the payoff from taxpayers or borrow from somewhere (e.g., Saudi Arabia) to pay off what it owes to China.
Uncle Sam does not have to borrow from Saudi Arabia (at possibly higher treasury rates) or raise taxes to pay off the bonds that it sold to itself. Instead this debt is paid off with inflation which is (gasp) tantamount to printing green backs. The QE works as long as circumstances are holding down inflation, especially circumstances where the other national economies on earth are in such worse shape.
If QE was the answer to deficit spending economies like Switzerland and Sweden would see the light and use QE to fund massive deficits like the USA funds massive deficits. But they know better!
Thus Feldstein's article is a smoke and mirrors piece that is technically correct but couched in wording that disguises the fact that QE is really a form of printing money.
The biggest drawback of QE in the USA political attitude that deficits don't matter as long as you're borrowing from yourself. Economists are not so easily misled, but the big spenders in Washington who want more of both guns and butter will keep borrowing from themselves if for no other reason than to keep getting re-elected year after year after year ad infinitum until they're finally pushing up daisies.
Someday the USA will pay the piper who is not invited to make music in Switzerland and Sweden. Quantitative Easing is not free money when you tear down the smoke and mirrors justification. Shame on you Martin Feldstein!
The Economist Dean of the Columbia University Business School is Not a Fan of Ben Bernanke or Paul Krugman
"Glenn Hubbard Explains The Doomsday Scenario That America Will See In 20
Years If There's No Change In Spending," by Joe Weisenthal, Business
Insider, June 24, 2013 ---
We recently had Glenn Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Business, into discuss his book Balance: The Economics of Great Powers from Ancient Rome to Modern America.
Hubbard's main argument is that the US must reduce its long-term deficit, and that if it's not addressed, then within 20 years the US will see a "doomsday scenario" of virtually no social spending and monstrous taxes.
Watch the video
Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements ---
Noam Chomsky Slams Žižek and Lacan: Empty ‘Posturing’ ---
President Clinton's most embarrassing pardon (among far too many pardons when
leaving the White House) of a cash cow friend
"Legendary Commodities Trader Marc Rich Has Died," Reuters, June 26, 2013 ---
A Proud Moment for Nancy Pelosi
"The Booing of Nancy Pelosi The Democratic Party's old national-security problems re-emerge," by Daniel Henninger, The Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2013 ---
As the American people, the world and official Washington continue to unravel the mystery named Barack Obama, a key clue may be found in the booing of Nancy Pelosi—from the Left.
The former House Speaker was booed, shrieked at and vilified for remarks she made last weekend to Netroots Nation, the progressive activists' convention.
Ms. Pelosi spoke to the convention about Edward Snowden, whose theft of NSA computer data has taken him to China and now Russia. To her credit, Nancy Pelosi told them what they didn't want to hear:
"I know some of you attribute heroic status to that action, but you don't have the responsibility for the security of the United States. Those of us who do have to strike a different balance." She said Edward Snowden had clearly broken the law.
At this, the full-time American Left went ballistic with boos.
"Leave him alone," they shouted. "Secrets and lies!" And the ultimate articulation of rejection: "You suck!"
Continued in article
"Here's What Happens If You Don't Sign Up For Obamacare," by Mandi
Woodruff, Business Insider, July 1, 2013 ---
The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill Colonoscopies Explain Why U.S. Leads the
World in Health Expenditures (NYT) ---
MERRICK, N.Y. — Deirdre Yapalater’s recent colonoscopy at a surgical center near her home here on Long Island went smoothly: she was whisked from pre-op to an operating room where a gastroenterologist, assisted by an anesthesiologist and a nurse, performed the routine cancer screening procedure in less than an hour. The test, which found nothing worrisome, racked up what is likely her most expensive medical bill of the year: $6,385.
That is fairly typical: in Keene, N.H., Matt Meyer’s colonoscopy was billed at $7,563.56. Maggie Christ of Chappaqua, N.Y., received $9,142.84 in bills for the procedure. In Durham, N.C., the charges for Curtiss Devereux came to $19,438, which included a polyp removal. While their insurers negotiated down the price, the final tab for each test was more than $3,500.
“Could that be right?” said Ms. Yapalater, stunned by charges on the statement on her dining room table. Although her insurer covered the procedure and she paid nothing, her health care costs still bite: Her premium payments jumped 10 percent last year, and rising co-payments and deductibles are straining the finances of her middle-class family, with its mission-style house in the suburbs and two S.U.V.’s parked outside. “You keep thinking it’s free,” she said. “We call it free, but of course it’s not.”
In many other developed countries, a basic colonoscopy costs just a few hundred dollars and certainly well under $1,000. That chasm in price helps explain why the United States is far and away the world leader in medical spending, even though numerous studies have concluded that Americans do not get better care.
Whether directly from their wallets or through insurance policies, Americans pay more for almost every interaction with the medical system. They are typically prescribed more expensive procedures and tests than people in other countries, no matter if those nations operate a private or national health system. A list of drug, scan and procedure prices compiled by the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurers, found that the United States came out the most costly in all 21 categories — and often by a huge margin.
Americans pay, on average, about four times as much for a hip replacement as patients in Switzerland or France and more than three times as much for a Caesarean section as those in New Zealand or Britain. The average price for Nasonex, a common nasal spray for allergies, is $108 in the United States compared with $21 in Spain. The costs of hospital stays here are about triple those in other developed countries, even though they last no longer, according to a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that studies health policy.
¶ While the United States medical system is famous for drugs costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and heroic care at the end of life, it turns out that a more significant factor in the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual health care bill may not be the use of extraordinary services, but the high price tag of ordinary ones. “The U.S. just pays providers of health care much more for everything,” said Tom Sackville, chief executive of the health plans federation and a former British health minister.
¶ Colonoscopies offer a compelling case study. They are the most expensive screening test that healthy Americans routinely undergo — and often cost more than childbirth or an appendectomy in most other developed countries. Their numbers have increased manyfold over the last 15 years, with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggesting that more than 10 million people get them each year, adding up to more than $10 billion in annual costs.
¶ Largely an office procedure when widespread screening was first recommended, colonoscopies have moved into surgery centers — which were created as a step down from costly hospital care but are now often a lucrative step up from doctors’ examining rooms — where they are billed like a quasi operation. They are often prescribed and performed more frequently than medical guidelines recommend.
¶ The high price paid for colonoscopies mostly results not from top-notch patient care, according to interviews with health care experts and economists, but from business plans seeking to maximize revenue; haggling between hospitals and insurers that have no relation to the actual costs of performing the procedure; and lobbying, marketing and turf battles among specialists that increase patient fees.
¶ While several cheaper and less invasive tests to screen for colon cancer are recommended as equally effective by the federal government’s expert panel on preventive care — and are commonly used in other countries — colonoscopy has become the go-to procedure in the United States. “We’ve defaulted to by far the most expensive option, without much if any data to support it,” said Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.
¶ In coming months, The New York Times will look at common procedures, drugs and medical encounters to examine how the economic incentives underlying the fragmented health care market in the United States have driven up costs, putting deep economic strains on consumers and the country.
¶ Hospitals, drug companies, device makers, physicians and other providers can benefit by charging inflated prices, favoring the most costly treatment options and curbing competition that could give patients more, and cheaper, choices. And almost every interaction can be an opportunity to send multiple, often opaque bills with long lists of charges: $100 for the ice pack applied for 10 minutes after a physical therapy session, or $30,000 for the artificial joint implanted in surgery.
¶ The United States spends about 18 percent of its gross domestic product on health care, nearly twice as much as most other developed countries. The Congressional Budget Office has said that if medical costs continue to grow unabated, “total spending on health care would eventually account for all of the country’s economic output.” And it identified federal spending on government health programs as a primary cause of long-term budget deficits.
¶¶ While the rise in health care spending in the United States has slowed in the past four years — to about 4 percent annually from about 8 percent — it is still expected to rise faster than the gross domestic product. Aging baby boomers and tens of millions of patients newly insured under the Affordable Care Act are likely to add to the burden.
¶ With health insurance premiums eating up ever more of her flat paycheck, Ms. Yapalater, a customer relations specialist for a small Long Island company, recently decided to forgo physical therapy for an injury sustained during Hurricane Sandy because of high out-of-pocket expenses. She refused a dermatology medication prescribed for her daughter when the pharmacist said the co-payment was $130. “I said, ‘That’s impossible, I have insurance,’ ” Ms. Yapalater recalled. “I called the dermatologist and asked for something cheaper, even if it’s not as good.”
¶ The more than $35,000 annually that Ms. Yapalater and her employer collectively pay in premiums — her share is $15,000 — for her family’s Oxford Freedom Plan would be more than sufficient to cover their medical needs in most other countries. She and her husband, Jeff, 63, a sales and marketing consultant, have three children in their 20s with good jobs. Everyone in the family exercises, and none has had a serious illness.
¶ Like the Yapalaters, many other Americans have habits or traits that arguably could put the nation at the low end of the medical cost spectrum. Patients in the United States make fewer doctors’ visits and have fewer hospital stays than citizens of many other developed countries, according to the Commonwealth Fund report. People in Japan get more CT scans. People in Germany, Switzerland and Britain have more frequent hip replacements. The American population is younger and has fewer smokers than those in most other developed countries. Pushing costs in the other direction, though, is that the United States has relatively high rates of obesity and limited access to routine care for the poor.
¶ A major factor behind the high costs is that the United States, unique among industrialized nations, does not generally regulate or intervene in medical pricing, aside from setting payment rates for Medicare and Medicaid, the government programs for older people and the poor. Many other countries deliver health care on a private fee-for-service basis, as does much of the American health care system, but they set rates as if health care were a public utility or negotiate fees with providers and insurers nationwide, for example.
¶ “In the U.S., we like to consider health care a free market,” said Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund and a former adviser to President Obama. ”But it is a very weird market, riddled with market failures.”
¶ Consider this:
¶ Consumers, the patients, do not see prices until after a service is provided, if they see them at all. And there is little quality data on hospitals and doctors to help determine good value, aside from surveys conducted by popular Web sites and magazines. Patients with insurance pay a tiny fraction of the bill, providing scant disincentive for spending.
¶Continued in article
Does Medical Care Cost Too Much in the United States? Posner ---
Does Medical Care Cost Too Much in the United States? Becker ---
Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm
Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm
Tidbits Archives ---
Jensen's Pictures and Stories
Summary of Major Accounting Scandals --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accounting_scandals
Bob Jensen's threads on such scandals:
Bob Jensen's threads on audit firm litigation and negligence ---
Current and past editions of my
newsletter called Fraud Updates ---
Enron --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm
Rotten to the Core --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm
American History of Fraud --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudAmericanHistory.htm
Bob Jensen's fraud
Bob Jensen's threads on
auditor professionalism and independence are at
Bob Jensen's threads on
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Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---
· With a Rejoinder from the 2010 Senior Editor of The Accounting Review (TAR), Steven J. Kachelmeier
· With Replies in Appendix 4 to Professor Kachemeier by Professors Jagdish Gangolly and Paul Williams
· With Added Conjectures in Appendix 1 as to Why the Profession of Accountancy Ignores TAR
· With Suggestions in Appendix 2 for Incorporating Accounting Research into Undergraduate Accounting Courses
Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---
By Bob Jensen
wrong in accounting/accountics research? ---
The Sad State of Accountancy Doctoral Programs That Do Not Appeal to Most
AN ANALYSIS OF THE EVOLUTION OF RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS BY THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW:
Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory
Tom Lehrer on Mathematical Models and Statistics
Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox)
that probably will never be solved
Bob Jensen's economic crisis messaging http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm
Bob Jensen's threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
Bob Jensen's Home Page --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/