Tidbits Quotations
To Accompany the May 15, 2015 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
T.S. Eliot

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Margaret Wheatley,

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
Joseph Campbell

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
George S. Patton

Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.
Henry David Thoreau

Larry King Slips Up In Interview.. Reveals Media Malpractice.

Heads are going to role
ISIS --- http://www.businessinsider.com/r-islamic-state-shot-and-beheaded-30-people-in-libya-video-2015-4

When Joe Louis Made the Nazis Go Mad The German announcer’s arrogance melted into incoherence as Schmeling hit the mat.
David Margolick --- http://www.wsj.com/articles/when-joe-louis-made-the-nazis-go-mad-1429914214?tesla=y

(Indiana) School District Excludes All White (and Asian) Students From Third-Grade Field Trips To Local Colleges ---
Is this kind of racial policy in the public sector legal? Would it be legal in a private school?

Exhibit A
So Far, Zero People Have Been Fired After VA Scanda
l . . . Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix VA hospital was not fired because of her role in the scandal, but because she had accepted “inappropriate gifts,” according to the New York Times.--- Click Here
The Civil Service is the most powerful union in the USA. Lying and cheating letting patients die waiting for service just is not enough. Exhibit B is the inability to fire DEA agents charging up prostitute fees on their expense accounts.

Let me tell you that government creates jobs, not business
Hillary Clinton --- http://guardianlv.com/2014/10/hillary-clinton-backs-away-from-businesses-do-not-create-jobs-remark/
Jensen Comment
I was listening to her on television when she first made this assertion. Let me tell you that it is the most ignorant assertion that I've heard in my entire life.

You Know, It Sure Looks Like Hillary Was Bribed at State ---
Mitt Romney

NYT, WSJ Editorial Boards Hit Clinton Over Foundation Dealings
Matt Vespa  --- http://townhall.com/tipsheet/mattvespa/

Was there a cover-up in bin Laden killing?
Peter Bergen concludes that  another blockbuster from Seymour Hersh is nonsense.

Inside Fidel Castro’s luxurious life on his secret island getaway ---

Ebola can only be passed through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person showing symptoms. But health officials have been aware of another problem: The virus can remain in semen for nearly half a year after symptoms emerge, even after the patient has fully recovered. A survivor could still potentially infect a sexual partner with the virus, which appears to have happened in Monrovia in March, when the woman in question had sexual relations with a man who had been discharged the previous October.
Robert King --- http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/cdc-woman-may-have-gotten-ebola-after-sex-with-survivor/article/2563880

Cornel West --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornel_West
Cornel West’s rage against President Barack Obama evokes that kind of venom. He has accused Obama of political minstrelsy, calling him a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface”; taunted him as a “brown-faced Clinton”; and derided him as a “neoliberal opportunist.”
Michael Eric Dyson, New Republic, April 18, 2015 ---

Will Minimum Wage Protesters Order Fries From Their Burger-Flipping Robot Replacements?
J.D. Tuccelle, http://reason.com/blog/2015/04/20/will-minimum-wage-protesters-order-fries#.03jwkv:CP4i

We'd rather be obese on benefits than thin and working.
Janice and Amber Manzur

Moocher Hall of Fame --- https://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/the-moocher-hall-of-fame/

Entitlements Actuarial  Lies
A trillion lie here and a trillion lie there and pretty soon you're talking about an unsustainable future covered up by lying in politics.

Social Security is Going to Be Insolvent Before Anybody Thinks.
New studies from Harvard and Dartmouth researchers find that the SSA's actuarial forecasts have been consistently overstating the financial health of the program's trust funds since 2000.

"Social Security May Be in Worse Shape Than We Thought: Study," by Tom Anderson, NBC News, May 12, 2015 ---

The Social Security Administration projects that its trust funds will be depleted by 2033—not an optimistic forecast. But it may be even bleaker than that.

New studies from Harvard and Dartmouth researchers find that the SSA's actuarial forecasts have been consistently overstating the financial health of the program's trust funds since 2000.

"These biases are getting bigger and they are substantial," said Gary King, co-author of the studies and director of Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science. "[Social Security] is going to be insolvent before everyone thinks."

The Social Security and Medicare Trustees' 2014 report to Congress last year found trust fund reserves for both its combined retirement and disability programs will grow until 2019. Program costs are projected to exceed income in 2020 and the trust funds will be depleted by 2033 if Congress doesn't act. Once the trust funds are drained, annual revenues from payroll tax would be projected to cover only three-quarters of scheduled Social Security benefits through 2088.

Continued in article

Entitlements --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entitlement

Harvard, Dartmouth:  Social Security forecasts have been too optimistic — and increasingly biased ---

Republicans have tried a decade ago to reform the Social Security system, warning that the program would tip over into the red earlier than expected and the trust fund would entirely dissipate while some current recipients were still alive to see it. Democrats led by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi claimed the crisis didn’t exist when George W. Bush proposed limited privatization options, and the 2008 financial-sector crash put an end to further GOP reform efforts. Studies from Harvard and Dartmouth this week corroborate Bush’s warnings on Social Security, and further accuse the SSA of increasing bias in its analyses in order to maintain the illusion of a slower decline:

New studies from Harvard and Dartmouth researchers find that the SSA’s actuarial forecasts have been consistently overstating the financial health of the program’s trust funds since 2000.

“These biases are getting bigger and they are substantial,” said Gary King, co-author of the studies and director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science. “[Social Security] is going to be insolvent before everyone thinks.” …

Researchers examined forecasts published in the annual trustees’ reports from 1978, when the reports began to consistently disclose projected financial indicators, until 2013. Then, they compared the forecasts the agency made on such variables as mortality and labor force participation rates to the actual observed data. Forecasts from trustees reports from 1978 to 2000 were roughly unbiased, researchers found. In that time, the administration made overestimates and underestimates, but the forecast errors appeared to be random in their direction.

“After 2000, forecast errors became increasingly biased, and in the same direction. Trustees Reports after 2000 all overestimated the assets in the program and overestimated solvency of the Trust Funds,” wrote the researchers, who include Dartmouth professor Samir Soneji and Harvard doctoral candidate Konstantin Kashin.

How bad is it? Barron’s notes that the estimates are off by $1 trillion, maybe more.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
If Tom Brady had cheated like that he'd be expelled for good. There will, however, be no punishments for the liars who gave false estimates of the entitlements liabilities of the future. That type of deflation goes unpunished in Washington DC.

Bob Jensen's threads on the "Entitlements Crisis" ---

Subject: Medicare - Part G - Nursing Home Plan Medicare - Part G - Nursing Home Plan Say you are an older senior citizen and can no longer take care of yourself and the government says there is no Nursing Home care available for you. So, what do you do? You opt for Medicare Part G. The plan gives anyone 75 or older a gun (Part G) and one bullet. You are allowed to shoot one worthless politician. This means you will be sent to prison for the rest of your life where you will receive three meals a day,...

n his PJ Media article, Dreyfuss starts out arguing for a better informed citizenry, especially the youth. Okay, that could be chalked up to just a standard good citizenship lecture but then Dreyfuss delivered an analysis sure to get him disinvited to many a Hollywood party chock full of liberals: - See more at: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/pj-gladnick/2015/05/11/huh-actor-richard-dreyfuss-writes-rational-article-pj-media#sthash.qBj4xUfK.dpuf

In his PJ Media
article, Richard Dreyfuss starts out arguing for a better informed citizenry, especially the youth. Okay, that could be chalked up to just a standard good citizenship lecture but then Dreyfuss delivered an analysis sure to get him disinvited to many a Hollywood party chock full of liberals: -

See more at: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/pj-gladnick/2015/05/11/huh-actor-richard-dreyfuss-writes-rational-article-pj-media#sthash.qBj4xUfK.dpuf

Population --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population

List of Countries by Population --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependencies_by_population

Malthusian Exponential Growth Model --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malthusian_growth_model

Earth Day Special
"The Biggest Threat to the Earth? We Have Too Many Kids," Wired Science, April 22, 2015 ---

Today is Earth Day. For 45 years, the secular holiday has brought people—along with their ideas and enthusiasm—together to confront the world’s environmental challenges. There will be speeches about sustainability, discussions about air quality, and pamphlets on how to reduce your carbon footprint. You might even learn how to help save some sub-Saharan elephants, but nobody will be addressing the elephant in the room. That’s the fact that every single environmental solution is addressing the same, ugly problem: The world has to support a lot of hungry, thirsty, fertile people.

“No question, the human population is the core of every single environmental issue that we have,” says Corey Bradshaw, an ecologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia. There are seven billion of us and counting. And though people are developing technologies, regulations, and policies to make humanity less of a strain on the Earth, a number of environmentalists believe that these fixes will never catch up to the population as long as it continues to grow. The only way to save the world is to stop making more (and more, and more, and more) humans.

This is not a new idea—but it has been driven underground for a time. Built on Malthusian foundations, and bolstered by books like The Population Bomb, reining in human reproduction was a major talking point at the first Earth Day, in 1970. The idea almost went mainstream in America, but extremists advocating for government regulation of fertility gave it a bad reputation. China’s one-child policy, in 1980, didn’t help.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Climate change that reduces food and water exacerbates the problem. Aside from the dire restraints of Thomas Malthus, our our hope mostly depends upon technology such as low-cost desalinization of sea water for crop irrigation and newer technologies for energy such as fusion and hydrogen. There are two outlier scenarios. One is learning to live like ants piled on top of each other. The other is having a few tribes learning to live on an earth that is virtually destroyed.

Nations With the Most Per-Student Financial Aid Also Discourage the Most Students From Seeking University Diplomas

For example in European nations like Germany less than 25% of potential students are admitted to universities. In part this is due to cost control for taxpayers. However, in virtually all instances it's just facing up to the needs for workers who are not overeducated for the trades.

"Singapore Tries to Discourage University Enrollment," Inside Higher Ed, May 4, 2015 ---

Net Metering --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_metering#United_States
This site summarizes the varying options among the 50 states of the USA. It does not, however, drill down to power cost differences in those states. For example, in northern New England electric power is relatively expensive compared to most other parts of the USA.

"Why Tesla Wants to Sell a Battery for Your Home," by Phil McKenna, MIT's Technology Review, May 1, 2015 ---

. . .

Tesla’s residential battery, called Powerwall, will be available in several months and will come in two sizes, a seven-kilowatt-hour battery system that costs $3,000 and a slightly larger 10-kilowatt-hour system for $3,500. The larger battery would keep an average-sized home running for a day. It is unclear what the cost of installation would be.

Tesla expects that many sales will come from commercial customers who pay a variable rate of electricity over the course of a day based on demand. Such customers already see significant reductions in their energy bills by drawing on stored electricity during periods of peak energy demand.

In the near term, the market for home energy storage will depend on how states regulate homeowners’ ability to buy and sell electricity. Net metering, currently available in 43 states, allows residential customers to sell excess generation back to their utility company at retail rates. The policies are being challenged by utility companies that say it undermines their ability to recoup grid infrastructure costs. But as long as net metering continues, consumers will have little need to buy an energy storage system because they can sell the excess solar power they generate rather than store it, says Jay Stein, an analyst with energy consulting company E Source. “I don’t see any financial payoff for them to buy batteries,” he says.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment

As I dimly recall my 14-kilowatt-hour backup propane generator cost about $14,000  to install, with about $4,000  of the cost going for the relatively complicated switching system that automatically turns the generator  on and off when the grid goes off or on. Plus in my case there was the added cost of buying and burying a large propane tank that serves our generator in times of emergency and our four fireplace stoves. The propane tank might also become  an energy source when and if we decide to replace our oil furnace with a propane furnace.

I'm told, however, that heating oil and wood (logs or pellets) are still the most cost-effective heating energy up here in the White Mountains. It will probably remain so relative to propane, because OPEC is probably not going to let relatively abundant USA natural gas drive out our imported oil market.

At $3,500 the battery Tesla battery sounds like a better deal than my propane generator for emergency back up power. However, there are still the following unknowns to consider:

  1. It's not clear how long the battery backup will continue to operate in the case of long power outages. For example, up here in cold weather we once had a power outage for nearly a week. People without backup systems were draining their water pipes. People who were out of town had some burst water pipes and basement flooding.  I had no worry with my big propane tank and could have ordered more propane delivery if needed. 

    Will a Tesla 10-kilowatt-hour battery power up  a house u for a week
    ? Personally I doubt it


  2. Tesla's new home and business battery does not work all that well with solar and is beginning to sound like a loser ---


  3. The battery system takes a small amount of electric power to stay charged 24/7. For those of us still paying electric companies for power there is some cost for keeping the battery system fully charged. Of course solar-powered buildings can avoid such costs provided they do not go negative on the net metering..


  4. The battery backup system will still have to have that relatively expensive on--off switching system installed. Hence the $3,500 battery price is not the complete installation cost.


  5. Solar systems are more efficient in some locations than others where there are more cloudy days. My friend down the road who studied the alternatives more than me said that solar is still not a great deal in New Hampshire without the tax rebate. However, my friend who is a professor at the University of Delaware and lives in Pennsylvania says that net metering with solar panels on his barn virtually eliminated the net cost of providing power to his home. When the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant shut down the green state of Vermont shifted heavily into natural gas power generation in spite of also providing a relatively good deal for net metering. Optimism for wind power in Vermont was greatly dampened by the noise and scenery degradation plus the bird kills of wind power.


  6. Solar systems with battery backup provide assurance of power in case of big emergencies such as if terrorists really succeed in badly damaging the power grid.


  7. Net metering is a better deal in some states than others. For example, it's a better deal in Vermont than New Hampshire ---


  8. There's an unknown in terms of optimal  timing of solar panel installation. Some people who installed solar panels early on wish that they had waited just a bit for improvements in the technology.


How Tesla’s Batteries Will Power Your Home ---

Jensen Comment
The above article is quite informative, but this and other articles like it seem to be ignoring the major drawback of Tesla's batteries, i.e., the dependency upon rare earth metals that are found in low concentrations around the world ---

Use of lithium makes the USA increasingly dependent upon unreliable rare earth mining sources --- particularly China.

 Do we really want China to control the switch for our electric power in homes, factories, and vehicles?
The hype articles on Tesla usually rarely ask this question let alone answer it.

The naive answer is that we won't be dependent as long as we have a conventional power grid as a back up for renewable energy sources using litium battery storage. But this ignores the fact that having conventional backup is costly and probably will not remain adequate as demand for conventional declines over time as demand for conventional power fades. The hope is that new technologies such as fusion and inexpensive hydrogen will come on line soon enough to limit our dependency on China for lithium. But bringing these newer technologies online will take decades and lots of investment capital after the new discoveries take place.

I can now fully power all my electricity needs with my big generator and a large underground propane tank. But this is certainly not an cost-effective alternative at this point in time when the power grid is working. A nearby hotel has 15 solar panels and will now consider the new Tesla batteries for energy storage. But if all the hotels in the USA do the same thing we become increasingly dependent upon the Chinese controlling the supply of lithium.

Selfishly, most of us in New Hampshire are fighting the Northern Pass proposal to cross New Hampshire with ugly 80-foot towers that will link Quebec hydro with heavy power users south of New Hampshire. The new Tesla batteries weaken the argument for the Northern Pass towers ---

Hooray for Tesla!

Hi Gordon,

About 85% of the world's known reserves of lithium are in China and Chile. Lithium mining requires lots of labor and a high environmental risks. China has the most low-cost labor availability, but China's more apt to to game politically if as the USA becomes increasingly dependent upon lithium and other rare earth metals  for energy storing.

My point is that the USA has become relatively independent in terms of natural gas, but will become highly dependent on what is tantamount to a relatively small oligopoly of other nations for rare earth materials needed for Elon Musk's Gigafactory. I do support massive USA investments in solar power, but reliance upon batteries for energy storage is both an economic and political worry.

And when you think about it dependency on Elon Musk's Gigafactory in itself is becoming more and more like a battery monopoly --- not generally a good thing in terms of economics. Elon Musk himself admits that rare earth minerals may greatly limit the production of electric cars for the future unless there are newer breakthroughs reducing the dependency on such commodities.

Tesla's Gigafactory materials need will change the global economy for cobalt, graphite and lithium ---

Tesla Motors Inc.'s planned Gigafactory battery plant is not just the biggest project that founder Elon Musk has ever attempted. It's also not just the largest manufacturing project planned in the U.S. right now.

It's a historically massive undertaking that could change the economics of the battery industry overnight — something that becomes clear when you look at the gobsmacking mass of raw materials the facility must consume to reach Tesla's ambitious production goals.

Those are the conclusions of a yet-to-be-released report by Industrial Minerals Data, a research firm that focuses on raw materials used for industrial processes. Industrial Minerals analysts took a look at the potential market impact of the Gigafactory on three key minerals: Lithium, graphite, and cobalt.

Those aren't the only things the Gigafactory needs, mind you, but those minerals are particularly interesting because they're currently considered "niche" materials. Unlike, say, copper foil — which Tesla will also need a lot of — cobalt, lithium and graphite are not mined in massive quantities and they aren't widely traded as commodities. If you need lithium to build something, for example, you need to make a deal with a mine or a chemical company that has a deal with a mine; there's not a true, liquid market for the commodity.

Consequently, a big change in demand can move the needle quite a bit — as is the case with the Gigafactory. That means the Gigafactory's needs will ripple through the raw materials markets, potentially affecting all makers of lithium-ion batteries and the gadgets that run on them. Musk in turn has said how much he has riding on the success of the Gigafactory. If the Gigafactory doesn't come online on schedule, he'll face production delays for Tesla's electric vehicles.

Take his need for graphite, which Tesla will need to buy in bulk. According to the Industrial Minerals Data report, the Gigafactory running at full capacity (using today's technology) will consume 126,000 metric tons of raw graphite a year, in a highly refined version called "spherical graphite." (It takes that much to make the 50,000 metric tons of battery grade graphite Tesla needs.) That's about 34 percent world's current supply of graphite — about 375,000 metric tons — just for the one facility.

The addition of the Gigafactory, then, will spike the world's demand for battery-grade graphite by 152 percent by the analysts' math. To keep up with that demand, nine new graphite mines would have to be opened if Tesla's graphite hunger is to be fed by mining. Tesla didn't immediate respond to emails seeking comment on the report.

The rub, of course, is that graphite is just carbon and can be obtained through any number of methods beyond just digging it out of the ground — it's a bi-product of steel production, for example, or it could be repurposed from coal mines. But the world's supply today mostly comes from cheap flake graphite mined in China that is more easily and cheaply turned into battery-grade graphite.

That means that converting to another supply would add cost — not a good thing when UBS analysts peg 76 percent of the price of one of Tesla's battery packs coming from materials costs and the stated goal of the factory is to reduce battery pack cost by 30 percent.

Cobalt is another interesting mineral. According to the report, Tesla needs about 7,000 metric tons of cobalt at full capacity, which compares to a worldwide supply today of about 110,000 metric tons.

But that number hides an unfortunate truth — 55 percent of the world's cobalt comes from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, meaning that Tesla will be working from a smaller supply if it wants to avoid the Congo entirely. It also puts the project at risk to price shocks if unrest in the region disrupts worldwide supply.

And finally there's lithium. The Gigafactory will need about a fifth of the world's supply — 25,000 metric tons per year compared with a worldwide supply of 125,000 metric tons per year. Supplying the Gigafactory is expected to raise demand in the battery industry by about 50 percent, and demand in the overall market by 20 percent.

That's a large number, but it looks all the more daunting when you consider Musk's commitment to source his lithium in North America. Roughly 54 percent of the world's lithium comes from mines in Chile. The U.S., by contrast, currently has only one mine (although it IS close to one of the proposed Gigafactory sites in Nevada).

Bottom line, if the Gigafactory gets built, it will shift the global economy for these minerals by itself — and there might be a materials squeeze if suppliers don't start ramping up to address that soon.

From the Scout Report on May 1, 2015

Scalar --- http://scalar.usc.edu/scalar/ 

For many users, Scalar is the next step in digital, online, open source writing. It combines the functionality of a blog with the focus and length of an e-book. It also enables authors - even relatively un-techy authors - to assemble videos, infographics, music, and other media from around the web, easily, conveniently, and seamlessly. While the service seeks to strike a balance between standardization and flexibility, most beginners will find the templates and platforms easy to approach (more experienced developers may wish to move on to truly open source sites where they can design to their hearts' content). To understand what Scalar is capable of, readers might like to scroll through the featured projects on the homepage. In addition, selecting Learn More navigates to a four-minute video that explains the intricacies of the platform. Registering an account with Scalar is simple; all that is required is an email address. So, for readers who are looking for fresh ways to publish web-based content, Scalar is definitely worth checking out.

U.N. Ranks Happiest Countries
This Country Is the Happiest in the World

These Are the Happiest Countries in the World

Get Happy in the world’s happiest countries

The Path to Happiness: Lessons From the 2015 World Happiness Report

Money really does buy happiness, in one map

World Happiness Report 2015

From the Scout Report on May 8, 2015

Tesla Unveils New Lithium-Ion Battery to Power Homes
Tesla unveils batteries to power homes

Will Tesla's battery change the energy market?

Tesla Battery Economics: On the Path to Disruption

Tesla's New Battery Will Make Lithium Ion the Next AA

Who Is Tesla's Home Battery For?

What backing up your home with Tesla's battery might be like

"Don’t mistake a stronger rouble for a Russian economic recovery," The Economist, May 2, 2015  ---

. . .

Nonetheless, the rouble’s strength is a puzzle, since in many ways the Russian economy looks worse than it did in December. Inflation, at 16.9%, is 5.6 percentage points higher, a jump that would normally spur depreciation. Real wages are tumbling fast. The foreign-exchange reserves of the CBR have fallen by about $30 billion so far this year, and by $130 billion since this time last year. The IMF thinks that the economy will shrink by 4% in 2015—and it is a relative optimist.

Economic fundamentals cannot explain the rouble’s strength, but the CBR’s behaviour may do. Last year, as the rouble collapsed, it launched a $50 billion scheme to lend dollars to companies at a concessionary rate. That was especially useful in December, when Russian firms faced a mound of debt repayments. This year Russian firms, with fewer foreign bills to pay, have used the cheap dollars to invest in much higher-yielding Russian assets, says Timothy Ash of Standard Bank. The effect has been to bolster the rouble and other Russian assets. On April 20th, however, the CBR put a stop to this “carry trade” by making the loans more expensive, halting the rouble’s appreciation.

What next for the volatile currency? Things do not look good. Russian firms still have around $100 billion of external debt maturing this year. Since the rouble remains weak, and their cash reserves have dwindled, repayment may be difficult. Wonks at Capital Economics, a consultancy, think that the Russian state will have to help out again. However, Anders Aslund of the Peterson Institute, a think-tank, estimates that the CBR only has about $150 billion of liquid foreign-exchange reserves at its disposal. Add in a big government deficit and high capital outflows, and within a few months reserves will be much lower. The Kremlin may then be tempted to try to pay off foreign debt by printing roubles to buy foreign currency. If that happens, expect much more upheaval.


Political Correctness --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness

Slavoj Žižek Calls Political Correctness a Form of “Modern Totalitarianism” ---

Bob Jensen's threads on political correctness ---

Report: Harvard Faculty Supports Democrats a Whopping 96% of the Time --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on Liberal Bias Among Higher Education Faculty ---

Devastating photos of California show how bad the drought really is --- 


Jensen Comment
I Agree With This One:  There is such a think as a demand curve
Keep in mind that the water bill usually includes sewer expenses as well
Perhaps water should be priced low for the minimal needs and high for the luxuries
"My California Water Is an Undiluted Bargain:   I pay $.002—two-tenths of a cent—per gallon. Hike the price and raise my incentive to conserve," by Richard McKenzie, The Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2015 ---

The next time you read how the four-year drought has brought on California’s current water crisis, consider how very low water prices speeded up the draining of reservoirs and aquifers.

I live in a nice neighborhood for faculty adjacent to the University of California, Irvine, which is in the epicenter of rain-deprived Southern California. In a drought declared to be “historic,” my neighbors and I pay $1.55 per hundred cubic feet of water, a little more than 748 gallons. In other words, $0.002—two-tenths of a cent—per gallon.

Yes, the price of my water has increased since last summer—it is up 7 cents from $1.48 per hundred cubic feet. My neighbors and I may be “privileged” in that other California residents pay three and four times what we do—but that’s still less than a penny a gallon.

While the obvious effect of extremely low prices is to encourage people to use more water, the less obvious effect is to discourage people from incurring even modest costs to curb water use. For example, dual-flush mechanisms (which use half the water for liquid-waste flushes than solid-waste) can be installed in existing toilets and cost $20 to $40 apiece—a median cost of $90 for three mechanisms for our home, which can be recouped over time with lower water bills.

Continued in article

I don't agree entirely with this one, although some points are well taken.
"Why California’s Drought Was Completely Preventable," by Victor David Hanson, National Review, April 30, 2015 ---

The present four-year California drought is not novel — even if President Barack Obama and California governor Jerry Brown have blamed it on man-made climate change.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California droughts are both age-old and common. Predictable California dry spells — like those of 1929–34, 1976–77, and 1987–92 — are more likely result from poorly understood but temporary changes in atmospheric pressures and ocean temperatures.

What is new is that the state has never had 40 million residents during a drought — well over 10 million more than during the last dry spell in the early 1990s. Much of the growth is due to massive and recent immigration. A record one in four current Californians was not born in the United States, according to the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. Whatever one’s view on immigration, it is ironic to encourage millions of newcomers to settle in the state without first making commensurately liberal investments for them in water supplies and infrastructure.

Sharp rises in population still would not have mattered much had state authorities just followed their forbearers’ advice to continually increase water storage. Environmentalists counter that existing dams and reservoirs have already tapped out the state’s potential to transfer water from the wet areas, where 75 percent of the snow and rain fall, to the dry regions, where 75 percent of the population prefers to reside. But that analysis is incomplete.

Continued in article

Nate Silver Has Egg on His Face (again)
Nate Silver --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nate_Silver

How to Mislead With Statistics
Nate Silver fared terribly in Thursday's UK election: In his pre-election forecast, he gave 278 seats to Conservatives and 267 to Labour. Shortly after midnight, he was forecasting 272 seats for Conservatives and 271 for Labour. But when the sun rose in London on Friday, Conservatives had an expected 329 seats, against Labour's 233.

GIGO --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garbage_in,_garbage_out

What We Got Wrong In Our 2015 U.K. General Election Model ---

No calculations are necessary to see that we missed badly in our forecast of the U.K. election.

Our final forecast was for the Conservatives to win an expected 278 seats (or somewhere in the range of 252-305 seats), Labour to win 267 (240-293), the Scottish National Party 53 (47-57), and the Liberal Democrats 27 (21-33). The actual final results are 330 seats for the Conservatives, 232 for Labour, 56 for the SNP and just eight for the Lib Dems. Even though we took (or at least tried to take) into account the scale of historical poll misses in the U.K., our prediction intervals fell short of including the result for all of these parties except the SNP.

The only thing we can say on our behalf is that in comparative terms, our forecast was middle of the pack, as no one had a good pre-election forecast. Of course the national exit poll, while not as close to the target as in 2010, was far better than any pre-election forecast.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Although the Nate Silver team this time mostly blames bad polling data, in previous election failures (such as when Scott Brown soared in late voting decisions of the public when winning the Senate seat vacated by Ted Kennedy) to nonstationarity of voting preferences as the election gets under way. 

Accountics scientists similarly assume stationarity in questionable circumstances. This point was recently driven home very forcefully by former AAA Presidents Tom Dyckman and Steve Zeff ---


"A Major Trial Lawyer Defeat:  The ‘innovator liability’ theory goes down in Alabama," The Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2015 ---

Kudos to Alabama, which this week shot down a dangerous theory of “innovator liability” that would have let companies be sued over products they didn’t make. On Tuesday the state House voted 86-14 to prevent this latest threat to the American economy.

In January 2013, the Alabama supreme court had a senior moment when it said plaintiff Danny Weeks (Wyeth v. Weeks) could sue Wyeth (since bought by Pfizer ) over side effects from the acid-reflux drug Reglan. Mr. Weeks never took Reglan, opting for the generic version, metoclopramide. Wyeth had sold the rights to Reglan long before Mr. Weeks used the generic medication between 2007 and 2009.

Product liability claims typically require evidence that the company being sued designed, made or sold the product alleged to have done harm. In this case the lawyers tried an end-run by arguing it as a fraud case. On rehearing in August 2014, the Alabama court again bought the snake oil, 6-3, finding liability because the brand-name manufacturer controlled the warning label that doctors and patients say they rely on. That decision broke with more than 100 courts in 30 states and seven federal courts of appeal that have rejected theories of innovator liability.

Continued in article

Mexico's Congress Passes Anti-Corruption Law (yawn here) ---

Jensen Comment
Capital punishment is not allowed in Mexico except in the case where special prosecutors are appointed. The problem with corruption generally arises from inability or unwillingness to enforce laws already on the books. In most of Latin American trying to enforce anti-corruption laws can be very hazardous to health.

I knew that generating electricity via windmills is a tremendous threat to birds.

How Many Birds Do Wind Turbines Really Kill?

If you look around for statistics about bird deaths from wind turbines get you wildly different numbers. Some say just 10,000 birds a year meet their end at the hands (blades) of the wind industry. Others ramp that number up to 600,000. Now, a new study tried to actually use science to estimate.

Of course, they didn't go to each turbine and count how many little feathered bodies they found at the base. Instead, they combed the literature for all the studies they could find on bird deaths, and tried to combine them into an estimate. This meant searching for fun things like “'bird AND wind turbine' with 'collision,' 'mortality,'fatality,' 'carcass,' and 'post-construction.'" And then—even more cheerful—searching all those terms again, but "with 'bird' replaced by 'avian' and 'wildlife'; and 'turbine' replaced by 'farm,' 'facility' and 'energy.'"

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
What I did not know is that generating electricity via solar mirrors can be such a problem for birds as well. But the problem is more easily reduced in the case of solar energy.

. . . the world’s largest concentrated solar project — a “mega-trap” for birds and insects, although the exact number of deaths has been a subject of fiery debate
"Extra Crispy? California Solar Farm Killed 3,500 Birds," by Matt Vespa, Townhall, April 26, 2015 ---

Ivanpah is a $2.2 billion dollar solar energy projected aimed at powering up to 140,000 homes for twice the electrical cost. It also killed 3,500 birds in the first year of its operation (the Desert Sun):

More than 3,500 birds died during the 377-megawatt Ivanpah solar project’s first year of operation, a new report estimates.

Bird deaths were known at the “power tower” project, which is located in San Bernardino County off Interstate 15 just southwest of the Nevada border. But how many was unclear. Even at the 3,504 estimate, the report considers the deaths a “minimal proportion of local, regional, or national populations” of birds.

Ivanpah, the world’s largest concentrated solar project, uses thousands of mirrors that direct sunlight at boilers on top of three 459-foot tall towers, heating a liquid to create steam used to run a turbine. Carlsbad-based NRG Energy operates the Ivanpah project, which it co-owns with Google and Oakland-based BrightSource Energy.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously called Ivanpah — the world’s largest concentrated solar project — a “mega-trap” for birds and insects, although the exact number of deaths has been a subject of fiery debate.

An executive with Abengoa–one of the project’s developers–said the bid death problem is “solvable.”

Continued in article

Brookings: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (links to hundreds of studies) ---

German government poised to tackle healthcare corruption ---

Jensen Comment
Remember the early days of Hitler when the cheap Volkswagon was developed for the workers and the Porsche was the car of preference for the wealthy.  The workers did not seem to matter since the VW was preferred to not having any affordable car or van.  The German health care system today is built somewhat upon the same premise. The "free" national health care plan offers affordable health care to everybody. But private-sector supplemental insurance gives the higher income people access to faster service for such things as body parts replacements. In crowded waiting rooms those with supplemental insurance sometimes move to the front of the line for examinations.

Corruption can of course arise in both public sector health insurance and private health insurance. In the USA the public health insurance fraud pinatas are Medicare and Medicaid. Under Obamacare the private sector plans offer increased fraud opportunities such as the way 90% of the private sector billing errors to ACA private-company insurers are in favor of the hospitals and the insurers must pay the price for billings of $25 for each Aspirin tablet.

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

Jensen Comment
The problem is that we've made the USA Presidency unattainable by honest, truthful, self-sacrificing, bipartisan, and skilled world leaders. To become president these days requires selling your soul to corruption, money, and power.

Where are the clowns?
Don't bother they're here?

Yes, "The Clintons Have Been Disorganized and Greedy," But the Republicans Are Still "the Stupid Party" ---

"Clinton Foundation Failed to Disclose 1,100 Foreign Donations." Bloomberg, April 29. 2015 ---

You Know, It Sure Looks Like Hillary Was Bribed at State ---
Mitt Romney

NYT, WSJ Editorial Boards Hit Clinton Over Foundation Dealings
Matt Vespa  --- http://townhall.com/tipsheet/mattvespa/

"The Clinton Scandal Manual," by Kimberly A. Strassel, The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2015 ---

. . .

The standard operating procedure never changes, however. It is as if the Clintons have—filed within easy reach on a shelf—a book titled “Clinton Scandals for Dummies.”

Chapter One: “Pick Your Spots.” The Clintons flourish in that hazy interface between legal and lawless. Their dealings always stink, but are rarely blatantly or provably (or traceably) corrupt. Consider this week’s news. Yes, tons of donor cash flowed to the Clinton Foundation at the same time Mrs. Clinton’s State Department was greenlighting deals helping those donors. But prove there was a quid pro quo! The Clintons dare you.

They know you likely can’t, since Chapter Two is “Limit Those Paper Trails.” Remember those “misplaced” 1990s documents, but also reread the 2000 report from the House Committee on Government Reform titled “The Failure to Produce [Clinton] White House E-Mails: Threats, Obstruction and Unanswered Questions.” The Clintons learned it took effort to keep documents secret. These days, they make sure there are no documents at all. (Mrs. Clinton, which emails would you like us to delete? Just search for key words “yoga,” “wedding” and “uranium.”)

Chapter Three: “Remember, the Press Has ADD.” Pixar’s “Up” features Dug, a cute dog with a serious attention problem (“squirrel!!!”). This is how the Clintons view the media. Pettable. Unfocused. When caught, the Clinton communications team will issue lofty dismissals—calling charges baseless or old news—and wait for the press to believe it. If it doesn’t, Team Clinton will hold one press conference—a la Mrs. Clinton’s email event—and wait for the media to call the case closed. If it doesn’t, they will change the subject (Hillary is running for president! Squirrel!!!) and wait for the press to lose interest. It often does.

Still, if all else fails, there is Chapter Four: “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy”—or VRWC. Mrs. Clinton’s conspiracy shtick is today a bit of a joke, but it doesn’t make it any less effective. It works to cast any serious investigation of Clinton behavior as a partisan witch hunt, and therefore illegitimate. And it does work. Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is going to jail on dubious claims of trading favors for money. Could an enterprising prosecutor cobble together a similar case against Hillary? Undoubtedly. But no one will for fear of being accused of doing a Republican hit job on the Clintons.

The rest of the book falls under the heading “Stockholm Syndrome,” and consists of tactics for convincing fellow Democrats that the Clinton machine is inevitable. The Democratic Party has for so long been held psychologically hostage to the Clinton scandal factory, a part of it—albeit an aging part—has forgotten there is happy, normal life. So (for now at least) it sticks with its captors.

The question is whether this model, perfected in an earlier age, can hold—especially under the cascade of scandals. Times have changed. There’s more competition in the media these days (blogs, cable, podcasts) and that’s kept pressure on traditional outlets to keep digging into the Clinton Foundation money story. So much so that this week Mrs. Clinton had to escalate to VRWC.

The Democratic Party has changed. It’s now more Obama than Clinton, its left dominated by progressives who didn’t grow up under Hillary, and don’t much like her. They want Elizabeth Warren, and what surely terrifies the Clintons is the potential party explosion were the Massachusetts senator to jump in at this moment of vulnerability. Would it take much to send the party bolting to a fresher female firebrand—without the baggage?

Maybe not, because Mrs. Clinton isn’t putting on the best show. She never had Bill’s political charm, and her years out of elected politics are showing. She looks grim. She looks cautious—hedging her bets, refusing to take positions. She looks out of touch, in the Scooby-Doo van. Mrs. Warren doesn’t have any of these problems.

The most likely scenario is still that the Clintons prevail—the media lets go the stories, the party sticks with the $2.5 billion woman. But as the Clintons replay the scandal script, and keep adding liabilities to Hillary’s campaign, you have to imagine a growing number of Democrats are wondering: what if? The Clintons might, at the very least, want to consider updating that manual.

Clinton Greed ---

Clinton Foundation Spending: ONLY 15% ON CHARITY?

The Federalist (via Drudge) ^ | March 2, 2015 | Sean Davis
When anyone contributes to the Clinton Foundation, it actually goes toward fat salaries, administrative bloat, and lavish travel. Between 2009 and 2012, the Clinton Foundation raised over $500 million dollars according to a review of IRS documents by The Federalist (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008). A measly 15 percent of that, or $75 million, went towards programmatic grants. More than $25 million went to fund travel expenses. Nearly $110 million went toward employee salaries and benefits. And a whopping $290 million during that period — nearly 60 percent of all money raised — was classified merely as “other expenses.” ...

Hillary Clinton's Campaign Isn't Answering Questions About Sketchy Clinton Foundation Donations ---

New York Times reporter has accused Bill Clinton of trying to deny meeting linked to 'Clinton Cash' scandals ---

Yes, "The Clintons Have Been Disorganized and Greedy," But the Republicans Are Still "the Stupid Party" ---

Jensen Comment
The problem is that we've made the USA Presidency unattainable by honest, truthful, self-sacrificing, bipartisan, and skilled world leaders. To become president these days requires selling you soul to corruption, money, and power.

Where are the clowns?
Don't bother they're here?

I'm glad I'm not young anymore!

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

How to Mislead With Statistics
How Much Income is Taxed Around the World

Jensen Comment
There is some argument for comparing a given nation's income tax rate over time. Most nations have much lower top rates since the 1970s. Many lowered the average rates since the beginning of the 21st Century ---

Comparing income tax rates between any two different countries is almost impossible. Firstly, the definition of "income" may vary greatly, especially income that is not taxed such as muni bond interest is not taxed at the federal level in the USA. Secondly, nations vary greatly with respect to deductions in arriving at taxable income. Thirdly nations vary greatly in terms of preferences for income tax deferrals. In the USA the top 20% of the income earners pay about 80% of the income taxes. This is not the case in most other nations where the middle and lower earners bear some of the income tax burden..

Comparing taxes for different nations must consider all types of taxes. For example, the USA has no VAT tax that tends to increase prices of goods and services in other nations, particularly in Europe.

Comparing taxes for different nations should consider the goods and services that these taxes pay for. For example, the USA has only a partial national health care system (Medicare and Medicaid plus ACA subsidies) whereas many other nations have much broader national health care coverage of varying scope and quality.  Some nations provide totally free higher education and control the costs by only allowing a relatively small percentage of the students go to college. Other nations like the USA have nearly universal higher education and training opportunity that is only partly subsidized with taxes.

Many nations are able to tax less because they live under the umbrella of a neighboring country that pays for most of the national defense. The USA spends a lot defending other nations like South Korea and most nations to the north and south of the USA.

America’s Politicized Tax Enforcement Is a Harbinger of Decline
Victor Davis Hansen, Stanford University
National Review, May 7, 2015

. . .

Increasingly in the United States, the degree to which a law is enforced — or whether a person is indicted — depends on political considerations. But when citizens do not pay any income taxes, or choose not to pay taxes that they owe and expect impunity, a complex society unwinds.

And when the law has becomes negotiable, civilization utterly collapses

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals. 

Read more at:


Don't hold your breath for those Clinton-Sanders debates
First wait to see if Paul Krugman endorses Bernie
"Vermont’s Independent Senator Bernie Sanders Confirms 2016 Run as Democrat," by David Gram, Time Magazine, April 29, 2015 ---

. . .

The self-described “democratic socialist” enters the race as a robust liberal alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton, and he pledged to do more than simply raise progressive issues or nudge the former secretary of state to the left in a campaign in which she is heavily favored.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Sanders voting record in Congress is somewhat inconsistent when compared with his  rhetoric ---

. . .

Although Sanders may have once been a socialist back in the 80s when he was Mayor of Burlington, today, a socialist he is not. Rather he behaves more like a technofascist disguised as a liberal, who backs all of President Obama’s nasty little wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. Since he always “supports the troops,” Sanders never opposes any defense spending bill. He stands behind all military contractors who bring much-needed jobs to Vermont.

Continued in article

The 5 biggest policy differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton ---

. . .

5) Spending: Sanders wants big spending

Most Democrats would love to increase federal spending on their favorite policy priorities. But mainstream politicians in the party have recently tended to embrace messaging about fiscal discipline. Clinton — wary of being tarred as a big-spending Democrat, like her husband was in the beginning of his administration — is one of them, generally proposing that increases in spending would be paid for by other spending cuts or tax hikes.

Not Sanders. His speeches are filled with calls for dramatic increases in government spending. Pay for the first two years of college at any public university! Spend $1 trillion on infrastructure! Move to single-payer health care!

Overall, he downplays the deficit as a problem, as his appointment of Stephanie Kelton as the top Democratic economist on the budget committee shows. "She thinks that, in many cases, government surpluses are actively destructive and balancing the budget is very dangerous," writes Dylan Matthews. When Sanders does discuss pay-fors, he talks about cutting defense or hiking taxes on the wealthy (not the middle class).

As on health care, though, the differences here might not matter that much in the end. Congress tends not to support big new liberal spending programs — either because the taxes require to fund them are too high, because they don't want to increase the deficit too much, or because they prefer to increase the deficit in other ways.

Notably, this is why Vermont's single-payer plan was tanked. The state only funded $2.7 billion worth of programs in taxes each year, but it ended up needing $2.5 billion more for single-payer. As Sarah Kliff reported, they couldn't come up with the moneythe tax increase required to enact it would have been gigantic — so they scrapped the plan.



"One-Third Drop Obamacare in California," by Michael Reagan, Newsmax, April 26, 2015 ---

. . .

The truth is (there’s that word again), over one–third of Covered California policyholders dropped their insurance altogether.

Attkisson contends this is one of the worst retention rates in the nation. And for those poor souls who are still at the mercy of Covered California, the situation doesn’t get any better, 84 percent of the policyholders will be paying increased premiums in 2015.

Continued in article

From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on April 27, 2015

Pharmaceutical companies buy rivals’ drugs, then jack up the prices
More pharmaceutical companies are buying up drugs they see as undervalued, and then raising their prices. The WSJ’s Jonathan D Rockoff and Ed Silverman report that the trend is one of a number of tactics being employed by pharmaceutical firms. Companies also regularly raise prices of their own older medicines while demanding high fees for new treatments, driving up the cost of drugs in the process. Since 2008, branded-drug prices have increased 127%, compared with an 11% rise in the consumer price index, according to drug-benefits manager Express Scripts Holding Co.

"Overkill An avalanche of unnecessary medical care is harming patients physically and financially. What can we do about it?" by Atul Gawande, The New Yorker, May 11, 2015 ---

It was lunchtime before my afternoon surgery clinic, which meant that I was at my desk, eating a ham-and-cheese sandwich and clicking through medical articles. Among those which caught my eye: a British case report on the first 3-D-printed hip implanted in a human being, a Canadian analysis of the rising volume of emergency-room visits by children who have ingested magnets, and a Colorado study finding that the percentage of fatal motor-vehicle accidents involving marijuana had doubled since its commercial distribution became legal. The one that got me thinking, however, was a study of more than a million Medicare patients. It suggested that a huge proportion had received care that was simply a waste.

The researchers called it “low-value care.” But, really, it was no-value care. They studied how often people received one of twenty-six tests or treatments that scientific and professional organizations have consistently determined to have no benefit or to be outright harmful. Their list included doing an EEG for an uncomplicated headache (EEGs are for diagnosing seizure disorders, not headaches), or doing a CT or MRI scan for low-back pain in patients without any signs of a neurological problem (studies consistently show that scanning such patients adds nothing except cost), or putting a coronary-artery stent in patients with stable cardiac disease (the likelihood of a heart attack or death after five years is unaffected by the stent). In just a single year, the researchers reported, twenty-five to forty-two per cent of Medicare patients received at least one of the twenty-six useless tests and treatments.

Could pointless medical care really be that widespread? Six years ago, I wrote an article for this magazine, titled “The Cost Conundrum,” which explored the problem of unnecessary care in McAllen, Texas, a community with some of the highest per-capita costs for Medicare in the nation. But was McAllen an anomaly or did it represent an emerging norm? In 2010, the Institute of Medicine issued a report stating that waste accounted for thirty per cent of health-care spending, or some seven hundred and fifty billion dollars a year, which was more than our nation’s entire budget for K-12 education. The report found that higher prices, administrative expenses, and fraud accounted for almost half of this waste. Bigger than any of those, however, was the amount spent on unnecessary health-care services. Now a far more detailed study confirmed that such waste was pervasive.

I decided to do a crude check. I am a general surgeon with a specialty in tumors of the thyroid and other endocrine organs. In my clinic that afternoon, I saw eight new patients with records complete enough that I could review their past medical history in detail. One saw me about a hernia, one about a fatty lump growing in her arm, one about a hormone-secreting mass in her chest, and five about thyroid cancer.

To my surprise, it appeared that seven of those eight had received unnecessary care. Two of the patients had been given high-cost diagnostic tests of no value. One was sent for an MRI after an ultrasound and a biopsy of a neck lump proved suspicious for thyroid cancer. (An MRI does not image thyroid cancer nearly as well as the ultrasound the patient had already had.) The other received a new, expensive, and, in her circumstances, irrelevant type of genetic testing. A third patient had undergone surgery for a lump that was bothering him, but whatever the surgeon removed it wasn’t the lump—the patient still had it after the operation. Four patients had undergone inappropriate arthroscopic knee surgery for chronic joint damage. (Arthroscopy can repair certain types of acute tears to the cartilage of the knee. But years of research, including randomized trials, have shown that the operation is of no help for chronic arthritis- or age-related damage.)

Continued in a very long article

Jensen Comment
Twice my wife was sent from the ER to a night in intensive care when my own suspicions were that she really did not have to spend one night in the hospital let alone the very expensive ICU unit. I think that sometimes ER doctors in small hospitals support the ICU units and the CAT Scan or MRI Scan units beyond what is called for in the science  of medicine. It might be argued that such expensive prescriptions are shields against ambulance-chasing lawyers, but I think in many cases the small hospitals just need more revenues to support unused capacity investments.

"The ‘Michigan Model’ for Malpractice Reform A communication and resolution program reduced claims by 36%," by Allen Kachalia And Sanjay Saint, The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2015 ---

Doctors have many tests and procedures to choose from when treating you. But is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

It is. Overuse and waste in medical care—which include ordering more tests and treatment than scientific evidence supports—make up as much as 30% of health-care spending according to a 2013 Institute of Medicine report. That’s approximately $750 billion a year, which we all pay for in premiums and taxes to support Medicare and other insurance programs.

A massive new effort to eliminate wasteful spending has begun. This year the Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to pay doctors and hospitals more for quality, not quantity. Private insurers are likely to follow suit.

We recently published findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine from a national survey of hospitalists—physicians who primarily treat patients in the hospital setting—that sheds some light on how medical tests and treatments are overused, and how often.

We asked hospital doctors to imagine two common patient scenarios—a cardiac evaluation before surgery and a patient who suddenly loses consciousness—and asked what they thought most of their colleagues in their hospital would do. Evidence-based guidelines exist for both scenarios.

More often than not, the hospital doctors said that their colleagues would choose the option that meant overuse of testing—not because of a lack of awareness of the guidelines, but to reassure themselves or their patients. This unwarranted testing and treatment can lead to medical complications.

Continued in article

The Texas Model
Texas voters initiated a change in the constitution that caps punitive damages.

"Canadian Malpractice Insurance Takes Profit Out Of Coverage," by Jane Akre, Injury Board, July 28, 2009 ---
Click Here

The St. Petersburg Times takes a look at the cost of insurance in Canada for health care providers.

A neurosurgeon in Miami pays about $237,000 for medical malpractice insurance. The same professional in Toronto pays about $29,200, reports Susan Taylor Martin.

A Canadian orthopedic surgeon pays just over $10,000 for coverage that costs a Miami physician $140,000. An obstetrician in Canada pays $36,353 for insurance, while a Tampa Bay obstetrician pays $98,000 for medical malpractice insurance.

Why the difference?

In the U.S., private for-profit insurance companies extend medical malpractice coverage to doctors.

In Canada, physicians are covered through membership in a nonprofit. The Canadian Medical Protective Association offers substantially reduced fees for the same coverage, especially considering that their payout is limited by caps in Canada just as in some U.S. states.

In 1978, the Canadian Supreme Court limited pain and suffering awards to just over $300,000, circumventing the opportunity for a jury to decide on an award depending on the case before them.

Canadian Medical Protective Association

Here’s how it works.

Fees for membership vary depending on the region of the country in which the doctor works and their specialty. All neurosurgeons in Ontario will pay the same, for example. The number of claims they have faced for medical malpractice does not figure into their premium

"We don't adjust our fees based on individual experience; it's the experience of the group,'' says Dr. John Gray, the executive director, "That's what the mutual approach is all about, and it helps keep the fees down for everyone,” he tells the St. Petersburg Times.

If a doctor is sued, the group pays the claim and provides legal counsel.

In the U.S., the push has been on for limiting claims, no matter how egregious the medical malpractice. President Obama was booed in June when, before the American Medical Association, he said he would not limit a malpractice jury award.

"We got a crazy situation where Obama is talking about the cost of medicine but he said, 'I don't believe in caps,' " complains Dr. Dennis Agliano, past president of the Florida Medical Association. "If you don't have caps, the sky's the limit and there's no way to curtail those costs.''

But the importance of limiting jury awards may not play into the big picture on health care reform.

Malpractice lawsuits amount to less than one percent of both the Canadian and the U.S. healthcare system, meanwhile between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die each year due to medical errors in hospitals alone, while 16 times as many suffer injuries without receiving any compensation, reports the group Americans for Insurance Reform.

Major Difference

In Canada, an injured patient is often required to pay for the initial investigation into his case. In the U.S. the contingency fee basis, usually in the range of 30 percent, allows the injured party to proceed without a financial downside.

In both the U.S. and Canada, the definition of medical negligence is that a duty of care was owed to the patient by the physician, there was a breach h of the standard of care and the patient suffered harm by the physician’s failure to meet that standard of care.

A bad outcome in itself is not the basis of a lawsuit.

The Canadian Medical Protective Association insures virtually all of the country’s 76,000 doctors, as opposed to the U.S. where private for-profit insurance companies cover physicians for medical malpractice.

In Canada, the median damaged paid in 2007 was $91,999 and judgments favored patients 25 times, doctors 70 times.

In the U.S., many physician groups are requiring patients to waive their rights to a jury trial, even though malpractice litigation accounts for just 0.6 percent of healthcare costs.

Public Citizen, the consumer group, charges that the facts don’t warrant the “politically charged hysteria surrounding medical malpractice litigation.”

For the third straight year, medical malpractice payments were at record lows finds the group in a study released this month. The decline, however, is likely due to fewer injured patients receiving compensation, not improved health safety.

2008 saw the lowest number of medical malpractice payments since the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank began compiling malpractice statistics. In 2008, payments were 30.7 percent lower than averages recorded in all previous years.

In the report titled, The 0.6 Percent Bogeyman, the nonprofit watchdog group states, “between three and seven Americans die from medical errors for every 1 who receives a payment for any type of malpractice claim.”

Public Citizen previously reported that about five percent of doctors are responsible for half of the medical malpractice in the U.S. that can result in permanent injury or death. #

Read more:


Jensen Comment
I'm in favor of fully-funded health care reform that completely nationalizes health insurance phased in reasonably with high tax pay-as-you-go restriction and strict cost-saving caps on punitive damage lawsuits. I really favor former Senator Bill Bradley's long-forgotten Canada-like proposal:

The bipartisan trade-off in a viable health care bill is obvious: Combine universal coverage with malpractice tort reform in health care. Universal coverage can be obtained in many ways — including the so-called public option. Malpractice tort reform can be something as commonsensical as the establishment of medical courts — similar to bankruptcy or admiralty courts — with special judges to make determinations in cases brought by parties claiming injury. Such a bipartisan outcome would lower health care costs, reduce errors (doctors and nurses often don’t report errors for fear of being sued) and guarantee all Americans adequate health care. Whenever Congress undertakes large-scale reform, there are times when disaster appears certain — only to be averted at the last minute by the good sense of its sometimes unfairly maligned members. What now appears in Washington as a special-interest scrum could well become a triumph for the general interest. But for that to happen, the two parties must strike a grand bargain on universal coverage and malpractice tort reform. The August recess has given each party and its constituencies a chance to reassess their respective strategies. One result, let us hope, may be that Congress will surprise everyone this fall.
Bill Bradley, "Tax Reform’s Lesson for Health Care Reform," The New York Times, August 30, 2009 ---



Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on medicine ---

The Atlantic: Health: Family --- http://www.theatlantic.com/health/category/family/

Bob Jensen's Tidbits Archives ---

Bob 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 conclusions ---

Bob Jensen's threads on auditor professionalism and independence are at

Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at


Shielding 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

Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave  --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm
By Bob Jensen

What went wrong in accounting/accountics research?  ---

The Sad State of Accountancy Doctoral Programs That Do Not Appeal to Most Accountants ---


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/