Tidbits Political Quotations
To Accompany the January 14, 2016 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen at
Trinity University

Election Information --- http://www.rockthevote.com/get-informed/elections/

Cross-Over Gaming Primary Elections:  Voting for a Sure Loser Rather Than a Candidate That Might Win in a Race to the Botton
Cross-Over Gaming Primary Elections:  Voting for a Sure Loser to Knock Out Winning Candidates
Based upon a comment I heard on CBS News there are signs that the poll support and crowds supporting Donald Trump are largely members of the Democratic Party intent on messing up the Republican Party primary outcomes. These Trump supporters have no intent to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 general election if he should be nominated. Something similar may be happening among the supporters of Bernie Sanders who are really Republicans in sheep white wool.

The USA system of selecting nominees in primary elections that precede general elections possibly are becoming a vicious game.
Election Gaming "Fraud" in Primary Elections in the USA:  Making Sure Your General Election Opponent is a Real Loser

FlackCheck.org --- http://www.flackcheck.org
Headquartered at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, FlackCheck.org offers resources that help students "recognize flaws in arguments in general and political ads in particular"

RealClearPolitics: Election 2016 --- http://www.realclearpolitics.com/elections/2016/

Bloggingheads.tv (political commentary --- http://bloggingheads.tv/

OpenSecrets (money and politics blog) --- https://www.opensecrets.org

It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.

Babe Ruth, Historic Home Run Hitter
And he wasn't even thinking about Jihads in those days but I am thinking Jihads these days

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 you don't know where you're going, you might not get there.
Yogi Berra

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

Neil DeGrasse Tyson's best quotes may make you fall in love with science all over again ---

More than 1,200 Clinton emails now deemed classified ---

The 20 Best Quotes of 2015 ---

The rape allegation against Bill Clinton, explained ---

From Whitewater to Benghazi: A Clinton-Scandal Primer ---
The Atlantic --- http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/tracking-the-clinton-controversies-from-whitewater-to-benghazi/396182/

After they were criticized for taking $190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other gifts with them when they left, the Clintons announced last week that they would pay for $86,000 worth of gifts, or nearly half the amount ---

When Donald Trump’s mostly working-class voters repeatedly said that “he tells the truth,” this is what they were talking about—not any particular Trump outrage but the years of political correctness they felt they’d been forced to choke down in silence.
Daniel Henninger, "
Revolt of the Politically Incorrect:  Donald Trump and Ben Carson popped the valves on decades of pent-up PC pressure" ---

I do not understand the inability or refusal of Republican leaders to take Mr. Trump seriously. He touched an important nerve in opposing the political correctness that has angered the American people for a quarter century. He changed the debate when he asked for a pause in Muslim immigration until America ‘can figure out what’s going on.’ In the age of terror, that looked suspiciously like common sense. Americans do not want America to become what Europe is becoming.
Peggy Noonan --- http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-gop-establishments-civil-war-1452212775?mod=djemMER

Robots to Help Immigrant Children Learn German ---
This leaves us wondering if the robots will also teach English to enable the immigrants to get out of Germany and into the US and the UK.
Will Finnish and Danish robots also teach German and Swedish in an effort to encourage relocation into Germany or Sweden?

This should be an advertisement for planned parenthood ---

Socialism in 20 Quotations ---

She's shoplifted goods worth £2m, has SIX children by four fathers - and lives off benefits ---

Family Earning Over $1 million living in NYC public housing ---

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


Election Gaming "Fraud" in Primary Elections in the USA:  Making Sure Your General Election Opponent is a Real Loser

Table of Contents

Funding Losers

 Communications Juggernauts in Crossover Voting Frauds

Funding Opponent Scandals

Trump part of conspiracy to ensure Clinton presidency ---
Jeb Bush --- http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/dec/8/jeb-bush-suggests-donald-trump-part-of-conspiracy-/
Jensen Question
Is such a conspiracy necessary given the slate of losers running as GOP candidates for President in 2016?

Young Male Immigrants High in Testosterone are Becoming the Lepers of the 21st Century
Europe’s Closing Borders
--- http://www.wsj.com/articles/europes-closing-borders-1452212006?mod=djemMER

Enjoy traveling easily throughout Europe while you can, because who knows how long it will be before you need to show your passport at every border. Sweden this week extended the temporary border checks it has imposed along its boundary with Denmark, and Denmark is imposing spot passport checks at some crossings from Germany.

Such steps are part of an attempt to manage the fallout from Angela Merkel’s open invitation to Middle Eastern refugees in September. Some one million migrants took up the Chancellor’s offer last year, and Germany’s belated efforts to strike an EU-wide deal to share responsibility for processing asylum claims and resettling refugees have gone nowhere. Nor does Turkey appear to be abiding by a November deal under which it was supposed to stanch the refugee flows in exchange for billions of euros.

Instead, those refugees are making their own plans once they reach Europe. Sweden, with its generous welfare state, now has the highest concentration of asylum-seekers relative to its population. Stockholm has been trying to close off every route by which migrants find their way northward.

Denmark joins Finland and Norway in clamping down on its own border to avoid getting stuck with the thousands of asylum-seekers Sweden won’t accept. In the meantime, border controls are still in place between Germany and Austria, and the Austrians have put up a fence along their border with Slovenia.

There’s a political warning here. Voters who otherwise appreciate Europe’s borderless travel within the so-called Schengen Zone will demand controls when their governments cannot manage mass migration or guarantee law and order. Brussels has still done little to impose tightened passport checks for EU nationals returning from places like Syria, and Europe’s external-borders agency Frontex remains chronically underfunded.

Mrs. Merkel may have finally realized the political danger her ill-judged asylum policy has put her in, particularly as allegations of sexual assaults perpetrated by immigrants in Cologne raise questions about whether authorities can maintain basic law and order amid the mass influx. “[T]he Schengen system can only work if there is joint responsibility for taking in refugees and joint responsibility for protecting the external borders,” she said Thursday.

The real issue for Mrs. Merkel and other EU leaders isn’t where the refugees go once they are in Europe. It’s whether Europe can manage its wider borders while doing more to bring order to the political chaos from Libya to Afghanistan that is driving these refugees toward Europe’s beckoning shore. A borderless Europe is still a dream worth having—so long as Europe’s leaders are willing to do the hard work to keep it from descending into a nightmare.

Continued in article

Food Politics --- http://www.foodpolitics.com/

How States Fare in Their Financial Support of Public Higher Ed

Jensen Comment
The graph of "grades" given to the 50 states (by a "left leaning liberal advocacy group") in terms of support of public higher education really surprised me in some instances. For example, I always assumed that the heartland (think Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota) of the USA would get good grades since traditionally those states do relatively quite well on K-12 financial support and performance measures of higher education. Except for North Dakota the higher education public support of education is low in the heartland states according to these liberally-biased biased graders. Similarly, I thought liberal blue states like Vermont, Maine, Oregon, Hawaii, and Massachusetts would get high marks. Instead they have low marks. And the conservative red states of Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Texas have much higher grades than I would have predicted. Go figure!

IRS Scandal Day 979

The case against the IRS for targeting conservatives isn’t over after all. On Tuesday a federal judge in Ohio certified a class-action lawsuit against the IRS by conservative groups whose applications for tax-exempt status were slow-rolled between 2010 and 2013

Continued in article

"Supreme Court Rejects Student Loan Bankruptcy Case," Inside Higher Ed, January 12, 2016 ---

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case on whether people declaring bankruptcy should have an easier time erasing student loan debt in the process, The Wall Street Journal reported. The case was brought by a Wisconsin man with more than $260,000 in student loan debt from business and law school. He twice failed the bar exam. The man argues that lower courts should have allowed him to discharge his debt through bankruptcy. Generally, federal courts have made it difficult to do so, although a few courts have been more lenient.

I have a granddaughter working as a pharmacist in Boston. Loan repayment is taking an enormous bite out of her every paycheck. She's miscalculated by thinking that by now there would be a way for her to not have to repay her student loans for years to come. She would declare bankruptcy in a Boston minute if she had that choice.
What's wrong with the idea of letting students with more debts than assets declare bankruptcy like nearly all other citizens are entitled to do when their debts overwhelm their assets.

First and foremost student load bankruptcy leads to game playing where students borrow more than is really necessary in anticipation that they will never have to replay their loans. This, in turn, can lead to complete ruination of the student loan programs.

Parents will view student bankruptcy as an opportunity to not have to sacrifice their own wealth for educating their children.

Maybe Bernie Sanders will be elected and taxpayers will be forced to provide a free education to any USA citizen who requests a free education. But funding for this will have to be legislated like all other government funding programs.

Free college education for anybody who wants it should not bypass the legislative process with bankruptcy game playing.

Sure there can be game playing with bankruptcy for non-student loans. But this has not ruined the financing of consumers and businesses. Bankruptcy can ruin student loan programs unless the government picks up the losses in a way that is legislated by due process.

How States Fare in Their Financial Support of Public Higher Ed

"Clinton, Sanders Debate College Plans," Inside Higher Ed, December 54, 2015 ---

OECD Study Published in 2014:  List of countries by 25- to 34-year-olds having a tertiary education degree ---

Jensen Comment
Note that nations having free college and other tertiary education and training programs such as Germany and Finland control costs by having severe rationing of admissions into Tier 3 from Tier 2 (what in the USA is called high school). Nations having the highest proportion graduates from Tier 3 do not offer free education and training programs, contrary to what Bernie Sanders would like us to think while he campaigns of for free college education in the USA for anybody who wants to go to college.

I mistakenly thought all Scandinavian countries had free tertiary education, but subsequently it was pointed out to me that Sweden does not have free tertiary education like its Nordic counterparts.

The point is that nations having no price barriers to tertiary education at the Tier 3 level control taxpayer cost via severe rationing via admission barriers.


20 award-winning editorial cartoons from 2015 everyone should see ---
Jensen Comment
They had me in mind with the data mining cartoon.

"Our 47 Weirdest Charts From 2015," by Andrei Scheinkman, Nate Silver's 5:38 Blog, December 31, 2015 ---

"New Treasury Data Shows How Progressive America's Tax Code Really Is," by Paul Caron, TaxProf Blog, January 5, 2016 ---

Recent data produced by Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis shows that not only is the income tax very progressive, but so too is the overall tax system when we include payroll taxes, corporate income taxes, and various excise taxes.

Treasury’s data for 2015 [found here] allows us to look at two simple ways of measuring the progressivity of the tax code: the share of the total tax burden borne by families at each level of income; and, the average tax rates paid by families at each level of income.

The Treasury data is comprehensive, in that it includes all roughly 167 million families (rather than just the 145 million income tax filers) and it uses a broader “cash” measure of income that includes government transfers in addition to wages, salaries, and investment income. Treasury divides the population into deciles, or ten equal groups of 16.7 million families.

Continued in article

"Electric car subsidies are hated by economists, loved by activists. Why?" by David Roberts, Vox, December 31, 2015 ---

Jensen Comment
The main argument in the above article is that the benefits of electric car subsidies are overblown and in reality are well below the societal cost of such subsidies. In most instances they are welfare to the wealthy who are not really deserving of such welfare.

To these complaints we might add that there are subsidies other than electric car purchase price rebates that have become an irritant to other other car owners. For example, in nearly all states electric car owners pay nothing toward road building and road maintenance. It makes them free loaders on the drivers who must pay for the roads.  The subsidies encourage commuters to avoid public transportation like rail and bus service into cities, thereby clogging overcrowded highways and parking garages.

Since the range is so limited families have added one or more electric cars to the fleet rather than just replace gas guzzlers with electric cars.

The need for lithium and other rare-earth metals makes the USA more strategically vulnerable to "extortion" by nations who have the raw material and low labor costs needed for mining, especially China.

There are, of course, long term hopes. We hope that increased used of electric cars will improve technology, performance, and efficiency much like increased use of propeller aircraft contributed to the development of amazing and increasingly efficient jet aircraft. But at the same time such improvements led to the demise of alternative transportation such as passenger rail service that we now wish we still had in the USA.

How to Mislead With Statistics
"The 50 Colleges Where Students Work the Hardest," by Emmie Martin, Business Insider, December 29, 2015 ---

Jensen Comment
This article really does not provide evidence that students work harder at these 50 colleges and universities relative to other universities.

The list includes 50 top universities with a bend toward private universities such as Ivy League-type universities and expensive liberal arts colleges like Swarthmore. If Ms. Martin had said that the students are suspected of working hard because they were admitted to these colleges that mostly are very hard to get into I might be inclined to agree that they had a great work ethic before being admitted. But this does not mean that they work harder if getting A grades is relatively easy after being admitted. In fact I would hypothesize that students going to other top universities who were not able to get into the 50 colleges above worked harder to prove themselves in college.

However, it's not clear that these students work as hard as the students in these colleges work as hard today as the students in these same universities worked 60 years ago when there was much, much greater competition for grades. Grade inflation in most of these universities (I think virtually all) is the most pronounced among all universities ---
If the median grade in most courses is A- these days students do not have to work as hard for top grades as years ago when these courses in these same universities had median grades of C.

To my knowledge Princeton University is the only university in the above list that made a concerted effort to limit the number of A grades given in most courses. However, after Harvard tried to lure applicants to Princeton away, with promises of easier A grades at Harvard, Princeton dropped its effort to limit the percentage of A grades in courses.

We may think students work harder in prestigious universities but in a five-year study of publishing over 800,000 course grades at Cornell University it was discovered that students flocked to instructors who gave the highest percentage of A grades rather than those who made students work harder for A grades.

The bottom line is that  Emmie Martin in no way convinced me that students of those 50 grade-inflated universities work the hardest. I think they may work the least when grades are easier to get such as at Harvard. Harvard University expelled over 60 students who cheated (plagiarized) each others' work on an assignment in a political science course where the instructor promised everybody an A grade if they simply did the assignments and took the examinations. When assured of an A grade they reasoned that doing the work would not be worth the effort since doing the work well would not improve their grades ---

My Hypothesis: 
Students do not work the hardest in grade-inflated universities. There are some exceptions of course. Even pre-med students at the Ivy League students work their butts off in science courses even when they are assured of getting A grades, because they know they will one day have to take a very competitive MCAT admissions test for medical school. The same applies to engineering, accounting, and other students in majors that have licensing examinations after graduation.

"How North Korea Became the World’s Worst Economy," by Nicholas Eberstadt, The Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2015 ---

. . .

North Korea appears to have the very worst business climate of any fully functioning nation state. On the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom compiled by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, the DPRK earned one point out of 100, the lowest score of all 179 countries ranked. Zimbabwe, the state with the second-worst ranking that year, came in 20 points higher.

The DPRK has no rule of law; no established property rights; no possibility for private foreign trade; no reliable currency; virtually no official social and economic information; and no internal constraints whatever upon its monumentally ambitious government.

It is difficult to overstate how much this matters. At any point in the postwar era, 80% or more of the differences between countries in per capita GDP can be predicted by human resources plus business climate (i.e., institutions and policies). Statistical analysis of North Korean trade underscores the point. In 2010 the DPRK’s global trade was only 1/20th of what we would expect for a country with its estimated human resources profile. However, when business climate is considered, North Korea no longer looks like an outlier at all.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
It's scary that North Korea will eventually be sustaining itself with exports of WMDs or extortion threats of exporting WMDs to terrorist nations. Much depends on the willingness of China to limit these exports since China seems to be the only nation with leverage on North Korea.

"More Flawed Partisan Analysis by Paul Krugman,"  by Daniel J. Mitchell, Townhall, December 30, 2015 ---

When I get my daily email from the editorial page of the New York Times, I scroll through to see whether there’s anything on economic issues I should read.

As a general rule, I skip over Paul Krugman’s writings because he’s both predictable and partisan. But every so often, his column will grab my attention, usually because the headline will include an assertion that doesn’t make sense.

The bad news is that this is usually a waste of time since most of his columns are ideological rants. But the good news is that I periodically catch Krugman making grotesque errors when he engages in actual analysis. Here are a few examples:

And if you enjoyed those examples, you can find more of the same by clicking here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

But perhaps he’s (sort of) learning from his mistakes. Today, we’re going to look at Paul Krugman’s latest numbers and I’ll be the first to say that they appear to be accurate.

Continued in article

Tax-Deductible Corporate Settlements Have Cost the U.S. Billions in Tax Revenue ---

Clinton and Sanders and MSNBC Will Likely Ignore This Revised Academic Study of Inequality
'What top researchers discovered when they re-ran the numbers on income inequality," by Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post, January 6, 2016 ---

The world's most famous inequality researchers unveiled a new way of adding up the growing gap between the super-rich and everyone else on Tuesday.

The findings by economists Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman and Thomas Piketty, which are preliminary, were hotly anticipated ever since the American Economic Association conference posted a one-paragraph summary of their results ahead of the event in San Francisco. "In contrast to survey and individual tax data, we find substantial increase in average real pre-tax incomes for the bottom 90% since the 1970s," one line in the preview said, potentially suggesting that concerns about a stagnant middle had been overblown.

That summary was greeted with cheers by some conservatives that proof that Democrats, particularly Hillary Clinton, have been wrong to focus on income inequality and middle-class wage stagnation so much.

On Tuesday, the economists said they analyzed inequality trends using a new combination of tax, survey and national accounts data, which the economists say more accurately captures income levels across the population over time. By their analysis, the bottom 90 percent appears to have done better since the late 1970s than previously estimated — but not much better. You can see the trend in the following slide from their presentation.

Continued in article

From a Global Perspective
Here Are the Best- and Worst-Performing Assets of 2015 ---
Jensen Comment
Just goes to show that the best and worst performers are the riskiest

Really rich people are suddenly paying quite a bit more in taxes ---

"Bespoke Tranche Opportunity: It’s déjà vu all over again;  Investment Firms Create the Next Risky Financial Product à la Collateral Debt Obligations," by Steven Mintz, Ethics Sage, December 28, 2015 ---

We’ve been there before. The movie “The Big Short” explains how and why the financial services industry helped to bring down our economy during 2007-2008. Banks took home mortgage loans that were made based on shaky credit and pooled them into a basket of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that were backed by the homes. These were sold to unsuspecting investors including other financial institutions (think Lehman Brothers) that wanted to receive a steady stream of cash flows from mortgage payments. Little did they know the underlying assets were all-too-often worthless because they were based on subprime loans. So the investors hedged their bets by finding a sucker to buy off the MBS through a collateralized debt obligation (CDO). Now, as the movie portrays, these investors grew nervous as some prognosticators preached doom and gloom causing the investors to approach other financial institutions (think AIG) to hedge their risk by betting against the very instruments they bought by acquiring credit default swaps (CDS). Confused! Go see the movie it cleverly explains the process.

That was in the early 2000s as the stock market was booming and financial institutions became greedy wanting higher and higher returns on their investments even if it meant purchasing risky investments. Of course, some weren’t aware of the risk and some figured another financial institution would bail them out, as did JPMorgan Chase that bought out the failing Bear Stearns. Lehman wasn’t as lucky as the government drew a line in the sand as more and more financial institutions teetered on the edge of disaster.

Well, as the great Yogi Berra said: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Along comes the “bespoke tranche opportunity”, which allows investors to place wagers on the outcome of various loans, bonds, and securities in which they are not directly invested. “The “bespoke” version flips that CDO business dynamic around. An investor tells a bank what specific mixture of derivatives bets it wants to make, and the bank builds a customized product with just one tranche that meets the investor’s needs.

Bespoke CDOs are a relatively new instrument in the financial world. They allow investors to target very specific risk/return profiles for their investment strategies or hedging requirements. In reality, the arranger demands a good deal of input into the selection of the reference portfolio. Most investment managers control their risks by buying and selling protection on a single-name CDS or by linking losses to a corporate credit index like the CDX or iTraxx; therefore, they usually avoid taking positions in CDSs that cannot readily be traded.

A logical question is why would investment managers tread lightly in an area similar to one that has burned them before? The answer is that interest rates have been kept low by the Federal Reserve so investment banks are becoming impatient with not being able to make what they deem to be enough profit off corporate and Treasury bonds, and therefore have started playing in the “financially structured product” game.

Continued in article

20 biggest tax-dollar boondoggles in the US ---

Jensen Comment
You can take housing projects out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto (read that crime) out of the housing projects.

Dysfunctional Subsidies
"The Corn-Fed Albatross Called Ethanol," by Merrill Mathews, The Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2016 ---

The renewable fuel has cost drivers an extra $83 billion to fill their tanks since 2007, and it does little or no good for the climate.

In the past two presidential-primary seasons, candidates crisscrossing Iowa before the caucuses would pay obeisance to corn ethanol and its compulsory use in gasoline. Yet in the current campaign, Sen. Ted Cruz reliably sits atop the Iowa polls even though he scoffs at the Renewable Fuel Standard passed by Congress in 2005 and expanded in 2007.

Maybe even Iowans are having second thoughts about a law that has been a boon to corn growers but hardly anyone else. Before long, it may be politically safe to take a wise step and eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This would immediately and dramatically increase the demand for oil, help stabilize energy markets, boost the economy—and likely reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

The RFS requires gasoline to contain a specified level of ethanol—renewable biofuels mostly from corn, but increasingly from other plant and animal substances. The law also requires the Environmental Protection Agency to periodically increase the amount of ethanol that must be used. But raising the amount of ethanol in gasoline past 10% could harm millions of car engines.

The EPA recently decided to increase the total amount of ethanol used from 11.62 billion gallons in 2014 to 18.11 billion gallons for 2016—a decision that made few people happy.

Ethanol producers are angry that the EPA succumbed to economic reality by not raising the requirement as high as they expected. But many environmentalists aren’t happy either, having come to realize that ethanol is an environmental problem, not a solution.

When the RFS was enacted, lawmakers believed that adding ethanol to the national gasoline supply would reduce reliance on oil imports. Today, ethanol’s downsides have become clear.

First, it increases the cost of driving. Current ethanol blends provide fewer miles per gallon, so drivers pay more to travel the same distance. According to the Institute for Energy Research, American drivers have paid an additional $83 billion since 2007 because of the RFS.

Second, ethanol adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than it eliminates by replacing fossil fuels. The Environmental Working Group says that “corn ethanol is an environmental disaster.” The group explains: “The mandate to blend ethanol into gasoline has driven farmers to plow up land to plant corn—40 percent of the corn now grown in the U.S. is used to make ethanol. When farmers plow up grasslands and wetlands to grow corn, they release the carbon stored in the soil, contributing to climate-warming carbon emissions.” And then there is the carbon emitted in harvesting, transporting and processing the corn into ethanol.

The Congressional Budget Office notes that “available evidence suggests that replacing gasoline with corn ethanol has only limited potential for reducing emissions (and some studies indicate that it could increase emissions).”

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Years later environmentalist Al Gore admitted that his activism for ethanol was driven by the need for the farm vote in the Midwest rather than his climate change agenda. It takes more energy to produce corn ethanol than the energy provided by corn ethanol. It's a bit like the benefit/cost ratio of sustaining a 900-lb obese man.

"Three Gems In That Horrible Spending Bill Passed By Republican Congress," by Steve Forbes, Forbes, January 4, 2016 ---

HOUSE SPEAKER Paul Ryan and other Republican congressional leaders are being pilloried by GOP activists for pushing through a $1.15 trillion spending bill laden with pork and a bewildering array of tax credits (including one for plug-in motorcycles). This junks up an already mind-numbingly complex tax code even more. “This is what we get from a Republican-controlled Congress?” they angrily ask.

Alas, with Barack Obama still in the White House, a divided GOP in the House (which gave Democrats bargaining leverage, since their votes were needed for passage) and the specter of a government shutdown if no bill was passed (a fight the GOP wouldn’t win in the court of public opinion, given the fact that Congress is far more unpopular than the President), an ugly piece of legislation was unavoidable.

However, there are three gems in this legislative garbage dump.

One has been widely covered: Removing the four-decades-old ban on oil exports, a relic from an era when it was thought we were running out of the stuff because the price was going up so much. The rapid rise in petroleum prices wasn’t a result of the Arab oil embargo–imposed because we supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War–or of a looming oil shortage. It was a result of the weak dollar. We saw the same phenomenon in the early 2000s, when a weak greenback sent the price of oil from around $25 a barrel to over $100. Repealing this prohibition will help our beleaguered producers land new markets.

The second gem concerns the horrors of ObamaCare. The ban on subsidies for insurance companies that lose money on policies sold on the ObamaCare exchanges has been extended. The start date for the Cadillac tax on “overly rich” health insurance plans has been postponed until 2020, and the medical device tax has been suspended for two years. These are a nice start to dismantling this monstrosity and replacing it with a system under which patients are truly in charge, not third-party payers–government, employers and insurers.

The final gem is one that would appeal to theologians who debate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Making certain tax credits permanent, such as those for research and development, will enable more sweeping tax cuts and tax code simplification in 2017. As the Wall Street Journal noted, “Under Congress’s bizarre budget rules, reducing the tax base now will make it easier for Congress to cut tax rates more deeply … in 2017 …. About $560 billion in ‘extenders’ that expire on paper will be baked into the budget baseline and so won’t require offsetting ‘pay-fors’ to finance lower tax rates. Mr. Ryan is thinking ahead.”

Continued in article

Political Correctness:  Some Things Just Are Not Mentioned on MSNBC of The New York Times

Black Serial Killer: Why the Media Indifference?

Nevada’s reversal of net metering fees for solar owners marks a dramatic turn in the fight over solar policies.
"Battles Over Net Metering Cloud the Future of Rooftop Solar," by Richard Martin, MIT's Technology Review, January 5, 2016 ---

"Can Civility in Society Be Regained? Causes of the the Decline of Civility in America," by Steven Mintz, Ethics Sage, January 12, 2016 ---

Jensen Comment
Having 21st Century politicians as role models and political correctness squabbles are not good for recovery of civility.

How to mislead with statistics
An MBA is Eventually Worth $22,000 More (6-8 years out)  if You're White or Asian:  Is this really the case? ---

For most people, going to business school leads to bigger and bigger paychecks. But you are likely to get the most out of the degree if you are a white or Asian man, Bloomberg data show.

Black, Hispanic, and American Indian MBAs who got their degree six to eight years ago earned exactly as much as their white and Asian peers right after leaving school, according to a Bloomberg survey of 12,700 alumni at more than 100 business schools. In the survey, conducted as part of our annual ranking of full-time MBA programs, both groups said they made a median $105,000 when they graduated.

But by 2015, MBAs who were underrepresented minorities—meaning black, Hispanic, or American Indian—earned $150,000, while white and Asian MBAs made $172,000. Whites and Asians accounted for about 89 percent of alumni in the survey. Underrepresented groups made up 11 percent.

Female MBAs made less money than the men they graduated business school with, but women of color were at a particularly stark disadvantage. Six to eight years after leaving business school, black, Hispanic, and American India women earned a median $132,250. White and Asian men earned $181,000—a pay gap of nearly $49,000. Men from underrepresented minorities earned $163,500—less than white and Asian men but more than white women, who took home $150,000.


Jensen Comment
A good exercise for your students would be to find underlying factors where the difference in average incomes are possibly explained by things other than race and ethnicity per se. For example, .both means and medians are affected by outliers when the outliers for income are zero or nearly zero.

For example, it is well known that women tend to drop out of the job market more than men when they have babies. The lower averages for women can possibly be explained for the mommy zero-imcome phenomenon rather than race per se. This is complicated when the proportions of gender differences differ by race such as when more female African Americans have MBA degrees compare to their male counterparts.

There are so few American Indian MBA alumni I tend to distrust any outcomes for this subset of the sampling population.

There can also be geographic confounding variables. For example, the Asian population in the USA is more in big cities and in western cities. Hispanics are more concentrated in the south. To what extent do geographic differences in salaries earnings complicate the racist conclusions of this study?

Canadians Are Going Loonie on Social Media About Skyrocketing Grocery Bills ---


Finding and Using Health Statistics --- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nichsr/usestats/index.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on economic statistics and databases ---

Tens of Thousands of Physicians in the U.K. Went on Strike Over Pay and Working Conditions ---

No Free Lunch
"ObamaCare’s $1,200 Pay Cut:  The cost of insuring everybody's 26-year-olds is more than you thought," The Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2016 ---

. . .

Among the law’s few popular features, even among Republicans, is the mandate to cover adult children through age 26 on the insurance plans of their parents. This benediction is sold as a gratuity, but somebody must ultimately pay, and new research suggests the hidden costs—in the form of lower take-home pay—are far higher than advertised.

In a working paper, Gopi Shah Goda and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford and Monica Farid of Harvard exploit the fact that some 37 states had extended dependent-coverage mandates of varying rigor and comprehensiveness before the Affordable Care Act. They explore these differences to estimate the results of the uniform national mandate that was imposed in 2010.

“We find evidence that employees who were most affected by the mandate, namely employees at large firms, saw wage reductions of approximately $1,200 per year,” the researchers observe. As a wave of young adults hit the employer-based insurance rolls, the cost of coverage inevitably climbed and businesses were obliged to dial back cash wages as a share of overall compensation to accommodate the influx. Large businesses were a particular casualty because before ObamaCare they were largely exempt from state-level mandates.

The study also found that the costs of the adult-kid mandate weren’t “only borne by parents of eligible children or parents more generally.” They’re spread over all workers including other young people, the childless and late middle-aged.

No study is definitive, though the authors are careful about their methods and assumptions. The eternal lessons are that no alleged government benefit is free and people should be allowed to make the trade-offs for themselves. Another is that the next President has plenty of running room to improve the American economy, if he cares to make better decisions.

Choosing to Go Without Medical Insurance Under 2016 Obamacare
"Many See I.R.S. Fines as More Affordable Than Insurance," by Abby Goodnough, The New York Times, January 3, 2015 ---

Clint Murphy let the deadline for getting health insurance by the new year pass without a second thought.

Mr. Murphy, an engineer in Sulphur Springs, Tex., estimates that under the Affordable Care Act, he will face a fine of $1,800 for going uninsured in 2016. But in his view, paying that penalty is worth it if he can avoid buying an insurance policy that costs $2,900 or more. All he has to do is stay healthy.

“I don’t see the logic behind that, and I’m just not going to do it,” said Mr. Murphy, 45, who became uninsured in April after leaving a job with health benefits to pursue contract work. “The fine is still going to be cheaper.”

Two years after the Affordable Care Act began requiring most Americans to have health insurance, 10.5 million who are eligible to buy coverage through the law’s new insurance exchanges were still uninsured this fall, according to the Obama administration.

That number appears to be shrinking: Administration officials said last month that about 2.5 million new customers had bought insurance through HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange serving 38 states, since open enrollment began on Nov. 1. The number of new enrollees is 29 percent higher than last year at this time, suggesting that the threat of a larger penalty may be motivating more people to get covered.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Emergency room is free to low income people, and insurance companies now cannot refuse applicants for pre-existing conditions. This means that if expensive medical problems when not covered by insurance arise people can quickly sign up for health insurance to pay future billings after the pre-existing condition is discovered.

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


From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on January 5, 2016

“Cadillac” tax delay gives CFOs breathing room
December’s omnibus budget package contained a measure to delay a provision of the Affordable Care Act by two years is giving finance chiefs some extra time to prepare, CFO Journal’s Maxwell Murphy reports. The tax on high-cost employee health plans puts employers on the hook for a 40% levy on any excess cost of health plans above certain thresholds.

Choosing to Go Without Medical Insurance Under 2016 Obamacare
"Many See I.R.S. Fines as More Affordable Than Insurance," by Abby Goodnough, The New York Times, January 3, 2015 ---

Clint Murphy let the deadline for getting health insurance by the new year pass without a second thought.

Mr. Murphy, an engineer in Sulphur Springs, Tex., estimates that under the Affordable Care Act, he will face a fine of $1,800 for going uninsured in 2016. But in his view, paying that penalty is worth it if he can avoid buying an insurance policy that costs $2,900 or more. All he has to do is stay healthy.

“I don’t see the logic behind that, and I’m just not going to do it,” said Mr. Murphy, 45, who became uninsured in April after leaving a job with health benefits to pursue contract work. “The fine is still going to be cheaper.”

Two years after the Affordable Care Act began requiring most Americans to have health insurance, 10.5 million who are eligible to buy coverage through the law’s new insurance exchanges were still uninsured this fall, according to the Obama administration.

That number appears to be shrinking: Administration officials said last month that about 2.5 million new customers had bought insurance through HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange serving 38 states, since open enrollment began on Nov. 1. The number of new enrollees is 29 percent higher than last year at this time, suggesting that the threat of a larger penalty may be motivating more people to get covered.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Emergency room is free to low income people, and insurance companies now cannot refuse applicants for pre-existing conditions. This means that if expensive medical problems when not covered by insurance arise people can quickly sign up for health insurance to pay future billings after the pre-existing condition is discovered.

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

Reflections on Medicare at 50: Breaking the Chains of Path Dependency for a New Era
SSRN, July 1, 2018

Richard L. Kaplan, University of Illinois College of Law


On the occasion of Medicare’s 50th anniversary, this Article examines the evolution of this essential program from its enactment in 1965 through implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Persons who are, or soon will be, newly enrolled in Medicare may be especially interested in the first part of this Article, which addresses the coverages, exclusions, and costs of Medicare’s constituent parts and concludes (on pp. 20-21) with seven critical questions that every new beneficiary must consider before enrolling. The Article then proffers policy recommendations to better align Medicare with current models of health insurance and provide more appropriate coverage of long-term care expenses.

Why Medical Malpractice Insurance is Expensive in the USA and is Possibly Going to Explode
"A judge ruled the parents of a disabled child can file a 'wrongful birth' lawsuit," by Megan Hamilton, Business Insider, January 9, 2016 ---

An Appeals court in Oregon has ruled that the parents of a boy with muscular dystrophy can move forward with an $11 million "wrongful birth" lawsuit.

The "wrongful birth" suit claims the parents would not have conceived their son if doctors had warned them about the genetic risks, OregonLive reports.

The parents, Kerry and Scott Tomlinson, allege that their pediatrician and staff at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center were negligent, having failed to recognize and tell them about the early signs that their oldest son suffered from Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The Mayo Clinic says muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that cause loss of muscle mass and progressive weakness. In this disorder, abnormal genes interfere with proteins that are necessary for the formation of healthy muscles.

A quick look at Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Around half of all people with muscular dystrophy have this form. Girls can be carriers and may be mildly affected, but the disease usually affects boys, the Mayo Clinic reports.

. . .

Last week, the appeals court agreed with this, saying the Tomlinsons could pursue the suit, but dismissed the $12 million that had been sought, on the grounds that "according to defendants, Teddy alleged that he has been damaged by the fact of his existence. Significantly, defendants asserted that 'life' has not been recognized in Oregon as a compensable harm."

The law does allow plaintiffs to sue doctors for damages suffered — and that's even if the plaintiffs weren't directly patients of the doctors, and the appeals court ruled that as parents, the Tomlinsons claim was legitimate, OregonLive reports.

Manny is now 12, and Teddy is seven.

Jensen Comment
My question is whether "damages" can include punative damages --- those damages that make lawyers hang around hospitals and medical clinics.

Of course this lawsuit has a simple solution for the future --- warn every parent of all the possible genetic risks of becoming a parent in the first place.

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

Bob Jensen's Home Page --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/