To Accompany the June 27, 2016 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.
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.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life
that is waiting for us.
If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
George S. Patton
If you don't know
where you're going, you might not get there.
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
Reps. Jordan, DeSantis: The case for
impeaching the IRS Commissioner (for deliberate obstruction of justice) ---
Around 11,000 people were arrested in
Bangladesh in a crackdown against Islamic militants. More than 40 atheists,
secular activists and members of religious minorities have been murdered in the
past three years. Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister, vowed that “each and every
killer will be brought to book.”
CIA Director Warns That ISIS Is Probably Attempting to
Infiltrate West Through Refugee Flows
That is just not a politically correct thing to assert.
The mainstream media are desperate to distract
from the facts of the Orlando shootings, choosing instead to blame Republicans
and conservatives for the deaths of 49 individuals at a gay bar called Pulse. In
reality, the attacks were perpetrated by an American-born Islamic jihadist who
pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during the attack, and had in the past
“boasted of ties to the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Al Qaeda.” Instead of
discussing the ramifications of terror worldwide and in our midst, the liberal
media have reignited their quest for new gun control legislation and have sought
to blame this...
With remarkable insouciance, NYT writers
Jeremy W. Peters and Lizette Alvarez blithely make reference to “a Bible verse
from Romans that calls for the execution of gays,” meaning Saint Paul’s letter
to the Romans 1:18-32.As anyone who has ever read the New Testament knows, Saint
Paul never permits that Christians should commit any violence whatsoever against
homosexuals, but the Times editors apparently thought that fact-checking with
the original text was superfluous or that readers were too ignorant to check for
Thomas D. Williams
After Orlando, Many in LBGT Community Rush To
Buy Guns ---
And virtually all the gun buyers are not even Republicans
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which isn't
exactly known for being a bastion of conservative thought, had some pretty harsh
words for the Sen. Collins (R-ME) gun control amendment: they "strongly urged"
members of the Senate to vote against the amendment as the no-fly lists are
vague and riddled with errors ---
Filmmaker Ken Burns Urges Stanford Graduates
to Defeat Trump & the Retrograde Forces Threatening the U.S. ---
A Watergate Break-In For the 21st Century
Russian hackers have infiltrated the Democraticic National Committee’s computer systems, accessing staff emails, chat logs, and volumes of opposition research on Donald Trump . . .
But in a presidential campaign where the discussion of cybersecurity hasn’t moved past a political tussle over Clinton’s email server, the Russian intrusion is a reminder of the prevalence of the threat—and the expertise of the U.S.’s adversaries. ---
USA secrets are already being spread as fertilizer over Russian wheat fields. The ingredients are mixed as three Trump turds for every pound of Clinton Crap.
Why Socialism Is Not the Solution to Poverty
Moocher Hall of Fame --- https://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/the-moocher-hall-of-fame/
rifleman’s stalking the sick and the lame
Preacherman seeks the same, who’ll get there first is uncertain
Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks
Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain
False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin
Only a matter of time ’til night comes steppin’ in
To Whom Does the USA Federal Government Owe Money (the booked
obligation of $19+ trillion) ---
The US Debt Clock in Real Time --- http://www.usdebtclock.org/
Remember the Jane Fonda Movie called "Rollover" --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollover_(film)
To Whom Does the USA Federal Government Owe Money (the
unbooked obligation of $100 trillion and unknown more in contracted
The biggest worry of the entitlements obligations is enormous obligation for the future under the Medicare and Medicaid programs that are now deemed totally unsustainable ---
Entitlements are two-thirds of the federal budget.
Entitlement spending has grown 100-fold over the past 50 years. Half of all
American households now rely on government handouts. When we hear statistics
like that, most of us shake our heads and mutter some sort of expletive. That’s
because nobody thinks they’re the problem. Nobody ever wants to think they’re
the problem. But that’s not the truth. The truth is, as long as we continue to
think of the rising entitlement culture in America as someone else’s problem,
someone else’s fault, we’ll never truly understand it and we’ll have absolutely
Steve Tobak ---
"These Slides Show Why We Have Such A Huge Budget Deficit And Why Taxes
Need To Go Up," by Rob Wile, Business Insider, April 27, 2013 ---
This is a slide show based on a presentation by a Harvard Economics Professor.
Peter G. Peterson Website on Deficit/Debt Solutions ---
Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm
Bob Jensen's health care messaging updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm
The Refugee Project --- http://www.therefugeeproject.org/
Research That the Mainstream Media Chooses to Ignore: Would NBC, ABC, or CBS Dare Report "The Fall in Pverty/"
"There's Great News on
Inequality and Poverty," by Noah Smith, Bloomberg, June 20, 2016 ---
Many people on the left seem to believe that the global economy has the same problems as the economies of the U.S and Europe. For example, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently tweeted: “The global economy has simply failed when so many have so little and so few have so much.”
Sanders’ concern for the world’s poorest people is laudable. The task of saving humanity from deprivation is arguably the central quest of human history. But Sanders’ facts are a bit out of date. During the past two decades, the global economy has been great for the world’s poor. Across most of the developing world, the have-nots have a lot more than before.
The clearest evidence comes from two big facts: 1) the decline in world poverty, and 2) the fall in global inequality. These are recent developments -- the second is even more recent than the first. But they give us strong reason to believe that the global economy isn't broken at all, and in fact has never been healthier.
Oxford economist Max Roser has done a heroic job of cataloging and displaying the fall in poverty. Here, from his website, is a picture of how absolute poverty has declined:
The plunge isn’t an accident of measurement.
Continued in article
The Fall in Poverty ---
"The King and His Court: The
D.C. Circuit Court bows to Internet Regulation by Executive Decree," The
Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2016 ---
President Obama has run roughshod over Congress, and most of the media give him a pass. This has left the judiciary as the last check on executive abuse, and now even that may be falling away. That’s how we read Tuesday’s D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision propping up the new “net neutrality” rules to regulate the Internet like a 19th-century railroad.
A 2-1 panel in US Telecom Association vs. FCC upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 regulations that classify the Internet as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The FCC has thrice tried to ram through regulation dictating what an internet-service company can charge for its services; the D.C. Circuit struck down earlier attempts. Now the court has endorsed the most legally and procedurally egregious iteration.
Judges David Tatel and Sri Srinivasan ruled for the FCC in large part by invoking Chevron deference, a 1984 Supreme Court doctrine that says courts should bow to agency rule-makings when the law is ambiguous. But the relevant 1996 statute says the internet shall remain “unfettered by Federal or State regulation,” which is not vague. The law further says that a service “that provides access to the Internet” may not be straddled with Title II.
The Supreme Court said in 2015’s King v. Burwell that agencies deserve no genuflection in matters of “deep economic and political significance.” This surely applies to reordering the most powerful commercial engine of the century.
. . .
No techie or court watcher predicted such a broad win for the FCC, and even Chairman Tom Wheeler must be surprised he snuck everything past Judge Tatel, who has twice ruled against the agency. AT&T and other parties have promised to appeal, either to the full D.C. Circuit for an en banc hearing or to the Supreme Court.
In his dissent, Judge Stephen Williams raps the FCC “for want of reasoned decision making,” not least because the agency can’t summon a single instance of the internet discrimination its rules purport to solve. “The ultimate irony” of the proposal, Judge Williams writes, is that regulation will likely kill off new market entrants—and create the monopoly that the FCC and net-neutrality advocates falsely claim exists now.
Congress could pass a bill to restrain the FCC, but President Obama would veto it and the agency no longer follows the law in any case. President Obama and Harry Reid packed the D.C. Circuit with liberal judges precisely to remove the last check on rule by progressive decree. With the D.C Circuit in his pocket, the last check is the Supreme Court, and that may soon be gone too.
Continued in article
As with any government regulation decree, regulation of the Internet might be good news or bad news. It's good news to the extent that the government allows Internet service providers to have monopolistic pricing and service powers. It's bad news to the extent that price-fixing by government decree generally entails less quantity and quality of service. The WSJ generally has a Knee jerk reaction to new government regulations. With my Time Warner cable billing jumping each year to now where it is nearly $200 per month I keep wondering if the quality of service has really matched the price increases. I think what Time Warner needs in my part of the world is more competition rather than more regulation. Sure I have more and more channels on cable television, but virtually all of them are junk I never needed or wanted.
Tax Rates and Unemployment
The 1993 Clinton Tax Increase, Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, increased the top marginal income tax rate from 31.0% to 39.6%.
Raising the marginal tax rate is not a magic bullet for making life better in a nation.
The first thing to recognize as a scholar is that tax rates between nations are misleading to compare unless you also compare what the taxes are paying for in nations being compared. For example, the maximum tax rate in Finland is 56% to 62% depending upon the municipality. Such a high maximum rate along with high tax rates in other brackets in Finland pays for health care for all, Tier1 and Tier 2 education for all, Tier 3 (including college) for roughly 40% of the Tier 2 graduates, and other social welfare benefits. In the USA a 40% maximum tax rate only pays part of the health care (such as free Medicaid for the poor but not the middle class), and the Federal and State income taxes only pay a small part of education costs.
Most of the USA K-12 education is paid by property taxes added on to income taxes. Must USA health care costs are paid by insurance premiums added to income taxes (including those Obamacare exchange medical insurance premiums).
You simply cannot compare a 62% Finland top tax rate with a 39.6% top tax rate. USA taxpayers are paying more when you add in what they pay in the USA for health care, property taxes, college tuition, etc. I should add that renters pay those property taxes in their rental fees.
I might also add that Finland now has a very high unemployment rate (almost 10%) relative to the rest of Europe and the USA such that taxing the high income folks 62% has done little to help unemployment in Finland.
Actually unemployment is now much more complicated than a simple high tax (for high Keynesian policy for employment) and low tax (for high Laffer-curve employment). There are too many other intervening variables such as trade policies, technology (think robotics), labor rates, unionization job protections, and work force skills. Paying unskilled workers more for unskilled jobs does not necessarily help raise national employment. Paying union workers more when unions protect workers from labor competition does not necessarily raise employment numbers for workers shut out by protectionist unions.
My point is that economics of taxation and raising the living standards of the poor and middle class is not so simple as the Keynesians would like Paul Krugman would like to believe.
In fact we are entering a very complicated era where finding enough jobs and motivating people to seek those jobs are becoming increasingly worrisome.
Solving such problems entails a not more creativity that a dah-dah increase in tax rates. Ask the Finns!
Students at Oberlin Should be Entitled to a Minimum Grade of C Irrespective of Efforts to Pass Any Course: Social Activism is More Important Than Academic Performance
"The Power Shift On College Campuses:
Students Are 'Customers,' Entitled To 'Satisfaction' ," by Paul Caron,
TaxProf Blog, June 22, 2016 ---
Given all that has happened on so many campuses over the last few years, it’s hard to pick the one that has been roiled the most by struggles over political correctness. But Oberlin College would certainly be in the running.
A widely discussed series of events there included the demand for a so-called trigger warning to students who might be upset reading “Antigone”; complaints about the ethnic integrity of the sushi in a campus dining hall; and a petition, signed by some 1,300 students, calling for a semester in which the lowest possible grade was a C, so that anyone skipping classes or skimping on studies to engage in social activism wouldn’t pay too steep an academic price.
In the view of more than a few observers, these students were taking liberalism to illiberal extremes. But their actions were arguably proof of something else as well.
Students at Oberlin and their counterparts elsewhere might not behave in such an emboldened fashion if they did not feel so largely in charge. Their readiness to press for rules and rituals to their liking suggests the extent to which they have come to act as customers — the ones who set the terms, the ones who are always right — and the degree to which they are treated that way.
Twinned with colleges’ innovations to attract and serve a new generation of students is a changed relationship between the schools and the schooled. It’s one of the most striking transformations in higher education over the last quarter-century. ...
[A]menities aren’t all that is different. The interactions and balance of power between student and teacher are as well. I don’t recall ever filling out a professor evaluation when I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the mid-1980s. It’s possible that such forms existed, but they were not used consistently or presented to us with any sense of urgency.
The opposite was true when I taught at Princeton in the spring of 2014. Students could not see their grades for a given class until they had filled out an extensive report card, including numerical ratings, on the class and on the instructor or had formally declined to do so, which few did. The instructor was privy to those ratings, with the students’ names erased.
I’m told by many of the professors I know that this practice is more or less the norm. Coupled with websites on which students rate their teachers, it has enormous bearing on how fully enrolled an instructor’s classes are, on his or her reputation and — thus — on his or her career. And what is perhaps the greatest driver of student satisfaction with a professor? The greatest guarantor of glowing reviews? The marks that the professor doles out. Small wonder that grade inflation is so pronounced and rampant, with A’s easy to come by and anything below a B-minus rare.
Students get the message that they call the shots. Catharine Bond Hill, the president of Vassar, told me that when she began teaching in the 1980s, students never came in to complain about grades. “And back then,” she added, “you could get a C. Now students will come in and complain about a B-plus,” she said. ..."
Continued in article
Since the median grade in colleges across the USA is now A- and a C grade is tantamount to an F grade I don't get excited if Oberlin should choose to give all students a minimum grade of C in every course.
The sad thing is how perceived student takeovers of college campuses are among the many things that helped Donald Trump become the Republican candidate for President of the USA:
A Scholarly View of How the USA Donald Trump Appeals to Such a Large Proportion of USA Voters ---
A Scholarly View of How the USA Donald Trump Appeals to Such a Large Proportion
of USA Voters ---
I like the article because it mentions a lot of things the media tends (intends?) to overlook. For example, For example, click on the link "Fundamental Mistakes." For example, the following quotation was news to me since I tend to think of evangelicals as being largely white.
By the definition in Berger’s essay, some 30 percent of all Americans are evangelical — 29 percent of whites, 44 percent of blacks, and 30 percent of Hispanics.
The fact that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will likely be the only USA presidential choices in 2016 evolved out of a very complicated and divided America that's weary of bad governance and a manipulative media. Clinton and Trump are masters of manipulation.
The IRS Political Activism Scandal on Day 1,140 ---
Lois Lerner apologized to the public for targeting conservative fund raising groups. She then resigned from the IRS.
Over 1,000 days of subsequent IRS scandal could have been avoided if Lois Lerner would also testify under oath that she was not directed to do so by President Obama and the Whitehouse Staff Her refusal to do so makes it look like President Obama engineered his own re-election by using the power of the IRS. It's such a waste of time and effort for Lois Lerner to refuse to put an end to the IRS scandal by testifying under oath.
Forwarded by my good physician friend Dick Woolf
I did not verify the facts in this message
The Latest U.S. Statistical Map: Make sure you read to the bottom... quite an eye opener! (Or should be!)
These 9 States now have more people on Welfare than they do employed!!!
Last month, the Senate Budget Committee reports that in fiscal year 2012, between food stamps, housing support, child care, Medicaid and other benefits, the average U.S. Household below the poverty line received $168.00 a day in government support. What's the problem with that much support? Well, the median household income in America is just over $50,000, which averages out to $137.13 a day.
Furthermore: There are actually two messages here. The first is very interesting, but the second is absolutely astounding - and explains a lot.
A recent "Investor's Business Daily" article provided very interesting statistics from a survey by the United Nations International Health Organization.
Percentage (%) of men and women who survived a cancer five years after diagnosis:
% of patients diagnosed with diabetes -received treatment within 6 months:
% of seniors needing hip replacement who received it within six months
% referred to a medical specialist who see one within one month:
Number of MRI scanners (a prime diagnostic tool) per million people:
Continued in article
Having more people on welfare than employed in a given state is not something to be blamed on any political party in the USA. In most respects it's a tragedy of changed priorities (such as shutting down coal mines) and past welfare policies (such as discouraging welfare recipients to receive benefits in two-parent homes). Also poor families in need are attracted to states with the most welfare benefits.
On some issues (especially economic issues) I'm a conservative. On others I'm a liberal. Statistics like those above do not change my view that the USA should have a national health care program to replace the Obamacare mess that we are in right now. Obamacare was passed with the good intentions of providing more coverage to low and middle income people. But the expanded Medicaid Program is wracked with fraud (over half the Medicaid recipients in Illinois do not qualify for Medicaid) and the most popular Obamacare exchange policies have such huge deductibles that people cannot afford to go to a doctor except in emergencies and very expensive medical needs.
The above message does not report such USA negatives of not having Medicare cover nursing homes. In many instances only the poor on Medicaid can afford to go to nursing homes. Most the national health care programs such as those in Canada, England, and other parts of Europe cover nursing homes.
How to Mislead
The USA has the world's largest underground cash economy (per capita) where people are employed without reporting such employment to the government. USA Today once reported an estimate that this economy is over $2 trillion annually. My point is that reporting that there are more people on welfare than employed is partly due to the fact that the USA government is unable to count millions of "unemployed" who truly are "employed" in the underground economy. Some of course are employed in crime such as drug dealing and sex trafficking. But most are employed in honest work as roofers, child care workers, construction workers, mechanics, cab drivers, landscapers, food servers, etc.
That is how messages like the one above are very misleading even though it does make us stop and think about major issues in economics, healthcare, and inequality.
Do Hillary Clinton and other feminists condone this kind of protest?
More Than 1,500 Women Want
to Protest Donald Trump By Posing Nude ---
One of the earliest nude protests, if not the earliest, was Lady Godiva protesting a tax in ---
"What Obama Actually Thinks
About Radical Islam," by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, June 16,
. . .
None of this is meant to be an argument that Obama does enough, or does enough of the right things, in the struggle against ISIS. I could (and will!) write a critique of the administration’s tactical approach, particularly as it relates to Syria. And Obama could bring more emotional intelligence to bear on this problem: He is eloquent in condemning the fearmongers, but he sometimes fails to acknowledge the legitimate fears of non-racist, non-paranoid Americans who would prefer not to be killed by terrorists acting in the name of Islam. The United States is under intermittent attack from an organization called the Islamic State, which, as Graeme Wood has pointed out in this magazine, represents one, extreme, branch of Islam. There is no point in trying to convince Americans that what is happening is not happening. But neither is there a point in encouraging hysteria and division.
Privately, Obama expresses the deepest loathing for ISIS and other radical Islamist groups. ISIS, he has noted, stands for—quite literally—everything he opposes. Nevertheless, his approach to the challenge of Islamist terrorism is sometimes emotionally unsatisfying; it is sometimes insufficient to the challenge; and he himself is sometimes too fatalistic about the possibility of change in the Middle East.
Donald Trump’s approach, on the other hand, is simply catastrophic.
Director Warns That ISIS Is Probably Attempting to Infiltrate West Through
That is just not a politically correct thing to assert.
Value-added Tax (VAT) --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value-added_tax
Global Trends: On the Brink
of a New VAT Revolution?
I'm a long-time advocate of replacing the loophole-ridden USA corporate income tax with a VAT tax.
Accountants and lawyers hate it because filing VAT tax returns is so much less complicated that it will put tens of thousands of them out of work.
Corporations hate it because this tax is so much harder to avoid.
Consumers hate the VAT because it raises prices. But so would corporate income tax if it were not so easy to avoid.
Stanford University Accounting Professor Lisa De Simone --- http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/faculty/lisa-de-simone
Why Corporate Tax Avoidance
Is Bigger Than You Think: An accounting expert examines the impact of new
rules on income shifting
Interview with Lisa De Simone
Stanford Graduate School of Business Insights
May 24, 2016
MIT: Too Much Information from Noninvasive Prenatal Screening? ---
Too Much Information Noninvasive prenatal screening allows parents to safely learn about their unborn child’s genetics. The ethics of what to do with this information are tricky enough when the child carries a known disease, but future tests may provide parents with a range of nonmedical information, such as eye and hair color. In this article from 2013, we ask the simple question: how much is too much?
Decades ago scientists like Josh Lederberg were raising similar questions about cloning to bypass the uncertainties of genetic selection. Both cloning and prenatal screening are examples of advances in science that are good news and bad news. Both can lead to corrections of proneness to diseases and mental defectiveness. But both can also fit into Hitler's plan for a superior master race.
It was interesting and somewhat frightening that a tall, blonde, beautiful, and very intelligent computer science major put herself through Trinity University by selling her eggs. At the same time there isn't much demand for the sperm of lovable adults with genetic disorders or hateful pedophiles in prison.
Subsidies for High Income Tesla Electric Car Buyers
Elon Musk’s Subsidy Aggregation: The billionaire tries to integrate his taxpayer-backed business model ---
. . .
Tesla’s cars have a devoted following, and its stock has had a brilliant run. But it isn’t clear how competitive it would be without taxpayer support: The car maker rakes in money—$168 million in 2015, up from $3 million in 2011—thanks to the racket known as state zero-emission vehicle credits. Tesla only produces electric cars, so it can sell its extra state-supplied credits to auto makers that don’t reach government fuel-efficiency standards.
Tesla’s $5 billion Nevada battery plant received more than $1 billion in breaks on property and sales taxes, along with discounts on electricity, and even a 30% federal credit for solar generation. Don’t forget President Obama’s $7,500 federal tax credit for every electric-car buyer. That’s right, Uncle Sam pays the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio so they can flaunt their green virtue on the highway.
If Mr. Musk can make a market success of electric cars and lithium-ion batteries, he’ll have served customers and earned his billions. But so far Tesla looks more like a classic of the reverse income redistribution of green crony capitalism, in which middle-class taxpayers subsidize billionaires who make products to satisfy the anti-fossil-fuel indulgences of the upper classes. That Mr. Musk is reshuffling his Tesla balance sheet to subsidize his own solar venture is a sign that this may not be a sustainable business model.
Continued in Article
To my knowledge Oregon is the only state that taxes electric car buyers to get some of them to contribute to road building and maintenance. The elecric car buyers in the other states get a free ride since tases on gasoline pay for virtually all the road construction and maintenance. It's grossly unfair since the high income electric car buyers need this subsidy the least.
Elon Musk know how to milk taxpayer tits bigtime.
Finding and Using Health Statistics --- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nichsr/usestats/index.htm
Bob Jensen's threads on economic statistics and databases ---
Medicare Fraud is Rampant ---
Uh Oh: Double-Digit Premium Hikes Projected For Low-Cost Obamacare Plans
Next Year ---
This begs the question of the need for such high premium increases for low-cost Obamacare plans that insured people don't use much due to the extremely high deductibles if they go to a doctor.
President Obama should have nationalized health care in the early years of office when the Democratic Party controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In his later years as President he let this control slip in both the House and the Senate. He never gives the real reasons as to why the Democrats lost control of his legislature.
The deductibles on low-cost Obamacare plans are so huge (40% to 60%) that insured people put off getting medical care until absolutely necessary --- thereby greatly reducing the number of claims to be processed and paid.
"ObamaCare’s Wallet-Buster Health Plans: While insurance premiums
and deductibles soar, Hillary Clinton takes credit for the president’s mess,"
by Nathan Nascimento, The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2016 ---
. . .
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, where I work, has analyzed all publicly available information for health-insurance premiums from healthcare.gov and state insurance departments. It then calculated the weighted averages for all health-insurance plans available on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges. The weighted average gives a more accurate view of overall premium increases, because it takes into account each insurance plan’s market share.
The findings: Nationally, premiums for individual health plans increased on average between 2015 and 2016 by 14.9%.
Consumers in every state except Mississippi faced increased premiums, and in no fewer than 29 states the average increases were in the double digits. For a third of states, the average premiums rose 20% or more.
Health-insurance premiums rose by more than 30% in Alaska and Hawaii; Oregon’s average rate increase was 23.2%. California’s premiums on average rose by a modest 1.5%.
Consumers in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois faced increases exceeding 20% on average. The East Coast north of Maryland was the least hard hit (New York’s average premium increase was 6%), although Pennsylvania and New Jersey consumers faced premium increases of 14.6% and 13.1% respectively.
In 11 of the 16 states defined as southern by the U.S. Census Bureau, premiums rose by more than 10%. Premiums rose on average by 13.9%, and by more than 20% in Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina and Oklahoma. In Texas, where data was only available for 98.5% of individual-market health-care plans, premiums rose by 14.1%.
Average premiums in Tennessee rose 35.2%—mostly because of the state’s largest individual-market insurer, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, which sold 82% of all exchange plans in 2015. After losing $141 million on these plans last year, the company had little choice but to request average premium increases of 36.3%. The state insurance commission approved this request, lest the company leave the exchange altogether and leave 231,000 Tennesseans in the lurch.
Minnesota holds the dubious honor of having the highest year-over-year premium increases, 47.7%. Why? Because that state’s BlueCross BlueShield, the largest insurer, with over 90% of the market, lost tens of millions of dollars during the Affordable Care Act’s first two years. The company requested an average 49% rate increase, which was approved by state regulators.
Remember: These premium increases are only one piece of the health-care cost puzzle. Deductibles are also rising under the Affordable Care Act. Silver plans—the most popular on the exchanges—had average deductibles of nearly $3,000 in 2016, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This represents an 8% increase over last year.
Millions of Americans are coming to believe that the Affordable Care Act’s costs far outweigh its benefits. In 2014, the latest year for which data is available, roughly 7.5 million Americans paid the IRS penalty rather than purchase the law’s insurance. This penalty is rising to an average $969 per household in 2016 in an attempt to force people onto the exchanges. Yet even a $1,000 fine is cheap compared to thousands—and sometimes tens of thousands—of dollars for an Affordable Care Act-compliant plan.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Clinton refuses to acknowledge the law’s widespread problems. At the Dec. 19 Democratic presidential debate, she responded to a question about rising premiums and deductibles by calling them “glitches,” and a month later she was claiming credit for the health-care law altogether. But if ObamaCare is HillaryCare by a different name, shouldn’t voters hold her responsible?
Does lying and fact distortion justify the the outcome of environmental activism?
The (Canadian) Case Against Greenpeace ---
The pressure on businesses to fold in the face of environmental scare campaigns can be enormous. But in federal court in Georgia, Canada’s Resolute Forest Products is suing Greenpeace for defamation, racketeering, conspiracy and other alleged offenses.
In March we told you about a separate defamation lawsuit filed by Resolute that is currently winding its way through Canadian courts. The company has since filed in the U.S. because that’s where many of the alleged offenses occurred and it’s home to many of Resolute’s customers and (thanks to Greenpeace) former customers. The Journal’s owner News Corp. is a Resolute customer.
Resolute’s complaint is a civil case under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) law, meaning if successful it could result in treble damages. This law can be abused, as when politicians like Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse urge its application to squelch dissent on climate change. As journalists we’re also leery of companies suing their critics.
But before passing judgment on Resolute’s lawsuit, readers may want to consider the company’s claims. In its filing Resolute says Greenpeace “has published staged photos and video falsely purporting to show Resolute logging in prohibited areas and others purporting to show forest areas impacted by Resolute harvesting when the areas depicted were actually impacted by fire or other natural causes.” The First Amendment was not created to protect the fabrication of evidence.
The Resolute complaint also says that “Greenpeace and others working with it have aggressively targeted Resolute’s customers with extortive threats and other illegal conduct. To identify those customers, Greenpeace employees and agents have impersonated Resolute employees, its customers, and others to illegally misappropriate proprietary customer and supply chain information.”
The racketeering and conspiracy claims are related to Resolute’s argument that Greenpeace is “a global fraud” on its donors. The company argues that Greenpeace has “pawned off common trees felled by natural causes as several hundred year old ancient trees illegally forested” and “staged phony photo-ops of seal and other animal slaughters.”
We asked Greenpeace if its employees or agents had defrauded, extorted or impersonated anyone. The environmental outfit provided us with a statement from Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard. Ms. Leonard says that Resolute is “wasting resources on a case with no merit. As it has done before, the company has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to silence critics with legitimate concerns about its environmental practices. Grotesquely misstating our mission and attacking our credibility with a frivolous lawsuit and a malicious public relations campaign will get Resolute nowhere.”
That’s not a denial of the suit’s details, so it will be fascinating to track the witnesses in discovery and under oath if this case goes to trial. After Greenpeace’s long history of distortions on environmental issues, we may find out if it has any credibility left to attack.
The problem with fact distortion and deceptions is that people stop believing you when you are telling the truth. Exhibit A is President Richard Nixon. Eshibit B is President Bill Clinton. Exhibit C is Brian Williams who lost his wonderful news anchor job with NBC News because of a lie. It's a relief that neither Hillary Clinton nore Donald Trump ever lie. Yeah Right!
Former anchor newswoman Katie Couric took a huge
chance recently by falsifying interviews (she admitted doing so) ---
Exxon’s Inquisitors Feel the Heat: Court filings reveal the true aim
of this ‘fraud’ case: silencing conservatives ---
The first thing to know about the crusade against Exxon by state attorneys general is that it isn’t about the law. The second thing to know is that it isn’t even about Exxon. What these liberal prosecutors really want is to shut down a universe of their most-hated ideological opponents.
That became startlingly clear this week, with Exxon’s latest filing in federal court. The oil company revealed that it has received another subpoena for documents, this one from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. But Ms. Healey, whose fervor exceeds her political sense, gives away the game.
The 17 attorneys general participating in this cause have always been careful to identify Exxon as their only target. It’s easier to accuse a big, bad oil company of nefarious deeds, so they make the bogus claim that Exxon somehow “defrauded” the public and its shareholders by engaging in “climate denial.” All the better if they can beat Exxon into cutting a giant check to settle any future charges—a payoff for their states (and for the trial lawyers helping them).
But the Healey subpoena shows that Exxon is a front. The real target is a broad array of conservative activist groups that are highly effective at mobilizing the grass-roots and countering liberal talking points—and that therefore must (as the left sees things) be muzzled. This is clear from the crazy list of organizations Ms. Healey asked for information about in her subpoena. She demanded that Exxon turn over decades of correspondence with any of them.
Take Americans for Prosperity. AFP confirms it has never received a dime from Exxon. But its 2.3 million activists nationwide are highly effective in elections, and it receives funding from the left’s favorite boogeymen, Charles and David Koch.
Or, closer to home: Ms. Healey named the Beacon Hill Institute, a right-leaning think tank in Boston. My sources confirm Beacon Hill has also never seen Exxon dollars. But it is a perpetual thorn in the side of liberal Massachusetts politicians like Ms. Healey.
Also named: the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC doesn’t now, and hasn’t ever, taken a position on the climate. The group is, however, one of the most powerful forces in the country for free-market legislation, having written hundreds of model bills that states use in their efforts to reduce taxes, cut regulations and reform tort laws. Democratic activists have, for the past five years in particular, waged a vicious campaign to run ALEC out of business, and Ms. Healey is now doing her bit.
The same tactics were on display in a subpoena to Exxon from Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker. He appears to have cut-and-pasted from an anti-Exxon website maintained by Greenpeace, since his subpoena lists the same groups in pretty much the same order. The exercise was so sloppy that Mr. Walker named numerous organizations that have been defunct for years, listed several targets twice, and misidentified others.
The goal of the Exxon probe isn’t to protect consumers or help the environment. It’s a message: Oppose us, and we will marshal our terrifying government powers to intimidate and threaten you, to force you to spend millions defending yourself, to eat up the time you’d otherwise use speaking out.
Continued in article
A recently published deposition from a top tax
official provides more evidence that the Obama administration not only acted
illegally when deciding to pay Obamacare subsidies to insurers—but that they did
so knowing full well that the move was not justified . . . The administration’s
argument in this case is essentially that even though Congress rejected its
request for an appropriation, and even though the health law does not provide
them with any clear and discrete appropriate for its cost-sharing subsidies,
they can nevertheless cobble together a hazy justification under which it is
somehow “appropriate” to do so. The administration’s argument for its actions,
in other words, is all but an admission that what it is doing is not legal or
justifiable—and that when it comes to Obamacare, it simply doesn’t care.
Insurers have begun to propose big premium increases
for Obamacare coverage next year under the 2010 health law, as some struggle to
make money in a market where their costs have soared.
Louise Radnofsky and Anna Wilde Mathews
"Is It Time for Universities to Get Out of the Hospital Business?" by
Paul Voosen, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 31, 2016 ---
A couple of years ago, the leaders of Vanderbilt University faced a difficult decision: Their academic medical center was successful, a hub of research and life-saving treatment. But the health industry was in turmoil, and the changes presented new risks to the university, whose vast medical operation approached four-fifths of Vanderbilt’s entire budget. And that number was projected to grow.
The Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, was accelerating changes already underway. Research financing was tight. Mergers were rampant among hospitals, insurers, and drug companies. The vast sums of clinical income that prestigious university hospitals had used to buttress themselves — and often the university’s other missions — seemed likely to dry up. Everything was up for reinvention. Did Vanderbilt open itself up to such risks?
No, the leaders decided. And so last month Vanderbilt University Medical Center completed its separation from its parent. The hospital is still located on the campus and is tightly affiliated with the medical school, but now the university’s trustees will have to spend less time studying the intricacies of, say, disproportionate-share hospital payments, or lobbying the state legislature to expand Medicaid access.
Continued in article
One of the problems is third party on pricing, especially Obamacare, Medicaid and Medicare pricing limits that are driving patients under these plans to be losing propositions. In New Hampshire nearly half the hospitals turn away patients on Obamacare insurance plans except in dire emergencies. University hospitals for a variety of reasons usually must accept those patients and eat the losses.
There are, of course, some ways university hospitals try to limit these losses. For example the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center will only accept patients referred by doctors, usually family physicians. You cannot get an appointment for brain surgery or dermatology treatments at the DHMC without a referral except in dire emergencies.
Before Obamacare there was Romneycare (Mittcare) in Massachusetts. Because of price controls some hospitals in Massachusetts dropped losers. The biggest loser in most hospitals is obstetrics due to the high cost of malpractice insurance for obstetrics. Parents tend to sue for defective babies even when the hospital did nothing wrong. Another loser may be emergency room services. Some Boston-area hospitals that once had emergency services dropped their emergency rooms where patients tend to go when they have no insurance or price-controlled insurance plans like Medicaid and Medicare.
My long-time ophthalmologist with offices in our regional hospital now turns me away because I have Medicare insurance.
University hospitals face larger hurdles when dropping medical services having financial losses. Apart from the public relations disaster arising from dropped services there are other problems such as need to provide those services for educational purposes. For example, most obstetrics students in a university's medical school need somewhere to learn obstetrics first hand.
Time and time again history shows that price controls have adverse effects on supply. Either quality deteriorates (such as having medical services from a provider less than a licensed physician) or the service disappears entirely (such as not serving Obamacare, Medicaid, or Medicare patients). Drug manufacturers will sometimes sell a drug at below variable cost if the loss can be absorbed by other products the company sells. However, if the losses become huge the company might stop making an unprofitable medication. This is a growing problem with certain specialized cancer medications that are extremely expensive to manufacture and are also extremely unprofitable at prices paid by Medicaid and Medicare.
And thus university hospitals that were once cash cows for medical schools have become cash hemorrhages.
Bob Jensen's threads on healthcare ---
Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm
Bob Jensen's Home Page --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/