To Whom Does the USA Federal Government Owe Money (the booked
obligation of $19+ trillion) ---
The US Debt Clock in Real Time ---
Remember the Jane Fonda Movie called "Rollover" ---
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
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
Jensen's health care messaging updates ---
Lead to the Rapid and Relatively Simple Demise of Free Enterprise in the USA?
Irrespective of you feel about tightening of gun laws (and I am in favor of
banning the sale of assault rifles) in Washington DC, there's one major
component of the Clinton-Keane advocacies that frightens the beejeebers out of
me. That's the advocacy of making gun manufacturers liable for damages when
owners of their guns use them illegally. For example, when a drug addict shoots
a store clerk should the gun manufacturer be liable for $10 million in damages
to the family of that store clerk?
How is this
different than when a GM car owner is DUI, drives 60 mph downtown to elude
police, and kills the driver of an oncoming car? Should GM be liable for the for
$10 million in damages to the innocent driver of the oncoming car?
If taken to its
logical extreme this could be the end of business enterprise as we know it. Not
only could the manufacturers be held liable for the illegal acts of consumers
the retail pharmacies, hardware stores, and Amazon itself could be liable for
In normal times
I think the USA Supreme Courts would find Clinton-Keane proposed law to be
unconstitutional. But with the implosion of the Republican Party, and the
pending rise of Democratic Party monopoly over all three branches of government,
the way might soon be clear to replace capitalist
enterprise with socialist enterprise with one simple ratification of a law that
makes businesses liable for the illegal acts of consumers who use their products.
Of course it's
possible to terminate all gun manufacturing in the USA (except for
government-owned military and police gun making) and leave other business
enterprises intact, but with the rise in popularity of socialism (the dream of
millennials) in the USA don't count restraining the use this simple
liability-law weapon that forces government takeover of other types of
What if one judge on a divided USA Supreme Court (like
Justice Anthony Kennedy) could decide the fate of all free enterprise in the
If you care to quote me, one
of my best originals is:
People that live in glass
Should not throw stones
From Tiffany Gabbay
Michelle Obama -- August, 2008:
"Barack and I set out to build lives guided by
these values and to pass them onto the next generation,
because we want our children — and all children in this
nation — to know that the only limit to the
height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams
and your willingness to work hard for them."
phrasing is very similar, and that is an unfortunate
mistake made by Trump campaign speech writers -- because
the truth is, Michelle Obama's 2008 remarks were hardly
In performing a bit of research, I
uncovered a quote from Will Steger's 1989 book, Crossing
reads strikingly similar to Michelle Obama's:
"As I learned anew in crossing Antarctica,
the only limit to achievement is the
limit you place on your own dreams.I
2015 a Justice Department analysis of the Philadelphia Police Department found
that white police officers were less likely than black or Hispanic officers to
shoot unarmed black suspects. And this month “An Empirical Analysis of Racial
Differences in Police Use of Force” by Harvard economics professor Roland G.
Fryer Jr., analyzing more than 1,000 officer-involved shootings across the
country, reports that there is zero evidence of racial bias in police shootings.
'We Need the Cops,' Without Them 'We'd Be Living
in The Wild, Wild West!'
Charles Barkley, Former NBA All-Star
Once Again, Obama Tries To Deflect Blame For Police
The Real Racial Homicide Tragedies of the USA are That:
More is Not Being Done to Protect Blacks From Being Murdered by Other Blacks
More is Not Being Done to Protect Whites/Hispanics from Being Murdered by Other
USA Population is 324+ Million Plus the Millions Not Scoped into the Census
USA Homicide Statistics From ---
Homicide is defined as the intentional or negligent
killing of one person by another. It can include legal killings (such as
justifiable homicide), negligent accidents (such as a child playing with a
gun), and criminal killings (such as murder).
. . .
Of the 56,259 homicides
from 2009-2012, 1,491 were the result of police use of force.(Justified and
By comparison during that
same time period:
755 were the result of
negligent accident homicides (i.e., child playing with a gun)
1,120 were justifiable
homicides by citizens acting in self-defense
52,893 were criminal
755 were the result of negligent accident
homicides (i.e., child playing with a gun) ◦
1,120 were justifiable homicides by citizens
acting in self-defense ◦
52,893 were criminal homicides (murders)
. . .
1,491 persons that died from police use of force from 2009-2012:
915 (61.4%) were white males
481 (32.2%) were black males
48 (3.2%) were males of other races
28 (1.9%) were white females
15 (1.1%) were black females
4 (0.2%) were females of other races
Continued in article
Chicago's Death Toll is Nearly
Equal to Both Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Nearly 80% of New Orleans Murder Victims Are Black
According to an FBI memo the local Black Panthers chapter called for the killing
of all cops.
How will this save lives in New Orleans and Baton Rouge?
The fact that majority of police use of force victims were white is hardly
surprising since the whites still dominate the population of the USA although
not necessarily in urban centers like Chicago and New Orleans where many of the
police use of force killings take place.
Last night on CNN it was reported that over
90% of the black homicides were committed by blacks
It was also reported that over 90% of the white homicides
were committed by whites
Such claims are hardly surprising since
the majority of homicides are domestic crimes of one kind or another.
What is a tragedy is that more is not being
accomplished to prevent black homicides in the USA large cities.
In my opinion racial profiling in large cities by the
police does more to protect blacks than all other races.
If we really wanted to protect blacks in Chicago we
should temporarily take measures similar to what we take in Afghanistan to
protect the USA military.
That would, of course, restrict freedoms from surveillance and profiling tht we
Chicago's Death Toll is Nearly
Equal to Both Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
In the 1948 disastrous polling forecasts, that Thomas Dewey would defeat
Harry Truman in the USA Presidential race, blame was put on ignoring that so
many voters did not own telephones in those days. Voters who could not afford
phones were more likely to vote for Truman.
Now the question seems to be on the difference between telephone polling and
An added problem in 21st Century telephone polling is that people are very hard
to reach via their telephones.
There's an added problem in both telephone and Internet polling in that voters
are reluctant to give answers in polls in fear about personal security.
I won't answer political polls in fear of being spammed afterwards.
What can be learned from the disastrous Brexit referendum polling?
In a recent newsletter Barry Ritholz provided the following interesting
6-10 people per year are killed by sharks worldwide
Other large predators kill numbers:
Every time a shark kills somebody it makes network news. Kills by a hippo or a snake go unreported.
It's something like when a cop kills a person versus when 50 are kilhled on e streets of C icago on a weekend.
Every time a shark kills somebody it makes network news. Kills by a hippo or a
snake go unreported.
It's something like when a cop kills a person versus when 50 are killed on
the streets of Chicago on a weekend (yawn).
It's ironic that the voters not seriously threatened about receiving their
entitlements are more worried about unfunded entitlements than the voters who
will being paying for them now and in the future.
Fifty years from now Medicare won't be such a good deal for aged millennials
who discover that Medicare will no longer pay their medical bills until they use
up all their savings on health care expenses.
Those of us who are currently retired are having our cake and eating it too.
One day Medicare will only be for lower income people.
. . . less-educated whites feel their status
diminished, the biggest minority in the future may start to see itself as just
that. Democrats, meanwhile, have become the true party of entitlement reform,
pushing means-tested handouts for new voter groups at the expense of the aging
constituents of Social Security and Medicare.
"Trump’s Mum Supporters," by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., The Wall Street
Journal, July 19, 2016 ---
None of us will ever cast a vote that decides a
presidential race, whereas we all bear immediate social cost and risk by
saying whom we’re voting for. That’s the reality of incentives. Lots of
prominent Republicans and conservative pundits have good reason for not
sullying their carefully cultivated brands with Donald Trump’s by saying
they’ll vote for him. This is understandable. In fact, it’s a no-brainer.
Of course, how you vote and what you say about your
vote can be two different things. Kennedy won the 1960 election in a
landslide according to polls taken after his assassination.
So let’s say it: As long as you don’t have to pay a
social price for it, a Trump presidency might not be so bad. A Trump victory
would be inconceivable without his bringing a GOP Congress along. His
business friends would steer him away from wild actions. Mr. Trump himself
has said he has no intention of destabilizing the economy.
We might get some real reform out of a Paul
Ryan-led Congress. This would be Mr. Trump’s easiest path to the victories
(“we’re winning again!”) he craves, and the reason some prominent
conservatives like Larry Kudlow have risked their good names by lending them
to Mr. Trump.
The stock market has been straight up since Brexit,
and since polls started showing Mr. Trump competitive with Hillary Clinton.
Some credit central banks or turn up their hands, but a Trump reflation-with-tax-cuts,
if the alternative is a Clinton reflation with a blowout expansion of
entitlements, probably sounds OK to many investors.
What about the character question? It’s hard to
believe voters would have elected Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon or Bill Clinton based
on what they know now. Voters know a great deal about Mr. Trump. He might be
the biggest sleaze they ever knowingly vote for, but not the biggest to hold
To imagine, as writers for the New Yorker do, that
Mr. Trump threatens the very institutions of American democracy is to have
little faith in the potency and self-love of Congress, the courts, the
bureaucracy. Yes, instinct says beware the candidate who bases his appeal
partly on teaching other countries a lesson. The chances of Mr. Trump being
a disaster are not zero, but they never are.
What seems more likely to resonate in the long
term, frankly, is not the Trump singularity but the realignment of politics
the Trump phenomenon represents amid a crisis for the Western economic
model. The U.S. version may not be as bad as the European or Japanese
version, but our politics seem destined to be embittered by declining
expectations and pinched resources.
White voters haven’t traditionally seen themselves
as a bloc, but as less-educated whites feel
their status diminished, the biggest minority in the future may start to see
itself as just that. Democrats, meanwhile, have become the true party of
entitlement reform, pushing means-tested handouts for new voter groups at
the expense of the aging constituents of Social Security and Medicare.
ObamaCare was meant to be funded by Medicare cuts.
Elders know a new Obama- and Clinton-touted proposal for a “public option”
would put them in competition with younger, more liberal voters for
government health resources. They’ve heard technocrats mutter for years
about the “misallocation” of so much money to unproductive seniors in the
last years of their lives.
Where do African-American voters come down? This
might be the pivotal question for future elections. In the 2010 census, the
median age of black Americans was a full 10 years behind the median age of
white Americans, but the black share of the under-18 population—i.e., the
future—was already shrinking right along with the white share.
Half of all births in Texas now are Hispanic.
Hispanics are the largest single demographic in California. Mr. Trump says
black Americans will flock to him in November. They won’t. But in future
contests they may increasingly see their interests in the same way aging
white Trumpistas do, on entitlements and immigration at least.
"Why the Democrats Have Turned Left," by Ruy Teixeira, The Wall
Street Journal, July 22, 2016 ---
The Democratic Party
has shifted significantly to the left. On this, there can be little doubt.
Even before she felt strong pressure from Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton,
the Democrats’ now-presumptive nominee, was running on a strongly liberal
platform—probably as liberal as that of any nominee since George McGovern in
1972. She had endorsed universal pre-K, free access to two-year colleges,
paid family and medical leave, subsidized child care, robust investment in
infrastructure and a number of other forthrightly progressive measures.
Now the Democratic
Party’s platform, reflecting the influence of Mr. Sanders and the clear
leanings of its voters, goes further. It endorses extending Mrs. Clinton’s
original college plan to include free tuition at public four-year
universities; expanding, not trimming, Social Security; raising the federal
minimum wage to $15 an hour; implementing carbon pricing and a tax on
financial transactions; passing a 21st-century version of the repealed
Glass-Steagall Act regulating the financial sector; taking aggressive action
on criminal-justice reform; and much more.
Party platforms are
never implemented in their entirety, nor are nominees strictly obliged to
stick to what is in them. But they tell you a lot about where a party is
coming from and where it proposes to go. Democrats are clearly on a leftward
How did this happen?
How did Democrats arrive so far to the left when in the 1990s it didn’t seem
strange for their party’s standard-bearer, President Bill Clinton, to
proclaim that “the era of big government is over”?
One explanation is
by now a staple of American political discourse: The demographics of the
country have shifted. Every year there are more minority voters, more
unmarried voters, more secular voters, more college-educated women voters,
more millennial voters, and so on. It isn’t simply that these groups lean
Democratic; they also tend to favor policies that are distinctly to the left
and comport well with the Democrats’ new platform—not to mention with
Hillary Clinton’s political evolution.
But there is another
reason, perhaps equally important while also less understood, for the
party’s leftward shift. It no longer seems plausible that American
capitalism only needs some slight nudging to perform well, that leaving
markets mostly alone will produce riches to benefit all. The first part of
the 21st century, culminating in the Great Recession of 2007-09 and its
aftermath, has undermined that story.
What America faces
instead is what we might describe as capitalism’s “Piketty problem,” after
the French economist Thomas Piketty, known for his magisterial “Capital in
the 21st Century.” This problem can be summarized by four propositions:
First, the basic dynamic of the system tends toward higher inequality.
Second, this tendency makes economic growth less effective at raising living
standards. Third, faster overall economic growth, even if unequally
distributed, could potentially solve the problem. Except that, fourth,
rising inequality slows down economic growth, rather than speeds it up.
Result: a vicious
cycle of rising inequality, stagnating living standards and slowing economic
growth. That’s the Piketty problem. And American capitalism, left to its own
devices, appears highly unlikely to solve it, which is why a solidly left
program of spending and regulation seems eminently sensible under the
But is such a
program electorally viable? The Democrats are about to find out. It is
early, of course, but by current evidence the prospects look pretty good.
Four models collected by the New York Times, including the paper’s own, give
Hillary Clinton an average 71% chance of winning the presidency.
chances are clearly boosted by the relative unpopularity of Mrs. Clinton’s
rival, Donald Trump, who must be rated an exceptionally weak candidate. But
this obscures another fact, which is that the left-leaning programs proposed
by Mrs. Clinton are solidly popular with the American public, not hard-core
Democrats alone. It should also be noted that Mr. Trump is an economic
apostate by recent Republican standards and proposes a significantly more
interventionist role for government in American capitalism than have
previous GOP nominees (though his proposals are quite different from the
If Mrs. Clinton does
manage to win this November, how might she govern? Overall, we should expect
her to take direct aim at the Piketty problem. That means accepting that
American capitalism cannot be expected to break out of the current funk on
its own. Instead, it must be actively pointed in a different direction. Her
administration could be expected to adopt a new approach that pushes back
against inequality and promotes the economic health of the middle- and
working-classes as the key driver of growth
Continued in article
From the CPA Newsletter on July 14, 2016
One in every 10 children in the USA receives Social Security payments
Most were abandoned by parents such that these children ended up in the care of
one or more grandparents
Although most of these children ended up with a grandparent for involuntary
reasons (incarceration, disability, or death of a parent) there is moral hazard
here in that some voluntrily abandon children in order to have these children
collect the benefits. Indeed a parent may still indeed play much of the role of
a parent in what is tantamount to fraud. Having said this the families are
generally poor and can add to food stamps and other forms of welfare in this
This is one of the many safety nets of the poor in the USA. Mitt Romney found
that mentioning safety nets for the poor was bad politics and drew a lot of
negative media attention.
Mentioning them is not politically correct. It's an example where welfare in
the USA tends to destroy traditional families of the poor.
It's also an example of another unfunded entitlement added to Social Security
that became an unfunded entitlement burden for future generations.
Putin Peers Into Shadows Where 30 Million Toil on Fringes ---
Uncounted by statisticians and
invisible to tax collectors,
a population the size of Texas -- or about 30 million people -- plies its
trade in the nooks and crannies of what’s become known as the “garage
economy.” There, professions such as mechanics, builders, dentists and
veterinarians conduct their business off-the-books and in cash. President
Vladimir Putin is zeroing in on the phenomenon, said two participants in a
recent Kremlin meeting on economic policy.
It’s the cops, prosecutors and taxes driving them
underground, he told a gathering of ministers, advisers and regional
bureaucrats, according to the people, who asked to remain unidentified
because the discussion wasn’t public. Putin asked the “serious,
bespectacled” lot in front of him to devise a way to ferret out the
businesses and motivate them to legalize their operations, the people said.
The scale of this underworld, estimated at as much
as a quarter of gross domestic product, presents Russia’s leader with a
dilemma. For an economy that’s struggling to shake off a recession in an era
of cheap oil, the millions of undocumented workers could prove an unrivaled
resource as government finances run dry.
It's too bad the USA does not put the same or greater priority on its own $ 2+
trillion underground economy most likely much larger than the underground
economy of Russia. In the USA this leads to great frauds such as working for
more than $20 per hour while collecting welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. ---
One of the most effectvie ways to clobber the underground economy and
underground crime is to do away with cash ala Kenya where it seems to be quite
effectie. Nigeria is one of the latest nations to experiment with a cashless
Colleges and Universities are Facing Enormous Re-construction Liabilities
That The ACLU Won't Mention
"Target is Having a Really Bad Week," by Haley Peterson,
Business Insider, July 16, 2016 ---
Target is having a bad week.
The retailer is facing widespread backlash for two
unrelated incidents at its stores that have outraged thousands of customers.
On Thursday, a transgender woman was arrested and
charged with taking pictures of an 18-year-old woman changing clothes in a
fitting room at a Target store in Idaho.
The incident has renewed outrage among opponents of
Target's new policy allowing customers to use the restroom or fitting room
that matches their gender identity.
The policy's critics had previously warned that it
posed a "danger to wives and daughters" and is "exactly how sexual predators
get access to their victims."
Continued in article
Among things aside from the current boycott by upwards of a million Target
customers there are accounting issues caused by the gender-neutral policy of
Target with respect to bathrooms and fitting rooms. That issue is how to report
the liability for possibly tens of millions of dollars needed to totally
privatize each bathroom stall and fitting room. Fitting room renovation probably
only entails ceiling to wall partionings and locks on the doors. But bathroom
renovations entail putting in private bathrooms with each having it's own sink
--- that could be really costly for Target.
The same enormous liability (much bigger than for Target) is coming to
colleges and universities that will need to do things to help make more
difficult to take pictures of people in bathrooms and locker rooms. One of the
problems is the difficulty of controlling picture taking with remote phones.
One reason it's much more of a problem for universities is
that universities will eventually have to install private showers in locker
rooms as well as private bathrooms with commodes and sinks and clothing lockers.
Colleges may need to act quickly to ward off lawsuits regarding privacy
invasion. Colleges without privacy in locker rooms may even face troubles
competing for athletes applying for college.
Reconstruction will happen. Colleges spent even more to accommodate
disabled-person access. Now more money is needed for privacy protection.
Congressional Budget Office ---
"When the Best Umps Blow a Call," Larry Summers, Larry Summers Blog,
July 14, 2016 ---
. . .
So, I was very
surprised to read the June CBO report on the consequences of federal
investment. It assumes,
from its reading of the literature (also
as its central base case what it calls
a 5 percent rate of return on infrastructure investment but then finds that
the payback effect of infrastructure investment on the federal deficit is
very small, contradicting my earlier claims and more importantly raising
doubts about the desirability of a big infrastructure push.
Why the discrepancy?
After carefully reading the report, and speaking at some length with CBO
officials, I think I understand at least one aspect of it. CBO uses the term
“rate of return” in a way that is very different than what I would regard as
standard usage. They take a 5 percent rate of return to mean that one dollar
more capital produces five cents more output. This turns out to be quite
different from assuming that investments in public capital earn a 5 percent
For example, CBO does
not subtract depreciation in calculating their rate of return unlike what is
standard in the private sector. Nor, contrary to what I would have assumed
was natural, do they suppose that rates of return are reduced by the fact
that on their (questionable) assumptions it takes many years for dollars
invested to turn into capital. (Think of R&D as an example here).
Adjusting for these factors, CBO is
actually assuming an economic return a little above 2 percent on public
investment and then concluding it will not help much.
If one assumes that
public investment is basically unproductive, it is no surprise that it does
not yield large economic benefits. There is still the question of if the 5
percent rate of return is misdescribed, whether or not CBO has made a
reasonable judgement about the productivity of public investment. I’m pretty
skeptical. They rely on aggregate econometric estimates of an elasticity of
GDP with respect to public capital. Such estimates are plagued by all sorts
of problems of heterogeneity, simultaneity, limited variation in the
exogenous variables and so forth.
I would prefer to build
up from individual projects by looking for example at estimates of the
return on fixing potholes, building dams, or repairing water systems. I
think anyone taking this kind of ground up approach will conclude that the
social return to public investment is far higher than 2 percent. This is, of
course, a matter of judgement.
There are other,
probably lesser, problems with CBO’s work. Much of the adverse effect of
public investment on the budget in their work comes from an assumed increase
in interest rates resulting from budget deficits. This assumption would have
been natural once, but is much less compelling in the current liquidity
trap, possible secular stagnation environment. They also haircut the return
to federal investment by assuming that it crowds out state and local
investment but do not recognize explicitly the benefits of less state and
local borrowing. And they focus on deficit impacts rather than the more
appropriate question of impacts on debt-to-GDP ratios.
On balance, I do not
think anyone should change her mind about public investment based on CBO’s
analysis. Great umpires never change their minds. But they do learn from
their mistakes. I hope CBO will do better next time out.
I think Professor Summers is being overly conservative here. In fact I don't
think it is possible to measure returns on infrastructure investment due to all
the externalities involved such as when fixing a bridge increases ambulance
response time. There are also impractical measurement issues such as measuring
the decrease in repair costs of every vehicle that would other wise be jolted
from a pothole.
Tax Lawyers Say Proposed Debt/Equity Regulations Exceed Treasury Department's
Statutory Authority ---
CalPERS Reports Preliminary 2015-16 Fiscal Year
Investment Returns ---
CalPERS blames the markets without giving details on how the S&P can hit
all-time highs while CalPERS returns are lousy.
From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on July 19, 2016
CalPERS weathers storm, barely.
The largest U.S. public
pension posted its lowest annual gain since the last financial crisis due to
heavy losses in stocks. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System,
or CalPERS, said it earned 0.6% on its investments for the fiscal year ended
June 30, according to a Monday news
release. It was the second straight year CalPERS failed to hit its internal
investment target of 7.5%. Workers or local governments often must
contribute more when pension funds fail to generate expected returns
One would think that staying out of oil and gas would have helped the pension
fund returns of CalPERS. Perhaps the heavy shift into green investing,
especially renewable energy, has not been as profitable as CalPERS intended. In
any case CalPERS wiggles out of providing details of
why their returns reported in 2016 are way below expectations.
Finding and Using Health Statistics
Bob Jensen's threads on economic statistics and databases ---
Medicare Fraud is Rampant ---
Feds break up $1 billion (with a "b") Medicare scam in Miami — biggest in
U.S. history ---
Yeah Right! As if There's Much Competition Without
the Health Insurer Mergers
From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on July
The Justice Department is suing to put the kibosh on
two health-insurance megamergers, in what will be a high-stakes legal. The
DOJ on Thursday
filed a pair of lawsuits in a
Washington, D.C., federal court challenging Anthem Inc.’s
proposed acquisition of Cigna Corp. and Aetna Inc.’s planned
combination with Humana Inc., alleging the mergers would harm
consumers, employers and health-care providers with an unacceptable
reduction in competition.
“If these mergers were to take place, the competition among these insurers
that has pushed them to provide lower premiums, higher quality care and
better benefits would be eliminated,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said.
The lawsuits counter aggressive efforts by the health insurers to
consolidate. The deals would have turned the top five national health
insurers into three giant companies, each with revenue of more than $100
billion a year.
The Big Medical Insurance Companies are Pushing Out
Obamacare's Smaller ACA Plans
From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on July
ACA dings UnitedHealth
UnitedHealth Group Inc. on
Tuesday posted a strong earnings beat as
revenue continued to surge in its pharmacy-services business, and it lifted
the low end of its profit guidance for the year. It also raised the low end
of its earnings guidance. But amid the positive news, the company included
one ongoing dark spot: Affordable Care Act
plans, which it will almost completely stop selling next year.
The insurer booked another $200 million in full-year ACA-plan losses in the
second quarter, but more than that, costs mounted because enrollees were
even sicker than projected, with more chronic conditions than last year.
This makes me wonder why some of the states (Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky,
Tennesee, Maine, and Missouri) have the highest percentages of people declared
permanently disabled and on Social Security and Medicare benefits for the rest
of their lives? I can possibly understand West Virginia due to black lung and
other mining ailments.
Florida, I think, has the worst reputation for fraud in this regard due to a
higher concentration of doctors and lawyers who will commit fraud for
disability-declaration fees. A close friend's chronically unemployable adult son
(40 years old) was denied his bid for SS disability benefits in Kansas. So he
went to Florida and found a Cuban refugee doctor and a lawyer who eventually got
him declared disabled for spinal cord pain. I have to chuckle to myself when I
see him shoveling snow in the driveway of his parents. I don't think he's really
States with the highest proportions of residents on lifetime Social
Security Disability Benefits and Medicare ---
Percentages range from 2.8% in Hawaii to 8.9% in West Virginia.
My wife started receiving SS disability benefits and Medicare when she was
approximately 53 years old --- when she went off worker compensation benefits
for a spine injury on the job. I can personally vouch for that her disability is
genuine. Medicare now has invested way over a million dollars in 12 of her 16
I have another relative whose mental illness SS disability payments may be
more controversial. Mental illness according to what I read is not necessarily
permanently disabling with newer treatments and medications. Personally I think
she could go back to work given her personal activities these days. But she
cannot go back to work for risk of losing her lifetime SS and Medicare benefits.
That's a shame because I think she would be more happy back in her job.
My point is that SS permanent disability and
Medicare benefits may be dysfunctional to people who would be happier back on
Sugary soda is going out of style, but Pepsi and Coke are adapting ---
Unless there is a major breakthrough discovery for healthy and non-fattening
sweeteners I think the big money for Pepsi and Coke will be in bottled water and
slightly flavored water. Natural juices have too much sugar to be healthy as
more is being learned about current diet drinks being more harmful than the