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

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

Babe Ruth, Historic Home Run Hitter
What's sad is to witness what Syria has become because nobody will give up.

Why, we grow rusty and you catch us at the very point of decadence --- by this time tomorrow we may have forgotten everything we ever knew. That's a thought isn't it? We'd be back to where we started --- improvising.
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Act I)

And "because they're nonstate actors, it's hard for us to get the satisfaction of [Gen.] MacArthur and the [Japanese] Emperor [Hirohito] meeting and the war officially being over," Obama observed, referencing the end of World War II.
President Barack Obama when asked if the USA of the future will be perpetually engaged in war.

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

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Margaret Wheatley
Even conversations that are not politically correct.

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

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
George S. Patton
Why were nearly all poll statisticians thinking alike in 2016?

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

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

Wildlife populations plunge almost 60 percent since 1970: WWF ---

Political Correctness Book Banning
'To Kill a Mockingbird' Pulled From Virginia Schools Because of 'Racial Slurs' ---

WSJ:  Taxes Under Trump—Almost Everyone Pays Less, The Richest Pay A Lot Less ---
Jensen Comment
Firstly, Trump's tax reform wishes are not yet realities. Backing for his tax reforms is highly tenuous in both the House and Senate. Personally I don't think they have a chance due to powerful lobbying groups out to save charitable and real estate ownership tax benefits.
Secondly, if Trump's tax reforms should miraculously pass, it will put the Laffer Curve to a test regarding total tax revenues. Certainly there will be the Laffer Curve lag such that Laffer Curve gains are not felt for years to come like the Reagan tax cuts actually benefited Bill Clinton. always found it odd that Bill Clinton rescinded the Reagan tax cuts that helped him run a budget surplus.

Senate Votes 99-0 to Extend Sanctions on Iran ---
In defiance of Secretary of State John Kerry and Barack Obama. The vote in the House was 419-1. The bill is largely symbolic since the horses are already out of the barn.

What You Should Know About the Professor Who Has Trump’s Ear on the Economy ---
Jensen Comment
To me Professor Navarro is scary. At the end of the day we can only hope that possible President Trump will also listen to varied economic and business and foreign policy advisors. President Obama ended up being unhappy with his initial choices for advice on economics, business, foreign policy, defense, etc. What happened to Timothy Geithner, Mr. Obama’s choice for Treasury Secretary, and Lawrence Summers as Director of the Economic Council? The New York Times was skeptical of Geithner and Summers choices from the very beginning ---
One thing we're learning about the volatile Donald Trump --- he's more than willing to listen to other voices and change his mind on things. Don't take this as an endorsement from me.

Only 10,000 active workers remain to support more than 100,000 retirees, and many of those retired miners and their families depend on the benefits ---

Newspapers habitually and continually and as a matter of business practice every form of mendacity known to man, from the suppression of the truth and the suggestion of the false to the lie direct
Theodore Roosevelt

My Fellow-Americans, We Must Not Let the Race-Baiters Divide Us ---

In most countries, 70–80 percent of men who had ever forced a woman or girl to have sex said they had done so because they felt entitled to have sex, regardless of consent ---

Time Magazine:  Why Jill Stein's Push for Recounts is Bad News for Democrats (and possibly fraudulent) ---

Progressives who wish for a less reactionary America could begin by trying to understand the Trump voter ---

Do Illegal Votes Decide Elections? There’s no way to know. But the evidence suggests that significant numbers of noncitizens cast ballots ---

President Obama claims that if more young people had voted Hilliary Clinton would've won by a landslide. What he failed to mention is that many young people did not vote because she, with the aid of the DNC, cheated Bernie Sanders out of victory. Exhibit A is Hillary's willingness to cheat sanders by getting the debate questions in advance.
Bob Jensen

I read where Hillary spent three times as much per vote as did Trump
Donors on Hillary Blowing The Election: We Basically Lit Our Money on Fire ---
Jensen Comment
I don't think anybody, especially Wall Street investment houses and banks, thought Hillary could possibly lose. Most were paying into her campaign and into the Clinton Foundation to receive favors later on when she was President. At one time she was making speech deals for $200,000 to $400,000. I wonder what she will charge for a speech in 2018?
I also think that when trying to disrupt the USA election process Putin thought Hillary could possibly lose. He may be sorry now that he helped a hawkish President, Cabinet, Senate, and House actually won the election (subject of course to recount outcomes).

I was dumb enough to think I would be able to talk people out of voting for Donald Trump
Tech Billionaire Mark Cuban
Jensen Comment
In the above article Mark Cuban blames Trump's victory on MSM haters --- Main Stream Media haters
He has a point given the ABC, NBC, and CBS efforts to go along with the New York Times massive effort to crush trump and the rise of Fox News as an alternative news source
But we must remember that the Trump victory was razor thin. This was not an overwhelming mandate to drain the swamp or alter the MSM Democratic Party biases. Late night comedians are not going go start making vicious humor about Democrats.

Why Socrates Hated Democracies ---
Jensen Comment
 Mostly because ignorant people are in charge. However, history is replete with ignorant dictators as well.

How Fidel Castro rose to power and ruled Cuba for 5 decades ---

The Very Dark Side of Fidel Castro ---

The Atlantic:  The Case for the Cuban Embargo

Cuba has a two-tier healthcare system like all communist countries, lags in other indicators, and lacks basic human rights ---

Sixty Years of Fidel Castro's Fake News ---

Fidel Castro once asked the leader of the Soviet Union to annihilate the US with nuclear weapons ---

Fidel Castro’s War on Religion ---
Jensen Comment
Castro considered Christianity tp be pro-capitalist, although it's not clear to me if he was opposed to all other types of religions. Over time he softened after the collapse of the Soviet Union and allowed Pope John Paul II to visit Cuba in 1998 followed by visits from Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Cuba
In 2012 there were 10,000 Muslims in Cuba, including Muslim students studying in Cuban universities.
Castro even softened to a very limited extent on his hatred of capitalism.

Still, we meet this day with clear eyes. Generations of Cuban political prisoners, democracy activists and families suffered under Fidel Castro’s rule. In their name, we will continue to press the Cuban regime to embrace the political, social, and economic dreams of the Cuban people.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

Can't stuff them back into the bottle
Austria is threatening to sue its neighbour if it doesn't take back migrants

Sweden Seeks to Relocate Thousands of Migrants ---

Sweden Is Now Paying Migrants to Leave (after rejecting asylum requests)---
Norway started the trend followed by Germany and now Sweden. Finland exports them quickly to Sweden, and Denmark never let them in in any serious numbers. Paying undocumented immigrants to leave the USA does not work well because it is so easy for them to return in a matter of weeks.

Germany:  Seeking to Repatriate (read that deport) 100,000 migrants ---
Jensen Comment
Things are somewhat different now that Merkel is facing in a re-election campaign. Generously opened its borders to thousands of refugees and is not overwhelmed.

Jensen Comment
Sweden received the most refugees relative to population in the EU. It now claims to be overwhelmed.

Hypocrite of the Year
Jill Stein rails against Big Carbon, big banks, Big Pharma—while she holds substantial investments in them ---

Even the Green Party Has Turned Against Jill Stein ---

Jimmy Carter Espouses Anti-Israel Venom Like a Cancer ---

Movie theaters across India must play the national anthem before every film, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. The anthem -- "Jana Gana Mana" -- will be accompanied by an image of the Indian flag. "All present in the (cinema) hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem," Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy wrote. The ruling is in response to a petition filed by Narayan Chouksey, a retired engineer in Bhopal, who asked the court to "specify what would be constituting disrespect and abuse of the national anthem."

Leave Your Shoes at the Door
It's now legal to urinate and defecate on the streets of San Francisco even though it's not a good thing for tourism or health (don't walk barefoot on hotel room carpets)---

The Cow Fart Police in California:  California To Start Regulating Cow Farts ---
Jensen Comment
Don't tell Jerry Brown, but as milk and dairy prices skyrocket in California it's possible to get fresh milk and many dairy products from Amazon. At what point will California's dairy farmers start selling their land for more ticky-tack housing? The lowest Amazon price I found today was $.59 per ounce which leaves a lot of cushion for California fresh milk price rises. However, customers may buy cheaper milk substitutes and powdered milk on Amazon as well.
It won't be long before California's fart police are sent to nursing homes and homes for wayward boys.
Our two sons in Yuba City, California have warned me that in the future I may need a special permit to visit them.

Forbes:  McDonalds Introduces Self-Services Kiosks ---

The American Dream is Collapsing for Young Adults ---
Jensen Comment
Much of the American Dream centered upon retailing small businesses. We have to wonder about the role Amazon and Wal-Mart plays in the fading American Dream
I don't know how our tiny local hardware store hangs on ---

20-year-old Justin Nojan Sullivan pled guilty on Tuesday morning to a chilling terrorist plot in which he planned to use a silenced gun to murder hundreds of people in Virginia and North Carolina on behalf of the Islamic State. He has agreed to serve a life sentence in prison ---

German public TV accused of being too 'politically correct' to report on migrant rape-murder case ---

What the Dakota Access Pipeline Is Really About The standoff isn’t about tribal rights or water, but a White House that ignores the rule of law ---

There's a big change happening to Social Security in 2017 — here's what you need to know ---

The US is $19.9 trillion in debt — here are the countries we owe the most ---
Jensen Comment
I remember the Jane Fonda1981  movie called "Rollover" where the Arabs refuse to rollover their investment in US debt ---
China has since overtaken the Arabs in holding Uncle Sam somewhere below the belt.

Animated map shows the most dangerous countries in the world for tourists ---

Data from a Few Years Back on the Largest Single Donors to Republicans Versus Democrats ---

Bob Dylan's Nobel Speech ---

As a performer I've played for 50,000 people and I've played for 50 people and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona, not so with 50. Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves. They can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried. The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not lost on me.
Bob Dylan

They say that patriotism is the last refuge
To which a scoundrel clings.
Steal a little and they throw you in jail,
Steal a lot and they make you king.
There's only one step down from here, baby,
It's called the land of permanent bliss. 
What's a sweetheart like you doin' in a dump like this?

Bob Dylan

Well, the 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

Bob Dylan

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son
And what did you see, my darling young one
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Bob Dylan

Patti Smith Sings Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rains Gonna Fall” at Nobel Prize Ceremony & Gets a Case of the Nerves ---

I think this was a cartoon in The New Yorker.
The CEO stands in front of a chart showing a pending financial disaster.
The CEO says to his chief accountant:
"Digbee, the only thing that can save us is an accounting miracle!"

GAO Assails Department Of Education's Cost Estimates Of Income-Driven Student Loans, Projects 39% ($137 Billion) Of 1995-2017 Loans Will Not Be Repaid ---

Jensen Comment

We have to think that maybe the Department of Education's accountants took lessons on how to cheat from the House Budget Committee estimating the future costs of Obamacare around the turn of the 21st Century. The errors are so enormous one has to think that these errors are intentional in both cases.

 If this was such a good deal Chicago and Detroit would've imposed such a surtax years ago.

Portland city council passes tax on CEOs who earn 100 times more than staff ---

. . .

The Portland, Oregon, city council has voted to pass a first-of-its-kind measure that would levy a tax on public companies whose CEO-to-workers pay ratio is more than 100-1. Portland to vote on taxing companies if CEO earns 100 times more than staff Read more

The new tax, which seeks to address income inequality, was voted in 3-1 by the council on Wednesday. It increases corporate income tax by 10% if a company’s CEO has a salary ratio of above 100-1, and by 25% if the CEO has a ratio of 250-1 or more.

Officials expect that the measure will raise $2.5m a year from January 2018, with former environmental lawyer Steve Novick, the city commissioner who proposed the measure, saying that the revenue is intended to be used to pay for programs for homeless people.

There are around 540 publicly traded companies that do enough business in Portland to be subject to the business income tax under current law, Novick said. It is unclear how many of those have CEO-to-worker pay ratios that would make them subject to the increased surcharge.

Novick said he had decided to come up with a measure to address the problems of income inequality while reading French economist Thomas Piketty’s book Capital.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Keep in mind that this is not a tax on those fat-corporations. It's a regressive tax on shoppers in the City of Portland. The people paying most of the tax will be the poor and middle-class residents of Portland. For example, the prices of things like groceries may end up higher in Portland than its surrounding suburbs. Affected companies may lay off some Portland workers to protect profits. For example, inside the city the checkout lines and service counter lines may be longer than in similar stores in the suburbs.

And to the extent that the affected companies avoid investing in real estate and new jobs in Portland the city hurts in spite of the revenue raised by this new corporate income tax.

 It's probable that homeless people and panhandlers in Portland's suburbs and nearby cities like Eugene, Tacoma, and  Seattle will be attracted to the better free food and facilities for them in downtown Portland.

The criterion of taxing only businesses having highly-paid CEOs is just a smoke and mirrors excuse to tax the poor and middle class workers in Portland, Oregon.

The roses were previously wilting in the City of Roses after the surtax on large corporation operations in Portland (irrespective of CEO pay). This simply adds to the wilt.

I'm reminded that over half the license plates in our closest Wal-Mart parking lot are green due to shoppers seeking to avoid Vermont's sales tax, especially on big ticket items like tires, television sets, and computers. In return many of the homeless people moved from New Hampshire to Vermont because of the much better welfare benefits in Vermont. Meanwhile physicians and other high income people in Vermont moved across the border into New Hampshire to avoid Vermont's high state income tax. There's a big Morgan Stanley investment firm building in Lebanon, New Hampshire serving thousands of physicians, some of whom set up private practices just across the border from Vermont. There's no Morgan Stanley building on the other side of the Connecticut River.

Even in states that have legalized marijuana, using it means sacrificing your right to armed self-defense ---

. . .

If you are one of the 68 million Americans who live in a state that has decided to allow recreational use of marijuana, or one of the 186 million who live in a state that recognizes marijuana as a medicine, you may have been under the impression that legalization makes cannabis consumption lawful. The ATF wants to disabuse you of that notion; hence the warning.

"We were concerned that some buyers who use marijuana may read the 2012 language asking if they were an 'unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana' and erroneously say no because in that particular state, marijuana has been legalized," an ATF spokeswoman told The Denver Post last week. "Most dealers recognize that marijuana use prohibits people from purchasing firearms under federal law, but many members of the general public may not be as familiar with the Gun Control Act."

Under that law, a cannabis consumer who possesses a gun (no matter where he got it) is guilty of a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Likewise anyone who sells him a gun if has reason to know the buyer is a cannabis consumer. Falsely denying marijuana use on Form 4473 can get you up to five years.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
If you have one or more guns for protecting yourself and your home, think again about ever buying or even going near marijuana. If you are thinking about taking marijuana for pain think trying other pain killers.

What is not clear is enforcement or lack thereof. For example, what about guns in your house that you already possess and will not be filing Form 4473 for those guns. If you buy marijuana legally will the AFF be raiding your home looking for guns? Perhaps not unless they have other reasons to find your guns. Legal marijuana purchase may become an excuse, however, to look for guns in your house or car.

What's probably unfair about the law is that alcohol abusers are likely to be far more impaired that marijuana abusers.

Big Brother knows when you purchase marijuana legally. Have three double martinis instead (but don't drive).


Countries With the Most Generous Welfare Programs Can't Afford Them ---

Jensen Comment
I question whether the top welfare spenders can really afford it these days because they also have high unemployment, including the generous welfare spenders of France, Finland, Belgium, and Italy at Ranks 1-4. Italy is probably least able to sustain such generous welfare. High welfare spenders like Italy and Greece are in need of more EU bailouts. Only a few high welfare spenders like Germany, Austria, and Norway have sound economies. Finland historically has a sound economy but is struggling with very high unemployment at the moment. Sweden is in the process of trying to offload too many refugees.

Can't stuff them back into the bottle
Austria is threatening to sue its neighbour if it doesn't take back migrants

Sweden Seeks to Relocate Thousands of Migrants ---

Sweden Is Now Paying Migrants to Leave (after rejecting asylum requests)---
Norway started the trend followed by Germany and now Sweden. Finland exports them quickly to Sweden, and Denmark never let them in in any serious numbers. Paying undocumented immigrants to leave the USA does not work well because it is so easy for them to return in a matter of weeks.

Germany:  Seeking to Repatriate (read that deport) 100,000 migrants ---
Jensen Comment
Things are somewhat different now that Merkel is facing in a re-election campaign. Generously opened its borders to thousands of refugees and is not overwhelmed.


Boeing's Illegal Tax Incentive from the State of Washington

From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on November 28, 2016

Boeing faces WTO sanctions. The World Trade Organization as early as Monday is expected to rule that Boeing Co. has been granted illegal state subsidies, according to people familiar with the finding. The judgment involves tax incentives Boeing will receive from Washington state to build its new 777X widebody plane, the latest round in a long-running dispute between the U.S. and the European Union over support for Boeing and Airbus Group SE. Boeing said the value of the 777X tax incentive is $50 million a year.

The CEO of Ford just perfectly summarized the biggest problem for electric cars ---

Jensen Comment
CEO Mark Fields contends the sales demand just isn't there.

Sure there are rich people in warm climates providing a niche market for Tesla electric cars as long as taxpayers are stupid enough to continue paying the 1% huge subsidies for purchase prices and provide free roads and bridges for electric cars. But those rich folks have gasoline cars for longer trips beyond the limited ranges of electric cars.

Sure there are rich people not worried about what Trump's angry China might do to the price of lithium. Rich folks have other cars.

I suspect there will be an increased market for hybrids since they have longer ranges. Those cars make sense.

All eyes on on the forthcoming Chevy Bolt since the Bolt is cheaper than the Tesla and has a worldwide network of dealers.

Ford's CEO Mark Fields does not seem to be losing sleep over competition from Tesla or Bolt.

The serious long-term vehicle of the future might be hydrogen powered. We're not dependent upon China for hydrogen. There's a new startup company that's actually making 18-wheel hydrogen trucks.

It's the Worst for Wurst (and imported cars and other goods from around the world)

From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on November 28, 2016

For years, Germans have worn their title with pride. From 2003 to 2008, the world’s fourth-largest economy was dubbed “Exportweltmeister,” German for world export champion, a description of the country’s massive current-account surplus. For 2016, Germany is forecast to regain the title from China, to which it lost it in 2015.

The outlook, however, is less promising, Natascha Divac and Sarah Sloat report. Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, after a campaign attacking free trade, has German companies scrambling to tally the impact. Germany shipped $125 billion in goods to the U.S. last year, 2.5 times what it imported from the U.S. The U.S. is Germany’s largest trading partner, accounting for almost 10% of all German exports. “If Trump can enact the trade limits he has announced, the damage would be substantial,” said Clemens Fuest, president of Germany’s Ifo Institute for Economic Research. He estimates 1.5 million German jobs depend on exports to the U.S.

Jensen Comment

We expect prices will be higher for some German food items we buy through Amazon. But it's not clear how much our next Subaru will increase in price since it's assembled in Indiana. Many of the components, however, come from Japan.

I expect those Midwestern farmers who voted for Trump will become unhappy over the decline in farm exports, especially those Asian exports.

I'm vote no on protectionism and tariffs.

Although the number of Thanksgiving online shoppers increased by 10 million over last year, customer spending in total this year was down nearly 3.5% ---

Jensen Comment
Some travelers are saving up for those cheap winter vacations in Cuba.

25 of Prospering Versus Dying Industries in the USA ---

Among the most prosperous industries eldercare slightly edged out goat farming, oil pipeline construction, and technical services like accounting and consulting ---
Note that a prospering industry need not mean growing employment in that industry if robotics are taking over.
And a prospering industry need not have highly paid employees.

It's not a good time to be into fabrics, newspapers, and land developing.

What Does Betsy DeVos Have in Mind for Higher Ed? ---

. . .

But it’s hard to find evidence of Ms. DeVos having taken any positions on higher-ed policy. Neal McCluskey, director of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, put it bluntly in an analysis of her nomination: "I have no idea where DeVos stands on early-childhood or higher-education issues, and the latter, especially, is gigantic."

"DeVos will essentially be taking over a hugely bureaucratic lending company — with lots of regulatory power — that on a day-to-day basis could prove to be a far greater burden than she expected," Mr. McCluskey wrote.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
One of the problem with higher education for-profits is that they've become almost entirely dependent upon government to pay the tuition of their students. Another problem is that their admission and academic standards are suspected of being lower than those of their competitors in the public sector of higher education. If Ms Devos promotes academic standards and more competitiveness among the for-profits for students then she might be a breath of fresh air in the Department of Education. However, it's not clear that the for-profits can really compete with the public sector where online education is soaring with more reputable universities and professors.

For-profits might become more competitive if accrediting agencies like the AACSB are forced to open the door a crack for-profits with deep funding with such new names as Google University, GE Technical Institute, Budweiser University, etc.

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on distance education alternatives --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm



The Great Eucalyptus Debate:  Science Can't Tell Us What to Do
When environmentalists clash among themselves it's not a "clear cut" war between bad guys versus good guys
When the research of prestigious universities (think Stanford and UC Berkeley)  is not trusted by residents on and near those campuses


Jensen Commen6t
When I lived on the Stanford University campus (six years as a graduate student plus two later years in a think tank) I loved to walk among the towering Eucalyptus trees and breathe their wonderful aroma. Even when healthy these towering giants usually look like they're dying among lots of falling branches and bark,


Eucalyptus trees are slow (think centuries) growing and very hard and heavy --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptus


California. In the 1850s
Eucalyptus trees were introduced to California by Australians during the California Gold Rush. Much of California has a similar climate to parts of Australia. By the early 1900s, thousands of acres of eucalypts were planted with the encouragement of the state government. It was hoped that they would provide a renewable source of timber for construction, furniture making and railroad ties. It was soon found that for the latter purpose eucalyptus was particularly unsuitable, as the ties made from eucalyptus had a tendency to twist while drying, and the dried ties were so tough that it was nearly impossible to hammer rail spikes into them. They went on to note that the promise of eucalyptus in California was based on the old virgin forests of Australia.
This was a mistake as the young trees being harvested in California could not compare in quality to the centuries-old eucalyptus timber of Australia. It reacted differently to harvest. The older trees didn't split or warp as the infant California crop did. There was a vast difference between the two, and this would doom the California eucalyptus industry. One way in which the eucalyptus, mainly the blue gum E. globulus, proved valuable in California was in providing windbreaks for highways, orange groves, and other farms in the mostly treeless central part of the state. They are also admired as shade and ornamental trees in many cities and gardens. Eucalyptus plantations in California have been criticised because they compete with native plants and do not support native animals. Fire is also a problem. The 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm which destroyed almost 3,000 homes and killed 25 people was partly fuelled by large numbers of eucalypts close to the houses.[41] In some parts of California, eucalypt plantations are being removed and native trees and plants restored. Individuals have also illegally destroyed some trees and are suspected of introducing insect pests from Australia which attack the trees.[42] Eucalyptus trees also grow in parts of the Pacific Northwest: Washington, Oregon and parts of British Columbia.

Eucalyptus tree fire hazard --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptus#Fire_hazard
What makes them doubly dangerous are the many arsonists ready, willing, and able to start fires in troubled California


The Great Eucalyptus Debate
The Bay Area is deadlocked in a battle over whether its non-native blue gum trees should be felled or protected


. . .


Macalister isn’t 100 percent sure she could trust a NAS report, but she likes the idea better than charging a local university with studying these issues. “I would say it is a roll of the dice, but if you must put the dice in particular hands, the Academy is certainly better than local options,” she says.


Science can’t tell us what to do, whether to hone the axe and ready the glyphosphate or simply spread a picnic blanket under the canopy and relax. But in an ideal world, there would be an agreed-upon set of facts. From there, the differences of opinions would flow from different values, and there’s always hope that opposing values can expand and melt into each other—that compromise and compassion can be achieved. Until then, the magnificent Tasmanian blue gum is, in some sense, a prisoner of dueling realities.

Jensen Comment
I side with Mary Macalister in her quest to save the trees. But then I don't own nearby real estate (wish I did).


6 million Americans have stopped paying their car loans, and it's becoming a 'significant concern' ---


California: Where the Air is Pure and the Streets are Putrid

It's now legal to urinate and defecate on the streets of San Francisco even though it's not a good thing for tourism or health (don't walk barefoot on hotel room carpets)---

The Cow Fart Police in California:  California To Start Regulating Cow Farts ---
Jensen Comment
Don't tell Jerry Brown, but as milk and dairy prices skyrocket in California it's possible to get fresh milk and many dairy products from Amazon. At what point will California's dairy farmers start selling their land for more ticky-tack housing? The lowest Amazon price I found today was $.59 per ounce which leaves a lot of cushion for California fresh milk price rises. However, customers may buy cheaper milk substitutes and powdered milk on Amazon as well.
It won't be long before California's fart police are sent to nursing homes and homes for wayward boys.
Our two sons in Yuba City, California have warned me that in the future I may need a special permit to visit them.

Examples of Junk Science: A Pseudoscience Whistleblower Story ---


The 400 Individual Income Tax Returns Reporting the Largest Adjusted Gross Incomes Each Year, 1992–2014 ---


The fastest way to destroy the United Nations would be to five every adult on earth one vote for UN representatives
Bob Jensen


"The Slippery Statistics Of the Popular Vote,"  by Walter A. McDougall, The New York Times, November 16, 2000 ---

. . .

What is the significance of such historical revisionism for our conundrum today? First, it stands as a warning against those who would tinker with the Constitution because they don't like one possible outcome, or because they try to change the rules after the game is over. The national popular vote can be as indecipherable, not to mention inaccurate or dishonest, as the Electoral College result, and to abolish the Electoral College in favor of a national referendum would make every vote cast or disqualified everywhere as potentially decisive as those in Palm Beach County, Fla., are this week.

Second, 1960 and 2000 alike demonstrate that the popular vote means nothing because the candidates understood from the start that they were competing for states and they both campaigned on that basis. If the rules going into this election had stipulated that the popular vote alone would determine the victor, then Mr. Bush would have camped out in California, upstate New York and Illinois, and might well have swamped Mr. Gore in the national vote. But instead, judging that he would not carry those populous states, Bush focused elsewhere in a campaign to win a majority of electoral votes.

Third, and perhaps most important, 1960 teaches us that a candidate can win by a very slim margin (indeed, even lose the popular vote), and still govern effectively. President Kennedy sought to unite, not divide. He promoted bipartisanship on issues as volatile as civil rights, tax cuts and the cold war, and he preserved his nation's respect and affection for the office of the presidency.


Differences Between the Electoral Vote Versus the Popular Vote---



Popular votes like government programs (think Medicare, Medicaid, Pentagon) etc. are prone to bigger frauds simply because they enable massive frauds as is noted in the above article.


Advantages of the Electoral Vote over a Popular Vote

Supporters of using the electoral vote argue that it protects the rights of smaller states and is a cornerstone of American federalism. States can design their own mechanism -- without federal involvement -- for choosing their electors.

Another advantage is that the impact of any state-level problems, such as fraud, is localized. No political party can commit large-scale fraud in any one state to dramatically influence an election.

It should be noted that the Electoral College merely follows from state influence in Congress, which enacts laws and acts as an inherent checks-and-balances mechanism for the president's administration. That is to say representation for various states in Congress is also not directly proportional to their population.

Another huge problem is that it's impossible for the Constitution to anticipate all possible rights that need protecting since what some voters will call "rights" approaches infinity and change radically with circumstances.
The biggest problem in theory is that under "majority rule" rights that are not protected will inevitably gore somebody's ox in a popular vote, especially when all elections are not win-win games. And yes in most elections it's impossible for all sides to win at the same time. Does having a majority of votes on an issue make the voting automatically fair/equitable? I would argue no!
Another huge problem is that a majority of voters at times may prefer short-term choices that are far from optimal in the long run. This is an extension of the accounting issue of short-term profits versus long-term profits. The majority of voters in a popular election may prefer choices that are even harmful to themselves in the long run.
Another huge problem is that the majority of voters may prefer a Presidential candidate primarily on the basis of one issue affecting where the majority of voters reside. For example suppose that candidate wants to turn Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming into a National Park and that this overwhelmingly appeals to voters in the other states. That same candidate might also want to eliminate taxes and pay government expenses by simply printing new money. In other words being popular on one issue and horrible on a raft of other issues becomes more likely if there are no checks and balances of voters in other regions.
Getting down to specifics on one topic is the topic of "inequality." We cannot have "equality of resources" in an economy that matches perfectly with "equality of opportunity." Opportunity enables inequality. Only one person can be the first violinist in the symphony. We can give musicians equal training and equal performance tests, but only one can become first violinist unless we rotate being "first" among all the violinists. But be being elected "first billionaire" for only one year does not work very well in practice as far as wealth distribution is concerned.
What Jagdish views as the most equitable voting process does not overcome what Socrates hated about Democracy in general.



Economist Magazine:  India's Road to Robin Hood Monitory Hell is Paved With Good Intentions

Jensen Comment
In the USA a huge underground (cash-only) economy allows criminals to launder money, rich folks to avoid income taxes, and laborers to avoid payroll taxes.

In India the underground economy is even more of a problem.

"Modi's Bungle:  Narendra Modi needs to take measures to mitigate the damage his rupee reform has done," Economist Magazine, December 3, 2016 ---

. . .

Not the way to do it

The plan has laudable aims. Its initial popularity was based on the idea that the greedy rich, with their ill-gotten “black money” stored in stacks of banknotes, will get their comeuppance. Those who cannot justify the sources of their wealth will face punitive taxes. It also accords with Mr Modi’s manifesto pledge to normalise India’s black economy, estimated by the World Bank in 2010 to be worth about one-fifth of official GDP. The idea is that India will become more efficient, as more people and more money enter the banking system; counterfeit currency will become worthless; India’s woefully low tax base will expand; and government coffers will enjoy a windfall of cash expropriated from the corrupt.

It is a pity, then, that Mr Modi’s scheme to achieve these aims is so flawed. Banknotes are not just a way for the rich to store their wealth; they are also how the unbanked survive. As so often, the burden of this reform has fallen most heavily on the poor (see article). Over four-fifths of India’s workers are in the “informal” sector, paid in cash. Untold numbers have been laid off because their employers cannot pay them. Tens of millions have queued for hours at cash machines and bank branches, to get rid of the useless notes and get hold of some spending money. A new business has sprung up in laundering cash for a fee for those without the time or inclination to queue, or with more notes than they can account for.

Cash is used for 98% by volume of all consumer transactions in India. With factories idle, small shops struggling and a shortage of cash to pay farmers for their produce, the economy is stuttering. There are reports that sales of farm staples have fallen by half and those of consumer durables by 70%. Guesses at the effect on national output vary wildly, but the rupee withdrawal could shave two percentage points off annual GDP growth (running at 7.1% in the three months to September).

With a bit of forethought, much of the mayhem could have been avoided. It turns out that the new notes are smaller and require all the country’s ATMs to be reconfigured, which takes 45 days. Some 22bn notes are affected, but printing capacity is said by the previous finance minister to amount to only 3bn a month. So even if fewer notes are needed, because more money will be in banks, printing them will take some time. The banks were ill-prepared to handle about 8.5trn rupees in new deposits in the three weeks after demonetisation. After they used the deposits to buy bonds, lowering interest rates, the central bank had to order them to park the new money with it, in zero-interest accounts.

If Mr Modi’s plea for patience for a 50-day period until the end of the year looks optimistic, so does the promise of “the India of your dreams”, purged of the corrupt and their loot. In India’s black economy of undeclared, untaxed income, all sorts of transactions, from medical bills to house purchases, are sometimes settled with suitcase-loads of banknotes. Yet even if the hoarders will be wary of another confiscation in the future, they will be tempted to make use of the new 2,000-rupee note just as they used the old 1,000-rupee one.

Moreover, Mr Modi was wrong when he said that the rich now need sleeping pills, while the poor sleep peacefully. In past seizures of illegal wealth, only between 3.75% and 7.3% was found to be kept in cash. The sleepless are those who need cash to get by; the truly rich are laughing all the way to their flats in London. The punitive taxes levied on black money that is deposited will feel like flea-bites. As for the counterfeiters, most estimates of the value of fake rupees are in the tens of millions of dollars, out of $250bn in circulation.

Both for the sake of Indians and for his premiership, Mr Modi needs to mitigate some of the harm he has caused. He should find ways of printing the new money more quickly. More important, he should also lengthen the period over which notes may be exchanged or deposited and allow the old notes to remain valid as payments for a range of goods and services (tax payments, say, would seem logical).

Somewhat too sensational

Much in India needs reform—abolishing restrictive labour rules, for example. In the past such reform has often been stymied by a system that favours government by committee. Mr Modi has lurched to the other extreme. The perceived need for secrecy (to take cash-hoarders by surprise) fed into the innate sense he has of his own infallibility and his misplaced faith in his technocratic skills. By designing a scheme that was needlessly callous and which is becoming increasingly unpopular, he has squandered political capital. In future he needs to consult more widely, centralise less decision-making in his own hands and acknowledge that not all criticism is partisan or special pleading from the corrupt rich. India, fortunately, is not North Korea, and is aware that leaders are fallible. Its federal, democratic system will give voters plenty of chances to let it be known how badly Mr Modi has messed up his rupee rescue.






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

    Best Medical Schools in the World (2013) ---
    More of the Top 50 are in the USA relative to any other nation.

    World Health Organization ranking of health systems in 2000 ---

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

    Medicare Fraud is Rampant ---

    The Atlantic:  In a Decade, Oklahoma's Earthquakes Will Be Normal Again (but watch out for next year) ---

    Waterboarding is Not Torture ---

    . . .

    During the war on terror, the CIA alone had been authorized to use the technique. I personally waterboarded the only three terrorists subjected to the tactic by the CIA. I also waterboarded two U.S. government lawyers, at their request, when they were trying to decide for themselves whether the practice was “torture.” They determined it was not.

    I volunteered to be waterboarded myself and can assure you that it is not a pleasant experience. But no one volunteers to be tortured.

    Waterboarding was never the first, nor the best, choice for most detainees. We started out with the “tea and sympathy” approach and only escalated to harsher methods when it became clear that the detainee held vital information that might save innocent lives and was determined not to provide it. We quickly moved away from enhanced interrogations as soon as the detainee showed even a little cooperation.

    The people I dealt with were not run-of-the-mill battlefield detainees, but hardened terrorists. Men like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. These people were hellbent on bringing about further devastation.

    I would ask Gen. Mattis this: Imagine being captured by America’s enemies. Would you give up important secrets that could get fellow Americans captured or killed in exchange for a Michelob and a pack of Marlboros?

    In our case, it is not as if we had unlimited time to see if we could buddy up to terrorists to find out if another attack was on the horizon. There were multiple attacks being planned at the time. For example, not long after 9/11 the CIA was told of an al Qaeda effort to obtain nuclear fissionable material. When KSM was captured in 2003, we asked whether another major attack was in the works, and he responded, “Soon you will know.” We didn’t have time to dither.

    Critics will point to the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report that declared enhanced interrogation didn’t work. The investigation cost $40 million and took five years, yet investigators didn’t even speak to anyone involved in the program. Anyway, a report produced by an extremely partisan congressional committee deserves skepticism to begin with.

    I am not advocating that Mr. Trump “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” as he suggested during the campaign. But the president-elect needs to think through what to do when the U.S. captures a major terrorist who likely has information about an impending nuclear, chemical or biological attack. Is he prepared to say that if intelligence cannot be elicited using only the tactics contained in the Army Field Manual—as President Obama has directed—we will simply have to live with the consequences?

    Some in government have argued that for the U.S. to maintain the moral high ground, all harsh interrogation tactics should remain illegal, as they have been since the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016 was enacted.

    Yet in a ticking-time-bomb scenario, should CIA officers just do whatever is necessary and hope for clemency in the trial that would follow? As someone who was thrown under the bus by the Obama Justice Department, I believe it is unreasonable to expect CIA officers to put their lives at risk to protect a government that will not do its best to protect them in return. Overemphasize political correctness, and we will be standing on the moral high ground, looking down into a smoking hole that used to be several city blocks.

    Mr. Mitchell, a retired Air Force officer and former CIA contractor, is the author of “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America,” out last month from Crown Forum.

    Jensen Comment
    Waterboarding use in much a matter of what's at stake. Many leaders who say their aborted by the thought, including President Obama or Mayor DeBlasio,  would do it in a New York minute if the future of NYC was at stake in an almost certain pending threat of use of a WMD in New York City. Finding perpetrators of disasters after the fact, such as the implosion of the Twin Towers, is not nearly as serious as preventing the implosion of an entire city.

    Russia's Bad Health Care System Is Getting Worse ---

    From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on December 2, 2016

    Obamacare’s bright spots and drawbacks
    Here’s the good news: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, more Americans have access to health care than ever before, Leemore Dafny and Dr. Thomas Lee write for Harvard Business Review. The bad news? The care itself hasn’t improved much. Despite the hard work of dedicated providers, our health-care system remains chaotic, unreliable, inefficient and crushingly expensive.

    Nation's Top Hospitals Refuse Obamacare-Insured Patients ---

    Something you will never hear in a speech by President Obama
    Major hospitals in Obama's home town of Chicago will no longer serve patients insured in Obamacare exchanges (except in true emergencies) ---

    News Item Prior to November 8 Election of President Trump
    Major Chicago Hospitals Not In 2017 Obamacare Marketplace Plans -

    Some of Chicago’s largest hospitals said they will not be part of any Cook County Affordable Care Act marketplace plans in 2017.


    University of Chicago Medical Center and Rush University Medical Center both said they don’t plan to be in network for any Obamacare marketplace plans next year. 



    The change means patients with doctors at those hospitals will either need to find a plan off the marketplace, and lose Obamacare subsides, or find a new doctor.


    Northwestern Memorial Hospital said it will also be out of the marketplace, but will have exceptions for some of its partner hospitals.

    Continued in article

    According to emergency room physicians Obamacare made it much worse for emergency rooms.
    American College of Emergency Room Physicians
    The Uninsured: Access to Medical Care Fact Sheet ---

    "Sen. Chuck Schumer: Obamacare Focused 'On The Wrong Problem,' Ignores The Middle Class" by  Avik Roy, Forbes, November 26, 2014 ---

    Despite the enduring unpopularity of Obamacare, Congressional Democrats have up to now stood by their health care law, allowing that “it’s not perfect” but that they are proud of their votes to pass it. That all changed on Tuesday, when the Senate’s third-highest-ranking Democrat—New York’s Chuck Schumer—declared that “we took [the public’s] mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform…When Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, ‘The Democrats aren’t paying enough attention to me.’”

    Sen. Schumer made his remarks at the National Press Club in Washington. “Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them…Now, the plight of uninsured Americans and the hardships caused by unfair insurance company practices certainly needed to be addressed,” Schumer maintained. “But it wasn’t the change we were hired to make. Americans were crying out for the end to the recession, for better wages and more jobs—not changes in health care.”

    “This makes sense,” Schumer continued, “considering 85 percent of all Americans got their health care from either the government, Medicare, Medicaid, or their employer. And if health care costs were going up, it really did not affect them. The Affordable Care Act was aimed at the 36 million Americans who were not covered. It has been reported that only a third of the uninsured are even registered to vote…it made no political sense.”

    The response from Obama Democrats was swift. Many, like Obama speechwriters Jon Lovett and Jon Favreau and NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor, took to Twitter. “Shorter Chuck Schumer,” said Vietor, “I wish Obama cared more about helping Democrats than sick people.

    Medicaid Explodes New enrollments vastly exceed estimates, and states are on the hook. ---

    On Donald Trump’s victory Republicans in Congress are primed for an ambitious agenda, and not a moment too soon. One immediate problem is ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid, which has seen enrollment at least twice as high as advertised.

    Most of the insurance coverage gains from the law come from opening Medicaid eligibility beyond its original goal of helping the poor and disabled to include prime-age, able-bodied, childless adults. The Supreme Court made this expansion optional in 2012, and Governors claimed not joining would leave “free money” on the table because the feds would pick up 100% of the costs of new beneficiaries.

    In a new report this week for the Foundation for Government Accountability, Jonathan Ingram and Nicholas Horton tracked down the original enrollment projections by actuaries in 24 states that expanded and have since disclosed at least a year of data on the results. Some 11.5 million people now belong to ObamaCare’s new class of able-bodied enrollees, or 110% higher than the projections.

    Analysts in California expected only 910,000 people to sign up, but instead 3.84 million have, 322% off the projections. The situation is nearly as dire in New York, where enrollment is 276% higher than expected, and Illinois, which is up 90%. This liberal state triumvirate is particularly notable because they already ran generous welfare states long before ObamaCare.

    Continued in article

    Jensen Comment
    President Obama baited the hook by claiming the Federal Government would pay for Medicaid expansion. But the states that took the bait are now on the hook. Medicaid is not the largest single expense item in most states, and the expense that will go completely out of control (heavily due to fraud) will be the cost of caring for older people where medical expenses are greatest, especially since Medicaid foots sometimes years of all  nursing home and medication costs.

    Elder abuse – Often the kin did it: Feds to collect data.---

    What kind of people cheat and financially abuse incapacitated older folks?

    Sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and lawyers – people who act as guardians for their relatives and clients.

    What can the federal government do about it?

    Currently not much, because elder abuse generally is considered a state and local problem. But at least the federal government can help with the important step of defining the problem. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to soon launch a data collection program that will assist experts combating elderly exploitation.

    “Unfortunately, the extent of elder abuse by guardians is relatively unknown to us due to the limited data that we have available,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said at a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing last week.

    The title of the hearing gets to the point — “Trust Betrayed: Financial Abuse of Older Americans by Guardians and Others in Power.”

    “The amount of money lost through exploitation of elders is staggering and growing,” said Cathy “Cate” Boyko, Minnesota judicial branch conservator account auditing program manager. She cited a 2015 study indicating the estimated national annual financial loss at $36.5 billion. “There is no question these losses are increasing at an alarming rate.”

    Early next year, HHS will begin the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System (NAMRS), which the department describes as “the first comprehensive national reporting system” for Adult Protective Service (APS) programs. The data collection will include information from investigations into the mistreatment of older adults and adults with disabilities. “The absence of data for research and best practice development has been cited by numerous entities, including the Government Accountability Office (GAO), as a significant barrier to improving APS programs,” says the HHS Administration for Community Living.

    Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins (R-Maine) agrees. “There is no doubt financial abuse against our seniors is a problem—and a very serious one made even more difficult by a lack of data that makes it difficult to quantify,” she told The Washington Post. “But I think this is only the tip of the iceberg.”

    Read on for examples of elder abuses

    Jensen Comment

    Although not intended as such, maybe this new government initiative will slightly discourage appropriation of grandma's estate so she qualifies for Medicaid to pay for her years in a nursing home.

    "How to Fix the Scandal of Medicaid and the Poor," by Scott W. Atlas, The Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2016 ---

    Many doctors won’t take the insurance, and the care patients do receive is inferior. Here’s a solution.

    The two principal expenditures of the Affordable Care Act so far include $850 billion for insurance subsidies and a similar outlay for a massive Medicaid expansion. The truth is that Medicaid—a program costing $500 billion a year that rises to $890 billion in 2024—funnels low-income families into substandard coverage. Instead of providing a pathway to excellent health care for poor Americans, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion doubles down on their second-class health-care status.

    Already 55% of doctors in major metropolitan areas refuse new Medicaid patients, according to the 2014 Merritt Hawkins annual survey. Even of those providers signed up with Medicaid, 56% of primary-care doctors and 43% of specialists are not available to new patients. Moreover, numerous studies have found that the quality of medical care is inferior under Medicaid, compared with private insurance. Lower quality means more in-hospital deaths, more complications from surgery, shorter survival after treatment, and longer hospital stays than similar patients with private insurance.

    The two principal expenditures of the Affordable Care Act so far include $850 billion for insurance subsidies and a similar outlay for a massive Medicaid expansion. The truth is that Medicaid—a program costing $500 billion a year that rises to $890 billion in 2024—funnels low-income families into substandard coverage. Instead of providing a pathway to excellent health care for poor Americans, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion doubles down on their second-class health-care status.

    Already 55% of doctors in major metropolitan areas refuse new Medicaid patients, according to the 2014 Merritt Hawkins annual survey. Even of those providers signed up with Medicaid, 56% of primary-care doctors and 43% of specialists are not available to new patients. Moreover, numerous studies have found that the quality of medical care is inferior under Medicaid, compared with private insurance. Lower quality means more in-hospital deaths, more complications from surgery, shorter survival after treatment, and longer hospital stays than similar patients with private insurance.
    Legislation signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 transformed the federal welfare program into a pathway to self-sufficiency. In the same way, Medicaid should be redesigned as a bridge toward affordable private insurance. First, the new Medicaid should include a private-insurance option with catastrophic coverage but few coverage mandates for all enrollees.

    Second, new Medicaid should establish and put initial funds into health savings accounts using part of the current federal dollars already going into Medicaid. This will empower beneficiaries and give them incentives to follow healthy lifestyles to protect those new assets. With these reforms, doctors and hospitals would receive payments from the same insurance as from non-Medicaid patients. Because health providers receive the same payments whether they treat Medicaid or non-Medicaid patients, the limited access and substandard treatment options under Medicaid would be eliminated.

    To ensure availability of the same coverage to both Medicaid and non-Medicaid beneficiaries, federal funding would go only to eligible people in states that offer these same coverage choices to the entire state population. Federal money will be contingent on states meeting thresholds for the number of Medicaid enrollees moved into private coverage. Federal funds would go directly into beneficiary HSAs or to premium payments, rather than into state bureaucracies. States should want this new program because it will reduce the administrative costs of running a separate insurance program and, most important, provide access to quality health care for their residents.

    Ultimately, traditional Medicaid would be eliminated as new enrollees move into private coverage. These reforms would change the purpose and culture of Medicaid agency offices from running government-administered plans to establishing HSAs and finding private insurance for beneficiaries.

    Why focus on lower-cost, high-deductible health insurance coupled with HSAs? Published studies have shown that pairing HSAs with high-deductible coverage reduces health-care costs. Patient spending averages 15% lower in high-deductible plans, with even more savings when paired with HSAs—without any consequent increases in emergency visits or hospitalizations and without a harmful impact on low-income families. Secondarily, wellness programs that HSA holders more commonly use improve chronic illnesses, reduce health claims and save money.

    Continued in article

    Stanford University:  Long-term care can be ruinously expensive, and the odds of needing it are high. So why don’t seniors buy insurance to cover it? ---

    . . .

    What’s Wrong Today

    The flaws in existing long term care insurance policies are many. One common gripe is that premiums are too high relative to benefits. But Tonetti’s model shows that demand for long-term care insurance isn’t very sensitive to price — increasing premiums by 30% over the actuarially fair price had little effect on purchases.

    The bigger deterrent, surely, is that the policies one can buy today don’t actually eliminate risk. “Those earlier studies basically assumed we all have access to a state-contingent asset and choose not to buy it,” Tonetti says. “But these aren’t state-contingent assets at all. They work on a reimbursement model. You pay for the care yourself and then hope to get your money back.”

    Stories abound of insurance companies denying claims or dragging out the process. “It can get adversarial,” Tonetti says, “and you might be in no shape to fight back or might be dying and have a short horizon.”

    Short stays in a facility, the most common case, are not covered because of deductibles. Long stays, often needed for patients with cognitive decline — the most expensive case — are not covered because benefits end after one to five years. Within those bounds, there are limits on the services paid for and where they can be delivered. And, oh, your premiums might be raised at any time; fail to pay and you lose your coverage.

    Future Potential

    Tonetti says those flaws don’t entirely explain the under-insurance puzzle. When the better policy was explained to test subjects, not all those predicted to want it said they’d actually buy it. But that gap arose mainly among the wealthiest individuals, who can rely on their own resources.

    For the majority of elderly Americans, the introduction of an improved form of long-term care insurance would offer a tremendous increase in quality of life, not to mention peace of mind. And by lightening the load on Medicaid, it would be a relief for state and federal finances as well.

    That’s not to say it would be easy. These papers don’t analyze why the market appears to be failing, but fears of “adverse selection” are likely a factor; that’s when coverage is purchased mainly by people who expect to cash in on the benefits, making it unprofitable. But Tonetti and his colleagues have convincingly demonstrated that there’s an unmet demand for long-term care insurance — a big opportunity for any insurer who can figure it out.

    Christopher Tonetti is an assistant professor of economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business. His coauthors on the papers “Long-Term Care Utility and Late-in-Life Saving” and “Late-in-Life Risks and the Under-Insurance Puzzle” are John Ameriks, Vanguard; Joseph Briggs, New York University; Andrew Caplin, New York University & NBER; and Matthew D. Shapiro, University of Michigan & NBER.

    Jensen Comment
    One thing the article does not mention is a tactic taken by many, many folks approaching possible long-term care (usually in nursing homes but sometimes at home). The tactic is to plan ahead and push all the assets to the heirs before long-term care is needed. Then the heirs support the old folks until if and when those "impoverished" old folks now qualify for Medicaid to pay all the long-term care bills. Their Medicare will not pay for long-term care but their Medicaid will pay for all long-term care. A friend of mine insists this tactic is perfectly legal. But if it's legal (I'm not entirely convinced) its certainly not ethical to shield the savings of older folks from the expenses of their long-term care. Medicaid was never intended by legislators to fund long-term care for people who have sufficient savings to pay for their own nursing homes. But that's the way it's turned out.

    By August 2016, Medicaid enrollment totaled 73.1 million people — over 22 percent of the nation’s population. Medicaid’s recent growth is attributable both to the expansion of eligibility under Obamacare and greater enrollment among individuals who were already eligible.

    Nationalized healthcare is not all it's cracked up to be ---

    . . .

    Back home, though, Canadians seem far more critical of the system. If you follow the internal Canadian debate, you’ll hear the word “crisis.” In fact, many Canadian healthcare economists warn that their system is headed for a major collapse. The aging population has continued to stress an already fragile system. This is the same system that many proponents of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, pointed to as a model.

    Another model of national health care cited by fans of the ACA is the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Like the Canadian system, there seems to be one attitude for export and another for domestic consumption. You may recall the odd tribute to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. The NHS was portrayed as a sea of Mary Poppins bliss. At home, though, Brits had reason to complain. The UK was rated as having the worst patient care and lowest cancer survival rates in the Western World.

    The NHS is in even worse shape now, and complaints are growing louder. According to the committee that represents UK hospitals, the NHS is on the verge of collapse. The former health minister Paul Burstow warned of this outcome two years ago. At the time, increases in the NIH budget were limited to the rate of inflation. But that did not allow for the increased cost of a growing elderly population. The NIH effort to find £30 billion in “efficiency savings” was already putting enormous strains on the system.

    When a healthcare system is overloaded, it’s not just the aged who suffer. A Lancashire man operated on himself when he was put on a long waitlist for a surgery that he badly needed. With waitlists growing, the Royal College of Surgeons reports that financially challenged clinical groups are denying services to patients who are obese or smoke. Often, delayed treatment will increase medical costs in the long run.  

    So it shouldn’t be surprising that the Affordable Care Act, which was inspired by the Canadian and British systems, is in deep trouble. Though I predicted it, it is worrisome when the act’s biggest supporters, including The New York Times, admit the program’s flaws.

    The growing aged population is a huge financial burden

    Obamacare doesn’t deal with the real source of rising healthcare costs: the increase in age-related diseases due to a growing elderly population. It is mathematically impossible to cut societal medical costs while at the same time providing adequate healthcare to a growing and increasingly expensive older population.

    This is not just a problem with health care. Social Security and pension funds are running deficits, which will also worsen. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, recently said that he has lost the optimism that he has long been known for. The reason is that “we have a 9 percent annual rate of increase in entitlements, which is mandated by law.  It has got nothing to do with the economy. It has got to do with age and health and the like.”

    Greenspan points out that politicians refuse to deal with the “third rail” of entitlements. I agree, but I think there’s a solution. Politicians claim that voters won’t accept delayed retirement. But the evidence shows that most people would like to work longer and save more to pay their own way. Zoya Financial reports that almost two thirds of Americans have to retire earlier than planned, largely due to problems with their own health or a spouse’s.

    Anti-aging biotechnologies are in labs right now that could lengthen health spans and working careers. This would allow us to save our entitlement systems. But economists and politicians still have no clue about the biotechnological progress that has marked the start of the 21st century. This will change because it must… but I hope it happens soon

    50% of health and social-care funding is spent on 4% of people . . . About 25% of all hospital inpatient spending during a person’s lifetime occurs in the final three months.
    "The (British) National Health Care Service is a Mess," The Economist, September 10, 2016, pp. 48-49 ---

    . . .

    Like health-care systems around the world, the National Health Service (NHS) is struggling to provide good care at low cost for patients such as Mrs Evans (not her real name). Its business model has not kept up with the changing burden of disease. For as more people enter and live longer in their dotage, demand increases for two costly types of care. The first is looking after the dying. About 25% of all hospital inpatient spending during a person’s lifetime occurs in the final three months. The second is caring for those with more than one chronic condition. About 70% of NHS spending goes on long-term illnesses. More than half of over-70s have at least two and a quarter have at least three. In south Somerset 50% of health and social-care funding is spent on 4% of people.

    . . .

    If one fallacy about the NHS is that it is the envy of the world, as its devotees claim, another is that it is a single organisation. In fact it is a series of interlocking systems. Public health, hospitals, general practitioners (or GPs, the family doctors who provide basic care outside hospitals) and mental-health services all have separate funding and incentives. Social care, which includes old-folks’ homes and the like, is run by local councils, not the NHS

    . . .

    So the NHS must do more with what it already spends. A sign of inefficiency is the 6,000 patients in English hospitals who are ready to go home but not yet discharged, up from 4,000 in 2013. They cost the service hundreds of millions of pounds per year and obstruct others from treatment. The bed-blockers themselves are harmed, too. Elderly patients lose up to 5% of muscle strength for every day they are laid up in hospital. Some delays are the result of council cuts: about 400,000 fewer old people receive social care than in 2010, meaning that hospitals are sometimes used as expensive alternatives to care homes. But most are due to how hospitals are run.

    . . .

    On average, the framework made GPs some of the highest-paid family doctors in the world when it was introduced in 2004. But since then it has become less generous. GPs’ real-terms income has fallen by one-fifth. This, and poor planning, has led to a shortage of them. England needs 5,000 more in the next five years. The NHS is mulling a deal with Apollo, whereby the Indian health-care firm supplies enough doctors to fill the gap.

    . . .

    The move from “volume to value”—that is, from paying providers for the procedures they carry out to paying them for the outcomes they achieve—has helped to stem the cost of Medicare, the American health system for pensioners. The expansion of ACOs as part of Obamacare led to reduced mortality rates and savings for providers of about 1-2%. But Dan Northam Jones, a visiting fellow at Harvard, warns that the potential for savings is greater in systems like Medicare, where there is no cap on spending.

    And yet ACOs reflect a growing belief that if you want radically to improve health care you have to change how you pay for it. They will not solve all the problems of the NHS, some of which are inherent in its taxpayer-funded model. But perhaps its business model may yet catch up with how illness is changing. The NHS should forget being the envy of the world, and instead learn from it.

    On November 22, 2009 CBS Sixty Minutes aired a video featuring experts (including physicians) explaining how the single largest drain on the Medicare insurance fund is keeping dying people hopelessly alive who could otherwise be allowed to die quicker and painlessly without artificially prolonging life on ICU machines.
    "The Cost of Dying," CBS Sixty Minutes Video, November 22, 2009 ---

    "Germany Is Exporting Its Grandmas (to Poland)," by Naomi, Kresge, Bloomberg Business Week, September 26, 2013 ---

    "Government Medicine vs. the Elderly:  In Britain in 2007-08, 16.5% of deaths came after 'terminal sedation," by Rupert Darwall, The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2009 ---

    Rarely has the Atlantic seemed as wide as when America's health-care debate provoked a near unanimous response from British politicians boasting of the superiority of their country's National Health Service. Prime Minister Gordon Brown used Twitter to tell the world that the NHS can mean the difference between life and death. His wife added, "we love the NHS." Opposition leader David Cameron tweeted back that his plans to outspend Labour showed the Conservatives were more committed to the NHS than Labour.

    This outbreak of NHS jingoism was brought to an abrupt halt by the Patients Association, an independent charity. In a report, the association presented a catalogue of end-of-life cases that demonstrated, in its words, "a consistent pattern of shocking standards of care." It provided details of what it described as "appalling treatment," which could be found across the NHS.

    A few days later, a group of senior doctors and health-care experts wrote to a national newspaper expressing their concern about the Liverpool Care Pathway, a palliative program being rolled out across the NHS involving the withdrawal of fluids and nourishment for patients thought to be dying. Noting that in 2007-08, 16.5% of deaths in the U.K. came after "terminal sedation," their letter concluded with the chilling observation that experienced doctors know that sometimes "when all but essential drugs are stopped, 'dying' patients get better" if they are allowed to.

    The usual justification for socialized health care is to provide access to quality health care for the poor and disadvantaged. But this function can be more efficiently performed through the benefits system and the payment of refundable tax credits.

    The real justification for socialized medicine is left unstated: Because health-care resources are assumed to be fixed, those resources should be prioritized for those who can benefit most from medical treatment. Thus the NHS acts as Britain's national triage service, deciding who is most likely to respond best to treatment and allocating health care accordingly.

    It should therefore come as no surprise that the NHS is institutionally ageist. The elderly have fewer years left to them; why then should they get health-care resources that would benefit a younger person more? An analysis by a senior U.K.-based health-care expert earlier this decade found that in the U.S. health-care spending per capita goes up steeply for the elderly, while the U.K. didn't show the same pattern. The U.K.'s pattern of health-care spending by age had more in common with the former Soviet bloc.

    A scarcity assumption similar to the British mentality underlies President Barack Obama's proposed health-care overhaul. "We spend one-and-a-half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren't any healthier for it," Mr. Obama claimed in his address to Congress last Wednesday, a situation that, he said, threatened America's economic competitiveness.

    This assertion is seldom challenged. Yet what makes health care different from spending on, say, information technology—or any category of consumer service—such that spending on health care is uniquely bad for the American economy? Distortions like malpractice suits that lead to higher costs or the absence of consumer price consciousness do result in a misallocation of resources. That should be an argument for tackling those distortions. But if high health-care spending otherwise reflects the preferences of millions of consumers, why the fuss?

    The case for ObamaCare, as with the NHS, rests on what might be termed the "lump of health care" fallacy. But in a market-based system triggering one person's contractual rights to health care does not invalidate someone else's health policy. Instead, increased demand for health care incentivizes new drugs, new therapies and better ways of delivering health care. Government-administered systems are so slow and clumsy that they turn the lump of health-care fallacy into a reality.

    According to the 2002 Wanless report, used by Tony Blair's government to justify a large tax hike to fund the higher spending, the NHS is late to adopt and slow to diffuse new technology. Still, NHS spending more than doubled to £103 billion in 2009-10 from £40 billion in 1999-2000, equivalent to an average growth rate of over 7% a year after inflation.

    In 1965, economist (and future Nobel laureate) James Buchanan observed of the 17-year old NHS that "hospital facilities are overcrowded, and long delays in securing treatment, save for strictly emergency cases, are universally noted." Forty-four years later, matters are little improved. The Wanless report found that of the five countries it looked at, the U.S. was the only one to be both an early adopter and rapid diffuser of new medical techniques. It is the world's principal engine driving medical advance. If the U.S. gets health-care reform wrong, the rest of the world will suffer too.

    Mr. Darwall, a London-based strategist, is currently writing a book on the history of global warming, to be published by Quartet Books in Spring 2010.

    Jensen Plea
    If and when I become gaga please sedate me to the max (meaning euthanize me)! I fear my wife, who is quite religious, will not allow that to happen.

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


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

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