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Tidbits Political Quotations
To Accompany the April 17, 2017 edition of Tidbits          
Bob Jensen at
Trinity University

USA Debt Clock --- ubl


Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side because it's been fertilized with more bullshit.


Shoot for the space in between, because that's where the real mystery lies.
Vera Rubin


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.

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)

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.

We were able to find a solution that didn't necessitate the use of force that actually removed the chemical weapons that were known from Syria, in a way that the use of force would never have accomplished. ---
Susan Rice on January 16, 2017 
The Washington Post called her assertion a total lie ---

Assad Destroyed "100 Percent" of His Chemical Weapons ---
John Kerry on October 31, 2014

"I've got it!" (a signed pledge from Adolph Hitler pledging that Germany would never go to war again.
Neville Chamberlain on September 28, 1938

Sanctuary Cities Releasing Violent Criminals Back to the Streets ---  
Also see

We need to call out these filibusters for what they are—naked attempts to nullify the results of the last Presidential election, to force us to govern as though President Obama had not won the 2012 election ... If Republicans continue to filibuster these highly qualified nominees for no reason other than to nullify the President’s constitutional authority, then Senators not only have the right to change the filibuster rules, Senators have a duty to change the filibuster rules.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (who in 2017 is not singing the same tune)

Feminists in Stockholm are leaving areas like the notorious migrant-heavy no-go zones of Husby and Tensta because they say religious fundamentalists now rule those suburbs. Nalin Pekgul is a self-described feminist and former member of parliament for the left wing Swedish Social Democrats. For over 30 years, she lived in the Stockholm suburb of Tensta but says that she no longer feels safe there. She claims Muslim fundamentalists have taken over and she doesn’t feel she can visit the centre of Tensta without being harassed, Swedish broadcaster SVT reports.

Las Vegas Made the World’s Worst Stadium Deal and All It Got Was the Lousy Raiders ---

All this engineered drama served to deep-six the important information Americans urgently deserve to know. Mr. Nunes has said he has seen proof that the Obama White House surveilled the incoming administration—on subjects that had nothing to do with Russia—and that it further unmasked (identified by name) transition officials. This goes far beyond a mere scandal. It’s a potential crime.
Kimberly A. Strassel

Trump is Wrong:  NAFTA is a good thing for jobs in the USA economy

The Academy's Assault on Intellectual Diversity ---
Robert Boyers

So potent and large are these global forces that repealing the Obama EPA rules, costly as they are, not only won’t affect coal jobs, it won’t affect climate. Gina McCarthy, Mr. Obama’s EPA administrator, admitted as much when confronted, during a 2015 House hearing, with the fact that, by the agency’s own climate models, the effect would be only 1/100th of a degree Celsius. Instead, she said success should be measured in terms of “positioning the U.S. for leadership in an international discussion.”

Baltimore Mayor Supported $15 Minimum Wage Until She Learned What It Would Do to City’s Economy ---
Jensen Comment
Baltimore is not Seattle

If It’s A New Law Dean, It’s Likely A Woman ---

Last month wind power provided enough energy for 136% of Scottish households . . . "The UK Government’s decision to end support for onshore wind is going to make meeting our international climate obligations much harder in the future," Mr Banks said.---

Venezuela Reminds Us That Socialism Frequently Leads to Dictatorship ---

MSNBC Conspiracy Theory Regarding the Gas Attack in Syria
“Wouldn't it be nice,” Lawrence O'Donnell asked a nodding, smiling Rachel Maddow, “if it was just completely, totally, absolutely impossible to suspect that Vladimir Putin orchestrated what happened in Syria this week — so that his friend in the White House could have a big night with missiles and all the praises he's picked up over the past 24 hours?”
Jensen Comment
Yeah, and don't forget that President George W. Bush planned and executed the 9/11 attacks on the NYC Trade Center and the Washington DC Pentagon.

Trump Going It Alone Against Korth Korea Will Solve Nothing
Jensen Comment
In fact increases the odds of a world crisis caused by an accident.

$2.9 Million is the Cost of Falsely Calling the President's Current Wife a Former Whore ---

Wailing and lamentations broke out in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and even as far away as Texas and Florida, as Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced Thursday that he won’t seek a third term in 2018. Politicians in these and other states are disappointed that Mr. Malloy’s (tax everything) policies won’t continue indefinitely to be a source of jobs and taxpayers fleeing Connecticut.

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 ---

USA Debt Clock --- ubl

NY Times:  Student Loan Forgiveness Program Approval Letters May Be Invalid ---

How Wonderful
A Treasure Trove of Lithium Discovered Near the Megafactory Where Elon Musk will Turn Litium Into Millions Upon Millions of Batteries ---
The Great Nevada Lithium Rush to Fuel the New Economy

Jensen Comment
And maybe Apple will no longer have to rely on the Chinese to make so many of it's iPhones.

MIT:  Technology and Inequality ---

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are fond of arguing they are disrupting hidebound industries and “changing the world”— the implicit assumption being that such change is good. In this feature, we explore how technology is indeed changing our economy, but in a way that’s leaving more and more people behind.

California is getting so much power from solar that wholesale electricity prices are turning negative ---
Jensen Comment
When power companies buy solar power on the wholesale market they have to store it in a costly manner. This is why wholesale prices are a lot lower than retail prices.

MIT:  Praying for an Energy Miracle ---

Solar and wind power are increasingly important as a means of generating electricity, but they account for a small fraction of America’s total energy use. Sadly, we still need some major advances to guide us to our clean-energy future.

Jensen Comment
The oil and gas industry keeps lowering prices to make alternative energy sources in need of taxpayer subsidies to compete. Batteries are giving hope to the solar power industry, but batteries add considerably to the cost of solar power.

The mood in America is becoming more negative about taxpayer subsidies for alternative energies. Even the greens of California decided to charge each electric car owner $100 annually for use of the state's roads and bridges ---
This is way to low, but it does signal the a changing mood about giving electric car owners free rides on  roadways.

Current tax reform measures for the entire USA will probably result in lower subsidies for wind and solar.

If a family has one and only one car it will probably not be an electric car due to the limited range of around 200 miles (give or take) between charges and battery inefficiency in cold climates. Electric cars are relatively expensive second cars for higher income families. Another drawback is the lack of electric car infrastructure (think charging stations) across the USA compared to gas stations. Electric cars are more viable in small and warm nations like Israel.

The bottom line is that the oil and gas industry will not go down without a price war.

Also applause must be given to traditional vehicles that pay for roadway new construction,  maintenance, and  snow/ice removal.

In California the new added 12 cent gas tax is now paying for under-funded pensions of state workers. Electric car owners aren't paying a farthing for those pensions.

This Engineering Accomplishment is Almost Unimaginable

Bertha Finally Breaks Through In Seattle ---

It was the world's biggest tunneling machine when it first chewed into the loose dirt and gravel on Seattle's waterfront in 2013. With a cutting head nearly 60 feet wide, it had been built in Japan and shipped across the Pacific to dig a two-mile-long double-decker highway tunnel under downtown. The machine was named "Bertha" in honor of a 1920s-era mayor — the prefatory "Big" always implied, never stated. But just a few months and a thousand feet in, Bertha came to a grinding halt. Grit was getting into sealed parts of the machine, temperatures were spiking and an engineer likened it to all your dashboard warning lights going on at once.

. . .

After the two-year pit stop, it went on to complete its journey toward the Space Needle — so smoothly that most Seattleites forgot about it. Many assumed it was still being fixed. In fact, it's at the finish line. Earlier today, the 57.5-foot wide cutting head gnashed through the massive retaining wall on the north end of the tunnel, where a live video feed was waiting to capture the moment — and perhaps the off-screen sound of engineers sighing with relief.

Video:  Congress just voted to allow your internet provider to sell your online history and data — here are various ways that might protect your privacy ---
These days nothing's guaranteed on the Internet

A ringleader in one of the biggest Social Security disability fraud cases in U.S. history has pleaded guilty to filing more than 1,700 bogus applications, bilking the government out of potentially a half-billion dollars ---

How to Mislead With Statistics

OECD:  Taxing Wages in 2017 ---

Sorry America Your Taxes Aren't High ---

Jensen Comment
Time and time again I've lamented that some things are generally misleading when they are compared between nations or even between the various 50 states of the USA.. For example, poverty is relative. A family below the poverty line in the USA is really not comparable to a family below the poverty line in many other countries of the world such as in India, China, and the poor nations of Africa. One problem in comparing poverty is that the safety nets vary so much for where in the USA there's Medicaid, food stamps, subsidized housing, homeless shelters, aid to dependent children, earned income tax credits, disability income, etc.

Tax rates are also not comparable unless you also compare what those taxes buy in the way of goods and services. For example, to the population of the USA not below the poverty line and not on Medicare there is no "free" national health care services and medications relative to nations having taxpayer-funded national health care for everybody.

In the USA Medicare does not pay for nursing homes for afflicted patients not in hospitals whereas many national health care plans pay for nursing home care.

Some nations like Germany have taxpayer-funded higher education, although the funding is not available for education and training for over half the high school graduates. In Europe less than half of the Tier 2 (high school) graduates are even allowed to go to college or free trade schools --- 
OECD Study Published in 2014:  List of countries by 25- to 34-year-olds having a tertiary education degree ---

But employer-funded apprentice programs are much better in Europe than the USA.

Also there are many types of taxes that are difficult to compare. Many nations supplement income taxes with highly variable sales taxes and VAT taxes that are collected ultimately in prices rather than tax assessments.

Nations also vary in terms of public services such as transportation. Cars are luxury goods in nations like Denmark (due largely to high taxes) where people move about cheaply on bicycles and low-cost public transportation. In most parts of the USA cars are essential because of bad weather and lousy public transportation outside the largest metropolitan areas.

I could carry on with my rant about misleading world statistics, but to do so might take the rest of my life.

California Road-Tax Hike Is Really A Pension Tax ---

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators have caused a stir with their plan, which passed the legislature on Thursday, to increase taxes to pay for the state's unquestionably decrepit infrastructure of roads and bridges. Instead of thinking of this as a new transportation tax, however, Californians should see it as a pension tax, given the extra money plugs a hole caused by growing retirement payments to public employees.

Consider this sobering news from the CalMatters' Judy Lin in January: "New projections show the state's annual bill for retirement obligations is expected to reach $11 billion by the time Brown leaves office in January 2019—nearly double what it was eight years earlier." That's the state's "annual bill," i.e., the direct costs taken from the general-fund budget. That number doesn't even include those "unfunded" pension liabilities that according to some estimates top $1 trillion.

 Continued in article

Jensen Comment
What's sad is that many of those pension timings (retire at age 50) and amounts (think over $500,000 per year) are fraudulent ---

Forwarded by Scott Bonacker
Federal Budget Deficit Trends

In fiscal year 2016, for the first time since 2009, the federal budget deficit increased in relation to the nation’s economic output. The Congressional Budget Office projects that over the next decade, if current laws remained generally unchanged, budget deficits would eventually follow an upward trajectory—the result of strong growth in spending for retirement and health care programs targeted to older people and rising interest payments on the government’s debt, accompanied by only modest growth in revenue collections. Those accumulating deficits would drive debt held by the public from its already high level up to its highest percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) since shortly after World War II.


A 22 page PDF with projection to 2027

Federal Spending Question
What Federal expenses exceed that expenses of military spending.

Medicare and Medicaid are by far the biggest (over $1 trillion annually) expenditure items. They're nearly double what is spent on defense. Social security runs a close second to Medicare and Medicaid ---

USA Debt Clock ---

It's going to take some getting used to as our journals, books, email messages, letters, etc. do away with the singular (think I, me, he, him, himself, she, her, and herself) with the plural (think they, their, theirself, and them) where we used to use the singular case for just one person. The Wall Street Journal writes about this by quoting an acceptance letter from a Dean Powell at Brown University where they writes (now supposedly politically correct grammar) in the new politically correct (plural) case.

"A Letter From An Ivy League Admissions Dean," by James Freeman, The Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2017 ---

. . .

Oddly, the note referred to the accepted student not as “she” but as “they.” Dean Powell’s letter also stated that our reader’s daughter had no doubt worked hard and made positive contributions to “their” school and community. Our reader reports that his perplexed family initially thought that Brown had made a word-processing error. That was before they listened to a voice mail message from the school congratulating his daughter and referring to her as “them.”

. . .

The letter from Dean Powell included a total of four short paragraphs, including this one: “And now, as we invite you to join the Brown family, we encourage you to allow [daughter’s name] to chart their own course. Just as you have always been there, now we will provide support, challenge and opportunities for growth.”

Nearly a complete stranger, Mr. Powell is writing a short, error-filled letter to parents claiming that his organization is fit to replace them. No doubt the “Brown family” with all its “thems” and “theys” can offer a wealth of valuable educational opportunities. But anyone who buys the line that competent parenting is part of the package has probably never set foot on campus.

Jensen Comment
They (meaning I) am going to continue to use such politically-incorrect words like " I, me, he, him, himself, she, her, herself" just because we is too old to become two old men (no longer a politically-correct word) in one old body.

It might be an interesting writing workshop exercise next semester to rewrite all the politically incorrect graduation speeches that will be given this coming May and June. What celebrity is going to make a fool out of theirself by speaking in the new politically correct plural doublespeak in a graduation speech?

History of the National Debt ---

Obama’s Debt Interest Bomb ---

. . .

CBO reported that the federal budget deficit rose $63 billion in the first half of fiscal 2017 (October-March) to $522 billion from a year earlier. But here’s the especially bad omen: Net interest payments rose $7 billion, or 30%, in March from a year earlier.

If that seems small, consider that interest payments rose $28 billion for the six months of fiscal 2017 to $152 billion. That’s a 22.2% increase, among the biggest in any single spending item highlighted by CBO. The increases reflect the growing debt but in particular the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates after years of near-zero rates.

While Mr. Obama was doubling the national debt over eight years, the Fed’s monetary policies spared him from the fiscal consequences. The Fed’s near-zero policy kept interest rates at historic lows that reduced net interest payments even as the overall debt increased. The Fed’s bond-buying programs also earned money that the Fed turned over to Treasury each year, reducing the size of the federal budget deficit by tens of billions of dollars.

This not-so-free Fed lunch is starting to end. CBO estimates that $160 billion more spending will be required each year over the next decade if interest rates are merely one percentage point higher than in its current projections. As interest rates rise, the Fed will also have to pay banks more to keep excess reserves parked at the central bank. After its latest rate increase in March, the Fed now pays banks 1% on reserve balances or about $20 billion a year, and that will go up.

Fed officials are also now hinting that this year they may finally stop buying new securities when the current bonds on its balance sheet come due. This is necessary and long overdue, but it will mean smaller Fed contributions to the federal budget than the more than $90 billion the Fed has turned over in recent years. (See the nearby chart.)

All of this is set to explode on President Trump’s watch, and it will complicate the task for Republicans as they try to reform the tax code within tighter budget constraints.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
During the George W. Bush presidency the gross national debt rose about $5 trillion in comparison compared with the $8 trillion debt growth in during the Obama presidency. However, President Obama's term in office commenced with a serious recession  ---
Also see

The fact of the matter is, however, that Obama had it much better in terms of interest payments on the debt due to the Federal Reserve policy of driving interest rates to almost zero during the recession commencing in 2008. With each anticipated bump in interest rates by the Fed in the future Trump will inherit a much tougher time meeting interest due on the $20 trillion national debt ---

Slide Show:  From disused stadiums to deserted airports: Billion-dollar wastes of money (most were wasted taxpayer dollars) ---

Wake  Forrest's Politically Correct Faculty Want No Part of "Sneaking Capitalist Ideas" Into the University by Way of Koch Brothers' Millions

An Anti-Koch Meltdown at Wake Forest ---

Denizens of the ivory tower are rarely nuanced in their statements about Charles and David Koch. But the professorial ruminations published last month at Wake Forest University break new ground by showing that disdain for conservatives weighs more heavily on faculty minds than academic freedom.

About two years ago, Wake Forest professor James Otteson came to the administration with an idea: a new center devoted to the study of happiness. Such programs are all the rage in psychology departments, but Mr. Otteson, a scholar of classical philosophy who has written books on Adam Smith, offered a unique interdisciplinary approach. Planning began for a center that draws scholars from across the university to study the political, economic, moral and cultural institutions that encourage human happiness. It was named the Eudaimonia Institute, after Aristotle’s term for flourishing.

None of this elicited objections from the faculty until last September, when the university announced it had accepted $3.7 million from the Charles Koch Foundation to support the institute over five years. The faculty senate then formed two committees to investigate Eudaimonia: one to report on the institute itself and another to study Wake Forest’s policies related to Koch Foundation funding.

The first committee, in a report published last month, urged Wake Forest to “SEVER ALL CONNECTIONS TO THE CHARLES KOCH FOUNDATION.” The original text, which went on at some length, was also in boldface and underlined. Where, one wonders, were the exclamation points and angry emojis?

The other committee concluded that the foundation’s “parasitical” behavior threatened Wake Forest’s “academic integrity, financial autonomy, and institutional governance.” The faculty worrying about the Kochs’ fortune seem to have forgotten that their campus exists in large part thanks to donations from the family behind R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The situation was deemed so grave that the latter committee recommended canceling the Eudaimonia Institute’s April conference, freezing all hiring, and requiring that its publications and presentations be reviewed by another group of faculty ahead of time. Earlier this year the faculty announced they would not give credit to students taking a business class taught by Mr. Otteson—even though the course had nothing to do with Eudaimonia or the Koch Foundation. According to Daniel Hammond, a Wake Forest economics professor, the course would have earned students credit only if they remained business majors. If they changed their major, it would not count for graduation. Under pressure, the business school dropped the class as a prerequisite for majors.

Citing the New Yorker magazine writer Jane Mayer’s investigations into the Koch family, both committees concluded that Eudaimonia is really a way of sneaking capitalist ideas into the university. Never mind the ample evidence that the Koch brothers, who are open about their own ideas, are interested in exploring other points of view. The report even includes links to a public forum held by the Charles Koch Institute with guests from liberal organizations such as the Brookings Institution.

The controversies over Koch cash—stoked in many cases by the George Soros-funded campus organization UnKoch My Campus—are not new. Faculty at the Catholic University of America complained last year that a $10 million donation from the Charles Koch Foundation would undermine the school’s religious teachings. The United Negro College Fund was roundly criticized after it took $25 million of Koch money in 2014.

But the professors at Wake Forest have hit a new low. On March 15 the faculty senate passed a nonbinding resolution against the Koch funding by a vote of 17-9. The provost offered only a lukewarm defense of Eudaimonia. “I have faith,” he wrote to me, “in our faculty and administrative practices that protect faculty research, creative work and teaching from any improper influence.”

Eudaimonia already has safeguards in place to ensure intellectual freedom. Even before the Koch money was pledged, it had published a “Declaration of Research Independence,” which states that the institute “maintains sole control over the selection of researchers, the composition of research teams, or the research design, methodology, analysis, or findings of EI research projects, as well as the content of EI-sponsored educational programs.”

Ana Iltis, a Wake Forest bioethicist and faculty adviser to Eudaimonia, told me this week that she was surprised by her colleagues’ “unwillingness to look at the work we’re doing and take it seriously.” She noted that the institute’s board includes people from a variety of religious, political, racial and academic backgrounds. Bill Leonard —another board member and a former dean of the Divinity School—led the fight for gays and lesbians to be admitted to the Baptist graduate school.

The controversy is even more ridiculous when considering the differences between the Eudaimonia Institute and other Wake Forest centers. Take the Pro Humanitate Institute, whose executive director, Melissa Harris-Perry, made a name for herself as a progressive activist on MSNBC. That institute does not pretend to ask life’s big, open-ended questions. Rather, its mission statement declares that its purpose is “connected to clear practices with meaningful social justice outcomes.”

No matter what these institutes focus on, the idea that other faculty might want to censor their work is worrying. Even more troubling is the notion that professors from one department could determine that courses taught in another department are not worthy of credit toward graduation.

Professors opposed to this madness are finally speaking up. A new petition has been circulating among the faculty objecting to the proposed censorship. Citing the recent statement regarding “truth-seeking” by Robert P. George and Cornel West, the signers note, “We stand in support of diversity and inclusion of all opinions and ideologies at Wake Forest University and celebrate such diversity as the character of our community.”

Continued in article

Harvard and Princeton Leading Scholars Argue for "Truth Seeking"---

Stylistically and politically, Robert P. George and Cornel West don’t have much in common. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, is one of the country’s most prominent conservative intellectuals. West, a professor of the practice of public philosophy and African and African-American studies at Harvard University, is a self-described “radical Democrat” who, in addition to many books, once released a spoken-word album.

So when George and West agree on something and lend their names to it, people take notice -- as they did this week, when the pair published a statement in support of “truth seeking, democracy and freedom of thought and expression.” It’s a politely worded denunciation of what George and West call “campus illiberalism,” or the brand of thinking that led to this month’s incident at Middlebury College, where students prevented an invited speaker from talking and a professor was physically attacked by some who were protesting the invitation.

“It is all too common these days for people to try to immunize from criticism opinions that happen to be dominant in their particular communities,” reads the statement. “Sometimes this is done by questioning the motives and thus stigmatizing those who dissent from prevailing opinions; or by disrupting their presentations; or by demanding that they be excluded from campus or, if they have already been invited, disinvited.”

Sometimes, it says, “students and faculty members turn their backs on speakers whose opinions they don’t like or simply walk out and refuse to listen to those whose convictions offend their values. Of course, the right to peacefully protest, including on campuses, is sacrosanct. But before exercising that right, each of us should ask: Might it not be better to listen respectfully and try to learn from a speaker with whom I disagree? Might it better serve the cause of truth seeking to engage the speaker in frank civil discussion?”

All of us “should be willing -- even eager -- to engage with anyone who is prepared to do business in the currency of truth-seeking discourse by offering reasons, marshaling evidence and making arguments,” George and West wrote. “The more important the subject under discussion, the more willing we should be to listen and engage -- especially if the person with whom we are in conversation will challenge our deeply held -- even our most cherished and identity-forming -- beliefs.”

Such “an ethos,” they conclude, “protects us against dogmatism and groupthink, both of which are toxic to the health of academic communities and to the functioning of democracies.”

George said in an interview Wednesday that signatures for the statement were flowing in at rate of several per minute, and that the names reflect all points of the ideological spectrum. “We’re gratified,” he said, adding that the statement aims to “encourage -- put the courage in -- people to stand up for themselves” and for the values of the academy.

“The goal is a heightened sense among faculty, administrators and students -- all three categories -- that they must refuse to tolerate campus illiberalism,” George said. “It’s a shared responsibility of everybody to not only refuse to participate in it but to refuse to accept it. In order for colleges and universities to fulfill their missions, there has to be an ethos, an atmosphere, an environment, in which people feel free to speak their minds -- where people are challenging each other, and thus learning.”

The immediate impetus for the statement was indeed the shouting down of Murray, author of the controversial book The Bell Curve, at Middlebury; the professor who was injured at the protest is the next signatory, after George and West. But the authors say they’ve long been concerned with a turning tide on colleges campuses that’s led to the shouting down and disinvitation of invited speakers, and other forms of what is arguably intellectual censorship. They’ve been trying to model the kind of civil dialogue they’re advocating for several years, teaching and speaking together publicly about the benefits of a liberal arts education -- including recently at the American Enterprise Institute.

Yet college illiberalism continues to grow, in their view. Just recently, for example, George said, Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton, who has argued in favor of abortion and euthanasia for severely disabled infants in some instances, was interrupted by disability rights protesters throughout an appearance via Skype at the University of Victoria in Canada.

George blamed the phenomenon on a campus culture of rightful inclusion that has been somehow “corrupted into the idea that people have the right to be free from hearing positions they disagree with.” That’s exacerbated, he said, by an emergent “consumer model” of education, in which colleges and universities competing for enrollments don’t want to offend their “customers,” even if the product -- higher education -- is supposed to be “challenging students’ deeply held convictions and helping them to lead examined lives.”

Singer announced on Twitter that he’d signed the petition. George pointed out that Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University and former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, who is anti-abortion and in many ways Singer’s ideological opposite, also signed on.

Continued in article

Huffington Post:  The 10 Worst Colleges For Free Speech: 2017 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on political correctness ---

Educational Sabotage: New Required School Policies Allow Lawlessness in Schools
by former ghetto student Walter E. Williams (now an economics professor)

Jensen Comment
Minority students are not be short changed nearly as much in terms of money spent per child as they are being short changed in terms of safety and emotional environment.

NYT:  How to Con Black Law Students ---

Jensen Comment
A 25% pass rate on the CPA examination may sound pretty good to a graduate school of accountancy, but a 25% pass rate on the bar exam is a kiss of death for a law school where a 75% passage rate is considered marginal.

I don't know that there's good research on why accounting school expectations are so low relative to law schools in this regard. I can think of possible reasons off the top of my head.

  1. Law schools entail an equivalent of three years of post-graduate full time study preparing for the bar examination. Students sometimes earn masters of accounting degrees with only two or three semesters of graduate study.


  2. CPA exams have fewer prerequisites for sitting for the exam. Law students must take a law school curriculum at a law school to sit for the bar exam. Students that take the limited number of prerequisites to sit for the CPA examination don't even have to earn a masters of accounting degree. They can get an MBA or nursing degree. They only have to have 150 hours of college credit, some of which have to be prerequisites required by a State Board of Accountancy. CPA exam takes don't even have to earn a masters degree or even take an entrance examination for a masters program such as the GMAT or GRE examinations.


  3. I like to think the CPA examination is a tougher examination, but lawyers may beg to differ. I'm told that the CFA exam is tougher than the CPA examination or bar examination. But "toughness" is a lot like beauty --- it's in the eyes of the beholder.

The bottom line is that certification examination success depends upon a great deal on the years of preparation required. Perhaps a 98% passage rate to become board certified in brain surgery sounds impressive (easy?), but after all the years of medical school blood, sweat, and tears most candidates to become brain surgeons could write the certification examinations.

There also is a difference in learning aptitudes.
 In the tower student housing apartments at Stanford University years ago my good friend from France got a PhD in physics in record time. However, he had a learning block for Russian when we were taking the same course together as part of the language requirement (I'm not sure why he had to take a language beyond French and English). I tutored him and discovered that he really had a learning block for Russian. He had to take the course twice. I like to think I was brilliant, but in fact I had over two years of Russian before going to graduate school. This was because in my first two years of college I aspired to become an Admiral on a full Navy scholarship during the Cold War. I was a midshipman on a battleship during the summers when we played ocean hide and seek an tag with Russian submarines.

Americans are losing trust in journalists — but education may not be the answer ---

. . .

Highly creative journalistic instincts would ensure his status as a respected professional in any era. Nonetheless, I suspect Breslin’s reach would be severely hampered by today’s onslaught of media distractions, and his stature might be further diminished by an increased skepticism that has permeated the journalistic field today.

That skepticism is palpable. A recent Gallup poll revealed that a mere 32 percent of Americans trust the media “to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly,” the first time ever that this annual measure has fallen below 40 percent. Faith in journalistic institutions has been trending downward for two decades, with no evidence that a turnaround is on the horizon.

Moreover, the recent use of the term “fake news” to attack coverage that doesn’t mesh with someone’s ideological beliefs has left many readers puzzled about the accuracy of news stories.

With such skepticism, one might argue that better-educated journalists are needed now more than ever before. However, the current political climate offers evidence that education is less valued, with cuts to higher education funding now commonplace.

Journalism education, in particular, has been under assault for quite some time. In 1993, before he was a best-selling author, Michael Lewis, then senior editor for The New Republic, penned an article entitled “J-School Ate My Brain,” a brutal attack of journalism education. Lewis asserted that journalism schools fail to teach what is necessary to be an inquisitive reporter, instead privileging the nuances of copy-editing and specialized jargon, mocking the “pretentious science of journalism” as a distraction from the actual practice of journalism.

“The best journalists,” he wrote, “are almost the antithesis of professionals.” For someone like Lewis, with an Ivy League pedigree and an advanced degree from the London School of Economics, learning the nuances of journalism might not be necessary.

However, I would argue that such an education has immense value to a first-generation college student whose parents struggled through blue-collar jobs to put food on the table. I teach at a school with many students who fit this profile, and I just visited another university last week with a somewhat similar student body.

During my visit, students and faculty alike spoke about the importance of learning disciplines beyond basic reporting. Some spoke about history, English or political science as areas that could enrich one’s reporting depth. Others talked about the need to learn social media skills and graphic arts to enhance their news gathering and reporting. When Jimmy Breslin won his well-deserved acclaim, he didn’t have to keep up with the rapid technological and industry changes that are currently taking place.

The faculty I visited conducted research to remain on top of developments in the field. Gaining proficiency with new communication technologies and developing new ways to find credible facts online are among the challenges these faculty confront today. Several of them are members of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, an organization that connects them to fellow scholars and active practitioners, many of them reporters or editors currently working in the field.

AEJMC is due to release a sort of “state of the educational landscape” report later this year, but its most recent report found that journalism and mass communication programs reported a three-year enrollment decline, from a high of 203,341 students in 2010, to 197,161 in 2013.

I expect that trend to continue, as new technologies challenge media profitability, meaning fewer jobs in newsrooms. Regardless, for those who are willing to step up, the need to inform the public may be more important for the future of democracy today than at any time during my lifetime.

Jimmy Breslin was a streetwise journalist with a hardscrabble Queens background. He was a blue-collar, shoe-leather reporter who would dig deep to get stories that did not get covered elsewhere. He seemed more at home on a subway or a neighborhood bar than in a limousine or a swanky restaurant. Nonetheless, he plied his trade when public approval for journalists frequently approached 70 percent.

The next generation of reporters will need a similar grit and sensibility to succeed. As the nation becomes more diverse, more connected to technology and less willing to blindly accept heavily concentrated coverage from New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, reporters will have to push harder to break out of traditional media bubbles. But they’ll also be operating in an environment of widespread skepticism unlike anything ever faced by Breslin. For this reason, they’ll need to learn complex new technologies and develop strong research skills to inoculate their work against accusations of “fake news.”

The stakes couldn’t be higher. At a time when elected officials, corporate titans and others in positions of authority are likely to challenge young journalists, the public will depend on the courageous ability of freshly hired news professionals to hold individuals in power accountable for their words and deeds.

Jensen Comment
Journalists (and professors) waging war on President Trump may be doing more to help him than harm him. The most common quote from sympathizers is that the "hostile media is not giving him a chance," If given more of a chance he might hurt himself worse.

What gets me is the hypocritical reporting of the hostile media. The media declares outright that President Trump has lied about so many things before the evidence is in or overstate their cases with ignorant media declaratives like "there is no voter fraud in America!" Say what?

I feel obligated to repeat that I did not vote for Donald Trump. I'm not supporting some of the damaging things he's doing. I just think that the hostile media and the Academy are doing more harm than good at this point.

"The Academy’s Assault on Intellectual Diversity," by Robert Boyers, Chronicle of Higher Education's Chronicle Review, March 19, 2017 ---

It is tempting to describe the battles convulsing American campuses with epithets like "the politics of hysteria." More than a bit of hysteria was unleashed at Middlebury College this month, when protesters prevented Charles Murray from delivering a scheduled lecture. In spite of eloquent rebukes delivered by the college president and several prominent faculty members, some on the Middlebury campus defended the protest by citing the poisonous views expressed by Murray in his ugly and notorious book, The Bell Curve. Though it’s a violent instance of so-called free-speech controversies lately ignited on the nation’s campuses, the Middlebury incident doesn’t begin to reveal the depth or virulence of the opposition to robust discussion within the American professoriate, where many self-described liberals continue to believe that they remain committed to "difference" and debate, even as they countenance a full-scale assault on diversity of outlook and opinion.

Confront contemporary left-liberal academics — I continue to regard myself as a member of that deeply troubled cohort — with a familiar passage from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, and they will be moved at once to proclaim that Mill espouses what virtually all of us have long taken for granted. Of course we understand that "the tyranny of the majority" must be guarded against — even when it is our majority. Of course we understand that "the peculiar evil of silencing"— or attempting to silence — "the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing … posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: If wrong, they lose … the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error."

What can be more obvious than that? Of course we understand that there is danger in abiding uncritically with the views of one’s own "party" or "sect" or "class." Who among us doesn’t know that even ostensibly enlightened views cannot entitle us to think of those views, or of those who hold them, as "infallible"?

And yet a good many liberal academics are not actually invested in the posture to which their avowals ostensibly commit them. Mill noted among his own contemporaries, more than 150 years ago, what is very much in evidence in our own culture: that certain opinions have come to seem so important "to society" that their usefulness cannot be legitimately challenged. Thus a great many contemporary liberals subscribe to the belief — however loath they may be to acknowledge it — that certain ideas are "heretical" or "divisive" and that those who dare to articulate them must be, in one way or another, cast out. The burning desire to paint a scarlet letter on the breast of those who fail to observe the officially sanctioned view of things has taken possession of many ostensibly liberal people in academe, which has tended more and more in recent years to resemble what the Yale English professor David Bromwich calls "a church held together by the hunt for heresies."

When Mill wrote of the threat to liberty of "thought and discussion," he was responding, at least in part, to Tocqueville’s idea that in modern societies the greatest dangers to liberty were social rather than legal or political. Both men believed that the pressures to conform, and the pleasures associated with conformity, were such that these societies would not find it necessary to burn heretics at the stake. Mill explained:

And thus is kept up a state of things very satisfactory to some minds, because, without the unpleasant process of fining or imprisoning anybody, it maintains all prevailing opinions outwardly undisturbed, while it does not absolutely interdict the exercise of reason by dissentients afflicted with the malady of thought. … But the price paid for this sort of intellectual pacification, is the sacrifice of the entire moral courage of the human mind. A state of things in which a large portion of the most active and inquiring intellects find it advisable to keep the genuine principles and grounds of their convictions within their own breasts.

Sad to say, however, the expectations nowadays enforced with increasing and punishing severity in the academy are the basis for something rather more alarming than the regime Mill described. While dissentient views are today not always "absolutely" interdicted, and we do not hear of persons who are imprisoned for espousing incorrect views, we do routinely observe that "active and inquiring intellects" are cast out of the community of the righteous by their colleagues and formally "investigated" by witch-hunting faculty committees and threatened with the loss of their jobs. One need only mention the widely debated eruptions at Oberlin College, or Northwestern University, or others, to note that this is by no means a phenomenon limited to a handful of institutions.

The fact that these eruptions have drawn wildly inaccurate and misleading coverage in the right-wing media should not distract us from the serious implications of the kinds of intolerance promoted by ostensibly liberal faculty. Such show-trial-like events are the leading edge of efforts to create the kind of total cultural environment the critic Lionel Trilling described as built upon "firm presuppositions, received ideas, and approved attitudes."

What does such a total cultural environment look like? In the university it looks like a place in which all constituencies have been mobilized for the same end, in which every activity is to be monitored to ensure that everyone is "on board." Do courses in all departments reflect the commitment of the institution to raise "awareness" about all of the approved hot-button topics? If not, something must be done. Are all incoming freshmen assigned a suitably pointed, heavily ideological summer-reading text that tells them what they should be primarily concerned about as they enter? Check. Does the college calendar feature carefully orchestrated consciousness-raising sessions led by "human resources" specialists trained to facilitate "dialogues" leading where everyone must agree they ought to lead? Check. Is every member of the community primed to invoke the customary terms — "privilege," "power," "hostile," "unsafe" — no matter how incidental or spurious they seem in a given context? Essential.


Though much of the regime instituted along these lines can seem kind and gentle in its pursuit of what many of us take to be a well-intentioned indoctrination, the impression that control and coercion are the name of the game is really hard to miss.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on political correctness ---

ow to Mislead With Statistics
Does this mean electricity is or might soon will be free in California? (Ignoring the cost of home backup batteries)?

California is getting so much power from solar that wholesale electricity prices are turning negative ---





Finding and Using Health Statistics ---

The Medicaid and Pension Monsters That Divert Funding by States for Education, Roads, and Bridges

"Health Care vs. Higher Ed," by Rick Seltzer, Inside Higher Ed, April 12, 2017 ---

. . .

When states adopted their budgets for the 2017 fiscal year, their share of Medicaid spending was expected to grow by 4.4 percent on average, according to an April report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The increase was expected in large part because of the decrease in federal funding for Medicaid expansion.

While 4.4 percent might not sound like an overwhelming increase, Medicaid spending is a massive portion of states’ budgets. Medicaid spending across all states totaled $509 billion in the 2015 fiscal year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. States paid 38 percent of the costs, with the federal government picking up the rest.

That means states spent about $193.4 billion on Medicaid in 2015. That dwarfs state higher education appropriations, which totaled about $83.6 billion across the country in 2016-17.

State legislators are essentially locked into spending on Medicaid. So when costs in that program rise, lawmakers have to either raise revenue through taxes and fees or find money in their discretionary budgets to reallocate. Higher education represents one of the few big-ticket discretionary items from which they can draw.

“They’re going to get the money somewhere,” Pernsteiner said. “Where they make the cuts is higher ed.”

Within individual states that expanded Medicaid, projections show costs mounting in coming years. Kentucky’s expenditures for Medicaid expansion are projected at $77.2 million for the 2016-17 fiscal year -- a year in which the federal match rate only falls below 100 percent for six months. The expenditures under current law are expected to rise to $180.1 million in 2018, $224 million in 2019 and $306.3 million in 2020, according to state projections.

Kentucky is dealing with other budget pressures as well. By some estimates, the state has the worst-funded pension system of any state in the country -- even worse than Illinois and New Jersey. Many believe dealing with that issue will be a major drain on state coffers.

The state’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, has already shown a willingness to take funding that would have gone to higher education and put it toward pensions, said Robert L. King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Budget pressures add up, including from Medicaid, King said.

“Because it’s a mandated expenditure, it gets paid,” King said. “So our universities have been taking cuts consistently for the last decade. I can’t tell you that they are directly caused by Medicaid, but it certainly is a contributing factor.”

King has been watching trends between Medicaid funding and higher education funding since he was chancellor of the State University of New York System in the early 2000s.

“I remember reading studies at the time that showed that there was a pretty straight-line correlation between the growth in Medicaid costs and the reduction in state support for higher education,” he said.

A 2003 Brookings report found every new dollar in state Medicaid spending was related to a decline in higher education appropriations of about 6 cents to 7 cents.

In West Virginia, which also expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, health-care costs were wrapped up in a long budget standoff that left leaders worried about higher education funding. State revenue has been declining with energy markets, causing stress on the budget and a possible pinch on higher education funding, according to a spokesman for West Virginia University.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Actually two non-discretionary spending burdens are overwhelming state budgets. The first is Medicaid whether or not a state expanded coverage under the ACA. The second is unfunded pensions for public employees, baby boomers that are now retiring in droves.

California Road-Tax Hike Is Really A Pension Tax ---

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators have caused a stir with their plan, which passed the legislature on Thursday, to increase taxes to pay for the state's unquestionably decrepit infrastructure of roads and bridges. Instead of thinking of this as a new transportation tax, however, Californians should see it as a pension tax, given the extra money plugs a hole caused by growing retirement payments to public employees.

Consider this sobering news from the CalMatters' Judy Lin in January: "New projections show the state's annual bill for retirement obligations is expected to reach $11 billion by the time Brown leaves office in January 2019—nearly double what it was eight years earlier." That's the state's "annual bill," i.e., the direct costs taken from the general-fund budget. That number doesn't even include those "unfunded" pension liabilities that according to some estimates top $1 trillion.

 Continued in article

Jensen Comment
What's sad is that many of those pension timings (retire at age 50) and amounts (think over $500,000 per year) are fraudulent ---

Harvard:  The Cost of Drugs for Rare Diseases Is Threatening the U.S. Health Care System ---

. . .

In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) determines the cost effectiveness, or value, of newly approved drugs based on their impact on quality-adjusted life years. These determinations inform the National Health System’s (NHS) treatment-coverage decisions. In contrast, the FDA is prohibited from considering cost or value in its decision making, and there is no U.S. governmental equivalent of NICE.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), a small Boston-based nonprofit, has taken a step towards value-based pricing by creating a NICE-like model. Development of a NICE or ICER-like post-approval value review, incorporating appropriate oversight and accountability, would help ensure coverage decisions remain fair and cost-effective, but it won’t be enough. The NHS is likely to impose care rationing because of escalating health and pharmaceutical costs. Any successful plan to manage rising drug costs must address multiple aspects of the problem, including value-based pricing, transparency, drug re-importation, and the reform of the Orphan Drug Act, to name a few.

The FDA and other federal payers, including Medicare, must be empowered to consider drug costs and outcomes, and this process should factor in federal investment in drug discovery. (Ionis and Cold Spring Harbor received federal grant funding to support the early development of nusinersen.)

Federal government payers should also be allowed to negotiate price discounts and re-import drugs (with provisions for adequate quality control). In a disappointing move, President Trump, who had promised to let Medicare negotiate bulk pricing discounts for prescription drugs, abandoned this pledge after meeting with pharmaceutical industry lobbyists and executives.

Pharmaceutical companies must be required to disclose and justify development costs, particularly those seeking the substantial benefits under the ODA. There are numerous examples of pharmaceutical companies taking advantage of ODA provisions to repurpose inexpensive medications for rare diseases, often at extraordinary, unjustified costs. Marathon proposed a price of $89,000 for deflazacort, which is already available in Europe and Canada for $1,000 to $2,000, a 6,000% price increase. (After several members of Congress complained, the launch of the drug was delayed.) Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is rightly leading an inquiry into this practice and other ODA abuses.

A health care system’s goal should be to provide the best patient-centered care. Coverage decisions and resource allocations must prioritize value to patients — not insurers’ or pharma companies’ profits. If we are committed as a society to curing diseases such as SMA, dangling treatments like nusinersen just out of patients’ reach is cruel. Collectively, government, pharma, insurers, hospital systems and physicians all have a role to play in providing access to the right care at justifiable cost.

Jensen Question
Is there a study of where national health care plans like those in Canada and Finland are drawing the line on paying for very costly medications such as a cancer drug costing over $100,000 per year?

Bernie Sanders:  Medicare for All: Leaving No One Behind ---

Bernie estimates a cost of $1.38 trillion per year for covering doctors, hospitals, ambulances, and medications of roughly 350 million people give or take depending upon the coverage of undocumented residents.

But since Medicare and Medicaid currently costs $1.14 trillion per year Bernie must have left out all the people currently covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Adding $1.38 trillion to $1.14 trillion brings the total cost to $2.52 trillion. However, since currently Medicare only does not pay 20% of the expenses we need to add another $228 billion bringing the total estimated cost to $2.52+$0.23 = $2.75 trillion per year.

Dividing $2.75 trillion by 350 million means the estimated cost is nearly $8,000 cost per person ignoring medical expense inflation. For a family of four this would be $32,000 in average outlays per year. There are also uncertainties regarding how much of mental health, home nursing care, and nursing home care would be covered. Plus Medicare D only covers a portion of medication costs per person such that it is not unrealistic to assume that the Bernie Sanders proposal would start out costing about $10,000 on average for every man, woman, and child in the United States plus the added costs of nursing home care and long-term mental health coverage.Plus Bernie did not add in the hundre of billions paid for malpractice insurance and claims that are paid by hospitals, doctors, and liability insurance companies.

Of course my estimates are subject to a huge margin of error. However, the bottom line is that the funding proposal proposed by Bernie Sanders would only pay for a small portion of the cost extending Medicare coverage to every man, woman, and child in the USA.

On top of that the USA medical system does not have the capacity to provide anything but lowest quality care on average to 350 million people. Hospitals currently lose a considerable amount serving ACA and Medicaid patients --- which is why so many doctors and hospitals refuse to serve ACA and Medicaid patients


Harvard:  Where Both the ACA and AHCA Fall Short, and What the Health Insurance Market Really Needs ---

Jensen Comment
The biggest problem for Medicaid and other lower-end covered ACA people is that the medical coverage is crap coverage.

Major hospitals in 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 ---


Medicaid Is Free. So Why Does It Require a Mandate?

The Congressional Budget Office is out with its analysis of the House Republicans’ ObamaCare replacement, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The CBO’s report includes an implicit but powerful indictment of Medicaid, America’s second-largest health care entitlement.

Medicaid has been around since 1965; it was a core part of LBJ’s Great Society entitlement expansion. The program’s idiosyncratic design requires states to chip in around 40% of the program’s funding, while only getting to control about 5% of how the program is run. The federal Medicaid law—Title XIX of the Social Security Act—mandates a laundry list of benefits that states must provide through Medicaid, and bars states from charging premiums. Copays and deductibles cannot exceed a token amount.

Medicaid is the largest or second-largest line item in nearly every state budget. But for all practical purposes, the main tool states have to control costs is to pay doctors and hospitals less than private insurers pay for the same care. As a result, fewer doctors accept Medicaid patients, making it very hard for Medicaid enrollees to get access to care when they need it. Poor access, in turn, means that Medicaid enrollees—remarkably—have no better health outcomes than those with no insurance at all.

That brings us back to the AHCA. According to the CBO, able-bodied adults on Medicaid receive about $6,000 a year in government health-insurance benefits. They pay no premiums and minimal copays. You’d think that eligible individuals would need no prodding to sign up for such a benefit.

And yet, according to its analysis of the GOP ObamaCare replacement, the CBO believes that there are five million Americans who wouldn’t sign up for Medicaid if it weren’t for ObamaCare’s individual mandate. You read that right: Five million people need the threat of a $695 fine to sign up for a free program that offers them $6,000 worth of subsidized health insurance. That’s more than 1 in 5 of the 24 million people the CBO (dubiously) claims would end up uninsured if the AHCA supplanted ObamaCare.

On its face, there’s reason to doubt the CBO’s view. The mandate is enforced through the income-tax system, and enforcement of the mandate has been spotty for those in low tax brackets. Many of those eligible for Medicaid don’t work or file returns. Under rules established by the Obama administration, those who do can leave the “I have insurance” box blank and face no penalty.

Still, it’s remarkable that the CBO believes people need to be fined into signing up for Medicaid. That tells us something about the CBO’s assessment of Medicaid’s value to those individuals—and it buttresses the GOP’s case that Medicaid needs substantial reform.

Not coincidentally, the AHCA represents the most significant Medicaid reform since 1965, and thereby the most significant entitlement reform in American history. The 1996 welfare reform law is hailed by many conservatives as the most important domestic policy achievement of the past 25 years. Fiscally speaking, the AHCA is 10 times as significant.

The AHCA would put Medicaid on a budget, increasing Medicaid spending per beneficiary at the same rate as the medical component of the Consumer Price Index. This isn’t a far-right concept; President Clinton first proposed reforming Medicaid this way in 1995, as an alternative to the GOP idea of block grants. The 1996 law ended up including neither provision.

Combined with administrative reforms that may come from the Department of Health and Human Services, the bill would give states more flexibility to manage Medicaid’s costs in ways that could increase access to doctors and other providers, while reducing Medicaid spending by hundreds of billions in its first decade and trillions thereafter.

Ultimately, Medicaid for able-bodied low-income adults should be merged into the system of tax credits that the AHCA proposes for those above the poverty line. In that way, all Americans, rich and poor, would have the ability to choose the health coverage and care that reflects their needs, and build nest eggs in health savings accounts that could be passed on to their heirs.


"Chuck Schumer: Passing Obamacare in 2010 Was a Mistake:  The Senate’s No. 3 Democrat says that his party misused its mandate," by Sarah Mimms, National Journal, November 25, 2014 ---

Chuck Schumer upbraided his own party Tuesday for pushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010.

While Schumer emphasized during a speech at the National Press Club that he supports the law and that its policies "are and will continue to be positive changes," he argued that the Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession.

"After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them," Schumer said. "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform."

The third-ranking Senate Democrat noted that just about 5 percent of registered voters in the United States lacked health insurance before the implementation of the law, arguing that to focus on a problem affecting such "a small percentage of the electoral made no political sense."

The larger problem, affecting most Americans, he said, was a poor economy resulting from the recession. "When Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, 'The Democrats aren't paying enough attention to me,' " Schumer said.

Continued in article

"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.”

The Economist Magazine in March 2017:  Admit it: Republicans’ proposed Obamacare overhaul offers relief for some middle earners ---

WHAT is the best part of House Republicans’ proposed reform of Obamacare? There isn’t one, if you believe much of this week’s commentary. The bill will benefit the young and healthy, by bringing their premiums down, but only at the cost of the old and sickly. But most writers are overlooking the help the bill would offer to one group that has clearly suffered unfairly under Obamacare. So long as Paul Ryan’s reform does not send the market into a death spiral—which is not a sure thing (see article)—this group will get some needed financial assistance under the Republican plan.

I'm talking about people who buy health insurance for themselves, rather than through an employer, and who do not get the subsidies which shield those on low incomes from Obamacare’s high premiums. It is easy to overlook this group, because the vast majority of the 10m people who buy insurance through Obamacare’s websites (or "exchanges") receive subsidies. For example, here is Jared Bernstein, Vice-President Joe Biden's former chief economist, in the Washington Post:

Of course, there’s the infamous, headline-generating 2017 premium increases in the non-group market. After growing 2 and 7 percent in 2015 and 2016, insurers in the state-based exchanges raised the cost of the benchmark plan by an average of 25 percent. To Obamacare critics, this was proof of the program’s unsustainability. But because 85 percent of participants in this market (state exchanges) receive premium tax credits to offset the cost of coverage, they do not face the full shock. 

What Mr Bernstein does not mention is that another 8m Americans buy coverage directly from insurers, without going through the exchanges. These buyers get no subsidies. But they must pay the same prices as those who do, because the law forces everybody in the individual marketplace—on or off the exchanges—into the same “risk-pool”. 

In total, there are 9m unsubsidised buyers for whom criticisms of Obamacare resonate strongly. Most of these people are not rich: a family-of-four stops receiving subsidies at an income of just under $100,000. Obamacare forced such buyers onto the same plans as a lot of people with pre-existing medical conditions who could not previously afford insurance. That pushed their premiums and deductibles up—and they have risen further over time. Here’s an example from a piece I wrote last September:

Before the law, Brian Anderson, a 30-something orthodontist from Nashville, paid $80 a month for insurance that came with a $5,000 deductible. In 2014 his insurer cancelled the plan, as it did not now comply with the law. His new plan, from, provides, in his view, essentially the same coverage—the deductible is in fact higher—but costs fully $201 per month. Mr Anderson says he is glad many more people now have insurance. But the estimated 2.6m others whose plans were cancelled that year may not all be as understanding.  

Since I wrote that, Mr Anderson’s insurer has dropped out of his local marketplace, and he has had to switch to a plan costing over $400 a month. You can understand why someone who has seen their premium go up by over 300% would be disillusioned with the law.

Does this matter?  A family-of-four earning $100,000 is clearly not poor. However, they face very high prices for health insurance. In much of Arizona, for instance, they would have to pay over $22,000 per year—almost a quarter of their pre-tax income—for “silver” coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Obamacare calculator.  And that is before you count their out-of-pocket medical costs. When Donald Trump says that Obamacare is a “disaster”, such a family would look at their health insurance options and agree.

The House Republican plan offers this group some help. Individuals earning less than $75,000, and couples earning less than $150,000, will get a big tax credit to help them with their premiums. (Minnesota has already passed “premium relief” for such buyers).

Is that a good thing? Obamacare explicitly tries to spread the costs of health insurance around, in order to increase coverage. Unfortunately, it does so only in the individual market. The 155m Americans who get health insurance through their employers need not foot the bill for unhealthy people on the exchanges. Not only that, but this coddled group also gets a tax break on their coverage. People in the individual market have a right to feel hard done by. The best thing about Mr Ryan’s tax credit is that it begins to redress the imbalance. 

I am not suggesting that helping this group justifies removing means-tested subsidies for the poor. But I am pushing back on the idea that Obamacare's redistribution only hurt the "rich". Here is Matthew Yglesias at Vox (emphasis added):

Policy-minded conservatives have serious criticisms of President Obama’s health care law. They think it taxes rich people too much, and coddles Americans with excessively generous, excessively subsidized health insurance plans. They want a world of lower taxes on millionaires while millions of Americans put “skin in the game” in the form of higher deductibles and copayments. Exactly the opposite, in other words, of what Republican politicians have been promising.

Mr Yglesias portrays Obamacare's redistribution as flowing primarily from rich to poor. But his chart shows something else: that it hurts middle-income groups most. That is consistent with the experience of millions of Americans in the individual market who have seen their premiums soar while they have received no help from the government. They are treated unfairly by the system as it stands, and should not be ignored when thinking about health care reform.

Continued in article

Will 90 Become the New 60?
What will this do to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as well as job turnover (think tenure)?

Wharton:  Will the USA Face a Shortage of Nursing Homes for Baby Boomers?
Capacity of nursing homes is on the decline (think of a changing regulatory climate that causes costs to soar) in the face of demand building up like flood water behind a dam that eventually overflow with gaga old folks.

Jensen Comment
It would seem that some national healthcare plans that fund nursing home care might have more capacity to handle increases in the aging population. However, there are some reports that in nations like Canada and the U.K. the rise in demand for funding long-term  nursing care is reaching crisis levels ahead of the USA ---

.A senator found Medicare blowing hundreds of millions on a loser drug — and no one even got a slap on the wrist ---




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·     With Added Conjectures in Appendix 1 as to Why the Profession of Accountancy Ignores TAR

·     With Suggestions in Appendix 2 for Incorporating Accounting Research into Undergraduate Accounting Courses

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