Tidbits Political Quotations
To Accompany the May 16, 2019 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen at
Trinity University

My Latest Web Document
Over 400 Examples of Critical Thinking and Illustrations of How to Mislead With Statistics --

Animated  Visualization of the United States’ Exploding Population Growth Over 200 Years (1790 – 2010) ---
A Visualization of the United States’ Exploding Population Growth Over 200 Years (1790 – 2010)

USA Debt Clock --- http://www.usdebtclock.org/ ubl

In September 2017 the USA National Debt exceeded $20 trillion for the first time ---

Human Population Over Time on Earth ---


While a move is underway to destroy the American Dream of rags to riches (by taxing away the riches) the Chinese dream is on the rise.
The Chinese Dream
How a Chinese billionaire went from making $16 a month in a factory to being one of the world's richest self-made women with an $8.3 billion real-estate empire


Top 50 Billionaires in China ---

Jensen Comment
The question for students to debate is why a supposed communist country allows so many billionaires to rise up from poverty.
That's supposed to happen in the USA where a child growing up in deep poverty (think Oprah Winfrey or Howard Shultz) became a multi-billionaires.
But is it also supposed to happen under communism? If so, why?


One reason is that many billionaires can afford to pour lots of money into high risk ventures. When's the last time you heard about a high risk (think Silicon Valley) venture in Europe?


Wikiquote from Wikipedia --- https://www.wikiquote.org/


History will prove former President Donald Trump was correct about Mexico one day funding an impenetrable wall --- to keep out over 2 billion starving green immigrants seeking to enter Mexico from the north.
Bob Jensen


The Young Left’s Anti-Capitalist Manifesto: Its goal is to remake our economic system — and the Democratic Party ---


"In Praise of Cheap Labor," by Paul Krugman, Slate, March 21, 1997 ---


Corruption in general has a deleterious effect on the readiness of economic agents to invest. In the long run, it leads to a paralysis of economic life. But very often it is not that economic agents themselves have had the bad experience of being cheated and ruined, they just know that in this country, or in this part of the economy, or this building scene, there is a high likelihood that you will get cheated and that free riders can get away with it. Here again, reputation is absolutely essential, which is why transparency is so important. Trust can only be engendered by transparency. It's no coincidence that the name of the most influential non-governmental organization dealing with corruption is Transparency International.
A Conversation with Karl Sigmund:  When Rule of Law is Not Working

Mortgage Backed Securities are like boxes of chocolates. Criminals on Wall Street and one particular U.S. Congressional Committee stole a few chocolates from the boxes and replaced them with turds. Their criminal buddies at Standard & Poors rated these boxes AAA Investment Grade chocolates. These boxes were then sold all over the world to investors. Eventually somebody bites into a turd and discovers the crime. Suddenly nobody trusts American chocolates anymore worldwide. Hank Paulson now wants the American taxpayers to buy up and hold all these boxes of turd-infested chocolates for $700 billion dollars until the market for turds returns to normal. Meanwhile, Hank's buddies, the Wall Street criminals who stole all the good chocolates are not being investigated, arrested, or indicted. Momma always said: '"Sniff the chocolates first Forrest." Things generally don't pass the smell test if they came from Wall Street or from Washington DC.
Forrest Gump as quoted at http://newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/Rec/rec.sport.tennis/2008-10/msg02206.html

It is not that machines are going to replace chemists. It’s that the chemists who use machines will replace those that don’t ---
Derek Lowe

Gallup: Americans Say No. 1 Problem is 'Government,' No. 2 is 'Immigration' ---


"If you open the borders, my God, there's a lot of poverty in this world, and you're going to have people from all over the world. And I don't think that's something that we can do at this point."
Bernie Sanders


Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em, And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so on ad infinitum ---

Augustus De Morgan

Prior to 1980 what was unique about the year of his birth in 1871?



12 inspiring quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.---


21 oustanding Warren Buffet quotations ---


The Atlantic:  The Swiftly Closing Borders of Europe ---

Italian Minister tells NGO Italy doesn’t want migrants: “Our ports are closed!” ---

The enemy is fear
We think it's hate
But, it's fear



13 of the (alleged) most famous last words in history ---

21 of Michelle Obama's most inspiring quotes on work, success, and relationships ---


19 unforgettable quotes from legendary Marine Gen. Jim 'Mad Dog' Mattis, who quit as Trump's defense secretary ---


Here are the Ten Best Pieces of Advice from 2018 Commencement Speakers ---
Click Here

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


The Lucretius Problem is a mental defect where we assume the worst case event that has happened is the worst case event that can happen ---


The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.


The Economic Ignorance of Bernie Sanders ---


Bernie Sanders’ New Campaign Advisor David Sirota Once Touted Hugo Chavez’s ‘Economic Miracle’ in Venezuela ---


How many times have we heard ‘free tuition,’ ‘free health care,’ and free you-name-it? If a particular good or service is truly free, we can have as much of it as we want without the sacrifice of other goods or services. Take a ‘free’ library; is it really free? The answer is no. Had the library not been built, that $50 million could have purchased something else. That something else sacrificed is the cost of the library. While users of the library might pay a zero price, zero price and free are not one and the same. So when politicians talk about providing something free, ask them to identify the beneficent Santa Claus or tooth fairy.
Walter Williams


Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.
Eric Hoffer.


The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
Winston Churchill


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

In honor of his centennial, the Top 10 Feynman quotations ---

Thomas Sowell (controversial conservative black economist) --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Sowell
The 30 Best Thomas Sowell Quotes ---

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

That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.
Thomas Jefferson

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 gave up earlier.

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.

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

And many writers have imagined for themselves republics and principalities that have never been seen or known to exist in reality; for there is such a gap between how one lives and how one ought to live that anyone who abandons what is done for what ought to be done learns his ruin rather than his preservation: for a man who wishes to profess goodness at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good.
Niccolo Machiavelli

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

Today, humanity fabricates 1,000 times more transistors annually than the entire world grows grains of wheat and rice combined  ---

I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. ... You get dirty and besides the pig likes it ---
George Bernard Shaw

You can get a lot farther with a smile and a gun than you can with just a smile.
Al Capone

21 quotes from self-made billionaires that will change your outlook on money ---


The Best Advice from 2018's Celebrity Commencement Speakers ---


If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.
Lincoln on How to Handle Criticism ---



The Economist:  A new kind of left-wing doctrine is emerging. It is not the answer to capitalism’s problems ---


The Bernie Sanders Paradox: When Socialism Grows Old ---


Fed up cystic fibrosis patients are threatening to move out of Britain since the health service won't cover a $272,000 drug ---


Socialism: A Track Record Of Failure ---


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the botched Green New Deal rollout was her biggest mistake yet in Congress ---


While the use of federal grants in Warren’s bill may help reduce exclusionary zoning, it’s other provisions would reduce the supply of rental housing ---


Can you imagine? --- possible fraud in the public sector

Federal agents raided the homes and offices of Baltimore’s embattled mayor on Thursday amid widening probes to determine whether she used sales of her children’s books to disguise government kickbacks ---


Boy Scouts Of America Release The Names Of Over 7600 Scout Leaders Who Violated Kids! ---


Congrats, Kamala. You may not have planned on being the talk of the town, but you are. And you'll also be the reason for the spike in guns and ammo sales. Can't wait to see what the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) numbers are for April ---
Click Here
Jensen Comment
This is such a dangerous increase in arms and ammo for no good reason since her chances of actually becoming President of the USA are zilch.


The US economy blows past growth expectations in the first quarter ---


This Banking Fraud Shows How Shady China’s Economy Remains ---


The US White Majority Will Soon Disappear Forever ---


Democrats Are Stifling Their Liberal Wing’s Biggest Ideas ---


Wesley Snipes --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wesley_Snipes
Due Process Hearing. He then submitted an O.I.C. for an $842,061 offer in full satisfaction of his $23.5 million debt to the IRS.  Offer rejected!


NYT:  Trump and Democrats Agree to Pursue $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan ---
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/30/us/politics/trump-infrastructure-plan.html?action=click&module=Top Stories&pgtype=Homepage


Nigeria:  Hundreds of Christians have been killed in recent months and entire Christian villages wiped out, as the international community stands by in silence ---
Are the major media outlets (think ABC, CBS, and NBC) totally ignoring the Libyan slave trade in blacks that was exposed by CNN? Why the silence?
Islamic Views on Slavery ---


Discrimination and Disparities (a look at history)
Walter Williams


MIT:  Getting rid of air pollution might make droughts worse ---
Click Here 


The avg Venezuelan adult has lost 24 lbs. Babies have no medicine. Families have to walk miles in the heat to get the only meal they may have that day. All because of the corrupt Maduro regime. Your comments are so far from the truth. Cuba and Russia appreciate your support.

Nikki Haley to USA-hating Ilhan Omar who blames the USA for everything bad in the world, including the economic collapse of Venzuela


Why are government workers in California paid twice as much as private sector workers?
Jensen Comment
I do point out that this is rooted in a Hoover Institute study. This makes it good news and bad news. The good news is that Stanford University's Hoover researchers are pros. The bad news is that they can also be biased in the Hoover Tower. The good news is sample size in the millions. The bad news is that averages can be misleading when they aren't accompanied by distribution information regarding standard deviations and skewness. For example, the private sector data might be skewed downward by minimum wages that are lower than low-end government pay.
The private sector employs a people with greater variety of skills or lack thereof.


Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh Resigns Amid Self-Published Children's Books Scandal ---


Jobs report crushes expectations, unemployment drops to 50-year low ---


The New York Times admitted on Thursday that the Obama administration deployed multiple spies against the Trump campaign in 2016, confirming recent comments by Attorney General William Barr that 'spying did occur' during the campaign ---


The Pentagon Doesn't Want to Report on Its Failed War in Afghanistan ---


Vanguard Patented a Way to Avoid Taxes on Mutual Funds ---


2020 Candidates Are Still Pouring Money Into Facebook Adds ---


Ticky Tack:  Brad Pitt's post-Katrina housing project is under fire after homes started rotting and collapsing. Here's everything that's gone wrong ---
Like Sean Penn's houses for Haiti


Is Trump's intuition better than we think?
David Beckworth: The Fed's Inflation-Targeting Framework Has Forced Monetary Policy to be Too Tight for the Better Part of a Decade →


NY Times: You Can’t Tax The Rich Without The IRS ---


NYT Editorial Board Concedes Trump is Right on Border Crisis, Urges Congress to Fulfill New WH Budget Request ---


Paul Romer (Nobel Prize Winning Economist) --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Romer
A Tax That Could Fix Big Tech ---


Robert P. Murphy's Summary of Friedrich Hayek's Contributions and Views →


NYT:  Algeria’s Turmoil Adds New Obstacle to Saving the Historic Casbah ---


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the federal student-loan program is running a deficit and will cost taxpayers an estimated $31.5 billion over the next decade. A year ago the agency said the program would pay an $8.7-billion profit over the same time period.
Jensen Comment
On the humorous side, the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services recently embarrassed herself on national television by revealing she was not even aware the the government took over student lending from commercial banks.
On the somber side the supposedly bipartisan CBO has a biased habit of underestimating what legislation will cost taxpayers. The CBO's record of protecting taxpayers is dismal.

Something Odd About How The NYT Reported On The Trump Spygate Story --- 

Pete Buttigieg says if 'God belonged to a political party' it wouldn't be the Republican party ---


“Judge not, lest you be judged” 
Matthew 7: 1-2
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone ... "

John 8: 7

Jensen Comment
We might also tell Pete that perhaps the Democratic Party needs him far more (but that is only a Jensen attemped joke)


French Chemist Lavoisier executed by guillotine in the Reign of Terror following the French Revolution. The next day Lagrange commented: "It took them only an instant to cut off that head, and a hundred years may not produce another like it."


The Guardian:  How the News Took Over Reality ---


Belt and Road --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belt_and_Road_Initiative
s China's Belt and Road a big, dysfunctional mistake?


How college professors push students toward socialism ---
And they never mention how pension savings nearly 200+ million parents will be crushed by taking trillions from investors to pay for social programs like free medical care, free medications, free college, guaranteed annual income, etc.


Joe Biden wants to head to the 'middle ground' on climate change





The Democratic Party will soon be writing a 2020 Election Platform. What I fear is that this platform will overlook the following question:
What will the Democratic Party do for pension savings?

Like it or not pension savings are very fragile for the USA's hundreds of millions of city workers, county workers, state workers, hotel workers, auto workers, teachers, college employees, and nearly all other workers in the public and private sectors.
The problem is that most every worker's pension savings balance is dependent upon capital market values (e.g., stock prices, bond prices, and real estate prices).

The 2020 Democratic Party Platform will likely propose new social spending programs for green initiatives, free medical care, free medications, student loan forgiveness followed by free college for everybody, guaranteed annual income for 350+ USA residents, reparations for African and Native Americans, and billions for new subsidized housing on top of existing safety nets such as food stamps and welfare and housing.

Taxes will have to be increased annually by trillions of dollars to pay for these new social programs.

Stock markets in the USA just reached all-time highs. The question is whether those increased trillions in taxes will crash the capital markets and, thereby, wipe out the pension savings of hundreds of millions or workers.

To date the Democratic Party is vague about how it will fund the trillions of dollars planned annually for new social programs.

How will pension savings be preserved when trillions in new taxes are proposed?

What will keep stock markets from crashing if you tax trillions from investors?

For example, will free college for students wipe out the pension savings of their parents in funds like CalPERS, CREF, Fidelity, Vanguard, etc.?

Progressives will counter that other nations manage to provide free college.

 In OECD nations (think Finland, Denmark, Germany, and Norway) that have free college or free job training, well over half of the Tier 2 graduates are not even allowed to go to college or receive free job training paid for by their governments. This makes "free college" or "free training" affordable by limiting it only to top graduates . . .
The Democratic Party's 2020 Platform will assuredly not limit the USA's free college to the very top high school graduates.

“You have to make decisions that you’re going to reach certain goals, and some of our goals we think are achievable
Nancy Pelosi

"Plan for the best, but prepare for the worst"
Bob Jensen's fortune cookie on April 30, 2019

Government Spending (as a percentage of GDP) on Colleges in the US Is Higher than in the Countries with "Free" College ---

Democrats Running for President Are Staking Out Ground on Free College. Here’s Where They Stand ---

Jensen Comment
I repeat that in OECD nations (think Finland, Denmark, Germany, and Norway) that have free college or free job training, well over half of the Tier 2 graduates are not even allowed to go to college or receive free job training paid for by their governments. This makes "free college" or "free training" affordable by limiting it only to top graduates . . .
Job training is mostly provided in the private sector of these capitalist nations.

Most Democrats running for president in 2020 (including Joe Biden) want to make college education and job training free for 350+ million residents of the USA who choose to take advantage of free courses, including free learning materials (think textbooks and computers). The estimated cost is staggering, especially if you add in forgiveness of over $1.5 trillion in student debt. Costs are difficult to estimate at this point in time without more details as to the quality of the free education and training. If all flagship universities are included, the cost of adding capacity for onsite courses and labs to serve any and all applicants is staggering --- perhaps more than the current USA budget for everything else including defense, Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. The problem is compounded by over $100+ trillion for other proposed spending trillions annually for Green Initiatives, Medicare-for-All (including long-term care and free medications), a $25,000 pay raise for every teacher in the USA, guaranteed annual income for 350+ million residents of the USA, reparations for African and Native Americans, and greatly expanded subsidized housing.

Are these presidential candidates really serious or are they just trying to buy votes with promises that will destroy the economic engine of the USA and ruin all pension funds (think TIAA and CREF) along with killing existing stock, bond, and real estate markets?

I think Joe Biden should set himself apart by promoting realistic objectives that can be attained without destroying the USA economy. At this point in time, however, realistic objectives may ruin his chances for winning the nomination.

“You have to make decisions that you’re going to reach certain goals, and some of our goals we think are achievable
Nancy Pelosi
Click Here


Government Spending (as a percentage of GDP) on Colleges in the US Is Higher than in the Countries with "Free" College ---


Do Minorities Pay More for Mortgages?

44 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2019

Neil Bhutta

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Aurel Hizmo

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Date Written: March 14, 2019


We test for discrimination against minority borrowers in the prices charged by mortgage lenders. We construct a unique dataset of federally-guaranteed loans where we observe all three dimensions of a mortgage’s price: the interest rate, discount points, and fees. While we find statistically significant gaps by race and ethnicity in interest rates, these gaps are exactly offset by differences in discount points. We trace out point-rate price schedules and show that minorities and whites face identical schedules, but sort to different locations on the schedule. Such sorting likely reflects differences in liquidity or preferences, rather than lender steering. Indeed, we also provide evidence that lenders generate the same expected revenue from minorities and whites. Finally, we find no differences in total fees by race or ethnicity.

Keywords: Discrimination, Fair Lending, Mortgage, Points, Interest Rate, FHA, Consumer Protection, High-Cost Mortgage

JEL Classification: G21, G28


Pension Scams:  Corrupt Consulting "Everywhere"


A candidate in Kentucky vows to expose the nation’s worst public pension system in a way that could reveal corruption everywhere ---


Among the union flacks is one Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a think tank well funded by Illinois public employee unions.

Martire was brought in by three liberal Illinois state lawmakers at a Evanston town hall to explain, clarify or propagandize (take your choice) the Democratic solution to Illinois' crushing pension problem. Which amounts to more taxes, spending, borrowing and related ruinous non-solutions.

The only problem for Martire was that an actuary  was in the audience and he punched deadly holes into the Democrat's scam. I invite everyone to read the argumentation of Mitchell I. Serota, Ph.D., a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, in which he, among other things, reveals that the real unfunded pension obligation of Illinois' five public employee pension funds is more like $250 billion, not the often stated $140 billion. (I've previously written about this here.) Where the hell will Illinois find a quarter of a trillion dollars?


Continued in article

Social Security "insurance" is nothing like real insurance ---

Every time the Social Security trustees issue their annual report, some people notice that the system’s huge unfunded liabilities (currently, a $42.1 trillion cumulative shortfall) are inherently unfair to future Americans. That threatens its status as the “third rail” of politics, which electrocutes anyone who tries to touch it.

So Social Security’s army of defenders go on the attack. And one of their greatest weapons is that the program has been promoted as insurance program ever since it started and taking away insurance sounds like a bad idea.

In a sense, Social Security does act as a form of mandatory old age insurance for participants. However, rather than paying off with earnings from investments, as with private insurance, its taxes provide only promised future government benefits (though the Supreme Court long ago ruled in favor of the government’s claim that it did not need to provide the benefits promised).

However, for Social Security to really be insurance, a group’s “premiums” would have to finance the benefits they receive. But that has not even remotely been true of Social Security. Older generations got far more in benefits than they paid. They may believe they deserve a massively subsidized deal (especially when it is falsely presented as if early recipients actually paid all the costs of their benefits), but that deal is dramatically unfair to younger generations forced to pick up the multi-trillion dollar bill to make good on program promises.

And this is where a key distinction must be noted. In real insurance, people pay more now so that they will have more assets in their future. But Social Security has transferred money in the opposite direction — giving more money to those currently older at the expense of subsequent generations. From society’s perspective, then, Social Security acts as reverse insurance, leaving less for the future.

At Social Security’s inception, and with each of its many expansions, those already retired paid no new taxes, and those near retirement paid more for only a few years, but both groups received increased benefits throughout retirement. That necessarily meant that those who were younger (including those not yet born) would have to pick up the remainder of their tab. And the attempt to make good on the unfunded commitments of this massive income redistribution to earlier beneficiaries is the source of Social Security’s current financial problems, as well as why there is no fair way out of them--there is no way to make good on its over-promises but by being unfair to someone.

Social Security’s reverse insurance accumulation of negative balances is also used to oppose any attempt to shift toward private retirement mechanisms. Under private insurance, current workers finance their own retirement benefits — and only their benefits. But if those younger could access such options to escape having Social Security’s huge unfunded liabilities imposed on them, someone else would necessarily be left holding the bag. So politicians instead pander to seniors who are much more likely to be politically engaged and vote than the young, by demonizing any such move as threatening the status quo, even though the status quo is unsustainable anyway.

Looking at Social Security’s finances as of a certain future date, while depressing, injects a similar bias in favor of the program. It means that trillions of dollars owed to those who have paid in, but who have not yet received all their promised benefits, can be made to disappear from public view. However, such arbitrary cut-off dates misleadingly make any private retirement mechanism, which produces no such “hidden” burden on later generations, look worse by comparison.

Continued in article

May 2019
How to Mislead With Statistics
Polls Say Biden, Bernie Could Beat Trump. Should You Believe Them?

Jensen Comment
What is the most misleading about an traditional political poll?
Answer:  It's reported accuracy. For example, the Emerson College Poll claims 93% accuracy on election day.
What this ignores how the poll is at times before election day, especially over a year before election day.
Polls tend to converge with considerable accuracy on election day, but they are often way off base long before elections.
Right up to the day of election, the population from which polls are sampled is usually a non-stationary process that, in many instances, changes dramatically week to week.

Also the polls can be highly inaccurate in very close races.The 2016 Presidential election is a dramatic illustration of polling errors since virtually all polls predicted Clinton would beat Trump.

The article article pretty well explains why polls are misleading, especially over a year in advance.

One ranking of poll accuracy ---

Secretariat’s Kentucky Derby Record Is Safe, Thanks To The Taxman
There are several reasons: Tracks are sandier to lessen the risk of injury. Hormones were banned in 2008. And then there’s the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

How to Mislead With Statistics
American Economic Review:  Who Pays for the Minimum Wage? ---

Jensen Comment
This is one of those studies with conclusions that are embedded in a whole lot of unmentioned caveats. For example:

Does Hungary have anything close to the $2 trillion underground economy that provides alternatives to the minimum wage for both employers and employees?

Are there enormous differences between industries such as restaurant workers versus landscape workers (in Texas there are probably more landscape workers working in the underground economy than the economy paying more and providing benefits)?

My own opinion is that having an enormous underground economy changes everything about minimum wage conclusions. Interestingly the underground economy may pay much more than minimum wage, especially when there are skills (think auto mechanics) or risks (think farm and yard chemicals) or enormous discomforts (think of working on a metal roof under Arizona's sun). But even when there relatively high wages there are seldom underground economy benefits like medical insurance and unemployment compensation and pension contributions.

Bob Jensen's threads on the underground economy ---





Health Insurance


Finland’s government collapses over failed health care reform ---

Bernie Sanders: "You’re Damn Right We’re Going to Destroy Private Health Insurance" ---
Click Here

Reason Magazine's Really Important Concerns about Medicare-for-All
The Contradiction at the Heart of Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All Plan ---


There is a huge contradiction at the heart of Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All plan.

On the one hand, Sanders not only wants to expand government-provided coverage to everyone in the country, he wants that coverage to be significantly more generous than Medicare, private insurance, or comparable government-run systems in other countries. On the other hand, he wants to drastically cut payments to hospitals, many of which lose money on Medicare right now, making up for the program's relatively low payments by charging much higher prices to private insurers.

What Sanders is proposing, in other words, is that the government finance a significant increase in government services while also radically reducing the amount it pays for those services. Even making generous assumptions, it's almost impossible to see how his plan could work.

Let's start with the promises Sanders makes about Medicare for All. No networks, premiums, deductibles, or copayments. Under his plan, essentially all non-cosmetic services would be free at the point of care for everyone.

Sanders calls this Medicare for All, but what he's describing isn't Medicare as we now know it. As The New York Times noted earlier this year upon the release of a Sanders-inspired Medicare for All bill in the House, the new program would "drastically reshape Medicare itself," changing both what it pays for and how. In many ways, it would be a completely different program. Medicare for All, in other words, isn't really Medicare.

And that program would be far more expansive and expensive than nearly any other comparable system. It would cover more, and require less direct financial outlays (not including taxes), than either today's Medicare or typical private insurance plans in the U.S.

It would also be substantially more generous than the national health systems set up in other countries. Sanders likes to unfavorably contrast America's mixed public-private health care system with foreign systems where the government is more directly involved. When he announced the 2017 version of his Medicare for All plan, for example, he bemoaned the state of affairs in the United States "a time when every other major country on earth guarantees health care to every man, woman, and child." Discussions about health care policy on social media often include some variant of the question, "If every other country with a developed economy can do it, why can't the United States?"

The problem with this line of questioning is that what Sanders is proposing isn't what other countries do. Canada, for example, has a single-payer system, but it doesn't cover dental care, vision, drugs, or any number of other services. A majority of Canadians carry private insurance in order to cover those services. In Britain, which offers a fully socialized medical system where health care providers are government employees, many resident still buy private coverage. Sanders, on the other hand, would effectively wipe out private coverage in the space of just four years.

There are similar limitations on coverage in other countries, like the Netherlands. It's also true in Australia, where patients typically pay a percentage of the cost of specialty services. It's true that in these countries, government plays a more central role in health care financing. But their systems have also reckoned with costs and tradeoffs in a way that Sanders, after so many years, has not.

Indeed, the main trade-off that Sanders seems willing to discuss is the elimination of insurance companies, which he portrays as greedy middlemen driving up the cost of health care. Wiping out the industry in one fell swoop, as Sanders has proposed, would be a unprecedented and disruptive move that would have significant economic repercussions, including the probable loss of thousands of insurance industry jobs. But it still wouldn't do much to bring down the cost of health care, because so much money in the nation's health care system is tied up in provider payments, especially hospitals.

And therein lies the (first) contradiction.

Most people probably think of hospitals as places where you go to get health care services. Politically and economically, however, they also fulfill another role: They are hubs for stable middle-class jobs, paying reasonably good wages to thousands of highly trained workers, most of whom are not doctors or specialists earning stratospheric salaries.

To acquire the revenue to pay for all these jobs, hospitals rely on a mix of private and public payments. Public payments make up a somewhat larger share of total hospital budgets, but private payers are typically charged much higher prices.

Hospitals like to argue that Medicare and Medicaid payments are too low to cover their costs, and that as a result, higher private payments effectively subsidize public health coverage. Critics (with some evidence) often respond that hospitals either overstate or don't really understand their own costs, and that this is just a ploy to extract more money from government health programs and private payers.

But when considering Medicare for All, the particulars of this debate are largely beside the point, because there is simply no question that eliminating private insurance and payment for all services would drastically reduce the amount of revenue for hospitals.

Yet that is exactly what Sanders wants to do. His plan calls for paying for health care services at Medicare rates, which means that, practically overnight, hospitals would end up with far, far less revenue. Exactly how much is unclear, but one estimate indicated that payments could drop by as much as 40 percent.

That would leave hospitals with a couple of difficult choices. They could eliminate services. They could try to force some employees to take pay cuts. They could fire large numbers of workers. Or they could simply shut down. As a recent New York Times report on how Medicare for All would affect hospitals noted, rural hospitals—many of which are already struggling to stay afloat—would be particularly at risk of closing.

Whatever ended up happening, there is simply no way most hospitals would or could continue operating as they do now under the payment regime that Sanders envisions. Lots of middle class jobs would disappear. Services would be eliminated or cut back. 

Yet Sanders not only imagines that hospitals would continue to operate as they do now, but that they would expand their services to even more people, since more people would have coverage. And since he also imagines a system with no deductibles or copays, those people would almost certainly end up dramatically increasing utilization of hospital services.

Studies of health insurance have consistently shown that expansions of health insurance result in increased demand for (and use of) health care services; more people with coverage means more people lining up to get care. (Relatedly, introducing even very small copays—on the order of just a few dollars—can reduce the number of visits to doctors and hospitals.) Greater utilization of health care services does not necessarily translate into measurably better physical health outcomes. But it does increase the strain on the health care delivery system—which is to say, it puts a huge amount of pressure on hospitals.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Another contradiction is that to pay for Medicare-for-All Bernie Sanders wants to tax most of what high-income workers earn, and the highest income professionals in the USA on average are physicians. There is currently a shortage of physicians. This shortage will become critical as medical care becomes virtually free and often overused as a free service by hundreds of million residents of the USA.

Here's the second contraction

Taxing physician income at 70% or more will discourage students from becoming physicians and will give existing physicians incentives to retire early or work at leisurely part-time doctoring. Far better work two days per week and pay a 30% income tax rate than to be a 60--hour week highly stressed, and overworked physician being taxed at 70% of every extra dollar earned.

Medicare-for-All is a Tragedy of the Commons ---

Jensen Comment
Bernie Sanders and AOC have jointly proposed legislation to cap credit card interest to 15% ---
Many people in the USA will then not be able to get a credit card.. Below I link to an academic study on this topic.

I might note that in a similar vein I've had a long time distaste for these companies that set up storefronts near military bases and factories, store fronts that charge very high interest rates for payday loans --- high interest loans in advance of payday. Of course one of their incentives is to have borrowers fail to payoff those loans on payday such that the high interest rate earnings continue on for months or even years.

I was a proponent of interest rate caps. Then a well-known finance professor colleague, whose office was two doors down from mine, explained why he's against interest rate caps. The main reason is that people who borrow at such high interest rates are usually desperate. For example, they may be on the verge of being evicted from housing. They may have a desperately ill child. If they can't get a credit card charging a 22% apr they might have to resort to predatory lenders charging a 100% apr, lenders that break knee caps to collect overdue loans.

In the case of credit cards perhaps they have no intention of borrowing at an enormous interest rate of something like 25% on the card. However, if their credit is so lousy that they cannot otherwise get a credit card they're up the well-known creek just by not having a credit card. For example, you cannot rent a car in the USA or maybe even get a hotel room without having a valid credit card even if you don't borrow on that card. In other words, in some instances the legislation proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez simply means not being able to get a credit card!

Here's an academic study on usury and  interest rate caps.

Price Regulation in Credit Markets: A Trade-off between Consumer Protection and Credit Access*

Abstract. Interest rate caps are widespread in consumer credit markets, yet there is limited evidence on its effects on market outcomes and welfare. Conceptually, the effects of interest rate caps are ambiguous and depend on a trade-off between consumer protection from banks’ market power and reductions in credit access. We exploit a policy in Chile that lowered interest rate caps by 20 percentage points to understand its impacts. Using comprehensive individual-level administrative data, we document that the policy decreased transacted interest rates by 9%, but also reduced the number of loans by 19%. To estimate the welfare effects of this policy, we develop and estimate a model of loan applications pricing, and repayment of loans. Consumer surplus decreases by an equivalent of 3.5% of average income, with larger losses for risky borrowers. Survey evidence suggests these welfare effects may be driven by decreased consumption smoothing and increased financial distress. Interest rate caps provide greater consumer protection in more concentrated markets, but welfare effects are negative even under a monopoly. Risk-based regulation reduces the adverse effects of interest rate caps, but does not eliminate them.

Alas. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.


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·     With a Rejoinder from the 2010 Senior Editor of The Accounting Review (TAR), Steven J. Kachelmeier

·     With Replies in Appendix 4 to Professor Kachemeier by Professors Jagdish Gangolly and Paul Williams

·     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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