Saturday, August 1, 2009

SAR #9212/Weekender

What’s left? Third-party politics?

Fish/Fowl: If we’re lucky this is either a recession or a depression – something that will eventually end. But woe is us, it’s neither – it seems to be the beginning of a fundamental rearrangement of the economic order. It will be interesting, not fun.

Wrap It Up: A Colonel in Baghdad sent his bosses a memo - leaked to the NY Times - suggesting the US presence in Iraq is a dead fish that has started to smell. The recommended solution: Declare victory and run. Worked in Viet Nam.

Let Me 'Splain To You: GDP contracted in 2Q2009 at only 1% on an annualized basis. Everything still sucks in the consumer driven portion of the economy, but the government dumped enough money to hide the disaster.

Apples and Oranges: Take a large grain of salt to the current earnings reports. Much of the reported profit is from cost savings such as using up the inventory, firing the help and selling off parts of the company. Profitable now, but not really earnings - they should be called hurtings.

Under the Tarp: Estimates are that to date the taxpayer has lost $148 billion of the original $700 billion. At least 8 more recipients are expected to write off their TARP funds.

The Red Dress: The cure is always shopping. After 9/11 Bush told us to hit the malls. Last year he sent us money to go shopping with. The Fed and Treasury have been giving the Big Guys cash so they could buy up the little guys. Obama cut payroll taxes so we would actually spend that part of the stimulus. They're giving us $8,000 to put down on a house and $4,500 to park a new car in the drive. My wife's got her eye on a red dress...

The Little List: Countries with deflationary economies: Spain, Switzerland, Britain, Ireland, Japan, and now Germany. And of course, the United States.

Green Shoots: As CO2 continues to rise in the atmosphere, both the Arctic tundra and sub-Arctic peatlands are warming faster than previously predicted. A rise of 1C would double the CO2 escaping from the peatlands – which contain 1/3 of the earth’s soil-bound carbon. The warming tundra is producing another serious feedback loop: the higher temps mean larger plants are spreading across the tundra, darkening the land and absorbing more and more heat and emitting more and more methane as the permafrost melts. There isn’t any anthropogenic global climate change, some say, but if there was this would be bad news.

Mommyware: The US Air Force wants to develop a cybersecurity system that can determine ‘good’ (approved) versus ‘bad’ (disallowed/subversive) activities on computer systems. Theirs, at first.

Old Dog, New Trick: Amid all the badmouthing from environmentalists, China is taking advantage in the dip in electrical demand resulting from the economic slowdown to close a large number of smaller coal-fired power plants. Good on them.

Lies, Damned Lies, & Medicare: Since 1970 Medicare’s per-person costs have risen 8.8% annually. Health insurance has gone up 9.9% annually. Medicare costs doubled every 8 years, for-profit insurance doubles every 7 years. Either way, the health care is okay, the problem is the cost.

Quoted: "Consumers won't start spending until they have money in their pockets… But they don't have the money, and it's hard to see where it will come from. They can't borrow. Their homes are worth a fraction of what they were before, so say goodbye to home equity loans and refinancings. One out of ten home owners is under water, Unemployment continues to rise, and number of hours at work continues to drop."

Porn O'Graph: Better than expected...


TulsaTime said...

Long ago in another dementia, a wise old towel told me that the reason healthcare costs keep going up is cuz of increased demand. You know, it almost sounds like one of those sittyations you could generalize an express with graphs n stuff.

Now, with everbody gettin old n poor n stuff, an the gubbmint gonna take care of said less fortunates, looks like we got the basis for a buble in menial healthcare jobs. Lots o clinics with lots o 2nd assistant nurse helper helpers, and perhaps a LPN in charge. And cozy group homes for housing old folk an traumatized soldier/police types.

Hope that red dress is distracting.


Bill said...

I was surprisingly agreeing with many of the points made in the Kossack article until he went off the rails by referring to Mitt Romney as a Führer. It's risible that just a few paragraphs later he chastises the media for doing pretty much the same thing.

The hard left loves to traffic in hate; is the poster child. But I digress.

Corruption is endemic in both parties. The Democrats are now leading the way, but only because they're in control. Why should we surrender the remaining half of our healthcare system to that cesspool? It's suicide.

And I'm not surprised by the Medicare/private insurance inflation statistics. The figures are somewhat specious, and future Medicare inflation will be driven by aging.

Here's an eye-opening piece by the chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical School.

He provides a list of ten comparisons to remember as the debate continues:

1. Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers.

2. Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians.

3. Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries.

4. Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians.

5. Lower-income Americans are in better health than comparable Canadians.

6. Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the United Kingdom.

7.People in countries with more government control of health care are highly dissatisfied and believe reform is needed.

8. Americans are more satisfied with the care they receive than Canadians.

9. Americans have better access to important new technologies such as medical imaging than do patients in Canada or Britain.

10. Americans are responsible for the vast majority of all health care innovations.

For sure, our healthcare system could benefit from reform, including tort reform, but turning it all over to politicians is ludicrous.

CKMichaelson said...

Bill - You are making an argument over health care (when you aren't dragging in completely extraneous things), not over providing health care. The health care reform issue is about making health care - good old American health care -affordable.

Remember the 47 million uninsured who couldn't afford any health care? The effort to provide coverage was hijacked by extraneous crap - because there is no good argument against single payer.

So those who had profits to protect (and don't tell me Doctors - I've two of those in my family) in the US insurance industry and for profit hospital industry and drug industry dragged in the extraneous arguments about the quality of health care in Botswainia.

Stick to the question of who pays and who profits. Don't invite in bogeymen. And as a former government employee, I suspect I and my co-workers can process paper just as well as the clerks at BCBS. Don't confuse the government employee with the publicly elected critters..


Bill said...

I didn't "confuse the government employee with the publicly elected critters. It's the government "bosses" I'm worried about. They are corrupt and I don't trust them.

I would rather have Washington prove to the American people that they have the will to address the fiscal problems with the entitlement programs we already have before creating another.

And tort reform would certainly make healthcare more affordable, but the obscene profits of trial lawyers are untouchable. Geez, I wonder why?

Your 47 million figure is specious. The American magazine has a good breakdown from last year about who exactly comprises the 47 million.

Q. Let’s get inside those rough numbers. Who tends to be uninsured?

A. They tend to be younger, with those most likely to be uninsured between ages 19 and 24. Almost all adults age 65 and above are covered primarily by Medicare, and many of them have supplemental private insurance. Men are a little bit more likely to be uninsured. Married individuals and persons with more than a high school education are much more likely to be insured. Most of the uninsured (88 percent) are in good to excellent health. The likelihood of being insured rises with income and full-time work status, although nearly half (47 percent) of the uninsured are full-time workers. Hispanics are considerably more likely than those in any other ethnic category to be uninsured (over 30 percent). More than a quarter of the uninsured are foreign-born. By Census Bureau estimates, about 10 million uninsured are not citizens and half of them are illegal immigrants.

Bill said...


Q. So millions of uninsured persons counted in federal surveys just lack Medicaid coverage?
A. Hold on. Some of them actually have it but don’t report it accurately. The so-called “Medicaid undercount” is derived from findings that Medicaid coverage levels based on survey data are consistently lower than the count of Medicaid enrollees obtained from the program’s administrative records. On the high side, a recent study concluded that the CPS overestimates the uninsured population by as much as 9 million people for this reason alone! However, the latest research suggests that the undercount’s effect is smaller, because it’s more likely to involve Medicaid enrollees erroneously reporting that they have some other type of health insurance rather than none at all.

Q. Do many higher income people choose to be uninsured, even though they could afford to buy coverage?

A. Surveys suggest that one of the more significant sources for recent annual increases in the number of uninsured Americans involves persons in relatively higher income households. According to the CPS, more than 17.6 million uninsured live in households earning more than $50,000 a year, and household income is above $75,000 for more than 9 million uninsured. However, those numbers overstate the actual income available to those uninsured individuals, because household units are defined more broadly than are insurance purchasing units. As the composition of “households” changes, their income isn’t the same as family income available for spending on health insurance. The rising cost of coverage remains the primary barrier to insurance coverage for the uninsured, and in some cases, its value just may not be “worth it” for those in higher income families. But a more narrow and consistent measure of the higher income uninsured is closer to 2 million, involving people with regular incomes over $50,000 who lack insurance for spells of more than a year.

Q. Isn’t affordability of coverage the main problem, particularly for high-risk individuals?

A. The main reason cited by individuals for why they lack insurance is that it costs too much, but it’s not the only factor. Adults with weak or uncertain preferences for health insurance are less likely than others to obtain job offers with insurance, to enroll in offered coverage, and to be insured. On the other hand, individuals with higher health risks are more likely to seek and obtain health insurance coverage, particularly in the large employer group market. Higher premiums for higher risks are not a significant contributor to the large uninsured population.

CKMichaelson said...

Bill - I think you've confused my blog with your blog. Yours is over there on the right somewhere...

Bill said...

I simply enjoy the back and forth, especially with someone who is more well read than I am.

I don't want to be brainwashed by any ideology - even if it appears to some, like you, that I am.