The Final Minority Report

Because Even Minorities Oppose Liberalism & Statism

What’s in it for Healthcare Companies?

So what’s in it for health care companies when it comes to socialized medicine? Ask Despina D. Karras.

“An unrivaled set of abstractions and posturing,” is how a Boston University Professor of Health Policy described the announcement that health companies (insurers, providers and drug companies) have promised to enact $2 trillion in cost-cutting measures over the next 10 years.

This ceremonial commitment came on the heels of Democrat’s revealing their willingness to use reconciliation to push universal healthcare legislation through soon. While the announcement was a nice gesture, it left many of us wondering, where’s the beef? First, with no enforcement mechanism, the government cannot force the companies to follow through on their promises. And secondly, if realized, these savings wouldn’t benefit the government alone, but would also accrue to the consumers of health services. In other words, the money saved won’t be put in a big pot that the government can reach into to fund their healthcare initiatives.

So what did this announcement really mean? For example, might the President be willing to explore reforming healthcare without instituting socialized healthcare? That seems unlikely. The more likely explanation is that up until now, the major road block to providing a public, government-run health insurance has been finding a way to pay the ever increasing bill for such a Medicare-style entitlement, and the President believes that “lowering the costs of health care will complement the overall reform of the health-care system” that Congress is getting ready to take up soon.

What about the insurance companies? Why would they be willing to get on board with an administration and Congress that is set to pass legislation that could devastate, if not eliminate, their industry? The New York News Blog provides a rundown of opinions on this issue that range from believing that this group has accepted what’s coming down the pipeline and is now ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with this administration to suspecting that the industry hopes that universal healthcare will “give them a huge revenue boost in the short term – and then every lobbyist … will fight those spending reductions over the long term”.

Some examples of the cost-cutting measures offered up include making payment systems more effective, reducing administrative costs and improving technology. However, similar efforts have failed in the past, and experts say it will be difficult to squeeze that kind of savings out of these kinds of proposals.

So, the question remains, did these health companies come to the table because they wanted to be players that would help reshape healthcare as we’ve known it? One person suggested they wanted a seat at the table so as to avoid being on the menu. Yesterday’s announcement may have been long on admirable goals and short on the details as to how we get there, but one thing is for sure: this administration and Congress is intent on passing healthcare reform and soon. Yesterday’s announcement may have been unclear and may not have seemed like the game changer we expected on the surface, but with even the health companies seeming to accept government-run healthcare as inevitable, it was the first symbolic step toward socializing healthcare in America.

05/13/2009 Posted by | Health Care, socialized medicine | | Leave a comment

Too Little, Too Late: Amends from a Recovering Liberal

Although a little too late for my tastes (in consideration of the current political structure), I find this a little too late but still worth the read:

Dear friends, family, loved ones, conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, my brother in law, Sam, and my cousin Joe: I am sorry and you were right.

These are not easy words for anyone to utter, much less a leftist from Berkeley, or a recovering leftist, that is. Even though I’ve been in recovery for 14 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days, leftists are always right in your face, in an I-hate-you-if-you-disagree sort of way. Hence, this letter of amends to all the people I’ve lectured, scolded, ranted and raved at, and otherwise annoyed during my 30 plus years of “progressive” politics.

My recovery program urges a fierce moral inventory, a cleansing of heart and mind (kind of like a “forgiveness tour” but without the scary dictators), so here goes:

05/13/2009 Posted by | Former Obama Supporters, Useful Idiots | | Leave a comment

Liberal Compassion in Health Care

Why does socialized medicine in the UK look so similar to the proposals to socialized medicine in the US?

BRITISH VERSION

NICE Continues To Ration Access To Kidney Cancer Medicines, Preventing Doctors From Providing The Best Possible Treatment Option For Each Patient
Article Date: 30 Apr 2009 – 1:00 PDT

Today the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) announced the Final Appraisal Determination (FAD) for Nexavar® (sorafenib), Sutent® (sunitinib), Avastin® (bevacizumab) and Torisel® (temsirolimus) in advanced kidney cancer. NICE has not recommended sorafenib, bevacizumab and temsirolimus as first line treatment option for kidney cancer. Furthermore, it does not recommend sorafenib or sunitinib for second line treatment for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) patients.

More than 7,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year, of which 1,7001 will have the advanced form of the disease.

AMERICAN VERSION

Remember, our population is aging. And with the very, very elderly, the costs go down, so that percentage should be falling, and it’s not. Second, the cost of care is growing by so much, so at the same percentage, it’s worth a lot more. So let’s go back to the issue of comparative effectiveness, which we’re supporting. That’s where that can have a big impact. It’s not only there, but that’s where the waste is. That’s where people are using technologies that really either don’t work at all or keep people alive for for very limited [time] and [at] very high cost.

Hospice is one option, but we do need take account of the cost — you know, I hate to say it, the cost-benefit of some of the things we do. And either we can do it directly, or we can do it by bundling the payments and let the delivery system deal with it. So it’s a combination of the delivery system dealing with it, or, and/or providing more information for people to make the right decisions, both for themselves and for the care.

05/13/2009 Posted by | Health Care, socialized medicine | | Leave a comment

Obama’s Quadruples Deficit in 100 Days

White House: Budget deficit to top $1.8 trillion, 4 times 2008’s record

* Andrew Taylor, Associated Press Writer
* On Monday May 11, 2009, 11:09 am EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — With the economy performing worse than hoped, revised White House figures point to deepening budget deficits, with the government borrowing almost 50 cents for every dollar it spends this year.

The deficit for the current budget year will rise by $89 billion to above $1.8 trillion — about four times the record set just last year. The unprecedented red ink flows from the deep recession, the Wall Street bailout, the cost of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill, as well as a structural imbalance between what the government spends and what it takes in.

As the economy performs worse than expected, the deficit for the 2010 budget year beginning in October will worsen by $87 billion to $1.3 trillion, the White House says. The deterioration reflects lower tax revenues and higher costs for bank failures, unemployment benefits and food stamps.

For the current year, the government would borrow 46 cents for every dollar it takes to run the government under the administration’s plan. In one of the few positive signs, the actual 2009 deficit is likely to be $250 billion less than predicted because Congress is unlikely to provide another $250 billion in financial bailout money.

The developments come as the White House completes the official release of its $3.6 trillion budget for 2010, adding detail to some of its tax proposals and ideas for producing health care savings. The White House budget is a recommendation to Congress that represents Obama’s fiscal and policy vision for the next decade.

Annual deficits would never dip below $500 billion and would total $7.1 trillion over 2010-2019. Even those dismal figures rely on economic projections that are significantly more optimistic — just a 1.2 percent decline in gross domestic product this year and a 3.2 percent growth rate for 2010 — than those forecast by private sector economists and the Congressional Budget Office.

For the most part, Obama’s updated budget tracks the 134-page outline he submitted to lawmakers in February. His budget remains a bold but contentious document that proposes higher taxes for the wealthy, a hotly contested effort to combat global warming and the first steps toward guaranteed health care for all.

Obama’s Democratic allies controlling Congress have already made it clear that they will reject key elements of his plan. Already apparently dead is a plan to raise $267 billion over the next decade to pay for his health care initiative by curbing the ability of wealthier people to reduce their tax bills through deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.

And the congressional budget plan approved last month would not extend Obama’s signature $400 tax credit for most workers — $800 for couples — after it expires at the end of next year.

Obama’s remarkably controversial “cap-and-trade” proposal to curb heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions is also reeling from opposition from Capitol Hill Democrats from coal-producing regions and states with concentrations of heavy industry. Under cap-and-trade, the government would auction permits to emit heat-trapping gases, with the costs being passed on to consumers via higher gasoline and electric bills.

Among the new proposals is a plan — already on its way through Congress — that would increase the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s borrowing authority from $30 billion to $100 billion in order to grant a two-year reprieve from higher deposit insurance premiums while the industry is struggling.

Also new are several tax “loophole” closures and increased IRS tax compliance efforts to raise $58 billion over the next decade to help finance Obama’s health care measure. The money makes up for revenue losses stemming from lower-than-hoped estimates of his proposal to limit wealthier people’s ability to maximize their itemized deductions.

The updated budget also would repeal an unintended tax windfall taken by paper companies that use a byproduct in the paper-making process as fuel to power their mills. The tax credits were never intended for paper companies, but now they could be worth more than $3 billion a year, according to a congressional estimate.

The budget would make permanent the expanded $2,500 tax credit for college expenses that was provided for two years in the just-passed economic stimulus bill. It also would renew most of the Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003, and would permanently update the alternative minimum tax so that it would hit fewer middle- to upper-income taxpayers.

05/11/2009 Posted by | Free Market Economics, Government Debt, Obama - Domestic Policy, Obama - Spending Bills, Obama - Stimulus Bill, Obama Budget, Personal Debt, Redistribution of Wealth, Useful Idiots | Leave a comment

Finding Some Public Accountability in UK

NOTE: MP = Minister of Parliment

MPs’ EXPENSES: The Telegraph’s investigation into how politicians – from Gordon Brown and his Cabinet to backbenchers of all parties – exploit the system of parliamentary allowances to subsidise their lifestyles and multiple homes.

It’s not just an American thing!

05/10/2009 Posted by | Equal Opportunity, Free Press, Government Debt, Pensions, Redistribution of Wealth | , | 1 Comment

NYC Taxes People in Homeless Shelters

Compassion from a liberal city!

The Bloomberg administration has quietly begun charging rent to homeless families who live in publicly run shelters but have income from jobs.

The new policy is based on a 1997 state law that was not enforced until last week, when shelter operators across the city began requiring residents to pay a certain portion of their income. The amount varies based on factors that include family size and what shelter is being used, but should not exceed 50 percent of a family’s income, a state official said.

Vanessa Dacosta, who earns $8.40 an hour as a cashier at Sbarro, received a notice under her door several weeks ago informing her that she had to give $336 of her approximately $800 per month in wages to the Clinton Family Inn, a shelter in Hell’s Kitchen where she has lived since March.

“It’s not right,” said Ms. Dacosta, a single mother of a 2-year-old who said she spends nearly $100 a week on child care. “I pay my baby sitter, I buy diapers, and I’m trying to save money so I can get out of here. I don’t want to be in the shelter forever.”

05/10/2009 Posted by | Disenfranchise Voters, Equal Opportunity, Food Stamps, Liberal Business, Neutral Govt, Personal Debt, Strange but True, Useful Idiots | Leave a comment

How Does Obama’s Bullying of Investors Affect America?

A pithy observation:

Does Obama’s bullying of investors portend real problems for the US?
Johnathan Pearce (London) Globalization/economics • North American affairs

I have not written about the subject of the Chrysler bailout so far since, not being close to the action in the US, I did not feel I had much to say that was not already voiced by the US blogs. But it does occur to me that there is a general problem right now in the way that the US administration – and arguably the UK one as well – has been acting in respect of bailouts of certain industries, such as carmakers as well as banks. What do I mean? Well, this report (H/T: Instapundit) suggests there is real fear about the “Nixonian” tactics employed by Mr Obama’s administration against bond-holders who have been angered by the expropriation of their capital via the Chrysler bailout.

For those who have not been following this story, bond-holders have been pushed to the back of the queue, as far as potential recovery of capital is concerned, with the auto union membership getting preferential treatment. Maybe Mr Obama figures that investors can be rained on right now because it is more important to get the votes and support of traditionally Democrat-leaning car workers. With mid-term Congressional elections a couple of years away, he will have his sly, Chicago machine-politics mind working out how to garner important support in the event that the US economy is still sluggish by that time. But pissing off investors – such as, let it be noted, pension funds – is not smart. The US requires large amounts of capital for any economic recovery that may take place. Ask yourself one of the most basic questions any investor should ask: can I get my money back if I need to? If the answer is no or only maybe, and if there is the threat of governments robbing investors, then less investment occurs. The problems of such behaviour explain why, for example, Africa has been such a bad investment bet for so many years.

It is an ugly business. Part of the trouble with the automakers is that even if they had been put into a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, with the banks and bondholders put on a more even footing for any recovery of assets, there is still the issue of what to do about the enormous unfunded pension obligations that these heavy industrial companies have. It is the same with airlines and steel. I have heard it said of British Airways – to take a UK example – that is is a pension scheme that happens to have a lot of aircraft. The pension tail can wag the corporate dog. And that is a hideous issue to deal with against the background of an ageing population. So in fairness to US policymakers, running down Chrysler involves dealing with a lot of tricky contractual issues.

Even so, it strikes me that the Obama administration is showing a level of political ruthlessness and “bugger-the-investor” attitude that is hardly going to endear people towards investing in that economy. My fear is that Mr Obama is making the cynical calculation that memories will fade; after all, how many investors in the UK remember how the Blair government, in the form of the charmless Stephen Byers, the-then industry minister, shafted investors in Railtrack?

Like I said, an ugly business.

05/10/2009 Posted by | Former Obama Supporters, Free Market Economics, Government Debt, Liberal Business, Obey Obama, Redistribution of Wealth, TARP, tax cheats, Useful Idiots | Leave a comment

Obama’s Supporters Surprised He’s a Class Warrior (duh)

So…those who voted for (D) during the 2008 Presidential race were voting for a Dumbass?

Among those affected by such changes would be some of Mr Obama’s most powerful supporters in the election, such as Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, and other “Silicon Valley” executives whose profits are mostly made abroad. They were taken aback when the President blasting companies for “shirking” their responsibilities by avoiding tax.

New York Democratic congressman Joseph Crowley said closing the loophole would hurt Citigroup Inc., his New York district’s largest employer.

It has also dawned on wealthy Americans who flocked to the Obama campaign of “Hope” and “Change” that the president opposes the “trickle down” theories that have guided US economics since President Ronald Reagan was elected with a mandate to slash taxes.

He warned that by the time he was done with them, Silicon Valley and Wall Street would remain large parts of the US economy, but not “half of our economy”.

05/10/2009 Posted by | Disenfranchise Voters, Former Obama Supporters, Free Market Economics, Government Debt, Health Care, Liberal Business, Neutral Govt, Obama - Domestic Policy, Obama - Spending Bills, Obama - Stimulus Bill, Obama Budget, Obey Obama, Redistribution of Wealth, socialized medicine, tax cheats, Tax Cuts, Teleprompter, Useful Idiots | Leave a comment

Could You Have Passed the 8th Grade in 1895?

So…could you?

Questions: What percentage of this year’s seniors and last year’s high school graduates could pass the following 8th grade test required in 1895, even if the few outdated questions were modernized? How many college students could pass it? For that matter, what percentage of high school teachers could pass it? And – – what percentage of today’s schools have standards for promotion from 8th grade equal to or tougher than those required in 1895?

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, Kansas – 1895

This is the eighth-grade final exam* from 1895 from Salina, Kansas. It was taken
from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society
and Library in Salina, Kansas and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts. per bu, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
10.Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?

Orthography (Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthography, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u’.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e’. Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10.Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of N.A.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10.Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

The top of the test states > “EXAMINATION GRADUATION QUESTIONS OF SALINE COUNTY, KANSAS
April 13, 1895 J.W. Armstrong, County Superintendent.Examinations at Salina, New Cambria, Gypsum City, Assaria, Falun, Bavaria, and District No. 74 (in Glendale Twp.)”

According to the Smoky Valley Genealogy Society, Salina, Kansas “this test is the original eighth-grade final exam for 1895 from Salina, KS. An interesting note is the fact that county students taking this test were allowed to take the test in the 7th grade, and if they did not pass the test at that time, they were allowed to re-take it again in the 8th grade.”

05/10/2009 Posted by | Equal Opportunity, Strange but True, The Left | , , | Leave a comment

How Does Your State Compare in National Tax Rates?

Comparing tax rates across the US since 1978!

August 7, 2008
State and Local Tax Burdens: All States, One Year, 1977-2008

About Tax Burden Data
People often ask how Tax Foundation rankings of state-local tax burdens compare to Census data, which include two popular state-by-state rankings. One of these popular Census tables covers only state-level taxes (click here to view tables). Local taxes are excluded, such as property taxes and local sales taxes. This exclusion allows Census to report up-to-date state-level collections, which would be impossible if Census waited for the time-consuming tally of tax collections by thousands of local governments. However, some states accomplish at the local level what other states accomplish at the state level, so a degree of comparability is lost as a result. For example, New York’s state sales tax rate is 4 percent, and its counties have local sales tax rates that range from 3 percent to 5.75 percent. Connecticut, on the other had, has a 6 percent state-level sales tax with no local add-ons. In a ranking that includes only state-level taxes, New York appears less taxed than it actually is, and Connecticut appears more taxed. Census also ranks combined state-local tax collections after it has amassed the local data (click here to view tables). This is closer to the Tax Foundation rankings, which take the additional steps of projecting collections into the current year, counting out-of-state tax payments in the state of residence instead of the state of collection, and dividing total tax payments by total income to calculate the “tax burden.”

05/10/2009 Posted by | Government Debt, Immigration, Liberal Business, Redistribution of Wealth, Tax Cuts | | Leave a comment