Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Great Example of What Caused the Housing Mess

Last night, the Mrs. and I were watching one of those house buying shows on HGTV. The couple that were looking for their first house were in Portland, Oregon. They both worked for the local school system. One was a special needs teacher, and the other worked in administration, but her exact position was never made clear. They were pre-qualified for a $375,000 loan. The male wanted a big house with lots of room, while the female was a bit more practical. Other factors were not told to the audience such as other debt considerations: car loans, personal loans, credit card debt, college loans, and so on. So, lets just review the numbers so far. A young couple, both working in the Portland school system, can qualify for a monthly mortgage of more than $2,100. Sure. And I play a doctor on TV.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Even a Tax Bill Gets Loaded Up

Some people ask me "If you're registered independent, why do you align yourself with Republicans?" Well, I consider myself a common sense conservative. I believe there a few things the government should do, and a lot it shouldn't do. If Republicans start screwing up, I'll let you know.

The only reason I bring that up is due to the current mess going on in DC with the tax bill. This is not just a bill to keep the Bush era tax cuts in place. It also includes all kinds of tax credits for just about every industry you can think of. The same industries that received tax breaks/credits via TARP in 2008 are set to receive additional corporate welfare. From the WashingtonExaminer.com:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Multitude Yelling and Holding Signs are Supporters!

Now that the newsies have had a day to digest the Republican party winning back the House, several governors' seats, and countless other local and state elections, it's time for the Dems to start putting their own spin on it. In fact, it's the Democrat in Chief who we can point to for calling it just a rock on a dirt path. Countless liberals are saying that this election was not a rejection of liberal ideals, but the voters were simply rejecting the message. Yes, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, "it's the message, stupid."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rick Sanchez is a victim of Rick Sanchez

Rick Sanchez, the twitter reading day-time host of CNN was fired over the weekend after making derisive remarks about Comedy Central's "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart. The comment was part of a series of remarks in which Sanchez complained that Jews do not face discrimination, and called out Stewart - calling him a "bigot" - for mocking him. In case he didn't know, Stewart is a Jew. Well, he does now.

Whenever a public figure, like Sanchez, is fired from a position that people are used to seeing them in every day, there might be a bit of sympathy from their viewers. Picture little old ladies sitting on their plastic covered sofas every afternoon. Sometimes, a tiff like this can put two opposing camps at odds with each other. But when the target is the liberal left's homeboy, Jon Stewart, there's not a battle, just the carnage. And that's what Sanchez is.

Sanchez, as a commentator at CNN, should have known not to go after Stewart, even if he wanted to. There's nothing to win for Sanchez. Stewart is bulletproof, and Stewart knows it. Even if Sanchez feels the mainstream media gives him a second billing as a Hispanic newscaster (he's Cuban born) as compared to northeast liberals, such as Stewart, he should have known to keep his trap closed.

To give you an idea of what kind of trust people put in Stewart, he was selected in a 2009 TIME Magazine poll the most trusted newscaster. Granted, it was an on-line poll, which might skew the results in Stewart's favor, but nevertheless.

The truly sad thing is there's really nothing for Sanchez to fall back on, unless he wants to hit the Fox News interview circuit, but I doubt Fox News would entertain the thought. Many people saw Sanchez as just a social media leach on CNN. His daily talk show, the Rick List, consisted of him mainly reviewing some trending stories and inviting his viewers to give their takes via Twitter. He would read his favorite on the air. I felt the show was pure filler, and CNN's way of trying to break into the social media realm, much like their I-Report videos. I do not feel that conservatives are going to give him a break either. Sanchez has worked at both MSNBC and CNN, and both are considered scourge of the Earth material by conservatives.

Some may point to John Stossel as an example of news people that were given a chance at Fox, but Stossel already had conservative, or, in his case, libertarian credentials that made it easy for him to be embraced by a new audience. Sanchez does not have that luxury. And that is why we say, good luck, Mr. Sanchez. You're going to need it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NC Governmental Beaucracy at its Best.

In today's News & Observer, there is a front-page article about how the state's Employment Security Commision, or ESC, actually overpaid a few people that were on its roll. Thankfully, it's really not a big deal. Some estimate the over-payment amount at somewhere around $28 million. Whew! I thought it might be somewhere around a more understandable few hundred thousand dollars.

From the article, the problem appears to be an issue of paying constituents from the wrong funding, which involves federally funded unemployment extensions. Accounts the state uses to pay unemployment benefits were starting to be overdrawn, and then someone noticed a problem.

Fortunately, for the citizenry of this great state, the ESC is wasting more money sending letters to those it overpaid to let them know of the error. And not only are they letting them know about the error, but also letting them know they may also be required to re-pay the state. Yes sir!

As a citizen taxpayer, I would love to have the citizens pay back the money simply to keep my taxes down. But as a taxpayer, I believe it to be completely unfair to the affected individuals. It is a misguided notion to ask people that are considered "long-term unemployed" (as this is who the error generally affects) to repay benefits that were incorrectly given to them. Yes, I know some will call this stealing. Well, the individuals didn't rob a bank in the middle of the night. All they did was . . . nothing. At the worst, you could probably blame them for continuing to report that they are unemployed. In this economy, if you were unemployed and your benefits kept coming in, would you turn them down?

Supposedly, those affected can ask for a "waiver" and have the re-payment forgiven, but its not known what criteria will be used to grant these "waivers."

Eventually, the state needs to take the blame for sloppy record keeping, among other things. When a person's unemployment benefits start, they are automatically set to expire after a set amount of weeks. Well, at least they were. Maybe the state should look to its own automated processes as the culprit. But you can't get money from a computer, and that's what this all boils down to, recouping money. The state made an error, and the citizens have to pay. Again.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

White People Need Not Apply

Oh, this should be entertaining. No way it gets any major national attention though.

A black elementary school principal in Michigan arranged a trip for only Black students to attend a meeting with a Black rocket-scientist. I'm all for trips that will help kids see there is more to getting an education than just recess time, but this stinks. The principal, Mike Madison, may not have had any racist intentions at all. Hindsight is 20/20 as the saying goes.

But what would happen if a White principal arranged a field trip for only White students. Jesse Jackson, you have a call on lines 1, 2, and 3. Unfortunately for Mr. Madison, he does need to be released from his position simply because if this were done by a White principal, he would be out of a job before he could ask what kind of terms would be in the agreement.

Here is the news feed from Foxnews.com. Even someone in Michigan agrees with me!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thank you! I'll be here all week.

Last weekend was the big White House correspondents dinner. For those that do not know, this is when all the national media that cover the WH on a regular basis get together and yuck it up. The President shows up, shares in the good times and tells some jokes. And there are always a few celebrities on hand to give it a good time feel.

I don't mind the jokes, or even care about Obama poking fun at the opposition. My concern is having an event solely for the purpose of wining and dining the press. If the press is supposed to be the "4th estate," they should report on the news, not participate in the lambasting of political opponents.

And for the record, I do not care who is in office, Republican, Green, Libertarian, or Democrat. The press corps can not be a neutral entity when they are invited to an event put on to simply entertain them.

Even the media has called into question the purpose and friendliness of such an event. In 2006, comedian Stephen Colbert was the invited speaker, and practically ran, then President Bush out of the room. Unfortunately for the neutral media, this is just another indicator of how cozy the media is with politicians that speak their language.

Wikipedia page for the White House Correspondent's Association

Wiki page for Colbert's roast of President Bush

Friday, April 30, 2010

Charlie Crist, the Desperate Candidate

Anyone that has paid any amount of attention to the Marco Rubio / Charlie Crist race for the Republican Gubanatorial race in Florida over the past few months had to see this one coming. With Rubio pounding Crist in polls and fundraising, Crist announced that he will run as an Independent. I guess this is Crist's answer to what job or career he will consider after he loses in the primary: He has no idea.

Who wouldn't love to be a state level politician (some days)? Great benefits and free travel across your state are two good reasons. And just about how everyone thinks your important. Everyone needs something from you. But then there are the drawbacks. You have to fight for your job every two to four years. For 11 months of your last year in office, you spend more time campaigning that actually doing the job you were voted to do. Every little mispoken word or every line that could be taken out of context is taken out of context and you spend two weeks doing job-saving crisis prevention. But hey, if being a politician is something you really want to do, then go for it.

But, please keep these things in mind, because it seems that Mr. Crist has forgotten them.
1. You are elected. One day, one year, one election, you will lose. It's inevetible. Unless you are caught doing something really stupid, like, say, cheating on your wife with a call-girl or you have an Argentinian mistress. Then of course, you will be asked to leave office before the election. And politicians hate that.

2. This is not a career. I wish that every politically affiliated post in every state had term limits, but alas, they do not. When you begin feeling that the citizenry does not want you in office, but you have done a fairly good job by them, take that as a sign to leave office with your dignity intact. Right now, Crist is losing to Rubio by about 20 points in polls (here), although Rasmussen has Rubio leading a 3-way race by 7 points. When you feel yourself about to get voted out of office, leave gracefully. Maybe in 20 years, they'll name a school or library after you. If you keep trying to hold on to your job like the Japanese fighting for Iwo Jima, then people start to think of you as a big jerk that won't go away. I call it "I don't know what else to do syndrome." They have spent their whole life climbing the political peak, and they have reached the summit, and they don't want to go back down. It's similar to squatter's rights, "I've been here for so long, it's mine, and I ain't givin' it up."

With either candidate holding sizeable leads over Democratic candidate Meek, the GOP primary is the big race. Crist has been battling up hill for quite some time, and it's sad to see him continuing to cling to his job, despite the writing on the wall.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Senator Carl Levin and his rated R tirade

Dear Senator Carl Levin:

I hope you enjoyed your 15 minutes. As an elected official for the state of Michigan, you carried yourself in a totally unprofessional way in your interrogation of Goldman Sachs executives. Granted, I know you were reading verbatim their inter-office emails. But you didn't have to. You could have self-censored. But you chose a different route. Shock and awe, right? Your little tirade wouldn't have made it on PBS or C-SPAN, two public broadcast networks. Radio and TV networks had to censor the tape before it was aired. Is that really something you want to be remembered for?

There are plenty of other ways for you to make your point. And for the record, I think Goldman Sachs probably participated in practices that ended up hurting their clients. If you really wanted to get to the bottom of the well, it is not productive to berate someone with silly questions that you simply want answered like this, "Yep, we lied, lied, and lied some more. And we made millions along the way."

Even in a court of law, a judge would have asked you to tone down the language. But no, in the highest level of government, you had to use language that would have gotten a middle schooler kicked out of school. I hope you feel good about yourself this morning. And for your sake, I hope emails from you with derogatory language do not get leaked out. After all, they are kept on government servers.

The Conservative Rocker

Monday, April 26, 2010

Race politics, and NC Senate District 3

In the race for Democratic Primary for NC Senate District 3, there are some interesting developments. Clark Jenkins is the incumbent, and is a white farmer. He may call himself a businessman. But he’s a farmer. The other lead candidate is Frankie Bourdeaux, a black businessman. He and his wife own a mental health clinic. I heard on the radio this morning Mr. Bourdeaux is putting out a robo-call asking black Democrats to turn out in good numbers for the Democratic primary in May. This should be embarrassing for the Democratic Party. Basically, it’s the “help a brotha out” mentality.

If Bourdeaux really wants to win the election for valid reasons, he needs to get his message out to the voters and not ask black people to vote for the black candidate. Local Democratic leaders need to call Bourdeaux to the carpet on this. I’m not supporting either candidate, but I imagine there would be quite a controversy if people opposed to Bourdeaux basically accused him of winning only because of his skin color. And it would not even be that far-fetched of an argument considering this new bit of information.

And if you do not think anything is wrong with this, what do you think would happen if Clark Jenkins asked all the white people to vote for him? He would not even be allowed to come back home. He would not have to worry about the local media. The national media would be camped outside his home. It is still racism, no matter how you color it. Racism is the same either way, and Mr. Bourdeaux should be ashamed of himself.

Even Mr. Bourdeaux's wife has made similar statements. The Rocky Mount Telegram quoted her, At the end of his remarks, Bordeaux’s wife, Faye, asked the crowd to consider her husband’s background, race and affinity for the residents of District 3 before they go to vote.
“This is a 58 percent minority district,” Faye Bordeaux said. “Why can’t we have someone in that seat who is qualified to do the job and who also looks and sounds like the people he represents?”

What she failed to bring up is how this is a 58% minority district. The district includes Martin, Edgecombe, and parts of Pitt, Bertie, Tyrrell, and Washington counties. The district lines are drawn up to elect a black person. Instead of giving the most populated county in the east (Pitt) it's own senate representative, the county is divided up, giving parts of it to district 3, and parts to district 5. Even the racial breakdown of the counties doesn't equal 58%. Pitt county is only 33% black; Martin is 45%; Edgecombe is 57%; Washington is 49%; Tyrrell is 39%; Bertie is 62%.

The Bourdeaux's should think about why they are running for office, and should plan on representing everyone in their district if elected, not just black people.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Obama takes on state's rights

With the immigration law passed in Arizona, President Obama felt the need to weight in on this issue. Basically, the new law states that it is acceptable for law enforcement to question the citizenship of anyone they believe may be here illegally. In a border state that is being threatened with more and more violence from Mexican gangs, it's no wonder the Arizona Assembly passed such a measure. Of course, this will be sent to the Arizona State Supreme Court for review, not the Federal courts. And that's why President Obama needs to tread lightly.

I completely understand that immigration, illegal or legal, is something that should be handled on the federal level. But under the current circumstances, it is the responsibility of state leaders to protect it's own part of the border and its citizens.

The violence in southern Arizona has been worsening, and the furor climaxed with the murder of a rancher by an illegal alien in March, 2010. Mexican drug cartels have been increasingly pushing into the southern border states, and also bringing the violence with them. And the only immigration stance the White House has basically says "sorry for keeping you in the shadows. Learn English, pay a fine, and happy travels in the U.S." It's not a policy, it's an open door. If the national government's answer to illegal immigrant violence in southern border states is to continue to discuss how to strengthen the border, and think about putting national guard troops on border patrol, then the state's have an obligation to protect it's citizens.

There is a legal way to emigrate to the United States. If the federal government does not want to enforce its own policies, then states and local governments should enforce policies it believes are warranted and necessary.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Beatles once came to Shea Stadium, too

A friend of mine from high school posted on her facebook status:

"is excited Obama is coming to Asheville today! I work near Grove Park Inn....what if I see him!!"

Hey, it's great that someone can be excited about seeing the President. But did you ever see anyone get so flustered about seeing either George Bush or Bill Clinton? Ok, just the Bushes? It's hero worship to a disturbing degree. If Obama gets elected out in 2012, would I be considered a racist for saying, "finally, a white president." Yes, and I should be. But is it just as equal to say that about someone who says, "finally, a black president?"

GM's big scam

I'm sure a lot of people have heard about how the administration was all excited about announcing GM had repaid their loan. As Mike Myer's Scottish Guy character on Saturday Night Live used to say, "It's crap!"

GM received a lump sum of money from taxpayers, and stored some in a separate account than that of its general operating expenses. With the separate money, the re-payed the original loan. I'm assuming that the loan repayment also included some funds from profit.

It's disgusting and an affront to every citizen in this country. GM even started running television ads stating they had re-payed the loan. What a lie! If the Obama administration was worried about transparency and accountability, this would be a great launching point for such an initiative.

GM should be required to repay whatever amount they used from the original bailout loan, with interest. I would even go as far to say GM would no longer be eligible for any type of government assistance.

Some people think this is a reason for more government oversight. No. If the government had never given Gimpy Motors bailout money in the first place, they would have done exactly what businesses are allowed to do of their own free will. Shape up, or ship out. Now, we're faced with a shady corporate entity that was only allowed to survive through government intervention.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Obama setting sights on Supreme Court

President Obama will have the chance to pick a new Supreme Court Justice later this summer as Justice Stevens departs the bench. While many people will say this or that person should be appointed, it is ultimately up to Obama to name a successor. He has already hinted at things that will help shape his decision.

The big thing Obama has already hinted at is pro-women's rights. While he said that is not necessarily "pro-choice" it might as well be. Part of the reasoning for that is "the notion that individuals are protected in their privacy and their bodily integrity, and women are not exempt from that." Well, that is a pretty broad statement. I can not see too many people disagreeing with that. It's a middle path statement. Unfortunately, it is so broad, it almost sounds Libertarian. If "bodily privacy" should be given, then lots of other things should be legal as well. If I want to ingest three pounds of crack everyday, who should stop me? It is my body after all. And let's legalize prostitution. It's a female's body and she should be able to do with it as she pleases.

I'm not endorsing any of those views at all. And I know the Supreme Court nominee is going to go through the gauntlet as far as Senate confirmation is concerned. But if the President is going to outline views that he wants associated with his nominee, then he just needs to come out and say it. Don't beat around the bush. If he wants a pro-choice nominee, then he should say that, and not use such general terms that it can mean anything. If he is truly concerned about private rights, then he should also keep in mind that we should not take away rights from those that have no choice.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Meet John McCain, the Mav-er, Marketer

John McCain recently told Newsweek's David Margolick that he did not consider himself a maverick, just a representative of the people of Arizona. Well, that's fine if McCain wants to rebrand himself a partisan. He just needs to decide what year he wants to be what.

During the presidential campaign in 2008, it was McCain the Maverick. He and Sarah Palin reveled in the label. It was even part of a Saturday Night Live skit in which McCain participated in, to see how "mavericky" he could be. Just search youtube for McCain and maverick and you will have a nice list of puns and mavericky McCain videos. That was during the presidential campaign. The GOP was up against the wall, and McCain was doing everything in his power to not align himself with Republicans, because that would be aligning himself with Dubya, who was not very popular at the time. In a nutshell, he took on the maverick label hoping it would appeal to the middle ground. The conservatives were probably going to vote for him anyway, but he needed middle-of-the-road support.

Now, it's 2010, and he's in a battle. And this is a primary battle with conservative radio host J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth has a lot of support from true conservatives. Basically, those wanting true budgetary reform in Washington, stronger immigration policy, and those for smaller federal government. Since McCain has been in Washington before the birth of Christ, a lot of people see him as part of the problem. And those are the middle of the road conservatives. Now that he is in a primary battle, he wants to go conservative. So he tells Newsweek that he is a "partisan" because he is against increased federal spending, and other conservative issues. Who knows if voters in Arizona will see through the charade.

Conservatives have had a love/hate relationship with McCain over the years. He has bucked the party on a number of issues and has worked with Democrats on key legislation. So, in a voting year marked with calls for smaller government and less federal spending, McCain is giving us a great example of what really might be wrong with government. I think government works fine as long as people are there to lead, make common sense laws, and only expect to be there for a few years. Just like other long time politicians, McCain is showing that he doesn't want to be fired or laid off and will tell his employers what they want to hear so they do not pink slip him. Maybe he learned something from Joe Lieberman: If you can't beat 'em, just run as an Independent.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

White House attempts move to the middle

The Obama administration ordered a $50 billion dollar rescue fund be removed from the financial regulatory bill currently making it's way through congress. The House passed a version of the bill that included a $50 billion dollar fund to rescue banks that were "too big to fail." The Senate banking committee had the same wording in a bill that came out after the house version.

It is nice to see the White House make a move to the middle on some legislation.

The rescue fund was ultimately going to be funded by the banks in some sort of tax scheme I'm sure. The American people are tired of bailing out corporations that can not take care of themselves. If a bank is too big to fail, then it's board of directors should make sure it does not.

I am all for aiding countries in dire need of assistance like Haiti, but it is time to let corporations stand on their own. If they want claim success on their own, then they should also claim their own failure.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Tea Party's leadership problem

Since the passage of the health care bill, leaders in the Tea Party movement have been trying to rid themselves of the R word problem - Racism.

Some black Congressional members made accusations that they were taunted with racial epithets the Sunday the bill passed. There has not been any concrete, video or otherwise, evidence that such taunting occured.

But, now there is this problem. Dale Robertson has become a defacto leader in the Tea Party. Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

Robertson was photographed at a 2009 Tea Party rally holding a sign with a racial epithet on it, mispelled no less. I really do not believe that there is a significant undercurrent of racism within the Tea Party. But for the movement to keep going forward, other leaders would do well to rid themselves of this scum before the mainstream media latches on and makes him the face of the movement. As many people can tell you, it only takes one person to destroy a movement.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lindsey Graham, not even people in SC like you

Lindsey Graham is at it again. The Republican (supposedly) Senator from South Carolina is behind efforts supporting a national tax in the range of 0.15 cents per gallon. The gas tax is in response to the energy bill currently floating downstream in Congress.

From what I gather from this LA Times article, this is the why: Gas companies (and Lindsey Graham, too, I guess) are afraid the Democrat's energy plan, the cap-and-trade boondoggle, or cap-and-tax, is going to pass. So, instead of fighting horrible legislation, they are proposing a national gas tax in it's place. Here's the quote:
"In this case, though, several oil companies are floating the tax plan because it figures to cost them far less than other climate proposals, including a climate bill the House passed last year."
They (gas companies and Graham) believe that by introducing the tax, drivers will drive less, thus lowering emissions. Hooray, global warming solved!

There are just way to many problems with this legislation for me to go into too much depth, but I'll try to highlight a few items.

This is going to hurt everyone but oil companies and senators with federal gas cards. Everyone is driving less now, or even working at home, because they know it's cheaper to car pool or to simply drive fewer miles. My Nissan Sentra generally takes about 13 gallons a week. At 2.80 per gallon, that is 36.40. Now, by adding only 0.15 to each gallon, that puts my gas costs at 38.35. Not a big jump by any means, only about $2.00 a week. But when you look at the bigger picture, and people do start driving less, the tax is simply going back into the general budget of oil and gas companies, and not doing what it is supposed to do,
"fund a variety of programs that would reduce industrial emissions, including helping manufacturers reduce energy use or boost wind and solar power installations by electric utilities."
Let's assume that everyone continues driving the same. A tax this small really wouldn't hurt families that much. Where you would see some damage is small businesses, especially those with a fleet of vehicles. Imagine you are a small business owner, and you have five company cars that use about 40 gallons a week. This tax now costs you an extra $30 a week. And if you keep a tight budget, that is an extra $1,560 a year. Now we are in business. Your customers start to pay a few cents more for their services, and that big company cookout with steaks just became hamburgers from Wendy's. Any tax that significantly increases the burden on business, big or small, will ultimately be paid for by consumers.

Now let's pretend people start driving less. Since people are driving less, less gasoline is being purchased, and less tax money is being raised. This would, in an ironic twist, hurt the gas companies because people are not buying their products. It also hurts gas station owners since people would not stop in to get gas and their sodas and chips every day. Don't forget, stations are simply distribution points. This would hurt manufacturers and distributors of said products like Coke, Pepsi, Lance, and Frito-Lay.

Any product tax or surcharge has never gone away. I've seen previous employers introduce surcharges on other products to make up for overall revenues lost. It's a lose-lose situation. Customers see an immediate $1.50 hike on their bill, and disconnect service. Those that continue to keep the service, end up paying more because there are fewer people trying to support the company. So, a few months after the surcharge introduction, base rates go up $1.50. Then more people stop being customers. And the cycle continues.

It is unfortunate that Senator Graham and gas and oil executives have already caved in and are not doing anything to stop the Ramdown Cramdown. Public sentiment is a huge wave, and they are paddling away from it instead of riding it into shore.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Whoa there, Mr. Reid!

Nevada Senator Harry Reid went off the beaten path over the weekend when his lips, and mind to I imagine, promised to get comprehensive immigration reform done this work period. It was a very receptive audience. Estimates put the crowd at about 6,000, and most of them immigrants.

Unfortunately for Mr. Reid, that message did not jive with White House talking points. Right now, the White House is trying to get moving on financial reform. Not necessarily those greedy pay-day lending pirates, but those that make a whole lot of money, usually in board-approved bonuses.

While The Reid Proclamation may have stirred up immigrants for Democrats, it probably helps Republican opposition as well. During the 2008 presidential campaign, a Pew research poll indicated that immigration reform was not even in the top five issues that voters were thinking about when it came time to vote. The poll, with the results split into McCain voters, Obama voters, and swing voters, indicated that this was not even near the top of their priorities. The highest ranking was among solid McCain voters at 62%, but still seventh in their list of overall priorities. Even among Hispanic voters, immigration reform was seventh in their list of priorities for the new administration.

Methinks Mr. Reid, this is still not a major priority for Americans, considering that national unemployment is still at 9.7%. But you are more than welcome to continue with the Ramdown Cramdown. Ultimately, the voters will decide your fate.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What do you do when the model breaks?

I heard last week the state of Massachusetts's (MA from now on...) health care plan was in need of desperate help. Why should we care? Because this is the model that many universal health care proponents are using.

I'll do my best to summarize what has happened:
  • According to an analysis by the Rand Corporation, “in the absence of policy change, health care spending in Massachusetts is projected to nearly double to $123 billion in 2020, increasing 8 percent faster than the state’s gross domestic product (GDP).”
  • Physicians for a National Health Plan, a doctor’s group that supports a fully socialized, single-payer health-care system, warned in a February 2009 report that the new system had failed to reduce medical spending, and has subsequently drawn funding away from crucial health resources such as emergency room care.

That's right everyone. A group that is in favor of a single-payer system is really unhappy with the results when it comes to reducing medical spending.

Just last week, MA Gov. Patrick denied rate increases that insurers had asked for. As a result, several events of key interest have happened. First, after blocking the rate increases, several insurers just stopped offering insurance to new subscribers. One reason is that they are not sure what the rates would be. In response to that, the state ordered the companies to immediately start selling insurance and posting their base rates on line. Now, the base rates were something that the state and insurance companies settled on in 2009. If you wanted basic insurance, there would be a minimum that you would be able to get, and that's what the base rate refers to. After having their rate increase proposals denied, the insurance companies sued the state.

To the state's credit, much of the proposal increases were in the 8-32% range, which is probably excessive. Each state has an insurance commissioner that is basically in charge of making sure insurance rates and increases are reasonable. Keep this in mind, also. Any increase has to be approved by the state. So, now the question becomes, why are the increases so much?

One reason is that short-term costs are increasing much more than anyone thought they would. Since insurance companies are required to provide service despite pre-existing conditions, customers can get coverage before they need procedures then drop it a few months later when they no longer need it. Or better yet, they may swap insurance companies. Customers that do this may only pay a few hundred dollars for coverage during the few months, but the cost to insurance companies is running in the tens of thousands. Unfortunately, those additional, unexpected costs are now being passed to where they normally go: customers. Data from insurance company Harvard Pilgrim showed that about 40% of the private buyers in their health insurance pool

"kept their insurance fewer than five months and they incurred, on average, $2,400 a month in medical expenses — about six times higher than the monthly spending of
other consumers

The short-termers are also affecting how much small business are paying in insurance costs as well. Those who purchase insurance in the open market are placed in the same pool as small businesses. When crafted, the legislation intended to keep costs low for business by helping private buyers absorb some of their costs and vice versa. What has happened though is a large percentage of those buying on the open market tend to be sicker, account for more doctors visits and prescription drug costs. As a result, small business are bearing a much larger burden than legislators expected.

One reason people are gaming the industry is that it costs less to pay the $93 yearly fine for not having coverage than it does to pay for it. Those opposed to the recently passed national health care act say the same will happen then.

It's clear that many things will need to change in order for the model to operate the way it is designed.

Or they can just scrap it and start over.

Until the "either or" happens, keep an eye on Massachusetts.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Obama says "Drill!"

Yesterday, the White House said they were going to begin allowing off-shore oil drilling off the eastern coast, specifically around Virginia.

This is an idea that conservatives should be able to rally behind. Although, I'm sure there will be some that oppose it just because President Obama is for it. It will probably not be a big enough increase in domestic oil production to dramatically decrease our foreign oil dependence. It will, though, create jobs. And that is really what we need now. It might even bring gas prices down slightly.

What is even more truly amazing about this announcement from the White House is that it goes directly against traditional liberal thinking. Most lefties and environmentalists are highly against off-shore drilling because they are afraid that it might disrupt the ecosystems.

I applaud Obama for making this announcement, even if it means going against his own supporters.

Obama says

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Like sharks, they drag their pray underwater

I guess John Edwards' baby's mama went to the Mark Sanford School of Publicity. She's nothing but a publicity hound now that doesn't know when to shut her mouth.
As bad as Sanford was about saying that he was in love with his Argentinan soul mate and everyone in the state of SC was clamoring for him to shut his trap, we should be asking Ms. Hunter to do the same.
Yesterday, she was in the news about how she was still in love with him, like she's in the 10th grade and just got dumped by the senior quarterback. Now, we learn today that she's gonna have some sort of photo spread in the the next GQ. Good for her. At least she can have a career as trashy tabloid fodder.
And GQ can take the Gentlemen out of their title. That is not what gentlemen do.
I would issue some type of warning to John Edwards, but he's only getting what he asked for.
I don't ask for politicians to be perfect. That would be asking for more than what they can live up to. I only ask for them to be decent.

Pocket-size Democrats

If the health care overhaul is supposed to be so great and grand for all Americans, why are special interests on both sides fighting so hard?
Read this today:

Union groups and other supporters announced a $1.3 million advertising campaign urging 17 House Democrats to vote for the measure, and officials at the Service Employees International Union threatened to withdraw support from Democrats who vote against the bill.


It says a lot that unions are so determined to get this shoved through by spending money targeting one specific group. But it says just as much about Democrats who seem to be taking orders from union bosses, and not the citizens they are elected to represent.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Malpractice lawsuits force company out of business

One of the major sticking points on the Health Care take over is tort reform, or basically, just reforming the amount of money that can be awarded in lawsuits due to malpractice or other negligence.

Here is a great example of what malpractice lawsuits have done to one insurance company...

And just a few examples of what has happened in some suits:

* St. Paul said it paid out catastrophic sums -- more than $1 million -- twice as often in 2000 as in 1999: 54 cases versus 27.

* In 2000, a Philadelphia jury socked four physicians and two hospital defendants for $100 million for bad outcomes suffered by a baby born at 26 weeks of gestation.

* A Texas jury returned an $11 million malpractice verdict and a West Virginia jury tried to award $2 million to a plaintiff despite a state cap of $1 million.

Since the above example is from 2002, here is a more recent example from Emery University.

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