Friday, September 30, 2011
Dr. J. had a Marxist redistributionist social studies teacher in 10th grade, so he heard all of this claptrap before, in the 1980s, about how the rich are evil, don't pay their fair share, take from the poor, and that the progressive tax code and redistribution of wealth are equitable, because all the money will inevitably end up in the hands of the fat cats anyway.
Of course all of this is horsepucky and Dr. J. took great umbrage with it, to the point of arguing every flawed point as she made it. Going to a school where academic freedom and individual expression is welcome had it's advantages. On multiple occasions, when Dr. J. had her backed into a corner, she would tell him he was racist, or greedy or that her Marxist view points were morally correct. A couple of fellow traveler classmates would nod with her, and the rest would just sit there with glazed eyes, hoping our argument wouldn't be an essay question on the next exam.
Indeed, Dr. J. was raised to believe, and still believes that, by and large, hard work results in both opportunity and success. He was also raised to believe that life's not fair but it's better to try than sit on your sofa watching Jerry Springer and sucking off the teat of government.
END DIGRESSION (Herman Melville and Neil Stephenson would be proud of Dr J.)
One of the groups susceptible to class warfare redistributionist propaganda are college students. The reason they are susceptible is because they are often times being taught and tested on propaganda as fact. Also, because their teacher is in a position of authority. But, beyond this, Marxist talking points are effective on students because, as a population, money is not the currency that they value most. Many students, including Dr. J. when he was in college worked very hard in class (from each according to his ability), and his parents covered his tuition, room, board, fraternity dues, and any necessary expenses (to each according to his need). Dr. J. covered his own pizza and beer expenses with money earned from summer jobs and tutoring organic chemistry. Students, consequently, do not value money in the same way that an adult who works for a living, and pays for their own roof over their head, food on their table, utilities, luxuries and such. So it's easy for the student to hear about rich fat cats not paying their fair share. It doesn't apply to them as they're wards of mom and dad living in a communal utopia for four years.
What do students value, then? Their precious grades! The true currency of the college campus is the grade. Students know which professors are easier graders and will often balance required courses (i.e. Organic Chemistry for pre-med) with a well placed gut course (Medieval Art). Work load of a course is also considered to determine if the class represents an appropriate return on investment. Rational economic decision making by students has probably been a significant driver of grade inflation as well.
So, how do you make students (aka current and future voters) understand the issues at hand and get them to 'vote their wallet' so to speak? Redefine this issues using a currency that they value. Students at George Mason, a bastion of conservative economics, did this and asked their fellow travelers how they felt about paying a fair share of their grades to their dumber peers. Effects, as you can imagine, are predictable.
Enjoy the theater:
The top 1 percent of iOS game developers earn over a third of all iOS game revenue. While the bottom 80 percent of these developers are splitting a paltry 3 percent of all Apple App Store game revenue. Do you see the parallel yet? Let me reword it in terms that Dr. Warren can understand: the wealthiest 20% of iOS game developers on Apple's App Store are raking in 97% of all the game revenue in that market and the top 1% is hogging over 33% of the revenue while the poor and middle class developers that try to scrape by only earning 3% of the revenue.
Niemoller's quote came to 'Puter's feeble mind as he mulled over the Democrats' latest "fair share" soak-the-rich class warfare strategy. The Democrats are betting that Americans are as passive as the early Nazi-era German populace, because the Democrats' constituency won't be effected by their "Tax and redistribute" policy. Yet.
'Puter sees the omens. Elizabeth Warren's quotation, making the rounds in the blogosphere. The Washington liberal commentariat's fawning adulation, epitomized by White House stooge E.J. Dionne. The Democrats are going all in on a redistributionist strategy, packaged in the feel good, PC horse-shit wrapping paper of "justice" and "fairness."
So here's 'Puter's reconfiguration of Niemoller's quote, which he believes appropriately identifies the looming hazard should we fail to kill this idea now.
First the Democrats came for the Rich, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not Rich.The millions of Americans who are standing idly by, passively permitting the Democrats to redistribute others' wealth in the name of "fairness," will awake one morning soon to find that the Democrats have come for their wealth, because there is no wealth left for them to steal from others.
Then the Democrats came for the Wall Street Fat Cats, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Wall Street Fat Cat.
Then the Democrats came for the my neighbor the Small Businessman, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Small Businessman.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.
And that, my friends, is what the Democrats are really all about, despite their fervid claims otherwise.
Hey, in case your local paper failed to carry this item, the Цесаревич joined Cub Scouts. The Czar is most pleased with this. Even though Cub Scouting is a different activity than when the Czar was involved (Axemanship is not a requirement anymore? Two-On-One Combat neither? What is all this about MPLS Wide Area Circuit Design?), the manual is jam-packed with great stuff that is not only useful to a kid, but fun, too.
Many of you probably have Cub Scouts at home. The Czar was a little annoyed to see, once again, that the entire section on Gormogonica was omitted from the publication. Did you know there are seventeen activities that your scout can do to fulfill his
Here they are, awaiting approval and signature from Akela.
- Construct the word GORMOGON on a large scale for others to see. Nothing too flashy or expensive, and please do not spray paint anything. Think the Hollywood signsomething big like that would qualify. Or it could be parking cars so that they spell out our name to people in an airplane. Use your own imagination: it isnt someone elses job to do all your thinking for you.
- Follow your mother around the house for a day, and ask her what shes doing every five minutes or so. Even if you already know what shes doing. Especially if she is still doing the exact same thing she was doing a few minutes ago.
- Without being asked to by Dad, collect all the trash in and around the house, and maybe from the street, too. Throw it all over the fence into the yard of the asshat that told your parents your lawn was getting too weedy last summer. See how he likes that.
- When your parents are outside doing something, trash the house. Really mess it up. When they come in and ask what the hell happened, tell them Jack Burton did it, but be very certain to remind them the importance of leaving Jack Burton alone.
- Travel to an earlier time, and convince someone that you know the future. Surprise them by guessing right.
- When someone walks away from his or her computer, sneak up and select a paragraph. Copy it to the clipboard, and then paste it a little higher up in their document. Because the text is familiar to them, they probably wont recognize it repeats.
- Teach a Masai tribal elder how to dislocate a jaw by pressing your thumbs against the rami of the mandible. Do not demonstrate this on yourself.
- Make Puter a Manhattan: using a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice, pour in a half-shot of sweet vermouth, slightly less than a half-shot of dry vermouth, six dashes of bitters, and two shots of Black Velvet whiskey. Shake the cocktail shaker vigorously, and pour the contents into an empty glass (no ice), and twist in a thin lemon slice. Float the lemon on top and serve. Do not use maraschinos or you will forfeit your points earned in this module.
- Help your grandparents out. Call your Uncle Jerry at home, and tell him what you really want for Christmas is for him to get off his fat, lazy ass and get a job. A real one, that doesnt involve him borrowing money from everybody. Suggest he cut back on the internet porn, too: the people at the library have about had it with him.
- Using a lawn mower blade, a leaf spring from an old truck (you can get this at any junkyard, or simply steal one off an idling delivery truck), fifty feet of polypropylene rope, a gazing ball from a landscaping store, and an old swing set, smash apart your police chiefs mailbox. When they see all that, theyll think Ron Paul did it.
- When someone walks away from his or her computer, sneak up and select a paragraph. Copy it to the clipboard, and then paste it a little higher up in their document. Because the text is familiar to them, they probably wont recognize it repeats.
- Get as many of your friends together as you can (they do not need to be Cub Scouts), and wild some hippie. Make sure he is a real hippie by offering him some dope and someone elses social security. Jump on him repeatedly, using your elbows and shoes. Take turns with your friends, or simply overpower him all at once.
- Make the Czar a vodka kamikaze. In a shaker (clean, with no Manhattan residue) half-filled with ice, put in 6 shots of Russian or Polish vodka, 4 shots of lime juice, and 2 shots of triple sec. Shake thoroughly and pour into a glass with ice. Just leave the shaker there, buddy. Leave the shaker.
- Dont celebrate Americas independence only on July 4th! A public display of patriotism and remembrance is always effective. Gather as many Class A and B pyrotechnics as you can find at Wal-Mart, and set them off on the hood of the 1997 Mustang owned by the jackwagon down the street, who parks it in his driveway around 7:15 Sunday morning, cranks the stereo in it, and then whiffs on a couple of layups on his garage basketball net, then walks around his front yard smoking and arguing with some whacked girl on his cell phone, before going back into his house for a couple hours, all the while his car is thumping, thumping, thumping the same stupid bass line. Remind him how Sam Adams would have declared his independence from dumbshits like that.
- Make yourself useful and whip up some scrambled eggs for us both.
- Build a tesseract for GorT and Mandarin to play in. Ask Dad to help. Make a titanium frame for it that is 60 feet wide, by 60 feet tall, by 60 feet deep, by 216,000 feet around. Cover it with one-way glass. They will handle the rest.
- By sheer focus of willpower, transform yourself into a huge pterodactyl. Swoop around your community, frightening people badly. Use a really loud, powerful shrieking noise as you dive down at the puny, terrified little snivelers. Revel in their fear. When the army comes with big munitions, land behind some garbage dumpsters and revert back to human form. If they see you and accuse you of turning into a pterodactyl, tell them that you are merely a pterodactyl dreaming he is a child.
I’m disheartened that several of my friends have posted the quote from Elizabeth Warren and commented with “my hero” and “best quote ever”. I’m stunned at the way “wealthy” people have been demonized. I’m not wealthy, I grew up in a work class family and I’ve worked my way up from an entry level engineer to a Program Manager. My parents helped me and I benefited from the low tuition of a State university and all the other benefits afforded me as a citizen of this great Nation. I believe it is everyone patriotic duty to provide revenue to the government to support programs that are the Constitutional responsibilities of the government. I pay my taxes and on top of that even with my modest income I give a substantial amount to charities and belong to organizations that provide services to the less fortunate. I’m sick of being called greedy because I think I pay an adequate amount of taxes and would like to reduce federal spending. I’m sick of being called racist because I would like it to be more difficult to enter the country illegally. I’m sick of being called stupid because I think the economy is driven by private enterprise not federal spending. I’m sick of being called ignorant because I think the Constitution limits the power of the Federal Government. And I’m sick of being called a tight wad because I think programs that cause dependency on the Government are detrimental to the well being of society.
No one that I know that runs a business or has built a business thinks they did it without the help of the common good provided by taxes. The business owners I know are Rotarians, Lions, supporters of charities, active in community projects and trying to do right by their employees. Painting this broad brush picture of the “rich” as tight wad, hateful, self serving, greedy bastards is so unproductive to the conversation about spending and revenue.
Damn it, I’m mad!
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wealthy people, by definition, have done better within this system than other people have. They ought to be willing to join Buffett and Edwards in arguing that for this reason alone, it is common sense, not class jealousy, to ask the most fortunate to pay taxes at higher tax rates than other people do.Oh. People who do better should be legally obligated at the whim of others to have the fruits of their labors redistributed.
Let's see. Mr. Dionne, 'Puter is guessing, is not Warren Buffet rich, but he's probably fairly well off, even in high-cost Washington, D.C. Mr. Dionne has worked hard through the years to gain his position among the pantheon of liberal opinionators. Mr. Dionne used the same schools and roads and infrastructure that Mr. Buffet did in making his fortune.
How's this for a deal, Mr. Dionne? Because you have done "better within this system than other people have," 'Puter has determined that Mr. Dionne must now distribute to 'Puter 33% of his annual column inches to 'Puter to be used in a manner 'Puter in his sole discretion shall determine. 'Puter may choose to use those column inches by inserting critiques in the middle of Mr. Dionne's columns. 'Puter may sell those column inches to GoDaddy.com to be used for racy ads. 'Puter may feed the column inches to the moat monster. Who knows what 'Puter may do? He likes hisself some hijinx, he does. After all, Mr. Dionne, redistributing the fruits of your labor at an increased rate against your will is only "common sense," right?
'Puter told you so. He told you this donkey dung argument was going to be the left's new class warfare meme. 'Puter told you so in this post regarding Elizabeth Warren's uneducated rant regarding wealth redistribution. Get ready for more of the same, because this is Obama's 2012 reelection campaign in a nutshell: class envy.
'Puter's going to post much of the correspondence without immediate comment. 'Puter intends to reply with further thoughts, and hopefully elucidation, later today or tomorrow. For now, please consider the following missives, pasted without editing content.
From a female correspondent, whom we will call Bob, currently in the Gormogons' witness protection program (ours is so much better than the federal government's):
OK, 'Puter - apologies for not being able to take the time for a better crafted and tempered reaction to your post on special ed...but I have to get to work, and hope you'll receive this in the spirit intended - here goes.'Puter wrote back to Bob and received the following thoughtful response.
Heck yeah, thoughtless mainstreaming policies are a bad idea. I agree that the extent of the problem should be quantified and better recognized (but since data gathering, the scientific method, and competent decision making aren't exactly hallmarks of public education management, why would it be?).
I don't think it's accurate to lay this at the feet of high maintenance parents (yes - they exist--but they're not exclusive to special ed--you see them for g&t kids, athletes, cheerleaders, etc). You don't get a lot of anecdotes about the special ed parents who invisibly suffer in silence (not trying to be melodramatic here, but they are invisible, silent, and do suffer) because in many cases you don't know who they are if their kids aren't the ones with visible manifestations of extreme physical, cognitive or behavioral disabilities. The problem isn't the kids or the parents...it's the incompetence of school bureaucrats who don't have the common sense to discern when mainstreaming is or isn't appropriate (I can tell you that many special ed parents aren't sold on--and are often opposed to--forced mainstreaming when it isn't appropriate for their child) or don't provide for the supports needed to make it work, and the (don't get me started) fed dept. of Ed., who continues to busily and mindlessly promote "inclusion" policies in its typically top-down, ill-thought-through manner. Sorry for the rant. I'm just a mom of a child in special ed just trying to muddle through.
There's a lot in the special ed system that should be fixed, but special ed parents (who know the system best) are in the least viable position to be able to do it.
With continued appreciation for your work (& the work of the rest of the Gormogons),
'Puter - Much agreement here.Not to be outdone, our long-missing JAB wandered out of the swamp behind her double wide and penned the following in boar's blood:
- special ed waste: special ed seems to be a magnet for egregious administrative bloat (school, district, state education agency, US ED Office for Civil Rights, US Office of Special Education Programs, USDOJ) with little indication that the mission of their positions is being fulfilled; and can anyone tell how special ed students (as opposed to the aforesaid administrators and "smartboard" vendors) benefited from the $11B in ARRA/IDEA stimulus $ designated for special ed?
- lawyers: I think this is akin to the mess we have with employment law (but worse). You've got an often incomprehensible (even to lawyers) thicket of statutes, regulations and case law intended to benefit a protected class, administered by non-lawyers using a combination of misinterpretation and [antonym of common sense]. Litigating to enforce those protected rights is a Pyrrhic victory even in a best-case scenario, but those lawsuits skew policies and practices in ways that ultimately hurt those who were intended to be protected. At least adults have the choice of seeking employment where HR isn't run by idiots. Kids are stuck. (Disclosure: I'm a lawyer, but not an education or special ed lawyer, and not a litigator)
I see that My Favorite Professor (Mondo) has also chimed in. The issue of limited resources is going to be doubly hard to address (much less resolve) given (1) the fact that resources are, er, limited (only to get worse), and (2) the utter financial innumeracy of school system managers, who as far I can tell really do believe that money grows on trees (in forests owned by the Koch brothers. Sorry - writing from Madison, Wisconsin here).
Thanks for reading, and especially for writing.
These are thoughtful responses, and a good opening to dialogue on a difficult topic: the appropriate methods and funding of special education, with appropriate consideration to its impact on general education. It's always good to consider the view from the other side of the fence.
Dear Mr. Puter:
Betcha that the heading alone stirred up some rather heated replies, not that there's anything wrong with that....
I can certainly sympathize with Mrs. Puter's predicament with the emotionally-disturbed special ed student. High school chemistry classes do contain potentially dangerous items---some things can go BOOM-BOOM, others can be used as weapons should the need arise.
Bonus anecdote for your reading pleasure: in Bubba-the-Larger's advanced chemistry class last year, a couple of fair damsels had themselves a right proper cat-fight. One grabbed a beaker on applied it to the other's head. Fortunately for the damsel on the receiving end, nothing caustic was in the beaker at the time. So far as I know, neither damsel was a mainstreamed special ed student, but that didn't prevent the hair-pullin, nor the beaker-whackin', nor the shirt-rippin'. [Actual quote: "Mom, you could see their bra's."]
In fact, the only mainstreamed special ed student in that particular class was my very own Bubba-the-Larger.
You see, Bubba-the-Larger, is severely dyslexic, and I'm not just talking reverses b's and d's. When he started high school, he was reading, without accomodation, at around a 4th grade level. But at the same time, his vocabulary when tested orally, scored at the level of a college freshman. He cannot decode words. It is weird and it is hard to understand.
But with appropriate accomodations (test questions are read aloud to him and he is allowed to dictate responses) and assistive technology (MacBook with GhostReader & SmartPen which WE bought with our own money), he can more than hold his own in a regular classroom. What, you may ask, do I mean by "hold his own"?
He pulled a B in AP World History, and A's in that advanced chemistry class, in Latin, and in Math, where he also won the regular [read "NOT Special ed"] Math award for his entire grade. So far this year, he is aceing math and Intro to Engineering, and doing A/B work in Latin, AP Biology and AP US History. We could not be more proud.
So pardon me if I take issue with your accusation: “Heck, special ed parents have been screwing your kids for years.
Not only that, but I don't feel that I am "... driven to extort from the school district as many services as they can for their child."
However, I am extremely "driven" to make sure that the school provides textbooks in either CD-Rom/DVD or searchable PDF format. No dead-tree texts for Bubba-the-Larger--that's so 20th century! And I have been "driven" for many years to make sure he was given the chance to prove that he could work at grade level. Has this taken extra effort on the part of the school system and his teachers? Doubtlessly.
But I do concede your point that, "There is a valid purpose for segregating the disruptive or unprepared special ed students...." At Bubba-the Larger's Anonymous Public High School, special ed students spend one period in the charmingly-named "Study Skills." For Bubba-the-Larger, it is the worst class of the day because he has to put up with all the disruptive junk that goes on. But he has broken up/prevented more than a few fights, so we kinda figure he's paid the school system back for the extra effort he has required by saving them some lawsuit money!
Yours from the Doublewide, JAB
'Puter's retiring to his sleeping hole for some contemplation. More soon.
Oh Great And Mighty Czar,Sure, we can take this on! Thanks for calling our attention to it.
I hope this missive finally reaches you. My email client has continuously devolved into a quivering mass of electrons when tasked with even trying to resolve your domain, so I know not whether I have forced it to my will.
Through various modes of data collection (aka (not anti)social networks), I have stumbled across a screed, a missive, a manifesto if you will. This manifesto differs from most, however. Every fringe organization to which I have belonged (the Great Myrmidon Uprising, the Herculean Atlantean Bailing Out, the Icarusian Parasailers Revolt, the Pangaean Pandoran Box Shutting) has posted a manifesto diktating how the union local shall behave.
Here, however, our nemeses have stumbled upon a NEW tactic. Instead of directing their own forces, they instead attempt to mislead their enemies.
To whit, I posit the following evidence.
This is a list of 102 things that us regressive types should do, since we find taxation such an onerous burden.
I shan't declaim (much) about the confusion between various authoritative regimes, their differing legitimate powers (be they police or taxation) or the repetitive nature (no seriously, they repeat themselves) of The List (tm, somewhere, maybe, if they're lucky). However, I do find it ironic that a number of my acquaintances would yell "YES PLEASE, WHERE DO I SIGN UP!!!" if tasked with performing some of these "requests".
I would send this to GorT, but I fear that without his Quantum Computing upgrade, he will go into a recursive process freeze. The Mandarin crossed my mind, but I feared that he would merely go back to the Big Bang, and revert it to a Big Burp, with all the gaseous consequences thus entailed. Neither Dr. J. nor the Notorious OEV seem much interested in this particular area of sheep-herding, so I find myself beseeching the Grand Master himself, as humbly as I might.
I do plan on responding, in my own feeble fashion, and if you so desire I shall forward the appropriate link. However, I felt that the Great Gregariousness of the Gormogons (or something like that) would be much better suited to repudiating this collection of filth.
Your humble follower,
Readers, do not even bother clicking on the link. As Merlin says, its a list of 102 things that Republicans will fornicate themselves over if taxes go away. For example, 5. Do not call 911 when you get hurt.
The entire premise of this is absurd to the point of stupidity. The opening sentence of the web page says it all:
So, you’re a Republican that hates taxes? Well, since you do not like taxes or government, please kindly do the following.And then begins the do not ever list.
False premise. This list conflates Republicans with anarchists. Most assuredly, there are many libertarians who would agree with a few of the points: many prefer against using public schools, visiting National Parks, and so on. But the woefully incorrect premise here is that Republicans want all government services eliminated. That is dangerously wide of the mark, and indicates the author (Stephen Foster, who clearly is not the good-time goofball drinker piano player the Czar met a couple centuries ago) probably has no real contact with conservatives. What a surprise.
Republicans do not hate taxes, Foster. What they object to is paying ridiculous sums of money for social programs that benefit very few, if any, people. Republicans likewise do not despise governmentReagan said it best that Republicans prefer to be a nation that has a government rather than the other way around.
Also, Mr. Foster, you might take the time to understand the levels of government. Your list conflates federal, state, county, and municipal taxes and fees as all one big entity. And indeed, that is a common misconception among most liberals. A Republican or Libertarian does not object to paying the city or county for the protection of the Fire Department; but he or she would object to paying the federal government to put out fires in some other state in which he or she does not reside (cough, FEMA, cough). The reader sees the difference, but the author cannot.
In fact, the list is so screwed up in its vomitous mix of taxes, fees, regulatory requirements, and so on that the author is unlikely to ever comprehend where the fallacy is in the premise. And one other mistake the author makes: some of these items were available via the free market and are no longer. For example, do not use your cell phone or home telephone. Once, you could. But the government took it over. Please explain why. The government could relinquish total control over cellular telecommunications and the only obvious difference we would see is prices dropping like a stone.
Best error in the list: do not call the police to stop intruders in your home. Done! We call police after the intruders have been dealt with, numbskull. Merlin and the Czar will laugh long into the night over that gaffe.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Good morning, Dread Czar,Social engineering through taxation certainly occurs at the federal level, but not really in deduction of dependents. Remember that while children are generally dependents, other people can be as well: it costs a lot to take in granny, what with her penchant for whiskey and her expensive legal bills after punching out the governor at the Christmas play, and a dependent is someone you are footing the bill for. Dependents are not immune from other forms of taxation (even the Czars lads understand the concept of sales tax when they blow their hard-earned money on that Lego Spinjitsu stuff), but if you are supporting them, a little break (deduction) on taxes is a welcome thing.
I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree on what the state should be doing (my "relatively unqualified success stories" list consists of the Navy and the public lending library system, which I realize both conflates different levels of government and takes me out of anarchocapitalist orthodoxy, but indulge me) and consider the ways and means to pay for what the state ought to do, and what the consequences attached to the ways and means are. Quoth the Czar:Yes, we need to cut spending on a massive level, and the Czar here is all in favor of a flat tax system that makes everybody pay the same percentage rate, and—just as importantly as the first two conditions—we need to wipe out the ridiculous loopholes upon loopholes that makes our tax code impossible for a human to really understand.The biggest problem with the loopholes is not that they are nearly impossible for a human to understand, although they are that. However, their complexity pales before the moral enormity of what those loopholes represent: they put the State into the behavioral engineering business, both wholesale and retail. Even the $10,000 exemption you propose does that: people get paid for breeding. Granted, I think having children is a manifestly good thing: we have two. Equally granted, population growth on balance is a net plus, regardless of the claims of the doomers (I'm looking at you, Gore -- and you, Kunstler). But my wife and I didn't have kids for the tax deduction, and the childless should not be required at gunpoint to provide us a subsidy.
Our government could survive indefinitely on such a simplified system, as well put a lot more money in your pocket.
Even absent loopholes of any kind, income taxation represents a prior claim by the state against the life and labor of the individual...but hell, forget about that for now. To my knowledge, the next state that establishes a loophole-less income tax system and manages to restrain itself from playing busybody via the mechanism of the tax code will be the first (I would like to introduce at this time People's Exhibit A, the Twentieth Century). Wherever will we find these incorruptible philosopher kings to man the machinery for us?
I would like to figure out how to pay for 12 carrier battlegroups and a few Marine amphibious units, and a public liberry system at least as good as the one we have now (which I suspect is due largely to the dedication of the typical line librarian -- never underestimate the power of true belief), and maybe another thing or two we could possibly talk about. But looking at the sorry history of the last century (the Age of Income Tax), I'm pretty near ready to roll the dice and chance the dire outcome you predict...if for no other reason than "mere" principle: fiat justitia, ruat caelum.
Rather, you can find many other examples of social engineering in taxation: mortgage deductions. The concept is that a home buyer creates three jobs, on average, and is a stable tax payer. The federal government rewards this behavior by giving home owners a break on their taxes (whereas local governments sock it to them on their property taxes without mercy, dammit).
And how nice for the home owners. But look at the renter, or the guest house occupant, who owns no home...and pays a substantially higher rate of taxes because of it. In this respect, they are penalized for not having enough cash to purchase a home. Again, the government is picking winners and losers.
Dr. J brought up car ownership a while ago. If you bought a car recently, you are helping to save the job of a Japanese robot. The government gives you...right...another tax break. Put a new roof on your house? Another tax break.
Ken is right to be suspicious of all these tax breaks, because they are all tied to something: the government picking winners and losers. The Czar disagrees that dependents are picking winners and losers: thats just common sense. But a huge majority of tax breaks (if not pretty much freaking all of them) are based on social engineering.
By the way, if you got a new roof on your home, good for you! Of course, next year, you will be subsidizing everyone else who gets a new roof. So these tax breaks are often quite farcical: you get a little more cash back this year, but wind up paying more in subsequent years to make up for the next batch of tax breaks.
Any sensible flat tax system must eliminate these tax breaks and tax steps to prevent adoption of future ones. Otherwise, you wind up in a corrupt honeycomb of loopholes (which is easily the most fun sentence we have written today).
Ford Motor Company pulled an ad where a consumer attests that he chose Ford because they did not take bailout money from the government. It has been suggested that the Obama administration was sufficiently concerned that Ford voluntarily withdrew the ad. It is not clear if that 'Chris' is an actor and that it is staged (meaning an actor acting in an advertisment, GASP!). He posts a video on youtube discussing is role in the ad.
Here's the deal. Dr. J. bought two new cars since the bailout.
One was a Ford truck. He has driven Ford trucks since graduating medical school and he loves them for all their trucky goodness. When a Comcast cable guy totaled his 2002 truck, and it was time to look for a replacement, Mrs. Dr. J. suggested we look at a GMC Yukon or Chevy Suburban as her sister has the latter. Dr. J. politely declined specifically because of the bailout. We looked at a Pilot but it had no leg room, so we were back in the Ford showroom and drove off the lot in a shiny big ole truck.
So take it from Dr. J., the Ford advertisement, real or a fictitious isn't far off the mark because that selfsame bailout insured that Dr. J. (a real person making a real rational economic decision) kept on driving past the GM lots when it was time to replace the 2002 truck.
As a result of the Census states gain and lose congressional seats. The 2010 adds seats for Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington. Ten states will be losing seats: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Based on a recent Gallup poll, each one of the 10 states losing seats is politically aligned closer to the Democrats while 5 of the 8 states gaining seats aligns closer with the Republicans.
The one state, in particular, that I've heard mentioned is Pennsylvania. However, simple searches will reveal news articles where the Democrats are the ones in the spotlight for potential gerrymandering activities - including Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Maryland. It will be interesting to hear the political wars that go on as these accusations come forth.
Will it matter next year? The redistricting could play a role and therefore the potential for gerrymandering is real. Six states that voted for Obama in 2008 lost seats and six states that voted for McCain gained seats. While not a major shift in the electoral college balance, it is a trend worth noting.
The wunderkind President Obama is facing many issues and while most liberals remain ardent supporters, there are those looking for alternate candidates (as we've discussed before) and now, his top political advisor, David Axlerod, is setting the stage for next fall:
We have the wind in our face because the American people have the wind in their faces. This is going to be a titanic struggleand according to Reuters:
Axelrod said the electoral landscape in 2012 could be shaped by so-called Super PACS (political action committees) -- fundraising organizations that can pour money into U.S. elections -- creating a "menacing kind of war game."Did you see what he did there? In the first, short quote, he subtly aligned the President with the American people as both groups have the wind in their face. The problem is there is really two winds to talk about: the wind of the economic situation, lack of job growth, government spending, etc is the wind facing the American public and the blowback for ObamaCare, lack of job growth, failed Stimulii, etc. is the wind facing the Obama Administration. Also note in the second section how Axlerod is trying to distance the Obama Administration from the SuperPACs. Reuters correctly points out that the decision opened avenues for groups - including labor unions who are almost always aligned with the democrats - to fund or increase funding of campaigns. One SuperPAC of note is the one that made all the press when comedian Stephen Colbert filed for his PAC. Do not be fooled by Colbert's on-screen personality, he is clearly a democrat and his PAC will likely fund only democrats.
Super PACS were made possible by a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that lifted many spending and contribution limits for political donors, including corporations and labor unions.
"I've been concerned about money and politics for a long time. ... The risk is to return to a sort of Gilded Age where special interests can buy a congressman or even a president. It's not healthy," he said.
Obama's team will have the resources to combat an anticipated barrage of Super PAC spending in 2012, Axelrod said. "They may not be equal resources to what is arrayed against us, but they will be adequate."
One should go back and re-read the Czar's post here where Axlerod was on the other side of this messaging.
The anecdote. Mrs. 'Puter teaches high school chemistry in a suburban Upstate school district. This year, in one of her honors chemistry classes, a special ed student is being mainstreamed. Put more succinctly, a special ed student is being unceremoniously dumped in Mrs. 'Puter's classroom without support. The student is of normal or better intelligence, but has major emotional and psychological issues.
This single student is using approximately one-quarter of Mrs. 'Puter's class time, and probably one-third of her after school time. This leaves the remaining 25 non special ed kids far less time with their instructor. Less time on task for the teacher equates to less learning for the students.
Sure, this is but one anecdote, but 'Puter is certain this represents the current state of affairs in most suburban public schools throughout our fair land. The pressure mainstreamed special ed kids put on general ed teachers, coupled with the impact on the general ed students, is a hidden cost of special ed, and one that is seldom acknowledged. Mostly likely the negative impacts of mainstreaming are minimized are hidden because it is politically incorrect to acknowledge the fact. After all, every child can be a doctor. Just ask the educrat-bureaucrat complex.
Parents of general ed kids don't see these hidden costs. How could they? How many of you have ever gone and sat in on one of your kid's chemistry class? You don't have time, nor should you have to do so. And frankly, your kids aren't going to tell you they're getting shorted because of special ed students because, well, they're dumb-assed teenagers and don't know better.
Parents wrongly assume that their kids have the teacher's focused attention for the duration of class. With mainstreaming of disruptive (though in this case well-meaning) kids, general ed kids are being robbed of their education. Unless you are an exceptionally well informed parent, you'll never know it. Mainstreaming has very real, yet nearly invisible, negative impacts on public education.
PBS says that the purpose of public education is:
1. To prepare children for citizenship
2. To cultivate a skilled workforce
3. To teach cultural literacy
4. To prepare students for college
5. To help students become critical thinkers
6. To help students compete in a global marketplace
Leaving aside the PC horse manure contained in point 3, mainstreaming disruptive special education students in no manner furthers any of the remaining points. If the special ed student is of normal or better intelligence, but disruptive, she prevents the other students from achieving public education's goal. If the student is well below normal intelligence (retarded, "special needs," "differently abled" or "intellectually challenged" for our few PC readers), the student's handlers (usually one or more teachers/aides) are disruptive to the classroom environment. This is simply a fact, regardless of the accommodations provided the special ed student.
General ed parents should fight against mainstreaming as hard as special ed parents fight for it. Simply put, special ed students mainstreamed are harming your child's education. Your kid has just as much right (if not more) as a special ed kid to a good education. You are not punishing a special ed kid, despite what you will inevitably hear. You are advocating for your child. Heck, special ed parents have been screwing your kids for years. Stand up. Fight back. There is a just balance to be reached here, but right now the field is tilted heavily in favor of special ed.
If you want to know what's really driving special education, you need to look at two factors: public sector unions and hyper-focused parents. Heck, special ed teachers even have their own special union, dedicated to drive tax expenditures ever higher, with an even whinier battle cry of "exceptional teachers for exceptional children." And parents of special needs children, understandably, are driven to extort from the school district as many services as they can for their child.
Not a few of these special ed parents hold unreasonable expectations for their children's progress, and this, along with union demands, drives unreasonable expenditures. If your child's IQ is 60, he shouldn't be in chemistry classes. Similarly, if your child has profound behavioral issues but has a 100 IQ, he should not be in chemistry class. There is a valid purpose for segregating the disruptive or unprepared special ed students from the general ed students. It's not a punishment for your child being "special" or "different," it's a recognition of the impact your child has on the general ed students, who are equally deserving of a quality education.
To head off the inevitable sob stories of profoundly retarded children benefited by special education, let 'Puter preemptively respond thus. If your child is profoundly retarded, they are not receiving education services, they are receiving social services. Indeed, there is an argument to be made that these services are in fact welfare.
Since the purpose of public education (as mentioned above) is to produce functional workers and good citizens, and the profoundly retarded will likely, despite all efforts, never be either, no education dollars should be spent on them.
'Puter is not calling for a return to the 1960s, where retarded and disruptive kids were either warehoused in suboptimal environments or not served at all. 'Puter supports services for the profoundly retarded and otherwise disruptive students, but not at the expense of general education, and sure as heck not funded with exceptionally narrow property taxes. Services for these individuals are social services, and ought be funded by a broad-based tax (sales, payroll, income) as all citizens, not simply property owners benefit from them.
You can call 'Puter a hater all you want, and some of you will. But ad hominem arguments are the stuff of losers. If you've got a rational, reasoned response, 'Puter welcomes you to email him.
Dear Mainstream Media,
For some time you have been touting the Tea Party as racist. Pleaseremembering how libel laws workprovide the name of a racist in the Tea Party. Just one.
Perhaps you can find one. Odds are, there must be. But can you do the necessary math to determine what percentage of Tea Party members are racist from that one?
Here is how you do the math (yes, you may use a computer or calculator to help you). Take the total number of racists you find in the Tea Party. Divide that by the total number of Tea Party advocates. If the resulting percentage is smaller than, say, 5 (?), you cant really call them racist.
Bear in mind a couple of things. First, you need to figure out the number of total Tea Party members. That can be difficult, we know: but the odds are good you will have an easier time coming up with that number than you will the other number. Do you remember what the other number is?
Yes, that is right: the number of actual racists in the Tea Party. Remember, you have to specifically identify them. You cant simply make this number up, because your whole narrative hinges on it. And you need to identify who they are specifically.
Still waiting. While you are at it, why not tell usby namethe billionaires who control the Tea Party. No tricky math here; no division or adding. This one is simple: provide us the names and, if you could, the proof that they control the Tea Party. Do not simply provide us names of billionaires who associate with the Tea Party: remember, your narrative depends on them controlling the Tea Party.
Acceptable forms of proof include but are not limited to specific instructions, orders carried out, detailed organization charts showing their reporting structure, or even membership cards that identify their rank within the organization.
We would very much request that until you provide either scenario, you defer from running hit pieces on the Tea Party until after the 2012 election.
Thanks in advance,
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй
The Czar will commence drinking until the media reply in detail.
Good afternoon, Your Czarship,Okay. We might argue that paying nothing isnt paying anything, but paying zero is paying the same as someone else who doesnt pay.
Actually, I agree that a janitor and a billionaire should pay the same tax rate.
Income tax, at any rate. Both should pay zero. I would repeal the Sixteenth Amendment.
But repealing the 16th Amendment requires replacing it. One doubts you would love to see a return of tariffs. Or, God help us, a VAT. A vague, ill-described consumption tax? These are more ripe for abuse because you never really know how much you wind up paying. With an income tax, you can predict and with very little math get pretty close to the mark. Take a look at property taxes: no one likes theirs, and you know why? Not because you pay too much; maybe you pay too little. Who knows? The problem with property tax is that you never really quite know where it all goes, and anyone can jigger it anytime. It is a terrible system.
And a massive corporate income tax? Well, we already have that, and it is a bit unproductive, employment-wise.
The problem is that federal tax dollars go to pay for an awful lot: bullets in rifles, food for federal corrections officers, Air Force One, a generally otherwise unrestricted interstate highway system, the very cool Cassini probe, and a heckuva lot more. Stuff costs money. And while folks like ourselves want to slash, slash, slash federal spending, the reality is that cutting away all the fat in the world still leaves a massive budget of necessary items. Thinking we can do away with all of it is Ron Paul/World Net Daily nonsense. Libertarianism is one thing, but anarchy quite another.
So with what do we replace income tax, then? Interestingly, and historically, countries have tried to eliminate income taxes, and usually wind up in dire straits pretty damn quick. Countries have rolled back or eliminated income taxes...instituted a VAT, consumption tax, or national sales tax...and then wound up in terrible financial shape. Within a few years, guess what comes back? Right: the income tax...on top of the previous tax. All in all, we have done very well despite, or maybe because of, that 16th Amendment compared to other countries who try everything but a well-managed income tax system and still either go down the drain or let us foot the bill by providing our military for their protection. Right, Europe?
The problem here, Ken, is that despite all the nonsense and diddling and messing around we have done, a properly done income tax system is one of the simplest and easiest forms of taxation to manage and maintain. The US has never really needed to add other blatant forms of taxation since then, even with the monumental spending orgy that started in the mid-to-late 1990s right up until today.
Yes, we need to cut spending on a massive level, and the Czar here is all in favor of a flat tax system that makes everybody pay the same percentage rate, andjust as importantly as the first two conditionswe need to wipe out the ridiculous loopholes upon loopholes that makes our tax code impossible for a human to really understand.
Our government could survive indefinitely on such a simplified system, as well put a lot more money in your pocket. Arguably (although pretty much for certain) it will allow the elite wealthy to pay more in taxes, but remain liquid longer and more safely. By setting a simple recipe for exemptions (say, $10,000 per taxpayer and dependents), it guarantees the poor still wont have to pay taxes. Its a win-win...unless of course you have loopholed yourself out of paying taxes. Yeah, those people who skirt the edge of taxation yet demand the most from government in exchage...well, they might get screwed a little bit. Hear that sound? Thats us weeping.
So dont be too hard on the 16th Amendment. Let us try, first, to fix what we have. Ease into it. But a harsh and cold repeal puts us down a path you wont want to go.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Now that the healthcare law has been passed and we had to pass the law to learn that a shortage of access was in it, the meme-weavers are spinning their webs yet again. Dr. J. brought up yesterday that Michael Moore is among the many pushing the Progressive talking points that waiting in
Breitbart brings us news of an article reportedly in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the house organ of the liberal AMA. The article may be in press, but it has not hit the interwebs as of this moment. So, Dr. J. can't disect the article like one of his Wampa specimens.
From what it sounds like, Dr. Sirovich, an outcomes researcher at the White Mountain Home VA, an affiliate of Dartmouth School of Medicine sent out a survey to gauge the perceptions of primary care physicians with regard to their patient's utilization of medical resources. This was a survey of 627 physicians.
About 42% of respondents, like Papa Bear, felt they were providing too much care to their patients. Issues that could have been addressed with an email or phone call were addressed in a face to face encounter.
About 6% of responders fell into the Mama Bear category, feeling their charges were receiving too little care.
About half (52%) of respondents fell into the little bear category and believed that their patients were getting just the right amount of care.
The areas being blamed for excessive utilization include fear of lawsuit, financial incentive in that one gets paid for an encounter but not a phone call, and if they provide their own diagnostic services (EKG, X-Ray, labs that are run in house for primary care providers and more advanced testing for specialists who were not part of the survey), they receive remuneration for these specialized services as well.
Now while it has been hard to prove that these carrots and sticks have an effect on physician behavior, it would be false to say that they definitively do not. Dr. J. works at an Ivory Tower Academic Medical Center and has spent some time at a government run health care facility affiliated with said Academic Medical Center. He has never spent time providing care in a private practice model, but he has friends that do. The truth is this, there are some rare bad apples out there that are not doing the right thing by their patients. They will order excessive tests for pure profit, and eventually they will be caught. There is a high profile case of this in Jackson, Tennessee right now. But, the overwhelming majority of physicians are trying to do the right thing by their patients. It is well established that physicians do not conform to rational economic models, and this is because doing the right thing trumps any financial incentive. If doctors over order tests, especially ones that they read, it is because of their desire to confirm a diagnosis expeditiously and/or because it is the technology that they are most familiar with to answer the question. Dr. J. won't deny that they are rewarded for ordering and interpreting that test, but, that is part of a proceduralist's job. Think of how silly it would be if you were referred to a surgeon and he said, "I am the best gall bladder surgeon in New Atlantis, that is why you came to see me. Your gall bladder needs to come out, but I can't do it because I saw you in the office. My partner who is pretty good will take it out." You would go crazy! It's the same with diagnostic testing.
What amazes Dr. J. is how academics and policy wonks are trying to come up with laws, regulations, rules, and firewalls in order to decrease utilization of scarce resources when there is a very simple solution to the problem.
Put the patient back on the hook for covering the cost of the treatment!
Now before you scream, kick, rend your hairshirt and say, "I haf no Dr. J." Let him explain that he is not some heartless Scrooge.
When Dr. J. was a yout' his old man had indemnity insurance as a benefit of his employment for an insurance company. We were responsible for the first $2000 and the company paid the rest. Dr. J. wouldn't be taken to the pediatrician for every fever, or GI bug. Mom didn't visit the internist for every ache or pain. A sprained ankle would not require an orthopedic consultation. We didn't demand it because we didn't want to pay for it unless it was absolutely necessary.
By way of contrast, Dr. J. and Mrs. Dr. J. both work for a living, and if the lil resident or lil med student even look at us funny, they're off to the pediatrician because of the downside to missing work for either of us. If we can decrease their time out of school by a day it's a big deal to us and to many other two income households.
If you had to cover the first $5,000/year out of your health savings account that you were permitted to roll over, you would be pretty judicious with regard to how it is spent. When you pay as much for a doctor's visit as you do a latte at Starbuck's, you are less choosy with regard to how healthcare dollars are spent.
Any good doctor welcomes a conversation with a patient when the patient asks, "Do I really need that test?" Truth be told, there isn't enough of that because the economic relationship between the patient and their healthcare dollars has been totally short circuited.
Dr. J.'s solution the problem described by the survey is not to regulate doctors out of business, make patients wait in line, or create a socialized medicine program. It is to get rid of Obamacare, get rid of the restrictions on the products insurance companies can provide so they can sell products people want and can afford, encourage them to buy these products with tax credits/deductions. Permit individuals to save TAX FREE in HSAs that can be rolled over so that they can potentially self-insure their golden years.
In other words, the patient run healthcare is a far more desirable solution to the costs of healthcare than government run healthcare.
'Puter would also like to thank his family for their unconditional love, support and care through his five year struggle with increasingly debilitating back pain. At the end, 'Puter was unable to get out of bed, even to relieve himself. Not a happy place to be in one's early 40s.
'Puter now considers himself relatively pain free. He no longer takes pain killers (prescription or otherwise) regularly. He has been able to resume most of his activities, though he no longer runs. He is able to exercise and do many chores without worry. In 'Puter's case, back surgery has thus far been the correct decision, and 'Puter is glad he has made it.
One interesting thing 'Puter discovered through his ordeal is that the only pain killer that truly worked (for him at least) was alcohol. Percoset and Vicodin numbed the brain, but not the pain. Only alcohol, which, on reflection, probably explains why there were a lot of inebriated manual laborers prior to back surgery's advent. Perhaps our house physician Dr. J can explain the science behind 'Puter's findings. 'Puter just knows that the booze worked best.
So, thanks to all who had a hand in 'Puter's recovery. He is now back (tee hee) and ready for the run up to the 2012 election debacle.
St. Gemma Galgani, patron saint of back pain, ora pro nobis.
Hardly the most upsetting thing he has ever said. In fact, the Czar has two comments about this.
First, get over it. This was no Freudian slip: he did not mean to say Jew, nor was he thinking it. In fact, the rapid uh that followed indicates he knew instantly that was way off. Besides, a Freudian slip implies you were thinking at all.
Second, he wasnt thinking. He did not even mean to say Jew so much as junior, because the two words junior and janitor look very similar on a teleprompter...particularly the transparent-type he uses. Had he not bothered to rehearse, he might have steamrolled right over it; however, he clearly recognized there was a strange word there and caught himself. Jew? The President probably didnt even know he said it until someone told him later.
So forget about this one word, and instead focus on the rest of the speech...in which Obama tells the CBC that its time to get fightin mad for him. While he, of course, takes it easy. Hes a lover, not a fighter. Fighting for him? Thats your job.
Is anyone alarmed, by the way, that he thinks a billionaire and a janitor should pay the same tax rate?
Monday, September 26, 2011
There are two tenants in 'Puter's 40,000 s.f. building. There are shared restrooms, which is relevant as will be made obvious in a moment. The other tenant is a student loan collection agency, staffed by lowest common denominator employees. When you spend your day dialing for dollars on non-dischargeable student loans, you don't have to be that bright. Nor do you have to be that clean, apparently.
Today 'Puter received an email from his landlord. Here is that email, reproduced in its entirety, with only identifying information removed (names, location, etc.).
Hello,Sweet Baby Jebus In The Manger, for this I went to law school? Welcome to the glamorous corporate world, boys and girls.
I spoke at length with [bathroom attendant/janitor] this morning about the restrooms. He had mentioned that there are a number of times that it appears that someone is doing something intentionally to create havoc and a mess. Specifically,
• the Ladies restroom stall next to the handicapped stall is continually becoming clogged with used feminine hygiene products;
• the Men’s restroom last week had three of the four stalls plugged with an entire roll of toilet paper and one urinal was plugged with toilet paper;
• the Men’s restroom stall doors and walls appear to be used as someone’s personal Kleenex
I am also alerting [student loan collection agency] of these situations and wanted to ask everyone to help in keeping the restrooms clean and orderly for everyone’s use. Please address the hygiene situations noted above with your staffs, and we will endeavor to keep the areas as clean as possible.
At least the pond scum fouling 'Puter's facilities get up and come to work each morning. That's about the best 'Puter can say for the Typhoid Marys occupying the next suite.
The New York Times' editors make a perfectly valid argument that application of the death penalty is unjust and immoral. The editors then claim that the remedy is to have an unnamed court (likely the United States Supreme Court) declare the death penalty unconstitutional.
As the editorial glosses over, the Supreme Court has held that the death penalty does not violate the Constitution. Yet the NYT's editors would have the current SCOTUS members blithely ignore settled precedent. 'Puter wonders to himself whether the editors would be so glib if the conservative majority determined to ignore stare decisis in order declare abortion unconstitutional, which a significant number of Americans likewise find unjust and immoral.
The correct remedy is for the NYT's editors to convince state legislators, or even Congress (that pesky Commerce Clause rears its ugly head again), to simply outlaw the death penalty. The Supreme Court has only held that states' use of the death penalty is constitutionally permissible. It has not held that all states must enact a death penalty provision.
Rather than utilizing the simple solution available (elected representatives reflecting the will of the people), the NYT like the good liberal house organ it is decided to go for the over reach (unelected jurists imposing their will on the country). 'Puter suspects this is a recognition by the editors of the unpopularity of their opinions outside the smug confines of their urban(e) bastions.
This is among the many reasons 'Puter has so little respect for the NYT.
BlueCross&BlueShield of Tennessee, who happens to be the good doctor's insurer, funded a study how Obamacare would affect access to healthcare state wide. Their analysis suggests that in 2014, 700,000 Tennesseans will become insured, many of whom are younger men eligible for Medicaid, and the rest will be able to purchase subsidized policies through state run exchanges.
This is, of course, if the Supreme Court doesn't strike down Obamacare (John, Antonin, Clarence, Sam, and especially you Tony, you will find the law wholly unconstitutional (Jedi fingers waving towards DC)).
There are consequences of this influx of insured patients on to the insurance rolls. First, utilization will go up. When one has a low co-pay (or no copay in the case of women receiving womens' health services in the post Sibelius era), they are more likely to use a service that they otherwise might not. Preventative services may be good medicine, but they're not necessarily cost effective. As a consequence costs will go up for individuals paying for their premiums.
Second, the wait for said services will be longer because more people will be demanding services from a fixed number of physicians. As physicians are paid less than the cost of doing business caring for Medicare and Medicaid patients, they will be less than enthusiastic to take these patients into their already crowded clinics. Many private practice physicians are struggling to keep open and they are selling their practices to hospitals (who are relative winners with Obamacare) where there is safety and cost effectiveness in numbers due to lower per provider overhead.
Even at New Atlantis Ivory Tower Medical Center, one of the primary care groups has its own urgent care clinic so if you don't feel good you see the doc of the day rather than your doctor. You only see your doctor for scheduled visits. Remember, you can keep your doctor, you just might not get to see him for every sore throat or tummyache. Fortunately the other primary care groups do not operate on this model. But make no mistake, as hospitals buy up private practice groups the scarcity of clinic visits will likely result in your urgent be managed in this model. In the interim when you feel unwell, you may be forced to go to Walgreen's doc in the box.
Now Dr. Coulter, president of the BCBS think tank sums it up thus: "It will be a little longer line but everybody will be in line." Well Kum-bay-fucking-ya, lets all hold hands, sing, dance and sacrifice unicorn glitter to the rainbow gods! What he's not saying is the line will be longer, in part, because folks who may not need to go to the doctor are going to be gumming up the works. So if you have a pressing need, getting in with your generalist will take longer and then your referral to your specialist will take longer, as primary care providers that are pressed to see more people in less time tend to refer to specialists with less impunity, increasing costs to insurers and thus your premium. Do you detect a pattern here? Thought so, gentle reader.
Take solace in the fact that Dr. Coulter feels that the state exchanges will do a less shitty job than federal government run healthcare. He says, "I have a lot more confidence in their ability to run things than I do the federal government." He clearly forgets about TennCare collapsing under the weight if it's own promises as it ran out of other people's money. And if he does take that into account, you WILL be waiting longer for your care.
Healthcare expert and film auteur Michael Moore profers that it's patriotic for Americans to wait longer for the delivery of their healthcare because it we will all be in line together. He suggests that it's only non-life-threatening issues that you will wait for and magically there will be no waits for urgent care despite the fact there more patients in the system without an increase in operating room slots will mean no additional wait time. Right? Wrong!
In Sweden, there was a study of ~5500 patients who were stratified as imperative (2 weeks), urgent (12 weeks), and routine (6 months). The median waiting time was 55 days. 55% of patients were operated on within their allotted time, meaning 45% were not. The folks operated on within their window had a mortality of 6.2% while the unlucky 45% had a mortality of 8.0%. This translates to an excess of 44 patients who deaths potentially could be explained by going to the OR later than they should have. Now, when they correct for age, gender, anginal symptoms and operative risk, in other words the determinants of something bad happening to them, all is well and good. The thing is, they're wrong. The authors cannot make that statistical adjustment in this scenario. In this scenario, patients were placed into 3 categories. 45% of the patients in each category couldn't be operated on in the timeframe desired, and their death rate was higher. The statistical adjustment demonstrated that they put people in the wrong places in line, and they can use that information, perhaps, to reshuffle the lines in the future.
Dr. J. could pull more studies for you if you'd like, but you get the idea.
Mr. Moore, longer waits won't be patriotic, they will be lethal, and better yet, you, the politically connected and medically connected will not have as long to wait because doctors are always willing to work in a colleague, a friend, a patient a colleague is sufficiently concerned about because of their acuity, or someone of import in as an overbook. Dr. J. does it all the time. It will continue in the future, but we can only do so much.
So how do we fix this? Simple. Repeal Obamacare. Leave medicaid for the truly needy and phase out medicare in a manner that empowers citizens to ensure themselves into their golden years (it can be done). Implement incentives for individuals to insure themselves. Allow folks to roll over HSA money. Put people, rather than the government, in charge of controlling costs. Decrease, rather than increase, the regulations that are increasing costs in healthcare. With the increased costs of healthcare, private practice is going the way of the dodo. Doctors' salaries are going down, as well, so insufficient numbers of people are going into the field. It's all basic macro- and micro-economics. It's all fixable by doing the opposite of what Washington is doing.
SHAME ON YOU, MR. MOORE, SHAME ON YOU! And anytime you got Dr. J. and the Gormogons against you, you're time is up!
*SomeTime After Tomorrow
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Oh most dread and awful Czar (may thine enemies low-crawl naked across a mile of broken glass to pay homage to your shadow),Hello, Minion! And good morning.
Fearing that the tide of media scientific ignorance waxes most annoyingly to you of late, I hesitate to point out the most recent bit of it...
ANTI-MAGNETS???!!! OMFG and WTF. No, really. (Apologies oh lord, for the caps!) I often fail to understand how journalists manage to dress themselves and successfully get to work every day.
Anti-freaking-magnets. I have this feeling that we'll be seeing them on an infomercial soon, between the ShamWow and the Ronco Turnip Twaddler (which, by the way, was a lovely Christmas gift last year, sire, we still use it daily. On the cat.)
Working feverishly to expand the Greater Southeast Georgia Co-Prosperity Sphere
For people afraid to click on the story, here is the actual news within it. Following about two centuries worth of understanding on electromagnetism, some Spanish scientists took a break from being unemployed in their green economy to create a simple magnetic shield. By creating an electromagnetic field that radiates from an object, they can create a magnetic field that repulses rather than attracts. This has been in the works for some time, in fact, and one of the necessities for space travel, your species will soon find, is using just such a magnetic field to curve interstellar particles around space craft so that its occupants are not fried. The sun and Jupiter and Earth each have magnetic fields that help protect us here on the ground. This is hardly earth-shattering news.
No, the news is that a couple of guys claim to have figured out how to make a small one of their own. We shall see.
There, the whole story in a couple of sentences. This of course is not good enough for FoxNews, who really needs a longer story here to fill up the webpage with ads. So here are some elements that they added in:
- A photo, from Wikipedia, of a horseshoe magnet picking up a piece of metal. This is because few humans have ever seen a magnet in use. By the way, the story has nothing to do with horseshoe magnets.
- An opening sentence that references Magneto of the X-Men. This of course is here to advertise that Fox owns the movie rights to the X-Men. It fails to mention that Magneto is not actually one of the X-Men, but is generally opposed to them. It also states that he can shield magnetic fields, which is also incorrect based on the Czars having actually seen the X-Men movies.
- Examples of what conceptually related technology could do. One day, maybe. Except the story does not tell you exactly what the Spanish guys developed. Is it a field generator? A handheld device? A massive thing several hundred tons in weight? Who knows? Not the author, for sure. We do not actually know if this invention...or discovery...can do any of these things.
- Classic fearmongering...by God, if this incredibly helpful technology ever fell into the wrong hands, bad guys could use it to mess with credit cards or confuse security scanners in airports! Oddly, the author did not mention that people could use it to turn the Statue of Liberty into a mutagenic weapon...but then, the author evidently never saw the X-Men movies. Incidentally, this device would not deter magnetometers in airports, which shows a fundamental lack of understanding about magnetism.
- A small comment that the work is purely theoretical, and details will be published in a heavily technical journal that Fox will neither follow up on later or remotely even read.
- A reminder that you have lots of magnets in your home.
Of course, this is a classic editor-driven story. Hey, there is some RSS feed about a magnetic cloaking device or something, he emails, Get a story, and make it about 1,000 words long. Fine, says author Loren Grushknown for such quality work as announcing Star Wars is real, because Tatooine was discoveredand knowing that the Spanish scientists would only provide about 400 useable words, set about using Wikipedia to get 600 more.
By the way, you can read that story about Tatooine, and see almost the exact same template at work: an opening reference to a Fox movie, a short description of the actual news, a terse admission we lack anything more exciting, 60% filler material, and a few key movie facts wrong (Star Trek uses warp drive; Star Wars uses hyperspace). And a reminder you probably saw Star Wars, which was quite popular 30 years ago.
It is so easy to write science stories, eh?
Dread and awful Czar,Dragon's Breath is a pyrotechnic round, which is a nice way of saying that you basically are shooting money out your shotgun. If you do not have access to Dragon's Breath, you can create the same effect by using ordinary buckshot and firing into piles of your money until it shreds. If you do not have access to a shotgun, you can simply set fire to whatever you have.
Followed a youtube link from Borepatch and stumbled on to this cool video showing dragon’s breath shotgun ammo. Thought you might enjoy the video if you haven’t already seen it.
Been getting bored and depressed with politics lately so I needed a pick-me-up. Southern girls just love ballistics!
The Czar mocks, but the video is a lot of funlargely because he paid for none of it. The Czar, some of us may know, is not the best shooter with a shotgun. Had he any choice in the matter, he would spend his money trying to hit targets with real pellets. And if you fancy yourself a pretty good shot, the Czar would be curious to see you take on the Mandarin, who is an absurdly fine shot with a scattergun.
Hooray for FJR, who gives us something new to scribble about!
Saturday, September 24, 2011
First, we understand that some Firefox users are seeing white patches on the sides of the site. Guess what? It is your fault, Firefox users. We recommend you upgrade to Thrace 13.2, which not only fixes it but finally gets Flash to work in 3D. This applies only to those running the DUX OS 3.3 or higher; if you cant get it in the 21st Century, dont blame usget your own time hopping robot.
Second, ScottO writes in:
Dread and Awful Czar,None of the scandals have been linked, at present, to Barack Obama himself, whereas in Watergate they were most definitely tied to Richard Nixon. Hence, Teapot Dome scandal, which were not necessarily linked to Harding, although they probably were in reality. And the Teapot Dome scandal may have had one fatalitysome people suspect President Harding himself was killed over it.
I was puzzled by your assertion: "Watergate serious? Not so far." As far as I can remember (and I was but a young tyke at the time), the Watergate scandal did not involve anybody's death. Not during the activities that caused the scandal, anyway.
If you mean that there is no clear implication of the occupant of the Oval Office in any of the scandals you mention, then I agree. But the effects of the scandalous actions--from handing out a half-billion dollars to the deaths of several citizens including at least one law enforcement officer--are much more serious than anything I recall from Watergate.
Your humble minion,
And frankly, the Czar is going to stop discussing physics in laypersons terms, because the Castle doors fly open with corrections. First, chronologically, is Dr. (KN)J:
O Most Dread and awful, etc. etc.The Czar asked GorT if time travel was possible, and GorT simply handed us a note with yesterdays date on it that said Yes, dummy. Then, weirdly, this came in the day before the Czar wrote that explanation:
One quick adjustment to your most recent discussion of neutrinos: because of the square root in that gamma formula, it does not follow that faster-than-light means time-flows-backwards. It really means that formula simply doesn't apply without modification when v > c (naively, the flow of time becomes imaginary, not negative, and it's unclear what, if anything, that means).
Other than that, carry on...one can never bash the popular media too much. Even if this turns out to be precisely correct, it doesn't mean that "Einstein was wrong" but rather that there's something else going on that even Einstein didn't know about, which is, in technical terms, way cool. Of course, it's much more likely that it's an error of some sort. I've personally solved many world-famous problems on many occasions until I checked it all out again the next day and, you know, found the mistake...
Royal Mathematician to the Gormogons
Czar,Quit messing with the Czar. We can split an atom with an axe. And by atom, of course, we mean skulls. Except, you are correct. γ = 1.0 at rest. At canned ham speeds, which you know is 45 mph, γ = 1.0000000000000022. At light speed, it becomes infinite.
in paragraph 8 of your post, "gamma is nearly zero" should read "gamma is nearly one," multiplicative identity and all that;)
Here is a much nicer note that does not amend or correct anything from MC, who is back from tuning up our orbiting mind control weapon (at the expense of UARS...well, one of them had to go):
Dread, awful, satellite-smashing Czar,Yes. Thank you. See? Not so hard, is it (KN)J and @meadabawdy?
You probably saved me an hour or more of figuring out just what the media got wrong about that CERN paper. I have a cardinal rule which has yet to fail me regarding cutting-edge research "news" in the major media - ignore it. Nothing of importance will come of any discovery that is announced by the mainstream media within hours or days of its publication. In fact, more often than not it'll turn out to be totally wrong or useless. The really, really good stuff takes a lot longer to bake and is recognized only in hindsight.
Now fight for our amusement. And do the Star Trek fight music.