Friday, November 29, 2013


The Chatgers game is blacked out Sunday, giving San Diego the distinction of being the first team in the NFL to have a blackout of its game this season. The loyal fans, who are not buying tickets to the game, are blaming Dean Spanos, the team owner, for the blackout, notwithstanding that Charger ticket prices are among the lowest in the league and that the blackout is a league policy, not a Charger team policy.

It's worth noting that Tampa Bay, with only three wins so far, and Minnesota, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Houston, each with only 2 wins, have not experienced a home game blackout this year. San Diego, with 5 wins...

The blackout rules are a bit bizarre. The game cannot be shown for a 75 mile radius but is blacked out in Los Angeles, which is a good bit further than 75 miles from Qualcomm Stadium. The CBS network, which carries Chargers games, cannot show any NFL game at 10AM, at which time the Chargers are not playing, but it can show the Chiefs-Broncos game at 1PM, which is the same time as the Chargers game. Meanwhile, Fox Network can show a game at 10AM but cannot show a game at 1PM because it would compete with the Chargers game.

My wife says the policy is not supposed to make sense; it's just supposed to piss people off make people buy tickets. She does not explain how it's supposed to do that.

Minor Hypocrisy

We seem to be getting used to requiring retail workers to report for work on Thanksgiving day, but there is still a good deal of protest on liberal blogs about that barbaric practice, along with demands that we boycott the stores who engage on such a horrendously inhumane practice.

Many of the same writers are delighted that we are able to watch football games on Thanksgiving day. A few give enough thought to the labor issue to rationalize that athletes are paid huge sums of money, but none of them give any thought to the thousands of ticker takers, concession workers, security guards, ushers and other low paid workers who are... wait for it... required to work on Thanksgiving day.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Fearful Nation

Much about thankfulness is being bandied about today, but it rings a little hollow with me given that the mostly the discussion revolves around how badly thing are going in this nation. Noam Chomsky commented in a piece not long ago that America is a terrified nation, and I think he makes a valid point. Being thankful and terrified at the same time seems discordant.

We are terrified of disease, of old age, of losing our jobs, of poverty, of bad weather, of crime, of drug wars, and of course we are terrified of terrorists.

For some reason we are not terrified of being killed on the highway in a traffic accident, even though only old age is more likely than any of the foregoing to cause us to be hurt or killed. We take our cars onto the freeway and drive as if we are invulnerable; utterly without any trace of fear. Or good judgement.

What happened? We were once a nation which was not afraid of anything. We took on the Axis in 1941 with a terrible resolve and fought it to it’s destruction in less than four years. Today we still don’t know what we’ve accomplished against a handful of primitive tribesman in Afghanistan after twelve years, but we’re still afraid of them.

We’re afraid of them because our leaders are constantly prating that they are the only thing standing between us and the death and destruction that could be rained down on us by “extremists” if we do not spend half of our national resources enriching the national defense industry and reelect them.

During the “Cold War,” when thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at us provided real cause for fear, there was less of a sense of panic than permeates our nation today. When McCarthy ran his fear campaign of “Communists everywhere” we wound up rejecting him. Today’s fear campaign of “terrorists everywhere” has run for twelve years through two administrations and has been and still is enormously successful.

When and why did we become a nation characterized by fear?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Football Weekend

I’m still recovering from the football weekend. All of my teams were underdogs, and not only did all of them win, they all entertained greatly in the process. LSU not only beat the Aggies from Texas, they pretty much humiliated that smarmy little egotistic twerp that plays quarterback for them. Zack Mettenberger even mocked “Johnny Football” by using his “look at me” hand gestures after throwing an LSU touchdown pass. Excellent.

The SDSU Aztecs won in overtime, and I had to stay up until after 11:00 at night to see that. It was worth it. The Aztecs have now won 7 of their last 8 games and are 6-1 in their conference. What they lack in talent, which is quite a bit, they make up in grit.

What can I say about the Chargers? We lose to Miami and then we beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead. It was a matter of whoever had the ball last was going to win, because there were no defenses on the field. We won after the eighth lead change with the clock expiring.

Kansas City had the #1 defense in the NFL in terms of allowing points, but they must have been playing against tomato cans, because they stunk Sunday. Philip Rivers threw for 378 yards but 228 of that, or 60% of it, was yards after the catch. That’s not good offense, that’s bad defense; a secondary which simply doesn’t know where the receivers are. Still, even when playing a bad defense, the team needs to be able to exploit it, and the Chargers did.

And I had the amusing bonus during the LSU game of hearing Verne Lundquist talking about the imposition of thirty yards of penalty, and then him being surprised that only fifteen yards was walked off. After all of his years in football he is apparently unaware that never are two penalties imposed on a single play.

In the Aztecs game the announcers were a couple of clowns I’d never heard of. Every ten minutes one of them would learn a new word and then would use it to death until someone taught him a new one. For some time the offense was “gashing” the other team on every play, even when they didn’t gain any yards. A blocker would “gash” a defender. Then someone suggested the word “power” and we had “power pass” and “power run” and “power sack” etc. At one point I heard him declaim that "the defensive secondaries are performing well on both sides of the line of scrimmage."

Not surprisingly, I was unable to find a defensive secondary on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage. Back in my drinking days, that would have made a neat game. Drink every time the announcer says something stupid. You’d have to read the next day’s paper to find out who won.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Winning The Battle

lego maniaMolly had her second round of chemotherapy this week. Due to worry about a possible flareup of her pancreatitis, she first had an untrasound which not only did not reveal any bad news, it revealed that she has responded to the first treatment round much better than was expected. If she continues to eat, poop and not throw up, she doesn't have to return to the vet for three weeks, when she will get the last round of treatment.

The vet staff is greatly enamored of her, in part due to her rather rare coloring. She is a tiny and very meek little girl and her vocal protests consist of quiet little squeaks. When she is really fed up she will look her tormenter in the eye and hiss, which cracks them up because she has never been known to threaten to use her teeth or claws.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wall Street Lottery

Much ado about the stock market increasing by 22% in less than eleven months, hitting 16,000 yesterday; a new record in that it is the third time that it has reached even multiples of 1000 in a single year. This is hailed as signaling a robust economy, with no one seeming to notice the rather startling disconnect between an extrapolated 26% annual growth in the stock market and a rather paltry 2.3% annual growth rate in the economy.

That’s because the stock market no longer has anything to do with the economy.

The stock market was originally formed for the purpose of providing a vehicle whereby businesses could obtain capital to create or expand their business. It no longer makes any pretense of fulfilling that role, as witness the “initial public offerings” of Facebook and Twitter. Not one cent of the money raised by those public offering went toward the expansion of those business, and neither business was functionally changed by the capital raised in the stock market. Every drop of that money went toward the personal enrichment of the principals of those companies and of the backers of the offerings.

Evan more blatant was the consideration of a public offering being made for the future earnings of NFL running back Arian Foster. There was no possibility that any capital raised in that offering could improve his performance or extend his career; the offering was being proffered purely as a speculative venture than participants could profit from it much as one would do by playing the lottery. The offering was derailed by an injury which happened prior to the offering, but had it happened afterward the “lottery” would have enriched the player enormously and the participants would have been massive losers.

The stock market today is, in effect, a lottery with participants speculating on factors almost entirely divorced from the companies which the stock market supposedly represents. The main factor for this speculation is the operation of the Federal Reserve and how long it will continue pumping more money into the financial system. Concrete evidence of the nature of that speculation can be seen when forecasts that indicate a weakening economy, and which spell hard times for the companies represented by the stock market, actually cause the stock market to rise because they assure that the Fed will continue to inject money into the financial system.

Note that I do not say, as the media usually does, that the Fed is “injecting money into the economy.” That is because the money that they inject does not go into the economy, it goes directly into the stock market. They inject that money by buying treasury bills, which they buy from investors. Those investors do not spend that money, they put it into the stock market, which is why the stock market is growing at an annual rate of 26% while the economy is stumbling along at a rate that does not even keep up with population growth and inflation.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Agreement, What Agreement?

John Kerry, who looks foolish under the best of circumstances, comes out of meetings with Karzai yesterday and announces pontifically that an agreement has been reached to permit our troops to remain in Afghanistan after the 2014 deadline that Obama announced several years ago for their total withdrawal. He did not explain why in the world we would want to do such a nonsenical thing.

He mentioned in passing that the agreement needed to be approved by the loya jirga and the Afghan Parliment, but seemed to regard those as mere trivial details. Consensus seems to be that passage by those bodies is about as likely as a July ice storm in Miami. Or, perhaps, the Chargers winning the Super Bowl.

Karzai, who has a real talent for making American politicians look foolish, including Kerry who doesn't really need any help, then announces the following day that no agreement will be signed until after the American 2014 elections, at which point he will deal with Hillary Clinton the newly elected president. American foreign policy at it's best.

Update:, Friday morning: Aha, wrong election. He was not talking about our new president, he was talking about Afghanistan's new president. I need to read things more carefully.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Economic Gibberish

Paul Krugman has a blog post yesterday which is a perfect example of the technique based on the concept of “if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with gibberish.” He uses the technique positing that if you compare enough numbers to enough other numbers in a sufficiently irrelevant manner people will be so lost that they will throw up their hands and give you a Nobel Prize. It works, of course, because they did so.

Right now the real interest rate on US government borrowing is about 0.5 percent on 10-year securities, negative 0.4 percent on 5-year. Meanwhile, even pessimistic estimates of US potential growth put it in the 1.5-2 percent range. So r is less than g — the real interest rate on debt is less than the normal growth rate.

It’s the last sentence which is the real kicker; it’s about as relevant as saying that my heart rate is slower than traffic on the I-8 this morning. If he compared interest rates to inflation he would be making a meaningful point because both are about the value of money, but he compares it to economic growth only because he is getting ready to introduce another artificial and totally meaningless concept; the debt to GDP ratio.

This in turn means that the usual worry about a rising debt level — that it will require that we eventually run big non-interest surpluses to pay down the debt — is all wrong. As long as we run a primary (non-interest) balance, or in fact not too large a deficit, the debt/GDP ratio will tend to erode over time. What’s more, an increase in the primary deficit won’t cause a runaway debt spiral, it will lead to a gradual rise in debt to a higher level, but it will stabilize there.

Krugman claims to be a follower of Keynes, but the first part of that is about as non-Keynesian as one can be, because Keynes certainly never advocated that government should never repay the money it borrowed. He specifically said that it should do so, in fact, when economic times improved to the point that it was able to do so.

And this is where he brings in the debt/GDP ratio which will “erode over time.” This is what replaces the repayment of debt because the amount of debt is meaningless. The only meaningful measure of debt is its ratio to the GDP, and we can allow that ratio to shrink until the debt disappears altogether, at which point the government will no longer have to be paying any interest and we can quit worrying about interest rates going up.

His third point is that an increase in the deficit will not lead to “a runaway debt spiral” but rather cause a “gradual rise in debt to a higher level” at which it will stabilize. Really? Tell that to Japan, or Argentina. What, precisely, is going to be the factor which causes it to stabilize, other than eliminating the deficit?

Suppose, for example, that r is 0.5 and g is 1.5 — not too unrealistic. Suppose that you start with debt at 50 percent of GDP, and then begin running primary deficits of 1 percent of GDP. What will happen? Debt will rise to 100 percent of GDP, and stay there, even if nothing is done to address the deficit.

Our GDP is $15 trillion and deficits have been running $1.3 trillion, so our deficit is closer to 10% than 1% of GDP. Not to mention that our starting point is a lot closer to 100% of GDP than it is the 50% he posits. So how does starting at 100% of GDP and running deficits of 10% of GDP result in our debt “rising to 100 percent of GDP, and staying there, even if nothing is done to address the deficit” precisely?

Even assuming his more idealistic numbers, though, what causes the debt to stop rising when it hits 100% of GDP if the government has not and is not repaying debt and is still running a deficit? He doesn’t say what the mechanism is that causes that phenomenon, cites no examples illustrating it, and carefully omits mentioning multiple nations which have debts which exceed their GDPs by several orders. Whatever his limiting mechanism is, it clearly didn’t work for those nations.

I don’t want to push this too hard, but I just want to make it clear that if we really believe in low or even negative normal real interest rates, conventional views of fiscal prudence make even less sense than people like me have been saying.

The meaning of that is not entirely clear, but when he says that something "makes even less sense than what I’ve been saying” I’m inclined to go along with that.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Football Musings

When the Chargers score 16 points and lose against the Dolphins, why does all of the San Diego sports media blame the defense? Admittedly the defense stunk, but the offense scored one touchdown and three field goals, and that is going to lose the game about 90% of the time. The defense probably set a new league record for missed tackles, but the offense dropped passes and Philip Rivers crossed the line of scrimmage before throwing a forward pass. Plenty of blame to go around.

Why would the Steelers choose to wear those throwback uniforms? In case you didn't see them, they wore canvas pants and had horizontal orange and black stripes on both jerseys and socks. Looked like a Halloween jailbreak.

Why did Sunday Night Football decide to replace Faith Hill with an anorexic skank whose voice sounds like fingernails on a blackboard? I had to mute the television until that part was over.

Auburn utterly dominated Georgia for 50 minutes Saturday, and I was thinking they might give Alabama a pretty good run in two weeks. Then they gave up 21 points in eight minutes and I decided maybe not. Just for fun, though, they finally won the game just as the clock expired with what was probably the most unlikely 80-yard touchdown pass completion I've ever seen in 50+ years of watching college football.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Budget Busters

The U-T San Diego is waxing poetic over a construction project on Camp Pendleton. A new Navy hospital was finished six months ahead of schedule and 17% under its $570 million budget and the paper is heaping praise on the private contractors involved. I agree that compliments are deserved, but let's be realistinc here and consider the setting. It was on Camp Pendleton.

You don't screw around when you are surrounded by Marines.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Japanese Envoy

Compensating for his tonedeafness on other matters, Obama's choice for Ambassador to Japan is simply brilliant. I will deny with my last breath that my opinion is influenced by her stunning good looks. Caroline Kennedy is a graceful and gracious lady with impeccable credentials, and will represent all that is best about our nation. Not surprisingly, the Japanese are thrilled.

"We Fumbled The Rollout"

Obama said yesterday that “We fumbled the rollout” of the Obamacare plan, but didn’t seem overly heartbroken about it. “Fumbled” is something of an understatement, actually, given the constant stream of executive orders delaying various features of the program because the specific rules for that feature had not yet been worked out. Now he’s saying that people can keep insurance policies which have already been cancelled. Anyone who believes that will work should contact me about buying a bridge.

He did not explain why, with three full years to prepare for it, they have so badly “fumbled the rollout” of the Democrats’ signature program. After seven years of castigating the Republicans for incompetence, and with three years to prepare for it, they “fumble the rollout” of the program which is most vitally important to their image.

No one seems to question how it is that the president can change, by executive order, a law that has been passed by Congress. That is a mere constitutional detail, and when the president wants to do something we pay very little attention to that outdated document any more.

Implementation of “health care reform” was delayed for three years, with the reason never being very clearly stated. Supposedly it was so that everyone could prepare for its implementation; so they would be ready for it. We now know, of course, that it was to assure that this fiasco didn’t happen while Obama was running for reelection.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

That's A Highlight?

To my wife's dismay and my delight, basketball season is here and so sports shows and news programs are playing highlights. I have been trying to figure out why those highlights bore me. Basketball does not bore me; in fact I enjoy it immensely. Football highlights do not bore me; I love them. Volleyball highlights are exciting. Tennis highlights are boring, but then so is tennis. Golf is fairly boring, but the highlights are awesome. So why aren’t basketball highlights more exciting?

I finally realized that the problem is that basketball highlights are not highlights; they’re just basketball. This is the only sport there is which consists almost entirely of action which could be considered highlights.

They show a football highlight of a guy running seventy yards and scoring a touchdown; wow, how often does that happen? A golfer hits a shot out of the rough and it stops three inches away from the pin; awesome shot, almost never happens. A soccer player kicks the ball over his head and backwards and it goes in the net; incredible feat of athleticism.

But when a basketball player races down the court, leaps over an opposing player and slams the ball into the basket, that’s not a highlight; that’s just what basketball is. That’s what basketball players do all game long. You’re going to show me something that happens three dozen times during a game and call that a highlight? I don’t think so.

For basketball highlights you’d have to replay the whole game.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You Can't Cure Symptoms

When you have a high fever, it is not the fever that is your problem. The fever is actually part of your body’s defense against illness and is helping to kill the organisms which are attacking you. Further, doctors do not usually attack the fever directly, they seek to find out what is causing it and attack that underlying cause.

Similarly, the federal budget deficit is not our problem today, it is symptomatic of a much larger problem; that being our enormous and unremarked trade deficit. That deficit is a outflow of wealth which requires borrowing money to fill the hole which it creates in our economy.

So we know the cause of our problem and unlike doctors do nothing about it, frantically attempting to cure the symptoms instead. The result is that we move the debt around, from government to private sector, to business and back to government again, but never do anything about reducing it because we never even attempt to reduce the balance of trade deficit.

Why do we do this game of economic whack-a-mole with debt?

Because it is that game, not tax policy, which created and maintains the horrendous economic inequality in this nation. The money earned by the middle class goes overseas when they purchase goods made abroad, and that money comes back into this country as profits to the wealthy who own the corporations producing those goods overseas.

“Tax the rich” is not going to solve the economic inequality problem, because those tax increases are pennies; they amount to a few percentage points of income on the wealthy – single digits. The amount involved in this trade deficit is staggering, because income from overseas is, in many cases, the totality of upper class income, and the money going overseas for “consumer spending” is 70% of middle class disposable income.

In effect, the entire trade deficit goes into the pockets of the economic upper class in this nation; $25 billion to $40 billion every single month. Yes, that’s a slight oversimplification, but it is not mere hyperbole.

The solution to the federal deficit is neither “spend less” nor “tax more,” but lies in policies which solves both the federal deficit and economic inequality; “make more and import less.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Alliterative Date

I write very few checks these days, but... 11/12/13 today. I amuse easily.

Fox Intelligentsia

I inadvertantly clicked on a Fox News headline just now regarding enrollment in the "Obamacare" program, and got my daily dose of hilarity reading the comments. We know the caliber of the people who rely on Fox News is not necessarily high, but...

"Bush approval rating hire than Obama....."

"Dubya dreams of bankrupting the Texas Rangers and the US is coming to fluition."

"I liked ben ghazzi in that 60,s doctor show."

"What is Obama hocking these days? Budget? Immigration? Oh yeah, he's in CYA mode for the ACA."

I'd like to know how much he got when he hocked the budget.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Not "Targeting"?

Bad HitWith about eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter an LSU defender hit an Alabama pass receiver after the catch in a play which clearly illustrated the utter insanity and stupidity of the college “targeting” rule. The receiver was on his knees and in the grasp of another LSU defender, the whistle had blown, and the LSU player hit the receiver with what was blatantly and obviously a helmet-to-helmet blow. It was called a “late hit.”

The announcers, who despise the “targeting” rule as much as I do, were as shocked as much as I was. They were actually calling for the rule to be invoked and the player ejected and, for the first time since the rule was announced, so was I. The hit was a cheap shot, a demonstration of the frustration of a team that was losing badly, and it was dirty football.

If the officials did not invoke the “targeting” rule on that play, then they cannot justifiably invoke it in any instance in any game, ever. If that hit was not “targeting,” then targeting does not exist.

Bayou Bunglers

I'm not surprised by LSU's loss to Alabama, I was expecting it since Alabama is the better team, but I am a bit surprised by the nature of it. The game was not as close as the score would indicate. Alabama dropped three easy interceptions that might well have made it 59-17; a score which would have reflected the actual level of competition.

Les Miles has improved LSU’s offense, or Cam Cameron has, but he apparently cannot do two things at once as Nick Saban can, because the defense has suffered in the process. That crowd might have looked okay in some other uniform, Slippery Rock College, perhaps, or a Pac-12 school, but in the Tiger purple and gold they stunk.

They were standing up at the line of scrimmage, committing late hits, face masks, and unprofitable pass interference penalties, missing tackles more often than making them, and their closing speed in the secondary was pathetic. Alabama only gained 179 yards passing, but 100 yards of that was legged out after the ball was caught. Les Miles brags about a “hard hitting” defense, which they may be, but they are also slow as hell, and uncoordinated as a bag of puppies, only not as cute.

It’s not surprising they’ve lost 3 games, it’s surprising they’ve won 7.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

How Do You Like Your Duck?

Roasted, toasted, fried, stewed, boiled, or sauteed? Doesn't matter, Stanford only cooks Duck one way; mashed.

Stanford led 26-0 in the fourth quarter, and had completed just seven passes. The Ducks knew Tyler Gaffney was going to run the ball. The Ducks knew where he was going to run the ball. The Ducks knew the entire Stanford team was going to run over them like a dump truck going over a speed bump.

One did not need to speculate about which gap Gaffney was going to run through; there were no gaps in Stanford's offensive line. They were not shoulder-to-shoulder prior to the snap, they were hipbone-to-hipbone. That offensive line has incurred one holding penalty in the entire year. As a former linbacker, that game gave me nightmares for two nights, causing me to wake up in a cold sweat.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Well, Not Quite

CBS Evening News said last night that our economy grew 2.8% in the third quarter, after growing 2.5% in the second quarter. That would have our economy growing 11% for the year, which would be awesome. In actuality, our economy grew at an annual rate of 2.8% in the third quarter, which is a bit less exciting.

The Washington Post says today that the economy, "added 204,000 jobs in October, defying expectations of a weak labor market." As usual, they used data from the Employer Survey, which counts one person working two jobs as two people employed. From the Household Survey we find that the unemployment rate increased to 7.3% last week. It was reported by most media as "essentially unchanged," which is what they do when it rises, while when it drops by the same amount they say it "dropped slightly." It never "rises slightly," it only "drops slightly."

The article goes on to say that "This is good news for the economy," despite the report revealing that the labor force decreased by a whopping 730,000 people even though the population increased by 213,000.

Participation in the labor force dropped from 63.2% to 62.8% and workers who are "part time for economic reasons" increased by 125,000. The unemployment among people with "some college" rose by .3% and for college graduates it rose .1%. How all of that that is "good news for the economy" escapes me.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Insuring Without Risk

One of the features of “health care reform” is that it mandates what every policy must cover, including such things as pregnancy, addiction treatment, etc. This is widely applauded as preventing insurance companies from offering “junk policies” which don’t adequately cover people, and are compared to government safety standards mandated for automobiles.

The weakness of that defense is that while the government mandates safety standards for cars, it doesn’t mandate features. All cars have to have brakes, and the government mandates standards for the type of brakes that are furnished, for instance, but the government does not mandate that all cars must have air conditioning.

In its mandate that all policies must provide things such as birth control, the government is mandating features, not standards. A single male, for instance, would prefer to buy a policy that excludes that feature, since single males are exceedingly unlikely to become pregnant, and don’t carry health insurance for their girlfriends. The government requires, however, that any health insurance which they buy be priced on the basis that the insurer might have to pay the cost of the insured’s birth control and/or pregnancy.

In obtaining insurance for our home, we chose to include earthquake insurance but not flood insurance because we live in Southern California, which is long overdue for an earthquake but has not been hit by a hurricane in recorded history, and we are two hundred feet above the San Diego River flood plain. Using the “health care reform” mandate guidelines, we would be required to carry equal amounts of hurricane and flood insurance, because risk is not part of the equation.

Insuring against that for which you are not at risk; priceless.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Tribal Wars

The media analyzed the elections endlessly last night, telling us both that the results signaled the death of the Tea Party and that they revealed a surprising degree of strength in the Tea Party. Apparently the Tea Party is strong but nonetheless dead? The operation was a success but the patient died? The media is absurd? Whatever.

Chris Christie won in a state in which Democrats overwhelmingly outnumber Republicans, which should mean the Democratic Party is dead but somehow doesn’t, but does mean that he will beat Hillary Clinton for the White House in 2016. I don’t make this shit up, I’m just repeating what I was told by the media last night. I paid close attention to this stuff, because no football games were on last night.

Democrat loyalists are, however, apparently becoming a little bit frantic since one of them said this morning that, “Any Democrat who voted for Chris Christie should be horsewhipped.” That’s taking tribalism pretty seriously. I don’t even want to think what the next step might be.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

NFL Bullies?

If you're following the story about "issues" between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, in which Martin left the Dolphins in a snit over being bullied and Incognito has been suspended from the team for "actions detrimental to the team," some clarity may be reached by knowing that Martin is an Ivy League graduate and speaks proper English. He probably does not insert the verbal pause "uh" five times into each sentence.

And now you know why gay football players have not "come out."

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Lowering Costs

Regarding my little post about health care costs, I'm not preaching against the ACA here, even though at times I have said that it should have been a better program and I dislike some of the flaws that are built into it. I'm making a different point here. I’m asking where are the promised and currently advertised cost saving benefits of the program.

When someone is telling me that the sky is blue and I look and observe that it is gray, I don't merely assume that I am wrong or that I cannot trust my eyes. I ask what is the difference between "his blue" and "my gray." I find out that he lives 300 miles east of me and that the rainstorm that is covering my sky has not yet reached where he lives and that explains it. His sky is blue, mine is gray and the discrepancy is explained.

The ACA was described for one full year of debate prior to its passage as a program to provide insurance for people who didn't have it and to lower the cost of health care. The latter was not some secondary unimportant discussion, it was a fundamental and important goal of the program, otherwise it offered nothing for people who already had insurance, which is some 85% of the people in the country. What it offered for 15% was insurance availability, and what it offered for 85% was a reduction in the terrifying increases in the cost of health care. Without the promise of lowering costs it would have had very little support, because it would have offered nothing for the majority of voters, and it would not have passed.

After it passed there has been much praise about how well it is lowering the cost of health care, and that is at odds with my observation. I don't see it doing that and I want to know why your skies are blue and mine are gray. I'm not going to assume that gray is blue merely because you tell me so or you claim that I'm colorblind. I’m not going to accept your assurance that the program is a success despite, “sure some people will pay higher costs,” because that was never advertised as part of the deal.

The program was not sold as “some people will pay higher costs and some people will save money.” The program was sold as being a program that would lower the cost of health care.” It is, apparently, providing insurance for people who previously didn’t have it and it is, apparently, doing so at affordable costs to those people, but where is it “lowering the cost of health care” for the rest of us?

Before ACA passed my health care expenses were increasing about 10% per year. Then they increased 25% and 30% and I was told that ACA hadn't fully kicked in yet. Well it fully kicks in next year and my costs are going up 77%. Who is getting the savings promised by ACA, and why are they getting them while I am not? How many people are seeing the same thing I am and are not having their voices heard?

Look, I would even be willing to pay a bit more for health insurance in order for people without insurance to get insurance, if that was the way the program had been sold to me, just as I am willing to pay higher taxes for people to have a social safety net,. But that was not the deal that was sold and is being touted as today’s success. Don’t promise me lower costs and then piss in my ear and tell me it's raining.

If the way it's working out is that some people are paying higher costs in order for people without insurance to get it, then we should admit that that's the way it's working out. We should admit that Plan A of insuring the uninsurable along with lower costs didn’t work and so we’re going with Plan B which is to insure the uninsurable and raise costs. But I’m fed up with being told that ACA is lowering costs and watching costs go up faster than ever.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Side Effects

One of the medications prescribed for our cat, which is labeled for "Feline Molly Robinson," has displayed on its label, "Warning; may cause slight drowsiness." Seriously? On medication for a cat?

It kind of shakes your confidence in the vetinary pharmacy. Should you be dispensing medication for a feline if you think that "slight drowsiness" is in any way remotely detectable in a cat? Or that anyone tending the cat would notice and be concerned by it?

Bending The Cost

We just got the information for next year's health insurance from my wife's employer. Between premiums and increases in deductibles and copays, what we pay for health care next year will increase by 77% over our cost in 2013. "Health care reform" is doing such a wonderful job of "bending the curve" of the cost of health care. 77% increase.

2013's increase was 25%, and 2012's was 30%. Helluva job, Democrats.