Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cutting Healthcare Costs is Easy, Just Cut Benefits

Just ball parking based on my family, good insurance costs between $4,000 and $5,000 per year per person.  That would be for a good normal employer plan that covers the 10 Essential Elements with low out of pocket yearly expenses. 

In my case the insurance for my family of 5 runs ~$20,000 / yr.  Thankfully ~70% of that is picked up by my company as part of my annual compensation.  Now the puzzle is since the median household income in the US is in the mid $50,000 range.  How do all of those families on the left side of the curve afford good coverage?

Apparently the GOP's proposal is to allow for less complete plans and smaller subsidies.  I am not sure that is a good answer.  Thoughts?

Please remember that I think ACA was an okay law that just needs tweaking:
  • Put real teeth in mandate penalties so everyone buys and stays insured. (ie no more "I'll sign up until they install my new hip")
  • Open up insurance competition across State lines.
  • Eliminate State Exchanges and provide one functional National Exchange. (ie cut mgmt and mktg costs)
  • Maybe set rates by State, not region within State. (ie reduce rural peaks)
  • Other?
NPR GOP May Trim 10 Essential Benefits
NPR Less Help for the Low Income
PBS GOP Document Plan
G2A Healthcare Cost Drivers
G2A Pre-Existing Condition Fraud

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hey There Big Spender

I am simply amazed at how much Trump has promised to spend going forward... Are you sure he isn't a Democrat? Now with the GOP in charge of the money, how is he going to accomplish this?

And if he does not achieve these spending goals will he accept responsibility for failing? Or will he blame his failure on someone else? Will the buck EVER stop at his desk? I am guessing not since I know people who are very much like him.

FOX Expand the Military
TP Keep SS & Medicare
CNBC $1 Trillion Infrastructure
CNN Healthcare for All
CNN Wall on Southern Border
Politifact Trump Promise Tracker (rated)
Politifact Trump Promise Tracker (not rated yet)

Then there are the costs that he is incurring just through his personal choices and behaviors. From what I read here it seems he has spent ~11 of his first ~33 days in Florida. Plus we are paying for Melania's security at Trump Tower... Did the Trump voters sign up for his maintaining 3 homes, visiting them often and spending literally $10 million /month? What happened to the first family moving to the White House ASAP and focusing on the country?

NPR Frequent Visits Disrupt Life and Cost Businesses
WLOS Trump Visits Expensive: Want Reimbursement
CBS Trump Trips $10 Mil so far
Independent Trump Family More In One Month
Natl Memo 100's of Millions more than Obama
CNN Aides Hesitant to Say Trump is Playing Golf
Guardian Cost Vex NY and Florida Officials

I love this one...  
"President Donald Trump has made visiting his Florida golf courses a near every-weekend habit in the first month of his administration, and his aides are trying to obscure whether Trump is actually golfing during the visits. One possible reason: Trump was a frequent and vocal critic of President Barack Obama's golf habit, regularly slamming the former president for playing golf with many pressing issues before the country. Trump even suggested during a 2016 event in Virginia, in a knock on Obama, that if elected he was "not going to have time to go play golf." "I'm going to be working for you, I'm not going to have time to go play golf," Trump said at the time. Trump has visited his two golf courses near his Mar-a-Lago estate -- Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach and Trump National Golf Course in Jupiter -- six times in his first month in office.

Monday, February 20, 2017

New Improved Travel Ban

An example of the Trump stupidity and distraction in action.  This obsession with annoying huge business, universities, states, liberals and moderates etc over the minimal threat (MSN WP New Travel Ban) even as they roll back a logical safety measure.  I will never understand the far Right, let's stop the people without guns from coming here and ensure the mentally impaired can have guns.  Really?

Happy Presidents Day

I thought that was saying because I actually have it off for the first time in my adult working life...  Apparently management needed one more holiday this year !!!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Low Approval Equals Lost Seats

Jerry and I were discussing what Trump's real approval and disapproval ratings are today over here.  My beliefs are depicted in the graphic below. The things I think he is doing that will continue to keep his approval below 50% include:
  • His obsession with blocking legal refugees and other travelers from 7 countries even though there is no proven threat.
  • His saying he is only deporting violent illegals, while in reality occasionally taking Mothers away from their families.  Separating families and crying children make excellent advertisements for the Democrats against him.
  • His continually saying that our Free Press is an enemy of the citizens. (Lugenpresse)
  • His continual lying over the stupidest things. (biggest electoral win since Reagan)  I mean hasn't he heard of google search?
  • The tendency for him and his staff to make mistakes. (Sweden),  (Bowling Green)
Since he continues to focus on rallying his true believers, fighting against everyone else and focusing on minutia, I really don't see a path to him becoming a President with a high approval rating.  With that in mind, the following article becomes pretty important.  538 Will Trumps Low Approval Ratings Harm GOP  It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 22 months.  Now please remember that I want Trump to succeed, I just don't know how he is going to do it if he:

  • does not improve his methods (ie he is NOT a CEO anymore, people do not need to do what he says...  I wonder how long it will take for him to figure that out?)
  • continues catering exclusively to his base (ie they are a minority of Americans, he won because the system is thankfully rigged by the electoral college. but that only goes so far.)
  • continues speaking/ tweeting before thinking (ie how can any rational person take him serious with all the errors/lies he makes)
  • continues picking fights over the dumbest things (ie adults have the self control to know when to fight and when to ignore) (ie number of people at inauguration?  Really?)
  • continually gets distracted with the minutia instead of getting focused on the economy and healthcare. 
  • continues to try and take credit for everything good and blame others for everything bad. (ie adults know how to share praise and blame)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Trump Misrepresents Polls

Here is what I think is an important diagram, especially since the Trump folks are trying to say they are trusted more than the media.  It is a bit like when the GOP would use polls to say that people did not approve of ACA, and implied that they all thought it went "too far".  When in reality many of those folks really thought it did not go far enough...

Same in this case, the reality is that there are many people on the Far Left who do not trust the Mainstream Media because they think it is controlled by the Conservative Corporate interests. (ie it is too Conservative)  And many on the Far Right who think all those journalists are Liberals...

Where as who trusts Trump is much more one sided, it is his True Believer voters.  And everyone else distrusts him, including myself.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Household Debt: Here We Go Again

Apparently people did not learn from the Great Recession... They are out borrowing and living large again.  It is hard for me to feel bad when the rainy day comes and all these folks have no umbrella.  Oh well.
CNN Money Debt Growing

It is really too bad that Bush and Obama drove up the National Debt to buy our way out of the Great Recession so quickly...  It seems people did not have time to learn valuable lessons, and now our country is deeply in debt if the economy flounders again.  Which it will undoubtedly.
G2A Recession a Bad Thing?
G2A Recession a Bad Thing Revisited?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trump Inherited a Mess?

Maybe Trump is losing it...
  • "As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy. To be honest, I inherited a mess. It's a mess. At home and abroad, a mess."
  • "We have made incredible progress. I don't think there's ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we've done,"
  • "This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine."
  • "We had a very smooth roll out of the travel ban. But we had a bad court," Trump said. "We had a bad decision, that is the only thing that is wrong with the travel ban."
I would say that all of these statement are incredibly incorrect.

CNN Opinion Trump Going Off Rails
Fox News Trump Blasts Media
Fox News Trump I did not Divide America
CNN Trump Regarding Leaks: Then and Now

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Iowa to Control Unions?

A liberal facebook friend posted this with concern.  NPR Iowa Moves to Limit Public Unions

Of course I think it is more important to put the needs of the students before the wants of adults, so we disagree.

I added some comments to MP Teacher Shortage that describe some of the problems.
"As long as ED MN is determined to choke the supply of good high performing Teachers from being licensed in MN, there will be shortages. That is what they want, it helps them when negotiating.

And then there are those terrible steps / lanes / tenure concepts that stifle completion also...  I keep hoping sometime we start putting kids first." G2A

"I am always amused by those that cite the evil empire of the MEA. As a former member of the MEA and also the United Food & Commercial Workers union I can say the former had a lot to learn from the latter. Our local MEA group that represented the interests of the teachers for all wage and benefit issues was a biology teacher, a civics teacher and a math teacher against the best labor lawyer in town, a school board member with large agri-business experience and a wily 30 year Superintendent of schools. They whipped our butts every time. And what our negotiators always came back with was: "well we did not get nearly what we hoped to in actual compensation; but, we did get a better benefit concerning X Y or Z". And the funny part is that by all that "winning" the comp battle and throwing a benefit bone to the workers made the current mess of pensions, 55 Year old retirees and other poorly funded mandates. If they had given an immediate raise and held back on the benefits the teachers would have been happier and the district likely better off in the long run. MEA vs. School District is a fair bargaining situation and the portrayal of the MEA as this omnipotent force that never loses is not reality.

And those terrible steps and lanes? The school identifies curricular goals that they believe will improve teacher performance and then offer incentives for teachers to achieve them. Again, as American as apple pie and a Trump hat. Acting like teacher's do not put kids first is dead wrong. Teachers and their ambitions, abilities and dedication are normally distributed, just like the ambitions, abilities and dedication of professional workers in the private sector and maybe more, because they made an initial career choice with full knowledge of income earning limitations." Edward
"I personally don't think ED MN is evil, I just think they are focused on doing good by all of their employees. Especially the older ones who are more likely to have power within the organization. And there are unfortunate consequences of maximizing the compensation and job security for the older employees.

ED MN apparently has ~70,000 members, I am pretty sure they can afford good Labor Lawyers and sizable donations to friendly politicians. Otherwise the citizens of MN would not allow:

- the most expensive Teachers to congregate in the schools with the easiest students.

- the newest and least expensive Teachers to be placed with the students who need "the best" Teachers.

- paying and retaining people based on years served and degrees earned instead of their actual performance and capabilities

- the new gifted Teacher needs to wait 10 years before they earn what they are worth." G2A

"I believe there are 330 school districts in Minnesota. Each of these is a unique bargaining unit that stands on their own for wage and benefit negotiation: So no, not every bargaining unit has the benefit of good labor lawyers. These wages and benefits are the result of fair bargaining. And ain't that the American way?

If you look around your company, I'll bet that those employees with the highest degrees and greatest number of years served correlate well with compensation earned.

The MEA is certainly concerned with the needs of their members; but, to suggest that there is not sincere concern for quality educational results reflects an opinion not based on first hand experience." Edward

"Sorry, but independent is a pretty weak concept when all of the 330 contracts and pay schedules are public documents. The reality is that they use each other as a "point of reference" to justify their newest demand.

Please remember one of my favorite sayings. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." I agree that most teachers entered the field because they do care about children. Unfortunately the system, unions, and employment contracts cause all of the terrible issues I note above to occur.
Please address them if you disagree." G2A

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

FOX & Breitbart Seek to Distract

It seems that the Far Right media is much more interested in covering the 911 call / caller than the crime.  CNN FOX & Breitbart Seek to Distract The Trump organization:
And apparently FOX thinks the leaks are more important than the fact that Trump and crew were cavorting with one our country's biggest enemies.

Go figure...

What Warren Taught Us

Here is an interesting piece by Bill and Melinda Gates

Gates Notes Annual Letter

Now how to get all Americans to be more optimistic, that is the question?

Monday, February 13, 2017

GOP ACA Gripes Analyzed

This is an interesting analysis of the ACA areas that the GOP like to complain about. CNN Money Gripes Analyzed  And here is a recent related post on MP GOP Problem with ACA

Just a reminder, I see good and bad things about ACA.  Maybe that is why the GOP is having such a hard time replacing it...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

SNL Political Skits Rock

If you need some humor to start the week, here you go.  I wonder if Trump and his cabinet will ever stop giving them so many easy targets?

CNN Opinion Can SNL Topple Trump

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Unions and The Middle Class

So I got this interesting link of the Facebook of a friend who is a teacher in MN.  Of course he finds it horrifying, where as I find it just interesting.  The Atlantic Unions and the Middle Class

Apparently the Teachers in Wisconsin are starting to have to pay something for their great benefits.  This is normal for folks who work in private industry, but apparently it is pretty shocking to folks who have spent their career in the public sector. Then of course there is the idea of people moving between employers, and employers actively seeking to hire the best Teachers.

Then of course there are financial savings, which of course is deemed terrible by the Teachers.  Yet I am pretty sure the local tax payers are happy to hear about.

Wiki Wisc Act 10
WP Walker Anti-Union
NR Reforms Helped Wisc
GB Teachers Union New Role
JS A Hard Fast Fall

I especially liked this quote from the last source. It seems typical of many organizations.
"To labor leaders, Walker is the obvious villain, given his stated desire to conquer unions. In addition to Act 10, he signed a “right-to-work” measure blocking private employers and unions from requiring fees from workers. 
But missteps by labor leaders and a backlash against union political clout helped set the stage for Act 10 years ago, the Journal Sentinel found after interviewing dozens of current and former union members and leaders. And even union leaders see dim prospects for a return to power anytime soon. 
Dave Weiland, an Oconomowoc school district teacher and local union leader, thinks the state union was stuck in a 1920s mentality. 
“The gravy train was running, and they didn’t see the curve,” he said.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Why Do We Have Trump?

Well in case you thought I was going Liberal on you... MP Trump Worrisome
"The problem is that we are facing a critical shortage of critical thinkers and that is why we have Donald J Trump as our President..." Edward

"Well now there is something I can disagree with... I think we have Trump because the alternative was even scarier... And I think that desire by the Liberals to drag the USA into being a democratic socialist state is because there are few "critical thinkers" on that side of the equation.

Punishing people who learn, work, stay married, save, invest, etc with much higher tax rates so that it can given to reward people who do not learn, work, stay married, save, invest, etc seems like the ultimate in "not critical thinking".

Every wise responsible critical thinking parent understands the simple fact that one must promote responsible behaviors if one wants their child to grow up into a mature responsible independent adult. Just bailing them out and giving them things when they behave poorly enables their continued failure." G2A