Monday, December 7, 2009

Addendum to HCR (next post)...

The job of state government in Health Care:

1. Make sure that there is sufficient educational capacity to train: doctors, nurses and all the support staff.

2. Make sure there are sufficient facilities, including mobile units for rural areas (the vast majority of Texas is rural), for routine health care.

3. Make sure sufficient health care personnel are available to serve everybody in the state.

These services are aided by everyone having health care, including the choice of a strong, public option.

Why Health Care Reform has stalled…

The party of ‘NO’ (a.k.a., Republican) is throwing up all manner of obstruction to stop Health Care Reform (HCR) legislation.


Because they are terrified of success!

If HCR was going to fail the ‘NO’ party would have feigned misgivings, then grudgingly allowed the legislation to pass. The whole debate about HCR is to prevent a Democratic Party success prior to the 2010 election. If HCR legislation barely passes just before the elections the ‘NO’ folks could use scare tactics about the new programs while voters go to the polls.

If one looks at all the industrialized and developing countries of the world, you’ll find that they all have at least a strong, public, health care option, cover nearly everybody and pay no more than half what Americans pay for their current health care coverage, if they can get it.

The ‘NO’ say HCR will cause restricted access to health care. If you have done every preventative measure since you were developing in the womb, then you require less treatment for medical surprises; problems were prevented or treated earlier and easier (appears to be restricted access).

The ‘NO’ say the HCR will cost more. When medical professionals are paid, generous, appropriate salaries, instead of billing per incident (our dominant current practice), the incidences of overdoing everything, at least twice, will stop.

If a public health option was not a good idea, our legislators should not have single (tax) payer, health insurance; an even more socialist option.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Outsourcing manufacturing...

Today I am starting with a quick quiz.


Question 1) What do you get when you move a factory from inside the USA to a location outside the USA?

Question 2) What do you lose when you move a factory from inside the USA to a location outside the USA?

Question 3) What is the name of this process?

1) You get a reasonably equivalent product made less expensively.
2) You lose people that can afford your product (a.k.a., customers).
3) This process is known as: Saving Too Much Money!

Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company (not known as a working class hero), understood that an employee who could afford to buy the product that he or she helps to make increases one’s customer base (a.k.a., growing the business).

A question to promote discussion:
1) How does one’s vendor manufacture an equivalent product for less money, even after shipping costs are factored in, while still making a profit?

Answers may be found in an old post on this very blog!

Continuing… We are in a recession where jobs are disappearing by the millions! How is it going to help the consumers, who are approximately 70% of the economy, when their jobs continue to reappear outside of our country?

If you are angry when you think about what you’ve just read, then you understand the problem and need to discover how you might become a part of the solution; every little contributory effort counts.

If you don’t see a point to this post, then you are probably part of the management teams sending these jobs overseas and need to remember that your job is also able to be done by folks in countries that have pay rates significantly lower than yours.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What are we to do?

It was reported, in the New York Times, that a letter was sent by seven former CIA directors asking President Obama to stop the Justice Department’s investigation into past abuses… These issues have, they stated, already been investigated. So, reviewing these events will not produce any new, more embarrassing, information about illegal activities. Will they?

The former directors don’t seem to understand that the rule of law must apply to everyone to be effective. The people at any government agency must evaluate how best to do their jobs and if they feel it is necessary to operate outside the law, there will be consequences.

The directors say that there will be disclosures that will help al Qaeda elude capture… Like Osama Bin ‘Forgotten?’

We are a nation of laws that encourages others to follow our lead. Are we to become hypocrites? Do we want others to follow that lead?

Remember, “People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.” That is a quote from a former President of these United States: Bill Clinton.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thoughts for today...

“Blue Dog” Democrats, and others, say that they want to make sure that health care reform controls cost.

Every other industrialized country in the world has at least a public health insurance option, cover nearly everybody and pay less than half (per capita) of what we pay.

The only folks who don’t understand this simple fact are those looking for an excuse to do nothing.

In the meantime… don’t forget to re-regulate the financial services (a.k.a., the market, Wall Street) industries!

The market defines innovation as finding new ways to avoid: regulation, review and responsibility.

Wall Street spews tales of its own wisdom and the incompetence of government, while seeking bail-outs from said government (requiring enormous quantities of the taxpayer’s money) when they find they’re snared in a trap of their own making; accepting dollars while admitting no culpability.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dear Progressive Democrats and Independents,

We’ve allowed others to control some of our issues, and it is well past time that we took control back.

‘Pro-choice’ and ‘family planning’ have been mislabeled as ‘pro-abortion.’ Ask any Republican you care to why they belong to the ‘retro-active abortion’ party. How is it acceptable to kill an adult, while claiming to be ‘pro-life?’

To those who say that the government should not be involved in anything, because the government can’t do anything right… How did we come to live in the country that is the only super-power in the entire world? It is the strength of the U.S. military; part of our federal government and state military reserves!

Heard of the Internet or GPS? They were developed by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency); a part of the military and federal government!

Only 66 years after the first, manned, powered flight one country landed people on the moon and returned them safely to Earth; NASA, a federal government agency, accomplished it. Efforts by NASA, DARPA, NSF, NIH, NSA, etc… have led to the computer on your lap, phone in your pocket, music and movies stored on media the size of a commemorative postage stamp, etc…

Have you heard of one of the world’s foremost cancer research and treatment centers? MD Anderson Cancer Center, a part of the UT system. How about the Scott and White clinics, hospitals and research center? These are a part of the TX A&M system.

Did you know that two, of three, top tier universities in TX are public universities? UT Austin and TX A&M College Station!

The roads, schools, emergency service providers, airports, seaports, post office, water, sewage, etc… The things one takes for granted, are brought to you by your municipal, state or federal governments, or by a contractor to same.

Is government perfect? No. Does it get everything right, all the time? No. Do you know of any individual or institution that can answer yes?

If someone tells you that there shouldn’t be a public health option, because the government can’t do anything right… Tell them that they need to be grateful that the rock they dwell beneath is here in the USA, because here they are free to choose not to understand the simple facts listed above.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The artificial dispute twixt science and religion.

There is an artificial conflict between science and religion being pursued and exacerbated by those whose intent is more feudal than religious. Religion has long explained the unknown to human society, because, “I don’t know,” is the most difficult pronouncement most people can imagine.

As people began to observe and understand the world around them, natural curiosity encouraged efforts to discover ever more. Knowledge became powerful, and some used it to accrue social power, status and/or material wealth. Some used what was known as a basis for learning more and others learned so that they might teach and encourage more folks to do the same… The groups are not mutually exclusive.

O’er the course of human development people have often associated knowledge with mystical or religious authority, and those who would leverage that for power and wealth tried hard to keep information to themselves. By the Renaissance period of the western world, knowledge had become too widespread and the genie was out of the bottle.

Losing control of knowledge was bothersome, but not overwhelming to the aristocrats (who were rapidly evolving into plutocrats of the post feudal period), because high social status was still largely limited to white, wealthy men and their entourages.

Events of the Renaissance had led to scientific and social experimentation that spawned a phrase which became the basis of a new nation: “…that all men are created equal.” That phrase was to lead to a society that would, eventually, resemble that remark.

There has always been (and always will be) a segment of the population that finds the aforementioned phrase, at best, distasteful. Now, as the phrase approaches near complete social acceptance and practice, we begin to see an increasingly restive movement of plutocrats, aristocrat wannabes, (and their sycophants) attempting the restoration of old ways.

Trying to return to the past has been an effort governed largely by civility, but as desperation rises civility often falls by the wayside. In population, we who are melanin challenged are due to become the largest minority in the USA. In positions of wealth and power, there is an ever increasing presence of women and less melanin challenged minorities.

Religion can be interpreted to appear as if it conflicts with science in a manner that allows it to be used as a lever against the social progress of the last millennia. That most scientists have religious beliefs, and most religions are comfortable with the progress of science specifically, and society generally, disproves the fantasy of those desperate for a return to anachronistic ways.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What the party of, "NO," know, but aren't telling.

A few things to consider…

On Taxes:

As one’s income rises so does one’s tax rate, but what also rises is the number of pages, of the tens of thousands of pages, of tax code that apply to you; net tax rate actually declines.

On Public Health Insurance:

Study after study reveals that in the USA we pay far more, and get far less, for health insurance benefits than in any other country in the industrialized and developing nations of the world.

The party of, “NO,” says we will wind up with health care like the Canadians; where the doctors come south (to the USA) to make more money and patients go north (to Canada) to get better health care.

On Capitalism:

Unregulated markets have proven time and again that they’re like toddlers let loose in a grocery store; messes will be made and things will get broken.

Toddlers are newly mobile, curious children and Wall Street is populated by highly educated adults; theoretically. If you study the Ups and Downs of the US economy you’ll note a common underlying theme: compensation often increases exponentially as a Wall Street employee demonstrates less and less understanding of risk and the unintended consequences thereof.

On the Party of, “NO:”

The party of, “NO,” receives a great deal of consideration (money and other valuable trinkets) from lobbyists representing the, “free market,” to allow said market folks to play in an unregulated arena of other people’s money. When the folks on Wall Street inevitably take excessive risks and lose that money, they expect the government will bail them out, with taxpayer’s (more of those other people’s money) dollars, while assessing no blame; remember that US Treasury Secretary Paulson demanded $700 billion taxpayers’ dollars: no restrictions!

If the party of, “NO,” has it’s way the enormous, federal deficit will resume its 30 years of growth and Wall Street’s gaming will continue without accountability; just because they made the mess…


Public (or Single Payer) Health Insurance could clear the way to eliminate: Medicare, Medicaid and the Veteran’s Health System! Put that in your budget calculator!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Capitalist v. Government Tango

The print, radio and television mouthpieces of capitalism are expressing trepidation about the federal government’s ousting of CEOs. Thus demonstrating, once again, that when one (or more) doesn’t understand that something’s in their best interest they’ll object, no matter how ignorant it paints them.

The American auto manufacturers (once known as the big three) came to the US government, hat in hand, asking for billions of dollars in federal (read: taxpayer’s) assistance; similar to what they’d done in the 1980s. Reappearing on the government’s doorstep cemented the reputation, as incompetent, of the American auto industries’ executives.

The financial services industries, and the previous administration, waited till the US economy was in freefall before coming to the folks that have always bailed them out before: the American taxpayer. Perhaps they were concerned that the taxpayer would tire of freeing these folks from the traps that they’d set for themselves; possibly even hold them accountable, finally.

Companies, auto and finance, were allowed to grow, “too big to fail,” in an unregulated business environment. They demonstrated certainty that they wouldn’t have to face the consequences, intended or otherwise, of their actions.

The vast majority of the aforementioned industry’s leaders seem terrified of the bankruptcy courts, because the proceedings become public record. Corporate legal departments move rapidly to seal said records, but apparently there is insufficient confidence in the success of such an effort.

Taxpayers have provided the money to recover from all the recessions and depressions that have occurred since capitalism took root in the world. Imperial and mercantile economies were also built on the backs working folks; nothing new here. What is reasonably new is the ability of voters, in a democratic republic, to call for an accounting of the expenditures and that makes the plutocrats nervous.

When one looks at the US federal government’s history of taking control of businesses it should be remembered that that government took over some industries after the Great Depression and it was recovering the economy prior to the start of our active engagement in World War II; contrary to some recent attempts to rewrite that bit of history. One also needs to remember that the US war effort during WWII was successfully run by the War Department (a.k.a., the Department of Defense).

It is true that the government should not run most industry, excepting most common carriage business efforts. It has, however, been clearly demonstrated (time and again) that when capitalism is allowed to operate in an unregulated environment it gets massively carried away with itself: creating innovation, profiting from it, creating excess (recurring irrational exuberance), leading to bubbles, bubbles burst in spectacular and intentionally unanticipated (read: unprofitable to anticipate) fashion.

The government/taxpayer, once again, needs to underwrite, clean up and re-regulate the businesses that undermined the economy; then move back to the sidelines. There needs to be a friendly, continuous competition between the capitalists, the regulators and the voters/customers, because none work best on their own.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Please, don't fret o'er the budget; TX style!

It is interesting, almost humorous (from a pathetic perspective), that the person who’s been the Chairman of the TX Senate’s Finance Committee for multiple legislative sessions, Steve Ogden, has noted that (after participating in the Republican state legislative majority’s reduction in regulation, revenue and expenditures) there are unfunded obligations (promises made, funding forgotten) in many of the state’s permanent investment funds (e.g., the Permanent University Fund, the Employee’s Retirement System, the Teacher’s Retirement System, etc…).

After years spent creating the problem Senator Ogden is proposing legislation to appear as if he were addressing said problems. The proposed investment board oversight should have been in place already, conflicts of interest a matter of public record and fiduciary responsibility clearly defined long ago. The current economic downturn, that has affected everybody’s investment funds, has exacerbated the long-standing lack of state funding and will only be solved when financial markets, as well as state funding, recover; irrespective of the Senator’s current legislation.

Pretending to address the state’s permanent funds problems, erecting state obstacles to stem cell research (attention: all Scott & White Hospital [TX A&M System] and MD Anderson Cancer Center [UT System] aficionados) and frothing with 2nd amendment issues (VA quietly slapped gun and ammo ownership restrictions on folks under court ordered psychiatric care after one of the aforementioned individuals went on a killing spree at Virginia Tech)...

Mayhaps all this will draw attention away from the underfunded, state, biennial budget; or not!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why Texans need change of their own.

The Dallas Morning News has a series of articles about Texas under the banner: State of Neglect. The Austin American Statesman has a series of articles on privatization of the state’s business that asks key questions:
1. How much the state of Texas has contracted to for-profit companies?
2. How much have we, the taxpayers, saved?

Both answers: “no one knows.”

We know of a very public failure of a contract between TX Health and Human Services and Accenture LLP. We also know of the serious difficulties with the contract between the TX Department of Information Resources and IBM. Then there’s the lesser known failure of the Camino Columbia private toll road in south TX.

The state’s budget isn’t in the red, because the TX constitution doesn’t allow deficits. The state has no documentation to show that the budget has been met by outsourcing, but there is a plethora of proof of the fact that the budget has been met by cutting state services; hence the State of Neglect.

The state’s expenditures are not declining while things get better, and there is no data being brandished that demonstrates where and how outsourcing is improving services while reducing cost, yet…

The US Department of Justice has found serious problems in the way Texas cares for its institutionalized people with mental health problems, and some folks are calling this a reason to continue to outsource the state’s work. I maintain that this is the continued effort of the state’s majority party trying to justify their claim of government as the problem, by governing badly.

In order to do better at serving Texans and meet budget guidelines the current legislative session would need to find a way to increase the state’s revenue in a soured economy. That would be best accomplished in a manner I suggested in the previous post. That would require the current majority party in both legislative bodies and the governor’s office to admit that they can’t deliver everything and a tax cut.

Those least able to afford the day to day costs of living, let alone lobby their state government, can expect life to get a little rougher as the State of Neglect is maintained.

There are more state, elected offices that will be contested in 2010. Make sure to register and vote for change here in Texas, too!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Taxation suggestions for Texas.

I hope to be wrong, but I think the 2009, TX, legislative priority will be an attempt to justify and continue the, "everything and a tax cut," nonsense. The majority in the legislature team with the governor to try to spend the rainy day savings account (RDSA) to cover the fraud. The RDSA grew rapidly while the price of fuel (gas and diesel) hovered around four dollars a gallon, but those days are gone; they’ll return, but nobody knows when. So spending the RDSA will deplete another valuable resource.

There will be active resistance to funding necessary/overdue transportation infrastructure via a rise in the state's, long dormant and oft re-directed, fuel tax.

There will be active resistance to the state raising the funds needed to get the state out of property taxes, reduce the state's need for high sales taxes and end the fraud of the 'business tax.'

The state needs a simple, clear and low, state income tax (unlike the complex, loop-hole infested, federal income tax).

Your income can not be reappraised higher, lowered statewide only to be increased locally, doesn't cause the cost of shopping to increase nearly 10% and doesn't add many thousands of dollars a year to home ownership.

Nobody likes paying taxes, but there needs to be organized, responsible governance of society and that isn't free.