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Monday, November 11, 2013

Its basic economics

Oh the ignorance of a friendly facebook-shared article

President Obama is doing his best to stop insurance companies from taking advantage of the public by charging astronomical fees and finding any way possible to get out of their responsibility of covering their customers.

The fee’s are a natural response to the way the regulation has been set out in front of them for years. The new ACA regulation isn’t going to change that in the end.  Of course if you really wanted to fix prices, you just go all Venezuela on them.

and there is this bit on SNAP

Every dollar that was given to SNAP beneficiaries multiplies throughout communities.  A dollar spent at a local grocer, becomes an employee’s pay, which is spent on goods, that helps pay another employee’s salary, and so on.

Except you forgot to mention that the same dollar was taken from the local grocer in the first place. But its not $1.00, it’s a $1.50 because we need to pay for the people and infrastructure to run the SNAP program in the first place. So lets take that buck fifty, shave off the fifty and then feed it back into the economy.

And don’t get all “but I created a job with that fifty cents!” because you cant justify a government program because it creates jobs. It is inherently overhead. Let the grocer keep his fifty cents and put that directly into the economy where the would-be SNAP employee can get a job instead.

Republicans have the spine of a jellyfish.  They stand for absolutely nothing.  The only platform they seem to be able to get behind is their hatred of President Obama and all things Democratic

Wow. Just wow. Coming off of the “Its all Bush’s fault” era its hard to believe he can say that with a straight face.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Don’t arm people, let them arm themselves

We should arm …the teachers!
We should arm …the TSA agents!
There is a straw man argument that comes up every time someone mentions allowing citizens to protect themselves. That argument is something along the lines of “we shouldn’t require people of job XXX to carry handguns” because either we don’t trust them, or they don’t want to, or its expensive (guns polus training, etc.) or its just scary.
No one is saying that anyone should be forced to carry a weapon as part of their daily duties in order to “protect the children.” What they are saying is to just lift the restriction that prevents people from carrying a weapon. That’s a very important distinction. If you are not comfortable bearing that kind of responsibility, fine – we understand. If you don’t trust yourself with a gun, fine – we understand. But don’t project those self realizations onto others. For those who can take that burden on, let them.
Right now there are plenty of people who work in places that legally prohibited them from protecting themselves with the most effective tool for the job. If you just let them, you put the would be attackers on notice that they can no longer consider those places a safe haven to rampage during the time it takes for the local police to arrive.
Maybe then some of these murder/suicide plans just become suicide plans.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

“Hundreds of problems” means they have no idea how many

Yesterday in a Congressional hearing

Ms. Sebelius said officials had a list of “a couple of hundred functional fixes” that had to be made so the website,, would work smoothly for most users by Nov. 30, a deadline set by the administration.

This is likely utter nonsense. In software projects, especially large ones, one problem can easily mask others (and often does).

This is not a simple matter of having a list of all the known things that are wrong. Remember when the site first went online? People couldn’t register. Registration is required for everything else. That means they couldn’t even begin to figure out what else might be wrong until people started registering successfully. Now we are starting to see as they get that first part fixed.

As soon as we heard that they weren’t beginning to test things until it was way to late, I knew this was going to be a giant fiasco. Large government project? Check. Large complicated software project? Check? Doing testing all along? uh… wait… awwww crap!

This is very much a scenario of the “unknown unknowns”. We still have no idea how far down this rabbit hole goes.

If you tell me there are a handful of problems, I might believe you. If you tell me there are hundreds, you just admitted that you have no idea what is going on.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Regulation of E-Cigarette Stores

E-Cigarettes are sending the would-be regulators into fits. “It looks like a cigarette, so we must treat it like one!” they cry. The jury is out on whether they are good or bad for the person who uses them (or whether it should be allowed as a stealth pot delivery device) But do they fit into existing local smoking regulations? I should think not. Ostensibly, we have draconian no-smoking zones mandated by the local city council because it’s a nuisance and a health risk to everyone nearby. E Cigarettes are neither, unless you want to ban anything that can create water vapor in tiny amounts – like pots of water in the kitchens, or puddles on a warm day.

One local city in north Texas is wrestling with this false emergency right now

Eventually, the FDA will come out with rules governing the labeling and distribution of e-cigarettes, but cities will still be left to decide things like whether regulations like indoor smoking bans apply to vaping as well.

The answer is here a “no” but I’m only a little surprised that there is actually any debate for what is clearly a simple answer.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hide the Incline! Why HealthCare.Gov doesn’t just show you the money.


imageWhen the site went live, I was curious how much health plans might be so I tried to log in and browse the options. Of course, you cannot just do that. You have to create an account. Creating the account requires extensive personal information that I am unwilling to put into the system at this time (I already have a plan thank-you-very-much and there is only so much I’m willing to give up to satisfy curiosity). So that’s where I bailed out.

It turns out that was a deliberate decision and not just the boneheaded oversight that I assumed it was.

“ was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.” (Emphasis added.)

So yes, prices are going up. And going up so much that they are concerned that without a federal handout, it will immediately scare everyone away.

Taking a cue from the global warming guys, how about we call this “Hide the incline!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Real time news edits

Its interesting to note how the internet saves stuff for us. I was looking for news on the Navy Yard shooting and Bing popped this up.image

I clicked through and noticed a slight wording change in the first sentence.image

I wonder what the editorial conversation was that prompted the language change from “assault rifle” to “semiautomatic rifle” and not to “assault weapon”.

“Assault rifle” is clearly wrong if it was indeed a semi-automatic. But most media coverage these days likes to describe any scary-looking-black-modern-rifle as an “assault weapon”

Update (11:14 am): Looks like I spoke to soon. There was another edit!


So by my count, it was assault rifle, changed to semiautomatic rifle, and then changed back to assault rifle.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Presidential mailbox: Make school affordable! edition

So I got a new email from Mr. Obama. Lets review it.

Michelle and I wouldn't be in the White House today if it weren't for our college educations.
It wasn't cheap. We didn't finish paying off our student loans until about nine years ago.

You graduated from Harvard in 1991, finished paying off school debts 2004. That’s 13 years. Of course, a Harvard law school debt is a large one. And working as a Lecturer and author until 2004 probably didn’t help paying off that large debt.

That's why it's been a personal mission of mine to make higher education more affordable for more Americans -- and starting today, I'm hitting the road to talk about real reforms to fundamentally rethink how we pay for college in this country.

Do tell.

Right now, the average student who takes out loans to pay for school graduates with more than $26,000 in debt. Something's got to change -- it's not enough just to tinker around the edges. We've got to shake up the current system.

Agreed. Let’s shake it up. But the question is, how?

My plan won't be popular with everybody, especially those who profit from the way things are. But we owe it to our students to make sure that our colleges are working for them.
While we'll need Congress' help to get some of this done, my administration will continue to do what we can to make sure quality, affordable higher education is in reach for millions more young Americans.

Like what?

So far, we've taken some good steps forward. We've published college scorecards to ensure that families are getting the best information as they pick a school, doubled funding for Pell grants, and established a college tax credit. And thanks to the income-based repayment program, which caps student loan payments based on new graduates' incomes, 1.6 million young Americans can keep more money in their pockets.

You mean you’ve made it easier to take on more debt and are giving away more money? Awesome. I’m sure that is going to bring down the cost of college everywhere. Its just basic economics: Free Money = Lower Prices. Everybody knows that.

But there's much more we can and should do -- this is key to creating a better bargain for the middle class.
That's something I've talked a lot about -- every day, I think about what I can do to live up to it.
That's why I'm calling on Congress to tackle rising tuition costs and pass reforms, so families can get a better bargain when it comes to getting a world-class education.
I'm counting on OFA supporters to be part of this fight. Not much gets done in Washington without the voices of people like you.
Add your name:

HOW?!?!! “Tackle rising tuition costs” sounds like price controls to me. And we all know how well that works. But since not much gets done without my voice, I better go sign my name to this vague policy-less policy on your website. (I’ll be right back!)

PS – Shaking the system up does not mean allowing more debt. It means doing drastic things to reduce the actual cost of college… like saying “Hey Dude, maybe you don’t need to go to college”