• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Face It ....

"Face it -- the GOP Doesn't Really Matter When it Comes to Health Care." (truthout.org)

Comment: Yeah -- the Demorats are bought well enough.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Insinews Strikes Again

The Blather:


Or so 'quoths' BBC.....

The Note: My oh my! And Iran supplied the photo too? Or perhaps it was taken from Special Agent Clouseau's hidden shoe heel camera.... Oh wait ! It's a clip from the remastered version of Metropolis. No! No! Wrong again, it's Albrecht's Forge from Bayreuth's latest futurama version of Das Rheingold

Nah....it's just rotten stench fobbing itself off as news. When "news" funnels (aka the Mudia) start to publish unattributed "illustrative" photos cribbed from some Hollywood cutting room and insinuating by their position that they are the real thing, we know that what we are being served is not news, probably not true and simply the stinking fish some political faction wants us to swallow whole.

Obama: Iran must act now!

Israel Calm but determined!

World on Alert....

Save the Badgers Condemns Underground....

Blah, blah, blah, YAWN.

©WCG, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Qui Quibus

The News:
Not within 24 hours of President Obama's decision to down-grade America's forward based missle defense in Czecho-Polakia than the New York Times ponders "Now, the question is whether Russia will do more to help prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons." [ here ]

The Note: Well... the quibus of the matter was sort of obvious, but the Times might have waited for a tad more decentish interval.

Anyone who believed the prior administration's claim that America's forward based defense in Eastern Europe was directed at protecting Paris from Persia is probably one of those person who also believes you can get "new growth" hair from a spray can. Clear and explicit NeoCon doctrine has always called for the encirclement and constriction of Russia. That's what Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia and Turkestan were all about. Certainly the Russians weren't fooled.

The only people fooled by the claim that the missles in Poland were aimed at "defending" against missiles in Iran were the New York Times and the gullible intelectufools who slurp their thought from the Times' trough.

This is not to say that the USA and its backer doesn't fuss about Iran. It does, obsessionally. It is simply to say that the forward based defense perimeter (to use NeoCon jargon) in Eastern Europe was directed east not south. Duh.

Now comes Obama, "improving" relations with Russia, dusting off the ol' Clinton-Albright pogey bait of NATO cooperation and what not. As a sweetner Obama downgrades (but does not entirely remove) our eastern defense shield. Okeee... quiz of the week: quid pro quo?

What do we need from the Russians? Help in committing geo-political suicide in AfPakistan? They are already gladly providing that. Trashing hardware contracts with Venezuela? For Venezuela, Richard, for Venezuela? Nah... all the big boys peddle armaments; the price is too much. Disuading Russia from rocking with Brazil, India and China to the tune of "It's our party and we'll laugh it we want to" ? Nah.. the payoff is not enough.

So what's left?

Assuming supposed cold-war realities, from an American point of view the trade off is actually pretty insane. We give up an assumedly needed deterrence against real Russian missles in order to protect ourselves and our "European partners" from non-existent, long range Iranian missles?

Qui quibus quod quoque qui quae quo?

Amusing, really.

©WCG, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama's Neo Trickledown

The News:
At last, Fauxbama gave his Health Talk to the Nation, the details of which can be found here:

The Note: One perhaps might sigh that at last the farce is over. Alas it has only just begun. Aristotle suggested that a good place to begin anything was at the beginning, and so to understand the villainy of the farce we begin by asking: what is insurance?
Insurance is a contract for remuneration in the event of a condition. I pay Company money now in consideration of the Company's promise to pay me should a specified event occur; for example a storm that sinks my spice-ship to the Orient. I fear the event might happen; the Company calculates that it will not. If the event does not happen we are both happy. If it does, I am happy to be covered.

It makes sense to insure against anomalies that might happen, not only strikes of lightning and car crashes but arguably, if one is young, against strange illnesses. However it makes no business sense for a company to insure against something that will happen, such as old age and terminal diseases. The concept of insurance was not designed with conditions certain in mind.

To be sure, from the insured's point of view, it makes little difference. He's paid premiums for something that will happen, the only unknown being when. Depending on when, he will usually receive at least the future value of what he paid in.

But from the Company's point of view the certainty of the pay-out event is a disaster, for obvious reasons. As a result medical insurance companies protect themselves by not insuring those who need coverage most and by dumping those who do when they are sick.

"Not insuring" is not limited to those with pre-existing conditions, it includes not insuring high risk people and anyone over 65, the age at which more people start to fall seriously ill. "Dumping" includes anyone who has purchased insurance at all.

This "off-loading" of contractual obligatons is perfectly legal. U.S. law allows it. It is simply government backed theft by fraudulent pretences. It is State supported cruelty.

Obama understands full well the depraved villainy of this "system". He talked about it in his speech.

The problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem of the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today. More and more Americans worry that if you move, lose your job, or change your job, you’ll lose your health insurance too. More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won’t pay the full cost of care. It happens every day.

One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn’t reported gallstones that he didn’t even know about. They delayed his treatment, and he died

He knows, as he said in February, that medico/insurance costs "cause[] a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds" and that "by the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes." He knows that "[i]n the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, one million more Americans have lost their health insurance." He knows that we are the only nation on earth that allows for such a system and he knows that it is nothing less than a callous, diabolical depravity.

"These are the facts. Nobody disputes them. We know we must reform this system. The only question is how."
Discarding a "single payer" system like that in Canada, Obama went on to say

"I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn’t, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch. And that is precisely what those of you in Congress have tried to do over the past several months."
Is he fucking nuts or is he simple a smoothy for the crooks? The paradigm of insuring against what will happen is economically illogical and fundamentally insane. That is precisely why insurance companies are not in the business of insuring those over 65. This "remodelling" cannot work because it makes no sense. The only "building" that can be done is to paper over a putrid and festering evil.

The only way to provide health care to all is to spread the costs among all. And the only way to spread the costs among all fairly and reliably and affordably is to take the profit motive out of the equation. Nothing else makes sense. Nothing else can be "built upon".

But building on rotten timbers, Obama now proposes to require everyone to buy into a system that is fundamentally criminal and evil. In return "it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition." Well duh... that's pretty tautological isn't it? If everyone is required to purchase insurance it pretty much follows that all insurance companies must provide it. It does, only the proposals never actually required the insurance companies to provide anything at all.

It was actually unclear whether the prohibition against pre-existing condition denial applies to those who already have insurance (as per what he said in congress) or also applied to those looking for insurance (as per what was posted on the White House web page.)

For the sake of argument, we can assume the more charitable hypothesis, and that it will apply to everyone. We can also assume that once you have insurance "it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most." In other words, gallopping to the rescue Obama promises that "insurance" will really mean "insurance" once everybody is required to buy "insurance". Rejoice! The Second Coming is nigh.

For those who somehow loose or still don't have insurance, Obama proposes a "new insurance exchange – a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers." Furthermore, "all insurance companies that want access to this new marketplace will have to abide by the consumer protections I already mentioned." -- i.e. they will have to actually provide "insurance" as opposed to engaging in outright theft by false pretences. Wow!

This wonderful exchange will not take effect for four years, so don't get sick before then! And if you still can't afford these assumedly lower priced plans, the Government will pitch in and help you with "tax credits". One way or another the insurance companies will get your business.

But will they want it? Comparing plan element 1 with plan element 2 reveals a curious anomaly: while all of us will be required to purchase insurance, insurance companies will only have an "incentive" to provide it. Nothing in these proposals required the insurance companies to offer anything. The president continued,

"I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business [duh!] They provide a legitimate service [gag] , and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors [awww...]. I just want to hold them accountable [whew...]."
As for the public option?

"an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Let me be clear – it would only be an option for those who don’t have insurance..... " "it would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects" and "we believe that less than 5% of Americans would sign up" even though "a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort I’ve proposed tonight."

Do they not teach math at Harvard? Since when is "a strong majority" anything close to 5%? A public option formed around a 5% pool and limited to premiums it collects will not be able to afford to mow your damn lawn. If, on the other hand something close to a strong majority of Americans do sign up for it, the option will do more than "keep the insurance companies honest" it will put them out of business.

As for this key and controversial "option" Obama's speech offered nothing but shuck and jive. So that at last, at least, we've seen some ethnicity. But the problem with bullshit is that there is no telling which way it will slide. Is it a Trojan Horse aimed to penetrate Republican stonewalling? Or is it a sop to "the majority of Americans" that will be hedged about by all sorts of conditions (e.g. "for those who cannot afford") and shrouded pixie dust ("it could provide a good deal for consumers.")?

We should take Obama at his word that "the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage affordable for those without it" and that he sees the Public Option as a means towards this end and not a true alternative per se. In other words, it is not really an option at all, but simply one of several "incentives" to end insurance company abuses.

The way to end insurance company "abuses" is to criminalize them and start handing out Three Strike sentences to scum bags that CEO these criminal outfits. It is perfectly possible to use insurance companies as an administrative mechanism for delivering health care. I believe that is the system Germany uses. But the way to achieve that is to directly regulate what they must and cannot do: prescribe coverage standards, set premiums and put limits on profits. Instead, Obama hopes to "incentivize" these criminals with a variety of non-compulsory "mechanisms"

It is nothing short revolting. This is the same free-market, incentive approach that just handed a trillion dollars to the very culprits that caused the global recession in the hopes that they would "start lending again." And as Obama's very speech last night admitted, six months into the fattened bottom line, those scumbags haven't lent out a dime. They have simply pocketted the money and closed their doors. We are now to believe that insurance companies, the biggest and vilest theives of all are going to respond to a bunch of "incentives" the most serious of which will have to be "self-supporting" and won't take effect for four years in any case?

In four years the Republoscum will be in c:ontrol and the public option will be on par with a Wisconsin dairy cooperative.

I wish I could believe that Obama is trying to sneak true reform past the corporate criminals and their craven whores in Congress. But everything he has done thus far indicates otherwise. The essence of Obama's political economy is simply Neo-Trickledown

Classical, laissez faire trickledown is based on the proposition that allowing private enterprise to pursue its own interests without hinderances will produce sufficient collateral benefits for society as a whole to justify the absence of regulation. As Alexander Pope put it, "Self interest and social are but the same."

Of course, no system, howsoever liberal, has ever practiced pure laissez faire. At all times, governments have promoted and encouraged enterprise by a variety of fiscal and legal devices: patents, copyrights, licenses, monopolies, easy credit, favorable loans, tax credits and lower tax rates. But aside from certain exceptional situations -- as the vast grants of land parcels to railroads -- most of these devices have fallen into the category of stimuli; and given the conditions at the time, even the land grants to railroads could arguably be regarded as a stimulus.

Obama's Neo-Trickledown crosses the line into outright gifts whereby the public collectively or as individuals pay hard cash in the trillions to private corporations in the hope that this hand out will incentivize them to trickle a little more back our way. In fact, the trillions dumped on the banks were given virtually without conditions, on a one page signed request [here].

This is fiscal insanity. This is worse than robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is robbing yourself on a prayer of receiving back a pittance. But at least we know what Fauxbama is about. Hope is on the way! Indeed.

©WCG, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Surf's Up in the Economy!

The News:
"U.S. companies cut more jobs than forecast in August and boosted their workers’ productivity the most since 2003 in the second quarter, signaling employers are seeking to cut costs further even as the economy stabilizes." (Bloomberg)

The Note: This like saying, "Hey! Surf's up!" as hurrican Jimena rages swirling destruction on Baja.

We've always wondered what "productivity" meant. Like most people and, indeed, like most econ textbooks, we've thought of productivity in terms of efficiency: widgets cranked out per hour. Indeed, "productivity qua efficiency" is a standard Capitalist Mantra -- the "build a better mouse trap" saw. The notion foisted is that a "vibrant free market economy" will replace inefficient home spinning wheels (which take six months of gyrations to come up with a wool blanket) with moden mechanical robo-looms (which can turn out a ton of blankets in six hours. ) This is why capitalism is such a magical and wonderful thing.

But how is this productivity actually measured? Does the US Bureau of Labor Statistics send out inspectors with stop watches to time and measure the nut-tightening prowess of a robo-arm and compare it with Charlie Chaplin's frantic efforts taken as a sort of "base line" ? That would measure efficiency, no doubt, but, given the size and complexity of our economy it would be extremely labor intensive and time consuming to conduct such studies on a quarterly basis. Is this the way productivity is really measured? Nooooo. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics puts it this way:

"Productivity is a measure of economic efficiency which shows how effectively economic inputs are converted into output.

"Output per hour of all persons—labor productivity—is the most commonly used productivity measure. Labor is an easily-identified input to virtually every production process.

"Unit labor costs are calculated by dividing total labor compensation by real output or —- equivalently —— by dividing hourly compensation by productivity.

"That is, unit labor costs = total labor compensation / real output ...,

"Thus, increases in productivity lower unit labor costs while increases in hourly compensation raise them."
In other words "productivity" which started out as having something to do with "efficiency" ends up having everything to do with "costs" -- and in particular "labor costs" -- or "worker compensation" as in dollars per hour or retirement and health care benefits.

Sooooo... the headlines really read

Rejoice sucker.

For more accurate measurements and nuances see Statistics Canada