Friday, July 28, 2017

GOP's skinny care fails as McCain says no; Sounds like Milo's fat-shaming

Everybody knows that in the wee hours of the morning, Senator John McCain imitated Nancy Reagan with his “Just Say No”. 

Vox has a pretty complete analysis of the GOP losing streak on health care here.  Now, the baseball team seems to be the only good thing in Washington.

Truthout has a disturbing perspective on the use of civil obedience and “solidarity” that I watch but don’t to myself, here.
Skinny care indeed.  No shame about fat-shaming, as per Milo. 

Bur HRC was claiming credit by email today for its call-in drive, but it was mostly McCain who gets credit.  Two other Republicans voted no.  Susan Collins said she would not take away people's health insurance.  

The Nation doesn't give McCain that much credit "for not killing his constituents", but calls 49 Republican Senators cowards.

If you want to relieve younger adults with student loans from higher premiums, fine.  Them you have to increase subsidies, unconditionally, for the poor and those with pre-existing conditions. You can’t give the rich people more tax breaks.  Do the math. Under federalism, you may have to "trust" the states a bit (which we couldn't on sodomy laws).  

But single payer doesn’t cure everything – like waiting lists, or effective care for some injuries.  The best systems do have a major private component.

For all the complaints about drug prices, think about the medications that are relatively cheap (like my blood pressure medicine).  What makes it cheap is free competition. The same is true for many over the counter medications. 
“From each according to his ability, for each according to his needs” 

Update: July 30

The biggest fear is that Trump could just shut down subsidies through insurance companies just to make Obamacare implode.  Price, on ABC this morning, seemed to contradict that. But on NBC Meet the Press, Tom Price said the courts seemed to be saying HHS can't legally make some payments to insurance companies not authorized by Congress. The New York Times has detailed analysis Sunday morning by Reed Abelson, Abby Goodnough, and Katie Thomas. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"Real world" football damages brains more than Internet addiction

Various reports indicate that evidence of brain injury (CTE) was found in 96% to 99% of the remains of former NFL and other football players in a study reported in JAMA (which I got familiar with during the AIDS epidemic).   CNN  summarizes it here  and EPSN here.

If you want to be known for smarts, don't play football or contact sports.  But don't get addicted to screens either.  Other good activities in the real world: music, drama, opera, kayaking, tennis, jogging, swimming, cycling (if you don't care about external cosmetics).  

Brain damage probably caused O.J.'s behavior. 
This fits Malcolm Galdwell’s idea of being a football fan as morally problematic. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Raise the debt ceiling by October or else

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times reports that Congress has until mid-October to raise the debt ceiling or risk quick defaults on federal obligations, in a story June 29, link here

The issue was briefly mentioned Sunday morning by Fareed Zakaria, who noted that, in the scramble over health care, Congress still has not gotten around to this issue.

President Donald Trump has sounded alarmingly reckless on this issue in the past, believing the US can renegotiate its debt. But Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has said that raising the ceiling and paying bills on time is essential.  Among ideological Republicans, there is a shocking disregard that this has to do with bills already ratcheted up.

I’ve discussed here before whether this impacts Social Security recipients, and the answer is mixed because legally the Social Trust fund shelters recipients somewhat.  But it would not be unconstitutional for Congress to stop benefits, even for existing retirees, even suddenly (Flemming v Nestor, 1960). 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Small business owners need to consider zoning laws, which in some cities are anti-competitive

Here’s an important story on zoning and home-based businesses, “How planners can liberate the next Amazon, by Olivia Gonza;ez and Nolan Gray, link
The news story is quite critical especially of Charlotte NC, which John Stossel had criticized in the 1990s for requiring someone to have a commercial kitchen to sell cookies.  My biggest concern would be book authors who have inventories (which normally are easily kept off site in a storage location), but which involve “sales” operations like taking credit cards or PayPal, as well as depending on Amazon (irony).

In the video below, note the businesses based on writing and niche websites.  Yet, in the 1990s, there were a few cases (in New Jersey, Illinois, and even Los Angeles) where writers were fined for working at home.

Charlotte Observer reports revision of the city’s rules is underway, link. There is also this City-Data link

In the past, established legacy companies may have worried about competition from upstarts with no overhead, and cities may worry about not collecting the tax revenue implicit with rentability of commercial real estate. Even Shark Tank’s Blog Maverick (Mark Cuban) has talked about this in the past. 

But shouldn't the main concern be whether a home-based business brings unreasonable traffic into an area? It makes sense that a home should not be a retail store with hours of being open to the public. But zoning seems to be about more sometimes, about eliminating upstart competition operating with no overhead. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Even as GOP health care bill seems to die, there is a lot of point to discussing the issues

While the Senate health care bill seems about to go down, I’ll make a couple of observations.

One is that Senator Susan Collins (R-Me) suggested using reinsurance pools as a way to cover people with pre-existing conditions in the environment of the Ted Cruz plan.

Another is that on Facebook, someone flamed me for not accepting the fact that when I was working in a career job for an establishment employer (until the end of 2001), my employer subsidized my own single health care premiums to about 80% with a tax-free benefit.  I could say I could have been paid the subsidy as salary and paid my own way, but then I would have been in a higher tax bracket. That observation seems to have been lost in the health care debate.

We need to do the (that is, our own) math. Not just let the CBO or Propac do it. 

John McCain’s surgery is disturbing, since he has had melanoma in the past.  He would be valuable in assisting Mattis make the right decisions on North Korea, which puts Trump out of his element. 
 Maybe Trump will visit him in Arizona this weekend, where the Nats play the D-backs, who keep McCain up late at night.  The D-backs are good this year. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Repeal without Replace? A flap last week over the Swiss model for health care?

Should the US emulate a health care system like Switzerland’s?  Forbes (Avik Roy) thinks so (link )  FEE (Kevin Williamson)  does not (link)  For one thing, there is no employer market.


McConnell talks about being willing to patch Obamacare temporarily now after this flap last week, while Trump now talks repeal without replace. 

Friday, July 07, 2017

Venus accident in Florida: neither driver was negligent

More recent security video seems to have caused police in Florida to reverse themselves on whether Venus Williams was at fault when she was T-boned in an intersection in Florida.’
ABC News has the latest story and video. Williams entered the intersection when the light was green.  She was delayed when another driver turned left in front of her. The light had changed to red.  A driver from the other direction (the victim) would have the responsibility to yield to her and let her clear the intersection if she had entered it legally in the first place, according to Florida law and probably most other states.

It's important that local officials provide adequate protected turns, adequate yellow light time, and adequate visibility at all intersections.  It is often difficult to drive perfectly legally at poorly designed intersections.  It is possible when no negligence of either driver is proved, the community might be at fault for a poorly constructed intersection. 

It’s also important that motorists carry enough coverage to pay legal expenses even when they are not at fault.  Umbrella policies may help with this need, but unfortunately umbrella policies bring in other issues unrelated to driving.

 There would be a question as to whether the car who had blocked Venus with a rude left turn could be tracked down and held responsible.

You cannot enter an intersection that is already blocked even with the light green (“don’t block the box – gets you points in NYC). 

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Chicago will require high school seniors to have adulthood plans to graduate

Here’s a new wrinkle on high school graduation.  Chicago won’t let seniors graduate without a concrete admission to a plan for the future.  That can be college, community college, a trade school, a job, an apprenticeship, or enlistment in the military.  The Washington Post has the story by Emma Brown July 3 here.

There are some questions.  For example, generally people can’t apply for jobs as police officers until 21.  People can’t work in bars until 21.

An interesting issue for churches is keeping college students around to help supervise youth trips (camps, missions, volunteers), some of them overseas.  They generally need a certain percentage of people over 18 going.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Little Rock, AR incident shows how vulnerable nightclubs are to customer behavior

The Power Ultra Lounge in downtown Little Rock. AR will be shut down permanently because of the violent behavior of one patron Saturday AM.

Will bars need to have security checks like the TSA to stay in business?

Of course, I get the NRA argument that if a “good guy” at Pulse had been armed, maybe many lives could have been saved.  But no establishment wants to allow weapons where alcohol is served.  An establishment could consider armed security guards.

Here is the KATV story.

Wikipedia attribution link for photo by Murrayultra, CCSA 3.0.