Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Why support of single-payer health insurance for the US is naive



Scott W. Atlas reminds us of the difficulties of implementing a single payer “Medicare for All” healthcare system that would actually work, in a Wall Street Journal (about the "false promise") op-ed Tuesday Nov. 13.

Britain’s NHS is plagued by long waits even for life-saving treatments.  So is Canada’s single payer.
   
Germany and Switzerland (even France) have partially private systems involving employers, but better regulated than in the U.S. 


In 1998, I was able to get novel surgery immediately in Minneapolis for an acetabular fracture in a convenience store fall on a wet floor, on an employer policy.  I returned to work quickly and full activity (even if on crutches for a while) very quickly.  I remember the Academy Awards fundraiser party where I put away the crutches for the first time.

In the City Journal video above, libertarian journalist John Stossel plays devil’s advocate.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A visit to Trump country: the economy in most of it is not doing well



I did a little citizen journalism this past weekend in the Pittsburgh area.  Some of it is documented on the “Bills Media Reviews” Wordpress blog – but I want to make a note that I drove through some towns in far western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio that are not doing very well.

Oddly, there is a nuclear power plant (West Beaver) near the Ohio line in Midland-ShippingPort, PA.  There is a new performing arts center in Midland.  But the businesses in most of the towns around there look decayed, and it was hard to find much that was open (Monday, November 12, legal holiday, middle of the day).  East Liverpool, Ohio, I found a diner with delicious hot dogs downtown and pretty crowded, but not much else downtown seemed to be open.

Generally, I didn’t find many major franchise or brand businesses – like fast food, major gas stations and convenience stores, major pharmacies or department stores (CVS, Walmart), etc. 
I have another blog devoted to trademark law, so when I see an areas without the presence of major chain store brands – which people hate, I know – that’s a sign of economic depression and poor employment.  Likewise, the infrastructure, and roads, are not in good shape, even street signs are wrong.

  
This area is Trump country.  Everybody here hates the elites and voted for him.  In a few towns, Trump may have saved some jobs, and he may have helped some specialized businesses in Ohio (I have a relative who owns a process-controller software company and he says Trump has been good for him).  But generally, the working people with relatively less education in these areas are still doing very poorly in “Trump” country.  The economies of most of these rust belt towns are not good.
So what do people in these towns need?  Not college education.  Vocational training?  Ask “Economic Invincibility”. 


 I don't think people living here really sit around and get fake news from Russian bots on Facebook. But they may have been fooled into believing that protectionism could work for them.  Protectionism just doesn't work, ever. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The controversy over Whitaker's "appointment" as acting AG by Trump



The appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is raising serious legal and practical concerns (after the sacking of Jeff Sessions). 


He is reported to have said he doesn’t consider Marbury v Madison (from high school American history) valid – judicial review.  He is said to deny separation of church and state.  We don’t know why Trump would appoint him except out of a superficial idea of “loyalty” (as earlier with James Comey), to hinder the Mueller investigation.
  
CNBC reports (Kevin Breuninger) on this with a detailed letter from Senator (Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer to President Trump, here

Furthermore the New York Times focuses on the constitutional issues, saying that Whitaker must go through the Senate confirmation process, in a story by Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III, here

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Protesters go over the line near a Fox host's home



                  

Media sources report that protesters attempted a breaking and entering of Tucker Carlson’s (Fox News) home Wednesday night.

  
The Washington Post has a detailed story by Allyson Chiu, Perry Stein and Emma Brown.  The home is in NW Washington DC but media sources will not disclose more details.  Media sources report that Carlson and possibly other conservative journalists were doxxed.  Twitter and Facebook have removed their posts and Twitter has suspended at least one group (Smash Racism DC”).
  
Carlson’s wife called police while her husband was at work.  The acts committed could include vandalism or destruction of property and attempted breaking and entering (could have led to a home invasion).  If police have identified perpetrators, prosecution (for crimes committed inside the District of Columbia) by a United States attorney would be possible.  (Grand juries for these things meet in secret – I was robbed on the Metro once in 2013, really lost very little [but someone made $25000 of fake Metro cards on my credit card quickly before it was cancelled] – the perpetrator was not prosecuted for my robbery but jailed for another one.)

Tim Pool got into an argument on Twitter with Matthew Yglesias of Vox, who sympathized a bit with the protestors on wanting rich people to know what it feels like to be in danger (like of police profiling, maybe). 

I’ve never gotten the personal impression that Tucker Carlson is particularly extreme on the Right. 
  
However the level-headed Wikipedia reports some serious stuff about his past statements.
  
Listen to Pool’s analysis on the video.  This only gets worse. But he notes that protests near the homes of public officials have always happened. 
   
There are also reports of multiple protests tonight (John Bowden, The Hill) over fears that Mueller’s investigation of Trump will be impeded by the new interim AG, Whitaker, who denies that the Russians affected the 2016 elections. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Trump's first reaction to midterm results: start a slow-motion Saturday Night Massacre; there could be more soon



Here is a pretty definitive score on the results of the midterms, from Vox, as of 11 PM EST Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018.

Rick Scott beat Bill Nelson in FL, so David Hogg didn’t win on his home field!  (Hogg can be a Senator in 2031.)   Scott is probably pressured somewhat to moderation, however.


Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions (who had started to mellow a little) and might end the Mueller probe (MSNBC)  Matt Whittaker acts as AG.  Republicans warn Trump not to stop the Mueller probe (Guardian).  Democrats will have subpoena power. 
  
A slow-motion Saturday night massacre?

Monday, November 05, 2018

The mid-term examination for all of us occurs Tuesday; Washington Post has major editorial on Internet governance



Okay, Tuesday November 6, 2018 is the big day. 

O, boy, I remember a math course in grad school where on the first day the professor say, “your grade is based on a mid-term and a final exam”.  So Tuesday is Donald Trump’s mid-term.


But this is about “The People”.  The legislature.  It sounds more likely that Democrats will take the house, because the early voting returns suggest that more young people are voting.  I do congratulate David Hogg, and his accomplishments in the voting arena may turn out to be more important than the gun control issue.  And, personally, I hope he attends Stanford next fall (Jack Andraka graduates next spring).

David cannot serve in the House until after the 2026 election, when he would be 26. That raises another issue.  If you want to do something about climate change, you need to elect young adults now, because they have the “skin in the game” to live through the consequences after my generation is gone.

I’m “all set”, as they say at Starbucks when they had you your food as your charge is approved.  (Even if the salesperson roots for the Boston Red Sox.)  I registered in Fairfax County a week after I moved in 2017 and got the card in the mail with the polling place, and it’s an 800 foot walk from my condo.


Because of the circumstances with my own projects I haven’t made time for any sustained voluntarism commitment.  So I have not registered voters or driven them to the polls. Actually, at 75, I don’t think I should use a car for any future volunteer activities.  I just vote, in every election, every primary.

We should remember the sacrifice in 1964 of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner in Mississippi, when I was 21, during a troubling period of my own life.  

This would normally go on a different blog, but I want to note right now that “Gab” is back up and that the Washington Post has a major editorial this morning on whether Internet infrastructure companies (as opposed to social media hosts) feel a responsibility to monitor content and who can use their utilities.  I have an extended comment on the Post site. 

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Smerconish, David Brooks disagree on how America's polarization persists



Saturday morning, Michael Smerconish on CNN said that most Americans are in the middle politically – they want health care to cover pre-existing conditions, and family leave, want some sensible moderation on immigration (including DACA to be properly fixed by Congress), and to leave people alone personally (gay rights and transgender) and probably want some gun control and possibly limits on hate speech – but it’s the extremes, who make up 15% of the population, who keep getting all the media attention. Columbia Journalism Review talks about this (June 2018) in a piece by Peter Vernon, here

Yet, in a NYT column called “The Retrenchment Election”, David Brooks characterized all of us as remaining polarized, rural v. urban, here


I think a group called Better Angels would be included to agree with Smerconish (who is a “conservative” of the right ilk – do your (actuarial) math first before making policy proposals and see what you can afford).
  
The “Better Angels” video above was streamed at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where I went to grad school (MA, Math) in the 1960s.