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Posts by M. Dodge Thomas

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  • Odd question on online job application

    11/27/2013 6:14:33 AM PST · 65 of 86
    M. Dodge Thomas to Grumpybutt

    Welcome to a Brave New World, where to question the motivations or actions of an employer (or potential employer)for any reason, in any way, is “Marxism”.

    Shocking, isn’t it, to discover that you have been a “Marxist” all these years, when you actually though you were a typical, patriotic American?

    But don’t feel to badly: I’ve been a “job-creator” for 40 years, and lately I’ve realized I must be a “Marxist” too, by the standards of “Be properly grateful for whatever you betters offer”.

    Likely though, you do have a problem: lots of the places where you apply for work *are* looking for people so desperately grateful for work, on any terms and under and conditions, that they will *never* question what they are asked to do, or why - and the fact that you are even daring to ask the question automatically “disqualifies” you for the job.

    Does not have to be that way, here’s how a *real* Capitalist (and a hyper-successful) thinks about hiring people who “question authority”:

    “I want us to listen to these dissenters because they may intend to tell you why we can’t do something, but if you listen hard, what they’re really telling you is what you must do to get something done.”

    - Bob Pittman, chairman and chief executive of Clear Channel
    Communications

    Finding the job that lets you use you talents and insights may not be easy - in fact, it may be very hard - and you may have to compromise your principles in the meantime.

    But those employers do exist, and refusing to accept that you should be “grateful” for the opportunity to work for some other kind does not make someone a “Marxist” - quite the opposite, it means that they are not one of the compliant, drifting mass of the “faux-employed”- the people resigned to working “private-sector” jobs that would not exist were it not for massive taxpayer subsidies such as Medicaid, SNAP, and the like.

  • Odd question on online job application

    11/27/2013 5:45:57 AM PST · 55 of 86
    M. Dodge Thomas to Grumpybutt

    The employer is trying to establish if they will qualify for a WOTC credit if then hire you.

    Essentially, the Federal tax code “pays” the employer to hire certain people (in the form of a tax credit) to assist them in getting back into the workforce.

  • Hospitals looking for cash upfront

    11/17/2013 6:41:12 PM PST · 62 of 65
    M. Dodge Thomas to CodeToad
    Before government intervention and insurance company ripoffs, doctors used to accept cash and the payment was affordable.

    I knew a doctor that had practiced since 1936. He hated the fact that by 1960 things had already gotten out of control. Regulation kept him from accepting chickens for payment, which he had done many time before.

    Gonna' take a lot of chickens to pay for a modern hospital stay, and not just because of government regulation and insurance company manipulation; medicine just does a lot more than in 1936, or even 1960.

    Consider the range of medical intervention available to say, someone is just had a stroke, and presents himself at the hospital in each of the two eras.

    In 1960 about all they could do was put such a person in a bed - literally.

    Today, you have several different types of imaging techniques to help with diagnosis, you have pharmaceutical interventions for some types of strokes and surgical interventions for others, you have extensive real-time monitoring of the patient's condition, as well as a host of other technological and clinical advances the can actually make a good deal of difference in the outcome.

    I don't know how you would translate that level of care back into 1960 prices, but I'm pretty sure the result in 1960 dollars would've been major, major sticker shock for most consumers of the era's medical services.

  • Hospitals looking for cash upfront

    11/17/2013 7:09:49 AM PST · 31 of 65
    M. Dodge Thomas to C. Edmund Wright

    The people I know got burned in one of two ways:

    1) They did not realize that there was a low yearly cap on the total insurance payout (”mini-med”) plans.

    2) They had plan like the one you described, got really sick (cancer, etc.), and were dropped next plan cycle - and left with no insurance from their old carrier, and no chance of getting new insurance except through a state “high-risk” pool, which was closed to new applicants or had a long waiting line.

    These are the people who spend down their assets to bankruptcy and then go on Medicaid - essentially, the rest of us are their “backup” insurers.

    A lot of people do not like the ACA because it essentially bans the first type of policy, and prevents the sort of cancellations in the second case.

    IMO, it’s not as easy a call as it first appears: we naturally want people to have freedom of individual choice about want type of insurance to purchase, but a lot of people end up making a choice that *guarantees* their costs will be shifted to *rest of us* if things go wrong.

    Plus, you have the issue that a lot of the people who *want* to be responsible *can’t* afford better insurance.

    The end result is that unless you put your head in the sand and ignore that fact that *someone* ends up paying for such care, when you try to come up with a system where everyone pays at least *something* for care they will receive, you come up with mandatory insurance + minimum coverage requirements + subsidies - in other words, something rather like the ACA.

    From this perspective, one of the major things wrong with the ACA is that by subsidizing existing insurance practices - which *depend* on making it hard to discover in advance what service is being provided and what it will cost - it perpetrates a system designed to make “comparison shopping” difficult or impossible and continues insurance practices which make it difficult to discover which high-deductible plans makes sense to a given consumer.

    So I would argue that as regards such disclosure the ACA(which tries to make apples-to-apples comparisons between standardized plans possible) does not go *far enough*”, and mostly, as part of a cozy deal to protect the current Byzantine pricing and insurance arrangements between providers and insurers.

  • Hospitals looking for cash upfront

    11/17/2013 6:18:18 AM PST · 8 of 65
    M. Dodge Thomas to Gaffer

    Yup. But before we can “shop” our medical purchases, the hospitals have to be willing to disclose their prices - which is anathema to a system that *depends* on non-transparent pricing.

    Same, as regards benefits, for the insurance companies -I know some pretty smart people who are *shocked* to discover to discover what their “inexpensive” insurance did not cover, especially as regards yearly caps.

  • Hospitals looking for cash upfront

    11/17/2013 5:57:44 AM PST · 1 of 65
    M. Dodge Thomas
    "At the same time, hospitals believe they must become more insistent and methodical about screening patients' ability to pay..."
  • Republicans see Cruz as party leader (Dems pick target)

    11/01/2013 10:39:35 PM PDT · 20 of 28
    M. Dodge Thomas to Olog-hai

    Actually, PPP is middle-of-the-pack in accuracy, and at least in the 2012 Presidential race (like most pollsters) had a slight Republican bias.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/10/which-polls-fared-best-and-worst-in-the-2012-presidential-race/?_r=0

    _____________________

    As for current polling, it seems reasonable to me; this is a party (and a country) split asunder.

  • Roll Call Lists only 4 House Races in 2014 as Toss Ups - Map

    09/23/2013 3:10:55 PM PDT · 13 of 18
    M. Dodge Thomas to Oliviaforever
    This illustrates the undemocratic consequences of Democratic gerrymandering across the country which solidifies the Democrats’ hold on hundreds of congressional districts and thereby denying conservatives from electing congressmen to represent conservative policies.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    Republicans have been more successful at redistricting ("gerrymandering") than Democrats; Democrats received a million + more congressional votes than Republicans, but Republicans hold a solid majority in the house. This advantage will last at lesat through 2020.

    Most estimates are that if you drew the "fairest" possible districts, Democrats would control the House.

    Similarly, if you apportioned senate seats by population (the rule of equal proportions), there would likely be around 18-20 "conservative" Senators (TX and FL would make a big contribution to that) - small state and rural over-representation in the Senate is a *huge* built-in conservative advantage. Even if you assigned 1 seat to each state, and apportioned the rest

    California 10 seats
    Texas would have 7
    New York and Florida, would have 5
    Illinois and Pennsylvania would have 4
    Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, New Jersey, and Michigan would have 3
    Eleven other states would have their current 2
    Twenty-eight states, would have one 1

    Bottom line is that conservatives currently have structural advantages in both the House and Senate, not the other way around.

    And that anything that made apportionment fairer (in terms of equal voting power for each voter) would work to the Democrat, not conservative, advantage.

  • What We Can Learn from Singapore

    09/21/2013 8:30:10 AM PDT · 8 of 9
    M. Dodge Thomas to Kaslin

    The authors don’t bother to mention that two key features of Singapore’s system are (1) individual and family mandates and (2) a high degree of direct government intervention into health-care pricing:

    “Singapore has a non-modified universal healthcare system where the government ensures affordability of healthcare within the public health system, largely through a system of compulsory savings, subsidies and price controls. Singapore’s system uses a combination of compulsory savings from payroll deductions to provide subsidies within a nationalized health insurance plan known as Medisave.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Singapore

    But then, *any* rational system has “mandates”, otherwise you have (as currently in the US) lots of uninsured “free-riders” on everyone else’s charity and tax dollars.

  • More Trouble For Housing: Obamacare Creates 17% Reduction In Reward For Working

    09/15/2013 5:15:39 AM PDT · 5 of 5
    M. Dodge Thomas to whitedog57

    We *already* subsidize heath care for such workers - we just do it in a highly inefficient way allows them to completely evade responsibility for obtaining insurance - and then *pretend* we are not doing so.

    There are already huge implicit public health-care subsidies for part time workers: Medicaid, various state insurance pools, and cost-shifting by providers and insurers.

    And low-wage employers *already* take advantage of them to lower labor costs.

    I actually prefer the ACA in this regard: it’s more transparent, it increases efficiency by giving low wage part time workers far more market choice, and it forces people to take as least *some* responsibility for heath care costs that are now shifted to everyone else - it’s actually a *win* for free market efficiency over centralized solutions, which is why states such as Utah were setting up exchanges even before the ACA - you could say that conservative dislike of this aspect of the ACA is a case of “not invented here” - except that it WAS invented here - it’s *classic* case of a market solution, which was why it was first proposed by Stuart M. Butler, at the Heritage Foundation.

    And it’s the *only* available market based solution that *actually* addresses the problem on a comprehensive basis; everything else that’s proposed is just a band-aid.

    Afraid we are headed for “single payer”?

    Well, this is the way you get it:

    1) Do everything possible to obstruct the effort to set up exchanges to allow low income individuals to access private-sector insurance on a partially community-rated basis.

    2) Have no better program of you own which actually addresses the problem.

    3) Deal yourself out *any* negotiations to address the current defects of a ACA in the name of purity and principle.

    4) Then cry yourself to sleep when voters get tired of obstruction without alternatives.

    Which is *exactly* were things are headed now.

  • IBM Terminates Company-Sponsored Retiree Health Plan Due To Soaring Costs

    09/07/2013 8:59:05 PM PDT · 28 of 37
    M. Dodge Thomas to ArmstedFragg

    This is not an ACA exchange, it’s an insurance brokerage service calling itself a “exchange” that represents Medicare supplemental and advantage plans. IBM will make a yearly contribution into an account that can be used to pay for the insurance, co-pays, etc. - the amount of the contribution has not yet been announced.

    However, as IBM has caped its total contribution to *all* employees health plan, its pretty clear what the trajectory of retiree contributions is going to look like.

    My wife will be retiring from IBM at the end of the year (at age 67), and about all we are hoping for is that the IBM contribution will remain meaningful long enough to make it easier for her to defer starting SS to 70, so as to max out her benefits.

  • The Real Republican Adversary? Population Density

    09/04/2013 11:25:52 AM PDT · 26 of 27
    M. Dodge Thomas to ckilmer
    Likely the difference between low density and high density population voting patterns reflects the relative percentage of people receiving W2 vs 1099’s.

    There is certainly some evidence this is a major cause of urban/rural political differences. Two other closely related contributing factors are out-migration of the rural poor to more urban areas, and the fact that rural areas have substantially lower levels of income inequality, and its perceived as less of a *political* problem.

    See for example:

    http://www.apsanet.org/imgtest/PSJuly06GimpelKarnes.pdf

  • The Real Republican Adversary? Population Density

    09/04/2013 5:19:18 AM PDT · 1 of 27
    M. Dodge Thomas
    The stats are accurate, so the question becomes: why are current Republican candidates failing to connect with urban (and especially younger, well educated) voters?
  • Climbdown!

    08/31/2013 1:16:41 PM PDT · 33 of 100
    M. Dodge Thomas to nathanbedford

    I have yet to decide if this man is a naif, or a sophisticated Machiavellian operator.

    For example, back when he was teaching constitutional law, and then when he first entered the Senate, Obama made quite a point of his conviction that Presidential war-making powers needed to be dramatically trimmed back, especially in the case of military interventions not explicitly authorized by Congress.

    Assuming he actually believed it, and was looking for a way to establish a such precedent, what better way to do it than to announce an unpopular intervention, let Congress get all riled up about it - with members on both the left and right demanding a say in the matter - and that once Congress was irrevocably committed in this way, announce that though he believed he had a unilateral right to order such action, he *also* believed that as a practical matter the president ought to put the matter to the legislative branch for a vote?

    Or take the example of his budget negotiations with Congress:

    Is he a naïve and inept negotiator who gets regularly hoodwinked by the Republicans (This is the dominate complaint on the left).

    Or is he an extraordinarily devious politician?

    One who knows that the way to establish his credentials with “moderate” and “independent” voters is to appear to be flexible and even willing to alienate the left.

    While the same time knowing that he will not have to make substantial concessions because the Republicans will block any compromise was does not substantially achieve *all* of their objectives... all the while knowing that “gridlock” actually allows his programs to move forward?

    IMO, before deciding who’s been playing the fool, look at who has *actually* been getting the results they seek.

  • World's Nicest Traffic Cop Has Issued 25,000 Tickets With Zero Complaints

    08/27/2013 4:53:21 AM PDT · 11 of 12
    M. Dodge Thomas to M. Dodge Thomas

    Well, I’d rather deal with him than a lot of the cops around here.

    OTOH.... the “perfect” spokesman for big brother.

  • How smart is Ted Cruz?

    08/26/2013 7:43:13 PM PDT · 81 of 284
    M. Dodge Thomas to Oldeconomybuyer

    Cruz is a very good writer and debater - however he strikes me as being like a lot of the really smart Federalist Society style Libertarians: so in thrall to the beauty of his theory that he never stops to wonder why - in a world that has actually tried most of the more apparently plausible Utopian schemes (theocracy, communism, left and right authoritarianism, monarchy, etc.) - no one has been able to organize a serious attempt to create a “Libertarian” government or economy.

    When you are that committed to *any* ideology it becomes all to easy to pursue impractical policies to implement your ideals; for someone like Cruz there will *always* be a cause so important that it’s worth “doing whatever it takes” to advance it, for example, blowing up the US credit rating to achieve your goal. This year Obamacare, next year something else - and anyone who does not sign on to every crusade is a traitor to the cause.

    The problem with this approach is that draconian means require perfect judgment in their selection and application - every such attempt caries with it the possibility of disastrous failure - and human judgment and execution are just not up to the task.

    The only questions is how far and fast you fall, and who and what you take with you.

  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 130 Years of Earth Surface Temperatures [AGW Agitprop / Barf Alert]

    08/01/2013 4:13:46 AM PDT · 11 of 11
    M. Dodge Thomas to MtnClimber

    Ocean going vessels have been routinely logging air (and often water) temperature, barometric pressure and general weather and ocean surface conditions for hundreds of years.

    For example, here’s a site where users can transcribe logs to add to the data:

    http://www.oldweather.org/

    with examples of typical logs.

  • New $444 million hockey arena is still a go in Detroit [corporate welfare in bankrupt city]

    08/01/2013 3:56:04 AM PDT · 8 of 26
    M. Dodge Thomas to Netz

    Art... “Art? What’s the point? Let’s sell off the collection of the DIA to pay the creditors!”

    Retired municipal employees... “Takers! Let’s cut or eliminate the pensions of retired workers to pay the creditors!

    Hockey Arena: “Great idea! Let’s put the taxpayers on the hook for an additional $400,000,000 for an ice rink that get’s used twenty times a year! If the team leaves town, we will find *something* to sell to pay the creditors!”

  • 80% Of US Adults Are Near Poverty, Rely On Welfare, Or Are Unemployed

    07/29/2013 6:43:51 AM PDT · 54 of 71
    M. Dodge Thomas to olezip
    "Claims like this become believable when they start to hit close to home. My nephew just learned that the plant where he has been working for the past 18 years, is being shut down. There are absolutely NO jobs around that area...

    Yep. A good part of the country is mired in a 1930s style depression, and what's happening to the people who live there is invisible to the people who live in more urban areas, and especially to the elites who have walled themselves off from having to deal with anyone but people like themselves.

    It didn't start with Obama, and it won't end if we elect a Republican president, no matter how "conservative", it's an ongoing, structural problem, and it only gets worse as the most capable members of such communities leave for somewhere else, where they hope to have a better chance of making a living.

    We hate the idea of "giving them a government job" to do something at least marginally useful, even if it's just patching holes in the roads with material that will wash out with the next heavy rain, and instead hope that we can buy their passivity with "supplemental nutrition programs" and "disability payments", and hope that they don't vote, or at least that if they do vote, there's some way to get them to vote on the basis of something other than trying to increase the amount of dole they receive.

    Everyday, look around the place where I live, and I see plenty of things that need to be done, a lot of which can be done with unskilled or semiskilled labor - infrastructure falling apart, obvious improvements that need to be made.

    And the conclusion I've reached is that I'd rather start a WPA for the unemployable, and provide full-time day care for their children to get them into an environment where some discipline is enforced and learning is valued, than to let them create a home environment which trains up up the next generation of ignorance and hopelessness while heading toward 400 pounds on starch and sugar at my expense.

    IMO, tt would probably cost twice as much in the short run as the current arrangements, and about half as much in the long run.

  • Detroit’s Precious Art

    07/25/2013 8:56:52 AM PDT · 12 of 18
    M. Dodge Thomas to National Review

    Why stop with the DIA?

    We could sell off the original of the Declaration of Independence, to help pay off the National Debt.

    Or, how about the the naming rights to the Lincoln Memorial or the White House?

    Better yet, renaming the Capital Building to reflect Corporate sponsorship would make de jure what’s now only de facto.

    And... the possibilities at the State level are endless: for example Texas is raiding the rainy day find to pay for roads; would it not be better to turn the Alamo into the privately operated theme park to raise cash for freeways?

  • Pandering to Millennials Will Ruin the GOP

    03/15/2013 5:54:57 AM PDT · 8 of 14
    M. Dodge Thomas to dforest

    A lot of people tend to think mostly about their bellies and other peoples genitals.

  • Wife Picks Second Wife for Her Husband

    12/06/2012 6:51:39 AM PST · 51 of 66
    M. Dodge Thomas to faithhopecharity

    !!!

  • South Carolina Bill Would Nullify ‘Obamacare’

    12/04/2012 1:18:13 PM PST · 138 of 144
    M. Dodge Thomas to Tublecane
    You know what else benefits the economy as a whole besides forgiving debt? Saving. Remember that?

    Oh. I remember it *very* well.

    Would it be unfair to point out that, above the level of very-small business, Capitalism operates by routinely avoiding personal responsibility and readily discharging discharging bad debt?

    Both corporate officers and their stockholders are exempt from personal financial responsibility for the debt incurred by a failing business - in this sense the people attempting so start a business at personable financial risk - however virtuous this may be in abstract- are rubes at the county fair.

    I say this as someone who (successfully) started his first two business on a self-financed basis at high personal financial risk, and survived the experience both times - before I finally realized I was the rube in the game, and started playing on the same basis as the smart boys.

  • South Carolina Bill Would Nullify ‘Obamacare’

    12/04/2012 12:58:09 PM PST · 134 of 144
    M. Dodge Thomas to Tublecane
    he early steps are the hardest. We got this far with 60%+ opposition. Momentum’s on the other side.

    But... most places that could have emulated the NHS didn't, and don't want to. France is probably closest, but Germany and the Netherlands (for example) chose "manged competition" by private insurers, and show no interest in further centralization or direct provision.

    And the country that has moved in the most "Libertarian" direction in recent years (New Zeeland) opted to provide government insurance for catastrophic expense only.

    So something ,like the NHS is *far* from inevitable, even in societies far more receptive to "Big Government" than our own.

    In fact, most of these health care systems evolved out of preexisting arrangements and in accordance with "national temperament", and the US system is going to be the same - so IMO it's *far* more likely to look like the Dutch system than the English or even the French.

  • South Carolina Bill Would Nullify ‘Obamacare’

    12/04/2012 12:41:38 PM PST · 131 of 144
    M. Dodge Thomas to Resettozero

    > but nowhere there can be a successful outcome for me or my progeny

    Actually, there may be some substantial up-sides for your progeny in whatever evolves out of the ACA. For example as I’ve noted in this thread and elsewhere the exchanges are going to provide the first real opportunity for many individuals who want to start a business to access to health insurance for their families at anything approaching parity with people employed by organizations large enough to bargain for coverage.

    That’s *huge* for people who want to start their own businesses, not only because it makes it easier to start a business, but it makes it far easier to *succeed* in a small business if you encounter significant health problems.

    It this regard I was just reading an interesting article in today’s Financial Times about the realization in France that you have to allow repeated attempts by individuals who fail at starting a first business if you want subsequent businesses to succeed.

    So French policymakers are wising up to the fact that the experience of failing in one business substantially *increases* your chance of success in the second attempt (compared to someone with business experience), and it’s wise policy to structure affairs such you make repeated attempts easier rather than more difficult!

    At the same time in this country we been moving in the opposite direction in some ways.

    For example the recent revisions to the bankruptcy laws make it more difficult to discharge credit-card debt is now thought to be substantially retarding new small business foundation, because the way that a lot of people fund the startup of a small business is with the only “business” credit they have available: their personal charge cards.

    And while it seems only “fair” to make it more difficult to evade such debt, the flip-side of that is that it makes it far more difficult for the same individuals to start a subsequent business to earn enough income to pay the debts incurred in the previous attempt!

    In a sense, makeing it easier to discharge such debt in bankruptcy is a “tax” on everyone else, however it now increasingly appears to be the case that the increased economic activity resulting from making such debts easier to discharge may be a net gain for the economy.

    And... guess what. Some Western European countries are starting to think about “reforming” their relatively strict personal bankruptcy laws - the opposite of our own recent changes.

    In the same way you can think of the ACA has a sort of “tax” on the insured and employed on behalf of the uninsured and the un-employeind (including those attempting to start a business, or recover from the failure of the previous attempt).

    It somewhat reduces my “freedom” to pay such a a tax, but it also increases other peoples’ “freedom” to become self-employed and economically self-sufficient - so the result may be a net gain in the “freedom” experienced by society as a whole.

    (The arguments easier to take seriously if you think of it taken to extremes: you can imagine a society where most people live in a state of virtual economic serfdom to a very small minority of kleptocratic elites - and in fact there places in the world where such societies exist.

    The people at the top of the heap have almost unlimited personal freedom, and for the most part believe they deserve at.

    OTOH, most observers elsewhere regard such societies as highly “unfree”, based on the actual political and economic options of the majority of their citizens.)

    If you work backwards from such extremes, you start to realize that as regards “freedom” societies exist on a continuum where if you attempt to assert absolute individual rights as a primary social good you can only do so by reducing the practical “freedom” of someone else - and that many kinds of political and social arrangements (such as bankruptcy laws or access to health care) can operate in counter-intuitive ways to increase or decrease freedom for one group or another - my “freedom” may be reduced by arrangements which supply the necessary preconditions of “freedom” to someone else.

    And if on the average the “freedom” increases to my benefit (for example, by living in a more affluent society, which can better afford to fund medical research which increases the productive lifetime of people like myself - as Steve Jobs discovered “All your money can’t another minute buy”) I untimely come out ahead.

    Or, for example, should you attempt to start a business without health care for your family, and one of your children experience an illness that would otherwise bankrupted you, I profit from the fact that you can continue to attempt to make your business a success, growing the economy and eventually reducing my tax burden relative to the benefits I receive.

    It all seems kind of theoretical, and sort of like rhetorical sleight of hand, but freedom is a complicated thing to understand without thinking about the social conditions in nurture it, so here is one more example to ponder:

    In several of the “less-free” societies of Western Europe, small business is a much larger proportion of the economy than here, primarily because of various social policies that make it easier for small businesses to succeed.

    The rewards for the most successful entrepreneurs are somewhat lower than here, but there are many more “reasonably successful” small business people (relative to population.

    So, is the freedom to profit from individual effort smaller (lower rewards at the very top), or greater (more people are their own bosses - think of them as the modern equivalent of the civilly virtuous yeoman framers beloved of some of the Framers)... or just “different”?

  • South Carolina Bill Would Nullify ‘Obamacare’

    12/04/2012 11:53:30 AM PST · 125 of 144
    M. Dodge Thomas to Tublecane
    , and it is painfully obvious the mandate, the exchange, etc. will be a stepping stone toward an inevitable single payer system and the complete nationalization of healthcare. Why do we play along? Because we’re still the stupid party.

    I'm not quite as pessimistic as you are: Americans are stubborn, we're going to do things her own way, and I don't think the system we have in 25 years will be "socialized"; I can't see a majority of US voters putting up with something nearly as centralized as the English healthcare system, and there are too many practical advantages to systems based on "managed competition".

    Also, we really do have a substantial role for the states embedded in our political DNA, and I expect healthcare regulation and provision in the US will likely always have a substantial policy input on the regional if not the state level.

    And if I had to make a guess, I would expect that the system as it evolves in the US will most likely become something that has many of the characteristics of the Dutch and German systems with some of the decentralization of the Canadian system:

    "Single payer" via federal taxation, substantial policy input and control at the state or regional level, with care provided by five to seven major players, perhaps entirely privately owned, or perhaps a mix of for-profit and NFP providers.

    And I'm pretty sure that the program will be both very popular and fairly efficient, and for most citizens it will probably be a more desirable arrangement than the current patch up because of continuity and portability; for example these two factors are one of the major reasons that small business is 2 to 3 times the percentage of GNP in parts of Western Europe than it is here, and why such businesses are more stable (less prone to failure, and especially to high initial attrition rates) than in the US.

    Meanwhile, IMO the Republican Party's (not necessarily the same thing as "the conservative movement") decision to walk away from the table instead of fighting for plan characteristics that would likely do a better job of optimizing the system than some of the Democrat alternatives was an unwise gamble: too much downside compared to the likely upsides, and as a result it will be that much harder to rationalize the ACA.

  • South Carolina Bill Would Nullify ‘Obamacare’

    12/04/2012 6:38:41 AM PST · 19 of 144
    M. Dodge Thomas to M. Dodge Thomas

    It would be about as effective as a state law declaring the Federal Income Tax null and void.

    __________________

    As I pointed out here at the time, the decision to oppose rather than participate in designing be ACA was a huge gamble with an equally big downside if Republicans lost the bet; Republicans could have extracted *major* concessions from the Democrats on matters such as “tort reform”, exclusive access by private insurers and wider state latitude in designing the exchanges if they had chosen to negotiate rather than simply oppose as it because clear the ACA might pass,

    Instead, when Republicans failed to sweep the elections, conservatives were stuck with no substantive tort reform, mandatory NFP participation, and Federal control over most aspects of exchange design, with mandatory Federal exchanges set up in states which refused to set up their own.

    I certainly hope that the decision to obstruct rather than negotiate made people feel *really* good at the time, because the long-term cost of that short-term political high is the permanent establishment of the ACA on Democrat terms.

    And don’t kid yourself: the ACA is here to stay: once voters - including many “conservative” voters - discover that the exchanges will (for example) make it much easier to start a business without leaving their families uninsured) it’s going to be a *very* popular program.

    And the irony is this: “exchanges” and “mandates” as originally designed were *conservative* programs intended to foster individual self-reliance and personal responsibility, and one of the most successful existing programs was created by conservative legislators in a conservative state (Utah).

    Now however, the Democrat party is going to get credit for *their* version of the same idea - handed to them politically on a platter by Republicans who gabled away the likely chance to implement the program in a far more conservative form.

    And to add insult to injury, all this happened when the Democrats were in internal disarray and the party was headed by the the worst negotiator to hold that office in the last hundred yeas - a pushover, really - and the Democrats couldn’t have created the ACA in it’s current form without the assistance of congressional Republicans determined to fight a losing battle.

    And as I watch the house Republicans gear up to fight a losing battle to preserve “tax breaks for high earners” (as it’s portrayed in the media), I suspect that “the past is prologue” as regards the upcoming budget negotiations.

  • If republicans refuse to approve tax increases, does Obama win?

    11/26/2012 7:20:03 AM PST · 21 of 24
    M. Dodge Thomas to Glacier Honey
    the first step in understanding were we are now is an ugly truth that does not get much discussed:

    Republicans in congress got themselves into this mess by turning down a budget deal with Obama that was far better than anything they could of dreamed of achieving a decade before, and instead opting for a go-for-broke strategy that required they take the presidency and both houses of Congress in 2012.

    And it was the most conservative wing of the party that imposed this policy.

    This is an Monday morning quarterbacking. I wrote about this possibility extensively on free Republic and other conservative venues at the time.

    Back them I didn't say the strategy couldn't work, as no one could know how the election would play out (including the people certain of victory).

    What I did point out what I believed to be the obvious at the time: that it was a high risk strategy with enormous opportunity costs, because if it didn't work the "best had become the enemy of the good", and the conservative movement had thrown away both the chance for real deficit reduction on terms very favorable to conservative principles and the ability to influence the shape of "Health Care Reform" in negotiations with a president who was desperate to achieve some level of bipartisan support.

    For example, IMO conservatives could have forced the inclusion of strong tort reform measures and far greater flexibility on state regulations of the exchanges. (And remember, the exchanges and mandated coverage were both originally conservative prescriptions to encourage personal responsibility and prevent "free riding" on the backs of taxpayers and payers of health insurance premiums were are providing free care to the uninsured. For example states would've had the ability to set up something more like the Utah plan).

    Instead, conservatives in Congress elected a program of pure opposition, and the terms for establishing the exchanges are now going to be largely dictated by the federal government, and states will be forced to set up at least one not-for-profit, noncommercial plan.

    And while I thoroughly understand the desire of some conservatives not to appear to support any plan of which they don't approve, in this case doing nothing in fact amounts to doing something, and that something has been to give liberals and the Democratic Party's an enormous policy win.

    Because conservatives should not kid themselves: the exchanges are eventually going to prove extremely popular, and once voters - including a lot of "conservative" voters - discover that for example they can now start a small business without subjecting their families to the risks of remaining uninsured or covered only by extremely limited catastrophic risk policies, they are going to become strong supporters of these policies, and they are going to steamroller over politicians and political parties who oppose their improvement and eventual expansion.

    Conservatives may not like this, but a look at the history of such programs in the rest of the industrialized world shows you that once they are in place, there is no going back, and the best conservatives can do is to try to limit the extent to which they subvert individual initiative and the extent to which they are redistribute program.

    So now, I'm going to give another piece of extremely unwelcome advice to conservatives in general and the Republican Party in particular.

    (If you don't think there's any difference between the Republican and Democratic parties, and that the Republican party does a far better job of advancing conservative principles, you need read no further, and instead can comfortably sit back and whine as Republicans in Congress again lose their policy shirts to Obama).

    Don't - again - let beliefs in Simon-pure ideology get in the way of practical politics.

    Protecting historically low tax rates and tax "breaks" such a carried interest for a small sliver of ultra high income tax payers is not a smart hill to die on.

    These taxpayers as a group always do fine, and always will.

    I instead, expend political capital protecting higher income taxpayers who really need it: people in the 150K-500K range.

    Quit trying to kill the estate tax, and instead work to raise the limits - elimination is too easy a target for Democrats.

    Quit talking about unattainable "replace and repeal" - for example pulling the health insurance rung out form under the un/under-employed children covered under their parent's plans.

    In short, stop looking like the party of Romney & Co. and start looking like a party that actually cares about the real problems and prospects of the vast majority of upwardly mobile Americans who are trying to start a small business without health care, or send their children to college, or save for retirement at currend interest rates.

    And in return, bargain hard on entitlements: accept the fact that you will not get as good terms as were possible before the strategy of obstruction failed to take both houses and the presidency filed, you can still a agreement far better than is likely if public opinion turns further against conservative programs (which it very clearly could).

    And above all else, do not put yourselves in a position of taking positions you will get backed out of by events, and looking like losers who had to concede fundamental principles in the face of political and economic reality, rather than a party willing to bargain hard but realistically of the basis of those principles.

    Because however good in makes one feel short term, mid and long term the conviction that the appearance of virtue is more important than the actuality of results is a sure-fire prescription for political disaster.

  • How long until Left calls for Obama 3rd term?

    11/12/2012 6:28:50 AM PST · 18 of 45
    M. Dodge Thomas to Al Gore Vidal

    Not going to happen, for starters. Obama is not nearly left enough for the left.

    Instead, most such discussion centers on the hope for a more “progressive” candidate in 2016.

  • Can Scalia Hold Out for Two Years? [vanity]

    11/12/2012 6:22:10 AM PST · 6 of 21
    M. Dodge Thomas to xkaydet65

    Actually, the Democrats do face a tougher map in ‘14, they have to defend six incumbents in red states and six incumbents in swing states.

    That said, even with a narrow lead in the Senate post ‘14 it would be difficult to turn down “moderate” SC appointments.

  • What Went Wrong Last Tuesday

    11/12/2012 6:00:22 AM PST · 26 of 62
    M. Dodge Thomas to GilGil

    Think about this for a minute: the Princeton Election Consortium - which aggregates all polling - has accurately called the last three electrons – and this time around, the predictions were dead accurate.

    The polling showed how people *said* they would vote, and the actual returns show how they *actually voted*.

    If there had been vote fraud on a scale sufficient to swing the election, the stolen votes would *have* to be evident as a difference between the intended and actual vote.

    There is no such difference. (This is not to say there was “no fraud”, but rather that “fraud was not sufficient to change the outcome).

    Now, there is no harm in ignoring this evidence, if it makes someone feel better.

    But there is a lot of harm done if the belief causes someone to believe that they will get a different result by doing the same thing next time, if only they can eliminate “voter fraud”.

  • Vanity: So when will the "Entitlements Crash" occur?

    11/10/2012 6:55:34 AM PST · 11 of 49
    M. Dodge Thomas to MeneMeneTekelUpharsin

    SNAP (”Food Stamps”) is not what’s breaking the bank (its around 2.1%, expected to go to around 2.2% in 2014, declining to around 2.0% by 2020.

    Even if you include all “safety-net” spending (excluding Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP) it’s around 13%, and is projected to decline slightly by 2020.

    The first stage of the “crash” (actually, a “slide”) kicks in about 2 years out as a result of Medicare and Medicaid costs.

    And that’s not just a problem of “Government Spending”, it’s a systemic, cost-driven crisis in the entire health care system.

    If you want to learn more about this, I recommend:

    “Healthcare Beyond Reform: Doing It Right for Half the Cost”

    http://www.amazon.com/Healthcare-Beyond-Reform-Doing-Right/dp/1466511214/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1352558983&sr=1-1&keywords=joe+flower

  • A Reasonable Solution to the Immigration Problem

    11/10/2012 6:29:59 AM PST · 6 of 37
    M. Dodge Thomas to grumpa

    Some sort of amnesty plan is inevitable, and something similar to some parts of this plan are likely to be a part of it.

    Coupling it to the birthright citizenship issue is a deal-killer however, as that has to be done by constitutional amendment.

  • Exclusive - Inside Orca: How the Romney Campaign Suppressed Its Own Vote

    11/09/2012 9:04:50 PM PST · 124 of 130
    M. Dodge Thomas to stillonaroll

    As someone who has been involved in the IT end of a national political campaign: “Absolutely 100% typical clusterf**k, resulting from having non-technical campaign flunkies “managing” the implementation.”

  • Why Hispanics Don’t Vote for Republicans [Clash of Core Interests]

    11/09/2012 5:49:51 PM PST · 30 of 35
    M. Dodge Thomas to Steelfish

    The problem in a nutshell: you can’t attract Hispanic voters of Mexican background by appealing to family values when most such families have family members or friends who have been deported back to Mexico.

    Now, here is the mystery: Obama has deported *more* illegals than Bush, but is perceived as more friendly to illegals than Romney.

    That’s a major messaging failure by Republicans.

  • Vanity: It's Time To Let Go Of "They Stole It"

    11/09/2012 6:04:05 AM PST · 81 of 83
    M. Dodge Thomas to Kleon

    Thanks,

    A quick look tells us what happened: poll selection.

    Just off the top of my head, RPC was excluding:

    - Ipsos/Reuters
    - JZ Analytics/Newsmax
    - Angus-Reid
    - YouGov
    - Mellman

    and likely a host of others which were included by PEC.

    I can’t find a link to their poll selection methodology, so I don’t know their selection criteria, but whatever it was, it was the source of much if not all of their error.

  • Getting 'stuff' from the government -- even though I have a job (Galt's gultch

    11/08/2012 3:04:31 PM PST · 40 of 44
    M. Dodge Thomas to Rocky Mountain Wild Turkey

    Here are a few available to our household.

    1) Typically, the mortgage interest deduction is the single largest benefit available to middle class tax payers. We live in a 4 unit owner-occupied unit rental property, so we also get to depreciate 75% of the cost over 25 years. In addition, all our property taxes (14K a year) deductible. On a cash flow basis the rental income covers all of our housing expenses: mortgage, property taxes, insurance, & utilities - we live here for free, plus it reduces our overall Federal tax rate 7% *Huge* gift from the government, and from non-property owning taxpayers.

    2) The biggest “subsidy” for lower income workers is the “Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC),

    The max gross income / tax credit is 19,190 / 475 for a couple filing jointly
    and 47,163 / 5,236 for joint filers with 2 or more dependent children. (Those are maximum crests, the actual credit depends on adjusted income).

    (3) If you employer pays apart of you heath insurance, that’s another major subsidy - worth around $3.5K a year for us. Plus we fund a HCSA out of pre-tax income, that’s worth around $400.

    4) If you don’t have a college degree, education at state funded second/third tier colleges is typically still relatively affordable and heavily tax-payer subsidized, substantially increases lifetime earnings, and dramatically reduces unemployment.

    This can work for professional credentialing as well. It cost my wife (who already had a unrelated 4 year degree) around $1800 at a local community college to complete the classroom work required to sit for the CPA exam. She passed on the first try and her income was around 30,000/yr greater within two years. She’s got the CPA, and no subsequent employer has ever asked if she has an accounting/finance degree, or where she got it.

    5) The Meta runs downtown from Evanston IL to the loop, where my wife’s office is located. A government program subsidizes purchase of her ticket (via her employer) to the tune of around $700 a year.

    There are lots and lots of middle class subsidies around, if you look, but you have to *work* to to take advantage of them.

    ___________________

    OTOH, most of the “free” stuff is either not available to the middle class, or not worth it.

    6) SNAP (”Food Stamp’) max income is $1,640 for a family of two, and 2.498 for a family of four (actually the rules are a bit complicated, but this gives you an idea).

    You can roughly determine SNAP eligibility here:

    http://www.gettingfoodstamps.org/

    7) Medicaid (Free heath care) is generally available only to those 65 or older, or blind or disabled, and cannot afford to pay their medical bills.

    8) CHIP programs providing reduced cost medical care for children under 18, but there are pretty stringent income requirements.

    9) Low cost or free dental care is often available through dental schools - I eventually has to have all of mine replaced because it was done by a “C” student, but it lasted 15-20 years.

    10) “Welfare”, as most people think of it, has not been available since “Welfare Reform), there are temporary assistance programs, but they have low income and asset limits, low benefit levels, and strict time limits.

    8) If you want that “free phone”, that would be the:

    Link-Up: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/lifeline-and-link-affordable-telephone-service-income-eligible-consumers

    and

    Lifeline: http://www.fcc.gov/lifeline

    programs, but the eligibility requirements exclude most middle-class and many working families.

    9) What all the freebies have in common is that there is a *lot* of time and paperwork involved in getting and keeping them, including a lot of time spent dealing with overworked and sometimes unpleasant bureaucrats - I’ve been poor, and I’ve been “middle class”, and believe it to not, “being poor is one of the toughest jobs in America” - it wastes *huge* amount of time and energy just to stay afloat

  • Vanity: It's Time To Let Go Of "They Stole It"

    11/08/2012 11:59:25 AM PST · 70 of 83
    M. Dodge Thomas to Kleon
    I'm talking about the RCP aggregated poll numbers. they were well off the mark.

    I took a quick look at the RCP site, but could not find a link to the basis of their final FL projection, do you happen to have it?

    Generally speaking, PEC is the "purest" of the "aggregation" sites (most inclusive of all polling, no adjustment for non polling factors) and their FL projection was a dead heat.

    So RCP was doing something (ex: excluding or "weighing" specific polls / types of polls, "adjusting" for non-polling factors, using a different time window or adjusting significance by poll age, using approaches other than simulation, etc.) that skewed their results relative to PEC's projection.

    If you can find a link to RCP's methodology, I'll take a look and try to determine what is was.

    Do you know what aggregated means?

    Yes.

    Do you understand that as regards predicting this election, there was '"pure" aggregation' (ex: PEC) and then there was "aggregation + something else" (ex: 538, RCP?)?

  • Vanity: It's Time To Let Go Of "They Stole It"

    11/08/2012 8:30:42 AM PST · 46 of 83
    M. Dodge Thomas to Kleon
    And what about Florida, where the averages were off by two points?

    Uh... the aggregated polling was almost spot on in FL:

    Predicted: 49.8 / 49.8

    Actual: 49.9 / 49.3

    Projected: Scroll down to the filter for individual state projections on the right hand side.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/author/nate-silver/

    Actual: http://www.politico.com/2012-election/map/#/President/2012/

    And Ohio, where we know there was massive voter fraud.

    Predicted: 51.3 / 47.7

    Actual: 50.1 / 48.2

    Obama slightly under-performed relative to polling - the opposite of what would be expected as a result of significant voter fraud.

    Does not man that there was no fraud, but IMO it's a pretty convincing demonstration that it was not a significant factor.

  • Vanity: It's Time To Let Go Of "They Stole It"

    11/08/2012 7:56:27 AM PST · 44 of 83
    M. Dodge Thomas to darth
    OK, so the Republicans won heavily in the House.

    Congressional districts are almost identical in population nationwide.

    How is it that voters chose Republican reps and then voted for Obama, gay marriage, and lib Senators?

    Much of the reason is that Republicans success at the state-house level has given the party the redistricting upper hand. Added to the advantages of incumbency (including the Republican success in the 2010 congressional elections), there is now around a generic 2.5 percent Republican advantage in congressional races(1).

    Given the Republican state-level successes in 2012, we will likely see this effect increase for at least the next 1-2 election cycles.

    ____________________

    (1) There is an introductory discussion of the redistricting and incumbency effects here: http://election.princeton.edu/2012/10/04/quantifying-the-effect-of-redistricting/

  • Vanity: It's Time To Let Go Of "They Stole It"

    11/08/2012 6:56:18 AM PST · 21 of 83
    M. Dodge Thomas to WhiskeyX

    I completely agree that such fraud is immoral and corrosive of civic virtue.

    My point is that it was not a significant cause of Romney’s loss, nor likely a significant factor (as compared to inadvertent error and politicized but legal techniques of manipulation) in the result of elections for any Federal office in 2012.

  • Vanity: It's Time To Let Go Of "They Stole It"

    11/08/2012 6:46:12 AM PST · 17 of 83
    M. Dodge Thomas to dirtboy
    I don't doubt that there were instances of fraud.

    However, look at the aggregate polling results (how people said they intended to vote) prior to the election, and the actual vote counts (how they voted).

    If there has been fraud on a scale sufficient to change the results, the difference would be clearly apparent.

    It's not, and "vote fraud" was not a significant factor in the outcome of the presidential election in any state.

    If someone wishes to believe otherwise, that's not a problem.

    Unless that belief causes then to expect they can get a different result next time by preventing the fraud that was not the cause of the result this time.

    Then, IMO it's a big problem.

  • Vanity: It's Time To Let Go Of "They Stole It"

    11/08/2012 6:25:59 AM PST · 1 of 83
    M. Dodge Thomas
  • Elections Have Consequences

    11/08/2012 3:41:09 AM PST · 9 of 49
    M. Dodge Thomas to veritas2002
    2 Get some business card printed up that say “Obama’s government has taken all of my money and I am unable to leave you a tip. You might try calling the White House at: (phone number) and ask Obama for your tip.” Leave this on the table whenever you go out to eat at restaurants or places where tips are customarily given.

    You do realized that this is a very effective way train working-class people to hate "conservatives"?

  • FiveThirtyEight Forecast Barack Obama 313.0 Romney 225.0 Electoral Vote

    11/07/2012 2:06:30 PM PST · 50 of 52
    M. Dodge Thomas to kevkrom; Laissez-faire capitalist; diamond6

    At the end of the day, Silver and Wong’s predictions were *extremely* accurate:

    http://election.princeton.edu/2012/11/07/after-the-storm/

    We may not have liked the results of their techniques this time around.

    But after producing these sorts of results three elections in a row with impressive and increasing accuracy and precision, we ignore them at out peril in terms (for example) of judging the ongoing effectiveness of campaign strategies.

  • My apologies to Nate Silver

    11/07/2012 10:16:41 AM PST · 18 of 29
    M. Dodge Thomas to Conscience of a Conservative
    Silver was right, not because he’s a genius, but because the polls were right.

    Exactly. Nate Silver (and even more, Sam Wong) are just the messengers, the polls they were aggregating wrote the message.

    My big take away from the Silver/Wong results over time: the race remained pretty much in the same please since last summer, with most actual eventual voters having made up their minds well in advance of Nov. 6th. and most of the dips and rises for either candidate reflected differences in survey response rates due to partisan enthusiasm.

    The outcome, in light of the polling, makes a *lot* more sense if that was the case.

  • Alabama Voters Nullify Obamacare Mandates

    11/07/2012 5:01:07 AM PST · 48 of 53
    M. Dodge Thomas to Maurice Tift

    OK.

    You get Federally run exchanges instead.

    This is a “win”?

  • Obama is Republicans' Vietnam

    11/06/2012 10:27:57 PM PST · 6 of 9
    M. Dodge Thomas to JediJones

    > It was lost because Obama is a clean, articulate, light-skinned person of color.

    The problem with this analysis is that it does not explain the results in the losing Senate races.

  • Obama is Republicans' Vietnam

    11/06/2012 10:27:16 PM PST · 4 of 9
    M. Dodge Thomas to JediJones

    > It was lost because Obama is a clean, articulate, light-skinned person of color.

    The problem with this analysis is that it does not explain the results in the losing Senate races.

  • Was My Life as a Conservative an Illusion?

    11/06/2012 9:08:54 PM PST · 35 of 44
    M. Dodge Thomas to Jumper

    If it makes you feel any better, there are parts of Western Europe (the Netherlands are good example) where privately owned small businesses are doing very well, and in fact small business is typically 2-3 times the percentage of GDP in most of Western Europe than it is in the US.

    The reason is that a lot of the “Socialism” in these countries (ex: guaranteed access to health care, preferential treatment of retail smaller businesses as opposed to their larger competitors) is actually very friendly to the creation and stability of small (1-100 person) businesses.

    There is definitely still a place the these societies for individual initiative and ownership, in fact if you are a smaller business owner, you will *on the average* do better in the Netherlands than here (thought it’s also harder to do *spectacularly* well there, primarily due to higher taxes), which is why even the conservative parties support a lot of such programs.

    This view is anathema to a most posters here, but it’s not fantasy; my wife has family in the Netherlands, we visit regularly, and it’s simply a fact that it’s a country with a vibrant private sector.

    Capitalism isn’t going away anytime soon, even in Western Europe, and certainly not here, and it still rewards initiative and hard work.