Tuesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. The fantasy in Obamacare noted.
  2. Gun control in the context of AZ.
  3. Something a bit lighter. I’ll admit to, in my wilder days in school, to cat bowling with a stressed out roommate. To be fair, the cat had claws and got its fair share of hurt in on us.
  4. Wise words for pundits talking about the shooter.
  5. And from the same source, the problem with calling for better screening of kids like him … the problem is there are tens of thousands of them … and your screening problem (false positive/negative) is going to bite you big time.
  6. The political environment, or getting the blame wrong.
  7. Solzhenitsyn and his remarks regarding the West.
  8. Rule and meta-rule. In college we tried playing variants of chess in which one could alter movement rules as one’s move instead of a piece movement. If I remember our initial attempts weren’t interesting enough to develop meta-rules to make that very playable.
  9. Beauty and the world. So few today seek to witness and express beauty.
  10. 3% is not insignificant in the context of today’s 9%+ unemployment.
  11. And the unfortunate problem of the death panel discussion is that the basis of it (a) is real and (b) needs to be talked about. Health care will be rationed, supply is less than the demand (and if anything Obamacare’s regulatory burdens works most to decrease supply). The pro- vs con- Obamacare position boils down to whether you trust the government. The oddity is of course, that those who trust the government never seem to notice that the same government invaded Iraq … a far much more straightforward decision and implementation (and have ignored their own Administration’s willingness to use their power to exempt for insurance requirements of the new laws companies and groups to curry political favor). 

21 responses to “Tuesday Highlights

  1. The fantasy in Obamacare noted.

    How unusual! The right has declared that what all the non-partisan experts are saying is wrong and only they have the correct facts and the correct facts, of course, support the Republican position.

    Global warming, economics, sex ed, health care… It must be exhausting to become not only experts on every issue, but such superior experts that you can easily conclude that the widely recognized, non-partisan experts are OBVIOUSLY wrong. We sure are lucky to have you and our country has benefited tremendously from your self-taught but not at all self-serving expertise over the last half-century.

  2. JA,
    Are you disagreeing many that cost cutting measures in the bill are not going to stick? Recall the McDonalds exclusion which Ms Sebellius is now using as a political handout to those companies allied to the left.

    We sure are lucky to have you and our country has benefited tremendously from your received from the ivory tower temple but not at all self-serving expertise over the last half-century.

  3. JA,
    Oh, and welcome back. I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday break.

  4. Thanks. :-) Same to you.

  5. What are you calling the “ivory tower temple” exactly? The CBO? 99% of all climatologists in the world?

    Your side has so many defense mechanisms protecting its little propaganda bubble. The media are liberal. Academics are liberal. The CBO was manipulated by Obama. Scientists are caught up in some sort of mass hysteria or conspiracy. Keynesian economists are “ivory tower” people too stupid to see the obvious truth of trickle-down/supply-side economics. The majority of economists are blinded by PC or whatever to think that illegal immigrants are a net positive for the economy. Etc. etc. etc.

    Every issue you have a different excuse as to why what every expert on the subject knows is wrong and why the facts that just so happen to support big business and the super-rich (or religion for sex ed or xenophobia for immigration) are actually the correct ones. What an amazing coincidence!

  6. The fantasy in Obamacare noted.

    No actual fantasies are noted. It’s interesting to notice the inconsistencies here. Republicans campaigned against Obamacare on the grounds that it was going to make horribly massive cuts in Medicare. Now all in the sudden there are no spending cuts so repealing the bill will not increase any spending. The blog talks about ‘net revenue positive’ which is a signal that we are getting flim flammed here.

    The Obama bill, unlike Bush’s Medicare D, is deficit neutral to deficit reducing. This is true on a 10 yr scale and even more true beyond a 10 yr scale. Now you can argue with how the CBO scored it but at the end of the day any bill that’s not a simple ‘give $500 to the ASPCA’ is going to require some method of scoring and most of the GOP criticism of the scoring is simply on its face games. For example, one criticism is that more employers will drop health benefits than expected. Yet if an employer drops benefits they almost always have to increase pay by some amount. Increased pay generates more in income, social security and medicare payroll taxes. Yet the GOP would like to hide that an focus only on that more people buying insurance individually may require subsidies because social security and medicare are trust funds that are ‘off budget’. But off budgets are part of the sum total of everything at some point of view. If SSI and Medicare trust funds become better that’s an offset to another part of the budget getting worse. Otherwise as Krugman pointed out in his blog (and you should read his blog even if you want to ignore his columns) you might as well say that since Medicare is technically ‘off budget’ then all Medicare spending simply doesn’t count.

  7. And the unfortunate problem of the death panel discussion is that the basis of it (a) is real and (b) needs to be talked about. Health care will be rationed,…

    If market limits on health care is rationing then health care is rationed as anyone who has ever had to get ‘preapproval’ from their insurance knows. In terms of death panels, we have no death panels under Obama but in Arizona republicans have killed people by kicking them off Medicaid’s transplant list to save money as well as Republicans who have floated the idea of ‘death panels’ who will deny care to people based on social judgement of them. The worse that happens under Obama care is maybe you’ll have insurance that doesn’t want to pay for something that you do want. Which is basically what you have now if you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky you have no insurance and can’t afford anything you need.

  8. 3%

    It is hard to believe that any increase in aggregate demand will boost the housing market – which, remember, was buoyed by visions of steady price appreciation that few seem likely to hold today – sufficiently to re-employ all these workers

    You wouldn’t have to boost demand to re-employ the housing sector in bust states. You have to boost demand for those who are unemployed and have marketable skills (or who can acquire marketable skills) so they can get jobs, whether that means new jobs in busted states or moving to different states that have jobs.

  9. We sure are lucky to have you and our country has benefited tremendously from your received from the ivory tower temple but not at all self-serving expertise over the last half-century.

    Oh, I can’t believe I let this slip by! Note how your words imply that you think of those in the “ivory tower temple” as merely left-wing versions of the right-wing people we’re talking about. You basically paint everybody who doesn’t work for the Republican Party, one of the right-wing think tanks, or one of the right-wing media outlets as “left-wing.” You act like the reason the Democrats’ beliefs are in accord with the experts beliefs is that the experts are just biased towards the Democrats! But why would it be? Why should the experts in every single field be biased towards the Democrats??

    Oh, duh. Because the Democrats put forward fact-based ideas why the Republicans put forward dogmatic ideas. The dogma in this scenario is, as you well know, health care coverage = socialism = bad. That is not fact-based — every country on earth that does universal health care coverage, and there are a lot of them, get better results for less month. Those are the facts.

    The experts agree with the Dems because the Dems base their beliefs on the truth. Not dogma.

  10. JA,
    On the earliest remark … let’s keep this in the real world.

    1. “The media are liberal.” -> which is true. The majority of journalists are liberal
    2. “Academics are liberal.” -> also true, that is the majority of Academics are liberal.
    3. The CBO was manipulated by Obama. -> not a claim made by the linked post or myself. This is what we call a straw man.
    3. “Scientists are caught up in some sort of mass hysteria or conspiracy.” -> Huh? Again not a claim I’ve ever made or for that matter seen.
    4. “Keynesian economists are “ivory tower” people too stupid to see the obvious truth of trickle-down/supply-side economics.” Again, I think that’s a weak straw man. My claim is that economics is poorly founded and uses maths in places where the data don’t support it, that things are more non-linear and complicated than their simple models.
    5. “The majority of economists are blinded by PC or whatever to think that illegal immigrants are a net positive for the economy.” Again a straw man. Both sides tend to this sort of thing on this issue. The right sees the left’s immigration ideas as silly notions like open borders and and the left sees the right’s position against lawbreaking to mean immigration should be halted.

    Etc. etc. etc. … (in which etc, etc, etc, means straw straw straw straw or whaaaat?

  11. Boonton,

    If market limits on health care is rationing then health care is rationed as anyone who has ever had to get ‘preapproval’ from their insurance knows.

    And regulatory burdens can shut down market growth.

    The worse that happens under Obama care is maybe you’ll have insurance that doesn’t want to pay for something that you do want.

    No the worst (and highly likely) thing under Obamacare is that the supply of health care goes down because of increased regulatory demands. It will become a system like (as praised by JA) where “who you know” counts for more than how much you’ve earned or saved or insured against.

  12. JA,
    I don’t think the word dogma means what you think it does. Dogmas are just those things you believe. You hold, if I understand your remarks, a dogma that illegal immigration is good for example.

    . That is not fact-based — every country on earth that does universal health care coverage, and there are a lot of them, get better results for less month.

    No. They don’t They wait in long long lines for health care. Don’t develop new technologies or drugs at anywhere near the rate we do, and if you really need care now … and you’re very rich you go to a private clinic in another country. Remember you’re the fact based party that holds that Cuba has better health care than the US. Interesting the “dogmas” you hold.

  13. Boonton,
    What I referred to as fantasy was that the CBO report that Obamacare was budget neutral depended on a number of tax and care limitation measures that aren’t likely to hold water, e.g., the MacDonald’s exemption. There were more. If you took away the things that are highly unlikely to hold water after implementation … it doesn’t remain budget neutral.

    How much of Obamacare is placed off the federal budget (which is what the CBO scored) by placing higher burdens on states? Hmmmm.

  14. Pingback: I sane voice amongst insanity

  15. Not much IMO. As you are aware, all states have the option to ‘opt out’ of the bill if they want to institute a program that achieves similiar levels of coverage. If, as you say, the bill limits supply & places burdens on the states in excess of the benefits then states will be highly incented to ‘opt out’.

    In terms of scoring, the score is not a prediction for the simple fact that nothing stays the same. For example, consider Clinton’s proposed health care reform that failed. It was scored as costing so much compared to a ‘baseline’ of not adopting the bill. But the bill wasn’t adopted and years later Republicans enacted Medicare D with no source of funding. The true baseline was hundreds of billions of dollars higher than it was. But that’s not considered a failure of the CBO because there’s no way to expect anyone to forecast political changes going out ten, twenty years.

    Now the McDonald’s exemption was stupid IMO but in the big scheme of things irrelevant. If its that important, though, simply propose a law prohibiting exemptions to the bill. The CBO would score it as lowering the deficit.

  16. 3%

    http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco2003.htm#occupation provides a look at employment by occupation both today and projected. What’s interesting is:

    1. Employment in ‘construction and extraction’ is actually growing at a pretty good clip. It doesn’t break construction out between home construction & other types but carpenters are growing rapidly as a profession and that would seem to include a lot of home building types. If this is the case then Rajen’s ‘structural’ idea wouldn’t hold much water. There’s no particular reason why home builders in states like Arizona where real estate is busting can’t simply take construction jobs elsewhere.

    2. More interesting is chart 8 which breaks out new jobs into growth needs versus replacement needs. Note that a majority of construction jobs projected into the future are for ‘replacement needs’. This kind of makes sense when you consider that construction is a hard occupation that a lot of people will not do for decades on end. But herein lies a problem, if the core of Rajen’s idea is that the economy is suffering from a ‘structural fault’ where unemployable construction workers can’t switch to other carrers then how does he address the issue that consruction workers seem to already build a relatively short career into their plans.

    3. Of course the entire 3% is not made up of construction workers but ‘related professions’ such as ‘bankers and real estate brokers’. Well we still have a problem here. Bankers and brokers aren’t exactly low skilled professions. Why are they unable to move to jobs elsewhere or move into related jobs? The reason is pretty clear, it’s demand overall that’s the problem. If demand was sufficient, the places that were hit the hardest would see their unemployed either leave the state for work elsewhere or change careers. I’m not saying there’s no structural issues at all that can’t be addressed, but this take of 3% of the 9% unemployment is wildly high. So we know the structural side has to be a lot less than 33%.

  17. another 3% link to consider:
    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=8352&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Themoneyillusion+%28TheMoneyIllusion%29

    The core here is housing starts v. unemployment:

    2006 2.303 M unemployment 4.7%
    2008 1.008M unemployment 4.9%
    2009 0.527M unemployment 10.1%

    If 3% of our unemplooyment was caused by construction workers getting booted out of building homes then where is it? For building homes the boom ended not in 2009 but 2006. By 2008 more than half of your business disappeared.

  18. also there’s a correction up on the 3% link. It’s 3 points of the unemployment in states hit by the real estate bust the hardest, not 3 points of the unemployment rate of the whole US.

  19. Boonton,

    If 3% of our unemplooyment was caused by construction workers getting booted out of building homes then where is it? For building homes the boom ended not in 2009 but 2006. By 2008 more than half of your business disappeared.

    Only if employment is not as sticky as you assume.

  20. Think about what you’re saying. If 3 points of the unemployment was due to construction home building crashing…..well we went from 2.3M homes to 0.527K homes being built. A decline of about 80%. Of the decline in homebuilding, 75% happened from ’06 to ’08. Yet unemployment doesn’t budge? Have you known people who work construction?

    Construction workers are the first to leap onto unemployment. When a home building company doesn’t build homes, it doesn’t hire construction workers, period. Yes the company has some people on payroll who don’t automatically get fired but the bulk of its construction workers only work when there’s projects for them to work on. In fact construction workers often hit unemployment almost yearly when the winter hits. This simply is not an industry like a hospital that may keep the number of doctors and nurses constant for a while if the # of patients suddenly drops off.

    The skill story simply doesn’t stick. Construction jobs have been growing. Homebuilding is not that different from office, industrial or transportation building which has seen growth. But the ‘structural’ argument as a counter to demand doesn’t seem very plausible if you don’t use the image of contruction workers in places like Nevada who can’t find work post boom. The problem is that the image is easy to imagine but only if you don’t look at the actual data.

  21. Boonton,
    It occurred to me that problems with housing prices hurt the mobility of labor. It makes it harder for me to want to sell my house in a unstable (dropping) market to move to that place with a more promising job.

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