Thursday Highlights

Back home, whoo hoo. Links?

  1. Medicare and FICA aren’t taxes? FICA is 15% and Medicare 5% … so that makes 20% to start.
  2. Energy and a pipe.
  3. Speaking of energy.
  4. Sex and discrimination and a case of abuse ignored.
  5. Speaking of sex roles, looking at advice from more than a century past.
  6. If this was fiction, we wouldn’t find it credible. And … by the way … we’re all just softies and wimps.
  7. Cost control failure.
  8. Some advice from a noted Alexandrian ascetic.
  9. More from a different one here.

8 responses to “Thursday Highlights

  1. 2.Energy and a pipe.

    I’m generally sympathetic to the pipeline, but the decision to say no was the right one. Congress basically gave the pipeline a pass on the rules because of oil money lobbying and the President said if you’re going to force a decision then its going to be no unless its done right. Sorry it ‘takes years’ but look if I wanted to build a house from scratch today the entire process will probably take months up to a year (provided nothing really goes bad). Here you’re talking about laying a pipeline ‘cross hundreds to thousands of miles of land. As tedious as it is, it should be done right now because it will be much more expensive to fix or reroute after it’s already operational.

  2. 7.Cost control failure.

    Not really sure what to make of Megan. She has good research skills but poor thinking skills.

    Personally I think ‘cost control’ with medical care rests on some faulty assumptions. We spend our money today on a mix of different types of things ranging from fast food, to video games, to cell phones, to homes, to cars and so on. Ten years ago we did the same, so it was 20, 30, 40 years ago and so on. Now that mix of things has never been fixed. For example, we spend much more on phones today than we did in 1970. But we spend much less on typewriters. We call the increase portion that health spending has ‘out of control costs’ but all it really is is reallocating costs. We spend less on some things and more on medical care. We do the same with cell phones, yet we don’t hear about ‘out of control phone costs’, possibly because cell phone improvement is easy to measure in real time. The doctor today looks quite a bit like the doctor in 1970 (well almost, today they are more likelyto be a woman or a non-white person than they were in 1970…other than that they look the same. They wear the white coat, have bad handwriting and so on). But they are world’s apart.

    So I’m all for trying to find cost control but I’m not for demanding it anymore than I’d be for demanding ‘phone cost control’. It very well may be that health care will continue to grow faster than the rest of the economy, which means its role in the economy will continue to expand and others will decline. So what? The role of agriculture in the economy never recovered from the full onset of the industrial revolution. We have no trouble feeding ourselves even though 98% of people are not employed in any way in the production of raw food.

    That being said, Megan isn’t really looking at the role played by the Medicare Payment Advisory Board nor accountable care organizations which get paid not by the procedure but by the portfolio of patients they manage. Pilot programs that offer to increase preventative medicine, patient education or doctor-patient interaction are worth trying but it’s unclear they can work to any great degree. I’m all for trying dozens of them, though, because there’s always the possibility of stumbling upon a silver bullet

  3. 3.Speaking of energy.

    Looks cool to me, I always wondered why wind energy couldn’t be made more reliable by simply keeping the generator airborn? The idea I envisioned would be something like a huge kite or blimp tethered to the ground. Up there it could enjoy near constant wind allowing it to generate ‘base load’ power. It could also be brought down or shifted should an oncoming storm make it a hazzard.

  4. Medicare and FICA aren’t taxes? FICA is 15% and Medicare 5% … so that makes 20% to start.

    I think what’s he is doing is including that, but at the same time including SSI and Medicare payments as income. While you do pay taxes on unemployment compensation, you usually aren’t taxed on other payroll benefits. While this income may not yet apply to you since you’re not yet on social security or medicare, it does make sense to include it in the calculation of the average tax rates different types of people pay.

  5. Boonton,
    That doesn’t make sense. We’d have “negative” taxes if you subtract out government spending from what we pay.

    On #2

    Here you’re talking about laying a pipeline ‘cross hundreds to thousands of miles of land. As tedious as it is, it should be done right now because it will be much more expensive to fix or reroute after it’s already operational.

    Hmm. You’re not being consistent. You supported pass the bill and fix it later just a little while ago. Why not here as well? Hmmm?

  6. Boonton,
    Oh, that “negative” isn’t based on cash in/out but just that the government is (unwisely?) spending almost twice half again as much as it’s taking in via taxes.

  7. That doesn’t make sense. We’d have “negative” taxes if you subtract out government spending from what we pay.
    It’s not so much about a negative income tax. You’re computing a percentage….so you’re taking taxes paid and dividing by income. Now you have to simply include income. You don’t say, for example, that the CEO of Boeing’s income should be deducted against some portion of his earnings that are due to gov’t spending you simply take his total income and use that as the base to figure out what % he is paying in tax.

    Likewise, say your daughter is making $20K a year from her part time job or whatnot. You take her taxes and divide by $20K. But what abou ther grandmother who may be getting $20K in Social Security benefits. She too has income of $20K a year but her taxes are probably much lower, maybe even zero. That is why you are seeing people at the bottom of the income scale having average tax rates that are less than the FICA/payroll tax rate.

  8. Hmm. You’re not being consistent. You supported pass the bill and fix it later just a little while ago. Why not here as well? Hmmm?

    Chalk this up to the fixed costs incurred by changing things. Consider deciding that you don’t like the color of paint in your living room versus deciding that you want your house to have an additional story on it (or even better, deciding that your two story house would be better off as a one level ranch!). No big deal to paint your living, it’s quite another deal to add or subtract a level from an already built house. In fact, being able to change the color of your living room every few years is a feature, not a bug.

    Once you lay a pipeline, it’s very expensive to reroute it. Changing a tax rate or altering a payment schedule, in contrast, is not moving mountains….which you might literally have to do with a pipleline!

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