Posted by Charity on June 12th, 2009

Green Mountain Daily has a post this morning about the upcoming health care reform battles.  It, of course, misrepresents the opposition to the “public option” because how else can the left win a debate on any issue other than mischaracterizing the opposition?  (You’ve gotta give them credit for being proactive, though.)

A “public option” would be a government payer (a la medicare or medicaid) as one of the menu choices. Obviously this makes subsidizing easier on the one hand, but also allows the feds more control over the types of coverage. Private insurers are afraid any public option would be too appealing and affordable and draw away business – and both opponents and proponents of a single payer system see this as a way to potentially facilitate a transition to such a model.

The bolded selection is my emphasis, obviously.  That’s the part that’s, let’s say, less than accurate.

How about this?

Private insurers are concerned that any public option will be given an unfair advantage and, as a result, look more appealing and affordable.

The public option will be artificially low in cost, as the current medicaid and medicare systems are.  There’s the obvious, that the public option has the advantage of tax payer funding, but that is not the only advantage.  The government does not pay fair market value for services rendered. This is possible because the rest of us are subsidizing it though our insurance or cash payments.

Once the public option entices unsuspecting consumers with her siren song of low, low prices, the private firms will be driven out of business and all of the sudden the public plan will be in a world of financial hurt, since there won’t be anyone around to offset the below-value payments.

Oh wait, the public option already is in a world of financial hurt.  How about we fix the public plan before we lure more people onto it?

Here’s an analogy the left ought to appreciate: The public option is like when Wal-Mart moves into a neighborhood and puts everyone else out of business with their artificially low prices.  And how does it get such low prices?  By forcing companies to charge them less, in exchange for doing business with the country’s largest retailer.  That’s exactly what the government does to doctors.

The public option: it’s the Wal-Mart of health care.

Sign me up!

Look, health care is expensive.  Next time you are at a hospital, take a look at all of the expensive equipment.  We have made amazing advances in medical science, all of which cost money.  If we want it, we need to pay for it.

Right now, private insurance is paying for most of it.  When private insurance is gone, the public plan will have to pony up the dough.  It’s either that or lower our expectations for care because it’s not going to come for free.

As P.J. O’Rourke says, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”

Posted by Charity on June 9th, 2009

I’d better get on that, eh?

I am having a really hard time blogging about politics these days.  And I don’t mean just because I have to wear these blasted wrist braces that go more than half way up my forearm.

I guess I heard one too many times that old saying, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

I have nothing nice to say.

I am completely baffled that, when faced with a president they believed was disastrous for the country, liberals were motivated to carp about it endlessly, day after day after day, for eight years.

My word, how did you live like that?  I think I would have killed myself.

Honestly, I just want to forget about politics and go hug my kids or make soap, or something.  Anything, but politics.

But then, I never did have that saving-the-world-through-blogging sense of self-importance you see so much on the left.

I do this for fun and, frankly, it hasn’t been fun to talk about politics lately.

I will though.  As soon as I get these homeschool portfolios ready for the ever-watching eye of the nanny state.  It’s real important stuff, like quizzes to prove that I teach my kids hygiene and proof they are getting physical education, and other complete wastes of our time.

But there I go again, fearing the government, like some kind of crazy right-winger.  It’s not like the over-bearing, ever-expanding government actually has a negative impact on my life or anything.

Bagh!  See what I mean?  Nothing nice to say.

Posted by Charity on June 5th, 2009

I am sorry that I left you all wondering what happened to me.  Thank you, those of you who e-mailed.  I really should have posted something.

As I mentioned, I have been having hand pain recently.  I did see a rheumatologist about it and I have hypermobility, which is putting too much stress on my tendons, mostly when I use the computer.

I do have wrist splints now, so I will get back to posting after the weekend, even though typing with these blasted things on is a real hassle.

Meanwhile, here is an open thread.  I will start the conversation out with a comment from Doug Hoffer in response to the post, A Warning to High-Tax States.  Comments were closed, so Mr. Hoffer e-mailed me his thoughts.  I’ll drop it in a comment on this post.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you have a great weekend!

Posted by Charity on May 19th, 2009

It seems like everyday I wake up in backward world.  Up is down.  Down is up.  People who pay their bills on time and spend within their means are the bad guys, and people who don’t are the victims.  And it’s the government’s job to rescue people from their own financial screw-ups.

First, we have the home mortgage borrowers, high risk-taking insurance giants, and the poorly-run auto makers.  Now, it’s the people who run up their credit cards and fail to pay them off.

And guess who pays for it?  The fiscally responsible.

Now that Congress is making it “fair” for people with massive credit card debt, allowing them to avoid high interest rates, the folks who use credit cards responsibly will help pay for it.

Banks are expected to look at reviving annual fees, curtailing cash-back and other rewards programs and charging interest immediately on a purchase instead of allowing a grace period of weeks, according to bank officials and trade groups.

“It will be a different business,” said Edward L. Yingling, the chief executive of the American Bankers Association, which has been lobbying Congress for more lenient legislation on behalf of the nation’s biggest banks. “Those that manage their credit well will in some degree subsidize those that have credit problems.”

Yeah, that’s fair.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to be fiscally responsible in this culture?  It’s hard.  You go without.  Not only that, but you go without while everyone else gets lots of stuff you wish you had.  It takes discipline and sacrifice.  But you do it because it is the right thing to do and you will be better off in the long run.

Until the government comes along with its bailouts and regulations and you end up paying for other people’s lack of responsibility.

Awesome.

What ever happened to rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior?

See what I mean?  Backward world.

Posted by Charity on May 18th, 2009

The Vermont Legislature will be back for a special session next month to deal with the state budget.

In the meantime, certain members of the legislature would be well served to read the WSJ piece, Soak the Rich, Lose the Rich.

As the title implies, the column focuses on the consequences for states that solve their budget gaps by raising taxes on the “rich.”

Here’s the problem for states that want to pry more money out of the wallets of rich people. It never works because people, investment capital and businesses are mobile: They can leave tax-unfriendly states and move to tax-friendly states.

That’s the bottom line, but there’s also data to back that claim up.

Updating some research from Richard Vedder of Ohio University, we found that from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas. We also found that over these same years the no-income tax states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.

There is so much more.  I recommend reading the whole piece, especially if you happen to be in the Vermont legislature.  It’s really not that long.

Here’s another excerpt, just in case you don’t read the whole thing.

We believe there are three unintended consequences from states raising tax rates on the rich. First, some rich residents sell their homes and leave the state; second, those who stay in the state report less taxable income on their tax returns; and third, some rich people choose not to locate in a high-tax state. Since many rich people also tend to be successful business owners, jobs leave with them or they never arrive in the first place. This is why high income-tax states have such a tough time creating net new jobs for low-income residents and college graduates.

But that would never happen here, would it?

(Hat tip: Ace of Spades.  I also saw this linked over at Vermont Tiger.)

Posted by Charity on May 16th, 2009

I have another blog called, All Things Hold Together, where I post about cooking, crafting, soap making, and other things near and dear to my heart.

One of the perks of that blog is that people sometimes send me books to review, and it’s a mighty fine perk if you ask me.

Currently, I am reviewing The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food — Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation’s Food Was Seasonal, Regional, and Traditional — From the Lost WPA Files, by Mark Kurlansky.

The book is a collection of essays, stories, and recipes written for “America Eats,” a project that was undertaken by the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal era program that employed out-of-work writers.  With the American entry into World War II, “America Eats” was never completed.

In The Food of a Younger Land, Kurlansky presents what he found to be the most interesting pieces from the “broad and rich mountain of copy” generated for the project, along with the history of the America Eats project and his own commentary.

I will let you know when my review is posted, if you are interested, but the reason I mention this here is because the book starts off with a couple of short sections on Vermont, that I found very interesting.  The text was written during a very different time, when Vermont was still a very agricultural-based state and the pretentious flatlanders had yet to settle here.

I thought you’d all get a kick out of the following quote.

As a rule Vermonters are not enthusiastic about salads or fish, favorites with the sophisticated, although Vermont gardens and Vermont lakes and streams offer a wealth of possibilities for both dishes.  Fancy foods and frothy things are not popular in the state, whose people go for plain, solid, substantial foodstuffs.

The Vermont recipes in the book are as charming as they are plain, solid, and substantial.  I cannot wait to try a few.

Posted by Charity on May 15th, 2009

Sometimes, if I have a long drive to take in the afternoon, I will put on Rush Limbaugh to see what he’s talking about.

One day, he was talking about the Obama personal finance plan, or something like that.  He said that you should not try to get your spending under control, but continue to spend beyond your means and put everything on credit, max out your credit cards, take out loans, etc.

It was a joke, obviously, based on the fact that President Obama is borrowing against our country’s future to fund massive government spending.

I don’t think Rush has any idea how close he was to the real Obama family finance history.

In April 1999, they purchased a Chicago condo and obtained a mortgage for $159,250. In May 1999, they took out a line of credit for $20,750. Then, in 2002, they refinanced the condo with a $210,000 mortgage, which means they took out about $50,000 in equity. Finally, in 2004, they took out another line of credit for $100,000 on top of the mortgage.

Tax returns for 2004 reveal $14,395 in mortgage deductions. If we assume an effective interest rate of 6%, then they owed about $240,000 on a home they purchased for about $159,250.

This means they spent perhaps $80,000 beyond their income from 1999 to 2004.

The Obama’s adjusted gross income averaged $257,000 from 2000 to 2004. This is above the threshold of $250,000 which Obama initially used as the definition of being “rich” for taxation purposes during last year’s election campaign.

The Obama family apparently had little or no savings during this period since there was virtually no taxable interest shown on their tax returns.

No wonder he wants us all to bail out deadbeat mortgagees.  Apparently, he sees nothing wrong with borrowing beyond your means.

Posted by Charity on May 14th, 2009

This is a little old, but I thought it was interesting.  A teacher challenged her homeroom students to spend a week without their electronic devices and journal about it with good old fashioned pen and paper.

It’s amazing how accustomed to the constant stream of electronic media kids are these days.

“I can’t stand it,” he wrote in his journal on the second day of a one-week attempt to survive without television, iPods, cellphones, BlackBerrys and computers. “I woke up last night but I was still kind of asleep and I was having a dream about my phone and I started to bang my head against the pillow. I AM GOING CRAZY!!!”

They survived and even discovered that there is more to life than electronics, such as reading, family, and even birds.

Without her headphones blocking out the real world, Flor Salvador heard strange chirping sounds.

“I didn’t know we had birds!” she wrote in her journal.

Posted by Charity on May 7th, 2009

I haven’t been blogging much the past week because I have some kind of weird joint flare-up in my right hand and it hurts a lot after I have been on the computer for any length of time, even a few minutes.

It’s kind of freeing to be out of the loop on political news, though.  That stuff drives me crazy.

My situation has me thinking about our health care system in the US and the push to reform it.

I went to my doctor Monday about my hand.  I had forgotten that my co-pay increased from $15 to $20.  I remarked that it was a small price to pay for the care available to me.  It really is.  Obviously, we pay more than that for our monthly premium, and my husband’s employer pays even more than that, but what is it worth to me to be able to see a doctor within days of calling?

After examining me and ordering some blood work, the doctor referred to a rheumatologist.  My appointment is in three weeks.

I was curious what the wait times are on such a non-urgent condition in Canada.  Anecdotally, via message boards, people report waiting 4-6 months to see a rheumatologist.  One person said 6-9 months.  The Arthritis Community Research & Evaluation Unit reported, “In 2000, Ontarians with non-urgent arthritis waited an average of 10 weeks for an initial rheumatology consultation,” but I didn’t find anything more recent from them.

I worry that a shift to a health insurance system administered by the government will increase the wait times we experience here in the US, not just for rheumatology, but for everything.

Another concern I have is that we will see a two-tiered system, with only the rich having access to health care in a timely manner, and the rest of us being forced to wait for care.

I agree that we need changes in our health care/insurance system, but utilizing the government to equalize the system is not the answer.  The government’s version of equality usually involves bringing everyone down.

Some changes that would be beneficial are:

  • Universal insurance forms, to reduce administrative costs for doctors and hospitals.
  • De-coupling insurance from employment, so people can take their policy with them when they change jobs or become self-employed.
  • Making all health insurance related costs tax deductible and allowing the costs to be taken out of our paychecks pre-tax.
  • Loosening regulation on what types of policies are available.  Allowing catastrophic policies.  Allowing a la carte options, instead of mandating what must be covered.

There is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to reforming heath care in America.  We have the best, fastest, most innovative health care system in the world.  Let’s keep it that way.

Posted by Charity on May 6th, 2009

A group of college students said they are lucky to be alive and they’re thanking the quick-thinking of one of their own. Police said a fellow student shot and killed one of two masked me who burst into an apartment.

No wait, that is why we need citizens to be allowed to arm themselves.

The intruders were apparently planning to rape the women and kill all 10 of the people in the apartment for a birthday party when the break in occurred.  That is, until they were shot by one of the hostages, who had a gun in his backpack.