A Bit More on Health Care Coverage

Senator Susan Collins (R, ME) is worried about health care plan availability to our poor, which she thinks would be endangered were President Donald Trump to act on his thoughts regarding cutting off the funds the Feds pay to health coverage plan providers to get them to charge (artificially) lower deductibles and copays from the poor.

It really would be detrimental to some of the most vulnerable citizens if those payments were cut off. They’re paid to the insurance companies, but the people that they benefit are people who make between 100% and 250% of the poverty rate.

Obamacare and Choice

There are 3,142 counties and equivalents (Louisiana has parishes, Alaska has boroughs, three States each have an independent city, Virginia has 38 of them, and State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations does things entirely differently) in the US.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expects that 40 of those counties will have no health care coverage plan providers at all in 2018, and 1,332 of those counties—over 40% of them—will have only one such provider.

What Do Teachers Unions and the NAACP Have Against Poor Children?

Richard Whitmire, a contributor to The 74, offered some information that might bear on the question in his piece in The Wall Street Journal.  The National Education Association and the NAACP both oppose charter schools, the one because they don’t use union teachers and the other because they attract poor kids to charters and away from inner city public schools in which the NAACP is so politically invested.  In other words, because as Whitmire put it, charters upset the comfortable status quo of these adults.

Sanctions and Wariness

Congress has passed and sent to President Donald Trump a bill that increases sanctions against Russia, particularly its energy sector, and against Iran and northern Korea.  It also adds limits Trump’s ability (and State’s) to ratchet those sanctions up or down in real time in response to Russian—or Iranian or northern Korean—behavior, a fillip that adds a question to whether he’ll sign it (his veto likely would only delay the thing; the bill was passed with veto-proof majorities in both houses).

Germany is “wary” of those sanctions.

The Betrayal of Lisa Murkowski

Lisa Murkowki is a Republican Senator from Alaska who voted against even opening debate on repeal and replace of Obamacare.

Murkowski has betrayed her constituents.  She betrayed them this week by trying to block debate on repeal and replace.  Or, she betrayed her constituents when she lied to them in 2015 with her vote in favor of repeal in the full knowledge that her vote didn’t matter because then-President Barack Obama (D) would veto the matter.

200 Years of History, Summarized

This set of graphs, via Mark Perry at AEIdeas, tells the tale.  The full article is Max Roser‘s at Our World in Data.

The graphs are easier to read in Roser’s article.  Following are Perry’s “captions” for each of the graphs.

  1. In 1820, 90% of the world population lived in extreme poverty vs only 10% today.
  2. In 1820, 83% of the world population had not attained any education vs 14% today.
  3. In 1820, 88% of the world population was illiterate vs only 15% today.
  4. In 1820, 99% of the world population was not living in a democracy vs 44% today.

Labor Under the Radar

Rather, a labor reform bill making its way (too slowly, IMHO) in the House.  The bill has some interesting items in it:

  • require unions to obtain permission from workers to spend their dues on purposes other than collective bargaining
  • mandate a recertification election upon the expiration of a collective-bargaining agreement if a workforce has turned over by more than 50%
  • take card-check off the menu of options for holding a union election
  • allow employees to withhold their personal contact information from unions

What’s not to like?

What’s holding up the bill?

Space-Based Defense

LtGen James Abrahamson, USAF (Ret) and Ambassador Henry Cooper, who were directors on President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, had some thoughts on this in their recent Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor.

Brilliant Pebbles, the space-based interceptor we advocated, promised a high probability of kill (over 90%) of all of a “limited” strike of up to 200 attacking re-entry vehicles—the number then controlled by a Russian submarine commander. It’s better than anything we have today. It became the SDI era’s first formally approved ballistic-missile defense system, with a validated cost estimate of $10 billion in 1988 dollars (now $20 billion) for concept definition and validation, development, deployment and 20 years operation of that constellation of 1,000 Brilliant Pebbles. This isn’t expensive….

Brexit Works

It’s already paying dividends for the EU in the form of potentially extensive free market reforms as the continent begins to compete with a freed Great Britain for commerce.  Here are some doings in the competition for the financial industry currently centered in Great Britain.

France has promised changes to cut labor costs and Italy is changing its tax regime to make it less burdensome for bankers and other professionals. Spain’s markets regulator is trying to make Madrid more international by hiring native English speakers to revise and edit all communication the agency sends out in English.

Minimum Wage and Automation

Is technology—automation—really going to kill jobs?  No.  As many, including me, have written before, automation is only going to shift the nature of jobs.  Minimum wage laws are killing jobs, and will continue to and at increasing rates, by making robots cost effective despite their high up-front costs.

Wal-Mart, for instance, used to employ humans to track individual stores’ cash and manage their books.  Now at roughly 4,700 Wal-Marts, roughly 4,700 of those employees have been replaced by a machine that can track the books and while counting bills and coins at rates of 480 and 3,000 per minute, respectively.  Because it’s Wal-Mart, those folks, where they’ve wanted to, have taken jobs elsewhere in their store at the same pay, but those jobs are at risk, too.  Cashiers are being replaced by automated check-out stands, for instance.