“Insurance” Costs

My Medicare-aged wife broke her wrist, which necessitated surgery, and our health plan provider sent us an accounting of the costs involved.  Following are the high points of those costs.  It’s necessary to emphasize that the surgery is relatively routine following a wrist “fracture,” since the wrist is little different from a sack of pig’s knuckles, and where the arm bones, the ulna and radius join the wrist is more of an abutment than a joining.  The “fracture” was more of a slight jumbling of those pig’s knuckles and small breaks of the ends of the ulna and radius; the surgery was to rearrange the knuckles and repair the fractures with a plate and some bolts.  Really quite routine and minor (save the post-op pain and the long recovery time and discomfort); that emphasizes the nature of the costs.

The Cynicism of the Left

And it’s especially stark in the season.  The Wall Street Journal has taken note of the “charities” of the Left and their negative attitude toward the just enacted tax reform.

“The tax code is now poised to de-incentivize the heart of civic action in America,” Dan Cardinali, president of Independent Sector, a left-leaning lobby for philanthropic outfits, told the Washington Post. “It’s deeply disturbing.”

Cardinali is projecting. Most of us donate time and/or money because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s part of our Judeo-Christian obligation to help the least among us, not because we expect some sort of reward for doing so.

Paul Krugman Struck Again

An oldie but goodie that demonstrates the awesome durability of the New York Times‘ writer’s acumen.  Uncovered by my wife.

Deficits as Cudgel?

Gerald Seib says that’s what the Progressive-Democrats in Congress fear the Republicans will use them for.

Democrats worry that Republicans will simply use the rising deficits they are creating as an excuse to cut government spending on domestic programs important to Democrats—in the vernacular, that the tax bill will “starve the beast” of the federal government of the money it needs to keep spending at current levels.

I certainly hope those deficits will be used as the reason for cutting government spending.  The Federal government spends way too much of our money, and it does so without regard for whose money it is and without regard for the amount of revenue that taxes bring in—deficit spending is enthusiastically pursued regardless of tax rates or revenues.

The Disappointing Joe Manchin

Senator Joe Manchin (D, WV) seemed, initially, like a center-left Democrat and a man who was capable of bipartisan work when he came on the scene a few short years ago.  Recall, for instance, his firm support of our 2nd Amendment and his opposition to much of Obamacare and to then-President Barack Obama’s (D) war on coal.

Now, though, he’s a proud member of the Progressive-Democratic Party’s caucus in the Senate, and the conflict between his claimed values and his voting against the just passed tax reform bill is showing.

Spotify and Crony Capitalism

Spotify AB wants to do an initial stock offering, an IPO, on the New York Stock Exchange, and the company wants to do it without benefit of bank underwriters.  Oddly, the NYSE has to ask the SEC for permission to amend its own rules to allow this.  Even more strange, the SEC is dithering over granting that permission—to allow the private enterprise, the NYSE, to conduct its own business as it sees fit, and more proximately, to allow the private enterprise, Spotify, to conduct its business as it sees fit.  The SEC is claiming, with a straight face, that it has until the middle of February to make up its mind.

Ex-Im Bank Nominee Confirmation

The Senate Banking Committee rejected Scott Garrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Export-Import Bank.  The Wall Street Journal is casting that as “a win for crony capitalism” on the grounds that as a New Jersey Congressman, Garrett had twice voted against renewing the Ex-Im charter.

It’s not the end of the world, though; far from it. Confirming the nomination of a guy who doesn’t like the Ex-Im would have been better, but absent a quorum, which this refusal to confirm extends, the bank is unable to approve financing arrangements over $10 million.  This not a bad outcome; Ex-Im is well hamstrung, and that’s a good interim condition.

There’s More To It

As part of the (actually quite minor) snafu wherein the House and Senate passed trivially different versions of the tax reform bill, the Senate’s Parliamentarian ruled that 529 Savings Plans—modified by the tax bill to be usable for K-12 as well as secondary education expenses—cannot be used, on a straight majority vote, for K-12 homeschooling, even though formally schooled K-12 children and their parents can use the Plans.  Two icons of Progressive Democracy, Senators Bernie Sanders (I, VT) and Ron Wyden (D, OR), had objected and raised the matter to the Parliamentarian.

Progressive-Democrats and Taxes

The Wall Street Journal asked in their Sunday op-ed how it came to be that

the party of the Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960s and the co-writers of the Reagan reform in the 1980s [became] implacably opposed to pro-growth tax policy?

The WSJ‘s editorialists should know better.  This isn’t their (or your or my) grandfather’s Democratic Party.  This is the Progressive-Democratic Party of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and all of its rank-and-file politico members.

Good for Workers, Good for Business

Recall the National Labor Relations Board’s case of a couple of years ago, Browning-Ferris Industries.

Browning-Ferris concerned a recycling center staffed by contractors. The original [NLRB] ruling found the contractors were jointly employed by a staffing firm and Browning-Ferris.

This ruling, if allowed to stand (the case also is in the Federal court system) would have allowed contractors like those at Browning-Ferris, McDonald’s, and any other franchise-centered corporation not only to form unions at individual franchises (which they’ve always been able to do), but also to form a grand union across the corporation.