Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Want a Public Option? Guess Who is Fighting It!

Want a Public Option? Not So Fast, Say Health Insurers. Guess Who is Fighting It!

Much of this is from an Op-Ed at MedPage Today authored by Wendel Potter. I have added to it as Wendel discusses the impact of insurance as a major influence on healthcare cost. It is one sided and the commentary ignores increased healthcare costs (pharma, hospitals, healthcare supplies, and doctors). I have touched upon both at MedPage Today and here.

The nation’s largest healthcare insurers are making it clear to lawmakers of their opposition to campaign promises to establish a public option. Insurers are threating elected lawmakers with a massive, financed lobbying and PR campaign if they even try to pass a Public Option. In other words, the healthcare industry will lie to the public.

A Bit of Healthcare History Advocacy

I do not recall the minutia of the healthcare insurance campaign in the nineties’ however, this sounds like the threat of a similar campaign akin to what happened with Hillarycare and also the ACA. The healthcare insurance industry produced the infamous television the “Harry and Louise” commercial in an effort to rally public support against Hillarycare.

If the commercial was run today minus the voiceover (“The government may force us to pick from a few health care plans designed by government bureaucrats“), it would never occur to TV viewers Harry and Louise were talking about anyone other than their healthcare insurance company.

The Harry and Louise ad failed to recognize in a democracy, government was never supposed to be a “we and they” proposition. The ad made it such. The “we and they” relationship should have been between the patient and the healthcare insurer.

The healthcare insurance industry won in 1993 and we experienced a doubling of the costs of healthcare and similar increases in the insurance costs to pay for it.

A Recent Correlation Regarding Political “Leadership” And The Coronavirus

A Recent Correlation Regarding Political “Leadership” And The Coronavirus

 The recent correlation I have noticed, with others commenting on it also, is that some of the most prominent nations with the most rapidly rising rates of coronavirus infections are led by somewhat authoritarian leaders who have recently dismissed the threat of it and engaged in policies that may have encouraged its spread.  The most dramatic examples are India, Brazil, and the Philippines.  

Last year India did not do too badly. It had only one wave, which was pretty well controlled by vigorous lockdown policies that sent many migrant workers from cities to villages. Increasingly authoritarian Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, he who is imposing Hindutva on the nation and suppressing various dissident voices. This apparent success led to a lot of complacency, with this marked by Modi holding mass rallies prior to upcoming elections, especially a sensitive one in West Bengal where Modi’s BJP is trying to take control of the state government.  But now there has been a dramatic outbreak of the coronavirus, setting records for the most infections in a day of any nation, topping 400,000. Reports have it that hospitals are overwhelmed, and Modi is facing serious criticism.

Coronavirus dashboard for April 26: reasons for optimism all around

Coronavirus dashboard for April 26: reasons for optimism all around

Let’s start with an overview of total cases and deaths in the US:

1.7 in every 1,000 Americans has died of COVID-19. 9.7% of the entire population has had a *confirmed* infection. Probably another 5% to 10% have been infected, but were never tested.

The US may have crossed an important vaccination threshold

The US may have crossed an important vaccination threshold

On Monday I noted that in Chile, where there had been a severe renewed outbreak of coronavirus despite an aggressive vaccination program, cases had plateaued, and this had occurred “when over 35% of the population had received at least one dose of vaccine, and 20% were fully vaccinated.”
Well, the recent upturn in cases in the US also seems to have plateaued:

And guess what? The plateau in the US started to happen about 10 days ago, when the US also reached 35% of the population having received at least one dose of vaccine, and 20% were fully vaccinated:

Coronavirus dashboard for April 19: Much great progress, and some problem children

Coronavirus dashboard for April 19: Much great progress, and some problem children


As an initial note, there is no significant economic data until Thursday this week, so don’t be surprised if I play hooky for a day or two….

Today let’s take a look at the latest coronavirus information.

There’s much progress on the vaccination front. I’ll let the CDC’s numbers speak for themselves:

Here’s the information graphically by age group as of last week:

Daunte Wright’s Killing Makes the Case for Shrinking Police Budgets

Naked Capitalism had this commentary up on its site as introduced by Yves Smith. I made some small editorial changes to further emphasize the two points Yves makes in the beginning and also some of the commentary in the article. Both parts are good reads.

To wit; If you are handcuffed and on the ground, you are killed. If you drive away, you are killed. If you run, then stop, and turn around with your hands up; you are killed. The common thread here is the victims are all Black Americans.

Daunte Wright’s Killing Makes the Case for Shrinking Police Budgets, Naked Capitalism, Yves Smith

Yves here. I don’t pretend to have any good answers for what to do about police brutality, particularly towards people of color. During the Presidential campaign, Biden backed even more police spending, no doubt to clam the nerves of the Dem’s professional-managerial class base. More unequal societies are lower trust societies, so the K-shaped recovery is only going to increase the perception of risk among the well off.

Two things to keep in mind:

First, is that the most troubling form of police militarization is their hiring of former soldiers. Any who have seen combat have been deeply acculturated to shoot at any threat. I don’t see how to undo that.

Second, is that some data suggests that abusive policing is concentrated among a relatively small proportion of the total staff. Malcolm Gladwell looked at the Los Angeles Police Department’s efforts to improve its long-established bad relationship with community due to over-use of force. They invested a lot of effort in training, only to find it had very little effect.

Further study showed why. The average cop was not behaving badly. A small number had many warning and citations. Gladwell argued that the remedy was to get these hotheads off the street as soon as their abusive tendencies surfaced.

But the culture of police forces as currently constituted all works against that. Cops are indoctrinated to stick together. Being a do-gooder is being a rat, and being a rat is a fast path to having no backup show up when you are in a tough spot (or having drugs or other incriminating evidence planted). So cops can’t call out the abusers in their ranks for fear of repercussions. And police unions mount vigorous defense of cops facing sanctions.

It is Ok to Lick Your Counter Top . . . Again

A few notes catching you up on stuff.

I would not recommend licking the counter top as it does not taste very good. In any case, the transmission of COVID-19 does not come from touching surfaces. And I am reiterating what I had read approximately a year ago.

The Atlantic‘s Staff Writer Derek Thompson reiterates what is pretty much known since the advent of COVID and ignored by many.

Deep Cleaning Isn’t a Victimless Crime” brings the point home in its content on surface contamination.

Risk of Being Killed by Police Varies by Your Ethnicity

A Healthcare Issue

Derek Chauvin trial live: Paramedic who responded to George Floyd told partner.

‘I think he’s dead.’

When paramedics arrived, Bravinder saw multiple officers on the side of the road on top of “our patient lying on the ground next to a squad car. He said he

“assumed there was potentially some struggle still since they were still on top of him.” 

“Prosecutor Erin Eldridge played a clip of officer Thomas Lane’s body camera video, which shows Floyd lying handcuffed, flat on the ground, on his stomach and unmoving as the paramedics bring over a stretcher. 

Bravinder is seen making a gesture with his hand, indicating that Chauvin needs to move his knee so that Floyd can be put on the gurney. Bravinder also tries to ensure Floyd’s head doesn’t slam into the ground while he’s moved because his body is limp, according to the video.”

You can only kill or murder a person once. Anything afterwards is a lack of respect for the humanity.

The link will take you to the article from which these snippets are taken from and leading off this post. What I wish to do today is post on the risk of confrontations and the resulting impact with the police. In most cases, a conversation with a police officer is a matter of intimidation.

Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex”

Being a numbers oriented person, I approach detail in a different manner. There are writers at AB who are far more nuanced (?) than I am. I am direct and I follow the numbers.

Whether cause related or not, police violence is a leading cause of death for young men in the United States. Over a life time, an approximate “1 in every 1,000″black men will (or can expect to) die from police intervention. “


The risk of dying from police intervention peaks between the ages of 20 and 35 years of age for men and women. This includes racial and ethnic groups. Separate from Black women and men, Latino men, American Indians, and Alaska Natives are more likely to die from police intervention than white women and men.

Race and Gender

Pandemic still in control

February JOLTS report showed a pandemic still in control

Yesterday morning’s JOLTS report for February showed that the pandemic was still in control of the numbers.
This report has only a 20 year history, and so includes only two prior recoveries. In those recoveries: 

  • first, layoffs declined
  • second, hiring rose
  • third, job openings rose and voluntary quits increased, close to simultaneously

The recovery from the worst of the pandemic almost one year ago at first followed this script, but the winter surge, which led to a few month of flat, or worse, jobs reports, disrupted that trend.

Layoffs have followed the above script, reverting to normal levels back in last May, and continuing at those levels since: