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

WSJ Misleads Its Readers, Defends Big-Government on Student Loans

Alan Collinge of StudentLoanJustice.Org” and I go back a long ways. I have sponsored his posts at Angry Bear. Other sites have done the same. The point to all of his words in unfair practices by nonprofit and for profit higher education schools with regards to student loans before and after college. There is no escape from Student Loans. Thank you Joe Biden.

The Wall Street Journal editors recently published an editorial, The Great Student Loan Write-Down, in which they cite a recent Congressional Budget Office report claiming the government is going to be forgiving over $200 Billion in student loan debt over the next decade. They also cites another CBO report which uses so-called “fair value” accounting to claim the government will be losing $11 Billion from the lending system over roughly the next decade. Judging from the angry vitriol in the comments under this editorial, the WSJ certainly succeeded in awakening the indignation of its conservative readership.

The astonishing truth is the assumptions upon which the WSJ and the CBO reports are resting their claims on are false. In fact, the opposite of what they are claiming is true. WSJ readers, and the public at large should be very concerned by what follows. Past the leap, IBRs and “fair value” costing.

Comments Off on WSJ Misleads Its Readers, Defends Big-Government on Student Loans | |

Near Where I Live

If you not seen it in the news at night, online, or in a physical newspaper; there was an incident which occurred not far from my home which I believe is important. Washtenaw County is south of where I live (Livingston County) and is a blend of ethnicity, different cultures, citified spots, and rural areas. In it is Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor is a hotspot for liberal attitudes and consequently  .   .   .  Democrats. The whole area from Detroit westward to Ann Arbor and north into Livingston County is changing.  While this is not a story about Livingston County, the county residents there are afraid of the change which a proposed light rail service going into Ann Arbor from Livingston and then Detroit which could carry people to work   .   .    .    would bring. The train would go both ways.

Michigan coming into the 21st Century (finally) is scary for people accustom to driving as lone passengers in  too big, too fast, too often pickup-trucks and “suvs” everywhere including work.  The growing population is changing  both counties from rural farming to suburban/urban. It screams for other modes of transportation and living.

This is a long introduction  to the ” rest of the story.”

I live in Livingston County which is situated north of Washtenaw County. Besides Ann Arbor there are a number of small communities surrounding Ann Arbor, which are growing, and slowly crowding out the rural farm areas. There is an influx of Black and Hispanic citizens moving into these areas which has newer and less costly homes which would not be found in the wealthy belt surrounding Detroit. The schools are having to make room for other cultures and races. Saline is one of the growing communities with a population of ~10,000.

Comments (2) | |

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 28, 1869

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 28, 1869

Note: I have fallen a little behind, due to traveling. My apologies! I am making a concerted effort to catch up. Today’s installment is particularly important on the issue of gerrymandering.

On January 28, Rep. Charles Stewart, a Republican from New York, spoke with reference to the proposed Amendment that had been voted out of the Judiciary Committee, which had been amended from:

No State shall deny or abridge the right of its citizens to vote, and hold office, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

to read:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote, and hold office, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Here is a brief excerpt from his speech:

Comments Off on Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 28, 1869 | |

Which Lie Is The Worst?

Which Lie Is The Worst?

With the conclusion of the Trump defense in his impeachment trial, the question arises as to which lie told by the defense is the worst?

Sean Hannity has been emphasizing four in particular.  In the first, he claims that there was no linkage between military aid and investigating the Bidens in the July 25 phone transcript.  But there it is in black and white that when Zelensky mentioned wanting more military aid, Trump immediately goes to “I need a favor though,” and with that immediately followed up by his demand for inveatigating the supposedly missing laptop with mention of investigating Bidens coming a bit later.

Then we have the true claim that Zelensky has never publicly said he felt “pressure” from Trump.  Indeed, but we know no way would he say so as long as he wants aid.

Then we have the claim that Zelensky knew nothing about this before the July 25 phone call.  But in fact numerous witnesses have testified that he did and was fully aware of what was coming (more or less) when he participated in the July 25 phone call. This one is an outright lie.

Comments (1) | |

Other Immigration Issues Here and Elsewhere

From SWI, Swiss news: Switzerland’s House of Representatives has rejected an initiative by the right-wing Swiss “People’s Party” to limit immigration and cancel a deal with the European Union on the free movement of people.

Albert Rösti, head of the Swiss People’s Party warns that “uncontrolled” immigration could increase the current 8.5 million Swiss population to ten million and place additional pressure on infrastructure and the environment. It also says free movement of people encourages employers to recruit foreigners at cheap rates rather than Swiss people.

Sound familiar?

Per SwissInfo.ch , Switzerland faces a “shortage of workers 10 years out according to the Swiss Employers’ Association which warned Switzerland could face a shortage of 700,000 workers in ten years’ time.  Immigration is a key to plug the gap.”

To help close the potential gap, professionals possessing engineering backgrounds will be needed with a priority on civil and electronic engineering being the most important. Also technical skills in such fields as heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning have moved up from third to second place in needed skills followed by fiduciaries, auditors, and IT ability. These types of capabilities and skills are not possessed by present day migrants coming to Switzerland.

Comments (11) | |

US Firearm Related Mortality

New analysis of 1999-2017 firearm deaths looks at changes in each state and within age, gender and racial/ethnic groups

Nationally, firearm-related mortality rates increased in period 2015–2017 after remaining relatively stable in period 1999–2014. Firearm mortality increases can be seen in “most” states and the demographics to the mortality seen in varying degrees. The increases suggest a worsening epidemic of firearm mortality geographically and demographically abroad. In both time periods, the fractions of firearm deaths due to suicide and homicide remained consistent.

In order of magnitude, the rates of homicides, suicides, and unintentional deaths incurred in the United States are 25.2, 8.0, and 6.2 times higher than rates occurring in other developed countries. While remaining relatively stable from 1999 to 2014, the age-adjusted firearm mortality rates in the US increased for three consecutive years starting in 2015 as shown in Exhibit 1. One has to wonder why this could be.

Click on the image to enlarge.

The increases are also apparent across the nations demographics (race, sex, age), mechanisms of death (suicide, homicide, etc.), and are broken down by states across the nation which I will not be showing today. Well beyond a majority, the states saw increases and a few have experienced decreases. The Health Affairs study “US Firearm-Related Mortality: National, State, And Population Trends, 1999–2017,” is the first to define the mortality of deaths by state. The Health Affairs state detail is too massive to display here and the study is only open to subscribers. I believe the more important part of this study is the upturn in the death rate starting in 2015. One can only speculate what has brought on the increase.

After the leap, Methodology, Limitations, and Conclusions

Tags: Comments Off on US Firearm Related Mortality | |

Is Progressive Idealism Self-Defeating?

Like many liberals, I am encouraged by the new energy of progressives and the growing political support for progressive causes.  But I also share the common worry that the idealism of progressives is in danger of becoming self-defeating (see, e.g., Judis and Edsall for two recent discussions).  That’s a problem, because the stakes are high and we don’t have much room for error.

As I see it, progressive idealism today has two manifestations, one political, one economic.  Political idealism manifests itself in a reluctance to acknowledge the scale of the political challenges progressives face, the scorched-earth opposition that awaits us, and the need to find potential allies among the not-so-progressive and to design policies and arguments that can win them over.

On the economic side, idealism makes progressives reluctant to take policy design seriously.  For example, there is a big gap between progressives and economists (including progressive economists) on carbon pricing and other aspects of climate policy.  There is also a gap on fiscal and budgetary policy, and on many other issues.  To some extent, this simply reflects the unavoidable fact that non-economists always find economics counter-intuitive – if they didn’t, we wouldn’t need economists.  But the problem today goes beyond this.  There is a strong tendency to rely on moralistic thinking, to assume that every wrong has an easy remedy and that good intentions can solve any problem.  This goes along with a resistance to thinking about tradeoffs, costs, and market-oriented solutions like carbon pricing, and a tendency to favor command-and-control policies and to ignore fiscal constraints.  I suspect that we have right-wing economists and politicians to thank for this state of affairs, but whatever its cause the rejection of careful economic thinking on the left is real.

Comments (1) | |

Rep Jayapal and Sen Sanders Have Introduced Medicare For All Bills: Part 2

Part 2 discusses why we must have the government issue payments to hospitals, clinics, etc. and also set the budgets for hospitals and this is how they are paid rather than billing multiple insurers and also patients. There is also only one payer. The later part is what I have been pounding on repeatedly. Forget prices and work with cost data. It is then we have a much clearer picture of the costs of healthcare and we can begin to control prices.

Rep Jayapal and Sen Sanders Have Introduced Medicare For All Bills: One Is a Lot Better Than the Other, Healthcare for All Minnesota, Kip Sullivan, May 8, 2019

What is an ACO and why is it a defect?

Congress included in the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (aka Obamacare) a section (Section 3022) requiring CMS to establish an ACO program within the traditional FFS Medicare program. It is not clear why Congress chose to use ACOs. Congress was warned in 2008 by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that ACOs would not save money for Medicare. The simplest way to describe ACOs is to say they are HMOs in training. Like HMOs, they are corporations that own or contract with chains of hospitals and clinics; they have the equivalent of enrollees; they attempt to keep their “enrollees” from seeking care outside their networks; they bear insurance risk (that is, they are paid on a per-enrollee basis and in exchange are obligated to provide medically necessary services to their enrollees); and because they are risk-bearing organizations, they generate overhead costs similar to those created by traditional insurance companies.

More on ACOs and the absence of Single Payer budgets past the leap

Comments (9) | |

News and Words that Caught My Eye this Week

Teacher of the Year‘ kneels during college football championship attended by Trump,”ABC News, January 16, 2020

During a ceremony honoring the 2019 “Teachers of the Year,” one in particular stood out.

The honoree from Minnesota, Kelly Holstine, chose to kneel during the national anthem at the NCAA football championship game on Monday, where the ceremony took place, “to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people,” according to a tweet she wrote, which included a photograph of her kneeling.

“Like many before, I respectfully kneeled during Nat’l Anthem because, ‘No one is free until we are all free,'” she wrote, referencing former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and citing a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Virginia school board refuses to ban Confederate flag” from the dress code, Today, Alyssa Newcomb, January 16, 2020

A Virginia school board is refusing a dress code ban on clothing showing the Confederate flag, despite the appeals of the board’s only black member.

The Franklin County School Board in Rocky Mount, Virginia, voted 7-1 on Monday against formally writing a ban on the Confederate flag into the dress code. The board cited Tinker vs. Des Moines, a 1969 case that ruled students were allowed to wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War and did not lose their right to free expression, even while attending school.

“In Franklin County, we do not have any documented cases of a substantial disruption caused by the Confederate flag

The Miseducation of the American Boy,” The Atlantic, Peggy Orenstein, January 15, 2020

I knew nothing about Cole before meeting him; he was just a name on a list of boys at a private school outside Boston who had volunteered to talk with me (or perhaps had had their arm twisted a bit by a counselor). The afternoon of our first interview, I was running late. As I rushed down a hallway at the school, I noticed a boy sitting outside the library, waiting—it had to be him. He was staring impassively ahead, both feet planted on the floor, hands resting loosely on his thighs.

My first reaction was Oh no.

It was totally unfair, a scarlet letter of personal bias. Cole would later describe himself to me as a “typical tall white athlete” guy, and that is exactly what I saw. At 18, he stood more than 6 feet tall, with broad shoulders and short-clipped hair.

Additional after the Leap

Comments Off on News and Words that Caught My Eye this Week | |

Coming for Your Coverage, Trump’s Plot Against Health Care Continues

Adapted from; “Trump’s Plot Against Health Care Continues, He is still coming for your coverage and lying about it.,NYT Opinion, Paul Krugman, January 13, 2019.

Trump in a tweet: “Mini Mike Bloomberg is spending a lot of money on False Advertising. I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare, you have it now, while at the same time winning the fight to rid you of the expensive, unfair and very unpopular Individual Mandate…..”

As one reporter noted, President Trump was not in office when the PPACA established a unpenalized right to healthcare even if you had pre-existing conditions. Much of Trump’s efforts since taking office has been to wipe away President Barack Obama’s legacy of which the PPACA was a major accomplishment in spite of the well known resistance to his even being in office coming from Republicans “even” before he took office. Due to President Trump’s efforts, key parts of the PPACA have been removed and legislation pushed through a majority Republican Congress attempting to repeal the PPACA. The DOJ is now attempting to have the PPACA repealed before . . . nope, now after the election so the blame can not impact it.

Prior to this latest lie by Trump, an earlier lie in 2019 had the Administration work through the CMS to take action against protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to let individual market insurers vary premiums and cost sharing based on “health outcomes.” A new CMS project allowed up to ten states to apply and then establish “health-continent wellness programs.” The state programs would let insurers vary premiums and cost sharing by as much as 30 percent based on upon an enrollee’s meeting designated health outcomes, a return to charging sick people more than healthy people.

So there has been an unending stream of efforts to repeal or stymie. (More Krugman after the leap)

Comments (1) | |